Prelude to a Friendship.. Part One

The Friendship Face-Off
Okay, so my closest friend, K. (see Iowa post) and I are approaching our ten year anniversary. I decided to dedicate a series of posts to our commemorative meeting sophmore year in Spanish class.. It’s eerie how people can be so close to meeting each other, but never do. Luckily, we talked about ourselves incessantly, and so quickly put together the many pieces leading up to that earth shattering moment. I demanded that K. add her side of the story as well, and have been very bossy in my new role as Editor-in-Chief.

Year: 1997, two years prior to Manolo’s Spanish IV class
Location: TPAC, Topeka KS
Show: Grease

K: My first ‘real’ experience with live theatre was going to a performance of Grease. I loved the movie when I was young —

Carrie: And hasn’t stopped doing the gun-at-the-hips dance move since. Sorry, keep going.
K: So I loved the movie and couldn’t wait to see the musical. My mom, sister, and I drove all the way to Topeka for the big show. We even got to eat at the Red Lobster.. which was a treat since Pinky’s was the only restaurant [a term used very loosely] in Courtland, KS. Nevermind that I ate my weight in shrimp scampi, threw up, and have never eaten there since. But I digress.

We arrived at the theatre, and oh my gosh how exciting it was! The lights, the performers, the music. I was in sensory overload. …And then, they announced that there would be —

Carrie: Wait!! I have to lead up to my experience. My mom won two tickets through her work to go see Grease and I was the lucky child who got to go. I didn’t know if it was because she knew I’d like it or because she felt guilty for forcing me to try out for ‘The Wizard of Oz” a few years prior. [Side note: The role of Dorothy had already been taken and so I was auditioning with 18 ‘little people’. Horrifying.]

K: Isn’t that when you sang “It’s a Grand Ole Flag”? You know… to show off your range?

Carrie: [Carrie rolls her eyes in an attempt to look like she’s annoyed that the detail was brought up, but is secretly glad that the focus is still on her.] Yeah, I didn’t have music. So I took my pre-fetus level piano book and pounded away at the keys while recording myself on a cassette tape. When I got to the audition, the lady did a slightly fancier version and I had no idea it was even the same song. Now I digress.

So we’re in the audience, whey they announce “There will be a Grease Dance-Off starting in a few minutes. Please come up to the stage if you’d like to participate.” A dance off?? Is this a dream?? So I turn to my mom and begin the list of reasons why she needs to do this with me, starting with “Remember when you never let me…” and ending with “..So you owe me this.” —

K:I so wanted to do it… but couldn’t convince anyone to go with me on stage, so I had to settle with watching all the contestants take the stage. That’s when I noticed them. A mother-daughter team…

Carrie: Me!

K: …dancing like they’ve never danced before. I kept my eyes on them, rooting for them all the way.

Carrie: Are you kidding, K? This has never been added to the story before. Don’t feel like you have to embellish for the blog’s sake. I know you were routing for the two 7 year olds. They were so quick on their feet.

K: The contestants slowly began dwindling as team by team were asked to leave the stage.

Carrie: Wait, wait. Now I know you’re either being sarcastic or can’t remember. My mom and I got 5th place. Out of five. It just wasn’t our night, guys. Our arms never really locked into place during the pretzel, and I stepped on her toe during the Cha-Cha.

K: Well, I do remember that you guys danced as if your lives depended on it. Maybe it did, for all I knew.

Carrie: What, like there was a bomb attached to one of us and we couldn’t dance below 55 mph?

K: Well, you do look like Sandra Bullock from the balcony.
… Stay tuned for part two of “Prelude to a Friendship”

Tree Hugger

There are certain trees that make me catch my breath every time I see them. They’re magical to me in a way similar to how ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ or ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ made me feel when I was young.

First, the Weeping Willow. Nothing says whimsical like this tree. Pond is optional. I’d rather swing below it’s branches.

Some type of fir tree. I don’t know the name of this specific one. But everything is droopy. It reminds of an old man, hanging in there with old age. Even though this one has some dead branches throughout, it adds to the elderly image.
They look like gray bushy eyebrows.

And to round out my magical forest, all trees must have a moss-covered trunk.

Riding off…

..into the Arkansas sunset?

As some of you may already know, R. accepted a position in NW Arkansas. Believe it or not, one of my first reactions was: “Well, at least my blog title will fit.” I brainstormed with friends tonight over Dairy Queen & wine. We decided to create “Banjo Hero”. A knock off of ‘Guitar Hero’ for my friends in the back country. S. had the great idea of “Harp Hero” and then proceeded to intensely play an imaginary harp.

And then reality hit. Selling the house, finding a home, leaving my newfound job that I really enjoy, and finding a new job. We’ve decided to rent for awhile and can I do a stage whisper and say how much I am looking forward to that? No mowing, no repairs…just write a check and you’re done. There is so much beauty in that prospect.

Some more positive residue comes in the form of craigslist. I’m going to start my furniture replacement plan as soon as possible. Most of our current stuff/crap will be sold. And more will be bought at antique stores. I’ll finally get the art deco waterfall vanity I’ve been eyeing.

Also, I always enjoy going to Wichita and staying with R’s parents. Waking up and leisurely having breakfast. Now, when we make trips back here, we’ll have to do the same with my parents. It makes visits all the more cozy and special.

So anyway, wish us luck on our voyage into the backhills of Arkansas. I’ll make sure to post pics frequently so you can keep track of my remaining teeth. I’m afraid as soon as I pass the border they’ll all fall out and my shoes will fly off my feet permanently. Of course, you know I’m kidding. It’s supposed to be a beautiful area and I’m excited for the new adventures we’ll experience. No, that wasn’t a robot talking. I’m not a stepford wife.

Zooboringology: The study of dull zoo photos

Look. I’m the first to admit that looking at zoo photos are not exciting. But the St. Louis zoo is so much more than just animals. It’s a stroll through a park where you happen upon lions & penguins. Best of all, it’s free.

We headed down the day after roller coasters….. leisurely, due to the heavy rains that morning. Note to self: plan vacations around storms. We arrived at the zoo/park and were literally the only ones wandering around for a few hours. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice walk in the rain? I do, as long as I have appropriate shielding. The hood to head ratio of a rain jacket is so crucial. If head is too big and hood is too small, disaster could strike. You know, like runny mascara. I foresaw my fate and asked R. if we could switch jackets since he was wearing a baseball cap. He finally agreed.

You can’t hear him muttering, but believe me, he was.
The rain stopped shortly after we left the building and so had to exchange jackets once again. I really don’t know why I shared that experience. Maybe to oil you up for the onslaught of zoo photos.

I spent the majority of the time chasing peacocks
into scary overgrown bushes.
So I wanted to capture what it felt like to walk through the St. Louis Zoo. Almost every pathway was lined with trees and/or brush of some sort. Except for this open part below, you were hardly hit with the “wow, i’m really at a zoo” thought. Does anyone ask that to themselves anyway? I digress. Like the little bridge below, that’s original to the park from the early 1900s. Also, some of the exhibits were built in the 1920s and have been maintained since. A very cozy feeling.

Okay, so this is where things started to get weird. It must have been the weather or something because almost all of the animals were active. And I don’t mean they just yawned several times (I take any movement as a zoo victory), but I mean they were running around their cages. The rhinos, the bears, the elephant. Wait, no. The elephant was the only animal that stood by a wall and ate. As we walked to the leopard’s cage, we noticed him leaning back on his haunches and watching something. I followed his line of sight and saw…

these guys. They were going wild! They would jump up and bite leaves off the tree, and run around bucking at each other. They must’ve finally found out about horizontal stripe rule and were in the middle of the “Why me, God??” phase. Do they make zebra girdles?

Anyway, so the leopard would lean back on his haunches and then leap off his rock to chase down the zebras. He would jump up on the fence, trying to claw his way out. Even though there was a cage, it was terrifying how quickly he’d run and jump! At the same time, though, it is nice to know that some of their wild instinct is still intact.

After barely escaping the leopard’s wrath, we encountered a historic sighting. Well, we thought it was. A camel peeing! It must be rare since they never drink water.

Lastly, I rounded out my kid day by taking a kid-at-the-zoo photo. With the hippos. A classic.

P.S. Throughout the day, we took photos of animals that resemble us. Here’s one we found of R.

Just Guess.

As part of our “kid day”, we decided to have our picture drawn. Either that or take an old-fashioned photo, which I was really tempted to do only because of an Onion article I read. Click here to read it.

[I need to pause here and request that you read the Onion article. It actually made me laugh out loud.]

So, anyway, we plop down and wait for the artist to shine his 5000 watt bulb onto our faces. He looks up to study us for only half-second increments and I wonder if the drawing will even resemble us. Just when I’m certain he doesn’t even know our skin color, he comments, “So, I see you’re getting gray hair.” This kid has looked at me for a total of 1.5 seconds and has already deduced that I’m aging at a increasingly rapid pace. It made me laugh, but in the back of my head I was already figuring out what expenditure I could cut out of my life to allow monthly hair-dyes.

Before he began, we had asked him to hold nothing back. And so he grossly exaggerated some of our features. I’ll give you a hint. For R: it’s not his eyebrows. For Me: if you knew me before and after puberty, you already noticed.

This is going above our fireplace.

Six Flags – St. Louis

My brother-in-law wanted to act like a kid at Oceans of Fun for his birthday. I thought that was a great idea, and decided to go to Six Flags with the same agenda.

Grease + Sugar + Twirly Rides – Recovery Time Between Said Twirly Rides = I’m getting old.

Never to disappoint, my impetuous side decided that the rainiest weekend in September would be a great time for roller coasters. We headed out early Saturday morning and could barely see the road ahead of us. I waffled between being overly optimistic about a break in the clouds [“surely the clouds will fork around Six Flags, meeting back up at the other side of the park, right??”] to verging on Chevy Chase insanity. I pictured myself holding someone at gunpoint, forcing him to open the park and ride everything with us. That’s definitely worth 10-15 years. I could just picture the conversation.

Prisoner: “What’re ya in for?”
Me: “Feet-dangly roller coasters. Back off.”

Exiting Kansas City
This was taken literally after the first pic. How does he do it?
The only bad luck we did have.
And then, all of a sudden, we saw a break in the clouds and you could just barely see the sun. It was glorious. What I didn’t expect was the onslaught of humidity once we stepped out of the car 4 hours later. I wore jeans and a short sleeved shirt and R. wisely wore shorts. In line for our first ride, it became abundantly clear that I was not cut out for the Amazing Race (which is why I probably would make the show. Speaking of the Amazing Race, my mom likes to remind me that if I do ever make the show, to never mention my maiden name.) I understand her reasoning, though. I was stuck in an enclosed humid, cramped stairwell with 15 other people waiting our turn on the ride. Suddenly, everything started to go blurry, my pants felt tighter than ever, and I wAs StaRting tO LoSe mY BrEAth..AND WHY WON’T THAT LADY QUIT TALKING ABOUT HER KID’S TALENT SHOW LAST WEEKEND, I NEED OUT!

Luckily, the weather soon cooled off and ended up being a fairly nice day. The best (and worst) part was the lack of lines. This caused a problem after our 3rd ride in a row on a larger than life tilt-a-whirl.

How often do you have the choice of any seat, every time?
One of our favorite rides had to be Scooby Doo’s scary swamp. Why is it always a kid’s game that draws us in? You ride in a little boat and shoot at monsters throughout the cave. It was Bass Pro Shop on steriods (or LSD — see third pic down).

Honestly, is this how I hold a gun? Me versus a robber, who do you have your money on?

All in all, a good, long, tiring day of fun. We rode rides non-stop for six hours and then crashed and burned at the hotel. Ironically, they had a National Lampoon Vacation marathon all night which kept me entertained…and self-conscious.

More posts to come, one of which celebrates the ability to laugh at one’s self. Oh, and this guy.

Back in the school saddle again…

I thought I only had one preconception of my sign language class: the more I had to practice sign language at home, the more silence there would be for R. A win-win situation. I quickly realized how many more suppressed ideas I really did have. Let me list them. I thought that:
  • the teacher (A.) would not be deaf — Why was I shocked when a man standing in front of the room was rapidly signing about how he wanted to strangle his high school class from earlier that day. He was making small noises that kind of sounded like words, but only when you knew exactly what he was saying via the interpreter. Speaking of which…
  • due to said deaf instructor, we would have an interpreter — Actually we did have an interpreter for this first class. But A. was quick to inform us that this was the last time he would be interpreting for us. As soon as we walk through the door next week, it will be silent. For two hours. No speaking allowed. Am I capable?
  • my class is past 3rd grade level — When given an open forum, why did one person actually ask “When did deafness start?” [I think] the interpreter deliberately misinterpreted the question. So, based on what the interpreter signed, A. answered with a brief history of the only deaf college in America (his alma mater — of which he had previously mentioned in class).
  • i wasn’t going to be afraid to state my name and why i wanted to take this class — For a second I imagined myself launching into all of my fears leading up to my previous blog post. I somehow managed to fall back onto the ole “i’d like to take on a new challenge”. That always works. 
  • sign language is all about your hands — This is going to be more of an acting class than anything else. Expression is key to signing effectively. Asking ‘why?’ versus ‘WHY?’ is distinct by your facial expression.
I’ve already sized up my class too. There’s the straight-A cocky student who sits in the front of the classroom, signing back to the teacher throughout his lecture to us. Isn’t that the same as talking? So why wouldn’t that be just as rude as responding with “I agree” or “Yes” or “Amen!” every time someone says a sentence in a lecture setting?

There’s the mid-sixties couple who are learning sign language because the man has been given a couple years before he is completely deaf. He seems reluctant and/or sad to be there. I’m glad he has our instructor, though, because A. is very gregarious and interesting minus the interpreter. A good representation of the quality of life one can have without this sense.

Then there’s the girl who chose a seat in the middle of the classroom, expecting to have at least one person to talk to. Instead, every seat to the front, back, and sides of her stayed empty. That’s me. Do I have the plague? Maybe I’ve already lost my sense of smell. Literally, people chose to sit in the front row rather than next to me in the middle. That’s bad.

At the end of class, A. tickled my foreign language fancy by sharing a mistranslation of the sign language sort. In college, he met a friend from Ireland. Because of the different dialects (and therefore, different signs), they would go all over town signing words for this and that. Below is the sign for ‘candy’ in America. Let’s just say, don’t ask for ‘candy’ in Ireland. It will either cost a lot or you’ll get slapped, depending on who you ask. 

Don’t ask why I look like a demon. I got a little crazy with the red eye reducer.

I’d choose common sense. Oh, done.

Tomorrow I’m attending my first sign language class. I don’t know why I chose this subject to study. It may be due to my slight paranoia of losing a sense and then not having a way to communicate. Like you know when you dust off your earphones and put them in, only to have your ear drums blown out by the decibel level? What if it was just loud enough to make you go deaf? What if after you put in your earphones, you step back and crash into your hallway mirror, causing shards of glass to fly into your eyes & mouth and then you’re blind and mute? The next thing you know, some lady is nodding her head excitedly in your hand because you finally signed the word ‘water’. Well, after these classes, I’ll be prepared.

Because of my recent morbid obsession, it has brought to light some good conversation. What sense could I live without? If I go blind, you would have to describe the environment to me. And then I’d be mad if you left out small details like.. the gilding on the ceiling molding is chipping away from the white plaster underneath. I mean, c’mon. That type of detail can make or break the feeling of a room. If I go deaf, I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between real and courtesy laughs. Eventually, I would assume you were just mouthing laughter and so I’d force you to laugh into my hand so I could feel your breath. If I lose my smell, I wouldn’t be able to tell if the cucumber that’s been in the fridge since 1998 is ready to be thrown out. Why name it the crisper drawer if it’s not going to keep its crunch. If I lose my taste, well.. that might not be a bad thing from a waistline point of view. But how can anyone live without ‘The Paper Bag’ dessert from McCormick & Schmick’s? If I lose my touch*, I would last about two minutes on this earth. I am a complete Amelia Bedelia. And even though she isn’t known to be clumsy, (only literal — for example, when asked to draw the drapes at sunrise, she uses a pencil and paper instead of just closing the drapes), her name has a somewhat awkward sound to it & so I use it to describe this unfortunate gene. 

Well, I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I do lose a sense. If I can still see the screen, that is..

*I just learned that this is the one sense no one can live without. See title of post.

Skitzo or Romantic? You be the judge.

To me, the dirtier the house the better.

I like the monochromatic color of this house, along with the narrow window. Overgrown bushes frame the doorstep. I could do that. Easy.
Here’s something you may not want to know about me, I’m obsessed with the past. Not even with anything that could be useful in Jeopardy, like dates & facts…But more with the day-dreamy side of it all. Take the first photo on here. That house is for sale and I want it. I found a website that specifically sells historical properties and my eye was instantly drawn to it. Why this one instead of the beautifully maintained, ornate mansion? Well, because this one is dirty with a half dead tree in front of it and no official driveway. Isn’t it obvious? Come to think of it, maybe I’m not so much in love with the past, but with the deterioration of time.

Despite my husband’s eye-rolling, I broke down and purchased a civil war gown on Ebay. It looks like a bad bridesmaid dress, but it was selling at a good price and I couldn’t resist it. I can’t wait to mow the yard in it. Wait, they didn’t have lawn mowers back then, so does that mean I don’t have to do it?
Daydream haters will always tell me, “but Carrie, do you know how bad it must have smelt back then?” or “you wouldn’t last a day without modern conveniences, like air conditioning or $5 Little Caesar pizzas.” Well you know what, daydream haters? I just now ate pizza in a rose-smelling, cold New York Brownstone while wearing a civil war dress. So, leave me alone.

The ironic part is that I got my first dose of reality from a dream. A few nights ago, I spent many hours in a post-civil war village. I was the newcomer and a villager was taking me around town, proudly showing off its latest additions to Main Street. In the town square, we came upon a few tables with large pots. Women were standing around stirring the stew-mixture and gossiping. When I arrived they gave me a spoonful to try. It tasted flavorful and I asked my guide what herbs were in it. He laughed and said, “oh, there are no herbs. the flavor comes from all the insects that land on the stew and get stirred in.” I blanched and immediately clicked my heels together. But then the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a horse-drawn wagon with my legs dangling off the back. People were filing out of a home and singing a civil war song and laughing…and I was right back into my romantic vision of life during this time.

Hours can slip by while I immerse myself in these thoughts. Coming-to is the hardest part. Other people can stick to their cocaine and heroine… daydreaming will always be my drug of choice.