mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?

virulent anxiety

I just finished a book and I have some mixed emotions about the writing and pacing of it, but I have only one emotion about the subject matter, and that is HOLY CRAP. It’s called The Things That Keep Us Here, exactly the kind of Oprah-esque title I usually despise, and with Jodi Picoult-ish cover art to boot. But instead of a touching family saga it is an apocalyptic novel about an avian influenza pandemic, and it is making me hyperventilate. Disaster scenarios where I am unable to provide my child with food, water, medicine, or safety are my kryptonite. So I don’t know if I recommend this book exactly, but if you would like a domesticated version of The Road and don’t mind a few bad dreams and anxious middle-of-the-night trips to the CDC website, read it.


I always knew that the Gap sucks but damn.


Four times a week, I get up at 4:30 am to be at the gym and on the treadmill by 5 am. There is a certain merit in having my sport bra on before my conscious mind even knows what is happening, although in other ways the whole routine is rather creepy considering my sluglike past. I am becoming a 5 am regular. Other regulars smile and say hello to me. Really, at 5 am everyone is a “regular,” as most people don’t work out that early on a whim.

I listen to my iPod while running but I look at the television, and it is always Animal Planet and it is always these orangutans. It is either the same orangutan show every morning at 5 am or all orangutan show episodes are kind of the same. Which is entirely possible since it seems they don’t do much.


It seems like there are many more cops than usual in Chicago, particularly the visible-on-purpose sort of cop that hangs around public places like the El or street corners. Is this just a summer-festival precaution? Has our threat level turned a different color?

After my lunchtime library visit, I was trying to go out of the subway station, through one of those cheese-grater revolving doors, and a massive police officer stood right in front of it. He had his back to me and was writing something on a pad, and I said, “Excuse me” and received no response. I said it again and still nothing. So I reached up to sort of tap the cop on the shoulder, although because I am short and he was a huge Christmas ham of a human, the tap ended up more on his waist/lower back. And let me tell you, police REALLY don’t like it when you touch them near the gun area. Bad touch! Bad touch from a citizen!

He turned around sharply and barked, “What are you trying to do?”

In the split second before answering I considered many possibilities. Smash the state! Commit suicide by cop! Feel your throbbing, rock-hard nightstick!

“Just trying to get by?” I said, feeling all kinds of self-hate for the involuntary way my sentence ended with that ingratiating upward inflection.

He moved, and life went on. And now I am an anarchist. The end.

—mimi smartypants has nothing to lose but her chains.