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Archive for the ‘Childhood’ Category

Christ alive — I’m not sure I recall how to write for my very own private audience any more. And it took about nine tries to remember my own password. A similar thing happens when I’ve missed a few pizza and taco nights worth of visits to the gym and the only way I can remember my locker combination is to imagine a woman shaped like the three digit code 34-8-38 (i.e. an apple core). I feel comfortable sharing that because you’ll never guess which one in the dressing room belongs to me. I’ll give you a clue though, I always try for the one that someone graffitied in perfect 7th grade detention handwriting “I H8 U!”

I’ve taken up a weekly residence over at Badass Digest where I mostly write about the resurgence of rad music videos – a true amalgamation of my favorite things. For full disclosure’s sake I’ll tell you that I gave said column the title “Holy Hunter of Music Videos” because I really thought it was funny how at first glance it appears to read: “Holly Hunter of Music Videos”. It may come as a shock that I wasn’t on all of the pot when this was decided. Then the comments came, “I always mistake the title for ‘Holly Hunter of Music Videos!'” I want to reply and explain but then realize I’d be essentially explaining that yes, I have a full-blown case of idiot. Instead I freeze up and google image search a pair of unlikely animal friends to clear my head. Wait, I uh…

Anyway, a perk of the gig is to occasionally have the opportunity to sit down with a well-known type, engage ourselves in conversation and share with the masses. This generally inspires zero performance anxiety on my end until someone mentions the words ‘video’ or ‘camera’. And I feel like I just exchanged my irrational fear of my grandparents’ swimming pool cleaning robot for a ONE EYED RECORDING DEVICE!

I’m determined to get over these silly jitters by discussing them, thus the wench boob grabbing header and word dump below it shall be seen again. This is as close as I’ll ever come to stripping on the internet.

The root of my fear begins with an introduction to this clip for some (a pleasant revisit for others) – Luther Hegg’s speech from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. While other folks stuck to a predictably safe round of applause my paternal grandfather, Cleo used to shout “AAAAAATTA BOOOOOOOOOY, LUTHER!” to me from the audience after (sometimes during) every school play , choir performance, etc. It was one of those moments I secretly lived for and claimed to loathe in certain circles mostly made up of girls my age wearing the real Keds. Cleo also implemented the Swartz Family visit to Fuddruckers post Mormon Baptism that quickly became tradition. In any case, I don’t think I need more examples of  just how cool I thought he was at the time. And forgive me because I was far too young to know that wasn’t home of the world’s greatest hamburger. I’m getting off topic.

There was one performance in particular when I guess the confident-on-stage me fell right the hell apart. My parents had recently divorced and we’d stopped attending The Church of Cheese and Crackers of Rattle Day Snakes. The devout Mormons in our family didn’t approve and no longer came to my performances. I think only one of my parents had made it to the Fifth Grade Graduation Showcase. I had a small solo in a shitty number our lazy music teacher had written about exercising. Seriously, my shining moment was belting forth the line “EXERCISING, EXERCISING, HOW I LOVE MY EXERCISING!” at the top of my ten-year old lungs to a gymnasium full of video camera wielding parents with horrified looks upon their faces. And no Grampa Cleo in sight which meant no “Atta boy, Luther” and the resulting “Graaaaampa, I’m a GIIIIIIIIIRL!”

A few years later my new mom signed me up for a class at the Plano Children’s Theater called Sizzling Shakespeare. This is also where you have to ask yourself if a thirteen year old girl should sizzle. My parents narrowly escaped that tragedy because I sure as hell didn’t. My charisma reserves were tapped. On our first day of class during an introductory activity when asked to take the shape of a household appliance I had the nerve to become a human blender. They all watched as I spun around in circles until I became too dizzy and toppled over knocking a nearby chair on its side. Yes, I was unintentionally signing myself up to play the role of Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I didn’t execute the part perfectly before an audience because of the whole newfangled stage fright plus missing Grampa thing.

What I’m getting at is – how in the world have I held onto these feelings for so long and how can I get rid of them?

I’ve had piping hot radioactive fluid injected into my face since then, so shouldn’t I be unfazed by a task so seemingly puny?

Crap, I think I’m having a bona fide “I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE ANYMORE!” moment.

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You should know that everything and nothing has happened since I spilled my jumping beans about retarded werewolves five months ago.

I fell in and out of like with a few people on my accidental quest for a new teammate in life.  The good news is that I’m pretty sure that only One Third of that bunch is still harboring adverse feelings toward me.  I regret leaving a grubby little snail trail of feelings behind me.  Don’t think I haven’t slid around on them myself.

You could trace them all the way back to Six Flags Over Texas circa 1995.  That was the time my internet boyfriend from AOL Teen Chat: The Half Pipe was going to meet me, Daisy1356, in the flesh for the first time.  I can’t believe there was actually a time in which we had to rely solely on strangers’ descriptions of themselves, and man were they idealistic.  I’m pretty sure mine was wholly inaccurate, too.  And by “pretty sure” I mean I was at least four years older with a tan just a smidge lighter than Idi Amin’s.  Anyway, Adrian was unsurprisingly nothing close to what he’d described.  Instead of respectfully explaining myself face to face, I tucked tail, ran the opposite direction toward all things Mommy and Daddy, and changed my screen name upon returning home.

That was a very long path to something I wanted to address:  the fact that explaining undesirable feelings in person doesn’t seem to have a more positive effect.  But I’m an adult and I can’t go on letting just everyone assume I’ve been disemboweled in a freakish amusement park accident (or can I) never to be seen or heard from again.

However painful and embarrassing, I want to remember the moment in which the aforementioned One Third said, “Normally I’d say that’s a beautiful sky, but right now it just looks like a shitty watercolor” while gazing upward. That was obviously immediately after I spewed some unpleasant feelings aloud.  There is no smooth way to tell someone that you’re not the right fit for them, but that was definitely the smoothest way anyone has ever called me an asshole.

A couple days later I met with the manager of a local Italian market where I was hoping to score some weekend catering work (this was all part of my grand scheme to gather extra funds for traveling and so far it’s granted me one ticket to Chicago come September where I’ll visit with an extraordinary friend and wangle my very first tattoo).

I was instantly distracted by a handsome vision behind the deli counter.  He was back lit bright, nestled between cheeses, and stood tall beneath a dangling halo of authentic Italian meats that swung slightly in the recycled air.

I was hired on the spot and it took a dreadfully (probably karmically deserved) long time for Meat Halo to even notice me, let alone ask me out.

After one of our first dates to a Thai restaurant he left his pineapple fried rice with extra cashews in my fridge.  Realizing this the following day, he sweetly offered the remnants to me.  I accepted the offer and sent them directly to what I’d originally thought to be a quaint home, the inside of my growling tummy.

Oops.

I hadn’t eaten a cashew in a couple decades.  In fact, the last time I’d eaten cashews was quite memorable for everyone involved.  My parents had taken me to some boring wedding where I’d taken the liberty of emptying an entire bowl of these complimentary, oily, tropical treats into my seven year old gob.  I brought that reception back to life by tossing them right back up on the pool deck about a half hour later.  At least I was able to shout, “I THINK I’M GONNA…” beforehand.

A similar feeling washed over me this time, Hulk-like in its particular shade of green coupled with abnormally high body temperatures.  Just imagine that instead of raging super human strength, Bruce produced raging super human puke and there you have me.  I snuggled my water conserving toilet all night long.  Go green!  Awesome, I did.

I visited a local allergist after this episode, apparently through a super secret worm hole to the year 1987.  Could it be that I’d died and gone to mauve heaven?  The examination table was newborn baby bulb syringe blue and while the nurse dutifully demonstrated how to use an epipen I noticed the top supply drawer had a label on it that read:  FACIAL TISSUE.  Frightening!  Phew.  The drama I’d longed for in her performance was found there instead.

On my way out, clutching epinephrine prescription and pamphlet advertising medic alert bracelets with MOOD CHANGING BEADS, I noticed a lunatic, framed photo above the hand washing station.  It captured a mystery person from the waist down, top portion of their body covered by the full branches of a tree they stood behind.  As I stepped closer to inspect what I’d originally thought to be a foggy spot on the glass caused by moisture damage, I realized that the tree in this photograph was on FIRE and the foggy spot was actually a cloud of smoke billowing forth.

At the time it didn’t make a lick of sense, but I realize that the joke was on me and this mystery man is what one might warmly refer to as a Tree Nut.

 

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There’s a question I ask myself a heap of times a day.  Mostly I ask it in the morning when I’m hosing myself off in the emergency eyewash station we call a shower in our four hundred square foot efficiency.  I guess you could say it’s intimate.  

The apartment sits on top of a photo printing and processing lab where most of my immediate family has worked the majority of their lives.  I’ll be working there until I get to Austin in a couple months, too.  

Sidenote:  I worked there for a day once in the dark room with my now current step mother but only because I was on suicide watch after ingesting all of the Sinutab and Nuprin I could find in our medicine cabinet.  I think my pre-adult whoreanus girlfriends had rubbed Oreos in our window screens the day before and I simply had no choice but to relieve my sinus pressure TO DEATH.  Fifteen was a turbulent year!

The low point of my week is having to cut through the boardroom on the way out of the apartment in order to get to the office.  I tip toe and dress as tawny as possible in order to blend in with the walls, but they turn around every time.  Occasionally I’ll get a side-splitting, “HEY APRIL, I HOPE YOU DON’T GET CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC!”  Then I’m beaten with the uncontrollable urge to raise my middle finger.  I have to hide it behind a composition notebook like a middle school boner.

My birth control is no longer in pill form because I have to look at a ton of newborn baby photos closely resembling a bald, asphyxiated Archie Bunker.  

Don’t get me wrong, there are upsides.  It’s been incredible to live so close to my family for a change.  

We were even able to visit my aunt at a nursing home in Minneola, Texas where she’s recovering from a stroke like a god damned soldier.  We all played a game of Farkle (yeah, my dad and I couldn’t leave that one alone for long) that day so she could practice using her frankenhand and I saw my very Mormon grandparents drink two cans of miscreant, caffeinated soda.  

My hands were visibly vibrating as I scooted them across the table.  I wasn’t sure what would happen when the Diet Coke hit their lips.  Surely nothing short of what we all know happens when you feed a mogwai after midnight.  I imagined my grandpa’s white hair swooping up from both sides into the center to form a mohawk like the bad Gremlin leader, Stripe.  

I’m just super thankful that my grandmother was too jacked up on the pop to hear one of the residents approach me in the hallway with the following pick up line,

“Why don’t you follow me to my room?!  I’ll show you where I beat myself up!”

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“I’ll take care of the squealing, wretched, pinhead puppets of Gotham!”

I was followed from the gym all the way through the parking garage and up to my car last Friday.  It was raining, so I had my hood up, and my umbrella in a grip so tight I lost feeling in my pinky. 

(Here’s a shocker:  I can be a bit too big for my britches at times.  I tend to believe I’m a lot tougher than I am because I spent many years of my childhood faking my older sister out so she would stop giving me dutch ovens in our Alvin & the Chipmunks tent.  And Erika, if you’re out there, I sincerely hope you’re not doing this to your children as an alternative to a time out.)

I was in complete denial until I approached my car door and he stopped, stood there, and watched me.  He had his hood up and I’m crazy enough to say he was the Grim Reaper.  I carry a stun gun in my purse, but my idiot instinct was to hit him with my umbrella.  I’ve seen Batman Returns too many times.  

He said, “Hi!”  then pretended to look around and up toward the ceiling.  I barked “HI!” back, but in a most threatening, gatekeeper-y voice similar to that of demigod, Zuul

It was that, the “I Love Brains” sticker on my car, or the person who just happened to stroll past the two of us in a Greeting/Staring Match at the perfect moment that sent him walking lickety-split on out of the parking garage.

Knock it off, universe.

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That song was playing overhead in the skin surgeon’s office while the doc excavated a couple areas on my birthmark.  It’s been the shape of Australia standing alone for quite some time, so when Papua New Guinea suddenly popped up they said, “Get your ass in here, Swartz” or something to that effect. 

I tried my best to just breathe and imagine Peter Cetera and Amy Grant in the same room, serenading me while I leaned back in the chair with my head to the side hovering delicately above a live orchestra, but good god the cauterizing really did a number on my psyche.

It smelled like pork rinds in a deep fat fryer and I went to that naked “I want my mommy!” place inside.  I wanted nothing more than to place my sweaty hand into someone else’s and hear them sing the “Brave-y Soldier” song my parents sang before they sprayed my clumsily scraped knees with Bactine.

My working girl clip clop business casual boots knocked together uncontrollably while the assistant tried her best to distract me by asking me questions about my pets. 

“Do you have a dog?  I love dogs.”

“Can you tell me how much longer, the b-b-burning?”

“Five minutes!”

Five minutes, my crack.  I didn’t have my wits about me whatsoever.  I wanted to reply:

“Yes, I do have a dog.  She’s actually at the vet right now having a turd manually pulled from her behind.”

(That’s true.  She’s going through heartworm treatment and the steroids are constipating her.) 

They followed the face melting with something called a biopsy punch and I’m pretty sure they call it that because afterwards you are quite overcome with an overwhelming urge to punch the person who has performed said biopsy. 

In all seriousness, I’m mighty thankful to have health insurance and coworkers who haven’t made too much fun of me for coming to work with a Barbie pillow sized bandage strapped to my face. 

(But I would have rather had a turd pulled.)

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Sinema.

During the first (Mormon and caffeine free) decade of my childhood, watching anything other than asexual, happily ever after films was strictly verboten. 

I can’t complain because my cousins had it far worse.  They weren’t even allowed to say the word, “butt”. 

You can only imagine the horror in my aunt’s eyes the evening she walked in on me confessing to her children how I desperately wanted to be the piano seat beneath Richard Marx’s butt in the Christian music video we were all watching. 

In hindsight that certainly seems like more of a nightmare (to be smothered by Richard Marx’ ass) than a turn-on, but love does work in mysterious ways. 

It should also come as no surprise now that during this time no one ever discussed “the birds and the bees” with me. 

Instead I took notes from actors and actresses in a plethora of late 80’s to early 90’s erotic/thriller/contraband VHS tapes my parents kept tucked behind the Disney collection. 

Bear necessities vs. bare necessities.  Guess which ones I chose?

Basic Instinct (Spoiler:  It turns out to be not so basic.)

Nine 1/2 Weeks (Mickey Rourke as the naked Wrestler.)

Sliver (A Baldwin!)

Bitter Harvest (Another Baldwin!)

No Way Out (My favorite at the time for the erotic limousine tour of the Washington DC monuments and memorials.  Somebody hose me down over here.)

Flash forward to last week in Production class where the teacher announced our homework, to describe the use of dramatic lighting throughout the movie, Basic Instinct

I blushed and forgot for a moment that she wasn’t asking us to watch porn. 

I honestly couldn’t even tell you what the movie was about.  My ten year old review would read simply: “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBS!!!”

Will my twenty six year old review be any different?

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Electric Slide

Last Sunday I snagged a last minute PA opportunity on the set of a short sci-fi film.  I arrived, secretly beside myself when I spotted this guy from Cabin Fever.  (I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking, “why couldn’t it have been Rider Strong?!”)

I was nervous working alongside a new crew, and every rule from every book I’ve ever read on PA etiquette bounced around in my brain like a briery pinball.  There are just so many. 

Don’t sit, do smile, don’t fart, do say yes, don’t say no, 10 minutes early is on time, and on time is late! 

Why on earth did you eat Mexican food before this?  

Is there a rule about a banana and how to eat it like a lady? 

Waiting for the first assignment is like waiting for someone to ask you to dance at a high school social, or at least what I’d imagine it to be like.  I never went, not even to prom. 

But my mom and older sister took me to many a sober Narcotics Anonymous dance.  While you were doing the “Macarena” with your first finger bang, I was doing the “Electric Slide” with recovering heroin addicts, setting myself up for an early iron lung retirement plan swinging those pre-pubescent hips far too close to the fog machine. 

My tasks were like scavenger hunts, and I completed each on time without breaking any rules.  I was handed a wad of cash and sent out into the night for items like, “purple-y lotus-y flower that isn’t white, a rose, or a carnation”, “coat hanger that sticks on the back of a door”, and my personal favorite, “loose glitter”. 

I think “loose glitter” was a test, but they didn’t exactly know who they’re dealing with, an ex member of Dallas Raves Dot Org. 

I practically poop loose glitter.  

And you can quote me on that.

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