Uneven Stevens

peopletoavoid

Shia LaBeouf is doing another performance art piece. In this one, he’s going to sit at a desk with two other people and take phone calls from the public. There is no part of me that would like to chat with Shia LaBeouf. He’s always asking me to watch him. Last time he performed in this artistic manner, he screened all of his movies in a row and invited the public to join him. It took three days. I had no idea he was in so many films. Unless they were just showing back to back episodes of Even Stevens. I might watch that.

I’m turned off by people who feel the need to be constantly watched, always seeking attention. I recognize some people just feel better when validated, but does their validation have to involve such a show? The people who make me want to walk away without a word or flick their nose in the middle of a conversation are ones who suck up the energy in a space and expand so far they don’t leave room for anyone else.

If I’m feeling expansive, I try my best to lift up the people near me at the same time. I think there’s some sappy quote about how people mostly just care about the way you make them feel and its probably right, though I’m also turned off by insincere, sappy quotes. Regardless, a good benchmark for life is to work hard to feel awesome and make other people feel awesome too.

And if there isn’t enough space for you and all your friends to blow up like balloons, go outside together. But tie yourself to a fence first for safety. What I’m trying to say is I’m of the opinion that we should all be gigantic together.

Impromptu Fun

NewRestaurant

Our lives are filled with unexpected obstacles. Sometimes its a pothole and sometimes its panic attack in the middle of Times Square. Since I’m constantly fluctuating between believing I can take over the world and wanting to hide under a blanket on my couch, I never quite know how I’m going to respond when faced with one of these challenges. I’ve been known to both stand on a table to be better heard and sit underneath it to avoid eye contact with casual acquaintances.

My usual mental state can be summed up with this dilemma: In the event of an unexpected flashmob, will I break out my own dance moves or will I hide in fear?

I’m trying to find an equilibrium between my vastly different gut reactions, but I’m not there yet. I think a good first step is choreographing a dance routine that will swiftly but stylishly remove me from sashaying crowds. Because you know what Benjamin Franklin said about spontaneity—if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Denying the Force

KickAssBellybutton

I watched the three original Star Wars movies last weekend. I understand why a lot of young boys fell in love with the films and made it a classic. I’m going to see the newest episode this week and I’m hoping I’ll see women do things other than get chained to walls or fat men. A girl can dream.

I saw the movies the first and (before now) only time when I was about 11. We were taking a family vacation to Florida in a van lovingly dubbed our “living room on wheels.” My dad had rigged up a mini-tv so my sister and I had something to do besides poke each other and yelp during the 18 hour drive. He’d borrowed the vhs tapes from a coworker and told us it was time we watched some classics. I think he just didn’t want to listen to Matilda for the 87th time.

I remember very little from that first viewing. I know we were interested in the plot and I liked when Princess Leia killed the giant blob who was keeping her as a sex slave. My strongest memory of this movie is the part when we had paused it and were taking in the scenery—driving through the farms of Ohio or Kentucky. My sister was drinking a pop, a luxury only allowed on vacation. As we passed a particularly pungent farm, she blurted out, “My coke tastes like cow poop.” We cracked up like no one had ever said anything more hilarious—a combination of the stir craziness that had built and our lack of scientific knowledge about the relationship between smell and taste. Go public schools.

Since the franchise is so male-centric, I’m not at all bothered that my strongest memory of watching it is a lame joke made by an 8 year old girl. I think we just couldn’t identify with any of the characters. Even though Leia was tough and interesting, any hope of seeing myself in her was thwarted after she was over-sexualized for the audience. I hope, for the sake of adolescent girls now, there’s a female Jedi in this new version and that she’s a badass.

Allergic Reaction

RabbitWheeze

I saw a pharmaceutical commercial last night that ended with the warning, “Do not take this drug if you have a known allergy to it.”

Other important warnings that I now think might be necessary: Do not operate this vehicle if you never learned how to drive. Do not eat these peanut butter cookies if you have a nut allergy. Do not drink this milkshake if you are lactose intolerant. Avoid adopting a kitten if cat dander makes you sick.

I also wonder how extensive the testing was before the drug company came to that conclusion. How many people with the allergy did they force to take the drug before they were certain it was a bad idea? The compensation to be a subject in that experiment must have been outstanding. Clearly not enough for a sane, reasonable adult like myself, but maybe for a college student whose prefrontal cortex isn’t yet fully developed.

Presto Pesto

CakePan

In my home, we have a lot of in depth conversations about issues other people might consider frivolous. Those people are wrong. An important topic yesterday: templates. As in, temp-plates. Obviously, when discussing well-used formats, one’s attention turns to disappearing dishware.

Let’s say you’ve finished cooking dinner and are ready to eat at the dining room table. You just got a new set of dishes and plan to put all your food on them before you shovel it into your mouth. The only catch—these temporary plates don’t have much of a shelf life (yeah, I said it). You have just 7 minutes from the moment the first bit of food hits its surface until it disappears. Think of the chaos that would ensue! Piles of spaghetti on the floor. Tables covered in mashed potatoes. Families eating handfuls of peas.

So which is better—boring, regular plates that hold piles of delicious food or mysterious, evaporating plates that add a high level of hilarity to every meal? These are the important quandaries of life.

Rungs of Joy

OtterSpace

I’m not feeling entirely free from the burdens of my messy week, but I promised myself I’d write about some happiness-inducing things and, damn it, I’m going to do it. Allons-y.

  1. When ducks look for something to eat in the water and their little duck butts stick out
  2. When you buy a bunch of stuff and it rings up to an even dollar amount
  3. Getting to the end of the day and having a fully checked off to do list (this has never happened to me, but in my imagination it is a moment marked by fireworks and doves)
  4. When you feel rockin’ in an outfit, even though you probably look the same as you did a few weeks ago after you put it on and felt like a giant gummi bear (note: this means you are always rockin’ and just sometimes can’t see it)
  5. Walking down the escalator at the Metro and getting right on a train, instead of waiting on the platform
  6. Reading a line in a book that hits you in the gut and makes you remember there are other people who have felt exactly how you’re feeling
  7. Jokes about animals and space, like this killer:

 

Why was the otter studying astrophysics?

Because he wanted to go to otter space.

 

Yeah, I made that up. What about it? I could be employed at a popsicle company or a gum wrapper manufacturer.

 

Mud Woman Chronicles

Nickelodeon

Some days feel like you’re wading through mud. No matter how many steps you take, you just keep sinking deeper and getting messier. There must have been a monsoon yesterday, because I was surrounded. By the afternoon, I was filled to the brim with mud and its weight was pulling me into the earth. I felt like maybe I should just settle in, since I was mostly sludge by 4pm. It was time to search for my fellow mud people and live among them.

I believe in respecting these moments, so I let it be. I indulged in too many cookies and watched 90s tv on my couch. Isn’t that what everyone does on an emotionally disastrous day? To those of you who challenge your golems (the folklore creatures made of mud, not the ring-obsessed riverfolk from Lord of the Rings) head on, bravo. I like to take mine down from the side. Or sneak up behind them while they aren’t looking, after I’ve had ample time to weigh my options. And by weigh my options, I mean eat snacks and run through anxiety-inducing situations over and over in my head.

It wasn’t my first muddy day and it won’t be my last. Tonight I will write a list of things that make me happy. I will get my groove back and keep my chin up and stop worrying my pretty little head over important grown-up matters. I will get to the gym and smile at people I see in my office. I’ll probably even eat something green.

 

Fear Itself

ClosetScary

Often when watching a scary movie, I think to myself, “Who built this dimly lit room full of strange knick knacks? Why does it exist in that quiet suburban high school?” The space is always filled with mops, old track trophies, and voodoo dolls made from the blonde hair of a sophomore. Sometimes its the den of a disgruntled teacher facing childhood trauma or a cheerleader possessed by a demon, but usually its just an ordinary part of the backdrop. No one intentionally arranged the horrifying closet, yet there it is—a perfect setting for disaster. And for some reason, high school kids just keep going in there to make out. Don’t they see the jars full of frog legs?

I’d like to think that if I was faced with the choice of hanging out in a creepy basement waiting to be killed or, you know, not, I would choose the later. These kids just can’t get their priorities straight.

Unlikely Friends

ElephantSheep

You know what never gets old? Videos of unlikely friends. An orangutan and a hound dog. A lion and a bear. An elephant and a sheep. Even better than a picture of an strange duo is a video of them backed by a light-hearted folk song. I don’t even care that its actually an ad trying to sell me something.

Here’s what I think we can learn from these improbable pairs:

  1. Open up your heart. You never know when you’ll come across someone who could be important in your life. I’m not one to collect friends, but I’m trying to keep a more open mind when I meet someone. For me, that means a good three to six minutes before judgment.
  2. Just because you have claws and fangs, you don’t have to use them. We all have a few daggers in our back pocket—a friend’s darkest secret or a phrase you know will hit your partner hard. In moments of frustration, it’s easy to pull those tiny talons out. But just because you know how to hurt someone, doesn’t mean you should. Unless that person is actually a zombie trying to eat your face. Then stab that dude in the head.
  3. Everyone needs a friend. Even weirdos and elephants who have to live without ever seeing another elephant.

But seriously, if you value joy and happiness, watch that video.

Always Caulk and Float

OregonTrail

Last Friday, a ferry that shuttles cars and passengers across the Potomac River broke loose from its track. It made it’s way a glorious 500 yards before it was picked up and tugged back to shore. This ferry is the last one on the Potomac that uses a cable, because this isn’t Oregon Trail, people. Locals, however, have determined that bridges are too modern and intimidating and would rather have a random stranger pull them from shore to shore with a rope.

This ferry is officially named after a confederate general but is colloquially known as White’s Ferry, which is pretty much the same thing.

The boat, as it made its escape, exclaimed, “All my friends have retired. I am a thing of the past. Let me go gentle into that good night.” It may also have muttered, “I’m embarrassed of my racist name. I can’t show my face here anymore.” Either way, the ferry owner denied the request.

After its failed attempt at liberation, taking both human and automotive hostages, the ferry got a break for the evening. But by Saturday it was back to work, since the only fix necessary was the order to “put that thing back on the cable.”