Friday, April 21, 2006

Finals: Isn't it About...Time?

To me, finals are like these distant cousins who for months keep sort of hinting that they're going to come visit you sometime, but refuse to tell you exactly when. Then one day as you're just getting out of the shower there's a knock at your door and there they are! And your house is a mess, and you've got no extra beds for them to sleep in, and your friends are coming over in less than an hour to take you out to dinner, and you've got your whole life to worry about for goodness' sake, but here they are. Sitting on your couch waiting to be entertained while their misbehaved children make a bigger mess of the already established mess that was once your living room. But no matter how much you want to tell them to just get lost already, you can't because...because they're family! Family with mob connections!

Now, at first Finals were just kind of annoying. They followed me around the apartment, guilted me into taking them to meet my friends, visited my classes, that sort of thing. But now they've started to turn nasty. They keep telling all my associates these embarrassing stories about when I was younger, spreading untrue rumors about me to people I don't even know that well, and hitting up everyone they see for money. Worse, they push me to do all sorts of things that I shouldn't. They put all sorts of delectable but desperately unhealthy foods in front of me, foods which are bound to murderate my delicate girlish figure. I abandon my social life to entertain them, I get mad at my friends because of them, they keep me up all night just talking about nothing. To quote a friend who was sort of quoting me, "Not helping."

All this wouldn't be so bad except that my Finals tend to bring along with them their close family friend, a bratty little kid named Proficiencies. The problem with Proficiencies is that he happens to have some very important parents, and he knows it. So Proficiencies has no problem demanding all of your time. In fact, Proficiencies is even able to distract you from Finals themselves (which Finals punishes you for quite dearly afterward). And annoying as Proficiencies is, there's absolutely nothing you can do except bend to his every whim and accomodate him, unless you want to offend his parents. I do not want to offend his parents. Your future semester* depends upon what his parents think of you. Fortunately, Proficiencies doesn't stay nearly so long as Finals, but he has this weird way of leaving you all obsessed with his visit. Did Proficiencies give his parents a good enough report of you? Does Proficiencies like you better than he does the other actors at your school? What could you have done to make Proficiencies like you better? Why, WHY did you tell Proficiencies to wait for just a minute while you took care of something else? It's all very distressing.

Thankfully, Finals have promised to stay for only a week. And while they do a lot of rotten things, Finals at least tend to leave when they say they're going to leave. Until then, though, I apologize to all friends, hobbies, interests, neatfreaks, social engagements, and dependents. I'm sorry that I've been neglecting or abusing you all. But you see, Finals are here. And Finals must not be denied. Not until next Tuesday, anyway.**

*And possibly eternity

**Though of course, on next Tuesday Finals' ugly nephews Packing and Moving are coming over. But they're another story altogether.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Scents and Sensibility

So I have a bit of a heightened sense of smell, I think to compensate for my somewhat poor eyesight and unreasonably loud voice. I'm very smell-sensitive (or scentsitive! Huh? Huhhh?) in that scents will effect me quite a bit. For example, if someone so much as opens a bag of Red Vines in my near vicinity, I get very sick to my stomach. The smell of rose bushes from twenty feet away will always make me think of home. One whiff of Glacier Bay by Bath and Body Works will make me fall in love. It's pretty intense.

And while I can always tell when dinner's about to be ready and I could most likely find Froot Loops from any distance (just follow your nose!), this obviously carries some downsides as well. For example, there's a particular cologne or something - I know I only smell it on guys - and I don't know exactly what the scent is, but it makes me automatically hate the person who owns it. Like, I actually cannot stand them. It's hard to describe the scent - it's like a horrible mix of cheap musk, thrift store leather, and sweat, with a little hair grease or rotten citrus thrown in there for color. I don't know what this is, but if I ever do I'm going to sue whoever manufactures in it. This odor is so abrasive to me that I will automatically think bad thoughts about whoever wears it and avoid them as much as humanly possible. Don't worry though, friends of mine, I don't currently know anyone who smells this way - because I refuse to know people with this oppressive odor. It's a scent that usually hangs around sleazy-looking computer store guys with moustaches and slicked hair who follow me around the store treating me like an idiot regardless of how many times I tell them I don't need their help (I don't get these guys - it's like they look at me and think, "Look it's a girl! Wearing pink! She obviously doesn't know what she's doing here, plus she's not very bright, plus she totally wants me, so I should just stick close to her and make really patronizing comments. Yeah, then she'll definitely fall for me"). It's not a happy thing. Guys, girls, people, things - never underestimate the power of smell. Oh boy. Especially when it comes to dating. I don't know how it is for women, but when it comes to men I know a sweet-smelling dude with average features automagically becomes at least a point hotter than a really hot dude who smells gross*. Seriously. As for women, I don't care how good of friends we are - if your apartment smells like BO or too much garlic I'm not going to hang out with you. At least, not at home. Sorry.

All that having been said, I now list some of my very favorite olfactory delights (in no particular order):
- Clinique Happy (For Women)
- Glacier Bay by Bath and Body Works (For Men)
- Boss by Hugo Boss (the stuff that smells like vanilla)
- Gap Ohm
- Brownies
- Rose bushes
- Baby powder
- Cut grass
- Wrapping paper
- Chicken pot pie (home made - by my mom)
- Brut aftershave (but only if you're my father)
- Secret Platinum w/ Olay Conditioners - Velvet Powder
- Oranges
- Pears
- Rain
- Popcorn
- Books (Old and New)
- New cars
- New clothes

Some things I probably shouldn't enjoy smelling, but I really really do:
- Gasoline
- Car exhaust
- Chalk dust
- Nail polish
- Dry-erase markers
- Sharpies
- Unlit cigarettes
- Swimming pools/Chlorine

And finally, a couple of scents I just can't stand:
- Red Vines
- Other people's sweat
- Metal
- Milk (even if it's fresh)
- Honey
- Eau de Hate Cologne
- Passionate Kisses by Victoria's Secret
- Cigarette smoke on people's clothing
- Unwashed, unrinsed dishes (particularly whatever someone in my apartment left "soaking" next to the sink for like 12 years)
- Unshowered Male
- Halitosis
- Cooked broccoli
- My refridgerator
- My freezer

Okay, now, I don't know what the point of this blog was. I was about to try and summarize the "main point" or something right here in this last paragraph, but now I realize I didn't really have one. Just know that I'm very scent-oriented, and so if I suddenly stop hanging around you and you just can't figure out why, know that there's a chance that it isn't your abrasive personality alone. It may just be your body odor**.

*Actually, I once put off a breakup for like a week and half just because every time I got near the guy, I'd catch a whiff of his Very Sexy for Him (Victoria's Secret), which he happened to wear just exceptionally well, and then I'd forget why it was I wanted to break up in the first place (if I remembered I wanted to break up at all).
**Because the thing is, how do you tell somebody that they smell weird? I don't think you can.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Weeping, Wailing, and Teeth-Gnashing: My Thoughts

I'm thinking of crying more often. Not because there's anything wrong or I really feel like crying or anything; just because I think I should.

See, it occurs to me that other people cry a lot more than I do. And I don't just mean during sacrament meeting. No, this extends to all kinds of things. People cry at movies, plays, break-ups, actual traumatic events...everything. Throughout the course of my life with friends and particularly roommates, I've seen people cry many, many times. But the last time anybody saw me cry for real, I'm pretty sure, was my junior year of high school, when I came home crying after an atrocious day and ran into my mother in the kitchen. That's it. Oh, I've cried on my own a couple times a year since then, but when it comes to witnesses, I'm always the only dry eye in the house. I'm starting to wonder if I'm missing out on something.

It appears that tears* can be useful in a variety of circumstances. For one, it makes a person seem so very sincere. I can look you straight in the eyes and say "I'm really very sad right now" for hours if I want to, but you'll never believe me the way you will if a couple drops of salty liquid slide down my cheeks**. But there's a host of other sweet perks to be found in the world of the weeping. Now it's time for a few stories.

First story. I saw the last travelling Broadway show of "Les Miserable" they ever performed in Portland, OR when I was about 17 years old. The group I went with accidentally bought one too few tickets, so we all chipped in and bought whatever single ticket they had last minute, which just happened to be on the orchestra level. Difficult as it was for me to be separated from the group, I immediately and eagerly volunteered for the better seat (everyone else was on the second balcony). After the show I met up with my friends and everyone started sharing the moments that had made them burst into tears. They turned to me expectantly. "What part made you cry?" they asked. I stared. "Um." "You didn't cry?!" "Well," I said, "I came close to almost crying a couple of times." You should have seen the looks they gave me. The shock! The horror! I was branded cold hearted at best, completely heartless at second-to-worst. Men, women, all twenty-something of my friends. I'd never thought it was such a big deal. I mean, I absolutely loved the show. It was extremely moving for me. I just didn't ruin my mascara as a result, that's all.

Next story. The last time I had to cry on stage was for this play I was in right before I graduated from high school. Basically this role required me to sit on the stage and cry for two hours a night while the rest of the show went on - no exits, no entrances, nothing. Just me and the waterworks. I experimented with a variety of different approaches, finally settling on a decidedly external approach (they tried getting me to go from the inside out but they weren't very good at it and all that happened was I got really sad). Well, there was one performance where I got myself to start crying and then I couldn't stop. I walked backstage at intermission, tears streaming down my face. My male friends in the cast sort of stood around me awkwardly until one of them (playing the part of an ally, no less) finally burst out with, "Julie, you've got to stop crying! I feel automatically guilty and I don't even know what I've done!"

Final story. Last year I went to see "The Testaments"*** in Salt Lake with some friends, including another guy friend of mine I sat next to. By the end of the movie I could hear him sniffling in a familiar fashion, so naturally I shifted uncomfortably in my chair (I was not looking forward to a repeat of the Les Miz experience). He, misunderstanding the gesture, reached out and took hold of my hand. Apparently he thought this would be some kind of sweet bonding experience for us, the impetus for many a steamy relationship to come (Hey, remember that time we cried during the Testaments? We must have a cosmic connection!). But then he looked over and met my blank, dry-eyed stare. That put an end to that.

Thus we see that a simple spin of the waterworks can win a gal friends, sheer power, and unwanted suitors--uhh, I mean dates. That's in addition to credibility and general respect. Now I don't cry much by nature, and almost never unintentionally, but given all this evidence I'm starting to think maybe I ought to allow it a little more often. And I don't mean just when I'm watching "Stepmom" or "A Little Princess." An acting teacher I had once recommended daily yoga and drinking lots of water. Maybe I'll try that.

*Hey, that rhymes!
**Okay, so that's one of the grosser descriptions of crying I've written lately
***Of One Fold and One Shepherd