Flashing and Other Talents

On a mildly cool winter night 25 some-odd years ago, my family and I attended a Christmas music program at our church. I was going to be singing a few songs with my preschool class, so I arrived dressed to the nines in a pretty red dress, white pantyhose, and black patent shoes.

I was ready for action.

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Once my tiny classmates and I were neatly lined up on the sanctuary steps, the pianist took her seat and began playing the accompaniment. Under the direction of our teachers, my class and I sang the first of our Jesus-related songs. I don’t remember what song it was, but I’m sure we butchered it, because preschoolers are terrible but hilarious performers. I’m sure there was lots of fidgeting, blank staring, and nose-picking going on. Nevertheless, we made it through our first song, and then the music began for the second one.

And that’s when things got weird.

No, that’s not true. Things didn’t passively get weird. I made them weird.

Those of you who read my blog regularly might have gotten a slightly inaccurate impression of me. In my writing, particularly on a blog where I’m unidentifiable to the majority of readers, I’m free to get a little … goofy. Theatrical. Totes inapprops.  On here, I use language and make jokes that I wouldn’t typically make in person, except in the presence of my closest friends. In a way, y’all know me better than many of the people I see on a regular basis. In real life, I’m a bit more reserved and professional until I’m comfortable with you. Then I unleash the crazy.

I was just as quiet and well-mannered as a little bitty girl. I was no one’s definition of a wild child. I want to make sure you fully understand just how much of a goody-goody I was, because it makes my behavior that evening that much more bizarre.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe I zoned out and thought I was at home. Maybe I was bored and thought the music program needed a little spicing up. We will never know what was going through my warped little brain.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s get down to it.

Pop Quiz: What did Amanda do in the middle of her conservative Baptist Christmas music program, attended by her pastor and lots of impressionable children?

A. Barked at the audience
B. Punched a kid next to me
C. Lifted my dress up above my head
D. Muttered “red rum” in a demonic voice
E. Both A and C

If you chose A, B, or D, you probably didn’t pay much attention to the title of this post. The answer, my friends, is E. While my classmates sweetly sang songs about angels and mangers, I decided to take the performance in a different direction. I began by unleashing some ferocious barks at the audience, and when that didn’t seem quite “spicy” enough, I lifted the skirt of my dress right above my head, exposing my panty-hosed little tummy and bare chest to the world.

I turned every adult in that audience into accidental and unwilling pedophiles.

Here’s a photo that my parents were kind enough to snap before they hunched down in the pews and pretended not to know me. As you can see, my teachers are frantically motioning for me to put my dress down, while my pilgrim classmates stare at me with either judgment or jealousy.

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Admirably, I was undeterred by my protestors. I didn’t let their negativity hold me back. I cared not about my family’s embarrassment, and my barking noises intimidated others from trying to remove me from the stage.

Like the determined creature I am, I continued my peepshow-slash-animal-impersonation act until my class’s performance was complete.  As the audience awkwardly applauded my religious striptease, I like to think that I took a confident bow and strutted off the stage. I also like to think that I then made a full transformation into a werewolf and began climbing on the furniture.

But I probably just stood there, unblinking, until one of my teachers hurriedly pulled me away.

We all know that the Christmas season is all about peace, joy, and junk food, but I think it should probably also be about making amends with people you’ve wronged. I’m willing to be the one to get this fad started, so here are some holiday-themed apology notes I will be writing this year:

Dear preschool classmates,
I apologize for overshadowing you in the Christmas program. I’m pretty certain NO ONE in the audience, including your own parents, was watching you be adorable and well-behaved when there was a disaster to behold two feet away. If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure your moms and dads were thanking their lucky stars that they were going home with you, and not me.

Dear preschool teachers,
I apologize for my artistic, but nonetheless unauthorized, change to your fine program. Training toddlers to memorize and perform songs is a maddening task, I’m sure. I’m certain that you wish I hadn’t chosen that particular venue to unveil my new talent, and I’m sure Jesus wishes that as well. I’m also sorry if you later had to apologize to traumatized church-goers for my skanky behavior.

Dear parents,
You probably deserve an apology for the immense embarrassment I caused, but heck – you’re the ones who raised me in the first place. You should just feel lucky that I didn’t do that shit more often.

Does anyone else have a history of flashing or streaking? What other things did you do as children that embarrassed your parents?

 

 

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Hell Cats and Hives

Even though Halloween and the season of scary stories ended a few weeks ago, I was recently reminded of a terrifying, monster-filled anecdote that happened in my own life. I’ve told a story over MS Paint illustrations before, and I thought it might be fun to bring it back again.

Behold, the scariest story of all:

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I know this story has a somewhat abrupt ending, but I didn’t want to leave you all feeling tense and terrorized for too long. The quick ending was for your sake. You’re welcome.

This story has a happy ending because after a shower and a few days of cortisone cream, I was good as new. Happy ending #2 – I later found a nice little desk job that didn’t involve being pelted with rocks by a couple of little hellions.

What’s the shortest amount of time you’ve ever worked at a particular job? What lead up to you quitting? Do you have any regrets for leaving so soon?

Big People, Little World

How are you doing? Yes, you. No, not the guy sitting behind you in the fedora. I’m talking to YOU. How are you? It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? If you’re feeling disheartened, angry, sad, embarrassed, or fearful – know that I am, too. Know that you’re not alone in your feelings, in your questions, or in your feeble attempts to move forward. I’m right there with you.

I’ve been trying to make myself feel better over the past few days, as I’m sure (and I hope) you’ve been doing for yourself as well. I’m realizing more and more that I am a part of two worlds. One world is the “Big World” – it includes my state and country and Earth, and everyone living within its boundaries. It includes the ideals and people within my profession. It includes the internet and social media. It encompasses all of the outside world and every person that I come into contact with, whether physically or internet-ly.

There’s also my “Little World.” It includes my job, and the coworkers and clients I see on a regularly basis. It includes close friends and family members. But truthfully, Little World is mostly just me.  It’s my body and my brain. Little World is me when I’m alone at home, when I’m driving in my car, and when I’m at the grocery store. It travels around with me, and is never separate from me.

On a normal day, I often find myself doing things to pull myself out of my Little World. It’s hard, because I feel comfy there. But I actively make myself participate in the Big World. “Come on self, walk with confidence. Speak with confidence. If you pretend you’re outgoing and assertive, you’ll come across that way. Stop pushing down your feelings – tell people the truth. Share your ideas. Advocate! Defend! Empower! Support!”

But over the past few days, it hasn’t felt safe to be in the Big World, has it? We went out and made the choices we felt were right. We believed we were advocating for the greater good. We were being big-hearted. We were hopeful.

And then, in the blink of an eye, our hopes were dashed. And it’s been painful. And embarrassing. And infuriating. And possibly worst of all, it’s been terrifying.

So while I normally encourage myself to break out of my Little World and embrace the Big World, right now I’m giving myself permission to do the opposite. I’m allowing myself to get small – which, I want to emphasize, is not the same as feeling small.

For me, getting small and returning to my Little World means that I’m steering clear of the internet and social media – with a few exceptions. Rather than psyching myself up to break out of my shell, I’m seeking safety within it. I’m quietly checking in on my feelings and needs. I’m closing the door to the outside world when I need to.  I’m letting myself feel disappointed and worried, without trying to logic my way out of it. I’m spending time with people who feel safe and comforting to me, and politely avoiding others.

And I’m also letting myself feel content and peaceful when those responses manage to bubble to the surface. I’m re-reading a favorite book that always makes me smile. I’m continuing to crochet new rows onto a blanket that has already gotten comically large. I’ve gotten somewhat sidetracked from my “Project,” but I feel proud of the work I’ve done on it so far, and I know I’ll return to it soon.

I even unleashed my inner weirdo long enough to send a gross picture of a centipede to my family and friends. And I felt inexplicable glee at their disgust.

I know I can’t stay here in my turtle shell forever, and I wouldn’t want to. Once I’m feeling grounded and steady, I may want to poke my head out of the shell and see what the Big World is up to. Maybe I’ll feel a little stronger and better equipped to take on new challenges. Maybe I’ll see new reasons to retreat back inside for awhile, and that’s okay too.

Returning to my Little World seems to help me a little. I don’t know if it will help you. I hope you find something in the next few days to bring you comfort and light and laughter, but I understand if you can’t. Know that I support you, and that I value your worth. Know that I see your hurt and confusion and fear. Know that I understand, and I feel those things too. Know that I care deeply about the fact that children are asking you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Know that I want answers, too.

Know also that we are together in this. I see you, and I am with you.  If I have to point out the ONE aspect of beauty in this horribly ugly situation, it’s that we have each other. You and me, and our brothers and sisters with similar goals and hopes and values. We’re not alone.

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Names of Grey’s Anatomy Characters Match their Personalities

For ten or so years now, one of my TV-related guilty pleasures has been Grey’s Anatomy. “Guilty pleasure” may not be the right phrase for it, because a) I don’t feel guilty about it, and b) it’s really not all that pleasurable, since the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes keeps killing off my favorite characters and writing stories that make me want to pull my hair out. But I admit that the madness makes for good TV, or else I wouldn’t keep watching it.

Instead of guilty pleasure, let’s call it “bittersweet torture.”

A few evenings ago, I was watching my bittersweet torture when I had a couple of epiphanies. You know that one episode where Meredith is irritable and says cranky things and makes poor decisions? Just kidding – she’s that way ALL THE TIME. Anyway, while I was sitting back and judging our favorite grumpy surgeon from the comfort of my own sofa, this occurred to me:

Mere’s personality is accurately summed up by her last name – Grey

If you don’t watch the show, I’ll tell you that Meredith Grey exists in a “dark and twisty” place a lot of the time. She’s compassionate and hard-working, but she’s also a bit of a rain cloud, and she openly admits to being distrustful of any hope or light that enters the picture. She frequently talks about not seeing things as black & white, or good & bad. She sees the in-between. She thinks in grey. And that’s a mature position to take, except when it leads to her making some terrible-ass decisions.

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Then, I started thinking about other characters’ last names, and I had Epiphany #2. Or really, it was Epiphany #1, Part B:

Many of the characters’ last names have meanings that represent the personalities and values of the characters themselves.

Have I been living under a rock? Has everyone else been aware of this connection the whole time? Suddenly, I’m questioning everything – including my own name. What day is it? Where am I?

These first few examples had me absolutely convinced that Shonda and the other writers knew exactly what they were doing when they named their characters. Admittedly, some of the names didn’t seem to fit with this theory at first, at least not off the top of my head. Enter Google.

Yang (Cristina)
The “yang” side of the yin-yang symbol is said to represent passion, logic, and strength. The yang is also technically considered the “male side” of the Tao symbol, but I still think this works for Cristina. No, I don’t consider her masculine, but her character did frequently confront stereotypical views of femininity.

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Shepherd (Derek)
Simply enough, a shepherd is a leader and protector. Sounds a bit like Derek, doesn’t it?

Bailey (Miranda)
A “bailey” is an outer enclosure of a castle. How perfect is this? If the hospital were a castle, Bailey would most certainly be the strong, protective barrier.

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O’Malley (George)
I didn’t expect for this name to work with the theory, but a quick Google search taught me that it’s Gaelic for “gentle.” (If you just cooed, “Aww, George!” after reading this, you’re not alone.)

Hunt (Owen)
Focused like a hunter. Pursues what he wants. Dominant.

Burke (Preston)
Possibly my favorite meaning on this list, Burke means “to murder by suffocation.” No, seriously! Now, did Preston literally (or even televisionally) commit homicide? No. But did Cristina’s personality and identity get suffocated in her relationship to him? Definitely.

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As I kept gleefully Googling name meanings, the last-names-match-personalities concept started to lose some of its strength. These names and their meanings are a bit more of a stretch:

Robbins (Arizona)
A robin is an energetic, lively bird, and the name also means “bright and shining.” These both fit pretty well with what we know of Arizona, but it seems a bit too… easy.

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Stevens (Izzie)
Means honorable, which does kinda work for Izzie, but is a bit vague. This meaning could have just as easily been applied to any other character.

Sloan (Mark)
In the UK, “sloan” is apparently a slang term for a rich person. Hmm. This is technically true of Mark, but was probably not an intentional move by Shonda.

Torres (Callie)
Spanish for “towers.” Callie is sort of… mighty and… tower-like, I guess.

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Yeah, okay, that last one was pushing it.

Last but not least, I’d like to give honorable mentions to the names that didn’t fit with this theory no matter how much I manipulated them:

  • Karev means positivity… I know, I’m laughing too.
  • Kepner means weaver of cloaks. Weird. Also, don’t confuse this with Webber, which means weaver of cloths. Big difference.
  • Avery apparently means Elf Ruler. Bahahaha! You know Jackson would be PISSED about that.
  • Also, since the Grey theory doesn’t work with Little Grey’s personality at all, I was hoping that maybe the name Lexie would mean, “weasels her way into Meredith’s heart and everyone else’s” or even, “photographic memory.” No such luck.

At this point, I’m thinking that the connection between name meanings and character personalities is probably more of a coincidence than a conscious plan on Shonda’s part. I’m not sure I care though. Whether it was purposeful or happenstance, it still makes for an interesting idea!