January 8, 2014

The Largest Lint Ball

When I was around five years old I started a lint ball collection.  I don't remember why.  I was weird.  My family's house had this carpet that left a lot of lint around so one day I grabbed some of it up and made a tiny ball of the stuff.  For fun.  It was so much fun in fact that I decided it was the only thing to do ever.  When I saw more lint, I would add it to the ball.  Sometimes I would just scrape at the carpet to get more lint.  When I was at my grandparents house, I was in heaven because their carpet was super shaggy, so I could get 50% more lint in one day.  Every time I entered a room, I calculated the lint to carpet ratio and then went to work.  This went on for many years.  My lint ball grew to enormous proportions.  I had to start storing it in a cardboard box to contain it.  I would hide it at the top of my closet so no one would steal it.  Because obviously if someone robbed our house, the lint ball would be the first thing to go.  My precious.

I asked my mom recently if she remembered the lint ball collection and she said solemnly, "You were very serious about it and it meant a lot."  It made me picture my mother watching my five year old self clutching a giant lint ball that was probably some sort of health hazard.  She was probably wondering what she did wrong.

I do remember thinking it was one of the most important things I could do - to make the largest lint ball.  I think maybe it's because deep down I knew that no other child in the world was making a lint ball like mine so it made me feel special.  

At some point, I stopped adding things to the lint ball box, which was now really more of a crate that read "Do Not Touch - Michelle's Lint Ball Collection."  I don't remember the very last time I added lint to it.  I bet I didn't know it would be the last time when I did.  It may have been when I got into high school and forgot about the lint ball.  I asked my mom if she knew what happened to it.  I feared the worst, that it was thrown out.  But she whispered after a long pause, "....I think it's still in your closet."  She said this as if some wild animal was living in there.  Which may well be true because an animal could fit into the center of the lint ball very comfortably.

When I'm home again I will go searching for the lint ball.  I want to know that that ball and the child who made it still exist in some way.  It represents a time in my life when the simple act of continuously doing something that was important to me was everything.  I had a daily task, and that was to collect all of the lint in the world, and by God I was going to do it and I was going to do it well.  And at the end of the day, I knew I had done something great.  

That weird five year old reminds me that if I just keep picking up some lint every day, every day relentlessly with no excuses, one day I will get the biggest lint ball I ever dreamed of.

January 5, 2014

A Conversation Between Me and Kevin. Part 421.

A couple of years ago I created a segment of my blog called "A Conversation Between Me and Kevin" so that the world could know about my hero Kevin.  And also because it required little to no effort on my part to compose.  I literally just copied and pasted the words exchanged between me and Kevin via text message.  When it started, the segment irritated Kevin enormously.  That has not changed.  So for his birthday gift this year I thought I'd start it up again.  Here we go, A Conversation Between Me and Kevin Part 421:

I had a dream last night that you cast me in a sketch and I forgot what character I was playing and you got so mad and made me sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Good dream.

I woke up feeling panicked that I had disappointed you.

Ha.  Stop panicking because you have always disappointed me.

For More Inspiring Conversations with Kevin, click any of the links below:
Part 2Part 3Part 6Part 7Part 11Part 8Part 25Part 35Part 102Part 306

January 4, 2014

On My Level, Part Two

When I was in college, I vowed to never be the kind of person who would call in a noise complaint.  I lived in a building that often threw all-building parties, they were the best, and very loud, and we all thought anyone who didn't like it should just be cool for one night and handle it.  Or move away from the party street.

We all operated under an unspoken rule.  If someone was throwing a party, or talking too loudly late at night when you were trying to sleep, you worked through it and let them party on, because one day very soon the roles would be reversed and you would be that asshole.  This worked nicely.  Many a time in college I had to get to bed early because of an exam the next day, and if anyone threw a party next door to me, I learned to sleep through the sounds of heavy bass and keg stands as if it were a lullaby.

I could sleep through most noise from then on.  Until now.  I have been trying to do this thing called "well rested-ness" where I actually get to bed early and get up early and get a full night's sleep.  It's been a constant battle, but slowly I've been able to reset my clock.  I went to bed around midnight one night (which sadly is early for me) when it started.  A bass sound so loud, it was shaking my apartment.  So loud, that it sounded as if I was now living in Mordor when everything was exploding.  Then a bright light like the eye of Sauron somehow managed to make my curtains obsolete.  There was a party somewhere.  And it was bangin'.

I hopped out of bed, now wide awake, and drew closer to my windows in order to determine the source of the noise and blinding light.  At first I thought it was my neighbor and was slightly annoyed.  This kind of noise at Midnight on a Wednesday?  Absurd.  And rude.  But also hilarious and ballsy.  But as I opened my window, it no longer sounded like the noise was coming from my building.  In fact, I didn't have to wonder anymore because some movement caught my eye. The little antique shop across the street was RAGING.  Young tiny people were poring in and out of the once innocent shop, smoking cigarettes and staring at their phones while dancing to the music, probably texting more people to join in on the party.

I was amused at the pure audacity of this party.  The quiet little antique shop was probably in shock.  OR having the time of its life.  Also, who in the world got a large speaker and a strobe light so bright it blinds the entire block into that antique shop?  The whole thing was a beacon just waiting for the police to shut it down.

I was amused for the first hour of the noise. Let them party on as I used to in college.  I felt a sense of pride.

Then on hour two, I thought, okay.  OKAY.  These damn kids and their damn loud music are messing with my "well rested-ness."  I have a job to go to tomorrow you slackers!  I finally understood how the bald Principal in Back to the Future felt.  A movie that none of these kids probably knew.  This made me feel worse.

Then I remembered the vow I made not so long ago to never be the kind of person who would call in a noise complaint on a bunch of kids having some fun or talking loudly, just so I could get some sleep.  When I was that age, I didn't mean any harm.  I just wanted to bump that bass and yell things.  I watch the party from afar, in my pajamas and wearing my retainers.  I was not on their level.  But dammit I was not going to be the one to ruin their level.

True to my vow, I never called a noise complaint on those kids.  But someone else did cause the police finally showed up and shut that party down REAL quick.

This is Part Two of Part One, which you can read here: On My Level.

January 2, 2014

Hello 2014. Hello.

Last year, I started off 2013 with a very negative attitude.  On the night before New Years, my gas water heater started making some very startling popping noises.  It sounded as if there was a fawn in my kitchen banging a tiny pot with a tiny wooden spoon.  I got up enough courage to gaze into the room with the water heater. Disappointed that there was no fawn, I then knew that I had a problem.  Because now I could smell gas, which is never good when you have a gas appliance.  Or just in general.  I called the gas company emergency line.  They said they would send someone right away.  

Before hearing the sound, I was on my way to meet some friends for New Years all the way across town, but now I was stuck.  I was advised to stay away from the water heater so I went as far away as possible, which was in the next room, and waited, in a sparkly outfit, alone on New Years.  I was a little mad because my hair looked GREAT and no one was there to see it.  Finally the Gas Company guy showed up.  He obviously hated me because he got an emergency call on New Years Eve.  I decided we would become best of friends. We didn't.

He performed all of the necessary procedures to confirm there was in fact a gas leak in my water heater.  He then put scary red stickers all over the appliance that said DANGER and DON'T FUCKING TOUCH THIS, or the like.  He shut down my water heater and said a technician would have to fix it after the New Year.  So, no hot water for me.

The technician left and all the paranoia that ever lived inside of me was released.  I was suddenly terrified of the gas water heater.  I knew it was off but I kept checking it to make sure.  The DANGER signs loomed at me and I felt like I had escaped near death.  Which in a way I had - gas leaks are no joke.  Maybe the sound I heard really was a tiny fawn trying to warn me.  

I ended up making it to my friend's house for New Years, masking my terror and pretending like everything was fine and whoooo 2013!  If I had a thought bubbling looming over my head at that party, it would have been a picture of a giant gas water heater with sharp teeth and arms flailing about.

Once I got home from the party I opened some windows and sat on my couch and watched television until daylight.  I was afraid to sleep for fear of the gas heater magically turning on again (that damn fawn!)  Or what if the gas company guy made a mistake?  Could I really put my life in his hands?  Eventually I had to sleep.  I had to trust that the water heater was off and that I was safe.  I took a cold cold shower.  And went to sleep in the daylight.  I woke up in the afternoon and was thankful to be alive.

This was just the beginning of my long battle with the water heater that lived in my apartment.  And it was the start of a 2013 full of fear.  And when you are always afraid, let me tell you, you don't do much.  I mean you do things cause you have to, but you are always doing them with the scary monster thought bubble looming over you.

So towards the end of 2013, I went on a quest to get all of the scary things out of my life.  Or at least to conquer them.  Not to say that all scary things are bad.  It's good to do things that scare you and challenge you.  When I did my solo show for the first time I thought I would pass out or pee and wanted to run away and never return.  But I got through it and in the end it was one of the best days of my life.  No, the good scary things must always be there.  But the bad scary things, the ones that take you over and make you feel like you can't do anything or be anything or move one inch, those must be conquered.  I finally conquered the water heater.  Still working on the monster under my bed that I check for every night.  Although I think he might be cool cause he's been there all my life and has let me be.  So maybe he's looking out for me.

Anyway, hey, 2014.  Hey.  You're gonna be alright.