Thursday, November 17, 2005

Going Down

So I was falling down stairs yesterday. Again (it always happens in libraries, for some reason).

It wasn't too painful this time and certainly not caused by anything amusing. It's too bad, since I really need something of interest to share with the world, as I've been neglecting this blog of late. But on the way to the landing, I remembered something, something I'd almost forgotten. I had to pull out my photo album back at home, just to see the pictures. If they hadn't been there I think I would have doubted the occurance altogether. But there I was, me and my friend Jaren, at the top of the world, staring down upon creation and a Roman aquaduct, in the French Alps.

I had been sick for days on that trip; It hadn't really even been fun at that point, although I tried to make it so. I think I was dreadfully annoying, being so ill. But that day I was better, and I wanted good pictures of that aquaduct. So in the moist early morning air, Jaren and I climbed to the observation point, passing friends along the way.

I learned on my trip to England, pack as little as you can possibly manage. Rather than dragging five pairs of shoes with me, then, I took one. I love my Uggs. Not because they're cute, or a fad, I had them years before any of that. I love them because with them on my feet, at least one body part is warm, even when all the others have long numbed. I knew that if I brought the Uggs, I could wear them every day without being too hot or too cold, because that's just what Uggs do. They also made me feel like a Sherpa on the way up the mountain, complete with wooly hat. But Sherpas have shoes that don't slip on wet rocks and ice. And I don't.
On the way up the mountain, I was careful not to step on any of the debris left behind after Roman construction, the smooth white rock that made all my friends slip and fall all along the coastline earlier in the trip. We reached the top, marvelled at the view. I took some pictures with my digital camera. Jaren and I asked a friend to take one of the two of us together, overlooking the mountains behind us.

"Thanks," I said when he had finished. I was trying to sound smooth, suave even. I knew that anyone who had seen me earlier in the week, nauseous and hypoglycemic, would need to see how cool I could be, how, dare I say it, charming. He started down the path, Jaren behind him. "Hold on a sec," I called. I needed to put my camera around my neck. "I don't want to drop this." Knowing my luck it would have landed in the river, thousands of feet below. I put it over my head, into its case, took a step forward, grinning at the I-better-impress-him-or-else-he'll-tell-everyone-what-an-idiot-I-really-am-and-then-I'll-be-friendless-across-Europe-hot-soccer-guy. The next thing I knew I was falling rapidly toward a sharp drop-off.

A cliff, really.

Dropping into a pile of jagged rocks and a shallow body of water.

Jaren screamed.

I wonder what my obituary would have been like in French. And what would the hopeless joke of a paper at home have said? How many people from my high school would have claimed that they liked/befriended me that really had just pretended not to know me as I walked down the halls. (You know who you are.) As long as they didn't insult me, I wouldn't have minded. I'd rather think of it that way myself. January, 2005. The Peru Tribune reads:

Lately, Roann native dead in tragically ironic fall down cliff.

Roann native fails to yet again avoid the icy touch of death's hand.

Europe goes medieval on local girl, ending in death(--No--"ending in morbid injury and eventual demise."!)

Monty Python-esque moment proves the advice "Do Not Attempt" to be apt.

One of the best things about falling down stairs, as I do with some frequency, is that you know how to stop yourself from continuing to tumble. That was why I didn't die in France. I was bruised, though. And a little disoriented. I had hit my head relatively hard. However, instead of waiting to check the degree of injury as I usually do, I hopped up. I laughed.

(I think this was the point at which soccer-guy fled.)

I spent the next few days with vertigo, causing me to topple over again on the path and Jaren to grab my arm until we hit level ground. I also found myself sagging against banisters on random Rennaisance stairways and modern wheelchair ramps. That's how you know who your friends are. They don't pretend they don't know you when you act like an idiot, a fool, or a complete goon. They make sure you know where you step, even when you're laughing so hysterically that you have to go to the visitor's center, running into the pay-toilet, to ensure safety from further embarrassment.

I bought new shoes last Friday, to ensure that any further travels would have me standing on the cliff instead of reliving a Simpsons-esque gorge moment, complete with jagged rocks, poking me with their jags. Last night it dropped below freezing, and as I stepped out of the house this morning I had the opportunity to test my newfound traction in our driveway.

I bought band-aids this morning.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Curse of the Limited Release

I live in the country. And before you laugh and say, "Sure, so do I! I don't even have a mall in my hometown!" allow me to explain. I live in between a cornfield, and a house built on what was for the majority of my life, another cornfield. Behind my house is a river. Across the street is another cornfield. It is a five minute drive to the nearest "town," which is graced by a gas station and one stop sign (lots of yields though). Fifteen minutes would bring you to my high school, where a whole 97 people graduated with me in 2002. Another fifteen minutes in that direction will take you to the nearest McDonalds and grocery store, the main attractions in that town. In the other direction from my house, a half hour drive will take you to Wal-mart, another grocery store, and another McDonalds. If you'd like to see a movie--and I mean not one on DVD--you are presented with a problem.

For the past year, I have waited patiently for Pride and Prejudice to come to a theater near me.

Where I live, the average education ranges from below the high school level to the two-year vocational degree. Very few people have a college degree, and those people either teach in the school, work in the hospital (which doesn't have a trauma center and is around forty minutes away from my house). I hate to be stereotypical, but what can I say? It's the truth! And some of those with college degrees don't use them. Well, I'll be honest, most people don't use their college degrees--they can't! Over the years, people have come to the point of either abandoning Indiana altogether, or working somewhere without ever using their degrees. They have no choice.

Not many of these people would want to see Pride and Prejudice with me.

I live in a place where Dumb and Dumberer stays in the theaters for nearly a full year, at least until it comes out on tape. Where if you claim to be learning Latin, people assume you want to move to Mexico. Where if you tell someone you're majoring in English, they laugh and reply, "That don't sound like no fun. Whenever I was in school, I hated English classes. I never done good in them." I then go home and cry, because we once had a beautiful language.

I find today, my dream movie isn't coming. Not to the forty-minute away movie theater. Not to the hour-and-a-half away theater either. And certainly not to the hour-and-forty-five-minutes away theater. Not even in Indianapolis can I see Pride and Prejudice or if I can, they aren't telling me online.

I love Jane Austen. She came from a cornfield too, except we would call it a wheat field here, and her father was a pastor just as mine is. She writes, as do I. I've read everything she's ever written, and I'm sure she would do the same for me, if, you know, she wasn't dead. I took a trip to her homes (in Bath, Chawton, and Winchester) and to where she was buried, even to the monument in Westminister Cathedral's Poet's Corner. Now that Pride and Prejudice has been interpreted in film once more, and in my lifetime, I am overjoyed! Someone else values her contrabution as well!

But that includes no one in my state.

It's on days like these that I wonder why I love where I live. The number of Barnes and Nobles are slight, we have almost no privately owned bookstores, and the libraries are little more than public video rental stores and community computer labs. It sometimes takes months for new novels, even cutting edge ones, to reach a library. When they do, it doesn't do me much good, because I have to pay an average of forty dollars to use any of them (see, no one wants my spot of countryside as it is too close to the county line).

As a state, Indiana sets its intellectuals up for failure. We have nothing to tempt them, except in business and positions teaching at the college level. If I were to get a master's degree or even a Ph.D., I would be driven at least as far as Chicago in search of employment. And I'm not the only one!

I'm wondering, if movie theaters took a risk with a good (if perhaps, intellectual) movie, would our young people acclimate themselves to thinking and asking questions without being forced by their high school teachers? At least their parents wouldn't discourage them from seeing a movie as they would if children wanted to see a play.

I know I'm only dreaming, but sometimes it seems like Indiana has forgotten that people like me exist. So, here I am (a friendly wave).

Please let me see my movie next weekend.

I can't take another trip to Wal-mart as weekend fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Drieser took me to Hell last night!

And he left me there.

I hate that man (he's dead, so that's not such a crime, I guess. All the same, I can't make a voodoo doll of someone whose dead, or impact the world by burning an effigy of someone who isn't alive to see himself burned). Just because an author is from one's home state does not make him worth reading. I suppose in Indiana, the ability to read and write still guarantee's success in any field. But you know, I'm not too sure Theodore Drieser qualifies even under those standards.

If you don't know who this cursed soul is, count yourself lucky. If you do, you know that he wrote the books American Tragedy and Sister Carrie, both of which I am being forced to read, and at the same time. I quote my professor, "Drieser is well known for his inability to write with any talent. He is 'Mr. Clunky Sentance Writer'." I think that almost says it all. Except that Sister Carrie almost wasn't published in the 1900's due to immorality and (since today is not the Victorian era) is now devoid of interest.

This book consists of a woman, poor, coming to the city and finding herself the pround non-owner of many pretty things. She then finds what we today would refer to as a Sugar Daddy, who buys her what she wants, and she spends half of the novel wondering whether this is the right situation in which to live. She then leaves this man for another man, who "marries" her (he's got a wife already) and loses his job. After this point he sits in the house and wonders if he has chosen the right situation, and thinks about maybe looking for work, sometime (hopefully this book will end with the deaths of one or both of these characters, I'll let you know).

Now that you have some background, allow me to elaborate.

I love books. To me, they are more beautiful than the finest gems. I treat them with loving care, rarely does one see a book of mine with a fold in the page, a crease in the binding. My books seem almost untouched. If I leave one off of my immaculate bookshelf, my parents often assume I've purchased a new one. If I lend one of these tomes, it is an extra copy which I bought for that purpose, because rarely if ever do I allow another soul to even breathe upon the creamy white pages. If I could call anything in my life a replacement for a boyfriend or child, it would be my books. One day I will have the library from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and I will sing inside it, and read for days without food. I feared the destruction of my collection, and had made a list of the ones which would be rescued first, in case of fire. They are arranged in that order on my pure white bookshelf, starting with The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A McKillip (first edition), and ending with my cheaper mass market paperbacks, which are easier to replace.

Last night, I grew so weary of Mr. Clunky Sentance Writer and his indecisive Pseudo-Tess of the D'Urbervilles characters and semi stolen plot line, that I began to wound my copy of the book. I folded the cover backward, so that the back and front met. I Jennifered the pages (she knows what I mean) so that every edge curled. I beat it against the wall to loosen up the binding. I kicked it across the house instead of carrying it. I stood on it and slid into the kitchen for a glass of raspberry lemondade, then used it as a coaster. As a grand finale, I used it to murder a Die-Roach spider which lurked on the wall in the living room, then wiped its corpse off into a napkin. When I had finished, my hands were coated in its inky blood.

It came off nicely with a little soap and water.

Monday, November 7, 2005

And, in the dead of night...

"Satan spawned you!" I scream, as the feral beast sinks its claws into my leg once more, attempting to take me as prey. I have made the grave error of walking barefoot. Its attempt at amputation a failure, the swamp-thing releases an Exorcist-style growl and charges at me.

I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances.

I picked it up.

Immediately, my cat began to purr, curling up on my arm and blinking love to me, my beautiful Myst again.

I love my cat, and she loves me. She loves me so much, she even likes the way I taste. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be the woman on the Today show, described by Katie Couric as having died suddenly, only to be found a week later, apparently consumed by wild animals. But I know better, Katie. It was the cat. Then, ripped from the headlines, my story will appear on CSI, to national acclaim. (Please let it be Anne who tells my pitiful story. Katie, with her Monday morning fairy cheer would probably make a face and laugh at me, before running home to sing along with the Lolly Pop League. My corpse would be laughed at by Katie Couric).

When my family found Myst, we thought she was a kitten. We thought. Now I believe that she is either the first incident of cross breeding between a velociraptor and a house cat, demon possessed, or the proud owner of several, distinct personalities.

She also has a sock phobia, and is enraged by the scent of mint.

By the time she sank her teeth into my leg the other night, I had decided that Myst had already developed a taste for human flesh--my flesh, but the cat lover in my declares that she can change. Even as I sit at the dinner table, feeling claws puncture my thigh muscles, I love her more. When she crawls behind me on the back of the sofa and bites my hair, I forgive her. She has brainwashed me in her own kitty way. She controls me, directs me, to the point that I desire nothing more than to serve her every whim, simply to allow my wounds to scab over. She owns me. And she doesn't even drive to the grocery store to buy me food! Everything I do for her is an honor, something that she could revoke at any time. So I present her with Fancy Feast, kitty treats, and treakle (her hairball medicine) which she considers to be candy. Then I carefully remove the burs from her fur and allow her to bite me as she purrs. When she wants a chair, I give it to her. And when she abandons it a moment later, I leave it vacant in case her majesty changes her mind. When I'm lucky, she brings me live animals as presents, a boon to her loyal subject, which she releases into our home. A baby wood duck on Easter, a live angry, full-grown chipmunk, several mice of varied colors, she drops them at my feet and is gone. The lioness then reclines before her god of heat (the electric space heater) to worship him, hissing when touched.

My cat can be loving. I promise.

I know I cannot change her. So I adapt.

"Merry Christmas, Myst!" I declared last year, presenting her with a George W. Bush voodoo doll, which she sat on before tearing off its head to reveal the hidden catnip within, which W. had instead of a brain (go figure). I revealed to her the glory of the written word, awarding her my father's notebook to consume. I taught her the warmth to be found on the hood of a car, to wonderous results. So what if she puts holes in my nylons, as long as she does the same to Dad's ugly work-shirts? If I cannot slay the dragon, I shall bring her fresh prey.

Adapt or die.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Suspense is Killing Me

Sitting and waiting for this doctor's appointment has made me consider the massive amount of things that are going wrong with me, even as we speak.

-I eat Tums like candy

-I'm allergic to life itself, including the office I work in, the library I work in, the old school I volunteer in, my car, my basement, the outdoors, perfume, mint, and, ironically, newspaper print

-Bronchial spasms (at least that's what we think they are--no one really knows) make me feel like I'm having heart tremors

-I get carsick while standing/sitting still

-I take Tylenol p.m. just to fall asleep at night--and I never consume caffiene--but although I have massive dark circles under my eyes, they are caused by something else

-Hypersensitivity to adrenaline makes my hands shake constantly

-I always inhale what I drink, no matter what it is. This also includes ice cream, even though that is eaten.

-I fall down stairs and off curbs so often, I don't even know where half the bruises are from, or if the random pain I feel suddenly from different parts of my body is caused by clumsiness or cancer. Cancer of the elbow, the pinkie toe, the kneecap, you name it.

And if I list any more, it will be horrifying, and possibly blind you. Do you think the doctor will overlook all this, or will I be interred at the hospital?

A Visit to the Doctor...

Today, I travel to another town. This is no quest for enlightenment, not even for fun. No, I go to see whether the sugeon who operated on me wants to give it another whirl.

This woman may be a lovely person. She may be moral--indeed--an upstanding citizen! But no matter who or what she is, to me, she will always carry with her the mark of evil. The fogs of hell surround her office, smoke rising from the skin pit, screams from the den of "I'm Not Touching You." I picture her using the piece she removed from me (the day after my eighteenth birthday) for her voodoo magic, waving the eucalyptus plant from her waiting-room to exaggerate my allergies, leaving me whimpering, eyes watering, clutching my Flonase in futile defense as Allegra scatters across the floor. She's heating her pokers, sharpening her scalpels--long, jagged blades certain to leave a vile scar as a twin for the first. She screams to the heavens, "Give us Laura!" Pictures of myself, strapped to an operating table flash in black-and white photography as she cuts me open like a fish once again.

But, you know, she could be nice, P.L.U. and the like.

I grant, my being sick was not her fault. Really. But if I had to go through what I did, shouldn't I be able to blame something? And who is a better target than the woman who discovered the fatal flaw within me? I can't prove her evil any more than she can tell me what caused the problem in the first place.

But for me, the latter is too adult of a position. I know she wants another look inside me. Once you see my insides, you never go back. No one builds kidneys quite like mine, and my liver!Don't get me started on my liver! (But if you like that, you should see my pancreas. That's the money organ.)

So at 4:30p.m. today, I go to my doom. The gates of hell are creeping open...

If you don't hear from me by Monday, well, just go on without me. Face it, a monkey could do this job.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Why is it that some people refuse to accept a difference in opinion? One of the best things about living in a land that professes the right of freedom of speech is that we are able to say, "Hey, that doesn't make sense to me!" That is why forums like this one evolve, in which people say what they want to say, and others may respond if they so choose.

I, for one, think it utterly absurd that Indiana tax-payers are building an enoramous new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts. Sorry sports fans, but it just doesn't make sense. If I played pro-football and made millions of dollars, I don't think I would mind too much if I was asked to shell out a few bucks to help pay for a stadium that would make me even more. And instead of letting the precious Colts slip through our fingers, Indiana's government has agreed, we will pay.

This is money that President Bush will want spent on his plan for flu preparation.This is money that could fill the pot-hole in front of my house (I live on a state road--they pay and manage repairs), or--and here's something absurd--pay off some of the state deficit! Or, it could be in my pocket and yours, allowing me to pay off my student loans faster (it could even, gasp, be awarded to students to let them go to college) or buy a replacement for my tired old car. It could be invested into the state and allow people to have jobs here other than as a farmer, a construction worker, a nurse, a factory worker, or in fast food chains. Maybe then we could have young people stick around and make our state something more than a cornfield and home to the Indy 500 once a year.

Ha! I said it. And you couldn't interrupt me, could you? Even if you wanted to. I know you might think I'm wrong, but too bad. Because if you can sit and tell me what you think, I should be able to do the same think, without being overruled or made to feel worthless. Respect is important, even when you disagree. And not just about this issue. The people who follow this form with me know who they are.

For those of you who wouldn't have yelled, thank you. If you have something to say about some other topic, or this one, I will do you the same courtesy. I bet some of you aren't even my mom!


I can't find my glasses anywhere. I've been all over the house, top to bottom. I know I put them in a safe place, somewhere I was sure to be able to find in a rush. Why, then are they gone?

We have bad luck in my house with glasses. Months ago, the lens fell out of my mother's pair.

"Can you see that?" she asked, poking the tiny screw with her fingernail. "I can't even see to put it back in!"

So Laura, the obediant daughter, put the screw in. Then searched for our tiny screwdriver (also in a safe place). Failing to find it, I used a knife from our kitchen and did my best to tighten it

"You'll need to go to the eye doctor," I said. "This is going to fall out again."

But no one listens to me about things of importance. That's why my dad thinks his heart medicine is optional and that acrid smoke pouring of the engine of our van is really no big deal.

A few days passed, I put the lens back in again. Another few days, I did the same. Finally, the other lens fell out, and I put them both back in. Now it was really time to go to the eye doctor.

But we didn't.

Eventually, the lens again fell out. The porcelain of the bathtub ground its smooth surface until use for vision correction was impossible. That pair was thrown away, and Mom fished out another pair of glasses, this one from the eighties, equipped with massive lenses and (as a bonus) the wrong perscription. Dad then bought himself new glasses. Now the lenses of Mom's old pair are falling out. Especially when she leaves them on the sofa and we sit on them. Still no eye doctor.

I have this fear, rising up within me, that my glasses were left under the wheel of a moving car, or on the floor of one of my classrooms in the Ad. building. Maybe they were in a bag of trash scooped off of my floor, like my retainer was all those years ago, and now they reside at the county dump. My flawless contacts feel as if they grate against my eyes, warning me that I could need those glasses at any moment.

What happened to me? I never lose anything! Within the last ten years, I can remember losing only two things: my retainer (which Mom threw away) and my Borders gift card (which may be in Italy). I even remember where other people put things so that their belongings aren't lost forever. That's just how reliable I am. So where are the glasses?

Look, if you're reading this, they're in a navy blue case. Open it up, and the pseudo-velvet lining stays closed. The not-quite-fixative is a muddy yellow color. If you see them, let me know. Because when I lose things, it isn't just a little deal. No, these glasses could be in China by now--I don't know. They may have been adopted by a kind Sudanese couple. They could be helping National Geographic catalogue the Amazon. We still haven't found that stuffed rabbit I lost when I was four! I don't want my glasses ending up on the Island of Misfit Toys from that Christmas movie.

Remember, a navy blue case.

Navy blue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Alas, Poor Laura


Sunday I hurt myself again.

It was horrible, such a pity it was self-inflicted. I could have put someone in jail, or paid off all my student loans, or maybe bought a car which starts when I want it to and not the other way around. Before you assume I am a cutter, or that I should be institutionalized, let me explain. It wasn't my fault. Who makes stairs to look like a gentle upward slope? Who? Because that's the person who owes me big-time.

All I wanted to do was warn Jaren that the play was about to begin. I should have been able to walk upstairs, shouldn't I? But instead I tripped, stood on my right foot rather than the floor, and thinking I had regained balance, attempted to step forward with the trapped right foot. I was the opening act, the whole theater saw me. But I retained some dignity.

I didn't fall flat on my face.

I just tumbled, catching myself in a sort of chicken-dance posture in my own tragic ballet.

What makes me think of this is the slight throbbing which radiates from my wounded foot. I have a heel-shaped purple bruise there now. Forensic scientists would just love me. I bet they could find the shoe that did it. Curse my beautiful Target ballet flats! Never again will I buy a shoe without a soft rubber sole. The clip-clop of a woman's shoe on a tile floor is overrated anyway. I don't need to sound business-like. I can be a clod; I promise. I've done it before! I will leave off brushing my hair, buy Hanes sweat pants, and wear oversized t-shirts embellished with Tweety-bird's giant face. I will chew gum with my mouth open, and keep my Wal-mart tennis shoes until the white turns gray-brown and all the rubber peels away and falls off. I can do it! Why should I dress nicely if it only leads to pain? I can't count the number of times my mascara has made my contacts scratch my eyes and abandon ship. I will stop using both. Maybe then I can protect myself!

But then I remember the true cause. The incidents in which I find myself skating down a hallway in my high school, balanced on my elbow as I travel in the wake of all my books, holding a camera aloft above me in my right hand to protect it at any cost. The moments of blind terror, in which I realize that Mom wasn't holding the door open for me, as it turns and turns, and I remain the only obstacle in its path, trapped, while the stylish girl who wants inside forces her body weight against the not-quite-revovling door to start up the motion again. My fault. The students in my FYC class stepping over my prone form, sprawled on the ice below them, on their way to the computer lab. Ouch. All the bruises on my collarbone from misjudgements in door-frame locations, on my hand from unseen chairs, doorknobs, and tables. Again, my fault.

And I really don't think this is a phase anymore.

Tell me world, is there an escape? Can I buy a bubble to live in? Do they sell those on E-bay?

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

In the Office...

I enjoy the privilage of being the English department assistant at Manchester, a position which comes with its very own office. This affords me the ability to claim a room entirely of my own.

Not that I grew up sharing a room with anyone--I always had my own--I only mean to say that here is a room, in which I now sit, where I am never disturbed. No younger brother (or father) walking in to stare at my television with glazed eyes before wandering, wordless, away. No cat demanding food. No call from my mother, offering a snack or asking a favor. Nothing. Silence is deafening.

Here, even if people visit, they knock.

I never knew a life could be more private than the one I once had. Now at last, I understand Virginia Woolfe's ideas. So, with a room of my own and a little money, I begin my blog.
I hope time will not see it abandoned as quickly as other enterprises.