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September 25, 2014 / bekbekbekah

She Who Falls A Lot

One of the statements you’ll hear a lot of people say about the advantages of being short is that short people’s center of gravity is lower to the earth, so they have better balance than the average bear. I’m not here to try to discredit that statement, but I am here to say that it doesn’t hold true for me in particular. Here is a very tiny sampling of the many ways Bekah Brown stuggles with balance and being normal.

One of my friends at church made a comment about her kids always falling out of their seats in class and wondering if it was intentional or if they were just that uncoordinated. I answered her musings with an example from my middle school years. I’m quite fine with having reached my full height of 5’0″ in the 8th grade, but the problems associated with being so short are that if I sit in a normal sized chair – and sit in it properly – my feet are going to dangle. If I try really hard I can get my toes to touch the ground, but that puts a lot of stress on my body and I don’t like it. When I was in middle school, my English class had assigned seating, and for whatever reason, the seat I was assigned to was the devil incarnate. I went to a private Christian school my whole life, and at that time there weren’t really any funds for purchasing new desks or desks that were made for left-handed kids. Most desks have a textured plastic chair and a metal rack underneath where you can put your books, but the desk I was given had a really smooth glossy finish, and the metal rack underneath had been removed. The seat was also tilted down on the left side (ie, the open side). That may sound like a minor annoyance to you guys, but let’s just look at all the problems here: I’m a short person and can’t touch the ground properly, there’s also no metal rack for me to hook my feet on in lieue of touching the ground. I’m left handed so I have to turn my body more toward the bar on the right of the desk for me to have enough space for my books and to write comfortably, but the seat is tilted down on the side I have to lean toward. Texturing on the chair usually provides some sort of friction or traction for the person sitting in the chair, but this chair was like polished ice and created a near-frictionless environment for the person sitting in the chair. So many times I would be focusing on my work or really lost in whatever we had been assigned to read that day, and before I knew it I would be airborn or on my butt on the floor trying to figure out what happened. I tried getting to class early and switching desks around so that I wouldn’t fall out so often, but every time I moved the desk someone else would move it back by the next day because NO ONE LIKED THAT DESK. My classmates just got used to it happening and by the end of the first semester me falling on the ground was just business as usual and the class could go on without any interruption due to my sudden relocation.

A couple summers after I graduated from college Krista and I were working at the same company, and my family was going through some pretty rough circumstances, so I ended up semi-living with Krista and her brother in their townhouse. I went for a run one night so I geared up, grabbed my phone with my right hand, took Krista’s keychain pepperspray with my left hand, and set off. I was running down Wilcrest with the intention of turning around at Memorial and going back to the house. Things were going great, I was feeling good about life, and I was managing to keep my pace steady despite having not run consistently for two years at that point. As I neared Memorial I started to lose my momentum, but I forced myself to keep going because that’s the only proper way to get back into the routine of things. The sidewalks  are kind of weird in that neighborhood, and at some point the sidewalk on the left side of the street (the side I was running on) just ends and you have to either cross the street or run through the sides of people’s yards. I chose the yards because it is only like that for 5 or 6 blocks, and Memorial was only 3 blocks ahead of me. I was managing the height differences between the yards and the streets pretty well until the very last curb before Memorial. The yard was the same height as the others, but there were tree roots sitting on top of the dirt that I didn’t see right away. I made it up onto the curb successfully, but I didn’t lift my right foot up quite high enough to clear the roots and as I began to fall my options were very clearly laid out for me: 1) catch yourself with your right hand; smash your iPhone; 2) catch yourself with your left hand; potentially pepper spray yourself; 3) just bite it. I chose option 3 and just straight up BIT IT on the tree roots. I paused for a second to make sure nothing was badly injured and stood up to dust myself off and finish the last part of the block. I was chuckling to myself that I was glad it was night time and probably no one had seen me, but then I looked up and saw that I had fallen directly underneath a street light, and that the light at Memorial was red so there was a huge line of cars on Wilcrest that had a perfect view of my fall. I wasn’t too embarrassed by that though, until I looked down and saw that the shirt I had worn was my bright green shirt that has, “I LOVE TURTLES” hand-painted on the front of it. So not only had the people at the light witnessed someone falling, but they witnessed a person wearing a bright green I LOVE TURTLES shirt totally bite it while being spotlighted in a very public place. All I could do at that point was laugh really hard and carry on with my run.

A couple summers after the I LOVE TURTLES ordeal, I found myself feeling congratulatory because I hadn’t done anything incredibly embarrassing in a public setting in a while. And apart from not doing anything embarrassing in public, I hadn’t done anything all that weird by myself either. I was cleaning my dad’s church one weekend and decided I wanted to get a burrito from Chipotle,  so I finished up my work and headed to the nearest location. The nearest location happens to be on Fry Road and I-10 and it’s in a little building with 3 full-glass front stores all together. Because of my shortness and the fact that I drive a full-size truck and my baseboards hit me right above my knees, my Pops made some step bars and installed them on my truck for me to help with getting in and out of my truck. Even with the step bars though, when I have the option I like to park next to a curb because it just makes life so much easier for me. I was presented with such an option when I got to Chipotle, and took it. I parked, ordered my burrito and ate it, topped off my drink, and went back to my truck.  When I was walking back to my truck I stepped up with my right foot onto the curb, but I wasn’t paying attention very well to my foot placement because however I placed my right foot, it wasn’t able to carry my weight properly once I stepped with my left foot and before I knew it I was doing a crazy spin-fall onto the grassy portion of the curb. I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing during the fall, but when the fall was complete, I saw that I had ended up on my back, my left hand holding my Chipotle cup in the air and completely unspilled in victorious defiance of gravity, and that all the occupants of the Jimmy John’s I parked by were now on alert and ready to spring through the door to my aid. I sat up and waved to let them know I was ok, and then three random people from the parking lot all approached me very cautiously to ask me if I was ok and if I needed help. I stood up and assured them I was ok, performed to proper footwork for stepping onto the curb, got into my truck and drove off.

Last year I was in a program at my office called Young Guns, and for the first time ever the president of our company suggested that he have a grilling party at his house so he could meet with us. Our group was a really big group though, so in order to receive an invitation to it you had to have attended a certain percentage of the YG information sessions. I managed to receive an invitation, as did 40 or so other fellow Young Guns, and my heart was crazy happy. First off, I love Steve Knowles. I love him. He’s so great, and he’s willing to do just about anything if it means people will laugh, and he doesn’t come off as high minded or snobbish, even though he has the title and the means to act that way. Secondly, I loved my time with Young Guns, and I was always meeting new people in the company and making friends. I was one of the first people to arrive at the party, so I was helping out however I could with the setup of everything. When I was done helping a lot more people had arrived so I started making my rounds and chatting people up. I played corn hole, I played the ladder toss game, I ate some fajitas, I sat down and listened to Steve’s wife Vicky tell us the story of how she met Steve, etc. I noticed a table of a bunch of guys that were all being very exclusive and preoccuppied with their own conversation so I decided to crash it. I grabbed a spare chair and set it by the table which was close to a small bed of rocks in front of the Knowles’s large breakfast area window. I very smoothly interjected myself into their conversation by saying something like, “Hey guys, I’m here to crash this conversation,” or something like that and I introduced myself to them and asked them their names, etc. They asked me what my position was with Mustang and when I told them I was a videographer; they thought it was cool and asked me what kind of videos I produced. Steve was standing pretty close to the table and I said, “Oh you know.. the normal stuff.. Training sessions.. safety reminders.. Def Leppard parodies for our anniversary parties..” which made Steve smile because he played Joe Elliot in the spoof, and he joined the conversation at that point. Then someone mentioned how hard it was to get things posted on our company’s splash page because you have to go through so many different people to make sure everyone’s approved it. That is the same process that I have to go through too, and I wanted to let them know they weren’t alone in their frustrations. I said, “I know man! There are a lot of steps. It took me almost two weeks to get a link set up for people to access the Hurricane Safety page I created for the department, and I’m HSE!” and on the part of “I’m HSE!” I threw my hands in the air like, “What’re you gonna do?” but that action shifted the weight of my chair, which I hadn’t realized was half on the bed of rocks and half on the pavement. I startled myself because of the shift so I dropped my arms really quickly and the guys at the table laughed because of the sudden change in my countenance and Steve got a chuckle from it too. We thought everything was over, but then both of the chair’s back legs started sinking into the soft ground under the rocks which threw me backwards quite suddenly. I screamed out, “Why is this happening?!” and lunged forward at Steve who had put his hand out to keep my from falling through the breakfast area window, and the entire table lost it at that point. The commotion we caused caught everyone’s attention so we had to tell the story over again for the people who’d missed it, and suddenly my name went from Bekah Brown to HSE, and whenever I see that group of guys in one of Mustang’s buildings we look at each other, throw our hands in the air, and yell, “I’m HSE!”

May 12, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Can a Girl Just Cry in Peace?

Have any of y’all seen the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Deborah wants Ray and the kids out of the house but doesn’t really tell him why, so he snoops on her and sees her crying in the living room? And then he confronts her about it and all she can say in response is that sometimes you just need to cry, and she wanted to cry in peace?


(start around 13:53)

Well, that’s a thing. Or at least it is for me.

The past several weeks have been stressful for me, and what makes it awful is that I can’t put a finger on why it’s stressful. I mean, there are certain things – that I won’t discuss here because it’s just a bunch of little petty things that keep popping up that combined make me want to go crazy.

Last weekend was a weird mix of exciting and enjoyable (I got to see a friend play a show in Houston, I visited the ever lovely Valerie in College Station, and I go to see the Aggie baseball team win the series over LSU), and truly depressing (the aforementioned petty annoyances that keep popping up). With the weird mix going on, I had no idea what to do with my emotions, and the added stressor of being in the sunshine for the entire baseball game and being sunburned and maybe a little dehydrated, left me in an extra weird mood. When I got home around 10:30 that night Lisa and I started talking about our living situation once our lease at the Beige Castle is up, and she started talking to me about the possibility of not being roommates (not for bad reasons, just work and saving money reasons), which threw me overboard in the emotions department. I started crying, which is the worst thing, because I feel like it makes other people feel manipulated or just leaves them feeling super awkward, so I decided I needed to find some place that wasn’t the Beige Castle so I could go cry about everything in private.

Sidenote: I feel like people are too harsh on us people that cry. Yes, I know crying doesn’t do anything to fix the situation. Yes, I know crying doesn’t make something that’s physically hurting less painful. I get it. But my thoughts on the matter are these: you deal your way; I deal mine. I usually let myself cry everything out so that once I’ve got the emotion out of the way I can deal with things logically. If I deny myself the opportunity to feel something, the feelings start creeping into the decisions, and that’s when I start making bad decisions. If I let all the sadness or whatever out first, then I can look at things clearly and make the most logical choice. Basically.. don’t judge me for crying!

So I got in my truck and drove down the street to a park where I knew there was a quiet parking lot where I could cry and not disturb anyone. What I didn’t think about was that this park has a 9:30 curfew, even in the parking lot, and Bellaire police patrol the area like it’s going out of style. I parked my truck, let myself cry and be sad and all that good stuff. When the crying slowed down I picked up my phone and looked at some BuzzFeed posts while I finished up my crying. When I finally felt like I could go back to the house and be logical about things, I took a deep breath, wiped my face, put my hand on the key in the ignition, and saw a Bellaire police officer turn onto the street and slowwwwwwwwwwwwly pull into the parking lot parallel to mine and park. I removed my hand immediately because my clear-and-ready-for-logical-processes-mindset identified the only two options I had at the moment. 1) Turn my truck on, leave the parking lot as planned, and get pulled over by the cop down the road because he deemed my actions incredibly suspicious, or 2) Wait for the cop to approach me and ask me what I was doing because he deemed my actions incredibly suspicious.

I chose the latter of the two because I had nothing to hide, but I didn’t want to pull over in front of someone’s house and then have a bunch of people freaking out and calling people because someone was pulled over and they needed to know if “the suspect” was just speeding or if they were some sort of criminal threat.

Now you need to know, I’m always super wary of my own actions because I know that police officers can sometimes unexpectedly approach a very dangerous person, so then all of my actions are filtered through a will-this-make-them-think-I-need-to-be-tased filter, which I think shows on my face (I don’t have a poker face, folks), which then makes me look suspicious, which makes me want to behave more normally, and the cycle just feeds itself. I sat back and busied myself with my phone while playing out the inevitable in my head. First off, I thought about what I looked and sounded like.

I spent Saturday screaming at the Astros vs. Mariners game (we lost), I then went to my friend’s house and had to yell to be heard because everyone was talking and having fun, and then I screamed the entire game against LSU on Sunday (we won), so my voice was completely shot. I was sunburned from sitting in the sun and not being smart and putting sunscreen on. I hate driving with the windows up, so I had put my hair into a hap-hazard bun and driven the 1.5 hours back to my house doing nothing shy of 75mph so the baby hairs were sticking up every which way. I had just spent a good 20 minutes crying so my eyes were puffy, my cheeks were flushed on top of being burned, and I’m sure my eyes were a little bloodshot too. Because of the crying, I had let all my emotions out, and my face tends to look pretty blank in those times, and I was exhausted from the busy weekend, all the driving, the emotions, and the crying. I was wearing a tank top that I had slept in the night before, some loose cotton shorts, and my ridiculously bright blue and pink tennis shoes. Also, my skin is very sensitive to heat, and I often time break out with a heat rash on the inside of my elbows and knees, and I had been scratching at both basically all day, which only makes the itching worse. In short, I looked and sounded awful.

Once I took stock of my appearance I moved on to the questions I knew the cop was going to ask me:
Cop: Ma’am, may I ask what you’re doing here right now?
Me: Oh you know, I just needed a quiet place to cry. I’m frustrated about a lot of things, and my roommate and I just talked about not being roommates anymore, and I needed a quiet place to cry. You know, normal things.
Cop: [thinking.. This girl is crazy.] May I see your license?
Me: Yep. [Oh crap.. I haven’t updated my license since Lisa and I moved… in August… with the address clearly not in Bellaire…]
Cop: Why is this address incorrect?
Me: Uhhh.. Because I’m lazy and haven’t changed it.
Cop: Is there anything else going on right now? Why is your voice so hoarse? Why are you squinting so much at my mini-maglight that’s brighter than the surface of the sun? Why do you keep scratching your arm by your elbow?
Me: Uhhhhhh…
Cop: I’m going to need you to step out of the vehicle.
Me: [gets out]
Cop: [looks at outfit] Why are you even in public right now? I think I need to take you in.
Me: [Gets arrested… Well, at least I’ll have a good story from this…]

About that time I snapped out of the imaginary conversation and looked over but didn’t see his Charger. I looked in my side mirror right as he rounded the entrance to my parking lot with his floodlights on full blast. I rolled my window down and waited for him to park and approach. The following is as good of a transcript of our conversation as I can recall.

Cop: Is everything ok over here? What’s going on?
Me: [so. incredibly. hoarse.] Everything is good.
Cop: What are you doing here? [shines light into my eyes]
Me: [squinting hard] Oh my God that’s so bright. Good God. Sorry about my voice; I was at a baseball game earlier today.
Cop: But what are you doing in this parking lot?
Me: I live just down the street on Basswood.
Cop: But what are you doing here right now?
Me: Oh. [Wanting to give an answer that would give me an actual reason to not be crying in my own room, but not having the time to think about something, my best statement was:] My roommate and I got into a fight. [A fight? Really? That’s stupid, Bekah.]
Cop: Like a physical altercation?
Me: [stifling laughter at the idea of me and Lisa getting into a physical fight] What? God no. Just words. A word fight.
Cop: Did you feel threatened?
Me: What? Definitely not. I just wanted to remove myself and cry somewhere so I could have a clear head and apologize. [congratulates self on steering myself back to the truth.. kind of]
Cop: Can I see your license?
Me: [Hands him outdated license… Crap. I don’t want a ticket for this.]
Cop: How long did you say you lived here?
Me: Less than a year.
Cop: [returns license] Why’d you pick here?
Me: It was close by and I didn’t think I’d be disturbing anybody.
Cop: Do you not know there’s a curfew here?
Me: I thought about that, but I didn’t see any signs.
Cop: There’s one right there. [Points sunbeam at sign directly in front of my truck with the curfew clearly outlined in red]
Me: Well, so much for being observant. I promise I didn’t see that. It’s the only reason I parked here.
Cop: And you parked here just to cry?
Me: Yes, sir.
Cop: [sigh] How long were you planning on being here?
Me: I literally had my hand on my key when you turned onto Evergreen and I decided just to stay because I didn’t want you to think I was up to something shady.
Cop: Are you up to anything shady?
Me: No. I just said I was here because I needed to cry.
Cop: So you aren’t going to be here much longer? I don’t need to send another unit in 15 minutes?
Me: No. I’m tired and just want to sleep now. I honestly only stayed because I knew it would be interpreted as me being suspicious, and I figured it’d be easier to answer your questions in the parking lot than down the road.
Cop: Well, that’s actually a good thought. So you’re getting ready to leave?
Me: As soon as you clear me to leave I’m driving right back to my house.
Cop: Ok. Well, I’m just waiting to hear back from dispatch if you have any tickets or warrants. You don’t have any tickets or warrants right now, do you?
Me: [Laughing a little too heartily] HAHAHAHA!!! Oh my God.. None to my knowledge.
Cop: [Raises eyebrow]
Me: [Clears throat] No. I don’t.
Cop: [Shines light back into my eyes]
Me: Oh my God! Seriously that’s way too bright.
Cop: Alright, they aren’t showing anything on your record. You’re free to go.
Me: Thanks. Have a good night.

I turned my engine on, laughed at the sight of a second police cruiser that had apparently been called in for backup that I hadn’t noticed earlier, and drove home.

April 17, 2014 / bekbekbekah

You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

It is impossible to live in this world without discovering that you have weird pet peeves that don’t necessarily make sense to anyone other than you. Everybody has them; the secret is to learn how to deal with life in spite of them. Do I like it when my coworker clips his nails at his desk? No. Do I flip my lid every time he does it? No. Because in the grand scheme of things, he’s not hurting me and he’s not doing anything illegal.

But then there are those things that can’t quite be labeled as pet peeves because they pop up unexpectedly and your reaction is almost instantaneous. Do you know the kinds of things I’m talking about? I don’t quite have a name for them right now, but they’re these fundamental behaviors that spawn very volatile reactions because YOU HATE THAT ACTION AND ANYONE WHO DOES THIS TO YOU OR AROUND YOU IS GOING TO PAY THE CONSEQUENCES.

I generally like to think of only happy things, so most of my posts are about happy things or situations that left me in pain from laughing so hard. This post is not one of those posts. This post has taken me a long time to write (I’m talking weeks here) because of how many breaks I have to force myself to take because of how angry I became while typing them out. Just writing the intro right now (sometimes I write the stories before I write the intros.. it’s my process, ok?), I’m getting really worked up about these scenarios.

So without further ado: a small sampling of things never to do to Bekah Brown unless you want to secure your spot on the “I Loathe Them and Wish Them Ill Will” list that I don’t actually have.

DON’T MIX THE MASHED POTATOES
Now, potatoes and I have a very long history together. The short version of it is that I. LOVE. POTATOES. A few years ago though my mom and I discovered a link between me handling raw potatoes and my hands breaking out in itchy hives and flaring up my eczema: I’m allergic to something in the skin of the potatoes. If it’s a small batch of potatoes then it’s usually not a problem because my skin isn’t exposed for that long, but when it comes to making large portions to share at a potluck or something like that, it’s a guarantee that I’ll be suffering for a couple hours afterwards.

And while I really, really hate the uncontrollable itchy feeling that creates a vicious cycle of scratching the itch, which creates miniscule abrasions, which lets in more allergens, which makes it itch more, which makes me scratch more, I will still gladly make large batches of potatoes to share with the people I love. So just know now: if ever you come to a potluck-style meal and I’ve brought potatoes, I consider it a labor of love and I was HAPPY to make them for everyone. Such was the case of me making potatoes for my small group’s potluck Thanksgiving get together. I was first to call dibs on making potatoes, but another girl posted after me saying she too would bring mashed potatoes “so that there would be enough.” (Don’t worry – she’s not the person I flipped out on.) I was going to respond with a message letting her know when I make potatoes for a group I make mass amounts of them, but then I thought that in my family no one else but ME is allowed to make mashed potatoes because I don’t like the way anyone else makes mashed potatoes. I thought maybe she too had a recipe that she really liked or was excited to share, so I didn’t say anything. When we showed up that night, there was a very clear difference in our potatoes: she used Old World red potatoes with butter, a hint of sour cream, and she only gently mashed them, leaving large chunks of potato behind. I use Idaho russet potatoes, a small amount of butter, and then blend them with a big serving of sour cream because it makes them super thick and creamy and leaves perfectly-sized tiny chunks of potato. We set all the food out on the table and everyone began filling their plates. One guy – we’ll call him David, because that’s his name – grabbed the spoon from the other girl’s mashed potatoes and put some on his plate. Someone else had the spoon from my mashed potatoes, which David also wanted a serving of, and rather than wait for the other person to be finished, he used the same spoon from the other potatoes and dipped it into mine.

I’ve never had that happen to me before – like I said, no one else is allowed to even THINK about bringing mashed potatoes to our family dinners – and before I could stop myself I was yelling, “DAVID WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!” The group was a little stunned at the outburst, and he just looked at me and said, “What? It’s all going to go to the same place once it goes down,” which only made me angrier because YOU DON’T CROSS-CONTAMINATE THE MASHED POTATOES. I generally try not to make myself look too absurd in front of my friends, but there was little to be done at this point because I had already opened my mouth to describe in detail why it was such a terrible idea and to let hi, know that he was a bad person and that he should feel bad. I think everyone tried to kind of laugh it off or be like, “Hahaha! Bekah’s so weird!” but it’s still brought up from time to time, and every time it ends with me saying, “But seriously – don’t mess with the potatoes.”

DON’T TELL ME TO SMILE
Let me repeat that: DO. NOT. TELL. ME. TO. SMILE.

During my first semester at ORU I had a job at a restaurant called On The Border, and I really enjoyed it. One night while I was driving back to campus I realized I hadn’t eaten at all that day since breakfast. To set the scene, I was exhausted from my day’s classes, went to work for a closing shift and didn’t get cut until almost the very end, I was super hungry, I was feeling feverish, and I had a lot of homework to do. Basically, I wasn’t feeling all the great, and I didn’t really care what I looked like. I pulled into a McDonald’s that was on the way back and got a kids meal. When I ordered, I recognized the guy’s voice and immediately regretted my decision to stop at THIS McDonald’s because I got really weird vibes from him the first time I met him.

Anyway – back on track. I recognized his voice and tried my best to look blank as I pulled up to the window to pay because I didn’t want to invite any unnecessary interactions with him. I handed him my debit card without smiling, and when he handed it back he didn’t let it go right away. I was forced to make eye contact with him again to see what was up and he says, “Aww, c’mon and smile, beautiful,” but the way he said it was super gross and kind of greasy (thus his name becoming The Greasy Guy at McDonald’s), and I immediately fired back, “Does that work for you? Seriously. I want to know.” He looked stunned and started stumbling over his words saying something along the lines of he didn’t mean anything by it, that’s just how his mom raised him, and that he was trying to make my night a little better. Now, how in God’s name he thought telling me to smile was going to make my night any better, I have no idea. I just responded with something like, “I highly doubt your mom taught you to that expecting a woman to smile on command was a good idea. Next time just tell me you hope I have a better night or something.. Don’t tell me to do something that you want me to do. That doesn’t make anyone feel better,” and drove off.

DON’T INSULT MY KNOWLEDGE ABOUT VEHICLES
During one of my breaks from ORU I took my truck to get it inspected, and the guy at Southwestern Muffler pulled me aside almost immediately and told me I needed to get my back passenger wheel replaced because it was going bald. He then added that he didn’t blame me for having a bald power tire because, “If you have as nice a truck as this, you gotta gun it and let that engine open up as much as you can.” I was 1) flattered by his comment (remember what I said about complimenting my truck???) and 2) grateful that he let me know about what I needed to fix without charging me for the inspection right off the bat.

I took my truck to a tire shop down the road, and when I walked in I saw the new youth pastor at my dad’s church talking to one of the sales people at the counter. I discussed my options for a new tire with a different sales guy and then sat down and grabbed a Car and Driver magazine that had an article featuring the new 2009 Corvette Z06 (Corvettes are a special love of mine) and started reading.

The youth pastor – who I’ll call Michael, because that’s NOT his name – sat down next to me and we exchanged greetings. He and his family had started coming to church a month or so before I had left for Oklahoma, so I didn’t really know him, and I didn’t really care to talk to him at the moment. It’s not because I was shy or didn’t know what to say, but because in situations where it’s possible that people will hear that “Pastor’s daughter and Michael – you know, the new SINGLE youth pastor – ran into each other at the tire shop – it’s really a shame she went off to school so quickly after he started coming to the church – and you didn’t hear this from me.. but they carried on an ENTIRE. CONVERSATION. AHH!! Wedding bells, anyone?!?!?!?!?!?!” I tend to just really be uninterested in talking to someone. That and I was actually really interested in the article – 505 horsepower?! 7.0L V-8 engine?! Titanium connecting rods?! – and didn’t want to start a conversation that was going to be mostly about nothing important or interesting. He didn’t seem to mind at all because he was texting someone on his phone, but when that conversation fizzled out he leaned to my side, nudged me to get my attention, then motioned his head toward the article and said, “Why are you reading that? What do you know about cars? You don’t know what they’re saying.” And I’m not joking about that, those were his words. His tone was a mix of trying-to-be-playful and ridiculously condescending, and it made me want to vomit. I just looked at him and told him, “Yeah, well, you actually don’t know what I do or don’t understand. And I do know what they’re saying. Because I read articles and I’m genuinely interested in the subject matter. And if I don’t know what they’re saying, I read more articles about it so that I can LEARN what they’re saying.”

He apparently didn’t expect that response, which I didn’t care about because he was seriously interrupting my reading session, and he went back to texting. Then he asked me why I was at the tire store and I told him my reason, and he responds with, “Well, I’m going to pay for the tire,” which is exactly the wrong thing to say to Bekah Brown. Unless you’re wanting to incite a deep-burning rage that 5 years after the fact it still makes me flush with anger, in which case it’s the perfect thing to say. And I get that deep down the gesture might have come from a nice place, but TELLING me that you’re going to purchase an item for MY vehicle without even thinking about ASKING me about it is something I consider to be highly disrespectful. I looked him dead in the eye and told him, “Yeah. That’s not going to happen. I got this,” and he smiled, apparently thinking I was playing a game and said, “No really. Let me take care of it for you. You know tires are expensive, right?” What I WANTED to say in reply was, “What?? Tires cost money?! No one told me that! Do you think I’m completely oblivious to things in this world? I picked my truck, I pay for my truck, and I keep my truck maintained better than most men in this world have sense to do. And excuse you, but I have a dad and a Pops who are MORE than capable of taking care of things I need help taking care of; the reason they’re not here is because I don’t need help taking care of this. This is MY vehicle that I worked 3 jobs in high school to pay for, MY responsibility to keep it in working order and making sure I keep up with the maintenance schedule, and MY choice to purchase those ‘horribly expensive’ 275/70/17 A/T tires in the first place. You think you dropping 170$ on a tire for me is going to impress me? It’s not. Quit insulting me,” but with a lot of extra crazy hand motions and expletives thrown in, possibly ending in me spitting on the ground by his feet and walking away. But what I ended up doing was calmly folding the magazine, putting it on the table, saying, “I think you didn’t hear me; I said that’s NOT going to happen.” Then I walked up to the sales counter and said to the guy who was helping me, “I’m going to walk around outside for a bit because I’m about to start screaming. I swear to God, if that guy comes up to the counter and says he’s going to pay for my tire and you let him, I’m going to literally explode with anger.” I guess he took me seriously because he said, “Do you just want to pay for it right now so that we don’t mess that up for you?” And I responded with, “You know, you’re my kind of guy. I’d love to do that,” and as I handed him my card I looked directly at Michael and said, “Seriously. I’ve got this.”

March 31, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Stranger Danger

I have a lot of weird interactions with would-be suitors. I have no explanation for why I seem to attract the guys that I do, I just know that if I have an interaction with a random man in my day-to-day activities, it’s probably going to end up really weird. There are very few exceptions to the rule. One notable exception was when I started talking to a guy while we were both shopping for chicken at the grocery store. I told him I was making chicken curry for a potluck at work, and we ended up getting our groceries together because we were shopping for the same things. I gained a lot of information from him about making curry – he was from the Caribbean which means he knew his ish about curry – and I received many compliments on it the next day from my coworkers too. That is what I consider a perfectly normal human interaction; the following stories are examples of incredibly weird human interactions.

One time in high school or my first year of college I stopped at a gas station near my dad’s house before setting out on a road trip. My normal routine is to top off my tank, grab a Dr. Pepper, a liter of water, and a Snicker’s bar. I have no idea why, but I can’t handle a road trip if I don’t do that first. I stepped up to the counter to have the cashier ring everything up and when I made eye contact to smile at him, he stopped reaching for the items on the counter and just stared into my eyes for a few seconds. I was trying to figure out what was happening when he said, “What’s your name? Angel Eyes?” I didn’t hear him at first so I gave him a look of confusion and asked him what he said. He repeated the question and when I realized he was complimenting my eyes I just said, “No. My name is Bekah,” and pushed my items forward to encourage him to finish ringing them up so I could pay. He started ringing the items and continued saying, “Oh, it’s just that your eyes are so pretty your name should be Angel Eyes,” to which I responded, “Well it’s not. It’s Bekah,” and then paid for my items and left. That was anywhere between 6-8 years ago, and I have never once set foot back in that Shell station.

I have lived in Houston my whole life, have driven a big truck since 2004, adore the rodeo, and enjoy listening to country music, but I didn’t own a pair of boots until Christmas 2010. Part of the reason it took me that long to own a pair is because as a grown woman who stands a whopping 5’0″ tall, I have the shoe size of a small child and the calves of a grown woman. Those two factors don’t pair well together when trying to find boots that fit correctly, especially when trying to avoid boots with John Deere tractors or crazy colors on them. I finally found a perfect pair and my mom got them for me for Christmas. Because I’d never owned a pair of boots before, the process for getting the boots to stretch and form to my foot was much more painful than I had imagined. One afternoon mere weeks after owning the boots I was driving down Highway 6 in Houston and couldn’t stand to have the boots on any more. I waited to hit a red light so I could take them off, and when I finally stopped it was right next to a guy in an old white Eagle Talon. I put my truck in park and shimmied my boots off my feet. I grabbed one boot from my floorboard and put it on my seat, then grabbed the other and as I lifted it up and passed it to my right, I caught a very pleasant smell. I was surprised because I figured my boots would smell like leather or my foot or something like that, but the smell I smelled had a very nice scent and I wanted to investigate. Not thinking about my visibility to other vehicles I stuck my face into the top of my boot and breathed deeply. What I discovered was that my boot did in fact smell like my foot, and that the smell I had smelled was actually from the perfume that I had sprayed on my wrist that morning. Glad that I had figured out the source of the scent, I put my boot to the side and then thought, “Oh crap! If someone saw that they’re going to think I just go around sniffing my boots all the time!!” When I looked to my left at the guy in the Talon he looked me straight in the eyes, wagged his eyebrows at me, made a suggestive face, and sped off. My only thought was that he had just witnessed me inhaling deeply of my own boot, but that wasn’t enough to deter him from doing something also weird.

When I moved back home in December 2009 the job market in general was awful, and the job market for newly graduated production majors was even worse. I took a job at a company that performed sleep studies for patients and offered treatments for sleep apnea and the like. It was data entry, it was ungodly boring, and the money I spent in gas traveling inbound for work every day was ridiculous. In spite of these things, it was still an ok job because it WAS a job and I got to work with Krista every day. I got into the habit of eating at the Chipotle that was really close to our office; I was there at least once a week and more often than not more than that. At a certain point you begin to notice the same people working at the same place at the same time, and as a server you will also begin to notice people who come in regularly. I have no problem with that. I take my truck to the same place to get inspections and oil changes because all the workers there know me; I LIKE it when people recognize me. But there was a worker there who made me hate how much I loved Chipotle. One day I went in and got the usual and when I stepped up to the cashier (whom I recognized from the previous thousand or so visits), he says, “You come in here a lot, don’t you?” And I said, “Yeah.. It’s kind of hard to eat anywhere else when I like Chipotle so much.” Then he said, “I recognized you by your eyes. I’ll never forget them,” and then stared a little too expectantly into them. My mind was spinning trying to figure out how to make this normal, but all I could muster was, “So I’ve been told,” and I grabbed my change and bolted out of the door. I went back to work and told Krista about the interaction and we laughed. Unfortunately, my Chipotle addiction was stronger than my desire to stay away from that guy and I went back the next week (and basically pretty much every week after). The guy was again working the cash register and when I stepped up to pay he asked me, “Have you ever seen the movie Enchanted? You look exactly like the girl that plays the princess.”

For reference, he was talking about Amy Adams.

For reference, he was talking about Amy Adams.

While I found it flattering that he’d associate me with Amy Adams (um, hello, she’s GORGEOUS!), I definitely don’t see the resemblance. I think I just awkwardly left his question unanswered and again bolted, went back to work, and retold my tale to Krista. When I got to the part where he asked me if I’d seen Enchanted she said, “Well, he’s just admitted that HE has..” (seriously, guys, Krista is ridiculously funny) and we had a good laugh about it. The next several interactions with him were pretty normal (maybe he was picking up on my discomfort), and I became more comfortable with interacting with him. One week a water pipe burst in our office building, and the bulk of the flooding from it occurred in the room where Krista and I worked, so we were told to work from home for the week while it was being fixed. I guess the week away from that part of town broke my Chipotle habit a little because I didn’t go for several weeks once we returned to the office. When I finally did make my way back to the restaurant he was on his break and walked up to me and we talked for a bit. When I told him what had happened at the office he said, “Oh my gosh! I was beginning to wonder what happened to you! You’re in here every Thursday and then I didn’t see you for like a month! I’m glad you’re ok.” I laughed uncomfortably and said something clever like, “Yep,” paid, and bolted. After that encounter the company moved to a different building near the Beltway and 249, and then we were given permission to work from home, and then I was offered a job here at Mustang. Around the time of the job offer I stayed at Krista’s house (which is in the same area as the original office building) for a bit, probably to dog sit or something while she was on vacation, and grabbed dinner from that same Chipotle. I figured I’d be ok since I was going at dinner time and all the previous times I’d seen that guy were at lunch, but as I walked through the doors there he was, working the cash register. He spotted me almost immediately and chatted me up at the register while I caught him up on the history of why I hadn’t been to that Chipotle in nearly 8 months, and I don’t think I’ve been back since.

One time while I was driving home from work I got caught in traffic on Clay Road, and all we were managing was a slow inch-by-inch crawl (which is perfectly normal, actually, for Houston). The traffic lightened up a little in my lane so I was able to move several car lengths at once. I looked to my right and spotted a beautiful Dodge and thought I recognized the driver as my friend’s brother Neil. I couldn’t quite tell though because the light was fading pretty quick and the guy’s windows were tinted, but the truck looked like Neil’s so I kept looking trying to figure it out. We ended up stopped under a street light and I looked over again and immediately saw that the guy was NOT Neil and as we made eye contact I could tell that he’d seen me staring at him for the previous 10 minutes while crawling down Clay. He looked amused, but I was just embarrassed because I didn’t want to be the girl that was gawking at some guy, and tried giving him a face that said, “Whoops! I thought you were my childhood friend’s brother that I consider my own brother, but clearly in this light you are not him and I’m sorry that I was staring at you for so long, but I really love Neil and haven’t seen him in a while because he’s in college right now and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to say hi to him,” but I don’t think it worked out very well. I was a couple lights away from my my next turn, but I like to be in the correct lane long before it’s needed so I don’t have to bully my way over when I do need to make the turn. I had to go right, so I got into his lane behind him, and he quickly switched to the lane on my left. I had my window rolled down because that’s my preferred way to drive – windows down, music blaring – but I didn’t think anything of it. Then I noticed that the guy started pacing me, even though he had a lot of extra space in front of him. I told myself that he was just keeping a safe distance from the car in front of him, but when we stopped at the light he left a HUGE gap between himsef and the car in front of him, and then I heard someone say, “Hey, how’s it going?” Because of my social inclinations, I tend to talk to people even if I think a situation might be weird (unsafe, no.. that would be stupid.. but weird, yes) so I turned down my music and asked, “Are you talking to me?” and he goes, “Yeah I’m talking to you! How’s it going?” The light at this particular intersection is notoriously long, so we ended up having a longer conversation than I’d intended, roughly transcribed below (my commentary is in Itallics).

Me: Oh, it’s good. Just enjoying this cool weather before it gets any colder.
Him: I hear ya. I hear ya. Hey, that’s a nice truck you have there. (Note to all men: if you want to chat me up, first compliment my truck. I’ll open right up.)
Me: What? Thank you! It’s my pride and joy.
Him: What year is it? ’04?
Me: Yep. Good eye.
Him: What size engine do you have? Did you spring for the Hemi? (Seriously, guys, ask me about my truck – it’s that easy.)
Me: Nah, it’s just the 3.7 V6.
Him: Well, it sounds really nice. Do you have after market exhaust? Tell me it’s a Flowmaster.
Me: HAHA! Yeah, right again. I like the Flowmasters over the other after market products. It’s basically the only choice there is, you know?
Him: Yeah, you’re right about that. How long have you had it? I can tell you love your truck, you take good care of it. Nice toolbox; great brand. (Do I really need to spell it out? Don’t give me weird compliments about my eyes – I’ve heard them all anyway.. Just compliment my truck, and don’t treat me like a silly girl who doesn’t know jack squat about her vehicle.)
Me: I bought it in 2004. I love this thing; never had a problem with it whatsoever.
Him: Wow! I like a girl with a truck and…. [muffled, couldn’t hear over the motorcycle in front of me that revved his engine] ….. beautiful.
Me: What? I didn’t hear that last part.
Him: I SAID YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!
Me: ………………………………………[thinking]…………..Th-thanks.
Him: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Yes. (I didn’t.)
Him: Ah, too bad. He’s a lucky man. I do really like your truck. [light turns green, I move forward and decided to make my right early.]
Me: Thanks. See you later!

I think the interaction that takes the cake though is my most recent interaction. My church goes to lunch every Sunday after service, and one of my favorite locations to go is Torchy’s Tacos (seriously, crazy tacos and killer queso). There was a new girl so Lisa and I were asking her questions to try to get to know her better, and life in general was just great. The weather was perfect, the sun was warm, and the company was good. But then I had to leave because I was going to be late to meet up with my mom, so I said my goodbyes and headed back to where I had parked down the street. As I walked toward this little boutique strip I saw a homeless man sitting on the doorstep of one of the shops. My uncle works for a charity that provides legal services to homeless people, and he always says that you shouldn’t ignore eye contact or simple interactions with homeless people because it dehumanizes them. I took his advice to heart and made eye contact with the guy and said hello. He then asked me for some change, I gave him what I had and I started to leave when he asked me another question. I can’t remember what we talked about right then because after I answered his question he said, “Do you have a boyfriend?” and I immediately responded, “Yes,” (I didn’t/don’t), “I’m actually heading out to meet him right now.” He huffed and shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, he’s lucky. I was thinking you’d make a perfect fourth wife for me,” and I nervously laughed and said I had to go or I’d be late.

And those are all of my would-be suitors. After typing out the two stories in the middle I realize that those guys might seem pretty normal in the grand scheme of things. Both of them had to be at least in their mid-30s and at that time I was barely 22, and that’s a pretty big age difference, especially when talking about 20s and 30s. Also, I look like a small child – even now as a 26 year-old woman – and people are hesitant to believe that I am anything over 20, so back during those encounters I can’t imagine what age those guys thought I was. I still stand by their label as awkward encounters though, and I’m so thankful that my imaginary boyfriend has been there for me when I’m in a bind. He’s kind of great like that.

March 24, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Repeat Offender

Several years ago I read a study that said the national average for accidents per driver was around 1 accident every 6 years. In the 9 years that I’ve owned my truck, I have been involved in 4 accidents that have caused damage that required a visit to a repair shop, and no fewer than a dozen incidents where my truck wasn’t damaged (incidents like hitting a parked vehicle, demolishing a brick mailbox with my trailer hitch, and backing into light poles). That’s not to say the other party involved didn’t sustain damage, just that my truck was unscathed.

meme pic

So without further ado, my driving history:

Accident #1
Date:
March 2005
Location: Houston; Hwy 6 and 529
Damage estimate: $1900
Tears shed (5-point scale): 1.5 out of 5
The details: I was heading home from work one day – mere months after coming into possession of my truck – and the traffic at that intersection at that time of day is almost unbearable. I noticed that a car was waiting to turn into the shopping center in front of some traffic, but I didn’t think anything of it until she gunned it when I was only a couple feet from her and she hit my fender. I don’t remember how I got into the parking lot to assess damage, I just remember being really stunned. I was upset once I got out of my truck, and the lady in the other car was just like, “Oh my God. You’re not injured and your truck is fine; you need to calm down.” And while I agree with her assessment of the situation, this specific incident was my first accident ever and I had just paid my first payment on my truck, and I was just really shaken up. Tears were shed, but both my parents and my grandparents were with me less than 20 minutes after the accident, and they did a better job of comforting me than that jerk of a lady (who then called my insurance and blamed the accident on me). We got everything straightened out though, and I had my truck back within the week.

Accident #2
Date:
July 2006
Location: Houston; Hwy 6 and Sommerall Drive
Damage estimate: $4500
Tears shed (5-point scale): 3.5 out of 5
The details: I had stopped by Hobby Lobby to pick up supplies for a friend’s birthday present that I was making, and on my way home I thought to myself, “I hate making left turns on 529 without a light, so I’ll go out the side exit and just wait for the light there. I sure would hate to get into another accident!” Well, when I finally made it to the light and it turned green I entered the intersection and started making my turn when I saw a smallish black projectile fly across my windshield. I looked to my right to see where it came from, and saw a guy in a big white van staring at me like, “Ohhhhhhhhhh SH*T,” and I remember giving him a funny look like, “What’s wrong, dude?” and then I realized that he and I were both sitting at weird angles in the road and I pieced together what happened – hello, Bekah, you were in an accident! From what everyone was able to determine, he ran his red light while I was mid-turn on my protected left turn, and the force of the strike to the passenger side of my truck bed was hard enough to swing my truck to the right and he hit the passenger front quarter panel as well. When the cop showed up there were several witnesses already in the parking lot and I had cried enough to create mascara trails down my face. The officer interviewed me first and did his best at comforting me, and then when he turned to the guy he was like, “Seriously dude?! What did you do? Can’t you see how much she’s crying?!” The cop just kept getting more and more angry at the guy while he was talking. Apparently he was a teacher in Cy-Fair ISD, he was getting ready to take a group of 8th graders on a road trip for a band competition, and he didn’t have his driver’s license on him. All of the witnesses were really nice though, and my parents were once again on the scene almost immediately to make sure I was ok.

Accident #3
Date:
September 2008
Location: Jenks, OK; Elm Street near the Creek Turnpike
Damage estimate: $10,100
Tears shed (5-point scale): 11 out of 5
The details: I was shopping for groceries for a short camping trip my friends and I were going to take over the weekend. I called my friend to let her know I was heading back to campus, packed the back of my truck up, and started driving. Traffic at that intersection is terrible at that time of day, but I was able to get into the turning lane for the light ahead of me without any problems. That is until I saw the nose of an identical Dodge Ram 1500 shoot out from in front of the cars on my right. Her truck hit mine in the exact middle of my grill, and apparently both of our trucks had something to prove because mine jacked up her frame, popped her front tire, and damaged her hood and front quarter panel. Her truck crumpled my hood in and bent my front quarter panels, and everything at the front under the hood was crumpled and shoved into each other; the engine block remained undamaged, thank God.

That's me asking the officer if the other lady was ok.

That’s me asking the officer if the other lady was ok.

It still hurts to see my truck look like that.

It still hurts to see my truck look like that.

Everything under the hood was compressed and shoved into the engine block.

Everything under the hood was compressed and shoved into the engine block.

This was possibly the most emotionally taxing accident I’ve ever had, and it was just made worse by the crazy tow truck driver that showed up. He started off our interactions by insulting my truck and making a mean joke about my trailer hitch (which was the handiwork of my Pops – the man who shares the spot of “Bekah’s Most Favorite Man in the World” with my dad). He thought better of what he said, then made me laugh and started cracking jokes with all my friends who all dropped what they were doing to come make sure I was ok. He then hooked my truck up and was getting ready to tow it away and he looked back and was like, “Hey, just so you know, your truck is probably totaled,” and then climbed into his truck and drove off. My friends and I just stood in the parking lot for a bit trying to digest what he said and my friend Scott says, “Why would he say something like that?! He could’ve left you on a good note, but nooooooo, he has to make THAT his parting statement!” I can honestly most of why I cried in the accidents was because it’s scary to know that you’re doing fine and your car can be fixed, but that if something else was different it could’ve turned out a lot worse for you, and in any other scenario you might not be standing where you are. I’m already an emotional person to begin with, but the thought of having my truck ripped away so suddenly in its prime – that was too much for me to handle. I cried for about 3 hours straight after that, all the while my friends were trying to comfort me.

As it turned out, my truck was NOT totaled, just really damaged, and the people at the repair shop that fixed my truck were all super nice and made sure my truck was done ahead of schedule. I have a sneaking suspicion they finished it early because they were tired of me calling in and checking on its progress. By the second week of my truck being in the shop they knew to expect my phone call by 4:00 in the afternoon, and Robin, the shop manager, would even greet me before I said anything and start updating me. She kept telling me that she had to remind the guys who were working on my truck  that it belonged to a girl because they kept refering to the owner (ie, me) as “this guy” and “he” etc. When I finally showed up to pay my deductible and pick my truck up, Robin looked me up and down and said, “Hmmm.. I thought you’d be taller. You’re too small to have that big of a truck.” I laughed and said that’s what everyone says (because everyone does), and she had one of the guys pull my truck around. The guy was looking around trying to find the owner of the vehicle and when I walked up to ask for my key his face said, “No, small child.. Where’s your mother? She’s the one who needs the key,” so I responded with, “Hey – I’m Bekah, the owner of that truck. Can I have my keys so I can take it out for a test drive?” He apologized for thinking I was too young to own the truck, asked me if I was able to see over the steering wheel (get new material, folks.. that’s an old one), and handed over the key.

Accident #4
Date:
March 2012
Location: Houston; N Shepherd and Peden
Damage estimate: $3000
Tears shed (5-point scale):
0 out of 5
The details: I had just started going to my church, and I was in the stage where you know everyone and everyone else has a pretty good idea of who you are, and friendships are still in their early stages and you don’t really want to do anything weird in front of these people because it wouldn’t be awesome to have those moments in their memory of you so early on. My church goes out to eat after service every Sunday, and this time we were all headed to Jason’s Deli on Westheimer and Shepherd. Given my history of left hand turns and accidents, I normally try to make a protected left turn whenever possible. But at this point I was headed toward my 4th year of not having a single accident, so I was getting cocky in my abilities to drive in busy areas and remain untouched. So I made an unprotected left hand turn from a back road.  Traffic in that part of Houston is never really all that great, and I was getting kind of self-conscious because I could see that the long line behind me was all my church family, and I knew they all knew me well enough to know that I drove a big white Dodge (to be fair, that’s often one of the first things people learn about me other than my name and that I have a best friend named Krista). Then my uncle (not really my uncle, but he and his wife are basically family to me, so they’re my aunt and uncle) thought it would be funny to honk at me as he pretended to be upset about the situation. I wasn’t too worried about him because he jokes around like that all the time, but I did decide I needed to go pretty soon so I inched out, looked left (it was clear), looked right (it was clear), and I pulled out to make my turn. As I did that though, I looked left again and saw a Mercedes speeding right toward me and had time enough to just scrunch my face up in anticipation of the impact. She hit my driver’s side door and messed up the alignment of the door, but my step bar (also the handiwork of my Pops) absorbed most of the impact and prevented her car from striking anything important. A couple people from the church followed our cars to a side street while we exchanged insurance information, but everyone remained very civil and not a single tear was shed – an accomplishment previously thought to be impossible when my truck is involved. It was super awkward having to still go to lunch after that because everyone who had witnessed the accident was already sitting down and eating their food and watched me park my dented truck and walk in. I was greeted with cheers of, “Heyo!” and, “There she is!” and, “She’s alive!!” by people I barely knew. Thankfully they don’t often refer to that moment, which I find very comforting because it was truly awkward to have that many new friends witness everything unfold.

I told my brothers about my 4th major accident and they both said the same thing: “Is there anything on your truck that is part of the original assembly you bought?” To which I responded, “Yes. The passenger door.”

March 17, 2014 / bekbekbekah

AP Physics

You know that kid in high school who always asked the teacher questions when everyone was ready to leave the class for the day? Or the kid who was always the first to volunteer to do a problem at the board because they were weirdly way too excited about the subject matter? Or the kid who enjoyed studying for hours-on-end for their exams and during classwide review sessions would school everyone else in the class because they didn’t know how to control their love of the subject to allow other people the chance to learn?

That was me.

As a kid I would pilfer my brother’s homeschool paperwork from the folder where my mom kept it and trace the exercises and words so that I could have my own copy of work to complete. Sure I may not have understood what in God’s name I was doing, but I liked the idea of having homework and learning and I wasn’t ashamed of it. Fast forward 12 years to my senior year of high school and the only thing that had changed was that I didn’t have to create my own homework before completing it. My favorite class (I use that term loosely.. I loved ALL of my classes; all for different reasons) was physics. Physics combined math and science which were the two classes I had to work harder at (my love for each class grew with the additional effort I had to put into being good at the subject), and it encompasses every part of the physical world. The more we learned about physics, the more I loved it. I was sad to see my senior year of high school end because I was going to have to say goodbye to the AP Physics class of TCHS.

This class was my favorite class for a myriad of reasons, both intellectually and anecdotal, and I remember it very fondly. Now for most of you reading this, y’all went to school with A LOT of other people, and your classes were generally large. Very few of y’all went to a school like TCHS. There were five students in the graduating senior class of 2006, and the makeup of the AP Physics class was 3 seniors (me, Dani, and Sheila) and 2 juniors (Valerie and Josh). Of the 5 students in the class, 4 of us had known each other for 10 years and the other classmate for 6. We were like our own little family and we all loved it.

I have no recollection of what's going on, other than it was right before we had to be in class and the three of us started dancing.

I have no idea what happened to my right hand in this picture, but just look at the joy on our faces here! (Valerie and Sheila are missing from this picture; Val was our photographer.)

For that school year, the administrators hired a new teacher who was supposedly excellent with physics and math. I had high hopes for the class because she seemed to have her ish together and had a good plan of action. Two days later we were informed that she had resigned from her position (no explanation given), and that we were going to find another teacher “at some point.” The next class we were greeted by one heck of a goofy guy named Mr. Agnes who opened with this statement, “So, uh.. I didn’t study science in college.. And I’m not great at math.. But I’m your new physics teacher, so let’s get to it!” Apparently the need for a warm body to be in the class was greater than the need to have someone who knew the subject matter to be teaching, but none of us complained because Agnes. was. awesome.

Mr. Agnes was very honest about his shortcomings in physics and for the first few days he’d have us read sections out of the book and then have us answer the questions at the end. Those efforts didn’t last very long though because none of us knew what we were doing, so then we would just have really long discussions about whatever we felt like talking about that day, and we learned some pretty clever ways to sleep through our chapel classes and not get caught. The knowledge Agnes “lacked” in the realm of physics was wholly made up in practical life experiences. The one thing we did do that was remotely related to physics was discuss inertia for a couple days straight so that if one of the head teachers came in to observe unexpectedly, Mr. Agnes could make a statement about inertia and then the five of us would chime in and add to the discussion. At the beginning of each of these class periods with Mr. Agnes we would go over our speeches about inertia and then we’d cut loose and do silly things. A couple weeks after Mr. Agnes had been assigned to us, we were given a third teacher. Her name was Mrs. Reya and I despised her.

I’ve never been one to deal well with change, and TCS had a history of ripping the rug out from under me in terms of teacher changes mid-year. In 3rd grade we started with Mrs. Lowry and in the spring semester we had Mrs. Wagner. In 4th grade we started with Mrs. Chestnut, who was replaced by Mrs. Brown (NOT my mother) for an interim period and then Mrs. Whitmire was brought in. (By the way – Mrs. Whitmire is to this day my favorite grade school teacher.. I love that lady!) In 5th grade I got to have Mrs. Douglas who had been my brother’s teacher and I was so excited; she also left mid-year and was replaced by the devil’s sister Mrs. Garza. That woman was one strange, tempermental woman, and life was awful that second half of the year for me. Those were all very difficult things for me to process, and now within the first 6-week grading period in my senior year of high school, I was experiencing the same craziness. Mrs. Reya knew her physics, though, and by the end of the 2nd 6-week cycle I had warmed up to Mrs. Reya, and it was a sleeve of Fig Newtons that did the trick.

I have a lot of favorite foods, potatoes reigning supreme over everything else, but Fig Newtons are one of many food items that contend for the #2 spot in my heart (or stomach?). As with all physics classes, we learned about Isaac Newton pretty early on, and one day – before I had decided I like Mrs. Reya – I told Mrs. Reya that she should be providing us with Fig Newtons because clearly Isaac Newton was the Father of Physics and Fig Newtons. She showed up the next day with a carton of Fig Newtons, but to ensure our involvement in the day’s activities, she would only give us one if we answered a question correctly. This was one of the many things about Mrs. Reya that started to melt my icy exterior.

Another thing that started to change my mind about her was her review process. I can’t say enough about that woman to describe how she was able to excite the class (minus Josh, the only guy in the class and the only one who didn’t get excited about anything but quoting Dane Cook and singing Fall Out Boy with our friend Trey) and get us to participate in the discussions and reviews. She would write out notecards with review questions on them and make it a competition between the five of us to answer whenever we were called on; whoever answered the most questions in that period was able to take home the review cards with the answers on the back as an additional study guide. I was genuinely interested in the subject to begin with so “getting me excited” about reviews wasn’t necessary, but after touching one of those notecards for the first time I knew I had to win the review challenge every. single. time.

I have no idea where Mrs. Reya purchased those notecards or what they were made of, but I loved the feel of them. They were really, really smooth and a little less stiff than your Walmart brand notecards, and I have never been able to locate the same type since. I remember my eyes getting really big and having to constantly feel the cards while we were reviewing, and because my drive to possess those cards was so great, I would study like a madwoman before the reviews so I could win the reviews so I could take the cards home with me and spread them out and just touch them. And yes, I realize how very disturbing that sounds, but it is God’s honest truth. This may or may not have had anything to do with the better part of my OCD tendencies being associated with the sense of touch, but with God as my witness I won every single one of those review challenges.

In the second semester of the class my fellow classmates caught on to the actual reason for why I wanted the cards so badly, and I don’t think any of them ever understood it either. My friend Sheila – who is an incredibly intelligent individual – was upset by my thirst to possess those cards. During one review session Mrs. Reya’s card had a word problem written on it and to win that card we had to work the problem out on the board and explain the entire process and include the original formulas, etc. I beat Sheila to the punch and walked up to the board and started writing out the formulas that I was going to use when Sheila made a noise of frustration and said, “It’s not fair!” I looked up to see what was going on (I hadn’t caught on that I was upsetting people at this point, so I was confused as to why she’d say that) and I saw Sheila reach to her right and grab Josh’s baseball hat and chuck it straight at my face. What none of us except Josh knew at time though was that his hat had a metal lip in the lid. I didn’t have time to react, but Sheila’s shot was so good that as it wobbled in its trajectory, the metal lip hit me right between the eyes with a surprising amount of force. I was stunned because I didn’t know the cap had a metal lip, and then everyone started laughing out loud because it was a ridiculous scenario. After we all recovered Mrs. Reya asked Sheila what was wrong and she explained her plight. The agreement from then on was that if I won this review challenge (which I did) and any others in the future (which I also did) that I would let people take home the cards they needed help with so they could study them provided those people brought the cards back and let me take them home with me after the test. The five of us agreed that this was a fair arrangement and life was great.

There was a lecture portion and a lab portion to our class, and in the lab portion my other classmates were given their opportunity to shine. Where I was very competent in theories and numbers, I was horribly untalented in execution. Sheila, Dani, Valerie and Josh picked up on this tidbit very quickly and soon banned me from touching anything during the experiments because I had a habit of making things go horribly awry. Mrs. Reya said that I had to be part of the process though, so my job was to make sure we had all the items we needed before we started setting anything up, read the instructions for everyone else, and then writing down the numbers/outcomes after each step.

I spent most of our lab exercises looking like this:

Notice how everyone else is in the background actually doing work.

Notice how everyone else is in the background actually doing work.

During my last semester at ORU (you know, the semester that you sign up for fluff classes to take care of your elective credits?) I signed myself up for a Trig class and was looking for an Intro to Physics class as well, but the Trig class was cancelled right before school started and all the Intro to Physics classes were scheduled at the same time as my senior capstone courses. My group of friends made fun of me for wanting to take math and science courses as fluff, but if there had been any way around the scheduling conflicts, I would have been in both of those classes desperately trying to control my excitement about the coursework.

March 10, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Blindside

This weekend I experienced Round 2 with a kidney stone, but it took me a startling amount of time to realize why my body was in such pain and to take my medicine to help with it. I think part of why it took me so long is because I had a stomach bug Thursday and I thought I was just dealing with the fallout of whatever I had. WRONG! But I am once again alive and well and ready to post. I figured since I spent a large portion of my weekend being preoccupied with my physical pain that I should post this draft that I’ve had sitting in the wings for a while. Prior to my hitting my shin on a rock in the water in 2009 (yes, I will most definitely be posting about that in the future) and Rounds 1 and 2 with the kidney stones, October 13, 2007, was the most painful day of my life.

The fall semester of 2007 was my first semester at ORU in Tulsa, OK, and with it came many new friends, new college adventures, and new college breaks to celebrate. Every fall ORU gives its students a week off after midterms called [cleverly] Fall Break. Every year my birthday fell somewhere in the timeframe of Fall Break which was both a blessing and a curse because I always got to celebrate my birthday with my family, but I never got to celebrate my actual birthday with my friends. Which is a real #firstworldproblem if ever there was one.

There was a girl in my Intro to Mass Com class named Sarah, and she and I became pretty great friends.

I was parked during this picture - don't worry.

I was parked during this picture – don’t worry. If you’re wondering why I look crazy, she started tickling me during this selfie, and that’s me laughing.

Sarah was also on mine and Krista’s sister wing (ORU’s version of the Greek system), and the three of us became pretty close after several weeks of hanging out. I think one of the main things we bonded over was our love of a Swedish band called Blindside.

(a promo shot from their 2012 album With Shivering Hearts We Wait)

(a promo shot from their 2012 album With Shivering Hearts We Wait)

Krista is always great at finding concerts in cool places, and she started looking for US tour dates after she found out they had released an EP in June 2007. She told me that they were going to be in Dallas at The Door the weekend that Fall Break began and that we should stop for the concert on our drive back to Houston. I concurred, and then when we discovered Sarah didn’t have any plans for the break and that her birthday was the day before the concert, we bought her a ticket and decided to tell her we were going to kidnap her and take her to Houston with us. Sarah was already in bed by the time we decided these things, so we just printed out her ticket and taped it to her door. The next morning we were woken up by her throwing our door open and screaming, “OH MY GODDDDDD!!!!!” at the top of her lungs.

We loaded my truck up and left Saturday afternoon so that we would have plenty of time to get lost in Deep Ellum (I get lost every time I go somewhere new; it’s always factored into travel times) and find The Door before it started. At one point when I was driving down 45, I started smelling something really weird. I drove on a litte further because I thought maybe I was imagining things, but the smell kept getting more powerful. Krista and I have a habit of always commenting on the smells we smell while driving (what? that’s not normal?) so I finally blurted out, “Guys? What are we driving by? Something seriously smells like parmesan out there!” and Krista just looked at me with big eyes that said, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’D SAY THAT!!” and Sarah looked sheepishly over at me and said, “I just took my shoes off. Sorry. I’ll put them back on.” So then we drove for a while longer in complete silence minus my truck’s Flowmaster because I couldn’t think of a nice enough apology to say to Sarah for essentially telling her her feet smelled like cheese.

After a decent amount of time the awkwardness of my comment died away and we started talking about what we were excited about. Sarah told us she was excited about getting to mosh, and Krista and I told her that we wouldn’t be joining her. My take on moshing is this: if you like it, do it; if you don’t, don’t. I’m definitely someone that doesn’t like moshing (remember guys? I don’t like rough-housing), and I think that I’m too short and small to properly survive a mosh pit. I avoid them at all cost, but I don’t care that they exist because I know a lot of people think they’re fun. By the time that conversation ended we had arrived, parked, walked into the venue, and made our way to the crowd already gathered by the stage. Since this was pre-iPhone and pre-constant-contact-OMG-where-is-everybody-where-even-am-I?! – we had agreed that Krista and I would stay together and let Sarah come and go from the mosh pit as she pleased, and that if we changed locations we’d let each other know before we did it.

During the first opener’s set there was this really belligerent drunk guy (henceforth called BDG) who kept messing with people and just generally making everyone around him really angry. He would walk behind us and shove our shoulders or get way too close for personal comfort. Coming from the person who very rarely cares about her own personal space, especially at concerts, that should say something. During the second set this girl and her boyfriend who were standing in front of us were familiar with the songs so they started to semi-mosh with some other people around them.

BDG had been mercifully absent since the end of the the first set, but by the second song from the new band he had made his reappearance. He was definitely a mosher, but he decided he was going to be really rough with the people who were outside of the circle rather than just join the circle, and he put his hands on the shoulders of the girl in front of me and pushed her really hard. She was struggling to keep her balance and threw her arms out while stepping backwards because of BDG’s force and she caught me right across the teeth with her forearm. Now, I’ve never been in a fight or sustained a punch to the face so this was an incredibly surprising event for me. I don’t even remember being able to process pain because my vision started to get sprinkled with white specks, I tasted blood,  and my body went completely stiff. I started to fall straight backwards (apparently I’m an easy KO), but before I reached the angle-of-no-return Krista caught my arm and my shoulders and pushed me back flat-footed. I shook my head to try to clear my vision and put my hand to my mouth to check how badly I was bleeding. I looked at my fingers and there wasn’t any blood on them, but the taste was defintely there so I rubbed my tongue over my teeth and to my horror discovered that one of my two front teeth had been repositioned from the blow. At this point the pain started kicking in and I started freaking out and asked Krista to tell me how bad it was and she was like, “Your teeth are perfectly normal, Bekah. You aren’t even bleeding.” That was somewhat comforting, but the tooth had definitely been repositioned, and it took me almost a month to get used to that new positioning of my tooth, all while living in a state of constant fear of me losing one of my front teeth. Again.

Shortly after that incident a group of 4 or 5 huge guys found BDG harrassing other people in the crowd, physically lifted him up, and carried him outside. I didn’t see anything else that happened, but based on the looks on those guys faces and the anger in their body language, BDG received a few blows to the face of his own.  While that moment was the end of seeing BDG being annoying, which I was happy about, I hadn’t yet seen the end of my own injuries.

As the night progressed and the people kept coming in, the space that  Krista and I occupied had consistently grown smaller and much more compact. Sarah found us between sets and shoved her way toward the front so that Krista and I could be closer to the stage and further from crazy people like BDG. One of my main, overarching goals in life is to tend to the safety of one Krista Wells Bumgart, and on this particular occasion I had her and Sarah stand in front of me because I wanted them to not be pressed on by so many people. By this point I had also put my hair into a bun because it’s really easy for people to pull on a long ponytail; also it was getting really hot inside and I took every opportunity short of stripping down to get cooler. The crowd surged forward as Blindside’s set was getting put together and I was doing my best to be the barrier between the crowd and Krista and Sarah. Normally my brother Jeremy is the barrier, but he obviously wasn’t with us at the time so I had to fill in.. bad idea. Once Blindside took the stage and the first chords were played everyone – including myself – went insane. It was awesome. It was almost too much happiness for me to handle, and then someone grabbed my bun and yanked it. I stumbled back a step because the person had pulled really hard, but I was able to stay in the same spot for the most part. Then it happened again. And again. And again. And it kept happening until there were a lot of people in front of me and I couldn’t see Krista or Sarah anymore. I looked over the shoulders of the person behind me and saw what appeared to be free space where I might possibly be able to breath again.

I decided that if I was going to be separated then I would at least get away from the crowd that kept grabbing my hair and pulling me backwards. As I stepped around the person directly behind me and looked up to view my options, the first thing I saw was a guy lowering his head and charging at me like a bull. Before my brain could communicate, “HELLO, BEKAH, YOU STEPPED INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE MOSH PIT!!” to the rest of my body, he rammed me right in the sternum and knocked the breath out of me. I stumbled into the people behind me while franctically trying to find my way of escape. I made my way as carfeully as I could, but as they say in geometry, the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line, so I was shoved around some more before reaching the other side. There were two or three guys that had seen me get headbutted in the sternum mere moments before, then witnessed the terror in my eyes as I tried to remain uninjured during my journey through the pit. When I was within arms reach of them they all grabbed me and passed me into a very safe, very chill, portion of the crowd. The people in that area took note of how short I was and pushed me to the front of the group and let me spend the rest of the concert having constant access to cool, non-sweaty air to breathe and a mostly-uniterrupted line of sight to Blindside.

As previouly stated, this was a time before the iPhone was around so I don’t have any pictures from the concert, but I will share a couple from a different concert (also at The Door) that I went to in summer 2012.

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before they came on stage

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Marcus Dahlstrom

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Christian Lindskog.. he was also barefoot for the 2007 concert

Now, I realize this post is actually one of my longer posts, but to be fair, it’s one of my favorite memories and I think it deserves a good explanation. Having said that, I will wrap it up with these final two anecdotes.

After the concert was over I stood near the bar so I could keep an eye out for Krista and Sarah without impeding traffic. Krista found me, I explained my disappearance, and then asked where Sarah was. She said she didn’t know, just that Sarah had gone to the bathroom during the encore and hadn’t come back. We were trying to figure out what to do – by this point The Door was almost completely empty – when Sarah came up behind us looking a little crazy and said in a single breath, “Krista, I hope you’re not upset by this but I met Blindside’s sound engineer Lucy and we were talking and I said you were a journalism major and that you wanted to write something about the show and then she said she was going to take us backstage after everyone left and so now we’re going to meet Blindside and interview them and I hope it’s ok.” Krista and I started freaking out. We hadn’t planned for this, and suddenly we had to come up with interesting questions to ask them.. find things to write notes on.. find things to write notes with.. It was crazy. It was midnight (ie – October 14.. ie – my birthday) by the time the last person left The Door, and Lucy took us up the stairs behind the stage wings and introduced us to Christian Lindskog and Marcus Dahlstrom. They were beyond gracious and let us have some of their food and gave us paper plates and sharpies to take our notes with. I will forever remember that moment – the image of the five of us in the tiny room is still vivid in my mind – and it was just so cool to be ringing in my 20th year with this event.

Throughout Blindside’s entire set there was this guy in the crowd that kept yelling, “Play ‘King of the Closet!!’ Play ‘King of the Closet!!'” and all I could think was, “I love this guy’s dedication!” Blindside left the stage without playing the song, then came back for their encore. They played 4 or 5 more songs, then announced that they were going to let the crowd pick the final song of the night and that same guy’s voice yelled out above everyone else’s, “PLAY ‘KING OF THE CLOSET!!!!!'” and they obliged him. A full year later Krista and I stopped by my friend Natalie’s house in McKinney on our way back to Tulsa after our 2008 Fall Break and she introduced us to her brother Jonny. Then she told Jonny that he would like me because “I liked his kind of music,” which naturally led to a conversation about bands we liked. We quickly discovered Blindside was a favorite for us both and we freaked out when we realized we had been at the same concert together the year before. Because I love shared experiences so much, I mentioned the guy who had been yelling for them to play “King of the Closet” and said, “Yeah, did you hear the guy that kept yelling for them to play ‘King of the Closet?’? I was so happy for him when they closed with it!” and he goes, “Yeah! That was me!” And that’s basically what solidified our friendship.

photo 1

We even met up in Houston once!

His band Least of These was in town for a concert.

His band Least of These was in town for a concert.

And this is them playing the stage at Notsuoh downtown.

And this is them playing the stage at Notsuoh downtown.

And now this weekend I’m taking my roommate Lisa to McKinney to hang out with Natalie and her family; I’m expecting this to be a very musical weekend for us. Let the good times roll!

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