Archive for March, 2008



Tonight I discovered a new internet sensation where people take videos of themselves laughing-without-smiling. 

I thought it was so funny, I wanted to share the joy!  Just try watching these two without smiling yourself!


standing near dead fish is preferred

I know that closing my eyes doesn’t make trouble go away, but in a crowded Walmart I allow myself to believe that’s true. 

Standing in the electronics section is the hardest.  Thirteen year old boys and their kid brothers congregate in the aisles, playing the sample games on beat up X-Box consoles.  The little girls are shoved off to the side but they stand and watch, clogging the aisle.  Older gentlemen stare at the cell phone accessories, touching things and then putting them back.  Young families push carts slowly with cranky toddlers whining about the toy section,“I said that you can only have ONE, Samantha!”

If I had red ruby slippers, I’d click my heels and escape to Kansas.

It’s not only Walmart, but also busy grocery stores and malls that are difficult for me.  Being in a crowded, confined space with the general public is not my forte. 

Things slow down, as if I’m watching the world in slow motion.  My eyes dart around for the nearest corner without people.  My anxiety level raises as I walk to that corner and I’ll stay there until I get it together.  Don’t talk to me, I’m not a normal person in that moment.  My speech is pressured and I speak in fragments.  Usually I say something about needing to get away from all the people.

The maternity section in Walmart is generally a good escape.

I’ve looked into it, and I do not have social anxiety disorder.  The difference between me and the socially anxious is that they are worried people are watching and judging.  For me, I’m simply looking for space to breath.

There is an indoor farmer’s market in White Plains, NY called Apple Farm.  My best friend and I will frequent Apple Farm when I visit because they have fresh produce at decent prices, year round.  It’s really good food and it’s a popular place.  Popular and small = deadly combo for Kari.

I admitted to my friend this week that the reason I hang out in the fish section at Apple Farm is not because I like fish, but because the stench of dead fish keeps others away — it’s the most deserted corner of the store.  (I have documented how I feel about fish.)  Still, standing near fish with shriveled eyeballs is a better option to me than bumping into people near the broccoli.

Over the last few years, I’ve been able to better control my crowded-confined-public-space-anxiety.  Mostly I stay away from Walmart and go grocery shopping at weird times.  To be honest, I suspect my anxiety stems from being selfish and not wanting to share space with others.  I don’t expect Walmart or Apple Farm to revolve around me, or do I?

The shoe department at Walmart can be pretty busy.  But if they sell ruby red slippers, I may risk venturing in and pick up a pair.  The potential reward of escape is much worth the momentary terror.


the golden girls and other tv taboos

Growing up, my sisters and I had a limited television roster. 

We were allowed to watch cartoons, Lassie, The Cosby Show, and The Brady Bunch.  Of course there were some other shows we could watch, but you get the idea.  If the show was family friendly, wholesome and tame, it would receive the parental stamp of approval.

I can understand — I don’t fault my parents for not wanting their daughters to watch shows like Three’s Company.  I didn’t even know what that show was about, but I had to turn the channel whenever it came on.  It made me extremely curious  every time I heard the theme song:

Man: Come and knock on our door!

      Woman echo: Come and knock on our door

Man:  We’ve been waitin’ for you!

     Woman echo:  We’ve been waitin’ for you

What were they doing behind that door?  They’ve been waiting for me and I have to change the channel?!

One of my earliest memories of being punished by my parents was that I wasn’t allowed to watch The Brady Bunch with my sisters in the living room.  This was quite harsh in my little book.  We watched The Brady Bunch religiously at 4:30 everyday before dinner and they took it away from me.  It was our very-brady-appetizer.  I was devasted.  Devasted and devious.

Through tear blurred eyes, I managed to watch the television by laying on the floor of my room, cracking the door a tiny bit and looking down the hallway.  I did this to spite my parents and keep a leg up (just try to punish me), but also The Brady Bunch was ingrained in my routine and I simply had to watch them.

 In college I discovered The Golden Girls.  Only a few shows will make me laugh like they do.  Who knew senior citizens from 1985 were so timelessly funny?  Their furniture and shoulder pads seep into my conversations: “That couch is very…golden girls.”

Now that I can watch whatever I want, I’ll watch edgier shows which essentially waste my time but entertain nonetheless.  I’m certain that my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to watch The Golden Girls, but here I am putting a clip on my blog.  I could watch Three’s Company and no one would know the difference.  My mother can’t tell me not to watch The Brady Bunch tonight.  However, I haven’t changed that much from when I was a kid that I may lay on the floor and watch it through a cracked door — just to keep a leg up. 


should’ve just crushed the toddlers

There I was, standing at the top of the hill holding my banana seat bike next to me.  Lined with cape style houses, that hill was about to become my glory road.  See, I had a plan.

I was going to ride down the hill with no hands.  But it didn’t stop there because  I was going to stand on the banana seat and then let go of the handlebars.  Essentially, I wanted to ‘surf’ down the hill on my bike.

In my mind, this was totally plausible.  I had taught myself how to ride without hands, how to ride crouched on the seat, and I wanted to combine the two into one spectacular skill.

I shoved off and started down the blacktop.  I got my feet up under my butt and crouched on the seat.  I slowly let go of the handlebars and for a moment I surfed.  Hair in the wind, my clothes flapping in the breeze, I was the only kid ‘bike surfing’ on the planet.


It still puzzles me today that I was surprised when I fell off the bike.  I lost my balance and crashed hard into the pavement.  From elbow to wrist, my right arm was a scraped bloody mess and I ended up in a neighbor’s grassy front yard.  Somehow I made it home, but I don’t remember much about the incident beyond my bloody arm (which only made me cooler and tougher) and the moment when I actually surfed.

Once upon a time, I was a bit of a daredevil.

This past weekend I went downhill skiing.  My friend Becca and I had grand plans for a fun afternoon on the slopes.  We paid a lot of money for it.  After the two hour lift ticket and rentals, I was out $50, but it would be worth it.  Right?

I hadn’t gone downhill skiing in over ten years, so I did have my reservations.  We made our way to the bunny hill.  There was a group of little toddlers there, their stubby legs struggling to move in the skis.  It was a class for little kids and they were swarming the rope tow to the top of the bunny hill.  Far be it for my friend and I, both in our 20s, to crush toddlers on our way to the top of the bunny hill, so we set our sights on the “half” mountain trail.

I was feeling all right about everything until sitting on the chair lift.  We swung back and forth a couple times, going up up up.  My anxiety directly related to our altitude as I watched the distance grow between my skis and the snow beneath us.  The bench was short underneath our legs and nothing to keep us from falling.  Thankfully Becca spotted and pulled down the bar to keep us safe(r) on the lift.  My fear surprised me. 

I’ve always been able to go on amusement park rides or airplanes without fear.  But on the chairlift I kept visualizing the headline: Death at West Mountain: skier plunges from chairlift. 

I fell getting off the chairlift.  Twice.  Geez.

By the end of the day I believe I set two West Mountain records.  #1. Longest hateful glare down the mountain from the top, #2. Slowest ride to the bottom.  I did not make any “swishing” noises or make any graceful snake shaped groves in the snow.  My self-confidence was approximately 7% by the end of the day (that 7% comes from knowing I make a mean lasagna).

I struggled to articulate to my friend what my problem was.  Becca is the type to start skiing without many reservations and said, “Well, I figured that I would just go because it wasn’t like I was going to die or anything.”  Where we differed was that I felt as though death was a possibility if I were to hurl my body over the edge of a mountain.

The girl who surfed down a blacktop hill on a banana seat bike was MIA at West Mountain.  She faded into oblivion sometime over the last 15 years.  I can’t say that I miss her too much, though she did have some cool scrapes and bruises.