Category Archives: Me Think Thoughts

Why I Can’t Play Sports For Fun

This past weekend a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Ethel, asked me if I wanted to be a stand-in on a flag football team that plays in Baltimore. I didn’t know anyone on the team but enthusiastically accepted the invite, as I had absolutely nothing better to do. Plus, Ethel brings the laughs like no one else, which I desperately need during my dark, unemployed times.

Ethel and I are natural competitors and as such began brainstorming game strategies that would play to our strengths and subsequently make us look awesome in front of people we hoped would become our new friends (Ethel only knew a couple of team members also). A few options were thrown out, but one stuck. We were going to use the speed and agility that we had loosely (read: barely) maintained since our college lacrosse days to blast past everyone and score a shit ton of touchdowns. Anyone foolish enough to try and stop us would get his or her obtrusive skull busted.

I couldn’t help but see myself carrying out the game plan. What I saw was an abundantly sweaty, asthmatic ogre who was violently stiff-arming opponents down the field as everyone watched in uncomfortable horror. It then dawned on me that this might not be the best way to meet a group of strangers for the first time.


Like I said, Ethel and I are former lacrosse players who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spent four years alongside 40 other girls doing hang cleans and tire flips so that we could prepare ourselves in the event that we had to crush any and all similarly thick-legged opponents. We didn’t play for fun. We were trained to win at any cost, so much so in fact that if the opportunity presented itself we would not think twice about stuffing our unruly opponents into a trash compactor. It was our own slightly psychotic dog-eat-dog world, a bubble where we could fearlessly talk trash and sweat like 400-pound men.

The problem is that death threats, mental intimidation and excessive perspiration can come off as unattractive and borderline frightening to the casual athlete. I wanted to make a good impression on my temporary teammates, but I knew they weren’t going to understand when I ferociously kicked inanimate objects after a bad play or threw my hands up and aggressively screamed in their faces after a good one.

Luckily, it never came to that. The game was cancelled due to rain from the day before, an overreaction that worked in my favor. I did, however, decide that I am far too competitive to play sports for fun. In fact, all women who are former college athletes should follow my lead. People already think we are beastly and the last thing we need to do is perpetuate negative stereotypes or alarm people looking for some friendly competition.

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My Shoulder Is Not a Window

The Society for the Strange and Obnoxious must congregate at Starbucks. I know for certain that their meetings are scheduled around one thing and one thing only: my physical presence in the store. Normally, I tend to deal with the minor offenders. You know, the ones who stand too close in line or who take a millennium to figure out their order. Last week, however, I had the pleasure of meeting the head honcho of the club.

I was sitting in the corner, quietly guzzling my coffee and writing away in one of those briefly wonderful caffeine-fueled rages when I sensed someone sit down in the chair behind me. I paid no attention to the new presence and continued to write in a self-absorbed haze. I only took notice once I felt uneven breaths firing on the back of my neck.

I quickly jumped around to find a middle-aged, finely tanned man in a clean-pressed, white shirt looking at me with a smile that would also make sense on either a serial killer or Beavis. He spoke first. I felt he owed me this much as he was the one who initiated the heavy breathing. “Oh, hello, dear, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to sit here and spy on you,” he stated, rather presumptuously if I do say so myself.

I did mind. I really, really did.

“Well, OK, but I’m not writing anything very interesting.” It was true. But, if I were writing something interesting I’d rather share it over tea with Mitt Romney’s butt cheeks than with that jabrone.

I smiled and turned around so as to passive aggressively kill the conversation. He didn’t get the hint and unleashed a merciless verbal assault on me, asking all sorts of inane, prodding questions. I don’t get that. Can’t you tell when someone doesn’t want to engage in a conversation with you? Like, should I install a mini alarm system on top of my head that goes off when I reach the breaking point in an unsolicited conversation?

As I began bleeding out I looked around at the untouched Starbucks patrons with desperate eyes. I was going to die, damnit, why weren’t they helping me? They thought I was a willing participant, they thought I was also a lonely fool who sought comfort from strangers in Starbucks.

I must have forced myself into a blackout because I forgot the rest of the conversation. I only remember the first sign of dead air, which I used as an opportunity to get up and scram. Before I could escape fully the man called out to me, “Thanks for letting me use your shoulder as a window.” To which I replied, “Good sir, it was never meant to be a window.” I hate Starbucks.

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A Short Story: Billy’s Bad Breath

The noise Billy heard at 7:00 a.m. was both terrifying and strangely familiar, like the sound of a severe weather alert that interrupts your favorite song on the radio. He instinctively rolled onto his alarm clock and put an end to the auditory assault.

He smacked his lips together thickly, as though he has just eaten a cotton ball topped with a dollop of peanut butter. All he could taste was the sticky smell that came barreling forth during his morning expiration like a locomotive from the darkest caverns of his anatomy. It was a smell he could taste, a taste he could smell. A nasty duality of the senses that was all at once uncomfortable, jarring and strangely delicious, not only for himself but potentially for those who found themselves themselves within a six-foot radius of his bulb.

“Christ,” Billy said out loud. It was to no one in particular, although perhaps he was subconsciously preparing to ask the fellow why his breath smelled like dead people. He got up to brush his teeth, although he knew it wouldn’t help. Being an onion sure came with its fair share of misfortunes and he was feeling particularly ornery this morning.

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Five-Minute Observation: Late-Night Coffee Drinkers

There’s something disheartening about being in a Starbucks when it’s dark outside. I’m not talking about the early morning dark, I’m referring to the 10 p.m. kind of dark. The time when there are only six or seven strange-ish people in the place. I’ve coined this time as the Starbucks witching hour, a time when the odd ones of the world convene for late-night caffeine.

I like coming at this time and making up reasons about why they are drinking coffee so late. Why do they need to stay up? I overwork scenarios in my head. Maybe they are about to rob a bank and need that crack-infused coffee to give them an extra surge of adrenaline. Or perhaps they have insomnia and have been sitting at the Starbucks for three days straight. Did something bad just happen to them? Something good? Probably not. After intense brooding the stories about these late-night coffee drinkers have the potential to become elaborately depressing.

I had conjured up one particularly distressing story about a gaunt older fellow sitting at a big table by himself (I swear not all of my stories are about Starbucks and old people). The man had bloodshot, unblinking eyes that stared blankly through everything in front of him. Looking at him made me hurt. Occasionally he would glance at me, or maybe through me, too, and I’d feign attention to my notebook. I’ll save you the outlandish details of my extensive story because it’s really too strange to repeat for the Internet. Just know that if I wasn’t afraid of being charged with senior citizen molestation I would have gotten up and given him a hug. It was that bad.

Then I heard the door open behind me. A man in his twenties shuffled past me and excitedly dropped a brown package in front of the old man. The young man wasn’t his son, but you could tell the old fellow thought of him as such. The old man’s red eyes softened with excitement and a wide smile overtook his blank expression. He eagerly opened the package and the two drifted away into their own world, a world that revolved around a different axis than the world everyone else was in. It revolved around the coffee they were drinking and the papers they were examining.

Something struck me. The witching hour isn’t a disheartening wrinkle in time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Maybe late-night coffee drinkers aren’t staying awake because they are real-life versions of Christian Bale in “The Machinist.” Maybe they are staying away because they’ll miss out on moments like the one between the old man and the young man if they are sleeping.

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This Fourth of July I Am Thankful For…

Happy Fourth of July, all six people who read this! Before I show America my appreciation via PBR and hamburgers, I’d like to list off Independence Day delights I am thankful for:

1. Imperfectly sculpted mullets and fat arms stamped with eagle tattoos (real ones only). The Fourth of July proudly and successfully brings all mullett-wearing, far arm-bearing Americans together in one small and inevitably foul smelling location. Thankfully, this makes people watching and judging shamelessly convenient. I should note that I’m also thankful for eagle shirts, they are like cotton warning signs.

2. Amateur fireworks. It’s a disturbing sight when an imbecile attempts to insert himself into the center of Fourth of July attention by putting on his own backyard fireworks show. More often than not these folks tend to underestimate the unpredictable nature of the fireworks they secured from an obscure firework warehouse on the side of the interstate. I am thankful that one of these idiots has yet to blow off my head with an explosive device. I am unthankful that no one has tried to piggyback something like a hot dog to a firework, just to see what will happen. I feel like that would be fun. Hot dogs make everything more fun.

3. PBR. It’s red, white and blue and I’m thankful that it costs less than a sandwich.

4. Coleslaw. It’s not even American but the Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to cover an assortment of meats with loads of coleslaw.

5. Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty on the radio all day long. I don’t care what anyone says, a Fourth of July celebration is not complete without The Boss and some collective “Free Falling” renditions.

On that note, I’m going to go shove my face with coleslaw and beer. I’ll surely be updating this post when I inevitably come across some other Independence Day wonders at the fireworks tonight on River Street.

*UPDATE: I did not come across more things I was thankful for yesterday. Probably because I missed the fireworks and I realized people watching isn’t nearly as enjoyable in the dark without night vision goggles, which I don’t have. I’ll put it on the Christmas list.

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Last First Day of School

Few things in life are as subtly disappointing as the first day of school.

From elementary school to graduate school, I have always approached the first day of school with the greatest of intentions. The night before school starts I am eager with the hope and promise of new courses, professors and classmates. As I lay in bed I feel comfortable knowing that my backpack is replenished with an arsenal of fresh pens, highlighters and notebooks. There’s an appropriately packed lunch in the fridge and my outfit is next to my bed. I am a maven of preparation, an archetype of organization. At the gentle hour of 9:30 p.m. I slide into an agreeable slumber and wonder why I ever wanted school to end in the first place.

The buzzing of my alarm at an unfamiliar hour the next morning serves as the first reminder. Despite being awake as such an uncomfortable time, I remain confident that I’ll get used to it as the quarter goes on. I delightfully rip the tags off my new clothes, dress up, grab my lunch and float off to my first class.

When I walk into class I begin my initial evaluations. I predict who the classic over talker, know-it-all will be. I identify the silent and questionably dangerous one, the smelly kid (generally the easiest task, for obvious reasons) and, perhaps most importantly, the one who I will wind up wanting to punch in the neck. My ocular radar has a 46% success rate so I sit as far from everyone as possible anyway, just to be safe.

After a couple minutes of awkward small talk and forgettable introductions the professor enters and forces us to tell our life stories for the class. My introduction speech goes a little something like this: “Hello everyone, I am Chelsea Parks. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland…well, not the Baltimore you see in “The Wire”, it’s a suburb of Baltimore, but I just say Baltimore so that people can get an idea of where I’m from. I’m not ghetto and I don’t kill people, I promise. Seriously, I’ve never killed anyone. I also have three dachshunds.”

The class looks at me uncomfortably. Because of my speech impediment about half of what I said was understood, which works on my favor. The professor waves me off nonchalantly and starts combing through the syllabus. As I review the assignments I seriously think to myself, “I’m going to dominate the shit out of this quarter.” I’m going to do my reading ahead of time, hell, I’ll even take notes and organize them alphabetically in a glass container protected by rottweilers. No more all-nighters and coffee binges, nope, not this quarter.

As the weeks pass on and the workload increases, my green hopefulness proves to be ephemeral. Any and all reading assignments are pushed back until they are eventually abandoned. I quickly begin consuming coffee as quickly and as rapidly as a pterodactyl masticating a pile of fresh meat. Lunches goes from well-rounded food pyramid homages to naked pieces of dry wheat bread (which have been separated from their moldy counterparts) and cough drops. The 9:30 p.m. bed time soon becomes dinner time and sleep becomes something enjoyed in sets of four to six hours. Outfits that were once planned ahead and politely ironed soon come from my dirty laundry bin and start to liken themselves to an ensemble a homeless person and/or Mary-Kate Olsen would wear. I slowly and methodically morph into a grosser, bigger asshole than I started out as.

This past Monday was my “last” first day of school (barring I don’t fail any classes this quarter or suddenly pick up the urge to become an occupational therapist in a couple of years) so I was understandably sensitive about promising myself the world. That’s why I decided to do something incredibly difficult for a neurotic, anxiety prone control freak such as myself. I decided that I will approach this quarter one day at a time. I will do all that I can to avoid over analyzing the raison d’être. I’m not going to think past the pack of Big Red I’m eating by the piece or the Ke$ha music video I’m unashamedly watching instead of finishing this post. I’ve spent every quarter at SCAD being worried about the future and things I can’t control and I’ve only ended up a cracked out, generally miserable human being, which is no way for a gal to live.

This quarter I’m going to focus on finding a job, doing work that I’m proud of and finishing that Jumbo Bag of Pretzel M&M’s. Some will happen sooner than others (I’ll be done with those M&M’s in about an hour) but I have to trust that they’ll all happen eventually. If I don’t I have no doubt that I’ll end up like Ichabod Crane: old, alone and unaware of how horrible my top hat looks on me.

The Perils Of Sleep Eating

I’m alone in my bed in a hotel room. Although, actually, it sounds like I’m not alone. There’s someone else in here; I know this because I can hear them snoring. (I use that term loosely, however, as the sound I hear is more closely akin to that of a congested boar or garbage truck ungraciously emptying dumpsters during adolescent Saturday hours.)

Anyone who has spent time in a hotel room understands their capacity to become impressively dark. This attribute works splendidly for someone looking to sleep until 3 p.m. Unfortunately, it’s utterly useless for someone trying to stealthily locate bedroom perpetuators/congested boars/garbage trucks. I quickly curse blackout curtains, ill-placed light switches and the human race for failing to pick up echolocation somewhere along the evolutionary road. Instinct tells me to grab my cell phone. It also tells me that this will not suffice as a defensive tool, but I bring it anyway, thinking that at the very least I can throw it at the intruder.

As I approach the edge of my bed my mind races. Who could be there? Did a maid sneak in here to take a power nap? Perhaps another patron mistook my room for theirs. I shine the light from my iPhone onto the ground and find none of these sorts of people. Instead, I see something much, much worse. I see George Lopez, “famed” talk show host and generally annoying human being.

Holy shit. I sprang up in my bed in the sort of “what the fuck is going on” bewilderment that comes with being jolted awake by a horrendous nightmare. I flipped the light on and was relieved to discover that George Lopez was not actually on my floor. It was only a dream.

I tried to fall back asleep. Except, of course, I couldn’t. At first I thought it was because of my subconscious encounter with George Lopez. This was understandably unnerving and unsolicited. No, it was something else. It was a sudden insatiable hunger. Fuck. It was happening again, I was going to sleep eat.

Sleep eating, in the most unscientific terms, occurs when one eats in their sleep. Those who sleep eat operate at the same level of consciousness as a sleep walker or one who has quickly consumed six stiff whiskeys. Unfortunately, I have been a sleep eater for years. Many of my past roommates have stood witness to me walking into the kitchen to methodically shove 100 or so cookies into my mouth. Aside from a bad taste in their mouth and scattered crumbs in their beds, sleep eaters have faint recollections of their late-night meals, which is why they must rely on others to fill in the blanks.

I have never had a sleep eating experience outside of my home, so when I woke up in the middle of night in my hotel room craving french fries and other salty delights I was understandably frustrated.  The only food-like objects I could find were Tic-Tacs and a suspicious piece of gum, s0 I grabbed my room key and a couple of dollars and hustled to the nearest vending machine.

At that point I was walking down the hallways of a very crowded hotel in polka dot pajamas and a truly appalling gray T-shirt. I neglected to put on a bra and shoes and failed to brush my hair so I assume I looked a bit like a half-assed crack addict. When I failed to find a vending machine on the first floor I remember thinking, “Go back to sleep, Chelsea. Just go back to sleep. Do not, under any circumstances, try and find a vending machine on the second floor.” Of course, I went to the second floor. And the third, to no avail.

I absolutely was not ready to accept that a full-service hotel didn’t have a vending machine. Surely this was a sick joke. Just as I was about to give up I walked by the front desk and noticed a glorious spread of tasty indulgences. Fooooooooood. I can’t recall with confidence what happened next, all I know is that I woke up the next morning to an empty King-Size Butterfinger wrapper, a bad taste in my mouth and a dusting of sweet, delicious crumbs. Some sort of transaction must have occurred and I’m quite confident it was awkward, which is why I maturely left through the side door as quickly and quietly as I had come. Just another peril of sleep eating.

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Let’s Stay In

These days I don’t get out very often. Too much school work, not enough money and a body that’s unwilling to fight the adverse effects of alcohol are a few reasons why I’m spending the prime of my life drinking wine in my bed and writing blog posts. I know, you’ve heard it all before. I am a loser. Big. Fucking. Deal.

But I digress.

I did get the chance to face the drunk hipsters of Savannah this past weekend and they kindly provided me with yet another reason why I generally loathe large crowded college bars: alcohol makes unfunny people think they are funny. After a couple cans of liquid courage and a few sympathy laughs everyone’s the next Richard Pryor.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m the next comedic prodigy because I know for certain I’m about as funny as a bag of ham. I also realize that when I pound down a couple brews I pretend to walk into poles and I eat sausage biscuits in sets of two but, like most people, I choose to believe society is the problem.

It’s just that nothing annoys me more than when I’m at a bar enjoying my mental judgement of everyone and some moron with a plaid shirt, ugly haircut and overwhelming body odor interrupts with quotes from “Jersey Shore” or “Zoolander.” Look, buddy, that was so 2,000 and late. You look like a bozo and you smell like a trashcan. Go home, wash yourself and work on some new material.

As Lucille Bluthe would say, these people “make me want to set myself on fire.” I didn’t take it that far. Instead I just drank away the pain. This could be why I am at the tail end of a two-day hangover. I don’t know when I become an anti-social 60 year old stuck in the body of a 24 year old but it’s happened and there’s no turning back. Sorry, friends.

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Shut the…front door.

As a grad student at SCAD I spend about 90 percent of my time plopped in front of a computer mindlessly shoving Starbursts and Coca-Cola into my mouth while I diddle around in Illustrator and Photoshop. I could do this in the comfort my home but instead I venture to the school buildings so that I can violate the lab’s food and drink policy. I love using the fancy new computers that all $50,000 of my tuition paid for, but I hate (and I mean really, really hate) the groups of imbeciles who turn the computer lab into their own private living room. These idiots come in, sit down and then just loudly blab without any consideration for their hardworking (read: Facebook stalking) peers.

Do they know that no one cares about how you got drunk on Saturday and made out with a street lamp? Have they considered that no one wants to hear their side of the phone conversation with their mom about what they ate for breakfast that morning?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if they are playing YouTube videos of cats tap dancing and FaceTiming with their boyfriends then they probably wouldn’t know the room was on fire unless it disrupted their internet connection.

Usually, I just glare at them, then up at the wall. At that point, I use my best Mike Posner creepy whisper voice and tell them to, “Shut up.” To avoid suspicion I shrink down into my computer chair, pop my headphones in and feign hard work.

For some reason this method of attack isn’t working. I have no idea why not.

The next step in operation “Shut The Front Door” will be to send them anonymous e-greetings starring the aforementioned tap dancing cat that will encourage them to shut their big, ugly mouths.  I’ll keep you updated on the effectiveness of my plan B barring I don’t get arrested for some sort of cat e-stalking.

The moral of the story: unless you want to receive an angry anonymous e-mail or you want to keep hearing muffled cries from a creepy girl in the corner then please, please, do us all a favor and shut your front door.

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New, New Years

For as long as I can remember I have spent the first day of the new year hungover and nauseous. In the past I’ve woken up on January 1st, sad that all of the whiskey and cheap beer from the night before rendered me incapable of seizing the new year. In fits of embarrassment and anger I’ve resolved to change myself, to pick-up new habits in place of old ones only to be disappointed to find out that my new habits have succumbed to the strength of my old ones.

So, this year I’ve decided that I’m not going to change at all. This year I am going do everything the same and I am going to take solace in my self-inflicted misery. I hypothesize that starting the year off at my lowest possible moral and physical state can only guarantee my upward progression for the remainder of the year. So this year my new years eve will be the same: I will still drink more beer than I probably should, I will still embarrass my boyfriend, I will still laugh so hard that I cry and cry so hard that I laugh. Everything will be the same which makes for the newest of new years.

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