Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer time is in the air...

Ohmigosh I love Graeters! For those of you poor souls who have never enjoyed the bliss of Greaters ice cream… well, there are just no words.

This week is my church’s big local outreach thingy, and I’ve been doing something every day since Wednesday. Tonight was one of the most fun activities: a free carnival for a low income area in our neighborhood. It was a blast. Little kids are always darling, and for the second year running I’ve helped out with the temporary tattoo booth. The reactions are always priceless. One little boy was in his daddy’s arms while I gave him his dinosaur tattoo, and his dad asked “Does it hurt?” I guess the little guy was convinced he was getting a real tattoo like the ones his daddy had, so he answered, “Yeah.” Both the kid’s father and I thought this was hilarious. The water might have been cold, but with today’s temperatures that would’ve felt fairly nice. Some of the little tikes need to be held by their parents, or automatically lean away from the cold sponge (thus initiating a game of lean-and-follow-for-thirty-seconds), and some of them just stick their hand out like regular little princesses. One little girl said “No” to everything, but her mother explained that she said “No” regardless of whether or not she wanted something, and in the end she was very happy with her tattoo. The best moment, however, was when a girl in a pink shirt came up with her mom, and my coworker and I immediately began offering different girly tattoos like butterflies, flowers and hearts. No dice. Then the mother said “Honey, they just see a little girl, not a tomboy.” We offered her frogs and bugs instead and we had a hit.

Back to my first comment: after we had finished baking in the sun, my mom and I headed to Graeters for a treat that we’d been planning. Mom had some left on an old gift card and wanted to get rid of that first. Turned out that her card covered it all, so now we get to go back sometime and I get to do the treating. Ah… ice cream….

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chateau Laroche

Today was fantastic. The sun behaved and had the modesty to hide itself behind a few thin clouds for the FOTF’s (the Fellowship of the Freaks) trip to Chateau Laroche, also known as Loveland Castle. This is good for vampires like me to turn cherry-red at the slightest hint of sunshine. Speaking of vampires, I got yet another vampire comment today thanks to my ashy skin. It was kinda funny. But, yes, our day! We arrived about the time the castle opened and spent an hour or so climbing up and down narrow spiral staircases, posing by suits of armor and oogling the impressive away of weapons the castle boasts. What’s great about the castle, however, is that there’s even more out back. Once you leave the confines of stone walls and weaponry, you can explore the beautiful grounds that rise in terraces behind the main attraction. They were created with soil moved while making the castle itself. Several new spots had been added since I last went, and we branched off probably a little deeper than we were supposed to into the woods. One of our new friends got little green bramble-burs all over her clothes, and she hadn’t succeeded in removing even half of them when we parted ways. Lunch was held on the watch tower, which overlooks a charming rock garden that is guarded by a stone dragon. No joke. There’s a sign warning people to stay out of that little plot, and there are bones scattered around the dragon’s head to prove the keepers’ point. Then we had a nice little chat with one of the knights who run the establishment and called it a day. This, I must tell you, is the same knight who got into a duel with my friend Jules (who fences). If I remember correctly, Jules won. I have the first segment of this battle on video, and I stuck it on Youtube, so if you’re bored search ‘Jules vs knight’ and you should be able to find it pretty fast.

If you’ve never been to this awesome place, you should. Admittance is cheap (3 bucks), and it’s well worth the trip, especially on festival days, which I have been told are now being held every third Saturday. I would happily volunteer to go with anyone interested, but I’m afraid that will have to wait until next summer, because I’m heading off soon to a place with older castles.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Naughty, naughty me. Stuff actually happens to me and I don’t write about it.

The latest news is that this past Sunday I attended a fabulous performance of La Boheme put on by the Cincinnati Opera. Years ago, La Boheme was my first opera, so this was quite a throwback for me, and after several years of going to and enjoying operas, I found that I had a better appreciation for Boheme this time around. Attending college also gives me a whole new appreciation for the quasi-bohemian lifestyle. Anyway, my dear friend – who we shall call Shrubby – and I went early in order to stand outside in the middle of the hot afternoon in full opera garb in order to purchase student tickets at the box office as soon as they came available. We split a sandwich, ate an apricot and tried to keep cool under the overhang of Music Hall.

Once we got our tickets, of course, we bumped into another roadblock, this one coming in the form of a very grumpy, stone-faced door guy. He was getting up there in years, and I think someone chiseled that frown into his face like someone carved the smile on the Joker’s. They let us into the little glass room that’s squashed between the outer and inner doors, but no one was really happy with that situation, and we weren’t the only students or other anxious parties trapped there. Soon cell phones were being pressed to the glass so the guy could see the time, but his watch was set for another time zone I think, and he didn’t believe us. In the end it was another door guy who came over and had to let us in. I told Shrubby that the job of door guy must always go to the grumpiest applicant.

Both Shrubby and I had invited our mothers to come and see the opera with us, so we had arranged to meet them by the gift shop (apparently mothers melt in sunlight, rather like vampires – joke, Mom). This was a bad idea for two reasons: 1, I had money, and 2, they had cute buttons I could stick on my bag and add to my collection. I bought two. One says “Life is short. Opera is long.” The other is the opera version of cover art with Rodolfo and Mimi painted in a pretty little scene. I was also tempted to get a really funny little book called The Bohemian Mainfesto. They were asking twenty for it, but it’s on Amazon for around five including shipping. Go me. When I have money again I’m getting it.

The mummies came, we went up a level and watched all the people in their pretty clothes milling around below, and finally actually watched the opera. At intermission Shrubby took me down to chat with her violin teacher, who happened to playing principle something-or-other in the pit for that opera. She was very friendly, and it seems that Shrubby talks about me when I run away to college. According to the teacher “You’re famous.” Scary. Now I wonder what parts of my insane friendship with Shrubby are common knowledge.

Once the show was over (great singing, great acting, good if somewhat colorless set, unimpressive costumes) I dragged my mom down with me to the green room. Now, the green room is not actually green at all. It is just a nicely furnished little room that the main actors’ dressing rooms branch off of. This particular opera was populated with some very cute guys, so enjoyed getting their autographs in my program. The best moment by far, however, came from a brief discussion with Ailyn Perez, who had played Mimi in the opera. I told her that I’d nearly cried – which was a rare thing for me, as there was only one other opera that had gotten me close to tears before. She agreed enthusiastically about the power of ‘Boheme’, and told me that “An old lady in Italy once told me that if you ever lose touch with your soul, go back to the last two acts of ‘Boheme’.” I would add that if you want to get in touch with your inner college student, all you need to do is watch the first two acts.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm a Meany

So, I’ve had a cold for a few days, took some sleepy meds to help last night, and had to stay awake this morning with coffee (ick). The result was a very fun, very snarky, very slap-happy discussion with the coffeeroom crew – meaning those of us who go to first service at church and have nothing to do for second.

The conversation turned to books, and one friend – who is one of the few remaining Inheritance Cycle fans I know of – remarked that it had been two years since the series was added to. Personally, I thought the first book was a fun ride for younger audiences who aren’t looking for something particularly well-written, but just want a quick little fun ride. After the second book I threw in the towel. The only good things about the first book (such as a quick pace to keep the reader engaged) had been thrown by the wayside, and the author had assumed that since he’d done well with his first novel that he must philosophize (badly) with the second. Once it became obvious that the author had gotten too big for britches, I lost all respect (read ‘mercy’) I’d had for his first book, Eragon.

The plot is a carbon copy of Star Wars. It opens with an orphaned rural farm boy, living with his uncle on a farm. An old town curiosity is the mysterious old man who knows much but keeps to himself in very mysterious ways. The quaint little farm is attacked, the uncle is killed, and the boy discovers that the old mysterious man is really a Jedi – Oh, I’m sorry, I mean dragon rider. So, the old Jedi – dragon rider – takes the boy, who turns out to be a new Jedi – dragon rider – on an epic quest. The newbie learns fun and awesome things. Then there is the princess in the dungeon, and the newbie goes and saves her. There are consequences, however, and sweet old Obi-wan – sorry, Brom – bites the dust saving the newbie. Then the remaining cast members journey to the hidden rebel base, where they promptly have a showdown with the forces of the evil Empire (do I really need to say anything on that one?). Good prevails. Later on it is discovered that the sweet old (dead) Jedi – dragonrider – trained the second most powerful villain in the Empire, who, coincidentally, happens to be the newbie’s dad.

Ripping off the canon series of Star Wars wasn’t enough for the author, however, so later on he reveals that the newbie is really his old, dead teacher’s son. Half the Star Wars fans I know of were cheering for Obiwan/Amidala complications in the prequels, so the author has simply proved that he isn’t above copying the fans of major motion picture series, either.

What about the dragons and the mindreading and the true names, though? That’s easy. Everything that didn’t come from Star Wars came from one of these other well-known stories: The Lord of the Rings (ERAGON and ARYA? He’s human, she’s an elf. Sound familiar?), Wizard of Earthsea, and Dragonriders of Pern.

Oh, and the entire point of the second book was to prove that not all homeschoolers are Christian. Just saying.

Hm. I should be my snarky self more often. This is a fairly long post.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fifty Things to Do in Ten Years (Because I'm a Dork)

Alright, so I’m totally cheating, but most of this post will be taken up with my list of fifty things to do in ten years. If this blog stays going I might report when things get checked off… because I’m just boring like that. On with the randomness!

50 Things to do in the next 10 years

1. Finish college with high grades

2. Pay off college debt

3. Graduation trip with three friends to Hocking Hills

4. Cruise

5. Write five short stories a year

6. Finish Transformers fic

7. Get a short story published

8. Weigh 130 (and maintain it)

9. Fold 100 paper cranes (per year)

10. Get an apartment

11. Take Mekenzie and Melissa to Ren Fest

12. Make gypsy costume

13. Rewrite Realm Perilous

14. Finish Spiral

15. Put blue streaks in hair

16. Try Mayan hot chocolate

17. Learn Japanese

18. Teach English overseas

19. Complete departmental honors

20. Take voice lessons

21. Fold 100 paper frogs

22. Go to a steampunk outing

23. Take Maribeth to Universal for 1 week

24. Go to Canada

25. Help Mom set up children’s museum/play place

26. Go horseback riding

27. Visit Seaworld

28. Read 100 books

29. Volunteer as a KOV squire

30. Go to Disney

31. Finish The Lady of the Fishpond with Niki

32. Spend a day in a cemetery

33. Make green eggs and ham

34. Have an epic 21st birthday party

35. Get a dog

36. Go snorkeling

37. Have a night on the town with a friend

38. Try sashimi

39. Go to Serpent Mound

40. Go kayaking

41. Go to King’s Island

42. Buy new earphones

43. Go to the observatory

44. Prank the entire campus

45. Learn to drive

46. Go to the zoo

47. Go to the Festival of Lights

48. Write a blog series on various Medieval and Renaissance Festivals

49. Get a car

50. Buy a ModCloth dress for graduation

I really do need to learn to drive. The fact that I can’t yet is just ridiculous laziness. And just think of all the trouble I could get into with my own wheels!

Since finishing the list I realized that I also want to go to an anime con sometime, because even though I don’t know much about very many animes, they just look like fun. And I could go in costume. That’s always a plus. If you ever want me to go somewhere just say “You can come in costume” and I’ll probably do it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Much Randomness

I must really have no life. I went to make a list of fifty goals to try to achieve in the next ten years and found that I could only get to thirty one. Does this mean that my life is very full or very empty? Not empty. No way. Not with my niece. I’ll need lots of origami paper, though, because one goal was to fold one hundred paper cranes and then another was to fold one hundred paper cranes. I’ll also need lots of money, because travel was involved with about half of the things. When I get to fifty I’ll post the list. It should be amusing. Does anyone know a recipe for Mayan hot chocolate?

So, I’ve come to a major, life-changing decision… ok, not really, but it will have a major impact on my writing life. I’ve decided to give up fanfic, or at least to give it up for the time being. Soon I will be posting the next chapter on my current fic, and the readers will decide their fate. If they review well, I will finish the fic before throwing in the towel. If they don’t, then I will put the fic on hiatus and let it sit for a while so I can devote more time to my short stories.

Now it is time for a salute to Emily, the lovely lady who can run three miles and pass off gas as the property of the old guy next to her. I can make it all of eight minutes before I’m panting and gasping loud enough to be heard over the machine and Beauty and the Beast. It isn’t pretty. Way to go, Emily. I shall forever be in your treadmillish dust.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


The mosquitoes have officially breached the line of all decency in the war between themselves and Mindy-kind. My original plan was to spend this post sharing the comical and ultimately pointless details of my small group (comprised mostly of folks aged 50 or so) sitting around in lawn chairs while batting a pink rubber kids ball at each other, celebrating a national holiday (happy 4th, by the way). I can proudly tell you that I clocked my uncle Gene several times. But the mosquitoes!

First, they attacked in their usual swarm. Even with bug spray I ended up with about a dozen bites by the end of the evening. One even had the audacity to try for my neck. It must have had delusions of grandeur and figured that it was really a vampire. It needed to be reminded of its heritage, so I gave it a good slap.

The true violation, however, was an attack from the rear. Literally. I had just sat down in a lawn to chair to watch some very fabulous – and rather illegal, but who in Ohio cares – fireworks, when I felt a pinch upon my bottom. Then the pinch began to itch and when I went to take I shower, I verified the fact that I had been viciously violated by a sneaky little skeeter. This is an assault upon the honor of our conflict! For years I’ve been the poor soul scratching at five bites while everyone else in my party gets off itch-free. My mom insists that it’s because I’m sweet, but I have no interest in being any skeeter’s sugar. What’s worse is that I know it’ll itch even worse tomorrow, like all mosquito bites inevitably do, and that I will parade around the house itching my bomming. At least I don’t have to go anywhere for the next day or so.

Remember, though, the next time you see someone scratching their rears in public, that they might have been violated by a mosquito too.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"They breed like rabbits, you know"

Life is hilarious. My mom is a yard sale shopaholic. She can’t resist the good deal, and the trick is that she actually knows how to get GOOD stuff. A lot of the stuff she buys end up in my Christmas stocking or my pile of birthday presents. There really are a lot of good deals on useful stuff at yard sales, I swear. They aren’t completely filled with the useless old kid’s meal toys I usually contribute. Well, Mom’s latest find was a new mixer, since ours started smoking a couple months ago. Ah, those chain smoking mixers, they just ruin the flavor of whatever they’re mixing. Nothing like smoky cookie batter. It’s a nice mixer, the one she bought, but it came with some company. My sister-in-law decided that she wanted to make a cake last night, and everything was going perfectly well… until the earwigs started running out from beneath the thing. There must have been about ten of them, because every time we got one we found another. My sissy is also very scared of little bugies, so she was squawking and yelping the whole time while my dad chased the little cretins down one at a time. And of course we scooped my niece up before she got a chance to investigate these fun new friends. She thought the whole thing was hysterical.

Today the finished cake met its end at the annual family reunion for my grandma and her sisters’ families. It was yummy. The cake, I mean. It’s amazing how much more your older relatives talk with you when you’re not a teenager. The fact that I’m going to be studying abroad helped, too. My personal favorite moment, however, was sitting across from my… errrrr… second cousin?... who plays in Scrabble tournaments and tells very good stories. Apparently bunnies overran one of the campuses where she played. “They breed like rabbits, you know.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From the Lips of Babes...

So, here we are. Many days have passed, few adventures have been had and no blog posts have been added. Shame, shame.

The wonderful thing about kids is that there are always new ones, and with each new kid comes some new thought or question that is downright hilarious for us ‘big kids,’ also known by the unfortunate title of ‘grown-ups.’ Today I began a new part time babysitting job where I got the pleasure of spending some time with four funny little boys. The oldest can’t be more than five, the twins are between two and three, and the youngest is still sleeping in his crib and sucking on pacifiers. After a vigorous game of freeze tag (where there was much tagging, little freezing and several ‘its’), we found ourselves sitting in the living room with a pile of blocks and some bouncy balls. This, of course, struck the eldest as a marvelous chance to get to know his new ‘sitter. The trick is, in his world there are two kinds of people: kids like him, and grown-ups like his parents.

His first question: “Who married you?”

I explained that I wasn’t married at all and was still single and wondered privately why I wasn’t the one to do the marrying, but why some poor person had to make this a one way relationship.

His second question: “When are you getting married?”

My answer: “I have no idea. A long time from now.”

His third question: “How many kids do you have?”

Once again, I explained that I didn’t have any, and wondered if this kid shared another of my friend’s thoughts – that one day I would just split in two and there would be two Mindys instead of one. What is hilarious, is that this thought stemmed from the fact that I haven’t been interested in having a boyfriend during my college career. Maybe my college buddies know the kids I babysit. I hope not.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Phantom of the Potty

We’ve had some fantastic thunderstorms around here lately, and there is nothing better than writing during a thunderstorm… unless of course you’re writing during a thunderstorm in Tinkerbell pjs with a mug of tea or hot chocolate on hand. Unfortunately it’s not thundering right now, I am not wearing Tinkerbell pjs and I am entirely too warm after working out to drink a hot beverage of any kind. But I still got some fun thoughts and memories during the lights show.

As I rested in bed listening to the sky roaring and trying to catch a few winks I remembered all my funny little kid habits that developed to combat my fear of the things in the dark. Having an overactive imagination can really suck, and I could psych myself out about just about anything, still can, actually. Every huff of the air conditioner was the breath of some great creature lurking at the foot of my bed. The creaks of my bed were quiet warnings to beware of draping hands over the side of the mattress, because goodness knew what could grab them. Needless to say that in the middle of the night, especially a stormy one where there were even more strange, scary and inexplicable noises, getting to the bathroom was a very arduous and daring task. I would hold it until I went cross-eyed in concentration. Then I would imagine getting up and going a few times, almost convincing myself that it was real and then snapping awake again. Of course that phantom relief was just too terrible in the face of the growing pressure, and I had to get out of bed and face my house’s demons. But I was a smart kid. I didn’t go unarmed. No, I didn’t go in my obvious attire of girly pjs, but instead disguised myself under my white blankie, pulling it up over my head and tucking two corners under my chin with one hand. The only problem was that this left my legs exposed. So in order to prevent anything from making a grab for my tasty legs I would break into a run halfway to the bathroom. That way I kept them off balance. Would I walk? Would I run? The monsters never knew. Most of the time I ended up running ,though. I am still alive and whole today – except for the chunk in my calf that the neighborhood demon-dog ripped out – so all my effort must have paid off.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chug chug

To be honest, I didn’t really want to blog today. It’s like not wanting to get on the treadmill or eat the celery. I might not want to, but I eventually end up doing it anyway. Celery with peanut butter is so good, though…

Lately I’ve been having caffeine headaches (because I’m trying to wean myself off of the three LARGE glasses of diet Coke I had every day last semester) and I’ve probably spent more time sleeping than being awake. This is bad for a lot of reasons, one of the primary ones being that I don’t write a fifth as much as I should. That’s why I’m making myself write this. It might turn out a bit shoddy-looking, but at least I’ve moved my fingers over the keyboard and produced a half-coherent post.

I think somewhere deep in my gut I’ve given up on getting hired in a ‘real’ way this summer, so I’m focusing my efforts on putting out a flyer offering housework/tutoring and also putting together my creative writing classes again. I might do the essay class again, but we’ll see.

I’m sorry that this is a rather boring post, but right now my brain is on the ‘chugchug’ mode that sounds sorta like a dying lawnmower being rolled into the garage next to the fifty weedwhackers that have broken on my dad.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Writers and Sanitizer

We writers are very vain things. We ask for input and then get it from a very reliable source (like a teacher) and then huff and blow it off. “What do THEY know? It’s my story, right?” Sure, it’s your story, but if you want anyone else to read Your Story, or if you want Your Story to be a Good Story, then you have to listen to the wise and powerful editor, even if that editor is just your teacher. Take that back – ESPECIALLY if that editor is your teacher. Of course, you come back to it a year later, read the story, read the comments and go “Huh, yeah, guess they were right after all.” We could save so much time if we just listened in the first place. I guess everyone’s like that, though, so long as they believe they are ‘talented’. The family watched America’s Got Talent tonight and some of these people seriously need their friends and family to just be honest and say, “You’ll always be good in my eyes, honey, but for the love of all things good and holy, don’t EVER do that in public.”

I also went back today to get fingerprinted and I actually came at the right time. I felt like a cow. Once the guy behind the window saw my papers he asked for my hands, yanked them under the window and filled them with disinfectant. I’m not sure if that’s regulation or whether this guy is the next Monk. After I had properly lathered the stinky stuff all over my hands the guy opened the door and led me to a back room where he requested each hand before yanking it forward and pressing the correct fingers on the scanner. Then I got a mug shot – or something like it – taken. I am not a good picture person, people. Once I’d had a truly awful picture taken, however, the guy seemed to decide that he’d bossed me around enough, so he shoved a comment card in my hand and sent me on my way. I am sorry to say that I dressed more like a gypsy again than like Neo. Maybe next time.

I really don’t know why I bother with free weights. My niece is heavy enough, and I DARE you to resist when she comes up with her arms up and her bottom lip out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Only my family – either biological or adoptive – could be as weird as this. After the memorial for my Granny (who has plenty of her own funny stories attached to her) we have headed out to the rolling hills of Maryland. Hills may not be what Maryland is best known for, but once you get away from the ocean you get into these beautiful, rough hills. Not much has changed here since I was a baby, besides a few additions to houses or strip malls here and there. The woods are still thick and wild, the roads are still convoluted and bumpy, and the folks still pronounce ‘water’ as ‘wooter’.

My father, on top of being the class clown, was also a preacher once upon a time. While this really doesn’t have any major impact on my regular life, it does mean that he gets called upon at times to do weddings, funerals and baby dedications. This time it was a baby dedication. We would have visited Maryland regardless, I’m sure, because we got our adoptive family up here addicted to Cincinnati chili ages ago. If we didn’t visit (with chili) when we were so close, the Maryland folks would’ve ground us up and used us instead of ground beef in the next batch.

Anyway, today, the baby dedication, was further proof that insanity is contagious. I’m not sure whether the people here infected my parents, of whether my parents infected them. Maybe it was a case of two infected parties meeting and realizing the craziness they held in common. Two kinds of crazy are better than one. I don’t know, but it’s awesome.

The baby’s name is Raven, not just because it’s a pretty name, but because her parents are dedicated Raven football fans. It’s even funnier because they’ve had at least one dark-haired child before, but this one is turning out to be strawberry blond. The best part is that her middle name is Grace, which is wonderfully fitting, because the Ravens frequently need a good deal of it.

Then some guy I didn’t even know came in and started playing the accordion. Of course, the first song he played was the theme from The Godfather.

Tomorrow we begin the arduous trek home. Right now my fervent prayer is that my parents find a CD besides Veggie Tales to play for my niece.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baby Talk

Four days running! Unfortunately, I can’t promise that I’ll be able to post at all this weekend, because we’re travelling out of state for my Granny’s memorial service. I didn’t get to go to the actual funeral, so it’s important that I go this time.

On a lighter note, I love my niece. She talks with the Sims people when my sister-in-law plays on the Wii. Apparently Sims talk is just modeled after one-year-old jabbering (jabbering… nice word. Makes me think of ‘Jabberwocky’). She just stands there and holds conversations with them in baby talk. I swear, this kid is going to be super chatty when she gets big. She can be a celebrity when she gets big and host a talk show; she already has the attitude for it. All day she’ll just ignore you, then you sit down and she comes and jumps on your legs until you’re properly tenderized and wiggles in between you and the arm of the chair.

Take the celebrity thing back. She can be a karate master. This child knows how to find pressure points by pure instinct.

Well, maybe she can be a celebrity karate person, like the karate kid. She’s even the right age for a name like that. All she needs now is baby nunchucks!

Her new favorite game is running down the hall and trying to sneak into my room when her mommy isn’t looking. She actually just tried it again. So far no dice. She’s good, but the little grasshoppah has much to learn. It also helps that I’m bigger and faster. Really, though, she’s awfully quick, too. I never believed the “I just turned my back for a SECOND!” line… then I met my niece. I still don’t believe the line, actually. It only takes a fourth of a second. Give my niece a WHOLE second and the house will be leveled.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


So, my Irish adventures have begun, and I haven’t even gotten my visa yet. Today I went downtown with Mom to get fingerprinted as part of my visa application process and met with a bit more trouble than I’d been anticipating. Bumped into a couple laughs as well.

For starters, I’ve got to tell you how much people in uniform doing official functions scare me. My thought isn’t usually “They’re here to protect me” but more along the lines of “Whatever it is, I didn’t do it”. Just the sight of any federal building besides a post office makes me want to wet myself. But, anyway, Mom and I parked across the street, took the skywalk across the street and promptly realized that the only way into the building was by flashing your little pass thingy by a sensor and getting these freakily new age door thingies to grant you access to the deep, dark, secret interior of the building. So we backtracked. Jack Bauer belonged there, let me tell you. I was waiting for him to come tearing around a corner, gun drawn and yelling about a bomb in the building.

After going back the way we came and going down to the ground level AND crossing the street AND being asked by at least three different people what our business there was as we went through security, we FINALLY got in. Once we got past the starkly alarming marble entry way (which looked like something out of The Matrix) there was a very pretty and cliché mosaic of local animals and other wildlife, the sort you see at park welcome centers and whatnot. I’m not sure if it was designed to serve the nerves of children dragged there on ‘bring your child to work day’ or whether it actually has some secret room behind it that can only be accessed by pressing the raccoon’s eye in or something. Once we passed the adorable, cuddly animal display, we came into a long hallway with numbered doors and the décor of a hospital. No joke. I thought I must have had a heart attack and was walking beside my stretcher as it was wheeled along on the way to the ER. I got over that pretty fast, though.

The first laugh was when I realized that every single room was numbered, including the restrooms.

When we came to the room we were supposed to go to we found out that they had already closed. We glanced into the next room, which seemed to be either security or reception, hard to tell which in places like that, and a security man came out to give us a hand. He got his chuckles, too, because we “civilians” couldn’t read military time. We were actually about two hours late for our appointment, because apparently the use of A.M. and P.M. isn’t enough to distinguish between the hours of the day for these guys. I officially flunk reading military time.

My second laugh was that when the guy came out he was wolfing down the remainders of what appeared to be a chocolate doughnut. I’m willing to bet just about anything that there was a mug of coffee hidden somewhere back in that office.

But he was very helpful. He called the office we were supposed to go to and it turned out that while it was still closed, the man who ran it was actually there, so he came out to talk to us, too. The security man laughed it up with the fingerprinting dude (who had to show me his badge, which made me even more nervous) about silly “civilians” who couldn’t read military time. Fingerprinting dude was very nice, though, and rescheduled our appointment on the spot.

Now we get to go back and do it all over again at a later date.

Next time I’m gonna dress up like Neo.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"What? Oh, you mean the big explosion just now? That was nothing, don't worry about it! It's just our neighbor with his cannon is all!"

Happy Memorial Day! Our holiday was started early this year by our neighbor, the proud maker and keeper of a small cannon. No joke. A cannon. A monster just goes ‘bump’ in the night, but this thing goes ‘BOOM!’ all night long. What is more, last night our neighbor kept it loaded with not just the cannon equivalent of a blank, but with pretty fireworks as well. Of course, said fireworks exploded right over our house, so they were heard instead of seen, the opposite of what many retires say children should be like. I can forgive the noise pretty easily, though, because the mere fact that the man has a cannon is simply too awesome for words. He once told me that he took it down to the Ohio River and launched a tennis ball across. If noise is any indication of power, then I believe him. The first time I had a friend over during the Fourth of July I had a heck of a time explaining the window rattling explosions to my buddy. “What? Oh, you mean the big explosion just now? That was nothing, don’t worry about it! It’s just our neighbor with his cannon is all!”

My family is well suited to this neighborhood, though. This morning I woke up to a rain of plastic pellets on my window as my dad tried to chase the squirrels off the birdfeeder. When I came for breakfast I took my turn with the pellet gun, too. My aim is terrible. Luckily the squirrels have been hit enough that they run at the sound of the little gun, so I scared them off without even pinging one.

For fear that someone will start screaming about cruelty to animals, I will now inform you that our little old pellet gun could MAYBE take out a fly. Even a direct hit barely stings. I know from personal experience. I feel more guilt over the ant traps we set out in the summer.

I learned an important lesson today: sleeping in the middle of the day results in some really weird dreams. I think I already knew that, but today I actually remembered part of them, and they were really weird, even for me. There was something about sea lice, only they weren’t really sea lice, and looked a lot like little green circles with eyes and legs. I thought they were nasty. Who dreams about sea lice? And Darth Vader was in it, too. He was mourning his broken family with Luke and Leia. I haven’t watched Star Wars in over a year. Sea lice and Darth Vader. Who woulda thunk it?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Brain Storm

There’s the weird, there’s the wonderful and then there are the things that are just plain barmy. If we lived in a book, the world would make sense, because you have to sell the reality of a book. Get too weird and people stop believing. Reality, fortunately, doesn’t have to sell itself. If you stop buying reality you’re either dead or living in a padded cell with a straightjacket and the voice in your head that you like to call Larry.

Any writer knows – and dreads – the step of classical writing composition called brainstorming. This is where you let your thoughts fly wild. If you’re lucky you hang onto them long enough to nab some feathers and force them to compose coherent thoughts on paper. I have yet to meet a writer who likes this step; most, in fact, skip it. You can’t REALLY skip it, though, because reality is always brainstorming for you.

Welcome to my brain storm.

I knew a long time ago where I got most of my more noticeable oddities, such as my obsession with pranks or my love of tormenting loved ones. My dad generously donated a carbon copy of his own politically incorrect, socially unacceptable downright obnoxious sense of humor. And I love him for it. Just the other day my dad, my sister-in-law, my one-year-old niece and I were all in the car. It was a nice day, Dad was targeting the sewer lids (if you hit them at JUST the right angle they go clank) and everything seemed normal. Then I looked down and saw the rubber chicken. This was no ordinary rubber chicken, mind: its face was a mask of terror, its mouth and eyes opened in a permanent scream of utter terror. My dad bent down and gave the thing a healthy squeeze and it SCREAMED. It screamed long and hard and loud. The thing was so terrifying that it actually made my niece (who will laugh in your face when you give her a smack on the bomming) cry. Apparently he won the thing for a month at a business meeting. His new game is to roll down his windows at stoplights next to another car with its windows rolled down and squeeze the thing. Really, though, I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, this is the same man who honks at road kill because if it was dumb enough to run in front of a car once it might do it again.

So, if you are ever at a stoplight and you hear a screaming death rattle from the car next to you, roll down your window and blow a raspberry at the man driving the car, because it’s probably my dad.