Saturday, May 22, 2010

Like slipping on a banana peel

My toe hurts. The little one. Yesterday it hurt so bad I was convinced it was broken. Why, you ask? Well, as I was stepping through the doorway to my apartment building after work yesterday, hands full of crap, as usual, the mat, usually meant to keep people from slipping, slid right across the floor, my foot right along with it. This started the inevitable house of cards collapse, with the house of cards being me in this case, of course. I went down hard, phones flying, foot twisting, knee skinning. I'm also pretty sure it happened in slow motion, as my falls tend to do. I lay in shock on the floor for a few seconds, then quickly (well, as quickly as possible) got to my feet and limped up the stairs to my apartment. Thank goodness no one saw...I don't think... (unless of course it was a setup and someone cleaned the floor with Pledge so the mat would slip and catch the first schmuck unlucky enough to step on it and it was caught on video, to be shown on a hidden camera show at a later date and time...but that's just the paranoid version)

Really I think it was a cosmic sign that I should write a blog that I have been planning to write for a long time. One based entirely on the embarrassing moments that we all cringe to think about, but yet are essential to the health of our humor. I have been sitting here all night giggling to myself (not as crazy as it sounds) as I wrote some of this post in my head, as more and more moments of potential embarrassment flitted through my memory. I'm glad that my tolerance for embarrassment is fairly high, because I have realized that I fall down a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Seriously. Just a few examples...

- Freshman year of college. I had a night class, Spanish, in the Humanities building with my roommate, Kaija. It was on the third floor. After class one night, I was at the head of the heard descending the stairs when I took a misstep and stumbled down the last couple of steps to the landing below. I ended up on all fours, with my hair surrounding my face. Kaija was at my side in an instant, concerned because I was shaking, and she thought I was crying. Nope. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe or sit up. Still makes me giggle.

- Freshman year, terrible ice storm. Walking with two other girls to the Madsen Center, holding on to each other for support. I slipped, taking one of the girls down with me. The other one let go to save herself. Smart girl. My butt was sore for days.

- Graduation day from Augustana. Lunch at the Ground Round. My family was already gathered on the upper seating platform. Three measley steps. And I fell up them. In slow motion. My brother still rolls on the floor laughing when reliving this story.

- Orchard Place. Before the upstairs waiting room was used. Carrying a load of junk up, my toe catches and I, once again, fall up the stairs. Of course, the usually empty room had at least five people there to witness my tumble.

- Yankton, SD. Playing at a park before a friend's wedding, taking pictures. I step in a hole and go down. Yet another time my falling is described as being in slow motion. Kristen made me reenact it for picture-taking purposes.

So yes. I fall a lot. And I love it. It makes for such good stories! The above ones are only the ones I can remember right now. I'm sure there are many many more. Embarrassing moments build character. I think we need to be able to laugh at ourselves, to not take everything so seriously. Not all my embarrassing moments involve falling. There was the time I got stuck in the car wash, or getting stuck between glass doors at a friend's apartment. Being forced to role play in staffing, or any of the random idiotic things I tend to say on a daily basis. I love it.

What are you most embarrassing moments? Do you mind if I laugh at (with) you? I showed you show me yours! ;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There's no place like home...or home...or home...

"Where are you from?" Other than, "What's your name." this is probably the most common question people ask when they first meet someone. And it's a question I have always dreaded. Because I think waaay too much, I always go into a tailspin when I know this question is coming. Do I tell them where I was born? Where I lived the longest? Where I graduated high school? The last place I lived? Where my parents live? Or any of the others in between? "It's complicated," I usually reply with a smile. "Right now, I'm from here." Growing up with a pastor for a father, there wasn't much time to put down roots. In my life, I have lived in 7 different towns (plus a couple random summers elsewhere) in four different states. I attended four schools K-12. It was always strange to me that people had lived in one place for their entire lives. That they had known the people they went to school with since preschool. That they had family living in their town.

I was talking with my dad the other day, and he brought up a good point. When we moved from the midwest to New York, it was a turning point for our family. It really forced us to rely on each other, to become our own little solid unit, because we were a good 24 hours from the familiarity of Minnesota. Even though I was young, I think this was the time that I really solidified my idea of "home" as being wherever my family was, rather than a childhood house. When my friends say they are going "home," they typically mean to the house in which they spent most of their early lives. When a lot of people picture "home," they see a house, an old bedroom, the creaky swing on the porch. I see the faces of my family, and now my friends.

I was thinking about this as I drove home from visiting my dear friend Kristen in the cities this weekend. Yes, I was driving home...home to my apartment, where I sleep most nights, where I keep my things...but I was also leaving home, because Kristen is home to me. I am as comfortable at her house as my own, even as where she has lived has changed, because she hasn't changed. My sister's house is home. I am there frequently, and know my way around her kitchen almost as well as my own (sometimes better). My parent's house is home. They have moved out of the town where I graduated high school, but they are home to me, no matter where they live. My brother's house is home. I have homes in Denver and Kansas City, in Indianpolis and Minneapolis. And many other places. As long as I'm with those I love, I am home.

I used to think I couldn't leave this place, that I had to live near my family forever. And maybe I will. I don't know. But if I don't, I know I will always be connected with them in ways that distance cannot touch. And they will always be my home.

(It's okay to cry. Phyllis.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What would you do?

Last night I watched a very interesting show on ABC called "What Would You Do?" In this show, they create situations using actors and see how people respond. I was so fascinated by the show that I took notes. I am such a nerd.

The first situation was with a drunk girl in a bar. She kept asking for more shots, and then a guy came up and started flirting and touching her, and eventually tried to get her to leave with him. For the most part, people stopped them from leaving, thank goodness, though not always. There was one couple where the guy wanted to do something, and his wife was like, "Don't get involved." They changed it up a bit and had the girl appear as more of a "party girl," dressed more provactively and being louder. People still tried to stop the guy from leaving with her, but the appalling thing was that some guys actually gave him tips on how to get her out. There was one guy who told the guy he would tell her friends she left when they got there. The worst was a couple of married guys who kept saying they wished they were single and then gave the guy ideas of how to lure her out of the bar and where to take her. The very worst part? One of them was an off-duty cop. His excuse was that it could get complicated if he had gotten involved as an off-duty cop. Disgusting.

For the second segment, they had a bike chained to a sign and a white kid very obviously trying to steal it. He was sawing away at the chain. Only a few people even stopped to ask him if it was his bike, and even after he told them it wasn't, most of those moved on. A couple threatened to call the police, but of over a hundred people who passed, only 1 or 2 actually tried to stop him. Next, they switched out the white kid for a black kid, same age, dressed the same. And almost everyone stopped! There was a crowd that formed, and people called the cops and took pictures with their phones. Crazy, but sadly not that surprising. What shocked me the most was the last switch they did. They changed it from a black boy to a hot white girl. Not one person tried to call the cops on her, even when she confessed to stealing the bike. In fact...several men stopped and tried to help her! No joke! One woman stopped and was looking like she was going to do something, and he husband rode right on past and offered to help the girl steal it. Ridiculous. An expert was interviewed and he explained it by saying that as a society, we see beauty as meaning health and goodness. He said that the thought process is, "Beautiful is good, so how can a good person be bad?" I have actually done research on this topic. I think I maybe mentioned it in a previous entry. From the time we are young, we are treated according to our looks by most people, and we learn to act in accordance with other people's views. It makes me really really sad.

The third segment involved lottery fraud. A woman brought a ticket into a shop to get it checked, then stepped away from the counter to grab something. The ticket came up as winner, and the clerk pocketed the ticket and the money. When the winnings were just $20, no one who witnessed it said anything, and some people even lied to the woman when she came back, agreeing with the clerk that it was not a winning ticket. They upped the stakes so that the prize was $290, and still not many people would get involved. A couple did, which was good. Then they had the clerk offer to split the winnings if the customer would stay quiet. Several people agreed! One guy made me cry though. He stood up for that woman and got really heated about it. When interviewed it turned out he was out of work and having trouble collecting unemployment. He could have easily agreed to split the winnings, and goodness knows he could have used it. His words, "It's so easy to hate, and so hard to love." He said we should all try to love each other more, especially these days, in these times. Really did bring tears to my eyes.

The final situation was a store manager harrassing a group of three black teenagers. She made statements like, "People like you," and said that even if they hadn't stolen anything yet it was only a matter of time. They were kicked out of the store after being frisked by the security guard. Some people did step in, and got pretty heated about it. However, out of 100 people who witnessed this atrocity, only 16 stepped in. The girls, who were actresses, were affected by it, even though they were in on the whole thing. Sad that racism is alive and well in the 21st century. Guess we haven't come as far as some people would like to think.

So reflecting on the show last night, I had to wonder, how would I react to any of these situations? While I'd like to think I would step in, I really don't know. There is so much paranoia about getting involved these days. If I approach a bike thief, am I going to get hurt? I hate confrontation. Would I be able to stand up for people being abused or would I stand by and whisper to my friends about how appalling it is without saying a word? There have been times in stores when I've seen parents screaming at their children. I think it's appalling, yet I walk away. Because it's not my place to get involved, right? This is going to take a bit more self-reflection...

I always have to think about how we as a society have all become less helpful and more selfish and self-focused. We rarely smile at each other, usually choosing to focus on the floor as we sweep by, intent on finishing our own business. Cashiers, waiters...they are not people, just vehicles by which our needs are met. And our business is always more important. Even though someone else may have come in first, I'm going to hop to the available cashier without offering the open spot to the person who has been waiting longer. Traffic is terrible, people weaving in and out, tailgating because their lives are so much more important. The other day I had to handle an emergency, and was running very late to a session. There was construction downtown, and people were flying by in the lane that closed up ahead and cutting in, causing those of us waiting in line to have to sit through several cycles at lights. There is an overabundance of discourtesy and just plain rudeness. It's disheartening a lot of days.

There are people who give me hope. There are people who will step in and stand up for what's right. There are people who will give a smile no matter what. Those cashiers who have been on their feets all day and still have a smile. My dad is someone like this. Not a cashier, but someone who has never met a stranger, who puts people at ease no matter what, who can easily converse with people from all different walks of life. I wish to be more like these people, to get over my own stuff, my own shyness and inward focus, and become more outward focused. To smile at strangers. To step in where someone is being treated unfairly. And I challenge anyone who reads this to do the same.

(Sidenote: Ever since watching that show, I have had the song from the Nickelodeon show "What Would You Do?" in my head. What what what would you, what what what would you do?)

Monday, May 3, 2010

To sleep, perchance to dream

I love sleep. Strangely, I'm not a napper though. I don't like to feel like I'm missing out on things, so sleeping during the day isn't always my favorite. However, I do love to sleep, mostly because I have the most entertaining, most random, most vivid, funniest dreams ever. Seriously. They're awesome.

When I was little, I had a recurring dream that whenever my brother and sister pulled on my dad's arms, he morphed into Jabba the Hut from Star Wars. I still have flashes of memory of them on the stairs and my parents' bedroom getting ready to pull, although in my dream I always ran away before it happened. Don't ask me how I knew what happened since I never actually saw it. Dream esp I guess. I also once had a very vivid dream that there was a fairy tale land in my ceiling and the tortise and the hare pulled me up to give me a tour. The most random part about this dream is that I dreamt that they dropped me back through a ceiling panel at the end, and I woke up under that very tile, on the other side of my bed's headboard. Creepy, right?

I often dream that I am being chased, but usually I'm super fast and can jump really high. Like a superhero. I have also been known to have dreams that came true, such as when I dreamt my sister was pregnant and asked her about it right after they found out about Allie, or when I dreamt that my sister-in-law would have a girl when she was pregnant with Siri. It's true, I'm psychic sometimes.

My dreams tend to occur in the same places. If I have scary dreams, they almost always happen in the house we lived in in Rockwell City, Iowa. Considering what went on in our time there, it's not too surprising. A lot of times I find myself back at school, either high school or college. One time right after I started college I had a dream that I was back in high school, but had my college textbooks, and they were too big to fit in my high school locker. I know. Deep, right?

Last night I had a dream that I was pregnant. Like, almost ready to pop pregnant. And I was at my grandparents' old "house on the hill" in Windom, MN. In my dream, I changed my mind about having a baby. I decided it would hurt too much, so I didn't want to do it anymore. (Strangely, this isn't the first time I've had a dream where I was going to have a baby and changed my mind at the last second...that time it took place in the Administration building at Augie, where I worked throughout college.) Anyway, unlike other pregnancy dreams (there aren't that many, honest...) I actually knew who the father was. Oh wow that sounds horrible. I just mean that in this dream that part actually played into the plot. How? Well, I was trying to text him to let him know. Except the way I was texting was a little strange. I had to press the letters of the message individually into a stamp pad. They would stay for a while, and then disappear, and the response would appear. My mind works in strange ways. Fortunately, the dream ended before I had to give birth. Not quite ready for that yet!

Phyllis has a book that is supposed to help interpret dreams. Phyllis, what does this dream mean???

What are your funniest/most memorable dreams? Do you believe in prophetic dreams, or finding meaning in them? Or are they just random firings in the brain? Your brain's way of processing information?

Mmmm, all this talk about dreaming is making me sleepy. Can't wait to see what's on the brain tube tonight!