Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Let's get traditional

Yesterday, while running to Hy-Vee for a few basic grocery staples, I was sucked in by the half price Easter candy. Now, I'm not a big candy person, but there are a few things I have a hard time turning down. Pretty much anything foil wrapped is my weakness. Chocolate eggs...Reese's peanut butter cups...yum! So I carefully picked through the mountains of chocolate, selected a few favorites, and skipped merrily on my way.

While consuming just a couple (handfuls) of the brightly foiled chocolates, I began to make a foil ball from the wrappers. It is second nature to do so, and I got to wondering how on earth such a habit had begun.

When I was a kid, we never had Easter egg hunts. Well, I shouldn't say never. I don't remember having them. Mostly because we had pets, and pets get into things. My dog Maggie would have LOVED to get a chance to have some of those treats! Instead, we just had Easter baskets in which candy-filled eggs would magically appear. I was never a fan of jelly beans (Starburst being the exception!), so I concentrated on the chocolates. I'm not sure who started it, but my brother and sister and I would have competitions to see who could make the largest ball of foil. I think we were inspired to PeeWee Herman, who had a giant foil ball (AND a giant rubber band ball). I always thought if I saved my ball of foil for years, maybe I could get one as big as PeeWee's. Of course, if anyone has seen me try to keep track of something for a year...well...it was pretty much a big fail. But I started over with good intentions every year.

We have had some other holiday traditions, but the best was Christmas. Since we first lived in New York, which was 24 hours away from family, and then my dad became a pastor, which made it impossible to travel on Christmas, we created our own little family traditions. We always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas morning. We went in order of age with opening presents, and had to watch each other. This was especially difficult when it was my sister's turn, as it seemed that to rip the paper would result in a Christmas disaster, so she carefully peeled back every bit of tape until she freed each gift.

Now, the absolute BEST part about our Christmas when I was a kid was our practice drills. That's right. Practice drills to check our stockings. See, the rule was that we weren't allowed to go downstairs until 1am to look in our stockings. I guess that's because Santa was scheduled in the window between bedtime and 1am. My brother would run drills with us weeks in advance. My sister and I would pretend to sleep, and he would come in and wake us up, and we would sneak down the stairs, picking out the least creaky parts (the outside edges), and making sure we could get past my parents' bedroom door. I remember feeling so proud when Ben would turn around and tell me he didn't even realize I was behind him I was being so quiet. Good times. It wasn't until years later that Emily and I discovered that Ben actually snuck down and checked out the contents of all of our stockings before waking us up. Punk. Wish I'd thought of it.

Now that I'm all grown up, things like Easter baskets and stocking practice drills are a thing of the past. I'm watching my siblings and their families create their own traditions, and my nieces and nephews create their own memories. I had so much fun watching them hunt for Easter eggs this past weekend. I can't wait to have my own kids someday and create traditions with them as well. A little old and a little new. What are your favorite traditions?

Lyle picked a special container for his hunt.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I am socially awkward

You know those people who can walk into an unfamiliar situation and instinctively know exactly what to say? The right amount of humor to use, the safe topics and taboo. The ones who have never met a stranger, only a potential friend, who everyone loves immediately just because of their aura.

I am not one of those people.

I'm not exactly sure what happens to me in social situations. It's like I forget what basic conversation should sound like. I tend to not speak, which is usually pretty safe, except then I am forever labeled as "the quiet one." It's when I start speaking that the problems really begin. You see, I tend to speak as if everyone in the room is hard of hearing. I haven't found my volume button yet. I also talk very fast. And make stupid statements. My freshman year of college, I was hanging out with some people, and somehow I realized that one of the guys had the same last name as me (though he spelled it wrong.) I hadn't really had this experience before, though I know it is fairly common. So I said (yelled), "Your last name is Olson? MY last name is Olsen!!!!" with a big cheesy grin. Cue the blank stare. "And?" "And..well...I just...uhhh...not used to...uhh..." Awkward...

I am not good at jumping into conversations when there are several people in a group. By the time I carefully formulate in my brain what I want to say, the conversation has moved three topics forward.
Them: I really think the government needs to pay more attention to education spending.
Me: Last time I was in Colorado I went white water rafting!

Part of my problem is that I have quite a bit of crazy that needs to be shored up until people get to know me better. Some may say that it is important to let at least some crazy out so people know what they're getting into, but I can't just let a little out. So I become bland and boring, like toast. "Hey, so this weather is awesome, eh?" "I'm a therapist!" (That's always a conversation stopper...)

Speaking of being a therapist...you'd think I'd be better at conversation as a therapist. It's what I do all day. Between coloring and playing board games and playing with action figures. But most people would take offense if I started asking them if they were naughty this week or not. I mean...I guess I've never tried it...but it's just a hunch that it wouldn't go over well.

So how can I fix it? Practice! Who wants to run social drills with me?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The PK Life, yo

It's Easter. Another holiday, the most important one on the Christian calendar, in my opinion. I spent Saturday and Sunday at my brother's house this year with the rest of my family, and I couldn't help but ruminate (yes, ruminate) on how different holidays are in my family than they were when I was growing up. Yes, I know, duh, because I'm like an adult (psh) and there are Littles running all over and all that, but I grew up a pastor's kid*, or PK. (*May also be referred to as TO, or Theologian's Offspring.)

My dad decided to become a pastor when I was in Kindergarten, and we moved that summer from upstate New York to Iowa. I was too little at the time to realize exactly what that meant. The most important thing to me was that we took a train to get to Iowa. Of course, that dream died as we piled into our two car caravan and headed west. It was kinda like the Oregon Trail. No, really, it was. Anyway, so suddenly life was very different. I grew up not getting to take trips for weekends, or be anywhere else for holidays. My dad was gone almost every evening at one meeting or another.

That's not the point though. The point is the as a PK, you are on the inside track of everything. My dad's first church was a tiny country church, and I had the run of that place. We would play hide and seek or "Indian princesses" in the cemetary, run up and down the aisles in the sanctuary, and make prank calls from my dad's office (sorry, Dad! He doesn't read this anyway...). After communion on Sundays, I would slip down to the kitchen and pilfer the remaining bread and grape juice. Sometimes I would share. I always felt like hot stuff. Everyone knew who I was. That was awesome when I was younger. Not so much when I got to be older, and felt slightly like I was under a microscope.

Holidays were always interesting. I was reminded of this at my church's Good Friday service. Two of the readers were the pastor's wife and oldest son. I remember being roped into doing readings for holidays. Not only readings, but any time special music was needed, I was up to sing, even if I had little warning. Easter morning when I was growing up I wouldn't see my dad until well after the service was over. He was up early and off to his office to do last minute tweaking/practicing.

This morning I got up and my dad was one of the first to wish me a Happy Easter. He gave me a hug, kissed my head, and told me he loved me. Even at 27, those things mean a lot. I know that my dad has touched many people with his preaching. He is amazing. But I'm glad he has moved out of that capacity. I like that my parents can come visit on weekends, and that we can spend holidays doing whatever and know that my dad will be with us every step of the way.

I am a PK for life, and I know that it has helped to make me who I am, but I'm glad for the stage of life my family is in now. Our time in ministry brought us closer together, but being out of ministry has added to that closeness tenfold. My family rocks :)

(PS - So sorry for the last blog entry...I remember thinking it was absolutely hilarious...until the cold meds wore off...)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You're never gonna believe it


So I know it's been a while since my last blog. Apologies. But you'll NEVER believe what happened to me. See, right after I finished my last blog, I was attacked. By ninjas. See, they'd heard about my mad ninja skills, and they whisked me away to their super secret ninja cave hideout tower place thingy and forced me to teach them my ways. Of course, I could have escaped, but I felt so bad for them (they couldn't even go grocery shopping without being seen), so I chose to stay on and help out. I also helped them out with their taxes, which were a MESS. (Even ninjas have to pay taxes.) By the time I got home, my apartment was infested with nargles (shout-out to all the HP fans out there!!!) and my pet alligator had run away. I don't blame her. Nargles are not the best roommates. They never do the dishes or change the toilet paper roll. ANYWAY. By the time I found Eugene (the alligator), she had laid a nest of alligator eggs. They hatched soon after I arrived, and I had to travel around the country and find homes for all the baby gators. (The ninjas have a cuddly new pet!) You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find homes for lil alligators, even when you dress them up in cute outfits. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want a little sailor alligator? Really?

So anyway, I finally got rid of the nargles, Eugene is back in her tub, and now I have a huge mess to clean up.


I told you you wouldn't believe it.

(In completely unrelated news, did I mention I'm on high doses of cold medicine?)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Letting it all hang out

I've made a decision recently. I need to do some things differently in my life, and one of those things is to figure out ways to save time. Somehow time always seems to get away from me. I'm not sure how. I know it has nothing to do with getting sucked into addictive websites or watching seasons of shows on Netflix. I'm totally in control of that time. But for some reason, my apartment isn't getting cleaned, I'm always up so late that I have a hard time getting up in the morning, and my novel and blog are being neglected. I think I'm going to start with small changes. The first thing to go? Showering. That's right. In the olden days, they didn't shower that often, and they all turned out fine! I'm cutting down to once a week. Plus, it's totally green, because it saves water. I'm also going to stop shaving. Because, really, who needs the hassle? I mean, seriously, what do I care if I have hairy legs? And I shouldn't care if it bothers other people. I gotta be free to be me and all that jazz. Plus, once the hair grows long enough, it will get soft and silky, and maybe I can braid it. I'll start a new style! Awesome. I can't wait. Maybe I'll post pictures.


April Fools?

I apologize, that was really dumb. In reality, I really hate this day. Every year I want to call in sick to work and hibernate for all of April 1st. You think I'm paranoid on a day to day basis? (You don't? Oh...well...of course I'm not...) I am the jumpiest and most skeptical person you will run into on April 1st. Everything anyone tells me, I'm like, "Are you for real? Stop trying to trick me!" Today my principal asked me to come into her office and I refused because I was sure it was a joke. I turned off my light and hid under my desk until the knocking stopped. (Okay, not really, but it might have happened that way.) I fully plan to check my car from bumper to bumper when I head over to Katie's house.

I also feel like people use April Fools as an excuse to be cruel. There are lots of pranks that are just plain mean. A kid today called another kid "fatface" and then said it was an April Fool's joke. (I never know if it's April Fool's or April Fools. Punctuation Nazis, help me out here!) Other kids were telling someone their mom was here over and over, so the kid would go check and get in trouble for popping into the office constantly. Again, not funny.

That's not to say that I can't enjoy a good prank. As long as it's funny, and not hurtful. I am a really funny person, in case you didn't notice. In college, my freshman year especially, my friend Nik and I had lots of fun playing "pranks," if you can call them all that. As a floor, we painted a mural of Van Gogh's "A Starry Night." Nik and I printed cow pictures, colored them bright colors, and taped them jumping over the hills. The PA kept taking them down, and it took her a while to figure out who kept replacing them. Nik also had a ceramic squirrel (I don't know why) that was surprisingly lifelike, and we took great pleasure in leaving it random places...especially the shower. Nothing better than hearing someone shriek that a squirrel got into the bathroom. We also enjoyed sending things through campus mail. Sometimes nice things, like tiny playdohs, other times we found wrappers and pages of old papers and loved to comment, "Oh, don't you just hate junk mail?" when the poor unsuspecting friend opened the envelope and it all spilled out. One of my favorites was when we used packing tape to tape entirely over someone's door. We sat in the lounge of the dorm until he came back, just shaking his head. The best part was that he actually really enjoyed it, and stuck things to the other side as decoration. The worst part was that I'm pretty sure it took the paint off the doorjamb. But Nik and I got out of there before it was time for the cleanup ;)

I'm not sure why I hate this "holiday" so much, since clearly I enjoy having fun at the expense of others. But I do. Maybe I'm just waiting for payback...that's definitely a reason to be paranoid...