Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Well, the new year is upon us. Time to begin another decade. I swear it was yesterday that we were all preparing for life to end with the Y2K scare. Sometimes I forget and think it's still the 90s... I can't believe I've had ten years to get over that and yet I still think of the 90s as being "now". 2010 sounds like the future. I mean, technically it still is for another 30 hours or so, but 2010 sounds like robot servants, flying cars, living in space kind of future. In summary of paragraph number one, this really weirds me out.

So now's the time when everyone sits down and decides this new year will bring changes and better things for them. They make promises to themselves, set goals to achieve, and feel a new sense of hope and positivity. My question is, why now? I get the symbolism and all, sure. New year, clean slate... new beginnings. What a tantalizing possibility! But really, the change from December 31st to January 1st is no different than any other 24 hour difference throughout the year. I was thinking about this whole "why now" and the purpose of resolutions and I kept going back to two highly contradictory thoughts on the matter, one extremely pessimistic and the other highly optimistic. I'm convinced that I firmly believe them both. Let's call this blog a journey into Trisha's pessimistic and optimistic revelations. And go!

Part I: Pessimism
New Year's resolutions are usually made with the highest intentions of following them through, only to be forgotten in the rush of everyday life. Then when the next December 31st rolls around and you go into your moments of self-reflection for the year you just get depressed that these goals were never followed through. So what do you do? Make it your resolution for the next year. Why do we do it? Face it, on New Years Eve (after one too many celebratory beverages) deciding to lose that extra 15 pounds may sound like a great idea. Let's start toward that goal by downing another beer! You may wake up the next morning still so enthused by the idea that you start thinking about diet and exercise plans, already envisioning yourself in the cute new clothes you're going to buy. But somewhere down the road you struggle. Maybe just a little bit. But enough to discourage you. Before you know it, your goal is lost, either ignored by you purposefully so you're not riddled with daily guilt, or you continue to make some efforts throughout the year but decide all in all it probably won't work out and you let yourself go, generally push it aside, figuring "it'll happen some day". We set ourselves up for failure and feelings of inadequacy, incompetency. The weight loss thing is just an example, but it's got to be one of the most common goals. I swear, everyone has the same 10 resolutions. In general, resolutions can all be classified in one of two ways: it's always losing a negative: quitting/dropping/cutting something (smoking/weight/spending or some other personal vice) and/or adding a positive: doing/finding/enjoying something (volunteering/new hobby/more family time)... something specific to help you live a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life. Problem with these goals is that they're not necessarily measurable and therefore not as easily achieved. (Touch of optimism and hope coming up...) You need something where you can develop specific, relevant, mini-goals along the way. Mini-goals that serve as a constant reminder throughout the year and a whole lot of commitment is your best bet. Even then though, not always gonna happen. (Fully back to pessimism...) Let's face it, 88 to 97% of New Years resolution-ers fail in their attempts. (Confession: I typed revoltuion-ers first instead of resolution-ers. Join the revolution and make a resolution! .... sorry) Anyways, that 88 to 97% failure thing? Known fact. Believe me, I research my statistics. And yet the majority of the U.S. looks at each new year and says I'm going to make this the best year of my life. Things will be different! ... Probably not.

Part II: Optimism
Well I'll be honest... I did have one clear pessimistic view and one clear optimistic view on the matter, but as I wrote the pessimistic section the optimistic view kind of died in me. I'll see if I can revive it here. (Another "I'll be honest" comment, I originally labeled this section "Optimistism" and I over-looked my error after several read-backs. Caught it eventually though. Obviously.) Here comes my attempt at optimism. I find it kind of sad that most people only take this one time each year to set goals for themselves. Shouldn't we be on a constant journey of finding a better, happier, healthier life for ourselves? Why wait until the beginning of a new year to decide it's time to change? If you're not happy about something, change it now! I'm constantly looking for ways to make my life happier and to become a better person. In 2009 I made a couple of big moves in an attempt to be happier. (Realized during my 2009 reflection period) And you know what, it made me join the crowd of people I criticized in the pessimistic section.... I think 2010 will be a great year for me! I don't think it will be a great year because of all the new, great goals I have for 2010 that I hope to achieve; I think it will be a great year because of the changes made in 2009 that have set me up for a happier future. I don't set specific goals regularly. (Touch of pessimism, devoid of hope coming up...) I really do think set goals, more often than not, just lead to failure. But it doesn't mean I'm not hopeful. If I desire a change and I see the opportunity, I listen to my instinct and make it happen. (Don't worry, back to optimism...) Best part about this way of thinking? Without set goals, you can't fail. There are no deadlines you have to worry about not making. You live life as it comes and take opportunities as they come. It's a way to seek out happiness and avoid stress. If it's something you really want in your life and you're committed to the change, you will make it happen whether you define it as a goal or not.

Now with all this back and forth-ness I think I've confused myself on what I really believe. First it was equally both thoughts... then entirely pessimistic and now that I've finished the optimism section I'm feeling oddly light-hearted and joyful on the matter. Why not... let's go out with some optimism! Every year is a new beginning yes, but so is everyday. You only live once. Don't wait a year to attempt a change you can begin today.

God, I'm so cliche.

Friday, December 18, 2009

You know how if you're reading a book you start to develop an image of the characters in your mind? Similarly, you know how if you talk to someone a lot over the phone, but you've never met them you also end up creating an image in your head of what they look like? (I'm thinking like a work contact rather than some strange "phone pen-pal" type of scenario. Hmm... phone pen pal... a situation where there's no pen involved... a pen is the instrument used to write a letter to a pen pal and in this case it's your voice that's the instrument to convey a message to this not-known-in-person friend... would it be called a voice pal? Anyways... pointless tangent, I know. It's how my mind works.) So, as I was saying, you create these images in your head of what these characters or people "should" look like. Usually it's completely unintentional... it's just the imagination at work, giving you an image to associate with these people- whether they're fictitious or actual living humans. So you have these pre-conceived images and then what happens? A movie comes out and suddenly the characters don't look like you envisioned them. Or you meet the mystery phone person and are can't help but think "that's not who I've been talking to. Who I've been talking to looks nothing like that" because you can't get the previous image of "what they look like" out of your head.

It takes awhile for me for the character (read, not-real-human) thing to latch on and for the actor playing the part to become the main image I associate with the character, rather than what I came up with in my head beforehand. Like Harry Potter was still a cartoon image in my head (an image, I'll admit, that was initially aided by the illustrations on the front covers and beginnings of each chapter in the books) until book 5 when while I was reading I realized I was imaging Daniel Radcliffe instead. (Side note... at first I wrote that as Danielle Radcliffe and I had to stare at it for a solid 3 minutes before I realized why it looked wrong. End side note.) And, I had just gotten used to the image of Dumbledore being the actor from the first two movies when the new actor stepped in (for legitimate reasons) and my mind's image of the character was completely confused. I have those moments when I see a movie version of a book and just think the actor is completely wrong compared to what I imagined. For example, Confessions of a Shopaholic. I've always loved the book series. I had created an image of the character from reading the books. I even used to imagine to myself, if it were to become a movie, who should play Rebecca Bloomwood (later Brandon). Shortly after picking the ideal actress I began to only envision Kristin Davis (of Sex and the City) whenever I was reading, instead of the original image I had of the funny woman obsessed with shopping. When the movie DID come out I struggled so much with the fact that it was a redhead, first of all, then with the fact that it was not Kristin Davis. I couldn't get into it. Then there's the reverse type of scenario where I see a movie first and then read the books... so the image of the characters is already in my head as being the set of actors. In this case I can't help but wonder what my mind would have created for the characters if I had no set image in my head already of what they look like from the movies. Prime case of this for me is Lord of the Rings. I'm reading the books now for the first time and while I hadn't seen the movies beforehand, they were a big enough hit when they came out that I had already developed images of the characters from previews and promotions and such. So when I began reading Frodo automatically became Elijah Wood. I think it's funny the process our minds go through in re-creating image associations. For me it takes awhile for things to switch over from what I originally imagined to what is shown to me as "the actual character", aka the actor representing the character. Is it kind of related to the old question of how many times it takes to meet someone before an initial reaction can be changed? ... Except in this case it's how many exposures to or how much time it takes before an initial image associated with a character can change to what's being presented to you.... I guess it's not really related at all, but I thought they might be some type of similarity to draw there. Just ignore me.

So it's all fine with the land of make believe and re-imagining characters. But when it comes to real people I guess I thought it would be different. In reality, it's much harder for me to switch over these images when they pertain to real people when I would think it should be easier. For example, at my job there are several people I work with over the phone on a regular basis. I'm talking I've heard their voice daily for the past year and a half. I have developed images of each of these people. I don't purposefully create an image... it just happens. Sometimes, I eventually meet some of them. If they don't look like what I have envisioned (and come on, what's the likelihood that my imagination is that good? If they look like what I've envisioned I would start calling myself clairvoyant) and... what was I saying? Oh, right. So, if they don't look like what I have envisioned I am, well... I'm not completely thrown off, because I never really expected them to look like I had pictured, but I have a hard time after the initial meeting re-creating my image of what they look like. Lots of times, when I picture them afterward I still picture my old image rather than what they actually look like. I would think that once I've met the real person the old image, that was really based off of nothing but voice and perceptions on personality, would disappear and be replaced by what they actually look like. But no! Of course, the more often I see the actual person the more likely the image is to be replaced. But, for example... there's a couple of people I work with regularly over the phone and since I began at this job almost two years ago I've met them in person twice now... each time a year apart. The second time I met them it hit me that even though I had seen them before, for the past year I was still picturing them the way my mind initially did... I was picturing these "characters" of what they "should look like" and they weren't replaced yet by the images of what they actually looked like. As I result I was slightly awkward during the second, year later encounter, as I tried to subtly yet intently study their features so their faces would be ingrained in my mind and hopefully overtake what my imagination decided these people look like.

Another similar type of scenario is when you see pictures of someone before you meet them... in this case I don't have a hard time "re-adjusting" my images of people, but I'm completely thrown off by it if they don't look like their pictures or they don't act like how I thought they would based on their pictures. I've talked to some people online before meeting them and more often than not, gotten a general idea of what they look like from pictures (actually, it's more likely to be the case that I didn't talk to them before meeting them, I just "know what they look like" from pictures before meeting them... the wonders of facebook and some pre-encounter borderline-stalking... don't judge me, we all do it). So even though the pictures are, obviously, pictures of these people, you don't ever really have a clear image of what someone looks like until you meet them face to face. But I see these pictures and get an image in my head of what they look like. Then when I meet them I'm slightly thrown off if they don't look JUST like they did in their picture. Something seems off. It bothers me. This is arguably one of my most random blogs, and I'm pretty random. I also feel as though I just rambled on about nothing for the past x amount of words. Probably reads that way too. It's okay, I'll still click "publish post" and let the rest of you read it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

About once a month I allow myself a therapeutic cry. Well, I shouldn't say allow... it makes it sound like I limit myself to a certain number of crying experiences but that I hold back the rest of the time. I'm not one to cry much in front of others, but I allow myself to cry openly when alone. I see no point in holding back tears and sometimes will even encourage a good cry when it's been a while. I'm not entirely sure if it's because I think I'll feel better afterward (even if I wasn't all that sad to begin with), or if it's that I find the experience itself to be sort of the prime form of introspection... with the tears comes an outflow of emotion that surfaces thoughts that may have been locked deep inside my subconscious. It's almost a spiritual experience for me, though perhaps not in the sense one may typically think when they think of something as being spiritual. It's just a form of expression...

Every form of expression is in essence therapeutic. Why does anyone speak, write or create to express themselves? It's about forming and sharing opinions and feelings. We all feel better when they're let out in some fashion. Isn't the experience when crying similar to this? Whether crying alone or with a friend, in silence or while talking, the thoughts that come up during the process are a sort of therapy through expression.

A lot of the time, for me, I'll start crying and not know why. I honestly would not be able to tell you where the tears came from or what made them start. On the surface I'll blame it on past depression. But if I allow the crying to continue and don't wave it off as "some silly, no-reason tears" I get into a very self-reflective mode, thinking about my life... where it is, where it's been, where it's going. Sometimes I still can't explain the tears, which may make me cry harder. Eventually I hit a peak and shortly thereafter I calm down considerably, with a new sense of calm and collectiveness (and connectedness). Sometimes a headache. But always the feeling that I just went through a sort of cleansing. The key is to never tell myself "time to stop crying"... instead, I try to draw it out as long as possible, until I have no tears left that I want to cry. Then I feel better.

Of course, the tears don't always come out of nowhere. Sometimes it is the self-reflection that comes first and warrants the tears. Or something happens that makes me cry. It's at these times that I realize the power we have as individuals to make ourselves feel better. It's a process, yes. But the therapy for me doesn't come in the tears alone, but in the thoughts that come with the tears. Things are put into perspective. I am always able to convince myself that while things at the moment may not be okay, what is happening is for the best, and will shape who I become and the course my life takes. As much as I may not want or like things that happen, I can come to terms with the fact that they still may be the right thing or what I need, either to teach me something, to help me grow, or to make me happier in the long run. And I find it important to always take a step back and think how blessed I am and how in comparison, my troubles are so minor compared to what other's experience. And at the same time I have to tell myself that despite this realization, it's still okay to be upset and concerned about what I'm going through.

If there's one thing I've learned in my still short life it's that everyone has it the worst. No one person's sufferings are worse than another. Or at least you can't think of it that way. We can't discredit someone's pain by saying their problems aren't too bad. We don't know what they're experiencing. Think about those teenagers who commit suicide and seem to have the perfect life... where nothing on the surface is wrong. Growing up I went through a phase when I was experiencing something particularly difficult for me. I was convinced that no one else in the world could understand the pain I felt. I had it worse than everyone else. Anything others tried to say about their bad experiences in attempt to comfort me only made me hate them for thinking their pain could compare to mine. No matter what, their lives were perfect in comparison. Since then I've seen far worse things happen to other people than what I experienced at the time. And I've seen other's suffer seemingly worse for things I would deem far less extreme than what I went through. I find it important to always think about this to put things in perspective. I don't want to ever discredit others' emotions, so I do not allow myself to discredit my own. I'm comforted when I think that yes, other's have it worse than me, so I am grateful for what I do have, but that it's okay to still feel my pain, with no feelings of guilt.

If you can guess, this blog came after one of these "therapeutic cries"... hence the 5:00 a.m. posting time. The blog itself is a further therapeutic step, as it too is just another form of expression, as much for myself as anyone else. Yes, it's nice to have others to turn to when things don't go your way, but I've never been one to discredit the value of a night of self-reflection, and a good cry to realize that things are going to be okay.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quite often I find myself intrigued by commonplace things. Usually, these thoughts begin with "Whoever thought it would be a good idea to..." and finish in any of a wide variety of ways. Almost anything can follow that "..." (still don't know the name of those dot dot dots). Usually there's a relatively practical or historical answer, but I'm intrigued nevertheless. For example, who ever thought it would be a good idea to make movies? How did they know people would want to gather around a screen to watch some made up story? Certainly it stems from a history of live theatre but even that... who decided to write these things called plays and perform them in front of a group of people? Does that stem from storytelling? Does it all stem from playing make believe as a child? I could occupy myself for hours thinking about this and researching it all, usually still left unsatisfied with the answers I find. And movies is a rather explicable one. Take instead something like bubblegum. Who thought it would be a good idea to make something that you chew and chew and don't swallow and it never (slash in-reality-just-takes-a-long-time-to-before-it-gets-grainy-and-gross) dissolves? Expand that out to all types of food... who decided to throw plant like things in water, watch what happens and call it tea? Or drink the white liquid that comes out of a cow's udder? Moving away from food, who decided it would be a good idea to stand up on a piece of wood on the ocean, wait for a wave and call it surfing? Who decided the standard way to earn money would be by going somewhere and working 9-5 on everyday but Saturday and Sunday? Pretty much any human invention, activity, or societal norm can be inserted after "whoever decided it would be a good idea to..." and form an interesting thought.

One that always gets me, and which I'll exclaim to a friend or family member usually every other month or so out of a sheer disbelief that is renewed whenever I really think about it, is the concept of pets. Yes, around the third week of every month containing 31 days (rough time estimate), if you were to sit in the living room with my family's animals, myself and my family, you would hear me say, "Do you believe we invite these animals to live in our home?!". Yes, I get the companionship and all and I am a big pet person. But the idea of this amazes me! Who on earth decided it would be a good idea to take wild animals (because all animals were once wild) and let them live in our homes... pay to feed them, clean up after them, and when medical advancements were achieved, pay for doctor's visits? I'm sure it all started with keeping animals for functional purposes... dogs for herding & hunting, cats for killing mice and unwanted pests, and over time these animals "mutated" enough or were selectively bred and had enough human interaction from a young age to not only see humans as a beneficent creatures, but also as surrogate parents. Their behavior literally mutated... the process of domestication. Afterall, weren't dogs once foxes or something? And who on earth would invite a fox into their home now? Like I said before, as with all my "whoever thought"s there's almost always an explanation seeping in history and a hefty dose of logic. But if I think about it on the surface it still amazes me... we let animals live in our homes! The idea that we took these wild animals and said here, live with me blows me away. You must have some equivalent to this... something rather ordinary that makes you laugh to think about.... or am I really just more curious slash odd?

This is reminding me of a blog from freshman or sophomore year about my future imaginary book entitled something along the lines of "Random Things You Never Really Wondered About, But Now You Will"... topics included things such as what happens to you during a heart transplant because you temporarily don't have a beating heart, where do gerbils come from since you never see them in the wild, and a twist on the classic "why is there a different # of hotdogs than buns in packages?" with why are toothbrush holders too small to hold toothbrushes?

Next time you're bored, play my "whoever thought it would be a good idea to..." game and if you have any level of curiosity or a bizarre sense of humor I guarantee you will be kept occupied, by your silent self, for a while. And fairly entertained at that. Then, you can bring up your silent amusing thoughts to others and watch as they stare at you, dumbfounded, wondering why you think about these things. It's a fun rainy day activity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So, I was thinking about music. Music styles, music formats. Taste in music. How it's all changed throughout my life. I can pretty much go through the timeline of my musical preferences and think of the music format I listened to, the style of music and how old I was. They're all grouped together. I'm sure it's no surprise that my early life began with cassette tapes, but I also had records. Not just parental hand-me down records, records were bought for me. Thinking back, I'm kind of surprised they still sold them new. It would be like buying a VHS nowadays.

Anyways, my cassette tape/record stage consisted of primarily "kiddie non-music" related, some music related geared for kids stuff, musicals and oldies. There are certain tapes I remember treasuring... one was my "Trisha tape"... one of those things you buy for babies to help them learn their name. In my case it got recycled past toddler years because I thought it was so cool to hear my name in all these songs. One side was for night time and the other side for morning. And all the songs were for me! "Goodnight, Trisha. Time to close your eyes, Trisha" and "Wake up, put a smile on your face Trisha!" I loved that tape. I also remember one of those tapes that accompanied an activity book... I was OBSESSED with it. Just as an example, you'd be doing a maze with a camping theme and they'd sing "We're going on a bear hunt" and tell a scary story that ends with you getting out of the maze safe and sound. I listened to the thing without the activity book all the time. Another favorite was Mary-Kate and Ashley's "I am the Cute One". Who doesn't love to dance to Broccoli and Chocolate or act out Don't Let Your Mom Go Shopping? What girl from my generation didn't fast-forward through My Horse and Me and the spoken word skits? I also had a tape that my parents had custom ordered for me... which I thought was the coolest thing in the world. It was a mix tape that was much cooler than just taping things off the radio because it had the song names printed on the tape and the tape was labeled "Trisha's Music" or something equally as standard and non-creative, but still incredibly exciting to a child because it mentions their name. It had my random oldie favorites like beach boys, chantilly lace, itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini, yakety yak, love shack, girls just wanna have fun etc. as well as some songs from musicals. This was the only music I knew to exist when I was younger. My favorite record was the Chipmunks Christmas album, but there were others, including a Strawberry Shortcake record.

I remember the first time I really realized there was other music besides oldies and musicals (and well, kid songs). I was in fourth grade and my cousin got a CD for Christmas... TLC's Crazy Sexy Cool. First of all, the fact that it was a CD was a HUGE deal to me... not many people I knew had CD players yet. I remember being shocked that he listened to this "modern music" (he was 3 years younger than me). I thought everyone listened to the type of music I did. Except for musicals, I knew not everyone listened to those. But the oldies... the groups from the 50s and 60s and the rock from the 70s and 80s. I didn't listen to a "top hits" station until 6th grade. This was also when I got my first CD, Sister Hazel, as a gift, and had to then go purchase a CD player to play it on. Thus ended the cassette tape phase of my music listening, and the oldies.

I did everything as a young teenager to feel like I fit in, as most teenagers experience at some point, to some degree. I stopped listening to my old tapes and the oldies stations, switching over to KC-101 and Kiss 95.7 and asking for the coolest new CDs. This was the teeny-bopper stage. Cassette tapes were oldies, CDs belonged to the bubblegum pop world. I followed all of the female solo girls (of which there were 4: Britney, Christina, Jessica & Mandy) and all of the boybands (mainly 3: N'Sync, Backstreet & 98 Degrees). I was OBSESSED with Christina... wore a belly-shirt to her concert to mimic Genie in a Bottle, clipped out every image of her I could find, and bought multiple versions of the same CD because each one was issued in a different country and like, a song name might be spelled differently. I bought anything fun and bubbly sounding (B*Witched anyone?). M2M was as non-mainstream as I got. And I thought they were so indie and I was so unique for finding such an awesome, different sounding group. I listen now and it's just as standard pop-ish as the rest of the music was then. I tried to watch MTV around this time too but no matter how much I wanted to like it, I couldn't get into it.

Then, there was this new fangled thing called the Internet. And with the Internet came digital music. You didn't buy CDs anymore. You downloaded them. Uploaded to an ipod. I didn't get an ipod until about 3 years ago, and even still, it's a baby ipod. A shuffle. I have yet to own a normal one. Too expensive. But you can bet I was still downloading music before I got an ipod. And with the digital music out went most of the pop-current hit listening. I'll still listen to the top-hit stations but I don't follow the current artists or buy their new cds. My taste in music changed yet again. During my older teenage years it transformed slightly from traditional sunny fun pop to more acoustic, emo-ish alternative pop. Like, I was a huge Dashboard fan, years before they became mainstream. During college years it changed yet again to a more quirky, bizarre, "anything new and different" type of sound... suddenly I'm listening to gothic cabaret, indie folk with a twinge of jazz, classical inspired electronic, bands that are as likely to play toy pianos, typewriters and wooden crates as violins or trumpets. Little artists no one has heard of. Found with the assistance of, cdbaby, and "Other people who bought this item also looked at" lists from Amazon.

Besides this progression from records and cassettes with oldies, to CDs with pop, to digital music venturing into the indie and bizarre, I also have a recent addition of associating classical with radio. I've never been a classical music person. I avidly avoided any radio stations below the 95.7 mark... which ventured into country and classical land. But lately I've turned to these classical stations when driving home late at night. It's relaxing and refreshing to hear things that are always new to me (rather than the same 12 songs repeated over and over on other stations). It has a calming effect. Classical music always reminded me of Barnes & Noble, where it always seems to be playing in the background. (Do you ever associate types of music with certain places also or is it just me? Classical belongs to Barnes & Noble. Jazz belongs to Starbucks. Easy listening of the early 90s belongs to my old Orthodontists...)

I think it's kind of amusing that with the advances in technology and each new music format that comes out I associate each with a different genre of music based on my changing preferences. And it's strange to think this may continue throughout my life... with a change in music preference will come a new music format... though I can't imagine what more can be done besides digital music and ipods... though I'm sure people once said that about Atari for gaming systems also.

Friday, October 30, 2009

So, tomorrow is Halloween. A day (well, evening) where children frolic about in overpriced costumes that get worn for a couple of hours and then shoved into the attic "for the memories". A day (well, evening) where it's okay to take things from strangers, despite constant parental reminders the other 364 days of the year to never talk to strangers, never mind accept candy from them (a stereotypical lure used by kidnappers), never mind actually EAT it (we check for pins in the chocolate first, so it's okay). A day (well, evening) where highschoolers race from door to door in their "I'm going as a teenager" costumes for the males, and for the females, their skimpy, sex-ified outfits under the pretense of being some type of "cute" animal or celebrity (despite the freezing temperatures). They beg for candy, knowing fully well they're a bit too old to be playing this game anymore and that the homeowners of where they're trick-or-treating really only want to see little children in their get ups, but they ignore these things... not because they don't want to grow up, but because, well, free candy is a good thing.

Halloween may seem like one of those holidays that's created by candy companies, but it's actually one of the world's oldest holidays. It's kind of remarkable to go through the history of Halloween and see how much it has changed over time, and how it's celebrated across the world. We think of it now as such a commercialized thing. Don't get me wrong, it definitely is, but it's roots are a far cry from the roots of say Valentine's day or mother's day. Just about everyone knows Halloween has something to do with old beliefs that spirits can come back this one night of the year. The story is part of the fun and tradition of Halloween today... ghost stories, graveyards, scary costumes, haunted houses and hayrides, horror movies... they're all associated. Now it's all fun and games but it's strange to actually think that way back when it was all taken very seriously. Family's ancestors were honored and invited home, including leaving plates of food for them at the dinner table, while harmful spirits were warded off by means of burning crops and animals in sacred bonfires as offerings to keep themselves protected. During the bonfires they wore costumes, typically animal heads and skins, to disguise themselves so evil spirits would mistake them as one of their own. I mean, this was serious stuff here. Sacrificing animals? They would also leave food on their doorsteps to appease evil spirits that roamed the streets that night. This could have contributed to the idea of trick-or-treating but it more likely stemmed from a tradition from a religious holiday, All Souls' Day-- November 2nd, where the poor would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" so long as they promised to pray for the family's dead relatives.

And somehow the non-secular and the secular joined together to make what is probably the most non-religious of all holidays. I mean, this is America, we're used to non-secular activites creeping into religious holidays... or, more like overtaking them. But Halloween isn't thought of as religious at all. And somehow it went from a day of celebration where people felt especially close to deceased loved ones (although it was also a day of sacrificing animals and burning valued crops), to a day of ghosts, pranks and witchcraft, to a holiday about bringing together the community in games, food and festivities, to a day where everyone gets free candy so long as they abide by the ever important rule of saying "trick or treat" after knocking on a stranger's door. You can see the connections between now and then (costumes, dead spirits, begging for food) but the 2000 year old road of changes still seem extreme.

I didn't intend this to be a Halloween history lesson. Alas, it has somehow turned into that. My apologies. Don't think I'm a walking encyclopedia on the topic of Halloween... merely curious, bored and an expert googler. I'm sitting here trying to think about my past halloween costumes. With the exception of costumes worn at college Halloween parties (cowgirl, 50's housewife, burglar) I honestly can not recall a single one. When I was younger I'm sure I obsessed over finding the perfect costume each year, and now I don't remember one of them. I'm even trying to think through the standard costume categories to see if some memory is ignited but I've got nothing. It's all a bit disappointing. Anyway, I think the concept of getting dressed up and running around your neighborhood for free candy is incredibly bizarre. I mean, really... take a step back... ignore the history lesson I just gave, ignore the fact that it's something you grew up with, and just think about it. We put on costumes. We ask people to give us candy, but it's not rude. We actually pick through their offerings to decide which we deem most worthy to be given to us. Again, not rude. We carve faces in pumpkins.

I'm just saying. We carve faces in pumpkins.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm giving in. Explanation of opening statement later... background info now.

For the past ten years I have been an avid Harry Potter fanatic. I've read the books at least 6 times each, have the three supplemental books J.K. Rowling wrote for charities (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages & Tales of Beedle the Bard), own multiple HP analysis/reference/opinion books, visited probably 912,000 times, contributed to discussions slash sent in either opinion or critical essays 612,000 of those times and of course, own all the available movies and have watched them to the point of memorization. At one point I even started an encyclopedia study-guide type list of all Harry Potter facts I came across while reading. (It was never finished but I somehow doubt that makes me appear any less of an extremist). I satisfied my HP craving before the final book release by gobbling up the countless, highly inaccurate 900 page "leaked" versions of Deathly Hallows that were inconceivably written (and formatted to look authentic) by highly ambitious fanatics with way too much time on their hands, read the 800 word prequel (actually written by J.K. Rowling) within 20 minutes of its unannounced online release, and still seek out new essays and analysis of the stories and characters. I'm up to date on the development of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, set to open this Spring... anyways, I think you get it. When I said I'm a fanatic I wasn't using the word lightly.

I firmly believe that anyone who picks up Harry Potter and gives it an honest shot will become hooked, no matter how much they claim to hate reading. I get highly defensive... I'm very protective of this phenomenon of a series. I largely credit it as the reason I'm a reader today, as I rarely picked up a book prior to Harry Potter out of a sheer desire to read. Well, (this is going to seem like a big jump of topic) when Lord of the Rings came around it was too much for me and my fifteen year-old self to bear. Yes, I know LOTR was published over forty years prior to Harry Potter, but I feel like its fanatascism with my generation wasn't really ignited until the movies came out... which was right around the time I had gotten into the Harry Potter series. I'll admit, I didn't jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon right away. I started reading the series after the third book was released... when there was enough hype to make me curious. Like I said, I wasn't a reader beforehand. Of course, I was instantly hooked. Two years later, the first LOTR movie comes out and critics and fans are PRAISING this thing. I had always thought of LOTR as one of those books that was only read by those weird, fantasy obsessed, dreams about dragons, plays Magic: The Gathering, quotes Star Wars daily type of nerds. Far from mainstream, more like a small cult following... like Rocky Horror fans or something. And all of a sudden, EVERYONE was talking about this movie, reading the series. I absolutely refused. The only series that deserved this level of hype and fandom was Harry Potter. I would not be involved in something that in any way competed. It became Harry Potter fans vs. Lord of the Ring fans. In my mind at least. A new craze fighting the rekindled fanatacism of 45 years earlier. I was proud to announce I hadn't seen the movies. Comfortable with the fact that I didn't know who Frodo was or "get it" when people started muttering "my precious" in an odd voice. Give me Harry Potter, ignore "that other fantasy series".

Like I said, I didn't understand the LOTR craze or think it deserved a moment's glory. I was shocked, therefore, in tenth grade to hear my english teacher, Dr. Liberman (who any Amity high schooler thinks of as the most brilliant, cultured academic to hit the entirety of New England, and often thought she should be a professor at Yale instead. Seriously, I know someone who has her listed as their religion on facebook) what was I saying??? Oh right, someone asked Dr. Liberman what her favorite book was. We all expected her to pause and consider from among the plethora of worthy novels she's read in her life, or rattle off a handful of titles, claiming each is respectable in its own right. The thing is, we were actually interested... like I said, she was like a literary God- hearing her answer would be like interviewing Charles Dickens' and getting his response. Well, there was no hesitation on her end. She instantly replied that Lord of the Rings is the best thing ever written and went into a detailed analysis of its literary goodies after stating how she sets aside a week of her winter vacation every year to re-read the trilogy. I was horrified. How could she think this? She didn't seem like a medieval sword loving, dreams about dragons type. Are the books actually something more than just your standard fantasy story blown into astronomical, unwarranted proportions by an obsessive America? I respected Dr. Liberman's opinion more than nearly anyone I knew, so I had to believe her. But I still refused to read. I didn't want to be swept up in anything but my Harry Potter. I was still angry by all of the attention Lord of the Rings was getting.

Fast forward nine years and I still haven't read it, still haven't seen the movies. I don't get quite as angry as I used to if Lord of the Rings is mentioned, though I will admit I get more satisfaction than I used to when I see people's shocked reactions upon hearing I haven't seen any of the movies. But another new series has also entered into the category of extreme fandom. This one, I'll admit I was completely unaware of until the movie came out last year. Of course, I'm talking about Twilight. I don't know if the release of the movie sparked people to read the series more or if they were reading all along and I was clueless, but my recognition of the Twilight craze started last year. Here was further competition. Competition that was harder to beat now that all of the Harry Potter books were released. I'm more grown-up now than I was at fifteen... arguable, I'll admit.... so, I was less "bothered" by the Twilight series than LOTR... I would just not read the books and that was that. No need to get angry or argue with fans. To each their own. Just let me have my Harry Potter and the rest of America can read whatever inferior series they desire.

Now, to my opening statement. I'm giving in. After all this time, all of this protesting and defending, I'm going to read Lord of the Rings as well as Twilight. Why now? Well, first off, I have this impossible goal to read all of the greatest books ever written, and see all of the greatest movies ever made. There are lots of definitions of the word greatest. In this context, in my mind, greatest books means the classics 90% of America can name off the top of their head, plus "current" best-sellers... anything that's become a recognizable name among those who frequent Borders or Barnes and Noble. Greatest movies means "the permanents" on's ever changing list of top 250 movies. I have come to accept the fact that Lord of the Rings fits into both the book and the movie category, and sadly, Twilight fits into the book category as well. I'm being harsh, but really... if there's a good book out there, I want to read it. There's something to say about so many people loving these stories, so I'm giving them a try. Besides all that, I really have been curious since Dr. Liberman's announcement of her favorite book. I'll be honest, I'm expecting to enjoy Lord of the Rings... probably become an obsessive fan, years later than the rest of the world... at the very least, gain a respect for the trilogy. I can't really conceive of the fact that it is a bad series, despite secretly hoping that I in fact, end up hating it. Twilight though, I expect to hate. I have never enjoyed a single "love story" novel, no matter how many other genres they squeeze in there. That, coupled with the fact that it really is geared to teenage girls, and deals with vampires (no matter how re-invented they are), and the fact that many, many, many critics and writers have said the author can't write at all, leads me to believe I will not enjoy this series.... probably hate it... possibly, enjoy it as a guilty pleasure, though admitting to myself that it's really pretty bad... definitely not respect it.

So there we go... I'm letting go of my Harry Potter defensive ways just enough to give these other series a go, knowing that they could never replace Harry Potter and that Harry would still win in an imaginary battle between any of the Lord of the Ring characters or whatever evilness resides in the Twilight series. I'm sure I'll have updates. As for now, I need to muster up the determination to actually go GET the Lord of the Rings. I've made the decision to read it but picking up the book too soon might scare me off. Need to get comfortable with the idea first.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The other night I went bowling after a performance with friends who are also in the show. Besides thinking back to when I shamefully desired "bumpers" at age 14 but was too embarrassed to ask slash be seen playing with them, I found myself remembering how my dad glorified bowling alley french fries. Whenever we went bowling he would say "Have to get the french fries! Nothing compares to bowling alley fries" and as an adoring child I believed him whole-heartedly... that no other french fries in the world could compare to those found at your local AMF 30-laner. That was the other thing... it didn't matter what bowling alley it was: 10-pin or duckpin, 4 lanes or 50, national chain or hole-in-the-wall local, if they had a food bar (and they all do) and they had fries (and they all do) they would be phenomenal (and somehow they all are). I remembered his little tip: to always eat them with your left hand so your bowling hand didn't get greasy. I took these things as facts that I lived by... bowling alley fries are fantastic and when you get them, eat with your left hand. There was no arguing either of these. They were just true. To this day, I believe both... and while I'm not obsessive about only eating with my left hand, I still smile thinking back on this little tip that at the time I thought was a golden secret the rest of the world would only be so lucky to know. This got me thinking about other things from when I was younger.... things that I accepted as fact, and in some ways, lived by, in the appropriate situations (such as, when at a bowling alley)... things that intrigued me... that I found to be special in some way, even though when looking back they're at best simple and banal and at worst, illogical and idiotic. Allow me to divulge...

Let's start with one that's completely illogical but fairly saccharine. (Sorry for the formal word choice, it just came out.) One time when I was very young and sick with a stomach ache, my dad asked if I wanted him to rub my tummy (there's no grown up way of saying that). I told him no, that that never worked and it was a fake and stupid remedy that tried to convince your mind that it was like a medicine but really it did nothing (I was a clever, stubborn child who wasn't assuaged by the usual signs of parental love for a sick child). He told me that I must have been rubbing the wrong way. I was clever and stubborn, but also curious... what did he mean by the wrong way? He told me that if you go in circles in one direction you will feel better but if you go in circles in the other direction, you will actually feel worse. At the time he told me if it was clockwise or counterclockwise that did the healing. I don't remember which it was. This idea totally comforted me and I believed it 100% (how clever was I really?). My whole life I must have just been rubbing in the bad direction! What I now see as an obvious parental trick to get your child to feel better, at the time it was another secret tip-- one only my dad would know, and I felt lucky to receive this tiny speck of wisdom. In the future, whenever I got sick I would forget which direction was "the good one" and ultimately "remember" after my testing both directions and deciding that one felt infinitely better than the other. One time I remember I couldn't figure it out and I asked my mom which direction it was. She had no idea what I was talking about and told me it didn't matter how I did it. Obviously, my father hadn't clued her in on his cure for the stomach ache, or at least he didn't realize I would take it so seriously. While this should have been a sign that his medicinal rule was in fact made-up, instead it made me smile that my mother didn't know.... it was mine and my dad's secret... a tidbit of information so special that he didn't even tell it to her.

Here's another one that stems from an anecdote of my fourth-grade teacher. Fourth grade was the year you were forced to write in cursive for every assignment turned in. By fifth grade it was pretty much your choice, but in fourth grade, if you handed something in with printing, you had to redo it. An attempt to force us to be comfortable with script. Well, telling any fourth grader they HAVE to do something typically leads to complaining, or at least quiet resentment. To us 9 year olds, who had been writing in printing for our whole lives, an entire 3 and 1/2 years, cursive was the most unneccesary, complicated, useless thing to learn. Who cares if you can write words without lifting up your pencil (which is the reason every teacher gave as the benefit of learning cursive). It saves, what... point-oh-nine seconds? While I was an incredibly respectful child who NEVER questioned authority (and teachers were the highest authority of all), in my most secret thoughts I too decided that the minute I didn't have to, I would never write in cursive again. That is, until my 4th grade teacher shared this story... one day when my fellow classmates were, once again, complaining and questioning the reasoning behind having to write in script, she told us how she received a letter a few years back from an old student of hers and she was in complete shock when she saw that it was in printing and not cursive. She smiled in a knowing way and promised us that we will all eventually see that cursive is so much easier... it saves time and your hands never cramp, and that this letter she received surprised her so much because every adult she knows writes in cursive, except this ex-student of hers. While this was essentially a re-hashing of the "cursive is more efficient & easier to do" speech, this story fascinated me. I believed at that moment that every adult wrote in cursive and decided that this would be my own way of realizing when I'm an adult... when I prefer script to printing. I would be mature and grown-up the day I agreed with her and thought that cursive is easier and printing is a waste. Completely ridiculous, but it's what I thought. When fifth grade approached and I was allowed to actually choose between script or printing, I still went back to printing. Why? Because it was part of the process. At that moment in my fifth-grade life, I thought printing was better. I hadn't reached my stage of penmanship enlightenment yet. And that was okay with me. For the record, I never switched over to primarily writing in script. I don't feel guilty or immature. Part of me sometimes fantasizes about writing her a letter in printing, and picturing her being horrified.

Another school related one comes from gym class... my worst enemy. I was that child who hated gym. Who wore dresses on gym days in hopes of being told to sit out of the activity. I enjoyed two things and two things alone: rope climbing days (because it's fun to see a rope dangling from the ceiling) and the Connecticut physical fitness tests (because I liked to be better than everyone else). While not competitive in sports or organized games, I was highly competitive when it came to dance and schoolwork. Included in schoolwork is all forms of tests, and I wanted to be the best at the physical fitness tests. There were the passing marks and then the "challenge marks", for those of superior childhood health. Merely passing would not make me happy. Merely achieving the challenge goals would not make me happy. I had to surpass the challenge marks by at least 5 for things scored numerically (sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups), come in 20 seconds under the challenge mile time, and be the very best of my entire grade at the sit-and-reach. If any of those were not achieved then I failed. We were practicing our mile runs in preparation for the test and I was only barely making the challenge time during these classes. While I was praised by the gym teacher, who normally saw me as the girl purposefully ignoring the games and putting in zero effort, I knew that my times would not do. Once, he said to the class how the most important thing in running is to establish a breathing pattern and that he always did "out-out-in-in" in short breaths while he ran. He credited this as the reason he was able to run fast and not get very tired. That was it. The key to my success. From there on out I wouldn't even walk in the hallways without breathing out-out-in-in. I once overheard a friend tell another classmate that her dad ran every morning and that he didn't breathe that way and that the gym teacher's method was wrong, it would hurt your time and is bad for your body. Again, I rolled my eyes at her inferior sense of judgement. Obviously, the gym teacher was right and if she chose not to take his tip then it's just another person I would outrun. I ended up reaching all of my physical fitness goals, and finished behind only one boy in my class in the mile that year. I KNEW it was because of my breathing.

Here's another one, somewhat related. Like I said, I was very competitive in dance, though very quietly so. I secretly wanted to move up in the company levels faster than everyone else. I wanted to have the highest kicks. I wanted to be front and center all the time. I wanted to be thought of as the best in the class. One thing that destroyed my self-esteem in dance for the longest time (aka until fifth-grade) was that I couldn't do a split. For me, who strove to be better than everyone else (at least I'll admit it), to be the highest off the ground in my class when we practiced our splits was absolutely mortifying. I'd go home and cry afterward, sure that all the other girls were laughing at me and how I was so bad at them. Once, my teacher saw me get teary eyed (which by fifth grade, yes you're still young, but not young enough anymore that it's commonplace to cry in a group of people when you're frustrated or embarrassed). It was on a parent observation day and I was so embarrassed by my splits and that my mother, and all the other parents, had to see them compared to everyone else's. The teacher came up to my mother after class and reassured her that I would eventually be able to do a split. She said it to my mother as if I weren't there but knowing that I was listening in... I think it was an attempt to save me from further embarrassment by not directly addressing me about it. She told her that all I had to do was straighten my back leg and eventually I'd be able to get all the way down. I had never heard this straighten the back leg rule before. I went home and immediately began practicing splits with a straight back leg. In class I'd still bend the back leg because it gave the appearance of being lower to the ground... when both legs were straight I was waaaaay too high off the ground for me to deem it acceptable for others to see. I felt like my teacher let this little rule slip just to me because she liked me the most of all the girls and wanted me to do well (I was a self-centered and insecure little child who, despite severe social anxiety and shyness, craved praise and admiration). A year or two later I had my splits all the way down and had progressed to doing beyond-splits (absolutely awful for your body, but impressive when you can go past 180 degrees). I became one of "the more flexible girls" and mentally thanked my teacher for giving me this secret piece of fail-proof advice. It was like I was given the gift of a piece of magic. This straight back leg rule makes complete sense physiologically but at the time it was something I obsessed over and thought no one else knew.

In summary I was an overly, overly conscientious and egocentric child.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A blog about cars. No, not about sports cars or a new car purchase or detailing and "ride pimping" or... I don't know... venting about used car salesmen. More like a couple of random anecdotes regarding events of this past weekend, both dealing with cars. (Can the end of that sentence be considered a clever pun? Dealing with cars... car dealer... I'll admit it wasn't intentional, but I find it amusing after-the-fact. I consider it a funny on my end. You should too. ... additional side note that I didn't want to do a "parentheses in a parentheses" for so I added a dot dot dot within this set of parentheses despite the fact that it's a relatively separate comment (don't know the technical term for a dot dot dot)... darn, parentheses in parentheses, unavoidable. Anyways, long-winded way of saying additional note, I just spent 15 minutes looking up figures of speech to try and determine if what I said was actually a pun versus a euphemism, hyperbole or whatever else... 15 minutes later and I still don't know what it is. Funny that I spent so long looking up that, to no avail, yet I don't look up the real name of a "dot dot dot", though I could probably find the answer to that in under a minute.) Anyways, returning from ongoing side note land....

So, car anecdote #1: You know that horrible moment when you get out of your car and then think to yourself, uh oh.... what did I just do with my keys? And 9 times out of 10 they're in your purse, where you absent-mindedly placed them several seconds earlier as if on auto-pilot, without realizing you had done it. The remaining one out of every ten times they're on the roof of your car or, god forbid, locked inside. Well, Saturday evening I pulled into my driveway and had this moment of panic mere seconds after getting out of my car. Instinctively, I rummaged through the depths of my purse, even though I knew if my keys were there they would be somewhere right on top. After 21 seconds of rummaging I walked back to my car, where I saw them, taunting me on the passenger seat. Okay... not a problem. I'll get the spare. Go inside my house, go to where we keep all of the spare keys, sift through about 19 different sets, don't find my car key. Where's the spare? Let's call people who may know... 15 minutes later, no one knows. Good... missing a car key. I have a valet key, but that's in the car. Time to call AAA. I've never had to call AAA from the luxury of my own home, as its always been a "call from my cell phone, whilst sitting in my non-functional car and usually freezing or sweating to death" type of situation. Calling from home with no immediate needed usage of the car, a definite bonus. Of course, it was this situation where they showed up in 10 minutes, rather than the usual 50+ minute waiting time. Now, watching the half-hour scene that ensued upon AAA man's arrival was mildly hilarious. Let's call this part of the story "Problem Solving 101, or Unsophisticated Methods of Breaking Into a Car". So, some young guy shows up with a rubber wedge type of device and what looked like one of those orange sticks you use when checking the oil level for your car... except elongated to about eight feet. He shoves the wedge in the upper part of my driver's side door, by the window, and sort of hammers it in a bit, to create a gap between the car and the door. Next step... inserts the orange stick. He fumbles around with it a bit... clearly trying to get it to poke the automatic lock button. I stand there, silently watching. 8 minutes later he asks me if it's a "push lock" or a "pull lock". I reply push, to which he groans and says "that explains it". (Sentence sounds raunchy out of context, first part anyways) Then he realizes it's too dark to see what he's doing so he pulls out his cellphone, which he has to open and close every 10 seconds in order to utilize it as a makeshift source of light. I fully realize that at any point I could have gotten him a flashlight or at least offered to hold his cellphone for him and be the designated opener/closer, but my sitting back and watching was much more enjoyable. He tries pushing rather than pulling the automatic lock for several minutes before switching to work on the manual lock... who knows whether he was trying to push or to pull with that one.

Fastforward another few minutes and he switches to the passenger side door. My immediate thought... does he really think it will be easier on this side versus the symmetric other side he was just trying? I quickly realized that he gave up on pushing/pulling any of the interior locks, be them automatic or manual, and switched instead to trying to hook the keys from my passenger seat onto the orange stick and move them up and out of the tiny space created by the wedge-like apparatus. It's at this moment that I curse the large gaughtiness of my keychain preferences. After several attempts at squeezing the set of keys through the wedged gap he tries to just get them close enough that he can stick his finger in the gap and press the unlock button on the key. This doesn't work either. The keys fall from the orange stick, as if in slow motion. He prods the keys with the stick end, apparently trying to press the unlock button on the keys, but all this does is slide the keys around on the car seat. It seems all hope is lost. He pauses, whether he was contemplating the next move or giving his other hand a rest from opening and closing his phone, who knows. He decides to give "bringing the keys out of the wedge gap" an attempt #2. Unsuccessful. But attempt #9 worked. The keys fit out the gap. Who knows how. I thank him for the amusing show and he's on his way. If you were to ever break into a car, I don't think an 8 foot orange stick would go unnoticed, nor the likely half-hour time block it would take to accomplish your feat of law breaking. Not to mention that how this guy managed to successfully get into my car depended upon the keys being locked inside in a visible and "easily accessible" location in the first place.... if I were you I'd just smash the window and replace it later.

On to car anecdote #2: This story has two parts really. First part... I'm driving home at some crazy late hour of say 3:30 a.m. on Friday night slash Saturday morning. As I pull onto my road I see what seems like 8 kids scatter from the middle of the road and run into a nearby yard. Teenagers on a sleepover, I assume. Slow down and drive by them, continue up the street, eventually pulling into my driveway. I was on my cellphone and didn't want to go inside yet, which would risk waking others up and them overhearing my conversation. So I turned off the car and sat there, still talking. Fastforward maybe 40 seconds and I see someone run up to my drivers side door, from behind the car and then like hit it and run in the other direction. I SCREAMED like I didn't know I was capable of screaming. (I have this odd fear that I will be attacked someday and not be capable of screaming because whenever I've tried to fake a scream a.k.a. scream in a non-frightening situation, it hasn't come out right. Now at least I know I can scream.) My first thought was that it was my brother trying to scare me, then I realized he's not 14 anymore and also, probably not awake. Instantaneously I come to the conclusion that it's those kids I passed by, who wanted to scare me so they must have chased my car up the street... otherwise how would they know it was me and my car, since I turned my car off upon pulling into the driveway? Remember, I'm still on the phone. So I'm explaining what just happened, the cause of my ungodly scream, when what seems like only 10 seconds later the same kid runs up to my driver's side window while another comes up to the passenger side. They yell something to each other ("what is she doing?") and I hear the passenger side door handle click. Sound like a horror movie yet? Thank goodness my car automatically locks so the door didn't open. I pound my window frantically and the kids scream and run away. I'm so shocked by what just happened and that these stupid teenagers actually chased my car up the road just to be jerks that I'm just angry, rather than frightened at this point. I'm expressing this on the phone, as I look around to see where any of these kids are and see absolutely none. While normally I would be paranoid and think they're hiding behind my car or a tree, I had an odd sense of knowing they left. I got out of the car, made sure it was locked and not even running, half-tempting them to come back and dare face me, went in the house, locking the door behind me. I was prepared to call the cops, half-convinced they would come back and hit my bedroom window or something to freak me out even further. And although I probably could have called based on what just happened alone, I thought of it more as a "stupid, annoying teenagers, need to grow up" thing than a threat to my safety. Though I didn't think about what could have happened if the one had gotten my door open.

That was part 1. Part 2 occurred 2 days later. I'm lying in bed, it's the morning and I'm awake but lazy and don't want to get up yet. I hear the phone ring and my brother answer it and hang up a few seconds later. I hear my mom ask who it was and he says "it was a recorded message from the police saying there has been a string of car break-ins and robberies in our neighborhood between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m. over the past few days so be sure to lock our cars and leave nothing valuable in them." I sit up in bed. No wayyyyyy.... I think to myself. Those annoying kids were car thieves... or, more accurately, car item thieves? Obviously I'm making a huge assumption, but it's a natural, albeit proof-lacking, conclusion. I decide to tackle my phone-phobia and call the police, partially to be a good citizen and partially because part of me likes being a tattle-tale when I know it's right. They listen to my story and say they're sending a cop over right away to get a written record of my account. Cop car pulls in the driveway a couple of minutes later. I re-tell the story again. I give the physical description of the one-kid I saw, halfway hoping they brought one of those "draws the criminal's faces based on the description" dudes with them, knowing they probably didn't. I'm asked if I could recognize him in a line-up. (This is fun!) My imagination again goes wild and I picture them having a whole line-up of men having to say "what the f*** is she doing?" one at a time, so I can pick out their voice as well. I'm sure I won't even be called again, but I can have my 2 second "crime witness with-little-risk-to-myself-because-criminal-is-a-kid-and-it's-a-petty-items-in-a-car-theft" fantasy. The cop gives me more detail on the case than I am fairly certain he's supposed to before leaving. Now I have some paranoia that the children's gang will find out I gave them a lead and destroy my car or something. But really I'm just hoping to hear some exaggerated, will never happen, story on the news about a group of underage car bandits who were stopped before causing more havoc to an otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Finally, a comment only (very) mildly related that interestingly enough seems more relevant due to the previous mention of looking up figures of speech... the homonym-like relationship between cars and my last name, Carr. Fairly obvious, I know... that connection in and of itself is not what I wanted to point out here. I feel like everyone at some point growing up thought up funny names... Eileen Dover, Anita Bath, Paige Turner, etc. Well at some point my brother and I realized our grandfather actually has a name like this... his full name is Robert Alan Carr... nothing strange, but you could call him Rob A. Carr, pretty funny. This weekend we joked that my brother should name his first daughter Lisa. Any others you can think of? Okay, so it wasn't related at all other than containing the word car.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So, another audition story. I've been determined lately to wait around until a non-theatre related blog topic came to mind because I don't want to bore you all with my redundant themeage here. However, this one's too unique to pass up and frankly I want to be able to go back, read this and remember the bizarre experience. So feel free to consider this a self-indulgent blog for my memory's sake and not for any of you. Anyways, it was an audition for A Chorus Line. If I were to get a part it would be my third time doing this musical. One might say I'm addicted to the show. Ironically, I don't love the show itself. But, it has a lot of great parts and is one of very few shows out there where I feel like (in pre-professional theatre land) dance wouldn't hold me back from getting a role. I always knew the music and the general idea of the show but when I first saw it however many, many years back I remember thinking "okay... there are five people in this show I would love to play at some point" (do you know me? can you name them? haha). I consider myself lucky to have been able to play one of them already. This time around I'm hoping for one of three of the remaining four. (One too many numbers in that sentence there.... haha... one too.... one two....) Anyways.

I get there all prepared in my "I'm a dancer but not trying too hard" outfit, my dance bag full of 8 different kinds of dance shoes and my sheet music for a song that's slightly different from the style of the show but shows off both a lighter side as well as the big old belt, i.e. some variety and range all packed into 16 bars. I'm a little nervous, as always, and a bit frazzled because I was 5 minutes late for when the "optional" warm-up was supposed to start. However, nothing had begun yet and everyone was just sitting around so it was all good. My friend Janice was there too so I was very happy to know someone else there. About 8 of us showed up for the warmup. Now, I knew going into this that the choreographer was a ballet guy. Didn't know what to expect or how that whole ballet background thing would go over with this show or the audition. The warmup was a ballet barre. Okay, that's fine. Don't get to do much stretching really, but I can do that before the actual dance audition bit, right? Let me say that the fact that this was called an "optional warmup" was kind of silly. After the ballet barre we went center floor and then did stuff across the floor. Essentially he was assessing our basic skills. Turns. Kicks. Jumps. It was a Dance 101 class, "show me that you have the essentials down". I seriously bet that anyone who wasn't there for this "warmup" was at a huge disadvantage. Especially once we found out what the dance part of the audition would consist of. At the end of the warmup he threw on some salsa music, taught us one little cha-cha type step that we did a couple of times. I figured he was just trying to see if we could move a little more freely, with some personality. Then he tells us we're to do that salsa step and then improv for 16 counts. Fine. I can do that. Throws me off a bit but whatever. Then we're told we can leave and they'll call us in one by one in a bit. Naturally, I go and choreograph my 16 counts of "improv". Well.... I'm called in and the 16 counts goes by and then there's another 16 counts, and another, and some more.... in the end I ended up having to improv for about 3 minutes all while the choreographer shouted things like "show me something!.... and jump!... turn out of it... start from the top!" (the top of improv?). It was insane-o. Considering I haven't had an actual dance class in 2 years and that the basic ballet 101 warmup deal that brought me back to 4th grade nearly killed me, I was dead after 3 minutes. I'm out of practice and out of shape. But I did it and I did it as well as I possibly could, considering it was improv. Today, day after, I have that sore but strong thing going on... it feels good. Anyways, as each person was coming out of this 3 minute improv thing we all started talking, wondering if there would be an actual combination to learn, a legit dance audition if you will. I had a feeling that the improv would be it. I couldn't imagine going through 3 minutes with everyone to then teach and perform a combination as well. My guess was right. The salsa improv was the dance audition. I really think all they could have gathered from that was whether you had rhythm, some level of confidence, some personality, and I suppose some basic technique... assuming with your improv you decided to do some actual dance stuff versus all salsa stylistic things. When I list it out like that it does seem to cover the essentials but I didn't mean it to be a positive statement. haha. I just mean that a huge part of this show is technique and that wasn't necessarily seen unless some auditioner is an excellent improver. As for me, I decided mid move what I would do previously... my body was behind my mind. Wait... reverse that... mind behind the body. As a result I'd be prepping for a jump and deciding on my way up what jump to do and wondering on the way down what I just did. But I feel like I committed to everything, even if my mind was confused. Commitment is essential. On to the singing/acting component...

This part of the audition was a little more standard but very brief and still a little bizarre. The group of 8 of us or however many were all called in at once. We're told we're each going to read from the show and sing. They say "you're all singing from the show right?" to which everyone else responds with an immediate yes except Janice and I who look at each other, look back at them and then say "well, we can!". I guess with this place you're expected to sing from the show and that's pretty much it. Good thing I know the music. As I'm announcing what part I'd like to read for and sing I'm deciding which part I will read for and sing. Though I intended to ask to read for Val, I asked for Kristine at the last second, mainly because I'm nervous and you can be nervous when reading for her but Val has to be beyond confident. And then I sing Val's song. The accompanist played it literally about one-eigthth of its normal speed. No, that's not right. Much slower. It was painfully slow. Painfully. We didn't get a chance to set the tempo beforehand and I hate those auditioners who look at the pianist all panicked and annoyed like trying to get them to speed up. I had a feeling he wasn't going to follow if I sped up anyways... I halfway attempted it during one of the lines that's spoken but then ended up just having to wait for the music to catch up to me. So I sang my 4 bars or so of Dance 10, Looks 3 as a ballad. All's good. That's right, it was about 4 bars. Sure I'm an exaggerator and I'm exaggerating a bit here too but it was really short. And that was the audition. 3 minutes of improv dance, 10 seconds of singing, 8 seconds of dialogue. And from that they pick the line. How? I have no idea. I was going into this thing already with a "we'll see what happens" kind of attitude rather than a "I need to get this or I will cry with disappointment". Partly because 2 of the last 3 shows I did were Chorus Line so it wouldn't KILL me to not do it again so soon, partly because it is a long drive to rehearsals, partly because I'm already in a show right now, partly because I know other shows I could audition for instead if I don't get this and partly because I'm learning more and more to not put all my hopes into auditions because it usually leads to disappointment. Really, at this point I'm just curious... curious how this show will be run, curious how they'll cast it, curious as to what parts they may consider me for even if I'm not offered one (which I'll presumably find out when callbacks are announced). We shall see...

Friday, July 24, 2009

So I just finished creating an extra long, extra intense, extra detailed, extra insane "Who are you most like from A Chorus Line?" quiz. Yes, to answer your question, I am that cool. My motivation stemmed out of boredom and I knew creating this quiz would be a process that would eat up a lot of empty time, but still be fun for me... for one, I knew I would include all 19 main characters... the line crew plus zach and larry. This meant each question would need 19 possible options. Also, it meant I would need a lot of questions... since there would be so many options it would be easy to select answers that belong to a whole array of characters and therefore get an inconclusive/inaccurate result. It also meant writing up little summary result things for each character ("You are so and so because...") and finding a great picture of each character to go with it... because pictures are fun. So, in summary I wasted a lot of time putting together this ridiculous quiz that probably about 7 people will take.

To me though it was fun... and I'm used to this sort of thing. Well, not writing quizzes. I mean the character analysis junk that goes into it. I know these Chorus Line characters inside and out, but very few people ever think about say, what the character's favorite childhood game would have been (question #9). Well, I'm one of those very few people. All because of one of my first directors, who I did 4 or 5 shows with. It was one of my first musicals, I never really did any acting before, and I had a bit part... a role, but a tiny one without much character development or anything. I was young and had no idea there was any sort of "method" to acting, nevermind multiple methods and I never considered in-depth character analysis. Well, about a week into rehearsals this director gave everyone in the cast, ensemble included, a homework project. We all had to write a detailed analysis of who we were, our character. It could be a list but it had to be as comprehensive as possible. Full name, physical characteristics, personality, family background, interests, favorites (everything... book, movie, food, music group...), least favorites, fears, hopes, what you're ashamed of, what your friends think of you, what your enemies think of you, what you think of you.... you get the idea. If you could think of something else to add, great. In the end it meant each of us had to research the time period so we could give appropriate answers for the character and we had to really give some thought as to who our characters were. It gave everyone a story and our director made sure we knew our story inside and out. I'll never forget one time I walked into a scene and the director stopped me immediately and said "where did you just come from?" then "why are you going here now?" and questioned every response I gave as well. In other words if I said "home" she'd say "where's home? what were you doing there?". It was a mortifying experience for me, someone who doesn't much enjoy answering questions about herself, nevermind "making up" answers on the fly about "someone else"... and feeling interrogated is hard when you're someone who can shut down under verbal pressure. But for that very reason you can be sure I thought of all of these things before ever walking onto a scene again. So, very early on I learned what it meant to really know your character and become that character. It was my first lesson in acting and something I use to this day.

Creating this quiz brought back all of those memories, of the character profiles and such, since that's essentially what I did for these 19 characters. And it made me wonder, if I were to create "a profile" for myself, what would I find? If I had to sum up my life and who I am and then read it over, in its summarized, list-like form what impression would I get of myself and would I like what I see? It would certainly be a lesson in self-discovery. I'm not going to lie, I think I would make one of the world's best character studies. haha. My mother was talking with me at dinner the other night, asking me all sorts of questions about how I think in various situations. At one point I laughed and asked why she was asking me all of this. Her response? "I know you better than 99% of the rest of the people in your life and you're still such a mystery to me. You intrigue me". My response? "So you like psychoanalyzing me?" Her response? "I do". I've always thought of myself as a very self-aware individual with strong perceptions. But I've just recently started learning new things about myself. Things that intrigue even me. Not all of which I'm proud of. Many of them seem to contradict other aspects of who I am, thereby expanding the interest of my imaginary character profile tenfold and then some. I'm not sure yet if these things are just new realizations, but parts of me that have always been there, or if they're new to my life... changes from growing up and coming into my own. Probably a mix of both.

Maybe the next time I'm bored and want to waste a few hours I'll do this suped up character analysis of myself and call it a condensed auto-biography. Part of me is afraid of what I'd see, but part of me knows everyone has strengths and flaws. I'm one of those people who believes that everyone, underneath it all, is good and worthy of respect and love. Everyone does what they think is best... whether it's best for themselves, best for others or a combination of the two... and both things are important, neither is better than the other. I may just be discovering some things about myself, and good or bad, they're making me feel more connected to myself, to others and to the world around me. Which is a good thing. The more I live, observe and experience the more I'm enjoying the learning process of life.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So, I finally have something blog-worthy. My hilarious injury stories. That's right, I used the words hilarious and injuries in the same sentence. Some of my funniest memories happen to coincide with moments of excruciating pain. And they all have to do with theatre/dance. Let's skip further pre-amble and jump right in...

Story number one goes back a little over a year ago, early January of '08. I'm back at Wheaton for pre-season for dance company... the best slash worst time of the college year (for theatre folk equate it to hell week). Essentially, we're in rehearsal for 8 hours a day, everyday, for about 9 days straight... learning up to 7 new works from the various choreographers that come in and reviewing the old routines from last semester that we probably forgot over Christmas break. You know an injury is coming since I gave the blog topic away in the opening paragraph... you would probably assume it would happen on day 6 or so.... when I'm somewhat into the process and my body is just overworked. Probably would also assume it happened mid extreme dance move. Such was not the case. Try day #1 during warm-ups. We're sitting on the floor, essentially in "indian position", which I know is probably a politically incorrect term, but I don't know what else to call it... criss cross apple sauce? Anyways, we're sitting like that and leaning our bodies forward, over our legs... nothing intense or anything, and I feel an odd sort of pop/pull on the right side of my back. It doesn't hurt, just felt funny. I think to myself, "hmm, that was weird" but kept going through the exercise. I finish the entire floor warmup, still not in any sort of pain. Then I stand up and I can feel it. Nothing too bad, but I knew I had a long week+ of dancing ahead of me so I asked to sit down, maybe stretch it out some more. Well, fast forward about 2 minutes and I'm on the floor, unable to move ANYTHING, and sobbing uncontrollably. Some college health guy comes in to examine me and he can't get me to so much as lift my pinkie without my screaming out in pain (no exaggeration). It's pretty clear, I need to go to the hospital. An ambulance and stretcher come to pick me up. They give me an insane dosage of morphine through the IV at the hospital because I keep saying I don't feel its effect, I'm still in insane pain. The doctor man tells me it's as clear a diagnosis as possible, I merely threw out my back. I think he HAS to be wrong... there's no way that's all this is. I couldn't even move my pinkie without a shooting pain stemming from my back. He insists that's all it is. I still think he is wrong, but I don't argue. Only thing to do, he says, is get enough morphine in me so that I'm able to get out to a car and get home... he'll write me a prescription for Percocet or something and some anti-inflammatory jazz that I'm allowed to take up to 4 times a day and I'll have to be on complete bed-rest for at least 2 weeks. I'm complaining because I'm not feeling the morphine and I'm convinced there's no way I will ever be able to get to a car unless they completely sedate me and do it themselves. Eventually they tell me if they give me any more morphine it would be too dangerous (after commenting on my unnaturally high level of tolerance for it and utter shock that they weren't even noticing it having any sort of effect on me) and that I should try getting out to the car. Well, the minute I stand up boy do I FEEL THE MORPHINE. I got super super dizzy but was able to slowly wabble out to the car, relying heavily on my friend Laura, who went with me in the ambulance, and the dance company director, who showed up later at the hospital and would be driving us both back to campus. Now, on the car ride home Cheryl (dance director) says I have to get some food in my system (this whole process took most of the day, god knows how many hours, and I hadn't eaten anything) and she insisted on going to the pharmacy at that moment to get the prescriptions as well as pick up one of those moist heating pads, which the hospital man recommended. She takes us through the McDonalds drivethrew, which in and of itself, if you know Cheryl, is hilarious. She eats nothing and has been known to make weight comments about dancers (oblivious to how they are received, not out of meanness. She's a little clueless... understatement), so the fact that she insisted Laura and I get something "of substance" from McDonalds cracked us up. But then she goes through the CVS pharmacy drivethrew, all the while commenting on how miraculous it was that there were drivethrews for such things now and asking if we were sure she could turn in the prescription there. We get up to the window and she gives them the prescriptions. They ask when we'll be back to get them. She says we'll wait.... at the drivethrew window.... not caring that it would take at least 10 minutes and there may be cars behind us. But the pharmacy man doesn't tell her that she can't. Just gives a funny look for half a second before remembering to be professional. Then, she decides to ask to the pharmacy man if he can run into the main part of CVS and also pick us up a moist heating pad, giving specific instructions on which type of heating pad would be needed so be sure to find the right one. I'm fairly certain this is not in their job description, to go shopping around CVS for random items for pharmacy drivethrew pick-up customers. Cheryl asks us if we need anything else, so she can ask him to get that too. Well at this point Laura's in the back seat trying not to laugh and I'm cracking up on the inside and drugged out of my mind, which is making the entire experience that much more hilarious. I'm realizing now that this is one of those stories that may not be funny in the re-telling, but if you were there and heard her ask the pharmacist to pick up the random store items for us as well, you would have found it funny.

The next two stories are much more recent and much funnier in the retelling. So, first one involves another (though MUCH less severe) back injury. I'm doing a couple of musicals this summer with a group up in Danbury (about an hour from where I live). These past few weekends I've had rehearsal for one show in the morning/early afternoon and then a performance of the other show in the evening... with about a 4 or 5 hr break inbetween. Since I live far away I just stay up there during the break, along with another few people who are in both shows and don't leave either. It is designated nap time. I pull up a lounge chair bench prop piece thing and fall asleep. Wake up, feel okay. Hour or so later back hurts. Another hour or so later and I can't get out of my car, finally realizing it's actually a pretty bad injury that won't just go away. I go to the doctor the next day... spasm and torn muscle. Nothing too severe, can still be in the shows (though advised to "be willing" to skip the first one or two, "if necessary"... which obviously to me means, go for it), just have to be careful and rest inbetween. Lots of ice, anti-inflammatories and Valium. I make it through a performance or two with little problem. Then, one performance night, mid tap trenches, I feel it... bad. I get offstage and about 10 seconds later someone else realizes something is wrong. Suddenly there are about 6 people there to help me. Someone is pulling me out a chair, I have about 3 people changing my shoes, another one holding a flashlight so they can see what they're doing, 1 trying to make me laugh to lighten the mood (and laughing made it hurt more so I was trying not to laugh but also nervously laughing at the situation of everyone catering to me and being so helpful. And of course, telling people to not make you laugh because it hurts makes everyone laugh more). And I'm sitting there trying to avoid crying, to no avail. I'm told not to go back onstage and to wait until they can get people to help me back into the house. I'm asked if I can walk (assisted) or if they will need to carry me in on the chair. I can walk. I get inside and everyone's asking how I am, they're all being super nice. Super stage manager Janice goes out to find my family, with my helpful assistance of telling her what they look like.... "there's my mom and about... well, some other adults... and 2 younger people... my brother looks like me"... that was the extent of my family's physical description, aka I gave her an impossible task of finding them, though she assured me she would, and she somehow did. Someone asks if I have any of my medicine with me. I take a Valium. Music director then tells me red wine relaxes the muscles. Well wouldn't you know it, I just happened to have a bottle in my bag. When I say this the reaction is hilarious. I do not normally have bottles of wine in my purse. I am not an alcoholic. The fact that I happened to have a bottle of red wine was a hilarious coincidence because I had picked some up for the night before, had most of it still left and had forgotten to take it out of my bag before coming to the show. I tell her that I just took a Valium. She tells me it's okay, have some wine anyways. I'm in pain so it's good advice in my mind. So here I am, sitting in a chair, having just taken a Valium and now sipping red wine from a 1.5 Liter bottle while crying and laughing as others go by at the absurdity of it all and knowing how ridiculous I must look. That's funny part number one... happening to have the red wine and then sipping it from the bottle after taking a Valium. On to funny part number two... the method of getting me in a car to get home. My brother pulls his truck up to the house and I'm assisted outside. After joking that they should just put me in the pick-up part of the truck we try to actually get me in the back seat. It is somewhat high up... I will not be able to just "climb in". Amazing Janice decides to act as my stepstool to get me into the back seat. But getting on all fours leaves her too high up, so she gets in plank position, nearly lying on the ground, held up by her forearms, while I step on her back to get in... next I'm kind of pushed into a lying position across the back seat. Then there's the whole ordeal of do I want my hair taken out? shoes off? feet hanging out the window so I fit better? something to prop under my knees? a pillow of sorts for my head? I have Janice on one end, taking out my hair, Ron on the other, adjusting my feet, and Anna and who knows who else outside the car, laughing with the rest of us at the hilarity of the situation. Then there's the rolling factor. Unless my brother drives 15 miles per hour the entire ride home I will probably roll around, quite potentially right off the seat. So they push the front seats back as far as possible to "tuck me in" and secure my position. The whole ordeal was my best worst memory to date. Yes it was painful, but it was also highly amusing.

Fast-forward another week or so and I'm in the foyer of the rehearsal space (henceforth referred to as Richter), with a few castmates, during another break between rehearsal and a performance. (No longer will I take naps there). Anyways, all of a sudden I get a HORRENDOUS charley horse. I'm talking worst one of my life. It was in BOTH my shin and my calf and there was no relief to be found. My foot was stuck at a ridiculous angle and I could not, for the life of me, get it to move to stretch it out. I was literally grabbing my foot with both hands and pulling at it, and yet it would not budge from its bizarre position. (You know how when you get a cramp your toes or whatever will get stuck in a funny way and the only way to get relief from the pain is to manually move your toes to a normal position to stretch out the muscles? Well, it was that, but my entire foot. And it would NOT move). So we're all laughing because my foot looks ridiculous but I'm nearly in tears also because of the pain. Janice says I should stand up on a cold floor, and we all know the only way it will go away is if I can manage to stretch it out, which probably involves standing. So three people help me up. I'm a little more than half-way up when I realize there is no way I will be able to stand. So someone goes and grabs a chair to slide behind slash under me that I can just collapse on. And I'm in so much pain, all I want to do is crash to the floor and helplessly grab my awkwardly bent foot. The second the chair is behind me I start to go down, with Janice in front of me, essentially completely supporting me. I turn into her arm on my way down and out of sheer pain I open my mouth to let out a cry and it slowly closes.... on her arm. By now I'm in the chair. A few seconds of silence.... assessing the situation (Is Trisha okay now? It's all quiet and calm). "Owww! I think I bit you." Laughter ensues. I most definitely bit Janice's arm on my way down to the chair, and she never said a word about it until my "ow, I bit you comment". Now we're all cracking up, not only because I bit her but because I said "oww" first before saying "I bit you", as if it hurt ME to bite HER. I proceeded to apologize 817 times for biting her while trying to alleviate my charley horse pain, which did eventually go away, but left my leg muscles sore slash weak for the entire rest of the night and into the next day. It was like the spasm was a workout my legs had never seen the likes of before. I decided bananas and water were my only hope in preventing it from coming back.... wanted to get a bunch of bananas but the store was closed because it was July 4th so I got a smoothie at Starbucks instead that had a banana in it. Came very close to eating the single banana that was in the kitchen at Richter, before realizing it was a prop that the lead character would eat on stage later that night in the show. Imagine if I ate her prop? Especially on a day all the stores were closed. Janice probably would have bitten me.

So now we laugh that a lot of the funniest moments at Richter seem to occur when I am in pain, and that Janice is always somehow on the receiving end of it as well. Oh, and not really related, but I'm going to attempt to make a mild connection between the two because I want to mention it here, is a dream that I had. The mild connection of which I speak is that it involves potential pain and Janice. In my dream I'm at Desert Moon (essentially a step between taco bell and a sit-down, full scale Mexican restaurant... there's one near Richter we visit often). And someone walks in, pulls out a gun and says "Everyone, on the floor!". Not two seconds after I get down to the floor do I feel something pressing against my back. I'm sure it's the gun and that I'm going to be shot as an example to the rest of the people that this guy means business. (Didn't find it amusing during the dream that this was occurring in Desert Moon of all places). Then I hear the voice of the "gunman" and it was Janice. She yelled "Give me your Harry Potter or else I'm going to jack hammer your spine!". It suddenly occurred to me that the thing pressing against my back was a jack hammer and not a gun. And in my dream state I remembered that Janice had seen me reading Harry Potter at Richter at one point (even though in real life I never have) and she must have really wanted the book.... badly enough to jack hammer my spine, if need be, to get it.

So there are my funny injury stories. A drivethrew CVS moment, some Valium and wine, being manhandled into a truck, accidentally biting a friend, and getting a jack hammer to the spine at a Mexican cafe.