My Spirit Animal

So. I went to the movies the other day. What did I see, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you. No laughing though. It was Detective Pikachu, with none other than Deadpool himself as the titular character. I will just say… GREAT movie. In fact, I saw it twice. I’ll probably go see it again. I know, I know, it’s not exactly Oscar-worthy and the snootier among us won’t even give it a chance. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it.

Pokemon holds a very special place in my heart. My kids grew up with it and I enjoyed it alongside them. I eventually became very familiar with all things Pokemon – from the television show and popular games to the trading cards and movies. Yes, there were movies prior to the live-action one starring Ryan Reynolds Deadpool. They were of the animated variety, but still.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there are about a gazillion Pokemon, Pokemon being “pocket monsters.”  For those into the Pokemon craze, we all have our favorite. If you asked most fans, they’d probably tell you they prefer the “cooler” ones like Charizard or Mewtwo. There’s also a wide fan base for the most recognizable Pokemon of all, Pikachu.

If you asked me what my favorite Pokemon was, however, you’d probably be a bit underwhelmed. Who’s that Pokemon? (Ha! See what I did there? Oh, well, you’d have to follow the show to get that joke. Nevermind.)

Without a doubt, Psyduck. Seeing the most recent incarnation of this amazingly awesome pocket monster on the big screen just solidified my connection.

click the pic for the Detective Pikachu movie trailer … you can catch a glimpse of Psyduck in his glory at the 2:13 mark.

I relate to Psyduck on a deep, personal level. You might even say that Psyduck is my spirit animal. This little, yellow duck-like Pokemon is widely considered to be one of the more useless Pokemon. Still, I can’t help feeling drawn to him. Personally, I think Psyduck gets a bad rap.

See, Psyduck is absolutely riddled with anxiety. About what?  Well, about everything. Boy, can I relate to that. He’s also plagued with constant migraines and I feel his pain on a spiritual level. The thing is though, Psyduck’s anxiety and migraines can get to a breaking point and when that happens, he loses his shit. Which in this case, means he explodes with a wave of psychic energy the force of which is not unlike a nuclear bomb. Like I said, awesome, right??

Unfortunately, fortunately, of course, I mean, fortunately, my especially bad migraines don’t lead to an outburst of awe-inspiring psychic energy. Psyduck has me beat there. My migraines do occasionally make me lose my shit but I’m still waiting on those psychic powers.

Much like me, Psyduck is also shy and easily overwhelmed by the world around him. These qualities tend to make Psyduck reluctant to engage in battles like most Pokemon and it makes him endlessly frustrating to his trainer. I, too, tend to shut down in overwhelming situations and it can be frustrating to those around me. In fact, frustrations abound. Maybe Psyduck and I are just misunderstood.

And hey, at least we’re not a Magikarp.

Would You Like a Migraine With That?

Going out to a fine restaurant should be a relaxing experience. You get all dressed up and make the necessary reservations and… end up seated next to a group of rowdy restaurant goers who couldn’t care less that you’re out for the first time in two months, trying to have a quiet conversation with your significant other.

This has happened to all of us and though I should probably be used to it by now, I’m not. In fact, I can’t stand it. As many of you know, I hate people noise. Even in places where people noises are a given, I hate… umm… noise. You expect this kind of migraine-inducing behavior in a family-oriented establishment (I mean, kids, am I right?) but it’s not exactly the kind of ambiance you expect at a five-star restaurant.  Can kids make a hell of a lot of noise? Yes. Can adults have a few drinks and start blabbering at a volume comparable to a classroom of 3rd graders going on a field trip? Oh hell yes.

Just this past month (yeah, yeah, okay, so I don’t get out much), I visited a local restaurant with a reputation for its elegant atmosphere and delicious cuisine. Unfortunately, the layout of the tables meant that restaurant patrons had to sit incredibly close together – uncomfortably close. As in, I’m sorry my elbow hit you in the head as I tried to twirl my spaghetti with my fork close.

I was lucky enough to be seated directly next to a group of businessmen in flashy suits who had clearly had more than their fair share of drinks. It was difficult to tell if they were celebrating a job well done for one of their own or a general, we need to drink this week away kind of thing. Oh, and I don’t know who the hell George is, but whew! He sure seems bad at his job, and here he makes all that money too. What was upper management thinking!?

This domino effect of people struggling to hear over one another began with this table of drunken men and spread through the place like an obnoxious plague. My head was spinning, and I felt like I was a part of twelve different conversations that I had absolutely no desire to be included in. From the top picks for this year’s NFL draft to a heated argument between a young couple over their dog’s bathroom habits, my attention was being pulled from table to table no matter how hard I tried to center myself.

You know what doesn’t help matters? Unnecessarily loud music. I know, right? It seems like common sense, but there you go. Even the most elegant of establishments these days feels the need to recreate the joys of an outdoor concert… with the requisite bad sound equipment. If I wanted to go to a rave, I’d call up one of those friends I had in college who liked to get drunk and “vibe” to trance music.

Loud music only amplifies an already present problem (ha! See what I did there?). It’s one thing for a crowded bar to blast the latest hits at earth-shatteringly high levels, you expect that; but you shouldn’t really have to suffer through an ever-growing cacophony of noise in a place where you’re paying $30 for a damn side salad. Sorry, it just doesn’t scream “fine dining” to me. I can’t be the only one, right? Right!?

Books, Books, and More Books

I know, I know, enough with the books already, right? Oh, who am I kidding. I love books. Will always love books. And speaking of books, I need more bookshelves because my personal library is ever-growing. Yes, I buy books. I own books. I will also readily admit that I rarely clean out my collection, preferring to keep what I have forever. I. Love. Books.

I’ve talked before about the readers in my book clubs who seem to think that reading is a competition. In this week’s meeting, one woman announced she had read 30 books during the month of April. That’s one a day. Who has that kind of time?? I know, I know, I keep harping on the whole “how many books did you read” thing, having regaled you with other such stories recently… but come on!

These are the members who joined for the sole purpose of showing off their Evelyn Wood Speed Reading ability! No matter what book you bring up, they’ve read it. I mean, of course they have. They’ve seen the movie, and trust us, the book was better. Okay, well, they have a point there.

But you know what these voracious readers won’t do?  Re-read. “There are too many new books out there to read, why would I waste my time on re-reading?”  Ummm… I don’t know Karen, for starters, maybe you’ll catch little details you may have missed the first time during your speed-reading session. I’m no speed reader, but I, and many like me, reread books just for the purpose of enjoying a beloved story all over again, delighting in the subtle plot points we may not have noticed before, or for whatever reason, didn’t “click” in our heads during the first read. It’s like watching a movie more than once and catching the joke or the witty dialogue or the especially meaningful glance that you missed during the first viewing.

Not to mention that some books just get better with age. Maybe upon a second or third read, the story will hold greater meaning – or be interpreted completely differently – because as we age, so does our insight. Re-reading allows us to tap into that maturing mindset to see things differently than we did before.

For me, my most dog-eared books are what I call my “comfort reads.” They are books I’ve read too many times to count just because they bring me joy (as much as Stephen King can bring joy), I love the characters more than a person should ever love fictional characters (I’m looking at you Poirot and Mr. Darcy), or because the story means something to me. And you know what? I’m not ashamed. Re-reading is cool.

So, as I close out my book rants for a while, what are my words to you? Read the book you’ve already read. And then read it again. Drink it in, enjoy it. You won’t regret it. Trust me on this.

Puppy Power

I try to be positive … I try to keep “I made it to Wednesday!” and “It’s one day closer to Friday!” in my mind. But I usually end up regressing to “It’s only Wednesday…” followed by an ugh or a blech.

It may be coincidence, but this was the first post on my Facebook feed this morning. Vividly accurate, I must say.

And how is YOUR Wednesday?

Easter Parade of Goodies

Better late than never, I guess, so, to all my friends, Happy Easter and Happy Passover! I hope the holiday, however you spend it, brought you peace and the love of good friends and family.  As for me, I think I’ve zoomed past the sugar rush and am headed for a candied crash. Let’s hope the marshmallow Peeps soften my fall.

Take a Number

Just this week, I found out that I owed a fortune for a missed EZ pass violation when I tried to renew my registration.  I paid it by phone and was told I had to go to the MVA right then because the lady who took my payment was sending over a “clear notice” for the flag and it could only be done that day.  OOOOOOkkkkkkk… I was in jammies since I was gonna stay home all day and work. Because, of course I was.

Off I go to the MVA.  About ten minutes in to the drive, I see a car parked to the side of the road.  It registered in my brain that it was a cop and I was going, well, warp-speed, just as his lights came on.  Why hello officer, hope you’re having a nice day. Why no, I don’t know why you’re stopping me… And I must’ve looked particularly pitiful, bonus points for not having time to do my make-up properly, or else he had bigger fish to fry, because all I got was a warning. Little did I know this was just the universe lulling me in to a false sense of security.

My Google maps tried to loop me in a circle to get to the MVA.  Luckily, I remembered it had done that the last time I went to the MVA, and I was able to keep from going too far down that rabbit hole again.

Get to the MVA and see that it’s national let’s all go to the MVA day.  Who knew?

MVA Hell started when I was instructed to wait in a line to find out what line I should wait in.  I had to pee when I went in but refused to go after being in line cause I didn’t want to start over.  After about 45 minutes I finally get to the front and the person in charge of the line pulled up my account to see that the lady who took my phone payment hadn’t sent anything over at all, even though she had told me I HAD to got to MVA that day or the world was going to implode.  Go over to the EZ Pass counter, they say.  It’ll be fun, they say.

Next stop for me had to be the restroom.  The disgustingly dirty restroom with no TP and no paper towels. Whatever. I’ve got kids. And dogs. I’ve handled worse.

I come out and head over to the EZ Pass counter line.  After twenty minutes I am told that I needed to go up to the bill payment collections counter with my confirmation number that the lady had given me over the phone (that I had taken with me despite the lady on the phone saying I wouldn’t need it, cause I’m obsessive prepared like that).  UUUUPPPP the escalator I go where I immediately found myself in another line.

After 15 minutes I realize this line was not an official line. I look around to see the “take ticket” sign and plod over to grab a number.  It was like 1006 or something, with the “now serving” number on 4.  After sitting for another 20 minutes, someone comes out and I ask (beg) her to tell me I was in the right place.  Not exactly; she hears what I need and sends me to the bill payment collections window… which is apparently different from the bill payment collections counter. I don’t know, people. It’s the freakin’ MVA.

I was in that line for about ten minutes.  The lady at the counter … there was no window, and trust me, the irony was not lost on me despite my ever-growing frustration … pulled my file up, saw the fines had been paid, gave me what I needed and instructed me to go back to the EZ Pass line. What I needed just happened to be the same confirmation number I already had in hand, just handwritten by the clerk on a piece of official MVA scrap paper.

Down I went, back to the EZ Pass line.  After waiting in that line for what seemed like an hour – though was likely just 15 minutes, I was told that I hadn’t needed to be in that line, I needed to be on the other side of the room waiting to pay my flag and administrative fines.  First, of course, I had to go back into the original line and get a number.

From there, it was the typical waiting around. As if I hadn’t been doing that enough already.  I don’t know how many of you frequent the MVA, but the waiting area is sort of like a twisted Survivor game.  Alliances are made and broken, betrayal (well it’s YOUR fault you went outside for a minute, back of the line, pal), bartering (yup, I’m number 7345.  I see you’re 8736, I may be able to help you out.  What’s it worth?).   Entire romances begin and end there (we didn’t know each other when we came here this morning, now we’re getting a divorce.  Meet Jim, our son, he’s graduating from college next year).  Tempers flare because there are no snacks (why don’t they allow a hotdog stand in there, is what I want to know), and online identities are stolen (well, duh, they name the Wi-Fi “use at your own risk”).

Finally, I get to see someone and thankfully she was very kind. I know, I know, I was just as shocked as you, but it’s true. Anyway, my paperwork (if it can even be called paperwork, since it’s all maintained in cyberspace) was straightened out with the simple press of a button and I was finally free to be on my way.

Next time I go to the MVA, it will be for my license renewal.  That’s simple enough though.  I snagged the instructional pamphlet on my way out of the MVA and I’m reading it as we speak.  Wait. What the Hell is a “Real ID” and why do I need my birth certificate, social security card, first born child, and the middle names of my great-great-great grand parents?

Screw this. I’m taking the bus.