Extreme Makeover: Home Edition! In which Rob Zombie makes an appearance and Jessica and I are mistaken for lesbians.

This week has scored about a 6 out of 10 so far. My new job is still moving slowly, thanks to the sluggish industry. Today I sort of taught myself how to make an HTML table in WordPress, which was rewarding (even if I mostly just copy-pasted the code from a helpful tutorial – thanks, Brittney!). But overall, it’s pretty slow, and I’m still convinced that I’m doing 95% of everything I’m assigned wrong. Plus I’m losing steam in my quest to re-apply to OSU, partly because I’m afraid of (re-)rejection, and partly because I’m still not 100% sure that’s what I want to do next with my life. I know I need to do something, otherwise I’ll let myself settle into a quagmire of mediocre jobs and mediocre apartments and I’ll never have the motivation to do anything interesting ever again. And I hate settling.

I have two options right now. One is my original plan: get an MA in a student services-related program, which would eventually lead to a job in a study-abroad office. If I have to get a “real job,” that’s definitely what I would want to do. It would actually benefit the world in a tangible way (by helping students get international experiences) and it would hopefully allow me to travel, hence providing more experiences to write about. That field is where most of my work experience lies, along with most of my connections, and I’d certainly prefer it to more real estate or government work.

The other option is to throw all caution to the winds and get my MFA in creative writing. This is highly impractical. Option One wouldn’t lead to many jobs, but it would lead to some jobs; an MFA could lead to writing jobs, but that doesn’t seem very likely. Plus, thanks to various job shadows and personal experience, I’ve already decided that traditional writing jobs in advertising, magazines, etc are too stressful for me. (Freelancing is an option, of course.) So all (“all”) Option Two would do for me is give me the time, excuse, and motivation to write; potentially set me up with fellowships or grants; and, well, fulfill one of my lifelong dreams. But the prospect of getting rejected from MFA programs is one of the most terrifying and heartbreaking things I can imagine happening.

But the idea of actually being a writer – of having a part-time job as a barista or receptionist or whatever, and having hours and hours each day to write what I wanted to write, and submitting stories, and actually finishing a manuscript for a novel – that would really be a dream come true.

And then idealistic sixteen-year-old Laura gets shut down by jaded twenty-three-year-old Laura and they battle for a while. It’s quite a show, let me tell you. Sixteen-Year-Old-Laura is scrappy.

Unfortunately I am the least decisive person in the world, and I have a month at most to make a final decision.

Still with me? I promise we’ll get to Rob Zombie soon.

Basically I need to figure out my life before I resign myself to being a secretary in Salem for the rest of time.

I guess one of the things that’s scaring me most is that if I do apply/reapply somewhere, I’m going to need to get more letters of recommendation. How is that supposed to work at this point? “Hi, English Professor! Sorry I haven’t kept in touch better. I didn’t get into grad school last year, but by golly I’m trying again! Still got that letter you wrote for me last time? Here’s my resume, in case you want to throw in something about these totally unrelated jobs I’ve been working over the last year. Maybe this year’s the year! Thanks!”

Or even better – “Hi, Former Employer! I’m actually totally changing gears and signing myself over to a lifetime of creative malaise. Will you write a letter for me? Thanks for all of your training and emotional investment, sorry I won’t be doing anything practical with it.”

Sigh.

Or there’s always Option Three, in which I go visit Linnaea in Spain and then lose my passport while in London and have to stay there forever.

But I keep reminding myself that things aren’t bad right now. I have the opportunity to go to grad school in the first place, without completely drowning myself in student loans. I have a job, which is more than can be said for a good many Oregonians. We have an apartment with a dishwasher. The cat’s fleas are (fingers crossed) on the run. And we’re using the upcoming three-day-weekend (my last state-mandated furlough day) to visit Olympia for a mini-vacation. Kevin has been tasked with planning a surprise romantic dinner since as of Sunday, we will have been engaged for a year!

Crazy.

All right, all right, on to Rob Zombie and the mistaken identity that brought you all here in the first place.

One of the perks of my new job was getting to volunteer at the Oregon School for the Deaf when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to town. The big reveal was on Monday, but Jake was busy all day and neither of us could get away to see the new dorm, which was revealed sometime between noon and two. I wrote to Jessica begging her to come up to see the haunted house reveal with me. That started at 7 and went until 9, so I figured if we arrived around 8:30, we’d still get to see some excited children and maybe some famous people.

Our first stop, though, was a Mexican restaurant for a late dinner. We ordered the biggest plate of nachos you’ve ever seen and made a pretty respectable dent in it. Our waiter (who I suspect was Italian) mumbled the whole time and had trouble with the concept of “guacamole on the side.”

I came back from the restroom after eating to find Jessica grinning. “LAURA. The waiter thinks we’re lesbians.”

“What?”

“He came to get my card and sort of looked at your seat and said – ” she raised an eyebrow and put on an accent – “‘you are – together?'”

“HA.”

“And I told him yes without really thinking about it!”

“Hee hee! I gotta tell Kevin.” As I texted, a thought struck me. “We should hold hands on the way out.”

We cackled over this for about four straight minutes before deciding it was probably not a good idea, and besides, it would only be funny if the waiter was there to see it, and he’d been absent for most of the evening anyway. So we left the restaurant sedately.

We then spent the next half-hour circling new corners of Salem trying to find the deaf school, which had somehow mysteriously disappeared since my last visit. We wound up near a giant Salvation Army community center that I didn’t even know existed, and parked in a shadowy apartment complex to get directions from Kevin.

Ten minutes later – fifteen minutes before the whole thing was scheduled to end – we found a parking spot and trotted down the road to see what was going on. A crowd had gathered by the fence, peering through at the crew and the entrance to the Nightmare Factory thirty yards away. Everyone seemed to have followed the media’s instruction and arrived dressed in Halloween costumes to help set the scene. I saw a couple fairies, a witch, and some kind of furry Gremlin type critter, and that was just during the short time we were there. Spectators had been milling around in costume all day participating in filming.

We found a viewing spot near a cluster of girls who all seemed to be talking to each other without listening to each other. “Oh my God, I cried when I saw Ty earlier today. I seriously cried. I couldn’t believe it.” Another was on the phone: “You know that Extreme Home Makeover show? I’m in front of it. Yeah! Ty’s here! I seen him!”

Ty was there, along with the rest of the hosts, several cameras, and a horde of what I assume were the students’ family members, all wearing hard hats. Turns out Ty is pretty short. I did not know this. We couldn’t really hear what was going on, and Jessica was only able to translate a bit of the signing, but eventually the students were brought down to much cheering and excitement.

They filmed two or three more takes of the cheering and excitement.

That's Ty in the white shirt. In the background. I saw him, awright? He was THERE.

After more signing and milling around, Ty threw out an arm and bellowed “ROB ZOMBIE!”

And there was Rob Zombie.

He participated in the haunted house design, I guess, but I didn’t think he would actually be there. He looked a lot more normal than I had expected him to, which is saying something, because he still looked like a Rasta. He had epic gray dreads, a big cap, and bell-bottoms. Maybe the show asked him to tone down the crazy so he would be safe around children.

They all chatted for a while, and a few school officials talked, and they filmed take after take of the crowd cheering. I had been hoping to see the students flood into the new haunted house, but that didn’t seem likely to happen within the next hour. It was getting close to 9:30 and Jessica still had to drive back to Corvallis. So we called it a night, satisfied that the students would be happy and that we’d still get to see the episode when it airs on Halloween.

I found out today that we actually arrived at just the right time – the whole tour had been delayed for three hours. But it had been a beautiful day, and even in the dark and with another hour to wait, spirits were high. I’m thrilled that the school was chosen for this and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together on TV. Tickets for the haunted house go on sale on October 8th if you want to see it in person!

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One thought on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition! In which Rob Zombie makes an appearance and Jessica and I are mistaken for lesbians.

  1. I like the whole “lose your passport and get stuck abroad, oh gosh-darn it all what a shame” option. Something very deep inside me rages for the chance to do something this crazy. Get in the car and drive until it breaks. Hop on a plane to a country of which I’ve never even heard. Sell all my worldly possessions and wander around helping people in exchange for food and shelter. But then, I’d rather the crazy involved my overly expensive college degree in some way, and I figure I’ll only get one shot at it, whatever the crazy ends up being. So I guess I’m really rooting for Scrappy Sixteen-Year-Old Laura.

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