Jello Disaster

I tried to make jello a while ago.

It was while I was still in school, and it was so traumatic, I’m just now able to write about it.

Also, it’s kind of sad to learn that there’s one more thing in this world that I’m just not capable of doing like a normal human being.

I was super sick and the only thing I had kept down for the past three days was water and gatorade.

Looking back, I was severely dehydrated and a little malnourished, and I probably should have gone to the hospital or a  clinic for IV fluids. Unfortunately, I don’t think things through very well when I’m sick.

So, I was shaky and gross, and I don’t know why I thought jello would be a good idea, but it just sounded so delicious to my addled brain.

Twin had left me for the day to go to class (I was most definitely not going to class because I have a strong aversion to throwing up on peoples’ heads), and I guess I was hungry. I don’t usually question my motives when I’m sick.

This is also why, when I’m sick, I tend to say and do really weird things on accident. There’s just no reasoning with myself. It can be a real problem.

But I knew I wanted jello, and I decided not to ask questions.

I pulled myself out from under the couch (I have no clue what I was doing under there), and kind of crawled to the kitchen.

I think Twin had gone shopping for me and gotten me some jello. That’s the only thing I can think of that would explain the sudden appearance of strawberry jello in our kitchen. Usually, we don’t keep those little boxes of the stuff on hand.

I pulled the little box off the counter and sat back down in the floor, trying to read the instructions.

Note to future self – they print the instructions on the back. There is no need to take a knife to the box. Yet.

When I saw, “bring x-amount of water to a boil,” I knew I was going to have problems.

When I was having trouble opening the packet containing the jello powder, I figured this would be the hardest thing was going to do that day.

When I realized I really shouldn’t have opened the packet of powder yet, I almost gave up.

But my hungry stomach urged me on.

I got the water boiling, dumped the powder in a plastic bowl, and sat back down on the floor to wait.

And then I fell asleep.

Don’t fall asleep when you’re boiling water. It’ll just keep boiling for forever until all the water is gone, and then you’ll burn the pot and it’ll be a giant mess to clean. Or the pot will explode and your house will burn down and you won’t have to worry about it.

I woke up to the funny smell of burning metal pot, and frantically jumped up to grab the pot and put more water in it.

Burning pots get really hot.

And, when you burn your fingers, they tend to let go of whatever you’re holding.

And then the burning pot will smash down on your toes.

And your toes will get smashed and burned.

And then you’ll get really dizzy because you just woke up and you’re sick and you probably shouldn’t be boiling water.

But my stomach growled loudly and reminded me that I was hungry.

So, I picked the pot up, filled it with water again, and set it back down to boil.

This time, I stared at it for 37 hours until it actually boiled, and I didn’t fall asleep.

After it boiled, I carefully picked it up and dumped the water into the jello powder.

And burned my hand on the steam.

And dropped the pot.

Again.

This time, I just left it sitting on the ground (because that’s obviously where it wanted to be) and stirred in my jello powder.

When it was all stirred up, I went to take a nap.

And I woke up an hour later and remembered that the jello was supposed to go in the fridge.

I pulled myself out from under the coffee table (I don’t know how I got under there. I promise I started on the couch.) and stumbled over to the kitchen to put it in the fridge.

Then I went to sleep again.

I woke up when Twin came walking in from her classes and shook me awake.

“What are you doing sleeping on the kitchen floor and why are you holding that pot?”

“I made jello,” I mumbled.

“Oh my.”

She knows me well. I showed her my hands and toes, and she got me some ice.

And the jello was edible. I guess. I don’t think it’s supposed to be lumpy.

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Pluto is Dead (And Hopefully He Will Rise)

It was exactly like a movie.

Well, almost.

There was no beautiful, single, lovely man showing up to save me and sweep me off my feet.

But I can do without one of those in my story.

It started, like most things do with me, with an impulsive need to do something.

“Coffee,” my brain softly whispered. “It’s finals week, and you need to stay up late and study, and you want coffee.”

“Okay, brain,” I said, chipper as ever.

I hopped in Pluto (my car) and drove my little self to the Starbucks.

The line was abominably long. I should have seen that for the hint it was and gone home.

I should have, but my brain was still whispering about delicious coffee.

After about fifteen minutes, I was just about to pull up to order when I realized that there really wasn’t enough space for me to pull up and order. So I sat in the car and waited for someone else to pull up a little bit more, and danced away to my music.

I know. This is really anticlimactic.

Girl wants coffee. Girl has to wait for coffee. GIRL’S CAR EXPLODES!

Not really.

Almost.

So, there I was, dancing away, when I heard a funny hissing sound.

“That’s weird,” said my brain. “But don’t worry. You should just keep dancing.”

So I did.

Then I looked up and noticed a small tendril of steam.

“That’s also weird,” said my brain. “And did you notice that the hissing is getting louder?”

About that time, the entire front end of my car erupted in gross-smelling steam and super loud hissing.

I threw the car in park, turned it off, and hopped out to see what was happening.

I rounded the front of the car to see brown sludge stuff pouring out from under it.

“Well,” said my brain, “that’s not supposed to be happening.”

I told my brain to shut up because it wasn’t any help at all. Obviously, I could see that bad things were happening.

I just didn’t know what any of it meant.

Bless the beautiful people of Cookeville.

By the time I finished telling my brain to shut up, the two cars in line in front of me had put themselves into park and expelled their drivers.

I was bombarded with, “Are you okay?”, “What happened?”, “Is the car off?”, “Do you need help pushing it?”, “Did you run over something?”, “What is that smell?”, “Did it burn you?”, and “Wanna pop the hood so we can see if we can see anything?”

I did pop the hood, and we all stood around it for a long, silent minute.

Finally, my brain stopped sulking in a corner and popped up with a brilliant, “Welp, that’s an engine.”

“Yeah, I don’t know anything about cars either,” they all admitted.

By this time, our numbers had swelled as people lined up behind me and realized something was wrong.

“But we can help you push it to the side.”

They were beautiful, strong people.

When we got it to the side, we all stood around and stared at it some more, and a girl came walking up.

“Hey,” she said. “Do any of you know anything about cars?”

We all sheepishly told her we didn’t.

“Well, one of the baristas knows a lot about them. Tell me what happened, and I’ll tell her, and then we can see if it’s serious or not.”

They all turned and looked at me.

“Well,” I said. “It looks to me like a demon descended on my car with hissing sounds and steam and horrible smells, and Pluto fought back with his last strength and eventually vanquished it, leaving it lying in that gross puddle of brown sludge over there.”

They all stared at me.

“Yeah, I don’t know anything about cars, so I’m just calling it like I see it.”

“So, hissing, loads of steam, awful smell, and it dumped brown liquid?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.”

She walked back inside, and the beautiful people all started to leave. Before they left, though, I was bombarded with more questions: “Do you live around here?” “Do you have someone to call?” “Do you need a ride anywhere?” “Are you sure you’re okay?” “Do you have family around here?” “Do you have a place to take your car?” “Do you need anymore help?” “Do you have a phone?” “Is it charged?” “Do you have some money?” “Are you going to get cold?” “Do you have a flashlight?”

I assured them that I was fine, and I had everything I needed, and I’d just make a few phone calls and someone would come get me.

So they all left.

So I called The Lord Life-Giver. Best guy to talk to in a crisis. He’s super.

He told me it was probably the thing or the other thing.

(He used real words, but I don’t know what they were. I literally know zero about cars. Except for when it’s too hot, and how to check the fluids, and how to put more fluids in, and how to change the windshield wipers, and how to change the tires. Unfortunately, none of those things were wrong here. I think.)

As soon as I got done talking to him, the girl came back.

She told me the barista told her it was probably the same things Lord Life-Giver said. Either way, there was no way I could drive it home.

They graciously offered me the use of one of their parking spaces for the night.

(Bless you, more beautiful people.)

Then, she very politely offered me some weed so I wouldn’t be as stressed out and, when I politely told her “no thanks” and reassured her I’d be fine, she left to.

So, there I was, all alone with a gross, stinky, sometimes still hissing, vaguely steamy car.

I called one friend with a car, and she didn’t answer.

I called Twin, and thankfully she was with someone who had a car, and they came and rescued me.

(Thanks, Tabby!)

Also, tonight I learned that pushing a car really isn’t all that hard once you get it moving. And Twin is really bad a steering. And coffee still tastes wonderful after you break your car to get it.

So, that was my night. I’m still drinking the coffee I got while I waited for Twin and Tabby to come get me. I’m still a little shaken by the whole “my car has a demon” thing.

No, a gorgeous man didn’t come along to save me like he would have if it’d really been a movie. But, you know what, I had my girls. And I think that’s better.

And my car is still broken and all alone in a dark parking lot. If this were a movie, it would have either been fixed in five minutes or some random stranger would have just given me one. But we’re figuring out what to do about it, and it’ll all get fixed eventually.

For now, we’re relying on the goodness of our beautiful friends to help us get around, and we’re studying for finals.

I’m also really glad I live in a place with so many people who care about strangers. Being reminded of the goodness of my town makes tonight almost worth it.

The End.

Spider Bite Antidote

So, I once had a bracelet. Currently, I have no earthly idea what happened to it. It was, however, for a short while, my favorite accessory.

It was a cuff about a half an inch wide with pretty scroll work all over it. I thought it was the most beautiful bracelet in the world.

It only had one problem.

It was made of copper.

Now, for those of you uneducated in the ways of copper who are scratching your heads and thinking, “What does that have to do with anything? Copper’s pretty. Aren’t pennies made of copper?” – no.

Pennies are made of some random metal (See, I’ve done a lot of research on this.) and then coated in copper. It’s cheaper to make them that way, even though it costs significantly more than a penny to make a penny.

I know this because, about a year ago, Twin gave a speech on the uselessness of the penny, and I listened to it about 4683 times while she was perfecting it.

Anyway.

My bracelet.

Copper, when it comes in contact with skin for a prolonged period of time, turns skin a gorgeous greenish-teal color.

It really is a beautiful color.

If you have a beloved bracelet that you wear every single day of your life, the beautiful color will intensify until it turns extraordinarily dark and noticeable.

If you are young and vaguely foolish, you will actually enjoy this new pigmentation of your skin because you will be determined that it sets of the copper color of the bracelet quite nicely and gives it this wonderful sheen it never had before.

I was (some would say, “am”) young and vaguely foolish.

Of course, when you walk around with a wrist so dark green it looks like you are:

A. slowly turning into the Hulk,
B. hiding an alien inside your wrist,
C. very fond of green, leafy vegetables (actually, eating a large amount of those won’t turn you green. I’ve checked.),
D. carrying some kind of deadly mold on your wrist,
E. a carrier of some form of the plague,
or F. all of the above,

people feel inclined to ask questions.

That or they stare at your wrist and forget how to speak in normal sentences and pray that “that thing” never touches them.

At first, I would proudly hold up my wrist for a closer inspection and declare, “Copper turns skin green! Don’t you think the green sets off my bracelet so nicely?”

They would inevitably do one of three things:

1. sigh in relief and treat me like a slightly deranged but mostly harmless human being,
2. nod slowly and back away very quickly, never breaking eye contact until they were out of reach,
or 3. roll their eyes and tell me to take the bracelet off and please go wash my arm (this was mostly The Life-Givers).

I’ve always been a very dramatic child so these encounters always left me feeling discontent, like there was some great potential here that I was missing.

Then, one day, I was talking to a younger cousin I hadn’t seen in a while, and the question about my green arm inevitably came up.

I opened my mouth to give my usual answer when brilliance struck.

“I was bitten by a West African Flying Spider.”

His mouth dropped open in shock and awe, and he stammered out, “What’s that?”

I explained that it was a very rare, but extremely poisonous spider.

I told my young, naive cousin that I had been stalking one, trying to catch it, when it turned around and started chasing me!

He gasped and fell back. (It helped that he was deathly afraid of spiders.)

“I ran as fast as I could,” I said. “But those things are fast. I threw up my hands to try to swat it down, and it bit me, right here on the wrist, injecting its poison into my bloodstream.”

He was very nervous, his eyes flickering about the room. He asked me all kinds of questions about what it looked like and how it moved.

Being the wonderful, sweet person I am, I described a common wolf spider.

(The poor kid is still afraid of spiders, but he doesn’t remember that he has me to thank for that.)

Suddenly, his face cleared of all fear.

I knew the game was up, that he’d figured out I was making the whole thing up.

I prepared to laugh with him.

“Really?” he said. “I mean, I get that it bit you, but you’re still alive. It can’t be that bad.”

And so back into the story I went.

I explained that, luckily, I was close to a hospital.

I staggered to it, watching the green poison spread up my arm, knowing that, once the green reached my heart, I’d be dead.

He was close to tears.

I knew I needed to save myself quick so he wouldn’t have permanent damage.

So, I told him that, once again luckily, I fell into the doors of the ER right in time and a passing doctor happened to recognize my symptoms and have a copper bracelet in his pocket.

He slapped that puppy on my wrist, and immediately, the copper drained the poison back down my arm.

That bracelet filled with poison, and he quickly replaced it with another, smaller one. The one I was currently wearing.

Obviously, it wasn’t able to pull out all the poison, but it was maintaining it, keeping it all in this one spot.

His eyes were huge, so I added just for his benefit, “And if I ever take the bracelet off, the poison will spread even faster, and I’ll die.”

And then he dissolved into tears, and I felt like a horrible human being.

Nevertheless, this became the story I told absolutely everyone when they asked me about my wrist.

This was when I realized the power of storytelling.

To me, this was very obviously fake. I thought that everyone knew that copper turned skin green. I thought that everyone would be able to recognize the outrageous-ness of my story and know it was only a story.

It was only when people went to The Life-Givers, asking about my spider bite, or got worried when I finally took the bracelet off that I realized they had believed me.

Over the years, ever since then, I’ve told a lot of stories – each more outrageous than the last, each pushing the limits of what people believe, trying to see how far they’re willing to go.

Now, I’m more honest about it. Once I know they absolutely believe me, I’ll tell them I’m just joking or that it’s a story I made up.

Sometimes, they’re so wrapped up in this fiction I’ve created for them, though, they think the lie is when I tell them it’s all a lie.

People believe the most compelling truth, even when everything they know goes against it. People will trust what you tell them over what they can see, hear, and taste for themselves. If you put a tiny grain of truth in the most outrageous lie, they’ll cling to that grain and declare, “See? This has to be true!”

This is the power of words. This is the power of human trust. This is something that I’m learning to not use quite so flippantly.