Blog of the Year

One year ago, give or take a week, I opened up my stagnant WordPress account and created a new blog: Just Freaking Haasome. After selecting a theme, choosing an avatar and creating an “About Me” page, I opened up a new post and began what was only supposed to be a bimonthly school newspaper class project.

But then, I loved it.

Before that day in August, I wasn’t really a “finisher.” An idea generator, sure. But usually, I would get halfway through a project and fizzle out. My life was a series of short obsessions, quickly replaced by new ones as the previous grew dull.

But this blog is different. Here I capture, collect and organize my short-term obsessions, categorize them under the appropriate tag, sort them in a monthly archive. This blog is my weekly public diary. My stress-reliever and constant companion. I would say “friend,” but I don’t want people thinking that I’m friends with my blog. That would be weird.

Thank you to everyone who has read and shared in this experience so far, and to everyone who may stumble upon my little WordPress in the future.

Before starting another school year and another wave of blog posts, I thought it would be a good idea briefly to recap the past 52 weeks. Here are my top 10 most popular posts of the year, by view count:

10. I’ve never been grounded, and other advantages of a socially awkward childhoodI could count on one hand how many friends I had at any one time before high school. That has its advantages.

9. Cry Because It happenedAdvice for accepting change and saying goodbye to close friends.

8. I’m a Big Kid Now: Sometimes I look back at my life and smile at how silly and naive I was. Then I realize that I’m looking back at literally yesterday.

7. #Tatted: I got a tattoo in Grand Cayman during Spring Break 2013. I still don’t regret it.

6. This Probably Should’ve Just Gone in My Diary: I’m insecure. Don’t know what for.

5.  Did He See Me? I Think He Saw Me.: Sneaky pictures of Bostonian boys being beautiful.

4. My Brother: The Charmed Genius MetrosexualMy brother, Ian, is an athletic, brilliant, lucky, red-haired, freckle-faced 12-year-old.

3. My Life as an (Almost) AthleteI tried to be athletic for a long time. I am finally coming to terms with my innate clumsiness.

2. 7 Reasons Social Media Sucks SometimesSocial media is great. Except when it’s not.

1. Oculus: Blind Movie ReviewThe only reason this is ranked No. 1 is because I tagged “Oculus” effectively. But, it’s been viewed the most times, so here it is. Basically, horror movies don’t sit well with me.

 

Confessions of a Mostly Open Book

I’m not a huge fan of having secrets. I actually enjoy disclosing information about my life. Possibly to a fault. I am an open book—blog, rather. To clarify, that doesn’t mean I don’t keep secrets others confide in me. I keep cats in bag and ships unsunk like nobody’s business. Most of the secrets I have, I keep to protect other people. That being said, I’ve come up with a list of a few I can share without embarrassing anyone but myself. And possibly my family.

I wear men’s deodorant. If anyone has walked the hallways at school and questioned the source of the distant fragrance “Old Spice FRESH: High Endurance,” that would probably be me. It works so much better than most of the women’s brands I’ve tried. At least my confession wasn’t that I didn’t wear deodorant.

Sometimes I put a bunch of undergarments on the blades of my fan and watch them fly off when I flip the switch. Have I confessed that I alleviate boredom in strange ways yet? Because I do.

I know every word to “White and Nerdy.” I’m actually pretty proud of that. But I’m confessing it anyway so more people can know.

I often go 1-2 weeks without shaving my legs. Screw social conventions, man. As long as I can’t see the hairs flowing in the wind, I don’t mind. If you’ve seen me walking around in 102 degree heat with a pair of jeans glued to my body with perspiration, now you know why.

I played with toys until 6th grade. I had a special corner in my room dedicated to my tiny plastic figures and their dramatic lives. Toward the end of that stage in my childhood, I had a collection of monkey-shaped erasers that “lived” my own personal soap opera.

I filled out a mock “Teacher of the Month” slip for a teacher I strongly disliked. It basically praised the instructor for reminding me of my incompetence in front of my peers and really fostering that 1890 one room school house environment of public humiliation for academic shortcomings. I turned that slip in to the office, too. No regrets.

I’ve never been drunk or high. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m paranoid about how I would behave in any sort of altered state. The other part is my morals and all that jazz. But yes, contrary to the surprisingly popular belief, I have never smoked marijuana.

I’ve eaten more Craisins in the past two weeks than most do in their entire lives. What do you get when you overly process sugar and cranberries? Perfection. Beauty. The god above all dried fruit. In other, probably unrelated news, I’ve gained 3 pounds.

I could count on one hand the number of friends I had at any one time until I entered high school. That’s probably part of the reason I interacted so much with monkey-shaped erasers.

I would post more if other people cared less, but a blog post probably isn’t the best platform to disclose most of this sort of information, and I don’t have time to get permission from everybody.

Barnabas on the Lake Review

With my trusty (but rather dilapidated) suitcase packed tightly with t-shirts unfit for the public eye and athletic shorts about  one inch short of the fingertip length requirement, I lumbered out of my parents’ car and joined my fellow youth groupers next to the faded, air-conditionless yellow school bus that would be our home for the next four-and-a-half hours. We were Camp Barnabas bound. Well, sort of.

Back story: Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp in Purdy, Missouri that offers the full church camp experience for people with disabilities. Each week-long term is geared toward a particular subset of disability–there’s a Down’s Syndrome week, a wheelchair week, etc. The term I attended was for adults with developmental delays. Each camper has his or her own teenage counselor, called a C.I.A. (Christian in Action), and each cabin has two or three college-aged staffers. Sometimes cabins with lower functioning campers have “floaters,” who are basically C.I.As without their own campers that double up to assist C.I.As with campers who need more attention than that which comes with the standard one-to-one ratio. Because of its unique mission, Barnabas’ waiting lists are longer than my early childhood Christmas wishlists–that means they’re very long. With its twentieth anniversary summer in full swing, Barnabas opened up a new location at Point 11, a Christian camp and retreat center near Shell Knob, Missouri. Its first term there was last week, and that’s where my group headed: Barnabas on the Lake.

From the moment they arrived, Barnabas veterans–myself included–looked around and realized Barnabas on the Lake was NOT Camp Barnabas in Purdy. Barnabas veterans–myself included–are very insightful about these things. Here is my review of Barnabas on the Lake.

Bathrooms: 2/10. If the toilet seat is down, don’t look. Do not look. No matter how badly you need to relieve yourself of the three glasses of orange juice you guzzled at breakfast, do not lift the lid. It’s not worth it. I believe there are colors so disgusting that even Crayola refused to include them in its 152-count box, and those colors can be found in the water underneath a closed toilet seat at Camp Barnabas on the Lake. Don’t look. You will never be able to eat again.

Smell in Cabins: 3/10. In my very conservative estimate, about eighty percent of all campers at Camp Barnabas or Barnabas on the Lake can’t quite hold their bladders through the night. Even though a great person called a “Cabin Mom” or a “Cabin Dad” washes sheets each morning, the stench of urine still lingers throughout the day. I think that if Extreme Home Makeover decides to come to Barnabas on the Lake like they did in 2007 at the original Camp Barnabas, bettering the ventilation of cabins should be a top priority.

Mattresses: 3/10.  Lying in bed, listening to bugs and the occasional camper yell into the night, one can’t help but think about the mattress beneath herself. Part of this has to do with the bed-wetting situation. Before Barnabas bought the camp, thousands of kids had already used the facilities. I know that camp mattresses are supposed to be gross and uncomfortable, and these met and perhaps exceeded those expectations, but the number of times the mattresses have been peed on and left out to dry in the sun amplifies the grossness and discomfort.

Modest is Hottest Policy: 4/10. I’m not going to get into my thoughts on the dress code, but I would agree that modest is definitely hottest from a temperature standpoint. To coin the phrasing of the popular Doge meme: Very Clothes. Much sun. Wow.

Smell in Dining Hall: 8/10. The food smelled amazing. Unfortunately, most of the main courses and desserts had some form of wheat in them so I didn’t get to indulge in much of the mainstream food because I’m allergic. It smelled really, really fabulous though. I’m sure it tasted good, too.

Salad: 9/10. So I’m allergic to wheat, and there is a special diet option that ensures the special dietary needs of campers, C.I.A.s and staffers alike are met. However, such an option has a $50 fee, which no one in my family wished to cough up, so I ended up eating a ton of salad. But, it was quality stuff. For example, they had a whole bowl full of Craisins at the salad bar every meal, and I wouldn’t say I ate an abnormal amount, but I got close to that point.

Lake Activities: 9/10. Barnabas on the Lake has pretty fantastic lake-related activities, as one would hope.

Pool Activities: 6/10. Let’s just say that Barnabas on the Lake compensates for its mediocre pool activities with its pretty fantastic lake activities.

Campers: 10/10. Everything at Barnabas on the Lake and Camp Barnabas at Purdy is about the campers, and rightly so. Barnabas gives kids with special needs the opportunity to be “normal” for a week, a chance just to be kids being kids. Many of them relish the opportunity, and their vibrant, joyful attitudes melt even the coldest of hearts. I’m not saying every camper is thrilled to be there, but I don’t think a camper has ever gone home without having fun at least once during their stay.

Staffers/C.I.As: 10/10. In part due to such a shocking number of other summer camps getting shut down in recent years because of sexual misconduct, Barnabas takes extra precaution when hiring staffers or selecting C.I.A.s, especially since its camper base is particularly vulnerable.  All Barnabas camps have a zero-tolerance policy when dealing with “the dark side of camp,” and multiple measures are in place to keep everyone safe. As a result, staffers and C.I.A.s at Barnabas are some of the most incredible and genuine people one could ever hope to meet. Each is purely and fully dedicated to making the campers’ stay as enjoyable as possible, and each is willing to sacrifice his or her personal comfort for that of a camper’s.

Despite the alarming Daddy Longlegs infestation, I give Barnabas on the Lake a 10/10 for positive experience. In the words of every staffer and C.I.A. before me, “God taught me patience.” I plan to go back next year. I might even apply to be a full time staffer if I can muster up the selflessness.

Our Last Year

I interviewed my oldest and dearest friend in an airport yesterday for fun, and I typed up part of the transcript from that. The giggling, some gate change announcements over the loudspeaker, a couple boring stories and a few awkward pauses have been edited out.

The interview was at the airport because we were coming home from our families' vacation in Florida. I almost fell and died.

The interview was at the airport because we were coming home from this. I almost fell and died.

 

Kyra: In conducting this interview, I am going to pretend that you are a stranger because I feel like that would be a more interesting way for readers to get to know you. Could you state and spell your name for me, please? 

Lacey: Lacey Billings. L-A-C-E-Y B-I-L-L-I-N-G-S.

K: Good work. You’ve passed the first test. So, how long have we known each other?

L: About 12 years.

K: That’s ridiculous. It’s been a long time. This whole stranger thing is going to be difficult. Actually probably impossible. It felt like a good idea no more than five minutes ago. Anyway, what’s the story of how we met?

L: It was the first day of first grade. We were out on the playground and you were up on the top of the slide, and you said, “Do you want to see me jump off this?” And I was like, “Uh, yes.” And you were like, “Well, I’m not gonna do it.” And then you ran away. And then I was so excited that I made a new friend.

K: And we’ve been friends ever since. Transitions are hard, so I’m not even going to try. How many days has it been since our last nonsense?

L: That’s a good question. I’ve been trying to remember our last nonsense, but I can’t think of any recent nonsense we’ve conducted.

K: What a boring friendship. We can’t even remember our last nonsense. The only nonsense I can remember is when we went into your sister’s room… Would you like to tell that story?

L: The pony story? Well, she was playing with her ponies, in her room, by herself, and we were in her closet, spying on her.

K and L(in unison): Of course.

L: And when she left, we put a bunch of dinosaurs and spiders and monsters on the ponies and made it look like they were eating them. It was pretty cool.

When we talked yesterday, we seemed to have forgotten this little late elementary nonsense.

When we talked yesterday, we seemed to have forgotten this little late elementary nonsense.

K: So it’s been like, nine-and-a-half years since our last nonsense?

L: Yeah, not too bad. Not too shabby.

K: We follow our No Nonsense policy a little too well. So, what’s your fondest memory of when we were going to school together?

L: Out of all the years?

K: Yeah, out of all eight of ’em.

L: Well, I’m trying to remember things that happened. I remember you threw up one time in first grade. And you cried. And then you were running out of the room to find Mrs. ____. That wasn’t a fond memory though. I’m just brainstorming here… That was really sad.

K: Yeah, it kind of was. But my homework–it was the letter writing worksheet for the letter Q–fell into my puke so Mrs. ____ didn’t make me do it. It was the best day ever. I wish school worked like that now. If you can’t think of any of our fond memories we’ve made, you could just describe the outfits you wore in third and fourth grade. Those are my fondest memories.

L: Okay, I can do that. In fourth grade mostly, I was really into gauchos, and I was really into Crocs. And some days, I wore gauchos with Crocs. And knee socks. But don’t tell anyone. Knee socks, Kyra.

K: Were you into turtlenecks, or was that just me?

L: No, that was just you. I was never really into turtlenecks. That was one of the strong points I had. I was really in to those leather clunk shoes–you know the ones with the buckles?

K: Yes, I had those awesome ones with the little charms on the ends.

L: Ugh, yeah. I was so jealous of yours.

K: I know. They were probably the best leather shoes I’ve ever owned. Private school probs.

L: Oh, I do remember something! Remember those poles underneath the slide? We used to spin around them. We called it “flying,” but it was basically pole dancing.

K: Yeah, I remember. You were really good. I guess you could go into that as a career if you need a back-up.

L: Probably, but anyway I was “flying” around the pole and wearing those leather shoes and the creek was right behind us and both my shoes flew off into the creek. And so my mom had to bring me new shoes. She brought my tan felt shoes. Those were my first favorite shoes. I had them every single year. You could get them in three colors, too: They came in tan, burgundy and navy blue.

K: Sexy.

L: But I was so mad. My mom would only let me get the tan ones. I wanted the burgundy ones so bad. I mean, burgundy’s like the best thing ever. Especially on those felt duck shoes. I don’t even know what to call them.

K: Yes, felt duck shoes are the best kind. Okay, so one more question. Why do you think we’ve been friends for so long? What is our secret? Seriously, I really want to know. Why are we still friends?

L: Hey! That’s kinda rude!

K: Hey, I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just curious. What’s our secret?

L: Um, well, first of all, we’ve known each other for like, 12 years, and we were in the same small class for eight of those years. Our familys are good friends. We vacation all the time together. And we like each other, I think?

K: Haha, yes we do. I think also we like the same television shows.

L: Yes, yes! That seriously has a lot to do with it! It’s been a huge part of our friendship. Psych, Monk, Wonder Years, Raising Hope, The Office, all the others.

Imma fruit fly. Imma cup fly. Another one of our favorite shows was Hannah Montana

Imma fruit fly. Imma cup fly. Another one of our favorite shows was Hannah Montana

K: Star Wars, although you were a lot more into it.

L: Hey, hey now. That was a long time ago.

K: True. But anyway, we’re going to be friends forever, right?

L: Yeah, but after we graduate we won’t really see each other. This is going to be our last year, Kyra.

K: Wow, thanks for reminding me. Bye, bye, childhood. It’s been a good run.

L: There it goes, down the drain.

K: What a bummer thing to end the interview on: “And then, our childhood ended.”

L: And we went our separate ways.

K: And we never saw each other again. End recording.

Our 12 year friendship, summarized.

Our 12 year friendship, summarized.

 

Jinx, You Owe Me A Concert

I’ve never attended a concert. I mean, not a real one, anyway. I’ve been to live shows that were standing room only, but that was mostly because they were being held in a venue so small that one could fit three in Kim Kardashian’s closet. As far as jumping around in a mosh pit while a recognizable band plays its songs from the radio, I have only my friends’ fuzzy Instagram videos and Snapchat stories to cite as experience.

It’s not like I’m not trying. I’ve bought tickets for a number of shows, but something always happens to thwart my being there or everyone’s being there. I’ve had a string of bad luck, and I’m beginning to think that the bad luck might be me, considering I am the common denominator, and that, right when I purchase a ticket, the band’s bassist usually gets a blood clot in his brain that forces the cancellation of the tour or something. And that’s not just an outlandish example I pulled out of my imagination–it actually happened. Here’s a list of my almost concert experiences:

Disclaimer for concert enthusiasts: I know that most (probably all) of these bands play at concerts with names other than their band names, but I don’t pay attention to that stuff, so I’ll just identify the concerts by the band I remember best that played there.

 

Fun:  My dad and I were going to go see Fun in Kansas City somewhere, but then my friend did a random drawing for whom she would take on her family vacation with her, and my name got pulled out of the hat. Going to the Outer Banks with one of my best friends trumped whatever fun I would have had watching Fun, I’m sure. My dad ended up going with my uncle and some of my uncle’s friends, so he wasn’t lonely.  Partway into the main event, it began pouring. The concertgoers in the outdoor venue scrambled for cover. My uncle and his friends took refuge in a string of port-a-potties. My dad did not. He saw a white tent in the distance and ran toward it like a moth to the light. When he arrived, he noticed a table, laden plates of barbeque, with several guys sitting around it. He did not notice that these several guys were the band members of Fun. He had a 15 minute conversation with the lead singer, Nate Ruess, before he put the pieces together. That has nothing to do with this post, but I like to mention that my dad had a one-on-one conversation with Nate Ruess whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

Imagine Dragons: I was deadset on attending this concert, but up until two weeks before, I didn’t realize that the date of the concert coincided with a day I would be in a different state on the other side of the country. Missing that one wasn’t as much bad luck as just poor planning on my end. Even though I wasn’t there physically, I still saw most of the concert on Snapchat from the comfort of a hotel room. And, for the record, my hotel room was much cooler temperature-wise than Starlight Theatre.

 

Mumford and Sons: Mumford and Sons’ music was my jam for the longest time. If one were to ask me in June 2013 what band I wished to see at my first concert, Mumford and Sons would be the instant, borderline-shouting response. Unfortunately, a few weeks before the concert, doctors found a blood clot in the bassist’s brain that required immediate attention and the subsequent cancellation of the tour.

 

The Jonas Brothers: The Jonas Brothers were going to have a reunion tour last year, and they were going to be in Kansas City on Halloween night. My friends and I decided that this would be the best option for me as far as first concerts go because most of them had attended their first concert when the band had been touring the first time around, so I would have the opportunity to relive the childhood I almost had with those who actually had it. We had Disney-themed costumes coordinated, tickets purchased and expectations set sky-high. Then, due to a “deep rift within the band,” the brothers canceled the tour and (thankfully) refunded our money. But they could not refund our crushed dreams and deflated spirits.

 

Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend is my band. Usually, when I decide I like a band, I listen to its albums on repeat for a couple weeks and then move on. I’ve been listening to Vampire Weekend on repeat since January. My good friends had an extra ticket, which they were willing to sell me at the original price, even though the concert was about two weeks away. Since it was too late for me to put in a formal request off work, I waited until Thursday afternoon to see if my work schedule would ruin everything. For the first time, I was scheduled to work until midnight. On the day of the concert. I went in and talked to my supervisor. I said the reason I needed off was “very important,” but I didn’t let on that I just really wanted to go to a concert. My supervisor straight-up told me that “no one is going to take your shift.” But I did not give up hope. I left a note by the time clock with my contact info, Facebook messaged some friendly coworkers, spent some time in prayer–the whole nine yards. My friends even started a Twitter campaign.

 

But, despite our best efforts, I ended up spending the night standing in a nearly empty grocery store, watching people walk past my line to the self-checkout to pay for their late night donut runs. On the bright side, I not only saved $50 bucks, but also made about that much more.

Ed Sheeran: I wanted to experience for myself the angelic voice that silenced a sold-out Madison Square Gardens. But, on the day tickets went on sale, my friend faced a small delimma. Tickets could only be purchased in groups of four, and my group had six. I honestly could say that I wouldn’t know what I was missing out on, so I conceded my spot, out of the goodness of my heart. Also, maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of spending my hard-earned cash on anything besides food, but I was already slightly reluctant to part with the $70 needed to secure my spot. So, there’s that, too.

 

 

 

Uninspired

Charles Schulz once said, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

And that’s cute. And so are all the other little inspirational quotes people vomit onto my Facebook feed and my Twitter timeline. But I strongly dislike it. I strongly dislike all of them.

If one Googles “blog ideas,” one is led to various websites outlining the different forms and shapes in which blog posts can come: lists, reviews, personal essays, etc. A key bullet point in nearly all of these ideas is to make sure that one does not rant. “No one is interested in reading about a person’s personal vendettas,” the websites say. “Make sure everyone leaves your site laughing or smiling or feeling emotion,” say the websites. “Use your blog as an opportunity to voice your opinions and feelings, as long as those opinions and feelings are not obnoxious or angry,” the websites remind. For 41 other blog entries, I have adhered to the protocol of the all-knowing blog websites. Today, I will rebel against these well-meaning online resources. Today, I will rant.

Inspirational quoters would probably have what they perceive to be calming words of encouragement ready to post on my Facebook wall if they knew I was writing an abusive post about their favorite mind-numbing baloney circulating the inter-web. And yet, I proceed.

Here are the reasons (rant-y they may be) that inspirational quotes lead my mouse to the “unfollow” and “unfriend” buttons quicker than any posts about home-cooked meals ever have:

Context: Writing can inspire. I have read novels that have brought me to tears, essays that have motivated me to alter the way I perceive life itself. But these moments most often happen when I’m curled up in my pjs, sipping hot chocolate and focusing on the words on the pages in my hand. I’m not moved by little motivators that my thumb scrolls by on my iPhone when I have a few minutes of downtime before class or work. Taking one superior sentence from an essay and pasting it in front of a stock photo of a sunset does not inspire me without context.

Stupidity: Some (not all) of the supposedly inspirational quotes I’ve seen fail because they unintentionally decrease the intelligence quotient of their readers. A poster captioned with “Just hang in there,” accompanied by a kitten hanging from a tree doesn’t make me feel better prepared to tackle the obstacles of my day. It just makes me feel bad for the kitten. I don’t want an adorable baby animal to be forced to pose in different pathetic positions on the off-chance that its image will make a person feel better about his quote-fueled existence. And yet, it happens.

Underlying Assumption: Inspirational quotes are spewed across the internet with the underlying assumption that their words apply to everyone. That everyone can relate to the deep, meaningful nonsense Ghandi may or may not have said. The creators of the inspirational quote photos just come up with a sentence detailing a bit of common sense, then slap a famous person’s name on the end, hoping no one will fact check and everyone will repost.

To be fair, I suppose that if the goal of inspirational quotes is to invoke emotion, they have succeeded. I feel a strong emotion: irritation. But, I think as humans, we can do better than this. Call me naive, but I like to believe that we don’t need a cheesy poster or a cliche to achieve our goals or to find our place in life. Inspiration isn’t an app.

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My Biggest Fan

Pink and silver streamers on my Barbie bicycle handles flow in the wind as I peddle hard on the uneven pavement, trying to see how long I can keep the slightly elevated training wheels from touching the concrete below. Behind me, my dad maintains a light jog, and we keep on that way until we reach our special place: The Dream Meadow.photo 1

The day I was born, my mother was supposed to be taking finals for law school. That’s a little difficult to do when you’re in labor. She missed two exams while having me, and her study group met later that day at the hospital. Somehow she made it through that semester and the next several, passing the bar exam and receiving a well-deserved degree. To say I’m impressed is an understatement–law school is hard enough without a baby.

Also the day I was born, my father was an anxious mess. He went down to the cafeteria at the hospital to get some juice, and when he came back, I was just beginning to come out into the world. He was caught off-guard, so he did what any young new father would do upon walking in on his wife giving birth–he fainted. My mother’s and the doctors’ attention shifted from the task at hand to the unconscious guy on the chair in the corner of the room. My parents’ differing reactions to my new existence still pretty well summarize our respective relationships.

Because my mother juggled classes and me during the day, my dad got to deal with me before and after work and on the weekends while my mom studied. He was a 22 year old X-Ray Technician, also taking a few classes. As a new father, he had no idea what he was doing. But that didn’t stop him from trying.

On Saturday mornings, my dad would painstakingly gather as much of my towheaded wisps into a hair-tie on the top of my head. After helping me into a bright pink outfit of some sort (in my later toddler years, this would be replaced by blue denim overalls), he would take me out. Money was tight, and he was creative. The pet store became my zoo, public parks my swing set. And after a long walk in the evenings, my dad would read to me. And read to me. And read to me. We went to the library almost daily because I memorized the books quickly. Usually on the third go-around, my dad would just turn the pages as I recited its contents. That’s where the Dream Meadow comes into play.

I was about three when, in the continual desperate search for more books with which to lull me to sleep, my father purchased a $1 box of quality children’s literature from a garage sale. One of the books in the box was about an old guy and his dog. I think both of them ended up dying. There was a meadow involved (not in their deaths–just in the story). Since an overgrown field was located near our house, I named it after the meadow in the book. My dad and I used to go to our Dream Meadow and throw rocks at a fence. Fond memories.

I can't find a decent photo of just my dad and me from the last five years. Mostly because the two yahoos next to me in this family photo keep interrupting.

I can’t find a decent photo of just my dad and me from the last five years. Mostly because the two yahoos next to me in this family photo keep interrupting.

After we could read no more books, I would sit on my father’s lap and watch baseball. The man loves his Kansas City Royals. He secretly ensured that my first name would start with “K” and my middle with “C” so I could go by K.C. Haas if I ever felt the desire. (I actually went by K.C. briefly during the summer after fifth grade, but people always thought it was spelled “Caysi,” which got old pretty quick.) It was during one of our late night baseball marathons that my dad had what he still will refer to as his crowning moment as a parent.  I was two-years-old, snuggled up against him, watching the Royals lose to (insert MLB team here). He told me it was time to go to bed. I said, “One more inning, Daddy.” My dad let me watch the next inning, and when he tells that story, his chest swells with pride that his two-year-old daughter not only knew what baseball innings were, but also requested to watch another.

Seventeen years and two more children later, my dad has come a long way from the nervous fainting 22-year-old who thought of his favorite baseball team while naming his newborn. He is much more mature and sophisticated now. Among other things, I credit him for my love of Monty Python, fart jokes and Dumb and Dumber. He’s the man behind much of who I am, from my love of reading to my sense of humor.