Wednesday, December 23, 2015

the label maker: a Christmas story.

Everyone remembers their first Christmas with their significant other. Good or bad, we all remember.

Christmas 2005 was the first Christmas season I spent with James. If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that this was two whole Christmases before we started dating. Indeed: James and I became fast friends when we met on move-in day at UMM in August 2005, and we liked each other well enough that, for Christmas that year, we bought each other twelve-packs of Mountain Dew. (Mountain Dew is totally trashy, I know, but we were teenagers and bonded over our love of it.)

James and I had a blast together during the 2005 Christmas season. We had been recruited as swing dancers for a UMM/Morris community Christmas variety show, so we dressed in our fancy clothes and danced to big band music onstage. 
The following week was finals week, and James and I both had late finals. Almost everyone else had already vacated the dorms, so James and I were two of the few souls left on campus. Instead of wallowing in our dorm rooms, we ate at Don's CafĂ© and went bowling.

That was our first Christmas together.

Christmas 2007 was James's and my first Christmas as a couple. We had begun dating in July, but since we had known each other for more than two years, we had gotten the getting-to-know-you-to-figure-out-what-you-might-like-for-Christmas awkwardness out of the way ages ago.

We were broke-ass college kids, so our gifts were sure to be humble. I don't actually remember what I bought for James, but I scoured the Alexandria Target for something completely wonderful within my price range. I can tell you that I paid careful attention to pretty much everything he said he liked, even if it was in passing - and my Christmas gift to him was mostly comprised of a bag full of small James-approved things that I had filed away over the years. There was a small set of Legos, and a box of Queen Anne cordial cherries. I'm reasonably certain that was the year I bought him a trumpet-shaped pencil sharpener, but don't hold me to that. In any case, the gift was an amalgamation of things like that.

James got me a label maker.

You may be envisioning one of those slick digital label makers with the full keypad that uses thermal ink to print your labels. Not so: this was an old-fashioned label maker, complete with the lettered dial and the hand-punch.

I was a tad speechless.

It had never occurred to me to ask for office supplies for Christmas, nor did I think I would open up a gift to find office supplies waiting inside. When I saw my new label maker, I glanced up to see James looking absolutely pleased with himself. I quickly realized that he must have put a lot of thought into this label maker - he wouldn't have chosen something like that arbitrarily. So I used it to make old-timey labels for my college notebooks, and I used it to embellish the (one and only) scrapbook I (have ever) made - the scrapbook was a gift to James for our first anniversary in July 2008, and he was utterly delighted to see that I had used his label maker.

It wasn't until years later that James found out that the label maker wasn't the perfect gift he had thought it to be. While recounting the story of this first Christmas gift to James's and my families over last year's Thanksgiving dinner, James explained: "I couldn't afford anything nice, and when I saw the label maker, I thought, 'Well, Calla likes words!'"

It's worth noting that this has become one of my absolute favorite Christmas stories, and James has since become a truly excellent gift-giver. And in his defense re: label maker, it really is the thought that counts. And he was right: I do like words.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

top ten Tuesday: quote of the day, part III.

At last, we have arrived at the third and final installment of the top ten quotes of the day. Indeed, all good things must end, and my senior year of high school marked the last of the quotes. And you know what? I think I went out on a high note - this set of quotes is my favorite yet. 

2004 – 2005

what you need to know
My sophomore and junior years are coated with the unmistakable earmark of a grumpy teenager. Things improved drastically from my sophomore year to my junior year, and the light was most definitely shining through the clouds during my senior year. My sarcasm had definitely not vanished (and still hasn't to this day), but I was an all-around happier person. And why not? I had plenty to be happy about: I had great friends, I actually enjoyed spending time with my family, and sweet sweet college was right around the corner. Life was good. Also, during my senior year, I took advanced biology: the single best (and most hilarious) class of my high school career.

the "school memories" page
You'll notice that the sarcasm on this page is still present, but much less so than
in previous years. It's mixed in with actual notes about my achievements rather
than 100% snarky comments. The tides are turning.
the assignment book
Still cheesy, I see.
the quote
the explanation
We're starting off strong with a quote from our advanced biology textbook - which we rarely used. Most of our reading material came from photocopied handouts our teacher had used at other schools, or perhaps an article from The Readers Digest. ("I Am Joe's Man Gland" comes immediately to mind.) This hiccup quote struck me as funny because - come on - you're the science book. Even if you don't know the function of hiccups, you're not supposed to TELL us that you don't know.

the quote
the explanation
Remember my great friends? They are hilarious. Sarah has always had a way of putting into words exactly what all of us were feeling - and even things we didn't know we were feeling. Why, yes, I WAS a little torked when I flipped on the TV only to find that Ghostwriter was no more. Thanks for helping me get in touch with my long-repressed childhood feelings, Sarah.

the quote

the explanation
My sister Darrah has become famous for making bold and confident statements and then meekly asking for confirmation. We were talking about something we had overheard on a band bus trip to Chicago the previous year: someone had claimed (seriously) that marshmallows grow on trees, and my parents and I were mocking that statement. Darrah - who would've been about 14 at the time - was quick to agree with us... but backpedal just in case. She does this to this day, and we love her for it.

the quote
the explanation
Let's take a second for honesty here: no high school band kid enjoys playing pep band. You'd rather be watching the game with your friends, or (in my case) not be at the game at all. Now that I've been married to a band director for a few years, I realize that it's not just the students who wish that pep band didn't exist. It's a necessary evil, and it's the band director's job to make it seem like the best thing ever. "Celebration" was the bane of my pep band existence, and it's one of the few pep band tunes that my high school band could play so that it was vaguely recognizable. Hence: we played it ALL THE TIME. Mr Groon was our director, and whenever he announced that "Celebration" was up next, he was met with wailing and gnashing of teeth. He tried to sell it as a great song (see: above quote), but no one bought it. To this day, hearing "Celebration" on the radio makes me cringe.

the quote
the explanation
Mr Stoller was our advanced biology teacher, and he was the single best part of all of our days. He was absolutely hilarious without even trying. Mr Stoller's quotes made up at least 30% of my assignment book that year, and I had to restrain myself from filling this entire blog post with Mr Stoller's quips. He was much more than a quotable biology teacher: on Fridays, he would wear overalls and play us songs on his guitar. Mr Stoller was a delight. And he is the reason that I know where the xiphoid process is to this day.

the quote
the explanation
Mr Stoller strikes again. A typical week of advanced biology went like this: Monday and Tuesday = new material, Wednesday and Thursday = review, Friday = test. We covered a lot of ground, and it's not all that surprising that some if it didn't stick quite as well as it should. Quickly memorize and move on was the way to survive. On those review days, Mr Stoller would usually have us break into groups and review terms (read: totally screw around with only the occasional glance at our study guides). Every so often, he would ask us biology questions... which were apparently met with dead silence.

the quote
the explanation
I'd like to think a Bjorklund sitcom wouldn't suck, but I would watch it, too - even if it did indeed suck.

the quote
the explanation
We encountered said bossy geese on a government class trip to Pierre. I have almost no recollection of this trip, but I do know that the state capital is covered in goose poop. There are tons of geese roaming the grounds, and you couldn't walk on the sidewalk (or the grass) without stepping in poop. We had gotten some bread somewhere, and we were feeding the geese. One got bossy, so Sarah put him in his place. No bread for bossy geese: let that be a lesson to you.

the quote

the explanation
My mom works in the animal science department at SDSU, and I saw this advertisement one day when I went to visit her. It was an ad for lamb, and the implication is, of course, that adding lamb to your regular old kabob will turn it into a sophisticated karobert. I thought it was hilarious. To this day, no matter how many people I have told about this, I am STILL the only one who thinks it's hilarious.

the quote
the explanation
You many notice that this final quote is the only one in the entire series written in blue - and in slightly more legible handwriting. This is the very last quote of the day, and I read it on graduation day. I was the class salutatorian, so it was my job to give one of the speeches. By the end of high school, I had been doing quotes of the day for three entire years. It was my thing. My classmates all knew it was something I did, and I thought it would be appropriate to include one last quote of the day. I found this quote about commencement speeches, and I believe it is spot on. Out with a bang.


My friends, we have come to the end of the quotes of the day. Three years, thirty quotes. I had so much fun going back through my old assignment books and picking these out. Doing this reinforced what we knew all along: I was a super weird kid. But thank God I was: what kind of stories would I have if I'd been normal?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

rant: Sioux Falls Walmarts.

There aren’t a lot of things that make me angry. There are plenty of things that irritate me – mosquitos, vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup passing itself off as chocolate ice cream, improper grammar – but not much to make me truly angry.

Do you want to know what one of those things is?

The Sioux Falls Walmarts.

You may recall from a post long past that my friends and I spent a lot of time in the Brookings Walmart and had a great time doing so. There was nothing angering at all about the Brookings Walmart.

The Sioux Falls Walmarts are totally different animals.

(DISCLAIMER: I am referring only to the east and west side Walmarts. I have not yet ventured to the relatively-new north side Walmart, nor do I have any plans to do so. It can't be much better than its east and west side siblings.)

A lot of it has something to do with the fact that Sioux Falls is a much larger town than Brookings, so their Walmarts will surely be more crowded. However, I shouldn’t have to worry about getting flattened by shopping carts when I set foot Walmart. In Sioux Falls, that’s a very real concern. Or scooters. The people driving those scooters are vicious.

Seriously, those Walmarts are always crowded, all the time. But they’re not crowded with nice, friendly people who won’t mow you down with their shopping cart loaded with Shasta and beef jerky. The Sioux Falls Walmarts are packed full of people just as angry as I am (probably because they’re at Walmart) and ten times as pushy.

In the Sioux Falls Walmarts, screaming children run free and it’s every man for himself. People abandon overflowing carts in the middle of aisles, and they’re inevitably piled high with perishables like ground beef and eggs. These Walmarts are always coated in a fine layer of something sticky, and you couldn’t pay me to use the bathrooms there.

Oh, and the parking lot! It is always completely full, and the lanes are clogged with THOSE people: you know, the ones who want the closest possible parking and will sit there and block traffic and wait for the car to back out – even if the person has JUST started to unload the contents of their cart into their trunk. And even if you try to skip this whole mess and park way out in the boonies, you will find a whole other pile of terribleness out there. That’s where the gigantic pickups park diagonally and take up three parking spaces, and that’s where people send shopping carts out to parking lot pasture EVEN THOUGH the cart corral is RIGHT THERE.

Why do I go there if I hate it so much? The short answer: I don’t any more. For a time, I would make an exception for yogurt. Yes, yogurt. Walmart was the only place that carried my favorite yogurt (Oikos Greek Yogurt – the honey variety. mmm), so when I ventured forth into that dark place, it was only for yogurt. However, Walmart no longer carries Oikos honey yogurt. That was the end for me.

For everything else, it’s HyVee and Target. When I first moved to Sioux Falls, I couldn’t afford anything but Walmart groceries, so it was that or nothing. As I’ve moved up in the world, I still love a good deal, but here’s where you make a choice of cost versus value. And to me, it’s worth it to pay a few (or more than a few) extra cents at Target or Hy-Vee if it means I can avoid Walmart altogether.

My hatred of Sioux Falls Walmart is beginning to cloud my vision of other Walmarts. We stopped at the Brookings Walmart not too long ago, and I was dreading it before we even entered the parking lot. However, I stepped inside to see the clean, cheerful Walmart of my youth. The Brookings Walmart is friendly and you don’t stick to the floors, and people don’t scowl at you if you make eye contact with them in the aisles. I’ll try not to judge other Walmarts by the Sioux Falls Walmart standard, but at the end of the day, I’d still rather go to Target.

Did I tell you about the time I found a used condom in the parking lot?

I have been to Hell, and it is a Sioux Falls Walmart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

top ten Tuesday: quote of the day, part II.

Welcome to part II of my top ten quotes-of-the-day! In this installment, we'll cover my junior year of high school: 2003 - 2004. 

As you may recall, I began writing a quote-of-the-day during my sophomore year. Each school day was assigned a quote, and my friends and I got a great deal of enjoyment out of said quotes. I have to say, I'm getting an even greater deal of enjoyment going back and re-reading these quotes.
2003 – 2004

what you need to know
While junior year found me not quite as pessimistic and angsty as sophomore year, I was still not quite convinced that high school was supposed to be the best years of my life. But things were changing for the better: I got contacts and a (slightly) less weird wardrobe, and I was looking at colleges - which gave me a better perspective on life outside of high school. I was still unapologetically weird, and that would most certainly carry over into my senior year of high school. And - let's face it - the rest of my life.

the "school memories" page
So much sarcasm. So little time.
the assignment book
Here is the cheesy inspirational holographic cover in its original form.
the quote
the explanation
I have learned SO MUCH from the Clelland family over the years. Most of it I can't tell you, due to the rules of the Lake Poinsett cabin: what happens at the cabin stays at the cabin. This quote from Don did not originate at the cabin - if it had, I wouldn't have even written it down. I take cabin rules very seriously. In any case, this is one of the few Clelland-isms that I can pass on: life is short, so you might as well be a dictator.

the quote
the explanation
Remember how Mr Kones had a pithy response for everything? His reign continued into my junior year, when he was our algebra II teacher. That was the year that our school was condemned, and we spent the 2003 - 2004 school year learning out of government trailers. Even though algebra and I have never been close friends, Mr Kones's math class was a highlight of our days. He always had something quote-worthy to say. 

the quote
the explanation
When we moved into our house in 2000, my aunt gave us a housewarming gift: a beta fish named Willie. He came in a glass jar topped with a plant, and legend had it that he would just eat the plant's algae and be fine and dandy. (It turned out that we should've been feeding him... but we didn't realize it until TWO YEARS into his life. Clearly, he made it through.) Willie lived to the ripe old age of three, which is pretty stunning - especially considering that most of the preceding Bjorklund pet fish didn't make it to the one-week mark. When Willie did finally go to the big fishbowl in the sky, my mother gave him this touching eulogy before his burial at sea. What a way with words.

the quote
the explanation
Once upon a time on the farm, my dad brought home a new combine. It was red (what other color is there?), and its model number was 1666. Natural conclusion? It should be named Lucifer or Beezlebub. I don't think we ever did settle on a name for this combine, but if we had, I'm sure Sweetie won out. A missed opportunity, let me tell you.

the quote
the explanation
In my humble opinion, the Chris Farley years on Saturday Night Live were some of the best. And I loved El Nino. (Especially this winter: everyone is talking about El Nino, and all I can think of is Chris Farley.)
Ok, yes, I screwed up the quote. But considering I had little to no internet access and could only watch old SNL episodes via VHS-recorded TV Land reruns, I think I made do. 

the quote
the explanation
Honestly, I have no real explanation for this quote. Just say it out loud in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, and you'll find it hilarious. 

the quote
the explanation
My dear friend Bob (his name really is Bob) is oftentimes met with disbelief when he tells people that his name is Bob. This was especially true in high school, as there just weren't that many teenage Bobs running around. Hence: his introductory disclaimer.

the quote
the explanation
Some of my quotes have context (see: Sweetie the Combine), and some do not. I really wish this one did - I find the stand-alone quote to be spectacular, but it would be even better if I knew what triggered this. Knowing my family, it could be just about anything.

the quote
the explanation
Again, no context. This is the fourth quote involving my parents, and there are many more sprinkled throughout my junior year assignment book. I'd say that they give you a fairly accurate insight into life at my house - and nothing has changed. We are irreverent and sarcastic and call each other slime weasels, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

the quote
the explanation
Wise words from John Hughes. Putting a quote about high school in my high school handbook was very meta of my teenage self. My affection for John Hughes has not lessened over the years - nay, the older I get, the more I appreciate him. As a matter of fact, I was just asked to fill out a "getting to know you" questionnaire for work, and one of the questions asked about my favorite movie quote. My answer? Courtesy of Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Carpe diem, indeed.


That concludes my top ten junior year quotes. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of the series: senior year!

Friday, November 20, 2015

five for Friday: my favorite trends.

I’ve been writing about clothes and doing the cheap outfit posts long enough for you to know that I’m generally a late adopter when it comes to trends. I didn’t get my first pair of flare jeans  (remember when they were still called "flare jeans"?) until junior high: at least two years after my classmates had given up their tapered jeans. I didn’t own skinny jeans until I was a senior in college, and I only bought them to tuck into my new riding boots: two trends that everyone else had managed to embrace before me. It took an awfully long time for me to warm up to the idea of a maxi dress – as I didn’t want to be mistaken for a sister wife – but eventually, I came around.

The thing about trends is that they come and go so fast. Personally, I’m not willing to invest my hard-earned clothing money on a fad that I’m not sure about. I like to be sure that the particular clothing trend is not going anywhere before I accept it into my closet. And those trends I took so long to accept? They’re still fashionable today. (Flare jeans have morphed into bootcut jeans, but I’m counting them all the same.)

However, every once in a while, I’m either ahead of or right on top of the curve. When this happens – albeit rarely – it’s usually for something that I’ve loved all along. The rest of the world just had to catch up to me.

Inexplicably, there are currently five trends that I am all for. I hopped on three of these trends right away, and I was sporting the other two long before it was the thing to do.

I’ll start with the three that I got into immediately. These three trends are utilitarian, and that’s why I love them so much. Most of the time, you are forced to choose between fashion and function. For these three delightful fashions, they go hand-in-hand.

blanket cardigans/scarves – warmth
When I refer to a blanket cardigan or a blanket scarf, I’m talking about a gigantic fuzzy drapey thing that keeps you incredibly warm. As we are entering yet ANOTHER winter, it’s very important that you have enough sweaters and scarves to keep from freezing to death. Blanket cardigans are gigantic and have tons of extra material, so you can cocoon yourself into a cozy ball of warmth. The blanket scarves tend to be used as a decorative accessory, but in a pinch, you can take it off and use it as a – you guys it – blanket.

fancy sweatshirts – comfort
When you think of comfortable clothing, what is one of the first things that comes to mind? If you ask me, it’s a sweatshirt. Unfortunately for me, sweatshirts are not work appropriate… until now! Sweatshirt choices are no longer limited to the kind with sports teams and hoods. There are such a thing as embellished sweatshirts – they have patterns and embellishments and are pretty snappy. They’re dressy enough to wear on casual Friday, but comfy enough so that you still feel like you’re wearing a sweatshirt. It’s a win-win.

giant glasses – better vision
I have had glasses since I was five, and believe me when I tell you that having the vision of a bat in the daytime is not easy. My first pair of glasses was an enormous set of frames that took up half my face, but you’d better believe that I could see everything around me. As I got older, the trendy glasses got smaller. That meant that in order to look cool (or as cool as I could with thick glasses and colorful braces), I had to sacrifice some valuable lens real estate. I did get contacts when I was a junior in high school, and those helped immensely. But as you fellow contact-wearers will know, sometimes, you just really want to wear glasses. Thankfully, my salvation was imminent. Gigantic hipster glasses suddenly became cool, which meant that I could go back to having more lens to cover more of my eye, therefore giving me better peripheral vision. I am well aware that this trend won’t last forever and that my future children will someday laugh at pictures of my huge hipster glasses like we laugh at Mom’s glasses from the 80s. But I’m willing to take the risk.

The last two trends on the agenda today are two that I’d been seeking all along. And one day, BAM! They’re everywhere. Allow me to be a hipster for a second and tell you that I liked fair isle and dresses with pockets before they were cool.

dresses and skirts with pockets
This just seemed like common sense to me. Pants have pockets for you to keep your Chapstick in – why wouldn’t dresses and skirts want to do the same? I didn’t really wear dresses until college, and when I started hunting for dresses with pockets, I came up short. I would find a pocketed dress one once in a very great while, but it was a rare treasure. But just few years ago, it seemed like every dress in every store was be-pocketed. And that was a great day for me and other dress-wearing pocket-appreciating people everywhere. Now, when shopping for dresses and skirts, that’s the first thing that I look for. Does it have pockets? No? Then back it goes.

fair isle
As a Scandinavian, it’s in my DNA to be attracted to fair isle. I wanted an authentic Norwegian sweater so badly, but they always were (and still are) way out of my price range. My grandma Lorraine gave my siblings and me some of her old Norwegian sweaters, which were goofy – to say the least. Goofy enough to warrant a Christmas card. What I wanted was some respectable fair isle that I could wear without looking like I’d raided Goodwill. For the longest time, the best I could do was socks. But then – fair isle was all over the place. Sweaters, scarves, hats, mittens, you name it. I’m up to my eyeballs in fair isle, and I LOVE IT.


So those are my five trends. Chances are pretty slim that I’ll be an early adopter of  this many trends ever again, but I’ll be sure and keep you informed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

top ten Tuesday: quote of the day, part I.

Many many years ago, I started doing something called “the quote of the day”.

Many many years ago = approximately fourteen years.

(I am 28 now, and fourteen years ago was half a lifetime ago for me. YIKES.)

I got my first job at the tender age of 14, and it was at a little ice cream shop on Lake Poinsett. The ice cream shop was called Twisters and no longer exists – the building has been through several names/food specialties and is currently a barbecue place called Smokins.

One of the perks of my job at Twisters was unlimited fountain pop during working hours. In retrospect, that may not have been the wisest thing to offer a bunch of teenagers, as we drank our weight in Mountain Dew every damn day.

We had Styrofoam cups for our pop, and you – of course – were expected to put your name on the pop so that no one mistook your germy drink for their own. I started off doing just this: a simple “Calla” in permanent marker sufficed for the first week or two.

But, as I am a weirdo, “Calla” just wasn’t enough.

I started off slowly. Instead of writing my name on my cup, I would instead write “Batman” or “Art Garfunkel” or whatever pop culture persona I was into at the time. This, too, got old quickly.

I wish I could remember where I got the idea, or what my first quote was. But my cup labeling system soon evolved into a quote of the day. I would write a song lyric or a quote from a movie on my Styrofoam cup each and every day. My coworkers got a kick out of it for a while, but soon, I was just doing it for my own entertainment. It got to the point where I would make lists of potential quotes for my Styrofoam cup, and I would pore over them carefully before heading to work. After all, it was of utmost importance that I pick a good one.

I worked at Twisters for two summers, and for two summers, I put a quote of the day on my drink cup. After that second summer, I knew I wouldn’t be going back to Twisters, thus ending the reign of my quotes. Unless…

…I started writing a quote of the day in my school assignment book.

Upon entering high school, each of the students was given an assignment book that we (under penalty of death) were to have on our person at all times. Why it was so imperative for us to have this book still confounds me. Sure, our teachers wanted us to write our assignments down. Sure, we used the back few pages to sign in and out of class – to go to the bathroom, band lessons, etcetera. But if we were caught anywhere without this book, we earned Saturday School points, which are exactly what they sound like.

I didn’t do assignment book quotes of the day until my sophomore year, but when I started, I did it with such gusto that my friends began asking me what the quote of the day was – and my friend Bob started doing his own quotes of the day. We would constantly quote our friends, and it was a great honor when something you said became a quote of the day. (I know that sounds terribly smug, but I’m speaking from experience: whenever Bob deigned a quip from me worthy of quote of the day, I felt like I had accomplished something great.)

Much like the days of Twisters quote of the day, I gathered quotes everywhere for possible use in my assignment book. I had notebook pages full of them, and even reserved a special gel pen for my quote of the day. (Green, in case you were curious.) Each and every day had one – in some cases, even days where we weren’t in school had a quote of the day.

Miraculously, I still have all three of those assignment books. I unearthed them from my childhood closet and hauled them home with me. I feel like I owe it to the hard work of my high school self to share some of these ridiculous quotes.

So now, with much ado, I present to you the first of a three-part quote of the day series. For each year of assignment book quotes, I have picked out my ten favorites. They are in chronological order, from beginning of the school year to the end. Some are from friends, some are from family. Some are from movies, some from TV shows and books. All of them made me smile and stirred up long-archived memories of my bizarre high school days.

I also present them to you in my original teenager handwriting. You’re welcome.

2002 – 2003

what you need to know
I thought it might be helpful to provide a little background information on my sophomore year self, which might help make sense of the quotes I chose. I was 15 (turning 16 in April), and I was the textbook definition of an awkward teenager. Glasses, braces, acne, unnecessary teenage angst, the whole package. I drove a 1987 Buick Park Avenue and convinced myself that wearing Spider-man shoes was cool. I got a big kick out of obscure movies, music, and TV shows, as it was a great desire of mine to know things that other people didn’t. I was kind of a dick.

Here are some of my sophomore year “favorites,” taken directly from a K-12 school memories book that I filled out religiously from the time I was four until the day I graduated high school.

the "school memories" page
You'll notice that I actually mention quote-of-the-day on this page.
This should give you a little perspective on my sophomore-year persona. All you really need to know is that I was insufferably sarcastic, a trait that may or may not be with me today. 

the assignment book
These books came with some kind of inspirational hologram on the cover, and I
actually took fingernail polish and removed the whole thing... and then
rubber-cemented my own internet-printed images on the cover. I was insane.

the quote
the explanation 
Honestly, I don't have an explanation for this one. I'm reasonably certain I was quizzing my parents on the identities of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my dad - who likely missed out on the 80s cartoon - came up with the best non-answer possible. I WISH Liberace was the fourth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

the quote
the explanation 
Mr Kones was the algebra teacher, and I did not have him during my sophomore year. Instead, I had geometry. I'm sure this quote stemmed from me complaining about geometry (which really wasn't that bad and - in fact - ended up being the best math grade I ever received). Mr Kones was known for his pithy responses, and this is the first of many Mr Kones quotes to appear in my assignment books.

the quote
the explanation 
During my sophomore year, I was OBSESSED with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Who am I kidding - I'm still obsessed.) Buffy was full of quotables, and this is one of many that made it into my assignment book that year.

the quote
the explanation 
I am reasonably certain that my sophomore year was when we got internet access at our house, so I spent a LOT of time on the internet. I mean... A LOT. One of my favorite sites was called Rinkworks - which totally still exists and looks exactly like it did in 2002. One of their features is called Book-a-Minute, and they are HILARIOUS. Book-a-Minute condenses long and wordy books into a few sentences that can be read in, well, a minute. If you're looking to waste a couple of hours, I'd highly recommend it.

the quote
the explanation 
My friend Sarah and I were both clarinet players, and we went to All-State Band auditions every year. It wasn't that we were particularly good... we were just the only ones willing to go (and were ok with missing a solid half-day of school for it). We played the same solo every year ("Beauty and Joy") and didn't study the terms until we were in the school Suburban on the way to auditions. Sarah was always good at coming up with ways for us to remember these terms, and this was one of my favorites.

the quote
the explanation 
Mrs Murphy was the science teacher during my sophomore and junior years. She taught biology to the sophomores and always had an entertaining Power Point for each lesson. "Don't do business with dinoflagellates" came about during a lesson on shellfish, as dinoflagellates can accumulate in shellfish and become poisonous when eaten. Hence: not doing business with them.

the quote
the explanation 
This was a fairly typical conversation between my friend Allison and me. I don't remember what exactly we were talking about, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it somehow involved Marathon Man. And how many high school sophomores do you know that talk about Marathon Man on a semi-regular basis? Not many, I'm sure: and that's why we were awesome.

the quote
the explanation 
Sophomore year biology meant that we dissected all sorts of once-living creatures. We dissected a jellyfish, a crayfish, and a fetal pig - and likely other formaldehyded messes that I have since blocked out. The smell of the crayfish was especially potent, and I'm sure that I was quite vocal about that. Mrs Murphy encouraged us just to make friends, and it would all be ok. I don't think the crayfish thought that it was all ok. 

the quote
the explanation 
During the second semester of sophomore year, I was able to take an art class - and it was an absolute delight. We made our own paper and fired pottery (mine was terrible) and created reproductions of famous works of art. In between creating art, we learned about art history... which I would credit to my eventually going on to earn an art history degree. Ms Tuntland was the art teacher, and she was always eager to teach us about artists and art history, and we learned exactly why gargoyles were placed on buildings: to keep the demons out. Maybe I need a gargoyle to keep the damn neighbor kids from stealing the apples off our trees. Don't bother kids: we gargoyles are already here doing demonic stuff/stealing apples.

the quote
the explanation 
At the end of sophomore year, Mrs Murphy totally blindsided Allison and me by giving each of us a copy of the Carol poster: a poster that had been up in her classroom all year, and one that we had envied and remarked upon almost every single day.
This poster is still hanging in my old room at my parents' house, and I am sorely tempted to bring it back with me to Luverne and hang it up here. It would make my house exponentially more awesome.


That concludes the first installment of the top ten quotes-of-the-day. Stay tuned for part II: junior year!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

a lifetime of Halloweens.

So it's almost Halloween, and I am excited: per usual. It's not even officially Halloween yet, and I've already dressed up TWICE: for Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis, and for the Zombie Walk in Sioux Falls.

Yes, we're wearing the same zombie clothes both times. But they were a week
apart, so give these zombies a break.

And that's just the beginning: I have not one, but TWO costumes left to go. I have a costume for work on Friday, and I have a costume for Halloween itself on Saturday.

But why so many costumes?

Because I have a policy.

I cannot be the same thing for Halloween twice.

"But wait!" you say. "What about the zombies, huh? YOU ARE LYING!"

But no! I dress up as a zombie for specific zombie-themed events: not for Halloween itself. Doesn't count. It's the zombie clause in my self-imposed Halloween contract. 

I must have decided on my no-repeats Halloween rule at a pretty young age: I have pictures going back to 1989, and you won't find any duplicates. You will, however, find some darn cute pictures of me as a very excited child. 

I wish I had pictures of every Halloween, but I don't. I don't know what I was for Halloweens 1987 and 1988 - I am pretty sure that, for one of those Halloweens, my parents dressed me up in the little skeleton costume you'll see on my sister in 1991 and my brother in 1993. 1992 is also missing, as are 1999 - 2002. While I am unsure about 1992, 1999 - 2001 was a dark time in my life... as I was deemed too old for trick-or-treating. I decided to forgo costumes those years, but I eventually realized that just because you're too old to trick-or-treat does NOT mean you're too old to dress up for Halloween. You're NEVER too old to dress up for Halloween, dammit. The only other year missing is 2009, but that was the year that I was in New Orleans. I was so excited to spend Halloween in New Orleans, but alas, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I didn't know anyone well enough to go out Halloweening with them, and even if I did, I didn't have enough money for a costume or drinks at the bar. I spent that Halloween curled up on my air mattress, watching Halloween episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sad-eating Halloween candy from my landlady.

On the bright side? Pretty much every Halloween going forward is guaranteed to be better than that one.

So here we go: a pictorial history of Calla's Halloweens!

Is this or is this not the cutest damn Mickey Mouse you've ever seen? I was about two-and-a-half, and Halloween was already my favorite holiday. Trick-or-treating in the country always meant that you'd come away with an enormous haul. We just had to hop in the minivan and drive from house to house. As not many trick-or-treaters make it out into the sticks where we lived, any house you went to would reward you with handfuls of candy. Or multiple full-sized candy bars. Or twelve-packs of pop. Country trick-or-treating is the best.

My pumpkin makeup is a little bit hilarious. I'm not sure which parent was responsible for this, but I would like to know why exactly I have a red mouth instead of a black one. The jack o' lantern face on my sweatshirt has a black mouth - why not me?

You may have noticed that all of my costumes involve long sleeves. Indeed, I live in the Midwest, so many of my Halloween costumes were planned around sweatshirts and winter coats. That's why I look so bulky: under my black sweatshirt was probably another sweatshirt. I believe 1991 was a particularly snowy Halloween, but there's no way that I wasn't going out trick-or-treating.

This princess dress came from a huge bin of my mom's old clothes that had been deemed "for dress-up." I played dress-up ALL the damn time, and it was a delight for me to be able to wear this out in public. To top it off, Mom made me glitter shoes: old dress shoes coated in glue and dipped in multi-colored glitter. They were the BEST.

I don't know where this costume came from, but I do remember that it was supposed to be a bunny suit. It more or less a white onesie and had big ears sticking straight up. One of Mom's coworkers sewed spots on it, and presto! I was a dalmatian. However, even though I was clearly wearing a dog collar, I was mistaken for a cow for all of Halloween day.

1995 must've been a particularly warm Halloween, hence the bare legs. Though I was only eight in 1995, I feel as though my sarcasm was really starting to develop: being a cheerleader for Halloween was the scariest thing I could think of.

Another cold Halloween, as our costumes were comprised mainly of different-colored sweatshirts. My cat ears are a little droopy, but I felt (at the time) like the stuffed mouse really brought the costume together. Please, though, direct your attention to my brother Mitch, who (at age three) is way too delighted to be Satan.

Ah, the year I was Cruella de Vil. Mom (for reasons still unknown) had this old rabbit-fur coat in the back of her closet, and I commandeered it for Halloween that year. My cousin Ethan was a part of the theatre department at SDSU, so he was able to procure (and spray-paint) the wig for me. Another cold-weather costume, but this one was a win. 

The first year of the double Halloween costume. I dug through the old dress-up box and was a gypsy for the school Halloween parade. (This was around the time Disney released The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I totally wished I could be Esmeralda.) I came home in my gypsy outfit, all ready to trick-or-treat, and I was informed that it was too cold to wear it. I would have to find something else. I half-heartedly threw together my "person in pajamas" costume, which is 100% lame. Had I realized that it would be my last year as a trick-or-treater, I'd like to think that I would've come up with something better. We'll never know.

Ok, so I'm not 100% sure what I billed my costume as this year. I do know that it involved this dress that I bought at Goodwill, a vampire cape from KMart, and skeleton earrings. Medieval vampire, perhaps?

Another off-year in my Halloween history. This is the cape that I bought with Allison the year before - sadly, no photographic evidence exists of our 2002 vampire costumes. The cape itself is pretty awesome - it came from Kmart in Brookings before it closed, and I still have the cape to this day. I also have the skeleton earrings in this picture, which you can see if you look very closely. Anyway, I wanted to dress up for Halloween but was fresh out of ideas, so this is what I got. I called myself Count von Disco Bono: vampire cape + Bono sunglasses + pink plaid bellbottoms. A terrible costume, but a costume nonetheless.

Halloween of my senior year of high school was AWESOME. That was the year our high school football team made it to the state playoffs (and won). Halloween was right around said big game, so all of Halloween (which was on a Sunday, so we celebrated early at school) was one big pep rally day. There were games and snacks and absolutely no productivity whatsoever. My outfit was a red one-piece bell-bottomed monstrosity that I got at Goodwill, plus some go-go boots and a shiny scarf. I was a reject Charlie's Angel. I had to work at the Dairy Mart  that evening, and there was no way that I was doing so in a polyester jumpsuit. I changed into a dress and saddle shoes and was a generic sock-hopper.

Much to my great pleasure, I found all sorts of people at college who loved to dress up at Halloween. I stole adopted my old band uniform - after all, the school had just gotten new ones and was systematically burning/donating/destroying the old uniforms, so I figured that I might as well give mine the loving home it deserved. Anyway, it was the perfect Midwestern costume - made of wool = super warm. And how about that hat? If only I'd had the red plume that goes with it.

Yes, friends: this was the year of the triple costume. My friend Sara and I attended UMM's first Zombie Prom: though we look like undead pandas, believe me when I say that we were zombies. Halloween was on a Tuesday that year, so we also needed costumes for the preceding weekend: hence my sailor outfit. It's difficult to see in this picture, but my top is an actual wool sailing uniform that I picked up at an antique store. Points for authenticity. Finally, Sara and I had costumes for Halloween itself: we went as opposites. It's the only time that I've ever dressed as a concept for Halloween, and it was a very liberal arts college thing to do. I totally loved it and still think we were a little bit brilliant.

My favorite costume to date: the year of the Croc. Ever since I first saw those rubbery horrors, I have cursed their existence. Sara had a pair of pink Crocs that she so graciously let me borrow for this costume. This was the year that Halloween was on a Wednesday, and Wednesday nights were the nights that both Sara (the news editor) and I (the arts and entertainment editor) worked late at the college paper. We put in extra hours on Monday and Tuesday of that week in order to be out the door by 10pm Wednesday - instead of our usual 2am Thursday. Halloween is THAT important.

Thanks to the leap year, Halloween landed on a Friday in 2008. Theoretically, that was great: but we poor band kids had a concert on HALLOWEEN NIGHT. And not even a fun Halloween concert... a regular concert that no one attended BECAUSE IT WAS HALLOWEEN. After the concert, we all booked it back to our houses to get into our Halloween costumes and catch up to the rest of our non-band friends. My costume is an authentic Norwegian folk costume, given to me by my authentic Norwegian grandma. And made of wool. The best Minnesotan Halloween costumes are wool-based.

I was living in Minneapolis in 2010, which is an all-around excellent place to spend Halloween. I had finished my tenure as an intern at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, but during my time there, I learned about all sorts of cool events that they sponsor. Example: they do this thing called Third Thursdays where, the third Thursday of each month, they keep the museum open late and have some kind of big event. On this particular Third Thursday, the MIA asked attendees to come dressed as their favorite MIA work of art. I chose Dali's Lobster Telephone because why on earth WOULDN'T you choose Lobster Telephone?

By 2011, I had moved to Sioux Falls and had been there for approximately one month. I wore the costume on the left to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, hoping that it would be as amazing as the midnight showing I had seen in Minneapolis the year before. (Note: it wasn't.) My Rocky Horror outfit was not as risque as a real Rocky Horror outfit should be, but what can I say? It was cold, and I was a chicken. The costume on the left is the one I wore to work at the Department of Labor and Regulation. I was dead-broke, so I had to pretty much phone this one in. I carried a ruler and was an old-timey teacher - the dress belonged to my grandma in the 60s, who was real-life old-timey teacher. Again, points for authenticity.

By Halloween 2012, I was gainfully employed at the library and was delighted to find out that nearly everyone at the library dressed up for Halloween. The library costumes were all part of a theme, and the theme that year was superheroes. That worked out perfectly for me, as my brother Mitch had given me this spectacular pair of pajamas for Christmas the year before. And may I say that James's Pee-Wee Herman costume is simply amazing? 

2013 was the first year that we participated in the Zombie Walk... and I didn't really even get to be in it. The parade started at 5 o'clock, but I worked until 5... I thought I could quick run over, find James and our friend Nate, and quick get my makeup done and hop in the parade. Alas, by the time I left the library and made it to the zombie area (approx. two minutes), the parade was over. So I found James and Nate at a restaurant, and they did my makeup while we were waiting for a table. For Halloween itself, the library's theme costume was Duck Dynasty... I don't have a photograph, but we all wore fake beards and camouflage. My REAL costume was Mary Poppins - and this was the first (and so far, only) year James and I have had couples' costumes. 

Finally, we arrive at 2014. Mitch made it for the Zombie Walk, and I feel as though our makeup was much better than the year before. For Halloween, I convinced the library to go with a "TV characters" theme just because I had been dying to go as Buster Bluth. I repurposed the Duck Dynasty jacket from the year before and bought camo pants, a hook, an army hat, wire glasses, and a loose seal - complete with a yellow bow tie. It was the most I'd ever spent on a Halloween costume, and the hardest I'd ever worked on one. And you know what? Almost NO ONE got it. At the bar that evening, one guy yelled out "Motherboy," which was a spot-on Buster Bluth reference and totally made my night.


Yes, I did totally come back to edit this post after I originally published it so that I could include my 2015 costumes. 2015 was a particularly strong year for me, and I'm really quite proud of my costumes. For work, I dressed as Maleficent. Our work theme was heroes and villains, and I was only one of two villains. I got a lot of great compliments on my costume that day, and no less than three people asked to take a picture of/with me. But what really struck me as hilarious was that for every one person who commented on my costume, there were at least three more who pretended like absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary. On Halloween itself, I dressed as a Rockford Peach - specifically, Marla Hooch. "And then there's Marla Hooch... what a hitter!"


And there's my lifetime of Halloweens. I already have a list of kick-ass Halloween costume possibilities for 2016. It's the most wonderful time of the year.