Friday, May 28, 2010

Gray Area

Despite all the moral “gray area” that seems to exist these days, there are a few widely accepted things that human beings, as a general rule, just simply shouldn’t do. Examples include feeding zoo animals, ripping off mattress tags, wearing the Ed Hardy shirt/Livestrong bracelet combo(or dating/associating with someone who does), watching any movie in which Eddie Murphy stars as multiple characters, and responding to that oh-so-enticing email from the sickly boy-prince of Nigeria, desperate to bestow upon you his fortune (657,000 African Zarr= 12 million United States Dollars! All he needs is your fax number, social security number, and mother’s maiden name! )

Another item on life’s “do not do” list is picking up hitchhikers.

I’ve learned to resist Prince J-Kwon’s tempting email offer, have only seen “The Nutty Professor 2” once (when my TV remote was lost), and would rather date a Lego than a guy with a decorative skull shirt (much better conversation.) But there is one list item I tend to struggle with.

I have never met anybody who has picked up more hitchhikers than I have. But here is the thing: I don’t even necessarily do it out of the good of my heart. I just find it wildly hilarious/exhilarating. Probably the same sort of rush people get from skydiving. Or illicit drug use.
Disclaimer: The following situations exemplify irresponsible, erratic and dangerous behavior. I do not in any way advocate, or even condone my actions. (But I also do not regret a single one.)

Scene 1: I was driving home late one summer night. Wet, tired and reeking of chlorine, it’s a wonder I stopped when I spotted the dark figure, thumb outstretched, loitering in the Mama Chu’s parking lot. Having just braved the Belmont hot tub (marinate in that thing too long and you’re just begging for a Staph infection) I was probably feeling adventurous. I nonchalantly rolled to a stop and beckoned the shadowy figure over, just like I did this every night. It shuffled over and quickly ducked in, just like it did this every night. I turned for a look at my passenger/service project. We had gone to high school together. I hadn’t spent much time analyzing the kid then, but I wouldn’t have expected him to someday sport a 2XL “G Unit” shirt and reek of cigarette smoke. We awkwardly acknowledged our previous acquaintance and he shared with me his ambition to become a manager at Peter Piper Pizza (they’ve got a great benefit structure.) I don’t know who the joke was on more. Him, for the obvious downward plunge post high school? Or me, for making the conscious decision to let a stranger into my vehicle at 2 am, while wearing a swimming suit, Ugg boots and a Costco bathrobe? Luckily the drive was short and sweet. He was a gracious rider, and thanked me profusely when he got out. Only later did I remember rejecting the Facebook friend request that same boy had coincidentally sent a few months prior. With it, was a heartfelt (and never responded to) message, informing me that I had gotten “hella fine” since high school. Oh, such a sweetie. I’m glad I got a chance to thank him.

Scene 2: A few friends and I were headed up Spanish Fork Canyon to attend some crawfish catching/cooking/eating social event. What exactly a crawfish is, I will never know because of what happened next. We stopped abruptly when we encountered a rusty old tan hatchback with a crazed-looking Indian (I mean, Native American) woman prancing around it, hands waving hysterically in the air. Between raspy, phlegm-filled breaths, she informed us that she was having a “panic attack” and needed to get to the hospital. I immediately offered our assistance, before my wary friends could object. (Let’s be honest; I think I was enticed more by the potential comedic value present than the chance to be a modern day Samaritan.) I ended up driving the woman-in her own car-to the Provo Hospital. I’m surprised we both fit; that car was absolutely littered with dream catchers, afghans, Crystal Creations (probably with healing powers) and prescription drug bottles. I think there might have been a peace pipe. I held her hand in an attempt to calm her down and we engaged in some forced, wheezy-breathed small-talk. Her name was Charlene and she was on her way to the reservation for a family reunion when the “panic attack” hit. Although the (empty) state of the scattered Rx bottles indicated a different story… When we got to the ER she refused to let go of my now sweaty hand, so I agreed to hang around, not knowing that this would involve my hands-on assistance in her urine sample collection. After another solid hour of bedside hand-holding, Charlene informed me that I was now one of her best friends. It’s like I’ve always said; holding hands really is a bigger deal than kissing.

There have been more. Offhand, I can think of three more instances right off the top of my head. Each one has kept me laughing for days on end. I know I get more of a kick out of telling the stories than those who have to sit through them. And I’m not promising there won’t be more. I will just let this be my one “gray area” justification. If a hitchhiker is someday the cause of my ultimate demise, at least I will die in the service of a fellow being. And I will most likely be laughing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sociopath in 336?

Lately I have been spending my lunch break at Barnes and Noble. This is partly to discourage me from spending money on lunch(I recently realized that 95% of my bank statement charges are food related), but also so I can discreetly read the new Chelsea Handler book without actually buying it. Last week I stumbled across a disturbing read in the clearance section. (Wow, I am sounding REALLY cheap.) It was called "The Sociopath Next Door" and basically gives you a list of red flags/warning signs that may indicate creepy, sociopathic tendencies in your neighbors. I happen to be a regular viewer of the Lifetime channel, so of course this intrigued me. I flipped it open and read:

“Sociopaths rarely show emotion or cry. If so, it often happens at odd, inappropriate times”.

This worries me. That description is a dead ringer for my own personal “cry habits”. I tend to rarely cry, and if I do, it happens at odd, inappropriate times. If for some reason my dear neighbor both stumbles upon the book and sees me during a deep/inspirational church meeting, she is really going to worry. And all I want her worrying about are my visiting teaching habits, as is her ward calling. Or maybe a repeat performance of the incident where I accidentally stumbled into her apartment instead of my own in the middle of the night. (No, I assure you this wasn’t alcohol induced. Just a common mixture of sleep deprivation and ADHD.)

So now to address the issue at hand: a few examples of emotional displays and the lack therof.

When I was about 10 or 11, I occasionally babysat the kids of a neighborhood family. I was a solid 3 on the babysitter preference list. If Jennifer and Robyn were both busy, Carolyn got the "last resort" call. I didn't care; I liked babysitting for this particular family because they had both Beethoven movies, a Nintendo 64 and name brand Pop Tarts. None of the Western Family “Toast’em Pop Ups” my mom insisted were just as good. Wrong, Mom. They tasted like cardboard and without the credible “Pop Tart” logo stamped on the foil package, they were utterly useless for trading purposes at the lunch table. That particular night, I was just babysitting the family’s little boy. His name was Wesley, but continuously insisted he was Batman, and more often than not wore the pajamas to prove it. Exhausted after a particularly vigorous night of crime fighting, Wesley had fallen dead asleep on the floor, leaving me to watch "Mulan" by myself. About 20 minutes into the movie, during the climax of a typical poignant and inspiring Disney song, Mulan climbs up onto this tall post with only the aid of some sort of Asian weapon. It isn't particularly inspiring nor tear inducing. However, for some reason, without warning, I burst into tears. I was just really... moved, I guess. It was so odd. I wasn't especially passionate about women's liberation, nor Asian warfare so I still can't figure out why this scene made me so emotional. But the tears just wouldn't stop. So there I was sobbing, bathed in tears and Pop Tart crumbs, in front of a Disney movie. Of course, this is when the dad decided to get home. Confused, he asked if everything was okay. All I did was look down, ashamed, and nod shyly. After an awkward moment, and no further questions asked, thus ensued the awkward 3 minute drive home. That, believe it or not, wasn’t the last time I babysat for them. It was the second to last. My final visit ended with the mom coming home to me enthusiastically supporting her seven-year-old’s idea to pierce her own ears with a toothpick. Hey, it would have been interesting!

I also had an "oddly timed emotional episode" once in my 9th grade math class. I had recently lost a dear family member. My parakeet Sammy. We weren't really "pet-people" growing up, so this bird was a huge deal. I am pretty certain I would have saved it from that hypothetical burning building before any of my human family members, except maybe Joel who was still a baby and almost as cute as Sammy. Sammy and I had been through a lot together. A night spent in the orchard, a surprise sex-change (Sammy, not me), and the ONE proud moment when after much coaching, he/she actually said "Pretty Boy". (No wonder that thing had gender confusion issues). Anyway, Sammy's life abruptly ended with bird seed vomit and an unexplained seizure. Both of which, I thought were terribly cute. But sad. Sad enough that a month after this, the mourning process was still in full force. We opened up our Algebra II books to a story problem about two students, probably named Nan and Hank or something, attempting to breed finches. It was the full-color photo that did it. Looking at those sweet little feathered heads, those smiley beaks, all lined up on that twig was too much for me. I had to excuse myself to the hall until I could gain my composure. The tears just wouldn't stop. I think I had about three false alarms where I attempted to enter the classroom again, only to catch a glimpse of those taunting birds and had to go outside again. This behavior would be considered acceptable, if not normal, for a 2nd grader. Unfortunately I was almost 15.

I won't go into detail about the countless testimony meetings/DTRs/chick flicks I have tried to force tears during. See, despite the above odd situations, I am not really a crier at all. "Pretend Mom died... pretend Dad died... Sammy really did die... were (and still are) repeated in my head during times when crying really is encouraged/socially smiled upon. Crying can really come in handy. It's a really convenient way to appear caring/pathetic/spiritually in-tune, depending on the situation. After failing to cry during one particular Girls Camp devotional, I knew I could kiss my dreams of Mia Maid President goodbye. Not to mention the time I tried to break up with a boyfriend because "I was scared and not ready for anything". (Yeah right. Boys, never believe that one.) I'm pretty sure those words would have been more convincing accompanied by tears. Instead, they came across dull and insincere, and somehow I ended up dating him for another month. Hopefully those that know me know that I really do have feelings and my lack of tears in some events isn't a sign of apathy (or sociopathic tendencies). But I should probably invest in a wallet sized bird photo to have on hand. Or maybe a Mulan keychain. Just in case.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Confession: I couldn't think of a good way to go about writing this "all important" first post, so I googled "blog post ideas". Sadly, this is not the first time I have sheepishly googled something mildly embarrassing/incriminating. "How to get rid of adult onset acne" and "Bone Thugz-Resurrection lyrics" have also been known to pop up in my recent searches.

Unfortunately, nothing promising came up, as I'm fairly sure nobody cares to read a thorough description of my favorite animal or my thoughts on current issues in my industry (whatever that means.) Once again, this isn't the first time a google search has failed me. My complexion is still mediocre at best and my rap skills are far worse, I'm afraid. "White-girl-from-Utah" is still about my level of street cred.

Instead I will just explain my reasoning behind starting this blog. This is my third and final attempt to gain passage into the blogging world(or "blogosphere" as all 'yall like to call it) hence, the blog's title. Due to lack of interest/laziness on my part, the first two never made it past a crappy introductory post, one sympathy reader comment, and about 7 hits. Most of which were probably visits by me.

1. "If you don't exist online, you don't exist at all". This quote was taken off a handout from a marketing class I took, in regards to increasing awareness of your business. I was curious as to my own level of existance, so I googled my name. The results were horrifying. First came up an old facebook profile picture which seemed to be taken during the summer that I had a styling-damage induced mullet and fetish for sparkle eyeliner. The second was an obituary honoring the life of "Carolyn Rae Gassman", a Methodist who enjoyed bridge, gardening, golf, and was an ardent fan of U of U athletics. Also included in the hits were my phone number listing, the Oak Canyon Jr. High honor roll, and an embarrassing high school interview published in the Deseret News during a brief moment of stardom. "Old people are people too" is just one of my many wisdom filled quotes from that interview. I figure that a current blog is a way to at least control ONE of the hits that may come up when my name is googled. Because, you know, my name is probably googled a lot... oh wait...

2. I have a desk job. Due to my recent college graduation, I have officially joined the ranks of full-time employed adults. This is a first for me, as my college job as a restaurant server consisted of 3-4 hour shifts spent scavenging scraps of food off customers' plates and learning dirty Spanish words, all while hanging out with my best friends who conveniently also worked there. A little different from my job now. It's a good different though; I needed a change. And I will admit, I like the idea of having my own business cards, company email address, and a job description that includes the words "wearing lots of hats" and "room for growth". But there is a lot of down time. And let's be honest, there is only so much facebook stalking you can do before you start to feel a little creepy. Plus, I am convinced it's only a matter of time before they come up with some sort of application that tracks everyone who lurks on your profile. When that day comes, we are all toast. I figure I spend at least a little time thinking actual thoughts each day; I might as well write some of them down.

3. My skirt is literally being held together with staples. I'm serious. The side slit somehow ripped this morning during the commute. Should I be upset about this? Probably. But instead of blaming it on my lack of gym dilligence, I am just telling myself it is because I dried it in the dryer, which all girls know can shrink clothes like crazy. Plus, I got the thing from the Banana Republic OUTLET'S SIDEWALK SALE CLEARANCE RACK. The thing is about as thick as a kleenex. Thats what I get for buying my "business casual" clothes at such an extremely deep discount. Anyway, rather than expose 3/4 of my thigh to the entire office, I opted to take the creative route and regain my modesty by using the stapler. This seems to have done the trick, although I can't really move my legs more than about an inch apart. I busted two staple "stitches" during my last attempt to shuffle over to the fax machine and am in no hurry to move my body (especially legs) anytime soon. Blogging requires absolutely no physical exhertion whatsoever. Therefore, I can't think of a better way to kill 30 minutes of company time.

The real test will be to see if I actually write another post. So far, my past blogging record testifies against me. I plan on proving it wrong. But, if the third time isn't a charm, maybe the fourth will be.