The Battle of the Lamp

 

The summer before my junior year of college my parents had a giant garage sale and a bunch of people brought over stuff for us to sell.  One of the things that didn’t end up selling was a lamp that was shaped like a calla lily.  It looked kind of like this except uglier and more plastic and only one lily:

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**I’m waiting for my old roommate to send me a picture of the real one.  We’ll use this fake picture until then.

Anyway, we didn’t know what to do with it because it didn’t work particularly well and was kind of ugly.  And then I got an idea.

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My college roommate is kind of particular about decor, so when we first moved in I let her make everything in our dorm room match and coordinate and look nice.  I’m not particular at all.  I could live my whole life without matching silverware and never be bothered.

We had had matching lamps (from Target) for the first two years of school.

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I knew it would kill her if I suddenly had a new, completely ugly lamp that didn’t match any of our other furniture.  BUT, she would be too nice to say anything about it. (Sometimes I actually do have awful taste and she has always kindly refrained from pointing it out.)

 

When we moved in, I nonchalantly put the lily lamp on my desk where my old lamp should have been.  I then spent the next two weeks gushing about how much I loved my new lamp.

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I even got several of our friends in on the joke, and had them stop by to gush about how adorable my new lamp was.

I could see my roommate starting to twitch.  But she didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.  (I actually found out later that the whole process legitimately stressed her out.  Oops.)

I finally told her it was a joke, but then I just started leaving the lamp on her side of the room.  Usually with a post it note that said “love me!”  It would inevitably end up back on my bed with a note saying something like “I want to smash this”.  Sometimes the lamp would go to visit our hallmates to bring messages (“lamp-o-grams”), but it always came back to stay with us.

Finally, I decided to let it go for a while, so she would think it was gone forever.

 

Then I wrapped it up and gave it to her as a Christmas present.  She gave it back.

 

Then I disguised it (like with a mustache and sunglasses and everything) and gave it to her for her birthday. She gave it back.

 

We kept giving it back and forth for a few years.  Then, when I moved away from where we grew up she sneakily left it in my apartment before going home.

(…”and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.  History became legend.  Legend became myth.  And for two and a half thousand years, the ring [lamp] passed out of all knowledge…”)

 

Okay.  So maybe it wasn’t two and a half thousand years.  But it was definitely a year. I kept it in my closet for a year and said nothing at all about it.

 

And then, the perfect opportunity presented itself.  My roommate got married.

 

I disguised the lamp as a really well-wrapped wedding gift.  I also bought her & her husband each a hammer, and left a note inside explaining that my gift was my permission to finally destroy the lamp.  You know, they could smash it together.  Super romantic, if you ask me.

 

Turns out she actually was too attached to the joke to smash it though.  To my knowledge the lamp is still in their basement.  I’m sure it will come back to haunt me someday.

 

***UPDATE: August 2016 – I got her sister to steal the lamp out of her basement. Then I took it with us on vacation and hid it in her bed with a note that said “Miss me?”  VICTORY IS MINE.

Banana Bread & Apple Juice

Getting food poisoning is like actually visiting hell, so I’m told.  I’ve never had food poisoning before, like real food poisoning where you spend the whole day silently praying to die.  However, this story does begin with food poisoning.

My parents, and food poisoning, actually.

 

My parents and my older brother and I were in China at the time.  Specifically, we were in the city of Guangzhou staying at a hotel that only had outdoor pools, which was a colossal disappointment for an 11-year-old in March.  We had adopted my baby sister a few days earlier, so life was pretty chaotic.

We decided to order Pizza Hut, since no one had enough energy to leave the hotel room, what with a new baby and all.  (She was 16 months old, but still).  I don’t really remember what my brother and I were doing for most of the trip, but I was 11 and he was 13 so my parents probably definitely had their hands full dealing with us and my sister.  Hence, pizza.  It’s easy, it delivers, and it’s a slam dunk if you have super picky children like us to feed.

Unfortunately, it also gives people food poisoning sometimes, which is a super bummer when you’re in a foreign country with a new baby and two clueless kids.

Both of my parents were down for the count for the whole night and all of the next day, which I’m sure was absolute hell for them.  However, I had no idea because I was a blissfully ignorant 11 year old sleeping in the next room.  To this day, I still don’t know how they managed to still take care of my sister while simultaneously wanting to lie down and die, but they did.  Parents are cool like that.

 

Anyway, what I do remember (because it directly affected my ego-centric self) is waking up in the morning to both of my parents flat on the floor of their hotel room.  My parents informed my brother and I that if we wanted breakfast, we were in charge of finding it.  Keep in mind he was 13, I was 11 and we were in a large city in China at a hotel that did not have complimentary breakfast.  We were also the most finicky kids ever at that point in our lives.  Like, “if it’s not a hamburger I’m not eating it” sort of thing.  (How we managed to eat at all during that trip I’ll never know.)

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Luckily, my parents were still being parents and said “maybe try that bakery place we went to yesterday”, which was helpful.  Actually, whenever I tell this story my mom rolls her eyes at me and tries to pretend it wasn’t terrifying.

 

Mom.  I was 11.  It was terrifying.

 

With our hearts in our throats, my brother and I made our way down the zillion floors in the hotel to get to the ground floor, took a hard right and walked half a block.  At least, I think it was half a block. It could easily have been 10 yards, who knows.  I was 11, my estimation skills were definitely awful.  At this point, we prayed that the store we were going into was the bakery-ish place that we’d gone to the day before, when all members of the family were still able to remain upright.

It was.

 

I’m pretty sure I let my brother do the talking because I literally have no idea what happened next.  All I know is we eventually walked out of the store with a loaf of banana bread and two bottles of apple juice (good job big brother, I definitely didn’t help make that happen).

Not being too eager to return to our misery-filled hotel room, we planted ourselves on the curb outside the shop.  My brother split the loaf in half, and breakfast was served.  We were pretty proud of ourselves, having proven we could rough it in the wild.  Who needs parents when you can magically manage to procure banana bread and apple juice all by yourself despite the language barrier?

And, I’m proud to say, it didn’t give us food poisoning.  And my parents did eventually recover of course.  That was also nice.  And we did make it home, though that’s a story for another time.

Bad Date

Like our good friend Indiana Jones, most of us either have or will experience at least one bad date.

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Luckily for us, they’re not usually life threatening.  Or heck, maybe John Rhys-Davies was there to keep you from committing to your bad date.  Whatever works for you.

Sorry.  I just REALLY wanted to make the Raiders reference.

 

Anyway, the good news about bad dates is that once you’ve finally managed to run away you at least have a good story to share.

This is mine.  Just be warned, it’s long.

 

When I was in college I worked as a pianist for one of the local churches.  I played for the “contemporary” worship service on Sundays and accompanied the choir.  The rest of the worship band members were volunteers, and our drummer was especially spotty in terms of attendance.  Translation: I worked there for at least six months before I even met him.

Anyway, after a few weeks of coexisting, I was playing the prelude (Clair de lune if you want to know) and he sort of looked at me strangely and said “Are you married?”

Sorry, what?

  1. Look for a wedding ring before asking that question
  2. Don’t talk to people when they’re trying to play the piano, especially Clair de lune – that piece of music is sacred
  3. We’ve never spoken before and that’s your opener?

After a few seconds of awkward silence, I cleared up the confusion by saying “What? No, I’m barely twenty-two!”  (Side note: never use your age as an excuse.  I know that now).  Mr. Smooth then responded “Oh! Huh, I definitely thought you were like thirty or something.”

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Men, let’s just all agree that if you want to a girl to like you, you shouldn’t tell her she looks like she’s thirty when she’s just told you she’s actually twenty-two.

I figured that was the end of the weirdness, but I was wrong.  A few hours later I got a text from an unknown number.  It was my new friend introducing himself, because apparently he’d gotten my number from somewhere instead of asking me for it face to face.

Men, let’s all agree that if you want a girl to like you, you should just ask her for her number instead of creepily finding it somewhere.

At this point, I really should have just crushed his soul and been done with it.  But we worked together and I didn’t want it to be weird, and I kept telling myself that maybe he was just nervous and not actually terrible at social interaction.

After a few weeks of awkward texting, where I consciously waited hours before responding, or “forgot” to text back (I know, I should have just been straightforward), he finally asked if he could take me to dinner.  Over text.

Again, I should have crushed his soul right then.  But I didn’t like confrontation. I was still (like an idiot) hoping that maybe I’d be surprised.  I also have a serious problem with saying no to free dinner. (Side note: don’t ask people on dates over text.  Look at them in their face and ask.  Or call them.)

Fast forward like a week, it was Wednesday, the big night, and I was super pissed that I had said I’d go.  Like, legitimately angry to be going on a date.  I had a life! Homework! Stuff to do!

I decided I was going to take a nap, in protest of my poor life choices.  Like “I’m not even going to try to look nice because I’m mad” type thing.

I get a call about 15-20 minutes before Mr. Smooth was supposed to pick me up.  It was him.  He was early. Super early.  So early that his call woke me up.  Again, there were like a million signs that this was all going to end poorly.  After he drove around the block long enough for me to get ready, I hop in the car to find that he has no place in mind for us to go.  Nothing, nada. Which means we drove around my neighborhood for like 15 minutes trying to find somewhere to eat.

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We finally land on Cosi (yay sandwiches?), which was fine as far as free food goes I guess.  Then he spends the meal doing two things: assuming that we would be going on a second date, and complaining about all the people that we worked with that he didn’t like.

 

Oh, and telling me how terrible and joyless life after college is.  So three things I guess.  One of my favorite lines: “On our second date we should go see Anchorman 2!”

No.  No we should not.

 

Fortunately, it was a weeknight, which meant I could pull the “hey, I really need to get some homework done” trick.  Ah, homework.  What a lifesaver.

 

As I got out of the car, I decided that the kindest thing to do would be to put him out of his misery (finally).  Yes, I KNOW I should have done it way sooner.  I explained as gently as I could that there would not be a second date, and he drove away into the darkness.

 

But that was not the end.  A few minutes later, I received a text from Mr. Smooth.  It said something close to this: “Had a great time tonight, you’re pretty hot, it’s too bad you don’t want anything ;)”

 

…Maybe he wasn’t trying to be creepy.  Maybe.

 

He texted me again three weeks later.  When I ignored him he (mercifully) gave up.

 

God was definitely looking out for me, because I worked at the church for almost a year afterwards and I never saw him again.

 

Poor Mr. Smooth.  I hope he found somebody to go with him to see Anchorman 2.

Drug Test From Hell

So, one time for school I had to go volunteer at a hospital for a semester.  Which was awesome because that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

However, since it’s a hospital and people there have lots of diseases and fun stuff going on you have to prove that:

a) you can’t get sick

b) you can’t get other people sick

c) you aren’t a psychopath or on hella drugs

(i.e. not this guy):

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**RIP Heath Ledger

 

All this background-check-safety-measure stuff means that there’s a bunch of paperwork that has to happen before the actual volunteering and making people’s lives better part can begin.

One of the things you have to do is get a drug test done, which, you know, makes total sense.  The only problem was I’d never had to take a drug test before, and, as a drug test rookie I forgot one important piece of information: drug tests are urine tests.  URINE TESTS.

And I, genius that I am, went to go get mine done on a day that I’d drunk maybe one glass of water all day. Maybe.

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So I filled out all the paperwork and paid for it and everything and then went into the restroom to get the job done.

…Nothing.

It was a terrible realization.  Like, a please-God-no-this-isn’t-happening-I-already-feel-so-strange-about-all-of-this-please-no realization.

Let me tell you, there are few things weirder than going out into a waiting room and explaining to an office worker that you can’t get yourself to pee.  (“I’m sorry ma’am, I just, you see, I can’t pee on command…”)

I decided to see if I could wait it out (because that’s not super weird), and chugged a bottle of Mountain Dew to try to speed along the process.  I may or may not have been legitimately praying for pee at this point.

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Then everyone working in the lab figured out what was happening and (strangely) got emotionally invested in my plight.  I spent the next hour and a half sitting in that waiting room, going to the restroom and trying to pee about every fifteen minutes.

Yes.  This really happened.

Every time I emerged from the bathroom one of the lab workers would call “Any luck yet?”

Finally, the lab was CLOSING, and I still hadn’t peed.

I had to come back THE NEXT DAY all because I couldn’t get myself to pee in a stupid cup.  But this wasn’t enough for the vindictive pee gods. No, of course not.

Five minutes after I pulled out of the lab parking lot, I felt it. I had to pee.

Like, I really had to pee.

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The next day I hydrated like nobody’s business the whole morning, and peed in that cup like it was my job.

Good news: I wasn’t on drugs.

 

On the Usefulness of Hand Turkeys

Everybody has gotten to a place on some test at some point where you’ve look down at the page and realized there is no hope.  Your doom is sealed, defeat is inevitable, there is no way out.

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When (not if) this occurs, there are two available options:

  1. Give up.
  2. Give up, but with style.

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I mean, if you’re going to fail, might as well make the most of it, right?

In high school (and even undergrad), I never had the guts to go through with option two.  Grad school, however, was a different story.

At the beginning of my first semester, all the new grad students had to take placement exams in music theory and in music history.  I’ve always been pretty strong in both areas, so I might’ve skimped on studying just a tad.

It was just an entrance exam, how hard could it be?

As soon as I looked at the first page, I had my answer: Pretty darn.

As I paged through the test I left more and more questions blank.  It covered the entirety of music history as we know it, and, well, I only remembered parts.  I nailed 20th century avant-garde movements, and most things that related to classical piano repertoire.  But, I was sunk on that first page (ancient Greek music theory).

I mean, come on, who honestly remembers what the heck tetrachords are and how they function in the Greek theoretical system?

Nobody, that’s who.  And definitely not me.

As the minutes ticked by, I stared glumly at my completely blank first page.  This was a terrible embarrassment for perfectionist me.  The end of the world, really.

But then, I had an idea.  I could save this.  I didn’t know the answers, but I could save this.

Instead of answering the questions, I drew a magnificent hand turkey.  My best work.

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(Obviously, this isn’t a picture of the one I actually drew, although I hope my professor kept it).  I put tears on his eyes, and drew a speech bubble that said “I know none of the answers.  Have a great day”.

Needless, to say, I failed the test – primarily because of the Greek theory section.  But (miraculously) only by a few points.

I actually was later able to convince my professor to let me skip the review classes in spite of my test score.

 

He never said so, but I’m pretty sure it was because I drew such a great hand turkey.

Morty

I spent a summer as a youth worker directly following my graduation from college.  For one of our activities we ended up needing to get our hands on a real (dead) fish, because reasons.  We needed it to be frozen, preferably, but very recognizably a fish so that it could be easily anthropomorphized.

However, neither I nor my coworkers had any idea how to actually acquire a dead fish.  Can you just buy them at the grocery store? Do you have to catch them yourself? How does this work?  Obviously, none of us were seafood fanatics.

We didn’t even know what kind of fish we wanted.  Someone vaguely suggested “bass…?” and we all sort of nodded knowingly, since apparently this was the only word that anyone knew was an actual fish species.  And that’s probably only because of this horrifying piece of merchandise:

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Despite our inadequate knowledge, one of my coworkers and I volunteered to procure our dead fish.  We decided the best place to start would be the seafood section of the closest Kroger.  But when we got to the counter and said hi to the seafood man, we realized that neither of us knew how to ask for what we wanted.  After a few seconds of awkward hedging around the subject, (which greatly confused the seafood man), my coworker gave up and blurted “We’re looking a for a fish with a face.  Do you have any of those?”

The seafood man blinked a few times and responded “You mean, like, a tilapia….?”  Not knowing what a tilapia was, but fairly certain that it would work for what we wanted, both of us nodded.

“You’ll have to go to the other Kroger, their seafood selection is bigger.  We don’t sell those here.”

“Oh.  Okay.  Thanks, have a a good day!”

As we left, we both looked at each other and repeated “Tilapia. We want to buy a whole, frozen, tilapia,” which incidentally, looks like this:

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As beautiful a face as you could ever want on a fish.

Certain that with our newfound knowledge we could purchase this fish without looking like complete idiots, we made the trek to the other Kroger in town.

Unfortunately, as we approached the seafood counter both of us blanked.  What kind of fish did we want? Who knows?  Instead, I bit the bullet, took one for the team.  It worked last time, it would work this time.

“Excuse me sir,” I said.  “We’d like to buy a fish with a face, please.”

After blinking for a few seconds, seafood man #2 said “you mean, a whole tilapia…?”

“YES.”

And that’s how we bought Morty, the amazing (frozen) dead fish.  His name is short for Rigor Mortis because, well, you know…

The Jimmy Kimmel Halloween Prank – (Why, Parents – WHY?!?)

Yes, I am writing about the Jimmy Kimmel Halloween Candy Prank, also known as That One Time A Year When Apparently It’s Ok To Lie To Your Kids Because A Talk Show Host Said To.  The second title was too long, that’s why they don’t use it on the show.   Just, you know, if you were wondering.

You see, I don’t like the Halloween Prank.  It was funny-ish the first time it happened, mostly because of that one gem on the end (you sneaky Mom!).  But really, that was it.  The rest was just screaming kids, and who really wants to watch five minutes of temper tantrums?  Nobody, that’s who.  So, as incentive to not have children, I guess the prank works.  It also works as incentive to never trust parents.

 

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But really, here is why it’s a problem:

1)  I’m sorry, but these kids are too young to take that kind of joke.  You get kids that are 12, 13 and up then yeah, they are capable of understanding the humor.  But children younger than that (children of trick-or-treat age) are not developmentally ABLE to understand the complexity of this joke.  They live in a black and white world people, concrete operations period, or didn’t you study your Piaget?  All they know is a) my parents took my things without asking, something I am not supposed to do because it’s bad  (is it any wonder they’re upset?) and then later b) my parents lied to me, another thing I am not supposed to because it’s bad.

Is it just me or are there some mixed messages happening here?  And no, saying “I was just kidding” does not make it all better.  Do your kids still have consequences when they lie to you and then say “just kidding”?  You bet they do.  The logical conclusion of this experience, if you are a child is a) my parents cannot be trusted and b) my parents do things that they say I am not allowed to do because they are bad.  News flash: neither of these is a good conclusion if you’re looking for a harmonious household.

2) Let’s examine the reactions of these kids.  Yikes.  I mean, alright, a couple of them are pretty sweet and forgiving, but GEEZ the overall stunts are um, terrifying.

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However, how are the parents supposed to address these angry outbursts?  Can you discipline a kid for having a tantrum because you lied to them?  But are you just supposed to let the words “I hate you, Mom” slide under the table?  It seems the general consensus is to videotape it and then move on.  But one wonders, what seeds of dysfunction are being sown by this “good-natured practical joke”?  And why create such a parenting paradox in the first place?

3) Why on earth do people watch these?  It’s just children screaming and calling their parents names.  No thanks, I’ll pass.  Also, I’m very concerned about a generation of parents that has no problem having a laugh at the expense of their child.  It’s one thing to involuntarily catch something cute or weird or hilarious on film, and quite another to manipulate your kid so that you can have three seconds of youtube fame.

In conclusion – please never do this to your kids.

Thanks.

Facebook Rules to Live By

There are many things about Facebook that are good.  Instant connection to friends, free communication, picture sharing, inflated senses of self-importance, the ability to stalk our friends’ lives without being obvious, the list goes on.

However, as Peter Parker learned early on in his superhero career:

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The Facebook experiences of many could be improved with the observation of a few simple rules.  They are as follows:

1) If it’s deeply personal, emotional or disturbing, don’t post it. Please. Take your problems to someone who will actually be able to help, i.e. a trusted friend, parent, spouse or….a therapist.  I’d be willing to bet that most of your 1,883 Facebook friends aren’t qualified to handle whatever it is that you’re dealing with, they’re just uncomfortable.

2) If it’s something that no one in this galaxy, (even undiscovered alien life forms) could possibly find interesting or relevant (for example: “So bored rn” ) don’t post it. No one cares that you’re bored.  It’s your problem, fix it.  No need to tell the rest of us.

3) No vague-booking, fishing for compliments, or pointless complaining.  Only post things that are thought-provoking, relevant and important personal news (ex: “I just got into law school!”), or are legitimately funny.  Nobody wants to read anything else.

3) If someone posts inane and irrelevant things, or uncomfortable personal things, they are entitled to a grace period of three posts.  If they exceed this amount you may unfollow them, guilt-free.  And they’ll never know.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve unfollowed at least 50 of my Facebook friends.)

4) Don’t EVER post that awful “Facebook is legally blah blah blah not allowed to blah blah blah my stuff blah blah blah” thing.  Just….no.  Stop.

5) No mirror selfies.  No.  Not ever.  Especially not as your profile picture.

6) Let’s say that you are uploading a bunch of photos.  You notice that in one photo, one of your friend’s heads is just barely identifiable.  Don’t tag them. There is absolutely no point.  Unless they have an extremely amusing (and perceivable) expression, they won’t care that they are in the picture, and no one else will even notice them.  You’ll just be clogging up their profile page, and then they will untag themselves and it will be awkward. Save yourself the pain.

7) Try to keep profanity out of your posts and comments.  I know it seems cool now, but don’t forget that everything on Facebook stays there.  I mean, let’s think about this. What if you suddenly become facebook friends with your Grandma Mildred, and she sees all this crap on your profile? Well, you can kiss all your Christmas gifts goodbye for one thing.  Don’t tick off your grandma, kids.

8) Listing your friends as your parents and siblings is generally funny and cute to a point.  When you suddenly have 30 brothers and sisters, 6 fathers and 3 mothers, people are going to think you’re part of a polygamist cult.  I realize that you don’t want to offend anyone by subtly communicating “I love this person, she’s basically my sister, but I don’t love YOU enough to list you as my sister”, but seriously.  No one has that many family members or close friends.

9) Listing yourself in your “favorite quotes” section is not a good plan.  inside jokes only make sense to a limited number of people, everyone else will just be confused or skeptical and people will be inclined to assume that you are full of yourself.  Quote somebody like Mother Teresa, nobody thinks she was egotistical.

10) Don’t get into Facebook arguments.  It’s not worth it.  If you have serious beef with someone else’s opinion, argue in a personal message.  Or better yet, call them or get coffee and talk it out or something.  Stay away from that awful comment spiral, it’s a slippery slope.

There are of course more things that we could say, but these are the essentials.  Adhere to these rules and I guarantee your Facebook experience will improve.  Everyone loves a conscientious social media user.

Retro Post – Dark Is Scary!

I wrote this a number of years ago, but I thought that it was fitting – what with Halloween coming up soon and all that.

Enjoy!

 

Darkness terrifies me.  In fact, I am sitting in my room writing this because I am avoiding that inevitable moment when I must turn out the light and battle the wraiths that appear in my imagination immediately afterward.  It’s all I can do not to leap from the light switch to my bed in one Herculean bound.  But, I remind myself, that would be stupid since I’ll probably miss, and there’s nothing there to be afraid of anyway.  (but there might be….) whispers my idiotic brain.  (you don’t know because you can’t see anything…)  And therein lies the problem: I CAN’T see anything, and therefore the impossible becomes strangely possible.

Logic has no place in the world of fear and the imagination.

Somehow, I am less of a pansy at college, where I have a roommate, the hall light is always on, and I turn out my lamp from my bed.  (This last part is important because it eliminates the necessity of the Herculean leap).  At school, I am generally too worn out to worry about imaginary terrors. Or perhaps my brain has worked so hard that it accidentally shut off my imagination.  I’ve also noticed that I don’t dream nearly as much at school.  Whatever it is, my school closet monsters are much less of a threat than my home closet monsters.

My home closet monsters generally take the form of a character from something i’ve either recently read or recently watched.  Unfortunately, I have a deep and undying love of fantasy and sci-fi, so the potential for horrible zombie invasions is huge.  The night i finished the Hunger Games at 3am, I spent the rest of it battling genetically engineered wolves sent specifically by the Capitol to eat my face off.  This is a true story, and i didn’t actually fall asleep until somewhere around 5:30am.  Needless to say, I chose to finish the rest of the series in the daytime.

Gollum is also one of my frequent companions, no matter when the last time I watched the movies was.  He is my personal incarnation of evil, and likes to stalk the hallways of my imagination.  and hide in my closet.  In fact, writing about him is making me scared that he’s going to materialize under my bed.  Let’s talk about something else.

It’s a bit of an odd feeling to be the only person awake in your home, knowing that the rest of your family is contentedly dreaming about puppies and rainbows while you are desperately battling the Decepticons and the Nazgul.  Usually that odd feeling results in worrying that i may need some sort of mental help.  Then again, maybe my imagination just is more awesome than everyone else’s and simply happens to like scaring the crap out of me.  Luckily, it hasn’t joined forces with my subconscious to haunt me in my dreams, because that would be truly terrifying.

However, it’s getting late, and even we late night writers have to sleep sometime, despite the imaginary perils that certainly await.  Goodnight, dear readers, and keep your eyes peeled for the Borg armies.  I’m sure they’re on their way to my place by now.

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Resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated.

What Poetry Made Me Wonder

I’ve always harbored a certain fascination for poetry.  I’m not one of those people that can sit down and just read poetry for kicks, but there’s something about the occasional poem that hits my soul a certain way.  Times when I just read a few lines and marvel about the staggering meaning or simplistic beauty they contain.

I am not an English major, I don’t analyze them, I do not read T.S. Eliot for fun, (though I did try to read Dante once on a whim.  It didn’t go well).  But every now and then Robert Frost or Oscar Wilde or Pablo Neruda and I will hang out together and enjoy some well-written words, and I will marvel at the genius and artistry hidden in the carefully spaced lines.

In light of this, when I moved into my first apartment I decided it would be a good idea to print out some of my favorites and tape them to the insides of my cupboard doors.  The thought behind this was that this way I would be reading poetry every day, because every time I opened a door there it would be, an invitation to experience beauty.

For the first few weeks it worked pretty well.  I remember that Frost’s “Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening” was in my silverware drawer, that I would read Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me” if I went to find some tupperware, and if I needed my crockpot I’d read Billy Collins’ “Litany”.  But then something happened that I should have been prepared for.

I simply stopped seeing them.  I stopped seeing the words, the paper, (which is tough, because I’d mounted them on all kinds of bright colors).  I forgot they were there.  The poems, the beauty, became everyday, mundane, something I’d grown so used to that it no longer registered as existing.  Perhaps I would have missed them if they’d been suddenly gone.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed. Life had grown too fast to take time to read poems while I was making dinner.  Life had grown too fast to read poems at all.

My point to all this is to say that I think I do the same thing with God.  His poetry, His beauty is around me every day. All the time.  He’s put things in my path, in my day, in my routine that should remind me of Him.  Things that I should see, and stop, and consider and read and love and admire.

Poems that I should savor.  Beauty to enjoy.

But life has grown too fast to notice God.  His beauty, which once stood out to me, has become normal.  Things that should still inspire and awe me have faded into the scenery of my life.  Something I glance at, but don’t really see.  They are no longer new and different, and so they are forgotten.

I am not sure what to do about this problem.  Or really, what I can do, besides pray.  Pray that God will jolt me out of myself.  I have no power to fix this failing in me.  But He does.  And so I will work to see with newer eyes, read with a more careful heart.

And perhaps to slow down a little bit, so that I can hear God speaking to me, perhaps through the words of a poem.

“If you’re a dreamer, come in.

If you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer,

If you’re a pretender, come, sit by my fire.

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in! Come in!”

– Shel Silverstein, Invitation