Are you afraid of the dark?

10 Jun

If you really want to give a seven-year-old nightmares, skip the ghost tales and bogeyman threats. Do what my visiting aunt did and tuck the kid in with a bedtime story about a debilitating disease. My aunt’s epidemic of choice? AIDS, of course. If Rent is any indication of history, AIDS was the disease of nineties, and I’m sure my aunt was just trying to keep me aware. She was hardly descriptive but she unintentionally terrified me, robbing me of countless hours of sleep.

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Summertime Blues and Little Shop of Squandered Dreams

8 Jun

I am beginning to realize how incredibly fruitless my first few weeks of summer as a college graduate have been. Upon returning home, I promptly ordered CPA exam and GMAT preparation materials. Despite my good intentions, the packages still remain untouched and unopened while my Netflix account reveals countless hours of nostalgic indulgence streaming old episodes of Rugrats.

When my parents used to control my summers, I admit that my days were more productive. Having two working parents, I experienced various day camps, spending my time oil painting at art camp, dissecting squids at science camp and memorizing the books of the Old Testament at Christian camp, which was strange only because my family is not particularly religious.

In an attempt to foster a sense of creativity and a passion for performance, my parents also enrolled my sister and me in a local theater, excuse me, theatre camp. Our teacher loved musicals, all musicals, as evident by her decision to produce the grossly inadequate sequel, Grease 2. As a theatre major at the local university, she considered herself and artist and as an artist, she took many artistic liberties.  She rebelliously altered the script of Grease 2 with the addition of a dorky version of the Pink Ladies known as “the Lavender Ladies.” (Yes, I was cast as a “Lavender Lady.” Typecasted much?) She even dared to change the iconic lyrics of the music of West Side Story to make the songs more PG. Think: “When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way from your first DAY OF SCHOOL to your last dying day.” (For those of you unfamiliar with the song, the censored word is “cigarette.”)

My big break came when I was cast as the female lead in our version of Little Shop of Horrors (see previous image.) The teacher must have recognized my X factor, because she overlooked my pitchiness and overall tone-deafness and gave me the role of Audrey anyway. We children practiced for weeks, trying to master our carefully choreographed routines. I even took the dances to the next level, adding in extra awkward steps here, and a few uncoordinated slips there. After blood, sweat and literal tears, the day of the show arrived and despite my nerves, I learned I had nothing to fear. I could tell the audience loved my performance – those first graders laughed at all of my jokes. Nailed it! I began to fantasize about my undoubtedly successful career on Broadway.  A star was born.

Unfortunately my parents never sent me back to that camp. They probably thought that I had already mastered the craft.

***

By the way, here is a video of my favorite song from the show. Imagine a bunch of elementary school children singing this, with less soul and even less skill.

Sister of the Year

5 Jun

My younger sister, Shelby is so lucky to have me, someone to guide her through the trials and tribulations of adolescence and be her shining beacon. Even at a young age, I took the responsibilities of being a big sister seriously and dutifully taught her the ways of the world.

We used to share a room, and we would lay in bed discussing life, before falling asleep. One night, in the darkness of our room, I decided that I would share with her my darkest secret.

“Hey Shelby,” I began.

“What?” she responded, annoyed.

“Guess what?”

“What?!” Her interest peaked.

“I’m adopted,” I lied.

“You are not,” she replied skeptically. Mama didn’t raise no fool.

“Yes I am!” I persisted. “In fact,” I continued, acting upon a sudden burst of inspiration, “I’m a magic bunny.”

“Yeah right.”

“Am too!” (To this day, I am still just as clever with the comebacks.)

“Oh yeah? Then where are your ears?” my sister sneered triumphantly.

Crap! I panicked. Where was I going to get a pair of ears at this time of the night? I grabbed a blanket, folded the ends up to fashion a makeshift pair of ears. Then, I stuck my new ears behind my head and cried out, “Right. Here.”

Silence.

Finally, Shelby spoke, whispering quietly, “Do Mom and Dad know?”

Of course this wasn’t the only life lesson that I shared with dear Shelby. I’m a better sister than that. I also told her that the radio was filled with tiny people who created the music and terrified her by explaining that the soap bubbles created when washing your hair were housed ticks. Creative, I know. I even joined forces with my older brother, telling her that the Loch Ness monster lived beneath our house and that the noises from the heater were in reality, the snores of the beast. And I obviously told Shelby that she was adopted but that’s so cliché.

Eventually, my sister started to catch on and stopped believing me and my fantastic stories. She is no longer nearly as gullible as her four-year-old self once was, and I like to think that I deserve some of the credit for this crucial development.

Why My Dog Will Never be a Good Citizen

4 Jun

This is Kirby.


(In case you don’t speak dog, “Woof!” roughly translates to “Hello, I’m a dog!”)

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to sneak him into places where he’s not allowed…malls, restaurants, libraries. I recognize these are places where he shouldn’t be anyway, but Kirby and I, we answer to no one. Sure, I could carry him around in a purse but I fear being judged as one of those girls. Plus, I have a strong suspicion that my arm would get very tired, very quickly.

I figured out that Kirby’s golden ticket into dog-unfriendly establishments is a service dog bandana – he can go anywhere with one of those babies. The problem is, apparently, they don’t just give bandanas out. I researched it and apparently the dog has to earn it. What bull. At 11 lbs and over a year old, Kirby is vastly unqualified to become a guide dog. He’s also somewhat afraid of bathrooms. I’m pretty sure it’s important for guide dogs to be able to fearlessly walk into bathrooms, for obvious reasons.

Therefore, the viable option is for him to try to become a therapy dog. Sounds cushy, right? Wrong! In order to become licensed as a therapy dog, Kirby needs to pass an AKC Canine Good Citizen test. The criteria can be found here:

http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/training_testing.cfm

In short, it’s fairly rigorous and I am fairly certain that Kirby would fail at least half of these tasks, seeing that this is his response to most of my commands:

“Kirby come!”

“Kiiiiiiirby …coooooooome!”


Granted, if you happen to have a treat on hand, it’s a completely different story.

Kirby will beg.


Kirby will lie down.


Kirby will play dead, though I more convinced that he’s feigning illness for sympathy.


Kirby will invade your personal space.



Kirby will even try to do his entire repertoire of tricks simultaneously, sans command. He’s a go-getter. In fact, if the AKC will allow me to hold a Beggin’ Strip over his head throughout the entire exam, then Kirby may have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, this is unlikely the case, so I will need to devise a new way to smuggle Kirby into places. Suggestions?

(Wo)man vs. Food

4 Jun

I entered the ring a mere girl and left a champion.

When my friends from my semester abroad in Shanghai wanted to reunite, we figured a battle of appetites would be the perfect activity to rekindle our friendship. Of course, I was can’t-sleep-the-night-before excited. I’m not the most competitive person, nor am I the biggest eater but there’s something about eating competitions that ignites a passion within me. I think I just love talking smack, emasculating male friends and having an excuse to wear pants with elastic waistlines.

We arrived at my favorite all you can eat shabu shabu restaurant ready to eat…or should I say comp-eat. However, the restaurant apparently blatantly lied to me as they were, contrary to previous promises, closed on Memorial Day. Blood was rushing from my brain. My body felt weak. My soul ached. I was tempted to scavenge through the restaurant’s trash for leftover meat scraps. I wanted, nay, NEEDED copious and copious amounts of food. Remnants of dignity and a continued desire for gluttony persuaded us (well, me) out of the dumpster and instead, led us to a $11.95 Korean barbecue buffet.

Now, you can’t reasonably have high expectations at a buffet that costs less than $12. At the same time, when your blood sugar level is rapidly dropping you don’t have any standards, so it was a perfect marriage. The buffet consisted of a hodge podge of mediocre to decent Korean dishes, the prize being the barbecued short ribs. It seems like everyone else was in on this little secret because as soon as the waitress refilled the tray, hoards of diners would swarm in like Asian people on a new batch of ribs, literally. Competition was fierce. No matter how attentive I was, this Korean grandmother always somehow beat me to the front of the line. A true veteran buffet-er.

In the end, it was too difficult to gauge who really won so we changed the competition to a feat of endurance against fellow buffet patrons. The unsuspecting dimwits didn’t even realize they were in a competition. Rookie mistake. We stayed until closing and chalked up our first victory as a team.

That day, I learned a lesson in camaraderie, in perseverance, in sadness, in happiness. Most importantly, I learned that I don’t want to eat short ribs for the next three years. Apparently, my parents didn’t get the memo as I found this in the fridge when I returned home, exhausted and scarred from the war.

Ribs, it’s (unfortunately) what’s for dinner.

Mom and Dad’s Worst Nightmare

3 Jun

Being a freedom-loving American child, I fought the shackles of my oppression created by who else but my parents. It only took 22 years to emerge from the battlefield, victorious.

Now before you start assuming that I am a product of “tiger parents,” let me set the record straight. Unlike Amy Chua, my parents, out of the kindness of their hearts, allowed me to go to sleepovers and play dates. Plus, they never threatened to burn my stuffed animals in an attempt to improve my piano performance — I think we all knew my efforts at musical greatness was a lost cause anyway. My life seemed pretty peachy right? WRONG. Oh, I had problems. Big ones, in fact. You see, my parents tried to keep me from my one true love: television.

I suppose my parents meant well. In restricting my television viewing to the weekends, they tried to foster an appreciation for more productive hobbies such as reading and sports. I even vaguely recall a dark time during which my parents cleverly canceled our cable subscription because what besides Saturday morning cartoons will interest a kid on weekend network television? I don’t remember those years very well — I try to block them out.

Unfortunately for my parents, they’re well-intentioned plans backfired…miserably. It was only natural, that when I left for college, my love of television became a full-fledged addiction. It started off with a little Ugly Betty here and a little Gossip Girl there. However, as my dedication to my studies waned and my procrastination habits intensified, I disregarded my upbringing, adding more and more shows to my list until I had 10 hours of television shows to watch each week. Even though it is currently an awkward time in TV land as most shows have already aired their season finales, I find myself invested in shows I don’t even like, e.g. The Voice. I even cried today watching the season finale of The Biggest Loser. Did I mention this is my first time watching the show? I think I’ve dropped to a new level of desperation. Maybe I should have read and exercised more in college.

So, the moral of this semi-pointless story is that 1) sometimes despite mom and dad’s best efforts, plans don’t always pan out and 2) “winning” in struggles against your parents isn’t always in your best interest. Don’t believe me? Watch an episode of Parenthood and get back to me, okay?

***I do want to note that my obsession with the small screen has not been transferred to the silver screen. I have yet to see many blockbusters including Inception and until recently, The Dark Knight. In fact, I had to Google “the Navi people” to understand a joke on the sitcom, Happy Endings last week. Please don’t judge me, okay? For that matter, don’t judge me for anything said in the post and we’ll get along famously.