Birdzilla, Arts-ings, and The Wienermobile.

Somewhere in my small town lives a monster. A creature that science has yet to explore, dissect, and understand. It sleeps through the day but at night? It emerges. It leaves a trail of destruction in its path as I and my neighbors sleep. This creature… is Birdzilla.

Yes.

It is of unknown size and shape. It’s diet is unpredictable, but… colorful. Every few nights, Birdzilla passes over my home. He flies atop my car. And he releases… the most gigantic quantities of airborne feces I have ever been witness to.

I mean, really.

I mean, really.

I have seen remnants in blues, greens, purples, and pinks.

It’s as if Birdzilla takes a 12-pack of Crayola crayons and doodles the most horrifying scrawls across my vehicle.

 

The entire side of the car, yo.

The entire side of the car, yo.

I should have known it would be a weird day from the get-go but I of very much naïveté did not, could not, put two and two together.

My main plan was to get lunch with a friend. Very simple in theory, but complicated in practice. You see, first I needed to get my car washed (thanks to Birdzilla) and then I needed to stop by the bank on an errand. From the bank, I desired an iced coffee and en route to my favorite coffee shop, emerged the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. No, I’m not kidding.

I told you I wasn't kidding.

I told you I wasn’t kidding.

So as you may have guessed, I decided to follow the Wienermobile instead of getting coffee. Who needs caffeine after having the incredibly rare opportunity to chase down the Wienermobile? That’s not even a question anymore. Because the answer is ‘nobody’, that’s who.

Eventually, the highway took me north enough to finish my errands before heading up for lunch. This friend shall be named She-Who-Destroys-Perfectly-Good-Drawing-Paper, for reasons you will discover later. For now, she will be shortened to SWDPGDP or, Swagdapa. Because, reasons. Swagdapa and I had a jolly good time traipsing the downtown and eating quesadillas, pastries, cappuccinos, and bubble tea because we are bottomless pits. Afterwards, we decided to drag our art supplies (yes, I keep a cache of charcoals, pastels, and 18″ drawing pads in the trunk of my car) on a hike out to the middle of the woods. We parked our butts on a bench on top of a ridge overlooking the pond and started arts-ing.

I made a very conventional but Impression-ish pastel of the treeline while my friend made… a mess. I looked over and saw her dunking pastels in our cup of cleaning water and smearing it all over the drawing pad she had bought in town. I watched as she scrawled lines and gave her thoughts visual form. They began stark, and cold. Minutes later, the page was completely black save for some red streaks thrown in for good measure, hidden in the background. The center of the page had disintegrated under her soaking, heavy hand. There was nothing left to destroy so we decided to let it dry on a log while she worked on the next piece.

This next one was more whimsical, with greens, and blues thrown in amid the black. A face emerged, though only in lines and color. This page, too, was left to dry. We tossed our supplies on the ground and hustled down the hill to go look out over the river. Swagdapa, so very devil-may-care, called out terrifying witch cackles across the water, testing her own echo. It was through this we discovered we weren’t alone and across the pond were a couple children, who immediately fled and ran into their house up the hill. Oops.

We returned to the scene of our artsiness and my Ever-So-Good-At-Wasting-Art-Supplies friend decided it would be a swell idea to smear the still-wet paint across her face and down her arms, posing dramatically while I snapped away on my camera phone. Immediately after, she decided to transform my entire right arm into a sleeve of burgundy brown.

I do wish I had taken pictures but I was covered in paint.

We ended the day with dinner at the local diner and a car ride up and down the highway blasting 90’s tunes: childhood and nostalgia for me; something new and shiny for her.

Karma

Karma likes to come get me quite often.  I suppose, in an act of retribution for my past action of laughing and teasing my husband mercilessly about his missing (decorative) balls, karma found me.  It began as any other day, except that this was the very next day from that day, and I was relaxing across the bed.  In our house, the circuitry is God Awful and we can’t have too many appliances plugged in at once in the summer or the whole place loses power.  On this particularly hot day, I had turned on our bedroom A/C to enjoy while I played a mobile game on my phone.  Naturally, the power gave.  The Hubz dutifully got up and left in order to cycle the power.  He left me with specific instruction: turn the A/C off as soon as the power comes back.

I heard him in the background as I focused solely on selecting the PERFECT outfit and accessories for my sorority girl to enter the fashion show with.

Minutes later, the A/C roared to life again.  It startled me enough to remember that if I wanted ANY electricity in the house again, I’d better shut that beast off.  In a fit of haste and panic, I attempted to Buffy-kick my way up off the bed.

This did not end well for me.

Immediately upon swinging my left leg up and behind me in order to propel my entire body up, I felt my hip pop and crack as, indeed, my whole body flew up off the bed.  I managed to switch the A/C off amidst my tortured flailing of arms and hands as I cried about my freaking leg that I’m pretty sure was going to snap off like a chicken wishbone.

And that, kids, is what Karma is all about.

I spent the next few days limping and whimpering about my poor hip, and The Hubz spent them grinning evilly but helping me walk along beside him to go get some ibuprofen.

The Hubz Ballz

Sometimes, when there’s a surplus of cash, The Hubz and I go shopping for home stuff.  This wasn’t one of those times.  This was a time when we were supposed to be shopping for my dad’s birthday that coincidently, was that day.  It wasn’t that I had forgotten his birthday, I knew it was coming, I’d procured a proper card for him.  I just never know what to get him for a gift.  This left us with our last and final opportunity.

We started our journey at Burlington Coat Factory and got sidetracked into the Home Section.  I laid my eyes upon a most glorious decorative bowl- it was turquoise with gold patterning inside- and had to have it.  I checked the price tag- $7.99!  What a steal!  It was purchased.  Sadly, we found nothing to my liking for my father at BCF and we were forced to move on to Marshall’s.

At Marshall’s, we poked around their Home Section.  We found some neat decorative little balls to put in the bowl I had just bought, because whenever I go to visit a friend who Has Their Life Together, they all seem to have the same sort of decorative set-up: a nice large bowl with balls in it.  I don’t question, I only covet.

After we grabbed the bag o’ balls, we moved on to their Kitchen Section.  It was here that my husband’s brilliance truly shined: Kahlua flavored K-cups paired with biscotti!  We grabbed them and headed for the checkout, with Hubz dragging me away from the cheap spa lotions and potions.  My father was delighted with his new coffee ensemble.

When we returned home, we forgot the balls in the car.  We didn’t realize they were missing until about bedtime, when we aloud wondered, “where did our decorative balls go?”

Looking at my sad, empty (but gorgeous), accent-less bowl got boring after a few days, so I turned to my husband, and before I fully realized the words that were escaping my mouth I asked him loudly, “Hey Hubz, did you ever find your balls?”

And I lost it.

I absolutely lost it. And I could not find it again.

As soon as the final “ss” sound rolled off my tongue, the complete understanding of the double entendre I had missed in my brain clicked and I immediately started hysterically laughing.  This was very much to my husband’s dismay.  As I was clutching my sides and trying desperately not to pee myself, I looked up at his face and saw an unholy hell of fury glaring back at me into my soul.

This only served to make me laugh harder.

Every night from then on, I inquired into the state of Hubz’s balls.  Had he found them?  Did he think they were sad and alone somewhere, all alone and forgotten?

Eventually he had to tell me to knock it off.

And then I found them.

BFF and I were getting coffee together and rather than sit in Starbucks, we decided we’d rather sit in the car and chat.  It was there that we located… The Balls.  Left in their Marshall’s shopping bag and fallen under the passenger seat, were The Balls.  I was so pleased and had to relay The Balls Story to BFF. 

We went to meet Hubz for dinner shortly afterwards.  He worked only minutes away from the restaurant and met us there.  I grew devil horns and grinned at BFF in the car as we parked, in the way only BFF’s know how.  “Watch this,” I said, as if we were both 10 years old and conspiring to jump off a surface we probably had no business being on in the first place.  I waited for Hubz to exit his vehicle near the entrance to the restaurant, grabbed the Marshall’s bag, and leapt out of the car.

“HONEY,” I yelled across the parking lot as I held the bag of balls proudly above my head ala Rafiki and Simba, “I FINALLY FOUND YOUR BALLS!”

I was again met with the fury of a thousand devil’s as my husband groaned loudly across the lot.

Sometimes I feel bad for him.  But then I remember that nobody held a gun to his head the day he married me, and then I don’t feel that bad anymore, he knew the crazy lady he was agreeing to spend the rest of his life with.

BFF and I both ran over to smile and hug him as he tried his best to hide his amusement.  Again, I remind you, he knew what he was signing up for.

Summer Camp

Let me begin by saying I’m not in high school and I haven’t been in a very long time.  Allow me to also keep you in the know by telling you I’m not younger than 21.  I’m not even younger than 25.  Yet, when I saw an ad from my college during finals week that was calling for applications for summer camp counselor, I was so in.  I edited my resume (which coincidentally, I need to do again, thanks for reminding me) and wrote my cover letter as to why I deserved the job.  It was heartfelt and I stand by every word about how important it is to teach young girls self-respect and self-esteem.  I sent it off, finished my finals, and got married.  During my honeymoon, I received a phone call from my school’s general ###-1000 line.  Even though I was lounging on Cape Cod all week with my new husband, I decided to answer.  It was the director of the program and she wanted me to come in for an interview, say, tomorrow.  I expressed my enthusiasm but had to admit that I was out of town and wouldn’t be able to come.  Actually, I was on honeymoon.  I remember laughing with her at the timing of it all and made plans to call as soon as I returned the following week.

I decided to come back from vacation (though it took a great amount of convincing to come back to “the real world”) and interviewed.  The following week, I received my job offer and got my registration for payroll started.  A month later, I attended orientation the night before our first official day and met all of my co-counselors and instructors.  There was something I noticed… all my co-counselors were, well, not quite as old as me.  By a long shot.  In fact, some of them hadn’t even graduated high school yet.

I questioned myself briefly… what on earth was this experience going to be like?  I hadn’t interacted with high school girls since I was one myself… and that was not a time of my life that I savored.  My life had been tormented by these girls.

I could only pray that times had changed or that at least these girls might be different.

As the first days of each week passed, my co-counselors and I learned each other’s personalities and very easily became fast friends.  For privacy purposes, I will withhold their names but would like to say that these girls are all amazing young women who will most certainly become pillars of strength and wisdom.  I am very glad to call them friends and still see them from time to time.

As for the camp, it was a month-long span of equals amounts fun and challenge.  There wasn’t a day that I didn’t look forward to spending time with them.  I learned that I have a passion for working with children.  It made me a bit regretful that I hadn’t figured this out sooner and pursued a degree in Education instead of Criminal Justice.  My first day began as my co-counselor and I discussed our thoughts for running the day for our girls, who were ages 9 through 12.  Our first activity was to get acquainted with each other, so on the fly I came up with some games for us to play while we stood in a circle.  First I asked them, “Tell me your name, how old you are, something about camp that you’re looking forward to most, and your favorite book.”  Next, I made everyone cover their names and one by one, recite who everyone was.  We all had a blast and we were in like Flynn from there.

The following age group was a challenge, due to the fact that there were so many children in one group.  The first and last weeks were great as we had a group of less than 10 children.  The middle week, though?  18 kids.  The beginning of the week was rocky as we struggled to find a power balance.  By midweek, however, we were doing great.  All of my kids were sweethearts and my only regret is not having enough opportunity and time to get to know each and every one of them.

My final week was with the young ones, all 6 years old.  Every day was wonderful, they each had such joy and willingness to play and learn!  It made the end of the week very bittersweet.  From the first day of the week, every activity we did was full of fun.  We made science experiments, played many outside games, and learned new sit-in-a-circle games.  All my campers were willing to share and be kind.  There was one girl who stood out to me as going above and beyond.  Her name I will withhold for privacy, as well.  During our final day, she had been accused of stealing another camper’s paper fan that they had all made in previous days.  I couldn’t say one way or another what truly happened, but what happened next was surprising, and inspiring.  Though they began to fight and bicker about who did what, the minute I stepped away in order to secretly grab supplies for the girls to make new fans as a surprise, the accused girl handed over the fan she truly, honestly believed to be her own… to her accuser, in order to make her happy again and keep the peace.  Imagine how shocked and happy she was when I came around the corner holding the paper and markers!  I took her aside and expressed to her how incredibly proud of her I was and how much I appreciated her stepping up to do the right thing.

I miss those girls.  Our final day went by so very fast and was over with the blink of an eye.  I left with the hope that I’ll be able to do this again next summer and the realization of how much I love working with kiddos.  This experience made me narrow my job hunt to positions that align with that love in the hope that I will find something as really, truly fulfilling as those weeks in July were.

Graduation Day

Okay, so when you’re in college, in undergrad, you have to be working on your escape plan. Basically you’ll have needed to have started thinking about it at infancy, but if that was too much of a burden for you, you’ll have at least wanted to start thinking about it come Year 2.  If you still didn’t know what you were going to do by Year 2, you better start figuring it out by Year 3 and if you’re REALLY in the mood to have life screw you over, then don’t worry about it until you’re like, 3 months away from graduation.  Like what I did.

So you realize that you better get your priorities straight.  You bat your eyelashes and make nicey-nice at your internship with the hopes that your supervisor will love you and hire you when you’re done with school.  The dream is that one day, you’ll be bustling along with your very important work, and your super will pull you over.  You’re not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing: are you being pulled over like a cop would, to tell you what a terrible job at being a human-being you are?  Or is it good, are they going to give you a pat on the back and tell you hey, way to not be an idiot.  So your super’s grabbed your attention and you’ve put all your files down.  “Intern,” they’ll have said, “you’ve been doing so awesome and we’ve totes noticed you going above and beyond the call of unpaid duty around here.  I just want to say, that when you graduate from that school of yours, you’ve got a job here.”  And then you’ll say, “Hey thanks, bro!  That’s super awesome!  You just made my day!” and you’ll go home and you’ll tell your family, “HEY FAMILY GUESS WHAT I GOT A JOB FOR WHEN I GRADUATE AND IT’S NOT EVEN RETAIL!”  And your family will be like “WAY TO GO, GOOD ON YOU!”

I don’t want to scare you, but that’s actually not often the reality.

Generally, reality is that your supervisor WILL probably give you that pat on the back, tell you they appreciate all that you do, and smile at you.  But at the end of the day, they’re not likely to be hiring, they, as only a supervisor, have no real power over that, and couldn’t tell you one way or another.  However, they promise that they would love to have you should something ever open up and they just KNOW you’re going to go far, and please keep in touch.

Finals come and they go.  You sweat as you worry over what your final GPA will be, will you get honors with your name, which professors should you ask to be a reference for you.  And then graduation day comes.  And it should feel glorious, and maybe it really actually does.  There’s a ton of pomp and circumstance, and you feel like you were a part of something really grand.  And maybe you were.  But as you sit in the arena, or on the lawn, or wherever you are amongst your former classmates, as you preen your hair, and lament over your footwear, and fan yourself inconspicuously with your program because it’s only May but it’s already as hot as July, you wonder.  You wonder what’s going to happen next.  On the one hand, that unknown factor can feel magical: you are a ball of potential and you have a piece of paper that proves you can learn good.  You have the world at your fingertips and you can go anywhere.  But on the other hand… you don’t know what’s coming next.  In previous years, you knew that after a few months of freedom and summer, you’d have to scour The Internet for the best deals on textbooks, and check up on your future professor’s Internet Presence and whether you think you’ll jive with them or not, and you’d be heading back into the classroom.  But the classroom is closed to you now.  They’re telling you that you’ve learned all there is to learn, they’ve taught you all there is to know, and it’s time for you to get going.  Take the lessons you’ve been given, the memories you’ve made, and hopefully the friendships you’ve developed, and go explore life.

It sounds wonderful, and scary at the same time.  That’s why it can be so easy to allow yourself to slip back into your old ways, feel safe in your part time job.  You have dreams but… the dreams are clouds… how can they ever support you?  How can they ever get you that apartment?  How can dreams ever bring you a house, and babies, and a kitten and a dog?  Your part time job is guaranteed money… it may not be much, but you can navigate how to make it work.  You know the old saying, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”  Is it, though?  Is it really?  It’s not that you hate your part time job (or maybe you do), but it’s just that it makes you feel… a little impotent.  You just spent the last few years of your life cramming and studying and writing notes and essays and making connections and getting up early and staying up late and never sleeping and sacrificing your time to go out and your time to work and earn money… to just do what you’ve been doing all along?  And sometimes that thought can hurt.  When you make that realization that maybe you’re not doing all you can.  You tell people you’re applying to greater jobs, and following up on them, but are you?  And even if you are, is it really panning out the way you want?

Some people get really lucky, and they get that job from their internship.  Others get lucky and find something right away.  Still others run off to grad school, just to put this off for a little longer.  Some people never look at all.

So you decide that is not going to be you.  You ARE going to hunt, and look, and call, and get told “we’ll call YOU”, a thousand times (or maybe once or twice).  But damn it, you’re still going to try.  No matter what, even if you decide to go to grad school too, you’re still going to look for full time work doing something stimulating.

I’m not saying I know everything or have all the answers.  In fact, I’m telling you right now that I absolutely and unequivocally do not.  But you know what?

Don’t ever give up the dreams.  I know it’s super cheesy, but don’t let your big, voluminous clouds of dreams float away.  Hold on tightly to them, and try to make them work for you, in whatever way you can.

Even if it’s just a hobby writing a blog.