I was in DC for a few days! I didn’t get to see a lot of people. But that’s okay! It was for my birthday, and for my birthday I wanted to see my family, especially my favorite twin sister.
I took the train up, and let me tell you: I love traveling via train. Like plane rides, someone else is driving (score one over cars). However, the seats are bigger, you have a little bit more legroom, and it’s easier/less annoying to fellow passengers if you get up and walk around. You also have somewhere to walk to! It’s the dining car. Which is great: you don’t have to sit and wait for a flight attendant. You are your own master.
Plus, for some reason the actual act of flying always leaves my body stressed. I can’t relax or sleep on a plane, no matter how comfortable I get or how much I read or distract myself. There’s something about the pressure your body is under that stresses me out. I remember going to Europe with Lacey and Beth. We were on an overnight flight from New York to Heathrow to Berlin. I was awake the whole time. As soon as we got on the train to go to Paris? I was out like a light. I remember another time, flying from London to New York to Dulles. I was absolutely, devastatingly exhausted, but I could not fall asleep on the plane. I started hallucinating.
Anyway! So I took the train to DC which was very convenient. I carried my sister’s present onto the train with me; the ticket person warned me that the conductor might not let me (it’s a painting with a glass cover, the ticket person was worried it would break in a crash and make things worse). I had already started texting Lacey about back-up plans in case I wasn’t able to bring her present with me, but the conductor didn’t even glance at it as I walked onto the train. Thankfully, because of the awkward size of the painting, absolutely no one sat next to me the entire trip. I tried to make room as best I could, but no one sat with me. I could spread out, leave my stuff on the extra seat, and stretch out my legs. I finished the first half of translations for Chapter Seven in my Latin textbook. After I had done all my translations, I carried my Julius Caesar biography (given to me by the handsome James Meyers) into the dining car to have lunch. Another passenger and I waited together while the dining car attendant worked with the microwave.
“Where are you heading?” we both asked, as is the usual opener on trains.
Then she asked, “What school do you go to?”
It was the first of…well of a few times that I was mistaken for a college student. I suppose it made sense. I look young for my age, I had been doing work out of a textbook, and I was carrying around a biography. All common signs of a college student.
Lacey met me at the train station, helped me get my bags, and lead me through the metro system to Ballston, where we met Mom and headed to Tysons. Lacey is more comfortable with the metro than I am. I was convinced that I hadn’t entered the system legally (perhaps jumping on her open entry?) but apparently I did enter legally. All was well.
The food at Tysons was excellent and the company was even better (the parents and the twin sister!). After dinner Dad headed home, but Mom, Lacey, and I explored Barnes and Noble. I bought two new biographies to add to my collection, and Mom bought a birthday present for me.
It’s called Wreck This Journal and look what I’ve done to it:
It’s not every day that you want to call up your mother and say “you know that present you got for me less than a week ago? I wiped my dirty shoes on it and broke it nearly in two.” I am so happy.
But of course I cannot call up my mother. Lacey drove over my phone. It was an accident, of course: I dropped my phone unknowingly by her car and so she drove over my cell phone with absolutely no idea that it was there. It is absolutely gone, dying alone and broken in the cold Arlington snow. It was a jerk anyway.
Moving on to Saturday, Lacey and I worked out for a bit. First we (probably) annoyed her neighbors by dancing to the music we were playing too loud (Uptown Funk, Shake It Off, Bie Mir Bist du Schoen, Come With Me Now), and then actually going to a gym and working out (featuring an attendant who laughed too hard at Lacey’s joke).
Then we went and got ourselves cultured like red wine and gruyere. First we attended Taffety Punk’s annual Riot Grrls. A few years ago, Shakespeare Theater Company in DC did an all-male version of Romeo and Juliet. Annoyed that women were once again being denied good acting roles, Taffety Punk threw together a quick all-female version of Romeo and Juliet, which turned out so successful that every year they do an all-female production of a Shakespeare show under the name Riot Grrrls.
This year’s flavor was the Tempest.
From Lacey’s facebook feed.
All but one of the principle actresses had been in last year’s Titus Andronicus, so it was interesting, this year, to see them play new roles. Only one of them (the woman playing Miranda) played a really similar role to last year. Last year’s Lavinia was this year’s Miranda. Both roles clearly are girly-girl types, but Lavinia is a mostly silent role dealing with death, despair, frustration, fear, anger, and sadness, while Miranda is a blithe spirit who loves everything all the time and is so happy. The actress was clearly more comfortable playing the sailor Trinculo, who was drunk and petty. Lacey, meanwhile, found it interesting to watch the quality of performances diverge between actors playing multiple roles: Ferdinand and Sebastian were played by the same person, which works with clever staging. She played Ferdinand straight and dull (to Lacey’s annoyance) but found her Sebastian to be sardonic and hilarious.
After The Tempest, we went and ate at Ted’s Bulletin, because it was right around the corner and obviously.
Ted’s Bulletin liked this on instagram
Our super-serious discussion about Acting was interrupted when several people from Taffety Punk walked into the restaurant!!!!! I didn’t say anything but OH MAN.
Then we rushed off to E Street Cinema to watch the Oscar Nominated Shorts (both live-action and animated). Obviously the awards have been given out so we know who won, but here are my thoughts anyway.
You can skip them if you want, I noted in all-caps when it ends.
[in order of how they’re listed on the Oscar website]
The Bigger Picture
I absolutely loved the Bigger Picture, which is how I knew it wasn’t going to win. I always go for the animated shorts that have a unique or fanciful art style, while Oscars tend to be given to the animated short with the cutest or most comfortable story. That being said, I loved this film. I loved how simple the story was; I loved how the art style and fantasy sequences helped to tell the story, or rather the emotion. The emotion that two brothers feel as their mother is slowly dying. Their mother’s friend would insult the caretaker brother as he was filling her teacup; he would imagine the room filling up with water and drowning her. But despite his annoyance, he was ultimately able to keep his head up as his more-successful brother lost it, because he was able to focus on…the bigger picture I love this film you guys I love it.
The Dam Keeper
Neither Lacey nor I were particularly impressed by The Dam Keeper. In a city full of anthropomorphic creatures, a small pig is put in charge of the windmill that keeps the Darkness at bay (if a movie calls a vague thing to be feared “the Darkness” you know it’s going to be stupid). He also goes to school, where he is bullied frequently for being a pig. Then he makes a friend. Then that friends turns out to be false. So he decides to let the windmill wind down, which would kill everyone.
Here’s where Lacey and I disagree: I think they should have ended it there. Just let the pig sit there with his gas mask on and let the darkness come and kill everyone. The last shot should have just been the gas mask. Lacey disagreed. I don’t remember exactly where she thought the movie should have ended (or maybe she thought the story should have gone in a different direction?).
In any case, the pig saves everyone and it’s a happy ending for everyone, which doesn’t make sense, in the same way that Frozen’s ending doesn’t make sense. I’ll elaborate later. This entry is already pretty long.
Feast is a decent-looking piece with an easy-to-swallow story (hah!). Of course it was going to win. Unlike last time Disney won Animated Short, I’m not angry. I hated Paperman. Feast was good. There were better entries. But Feast was fine. It told a story from a unique perspective. It had a good metaphor. It made me want a Boston Terrier. All good things.
Me and my Moulton
This was Lacey’s pick for Best Animated Short, and I can’t say I blame her. It was probably my #2. It’s a story about a quirky family and accepting that family or happiness or normalcy or whatever is…what you make of it? What no one has? What looks weird from the outside is in fact normal? That supporting or loving someone takes a big effort? Don’t be embarrassed by your family? It didn’t have one, simple message, which is something that Lacey tends to go for. And certainly that was a big bonus. It was a slice-of-life about growing up, about accepting…maturity? I don’t really know what it was about, exactly. But it was funny and sweet and the art style was simple and quirky, and it tells a story that will stick with you. It’s a good film and it should have won, really.
A Single Life
It’s all on youtube guys! Go get yourselves some culture.
A Single Life starts with a woman sitting down to eat a delicious pizza in a comfortable apartment like it’s the only thing anyone would ever want. It is the most relatable thing ever. The art is really weird though. I don’t think it served the story very well at all. She looks like a giant white cucumber with a wig. Considering the theme of the story, she should have been more human-shaped, not less. It had a good punchline and excellent pacing, but overall it wasn’t a very good film.
Live Action Shorts
Look at those two. Look how happy they are. Look how thrilled they are to be alive, to enjoy all of life’s greatest splendors.
At 39 minutes, this film was the longest entry in the Live Action Shorts, and boy did it feel like it. The whole movie was filled with long, awkward pauses of silence. I joked to James that 30/39 minutes of the movie was awkward silence. The thing is, I’m not sure I was exaggerating.
Aya, the driver there, is at the airport to pick up someone (a lover, presumably) when through a weird series of circumstances she gets mistaken for a professional driver and she just goes along with it. It’s a good set-up…if the characters were interesting, if the final plot twist hadn’t been given away the first time we saw her hands on the wheel, if the characters had anything interesting to say, if the actors had had any chemistry, if there had been any sense of danger, if they had gotten lost and had to find their way, if they had talked about anything deeper than “what do you do for a living?” The film is actually about the car drive from the airport to the hotel.
Lacey visited the facilities in the middle of the film. When she came back, she asked if she had missed anything important. After giving it a moment’s thought, I realized that no, no she hadn’t. Absolutely nothing had happened in the five minutes or so she had been gone. That’s forgiveable in a feature-length film, but this is a short film. Every second should count. A few minutes after that, I went and bought a bottle of water (this is a relevant plot point for this entry — remember that I bought a bottle of water). When I came back, I asked Lacey if I had missed anything — and nope. Nada. The whole film was an exercise in patience.
We went online to see if there was any explanation for why Aya scored a nomination, only to discover that the very things we hated about it were the things people loved about it. Critics raved about the “tense periods of sexual tension” or whatever. They loved the long silent pauses. They loved…the fact that no one said anything? They loved the “twist” at the end. They said that it was “a story exploring what would happen if you gave in to your impulses” (or something). Except that Aya did the opposite of that in the end. Also, one critic said that if you hate this movie you’re an anti-semite. I guess I’m an anti-semite now.
Boogaloo and Graham
Boogaloo and Graham was never going to win. Unlike the Animated Shorts’ tendency towards heart-warming stories, Live Action Shorts goes for art and Feelings. If it had been animated, Boogaloo and Graham would have had a chance to win. It’s about a Northern Irish family that adopts two chickens, set against the backdrop of the Troubles. It was adorable. I thought for a second the chickens were going to die. It toyed a bit with my emotions. It’s what you want in a kid-friendly film. The only thing Lacey and I didn’t like was that the one black character in the film was the one who killed a dude in the end? Was given scary framing and everything? What the double-hey racism?
Source Watch it here!
Butter Lamp was also never going to win, but you really, really wanted it to. It was a story about modernity forcing its way into a small Tibetan village and — back up, Hancher, back way way up. It’s about a whole bunch of Tibetan families getting their picture taken. Everyone is cute and charming and it tells each family’s story in its own way. The underlying theme is — stop it, Hancher. Watching the movie for the message takes away from the story.
This was Lacey’s choice. She has a weakness for stories about female friendship. It’s a story about unlikely friendship between an Iranian immigrant and a Swiss teenager. They beat up a dude. There’s casual racism. They bond. Unlike Aya, this film really did explore two characters dropping boundaries and seeing what happens next. Both Lacey and I loved this film. Lacey just loved it more than I did. I would have been happy if it had won.
The Phone Call (winner)
I absolutely adored The Phone Call. It follows a woman at a crisis center as she handles her first phone call of the shift. It is absolutely intense and nerve-wracking. The vast majority of the film is just a wide variety of angles of her sitting at her desk and talking and writing, but every single frame is filled to the brim with intensity as a man’s life is on the line. I could hear the sad voice of every old man I have ever met on the other end of that phone call. I cried along with Heather. I loved this movie and it absolutely deserved to win.
And it did! Yay!
AND HERE ENDS THE OSCAR TALK IF YOU JUST DECIDED TO SCROLL PAST IT OR WHATEVER
After the movies we headed back to the car and mostly just bad-mouth Aya. We tried to shove as much praise for Parveneh and The Phone Call in as we could, but we just could not get our minds around how awful Aya was.
As we drove past the White House, Lacey made a left turn that may or may not have been legal, the lights were changing. So Lacey made a joke about President Obama coming out in his boxers to arrest her. I put on my best President Obama voice. Lacey and President Obama began discussing government-issued patriotic boxer shorts and laughing. I was only about halfway done with the water I had bought during Aya. I raised up the bottle to take a sip as Lacey was saying something funny.
The next thing I knew I couldn’t stop coughing. I could feel the water going down my throat and I was coughing, coughing, coughing, my whole world was just me and coughing. Suddenly there was banana milkshake and cole slaw all over my lap and I couldn’t stop it and it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t stop coughing and I couldn’t breathe, I realized I couldn’t breathe and everything was getting dark.
We drove all the way down Constitution Avenue before I could breathe again. It was the shallowest breath I had every managed. But it was new air, enough that my vision began clearing up. I still couldn’t stop coughing. But I could suddenly gasp. I realized that Lacey was freaking out next to me, shouting and screaming. We were well onto 66 before I was even able to get out a few words. Lacey asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said either “no” or “I don’t know”, I honestly don’t remember. She refused to take no for an answer. My brain was too addled to really say anything sensible, and I was still coughing a lot. Lacey finally pulled out her phone and called her insurance company’s 24-hour hotline and asked if she should take me to the hospital. The nurse said yes.
So we arrived at Virginia Hospital Center at midnight. I nearly slipped on the ice outside the emergency room. Lacey said that it was bad luck to break your leg outside the hospital. I said, “*cough* I woul *cough* wouldn’t have t *cough* to go very fa *cough* *cough*” I’m sure it was very annoying.
There was only one other person in the waiting area. The person at the desk took in my basic symptoms and gave me a bucket in case I vomited again. Lacey gave me a bunch of paper towels and I wiped off my jacket and coughed into the bucket.
The one other person waiting was there for his wife. We were shown in within ten minutes. A nurse took my vitals and I said that really my cough was a lot better than before. I’m pretty certain that my strained, weak voice combined with frequent cough breaks didn’t help. But I really was feeling better. I was literally no longer dying.
We were given a room to wait in. I changed into a hospital gown. The doctor and trainee doctor walked into the room and checked my breathing. They asked me a few other questions about how I felt. The doctor told me that the worst was over. I might still have some water in my lungs, but I would be coughing it out over the next few days. My chest was sore, but it was just inflamed from all the coughing. I could take some ibuprofen to help. It had been a good idea to come to the hospital, just to make sure the worst was over. I mean, I had just almost died.
They left and an administrator immediately came in, saying that everything had been cleared by my insurance company. I wouldn’t have to pay a dime. Lacey commented on how amazing it was — we had been cleared to leave before the insurance paperwork had even finished processing! Modern technology!
In the car ride back Lacey told me how relieved she was that I hadn’t died. If I had died in her car, Mom would have killed her. She asked me several times if I was feeling okay. If I died on her couch, Mom would kill her.
I discovered going up the stairs that I could not handle stairs anymore. I had to stop twice, but only briefly. I tried to make sure Lacey didn’t notice.
On the hill waiting for Dad to pick us up the next day, I noticed that I couldn’t handle hills very well either. I lagged behind Lacey. Apparently five minutes of coughing completely destroyed my lung capacity. I’ll have to work on cardio…when the weather gets better.
At brunch, Dad teased me about the fact that I was drinking water. Even though twelve hours had gone by, my body was still reeling from the whole thing. By evening, I would feel completely over it, except for the very rare hacking cough (and even that has gone away). But during brunch, my body still felt like it was processing what had happened. I feel like I didn’t say much; I feel like I couldn’t be as involved in the conversation as I normally was. Maybe it was in my head.
But still. I left Cary Station in one piece. When I came back, I had a broken toe, no cell phone, and had nearly died. One heck of a weekend.
I had an absolutely miserable day at work. As I left for the night, this song started playing over the radio. It felt very appropriate.
And I’m fine, but I’m not okay
I’m looking forward to looking back on these days
I got home and unloaded all of the things that went wrong in the day onto James — getting scolded for leaving early the night before (when I had been told explicitly to leave early?); not having cheese (again); finding that all the cheese was underneath all of the boxes, just all of them, in the freezer; telling my boss and being told that I would have to unload all of the boxes myself in order to get them; my boss following me around the kiosk telling me everything that I do wrong; telling my temporary helper that I had all the onions, but I needed peppers and tomatoes, and then she returns with onions and tomatoes; telling my temporary helper that the veggie and cheese pizzas were done and that a margherita pizza was in the oven, so all she needed to make was a pepperoni and a sausage pizza, and returning from lunch to find that she had made a veggie and a cheese pizza, so all that was left to make was a pepperoni and a sausage pizza!; my boss telling me that as a special treat for the front end staff (and only the front end staff) that had braved the cold icy weather, I was to make four free pizzas for them; a surprise inspection by the district manager; a cut on my finger; doing a job that requires two people 10.5 hours and having to do all of that in 9 hours by myself.
James had a roaring fire going in the fireplace. He had gotten hot dog sticks and set up sausages on the hot dog sticks. I changed into pajamas, and we sat by the fire and roasted our sausages. He listened and asked questions and sympathized with me. He suggested that maybe we should buy a sausage grinder. He suggested that maybe I should talk to my direct supervisor about how I felt so singled out and misused.
Tomorrow I get to ride on a train and visit my family. I get to sit in quiet for 6.5 hours and read a book. Mom is going to take me shopping. I will see shows with Lacey. I will have brunch with the whole family. Then I will take another train ride home to North Carolina.
Mandy Moore really did say it best. I’m looking forward to looking back on these days.
Dawn and the miller-knight were very happy for a time, and Dawn soon became with child. Unfortunately, Dawn did not take well to pregnancy. She lay in her upstairs chamber, sick and clammy with the pains of pregnancy. Her ladies opened up the window to ease her hot body. Dawn stared out the window for days.
“Our child will have eyes as blue as that sky,” she said. “She will be absolutely beautiful.”
“If she looks anything like you, she will be,” said the miller-knight as he dabbed her forehead with a cool cloth. He kept his wishes for a son to himself. If she spoke, she still had strength in her.
“Her skin will be as white as that cloud,” she said.
He pressed the cool cloth against the red splotches on her cheeks. Her skin was once pale and creamy, and if he had his way, it would be again.
The next day she swallowed some broth and said she felt better. The miller-knight thought it best if she tried some fresh air. Two strong men carried her in a chair down to the river. He arranged to have some servants change out the bedsheets and other linens, and called for flowers and dry herbs to be strung around the room to sweeten the air.
The small party sat by a calm tributary of the river. It would soon meet with another tributary, where the waters would flush and rush and form the strong current that ran the mill. But here, it was shaded and calm. They could see small fish and insects. The miller-knight pointed out a group of tadpoles to Dawn, who smiled at his words without looking. She was pink today. A lady sat by her chair and fanned her. Perhaps the cool air by the water would help.
The picnic lasted only for an hour or two, but when the miller-knight appeared distracted by clean-up, she complained to her ladies of how achey her bones felt; her knees, her elbows, her shoulders, her neck. She tried to smile whenever the miller-knight looked at her, but he looked at her so often. She was carried upstairs, and was delighted by the changes made to her chambers.
Dawn allowed herself to be tucked into bed and announced that she would be taking a nap. The servants and ladies all left the room. The miller-knight hesitated and ran his hand lightly over her arm before turning to leave.
“They will be frogs soon,” Dawn murmured. The miller-knight stopped and looked at her from the corner of his eye. Dawn ran a hand over her large belly. “They won’t have a lily.”
The miller-knight pinched her hand and started to leave.
“Why would they live somewhere without a lily?”
The miller-knight turned and looked at Dawn. Her eyes were on him, wide and frightened.
“Maybe they don’t need a lily pad,” said the miller-knight.
“But they do,” said Dawn. “That’s what they always say.”
He thought for a moment, and then said, “I’ll get them a lily-pad. I promise.”
When the child was born, she was dipped in cold river water, wrapped in a fine blanket, and brought before her father to be named. All thoughts of wanting a boy disappeared when she was sunk helplessly into her father’s arms. Her eyes were as blue as the mid-summer sky, and she quickly closed them when he had her safely in his arms. She was safe. She was beautiful.
She was named Lilian Patricia Dawn of the Mills. She was presented before her mother, who accepted her as such. The announcement therefore was sent out; the name was announced before the King in His royal court. Letters were sent to connections, merchant and genteel. Lilian Patricia Dawn was born to a noble and wealthy family. Her life would surely be one of prestige and luxury.
For the first few years of her life, it seemed to be the case. Dawn recovered from her fever, although she never regained her full strength. She laughed when she told Lily how she got her name. She brought Lily to the picnic spot often. She walked with a cane and rested frequently, with servants and ladies lagging behind, but she insisted on walking to regain her strength.
The miller-knight had indeed brought lily pads to the little picnic area, just as he had promised. The spot was a nice one for frogs, who jumped around and snapped up all the little bugs in the area. Little Lily ran to and fro, chasing bugs, grabbing worms, sticking her hands in mud, and giving random people hugs.
“She will need a friend soon,” said Dawn, watching her rub her muddy hands all over her dress. “She will need to learn how to act properly. Send out for a governess, and get for me a list of families with children just her age.”
“How old are the King’s children?” asked Lady Abigail, idly.
Lady Georgina sighed and thought. “Brendan is four,” she said. “Beatrice is six, and there are rumors that the Queen is with child again.”
“Excellent,” said Dawn. “I will have to apply to have Lily be made a lady-in-waiting for Beatrice.”
She told her ladies often of her plans for Lily. She would become lady-in-waiting to the princess, and be seen often at court. A young nobleman, a baron or a count, perhaps, would fall madly in love with her and marry her, raising her up higher in society. With such a dowry as a first-born child of the Miller-Knight, any member of the Peerage would welcome her with open arms. Perhaps Lily would own two houses instead of one. Or three houses, and spend part of the year in the city, attending court.
Lily would need to know how to dance and sing. She would need to know her letters, arithmetic, geography, literature, and history. She needed to learn herbs. Someone needed to teach her how to walk properly. The way she walked now was fine, since she was just learning to walk. But soon she would no longer be a wobble-headed toddler but a colt-legged child. She needed to learn grace and modesty.
A governess was hired when Lily was five years old. Elizabeth was barely twenty, the daughter of a shipping agent who had died recently. The miller-knight made the arrangement at his wife’s behest. She was a sweet girl, and balanced the need for Lily to behave and her need to play.
A friend for Lily was much harder to come by. The local families were much too enthralled by the wealth of the miller-knight. Finally the miller-knight and Dawn attended the funeral of a count. Dawn met with the count’s widow and saw that she had two daughters just Lily’s age. She sent for Elizabeth and Lily, and arranged a picnic for the three girls.
Once upon a time, there was a small kingdom, ever pushed-upon by its larger neighbors. The other kingdoms pushed ever farther outwards, conquering and expanding, so that the little kingdom wondered always if they, too, were about to be taken. But the people who had settled and made the small kingdom had been wise; they had chosen an area by a great river, surrounded by lush fields. The small kingdom was fertile. The people were well-fed and happy, and sent out their surplus to the surrounding kingdoms, creating strong trade alliances that all involved parties were reluctant to throw aside. Still, the people of the small kingdom were frightened of their much larger neighbors.
In time, the larger kingdoms became more technologically advanced than their smaller neighbor. A young knight of the small kingdom went and studied in one of the neighboring kingdoms, and learned about the latest and greatest in technology: mills. Strong currents pushed the wheel of the mill, which pushed another wheel, creating so much strength that pushed and pressed and made tiny pulp of the smallest and strong things. The young knight vowed to bring this technology to his small kingdom by the river.
He did; he built a grist mill by the river on his family’s lands. The people brought wheat to the mill to be ground. He separated the shaft from the seed and ground the seeds, creating flour that could be sold to bakers and families in the kingdom and in the surrounding kingdoms. So pure was this flour that merchants bought the flour sight-unseen. Just a stamp on the sack of the flour was enough to double the price of the flour.
The knight in due time became economically prosperous. As the saying goes, a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want a wife; in this case, the young knight chose for himself the prettiest young lady in the kingdom. She had golden hair and eyes the color of the morning sky. Her name was Dawn.
Dawn and the miller-knight were very happy for a time. Unfortunately, Dawn did not take well to pregnancy. She lay in her upstairs chamber, sick and clammy with the pains of pregnancy. It was mid-winter, and the ladies opened up the window to ease her hot body. Dawn stared out the window for days.
Maggie and a policewoman sit on a bench. Maggie is sipping a juice.
Policewoman: Do you feel better?
Policewoman: Who do you have picking you up?
Policewoman: I ask because it’s possible to have the police take you home. I know you’ve been through a lot today. Some people feel better when the police take them home. (no response) And if you need, we can check out you later tonight or tomorrow morning. We can stop by your house, or call your phone, just to make sure you’re feeling alright. (no response) Or you do you live in a dorm?
Policewoman: What are you studying?
Policewoman: Oh. That sounds…interesting?
Maggie: It is. It’s amazing how much our perception of the world is shaped by our language. We speak English. In English, you have to put a subject on something. You can say the egg was broken but we don’t speak like that most of the time. We say he broke the egg. In other languages, you can even say broken egg and have that be a complete thought. But not in English. We have to blame someone.
Emily and Brooke enter.
Emily and Brooke: Maggie!
Maggie: Emily! Brooke!
Brooke: We got here as quickly as we could.
Emily: Are you okay?
Maggie: Where’s Uncle Gary? I thought they had to call family. Where’s Uncle Gary?
Emily: We’re practically sisters. Sister from another mister.
Maggie: Sister from another hyster.
Maggie and Emily laugh. This is a long-running joke with them.
Emily: But your uncle couldn’t make it. He called me. I said I could get a ride.
Policewoman: If you’re not comfortable with getting a ride home from your friends, we can always drive you home.
Maggie: No, they’re fine.
Emily: Fine. Acceptable.
Emily: She doesn’t smell too horrible.
Maggie: Her face isn’t wretched.
Policewoman: Alright, I’ll leave you two to it. We’ll call you tomorrow morning, just to check on you.
Maggie: Thank you for waiting.
Policewoman: And put off doing paperwork for a bit? Thank you. Have a good night.
Maggie: Thank you.
Emily: So no, seriously, Mags.
Maggie (Mags????): No.
Emily: Are you okay.
Maggie: Yes. I’m fine. They caught them red-handed. They can’t hurt me. They won’t hurt me.
Brooke and Emily frown at her.
Maggie: Why couldn’t Uncle Gary make it?
Brooke: She’s not telling us something.
Emily: She wouldn’t hide something from us, we love her and she loves us and all is well and good in the land of Maggie and Friends.
Brooke: We are very open with our friend Maggie.
Emily: She is very open with us.
Maggie: The robbers said they would come for me. One of them specifically said that.
Brooke: That is scary.
Emily: They’re behind bars though. They’ll stay that way.
Brooke: They could post bail.
Brooke: They’d probably get off on a technicality.
Emily: Someone’s been watching too many forensics shows.
Brooke: Or have a better lawyer than the DA.
Emily: Those are all formulaic and super terrible. I was reading just the other day how absolutely biased those are.
Brooke: You just can’t trust the law to do the right thing. It’s always an election somewhere.
Emily pulls Brooke aside. They have a wide, gesticulating conversation in which Brooke comes to the understanding that comforting Maggie is more important right now. They return to Maggie.
Brooke: Maggie, I love you and sincerely believe that no harm will come to you. Ever. Do you know what you need?
Maggie shakes her head.
THEY ALL SING MY CHICKENS. THEY SING A FRIENDSHIP SONG.
It actually doesn’t matter what song they sing – it should be a fun/overdramatic song that’s easy to rock out too, like “Bohemian Rhapsody” “Don’t Stop Believing” “Wake Me Up Inside” and the like. Or “Let It Go” since this is supposedly a play for kids, I don’t know. The three actresses should just totally rock out and have fun singing this song and maybe the audience should be encouraged to sing along too because because because.
This scene gets rewritten so many times in my head I swear. This is what I have so far.
It’s finally Trivia Night and Emily has finally arrived. She is sitting at a table set for three, looking around eagerly. There should be other patrons at the bar, including Kurt Gallagher. Emily is very excited for all sorts of reasons. Maggie enters and sits at the table.
Maggie: It was kind of a slow night at Cheezy Pizza, so they showed me how to make a pizza! I made a pizza! People ate a thing I made! They paid for it! I need your opinion on something. Should Pizza Girl have a pizza paddle as a weapon? I mean, I know I’m a delivery girl, not a pizza chef, but I felt so bangin’. It was like a weapon. I should have a weapon. What do you think?
Emily: Are you trying to be the same as Pizza Boy, or do you want to be your own person?
Maggie: That’s the real question, isn’t it?
Emily: I can’t help you. You have to decide for yourself. Also, I have news.
Maggie: I know, I heard they cast Heat Shield.
This is not Emily’s news, but she is excited about it nonetheless.
Emily: And she looks so much like Heat Shield!
Maggie: I don’t think she looks like Heath Shield.
Emily: What do you mean? She looks so much like her. In the face. I saw on tumblr, they compared various angles of her face to different comic panels and it’s like line for line legit. It’s amazing.
Maggie: She’s a model. She’s really skinny. That’s one of the things I like about Heat Shield, she has the thick thighs and arms. She looks powerful. She looks capable of carrying around life-saving equipment. But the actress, whatever her name is, she looks like a twig. I could break her in two.
Emily: Well they cast her for looks. She can put on muscle.
Kurt returns to the table, carrying three drinks. He distributes them on the table.
Kurt: You must be Maggie! I brought you a Sprite.
Maggie: Oh, thanks. Hey, when you have a second, can you bring me a menu?
Kurt and Emily exchange a look. Kurt laughs and sits down at the third seat.
Kurt: I was a waiter all through college, I guess I do give off that waiter-y vibe.
Kurt is Emily’s big news.
Emily: Maggie, this is Kurt. We met today at the student union. He just walked right up to me and said hi!
Kurt: The service here is atrocious.
Emily: I think just because it’s trivia night. There must be a lot more people here than-
Kurt: So I just got our drinks from the bar.
Emily gives Maggie a big grin. Maggie already doesn’t like him, but puts on a smile.
Maggie: Nice to meet you, Kurt. You graduated from college, huh? What were you doing at the student union?
Kurt: Picking up cute coeds.
He winks at Emily, who swoons, I guess? She reacts in a positive manner? Look, I don’t know how people act okay. I sit alone at my computer underneath a blanket and write things and sometimes I crawl out and make pizza. I do not know how people who are infatuated act. She does a thing that infatuated people do.
Maggie: I see. What else do you do?
Kurt: Oh, I’m a writer. I know that Emily here is a blogger. What do you like to do?
Maggie: I’m a linguistics major.
Kurt: Yes, and is there anything else that you do when you’re not in class?
Maggie: Well obviously I hang out with Emily. We’ve been planning trivia night for months, did you know that you’re the third person we’ve invited to these?
Emily: And speaking of which, we should pick out our team name. I was thinking about going with our initials. MEK. Or KEM.
Emily: I like it. Mecha Pilots.
Kurt: I don’t get it. Mecha?
Maggie: It’s a pretty basic anime concept.
Emily: It’s like human-shaped spaceships so you can have giant space battles but maneuver more instinctively. They showed it in District Nine and Pacific Rim.
Maggie: Excellent movies.
Emily: Indeed. So I was thinking that you probably want pickle chips, and I know I want buffalo wings, so maybe each of us can get our own appetizer and I don’t think we’ll need entrees, what do you think?
Maggie: I don’t think I’ll be satisfied with just pickle chips.
Emily: Oh, so maybe dessert? Let’s see what desserts they have.
Kurt: Maybe we should get pizza. Do you like pizza?
The way he says it is very suspicious. Maggie stares at him.
Emily: Oh, Maggie works for a pizza place, she’s probably sick of it by now. I love pizza though. Maybe we can split a pizza.
Kurt (fake-surprise): Oh, you work for a pizza place?
Emily: How did you know…?
Kurt: I didn’t. I’m surprised to learn that. How long have you been working there? When did you start delivering pizzas? Do you enjoy it? What made you want to deliver pizzas?
Maggie: She didn’t say that I deliver pizzas. She just said I work there.
Emily and Maggie exchange a very significant look: this guy is very suspicious, should they even be sitting at the same table as him?
This is about the time that I realized the scene was, once again, going in a different direction than I want. But how do I want the scene to end, anyway? I need to brush my teeth and head on out anyway.
I am now the full-time pizza person at my local Harris Teeter. It is a promotion. I’m…enduring it?
A customer came up to my workstation today and ordered an entire chicken-pesto-on-wheat. I told him it would be about 10 or 15 minutes. He said that was fine and left to do some shopping. He returned while his pizza was still in the oven, so we started chatting. I asked him about his day and he rattled off all the reasons he was happy — makes good money, never sees his boss, isn’t set to any particular schedule, etc. The only downside was living an hour away from his job.
“Och, I’m sorry about that,” I said, because sometimes I’m Scottish. “I had to do that when I lived in DC. It’s not fun.”
He was fine with it, really. He had everything he would ever want, through the blessings and grace of God. God had done so well by him, with love and care and devotion.
Then he gave me a look, a squint and a head cock. “What church do you go to?”
I’ve found that people who would ask a complete stranger such a personal question are generally not to be trifled with. You don’t tell them the complete truth. You don’t lie either. You have to stay on neutral ground as much as you can.
“I haven’t found a church down here yet,” I said, which is technically true.
Welp. “I was so happy with my parent’s church that I don’t think any church can live up to it,” I lied.
“What did you like about it?”
“It was a church that was really focused on giving,” I said. “There were all sorts of opportunities to give and be involved charity.”
“Are you a sports fan?” he asked.
“Aren’t the Wizards from Washington?”
“Yes,” I said, “But I’m more of a Nats fan.”
Let’s be honest, I’m more of a Presidential Race fan.
“Well so anyway, imagine if you were standing outside of the stadium, and you had all the stats. But you couldn’t get into the game, because you don’t have a ticket. They wouldn’t let you in to see the game. But the owner of the team came out and said, ‘this person is my friend,’ then they would let you in to see the game. And it’s the same way with heaven. You can have all the right deeds, but if you don’t let Jesus into your heart, then you won’t get into heaven.”
Thankfully the buzzer went off and I was able to get his pizza out of the oven and into the box and get him away from me. Because that sentiment disgusts me. It’s not even about the fact that I’m wavering between agnosticism and atheism (so, like, solidly agnostic, then).
My mother raised me to believe that Jesus came to Earth to create God’s Kingdom on Earth. A place where people did good deeds for each other, were kind to their neighbor, and by following Jesus’ teachings, creating a much better place — a heaven on Earth. My absolute favorite teaching, even in my agnosticism, is Matthew 6:1-8.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
In other words, you are the only person who needs to know about your good deeds. If the reward for doing a good thing for someone else is the praise of other people, then you had an ulterior motive, didn’t you? If you expect a reward for doing something nice — well — that just doesn’t seem very nice, that’s all! If you only do something good because you expect to go to heaven because of it, maybe you should reflect a bit on your motives. Is doing a good thing just to get a reward really a good thing? Should your morality really be set on an end goal?
And the idea that the only way to go to heaven is to accept Jesus into your heart, etc. etc., really disgusts me. Heaven is an exclusive club, apparently.