Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fun With English

Wikipedia offers a list of the 100 most common words in the English language. This post is dedicated to those who strive to use words that don't even dream of being on that list.

As a waitress, I witness a lot of business meetings. During these encounters I try to offer what we call in the restaurant industry, "silent service". This means I try my darndest to anticipate and attend to the needs of a table full of guests while speaking as little as possible. It's a tricky skill to master. The guests usually help me out, though - they do their part by generally treating me as if I'm invisible. Thus, as I'm placing refills on the table and clearing plates, I hear all the details of things like quarterly estimates, profit projections and sales pitches.

A few days ago I served two guests that were involved in a sales meeting - something to do with pharmaceuticals. Guest A was the salesman and Guest B was the potential buyer. Guest A pulled out a large canvas case. It looked like an oversized wallet only, instead of carrying numerous credit cards, it housed at least two dozen different types of labeled prescription pills.

GUEST A: These are the prescriptions that I'm able to offer my clients.
GUEST B: (Leaning forward and peering over his glasses.) For what host of maladies?

"For what host of maladies." Please, take a moment to enjoy that. In the middle of a work shift, I felt like I had been transported into the Apothecary scene from Romeo and Juliet.

"For what host of maladies?" 
Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
Is death to any he that utters them.

Sweet Lord, that's good stuff.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Bathing Needs to Be Its Own Reward

When I was a little kid I was apparently gross, because I hated taking baths. My parents once tried to encourage me to look forward to bath time by buying me this big, egg-shaped bar of soap that had a toy dinosaur hidden in the hollow inside. The idea was that I would from then on get really excited to take a bath because each bath brought me one step closer to a new dinosaur toy.

Things didn't quite work out that way though. My parents had clearly underestimated the magnitude of my passion for dinosaurs. Instead of patiently waiting through multiple baths for my toy, I instead opted to take one long bath, working that soapy egg shell down until the dinosaur was free. I emerged from the tub hours later, boiled pink, hair matted, skin shriveled, covered in a thin film of soap residue that I hadn't bothered to wash off.

You see that face up there? That's what triumph looks like. Slimy, wrinkled triumph.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Greatest Story I Never Told

Here's a picture of a "key ring" that I bought a few years ago from Smallthings Designs:

I bought the ring because I thought it was beautiful - plain and simple as that. I just liked the way it looked.

I am frequently asked, though, "What's the meaning behind the ring?" When I respond with, "Oh, I just liked the way it looked," the person I'm speaking with is invariably underwhelmed. People are looking for a good story, and I feel terrible when I can't give it to them.

So I've decided I need to make up a story. A bunch of stories. Funny stories, sad stories, stories of mystery... I want to have a whole arsenal of tales at the ready whenever I'm asked about the origin of my ring.

And, I am officially accepting suggestions.

Flex those sexy imagination muscles for me! Please, go to the comments section below and post your hypotheses. Where did I get the ring? Why? Is it magic? Cursed? Is it a precious family heirloom or did I maybe just find it on the sidewalk one day?

Ready? Go! I will be eagerly awaiting your ideas.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lazy Sunday Hasty Photo

This picture was taken at a lip-syncing contest. I hatched a brilliant plan to perform as Alvin and the Chipmunks and lip sync their version of "Eye of the Tiger". Sadly, my scheme imploded on itself when I started a fight with our Simon right before the performance and she refused to go on stage.

P.S. I'm Alvin. Obviously.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pirate Joke

Here's one of my favorite jokes:

A pirate walks into a bar. He has a huge ship's steering wheel stuffed down the front of his pants. The bartender says, "Um, excuse me, Cap'n, I don't know if you noticed but you have a steering wheel stuck in your pants." The pirate looks at the bartender and says, "Yarrr, it's drivin' me nuts!"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fight Camp

I have only ever gotten in one physical fight in my whole life, and it happened exactly where you would expect - on those pre-hormonal proving grounds of hostility and rivalry:

Girl Scout Camp.

I was nine years old. My group had been walking back to our campsite after a spartan lunch of jelly sandwiches and some watery, juice-esque beverage. As we filed down the dirt road, in line, I amused myself by kicking a rock. I would kick the rock ahead of myself a few steps, catch up to it, then kick it again. I was getting pretty good at it.

Suddenly, my rhythm was interrupted. I had gone a few paces past where the rock should have been but I didn't see it anywhere. Naturally, I was concerned. Where did it go?

Then I saw it.

The rock - my rock - was still being kicked up the path. But it wasn't being kicked by my sturdy little sneaker, like it should have been; it was being kicked by the girl in line ahead of me. Blake. I tried calling out to her, "Hey Blake, that's my rock!"

She ignored me.

I said, "Hey, what are you, a rock thief?"

Still no response.

The rest of the way back to the campsite, I taunted her with such biting insults as, "No one likes a rock thief!" and "Rock thief! ROCK THIEF!" but I was unable to draw her attention. Finally, when we arrived at our tents, I confronted her, informing her that she had blatantly pirated my rock and her deliberate transgression had not escaped my notice. She looked at me and said, "Whatever. You don't own that rock."

I don't remember who struck first, but I do remember being suddenly involved in a small, two-girl tornado of swiping hands and kicking feet.

The fight quickly deteriorated into a stalemate. Blake and I were both pulling each other's hair, our bodies twisted as far away from one another as our hair length would allow, our free hands swatting lamely in the air. We were separated by a handful of other campers and we retreated to opposite sides of the campsite to cool down.

Somehow, word of the fight never got back to any of the camp counselors. Or, if it did, none of them cared (a real possibility). I remember sitting by my cot, though, waiting for some authority figure to find out about the smackdown and discipline me. I wept, trembling, into my hands. My crippling fear of getting yelled at completely eclipsed my passion for the lost kicking rock.

Well, at least I got it out of my system. I have never since been compelled to throw a fist at someone, either as a result of my own distaste for violence* or because I'm haunted by the image of how utterly lame and ridiculous I looked during my one real fight. Today, if I met Blake again, I certainly would not attempt to fight her.


I would find a more creative way to punish her for what she did.

* Real violence, I mean. I still love violence in movies. Love it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Playtime Turns to TERROR TIME!

It should have come as no surprise when, as I was growing up, I developed a great affection for horror movies and roller coasters. The warning signs that I had a bit of a fear fetish were everywhere - perhaps most notably, though, in one of my favorite childhood games.

I have no idea how my mother and I discovered this game, but I feel I should preface this story by mentioning that my mother is a very nice woman who worked at a church while I was growing up. She encouraged my sister and I to be kind, thoughtful people and she got us involved in volunteer work at a young age.

To the best of my knowledge, she never expressed a desire to torture me or turn me into a serial killer.

Got it? Okay. The game went like this: I would be standing in my playpen or crib, and my mother would pick up one of my stuffed animals. She would make it dance in front of me, merrily calling out playtime greetings. Then she would make it swoop in for a surprise ending.

Here's what it looked like from my point of view:

The last part of the game would result in me screaming in terror and then, after pulling myself together, begging my mother to do it again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Design Time!

I'm always craving new art projects, so I recently decided to create a promotional poster for Composing Lola. Using my very favorite (very low-tech) computer program, MS Paint, I put together a design inspired by vintage Art Deco-style ads.

Check it out:

Please feel free to print off multiple copies and plaster them all over your neighborhood. Or you can just frame a copy and keep it next to your bed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This above all: to thine own self be two.

I am two years old in the photo below. I'm not sure exactly what was going on when it was taken, but I appear to be topless, covered in stickers and about to eat a cupcake.

I really knew how to party back then.

In fact, I suspect that most children perfect the art of fun-having within the first few years of their lives and then slowly lose it as they get older.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lazy Sunday Hasty Photo

Happy Father's Day!

My dad, me and my Grampy, Christmas of 1989.

Is it just my overactive imagination, or does this photo look like it was cut from an exceptionally creepy horror movie?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My New Favorite Mispronunciation

One of my coworkers recently went skydiving and seems to have developed an adrenaline addiction. Today at work, he told me about his upcoming plans to be lowered into the ocean in a shark-proof cage for some shark watching action.

ME: That's awesome Stevie, you're crazy!
STEVIE: Don't worry, they'll be throwing chung in the water to distract the sharks.
ME: Oh.
ME: What are they going to be throwing in the water?
STEVIE: Chung.
ME: I think it's called chum.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Power of Love

Thursday, June 17, 2010

#3,201 on the List of Things That Confuse Me

How the heck do we walk on two feet?

Seriously, how is it that people ever get past the crawling stage? Look at how small your feet are in proportion to the rest of your body. Go ahead, look.

See? It boggles my mind that we're able to balance our whole bodies, upright, on those pathetic little meat packets. Not only that, but plenty of people (myself excluded) manage to be fairly graceful while balancing like that, and a lot of women like to make the ordeal even more ridiculous by stuffing their feet into spiky shoes.

Logic tells me that we should all be crawling around on all fours. Imagine how bizarre the whole bipedal concept would be if applied to some everyday thing that requires more reasonably distributed points of balance, like a table or a car.

Bravo, you wacky early humans who first began to walk on two feet. The beautiful absurdity of your acrobatic aspirations, I'm afraid, has been mostly lost on later generations.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Triceratops Tale

My favorite beach game as a child was "archaeologist". I would dig a foot-deep hole in the sand, place one of my dinosaur toys in the bottom, and then fill the hole back up. I would wait about thirty seconds - sometimes a whole minute if I was feeling exceptionally patient- then, wielding my plastic shovel, I would dig up the buried toy and pull it from the excavation site.

I savored those discoveries with a pride that filled my little heart to overflowing.

One afternoon, I buried my beloved triceratops in a good, deep pit. I waited a few moments, my shovel hovering anxiously over the dig site, and then dove in. As I flung shovelfuls of dirt over my shoulder, as the hole got deeper and wider, I was distraught to find no trace of rough, plastic triceratops hide anywhere. Whimpering, my brow furrowed, I continued to dig. Soon the excavation site was three times deeper and wider than the original hole had been. But there was no triceratops. It was as if a sinkhole had opened up beneath the surface of the sand and swallowed my dinosaur up. I was heartbroken.

I never played archaeologist again.

Age six, at Roy Carpenter's Beach - my old burying ground

When Jason and I started dating, I told him my tragic archaeologist story. It was one of a thousand stories we told in the flurry of getting to know each other and falling in love. I remember him being saddened by the tale of my terrible triceratops loss, but neither of us brought it up again after the first telling.

For the first few months of our relationship, Jason worked as a security supervisor at a nearby mall (Yes, I fell in love with a mall cop, and I'm proud of it.) One night, when he was working an overnight shift, he invited me to come down to the mall to visit him. I accepted. We walked around the empty shopping center, past dark, gated shops and locked-up kiosks. Eventually we approached a large store that was completely obscured behind thick plastic sheeting and construction signs. Jason led me to a side entrance and beckoned for me to follow. Sneaking into an off-limits store after hours in the mall, presumably for the purpose of making out?
The teenager in me was utterly titillated.

The store-under-construction was a fantastic mess. The vast, naked space was bathed in the acerbic glow of fluorescent light and the concrete floor was littered with thick cables and heavy-duty machinery. In a half dozen different places, the concrete had been blasted away, creating wide craters of chalky dirt. As I surveyed the holes in the floor, I joked, "Hey, do you think they'll find any dinosaurs down there?"

Unwittingly, I had just said the most perfect thing possible.

Jason grinned. "I don't know," he said, "Do you think they might?" He walked over to the edge of one of the craters and then gasped. Squatting down, he peered into the hole and pointed at something.

"Look," he said, "Come check this out!"

I jogged over to the large pit and looked. Then I saw it: a tiny horn poking up from the earth. My heart began to pound.

"What do you think that could be?" Jason asked. Bracing a hand against the concrete ledge, he hopped down into the crater and knelt  by the protruding horn. I pressed both of my palms over my mouth and started giggling, giddily.With both hands, Jason dug into the chalky ground and unearthed the thing that had been buried there, then held it aloft for me to see:

A toy triceratops.

Thank you, Jason, for being an amazing friend and a true romantic. Thank you for helping me dig up something I thought I'd lost.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ryan's Song

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I would utilize our time during Spanish class to come up with useful phrases like, "Todos mis amigos son monos" (All of my friends are monkeys) and "El tocino es mi hermano" (The bacon is my brother). As an adult, my uses for the language haven't matured much.

I call my nephew, Ryan, "my little chuleta de cerdo" (pork chop). Last week I went on a walk with my family, and little Ryan was strapped in to a carrier on my dad's back. Ryan was wearing an infant-sized baseball cap positioned at a jaunty angle and striped pants that looked like they were inspired by a man's Victorian-era swimsuit. As I admired his outfit I composed a song that I sang to him over and over for the rest of the day.

Ryan's Song
Me gusta mi sombrero,
Me gusta mis pantalones.
Me gusta todo febrero,
Me gusta camarones.
I like my hat,
I like my pants.
I like all of February,
I like shrimp.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ugly Duckling

Jason tells me that mine is a true "Ugly Duckling" story. For those of you who need a reminder of how, um, less-than-stunning I was as a child, here you go:

Need a closer look at that face?

Yup, that was me. I vaguely remember strangers regularly commenting on how brave and kind my parents were for adopting me from the home for orphaned, inbred Neanderthal children.

But, oh boy, things do change. And all those kids who made fun of my looks when I was little can bite me.

You hear that, world? Yeah! Get a load of me now:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lazy Sunday Hasty Photo

An old standard, one of my favorite jokes:
You know what this is on your head? An African Brain Sucker! And you know what it's doing? Starving!


Photo by Angela Greenlaw

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thanks, Dad, For Believing I Can Be Like Rambo

My education was very important to my dad when I was growing up. To this end, he made sure that I saw certain films that were essential for a developing young mind. I remember sitting next to him on our couch and watching, and re-watching, movies like The Terminator and Aliens. Dad wanted me to be exposed to positive, capable female role models and I came to agree that Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley fit the bill perfectly.

One of my childhood favorites, introduced to me by my dad, was First Blood. I adored feral, mentally unstable John Rambo. I also adored his knife.

Shortly after the release of First Blood, my dad had purchased a very awesome weapon that he referred to as his "Rambo knife". I remember, when I was young, finding the spot in my parents bedroom where Dad kept the knife hidden. Whenever I had the chance I would sneak in and admire the blade, slipping it gently from its casing and running my little fingers over its serrated edge.

A few days ago, my dad gave me one of the greatest gifts that any man has ever given his daughter.


The Rambo knife!

He gave it to me with both the original sheath and a new sheath, and he showed me how to sharpen it. A fully functioning compass is set into the pommel. The handle of the knife is hollow and houses some matches, sewing needles, fishing hooks with line and a... well, a whatever-this-is:

Dad suggested it might be a band saw. If you can figure it out, let me know!

MOM: I can't believe you gave your daughter a dagger.
DAD: (Indignant.) It's not a dagger, it's a survival knife.
ME: Yeah!

My dad has insisted, a couple of times now, that he gave me the knife because he wanted me to have a compass for any hiking I might do, but I know there's more to it than that.

Thanks, Dad, for believing I can be like Rambo!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Burn Victim

Yesterday my mother-in-law, Wendy, took me to an Esthetician for my first professional facial. It was awesome. My skin looks and feels so good that I didn't need to wear makeup when I went out last night.

Over the years I've experimented with a number of at-home skin treatments. My favorite product is the peel-off mask - it's like someone used my childhood love of peeling dried glue off my fingers as inspiration for a healthy and acceptable adult activity. Hooray!

Here's a photo from when some friends and I were playing with peel-off masks. We named this snapshot "The Burn Victim":

Photo by Andrea French 

Haha... that was a good time. I'm glad I was only pretending to have a second-degree burn on my face, though. If it was a real burn, that night probably wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dumbest Nap Ever

Today, after visiting with my family in Plymouth, my parents were kind enough to give me a ride all the way back to Salem.

When I was an infant, my mother would sometimes take me for a drive to help me fall asleep. The soothing movement of the car passing over the pavement beneath always knocked me right out. Thus, as an adult, I tend to get a little sleepy when I'm riding passenger in an automobile.

So I totally passed out on the drive home today. I passed out  so quickly, in fact, that I crumpled into the most uncomfortable and spine-abusing position possible. When I woke up I found myself with my lap facing forward, my torso twisted awkwardly at the waist and my face planted in my overnight bag.

I felt not very well rested and, hours later, my back still hurts.

Oh well, better luck next nap.

Rock Bottom Baby

I found out that my sister had scheduled an intervention with my nephew, Ryan, this afternoon. When I saw Ryan, a little later in the day, I felt compelled to play a part in his intervention. He's my nephew, and I love him. I sat across the table from him and began to read from a letter I had prepared.

Dear Ryan,
Your addiction has affected me in the following ways...

When I finished reading the letter, Ryan's face crumpled. He began to cry and scream. I felt terrible.

As my sister tried to comfort her son, she explained to me that the "intervention" she had scheduled for him had nothing to do with drugs - it was simply part of a process to screen for early signs of developmental disabilities.

My bad. Sorry, Ryan.

Photo by Julie Fitzgerald

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Survived Another Year!

Yesterday Jay and I celebrated our birthday!

Yes, we have the same birthday. Yes, we know that's crazy/cute/creepy/etc.

Our awesome friend Kolleen drew us this picture as our birthday present:

Isn't it amazing? I can't believe how much it looks like me - the part in my hair is on the correct side, my enormous teeth are drawn perfectly to scale and my love for unicorns is adequately represented.

Happy Birthday to us!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lazy Sunday Hasty Photo

For my seventh grade semi-formal, my dress was first-class fully sparkly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thunder Hangover

I feel like junk today.

An air-quaking, sky-blazing thunder and lightning storm of apocalyptic proportions swept through town early this morning around 3:30 AM. Normally I love thunder, but this morning I was genuinely scared. One crack of thunder was so intense that I felt the house shake. It knocked the electricity out and set off all the car alarms within earshot.

I got out of bed and didn't return for hours - not because I wasn't sleepy (I was) but because my imagination still gets the best of me. In my delirious state, I became concerned that we were under attack by aliens that use massive weapons of atmospheric disturbance to disable civilizations. I wanted to be awake if it became apparent that I should speed down to White Hen and buy up all the water and canned goods I could find before the inevitable riots began.

You can never be too vigilant when it comes to a malevolent alien apocalypse, I reasoned.

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Doughnut Day

Fact: Today is National Doughnut Day.

Fact: The geometrical term for the shape of the doughnut is a "torus"

Fact: Taurus is the astrological sign for those born between April 20th and May 21st.

Fact: The Ford Taurus was first manufactured by The Ford Motor Company in 1986.

Fact: The evidence clearly shows that there is only one way to appropriately celebrate National Doughnut Day, and that is by riding in a 1986 Ford Taurus with someone who is a Taurus while eating doughnuts that were made between April 20th and May 21st.

Best of luck, my friends.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Self-Inflicted Nightmares

I have always had a very active imagination - sometimes to a fault.

My mom was very good about tucking me into bed when I was child. She would tuck me in super tight, so I would feel safe, turn on my nightlight, and then wish me sweet dreams. I would then curl up tightly, my knees pulled to my chest, and pull the sheets over my head (praying fervently that monsters wouldn't devour me) until I fell asleep. That was my ritual.

One night, while sleeping, I somehow managed to turn myself completely around beneath the sheets. I had some sort of terrible nightmare that night. When I woke up, the top half of me was tightly tucked beneath the sheets at the bottom of the bed. I had no idea what was happening - I just panicked. I was pretty sure that demons had trapped me beneath my sheets and were about to attack.

I don't remember much after that point. I remember screaming. I remember my mom coming to save me. I remember her assuring me that vicious, sharp-toothed monsters probably weren't going to burst out of my closet and eat me alive.

I also remember that I continued to sleep with a nightlight on until I was about fourteen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Feel the burn... and the terror!

Here's a photo from the Christmas when my sister and I were given adorable aerobics outfits:

Julie appears to have the workout thing mastered - look at her, clapping in time to the music!

I, on the other hand, appear ready to chomp into and tear out the jugular of whoever is sitting across from me.

Terrifying, right?

"Yeeeaaaaargh... brains..."

A, B, C ... or WTF

Oh, Salem State College... your academic accolades are so deliciously fickle!

I would like to take a moment tonight to congratulate both my husband, Jason, and my good friend Kolleen, for getting on the Dean's List this semester... while also, somehow, simultaneously (due to some bizarre computer glitch) getting notice that they are on academic probation.

This world is a crazy place. I hope your education has prepared you for it.