Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 2 - Mostly Walking

Times and events have been changed to protect the memory of the author. This is coming from a memory almost one year old that had no notes to go off of. Fortunately, I don't think there's anyone here who can really argue with my representation of what happened.

Tuesday was our busy Disney day. As I said, this is when all the kids had their clinics. As luck would have it, the drill team's clinic was the earliest. Both Arielle and Stephanie were in the drill team and I wanted to see if they'd let me observe as a chaperone. Lisa was the only odd-man-out in our room as she was the choir's pianist. However, we convinced the choir teacher to let her go with us. The band kids also had morning clinics, but the choir's wasn't until the afternoon so she would've had to spend the morning virtually alone.

We woke up at some insane and inhumane hour (around six, I believe -- I think Arielle got up around 5:30 or 5:45 so that she could be presentable for the world) and drove into Backstage Disney which was on the complete opposite side of the park from our inn (this is noteworthy later). Our bus was only momentarily detained to be sniffed out by a drug dog and for the undercarriage to be checked out with what looked like a giant dentist tool. This was presumably to prevent us from sneaking any terrorist devices in under the guise of a high school trip.

We were met by a Backstage Cast Member (one of the many overly cheerful 19-year olds Disney employs for just such purposes) who smiled so sweetly half of us got cavities. Unfortunately, they only let a handful of adults in with the kids and since Lisa and I were not parents, we were among the first culled. Herein lied our problem.

By this time it was around seven some odd in the morning and (if I recall correctly) the park didn't open until nine. We were given two options: walk back to the hotel, or wait where we were until the park opened and we could go inside. So either sit on some concrete benches for over an hour, or walk ALL THE WAY AROUND the outside of the park (part of which entailed crossing a freeway.) Amazingly enough, it took us quite a few minutes of debate to figure out that trying to cross a freeway on foot would be a bad idea. Lisa and I decided we would go back to the hotel to nap and recover from the shock of getting up so early for nothing (even though this was against the rules -- students were not allowed to return to the hotel during the day.) So wait we did.

A half hour later the band kids arrived in their bus and we gathered a few more parents who couldn't go in with their kids. Finally, at nine we were let into the park! We came in through Toon Town and it felt like we were seeing Disneyland naked. Toon Town opens an hour after the main park and there were only a couple of cast members sweeping up. When we passed into the main park, we received several wary looks from parents already queuing up with loaded strollers for a chance to see Mickey's house. Crowds of people surged into the park and we headed out as fast as we could.

The next few hours went by pretty fast. Arielle and the rest of the team got back around 11 (an hour later than they were s'posed to due to some huge drama with their bus driver being unable to find the exit, arguing with the bubbly cast member, and causing traffic jams Backstage) and we headed into the park. I'm not sure what we did but I believe we only had about an hour or so before we had to be back at the inn so everyone could get ready to be in the parade! They had to wear all black as they walked down Main Street in the middle of the afternoon and wouldn't be able to come back to shower (the travesty!) The parade didn't actually start till about an hour after they had to be on site, so I deemed another nap was necessary before I would meander into the park and take the obligatory photos. However, when the time came I found that more sleep was much more interesting than a Main Street parade. Come to find out, to the disappointment of the kids, they were the whole parade! That's it and nothing else. When it was all said and done and they had all changed, Arielle called me and I finally made it into the park.

There was only time for a couple rides before we had to be back in Toon Town to head to the choir clinic. This was the funnest part of the day for me. Since their choir was so small, I got to go as one of the students (I'm sure I passed as a 17-year old.) The clinic consisted of us singing three different songs and recording them with the animation! We did "Reflection" from Mulan, "Hawaiian Roller Coast Ride" from Lilo & Stitch, and "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. It was so awesome and I'm glad I decided to be a chaperone just for that experience.

Afterwards, we rode and absolutely loved Soarin' Over California. Oh, the citrus smells! My memory gets fuzzy from here, I think we bounced around from group to group and tried to find people who were like-minded in the rides they wanted to attend. Arielle wanted to go on Thunder Mountain again but by the time we made it there, it was closed for maintenance -- so it was on to Indiana Jones!...which had too long of a line. By this time it was only Arielle and I and the park would be closing in a couple hours. This put some people (who shall not be named) in a less than pleasant mood since it felt like there'd been no fun at all that day.

However the mood was quickly turned around with a visit to some much-anticipated teacups. While we were in line we made a call home and left a message on the answering machine. Before leaving Nampa, Mom had requested that we call her at the teacups so she could hear the "Unbirthday Song." As I understand it, the message we left mostly just sounded like a bunch of garbled noise, but the mission was completed!






By this time my feet began to SERIOUSRY hurt. I had made the mistake of bringing shoes that (apparently) only LOOKED athletic and supportive, and I couldn't keep my suffering (or limping) hidden any longer. Even though I desperately wanted to after admonishing Arielle's shoe choice the entire week prior saying, "You're going to be in so much pain and regret listening to me."

That night, we again all fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 1 - Destination Disneyland

Chronicling the events of March 22nd - March 27th. The Nampa High School band, color guard, and choir took a trip to Disneyland and I hitched a ride as a chaperone (ha!).

The week before Disneyland went by entirely too fast. It was filled with such grand schemes as Do My Laundry and Vacuum My Room. All of these fell to the wayside due to Watching Ace of Cakes and Sleeping. I did, however, manage the most important task of creating an incredibly detailed packing list (Huzzah!).

On Friday night, everything got folded and creased and crammed into a duffel and a backpack and was put in the car, ready to go.

On Sunday afternoon (around 2:30), happy nerves were jangling as Arielle and I loaded everything into the van (including the 2 packs of bottled war I bought for the dehydrated chil'uns).



Just as we were about to pull out and head to the high school, Dad pulled in so we were all able to go over together.

In the parking lot it was mass hysteria. Piles of luggage and a Mongol-esque horde of beslippered, be-jammied, bespectacled band kids.

About a half hour later the kids were given the go-ahead to load their stuff onto the buses but were strictly told NOT to enter them (Arielle got a brief reprimand when I told her to get on the bus so I could take a picture). This order was promptly ignored by all those who wanted to claim the coveted back seats. Another half hour and we were finally on our way at 4pm.

Arielle saved me a seat in the back of the bus (away from the oh so uncool chaperones) and I filled out my first official chaperone duty by passing out schedules and phone numbers to all and sundry. I sat next to one of Arielle's friends, Chelsea, and Arielle sat across the aisle with Lisa (who we shared a room with).



Getting our room situated was a fiasco of its own. Way back in the early planning stages, Arielle and I made sure to request to be in a room together with her friends, as opposed to sending me off into the awkward and stuffy world of rooming with three chaperone strangers. Her choir teacher said that'd be fine and as time went by, I reminded Arielle to remind him. About a month before the trip, I got a call from a fellow chaperone (a lady I'd known from my parents' ward) saying that I'd be in a room with her.

"I thought I was going to be in a room with Arielle and her friends. We cleared it with her choir teacher."

"Adults can't be in rooms with students, he probably didn't know. If it was up to me, it'd be no problem. I'm not worried about you."

"Well, it was going to be me, Arielle, her friend Lisa, and your daughter Stephanie."

"I have no problem with that. Maybe if we could get a letter of permission from Lisa's mom? I'll ask the committee."

I had met Lisa's mom before at a joint birthday party held in December and didn't think that'd be an issue. So two permission notes and a committee meeting later and we were in. Chanel had been authorized. Now back to the bus.

The drive from Nampa, Idaho to Anaheim, California was very long and did not hold much sleep. Within the first half hour, the bus quieted down and everyone took a nap till about 6:15pm. Then they started playing the movies. First was "Ratatouille": No problems here, except for when the monitor directly over Arielle went on the fritz. Second was "College Road Trip": Ugh. An uber-stupid movie about a girl and her father growing closer together while checking out some colleges. Trust me, awful. There was a smart pig and a sing-a-long on a Japanese tour bus.

Sometime around here we stopped in McDermitt for a potty break and literally overwhelmed the one-clerk convenience store. I didn't stick around to see how panicked his expression was because I was getting claustrophobic. It was one massive wall of high school students from the $5.99 movie bin to the fluorescent energy drinks (which the students were NOT allowed to have on the bus). The more daring entered the Say When casino to use the bathroom where they were strictly monitored by the staff and emerged smelling of stale smoke.

At least one kid tried to sneak an energy drink back on the bus in the seat of pants but was caught by his mother.

After "College Road Trip", the real torture started with "Extreme Days". A movie about four college guys who travel across the story doing several EXTREME sports. Basically one bad action montage after another tied together VERY loosely with hardly a plot. It was worse than a Mary Kate and Ashely Olsen movie. Arielle made the comment, "This movie isn't changing at all, in fact it's getting more of the same." I suppose the guys felt they were getting their revenge on the girls for "College Road Trip", but I think basically everyone suffered for the 3 hours it took for both movies to finish. That was the last film of the night.



By this time, several people were already in the aisle sleeping. As it got darker it became one unending line of sleepers. People wishing to use the bathroom (obviously not in their right minds *shudder*) had to walk across the hand rests and use other creative acrobatics to reach it. Thankfully, even though there was one group of rather idiotic boys, we never had a problem with anyone being uber-loud while everyone else tried to sleep.

We switched drivers in Lovelock around 9pm.

At one point during the night, Arielle decided to try her hand at sleeping on the floor.

Without a blanket, this was quite cold. It soon was discovered that Arielle on the floor was not a good idea. Suddenly a whole barrage of people had to use the bathroom and despite everyone else in the aisle, Arielle's presence seemed to be the biggest hindrance. The next thing we knew, the bus was pulled over on the side of the road. Apparently 2 out of our 4 buses had headed off to San Francisco (with flowers in their hair) and we had to wait for them to come back. Arielle got off the floor and we were on our way.

The bus remained quiet pretty much the whole night, but that didn't mean that we got sleep. Come on, we were on a BUS. Though both Arielle and I agree that the best sleep we got was when our seatmates both moved onto the floor and we could stretch out a bit.

Around 8:30am we arrived in Norco and everyone piled off to find some breakfast.

Arielle, Lisa, and I wandered around Albertsons but came out dissatisfied and made our way across a busy California intersection to McDonald's (despite being unfit for the public due to spending 15.5 hours on a bus).

When we reached Anaheim, the entire bus exploded with excitement and Arielle practically ate her camera with joy.
video
We stopped at a Food 4 Less to pick up snacks for the week, but I don't think anyone was feeling hungry. Then it was to the Anaheim Plaza Hotel and Suites parking lot. Unfortunately, it wasn't check-in time yet, so everyone tried to freshen up as best they could. Rolls were taken, tickets were passed out, and 4 busloads of high schoolers with their third wind descended on Disneyland en masse at 11am.



Arielle, Lisa, me, and our other roomie Stephanie stayed together as we headed in. I don't think Arielle could've stopped smiling if her life depended on it. Entering the gates was just as fabulous and magical as I remember. Nothing beats your first day.




Without any hesitation, we headed off to Thunder Mountain Railroad, catching a brief glimpse of a familiar face.


Here's a little information. Most Disney rides have what's called a Fast Pass lane. Basically, you go to a Fast Pass kiosk and print off a ticket. This gives you a time to return to the ride and lets you into a separate line which moves much faster than the regular. You can't pick up a Fast Pass to another ride for about an hour or two, so the lines stay pretty short. Arielle and I were unaware of this. We stood in the regular line at Thunder Mtn for a while and then noticed that one line was shorter and cut into it. About halfway to the ride, there was an employee standing. Arielle and Lisa walked past him. Two girls that had gotten between us then walked past and were promptly stopped and asked for their Fast Pass tickets. While he was doing this, Stephanie and I continued past. We soon began to notice that we were skipping ahead of dozens of people and before we knew it we were at the ride. Our first ride at Disneyland and we were already breaking rules.





From there we went to The Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and the Indiana Jones ride (our longest line of the day). Speaking of Indiana Jones, we heard a funny story about a friend of one of the students. Apparently, he had been on the Indiana Jones ride so many times that he had memorized all the twists and turns. He managed to get on with a bunch of foreign tourists and grab the driver's seat. Then he spent the whole ride pretending like he was the one driving. When they got to the end wear the car stalls and the ball is coming down, he pretended like he was trying to start the car again and apparently all of the tourists were yelling and trying to help since they thought he was actually driving! Hee hee. That'd be so awesome, but hard to orchestrate perfectly.

Next was the Jungle Cruise. We made it safely past the tiger, hippos, and piranha, but it was the baby elephant at the end who finally did me in.



Shortly after taking this picture, he sprayed me directly in the back.

It was now 2pm and we had to be back at the hotel at 3pm to check in. On our way out of the park to lunch, we saw another familiar face.


They gave us 3 hours to check in and have a bit of a rest. Everyone took showers and got all dolled up.

Unfortunately, this did not prevent Lisa from spilling Cheez-Its all over Arielle.

She and I were going to meet with Teresa and company around 7pm so we got special permission to wait at the hotel.

Teresa picked us up with Grandma, Tali, and Jared and we headed over to an italian restaurant called Buca de Beppo. There we met up with Grandpa, Nathan, Solomon, and Gracie. It was so awesome to get to see everybody. Especially when they told us that Sarah, Hannah, her boyfriend Chris, Sarah K., Emma, and Isaac would also be joining us. Inside the restuarant, the walls were absolutely covered with pictures and every horizontal surface had some sort of statue on it; all very Italy. The wait staff first led us to a room with a large round table with a rather creepy bust of the Pope as a centerpiece.

Unfortunately, this was too small and we ended up elsewhere. It was really a blast to just sit and chat and eat with the whole motley crew. We decided that it was close enough to three of our birthdays to convince the server to bring us a couple slices of free cake.

We hugged and kissed and loved everyone there and finally hitched a ride back to the park around 10pm.

All of the students were to stay in the park till close (11pm) and get back to the hotel by 11:30pm. Since we still had an hour left before closing and Arielle was a student, we had no choice but to go on into Disneyland. We were dropped off in Downtown Disney (the opposite side from where we entered) and hiked our way past all the shops. By this time, my feet were already hurting. I hated to admit this after getting on Arielle's case all the past week for planning on spending the whole time in her moccasins, but nevertheless it was so. A curse upon my shoes for looking athletic and turning out to be no such thing! An hour gave us just enough to time to walk through all the shops, get on Thunder Mountain Railroad again, and then head back to the hotel.

I stayed in the lobby with the rest of the chaperones for the first of our nightly meetings.

They briefly went over the schedule for the next day (Tuesday) because that was the day all of the students had clinics. They were to go to Backstage Disney and meet with top-notch conductors and instructors and get a chance to learn a bit of music/choreography. Then they asked for volunteers to tape the rooms. I, being in a room with three students, did not volunteer since I would also have to be taped in. I'm not sure on the exact technique, but it involved both masking tape and packing tape. As far as I know, there wasn't a problem the whole week with kids sneaking out. I think everyone was too exhausted anyway.

We all finally got to bed, some of us realizing we should probably look for sunscreen the next day. I got up to turn off the bathroom light and by the time it was off, Lisa and Stephanie were out. I got into bed with Arielle and we argued briefly about the blanket, but by the time I rolled over she was humming in her sleep. It didn't take me long to follow. I wore a nose strip the first night to prevent myself from snoring but never did after because I was too tired to get one. No one ever bothered to wake up and be annoyed by me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Confectionary Chaos

This month two of my friends from work had their birthday on the same day (well, their birthdays are always on the same day the month doesn't really matter, except that next month it wouldn't be their birthday it'd just be a day and...oh, never mind): My mentor Roxanna and my zombie friend Sarah. Roxanna loves to make and decorate cakes. She always goes over and above on her family's birthdays and brings in cakes to work all the time (My birthday cake last year was particularly delicious). In fact, March 4th ended up being the birthday of four people at work. Roxanna felt obligated to do something, but she didn't relish the idea of making a cake on her own birthday. So, zombie friend Kellyn and I decided we'd make cupcakes and decorate them! I like to draw cartoons and she is quite a painter so we thought it would be a breeze and a blast. I think you see where this is going. The following are a few of the cupcakes that we made. As a preface, most of these shown here were done by me because by the time I took the pictures, Kellyn had left with her half to bring to work the next day.

We start out pretty traditional; a few balloons, a little confetti...



Everyone's initials so they feel that personal touch. Oh so important in a work environment.



And then, of course, there's the iconic birthday...ladybug?



And I really didn't want the guys to feel left out either.



It was at this point that the whole "birthday" idea went right out the window
and everything went haywire.
Let's see if you can guess what the next two are:

A walrus! Wishing joy and presents on your special day.
This cupcake actually does make a trifle bit of sense.
Well, only in that it's a private joke between me and my zombie friends.



A Phantom of the Opera mask! What, you don't see it? It's the white.
Yeah...I've got not explanations.


Sometimes creativity is not the best when it comes to cupcakes.
This came about from a response to the question,
"What should I put on this one?"

The Holly Jolly Birthday Cyclops! Doesn't he look cheery?


There were even a couple that were so Jackson Pollock-esque there was no hope.
They simply got covered in sprinkles.



Amazingly enough, we never received much of a response out of these abominations beyond a "thanks" and "delicious". So I guess there's hope for humanity after all (though I do admit that as soon as the cupcakes were down, I took the Cyclops myself. I couldn't just leave that out there!).


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Zombie Addendum

Well, I no longer have any hope of lasting the zombie holocaust. My two great invasion resources have left me with some doubts. We found ourselves talking about the undead again (how these things come about I have no idea) and they both had a story.

Last Halloween, Kellyn was walking around in downtown Boise when all of the sudden she saw 60-some-odd people shuffling down the street awkwardly in tattered clothes and with (could it be?) blood on their faces. The Apocalypse had arrived! This was it! Thankfully, she already had her plan in place and immediately...froze. A few seconds later she realized that this was the annual Boise Zombie Walk. Don't worry, I'd never heard of it either.

One night, Sarah was at home with her family. Their front door has panels of glass on either side. She was walking past the door, when out of the corner of her eye she could see a small group of slowly moving shapes making their way down the moonlit street. The time had come! The end was near! Thankfully, she had her plan in place and immediately...her knees buckled. A few seconds later she realized that it was carolers.

So, there you have it. Both of my zombie experts FREEZE when faced with the possible reality. I may consider changing their names back in my phone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Paltry Effort At Best

I realize that this is a cheap shot, but I am a sucker for the Music Shuffle surveys.

1) IF SOMEONE SAYS, "IS THIS OKAY," YOU SAY?
"The sun has gone down and the moon has come up, and long ago somebody left with the cup."
- The Distance by Cake

Such a pessimist am I! Apparently I never win. *Les sigh*


2) WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
"He kissed me in a way that I've never been kissed before."
- And Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals

Umm, does this mean that I'm very loving, or very easy?


3) WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
"It's all your fault I screen my phone calls."
- Spiderwebs by No Doubt

Bring on the stalkers!


4)HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
"Don't you wake up yet, cause soon I'll be leaving you...but you won't be leaving me."
- As You Sleep by Something Corporate

Oh, how true it is. I may have left my bed, but the thought of my bed hasn't left me.


5) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
"The faster we're falling, we're stopping and stalling. We're running in circles again."
- In Too Deep by Sum 41

You leave me and my multiple personalities alone. We like curves anyway.


6) WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
"Yeah, yeah. My heart's in a whirl."
- Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka

Wow...there really wasn't much to pick out of that song. But boy do I love calendars!


7) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
"Dear God, you made many many poor people. I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor -- but it's no great honor either. So what would've been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"
- If I Were A Rich Man performed by Zero Mostel

Hee hee. I'm letting this stand alone.


8) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
"Now, what starts with the letter C?"
- C Is For Cookie by Cookie Monster

ME! I start with C!!


9) WHAT IS 2+2?
"Once I was the king of Spain...and now I work at the Pizza Pizza."
- King of Wingo by They Might Be Giants

Prolly owing to my inability to add two and two.


10) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
"There's a man who leads a life of danger...Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow."
- Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers

Being my friend is fraught with peril and intrigue.


11) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
" California dreamin' on such a winter's day."
- California Dreamin' performed by The Standards

Because, as Arielle and I well know, everything of value comes from California.


12) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
"I won't worry my life away."
- The Remedy by Jason Mraz

Or chronicle it apparently.


13) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
"I dunno. Well, maybe I'm in love. I think about it every time I think about it...can't stop thinking about it."
- Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows

I swear I'm not desperate.


14) WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
"Birds flying high. You know how I feel."
- Feelin' Good performed by Michael Bublé

*Wink*


15) WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
"In this life, one thing counts: in the bank, large amounts."
- You've Got To Pick a Pocket or Two performed by Clive Revill

I would argue that I'm not that materialistic, but then Mom would comment.


16) WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
"All the girls stomp your feet like this!"
- Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani

Yee-ah, boyeez! My reception will be off the hizzle!


17) WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
"I walk a lonely road: the only one that I have ever known. Don't know where it goes, but it's only me and I walk alone."
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day

That's just plain depressing.


18) WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
"You and I in a little toy shop."
- 99 Red Balloons by Nena

This sounds like a fun date. I'll totarry sign up for it.


19) WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Like I'm gonna tell you!? Ah well, here's a hint I s'pose:

Surfer Girl by The Beach Boys


20) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
"Won't you take me to Funkytown?"

Oh you best believe I'm the life of the party.
*insert confetti, streamers, and cake here*

Friday, January 30, 2009

In Case Of...

I knew that I had had too much when I woke up in a cold sweat. Sure, an occasional one every now and then was okay, but lately I'd been swimming in them. At first I thought, "What harm could just a couple do?" But that was before I was brought right to the brink of death. It's not like I was completely unaware of it before. It just seemed that lately, I'd been surrounded. I think it all started with a couple of friends from work. We didn't really have the same backgrounds or standards, but hey, they were nice girls and a load of fun. It began at Sarah's house.

I suppose you never really know who your friends are until you're all sitting together in a living room and there's a lull in the conversation. What pops into your head? Abraham Lincoln? What on earth did I get on my shirt? It was a sunny winter afternoon and Kellyn said, "So . . . I've thought about what would happen if there were zombies. I have a plan." I hardly had a chance to process the ellipses forming in my brain before Sarah followed up with, "Yeah, me too." Apparently I have lived a sheltered life. A life in which I have never had to worry or prepare for the oncoming threat of the evil undead. I never even realized that this was an eventuality that I should be contemplating.
But Sarah and Kellyn? They're ready.



Kellyn's plan involved being on high ground near the train depot (giving her a good lookout for the approaching corpses) and hunkering down. From there, the conversation turned to the best ways of killing zombies . . .


. . . and then Kellyn mentioned she also had a plan in place in case of a nuclear apocalypse. Not being one to ignore valuable resources, their names in my cell phone were changed to "In Case of Zombies" and "In Case of Armageddon".

But this was just the beginning of the zombie infestation. One moment Kellyn, Sarah, and I careened around giant mushrooms playing Mario Kart, and the next I held a plastic gun in my hand and stared at the logo for House of the Dead. You've probably seen this game in an arcade. Blue and red plastic guns, pictures of rotting corpses dripping in green gore, and "Insert Coin to Play" blinking at you. I gave saving the world a mighty effort, but didn't even make it down the block.




I flatly refused to play the next game: Left 4 Dead. Just watching the opening movie was enough for me. Fast-moving shadows. Shrieks in the darkness. Rain pouring down. Frankly, I had a hard time watching them play it. Animated decaying bodies looking to eat you are bad enough, but give them speed and I'm a nervous twitching lump.



I thought the onslaught was over. But then came Christmas.

Aaron and Melanie came over with their presents. He had gifted her with the board game Last Night On Earth: The Zombie Game. A couple days later and we were hunkered around my kitchen table with the soundtrack playing in the background. I was the hunky quarterback; Dad, the sheriff; Arielle, the farmer's daughter; Melanie, the priest; and Aaron . . . the zombies. Fifteen minutes later, all the zombies were in the cornfield and Arielle and I were freaking out wondering what they were planning. It became even scarier when halfway through the game they came out, en masse. Many bullets, wounds, and bursts of panic later, the hunky quarterback . . .



. . . found himself separated and alone in the police station surrounded by zombies and with only a pistol. I almost peed my pants. Luckily, in true horror movie fashion, I was able to save us all and barely escape with my life. I thought at last I could have some peace.

Until one morning, I awoke in a cold sweat.

I had just had my first ever zombie nightmare. I had not had a nightmare in years and certainly not a paranormal one in decades. I remember it was night. The whole family met up in some remote part of Boise on a small, dusty hilltop. Tufts of desert grass moved in the breeze as we sat around a rickety picnic table. We took turns explaining our plans for dealing with the oncoming undead. I didn't have a plan and just expressed my love and that I would miss everyone. Melanie agreed. Slowly, silently, we all rose and went our separate ways. (Side note: Family, if we are ever on the eve of a zombie apocalypse, we are NOT to split up!) I got in my car and I remember having just sheer panic. I had no idea where to go, what to do, and a desolate feeling thudded in my gut -- I knew that there was nothing to do, nowhere to hide.

I pulled out of the house's driveway (location had changed due to the nature of dreams) just as a man in a sports car thundered in, tires screeching. He jumped out of his car and approached me, a crazy look in his eyes. I rolled down my window. "Is it coming?"

"No," he replied in a deadpan voice. "It's already here."

As I drove down the street, it became more crowded. People walked around in a dazed state, clothes disheveled and panic in their eyes. Fear tightened my chest and my heart pounded. They were almost here and I was getting closer.

. . .

. . .

. . .

I woke up. This was one of the few times in my life when a dream continued after I laid back down.

It was the next morning and the family was all back at the house. Miraculously, we were all alive and somehow the whole thing was over. It took me forever to coax the cats out of the tree and back into the house. I caught glimpses in their minds of what they had seen. We began to hear stories of how people survived. One group of gentlemen staying at a hotel were given one of the only keys to the high-rise top-floor king suite. They spent the whole night with the doors locked and the lights off; watching the chaos below from the windows. We all knew millions of people had been killed. I began to compile a list of people to call to find out who had made it through the night.

Ugh. What a vibe to go to work on.