Thursday, November 3, 2011

That old-time swoon incident

As I meekly chugged down Theraflu this morning (after two cups of peppermint tea) I remembered I could be feeling a lot worse. I patted myself on the back for forcing down oatmeal this morning. At least that was on crisis adverted.

You see, I used to have this bad habit of passing out. A lot.

I'm hypoglycemic, which means my blood sugar is like a fun roller coaster of despair, especially in the morning. If I don't eat an actual breakfast (as I learned in high school, Marshmallow Supremes do not count as actual breakfast). But there was a time where I didn't quite put two and two together.

Summer after my junior year of high school, I spent two months at a cool Summer College Program up north. I took college classes! I did kooky things like staying up until 4am and ordering pizza late at night! I was the master of my fate and the captain of my soul!

I also started dating the Dude and eating my weight's worth in chicken ramen then, so not all my decisions were quite so mature and adult.

But at the time, man, I was awesome.

One morning the Dude and my new BFF (we'll call her Chicago, one of the only other three out-of-state students) and I decided to get Dunkin' Donuts before class. We trudged in the sweltering 100 degree heat to the main street. I thought being in "the north" waived me from a hot, muggy and buggy summer. No such luck. By the time we got to Dunkin Donuts, after a long lecture from me about how Krispy Kreme is way better anyway (silly northerners), I was sweating and dehydrated and woozy.

And then there was a long line. So I struck my somewhat typical waiting pose and somehow inadvertently locked my knees. We now have the perfect storm of no food, no water, extreme heat and poor circulation. But of course I didn't know this. I had bigger things to worry about: should I order the CARAMEL double chocolate super espresso coffee milkshake or the MINT CHOCOLATE vanilla hazelnut super espresso coffee milkshake? I know, I know, such hard life decisions for a youth. I had finally decided on -


A wave of overwhelming nausea and dizziness suckerpunched me out of no where. I almost fell over in line. I staggered to the thankfully single-stall bathroom and immediately felt drenched in a cold sweat. I shook. My stomach twisted and tumbled and the floor spun around me. I laid down on the cool tile floor.

Amazingly, a story involving me face down in a groady donut shoppe bathroom does not involve me contracting e.coli.

The waves of nausea slightly subsided, so I decided to tentatively make my way back to the line. But that whole standing and walking and having any control over my faculties just wasn't going to happen. The dizziness and heat and sickness because unbearable. I called out to Chicago that I was really sick and something was wrong and to get help. I then slid down the wall and fell into a semi-conscious haze.

Cue two kitchen workers FREAKING OUT and running into the hallway, the now hysterically upset Chicago, and a very irritated Dude. Because having your girlfriend pass out in public is SO LAME GOSH. The kitchen workers start yelling at Chicago to get me out of there, calling me unsanitary (rude), shrieking profanities in a different language and generally causing a scene. Chicago calls the program director, hyperventilating, telling him I need to get to a hospital NOW. Dude is hiding somewhere on the other side of the shoppe, not buying weed this time but yet again pretending he didn't know me.

Meanwhile, I'm lolling in some half-awake fog. Still on the floor.

The program director arrives and tells Chicago to go on to class. This provokes complete sobs and shaking, as she can't leave her poor, scrawny (oh the days of being a runner!) defenseless DYING friend. The program director calms her down, sends her and a very compliant dude on their way, talks down the panicking donut workers, and helps me walk outside to what I expected would be just a regular car to take me to the hospital.

Instead, I saw a police cruiser.

Apparently in all the fine print I'd agreed to at the beginning of the program, I'd signed away the ability to ride in a car with anyone who was not my direct legal guardian. Damn you, terms and conditions. The only way to get around this and get me to the hospital was to get me a private police escort. Another thing about police cars - a layperson can't ride shotgun.

I was being taken to the hospital in the back of a police cruiser. Like a criminal on the way to a psych evaluation. All this happening in broad daylight on the busiest street in Delaware.

Such a good personal ambassador from the great state North Carolina.

As we (the program director and I, the policeman leaving after thanking me for not vomiting in his cruiser) waited in the urgent care lobby, the program director decided to call Lady Mum, who was on the drive up from NC to pick me up after the commencement party two days later.

From this I learned how important it is to order news correctly.

"Hello Mrs. W, I'm at Urgent Care with your daughter R. Grace right now... we picked her up when she was unconscious at a Dunkin Donuts... she can't speak to you right now... oh, but she'll be totally okay."

Lady Mum told me she almost swerved off the road at the first sentence.

They took me back and poked, prodded, and tested me for a bit while I was still floating in a stupor. I was too weird-sick-high to even watch them draw my vial of blood, which is usually my favorite part and usually freaks out the nurses. (Dr. Dad taught me well!) Fifteen minutes later, they bring me my treatment.

A cup of orange juice.

"Your blood sugar was really low. And you're anemic. Drink this and don't walk around in the heat without food." Grunt, glare. I was the medical equivalent of slut-shamed. I was a doctor's kid. I should know better. So embarrassed.

All that panic because I couldn't be bothered with an early-morning bagel. Eesh.

And proceeded to have two more increasingly dramatic fainting issues within the next two years. I don't ever learn the easy way. However, I now know I will never be tempted to take heroin. I can get the same floaty exhausted high and brink-of-death feeling if I just skip a couple meals.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gawk at the awk: Halloween Edition

My senior year of high school, the school put on some serious lecture about drinking and driving on prom night. As we all know, prom is the absolute pinnacle of your life. My group of fourteen friends put more thought and strategic planning into our prom night than most military strikes of the twenty-first century. We didn't have time to drink, with our schedule planned out in fifteen-minute increments. But apparently drinking is "a thing" for high school kids. After the lecture in the auditorium, the school wanted a set-up of a drunk driving crash out in the front lawn. They even got two busted up cars impounded and put on the property.

And then they gave the advanced theatre kids stage makeup and a bucket of blood.

You never give theatre kids buckets of blood. It's like feeding the gremlins after midnight. Chaos.

Even though we only needed three people for the car crash scene, we all got our hands on the makeup. I originally started out with just a black eye. Then I decided some brutal road rash across my cheeks would highlight my rosy complexion. A scrape on my forehead and bruise from bouncing across the pavement? Perfect. And the piece de resistance - a slashed jugular oozing blood down my sweater.

I was now, in fact TOO bloody for the car crash. As the students trickled out of the auditorium to the grim scene, the handful of us not in play lurked around the corners, laughing. I also noticed that the two cars clearly came from different accidents - the damage was all wrong and their positioning made no sense. The lack of realism made it utterly unbelievable for me. No one else noticed.

The final bell rang shortly thereafter, and it's not like we were going to WASH IT OFF before going home. We proudly trekked through the halls, dripping blood and shrieking, further solidifying the theater freak stereotype. But the only thing we cared about was BRAAAAINS.

My poor unfortunate freshman brother hid behind his bookbag when he met me in the parking lot.

"Walk faster. Can't you ever be normal?" Nope, not possible.

We drove home without incident, and I relished every stop sign to wave at horrified pedestrians. I arrived at home, thrilled to run in and scare the bejezuz out of Lady Mum. She was going to freak out. Total meltdown. I flung open the door -

"Oh R. Grace, I hope you didn't get any blood on the car. Do you want me to take pictures for you?"


Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Best Worst Breakup Incident

Back to bloggin and it feels so good.

It was time to break up with my second boyfriend.

I learned a couple things from my dumping the dude incident. Don't ask if he's horribly depressed. Don't believe anything he says. Don't cry. Don't be awkward.

Yeah, still having trouble on the last one there.

This boyfriend, whom we will call Loki for love of all things Norse of course, was a REALLY BIG DEAL. We started dating the day after senior prom. It was *~TrUe LoVe~* or something equally sophomoric. 2gether 4ever.

In high school, 4ever roughly equally 4 months. It was my fun, freewheeling summer before COLLEGE and I was all "mature" and "intellectual" and "moving on." This younger guy (which caused quite a scandal in high school. Dating DOWN? For a GIRL? I am all about breaking social norms, clearly.) had started cramping my style. He couldn't stay out as late. He didn't like the hookah bar. He didn't have a car. Oh, the horror.

I went from no standards to ridiculous unrealistic standards in, what, a year? Oh high school hormones.

So after some incident related to him being unable to attend a really important little speech I was giving, I'd decided enough was enough. I think I wrote out a pros and cons list. I know I cried a lot. This was a REALLY BIG DEAL, after all. But I was resolute. And so the execution date was set.

At Panera Bread.

Ironically, I went on my first date with the Dude at a Panera Bread. I don't go there often anymore, because it is now firmly rooted in my mind as a place of high school heartbreak and romantic despair. But they have some damn good black bean soup.


We were grabbing a bite to eat before I had a meeting for a church youth thing and he was headed out to the beach with his family for a week. We sat down at a high table. I couldn't eat. My face was all red. Moment of reckoning.

"I think we should break up." Okay, see, that was good, I didn't say anything bad. "I mean, you know, you just, things keep going wrong and plans keep falling through and you don't care enough about me and I'm going to college anyways and I mean since you know I think it's not like ummmm..." and then I dissolved into a rambling idiot. No mention of death, though, so that's a tiny victory.

He nodded and said he understood, and sat there red-faced, looking at his food. Okay. Simplest breakup ever. Phew. Nothing awkward about that.

Then Dishwasher Bro came up to us.

Dishwasher Bro went to our high school and was somehow vaguely related to our group of friends. He might have worked tech on a play once? I know he had a gross makeout sesh with one of my friends that left her covered in bite marks in the back of her car. Anyway, he thought we were friends.

"R. Grace! Loki! Ahhh man it's so cool to see you guys. Y'know, I'm really glad you guys are staying together even though R. Grace is going off to college. You're like, my favorite couple ever. You just like, work. An inspiration, yo. I love you two."

Except we had just broken up less than two minutes ago.

Not only was I the cruel girl who had just ended a *~TrUe LoVe~* relationship, I'd also let down all these people who believed in us. Thought we were going to make it. Storybook romance, a love for the ages, all crushed because I wanted to suck face with some hazy nameless college guy in the near future. I made people stop believing in love.

We stared at each other and then him, both bright red. I would have burst out laughing at the ridiculous timing, except I was too busy thinking about how my world was crushed and I was in the throes of hearthbreak and despair and I would never believe in love again. I think Loki spoke up.

"Well, actually we just broke up. Ummm. Just now."

There was an awkward pause, where any sane person would have quickly excused themselves and apologized later. Luckily for this story, and unluckily for me, Dishwasher Bro is not all entirely sane.

"Ahhh man," he said, turning to my just-now ex, "That's so rough. I'm sorry, man. You know how girls are. Terrible. Damn, man, that must be really bad. Sucks. But I mean, she's going off to college so now you've got all that single time. Look, bro, if you want to hang out some time, let me know. Girls, man. Awful."


I now sat there, open-mouthed and publicly shamed as a heart breaking whore. I mean, what about my feelings? I still felt bad. Where was the "you guys are the best couple forever" friendliness and adoration that had been poured out mere seconds before? Now I was a villain, a fiend, lumped in with every other two-timing gutter slut.

Gratefully, it was time for us to depart for our various commitments. We hustled out of the restaurant before my character could be trashed any further and had a tearful goodbye in the parking lot. That was it, then. I was through with relationships. Love was a lie. I was a heart-breaking vixen. Alone in the world.

I started seeing a cool community college boy a week later. He wore shoes that flipped out to rollerskates.

Needless to say, we got back together two weeks later... at least for the last three weeks of the summer. But that's a story for another time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back so soon

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Good things are coming. This blog is about to get a jolt of energy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not that awkward but...

Parents visited me today and Dr. Dad brought me homemade apple chips! As much as a junk food junkie as I am, apple chips are my FAVORITE snack. I have already eaten half the bag. The secret is soaking them in fruit juice before putting them in the fruit dehydrator... wait, you mean everyone's parents done own a fruit dehydrator?

Or five crock pots from three different countries?

One year Dr. Dad got a noodle press, a steel grain grinder, and wool socks for Christmas. He is like Amish-meets-hippie-meets-Sarah Palin-fan. And I love him for it.

Usually I roll my eyes at Dr. Dad's many bizarre cooking contraptions, but I can't wait to get my own dehydrator. 

Munch crunch munch.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Boy in the Band Incident: Part One - No Pants

This actually turned out to be four stories in one.
Two of them involve no pants.

In high school, I had a thing for experimental freak grunge prog rock shows.

I also had a thing for crazy musicians.

With those two sentences, you already know this is going to end badly.

(I also had a thing for boys with, in retrospect, really gross hair. I have since implemented one of my two hard-and-fast dating rules: NO BOYS WITH LONG HAIR. Always trouble.)

The last year and a half of high school I spent a considerable amount of weekends and choice weeknights at this run down warehouse-turned-venue on the outskirts of downtown. I dutifully paid my "suggested donation" and stood to the side with my arms crossed and my head nodding appreciatively to everything from technical metal to freak folk wailing and chants. This seemed like the ideal hang out for a "cool" teenager, as it was mostly pre-hipster college folks. It seemed a different country from my clean-cut, straight-As, high school existence.

I went to these shows with three main friends: one who drove, one who knew how to attract attention, and one who actually knew some of the bands and how to intrinsically "be" cool. And then there was me - both the motivator and the mom. The moderator and mitigator. Such a problem.

So hip, you guys. I am gonna score me some rockstars.
One night toward the end of junior year we decided to stay out SO LATE (until ONE am, crazy, I know) probably because Lady Mom and Dr. Dad were out of town. I felt hella cool in the polkadot dress I'd found at goodwill that my cool friend had chopped the sleeves of off. I think I wore Keds with it that evening. Top of hipster style, I assure you.

The headlining band that evening was a punk rock group from the southwest who went on to... not do much else, from the looks of their facebook page and myspace. They had a temporary stand-in lead singer who was supposed to be pretty good. The crowd was solid and energetic; the beer flowed (and I snuck it away from my friends and placed it on tables, etc. since we were underage! Eesh, so dangerous!) and the opening bands rocked. The combination of these three elements inspired one cool cat to drunk climb on the stage overhang and take his shirt off and spin it around. This sight caused the drunk college hipsta-bros next to us to remark:

"ahhh man what a wimp / he's not even stripping / that's not the way to do it / get naked or get off / rabble rabble rabble."

I laughed and that caught their attention enough to continue ragging on the poor stumbling (and not-well guarded against falling on top of us and snapping my slender high school neck) drunk who was trying to remove his pants to flail them around. Their heckling got louder, until my friend who knew how to attract attention turned and pierced them with an equally come-hither and die-bitch stare and said:

"Why don't you shut up and go show him how it's done?"

I echoed her sentiments, feeling all I-am-woman-hear-me-roar and giddy off of two cigarettes and being out past 11pm until... they did it. I cheered along, hoping for some hot abdominal muscles or, you know, a decently humorous story to awe all my wide-eyed AP-course-taking friends. Be careful what you wish for.

Something about punk rawk, man, just makes boys want to take their clothes off.

So these two even more drunk boys clamber above the stage and goad the lone drunkerd off to the side. They proceeded to rip off their shirts and jeans, windmilling them overhead to the great shouts of laughter and encouragement until... wait, what are they doing? They've put down their shirts... They're taking off their boxers... are they really going to... is that a.... ? Oh. my. god.


I shrieked and buried my face in my hands. My friend tried to pry my fingers away from my eyes, whooping along with the crowd.

And that is how I saw my first naked man.


To our other side, once the overhead nakedness subsided, another equally enthralling chap engaged us in conversation. He was the roadie for Awesome Headlining Band and bff of the temporary lead singer. Didn't care. He was intoxicated (this a running theme with poserish boys at concerts), a little repulsive, and altogether uninteresting. I mostly ignored him. And then the Awesome Headlining Band came out and I saw the lead singer.

Ba-DING Ba-DING. Two big red cartoon hearts popped up in my eye sockets. My first case of full-bodied rockstar lust.

I was IN LOVE. This boy was beautiful. And he knew how to rock. And his best friend was standing right next to me. Suddenly, I became very interested in everything the best friend had to say.

"Oh my gosh that is so interesting / and you've been touring with them how long / tell me everything about them / oh yeahhh you did mention you were friends with D / ohhh best friends? / ohhh wow cool / so what's it like tell me EVERYTHING / uh huh uh huh / ohhhh the set's over boo"

Miss Emily Post rolled over in her grave from my charming etiquette and conversational prowess.

Right on cue, Lead Singer walked over to talk to his best friend about loading amps or something equally boring. And there I was with my winning smile (probably with scary serial-killer eyes, it took me a while to learn how to tone down my enthusiasm.) wearing my totally cool thrifted dress, and being INTERESTED IN THINGS.

He said something profound (probably: Oh, hey) and I swooned. In the .5 seconds I'd known him I'd fully succumbed to Total Groupie Syndrome* it was baaad. My friends crowded around to chat, keeping the conversation the appropriate level of we're-like-totally-in-college-whatever awesome. I'd completely forgotten his gross friend and zeroed in on every beautiful (and arrogantly pretentious) word falling from his mouth. This wasn't like all of the other bands I'd seen here at the Warehouse. These guys were going to BE SOMETHING and REALLY GONNA MAKE IT. Oh, be still, my heart.

I noticed a shuffling in the corner of my eye.

His drunk friend loudly told some stupid story from an earlier concert, gesticulating wildly with one hand and... undoing his belt with the other? He managed to unhook his belt, mid-story, and started unbuttoning his pants. We stood there in the middle of the Warehouse, actual groupies shuffling around carrying amps, tattooed girls trading alt-rock hookup stories behind us over the haze of American Spirit smoke, and the drunk friend was removing his pants. Nonchalantly. Still telling his story.

I was both horrified and incapable of looking away.

Suddenly, he stopped. He looked down at his pants now approaching his knees (undergarments still on THANK GOD) looked slowly at us girls with gaping mouth and wide eyes, and then to the Lead Singer. He the spoke again.

"Aw man, you gotta tell me when I'm taking my pants off in public. I can't get in trouble for this again!"

He shuffled away, hiking up his pants and muttering curses.

This had happened before? This was a thing? Accidentally forgetting you were removing your clothing... and in front of underage girls, no less? I've read about many types of systematic memory loss, but never in my psychology studies had I seen someone who JUST DIDNT REALIZE HE WAS GETTING NAKED.

And that is how I did NOT see another naked man.

* Total Groupie Syndrome (TGS): Behavior exhibited by typically desperate girls wanting to score with a band member. Nausea-inducing to anyone not afflicted. Symptoms begin with flushed faces, dizziness, uncontrollable batting eyelashes, and excessive giggling. Also earnestly CARING about the band's goals and artistic vision. When not treated with a healthy dose of reality or a well-meaning bitchslap, symptoms can progress to ostentatious flirting, lofty statements and delusions of grandeur and true-love-forever and irrepressible lust. Not to be confused with the even-more-severe "actual love," the onset of TGS is swift, sudden, and may require little or no interaction with the intended target.

(the bangability scale tends to go from lead singer, percussionist?, lead guitarist, drums, and then last and usually least, the bassist. Though now in our ironic, post-hip society, the bassists have suddenly started being in high demand. Thank you, I started that trend.)


So does R. Grace end up with her band boy (not likely)? Does the evening end in shambles or hilarity? Will she ever stay up past one again? And how does relationship advice from a chimney-smoke English teacher play into all of this? How does this forever shape our fearless heroine's dating adventures?

I guess you'll have to wait until the next post!


Post inspired by my jaunt to the Honda Civic Tour last night to see Matt & Kim, MCR, and Blink 182. My middle-school self is still jumping around excitedly. Goodnight loves.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Don't Drink and Drive Incident

Sometimes being responsible can get you in trouble.

Three summers ago, I was feeling totally cool. I had just visited Nicaragua, just turned nineteen (one of the most epically insignificant birthdays there is), and just gotten a totally supercool boyfriend. I mean, what more could you want at such a pivotal (not) age?

Toga! Toga! Toga!
Oh yeah, all my cool older friends started turning twenty-one. Birthday parties were in full force, and this particular one was toga-themed.

So of course I pulled out my Winnie the Pooh sheets. They are an intricately detailed large map of the Hundred Acre Woods. Glorious. No other cartoon sheets can compare (I'm looking at you, Hannah Montana).

I got dear Lady Mum to help me pin and wind the sheets to something she deemed "not too slutty" (ha)! This involved me driving to the party and arriving in sheets. Most other people put their togas on once they got there, but I was sufficiently pinned in. This toga was not going anywhere.

I had a couple of drinks, by no means anything crazy, but as a wide-eyed innocent nineteen year old (the age of dreams) I was not about to drive home with even a drop of alcohol in my system. A cop could pull me over! I could go to jail! My life would be forever ruined! I got my vicious viking friend to drive me home since he lived in my neighborhood. Being responsible is great.

Getting to my room, I struggled for at least twenty minutes to unweave myself from the sheets cocoon. Finally getting myself untangled, I collapsed to sleep at roughly 3am.

At 6am, I awoke to a loud pounding. Jeez, is this a hangover? Wait. Literal, actual noise pounding on my door. I stumbled to open my bedroom door and the pounding echoed in my head. Real-life hangover. Real-life pounding.

I opened the door to an absolutely panicked Lady Mum. She frantically shouted at me:

"Oh my god R. Grace / You're okay / Did you notice anything suspicious last night / Your car is gone / Did anybody attack you / are you okay / we think someone stole your car / what happened last night"

Head. Pounding. Mother. Shouting.

"My car's at boyfriend's house. The Vicious Viking drove me home" Groan.
"But, why would he drive you home? You had your car." Cue Lady Mum not getting it.
"I... couldn't... drive. And now I need to sit down because I can't stand."
"What? Ooooh..." Cue Lady Mum getting it. "Let me get you some crackers and soda."

I sprawled on my bed, the frantic shrieks of grand theft auto: hometown edition still echoing in my throbbing head. Lil Watz peeked his head in my room.

"What's wrong with R. Grace? Is she having 'women troubles' ewww"

Thank you, lil Watz, for your excellent analysis of the situation.

Once Lady Mum returned with peanut butter crackers and ginger ale, I got a lecture. About how I had been responsible even though it was irresponsible, and I should be more responsible in the future. Or something. I wasn't listening.

All I know is, next time I come home late without my car, or with any possible situation that might insinuate kidnapping or another felony, I'm going to leave a note.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A bit of housekeeping

My first post is now an FAQ page! If you have any questions, inquiries, guest blog ideas, etc. please let me know. Check it out and please let me know anything on your mind or other ideas to help flesh out this blog. New post coming later today or first thing tomorrow.

An awk squawk to tide you over:

Lady Mother, circa 2007: You can't HOLD HANDS with a boy you're not dating! What sort of example are you setting for your brother?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Awful Audition Incident

The transition from high school to college is a rough one.

Probably not as bad as my impending doom transition to the real world, but as I have a few more months left in college I would like to feign blissful ignorance (or I've been looking at Rep companies and MFA auditions while eating a tub of buttercream icing instead of doing my homework and am now teetering on the brink of despair.) As my post-grad paranoia ever increases, I am reminded of my second-to-worst audition experience ever.

At least I've already lived through possibly the worst.

I used to get super nervous before auditions. Nowadays, I psyche myself up into thinking I am not dopey, clumsy, R. Grace, but her sexy superstar hot evil twin. And for 20 minutes or so, I am not lame, worrying R. Grace but totally-kickass-all-the-confident-parts R. Grace. Also I can buy myself a drink after. But back in the day, even in high school auditions where the drama teacher had clearly precast the entire show: BLOOD FREEZING PANIC. I would have nightmares for a week leading up to auditions.  I would prepare and overprepare and second-guess myself and overanalyze every second of the audition. I bit my nails. My stomach churned. I am surprised I don't have a stomach ulcer the size of Vermont.

Ironically, I don't get actual stage fright. At all. Ever. Put me in front of 300 people with a decent director, a well rehearsed show, and a cast I love? No big deal. Myself against three or so people (director, SM, casting director)? Sudden death.

I steeled myself for the first round of auditions my freshman year at college. We don't have a particularly notable undergrad program, but our MFA and Rep program is totally kickass. No big deal, right? I had my monologue from Wit forever embedded in my heart. I read the summary and snippets of the plays for which I was auditioning (three shows auditioning at the same time in separate rooms- eep!) I happily realized that my first audition was for a production directed by one of my professors. Sure, it was a big lecture class of a theater survey, but I'd answered two questions earlier in the week and talked to him after class - maybe he'd recognize me. That's a good thing, right?


I go in for auditions, fill out my forms, ask the students running auditions if there's anything special I need to know (of course not, you'll do fine, you're totally prepared sweetheart blah blah blah). I present my audition piece, a little nervous but hopefully directed and focused and poised. I smile, thank them, turn to leave and -

"So what are you going to sing?"

Um, what?

"What piece are you going to sing? This is a musical."

I am going to die.

I have a terrible phobia of my singing voice. It's probably the positive side of mediocre, and I was even in elementary glee club for two years. I don't sing along to the radio when friends are in my car. I had a round of really poor quality voice lessons in high school that made me feel like an idiot and a braying goat, and I've never really recovered. In some weird Freudian way, this probably explains why I dated a slew of musicians. I don't sing. Ever. No.

Also, how in the HELL had I missed that this show was a musical? I'd read probably four sources, and nothing mentioned songs. I felt foolishly underprepared, and decided to save face, explain my screw up, and bail.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize this show was a musical when I read it so I don't have anything prepared. I apologize, sorry for wasting your time. I'm just going to go-"
"You're in my class, aren't you?"
"Me? Um, yes. I am." Cue five seconds of me pleading in my head: Please just say "oh you don't need to sing, it happens, go about your merry way." Instead, I heard:

"It's not actually a musical; were turning it into one. Since you're in my class, just sing something off the top of your head."

Off the top of my - what? I don't even hardly listen to the radio. A song? What song? What time of musical is this? Tomorrow... no, I'm not 10. Phantom of the - oh bullshit, like I could hit those notes. How much do they expect me to sing? I don't know that much musical theater. Oh god they're all staring at me. FIGHT OR FLIGHT. Run awayyyyy-

"Y'know, I don't really sing, I'm sorry for the confusion but I'm just going to leave-"
"Don't leave. Sing something. Now."

In retrospect, he was just trying to give me a chance to redeem myself by encouraging me. His requesting me to stay wasn't done out of malice, but trying to get me to confront my fears. But this wasn't a case of the freshman jitters, this was full-on panic. Even cool swagger alter-ego R. Grace would be reduced to tears at this point. I was probably visibly trembling.

My mind went completely blank except for one song. The song we used to audition for 5th grade glee club. Well, shit.

You Are My Sunshine.

My first audition for college theater and I was 1) unprepared 2) uninformed and 3) singing a nursery song. My voice was shaking so much I actually stopped in the middle of the song and apologized, but they waved me to just keep going. So, to recap the past minute:

1) I sang a kiddie song (all of it, what does this "16 bars" mean? It will take washing my mouth with 16 bars of soap to remove the taste of shame?).
2) I pleaded to be released from the audition instead of following through.
3) I stopped MID-SONG to apologize.

Finally, the torture was over and I ran out of the room in the midst of their "thank you for auditioning" closure. The cool college kids audition sitting looked at me in horror when I came out, completely pale and trembling.

"Are you okay? You look sick."
"Why did nobody tell me, when I asked if there was anything special about this audition, THAT I HAD TO SING?"
"Oh yeah, about that..."

On the plus side, I made it to the bathroom before I started crying.

My next two auditions were a blur of disappointment, shakiness, and failure. I was so hung up on my first audition that I barely stumbled through my monologue, zombie-like. No callbacks for me. My dream was crushed. Back to being a hard-hitting investigative journalist. That's what I came to college for, anyway. Theater was just a stupid dream. Despair.

The next day I received an email from my professor, explaining they couldn't offer me a callback because my astronomy lab conflicted too much with rehearsals and performances.

My astronomy lab. After all that, it was my schedule, not my complete ineptitude at life, that disabled me from continuing on. Well then.

I was still traumatized enough to not be involved with theater in any way whatsoever until the next year, in which I was forced by a friend of an ex-boyfriend and my fantastic floridian friend. And since then, I acted (and toured!) with a show that involved multiple southern/gospel songs. This time, I was more prepared. I didn't fall back to "you are my sunshine."

I sang Amazing Grace.

It seemed only fitting.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Contact Lens Cinderella Caper

I have terrible vision.

My prescription is something like -6.00, -4.75, for you optometry nerds out there.  Really, really bad. (I accidentally put my boyfriend's contacts in my eyes this morning and his eyes are even worse, if that's possible. I thought I'd awoken with supersight! I could see the details on the details of EVERYTHING.) I always need to wear contacts or glasses.

The weekend before I leave for college for the first time ever, I had gone downtown to have a proper send-off with my dear friends at our local hookah bar. In all these popular TV shows, they have folks hanging out at the local bar (which is always too loud and full of sloppy people in the real life) or the local coffee shop (also loud, replace sloppy with pretentious). Nope, the hookah bar was "our place." We would smoke a couple, dance the Cupid Shuffle every now and then to earn a free shisha (is dancing in exchange for goods kind of like prostitution? Damn.) and generally have an uproariously good time.

However, there were two things significant about this weekend. Maybe three.

1) Hometown College just went back into session. And HC kids are notorious (like, Playboy top list notorious) for knowing how to party. Or going over the top with the partying.
2) My family would return that evening, at midnight, from a two-week jaunt to Alaska. I missed them terrible and had painted a huge welcome home sign that hung in front of the house.
3) I was super emotionally strung out after my BFF getting into a vicious car accident (with who turned out to be her true love soulmate, and they met at said hookah bar) and getting "back together" with my *~*high school sweetheart*~* Vomit. Vomit. We decided to get back together for the whole week I had left in town. Soooo romantic. Not.

So I am super emotional, surrounded by raging college kids, when I realize the clock is fast approaching midnight. It is IMPERATIVE that I be home to greet my family, because we are supertight and I missed them terribly and... I don't know, I would have just felt like a shit daughter if I couldn't manage to greet them at the door after a two and a half week absence. Must run out the door and hop in my car. Must get home. NOW.

Have you ever tried to run after smoking for two hours straight?

Run, run, pant pant, wheeze, wheeze, oh God, I'm going to die, my lungs, unghhh... after sitting on the sidewalk for five minutes, regaining my breath, I hopped in my car.

And gunned it.

I was flying so fast, I almost breezed through the police checkpoint.

I slowed to the officer waving me over, and rolled down my window. It must have smelled like a cloud of smoke billowed out. The hookah smell definitely soaked into my clothes, hair, upholstery, ect. (Thank you, Bernie the Honda Accord, for being so forgiving.) Here I trembled, a very clearly almost freshman girl, reeking of smoke, speeding, and my first confrontation with the police.

Don't taze me, bro?

Officer: You were going pretty fast there, miss.
Me: Oh um, I don't know, there's a lot of hills on this road. (Wait, what the hell does that have to do with anything?)
Officer: Hmmm, yes. What were you doing downtown? (What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? It is now 11:55. I need to get home. Puppy-dog eyes: GO. Chin tremble: GO.)
Me: I was just saying goodbye to some friends before we all go to different colleges... forever. Please, officer, I just want to go home and see my family. Sniff, sniff, they've been on vacation for weeks and I really miss them.
Officer: Sure thing, just let me see your ID. Then you should go straight home. You shouldn't be downtown. (Rude. I can handle myself, thankyouverymuch)

He took my ID. And examined it. And flipped it over.

He continued to hold my ID and glare at me with an increasingly suspicious look.

Me: Is anything wrong? (I don't have a fake; it's not expired; Ireallyfreakingneedtogethome; shouldn't you be bothering other people for breathalyzer tests?)
Officer: Well it says on here that you need corrective lenses to drive.
Me: Yes... ?
Officer: Where are your lenses?
Me: I have contacts. They're in my eyes.
Officer: Are they? Are they REALLY?

Okay, WTF.

There were drunk, STD-laden college kids careening around town in Hummers, and I was being harassed over a license restriction. Tax dollars at work, as they say. If I was going to lie about something, wouldn't it be the pervasive odor of smoke, or the reason I was downtown, or about being drunk/high/trafficking illegal immigrants or whatever else the kids do these days? Why would I LIE about contact lenses?

Me: I have them in my eyes so I can see.
Officer: Are you sure?

Okay, it was almost midnight and I was already walking on an emotional highwire. Tears started coming.

Me: YES. Yes I am wearing contacts. In my eyes. I can't see without them. If you want to ask me how many fingers you're holding up, I'll do it. PLEASE. I need to get home. I can... umm... I can take them out and show them to you! Here!

The second I touched my eye the officer recoiled in disgust.

Um, rude.

He warily said that he believed me and handed my license back slowly. I rolled up the window and gunned it. Again. Surprisingly no one left their breathalyzer/contact-alyzer posts to chase after the girl careening 15 miles above the speed limit.

And after all that strife, my family was late getting in.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Awk Squawk: Irene

Text message conversation with Dr. Dad. Hometown got hit harder by the hurricane than college town. They lost power and Dr. Dad learned how to use his cellphone.

Dr. Dad: No power wind up radio on. zombies seen in new bern. looks grim mom wont let me get a beer from the fridge. boredom has set in. im texting long messages going insane

Me: This is the best text message I have ever received.

Dr. Dad: What   we are slowly going crazy trapPed (nice spelling dad) in a darkening house arguing over the scraps of food and water left   your mom is starting to look tasty   dAd

Me: No one will cast me if my father is a cannibal. The best I could hope for is a lifetime movie about my pathetic life.

Dr. Dad: Sorry to ruin your life. mom is running around screaming get the power on. it looks bleak. maybe tuna sandwiches. oh wait i have month of food stashed and hundreds of galLons of water in the tubs. your tub will be our last stand water hole   lots of germs.

Me: little watz's tub is the cesspool he's had MRSA.

Dr. Dad: ill treat it with with clorox boil it and maybe irradiate it. No light left getting dim   fried chicken and beer in the fridge if I can make it.

Me: I thought you were a true post-apocalyptic warrior. You can do this.

A little while later...

Dr. Dad: i think i can now   i have a cold beer

Hope everyone stayed safe in the hurricane.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Notecard Romeo Incident

As I printed a script in the student union this afternoon, I noticed an awk freshman boy leaning out of his chair, ignoring his study group to stare at me. Clearly he was impressed by my aura of senior swagger, because the curly-hair, no-makeup, glasses, baggy-shirt combo I am currently rocking does not emit babe vibes. But it reminded me of another strange incident from my freshman year...

I hate modernist literature.

It is so damn hard to read. Nonlinear, changing narrators, metaphors out the ass. As John Mayer would huskily whisper-sing: "say what you need to say" and not a damn thing more. I get that the World Wars really messed you guys up, and I'm sorry for that, but seriously. Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I AM.

But my freshman year of college, I thought it would be a cool idea to take a freshman literary seminar examining how different cities were represented through modernist literature. Doesn't that just sound so... hip? complicated? bullshit? College. It sounded like a "college" class.

So here I sat, in the top level of the student union, cross legged on an overstuffed armchair, trying to force myself to read (and understand, dammit) the first half of St. Petersburg by Andrei Biely. In English, of course. But just like a Chekov play (theaters professors LOVE them some Chekov) the story became extremely difficult to follow because everyone had long, complicated double names with two or three nicknames, depending on who was addressing them.

It was like the Count of Monte Cristo, but with less action.

I am laboriously applying myself to the task at hand. As much as I disliked the subject matter, the class and the professor were AMAZING. The professor remains one of the smartest people I know. She's on the MLA board, for crying out loud. Every wide-eyed high schooler who's ever had to cite a paper or buy an MLA handbook breathes in a collective gasp.

So focused am I on this book (My only contribution to the class discussion at this point would be: Who the hell names a character Apollon Apollonovich Ableukhov?) that I don't entirely notice the person placing something on my desk and walking away.

This is a commonplace thing. People are always handing out mini-fliers for comedy events, cancer-fighting-things, interesting meetings, ect. I once amassed six separate handbills for events over the span of one lunch in the cafeteria. The student union is a popular place to hand out these bills. If the person currently at the table doesn't take it, someone else will come along in 20 minutes and be passionately interested in your cause.

After a long, arduous journey around St. Petersburg (roughly 5 minutes later) I look up at the flyer on my desk, hoping for some distraction. But instead, I saw a plain white 3x5 notecard with a name on it.

Way more interesting than Apollo Anotononin-too-many-damn-syllables.

To this day, I can't really remember the name, and I profusely apologize to you. I know it was two syllables, ending in an -en sound. Nathan? Kevin? I think it was Kevin. Nathan/Kevin, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.

On the front side, Nathan/Kevin was printed in jaggedy boy hand-writing with an arrow to the back. Flipping it over revealed:

"... is a really nice guy who would like to take you to dinner sometime if you'd leave your number #_____________."

Um. What.

Suddenly the overwhelming feeling of someone watching me washed over my being. It was like a screenwriter couldn't decide between a romantic comedy and a stalker slasher film.

"Be cool," I thought. "He's probably waiting for your reaction. Don't act weird."

I acted weird.

I glanced around the rest of the room, holding the notecard. No one made any move of recognition, no head-nod, no hand-wave, nothing. If Nathan/Kevin was still in the room, he made no move to call attention to himself.

And I had nothing to go on.

I had a very generic first name (no last name), so I couldn't facebook stalk. It wasn't like I was in a classroom where I could look him up on the class roll. I had no number or email. I hadn't looked up when Nathan/Kevin placed the card in front of me, because I assumed it was just another handbill solicitor, and like with rabid animals, you don't look them in the eye.

Well damn.

I was really flattered (and single and young and overly romantic) but I was not about to leave my number on a random card in the middle of the student union. If Nathan/Kevin had already left, heart crushed that I hadn't reacted to his immediate presence, the card might not be picked up by Nathan/Kevin the Romantic, but Bob/Ted the Serial Rapist. And I already had enough problems as a freshman without adding "stalked by a psychotic murderer" to the list.

I put the card in my bag and looked around a bit more, winning-smile on my face (hopefully giving off "don't you want to talk to me?" vibes and not "I am a crazy bunny-cooker" vibes). No one approached me, but the creepy feeling of being watched persisted. I got up slowly, packing my books away. I lingered by the stairs. Please, please, follow through with your grand romantic gesture. Talk to me. Do something. I want to go out with you but I have no idea who you are!

Also my bitch roommate would be super jealous.

But alas, Nathan/Kevin never approached me.

I sat in the same area at the same time for the rest of the week, hoping for contact. I had no possible way of discerning him. The weird feeling of being watched never came back, and instead the broke-up-with-my-highschool-boyfriend-to-come-here-and-nobody-likes-me loneliness came back. I kept the notecard for around a year, buried in the bottom of my bookbag, and I always glance around when I'm in a crowd, just in case.

Nathan/Kevin, wherever you are, I would have gone out to dinner with you.

But seriously man, you've got to step your game up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Too-Skinny Freshman Incident

I am rather slender.

Or, in another word, bony. All elbows and knees and sharp edges. Nothing feminine and curvy. I didn't get boobs until college, and they are still rather disappointing. In short, not only am I lacking in social niceties, but I look awkward too.

No time was this more apparent than my freshman year of high school.

I had the trifecta of dorkdom going on: long, stringy, what-do-i-do-with-it hair that I roped into a tight ponytail atop my head 30 seconds after emerging from the shower, glasses in subtle giant ovals (before hipsters made it cool) and orthodontia from hell. I mean, braces and a Herpz appliance? Really? That appliance looked like shock absorbers in my mouth.

But once I got it out, I kind of missed it, because then I didn't have a tangible excuse for why boys weren't kissing me.


Not only did I have the trifecta of dorkdom glaring like a beacon to bullies, but I grew about four inches over the summer. Upward. And since I'd started being a hardcore cross country superstar (I couldn't even type that phrase without wheezing. Pausing this post for a gatorade break.) the rest of me hadn't quite caught up with the new height.

Now I wasn't just a bony, four-eyed, bracefaced dork. I was a bony, four-eyed, bracefaced skeleton.

My first day of school I arrived twenty minutes early, to be certain to find my Art 1 class on time and get a good seat. So of course I wandered around with increasing panic and urgency until I found my class with less than 30 seconds before the late bell. I ran in (because GOD FORBID you be late for a class in high school) and found only one seat left.

I sat directly in the middle of a table of wannabe gangstas and a handful of ultrajocks.

They were going to gut me with a paintbrush.

But Art 1 turned out to be an almost welcome relief from the rest of navigating high school. They mostly left me alone to my work, too busy talking about "their bitches" or "getting high" to tease me. When I did venture to ask them a question or contribute to their conversation (I think my first contribution was: Hey guys, what's a shank?) they eyed me warily like maybe I was a narc in dweeb's clothing. They would respond briefly and go back to what they were doing. After a couple weeks, they realized I wasn't taking first period Art 1 to ease off a hangover, but because I was actually INTERESTED IN THE SUBJECT (oh the shame) and they started asking me questions (uh, hey R. Grace, who's Picasso?) and admiring my work.

The rest of the school day was not as full of diversity and harmony.

Somehow, the zoning change between middle school and high school placed all the jerks that teased me on the bus in my high school, and all my friends and comrades in another high school across town. The jerks were never the most popular kids, being to fat or pimply or stupid to reach the top-tier. They were hanger-ons, only kept around for their jester qualities for the reigning social monarchy. And jesters need a target.

"You're really skinny." A jester peered over at me in the cafeteria the first week. "Too skinny. Are you anorexic?"

It took me a minute to respond, as my mouth was full of double-stacked peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches.

"What? No." I had snuck a second Little Debbie Marshmallow Supreme in my lunch. Haha Lady Mum making me pack my own lunch. Dessert is its own food group.

"I don't think you can be that skinny without being anorexic. You should eat more." And so it began.

The jesters were convinced I was an "anorexic" and would call me out on it. Frequently. And loudly. This was never done out of concern or worry about my well-being, but thrown around like a slur. Another thing to make me a freak, a weirdo, clearly something WRONG WITH ME.

These accusations were best when I was eating a bag of cheetos. Meanwhile, Princess Barbie could be eating celery and carrot sticks two tables down, and what is she called? "Totally Bang-able."

Jesters would harass me at lunch, give me all their gross leftovers and tell me to eat because I was too skinny. On at least two occasions, after I went to the bathroom during lunch a jester asked me if I'd just puked up my lunch. And make retching sounds at me.

"Oh guys, stop it!" Princess Barbie or Skipper would roll their eyes if the boys' teasing got above their general background hum of superiority. "Stop picking on her. Honestly." Condescending but significant glance at me, as if they were doing me SUCH a favor and if I had a problem I should REALLY get help.

To which my response should have been: Bitch, I will make a shank out of your carrot sticks and skewer you. I know how!

But back to Art 1. I actually enjoyed my table between the talkative thugs and jocks. Ninety minutes of not being picked on every morning! When the first 6-weeks ended, people were given the opportunity to shuffle, but most of us stay where we were.

Except Ron.

Ron was the most detestable type of jester: A hanger-on of the hanger-ons. Pale, scrawny with a belly, mousy hair, and no discernible skill or talents (he didn't even live in a cool neighborhood, gosh), Ron rehashed everyone else's jokes to try to create some puny self importance.

Ron moved closer. And one morning, decided to start in on me.

"God, how much do you weigh / Like eighty pounds / Do you never eat / What a freak / Why don't you eat more / what's wrong with you / You're way too skinny / You should eat / No really how much do you weigh I bet it's less than 80 pounds / What is wrong with you?" And on and on, in a nasally, obnoxious voice. I bit my lip. Now the "Haha R. Grace is an anorexic" joke would be on the thugs/jocks' radars and they would tease me too. They've both certainly spoken ruthless about dem btichez before. My 90 minutes of peace and occasional lesson in street fighting and the drug trade would turn into the rest of the school day: A tirade of everything that was wrong with me.

I didn't notice anything unusual at first. One of the football players stood up. HUGE guy, star of the team, definitely in art to waste some time. I thought he was going to turn something into the teacher.

"Hey yo, Ron?" He asked, towering above. Ron smirked and I steeled myself not to cry. Great, here we go, the approval that feeds the cycle of jackassery. Goodbye, prison tips and hello skinny freak girl.

"Don't you EVER ask a lady about her weight. What the hell is wrong with you, man? You never, ever, talk to a woman about her weight. Some people have serious problems with it and you could make it worse. God, didn't your parents teach you nothin? You treat a lady with respect and you don't comment on her weight."

He sat down and returned to his work. I wanted to applaud.

Ron shut up for the rest of the semester and the "anorexic freak" rumors stopped almost immediately.

I went back to my artwork and lessons in ebonics and sneaking an extra snack pack in my lunch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Awk Squawk: A dirty joke

No internet at the new house, blerg.

Lil Watz, my brother, is headed off to Glorious Mountain College on Friday. This makes me feel very old. I also want to pick on him mercilessly.

Last weekend, while I was home, we were kind of talking about awkward collegey things. Lady Mum ran through the usual "Don't have sex / sex is bad / never have sex / but if you do have sex for the love of all things good and holy use protection" spiel.

To which my brother replies:

"If I somehow get a girl pregnant, we're naming the baby Odysseus for breaking through my Trojan wall."

Lady Mum put her head down on the table and Dr. Dad didn't quite get it.
I'm going to miss him.
And I will kill him if I become an aunt anytime soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Midair Meltdown Incident

This is possibly the most freakish string of events and coincidences I have ever experienced.
And it's all true.

Our team of doctors, nurses and logisticians had just spent a grueling week in Nicaragua running a full medical clinic in a remote village. As we readied for our two flights home, all we wanted was rest. And drinks with ice in them.

At least we got one of those things.

The flight from Managua to Miami went by without incident, besides lying through my teeth on the Entering-the-Country form. 

Been around any sick people? Psh, of course not. This was during the height of the swine flu paranoia, too. Not like a couple of us wandered into the village and watched a family butcher a pig. And ate their totally untreated cacao beans. Of course not. And contraband items? Of course not. 

Well, besides the five totally legit Cuban cigars I stored in my Keds in my checked luggage. (When we went to market, one of our trip leaders told us not to be tempted to buy anything "inappropriate." I'm a smuggler AND a sinner. They were damn good cigars though.)

We waited in the Miami airport, weary and bedraggled for four hours, stuffing ourselves with American food and crunching on ice. Finally, we boarded the plane to take us back to North Carolina and settled in to sleep, eat pretzels and zonk out watching the in-flight movie.

Thirty minutes or so into the flight we noticed a bit of a commotion at the front of the plane. A worried flight attendant rushed past and a man fell to the floor, shaking. Dr. Dad and his friend the SuperDoc (fun fact, SuperDoc delivered me and has many secret superpowers) raced to the front of the plane, followed closely by one of the women in our group who happened to be a trauma/ER nurse.

"Ma'am, we're doctors, let us handle this." It was just like something out of a movie!

The seat mate of convulsing guy got removed from his seat so they could run diagnostics in the aisle, with the shitty plane first-aid kit and all their medical gear in their carry-ons. This poor, visibly horrified man came and sat in Dr. Dad's seat.

"So, you know those doctors? I guess it's really lucky there happened to be two whole doctors on board. Heh." The guy was practically trembling.
"Yep, that's my dad.... that's the guy that delivered me. She's a trauma nurse. We also have a gynecologist, labor and delivery nurse and an oral surgeon so I wouldn't worry about anything."
"Wha... Whoa! That's amazing. What are the odds?"
"Well we just got back from a medical aid trip. But yeah, haha, we've got it covered if anything else happens."

Well yes, why don't I just go ahead and jinx us all?

They got seizure guy mostly stabilized, but the flight attendant still paced nervously and seemed on the verge of tears, and an air of barely-contained panic hovered around the front of the plane. She skittishly suggested making an emergency stop in Georgia for medical assistance.

Aw shit, they were going to ground the plane. We were going to be stuck in transit even longer. No, no, no. Between the docs and the sick guy, they were able to convince her to continue on as planned. My dad sat down next to me again, joked about our little adventure and leaned back to take a nap.

Ten minutes later, someone at the back of the plane started violently vomiting everywhere.

The doctor crew leapt up again, while the trauma nurse stayed at the front monitoring seizure guy. Panic started spreading throughout the passengers, and I somewhat bemusedly thought of the House episode where EVERYONE on the plane gets sick psychosomatically. This could be interesting.

The flight attendant has officially lost her shit and is freaking out on the intercom, telling everyone to stay in their seats (rules don't apply to doctors) as we had an emergency situation. Then, SuperDoc turns around, swishes his gray mane and says:

"Ma'am, I happen to be a licensed pilot in addition to being a doctor. I know I can't go talk to the pilot personally (post 9/11) but let me tell you the exact instructions to give him so RDU clears the runway and we have immediate emergency care upon landing."

Told you he had superpowers.

Meanwhile, barfing guy happened to be sitting right behind his personal physician, who happened to be on vacation in the same area. She was horrified when he stated he'd gone snorkeling and galavanting about the ocean because... he was in the early stages of congestive heart failure. 

The Doctor Team is trying to discern if he has "the Bends" or is currently having a heart attack, and puts him on that little drop-down oxygen mask. It really doesn't inflate, by the way, but that doesn't mean it's not working. Those informational videos at the beginning of flights are actually accurate.

The people who aren't dying on the flight are getting increasingly nervous and antsy. All we need is a panic attack on top of this. I've been watching the back-of-the-plane action intensely, because this is undoubtedly the coolest flight I will ever be on in my life. Dr. Dad shoots me a look and a nod and I understand immediately. 

I need to help halt the hysteria. 

Those of us on the Nicaragua crew are fanned out throughout the plane, and start talking to our seatmates and those across the aisle. "Everything is going to be okay. These are trained professionals. It's not contagious. We're all in good hands and everything will be taken care of. You are all okay."

You know, the kind of stuff corporations say right before a zombie outbreak.

I first alleviated the fears of the people in front of me, assuring them everything is under control. I don't know how a sleep-deprived, makeup-less eighteen-year-old could be mistaken for an authority figure, but the wife relaxed enough to stop digging her nails into her husband's arm. Life lesson: If you sound like you know what you're talking about, people will take you seriously.

I turned to the two guys behind me, one wearing a hat with my college's logo on it.

"Nice hat. I go there. You don't have anything to worry about, by the way."
"Thanks. Can I ask you a question?" I figured he wanted to know how I knew the doctors, or what gave me the right to assume crowd control, but I nodded sure. He leaned in.

"Are we on TV or something?"
"You know, is this like one of those hidden camera shows or part of a movie where they want really real reactions from the extras? Should we be freaking out more?"

You have got to be kidding me. 
The only two non-medical people NOT freaking out on the plane were only calm because they thought they were on some psychotic version of Candid Camera. 

No, I explained to them. All of this was really real, and we were EXHAUSTED and just wanted to go home. They seemed a little more uneasy at my exasperation, but peered around the overhead baggage containers as if looking for hidden cameras.

Finally we arrived at the airport. The shaking flight attendant, who would probably need to be on a heavy dose of Prozac for the next 6 months, took to the intercom again.

"When we land a team of emergency medical professionals will board the plane. (Way to go, SuperDoc) We ask that you please keep your seats until they have exited the aircraft. We apologize for the slight delay but as you can all see, these are very unusual circumstances and we ask that you all COOPERATE OR ELSE." She then disappeared, probably to curl into a fetal position in the snack room.

The flight landed quickly and the medics boarded, carrying out one of the men on a stretcher and helping the other one walk. The Doctor Team rushed out with them, and half of the plane started applauding.

Applause? Maybe some people really thought they were in a movie.

I struggled with Dr.Dad's two large carry-ons. Of course, he gets all the glory and I get to be a pack-mule. Neigh, I say. Suddenly, another passenger lifted them out of my hands. As I looked around, I realized other passengers, complete strangers, were helping the medical team carry out their bags, shaking our hands and smiling. 

"Was that your dad?" The stranger asked. I nodded. "Tell him thank you. You must be really proud of him."

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and say 'not usually' and smiled. We reunited with everyone in the terminal and began the trek to our van, where we had a two-hour car ride before home.

We piled in and SuperDoc looked around at all of us.

"Absolutely no one is allowed to get sick on this car ride. You hear me? No one is getting sick on this ride home."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gawk at the Awk: Penicillin Allergy

While interning for a local really-bigass-deal repertory company in the esteemed position of Spotlight Operator #2, I developed Strep Throat. The campus health doctor (campus health: where all medical careers go to die) prescribed me some penicillin. I hate antibiotics, because they tear my stomach to shreds no matter if I eat a big meal or take it at night or what have you. Also yeast infections. Gross.

But being the child of Dr. Dad, I dutifully popped my pill every evening right before I went to bed. Four days in, it was the night before Easter Sunday and the very last performance of my internship. I threw back that pill and started getting ready for bed.

My face felt weird.

Really, really weird.

I looked in the mirror and my upper lip had EXPLODED (however, this was about half the size of the lip in the "Impress his parents with your face-swelling abilities" post). It was two am, and I was having a drug reaction.

Also I was the only person in my house.

Knowing a thing or two about medicine, I knew drug reactions could be very severe and onset really quickly. I snapped a picture with my Mac and then called home... at 2am. Before the Easter Sunrise service I knew my parents planned to attend.

After my lisping around in a panic, Dr. Dad advised a heavy dose of Benadryl and to monitor my breathing. If I was hideously disfigured for life, I mean, whatever. But the second my chest got tight/wheezy/ect I needed to go to the hospital.

I conked out immediately (Benadryl is like heroin) and woke up in the morning with a completely normal face (though my brother would say hideously disfigured as usual) and... three missed calls from my mother. Asking if I was alive and made it through the night because they hadn't heard from me at the crack of dawn.

Yeah really, it was that bad.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Driving in Durham Incident

If you read this blog/like this blog, please comment to let me know! School is fast approaching and I'm deciding wether or not to continue it. Your opinion really counts - turning anonymous comments on just so everyone can voice their thoughts!

The main thing that makes awkward moments funny to me is looking at them in retrospect. As in, enough time has passed that it’s no longer painful and I can look at it unbiased. Or at least more tongue in cheek.

The thing that this blog tends to gloss over is awkward moments, when they actually happen, tend to really suck.

I was set to have an awesome afternoon. I was going to act in my first ever film… as an extra, but I mean, we all have to start somewhere. I spent an hour doing my hair an makeup and picking out a perfect outfit. I double-checked the directions and left on the seemingly simple 15-minute trek with 45 minutes to spare. I was on my game.


Except there is no place on Earth more frustrating and difficult to navigate that Durham. With the possible exception of West Village in NYC, but there are no rainbows and flags and humorously bad sex shops in Durham to make the confusion at least bearable. And eyebrow raising.

I drive along 54 and realized I entered the highway at the wrong spot, somehow missing my exit. Whatever, I’ll be practical. I know it’s near the evil devil campus; I know vaguely where two of the streets on my section of directions are. I know at least that I am headed in the right direction. After driving for a bit I pull into a CVS and ask a cashier where a certain street on my directions is – I know the next cross street well and think it will be easy sailing. I go on my way. I find the road and follow it through snooty suburbia and keep going, going, my eyes peeled for the cross-street I know and am familiar with… and then I hit a dead end.

Did you know that there are two South Roxboro Streets in Durham that aren’t fully connected? I turn around, driving in the opposite direction of the South Roxboro Street that I needed to be on, and stooped so low and desperate to call Lady Mum. Time on the clock: 5 minutes left before I would be late. Perhaps this was salvageable.

After a whiny lecture about “didn’t you get a GPS for Christmas” and a brief tutorial about how to use google maps, we were on our way… and I had wandered far in the opposite direction. Time left: officially five minute late. Potentially breathing room: 10 more minutes.

The thought of being late turns my stomach. I have an obsession with punctuality. And a sensitive stomach.

Went down the same road again, in the opposite direction, and turned where I was supposed to. Amidst a slew of unmarked or only-marked-on-one-side-of-the-street roads, I flew past the second south Roxboro. So panicked, I turned around and gunned it… almost missing the turn.

This turn makes the top five scariest moments in my life. I was going to fast, the turn was really sharp - I cold hear the screeching and burning rubber and a slight sensation of flying like on a rollercoaster - my car careened up on two wheels.

At this point, my hands gripped the wheel so tightly my knuckles were white, my jaw clenched so hard I could feel the click-click-click of my TMJ straining, and I'd even TURNED OFF THE RADIO. Because clearly the quiet helps you read road signs better.

Now a good fifteen minutes late, because not only is Durham confusing but it is BIG, I tore down the correct South Roxboro... and forget the cross street on which I needed to turn. Another call home and Dr. Dad answered the phone in a jovial mood wanting to chat about my day, whose intestines he'd gotten to play with, ect. Finally he handed the phone to Lady mum, who laboriously pulled up Google Maps again. By the time she had invented the wheel but not yet discovered fire, I saw the cross street. Not the next three cross streets on my directions, but the correct street for filming. Zoom, zoom. On fire.

I scanned the buildings for specific building numbers, 3/4 of which had none or were number arbitrarily and haphazardly. I continued on, seeing numbers closer and closer to my goal... and then they leapt 100 digits higher. What? Maybe if I kept driving, things would return to normal.

But for me, normal always means much worse. Now I drove into some filthy (literally filthy, dirt and debris everywhere) slum area, with groups of men huddled around cars leering as I drove past. I fondly remembered my last house in college town, with the set group of men that slunk around their cars on my walk to the duplex. The fond memory was tarnished with the other memory of no pizza or sub shop delivering in our area because they'd been mugged too many times. I drove on.

Realizing I must have missed it, I turned around in a church parking lot (Jesus take the wheeeeel) managing to keep all four wheels on the ground. Finally, I pulled into the parking lot of a set of refurbished brick factory-type buildings, the correct address glittering in faux-gold plating on a sign.

Exactly thirty minutes late.

An hour after sign in started, and an hour and twenty minutes after I left College Town.

I sat in my car. Looked around at all the numbered buildings in the area. I think I saw people moving around, chatting, laughing through a window. I desperately prayed that the one person I knew might walk outside and find me, but of course I have no such luck. I sat. Bit my lip. And put my car back into drive.

Who was I to flounce into filming thirty minutes late, with no call or contact? I was a puny little extra; they may not notice I wasn't there but they would certain notice me stomping in half an hour late, frazzled an disheveled and near tears. A terrible impression to fifty-some people. A terrible first experience in the film world to walk in, only to get turned away. No. I had suffered enough today.

But of course, I hadn't suffered enough. The only thing worse than navigating in Durham was getting OUT of that ninth circle of hell. I drove downtown (uptown) found a college campus, an figured I was close to a highway. Any highway. Please? As I circled the stone wall of this campus-of-evil, I looked down to discover... my gas needle dangerously hovered at the red "E."

So now I began my search for a gas station in a strange and convoluted city, while still trying to get the hell out of it. I pulled up at the nearest ghetto-mart and got out to pump gas... still in my fancy party outfit. But you know, whatever, I once pumped gas at 4am in a wedding dress (true story. long story.) so I can handle this.

A movement in my peripheral vision made me turn. A homeless man began to approach me.

And who wouldn't approach the girl in a party dress (Thank God I opted out of heels) in the middle of a sketchy gas station as the sun began to set? I was either a wealthy society lady who was clueless or... a hooker. "Completely lost extra for a movie" doesn't make the top 5 list if one was to hazard a guess. At least I was a classy hooker.

I fixed him with an evil eye and he shrank away. Thou shalt not give me shit on top of everything else going on. He shrank away. The pump sucked away a quarter of my paycheck and then my car was ready to go. Back onto the winding road and confusion. I deliberately started speeding, hoping that a police officer would pull me and then I could beg for directions. Or a police escort. But these were the gritty streets of Durham, and no law enforcement was to be found.

I finally found the Durham Freeway, which lead to all the other highways. I made the only lucky guess of the night and took the Freeway south. And kept going. And going.

I had now wasted almost two hours, more gasoline than my hippy heart can bear, and absolutely all my patience. Just as I was about to pull over on the median and cry, a glorious sign shone above my head - the route to College Town.

I took the exit and thought maybe I would treat myself to a little retail therapy. I've gotten some of my best clothing while fuming with rage. I headed to Giant Mega Mall, but I forgot one thing - it was the last day of tax-free weekend.

I tried to navigate Hipster Outfitters to no avail, and then drifted along, following the teeming hordes in and out of various stores. Nothing caught my fancy. Everything had been picked through; people were bumping into each other and chattering and SCREAMING BABIES EVERYWHERE.

I admitted defeat and waited in super-crowded favorite restaurant to get Spinach-and-Artichoke Cheese Dip to go. I still have no microwave in the Purple Cottage, but at least I could have a good meal. I returned home to eat in the dark (no overhead light) closet in my roommate's empty room, as it was the only place I could pick up a few flickers of wi-fi. So maybe the evening was horrible, I thought, but at least I was able to end it with a good, delicious meal.

Fifteen minutes later, I was violently sick. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dumping the Dude Incident

It was time to break up with my first boyfriend.

I was not particularly distraught by this realization. I had no delusions of together-foreverness; he lived really far away and it's not like we'd "done it" so there was nothing to be upset about. We didn't even love each other, though he said he "really liked me a lot. Like, a lot" so I guess you could say we were kind of serious.

This realization came about by two major factors: a phone conversation earlier in the week had me gushing on and on about the two roles I had in upcoming theatre productions that were SERIOUSLY SUCH A BIG DEAL and THEATRE IS LIFE ect. After gushing about how this was my whole world, the defining aspect of my life, greatest calling in the universe for my soul for ten minutes or so, his response was, "oh god, I hate plays. I guess I'll come if I have to. For you, I mean. Only for you, and I guess I won't fall asleep."

Aw, hell no.

There are a lot of things I can forgive, unattractive traits I can overlook. The Calzone Incident, for example. But listen to me rant and rave about theatre and brushing off my life goals as a tiresome obligation? I suddenly saw a glaring incompatibility between us. And when I become a breakout star on Broadway in just a couple years, I mean, I only get so many comp tickets. The nonbeliever has GOT TO GO.

Also Halloween was next weekend, and my cool friend JD planned to host a party with dancing and candy and cute boys. Cute boys I liked, who weren't half a coastline away. I mean, hayyy.

Whilst I was ready to move on and my eyes had started wandering, I was not brazen enough to cheat, or even flirt with other guys. But I wanted to, and lest I act on those urges and then forever be branded a scarlet woman and cruel temptress, this relationship had GOT TO GO.

Love is so simple when you're seventeen.

Time came for the nightly phone call (remember, seven hours long distance). I think it was his turn to call me. He didn't have a cell phone (these were the dark ages) and mine was prepaid with a few hundred minutes because my parents were, and will always be, late-adopters/laggards to technology (AW HELL YEAH PUTTING THAT PR TERMINOLOGY TO USE) and also frugal as all hell. So we made long-distance calls from our HOUSE PHONES.

I sound so old right now.

He was talking about... guy stuff, or something, whatever, only focused at the upcoming task of how-to-dump-him-effectively-but-painlessly. I had even surveyed my friends at the lunch table throughout the week. Had I access to technology, I would have made a google spreadsheet with the advice and tried to categorize it. The suggestions ranged from the cruel (tell him you're seeing someone else) to the passive aggressive (just stop talking to him and defriend him off of Facebook).

I am not cruel nor passive aggressive, but I am tactless. And blunt.

"Are you okay? You seem really quiet and uh stuff."

Now see, I am not one of those girls who answers "I'm fine" all huffily and wants you to guess what's wrong. I am much, much worse. You ask that question, and the floodgates come down.

"I don't think we should date anymore / I just um it's like I don't know it's really hard and uh stuff / like ummm the distance! / Yeah the distance is really hard and I can't visit all the time / and we're only in high school and so like um yeah / and we just don't have a lot in common and the distance is bad and I don't think it can work because I like you and stuff and you know, like like you but it's not working out and uh so yeah."

Long pause.

"... okay."

Okay? Okay?! I dump all that out and get a one word response? I was still really naive (again: see the Calzone incident) and expected to talk about our feelings and how we would deal with this and all the changes. I tried to prod for a little more reaction.

"Well uh, how do you feel about it?" Dumbest question to ask a guy, ever.
"Um. Bad?"

Oh god, he felt bad. I made someone feel bad. Instantly I felt like the most horrible person on the planet. I didn't want to be with him, or ever see him again or talk to him, but I wanted him to still like me. (Somewhere, a feminist is clawing her hair out at this statement. I am not so gooey anymore, rest assured.)

I was concerned. And naive. I didn't know how bad was "bad." I hung out with a mix of AP students and artsy freaks, and the artsy freaks were always having existential crises to attend to. When they felt bad, that usually meant a trip to the psych ward. OH GOD. What if he feels that kind of bad and it's all my fault? I had to make sure I wasn't leaving a fragile eggshell of a person to be smashed against the rough wall of reality.

Once again, with the tact and gentleness of a steamroller, I tried to find out if he was deeply emotionally damaged.

"You're not going to kill yourself, are you?"
"Kill yourself. I mean, you shouldn't, that's really bad. You're going to be okay."
"Why would I kill myself?"
"Oh uh..." Good question. "I heard people do that sometimes. When they get dumped."
"I'm not going to kill myself."
"Good! Because that's really bad."

We exchanged a few more pleasantries and the request to mail his sweatshirt back, which I never wore at school anyway because it smelled weird (LIKE POT), and within fifteen seconds after hanging up I changed my facebook status to "single."

I can safely say no one I've dated has died as a result of dating me. As for the frequent bumps and bruises and foot-in-mouth clumsiness, well.... that's just an occupational hazard you know going in.

Lorne Michaels if you're reading this hire me for SNL kthanksbai

Friday, August 5, 2011

The "Charm"ing Conversation Incident

So Boob week was a fail. I've been moving, on new medicine for one thing and sick with another thing. I am scattered between three cities - most of my stuff in my hometown, technically moved in at my college-cottage but spending my nights and most of my days at the boyfriend's family abode. End excuse, start story.

I have one piece of jewelry that I wear every day. I have kept up with it for over a year, which is very impressive considering my knack of misplacing and forgetting things. It is a very simple charm on a plain fake-silver chain. I wear a small metal bicycle. 

My beloved bicycle. I guess if this picture extended three
inches lower it would still qualify as "Boob Week" worthy.

It garners a lot of notice for such a plain, drab charm. From the pizza guy at my favorite local shoppe (Second favorite actually, after Bob's Pizza in SoHo - represent!) asking if I'm an avid biker, to the customers at my artsy job asking about its construction and origin, most people notice it and it intrigues them enough to ask. Tonight at dinner, the littlest princess at the house I'm currently living at asked me where I got it. A simple reply, right?

Does acquiring jewelry usually involve a decrepit warehouse, a pervy old man, and advice to enter the adult entertainment industry?

I think not. 

Also, I had no idea how to make the actual story PG appropriate for a seven-year-old girl.

Our story begins many months ago, on a hot late summer day. I had just dyed my short pixie hair a dark brown, and colored in bright red lips. With a black ensemble, I felt very audrey hepburn, old-hollywood glamour. I headed downtown with my dear friend Emme for an afternoon of antiquing and girl time. Emme dates one of my favorite guy friends, and luckily we have a lot in common and were able to develop a friendship outside of our respective (and in my case, now former) significant others.

So antiquing we shall go.

My favorite shop overflowed with thingamabobs and whatchamacallits and really hideous cast-off clothing. Pre-legs Princess Ariel would have loved it. We scavenged like hipster hyenas, but could find nothing salvageable amongst the wreckage. On to the next shop.

This place loomed two-stories tall with more individual "booth" type set ups. Lots of creepy dolls and weird lighting. It holds a set of luggage I have long lusted over but have never bought due to price and practicality. I have awesome luggage. It is hot pink and giraffe print. This set looks like a reject consolation prize from 1970s The Price Is Right. But I slather over it every time. 

Once my luggage lust had been satiated, Emme and I admitted defeat and began to leave. A glimmer on the corner of a counter caught my eye.

Thankfully it was not the moving glass eye of one of the many possessed Depression-Era dolls.

"Charms $1"Scrawled in octogenarian calligraphy on a plain sheet of paper over a small plastic bowl. Inside piled a whole plethora of tiny shapes. Something about everyday objects in delicate miniature, like  Monopoly pieces mixed with magic, captivated me. I immediately picked up a tiny bicycle. 

It seemed so simple and quirky. I rode my bike on occasion - a purple beach cruiser with wide handles. In high school it was my favorite way to relieve stress, after mothering my wild and crazy friends and keeping my emo friends from death's doorstep. At the same time, it was slightly random, a bit odd. Why a bicycle around your neck?

Well, why not?

I held it in my palm as I opened my wallet for the requisite dollar. The old man behind the counter seemed jovial and friendly enough, one of those old indie types who might have been in a psychedelic band sixty years ago. He struck up a conversation.

"That bar in yer ear, did it hurt?"

I love my industrial piercing, and was flattered by the mention.

"Oh no, sir! I've had it forever. Got my bellybutton pierced too, that hurt a little more."
"Got anything else pierced?" That's weird but of course he's not talking about my naughtybits I'm being paranoid. 
"Oh, haha, nope. Just those two."
"Got any tattoos?"
"Ha, uh, nope. Just the piercings."

And then, ladies and gentlemen, the weirdest compliment I have ever received:

"Has anyone ever told you, you look like one of them Suicide Girls? With the dark hair and the makeup.... I bet if you got a couple more tattoos and piercings you could be a Suicide Girl."

I thanked him awkwardly and hurried Emme out of the store. She asked the question that's probably on the mind of 95% of the readers right now:

"R... what's a Suicide Girl?"

Suicide Girls is a softcorn porn site of alt/goth/indie girls, very naughty burlesque / classic pinup. With you know, naughtybits exposed.

A random old guy suggested I looked like I should be in indie porn. 

I thought I'd dressed rather professional and polished that day. But no. Clearly I flashed PORN PORN PORN.

Emme was horrified at his audacity - who just SAYS that kind of thing to a stranger? I just laughed, and told her it would give me a great story to tell when people asked me where I got my charm.

Which it did, of course, but I am not explaining the porno punch line to a second-grader.

So ummm....

"I found it in a downtown castle guarded by a creepy, creepy, CREEPY old man..."