The consequences of telling the truth

My parents never believed in corporal punishment, and usually my biggest misdeeds were met with a time-out, and later on in life, a grounding. There was one time, however, I received the classic parental discipline. A spanking.

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I believe that there is something to be said about having a two parent household. When one parent is having a bad day or over-reacting, the other can step in to even out the situation. And while I believe my mother did a supremely excellent job of being a single parent, there have been one or two times I wish she had had another voice beside her. This is the story of one of those times.

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We were living in Wyoming, and my mom decided to let my sister and me turn one of the rooms in our house and in the basement into a playroom. We are artistic types, so my mom bought a bunch of paint and let us go nuts and paint the walls. We ended up with a fantastic mural, there was an Ariel, a Prince Phillip, and even a Maleficent-turned-dragon. My then 7 year old sister painted a monkey with pink overalls in one of the trees.

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My sister’s monkey was a much lighter color and smiled.

One day I came down to inspect our work and I saw that the light switch cover had been taken off and painted pink. It was on a piece of plastic on the floor and I noticed that some of the paint had pooled and created a puddle on the side. Thinking I could rip it off and even it out, I unpeeled the fixture from the plastic and ripped off the puddle. Unfortunately, semi-dry paint doesn’t work that way and the paint ripped off a little into the plate as well.

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I spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to even out the paint on the edges, and eventually I gave it up as a los, peeled the paint from the whole cover, and left it back on the plastic sheet. I did not realize then, how great my mistake would be.

Several hours later, my mom came home from work. I was chilling in my bedroom when I heard her stomping down the hall towards my room and then my bedroom door shook with a deafening knock. BOOM BOOM BOOM

I reluctantly answered the door. “Yes, Mom?”

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She held up the paint-free light cover in her hands. “DID YOU DO THIS?!”

My eyes got wide with fear from her unanticipated rage. I hesitated.

“DID YOU DO THIS?!!”

My voice was small and plaintive. “No, mom.”

“You Didn’t Do This?”

“No, mom.”

I watched her march down the hall and pound on my sister’s door. I closed my door but just for a crack and watched the scene unfold. Claire opened the door with trepidation.

“Did You Do This?!” My mom held up the light switch cover in front of my sister’s face.

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Why?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mama.” Claire replied.

“I KNOW you did this! Your sister said she didn’t do this and your sister NEVER LIES!”

I saw my sister break into tears as my mom grabbed her hand and led her to the basement. At this point, my feelings of guilt started to seep in. As annoying and invasive of my private life as my sister had become, she was still the biggest friend I had and I was tormented with the idea that she would receive the punishment I so rightfully deserved.

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Which one of you did this?

I stealthily followed them into the basement and cautiously stayed around the corner of the stairs while I listened to their arguments of accusal and denial. I was so scared of my mom’s wrath that I was determined to stick to my story until I heard that she was about to do something she had never done before. Spank my sister.

“Five spanks because you did this! Five MORE because you are lying about it!” I heard my mom yell.

My sister’s cries of innocence were too much more than I could handle. I was suddenly transformed into George Washington. About to confess to his father that he in fact, did, cut down that cherry tree.

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I ran out into the room and screamed, “No, Mom, don’t!”

Confused, and with her hand raised about to spank my sister she turned to me and asked why.

“It was I.” I confessed.

At this point I was so upset with my sister’s potential first spanking, and was so overwrought with guilt that I burst into tears.

“I was the one who took the paint off the thingy,” I sobbed. “It wasn’t Claire. She knew nothing about it.”

My mother looked at me, bewildered. I pleaded with her.

“It was I! I took the paint off. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of… happened.” I looked at my sister with regret and humiliation.

“I’m so sorry, Claire.” I cried.

“It’s okay,” she answered with tear soaked eyes.

My mother, unaware of what to do, and the rage she felt before evaporating, decided that my punishment should be the original five spanks, with two less because I told the “ABSOLUTE” truth. I was spanked three times, though I think my mom used less force than she should have.

I think now that I could have gotten away with it, but sisterly love is more important than a spanking.

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I will always love you.

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My First Concert

I’ve been working on a novella (of sorts, I think) for children, and realized that although many of my ideas are amazing, they aren’t fleshed out and I hadn’t published anything in over a year. So for your reading pleasure here is one of my favorite childhood stories.

There’s a lot that you can learn about someone from their favorite music. Personally, my musical tastes have ranged all over the spectrum. From classics like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, to classics like Brahms and Beethoven, and from world music like Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, to world music like They Might Be Giants, I have loved much of it, and continue to be inspired by new songs. Even (haters gonna hate?) the “guilty pleasure” ones. However, there is nothing like your first concert to carve a special place in your heart.

If I accidentally get a few details wrong or have embellished a little, please forgive me and attribute it to being an old memory a quarter of a century ago.

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I was about seven when I heard on the radio that the Beach Boys were planning a reunion concert in Houston. There was a raffle courtesy of Exxon Mobile that would give away one scratch-off ticket for every time you bought a gallon of gas. The top prize, of course, being VIP tickets and seating to the Beach Boys! My mind raced with excitement and I imagined sitting in the front row, being serenaded by those lovable beach bums, “Don’t worry babeee…”

I don’t remember exactly when I decided the Beach Boys were one of my favorite bands, I think it was around the time I would get caught jumping on the bed to Toto’s Rosanna or tearing around the living room to the Beatle’s We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.

Sidenote: I used to get in constant trouble for jumping on my bed. I would put on a song, crank it up, and just go wild. I learned to lock my bedroom door for fear that my father would catch me. This did not last long, as when he would hear the loud music he would come to my room, and finding my door locked would knock and ask, “Adaire, WHY is this door locked?” I would race to unlock it, red-faced and panting from my exertions.

This is why beds were created!

This is why beds were created!

“Hi Daddy.” I would greet him with my most innocent of expressions.

“Adaire…” he intoned, “Have you been jumping on the bed?”

Breathing rapidly and shaking my head vigorously I would respond, “No, Daddy. I haven’t been jumping on the bed!” My fingers twisted behind my back to negate the lie. My dad would usually then just sigh and tell me to keep the door open and turn down the music.

Looking back, I don’t believe I was quite the weaver of lies I thought I had been. images

Another fond memory of the Beach Boys was when myself, my sister, and a couple friends from church or school decided to choreograph a dance to the classic beach tune Kokomo. Ranging in ages from 4 to 8 we all put on swimming suits (and in one girl’s case, an old ballet costume because there wasn’t enough swimwear) and planned an intricate dance of twirls and generally accepted “beach-like” activity. The girls got in their places as I went to put the cassette single for Kokomo into my mother’s stereo system.

Unfortunately, I was not aware that each side of the cassette played a different tune. I cranked up the volume to a level I was sure would not be approved of and got into my starting position.

A-WHOP-BOP-A-LOO-BOP-A-WHOP-BAM-BOOM! shouted Little Richard.

Claire was so startled she rolled of the coffee table she was perched on. I ran over to turn it off, to turn down the volume, to do anything, when my mom came running in.

“I wasn’t… we were just… it was supposed to be…” I started feebly apologizing.

My mom for some reason started to smile and I realized everyone else behind me was in fits of giggles. Just so you know, Little Richard’s Tutti Fruiti is also quite danceable in swimming suits and ballet costumes.

And I believe Carlton would agree.

And I believe Carlton would agree.

So I eventually wore my father down with a relentless stream of chatter, “I just have to see the Beach Boys and wouldn’t it just be the best thing and if I only won one scratch-off (two concert tickets per winning one) that of course I would take him if we only got two seats but if we got four seats then I guess Claire could come but who would get the other ticket? Anne, of course…” He agreed to go to a gas station and ask if we could have some scratch-offs.

When pleading goes right.

When pleading goes right.

I must have done a better job pleading than I thought because we ended up not only going to one gas station, but no less than eight, each time with my dad running in and darting back out with two or three scratch-offs in hand, while Claire and I awaited eagerly in the back seat with quarters to reveal our winnings. Alas, they were all duds.

The last gas station we went to my dad looked at us and said, “Girls, I’m sorry, but this is the last Exxon station I know, and it’s getting late and we need to go home. Perhaps if you go in and ask for some scratch-offs they’ll give you more.” Claire and I agreed and promised that we would be in his sight at all times as he watched from the car. I leapt from the vehicle and ran inside, my sister close on my heels.

I took the lead and approached the lady behind the counter, “Excuse me, ma’am, we know that you don’t usually give scratch-off tickets without buying gas, but the Beach Boys are our favorite band and my dad has been driving all over asking for them and may we just have a few?”

The woman looked at me appraisingly and glanced over to our father watching us from the car. Eventually she asked, “If you love the Beach Boys, what is your favorite song?”

In rapid fire succession my sister and I exclaimed,

Kokomo!”

I Get Around!”

Run Run Run Till Her Daddy Takes the T-Bird!”

Help Me Rhonda!”

We had gained the attention of some of the other employes who had started to gather behind the counter. One of them asked, “Do you know… Barbara Ann?”

I know a performance request when I hear one. I launched into, “A-bah-bah-bah-bah-Babara Ann!” To Claire’s credit, she did join in some, but being a little more reserved than I, she mostly danced behind me as I wailed out the chorus. Being 5 at the time, she did admirably.

The gas station attendants applauded at the end of my short song and I beamed. They then presented us with a whole box of scratch-offs. We thanked them profusely and ran out back to the car to show our dad what we had procured.

So Many Tickets!!!

So Many Tickets!!!

“Well done, girls! Now, try not to make a mess back there and let’s get dinner,” he congratulated us. Claire and I immediately withdrew our quarters to begin the scratching process as Dad turned on the ignition and switched to reverse.

Just then, one of the attendants came bursting out of the shop with something in her hand. “Wait! Little girls!” She approached the driver’s window as my dad rolled it down to talk to her. “That entire box probably won’t have any winning tickets in it,” she told us. Claire and I were crestfallen. She continued, “My boyfriend and some friends and I were going to use these, but I’d rather them go to some hard-core fans.” She then gave the two winning scratch-offs she had been holding to my dad. A total of four whole concert tickets.

Claire and I squealed with glee and thanked and thanked her in very high-pitched and loud voices as we left the gas station, waving good-bye.

Thank you, Angel of the Scratch-Off Lottery.

Thank you, Angel of the Scratch-Off Lottery.

At last, the day of the concert had arrived. My dad, sister, best friend Anne, and I all piled into my dad’s VW Bug and drove to the city to reap our rewards. In a stroke of luck, the opening band was America, the writers of the Last Unicorn soundtrack. Anyone who has read my post about meeting one’s heroes or knows me at all will know what a special place that holds in my heart.

Claire kept up with mine and Anne’s enthusiasm for a long time, but after a while dosed off peacefully in my father’s lap. I remained undeterred, and even though it was much past my usual bedtime, I resolved to make it to the end. When the Beach Boys finally appeared and started to play I was in a state of euphoria. I knew and sang along to almost every song and didn’t spend much of my time in my seat, but danced exuberantly in the aisle with Anne.

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The cautionary tale of too much exuberant dancing.

We were close enough to see their faces, and the concert went by in a flash of vocal harmonies and surf rock.

When the four of us trundled back to the car, I was the only one still at Red Bull-esque level. Claire was being carried and Anne walked sleepily by my side. My dad asked, “Well, Adaire, did you enjoy the Beach Boys?”

“Oh, Dad, it was the best!” I replied. “But…”

My dad looked at me quizzically. “But what?”

“Daddy, I know those weren’t the Beach Boys.”

“What?! Adaire, of course those were the Beach Boys! Why would you think they weren’t?” my dad demanded, after all his efforts to get us to the concert, he was not about to be dismissed by his seven year old daughter.

I looked up at him solemnly and answered, “Daddy, those guys were old.”

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Apparently I hadn’t learned that the photos from their cassettes and records I had listened to and looked at so fervently had been taken quite a few years earlier.

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I Have Had a Dream, Past the Wit of Man to Say What Dream it Was

I just woke up from a dream that I have to write down. Most of my dreams are strange, I never outgrew the imagination phase of childhood. I frequently am a pirate, or I am a witch excavating the ruins of an alien city, or recently a dinosaur farmer. For those who are unfamiliar with dinosaur farming, it’s like owning a ranch, but with gigantic lizard-like beasts instead of cows.

Today’s dream is brought to you by Al Pacino. I’m dreaming I’m in the mafia. My mafia dreams are more like the Jets vs. the Sharks than the Sopranos, by the way. I have to kill these two guys who are going to try to kill me once they realize how important I am in the family. I’m injecting poison into some ravioli to serve them when they come in for dinner at my restaurant.

Now here’s where it gets weird. On my side is a young Ron Howard from Happy Days. He is dressed like the Man in Black from the Princess Bride. Both of these things do not seem abnormal to my sleeping self. Ron tells me he will serve the bad guys the poison ravioli. I tell him no, it’s too dangerous, but courageous Ron does not know the meaning of danger.

Ron Howard in full pirate attire leaves the kitchen with the ravioli and goes to the table where the bad guys are sitting. But no! Something about the situation must have tipped these cunning gangsters off because they pull out their guns! Ron starts to run, but he gets shot in the back. I will avenge you, Ron! I come running out of the kitchen, firing both my guns (which have magically appeared in my hands) and start shooting at the bad guys.

Let it be noted that I am a pacifist, and although I have used magic, my ninja skills, and a shovel to kill bad guys and zombies in my dreams, I NEVER use guns. It is unusual for me to dream about guns, which is I think why after firing all my bullets I didn’t hit anything. The bad guys and myself looked at each other for a second, pondering our next move, and then my alarm went off and I woke up.

Now I need to make myself lunch. When I return with the next installment, I will tell the cyber-verse about my dream where Dave Coulier with green eyeshadow and a faux-hawk is a Terminator sent to destroy me. I don’t know why.

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A Valentine’s Post

When I was laid up in bed recovering from my broken back I had way to much time to spend on the internet. I did two things. I started this blog and I joined Match.com. One of those was a good idea.

First there’s Todd. Todd’s profile says he makes a good living working for a internet design company. He’s fairly tall, decent looking, and says he’s not into games. We email each other and I give him my phone number. He immediately texts me, first saying hi, then the VERY next text he says he’s “sexually aggressive” and “would that be a problem.”

Yes, stranger from the internet. That is a problem. Has this technique worked for him before? The way he just launched into it made me feel I wasn’t the first girl to be repelled by him. Next.

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Damian was promising. He was a little short and goofy looking, but had a good sense of humor. We went on 5 dates in two weeks and I was starting to like him when he texted me out of the blue and said he didn’t have the right vibe from me, and that he was going to go with his instincts and stop seeing me. At least he was direct.

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Arnold was a little chubby, but an artist and piano player. I could never resist the artistic types. But dater be warned, “artistic” and alcohol go hand in hand. Even Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t keep up. My liver thanked me for breaking up with him.

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Now there’s Matt. Matt responds to my texts, but doesn’t usually initiate them. The one night he asked me out I wasn’t able to go. Did I miss my chance? Guess it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m not saying I’m perfect either, I broke up with someone who was genuinely sweet and caring because I was annoyed by his voice. Lisps are cute with children, but it’s not what I look for in the men I date.

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So like the character Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother, I will continue to search for the one, and not feel depressed by this Hallmark holiday. When it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

Fortunately, I can ignore all my rocky love life because I have the best sister who has planned an evening without boys. We are dressing up, going to dinner, and then the ballet. Best Valentine’s day ever, anyone?

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Breaking the Cycle (or 4 Easy Ways to Get out of a Depression Spiral)

So I have FINALLY joined the ranks of the employed people again. Praise Jeebus. Consequently, I am in a good mood with some time on my hands, but no money yet. The answer? Ramble about random crap on the internet!

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Everyone knows that it’s incredibly difficult to get out of a spiral of depression. I know that the more depressed I become the less I get accomplished and the worse I feel about myself. My apathy and negativity only breeds more negativity, and eventually I’m only able to socialize with those who similarly hate life in general.

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So this got me to thinking, what are the things that people do to get out of a funk and feel better about themselves? Quite a few of my “feel good” activities include something incredibly geeky, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, to quote Ben from Parks and Rec, nerd culture is mainstream now, so when you use the word “nerd” derogatorily, it means YOU’RE the one that’s out of the zeitgeist.

But I digress. I’m here to discuss the things I’ve tried to get myself out of depression. Not all of these have worked. In fact, there are a few that were downright counterproductive, but nonetheless, here they are.

Alcohol (in all it’s various forms)

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One of the worst (and most common) things people do after something traumatic happens to them is to get drunk. Homer Simpson said it well. Beer. The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. Who hasn’t had a tough day at work and gone to happy hour at their local watering hole?

But if you really think about it, drinking when you’re upset or stressed is actually an incredibly stupid idea. Alcohol is a depressant, and most of the time afterwards you are left only with a headache, empty wallet, and mild to severe dehydration. Despite the temporary euphoria, none of the results are a cure for what ails you.

Creative Outlet

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This one is my favorite. Whether you enjoy painting, writing, being a mime, or whatever, expressing yourself creatively gets out all the bad energy you’ve been building up inside you and expunges your feelings. Personally, I rock the PANTS off some karaoke. There is something cathartic about getting up in front of a room of perfect strangers and belting your heart out to an 80’s power ballad. Or, if that doesn’t annoy you enough, I can sing something even more atroucious like a song from a musical. Gloria Estefan sang it correctly, eventually the rhythm is going to GET you. Truth be told, I love it all, except for the dozen or so karaoke songs that have been so overdone that they need to retire permanently. Ooh! Topic for a later blog.

Meditation

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When your mind is running a million miles a minute and you can’t sort out the path you should take, meditating in some form is a very good way to get clarity of the brain. Some people read an inspirational book, some people light incense and take a bath, and some people do a serene exercise like yoga or pilates. I, for one, like to do a combination. I read a fantasy novel in a contortionist twist whilst in my bubble bath.

Comfort Food, Blanket, or Other

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A quick fix to make myself feel better is to cook my favorite meal, wrap myself up in my favorite quilt, and watch my favorite show on Netflix. These small but essential things bring me back to the truth that is Adaire, and even if I have only a few minutes, I can listen to a groovy song on the way to work. It puts my mood in an entirely new light.

I know there are many of you out there who are going to tell me I missed a huge one: exercise. To you I say, go bother someone else. I hate running when I’m not going somewhere with a purpose, or climbing stairs to no where, and team sports baffle and intimidate me. The one exception for me is dance. Dancing fits into the exercise category very well, but the only reason I enjoy it is because it’s an art, and I’m putting dancing up there with Creative Outlet. I am sure when the zombie apocalypse comes I will be kicking myself for this one, as I watch all of you healthy individuals run past me as I’m being fed on by a horde of zombies because I fell behind when a stitch in my side hindered my escape and my weak lungs ended it.

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Our Trip to Germany (or If Something Can Go Wrong, it Probably Will)

A lot of things haven’t been going very well for me lately. I was almost reduced to accepting a job that I really don’t want to do, but when you’re down to your last hundred dollars, with no way of paying your bills, you end up doing things you never thought you could do. I might have a tiny, tenuous grasp of integrity left, as I refused to work in a Bikini bar, though I did think about it very hard.

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Of course, this is far from the first time things have looked so hopeless, and I’m reminded of the time that I went to visit my little sister in France and we took a day trip to Baden Baden, a place in Germany with natural hot springs. I don’t know why the universe picked that day to screw with us, but things kept going terribly wrong.

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So my younger sister Claire was taking a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France and I went to visit her. She has always been a perfect hostess and wanted to do something special for me during my stay. She had been to Baden Baden with her fellow exchange students the previous month, and thought we could take the trip just the two of us without too much difficulty, even though neither of us speaks a lick of German other than, “Gesundheit.”

The day started out fine. We woke up late morning and grabbed a mozzarella sandwich from the delicatessen. Immediately Claire and I got into a bizarre conversation.

We started chatting about allergies and how it would be hard in a country where you didn’t speak the language to tell someone you’re allergic to strawberries. What would you do if you saw someone go into anaphylactic shock? How would you diagnose that and how could you save them?

This is when the conversation took a sharp turn for the worse. I blame medical TV shows like House and Grey’s Anatomy.

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Claire: I would perform an emergency tracheotomy and save their life.

Me: Claire, you don’t know how to perform an emergency tracheotomy.

Claire: (getting more eager) Yes! I could get this pen I have in my bag and remove the end bits and the ink in the middle and save their life!

Me: That could go horribly wrong.

Claire: I would do it to you!! If you were dying and needed me to do it I would take this pen and jab it in your neck!!!

Me: … *blink* … Listen to me. No, focus and listen.    … I would rather die.

It was like some kind of nightmarish roller coaster ride, and the more she thought about it, the wider her eyes got and more excited she became, like a very enthusiastic and pretty lunatic.

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It took all my conversational skills to talk her down from this idea. For a good half hour she was convinced that I might need an emergency tracheotomy and even took out a writing utensil to show me exactly how she would stab me with a pen. Let the record show I have no food allergies.

At this point, my internal warning signals should have been blaring to cancel the whole trip from this obviously insane start, but I knew how much it meant to Claire so I went along with her, though I will forever be a touch afraid of the woman.

We navigated the public transportation of Strasbourg to make our way to the train station. Turns out what should have been a 15 minute ride took us over an hour, and we arrived at the train station with only 5 minutes before the train to Baden Baden was scheduled to leave.

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything.

We realized that we would probably not make this train, as we still had to purchase the tickets, but decided to not worry and wait for the next train to Baden Baden leaving in another hour. It wasn’t a direct train, but Claire and I thought we could handle one little transfer. Feeling a little deflated, but spirits still high, we chatted and listened to music on my iPod to pass the time.

We got off to transfer, and proudly read directions and communicated with the conductor in his broken English and our abysmal German to find which platform to go to. Once located, we found some chairs to relax on, as we would probably be waiting for another half hour.

My sister and I have very similar taste in music, and we were getting really into singing along to my iPod. After a particularly rousing rendition of Queen’s Somebody To Love (and since there was no one within earshot to mock us) we decided to use my camera to videotape our performance. We can get really into the music…

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… and being naturally gifted performers we were so involved with the music and video that you can actually see the train we were supposed to catch pull up behind us, and leave again without us the wiser. I wish I could post that video here, but alas I think it is forever lost on an old laptop of mine.

When we realized our error we looked for someone to blame, but as we had only ourselves we managed to shrug it off and wait semi-patiently for the next train to arrive in another hour. The rest of the journey there was fairly uneventful, and our time in Baden Baden was relaxing and fun. We even splurged on dinner (a delicious spaghetti bolognese) and the only other minor hiccup was when I saw a full frontal of a 60+ year old man coming down the stairs in front of me.

Claire had neglected to mention that the upper levels of the establishment were clothing-optional.

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After the harrowing journey getting there we made sure to know exactly what time we had to leave to make the train back to France. We made the train in plenty of time, but started to become concerned when 15 minutes after the “departure time” we were still in the station.

After a while we heard some announcements, but as neither of us speaks German we were at a loss for what to do. I began making calculations in my head as to how much a taxi would be from Baden Baden to Strasbourg and panicked when I realized it would come out to approximately 600 American dollars. I was halfway convinced it was a necessary expenditure, though, because Claire had a final exam to take the next morning.

Then, an angel of the universe appeared in the form of an old German businessman who spoke English and let us know that there had been a suicide on the tracks and that if we were to make it back to France, we needed to high-tail it out of there and catch the last train of the night on the opposite platform. Now, some of you may say that this person was not an angel, but trust me. At this particular juncture in my life when looking at spending the night in a German train station, he was.

Help is on the way, dear!

Help is on the way, dear!

Claire and I hastily grabbed our belongings and sprinted to the other platform. It was a cinematic movie ending, with the doors closing just as the back of my heel cleared.

By the time we made it back home it was 2am and Claire and I were both exhausted and picking on each other. I won’t get into the fight that ended our night, it was mostly petty and we forgave each other by morning. Suffice it to say it was a memorable trip, and even now when things seem to be darkest I know the dawn will come.

doom

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The Day I Almost Died at an Amusement Park (or Why Beer is a Good Motivational Tool)

I haven’t always hated heights, I think it is something I’ve grown into. I remember being much braver as a child, living in Wyoming, riding horseback and climbing rocks in the Badlands. It is my opinion that as my eyesight became worse growing up, my fear of heights proportionately grew. I now commonly wear gigantic frames that would be about an inch thick, if not for the invention of plastic and the compression technology used for thinner glasses. Also, a big shout out to Zooey Deschanel for making my vision handicap look purposeful, I have on several occasions been asked if my frames were cosmetic.

Hiya, handsome.

No, you can’t try on my glasses, I need them to survive.

Some people have never experienced vertigo and don’t know what it feels like. To them I say it’s like my brain missed the class on depth perception, and doesn’t know where to tell my eyes to focus. The strain of focusing on the foreground and the background at the same time makes me dizzy and that directly contributes to my acrophobia. With that in mind, the following story is a mostly true account of my activities at an amusement park one summer. Names may have been changed to protect the identity of the persons involved.

When I was a new college graduate, I and my friends Ellen and Portia took a trip to Six Flags Darien Lake. We were at that idiotic age of having just turned 21, adult enough to go on vacation by ourselves, but juvenile enough to pick an amusement park.

I love roller coasters. I know to some people this may seem contrary to my stance on heights, but here is my reasoning why it is not. When I’m in a roller coaster, I am strapped into a giant machine that has been tested so much that it is virtually idiot proof and I will not be able to stumble or fall out even if I wanted to. However, when I am on the plastic see through stairs with no backs on them at the MoMA I become extremely nervous and positive that I will somehow lose my balance and probably manage to fall in between the plastic pieces to the concrete floor below. Whoever designed stairs without the back portion must have been some kind of fearless stunt person. Even though I maintain my vice-like grip on the hand rail, I always have a hard time trying not to think about a diabolical troll creature underneath me hoping to grab my ankles.

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Remember how I mentioned my friends and I (what did I call them… well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) had all turned 21 within six months? When you first turn 21 you realize how many places serve alcohol, and you wish to try EVERY SINGLE ONE of them. Because of this, a few of my 21 year old drunken experiences were in places like bowling alleys and airports.

So, after a few rounds waiting in line and riding the coasters we decided to get a burger at one of those fake restaurants they have in theme parks. Now, I had just been on a ride known for it’s vomit-inducing capabilities and was not at the moment feeling hungry, but being 21 and legally allowed to drink in public I decided to order a beer. I think I was given the options of a medium, xtra-large, and the most popular “bucket’o’beer.” Being an intelligent and fancy adult I chose the one the size of my head.

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Now anyone with even a little experience drinking knows it’s not a good idea for a 100+ pound girl to drink a gallon of beer on an empty stomach. I was less familiar with the concept of moderation because there weren’t many opportunities to drink beer when being raised by two minister parents. Regardless, I was feeling more than a little tipsy when my friends Lenny and Squiggy started talking about how much fun it would be to go on the Giant Swing.

The Giant Swing is basically the Gateway Arch of St. Louis with bungee cords attached. You are strapped in, lifted up about 800 feet, and suddenly dropped, your tiny body plummeting toward the earth, back and forth till you come to a gradual stop.

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Sober me would recognize this as a bad idea, and all the smooth talking in the world would not be able convince me otherwise. And at first I was against it. However, once it was suggested, I started to rationalize to myself that it was my obligation, nay, my duty to prove to myself and my friends Hall and Oates that I could conquer my fear and ride the Swing of Terror. With my beer goggles on, I was Independent Woman, capable of anything and nothing would stop me from doing anything I wanted to!

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We chugged our watered down lite beers, and stumbled to the sign up station. Upon arrival, we were told the earliest time slot available was 4 hours later, just before the park closed. Undeterred, we signed up anyway, and figured we would goof off till then. Unfortunately, as time passed my beer buzz started to subside, and I began to feel more and more anxious about the swing. Over the course of the afternoon, I tried several times to persuade Simon and Garfunkel to let me back out, but to no avail. I was to do this with them or I would be permanently labeled a Bad Friend.

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When it was finally our turn my naturally pale skin had turned almost translucent, and I was shaking in my Doc Martens. The swing operator gave us the run down of what to expect while we were harnessed together like three sardines in bubble wrap, and said that any one of us could pull the release lever once we got to the top. Then he took a beat, looked at my petrified self and adjusted his statement, saying it would probably be a good idea to not let me be the chosen person, as it was likely I would chicken out and we could get stuck up there all night. I’m pretty sure he was joking. There was surely a backup release trigger they could use… or was there?

When we were being slowly hoisted into the air I remember thinking that of the hundreds of times this ride had been used, it was highly unlikely that this would be the one time the bungee cords would finally snap, though I thought it would make a good story for my obituary.

Why did I agree to do this?

Why did I agree to do this?

I allowed myself to be distracted by the view of the park. It was sunset and almost anything can look serene from 800 feet. I expected that once we got to the top my friend would say, “Ready guys? On three… two…” and give me a chance to muster up my courage.

Instead, as soon as we got to the top, my friend pulled the trigger immediately, not even giving me a chance to catch my breath. We flew through the air so fast all I could do was inhale as the bottom dropped out of my stomach and my hair whipped behind me.

I'M FREAKING OUT, MAN!

I’M FREAKING OUT, MAN!

Indeed, I couldn’t scream until we hit the apex of the swing at the other side. I made up for it on the way back, using my singer’s trained diaphragm muscles in an imitation of Tarzan. As we slowed down after a few times back and forth my screams turned into laughter, and when we were unstrapped from the harnesses at the bottom my friends and I were in giggle fits. I was relieved for the whole thing to be over and more than a little thankful I had managed to escape with my life.

But I did it. I braved my acrophobia and rode the Giant Swing. Now that that experience is checked off my list, I will never do it again.

The kicker of the story is that not only was I talked into this, my friends Bert and Ernie somehow got me to pay for the whole thing, because they were broke and I’m a doormat.

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The Best Super Power of All Time (or How Tangents get Started)

I really need to get used to the internet. This morning, someone in the internet stratosphere who speaks a language I don’t, “liked” one of my posts.  This language doesn’t even have letters I recognize. It is actually probably some kind of Arabic, but my overactive imagination brain interprets this as alien hieroglyphics. Isn’t this the coolest thing ever? I wish I spoke All The Languages so I could go to her blog page and say, “Hey, it’s amazing that you can communicate in 2 languages, that must make it twice as easy for people to understand you!”

This got me to thinking, wouldn’t the ability to talk to anyone in the universe be the best superpower ever? Seriously, if I had a superpower it would not be invisibility (what’s the use of being so weird if no one can judge you) or mind-reading (people’s secret thoughts are legit scary) or flight (I get dizzy in tall places). Instead, I could speak Klingon and Mandarin and Drunk Party Chick! I would use my powers of communication to broker treaties between warring nations and organize peace everywhere!

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I assume the power to communicate is directly correspondent to level of intelligence. If I were to have a chat with the King of Sweden we could have a conversation about how vodka and IKEA don’t mix but are equally fun, where as if I were to talk to my mom’s dog we would probably be reduced to one-word observations of feeling or nouns. Eg., Ball! Outside! Cuddles! In my mind, I would put Drunk Party Chick’s level of communication skills somewhere slightly above my mom’s dog’s and slightly below Brick Tamland’s.

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If I were to try to talk to a slug, however, I think the lack of a brain would limit my communication abilities. I would be reduced to sharing unspecific levels of pain and/or hunger. I seriously doubt these creatures have the ability to feel happiness. But who knows, maybe that’s my anti-slug prejudice showing and slugs really do have the ability to feel sorry or horny or comfortable. Just because I’m ignorant of their sluggish brain doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just that it probably isn’t. I’m sorry slugs, maybe someday in an enlightened society I will understand your purpose.

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So to answer your question, any time something small happens in my life (such as a person “liking” my blog post) it becomes such a huge deal to me that I have to write an entirely new post about it. I shudder to think what will happen if anyone ever leaves a comment!

Update: I just found out that there is an X-man with the power of omnilinguistics called Cypher. He was mostly used for his ability to “understand” computers. Good thing everyone in the X-man world speaks English, then.

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Radical Thoughts on Dreams and Imagination

I have always had an overactive imagination. Sometimes the people I read about or conversations I rehearse in my head take up more space and time than my actual relationships and responsibilities. I would probably be a very successful person, if I wasn’t so busy daydreaming all the time.

Can't you see I'm terribly busy? In my MIND.

Can’t you see I’m terribly busy? In my MIND.

In my mind I’ve had tea with Elizabeth Bennet, locked eyes with a handsome (yet also witty and down-to-earth) celebrity across a crowded room, and even slipped poison into the chalice of a malicious king, an act which I knew to be treason and would probably be killed for but which would save the kingdom from almost certain peril.

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I have been known to sing along to songs in public, and I once choreographed a modern dance to Pat Benetar barefoot in my living room. This overtly crazy behavior is reenforced by the movies and books I surround myself with.

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Regrettably, being an adult doesn’t always allow for goofing off time, which is so vital to my general sense of well being. The annoying part is that when I am busy being a productive citizen of the world, working hard, paying bills, wearing blazers, I get into a routine that doesn’t encourage flights of fancy, and I will find myself unhappy for no apparent reason at all.

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As I cannot identify the source of my unhappiness I become gradually more and more depressed, until I feel my spiral of depression and anxiety leak out of my ears and into puddles behind me. I’ll tell others that I’m sick or tired because I honestly don’t have a good answer for them.

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Reality is a bummer that constantly tries to drown out my imagination. This is evident in the world of dreams. When as a kid I would dream of magic and mayhem, now as an adult I often dream that I’m late for work, or that I’m unprepared for an assignment or presentation. Even my nightmares turn from monsters with big elbows who lurk in soggy places to a trip to the dentist. These mundane thoughts become more and more abundant as I get older, and I sometimes worry that some day I will not be able to remember the vast landscapes and colorful characters I once dreamt of so often as a child.

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But last night I swear I had a dream I was a ballerina witch who was collecting puzzle pieces that when put together would show me a map to the source of magic. And tonight, who knows? I might be a pirate who kills zombies on a submarine to protect my little sister. I hope so. I hope dreams of this nature will continue to plague me throughout my adult life. Some non-believers could call me flighty, misguided, even high-maitenance. I choose to call myself inspired, a person of faith and passion.

A last word to all the dreamers and believers out there, keep it up, the world is more interesting because of you.

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How To Play it Cool When Meeting Your Hero

Living in the cultural mecca that is New York City can be pretty awesome. Most of my fellow New Yorkers have a story or two about meeting a celebrity.

Squeeeeee

Squeeeeee

Some of their stories are short, “I saw Alec Baldwin at Best Buy.” And some are epic tales of karaoke with the cast of SNL.

I had the opportunity to work at an upscale hip hop slash sports club owned by a certain rap mogul, and consequently met several famous people during my time there. Unfortunately, as a country girl who loves the theater, I had no idea who most of those people were. Even as others around me would flip the frick out I remained oblivious to their notoriety, and to this day do not understand the fawning worship that these people would inspire.

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I maintained my aloof, uncaring disposition, and kept my absolute chillest while serving rappers, singers, sports players, and (the worst of the lot) reality television stars. I did, however, concede that if David Bowie were to ever walk into the club, my panties would hit the ground so hard you could hear a sonic boom.

My eyes will pierce your soul and destroy your undergarments.

My eyes will pierce your soul and destroy your undergarments.

I was therefore not prepared to meet my favorite author, Peter S. Beagle, at Comic-Con one year.

For those who don’t know, Peter Beagle wrote my favorite book of all time, The Last Unicorn, and it has since been turned into a classic animated family film and I hope one day a much darker live action movie. Think the re-imagining of Batman or the difference between the 80’s animated Hobbit and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I own three copies of the book; an early edition (not a first edition you liar on E-bay) that I keep on a shelf, a copy that I will lend out to friends and/or family who have interest in borrowing it, and a copy for my own reading pleasure that no one is allowed to borrow because I will often reread it about once a year. I have an old VHS of the animated movie, a DVD that I ordered from Conlan press so Peter Beagle could sign it, and the only Blu-ray in my movie collection is The Last Unicorn. In addition, I have original artwork from a friend drawn for my birthday, framed pictures of the Unicorn tapestries, screen backgrounds of the Unicorn by the immensely talented Rebekah Naomi Cox, and several plush toy unicorns given to me over the years. I even have a permanent dedication to The Last Unicorn, a tattoo on my ankle. My adult bedroom could easily be inhabited by a 12 year old version of myself.

I like... unicorns.

I like… unicorns.

Imagine my delight when I found out that Peter S. Beagle, in the flesh, was to come to Comic-Con and sign things.

I was given a pass to attend Comic-Con and carefully packed my early edition copy of The Last Unicorn in my purse and headed to the West Side of Manhattan to meet the author who shaped my childhood, nay, the very fabric of my being.

This being my first venture into comic fandom I did not dress up, but had heard stories of the elaborate costumes and level of precise detail the Comic-Con fans would recreate. As I was also a die hard geek, I did not judge these creatures, but respected them as only a true fan could.

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I waded through the crowds and made my way into the labyrinth that is New York City’s Comic-Con. The soul purpose of this trip was to meet Peter Beagle himself, but I felt my journey into the depths of Nerd Domination had to be savored so I first stopped to get a slice of soggy pizza, and meandered past the multitudes of stands, pausing at the Red vs Blue booth to buy a t-shirt, and made my way to a small table in the back of a vast ocean of booths.

I turned a corner and saw in the distance the subject of my adoration, Mr. Beagle, sitting behind a desk full of Unicorn paraphernalia jovially smiling and chatting with a small group of fans. At that moment my heart began to race, I blushed nervously, and I started to tremble as I approached my idol.

When keeping it real goes wrong.

When keeping it real goes wrong.

When it was my turn to meet the honored guest I handed over my copy of the book I wanted signed, and told him in a voice that was at least an octave higher than my normal speaking voice that I had read his novel two dozen times, and that with every read I would find more to connect to, as it is a book that lends itself to generations of readers, and artfully shows deeper themes of heroism and spirituality. Peter Beagle gracefully accepted my praise, and gave his signature to my book.

I tried to maintain my cool exterior but felt such an abundance of happiness that tears were leaking out of the corners of my eyes as I thanked him and tried to stop babbling. I walked away from the experience elated, feeling all at once jubilant, astounded, and inexplicably serene.

If they ever do make this book into a live action movie I hope I can be involved somehow. I will never again judge a person for freaking out over a beloved icon, as I have witnessed the glory of a true believer, which exists in the inner-most part of me as a little girl who loves unicorns.

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