Adult Life: A Swirling Vortex of Terror and Chicken Nuggets

I no longer work at Denny’s. I quit because my manager was mean and FUCK if I’m gonna work midnights when I don’t even have to. At first, I felt really bad about it because I just walked out in the middle of a shift, but now that I think about it… I was sweeping cigarette butts and wiping booster seats, assembling kid’s cups and dealing with the impossible-to-please elderly. Who needs that, really? Not me. I do miss the pancakes, though. :/

Now, thanks to my Fairy Godmother-in-law-except-I’m-not-really-married-to-her-son I have a different job as a teacher’s assistant at a local grade school, the exact place to which I once said I would never return. It’s amazing how much your priorities can change when you have no money. Oddly, the worst part of the job is the seventh graders. Pretty much every other grade I’ve found to be tolerable at least. Sure, there are a couple problem kids here and there, but that’s to be expected. I mean, get any group of 200 people together and there’s sure to be a few assholes. The other worst part of the job is dressing professionally, which I hate. Why can’t I grade papers in a t-shirt and jeans? It’s not like the kids police my fashion sense or anything. (Well, maybe a couple kids do.)

Some good things about working at the grade school are the fact that I have access to soda throughout the day, I get to cramp my little sister’s style and my lunches are paid for! Yay! I have to eat the kids’ food, but it’s free! Even if the chicken nuggets are dry and the burritos can also double as sledgehammers, if I didn’t have to make it and I didn’t have to pay for it, I will eat it and be thankful.

Another interesting thing I learned about myself during some soul-searching this summer: I hate writing essays.

Yeah. I do. Which is weird, because I’m really good at it. I guess I just convinced myself that if I was good at it, that I also liked it. But no. I realized that I would rather mud-wrestle an angry gorilla than bullshit five pages on “To Kill a Mockingbird”. (I actually have written an essay on that book, and I’ve never even read it.)

In light of this realization, I’ve decided to change everything. It’s kind of like I’ve been in a marathon, and have only just realized that I’m running in the wrong direction. Majoring in English will guarantee a buttload of essays, and I just don’t think I have the emotional capacity for it.

So I’m in Anatomy and Physiology I and Psych, trying to learn more about people… and hopefully myself.

Maybe I’ll be a doctor. Does anyone want to pay for me to go to med school?

Adult Life: Denny’s and Doing Stuff

Even though I won’t technically be an adult until August 3rd, I’d like to start a new series on this blog devoted entirely to my post-high school life. I’ll answer questions such as “What am I doing with my life?” and “How do taxes work?” as soon as I figure both of those things out.

Let’s start with college. I pretty much despise it so far, but I’m hoping that will only last for the semester. I’m taking an online Intro to Literature class, which is painfully easy. So easy, in fact, that I am actually struggling with it. Also, I think that I burnt out my essay-writing index in high school. Maybe I can’t write essays while I’m on Lexapro? I might have to be miserable to churn out quality essays. I hate being the only one in class that likes Emily Dickinson.

Math class is going about as well as I expected, which is not very. My instructor looks like a twelve year old boy and I suck at factoring polynomials. I think I’m scraping by, though. At least I don’t have to write any essays.

I also reluctantly got a job as a hostess at Denny’s, so my days are now filled with pleasant-if-a-bit-creepy truck drivers and the impossibly grumpy elderly.

When I first got hired, I thought that truckers were going to be my main problem; that they were going to flirt and try and touch me and stuff, but I’ve actually never met a trucker (or, “professional driver”, as we’re supposed to call them) that was anything but nice. Or at least politely gruff. They all call me “ma’am”, which is weird, and sometimes tell me about an interesting place they’ve been, or something they’ve been thinking about. Yesterday I got into a one-sided conversation about pit bulls that I couldn’t get away from for at least ten minutes. But hey, I’m paid by the hour, so if the customer wants to talk…

Surprisingly, the most unpleasant people that come into Denny’s are the elderly. I mean, sure, maybe like 10% of them are sweet and understanding, but the vast majority of these babyboomers are just cruising through life on the back of an AARP card, not caring who they hit on the way. If I had a dollar for every time an old woman complained about “it’s cold” or “the table’s wet over here in this one spot wipe it up” or “i asked for my ridiculously complicated order five minutes ago where is it?” or “the sun’s in my eyes” or “I DON’T WANT TO SIT NEAR BLACK PEOPLE”, I could retire right now!

Despite all my whining, it’s actually not a bad job. Most of my coworkers are decent people, and sometimes I get tipped. (“Two whole dollars? Well gee whiz, sir, thank you!”)

Plus, the amount that I get to eat pancakes has gone up by at least 300%.

 

Warning: Fangirling Ahead

I get way too excited about history.

Once I spent 3 hours researching the origin of the letter “s.” Valkyrie is my favorite movie, and I sometimes watch it twice in one day. I’ve skipped school before to watch a documentary about Marie Antoinette or the Knights Templar on the History channel. The point is, I take this stuff seriously.

So if a child asks me who the greatest president is, you better bet I’ll have an answer.

Three letters: F. D. R.

Social Security! No more Prohibition! The CCC! The first disabled President! Electricity for rural areas! The TVA! An end to the Great Depression! Eleanor! Better healthcare! AWARENESS ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND RACIAL PREJUDICE!

*screaming*

Now, by this point, a child would be looking at me in fear, possibly crying as I try to make them understand how much FDR’s presidency shaped modern America. I wouldn’t care. Some girls are One Direction groupies, some girls are groupies to deceased Democratic Presidents.

FDR

Look at that face! :D

YEAH FDR!

The Freshman of the Opera

Sometimes I like to think of my life as an opera.

I’ve never actually seen an opera, unless you count the movie The Phantom of the Opera, but I assume that they are basically just musicals where the actors sing in a more extravagant fashion. Not that my life is extravagant, per se, but still.

My opera is filled with minor highs and lows in the beginning, floating along like Fur Elise before dramatically dropping into a sea of churning Tchaikovsky notes, moving so rapidly that the sudden plunge into an interlude gives one the sensation of standing on a bus that has just slammed its brakes.

Following this pattern chronologically, my high school career could be summarized as the rise after an interlude. (It certainly felt like it at the time, anyway.)

Freshman year found me a terrified fourteen-year old who clung to the few girls who weren’t embarrassed to be seen with me. I had a devastating crush on a boy in my Biology class, and unwittingly signed up for a journalism class, despite having no interest in journalism and crippling social anxiety. My wardrobe was an odd combination of body-shielding t-shirts/sweats and figure-hugging tank tops and jeans. I was torn between wanting everyone to notice me, and wanting to go completely unnoticed. (In hindsight, this may be something I still struggle with today.)

Sophomore year was the year of sharp turns and quick changes. My previously awkward and almost painfully appropriate relationship changed to something that Sandals Guy and I probably should’ve gotten referrals for in less than a week. Hormones are weird, and boys are even weirder. I still craved attention like a cat craves the red glow-y dot, but reacted poorly in almost every instance where I was given any significant amount of it. Like an elephant in the wild, I completely abandoned my herd to cling to a potential mate, which in my case, actually worked out fairly well.

Junior year encompassed the height of my high school career, wherein I was was forced to work harder than ever before in some classes while completely blowing other classes off. I gradually began to acquire friendly acquaintances and successfully curbed my instinctive rudeness. I began to seriously consider the future for the first time.

And now, the pièce de résistance, my senior year. First semester seems to be the climax of the story, in which the musical undertones present throughout the opera all suddenly seem to fall into place, and the main protagonist learns what it is she must do, immediately followed by a depressing and lengthy interlude. But she returns, sword in hand and wounds healed, to finish the battle she started. I guess we’ll see what happens in the end.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that my life is not a movie or an opera, that there will be no credits rolling when I graduate, no Judd Nelson to fist-pump his way into the sunset, that the story will continue. I used to think that it was just a poorly written story, that I didn’t care how it would end…

But I think I’m too much of nerd to not wait around and find out.

Cats

A Midsummer M. Night’s Dream

((To answer your question, no, I’m never going to get tired of making “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” jokes.”))

As a self-proclaimed cinephile, I’ve seen my fair share of awful movies.

Dorky Katherine Heigl romcoms, cheesy action flicks, anything starring Keanu Reeves, you name it, I’ve at least heard of it. Maybe I was raised in front of a TV, but now I serve as a fully functioning walking IMDb of horrible television. And what else could be expected of a girl whose favorite movie as a child featured The Rock riding around on a camel?

Alas, not all horrible movies can be unintentionally hilarious.

Take, for example, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. This movie made me seriously wonder how some films are put together. Did anyone at all watch the movie before it went to theaters, or did they just edit it all together and say “Yup, looks good!” Did they accidentally set fire to the good footage, leaving us only with these crappy outtakes? I know for a fact that there is no way M. Night ever watched the original show. He probably just glanced at the Wikipedia page and went from there. The script is awful, the acting is atrocious, and the characters, which originally are easily relate-able and original, fall disappointingly flat. The movie’s one saving grace is that of Shaun Toub, who I thought did a lovely job portraying Uncle Iroh (despite mispronouncing his character’s own name and being a different ethnicity entirely than that of the cartoon Iroh) in spite of the circumstances.

The Last Airbender is one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies that can make one so angry, sad, disappointed, and slightly nauseated while simultaneously making one marvel at the sheer fact that something so horrible was ever allowed to exist in the first place, like Frankenstein’s Monster, or Justin Bieber.

But honestly, I’m just thankful that Keanu Reeves wasn’t in it.

Malcolm and Me

Sometimes I think about the people watching me.

I wonder how they do it. Is there a giant screen somewhere with my face on it? Do they record it, and then play it all back later? Or do they assign one worker to, say, five people, and then that person is responsible for making sure that their five people are not terrorists. I hope that the last one is true, because that actually sounds fairly efficient.

I’ll assume the person watching me is a man. Mid-thirties, maybe forty. Glasses. A bag of Cheetos on his lap, half dead with boredom. Let’s call him Malcolm. (I like naming things, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Dear Malcolm,

If you’ve been watching me for a while, you’ve probably figured a few things out about me. For one, I’m a teenage girl with a lovely white wall behind me who sits in bed and, for the most part, stares blankly into the computer screen. I hope I haven’t stared into your soul or anything. I wouldn’t want to invade your privacy. (*cold stare*)

You might also be confused about a few things, if you read my browser history. No, I am not pregnant, and no, I am not a serial killer, or a bomb maker, or a terrorist. I am a writer, and sometimes I have to do basic Google searches such as “unique and pretty baby names”, “how to dispose of a dead body”, “how to quickly build a bomb”, and “if one were, hypothetically, planning to assassinate the president, what would be the best way to go about doing so?”

Another question you may have is, “Jordan, why do you always look like a Neanderthal when you concentrate?” The answer is, that is what my face naturally looks like, and I don’t know why.

Do you enjoy your job? Are you paid well? I hope so. I hope you live in a lovely home or apartment and have access to all the best movies Netflix can offer. Do you watch Bob’s Burgers? I highly recommend it.

Aside from all of that, I applaud you on your tireless efforts to stop terrorism, and only ask that you respect my personal privacy. I promise that when that guy comes over and we seem to be speaking in low murmurs, we really are not planning nefarious plots against the country. (Spoiler alert: We’re kissing.)

With all due respect, and with more patriotism than seems necessary,

Psychopath Pregnant Neanderthal Girl

 

A Midwinter Night’s Drink

It was a dark and snowy night.

Through the thin drywall and plywood, Jordan listened carefully for any sign of human intelligence which might hinder her trip to the kitchen. This was a dangerous and possibly deadly mission, but it was necessary. She couldn’t let her team down — not again.

On the other side of the wall, there was silence. Well, not really silence. She could hear the fish tank containing the Louises and the pop-cracking of the fire. The point is that other than that, there was no other sound. She quietly unlocked her door. This was the part when it could all go wrong. If her door made even the slightest noise, she could be mauled by the guard dogs. So carefully, and as slowly as possible, she opened the door and peered out into the hallway. Dark. Perfect.

Sidestepping down the corridor, she kept her breath slow and steady. It would not do to get distracted, like Stewart did on their last mission. Poor soldier’s eye was caught for just a moment by a Tiger Beat magazine, and next thing they knew he was lost in the supermarket. Jordan had to tell his family, his weeping wife clutching the tabloid to her chest.

Her resolve strengthened.

The next obstacle she would face came in the form of the gate at the end of the hallway. It was waist-high, meant to keep things out, but now it served to keep Jordan in. She peered through the darkness, desperately trying to find the small shape of the (hopefully) sleeping dogs. She sighed internally. It was too dark. Thankfully she knew the layout of this room by heart, and slowly raised a leg to step over the gate.

Snap!

She froze. Her hip had popped! She waited, anticipating the claws and teeth to snatch her ankle. None came.

Each minute seemed an eternity before Jordan decided that she hadn’t, in fact, woken the dogs. She slowly released the breath she had been holding, and continued on.

Once she had made her way over the gate, the rest of the mission seemed smooth sailing. Creep into the kitchen, acquire a glass from the cabinet, and fill it with the sweet tea undoubtedly sitting in the refrigerator. Nothing she hadn’t practiced before in Basic Training.

She felt the hardwood floor change to tile under her feet, and knew she was going the right way. Three steps forward, two steps right, and her arm was brushing the counter top. She opened the sleek cabinet door without a hitch, and recovered the first glass her hand closed around. She carefully closed the door and wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehead. Almost done.

Jordan clasped the handle on the refrigerator and pulled, thinking only of the ice cold beverage she would soon be enjoying, when there was suddenly a loud suction-y sound, the room filling with light.

Oh, no! She’d forgotten about the refrigerator light! She could hear the sounds of claws slapping against the floor, and knew the dogs were coming for her. Two paws hit her directly in the lower abdomen, hopefully not puncturing the skin. Another two paws scraped up and down her legs, and Jordan was intensely thankful that she was wearing her thick-padded pajama armor. The dogs made loud whining sounds, jumping up and down and digging their claws into her most vulnerable parts. The smaller one started howling.

Falling back, she ran into the cabinets and began to despair. She had failed. There would be no sweet beverage for her tonight, only the wounds inflicted upon her and the bitter sting of defeat. It wasn’t fair. All she had wanted was a midnight snack, a treat for completing the eighth season of Supernatural — wait. A treat!

A treat! Jordan’s eyes lit up in the dark. Maybe all was not lost! Fighting against the dogs, she made her way to the island and blindly grabbed around. There it was! A cardboard box containing none other than doggy treats.

She reached inside and grabbed two, handing one to the dog piercing her stomach, and the other to the dog licking between her toes. Happily, the dogs ran away to munch on their snacks, giving just enough time for Jordan to pull the tea pitcher out, fill her glass, and run back to her room.

Slamming the door behind her, Jordan collapsed to the ground, careful not to spill her drink. A single tear dripped, unbidden, from her dewy eyelashes.

“This was for you, Stewart.” She raised her glass in honor, and tearfully took the first sip.  

 

HALO: A User’s Guide

Ever wanted to play the riveting HALO series of video games? Intimidated by your lack of knowledge on the subject of MMORPGs? Not to worry! This blog post will tell you everything you could possibly need to know. So pull out your GameCube and let’s get started!

The HALO series was invented by a young Japanese bartender named Hideki Ryuga and his feisty boyfriend Yagami Raito. (The same duo which would later go on to invent the successful Microsoft corporation.) The two loved to shoot guns in their free time, however, after Yagami’s arrest for attempted murder, were forced to find an alternative outlet for their enthusiasm. After Hideki designed and processed the game, he presented it to Yagami as an anniversary present. The game was sold to the Mishima Zaibatsu for $4.5 million, and later distributed to the United States, as they knew that Americans would love a way to shoot one another without serving prison time. 

HALO is a game played by many hundreds of thousands around the world, but the vast majority of players are white men between the ages of ten to fifteen, and twenty-five to fifty. Very few of these players have any education beyond a high school diploma, so one must be careful when initiating conversation. Common situations new players find themselves in are: 1. Being screamed at. 2. Being threatened with violence. 3. The use of profanity. 4. Sexual harassment. Almost all of these situations are avoidable, thanks to the handy-dandy MUTE button. Remember: if he don’t sound cute, hit the mute. 

One question asked by many who are new to the HALO games is “Why can’t I see my character’s face?” Well, the answer to that lies in a lawsuit filed way back in 2005, when HALO was first being introduced to Western culture. Back then, all the characters were made to look exactly like the real-life person behind the screen, which caused a backlash when all of the thin people could use their aerodynamic advantage and run faster. Also, grossly overweight characters were an estimated 400 times easier to snipe. All of this, of course, changed when a young woman sued HALO because she was constantly harassed for being ugly. The courts ruled that, to prevent anything like this from happening again, all characters would be nameless, faceless, and basically indistinguishable from one another, except for by helmets and armor, which all basically look the same, anyway. 

When it comes to gameplay, there are only three basic rules. One, shoot as many people as you possibly can. Do not try to distinguish between teams or races, just blindly shoot into the crowd for maximum points. Two, if someone says something unkind to you, the proper reaction is to threaten the safety of his family and walk away. It’s better to be safe than sorry. An alternate way to handle this situation (if one is a follower of a peaceful religion, such as Buddhism or the Society of Friends) is to calmly walk up to the offending player and babble nonsensically until he leaves. And last but not least, make sure that you camp next to places where players might re-spawn, and kill them before they even realize where they are. This is one sure-fire way to gain respect and prestige among the gaming community. 

I hope that this short guide has been beneficial to you. Now, go out there and kill that Lich King! 

Word Vomit: December 1st, 2013

I am officially afraid of nothing. 

Yesterday I gathered up my courage, logged on to Netflix and watched The Human Centipede 2. I’m so proud of myself! It wasn’t nearly as scary as Tumblr had led me to believe. In fact, it was actually a really terrible movie. I was really disappointed.

Keeping with the spirit of the day, however, I and Sandals Guy watched American Mary, which was fantastic and I loved. It even passed the Bechdel Test! I found myself rooting for Mary the whole movie, which is rare in this genre. It’s so easy to go with the traditional villain/hero contrast, especially in slasher horror, and pull a Jason or Michael Myers. It’s so much more thematically interesting, however, to blur the lines between good and evil. Take “The Silence of the Lambs”, for instance. If you actually pay attention, you can see that Hannibal Lecter isn’t even the villain, Buffalo Bill is! That’s what makes the story so fascinating: Lecter isn’t scary because he eats people, he’s scary because he eats people and you still find yourself taking his side. We need more of that in the horror genre. 

It’s a lot of fun to watch scary movies with people who are easily frightened, especially if they don’t admit to being scared. Sandals Guy closed his eyes several times and even suggested turning off the movie during American Mary, while I’m bouncing up and down in excited rapture. Of course, after watching THC2, this movie almost felt like a romantic comedy.

Maybe I should widen my literary horizons and attempt to write horror. And not just gore for the sake of gore; I’m talking about tasteful, suspenseful, subtle stories that make one slightly uneasy and then linger in the back of their mind for weeks afterward. Especially if I could throw in just a dash of psychological fear, that’d be great. I did write a short story for American Literature about a ghost/demon; maybe I should pull that back out and revamp it. I don’t know, I guess I’ve been limiting myself to young adult, coming-of-age, John Green type stuff. Perhaps I’d do better to channel Thomas Harris or Stephen King. 

Boy, sometimes I wonder about myself…

Captain Quirk, for the USS Enterprise

I’ve been described many times in my relatively short life as “quirky.” Most of the time, it was the politest way for an adult to tell another adult that they thought I was weird. 

Honestly, I was a weird kid. I am an amalgamation of the best of late 90’s television, early 2000’s music, a strict religious upbringing, and having the bulk of my childhood friends be either 50+ years old, or Labradors. Top that off with being allowed to watch Japanese cartoons late at night, and it’s amazing I turned out this normal. For time’s sake, I will only go into the three most obvious of my personality quirks.

First, I have this weird obsession with shutting doors. I don’t know why, but for some reason, if I’m in a room, I feel the overwhelming need to have the door shut. There’s probably some deep-seated psychological reason for this, but I can’t figure it out. I even have to lock my door when I sleep, because it’s the only way to be 100% sure no one will open it while I sleep. My parents do like to torture me by pointedly leaving doors wide open, though, especially in the bathroom when the washer/dryer are running. I mean, come on!

Second, I am a horror/psychological thriller/criminal justice fanatic. I think it all started when I was about 12, and mom bought me “The Silence of the Lambs” movie to show me how scary it was. I ended up loving it so much, I got the entire book series. Hannibal Lecter was, and is to this day, my favorite fictional character ever created. From then on, I’ve searched and scoured for the scariest movie ever, and have only found one movie too intimidating for me to watch. (It’s The Human Centipede 2. I’m sure I’ll conquer it one day, though.) I laughed through the entire SAW series, as well as Insidious and the Paranormal Activities. Very rarely do I find quality horror, but when I do, it’s like Christmas! I think it says a lot about a person when they ask their grandparents for a season of Criminal Minds for their birthday. Not a lot of people understand this one, and the ones that do I’ve found generally aren’t as enthusiastic as I am. 

Third, for whatever reason, I am capable of explaining myself an estimated 48 bajillion times better in writing than through speech. Conversationally, I am inept, almost to the point of stupidity. Yet give me a keyboard and suddenly I can structure a lecture that would make some tenured professors weep in awe (just don’t expect me to say it out loud.) Maybe I should just carry a keyboard with me wherever I go, and type instead of speaking, like Steven Hawking. Speaking through computer screens is so much safer than interacting with… other humans

There are many, many more, but some are kind of embarrassing. I will save us all some discomfort by ending with a quote from Roman Payne: “All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.”