Monday, April 18, 2011

Awkward Elevators

Elevators are awkward. The getting on and getting off, the standing in close proximity to strangers, the too-strong-perfume peoples and the random ringtones and text beepies emanating from people’s pockets – or hands. And all of this wouldn’t even be that bad except for the inherent awkward silence that befalls all elevators.

            Now, I’m all for a good awkward silence. I was telling my students the other day about how part of what makes me an effective teacher is that when I ask a question, I’m not made at all uncomfortable by the silence that (usually) follows and will patiently wait until someone answers (you have to allow for a little time for students to gear up and really think about the question). So, I guess what bothers me about the elevator awkward silence is that I so badly want to talk to the other elevator occupants.

            This might mean I’m an annoying person who can never keep my  mouth shut. But, let’s think about this. The doors close and for a few moments, I and maybe two to five other people, share an experience together. Is it a particularly moving experience (wah wah), not technically. Is it traumatic or dramatic? Since I’ve never been in a falling elevator (one of my biggest fears everrr besides spiders and the dark..), no. Yet, I feel this impulse that for some reason these people were brought to this elevator at the same time as me, maybe for a reason? Okay, call me a hippie. Maybe I just really don’t like the silence of it all and am sad that people would rather be reading their Facebooks on their smart phones in the elevator than interacting with other real life humans. Or maybe part of me has an obsession with the whole elevator thing because of the opening of Haruki Murakami’s Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Because of this book, I still want to write a story that deals with time travel occurring (unbeknownst to the occupants) in an elevator. Maybe that’s why I hate the silence – I’m upset that something cool like time-travel isn’t happening while I ride the elevator and when the doors open I’m not faced with ninjas to battle (yup, TMNT circa 1990) so I try to make up for that with a desire to at least talk to the people in the elevator with me. (And that way, if there are ninjas to battle when the doors open, I at least know who’s on my team).

            I feel like this whole post has maybe gotten away from me, and I wish I had some awesome little anecdote about a truly awkward situation in an elevator, but I don't, so I’m going to try and bring it back some other way. What it all comes down to (I guess) is that elevators are pretty cool but really awkward, yet have the potential for some cool magical realism.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Small Delights: "Cartoon You"

A few days ago, I was having one of those mornings. I, for lack of better words, was feeling very “emo” for no apparent reason at all. So, I popped in Tegan & Sara on my drive to school, sang out loud with the windows down, and even let myself have a small relief cry when I got to school. After not feeling better from my normal remedies, I decided maybe I was hangry (hungry/angry…it exists, just ask Funk). So, I grabbed some tofu and brown rice, sat down at a table, and commenced chopstick goodness.

            Somewhere between a green onion and teriyaki sauce, I realized the woman siting at the table next to me was staring. At me. Not just observing but staring. I thought, “Okay, maybe I look super cute today or have teriyaki sauce in my hair or a spider on my head. Oh, god, please not a spider!” and then I didn’t think much of it because I was feeling so, well, crappy.

            After a few minutes, I could feel someone hovering at my side.

            It was the woman. She pushed a small, postcard-flyer for a campus carnaval into my hand and rushed through the words, “I wanted to draw cartoon for you.”

            That is when I noticed a cartoon outline of a pin-up style girl with chopsticks, darawn in permanent marker on the flyer. She even dated and signed it. Before I could even say thank you, she was out the door.

            The crappy day officially ended.

            This tiny event was one of those reminders that sometimes we affect people without realizing and that, sometimes, even a small cartoon can brighten a day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Live Like You're... On Vacation (?)

            Before Spring Break, I semi-lamented to my students, “Woo hoo, I’m going to Ohio for Spring Break!” complete with a sarcastic fist pump to the air.

            Funk, Droidlet, and I decided to visit Funk’s aunt (Crafty) and his cousins (Green Lantern and Catan Champion) for the week. And, I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous. Nervous for the colder weather, the country town, and Droidlet’s first plane ride and I was slightly skeptical about whether or not this was going to be the best use of a Spring Break.

            But, I geared up for the event (and rented a car for the first time. Hooray for being 25!) and was starting to get a tiny bit excited for the upcoming relaxation. We had an uneventful plane ride. Droidlet got my gene of falling asleep even before a plane takes off and we scored a 2011 Toyota Camry for all our driving needs. Then, we proceeded over long (no, not dirt) country roads to Aunt Crafty’s house.
            Now, let me tell you:

            Seriously. We had an amazing vacation.

            Of course, 90% of why it was so great is because Funk’s family is just awesome. We had rounds of Settlers of Catan until 1:00am, great conversations, emotional support, and visits to kick-ass museums (helllooo American Bicycle, Annie Oakley, and the Air and Space museums!) among lots of great food, photographs, memories, and incredible company.
            The other 10%, though, really had to do with “vacation mentality.”

            The properties of “vacation mentality:”

1.      “We’re somewhere new, so let’s try everything!”
We tried new diners, new food, new drinks, new places, new beds, new homes… the list goes on. We even got to share some “news” with our family (among them, Japanese beer for the Catan Champion and Yuengling (the most amazing beer EVER) for the rest of the family… yes, we spread alcohol joy wherever we go). Sometimes, at home, when not in “vacation mentality” we tend to fall into routines and normal habits. Which, are good in their own right, but this was a nice reminder that there are still lots of things in Ventura County I have not yet tried.

2.      “Meh. I can check the internet later.”
I went on the internet a total of, maybe, three times (including my phone!). Granted, part of this was because the cell phone reception, but a huge part of it was because I was so busy doing other awesome things and spending quality time with people I love. This was a big slam in the face… why don’t I take internet breaks more often? Facebook did not explode while I was in Ohio, my blog didn’t smoulder to ashes, and the blogs I normally read were still up and running, as usual.

3.      “Picture moments.”
I feel we tend to take more pictures – but at the same time keep the camera down enough to experience the moment – more on vacation than in “regular life.”

4.      “Talk, walk, and talk some more.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to walk waaaay more when I’m on vacation. Walking through museums, walking down main streets, just walking outside and around a new block (and finding a flattened craw fish in the road). And between all the walking, we had actual conversations. Funk and I got to walk and talk about things outside of our parenthood bubble; we got to reminisce about Funk’s mom with Aunt Crafty; we got to talk about all the new stuff happening in the Green Lantern’s and Catan Champion’s lives.

Of course, there are downsides to vacation mentality. Well, the only one I can think of is that we spend a little more money than we might normally (like buying Droidlet a super awesome “Speed Limit: 18,000 mph” sign with a rocket ship on it). Other than that, this vacation mentality made for a week of having a fulfilling life.

I think it’s time to implement this mentality more often, right here, at home.