Archive | June, 2013

If Disney Characters Worked at the DMV

21 Jun

I recently received a letter from my friendly Department of Motor Vehicles.

“We’re contacting you in regards to your driver’s license which expires in the year 2030. In Arizona we issue 30 year licenses because our state government is a little crazy (Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for example). Still, we understand that you’ve had a stressful few years and perhaps you look a little different from when you first moved to this beautiful state. Therefore, we kindly request that you present yourself, along with your check for $12, to your local DMV to obtain a new photo.”

Are you kidding me? Don’t they realize that I look exactly the same as I did back in 2000 (perhaps even a little better)? So, in order to continue to drive legally, I reported to the DMV.

You know it’s a bad sign when you pull into the parking lot of the DMV and there’s not a parking space to be found. After circling multiple times, I finally grabbed an open space and, with a growing sense of dread, headed into the unremarkable, brick building.

As I entered I heard numbers being called.

“B129. E011, G726”

It felt like I was in a giant BINGO game. I headed over to the picture taking area, where I was promptly told I had to go back to the long line near the entrance in order to receive my ‘paperwork.’ What ‘paperwork?’ I have the letter that says what I need.

“F541, G727, C232”

Understanding that, just like the security line at the airport, this is one of those times that you simply say, “Yes Ma’am,” I headed over to the dreaded line. This line had about thirty people standing in it, all looking stone-faced as if they just stepped out of the latest zombie movie. I stood there and waited. . . and waited.

“E012, D592”

Finally, I reached the front of the line where I was handed a form to complete and a number. I was told to wait for my number to be called and then I could go get my picture taken. As I sat down I asked others how long they had been waiting. With a smirk they replied, “Over an hour.” Oh joy!

I completed my form and waited. I sat there thinking about the Skype chat I just had with a former Disney co-worker prior to my trip to the DMV. Perhaps it was that conversation, or the incessant number calling, or the odorous gentleman sitting next to me (Dude, I’ll hold your spot. Go home and take a shower!) but I somehow found myself escaping into a daydream. And as the numbers grew more and more faint. . .

“B130, C233, F092”

I daydreamed that Disney Characters had taken over the DMV.

DMV for PowerPoint

As I drive my beautiful car ‘Lightening McQueen’ into the parking lot of the building marked, ‘Motor Vehicle Department – The Happiest Place on Earth,’ I see various people dressed in turquoise pointing me (using two fingers, of course) through the parking lot. I am directed to an empty space about a mile from the building’s entrance where I park and am immediately collected by a long tram. I sit and am told to keep my hands inside and remember where I parked (uh, isn’t that why I have that emergency alarm on my key FOB? So I don’t have to remember). I am instructed to wait for the vehicle to come to a complete stop before exiting and to enjoy my day at the DMV.

“Wait, my day?” I ask the driver. “But I only need a photo.”

“Aahhh yes. You should plan on spending the day as we want you to get your money’s worth.”

I walk through the entrance to the tune of “Be Our Guest” and, in an attempt not to wait in the ridiculously long line at the front, I find a window with nobody waiting. I approach the employee, who seems to have the power to read minds as he corrects me to tell me he is a Cast Member (perhaps he’s a Genie). I ask if I can get a Fast-Pass to go directly to the photo line.

His response, “That is one wish I cannot grant.”

I do the walk of shame over to the never-ending main information line and wait. . . and wait (some things never changes). When I finally reach the front there is a boy working the desk. Well, I think he’s a boy. He looks young but a little wooden. I tell him I just need a new photo for my license. He hand me a form to complete and a number. As he tells me the wait shouldn’t be very long I swear I see his nose grow longer.

I sit down and complete my form. Once I’m finished, I take the opportunity to people watch. I see a man step up to a window where the beautiful, yet over-dressed, blonde behind the desk immediately slams down her closed sign exclaiming, “It’s 12 o’clock! I must go!” And mumbles something about a pumpkin and mice.

Clock strikes 12

There is a really short Grumpy guy working the next window. And next to him is a really beautiful lady that says she’s much too sleepy to work and needs to go take a long nap. At the end of the counter is a tall guy with a Goofy grin on his face.

All of them are supervised by a scowling lady walking behind them and looking over their shoulders. When she starts screaming at one cast member who must have a skin condition as he has spots all over him, he seems frightened and apologetically responds, “I’m sorry Miss DeVille.”

 DMV Ticket Finally, I hear, “A044.”

Cartoonish birds and butterflies start to circle me and I hear the song, ‘Whistle a Happy Tune’ as I skip up to the photo window (yes skip, I’m beginning to enjoy my fantasy). I’m greeted by, what seems to be another boy, this time wearing a funny green hat. His name-badge says Peter. He seems to have a tiny ball of light moving around him that he talks to. Perhaps he’s schizophrenic. He asks what he can help with and I tell him I need a new driver’s license photo as, apparently, the DMV thinks I might look a little older than I did in the previous one.

He leans in a gives me his wise advice, “Never grow-up!” Peter Pan

“I’m doing my best!” I explain.

He instructs me to stand in front of the green screen while he takes my picture. I imagine all kinds of background inserted on the green screen in my photo. He then tells me to think of a happy thought, smile and snaps the photo. Finally I’m told to go to “the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.”

“What? I’ll be here all night ‘til tomorrow morning?”

“Just take a seat,” he says.

I sit. Eventually, I hear, “A044.”

When I step up to the window I encounter a beautiful red-head who is wearing a dress that is much too tight. She hands me my new driver’s license while asking if I need anything else. When I mention that the service here is pretty bad, she tells me that it’s not so, it’s just drawn that way. Uh, ok.

At long last, new driver’s license in hand, I head to the door while whistling a happy tune. As I leave there’s a giant mouse standing there waving and shouting, “See ya real soon!” Uh, I really hope not.

Mickey Mouse

“A044. Last call for A044.”

I’m shaken out of my daydream, so I stand up and yell, “BINGO!”

I look around at everyone staring at me, put my head down, get my picture taken and take a seat to wait some more.

Perhaps if Disney owned the DMV it would be a bit more fun. But then again, a driver’s license would cost more than a car.

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Overcoming My Fear of Flying

12 Jun

I have a fear of flying.

“What?” you say. “Aren’t you the one who travels the world finding adventures? Surely you cannot be afraid of flying!”

With that you would be right, and wrong. I have no issues with airplanes unless I’m assigned a middle seat as I am deathly afraid of that. The fear of flying I’m speaking of is the Flying Trapeze. So, in honor of my birthday (Monday, and yes, I’m still waiting for your present) I took a trapeze lesson.

First, let me explain why birthday adventures are so important to me. I love birthdays. It’s the one holiday that’s all my own. I don’t have to share it with anybody (it must be lousy to be a twin but I guess you’ve learned to share in the womb)! And while I may not be able to remember what I did last Thursday, I remember where I was and what I did on most of my birthdays. I spent two birthdays in Alaska with the sun setting at about 2:30am and rising at about 4:00am. I spent one in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was working but ducked into a pub for a little birthday drink. One was celebrated on a Tall Ship from the 1930’s in the middle of the Caribbean while looking at the wash of the Milky Way Galaxy and wishing on five shooting stars. I rode a bike around Berlin (with clients) on a birthday a few years ago. And last year I did my birthday trip to England (read On A Wing and a Prayer) and then flew to New York to celebrate the day with my oldest friend.

After much consideration (okay, after a fleeting thought) I had a brilliant idea. Trapeze! I did a Google search and, lo and behold, while I was out of town these last two years, Trapeze U opened up in four miles from my house. My only concern was an issue with my back as of late. Oh, and the fear. Yes, there was that. I waited until the day of my birthday (again, June 10, still waiting for your presents) to see how my back would feel that day.

I woke up with my usual run to the medicine cabinet and picked up an ice pack from the freezer. After a while, my back was feeling better and I decided to commit. I pulled up the website and booked my ticket for a “Monday Night Special.” Yikes!

I spent the day getting free food (love the local restaurants that understand the importance of your own personal holiday) and running errands. I went to the gym as I though it important to be warmed up, stretched out and as light as possible.

The lesson was scheduled for 7:30pm as, at 113 degrees, the temperature is too hot to touch your steering wheel let alone swing on a trapeze. I arrived at about 7:00pm and sat in my car staring at the empty swing while trying to imagine myself up there. It didn’t look very high. ‘Yeh, I can do this,’ I convinced myself. I entered the office and was greeted with a friendly, “Hello.” I energetically responded and made some amusing quip (it’s important that these people like you as they’re responsible for whether you live or die). They handed me an info. sheet and release to sign. All was fine until I got to the line about “Your Emergency Contact.” Crap. I wrote down my sister’s name and immediately texted her to stand by her phone “just in case.”

After various others filed in and completed their paperwork, we headed outside. They hooked us all up in safety harnesses. These were tightened so that my waist was about the size of my thigh, although with my larger thighs, this is not saying much (thanks mom!). All I can think is, “Does this safety harness make my butt look big?”). They then separated us into two groups – first timers and previous flyers. There were 6 of us first timers and 5 experienced. Of the first timers, I was the oldest. The others were teenagers. Fabulous! The experienced ones consisted of teenagers, an eight year old (Azalea, known as Z), Z’s mother, Seven (yes, that’s her name) and a 51-year-old (Linda).

They asked us first timers to line up while they instructed us on positions and listening. We then practiced how to grasp the trapeze, jump and let go of the support pole (very important it’s done in this order). The instructor told us that immediately after we started our swing they would tell us to kick up and hook our knees around the bar and let go. Uh, what? Don’t I first get a chance to just swing? You want me to immediately go upside down? You’ve got to be kidding.

The experienced people went first followed by the first timers. I’m third in line. While Katie, the 13 year-old in front of me swung, I was called to climb the ladder. It’s a very narrow, metal ladder wrapped in rope. I began climbing on the outside and when I reach the first rung painted red (where the net was at, I was told to step on the inside and climb the rest of the way. This was one of the toughest parts as the ladder not only hurts your hands and feet, but we seem to have a battle over which one of us was shaking more. The

Trapeze Ladder Climb

The Dreaded Ladder

higher I climbed, the more terrified I became. ’Why can’t I be a normal person who celebrates their birthday with cake and perhaps a cocktail?’ I thought. Finally I heard a voice behind me saying, “Two more steps.” I got to the second red ladder rung and was told to hold on with both hands and step back onto the platform. This part was less scary than I thought it would be, but that’s most likely because I just wanted to get off the ladder. I stepped onto the platform and grabbed the cable thinking good thoughts and doing some yoga breathing. I asked the guy his name and immediately forgot it (really, my mind was elsewhere). I listened closer than I have ever listened in my life. Oh, and I DID NOT LOOK DOWN!

The man whose name I cannot remember (let’s call him Voldemort) hooked my safety

Ladder to Platform

Get me off this ladder!

harness to cables and told me to spread my legs (uh, I’ll just leave this one alone) and hold onto the cable with my left hand. He held onto my safety harness while using a pole to bring the trapeze bar closer to us (breathe). He then told me to grab the bar with my right hand and push my hips forward. Done. When he said, “Hep” (circus term for go) I let go with my left hand and go. This was completely wrong order and I also didn’t jump as was supposed to. Basically, I just held on and fell. Immediately I heard, “Kick your legs up.” I kicked, but my legs didn’t quite make it under the bar to hook onto it. My hands hurt. I heard the guy on the ground tell me to kick my legs forward like I’m sitting and let go. As always, I’m good at falling. I landed in the net grateful that it didn’t hurt my back. I stood up and did the crazy chicken net walk over to the edge, grabbed onto the marked spots, laid down and flipped off the net. I stood there and yelling, “I flew!” Perhaps I didn’t accomplish the whole upside down thing, but I got off that platform without delay and I swung.

We got a couple of more turns in our rotation during which I still could not quite get my legs up there. “Damn, you’re strong girl,” was the comment from Voldemort. Apparently that was my problem. I kept bending my arms and basically doing pull-ups. Ha! I can’t do one in the gym but I did about 40 on this night.

They then lined us up again to instruct us on how to hang upside down and pass to a catcher. Yes, let go of the trapeze with our legs and be held by a guy on another trapeze. There’s just one problem here – I still hadn’t hung upside down (okay, there’s probably more than one problem but that’s the first one).

I climbed up and told Voldemort that I would not be doing the catch. He seemed disappointed. Sorry, not happening. I gave the upside down thing one more try. They showed me a different way and I gave it my best shot. The only thing I accomplished was hooking my leg around my safety harness and screaming. Aah, comedy relief. Through a variety of twisting moves I unhooked my leg and hung by my hands anxiously waiting to be told to let go. Again, I’ve got the falling thing down.

One great part of the experience was bonding with the others in my group. We traded E-mails to send photos. I headed home for a dip in the pool and in the scotch.  I have not been able to raise my arms above my head for two days now. A birthday to remember.

Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis

2 Jun

Mid-Life Crisis

I’ve decided to paint my bedroom pink.

“I’m sorry, are you a seven year-old, wanna be princess?” you ask.

Point taken. But let me give you some background. In the last three months I have lost a friend to cancer (Goodbye, Farewell and Amen), had a cancer scare of my own and quit my job after two doctors told me the 80-hour weeks and stress was doing my health no good. I think this might be part of a mid-life crisis. And what’s more, I’m kind of enjoying it.

As I said, I’ve spent the last two years working 80 hours a week while managing 23 year-olds. I worked in a very competitive atmosphere (it could be considered cut-throat as there were times I wanted to cut mine) while trying to please Guests (never called a passenger and always with a capital ‘G’), onboard bosses and shore-side bosses. Before that, I spent a couple of years attempting a delicate balance of struggling to keep my house and my sanity while working 5 jobs (relive the fun at My Schizophrenic Life).

Then there was the whole experience of many people massaging by breast, and not in a good way as they stuck needles, titanium and a scalpel in it. That, combined with my friend’s battle with, and ultimate death from cancer has apparently made me re-examine the balance in my life.

So now I’m on the job hunt. Not the desperate job hunts of my past, but a job hunt that fulfills me both financially and personally. It’s a time/money balance, a life-purpose/money balance and a where the hell do I want to live/money balance. While I search for a future that means something to both me and the world at large, I might as well be at peace with my surroundings.

Life BalanceI bought my house nearly eleven years ago. I painted the living room and master bedroom soon after. I’m a do-it-yourselfer. A week after I moved in my garbage disposal broke. Twenty years ago my mom installed a garbage disposal in our kitchen (yeh, mom was impressive). I figured it has to be much easier these days so I decided that, instead of calling a plumber, I would install my own. It cost me $60 to buy an Insinkerator (it made me feel like I had a boy-band in my kitchen). While it was more difficult than I thought it would be and involved a few yoga positions while attempting to lift the thing above my head while lying under the sink, with one hand twisting the appliance into the exact right position to avoid leaks, and with the other hand clutching my pipe-wrench to screw in nuts, bolts and other bits of metal and rubber. Upon finishing I declared myself, ‘Queen of Garbage Disposals.’ When I proudly told my realtor of my accomplishment his response was, “You know your home warranty would most likely cover that?” Talk about bursting my bubble.

I moved on to painting. I first tackled the living room. After multiple, daily trips to my friends at Home Depot, attending their, ‘How to paint your house class’ (I was the only student) and browsing home decorating books I was ready to begin. I began taping and caulking. “Caulking, you ask?” Is there a leak? Aah, this is why you should go to the house painting class. I now have perfectly straight lines. A little how to for all of you do-it-yourselfers out there – take a dab of paintable, clear caulk and spread it lightly across the edge of the tape. When you pull the tape your lines will be as straight as Tom Cruise pretends to be. Bathed in maroon and gold, my living room now has the comfortable feel of a Moroccan hookah lounge.

Painting

On to the bedroom. I found some beautiful satiny-brown curtains and decide my bedroom should feel a bit spa-like. At the time, browns and light greens implying a bamboo forest were very in. I went to Home Depot and told the designer (they used to offer this free service) that I was looking for a ‘happy olive.’ The best thing about this designer was that she not only didn’t burst out with laughter and get on the public address system announcing to all, “Hey, has anybody seen a happy olive? How about a sad one?” but she actually pretended to know what I was talking about. Fairway Mist purchased and I moved on to painting.

As the master bedroom also has an en suite bath (I’ve been watching House Hunters) I painted this too. During the taping process I began wondering how I ever thought eleven foot cathedral ceilings were a good thing. Even with my 10 foot ladder I had to lean it against the wall over the counter-top, stand at the top and do yoga moves in order to reach the top of the wall. After many days, my mission was accomplished. My room was ‘Happy Olive.’ I hated it.

I’ve thought about changing the color many times over the years but the memory of the first painting experience had yet to fade (similar to why it takes you a decade to be able to smell tequila following ‘that night’ that so many of us have had in our younger years). Now that I’m enjoying my mid-life crisis I’ve decided it’s now or never. What’s more, I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom. Not princess pink. No frilly, white curtains. No lacy lampshades. Just a nice feminine pink offset by my still lovely chocolate-brown curtains.

Not my bedroom

Not my bedroom

So, if I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom why didn’t I paint it pink in the first place? Well, I thought about the possibility of a man in my life. Nobody specific. I just wondered if it might be a turn-off for a man as he might not feel comfortable in a pink bedroom. Perhaps a little part of me also felt that I was a grown woman and pink was not a grown-up color. It turns out it’s like craving a pizza or Chinese food. You can eat every hamburger in sight but the craving won’t go away until you get an egg roll and some orange chicken in you. And as for any man well, I have waited long enough for him to come and tell me pink makes him uncomfortable. And, from my experience with men, I’ve learned that they couldn’t care less if the walls are pink. They wouldn’t notice if there were a pink alligator in the room.

With a mid-life crisis in the works to help fade the bad memory of the previous bedroom painting experience, I buy a couple of gallons of Romantic Morn. I’ve spent the last week taping, caulking (don’t forget the caulk) and painting. I listen to music to pass the time. Besides giving in to my inner-princess, I also spend one painting day embracing my inner-nerd. Instead of music, I listen to podcasts of NPR’s ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ and ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class.’ Geek, party of one.

I finish the first and (I think) only coat as I have bought the Behr paint with paint and primer in one. It turns out that this stuff works as well as shampoo and conditioner in one. Your hair feels not quite clean and definitely not quite soft and untangled. I head back to Home Depot with a bit of an attitude yet with the understanding that it’s not the fault of the lady in the paint department (although she irritates me when she acts surprised that I would think I would only need one coat).

Second coat applied and . . . I love it. I feel ‘in the pink!’ I am a princess!

This next week will be committed to taping and painting the frighteningly, high-ceilinged bathroom, and maybe a little more NPR geekdom. Oh, and a job interview via Skype with England. Yes, this princess still needs a job.

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