Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Christmas Music I Don't Hate

A blatant act of procrastination:

You should really play this, for the graphics, if nothing else.

To clarify here, it's Jack Black singing, but Sum 41 is playing.  And they want to party naked on a school bus full of nuns!

Twisted Sister actually has a whole Christmas album (called "A Twisted Christmas"), and it's pretty great for people who don't like all the traditional stuff.

These guys have a Christmas album, too, called "Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer", and this by far my favorite song on it.  I listened to Relient K back in Jr. High, and now I'm starting to like them again, partially because they came to North Central and played right before I graduated.

All right, last one.  I really wish I could find a video with better sound quality, but it seems the only recording of this is a live one, so there's little to be done.  If you couldn't tell by the name, Bad Religion isn't the most reverent group around, and they've actually covered a couple Christmas songs, changing the words in not-so-Christian-friendly ways, but they didn't do that here.  They just sang it properly, and at one point Greg says "Do you get it yet?"

At some point today I will get some things done.  Just obviously not right now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This is About a Vacuum, but Not Really

I vacuumed my apartment today, which I found amusing, because this is my vacuum cleaner:

Majestic, isn't she?  I took it from my grandfather's house after he moved in with my parents.  It still works perfectly, and it was free, which more than makes up for what it lacks in style.  I have no idea how old this things is, I'm guessing it was my grandmothers.  That makes it at least 20-25 years old.

This blessedly old vacuum, I feel, is the only thing left in my apartment that's working at all.  Today my water got temporarily shut off for the third time since I moved here in August.  It's back on now, but seriously?  Three times?  The other two times it was off for several days, making me one angry, unwashed individual (actually the second time I just went home since it was so close to Thanksgiving and showered when I got there).  The 3M hooks I was using to hold up my curtains detached from the wall (which they are not supposed to do, ever) and the whole contraption fell down in a heap.  My computer is on its last legs, so it's running incredibly slow, and being generally disagreeable whenever I try to get anything done (once I get a program running we're good, it's just getting the program to run that's the trouble).  Worst of all, my bedroom door has the hardest time staying shut (parenthesis all over this paragraph, huh?).

This bothers me because it reminds of my bedroom growing up.  No matter how far you closed the door, unless you shut it completely and heard the click, it would swing open again of its own accord.  I didn't like to shut the door completely when I was sleeping back then because I was afraid of being trapped in there if something demonic came in, so I was always sure to leave it slightly cracked.  If it had been the sort of door that swung back open as soon as you let go of it, I'm sure I wouldn't have been so unsettled, but that's not what happened.  The door would stay right where you put it for a while, then slowly reopen in the most ominous way possible after an unpredictable about of time.  My fears of some ghost-demon-beast breaking in were, of course, reaffirmed.

Now, though, I want to sleep with the door closed to help trap the heat in my room since I don't turn the heater on unless I really need it.  It's already back off since the last entry, but I live on the third floor, so I'm getting all the heat that rises up from the rooms below mine.  Right now it's a comfortable 68 degrees in my apartment.  But I digress.

My current bedroom has one of those won't-stay-shut-unless-pushed-until-the-click doors, just like my childhood one.  However, due to some issue with the door framing, the carpet, or some other unfortunate anomaly, it takes more effort than it should to get the door completely closed.  Meaning that I will never completely close it.  This goes back to my fear of being trapped, and here's my reasoning: if it takes effort to close it must take effort to open, right?  What if some sinister character busts through my bedroom window and I'm stuck in there with him/her/it because of my dysfunctional door?

And maybe I know that the door is not, in fact, hard to open at all.  Maybe I've closed and opened the door several times on several occasions just to prove this to myself.  Maybe I know that, even if the door were hard to open, the fact that I live on the third floor and that there are trees right outside my window means that anyone breaking in would require a ladder or something along those lines, unless they could climb trees, but in any case would end up making enough noise for me to wake up and get out before they even made it to my window.  It doesn't matter.  My inner eight-year-old wants that door open.

My poor inner eight-year-old, because it's so scared of having the door shut, but leaving it cracked inevitably recreates the creepy self-opening.  This one's not as unpredictable as the one from my youth, it pretty much swings back as soon as you let go of it, but it still unnerves me a little each time I turn around and see it open again right after I shut it.  Part of me can't help but think, "Just great, who knows what's in here now?  Probably something godless and hungry."

In the face of all this, at least I have a working vacuum cleaner.  I'm actually trying to tidy up my apartment here and there so it's clean by the time I head home for Christmas.  Although, not much got done today since I didn't have water until about 5:00.  Sure, I could have done something once it was turned back on, but I have all week.  No need to be hasty.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

About Winter, and Music

It finally got cold enough in my apartment for me to turn on the heater, which led to my wondering if I really have a heater, or just an air conditioner capable of generating cold or slightly less cold air.  However, I let it run a while and it seems to have gotten the hang of its job finally.  It's awfully loud, though, so I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Side note: I always have trouble not writing my name when I write the word "heater".  This is because, the one time I went to summer camp, I misspelled my own name while decorating a hat.  Everyone made fun of me and called me "heater" for a week.  It was traumatic, and I vowed to never forget that second H in my name ever again, but an unforeseen side effect of this vow was that I would forever associate the word "heater" with my name.  End side note.

I have a love-hate relationship with winter.  In theory it's wonderful, snow makes everything look beautiful, you get to snuggle yourself into big sweaters and blankets, and there's several holidays devoted to eating heavy foods and getting presents.  On the other hand, snow inevitably gets dirty and makes everything look like it's been soaked in dingy bath water, sickness abounds, and you end up dealing with drama from relatives you don't even like.  You pay for all the pleasantries of winter, and sometimes I'm not sure if it's all worth it.

The biggest issue I have with winter is Christmas music, and I think just about anyone who has spent a holiday season working retail would be inclined to agree.  They start blasting those god-awful tunes right after Thanksgiving, and there's literally no reprieve until New Years, which can (and does) drive a lowly sales associate crazy.  Imagine folding dozens of identical cable-knit sweaters while endless onslaughts of chimes and sleigh bells taunt you with their merriment.  Picture being yelled at by a cantankerous customer for running out of gift boxes and, in in the brief pause provided as she catches her breath, you catch the all too sweetly harmonized end to "God Rest Ye merry Gentlemen".  Tidings of comfort and joy?  Really?

You will be driven to the edge of madness.  Your ability to believe in the goodness of humanity will plummet.  Your smile muscles will fracture, and you will develop a barely perceptible eye twitch.  You will begin to cast furtive glances towards the craft scissors by your register and contemplate various evils.

If I am exaggerating, it is only slightly.

Those days are far behind me now, but I was reminded of them today because the bell tower on campus was chiming out Christmas songs.  I had mixed feelings about it.  I'm sure some people thought it was cute, but I've been jaded, so for me Christmas music is more about endurance than enjoyment.

But fear not, there is still some hope for me, in the form of The Boy Least Likely To.  This group is new to me, and I love them very much.  They made a Christmas album this year, and I was skeptical of it, but they made a couple tracks available for free, and thus convinced me to make the purchase.  Here's a song from it, to close out this post:

This is "The First Snowflake".  It's simple, melancholic, and somewhat child-like, but by no means sing-songy or overbearing.  It's the perfect antidote to everything I dislike about Christmas music, really.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This is About Dreams

I've been having some intensely odd dreams lately.  Maybe it's because the end of the term is nigh, and there's so much work that needs to be done, but most likely won't be until next weekend because I'm terrible at sitting down and doing anything.  Whatever the issue, it's been a long time since I've had and remembered my dreams.

When I was little (years 6-12, let's say) I had detailed and horrific dreams about monsters, demons, and all sorts of unsavory characters bringing about my demise in any number of outlandish ways.  I was constantly terrified of going to sleep.  My poor parents never completely understood what was going on, they thought I was afraid of the dark or something, and tried their best to placate me with reassurances and nightlights.  More often than not, however, I would tear my whole bed apart in order to build a protective fort for myself, guarded by my impressive stuffed animal collection.  The problem is that I could not be completely conviced that the things I dreamed about weren't real.  I genuinely though that what I dreamed about could come and kill me in my sleep, like some Nightmare on Elm Street business, only I wasn't allowed to watch any scary movies because they fueled my crazy dream fire.

Around Jr. High, I want to say, I stopped having, or at least remembering, any of my dreams.  At the time I thought this was some kind of blessing, but now I realize that it was probably the onset of sleep apnea, meaning that I was no longer getting very much sleep at all and should have been taken to the doctor.  Oh well.  I enjoyed my dream-free years, though in reality I was extremely stressed out.  Seriously, imagine not getting any more than two to three hours of sleep a night (guesstimation based on later sleep tests) for years on end and guess how you'd cope emotionally.  But I didn't understand any of that at the time, I just thought I was a little screwed up, but at least my night times were safe and sound.  Oops.

I had a brief stint of dreams again in early college, oddly enough triggered by a conversation I had about dreams.  A friend of mine had a bad one, the sort that effect you for the whole day, and I was trying to relate but having difficulty because I hadn't gone through something like that in so long.  That very night I had a dream.  It wasn't scary, either.  It was very mundane, so much so that I wondered upon waking up if it had been a dream at all or just some stuff I'd done earlier the day before.  I had dreams about filing paperwork and calling my parents, about having conversations or walking to the library.  They were delightfully tame, but so realistic that I sometimes forgot to do things because I dreamed I'd already done them.

However, this was short-lived, and it wasn't long before I went back to nights of nothingness.  It was only very recently that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and that breathing machine you're supposed to use is just plain awful, so I tend to avoid it unless I'm seriously not getting enough sleep to function.  The past two weeks or so, though, I've started having dreams, so I figured, yay!  I'm sleeping again, long enough and well enough to produce dreams!  Again, I don't know why this has started up so suddenly.  I'm also not sure if it's all that good or not, now that it's been going on a while.

See, it appears that I've come full circle, back to the haunting dreams I had as a kid.  The most recent ones include having a miscarriage, attempting to escape from some man who wanted to kill me and preserve my body as a doll and, perhaps most disturbing, cleaning out a refrigerator with Bob Saget (it was a nasty ass fridge, too, and it was the real Bob Saget, not the cutesy nice one from Full House).  I have no idea what to make of this stuff.  The days of fort-making are far behind me, and this is the first time I've really dealt with bad dreams as an adult, so I'm not sure what to do.  I'm not sure if I want them to go away, either, since that will most likely mean that I'm not getting enough sleep and I'll have to rev up that wretched CPAP.

Again, I don't have any real way to end this, so I'm closing out with some music.  This song, "Trouble With Dreams" by Eels, is of course somewhat related to the topic at hand, but also has a sort of creepy, lulling sound to it that I just love.