Monthly Archives: May 2013

Famous Adjacent

We all have things in our lives that in a moment of passion we vow to never do. “I will never break someone’s heart” “I will never eat more than one cookie” Well, my solemn vow was if I ever met a famous person I would be totally cool-headed. They are just normal people, right? Not right. Not even remotely correct. Like, I wish I could go back in time just to bash Past Valerie’s head into a wall for even thinking that thought. Someone who wears thousand dollar shoes and lives primarily inside of a television could not ever be normal.

I was in San Diego a few weeks ago with my senior class for our last hoorah together before graduation. After months of annoying begging from each of the girls, we set aside a California day to visit Los Angeles. The City of Angels- or as I fondly call it- The City of Zac Efron, since we all know angel and Zac Efron are synonymous. Anyway, I am getting off track. So we trekked out to LA on a Tuesday. Nothing exciting ever happens on Tuesdays, that is why plane tickets are the cheapest that day. That being said, you can understand how my LA expectations were limited to me putting my hands in Bing Crosby’s cement hand prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This was not the Maybe-If-My-Expectations-Are-Extremely-Low-Then-I’ll-Be-Very-Surprised-When-Something-Spectacular-Happens kind of thing. No it was more like the I-Never-Win-Anything-And-Have-The-Worst-Luck-Ever-So-Maybe-I’ll-Get-Lucky-And-Chip-My-Tooth-On-Lucille-Ball’s-Walk-Of-Fame-Star kind of thing.

We are not standing on LA ground more than five minutes when the vulturous tourism maniacs hone in on our mid-west pale skin and serious scrutiny of the Walk of Fame stars which no one else seems to mind stepping on. They offer us a tour that takes us through Beverly Hills and Hollywood and when they mention Elvis’ house as a sight, they had me hooked. As much as I wanted to hop on their bus right then and tour the most magical city in America, nature was calling most of us after a ninety minute ride and so we had to find a bathroom quickly. The charismatic, albeit sweaty, tourist guide- may he be infinitely blessed for eternity- directed us to a hotel two blocks over.

There are many moments in a girl’s life when she feels poor. The first time she picks up a pretty pair of sensible shoes in Nine West only to realize they cost three times the amount she has in her bank account. When she finds herself paying for her McDonald’s milkshake in pennies and nickles. Since I have experienced all of the above, I can say with confidence that I know what Eliza in My Fair Lady felt like when surrounded by people who made more in a month than she could make in her entire life. I walked into the ritzy W Hotel. I could not have felt more out of place if I had attended the Oscar’s wearing a potato sack. We scurry past the well dressed entourage of people in the lobby, climbing over a rock garden and through an inconveniently placed plant into the most lavish bathroom I have ever set foot in. A jeweled column stood in the center of this darkly tiled foyer with modern sinks and eight separate rooms which were considered stalls. I stood and gaped for a few moments and then went to investigate the stall décor. The funny thing was that for such an expensive bathroom there were no lights in the stalls.

I have always prided myself on my most useless and most treasured skill. I am scarily good at recognizing actor’s voices. I know that DJ’s boyfriend Steve on Full House played the speaking voice of Aladdin. I know that Mel Gibson in all his psychotic glory, played the voice of John Smith in Pocahontas. For this reason I am most ashamed of what happened next. I hear a voice of a woman across from me wondering where the lights are. I hear my friend say that we were looking for them too and could not find them. She then goes on to say something along the lines of, “Well, I think I’ve done this enough times to know how it works.” I walk out to wash my hands a few moments later. I find myself idly wondering where my friends are. I had soap on my hands and was impatiently looking for away to turn the fancy sink on, to no avail. I look up into the mirror and am going to ask the woman at the other sink if her’s is working when my tongue becomes glued to the roof of my mouth when I see Ellen DeGeneres smiling at me.

My mouth dropped open and I stood for a few silent seconds debating whether to yell out to my friends whom I thought were in the stalls, “ELLEN IS HERE I REPEAT, ELLEN IS IN THE BATHROOM.” It was the weirdest thing ever because minutes before we had all been talking about who we would like to meet if we had the chance while in LA and I said Ellen DeGeneres, which is so ironic. I think I was also so shocked because I think on the inside I kind of always thought celebrities were these animatronic creatures that did not exist in the normal world. I mean, you do not expect to look up and see a famous person doing something normal like washing their hands. If she had been average I would have proceeded to ask her about her sink and perhaps laugh at the idiotic construction of pretty sinks that do not do their jobs. But instead I elected to dart out of the bathroom, soapy, unwashed hands included, to make sure my friends would believe what I saw. It turns out they had already seen her and spoken to her and did not give me any warning at all. They could have given me three taps on the door or a bird call or something.

While laughing at me, my friends helped me clean the ridiculous blue soap off of my hands while the maitre’d looked on, laughing at my wide, disbelieving eyes. Ellen came out of the restroom and when we asked her to take a picture with us said, “Okay, should we get into a pyramid? As long as I can be on top.” to which we all forgot to laugh because we were in awe of her realness. I handed my phone to her right hand man, Andy. He started to look confused while trying to take our picture and Ellen asked him if he was doing all right and he said he was. After all was said and done, I had a blurry picture starring Andy’s finger and an accidental selfie he took with my front camera. How thankful I am that there were a few other cameras besides mine.

I called my mom and dad after this and told them what just happened. My dad told me I should have asked her for money for my missions trip and my mom wanted to know if I had told her I was born where she was in Louisiana. My mom also made sure to remind me that if I saw Robert Downey Jr. to grab his legs and hold on for dear life and if I were to see Johnny Depp to “not be afraid to give him her number” her words, not mine. I touched Ellen while we were taking the most exciting picture of my life. I feel that since Ellen has hugged and touched so many celebrities in her lifetime, a few of them rubbed off on me. So I have decided that through Ellen I have hugged Ryan Gosling, Taylor Swift, and Jude Law. I may not be famous but by golly, I do believe I can be considered famous adjacent now. I’m hoping my next brush with fame will be a little more graceful, but not likely.


Killer Genes

The first encounter I recall having with vicious Mother Nature is vividly, painfully pressed into my brain. My dad is this huggable lug of a man who has an unashamed fetish for birds. We have chickens in my garage at this very moment. I live in a Chicago suburb so I can safely say we are the only family within a fifteen mile radius that has a chirping garage. We actually raised a peacock in my garage. That garage has seen a lot less vehicles and a lot more poultry than should be allowed.

When I was about three years old my family lived right outside of New Orleans, a similar setting to where we live now. My dad’s fierce love of flying animals was stronger than ever. Macaws, doves, pigeons, cocktails, parrots; you name it, we had it in our backyard. Thinking back we probably could have opened up the Walker Family Bird Petting Farm for a little extra cash.

Our birds were all caged except our chickens. There was a specific rooster who was very territorial, I guess you could call it that, or you could just say he hated my bald little Valerie self and wanted to peck my eyes out. I toddled my chubby little legs outside one day, unaccompanied by my mother, and approached the temperamental rooster. I reached my stubby finger out to make a friend and the demon rooster took advantage of my kind heart and attacked me. Even now I have a very low tolerance for pain-like, I will sub tweet angry things for two days after a toe stubbing incident- so I ran into my house weeping like- well, like a three year old. Mother dearest was not pleased. She grabbed the broom from the kitchen and stormed outside, hitting the defenseless rooster until he was unresponsive. “Unresponsive” is my delicate way of saying dead. He was dead. She killed him. This is the reason I know I would have a good chance of surviving if the United States collapses and the Hunger Games become an actual thing. Thanks for the homicidal genes, mom.

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We all know what it is like, that phase when two people are digging on each other but are not “exclusive” yet. Many times, for me anyway, this phase almost always lasts longer than the dating relationship. It is this agonizing time of asking obscure questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” or, if you are really deep, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” I have always found myself trying to think outside the box and ask “What color is your mailbox?” or “When was your carpet installed?” in the hope of sounding quirky and cute when, in fact, I was sending the message “I am a stalker, run while you can!” The point is, this idiotic stage that teen couples have invented to bridge the gap between “friends” and “friend friends” is called, perhaps the stupidest term I have ever heard, “talking”.

I am ashamed to admit the number of boys I have had talkationships with. I am this contradictory mix of stubborn and shrewd with empathy and the awful habit of always saying yes. A boy asks for my number, OF COURSE I give it to him. I would never embarrass anyone by saying no because I would never want it to be done to me. I know, I am a stupid girl, moving on. Since I am a female, I am wired with the mental stability of a grown woman and the emotional stability of a snail. Here I am assuming that snails tend to cry in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and angrily call their township whenever passing pathetic dead animals on the road. That being said, I have been in relationships with boys who do not know they were in a relationship with me. Unrequited love is still love. Can I get a woop woop?

For those of you who are pretending you do not understand how fickle this whole process is, I am going to pull out a real life example. This is sadly not hypothetical and please, feel sorry for me when you read this.

Fifteen years old. By this point I have been a teenager for a little over two years so I know everything already. I know about love because I have listened to every Taylor Swift song. I can relate to her song “Fifteen” even though I have not even kissed a boy. I’m all “IT’S A LOVE STORY BABY JUST SAY YES!” in the mirror every night. Totally mature enough for a relationship. I’m going to get my braces off soon and then LOOK OUT boys because I am going to charm the heck out of you with my Nancy Drew lingo and my exponential knowledge of Walt Disney. So here I am, the kind of girl who laughs when the Chinese nail salon people rub my feet, waiting-no- drooling in anticipation of my knight in shining armor to come and sweep me away. Side note: if you have not been told before, books give you unrealistic expectations and there is no Ned Nickerson or Jay Gatsby who is pining for you. If you find someone who has the sense not to pick his nose in public and he has nice teeth, grab him and do not let go.

So back to the point. Little Valerie was minding her own brace-face business when lo and behold I get a Facebook chat. You can laugh but seriously, a few years ago getting an IM chat from a boy totally counted as him making the first move. Well, it counted to fifteen year old me who did not have the sense to be picky. Anyway, I get a message from this boy who was not very cute but was really funny and I do not know what it is but I just want to hug boys who are funny because life is hard and confusing and I appreciate someone who can see it happy. Long story short we had a few more chat dates- that sounds even more pathetic when I write it- and then he gave me his phone number.

When a boy gives you his number it gives you all the power. I mean, you could have just accepted it to be polite and then you never have to actually call him. So I really can not blame anything that happens after that on anyone but myself. I text him a day or two later without saying who I am. That was my sneaky test. If he gave his number to girls all the time then he’d have to ask who I was, if not, then he would know it was me. He knew it was me. My one, poorly assimilated test had been passed. No more standards for him to meet. Bad idea.

In the following weeks I did not really get to know him at all. We would barely acknowledge each other in public and it was really exasperating and unhealthy. We talked on the phone for hours but there were always weird silences when we would realize we did not have much in common. He kind of hated everything. It is hard to relate to someone who only finds solace in computer games. (Yes I know, judge me later) Now, I complain a lot in my head, because I am the only one who has to hear but this dear boy liked to complain about everything. But I liked the attention he gave me and so I kept listening to stupid complaints and I actually endured a lecture on the difference between elves and knaves. Like what the heck? Boys, if you are going to be that weird, share it with your guy friends and please, spare us.

So eventually we “broke up”, if you could call it that. I remember calling my friends and feeling very “woe is me” that afternoon. I walked outside because it looked gloomy and went and sat on the swing in my backyard because it seemed like a bookish thing to do, and then I cried. I remember when it started to rain and I had the funniest, stupidest thought, “The sky is crying with me!” I barely even knew this boy but I think I liked feeling the heartbreak. In this weird way I finally understood a small part of what all those heroines in books were whining about.

What is the point of this? Of course you are asking yourself that right now. The point is that girls, the mysterious creatures we are, need to have a little more self-respect. You know what? I am eighteen now and I still think there are Noah Calhouns out there. Actually, I KNOW they are out there because of all the precious couple posts people feel inclined to plague us all with on every social media possible. I have not kissed a lot of frogs, but I have hugged a lot of frogs, held a few frog’s hands, and talked to so many frogs on Facebook chat that when my charming significant other decides to grace me with his presence I may throw a punch at his jaw for making me entertain amphibians for so long.


Ms. Ranting and Raving

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