Saturday, November 27, 2010

Guest Blog: I'm Afraid of an Unusual Way

Hi Blog-readers,
Today I am featuring another guest post, this time from my bestie since high school, Jono Gray.

I'm Afraid of an Unusual Way
Written by Jono Gray
Illustrated by Tabitha Parker

Fear exists.  There’s a famous quote from a Franklin D. Roosevelt who briefly discussed fear.  He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  What are you, fucking high?  That’s like saying we have nothing to envy but jealousy itself.  There’s plenty of things to be reasonably afraid of.  Like disease and serial killers and arguments and not knowing if this ferris wheel ride is gonna be the one that detaches itself and rolls into traffic.

Although dying is only number two on the list of things America fears most, it is still and always will be number one in the actual cause of death.  Yet, there are few who embrace it and show no fear in the face of certain (eventual) doom.  I am scared of death, I admit.  I’m not the first and definitely not the last.  Death isn’t something to get worked up about when you’re young, safe, and boring, but after seeing the world through my eyes, you might second guess all your decisions, too.
People die all the time.  In weird ways.  In weird, specifically odd, and rare ways.  Let’s take a look at pencils.  It’s true that people have been killed by pencils and/or pens.  It happens all the time; it’s in the newspaper, usually in a crime of passion.  

But when you were in school, and after sharpening your pencil at the pencil sharpener, did you hesitate to go back to your desk?  I did.  What if some kid sticks his foot out to trip me?  What if I don’t account for a step or that table leg?  And for whatever reason, I fall in the exact position that puts that sharpened pencil through my eye socket, puncturing my brain?  

I never used pencils in school unless there was a test, and I made a point to bring several already sharpened.  No eye injuries for me, thank you.  And pens remained capped when not in use (I can’t imagine walking with an uncapped pen, or standing up with one).
And it’s not just with pencils.  Those properties can easily be transferred to other situations.  The spokes on a bicycle.  The faucet in the bathtub.  The bed that collapses at the right moment when looking for a lost shoe.

The thoughts are always there, but I tend to overcome them eventually, thinking, “That’s crazy.  That’s not gonna happen.  Why would it?”  Oh Jono.  It can, and it will, because it has.
When you learn about statistics, that’s when scary thoughts become horrifying realities.  A lawn dart is an oversized dart that you play in a game on your lawn.  It’s despicably self-explanatory.  And yet, there are casualties in this game.  In 1987, these supposed fun toys claimed the lives of 8 people, causing them to be banned in 1988.  From thereon after, deaths dwindled to about 2-3 annually. 

If you stopped me on the street and asked how many people died (died, mind you – not hurt or injured) from lawn darts, I’d answer zero.  I mean, can you imagine dying from a lawn dart?  I don’t know anyone who owns lawn darts or even know where to find one, so that kinda puts me at a version of ease I am comfortable with.
I couldn’t help but learn more about unusual deaths, putting myself in a horrible wikipedia rabbit hole, uncovering so many deaths inflicted on mostly innocent people for little to no reason at all.  In 1919, a tank of molasses in Boston exploded, flooding the city with over 2 million gallons of molasses.  The jellied blob of molasses killed 21 people and injured 150 and took nearly a year to clean up.  

Living next to any factory is out for me.  There are dozens of accounts of actors, directors, and stuntmen who’ve been killed by helicopter decapitation, including 3 from the Twilight Zone Movie.  And I will never be shot with a gun – it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a vest or if the bullets are blanks.  I know too much about it now.  I’ll direct my movies in riot gear – that’ll be my niche.  Like Ron Howard with his hat and vest.  Or is that Steven Spielberg?
I can’t walk up or down the stairs without being reminded of the guy who did the exact same thing, except the entire flight collapsed under and on top of him.  Nor will I forget the gal who missed one step – ONE! – and fell open-mouth first onto the last step severing her jaw and snapping her spine.  I never walk up or down any stairs without some sort of a plan B.

At this point in my life, these death-imposed thoughts are no longer a threat to everyday operations, but they’re still there.  And with every new event or situation or product I see, you can be sure that a new way to die will be inserted into my thought process.  And with that comes a new and exciting way to avoid it.


Jono Gray is a comedian/writer/performer extraordinaire in Austin, Texas.

He has been afraid of things since I met him.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank You, Young Man

When I was in second grade I had very long hair.
Like Rapunzel.

One day my mom took me to have my hair cut.
While I was there, I saw a picture of a girl with a very short hair style.

So on a whim, I decided I was going to cut all my hair off.
My mom allowed this, because she was nice about letting me make my own decisions.
Even though I was 7.

She asked me if I was sure several times.
But my mind was made up.

So the haircut was done.

I was very excited. A weight had been lifted off my head, literally.
Everything was breezy!
I was just like Mary Anne in that Baby-Sitter's Club book where she cuts her hair and starts wearing make-up.

Except that Mary Anne was much older than me.
She had boobs.

People could easily discern that she was a woman.


So begins a very traumatizing experience in my young life.
I was constantly mistaken for a boy.

Just when I was beaten down enough, wearing dresses and girlish clothes ALL THE TIME, I had to run the attendance sheet to the front office at school.

I remember what I was wearing - an all-purple outfit, in a floral fabric. With a little vest.

I handed the sheet to our front desk woman.
She said, "Thank you, young man."

I was immediately crushed, I mumbled "I'm a girl."
There is no way she heard me.

Not too long after that I was waiting in line to use the restroom.
The other young girls began screaming, "There's a boy in the bathroom, aaaah!"

At first I didn't realize they were talking about me.
Then they started pointing and saying, "This is the girls bathroom!"

This time I was louder.
"I AM a GIRL."
But they did not stop.
So I kept repeating it all the way to the stall.

Then I got a perm.
Like Annie.
It did not help with things really.

The hardest part about this haircut was that, while I did not want it anymore, it was impossible to grow out.

It looked like a mullet.

A mullet, for whatever reason, was much worse than being mistaken for a boy.
So I kept hating it and getting it cut again.

Eventually I resigned myself to growing it out.
Pictures of me from that time are...upsetting.

It finally grew out and I was a girl again.

But some sort of crucial self-image damage had been done.
For the rest of my life, even now, there are times when I feel like a dude.
And I think that everyone around me thinks I am one.

This usually only happens when I am with a group of girls.

I don't know how to talk to them.
In some part of my mind, I think I still worry they will suddenly start yelling "There's a boy!"

Like I'm that coyote that dresses up like a sheep to fool that dog.

It's probably why I don't have many girl friends.
It's definitely why I won't cut my hair shorter than my chin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Horrible Injury

People enjoy describing their various injuries to me in graphic detail.
I don't know why this is.

But I do know that it causes some sort of impossible panic for me.

Part of this might be the disturbing visuals that my brain projects while I listen to a story.
If you say cupcake, I see a cupcake.

If you say, broken bone protruding through skin.
I see a broken bone. Protruding through skin.

This is not a pleasant visual.
It will bring on waves of nausea for me. I will feel like I'm going to faint and I do not know why.
I assume it's a panic attack.
There's no fast beating heart to cue me in though.
Just nausea, dizziness, and the feeling that the world may end.

But often I can't tell someone to stop telling the story.
I'm frozen in horror.

Like the time I was temping for a woman who was going to be out with an injury for a month.
She felt that part of my training involved telling me why she would be out.

You see, she broke her toe.

But she didn't know it was broken. She had recently taken up jogging and thought she might have strained the muscle.

She thought she should continue jogging. But stretch the toe out before and after. With her hands.

That made it hurt much worse. So she went to the doctor. He explained that forcing the broken bone to stretch had caused the bone to splinter and go everywhere.

She was now in danger of a blood clot being created. From all the bone splinter stretching.
She had to be on bed rest for a month to minimize the risk.

During this entire story, I prayed I would not faint, even though the blackness was starting to come in at the corners of my eyes.

Somehow I made it through. I didn't even throw up.

I earned that temp gig.
But the cost is remembering that story in detail, all the time.

Note: If we're friends, please do not take this as an invitation to tell me your horrible injury stories. I really don't handle it well. This was not a dramatization.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant (the show)

Did you know there is a reality, re-enactment style show on cable called 'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant?
Well, there definitely is.

It is the most horrifying show on television.

On the show, different women relate the stories of not knowing they were pregnant and then suddenly giving birth. They are not all overweight, like so many urban legends would have us believe. 

They become pregnant and have absolutely no symptoms - no weight gain, they still have their periods, etc. Then one day they are in horrible pain and a baby falls out of them.

This scenario is pretty high on my list of the most scary, most awful things ever.

First of all, pregnancy in general upsets me.
The idea of something living and growing inside me, eating my food and making me crazy is not appealing. It just reminds me of Aliens.

Then one day it bursts out of you, destroying all sorts of you inner lady parts.

Some women have to have stitches after. Guess where I don't want stitches?

I'm sure you're thinking, alright maybe that part is awful, but afterwards you get to have a baby!
You can hold it and squeeze it and teach it things for the next 18 years!

Sure, that's one scenario.
It's far more likely that your child will be several awful things as it approaches adulthood.

At first it will be a baby, that screams and cries and steals your sleep.

In its toddler years it will still scream and cry, but now it can RUN.

Around the ages of 9-12 it will be a ball of awkward energy. Talking too loud in public and becoming overly emotional at every turn.

Then from 13-18 it will be some variety of teenage mess, most likely resenting and avoiding you. It probably does secret drugs and has secret rendezvous with other teenage messes, secretly.

Maybe by the time it's done with college it will have decided it doesn't hate you, that you didn't screw it up that badly and you can go on about your lives as adults.

Or maybe it will be some sort of depraved, sex maniac serial killer that you have to bail out of jail on a regular basis. It will use guilt from childhood to make you let it sleep on your couch.

So you can imagine my horror at the thought of one of these things hanging out in my uterus WITHOUT ME EVEN KNOWING.  And it happens to enough women that they can base a whole show around it??

I had to stop watching that show, but that doesn't mean I stopped thinking about this life-ruining scenario and all the horror that it would bring. 

...can you tell I don't want kids?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Brief Hiatus

Hi loyal readers,

Bees is on a brief hiatus as I get ready to move and then move.
Moving is one of the big stresses in the world ever, so I'm sure I will have tons of material about how I can't stop crying because I have too much stuff and not enough boxes when this is all done.


Friday, September 3, 2010

The Dentist: Childhood

I hate the dentist.
I know that's not terribly unusual.
It's probably not even that unusual that the thought of being at the dentist makes me break out in a cold sweat and want to cry.

It all began when I was a child.
My dentist office let you wear headphones and watch any movie you wanted on the little tv in each room.

Unfortunately it was hard to focus on the tv show from the INCREDIBLE PAIN of having your gums roughly gouged.

As a child, I thought maybe that was just how much the dentist hurt. As an adult, I know this to be false. They were unnecessarily rough with me. And evil.

One day they decided they had to pull some of my teeth. More than some, actually. A plethora.
A plethora of my teeth.

They brought me in a back room, with the little tv for a pleasant distraction.
But nothing could distract me from the reflection of the dental surgery in my dentist's large glasses.

I survived somehow. I have a vague memory of something hurting enough to make my eyes water and tears roll down my cheeks.
But then it was over.
I was the happiest.

I was so excited and happy to go home. It was over!
Boy, was I thirsty.
No one explained to me what happens after the dentist though.
My mom had set up a comfy bed for me to relax and recover.

I was so comfortable and sleepy.
I just wanted some water.
I took a sip.
The water slimed right back out!

My mouth was still numb.
It would remain numb for several hours.
I couldn't drink! I couldn't eat!
All I could do was quietly weep.