Monthly Archives: August 2012

Best Friend Auditions

I grew up in a very nomadic family, attending 7 elementary schools. I was the perpetual “new girl,” rarely staying at any school longer than a year and a half. Being new means a lot of stares, rumors of your actions at your old school, and potential embarrassment by eating alone at lunch. It did not take long for me to have the new school process down to science.

First, identify someone to cling to during the morning. This justifies lunch with that person. Empower that individual to show you the ropes. Repeat daily until relationship yields friendship or you find companionship and/or tolerable lunch buddies through another source.

This process aided in the sheer survival that is required when entering a new school system. One wrong move and you’re no longer the “new kid,” but “that kid.” And nobody wants to be “that kid.” The secondary challenge is to then find a new and local friend of the best friend quality. These don’t just pop up, mind you, so my fourth grade self hit a road block. At that time, we had just moved away from the very best friend I ever had, a co-conspirator in all things regarding our secret society and a big dreamer. She also raised stuffed leamurs with me. Who doesn’t want that in a friend? The answer to my current predicament seemed simple in my head.

Best Friend Auditions.

I figured myself brillaint, so I sat down one Saturday and made a list of qualities that I wanted in a best friend. They must be two things: fun and know how to properly pretend. I was done with those kids that couldn’t stay in character or take a plot out to the end. This was serious business on the playground, and I was done messing around. I needed someone to commit. So the casting call went out. I began to see different girls from school and the church on different weekends and the days of the week. I would put them through a series of tests: conversation, a game of pretend, and whether or not they still enjoyed things like barbies and playdough. The Mom would always check in to see how the “date” went, and I would report back with all but actual  number cards rating their successes when it came to the BFF department.

Two girls started to stand out. I began going to one girl’s house after school on Tuesdays, and I thought there was really something special. She was dramatic and had an affinity for The Wizard of Oz. She also considered herself an actress, which helped with the pretending. A second girl was also in the picture, and she was also a pretty decent pretender, though she had an affinity for pretending as if we were all puppies. I found that to be too childish and wished for more “adult” games such as house, teacher, or the latest peter pan remake in our minds. The two girls however, together, proved to be a ton of fun. Two best friends would be fine, right?

As the lovable center of attention that I am, I would dictate each bout of “pretend.” I really did have a love for Peter Pan. I felt as if that was the only socially acceptable way to be a boy, so I went with it and practiced my crowing as much as humanly possible. Plenty of singing and crowing would happen for hours if our parents would permit it. One day I really thought we had nailed the “moment” when pretending on a slide becomes a real experience in the land of make believe. That’s when disaster hit. The two girls started whispering between themselves while I was demonstrating the proper way to crow, and soon they were off on the swings playing a new game. Just the two of them. Without me.

That was the first moment I knew that girls were really, inherently and consciously mean. Two weeks later and a lot of little girl rumors about me not being cool enough and not being fun enough – and I was crushed. My fool-proof way of discovering a best friend turned tragic. I couldn’t replace The Cohort from the city before. And I wouldn’t really meet anyone comparable until I met The Best Friend of today. Sometimes life just isn’t as easy as holding auditions for perfection.



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50 Shades of White

The Mom has an affinity for rich colors plastered throughout the home, creating the perfect Pottery Barn scene to walk into from work. Dark Coffees, Russets, and Stormy Shades envelop the leather furniture. Add her famous pumpkin dessert and some steaming apple cider to drink during a fall open house, displaying every form of fall decoration a human could ever desire – and you have the home I grew up in. Warm colors hugged you, and I loved it.  A room was, and still is a statement, for The Mom. Welcome to our home. Make yourself comfortable. Now let me light my 93 candles to provide the correct level of ambiance for our thrilling, intellectual conversation about to commence.

The Apartment does the exact opposite.

I am suffering from a severe lack of color in my life, so I’ve begun to name each of the whites I now call home. White, snow, pearl, lace, blonde, seashell, cream, and essence of coolwhip. Each wintery hue is just as anti-social as the next… forcing all color to appear minuscule – a futile attempt to take on the overbearing open. There are no hugs when it comes to eggshell. There are no apple cider sippings in a room of cotton. The Apartment just stares at you… daring you to smile. Daring you to feel at home. Daring you to commandeer the cold, institutionalized, bare, and slightly terrifying white. Daring you to see the difference from one paint swatch to another.

I have responded rashly with splashes of non-coherent color in hopes to cling to what sanity I have left. There are stark, black sheets on the bed. There is a black coffee table – a forest green loveseat. I have begun dressing in very bold and every neon imaginable and somehow managing to pull it off! I refuse to give in to white-washing!

Along with colorful bouts of acting out, I use the therapy of sitting in a Pier 1 or Ikea for inspiration. I touch all of the deep leathers, the powerful red woodwork, and the outrageously bright deck chairs. I live for the decorative owl hangings and the blown-glass vases, coasters, and napkin rings. I sit on the great barrel chairs and look to a day where I, too, will decorate with purpose. I have a dream! I dream of a day when my friends and family will turn to me and say “My, what a beautiful home you have.” I dream of a day when I can look to my children and talk of the nightmare of a ghostly world and tell them they’ll never know it as reality!

But today is not that day. I will continue to fight the good fight. For I say let color gleam from every wall hanging and every poster. Let color gleam from your sheets and your pot holders. Let color gleam! For when we let color gleam from every nook and every cranny, we stand up and proudly proclaim a house to be a home.

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I was 15 years old, and all I talked about was getting my license. The days of bus rides to school would be my past, and I would have the opportunity to adorn my rear view mirror with whatever fuzzy items I pleased. I had all these fancy plans of road trips and independent living. I would go anywhere I wanted! I would be so cool! Too bad that my parents weren’t about to buy me a new car. BUT I struck gold with an old family friend and for just 200 dollars, I had my baby.

Betsy was an ’82 Dodge 400. White with a red stripe along the side, red leather interior, and above all – a convertible. She was just the right kind of awesome you could ever want in a first car. She was stylish, no one had a car like her, and she had these awesome “additional features.” For example, she would only start up if you slammed the gas pedal to the floor. You had to commit to driving before you drove Betsy. She also had a mysteriously low idle and would die at every other intersection’s red light, proving an over-achiever with her “easy”  automatic transmission. She also had a built-in weather gauge, as it would both rain and snow inside the car, with the multitude of holes in the canvass top. She was absolutely perfect, and I loved everything about her.

As with most females, if you take off her top – people think she’s more fascinating. Once I let Betsy’s top down for a cruise around town everyone would stare. The old men would wonder what I had done to get my own convertible, the boys would swoon for a drive, and I would ride cloud nine all the way to the 24-hour Walmart for fun times. I have really good memories in that car! A first kiss was made possible by that car. I sang to many early 2000’s pop music in that car. I stuffed inordinate amounts of teenagers in that car in the name of corn mazes and pumpkin ice cream. I also had stupidly spiky hair in that time… maybe that isn’t such a good memory. Anyway, Betsy and I lived the good life.

But that life was cut short. After only a year, I lost Betsy. She didn’t die in a normal way, though. No, Betsy was always the over-achiever. I was driving down the highway, trucking along at Betsy’ maximum of 55 mph, and suddenly I wasn’t going anymore. I steered the car over the side of the road and began to see smoke coming from the dashboard and the front of the car. I quickly took my belongings out of the back and walked to a safe distance, watching Betsy catch fire and eventually incite a small explosion.

My friends were nice enough to attend a humble funeral in her honor, to remember and mourn her grizzly death. A few psalms were read, rewritten with the appropriate terminology of course. I even made the mandated creepy slide show of pictures of Betsy in our life and left it on a mysterious loop in the room for the entire ceremony. After my friend concluded the service with an original tune, we ate cookies and went to marching band practice. Betsy would have it no other way. We had to keep marching through life, with or without her.


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Bubble Babies

I must have something to properly obsess over in order to survive. If left to myself the stress levels sky rocket and usually lead to bizarre health issues. Instead of this, I usually look to Hulu for salvation. Taking in season after season of arbitrary shows. I am proud that I can watch 7 seasons of The West Wing in as little as 2.5 weeks. Proud.

A rather new vice to harness the need to obsess is the limitless supply of iPhone apps. The Angry Birds phase took many house of my life, as did Temple Run. then I took on the interactive games like Words with Friends, Scramble with Friends, Dice with Friends, and Draw Me  Something. But with those – you can only obsess for so long. At some point the notifications are tamed, and all your friends are out there living real lives. That’s when I discovered my Bubble Babies.

Bubble Mania focuses on the plight of a creature of indiscriminate species who has lost all her babies to the Bubble Wizard. 1) She has a boat load of babies. Definitely looking into those welfare checks with those kinds of numbers. 2) She’s not getting the “Mother of the Year” award anytime soon. She lost her babies.

So the point is to shoot these colored bubbles at other colored bubbles in order to pop the bubbles and save baby prisoners from their certainly soapy prison. I cannot get enough of this game! It’s super sly, too, because it limits your energy so you believe you have out-smarted obsession. But then you begin to dream about the bubble babies and question the mother’s judgement. How could she be so careless? Why does she need me to save her babies? Does she even understand the responsibility of so many babies?

Slowly, the game introduces special bubbles to help you or defeat you in your noble bubble baby question. Your bubble babies may brave poison or sludge because of your actions.You know you’ve crossed over when a misplaced bubble can cause the string of expletives to lose all meaning and simply act as a lengthy bout of self-soothing.

That’s about the point in time when I began to sing to myself about my beloved bubble babies. The songs told of my love and then my extreme hatred of the babies and all the work I had to do for them. They also covered my concern about their mother and her aptitude. They were also alarmingly catchy – to the point that The Man was singing one to the tune of Sesame Street “Rubber Ducky” whilst making breakfast.

It’s really hit new levels for me when it comes to App-obsession. And I’m not turning back. I may have lost my computer. I may lost friends. I may have diluted my husband’s brain to oozing sludge…but I will always have my beloved bubble babies.

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Carly Rae Jepsen: A Feminist Explanation

If you haven’t heard the song “Call Me Maybe” a gatrillion times due to a the radio, countless covers, and that part of your brain that fills in the lyrical blanks anytime any of the words of the song are spoken – you are not alive. The single is said to be the anthem of this summer, and it’s basically impossible to avoid singing. It sneaks into your brain when you least expect it and BAM you’re screaming out the chorus…

Yes it is alarmingly catchy, but I have philosophical issues with its popularity. That’s right. Prepare for me to wet blanket all over your perky, Canadian-given fun.

Now I will rarely identify as a feminist (it’s the “f” word) but I’ll just own it this time. First, Carly, you should just own the awesome! Don’t feel like a “maybe” is a necessary tag. You don’t need a lexical “out” in order to preserve your dignity. Walk to up the man, give him your number, smile cutely, and walk away. You are hot – don’t question yourself.

Secondly, the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the women-liking men of this work is unsettling. The Man has explained to me that the “maybe” is mean to be coy and therefore attractive, but I don’t buy it. We, as women, are told men look for confidence. When a woman is sure of herself, nothing could be more beautiful. Yet here is the male species ogling over a girl with a tagged on “maybe.” Are you ladies confused yet?

In hopes to rid myself of a potentially irrational dislike of an artist for a single, poopy song, I took to Wikipedia. Carly certainly had a cool start from Canadian Idol, and everything from Canada gets a +3 for cool. (Even the Biebs…) I decided to give her a chance. I like music – even crappy pop music – the rest of her stuff couldn’t be that bad.

It could.

Let’s just say her song cleverly entitled “Bucket” included the lyrics “There’s a hole in your bucket, dear Liza.” – which were perfectly fine on their own but should never have made it into any other song… ever – let alone be sung in all seriousness. I really can’t deal with it.  At least “Call Me Maybe” provided some interesting conversation about dating etiquette or feminist zeal, but what else can you gather from a hole being in Liza’s bucket? And why is it so catchy??

In the end, I give her a +3 for Canada, a -2 for feminism, and a -56 for horrible lyrics. I will admit my issue is not with her voice, her sound, or her look. She’s pretty cute, and I wish her the best. Now someone get the girl some lyrics!

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The Linux Challenge

I now have joint custody of the prehistoric dinosaur that is The Man’s computer. It’s 8 years old, making it the technological Abraham of today’s many wonders like multi-tasking and video streaming. The Man looks upon the desktop (yes those still exist) with love. I don’t get it at all. It seems like it has caused much more pain and suffering than happiness to me…

This original wheel of desktop computers clearly began to feel inferior a few months ago and attempted computational suicide by blue screen – thus rendering it itself entirely useless. I thought this was surely the turning moment in The Man’s technological career, yet The Man was amazingly able to continue his day-to-day function sans any form of personal computer for many moons. (I at least still have my iPhone.)

As his loving partner, I encouraged him to pursue purchase of a newer, younger machine (the only time I may be involved in encouraging a younger upgrade in his life mind you). I introduced him to the foreign concept of a laptop. I even suggested looking into Apple products, as I am a proud mindless follower of all things Mac! He seemed frightened, backed into a corner of shiny and new things.

And what did he decide to do? He revived the ancient beast with Linux.

This is where The Man and I differ tremendously. I will gladly pay for something to just fix the problem, be exactly what I want from the start, and to stop causing me stress. The Man, however, would rather build something up from nothing and have this thing he calls “pride.” From what I understand, it is a positive feeling in respect to something an individual has done with his own hands. And Linux provides computer geeks with their own version of the pride our ancestors felt when they you know… actually built stuff. So if he wants to play a specific game? He needs to play with the coding and the running system in order to permit that game. It took him the better part of two days in order to be able to run an internet browser and a word processor, and a single misstep can make entire programs cease to function. Yes, it really is that excruciatingly slow and painful.

Now that I am without my dear MacBook Pro, I must blog from the Linux-ridden beast. There starts The Challenge. The rules? Determine your end result and suit up. It’s a crazy jungle out there. You must prepare for any and all distraction – and above all – the crazy troll people.

Luckily, I only use two things to write: WordPress and a version of MS Paint called Paintbrush.  The Internet still inhabits this computer, so WordPress was a go. It was the paint program that was going to challenge my navigational skills. The quest required perseverance and prior linguistic knowledge that all things Linux have obscure or weird names sometimes having to do with penguins. It took a while, and I almost didn’t make it through without throwing my hands up in defeat, but I finally found the weirdly named answer in a tiny comment on an app that would never work. I had triumphed and would live another day.

Good thing I don’t need to do anything other than this… for now.

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I’ve never been particularly graceful. In fact, I’m quite well known in the family for never looking before I sit – for never anticipating just how far a dish is from the edge of the dish-holding-surface, and for always taking the opportunity to break a bone whenever humanly possible. I am not a princess. I would never feel nor find a pea set beneath a tower of mattresses. I am simply me.

This is usually hilarious for the innocent bystander, but sometimes pure catastrophe strikes when I walk into a room. For example, when I was eleven I walked into a room and promptly sat upon my clarinet. Those don’t make it through battles with one’s butt. Just putting it out there. I was mortified and wept for approximately 3.2 days before The Dad and I set out to fix the situation in pursuit of greater talent with a greater clarinet.

I have also  baptized several cell phones. If someone asks, I tend to practice the value of “full immersion.” No baby spritzing over here. Nope. I washed one. Dropped one in a hot tub. I even threw one across the room on accident. It is a total wonder that the iPhone I now obsess over has stayed in one, dry piece as long as it has.

But I think the cherry on the catastrophic sundae happened this week. I was intensely watching the ending of reality show zinger, and I reared back in surprise and awe of what just happened. My particularly endowed, womanly self then knocked the entirely-just filled-full glass of water all over my beloved MacBook Pro. A wonderful bout of cursing that would make the grimiest of sailors proud and some quickly drying and praying… and I had to walk away. (Leaving the power supply connected and thus frying my baby.)

Just as clarinets do not do well with butts… laptops apparently do not do well with the bewbs.

My sweet baby and I have been through a lot. I bought her with my very own money – focusing every bit of a research stipend towards the expensive and very awesome contraption. I then completed a bachelor’s degree with her. We survived horrific set theory problems, nasty history papers, and a senior thesis. Along with Sybil, my new desk, we were going to go after a PhD together. Hand in microchip, we could take on the world! And here I am mourning her untimely and grizzly passing.

I now have joint custody of The Man’s computer, which is an adventure all on its own… Hopefully this saga of sadness will lead to a brighter future. Until then, let us have a moment of silence for my dear computer. My right arm in life. My partner. My friend.

Thank you.

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