“Hi, Mom. What? No, about 2. I’m on my way–I’ll be there soon.”

Smack, went the phone, as soon as that last word was out of Michelle’s mouth.

We were driving back from Eastport 16 Cinemas on 82nd. We’d just seen Pan’s Labyrinth, an incredibly brilliant and beautiful movie. I had turned sixteen the previous night. The sky was blue, and even though the traffic had been jammed, we were both feeling great.

Michelle, however, really had to go to the bathroom. And though we had passed countless fast food restaurants and grocery stores that would have had public restrooms, we pulled into the parking lot of the Milwaukie Marketplace and stepped into the Starbucks. I perused the selection of coffee mugs and half-attentively dropped some eaves on what seemed to be a job interview. Michelle came out, and we drove to my house. We kissed in the driveway, then I got out of the car, ready to go inside and relax for a little while, maybe go out and get my new computer case.

And all of a sudden, a dozen of my friends came running across the lawn from behind my house, at the head of the group Floof, Mark, and Nick.

Like that, I fell into shock.

They paraded me indoors. Nick carried me on his shoulders, and I saw that they’d completely decorated my entryway with streamers and balloons. Food covered the kitchen counter.

And there were twelve of my friends hanging around my house, smiling and laughing.

Surprise parties just don’t  happen. They’re things of movies, of television. People don’t actually hold surprise parties; yet, here I was, in the midst of one.

So we laughed. And we ate. And we talked, and I opened gifts, and we played Risk.

It was grand.

To be honest, I haven’t felt nearly as loved by so many people as I did then. To realize that, for the last week, my friends had been planning this surprise party in order to make my happy for my sixteenth birthday… wow. It was spectacular, and I loved it.

My friends: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Due to my remarkable obliviousness, I had no idea anything was going on until you raced across my yard. It was a fantastic day, and an excellent sixteenth birthday party. I really appreciate that you took the time to put this together and then come to it. Thank you so much. You guys don’t know how happy that made me. :)

I’m truly blessed to have friends like you.

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Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there are a lot of silly urban legends out there. In fact, chances are, you haven’t noticed, since there are a lot that have been adopted as fact, even though they’re no such thing.

Being who I am, I figured I’d address some of the most prevalent myths. With the aid of Snopes.com and Google, I bring you three of the most common urban legends.

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Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Just a quick note here.

Don’t be fooled by what Green Day says. You don’t want to be a minority.

A rebel, maybe. But being a bona fide minority isn’t anywhere near what that song cracks it up to be.

Okaythatsallbye.

I don’t think of myself as too much of a Japanese culture freak. I don’t read any manga, watch any anime, or own any blatantly Japanese video games. I don’t draw manga, either, and I think it’s really quite ridiculous to attach “-chan” or “-kun” to the names of my American friends. However, I’ve got to come clean on one account.

There are some Japanese snack foods that are absolutely delicious.

One of my favourite Japanese snacks is called “Yan Yan”. It consists of a bunch of biscuit sticks in a container that also holds a tub of frosting. The sticks, when dipped in the frosting, make a great-tasting snack. Of course, being a Japanese product, it has potential for Engrish.

During this summer, I noticed that this potential had been realized. I had purchased two containers of Yan Yan on a recent trip to Uwajimaya, a local Oriental supermarket, and when I opened one up, I found the most bizarre thing on my biscuit sticks: Little icons of animals had been baked on, along with odd sayings.

Being the analytical, records-oriented person I am, I took note of the animals and their respective sayings. For your enjoyment (or perhaps bewilderment), I present to you the Yan Yan animal sayings.

Sheep: Wool sweaters
Bat: Only in the night
Octopus: Lucky number: 8
Squirrel: Your best friend
Snail: Snail mail?
Fox: Beware of lies
Cow: Muuuuu
Stag beetle: Love it.
Starfish: Star + Fish
Goat: You are lucky today.
Rhinoceros: Think big
Whale: Biggesy (sic) mammal
Chick: Lucky colour: yellow
Horse: Gallop away
Chicken: Kokekokko
Zebra: Herbivore
Beetle: Lucky colour: brown
Squid: Black ink

I’m a fan of the stag beetle’s cryptic “Love it”, or perhaps the simple “Herbivore” for the zebra.

Oh, Engrish. You never fail to amuse.

I was fairly stressed yesterday about the show. Lend Me A Tenor, the first play of the year, went up yesterday evening, and for once, I seriously felt worried about my personal performance. I was also concerned a bit about sound—we had dropped Hammerhands earlier that morning due to urgent, unforeseeable family matters for him, and trained Boy for most of the day.

I was freakin’ out.

I didn’t feel solid. My character was not set in stone, and things were still uncertain and unclear. I was going to be going to play with the character I had, not the character I wanted, and that really worried me.

But I figured that I would find a way to work things out. I talked to Kelley, the director, who helped me understand what my performances in rehearsal had been missing. With that understanding, I changed into costume, so that I could begin feeling comfortable as my character, who had just undergone a moderate revamp. I walked around stage as he would. I looked out into the audience, blurring details out so as to keep the fourth wall intact. I did everything I could to be comfortable and ready, and to sharpen my focus.

Then we started.

It can never be said that the department does not have dedicated, amazingly talented individuals in it. Boy pulled off the sound with impeccable skill, even though the job had been thrust upon him less than twelve hours earlier. There were a couple of mistakes, but nothing terrible. Boy did far better than any of us had expected, and I, for one, was absolutely awed and surprised. My hat goes off to that kid. He showed his true colours.

When I got on stage, things felt… right. The audience was laughing themselves to pieces, so the energy was naturally high. In addition. I had honed my focus and character to a spot so tight that everything seemed to work. Most of the problems I had been called on in rehearsal were all of a sudden brushed away. I was thrilled.

The show finished. We ran both curtain calls.

And then we were done, all with humongous grins of triumph and exhilaration on our faces.

Second show is tonight. :)