Friday, December 31, 2010


As I’ve already said, I was a weird homeschooled kid. Though it is perhaps hyperbole to say we were all socially inept, it would probably be accurate to say the majority of us were at least socially awkward. I approached interaction with “real school” kids like aliens might approach an egg beater: with curiosity and trepidation, but without any real knowledge of what the fuck I was supposed to do.
although to be quite honest this is fairly confusing.
Since I also spent a good portion of my childhood camping in the wilds of the better part of North America, I really didn’t have much time to practice these skills until I started taking some classes at the local junior high. Needless to say, I didn’t really fit in. Thankfully, I was too in my own world to really notice. I rather doubt my fellow junior high students had sweet, cheerful comments on my way of dressing/habits/manner of speech.
yes. yes they do.
So perhaps because of my slightly less-than-traditional upbringing, I developed some kind of interesting habits that I still cling to (though I prefer “employ”. It makes me sound more grown up.). Here’s the list of the ones that spring to mind:

1. Reading. A lot.
            I sort of taught myself to read when I was about three years old. People always give me one of two reactions when I reveal this about myself. Either they give me squinty disbelieving eyes, or they look shocked and say “Gosh, you must be really smart!”
I don't like to brag, but I totally have, like, so many things in common with Alfred here.
I don’t think it’s that I’m particularly smart. My parents read to me a lot when I was younger, and I have always loved books in general. I have a very clear, distinct memory of taking a book down from the shelf by our front door, opening it up, and suddenly it all made sense. The letters turned into words, the words into sentences.

It is perhaps the result of sixteen years of practice, but I can also read really fast. What takes most people an hour to read will take me more like 15 or 20 minutes. I’m told my eyeballs move “creepy fast”. Though this may sound like a good thing, it can be rather frustrating, because when I travel I can’t just take one book, because I’ll finish it halfway through the first plane ride. But as far as schoolwork goes, it’s pretty awesome.

Anyway, suffice it to say I read a whole bunch when I was younger (also now, but my social skills are maybe a bit better). This was not really conducive to making friends, except the fictional ones in my books.
but not by much.
 When you’ve got your nose stuck in a book, it makes it very hard for people to talk to you. Plus I used a bunch of big words, which when adults hear a 10 year old using words like “recollection” and “circumstance” they get all impressed and shit. When other 10 year olds hear you using those words, they make fun of you. Ah, the lessons I learned at camp my first year….

2. Talking to myself. Also a lot.
            I have a very overactive imagination. This means I have very interesting dreams, and I am very seldom bored. It also means I talk to myself all the freaking time.

Seriously, I’m not kidding. Ever since I was little, I’ve told myself stories. It wasn’t good enough for me to just read about all these people doing cool things, I wanted to live them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have magic powers or awesome sword fighting skills. So I told stories in which I did. I’ve never managed to finish a story all the way to its conclusion, but I literally could not tell you how many I’ve told. Hundreds. Maybe more. But I don’t just tell them in my head. Oh no. I take it to a whole new level of crazy. I tell them to myself.
but Dr. Pamela Butler thinks it can change your life, so apparently all I need is a field of purple flowers and I'll be fine.
Out loud. When I was little, it was at top volume. I would go on long, meandering walks, just talking to myself. Picture this, if you can: You’re just walking along the sidewalk, minding your own business. All of a sudden, you see this pudgy little blonde boy in flower-print leggings, orange rain boots, glasses, and a black fleece jacket with multi-colored lizards all over it. He’s wandering along, not really appearing to be in any kind of hurry. And he’s talking to himself. Rather loudly. Curious, you listen as you draw closer to him, your paths about to cross. And here is a sample of what you might hear: “…. I laughed scornfully, swinging Elantril in a casual, deadly circle. My long, silky black hair was pulled back in a thick braid, laced with a spiked strap in case any enemy dared seize it. The cowardly wizard crouched before me, muttering his spells. I brushed them away with a wave of my long-fingered graceful hand. ‘Silence, you fool wizard!’ I cried, my voice a thing of feminine beauty. ‘I am here to kill you, imbecile!’
this is totally how I saw myself. also, if you value your retinas, don't Google image search "girl with sword". the internet has a dirty mind.
At this point, you would probably be equal parts fascinated, dying of laughter, wondering if schizophrenia presented itself in such young children, and betting good money this little boy was going to be a cross-dresser/transgender when he got older. And you might also have been impressed with his vocabulary.
and possibly star in Rocky Horror later in life.
Of course, the pudgy blonde boy is actually me. Remember, even Santa thought I was a boy. You might notice the story centered heavily on how pretty and feminine I was. Yeah, that was kind of a recurring theme. I still have issues with the whole long-fingered thing. My actual fingers would probably be better off if you compared them to those little cocktail wieners. But with knuckles.
and this is what you get when you search "cocktail wieners in a can". I refuse to read into that, and now I shall make you look at this picture because I cannot unsee it. and it burns...
Even still, though I don’t really tell myself these stories in public at top volume, I most definitely talk to myself. Especially when I’m traveling alone, I pretty much just run a constant dialogue with myself, occasionally containing arguments between my various pieces of crazy. It certainly makes people give me a wider berth at airports, which is really rather nice.

3. Throwing up on everything that moves.
         Let me clarify this one a little bit first. I don't mean I actually projectile vomit onto moving objects, I mean I get motion sick from pretty much anything I ride. Planes, cars, buses, boats... You name it, it's probably made me throw up. Once, when I was little, my mom, my sister and I were flying back to Wyoming from visiting my grandparents in Louisiana.

It was New Orleans in the middle of the summer, so it was hot and the air probably felt sticky. We were boarding the plane, which had yet to turn its air conditioning on because they're like that. The plane was jammed full of people, and it turned out I had a middle seat, and my mom and sister had an aisle seat. Which meant we trapped some poor, unsuspecting lady by the window. I was probably two, and my sister was one, and most likely crying. After we got settled, I turned cheerfully to the poor soul next to me and stated "Sometimes I barf on airplanes!"
like this, but without the happy man with a sonic cup. and more vomit.
And so I do.

It makes travel not so much fun, for me or the people who have to sit next to me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dancing Parents and Other Strange Phenomena

The other night I went to a Christmas party. But it wasn't just any Christmas party! Oh no, this was a NOLS Christmas party. Which means there were lots of people who were very excited to tell me just how much I'd grown since they'd seen me last, and how they remember when I was just knee high to a grasshopper.
thank Jesus this is only a cutesy (obnoxious) saying, because can you imagine how terrifying that would actually be? gah. no thank you.
Then they want to know what I'm majoring in at school, to which my answer is always a sort of stuttered "Uh, um, well, I'm not really sure yet..." And then the conversation often peters out, and we both sort of stand there awkwardly, too polite to abandon the sinking ship that is our discourse.
like this. even rats know to abandon this shit.
Don't get me wrong, not all of the conversations I had tonight were like that. Many, in fact, were quite pleasant. I even got to meet some people that actually read this humble blog of mine, which was actually super exciting for me. Dear readers, if you're one of the people I talked to last night, (excluding my father. sorry Dad, you're not all that exciting) I was ridiculously thrilled to hear you read and enjoy my thought-vomit that I call a blog. I'm not entirely sure how you manage to follow my cracked-out squirrel brain farts, but apparently you've figured out a way. *note: I am not actually cracked out, I promise. Nor am I really a squirrel.*
... most of the time...
Ah, and then there was the dancing. The only thing more awkward than trying desperately to hold up a conversation with recycled bits on the weather and fern slug mating habits (it's one of my fallback conversation pieces) is to have this happen while over the other person's shoulder you can see your mother dancing in eyes-closed bliss to Patti Fiasco (a fabulous band from Laramie, WY. they rock my socks. see their awesomeness here or here) I love both my mother and the Patti Fiasco, but I find it very difficult to keep a straight face when my mother is determined to destroy my love for both of these things with her dance moves.
instead of subjecting you to a picture of my mother dancing, here instead is a blurry picture of The Patti Fiasco, jamming out. I like the way the lead singer rocks out while she sings. it kinda makes my day.
No, I kid. Her dancing wasn't really that bad.

Plus there was kind of an epic dance-off to Michael Jackson's Thriller in between sets. I saw some most excellent moon walking.
why is it called moonwalking? if you were on the moon, would you really walk like this? it just doesn't seem likely.

Now please excuse me while I tell you all about how good the parties used to be back in the day.
just one more reason I'd be an excellent old person.
When I was a kid, the Nols party was always something to look forward to. It was far more kid friendly then, and there were probably more small children there than there were adults. That's the way I remember it, anyway. My sister and I would spend the majority of the party running around exploring every nook and cranny of the Noble Hotel, from creepy unfinished basement area to the top floors where we weren't supposed to go. Of course, this was before they put in all that fancy stuff like elevators and foosball tables, so pretty much the only source of entertainment was the phone booths and the forbidden quality of going up to the third and fourth floors.

And, of course, there was Santa. At the old (good) parties, Santa actually showed up and gave everyone presents. It was amazing. He'd sit on the stairs in the main room, and ho-ho-ho his way along as he handed out presents wrapped just like your mom wraps them. A friend of mine got a slinky two years in a row, but hey- there were a lot of us! How do you expect him to keep track?

... or was there another reason?
*Ok, so this next bit is actually kind of straying from the immediate topic, but staying on the general topic of Christmas parties.

Some friends of ours usually have an annual holiday party a week and half or so before Christmas. They didn't this year because their oldest daughter is studying abroad in Ireland, and that's where they'll all be for the holidays this year. But anyway, theirs was also a party at which Santa made an appearance. You got to sit on his lap, lie to his face- *ahem, I mean- tell him you'd been good, and then he'd hand you a present with your name in your mom's handwriting on it.

*Quick backstory: from when I was about 8 to when I was about 13, I looked like a boy. A lot. End backstory*

So it's finally my turn to go up and sit on Santa's lap and get my present. Of course, all the parents are watching and taking pictures, and all the kids are gathered round, rehearsing their Christmas wish lists. He plops me down on his lap (I think I was probably 12 or so) and says in that big booming jolly Santa voice "And what would you like for Christmas, young man?"
no seriously, I looked like a boy. this is me. like 8 years ago. ish. I told you so.
I sort of froze. Deep in my heart, I knew this wasn't really Santa. His beard smelled like plastic, and he was wearing sneakers. But, at the same time, I could hardly bring myself to correct the man myself. That would practically be sacrilegious! So I sort of stammered under my breath "Uh, well, actually, I'm a girl..."

And then it was just awkward for everybody. Except all those watching, who were probably in stitches. Damnit.
FAKE! I call shenanigans.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wally-World and the Aisle of Pink

Today I went to Wal-Mart. I hear you gasp with horror, imaginary readers, so I'll tell you exactly why I ventured to the land of cheap plastic crap and such tantalizingly low prices.
My mommy asked me to run some errands for her. So I did.
Also, I was pretty bored.
sadly, this bored
Don't get me wrong, imaginary readers. I love being home for the holidays. I love sleeping in my big bed with nice sheets, I love not having to stress about homework and finals, and I love curling up on the couch in front of the fire and with my cat, bathed in the multi-colored glow from our Christmas tree.
That being said, I don't have an awful lot to do everyday. As I already told y'all about, I've been waking up pretty early (for me, at any rate) lately, and I tend to exhaust my internet-surfing attention span at about 10:30 or 11 am.
you can only look at so many lolcatz before you have to move on.
And then... I kind of do nothing. Which can be relaxing, but after a while I get pretty bored. There are only so many times I can re-read the Tamora Pierce books, after all.
I have literally read this about 1.8 million times. If you haven't read it, I'm not sure we can be friends any more.
So I've been running errands for my mom. Which is actually kind of entertaining. I get to drive around in the Prius with Mumford & Sons or Florence + The Machine blasting at top volume (I'm kind of a gangster, in case you were wondering) and perusing the shelves at Safeway for the best deals on canned black beans and orange juice. For some reason, I quite enjoy these things. It's things like these that make me feel as though I'll make an excellent crazy old cat lady some day.
"What do you mean you don't take coupons here? I have a coupon for .30 cents off prune juice, by God! Mr. Fluffers needs to be regular too, you know. Ya fuckin hippy."
Anyway, I went to Wal-Mart today, which for those of you who don't know, means a 30-minute drive to Riverton. I also enjoy the drive over there, mostly because I enjoy singing along to the Dixie Chicks at the top of my lungs without anyone judging me. My mom wanted me to buy a gift for the daughter of some family friends of ours (she's 3), as well as some newborn baby stuff for one of her students. Also salsa. But not for the baby.

unless it was this baby.
I remember being enamored with the Wal-Mart toy aisles when I was younger. It was like a magical Santa's wonderland, but made of shiny plastic and dreams. However, when I ventured to the back of the store in search of an appropriate 3-year-old girl toy that wouldn't require me to sell a kidney, I was instantly accosted by a sea of pink and glitter. To be honest, it's a little nauseating. All those big-eyed, big-boobed, wasp-waisted fashion conscious dolls kinda give me the creeps. Plus, all the toys aimed at boys are so darn cool! They explode, and they race and make cool sounds, and they have like an entire section dedicated to dinosaurs. And then they give the girls things like "Moxie Girlz- Be True! Be You!"
give me a break. the only thing this is "true" to is consumerism and eating disorders. also freakishly large heads.
Also, all those animatronic toys that move and talk when you walk past them make me want to freak out and jump on them until they stop moving while screaming "It's alive! My god it's alive! Kill it, kill it!"

Which I consent would probably be a terrible idea, as well as perhaps a bit of an overreaction. There's just something about those "Fur Real" pets that purr and move their legs when you stroke their backs that freaks me the fuck out. Just get a real cat! Or a stuffed animal that you can actually snuggle with and play with without fearing you'll break all it's delicate poky electrical parts. And don't even get me started on the moving dolls. *shudder*

this is a doll. a freakish, horrible, horrifying, terrible doll.
But then there was the baby aisle. Lord have mercy, I know I've said I don't want to have a baby any time soon, but I can't help but have an estrogen meltdown when I go buy baby things. All of the little clothes are just so darn cute! I kind of got carried away... Though I don't actually want a baby of my own, I just want to steal someone else's and dress it in cute tiny outfits for awhile. Then I'll give it back when it poops its pants.
as I hear that they sometimes do.
So the moral of this post is... I don't know. I have issues, probably. Also the whole gender-stereotyped toy thing kinda bugs me. Also I really want a dinosaur for Christmas.
preferably one big enough to ride.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home at Last

I made it through my finals and back to Wyoming without much trouble, which is fantastic. Finals week always stresses me out unnecessarily- I get all panicky and psych myself out, and then my poor stressed brain decides a good way to cope with this would be to not get any sleep whatsoever.

But I'm finally home, which means I have my room all to myself and - wait, is that meowing at the door? Oh, it's my cat, Owen. Sure, you can come in. You want to sleep on my face? Um, I'd rather you'd move down further... Ouch! Ok, fine, you can sleep there. Please don't suffocate me in the night. Then I'd miss Christmas and that would be super unfortunate.

*4 1/2 hours later*

"... coming up next on NPR, our reporters take a look at how goddamn stupid Sarah Palin is, and then we look at the shortcomings of the Republican party in general. Isn't being liberal grand? This message was brought to you by generous donations from the Arthur P. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation."
Wah? Snort... Cat in my face... What time is it?Oh god, it's not even 6 am. Must my parents have their NPR alarm be so loud? 
It's fine, it's fine, I'll just go back to sleep. No big deal.

*45 minutes later*

Sweet Jesus what is that! God, my ears are bleeding! Why is my bed shaking? It's like someone interrupted my dreams of sugarplums and gingerbread to show me their baby-seal clubbing music while simultaneously killing my hopes for world peace!
Oh, no wait. It's my sister, playing music while she gets ready to go to school this morning. With the bass on our stereo turned up to "kill the unborn".
Ok, I'll just wait for it to stop and her to go to school.

*30 minutes later*


Fuck it. I'm getting up.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mowgli Ain't Got Nuthin On Me

You know how there are “Army Brats”? You know, children of military families who grow up all over the place due to being dragged from base to base, have their own lingo due to the abundance of military terms used in their household, and band together and form little posses?
also, they enjoy European football and being poor losers.
That was my childhood. Except instead of being an Army Brat, I was a NOLS Brat. If you don’t know what NOLS is, go here:
Basically, if you’re too lazy to click on the link and still don’t know what NOLS is, it stands for National Outdoor Leadership School, and it’s a non-profit organization that leads expeditions of people on wilderness experiences for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. It has branches all over the world, from Wyoming to India and just about everywhere in between. If that explanation confuses you, too bad. Click the link, whiner.
or you could just look at the pretty picture/logo
So anyway, both of my parents worked for NOLS. That’s how they met- they were instructors on a course together. My dad still works for NOLS, actually, though my mom is now the math teacher at the alternative high school in my hometown.

This means that, much like the military kids, I grew up with a sort of cultish subculture in rural Wyoming. (K, maybe “cultish” is a little extreme) The first time I went camping was probably before I could walk (I don’t remember, ‘cause I was probably like 2 months old), and I have a very distinct memory of catching my first fish when I think was about 5 or 6. I remember standing on the bank of some creek in the sun in my awesome orange rainboots, and feeling the tug on the line that meant a fish was nibbling. When I finally landed it (pretty sure it was a brooktrout) I was ecstatic. In my memory, the fish is like 8 times as long as my arm, but I’m pretty sure that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, it was a great day.
like this one, but HUGE. kinda Jaws status, actually.
Like I’ve already told you, much of my childhood in the winter was spent in the middle of nowhere in Utah. Approximately 4/8ths (yes, I am aware this equals ½) of the rest of it was spent in the Rocky Mountains, and the other 9/12ths (once again, I know my fractions are off. It’s a humorous math mistake, duh!) was spent in the Yukon Territory in Canada. It was sort of like being raised by well-traveled wolves, minus the uncooked elk meat. (usually)
Mom? Dad?
When I was 8, my dad accepted a job that would take all of us up to the Yukon with him for 5 months out of the year, in the summer time. At the time, my mom was working for Nols as an editor/contributor of their news publication, and so could telecommute by emailing things back to Wyoming. And so for 6 years of my life, we would make the long drive up to Whitehorse, YT in early April, traveling in our huge black truck (a.k.a. The Prairie Schooner, as my dad christened it) through the windswept plains of Montana and Alberta, winding through the chilly forests of British Columbia, and into the sparsely populated stark beauty of the Yukon.
also, Mounties! (thanks for the picture Dad)
Once there, my dad would usually be incredibly busy trying to run a Nols branch out of a pink-floored warehouse, and my mom, my sister and me to explore the wilds of the North.

I have too many fantastic memories of those six summers of my life to attempt to cram them all into one (already long) blog post, so let this be a little teaser:
This one time, I almost got eaten by a bear. True story. More to follow.
this could have been the last thing I saw!
click there to see more wonderful photos my dad has taken. sadly, he did not take the bear picture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dead Week Kills Me

Remember how I said I don't sleep and then become some sort of cracked-out squirrel child?
I wasn't kidding. I haven't slept in like 27 hours because my brain is on hyper drive and I CANNOT GO TO SLEEP!
So instead I drink lots of green tea and bounce around my apartment like a rubber ball filled with Mexican jumping beans.

Also, my parents sent me a box full of awesome stuff as a finals care package, and it included 7 Advent calendar items. Remember how I told you about our amazing Advent calendar? It's become mobile.

And I opened the December 3rd item, and it was a magical fairy wand but also a Glow Stick! (I capitalize because that's how excited I am about it.) Also my hyperness makes me want to type everything in all caps, but I refrain because I don't want you to feel as though I'm yelling at you.
This is how hyper/excited I am:

in my right hand in the magical glowstick of awesomeness. in my left is a tiny reindeer I have christened Garfunkel. pay him no heed, he didn't come in the Christmas/finals box. he was just excited too and wanted to be in the picture.
Yep. That hyper.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Lily Pad Incident

So we would go on these long epic trips down to Utah for long stretches of time, which was fantastic. However, it did mean we got rather dirty with no real way to shower. Oh, we had one of those stupid "solar shower" things, but those don't really work for crap.
like this. for those who are unfamiliar with the concept, you put water in the bag and then let it heat up in the sun. then you shower in the lukewarm miserly drizzle that trickles from the tiny stupid spigot.
There were times when I think my sister and I resembled red-dusted little hobgoblins. Plus, even in Utah, the streams feel like glacial runoff, which isn't really something you want to bathe in. So on occasion, we would venture into civilization in search of public pools. Those were great because you could get clean and play around, plus people generally didn't notice if you were a little too dusty. You learned to move around when you were in the water, because a spreading cloud of rusty sand particles drifting away from you was always rather suspicious.
"let's go swimming, Mom!"
Anyway, we went to this one pool that was really awesome. I don't remember where it was, but it was fantastic. It had all sorts of different things to play on, and slides, and swings and the like. It was great. Possibly one of the most fun features was a set of giant floating "lily pads" made out of foam. They were chained loosely to the bottom of the pool, so when you jumped on them, they moved around a good bit, but not too far. Then there was a network of ropes over them, so you could grab on to something as you jumped, making for more stable footing- the things were pretty difficult to stay on. They were slippery and moved more than you thought they would. My sister and I were having a blast- challenging each other to see who could make it across the stretch of pool without falling off, playing chicken, things like that. It was awesome.
Google did not understand what I meant when I said "pool toy floating lily pad" so instead I present to you this picture of an ugly, ugly fake frog floating on a lily pad. Enjoy.
And then my dad decided he'd join in the fun. So he swaggers over to check out the whole lily pad set up. My sister and I, worried for his elderly well-being, try to give him a little coaching, since we ourselves were essentially experts by that time.
"Ok now Dad, these are really trickier than they look. We really would recommend that you stay quite low, and try to seize the ropes overhead when you go in for a jump." (so I might not have said exactly this, but it was probably pretty close...)
My dad nods, and studies the situation before him. Then he takes a deep breath, and proclaims loudly for the entire pool to hear: "ROPES ARE FOR WEENIES!" and makes a death-defying leap for the first lily pad.

It didn't end so well.

He hit the first lily pad with a smack like someone threw a fish on a concrete floor, and then the whole thing tipped, and he slid, defeated, into the water. My sister and I looked at each other, looked back at my dad, and then started laughing so hard we could barely breathe.
yeah, like this fish. feel bad for laughing now?
To this day, "ropes are for weenies" is a common utterance in our household, usually said right before someone does something they might not be quite equipped to handle.