Two Elon alumni (2002) have pooled their talents to bring excitement and joy to your day. One is a classy woman who combines her Italian and feminine powers to influence men of all shapes and sizes. The other is a tall blond man who relies on wit and boyish good looks to impress women, especially when they're drunk. Join them in their epic pursuit of the phenomenon known as adulthood. NoSalesTax side effects may include addiction and abrupt laughter as colleagues look on in confused jealousy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Music and Memories

1) A couple Novembers ago, right around the time scarves and gloves are unpacked and returned to dresser drawers, I visited my g/f in Pittsburgh. We’d been dating long-distance for a while, and I was completely in love w/ her. I think you know where this is going. During my three-day visit, she admitted, “I don’t know if I wanna do this long-distance thing anymore.” We both knew she’d be leaving the Steel City in a couple months to take a job that consisted of living somewhere new every two months. Needless to say, even a fool like me realized the end could be approaching. Of course, I prefer to ignore problems (like the time I dislocated my finger) and pray they’ll disappear. This one didn’t.

On my long drive home (nine hours to NH, if I remember correctly), I listened to my latest Dave Matthews CD, which I’d gotten a month earlier. Still absorbing the album, I inadvertently conjoined the songs with that moment. One song in particular, Stay or Leave, stands out with lyrics such as: “Stay or leave, I want you not to go, but you should. It was good as good goes…” The song always reminds me of driving across Pennsylvania’s lonely center, wishing I could go faster and faster as the suddenly bare trees lining the road watched silently from a world much colder than the interior of my car. Regardless of the heater blasting warm air throughout the car, I was cold and numb in disbelief. I realized I still had to face the long, looming New England winter. Whenever I hear that song, I feel just as cold as I did that day.

2) While in AmeriCorps out west, my team was stationed in Sacramento for four-and-a-half long months. To cope w/ the drabness of Dirty Sac, my Ameri-brothers and sisters and I became regulars at a nearby dive bar called Harvy’s. The adopted AmeriCorps bar was also home to local mullets and the coolest bartender ever. The fact he had no more than six teeth made him even cooler. Every Wednesday nite and weekends, the bar featured Karaoke hosted by a small Asian woman. I, of course, am not one to turn down an open mic. What started as a one-time event transformed into legend. Although the group changed slightly from nite to nite, my buddies Charlie and Keelsford never missed a nite w/ me. Our setlist gained fame faster than Jessica Simpson’s untalented sister.

Pretty soon, we began every nite (after each consuming a couple pitchers) with The Bloodhound Gang’s The Bad Touch. You may know it as the “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel” song. We would dance around like idiots (on purpose), grab Ameri-girls and grind all over ‘em (against the pool table), and let fans sing a verse or two. We’d then throw back more beers before our second number, Eiffel 65’s Blue. At this point in the nite, we’d be too drunk to care about the words and relied on making up our own lyrics. During the chorus, “I’m blue bah-da-dee, dah-da-da, da-bah-dee, da-bah-da,” we’d all make our own gibberish sounds. I would usually stick my lips out and strum them with my finger (a la talking underwater). We, of course, also danced like idiots and grinded on girls we had no interest in (all three of us had g/fs). If there was time for a third song, and we were still conscious, we’d choose one of our closers for the finale, usually Welcome to the Jungle or Livin’ on a Prayer. I don’t remember much from our finales. I do, however, always think back to those simpler days whenever I heard The Bad Touch or Blue. If this doesn’t sound like a great time, you’ve never been in AmeriCorps*NCCC.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Nobody does the Beatles like Greggster!

I wanted to let everyone know about a fabulous experience I had this weekend……
Japanese karaoke is not for everyone, but it is certainly for Greggster, the roomie, John boy, and I.
In Wheaton, MD, there’s a funky little shack called Color. You rent a room with a few couches, a TV, a light and a tambourine for 30 bucks (sounds like a strange sex rendezvous, no?) they give you a fruit tray and a catalogue of a few hundred songs and you go to town.
Unlike traditional karaoke, which is sung in front of masses of strangers, this place rents you your own private room, whereupon you serenade, or scare, only your friends.
About 90 bucks worth of six packs later, we all sounded great. The roomie told Greggster he should try out for American Idol, and John boy gave me mad props for my renditions of Christina Aguilera’s “beautiful” and Coolio’s own “Gangsta’s Paradise”. Highlights also included John boy’s eerily natural use of the tambourine and roomie’s microphone skills. She whipped that thing around like a pro.
If you love your friends, love making an ass out of yourself, love American classics, and love taking really long metro lines into scary parts of Wheaton, try Color.

Sleepovers- Not for the weak at kidney

In case you don’t remember, sleep overs are the “it” thing when you’re 8. And rightfully so- an entire night at someone else’s house, staying up late (or not going to bed at all) makeovers, scary stories, popcorn and movies you aren’t supposed to watch… then pancakes the next morning in a foreign kitchen, someone’s dad notices your giggling and asks, “What did you girls do last night?”
My first sleepover was supposed to be a liberating and exciting moment for me. It was more exciting than I could have ever imagined.
I come from a long line of hypochondriacs. My favorite person in the world, my grandmother, is the worlds leading hypochondriac. I have seen her convince herself of many an ailment. Truly, it is incredible. I wonder if she concentrated hard enough, if she could make things levitate. This is the intensity in which she often believes there is something wrong with her.
When you come from such powerful hypochondriacs, you swear you will not become one. And like most other things you swear you will never become (fat, your mother, the office bitch) you eventually do.
It didn’t take me long. One afternoon during my childhood, I watched a TV show that detailed kidney failure, general kidney problems, and gave an in-depth look at kidney surgery. I was enthralled. An organ as important as a kidney can go sour? That’s bad news. I hoped I would never have a kidney problem.
The rest of the day was filled with anticipation, and the night proved to be full of fun. We danced around Kati’s basement, played fashion show, staged a Barbie court room hearing (because our Barbies were lawyers) and watched movies late into the night. With movies came popcorn. With popcorn came trouble.
Several years later I was to find out that I was allergic to popcorn. But on this particular night, I noticed an odd feeling on the side of my stomach when we lay down to sleep.
Do you like eating the half-popped kernels? I do. At that particular moment, I wished I did not. I imagined that the unthinkable had happened- a kernel had stuck itself to my kidney, and was slowly burrowing in, leaving a permanent mark, scarring me for life, interrupting my regularly functioning kidneys. I had ingested a popcorn kernel and my kidneys were failing.
I woke up Suzy, Suzy woke up Kati, Kati woke up her mom, and thus the odd stares and questioning began. Why did I think I hurt my kidney? How could a kernel stick? Was I really in that much pain? Yes, yes yes!
Kati’s mom, much against her better judgment, picked up the phone and called my parents. She told them I was having a stomach ache and that I was concerned that my kidneys were in jeopardy. My mother, coming from that long line of hypochondriacs previously discussed, walked the block to their house and picked me up. When she saw me, she knew I was ok, just a bout of the ol’ family syndrome.
After a lot of hugs, talking, glasses of water and even a glimpse into the encyclopedia to see pictures of kidneys, I was convinced by my parents that sleeping through the night would in no way jeopardize my health. If my kidneys were indeed in danger, it could wait till the morning.
The morning came and went without stomach pain and my kidneys seemed to be ok. I chalked it up to a “kidney attack” and went on with my business of Barbie and playing bank as usual. These attacks never returned.

Monday, March 28, 2005

More clumsy horror stories…

Late last week the Greggster and I were headed out for sushi (a break from our Slimfast, chicken and broccoli diet) and I busted my ass.
We were holding hands and crossing the street. In the middle of the street I lost my balance and fell, but the Greggster didn’t let go of my hand- he instead tried to pull me back up. This sent me spinning in a circular motion, as I slid around and hit my hip, then my foot, then my arm then my ass on the ground. Many people saw. When I got up, I did what I do every time I fall and people see me: I put my hands in the air and announced, “I’m ok!”
Just thought it needed to be recorded somewhere.

A few memories

I find it eerie and comforting, but also bittersweet and yet still, lovely- that so many memories are made out of, founded in, cause by, or accompanied by music. All the proms and breakups, holiday parties and summer days we would forget, or at least not know how to hold onto, if some particular song didn’t lock that moment into our heads every time we heard it.
Here are just a few songs and they moments I relive every time I hear them:

“So Happy Together”, the Turtles- I can smell chlorine and feel the anxiety of going to swim team practice. The song makes me feel nervous and excited all at once, like I did when I was 8 and unpopular, yet so in love with water and the backstroke. My ears stuck so far out of my swim cap, and I just knew that if I ever grew into them, I’d get made fun of just a little less- making life more bearable while knocking .3 seconds off my best time. Swim team was the first thing I think I ever loved and hated at the very same time.

“North Carolina”, Petey Pablo- This ridiculous song reminds me of my senior year at Elon. The roomie came down to visit me and I brought her to this horrible frat party. All the boys in the hair gel, tight shirts and freshly bought tans danced to trendy techno music and hit on girls that were nothing like me and the roomie. But we went and we smiled and we even had fun. When the song came on (North Carolina! C’mon and raise up! Take your shirt off! Twist it round your head, spin it like a helicopter!) the roomie did just that. As if taking a cue from the drunken messy frat boys, she too, whipped off her sweater and swung that thing round her head, just like a damned helicopter. It made me fall in love with her all over again- this lovely girl who could make me feel at home in a place I had no business being. A girl who could make fun of herself and a song and everyone around her, including me, at the same time, and make it feel so fabulous to laugh. It made me feel like we were in high schools again, in our band uniforms, stomping around to some dumb song…realizing how silly we were, that it was ok to be silly, and that no one around us was nearly as cool as they thought.

“Taking you Home”, Don Henley- The summer after senior year in college I returned home to Delaware and did what most successful, bright eyed, optimistic college grads did- started waiting tables. After a few months I picked up a day job at a department store- I worked in visual display, so most of my job entailed putting up signs, dressing mannequins, setting up displays and playing in store windows. It wasn’t a bad job- I was moving around for 8 hours a day (and usually another 7 or 8 at night at the restaurant), I got to satisfy my crafty urges and gave my input on designs. When I started the job, I was ending a relationship. Said “relationship” had been on and off and this time, finally was off for good. And while my love for the person had been pulverized by ill will, cheating, lying and general shitiness, a part of me felt empty. A part of me felt like 3 years of giving my all had been flushed down the toilet. A part of me wanted my ex to show up at my door a new and improved man, sad about what he had lost and ready to give me the kind of love I deserved. It never happened.
I got to work each morning around 7 am, and the first and worst part of my job each day was changing signs that hung around the store, from the cathedral ceilings. I learned to carry around a 12 foot tall ladder by myself. Seriously, sometimes when people ask what the most difficult thing I have ever had to do was, I think of those moments.
So I’d carry this ladder all around the store, carefully as not to break china or perfume bottles, and I’d maneuver it up into the air. I’d climb up the 12 feet of rungs to the very top of the ladder- the place you were not supposed to stand- the place my boss told me to stand, as I surely did not want to have to carry around a 15 foot ladder by myself.
I’d climb to the top, balance on my tip-toes and change signs. And I’d start to sweat.
And it was at these highest elevations that “Taking you Home”, this horrible, cheesy, middle-aged song would blare from the department store speakers, conveniently located on the ceilings, usually right next to the signs. I’d stand up there, tired because it was early, nervous because I could fall, exhausted because I’d spent most of the night before cleaning up salad dressing off of the restaurant floor, and I’d listen to the sad, sappy lyrics of this song. Every day, it seemed, the song would play at my weakest moments high atop the ladder. Sometimes I would tear up. Sometimes I would curse out loud. Other times I would just close my eyes for a second and wish I was anywhere except there, in that store, praying someone would come rescue me. A few times I wondered what life would be like had I fallen. Maybe I even wondered if I should make myself fall.
When I look back now, when I hear that song, I laugh at the desperation of a 21 year old, who felt like her life may have ended, when really it was just beginning.