July 30, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

When I first arrived at college, I enjoyed meeting new people, taking new classes, joining new clubs and organizations, and living my own independent life. What enchanted me most, however, was the dining experience. Three times a day, I was allowed to walk into a veritable restaurant with dozens of options and go hog wild. My favorite part was the endless amount of soda I could drink.

This actually caused me some serious problems. Lack of sleep in the dorms, coupled with my intense love for carbonated beverages, lead to my habit of drinking coke all day every day. When I wasn't sucking down the sugary, bubbly, caffeinated mead, I was running to and from the bathroom. This unsustainable lifestyle caught up with me one day in the computer lab. I was typing a paper when suddenly my chest felt something like this:

This kinda kept happening. I called my doctor/cousin to ask if I was going to die.

Cutting back immediately cured the problem:

But caffeine wasn't the only thing that brought me joy in the college dining experience. I all but fell in love with a dish called the Mexican Lasagna. It was so deliciously unhealthy that eating it made me feel blissfully alive and peacefully dead at the same time. Each day that I entered the commons and saw it on the menu was like Christmas and Cinco de Mayo all rolled into one.

Then, one fateful day, the Mexican Lasagna disappeared. It vanished from the menu. Even more disturbingly, no one was talking about it. There were no protests. No riots. No marching in the streets (really there was just one street but we could have marched in it).

I went into a state of physical and emotional withdrawal.

Every Monday of my sophomore year, I sent the same email to the people in the commons.
By the fall of junior year, I had all but given up hope. I still sent the emails as a matter of principle, but my heart wasn't in the fight anymore. Time had dulled my fury and my desire. Then, one cold and rainy Monday in September, I got a call from a strange and mysterious voice.

"Get down to the commons. Now."

The student didn't identify himself, but he sounded excited. Imagine my elation when I looked down at the menu. Mexican Lasagna!
Don't get excited. This story doesn't have a happy ending. One week after the return of the M.L., the commons put out a student survey asking for everyone's favorite and least favorite dishes. Mexican Lasagna was hands-down voted the school's least favorite dish and consequently was banished from the menu forever. It wasn't even a multiple choice deal. Among the hundreds of dishes served, students thought to write it down in overwhelming majority.
It's a cruel, cruel world.

July 29, 2010

Step Up 3D

Spoiler Alert if you have not yet seen Step Up 3D (which you haven't by the date of this post because I went to a sneak premiere, sucka!)

I love the fact that I have included a spoiler alert for a Step Up movie, as if plot matters. What am I going to give away, that they did this?:

Allow me to set the scene for this premiere. I have a friend who is real scrappy, and she scored us some free passes. A group of us walked into the theater, only to be accosted by loud crunk music and free t-shirts that said BFABB. We weren't sure what that meant. It turned out to mean "Born From A Boom Box," which we discovered was a deep and emotional concept in the movie for dancers. Yo.

We found our seats, then heard some important announcements from the Box, 97.9 FM guy:

Then came the live dancers. First up was a guy who was in the top 25 of "So You Think You Can Dance," meaning no one had any clue who he was. He got up and gyrated while some assistant held up a small boom box/cd player toward the crowd. We cheered, especially when we figured out we were sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIS MOM!

Then came the dance troupe. I have to say that they were very good. They invited audience members to come to the front and learn a small routine that they clearly hadn't planned out beforehand. Some of my friends went up. They did well, but they were chumpified by a fly little 7-year-old B Girl who was mad twisted, which I think is the hip-hop-dancer-lingo way to say that she was one talented little girl who showed them up.

One of the dancers ended up stepping on her, which was a highlight of the night.

One grueling but entertaining hour later, the movie started. They weren't stingey with themes or plot lines, which included love and betrayal, dance versus education, an exploration of the blurry lines between friendship and love, following your dreams to film school, family loyalty, a home and legacy at stake, loss of loved ones, sick dance battles, and a few other ideas. All in 3D.

The best part about the movie was that a woman next to us was actually crying throughout the entire movie. Let me say that again: A human being was crying during the emotional parts of Step Up 3D.

Several plot resoultions and one strange Slurpee scene later, the movie ended and we left. This is how we felt:

It was a magical night.

July 28, 2010


Growing up, my sister always had an innate proclivity for low to moderate levels of rebellion. The occasional cigarette, a fake i.d., a tattoo here or there, etc. This nature played itself out in her dating life. The southern, truck driving, farmer guy was a deliberate contradiction to her high society upbringing in Palm Beach.

The ultra religious youth group leader was her way saying "Screw you. You can't predict me" to all who thought they had her pegged.

Then came the fun-loving, fraternity, homecoming king who...well, he was actually a pretty predictable selection.

(Drawing hats clearly posed a challenge for me.)

When it came time for her to choose a husband, she outdid herself once again by bringing my brother-in-law (or B.I.L. as I like to call him) into our lives.

My first encounter with this strange and wondrous enigma appropriately set the scene for how he would rock our little family's world. I had flown to South Florida for Easter to meet up with my parents, sister, and her new fiance. We all met at her apartment before driving to dinner. B.I.L. said hello as if he didn't care.

This, coupled with his visible tattoos and his mouthful of dip made me know that the events that were about to transpire were going to be good. I was not disappointed. What happened next would define B.I.L's role in our lives forever.

My mom and I were assigned to ride with him to the restaurant while my father and sister would ride in another car. Soon into the drive, a car cut us off. Well, B.I.L. would have none of that. He forced that car right off the road and did this:

I looked over at my mom and saw this:

It was like watching a firework, soaring up into the night sky only to explode forever in a blaze of glory and self destruction. Right then and there I prayed this relationship would last.

I don't mean to give the impression that it was all smooth sailing between me and B.I.L. I was a little concerned when I saw this:

Then there was the time B.I.L wasn't so happy with me. He was teaching me how to play the most awesome video game, "Left 4 Dead." I am terrible at video games, so he kept looking back and forth between split screens to maneuver his own character while also giving me advice for what to do with mine. You know, for maximum zombie fragging. This resulted in two days worth of vertigo and this:

I tried to make it up to B.I.L. by helping him with some yard work at the house. B.I.L. got a little distracted when he found some extra gasoline for the hedge trimmer. He poured it out on the drive, yelled to me, "watch this!," lit a match, and then danced around the gas fire. It didn't really end well for B.I.L.
Though it's fun to point out all the bad-to-the-bone characteristics of B.I.L., I must concede that he is an awesome guy. He's a great husband, father, friend, and of course, B.I.L. And he's hilarious, into sci fi, and rents jet skis.

All in all, B.I.L. has been an excellent addition to our family. What I admire most is his life philosophy:

There's just so much to learn from B.I.L.

July 23, 2010

From B to A

Though I may not be good at sports, I have always loved them. Kinda. Well, I've always really enjoyed them at times.

The first goal I ever scored in a soccer game was an accident. I didn't even know I had scored. My usual tactic was to begin kicking wildly when the ball came by until it was no longer near me. Then I would look up and pray that it had gone in a somewhat appropriate direction. In this particular instance, I kicked, looked up, and then someone got in my way. I figured another player had intercepted it and play had continued. But then everyone started lining up at the center of the field. Someone even gave me a high five.

In middle school, our soccer team was divided into the A Team (the good players) and the B Team (the decent to terrible players). My friend and I were on the A Team! Just kidding, we were on the B Team. But that was soon to change.

Jack was voted best hair in our senior yearbook.

Our chance came just after winter break. During our time off from school, our coach decided to hold a practice but hardly anyone showed up because school was not in session. The coach was mad and said that as punishment to the A Team, he was going to start Jack and me in the next game. It was insulting, but we didn't complain. We took our A Team jerseys and reported to the bus pick-up before the next game.

This is when I noticed a very important detail. When we got there, the coach seemed to have forgotten that we didn't belong. He didn't do a very good job keeping track of his players, so I think he just figured we belonged for real. He played me the whole game!

After the game, he never asked for our jerseys back, so we kept 'em. When it came time to report to the bus for the next A-Team game, I again turned to Jack.

We sat on the bus in our uniforms, reassuring the other suspicious A Team players that we were supposed to be there. That's when one of the star players arrived and tried to get on the bus, but it was full. Jack and I got real nervous.

The coach actually denied this player entrance on the bus because it was full. We made it!

We continued playing in all the A games, as well as the B games. We had successfully snuck onto the better team despite our lack of talent. At the end of the season, you'll never guess that happened.

And that's how I got my only award ever in sports. Through deceit.

July 22, 2010

North Carolina

When I was a kid, my parents always took me to the mountains of North Carolina for the summer. It had everything you could want: mountains to climb on, forests to romp through, lakes to swim in, rope swings to get your leg tangled in so you accidentally do some sort of fumbled bungee jump before smacking into the rocks on shore... I loved everything about it. Everything except...camp.

Other than that, the summers were great. They were also a bit dangerous. Several incidents stick out in my mind.

I always enjoyed hanging out with my cousin. He was older, taller, stronger, and pretty much better than me at everything.

On one occasion, we were climbing a tree. Of course, he made it up the tree faster and higher than I did, so on the way down I tried to shimmy down the trunk a little too quickly in a vain attempt to prove my worth. I ended up falling off the tree.

I had the continued good fortune of landing directly on a wasps' nest. Those suckers got all up in my shorts and stung me repeatedly while I ran around in circles screaming like a fool.

I was stung so many times and had so much poison in my system that I hallucinated.

It was so awesome. When I was a bit older, my younger cousin and I got lost in the woods for several hours. I tried to keep her from panicking.

Finally, there was the time I took a dare to swing off the rope swing without my bathing suit on, only to be stopped by a jet ski carrying a father and his two daughters. They asked for directions immediately after I hit the water. I tried to stir up the mud around me while pointing him toward the north part of the lake, when my cousin thought it would be a good idea to toss my bathing suit to me.

North Carolina was great!