Wednesday, January 25, 2012

At the ERC

I do a lot of my work at this one coffee shop: it used to be called The ERC, but now it's called something different.  However, I can't be bothered to make the change in my head, so that's what I still call it.  I'm at the ERC right now.

And I'm not the only person who comes here all the time.  I'm sure a lot of these people are here 40 hours a week, working on their philosophy dissertation or scribbling on a legal pad and periodically looking in a thesaurus. I don't know what those people's deal is.  But this is just to say, there are a lot of complete strangers that I feel like I know pretty well because I hear fragments of their conversations, know their cell phone ringtones, recognize their coughs and grunts and slurps and sighs because I listen to them for hours and hours every week.  

So, today I came in and sat down at a table near the window.  I was unpacking my laptop when I looked down at my jacket and pulled what I thought was a green string off my sleeve.  Then I realized what it was and was like, Dammit, Trixie.

Because it wasn't a string, it was a hair.  And I knew who it belonged to, even though I'm not actually formally acquainted with her.  Any data I have on Trixie I've collected in the form of context clues which...well, Trixie's just one big walking context clue.

Trixie comes in here mostly on weekends, but as today is Wednesday and I've got one of her peacock green hairs on me after sitting here for seven minutes, she's probably been in more recently. Trixie's probably in high school, she probably weighs about 93 pounds fully dressed, and she probably definitely wants you to look at her, but I sense a lack of conviction here.  Also, her name's probably not Trixie, but I call her that in my head because she reminds me of 2 different girlfriends my roommate Jason had in college, and his pet name for both of them was Trixie.  Jason, for his part, was kind of a juice box.  

Anyway, Trixie's always wearing a baggy sweater, some thigh-high tights that show off some sort of thigh tattoo and some shoes she definitely had to buy with her own money.  Oh, and tiny shorts--she probably needs the tiny shorts in order to be allowed out of the house in the morning.  

Oh wow--and here she is!  Today she's also wearing a fedora and a monolithic book bag that weighs as much as she does.

Anyway, I'm pulling for Trixie.  She looks like a tiny bunny wearing too much eyeliner and I worry about her.  Plus, Odessa is totally going to go Trixie on me as soon as she turns 15.  She'll probably start pre-Trixie-ing around 11 or 12 before she gets her technique down her sophomore year.  

So, let's get it together, Trix.  I want you to make me proud.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I haven't been able to explain the way I feel today UNTIL NOW.

Because I'm feeling weird, you guys.  It's been raining for days and days and days, and this morning I woke up and the fog was burning off, and the sun shone like woah-really-shiny and it started to be 60 degrees....  I felt great.  Until like 11:00, when all of a sudden I wanted a gun.  I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with it, but I reckon it involved shooting it at something.

Let me explain what overcame me, because it's a pretty specific mixture of two sorts of feelings:

1. It was kind of like when you are traveling someplace you've always wanted to go and all of a sudden the jet lag or something kicks in, and the sky is still blue and fabulous and Italian or whatever, but suddenly it seems kind of fathomless.  And at that moment, you're an astronaut floating in black, black space and the only thing connecting you to Earth is the spaceship, and you're only attached to that by this one thin, white cord.  I guess you can call this feeling homesickness, but it's really sort of more than that.  Obviously.

2. Anyway, I had that feeling mixed with this other feeling--one that was inexplicably similar to the rage I felt once in college when this boy I liked invited me to go snowboarding for the weekend, but what he really wanted was to make out with this girl I was only sort of friends with, but he felt uncomfortable asking her to go with him alone, so he invited me to come as a decoy.  Anyway, they canoodled all weekend while I hated them so hard. This feeling has more of a hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-woman-scorned flavor.

And now you're like, Jesslyn, what haaaappened, honey? And this is the embarrassing part where I have to admit that all these very specific sorts of feelings were apropos of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Everything's fine--and not like when Audrey says it and she's not actually fine at all (Happy Birthday, Stringbean! I seriously love you!).

So, I listened to some soothing music, but couldn't find anything to listen to that didn't make me want to take a bite out of the side of my ceramic mug. I took a walk, which usually helps, but it didn't help. Then I went to Dairy Queen by myself in the middle of January, but no dice.

Then this came across my desk, as it were: A Coronal Mass Ejection!

Oooohhhhhhh! The radiation from a huge solar flare hit Earth at 11:00 today! NO WONDER!  This has absolutely nothing to do with my menstrual cycle.

Nothing to see here, folks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Love and Lady Jams

I'm sitting in a coffee shop trying to write, but I'm actually just eavesdropping on a skinny Indian guy and a mad tiny Asian girl--both wearing khakis, only hers are bootcut (I think they're toddler pants? Not sure). They're talking about playing oboe in the University of Georgia marching band. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife, by the way. It's like a Wes Anderson movie, only better because neither of them is wearing a distracting caftan. (Oooh! The conversation has foundered and they're drinking their coffees like they're both in a big hurry to drink coffee. Oh, phew--he saved it by introducing the topic of hammerhead sharks! Smooth. And now she's saying how she'd be afraid to pet a hammerhead shark. Get a room, you guys!)

Anyway, I should listen to my headphones instead, because I have to write a whole bunch of words today and this is their private, interpersonal business.

Which reminds me: I haven't been providing you with enough Ethereal Lady Jams lately.

Here are a couple:

1. Because I have a giant crush on Sharon Van Etten and her new album is coming out February 7th at 8:17 AM (EDT).  Or something.  I haven't been paying that much attention....:

And because I think it's both amusing and really touching when people from other countries love Gram Parsons as much as I do:

Okay, ya'll. Seriously.  I have to go.

Remember the Videos?

Well, I was shocked to find that Bryan's birthday video suggestion was heeded! By people other than Hank, who's the only person I know who knows how to make videos!

Yessssssssss-ah! The Me-loving exceeded every reasonable expectation! 

And, Dudes, some of my friends got super jiggly wit it.  You can see them all here on the tumblr I have that I don't use because what's even the point? (CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME THE POINT?)

Anyway, a teaser:

That was my goddaughter, Roosevelt.  Is she not the living end? She EFFING slayed that birthday song. Blood everywhere.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Birthday Message

So, today's my birthday, and it's basically the one day a year when everybody tells me how much they love me while also patronizing me as if I were a six-year-old handicapped Cambodian adoptee with leukemia.  Don't worry--I don't mind.  I brought it upon myself.

Bryan, for his part, is kind of the lead lover and lead patronizer.  Each year, he writes a baroque and meticulously edited email to all my friends and family, calling on them to do their civic duty, which is to treat me like a golden retriever puppy for one exquisite and fleeting day each year.

These emails are always amazing.  Here's the one that went out today:

Birthday Devotees,

Attention all!  Your annual astrological duty is upon you once again!  I hope I don't need to tell you that today is Jesslyn Shields's birthday, and that she is again walking the streets of Athens, GA enveloped in a soft, ethereal radiance.  Squint if you see her passing, and even the unpracticed among you will catch a glint of her multicolored aura, like a tasteful laser inspiring rapt fealty in your humble retina!  For today Jesslyn, your Birthday Dutchess, is 26 years old (margin of error: 8 years)!

As you know, I like to be as flexible as possible in these annual conscription notices I graciously (but unwaveringly) serve to you, the Chosen.  Therefore, I have this year provided 3 distinct options, based upon your favored recent Century. Please select the option below that you feel best describes you….

1.  "I respond positively to traditions, institutions and contrivances indicative of the late Nineteenth Century, such as light bulbs, phonographs, and postal mail delivered on horseback."
Yes, I picked this one, too.  Unfortunately, written letters (snail-mail) will not be accepted as fulfillment of your Duty to Jesslyn this year.  Instead, we offer a more contemporary analog of the postal mail: electronic mail.  You may send your fond wishes to and start the Jessylonic Year confident in the knowledge that you have once more earned the good graces of the Great Astrologues, looking down from their heavenly gondola. 

2.  "I respond best to the heady memories of the middle part of the 20th Century, with its rapidly accelerating technological infrastructure and its obsession with the New and emphasis on relentless, unmitigated Progress.  To tell the truth, I really dig Modern Conveniences."
You're in luck!  We have the perfect option for people of your preferences and tendencies.  It's the telephone!  Call Jesslyn at 706-555-5555 and tell her why you like her so much.  Your coming year will be Astrologically fruitful, indeed!

3.  "I'm an adventurous soul who's never quite satisfied with the status quo.  I always look past the person to whom I'm talking every few seconds to scan the horizon for the Next Big Thing.  All these Debby Downers crying about how great things used to be?  That's all just noise to me.  I don't mind tossing away a perfectly good apple, say, if I happen to find a bigger, fresher one along the way.  Slow Food makes me feel bored."
Ahhhhh!  This is the crowd I really wanted to talk to!  You-all are the innovators, the job creators and what not.  I can tell you're energetic and capable enough to take on and execute a True Challenge.  You, dear Friends, seem to me worthy of a Special Assignment.  And that is this:  you are going to make Birthday Videos!  Yes!  You're going to record whatever sort of video or message you think best expresses your feelings for Jesslyn on this grand occasion, and then you are going to sign in to YouTube with the following credentials:
Pword: duhr
and upload your video to the associated channel, called "09Birthday" (you can go to "My Channel" once you're logged in).  Don't understand what I'm talking about here?  Can't handle new ideas or complex tasks on the computer?  Go on back to #1 or #2, you Luddites!  For those of you who are savvy enough to participate in this, the 21st Century, congratulations!  You are the most Favored People among all the Birthday Chosen!  (But don't tell the #1 or #2-ers.  I told them what they were doing was perfectly fine -- but actually it's not.  High five!)

So!  You have until Friday (the close of the Birthday work week this year) to complete your assigned tasks!  Have fun!  Breathe deeply!  Imbibe the freshness, purity, and peaceful fulfillment as you express your irresistible fidelity to Jesslyn during this, the Most Important Week of the entire year!  Thank you, and know that I remain

Your dutiful Birthday servant,

Pretty sweet, right? 

Also, here's a birthday message from Odessa:

Friday, January 6, 2012


Do you know what I feel like? I feel like I just woke up from the longest nap in history. I haven't looked in the mirror recently, but I imagine I probably have a really long, white beard and there's a cute pair of hedge sparrows nesting in my hair.

So vacation is over and I had to go back to work this week.  And the number of naps I took over Christmas vacation? It was shocking.  And you want to know where I took all these naps? ON MY NEW MATTRESS. I say it's my new mattress because although I technically share it with Bryan and sometimes Odessa, it's mine.  It's my soul mate and every time I get out of bed, me and Mattress embrace passionately as if for the last time.  It's pretty intense.

My mom and Bryan's mom and my bank account got together over Christmas and made all my dreams come true: they got me a new bed.  Because the old bed? It was horseshit.  With the old bed, about once a week I used to wake up in the middle of the night and stumble into the living room to sleep on the couch.  That's how bad it was.  Let's never speak of it again.

Anyway, other than napping like it was my job, my holiday was transcendental and sublime.  But I missed you! How have you been? Tell me everything.