Razors, Wizards, and a 20 Year Old Confession

Razors, Wizards, and a 20 Year Old Confession

As mentioned in a Smirk last month the first weekend of August held the celebration of my 20th High School Reunion. Initially I was concerned that the Facebook might alter the overall experience of seeing people I have not seen in 10 to 20 years. As it turned out, it was a lot of fun and Facebook didn’t mess things up at all.

There were a few people that I would have liked to catch up with but didn’t get around to it, and some that I wasn’t expecting to chat with as much as I did, but was glad we did. Then there were some conversations that came as a complete surprised. Things like “Yeah, I work for NORAD.” or “Did you know I live in your house?”

Turns out one of my old class mates ended up purchasing the house I grew up in when I parents left town. They had done some remodeling over the years and mentioned they discovered a few things in the walls as part of the process. Hammers and screwdrivers were my first two guesses. It only made sense, since the house I grew up in was initially a duplex that was turned into a one level house, when we then turned into a two story house. For all I know one of those hammers was left in the wall by me while we were putting up sheet rock.

Apparently they found one section of a wall that was full or double edged razor blades, the kind that fitted into the razor my dad still uses to this day. Why a wall in our house would be filled with them was a little perplexing though. Thanks to a conversation I had with someone who was just three years older than my dad it turns out that back in the day, it was common practice to have a small slit in the medicine cabinet or the wall of the bathroom where these dangerous razor blades were disposed of. The logic was that kids could get into the trash and hurt themselves, but there was no way of the kids getting into the walls. If I had to guess the wall they opened up was in the remodel was the wall between the old master bedroom and the bathroom before the second floor of the house was build.

The most surprising conversation I had was actually a confession of teenage high jinx that took place at my house one night, which included a wizard, the silhouette of a bunny’s head, and a telephone. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Hey, remember when a group of us were over at your house playing DnD? I came over with ‘so and so’ and we had brought a page that we had ripped out of the back of a Playboy that had a bunch of chat line numbers on it. The game really wasn’t our thing so while you and the others were playing ‘so and so’ and I went into another room and started making a bunch of calls from the ads on the page we had. I was just wondering, did you ever get in trouble for that?”

I just laughed it off and said I didn’t get in any trouble, but . . . okay first off, what compels someone to confess that they called a bunch of sex lines using your home phone one night twenty plus years ago, because they weren’t that interested in pretending to be a wizard? Okay, so maybe I see his motivation, but it’s still an odd conversation starter for someone you haven’t seen in 20 years. I mean does the statute of limitations run out after two decades on something like that, which means you can finally start talking about it?

Secondly, if I didn’t get in trouble for that, so who the hell did? Was there some kind of ‘sex line’ phone bill conspiracy of the late 80s that I was not privy to? Had one of my other brothers taken the blame for this dirty talk high jinx, or perhaps even my old man? This was going to require some investigation.

Well, after two days of investigating the matter, neither my brothers nor my parents remember any sex line related phone bill conversations. This leads me to believe that this guy and his friend were either using 800 numbers and hung up when they asked for credit card information, or mistook me for someone else and there is still some more chap from our high school days that twitches every time he hears the words phone and sex used in the same sentence.

If it was done at my house, I guess I can be thankful that those two didn’t seen my Mom’s purse nearby and decide to use her credit card to help them chat with their “solo” mate. On a plus note thought, at least I get to tell everyone what he confessed to. So, I’d say that about makes us even.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: class of 92 reunion, razor blade slots in medicine cabinets, wtf look, and dating chat line.

Copyright © 2012 Richard Timothy

Amazed to be Alive

Amazed to be Alive

I saw a bag of marbles at the grocery store yesterday and it got me thinking about my life, filling me with amazement that I’m still here after all these years. Not that I ever tried to ends things early… well not intentionally, but I think that’s the thing about the adolescent and teenage years, we all sort of try without really thinking we’re trying… meaning we don’t really make a lot of educated guesses at that age about what we’re doing and if it’s safe. Actually we might, it’s just that we don’t have a lot of education on what we want to try, and usually when something is cool, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s smart. I don’t know about you, but when it came to doing something cool verses doing something safe, 9.9 times out of 10 I was going to be doing something cool.

Yep, marbles are responsible for today’s reminiscent Smirk about life, but more than that, about surviving life. I grew up about three blocks from the high school, and two and a half block from the high school wood shop, which was in its own building close to the high school. Starting in grade school up until I left town, I would spend a lot of time at the shop, thanks to my dad being the shop teacher. Next to the high school shop was the big field that all the school buses lived in during the summer months. Now, when I was in grade school, the bus field wasn’t always the bus field.

At that period in my life the field was the schools dump. It collected piles if random waste, broken desks, old books, retired chalk boards, etc. However, the field did have one additional thing that made it one of the most magical places in town. It had a huge enclosed outdoor fire pit. The whole thing was made out of sheets of ½ think steel welded together. Three walls were around five feet high and the forth wall, the mouth of the pit, was between two to three feet high. That way the janitors could easily feed it whatever they wanted to, and at the same time once the fire was well under way, they could keep piling things on. It looked a bit like an outdoor fireplace for the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk.

On this particular day, all of the boys were at the shop, and it turned out dad needed some help spray painting a few things. I always wanted to help out when I could, but when you have little fingers attached to little hands, getting a good hold on a spray paint can, while trying with all your might to push that damn nozzle piece down far enough to get some paint to come out, took a lot more effort than I expected it would. About five minutes later my spray finger had more paint on it than the wood I was trying to paint, so I stopped helping and started playing instead. I do remember being fascinated by the rattling noise each spray paint would make when I shook them up, it was like I had my own set of metal maracas. I’d shake them up and do a little cha-cha-cha dance around the shop. It was my oldest brother Dave who unraveled the rattle mystery when he showed me that very day a spray paint can marble. It was a marble making all that noise… who knew?

I wanted one, but my dad said it was too dangerous to try to get marbles from a pressurized empty can of spray paint and that he’d get me some marbles sometime soon. As an adolescent “sometime soon” equates to about one minute shy of forever. If he wasn’t going to help, I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.

As I walked outside of the shop I noticed that there was a faint stream of smoke coming from the pit, and started heading that way. The closer I got I noticed that the pits guardian, the janitor, was gone. Apparently, he had finished burning the piles of trash he was assigned to and had disappeared while the hot coals continued their journey into cool ash. That is when I had a brilliant idea… I could melt the cans and get the marbles out of them once they’d melted. How easy and safe was that? I ran back to the shop and started filling my arms with the empty spray paint cans sitting in the trash. Realizing that I could be more efficient with the number of cans I could take with me, I got my “go to” partner in crime Mike, my brother who is just a year older than me. He liked the idea of free marbles too and together with our arms full of empty cans we headed toward the giant’s fireplace full of smoldering ashes.

Having no idea what to expect, we opted to do a test run and threw only throw one can in to see what would happen. For a few minutes there was nothing. Mike even grabbed a stick and started poking at the can. Shortly after that the entire pit started to hiss. In looking back it was probably the plastic nozzle melting and letting out the left over compressed air, but at the time it was the sound of an awakened fire snake hissing as the foolish adventurers that had wandered into its pit, ready to strike its magma filled fangs into whoever it was that woke it up. We ran from the noise as fast as we could. Then, half way between the pit and the shop, we heard a loud bang.

We skidded to a stop, well Mike did, I inadvertently chose to drop to my butt, and then skidded to a halt. We turned and looked back at the pit… had someone just blown up the fire serpent? Then, out of what must have been sheer dumb luck because it couldn’t really have been anything but, a marble fell past my head and thudded to the ground about three feet away. It was mostly gold, the same color as the paint in the can we had tossed into the ashes. I picked up the marble, it was lingering between warm and hot, and some of the paint came off and stuck to my fingers. “It’s the marble from the can,” I yelled, as we both started running toward the pit. When we got there, we peeked over the edge and looked in. Sure enough, the bottom of the can was gone leaving the remains completely empty.

The prospect of having more cans explode for our amusement while marbles fell from heaven got us a little excited. Soon three cans were in the pit, cooking up a little “boom” where a marble would pop out to let us know it was done. At least we had enough sense to not stand in front of the mouth of the pit while we waited for the cans to pop. With three explosions in the making, we knew we needed to take cover. When the first can blew we were hiding behind a few old broken desk tops, we heard a ping and then a shattering sound. The marble had failed to escape. It shot against the inside wall of the pit and disappeared into a cloud of tiny glass shard snowflakes… and I bet no two glass flakes were the same.

The second and third blew at almost the same time. One shattered and one shot out of the open top. We both lost it in the sun, but as I started walking back to the pit Mike yelled, “Don’t move.” I stopped, though not sure why.


“Shhhh,” Mike insisted, listening with the same intensity as a hungry baby watching Baywatch.

Then I heard it, a thud about twenty feet behind the pit. We raced towards the noise and began searching fervently for the little glass ball that had just hit the ground. Ten minutes of crawling through the grass resulted in two little boys empty handed and heading a back to the pit for another go. We only had three more cans, and I didn’t want to share my marble. So the last three cans were thrown in one at a time so we could focus on finding only one marble after each can popped.

The first one… “boom, shatter”. Damn. The second one… “boom, ping”… that was new. We waited for sound of the thud, once it hit we ran toward the sound. Surprisingly, this one was just lying on a small mound of dirt. Turned out the noise was the marble skinning against the edge of the pit wall on its way to freedom, it knocked out a small sliver of glass, but it was still whole and counted as one for Mike. The last one sounded a lot like the first one, but when we walked back to the pit we noticed that half of a marble was sitting just outside of it. Mike called dibs. His logic was since he had two pieces that were both missing bits then he should get the two damaged marbles to make up for the one whole one that I had. I wanted to argue his logic, but at the time I really could find no flaw in it.

With the cans all gone and each of us with a trophy, we headed back to the shop to see if there was anything else we could throw in the “still very active and ready to burn” pit. There were no more spray paint cans left in the trash, but we did manage to find one can of WD-40. The spray nozzle had broken off sending the can to the trash way before its time was up. The best part, the can was almost completely full. I felt a little like the first time I fed my dog Peanuts peanut butter, he had no idea what it was, but he sure enjoyed the hell out it. Since the can was almost full, this meant only one thing… run as fast as possible once we threw it in the pit. We had even set up some cardboard boxes to hide under with eye holes cut out so we could watch what happened in safety.

It took about five minutes for the magic to take place, which, when hiding in a cardboard box, waiting patiently is equivalent of spending three hours looking at a spreadsheet on an Apple IIe full of someone else’s tax receipts from the 1970’s. Three minutes in, we were talking about it being a dud, suggesting to the other to go check it out. It wasn’t until we had gotten out of our cardboard fortress of protection and took a step toward the pit that the can’s hard metal shell breached and its contents blew.

A fireball filled the entire pit and shot about fifteen feet out of the open top. It wasn’t terribly loud, but the flame and cloud of black smoke that billowed out was anything but stealthy. It was time to get back to the shop and hang out with an adult that would vouch for us being good kids in the event anyone showed up asking questions, because someone was bound to show up. In fact, in less than a minute of us getting back to the shop door we saw a the janitor, the one that always scared the bejesus out of me by just looking at me, walking toward the pit with a very angry look on his face.

As he stood next to the pit, his hands on his hips, he looked around for some evil doer to come out and fess up. This was our cue to walk back in the shop and find something else to do… like clean the paint off our new round shiny treasure. As we were drying off our hands and marbles with the course brown paper towels that all wood shops at every high school is required by law to use, we both agreed that the day had held the coolest thing either of us had ever seen, and made a pact not to ever tell mom or dad about it, and we haven’t to this day… well, unless they just read this Smirk, in which case… Mom, Dad… it was all Mike idea, I swear!

Sadly, ever since that “marble in a can” day the pit always had supervision whenever we would go check it out during “burn days”. It was like the trying to get past the Black Gate to get to Mount Doom. In truth it probably saved us from at least a handful or eyebrow grow-back sessions, and possibly the loss of a digit or two. So to the scary janitor that was assigned to keep an eye on the burning trash, thanks for keeping us safe… from ourselves. Eventually, they took out the old burning station and converted the school dump into the bus storage field… but the buses had all sorts of treasures in them, so it was a pretty good trade off. Of course, that’s an entirely different story.

This was one of many bad for the sake of “cool” experiences I’ve had during my life, and I’ll admit, when I look back, I’m impressed I’m still here… and thankful as well. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a thing.

I’m convinced everyone has at least one, “… and I’m still here” stories from their youth, I’d love to hear one of yours.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: marbles, spray paint can marbles, kid searching in grass, burning trash, kids in cardboard box, and the Black Gate.

Why Parent’s Make Up Pointless Rules… because there’s a point… I think.

Why Parent’s Make Up Pointless Rules… because there’s a point… I think.

Families are odd little things. They are their own country in a way, with rules, laws, regulations, and rulers. In looking at some of my friends growing up and their family world was quite different than mine. The ruler concept is always easy to understand when you go from home to home. It was always the parent(s) and when they were not home it broke down oldest to youngest.

Then there is the collection of rules that you need to follow to ensure you didn’t get beat, verbally reprimanded, put in a corner on time out, or hugged and kissed in front of your friends until you promised never to do that again and amazed the embarrassment didn’t kill you. The thing that is so incredible to me is the absolute adherence you had for so many of these rules growing up. Rules that make absolutely no sense now, but back then, sure, you could see the point… if only because your parents would explain your confusion with the always “impossible to argue with” statement, “Because I said so.”

One of these rules recently came to mind one evening while I was enjoying a bowl of “magic soup”, which I believe most people call cereal. I mean I call it cereal as well, but only when I’m having it for breakfast. The rest of the time it’s lovingly referred to as “magic soup”, because… it is. Cereal enables to you build a magical fortress that you can hide behind, or do games on the back, or dig through to find a decoder ring with a special message on the box that, once decoded, tells you to eat more cereal.

The cereal rule I had growing up was a rule based on sugar. Because sugar cereal was, is, and will always be more expensive that unsugared cereal. I guess to be clear, for me sugar cereal constitutes cereal like Honeycombs, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, and Lucky Charms, where unsugared cereal means Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Corn Chex… even though technically they all have some sugar in them.

The rule was this; we could only have sugared cereal on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and only one bowl for each day. The rest of the time, if we wanted cereal for breakfast, we ate crappy unsugared cereal, which I would drown with sugar. Seriously, after all the cereal was gone I loved slurping down the left over milk, which was about half sugar. It had the consistency of clam chowder. The thickness was a result of all the sugar I poured over the flakes, one bite at a time. Thinking about it now almost puts me in a sugar coma. Pardon me while I embrace an uncontrollable shiver or two. (/shiver) Seriously though, left to my own devices, my regular cereal had about three times more sugar than my sugared cereal. And yet, I remember the sugar cereal always tasting so much better.

We followed the rule too. Mainly because if any of us screwed up, or took sugared cereal on a day we were not supposed to, everyone would lose their sugar cereal rights for about a month. Not to mention that there would be a good chance that you would be accosted by all of your siblings when the parents weren’t looking.

In looking back, there is one thing about this rule that makes absolutely no sense… Sunday! I managed to grow up in a religious home were every Sunday we would go to church. Now while at church it was hammered into me that church was a reverent place. A place where I was to sit quietly, listen to the stories teachers would read, and above all else I place where you behave.

So my question is this, if good behavior was an important aspect to the overall effect of this church going experience, then why was one of the only days of the week I was allowed to get wired and jacked up on sugar cereal on the morning of the day I would be going to church. There was no chance in hell I was going to sit quietly though an type of meeting after emptying a bowl of Fruit Loops just before going to a build designed to get people engaging in some type of holy experience.

Occasionally my parents did experience good behavior on my part, but this was only because I had opted to add sugar to my sugar cereal and by the time we got to church I had already hit my sugar peak and was crashing right as service started. I’d sleep through the whole thing, which I suppose was a rather peaceful experience for me as well. Although there were those times that I think my parents, usually my dad, appreciated my sugar rushed behavior, but only on the occasion that a sermon was excruciatingly drab and dreary. If, I mean when I’d misbehave on days like this, my dad was always more than happy to pick me up and escort me out of the main room.

Sometimes he’s smack me on the butt, because I’d more than likely earned it. Other times he’d just smile and give me a hug and take me outside to run around the building to work off some of my excess energy while he sat outside and watched me (out of earshot of the sermon being shared inside). Apparently, sometimes badly behaved children can be an answer to a parent’s prayer… but only if that prayer is for the sake of getting them out of church. Who knew? At least I’m glad I could help. Who knows, maybe that’s the reason right there for why sugar cereal was only allowed on the weekend.

What were some of the rules you had growing up that when you look back made absolutely no sense?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: family, cereal, pillow fighting kids, kids in church, holding kids, and spanking kid.

Healthy Halloween… A Sweet Alternative

Healthy Halloween… A Sweet Alternative

Well, it’s finally happened. This year I became “that guy” for Halloween. No, not “That Guy” that guy, but the one that looks at all those little people dressed up in what I consider to be essentially a collection of multiple dimension origins of alternative Oliver Twist outfits, and thinks, “You’ve had enough.” Sure, I might be stretching a bit with that, but the fact of the matter is that all these kids dress up for the sole purpose of begging for candy. Not that Oliver ever begged for candy, but he is the one person most people reenact when begging, or attempting to beg by saying, “Please sir, may I…” well, you know the rest.

With the sugar overload that is Halloween, this year I found myself thinking, “I should get some apples or oranges for those little high fructose corn syrup addicts, instead of candy.” Then I remembered what I did when I was a kid when someone tried that crap with me. First, I would wait for two or three additional sets of trick-or-treaters to go through the “knock of disappointment” as we would call it. Then I would hurl my newly acquired orange at the distributor’s front door and run like hell.

What? When you’re ten and jacked up on sweets it seems like a perfectly good idea at the time. So oranges and apples are officially off the trick-or-treat menu. Also, in the event that you do receive a piece of fruit and take it home, parents never let you eat it because of that stories about razorblades being stuck in fruit on Halloween. So, even though you try to do a good thing and pass out something healthy, it gets tossed into the trash by the parents once they get home.

Instead I opted to go with something else… something in a sealed container. Something so heinous in the minds of most youth that then word got out my house would be dubbed some adolescent term that carries the same meaning and emotional abrasion as the black plague. Hey, if there is one thing I know about little kids it’s their complete and utter lack of being overly dramatic about any and every given situation. I figure if I could get the word out early on then none of the other kids would stop by and our house. We would be skipped out of respect to the commercialized and candy filled holiday Halloween had become in mainstream society.

Raisins, I got those cute little boxes of raisins to pass out. Hey, it might have taken me five months to get to them, but once all of the candy from, Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s day had been consumed and all that was left were those three boxes of raisins, they too were eaten as a last resort… which means after I my siblings and I had eaten all the sugared cereal in the house as well. But they were eaten, and I remember thinking that they really weren’t that bad… as a last resort.

So did I pass out raisins for Halloween this year and become the person received an evening of disappointed signs from the Oliver Twist wannabes when they noticed me handing them a box of raisins? No, but only because my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh took me to the movies to avoid being home for trick-or-treaters. Yeah, so instead of ‘that guy’ I was that other ‘that guy’, which is still completely different from “That Guy!” who usually hangs out at bars making comments about, well, you know.

Still, I did have little boxes of humiliated grapes ready to go. It’s funny, it only took me about thirty years to figure out what was going though the mind of that ‘crazy’ lady that gave me my first box of raisins when I was trick-or-treating all those years ago. I get it now, and if I’m home for the holiday next year I’ll probably be passing them out. I’m ok being ‘that guy’ and they will be new boxes, because now, for the next few months I have a two bags of baby sized boxes of raisin to take to work with me as part of my lunch. So, at least I’ve got that going for me.

What are your thoughts on a healthy Halloween?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Oliver Twist, throwing oranges, box of raisins, and sack lunch.

Art Class Hallucinations

Art Class Hallucinations

Not too long ago I did a little Smirk about sleep and some of the things we do while we are asleep… like dreaming (I felt that needed conveying for those who have not yet read that piece). However, there was one thing I was reminded as I was writing the piece… the exact opposite of sleep and dreaming. Then again maybe it was awake dreaming. I’m not altogether certain, all I can say for sure is that the only hallucination I’ve ever had in my life was a result of no sleep… for three days straight.

It happened during my senior year of high school. During this phase of my life I had decided that art was my life. I even managed to get the authorization to have three of my seven classes to be art classes. I had even gotten permission to have a ceramics class during 7th period, when no ceramics classes were offered. The teacher would teach her normal beginner art class and I was left alone to play in the ceramics room. It worked very well for me, and you’d be amazed at the number of ceramic thrown bowls I had to give as gifts to friends and family for no reason what so ever.

It was during my senior year that my interest in school began to wane. I did well in school when I would go. It’s just that I wasn’t terribly interested in going, at least going before noon. Staying up late was a bit of a family tradition in my house. Going to bed before midnight was what we called ‘going to bed early.’ Seriously, the lights in our house were almost always on until two a.m. or later, and the last ones to usually go to be… my parents, especially my mom. The woman had more projects than New York, and was always up late trying to get one completed before the new day.

I don’t remember the reason for why I stayed up all night the first night. It might have been for a reason as brilliant as, “Because I could.” Believe me, when you’re 17/18 years old, reasons like that were usually as brilliant as you got. The following day I was amazed at how good and alert I felt. So that evening after dinner was consumed, friends had gone home, and I had made my ‘Sev Run’ (this is what we called going to 7-Eleven) to get 32 ounces of neon colored bubbly sugar water we lovingly called “Dew,” I committed myself to my room for the rest of the evening, knowing that I would be getting tired at some point due to my lack of sleep.

After writing two love poems about girls that would never know how I felt (ah to be a young and suffering artist), I let my imagination dive into a novel a friend gave me to read. When I reached what I considered to be a good stopping point, it was about five in the morning. I only had two hours before I would need to get up and get ready for school. That is when a line from the cinematic genius is ‘Strange Brew’ came to mind. There is a scene where two brothers get a job at a brewery. Once home they decide to celebrate by drinking all of the free beer they had gotten from their new job. As they are carrying cases of beer into the house, one of them says, “… let’s not blow it by being late for our first day on the job…” to which the other brother replies, “Well, why don’t we just stay up all night?”

Why not indeed? Even thought it didn’t work in the movie I was sure I could pull it off. Besides, there was only a little bit of night left, and I saw no point in going to bed. I was even early for school that day, which rarely ever happened to me that year.

Day two of no sleep left me a little more aware that I was missing something that my body and mind were in full support of receiving. The prospect of enjoying some sleep that evening was the key ingredient in getting me through a few nodding off moments during my afternoon classes. Well that and the constant flow of Mountain Dew both in and out of my body, which helped keep me alert and on my toes… mainly because of all the visits I had to make to the rest room.

Sleep would have been eminent had it not been for the gathering of friends that happened right after school. None of us had any homework, which was rare, so we hung out, watched movies, and eventually toilet papered our arch nemesis’s house. Yes we broke all conventional rules for toilet papering a home and did it during a week night. It was a cop’s house, the one that was always giving us a hard time. He would always go home while he was on duty and leave his police car running in his driveway. I think it was so the gas would be used up so on record it appeared he was out patrolling all night. Toilet papering his house was just the kind of spontaneous thing that motivated me to forget all about being tired and filled me with the required amount of adrenaline I needed to make it through another sleepless night. Well that and getting chased around down by the cop after he left his house. Stealthily sneaking back to my house did take a little more time than expected, but was well worth it.

So when four a.m. arrived, about the same time I was getting home, I dipped my cup of reasoning into the endless pool or teenage wit and wisdom, which all teenagers drink from during their time as a teen, and exclaimed, “I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead!” I mean sure it might have sounded cool, and rebellious, and edgy at the time, but it really was quite an erroneous statement. Unfortunately, it was lost on me at the time, so I proceeded to stay up for a third day in a row… more than anything though, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Turns out, I could. What? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was on day three, during my 5th period art class that my REMly challenged mind had had enough and was going to make it quite clear to me that it wanted a break. I was working on a three foot by two foot pencil drawing of a woman in a dress. Her hair was hanging down in front of her face, which was perfect for me because I was still having trouble drawing faces proportionally. The drawing had no face to speak of, just lots and lots of hair. I remember one of her arms was hanging to her side, but it was a sort of side profile drawing so the arm was placed right in front of the dress. It was as I was shading the dress around the arm that it happened.

The entire picture became three dimensional and popped off of the paper. At first I was quite please because this allowed me to grab the lady’s arm and move it out of the way so I could get the shading on the dress right where her arm was hanging. The problem that arose was her arm kept slipping out of my hand and falling back to its original position, and ultimately getting in the way of the shading I was doing. After five minutes of this, with me getting more and more frustrated by the arms interference, one of my class mates broke the silence by asking me, “Are you ok?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He told me that I kept putting my hand on top of the drawing and then would move my hand off of it like I was holding something and putting it down next to the paper. After shading for a few seconds I’d do it all over again. Also, apparently there were a few times that I hunched over the drawing and started scratching at the arm with one hand while I was shading right next to the area I was scratching at. My experience was that I was using my finger to tap her arm to the side while I shaded.

As the realization of what just happened hit me. I said I was fine and as I looked back at my drawing I saw the arm falling back into the paper as a flat two dimensional image. I only had two periods left before the day was over and I could go home, but damn if those two forty-five minute classes didn’t have a two to one special going on that day. For ever one minute that passed, I got a second minute for free. It was an epic hour and a half.

When I finally got home, I went straight to my room, taped a “Sleeping” sign on my door, and climbed into bed. I have no recollection of my head ever hitting the pillow. However, when I woke up fifteen hours later to get ready for school, it was clear by my reflection in the mirror that not only had my head hit the pillow, but that one side of my head had battled against it to gain control of my hair for the night. The pillow had won and the left side of my head had my hair sticking out in every direction but down. I am happy to say that after a shower and a hefty heaping handful of hair gel, my puffed pillowy hairdo deflated. Plus, I was no longer sleep deprived. Otherwise, I probably would have just said, “screw it” and gone to school looking like I was trying to win a Robert Smith lookalike contest where I was the only contestant (again… my junior year was an unfortunate time during my high school years… damn you Robert Smith… damn you The Cure.)

So any sleep deprived stories about your school years you’d care to share?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: art class, writing poetry, drinking mountain dew, toilet papering house, sleep deprived, drawing, and sleeping sign.

Happy Almost Independence Day

Happy Almost Independence Day

It is Saturday the 3rd of July*, which in Utah can only mean one thing… fireworks! Yes in the state of Utah any holiday that falls on a Sunday, save Christmas, is celebrated by the state on the Saturday before. It’s kind of a catch twenty-two though. (I would have included Easter in that, but Easter is a Sunday holiday so it’s not like it’s going to get celebrated in a different day for some reason.)

At one end of the spectrum it’s the power of the people controlling and choosing when to celebrate… at least it would be if there was a vote. I know it’s what the majority would vote for, which might be the rational for there not being a vote. At least I really don’t remember a vote, and democracy though assumption is not a government that I’m terribly supportive of. Hence part two of the equation, the perpetual and relentless lack of the concept, separation of church and state. I’m not saying that it’s like Vatican city… ok so maybe I’m saying it’s a little like that. There is a very strong church based control of the laws that get passed in this state.

It is getting better though, we even get the occasional alternate lifestyle supporter, and once we even had an a politician in office in Salt Lake City itself who was openly active in that alternative lifestyle. You’d never see it happen in the rural towns, still Utah is not a completely dark age state. Oddly though, the liquor stores are all run by the state. So all of these hard core religious politicians want to make sure they have control of the alcohol in this state, even though they are against the consumption of alcohol. I have heard, which may or may not be true, that it is the taxes on alcohol that helps pay for the schools, which to me means that if you want smarter children in the state if Utah, you really need to drink more. In fact I think for the rest of the wine parties we have each month I am going to start them off with a toast to the education of Utah’s children. It will be in good spirits and everyone will be drinking with intent and purpose.

I don’t believe there are any dry counties in Utah, so I don’t feel we are quite that archaic. I guess when it comes to Utah all I can do is quote the immortal words of one Bob Wiley from ‘What about Bob?’ fame and say, “Baby steps…” We’ll get there eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually. Until then I’ll keep celebrating Independence Day on the 3rd instead of the 4th during those years that the 4th falls on a Sunday. Likewise, I’ll continuing ignoring all state hosted New Years Eve celebrations that take place on the 30th of January instead of the 31st because the 31st falls on a Sunday… because that is just plain stupid and in my book utter sacrilege.

One of the things I learned today while out and about, going to a late movie during the same time that the official city run firework shows are going off is the perfect time to catch a movie. You can arrive five minutes after the movie has started and still get your choice of almost any seat in the house. We even caught a few colorful fireballs filling the evening sky on the drive home as well. It was like our own little double feature.

One thing about July in Utah is it is unofficially the official firework month. They legalize fireworks for the month of July for two different patriotic celebrations. The first is the 4th, which is the birthday party for the US. The second is the 24th, which is the day Utah officially become a state, hence the birthday of Utah. On both days there are firework celebrations and the state feels compelled to let the people of Utah light off fireworks during these three weeks without any legal repercussion… as long as you don’t set anything or anyone on fire that is. Granted these are only the state sanctioned and legal fireworks that are allowed, which are sold at the various firework booths that start popping up in grocery story parking lots throughout the month of July. For the more adventurous folks, they will drive about an hour out of their way to cross the state border over in to Wyoming were they can purchase illegal fireworks and bring them home… and quite probably

I have mixed feelings about fireworks, mainly because it’s a very literal variation of the old adage “burning your money”, which I’d like to think I’m against. Lighting off fireworks is more like lighting a hundred dollar bill on fire and watching it burn over an hour long interval, but this really only happens once or twice a year. Still, fireworks seem like a bad investment that I’m just not that interested in making.

Besides, I know that a portion of my state taxes are always going to help fund the state hosted firework shows each year, which does make me a little grumpy if I stop to think about it. Let say that the average firework show costs a hundred-thousand dollars (which is a made-up figure that I have no way of knowing is even remotely accurate). Ironically enough, well, hypocritically enough anyway, I always find it comical that it is illegal for any civilian to own or shoot off any illegal fireworks, which are the big ones that shoot into the air and make big colorful explosions in the sky. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable for the city council to bring in and light off thousands of these illegal fireworks each year. I guess that’s politics for you. The main thing I get grumbley about is that we could use that money to help people in the state that are living below the poverty line, that are homeless and hungry. Instead, we light all that money on fire so people can “Ooooh” and “Ahhhh” for about an hour.

Still, the little person inside me still remembers all of the fun I had based on bad decisions in the name of a good time. Things like holding firecrackers with my hands and throwing them into the air before the fuse ran out and they would explode. My favorite was the Roman candle wars we would have. Roman candles were twelve to fourteen inch long fireworks, about a half inch in diameter. One end had a stake that you would stick into the ground and then you’d light the fuse at the other end and ten to twelve little fireballs would shoot out of the end, burning a different color. They didn’t last that long and would burn out before it hit the ground, still you got ten of those in a row. My brothers and I would actually hold those things in our hands and then run around the back yard trying to hit each other with these baby fireballs. My dad just laughed at us and stayed close to the hose.

There is something hypnotic and inspiring about fireworks. I see it in the eyes of my niece and nephew when they watch them go off and fill the night’s sky with fiery colors. It’s kind of like watching them dream while they are awake. And there is my firework conundrum… inspiring and invoking imagination in the youth, and a huge waste of funds that could help those in need. Hopefully someday the state will find a happy medium. Until then I’ll try to keep this conundrum to myself and try to spend time with the niece and nephew when the fireworks go off and continue to donate to the food bank when I can. I guess that’s my happy medium for the time being. I hope everyone enjoyed, their 4th festivities, even if they happened to happen on the 3rd.

What are your thoughts on firework shows?

Image Source:
Google Images, key words: Utah fireworks, what about Bob, firework tent, watching fireworks, kids watching fireworks.

*I realize that I officially posted this on the 4th, but it was written on the 3rd. Sometimes things take a bit longer to post than I initially expected. Personally I blame hay fever and allergies, but the allergy medicine did play its role as well.