Hell’s Kitchen?

(I can’t believe a week has gone by before I’ve said anything about this.)

Last Thursday, January 14th, was one of the most eventful days I’ve ever had. First, one of my brothers who had been back home for the holidays was arriving that morning, and I had a meeting with Advisor Hotpants later that afternoon. But it all started before 6:30am, when I awoke to loud shrieking followed by a knock on my door.

It was my brother’s girlfriend Kate, who had just moved in with us. (With my brothers away for winter vacation, Kate, my cousin Ken, my brother’s dog Zoey, and I were the only ones in the house.) I was groggy when she came into my room, having been asleep for only a couple of hours.

“Did you open the kitchen cabinets?” she asked.


“I just went downstairs and all the cabinets are open.”


This was the sequence of events as it was told to me: Kate went downstairs to the kitchen, then walked over to Ken’s room and knocked on his door (he didn’t respond). She went up to her room for less than a minute, then back down to knock on Ken’s door again. This time he woke up, and they both headed to the kitchen. They were a few feet in the room before freezing in their tracks. All the upper cabinets were open, including the microwave and the doors above the stove hood. It took two whole seconds for the sight to sink in, and then only a nanosecond for Ken to push Kate out of his way to run to my room (No notions of “women and children first” here, it seems. This is a residential neighborhood in southwest Las Vegas, yo. Do or die.).

It wasn’t a bloody knife or a corpse or anything of that sort, but the image of opened kitchen cabinets (and the microwave!) was terrifying. I didn’t want to see it. Luckily Ken manned-up and closed them all before I went downstairs.

I was skeptical though. I asked Kate if there was any part of her memory that was unaccounted for (I thought maybe she had fallen into some sleep-deprived trance and opened the cabinets herself). She recanted her steps with conviction, and after I made Ken swear he hadn’t done it, we were no closer to a reasonable explanation.

(A few days earlier we experienced a couple of other unexplainable things, one of them being a bottle falling off the top of the fridge even though it was a considerable length from the edge. [It also inexplicably landed a few feet away, which by our reasoning, would only have been possible if it had been pushed.] We all slept in the loft that night, slumber party style with the lights on.)

Ken, Zoey and I were in the sitting room (adjacent to the living room and out of view of the kitchen), and Kate was standing outside with the front door open. I was still in my pajamas, shaking from the combination of fear and cold when Ken asked uneasily, “Um, can anyone else see that?”

Oh. My. Gosh.

The chandelier in the living room was swaying. Not shaking a little, but rocking back and forth.

I gasped, and the next thing I knew I was being pushed towards the front door (this time Ken was guiding me out, and thankfully not offering my soul). I saw a blur of Zoey as we ran past her, and a blur of my shoes as I ran past them too. Kate had no idea what was going on, but that didn’t keep her from screaming all the way to the driveway.

I was so scared I was nearly in tears, but focused on odd things, like my socks–red with silver snowflakes. If I had to run to the gas station, would they hold? And would “haunting” be a legitimate excuse to miss class? Would my professor let me make up my quiz? How would I even begin to explain that?

We’re still not sure what happened, and I’m not fully convinced in either direction that it was something of the supernatural world, or if it was somehow either one of them. In the meantime, I’ve resorted to eating breakfast bars and stopping for coffee each morning because I’m too afraid to go into the kitchen alone. On the upside, maybe I’ll be able to shed some of those pesky pounds I put on over the holidays.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?


The Hotpants Chronicle

I posted that blurb on Twitter a few days ago. I’ve gone back and forth about writing this because it is unbefitting, and what if some school official were to come across it somehow (though I don’t see how it would get him in trouble, it certainly would be deathly mortifying for me)? But in the end I decided it was more innocent intending than inappropriate (by my calculations, kind of 60/40). Also I thought it would be interesting to chronicle how I lose all sense of propriety and morph into the likeness of a 16 year-old who’s been away at an all-girl boarding school and is inept regarding all things of the male persuasion. But if you think that’s pitiful, then I take it all back and I’m only doing this because I need something to write about. So there.

First let’s backtrack to last August. My “regular” advisor wasn’t available (really just a woman I met with once, and who was a bit rude anyway), so I scheduled with the first available one. The following week, signed in and seated, I spotted a guy walking out of his office and to the front desk. My first thought–He’s cute–was immediately followed with, Please, please, OH PLEASE don’t let it him be my advisor! (I get really nervous when my first assessment of a guy is his physical attractiveness, and when I’m nervous I consequently become flustered and say stupid things.)

He called my name. Sonofuh! Be cool, just be cool, I pep-talked myself as I walked over. Maybe he’ll be a jerk. Please just be a jerk. Be rude like the other lady.

Just my luck, he wasn’t. Stuttering aside (on my end, of course), he was nice and really easy to talk to. Yes, I definitely liked this advisor. But it wasn’t until I walked away from our second meeting that I decided I kinda-sorta-maybe had a teeny-tiny-little school girl crush. And it was on the third session that I remembered to look for a wedding band (none, YESSS!) and scanned the room for any evidence of a girlfriend (again, none, but when I brought up the fact that his office was sparse, he replied that he didn’t like clutter, which means the absence of a framed gorgeous model wasn’t duly because she didn’t exist, but simply because he doesn’t like picture frames).

I met with him a total of five times last semester, more than all my other advisors put together (though let it be known those appointments were all valid and necessary–give me some credit). And before each meeting I’d tell myself, Get it together. Whatever. You’re  over this. Of course this was always after I’d already done my hair, applied the make-up, and chosen my outfit with care. For crying out loud, I accessorized!

I saw him last in October to select classes for Spring. When I walked out of that meeting–Oh, I should mention he’s always sitting behind his desk when I leave, and as I’m walking out, says something like, “See you” or “Bye,” and then I’m doing that awkward walking away/looking back dance (once I was thisclose to walking into his doorframe), and it’s bothered me that that’s always the last image he has of me, though I probably couldn’t do better if I tried–I thought, Well, there it was–the last meeting with Advisor Hotpants.

And it should have been. There really was no reason I should ever have to go back there to see him, or anyone else for that matter.

Except that there was.

Early this year I had some trouble adding classes, so last Friday, with zero credits to my name, I called the advising center and asked to meet with Advisor Somebody Else-Anybody Else. (It was a new year after all, why should it have to include sweaty palms and stammering? Also, I didn’t want Advisor Hotpants thinking I was irresponsible, and was determined to uphold whatever shred of self-preservation I might’ve had left with him.) I was told if I wanted to see Somebody Else-Anybody Else, all I had to do was show up between certain hours and ask for him. No appointment was necessary. Yes, things were looking up.

With Hotpants out of the picture, the pressure was gone. Still, I decided to dress up a little. I mean, if I wanted Anybody Else to take me seriously, shouldn’t I try to avoid my everyday look of “Overslept Frenzy”? That was so last semester.

So when I showed up this week to ask for Advisor Anybody Else, GUESS WHO happened to be walking out of his office? Not like he’d remember who I was or anything, but I still willed myself to be invisible. As Hotpants wandered out behind me, I tried to make like a violet and shrink. And when he stood at my right, I stared to the left. When we crossed paths, I watched my feet with gusto. All those careful and clever calculations only to turn around and find him looking at me, “Hey, how’s it going?” (HOLY BATTLESHIP, BATMAN, HE REMEMBERED ME!!!)

As painfully obvious as I must’ve just looked, I still played the “I had no idea you were here” card and sang the “Oh, heeey! How are yooou?” song. I know, I’m an idiot.

I guiltily explained to that Anybody Else was available without having to make an appointment, and this way I wouldn’t have to bother him. Then throwing a curve ball and completely foiling my game plan, Hotpants told Front Desk Lady it was fine, that he’d be able to see me instead. This produced an unusually odd combination of Seventh Heaven, and the feeling one might get when being called to the principal’s office.

I did the usual scanning (still no ring or photographed beauty), then I acknowledged the usual advisory flag in my head, Only talk about school stuff!, and then a nanosecond later I was asking him about his winter vacation. He listened to my class dilemma, and I was sent on a professor scavenger hunt–including one that had him and me strolling through the building. Now I know that’s barely noteworthy, but that didn’t stop me from trying to hide a grin the entire length of it and thinking, Oh my gosh, we’re walking down the hallway together! (Seriously, how old am I?) And when I met with him again a few hours later, we took a second walk. I had to turn away and literally bite my cheeks to keep from smiling.

We didn’t get everything done in that second meeting, so I met with him again the following day, where it took all of two seconds to tie up some loose ends, but continued for FORTY MINUTES(!) with talking and laughing until his next appointment arrived.

So there it was: my perfect last meeting with Advisor Hotpants. He even stood up instead of sitting behind his desk like he normally does when I leave; and while still encumbered with my trademark walk-away awkwardness, this time there was bounce in my step.

2009: Year In Review

What did you do in 2009 that you’ve never done before?
I paid off not one, but TWO credit cards!
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I can only remember two: I wanted to log 500 running miles and develop a likeness (or at least a lesser degree of hatred) for onions. Both were a no-go.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but a close friend is due any day now!
Did anyone close to you die?
Cancer is evil.
What countries did you visit?
Do frequent trips to Dreamland count? No? Then none.
What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Comedic timing. But I lack wit too, so maybe I’d like to have that first. Don’t want to put the cart before the horse.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Running a half-marathon solo (figuratively and literally). First, my running partner got injured a week before the race, and then on the day, I got lost getting to the event and started 15 minutes late, after everyone else was long gone.
What was your biggest failure?
Too many times I gave up too soon.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, but I did get to ride in one of those emergency mountain sleds. I had been on the ski lift for four minutes of what I thought would be a two minute ride, and there was still no end in sight. It wasn’t until I looked down and saw RAMPS(!) and people doing crazy flips that I started planning my escape route. Once grounded, snowboard in arm, I began the tedious walk back to the bunny slope. I had only made it a few yards before emergency personnel spotted me and offered to give me a ride. It was the highlight of my day.
What was the best thing you bought?
It was a gift, so technically I didn’t buy it, but it has to be my TomTom. I still get lost but at least now I know where I am.
Where did most of your money go?
Late night eBay bidding led to morning-after “You have won” emails. But it was like Christmas in the mail for months.
What did you get really excited about?
Summer! My BFFs visiting!
What song will always remind you of 2009?
“Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon
What do you wish you’d done more of?
What do you wish you’d done less of?
What was your favorite film?
Slumdog Millionaire, even before the hype. (I thought it fell short of the book, but The Time Traveler’s Wife is an Honorable Mention.)
What was your new favorite TV program?
I was a little late to The Office party, and still catching up on How I Met Your Mother. Modern Family puts the ‘fun’ back in dysfunctional.
What was the best book you read?
Re-read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, the only book I read for leisure last year.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
Vienna Teng
What did you want and get?
New eyeglasses–mine was 11 years old! Also a laptop.
What did you want and not get?
New retainers
What did you do on your birthday?
A Cirque du Soleil show welcomed midnight, then I woke up to friends singing and carting in a birthday cake AND my favorite cupcakes. Watched the Bellagio fountain show, then dinner with friends and family. It was perfect.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation), where have you been all my life?
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I’d trade in my hypothetical winning lottery ticket for a date with Sam Worthington.
Who did you miss?
Friends and family
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.” – Hannah Montana 😛

Deck The Prowlers

My family is together for the holidays enjoying 80 degree weather back home, while I’m left to brave the Las Vegas climate, which despite being in the desert, grows curiously colder each year. Christmas time on the island is not very different from traditional stateside Christmases, though it’s recently become apparent some customs haven’t quite translated:

The other night my aunt-slash-neighbor called my parents in a panic. She had just seen a pick-up truck driving around our backyard, its trunk bed full of people carrying flashlights. This caused quite a bit of alarm as my dad’s lawn mower was stolen just the week before. My brothers and other relatives wasted no time in surveilling the family grounds. The group was still mid-patrol when they ran into my cousin Rick, who managed to enlighten his formidable audience in no time. Thus was solved the case of The Flashlight-Wielding Pick-up Truck People, otherwise know in the States as carolers.