Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm Going to Madrid!

Just got my placement and instantly accepted it. I'm going to be in Madrid for a year... WTF

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Dreamt a Dream...

I had a brutal dream the other night. I can’t remember much, except for the goriest parts, and I don’t know why. The dream was set up as like watching a movie, but it wasn’t like I was sitting in a couch watching it. It was like the screen was routed directly to my brain, so almost as if I was in the movie: the ultimate 3D.

There were two women, one chasing the other.  I can only remember how one looked, kind of like Katy Perry in the face, with bright blue hair cut into a pixie-bob. She was very pretty, and she was the one being chased. It was terrifying, and the other one, I think she had long blond hair, chased “Blue” into a hollowed out tree, like a Redwood. They kept grappling, and Blue would fight the other off, but “Blonde” was relentless. Finally, Blonde knocked blue over and then took a pickaxe and struck a blow to Blue’s temple region. Blood spurt from her Kill Bill style and she stumbled to the side. With her prey weakened, Blonde delivered another blow to the top of her head, resulting in a similar spray of red-orange blood, like a cartoon. Blue fell to the ground, covered in leaves, and she stared open-eyed, mouth closed straight ahead, which was right at her audience, just me. The camera started zooming in and out, slowly at first, and then picked up the rate. I think music accompanied this, growing ever-more panicky, until finally my conscience caught my sub-conscience and kicked the shit out of it and I woke up.

What the hell? I’m not going to bother psychoanalyzing the dream, because I don’t know what the hell it could mean and I don’t want to discover I’m crazier than I already knew. It’s just one of those dreams that will stick with you, particularly her face in the end. I doubt I ever shake it, like the dream where a man systematically worked through hurting/killing my family when I was about 4 or when I escaped from a burning house with my pregnant mother, chased by Nicki Hepfl and then attacked by a monster directly from the X-files.

Our subconscious is an amazing thing; and it’s the source of some pretty terrifying thoughts as well. All of those dreams will stick with me until my mind begins to wither and my conscience no longer keeps up with my sub-conscience and I am unaware of their ongoing presence.

They aren’t all terribly dim though. When I was about 9 I dreamt that I got in trouble at recess and received a very strange, but very satisfying punishment. There was a tree in the middle of the play-yard, and a horse tied to it. I used the horse to get on the tree and climb to the top, like literally on top of the tree. Up there, there were Disney movies scattered all around and it was my job to retrieve them. I did so, until I hit a week spot in the leaves and fell harmlessly to the ground.

I know not what any of these mean, but they have stuck with me, and I felt like scribing them somewhere. This is as good a place as any.

(Clearly I had issues with the text...)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Still Don't Know It

I feel inspired to write
But I do not know what
So I will remain quiet
And just sit on my butt

The feeling is familiar
And I usually just ramble
But a poem is different
I'm taking a gamble

I'm choosing to fly
By the seat of my pants
And hope that the words
Come out and they dance

I've got the flow down
But the substance is weak
The mountain I wanna climb
Is a very distant peak

There's still no direction
There's no end in sight
So I'll stop being stubborn
And just give up the fight

I'll remain on my butt
And check what I've said
And now that feeling to write
Is freed from my head

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports

For those of you have never been to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, I assure you, it's something that you MUST do. I went to the 138th race this weekend, on a total whim, and it was such a great experience. It was so wonderful; all of the rich people with sun dresses and pin-striped suits, regal horses and their trainers walking around, the sounds of their hooves pounding the dirt of the track during the races leading up to the Derby.

Well that's what I expected I would see. I was completely wrong. 

We(2 cars, 12 people) got to Louisville and started driving down the main strip outside the track. People stood on the curb with signs saying "Parking $_" with the price raising the closer to the track you got. People were literally driving over the curb onto the front yards of these houses for $10 parking. That was our first bit of the culture of that day. 

It was scorching, had to have been around 90 degrees, and people were walking around with beers in hand, guys with their shirts off and girl fanning themselves with their hats. We found a little parking lot and set up our station. We began with a few drinking games and, sharing beers bought from Sissy's Liquor down the road, and just had fun (I only had a few as I planned to drive home later). After a while, at around 3, we decided it was about time to go to the track. 

A guy snuck a few of us who didn't have tickets in for $25 bucks( I tipped him 10) and we were on our way. To get to the infield, you have to go under the track, so we just fell in line behind everyone else, and began our descent. The further you got through the tunnel, the louder the crowd got. I was legitimately getting anxious to surface. Once we did, I saw a scene that I did not expect, one very different from the picture at the top. It was a little more like this: 

More like Woodstock, and a whole lot cooler than the first picture. People of all sorts were walking around, in horse costumes and brightly colored shirts, some dressed as jockeys and who knows what else. There were guys with their shirts off and incredibly cute girls playing the Southern Belle thing for a day. People carried Mint Juleps around and loudly boasted to everyone who they were betting on. I looked over at the betting area and there was a mass of seemingly immobile people lined up on top of each other. 

A group of about 6 of us got in line and it didn't seem to really move once we were in there. After about 45 minutes, I had my ticket saying I had put $20 on horse #16, El Padrino (The Godfather) to win. (Spoiler alert, I did not win).

After that, it was just time to relax, soak up the sun, and people watch. I mean really, this is the best part of the whole experience. You get to see every kind of person there, but they are all there for the same reason, and that's why it works. It was almost entirely friendly, despite the massive differences in people, and it was so cool to see. 

After a few hours, the race was about to begin. The signature trumpet thing kicked off and the crowd roared. The horses crossed on the big screen one by one and got behind their gates. After a few moments of deliberate hesitation, they were released to a booming, collective cheer. We watched on the screen, because you simply couldn't see the track unless you were against the fence, and people fought for this piece of real estate. Eventually, they came in our direction, and for about 1.5 seconds, I could see incredibly fast flashes of contrasting brown and bright colors.

But that didn't bother me, it was the feeling in that infield that made it all worth it. In the beginning, it started with a real cheer, shouts here and there crying out for their horse, and then the further along it went, the quieter it got, as the real contenders got quiet out of hope and the ones who fell behind had nothing to cheer for. As the horses came around the final turn, and jockeys made their last bids for the crown, the noise level slowly raised as horse #19, I'll Have Another, started catching up with the leader. The horse crossed the finish line about a head in front, and everyone erupted. 

It was so wonderful. After that, everyone who won went to the ticket booth(my buddy's girlfriend won $140) and the rest went out. Like a slowly moving, gelatinous mass, we moved out of the gate slower than most people can tolerate. It took about 30 minutes of shoulder to shoulder crawling to get across the street. Then as you went towards your car, locals set up shop with coolers of water, pop, and beer for the patrons to indulge in. After a while, I submitted and bought a water(the best bottle of my life). We got to the car around 730 and waited for our other friends to get back before leaving. 

I could do a huge summary of the day, but I don't think it's necessary. The story was unique to me, but I feel that it is the same feeling for everyone. I had so much fun on that day after randomly deciding to participate, and I will never regret it. It was a wonderful experience, and I highly suggest everyone do it at least once.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Wanna Do It All

For those of you that have no idea what is happening in this picture, I will explain. This is a man celebrating the annual tradition of La Tomatina, held in a city near Barcelona in late August. The festival lasts for one hour and participants grab curshed tomatoes from trucks and chuck them at other people, or do things like in the image above. It's an hour of pure release, senseless action, and unabridged fun. I actually plan on doing it this fall.

Very conveniently, it turns out to be the first item in this version of a Bucket List. Like any other, this is designed to list the things anyone should do before they die. However, I Stumbled-Upon this one and fell in love with it. It gives a great balance of experiences ranging from thrilling, emotional, spiritual, gastronomical, historical, rewarding, and even the ones we take for granted. It has 225 of the most interesting things you could ever do or see. I went through and read the description of all of them in two days at work and found that I have done 13 of them already, and I'm pretty happy about that. Because that's not so many, I will list them here:

6. Help a random stranger in distress (just this weekend I returned a patient's folder I found underneath a park bench outside a hospital)
23. Speak a second language fluently(fluent is debatable, but I'm defining capable of communicating in Spanish)
31. Climb Volcan Pacaya(volcano in Guatemala, March 2011)
46. Watch a Space shuttle Launch (Done from a dock in Florida in November 2002, not up close though)
50. Learn to Juggle (taught myself)
64*. Ride all of the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point (Except the Wicked Twister, only out of lack of interest)
126. Attend a midnight screening of a blockbuster (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in summer 2007)
129. Watch a movie at a drive-in theater (surprisingly easy in Barberton)
173. Visit Walt Disney World (Same Thanksgiving break as the space shuttle launch)
202. Build a bonfire and make s'mores (who hasn't)
207. Perfect a magic trick (learned a cool card trick during my gambling phase in the late 2000s)
220. Sleep in a hammock (thanks Mom and Jim)
225. Create a Bucket List ( I already had one, but now realize it needs revisited)

(There was also one that said "Eat out of your comfort zone," but I don't know if that's possible. I ate pig brains already and it may have been the best thing I have ever eaten. I don't know how to top that, and I wasn't uncomfortable eating it.)

This wasn't to brag, because really it is a ridiculously small portion of the things listed, but I am proud of this. I have had some cool experiences that I clearly (based on the facts in the parentheses[this is so meta!]) remember a lot about and will likely never forget. I'm sure some of you have many of the other things on here that I haven't done, but watch your back, I want to do them all.

Why have a bucket list? I think a lot of people get inspired to create this, perhaps after watching the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie or maybe after doing something that made them feel like a kid again, but never follow through on it. And after attempting to do a couple of them, they may get upset at the difficulty and abandon the effort. And even worse, they may return to the list years later and realize how little they still have done and feel awful. Wow, bucket lists sound awful...

But it shouldn't be looked at that way. Bucket lists can be used as general motivation to appreciate life. I have a lot of things on my bucket list that are very ambitious(visit 100 countries, for example) that can probably only be completed in ideal situations. However, the cool thing about that is, I want to do it. The battle we're fighting is not "can I do it" or "will I do it," it's "do I want to do it?" If you want to do some extraordinary things in your life, then you have an extraordinary imagination and potential. That has to be reaffirming in itself. The second we stop dreaming about our capabilities is the second we succumb to complacency. We should always dream huge, even if we know there's nearly no chance it will happen.

But when you do complete some of the things on your list, a couple of things happen. One; you get the satisfaction of completing something you set out to do, which is always wonderful. And two; you grew. Whether you did a good deed, felt a new feeling, saw a new people, you grew. You will learn each time you do something on a bucket list and become a more well-rounded person. That's my favorite part about them - it is one of the best ways to learn about life. 

So if you go through those 225 and find nothing that you haven't done (highly unlikely), get started with number 225.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Excitement Never Dies

I know you all remember being in grade school, as the year winds down and it gets warmer outside. You get out of class and mentally check off another day in your countdown to the glorious escape that is summer break. With each passing hour you can taste the freedom and feel the anticipation mounting. It has been one long, painful year and soon, the torture will all be over.

I can still remember one specific last day of class. My last day of 5th grade, my last at Portage Elementary and the last with many friends who would mostly be going to Highland Middle School instead of my U.L. Light Middle School. At that point, I had a crush on Brittany Smith. And for 5th grade, it was pretty serious. I remember telling Jeff Cooper at an educational camping retreat we went to about a month before, that I liked her, I like-liked her, even though he was going out with her. But like a true friend, they broke up shortly after, and the door was open. 

If you knew me as a kid, I was deathly shy, so I never really did anything. But when the last day of school comes, anything can happen. We were all standing on the steps leading outside the school, waiting for that final bell, waiting for summer to be out. I was waiting for it to ring so I could make my move, free of the consequences of school. I stared at the clock, heart racing and neck sweating, and the second hand finally reached it's goal.


Amongst shouts of joy from other children, I turned to Brittany Smith, absolutely terrified, I told her "I like you." I then shrieked like a girl and ran down the steps. I remember my eyes meeting those of Professor D (I think her name was Digiacinto, but not positive) and she just laughed at me as I burst through those doors one last time.

For years, you have those wonderful moments of sheer ecstasy when those bells ring for the last time that year, releasing you for months on end of never-ending fun and relaxation. You get to play basketball and wiffleball for hours on end. You get to walk a mile and a half to get ice cream with money you earned from mowing the neighbor's lawn. You get to stay up all frickin night, man.... Wow, I do miss that feeling.

But wait a second... Does my heart deceive me or do I feel that same anticipation now, as the year draws to a close for me, but on the other side? I believe I do. I have a subconscious countdown ticking. I replay my plans for the summer and what my schedule will be like. I anticipate the couple days off I will get a week as opposed to working 7. I am ready for my birthday, ready to go to Colorado, ready to have fun, and ready to go to Spain! AHHHH! Pardon my French, but HOLY SHIT I'm ready for summer.

So for all of you who recall that weird dynamic between teachers and students, how the teachers seemed almost robotic, unflappable in their sternness, know that they too, enjoy summer break as much as you do. And from knowing some of the faculty at my school, and mostly myself, I'm willing to bet some of them enjoy it more.