Thursday, September 29, 2011

I would give this dream a title, but I really don't even know where to start.

Sometimes I wake up from a dream and think, “Good job, brain!” and congratulate it for dreaming in a way that maximizes the comedy for good old Popcorn Day. Like this one, or this one, and of course this bad boy, who started this whole crazy blog in the first place.
This is also one of those moments.
The dream started with pizazz: I was parachuting down to my friend’s lakeside cabin. I landed on the lake, and decided to do some walking on top of the water for awhile before I came in. It wasn’t too hard. Really, it’s all in the way use your feet. I’ll show you sometime. 

After I wandered to shore, I had to take a wee, and my friend directed me to go in the door and to the right. “The bathroom is being renovated right now so it looks kind of crappy, but it still works.” So I went inside to the right only to find an empty space in their kitchen where it appeared as if a dishwasher had just been. 
“This can’t be the bathroom,” I said to myself, “but there’s nothing else around, so what the heck.” I squeezed myself into the little cranny and tried to get in a safe and satisfactory peeing position. 

[This is a normal position for me, usually seen when I'm on an airplane, or getting into a car, or going spelunking. I'm just really tall, okay?]

Then my friend came in.
FRIEND: Brian! Brian NO!
ME: What...
FRIEND: That’s where our dishwasher used to be! Don’t pee there!
ME: You TOLD me to pee here! I was just following directions.
FRIEND: Why would we put a crawl-in bathroom in the kitchen?
ME: Okay, listen. You told me to go the right, I went to the right. You told me to look for a crappy half-renovated room, and what the eff am I in right now. You told me that  if I found that place I could pee there. Thus, here I am, about to pee. 
FRIEND: But it’s not a bathroom. It’s just not. 
ME: But it’s a torn-up place to the right when you walk in the door.
FRIEND: Still not a bathroom. 
ME: I was just following your directions. All items on the list point directly to this spot. 
FRIEND: You’re dreaming.
[Suddenly all the people in the scene minding their own business looked directly at us.]

ME: That’s beside the point. You directed me here. 
FRIEND: It was my bad. When I said go right, I meant left. The real, actual, non-dishwasher bathroom is to the left. You may pee there. 
ME: Thanks. I really gotta go. 
After I had peed, we decided to tour a nearby college. It was beautiful there: vine-covered brick buildings and flowering trees. There was a pool on campus with a poorly made and barely legible sign stating...

While my friends took some time to figure out how two of those items could possibly relate to pool rules, I said goodbye because I had to take off in my MILLENNIUM FALCON. 
Good job, brain!

But hold that thought. My copilot and I had just pulled out of lightspeed when he received a prophesy–yes, a prophesy–that we were going to be shot down. I wondered for a while if it was going to be a dramatic and heartfelt death, but then we got hit and my copilot put his hands frustratingly in the air.  

And as we spun through space in a sparking, smoky fireball, I realized it wasn’t going to be a very meaningful death at all. Well, that sucks. 
After I died, however, I found myself at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (yes, Harry Potter being the subject of my dreams again) and they were trying to teach me the school anthem, but I kept singing it to the tune of The Angry Beavers’ theme song, which coincidentally is also my morning alarm, which was going off. 
So I woke up. It’s not often that you parachute, walk on water, almost pee in a kitchen, fly the Millennium Falcon, and go to Hogwarts all in one night.  It’s probably because I had my annual Taco Bell visit that day. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The day I learned the consequences of holding hands with my girlfriend

Sixth grade. 
[My hair and my complexion haven't changed much. Really, the only thing different about me in this picture is that I'm holding a trapper keeper.]

Regardless of puberty taking its full gangly effect on my mind and body, I had somehow scored a girlfriend. Katie was sweet and cute and we started dating the day we met, the day before Thanksgiving break. By Christmas break a month later we were already fully committed and entranced in each other, meeting each other between classes and walking each other to the next one, standing by each other at recess, and hugging before we got on our separate buses at the end of the day.  Our love for each other was apparent to our classmates as well, who would ask us whenever we were apart, “Hey Brian, how’s Katie? :) :) :)”  Good, I would say bashfully. “Aw! You two are so cute together!” Thanks. 

A majority of the conversations I had with my fellow classmates consisted of those very words and usually nothing more. Everyone loved us. I loved us. By the time our relationship ended nine months later, we had kissed nine times. That’s a kiss a month, people!
There was only one person who didn’t support our relationship. Her name was Ms. Trotz, and she ruled PhyEd with an iron fist. I met her in sixth grade too, after hearing a series of the worst rumors middle schoolers could possibly conjure up in their heads about her. Seriously, they were hurtful and offensive rumors, mostly based on the assumption that she was gay, and she would not be working at the middle school if any of them were true. Being assumed gay in 2001 by middle schoolers is a death sentence with a punishment of three-straight years of name-calling and harassment, trust me.  Looking back, I see her as a person who would walk in to her first class every year with all of the kids already hating her. What can someone do in that situation? My answer would be “just get those hateful kids to throw foam balls at each other for forty-five minutes, and keep verbal interaction brief and cold,” which she did. I guess middle school is tough for grown-ups too.
Ms. Trotz, if you’re out there, I feel for you and I’m sorry I contributed in the collective hatred of you from my class. 

But I’m still going to tell the story about how you scared me and my girlfriend shitless. This is the day I learned the consequences of holding hands with my girlfriend.
Ms. Trotz had already sent me to the Intervention Room once, (Intervention Room = Detention, by the way, which I think is hilarious.), for “jumping” over the foot-high tennis nets…
TROTZ: Brian! I specifically told you to walk around the nets.

ME: But I was trying to get the ball, I lost my balance and I was going to fall into it...
TROTZ: No, I saw you jump over it. 
ME: Well I did, but in the interest of not falli—
TROTZ: See? Go to the I.V.
ME: The Intervention Room?! This is injustice!
TROTZ: You don’t know the first thing about injustice. 
ME: YOU don’t know the first thing about my jumping intentions! 
TROTZ: [pause]
ME: [eyes narrowed in accusation]
TROTZ: [raises a considering eyebrow]
ME: [hopeful eyebrows, thinking I won her over]
TROTZ: Go to the I.V. 
ME: Bullocks. 
[Acne is nonverbal angst.]

So our relationship didn’t start well. 
I suppose I should mention now that Holmen Middle School had a strict “No Public Displays of Affection” policy. It was preached to us so many times that, when sighted, even the students would take a break from their LOL-ing trapper-keeper conversations to gleefully point and yell, “PDA! PDA!” Only they mostly did it out of fear so they wouldn’t be seen as co-conspirators to such unlawful action.
Katie and I were hand-holders. However, with the privilege of having a hand-holding girlfriend comes great responsibility. Because of the rigid No PDA laws in place, we had to always be on the lookout for teachers roaming the halls. We became really good at it, as if each handhold was a prolonged drug exchange and we had to make sure there were no pigs or canaries around. 
[I only half-know what I mean by “pigs and canaries.”]
One afternoon Katie and I were walking hand-in-hand, away from our friends,  in the solitude of one of the Middle School’s halls. We were strolling happily along when Ms. Trotz suddenly turned the corner and looked right at us. There was nowhere to hide, no one to blame, and not enough time to release our hold. It was the perfect storm. A cold, evil smile ran across Ms. Trotz face. I still get the chills when I picture it.
TROTZ: My office. Now.
US: [gasp!]

TROTZ: I’m not even going to send you to the Intervention Room yet. I want you to call your parents first.
US: [gasp!]
TROTZ: You know our rules about PDA. I caught you red-handed. 
US: [gasp! A pun!]
We walked to Ms. Trotz’s office, shivering in our Sketchers. I could already tell that this would not be a good acne week.  Katie went first. She came out with blotchy red eyes.  “Brian, you can come in now,” said Ms. Trotz. I sauntered over and dialed my mom’s work phone. 
MOM: Hello? 
ME: [shakily] Hi Mom. 
MOM: What’s the matter? Are you alright? Are you sick?
ME: No I’m fine. I’m just getting sent to the I.V. today. 
MOM: What’s the I.V.? 
ME: It’s where you go if you get in trouble. 
MOM: Oh, like detention. 
ME: No, it’s the Intervention Room. 
MOM: That’s funny. 
ME: I know. Listen, they’re making me call you before I go down there.
MOM: Oh God, what did you do now? 
ME: What did I do “now”? What’s that supposed to mean?
MOM: I don’t know, were you playing High Five Spin the Bottle again?

MOM: Still. Are you SongBombing people?

ME: I won't invent that for another ten years. And it won't even really take off (...YET).
MOM: What did you do, Brian?
ME: The real reason I’m going to the I.V. is…well…I was holding hands with Katie. 
MOM: [pause]
ME: Mom? You there?
MOM: Is that really what you did? 
ME: Yes.
MOM: Don’t lie to me, young man. 
MOM: Oh. Okay. [Clearly suppressing a smirk--I could hear it over the phone] I guess you need to go to the Intervention Room then. 
And so, Katie and I spent an hour in the Intervention Room, filling out a half piece of yellow paper stating what we did, why it was wrong, and promising never to do it again. When we got out, the conversations with our classmates changed. They went from a joyful and coy, “Hey Brian, how’s Katie? :) :) :)”  to a more somber:

FRIEND: Hey Brian, how’s Katie doing?
ME: She’s doing alright. 
FRIEND: Yeah, the Intervention Room had to have been quite the strain on your relationship. 
ME: It’s been tough, but we’re pushing through.
FRIEND: Stay strong. 
ME: Thanks. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Billy’s Weird Life, (Also dubbed “the most uninspired piece of writing to come out of Brian’s fingers.”)

Sometimes I feel like half of me is Timid & Shy Little Brian, and the other part is his boisterous uncle who is always trying to embarrass him. Timid & Shy Little Brian just wants to stay under the radar and live in anonymous peace, but the boisterous uncle is always yanking him out of it and reminding everyone of the time he got stuck in a his girlfriend’s parents’ bathroom. It is because of this conflict that I write this post.

The problem is that I promised I’d do this in my previous post. About a year ago I posted The Fraidy-Cat Lion, which is an endearing and Young Authors Award-winning story written by me in third grade. Yes, third grade, my rebellious year. Between episodes of playing drums with my pencil and playing High-Five Spin The Bottle with a glove, I was writing the damn cutest thing you could ever imagine.  That’s right, Mrs. White and that Meatloaf-doppelganger recess aide, I used the pain from your oppressive fists to foster my creativity! Who’s laughing now?

Then fifth grade came along, and with the entrance of scant traces of puberty, more and more of my adorable creativity took its leave. That year it was announced that we would all be writing books to be entered again into the Young Authors contest. Being a veteran of this kind of contest, I was sure that my story would be a shoe-in for the award. But I wouldn’t let the fame make me sloppy; I wanted my new story to have the same artistic integrity and grounded panache as The Fraidy-Cat Lion. So I started brainstorming.

This was the year that I had started reading the Harry Potter books and I wanted nothing more than to be him. Each chapter of the books filled me with such giddy excitement accompanied by the mournful sigh, Oh my sweet goodness, I wish someone would tell ME that I’m a wizard! It permeated my every thought, and clearly affected my dreams as well. So when it came time for me to choose a story to write, I undoubtedly had one choice and one choice only: to use this passion to write a story about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard and is invited to Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


Even more creative, though, is the title. Ladies and gentlemen, Billy’s Weird Life.

  ["I dedicate this book to my family"...because they don't know that I played High-Five Spin The Bottle yet and I have to rack up all the points I can before conferences.]

[Billy's dad and grandparents are dead ringers for my dad and grandparents. Really, I did a horrible job concealing the fact that Billy is me.]

 [My Calvin & Hobbes influence started early. See?]

 [My sister drew Billy for me on this page. That is clearly 8th grade artistry.]

 [This is one of my favorite pages, because (1) Again, Billy's dad looks just like my dad, (2) I used colored pencil, crayons, AND gel pens to illustrate this, and (3) I thought that people wouldn't recognize the golden starlike shapes as "sparks."]

[I owned a shirt just like that at the time. Billy = me.]
 [I amazed even myself with my mountain-drawing abilities. WATCH YOUR BACK, BOB ROSS.]

[I'm not fully sure what is going on here between Billy's mom and dad, but it seems as though I was hinting at some sort of deeper problems in that relationship.]

[The Chair-Moving Spell: A favorite among weary-legged wizards.]

[Billy ends up being HOMESCHOOLED? What the HELL?]

 [Probably not the best idea to end the book with a fragment sentence.]

I did not win the Young Authors Award that year. During the assembly during which the award winner would be announced, I sat confidently cross-legged, ready to stand up and accept the prize. But it never happened. I was crushed. 

How could I not have won? Comments written by my classmates on the back cover of the book included such praise, as:

Cool! - Hans

Cool book! It was really GOOD! I liked the idea about "Harry Potter" ~Alyssa~

Very good book! I loved the not very many mistakes. Cool(written with eyes in the O's and a silly, tongue-wagging smile underneath)! - James

I guess that's that. You've now read my embarrassing fifth grade novel. And it's all because of that embarrassment-fixated second half of myself. There aren't any more on this subject, thank God. (Well, except for my seventh grade autobiography.)


Monday, September 5, 2011

My Name’s Harry Potter and I Love Horses

I can’t stop dreaming that I am Harry Potter. Seriously, take a look: Not only was I Harry Potter in this post, but I was also Jesus (a puzzle I don’t even want to begin to solve); and I never told you this, readers, but in Dream #3 of this DreamBomb series, I was actually Harry again. I blame J.K. Rowling for being such a good writer of relateable characters. Her, and the fact that I probably secretly wish that I was a wizard and the only time I can say that out loud is when I’m dreaming. When I was younger it was harder to keep it quiet.

In fifth grade I had written a short book called Billy’s Weird Life (which I must admit is quite the literary zenith of a title), about a boy who learns that he is a wizard and goes on an adventure while traveling to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I would totally post the story here like I did The Fraidy-Cat Lion but trust me, folks, Billy’s Weird Life is nowhere near as endearing or funny as that one. It’s really just a poorly formed, copyright-infringing story with “I WISH WIZARDS WERE REAL AND THAT I WAS ONE OF THEM!” screaming between every line.  So I won’t post it. (You know I probably will.)

 [That's all I'll give you for now. Click to embiggen.]

And once again I have dreamt that I am Harry Potter. Here it is.

My friends and I (you know, Ron and Hermione) were in hiding because, obviously, Voldemort was trying to chase us down. So for those of you who are keeping count, I was the “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” Harry Potter, the one who’s all dark and cynical now because he just wants to be a normal famous wizard. Dinner that night was canned pasta alfredo, as in the whole meal was in one can. Noodles, chicken, white sauce. It was even bland in my mind.  I choked it down, wishing for some Sriracha sauce to squeeze on top. 

But something better than Sriracha arrived. A freaking horse, people. It was light brown and kind of looked like a tall Airedale terrier with a mane. I knew immediately that Dumbledore had sent it.

[Let me stop right here to say that I KNOW that at least one of you Harry Potter nerds reading would interrupt and say, “Wait wait wait wait…By The Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore is DEAD, Brian. He was killed in The Half-Blood Prince and you know it!” I DO know it, my friends. Frankly, I’m a little embarrassed that my unconscious mind didn’t pick up on this when I was dreaming it. I promise it will never happen again.]

I quickly slung myself onto the horse and went on an adventure. It was quite a long adventure and I didn’t know where I was going, but I remember a Rocky workout-like scene, where they cover days and days worth of activity in a short segment, during which the horse and I bonded. It was heartwarming.

 [No, not like that.]

Soon enough, in the middle of the night, we arrived a stable owned by a crotchety old man. He let us in, begrudgingly, but I would have to stay in the stable with the horse. I was okay with that, since apparently in my dreams I’m okay with sleeping on a floor strewn with horse poo.

The next night I was introduced to the petulant old man’s wife, who kept dropping hints about my horse being special, which confused me. And then she told me that the reason her husband was mad at me was because he wanted the magical clarinet I had with me.

ME: What?

HER: A magical clarinet.

ME: Why would I have a magical clarinet?

HER: You just do. In your bag.

ME: No way.

HER: Yes way. Look in your bag. See that box? What’s inside?

ME: Woah. A clarinet. And you say it’s magical?

HER: Sort of. It can play like a bunch of magical songs.

ME: Who gives a crap about that?

HER: My husband.

ME: Well he can have it if you want.

HER: Oh, that would be great. Maybe he’ll stop griping now.

It was the strangest conversation. Then my horse, whose name turned out to be Midnight (I know, right?), came out of the stable. He was skinny, but not gaunt skinny; it was more as if a picture of him had been stretched vertically, so he was all disproportionate and lanky. I turned to the stable owner’s wife.

ME: What the heck happened to my horse?

HER: Oh, that. His body reacts to the conditions of storms. See how there’s a small storm forming in the distance? That’s why his body is like that; the storm is small, so he’s small. That’s why he’s called Midnight. 

ME: That makes no sense whatsoever.

HER: It does in this state of your brain.

ME: What?

HER: Nevermind.

ME: Can I still ride him?

HER: Sure! Just jump on.

So I jumped on top of Midnight, even though it felt like I was riding a wooden sawhorse (get it? SawHORSE?), and we rode off into the woods. The stable owner’s wife yelled after me, “Oh! And he understands everything that you say!”

This new realization was so exciting for me. No wonder we had bonded so well! I said “Go left!” without moving Midnight’s reins, and he went left. I said “Slow down just a bit,” and he did just that. And then I told him all of my personal secrets because I knew he would listen.

Then I woke up. 

I texted Christie right away when I woke up, to share the story with a fellow Harry Potter nerd, and also so I could remember as many details as I could. She replied, saying, “That’s a good one! You should blog about it today.” I told her I couldn’t because I didn’t want to cheapen my relationship with Midnight by joking about it. I’m sure she didn’t know if she should laugh or not.