Things That Happen During a Michigan Winter

If you live in Michigan and can relate, fabulous! If you don’t, here is a list of things you definitely aren’t missing.

#1) People suddenly forget how to drive.

You live in the state that houses the “Motor City” (Detroit). The city that “put the nation on wheels.” For the other six months of the year, you seem to be able to handle yourselves with some sensibility. So what is it about the cold and snow that gives you such anxiety, you feel forced to drive 25mph on every street at every time of the day? It didn’t even snow today, or yesterday, or the day before that. The roads are clear, there is even–dare I say it–excess salt on the roadways. And yet… you drive like you’re simultaneously reading William Faulkner and having a heart attack. Slow, and with very little grace.

If you have grown up in Michigan, or even know anything about it, you’ll know that you should never drive slow here. The unspoken standard is a constant 5mph over the speed limit. If you do not drive at least that fast, someone will be tailing you. You might get a honk, or the finger, or any combination of road-rage expressions.

Obviously, drive sensibly for the weather. Don’t get into a car accident. But that’s if the roads are bad and it’s icy/snowing. On days when it’s just cold–

Drive the speed limit or STAY HOME!

Or drive like Phoebe.

driving pheobe

#17) You forget what the sun looks like.

Have I seen it recently? I don’t even remember. A lot of gray. That’s it, that’s all I see. So much gray. Even things that used to have color are now gray because there is so much salt on everything that the world has become muted. I’m also not sure if I have seen an animal other than my dog or a miserable looking human in the past week. No animals. They no longer exist. Just grayness and a depressing silence.

You could almost say the winter so far has been as dark as Batman’s soul.

batman

Shut up, Christian.

#276) You forget how to communicate with other people.

If it weren’t for the fact that I have class on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure I would never see another human being. Ever. I’m pretty good at making it on my own. I’m the type of person who doesn’t need a whole lot of human contact to feel satisfied. But in the dead of Michigan winter, it gets pretty excessive. I’ve often experienced whole weekends where I haven’t left my house–haven’t left my room!–and it occurs to me that that’s probably not the greatest thing in the world.

I mean, whatever if people think I’m a hermit. It’s a totally justifiable thing to do in this -15 degree weather. Who needs that anyway? What does it do for the earth except kill stuff? Nothing, that’s what. A whole bunch of freezing cold nothing.

I’m not even sure if, at this point, I could have a full length conversation with another human being and have it make sense. There would be words, sure, but would they all make sense together? I don’t have much confidence in that.

ross talking

Man, I guess I sort of had a Friends thing going on today. Whatever, it’s a great show that produces great gifs. I welcome them all!

I don’t know how winter is treating you, wherever you are right now, but I hope it’s warmer than it is here. If not, then I hope you have a lot of depression food to eat. My parents are currently on an eleven day cruise to the Caribbean and they left me in this, so I conned them into buying me a 5-pound tub of Twizzlers from Costco.

Haha, suckers. Who’s the real winner here?

Yeah, it’s still them.

5 Things That Feel Like the End of the World But [Probably] Aren’t

I’ve been compiling a list of these things for a little while now as they occur to me, and I thought I would share them with you. If you could experience the frustration of at least one of these things with me, I would greatly appreciate it. So I know I am not alone living an awkward, average life :)

5 Things That Feel Like the End of the World But [Probably] Aren’t

#1) Running out of contact solution when you still have a contact left in your eye.

I feel like this is just one, massive, karmic slap in the face. Although, karma implies that you’ve done something to deserve such a tragic experience. I can hardly see, as is, with one contact in and one in the case, and now you are telling me that the second contact can’t even be removed because there is no solution left?

What kind of nonsense…?

Reasonable solutions might be to share whatever contact solution is left, or (though you are not supposed to) put both contacts in the same section of the case and buy more solution tomorrow. Only, wait for it—

My eyes are two different prescriptions, so that won’t work.

I’m telling you. It really is the [almost] end of the world. So cruel.

Level of Irritation: 

Really sad Taylor Lautner. 

sad taylor lautner

#2) When you get the hiccups while brushing your teeth.

This could apply to many other situations, I think. Basically, hiccups are forever inconvenient; whatever you are doing when you get them. (Ehem–how many of you just made a dirty joke in your head?) (Oh, was it just me…? Awkward. Moving on.)

This has happened to me about three times in the past month. Why? What did I do to deserve this? I’m just trying to get ready for bed, for sleep–an activity I quite enjoy–and I get the hiccups.

Hiccups are the body’s natural reaction to some kind of change in one’s breathing pattern, right? Maybe that’s an extreme summation, but still, I was breathing normally!

Why do hiccups even exist? Who needs regulated breathing. What if we all had irregular breathing?!

Maybe that’s the secret to how mermaids breathe. What if the only thing in the way of humans becoming mermaids is hiccups? I would be so pissed. Though, obviously they do live underwater, so that’s another issue, but Ariel did not have gills, so– I’m suspicious.

And what about that Australian wind instrument? The Didgeridoo. There is no way you are going to tell me that the people who play the Didgeridoo don’t get hiccups all the time. Lies. Just lies.

Level of Irritation:

Emma Stone when she found out the Spice Girls weren’t coming.

mad emma stone

#3) Stubbing your pinky toe.

Like, sure, they exist for balance, but what does the pinky toe really do? It gets stubbed. All the time. If you ask me, this is why they are so short and ugly. Because over the course of history, humans have stubbed this toe so many times it has become deformed and tiny. Quivering in fear upon seeing every bedpost, sharp corner edge, chair leg, stair, banister, door, and computer cord. (What? It happens.)

Feet, if you ask me, are just weird in general. But that pinky toe is just some other kind of freaky. You don’t want to look at it too hard or for too long because then you start thinking about things. Important things. Philosophical things.

I’m lying. It just looks even weirder the longer you stare at it.

The things I do for you while I am writing these posts, I swear!

Level of Irritation: 

Fed up Stanley.

fed up stanley

#4) When you are watching Cupcake Wars and they cut to commercial before telling you the winner.

Even though this happens on every reality show ever, it still makes me extremely mad every time it happens. They have to keep you hooked, right, I get it, but how rude is that?

I’ve stayed with your freaking t.v. show all this time. I watched those people cooking. I watched the commercials trying to sell me cookware I don’t need. I even watched all of the commercials about all of the restaurants I can’t afford, selling their fancy food, and NOW, right when we’re about to get the resolution to the big question of the episode…

You go to yet another commercial break.

Rude. Just rude.

I just want to know if Jerry’s french toast vanilla coffee souffle cupcake is going to win, or if it’s going to be Susan’s pistachio ice cream mocha chocolate cherry cupcake. Okay? This is 55 minutes of my time I have given you. Do you know what a person can do in 55 minutes? You can watch 2.8 episodes of friends in 55 minutes. You can bake multiple batches of cupcakes in 55 minutes. I could eat 4 dinners in 55 minutes if I really wanted to. (I eat quickly.)

But no, I sacrificed my precious time for you, and you repay me by cutting to a commercial right before I am able to get the answer to the question that has haunted my mind for the last 55 minutes?

Oh, I could just–!

Level of Irritation:

VoldemortCause I’m about to Avada Kadavra all y’all’s asses! 

voldemort

#5) Reading Charles Dickens’ Bleak House for five straight hours. I’m not a huge Dickens fan to begin with, but kudos to those who are. I am more than willing to concede the fact that he is a very talented, influential, and important author. But people came to that conclusion long before me.

He’s just not my personal favorite.

And five hours of Bleak House? Well, the title of the novel is about as accurate as you can get. 1,000 pages on the Condition of England and the Law. I think my brain might have melted a little bit. I can hear it sloshing in my ears. Or maybe that’s just my attention span.

Level of Irritation:

Barney

barney

to Boo

boo

to this bunny.

sleepy bunny

Mel

The Epic Adventure of the Tree Nut Sesame Cat

Phil the Tree Nut Sesame Cat

This is Gary.

He is a Tree Nut Sesame Cat.

A rarity among mutant mammals, and with sightings numbering in the zero range for the last twenty-one years, he is an evil creation. An unfortunate myth. A nightmare that comes to torment me at the most unlikely of times. He is the black knight of allergens that pounces, silent and unpredictable, on the immune system that is my life.

He is a terror that follows me around without a word. I did tell you that Tree Nut Sesame Cats can speak, right? Well, they can. Why? Because I made them the hell up, that’s why!

When Gary talks, I imagine he would say something like: “I hate you.”

That’s it. Pretty simplistic, but terribly morbid.

Now, if you asked me yesterday if I would be telling you Gary’s story, the answer would have been no. However, as it has been lately requested by someone that you don’t know (I’m lying, it was me), to tell you the tale of Gary the Tree Nut Sesame Cat, I felt it a responsibility on my part to inform you of this majestically awful creature and his adventures tormenting my life.

You are welcome.

~~~~~

Gary’s point of view

I think I’m a pretty chill dude. I mean, I get around places pretty smoothly. I have yet to meet a cat that doesn’t like me, and I’ve always got birds riding my back, looking at me like they want to eat me up. Chicks, man. But it’s a good look, you know? Not one of those bad looks; like the ones you get when you sharpen your claws on your owner’s ugly parlor chair–the one with those stupid red shapes all over it–that looks like someone bled all over the thing.

You were just doing them a favor! But, as usual, it went unappreciated.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

I don’t have an owner. I’m a lone wolf kind of cat. Pretty intimidating, if you ask me. I live in the shadows. The ones that appear in alleys with the tossed out fish from the farmer’s market. The absence of light that exists at the edge of every forest, where even the little critters of the underground don’t crawl for fear of making it too far into the open on the other side of the darkness.

I’m an exception. I go everywhere she goes.

I even go to Disney World.

That’s where I was born. Not me in concept, just me in name. Gary, the Tree Nut Sesame Cat.

Like I said, I don’t have an owner, I just kind of do. She’s this girl I have to follow around; kind of stalker-ish, you know? She doesn’t like me much. Probably because I’m really good at hiding in stuff. I’m like a freaking chameleon. Now you see me. Now you’ll never see me again.

Boom!

I’m fabulous. My tail is a shimmery length of beautiful obsideon sesame glory, and my face is equally as inky soft. My stomach is a mixture of leafy olives and browns; a personal shade of camo that lets me blend where needed. I am a lean, mean, hiding machine. I should be a private investigator. But, unfortunately, my occupation is probably closer to a hit man. I prefer the term elite death-bringer, though. There’s more of a charm to it.

Rupee told the world about me.

Lila gave me a name.

Danny snapped the only photo of me in existence today.

Until that day I was doing so well. And now, look at me. I’m a failure. A fluke. I’ve been seen. And now I’m stuck in the shadows.

Like a monster.

~~~~~

Okay, a little bit of explanation: I’m extremely allergic to tree nuts, sesame, and cats. Gary was created as a joke after my friends discovered a typo of sorts on my Medical I.D. bracelet. That’s about as much explanation as I can give to this incredibly strange post.

I know I didn’t really tell any kind of story. It was more of a post consisting of word vomit than anything else…

I’m so sorry this was so weird! It has just been declared a snow emergency in my area of Michigan and I’m trapped inside as it snows and snows and snows and JUST KEEPS SNOWING! Also, I have an insane amount of homework to do that I’m pushing off. I mean, I had to write this obscure and completely bizarre blog post, right?

I just couldn’t let you guys down!

Plus the Superbowl is on which means, more importantly, the Superbowl commercials are on. The Seahawks have to win because that’s the team Jimmy Fallon’s puppies picked, and we can’t let those puppies down!

I will try to write you an actual post tomorrow. One that makes sense (ish). At least one that has a general point!

Mel

Terrors of a Tower and a Whole Bunch of Other Nonsense

This is it. The last tale in the Theme Park Chronicles. Not that I have been calling it that this entire time, I just thought it sounded pretty intense for the last bit. Chronicles is such a meaty word, don’t you think? Pretty epic.

But that is so not the point of anything right now. Moving on…

The Tower of Terror. Yes, this was an interesting ride for many reasons; reasons that made it most entertaining for me, I think. Let me tell you why:

Danny, boyfriend of Lila, who is sister to Rupee, who invited me. Make sense? Cool. Danny and the Tower of Terror have a long and twisted past. But, before we get to that, let me set the scene.

Inside a Disney theme park. Where? Just outside of the Tower of Terror. At dusk. The sun is setting, and the sky is a collage of pinks, purples, and blues. Every now and then a small cloud might pass by, but it is nothing like the permanently drudging overcast that is Michigan’s sky, so we will forgive said cloud.

There is a perfect view of the Tower and the night is still, so the lights from its flickering sign can be seen for quite some distance. The screams from its occupants overpower almost all of the rides in the surrounding acre of the park.

[Sudden change of tense because I took a 45 minute Netflix break]

So, there we were, standing–well, no, Lila was sitting because she hurt her back–and we had a choice to make. To go, or not to go.

I’ve probably told you this before, but I love amusement rides. As far as roller coasters are concerned: the bigger the better. I love stuff like that. Just FYI. This comes up later in the story. Kind of. Basically, this is me telling you that I was the only one super excited to go on the ride. The other two were intent on going, but doing it a bit more… hmm… begrudgingly? Reluctantly? You get the picture.

Back to Danny. You see, when Danny was a little dude, his cousin… or was it uncle… both? Probably both. Anyway, his family decided to take him on the Tower of Terror without actually explaining to him what this ride was. So, there he was, little Danny of exactly 10-ish years of age (clearly my storytelling abilities have just flourished during my break from blogging!) scared out of his mind as he plummeted to his death atop the Tower of Terror. Or so he thought.

Because of this, the Tower of Terror had always haunted his memories.

We (mostly he) decided that we had to put an end to that.

So we went on the ride; Danny, Rupee, and I. Lila stayed behind because she was unsure if the sudden, jerking motions would hurt her back. She waited outside of the gate for us, and she was almost positive she could hear Danny screaming. Or was it Rupee? (I don’t know. I was laughing too hard.)

And so it began, our trek to the top of the tower. We had gotten Fast Passes which meant we could cut in line, since Danny had already planned (for quite some time before we actually got to Disney) to conquer his fear–to battle the tower–face to face for the first time in fifteen years.

It was going to be epic.

But first we had to get there.

Problem: They have this thing that they do at Disney, which is to REALLY get into the theme of whatever ride they are constructing. This, if you ask me, is totally cool… except when the ride is super dark, and the queue line is super dark, and you and your friends have bad vision to begin with. Then you just run into everything and wind up with bruises.

But, I mean, (cough) of course that didn’t happen to us, so it’s fine.

Now, for those of you who have never been to Disney World, or perhaps haven’t had a chance to go on the Tower of Terror ride for any variety of reasons, let me first tell you that the actual dropping portion of the ride doesn’t occur until the very end of everything. First you are shuffled into a dark room where they play a Twilight Zone episode about the Tower of Terror, where people in an elevator get struck by lightning and turn to ghosts. This is in a dark room. Then they move you into a queue to wait for the actual ride. Also in a dark room. Then you get on the ride. Guess what? Dark room.

Now add to this the problem that both Danny and Rupee wear glasses, so these had to be stowed away in my jacket pockets. So I am the only one who can really see.

Now add panic.

Why?

Because, at this point, that is exactly what Danny and Rupee are doing. Panicking and regretting their life decisions. As is a random Frenchman down in the first row who keeps cursing in French. I took French in middle school, high school, and college. Frankly, I’m not that great at French, but I know a curse word when I hear one. It was hilarious.

Sorry that I laughed at you when you were clearly regretting your life decisions, strange Frenchman. My bad.

The next part of the ride sends you down a horizontal track (as you near the dropping point), and during this ride they show you a bunch of random, strange, black and white videos that are meant to freak you out even more. Along the same Twilight Zone theme, I think. I didn’t really get it. I love scary things, but this was mostly just weird. Probably because the ride itself has been around for a while, so it was probably really freaky when it first started.

The worst part about all of this is that, unless you’ve ridden before (and recently), which none of us had, you never knew when you are going to drop.

Basically, between Danny stealing all of the armrests as he attempted to conceal his detriment (which he didn’t do very well since he screamed at almost everything; even the parts that weren’t scary) and Rupee’s constant shouting for a play-by-play of what was happening, since she wasn’t wearing her glasses, by the time we reached the “dropping chamber,” neither one of them had any energy left to be afraid, so it was pretty smooth sailing after that. (Do you like how this paragraph is all one sentence? Your welcome.)

In the end, it was decided (by Danny and Rupee) that the ride itself wasn’t that scary; it was all of the thinking-too-hard-about-it beforehand that really did them in. I thought the whole thing was rather amusing, frankly. Especially the French guy down in front, though he clearly didn’t think so.

Honestly, I think we would have gone on it again if the line wasn’t so long.

But, yeah, Danny overcame his fears and redeemed himself. Rupee found out that the Tower of Terror really wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be. And I laughed at everyone.

I think it was time well spent.

Mel 

P.S. A bunch of other stories occurred to me while I was writing this, so there may be more theme park posts in the future. They just won’t be in order, so I guess it will be a surprise! Woot woot!

P.P.S. Sorry that this post tends to shift in and out of past and present tense–even in places it shouldn’t. These are the consequences of procrastination and getting distracted by Netflix. Don’t do it kids! DON’T GO INTO THE LIGHT.

Okay, time for homework. Whoops!

Tips and Tricks for Studying Abroad: Expenses

It’s been a while since I have continued these blog posts. My apologies.

So this is the big one, huh? Everyone is worried about cost. How expensive is it going to be? Is it even affordable? How am I going to be able to pay for this and school? Etc. etc.

Yes, studying abroad is costly. Let me get that out of the way first. I doubt you are going to come across someone in your life who has studied abroad and will tell you that it was the easiest thing they’ve ever done, and that they didn’t have to spend any money to do it. That sounds awfully unrealistic.

However, if cost is your primary reason for NOT studying abroad, well, I am here to dissuade you from your dissuasion.

You can make studying abroad affordable.

1) The plane ticket. Depending on where you are going, there really isn’t much getting around this one. It’s expensive. My ticket cost around $1500 for a round-trip to London, England. HOWEVER, I didn’t pay for it. My school did.

How?

I applied for a grant that would allow me to do research as an undergraduate while at my university in England. I will use the information (books, authors, themes, etc.) I researched in order to write my thesis in the coming years.

This was my solution, but I realize this is not something everyone can do, so, the next step would be scholarships. Keep reading!

2) The tuition and program costs. Again, this can be expensive. But do not fear!

If you live in America and receive federal aid from the government to attend university, it is very likely that this will also apply to the program you are interested in. While this did apply to my program, if you are reliant on this funding I highly suggest you talk to the organizers at your school/university to make sure this will be in play for you. If not, I know it is possible to attend study abroad programs through other universities as long as your application is accepted (though, I really don’t know much about this. Just that it is possible.)

Next: scholarships. This is something I wish I had known in advance. There are scholarships all over the place for studying abroad! Some are based on financial need, some are based on your success as a student, and some don’t even require that many qualifications, other than the fact that you’re… I don’t know… a good person and haven’t committed a capital crime. I was able to receive $3,000 worth of scholarships through my school, and this was before I even had a chance to look for scholarships in my community. Of course, the deadline had already passed for these (which is why I’m telling you about this now!)

Look around, do research, ask faculty members at your university. Scholarships are all over the place. Believe it or not, people WANT you to have these opportunities. You just have to make sure to look for them.

3) Budget? This is a key part of studying abroad, if you ask me. Before you get to your final destination, wherever that is in the world, you need to have good sense of how much money you can spend and where.

If you are attending a good study abroad program, they should have some meal costs included in the tuition/program costs. For example, we were fed three meals a day M-F and breakfast on the weekends. I knew in advance that at least 8 meals that month were going to be my responsibility, so I needed to plan for these.

*Tip: Make sure you know the exchange rate for the currency of the country you will be studying in. When I was in England, the pound to dollar rate was 1: 1.5. This meant that for every pound I was spending, it was actually costing me one dollar and fifty cents. This is ESSENTIAL to know when you are trying to budget cost! 

You also might want to budget for any of the following: gifts, clothing (seeing as how I had to buy a new wardrobe, practically), extra food/snacks, travel, amusement (seeing a play, movie, museum etc.), bus fare, text books, miscellaneous, emergency (if a visit to the hospital becomes necessary), etc. There are more that can be added to this list, I’m sure, but I can’t think of them all right now. This is also something that most programs will go over with you thoroughly before you depart!

4) Travel outside of the program. As I have said in past posts, I didn’t just stay in England when I was studying abroad. I also managed to visit Scotland, Ireland, and France while I was on that side of the ocean. Many people don’t choose to travel outside of their program due to the singular factor of expense, but let me tell you now: your plane ticket is likely the most expensive single item of the trip, so you might want to take advantage of this fact and stay a little bit longer. I knew I was not going to be over there again any time soon, so I decided to do some exploring while I had the chance. Whether this is something you think you can do or not, here are my tips for you:

a. Plan in advance. Buy your train/plane tickets, book your hostels, find useful maps and print them out. Know how you are going to get from Point A to Point B. Know everything. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. The later you wait, the more expensive tickets will get, and the less likely it will be that you will find a good hostel that isn’t completely booked.

b. When booking your hostels and travel, buy the tickets together. I’m not saying to purchase a package, I haven’t looked into those, though they may be worth a go, I don’t know. All I am saying is that you shouldn’t have, say… paid for two nights at a hostel in Paris and not have booked the train at the same time. Because, I don’t know, then you might be left with only two weeks and no way to get to Paris, no refund, and a crap ton of anxiety. And then you have to pay a sinful amount of money for a train ticket that makes you physically cringe on the inside.

Not that this happened to, uh… me… or anything. *Cough*

~~~~~

Okay, off the top of my head, this is all I have for you as far as tips on expenses. There will be more, I’m sure, in future posts about studying abroad, but they’ll come to mind when they’re no longer important. Isn’t that how most things work?

I hope this was helpful to you, and I do plan to keep adding to my Tips for Studying Abroad page even though I took a massive break from posting. Look forward to those coming to you in the near future.

Also, the last post in my Theme Park stories is coming at you tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that one too! I have a very funny story to tell you about some scaredy cats and The Tower of Terror. It’s going to be great :)

Mel

Why is it SO HARD to Find a Prince?

Rumor has it that all princesses disappear throughout the Disney parks at the setting of the sun. Almost like Cinderella at midnight, but even more dramatic. Disney does love drama. But what about the princes? No one ever tells you how hard it is to find a freaking PRINCE AT DISNEY WORLD!

Now, you might be thinking… aren’t you a little old to be hunting down princes in a Disney theme park? And to you I say:

#1: You can never be too old! (Which is totally a lie, because we all know those actors are fairly young, so if you are going all Cougar Town on them when you’re fifty… calm down.)

and #2: We were actually searching (Me, Rupee, Lila, and Danny), for our friend who is currently in Orlando, Florida as the face character of Prince Eric. Oh snap.

Spoiler alert: we couldn’t find him. Hence this post.

I don’t know how up-to-date you all are on your Disney Parks info (which isn’t to say I am. I just went. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known.) But Disney’s Magic Kingdom just added on a new section called Fantasyland, where you can now find Belle’s cottage and castle, Ariel’s grotto, the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Ride, Gaston’s pub, and a bunch of other really-cute-super-detailed rides and attractions.

But do you know what you can’t find there? Princes.

Where are they? They exist, but are stowed away in the hidden tunnels that make up the underworld of Disney. It’s where they keep their doctors and emergency staff, where the multitudes of characters can move from one side of the park to the other, unseen. And where, I am convinced, they are stowing away the princes under lock and key.

Because I don’t think I saw a single one while we were there.

No, that’s a lie. There were two on the parade floats. Prince Charming and someone else… But it wasn’t as if we could get to them. There is enough security during the parades to scare off the most daring, underhanded guest.

It was a week before Christmas when we were there, so several nights a week, Magic Kingdom put on a special Christmas party event, where only certain guests (VIP’s) and those who purchased additional party tickets were allowed in the park after a certain time of night. Apparently, this is when the princes emerged. Among those in attendance were Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, Kristoff from Frozen, and Flynn Rider from Tangled. But they only ever appeared after dark. Or so we were told.

So the princesses are only out during the daytime, and the princes are only out at night. Hmm… I find this strange. My writer’s brain wants to believe that there is some kind of magical rule of thumb: just like the carriage turns back into a pumpkin at midnight, do the princesses turn into princes? Ooh… interesting.

I am now determined to sleuth out this answer. I could try to go about it the normal person route–and by that, I mean apply for a job at Disney to get the 411 on how all of this stuff works–but that would be giving in to the man! NO, I will do this the hard (and yet vastly more interesting) way. I will:

#1: Sneak into Magic Kingdom via hidden, underground tunnels under the guise of a well-known princess. (Can they really keep track of all their employees 24/7? I think not!)

#2: I will use my prime disguise (that no one will question) to hunt down one of these so-called “princes.”

#3: I will, via smartphone, take a photo of one of these mythical creatures. Preferably, with his matching princess, to prove that these beings to exist on their own. Or a picture of said prince on his own to produce reasonable doubt as to the separation of prince and princess.

OR

#3 Again: If the discovery of said prince/princess is unattainable, I will find the secret lair in underground Disney where they are stowing away these princes and princesses, and take photographic evidence for the good of the public. Because, you know, it’s very important that we keep the physical representatives of our favorite fictional characters protected at all times.

So, this is my plan.

Of course, this goes on my bucket list right next to:

– Discover the Loch Ness Monster

– Drive a Lamborghini

– Be a hand model

– Be the voice of a Disney Princess

– Marry rich (*susceptible to change based on circumstances*)

– Take over the world

I think it’s a pretty reasonable (albeit unfinished) list of ideals, don’t you?

~~~~~

Yay for posting on time this week! Woo hoo! I think Sundays are going to work out much better than Mondays, so be sure to be on the lookout for the last post in the Theme Park series coming at you next Sunday!

We may talk before then, but who knows? I just write wherever the laptop takes me. Which is usually to Netflix. Oops.

Mel

Water Rides Should Be Well-Marked

“Are we really going to ride this?” I ask, not even attempting to hide the skepticism in my voice as I stare up at the little fish swimming in a mechanical circle above us, lifting and dropping at the will of the steel arms parading them through the sky. The colors are vivid, abrasive against the clear pale blue: green, yellow, orange, purple, red. Their cartoon faces are mockish, almost cruel, as they lazily move about, up and down, occasionally spitting water from their permanently smiling mouths.

It should have been a warning.

“It’s totally not weird,” Lila says, gesturing to the numerous adults crammed into the small bench seats of the flying fish. “There are plenty of grown-ups on this thing.”

“With their children,” her boyfriend clarifies, nudging his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. “They have an excuse. And the fact that you just called them grown-ups…”

“Shut up, Danny.” She pushes blond hair off one shoulder, frowning. “You know what I meant.”

Rupee waves a hand in complete nonchalance. “It’s like the Dumbo ride. A classic. It will take, like, fifteen seconds. Calm down.”

Danny looks doubtful, but we file into the queue anyway.

Our first mistake.

By the time we reach the front of the line, an entire five minutes later, our skepticism has turned into full-on dread.

And why? This is no roller coaster. There are no shaky carts speeding sixty miles per hour down a foreboding curly-q of a track, shooting us one hundred feet into the air just to send us plummeting back down. There are no screaming children or the familiar horror-stricken faces of regret.

In fact, there is laughter and the happy whispers of flashing cameras as parents wave to their children orbiting high above them.

No, our dread stems from something much more devious. An attribute of the ride we had not noted from the other side of the fence.

A sudden vortex of water shoots from the mouth of a purple fish permanently seated high above the moving arms of the ride, nailing one man in the face as his child chortles beside him, only to be splashed by another hose of water, this one seated a little further down, from the mouth of an orange fish with a vixen smirk. By the time the ride slowly spins to an end, the little boy’s hair is plastered to his head, and the man’s white shirt is revealing entirely too much of his premature beer belly.

I can barely hold back the horror in my voice as I say, “This is… A. Water. Ride.”

Danny shoulders his camera bag, the four hundred dollar piece of high-tech equipment that I couldn’t even begin to turn on, let alone take care of, protected only by the sheer cotton cover. Not waterproof. We discovered that on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride back at Disney. It wasn’t supposed to be a water ride. And yet, somehow, the first row of our car managed to get soaked. The camera bag was in the front row. It was a narrow escape, but all of us, including our technological sidekicks, managed to stay operational.

A risk none of us are willing to take again.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Danny says quickly, shuffling to the side. “I will just wait out here for you guys. You’re already at the start of the line, anyway.”

“What? And make me ride alone like a loser?” Lila throws up her hands. “At least with you riding we would look like a couple—”

“—we are a couple,” he interjects, but she ignores him and continues.

“If I’m by myself I will definitely look like a loser. No, you’re going on this with me.”

“And what about my bag?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. Tuck it under your shoulder. Put it in your lap. That should keep it semi-dry, right?”

His eyebrows scrunch together. “Um, okay, but—”

There is no time for buts in a theme park.

The worker dressed in Dr. Seuss hospital scrubs ushers us forward. She looks about as happy as a damp cat, which is how I’m about to feel, I’m sure. A feeling of terror settles in my chest, slowly sinking down toward my stomach until it’s like an indigestible rock. Fabulous. Because who doesn’t love a good stomach rock?

It is only sixty-seven degrees outside. Is that warm? Of course. Way warmer than Michigan. But that doesn’t mean that I want to be walking around Universal with wet, chaffing blue jeans and a frown. Although, come to think of it, the frown is pretty much a standard for me. But, damp jeans: no thanks.

We buckle ourselves into the yellow fish with blue fins and girly eyelashes. Perhaps we chose her because her grin is more of a grimace than anything else. Or because she’s behind Lila and Danny’s fish, which means we can shoot water at their heads. It is up in the air, really, where our true motivation lies.

“Are you ready?” screeches a mechanically happy cartoon voice.

I’m not. I’m not ready. I will never be ready. Make this stop.

“All you have to do is follow my lead! Follow my lead and you will succeed!”

“W-wait.” Rupee turns to me, eyes wide, and I’m not sure if it’s shock or surprise that is mirrored in my own. “Succeed in what?” I don’t have an answer for her.

“Around and around and around you’ll go. Higher than higher then lower than low!”

“What is this?” I snap. “A water ride with a riddle?”

Rupee slaps her hand on the head of the fish in front of us. “Shut up, maybe it will say something important.”

“Yes, I’m sure the mechanical talking fish holds nothing but wisdom.”

She’s about to respond, a comeback even snappier than mine, I’m sure, but the overly happy ride-voice cuts her off, and I lean back, satisfied at the argument I didn’t quite win but almost.

“All you have to do is solve all my clues. When I say purple you go up, up, up, and when I say red you go down, down, down. Keep alert and don’t be scared. I can take you anywhere!”

Rupee shifts to the side, eyeing the spouts of water at the center of the ride. “I don’t like this. I don’t trust that fish. I’m steering.”

I don’t say anything and she takes my silence as acceptance of her proposal, which is fine with me. I don’t want that kind of responsibility. “Isn’t ‘anywhere’ a bit of a hyperbole,” I start, and Rupee rolls her eyes. “We can only go up and down.”

“Whatever, just listen to the stupid fish and tell me what she says.”

The ride begins to move and the first ten seconds are relatively peaceful. No mechanical voices, just the screeching laughs of little kids and the soft sighs of parents who are sacrificing their pride in the hopes that this may force their child into a state of slumber long enough for them to eat lunch.

But ten seconds really isn’t that long in the span of a theme park ride. “Purple is first, you know what that means. Follow my lead and you shall succeed!” The cartoon music begins to play once more and it feels like a death sentence. Up we go, just to dodge the stream of water that comes sprouting to life half a foot below us. Rupee sighs, and I glance back. The car behind us, a middle-aged mother and her son, didn’t make it in time. Glancing down at her water-splattered gray shirt, Mama Bear looks anything but happy. Her son, on the other hand, giggles to himself, his small, pasty hand latched tightly to the control stick which his mother immediately takes over control of, and he frowns.

“It’s time for red, now listen well, choose a direction, or you’re in for a spell!”

“No you are!” Rupee shouts, though I can’t help but believe our insults fall on uncaring ears. I don’t even think the ride operator is on our side for this one. In fact, she’s probably hoping we will be hit in the face by a vicious spout of water. It would make her job far more amusing, that’s for sure. No, we are alone.

“Red means down,” I say quickly and we manage to dodge the second assault with only minimal damage to our prides. My sock takes most of the attack and I can feel the squishiness beginning to my great chagrin.

We are getting close now to the end of the ride now. Somehow we’ve managed to dodge the toughest obstacles. And then I hear the voice say: “Now it gets tough, it’s time for reverse! What you once knew is no longer true! What is up and what is down? Pick a direction and you will find out!”

Rupee leans forward, bitterness and mild anxiety coursing through her expression, though I’m sure my face is no different. “That was a forced rhyme,” she mumbles and I nod. “Does this mean we are in a free for all? What direction? What direction?!”

“Up,” I say quickly, only hoping I have picked the best option. “Go UP!”

She jerks the control stick upward and we go shooting toward the sky, avoiding a stream of water as we go. But before we can reach the safety of a water-free zone, a purple fish above us begins spitting at us and we jerk back down again. This pattern repeats another three times, with us dodging in and out of the paths of projectile water-vomit from cruelly smiling plastic fish, before the ride jolts and then begins to slow.

“Now wasn’t that fun? We’ve had a good time! But now, I’m afraid, we must say good-bye! Stay seated for now, till the ride fully stops, then proceed to be careful as you promptly get off!”

We both sigh in relief, and I can see Lila and Danny doing the same in front of us. We’ve managed to escape without many injuries. Aside from my damp sock and a few minor splatters on my jeans, there is nothing to prove that we were even here. Good riddance.

We meet Lila and Danny on the other side of the exit gate, and they look to be in about the same state as we are. Danny has some water marks on his shoulder, but other than that, he looks relatively unscarred.

“We still have some time before we have to meet Aunt Jane and Uncle Ron. We can dry off on the merry-go-round!” Lila suggests, laughing, and we all nod. Sounds good to me.

As we walk away, Danny shrugging his surprisingly dry camera bag on his shoulder, he glances back at Once Fish, Two Fish, grumbling to himself. “These things really should be well-marked.”

~~~~~

Hey everyone, thanks for making it to the end! I thought I would write this post as a story, like the very first posts I wrote for this blog :)

To the real Lila and Danny (you know who you are): my blog is anonymous, but I like to give everyone a choice of their names. If you would like a different name, or if you have something else in mind, let me know. I’m more than willing to change them to whatever you’d like! I just kind of went with the first things that popped into my head.

If you read my last post, you know that I didn’t keep very well to the Monday schedule I was hoping for. Yeah, turns out Mondays are a really bad day to try to post, so I think I am going to revert back to Sundays like I did in the past and see how that goes. Which means I guess I will be talking to you soon!

Mel

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