Friday, July 10, 2009

Misadventures of Caroline the Caramel-Apple Ruiner

I have a fairly easy job. I work a register, and cut up samples, I dip things in chocolate. Sure I have to cook, but my main tools are a microwave and a spatula. In fact, if it requires anything more than I microwave to cook it, I don't do it. I don't have the training. I swear to God.

Doesn't mean I can't screw it up.

Today, instead of putting one pound of brown sugar and 4 teaspoons of cinnamon in the apple pie mix (if you don't know what that is, don't worry, it's fairly irrelevant), I put in half a pound of brown sugar. Then I proceeded to make 3 apples with it. Needless to say, CINNAMON FUCKING OVERLAOD. I then felt guilty and stupid for the rest of my shift.

This is just another in a series of issues with my mundane, mind-numbingly boring life. I do a job that doesn't require much more than arms and fingers, and yet I still get upset when I make a simple dumb mistake. You know how I made the mistake? I was distracted thinking about ways I can make my life more interesting. No joke. Because my life, while good, is dull.

This could go somewhere, but it won't. And don't get me wrong, I love my job. I get paid to play with chocolate, and occasionally I get to take home an apple that's deemed "unsellable" for free and eat it and laugh at people who had to pay $5.5o for the same apple. But I'm afraid that this is going to be my life forever. I fear that every job I ever have will eventually lead to this same sentiment: that I'm not doing anything that matters. If I disappeared, my job would be instantly filled. The fear that my presence on Earth wouldn't be missed by anyone but my friends and family is somewhat frightening. I want to do something that not everyone can do. Someday, somehow I'll get there.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Find It Kind of Funny, I Find It Kind of Sad

Well, it's been over a year since I've blogged, but I feel compelled to pick it up again for...reasons. Not concrete reasons, but reasons. That's for sure. I guess it will all come together as I continue to write this.

Nearing the beginning of my fourth and final year as a college student, I begin to feel that all-too-common feeling of dread. I have a frightening sensation of not knowing who I am, where I'm going, why I'm doing what I'm doing, and how the hell I'm going to get to a place that I want to be (or, really, what that place even is). I've realized that in twenty years of life there have been very few times/moments/instances that I have felt like I was truly, completely happy. That sounds worse than it is, because while I don't feel like I've spent a lot of time being elated, for the most part I've been satisfied, and maybe even mildly joyful, but I don't spend the majority of my time being leap-out-of-my-shoes, goofy-grin-on-my-face thrilled with life. I know that's fairly common, but I also know that with the life I have and the things I've done I could definitely have been...happier. More satisfied. Less melancholy.

I've realized that, as an English major, I spend the majority of my time with my nose in a book or my face in front of a computer. I type a lot and I read a lot, and along with that comes a feeling that I spend a lot of time in other people's worlds. I don't live in my own world, I live in Palahniuk's world, or Murakami's world, or Foer's world. I live in whatever world I read about at the time. And while many of those worlds have been wonderful and fascinating, none of them are mine.

Most people would respond to this by saying, "well, be a novelist. Write your own worlds." Here's the thing. I am a terrible creative writer. It comes from reading so much. Anything I write is a rip-off of something written better than what I'm writing. And really, I'm okay with that. I never had aspirations of being a fabulously famous novelist or poet. Honestly, I suck. I've tried to write plays and books, and I just don't do well. They're clunky and awkward, and they are painfully shallow, but that's just fine. I don't something other than my love of rum and cokes driving me to alcoholism anyway.

I've digressed a little, but here's my point: I have no fucking idea how to fix this problem. All the things I've wanted to be have fallen apart, and I haven't managed to pick up the pieces and find something new yet. But I feel like in the process of picking up the pieces I need to do something...big. Different. Out of character. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm looking. And I'm ready for it when it comes and knocks on my door...or maybe when I knock on its door. Who knows.

But, for now, there should be more blogs to look forward to. I'm going to try. It's the best I can do right now.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

The eminent Billy Shakes

I am an English major. I entered this path completely of my own volition. I love to read, I generally enjoy writing, and I have a fairly good time talking about reading and writing, so I naturally thought, "hey! The English major would be a great choice for me." Of course, when I found out that the Film Studies Certificate at the University of Oregon is a part of the English major*, I realized that it was an even more perfect choice for me, because if there's one thing I like more than books it's movies. My eventual realization that I wanted to be a screenwriter (basically, I want to turn the books I love into moves) just made me feel even better about my decision to follow the noble path of the English major. After 5 months in the English major I have realized two things, and here they are. Number 1: any class that has the words "Intro to" in its title and is a part of a year-long series sucks. Number 2: I hate William Shakespeare with a passion I didn't believe possible.

*Of course, after I decided to pursue the Film Studies certificate I realized that the university I was previously attending (which I will not name but may or may not involve Huskies and slightly effeminate colors) had an actual Cinema Studies major. For some reason I didn't think about this before I transferred. This lack of common sense is yet another indication that I should be an English major. I don't know why, but I've been told by a number of people that I'm crazy.

William Shakespeare was a brilliant poet and playwright. Anyone who can write basically an entire play in iambic pentameter (possibly the most aggravating meter of all time) and then use prose with remarkable effect has a certain level of respect from yours truly. I won't lie, I can appreciate a well written play, and almost every one of Shakespeare's plays falls under that heading (I have my doubts about Measure for Measure. What? You haven't heard of it? I rest my case). Romeo and Juliet? Arguably the best love story of all time. Hamlet? A fascinating exploration of the human psyche. Twelfth Night? A brilliant interweaving of plots and characters. So why do I hate Shakespeare with such a passion? Because English majors are forced to not only read EVERYTHING HE'S EVER WRITTEN, but analyze the works until their brain fluid literally oozes out of their ears.

I am currently in the process of writing and essay that analyzes Shakespeare's Sonnet 84. Of course, by "in the process of writing" I mean "in the process of putting off by writing a blog and pretending this essay doesn't matter to my grade at all." For those of you who don't know, Shakespeare's Sonnet 84 is part of the "Young Man" or "Beautiful Youth" sequence, and a part of the "Rival Poet" sub-sequence. It is fairly obnoxious and so ridiculously hard to dissect that I actually can hear my brain cells screaming as I try to understand the perfectly crafted, meticulously metered quatrains that pay homage to some kid who was apparently so beautiful that Mr. Billy Shakes decided that even he may not be skilled enough to accurately describe that beauty. That's right, the whole purpose of these sonnets (as far as I've gathered) is for Shakespeare to try to decide whether or not he should write the poems because they may not be comparable to the actual beauty of the young man. The irony, of course, is that he wrote over 100 sonnets to that effect. So he doesn't know if writing sonnets is a fair way to preserve the beauty of the youth, but he went ahead a wrote them anyway. If that alone is making you feel like your brain might explode, here's what I suggest. Take that feeling, multiply it by ten, and you might be somewhere close to where I am right now.

So, the moral of this story is this: I hate Shakespeare to a point that if I ever become an English professor I will do my best to not mention Shakespeare at all. I entered the English major knowing full well that I wanted to study contemporary literature. Not literature from the Renaissance, not Old English literature, not English Romantic Literature. CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE. So I will not force this ancient, indecipherable sludge upon people who I know don't give a rat's hairy rectum about it. And now that I have sufficiently ranted I am going to go back to trying to prevent my cranium from imploding. Maybe I'll actually understand the point of the damn rhyming couplet at the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reflections on Being an "Alumnus"

I graduated from Henry D Sheldon High School on June 8, 2006. At the point of my graduation I had 42 credits (you need 23 to graduate), 4 years of IHS under my belt, 7 terms of Photography, and (most importantly) I had never missed a single Pep Band game in four years. Now, many would think that the 4 years of IHS would be far more important, but for me and my life in high school, it was Basketball Pep Band (I don't think I ever missed a football game either, even before I was in marching band) that made me who I was. So, almost two years later, I went back for the first time. And along with screaming so hard my lungs actually hurt, I realized a few things about myself.

The first story I have to tell you starts outside the high school. Because I am a loser who hasn't gotten her driver's license yet (mock accordingly if you like), my mother drove me to Henry D Sheldon High School, which I suppose I could now call My Alma Mater. Getting out of the car I said goodbye, grabbed my purse, and proceeded to walk towards the all-too-familiar band room door. After taking a few steps I hear my mother shout "Hey! Don't you need your instrument?" Yep, that's right. After fours years of having my instrument safely tucked into the band room shelves, I completely forgot that I no longer attended that school, and that my instrument was, in fact, in the trunk of our Volkswagen Beetle. So, even though I am approaching 20 years old, for about 30 seconds I completely forgot I was no longer in high school. But let me tell you, that was the last time I forgot my age.

So I walked into the band room, and the first thing I realized was that I didn't know 75% of the people there. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, because for four years I knew EVERYONE. But, of course, I immediately spotted a very familiar face, my comrade-in-arms, Mr. Josh Wilkinson. You see, Josh was one of the only other people in my graduating class who had never missed a game, so it was fitting that he would be there with me. So, after a brief rehearsal in the band room (which, let me just say, hasn't changed at all), we triumphantly marched out to Sheldon's basketball court.

The first thing I noticed about the basketball court was that the signage had changed ever so slightly. The thing is, when I was in high school, Sheldon was a part of the 4A league. Last year the decision was made that Sheldon would be a part of the newly formed 6A league*, so the signs that used to declare the other teams in the 4J district, along with schools from Springfield and Medford and places like that, were now showing names of teams that I had never even heard of.

*This decision was very stupid, but it didn't change that fact that Sheldon kicks a lot of ass. Their football team took state this year, so clearly they're awesome no matter which league you stick them in. Go Irish.

It was at this point that I realized exactly how old I was. While I enjoyed shouting things at the team, and joking with the few friends that I still have in high school, I realized that high school humor is no longer something I find that funny. I also realized that the very obscene things that the OMB and OBB shout at various sporting events were not appropriate in the slightest, which lowered the fun factor ever so slightly (the Alex Poole classic "your mother dresses you funny" did come in handy, however). And apart from having trouble refraining from shouting very profane things, I had massive trouble remember to shout "GO IRISH!" instead of "GO DUCKS!" (ironically, I had a reverse problem at my first Ducks football game).

So, 2 glorious years after my exit from the public school system (though I suppose U of O is still a public school, but whatever), I found myself back on my old turf. And while I can still play my high school's fight song without looking at the music, and even though being at a basketball game still gives me a craving for Junior Mints, and despite the fact that being on those bleachers still scares the living shit out of me, I know now that I am a college girl through and through. Yes, basketball band shaped who I was in high school and introduced me to some of my closest friends, but it's not me anymore. Seeing those kids made me happy because I know that most of them probably feel the same way I do about it, but even more so because I realized that I am no longer one of them. Which is slighlty sad, but very uplifting. Seeing what I used to be made me feel that much better about what I am. Once again, Go Irish. Or Ducks. Whichever.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

One should never go to a party empty-handed

After a very long wait (aka, two weeks after the nationwide release date), I was prepped and psyched to go see Juno, the newest installment in a very exciting series* of intelligent comedies that have been released recently. While most studios choose to put out crap like White Chicks, RV, and Little Man, many (generally independent) studios seem to be choosing to release far more interesting and intellectual comedies. Case in point, Knocked Up, Stranger than Fiction, Superbad (which despite in-your-face vulgarity, genuinely captures the insecurity and vulnerability of the high school geek), and the recent Academy Award winner and Best Picture nominee Little Miss Sunshine. As an avid movie lover (and admitted fan of the occasional "stupid comedy"), I am very excited to see that filmmakers seem to be making a return to a John Hughes-like approach to humor: using true, human emotion, and intermixing humorous situations that are more plausible than ridiculous.

*I use the term series because, even though most of these movies have no intended plot connections, they often share producers, actors, and directors. For example, Judd Apatow and his crew (including Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill), have had a heavy hand not only in recent favorites Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Anchorman, but Apatow also had creative power in the cult TV classic, Freaks and Geeks. "Series" does not imply that the movies go in sequence, or that the characters all know each other. It just implies that they all have a similar outlook: that the outsider is just as, if not more, beautiful than the "perfect" molds of "people" in many movies.

That being said, I have been waiting to see Juno since seeing the first trailer I don't know how long ago. A movie about a cute 16-year-old who gets pregnant after her first sexual encounter and then decides to give the baby to a homogenized suburban couple? Sounds like a good time. And the fact that Michael Cera plays the awkward, lanky, unlikely so-and-so who impregnates our heroine just makes the movie that much more appealing. But what I was really excited about wasn't the cast, but the simple yet undeniably brilliant idea of taking a situation which is already uncomfortable and painful to watch (high school for anyone who is different), and adding the ultimate discomfort (pregnancy). So, here's a recap. Michael Cera, Ellen Page, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Allison Janney in a movie about a girl who is maybe slightly larger than myself (about 5'4" and 115 lbs. after a rainstorm) who ends up pregnant after one carnal adventure with perhaps the most awkward kid since Anthony Michael Hall. What more could you ask for as far as humorous situations go? Very little. All in all, Juno looked to be a recipe for excellence. But in turns out that while being rather funny, Juno isn't your ordinary high school comedy. After seeing the movie that I waited so long for, I walked out of the theatre feeling a blend of emotions I was not expecting. The great thing about Juno was that, while being witty and hilarious, it was also truly heartfelt and honest.

When I went into the thatre, I did not expect that the movie would be dealing with adoption so heavily, and as someone who is adpoted, I was very happy to see a movie that dealt with unwanted pregnancy with adoption as opposed to abortion or the "well, we got pregnant so now we have to get married" mentality (no offense to Knocked Up). In a world (and a country) where teen pregnancy is a growing issue, it's kind of refreshing to encounter a movie that approaches the scenario from a "let's deal with this in a way that's going to make someone elses life better" perspective. Having heard the story of my own adoption, and knowing full well the impact it had on my family's lives, I had serious trouble keeping myself from sobbing loudly from the middle row when the film reached its climax.

I'm not saying that I want to see the end of movies like that capitalize on cheap laughs and shallow storylines, I'm the first to admit that when I'm in a bad mood I turn to that kind of thing. But walking out of Juno I had an influx of confidence in the future of American film. I had a similar feeling walking out of Stranger than Fiction and Little Miss Sunshine last year. I like a hearty laugh, I really do. But at the end of Juno I was even more satisfied because not only did I laugh, I felt. And that, above all, is what movies are all about.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

If you are chilly, here take my sweater

It is a new year. 2008. I've decided that I really love to write, and I don't spend nearly enough time doing it, so I'm going to take a leaf out of the book of Mr. Truman Capps and start myself a blog. And seeing as we are just inside the door of a new year, I've decided to reflect on the last year and all the things that went great, and all the things that went wrong. So here we go.

1. Transfer from UW to UO: Seriously, who saw this coming? Anyone? I didn't think so. But this massive development actually worked out great. After joining the OMB, which is one of the greatest groups I've ever been a part of, I realized that a strong group of people was one of the major things that had been missing in my life. I now have friends that I honestly believe I will have not only throughout college, but my life. I am planning on being a part of the OMB throughout my time at the University of Oregon, and I am very excited about it. My change of school also prompted a change of major, which brings me to big development number 2.

2. Decision to become an English Major: Throughout my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college I had it in my head that I was going to be a Photography major. Not anymore. After a crushing defeat at the hands of the University of Washington Photography Department (aka, the demons of hell), I realized that I love English Literature way more than any person should, and I should just dedicate my life to it. So I am currently studying English Literature with the intent of going to graduate school and studying film. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Caroline, what in God's name are you going to do with that?" I have an answer. I am going to be a screenwriter. I plan on writing adapted screenplays based on the books that I love and I think would make great movies. It's a little egotistical and self-indulgent, but I feel like it's a very good path for me. So I am pumped. I'm starting with Invisible Monsters, and I'm starting this year.

3. Studying abroad in Italy: I spent 2 1/2 months in Rome. It was rather odd. I left with severe allergies, a stomach virus, far less money that I got there with, and a tattoo on my lower back. I realized that while Rome is rather interesting, I love Paris (I spent a weekend there), and Switzerland is the closest thing to Heaven I've ever experienced (despite severe allergies...). I learned Italian enough to be conversational, and promptly decided that I was going to start learning French. Again...go figure. It's been a strange year.

4. Relationship rollercoaster: At the beginning of the year I left a relationship that was, shall we say, a relation-shit. I followed it up with copious amounts of alcohol and moderate depression. However, on Halloween a miracle occurred and I met someone who has made my life very very good. After about a month of awkwardness I grew a pair and told him how much I liked him, and after about a week I found myself in a relationship that is so good that sometimes I don't believe it's real. But it is, and I couldn't be happier.

So, overall, it's been a pretty good year. As is any year in my life, it's been fairly odd, but I can deal with that. I just hope the rest of this year goes the same way the last one ended.