The Summer of Beer and Five Other Self Improvement Projects

As part of my half-assed attempts at self-betterment, which have included such efforts as a detox diet which a friend of mine basically made up on his own and purchasing running shoes (for display only), I figured I'd outline some stuff that I should do to make the most of the Summer of '06.

1. Learn to Like Beer
- This may seem like part of the Evandebacle Gut Expansion Initiative undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers since I quit smoking, but it really is not. Basically, I have long had an aversion to beer. Most of you know the story behind it so I shall spare the World Wide Web the medical details. Let's just say that my body tends to initiate a Pavlovian response to return any beer I ingest back to the earth whence it came, or at the very least into a nearby toilet or behind a shrub that I may have handy. This makes drinking a rather expensive proposition for me both socially (public ralphing is not attractive for a male seeking a female) and financially (I tend to drink red wine instead). Ergo, drinking beer will make me a better and more attractive person. Marketing was right again!

2. Go Camping - The ideas of wilderness and tents and stars and clean air and marshmallows are wonderful to me. Always have been. The trouble is that I haven't been camping since I was a young kid. Every Labor Day weekend for a few years, my mother, sister, and I would join a number of other divorce-ravaged families and travel to Warwick, NY for a couple of days of good ol' outdoor fun of mosquito bites, hot dogs on sticks, and verbal spouse bashing. By the flickering light of a campfire we would tell spine-chilling stories of the deadbeat dad whose alimony checks went with him to the grave, but whose ghostly outline could still be seen in the trees behind the bleachers of the little league field, violating the laws of nature as well as the court order secured during divorce proceedings. Spooky. Who's got a tent?

3. Make Three New Friends - This one is dicey. To my current friends, I love you all. I do. But since moving to Chicago I've really only made friends in a few very isolated circles: through grad school, through improv, and those I knew in college but moved here. Meeting people through such institutional settings has its drawbacks no matter how awesome those people may be. Plus most of them aren't single anymore, which can be problematic. The whole third wheel effect. Seeing that I don't like bars, am not good at small talk, and tend to not make a good first (and often second) impression, how I will do this is beyond me.

What I Probably Won't Be Doing This Summer

4. Host a Social Gathering at My Apartment - This may be an awful idea. No access to the outside. Minimal seating. A tiny kitchen with limited food production capacity. Insufficient air circulation. Nearest train stop is closed. Wanna come to my party?

5. Buy Some Fucking Plants and Posters Already - I got cocky after buying some furnishings. A couch and computer table do not a home make. There is not a single thing on the walls of my bedroom. Nothing! Just whiteness. It's as if I'm allowed to live my life on the outside during the day so long as I come back to the ward in time for my meds and lock down.

6. Bike to Work - See, I knew there would be a legitimate attempt at self-improvement somewhere in here. I was about to give up on this one until I got my bike tuned up last week. I know, I also thought that when bike owners said they were taking theirs "in for a tune up" it was just a pathetic attempt to make their bicycles sound like real machines, legitimate forms of transportation, to make up for the fact that they were adults without cars and wearing helmets in public. Not so. It actually made a difference. Mine runs (well, cars "run," bikes..."bike") great now. So, even though I have no access to a shower, I shall attempt to bike to work and use the resultant pungency to dissuade my boss from speaking to me. This may backfire. He is a lifelong smoker with a highly diminished sense of smell.

So that's my list. I was going put some loftier goals such as starting a novel or falling in love on there, but I thought you all might not be willing to suspend disbelief. If you have any other suggestions on how I should spend my time, please feel free to comment.


At 11:14 AM, Blogger Butternugget said...

You totally stole the camping idea from me.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Oh, and I suppose that it was your idea to have me spend all my formative woodland experiences with griping single parents, leaving me with a lifelong yearning to just camp like a regular person.

Actually, if that was your idea, it really played out beautifully.

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Shannon said...

I feel crushed. Half of my self-identity was based on the idea that I was the Alpha and Omega of Evan's friends. Having found deep, meaningful friendship via improv, that he'd never have need for friends again. Alas, it seems I am vastly mistaken. I hurl my verbal flaming bag of poo vaguely towards Hyde Park (hey, if it doesn't hit Evan, at least it will get a confused UChicagoan, who will likely then write a thesis on the event).

At 12:22 PM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Ah Shannon, buck up. You're roughly Alpha through Rho, but that still leaves room for a few others.

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous spokony said...

where did you find that circle-of-life balance wheel? and where does "internet time" fit in?

At 2:21 PM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Why, I found the wheel on the website of Vadim Kotelnikov, of course. The same man who said, "[I]t's not about life-work balance, it's about life-work synergy!" What a genius!

At 2:22 PM, Blogger evandebacle said...


At 2:29 PM, Anonymous spokony said...

i think you should never go to that site again. wow that was scary.

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need houseplants? I can so hook you up with houseplants. The farmer genetics apparently work regardless of my disparagement of them, and in moving I discovered that my modest plant collection had reproduced into "crazy plant lady" territory when I wasn't paying attention. Do you prefer philodendrons or spider plants? If you want something more exotic (mother in law tongue or jade) I have inadvertently learned how to reproduce those and could probably have you some by the winter.

Oh, and I am now walking distance from you, so visiting is in order.

And email me if you ever want to go to a Cubs game. As long as you don't want to see Detroit or the White Sox, odds are I can find a ticket for you. You can practice that beer drinking thing if you want.


At 6:23 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Why yes, Crazy Plant Lady, I would love to partake of your flora largesse. My apartment is basically a green-free zone at the moment and that needs to change. As for the Cubs, I might be up for a game. Though won't that require something stronger than Old Style? You know, just while we're still waiting for Wade Miller to save the franchise.

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wade Miller? We don't need no stinkin' Wade Miller. We've got Tony Womack!

(scarily, that's not entirely facetious)

Also, a sufficient number of hours in cold rain has a numbing effect, as does going 6-21 for May.

At 7:26 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

What's Gary Gaetti doing these days? He provided a spark once, maybe he can find the magic again.

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Rev Transit said...

I'd be willing to help you with the beer thing, although I recommend stong spirits instead.

How about soju?

At 7:13 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

I'm not sure I've ever tried soju. It does go nicely for my insatiable hunger for Korean BBQ. Rev, you're a genius.

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Fujisan said...

I like this graphic better.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Best fake educational film. Ever.

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting website with a lot of resources and detailed explanations.

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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