Thursday, January 31, 2008

My first day in Intro to Animation

After 15 minutes of introductions and polite though meaningless conversation she walked into the room, slightly flustered, looked around, and sat on the only remaining chair.

"Are you Sarah?"




"Sandra, Kelly?"


"Well, what are you doing in my classroom?"

The rest of the students laughed as our instructor winked at us.

"Uh," she looked around nervously, "I got an e-mail?"

It wasn't a question but she said it like one.

"Well, you're not on my list, so why are you here?" The last word stretched to three syllables as our instructor jokingly motioned around the room.

"I registered for this class. The e-mail said I was registered?"

"This is a block class; you're probably in the second block."

"Okay," she sat down and began unpacking her bag, taking out some paper to take notes.

"If you're in the second block, you need to come back when that starts."

"Oh. But I'm registered for this class." She was confused, staring at the professor. "I'm registered now."

"Right, but this is the first block. You're in the second block. Come back in October." Our instructor looked at us, not sure if this girl was really confused or just joking.

"But I'm registered?" Asking this did nothing to strengthen her argument.

"The second block starts in October. Come back in October."

Class members began to laugh; the girl looked bewildered but gathered her things and started towards the door. She turned around, another question on her face.

"Come back to this room on October 25, at the same time. You're still in the class; you're just in the second block."

The class began to laugh again and the girl stumbled out the door. It is ridiculous that a person can make it to college and yet remain incapable of grasping a seemingly simple concept. A friend who works in the BYU Bookstore recently adjusted his status to on-call after a customer repeatedly insisted there was only one Korea.

"What's this South Korea, North Korea business? There's just Korea. Like Vietnam."

He just couldn't handle the general stupidity existent on a prestigious university campus. Neither can I.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Write

1992 was a volatile year for my family. I was ten years old, my brother was seven, and our mother gave birth to our younger sister in May. Not long after our mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a treatable form of cancer but cancer nonetheless. My father was a full-time student also working full-time to support our family. With my mother too weak from chemotherapy to perform her usual tasks, my brother and I found ourselves taking on more adult responsibilities.

At school our teachers soon caught wind of my family's plight and treated both myself and my brother as though we were made of porcelain, about to break at any moment. I got into a fight with a boy named Raymond Lovejoy because he called me fat. I was sent to the school counselor because obviously I had fought due to my stressful situation at home, not because Raymond was a jerk. My brother, Brett, already an artistic individual, was allowed to draw during class because he too must have been suffering and this was his form of release.

Brett, who was in the third grade, was often commissioned by his classmates for drawings. A girl in his class asked Brett to draw a skull for her and he, thinking nothing of it, drew it for her, adding in flames to great effect. Later that day he was called in to see the school counselor and my mother was called. Brett's drawing had been discovered in the locker of another girl in his class bearing the inscription "I know where you live and am going to kill you and your family." Brett appeared to be cracking under the intense pressure of having a sick mom, newborn sister, and exhausted father.

My mother came to school to meet with Brett and the counselor and upon examining the picture began to laugh. Though the artwork was most definitely Brett's the handwriting was not. It appears the girl who had asked for the picture did not like the other girl in whose locker the picture was found. My mother went home and Brett, and myself, were made to meet regularly with the school counselor. Neither of us had a clue as to why we had to meet with the counselor but she had games and comics in her office so we made the best of a bleak situation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An introduction

My name is Brandon Pedersen. Not Peterson. Not Patterson. Pedersen. Phonetically it is pronounced: Ped-ur-sen, as in sent. It’s Scandinavian. I spent the first week of kindergarten in the time out corner because, “It’s not nice to correct Miss Chestnut, she’s the teacher and knows what’s best.” I asked her how she knew what was best if she couldn’t pronounce my name correctly and spent my second week of school in the time out corner as well. I have heard some people will allow new acquaintances to mispronounce their name because they are tired of correcting everyone. I refuse to adapt the pronunciation of my name when, as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the word is just being lazy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Free Write

It seems silly, but to the adolescent mind no single moment seems as important as the first kiss. It is often seen and portrayed as the culmination of sexual development; once the first awkward meeting of lips is accomplished other actions follow naturally. It is a moment of extreme stress, each party fretting whether they performed correctly and adequately and wondering what the other is thinking. This is not helped by the media, that staple of teenage life, who present the first kiss as crucial to adolescent development.

As I entered the whirling hormonal storm that is teenage dating I kept myself alert for the appropriate circumstances. My friends quickly bypassed me on the road to pubescent maturity informing me the first kiss was awkward, shy, and usually wet. Still, I remained convinced that my first physical romantic encounter would occur as I had seen it depicted; passionate, forceful, and direct.

The summer of before my junior year of high school I was set up on a blind date with Maggie. She was tall, slender, and had long brown hair. We were naturally at ease together and began seeing each other regularly. After a few weeks we had an opportunity to attend a music festival in Salem with a group of friends. Though only 30 minutes away, Maggie's parents were wary of her traveling so far without an adult present. Though okay with me going to Salem, I opted to remain in town with her.

We had an enjoyable evening together, spent at Borders Books. We listened to CDs, read books, ate at the café, and walked together hand in hand. Our date, as had all others, closed on her doorstep. Typically I said good night, we hugged, and she went inside. This night, however, after our embrace she stared deep into my eyes, placed her right hand on my hip and with her left grabbed my shirt collar. I recognized this as the iconic moment, my first kiss was imminent, and I was terrified. Sinking into flight or fight mode I watched as my body clumsily placed my hand on her hip, blurted out "I had a great night tonight," turned and fled to my car.

Now married, the stereotype shattered, I sometimes wonder how life might be different had that night gone differently and always decide it could not be better.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Free Write

I have long known the existence of monsters to be a fact, one most I associate with insist is untrue. The house is settling. Pipes make noises. Shadows cast by passing cars. All of these have been offered as excuses for what I know to be true. Monsters exist and I am related to one or more of them.

When I was two years old my family moved to Euless, Texas. My father got a job as a draftsman, designing steamrollers. Having moved to Texas from the Northwest my language was monitored closely to prevent the addition of any local colloquialisms to my expanding vocabulary. The first time I said “I’m fixin’ to go to school,” (school having two syllables in my near Southern drawl) my bicycle was taken away for an entire week. My mother stood firmly by my father as he observed my development.

As I grew my parents ensured I had only those experiences appropriate for my formative years. A day at Six Flags. A birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. A baby brother to guarantee my self-esteem issues developed while I was young. By the time I was five years old only one childhood experience yet eluded me. The sleepover. Convinced a sleepover would cement a high standing amongst my friends, who had already had sleepovers, I began routinely pestering my parents.

The summer before I entered kindergarten they relented. Five to six of my friends were called; their parents promising their children would be present at the appropriate time. It was a Friday evening; we watched the Masters of the Universe starring Dolph Lundgren and ate taco-flavored popcorn. All was progressing well; none of my friends suffered the teary breakdown that so often accompanies the young staying over.

Stuffed into my bedroom, slowly drifting into sleep a phantasm suddenly appeared. Emerging from my closet a terrifying apparition in white with glowing eyes screamed into the room instantly expelling the contents of three young bladders. As we huddled together, damp and afraid, the specter fled from the room, shaking with laughter. The door left open we observed my mother and father, red-faced and laughing on a bed sheet, two flashlights on the floor.

As the years progressed and new terrors emerged I have often been comforted by the fact that the monster under the bed was just my mother or father, making sure I grow up right.