28 January 2010

Wednesday Winsday/Wingsday

Or, I Left My Heart In Salt Lake City

Last night, Krissy, Kait and I went to the Bidwell Tavern in Coventry, Connecticut to enjoy the best wings on the planet and some good brews. Krissy had never experienced the glory that is rocks 'n' wings night, and seeing as she's all broken (coffee table incident) we decided to gorge ourselves on three of their many wing varieties. Even though we wound up the night at John Harvard's in Manchester, the Bidwell is always where I prefer to spend my Wednesdays, if at all possible. The winningest conversation point the whole night went something like this:
Krissy was making some various obscene hand gestures in an effort to elaborate a point.
Kait said, "You can't do that at the dinner table!"
Krissy responded, "This is the wings and beer table. There's a big difference."

And there is a big difference! The Bidwell is possibly one of my favorite eateries ever, and if you've never experienced their food and atmosphere, you're missing out. They have a cover band every Wednesday, and for $20, you can get a heaping plate of three types of wings of your choosing and a bucket of Rolling Rock "pebbles" (7 oz.) beers. The cover band used to be the same one, a bunch of 40 year old bros who would play Jimmy Buffett and Sublime covers. Last night, it was a different band. All I can say is: jazz flute.

My fondness for the Bidwell goes way back and starts with Tanya, Kevin, and Kelsey. Years back, these guys introduced me to the Bidwell, the wings, the millions of types of beer on tap. And, unrelated, they happen to be three of the coolest, most fantastical people on earth. I love them. And I miss them so much some days it's murder.

You see, Salt Lake City stole my friends! Now, having recently visited them there, I can see why they like it so much. SLC and the surrounding country is beautiful, sunny, friendly, and like nothing the East Coast has to offer. (The photo above is of me on the salt flats by the Nevada border.) Tanya moved out there with her very awesome, totally talented girlfriend, Katie, after Katie got a job designing t-shirts. If you've been out to SLC and the surrounding areas, chance are you've seen some of her designs. She's that good.

Kelsey and Kevin decided they needed a change of scenery last June and packed up Kevin's old band's van (it's a creeper van, let's be honest) and drove across the country to settle in the city of salt. Seeing as Kel, Kev, and I spent most of our waking, non-working time together before they moved, their move was pretty crazy from my perspective. But all the same, they're happy out there. Kevin is a semi-insane skydiver/BASE jumper, and in Utah and the surrounding states, he can do that most of the time. He was the only reason I even jumped out of a plane in the first place, but that's a tale for another blog.

Last night's Bidwell experience highlighted how much I miss all of them. Tanya is one of the few people on earth who truly understands me - as much as any one person can understand another, that is - and having her thousands of miles away sometimes kills me. I know it kills her, too. Kelsey is goofy and sweet and always makes me laugh. Tanya, Kelsey and I have been inseparable since high school, and with them out there and me over here, it's rough. Kev is an asshole, and I love him for it. He's very possibly one of my favorite assholes ever.

When I visited them in September, I can honestly say I had one of the best weeks of my life. Not only were they excited to show me their new home, but it was as if there had never been a gap in our time spent together. The ability to pick up right where we left off is the sign of strong friendships, and no matter what goes on in our lives, I truly hope we'll be able to step back into the easy, laughing, sometimes ridiculous (always ridiculous) places we have always found ourselves when we're together.

If they ever decide to move back east, or if I get up the courage to grab my crap and haul ass to SLC, it will probably be a fantastic time. For now, I'm going to eat my delicious wings without them, drink Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (with a cheery in the bottom) just to make Kelsey jealous, and run into old mutual acquaintances whenever I can. Out in SLC, the Pabst Blue Ribbon may flow like water, but I am always drawn back to Connecticut, even if part of me hates it. I have lived in London, travelled all over the damn place, but something pulls me back to CT. And until I can figure out why, I'm pretty sure this is where I will remain.

On an unrelated note, I received a call from a recruiter for the Travelers Insurance Company out of Hartford. I've submitted my resumé for consideration for a 5-month contract for a social media marketing position.

26 January 2010

Dinosaur Jr. Destroyed My Eardrums (And I Liked It)

This picture is from the Dinosaur Jr. website. I love it, and I'm borrowing it for creative purposes. This piece is by Marq Spusta.

On January 15, Krissy and I, excited, tweaky, and totally psyched, climbed into my Toyota Solara at 4:30 p.m. and drove more than an hour to Milford freakin' Connecticut to see Dinosaur Jr at the Daniel Street Café. Kurt Vile and the Violators were opening. We were so excited we we squirming like 12 year old girls on the way to see *NSync circa 1999 (yes, I'm dating myself there, but I don't care). But then again, Justin Timberlake is no J. Mascis.

We got to Milford a bit early... doors weren't until 8 and we rocked up just shy of 6 p.m. Thinking we were clever, and dodging crazy rush hour traffic in an unfamiliar and one-way-street-happy town. I dropped Krissy off at the club and drove around the block, hoping she'd grab tickets ($20 ahead, $22 at the door. Yeah, I donno) and we'd find food. They weren't selling till doors, so we parked under a nearby rail overpass, hoped my car would still be there when we got back. Seriously, that cave of municipal construction we parked in looked like it was a prime Chester the Molester hang-out. On the other hand, it was about three and a half seconds' walk from the club and free. Pros outweighed the cons by a million. (okay, or one.)

We walked past the club to a small chain restaurant called SBC (I think) Brewery. It was... disappointing to say the least. Granted, I think someone could have probably served us horseshit on a bed of three-week old iceberg lettuce with white gravy and we would have not been too bothered. First of all, DINOSAUR JR., second of all, I'm pretty happy if there's decent beer. Unfortunately, the beer wasn't all that decent, and the service was even worse. My burger went down fine, but Krissy found a hair in her food and was (not surprisingly) completely grossed out. At least the manager comped her meal. I was then rather suspicious as to what the hell I ingested, but that's usually my fault. Truth be told, I eat like I'd just gotten out from doing a five-year stretch in a maximum security prison and then spent six months on a deserted island, without Wilson. Ray once asked me if I even taste my food. I have no idea why I eat like this, I'm thinking it's one part gluttony, two parts I-could-enjoy-this-but-I'm-hungry-and-want-to-be-on-to-my-next-activity. At any rate, it was a disappointing meal, but really not a problem. We were going to see Dinosaur Jr.

We walked back to the club and joined others in line. We ended up behind some really nice guys, Keenan, Austin, and Juan, whom we bummed a smoke off of and got to chatting with. They were funny, loved music, and were so earnest in who they are the two of us really enjoyed their company. Once inside, the lot of us hung out over a few beers while the rest of the crowd filtered in. I swear Keenan almost pooped out of sheer appreciation when I mentioned how much I loathe Chuck Palahniuk. But I digress. They were good guys. We're all friends on the Facebook now, so they're like officially friendships. In real life. Actually, it really would be great to see them again at another show. RX Bandits in March at Toad's Place, perhaps?

Krissy and I got separated from those guys during Kurt Vile and the Violators. They had a bit of a rocky start, but the set turned out to be amazing. Because Dinosaur Jr. were the headliners, the crowd was still thin and we ended up right up front. It was fantastic. I'd never heard The Violators before, but was familiar with The War on Drugs, Vile's other band. Either way, they were killer. I was really happy I got to see them.

In between sets, more and more people flooded in. The show eventually sold out, which is absolutely great for both bands. I know their show at the Brooklyn Ballroom the following night was also sold out. Maybe 25 years on, Dinosaur Jr is finally garnering the attention they deserve, which would be additionally kickass. Perhaps the overwhelming amount of shitty music (I'm looking at you, Sarah Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and whatever Disney regurgitates) has finally reached critical mass and we're on a swing toward quality music once again. I feel this happened in the early to mid-'90s, too, and isn't the world a better place for it? Purge the crap music, keep the musicians, and ditch the lip-synching performers. Anyone with me?

Dinosaur Jr came on and everyone was in awe. J. Mascis plays so incredibly that he honestly looks like his hands have more than five fingers apiece. Lou Barlow and Murph round out the sound... so that your ears are left happily ringing for days. They played a delightfully long set, including older stuff like Thumb, Imagination Blind, Forget the Swan, The Lung, Feel the Pain, etc. I almost popped out of my skin when their encore was Just Like Heaven, a cover of one of my favorite Cure songs.

The only crap part of the night was the douchebag in the leather jacket and his hobbit-ish friend. First, let me say that the male to female ratio at the show was about 4 guys to every one girl. This tipped the free drinks possibility in our favor considerably, but also upped the potential and actual Creeper Attacks. (Remember where we parked? Our guards were up. Spidey-senses and all that.) So this dick in the leather jacket bought us each a PBR draft. He and his pal from the Shire handed them to us while in the crowd in front of the stage. Now, neither Krissy nor I are ones to turn up free beer. Even if we didn't exactly watch it go from tap to our lips. Incidentally, we didn't end up drinking any of it.

This asshat who brought us beer apparently assumed that giving beer to spectators immediately meant he could stand in front of us through most of Dinosaur Jr.'s set. He was, not unexpectedly, taller than we are. He was an asshole. I returned the suspect beer, bought Krissy and myself some Newcastle (PBR, god bless it, gives me a hangover immediately after it touches my lips), and the two of us tried to continue to enjoy the show. We succeeded. My god, it was amazing.

We left the club with ears ringing and skin tingling, said good-bye to the guys we met, and hit the road. I can't remember what time I walked in, but I do know that my ears were ringing so badly that every word out of my father's voice was muted. When he said "S" it sounded like "Shhhst," which was fairly amusing. My ears rang progressively less until Monday, when apparently those nerves finally kicked the bucket completely. They were merely sacrifices on the altar of Worthy Music.

24 January 2010

Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

I know it's terrifically cliché to head straight for the booze when you get laid off, but I couldn't help it. For one thing, I like booze. For another thing, so do my friends. And to top it off, my friends have been very helpful in cheering me up.

The day I was laid off went something like this:
8:30 a.m. - Arrive at work.
8:45 a.m. - Spend unreasonable amount of time correcting someone else's grammar.
9:30 a.m. - Grab my third or fourth cup of coffee.
10:00 a.m. - Get called in to the HR manager's office. Get laid off.
10:10 a.m. - Start cleaning out my office. Proceed to say good-bye to friends. Wait around for my (former) boss to get out of her meeting with the CEO so I can say good-bye and thank you.
11:30 a.m. - Still waiting. Eat leftover pizza with Ray and Bill. Wait some more.
12:30 p.m. - Boss ends up not being all that concerned about my future. Greatly regret not having cigarettes to light up on my way out of the building.
12:45 p.m. - Finally home. Talked to my dad for a while. Spaced out. Tried to grasp the gravity of my situation.
1:00 p.m. - Text message from Krissy, "Visit me at work!"
2:00 p.m. - Arrive at The Adam's Mill.

Krissy kindly fed me delicious beer and listened to me bitch a bit. An upper-class restaurant bar in the middle of the day on a Wednesday is not exactly hopping. I appreciated her instinct to ply the recently unemployed with alcohol. I think that's as basic an instinct as we all have. Right up there with protecting babies from the wilderness and avoiding Taco Bell unless you're high. Mmmm. Chalupas. I tried a delicious bit o' tipple known as Seagram's 7 Dark Honey Whisky at Krissy's behest. It was great! Whisky I could drink straight without that sense of self-loathing that lingers afterward... and so it goes.

So I bounced back home and called my friend Dan, but not before picking up a bottle of the aforementioned whisky. We had a "scotch night" planned anyway and I wanted to bring something. It was a serendipitous planned evening of boozing, seeing as I definitely did not plan for a lay off when we decided scotch was in order on the preceding Monday.

Neither of us ended up having any scotch. Slight fail on our part, but we definitely made up for it.

Dan, his good friend Al, and I watched UConn cock up a game against Pittsburgh. I drank my honey whisky, Dan and Al had rum (Diplomático!) and cokes. Al left shortly after the basketball game as his wife is expecting, so he's expected to be home quite often.

In typical fashion, when left to our own devices, Dan and I turned on The Big Lebowski. The second he hit play, Dan turned to me and said, "you know, between the two of us, we've probably seen this movie a thousand times."

He wouldn't be far off. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest, most entertaining, enjoyable cinematic experiences you can have. And I bet you missed it the first time out of the gate. Granted, I know it has a bit of a cult following now, but so does The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and you don't see me wanting to dress as Frank N. Furter for Halloween. The Jesus Quintana, I'm all about. In fact, I need to get a purple bowling leisure suit for next year, but I digress. See the movie if you haven't. I promise you'll love it or be entirely bored. And if you're entirely bored, you're probably bored (or worse, confused) by Monty Python, too. And then we really can't be friends. So stop reading now and go watch something starring Pauly Shore.

Dan and I started to watch the movie, and found quickly that when it was just the two of us, we pretty much said every line before the actors. Entertaining, certainly, but we could do better.

Dan flipped on the Wii and set us up to bowl. The Big Lebowski was still blaring out of the speakers. We bowled a few frames. (I suck.) Drank a little more. (I'm good at that.) By our third frame, I asked if we could make White Russians (the Dude's drink of choice, you know). In what may have been a totally kickass montage in the film of my life (I don't remember a whole lot after I did The Jesus dance after a strike), we drank a ton of White Russians, Wii bowled, smoked cigarettes, and listened to, and then watched The Big Lebowski. I woke up on Dan's couch with one of the most vile hangovers of my life. He had to go to work (!!) and I was parked behind him. Can't say I don't think Dan's a trooper and a half. He drank more than I did!

It was important and cathartic for me to live the Big Lebowski a bit. Drop out for a day and night and drink, pity myself, and spend time with people I love and respect and can quote The Dude more accurately than the Bible.

22 January 2010

Bitch, you lost your shit!

Let me recap my Wednesday, because it was awesome and pretty much bounced all over the spectrum of... everything?

It was a week since getting laid off. Instead of Living The Big Lebowski like I did last Wednesday, which was terrific, I was invited by my friend Adam to go shoot his pistol. Wink wink?

Yeeeep. Me + firearms = GREAT idea.

Anyway, I rocked up to his house around 5. We headed to Hoffman's Gun Center to shoot his Colt 1911 .45 caliber handgun. It's a big gun. (And yes, I realize the irony of talking about handling a man's big gun immediately followed by a trip to a drag show, but I digress.) So we walk in. I'm not a large girl, by any means, but I'm also not weak looking. I mean, at 5'5" and 130 lbs., I'm pretty strong, and if nothing else, stubborn enough to pretend I can do just about anything. Besides, it's annoying to be defeated by inanimate objects. As we're walking in, I'm struck by the sheer size of the place. I never realized how high the demand for weaponry is. Apparently, it's really very high. Also, people who like guns also like to decorate walls with the unfortunate targets of their pursuits. There was a giant moose head among the various taxidermied ruminants who, at the time of his death, must have weighed well over a ton and a half, probably closer to two. Now, I don't know much about moose, but what I do know is that they're rather slow in the ol' noggin. So slow, in fact, that many towns up northward (ahem, Canada) make a game out of lassoing moose who wander into town and leading them around until they finally just let them loose. Or so I've heard. At any rate, I felt bad for the formerly giant, now wall-mounted moose and his many companions.

But enough about the moose. Adam and I rock up to the counter outside the indoor range, hand over our IDs, fill out the necessary paper work, and get situated with earplugs and goggles. The man behind the counter is giving me the "oh look at the small girl with big ambitions" bemused half smile. In other words, he thought I was ridiculous.

Adam brought me into the range. Now, my not inconsiderable shooting abilities aside, this place made me mildly uncomfortable. Not because of the availability of firearms, nor, indeed, with wide-array of such weaponry on offer, but mostly because of the totally batshit insane looking gentleman using a huge, semi-automatic rifle of some description. He had the look of one of those people who always wanted to be in the military, but was too fucking insane to be let in. Or maybe he had been in the military, and during some horrible event, a few wires came loose and he decided that owning said enormous weapon was the only way to stay safe in Connecticut. Because, you know, Connecticut is pretty dangerous and all. Or maybe he just liked big guns.

I'm not overtly comfortable around firearms (can you tell?). Certainly, with the exception of, say, shotguns and certain rifles, most guns were made to kill people. Or skeet. And the occasional piece of cardboard with a target on it. Shooting a gun the size of Adam's is fun, in the weird, powerful, I-hope-I-don't-fuck-this-up kind of way. I'd do it again. But that doesn't mean I'm comfortable around these guys, or their guns. I'm totally comfortable with Adam, entirely trusting of his abilities around his weapons. He's responsible, careful, and honest. He was a good teacher, and I can't say I didn't feel totally badass once I got the hang of loading the gun. More than shooting even, sliding a full magazine into a gun and chambering a round is really satisfying. Don't read into that too much.

Adam and I went to dinner, shared a bottle of wine, and were fairly sleepy by 9:30 p.m. My friend Krissy called. Were we still on for the drag show? Were we ever!

I rocked up to her place by 9:45. Everyone was dragging ass. We made coffee, finished primping, and hit the road. I say we finished primping because, in my experience, no one will verbally cut you as fast or as effectively as a drag queen. You have to bring your A-game. Especially if you're a feminine chick.

We headed to Diva's Nightclub in Northampton, MA. (Northampton, in case you were unaware, is the lesbian capital of the north east.) I'd never been to Diva's before, but Krissy's roommate Kait had her birthday party there a few months back, so Krissy, Kait, and their friend Rachel had all been there. Diva's was great.

Drag show! $1 PBR drafts! More androgyny than a David Bowie and Annie Lennox double bill!

We people watched for a while. I love different expressions of gender and sex. At a gay club, more so than the average nightclub, there's an atmosphere of acceptance, sexuality, and pure, unadulterated fun that's unlike anything else you'll experience. The lines to the bathrooms did not represent the signs on the doors, and the bartenders (among the best I've seen. They seriously don't skimp on booze) were friendly and queer as the day is long. There was a couple making out on the dance floor that I could not for the life of me figure out. Not because I couldn't detect their secondary sex characteristics (I couldn't), but because they looked an awful lot like one another. It was pretty surreal and badass.

The drag show was killer. I have to say, my favorite performer was Miss Phenol Barbitol, she kicked ass. And Jujubee, a lovely lady who will appear on RuPaul's Drag Race, definitely rocked it. She was one of those expert queens who was gorgeous and talented, and was born to kick ass on stage, being a sexier lady with better legs than I will ever have. I hope she wins.

Drag queens are Amazons. Drag queens are self-aware performers. And drag queens will tell you what's what quicker than a high school cheerleader will go down on the QB. The emcee, a really funny queen who could have snapped me in half, was the best over-sharer on the planet. We heard about her trip to Miami Beach, the fabulous fake-tits on the woman sunbathing topless, and some various bjs on her cruise. I loved her. I wanted to be her. And that's the god's honest truth. All the same, I could never pull off drag. I'm only 5'5" and definitely can't pull off the devil-may-care attitude that comes so naturally to these ladies.

It was a trip and a half to go from the CT redneck enclave that was the shooting range to one of the queerest places on earth in a matter of hours. The only thing that would have been better would have been taking the drag queens shooting.

21 January 2010

Funemployment 101

I really need to give the nod to my friend Chris for the term "funemployment." After getting laid off and having a (mild, ahem) freak out a few days post kiss-off, the idea of making this process fun seemed like exactly what I need to do. Or at least, what I'm going to do until my bank account completely runs dry and I have to go all Breaking Bad on my life. I kid, I'm terrible at chemistry.

So here's my deal:

My name is Courtney. I'm 25, soon to be 26. I live with my totally awesome, completely insane, very understanding, and always well-meaning parents (Ellen and Greg) in the house I grew up in. I have a Bachelor's in Communications from a small, conservative college in the northeastern US that shall remain nameless, and an MA in Human Rights from one of the best universities in the world. I have drive, creativity, a filthy mouth, terrific vocabulary, and I'm bloody unemployed. It's frustrating, insulting, and embarrassing to be unemployed. Anyone who has ever been here, and I've only been here for a little over a week, will tell you that. It fucking sucks.

So, aside from the somewhat humbling experiences of filing for unemployment, sitting in my pajamas until 3 p.m. on a Thursday, and trying to figure out what the hell to do next, I'm working on enjoying myself a little. My friends, Bob bless 'em, are more than willing to help. And that's how I ended up going to the shooting range last night, shooting a Colt .45 (I have been told it's a Colt 1911, which shoots .45s, but is not actually a Colt .45 which is a revolver), and then proceeding on to a drag show at a gay club until the wee hours of the morning. But that's a tale for another day.

Photo, courtesy of AMC, of Bryan Cranston as Walter White. If you don't watch Breaking Bad, I highly recommend it!

Welcome to My Job Hunt

Alright, at the behest of some friends and acquaintances, I've decided to commit to the annals of history (or Blogger) my experiences on "the dole" (that's unemployment to you non-Brits, but having a nickname for it is so much fun). Let's get the nitty gritty nonsense out of the way.

I was laid off on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. I worked at a health-related non-profit organization in their Connecticut office for just under two years as a paid employee. My hire date was February 20, 2008, but I was an intern there before that. I can't say I'm not a little annoyed they didn't give me two full years of employment, but whatever.

I can't say I'm crushed. I hated my job. I was good at it, but I was apparently a sickening over-cost. At $34,5000 a year, I'm sure my salary was really bustin' the ol' bank. Yeah, that's what I made. You can send me donations and condolences if you'd like.

So they out-sourced my job, and my boss's. She retired. The same day I was laid off. (You can give that one the side-eye, it deserves it.)

This leaves me, at 25, unemployed, single, and living with my parents. I am so fucking kick-ass, even I can't stand my awesomeness sometimes. I'm polishing my resumé, staring at collecting unemployment, and trying desperately to decide what I want to do and where I want to do it. I have a seriously hard-core degree, and I should be exploiting that, but if whatever I do leaves me staring at a computer monitor (I recognize the irony of that sentiment as I sit here "blogging"), cooped up in a windowless cell again, I'll probably drop off the radar completely and move to Kuala Lumpur, or Bucharest, or some other far-flung locale that has an uneven distribution of consonants to vowels in its name.

This is a chronicle of my job search, my soul search (I do have a soul, Sam gave it back to me for my 25th birthday. It's in my wallet. Ask me to see it!), and all the other things I do to fill my days.

Photo courtesy of Danny Choo