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.

EWW EWW OH MY GOD GROSS EWW FREAK OUT NOW.

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?

WRONG.

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.