Tombstones and other grave concerns

Tracey Crocker, a sophomore at Johnson State College, is majoring in English with minors in Literature and Creative Writing. Originally from St. Albans, Vermont, Crocker was immersed in fine arts in high school. She has a multitude of hobbies that include theater, film production, and creating a variety of “things.” After hearing about Crocker’s infamous “Purple Nurple” Converse, Basement Medicine sat down with her to learn about her artistic ventures and hobbies, and to learn how her interesting outer-wear reflect the unique individual she is.

So you’re an English major. What is your favorite book and author?

Oh, of course this question. I don’t want to be cliché and say “The Great Gatsby,” but I’d have to say that is my favorite book. My favorite author would probably be Edgar Allen Poe.

What is the weirdest thing you have overheard?

“Dude . . . it’s just a banana. It’s not gay.” I have no context for what they were talking about . . . but it became writing material. Jensen Beach also says a lot of weird things he wishes I didn’t record but . . .

What is the weirdest thing you have ever written?

I was in a creative writing class in high school, and the way he set up his prompts is he would give you five randomly generated words which were used to make a short story. He didn’t tell us we would be using this story later on to make a ten page story. So I wrote a ten page story using the words: ostrich, milkshake, yellow, banana, and shoelace. Most people took this and wrote about a runaway zoo, but I went from the perspective of the ostrich, and in the one page story, it was fine. In the ten page story, it became very existentialist and this ostrich was left wondering why he couldn’t fly if he had such big wings. It was one of those things you should have abandoned, but I stuck with it.

I’ve heard you have a massive camera collection. Is that a hobby?

Yeah, it started out with going to different estate sales and yard sales. I started picking up old cameras, mostly for aesthetic in the beginning, but then I started learning how to use them. I have eight and only about half of them work, but it is still fun to keep them around.

Do you have any obsessions?

I have always been very interested in creating things. I hardly find myself in a dull moment when I’m not making something in a different way, whether it be filmmaking, photography, acting, playing music, et cetera. I am just starting to learn watercolor painting . . . Technical skill is zero, but I am still having fun. I really am not an obsessive person, but I think that would be the closest.

What film productions have you been in?

I haven’t been in any at Johnson, unfortunately. I was in “The Twenty-fifth Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which was a play about a spelling bee where I was one of the lead alternatives. I got to sing a song about how I’m not that smart. I’ve also been in “Grease,” et cetera. I have been acting since fifth grade. Other notable plays were “Pirates of Penzance,” “Annie,” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

What other hobbies do you have?

Music has always been a very serious passion for me. It started when I was about five, and I told my dad I wanted to be a rock star. So he buys me one of those first-act guitars. I was loud for sure. I definitely wasn’t good, but I was loud. In fifth grade, I started trumpet, as well as actually learning guitar. I started learning euphonium, bass guitar, [and] keyboard, and I started singing. I decided [that] if I couldn’t make my own band, or have people join me in a band, then I would just learn every instrument in a band. Music has always been something I go to when I am happy or sad. It gives you pretty crazy callouses, but [that’s] something I am willing to sacrifice.

You have pairs of Converse that say “Purple Nurple” and “Sticks and Stones.” What’s the story?

I wear mostly Converse and that is my favorite type of shoe. It started with a pair of Converse that I bought at TJMaxx for $20, which was a great deal for those types of shoes. I was in high school when I got those, and I wrote “left” and “right” on the opposite feet and thought that it was the funniest thing I could have done in the world, even though it wasn’t original. I guess it started before that, but the writing on them started in high school. When I was in fifth grade I bought a pair of high-top red Converse two sizes too big for me, because that was the smallest size they had. They finally fit me in eighth grade, so I kept those around and still have them. I realized it could be funnier if I was more expressive with my footwear. The purple shoes adopted the name “Purple Nurple,” and the grey ones say “sticks and stones.” When people ask about them, I say they are for breaking bones. It is more of a conversation piece, and it gets people asking about them. I have some collector edition ones that do not get drawn on, but these are one of my favorite hobbies.

You also usually sport lots of t-shirts with TV references. Do you have a favorite actor or show?

My favorite actor is Johnny Depp by far. My favorite show is “Parks and Recreation,” followed by “Bob’s Burgers.” I am all about comedies.

What is the best thing someone has said to you before?

The best thing someone has ever said to me was that my eyes reminded them of David Bowie, and I took that as one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. They’re not even the same color and I’m not sure where the compliment came from, but I was very flattered. I just had someone last week tell me that I remind them of Meryl Streep, and she is one of my favorite actresses. I may or may not have had my week of fame where I pretended, “Hey, I’m Meryl Streep.”

What is the worst thing someone has said to you?

This is hard to not get too negative . . . I don’t want to curse. I’ve had falling-outs, of course, but I think the worst thing someone said to me was one time when I was little. I have always been fascinated with the stars and the moon, and I was out with my best friend one night. We were walking around and I go, “Hey, look at the stars right now,” and she was like, “I don’t care. They’re just dots.” It broke my heart. I was so passionate and staring up at the sky, and she wouldn’t even look for me. That was probably one of my lowest moments, even though it wasn’t a big deal.

Are you a cat or dog person?

Both. I feel like there shouldn’t be a choice with that. I own cats, but I love every dog. The difference is that cats act like being in the same room is a coincidence, and dogs make it their life’s goal to be in the same room. I think the biggest difference is cats are like, “Oh, they feed me . . . I must be king,” and dogs are more like, “Oh, they feed me, they must be king.” I feel like there is so much happiness in these animals and there should be no separation . . . We should just own as many of both as possible.

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Disney World is a cop-out so I can’t say that. There was one time where my family and I were on vacation in Massachusetts near Cape Cod about two years ago, and we found this very small green building that just said “Zoo” on it. There were no windows, no cages, and it was about the size of Dewey. My dad just looked at us and said, “You guys want to go on an adventure?” and we all said yes. We walk in and it seems to just be a tiny gift shop. Someone asked us, “Wait, are you here for the attractions?” So they bring us downstairs, and it’s this big room that’s half aquarium and half zoo. There are penguins in the top and you keep going downstairs, and the animals progressively change. It is one of the strangest places I have ever been. There were chickens and peacocks outside. The arrangement of animals was puzzling. There were even hedgehogs, lemurs, and raccoons. It wasn’t planned, so that’s why it was so enjoyable. I really like being spontaneous.

Have you gone on any other spontaneous trips?

Yes, but not any successful ones. There have been a lot that have ended with mud, mosquitoes, and long naps afterward. But not a lot of noteworthy trips, unfortunately.

Can you name three items on your bucket list?

I have always wanted to go to a Comic-Con event, whether or not I dress up. I have heard the crowds are crazy, so I would like to experience that at least once in my life. I would love to go to New Zealand, because I have always heard it is such a beautiful place. I have family there and I get pictures every month, so I plan to get there sometime. Have you ever seen the movie “Tangled”? There are floating lanterns in the movie and I would love to go to a floating lantern festival, except I’m not sure where they would have them. It is almost like you are touching your own stars.

Do you have any pet peeves?

Yes. One of them is when people spell my name incorrectly, and that is expected because of my parents. Green markers are also a pet peeve, and this started when I was young. I threw a green marker at my brother when we got into a fight, and it missed him and exploded on the walls. We had just renovated the house and I didn’t want my parents to find out, so I spent about three and a half hours scrubbing the marker off of the walls. At one point it got on the door and I couldn’t get it off of the door, so I took a sandpaper pad and scrubbed. I re-painted it with white nail polish and it has always been very obvious, but they never noticed. My biggest pet peeve is the pronunciation versus the spelling of the word colonel. There is no “r” and it frustrates me. “Coll-oh-nel” . . . I don’t know. It pisses me off, you know?

Can you speak any foreign language?

No. There is a running joke that I can speak multiple languages, but I only know a few phrases. I am not fluent in Spanish, or any other language, in any way.

What do you think of when you see the color yellow?

Sunshine is the first thing that comes to mind, but I feel like that is very cliché. But I guess spring also comes to mind. Really, I just think of warmth and happiness in general.

What do you hope is written on your tombstone?

I would like my tombstone to read, “Nothing is written in stone.” I think it would be funny and it would be nice for grieving people to find a laugh amongst the sadness. I’m just so sarcastic so often that going out with a joke would be the best way to leave.