Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dream Land Part 6

Chapter 5

“There you are. You really do have some screwy dreams! Let’s get going.” The crocodile has a way of talking that was fast and to the point. Usually the point made sense only to him but he definitely had a point. I got off the camel I was sitting on and followed the crocodile. Even as I was doing it I realized how silly it would sound when I wrote about it later.

He had become my guide ever since he bit off my hand and I would almost say we were friends. The thing is that even dream crocodiles are not really suited for friendship. If he was feeling hungry you had to watch out. With that one exception, I realized that I enjoyed his company. He always led the way through my dreams. Searching for Sarah was always on the agenda but I am not sure that the crocodile saw it as a priority. We spent a lot of our time pausing while he ate something that passed by. Usually it was something slightly annoying that he would gobble down. One time a rabbit with a whistle was following us blowing away on the whistle; I kicked it and then he ate it. When I woke up my alarm clock was smashed and I was three hours late to work. I am happy to say that has only happened once.

As I left the camel behind and followed him, I thought I saw something familiar enter my peripheral vision. It was a face amidst a rainforest landscape but when I turned to get a better look, it disappeared. I stood there for a while staring out into the forest. When I turned around the crocodile was eating a monkey that looked suspiciously like the animated Curious George monkey. I blinked my eyes and the crocodile was gone. To be truthful so was everything else…. I was in that same white space I had lost Sarah in. The couch faded in through the white. Perhaps extruded would be a better term as it seemed to plop through like a Twinkie from the Twinkie extruding machine. Sitting there on the couch, delicately perched on the seat cushion, was a letter. I stared at it but did not move towards it. I was not really sure that I wanted to open it, but even from across the room I saw it was addressed to me. Instead of walking towards it, I sat down on the ground and waited. I needed time.

“Well aren’t you going to open it?” I turned toward the voice and saw the crocodile. I was a little puzzled as to when he had come into the white space but I let that thought trail away. He was eating again. This time he had a napkin tied around his neck and he had a bucket of fried chicken in his lap. I shrugged at him in response. “So what is your whiny reason this time?”

“This time?” I asked, confused by the addition of these words. Had we done this before?

“Yeah.... This time! When I first met you there was a letter. You refused to acknowledge it even after I put it in your hand. You kept talking to me about my eating habits I was feeling a little frustrated so I bit off your hand; the one holding the letter. Then all you could do was whine about your missing hand.” He shook half of the bucket of chicken into his mouth.

I turned to look at the envelope again but it wasn’t there. “Hey… uh… where…”

“I put it in your hand again.” The crocodile interrupted, predicting my question. I looked down at my hand and saw he was right. I looked at the lettering of my name on the envelope; it was not Sarah’s writing. I was not sure how I knew this but I did. I slid a finger along the lip and opened the envelope. The letter itself was a light blue shade with a hand written script in darker blue. I had a hard time deciphering the signature at the bottom and decided I had to read the letter to have a chance of figuring out who sent it.

I am not sure what is happening between you and Sarah. She has not been herself these last few weeks. Has it really been weeks?
Where are you? I can never find you to talk and we need to. I have never been given a name verbally in your dreams but I do have one. My name is (the name is smeared as if he decided not to reveal it). You will know me as Sarah’s friend and your best friend in this dream realm. I have been a director, a tour guide, a pick axe wielding dwarf and scores of other people. I am always there and I usually help you get together with Sarah. I am always the first to find you which is why it is so weird that I can’t find you now.
I think we may be in trouble here. Your dream world has been chaotic since you and Sarah had that talk. It is not safe for me to spend much time there. Something keeps interfering with any attempt of contact I have made. The one exception was the last letter but I know you never read it. I am headed to find someone who might be able to help me find you and fix this strange degradation of your dreams. If you see a letter in the future make sure you notice it sooner.
Your friend,
(The scribble is undecipherable)

I reread the letter twice. I can’t remember his name or read through the blurred writing. Meaning that I still have no idea what name I should have in my head to search with. A lot of searching in dreams is done through names. Faces, bodies and species are subject to change. The name doesn’t, it sticks with the wearer of the name. I star to think about reasons why he might be looking for me and wonder about what he meant when he said the dream world was no longer safe. A distressing idea occurs to me idea, that someone has changed the rules of my dreams on me. I turn to ask the crocodile for his advice but my alarm goes off instead.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Dream Life part 5 (The crocodile guide)

Chapter 4
My dreams have been mundane and ordinarily random the last few weeks. In the most recent one a cigar toting alligator paused in front of me to ask for a light and before I know it he and I are wandering through convoluted adventures. I didn’t catch a trace of Sarah anywhere we went. She is no longer there to be found.
My real life has been chugging along just fine. Jen and I are still together and she has even introduced me to her friends. Something I wish hadn’t happened because in truth her friends are terrible. Which is not something you can say to the girl you are dating; even if it is the truth. I guess I should give an example. The first time I met her best friend Ally and her boyfriend Ben we went out for dinner. It was a place that I have always loved and the little Asian family that owns it are proud of the establishment. The food is good and they are always happy to see me. Everyone who has ever been there with me has thought it was a great place. It is small and not fancy but between the pride of the owners and the quality of the food it is a pleasant eating experience. Except for that night; all her friends could do was ridicule and complain about everything. At one point Ally thought it would be fun to mimic the accent. I have never considered myself P.C. but I was mortified and wanted to stop her in the eye with a chopstick. I was absolutely offended by their behavior and felt the need to apologize profusely for a week afterwards. Which meant that I went to their restaurant for lunch and ate for 7 days; between bites of food I apologized. It was the most pleasant apology experience I have ever had. They were still happy to see me every time but I think in all honesty they were happy I came alone.
Jen apologized to me and claimed it was the pre-dinner drinks that had caused the behavior I had been scandalized by. I decided to take her word for it because Jen seems relatively sane. After last night’s bowling event I am having my doubts about her ability to judge a person’s character. There were a group of ten of us; evenly divided between her friends and mine. It started out a little awkwardly but a few pitchers later everything seems amicable. Until I noticed that they had failed to chip in on any of the pitchers but were drinking most of the beer. I am all for buying pitchers and allowing people to drink with me and even get the extras beer or two on me but I need them to pitch in as well. It is an unwritten rule of hanging out as a group; everyone takes a turn buying a pitcher. My side of the bowling group had all bought a pitcher at some point and we suddenly had run dry. So I asked “Whose turn is it to get a pitcher?” The only response was silence and I felt like I needed to say something. My sarcastic friend Mike, knowing I was already on edge about Jen’s friends, decided to just buy the next pitcher and stop me from saying anything. Which, in reality, has only delayed the inevitable. I could feel my irritation building and knew I needed to call it a night and as the beer was passed around I declined.
I kissed Jen on the cheek at the last frame, made some excuse about a meeting early in the morning and took off; followed closely by my friends. We ended up back at my place and everyone discussed what had happened. Nobody had left with a very good impression of her friends and only I was the one irritated by the pitcher situation. Mike’s wife had not been comfortable with how Ally had spoken to the kid working behind the bowling counter. Mike had not liked little side comments said into his back as he went up to bowl. Steve had been irritated by the general conduct of her friends and his wife Susan could only say “I didn’t like them but not for any concrete reason.” Susan likes everybody and her admitting she did not like someone is kind of unheard of. If she were ever carjacked she would still not be able say that the guy was a jackass. Something was wrong with Jen’s friends and I was less sure of who Jen was.
When I had calmed down and everyone had left I tried to sleep. I wanted to find Sarah and talk to her. I wanted her to be there by my side in the dream. She always had good insights and could get at what the real problem was that I was facing. She would listen and when I was done she would point out things I had not paid attention to that were important clues. Then she would ask me questions that got to the heart of the matter and helped me figure out what to do. Of course I wanted her by my side for more than just her insight. It occurred to me as I lay there that asking Sarah about Jen’s friends did not seem right somehow. Then I just started thinking about her. I wondered if she still wore her engagement ring. I wondered if she ever smiled when she thought of me. I also wondered if she had manifested in someone else’s dreams.
That was when the dream started; the one with the crocodile. He told me to stop looking and to work on getting my head in order. He said “No one wants someone who is afraid to go after what he wants. You should have stopped her before she left. If you really loved her you would have.” His advice continued as I followed him through confusing dreamscapes. He told me that what is going to happen will and my job was to be ready. Then he bit off my hand. For some odd reason I still followed him around like we were friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Dream Life part 4 (It falls apart)

Chapter 3
“Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?”
She doesn’t answer at first. “No, not really.”
I look at her back as she has not yet turned to face me. It isn’t hard to guess that she is upset and that her anger is directed at me. “Sarah…. Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you for days.”
“I know….” She offers nothing more than that and I decide not to push.
“What should we do Sarah? We have a whole night ahead of us!” I try to sound excited. I try to hold back my fears but it sounds hollow. I feel like the minute she starts talking it will all be over. I am not sure what to do to prevent it. At the same time I am not sure I should prevent it. Loving a girl in a dream is not something you can explain to people; but she is not someone I want to give up.
“Can we just sit here? Do we have to enter some crazy adventure? Can’t we just sit together on the couch?” As she says it a comfortable looking couch appears behind me. I sit down as a silent answer to her question and she follows suit; somehow avoiding meeting my eyes. She tucks under my arm and we sit on a couch in a blank white space.
It is a long time before she speaks. I felt like I was almost asleep when she did. Which is a weird feeling… to be on the edge of sleep when you are dreaming. When she spoke it was quietly but in this empty world with only her and me, on a couch, it sounds like an explosion. “I love you.” Then she kisses me and I shut my eyes. When I open them again she is gone and the vast empty white is bleeding away. Sounds start intruding on me and the couch and I am back in my normal dream world; the one of chaos and non sequiturs. I put my head in my hands and feel the pain of her loss. It feels like a hole has been ripped from me and I wake up screaming.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Dream Life Part 3

Chapter 2
I knock on her door and I hear a mumbled answer from behind the door. I interpret it as “Be right there.” When she opens the door she is wearing a little robe and holding her toothbrush and suddenly the mumbling is understandable. She smiles at me and her eyes fall to the flowers I am holding and she kisses me. She tastes minty.
I follow her in to the apartment and she takes the flowers and hands me the TV remote. Then she rushes off to continue getting ready and to find a vase for the flowers. I sit down on her slightly uncomfortable futon couch and flip through the channels. I pause on the sports channel but they are talking about hockey and I realize I don’t care. I flip it to the cartoon network and settle in to watch Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. I think about finding something else because I am afraid this might turn me into a huge dork in her eyes but I did just arrive with flowers. With that thought I place the remote on the table in front of me. I end up watching a show and a half before she is ready to go. Before we can go she has to ask the inexplicable girl question, “How do I look?”
I pause and smile at her, “You look stunning Jen.” Was there ever a different answer to this question? Let’s be honest here, even if she looked like she was joining the circus my answer would be the same. It is nice to actually mean it but the correct answer is always positive and immediate. After I have answered I finally do take in what she is wearing; a black dress that makes me think some very distracting thoughts. She does look fantastic and I begin to wonder how I ever got the first date with her; let alone the third. I open the door for her and then follow her to the stairs.
Dinner is an experience and it puts a decent dent in my finances. I am glad the food was good because I have been places and spent more and had less palatable cuisine. Jen is all smiles as we head out the door. “Can we go see a movie?” she asks. I look across the street at the multiplex and see nothing of interest on the marquee. “Only if you pick it.”
We end up seeing some poorly written love story but she loves it. It is what is known as a chick flick. I think about the other choices that were available and I realize I am glad she chose this one. At least it did not have Meryl Streep, Jodi Foster or Renee Zellweger in it. I imagine the male star of the film getting hit by a car as he runs across the street to stop her from leaving him and I am able to make it through to the end. Of course my thoughts aren’t on Jen, the date or the absurd plot of the movie; they are on Sarah. My dreams were empty last night and I don’t remember anything about them except for the fact she was not in them. It is the first time in months I completely missed her. I am not sure what it means and I have been feeling uneasy all day. It occurs to me that my worry for a dream girl might be ridiculous and maybe her not appearing is a good thing. Of course I don’t believe that. I have thought at times that I was going insane and not dreaming of her might show that I am reconnecting with reality. Of course reality is over rated.
If this was a movie, her absence would probably lead me into a world of intrigue. I would find out she is a real person and that she is in trouble. Perhaps she and the others were all in a coma and an experimental drug connected their dreams to mine but the doctors cut it off and they are dying. Or maybe the girl is from another world and she is an alien in need of my help. Or maybe this is a surreal story and she is actually an old childhood friend who died and always loved me. Of course I am not in a movie or a beautifully crafted story so all these ideas seem stupid and impossible. It is more likely that I am insane.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

My Dream Life - part 2 (the real world)

Chapter 1 - The Real World

I am not entirely sure when my dreams started to have a string of recurring people with ongoing roles. I am not even sure when my dreamland became more real than reality but it happened. The truth is I am in love with that girl. Every night I run into her somewhere in my dreams and if I am really lucky it is long before I wake up. It is always like the dream I have relayed to you; infuriating, changing, vivid, lovely, happy and perfect. I am not always a movie star…. Or was I a television star? And she doesn't always look the same but the minute I find her (often with the guy who played the director last night as a guide) I know it's her. Sometimes her face will change, much like her outfit did in this dream, but I always know it's her once I've found her. Some of the more irritating nights of dreaming are spent being confused and searching for her but not remembering that it is her I am searching for. I wander, looking the entire dream time and finally find her just to wake up. She always knows before I do that I am about to wake up. It is the reason everyone was so irritated with me last night. I had forgotten them in my dreaming again and had not made it until it was too late. As I woke her kiss remained etched in my brain as did her tears. I would need to find her quicker tonight. She deserved that much.

In this place, the "real" world, I work in insurance services. It is not my ideal work environment but I pay the bills, put fuel in my car, shop for groceries and have enough left over to manage a few fun things every week. My savings account is not filled to the brim but there is something in there. I have plans to go out with friends tonight for a little drunken karaoke and I have a third date set up for tomorrow with a girl I met at a friend’s house party. My life is not closeted and I am no your normal delusional maniac. I don’t lack friends or dates. I exist in the real world and I try to maintain and keep a life in this world. Truth be told, I am just as confused as you are about my other life but I have been seeing the same dream girl for two years. It seemed to be time to propose to her and we have been engaged for the last two months.

I used to wish that my dreams were the reality and this place was the dream. I know it isn't though. This world is too horribly consistent to ever be a dream. Every time I wake up I instantly know where I am, who I am, what bills are due and what I need to do that day. That never happens in a dream. Usually in a dream I spend most of it trying to remember where I am and what I need to do. I will be lucky if I have the movie/tv star world pop back up. I hate waking up from that world no matter how random and changing it is but even when I have all day to sleep I can't always manage a dream with her in it. Even a long nap does not guarantee that I will see her; even if I fall into dreamland. So every day I get up and go about my other life. I work, play, date and eat but not necessarily in that order. Welcome to my life.

Most of my days are as boring as anyone else's days. On the weekends I have some fun with friends, go on dates, see the latest blockbuster movie and indulge in the act of sleeping in. My weeknight fun usually consists of watching my favorite television shows and maybe a bowl of ice cream. Basically in my day to day life you and I are similar. I am not marked as different from you in any way in the real world. In my dreams is where I differ. Even if you have recurring characters in your dreams they are probably some weird nightmare where it replays. My dreams have people who show up every night. They know who I am, love me for who I am, understand that they are parts of my dream, and remember not only what happened the night before but also have a knowledge of my waking moments. You can’t tell me that this happens to you… and if you do tell me that, we both know it is just because you like to argue.

This day is not much different than any other Friday. My calls are new people calling with vaguely the same problems. The insurance company is moving too slowly on their insurance claim, we raised their rates, they have a new driver or car to add, or they are being dropped because they can’t remember to pay the bill no matter how many notices we send them. I chatter between calls and on my breaks with coworkers but overall I am bored. The job is mindless and terrible. One thing this job has taught me is that no matter what your insurance company claims they are not on your side, they aren’t your family, they make terrible neighbors and they are in it for the money. That brings up a sore point for me because more than half of my day is filled up with you yelling at me about your own mistakes. Don’t fool yourself by the pleasant sounding chatter coming from my mouth. If you say the wrong thing about something we insure that ups your risk realize that I am being recorded and I do have to find out more and possibly raise your rates. We aren’t friends that can shoot the breeze about the tree about to crash through your house. So watch your mouth and don’t give more details then I ask for. I am not saying that you should lie to your insurance company; you most definitely should answer all questions truthfully. Lying could end up getting you into some serious legal trouble. What I am saying is don’t start giving out extra information. If you are super proud of the latest giant lift you put on your truck share it with your friend not your insurance company representative. If I didn’t bring it up keep it to yourself. Anyway the day was filled with the usual crap and the only bright spot was knowing that at 5 PM my friends and I were headed to happy hour. I could almost taste it.


“So tell us about this chick you’re dating, Shawn. Is she hot?” Mike asked with his usual bluntness.

“You mean Sarah? Except for her hunchback, horrible teeth, insatiable appetite for human flesh, and terrible smell of decay; I would have to say yes.” I responded. And the guys laughed as the waitress set our beers down in front of us.

“You gonna bring her out to the lake with you next weekend?” Mike asked.

“It depends on if she can find a swimming suit that will accentuate her hump back or not.” I replied with a smirk. “I am planning too and so far she is planning on coming along. Are you bringing your wife or did you figure that it might be a good idea to ditch her again?”

“Hey! She told me I could go without her when she sprained her ankle. How was I supposed to know that actually meant that I couldn’t go without her unless I planned on committing hari-kiri when I got back.” He said with a slightly innocent but somehow evil look in his eye.

We all laughed and reached for our beers.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Rambling Review of The Unborn

I don't know what it is with the last 3 horror movies I have rented but Wow! They sure do suck. The 3 movies in question: Quarantine (I was laughing during this movie, another hand held taped report from people who don't make it out alive), The Uninvited (I say this movie sucked because I was wanting scary and it wasn't although it was sorta interesting), and The Unborn. I just watched The Unborn and I had to share how bad it was. So here is my review of The Unborn.

The above picture is probably the most engaging scene in the movie. The heroine in underwear.... what bliss! The thing is the movie is so bad it doesn't help. If you are looking for scary then you should look elsewhere. Let me break it down for you the above pictured underwear clad girl is named Casey; which only took the entire movie for me to find out. I am sure they said it before the end but I only hear her name with enough repetition to stick at the end. Even video calls to her friend lacks anyone calling her by her name.

We start the movie off watching Casey jog. She pauses to catch her breath and notices a glove on the ground. Then she sees a boy standing there. The boy has a white face and blue eyes that look like really bad colored contacts a weirdo goth kid might wear to make you think they were weird. Of course they are a goth kid so you know they aren't weird, merely pathetic. Anyway this little kid turns into a growling dog wearing a mask that looks like the creepy little boy. For whatever reason when it runs away she follows it. We soon discover this was a dream she is telling a friend about who is telling her what the dream means. Casey also happens to be babysitting a little boy and his baby brother. Of course she hears steps and whispering on the baby monitor so she goes to investigate and the little boy is showing the baby a mirror. She decides to stop him and he crushes it into her head and says "Jumby wants to be born now." In case you were wondering, this little boy is weirder and creepier looking then the creepy white faced and bad contact wearing boy. The next day she is discussing it with her friend from the phone call, her boyfriend and some random girl who never shows up again. The friend talks about a superstition that babies shouldn't see their reflection for a year after birth to keep them safe. I zoned out at this point.

Then the underwear scene happened. I zoned out after that and next thing I notice she has sex with her boyfriend. Which brings up an interesting theme in modern horror flicks. Apparently sex allows evil things to happen. I am not sure who is more against sex: religious organizations or horror movie directors. One of the first movies to make this point was Halloween. In that movie all the teens die except Jamie Lee Curtis and she is the only virgin. In fact, all the others die right after sex or during the act. So if you ever suspect you are stuck in a horror film please refrain from having sex. It could save your life.

Anyway the minute after she knocks boots the little colored contact wearing pasty kid starts upping the ante a bit. He shows up all over, sends icky insects at her and appears in mirrors. Then Casey's eye starts turning blue and we find out this is caused.... somehow.... by a twins random strand of DNA. She finds out she was a twin but that her bro died in the womb. Shortly after this.... YAWN!!! Sorry. Anyway somehow we find out, in the middle of the movie, that her mother was adopted and killed herself. Before she died she found her own biological mother. So Casey goes and has a chat with her. We find out that the little ugly kid with the bad contacts was her twin brother back when they were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Apparently experiments.... brother dies.... body is possessed.... she knows... kills possessed bro... pasty, contact wearing kid is a little perturbed to be dead. Anyway the thing that possessed the brother is some old Jewish demon thing called a dybbuk. It likes twins because they are easier to take over, I guess. Casey decides she needs an exorcism... The dybbuk kills her grandma, inhabits the little boy she babysat, kills and inhabits her friend but she is the one who needs an exorcism. Aren't exorcism more affective if you go after the person actually possessed? But.... what do I know?

Anyway they have an exorcism; and her boyfriend and 8 other people helping out are killed. She and the only other surviving person, a rabbi played by Gary Oldman, think they got rid of it. Five seconds later we find out she is pregnant with twins and the movie is over.

So here are a few stupid highlights:

"Jumby" - Her dad tells her, when he finally admits she was a twin before birth, that the nickname given to the brother was jumby. Uh... what kind of stupid nickname is that? I think "jumby" has the right to start offing people. Why he didn't start with pops (who never reappears after he admits his daughter was supposed to be a twin) is beyond me.

the exorcism - I am still confused by the fact that she thought she should get an exorcism even though the other people were the ones being possessed. That is like calling a plumber to your house because your neighbor has a clogged toilet. She was never possessed.... Apparently one of her babies is though.

"The world is not safe" - Her boyfriend and her watch the possessed little boy (babysat kid), kill her friend and her friend becomes randomly possessed. Of course, as soon as that happens they cut away to an ambulance checking the still creepy but no longer possessed murderer... I mean kid. There is no sign of the friend nor is she really brought up again. Anyway she and her boyfriend are suddenly in a diner talking about it. He is rambling about the world no longer being safe and she is rambling about the world never actually was safe and people just pretend it is. This stupid conversation is fresh in our minds when the exorcism starts going wrong. The boyfriend frees her from her restraints during the exorcism that "shouldn't be stopped once it's begun". They run away while the other people are being killed by the evil spirit that has still never inhabited or posessed Casey. So if a hot Megan Fox looking girl named Casey wants you to help her be exorcised just say "NO!", because she will end up running away in the middle of it and you will be killed. Even worse is the fact that she was never even posessed. Getting back to the movie, boyfriend and Casey are hiding and maybe like five seconds of silence go by and she says "I think it's gone." Somehow she has transitioned from scared of everything to thinking everything is peachy keen. Of course immediately after that the boyfriend gets attacked and possessed and yada yada yada. Out of nowhere, the rabbi starts chanting the exorcism thing again and somehow "saves the day". So what happened between "the world is not safe" to "I think it's gone"? What made her think they were safe? How did she change her mind so quickly? I'll tell you how; bad writing.

Two African-American characters - I am sure you have all heard the African-American comedians talk about black people in horror movies. They joke about how they always are the first to die in these movies. In this movie they don't die first but neither makes it out alive. Her friend, who happens to be African-American, is the second character to die. Then there is a priest who dies within 5 minutes of being introduced. He dies at the exorcism and is possessed. He is the one who attacks the boyfriend. Anyway, it is amazing that the white rabbi lives and the African-American priest dies. The funny thing is the priest knows more about exorcisms then the Rabbi so it seems he should have been the one left standing. Once again we have a movie with only two African-American characters in it and both die. Awesome. Way to keep a stereotype alive.

Bottom line: This movie isn't even worth seeing to make fun of. It was pretty boring and the action scenes were boring.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Dream Life

This is a new story idea I am trying out. The idea is born from a dream I had while napping. Unfortunately for me the dream ended as I started to have it make sense but fortunately for me my sleep addled brain latched on to the idea and pushed me to write out a story idea. This is the beginning.... the rehash of the dream I was having basically but with a little creative license. It will be the set up for a few short stories to come. I am working on the next one right now. Let me know what you think of it.

I am not exactly sure how long I have been in show business but it somehow feels like the last 2 minutes and an eternity all at once. The only thing I am sure of is that I feel good about my career as I finish filming the last scene of the day. I am a big star, a rising talent and there is something else…… What is it? Damn, that thought was just there but a lot of things change and shift every time I am here. Lately I have noticed that I am struggling to adjust but I am not sure what exactly I am adjusting from. I can’t even tell you where my trailer is or what kind of a scene I just shot. I am sure it will all work out well in the end.

As I walk away from the set, and through the hundreds of star struck extras, I notice her further up ahead. She is wearing an outfit that looks like a track suit and has USA embroidered across the back. I know her but I am not clear as to the why or the how. Every part of me wants to go to her but I turn down a different path. I am headed to the location where a television show is being filmed, a show I guest star in occasionally. The place where my fiancĂ© works and I feel almost giddy. I can see the cast, dressed in the same track suits with USA embroidered on the back, and they are outside a collegiate administrative building in this scene. I know this set pretty well and I wave to them but none of them return the wave. The wave might be what causes the director to turn around with such clear exasperation. He is usually happier to see me. I wave again, hoping to get one friendly face to acknowledge me but they look down or away instead. The director’s eyes have not wavered from my face and irritation is etched there. I feel bad about that because we are usually on good terms. One might even say we are friends. I continue walking towards him, a question on my lips.

“She’s not here.” He says in lieu of a greeting; somehow answering my unasked question. My smile falters for a minute. “She’s behind you. She was over near your set trying to recruit some extras for this scene to come over and help as soon as you guys wrapped.” He hesitates again and he looks genuinely sad. “Look, I don’t have enough time to write you into this script so come back earlier next time. Now go to her.”

I turn away from him, confused again, and see her immediately. The girl I saw as I walked away from my set, of course. I knew it was her somehow but at the same time, I hadn’t. She is wearing the same track suit the rest of the cast is wearing. It couldn’t be more obvious. I feel a little silly and stupid but suddenly she is there, in front of me. I take her image in. The beautiful girl, she is my greatest and truest love. Her brown hair cascades down, framing her face. I look into her brown eyes and see a happy sadness there. I smile at her and reach for her as something flashes.

I notice her pigtails are cute, as is her 1950’s puppy dress, but I can’t quite shake the feeling something just changed. Something is different but her hand is in mine and the concern over the missing piece is shoved from m mind. I kiss her and tell her how much I missed her. It’s all true but I can tell that she is holding back. I keep kissing her and she looks at me with a mixture of love, irritation and resignation. A tear wells in her eye and I ask her what is making her cry.

“You came too late.” Her smile fades and the tear begins to fall as slowly everything goes white around us. I can hear the director say goodbye and the crew echo those words. The last thing I see is her tear stained face as I kiss her lips and the last thing I hear is: “You’re waking up now…”

Then I wake up in my room with a blaring alarm clock and I am once again alone.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A day of decadence

I finally got the financial aid check today. To celebrate, and relieve a little stress, I spent some money today. I did not spend a lot but I did spend more then I have spent in the last 3 weeks. It felt great. As a result of the spending I have a few things to review. Let's start with the latest culinary creation from McDonald's!

I had been seeing emails and web ads about McDonald's new Angus Third Pounders for a few weeks now. I have to tell you that everytime I look at a picture of them I feel the urge to have a burger. The marketing is pretty appealing but would the taste equal the image? I went to McDonald's and ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger meal. I had visions of a tasty burger being complimented nicely by some wonderfully salty french fries. To my great disappointment the french fries were not fresh and the enjoyment was sapped from them. They were not exactly cold but they were close. Nothing disappoints like bad french fries. Not even knowing that they were boiled in beef fat before getting frozen, then shipped before being boiled again could cheer me up. Normally knowing how horrible these fries are for me really helps but the luke warmness stole that dream from me. I turned my attention to the burger and took a moment to take in the sight. An important factor of enjoyment is the look of the burger and I needed to take it in. The burger was a little off center as were the toppings. That was to be expected as I had watched the idiot behind the counter point out something to someone with the same hand that held my burger. Irritation caused by the memory of her waving my burger around flashed through my head as I looked at the off kilter burger but it was still an enticing sight. I picked the burger up and took a bite. I tasted nothing but bun. I was more then a little irritated at that moment but I readjusted my mind set and took another bite. I tasted the burger but nothing else. I was trying not to feel like the endeavor had been a waste of time. I took a sip of cola and picked the burger back up and hoped it had flavor this time. I had purchased a bacon cheese burger for a reason and that was the flavor. The third bite gave me what I was waiting for. A perfect mingling of cheese, burger, bacon, ketchup, mustard, and onion. I did not set the burger down this time and as soon as I had swallowed I took another bite. This bite had an overwhelming flavor of pickle. It was not the neon green slices I normally found in a fast food burger but more like a real pickle. It was interesting to taste that flavor but it was almost overwhelming. I looked at the burger while I chewes and I thought "there is something missing". I started looking at the picture on the ad they used for a tray liner. They had the three options lined up for me to gawk at and that was when I saw what was missing. The burger did not have lettuce or tomato. In fact, it is marketed without lettuce and tomato in the picture but sitting next to it is a cheeseburger with a beautiful tomato slice and lettuce leaf. I had somehow assumed it would have these and I was a little bummed to have them not be part of the party. As I sat there, wondering what McDonald's was thinking, I decided that I was going to review the burger. I set the burger down and looked at it for a moment. I examined the burger itself and saw that it looks like a pan fried burger and kind of like a boiled burger. If you cook a burger in the skillet the fat bubbles out and turns grey and stays connected. If you have never pan fried the burger you might not have seen that as the grease falls into the fire on a grill. I know that McDonald's doesn't have a grill; so I am not sure why I was surprised. Either way it was nicely browned and tasted pretty good so I picked it back up. I decided not to examine too much further and to just focus on the taste. After all I had spent 6.69 on the stupid meal (should have just bought the sandwich considering the terribleness of the fries) and I was pretty hungry. As I kept eating, the burger started tasting saltier and at a certain point it seemed all I could taste was salt, pickle and onion. The last straw was the last piece of bacon. I had not looked at the bacon before I dove in. I had stopped doing that years ago; for some odd reason they always undercook the bacon for my tastes but if I don't look I don't know and I can enjoy it. This piece of bacon just did not have the texture down and it stopped me from enjoying that bite. At that point I abandoned a quarter of the burger and 3/4of the fries. The fries were that bad. Overall my suggestion is that if you are at a McDonald's the new Angus burgers are worth trying. Perhaps your McDonald's won't be filled with incompetents (not likely but you can hope) and the burger will be evenly seasoned, the bacon will be crisp, and the french fries fresh. Perhaps if that had happened for me I would have been more excited about the experience. Either way the burger left me wanting and I will not go out of my way to get that burger again. If I have a craving for a good fast food burger I will find a Carl's Jr.

After I ate the burger I hopped on a train and went downtown to see the movie Moon. I had read a friend's review and decided I needed to see it and it was worth the trip. I am not going to review it for you as I think you should read the entry that inspired me: My recommendation is to not look at any other reviews besides his because he manages not to tell you what happens. Not knowing what happens was pretty fun when the stuff started happening.

I wasn't done with my decadence yet. I had an urge to see the movie Orphan. I have been thinking of seeing it for a while now and had even cashed in all my coins to make it happen but had not made it to the theater yet. You see I wanted to go to the theater that, oddly enough, is like a block East and two blocks North of the theater Moon was playing at. I wanted that theater because their non-matinee is 8.75 when all other theaters are 10.50. The matinee of Moon cost 8.25 while the matinee of Orphan was 7.75 (same theater company). So I had been waiting until I was at that theater at the right time. The last 3 times I was near the theater the movie had already started and their was over an hour to wait. I am not great at waiting and the lack of money in my pocket (those previous 3 times) helped me to know that there were not a lot of time killing options.

The tag line says "There's something wrong with Esther" and the minute you see her you know that. This girl is wearing clothes better suited for the rich snobby girl on the Little House on the Prairie tv series. She is definitely different; in a creepy way not a fun, let's play with the imaginary aliens kind of way. Never the less, a family that is not quite over their demons and their losses decide she is perfect. You see this family already has a son and a daughter but lost a baby during delivery. Their actual daughter is deaf and doesn't utter a peep in the movie so perhaps she is also mute. The son looks like he was made to sulk. The parents meet Esther during a visit to an orphanage and immediately like her. They take her home and welcome her there with open arms, but it seems nobosy else has met her until then. At first there seems to be a dynamic set up where everyone in the house but the older son loves this girl. Once again, I found myself wondering 'why?' because this girl gives off a mega-weird vibe. Esther immediately bonds with the little girl and they seem to be inseperable. Esther even learns sign language to communicate better with the little girl and I guess one might feel comforted by that. Of course not if you have seen the previews. It isn't long before Esther's evil side is revealed and she has shoved another girl off some playground equipment. To be perfectly honest I was totally happy when that happened because that particular girl had been quite repugnant. In fact it was that scene, the scene shown in the previews, that made me like Esther. Suddenly I was hoping that the review I had read, prior to seeing the film, that talked about the surprise ending was suggesing a surprise ending more along the lines of Uninvited. Of course to get that reference you would have to be one of the 12 people who has seen Uninvited. Either way Esther has just gotten started being evil. I did not completely anticipate the twist at the end... in fact I probably caught on like 5 seconds before the movie expected you to catch on. Then again maybe I caught on right where everyone else did. Of course I have decided it must have been the 5 seconds earlier then everyone else because it sounds better. You know somehow not super cocky but better... ;) I enjoyed this movie. It was not great or groundbreaking. If you are not a horror/suspense person then there is no need to rush out and see it but if you like these kind of flicks you should see it. Do yourself a favor don't read anything about the twist and see if you can beat my "5 seconds before the twist is revealed" record. As I said, during the movie I started liking her. Evilness and all. I almost wanted her to get away with it but that little deaf girl was adorable and I knew I had to root for her. There is no way a cute little deaf girl could live and Esther could live at the end of a movie like this. The movie is not without faults. The fiorst is that somehow Esther is not in trouble for pushing a girl off the jungle gym. The girl breaks her leg and tells people she was pushed by Esther but nothing happens. I am fairly certain that wouldn't happen. You can't be accused of pushing someone off the jungle gym and then just get out of it. Most of the plot relies on the disfunction of the family to allow for nobody to trust each other. If you think too much about that part this story gets a litle far fetched but don't think; just watch.

The nicest thing about seeing Orphan was the walk to the train. I decided to stop into Powell's on the way. I picked up a book and sat to read a little bit of it. I was not the only person reading over there and I was thinking I might stay. Suddenly a couple came in. I would say they were older then I am and probably older then my older siblings as well. The woman was talking really loudly and they sat right next to me. They both took out laptops and she kept yapping the entire time. I was annoyed by this because there is another side that has more tables and computers already set up. It seemed like they should have sat there as that seemed more of a place to do it at. I was feeling annoyed by her non-stop yappiness so I kept making eye contact with her, in an effort to shame her, but she kept talking. I have begun to wonder if people can be shamed anymore.... The worst part was her partner was not listening to her and she was not on a phone. This guy wasn't even humoring her with an occasional "mm-hmm" but she kept talking. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I got up and left. As I walked the remaining blocks to the train stop I envisioned having Esther around to kill her off. It was very satisyfying.

Anyway I am back on a budget tomorrow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Get off your high horse!

What is it, exactly, that makes people feel they need to give someone "a dose of reality"? How does this "reality" benefit the recipient? How does it benefit the "soothsayer"? Is your harsh slap of "reality" really preparing me for anything? Wait, let me boil this down to my "essential questions"?

1. Is your "dose of reality" needed?
2. Who made you the reality police, you classless hack?

If you feel like you walked in somewhere near the middle of this rant, you probably did. I should probably take a few steps back. As a lot of my readers know, I am in school to become a teacher. When I get done I will have earned a Masters in Education. I have confessed in recent weeks that I am done. That is, done with enjoying school or deluding myself into thinking I can learn something from it. That is the state of my mind as you read this post. You may want to use that knowledge as a filter.

Class started normally today. My team got together an hour and a half before class and brought our unit together. We were as ready to present as we ever are. We tend to go up there and wing it. Perhaps it isn't the best strategy but it is our favorite strategy for these monotonous and never ending presentations. I used to try to be funny and entertaining but lately I have changed my approach. My new approach is to give the bare minimum as quickly as I can. The humor and entertaining kept biting me in the butt. My classmates were more interested in focusing on their presentations and the teachers never seem to get my humor. We gave our presentation first today. I mention this for a few reasons and one of them is that we usually don't go first.

Another reason I mention it is because I am telling a story and order is important in a story.

We did our presentation and had a few interruptions and random questions from the teacher but we don't care. We don't care as a group. We just want the class to be over and receive a passing grade. All the other details (like if they thought we should add something, be more clear or if I need to dance during delivery) are just that.... details. The details were only mildly interesting to me today because I know I will see this teacher again for the next class. My next 6 week class (starting next week) has him leading the charge again. I was paying a little attention so if I have a lesson plan to create I can meet his expectations. That whole issue, of meeting the teacher's expectations, is where this story goes South. Maybe I should back up a little bit.

The University of Phoenix uses teachers and principals to teach the classes. On one hand that is a good thing. The teacher is dealing with the real world in a classroom setting while they are also teaching us. Which means it is not some fossilized professor who last taught in public schools somewhere around 1910. For a lot of the class discussions this current experience can be handy. Of course most people have two hands and this issue has two hands. On the terrible, devil worshipping hand we have the people who seem to need to introduce us to reality. These people go out of their way to tell you how hard the teaching world is and how we need to be "aware" of that before we start teaching. Another favorite reminder of these teachers is that most new teachers burn out within 4 years. It is almost like they are trying to reduce the number from 4 years to teachers burning out in the 3 months prior to actually teaching. This teacher was of the latter variety (the devil worshipping evil hand variety).

So here we are back in the classroom, the second group starts presenting and he makes a few points. You know by stopping them and telling us what we are doing wrong as a group based off of their examples. I am only half listening and if I could have put in ear phones to drown out that half I would have. One of his little soap box topics is "Differentiated Instruction". A buzz word that basically means realizing there are more then one level of student in class and your instruction needs to engage them all. So you need to show how you would change this lesson up enough so that it comes across to the learning disabled, non-English speaking students, and the super brainy kids. What the teacher seemed to be trying to say was that we should build differentiation into the lesson automatically and forget about showing how we will target certain issues. We, as a group, had been trying to envision how we would help the groups individually. Let me give an example:

What we were doing - We have a lesson about writing a book report. We lay out the lesson and then we try and figure out what to do for the learning disabled and we would write that idea down. Then we would think of the brainy kid and come up with something for him. So basically we were making little custom lessons.

What he was trying to explain to us: Say we are going to be focusing on writing again. He pulls a set of articles on a similar topic that are written at various levels. What the student does is takes the article reads it and responds in an essay form to it. Everyone is writing an essay about an article they read but instead of focusing on one article we find several and hand them out to the various levels. Instead of building the lesson and then considering the special cases, we start by building the lesson to incoporate a variety of levels (instead of one article we select 10) and then use these levels to properly challenge the various students. This idea makes sense. It makes more sense then the hard way we have been doing it for a year and a half.

Unfortunately it took another hour and a half for him to explain what he was talking about in a manner that made sense.

Let's get back to the story. So here we are listening to his inane rambling about differentiated instruction. What he was saying sounded like this: "You guys are doing this wrong!" The way he was talking struck a nerve with a classmate and she began demanding to know what exactly we were surprised to do about it. First off, this is a PE and Health class and differentiating for a super smart kid makes no freaking sense. You see we were "differentiating" the way we were taught in the beginning (making a lesson and then considering 3 very concrete yet extremely generic variations) and that was not what he wanted. As she was demanding answers it quickly escalated into an argument. He kept saying what he said originally and that was not answering the question she was asking; which was frustrating her. The problem of course was we were all trying to do what we had been shown in previous classes and he had a completely different lesson plan playbook in mind. This "discussion" took an hour. Somewhere very near the end it devolved into her no longer speaking and him telling her to get over it. It ended with her crying and my friend Cat telling him he hurt that person's feelings and he should try saying things more positively and less aggressively. His response was that he was being realistic and he didn't care. All in all, it was an awesome display of teaching.

So this major "to do" got me thinking. I figure part of the issue with the stress caused by lesson plans is that the University of Phoenix does not have a universally taught lesson plan. Every teacher sees the lesson plan components differently and every lesson plan constructed for a new teacher is a risky venture. Especially lately, when we have been flayed open and roasted. Add to this the somewhat flippant remarks by this teacher and you get someone harboring a little irritation. His comments ignited the kindling aka irritation) she had stored up after reading his earlier comments on her prior work. Should she have sat on her feelings and let it fester into what happened today? No, she should have emailed him the first time his remarks irritated her. Hindsight and a sense of detachment are easy to do when you barely register the comments anymore; meaning it is easy for me to say. Of course everyone has a breaking point and I am thinking she had reached it but had originally planned to just get this class behind her when that kindling was ignited. It was sudden, fierce and a little scary but it should have been over within 2 minutes if a sane person had responded to her. Of course that was not what happened.

The fact that every teacher has a different idea of what our lesson plans should look like has been a pet peeve of everyone in class for a long time. Why the school couldn't just pick one and tell the teachers it is the one they need to use with us is a good question. To this teacher the answer is that the school systems are different and adaptability is important. Which is all fine and good if we were going out and learning in several different school districts but we aren't; we are attending one univesity. Why the freaking university can't pick the most current model and make everyone follow it is not answered by saying "The teaching world is filled with differing ideas." The fact of the matter is that when we go to work somewhere we probably won't make lesson plans like this again but spouting off this fact does not prevent them from shoveling this load of manure down my throat. My question becomes how using "reality" is a valid argument when their "reality" is not actually reality? For purely hypothetical reasons, say that we do file our own original lesson plans with our future principal. Would that principal really change his style every 4 weeks? Would they have completely different (and some what conflicting) ideas everytime I passed their office? I think we all know that the answer is no. So not having a universal lesson plan model is just creating problems and stress for the student.

Of course, then we have the teacher. Comments like "Seriously!" should not come out of your mouth as a response to anything when you are teaching. No matter how old they are or how close to graduation they are. It is condescending, rude and will put people on the defensive. If you feel your message needs to be heard then don't offend people. You are talking to a group of people who aren't teaching yet and we are basing all our knowledge on what we have been told in the f***ing school you work for. So responding condescendingly, about what I don't know about teaching, only makes you look like an ass. Once again, looking like an ass is not helping us to understand your point. The other thing that is not helpful is to get more obtuse the longer the argument goes on. Repeating yourself continuously and then throwing in non-relevant arguments is not how an intelligent person explains their point. The answer to "How do I differentiate anything if everything I do is wrong?" has nothing to do with teacher burnout, proper spelling or whether the teaching world is easy. What was said was very unclear and unhelpful; if truth be told it was actually mean spirited and pointless. It wasn't until the end of class that he said anything that made sense. I understand needing to back up, put the conversation on hold and collect your thoughts to make better sense of your point. Especially when an entire room is getting up in arms about what you are saying. That issue of needing a moment or two is something I run into when I am talking to someone about something I believe in strongly. I would be amazed if she took in any of the comments after that "discussion". I am admitting that I think his ideas on showing differentiation in my future lesson plans helped me understand the point and intent behind it. I think it was good advice but the delivery was all wrong.

Then there is the issue of people feeling it is their purpose to inject me with a "dose of reality". Look.... I am not 19. I have been in the real world and I know that nothing is as easy as it seems. I understand that more work is done by a school teacher in the first hour of school then anything that happens in an entire day answering phones for an insurance company. You telling me about how much everything sucks will not help me. First of all, I need to go out and learn for myself. I will never just take some random person's word for something I have invested this much time and money into. This is also not taking into consideration the fact that I have grown up surrounded by teachers. I have heard them "talk shop" my whole life. Nothing you say to me about the hard parts of the job are going to be something I haven't heard before. If anything I should probably be questioning you on what you know about the issues of working outside of education. I don't have some Candyland version of teaching floating around in my head. I understand that it will be hard and challenging every single day. I understand the first couple years will be a lot of work as I develop my style and start cataloging my lesson plan ideas. The mere fact that you think we need "the real scoop" from you is amazing. What are your words of doom and gloom going to do for me? Nothing because I still plan on graduating. I have put too much money and time into walk away at this point. If I do burn out in four years then that is what happens and nothing you say about "reality" a month before student teaching is changing that.

I would like to end this post with a quote from Wedding Crashers. In the beginning of that movie, Rebecca De Mornay is heatedly discussing divorce issues with her husband when she utters a very apt phrase: "You shut your mouth when you're talking to me!"

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Advantage - a poem

I would follow you anywhere
Even when you pretend I am not there.
I wait everyday
For you to call my name
Days fly by
I am getting older
Yet you continue to stun,
With your unaltered beauty.
I get crabbier and
You get more desirable.
My life slips by
And yet I wait,
Simply hoping to be noticed.