Sunday, December 28, 2014

MATH UNDER PRESSURE

We've all been in a situation when we're asked to do math problems in either a timed or highly public situation- whether it be on the blackboard as a 3rd grader or later on in one of those rare times adult life that you actually have to use math.

Not counting my panic attack regarding my one page accounting homework in "business for non-business majors" during grad school, I can count the times on one hand where I've had to do math in a high-pressure situation (and technically a one page homework with a week to complete it and only counting as a minute fraction of my grade isn't really "high pressure" I suppose).  Ironically, instead of during any number of my myriad degrees or during my short stint as a trial attorney, my most horrific math experiences came during the time I worked in retail.

I'm going to take a wild shot and say that most people have had either a restaurant or retail job in their lives, and if not, you're likely one of those assholes who treats people in the service industry like shit and therefore have enjoyed many a spit milkshake in your day.  I've done both, but the only time I was in direct contact with money was working at the mall.

I actually loved working the cash register.  I'm relatively anti-social and don't give two fucks about how a customer is doing, so having a place where I'm required to be that only required interactions with people who had a reason to talk to me (i.e. they wished to purchase things) was perfect.  I'd scan the tags, push the total button and the customer would give me money.  Then, magically, the register would tell me exactly how much change to give the person requiring no more math than being able to count the number of bills in your hand.  Generally this was the sequence of events for person after person.

But at least once a day you'd get the person who THOUGHT they were making your job easier.  I'd take their cash, type in the amount and press the button that opened the drawer and told me how much change to make.  $8.64, that's easy, I'll just get this 5 over here, and some ones - "Oh, wait, I have *enter unnecessary amount of change here*, HERE!" the customer would say with a smile while handing me a handful of coins.

BUT I'VE ALREADY PUSHED THE TOTAL BUTTON!  My eyes get huge as I look at the change in her hand and the bright red $8.64 on the screen.  IT'S TOO LATE TO GO BACK.  YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGURE THIS OUT YOURSELF.  My heart races as I look behind the customer and see the line forming.  She looks at me like I'm supposed to be thrilled with this development, BUT YOU JUST RUINED EVERYTHING.

Doesn't she know it tells me how much change to give her back?  Didn't she see I'd pressed the button already??  I'm working retail for god's sake, there's a reason I'm behind the counter at Juicy Couture instead of at my summer internship with NASA.  I can't pull out a pen and paper, which would make this infinitely easier, since there are people waiting.  My brain has literally shut down and I am no longer capable of making any kind of decision, whether it be figuring out this lady's change in a timely and unpanicked manner or wiping the look of sheer terror off my face.  WHAT IF I GET IT WRONG?  EVERYONE WILL HATE ME.  I'LL GET FIRED.  Then of course everyone will tell me how simple the problem was.  THE SHAME.

I feel like screaming "THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST" and running out of the room, but somehow I manage to scrape together some form of change after likely an extremely excessive amount of time and hand it to the customer with a questioning look, waiting for her to tell me that I was shorting her $45.  When she doesn't resist my chosen amount, I breathe a sigh of relief while at the same time wanting to hit her with a broom for causing all that unnecessary anxiety.  Then I look to my left and see the girl who can barely spell her name and has told me she's failing this or that class in community college handle the EXACT SAME SITUATION without a moment's hesitation. 

When the next customer hands me her AmEx black card, I want to run around the counter and hug her, patting her hair and just mumbling "Thank you, THANK YOU" for an uncomfortably long period of time.

Some people can't do public speaking, some people can't pee when others are in the bathroom - I can't do math in my head under pressure.  Or really ever.  Give me a pen and paper and I'm good, but don't expect my brain to be your human calculator.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WOULD I EAT IT?

My lovely friend and personal trainer has her own website and blog This Fit Blonde where she gives workout and diet tips, along with my favorite section, "Would Amanda Eat It?"  She goes through the pros and cons of certain "healthy" foods and gives a verdict at the end of whether or not she'd eat it.  Often times I don't agree, so I decided to post my own version.

Chocolate Covered Toffee

Pros: It tastes like what I imagine heaven must be, which is to say unicorns and rainbows dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with cocaine.

Cons:  It's basically 100% butter and sugar, which are the two worst substances you can put in your body behind arsenic and motor oil.  I might as well just inject it into my arteries and hips at the same time.

So would I eat it?

FUCK YES.  If motor oil tasted this good I'd consider drinking that too.  Sweet god, when I eat this it's like the sky opens and flying cat angels begin to sing as I lay on a bed of clouds and am massaged by elves.  Really sexy elves that look like Bradley Cooper and speak with a British accent.


NEXT!

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (with the neon powdered cheese)

Pros:  This takes me back to summertime in my childhood, where I'd eat an entire box and probably play Mario Kart for the rest of the day.  That was the life, man.  But I'd eat an entire box because the damn thing was BURSTING WITH FLAVOR and full of happiness and joy.  It tastes like magic likely because it's magical that there isn't any cheese in it...

Cons:  There's the general rule that you probably shouldn't eat anything that is the color of a radioactive carrot, but they still sell it in stores so it can't be THAT bad, right?  Well the ingredients list reads like a chemistry lab, including "medium chain triglycerides" and everyone's favorite "yellow 5" and slightly less favorite "yellow 6."  Not sure where the orange is, since that is DEFINITELY not yellow you see above.

Would I eat it?

Bring on the medium chain triglycerides!  While I'm slightly fearful that the amount of this that I ate as a child might have some sort of metallic element living in my body forever, it tastes so damn good I just can't NOT have it.  When someone first introduced me to "real" mac and cheese, like the kind with melted cheese in it, I was NOT thrilled.  I've now come to love both, as cheese is glorious in its real and fake form, and the government hasn't proven this is radioactive.

So that's all for today, folks. I promise next time to put on some foods I WOULDN'T eat.  And it's a good thing I ate all my toffee last night or that picture up there would have me running to eat more right now.  But as a citizen of LA, the fact that it's raining will keep me away from most places and safe from the toffee craving for a day or so.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

BEST OF HONG KONG, ENGRISH EDITION

Inspired by my cousin, I've decided to compile my entire stash of Engrish clothing photos into one glorious blog.  I miss Hong Kong, probably because this is a hobby I can't enjoy in the US.
What ABOUT the classic camper van?

Chokebore?

I love it when random, unrelated words are written across my uterus.

I mean, why make up nonsensical English when it's right there for you?

Read the ice cream flavors.  I guarantee you don't want any of the Iraqi one...

TWITCH.  Is that like twerking?

Ironically when I would shop for these clothes it WAS happy and funny.

So...where's the Rottweiler?

YOU ARE THE SOLDIERS AND WE COMMAND YOU

Thanks, I think I will.

Seriously.  They didn't even try.

A very dramatic news piece if you read the paragraph...

It says "Queen We will."  How do you "queen?"

Together? 

Get with the trends, you moron.

EXCLLENT!

OKIWONT

I'm the worst slow.

Stalking is a universal language.

Ok...I can see that you're serious about this.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WHY HUMANS SHOULD BE MARSUPIALS

This is something I've thought about a lot.  No, for real, go with me here.  First of all, marsupials are hilarious, as are most animals that call Australia home - it really is like the Land of Misfit Toys, but for actual living things.  But despite their inherent hilarity, marsupials have really got this child-rearing thing figured out. 

Kangaroos are the most obvious example, or wallabies (which should really just be called mini goddamn kangaroos, they don't need a whole new name just because they're small, but whatever) - you see them bouncing around with a little baby's head poking out of a pouch on the mom's belly.  Not only have humans actively tried to copy this (see: fanny packs and baby Bjorns), but it serves even more of a purpose than you realize.

We humans have to go through nine terrible months of pregnancy, getting giant and fat, often feeling completely horrible and unable to control our vomit and pee.  Kangaroos,  however, are pregnant for 33 days.  DAYS people.  Then it "gives birth" to the teeny tiniest underdeveloped baby kangaroo ever possible, which continues growing and developing in the pouch.  Instead of growing something ENTIRELY TOO LARGE to be properly expelled from our bodies without lasting damage, kangaroos are like "oh, hey, I'm going to give birth to this thing while it's small enough to feel like I'm just taking a shit." 

When our babies come out, they're ugly, gross, noisy, practically blind and dumber than a pet rat.  But they HAVE to come out because if they got any bigger inside they'd explode out of the mother's stomach at a very inopportune time.  You have to feed them every few hours.  They do absolutely nothing in return.  Now if we had a POUCH, that baby could have 24/7 access to food, warmth, and whatever the hell else it needed to survive until it grew into a being that can at least walk.  Kangaroo babies hang out in that pouch as long as they want, then when they have enough cognitive ability to become bored, they jump out and start living without any unnecessary explanation from mom or dad. 

If humans had pouches, the baby wouldn't need to cry because it could just go get its own milk three inches away.  I'm not sure about the poo and pee situation but let's just assume something as gross as that couldn't be piling up in the mom's pouch for months so it's somehow evolutionarily taken care of.  The baby could pop its head out of the pouch and watch what's going on around it so that it would understand that it needs to get its shit together before it tries to get out and mosey around on its own.  It'd listen to conversations, learn language, learn what things are, understand that walking is a necessary skill and see that adult humans don't plop themselves in the middle of the floor and start crying whenever they want.  Well, most don't.

So many things would be solved if we were marsupials.  I might even consider (CONSIDER) procreating if I knew that my child would appear out of my pouch understanding how to walk and get attention in a non-annoying way.  Babies can't even tell you what they want. They just lay there and cry and won't shut up until you figure it out. My CATS can tell me what they want.  They meow, look at me, and walk over to their empty food bowl and look at me again as if to say "Get with the program, bitch, we hungry."  They don't randomly roll on the floor and meow just to hear their own voice.  Puppies learn the word "walk" or "outside" as quickly as they learn to walk, and that's all you have to say to get them over to the door with their leash.  Human babies have no idea what the fuck is going on.

If you've ever watched or listened to a baby play through a baby monitor, you know that they just make random noises for no reason.  Oh look, I can SHREEEEIIIIIIIIK really loud!  That was awesome, let me do it again!  Ha!  All the while the parents think the kid has hurt himself but in reality he has just discovered that he can make noises that he doesn't seem to understand are some of the most annoying noises that will ever grace this planet.  Or even just yelling gibberish.  Whatever it is, it's fucking annoying and it needs to be stopped.  Marsupial kid would be able to watch other humans interact without random squealing and come to understand that he, like his parents, has a voice that will soon learn to use words which can form conversations.

If nothing else, he'd at least learn how to communicate with minimal language skills - kind of like when I went into that noodle shop in Hong Kong where no one spoke English and I simply pointed to the picture of what I wanted and said "Coca Cola" and was able to pay by the woman pointing to the cash register numbers.  During no time while I was eating said noodles in the shop where everyone was speaking Cantonese did I decide I was going to see if my voice worked by squealing or making random noises.  If I had, I likely would have been carted off to the looney bin.

Babies should be more like pets - SMART.  Oh, I don't have any food?  I'm going to tell my mom.  I have to use the restroom, I'll go stand by the door and bark.  It's dark outside and mom just turned off the lights.  I guess it's time to sleep.  I'll curl up next to her and sleep until she's done sleeping, and won't wake her up to get food because it's RIGHT THERE and I can just walk over, get some, and come back.

So if we were marsupials, our kids would stay in our pouch until they could at least be as smart as a dog or cat.  That's all I'm asking for.  I don't need you to have a 5th grade education coming out of the womb, but dear god, stop making all that stupid noise and flailing about like an overturned turtle.  And really, the pants-shitting has got to stop.  At least be able to run to the bathroom and bang on something until we pick you up and put you on the toilet - I mean the DOG can do that.  Get with it, humans.

Friday, November 7, 2014

ELF ON A SHELF IS FUCKING STUPID

Let's not waste any time here.  This Elf on a Shelf thing?  Dumb shit, that's what it is.

I first ran across this "tradition" on Pinterest (the glorious time-waster I use to find pictures of homes I will never own and food I will never cook) sometime last year before the holiday season.  There was a picture of a stupid little skinny-ass elf with a creepy Peter Pan-esque childlike adult quality to his face and he was doing such things as, oh, sitting on a shelf.  I clicked the link to find out what the hell this was.

First of all, it said it was a "Christmas tradition."  Hmm, that's interesting, not a tradition I had with my family, but then again we're somewhat odd so I didn't doubt that other people may have grown up with such a dumb ass stunt in their home.  Then I thought more - how many people's homes had I ever been in at Christmas?  Had anyone ever come to school telling me what their elf had done the night before?  This was seeming fishy to me, so I looked it up on the scholarly internet publication known as Wikipedia. 

According to the entry, Elf on a Shelf was a book that was written in 2004.  2004!  And it was called "Elf on a Shelf: A Christmas Tradition."  Apparently the author COMPLETELY misunderstood the meaning of tradition, as you can't INVENT ONE and try to pawn it off on people as something great and awesome.  That's like me deciding one day that during the entire month of December I'm going to wear a ceremonial robe made out of Christmas tree skirts and call it a fucking tradition and shame everyone who does not then go home and make his or her own ceremonial robe BECAUSE IT'S TRADITION.  No.  And it's not like the tradition was "invented" in the 80s - it was invented WHEN I GRADUATED COLLEGE.  There's not even a hint of nostalgia there.  It's just a big, fat lie. 

So this made-up tradition with a very vintage-looking elf (ALL LIES I TELL YOU) has more to it than simply sitting on a shelf.  I'd have way less problem if it was a mere decoration.  But no, the elf, like Santa, becomes an extension of the parents and is always caught in "mischief" around the house.  The key is for the kid (or god forbid some really fucking annoying adult) to find the elf each day in his new position. 

And the purveyors of this false tradition aren't content to play hide-and-seek with said elf, he must be doing something silly, ranging from hanging halfway out of the cookie jar to squatting with a fake shit (YES, I'M SERIOUS HERE)
to sharing a jug of maple syrup (?) romantically with Barbie (when he is CLEARLY homosexual. I mean it's 2014, come on Elf, accept yourself, be proud!  Don't hide in the closet.  We've seen your face, buddy, you're hiding nothing). 
 (HIS ARM IS SO CREEPILY LONG.  Also Barbie would never go out with a guy dressed like that.)

Don't think this is a harmless "tradition" that takes a few minutes each night. Ohhh nooo, if your elf doesn't have handmade clothes you're not trying hard enough.  He needs to be fishing in the toilet (with blue coloring and goldfish crackers, I may add)
or elaborately popping out of a present a la Alien. 

If those don't seem time-consuming enough for you, let's add wastefulness - what about buying an entire bag of marshmallows and pouring them in the sink for 15 seconds of "OH HOW CUTE HE'S IN A BUBBLE BATH"? 

Seriously people, get ahold of yourselves.  No one at your work is going to care that you're falling asleep at your desk because you spent 3 hours making a realistic and believable elf scenario that your kid was fascinated with for approximately 3 seconds and then having to clean it all up and do it again the next night.  And I'm sorry, there are just entirely too many "ideas" on Pinterest that have to do with the toilet.  There's the aforementioned squatting to take a shit (WHAT IS THIS TEACHING YOUR KIDS?!), fishing in the toilet (um, SANITARY ISSUES?), another squatting  over the toilet with candy cane poos floating in the water, scooping "reindeer poop" - shall I go on?  Or shall I just put up the link to EVERY ELF ON A SHELF POOP IDEA ON THE FUCKING INTERNET??  Which would be here.

Yes, there is an entire Pinterest search DEVOTED TO POOPING ELVES.  There are also a ton of positions that require the elf to be "hanging on" to something, which always just looks like he's humping whatever object to which he clings (such as a gallon of milk, the Christmas tree, baby Jesus...)  Then there's a really questionable one scrubbing his ass with a toothbrush but I didn't click that link for fear of what else I might find.

So in summary, someone invented a "tradition" ten years ago that requires absurd amounts of time, creativity and unfortunately scatological preferences to entertain your kids with just ONE MORE THING to make the holidays more stressful. 

Just say no to Elf on a Shelf, or I will send someone to your house to say no for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

HOW TO DATE LIKE AN ADULT IN THE WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA

I only wish I were writing a book about that, because it would fly off the shelves.  In fact, this is simply an impassioned plea for someone else who has successfully navigated the waters of dating as a 30+ person in the 2010s.  I need help, desperate help, and I'm assuming many others do too.

I've got a few problems to contend with, the largest of which is likely the fact that I had long-term boyfriends from age 18-25 and never actually learned how to "date" since I just sort of ended up in relationships.  I mean, when you're in college, you hang out with someone a lot because you have all the time in the world, and then in a matter of weeks you decide if you like them enough to become their significant other or leave them in a ditch for the next sucker who passes by. 

The second problem is that I'm an old fart and in my earliest years of dating (college) there was no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, real text messaging or the like.  You had to actually spend time with someone.  You couldn't have a text conversation because it took 4 hours to type one sentence on the pre-QWERTY keyboards of our Nokias or Moto Razrs.

To me, dating should be simple.  If I'm going out with you on a first date, I'm physically attracted to you and checking to see if you can hold a conversation and/or are batshit crazy.  If I am going on a second date with you, I sufficiently like your personality to tolerate you again.  If I decide I don't like you, you won't hear from me again, unless you're someone I might run into in the future and then I have to figure out how to delicately let you know I'm not interested - likely by the efficient and uber-mature way of getting a mutual friend to mention it.

When it comes to guys, however, I have no idea what's going on.  Despite the fact that it seems obvious a guy would only ask a girl out if he's attracted to her, I can never confirm or deny someone's attraction to me unless and until they make a concerted effort to get in my pants - regardless of my response to said effort.  It's the attempt that makes it known.  How do I know that you don't just think I'm fun and cool and might be a new platonic friend if you don't at least attempt physical contact?  I mean I THINK people should be attracted to me.  I'D be attracted to me.  So it seems illogical that I would default to "not attracted" simply because there was no outward show of said attraction, but I cannot say that my brain works logically.

And now that we have facebook and chat and texting it seems that all the "rules" have gone out the window - someone might ask you on a second date sooner if they couldn't stalk you online or sit in their pajamas eating Cheetos in bed while texting you and looking at your pre-nosejob photos on Facebook.

I now realize I should've gotten an MBA for multiple reasons - I'd have a job by now and I would've had a decent-sized pool from which to select potential dates in a more organic setting instead of 60 23-year-old girls and a few gay guys.  Once I left the school environment I completely lost all ability to function and now that people have "work" and "obligations" and can't meet you for lunch randomly on a Wednesday between classes it's really damn hard to meet new people.  Couple that with the fact that I have no coworkers (out of three) that are my preferred age and sex and you've got the life of a hermit.

So would a 20-something please write a book about what dating is now?  Is there more to a "like" on Facebook than what meets the eye?  Are texting rules kinda like rules from the 50s about how and when you should call one another?  What the hell do we talk about if we know what the other person has been doing the whole time we were apart because they kept posting pictures to facebook?  WHAT IS THE REAL MEANING BEHIND A FACEBOOK RELATIONSHIP STATUS?  CAN YOU SEE OTHER PEOPLE UNTIL THAT?  I DON'T UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAND GOD HELP THIS OLD FOGEY OUT.

I'm actually a great catch, I'm just a dating moron.  I can happily provide excellent references from ex-boyfriends that I consistently won "girlfriend of the year" throughout my relationships.  I'm not jealous, I'm not a stalker, I don't have trust issues, I'm up for (almost) anything, I'm not a giant fatty, I have no biological clock, I look younger than I am, I'm smart... And despite all that you know about me I am SO MUCH LESS CRAZY than girlfriends I hear about.  I'm not going to key your car if you dump me, I'll just cry a lot.  You'll never need a restraining order.  But dating makes me look crazy because I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON.  In my world, dating should be like this:

"I think you are cute.  I don't find you painfully annoying or stupid, we should hang out and see if we would like to date."
"I think those same things about you.  I agree we should go to places together to see if we develop a mutual attraction that can be turned into a relationship."
"Great, I will let you know when I find a dealbreaker and must end our courtship."
"That sounds good.  I will let you know at what point you don't have to worry about me going out with other people in a direct and concise way so that you won't be confused, ever."
"We have a deal."

So yeah.  Why did my dating years have to fall into such a ridiculous time for technology and a complete social gap between people ten years older than me and ten years younger?? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

PART II: BLINK ON DOWN THE ROAD

As we return to our setting of a van full of trail mix and an ever-growing potpourri of sweat and feet, I feel it's important that I preface this next adventure with a little background.

My 7th grade science teacher, who had what I'm now realizing was a borderline disturbing sexual obsession with Bill Nye the Science Guy, decided one day to measure our lung capacity.  With a simple balloon and some equally simple method of measurement, it was determined that in addition to being the nerdiest person in my class I was also able to intake significantly less oxygen than my fellow classmates.  A gym class blackout and doctor's visit later, my shiny new asthma inhaler became an accessory to the oversized flannel shirt I wore multiple times a week at an attempt to follow trends.

It also should be noted that around the same time we were asked to run a mile in gym class.  As the skinniest person alive, one would think I'd be speedy.  One would be wrong.  In fact, I came in COMPLETELY LAST with a mile time of 11:47 (yes, I remember the exact time) because I had to walk most of the way after I completely failed to pace myself on the first lap.

Returning to Sonoma County, we'd had a delicious meal at lunch of burgers and - wait for it - poutine while the other van's runners did their thing.  We came to the exchange where I would be starting my second leg in the parking lot of a library somewhere between San Francisco and Napa.  After attempting to sleep on the grass next to the building because the van itself was too hot, we finally received a text that the second van was nearly there and the runner would follow posthaste.  Time to get suited and booted.

It was approximately 6pm as I began to get ready, which meant that during my run it was going to get dark.  Ragnar has about seven pages of rules on running in the dark, most of which relate to the amount of reflective and blinky shit that must be on your person between the times of 6:30pm and 7:30am so that cars can see you and make a conscious decision on whether or not they wish to hit you instead of simply an unfortunate accident caused by nighttime's cloak of invisibility.

Over the shiny pink bridesmaid dress I was still required to wear, my friends now placed not only a reflective crossing-guard vest, but a blinking neon armband and a red bicycle taillight.  To top it off, over my super rad orange headband I had to wear a headlamp, akin to those worn by mechanics and spelunkers.  It looked like there'd been a fucking mining disaster during prom and I had volunteered to help my fellow (wo)man in the crisis.

Now I was about to "run" 6.6 miles.  No part of me thought I'd be able to run even half of it without stopping, but I at least figured I could run-walk it without significant injury or suicidal thoughts.  Once again, I was completely hallucinating and had no idea that the worst 1.5 (2? 3? I don't even know honestly) hours were seconds away from beginning.  I saw the bride run around the corner in her completely ridiculous poofy running dress and 80s veil and knew I was about to start.  Fear was setting in.

I started off on sidewalks.  I didn't realize what a beautiful and glorious thing sidewalks were at the time, and they went completely unappreciated.  The scenery was boring - apartment complexes and office parks, with a couple of "nice" trailer parks thrown in, all of which found a way to use the word "estates" in the name of their subdivision.  As I mentioned in the first part, I have absolutely no concept of distance.  None.  So to me, half a mile was probably a mile in my mind, and I found out later that 6.6 miles actually was what I would have imagined to be ten.  Whodathunk.

We ran forever on this one long street, obviously a main thoroughfare - I was absolutely convinced that by the time we actually turned that I was going to see the finish up ahead.  Funny, this was in fact nowhere NEAR the finish, even though I'd been going for at least half an hour.  Like I mentioned before, there were no mile markers, so I just had to imagine how far I'd probably gone and then divide that number by two to get the actual likely distance traveled.

When we finally turned, three things happened:

1) It got dark, IMMEDIATELY

2) The sidewalk disappeared and turned into either a ditch, a 1-foot shoulder with uneven gravel or actually running in the middle of the road

3) All parts of my body gave out so that I was unable to properly navigate things like ditches, bushes with sticky burrs or slanted roadways

So here I am, not even attempting to run because even with my miner's hat I could barely see in front of me, on some farm road in the middle of nowhere.  No wineries, no grapevines - not the scenery I'd anticipated.  Part of the time I was so miserable that I started hallucinating that I was in Missouri and that I should go to my Grandma's house.  Because after traumatic events one is not likely to remember many specific things, here is a vague rundown of what was going through my mind at the time:

- Oh hey, my ankle stopped working.  Yeah, the one that basically doesn't have tendons.  Whoopsie.  That kinda hurts like fuck.

- Shit! Does that truck see me??  I guess I'll go run in this ditch - OW GODDAMN IT WHY ARE THERE BURRS IN THIS DITCH?  WHY AM I RUNNING IN A DITCH??

- I think I might actually die.  There's no one out here, all these houses seem dark.  Maybe they're making meth.  Is this the meth part of Sonoma?

- No one has passed me in like ten minutes.  Am I still going the right way?  I see no blinky lights in front of OR behind me..yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm lost.  Do I have a cell signal?  HA of course not, I have Sprint, the company that lets you die in the middle of nowhere.

- That's interesting, when I run I feel like I'm about to shit my pants with every step.  I should probably stop.  I can't afford to shit my pants a SECOND time as an adult.  Should I go shit in this woodsy area?  Oh wait, I'm fucking BLINKING.  I can't hide.  I'll just be the blinky person shitting in the trees instead of directly at the side of the road.  That'd be a little hard to explain.

- Oh hey, that burp was that hamburger.  My stomach feels gross.  Maybe I'll just vomit so I won't have to shit my pants. 

- Ok SERIOUSLY I've been running for like eight hours, how am I not at the end yet?  Where's the "one mile to go" sign??  I have to have run at least 15 miles by now, maybe 20.  It feels like 2am.  Oh wait!  There are people up there with lights on!  That must mean I'm close!

As I pass the people who had pulled their van over to cheer us on, I asked them how far away from the finish I was.  Expecting a "just around the corner" or "half a mile!" they told me "Only about 2.5 miles!" as though that was a short distance. 

"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?" I shouted back. Based on their silence I don't believe this was the response they were expecting.

- Uh oh, my friends are texting me.  "Where are you?"  I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE.  I actually texted them something to that effect.  They reply with something encouraging, when I really deserve "HURRY THE FUCK UP YOU ASSHOLE" - what nice friends.

- What would happen if I just sat down?  Would someone come find me?  Would I become roadkill?

- There's a light on in that house.  I wonder if they'd let me nap on their sofa.  I promise I wouldn't report the meth.

- Are there bears around here?  Because honestly I'm feeling pretty ok about being eaten by a bear right about now.  I mean, I'd be in the newspaper.  No one would say I was a wuss if I was eaten by a bear.  It's like a legacy.  They'd forget I was a terrible runner and spent most of my time sleeping, they'd just remember how brave I must have been fighting that bear that ate me.  Little would they know that I'd simply sit down and let the bear go at it.  No use in fighting, that'd just make it harder for the bear to eat me.  Is that considered suicide by bear?

I finally see a sign with a light on it - one mile to go!  This would have been much more encouraging had I not already been on this road for approximately 17 hours and 45 minutes.  I was limping because in addition to my ankle ceasing to function I had blisters on both of my feet, my hips hurt from being on a slanted surface for miles, I still couldn't decide if I was going to vomit or shit my pants, some unknown part of the back of my knee was hurting, I had burrs on my socks and I still had to make it the last mile.  I couldn't fake run anymore when I passed people. 

"You can do it!  Just one more mile!" people would shout.  NO.  NO I CAN'T.  I ACTUALLY CANNOT DO IT, which is why I'm limping past you at 1mph instead of pretending to get a second wind as you cheer for me, so please just stop.  You're making me feel stupid.  Let me live this humiliation alone, alone in this darkness of this weird NorCal farm country backroad.  I wanted to punch all of the encouragers in the face.  They may have been yelling "good job" but all I heard is "start running, people are going to see you soon!"

When I got to the finish line it was so weirdly disorganized and I was so dazed that I couldn't figure out where to go - luckily our next runner just ran up to me and grabbed the bracelet (our relay "baton") because I couldn't even tell who she was at first.  My team found me and led my limping ass back to the van, as I heard people come in behind me.  "How was it??" their teams would ask.  "It was GREAT!"

Great?  My teammates knew not to ask.  "Well, it was actually the worst couple of hours of my entire life, right up there with the food poisoning I got in Hawaii.  The only part of me that doesn't hurt right now is my hair, and I actually considered taking my own life approximately nine times.  I'm bleeding through my socks and tripping over my own feet, but other than that, I suppose it wasn't too bad."

The actual greatest moments of my life came shortly thereafter, first when a teammate agreed to run my last 3-mile leg for me without even requiring monetary compensation and second when I took my Klonopin and passed the fuck out on one of the bench seats in the van.  It was at that moment that I knew that never in my life would I ever have to run again.  Ever.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

THAT TIME I LIVED IN A VAN FOR 36 HOURS PART I

It was everything that Chris Farley would've wanted.  There was even a river...well, some of the time there was.

Last weekend one of my best friends had her bachelorette party.  Wait, no - that term leads one to believe that I dressed pretty, partied, got massages and got free drinks.  The correct description of this event was that my friend decided that she was going to kidnap all her friends, throw us in large white molester vans and not allow us to shower for half a weekend.

She came up with this plan long before she was engaged.  We all thought it would pass, that it would be a phase and when the time came she'd do something a little more, well, traditional.  Instead, despite the best efforts of all the bridesmaids to convince her otherwise, she firmly stuck to her original plan and forced us to run 205 miles in sweaty Goodwill dresses while sleeping in parking lots like a bunch of dirty hobos.

The name of the race was RAGNAR, which I believe is an acronym for some sort of neurological disorder suffered by all who voluntarily enter.  And I did say I was forced - not at gunpoint, not threatened with a messy friend break-up, but because you don't tell the bride no.  You just don't.  There are only two things you can reasonably refuse to do for a bride - first degree murder and (contrary to the Hangover's depiction of bachelor parties) face tattoos.  So when the bride tells you that you're going to run three legs ranging from 2 to 12 miles each through unknown terrain in the dark or the scorching sun and then get in a big van and repeat, you just fucking do it.

I'm pretty sure I've made it clear in previous blog posts just exactly how much I hate running.  This fire of hatred burns deep into my soul, as well as my small asthmatic lungs.  I also hate heat, which to me is anything above 80 degrees, and this summer was pretty much like I had moved not to Sherman Oaks but in fact to the surface of the sun.  Combine that with my complete and utter lack of funds that would otherwise be used for such things as a gym membership and you have the perfect training plan for someone who hates running.  Then the only good thing that happened in months, me getting a job, further pushed away any hopes of preparation because I can't be bothered to stay awake for more than 12 hours a day and would immediately fall into bed upon my return home after a grueling day not paying attention to documents for some whiney litigant.

The only people who managed to get out of running either had major surgery or were actively cultivating a child in their womb, neither of which I was willing to do.  So I prepared for the potential that I would need one or both of my legs amputated and just went.

After a 6-ish hour drive up to San Francisco and approximately four hours of sleep in someone's nicely furnished garage, I awoke to put on my running clothes in the dark and start this race of insanity.  I took a moment of silence for my ankles and likely the last time they would ever function properly before jumping into a large white 12-passenger van with a bridal veil attached to the roof.  There was nothing ridiculous about this scenario at all.

The starting line was in Golden Gate Park, one of the prettiest places in one of the greatest cities ever.  I wasn't as nervous as I should have been simply because my view was nice.  I have since learned my lesson.  We got a safety briefing as a team, I put on my pink empire-waist prom dress that made me look and feel pregnant and I cued up Toto's "Africa" on my iPhone.  I went to the starting line, completely unaware of what I was in for.  It was too early for my brain to properly function and realize the gravity of my situation.

As the race started, I followed the other racers through the park, by ponds and flowers and giant trees.  It only took a few minutes before I started having chest pains and realizing exactly how terrible of an idea this was.  I was terrified that my team would drive by in the van looking for me to cheer me on, so I ran when I was out in the open and walked when I was behind large bushes or on a woody trail.  Did I mention this first leg was only 2.8 miles?  Yes, I was already walking.

I started running again when the trees opened up to the ocean, the beautiful beach that I'd spent many a cold day searching for sand dollars on vacation when I was younger.  Oh yay!  I bet the end of my leg is right here!  So pretty.  This wasn't that bad after all!  Funny though, they hadn't been marking the miles.  Every other race I'd been in would always tell me when I hit mile 1, mile 2, etc.  No signs, except to turn left or right.  I didn't care for this, and as you will see in part II that I have the worst estimation of distance of any human alive.

As I run along the sidewalk by the beach, I notice a sign.  "1 mile to go!"  Are you kidding me?  I've only gone 1.8 miles?  It felt like I'd been running for an hour and that I had at least gone three if not five miles.  My lungs hurt, my hips hurt, my feet hurt...and then I saw the hill.

My brain remembers it as approximately 45 degrees, but either way this hill was the ENTIRE rest of the leg.  I was supposed to run a MILE UPHILL.  NOPE.  I couldn't even do that when I was running regularly, let alone now when I was basically a blob of atrophying muscles.  No.  It wasn't going to happen.  Fuck this.  I stopped and started walking up the hill.  It was about this time that I noticed I was getting lightheaded and not walking in a very straight line. 

My mind was jumping around everywhere.  "Ohh Musee Mechanique!  I love that place!  I should go check it out.  Wait, I have to finish this damn run first.  And it's 8am, it probably won't be open.  Look at that fucking hill.  What a bunch of dickbags, who makes the last mile of ANY run a giant mountain?  Fuck this shit.  Fuck this race.  Oh, hey, that's the last person in my wave that just passed me.  Sweet, I'm last.  Am I surprised?  Nope.  Whatever.  Jesus this is the biggest hill in the entirety of earth, why does it exist?  Fuck plate tectonics, man.  Stop making things all not flat.  Who the hell is that guy?  What a creepster!  He's taking pictures!  I bet he's some sort of weird sociopath who has a wall of sweaty girls running- oh wait, he's the race photographer.  Whoops.  I guess I should pretend I'm running.  OH THERE'S THE VAN!  I'M ALMOST DONE!  IT'S RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! ...wait, where's the exchange?  The vans are here- WHAT WHY IS IT ALL THE WAY OVER THERE?!  WHY IS THIS STILL UPHILL?  CAN'T I JUST GET IN THE VAN HERE, THAT'S MY GODDAMN VAN!"

By the time I reached the exchange and handed off to the next runner, I had approximately three working brain cells and they weren't getting enough oxygen.  I sat on the bench and apparently I looked so bad that a strange girl gave me her gigantic water and told me to keep it.   I don't really remember how I got to the van, but I do remember my friends telling me that "red is good, white and clammy is bad" and that I definitely fell into the latter category.

While stopping at Starbucks and picking up some scones at some ridiculously awesome Irish bakery, I asked "So what time do you think I'll be running my 5.25 miler?"

"5.25?  Dude, it's 6.6."

WHAT?!!!

...to be continued.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

PLAYING WITH FIRE

A couple of years ago I had the completely insane idea to "go off birth control" to "see how my body felt" without artificial hormones.  It was a raging disaster as chronicled in this post and I quickly went back on my pills within 2 weeks of my "experiment."

Well, sometimes we don't pay attention to how many refills we have left, especially when the only males I speak to are either related to me or legally bound to my friends, and sometimes I run the fuck out.  I had a nice solution last time - since I had graduated and couldn't use the health center but still   had insurance, I asked my shrink to call in a refill since he's a doctor and can technically prescribe anything.  When I tried to refill it this time, I pulled up to the pharmacy drive through only to be told that they needed some sort of "authorization" for MediCal (yes I'm on poor person insurance, screw you) as to why I need birth control.

Whoa whoa whoa.  A week ago I showed up, gave you my brand new poor person insurance card, and you turned right around and handed me all my crazy meds FOR FREE.  Now you're wanting a reason I need birth control?  How about I don't want to have babies?  Or more importantly, I need the hormones or I turn into some batshit crazy sobbing little schoolgirl who can't watch people hug without having a breakdown of some form.  They literally handed me a bottle of benzos FOR FREE after asking no questions nor requiring ID of any kind (if you don't know what benzos are, google "Xanax" or watch any number of episodes of "Intervention") just a week prior.

Fine, I thought.  I'll just go to Planned Parenthood when I have some time.  Which sadly now that I'm employed is never.  I sucked it up and prepared for the worst - who knew how long I was going to be sans supplemental hormones.  Last time I broke at 2 weeks - could I go longer this time?

For those of you wondering, me not having hormonal birth control is ironically a form of birth control in itself since I can't do anything without crying or acting completely insane, but really I'd prefer to just feel normal and have my damn pills.

This time it was a little different.  I went through the first week just fine, and as I reached the beginning of the second week, I felt no different.  This worried me, because what if it came all at once and didn't build up from a little crazy but instead exploded as UBER crazy without warning?  I was trying to be cautious, so when a Robin Williams tribute special aired Tuesday I debated about whether or not to watch it while I was "unmedicated."  I took a risk and surprisingly I only cried minimally, and in a way that I could stop when it was over - not the normal "cry for hours because I got sad and can't stop the sad."

While I still planned on getting an appointment for pills, I was less worried.  That is until Thursday.  I was scrolling through Facebook at work and passed a photo of a kitten from one of the rescue organizations I follow, and it was asking for someone to adopt him.  Suddenly I started feeling weird.  It was building up, slowly, quietly - so that I didn't know what it was at first.  Oh god oh god oh god no no nononononoNONONONOOOOOOOOO!  I thought of the kitten, he needed a home, I could take him, wait no I couldn't, my cats would try to kill him... then I thought of my own cats, oh how sad I'd be if they died, oh I miss them so much, they're my furry children, I rescued them when they were babies, look what a good life they had, WHAT IF I HADN'T TAKEN THEM?!  WHERE WOULD THEY BE? 

As the crazy was building, I tried to distract myself.  Think about baseball!  Look at baby pictures - ewww, that should do it.  I tried to get as far away from sad homeless kittens as I could and luckily I could feel the impending disaster subside but I'd had quite a scare.  I wasn't immune as I thought - I needed those hormones NOW. 

The next day a similar kitten post got me on the same track, and it almost overtook me, but I calmed down again.  But I can't keep this up forever.  Someday I'm going to have to trade $32 for an appointment to get my damn pills back - which is hard as I'm trying to get as many hours as I can at work since I'm taking half of Thurs and all of Friday off.  Planned Parenthood needs to be open at midnight on Saturday.  I guarantee I wouldn't be the only one there.

It's a little scary that I need my birth control more for crazy control than my other meds - but other than brain zaps and feeling shaky (that happens to everyone, right?) I don't have problems when I miss my crazy pills.  Also I apparently can't blog an actual narrative, since I don't think this post has a real end to it.  Seriously me, wtf.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

THE WEIRD KID

I'm sure it's surprising to no one that I was a very odd child.  This isn't to say I didn't have a lovely childhood - I did - but inside my shy, blonde little head were some very bizarre thoughts that I only later found out weren't completely normal.

My imagination was apparently very active, since I have no other way to explain some of the things I thought.  One of the best examples started with a simple family vacation to Epcot Center in Florida, sometime around 1985.

Our family vacations were very Disney-centric when we were young, which was good since as advanced as I was I likely wouldn't have appreciated Monet or a more "cultural" experience.  We went to both Disneyand and Disney World, but my favorite of all was Epcot Center in Florida.  It was gaudily 80s-futuristic which you may not know brings me immense joy and thrills (when they changed Tomorrowland from 50s Tomorrowland to ACTUAL FUTURE Tomorrowland I was horrified and quickly voiced my displeasure - why would I want to see actual innovation when I could see the glorious world of what people thought life would be like right now in 1955??).  In addition to glorious 80s future, there's the "World Showcase" which is basically an area that has about 10 countries, complete with replicas of actual monuments and buildings as well as restaurants and glorious shops full of foreign trinkets. This was where my obsession with Asia began.

On this particular trip, between two countries was a large construction wall painted with caricatures of children in various ethnic garb from around the world, along with the words "Coming Soon: Norway."  Most people, especially children, would look at it, think "oh, a new country is coming, cool" and stop there.  Not me, my mind was already creating a fictional Norway that was entirely too elaborate for an adolescent, let alone a toddler.

Based ENTIRELY on the wall with the pictures of children and notification that that location would soon be home to a Norway-themed area, I deduced that Norway was a country of entirely children.  Children ran the government, children worked in restaurants and factories, children were police officers, children wore adult clothing and acted like adults.  Where did Norway get all of these parentless children?  Why they were orphans, of course!  All the orphans in the world were sent to Norway to create a child society that worked as well if not better than the adult ones, because DUH.  I was very interested in visiting Norway after that to see what my young counterparts were doing while I played with my Legos and fingerpainted.

But did these children grow up?  Of course, silly - when they were adults they left Norway to enter the adult world in some other country.  Their choice, of course.  They were constantly being replaced by an influx of world orphans, so there was no worries of the country "dying out" as it were.

For the next couple of years, Norway didn't come up much, being five and all, so I forgot about this new land my brain had created.  Then we went back to Epcot.  When we walked through the World Showcase, Norway was open. I was thrilled!  And it had a ride!

Off we go to ride "Maelstrom," arguably the best ride at Epcot pre-2000, and I was in for a HUGE shock.  We walk through the doors and on one side is a store with Norwegian clothing and lots of things to use in snowy climates, and on the other was the line for Maelstrom.  As we walk through the turnstile to get in line, I notice the mural on the wall - various ships and trees and artifacts were depicted, but also people.  Grown men.  WITH BEARDS.  This was a completely inaccurate mural of what Norway was actually like. 

"Mommy!  Why are there men on the wall?  There's only supposed to be children!!"  My mom was rightfully shocked and likely concerned for my mental health as I told her the long, drawn-out history of Norway, as imagined by 5-year-old me.

I didn't get a straight answer out of her, probably because she was so completely baffled at my question, that we got on the ride before I could say anything else.  In our awesome Viking boat we floated down a river, passing MORE GROWN MEN WITH BEARDS (animatronic, but still) doing various things that should have been done by the children!  I didn't understand what was going on.  I was honestly convinced that Disney had made a huge mistake and just didn't do their research when creating the Norway exhibit.  Once we got off the ride, I brought it up again.

I don't really remember how it was finally laid out to me, but needless to say that was one of the first (if not the actual first) times that my parents probably started worrying about the sanity of their oldest child.  I was finally convinced that Norway was just another normal country, with the same ratio of kids and adults, doing normal things like being cold and dressing like Vikings.  The sad realization that there was no "child utopia" that I could visit as though it were my homeland was harsh, but I survived.

That was only the first of many weird ideas about the world that were eventually shot down by reality.  I'm still conjuring up new ones.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I'M SINGLE BECAUSE I HATE LIVE MUSIC

Yeah, you read that right.  I know you've probably never heard anyone say that before, especially if you live in certain places, but it's true.  I'm sure there are a few people out there that also don't like it but if they're smart, they'll never admit it.  I, as you well know, am honest about everything, so I'm hiding no longer.  I'm coming out of the closet.  I really just can't stand live music.

I wasn't really aware that this was such a big deal until I left Austin, where I spent my adolescence and college, and told others where I had come from.  "OH, I hear Austin's GREAT!  Why did you leave there?" 

To which I would often reply, "It's okay, the food is good but the weather is awful."

This would always spark the "But I hear there's so much good live music!  I'd love to go there, it sounds like so much fun!  Did you go see bands all the time??"

No.  No I didn't.  As a matter of fact, when my friends and I would go out to bars, we'd get pissed off if some band was playing at one of our spots instead of the normal Saturday night DJ that played stuff we could dance to.  When it was SXSW, we actually took the entire week off of going out because suddenly our fun, cheap dance bars had been commandeered by unknown bands and were charging cover.  We hid inside until the tourists and the bands rode away into the sunset and gave us back our social life.

Upon hearing that I not only didn't take advantage of the live music scene I was so "blessed" to have at my disposal for years but I actively didn't like such activities, the person I'm talking to looks at me as though I've just said I set puppies on fire for fun.  How can you not like LIVE MUSIC?  Do you not have a SOUL?  There are children in Africa with AIDS and no food who would DIE to see live music and you're throwing away this gift of American culture?  YES, YES I AM, SO LEAVE ME AND MY QUIET PLACES ALONE.

Why do I hate live music?  Oh, such a list.  First, I'm a grandma.  I don't like loud noises.  I don't care what that noise is - if it's loud, it's irritating.  I also don't like people.  Especially crowds of people.  Now put those two things together and you have live music.  The only way to make it worse would be if you handed me an infant as I walked through the door and forced me to drink IPAs all night.

Now don't get me wrong, I like MUSIC.  I'm not some weirdo who doesn't appreciate musical sounds.  Yes, I have an "eclectic" taste in music, and yes, this music doesn't generally include music that's played live (unless it's at a giant arena concert).  Granted I have a strong affinity for hip hop and rap, but I'm not completely one-sided - my likes include talented artists such as Adele, Marvin Gaye, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sarah Bareilles.  I enjoy a good symphony, which is technically live music but I'm sure you see the enormous difference between a night at the symphony and a night in a dingy club listening to a no-name band with their guitar amps on too loud and sharing the space with a bunch of drunk, sweaty hipsters.

But you're right, I DON'T want to "discover new music" or whatever the hell people do when they just go see random local bands play around town.  I can discover new music just fine - there are apps for that.  And don't get all up in my shit about "too much technology" - I wouldn't have discovered new music by going to live shows BEFORE I got my smartphone, it just allows me to listen to things I would never have heard by choosing new music that is similar to things I'm playing on my Pandora or whatever.  The best part?  I can discover it in the quiet comfort of my own home or car.  No sticky floors and temporary deafness of a seedy club.

Wait, so you haven't ever been to a concert?  No, that's also not true.  I don't particularly like concerts except ones in large venues with amenities like "seats" and "personal space."  I've seen Weezer, the Rolling Stones, RHCP, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera (NOT SORRY), Sarah Bareilles, Snoop and I'm sure some others that I've forgotten.  The commonality?  These are people that I REALLY LIKE and their concerts were held in places where I could sit down and enjoy the music.  I'm lazy.  I hate standing in one place.  If I'm walking, fine, but standing on one place touching people on all sides of me who are moving in all different directions makes me feel like I'm on some sort of weird grope-y rollercoaster and that's just not my idea of a good time. 

I also just generally don't care for the type of music that's played live - alternative, whatever hipster shit like Mumford and Sons is happening right now, folk music, country... All of those genres I wouldn't listen to anyway, let alone at hyper-volume.  Sometimes jazz is ok, if it's not super loud, but honestly I wish they'd just play the same stuff on a cd at a lower volume so I could talk to the people I'm hanging out with. 

Then there's the whole issue of live music in random places... a singer-songwriter playing on the patio of a food court or in a coffee shop.  Those are places that most people didn't go to hear the music, it just happens to be there.  Now what the hell am I supposed to do?  Is it rude to not pay attention to someone I didn't come to see?  I just wanted to get some goddamned dinner and I didn't know you were going to be here with your guitar and emotions.  Should I clap?  I feel obligated to clap when you're through even though you've suckered us into it, but I really don't want to encourage you to continue.  You're interrupting my meal and my conversation.  But then if I don't clap, as one of the ten people around, I look like a giant dickhead.  So thanks, not only for making me feel uncomfortable but forcing me to pretend like I want you there so as not to appear like the giant asshole I am.  I JUST WANTED A SCONE AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.

So no, I don't want to go check out that band with you.  No, I don't want to go to that particular bar because they always have some loud live band.  And I sure as hell don't want to go to the 3-day music festival and spend it listening to bands I don't know while I sweat profusely, get dirty and have to hang out in a giant crowd of other dirty sweaty people.  Concerts are just a combination of everything I hate with the exception of children.

Sorry. My complete and utter lack of a soul and I will just be hanging out over here, in the air conditioned place with places to sit and some goddamned peace and quiet.

Monday, August 11, 2014

WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR HERO

I've been lucky in my life to have very few people close to me die.  But when you lose a family member or close friend, you understand your feelings and that your grief is a normal reaction to such an event.  People know, at least to some degree, how to treat you and what your loss feels like.

Today I lost my childhood hero.  Robin Williams was and is the inspiration for me to want to make people laugh, to appreciate comedy, and honestly, to do things like write this blog.  I don't remember when or in what I first saw him, I just remember seeing a hilarious man who could do the voice of any human on the planet, as well as some aliens.  At the time I could do a decent Donald Duck impression, and a spot-on Marvin the Martian, so Robin Williams gave me hundreds of more voices to aspire to.

I don't remember how old I was when I decided I wanted to be like him.  The shy little kid had a side that desperately wanted to make people laugh, to be liked and to be recognized as funny.  I was the smart and quiet one.  I wanted to be the funny one, but I didn't have the confidence outside of my family and close friends.

When Aladdin came out, I instantly became obsessed with the Genie and learned all of his songs - complete with all of the voices.  When the fifth grade talent show rolled around, I desperately wanted to get up there and sing "Friend Like Me" with a perfect impression of his voices, but I knew I could never put myself on the spot like that.  Kids are cruel, and somehow I knew that even if I got up there and did it perfectly, it wouldn't have the effect I desired - not the way it would if I did the same thing right now.  So I just sang along with my tapes alone at home, thinking someday I could show everyone how good I was.

People were always asking us little kids what we wanted to do when we grew up.  Granted, I went through periods where I wanted to go dig up mummies or design houses, but for most of my life (and secretly to this day) I wanted to be in comedy.  I didn't ever just reply with "actress," or even "comedian" when asked - I specifically said "I want to be Robin Williams."  I didn't want to just do normal movies, or do stand up, I wanted to play crazy characters with accents and voices and hilarious backstories.  I wanted everything I said to be hilarious.  Even once I moved on to slightly more obtainable goals, I still followed Robin Williams in whatever he did.

To grieve for a person you never met is an odd feeling.  You feel like you don't have the right to really be that upset, that just because I didn't have a personal relationship with this person that my grief is somehow silly or unfounded.  But to someone who has been your hero - your FIRST hero - and shaped your life as much as Robin Williams has shaped mine, you feel like you know them.  I feel like he was a funny uncle, as though if we met he'd give me a big hug and smile with his smiley eyes that made him so likeable. 

The circumstances of his death are what makes it so much worse.  Knowing how he felt in his final hours, and in the months and weeks leading up to them, is heartbreaking.  I have suffered with depression for more than 14 years.  While I was only diagnosed when I went away to college, I recognize I had it in high school when I look back.  It is painful, debilitating and so misunderstood.  Waking up in the morning only to remember where you are and how you feel, reminding you that life just doesn't seem worth living - it's dreadful.  And what's worse is that no one understands that you physically cannot get out of your bed, eat, shower or walk down the street to the grocery store. 

Remembering those times, which have happened sporadically in the past few years, it fills me with pain to know other people are experiencing the same thing.  People who, unlike me, had millions of people who loved them, enough money to live comfortably and a career that they loved and cherished.  To "know" you have these things but be completely incapable of appreciating them because of depression is devastating.  And to be so convinced you'll never get better that you end it is even worse.  While I have never seriously contemplated suicide, there were days when I really just didn't want to be alive anymore.

I hope there were times when he was able to understand that there were people like me out there whose lives he touched and who loved him so much without ever meeting him.  I hope he knew how happy he made people. 

In college, I got the amazing chance to see him do stand up live at Bass Concert Hall in Austin.  I went with my parents and my college boyfriend.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, like when parents talk about going to see the Beatles.  He was my Beatles. 

He was my inspiration in my hardest years as a kid, and I credit him for helping me come out of my shell a bit and be a little funny.  He's why I go to stand up shows instead of concerts.  He's why, when asked what my actual dream job would be, I still say a cast member on SNL.  He is honestly part of why I'm me, why I have the sense of humor I do and have embraced ridiculousness.  He's why I use humor to diffuse uncomfortable situations, and he's why I try not to take life too seriously.

Rest in peace, old friend.  I hope that I turned out to be a person you would've liked, someone who maybe could have made you laugh.  Part of me will always be you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

THE COUCH MURDER

I have a very strong aversion to ugly things.  Ugly clothing, ugly people, ugly furniture - I cannot tolerate it.  I generally keep my opinions to myself, but when it comes to things in my own home, I absolutely will not stand for ugly.  Sometimes it drives me to limits I might not otherwise reach.

Back in 2010 I moved into a really awesome giant two-bedroom apartment in Silverlake with a view of the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and all of downtown Glendale.  The apartment itself was glorious in all ways - except for the fact that the parade of tenants that had lived there through the years and switched roommates in a way to make the place continuously occupied for over seven years not only owned but also LEFT some of the ugliest furniture known to mankind.

Consequently, when my roommate moved to Hawaii, she wasn't interested in packing an oversized couch in her carryon, so I was left with a smorgasbord of offensive furniture and a brother who is ugly-blind.

Specifically, we had three couches.  THREE.  One ugly pink 80s couch had been relegated to a corner and used as a place to pile our excess of blankets and a throne/fort for my cats; one was a gigantic brown sectional in a horrific brown corduroy that could never have been attractive that had the added bonus feature of being able to sleep two NBA players comfortably, and the final couch, the object of the majority of my rage, was an off-white brocade 70s/80s sofa with flattened cushions and unsettling stains.

As soon as my roommate moved out and the place became "mine," I took it upon myself to throw out the small pink couch and all of its mismatched pillows within mere hours of her departure.  Next on the list was the white couch.  It was about 8 feet long and nearly 4 feet wide, and to this day my brother and I have absolutely NO IDEA how this couch was put in the apartment unless it was built completely in the living room or simply existed and the contracting company built an apartment around said sofa.

When my brother wasn't home to help me move it out of the apartment for over a week, one 90-degree evening I decided to take matters into my own hands.  "I can just push it down the stairs.  No lifting, just pushing."  HAHAHA NOPE.

Within the first hour I determined that regardless of the positioning of other furniture, the couch could not be pushed out either of the possible exits and make it through the front door.  I tried turning it on its side, flipping it upside-down, backwards, forwards, upright, laying down, and in every position there was about a 3 inch margin of error that kept the couch from exiting my building.

Ok, I thought, I'll just take it apart.  Once I get an arm off, that'll get those 3 inches taken care of and I can get it out.  So I go get my screwdriver and start ripping off the upholstery only to find that the entire couch has been STAPLED AND GLUED.  By this time I'm sweating profusely, wearing mismatched workout shorts and a holey tshirt, swearing at an inanimate object that has been half ripped apart laying upside-down on my living room floor, surrounded by pieces of foam and floral fabric.  I began to consider other options, such as a controlled fire, but I was relatively sure that wasn't within the terms of my lease.

I WOULD NOT let the couch win.  It would never go back to its original position.  It was going to stay right there until it was outside my house on the sidewalk like the trash that it was.  No ugly thing like that was going to ruin my apartment.  My rage was building.  FUCK YOU COUCH, YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME.

It was about this point that rage caught up to logic and they formed a dangerous (but successful) idea: I needed to saw the couch in half.  I couldn't unscrew it, so I was just going to have to saw it.  After a few concerning posts on Facebook asking friends if they were in possession of a chainsaw or knew of a place I could rent one at 9:30pm on a Tuesday, I took my sweaty, disgruntled self to the Home Depot a few miles north.

In my infinite wisdom, I felt that if I were going to be doing a major construction project, I would need to be wearing safe, closed-toed shoes.  So I walked into a nearly empty Home Depot in Glendale at about 10pm wearing the aforementioned shorts and tshirt that I had sweated through, Ugg boots, soaking wet hair falling out of a ponytail and an expression that would scare a biker gang and went straight for the power tools.

If there is something you're not expecting to see on a weeknight, it's a small, angry blonde girl dressed like a homeless person pacing back and forth between the saws and axes with a frighteningly intense look on her face.  This was, in fact, the first time I had been to a Home Depot where at least three employees passed me and did not offer to help.  One went so far as to decide he didn't need to go down my aisle after he'd already begun his turn.

After about 20 minutes of weighing the pros and cons of an axe versus a saw, I picked out a nice double-toothed saw, paid cash and left.  I'm sure the police arrived minutes later.  But it was too late for the couch.  This is how I left it:

Not for long.  I arrived home with my newest friend, Mr. Saw:
It said a lot of fancy things on the package that I took to mean "WILL SUCCESSFULLY MURDER YOUR COUCH."  And murder it did.  In a matter of ten or so minutes, my couch looked like this:
Look how easily that will fit through doors!  SO EASILY.  I was so excited I posted this photo to Facebook with the caption "HALFWAY DONE!"  Take that, you ugly piece of shit.  Think you can go around being all ugly and sitting in my house?  THINK AGAIN.

In the end, the couch was cut into six pieces that were piled up downstairs by the trash bins.  My brother came home right at the moment I was carrying one of the arms of the sofa down the stairs.  He knew that this was a situation where he should likely stay in his room for the duration of the evening, which he did.  In the end, the scene of the crime wasn't as grizzly as it could've been...

I can still feel the joy and relief I felt looking at that last photo.  I had removed the cancer and the operation had been a success.  Unfortunately, the giant brown couch was there to stay until we moved out a month ago - and my brother took it to his new place, VOLUNTARILY.  I had absolutely no problem with the fact that I was left for two weeks with only an IKEA Poang chair and the amazing mid-century coffee table someone had gloriously left for me, sitting alone in the middle of a gigantic 600sq foot living area - because they MATCHED.

I'm sure someone is wondering if I have ever used that saw again.  In fact, it has come in handy multiple times in cutting open spaghetti squash.  Trust me, once you've sawed open a squash you'll never use a regular kitchen knife again.

Friday, July 18, 2014

MOVING SUCKS SWEATY MONSTER BALLS

Yeah, that's right, moving is awful.  Even when I'm moving into a nicer place, I'd still rather stick pennies up my nose until I have to go to the ER. 

I had the pleasure of being the last tenant in a dynasty of continuous renters that lasted approximately 10 years.  When I moved in, 3.5 years ago, there was already so much crap that wasn't my roommate's it was unbelievable.  When my brother took her spot, we removed a TON of crap.  Two couches (one of which I had to saw into six pieces because it wouldn't fit out the door), a bunch of kitchen shit, other random things like books/DVDs etc.  Now imagine cleaning EVERY LAST THING out of that place that has been gathering dust somewhere in the depths of a cabinet FOR TEN YEARS.

That being said, my new place is glorious - completely brand new everything in my unit, including the ever-elusive dishwasher and a working AC.  I have a pool, a workout room with reasonably new equipment and I live ALONE.  GOD LIVING ALONE IS SO MAGICAL.  I haven't unpacked some things because I don't know where to put them, so they're in the middle of the floor.  AND THAT'S OK.

I did, however, sense some problems when I found out that I was balcony-less and therefore was going to have to part with DirecTV, which I love like my firstborn son, but figured I'd get used to the new cable company.  I found out that not only am I only allowed to have Time Warner Cable, but it's 9 billion percent more expensive for subpar TV and internet than my beautiful DirecTV even after the discounts expired.  I call our complex's "representative" and he nicely speeds up my installation to the day before I move so I don't have to go one moment sans internet and TV.  Thoughtful.

Once it's installed, I go to work trying to find my shows to record on the DVR.  I NEED DVR.  I have no idea when my shows are on, and usually I don't even know what day of the week it is anyway.  DVR is my lifeline.  I set it to record Suits and Chelsea Lately and went off to do some other shit.  Fast forward to two days later, and there's nothing on my DVR.  NOTHING.  Chelsea is on every night, so there should have been at least two of those, but it was empty.  I decided to go through the guide and manually choose to record something.  The little red dot appeared next to the title so I thought in the not-too-distant future I'd have something to watch that was recorded.  I was so wrong.

After a long call with everybody's favorite customer service, it was determined that my DVR was broken and they were going to send me a new box.  Basically they screwed up on DAY 1.  The new box arrives 36 hours later, which would have been unbearable if I didn't have Hulu and my obsessive binge-watching of Korean dramas, and I hook it up.  I call to activate it and leave it for a while so it can download all the guides and whatnot.

Come to find out the second box they sent me was COMPLETELY worthless and wouldn't even show the correct time zone, so now I have two broken cable boxes in my home and a really shitty internet service that can barely handle streaming an hour-long show without stopping to load 3-4 times.

Since I finished my Korean series last night, I thought I'd take my TV-less day to do some laundry.  I've been hoarding quarters for the past 6 years because I've needed them for laundry, but apparently my new place has a card service.  Great!  No more quarters!  I push the button on the machine that says "buy new card"  and it asks me to insert a $5 bill.  I do so, and voila, my laundry card pops out.  Unfortunately, I find out after filling the washer with my dirty clothes that $5 is the price OF THE CARD and it has absolutely no value.  When I go back to the machine, it only has a cash slot, so I put in the $1 bills I had in my wallet.  NOPE.  DON'T WANT YOUR $1 BILLS, GO HOME ASSHOLE.  WTF?  Then a lady in the room said that it only takes bills IN INCREMENTS OF 5!  There's no coin slot, there's no credit card slot, there's just a cash slot that discriminates against poor people.

So I have approximately $10 in quarters, $5 in ones, money in my bank account and a bag full of still-dirty clothes.  WORTH. LESS.  Once I stop being so angry I'll walk down to the gas station and get me some 5s, but GOD THAT IS SO STUPID.  I HAVE LIKE 12 WAYS OF PAYING BUT YOU WANT THE ONE WAY I CANNOT PAY.

Someone punch me in the fucking face.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

RUNNING BACKWARDS

This sounds oh-so-metaphorical, like I'm going to inspire you with a tale of how I've found the right path in life, but it's not.  It's actually literally about running backwards.  Not a superfluous use of the word "literally" right there, by the way.

With all of the running talk of recent weeks, I had forgotten one of my most memorable 5ks.  It was, in fact, the only 5k that I ran an entire 3.1 miles.  The ironic part was I just didn't run the particular 3.1 miles that the race dictated.

Back in the spring of 2007, I was living in Dallas, dating a boy, and about to graduate law school.  I was also in what was close to the best shape of my life and physically able to run almost 3.1 miles.  I don't know what kept me going, but every couple of days I would go run on the Katy Trail, a paved trail through urban Dallas that followed the old rail line.  At the time, there were only 3.5ish miles of the trail that had been completed, so generally I'd run 1.5, turn around and run the same distance home.  If you see where I'm going with this, the Katy Trail is not a loop, it is a straight ass line that has a beginning and an end.

When I saw that there was going to be a Katy Trail 5k, I was excited because I knew I could do that mileage and that specific track, so I signed up.  I was by no means a race expert, having run probably one 5k before this one, and I didn't pay as close attention as I should have to the instructions.  I just looked up where the start was and got ready.

Since my boyfriend was going to be at work during the race and couldn't pick me up, I asked him to do me a favor.  I would go park my car at the end of the Katy Trail, he'd follow me, then drop me off at the starting line.  I'd have my key in my hand so I could get into my car where all my stuff was and be able to drive myself home.  It was a grand plan.

On race day, we did just as planned.  I left my phone (since this was pre-music phones, I probably had a Moto Razr or something) and my house keys in my glove box, taking only my car key.  My boyfriend dropped me off at the start, I put on my race number and timing chip, and we took off.

The first thing that sparked some alarm was that while the race was next to the Katy Trail, it was not actually ON it.  I guessed this was because of the number of runners, and they needed a street-width path to contain everyone.  So I start running through the streets of Uptown with my fellow runners, and everything seemed A-ok.  Then, about a mile in, we turned right.  Um...we're going to turn back north, right?  I mean the trail is north/south, so this east/west thing we've got going on is temporary, right?

I was semi right.  As we ran east, we went under a bridge that was the actual Katy trail, and just as I noticed that up ahead we did in fact turn back north, I saw some people running on the bridge above me, going the opposite way.  Wearing numbers.  I was still a few bricks short of actually understanding my situation, but I'd run right into that wall in about a half mile.

It was as we ran north on a parallel street that I became completely aware of what was going on - at some point in the near future, the race path turned around and we ran back to the START on the actual Katy Trail.  I tried to deny it until I saw way too many people running the opposite way on the trail a few hundred yards away.  When I reached this point in the story, a friend of mine stopped me - "Don't you know that races ALWAYS go in a circle?  I mean there'd be huge logistical problems otherwise."  No, no I was not aware that races always went in circles.  The first race I ran started and ended in different places, although we did make a near circle and finish close to the start.  This NEVER OCCURRED TO ME.

I realized I had about two minutes before I had to make a huge decision - do I run the race on the prescribed track, ending up 3.1 miles away from my car with nothing but a car key, or do I just keep running straight until I get to my car?  I had no way of getting ahold of anyone, no money for a cab, no house keys to walk home - I decided that in this state of emergency, I would just run to my car.  It was a 6pm race, and I didn't need to be walking 3 miles in the dark alone, especially after running an entire 5k.  I wasn't up for running a 10k.

So as I saw the turnaround approaching, I made the executive decision - nonchalantly take off my race number, continue going straight through the barricade, and pretend I was just "out running" and in no way a part of a race as I continued to run to my car.  A Dallas police officer was standing at the barricade making sure no cars came through, and with my number now folded in my hand, I ignored all the other runners and ran straight past the cop onto the sidewalk of a busy street.

"Ma'am!  You're going the wrong way!  Ma'am!!" the cop screamed after me.  I pretended like I didn't hear him and continued through the neighborhood as though I were just out for a leisurely evening run and not involved in whatever running activity may have been going on south of me.  Of course I was completely alone this time, because all the people who DO take leisurely runs were running the race.  So I stuck out a little bit.  At least I'd had the sense to take off my race number.

When I finally reached my car, having run the whole way with only short stops for stoplights, I felt semi-accomplished.  I did, in fact, run a 5k that evening, it just wasn't the 5k that the planners of the race specifically outlined.  I got in the car and drove home, glad I decided to take this choice versus walking for probably another 45 minutes to get back to my car. 

I timed myself at a rough 33 minutes, but I'll never know my actual time.  I bet the race organizers are somewhat confused as to why it's taking someone over 7 years to complete a 5k.  According to official records, I will be forever running the Katy Trail 5k.