Thursday, February 26, 2009

memory foam

I bought a memory foam topper for my new bed, which is apparently made of steel I-beams and ex-girlfriends’ hearts, because it is hard as shit. Because I am 28 and have no savings, like a grad student, and am to cheap to throw away more of my income on things like heat (the apartment stays a steady 58 degrees – who needs heat when all that money saved can pay for the 10-12 cups of hot tea I have to drink each night to stay alive?!), like a good frugal immigrant, I live in a building without a doorman. My deliveries come to my work address instead.

(My mattress did not come with this lady.)

I bought the queen-sized four-pound viscoelastic memory foam topper even though I have a full-sized bed because it cost the same and I figured I could just trim it and make cushions or life-sized foam companions with the excess. “Four-pound” is a measurement of density meaning either that (1) each square foot weighs four pounds, (2) it takes four pounds of pressure to depress a square inch of foam X number of inches, or (3) you must hammer your head into the foam four times in order to create a depression that is the inverse of your own greasy coconut. What it means is that a queen-sized “four-pound” density foam mattress weighs five thousand pounds and comes in a box the size of a mini-fridge. I bought the discount version on a discount website rather than pay $170, as Raj suggested, for a slightly more recognizable brand. This is the part of the story where you should start wagging your finger in disapproval. It was delivered to my office yesterday. And because I am cheap/immigrant/etc., I decided to ride the rush hour subway home with my five thousand pound, mini-fridge-sized box rather than pony up $6-7 more dollars for a cab ride. Continue wagging!

I’d biked to work, so my first task was to move my bike from the outdoor bike racks to the secured indoor parking garage to leave overnight. Rather than leave the mattress up in my office, move my bike, then return to my office to fetch the mattress, like any reasonable person would do, I decided to move everything at once. I looped some tape around the box to make a “handle,” then tried to hold this “handle” (for a 30 lb., mini-fridge-sized box) in one hand as I wheeled my bike a block and a half with the other to the parking garage. The tape broke immediately, so I had to do a combination of kicking and shuffling to get the box, now itself also broken, to my destination. This process took about twenty minutes, much more time than it would have taken for me to leave the box in my office and retrieve it after moving the bike. But these are life lessons one learns the hard way! Eventually, I struggled through the handicapped entrance at the Jackson stop and brought my hefty box down onto the platform. The CTA attendant in the kiosk arched an eyebrow at me and said, “You must have some muscles there.” Was this an insult? I didn’t know, so I said, “Thank you!!!”

The train was waiting on the platform so I pushed in with my Real Doll-sized box and scraped passed five pissed off people to the end of the car. It was rush hour. The train was stalled in the station for five minutes, and after it started moving again, it started running express. I had to scrape past all those people again, immediately, to get out of the car. The next train came five minutes later. Within a few stops it was doubly packed because the car ahead of it was running express, but I had successfully rushed past the other commuters to the handicapped space in the car – no seats, so room for me and my cadaver-sized box – and I felt pleased as punch. I leaned against the wall of the train thinking “I AM SO AWESOME FOR SAVING $7 IN CAB FARE” and generally just feeling like a sophisticated urbanite for claiming a little space in my city.

As we traveled to the next station, the conductor’s voice came on the PA and said, Who’s calling? I exchanged some bemused glances with my commuting companions. Conductor’s gone off her rocker! said these glances. A minute later, the conductor came on the PA again. Who’s calling?!? Ha ha, our glances said this time, She’s drunk as a skunk! The conductor’s voice came on a third time. WHO IS CALLING? Ha ha ha ha! Mirth train!

Then one of my new commuting friends suddenly looked at me funny, and then said, very slowly, “Oh, you’re pressing the emergency button with your backpack.” OOPS! I turned around. Yes, I was pressing the damn button. My backpack had a button-shaped protrusion that was perfectly aligned with the big red emergency button, and I had been leaning into it the entire ride. OOPS x 100!

The train came shuddering to a halt in the next station, and the conductor again got on the PA, announcing this time that she had to stop the car to investigate an emergency situation. I hope that’s not me! I chortled to my new best friends. No, of course not! they chortled in return. I had congratulated myself for having the courtesy to bring my bulky item to the very last train car, but it soon proved to be a bad decision for Chicago’s commuters. Five minutes after the train had stopped, the conductor finally finished trekking down the length of the train to my car. She came into the car and demanded, WHO CALLED??!? No one said anything. I raised my hand and said, SORRY!!!! MY BACKPACK!!!! AN ACCIDENT!!!! Then I said SORRY SORRY SORRY! to everyone around me. SORRY x 100,000!!

My new life partners were all very kind to me. Ha ha, we are just happy that the emergency system works! they said. It’s good to know!! My God, sometimes I love these fat polite Midwesterners, they are as docile as cabbages. If this had happened on the L train you know those skinny hipsters would have strangled me with their striped deep V-neck shirts. Or done this to me. In any event, my stop was the next one, so I pushed past all the commuters and said SORRY!!! again really loudly and then struggled the five blocks home with this five thousand pound, tapir-sized box balanced on top of my head. I was sweating like a peasant when I got home.

The moral of this story is I AM STUPID. I managed to delay not only the 400 or so commuters in my packed train, but also the 20,000 or so commuters waiting on the platform at stations ahead of us or in trains behind us. Today my muscles are sore and my back is hurting. The best part is that after I got home and opened my package, I found that the mattress topper was not what I wanted it to be. It is too thick, and it smells so badly of chemicals that when I tried to put it in my room, I became light-headed in minutes and was barely able to drag the heavy piece of shit into the living room before passing out on my now-chemical-smelling bed in a druggy stupor. It was like huffing gas (or so I have read). So I think I am either going to have to find a way to return this monstrosity (perhaps via a return trip on the CTA!) or just suck up the hundred bucks and the time, and the time of 20,000 Chicagoans, that I just wasted. You were right, Raj, I was wrong. Every single decision I made in this story was mistaken: HOW CAN MY JUDGMENT BE TRUSTED TO INTERPRET THE LAW!?!?!?!?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Since I have become more or less single, I have plenty of time to obsess over my daily habits. Three such habits and obsessions are (1) saving money, (2) metrics and (3) finding the optimal balance between nutritional bang-for-buck, ease of preparation, and tastiness in my daily meals. So you see how I have spent the last ten minutes at work:
item servings/unit cost/unit cost/serving cals/serving
1/3 c. oats 70 $3.00 $0.04 120
2 T raisins 40 $4.50 $0.11 35
1 tsp flax seeds 80 $8.50 $0.11 20
1/2 oz. almonds 35 $7.50 $0.21 60
choc chips 70 $3.50 $0.05 40
tea 16 $5.00 $0.31 0
1.5 oz. half and half 24 $3.50 $0.15 60
yogurt 1 $1.00 $1.00 120
banana 5 $1.90 $0.38 110

$2.36 565
This is what I eat every day for breakfast, though the yogurt and banana are often omitted on days I don't run after work or are eaten as a late-afternoon snack. I bring the tea to work in a thermos and sip it until mid-morning. I bag up the first five items the night before and then once I get to work, I heat up some water in an electric kettle and stew my oatmeal and eat it around 9:30 while reading news and blogs. It takes a while to eat because the flax seeds are whole and one must chew them individually in order to unlock their secret magic. It costs $2.36 a day (but only $.98 without the oft-omitted yogurt and banana) and is sufficiently tasty to have sustained me for 47 consecutive days with only slight alterations.

I need to get out more often.

But you know, I don't want to go out! I prefer the company of my self-obsession (and also books, guitars, German language movies, and Rachel Maddow) to the company of the people (1) I know in Chicago, (2) I could potentially meet in Chicago, or (3) I could see performing in Chicago. I have come full circle from the initial feeling of bewildered glasnost that accompanied my autumnal move to the lonely midwest to a sense that I know what I want and should therefore excise unwanted clutter from my life: e.g., I'm quitting my band after our show next Sunday, I've told the Bavarian to shape up (his poor social skills - more on this on a later date) or ship out, I've stopped eating and preparing legume-based gruels because they make me want to vom, etc. And the opposite is true, too: I know what I want and I try to appreciate it when I have it. So thank you, friends, for giving me your time and your hilarious emails; thank you, Chicago, for giving me different views to explore and a freezing cold winter to clear out the walking paths for strolls alone; thank you, bicycle; thank you, Bavarian Boyfriend, for being calm and drama-free and devoted; thank you, Loretta Lynn; thank you, my occasional dog, for your fuzzy head that smells like feet.

You see, SL, I am single, at least in the same way that I am not literally but metaphorically thirty years old. For me, single and thirty means becoming a caricature of yourself - I guess you could also call this becoming more secure in your identity. I'm only going to get worse with time, and soon I will be counting out the number of oat flakes that go into the breakfast gruel. Lord knows my tendency toward schmaltz has already transformed this blog into a journal alternating between stupid stories and sentimentality and navel-gazing. But you know what? Fuck you, world! C'est moi! Eat it, trees!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

what i just saw in my inbox - the pathos kills me

From: X
To: ILNDml_Eastern Division
Subject: Please Note
Date: 03:14 PM

I'm aware there is a typo in JESUS, but JUSUS is the way it was sent.......

From: X
To: ILNDml_Eastern Division
Subject: Thank You
Date: 03:08:19 PM Today

. . .

I like to share with you an e-mail from Y sent to her Mom.... These are my sentiments too.......

“I have just deposited Love and Blessings into your bank account,
and the best part is that it will cost you nothing. I ask that you just
use it in abundance. Your Pin Number is J-U-S-U-S.


If you lose your PIN, you lose everything. Make a deposit in someone
else’s account today! May your troubles be less, your blessings be
more and nothing but happiness comes through your door.

Love Y....

Friday, February 13, 2009


Just some favorites from the day. New recipes from a dear friend:
For salad dressings, I generally wing it. My absolute favorite includes olive oil (the slightly more expensive trader joe's variety), rice vinegar, grated sweet onion (like vidalla or walla walla), grated apple (using the small holes of the box grater), soy sauce, and a touch of sugar. If you're the type that requires exact breakdowns, here's my best guess: 1/4 cup rice vinegar; 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion; 1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple; 4 teaspoons soy sauce; 1 teaspoon sugar; 3 tablespoons olive oi. An easier one is olive oil, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar and then a squeeze of lemon over the salad and a sprinkling of sea salt. If you make your salad the night before but don't dress it until you eat it (hence the nestling ikea containers), you won't have soggy salad. But of course, you know this.
Wow! GRATED APPLES! Then some lessons in anatomy from a pervert doctor I know:
i love mnemonics too! but, yes, they don't stick at all. i DO remember the really scandalous and sexy ones though... ah, my ABSOLUTE favorite one... the 12 cranial nerves in order: OOOTTAFVGVAH... Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel eVery Girls Vagina, Ah, Heaven. i bet you'd learn your cranial nerves real well too after that one... (olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear etc) i know them all, i swear.
For lunch I ate (1) one Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed donut covered in heart-shaped jimmies, (2) two s'mores, (3) part of a cheesecake that oddly had been cubed instead of sliced into wedges, and (4) a Dunkin Donuts munchkin powdered sugar jam donut that was in many respects indistinguishable from a golf ball. It's funny how Valentine's Day office treats are designed to break your heart - I mean really break it!

I just talked to two workers in the apartment next door to get my landlord Rod's cell phone number because he (the landlord) has been hiding from me. They indicated that they only spoke Spanish. I said, "Oh, NO PROBLEMO! Uhhh...tengo...el Rod?" One worker wrote it down on a piece of paper so I felt very proud of myself for my mad Spanish skills. I plugged my little phrase into Google Translate to confirm that I had said
I have the name of rod?
Have a good George Washington's 277th Birthday, mein Pupse!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Today there is a new 6’ by 7’ area of wadded batting and individually-pocketed 13-gauge springs in my bedroom. I have pushed the lonely old twin mattress into the guest bedroom and now there is half the space there used to be in my room. I am glad to be rid of the twin mattress not only because I saw its narrow berth as direct evidence of the end of my partnership but also because it smelled slightly of cumin when I bought it from a 24 year-old South Asian man who was on his way to New York after graduating from business school – am I racist? I aired it out for a few days but the tang remained embedded in the fabric. I said none of this on the Craigslist posting, of course. Also going on Craigslist is the cheap-ass Ikea futon whose slats you can feel on your butt through the cheap foam mattress – also something I am not planning to advertise on Craigslist.

I decided to go with a Chicago mattress dealer that practices a unique business model. There is no showroom; they come to you. I set up a time online for the store to come to me, and lo, at 7:30 p.m., a man named Michael called me and said they were waiting for me outside. He would come meet me at my door. Seconds later he was standing on my stoop under a golf umbrella. We walked together to a truck parked on the end of my block. There was a trailer that looks like a box truck on the outside but has sliding patio doors on one side, and is set up to look sort of like a bedroom on the inside. There was bad ambient jazz playing quietly on speakers, and a flatscreen mounted on the wall with a female voice that droned on about the details of the mattresses in stock.

Michael chatted with me about the composition of my mattress choices (I had pre-selected three) and then drew a curtain to reveal about fifteen mattresses standing on end, like books on a shelf. He pulled one selection onto a rolling box spring, then said he would wait outside while I tried the mattress and I should take my time with it. Then he and Lou, the silent sales gnome, waited together on the corner under the golf umbrella while I lay on plastic sheeting on three mattresses in succession. There was no discernible difference in the mattresses other than the price - well, the second mattress was clearly unsuitable, as I sunk immediately into the thick layer of batting on top and could already feel my spine twisting into a garlic knot even in the thirty seconds I lay on the mattress. I tested the mattresses by laying in almost all possible configurations of laying. I bounced a little. I did not lay on my stomach because I did not want my face to touch the plastic sheeting.

After a few minutes, I called Michael in from the rain and asked him if he had another, firmer, cheaper model. Miraculously, he did. I knew immediately I would buy that bed because it was the same model as Raj’s, and I like Raj’s bed. I am Chinese so I tried to wheedle, but Michael had none of it. “U.S. Mattress is selling this model for cheaper,” I said. “You are welcome to buy it from U.S. Mattress if you want,” Michael said. I said why not and bought the bed. Michael and Lou moved it immediately into my bedroom, taking off their shoes at the front door because, Michael said, "Dog poop." It cost me as many dollars as years between the birth of Christ and five hundred and six years before the creation of the Magna Carta, which made my heart catch in my throat, but I don’t really care anymore. In September, Jason said these are investments amortized over the lifespan of the furniture. He’s in business school; I only have the vaguest idea of what that means. It is comforting nonetheless.

I lay on the mattress last night practicing my German pronunciation for forty-five minutes. This entails reading the dialogues from my German language learning book without making any effort to understand them. The dialogues are stupid anyway. In one, Frau Clark goes to the supermarket and demands to know: “Wie viel kosten die Eier? Wie viel kosten der Aufschnitt? Wie viel kostet das Brot? Wie viel kosten die Steaks?” While this is a very efficient way for a student of German to learn grocery-related vocabulary, it is sort of implausible that a polite hausfrau would go into a store and scream HOW MUCH ARE EGGS HOW MUCH ARE COLD CUTS HOW MUCH IS BREAD HOW MUCH ARE STEAKS??? Die traurige Verk√§uferin! I find the pronunciation of the words much more fulfilling than my comprehension of them. German is a fun language, because its guttural sounds encourage one to act as angry as possible when speaking. I sound brutish when I speak. "Justizgeb√§ude" is my favorite word to say in German - yoo steets gay boy duh - and it means "courthouse," which is my favorite place to work in America.

German made me sleepy. I had a series of vivid dreams on my new bed last night, including one about three office workers struggling with a man in a trench coat. I watched them struggle to a standstill before turning away. Then the workers gave up and walked away also, and it became clear that they had been trying to wrest an assault rifle away from the man. The man pointed the rifle at the workers' backs and killed them with an arc of gunfire. I ran away. Everyone ran away. The gun was oiled and black and glistening all over. A hero tried to rush the gunman but was killed instantly. What happened next was skipped in the dream. Then analysts explained on the evening news how one could disarm a man with an assault rifle: come into extremely close range, grappling range, so that the weapon could not be pointed and fired. These were empty words, because everyone had already died. I woke at four with my Homer Simpson slippers filled with sweat. I had another dream which I don’t remember. I will try harder tonight.

Monday, February 09, 2009

toilet tips

  1. Check the toilet seat for blood before sitting down.
  2. Close your mouth when flushing.

Monday, February 02, 2009

the best thing i have ever read

  1. What
  2. the
  3. fuck???


Here's an awesome thing that just happened. I like to do things in an impatient huff envn though it doesn't seem to make my tasks go by any faster because that's how i roll. So I washed dishes in a hurry as my dinner bubbled n the stove (GRUUUUUUUELLLLL). And I grabbed the vegetablepeeler with my right hand, scraper side first. Into my finger it went! And then I screamed! OWWWW owwww OWW aaaooooo!!! Dipthongs and tripthngs! AAAoouuuu!! And then I beld all down my forearm because it went really deept into my right ring finger (didn't need that one ANYWAY oh SNPA) and then I grabbed it and continued hollering. It bled and lbed and bled and I immediately soaped it up and rinsed it (which Google says is the WzrONG thing to do, oops) and then pressed on it for half an hour until finally the bledding slowed a bit, then I tried to butter some toast by holding the toast against my stomach and applying the end of the butterstick to it but I accidentally spread butter all over my sweater and then I finished myaking my horrid dinner and scraped it into my face whilst holding my right hand over my head. Now I am drinking beer and watching Rachel Maddow, and I am drunk and my finger has bled through its second bandaid I AM AWESOME!!!!