Actually, it IS Rocket Science


How I lost my vir-sin-ity

So here’s something:

I had to take remedial Christianity lessons.

Because I was stuuuuuupiiiiiid.

No.  Not really.  …Well. That’s still up for debate.

When we lived in Pennsylvania I went to a public school, and the separation of church and state has never been so strong in any other state than the Amish farm-raised land of Penn.  So for the first several years of my educational memory I spent my time coloring in pictures of founding fathers rather than the mother Mary (which probably saved a lot on Cerulean Blue on Crayola’s stock, but if we’re being honest, probably depleted a LOT of Tumbleweed and Burnt Umber).  We lived very puritanical lives, filled with red-meat Fridays and guilt-free Sundays.

Then we moved to Louisiana.

To their credit, my parents gave me the opportunity to choose my own school, and I landed on the space between Community Chest and Free Parking, which put me directly in the crossfire of:

“Go to Jail Catholic School”

I entered in somewhere around 3rd grade, and if you’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of the shell shock that comes from moving across the Mason-Dixon while also getting a crash course in Christianity, then god bless you (you had to have known that was coming at some point).  And if you are opposed to self-deprecating jokes centered around the re-education of an otherwise smarmy 3rd grade asshole, then you might prrrrooooooobabaly want to just pay the majority of your attention to the picture below.

Here’s a picture of a child dragging a dog on a wheelbarrow.  There is no correlation, although I’m sure I could make one because that’s one of the things you learn in grad school; to distract from the uncomfortable and bullshit your way through the rest of it:

Upon entering a southern school, I encountered many new things that I had not previously anticipated.  Things like the fact that crayons were never, under any circumstance, to be known as crayons again, but rather “colors.”  As in:

“Do you have a red color?”

(What the shit??)  “Like, am I wearing red?”

Noooo, do you have a red color???”

________

And I was no longer allowed to refer to my cohort as “guys” because:

“Hey, you guys!  Look at this!”

“Um… We’re GIRLS.”

________

Alright, you jerkoffs.  Let’s play ball.

________

When I came out of my bitchslap of an indoctrination to life outside of my comfort level, I got thrown an entirely new curveball.  Because I hadn’t met the requirements of the previous level of education asked by my sainted educational palace, I then had to go to the grade below my level so that I could properly handle the task that was…

The Holy Act of Reconciliation

Eeeesh.  Even writing that now sends me into drug-withdrawal sweats.  Who’s great idea was it for us to just tell each other’s secrets to one another and expect a full repentance to come from four hail mary’s and maaayyyybe an our father here and there.

By the way, if you’re plotting out your hate mail, I would just like you to know that I welcome it and I’ll be glad to post it on here at any point.  And any holier-than-thou-shit is just going to get above the fold.  Might even get me more visitors, so I thank you in advance.

Judge not lest what? What was that?

Even in the 3rd grade, I was somewhat aware that I was being sent into a remedial setting because children are acutely aware when they are being thrown back a grade.  In fact, that’s the same thing as shitting on someone’s new grave.  Not pissing, mind you, flat out wipe-your-ass-on-the-three-day-old grass shitting.  It tells them that they are not performing well enough to move forward.  I’d say it’s humbling, but in my case, it was a slap in the face.  I was a goddam A student, and you can kindly fuckoff if you’re going to send me back.

But I abided, because I have been and will always be non-confrontational, although I hated the fact that I seemed to be so behind the times that I couldn’t even keep up with my own grade, since they were sooooo advanced to have already performed the Catholic rite of passage.  While still calling crayons colors.

You know what’s funny is that I actually love those people now.  We grew up together and most of them have turned into some of my greatest friends and confidants.  … Most of them.

When I got into the program, I was informed that by the end of the semester I’d be partaking in

The Holy Act of Reconciliation

And that I would need to come up with some errors, misgivings, impure thoughts, and whatnot that I had had prior so that I might be cleansed in the name of the lord.

When you’re a straight A student who has no intent on pissing anyone off, or impinging upon His holy graces, by the 3rd grade, you really don’t have that much to go off of.  You could talk about the fact that you discovered yourself accidentally or ate the extra doughnut hole, but really, who’s going to admit that in front of a priest who watches you sing in the choir every week?  Brings a new meaning to “rounding your ‘O’s” if you catch my drift.

But without conjuring up some repugnant or lascivious act that I hadn’t performed, I’d be doomed for all eternity.  Because I had to admit my sins.  My terrible, awful, 7-year-old sins.  Or else I wouldn’t get any candy  into heaven.  And I had to do it face to face with the priest.  No doors or obscured windows.  Mano-e-mano.  That’s fun, yeah??

So I sat there.  Thinking.  Trying to draw up any repressed or submersed memories of when I was a horrible person.  Surely I was.  I remembered asking my parents if I could go outside when they were on the phone and had already asked me not to interrupt.  I remembered eating my gummy worms before my “real food” at lunch a couple of times.  But those didn’t seem like the types of sins my teachers were talking about.

They wanted dirt.

They wanted me to talk about the time I performed spousal abuse, or when I knocked over that 7-11.  Every example they gave was another horrific look into sad adult life, and it upset me.  But, being the striving-for-success child that I was at the time, I took it as a message.  A message that I needed to up the ante on my confession.  Which is why…

I lied on my reconciliation.

Wow.  Impressive, right?  Performing my first real sinful act while simultaneously being absolved of the previous miniscule ones?

It went something like this:  I walked in to the room where there were two chairs sitting directly under an overhead light, and they faced each other.  One was already occupied by Father Bill, the priest who we saw for class mass every. single. Wednesday.  And even though he was trying to feign a welcoming smile, his patience had worn thin (as I would imagine having to sit through 60 previous kids’ confessions might make anyone weary), and his smile was bordering on plastered on/muscle twitches.  The set up was not unlike a warm-lensed interrogation room one might see on a criminal investigation show your mom always loves to watch, and I was the suspect perp.  Oh holy shit.  I’ve seen how those things end.  It’s not looking good for me right now.

I sat down and tried to pull my early 90’s ugly-ass-flowery-with-unecessary-lace-in-weird-places dress from under me as I did, like my mom had taught me.  Father Bill offered a somewhat genuine smile and addressed me by name, which only made me that much more anxiety ridden; this guy knew who I was.  Before I thought I had just blended into the background and could therefore never be picked out of a line up.  Negating the fact that I had already done a number of solos in the choir at his own concerts masses.  I turned to him and began:

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  This is my first confession…”

And what spewed after that was nothing short of complete drivel.  I think I talked about things that are the utmost of worst behavior a 7-year-old can come up with; things that will put you in Dante’s worst circle.  I talked about cursing, I mentioned stealing a candy bar off of a girl’s desk (which was an actual act I watched another student do), I even went as far as offering a story about how I pushed a girl down (even though it was during a game of Red Rover, and she didn’t even fall down.  I left those out for story’s sake).  I felt like I was no longer in confession, but that I was one of those people my mom talked about who called in to police stations after Kennedy had been shot and offered a false confession.  Those actions weren’t me.  They simply weren’t. … Yet.

Bill gave me a weird look that was sort of a symphonic WTF-Are-you-shitting-me-kid-you-seemed-like-such-a-nice-girl-and-holy-crap-now-we’ve-got-an-up-and-coming-criminal-and-I-am-NOT-putting-my-name-on-her-8th-grade-graduation-diploma-I-can-tell-you-that-RIGHT-now and did one of those super small head-shakey things that make you think only one thing:  uh. oh.

This, in retrospect, was nothing of what I assumed it was. It was probably more like, why-is-this-little-girl-telling-me-things-she-CLEARLY-has-not-done face.

Then he turned and grabbed something from his side desk and brought it back out- it looked like a combination between a simple ring and a torture device:

This was the best I could find under my time budget, but it’s still essentially the same.  This is a rosary ring, and what I gathered was that I was to wear it and say a Hail Mary for each one of those dots on that link of medieval torture that pressed into my knuckles and soft tissue of my surrounding fingers until I knew the pain that Christ felt when he died for our sins.  Because being slightly uncomfortable from a ring is exactly the same as dying from asphyxiation and blood loss while suspended by iron rods through your extremeties.  I get it.  I do.

I left the church that night mentally and emotionally exhausted.  My parents (unbeknownst of my vile behavior) saw my endurance and strength through those hard times and thought the best way to handle it was to bring me to Baskin Robbins.  And somehow, that smell of antifreeze or whatever it is that is synonymous with all ice cream/frozen yogurt places and several scoops of mint chocolate chip and milk chocolate ice cream made me feel more absolved than anything else in the world.  I had at once expelled my sins and performed my first actual one.  And I was being rewarded with ice cream.

And you guys wonder why I’m like this.

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Up and down. And up again.

Sometimes you encounter shitty situations.

Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it to the nuclear reactor in time.

Sometimes it doesn’t go into remission.

Sometimes the movie is better than the (99,000 page) book you read.

Sometimes the peaches are mealy.

Sometimes you realize your problems are actually ridiculously minute in comparison to others, and you feel shitty about having griped about a goddam peach being fucking mealy.

Sometimes you spend way-hay-hay too much time worrying about things you cannot control.

Sometimes you wake up at 3 am and your body refuses to go back to sleep, no matter how much you will it to, because you’re encountering new situations which bring your childish groans into a glaring new focus and you realize there are bigger, much larger demons in the world that exist.  They definitely, definitely exist.

And sometimes, when you’re not ready for it at all, you find something that offers the most brilliant respite to it all at the perfect time… Even if it turns out to be a dinky-ass commercial for some diddly-doo TV set.  Because sometimes brilliant people are willing to compromise and turn their brilliant ideas into a commercial just so that they can share their ideas with more people.  Or, you know, for the money.  Whichever comes first.  I’m in no position to judge; these guys helped in keeping my sanity in line this week.

Thankfully we have the capability of bouncing, too.  I love each and every one of you.  You know, in a totally non-creepy way.


Things I’ve learned (Little Kid ed.)

Being a little kid means you can essentially get away with practically anything under the guise of the fact that “you’re still learning.”  But don’t abuse that shit, for real.  Makes the rest of the kids look bad.

If your parents tell you not to follow them into the branches of briar thistles while they try to find the family cat, for godsake, LISTEN TO THEM.

Don’t eat the oatmeal your mom poured on your body when you got the chicken pox.

Little kids hate it when you call them “little kid.” (this was learned firsthand around 4 years old.)

They also hate it when you call them “Lady Dorkus.”

They especially loathe when you call them “Her Majesty, the Queen of Dork.”

Kids don’t forget when an adult has been an utter douchebag to them.  Even into their twenties.  Dick.

Don’t be angry with your mom because she never got you that trampoline that you asked for REPEATEDLY throughout your adolescence. Because you found a lot of other, more dangerous things to get into.  Just to show her.

The kids that are dicks in Kindergarten are likely to remain dicks for a while.  But they do grow out of it.  …Sometimes.

Get ready for anything that happens after 8pm to be the utmost frightening situation you have ever been subjected to.

Never sneeze with food in your mouth.

There is always a Dracula on the next aisle over in the grocery store contingent upon where you are located at any point in time.  There just is.  And it’s a Dracula.  Not a vampire.  No.  An honest-to-christ Dracula.  And that’s why you can’t just go grab the Cheerios nextdoor, MOM.

Your birthday is THE. SHIT.  You are THE. SHIT.  No excuses.

What’s that?  Jenny’s birthday?  Whatever.  As long as I get a twinkie out of it.  Got some news for you, Jenny.  Ever’body’s got a birthday.  Don’t think your shit don’t stink.

If approached with a grassy hill, do not think twice of rolling down said motherfucker.

Kraft mac n cheese is the shit, has always been the shit, and will forever remain the shit.

Splinters are god’s ultimate fungu to you and yours.

You may really want to go down that aluminum slide. in the middle of the day. in the summer. when the heat index reaches triple digits.  But don’t!  It’s a trap!!

You cannot poop standing up yet.  You simply don’t have the motor faculties to do so.  You also don’t understand general physics between standing up and squatting. PLEASE get an assistant, preferably one that you can trust with holding you up as well as wiping your bottom efficiently.

Strawberries are the best natural creation on the entire goddam planet.

Lima beans, however, suck.

Farts.  Are.  Funny.

If your teacher tells you to drink both your orange juice and your milk before the end of lunch, (and I cannot impress upon this enough) Just.  Fucking.  Do it.  Otherwise you are about to encounter the crazy-terrible hybrid of an acid and a base, in one cup.  And the results are revolting.

There are very few times in life when wiping a booger on someone else will be overlooked, even in some cases chuckled at.

Go. Crazy.


StoryCorps

I really wanted to post something yesterday that was based around the anniversary of a truly sad event.  But every time I began to do so, I felt utterly dumb and in some weird way as if I didn’t deserve to contribute anything.  I was fortunate enough not to lose anyone that day or even have anyone in my life that I had to remotely question their location.  Not to mention the fact that there are countless other, much better writers that were handling the written memorials, much better than myself.  And then I even began to think that given the event that day, we should consider the fact that although we encountered our first real tragic event of our generation, there are other situations drizzled around the rest of the globe which have had larger numbers of fatalities and holdover trauma, and in a way we are all so incredibly lucky to live in a place where events like the those that occurred that day are able to remain so unbelievable to us.

And then I saw something that took my frustration and inability to come up with words and placed it lovingly in the hands of someone who could do it so much better than myself.  Or a group, I should say.

Which is why if you haven’t heard of StoryCorps yet, the very least that I could do would be to introduce it to you now.  Taken from real interviews with very real people and animated, what better way to allow yourself to mourn respectively?  Everything’s better animated, right?  (Just say “right” for me right now.  It took a lot for me to talk about this.)

Dude.  StoryCorps.  You my buddy.  I buy you a Choco Taco any time.  Any. Time.


Pid-ass phone

I think I mentioned before that my phone is going through its final stages of a terminal disease known as planned obsolescence.  It’s lived a good life, though.  Six years!  Including multiple drops from daring heights without a net and several circumstances involving full saturation.  I’ve had pet snails who lived shorter, less effected and impactful lives than this phone.

Which is why it’s not hard to see that we bonded.  And why I have been so opposed to getting it changed out.

In addition to the crappiness that is witnessing a best friend waste away before you, my phone has been equally confounded by the fact that apparently I have lost any and all cell reception in my area.  That’s just pouring salt on the snail wound.

According to my provider, this is due to an apparent obstruction in my area.  How descriptive.  An “obstruction.”  That’s so helpful.

Can’t wait to see how they describe my physical assault on them when they don’t fix the problem.

So for the past several weeks, my phone conversations have gone from coherent to absolute batshit in a matter of minutes, due to the comedic timing my reception seems to have at any given moment.  Funny enough, in fact, that I thought I’d share with you a result of said receptive temperament, as described below:

What was actually said:

Friend:  I got one of those ab rollers.

Ashlin:  You did? No shit?  How is it?

Friend:  Huh?  Dude.  Really hard.

Ashlin:  You think it will work?

Friend:  What??  Oh. I don’t know.  My knees are killing me right now.

Ashlin:  Ohhhh.  I didn’t even think of that.

Friend:  Ashlin, I can barely hear you.

Ashlin:  Shit, sorry.  Stupid ass phone.

Friend:  But yeah.  But I used some Aspercreme on them and that seemed to help afterward.

Ashlin:  … Whut?

________

What it came out as (I have confirmed this with the other speaker via chat log later)

Friend:  I got… ab roller…

Ashlin:  You… Shit?

Friend:  Huh?  Dude… ‘ard.

Ashlin:  You thin… … will work?

Friend:  I don’t kn… My knees are… ‘illing me…

Ashlin:  Ohh… think of…

Friend:  Ashli- … can barely… ‘ear you.

Ashlin:  Shit.  Sorry… Pid-ass phone.

Friend:  … Yeah… I used…. Ass… creme… on them… help afterward.

Ashlin:  … … Whut?


Crime-stopper

When I first moved here I fell immediately in love with my new neighborhood.  I live at the pinnacle of a hill that dips down on either side of my apartment which allows for an amazing view no matter which way you turn.  And my morning routine included walking down said mile-long dip from where I lived to the bottom, where I would grab a cup of coffee and make my way back up, which allowed (apart from a wonderful glut exercise) a great opportunity to look around and see my new surroundings without having to keep an eye on the wheel and watch out for aggressive drivers (which are many.  I am still confounded by the fact that there is so much road rage around here.  People will literally do that honk that makes you think they accidently passed out on the steering wheel before you realize they’re just being a total dick with the person in front of them the second a light turns green, even if that person is stuck behind someone else).

These walks were pretty enjoyable, for the most part, as they offered a little break from the monotony of the time I spent indoors and with other people, trying to make nice and act like I hadn’t just moved here by myself from Chicago, where I would ultimately get the look of “Ohhhh!  I no longer have anything to relate to you with.”  I could be alone with my thoughts (which were few, I’m glad to admit) and I got to take in the scenery around my new neighborhood.

One morning I set out like I normally did and noticed the area was particularly devoid of traffic.  Actually, it was devoid of anything; school children, speed walkers, UPS trucks, freaky dogs without any apparent owners.  Hey, you guys, have you ever encountered something like that when you feel like you’ve entered some twilight region of existence or maybe you missed the memo that everyone should stay indoors that morning? Something which made you feel like maybe you should have invested in a little more religious insurance because your previous Catholic upbringing suddenly snuck up behind you and shouted “RAPTURE!” ?  Yeah?  Anybody?

And then you remember it’s Labor Day and you immediately replace any and all worries with thoughts of what kind of sales there are going on over at Anthropologie?

Dude.  Totally.

So I immediately thought: Sweet!  No traffic= No having to wait to cross the streets, which ultimately tacked on another 15-20 minutes of my time, at least, since there are 5… five… FIVE traffic lights on that one-mile drag down to the epicenter of coffee heaven.  And none of them are synced up.  Which equates to somewhere around the most sarcastic “awesome” you can get.

About half-way down, I passed two specific buildings:  A) The public library and ♣) The local fire response station.  I came across another four-way stop light, which was nearly deserted.  Which is where my logic previously mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph came into play.  IN MY DEFENSE, I looked both ways, saw absolutely NO ONE approaching, apart from one vehicle stuck in a red light whose cross-walk countdown sign indicated would be there for another 20 seconds, at least, and thought I’d take advantage of the lack of cars on the streets for once and clear a cross-way without losing momentum.

As soon as I made it to the other side, I was bombarded with not only the most annoying flashing lights, but the idiot had the audacity to turn on the siren… AT 6 A.M.  Right outside a number of apartments.

Do you know how hard it is to turn off the anger and resentment that comes from realizing someone is knowingly abusing their officially-granted priviledges just to prove a very ridiculous point?

Do you know how hard it is to turn off the anger from a girl predisposed to Irish belligerance?

I’ll give you a hint:  the answer to both of those questions is the same.

But  by the grace of something… graceful, I stuffed that full-on rage down faster than a Nathan’s Coney-dog annual and turned on the best doe-eyed “Wha… wha-happened?” look I could muster.  AT 6 A.M.   Which proooobably looked something like this:

It’s extremely difficult for me to turn off my eyebrows.  If I ever decided to get into professional poker I’d have to sacrifice them, otherwise they’d be my tell every time.  I used to get away with it before I started “enhancing” them, the term a lady who once gave me a makeover referred to it as, due to the fact that I have virtually transparent body hair.  That would have been the only let-on to the fact that I wanted to pull this cop’s badge and stuff him like a Thanksgiving turkey with it.

The guy did one of those things where he eeeeeeaaaaases out of the car and peers over at me like he’s trying to build up anticipation.  Being that I’m obviously busy trying to restrain my eyebrows from letting on to the fact that I would like nothing more than to send this guy down a slip n slide of the type of embarrassment he’s apparently trying to use against me, I stand like a moron waiting for him to make the first move.

“Don’t you know what kind of ticket you can get from jay-walkin’?”

Hold on.  Jay-Walkin’?  Where are you from, Officer?  Obvs not from around here.  Do I detect a little South Mason-Dix?

“No sir.”

“Don’t you know there’s a FAHR-Station around here?”

YESSSSS.  We have detected and confirmed an Officer and a Gentleman.

“Yes, sir.  I understand…  I apologize.”

“Not to mention, There’s a LIE-Brary.  You know you’re gonna have traffic at a LIE-BRARY.”

Sure.  Fine.  Whatever.

“I don’t know where you come from, MA’AM, but around here we pay attention to the road signs. ”

________

Now, I’d just like to stop and make mention of the particular article of clothing I was donning that morning.  You know what?  I’d rather show you:

Yes, I realize it’s backwards, but you get the idea.  If that’s not a dead-ringer for the Chicago Cubs, then you can just crawl into a hole and live the rest of your life as a pariah, since you’ve already been doing so this whole time.  I’m THE most unversed sports fan in the nation, and even I know that symbolic bear.  I’m even willing to gratefully point to my boobs to make that point.

I waited for his tongue lashing to be over when he finally sent me on my way, which he did, I am sure, only to make sure that he had enough time to ensure that any and all drivers in our vicinity had the opportunity to gawk and stare at the terrible jay-walker that was placed in the stocks for all to throw tomatoes and various sneers at.

Fujit.  I couldn’t have cared less.  The guy was finally going to let me off for my heinous act.  Until I was walking off and he mentioned,

“And don’t think I won’t recognize you again in the future.  I’ll see that hair, Red.”

Right.  Not like I won’t see you coming either, Officer butt-cut.

 


Voice of unreason

I have a tendency to make unruly assumptions about highly… … …ruly things.  Like how I realized once around 5 years old that I had failed to return a copy of Harold and The Purple Crayon to the North Philadelphia Public Library on time that I was without a doubt going to jail as soon as they tracked me down (which they were no doubt doing on a scale comparable of a manhunt which one could relate to that of  the movie The Fugitive).  Or how I thought that by taking your hands off the wheel of a car you were driving meant immediate death (you guys, my mom tortured me on that one.  I should really donate a blog entry to that alone just to get her back).  Or the time I found a spot on my thigh that was absolutely, certainly cancer which I estimated gave myself two months to live before ever getting it checked out.

Oh wait, I didn’t discuss that part yet? I prepare myself for the worst-case scenario.  Always.  By my twisted logic, by doing so I can’t be let down.  If you start from rock bottom, there is no “downhill from there.”  Get it?  Brilliant.

The only drawbacks are the ulcers and constant indigestion.

One time, around 7, my granddad underwent a relatively minor surgery when I overheard my mom and aunt talking about the bill, only I didn’t pick up on the fact that they were talking about said bill.  My aunt took a look at the paperwork, looked over at my mom, and begrudgingly admitted, “Oh man, Dad’s gonna die.”

This is how fast my brain shuffles through Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief and loss:  within 5 seconds I was fully ready to get my family through the loss of their father.  I didn’t want to believe that I was losing a grandfather to outpatient surgery, but I was so fired up about it that I was sure I was going to single-handedly keep this family from falling apart.  I’d deal with bargaining and depression later.  It was time to be strong and take up the family ax.  Because there’s a time of change, and when that comes, dying is a piece of all dyin’, and bearin’ is a piece of all bearin’, an’ bearin’ an’ dyin’ is two pieces of the same thing. An’ then things ain’t so lonely anymore. An’ then a hurt don’t hurt so bad.

And then someone rolls their eyes at the terrible Steinbeck reference.

My brain coarsely evaluated the statement my aunt had just made.  “Dad’s gonna die.”  Did you catch that??  GONNA.  Meaning it hadn’t happened yet!  There was still a shot at redemption and miraculous recovery!   We still had a chance of saving the family patriarch.  Was it too late to pound on his chest and loudly will him to live, dammit?  Because that shit totally works.  I’m pretty sure I saw it on L.A. Law once and maybeeeeee a MacGyver here and there. America.

I interjected and in my most somber yet courageous effort became the rock I needed to be for my soon-to-be-orphaned family members.  And I could do this.  I was doing this.  This is being done.  By me.  This was the mantra I used to tell myself before I realized how stupid it is (side note:  I actually still use it quite frequently.  It’s my own personal Rocky theme, and shit works, yo).

I physically pushed myself directly in front of my family and said in my “strong voice” (the voice you use to tell a stranger you will NOT go with them) “Now, wait.  Just hold on.  We don’t know that for certain yet.  He might make it through.  We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Can you just stop for a moment and imagine your 7-year-old daughter trying desperately to be the voice of reason in a convoluted world?  Wait.  A 7-year-old daughter who has gotten her best phrases from primetime 80’s drama series?

The outcome, which I suspected would range anywhere from changes of heart and shielded tears of a new hope, surprised me.  I didn’t get the dramatic outpouring of emotional breakdown I was expecting.  Instead I got two women who immediately stopped what they were doing and looked down over at me with a look of absolute surprise and startled silence.

And then they began laughing.

Am I seeing a pattern here?

My mom immediately kneeled down so we were facing each other on the same playing field.  She pushed my hair back behind my ear (total mom thing to do.  But I still love it) and said gently:

“Aaaashlin.  Grandaddy’s not going to actually die.  I’m so sorry you thought that.   We’re speaking figuratively.  He’s going to ‘die’ when he sees the bill.  …Because Grandaddy hates money.”

Which was when I felt like a completely stupid dipshit.  Because I was ready to quit school and work full time to support this family, however necessary.  And now I realized I had magnified the issue to a disproportionate scale.

But to her credit, I think my mom saw my look of dejected sadness and proceeded to note:

“Geez.  You really thought Grandaddy was going to die??  You really handled that well.  I’m proud of you.”

Which was when I realized that I could do this.  I was doing this.  This had been done.  By me.

So there.


What I observed on my summer vacation

So yeah, you may have noticed I’ve been shirking my responsibilities here for the past several weeks.  I’ve been shirking a lot of things around here lately.  The dishes haven’t been washed, the baby severely needs changing, and there’s a smell so god-awful coming from the trash can that I’m contemplating just throwing a lit peach-mango-formaldehyde scented candle into the thing and starting fresh with a new receptacle.  But I’ve got a good reason for it.

I only had three and a half weeks off between the end of one grueling semester and the beginning of a new one.  And I thought I’d use that time by doing what my father lovingly refers to as “fiddle-farting around,” especially anywhere but somewhere that kept me on the computer for longer than an hour at a time.

It’s been tough on you guys, I know.  It’s been tough on all of us.  We’re gonna make it through this together, though.

Oh no.  You’re doing that thing.  You’re giving me that look our family cat always gave us when we came home from our annual summer trip to North Carolina.  That contemptuous fuck-off-if-you-think-I’m-going-to-let-you-back-into-my-life look.  Please don’t take a crap on the new carpet just to prove a point.  I get it.  I do.  I’m going to try not to leave you again.

You’re just lucky I didn’t board your ass.  Think about that.

While I was off I got into a couple of really great things.  But I feel that if I try explaining them to you it will turn into a stuffy slide show hour wherein you all contemplate how long it will be before your highballs get refilled and how this Long Island could use a bit (read: a LOT) more gin and goddammit what is with the maraschino cherry?  We’re not really in the 50’s anymore; booze alone would suffice.

What I will share with you is the absolute alterna-universe that I have discovered and you may have also had the opportunity to stumble upon in your life travels.  I’m speaking, of course, about the world devoid of logic that you enter into once you pass through the sliding doors of an airport.

This is a picture of the Wall Street Floor. This is not a mistake. It's actually quite fairly comparable.

This is in no way intended as a dig to airports themselves or their employees therein, I’d just like to make that clear.  Those people deserve a medal, because they have to live their professional lives knowing that they are about to encounter asshole after deranged lunatic all. damn. day.  Because something happens to people when they enter airports.  A sociological virus capable of mind control enters each traveler’s brain and changes them from a contributing member of society to a drooling Jersey Shore cast member hell-bent on jockeying for front-of-the-line status, and goddammit if they’re not going to let the world know about their most recent plight in their battle against healthcare, the stock market drop, whathaveyou in attempt to either A) make you commiserate with them about their poor, terrible lives (even if they can afford the extra couple hundred bucks to soar through the sky), or B) knock you into such annoyance-driven oblivion that you don’t even notice that they’ve rolled their oversized carry-on right past your own luggage.

Once you’ve passed through the gates of Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here security, you are ushered into a world of maniacal nonsense, driven by the multiple ass-hats behind you who are suddenly super-pissed that you have somehow managed to waste their previous 5 seconds while you try to jam your laptop back into your bag and shove your shoes back on in a fevered pace.

Once you’re out in the wilds of the various gates that you must navigate through to find where you’re going, you may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief that the worst is behind you.  DON’T!  It’s a trap!!  Because (and this is very important, friends) as soon as you let your guard down, someone will inevitably walk right into you because they weren’t paying attention while tweeting how excited they are to finally be on their way to Can-Koooooooon!  Hollaaaaaa!  Vigilance is key.  Even if you are lucky enough to evade the beast with no eyes, you could still find yourself in the direct trajectory of the most helpful/dangerous device employed by select airport employees.  I’m talking about “The Cart.”  As in:

“…cart, please.  excuse …cart.  excuse … Please.  Please Excuse…

EXCUSE THE CART, PLEASE.”

By the time you hear the full statement, it’s already too late.  Those are silent vectors of evil, and they’re filled with malicious knife-wielding clowns of death.  With flame-throwers.  And they all have PMDD …And ‘roid rage.  In fact, if left to their own devices, they’d go all Grand Theft Auto on you without a second thought.  Just another reason why the dutiful employees of the universal airport should have a plaque made in their honor.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, what I’m breaking this down to is the fact that once you’ve entered the lower intestines of the beast, that’s it.  You’re on your own, friend. And when you thought you had made it through the fun part of security, then you get shoved into an area that is a hyperbolic rendition of Lord of the Flies.  And you’re Piggy.

Here’s something: when I was about 10 years old I was sitting at my gate when I looked up from my Gameboy to see an old man who was casually making his way to his respective destination walk right under a fluorescent light cover that just *ploom* fell on his head.  Fell right the shit on his head.  Like, the kind of crap you watched Bob Saget make silly sounds to on America’s Funniest Home Videos to direct your attention away from the fact that he truly just experienced a possibly severe head injury.  What’s worse is that I proceeded to watch multiple people walk right past him; people who had been walking behind him and watched it happen, yet chose to ignore the event.  Some even acted pissed off that he was getting in their way.

No?  Not enough?  Okay.  Since we’re being honest.  Somehow, somewhere in my twenties, I have become a pretty big asshole.  I have.  Which means that everything I’m talking about right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have been that person before, myself.  Like I explained earlier; it’s a virus.  You can’t help getting sick from time to time.  A couple of years ago it happened when I woke up at around 4am to catch a flight and all I wanted was a goddam cup of coffee.  Just a fucking. cup. of. jesus-licking. coffee. And I stood in line, like a decent line-stander-inner.  Which was when some dumb girl totally pulled the I’m-on-the-phone-too-super-busy-Oh!-did-I-just-completely-cut-in-front-of-you?-My-bad-I’ve-got-kids-that-want-rice-krispies move.  And the expert that she was stayed on the phone so that I couldn’t point out to her that she had in fact completely thrown herself in front of me.  How convenient.

But I, too, was in the middle of something at the time.  The middle of something I was in was placing my gum into a napkin so that my coffee wouldn’t taste mentholated.  And she was obviously distracted by the riveting phone conversation she seemed to be having at 6:30 am (which was about clothing.  Let me repeat that:  a conversation at 6:30 am about CLOTHING).  And it just so happened that one of her carry-on’s was a giant open purse.  And, you know, it was within arm’s reach.

So I made sure not to discard my trash on the ground.

Oh, cut it.  It was wrapped in a napkin.  Like a little Christmas present in July.  The weird thing was I felt more upset about it than anything because I realized she would probably blame it on the kids after she finally discovered it.

_________

People on standby don’t really get that they’re on standby a lot of times.  They’re like what I would imagine people who have died and refuse to admit it and become ghosts do like in Beetlejuice.  They think it’s a sure thing.  And they looooove to check in with the announcers.  Every 10 minutes.  I have a family that is so awesomely wired in that they know when I’m on standby and when I’ve gotten a seat- even before I board.  They gave me a crash course in patience when I was going up to visit them on standby most recently:

“Just wait.”

That’s it.  See how simple that is??  Just… you know… wait.  Don’t get bent outta shape or demand reparations.  Just chill the hell out and see what happens.  Worst case scenario, you book a hotel.  You get a free breakfast better than whatever you’d probably make for yourself and you don’t have to worry about making your bed the next morning.  AND EVERYBODY WINS.

________

My word count is getting dangerously close to that magic number that tells me I’m bordering on TL;DR.  If you’ve made it this far, good job; you’ve beat the system of 140 character limits and Facebook updates which limit you to about three simplistic sentences.

I’m back.  Grad school year 2; I’m all in.