Saturday, July 30, 2011

I was not a badass 12 year old

Every summer for the majority of my youth, the family would load up in the minivan for the trek to my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania. This drive took approximately 15 years to complete and I was always convinced that by the time we arrived at our destination, I would be old enough to buy lottery tickets and watch “big people” movies.

Furthermore, since I can neither read nor sleep in cars, there was little distract me on the drive. The route up to Pennsylvania is not especially noteworthy aside from the fact that you can make a game out of counting police cars in Virginia. Oh and also that gold ball building thing in Knoxville from an old World's Fair that my mom pointed out every single trip. Eventually I discovered I could pass some time by trying to balance action figures and other small toys on my sleeping sister, though eventually I wasn't allowed to do that for silly parental reasons like “safety” and “respecting peoples' personal space”.

Finally I just started memorizing the exit numbers for tourist traps things off billboards. (This will be relevant later.)

One summer, my dad was not making the return drive back with us for some reason that I do not remember and is helpfully not relevant to this story. Being as I was 12 and my sister was 4, we couldn't do a whole lot to help lift the driving load off my mom, so she decided to break the trip into 2 days, and we would post up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a night.

From my earlier intense study of billboards, I knew that Gatlinburg was pretty much filled to the gills with tourist things. On of these was Ripley's Haunted Adventure, another attraction from the Ripley's Believe or Not folks. Before moving on, let me explain a bit more about my 12-year-old self.

In short, I had determined I was a badass. I wore almost exclusively boys' clothes in mostly black (Ok, honestly? I kind of miss being able to wear boy's shorts because those tend to be longer and have way more pocketses. I wore them well into college before my body decided “Ha ha! You're going to have lady hips now!” and ruined everything. Anyway...), watched a lot of sports, talked in a slightly deeper voice than I actually had, and wore thick, black wrist cuffs. I also was a bit reckless/clumsy and kept finding new ways to minorly injure myself. And while the wound itself helped to feed my “tough gal” image...well, we also had a 4 year old in the house, so I had Blue's Clues and Sesame Street band-aids. Not as tough. It was also kind of funny because I didn't swear at all (I had several friends who did...I have no idea what the “normal” age to start cussing is), but still wanted to be a badass, so I actually called myself “so bad-a” and then just sounded vaguely Canadian.

So here I was, a “touch chick”. Right before we left on our trip, one of the cable movie networks had shown all of the Halloween movies in a weekend marathon. I watched them all and giggled my way through, further inflating my tough self-image. (I have since watched them again and realized I wasn't scared because watching old horror movies in the day time with commercial interruptions is pretty much the least effective means of viewing a horror movie.) Now I felt like nothing was going to get to me.

So we're headed to Gatlinburg, and I'm pushing to my mom why I should be allowed to go do the Haunted Adventure while she and Julia do “lame stuff” like go to antique stores and get ice cream. She said we'd check it out once we arrive. I spent the next couple hours in the car talking up what a joke haunted houses were, and how I'd be fine due to my supreme 12-year-old toughness.

We arrive in Gatlinburg, which is as touristy-looking as you would expect. The main drag is full of signs and ads for all manner of everything, but I was on the lookout for my quest. I was going to show Ripley how tough I was and embarrass them for making a haunted house a pre-teen could traipse through. I found it a couple buildings down from the big Ripley's museum, waiting for me to show it how awesome I was.

It looked surprising innocuous for something that was really playing up how intense it was. You had to be 12 to go in without a chaperone. There were warnings and wavers and doomy music all about how you would probably die of fright just for looking at it funny. But to looked lame.

(I think they've downplayed the “you'll die of fright” in recent years, probably because they want to appeal to more people. Also, I'm amused they're Gatlinburg's #1 haunted house as I don't remember there being any other haunted houses in Gatlinburg).

So I stroll up to my mom, chest all puffed out, saying I don't need a chaperone, it'll be a cakewalk, and I'll see them in a hour. She does that “Oh...let's just see how you feel in a hour” thing that moms do so well, but signs off for me to go in. I group up, give a confident “yeah, I got this” smirk, and wave bye to mom.

They take you into the house in groups of 8-10 people. Notable other people in my group are Tough College Boy (TCB), Ditsy Girl (DG), and Large Biker Man(LBM). Once your group is introduced to one another, you board an elevator which goes up at an angle (I learned later this is to disorient you before you even get in, but back then I just thought it was poor design). As you ascend, the scary employee person lines up your group. To navigate the house, you form a conga line of doom, with each person putting their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. TCB, having been acting tough and tooly to impress DG, is tasked to lead the group. I, being at least 10 years younger than anyone else there, am placed at the end while scary employee cackles at me. LBM is in front of me, which is a problem, for I am short now and was even shorter at 12. I cannot effectively reach his shoulders to stay attached to the group.

Finally, we make it to the top and are led into a dark room. Scary employee makes some “boo” noises, spins everyone around, and sets us on our way. It goes pretty smoothly at first. TCB feels his way around the room (and around DG) and we make it aways through. I don't remember it being particularly scary – it was dark, things jump out at you. They have live actors who pop out in crazy makeup and try to spook you. It was slightly off putting, but nothing scary.

As we progress, TCB leads us to an awkward corner of a room that we can't see in. The terrain was kind of like a bunch of uneven sized steps. As we're fumbling through, something terrible happens. DG...breaks a heel. She's ranting and raving and slapping TCB upside the head for breaking her shoe. Her shit fit gets the attention of an employee and she demands to be taken out of there because she was not following “that idiot” anymore. So the employee opens a side door and takes her out. In doing so, he let a TON of light into the room and completely ruined the atmosphere you were going for. It's like when you're riding Space Mountain and the lights come on – the experience is blown for the rest of the ride. (Or you become all too aware of how close the cars come to each other and the structure, which again, ruins the experience). I'm wondering how this is even going to make me a tad scared now that we've seen all the nooks in this rather large part, and from that can extrapolate the rest.

So we're going along, and everyone is joking like we're just hanging out playing Scrabble. We reach the “spooky insane asylum” part of the house. There's lot of little rooms where the live actor doctors are experimenting on live actor patients and it's actually kind of unsettling since that kind of stuff actually did happen, and I start to get a little weirded out. (In general, the only kind of horror movies that every really scared me were those set in old style insane asylums because again, a lot of that actually happened to some extent). However, then one of the doctors threw a “heart” at us and it comically bounced as it hit the floor.

As we are about to round the corner out of the asylum, you pass one last actor in a cage, alternating between quietly asking to be let out and then screaming about “them” at you. He was actually pretty good (for the 2 minutes you see him, anyway). We move on to another “disorientation” type room.

Here, the “short arms” problem gets exacerbated by the wonky room design, and I lose LBM for a bit. I honestly get a little scared here, some knee-jerk reaction to being abandoned. I rush to catch up, and start hearing a lot of weird breathing behind me. I first wonder if we've gone in a circle (it had happened before), and this was just TCB, but then I hear him aways ahead. Now I am actually starting to freak out because his voice seems very far away and parts of my brain are realizing that I am 12 and it's okay to be afraid and besides, I don't know these people anyway. I try to tell myself the weird breathing is just me, sounding funny because I don't expect to be freaking out. I hurry more to find LBM. Then...everything happens at once.

1) I locate LBM's shoulder (he had a leather vest, so he was easy to determine) and feel relief.

2) Something touches my shoulder

3) Someone whispers “I'll just give them you instead” in my ear

4) Brain realizes it must defend itself and initiates action

5) Brain realizes one second to late to do anything the situation and origin of voice

So yeah...In short, I panicked and assaulted an attraction employee. In the worst way possible.

I screamed out “I'm sorry!!” but I think the guy had disappeared to go take a breather. I pretty much push the line the rest of the way out of the house. In the last room, someone chases you with a chainsaw, but I blaze away from him before he even gets the chance to try to get in my face. I almost tackle LBM in a mad race to flee. I am in full on panic mode when I reach the sidewalk outside, hyperventilating, desperately trying to find my mom. (I honestly can't tell you which scared me more – that guy making me jump out of my skin, or the possibility that I would get in trouble for kicking said dude in the jewels) However...there is no mom. I curl up on a bench and some squirrel gets all up in my business as I wait there, telling myself I am just the worst badass ever.

Finally, my mom arrives, jokingly commenting that their “lame things” took a little longer than expected. She ask me how it goes and I say that we just don't need to talk about it ever. She smiles that knowing mom smile, and asks if I want ice cream...or is that “too lame?”.

I ate the hell out of that ice cream.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm not dead!

This is a little post to prove that I haven't forgotten this blog exists, and also to mention that I have been appropriately shamed for not updating.

I have some reasons for not posting - I was doing adult things. First, Kane and I bought a house.

It is all pretty and houselike, with walls and stairs and a garbage disposal (in which a measuring spoon got stuck and I unclogged it all by myself LIKE A BOSS). So we MOVED ALL THE THINGS and have been getting settled in. Why did we buy a house, you may be wondering? Well, I am expecting a baby in September.

The small creature is a boy. So that's...exciting. What with the weight gain and the puking and random pain. Woo. Hoo. In all seriousness, I am quite happy and excited and all that jazz.

Time Out: I was sitting cross-legged typing this up and twitched my toes a little bit. My peripheral vision decided that my toes were actually giant bugs of doom and that my response needed to be complete unbridled terror. I literally flew across the couch.

This is 37% of why I can't get things done. Also yes, that is a plush Companion Cube and the 2010 Winter Olympic Mascot (Quatchi the Sasquatch). They live on my couch. yeah, baby. Apologizing now for any slew of nauseating "oooh, progeny!" posts which come up in the future.

So that's things for me right now, with even more things possibly coming up on the horizon.

I have a more interesting post in the works (where have you heard that before), but this time there is actually work occurring on it. :)


Monday, February 7, 2011

I broke the funny switch and also clowns are scary

I think I broke the parts of my brain that make funny things. I realized that I kind of went selective amnesia on the blog about a week ago, and so I was all "Ima make cool blog entry like a boss!" Then...I realized why I haven't been updating. I can't make things funny. I was going to post about the icepocalypase we had last month, but my post kept just getting all angry. Basically, I just feel like this all the time:

And it short-circuits the funny part of my brain. And apparently makes my hair go all clown-tastic. Thankfully it doesn't turn rainbow-colored.

In keeping with the circus-theme (which is an odd choice because I am not a fan of the circus and I HATE clowns. They are just the most terrifying things that ever was), I kind of feel like I am juggling many things and I dropped the "be fun and awesome and talk about Batman and dinosaurs in the blog" ball.

Hey, at least my hair chilled out. So I've got this kind of successful juggling going on (this is total bull, by the way. I could not juggle in real life to real life. Like, if I was in Saw 17 and it was like "you must juggle these balls of acid to make the key appear before the bear trap snaps you in half...I would be snapped in half. I completely lack the coordination needed to juggle. Also...a circus-themed Saw would be brilliant, because again, CLOWNS ARE PISS-INDUCING TERROR. I cannot stress this enough.) I juggle and it makes me so tired and I get home like this

and the cat comes over and like, smacks me to pay some attention to him but then I'm like "I still hate you!" so he meows when I want to sleep. And that punk is LOUD. So sleep deprivation and general crazypants make me unable to make funny happen with the words.

So...that's kind of why there has been no blogging. I do hope to acquire some equilibrium once again because I do have some tales I would really like to make MS Paint out of, like buying a house. Or my favorite, the time I kicked an employee of a haunted house in the balls. See, don't you want the background behind that one?


Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Realisitic New Year's Resolutions

So...guess who is totally late on making this post! This gal. To be fair, there has been a tremendous about of college football happening in the last week and I've got to binge on that before it goes away until September. Also...I'm becoming an old lady and falling asleep really early in the evening.

Anyway...This whole New Year thing happened and now it's 2011 and MAGIC HAPPENS. Now, I'd love to say that I want to do all these super ambitious "Lose Weight! Save Money! See the World! Climb a Mountain! Wrestle a Bear!" sorts of things, but then I would be lying and that's no way to do anything. I would like to do some of those things (Who would really want to climb a mountain, though? :D ), but I find that if you make realistic goals and succeed at them, you are inspired by your success and can do the more difficult stuff. So, I'm going to focus on my more realistic goals - the things I think I can actually do and/or make me feel like a total badass.

1) Continue to be champion of the stairs

This actually kind of is like climbing a mountain, assuming you are comfortable metaphorically calling 10 flights of stairs a mountain. (I define "flights" as the bits before a landing.) Either way, I get to feel like a badass when I make it to the top all by myself. This goal is fairly easy to attain too. I ride the train home with generally the same group of people every day and they consistently don't make it beyond level 3 of the stairs. And since it's in the afternoon, most people are all tired and stuff and don't want to walk up to level 5. This, my reign is pretty safe as champion of the stairs and I get to end the workday feeling like a winner.

2) Have At Least One of Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, Neil Gaiman, or Brent Spiner respond to something I tweet to them

Well, this actually isn't really realistic, just something that would make me feel awesome, and again, like a badass. These dudes are made of win. When I meet "celebrity" types in person, I'm generally pretty chill and not at all fan girly, but something about being replied to on Twitter just makes me feel cool. I would squee, not gonna lie. I guess I just need to attempt to be witty and maybe one day I will be noticed and things will be awesome.

3) Watch more Jeopardy

This is a prime example of taking a smaller, easy-to-do resolution and using it for bigger things. Some day, I want to be on Jeopardy. However, every time I take the stupid test I always get a string of questions on poets and artists...probably the two subjects I am least knowledgeable on. I suck up the test, and no audition for me. By resolving to merely watch more Jeopardy, I get the comfort of beating Kane at it when we play at home, and the opportunity to hopefully learn more about poets and artists and hopefully one day, make it to the big time. It comes on well after I get home every day, and winning makes a perfect addition to dinner. Plus, with Thursday Night football soon disappearing, I will be able to watch almost every night.

4) Go Camping Once

This one is pretty much for my husband. He's all "yay outside with the rocks and trees and bears that might eat your face!" like a good Boy Scout. He happily tells me about the time he went camping and then woke up and there was snow everywhere and it was 19 degrees outside. That is...possibly the most unpleasant situation in which I could find myself. I like snow, however, I am also super sensitive to cold (it causes pain and pukeyness and it's terrible). There are also bugs and dirt and the ground has rocks and it's uncomfortable. Basically, I really like showers and mattresses, and camping does not have these things. We tried to go camping once and the road that Kane claimed lead to site ran right into a giant pondy swampy thing. Kane was all "maybe something flooded" and I was all "and you wanted me to SLEEP there!?" And so we drove home.

However, because I am nice, I will endeavour to go camping again. I offer the living room as a possible destination. :D

5) Build More Blanket Forts

Go home, grab some sheets, pillows, blankets, couch cushions and something to make a support structure (the couch sans cushions, chairs, tables....) and build a fort in your living room. I guarantee you, you will be happier. Anything you can do becomes at least 6 times better if done in a pillow fort. Homework? Boring. Homework in a pillow fort? Total win. Watching a movie? Hopefully interesting. Watching a movie in a pillow fort? Best movie ever.

We built a pillow fort in our old apartment awhile back. It stayed for like 2 weeks. We slept in it (well, all the sheets and things were used in the construction). Our friends even tried to make their own fort, but their cat went all Godzilla on it. Having a sweet fort allows you to feel awesome and collected and be empowered to take down all those big scary resolutions you made. In case, the pillow fort can used for #4 and living room camping. It's a win for everyone! More blanket forts in 2011!

So there are 5 more realistic resolutions that well help make me feel like a badass. I also want to keep coming up with funny things to blog.

Now, bring on that bear.


PS: Here is the sweet pillow fort we made.