Friday, October 31, 2008

As Visions of Pez Candies Danced Through My Head

In light of the this fine Halloween day today, I thought I’d retell the story of one of my favorite Halloweens yet- made great by two of my favorite people ever.

Several years ago- I think my sophomore year of high school- my friend, Tara, and I decided to get really ambitious and make our own Halloween costumes. I think both Tara and I would fall into the category of “over-achievers, primarily in regards to projects that others may find futile and, quite frankly, a waste of time”. This can be made evident by our endless note passing games that we passed the time in class with: the time we tried to write solely in Spanish to each other (for months), the time we tried to write solely with our non-dominant hands to each other (for months), the time we refused to write to each other in any thing other than an intricate and painstaking calligraphy-type font (for months). One may look at our overflowing notebook that is a product the above discipline and think it a profound waste of time. But what can I say… we can now write in shaky, calligraphy-style, poor Spanish with the best of 'em, and I say that is something to be proud of.

Wow, that was quite the tangent.

So anyway, this one October way back when and once upon a sophomore year, Tara and I decided to make our own costumes. After deliberating over the wide array of options before us, we finally decided on the perfect idea. Pez Dispensers. Life-size, walking, talking Pez Dispensers. We went to work, and probably spent a good solid month developing and executing our plan. Being only poor high school students, we were resourceful as possible and completed our project using only felt, poster board, glue, and a few wire hangers. I tried to find the actual photos of our finished masterpieces, but unfortunately came up empty handed. So, without further ado, I present to you my best rendering from memory…

I can’t remember if we wore them to school or not. Did we, Tara? I do, however, remember winning first place in our youth group’s costume contest. Yep, there’s my proudest achievement to-date.

For some reason Tara wasn’t able to go trick-or-treating with us that year, but I did get to go with my other favorite person, Annabel (yes, I went trick-or-treating my sophomore year of high school). Annabel didn’t have a costume prior to that day, so we had to come up with her spontaneous and impromptu attire. Apparently the creative juices just weren’t flowing with much intensity that night, because this is what we came up with…

She was a sleeping bag. Which we accomplished by wrapping her in a sleeping bag. And that is all.

We set off on our merry journey, but VERY quickly discovered the error of our way. You see, neither of our costumes allowed much room for the simple act of walking. So we waddled. Slowly. After an exhausting hour of work, we had only waddled the length of one street. And to make matters worse, people kept mistaking my Pez Dispenser for a mail box (which I still don’t see. I’ve included a head-on sketch of the mask, so you can judge for yourself), and throwing candy in my eye hole… at which point I would have to stop and shimmy it down and out my foot hole, so that Annabel could kindly pick it up for me.

Finally, we decided to give up and head home so we could change out of our cumbersome costumes. Neither of us were quite satisfied with our night’s earnings though, so we resolved to head back out. This time we dressed as ourselves and told people we were Christians. Lame cover, I know.

So… to Tara and Annabel- if you’re reading this- thanks for being so amazing. I think we should all three spend the next year planning an even better costume for Halloween ’09 :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blunders from the Cubicle

It occurred to me the other day that I have been unfair and quite biased in my previous posts pertaining to my job (refer here and here). The picture I have painted has been one extremely skewed image, in which I am portrayed as the faultless, all-knowing voice on the opposite end of a phone line connecting directly to a world of buffoons and drunkards. I am not refuting the fact that, yes, my phone line does connect to a world that contains a shocking number of buffoons and drunkards. But in all fairness, I must admit to another side of the story: I too am a buffoon (but usually not a drunkard).

Evidence Profile #1: The Mute Button

Our phones come with a feature that I find myself both praising and cursing several times each day. The mute button is a simple little button within easy reach that, upon pressing, mutes my end of the line while still allowing me to hear my caller. It’s intended purpose is mostly for sparing the caller from hearing your sneezes or similar interruptions that are not worthy of using the “hold” button for. Most reps also use it when they can’t resist the urge to verbalize their rage towards the caller without the caller actually hearing them.

Several times each day I answer my phone while it is muted and can’t figure out why the caller isn’t responding to my greeting. More than once I have tried to mute my call for the purpose of verbalizing said rage, and not realized that I missed the button. And in one awkward moment, I once muted my phone to cover an urgent and fearsome sneeze- except I had forgotten that I was already muted. On the caller’s end, it probably sounded something like this… “>dead silence, dead silence, dead silence< BOOMING SNEEZE >dead silence, dead silence, dead silence <”. Awesome.

Evidence Profile #2: Ruined by Routine:

We don’t really have scripts to go by in my job, but we deal with enough of the same situations that sometimes things just become scripted. For example, after activating a card for someone, I usually advise them to “sign the back and it’s ready for use”. Similarly, after reporting a card lost, I would advise them to “please contact your bank to order a new card”. I wish I had a dollar for every time I finish reporting a card lost for someone, and then promptly advise them to sign the back of it and begin using it.

Another dilemma…we make both outbound and inbound phone calls. On a normal day, you will do primarily one or the other, but not both. However, if need requires it, sometimes a supervisor will ask you to switch from what you have been working for 5 hours and do the opposite. This is a cruel, despicable trick. I should add here that our phones do not ring for incoming calls, they simply beep into your headset. The beep sounds identical to that of an answering machine. I have left many strangers voicemails on their home phones that sounded much like this… “Thank you for calling >unidentified credit card company<, how may I help…ummm… aww man… *click*” (Before you judge me, know that I always call them back. But there comes a point where you just can’t recover from a failed script and have no other option but to abort.)

Evidence Profile #3: Well, just read on…

Ok, so this one didn’t happen in the cubicle, but it serves to prove the same point. I had to call my cell phone provider yesterday with questions concerning my bill. After a lengthy call in which all my concerns were addressed, our conversation neared its end. It went something like this:
Cell Phone Rep: Ok, so just to review your call today, I have updated this, that, and blah blah blah…
Me: Yep, sounds perfect
Cell Phone Rep: Ok… (short pause, I assume they were making notes)
Me: And is there anything else I can help you with today?
Cell Phone Rep: …excuse me...?
insert awkward pause

Me: ok, sorry. Thanks, bye… *click*

And to think, I don’t even have the excuse of alcohol to blame.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Corn and More Corn

Is any one else about to burst with seasonal joy, or is that just me?

Honestly, I don’t know how any one can justify living anywhere but here. My only wish is that the changing leaves would stay around just a little while longer. I love waking up in the mornings and being surprised at the cool chill of morning air that you haven’t felt for months. Or taking a walk outside and smelling the faint aroma of fire places being used for the first time. Or watching a hazy sunset over mountains that somehow formed a blanket of snow over night. Yeah, you can’t get much better than this.

But, you can certainly appreciate it all the more by taking in the view from the middle of a corn field.

We spent one amazing day this week at the Fritzler Corn Maize. It was way too much fun. I would definitely recommend this to any one in the Denver area looking for a fun family outing. We got to do two corn mazes, launch a corn canon, jump on an over-sized trampoline pillow, ride a barrel train roller coaster, sport 3-D glasses through a house of jumping paintings, and wander through the insides of a giant inflatable lizard. The prices were very reasonable, and I definitely felt like we more than got our money’s worth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ode to Old Man

While looking through and organizing some of the random photos that I have saved to my computer the other day, I came across a picture of someone very dear to me; someone that I felt deserved his own post.

This is Old Man Baby (but those closest to him often call him Old Man).

And this is his story…

Several years ago I decided, on a whim, that I wanted to start collecting garden gnomes. My collection had grown to about 7 or 8 by the time I took my trip to Romania in 2005. I was elated to find that Romania has some sort of infatuation with garden gnomes, as they could be found in any and every gift or souvenir shop (garden gnomes and Dracula… yep, that’s Romania in a nutshell). After much debate and consideration, I settled on the above pictured gnome to take home with me. I named him Sebastian, after the little boy who had stolen my heart, and whom I would have much rather taken home with me.

Upon arriving home (I was living at my parents’ house at the time), Sebastian assumed his position on the mantle of my parents’ fireplace. One day my sister was over at the house with her two beautiful daughters, Aubri and Rylynn. Aubri took an instant interest in this new addition to my collection, and began toting him around the house with her. (Sebastian is actually made out of a lightweight, rubbery material, rather than the heavy plaster most are made from.)

Aubri already had a few baby dolls that she adored, each with their own names to tell them apart. I don’t remember the exact names, but she referred to each one as “Baby Julia” or “Baby Sarah” or whatever their respective names were. Naturally, Sebastian became “Old Man Baby”. When it was time for her to go home that night, she very sweetly asked me if she could take Old Man home with her. I, of course, said yes. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

From that day forward, she grew more and more attached to Old Man, taking him with her everywhere she went. One day I received a phone call from her asking if she could take him with her to the sand dunes. Thus began the tradition of Old Man accompanying the family on every trip or vacation. When Meghan took the girls for their annual professional photo shoot, Aubri insisted Old Man be in them too. And so he was. I got to experience a little taste of the odd looks that Meghan must get all the time as we walked through the mall that day with a garden gnome buckled into the front of our double stroller.

Old Man has become a staple in the family, and a common sight at any gathering. One night we were all hanging out to play cards at my parents’ house. We had spent the whole night around the kitchen table, and the girls had been in bed for hours, when someone finally noticed that Old Man had been sitting with us at the table the whole time, securely strapped into a high chair with a snack and a drink in front of him. (It has also been realized that there are more photos of Old Man in the family than there are of some of the rest of us).

There’s a quote from an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that always makes me smile, and turns my thoughts towards Old Man; “Sometimes I forget how weird this family is, until someone new comes in and looks at us like that."

Although it’s been nearly 3 years since their first meeting, Aubri and Old Man are still great friends. Last year she honored him with the utmost symbol of flattery by insisting to dress up as him for Halloween (the costume is the handiwork of Meghan and my mom, as not many party stores offer Old Man Baby costumes among their line of merchandise).

Who wouldn’t want these two for their garden?!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cider Days

Have I mentioned that I love fall?!?!?

Jason gets really into the holidays (any holidays), and makes it his mission to soak up every little ounce of atmosphere that this time of year has to provide. This works out well for the kids and I, as it means that we get to go to every carnival, event, or Oktoberfest that comes within a 100 mile radius of home. Continuing our fall festivities, we spent last weekend at a local annual festival called Cider Days.

It was a perfect day for such an outing. The sky was overcast with the dreary clouds of autumn, and a light breeze was in the air keeping the temperature as comfortable as anyone could ask for. And of course, we were surrounded by the best part of any Colorado fall…

Not that we would need anything more to make the day complete, but the festival provided the icing on the cake. The kids got to jump in a bounce house shaped like an overturned cow…

(yep, those are udders)

And ride a donkey…

Feed the farm animals…

We all pet a yak (incidentally, I think I’m allergic to yaks. Who would’ve thought?)

We made cornmeal…

And ate turkey legs…

And of course, we drank cider a plenty.

Does it get any better than this?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quirky is as Quirky Does

I’ve been tagged! Does that make me officially a blogger? Oh dear…

Oh well, that revelation can be picked apart and examined another day, because for today
Leslie has provided me with all the post content I need. 6 quirks, huh? I’m afraid of what deep personal issues this may bring to the surface for me, but here goes…

6 Quirks of Mine…

1. I am as clumsy as clumsy can possibly be. I cannot hold a drink without spilling it, I cannot walk up stairs without missing one, and I cannot brush my hair without poking my eye out at least once. In fact, I’m wincing a little as I type this, due to the excessive swelling of the finger that I slammed in the dishwasher today. Perhaps I’ll share about the time I zipped my face into my jacket in another post…

2. I don’t like getting out of bed at any time that doesn’t end in a 0 or 5. Sometimes this OCD-like behavior is so prevalent that I make myself late. For example, if I set my alarm for 8:00, and accidentally sleep in until 8:16, I will most likely lay in bed until 8:20 before making the mad rush to get ready.

3. As Meghan so lovingly shared with everyone on this post, I am a closet Lion King fanatic. I will never tell you that it is my favorite movie, but deep down we all know that it is. I claim that the only reason I have a Lion King sketch book spanning 7 years of my life is because it’s an excellent art form against which to hone one’s drawing skills. The truth is that I love The Lion King to an unhealthy extreme. (In my own defense Meghan, I partially blame you for all those nights you left your Lion King soundtrack playing on repeat all night long. I was at a very impressionable age).

4. I hate feet and often ask God what He was thinking in creating such disgusting things, much less permanently attaching two of them to us. This, coupled with the fact that I am insanely ticklish in mine, causes an unreasonable fear of people touching my feet. Another story due a post of its own- Worst Nightmare Realized: A Pedicure Story. Similarly, I cringe at the thought of someone else’s feet on me. Especially if they have socks on that they have been wearing all day.

5. I have a fear of heights, and I hate it. If there was one thing I would change in a heartbeat, it would be this. As a result, my role at any amusement park has become “pack mule”, waiting on the ground and holding all the belongings of those brave enough to actually have fun. As a result, I cannot remember much about my trip to the Royal Gorge, other than an overwhelming feeling of nausea and impending doom. And as a result, I missed out on riding the giant ferris wheel on Santa Monica pier by sunset.

6. I once ate a bee. I suppose that’s not really a quirk, and maybe it falls more into a sub-category of quirk #1, but I really felt that it deserved mention. No, it was not on purpose. Yes, it did sting me right on the tongue before meeting its fateful demise. In one of the scariest 20 minutes of my life, my tongue grew to the size of baseball and was rendered useless in the art of communication, making it near impossible to convey my desperation to those around me. However, this one event has given birth to another small quirk of mine… I will never again leave my soda can unattended on a summer day.

And now it’s my turn to tag someone (yep, I’m officially a blogger). I think I’m going to tag Abby and Annabel (because I think Angie and Amy have already done this one…if not, consider yourselves tagged... geez, do I know anyone who's name doesn't start with "A"?) And, I’m going to break the rules a little and tag Meghan, too. Maybe this will convince you to start your own blog :)