Friday, May 29, 2009

The Infallible Ikus - or - What To Do When You Are A Trapped Bad Ass

This is Ikus.

I found Ikus wrapped up inside of a Ficus Benjamina tree at the greenhouse in which I work. Ikus from the Ficus. That was a little less than a year ago. When I found him, everyone was afraid of him, afraid that he would bite. Everyone shrieked and jumped, except for me. I said, “He’s beautiful,” and I instantly reached into the tree and pulled him out. I put him in a bucket and brought him home. On my lunch break that day, I went to a pet store and bought him a big glass cage, a rock, a water dish that would soon become his favorite thing to be under, and a big metal skull because Ikus was a badass. I put a plant, a thin leaf Croton, in a pot in his cage. He liked digging in the dirt and coiling up around the stems of the plant. I bought him mice and picked him up everyday. We hung out everyday. He would coil around my fingers and flick his tongue at me, tasting the air around him. I let him slither behind my ear, over my glasses, and into my hair. I’d walk around the neighborhood with him wrapped around my hand. The neighbors saw me walking around with him and freaked out, only to ask minutes later if they could touch him. After that, they would always ask in broken English, “How is the snaaaaaake?” Without fail, they would ask, every time we met in the yellow hallways of my building, and they would shiver when I told them he was fine. My friend’s kids used to come over and hold him until Ikus would get wound up and try to escape their grasp. Then it was back into the glass box. Coworkers ask about him regularly, as do my parents who refer to him as their grandsnake. It is a novelty, owning a snake; it turns you into “the guy with the snake,” which is what I am, or rather, what I was. A guy with a snake.

Ikus got out of his cage today. There is no question why he got out. He was bored. He is a snake and needs to live a more exciting life than the one he was living underneath his water dish, periodically being given a doomed little mouse to eat. I have never seen him outside of his hiding spot underneath that water dish. He was always, and when I wanted to hang out with him, I’d lift up that dish and his little tongue would start licking the air in disapproval at his rousing. Today, after work, I lifted the dish and he wasn’t there. I looked under his rock that he never hides under. No Ikus. I sifted through the ash bark on the bottom of the cage. He was not in there. I don’t think I will ever see him again. I am sad to lose him, but I am sure that the world he is in right now is more exciting than the world I kept him in for a year. Now, I can only smile and hope he has the coolest adventures that a little brown corn snake can have, as he is a badass.

I know how he got out. Even though it seems like he never did anything, never explored his cage, never left the comfort being coiled up under that water dish, he must have tasted spring in the air from my open window next to the cage. He must have felt the sunshine and wanted more of it. He must have known that he could survive outside; maybe the mice would be dirtier, but they would be free ranged mice, and he would eat them without hesitation. I had watered the Croton plant in his cage yesterday. I take it out to water it, I take it over to my sink, and return it to his cage when it’s done draining. There are four think stalks, chopstick sized stems, growing straight out of the soil. They are flimsy and smooth, less than a foot tall. When I returned the plant to the corner of the cage, under the heat lamp as the Croton is a sun plant and liked being under the lamp, it was leaning into the corner. I never keep the lid on the cage, as I thought that Ikus never moved, and I certainly didn’t think that he could reach the top of the glass walls. He used the plant, he climbed the tiny tree that he used to coil himself around and dig in the dirt. That’s how he got out, it was sometime today, this afternoon, while I was at work, after I hung out with him during my lunch break.

Chicago is not a safe place for a snake. I remember saying that I was going to let him go after the winter was over, I think he heard me and was getting impatient as I was obviously not keeping my end of the bargain. I was going to bring him to the zoo and set him free near the reptile house so that he could taunt the other snakes and iguanas. Corn snakes live and thrive this far north, but they live on farms and in fields, not in the metro areas, not on Clark St. I hope he sticks around my apartment for a little while. I hope I find him coiled up under a pair of jeans on my floor, or in the pot of any of my other plants. I’m gonna leave his heat lamp on tonight, and I’m gonna leave his water dish and his Croton plant out tonight, but I don’t expect to find him.

Ikus, I hope you have fun on the outside. I really do.

I’m gonna miss the little guy, that badass.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I Learned On Last Night's Spring Break - or - Razor Burn Or Velcro

It’s 8 am. I’ve been keeping my blinds open at night, which means that betwixt the morning sunshine, the delivery trucks, the construction next door, and my dreams of emotionally crushing natural disasters as a bartender at Chili’s, I am waking up earlier and earlier every day. This does not mean that I am going to bed earlier; actually the contrary is true. I’ve been folding up my days later and later recently, tapping out at 4:27am last night while wearing my headband, glasses, and nothing else. I woke up with my reading lamp on and an extreme close-up view of page 120. All that it really means is that I am going to have to function today on less than four hours of sleep. I’m sleep deprived, I’m indestructible, I can breath underwater. Last night I had beers and shots with my broke-ass plant-shop coworkers. Lots of beers and lots of shots. Cheep beers and shots of whiskey until midnight; the way a Wednesday should be. I then followed that little gathering with a few bourbons on the front stoop of the hosts of last week’s Gold Party. A gold party in a regular party but the hosts buy a bunch of gold spray paint cans and all the partygoers bring trinkets and knickknacks patty-wacks and whatever worthless crap they can find to be improved by a layer of shiny gold spray paint. Everything is better when it is solid fucking gold. I was unable to attend this party as I was having the time of my life in Kentucky, but I saw the pictures of the gold trinket table, the veggie dishes, the “let’s-all-make-out-on-this-couch” couch, and a flipbook style account of a guy covering his testicles with toxic aerosol gold spray paint. Nobody was impressed with Mr. Goldnuts, and even days later on the stoop after glasses bourbon, comments of “no one will be sucking on those anytime soon,” continued to surround the story of Captain Shiny Balls. The big winners of the Gold Party seemed to be the gold walrus and the gold toaster oven. I plan on returning to this house with my alarm clock and my toilet bowl scrubber. Every king needs his scepter. I also think a little civil disobedience with gold spray paint sounds like fun, so I’m trying to set up a trip to the minigolf course for some unauthorized putter gilding. I also think that since Mayor Daily raised all Chicago parking meter rates to fifteen minutes for a quarter, increased the operating hours of the meters until 9pm, and eliminated free parking on Sundays, those meters need to look better. I believe that those meters are made out of gold anyway and that they should look the part. Cool Hand Obsquatch?

I learned two amazing things last night. The first is that when taking a real vacation, one should not buy a round trip ticket. Every location on the planet where there is ground, there are lower airfares than in the US. But more importantly, beyond the monetary cost, setting up a predetermined departure date will only insure that you are going to leave before you want to, and ending a vacation before you want to means missing out on an adventure that you might never get a chance to go on again. The tether holding me in Chicago is getting thinner and thinner. This airfare advice fell on my ears in the same fashion as Copeland’s Fanfare For A Common Man; compelling and profound, triumphant and awe-inspiring. The next time I fly, I’m untying the knot around my ankle.

The second thing I learned is that my headband prevents my forehead from getting sunshine. This means that as my face gets back it’s healthy summer glow from the dirt and the sun, I have a very faint, yet still very pristine strip of white flesh running temple to temple across my face. I have a headband tan line. Yesterday was hot and sunny, today will be hotter and sunnier and I am at the brink, on the cusp, staring over the edge of a grand chasm of self image decision. Not just with the headband, the headband is staying, it’s just gonna have to migrate a bit further north for the summer, but what am I going to do about this beard. This is my first beard, and I kinda like it, a lot. I stopped shaving the day after my brother’s wedding last September, and have since enjoyed the scruff growing out of my face. I did shave off the beard for a bullshit job interview in January, but immediately learned my lesson, stopped eating bullshit, and resumed my nonacceptance to shaving; I immediately returned to my steel wool ways. If I do not shave it off soon, today or tomorrow or at most by this weekend, I will have a beard tan to accompany my headband tan. So now I get to chose, Brillo Pad or Babyface.

It’s 9:45 am now and no matter what I decide, I have to put on some pants and go to work. I hate putting on pants.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Obsquatch Update - or - What Did Number Five Ever Do For Me?

1) I bought five new head bands and an eye patch. I've already gone out drinking with the eye patch on under my glasses. The bartender gave me a free drink.
2) I have played six shows with three bands over the last four weeks. I made $23.
3) A client of mine has given me a six and a half foot cactus which I have put in front of my bedroom window. Closing my blinds is now a bloodletting ritual.
4) I think I want to be Canadian for a little while. Either that or a firetruck. Or both?
5) Fuck number five.
6) Icus is about to shed. Right before he does, his eyes turn bright blue. He now falls asleep while wrapped around my neck or coiled up on my chest. We be tight, Icus and I.
7) I recently hung out on a rooftop on Derby Day. There were hats and horses and bacon and Mint Juleps. Only one party goer brought a true Derby hat, complete with flowers and miniature horses glued to the brim. She looked hot.
8) All good lists have only five items.
9) Next weekend I am going to a wedding in Louisville. The groom is a rock drummer and has been a damn good friend of mine since the second we met almost ten years ago. I have yet to get him a wedding present but I know exactly what it will be; a glass photo box that has the words, "Love Conquers All" neatly etched on it. Inside, rather than a photo of the beautiful couple on some exotic beach holding hands and smiling, will be a Darth Vader figurine.
10) Fuck number five.