Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Open Letter to the Person who Broke Into My Car

Dear Thief,

Is it okay if I call you that, thief? I know the term is a little generous, considering that you skipped over the big ticket items in my car (namely the cd player), and opted for a portfolio, UMSL student planner, and a copy of Dave Egger's What is the What, (making you more of a punk or a hoodlum) but you did steal something, so I'm still going to use it. Sure, you may be a novice when it comes to sifting through the contents of my car, but you're also painfully unoriginal. Instead of using your doubtlessly catlike stealth and MacGyver-esque abilities to pick the lock, you utilized the strategy associated with most homeless people and broke my window. Now, I know that you couldn't possibly have known that I had another window repaired on my car just two months ago, or that the first time I went apartment-hunting in the city, someone broke into my car on Washington Ave. and tried to make off with my cds, but would it kill you to exercise a unique approach when it comes to burglarizing my vehicle?

However, despite my anger, I understand.

I understand that maybe this was a crime of passion. Perhaps you saw my black leather portfolio and fell in love with it's versatility and accent stitching. Perhaps you thought of a pair of shoes that you have at home, and imagined how polished and scholarly you would look carrying that portfolio while wearing said shoes. Perhaps you've just always wanted a ladies portfolio because you're gay. Are you gay, thief? I think you are.

I also understand that you were probably pressed for time, hurrying to an important appointment or scheduled engagement; surely a man of your talents had somewhere to be, and would not be roaming the streets searching for kittens to torture or old ladies to beat up. Or maybe you had the opposite dilemma and, finding that most coffee shops were closed for the evening, thought that the extra time on your hands would be best spent breaking into my car.

Regardless of your reasoning, I am still pissed that you took my book. I know that I was only 100 pages in, and that I lazily underlined instead of highlighting, but I was really enjoying What is the What. The novel received rave reviews from friends, and is even a New York Times Bestseller. I'm sure that you know this, being the literate gentleman I know you are, but I don't see why you couldn't just buy a copy. Perhaps you could try Borders, which offers a Rewards card, or Barnes and Noble, which carries Starbucks coffee instead of Seattle's Best. And don't worry thief, if you find that you don't have the $15 for a paperback, you can always just steal it.


Kelly Powers

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My first college roommate was nothing like me.

When we met, she was a Texan who loved the Backstreet Boys, romantic comedies, and the guy with "piercing blue eyes" who lived in the dorm across from ours. She scheduled her classes around Days of Our Lives, was on the pom squad in high school, and sent Justin Timberlake a birthday card, despite the fact that he was obviously aligned with the enemy camp (N'Sync). Essentially, on paper, I should have really disliked this girl. We should've spent the first few weeks of school awkwardly avoiding each other and quietly complaining to the other girls in our hall, but to my surprise, we became fast friends.

We spent nights exchanging stories about our weird PA or comparing notes on the boys in our classes. We shared lecture notes, ate together, and gossiped to an almost obnoxious degree. Throughout all this, I felt myself changing. I gradually started to enjoy Justified (come on, "Cry Me a River" is a great pop song!) and even lingered during my lunch to catch up on Days. (Would Belle ever grow out of her chubby phase? Would Sammy ever stop being such a huge bitch?) Essentially, we became the perfect roommates--different enough to have our own friends, but similar enough to genuinely enjoy each other's company.

This friendship slowly expanded to include other girls in our hall, and before we knew it, there was always a steady group of six of us, usually camped out in someone's room or settled at a table in the dining hall. For the first time, I felt like I had "girls"--a group of female friends that were supportive, yet fun, i.e. *The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (The idea of "girls" is commonly attached to things such as: Facebook photo captions (i.e., "Me and my girls!" or "A night with the girls!", etc.), a wedding and the events surrounding it, scheduled manicures and/or pedicures, and newfound singledom.)

Unfortunately, after Freshman year, our group had disbanded and we either coupled off, joined a sorority, or both. Sophomore year I met Brandon and had become full-on BFFs with LeeAnne, and my Junior year was spent with my boyfriend (mistake) at the time, Brandon, or Chip. My senior year, I met both Kristin and Megan, who essentially filled the female friend void, and made it fun to go out drinking or eat an entire pizza at Shakespeare's, but I still haven't recaptured the feeling of that first year of college. I can see it in other women, but it seems like something I'll never have, and I don't know why.

* Shut up, it was actually really funny.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Events of the past weekend:

1. I finally saw Across the Universe. What I expected to be a cohesive, Beatles-inspired musical was really more of a collage of music video-friendly images played over a love story set in the 60's. Actually, the director seemed to be more in love with the decade than the music, because the Beatles songs were mostly re-worked in ways that made me miss the originals. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" was a standout, as was "A Day in the Life", but the title track and most of the pre-Rubber Soul tunes were really boring. The leads were decent singers, but despite the tears and protests and longings, the songs didn't seem genuine at all. I suppose this happens with covers sometimes, but I already know two versions of "Across the Universe" that beat the hell out of the sappy subway soliloquy Jude belts out towards the end. (Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright, duh.) However, songs aside, there were some unexpected surprises, mostly a very welcome Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite (you can probably guess what number he was in), and a pretty good cameo from Bono as a Ken Kesey-esque writer and drug prophet. Also, Salma Hayek shows up as a hot nurse.

2. I met Andy's extended family. Andy's grandpa's birthday party was on Saturday, so I baked a pie and we headed over to his aunt's house. It was a pretty interesting evening (his aunts remind me SO much of my mom's family--it's a little eerie), but there were a couple awkward moments that evened the score established when I dragged Andy to my mom's 50th birthday, so I really can't complain.

3. Andy and I went to a pumpkin patch. What initially seemed like a good, Halloween-oriented afternoon just further emphasized how much I don't want kids. You couldn't take a step in any direction without kicking a dog or a baby, and because of our lack of either of these tag-alongs, we has nothing to coo at and take pictures of. However, we did come away with two good looking pumpkins.

4. I went to my first book club meeting. Claire (the book club initiator) organized a meeting at Hartford Coffee Co., a super cute coffeeshop by Tower Grove Park, to talk about The Poisonwood Bible. I was a little worried at first, mostly because I read the book over a month ago, but the other two girls I met were friendly and talkative, and the discussion was great. I think the club is going to be a good outlet for me because frankly, no one cares about literature unless they have already read it/want to read it/enjoy books. Most of my English major or book-hungry friends dispersed when I graduated, so the club should fill that void. All in all, it was really fun. Also, I think our next book is going to be What is the What, which I've been wanting to read forever.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kelly's Plans for the Weekend:

1. See the Flaming Lips at the Pageant. It's totally going to be the shit, but I'm really disappointed that I won't be able to sneak in my camera.

2. Start Kafka on the Shore. It's about time I got around to some Murakami.

3. Celebrate my admittance to UMSL. That's right, I'm going to grad school, bitches! Now I just have to figure out how to pay for it.

4. Bake something. I have pumpkin cookies and creme de menthe cupcakes on the horizon.

5. Relax. After last weekend, full of partying and sight-seeing and near-accidents on I-70, I'm ready to sleep in and watch some Cold Case Files.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Additions to Lists That Already Exist in My Head:

List: Things About Women I Don't Understand, Despite the Fact that I Am One
New Addition: Bridal Showers

Until last weekend, I had a very generic understanding of weddings and the traditions that surround them. I understood, for example, that weddings include a willing bride and groom, an impressive number of inebriated guests, and a sizeable, yet delicious cake. I enjoyed these things from the safety of a banquet table, knowing that what I ate and drank would more than make up for what little I could afford to spend on a present. Essentially, as a wedding guest, a wedding is AWESOME. However, as I found out this past Saturday, as a Maid of Honor, a wedding SUCKS.

Although I ended up spending upwards of $750 to throw a shower for the bride and 34 guests of her choice, at the end of the evening, there wasn't much to show for it. Sure, several old ladies praised my venue of choice, or commented on how lovely the cake was, but the only physical aftermath was a pile of tacky gifts that I had to catalog during the present-opening portion of the evening. It pained me to look at dueling sets of tropical fish decor for their bathrooms, but it was more difficult to understand the bizarre folklore that surrounds brides and bridal showers. As the bride opened her gifts, the crowd jokingly warned her not to break a ribbon, an action that (allegedly) means a baby shower is in your future. When I asked one of the bridesmaids why people were discouraging her to rip open her gifts, she answered me as if I'd asked her what time it was. *"A broken ribbon means you'll get pregnant."

I nodded stupidly while another bridesmaid interrupted my follow-up question with "Does anyone have a paper plate?" I was about to point out that we didn't have the shower at Pizza Hut when another girl cut in. "Yeah! She needs a plate for the ribbon bouquet!" Again, I nodded stupidly, and again Bridesmaid Number 1 answered the question accompanying my confused expression. "You put all the ribbons in a paper plate and make a little bouquet that she throws at the rehearsal."

Both of these things made me feel like an idiot. Here I had done everything possible to make sure she had a nice shower, and I failed miserably as a woman.

It reminded me of something from grade school, a stupid question one of the more popular girls had asked me at the peak of my awkwardness. "Look at your nails," Stephanie Bell instructed, after randomly confronting me during lunch. Simultaneously worried and flattered, I curled my fingers into my palm, looking into a row of ugly, stubby nails. "That's not how girls look at their nails!" she giggled. "Do it like this." She spread her fingers widely, moving her hand far from her face, as if preparing to lower it to greet a royal suitor or lift the hem of a ballgown. Her nails were bright pink, painted sloppily, but stood out at the end of her long fingers, mocking me.

"How could you not know this?" they seemed to say, joining the growing collective of Things Kelly Should Know. I imagined the pink nails corralled with my other insecurities, namely a poor attempt at a french braid and a pair of my mother's high heels--two things that every sleepover guest seemed to know more about than I did. "That's how boys look at their nails," Stephanie snorted. Before I could ask why boys would want to look at their nails, she was gone, relaying her findings to another table.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that last weekend's bridal shower was an entire evening of "How could you not know this?" and it made me feel like a bad hostess and maid of honor, despite the fact that I didn't want to be either. **I know it's a long jump from "ew, that's an ugly duvet cover" to "I think marriage is a waste of time and money", but what I've always suspected to be true was magnified at the epicenter of the pre-wedding celebrations. Last Saturday made me feel like something in me was missing. I wasn't excited about the crockpots or interested in the details of her color scheme. All I could do was look at the clock and avoid my naked fingernails.

*For some reason, this kind of angered me. I felt like because she was already in the process of fulfilling one of the archaic goals still assigned to women (marriage), she was expected to get a head start on another (children). I imagined what expectations the groom was held to, and realized that all he really has to do is get it up during their honeymoon.

**I'm sure you're reading this and thinking, "Well, she's just bitter." Actually, I'm not. I would go so far as to say that I am the least bitter I've ever been on the relationship front.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Today I realized that this blog is primarily inspired by two things:

1. Nick Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" column in The Believer: Once a month, Mr. Hornby divides books into two categories: "Books Bought" and "Books Read". Sometimes his list of purchases overlaps with what he's actually completed, and sometimes it doesn't. However, it is generally thoughtful, funny, and usually includes at least one book about music or pop culture. I imagine that his column is very popular among people like myself who buy books and neglect to read/finish them.

2. Mindy Kaling's "Things I've Bought That I Love" blog: As it turns out, Mindy's character on The Office and I share more than just a name; in fact, we share a love of frivolous impulse buys. Sure, some women love to shop, but fortunately for her readers, Mindy can afford to buy things that exceed the budget of the ordinary twenty-something. Regardless of the amount of designer licorice she buys, her writing cracks me up. Also, because she punctuates entries with "like" and is overly excited about items like tv blankets, you can't help but imagine Kelly gushing about these things to Ryan. I imagine this blog is very popular among people like myself who miss The Office dearly and need a fix until the new season starts.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Yesterday was the kind of well-rounded, post-work day that makes going into the office tolerable. After a hellish day at Cohesion that included numerous phone calls both on and off the clock, I was ready for the usual Thursday Office night, but my aunt called and wanted to do dinner instead. We went to this posh place called by Plaza Frontenac called Brio. Brio is essentially a haven for wealthy old people (the amount of capri pants I saw was appalling), but the food is delicious and it was nice to catch up with my Aunt Marilyn. (Our previous couple Office nights were canceled due to scheduling conflicts and since the new season starts in September, the usual urgency wasn't there.)

After dinner, I went home to find that Nick and Sharon (my brother and his girlfriend who needed a place in St. Louis to crash for a few nights) fixed a bunch of random things in my apartment! (My screen door, a broken toilet seat, other issues that are vaguely characteristic of a crack den, etc...) It was so considerate! I thanked them 10 times over, and then Andy came over. We decided to take a walk, but on the way out of my parking lot, he noticed a ton of books in the dumpster behind my apartment. After some successful dumpster diving, we found six perfectly good books, including: Best American Short Stories (2006 edition), Babylon Revisited and Other Stories, various Chekhov collections, and a new copy of For Esme--With Love and Squalor (by JD Salinger). When I ran back inside the apartment to express my excitement, my brother observed, "Well, 'One man's trash...'" So true, Nick. So true!

After our walk, Andy and I met a handful of his friends at Bar Louie for happy hour around 9. Of all the bars in CWE, I can't say that I would choose Bar Louie as a favorite (the epitome of the accessible martini bar, complete with guys who wear too much cologne and women who don't wear enough shirt), but it was an enjoyable evening, nonetheless. Their peartinis were delicious, and Andy's friends are really personable and great to talk to. (I actually enjoyed a conversation about politics!)

In short, it was a fun night, despite the fact that I capped out around three drinks. I needed a day to remind me that after five, I still have time to salvage my day, and I think yesterday was a perfect example of that. Sure, work is filling my weeks with mundane tasks and useless skills, but I still have plenty of hours to do what I want, and these hours will keep me sane.

Thank you, Thursday of random awesomeness.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What I do now:

Although my business card reads "Administrative Assistant", I am essentially a receptionist. I answer the phones, wrestle with the copy machine, and thwart the efforts of numerous telemarketers on a daily basis. I know what kind of shipping labels we use (Avery 8164), how to operate the fax machine (a surprising amount of people have difficulty with this), and the passwords to all email and supply accounts. In short, my job exists to make other jobs easier. The plus side? Receptionists are hot. (See above.)

What I could do:

When I was in grade school, I tried to bend spoons.

I'd read the book Matilda and was convinced that if I concentrated enough, I too could move objects with my mind. Granted, I had no ogre-like headmistress to confront, or lazy, selfish parents to chastise, but I thought the desire alone would be enough. (It wasn't.) However, another quality I yearned to possess was a little more realistic, but still enviable: Matilda's ability to read and digest almost anything. This characteristic only emphasized a growing frustration for me--sure, I could read, but my selections were limited. I could breeze through young adult serial literature and devour Judy Blume novels with no trouble, but there were books I couldn't comprehend. These books (namely a first edition of Treasure Island and a book on the Russian alphabet that my dad had from college) hung over my head, full of words I didn't know and plot points I wouldn't understand.

This seemed unjust, but Matilda transcended this hurdle in the one place I have romanticized ever since--the library.

I know you're reading this and thinking, Are you honestly considering adding to your college debt because of a Roald Dahl book you read when you were 10?

Well, Yes and No.

Yes, in that the book represented the library as a place of solace, where Matilda could indulge in her love for literature, and, in a way, libraries are still places to escape. Even in college, I found myself more comfortable at the library than in my own apartment. True, this might have had something to do with the fact that I slept on a futon for the last year of school, or didn't have a printer, but I genuinely enjoyed the visits to Special Collections and renting microfiche.

No, in that I think I would be good at it. Books are one of the few topics I get excited about (the others probably being music and writing), and I think I could excel in an environment that allowed me to dork out a bit. Also, librarians are hot. (See above.)

What I could do and is also a more realistic option:

I can get my teaching certificate in two years. An MLS will take longer, cost more, and the only place in Missouri that seems to offer the program is Mizzou. I think I could teach high school English, and what I would most likely lack in enthusiasm, I could make up for in proficiency. (I love books, but hate most teenagers.) Also, teachers are hot. (See above.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

When I meet an author I admire, I get incredibly nervous. This anxiety doesn't take the form of a charming, Woody Allen-esque brand of nervousness, but rather the girlish anxiety of someone like Annie Hall. When I'm confronted with one of my favorite writers, it's like an encounter with a penpal. I know this person because of what I've read, but my understanding of them is vague at best. They've been sending me letters for years, and yet, I'm unprepared. When I reach their table, it's like I've run into them at the airport. Sure, they are impatiently waiting for their luggage like everyone else, but I have construed our relationship as something more, so I will just stand there stupidly, letting my suitcase lap the belt while I think of what to say.

This happened with David Sedaris a couple years ago, and when I reached him after an afternoon spent in line outside of Left Bank Books, I was speechless. Inexplicably, my hands cramped up, and any articulate questions or comments were instantly traded for an embarrassing slew of incoherent noises. Fortunately, being the conversationalist he is, he asked about where we'd come from (Brandon, Chip, Alli, and I had ventured from Columbia) and found my sudden lack of speech entertaining, spinning my awkwardness into something cute that he could doodle in the front of my book.

Unfortunately, my stage fright made an appearance last night in front of another one of my top five favorites, the cultural essayist/stone fox Chuck Klosterman.

I'd like to say that his unexpected resemblance to John Lennon or love for Raymond Carver reduced me to a giddy fangirl, but these factors only exacerbated my starstruck state. Klosterman was pretty much exactly like he comes across in his books--articulate but humble, funny yet honest. He was surprisingly open about his dismissal from Spin, interviews with celebrities (Val Kilmer owns bison, did you know that?), and a novel to be released next year. He answered even the stupidest questions ("What's your favorite color?") with a colorful (*no pun intended) anecdote or thoughtful reply. He remained effortlessly cool, despite overly zealous audience members eager to compare him to Hunter S. Thompson or grill him for information about the next big thing. There also seemed to be a couple of people bent on tripping him up, confusing the Q&A session for a round of Trivial Pursuit, but alas, Klosterman knows his shit and his opinions on current music were unapologetic. When asked the unavoidable "What are you listening to?", his answer was predictable but earnest--Jim Croce and Battles, the Brooklyn math rock supergroup that has the staff at Pitchfork wetting their tight hipster pants.

In short, my expectations were sufficiently exceeded. However, I wish I would've been able to say something more than "Thanks for coming" and "Wow, I'm nervous". In a fit of regret, I'll probably risk being annoying and write him a letter to let him know that his writing means a lot more to me than the price of his new book and a couple hours on a Thursday night, but I'm not really one for writing letters--I just like reading them.

*Come on now, pun intended.