Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Miss Christmas Magic.

Snoopy is the best. The End.

So recently I've been thinking a lot about childhood. I've become re-obsessed with Disney, raiding our old collection of VHSes (what
is the plural form of VHS?) and watching Disney Classic after Disney Classic. As I write this I'm listening to the Lion King soundtrack. I have gone to see Tangled three times in the theater and have the soundtrack, as well as two coloring books and a Little Golden Book about it. I really love Tangled. And Flynn Rider.


All this Christmas paraphernalia everywhere really makes me think of Christmases past. I realize there are a lot of things I really miss about my childhood Christmases. Here are just five.

1) Trying to sleep when I know Santa is coming.
There was always that feeling of great anticipation when I went to bed on Christmas Eve in my red-with-a-teddy-bear-on-the-front Christmas nightgown. I'd say my prayers and tell myself to go to sleep, but the thought that maybe I'd catch Santa this year as he filled stockings or put gifts under the made me so excited that I stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, enthusiasm bubbling inside me and making me feel like throwing off the blankets and trotting downstairs.
Sometimes I'd wake up really early and barrel into my older brother James' room, bouncing up to his bed and occasionally bounding onto it, waking my poor brother with an excited, "James! James, it's Christmas! Wake up!!! Let's peek before Mommy and Daddy wake up!!!" My brother always had the patience of a saint, mumbling a half-asleep "Wait a minute. We'll go down in a little bit." I lingered there, bouncing on his bed lightly and checking to make sure he didn't fall asleep again.
We would steal downstairs, where the house was all dark but for the lights on the tree. It was customary not to even peek at the tree, because that was were the really good stuff was, but we'd tiptoe through the kitchen and check to see if there were any new stuffed animal friends or treats sticking up out of the top of our stockings, hung over the fireplace like every year.
After we'd sneaked our illegitimate peeks, we'd go back upstairs again, shushing each other unnecessarily. I'd sometimes take a millisecond-long glance at the living room where the tree was, just long enough to see if there were any huge presents.
Anyway, what I'm trying to portray here is that the anticipation and the magic surrounding Christmas made it my favorite day of the year. There was little under the tree on Christmas Eve, and then the next morning, the bottom of the tree was so filled with presents that it seemed the expanse of gifts spilled out until it reached either corner of the narrow side of the room. It really seemed like a miracle every time.

2) Putting out treats for Santa and his Reindeer.
Every year, we would put out a treat for Santa (sometimes it was cookies, sometimes it was banana bread or another sweet), some milk, and a plate of carrots or oats for the Reindeer. I always saved the nicest carrot for Rudolph, because he was my favorite. I'm not sure how everything was gone the next morning, but my parents must have been quite dedicated-- I know firsthand that eating oats plain is not the most pleasant experience, but bless them, the whole plate was empty.
Sometimes I'd even write a thank-you note to Santa on the plate, so it could only be seen when the treats were cleared away. It usually said something to the effect of, "Thank you for the [insert the year's most coveted present here], Santa! Have a safe trip!"
This year I might just put out some cookies, because we have a whole bunch of cookies.

3) Having Christmas recorded.
Every year, Mom and Dad would record our Christmas with the videocam. Christmas always officially started with my brother and me sitting at the top of the stairs in our pajamas, listening to our parents converse in hushed tones about how to make the videocam work while we exchanged looks like, "It's the same every year."
"Are you sure it was charged? The light isn't coming on."
"I thought you had the batteries!"
"This one doesn't have batteries; you have to charge it."
"Does it even have any--? Oh, drat. This tape is full!"
By the time everything was in order, my brother and I were resting our chins in the palm of one hand, trying not to fidget. But when Mom came to the front of the stairs with that videocam, we straightened up and beamed, ready to finally begin Christmas with the unloading of our stockings.
From the unloading of our stockings to when the last present's wrapping paper was ripped open and the gift was proudly held aloft, Christmas was recorded to be enjoyed in years to come. I always delighted in being recorded, as I was (am) something of a ham. Naturally I wanted to watch last Christmas after the current year's was over. So sometimes we'd dig up tapes of past Christmases and watch them, during which my parents would always remind me of the time a younger me had pointed to the television with a home movie playing on it and exclaimed, "Me on the tiv-ee."
To this day I have no idea where all those old tapes reside, but I only hope the memories I hold of those Christmases are safe, incorruptible by time.

4) The unwrapping of gifts seeming to last forever.
When I was little, it seemed like we got a LOT of gifts every Christmas. I remember one year I took a peek at the tree early and saw so many presents that the floor around the tree wasn't even visible, and there was what appeared to be a giant, fluffy, white polar teddy bear sitting in a chair beside the tree. This excited me because my brother had a giant fluffy white polar teddy bear and I had always been jealous of it.
Anyway, it seemed like it took us hours to unwrap all our gifts, and it was never tedious. Each thing was a surprise, even if I'd been asking for something since Halloween.
After everything was unwrapped, I would make the experience last by playing with my new toys (and invariably losing one of the many small parts they came with). Christmas was awesome cuz I never got bored.

5) My annual Beanie Baby Nativity.
Okay, this one requires a little explanation. As a kid, I collected Beanie Babies. That part isn't so unusual. But the unusual part is that I have OVER TWO HUNDRED. Or something. I've never actually bothered to count, but suffice it to say that I have at least six tubfuls, and several outside tubs as well. I often felt like my Beanie Babies were neglected if I didn't play with them, so I'd get them out and play with them all at once-- they would be divided into couples for a dance, or I'd make stories out of whatever song was on the radio and act them out with two Beanie Babies as characters.
Christmastime was fun because I always assembled a Nativity scene in my room with my Beanie Babies. Everyone from Baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph, to the Three Wise Men and the mythical Little Drummer Boy, to the angels (played by my angel bear Beanie Babies) looking over the stable (which was usually a binder or some other precarious structure), to the animals in the stable-- every role was filled, carefully picked from my expansive choices for their star potential. Mary was always played by a Beanie Baby named Hope, I think-- she was a creamsicle-colored bear who was knelt in prayer, a sweet smile on her face. I would drape some felt over her head, and boom-- perfect Mary. Finding a Baby Jesus was harder. I think I always went with a bear from one of the Teeny Beanies sets that came out at Christmastimes (Jingle Beanies, they were called).
I was always very creative with this, improvising the props like the Little Drummer Boy's drum and the shepherds' crooks from whatever materials I had, and making a star from yellow construction paper and taping it over the scene on a bookshelf or something similar. It was one of my favorite traditions that I had for myself. My parents were not as enthusiastic about it, perpetually tripping over my idyllic stuffed animal scene in their vain attempts to walk through my room.

6) Discovering new ornaments every year.
In my family, ornaments are a big deal. My brother and I used to get an ornament (sometimes multiple ones) every year, so our tree was like a timeline of our lives-- every ornament brought back memories from that year. My ornament from the year I started school was a schoolbus. The year James turned sixteen was a blue car with a Santa hat in the front passenger seat. There are countless ornaments from favorite Disney movies of mine-- three Lion King ones, a young prideful Simba marching and a young Nala hanging onto a tree branch, and a Mufasa with baby Simba clinging to his back; a Pocahontas one with Percy and Miko sitting entranced by a tiny Flit, spiraling around them on a delicate, bouncy wire. The year I was born, James had one with a puppy hanging through a basketball hoop, the board above the hoop reading "Superstar Brother." Sometimes our parents even received ornaments (from each other or from my brother or me).
We always got to open our ornaments on Christmas Eve after Christmas Eve service at church, so it was like a teaser for the following morning. I loved it. But I also loved just looking at our tree.
Every year, I'd walk around the tree and just stare at all the ornaments. It seemed like every year, there would be one I hadn't noticed before-- some new silk ball with a date on it, or a hand-painted sphere, set high above, or a heavy train ornament that needed to have a branch under it to support its weight. Each ornament had a story to tell, and I wanted to hear them all.

Now it seems like every story has been told, and there is no mystery in Christmases past anymore. I feel like I'm struggling so desperately to cling to that feeling of Christmas magic-- that anticipation, opening a new door on an Advent Calendar every day of December and eating the bit of chocolate inside, making paper chains that hang from the door, playing with new toys as a fire crackles in the fireplace, coming home from my last day of school carrying my Secret Santa gift and wearing my bright colored gloves and sniffling from the cold only to open the door and hear Christmas music drifting out from within-- but it's something that feels gone for good. I can't ever get it back.

But then I see all the cookies Mom has made, and taste them, the bright colored sprinkles melting in my mouth. I set another of my poorly-wrapped gifts to Mom and Dad and James under the tree. I drink a mug of hot chocolate, letting the warm steam dampen my face and the mug heat my hands. I sit listening to Christmas carols on our old CDs and remember how I used to listen to them years ago. I ask Mom if we can please play the Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack, or watch Annabelle's Wish, since I've hooked up the VCR again, bouncing with that same childish enthusiasm I've always had this time of year.

And I think, maybe the magic isn't gone after all-- I just have to look a little harder.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Going to Die. Only Not Really.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Okay so. I'm writing this here because I am really desperate for a place to rant, and I haven't posted here in a while. I wish I could be posting something lighthearted and fun after such a long absence, but no. Life is just mean like that.

I've always been really good at Psychology. I really like it. Even in college, when I forgot about a test and didn't study for it and was half-asleep when I came to class, I got an 89 without much effort. So naturally my grade in that class is rather high.

So today I found out that if I don't submit seven research critiques, ALL OF MY HARD WORK GOES DOWN THE CRAPPER.

No literally. It actually says in our syllabus:
"You must collect a total of 8 credits; failure to do so will
result in a grade of "F" for the course, regardless of your
grades on the hourly exams, activities, and homework."

What the hell, professor?! You can't just null and void all of my hard work for one stupid grade that's not even counted as an actual grade!! You could at least talk about it more in class! Or, like, when I ask, "So when's the deadline for these again?", like TWO WEEKS AGO, you could say "Oh, lulz, it's next week. Good luck!" instead of "Lulz there's no deadline unless you count the end of the semester as a deadline." You lied to me! There was a deadline and you failed to mention it!

I have never even written a research critique before today. I did not know what was expected of me. I'm lucky I know someone who has written them, because otherwise I would be totally lost. I wouldn't know where to start. I thought I had those accommodations in class for a REASON: I need little reminders! You're a psychologist; don't you understand what I go through to keep my grades up?!

I admit I should have done this ahead of time. I admit I was in the wrong for not being responsible and completing these when I had plenty of time. But can you blame me? I absolutely suck at long-term deadlines, and we NEVER talked about any of these things in class! You could at least mention it once in a while! It's really not that hard! I didn't even know where to sign up for experiments, or when new ones were available! I checked my e-mail, but I never got any news about new experiment opportunities whenever I looked! It's like they only came when I wasn't looking! I have never used so many exclamation points before!

And another thing, that list of online journals that you say are available online? Yeah, I can't access ANY of them!! You say to use the school library's website to access them. Guess what?! I CAN'T ACCESS THE DATABASE FROM HOME. And whose craptastic idea was it to have the deadline be the day after Thanksgiving anyway?! What kind of sick, cruel freak do you have to be to do this to me?! I have never failed a course before in my life, and now you just spring this crap on me?! Do you get some sort of sick pleasure out of screwing with my happiness?! "Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving, you stupid little snots! Rot in eternal misery and scramble to finish your stupid critiques that I probably won't read anyway!" I was planning to see some friends I haven't seen in MONTHS tomorrow, and instead I'm going to be at the library trying to find scientific journals on your stupid list because nothing's available to me at home!

Oh, you know what, actually, I COULD access those online articles. IF I PAID $34 PER ARTICLE. I don't even want to figure out how much that would be for seven of them! Do you know how much we're getting for Christmas this year?! Not a lot! My brother and I are getting ONE GIFT EACH for Christmas this year, and this godforsaken school has sucked up every cent we have (and many we don't)! Now you want me to dole out even MORE money we don't have so I can write ONE stupid paper per exorbitantly-priced article?! How do I even know I'll be interested?! They all have ridiculous titles like "Major Depressive Disorder With Subthreshold Bipolarity in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." I didn't even know some of those words were WORDS, and I'm pretty good at like memorizing the dictionary!! Comorbidity has got to be the most unattractive word I've ever seen! I don't think I want to write about it! And if I pay $34 for a cluster of words and they turn out to be about something stupid, I will just lay down and cry.

Also, what ever happened to being on BREAK?! Friday is part of the break too! The college is CLOSED. Why is there a due date in the middle of break?! It's unfair and stupid. And at least if there IS a due date during break, do you think you could be a little more accessible to desperate students who are just trying so hard not to fail and are sending you frenzied e-mails asking for help?! I don't care if it's Thanksgiving; if I don't get to have a break, then neither should you.

Well, I hope you're happy. You will be singly responsible for ruining my academic record. You already are singularly responsible for completely ruining my day, my holiday, and my emotional state. Congratulations. If there is one thing I'm thankful for today, it's that at least I can cry my eyes out in the comfort of my own home.

Happy flipping Thanksgiving indeed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Goals and Favorites from My Childhood

The Runaway Bunny: One of the coolest kid books ever.
I'm going to take a little time to talk about my early childhood today. I could go on forever about it, but I'll focus on my goals and interests when I was very young. Sometime I'll probably write more about my early childhood, because everyone has awesomely bad or hilarious stories about their childhood and I don't really care about telling you them as long as they don't involve toilet training or bathtimes. Those are subjects that only an oblivious mother would tell stories about. I'd like to make you laugh without losing my dignity, thanks.

Anyway, I like to think I had a very happy childhood. Sure, at the time it didn't seem like I was any happier than any other kid, but that's because I was ignorant. Lots of kids go through a lot of crap when they're under 5, and I didn't. But talking about the trauma I didn't endure was not my intention for this post, and I digress.

I was a very eccentric child. I set many high goals for myself. I wanted to be an author since I was able to hold a pencil (or crayon, as it might have been sometimes). I would make my own home-made books with construction paper, a hole punch, and string (for binding). I also invented my own spelling system, because the real one wasn't good enough for me when I was three. I also illustrated my own "books." I was told I was a very talented artist by everyone, which really pisses me off now because no one says, "You drew five fingers on each hand!! That's excellent!" to me anymore.

Of course, "author" was not the only thing I wanted to be as a child. Let's look through some of my other childhood dreams.

1) Be a veterinarian.

I've always liked animals a whole lot. So naturally, when you're a kid, veterinarian is the only job involving animals that you really hear about, so I wanted to be one. I had a Barbie veterinarian set, and this cool Dalmatian vet kit with a pet carrier and a fake can of vitamin supplements and everything. It was freaking awesome.
Later, I found out that veterinarians had to deal with things like guts and poop and other unpleasant things. So that dream went poof.
Ohmygawd, I actually found a picture of this thing online.
2) Be a firefighter.
I really liked the idea of being a firefighter when I was little. I had one of the red hats and everything. I think I was a firefighter for Halloween once, too. I also really liked that dalmatians hung around firefighters (in fact, that was probably the primary reason I wanted to be a firefighter). I really liked dalmatians. Of course, this was a rather shallow dream, so I didn't really ever give it serious thought.

And of course one of my biggest dreams was...wait for iiiiit...

3) Be a dog.
I seriously loved dogs when I was little. Dogs were the shit. I loved them so much I wanted to be one. Pretty much everything I owned or wanted was dog-related. I would dress up in this dalmatian outfit I had, walk around on all fours (which was more difficult when going down the stairs than up them), drink from bowls, and refuse to communicate except through barks. This was when I was like 4 or 5. Of course, I'd also pretend to be a cat, horse, dinosaur, or dragon, but 'dog' was the old standby.

I also was a dog for at least two Halloweens. I think my mom made a poodle costume once. Somewhere in a box in our house is a photo of me in my dalmatian costume with our new (at the time) puppy, Duffy (and if I knew where that photo was, I would show you, but I have no idea where it might be). When my friends and I played house as a preschooler at daycare, I'd always volunteer to be the family dog. I was good at it, too. I'd pant and wag my imaginary tail and thump my foot on the ground when someone scratched behind my ears and jump all over whoever came into the "house" and all that. I didn't lick anyone though, because that's just gross.

Dogs were the reason I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I wrote books as a young child, they were nearly always about dogs, especially our dog Duffy. I made up a comic strip when I was a little older about a dog named Jellybean. I wanted to be a dog breeder when I was a little older because I wanted to have lots and lots of dogs.

So yeah. I idolized dogs as a child. And you wonder why I'm so messed-up...

Anyway, childhood was awesome. In preschool, life was so great that all you had to do to earn endless praise was use the toilet. Or tie your shoes. But I sucked at tying shoes. I still can only tie them bunny-ears style. Also, I had a really tough time with learning my left from right. I'm told that's a sign of retardation. But then they told me I was gifted in school, although I expressed it by being a little "cheeky" to my preschool instructors, so whatever. I was also apparently "musically inclined" because whenever they put on music I'd dance around like a freaking retarded trained monkey with one of those organ grinder street performers. Only not as graceful.

Yeah, like that.
I used to really love being read to as a young child. We had this book about this guy and it's his birthday, so he goes around knocking on everyone's doors like, "It's my birthday! Why the heck doesn't anyone care?!" and then at the end he finds out everyone was waiting to throw him a surprise party and he gets all this awesome shit. I wanted to be that kid when I was little. I wanted to go around knocking on people's doors and be like, "Where is everyone?" and then have a huge surprise party and be like, "HOLY SHIT! This strange little robot thing is just what I wanted! Thanks, Jimmy (or whoever you are)!" That kid had it great. I wish I could remember what this book was called, because we probably don't have it anyone.

There was also this story about a calf who couldn't moo. I don't remember it too well now, but I think he got into some trouble and learned how to moo for help. It sounds dumb as crap now, but that book was awesome.

There was this one called How Fletcher was Hatched, I think, about this dog who got jealous that his little girl mistress became all enamored with a baby chick. So he gets his friends to make a giant egg for him. The little girl gets really worried about her missing dog but at the end, he bursts out of the egg and she's so happy to see him and they get covered in mud but it's really sweet.

I freaking loved this book, and I still do.
Oh, I also freaking loved the Runaway Bunny. That book was awesome. I wanted it read to me all the time, and it was one of my all-time favorites.

I remember I once rented this book from the library called Harry the Dirty dog. He's white with black spots, and he doesn't like baths, so he rolls in some mud and becomes black with white spots, fooling his family into thinking he's a different dog. I think I had to do a school report on this book or something. But at least I chose it.

This book was pretty cute.
If I really thought about it, I could think of a bunch of my other favorites. I didn't really have many favorites that you'd call "traditional." Like, I didn't really know about Goodnight Moon or any of that. I did really like the Velveteen Rabbit and in preschool we read Corduroy. And I guess I liked Where the Wild Things Are. In kindergarten we read those books like "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" or whatever.

Wow, I'm talking too much about my favorite childhood books. Maybe sometime I'll make a whole post about them and tell why I think they are awesome, because I am sure we have most of them laying around somewhere. In fact, count on it, because I really like looking back on things from my childhood.

Anyway, that's enough for now.

Bottom line: Childhood was awesome.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maybe a Hiatus?

Hey nonexistent readers! I'm just writing to say that I might be scarce around here for a while. I have a few adventures that I'd like to write about, but I'm finding it hard to stop my habit of putting it off. I've got to write about...
-More adventures in learning to drive
-A hike and a sail on the Sultana along with the terrible injury to my leg that my dog's run inflicted on me
-My birthday celebration
-The most expensive thing I have ever purchased for myself
-My upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon
-Other random things (probably mostly that)

Since I am posting, I should try to come up with something to post about. Often I think to myself when something is happening, "Oh, I've got to write about that." And then I put it off for so long that I forget what I wanted to write about. Then I think, "Well, I'll just have to wait until something else interesting happens." And the horrible cycle of procrastination goes on and on. And then, when something comes up that is really cool, like the things I mentioned above, I know that the post I write will probably end up being so long and tedious that I just can't bring myself to even attempt to write it. Or I find myself just making a mental list of things I could complain about, because apparently I find complaining about things funny. But then I never end up doing that (writing about it, that is; I still complain about stuff).

So then I spend all my time obsessing over the newest...obsession (the latest is Hey Arnold!, and I have a feeling this obsession will last quite a while. I even joined a collaborative fancomic project forum where we essentially make new episodes in comic form, because Hey Arnold! ended before its time. I could go into a rant about the Jungle Movie, but I digress). I draw fanart, I read fanfiction, I find critical analyses (yes, analyses. It's the plural form of analysis, SpellCheck. Look it up), and I obsess, obsess, obsess. Occasionally I even dream of the characters, or wake up in the middle of the night from one of those hazy states where you are not quite sure if you were really sleeping or not, and suddenly sit bolt upright, saying, "I must write this down and it will be an amazing fanfiction!" And then you look at it at ten o'clock that morning and are like, "'Find puppy together'? What does that even mean?!" You think I'm joking about that example, don't you. I'm not.

Anyway, yeah. This has just become another place for me to rant about my new favorite show in the history of forever, and I apologize for that. I promise I will not abandon this blog like I did years ago. I really want to keep up with it, as it will hopefully help me grow as a writer and become better at turning my experiences into witty written tales (because the idea of that just thrills me). So I may not be around for almost a month...but I promise I have not forgotten about this blog. So if you are reading this, please don't give up on me. I will be back. I might even be back tomorrow. My whims are a little unpredictable. But until then, wish me luck on this confusing thing I call my life.

Here's a photo of the plushies that usually reside on my bed, because pictures of plushies make everything better.
The Perry the Platypus plushie is new. :)Well, until next time, farewell, faithful imaginary readers, and thank you for reading!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Beth's Top 10 List of 90's Cartoons

Animaniacs: The greatest cartoon ever.Last night I stayed up until almost 4 o'clock watching cartoons with my brother from our childhood. It really makes me wish that we had that kind of television again. In their honor, I am listing some of my favorite or most nostalgic cartoons that I watched when I was a kid. Some of them I may not have really appreciated until I was older, or maybe some that I like now won't be on the list because I didn't watch them as a kid, or maybe some I watched as a kid won't be on the list because I don't like them now, or they might not even be in order counting down to my most favorite-- anyway, here are a few of my favorites.

10. Dexter's Laboratory
No Dee-dees allowed!I used to really like this show as a kid, but I think it declined in its later years (it sounds like I'm talking about a pet or something). Now the most memorable parts of the show to me were the Monkey vs. Duck (if that's even what they were called) segments, Mandark's laugh, and the episode where Dexter plays a French language CD while he sleeps, and it skips, so he wakes up being able to say nothing but "Omelette du fromage." I also remember enjoying the musical episode. All in all, it was good for a laugh.

9. Doug
It still amuses me that both his dog and his love interest are named after food.This show was pretty cool. I sort of liked it as a kid, but now I look back on it with a lot of nostalgia, because I remember going to see the movie on one of my birthdays when I was little. This show's theme song is the kind that sticks in your head for days and makes you remember it forever. I remember everyone's names from the show, but that's about all I remember. Also, both his dog Porkchop and his best friend Skeeter were unnatural colors, and his love interest was named after a food and a condiment. How did they go about naming things in this show anyway?!

8. Recess
I just love the art style.Now, this one is difficult because we didn't have Disney Channel when it was on for the most part, but I used to watch reruns on ABC kids in the morning, and I loved it. I probably couldn't tell you any of the kids' names now (actually, no "probably" about it--I don't remember any of their names), but I remember really liking the show and enjoying the movie a lot when I rented it one time. I remember it being witty and snappy, with great dialogue and storylines, and I enjoyed the art style.

7. Pinky and the Brain
NARF!I didn't really watch this show that much-- I preferred Animaniacs. But I do remember one year, there was a holiday weekend, and I sat backwards in our recliner chair with my chin on the back and watched a marathon of this show. Now that I'm older, I appreciate the humor, pop culture references, and general zaniness of the show a whole lot more. My personal favorite part of the show is Pinky's responses to the AYPWIP (Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?) question. Some of my favorite responses:
"I think so, Brain, but we're already naked."
"Well I think so, Brain, but if they called them sad meals, kids wouldn't buy them!"
"I think so, but were will we find an open tattoo parlor at this time of night?"
"Uh, I think so, Brain, but balancing a family and a career... ooh, it's all too much for me."
"Wuh, I think so, Brain, but isn't Regis Philbin already married?"
"I think so, Brain, but burlap chafes me so."
"I think so, Brain, but me and Pippi Longstocking-- I mean, what would the children look like?"
"Well, I think so, Brain, but I can't memorize a whole opera in Yiddish."
"Well, I think so, Brain, but pantyhose are so uncomfortable in the summertime."
"I think so, Brain, but if you replace the "P" with an "O", my name would be Oinky, wouldn't it?"
"Well, I think so, Brain, but if Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?"
"I think so, Brain, but how will we get the Spice Girls into the paella?"
"Umm, I think so, Brain, but three men in a tub? Ooh, that's unsanitary!"
"Yes, but why does the chicken cross the road, huh, if not for love? (sigh!) I do not know."
"Wuh, I think so, Brain, but I prefer Space Jelly."
"I think so, Brain, but Tuesday Weld isn't a complete sentence."
"I think so, Brain, but why would anyone want to see Snow White and the Seven Samurai?"
"I think so, Brain, but then my name would be Thumby."
"Um, I think so, Brainie, but why would anyone want to Pierce Brosnan?"
"I think so, Brain, but wouldn't his movies be more suitable for children if he was named Jean-Claude van Darn?"
That was longer than I intended it to be, but oh well.

6. Tiny Toon Adventures
They're tiny! They're toony! They're all a little loony!I really liked all the Steven Spielburg cartoons when I was little, even though the humor was a bit too mature for me to really understand. I loved this show, and even though I can't tell you much about it now except the characters' names and what episode plots I remember (I remember one episode featured the characters singing oldies songs, which I enjoyed because I grew up listening to almost nothing but oldies). I think there was a Christmas special that I remember enjoying as well.

5. The Powerpuff Girls
And so, the day is saved-- Thanks to...The Powerpuff Girls!This one is really nostalgic. I was really into it for a time when I was little. Now I realize how violent and kind of gross it was, much to my amusement. Did you know the Powerpuff Girls started as doodled characters called the Whoopass Girls? Fun fact. Also, I really liked the episodes with the Rowdyruff Boys, and recently there was a marathon on and I was overjoyed to discover my beloved Rob Paulson (see #2 of this list) voiced two of the Rowdyruff Boys. As a kid I remember being really annoyed that they kept repeating the episode where Buttercup is mean to the kid who eats glue, and then the kid (Elmer, his name was... haha!) turns into a glue monster and rampages until Buttercup apologizes and then suddenly everything is okay again. But as I was watching the marathon recently, I was surprised that I didn't see that episode.

4. Rugrats
A baby's gotta do... what a baby's gotta do!I really loved this show when I was little. When I think of my childhood, Rugrats is one of the things that comes to mind. Rugrats was BIG-- everybody loved it, and everybody was so excited when the movie came out. My friends in elementary school would sing that song that Angelica and Suzie sing in the movie in the mornings before school, and I would get annoyed because I still hadn't seen the movie. I just know that if I saw the show now, I would remember just about every episode, but right now I can't think of many plots. I do remember an episode where they think a "Champion-Chip" is a giant cookie, and an episode where they go to a huge Wal-Mart-like store and let all the animals out, and another one where they go see Reptar on Ice-- you know, actually, I remember quite a few, and I remember them fondly.

3. Spongebob Squarepants
Remember-- licking doorknobs is illegal on other planets!Now, before you all groan, let me just say that when Spongebob first premiered, it was awesome. The first one I ever saw was the one with the Bubble Stand and the Ripped Pants, and to this day it is my favorite episode ever. I still know all the lyrics, and I really want to type them here just to prove it, but I'm sure you remember them as well, because everybody knew them. This show was amazing, and I loved it a whole, whole lot. I used to get mad if I wasn't home by 5 o'clock on weekdays to watch it, even though I'd seen all the episodes a billion times. The humor was witty and smart sometimes, and just plain stupid or out-there at others, and it was always unpredictable and engaging. I really enjoyed it. And even though I hate almost every condiment that can go on a hamburger, I found myself longing to taste a Krabby Patty.
And then the movie came along.
And then Stephen Hillenberg left, and it all went to hell. Spongebob's voice raised by like half an octave, Sandy wasn't featured as much in episodes, Mr. Krabs became more of a jerk, Patrick became dumber than the house he lives in, and that guy that always screams "My leg!" just wasn't around as much. The only character who stayed about the same (and that is a good thing) was Squidward.
There have been only one or two good Spongebob episodes since, and it really makes me sad that this stuff can be on TV, but really good shows (like my #1 on this list) got the boot just because of one unsuccessful movie.

2. Animaniacs
Good night everybody!I love this show with a burning passion. I love it so much that when I rediscovered it last summer, I had to buy the 3 seasons currently on DVD. I love it so much that I have memorized Yakko's World (the one where he names all the countries of the world), and several other un-memorize-able songs, including all of Rita's songs from the Rita and Runt segments (which are my favorites besides the Warners'). I love it so much that I attempted to get every friend and family member into it and, for the most part, succeeded, even converting my young cousin from Florida. I love it so much that I've drawn fanart, wanted desperately to write fanfiction, changed my status on deviantART to "Love love loves Yakko Warner :)" and dreamed about the characters. Its hilarious dialogue, hidden adult innuendos, cutting pop-culture references, biting wit, and zany hijinks keep me enthralled and rolling with laughter. The brilliant voice-acting by Rob Paulson (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko), and Tress McNeill (Dot) amazes me over and over again, and I love every song Bernadette Peters (Rita) sings. I signed a pointless online petition to bring back Animaniacs even though I know it will never happen because it has been too long, and I am dying for the day to come when the fourth and final season makes its DVD debut, because it is impossible to find the episodes online because the companies who own the rights are moneygrubbing, territorial jerks. I loved the movie when I was little (I remember it was on once during the Fourth of July and I would not go to our neighbor's pool party until it was over), and I still love it and pray for its DVD release. Really, I could go on forever about how much I love this show, but you really just have to see it for yourself. I really cannot stress how amazing this show is. I own a CD of some of the songs, and I downloaded the rest. I have an extremely long file of quotes, and I saved the online list of pop culture references so I can point them out to people who I force to watch the show with me. I am just ranting now. I love this show. It is possibly my favorite 90's show in the world. The end.

1. Hey Arnold!

These two are just so adorable.I am putting this show in the #1 spot because I just watched some episodes last night and it is fresh in my mind now. I loved it when I was little after a long time of disliking it (I didn't think the art was pretty enough as a very young child--I'm very picky about my animation. It's the reason I hated Rocko's Modern Life). But once I discovered that I liked it, I would look forward to watching it every day after school. I'd sit on the school bus thinking, "I hope I get home in time to watch Hey Arnold." I never actually saw the movie, but I'm going to fix that soon. I think it was the best and greatest show for kids, because it dealed with issues that no other kid's show did-- poverty, alchoholism (only hinted at, but nevertheless), family problems, homelessness, crime, gambling, religion, and just poor living conditions in general. It had a jazzy, hip-hop vibe to it unique from anything else, and the setting was much more grungy and "street" (a trait shared with another of my childhood favorites, a Disney movie called Oliver and Company). It delivered good messages to kids, with the main character always striving for ideals and attempting to help everyone to his best efforts. The brilliance of the show can be seen in the very first episodes of the show--go on, find them now. The memories will flood back to you the moment the title theme starts. And now I realize how good for kids this show was--it exposed them to a lot of different stuff, but always gave a positive and helpful message, encouraging kids to do the right thing. Despite all its moral and educational values, they take a back seat to the awesome art and sidesplitting humor. It's hilarious in the way that makes you laugh so hard you cry, but you're not quite sure why it's funny. For some reason, hearing Stinky say "This turtle reallah biiiites!" just made me crack up over and over and promote it to inside-joke status with my brother, and seeing an aquarium worker tease a penguin by saying "Want a cookie? Oh--you tossed your cookies! Hauhauhauhauh!" and eventually fall in the shark tank after sticking his hand in and saying, "Come on Jaws! Bite me!" just made me cry tears of laughter. The characters are realistic and endearing, even the ones with the worst problems (I'm talking mostly about Helga here!). Plus I didn't realize how adorable their voices were when I was closer to the same age as them. What is it about Helga's cute voice combined with her tsundere tendencies that makes her so endearing?

So in short, perhaps I watched too much television as a kid, but at least I learned a lot from the shows, and at least I can still enjoy them now, when I am old enough to truly appreciate all they have to offer.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Experiences as a Girl Scout

Hey! Nothing interesting or amusing has occurred recently, so I'm going to write about something from long ago.

When I was younger, I was in Girl Scouts. It seems like I was in it forever, but really I wasn't even in it long enough to become a Cadet. I remember being a Brownie Scout vaguely, and a Junior even better.

When I was a brownie scout, we hardly ever went camping. I do remember going camping once, though, and I don't think I enjoyed myself much. The tent was enormous, but for some reason the bunks (I think they were bunks) were squished against the sides. I think I dropped a special teddy bear that I'd gotten from a best friend off the side, and I couldn't find it until later (if I ever did get it memory of this is fuzzy). And the cool thing I got from the camp store? A travel toothbrush set. Truthfully (or is that toothfully?) it was pretty nifty: the toothbrush was in two parts and snapped together. Too bad the toothpaste came in one of those really weird ointment-tube things that seem like they're made out of metal and they get all crinkly and stuff (if you saw it, you would understand what I mean). But I definitely remember not having fun. I think I even asked if I could go home once. And it wasn't that I didn't enjoy camping: I'd gone camping with my best friend before and it was lots of fun, even if there were no toilets and we ate the same thing every day. We'd make a rope swing on the strongest-looking tree and just talk. But on this Girl Scout trip, I didn't have people to talk to, and we didn't have the free time to make rope swings. I was miserable.

As a Junior Scout, we had to wear these green vests and usually a green skirt and I had these awful long green knee-socks that were both tremendously dorky and ridiculously uncomfortable. Plus you could never wear them with anything else because nothing else is that shade of green.

We had Girl Scout meetings in this school cafeteria. Our troop leader was a sweet lady who had a few spelling problems. Every time we came to a meeting, we got to put a bead on our own personal necklace-thing. Some of the beads were shaped like animals, so naturally I attended every meeting. Sometimes I would slip a bead into my pocket and play with the tiny lion or elephant during the meeting, returning it to the bead tray when the meeting was over.

Now, I didn't really care for the meetings much, but I enjoyed my two friends that I'd made there. They thought I was hilarious and so I often acted the clown for them, sometimes getting stern looks from our leader when I was caught making funny faces at my giggling friends. We used to have this songbook of songs which I thought were the lamest ones ever. Here is a sample of how lame they were.

Me and my dinosaur
I've never had such a friend before
As big as a house, twenty times and a half
And fifty times taller than any giraffe!
Legs long as sequoia trees
Teeth big as piano keys
No two people are buddies more
Than me and my dinosaur!

Here are the lyrics I made up.

Me and my dinosaur
I've never seen such a dope before
He's dumber than nails, twenty times and a half
And when he falls down I just sit there and laugh!

And so on (also, I promise that if I actually did have a dinosaur, I would definitely not laugh when it fell down. I would give it as much love as any person can give a dinosaur). My friends thought my lyrics for the various cheesy songs were the funniest thing ever.
It didn't help that the people singing the songs on the CD were not very good singers and were such easy targets.

Of course, our troop later went to a big shindig at DC where we sang a bunch of the cheesy songs, so I tried to be good and sing the correct lyrics for that, at least.

A lot of the time, my mom would attend the meetings. So I had to be careful not to get too silly then. The parents would take turns providing food. I always felt so proud when my mom was in charge of food, because she would make brownies and give us Kool-Aid while everyone else's would bring store-bought cookies and lemonade. My mom was just cool like that.

And of course, there was the cookie-selling. Gosh, I hated that. I would sell as many as I could, because I really wanted that grand prize (a portable television?! Yes please!), but no matter what I did I just could not sell that many cookies. It also didn't help that we began selling cookies on January 1st, when normal people are either on vacation, celebrating the holiday, or on a diet after that big Christmas dinner. No one in our troop could. So I usually ended up with little pewter figurines, which were cute and nifty, but not as entertaining as a portable television or a camp chair with all kinds of pockets.

Getting patches was often a strange process. There were these books that told you what different patches there were and what you had to do to earn them, and sometimes they were really silly: I remember one patch required that you set up a stuffed animal zoo and take a parent around and tell them about the animals. Uh...okay. Check that one off, I guess. But it was cool to see the front of my garish green vest fill up with the colorful little circles. A lot of the time, however, I just wasn't motivated to earn patches on my own, and I simply got whatever patches the troop got.

As a Junior Scout, I really wanted to go camping. But I don't think we ever did. I moved to a different troop eventually. It was closer by and had a friend of mine in it, but most of the girls were older than me, and most of the meetings consisted of sitting in living room furniture (the meetings were held at the aforementioned friend's house, since the leader was her mom) while the girls typed on their cell phones (which were foreign and unknown things for me at the time). When my younger friend and I wanted to go camping, everyone else wanted to learn to knit. When my friend and I wanted to make Christmas cards for strangers, the Cadets wanted to...I don't know; knit some more. It was very frustrating. Once I invited my friend over and we made Christmas cards together anyway.

Once, we did go to Cedar Ridge. I was excited, but it turned out to be dreadful. I ran into this metal line thing, and I bruised up my thigh really badly. My friend's mom, the leader, just told me to suck it up and that I shouldn't have been running. So I kept walking, sniffling and with a throbbing, bruising thigh. My mom always thought that was pretty cruel; I mean, I was only like eleven years old, and I didn't have anyone to look out for me because I only really had one friend in that troop.

Eventually I quit. I wasn't getting anything positive out of it, and I had begun dreading even going to meetings.

So in short, I had some good times and some bad times in Girl Scouts, but I did learn some things. I learned that you should definitely not use the toothpaste from the camp store. I learned that making parody song lyrics was really freaking amusing. I learned that I absolutely cannot knit. And I learned that you should always shoot for the portable television: even if you miss, you will still land among the pewter figurines.

Also, I actually mentioned giraffes in this post, so I can put them in the labels again. HA.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memories of My Graduation Day

Okay, so I didn't update yesterday. I just had no idea what to write about. I'm still not sure what to write about, but if I let it go too long, I won't ever update again, and then all my imaginary (Except you, Six! Thanks! :D) Followers will cry.

The seniors at my high school are graduating today. It makes me remember my graduation day last year...

It was pretty late before I was finally ready. I wore my shoes that I'd worn to the prom, because I thought they were awesome. I wouldn't let my mom take pictures of me before we left because we didn't have time and I hate posing for pictures unless I know I look good, which I didn't.

I didn't realize that I'd forgotten something for my sash until I arrived at the overcrowded school, and I had to wait anxiously in the gymnasium, where I was kinda freaking out about whether I'd be ready in time. My best friend tried to calm me down, but we couldn't really hang around too much. Finally, my parents arrived again with my missing adornment, and I hastily put it on in time for those silly group photos in the gymnasium where everyone's face is so small that when you get it back, you point at some vague flesh-colored spot with your hairstyle and say, "That's me!" and your friends say, "Really?"

After the group photo we milled around some more, chatting with our friends and asking, "Is my tassel on right?"
This is of the Baccalaureate ceremony, but my expression gives you   an idea of how I felt on Graduation Day.Finally it was time to file in, and a hush fell over us all. Sure, we never shut up during practices, but this was the real deal. We walked solemnly and silently, except for a few people who wouldn't shut up no matter what we were doing. Everyone looked at the person to their front's back, relying on it to lead the way. As we walked quietly into the auditorium, I found my parents and flashed a smile. Hey, just because this was a serious ceremony doesn't mean we all had to make faces like gargoyles the whole time.

This is of the Baccalaureate ceremony again, but on Graduation Day, this is what my smile must have looked like.
I was sure I was going to trip as we climbed the tiny staircase to the stage. I found my seat, and so did everyone else. After it seemed we had sat there forever, I think the music started, and then the opening remarks were made, and we laughed feebly at every attempted joke by the speakers. Then, the names started to be called. Having an 'A' name, I was towards the front of the list, but it still seemed like forever before my name was called (I was glad I had corrected their pronunciation of my last name at all the practices: they finally said it right). I should have hammed it up as I walked across the stage, but there hadn't been that many people before me, so I didn't know my competition (ha ha). I just walked austerely across, a smile plastered on my face, taking every step deliberately so I wouldn't fall on my face or fall off the stage and break my neck and then they would wheel me across the stage and I'd get my diploma but then they'd find out that I was actually brain-damaged now so they would take it back (being up on stage can do stuff to your thought process. It didn't affect me, luckily).

I shook hands with the principal and a few other people that I was too nervous to remember, and got my diploma. Then I went back to my seat in the established route, and sat through the other 400 or so students.

I never wanted to hear Pomp and Circumstance again, but to keep myself occupied, I sang the lyrics my friend's friend made up in my head:

My reindeer fly sideways
Your reindeer fly upside-down;
My reindeer fly sideways;
Your reindeer are DEAD.

(I don't know. I really don't know.)

I also became angry at myself for not being looser while walking across stage-- some of these people walked across like they were receiving a trophy for best comedian, stopping in the middle to reach their arms up in triumph. Everyone on stage laughed lightly, glad for something to break the tension. Why couldn't that have been me? I'm funny sometimes, I thought. It was also tremendously difficult to sit still that whole time. My back hurt and I wanted to swing my legs and crack my neck, and I kept shifting uncomfortably in my seat. For a person with ADHD, graduating ceremonies are nearly unbearable.

After what seemed like an eternity, it was finally over. Some of us tossed our mortarboards, but it just wasn't the same without the slow-mo and shot of all the hats in the air, and anyway then we then had to retrieve them from the floor.

We then exited the auditorium to find our family members. I wanted to say good-bye to my best friend, but she had somehow (wisely) disappeared before the impossible rush of people really got going. It was now pouring rain outside, and the lobby was so full that you couldn't even see in front of you. When we finally made it out the door, we got to our car as quickly as we could (which wasn't very quickly). Then we had to wait around for an opportunity to pull out. There was a guy parked in way that was very inconvenient. I don't remember how he was parked, but I remember that my brother was so mad that he wanted to write a note and put it on their windshield. I think he actually did it, too.

Finally we were on our way home, and I felt exhausted even though the day was only half-over.

When we got home, Mom finally got her way and got to take pictures of me in my graduation gown.
I still had braces at the time. I had braces for like 8 years, no  exaggeration.
Even though it was a strenuous ordeal, I look back on my graduation with fond memories, as I'm sure nearly everyone who has graduated does.

Look at that dork, smiling away. At least her shoes are nice.
P.S.- Also, HA. I had a legitimate reason to put "reindeer" in the labels for this post!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Infomercials Make Me Wish I Was Rich

I sat for hours searching through channels for commercials to do research for this post. That's how much I love you, nonexistent readers.

Today I realized how much those stupid product commercials make me want them.

I have a love/hate relationship with these commercials: on one hand, I really love seeing all the cool things people come up with. On the other hand, I hate how many times they're repeated, the cliches you see in all of them (I'll get to that), and how much they make me want to waste money on them.

In most of these commercials, some housewife or kids are trying frustratedly to use the old product, usually unsuccessfully, like trying to fit a cube in a circular hole. They throw the old product down and sigh dramatically, running their hands through their hair.
You cut, rip, and tear! But your brownies never turn out square!Their old brownie trays are the bane of their existence! Those old markers make every day drab and unexciting! These frustration segments are nearly always shown in black and white, while the announcer says, "Tired of ___? About had it with _____?" Then the black and white is slashed through with a big red "NO" sign like on no smoking signs, or a giant red x.
Those Bluetooth headsets are so complicated and uncomfortable!The cheerful announcer then says gleefully, "Try ____! Your life will never be the same again!" And the same poor, tired, and frustrated people are shown using the new product, which makes them instantly happy and content with their families, puts them on good terms with their children/parents, and gives them sudden popularity because hey! Who wouldn't want to be around someone with that product?

Perfect Brownie- As Seen on TV!Unfortunate photos of a young man with an acne problem are shown, with the guy giving a voice-over about how he didn't even have the confidence to talk to anyone. But now he's tried the new acne stuff and has skin as smooth as a baby angel, and he is shown with multitudes of laughing girls who look genuinely interested but really still just want the poor guy to do their homework, as evidenced by the open textbooks on the table.

This is how nearly all infomercial-format product commercials work. You will be popular, beautiful, have harmonious relationships, and just be generally awesome, all thanks to this product, and for only $39.99! But wait--they'll double it FREE! You only pay ($10 extra) shipping and handling!

Because one tripping hazard isn't enough.Despite how ridiculous these ads are, sometimes I find myself really wanting whatever they're showing, but then I remind myself that nothing could possibly work as well as it does on television.

Now, some of these products look great. For example, those space bags that store all your clothes, and then you press/vacuum the air out of them. That's really freaking useful. I would actually be able to get the laundry basket of clean clothes out of my room if I could put the clothes in my drawers without rolling everything up like I'm going on a camping trip. But I bet they rip really easily. Then that guy who dumps the contents of a waterlogged canoe on his Space Bags won't be too happy that his Microfleece sweater is now covered in muddy water. And I can't help but chuckle at their little whispered disclaimers-- "Results may vary." Why even bother then? We want to be exactly like the people on the commercial, and we're not interested in variation of results of any kind!

Space Bags! Results may vary.You can also expect that the deal on television is MUCH better than the one in a catalog, or the price of "similar products". Look at that huge, unattractive number on the screen! Then it is crossed out, and lo and behold--THIS product costs at least $10 less! Of course, I'm a little confused why a toy helicopter would cost over $100 in the first place, but if you can get it for half that, great! And in 2 easy payments (why aren't they ever difficult?), too!

I also love the names they come up with. They usually have "-Mate," "-Buddy," or "-Pal" as a suffix, or similar friendly-sounding names. For workout products, you can expect more powerful and masculine suffixes like "-Master" or some such.

You can also expect that these products, no matter how simple they are, have some kind of "patented technology," and they will explain it to you, accompanied by a diagram. Then they try to use some large words to make it sound scientific, which leads to humorous results when you understand all the words and realize how ridiculous it sounds. They will tell you that they promise that if you aren't impressed with their superior technology, you can send it back free (but you still have to pay postage and handling).

Anatomically designed? Gee, that sounds great!
There will also be testimonials, sometimes from celebrities that may seem vaguely familiar. "It really works!" they will insist.
Oh, thanks for pointing that out. I don't think I would've seen  that onion skin otherwise.And of course, you can't forget the fun, exciting, and often very outdated music.

But above all, these commercials are great for entertainment. See how many times they claim a cleaning product works instantly, and yet they cut from the before to after clips. Why do they need a time lapse again? And see how many times they show unrealistically stained or ripped surfaces for the product to fix. It's really funny when you can pick out all the sad attempts at making the products look better than they really are, and it's great to laugh when they say, "only 3 easy payments of $29.99!"

Despite myself, sometimes I really wish I could just waste money on these things just to see if my life was made more awesome. And like I said, they're great entertainment.

So I'll keep watching these product commercials, and if I laugh hard enough at them, maybe I won't want the products so much.

P.S.- Those new tampon commercials that make fun of tampon commercials are pure genius by the way. If you haven't seen them, look for them on YouTube or somewhere.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Driving and Why it Terrifies Me

Happy June!

Today when I was walking my dog, several worrisome things happened.

First, the tiniest Chihuahua I have ever seen came running out into the middle of the road, barking at us like it was ten feet taller. I started to get worried that a car would come and flatten the little thing, so I hovered around the dog's driveway until her owner showed up, reprimanded Coco for going out into the street, picked her up as easily as a paper doll, and took her inside.

Then, as I was nearing the farthest cul-de-sac, two guys in cars came tearing past me at a speed I can only describe as highway driving, causing what I believe is the only black guy in our entire development to yell, "HEY! SLOW DOWN!" If I hadn't been on the side of the road, they would have flattened me. Of course, the idiots went inside their house before the concerned neighbor could tell them to slow down, but I appreciated his annoyance.
As I went past the neighbor's house, he asked me,
"Did those guys just fly by real fast right by you?" in a concerned sort of voice.
"Yes," I told him, and he made a sound like, "Oh my gosh, not again."
"They better watch out, or they'll flatten somebody," I told him unnecessarily, just to let him know I was on his side. He nodded his agreement. Then his wife asked if Lily was a beagle, I told her my dog's mixed heritage, and I was on my way.

Later, we came by Remington the German Shorthaired Pointer's house. Remy is always very enthusiastic about other dogs and runs in circles around his house, sometimes even stopping in the front to spin around in frenzied circles or make a rut in his masters' mulch. He has one of those collars that reacts to an invisible fence, but it doesn't always work, apparently, because sometimes he runs right out of his yard and into the road to greet Lily, like today. I was worried, again, that a car would come, so I stayed there with Remy until his owner came out and retrieved him.

Now, what do all of these occurrences have in common? Driving cars.

I will be nineteen in nine days, and I still cannot drive a car. Why? Well, for one, I took driver's ed only last summer. It was excruciatingly boring and tremendously useless, and I think pretty much the only thing I remember is the No-Zones Song (look it up on YouTube). Man, the kids in that video are such bad actors that it's hilarious.

This isn't to say that I've had NO experience with driving cars. I almost drove one last summer. Once.

My mom and I were coming back from somewhere, and she suddenly pulled into the itty-bitty parking lot of our local animal shelter. "Why don't you drive the rest of the way back?" she said.

I was nervous, but excited at the prospect of driving for the first time. So my mom and I switched seats in our red Ford Escape, and I prepared to make my first voyage into driving. I made sure the mirror was right. I fastened my seat-belt. My legs felt far too short for the car. I put the car in reverse. I pushed ever so slightly on the gas pedal.

And the mid-sized SUV rocketed backward like it was trying to avoid a falling piano.

"Brake! Brake!" my mom yelled frantically.

"I am! I am!!" I replied in a frenzy.

Finally, the car stopped, inches from the parked car behind me. I stared ahead, panting. "I don't think I can drive home," I told my mom.

"That's okay," she said, breathing a little hard herself.

On the way home, my mom told me how sorry she was. She said she shouldn't have let my first time be with an SUV that drives like a truck. I also pointed out that I'd never even driven forward, much less backward. She felt terrible, but so did I. I was pretty much traumatized.

And now whenever I think about maybe practicing driving, it feels like I'm going to cause an accident. I can't possibly do it right. I'll back over a Chihuahua or run over someone innocently walking their dog. I'll forget a road rule and pass someone I'm not supposed to pass, and at the wrong time. Somehow, I just know I won't be able to do any of it. It's just far too complicated.

Maybe we should start learning to drive when we're very young, and just not be able to drive legally until we're older. Kind of like how they teach you about how cigarettes are bad in elementary school, but you're not allowed to find out for yourself until later. Everybody learns to drive--so why don't we teach it in school? Why should the art of driving have so many secrets only shared with those willing to pay for driver's ed? Other places teach driving at school as part of the curriculum. Why don't we? It just doesn't make sense to me. It's stupid. We're wasting time teaching stuff that people will never use, like Pickle Ball, and not teaching stuff that everybody should know.

Anyway, someday I hope I'll be able to drive, because then I could go places without asking someone to take me, and then I'd have a lot more to write about. But for now, I'll just focus on trying not to get run over in my own neighborhood.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Birthday Wish List

So this morning, my mom handed me a pen and some paper and told me, "Write down what you want for your birthday." Of course, I am the kind of person who wants a lot of things, but needs very little. I am extremely impulsive, and arguably quite greedy. The things that I want change almost daily, and so it is quite difficult to pick things I want over a long term.

Sure, my wish list started off pretty good...
30 Rock/Glee on DVD, Target Gift Card, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Wii Points
But unfortunately, my desires are often easily changed and influenced, and I start to worry about the cost, and after a while, my list starts to look like this:
Perry the Platypus plush toy, Pokémon cards, clicky erasers, Batteries, and one of those Glade air fresheners that releases fragrance every time you walk past it
In my defense, those air fresheners ARE awesome. Right?

In short, I'm very easy to please, but nearly impossible to satisfy. It's one of my greatest weaknesses. I'm the kind of person who will make a huge deal and be all happy about getting some colored pencils, but at the end of the day I'll still think, "Well, I never did get that movie I wanted." It's not that I'm ungrateful-- it's just that I want a lot of things.

When I was little, my parents would buy me a lot of little things, and my brother always got one or two big things. That way, the joy of opening things was prolonged for me, and the surprises never seemed to end. I always thought my brother foolish-- there he was, all finished opening things on Christmas morning, and I was still opening yet another package of little plastic animals or another book. Couldn't he see how much bigger my pile of unwrapped gifts was? While I marveled at the sheer number of all the accessories that came with my Barbie's new horse stable, my brother was contently playing his new Game Boy Color game, or waiting for nightfall to use his new telescope. What good was something without lots of fun parts, or something you had to wait to use? It all seemed very plain to me that I had the better deal.

But a week after Christmas, my brother was still playing his game, and what was I doing? I was realizing that my horse stable didn't come with all the pieces advertised on the box, and that I had lost a few of the ones that had come with it. So I've come to realize that quality is always more important than quantity.

Unfortunately, I still have an aversion to getting practical things for holidays. I hate it when I get clothes for Christmas, and when my brother's girlfriend offered to take me shopping for a real bag, like a Vera Lang one, I just thought, "But I already have a bag. Why do I need another one?" I fail as a girl, obviously. But I've never been one for wanting to buy clothes. Sure, if I'm in a clothing store, I'll ooh and ahh over all the cute stuff, but I'll hardly ever dole out the cash for them. I just figure that if I make myself cute enough, I won't need cute clothes to look cute. Or something like that.

So I end up asking for stupid stuff like batteries or air fresheners. And then remembering a day later that I really wanted some fine-tipped outlining pens.

It's a good thing my family and friends know me so well: they know exactly what sorts of small delights I flip for, so I know I will always spend my holidays smiling. Some of the coolest gifts I've ever gotten were things I never would have thought to ask for: A home-made book about My First Wii, a 365-day calendar with pictures of dragons, a deck of Fairy Oracle cards... My friends get me things I didn't even know I wanted. And that is why they are awesome.

So I'm not quite sure what I want for my birthday. But I know that I'll get a bunch of awesome things anyway.

And if you want to get me an air freshener, I really like tropical scents. Just saying.