Friday, January 06, 2006

Pivotal Moments

Throughout my life, there have been some moments. Now, we all have moments. I'm having a moment right now. But these particular moments are ones that stand out in my mind as being somewhat pivotal. No, not somewhat. They were, I am convinced. Pivotal in the way that I'm sure that because they happened, or the way in which they happened or didn't happen, as the case may be, that it somehow altered my life, in ways I don't even know, nor could possibly know. But I am certain of it. Unfortunately we can't all be Gwyneth Paltrow and see what life would have been like if we had just made it between the sliding doors. But it doesn't even matter. I know these are pivotal moments, that have changed the course of my life to what it is today, for good or bad. Here are the ones I can think of so far.


When i was in 3rd grade, we were learning about dinosaurs in science class. Mr Davies never sat at his desk in the back but on the table in the front. Always. We had to do special projects for the dinosaur unit and we could choose which ones we wanted to do. One that I chose was a paper maché Brontosaurus spray painted silver. I mean, talk about a thing of beauty. It was majestic, glorious, and guaranteed "cool" points by my peers. If that wasn't enough, we also made a chocolate Stegosaurus cake. If you want to know what genius is, talk to my mom. She'll tell you all about me. HA HA. No, but for real. Obviously this was my mom's doing. She actually cut a big sheetcake out in the shape of a dinosaur and then used chocolate keebler cookies that were sort of shaped like parallelograms, as the plates. She put them in slanted so the pointy side poked up. Brilliant! Then we frosted it with chocolate frosting and i knew i would be the envy of everyone in my class--the school--the WORLD!

In my class we'd break for lunch in the middle and come back afterwards. That was to be when my mom would drop off the goods. When we came back, I couldn't see them anywhere. I had told my teacher all about it. But they were nowhere to be seen. I was devastated. I think it was a Friday too, so having them the next day would be impossible. Finally, my excitement shattered, i left class when it was dismissed and all visions of being crowned "Coolist Kid in the Galaxy" vanished.

Later, after school, did I learn that my mom had come during lunchtime as planned but had put the dinosaurs on the teacher's desk. It wasn't her fault. I mean, what teacher doesn't go to his desk, EVER? I blame him. He ruined my glory that day. I often think back on this moment and when in a negative mood with nothing to blame, I am utterly convinced every complaint I've ever had about my life is connected to this one moment. If only I had looked back at the desk. Arrggh, I can almost taste the lost possibilities of what might have been.

***

One of the great joys of my childhood life was going sledding. I still miss it but don't have the chance to go and haven't gone for years. Back in the day when we used to actually get a substantial amount of snow in Utah, we would go sledding in the fields (now residential neighborhoods) back behind my house. The field was huge and there were two pretty high and good-sized hills facing each other. The one side was the one we went down and knew well. It was closer to the house. The other side was foreign, uncharted territory on the small map of us sledders. *pause* Ok, i just read the last sentence and was kind of unsatisfied with it until i saw that "us sledders" would be way better and funnier as "U.S. sledders" as if there is a real, official sledding organization.... of which I would be president! Heck yeah! Anyway, let's get back to it.

Ok, so the one hill was great. We could more or less figure out the smoother areas and it was just all good fun. Side note on this topic: I swear there is no activity more physically exhausting than sledding. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, all that garb was totally unnecessary since I was sweating profusely under it. If you want a good workout, go sledding where you have to hike back up the hill. Then after 10 trips down and up, when you pass out at the foot of the hill and lay there motionless for 20 minutes in the snow, you can cool off and it feels so good. Then you start to get really warm and sleepy....mmm... just kidding.

Ok! So one day we decided to venture across the field to the "other" hill. This hill had a steeper slope and greater altitude than the other. But it looked intriguing. Along the slope were sagebrush bushes almost everywhere. We started going for test runs--slow at first--to see what would be the best paths to take. This was great because it was like a maze going around the sagebrush. We discovered a great route to take. At the foot of it, at the very end of the ride, were two final but gentle-enough bumps--really fun. So you're going down and then, whoop! whoop! Ahhh! BUT. We found that at this certain sagebrush bush just before the bumps, if you went to the left of it, all was well. But if you went to the RIGHT-- danger zone. If you went to the right, the two "bumps" at the end were like 2 small mountains. Very high peaks. Don't go to the right of the sagebrush unless you want to break your back.

This pivotal moment might have a pivotal item within it. That pivotal sagebrush bush. On the 7th trip down or so, i was catching some good speed. Does that make sense? Making good speed? Ok, i was going very very fast. Picking up wind! Ah, there it is. Anyway, and this normally is great. I mean, that's the point of sledding and doing it on an incline, or decline or whatever. But i was going faster...and faster....until i reached the pivotal sagebrush. I could see it coming and, to my fright, was veering to the right. Do what i could to steer to the left, gravity said "sorry sucker!" and i helplessly watched in what felt like slow-mo myself and my sled--which was probably a tube or a disc/saucer-- slide to the right of that bush where i cringed for the inevitable. Swoop! Swoop! BAM! Isn't it interesting, how paralyzing hurting your tailbone can be. I mean, you just can't move at all if you hurt your tailbone. Why do we even have stupid tailbones?? @#$%. Anyway, Needless to say, sledding was over for that day and we made our way home. Even though a hurt tailbone vs. not doesn't seem like that big of deal--i mean, i did recover-- I feel that my life would somehow be different in a significant way, if i had only gone to the left. How? I don't know. I took the road less traveled by--on accident--and it has made all the difference. I have always felt the pivotalness of that moment. Pivotalitude. Pivotality? That's a fun game. Moving on...

***

One time when I was in Jr. High, I was playing Clue with friends and i started the game. It was the first turn of the game and i rolled a crappy 3 or something so the only place i could go was the dumb Studio or whatever, where nothing EVER happens. so i went in, guessed some random person with a random murder weapon in that room and amazingly, one by one, everyone said they couldn't prove me wrong. What? I mean, that's absurd, right? I was sure they were joking but they weren't. We all were stunned. So the only thing we could do was open the yellow evidence envelope and find out for ourselves. I was right. It was a boardgame miracle. And i am certain that was the root of some great things in my life.

***

This one happened when I was 18 and I actually have it recorded in my journal. But regardless, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of those strange moments where so many strange things occur in a span of like, 2 seconds. You could almost see a literal chain as the events took place. It was like the cosmos came together at that precise moment and place in time and formed one of the funniest moments I can remember. This is a pivotal moment because I think the gods were testing me to see just how well i could handle the serious hilarity of this situation. Either that, or to see if they could get me to pee my pants. I think I won, but barely.

This took place at a Utah restaurant called Porter's Place--very hometown and rustic. Big burgers, lots of character. My sister Ashley and I were sitting on a wooden bench.

October 8, 1998

The trigger was when I dropped my little container of honey butter while pouring it onto my scone. It landed on my knee and then dumped out onto the floor. I screamed like a girl because I thought it dumped all over my pants and that scared Ash and made her jump, which caused our bench to tip back slightly. She reflexed and reached out to grab something, which was the ketchup, but she didn't grab it but wildly swatted at it instead, knocking it over and creating an extremely loud bang. We were DYING. It was so FUNNY!


***

This experience has just reminded me of a similar experience i had, maybe a year or so later. The details of this are sketchy but now I'm thinking it might have been the same cosmos but for a different purpose. To punish me, perhaps? For succeeding in NOT wetting my pants the last time they came together. I believe it went something like this:

I was at the refrigerator with the freezer door opened. And they had it so the door would slowly swing shut if left open, a feature i shake msy fist at to this day. I wanted the ice cream which was a half gallon of something. I remember a short moment of chaos when something else came tumbling out. I pushed back open the freezer door, retrieved the item, and put it in the freezer when the ice cream i wanted came tumbling out immediately after. I bent down to pick it up and as i stood back up (which was apparently done with much force and speed), my head banged into the door that was making its way shut which totally threw me back down (belly-down) on the floor, forcing me to land on the ice cream i had been holding, totally squishing it, whereupon some other freezer item (probably the one that fell out before) came tumbling out, hitting me squarely on the back. UHNN! <-- that's me grunting. Same as before, this all happened within mere seconds and left me in a stupor when it was over. My sisters Stephanie and Ashley were witnesses to this event, one we all cherish, i think. It's one of those events that, when i die, will be the first thing of the video tape of my life that i want to see.


***

I know I have many more pivotal moments that have happened in my life and foresee having a Pivotal Moments II post in the future. If you have any you can think of and would like to share, do it. You probably have more than you think.

8 comments:

Ruthie said...

oh man. gotta admit i'm still laughing from envisioning and re-envisioning your ice cream/freezer door encounter.

i'm glad you shared that moment with me, albeit indirectly and unknowingly. I'm sure my life is significantly better having experienced it.

ah man. that's funny.

Ruthie said...

One more comment I feel I need to share. I've thought of it a few times in the last few weeks so obviously it pivotal..at least to some degree. Here goes:

So, I believe this happened on the way to or from San Diego one time, I think Rachel was driving, and we were stuck in incredibly bad traffic. (anyone who knows better, feel free to correct the details, it's just the result that's important) I'm not even sure who else was there. Andrea, Rachel, me, Gary?You?Ash?. Uh.. Anyway, regardless, it started snowing and since the traffic was slow. Everyone was restless including the cars around us, and then Andrea wanted to get out and touch the snow on the ground. To make a snowball? Or lick it? Don't know, but she got out. And then, as requested by others in the car, we shut the door, locked them, and pulled forward a little. Andrea saw us leaving and ran and started knocking on the windows. We kept pulling up and wouldn't let her in. Yes, eventually we did, but not after getting some amusement for ourselves, as well as entertaining te people in the other cars as well. I think we made everyone's day near us on the freeway that day. Although my part may have been small, I remember it as one of my greatest moments.

Ash said...

Oh man, the ice cream incident. Such a classic. I'm reading this at work and I was totally doing the shoulder-shake laugh, but then when it started to be a laugh-out-loud laugh, I had to cough to cover it up. I seem to remember another element that you didn't include, although I could have made it up to make the story even better the countless times we've tried to recreate it. I thought that while you were heading "belly-down" (I love it) on top of the ice cream, another item fell out of the freezer hitting you on the back, totally adding to the complete chaos in an even funnier way. Do you remember this?

Jen said...

THAT, dear sister, is TRUE. Thanks for the reminder! I will add that in immediately.

Rus--what a great moment. I wish i'd been there. Taunting Andrea is always a good choice. :D

Steph said...

Oh man...I totally had to wipe away tears. That ice cream incident is one of the THE BEST moments ever. (Will you call me when you're reviewing that in heaven?) How I thank my lucky stars that I was present to witness that. Ash, I'm supporting your observation. That's how I remember it too. Did the hitting in the back actually send you on your belly or were you headed there anyway? In my head I remember it as sort of the ice cream that broke Jen's back...so to speak. :)

Jen said...

No because i definitely squished the ice cream so i had to have been holding it.

Although, the item hitting me in the back and THAT sending me to the floor may have been how it was. Hmmm. I might have to change it again. I'll ponder that for a while. Such a mystery.

Lianna said...

I thought of a moment from Jen's life that may or may not be pivital, you tell me, but I don't think I will ever forget it. We went out in some guy's boat in Utah Lake summer of 2002 and as we were pulling away from the dock, Jen was sitting on the side of the boat and all of a sudden she knocked her own glasses off the top of her head backwards into the water. Now here is the amazing part, without a moments thought, she fell backwards, diving after them into the water. The water was probably only 5 feet deep or so, but murky. The amazing thing is, she put her foot down on the bottom and when she lifted it up, there were her glasses, between her toes! Anyone else remember? Maybe a little different? Well, it was pretty funny and memorable to me.

Aidr J said...

A) I was glad to see the ice cream story was in the pivotal moments. i was hoping the whole time i was reading that it would appear (sorta like hoping to see the EATMOT but then not).

i've tried to retell that story over the years but have forgotten details until it was like "she tried to get something out of the freezer and hit her head" so i'm glad to get the refresher.

B) some corrections to Ruthie's story:
- i was out of the car picking up HER freaking trash and...
-the other cars were laughing cause as i was trying to catch up to the i slipped in my flip flops in the icy snow and fell into the road. luckily we were in a traffic jam or ruthie wouldn't be laughing so hard.