Monday, December 28, 2009

Because

Because* I decided to knit holiday ornaments for my coworkers, I didn't get much sleep Saturday night.

Because I have a shiny new Kindle, I got even less sleep on Saturday night.

Because I didn't sleep on Saturday night, I was tired on Sunday.

Because I was tired on Sunday, I had a lot of caffeine.

I had a lot of caffeine because we were having a family Christmas celebration in South Bend/Elkhart.

Because I wanted to be chipper.

Since I was chipper, with my StreamOfConsciousness Conversations that could put Kerouac to shame, my family laughed and had fun.

Because this is so rare, I drank more sweet tea to keep it up.

But because my grandmother suffers from foot-in-mouth disease, it didn't work.

Because it was snowy, it took us over two hours to get home.

Because I had a tension headache, because my grandmother has foot-in-mouth disease, I had to take medicine.

Since we had nothing to drink in the car but pop with caffeine, we stopped in Warsaw.

Because McDonald's after 10:00 p.m. is scary, Mom wouldn't let me go in alone (isn't that sweet?).

And because she felt bad about leaving Paul at home (because Darcy can't be left by herself all day long because she is just a little dog with a--presumably--little bladder, and because my grandfather also has foot-in-mouth disease and it was safer for Paul to avoid that) Mom had to get him a treat. So we stopped for ten minutes.

Because they put such freaky brick outside the doors, I wiped out a little. A lot. And I pulled my back.

Oh--and because life can be sad sometimes Dad stayed behind in Elkhart.

This wouldn't have been a problem, except that unlike Dad, Mom doesn't use her bumper and high speed to plow through high drifts of snow, nor does she off-road it (well, technically not off-road) by driving the drifted-shut county roads to avoid the elderly, young, and or fearful drivers with whom we share the road.

And because it was dark, I couldn't knit in the car.

Moreover, because it had been dark for a while, I had already lost one needle in the backseat, and feared that it would not return...

But because it was dark, I couldn't see that it was just on top of the carry-out box from Outback, so I could have been knitting the whole time we were opening presents. At least during the awkward times during which Grandma was choking on her foot, it was so far down her throat.

And because I didn't finish the little stocking I was making, I had to finish when I got home (even though it turns out that it wouldn't have mattered, because two of my coworkers won't be in until Wednesday...so the stockings will be sitting on their desks until then)

Because I had to finish them, I didn't go to sleep the second I got home, at 11:00 p.m., otherwise known as Laura's Bedtime.

And you would think that, because I didn't go right to sleep and because I was already sleep-deprived, I would have fallen asleep relatively quickly. Right?

But because I 1. have insomnia 5-7 nights a week and 2. drank caffeine when I usually never touch the stuff (except in the occasional sweet tea at lunch time well before it could cause any harm), I finished steam-blocking the mini-stockings and was still not tired.

Because I am used to insomnia (see above) I have the happy OTC sleepy-time drug, Tylenol PM.

So I took some.

But because I am so unused to caffeine, it didn't work at all. Not even a little.

Still, mentally I was exhausted (see above).

Physically, I was in pain and exhausted (see above).

That being said...I wasn't paying so much attention to the whole sleepy-time rituals.

Because I wasn't paying close attention, I completely forgot to take out my contacts.

This I discovered this morning, when I woke up to my alarm to snap-focus on the first thing I saw. Which happened to be my television.

I realized there was a problem when I could tell the television was a television, and that it had a screen, and that the screen was shiny, and that there were buttons beneath it. Honest to goodness buttons.

Uh oh...

I had wondered at first why my eyes felt glued shut. I thought I'd slept with my face in my heating vent again, or that the glue fairy had come to make life hard for me by sealing my eyelids tightly to my eyes with her magic fixative, or that maybe, just maybe, the lack of sleep had something to do with it.

But the seeing...that meant there were contacts. Or divine interventions. More likely contacts.

And in a move that reminded me of the story I saw on ER, or perhaps it was one Jen told me, or someone else (Adam the Paramedic?) I set about peeling my corneas from my eyes.

It was immensely painful, it made my eyes tear up, and if I hadn't been sure it was a contact I was getting out, I could have sworn that I'd ripped those corneas right off like flaky sunburned skin.

The only other time I'd slept in contacts had been that freaky time when I had the fever that made me pass out in Mr. Cullers' biology class right on my desk, which my uninspired classmates confused for falling asleep due to extreme boredom.

I don't think that fainting really counts.

Why would people sleep in contacts on purpose? Doesn't it hurt them the same way it hurt me? That was serious pain, folks, the kind of pain that comes around once in a great while, that makes you wish you could just pass out like in that biology classroom, to escape the horror of it all.

I can't escape the horror. It's still there. My eyes still feel as dry as the desert sand, and that's after using the Best Eye-Drops of All Time. Those eye drops never fail, and I think that's why they discontinued them, to make me suffer, or possibly because they might just give you cancer. I always worried about that "cooling sensation" they advertised.

But I only have a three-day work week, which might just let me catch up on my sleep, as the little stockings are done.

Because that's a good thing.

*I counted 31, 32 with the title.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

In a mere half-hour, it will be Christmas.

But in our family, we always used to bundle up on Christmas morning and drive for three hours (well, sometimes 2 and a half) in all manner of weather to get up north to Auntie Jean's. So Mom would start early, slowly coaxing Dad into letting us open presents on Christmas Eve, right after our church's candlelight service.

And now, even though we aren't traveling tomorrow, we still open presents on Christmas eve. Then we stay up far too late knitting guage swatches or reading or setting up software or new electronics. And tomorrow, we'll be playing with our new toys, and with Things, a new board game Mom and I picked up today.

But even though it isn't Christmas yet, I wanted to get on here and tell you all to have a very happy day tomorrow. God bless us everyone (Dickens).

I'll be reading Dickens tomorrow. Or maybe Austen. Or Bronte(s)...and this is why...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And now the cops are here...

Well, not here, exactly.

But they are parked at the end of our property. Two police cars, undoubtedly out looking for the serial killer that's planning to garrote me, are positioned on either side of the field in between our house and our neighbors.

I discovered this when I went out to walk my dog, and I mentioned it to Mom.

When I came back, she said she'd told Dad that they'd sent me out to deal with a serial killer in desperate need of a hostage. Or company, I added as they recounted the conversation to me. Mom didn't have a response to that. Instead, she continued, saying that Dad had told her that I'd seen enough Criminal Minds to deal with any murderer I came across.

So.

No one coming to rescue Laura tonight on her deadly, deadly walk.

Christmas is coming...

The goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in old man's hat.
If you 'aven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,
And if you 'aven't got a ha'penny,
God bless you!


This is sung with a strong Cockney accent. Usually it's sung repeatedly around my house right before Christmas.

But I am not really in the mood to sing right now.

See, my gran sang that song all the time. It was her thing. Every year, we all made a big deal about going up to my aunt's house (because she won't do Christmas anywhere else, the meanie) where we would all cram together and open gifts, eat too much (usually ham and lasagna...I know, but I would choose one or the other), and play board games. These games usually kicked off when Gran took out her hearing aid and put it in its little case, because she knew we'd end up loud enough to hurt her ears even though she only had about 20% hearing in one ear and none in the other.

After Gran died, we tried to do something different for Christmas. That is to say, my family decided it didn't matter to be together anymore.

It matters to me.

Not only do I not get to see my grandpa, aunt, uncle, and cousins on Christmas, I probably won't get to see them afterward. Because I just discovered that my cunning plan of taking off the whole week of Christmas wasn't good enough. Even with two month's worth of notice, no one on that side of the family can muster up enough time in their days to get together for one evening. Even if that evening happens to be not-Christmas.

I understand that we're not kids anymore, and that Christmas changes when you get older. That's just fine.

What I have a problem with is that no one else cares.

I keep thinking that Gran would be so mad at everyone right now...oh, she'd be seething. She'd make sure everyone had a night off together. One that we'd all come to, because you didn't say no to Gran. But no one's saying yes to me.

This isn't the first year that this has happened, though. So I was ready for it. What I wasn't ready for was this...

My aunt and uncle are coming from Colorado with my cousin. I'm excited about this. This will be fun.

But when are they coming? Oh, Christmas night. So, I have no time with them before I go back to work. But that's fine. We can get together some evening for our family Christmas, right?

Here's what Dad decided to do.

Lunch in Shipshewana. The Monday after Christmas. At one.

Right when I'll be peeling the top off a cup of mandarin oranges in the break room at the library.

Which he knew when he set the whole thing up.

I am told this today, despite repeated requests for times and places. Dad's response was that it was convenient for him.

Okay.

Fine.

I asked if he had considered going on Sunday.

"Oh, that would be too hard for me," he replied.

Boo-hoo, I thought.

"I told you she'd be upset," Mom called from the next room. Apparently we just aren't telling Laura things anymore, because what she doesn't know can't hurt her.

"Okay," I replied. "I guess I just won't see my family at Christmas."

"We can go up together on Saturday..." Dad called. I work on Saturday. Because I took the week of Christmas off. To see my family from Colorado. Or Chicago...Anyone?

I went off to wrap Christmas gifts I won't get to give to anyone in person.

Ho Ho Ho.

And I swore this would be a Christmas on which I wasn't depressed. Seems like that won't be true after all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Funny Story I Promised James

I would like to open with a hearty portion of Guilt-Pie, which I hand to James as I remind the rest of you that he hasn't posted a new blog since Marley and Me came out in theaters, and it has been out on DVD for ages!

We have all seen Marley and Me now, James. Everyone. All the people you convinced to go out and watch the little dog grow old and die, while we sobbed because thinking about animals we love dying is depressing, no matter how good the movie is.

Go to the movies again, James. Go see New Moon and write about how much you hate it. I'm serious, here. Just because you are all awesome and coming back to Indiana to sing like a famous person, doesn't mean you get off the hook.

I'm done now.

Sunday was the Manchester Symphony Orchestra winter concert, and I went because I miss MC, I love music, seeing cellos makes me happy, and James was singing.

I'm serious about the cello thing. Works every time.

While there, I supported the orchestra by mugging my mother (buying a coffee mug and giving it to mom, without the little minty-chocolate things because I skipped breakfast and lunch since I was too lazy to make food and too cheap to eat out twice in one day), and I got to say hello to many people I used to see every day, my friends from The Lounge.

The Lounge is dead. It's a radio station now. Stupid radio station, stealing our static-filled room that boiled with heat in the summer and winter with all its stupid empty lockers that the choir used for storage even though they'd long since forgotten what was kept there, with its mystery closet where we threw all of Jeff's stuff because we were sick of finding his clothes on the floor and wanted him to know we didn't support his living like a transient when he had a perfectly good dorm room, with its useless pop machine filled with outdated pop because everyone was afraid to put money into it since it ate all the change or dollar bills depending on its mood, plus we could just go across the street and get a drink at the union that was actually cold. Oh--and the couch and chairs, with their horrible patterns...

I miss The Lounge. I remember when Chris broke the one chair. It had been dying for some time, and he crashed down onto it at high speed right before choir. As we all watched, its frame let go, to great hilarity.

I miss The Lounge.

Back to Sunday.

James came out and saw Jen and I standing by the Mug Table, where I was extolling the virtues of my mug and the minty-chocolate stick things found within it. I did this loudly, in my theater-projection voice, because at that moment I was giving a product endorsement as another way to help the orchestra. It was funnier in person.

James asked us what was new in our lives that we hadn't talked all about on Facebook or on our respective blogs, and I thought of this story.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The children had been running up and down the stairs since 10:00 a.m. at the library, and now they had moved on to using the elevator like an amusement park ride, all because their respective parents think "going to the library" is the same thing as "free babysitting" even though they are horribly, horribly wrong.

The bottom line is, I don't care about making sure your kids aren't picking fights in the parking lot. I'm not going to stop what I'm doing to feed them, or to wipe their runny noses, or to listen to them crying, because we have a happy little sign posted on the wall that says it isn't our job to do that. We do the books, you do the childcare. We also reserve the right to kick your child out of the library if they're making out on the couch with a guy six or more years older than them, even though your child is only eleven or so, and that is just wrong.

Also, we will kick them out if they are being disruptive, which these kids were. So I kicked them to the curb, and when the little ones looked at their not-at-all-responsible cousin who had been intended to actually babysit them but had in reality dumped them at the library to go work out why their boyfriend was cheating on them and what he intended to do about it, and the cousins told me their little relations were supposed to stay until 5:00 p.m. when the library closed, I said, "You have cell phones. You'll need to make other arrangements." Because I can be very, very mean when I have been pushed to the limit.

I had been pushed to the limit.

Moments after these children departed (4:28 p.m.--did I mention they'd been here since 10:00 a.m.? Did no one care about feeding these kids?), the library quieted down--and I got a thank-you call from upstairs, where they had been too busy to kick the kids out themselves. They want me to be the mean one.

I went back to looking through Publisher's Weekly for books I ought to order. Life went on.

Then, suddenly, a girl burst in with her friend.

Allow me to describe the girl.

She was the classic Britney Spears clone, the girl whose entire style and choice in man was predetermined by the path of the pop princess and whose downfall will be mirrored exactly to Britney's, complete with the bad hair, screaming, man-stealing, and fist fights.

Did that help?

She walked into the Children's Room and proclaimed loudly that she intended to go to so-and-so's house where she would teach another girl not to mess around with her man by kicking the crap out of her.

I said, "Excuse me, we don't allow that kind of language in here. You'll need to leave."

Because we don't threaten each other here. Library, remember?

She whirled on me, lip gloss catching in the light as her cold, smudged-eye-liner gaze fixed on me, the Other, the Authority figure.

"F*** you, you stupid f****** b****!" She announced to the room.

I laughed heartily. I hadn't been sworn at like that since I was a reporter. Or since I quit working at Walmart. People talked like that a lot at Walmart, when their five-dollar watches didn't work. I informed her she would no longer be permitted to enter.

She responded with a few more unimaginative words, then left.

When she returned fifteen minutes later (that's how long I was supposed to remember the swearing), she cursed at me some more, like a sailor.

She nearly lost her gum on the ground, as she had been in mid-snap when I caught her coming inside, and she tossed her bleached-hair, hiked up her not-quite-Juicy-velour turquoise sweatpants, with their muddy cuffs that dragged along the floor.

At that point, my co-worker April had arrived, heard both exchanges, and her eyebrows had vanished into her bangs. She asked me if I knew the girl's name, I said I didn't remember.

And then, one of the little boys who comes in every day piped in, giving us the girl's first and last names.

We then pulled up our computer records and Polaris-stalked her.

It was fun.

Now she can't come in and harass us (me) any more, and I something to make me laugh.

Usually, or at least in the past, I have been filled with horror when I consider that someone might find a reason to swear at me. I've cried, even knowing the problem wasn't my fault at all, just because getting sworn at is stressful and upsetting.

But all those Sydney town council meetings must have steeled my spine, causing swears to build me up rather than bring me down. So I guess being a reporter was a good thing after all.

It did make working the weekend more exciting, at least.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hands Tied

Right now this man is outside, sitting on the couches by the stairs that go to the second floor of our library.

Inside my room, there are children playing. Kids are on the internet, looking at books, playing games.

Two of them came in, a boy and a girl, well-spoken and behaved.

Moments later, their father got a telephone call and went to sit on the couch outside my room.

He's arguing about being a good father, being seperated, selling a house ten years ago, being stuck unable to trust.

He's arguing about being there for his kids, how he's doing well, how the two of them should be in counseling as he wants to, handling there issues.

He's insisting that the woman on the other line needs to listen, how she can't move beyond certain things. "What do you want from me?" He says. "You don't know?"

He's doing all of this within earshot of his children.

It doesn't matter that he's doing as he ought, trying to work out his problems in a healthy way, because he is. He's not shouting or cursing or telling his spouse she's evil.

But his children are hearing what he's saying; they're inside the room with me, hearing what I hear, and knowing that there's something wrong.

When he hang up he came back inside and got on the phone with someone so he could recount the conversation. But his kids are in this room.

And I wish they didn't have to hear it. Because they're not just hearing it at the library.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why Do People Want Me To Stay Crazy?

If you know me, and some of you know me well, you will understand what I mean when I say that I am highly strung.

Whether I am skipping up the library steps to give "presents" to my fellow librarians in the form of books that go on their shelves and not ours or an origami box containing M&M's, or calling my aunt to ask if she remembers how to Hukilau, or texting Dad various "code phrases" while he travels from state to state, whether I am blogging about cleaning the soles of my shoes just in case after actually cleaning them because I wasn't making that up, I am securing my place, at least in the eyes of my coworkers, as the quirky girl.

I am okay with this.

I spent so many of my high school years pretending I didn't exist (because if I pretended hard enough, other people might be fooled into believing it too) that I am enjoying my adulthood, something I equate with comfort in my nerdiness.

That being said, sometimes things go too far.

Take for example, the singing.

The singing started at MC, because I spent all of my time with music majors, or people who lived in choral robes, opera costumes, and occasionally, the drum-holder things that you use to carry around your biggish drum sets while you march. It was not so terribly strange for the commuter lounge, dubbed The Lounge, to play host to any number of wigs, make-up kits, and sometimes men in tights (leggings) during the weeks preceding a performance.

It made life exciting.

But here's the thing.

Get a bunch of people together who are about to perform, or people who just have to know certain music at a certain time, or even people who just plain love music...and there is singing. Singing everywhere.

When your friends are James--from Hutch Off the Cuff in the sidebar over there--this is amazing. You end up spending all your time in The Lounge, because not only are all your friends in there, but there's also an Opera Preview every time you round the corner. And when James isn't singing, well...it got to be disappointing. But I guess he had to study too. And eat his lunch, like the rest of us.

Even though he so clearly should have staggered his lunch around the times that I planned on being around, so that he could sing while I ate, so my lunch would be a concert.

Oh well. He brought us cake. Really good chocolate cake, too.

Sigh...the Lounge. I miss the lounge.

Where was I? Oh, the singing.

Well, when you spend a great deal of time around people who sing, you start singing. This is not so bad, because you like to sing. Except there is this thing about music majors, or maybe just about my close friends...

The singing does not stop outside of the music building.

In fact, the singing just does not stop.

And after a while, it starts to get to the point where singing is supposed to be going on, and if the people around you aren't doing it, you start up...

So I push my cart through Kroger's, singing.

Now I sing everywhere, including inside public restrooms, which have very good acoustics. And failing that, if perhaps some thought interrupts a song because it is so very important, I say the thought out loud, because there's nothing strange about that.

And when the thoughts include, "You stupid driver, stupid, stupid jerk, get off the road you monster, the blackness of your soul has tainted your vehicle for all eternity..." just for example, your friends and family begin to believe you have become unhinged.

I may have become unhinged.

And while that certainly has nothing to do with the mere act of James or Audrey or Jennifer singing (or humming) in The Lounge, it sped the inevitable process.

I have this imagined future for myself. Several, in fact, but the one I am referring to includes me in a Rascal (one of the motorized scooter things), maneuvering through the aisles at Barnes and Nobles, singing and talking to myself at full-voice. This will continue until my nearest relations, if they care that I still draw breath, force me into a "safe environment" where I continue to sing and talk, just with less books.

Hopefully, I will have spent my life being creative enough that I will be considered "eccentric" or "quirky" instead of just "certifiable" and "a danger to herself and others."

I am nonviolent, if that helps.

Well, I did spend half of last night throwing things at my father, but they were soft things. Violence was not intentional, just unavoidable. You know, like what President Bush said.

Yes, I did just make that joke. Sorry. I tried to stop myself. But once I type it, there it is.

Here's the thing. People are trying to speed the process.

They want more than anything to make me snap before I've written the next great American novel and lit my dwelling place on fire with an overturned bottle of Dad's Reggae Red wine. I will be wearing hand knit lace, a shawl perhaps, and I will hold the bottle aloft as I spin around manically, reciting Emily Dickinson as I twirl, twirl, darting about amidst the flames until the firefighters just give up and knock me out with the high-powered pressurized water spray they use.

They want me to be the psycho girl who starts laughing at her workplace, out of the blue, laughing until she can't breathe and has to be sedated.

They want be to narrate my next novel while alone in my car, but also they want me to narrate my next novel when there are passengers in my car to listen to me.

They want me to take a sledge hammer to the work computer.

And why would I take a sledge hammer to the work computer?

Because it is infected with a super-virus, worm, parasite, malaise, dread-fungus, or Klingon battle-targ. Because it has opened no less than 30 Internet Explorer windows while I have been writing this post, not counting the insane amount that popped up yesterday, despite my running every anti-spy/mal/virus-ware thing we have in our computer arsenal, since it would be too easy on me if the evil was quickly found.

What I need is a vacuum cleaner and a priest, to exorcise this evil and allow me to suck it into the bowels of the hoover, then remove it sealed in its vacuum bag, so that it could be ritually purged. I wonder if a priest charges you extra for that sort of thing if you aren't Catholic. Could my Church-of-the-Brethren pastor dad pull off an exorcism, or do you need holy water for it, because the Church of the Brethren doesn't have holy water. I think you need to special order that from Rome or something, because they certainly don't sell it at Joy Christian Bookstore by Culver's.

I only thank God that WebMarshal sees fit to block the content of the windows that would pop up showing me various anatomical parts and how they can interlock if properly positioned. I don't want to see that. I am not interested in going blind just yet, especially when blindness would result from my gouging out my own eyes. There is a reason I stay home on the weekends. I am a very repressed young woman. I was taught that the human body is an evil, evil thing, and it should be restrained at all costs, with iron if possible, or perhaps even steel. Chain mail is only appropriate if the gaps between the chain have to be located using a magnifying glass, just in case. Girls like me can't watch Titanic without fast-forwarding, even though I am a girl and I see that every day.

This computer is going to make me start pulling out my own hair and eyelashes like that girl I saw in the book catalogue that said truth was stranger than fiction. It's going to make me start rocking back and forth, singing--this time out of key!

Joe the Computer Guy better sidle over here purty quick, because that shaky hand thing is coming back, and if it gets much worse they're going to put me on medication. I don't want medication. All I want is a glass of milk and another piece of that banana bread Mom brought home from breakfast yesterday.

Can't we just make a combined effort to bring Laura's Crazy Level down?

But all the scans I have going are coming up empty. For the fourth time. And I think I deserve better. A world without viruses or Bella-and-Edward endorsed timeless literary classics, one with chocolate cake-makers that don't live thousands of miles away (or hundreds I haven't looked at a map to figure it out), one where I have somehow managed to make Jen snort her glass of milk out of her nose while she's reading this, because she is laughing happily as she ought, and one where they don't retool pictures of me after I die to make me prettier (Dickinson again). Is that too much for the fates to offer us?

If not for me, for everyone else?

Monday, November 30, 2009

You know your day's off to a good start when...

You open the fridge and see your family is out of milk!

Then you have your dad make coffee, because he is making some anyway so he might as well throw in another spoonful of grounds for you.

Then you get dressed, hurriedly because you want to eat breakfast, and that means going through McDonald's drive thru.

Then you drink some of your coffee, put on makeup, and drink some more.

Then you realize you feel weak at the knees and a little sick, so you take some Pepto because you think coffee + empty stomach = your symptoms.

And the second you swallow the pills, you know it's too late.

Then you go into the bathroom and throw up your coffee, and you feel much better, as you must have been allergic to the "flavor" they put in with the grounds. No other reason why you'd get sick.

So you finish your hair and get in the car.

Then you drive to work.

Then you pull into McDonald's, where you see the semi bringing supplies to feed all the hungry customers has parked in the drive thru lane, making the lane you use to find a parking space or leave the restaurant merge with the line for the drive through, backing it out onto the street...somewhat. And because Wabash has seen fit to redesign their city streets, this means there is a traffic jam forming. To make matters worse, the semi can't get out--he's surrounded by the drive thru line.

Then you wait for fifteen minutes, the time you had allotted yourself to eat.

Then you park and go inside, just to escape the line, and because one of the ladies who works breakfasts brings her kids into the library, and she knows how you like your bacon egg and cheese muffin--real bacon, not the fake-ham sort.

Then you order your sandwich and your two milk jugs, because there is one swallow in each and you'd like to actually wash down your sandwich.

Then you hold your breath.

Then you eat the sandwich, and are pleasantly surprised that it stays where it belongs, although hiccups develop.

Then you regret working in a library, where your full-body hiccups complete with loud involuntary "hic" sound can be clearly heard throughout the building, rendering you a cartoon character in the eyes of all that know and work with you.

Then you drink your milk, and unlock doors. The library is open.

Maybe it's the sound of our unbalanced patron's hysterical sobs, or maybe it's just the whir of disease-ridden bread maker coming from our program room, but I have a feeling the day isn't finished with surprises. I'm just hoping to be finished with the digestive ones.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hooray for Laura!

My small month-long meltdown is over, I have won NaNoWriMo!

I would be happier about this, were it the first time I had done this, or maybe if this were something anyone cared about aside from me. However, my family's general apathy regarding the subject has kind of been a letdown for me, so I'm not all happiness and rainbows at this point.

I wish I had my happiness and rainbows, like in 2007, when I won and everyone was standing around my laptop watching the file upload. Then the banner came back up and everyone was all clapping joyously, since it was a whole good, proud-of-you moment...except there isn't any clapping now, and I'm in a stream-of-consciousness sort of mood so that's why this sentence is so wacky.

But I won! So there is that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Holidays, Served Family Style

Winter is here--fine, late fall is here--and that brings the obligatory period of time when all the radio stations I used to listen to when I forgot to take my iPod in the car with me have all gone to Christmas music, creating within me a boundless well of irritation from which I can draw in my forays into malls, bookstores, and yarn shops in my efforts to buy shiny things for all the people I love.

With this time of year also comes the joy of spending countless hours with family members who live between 2 and 12 hours away for a reason.

Just kidding, guys. I love you, you know that!

We invite people into our homes to afford them the opportunity to ask us repeatedly what we're going to do with our lives and why we aren't making a hundred thousand dollars a year yet, and when we are employed, they don't care anymore, because we have a nice label they can tell their friends, so we aren't a shame on the family anymore.

Poor Paul, he spent the whole of Thanksgiving cornered, asked repeatedly how many resumes he'd sent out, what companies he is looking at, where he wants to work, and why, God, why he is not employed after all this time he's been graduated (he finished his last class in October and his diploma will read December 2009).

I was free, this year. I am a "librarian"--this is great to repeat at dinner parties! Everyone is so proud of me! Now if only I started spawning, creating a brood of my very own that can be photographed repeatedly and shared with relations I've never so much as met!

Okay, maybe that is a little bitter, but I don't want anyone dictating to me what my biological clock is saying, when it would take a visit to a lady-doctor to figure it out with any accuracy. I don't think my grandparents have a speculum and a magnifying glass and wait for me to fall asleep, and I'm darn well sure I would wake up if they tried anything like that, no matter if I'd taken my Tylenol PM or not.

It's funny how the holidays, which are supposed to bring out the best in all of us, so often just end up bringing out the worst. Like, I'm normally pretty good natured. But I was the worst kind of anti-social on Thanksgiving, and sometimes, when I didn't like the question someone asked me, I just pretended I hadn't heard it at all.

My family is usually a pretty great group to spend time around. Seriously.

An example, you ask?

Let's take an average family conflict...

The Ugly Stinky Blue Chair

Dad drug the blue chair home one Saturday, rescuing it from a church free-giveaway. He decided this would be the ideal place for him to write sermons, or "sermonize" as we have dubbed the process. He loved to do this, pulling the lever that reclined his seat with the sound of an engine backfiring in the pre-dawn hours, waking me up at 5:00 a.m. for six months straight, before I started my Tylenol PM habit and used chemicals to sleep through the noise.

Of course, since the chair was positioned right in the middle of our home library, it forced my mother to reposition the perfectly matched chairs (the nicest pieces of furniture we'd had up to that point) and crowd the room with the additional chair. Also, we no longer had access to three of the five bookshelves in that room, causing no books to ever be reshelved when we'd finished reading them.

Making matters worse, Dad "moved in" to the living room, storing his clothes for the next day on the bookshelves too. And drinks he forgot about, like his nightly glass of water, and the apple he'd started eating but didn't want to take into the bathroom with him, leading to shelved apple cores.

We hated this chair.

Not just because it was ugly, which it was. But also because it had the distinct scent of old man about it, and because it had a stain on the portion where one was intended to rest one's head, like a dozen years of pomade leeched from old man head.

All of this remained despite frequent shampooing/steam cleaning of the chair. In fact, the scent only strengthened with the application of water.

Mom covered it with a throw, and we spent the next six (6) years pretending the chair did not exist.

It still existed.

But despite all the years we'd fantasized about lighting it on fire and hurling it into the river the moment Dad returned from work so he could watch it sinking slowly as it was carried along by the river's slow current, it remained. We decided that the Viking funeral was too good for the Evil Chair, as it was almost certainly possessed by some kind of demonic furniture energy.

We imagined that the chair was slowly absorbing Dad.

Did his hair seem more salt-and-pepper recently? Had he begun to absorb that old-man scent, or did his clothing pick up the odor from the recliner as he sat in it, reading or playing the Irish whistle? Had he become more opinionated? Was his hearing deteriorating faster than before? Had he always voted Republican?

Dad packed to go off to Colorado recently, folding his clean piles of undershirts and using the chair to hold his hiking equipment.

I didn't notice anything different in Mom's demeanor during the ritual packing, but something must have clicked inside her, because when I returned from work that evening, the chair was in the garage.

The next day, Paul and I carried it out to the curb. I made a little sign out of a brown paper bag that said "FREE" in big letters and also something along the lines of "Please, please take me home with you!" underneath it, although I think my actual wording might have sounded a bit less desperate.

The chair was gone, and Dad was clueless, on a mountain across the country from where we were. We all got a great deal of satisfaction out of this, celebrating together with almost-hysterical laughter fueled by boundless joy.

Later that week, Mom picked up the phone. It was Dad.

Because we cannot tell lies effectively in our family, it was clear to Mom her secret wouldn't last very long. So she told Dad. Then she held out the phone so we could all hear his reaction.

"DEVIOUS, DEVIOUS WOMAN!" Dad shouted over the line, then he dissolved into laughter of his own, continuing to tell Mom how he couldn't believe that she'd done that, as if he was actually more proud of her accomplishment than angry that the chair was gone.

Mom really is the most devious of all of us. She has a legendary Evil Streak that has led her to do such things as: push people into the river, stick a finger coated in cake batter up my nose, move things to freak my OCD grandpa out, etc. and it never stops being funny.

This is what keeps our family live vibrant, this inability to trust each other with our personal possessions. It's fantastic, and I would miss it more than I could say if I ever, say, had a normal life.

But around the holidays, if Dad gets his dinner-time emergency call, Mom finds it an annoyance. I decide I hate the random needy people I don't care about usually, and I think Dad is a sucker for listening to them all the time and not spending time with us on Thanksgiving Day. Dad tells the Christmas story about when Mom accidentally slashed him with a real-live knife when he came at her with the wrapping paper tube, and she doesn't think it's all that funny of a story like normal. We begin to get ticked that we can't travel on Christmas or Easter since he has sermons to preach, unlike being a good Pastor's Family and swallowing the rage down deep where it can fester slowly as mental illness.

It's really sad, because we all do love each other. Someone should just put away the knives.

I mean that, because I read somewhere that I can't so much find right now that there are way more domestic violence calls around the holidays. Could it be that we're just spending too much time together? Could we really need all that distance and work-related scheduling to keep us all happy?

All I know is that, even though Dad couldn't talk us into seeing Ninja Assassin on Thursday, and ended up taking Mom and acting as a chauffeur instead, it wasn't that sucky of a holiday, considering. At least the living room looked pretty, and I did get to make stuffed mushrooms and eat most of them by myself.

Just everybody, please, don't go giving Dad another recliner for Christmas.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Can Do This!

Oh, I am so happy!

I spent all of yesterday cooking and writing to avoid certain people, a tactic that was both wise and effective. Then, I spent a chunk of today writing because I really am behind and I need to catch up.

Today, I officially caught up: 45,000 words out of 50,000 are completed! This means that I have only 5,000 words to go, which I know because I checked it on my calculator. You know, so I wouldn't embarrass myself on the blog.

That kind of shame is the sort that lasts.

I have three days to write 5,000 words, no problem at all considering that I wrote over 5,000 yesterday and 5,000 today. That means if I simply devote tomorrow or Sunday to the effort, I will only need a few hours to finish my word count goal for the month of November, and I will...

WIN NANOWRIMO!

Even though the prize is mostly just bragging rights.

Okay, so the prize is just bragging rights. But I want them! So that means they're a prize, right?

Oh, and I actually get maybe 10,000 words of useful material, after editing, so that's good too. I might be able to use more than that...but it will take lots of editing to make it happen. So you could say my prize is editing my very own novel.

Bragging rights.

I may also buy myself a DeBrand's chocolate. I deserve a DeBrand's Chocolate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All rolled into one

Those of you who know me well, or at least those of you who read my blog often, will know about my Twilight issues.

I have big issues with Twilight.

For those of you who love it, I will say two things: 1. No other contemporary young adult series has better implemented the use of a literary hook and 2. Stephanie Meyer knows how to write books that appeal to a large untapped audience, making them more likely to become readers due to their affection for her novels. Oh, and 3. She knows how to make money. This is good when you're a writer, because money is quite often in short supply, even when you are already published.

If you want to know some of my many issues with the series, and with Bella as a role model in particular, you can go back through the archives and hunt some down, because there are plenty.

Or, you can read this great thing that my friend Rachael, knitting goddess extraordinaire, sent to me. Behold!

Thank you Rachael! This is every anti-Twilight rant I've ever had, rolled into one. I love this! I have read it again and again, with utter pleasure, because it gives me joy.

I hope you like it too!

Chef Laura

I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, and started cooking.

Okay, maybe I ate breakfast and got dressed and so forth first, but it was the first thing I did that wasn't routine.

I spent the first half of my day making the stuffed part of stuffed mushrooms, rehydrating the fancy mushrooms that get minced, making breadcrumbs from lovely bakery bread, browning pancetta, mincing parsley, and so forth. Oh, it was fantastic!

This is what I decided to do after last Thanksgiving. Mom and I went all out with everything. I made my pumpkin pie from scratch, adding pureed yams and maple syrup to draw out the pumpkin flavor and passing the whole mixture through a fine strainer to remove any and all non-perfect portions. It took 3 hours to make the mixture, not counting cooking time, and when I plopped it down on the table for people to gobble up; my family ate it like I'd poured canned pumpkin pie filling into the shell and went on with my life.

I hate baking. Hate, hate, hate. So much that I cried when I finished the pumpkin pies last year, because they were finally over. Paul thought I was having a nervous breakdown.

And do you know what? No one cared. Not about my crying--about the pie. They couldn't tell a difference. I could, but if they couldn't, why bother? Clearly their palates are not so refined as to justify my constant pie-related misery.

This year, Mom is making the pies. Thank God.

I am brining the turkey, in order to make it extra juicy and nice. This involves a bottle of dry white wine, more salt than I want to look at during any given period, water, peppercorns, bay leaves, a bunch of thyme, thinly sliced onions, and about six cloves of garlic. The turkey sits in this overnight, is removed, rinsed well, and then patted dry. After that, we rub it with butter, throw on some more spices, and pop it into the roasting pan.

Then I will make fantastic stuffing and gravy from scratch, I have the stock done already, and I will have my apron and my whisk and I will feel like a chef.

And I will do all of this while downing stuffed mushrooms, which I am making mostly for me. Oh, are they tasty.

Because on this Thanksgiving, I am (knock on wood) actually not sick. And the only thing that can go wrong is, well, more to do with interpersonal conflict than anything else. And I have decided that my response to the half-dozen times I will be asked "Have they fired you from that job yet" will be complete silence. I will pretend that certain people at the dinner do not speak the same language that I do, and that I perhaps am not genetically related to them.

That will work, right?

I am also making something I adore--the stuffed mushrooms I was telling you about.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And then Buffy staked Edward: Laura's Token New Moon Rant

You knew it was coming, didn't you? And I don't disappoint.

If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading now. Well, stop reading if you intend to see it. Because all that comes after this sentence--this one right here--will be a spoiler.

I'm warning you.

Back away now.

I'm not listening to complaints like I didn't warn you.

I so totally did.

Okay....

....

...

.

..

Is everybody ready?

Good.

First, you should know that I went to see this movie with a bunch of friends at work, then again last night (yes, I went to the movies on a Monday night--is there something wrong with that?) with Jennifer because I am too nice to turn her down, but not nice enough to go with her without spending the entire time making fun of her and complaining about being forced to see the movie twice when I didn't really even want to see it once.

Well, maybe I wanted to see it.

I wanted to see it a little.

But only because I read all the books and I was curious about what might have been changed.

Seeing it a second time gave me the added insight I needed to really tear into this the way I wanted to. But before i do so, I must say that this movie was so much better than the first Twilight movie, I can't even begin to explain it. The first one was bad. Reeeaaallllyyyy baaaaddd.

But still, the only aspect I found worthwhile was the music--some of it. Oh, and Bella's mittens. Which I'm knitting, by the way. In gray, to go with my new coat and scarf.

As soon as I go buy yarn.

Here goes nothing...

1. Edward never made eye contact when he talked to Bella.


See, that's a problem. It conveys insincerity, so when you're a "gorgeous" vampire whose girlfriend has self esteem issues, it's not such a good habit to have.

2. Bella has two facial expressions: Scared and apathetic.


This is bad when you're supposed to tell someone you love them, but you don't look like you care they're even there. It is also bad when you're supposed to be crying, but instead you just crinkle up your face and walk into the wilderness, then curl up in the fetal position and cover your face so you can hide not having tears.

3. When Sam came out of the woods holding an unconscious Bella, he was bare chested, wearing only cut-offs.

Now, maybe in a world of werewolf transitions, keeping clothes around is hard. But where I come from, a dude coming out of the woods with a passed-out girl, when he's half naked? That makes a person think he was doing something he shouldn't have. Just saying.

4. Whenever the Cullens are filmed, they are coupled off.


So, no Alice without Jasper (except where made necessary by Stephanie Meyer's writing--like the Italy trip), no Rosalie without whatever his name is--Emmett? And no Carlisle without Esme...you get the picture.

Do we not know which one goes with which? After all this time? Really? It kind of gets annoying, looking at them all standing like supermodels for no other reason than just to be there. And Emmett and Rosalie had maybe three lines between them--only Carlisle and Alice had more than that. Why even show them except to make them the token vampires?

5. Carlisle had three scenes in the film. Two in present day. And in those two scenes, he was wearing the same outfit. Okay, maybe I'm wrong and it wasn't exactly the same, but seriously. The clothes were so similar, its like he didn't even bother switching in all those months...

6. The camera was basically caressing Jacob's naked body. And that kid was 17 when he filmed the movie. So, isn't that like...inappropriate?

Also, when your "heartthrob" tears off his shirt for no real reason, and the audience laughs...well, laughter? Was that what they were going for?

7. I was all excited about the evil Italian vampires being...evil. They kind of were...but people laughed when Aro was being evil and thinking about killing Bella, and that shouldn't have been funny.


8. Charlie's mustache.

How can anyone on the hair, make-up or costuming staff think that looks good? What were they thinking?

9. That hug, between Bella and Jacob?

That was not a friend hug. Okay, maybe that was not so much a flaw with the movie as it is a flaw with Bella! What a jerk!

10. Did I mention that Edward looks like a meth addict?

He looks sick. Really sick. More so when he's compared shirtless to Jacob, who looks, I don't know...alive? Sure, I get the whole vampire paleness thing, believe me, I know pale. And in order for me to go on, I have to believe pale looks good. I am a pale girl. But you shouldn't make your lead guy, the man who we all should want Bella to end up with, look like he ought to be hospitalized. Really. That was enough to make me choose Team Jacob, even though in reality I'm still in Team Anyone-But-Bella.

Seriously. If you have one character looking that sick, wouldn't it just make sense to try and, I don't know...keep the sick concealed a little? You could button his shirts up all the way to avoid the whole "man cleavage" thing, and when you do make him do the shirtless thing, you could try and lighten up on the death-makeup, just to try and keep him looking like he didn't just spend six months in a hospital bed. Just saying.

This leads right into...

11. Can I ask one thing? Can I never have to spend a whole movie staring at shirtless guys? Chest hair is gross. So are the sticky-out veins people get with big muscles. So when they're all blown up to twenty times their normal size and plastered over a movie screen right in front of me, it gets a little old.

Jennifer? Anything to add?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Death of a Coat

It was adorable. Hung up on the far wall at American Eagle, the little gray coat called to me. So imagine my shock and joy when I discovered that it was just my size. And on sale. Fifteen dollars and the little gray coat was mine, mine, all mine!

This was perhaps my freshman year of college. I think.

What I do know is that, during that year, cropped coats were in, and so was being cold.

I didn't realize just how cold the little gray coat was (I'm just realizing that I had an inadequate little gray coat and little gray car all at the same time, and that both have been retired in the same year, after having also been acquired in the same year--freaky) until my trip to Spain, France, and Italy.

Picture a mountain. No, not the one I almost fell off of, this is a different one. Mount Vesuvius. The one that blew all the ash up into the sky and killed all of Pompeii way back when. Now imagine that the temperature on the top of that mountain, or rather, at the base point from which all hiking tours leave, is well below zero.

Now imagine winds ranging upwards of 50 mph, so high that they had to ban people from going on hiking tours, because huge boulders were falling from the mountain and onto the roads and trails. This could have killed us, but it ended up just adding two hours to our trip due to the closed roads.

Having trouble?

Perhaps a visual aid will help.


I had my friend Tabby take this picture, because I thought my dad would like to see how high up on a mountain I was, since he has a mountain obsession. But--doesn't it look like that hand is reaching out to grope my nonexistent breast? As if they could find it, under the coat?

I must add, by the way, that the hat I am wearing in this picture was graciously donated by my friend Jaren, who had brought two with her. This was good because I had brought no hat, and I needed one. Europe is cold during the winter. I also must add that the scarf I am wearing in that picture was abducted and then lost by an as-yet-unidentified member of my family. I loved that scarf. 'Fess up, family.

Tabby and I thought the random arm looked like it was going for my breast. It kind of looks a bit strange in there, even if it wasn't reaching for something anatomical, so we decided to retake the picture.

The sad thing was, Tabby failed to tell me she was about to press the button, preserving for all time my place on Vesuvius. But I am glad she didn't tell me. If she hadn't, I would have no way of showing you all how cold that mountain really was.


You can't fake that level of cold. The second she took the picture, Tabby and I ran for the bus as fast as we could, jumped on board, and shivered for a good fifteen minutes, at which point I ventured out and found a lava rock because the guy at the station told us it was okay.

When I came home, the cold hung deep in my bones for two whole weeks.

The following year, I was shivering nonstop. One day, I borrowed Mom's coat, only to discover it was at least twice as warm as mine was. Then she tried on mine, ushered me to the car, drove to Kohl's, and forced me into a Columbia jacket. I also got a lovely green coat from the Gap for Christmas. Apparently, Mom thought the gray coat was lacking in a serious way.

But this did not replace the gray coat in any small way.

You see, both new coats were very warm. Warm enough that I couldn't throw them on when the temperature was above freezing without baking inside them, reaching a level of extreme misery, and carrying them for the remainder of the day.

Several years passed, during which I used the gray coat for part of the winter before phasing in the warm ones. I considered dumping the little gray coat, but I couldn't get rid of it without replacing it, and there was nothing else to take its spot.

Last year I noticed that the once-tiny hole in the lining had become much larger, possibly due to that time I got my thumb stuck in it and did a little dance around Grandpa's kitchen as I heaved my arm up and down like a bird's wing, trying to free my hand, until Mom grabbed me and eased the jacket off. Now when I put my arm in the coat, it got stuck between the lining and the woolly part, trapping my arm completely. I called it a "dead end" and once left a job interview trapped like that because I didn't want my interviewer to see me turning in endless circles in a vain effort to escape.

Hey--that was the interview for this job! I must have pulled off my calm, collected in-car jacket removal.

After the terror of being trapped in my coat, before witnesses, I decided something had to give.

So when I went home, I took a handful of the lining and just yanked at it. It tore easily. I ripped the whole lining out this way, without even the need for a seam ripper. It was like tearing paper. That easy. And as I did it, little plumes of dust--the disintegrated lining--filled the air and made Mom and I sneeze. Me because I was pulling it out and Mom because she was trying to stop me.

I looked for a replacement coat last year. I didn't find one.

I sent Mom out early this fall on a hunt for a new coat for me. She tried on dozens, because she knows if a coat is big on her shoulders but fits her in the body, the shoulders will fit me. Also, if it is a shade too long for her--it will be the right size for me.

She didn't have any luck, but she did find a new coat for her. Because she wasn't looking, you know.

I met Mom and Auntie Jean at the mall up in Lake County on Saturday. While there, I looked at the Borders where my aunt works, then we went to the Gap to make the trip worthwhile. As I walked inside, I saw it. The perfect replacement for the little gray coat.

It's a perfect red, double-breasted with big pockets to store mittens in, lining that actually lines, lovely little buttons, and it fits me! And it was 50% off! During a two-day only sale which I happened to walk in on during the first day! See? Half off!

I got a matching scarf with it, and I am so happy, I can't begin to tell you. No longer will I shiver like a refugee on the side of a mountain in Italy. Now I will shiver like a refugee before slipping on my toasty red coat (red makes you think hot, which makes you warm, in my twisted psychological reading of the situation), before hopping into my new car with its working heater and remote starter for those extra chilly days.


Goodbye, little gray coat.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Drama

Jen just wrote a blog about her long list of duties, all of which tie her to drama!

Oh, do I love drama. Standing up on stage (no singing, of course, since I won't trust myself to sing in front of people without a vocal coach on staff to make me feel safe doing it), feeling the warm stage lights, improvising based on the audience's reactions...it's fantastic.

I miss not doing plays anymore, now that I am out in the real world, and all the local theater groups are musical-based, for better or worse. Jen can tell you what she thinks of some of our musical theater groups around here far better than I could. I leave it in her capable hands.

But my love of drama goes beyond my participation in it. I love watching stories play out on television shows like Fringe or The Gilmore Girls or, well, a dozen other current and cancelled television shows. It gives my life excitement I don't have in it. I mean, what are the odds of my living in a quirky little town where everyone knows everyone and follows each other's lives and business and are nice at the same time? Not likely. And what are my chances of finding a freaky bald hat-wearing emotionless Observer walking around taking notes with both hands and waiting for a pivotal moment in time to take pictures of? Not going to happen.

But sometimes, don't you notice that people spring up all over the place who just thrive on drama?

Since we don't have a lot of it, they make it. They decide to take offense, to drudge up old wrongs, to think that look didn't mean "I'm confused" but instead "You are stupid and I hate you, please mistreat me" opening a new chapter in misery for all involved.

My parents call this being "high school"--I can completely understand why. When I was in high school I remember the trials of who liked whom, who hated so-and-so, who wanted to beat up the kid who looked at them funny or liked their girlfriend/boyfriend, and all the related chaos. I tried so hard to stay out of it that I think I passed completely under the radar of most of my fellow students.

Even now, if someone tells an old high school classmate about spending time with me, they have to explain what I look like, how I was quiet, played the flute, oh--and never went anywhere without a book. Only then does the recognition dawn. Yeah, I remember--Laura!

It doesn't bother me. Most of the people I want to remember from high school I see with regularity, others I can get in touch with with Facebook.

Facebook.

Sigh.

Part of me loves it; part of me hates it. I use it because it is the simplest way to keep in touch. I hate it because it lets so many people know so much about you, even if you uncheck all of those privacy icons. See, either I let people find me with the search option, or old high school acquaintances can't find me. I want the people who decide to look me up to find me. But I don't want them knowing all that's going on in my life the instant I click the "accept" button and make them my Facebook buddy.

I used to import blogs from here to Facebook as Notes. I stopped doing that months ago. But today I totally removed the Notes feature. I also made a bunch of other things invisible to other people, out of sheer paranoia.

With Facebook, high school lasts forever. And here I thought I had finally escaped.

Ugh. Ask me the full story later, guys. I'm ready to vent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not Again...

I think I'm blaming Jennifer for this.

Yeah, Jen. I mean you.

It's all your fault.

It would never have happened if you hadn't gone and brought it up.

This was going to be my Thanksgiving, too.

Blast it.

And there we were, at Applebee's, right after I had sampled Shannon's apple sangria stuff, you said it.

Need I mention who had sipped that sangria directly before me? Jennifer?

You said that it was a darn good thing we'd had some before Shannon, who has a lingering case of Mono, since she would have undoubtedly made me sick, since everything makes me sick. And then you joked that I may well have caught something from you, since you have a freakishly strong immune system.

Doctors have written journal articles on how samples of Jen's white blood cells, when left on metal or plastic or in one of those little glass test tube dealies, have eaten their way through like some kind of industrial acid, killing any biological matter they touch.

Okay, well, I made that up. But it seems like that, when I'm miserable with a fever and a healthy dose of antibiotics, and Jen has a little sniffle that goes away overnight. And we have the same illness.

Back to my story. What happened to me after sipping that drink, you ask, innocent readers who are not Jennifer?

Oh, nothing much. Except for my getting sick!

Yeah, Jen. Laura has a cold, a nasty, sore-throat inducing, stuffy-nose cold. I'm taking my asthma meds and cold meds and any minute now, will be so high that I will float away and get caught in the library's fancy dome.

And I blame you.

Okay, fine. I don't blame you. But the irony is not lost on me.

However, now you know that the weird symptoms you've been experiencing are an actual illness.

So, glad I could help.

This wouldn't be such a big deal for me, except that Thanksgiving is next week. And we all know what that means.

Since my childhood, when I carried my lunch to school in a Jasmine lunchbox from the Disney movie Aladdin, I have been sick for every Thanksgiving without fail.

One year, I started feeling sick in the car on the drive up to Gran's house. I kept telling Mom that there were sparkly lights. See, that's how high my fever was. But instead of checking, they kept driving, Dad yelling at me for being so testy with Paul and for complaining. When we got to Gran's, they sent me to bed. Then, the next morning, Mom woke us up with a knock on our doors, I got dressed in the clothes she told me to put on, and went downstairs.

Later, I became so cold, I could not get warm. But Mom had told me not to go upstairs because my grandparents wanted to see me and because she was making most of the dinner and needed my help, since I am the oldest and also a girl. So I sat on the couch, in between jobs, pulled a throw over my feet, and pretty much lost consciousness.

I remember my uncle, who is two hours late to everything without fail, meaning I'd slept for a while, discovering me all pale, since I was in the way. And he told my mom, "Hey, I think Laura might not be feeling too well."

This was bad.

Because Gran was on steroids, blood thinners, and just about every other Serious medication you could give a person. So her immune system? Nonexistent.

I was then quarantined. Cordoned off in my room with nothing to amuse me but 1. a Sailor Moon marathon or 2. a Love Boat marathon. I spent the rest of the day changing channels between the two, and I can tell you, plot wise, there really isn't that much of a difference between them.

Well, maybe a little. High fever, remember?

Finally, after dark had fallen over northern Indiana, Mom came up with some dinner for me. Turkey, stuffing, and some green bean casserole, which back then I did not eat. There were no mashed potatoes, no sweet potatoes, no gravy, and no black olives, because while I was lying in bed smelling all this fantastic food, my family was eating it all and leaving me nothing.

Ah, love.

Since that miserable Thanksgiving, I have told myself each year that the following year will make up for things like not getting any food or having hallucinations. And every year, something different and bad has happened, like my being in a car accident and snapping my ribs like kindling.

And now, I have a week to get over something that usually takes me three weeks to beat: the common cold. If this doesn't go into a sinus infection and if it doesn't make asthma freakiness start and if I don't make the rest of my family sick so they can give it back to me right before the holiday, then maybe, just maybe, I can salvage this year.

But considering who's coming to dinner...that might be a wasted effort.

Is dinner out an option?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I think I need to burn my clothes.

I am posing a question.

If there is a building, let's say a house.

And if said house is filthy, I mean really, really filthy, with cigarette butts on the floor, mold issues, various unpleasant odors, trash thrown about, food stuffs left to rot, old formerly wet but now dry and mildewed towels draped on the stripped matresses, clothes in heaps and left about, and a deactivated aquarium filled with scummy water and the earthy remains of fish...

Would it still be acceptable to leaf through the piles of refuse to salvage various items, items that might, if not associated with the house in any way, be valuable?

For example, say several employees go over to a house recently aquired by their parent company. The house is scheduled to be demolished. They are given the opportunity to look at the horror before it is broken into rubble.

Then they find a breadmaker in the basement while they are--no kidding--looking for corpses in the basement, with all the court date notices. And the breadmaker is in its box, unused.

Would it still be okay for them to take the breadmaker, if the employer/new owner took no issue with the idea, and would it be acceptable for them to use it and feed people the bread that comes from it without telling them about where it came from?

That house really exists and so does the breadmaker. And people think I am strange for wanting to torch all contained within the house, even though it really needs containment. Serious containment.

I had an asthma attack just looking at that house.

It was so bad that, when I got back to the library, I had to take off each of my shoes in turn, scrub each one with its own seperate Chlorox wipe, then throw each wipe away before washing my hands with a Chlorox wipe and then going into the bathroom and washing my hands with soap and very hot water.

Yes, Jennifer, it does make sense to wash your shoes, even the bottoms of them, from time to time to avoid tracking human...fluids...into your place of employment, or worse--your home!

It was bad, very bad.

I think we should drench that house with gasoline and have the fire department contain the blaze. I think it's very important that anything and everything inside that house goes back to Hell where it came from.

They have a door in that house, a serious, honest-to-goodness door, that has a sign on it and the sign reads: "Never Open This Door!!!"

I bet if you open that door, you see a man sitting down with a cloth pulled over his head, and some big black orb hovering over his head. And if you come closer to the door, the orb will part and glow in a freaky way, and it will zap some sort of light at you, maybe killing you but probably turning you into some kind of monster-spawn, to skitter over the earth sucking people's brains out through their ear canals, or maybe their sinuses.

I promise you not a soul on that tour wanted to open that door to see what was inside. But if we had, we would have been totally defenseless, because not one of us knows any kind of karate, not even a little bit. The most I can do is the move Gran taught me, where you walk up behind someone while they're relaxed and watching TV, then karate chop them with both hands on either side of their neck as hard as you can. This has been known to cause blackouts.

I don't know about the rest of us, here, but I know for darn sure that I will be watching to see which one of my co-workers takes that breadmaker home. And the next time they bring in home made bread, I will be abstaining.

But really, in this instance...

Am I the crazy one? Is something like a breadmaker, or an article of clothing with tags still attached, tainted by association?

I think you all know my opinion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Jennifer,

When I was in the senior English class at North Miami Jr./Sr. High School (the school with the stupidly long name), we read several plays. I don't know if you read the same ones, Jen, but I think maybe you did. I think at least you read the first one.

That one was Waiting for Godot, a tedious, depressing saga of two men standing, day after day, waiting for a man who never showed up. That man was, naturally, Godot. The casual literary analyst would immediately say, "Godot--God!" and that would be one such interpretation. But it makes the whole play become deeper than just two guys debating class differences in vaguely coded language, eating the wrong colored vegetables, and random trees.

Godot was ripe for the picking.

So Paul and I decided to write a third act for this two act play, because: Who ever heard of a two act play?

We sat down at the computer and wrote a post-people's revolution Pozzo and Lucky, Vladimir and Estragon digging their own graves, waiting in the wrong place for Godot, who had been on his way, but since the other two kept leaving, always missed them. It culminates with hyper-cerebral electrosis--the spontaneous explosion of one's head. It's real. Look it up.

I just pulled up our final act. It still makes me laugh. Paul and I should write together more often...I debated posting it here, but I decided that it would not be so amusing, had you not just finished reading the original two acts.

Another play we read in class was about three people, trapped together in a room, all of them evil in some way, all of them uniquely suited to make the others crazy. "Hell is other people," is the line that springs to mind. I think the play was called Triangle or something close to that.

When I called you on Friday, I had no idea I was dragging you into a combination of those two plays.

We were both very hungry, something that could be understood, since I had been very busy all day with the shelving of books and you had been hard at work doing whatever it is you do when I'm not with you, like cleaning up after disgusting children and their bodily fluids. My back hurt, I was tired, and all I wanted was to sit down. You were hungry enough to insist we stayed in town to eat.

Since you were meeting up with your Special Someone, we figured nearby was good.

But then it happened.

And it was totally my fault.

It was my idea, after all.

Market Street.

That is the Market Street Bar and Grill, and before I start getting angry e-mails, phone calls, or other bad things, like nasty messages taped to my car windshield or left with me at work or something, we've been to Market Street tons of times, we have yummy food there. I really like that restaurant, otherwise I would not have suggested it at all. They have really tasty pulled pork. Mmm...pork...

I know you were hungry. I was hungry too. So hungry I was shaking my freaky shaky-hand-syndrome shake.

How was I supposed to know it would take them over a half hour to seat us, when they told us it would only be 15 minutes?

That being said, I think I owe that elderly couple an apology. I was so totally staring at them while they were eating. Mostly at their food, but that woman had some kind of strange neck thing happening, the kind of neck abnormality that would prompt my getting plastic surgery, even though I am mostly morally opposed to it. That neck thing qualified as a deformity.

It moved all on its own.

Like jello, only grosser.

It was like the neck thing was alive, like it was eating, not the woman. I think it might have been parasitic.

But she was only trying to enjoy her dinner. And I was staring at her eat, wishing she would throw me the bone from her steak or the remains of her baked potato, despite the fact that I don't eat the skin at all and that was all that was left when she finished it. Potato skins are nasty.

I was so happy when we were seated. Weren't you happy, Jen? It was only a little after six, maybe ten or so minutes, so that was good, right?

The waiting did get out of hand, though, when it expanded to include all the time we spent waiting to order something to drink, waiting to order an appetizer because we were so hungry, and waiting to order our dinners.

We shouldn't have had to wait so long for onion rings, that's for sure. And making a hamburger doesn't take so long, and pulled pork involves slapping the meaty goodness onto a bun, so that should have been fast.

It shouldn't have taken an hour.

But, Jen, I have figured out why it took so long. Brace yourself, it's a little hard to stomach.

See, they were out of pulled pork (that makes the wait my fault, see, because if they'd been out of hamburger it would have been your fault for ordering a cheeseburger). So they went to the market (Market Street, get it?) and bought a pig. Then, after fattening the pig up, they drove down to the slaughterhouse, since it would be against FDA standards for a business their size to do it on site, they "took care" of the pig, then they drove back to the restaurant.

After that, they did what you have to do for good pork, they roasted the pig, but they did it like we saw on No Reservations, where they dig a hole in the ground and put the pig in it, and slowly cook the pig after covering it with all kinds of palm leaves and things.

When the pig had fully cooked, they pulled it out, then got two forks and shredded the meat like you're supposed to for pulled pork. I think our waitress did that, since she was so missing most of the time.

While she was doing that, the cook baked the onion bun himself, while he made the sauce. He also took that time to put cucumbers in brine to make pickles, which he served with the pulled pork sandwich.

I realize this still does not take into account all the time we spent waiting for the waitress to bring us boxes to put our leftovers in and our checks. I think that took a long time because she had to get into her wilderness gear and go out into the woods in central Asia and kill a Styrofoam beast, using its remains to form the boxes. Then she had to cut down a tree and take it to the paper mill, then wait for the pulp to dry, becoming paper, then run it through the cash register.

Now, I understand that it might make more sense to blame the waitress, and you're right. She might have been out front with the Lip Gloss, talking about so-and-so's hair and ex-boyfriend. She might have been busy teasing her hair or something. Who knows. I guess all those options make some kind of sense.

And I'm sorry that I thought it was so funny when your Special Someone was cryptic in his very romantic text message. I'm sorry I encouraged your wrath a little. Really, I only did it because I thought it was funny when you were angry just then, for the same reason why I thought it was okay to say, loudly, that we were trapped and there was no escape for us, and that we would die right there in the booth. That might have been rude of me. Especially when I said it so loudly.

The only explanation for that was that I really didn't care anymore how nice I was, since we already had our food and no one could spit in it but us. Or maybe that, after two hours and thirty minutes, if not more, I had given up on being a good, polite person.

Still, I can understand why it might have been a tad embarrassing to sit with me, while I talked about how I couldn't go to the bathroom on principle, because if I did I would be admitting defeat, since by using the restroom, I would be accepting that I would be sitting in that booth for hours longer. And I get how I might have led you to some relationship problems, with my inciting your rage against your Special Someone, since there was nothing on the TV behind your head.

And I promise that next time we are so very hungry, I will just suggest Arby's or Culver's like a normal person, so it will all end up okay.

I also promise that I will stop helping you think up good come-backs, unless they are for a conversation with Andy because he knows how quirky (that's a nice word for crazy) I am and might just forgive me, if I ask him nicely.

That being said, I hope you will let yourself be seen in public with me again, someday.

Your friend,

Laura

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yesterday

To understand the horror of yesterday, you must first understand how I spent Saturday night.

How did I spend Saturday night?

Well, if you insist...I spent Saturday night lying awake in bed and starting at the ceiling. Then I took Tylenol PM, and I spent the rest of the night lying awake and staring at the ceiling, except then my toes tingled like they tell you about in all those commercials they put out trying to convince us that restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a "real medical condition" instead of what I call a "minor annoyance."

When I finally fell asleep, my alarm went off because I had forgotten to switch it from 6:00 a.m., a problem that led to annoyance, rage, and then my turning my cell phone to "Silent" and then switching it off in case "Silent" wasn't "Silent" enough.

To understand the consequences of that decision, you must also understand that, if left to my own devices, I will sleep eternally, like some kind of modern-day Sleeping Beauty, without all the sexism (she'll only wake up when she meets the perfect man, who completes her, breaks the spell, etc. just because she can't live out a normal life on her own--without being guarded like an infant? Oh--not to mention the whole arranged marriage thing. Seriously. Good movie, though--I love the music).

Sorry, Jen. I really do like the Disney movie, just not the fairy tale message reinforcing the whole gender-role thing.

I was awake half the night, or more. When I finally woke up, it was 2:30 p.m.

That's late.

That's the whole day, pretty much. Not good.

So I made the most of what was left, but I got almost nothing done, compared to what I could have accomplished had sleep been restricted to the time that sleep should be. Like night.

I tried to catch up on writing that I missed out on doing over the week, but I only ended up getting the writing that I should have done that day finished. So I am still behind (ugh) instead of ahead as I was with my word could last NaNo.

Mom had a migraine, so I spent the majority of my waking hours almost totally alone, unless you count Paul, who was shut in his room blowing the heads off of aliens. Or shut in his room creating the Democracy of Carol, in Fallout 3 (I think). I don't count that as company, because seeing Paul also meant hearing the cries of the dying, even if only the virtual dying.

I ended up watching Angel. This is because I love Buffy and Joss Whedon, even though the whole Angel experience had not been my cup of tea in the past. What changed? They were on big-time sale at Walmart and I noticed that the final season of Angel had Spike in it, since Buffy had ended by that point.

I like Spike. I like him because he smokes so much while driving in his car with the blacked out windows that the air fills with so much smoke it's a wonder he can even see to drive through the tiny space left clear of paint. I like him because his girlfriend dumped him, and he coped by drinking heavily, passing out, and catching on fire as the sun rose. Then extinguishing himself in a fountain. I like him because his solution to an enemy ramming a sword through the roof of an RV was not to dodge out of the way, but to grab the sword, because...why not? And because he deals with his long days shut up in a borrowed crypt by watching soap operas--Passions (certainly the worst soap of all time) to be specific. In short, he is everything I would hate in the real world, but because I don't have to spend my time smelling the stale cigarrette smoke, I find him hilarious.

Spike died in the last episode of Buffy, but in the first episode of season five of Angel, he appears, reassembles from the ashes (like burning up backwards), and does all this while screaming his horrible scream, which I also find funny. Of course, he is non-corporeal, which means he can walk through walls and torture others--certainly what Spike does best.

This was hilarious.

When he finally becomes solid once more, inexplicably, he is unaware, so he runs headlong into a door, breaking his own nose. He, in a later episode, is brutalized by a puppet.

And watching a grown man wailed upon by a muppet-like creature is funny on all kinds of levels.

But my season of Angel was all too short, so I went to Walmart that evening, I got the rest of them (for super cheap) before I bought myself something to eat (no food in the house), some milk (so I could start my day off right), and gas for the car so I didn't have to start my day off early for no good reason.

But when I went to sleep last night, I felt the consequences. I lay awake until 3-ish (I didn't bother to check) until finally sleep descended upon me, and five minutes later (give or take, I'm sure it was a few hours) my alarm went off and forced me up, out of bed, and on my way to work.

I made coffee, for my consumption, for the first time in my life. I ate breakfast, then took Excedrin (not for the pain, but for the caffiene), a sad consequence of exhaustion.

I arrived at work wanting more coffee and grieving a lack of local coffee shops worth my patronage, then I amused nine preschool children by reading stories and affecting enthusiasm when I really wanted them all to go home so I could stare into space some more.

Why is it that I have one bad night and it ruins my weekend, one bad weekend and it ruins my week? Why is it that I, a huge lightweight when it comes to most medication, would need enough tranquilizers to take down a wild boar in order to effectively sedate myself, instead of, say, a Tylenol PM? Why is this my fate?

Is my life not boring enough for me? Do I have too much happening, like all that driving between Wabash and home, or the drama of dealing with the high school student that defecated in the urinal for his own amusement? Or my crazy lady, who comes in and tells me the same story sometimes three or four times a day, and when she's not telling me, she tells herself? Is that too much for me to handle?

I just want one thing. I want to curl up in bed, close my eyes, and fall into blissful sleep. I want to then sleep through the night, undisturbed by Dad's I've-Just-Been-Stabbed-in-the-Back yawns. I don't ask for diamonds, for fancy cars, luxury yarns, or even regular meals. All I want is decent sleep.

If you have some, please send it my way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog of Laura's Tragic Weekend of Eternal Suffering or, Things Fall Apart: Part 2

I slept in late the Sunday following my near-death experience.

In defense of that Sunday: it was a fine day overall. Nothing horrific happened while I was conscious. Nothing.

But then, after The Amazing Race, I decided to take my medicine.

I had new medicine I'd picked up on Saturday. I hadn't taken it due to the near-death/Gilmore Girls marathon of that evening. I took it Sunday morning, and then, right after dinner (take with food, right?), I poured myself a gigantic glass of nature's best drink: milk, popped my daily antacid out of its little plastic tomb, and then opened my pill container and swallowed my dose of the evening.

This miracle pill is supposed to give me the perfect skin I had in high school, only now.

Is that too much to ask?

I drank my glass of milk. I went about my evening routine. I went to bed.

But then...

At 3:30 a.m.

I woke up.

At that point, I threw up all the food I ate that day. Then I threw up all the food I have ever eaten.

I tried to have a glass of water, when things seemed to have calmed down.

I bid the glass of water goodbye.

Then, I gave up and went to sleep. This was at the urgings of poor Mom, who had been woken from a sound sleep (and she was across the house from me) by me and my grotesque digestive attack.

In the morning, I woke up only to discover that I had, perhaps in mid-dream, decided I was a fish. My fish-self knew that breathing air would kill me. Instead, it was my lot to swallow water and push it through my gills. Except I wasn't in water, and I didn't have gills. So all I managed to do was fill my stomach with air.

After which I threw up.

So it went for the next two days.

It was unpleasant.

Meanwhile, we had no heat. No hot water. No stove. No nothing.

I was cold. All I wanted was a hot bath. Oh, and to stop throwing up.

Alas, I was out of luck.

You see, the side of the bottle of medicine said the following: Do Not Take With Milk. Do Not Take Within One Hour Of Taking Vitamins or Antacids.

And I did both. This, in addition to the large dose they had me take on the first day of being on the medicine, burned my stomach. And it hurt. Big time.

The Gas Man was coming on Wednesday. That was awesome. But, because when my family gets on a streak of bad stuff, more had to happen, right?

Mom walked down into the basement on Monday and found that our water heater (the one that mercifully wasn't working) had begun to leak water all over the basement. This might have been tragic--the kind of plumbing disaster that you see on TV sitcoms, where the person gets the wrench and tries to tighten the pipe, only to have water shoot into their face and flood their basement, kitchen, or the first floor of their home.

She turned off the water heater's supply of water and called the plumber.

Who was unavailable.

I know what you're thinking. "What else is new, Laura?" You ask. "When does a plumber come when you call him?"

And you would be right. But this guy is pretty good about getting back with you when you call, which is a first. Really, it was the reason Mr. Plumber couldn't come that was funny.

He was participating in a reality TV show.

"Seriously, Mom?" I asked when she told me. "This guy is America's Next Top Plumber?"

Not quite.

It seemed that Mr. Plumber's friends were getting their house redone by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Mr. Plumber volunteered his services.

He had been awake until 4:00 a.m. the previous night, according to his wife/receptionist, and had been too tired to even go to the unveiling at 6:00 a.m., after however long he'd been keeping this schedule.

Mom understood.

I was cold.

Monday passed. Tuesday passed. Nothing much changed. I got used to washing my face/hair in freezing water, or, rather, part in freezing water, part in the water we heated up in Paul's $10.00 electric kettle/Ramen Noodle Maker.

Wednesday morning I drug myself out of bed and put on classy clothes for work. I watched the Gas Man as he came and filled the tank. Then I went to work.

Here is what happened when I left:

Mom had told Mr. Happy Gas Man to turn on the gas, as she wanted it to run. Usually, they leave it off after they fill it. For safety reasons. Mr. Happy Genius Gas Man filled the tank and left.

Mom attempted to light the furnace (the automatic furnace) by turning on the heat and fiddling with the temperature setting. Nothing happened.

She tried to fiddle with the stove, the little space heater/fireplace dealie. Nothing happened.

She went outside to discover a note affixed to the tank of gas, proclaiming that the gas was off for safety reasons. Because Mr. Happy Super-Genius Good Listener Gas Man had done such a good job doing as Mom asked...

She turned the gas on.

Then she tried to light the furnace again.

Meanwhile, America's Next Top Plumber had fixed the water heater problem in 15 seconds or less. Really. That's just how good of a plumber he is. Then, he said... "Since I'm here anyway, why don't I help you with that?"

And seconds later, the heat kicked on.

While he was at it, he yanked out the filter (since the filter light was on) and Mom was so horrified at what she saw that she sent Paul to the store for a new one faster than he could blink.

All is now well.

Unless you count my not being able to eat much of anything.

And my taking that Pepto Bismol stuff like candy.

Or that I was unable to eat any Halloween candy, not to mention dinner, for a week.

Sigh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blog of Laura's Tragic Weekend of Eternal Suffering or, Things Fall Apart: Part 1

When I got home from work on Saturday, I noticed things were cold.

My whole house had a certain chill to it, as if someone had left the window open or something.

I also noticed a large, massive, in fact, convection oven taking up a quarter of our counter space in the kitchen.

For we had no gas.

Natural gas--that's what our house runs on. That means we were without the following: No oven or range, no hot water, and no heat.

Nice, huh?

You see, the company that used to fill our tank with gas used to check how much gas we had at any given time. Once a month, they would do rounds, check the level, and ask if we wanted more. Then we would tell them yes or no, and they would give us what we wanted and then leave us alone.

They were nice.

But then this new company (notice how I'm being polite and not giving names out) bought the old company and started just filling our tank up to the top every time they felt like it--which was usually right before winter when gas prices are highest, or in midwinter--you get the picture. Mom was shocked that they started this new way of handling things without telling her about it. So she did what anyone would do in such a situation: she yelled at them.

Watching my mother yell was impressive, empowering. Mom yells so rarely. It really is entertaining.

The frightened gas company reacted as any terrified gas company would, they took us off the list of people whose tanks got filled whenever they dropped below 100% full, leaving us to monitor the level of gas in the tank.

About that...

Since we had not responsibly monitored the level of gas in the tank, we had now run out of gas completely. The gas was gone, and it was feeling mighty cold in my house (most of the chill was in our relation to each other. See, in a crisis, we all blame Dad except Mom, who blames herself. Oh, and Dad blames Mom too).

The convection oven was Mom's attempt at keeping our lives as normal as possible.

So we'd have food.

Because we cook so often...

Right.

My father, once denied something, wants it more than anything else. Denied heat, he huddles under a blanket shivering until he manages to convince my mother it is freezing in the house and we are all near death.

I have asthma.

That being such, I avoid things like mold, perfume, and smoke of all sorts.

Mom, driven by fuel-induced guilt, decided to light a fire in our fireplace. Mom knows how to do this. In fact, during the early years of their marriage, Mom taught Dad how to light a fire in a fireplace, so she knows what she's doing. Despite Dad's attempts to make her believe otherwise.

When Mom lights a fire, no smoke comes into the house.

So she lit a fire, but before she even moved away, like a owl swooping in on its prey, he dove in brandishing a poker, and yanked all the logs and newspaper forward to the front of the fireplace.

This accomplished two things: 1. It caused the newly-lit fire to go out and 2. It caused all the smoke from the fire-that-was-but-was-now-no-more to pour into the house rather than out the chimney.

Meanwhile...

I had locked myself into my room and shoved several towels under my door before the fire had even been lit. In addition, I had thrown open the one window in my room that still opens (who knows why the other one doesn't anymore). So my room was freezing cold, but smoke free.

I commenced watching every episode of The Gilmore Girls: Season Six. Rory is a poor little rich girl, and I'm not a fan anymore.

But eventually, all good things come to an end. For me, this moment arrived when I became thirsty. Also, I was hungry. And I kind of had to go to the bathroom. Because 1. there is no Pepsi in my room, 2. there is no food in my room, and 3. there is no toilet in my room, I was out of luck.

So I saturated the facecloth I had in my room with the remainder of some water I had taken to bed with me the night before. I placed the towel over my mouth and nose, fire-safety-style. Then, I ran out of my room and closed the door behind me, took care of the various things on my list, and darted back into my room.

It worked like a charm.

Then, shockingly, something else happened: I had to get ready for bed.

This involved my brushing my teeth, washing my face (cold water), and rubbing various chemicals on my face to purge the horrible bacteria from my pores. To do this, I had to put the rag down...

What followed was the worse asthma attack of my life. It was so bad, I wanted to call an ambulance, but my phone isn't working because something freaky happened that I don't understand.

Also, I no longer could breathe, so I couldn't call my family for help. No, I was trapped, gasping like a fish out of water (pardon the cliche), helpless. What few mouthfuls of air I got into my lungs were expelled an instant later as I hacked and coughed in my misery. Luckily, I managed to get down two puffs from my emergency inhaler, because no one came to see if I was okay, even when I passed out.

That's how much my family loves me.

The next morning, I found a note shoved under my hand when I woke up. Someone had snuck into my room while I was sleeping to leave a note for me, placing it in my hand so they could be sure I would find it.

This is what the note said:

Laura,

I'm sorry the fire made you cough so bad.

Love,

Dad
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