Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All the Old/Young Dudes

I love my family.

I love us best when we are all together in a big family clump, all ten or so of us, shouting over each other until Dad or Paul gets a headache.

It's changed since I was young. Now instead of the party starting when Gran took out her hearing aid because she didn't need it anymore (all of us shouting, remember) and we all sat down around the dining room table wherever we were to play board games like Pit, Balderdash, or Trivial Pursuit, and if we chose the latter we all argued to get Dougie on our team because he was the only one who knew how many innings there were in a baseball(?) game or even what an inning was.


Now the party starts when we mistakingly get too loud for Katie, and she wakes up from her nap. Dylan is still too little for loudness to really matter.

Then, it becomes an Entertaining Katie party, the kind at which I excel, because I am really just a big kid after all, and I can color with the best of them. Have you seen those Color Wonder markers? They are magical.

I spent the weekend teaching that girl how to break her crayons for fun, and that tearing off the paper is an olympic sport in which speed is not so much a factor as is how intact the paper is at the end.

And all of us were poised to leap out of the way as either Grandpa or Katie had potty time.

Because there is a certain urgency at either age.

And Dylan...

Meet Dylan:

Dylan, who is too little to give the vaguest attention to his surroundings, was passed about for the first hour or so, then deposited in some rocking cradle contraption where he slept for hours afterward, until it was time for food.

Meanwhile, Grandpa watched the end of a baseball game, ate something, and went to sleep for hours afterward.

And I listened while Katie told me all about her new swing-set, an early birthday present, and asked me if I could do an abundance of things, like touch my toes, or roll over on the carpet.

We live so far apart, but she still asked if Paul was coming, Tall Paul, she called him.

And she remembered meeting Darcy, pointing out a sheepdog in one of her books and telling me it was "my doggie."

Genius. Pure genius.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's not you, it's me.

Dear Jennifer,

Years ago, I remember you, eager to find a dress for your senior recital, inviting me to go with you to South Bend. We all know what happened on that trip, the endless driving back and forth on US 30 until we thought we would go mad, and the whole Michigan thing, and the mess with asking directions at the Walgreen’s drive thru window. We had a tough time, and Becky high on over the counter cold medication and laughing in the backseat didn’t help us much. Still, we blamed poor online directions and badly placed detour signs and called it a day. We did end up with a dress, after all.

And I remember Shannon, doling out directions by cell phone as we drove through West Lafayette. We thought it was her fault we got lost five minutes out of the driveway. We blamed darkness and bad signs again.

We decided then that we were jinxed. That we could never travel together in an unfamiliar area by car, or we would end up trapped in some freakish way, an endless paranormal loop of temporal distortion and highway hypnosis.

But it isn’t us, Jen. It’s me.

Dad flew out Friday morning at some un-Godly hour for annual conference, a Church of the Brethren thing that tries very hard to be Godly, with varying results. He decided without discussing it with me, who would have to suffer from his choice, to drive to the Fort Wayne airport without Mom at three-something in the morning, instead of taking her with him and having her drive home. Instead, two cars had to make that back and forth trip as Mom and I, following the end of business that Friday, drove all the way to the blasted airport and found his car in long term parking.

Gas money, paying for parking, an evening of driving instead of relaxing and watching MASH, you get the picture. Neither of us were happy, and we still had to drive home.

Anyway, we started to pull out of the parking lot and had to switch off, one of us going through one tollbooth thing, the other through another. And somehow, I ended up in front of Mom, driving out of the airport. And it occurred to me, no one had told me how to get home.

Two paths lay before me, an angry red car behind me, and no possible way to stop and wait. I could head toward the terminal (I didn’t want to go there) or I could go toward some big important sounding road that I thought we might have come in on (469). That fancy road (469) went south and west, or north and east, and it also ended up intersecting with the airport expressway, which sounded very familiar.

I pulled over. This was when it occurred to me that Mom ought to have taken Paul’s cell phone for the excursion, seeing as how the two of us, now separated, had no way of getting in touch with each other, save telepathy. So I waited.

Twenty minutes passed as I sat on tenterhooks (that’s a word, I swear) waiting for Mom to reach the intersection behind me. I would see her, I thought, and follow the direction she chose until it hooked me up with a location I remembered. But Mom never came.

I pulled out my cell phone, new and trendy as it is, and used it to find Yahoo maps, but it kept loading a blank page again and again until I found Google maps which made me download something and told me the download wouldn’t work because my phone needed more memory. All the while I was stopping every minute or so to call and call and call Paul. Nothing.

So I took the airport expressway.

In the wrong direction.

As soon as I discovered this, Jen, I switched directions only to end up at the Social Security Administration building, something that sounded awfully important, but it didn’t do me much good since there were no elderly pensioners to tell me where to go from there. And night was coming.

I called Paul again.

This time I got his voicemail, a good sign because this meant his phone was close enough to a window to get a signal, perhaps leading to it ringing and Paul realizing that someone was trying to call him in the first place. As you know, Jen, this isn’t always a guarantee with the reception around our house.

“Paul,” I gasped into the phone. “I don’t know where I am. I think I’m someplace wrong, and I’m at the Social Security Administration and Mom isn’t here and I don’t know where she is and I need you to pick up the phone and tell me where I am and where I should go because night is coming.”

He still has it saved on his phone. I may have sounded more pathetic.

Moments later, as I was beginning to pull out of the Social Security Administration Building’s parking lot, Paul called back.

I explained the situation again, summed up where I was and where I wanted to get, and waited.

“That’s very interesting, Laura, but I don’t know what you want me to do about it.”

I know my brother. That meant, “Okay, fine, I’m ready to hang up now so you can deal with your problem.”

I said, “I want you to get on the computer, look up Google Maps, and tell me where I am. As soon as I find out where I am to tell you how to get me back to you.”

I was distraught.

In fact, Paul really just kept me company until I got on 469, going north and east. North and east, Jen. North and east.

For a time, as Paul tried to talk me down to somewhere resembling calm, and as I drove 70 miles an hour in what I would soon discover was the wrong direction, I thought everything was going to be okay.

Then I realized.

I was going to Ohio.

In fact, I was skirting the border, perhaps even crossing it, as I talked to Paul.

Jen, you know Indiana geography. Ohio was not on my way home.

“Turn around!” Paul urged, spilling water on the surge protector (attached to his computer) in his haste to find a real map, since the internet wasn’t helping. Or really even loading.

But there was no where to turn around.

Then, miraculously, I saw a road I recognized. US 30. Sure, it was still going to take me east, but if there was a 30 East, there was bound to be a 30 West, right?

And there was. Only it was called 930 West and we figured out that it would take me to the road I had wanted all along, 69, which would take me to 24, which would take me home.

I drove through a town, I think it was called New Haven, or something like that. Some generic town name. What did I care, at that point.

Then I entered Fort Wayne. Because I had left it a half-hour behind me as I went so far away from all that I had known that it took ages to find it again.

Then I found Parkview Hospital.

Then I found the Coliseum.

Then I entered Fort Wayne’s downtown, where I passed First Pres, where my English professors had taken us so many times before, to watch Shakespeare plays.

Then I passed the Cathedral and the Botanical place where we had our formal in college.

Then I realized I was near the knit shop, which I knew how to get to without going on 69, a busy and crazy road that ends up having more fatalities than I wanted to think about at that time of night.

I called Paul again (we had hung up so he could clean up the water before it shorted out his PC).

“I know where I am!” I proclaimed.

“Good,” he said. A door slammed behind him.

“I even know a better way home!”

“Laura…” he warned.

“No, you don’t understand!” I said. “I am by the knit shop!” And I passed the new fancy Fort Wayne Library, with its fancy new building.

“Oh,” Paul said. “Okay then.”

Paul knew I knew how to get back and forth from the knit shop. I know that, at least.

And then he passed the phone to Mom. Who had, in the time that I had been lost, made it all the way back home, which is about an hour and a half away when you are not all the way where I had ended up, by Parkview. Then it becomes two hours.

I explained to Mom what had happened as I passed Jefferson Pointe, waving to Biaggi’s as I went by.

“It happened so fast,” she said. “It must have been less than a minute. I even waited for you to figure it out and come find me.”

She should have known better.

So as I am sure you and Shannon realized on your recent trip, you can find your way around alright without me. And if we ever go anywhere again, I tell you now:

Never listen to anything I say. I am wrong. I have the sense of direction of a piece of chocolate, or a pencil. Or a toothpick. Something inanimate. It would take a map, a compass, and the hand of God to get me out of a wet paper bag, or any other kind of paper bag, open field, or my own house.

Listen to the GPS. Don’t look at me, don’t let me tell you I know what I am talking about. Because I don’t.

The only common denominator in all of my funny lost in a strange place stories is me. That’s it. Just me. The only way I can travel in a strange place is by foot, because it takes me so long to walk that by the time I get to the end of a block, I have realized my mistake and fixed it.

I’m sorry about South Bend. I’m sorry about Purdue. It was my fault. I can’t remember what I did or said, but I’m sure it was me. And when Rachael and I ended up in Chicago’s Chinatown, I bet that was me too.

It was even me when Mom and I took the bus out of Oxford’s city center only to take a bus back into it, looking for a college that was across the street from our hotel.

I mean it, now. Don’t ever take my directions again. Make me drive. You navigate.

Your misguided but well meaning friend,


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shirtless Guys, Skanky Girls, and My Seventieth Birthday

I am a stick in the mud. A fuddy-duddy. A party pooper. A drag.

I don't have a problem with it. I like to be in bed at eleven. It feels nice to fall asleep at the same time every night, and if I stay up any later, I get cranky. I like my meals on time, or nearly on time. Or I get cranky.

And I hate, hate, hate when people do certain things. Things they should know better than to do. Stupid jerks.

I am a self-described cynic, and paired with out-of-control, almost ceaseless sarcasm, this presents difficulty for those around me. Especially my family, because I completely relax any semblance of social niceties around them. They see my inky black heart and ruthless hatred of human stupidity. They also know exactly who makes the cut.

Okay, I am not really mean. I am predisposed to like people. Mostly. Except the stupid ones. Or the freaky ones. Or guys who hit on me for no reason.

Like today, at work.

Maybe these guys weren't actually hitting on me, but to me, men who don't wear their shirts indoors, in the presence of the opposite sex, may as well be sexually harassing unsuspecting young librarians.

And even if I didn't find it socially offensive--it's just gross. I mean, come on. Guys take off their shirts for several reasons, in my view, and none of them have a place in a library:

1. They have been in great heat and need to cool off. I see their point. Really, I do. But here's the thing. I don't take off my shirt when I'm hot. Because it isn't tasteful, and because the cops would arrest me for indecent exposure (and that's not taking into account my lack of physical fitness). And I could do without the sweat, and the smells related to sweat, when I am shelving books inside my workplace.


If you are sweaty, I don't want to see it. Ever. This is non-negotiable. Sweat is gross on me, so it's gross on you.

2. They want girls to see their sexy muscles. My response to this is: Eww. Gross. Not at work, and not you, I don't even know your name. Plus, body hair is not attractive. And the guys who would look good shirtless don't live in our part of Indiana. Here we have the farmer tans where your crew-neck shirt covers you or doesn't, and--judging from the guy I saw at Target today--Hoosier guys have longer necks than normal just so they can be even redder than necks ever get in other states (that guy was like a freaky human brontosaurus). And if I have to take all that time to shave areas of my body I won't mention here, you could at least try to keep some control over the hair situation.

3. They are being Alpha Males, ripping off their shirts in the presence of other males, in order to vie for superiority.

Okay. How is it cool to stroll around shirtless with other men? Do other men really want to see you half naked? Don't you see a problem with that? If you don't, you likely aren't a male from the Bible Belt. But what the heck. Stay away from me, and you can enjoy each other's nudity all you want. Just don't talk about it in public.

There might be more reasons. But I don't care what they are. Shirts good, shirtless bad.

So when I looked up from my shelving today and saw shirtless guys, I thought I would have some kind of psychotic break.

Now. In the world of shirtlessness...does no one see a problem with walking into a library shirtless? I get grabbing an ice cream at The Works in downtown Wabash. I get running in to pay for gas for your truck. But the library? That is like walking into the BMV or to the bank or something, without your shirt!

Only a generation ago, the whole shirts inside places of business thing would have gone without saying.

I was complaining about it over dinner, because that is how I roll, and my family started accusing me of being my 86 year old grandfather in a 24 year old girl's body, and I didn't argue.

I do think people should take off their baseball caps inside, especially when eating, as a sign of respect to others. I think we shouldn't talk on cell phones wherever we go, during dinner, in the restroom, or at the movies. I think girls should avoid being bra-less whenever possible (there could be some kind of Bra Monster that steals them at night, what do I know, to keep you from having them. But do try).

And I think we should be as respectful as possible to others--even if that means trying to be polite in other places. What do I mean? How about not swearing in front of others? That would be sweet. And not telling me about your freakish husband you plan to divorce any second would be great too. Just because the divorce papers are upstairs. Really.

I drove up to get my laptop in Kokomo today, and as I drove, I related to Paul how horrible the mall there was getting. How all the slutty girls hung around, attracting the scum of humanity, dropping condom boxes in the parking lot and making chalk outlines of each other in dead-guy poses on the ground because it is so funny to make it look like there's been a murder outside the bookstore.

How it is so cool to just, like, totally stand in traffic, like, as if you were just so saying like "whatever, I am so to cool to get killed in a traffic accident," even though we are thousands of miles from whatever valley that dialect is supposed to come from and the people using it have never touched a surf board, and they think being punk means dying your hair a different color, like red or dark brown, and wearing more black than normal.

You can't be a valley girl and punk at the same time. Even I am cool enough to know that.

And I saw one girl. Oh, she was badly afflicted. Wearing tiny white shorts (see-through) that were simultaneously too loose and too small, she also sported a sequined, slutty tank top combination. As she and her mate of choice strutted with a second, no doubt lesser, female across the parking lot toward Best Buy, they caused traffic to stop completely as they pawed each other, like monkeys in the wild, grooming as they chose their mates.

Paul said, "Those aren't bad," as I went on and on about how slutty the shorts were, and how she should put on some pants, for crying out loud.

But then, walking out of Best Buy minutes later, he glimpsed the girl closer up (where she, plastered against the male, smoked a cigarette and tried to flirt with each passing eligible male simultaneously) and came to agree with me.

He then told me that I was totally right, that the shorts were disgusting. Then he added that they wouldn't have been so bad on someone else, like someone who they would have fit (Cough-90-pound-cheerleader-Cough).

No one wants to look up your short shorts because you had to buy a big size and so the leg openings are loose enough to fit two of your thighs in them even after you have rolled them up to make them ultra-short.

Maybe it makes me grumbly, maybe my noticing all these things makes me intolerant of other, sluttier lifestyles, but I do not care. They are infringing on my right to open my eyes in public--and we all know the people who should wear the skin-tight patent-leather leggings are never the people who buy them.

I embrace it all, call me what you like, when you like. Just not from the Target public restroom.

Where am I again?

I was sitting in the car, idling, in the middle of a country road, even though there was no stop sign. I recognized the round barn. Really, I did.

I just couldn't remember what side of the road it was supposed to be on.

It was all that truck driver's fault. If he hadn't been driving so slow, in his stupid rusty truck, all beat-up and farmy looking, with his stupid shirts hung up all stupidly beside his stupid self in the passenger seat like they were another stupid person...Stupid Jerk...I wouldn't have passed him.

And if I hadn't have passed him, I might not have ended up at the four way stop at the same moment I did. And if I hadn't arrived then, I might not have ended up behind the freak of nature I ended up behind, in his equally stupid truck, this one pulling two trailers filled with some kind of farm chemical, proving once and for all what a jerk he was.

Because you shouldn't introduce all those chemicals into the environment. That's how kids get born with gills.

So I turned off the road. So what? I know my way around. Usually.

The problem was that Mom kept telling me what direction to go, then she stopped. Had she kept going, I would never have gotten confused. And if she had never done it at all, I would have been paying closer attention. Yeah.


Finally, I determined I should go right, only to have Mom correct me. I would have ended up at 114 again. And I wanted 16. I wasn't going back to North Manchester (or Warsaw). I was supposed to be driving home. With new wool, no less (Malabrigo Sock, Archangel).

So I turned left. Dang it. I did.

And as I drove on, I wondered how long ago the problems I had with directions started. And I think I have it figured out.

I remember a classroom. Little Laura was sitting at a desk, which, depending on her age, was either much too big or much too small for her frame.

The teacher, undoubtedly clad in the ever-popular J.C. Penny house-dress so many of my teachers lived in, was explaining North, South, East, and West to us, using a map on the wall. "North," she said. "Is that way."

She pointed directly in front of me, toward the wall I was facing.

Right. I thought. If I look at my map, I am facing North. And I am facing North. That means behind me is South.

"And North will always be that way," the teacher continued. "So what direction is this way?"

"South" we all chorused.

"This way?"


"What about this way?"

"East!" we shouted, now confident in our new found skill.

"And that is where they will always be," she said.

Right. So if I remember that North is in front, South is behind, East is to my right, and West is left, just like on the map, I will never be lost. But all that changes if I turn the map around. Then I have to turn to. Right? Yes.

The teacher then turned the class around.

"Which way are we facing now?" she asked us.

"South," some of the kids cried (correctly). Others shouted "East" or "West" but there was one other response. A very tiny "North."

Guess who that was.

"No," the teacher said to me, patiently. "North is that way."

"But you said North is in front of me," I replied sweetly, honestly confused.

"It was there, but now it is behind you."

"But North never changes," I countered.


"But it just did."

"Because you changed," the teacher replied, now somewhat frustrated.

"But the map says North," I pointed. The map, you see, had turned with me. "And that's the compass rose!"

"It is," the teacher said, again proving me right. "But because the compass rose didn't move, and North did--"

HA! I thought. So North does move!

"North moved?" I said.

"No," the teacher replied.

"But you said it did."

"You moved. And the map moved."

"What about the wind," I said ominously, holding up an index finger. "Could that have something to do with it?" I reflected on my father, standing in my front yard facing--you guessed it--North, licking his index finger and holding it up to feel the direction of the wind.

"Gotta love that North wind!" he would say. Or, "What a biggie North wind!" North wind, North wind! So the wind always came from the North, since Dad never mentioned it otherwise.

And Dad knew all about directions. He would always point out the moss on trees, telling me the moss was on the North side. Unfortunately, at the time, I was also facing North.

Then he would grab a hunk of weeds and tell me when the world ended, I was supposed to eat them.

"When the world ends," he said kindly. "You grab this and boil it, and then you have coffee."

For years I thought I kept missing the time of year when the tiny weeds would grow coffee beans. I thought it must always happen near my birthday, when I was at Grandma's house.

"And remember," he said. "That's a raccoon footprint. And eat this weed after the rapture."

Because in my dad's mind, I would be left behind after the rapture, despite the fact that I was a good little girl who went to church and Sunday school, with my own Bible.

"Watch for bears," he would say, thrusting berries at me. "They like to eat these. Make sure you check before you eat them. You might need to know all that."

Yes, Dad knew how to stay alive. So if he said North was that way, by darn, it was.

The teacher looked at me; I looked at the teacher.

And then the bell rang, the class broke apart, all of us going back to homeroom with the promise of more fun confusion tomorrow. Like how to not read Roman numerals, or how to look at the clock and tell what time it is in ten seconds or less, using half-past and quarter-till as I stared on in confusion, still stuck on why they used the little hand for hours when hours were longer than minutes anyway.

What is up with that?

So it goes without saying that I had more important things to do than learn which way was North, really. I mean, if no one ever mentioned it again, it mustn't be that important, right?

That was why I failed "Directions" in Driver's Ed, while poor Erica drove in circles waiting for me to tell her to turn or go straight out of the parking lot and the teacher refused to help me.

And that was why I was stopped in the middle of the empty country road, thinking about moss and handfuls of weeds I should cook up for dinner instead of salmon and brown rice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Temporal Phenomenon

Oh, how I miss the laptop.

I did okay at first; I only told Mom and Dad that I might as well be dead once before I realized I could do other things. Then I marathon-read three novels (Jen, I'm getting to yours...next) and then I was okay...mostly. And I only had to last a couple days. And I could do that...

But life without a dvd player, because that is what the laptop doubles as, is hard. I miss it. Very much so.

And then I got the new phone. It is fancy, and it syncs with your computer so that you can put tons of music, pictures, and other stuff on there. And I can't play with it, not really. All I could do was use Paul's computer to put a few songs on it, one to wake up to and one as a ring tone, before I went to sleep. And that was all the fun I could have.

So no playing. No customizing the phone for my needs by using the computer. No reading the manual, which is on the phone. Just holding the phone and hoping someone will call me, and calling my aunt who always talks to me for at least 45 minutes per phone call. That's all.

Today Erin asked me when I was getting it back, and I thought--"Hey--I could completely call and ask about that! It's been about a week now! It's bound to be done." So I did, and they responded..."We're still working on the diagnostics, and we'll give you a call when it's done."

Does that sound like a non-answer to you? Like a "We'll fix your computer when we feel like it, so just wait patiently and read another book, even though the count is up to ten this week, and your knitting is seriously behind schedule because all your patterns are stored on the computer, which is gathering dust behind me on the shelf filled with other computers we're not fixing."

That's what I thought.

I really miss my laptop.

And I have the weekend free, to go and get it...and I won't get that call. I just know it. They're going to call me Monday--or worse--Wednesday, which is the day of our YA book discussion, a day I can't just drop everything and race up to get it.

That's just cruel. You know I'm right.

And I really want my laptop back.

Do you think they'll call me tomorrow?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Does anyone (excluding me) follow John Green's blog? If you don't, you should give it a try. He's the author of Paper Towns (among other novels)--which I greatly recommend. The guy is hilarious--not to mention smart--always a good combination.

He posted a commentary on the elections in Iran that you all should watch, especially if you're unfamiliar with Iranian politics. I know it sounds boring, but we have to stay as informed about international elections as we do our own, or we end up with people like Iran's president Ahmadinejad dictating our foreign policy. Am I the only person who thinks that's a bad idea?

Watch this:

If you're curious as to the mindset of some of Ahmadinejad's supporters...here's a blog post you're sure to find disturbing...

Unbalanced much?

Here's another blog post, this one by a Chicago attorney...with differing views on the subject.

Equally unbalanced. And maybe I'm a crazy person, but I tend to lean more toward believing the second blog...


Monday, June 15, 2009

And All Is Right Again

I've just had a call from Dad. He's been to the cell phone place and has a new phone, the exact make and model of the phone he mulched, in his posession.

Now if only I can get myself a new phone...

July 2. I have to wait until July 2.


That's a long, long time to put up with my stupid, horrid phone. I don't know if I can make it.

This Is Your Cell Phone

I was getting ready to take my little laptop off to see the laptop doctor at Best Buy when I heard the front door slam.

"Jul!" Dad called, in the standard "something is wrong and you better fix it" voice he uses for perceived emergencies.

He walked back toward me, one hand concealed behind his back and waited for Mom to open the door and come away from her new curlers, which were burning her hands so severely she resorted to putting on the pink John Deer (Deere? I'm not a farm girl) gardening gloves Dad bought her at the church auction as a joke.

"What?" Mom asked, removing a glove.

"I have good news, and I have bad news," Dad said.

"Tell me," Mom replied. At this point, I was actually curious. What was with the hand? Had Myst slaughtered an innocent that Dad callously brought into the house to show us? Was he injured? He did that when he got hurt sometimes...

"The good news is that the lawnmower actually still works--"

"You cut yourself!" Mom exclaimed.

"No," Dad said, moving his hand to show us what he held. "But I think I may have run over my cell phone with the lawn mower."

This is what we saw...

The "may have" is what got me. Maybe he hit his cell phone with the lawn mower. Maybe the blades mulched it, twisting the battery, shattering the circuitry, shredding the leather case that "protected" the phone beyond recognition.

This is your cell phone on lawn mower.

Or maybe something else did all that.

Maybe it wasn't really his phone. It could have been mine, or Paul's.

And in Dad's happy world of denial, his phone was safe, waiting quietly on some table top or in a pocket somewhere, unharmed and ready to receive all the emergency calls he could want, at three in the morning.

I laughed so hard, I could not breathe. Then I grabbed my camera and took all the pictures, burning them on a disc just in case the Best Buy people decided to keep my laptop, trapping the pictures on it, for weeks.

Then I vowed to share the pictures with the church, you, and anyone else that would look at them. What are daughters for?

Dad and Mom went out to look for the SIM card, which was not in the debris, but they could not find it. Most likely, it is resting peacefully, embedded in a tree three miles from the accident site.

And someday, maybe, we'll find it out there. But not before Dad has put all his contacts back into his new phone, one number at a time. Because that is how we do it at our house.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Jennifer and I went shopping this weekend, because I am being plagued by something I think many former college students will understand.

I have no clothes.

Sure, I have crappy things I can pull on in the morning and wear all day as I paint and wash the dog, or mow the lawn and plant flowers, but I have no nice things to wear with regularity.

I have convinced myself this is due to the fact that there are so many other things to buy in college, like food and books, that I neglected getting nice things to wear (since I had nowhere to wear them except class, and I was the only one not wearing clothing I'd slept in, so I looked good no matter what).

But after a day of, I must admit, fruitful, shopping, I am still pretty much in the same boat I was before.

I find that I like things no one makes. I like classy tops inspired off of classic design or Victorian/Edwardian fashion. I do not like the 60's mod-reinvented or the revamped 80's styles I see everywhere. I look like a corpse in bright mauve and poofy hair, and I look like a corpse in stark white or black tunic style dresses with freaky necklines.

Heck, I look like a corpse in everything.

But the problem is, that leaves me few stylish options. I end up buying multiple tops, all solid colors, all basic shapes. Crew-necked t-shirts, for example. Then I get cardigans in all colors to throw on top of them to make myself feel like I put in a bit of effort.

And it looks okay.

But it doesn't look trendy. Or even polished.

I used to be both of those things. And now I am not. And I have no other options open to me, beside going nude and setting some new, illegal trends that leave me out of a job and with a warrant out for my arrest. Or just in jail, depending on how fast I drive.

I am going to go up north. I am hitting the malls in Lake County, I am going to Express. I am going to leaf out the big bucks and look nice for once. It will happen. And, until then, I am going to feel good about myself, taking solace in the fact that I work with children who don't notice what I wear above the knee, which is what I would like all people to do in the first place.

It is going to get better.

I know it.