Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Friday, November 20, 2009  

All I'm sayin', pretty baby, is, for a few glorious hours this monkey went to Heaven. Big, big love.


9:49 AM

Wednesday, November 18, 2009  
Irony, thy name is Trillian.

Here I am having zero success finding a new job and teetering on the precipice of foreclosure, discarding, donating or boxing up my stuff for storage so that if/when I do foreclose I’ll be ready to leave. Yes. I’m prepping for homelessness.

So why, then, did I arrive from my parents’ with a bunch of stuff?

I don’t have an answer for that. Mainly to assuage my mother, I suppose.

And yes, I do have a storage unit that costs very little. Even if/when I’m homeless I think I can afford the monthly storage fee. I’m trying to figure out a way to hide from the security cameras and live there if necessary. Yes. My Plan B for foreclosure is spending nights in a storage facility. I suspect it’s happening a lot, these days.

So as my mother and I sorted and purged our family’s stuff from her house, the overused default for everything “we” “couldn’t part with yet” was, “It’s okay Mum, I can put it in my storage unit.”

And so it was that it came to pass that I returned to Chicago with tubs and boxes of stuff.

In fairness to my mother and the rest of my family, much of the stuff is my stuff. Stuff that’s been hanging around far too long at my parents’. Because it was easier, more convenient for me to leave it there than deal with it. Now it’s time to deal with it.

I turned a corner…I’m actually kind of glad some of my stuff got wrecked. It eliminated decisions or hesitation to get rid of it. Yes, by fate eliminating the stuff of my life, I eliminated more stuff in my life. There’s wisdom there, Zen or something, ridding oneself of possessions and all that. Except we’re not talking about valuable stuff, monetary value weighing me down. We’re talking about the cartoons and poems I created and got published in my school newspapers. We’re talking about a curl of snipped baby hair tied in a pink ribbon.

We’re talking about mix tapes.

Oh yes.

Mix tapes.

The one thing us GenXers have as ours and ours’ alone. Those two words, mix tape, evoke such strong emotions for such a distinct segment of the population. Oh sure, some Boomers “get it” and some Ys and Millennials are aware, but GenXers, well…mix tapes. They’re deeply rooted and entrenched in our psyches. Their significance goes beyond all reasonable articulation. Everyone, everyone of a certain age remembers making their first mix tape. And most of us of a certain age remember receiving their first mix tape.

For a generation of kids coming of age exactly as drugs and sex turned deadly, the mix tape became a way of expressing ourselves. Okay, sure, we were using other peoples’ words and music to express ourselves and yes, that’s kind of lame, but that’s us, isn’t it? That’s how we’re cast, isn’t it? Lame. What say you cut us a little slack? The very second we entered our rebellious experimental coming of age years was the very second the “fun” things about coming of age turned sinister. Pills and cocaine and AIDS were killing people right and left. Just as we were poised to experiment with drugs and lose our virginity drugs and sex got deadly. Story of our lives. GenXers truly cannot catch a break.

We just said no and we were scared celibate. Without drugs and sex we had few of the normal sources of releasing the tension of young adulthood. We reverted to what our grandparents did: We found solace and hope in booze and music. And right there to usher us through it was Sony with their Walkmen.

And thus the birth of the mix tape.

Here’s the equation:
1 disaffected, confused, frustrated teenager with raging hormones + 1 turntable or CD player + 1 “record” button + every penny earned spent on records or CDs + 1-three pack of blank recording tapes = weekends of deeply satisfying creative solace.

Who among us didn’t create a mix tape for the object of our affection? Whether or not we ever gave said tape to the object of our affection is another disaffected, confused, frustrated thing altogether. The point is, we made the mix tapes for the objects of our affections. Sometimes we even made mix tapes for the objects of our disaffection.

I once made a mix tape full of the most venomous hate filled songs I could find for a certain mean girl who made my life living Hell for far too many years. I fantasized about wrapping it in pretty paper with a romantic card with a forged signature of the boy she liked and sneaking it into her locker. She’d think it was a romantic mix tape from a cute popular boy, run home, play it, and boy oh boy would she be surprised!

Yes. Yes. I was a deeply troubled and disturbed young girl. I know this. We know this. But glass houses, people, glass houses.

And. In fairness to me, Beth and her sycophantic lackey cousin Renée were horrible, just horrible to me for no reason. You can hardly blame me for wanting to exact some revenge. Also in fairness to me, I made the tape but never followed through with the rest of my vengeful plan. Instead I just listened to the tape when Beth and her sycophantic lackey cousin Renée said or did something horrible to me.

Which was just about every day.

And thus the birth of escapism via music. Had I known I was cultivating a coping technique that would be employed throughout my adult life I’m not sure how I would have reacted back then. I’d like to think I would have been either proud of myself or scared to think I would need a coping technique. But I think I would have probably reacted with the disaffected apathy born of disillusionment and discontentment that plagued my adolescence. I keep thinking one of these days things will change and I can listen to music solely for the enjoyment of it rather than escaping and losing myself in it. (Casts a furtive glance around the room, looks expectantly at the front door, realizes change probably isn’t going to come knocking today, turns up the stereo.)

Among my teenaged stuff I found a box of tapes. I mean, whole mess o’ tapes. All of them lovingly, thoughtfully crafted. Agonizingly assiduous in the song choices and order, these tapes were labors of love but so much more, too. They were magnetic oxide envoys of GenX teenage angst and hope and fear. They matter. They meant something.

For me, they meant that I was an unpopular weird dork with few friends and nothing better to do than spend her allowance and odd job money on records and CDs and then spend all my free time compiling copious volumes of collected works. Listening to even one of those tapes would tell an obvious story of a girl trapped in a John Hughes movie-life. Minus the boyfriend and happy ending. And the kooky-but-fun friends. Read: 16 Candles without Michael Schoeffling or Michael Anthony Hall. Not very cute or funny or sweet or charming. Just deeply disturbing. More David Lynch than John Hughes.

(Which is exactly how I described my life back then, as witnessed in the poem that didn’t get published in the school paper, one I found in a notebook in the box with the mix-tapes, natch:

16 candles and a license to drive parents sleepless with worry and fear.
Finally alone at the wheel, out after dark, 16 candles but not so pretty in pink,
More David Lynch than John Hughes, she pushes on and on, over the brink.
Forget about me because I already don’t remember you, was I ever even here?

Or this lovely little elegy, also in the mix-tape notebook (good emo band name, by the way, appearing live with Dashboard Confessional, Mix-Tape Notebook)

You can’t love or hate or remember or forget what you don’t know exists.
Existential requiem of life stuck between post-punk and pre-whatever’s next.
Tomorrow, next week, a year from now will be different or better or worse.

Or exactly the same.

Okay. Sooooooo. Now we know why I had such difficulty making friends as a teenager. Not exactly little miss pep squad, was I?

The sad thing about this is that looking back on it, even now, I wouldn’t change much if I was given a do-over. I stand proud in my disaffection and self-indulgent angst. Especially since the alternative was in fact pep-squad. I was a socially awkward weird dorky misfit stuck in an existential requiem between post-punk and pre-whatever’s next. I knew it then, I know it now.

Okay. So. There I was with a box full of mix tapes, a couple notebooks of disturbingly bad poetry and a five hour road trip ahead of me.

What to do, what to do.

Horrible, horrible, Satanic daughter moment in 3-2-1:
“What’s in that box, Trill?” Mum asked.
“A bunch of cassette tapes from high school and college.”
“Oh! Now that is exciting! Are they okay? No water or mouse damage?” (Thanks Mum, just twist that knife a little why dontcha?)
“They appear to be okay. But…” wistfully trailing the sentence out longer than necessary.
“Oh no. What is it, darling?” (“Please God, show mercy on my youngest born, spare her precious tapes from damage. She has so little of her childhood left…” strongly implied.)
“It’s just, well, I don’t have a cassette player anymore. It’s been years since I had one, I don’t even know if they still make them.” (Knowing full well Target sells portable cassette players.)
“Oh! I’m sure we can find one! What about the hi-fi in Dad’s office? Doesn’t it have a cassette player? You can take it, I never use it and I’m sure no one else wants it.”
(Fighting the urge to lash out at my mother for calling the stereo a hi-fi. My mother insists on calling anything that plays music and is not a portable music player a hi-fi. It drives me swutting batshit. It’s driven me swutting batshit since I was a kid. We did have an actual hi-fi, but one thing my dad was always willing to part with cash on was decent audio equipment. We had a stereo system, an actual system long before anyone else I knew. And it bugged the crap out of me when my mother referred to it as a hi-fi. It was a stereo system, a complex modern audio system, not some swilly outmoded hi-fi,) “Ya know, I think you’re right, I think he does still have a cassette deck in there but I don’t know if it works. Maybe I’ll try it.” (Knowing full well there is a cassette deck that hasn’t worked for years.)

30 minutes later…
“Yeah, no, the cassette doesn’t work. The turntable’s good, though.”
“Oh! You should take it!”
“Maybe…maybe I’ll see if anyone else wants it and if not maybe I’ll take it.” (Knowing full well my brother and I have been avoiding the topic of my dad’s turntable because we both know we both want it and resentment is bound to occur no matter who ends up with it. It’s a beaut, a classic Yamaha.)
“But what about all your cassette tapes? You can’t play them on your hi-fi, can you?”
(Cringing, again, at the term hi-fi, and suspecting my mother is saying it to intentionally work my nerves.) “Oh, I dunno. Maybe I can find an old Walkman on eBay or something,” wistfully trailing the ‘on eBay or something…’ “Didn’t you want to go to Target?”
“Yes! Yes I did, I need a few things there.”
“Why don’t we take a break and go now?”

Two hours later I was listening to old mix tapes on a new cassette player.

I know. I know. I’m a horrible, Satanic manipulative daughter. I know. But you weren’t there. You didn’t see how much of my stuff was ruined via water or mouse damage. No, it wasn’t my mother’s fault. And if I had a job and an income I would just buy a cassette player. But right now a cassette player is a luxurious frivolity.

And let’s be real for a minute, here. The thing cost $29.99. I bought her a new Brita pitcher that set me back $24.95 and I took her to Panera so, you know, really, I think she’s coming out ahead in this whole deal.

And who bought a cassette player isn’t really the point, anyway.

The point is I have scads of mix-tapes to listen to and holy memory lane. Some are actually, you know, kinda good. I’m sorta proud of a few of them.

I was rocking through them, randomly pulling them out of the box, fast forwarding through some of the lamer songs when I got a serious jolt of nostalgia and pang of longing.

I finished a tape and fished in the box for another. I took one look at the tape and I knew. I knew what it was. And I was not prepared to be confronted with it.

There, in my hand, was The First Mix-tape a Boy Made Me.

Oh yes.

There was a boy.

A boy who made me a mix-tape.

Bet you didn’t see that coming. Especially given the Nexistentialism poem.

For every disaffected, disillusioned, confused, socially awkward, bad self-indulgent angst-ridden poetry writing, dorky weird girl in school there is a confused, socially awkward repressed homosexual boy. It’s an inverse axiom rule of physics and how the Universe works. It just is.

It was the summer of my 15th year. We’ll call him Chad. He was 17. He had a car and a better stereo than mine but really crappy records, most of them dancey disco records or original cast recordings from Broadway shows. And no, this didn’t signal any alarms or concerns for me because I was 15 and didn’t really “get it.” I don’t think he did, either.

I introduced him to college radio and my record collection.

In his car we made trips to Ann Arbor, the home of said college radio station so that we could spend hours pawing through bins of import records at my favorite place in the world, an indie record shop where nothing but college kids and musicians hung out. Once we went to Canada on a mission to procure a coveted import EP.

We planned our purchases so that we didn’t duplicate the records or CDs. Then we’d trade and record them. Sure, it’s “illegal” but it was more music bang for our limited high school bucks. And we reasoned that since we did purchase the records/CDs it wasn’t totally like stealing…and we weren’t recording them and selling them on the high school black market…

It was a fun summer. Chad, his car, music, Ann Arbor…the anticipation of getting my braces off in a few months…life wasn’t “good” but it wasn’t “bad,” either.

That fall we went back to school and I kind of sort of thought I had a boyfriend, what with all the trips to Ann Arbor (and Canada!) and sharing of LPs and everything. And we had first hour calculus together. I mean, in high school social terms that's huge. A first hour class together pretty much seals the deal because that’s where you get your locker assignment, so you see your first hour classmates all day long, and everyone who’s dating wants to have first hour with their boy/girlfriend. Duh.

Chad was very, very into the performing arts. He was president of Drama Club and a full fledged Thespian Society member. He was also a lead tenor in the school choir and held a coveted spot in the touring a cappella group. He was also a regular lead in the school plays. (Natch.) And no, no, I didn’t think anything was “funny” about all that music and acting, Chad was very outgoing and dramatic and he had a lot of charisma. And a good singing voice. Oh be quiet. I was 15. And for such a socially aware 15 year old I was incredibly sexually naïve.

Once school started much of Chad's extracurricular time was spent with choir and the school play. So I didn’t think anything was “odd” about the freshman girl who started hanging out at his locker before calculus. She was a thespian wannabe and I figured she was making nice with Chad to score points for a role in the Spring play.

That is until much to my young confusion and heartache Chad went to Homecoming with this freshman chick. Not that I really wanted to go to Homecoming. Sheesh. This is me we’re talking about. It’s just that for all Chad’s performing enthusiasm, he thought most high school stuff was trite and stupid, too. We shared that disaffection and disillusionment. On all those trips to Ann Arbor we weren’t all hopped up high in anticipation school activities. Instead we moaned about how lame it all was and plotted and planned our lives post-high school. But there he was, going to Homecoming with of all things, a freshman drama club girl. Aaaack. Apologies if you were a freshman Drama Club girl. But you know what I mean. You know the type. Eager. Showy. Loud. Even dorkier than me.

That first hour calculus room became very chilly very fast. Chad and I barely spoke from October - December. I mean, really, there's only so much indignity a girl can take, I had every right to ignore him. Completely.

So Christmas break rolled around, I was of course jubilant for that, happy to be rid of calculus and Chad for a few weeks.

And then, on Christmas Eve my dad came in with the mail, tons of Christmas cards for the family and one for me. And it was bulky. What could it be?

No return address... hmmmm. Odd.

I tore it open and out fell a cassette tape.

On one side in magic marker on the label was scrawled, "Whatever I did I'm sorry" and on the other, "I heard some new songs."


Bastard. Did the little freshman jezebel turn him on to new music?

Sorry? Oh yeah? I'll just bet.

I stubbornly refused to play the tape for several days. (“How dare he” strongly implied.)

I got a new Walkman for Christmas. Yeah. That rocked. Totally. Theretofore I’d been listening to my tapes on a cheap knock-off Walkman that had a broken forward button and was taped together with packing tape and Super glue. The new, real Walkman was a surreptitious gift from my dad. Good old Dad. He was always good about surreptition. He’d slip a twenty in my hand as he hugged me, or slide a drink my way when no one was looking or buy me a present my mother would never approve of. My mother didn’t know he bought the Walkman for me. When she found out about it she was surprised and kind of mad at my dad. For some reason…oh…right. Disaffected, disillusioned, monster of a teenage girl brooding around the house writing bad poetry with headphones blaring and blocking out all hope of communication.

Finally, on our Boxing Day trip to visit Canadian relatives, I took the tape and listened to it on my new Walkman.

And now, all these years later, there I was with a new Walkman, on a road trip with that very tape in my hand again.



Ya know, I had a lot of stress at my former job. Days were long and often difficult. I had to be creative on demand. I had to make a lot of decisions requiring fast-thinking and good judgment. I had to deal with clients with high expectations and uncooperative coworkers.

But the past few weeks dealing with all this stuff from my parents’ house makes me long for my former job, uncooperative coworkers included. The emotional minefields I’ve been navigating rival the stress level I had at my former job. A different kind of stress, obviously, but stress. And lots of it. Facing my past and all that. It’s rough turf.

I have the mix-tapes and bad poetry to prove it.

The emotional connection to mix-tapes is so strong because you have to invest a lot of time and effort into them. Nowadays you just drop and drag songs to a playlist and voila. Done. It takes a minute, two maybe if you have a lot of songs in your iTunes library. There’s no real time or effort involved. It's instantly gratifying but not as deeply satisfying as making a mix-tape.

With cassette tapes you had a finite amount of recording time on each tape. You couldn’t just choose a bunch of songs and record them. There was more to it than that. You had to use songs that were just the right length to fit each side of the tape. You might have the perfect first side last song, you know, musically or message-wise, but if you didn’t time the songs before it correctly you wouldn’t have enough tape to include the entire song on the tape. Oh the agony and heartbreak of the noise of the recording button flipping off because it ran out of tape before the last song finished. Nothing, and I mean nothing is more lame than a song cut-off because you ran out of tape. You have to start over.

And even when you had the timing all worked out there was still lot of work, a lot of yourself to put into the project. And that’s exactly what it was, a project. You had to hit pause, take off the record or CD after each song, put on the next record or CD, hit record, listen and watch dutifully for the end of the song, hit pause, and so on through two sides of the tape.

And that’s saying nothing of the music you actually choose to put on a mix-tape. Nick Hornby did a much better job of writing about song selections for mix-tapes, devoted a whole book to it, so I won’t go into it. Besides. You know what I mean. You have to have a broad range of musical knowledge and the record/CD collection to back it up. (Recording a mix-tape from the radio was even more lame than running out of tape mid-last song.) The mix-tape is where you show your emotional depth, your sensitivity, your knowledge of complete recordings, not just the hits.

First songs on first sides of mix-tapes are crucial. Absolutely crucial. They set the tone for the whole tape. There’s no way to redeem a bad choice there. If you get the first side first song wrong the whole tape is a failure.

The first song on Chad’s "Whatever I did I'm sorry" side of the tape? Well, after listening to it again I'm cracking up over it.

It all comes full circle: Messages, OMD. Dear, sweet, sensitive, closeted gay Chad used a song about communication to communicate with me. I remember the end part, the calllll meeeeeeee part, and how, even though I'd heard the song hundreds of times on our trips to Ann Arbor, suddenly it was all new and held much deeper meaning. He wanted me to call him!!! The ball was now in my court!!! Oh happy happy joy joy!!! He regreted the freshman thespian chick!!! I can somehow find it in my heart to forgive him!!! The new year’s gonna be great! I can’t want to get back from Canada and call Chad!!!

I didn't yet fully understand homosexuality or that Chad was struggling with his sexual identity. I thought this tape meant we were going to go steady and maybe even go to the prom. Ahem. Not that I wanted to go to prom. Lame. Super lame. But if I had to go to prom I’d want to go with Chad because he’d think it’s lame, too, and we could make fun of it together. We’d go to prom ironically.

I did call him. We patched things up, reached a détente.

But it was never the same. There was a distance between us, now. He was less interested in new guitar bands and more interested in synth dance bands. He put up a poster of Duran Duran in his locker.

And I became more aware of homosexuality. Chad was different. I didn't realize it in high school, I just thought he was weird like me. But when he came out three years later (in college, when I was a lot more savvy and sexually aware) I wasn't surprised.

What was my first clue? That he liked Frankie Goes to Hollywood, always had perfectly moussed hair, wore three polo shirts layered with collars standing up or that he was a thespian and in the chorus? It was a small town. We didn't do gay. We repressed it. I just thought he was different from other guys. Oh yes, he was.

We didn’t go to prom. Or rather, I didn’t go to prom. Ironically or otherwise.

Chad went with the freshman thespian jezebel. He called me three times that night from a payphone at the dance. The freshman thespian jezebel wanted to go out to the lake to a kegger and an all nighter at Jeff Larson’s parents’ cabin. Chad didn’t want to do that. The last phone call he made to me from prom went something like this,

“Hi. It’s me again. This is really super lame. You’re so lucky you’re not here. And there’s this kegger out at the lake, at Jeff Larson’s parents’ cabin. I don’t want to go but if you do I could come by and pick you up.”

“Uh, riiiiiight. You, me and (freshman thespian jezebel) at a prom night kegger at the lake. Um, don’t think so. And I don’t think that’s what (freshman thespian jezebel) has in mind, either.”

“She said she’s ready to have sex.”

“With you or in general?”

“I think with whomever will give it to her.”

“Go for it, dude.”

Laughs unconvincingly, “Riiiight, like I’m going to fuck a freshman!!!”

Like he was going to fuck a girl.

Chad took me to see Elvis Costello the night after prom. I know. Weird. I guess it was a consolation prize for not going to prom. I had a newly minted driver’s license and my parents let me drive to the concert. I guess it was a consolation prize for not going to prom.

That night when I dropped him off at his parents’ house we had our lone, awkward, not so pleasant kiss. By this time I was down to a permanent retainer on my lower teeth. (I left the removable upper retainer at home for the Elvis occasion.) So, you know, all systems go teeth-wise. But even so Chad’s purse-lipped kiss caused his teeth to mash against mine and scrape my lips. I should mention that I was about three inches taller than Chad, so that made things a little, um, well, complicated, you know, inexperience kiss-wise. Chad was not exactly a man of the world used to many varieties and sizes of women and I was certainly not accustomed to kissing boys. Chad even made a perfunctory attempt at copping a feel. I was pretty sure it was more for my benefit than his. I knew this because I didn’t push him away, I was willing to let him have a touch, but he didn’t pursue it further. Maybe it was because I was wiping his slobber off my chin or because my acting skills were no match to his and I was clearly not enjoying his slobbering, weakly groping moves.

Which is why a tiny part of me worries that I might have played a role in his homosexuality. If I'd been more experienced I could have turned that not so pleasant kiss around and made that boy a man (yeah, riiiight) but instead I just wiped his slobber off my chin and tried to mask my surprise at how unpleasant the kiss was by pretending to be all flustered and nervous. I couldn't make him a man, but, I could have been more "sensitive" to his bad kissing and feel copping ineptitude. I didn't laugh at him, but I didn't exactly nurture and encourage him, either. Frankly I was just too stunned at how bad it was to do anything other than try to be polite.

But that freshman jezebel probably played a bigger role...Chad was sweet. Sensitive. Quirky. Polite. She was bossy and loud, wore too much make up and affected a Joan Crawford accent. I’m guessing she spends weekends in costume at Renaissance Festivals, now.

I was just disaffected, confused, socially awkward, dorky and weird. I’m unemployed and spend weekends drinking and going to concerts when I can get free tickets, now.

But I got the mix-tape and the Elvis Costello concert, not her. Score one for disaffected, confused, socially awkward dorky weird girls.


4:10 PM

Monday, November 16, 2009  
I watched a Christmas movie tonight.


Sure. It was only Scrooged, but still, last year I couldn't even think about watching a Christmas movie.

Grief: It's a process, not an event.

10:29 PM

Sunday, November 15, 2009  
Couple of random thoughts as I trek across Michiana...

Okay. So. From the too much information file, apparently the cookie dough and Diet Pepsi diet took a toll on my digestive system. I'm sharing this as a warning to other people who might be considering an all cookie dough and aspartame diet.

It hasn't been, you know, bad enough to warrant prune juice or a trip to the "digestive aid" aisle at the pharmacy, but, it's been a little, um, uncomfortable at times. Yes, yes, I've been eating a lot of leafy green vegetables and fiber cereal and drinking lots of water the past few weeks and that seems to be helping. But. Things are not quite, um, "normal," yet.

So I'm sitting there watching television with my mum and there's Jamie Lee Curtis talking to a woman about digestive issues. I like Jamie Lee. I trust her. Halloween. Fish Called Wanda. Good stuff, right? Someone with integrity, credibility and sincerity, right? She doesn't go around endorsing products like some other celebrities with no viable career activity in years Brooke Shields are you listening? (Seriously, I'd like to know Brooke's agent. Her agent's gotta be the hardest working person in marketing. Talk about endorsement overkill, Billly Mays notwithstanding, how many products can one person endorse? Consumer and former marketing professional to Brooke Sheilds' agent: The more products a person endorses, the less credibility and impact that endorsement carries. Sure, Brooke's at the end of her product life cycle anyway and it's a good time to cash-in while you can, but, sheesh, enough already. There for a minute I was coming around to Brooke. I thought she did a good thing by publicly coming out and writing about Postpartum Depression and I felt sorry for her, to the point of defending her, when Tom Cruise slagged her off for seeking treatment for said Postpartum Depression. But now all this endorsement business is souring me to her again.)

Right. So when I was at the grocery and noticed a sale on Activia®, and an in-store BOGO coupon to boot, I fell prey to marketing, thought of Jamie Lee, and bought two four packs. (Yes, I was a victim of my own game. It happens. But in fairness to me it was the BOGO coupon that sealed the deal, not Jamie Lee.)

I got it home and opened the outer cardboard wrap. There on the inside of the package were details about "The 14-Day Challenge."

If you don't see a change for the better in your digestive system after eating an Activia® a day for 14 days, you send in the receipt and a code logo from the package and they refund your money.


Two thoughts:
1) If you're irregular for two weeks you need more than a refund on yogurt.
2) How the heck do you prove that you're irregular even after 14 days of Activia®? Do you need a doctor's note to prove it? From a marketing stand-point this is risky business. They want the public to believe they're so sure of the effectiveness of the product that they, um, back it up (sorry about the bad pun) with a money back guarantee.

What they're really sure of is the fickleness and laziness of the public. The public feels comforted by money back guarantees. The whole, "nothing to lose" mentality. But the reality is that something like 88% of the public won't bother to cash-in on a money-back-guarantee even if they are dissatisfied with the product. Why? Because we're lazy, stupid and fickle. We lack the foresight to save the receipts, we lack the diligence to cut out and save the required product logo seals, and we're too lazy to send in the required info for a refund. Generally, when it comes to money-back-guarantees we just can't be bothered. That's a marketing truth. Period.

But this Activia® thing presents a whole new case study. Who wants to admit things got so bad "down there" that they bought Activia® in the first place? And then, who wants to admit that after 14 days things still aren't right "down there?"

And then, for the 12% of the public who are willing to put in the embarrassment, foresight, diligence and effort required to cash-in on the money-back-guarantee, well...woe to the Activia® refund claims department agents who have to deal with those consumers. Think about it: The only customers they deal with are not only dissatisfied with the product, they're also literally anal retentive.

Sure, there will be people who just want to cash in on the free yogurt. The consumers who think they're hoodwinking the people at Activia®. The consumers who get success from the 14-Day Challenge but know darned well there's no way to prove it didn't work so they figure they can score a refund check. Scammers. Digestively healthy scammers. But given the consumer refund statistics I suppose it's a worthwhile loss margin for Activia®.

I'm four days into the 14-Day Challenge. By the way. Things seem to be improving but it's difficult to assess if it's the Activia® or leafy green vegetables, fiber cereal and water.

What I can say for certain is that a five hour road trip is not recommended when you're four days into the Activia® 14-Day Challenge.

Speaking of celebrity endorsements:
The Boss.
The universally known fact that Americans are horrible at geography has a new celebrity endorsement. And what an apt celebrity endorsement. An ironically comedic gift from the Universe: He's Born in the USA, bad at geography.

I realize I've never been on a "different town every night" world tour, and I realize genarenas all look the same, just the corporate logos are different, and I realize livin' la vida rock star can take a toll on a person after 40 years...but...for swut sake, did he have to forget Detroit? Haven't we suffered enough demoralizing ego bashing lately? Worse, he confused Detroit with Ohio. Ohio!

No disrespect to Ohio, but, um, Michigan is definitely not Ohio. I speak from a place of a lot of experience. I've seen most of Ohio. And all of Michigan. They are very, very different places. I've been inside the Palace a couple times. It's a typical generic arena, a genarena. But c'mon, take a look at the crowd, Bruce, or at the very least, take a look at the concert schedule.

You're supposed to be all "of the people" and all that, you have a huge fan base in Detroit, fans who identify with the whole working man, working hard at a crappy factory job image you've cultivated and cashed in on for 30 years. These are people who are either unemployed or have family and friends who are unemployed. Some have lost their homes and most are probably worried about losing their homes. These are people who are stressed and scared and seeking solace from their troubadour of "life is hard and then you die so ride a Harley and drink cheap beer while you can." They somehow found a way to scrimp and save money for the concert tickets. "Worth eating Ramen noodles for four months!" they console themselves, thinking only of seeing their musical hero live in concert. The one beacon of joy in their lives...and then he goes and calls them Ohioans. Of all places, Bruce, of all places. Disappointed and dejected Detroit fans feel that even Bruce Springsteen doesn't care about them and their troubles. Et tu, Bruce, et tu?

Here was a great marketing opportunity for Bruce and he totally blew it. He could have used the "I get it, I feel your pain, I'm with you, Detroit, I stand united with my blue collar brethren" spin. But nope, he went and confused Detroit with Ohio.

I never have really cared for Bruce's music. He is not The Boss of me. Blinded by the Light's okay. I like the music biz metaphors. But other than that I can't think of a reason to defend him.

I blame an American education curriculum that historically ignores geography lessons. Bruce is clearly a victim of a shamefully insular American educational system that lacks necessary world awareness lessons. I was lucky, my school had teachers who saw the gap in the geography and world studies curriculum and took extra time to get us involved in the Junior UN. Not all kids are that lucky.

And I blame corporate sponsorship. And I fear and weep for the future where the only way to tell where you are is by the corporate logos. A future where historic landmarks, geographical and topographical markers mean nothing, the corporate logos will be the landmarks. The tour bus rolls into a venue and the band says, "There's a US Cellular logo on the sign in the parking lot, we must be in Chicago!" Or a family vacation will include a stop at "Niagara Falls, brought to you by Aquafina®."

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11:54 AM

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