I'm So Great: The Rantings of a Jaded Youth

When I grow up, I want to be just like me.

Little Kids Are Weird and Often Boring January 24, 2011

I was hanging out with my family yesterday and, after struggling to follow a rapid-speed Spanish conversation about life on my great-grandma’s ranch in Mexico, I defaulted to the kids table like I always do. My cousins are all (oh god, already?) high school age and younger and I was hanging out with the middle school crowd. I got to hear such gems as “I poisoned this guy in Assassin’s Creed and he went like this *spastic movements* and died! Then I poisoned a monk and he was all *the same spastic movements* and he died!” and “You know what my favorite weapon is in Dragon Quest 9? The bastard sword!”

I forgot about that age. Any excuse to say a curse word in an acceptable context is used as often as possible, its meaning stretched to the breaking point. It’s so funny to watch them lower their voices to curse conspiratorially and then look at me with that sneaky smile of a kid who knows his mom would give him a serious earful if she heard that kind of language. I apologize in advance to my aunt for introducing them to Red vs. Blue, which had a lot more cursing than I remember but was just as hilarous.

And while I’m apologizing, I was also really annoying as a tween, so the rest of this article is going to be apologies.

To my late grandpa: I’m sorry that I thought you would want to know the expansive and convoluted love polygons of Ranma 1/2. I honestly can’t believe you let me go on as long as you did.

To my drama teacher, Mr. Blackley: Turning a Johnny the Homocidal Maniac comic into a monologue for Drama 2 tryouts seemed like a good idea at the time, but would have been a more effective display of my acting abilities if you had known in advance that I am not violent. Sorry you had to worry about me going into a berserker rage at the mention of the word “wacky” and murdering you and my class mates.

To my Spanish teacher, Mr. Tritt: Blowing bubbles from the frontmost desk in class was fun for me, but I imagine incredibly distracting for you and the rest of the class. Also, I’m sorry that it became something of a fad for a while there.

To the substitute teacher who happened to be in my first period class when I decided it was Fake Mustache Wednesday: I actually do feel a little bad about this one. I didn’t think you would assume that because someone in a fake mustache offered you a fake mustache that it was a school dress up day and, due to me always getting into class 15 minutes early, don a mustache before anyone else had arrived, much to the confusion of the sleepy student body, who filed in one by one to see the substitute, my sister, and I wearing cheesy fake mustaches. I’m also sorry that I didn’t buy a yearbook for that school because I’m pretty sure Fake Mustache Wednesday made it in there and it was something that I did on a whim because I had a backpack full of mustaches. For lots of blurry pictures of ugly kids in fake mustaches (and an extended fight scene with my giant penis pillow), click here!

Mom: Shut up. But also, thanks for listening to all the absolutely terrible stories I came up with in middle school. I still have the ridiculously large 3-ring binder full of them and they get funnier with time.

I’d like to make a blanket apology to any teachers who had to teach around me dressed up in various costumes (mostly as a pirate) throughout my middle and high school career.

All that said, I’m the best.

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Twins January 13, 2011

I have a twin named Ashley. When I tell people I have a twin, the reaction is generally along the lines of, “There’s another one of you out there somewhere?!” Not exactly. We were born on the same day, but we’re fraternal twins. We are very obviously different people. As babies, we were easy to tell apart even in the same outfit. I was completely bald for a bit and she had lots of brown hair right out of the womb. It was more obvious when I grew bright blonde hair and she got glasses. Something about the word “twins” turns people’s brains off though. Ashley and I were in class together for three years when we started school. Our three kindergarten teachers (it was a strange set-up) basically refused to learn our names. We were refered to as, “OH LOOK, HERE COME THE TWINS! WHICH ONE’S WHICH?! I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU GIRLS APART!” I can’t understand that at all. Not only did we look completely different, but we also acted completely different. Even at that age, we were different people. I could only assume that they were all too lazy to learn which name went where.

As proof of what I’m saying, here are some photos of us as children.

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Oh wait, that’s just me. But I can’t think of another reason to show this picture and I was clearly the coolest kid ever.

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That’s my twin in the back there. Notice how she’s holding a lizard and I’m apparently a 6 year old hussy. Completely different personalities!

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And of course, in the same soccer uniform. MY GOD IT’S UNCANNY HOW ALIKE WE LOOK.

When a new principal came to our school as we were entering third grade, she demanded that all twins be split up into different classes. At the time, I couldn’t understand why it mattered, although I was glad that I wasn’t going to have someone copying off my homework anymore. Now though, I really appreciate her splitting us up. It not only forced people to see us as separate people with different strengths and weaknesses, but also made me and Ashley make our own friends and operate more independantly of each other. It’s easy to count on one person to be there as a companion to the exclusion of all others and as twins, we learned from birth that there would always be another person to confide in and play with. Taking us our of our comfort zones helped us grow as people.

By the time I hit high school, Ashley had been held back a grade and we had our own bffs to hang out with at school and on the weekends. It completely threw me, therefore, when my Ceramics teacher approached Ashley during lunch to yell at her for cutting class all the time (which I never had but it’s a really long, stressful story about sickness). Up until then, I figured my teachers and extended family were just never sure which name was assigned to which kid. Surely they could tell us apart? It’s not like the only difference is a couple of moles in different places. We’re not even the same height or shape! Also, and I hate to bring it up even though it’s really funny, Ashley didn’t shower for about ten years. She had this very carefully cultivated ungodly reek. We were both of the black t-shirt persuasion in high school, but I had much better hygiene and I brushed my hair and I was pretty put out that my teacher (who I’ll never forgive for not being Paul Dinello) couldn’t smell the difference.

Once again, this is Ashley.
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And here we are together all growed up.
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An Introverted Ramble and Some Love for my Nana December 9, 2010

Hey guys, I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long and that my updates have been so sporadic. I always hate reading these kind of posts, but I know it’s sometimes necessary to tell people you’re not dead. It’s been a busy couple months and I’ve been in my own head for a lot of it having something of an existential crisis, which I finally recognized yesterday.

Every year my nana, Lee Fontana*, gathers up Christmas presents for kids involved in the Police Activies League (P.A.L.) and yesterday she had her annual party for all the contributors, which ends with the Hemet and San Jacinto policemen carting away all the presents covering every square inch of her living room. Now when I think of some old woman giving presents to kids she doesn’t know, I just assume she’s loaded and has nothing better to do with her money. I can’t help it. I mean, who else would be able to do something like that? My nana, however, is 75, lives on a fixed income from social security, and lives out in Hemet, Ca so she can make ends meet. In order to get this endeavor organized in time for Christmas, she starts asking people for money and presents in August and doesn’t stop until December. She goes to restaurants, stores, and people to literally beg for her cause. Every year she swears she’ll never do it again because it’s so much hard work, and every year she realizes that she’s the only one who is willing to put that kind of effort into kids she doesn’t know; that if she stopped going out there and squeezing corporations and generous people for as much as they’re willing to give and then also giving to the cause as much as she herself can afford, these kids will not have even the three Christmas presents each that she can give them.

It’s inspiring to see this five-foot-tall, perpetually-frazzled Jewish woman going out there and doing something for her community, and I wish I had something I was as passionate about. Watching her talk with and shovel pizza into the entire Hemet Police force as if they were her michevous sons made me ache for the same kind of familiarity. I feel like we’re getting closer to it than we were a few years ago, but the distance and the years lost make it a slow process. It was hard to keep in touch with my dad’s parents for the years I wasn’t speaking to him and even once I had started again. My Grandpa Polo’s recent death made me realize that I had him around my whole life and I barely knew anything about him. Now I have my other grandparents in my life again and they’ve been reaching out to me and I don’t know how long they’ll be around to reach out. It made me realize that I’m an adult now and it’s my responsibility to meet them half-way and get to know them and rebuild my relationship with them while they’re still around. None of my four remaining grandparents seem like they’re ready to go, but neither did my Grandpa Polo. That said, I have learned more about my grandparents in the past year than I have my entire life and I’m grateful for that.

Alternately, watching Nana’s passion for her cause made me realize that I’m not doing much with my life. I know I’m only 23 and I have time to figure out what I want to do, but I feel like I hold back because I’m lazy and easily-distracted and, when it all comes down to it, I worry about failing. I don’t want to put everything I have into something and then be shattered when it collapses in on itself. I worry that subconsciously I feel like even if my endeavors don’t go up in flames, I shouldn’t devote my whole ass to them because I will very quickly get bored with any one thing I’m doing, thus dousing my flame before it even gets started. It’s hard for me to talk about my misgivings about myself though. I’ve spent so much time presenting a strong, confident image to the world that I’ve become that image. I think if I dwell too much on my worries, I’ll become those too.

So for the new year, I need to make more time for my family; for my dad’s family because of the time we’ve spent apart, and for my mom’s family because my work has been preventing me from joining in on holidays and get-togethers. I also need to make more time to put my whole self into everything I do because I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that everything you do should be your best work. Everything you put your name on should be worthy of your name. No more holding back.

*I wanted to note that the only places my Nana is on the internet are her slightly dusty myspace and facebook pages. I’ve linked her myspace above because she can at least work that one. If you’d like to get ahold of her to donate for next year, you can e-mail her at Leesbug@netscape.com. She’d really appreciate the help. Please don’t spam her.