Too Soon?

29 06 2012

So, awhile back, Arta, Ben, and I spent an entire dinner coming up with “too soon” board games and things. You know, like:

Risk: Hitler Edition
or
Operation: Abraham Lincoln

I was bored at work and I revisited that concept today. See, there was this article on MSN about this Miss Holocaust Survivor pageant (it took me WAY too many tries to spell that word correctly. Blogging Buzzed. I like it. It’s gonna be a Thing.) and people were reacting to this concept. Some guy made a comment about how it was making light like turning it into a game show or something. That got me onto Too Soon Game Shows. Which spun into Too Soon Board Games and Too Soon Musicals and Books a bit.

So. Here’s my list. I took off a couple of the REALLY more offensive ones.

Where’s Waldo?: The Anne Frank Book
I Spy: KGB

Survivor: Auschwitz
Survivor: Russian Gulag
Big Brother: Stalin Edition
The Apprentice: Post-Lenin Edition
Chopped: The Donner Party
The Amazing Race: Cold War
The Amazing Race: Trail of Tears
The Biggest Loser: America’s Biggest Loser: William H. Taft
The Bachelor: Henry VIII
America’s Got Talent: Feat. Ed Gein (it takes talent to make human lampshades!)
The Apprentice: Post-Lenin Edition
Deal Or No Deal: Israeli Olympic Team (the one that was held hostage)
Weakest Link: General Custer
So You Think You Can Dance: Bonnie and Clyde
Cash Cab: Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Other Games
Clue: Jack the Ripper
Candy-From-Strangers-Land
Snakes and Ladders: Adam and Eve
Monopoly: Mitt Romney Edition
Duck Hunt: Lee Harvey Oswald





How To Seduce Me

26 06 2012

If you really, REALLY want me to do something for you (like, say, take a job that you REALLY want me to take but I’m not sure I want to keep), just let me look through old documents. That’s all it takes.

I’m a sucker for history. And when I can see things for myself that were actually PART of history, I get really excited. Today I went to the State Historical Society to look through a few of the hundreds of boxes of documents, manuscripts, letters, scrapbooks, etc that belonged to a U.S. Congressman from Iowa. They’re all at least 100 years old. I held in my hand letters from office of Teddy Roosevelt. I saw his signature.

But, anyway. The people I’m temping for right now want me to take a permanent job. My job would be to scan all of these documents and create a sort of digital library, and then to do research and potentially write a book about this congressman from my town.

I definitely was not seeing this job as a permanent thing. I was going to keep applying for jobs, move to Chicago or some other awesome big city, and then get out of here. But then I went to the historical society and I got to talk with a REAL ARCHIVIST and I got to see all of these THOUSANDS of pages of documents that few people have ever seen. And they are all there waiting for ME to read them and do things with them.

And now…how can I leave? How can I not take this job? Now that I’ve seen these cool old things I’ll get to work with, it’s like…I MUST stay. I MUST. Those documents need me.

So…if you ever want to make me do something or want to seduce me, just show me old documents. At the least, it’ll make me want to drop everything and do whatever you want me to do as long as I can keep looking at them.





Ravenclaw, Bitches.

21 06 2012

Okay. I was gonna write this months ago (okay, like *A* month ago), but then things happened.

So, like I mentioned the last time I talked about Harry Potter, I joined Pottermore not all that long ago. It wasn’t like I was anxiously awaiting it, counting down the days, etc, etc, but I was still looking forward to seeing what it was all about. Before I joined, I’d read some reviews that said that it wasn’t all that awesome and had been warned not to expect *too* much. I didn’t approach Pottermore as a game or message board/chatroom/online community where I’d hang out with fellow fans all the time. I just wanted to find out the extras that JKR wrote.

And (like everybody) I wanted to take the OFFICIAL Sorting Hat quiz and find out my House once and for all. Lots of people think that this quiz is THE Harry Potter Sorting quiz. It was written by J.K. Rowling herself, and she knows the books and the Houses and Hogwarts better than anyone, right? I mean, you’d hope, anyway.

I know that Houses aren’t really supposed to matter because you’re supposed to be united anyway, but they do kind of matter and your House, at the VERY LEAST says a lot about who you are. Are you brave and chivalrous, are you friendly and loyal, are you cunning and ambitions, do you love learning? Your house says things about who you are as a person. At least, in the actual Harry Potter Universe it does, so why shouldn’t it, at least a little, here? What Harry Potter fan didn’t identify with a certain House, by the end? We all grew up discussing which House we would be in. For lots of us, it was the way that we started looking at who we were and how we saw ourselves. I was one of those kids that fell into the “Gryffindor is OBVIOUSLY the best House!” trap when I was first reading the books. I was so absorbed in the story that I was too busy identifying with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and cheering on the Gryffindors to think about the other Houses much. But then I realized that since Harry’s a Gryffindor, the book would obviously focus most on that House. From that moment on, I was like, “Bitches, I’m a RAVENCLAW.”

I’ve always been a Ravenclaw. As a kid I loved school. I loved learning things and reading. My love only deepened as I got older. I adore learning and I wish I could be a student forever. I love wit and learning. I am a Ravenclaw, bitches. So naturally, I was excited for Pottermore to confirm that I am indeed a Ravenclaw. And then:


It was the LAST thing I would have expected. I mean, I was relatively certain that I was going to be in Ravenclaw, but I never in a million years thought I would be in Slytherin. But there you are. I’m a Slytherin.

I’m not particularly cunning. I suppose I’m reasonably ambitious, but only in the sense that I’m ambitious enough that I actually do things that I need to do instead of only reading or doing whatever I feel like doing. It has nothing to do with how Slytherin is portrayed in the book. I know that there are a lot of people who consider themselves Slytherin and are proud and thrilled to be there. But I’m not one of them.

I’ve thought a lot about Slytherin since I got Sorted. And a lot about myself. What Slytherin qualities do they think I have? I guess I’ve been concerned about connections and networking and jobs lately. But that’s because I’m graduating college and I have to do SOMETHING, don’t I? Does that mean that I’m not a true Ravenclaw because learning is the means to an end instead of something I love? I genuinely love learning. Or at least I’ve thought I did. Do I not love learning for learning’s sake enough for the Ravenclaws? WAS it actually just a means to an end? Does J.K. Rowling know me better than I know myself?

It’s kind of an existential thing. Well, not so much anymore, but at first it really was. I realize that it shouldn’t be a big deal. And really, I know that it’s not. I’m still a Ravenclaw, no matter what Pottermore says. But it just bothers me a little, because when I go on Pottermore (which I don’t much, because I finished going through the first book and there’s not a lot else to do), I feel like I’m not really ME. It feels wrong being a Slytherin because that’s NOT ME.

I know that it’s not a huge deal because it’s just a website. But it kind of is. Or at least, to 12-year-old me it would be a GIGANTIC deal. I am a Ravenclaw. And I wish I could be on the site. I’ve tried to get used to being a Slytherin. Sometimes I feel a bit of House loyalty. I’m starting to react VERY strongly whenever Gryffindor has more points than us. I try referring to us as ‘us.’ But inside I know I’m a Ravenclaw.

I guess the point of this “review” of Pottermore is that I kind of wish you could retake the test. Maybe you could have just one mulligan or something. It’s just a really weird feeling to feel like I’ve been Sorted into the wrong House. Like I said though, it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s just weird and I kind of wish that I could earn points for Ravenclaw and officially be able to call myself a Ravenclaw.





Crossing The Falls

15 06 2012

I’m currently watching tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walk across Niagara Falls. It’s live. If this guy falls and dies, I am probably going to see it. I’m watching because a) come on, I’m watching someone walk across Niagara Falls on a fucking tightrope and b) the sports lighting company I work for is lighting it.

He comes from a family of tightrope walkers, the Flying Wallendas. In their nearly 110-year history, seven family members have died doing this. His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda died in a 10-story fall while he was walking between two hotels in Puerto Rico. He was 73.

He’s fifteen minutes into his walk now. The winds are gusting in circles around him in ways that they didn’t expect. He’s currently being battered by those wins and hit with mist that’s actually driving rain.

He’s very, very calm. He’s constantly praising God and Jesus. His faith is clearly very strong. He is able to answer questions from the reporters and his voice is so calm and so assured.

I can see the wire bouncing from here as he reaches the halfway point.

“Praise you, Jesus,” he says.

His father has a direct connection with him. “How is it there? I can see that it’s pretty wet. Are you wet?”

“Yep. Water IS wet.”

“Hahaha.”

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you, Lord. ”

“How’s the wire? Cutting off any circulation?”

TV sponsors have made Wallenda wear a harness. He didn’t want to. Even with the tether, the walk is still incredibly dangerous. The tether looks open at the bottom. It looks like he could still fall to his death.

“No, it’s fine,” his calm voice is suddenly tense. “I just feel like a jackass wearing it is all.”

He reaches the bottom of the wire. He is 35 feet lower than when he started and is starting his ascent. He is about to cross the border into Canada. The hardest part is yet to come. As he crosses the brink of the falls on the other side, he’ll catch an updraft from the falls. This is the most dangerous part of the walk.

“You know, Nik, I was thinkin’…this is almost 45 years after your great-grandfather crossed the gorge. And now it’s so cool that you’re doing this.”

We listen as he continues to pray and walk. Evidently this is a meditative experience for him. He is calm and keeping up a commentary of praise, punctuated with reassurances from his father, the safety expert.

The reporters check in.

“Nik, how do you feel?”

“Well, I’m drained. My hands are going numb and I feel really weak. But I can hear the crowd cheering and they are what’s gonna get me there.”

As Wallenda continues his walk, he kneels, perhaps to collect himself. He points at the crowd, grins, and pumps his fist.

He runs the last few feet. His Uncle Mike, holding the tension on the wire,  catches his eye and he grins. He jumps off onto the lift that will take him down to safety and pumps his fist. He blows kisses to the crowd.

As his family hug him and congratulate him, Canadian officials ask for his passport. He carried it with him. He pulled it out of his pocket.

“What is your purpose for entry?”

“To inspire people around the world.”

He is still just as calm as he was before the walk. He says that he made it by praying and thinking of all of his ancestors who have done successful walks before him. This has been a lifelong dream. No one in history has walked across the falls before. He made it look so easy, but I know that it absolutely was not.

I don’t really have a moral to this, and it’s the first thing I’ve ever “liveblogged.”

I guess all, really, is that now I just have a lot of feelings. Either way, seeing that was SUPER impressive.

Apparently next he’s going to be the first person ever in the history of the world to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. So, I look forward to watching that. Maybe. Maybe if I tape it first, so I know he’s okay. It’s stressful.





Desert Island Books

3 06 2012

I found this survey thing on YouTube and decided to do it, because my Twin mentioned something to me about Sesame Street/Muppets and now I am too scared to sleep. So…this is a twist on the whole “which book(s) would you bring to a desert island?” thing, because there are five categories. So. Lemmie know your picks!

Also, no being a smartass and saying “How To Build a Raft” or “How To Survive On a Desert Island.” ASSUME YOU’RE WITH SOMEONE WHO KNOWS. OR THAT YOU’RE JUST GOING TO SPEND ALL YOUR TIME READING AND SURVIVE JUST FINE. Or maybe that you’ll die but not till you’ve read allllll the books you want there.

So. Without further ado. My list!

  1. A book you have read before and want to read again (and again, and again)
    This is hard because there are so many. But I think it would have to be Leaves of Grass because that book goes everywhere with me and I can’t imagine being stranded somewhere indefinitely without it.
  2. A book you haven’t read before but have always been meaning to read
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’ve been meaning to read it for a year now, but it’s sooooo huge and daunting so…you know…college plus being intimidated means I haven’t read it yet. Plus, that book is freaking long and requires a lot of concentration, and the prose makes you want to get lost in it forever, so it’d probably take me awhile. The only danger is that I might not “get it” and it might be “over my head” (yet another reason why I HAVEN’T read it yet).
  3. A childhood book
    Ummm…can I take the whole Harry Potter series? Those books ARE my childhood, and I can’t take just one. But I guess if I had to take just one, I’d take the sixth. Or maybe the fourth. I just finished re-reading the fourth, and the part where Voldemort comes back STILL terrifies me to this day. No, you know what? This is my post and I can take the whole damn Harry Potter series if I want. Maybe by the time I crash they’ll have combined them all into one freaking huge volume so it’s technically one book. That can double as a chair or table, or be used to bludgeon enemies or small animals for food.
  4. A series
    The Twilight series. I’ll probably need kindling for a fire. But for real, I guess I’d take allllllll of J.R.R. Tolkien’s stuff. If it’s about Middle Earth but NOT The Lord of the Rings, it totally still counts.
  5. Random Choice: Pick whatever you want, I don’t care…
    To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, because who doesn’t want to have an existential crisis alone on an island? I know I sure do.

I wonder if this means I have to bring all of these books with me every time I’m flying over water or going anywhere where I might be stranded on a desert island…that would be REALLY hard.





Empty Spaces

1 06 2012

“If all of your friends were hanging off a cliff and you could only save four of them, which four would you save?” my sister asked me yesterday.

I looked up from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, shocked. “What?”

“If all of your friends were hanging off a cliff, and all of them would die unless you saved four, who would you save?”

“I’m not going to answer that. It’s ridiculous.”

“All your friends are gonna die, then.”

“They are not. That’s ridiculous. I can’t just pick four of my friends to save. These kinds of things just make you feel like crap. Just shut up and let me read.”

“It’s not real. Just answer.”

“Shut up, Pie!” I snapped, “I’m not even going to think about it.” But I was thinking about it.

Last night I was kind of down. I’d just gotten home from my second day of work and there was no one to see, nowhere to go, and nothing fun to do to unwind. Wasting hours on the internet just isn’t fun when you’ve already spent eight hours looking at a computer screen. And reading isn’t even that great, even for fun, when you’ve spent the better part of eight hours reading technical, jargon-filled articles, tutorials, and case studies about building digital libraries and research databases. I went from having a best friend next door, from whom I was virtually inseparable, and many other friends only five or ten minutes away, available at a text message’s notice, to this: With the exception of three hours at my brother’s graduation party, I have not talked to anyone who isn’t related for me (except for work) for 11 days.

I’ve managed to restrain myself from posting several really despairing, pathetic messages. Last night I actually typed a whining, sniveling plea for someone,anyone to please, please, PLEASE hang out with me, because I couldn’t take it anymore. Thankfully, I came to my (pathetic) senses before I posted it and embarrassed myself more than I already have (a facebook post suggesting plans, with NO ONE to even LIKE it? Come on.).

I just need a social life. I’m a fairly introverted person. Ten times out of ten, I will choose going to a coffee shop or quiet bistro over going to a loud bar or club with dancing and nowhere to sit and talk (except that one time the last weekend of college, and all the karaoke nights last summer). Most days, I’d much rather sit and read a book or watch a movie than be surrounded by a group of people. There are plenty of times where I have to force myself to go be with people. In fact, most of the time I would probably prefer to be alone than with people.

I like being able to sit in complete silence with someone while we both read our books, surf the Web, or do our homework. There’s something really, really comforting about being so comfortable with someone that you can sit and not talk to them for a long time. It’s really the whole having someone there that matters. It’s knowing that if youdid want to go somewhere or do something, you could find people to do it with. That’s what  I miss. That’s what I need.

“Just do it” Pie pushed.

“I don’t want to.”

“I did it. I think it’s cool to think about.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“Is it because you don’t have any friends?”

“I have friends,” I retorted. “They’re just not here.” That girl enjoys picking at me more than anyone I’ve ever met. I tried to get back to reading. It was the part where Ron refuses to talk to Harry after his name came out of the Goblet of Fire and Harry is sad because he’s really lonely.

I miss my friends so much it hurts. There are some people who haven’t been around as much that I’m used to missing. I don’t talk to them much since we graduated from high school, or we didn’t really hang out much after we stopped having class together, or once everybody came back from J-Term and the weird little pseudo-social world we built abroad/in the absence of our usual friends dissolves back into the usual world. Or they graduated and left to go somewhere else, or had an internship or field work or student teaching. Or I just stopped seeing them all the time because of reasons.

It’s kind of like losing a tooth. It hurts really bad to pull it out. You toy with it for awhile. You push your tongue against it, move it back and forth, and consider how different your mouth will feel without it. Sometimes, your dad gets sick of you always messing with it and forces you to let him yank it. Other times, you’ll be idly wiggling it with your tongue and it’ll just come loose. Sometimes, if you’re me, your brother will hit you in the face with a giant shampoo bottle and you’ll swallow it; you won’t even realize it’s missing until like half an hour later when you go to eat some peanuts and actually say, “Hey, where’s my tooth?”

Missing friends is like that, minus the saliva (usually). When you first lose a tooth, you keep running your tongue over the opening. Smooth rows of teeth are interrupted by this one, gaping opening, and your tongue automatically focuses on that spot. When friends leave, or friendships change I keep coming back to the spot they used to fill. They leave a hole and, at first, you’re super aware of it:

Who’s going to get us for dinner and motivate us to go out and do things now that Kristi’s gone? We’re never going to have plans, or we’re going to make plans but never actually follow through because no one’s there to show up at 9:18 on the dot to shepherd us out the door. Who am I going to tease, needle, and give crap all the time because it’s so fun to get her riled up, and I know just where the line is, so I can drive her endlessly crazy, but never do enough to get her really mad? Sometimes, dinner is filled with long, empty pauses without her to fill them with stories and observations.

Who am I going to talk to when I’m feeling philosophical or pseudo-intellectual? Who is going to understand, or at least not think I’m really freaking weird (or at the very, very least, not say anything) and go along with me when, after reading William Blake, I want to go and look for angels in the tops of trees? And now I have to do crosswords alone as I sit by myself and sip my coffee. The space next to me on the couch is empty. Also, when I drunkenly speak German, there’s no one to answer in drunken Russian.

And what about Polski? I live alone, now. I realize that I will probably never be as completely and casually comfortable with someone as I am with her. You don’t live in such close quarters for so long without feeling like they’re a sort of extension of yourself. In some ways, I guess everybody I know and miss is like that. But it’s just different when they live with you. There is no oddly calming voice to tell me stories at night and talk me to sleep. I don’t really here any detailed stories about other people’s lives anymore. In the first weeks after she leaves, when I look at her empty half of the room, I feel strangely isolated.

I have no “bro” anymore. Sure, I call other friends bro, and we do bro things, but it isn’t the same and it never will be. I don’t have anyone to drink beer with, or clap me on the shoulder and steer me back to the bar for more. I don’t have anyone to outdrink me or laugh at me or torture Arta with me. I didn’t realize how important these things were until they were gone.

When all of these people left, I missed them so ridiculously much. I love them all. Some of them left relatively painlessly, but I felt the gap they left. With others, it hurt just a bit more. In the lead-ups to these goodbyes, I wondered how I was going to carry on without them. But I did somehow. The world kept spinning after Twin drove away. Life didn’t stop because Kristi wasn’t there to get us for dinner. I didn’t fall to pieces without my roommate. Life went on and I carried on as normal. But I kept running up against these empty spaces. When someone important to you leaves, you can’t help but feel their absence. But, just like with missing teeth, eventually you get used to the gaps. You learn to chew differently if you have to, you stop feeling the hole so much, and, of course, another tooth eventually replaces it. Of course, I’m ignoring this part of the metaphor, because I refuse to completely replace and discard any of these people. It’s just that I’ve gradually gotten used to missing them.

I think that’s why leaving college and the friends who were still here this last semester has been so hard. I’m not used to missing them, and it happened all at once. At least the people who have been gone awhile staggered their exits a bit. Leaving the rest, all at once, was kind of like getting punched in the face and losing all your teeth at once.

I can’t even pretend to ignore the empty spaces anymore. Even the ones I was getting used to are hard to ignore, now that I have nothing to distract me.

I want Arta to show up and announce that she’s bored of homework and we should watch How I Met Your Mother. I want to watch Deep Space Nine and horrify her by having a crush on space Hitler. I haven’t gotten used to that empty space yet. I haven’t acclimated to not having her there to be sarcastic and snarky all the time or to read bad fanfiction with, or to annoy endlessly with pictures of my dog (though I do text them to her, occasionally). I don’t have anyone to listen to all of my stories, or sit in something resembling silence with. It’s so weird, to go from being with someone ALL THE TIME to never getting to see them. It’s very, very much not cool.

And I need Liz, Ben, Stephanie, and all the others that I didn’t hang out with that much, but still saw all the time. There’s no one to mingle with at Mystery Beer, no Dani to be all writerly, no Aimee to snark with in Seminar, no Paideia Capstone classmates to be loud and English-majory with. It’s all empty spaces that I haven’t adjusted to yet.

So, here I am, waiting for something to fill the empty spaces. Like I said before, at least teeth grow back. You wind up with better, stronger teeth (I’m assuming, or why else would you need to lose one set and get new ones?). That doesn’t work with friends. Some people might show up and fill the voids left by old friends, but they never replace them. Friends just aren’t replaced. I think you just have to learn to live with the spaces and do the best you can to make sure that they don’t hurt so bad.

I know from experience that long-distance friendships kind of suck, and a lot of times you miss the hell out of everybody, but they work. You find new ways to be friends. You can still have those conversations about the world that really make you think. You can still annoy people with pictures of your dog via text messages. You can write, chat, send links, and text until you can almost pretend that there’s something in the space they all left behind. And, if you’re REALLY missing them, there’s always Skype drinks. It’s almost as good as the real thing.

“Just pick four,” my sister kept saying, “It’s not like they’re gonna know. It’s not like it’s gonna happen.”

But it has happened, in a way. None of my friends have actually been dangling from cliffs, THANK GOD, but we’re flung all over the place. It’s almost like they’re falling, and I’m going to have to pick which empty space I want to try to fill as best I can, and which I want to leave empty, because nothing can even come close to replacing the people who used to be there. Those are the spaces I will keep for them, through email, chat, Skype, and visits as often as possible, until we find a new way to be.

I always feel awful when I’m faced with one of these “Which of these people would you save?” hypotheticals. It makes me face the fact that there are just some people I love more than others, and I have to come to terms with the fact that there are some of my friends that I would save above others, though losing any of them would be absolutely terrible.

I picked four people. And instantly, I thought of another two that I wanted to save, and then people I hadn’t even considered in the scenario at all.

“That’s how you know who your best friends are,” Pie told me. “The first ones you thought of are the ones you care about the most.

And my god, that annoying little demon teen was kind of right. Obviously I don’t have to pick just four friendships to maintain, and I could adjust to not having, if I had to. I know the friendships I’m going to work hard to save, and the ones I am going to let go and adjust to being different and, sadly, diminished. So, I’m going into this new, weird, toothless postgrad life, hoping that I adjust, find new friends, and keep spaces for the old.

And if that’s not cheesy enough to end this really long post in which I basically talked about the same things I’ve been talking about for weeks, I don’t know what is.

[Also, don’t worry guys. I’d save you. Especially if you read to the end of this and didn’t think I was a sappy loser ;)]