Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Share a Bathroom with the Thought Police, or Neo-Facism and Me

Yesterday when I went to work, I was kind of excited, because it is Banned Book Week.

Banned Book Week is the one time each year that I feel utterly free to fly off the handle about censorship, insist that books (so horrific I would never read them) are displayed loud and proud for their artistic merits.

I got to work, greeted my co-workers, and went upstairs where I pulled a bunch of books off the YA shelves and displayed them prominently. They deserved it. They've been through a lot (well, not them exactly, but other copies of the same books).

I wrote this blog post on the WCPL Young Adult Blog.

When I finished, I posted it and was proud. I liked the way it turned out. I thought it dealt nicely with the seriousness of the issues we face in the Book World while still having a little funny.

Paul came to visit me at work, and I made him read it. He liked it too, enough so that yesterday evening, we started talking about it again.

See, I like this book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It won the National Book Award, so I'm not alone.

This novel was also banned, due to a couple of pages in which the protagonist, Junior, describes how much he enjoys his own company and how certain he is that you enjoy yours. Yes, I am talking about what you think I'm talking about. He claims that being ambidextrous is helpful in this pursuit, and that this is the reason God gave us all thumbs.

Now, if I was just reading through a novel and I found that, I would be grossed out. But through the remainder of the novel, Alexie takes readers through multiple instances of escapism, both on the reservation where Junior lives and in the all-white school he attends (following a collision between his geometry teacher and geometry book in which Junior played no small part). So, as I read that section, I thought: "Hey--escapism! This is so totally relevant to the novel!" And the lit buff in me smiled because it wasn't just there for shock value. The book is incredibly well thought out, nothing is there that doesn't need to be, and I loved it.

I explained to Paul why that book was banned. Then we talked about how stupid it was to ban something, anything, because you want to control access to information about sex. Paul made the point that those young people who desire (clears throat) will get it, whether alone (cough) or with someone else. And if they are ignorant about the process involved, they will end up getting pregnant, sick, or worse. So, basically, Knowledge is Power (we watched a lot of after school learning programs on PBS growing up).

He has a good point.

I told him so.

Then I started on my favorite irrational book banning story, Vamos a Cuba, which I explain in detail in the other post. Long story reduced to one sentence: That book was banned because the little boy was living in Cuba and happy at the same time.

Apparently, that's physically impossible.

Or at least it is when you live in the Miami-Dade area of Florida, where many Cuban immigrants settle after fleeing Castro and his gang of crazy folk. See, Castro likes to tell his people what to think. So, to solve this problem, people who flee his regime choose to tell everyone here what to think since they couldn't do it back home.

Sure, I get that life can't be all daisies and DeBrand's chocolate over there. But doesn't the whole book banning thing kind of defeat the purpose of leaving a country without free speech for one with free speech? I mean, didn't you just come over and bring the problems you wanted to leave?

I'm sure not everyone is this way. But someone must have been, because look what happened! Not just one book, but all twenty-four in the series!

So I threw my Laura fit, Paul listened and threw in the right affirmations when he ought to have ("Yeah!" or "That's right!").

Then I brushed my teeth, to get the taste of dystopia out of my mouth. Yuck.

As I did this, Dad walked around the corner and asked Paul what we were talking about. Paul then filled him in, and made the fatal error of telling Dad what he really thought about something. Never do that. Always deflect, Paul. Always.

The trick is to stop arguing about Issue X when he walks around the corner, and answer his questions with, "What do you care? Don't you have a whistle to play?" Or the kinder options, "Your face!" or "The per diem of a hit man." or "Where to hide the body."

Dad actually laughs at these, you do too, and the family dynamic remains healthy...ish.

Paul cited my blog entry (here!) as a good argument against book banning. The blog thing I heard, so I rinsed the minty toothpaste out of my mouth and came out of the bathroom to see what was up.

Here is where the family background fits in:

Dad was an English major. Journalism was his thing. He did all the classes, with a bunch of lit ones too, I would think, because that's the way it usually works. Or did, back when he was a student.

The thing you learn in lit class is that you might absolutely hate the book you are reading. You might drop-kick said book across the mall in rage (sorry) or want to light it on fire as soon as you finish it (sorry, it was Dreiser). But what you like or don't like is irrelevant to the artistic significance of the book in question. Although Sister Carrie I think was just written as a torture device for the world...

Dad never got this. If he finds something boring, stupid, too "pretentious," or just too thought-provoking, he won't read it. Which makes it unsurprising that he totally turned against all that is English to become a drawling Midwestern pastor, for good or for ill.

Dad does the preacher thing, and I get it. He sees the worst outcome of every scenario. And one of the things he finds the most evil is, you guessed it, porn.

Back to the story...

Dad waited until he was sure I was anti-book banning to try and drop his bombshell, though I knew it was coming and it wasn't very surprising. See, Dad gets this furrow in his brow when he's judging you. And he had it.

I did the classic argument that I save for Evangelical Christians, who want us to live in a Christian fundamentalist state, not unlike an Islamic Fundamentalist state, but substitute the Bible for the Qur'an.

Here it goes...

In the Middle Ages, books were copied by hand and their dispersal and availability was controlled universally by the Catholic Church. This meant that all books written, translated, or duplicated were policed by religious scholars, or at least people who could read and write (which passed for a theology degree at the time). One day, a really smart dude figured out how to rub ink on blocks that he rearranged...and we had a printing press. This came at just the right time, because tons more people weren't dying of plagues just then, and so kids got to learn things like how to write their own name or even their own language instead of just Greek and Latin.

So what happened? Some guy (John Wycliffe) thought it would be freaking awesome to have a Bible that people could read in their own tongue, without having to spend years learning to read Greek, Latin, and calligraphy. So the Bible was translated and copied out and all hell broke loose (metaphorically). The Pope was still so mad that over 40 years after this dude died, he ordered the guy's bones dug up, crushed, and scattered in a river. But he got owned, because my Bible isn't in Latin--is yours?

Still, the Bible is one of the most popular books...and so it's also on the list of titles people try to ban.

Now we go back to Vamos a Cuba.

The court that first heard the case threw it out because the criticism against it was so political. Clearly, the court claimed, this was a First Amendment issue. But then, the people who hated it appealed the ruling and it went to the Eleventh Circuit Court which is also the newest Circuit Court and a very conservative one (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida). Because it went there on appeal, and was about the First Amendment, naturally the court overturned the original ruling and let the books be banned.


And now, it is being appealed again and the Supreme Court can have its say. If we are unlucky, we will lose all kinds of library rights.

And from there, we have the snowball effect. Ban one book and you have precedent to ban others. And if we are one day not in the religious majority, it will be easy to ban books on religious grounds (since it's so easy to ban them due to political reasons).

Back to the story:

Dad said, "So you don't think we should ban books?"

And I knew where it was going, but I stood firm. "No!"

"No books should ever be banned?"

"Heck no."

"What about pornography?"

And I said, "We already have laws governing the dispersal of pornographic materials." And then I said, "If you ban something with the intention of keeping it out of the hands of teenagers, the teenagers will find a way to get their hands on it by any means necessary. Besides, look at drugs! We banned the use of drugs and now we have a huge illicit drug trade booming in our country and several others that supply our habit. The same thing would happen if you tried to ban something like porn. People will find a way to get it."

Anyway, if people banned that, everyone would still just get it for free on the internet like they do now. Who pays for that kind of thing when they e-mail it to you when you don't even want it?

That's what spam is all about.

"You don't think that some books are just immoral and evil?"

"No, but I think some people are immoral and evil. But, Dad, if you really don't want your kids reading certain books, just don't let your kids read them! Keep them reading stuff you want them to read. That's the responsibility of parents."

Dad kept arguing. He wanted me to back down and tell him, sure ban all the stuff that's immoral in the world. Why not?

But I don't believe in book banning. Especially if what's in the book and deemed inappropriate is nothing compared to the content of our latest blockbuster movie. Especially if I go to R rated movies and find kids inside, little kids, like three year-olds or infants.

"Okay," I finally interrupted. "We are never going to agree on this. That's pretty clear. So let's just be done. Book banning is just wrong, but you can think what you like," and I walked away.

As I walked, my rage grew. George Orwell wrote a whole book about people like this! And it was scary! And I have to wait for Big Brother himself to finish trimming his nose hair so I can go to the bathroom in the morning. By the time I reached the main room with the TV and Mom in it, I had proceeded from muttering under my breath to speaking full voice to almost yelling.

Darcy and I took a walk.

My Dad is a fascist. A complete and total fascist. It's bad enough that he thinks I should have less of a right to argue with him or other people because I'm a girl. Now, though, I find out he's a badge carrying member of the Thought Police. What is wrong with him?

He is so lucky I didn't start piling up all the anti-Muslim lets-hate-everyone books people from church give him in the front yard for my own little Bonfire of the Vanities. This goes both ways, you know. First you're telling everyone not to think Cuban kids can be happy, then you're burning smut, then you're burning religious texts, then you wake up and it's Fahrenheit 451 and our civilization has fallen apart.

Why does he not see this?

I mean, he's always talking about how Christians in some countries can't even get a Bible because of all the government restrictions. He wants these people to get Bibles...he wants people over there to break the law to read the Bible. How is book banning here any different than book banning over there?

I can think of some more reasons that involve name-calling, but I think the real reason is that Dad thinks he is right. And rightness is not a justification for censorship.

Gosh, guys, this is super-long. Sorry. I just can't help myself. --Laura

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's Wrong With AR

Accellerated Reader, produced by Rennisance Learning, is the worst thing to happen to English education since we stopped speaking English in this country.

People who disagree with me will say: "It gets kids reading when they wouldn't have otherwise!" So do book reports. "It makes kids read at their level." So do book reports. "It rewards kids for reading." So do cookies.

Any other arguments?

If you set a number of books to read, or the reading level of books kids should read, you get the same result--kids have to read for school or their grades suffer. If you're worried they aren't reading, then make it a real English assignment and make them write a little summary. Then read the summary...see where this is going?

AR makes kids hate reading, even more than they did before. Previously, they didn't read if they didn't have to. And no one made them. So they were all bad readers, because they didn't read. And reading makes you a better reader. But there were always times when kids would rush out to the shelf in a race to see who could get a copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins or The Bears of Blue River or now, Harry Potter. Kids would read them because other kids were reading them. And I would join in, because it was the only time I could talk to people about books when I was in elementary school.

Kids read at level when they're bored. But research on this tells us that kids who are really excited about a certain subject or a series of books will read far above their level because they're really paying attention. Because contrary to popular belief, your reading level is not a constant.

You might pick up a book that relies on math a lot, that is written at say...an eighth grade level. However, with your tenth grade reading level, you will not be able to understand it because you don't get math or you don't like math, so you aren't really paying attention.

Your friend picks up the same book. He loves math, but he has a fifth grade reading level, and he struggles a lot. But he likes math so much that he pays extra close attention to all the mathy goodness, resulting in your friend comprehending the book better than you did despite the fact you are a better reader.

Now, the two of you liked reading something together. But your taste in books is supremely different, and you don't know what to pick. You figure out that you are indifferent to penguins. You don't hate them, but you don't want to cuddle one and shower it with adoration either. So you pick up the same book written at the sixth grade reading level, just like the math book.

You read it and aren't bored, and it isn't hard for you. Your friend reads it and struggles. Because when we aren't trying, our reading levels are what they are when we're tested.

In the sixth grade, they tested reading levels. I scored college level, which was explained to my mother as being open ended.

"She can read anything," the teacher explaining the test said.

"I know," my mother said.

Then I went on to the seventh grade, and they told me to read books with the yellow dots on the spines, but only if they were at my reading level. I read them. Then one day I raised my hand.

"I'm out of books," I said.

The teacher laughed.

"I really am."

So he took me to the bookself and we went through one by one and we discovered I had read all the books at my reading level that we had tests for.

That was when we reexamined the AR program for me. I was given a point level for a goal and then they let me go to town. When I finished eighth grade and was done with AR, I had the highest amount of AR points earned in North Miami's history. And I didn't really try very hard. I just read two books at once, one I wanted to read and one for AR points.

But not all schools are that understanding. I think if they were, there would be more problems with parents arguing that their kids should get to read whatever they want too. I had a mom come into the library today, we get them all the time, looking for books for her fourth grader.

He reads at a 7.4, which is pretty darn good when you consider that most kids are reading at or below level most of the time.

But he has what I consider the "Christian Mom" type. She loves to police what he reads. I get that you don't want your kid reading brutal violence or sex, but when you are saying no to books and the kid's teacher is saying no to books, pretty soon there aren't books you both can agree on. And then the kid is getting pulled in two directions and he quits reading.

Who could blame him? When reading isn't interesting or is a source of conflict, you're out of luck. You just stop fighting for it, because you can just go play video games, right?

We went through the whole of our downstairs collection and found only books like Sherlock Holmes and Black Beauty to amuse him. Or nonfiction. That isn't going to last very long.

The mother left, and this started stewing in my head. Then she came back for C.S. Lewis (that's okay for Christian Moms), and I told her to talk to the kid's teachers so that they can work something out. This is just horrible for the kid. If someone gives, the kid might make it through school better off than if he just gives up. He might make it through college.

This situation is the kind of thing that ticks me off no end. We encourage the average child and discourage the below average and above average at the same time. I understand that we can't make the world a happy place for every kid, but we can do better than this, can't we?

The problem is, it works well for teachers. It works well for schools. I just wish it could work well for kids too. And for school librarians that have to censor books all the time, not for content, but for reading level. "No, you can't read that," should not be in a librarian's vocabulary.

Poor kid. I know how it feels. I hope it gets better.

The Glory of the DVD Season

This is my favorite time of year. Not because of leaves changing colors, not because of the temperature, and certainly not because of the freaky orange ladybugs that swarm everywhere without fail.

Every year, starting in September, all the television series that I love release their previous seasons on DVD. Fringe, Criminal Minds, House, and Chuck, all the shows I watch, all out on DVD at once.

So often, on days when I'm too tired to run around all over the place, I end up sitting and knitting. I love it. It's the best way to spend a weeknight. Most evenings, though, I only get PBS's South Bend Parks and Recreation program for hours on end (or Dinner and a Book) and it's awful. So I end up watching DVDs. Ages ago, before I started on my DVD season kick (House, season one, during my senior year of college), I would watch A&E's Pride and Prejudice (the 6+ hour one) over and over because I could stop and start at any point because I knew the story so well. It allowed me to watch TV for the short bursts my attention span allows.

Television, for the most part, is boring for me. I can't usually sit all the way through a movie because it means I sit still, staring at a television screen, for too long. I watch those at the movies or at a friend's house. I know this makes me sound ADD, but television turns off your brain and mine likes to keep going. I have about an hour time limit to my TV attentiveness. So if I watch movies, I have to be doing something else at the same time to keep myself from falling asleep or talking to the person next to me.

There are rare exceptions.

But for the most part, I like to turn on something, eat my dinner, and turn it off. Or, I'll knit for an hour or so, watching TV. Then I go and read.

There is nothing on my television at home worth watching except for the previously mentioned series. So once a year, I get to buy them all, go home, and have a little party.

I get those fancy milk chocolate chip cookies and I sit down and watch the best of the year. Then I go back through the series a little at a time until I have caught up with the new episodes, and that's when the fun stops.

Right now, the fun has just started.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How many things are wrong with the world?

Jen and I talk a lot about all the things that are wrong with our education system in this country. One of them walked in this afternoon.

He first asked me where the books on the Japanese-American War were. Just like that. I said, "There was no war called the Japanese-American War, but we did fight them in World War II, is that what you mean?"


He wanted the Japanese-American War, a war I had never heard about up to this point in my life. So I showed him the World War II books and told him these were our war books, and that I thought he might find what he was looking for in that general area.

Cunning, aren't I?

"Where are the books," he continued. "That have the flags that say, "bravo" and "Where are the...?'"

"I don't know what you mean," I said. "If they're World War II flags, they'll be in the World War II books."

"Like the Japanese-American War?"

"World War II," I said.

"What about the war we're fighting now?"

"In Iraq and Afganistan?"

"The Japan war?"

"No," I said. "We aren't fighting the Japanese. The Japanese are our friends," I left then, a strategic retreat in the face of his unshakable belief.

Moments later, he returned with a book.

"Look," he said. "Look at all this, this World War II had to have been the best war."

I remained silent.

"See this? I bet the Japanese hated this," he pointed to a picture of American soldiers facing off against...Axis troops...not Japanese. Wow. "This took a long time to set up. It's lucky they did that before the war started."

He pointed to trenches.

"Well," I said. "They did dig that during the fighting."

"I'm going to be a soldier."


"I wonder who I'll be killing."

That did it. Pacifist Laura could take no more. First: know the war we're in and the war you're talking about by the age this kid was (let's just say he should have known better by that point). Second, "I wonder who I'll kill?" What are we doing around here, training kids for mass murder? Or is it just the whole, war is cool thing where human life takes no place, all that matters is how big the guns are?

Frankly, It really doesn't matter what the answers to my last, rhetorical, questions are...what matters is that we need to not be that way about war.

"I hope no one," I replied.

"It has to be someone," he said.

"No, it doesn't. And, we might not even be in a war when you're older. I hope we aren't. War is awful. People die. I know people who have died. I know people who are getting shot at and maybe hurt right now. War is bad."

The kid's face lit up when I told him that last part. Seriously. And sure, it's not real to him. Of course it isn't. Because either it doesn't click as being real in his head, or he's a complete psychopath.

And that can't be accurately diagnosed before adulthood, when the brain's development slows down. For example, tons of teenagers might be considered psychopaths. But they aren't. They're just jerks. And I have to put up with them. Sigh.

After that I ignored him. Because I have a friend, my neighbor, in fact, who is a field medic now. His family has no idea from day to day if he's okay. And someone, no matter how young or naive, who can just disregard that possibility, it just gets me ticked.

Life is life, and the damage war inflicts...I get that some people haven't grown enough to understand that, but come on.


That just ticked me off. I have to take cleansing breaths. Maybe I'll watch some Brotherhood 2.0.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How hard can finding a pattern be?

I tell you, people, that my life is really hard.

Here is what I want to do: knit a baby sweater.

Why? Because my friends keep deciding to procreate, leading to my need to give them something, and knitters give knitted things when babies are involved.

Why? Shut up, that's why.

But here's the thing. I had (have?) two sweater options. The first is Baby Yours by Stephanie Pearl McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) because I saw Rachael's version and realized that it is even more beautiful in person than it is in a tiny jpg on the internet. The other is the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Both are Ravelry links, so sorry non-Ravelers, you'll have to bear with me until I can give you my pictures of these to-be-knitted things.

Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote this pattern a long, long time ago, but it is still super-popular due to the construction of the thing and also its (purported) ease.

Seeing as how it's been around for ages, I figured that somewhere along the line, somebody might have bothered to offer a PDF version of the....



If I get that pattern, it will involve either my purchase of a book or my purchase of a printout of the pattern which will be shipped to my house even though I wouldn't have printed it out at all if I could avoid it because I hate print-outs. I would rather just have it on the laptop.

So, I changed my mind Baby Yours, I decided, would be the sweater of choice. And what did I have to do with that pattern?

You guessed it. I had to buy it (understandable) and then (sob!) have it shipped to my house.

Do you have any idea how much energy it takes, how much resources are wasted, when a person online sells something to another person that is...paper...then insists upon printing said paper themselves, packing it in plastic and then more paper, then putting some other paper and glue onto that paper and giving it to someone else who puts it in a plane, train, or big truck and burns petroleum of some kind all the way across the country (or world, in some instances) for days and days only to arrive at my house so that person or a different one because the paper could have changed hands numerous times by that point just to give it to me?

A lot.

Now imagine another scenario. Someone prints that original paper into a PDF, e-mails it to me when my credit card is approved, then I open it right then and there, print it off if I want to (I don't) or back it up onto something safe and eternal, then I start knitting and theoretically, it takes just an hour or so for this party to happen.

I want to not be waiting for my pattern.

To make matters even worse, I can't find a library within the area I want to drive to that has a copy of one of the EZ books that have the Baby Surprise Jacket in them. No checking out a book for me, no. I have to Inter-Library Loan a copy. And we all know what kind of nightmares that inspires.


I guess I have to finish a second sleeve on a cardigan instead. I hate my life.

Eating Reese's Pieces at 9:00 am

So, this weekend we learned a very interesting thing about Laura, something that might be a doctor's office worthy thing, an oh-no-she's-losing consciousness thing.

Jen, you and I have discussed the randomly passing out affliction we have both suffered in our lives, and how it does go away, and how it's totally inexplicable (unless you just say we need sugar, which kind of makes sense, but I don't pass out every time I need to eat something).

For both of us, it kind of went away, right?

On Saturday, after an evening of actual exercise (I took a long walk that involved my falling into a hole, a fact hardly noticable to the single onlooker). Exercise was painful. I don't like it. I woke up, took ibuprofen to handle the pain from the fall (I'm serious), and then put the heating pad on the joint that took the brunt of the shock (dead serious, this really hurt).

I poured myself a glass of milk for the painkiller. But that was as far as I got. I curled back up into bed and watched an episode of Gilmore Girls, because that was what was most likely to distract me from my hip and the fact that someone (me) thought it would be a good idea not to fall into oncoming traffic at night, therefore forcing it to take on responsibility for all my body weight. And it hurt (I'm still being serious).

I hate exercise.

But Mom and Paul wanted to go to Kokomo, and I thought it would be a good idea to go with them, so I tried to make myself presentable, and we left.

Paul was driving, but he didn't really know the way Mom was telling him to go, so we got a bit turned around. We made fun of him, recounting the famous incident during the year when he had his permit and was learning to drive. Paul was turning out of the bank or McDonald's or something with the intention of going toward downtown Wabash. Mom said to him, "Turn into the far lane." For most of us, this would mean getting in the left lane going in the direction we all intended to go. For Paul, this meant turning literally into the far lane, while still going in the direction previously decided upon. So, Paul turned and drove the wrong way, as if to hit the oncoming pickup truck head-on. It was a driver's ed game of Chicken, and I actually screamed. It was a great help.

As we made it to 24, our story had ended. However, Paul still pulled through the intersection to the middle part where you yield. Then he put on his turn signal. He was planning to go the wrong way again, this time on a four lane highway, with a hill right in front of us so we couldn't see the car about to slam into ours at 60 mph.

We stopped him. Still, that was pretty freaky. How many other times has Paul done this? Was he driving my car at the time? Because...that kind of accident in the Honda would kill you and leave the other driver completely unaware that they'd been in an accident.

After that, I started to feel sleepy. Then I started to think it was too hard to talk, so I went quiet. And Paul wove through the countryside back to 24 to head in the right direction, and I stopped answering people when they asked me questions, because thinking was really hard and making decisions was impossible.

Apparently, I went pale and they all became worried. They gave me food, and I was forced to get up and go into the restaurant. Also, I had to order.

Just to give you an idea as to how freaky it got (I was fine, the others were the ones freaking out), I knew I needed sugar, but I couldn't get it myself because my arms were so heavy. Paul got my drink and he put it down on the table next to mine. But I couldn't bring myself to pick it up. So I sat there until he realized what was going on and gave me my drink.

When I perked up a bit, I convinced my family that I didn't need to be taken right home and put into bed. And I was fine for the rest of the day.

Hypoglycemia? Maybe? Yeah. I think so.

Mom thinks this is a terrifying medical condition. But really, I am this way normally. The only difference was the exercise. I have to eat tons more in order to exercise. And I still lose weight. I just need more fuel ready for consumption than some people. I convinced her I didn't really need to go to the hospital.

My friends will tell you how testy I get when I need food. And usually, I have a Sweet Tea and it isn't important. But apparently, Mom and Paul have been away from me long enough not to remember some of the funny from when I was in junior high and high school.

Too bad for them. It got pretty funny.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I don't know if this will work at all, but here goes, and the reason I have a check for lots of money in my purse and have locked the office door

(for once)

That little thing up there should be part of the title but I just found out there's a limit to how long your title can be.

Which sucks.

It totally ruins the effect I was going for. My rambling, crazy girl thing is ruined.

You should listen to the song "Book 8" with this thing:


I've been watching tons of Brotherhood 2.0 videos on YouTube since the conference where I met John Green. It seems that I (with my dial-up misery) missed out on all the fun back when I didn't have access to...well...anything.

I don't know if that thing works. I hope it does.

Anyway, Hank Green (John's brother) also writes songs and sings them with his guitar. They are funny, funny songs, especially if they're about something I feel strongly about, like the horror that was the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Don't people know how to end things? I think that would be easier than keeping them going...am I right? Oh, and NERDFIGHTERS! Look it up.

Also, I went to the bank after Mom had a slight meltdown involving her desire for me to leave work spontaneously to do various tasks and my insistence that I needed to stay and read stories to children, in order to prevent my being fired for leaving work and not reading to small children when am supposed to.

At the bank, I picked up a check for the car that I will get out of my hands as soon as possible, because my car guy was really sweet to let me drive the new car around for a week without paying him anything. Wasn't he sweet? I think he figured that if I didn't have a car I wouldn't be able to earn the money to pay him for the car he wanted me to buy from him...so it was in his best interest. Still, I am happy.

But the check sitting in a copy of Libyrinth in the office has me a bit worried, since people come in here and try to rob us all the time. So I have locked the office door for the first time in...ever? See, usually they try to rob the upstairs. They have money. We have security cameras.

Have good weekends! I will try to do the same.

Update on the working of the thing: It said it wouldn't work, it insisted it wouldn't work, and I posted it with the intent to give you all a laugh at it's not working and then IT DID! Play the second song, the first won't be funny if you don't know why it's supposed to be and you might not. The second song..."Book 8"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The Honda's keys have left my possession.

That saga is now over. The saga of the Taurus has now officially begun.

But the sigh up there exists merely because I have now said goodbye to all of my college stickers from commuting, all the bumper stickers I have ammassed, and the hand of my little cell phone man that was magnetically connected to his body, and flew off during an accident (the deer) never to be seen again.

Does anyone know a cool place to go on the internet to find silly car notions? Like stuff for grown-ups who are still kids and will always stay that way barring horrific personal trauma of some kind that causes them to lose faith in the world and the people in it?

And James, what site do you use to make all that great choir stuff? Because Mom and I now have (almost) matching cars and that is just too hilarious not to make reference to with some kind of bumper sticker...Really.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do you think anyone would blame me?

There are things I can take, and things I can't take. And right now, it is the 15 middle-school boys that are wrecking havoc on my library. They are evil, evil boys and I want to end them...end them all.

But in a totally non-violent way.

Is that okay?

The Mosquitoes, Vehicular Manslaughter, Bloodborne Pathogens, My Psychic Abilities, and Some Goodbyes

Last night, Mom and I drove to North Manchester to clean out the Honda. I wanted her to come along so that we could make a thing of it. I wanted moral support, for someone to continue to tell me that I was doing the right thing. That it was okay for the Honda to go, for that chapter of my life to close. I wanted peace of mind, and I didn't want to end my evening hugging the water-stained driver's seat of my sad little car, unwilling to say goodbye.

But, as with most things pertaining to the Honda, things did not work out as planned.

In a totally related manner, I am covered from head to toe with at least twenty mosquito bites. My ear itches.

The Honda was next-door to my car guy's house, which is where he used to fix cars before he got the place next to Dairy Queen. Apparently, Next Door Guy does serious engine repair, like putting in a new one (almost what the Honda needs). I drove my shiny "new" car to my car guy's, never once seeing the Honda. But I did see a super-long lane, and I thought that might be the turn he warned me about.

I turned around at Timbercrest. Then, we tried the lane. We drove, and drove, and passed all the other houses and then their backyards, and kept going, and going, and the fields behind the other houses, and kept going, and going, and going, and then the lane turned, and we kept going, and going, and going, and then we saw a house. We got closer, closer, closer, and we saw the Honda, and then we saw three signs.

The first sign said, "Beware of Dog."

The second sign said, "Beware of Dog."

The third sign said--you guessed it--"Beware of Dog."

And there were at least five of them. Plus puppies, in a little enclosure. Dogs, circling the car, barking madly. There were tall dogs, short dogs, fat dogs, recently pregnant dogs. One dog even had blue eyes. And not a single one of them wanted us there.

So we sat in the car. And while we sat, I noticed something.

It wasn't how shabby the Honda looked now that I've a different car. It wasn't how freaky the dogs were acting, or how horrific it was to be that far from humanity, in a scene cut from that movie, Deliverance. It was the air around the car.

And it was an unusual spectacle, the air. It seemed to shimmer, almost boiling with insects.

I spotted several different species. But all were mosquitoes. Landing on the car, buzzing around, flying through the air, all trying to get in, or so it seemed.

I should have turned around right then.

But that was when the home-owner came out. He was set upon by the hordes of mosquitoes, they descended upon him. I was surprised he was able to walk. I was surprised he had not yet succumed to fatal anemia.

He called off the dogs. We left the car.

And that was when they hit us. We could not slap hard enough, fast enough, to get them all. They bit our arms, our heads, our faces, our legs, our knees, our ankles, our hands.

I popped the Honda's trunk and lept inside the car while Mom heaved the contents of the trunk into the trunk of the Taurus indiscriminately. Gone was our plan to neatly sort out what should be kept, what should be thrown away. It vanished with the coming plague.

At least ten mosquitoes were trapped in the car with me. I killed as many as I could, smashing them against the windows of the car, against my hands. I killed one on the dashboard. There was death all over the inside of that car. Death everywhere. And I felt nothing. Only the thrill that comes with one's flight instinct.

I grabbed my garage door opener, my Harry Potter wand/pen, some yarn, some CDs. I ripped the CD player out and put in the old tape deck (no one cared), and I kept slamming the doors after Mom threw them open and left them that way. I wanted no more mosquitoes to be left in.

Finally, we decided it was time to retreat. I didn't check to make sure we had everything. I assumed the car guys would call. We lept into the Taurus and drove as quickly as we could down the rough-graveled road, killing the remaining mosquitoes as we went.

When we reached the main road, we started talking.

"That place was the mouth of Hell," I proclaimed, slapping the bugs. "You saw the incubi--I bet the dogs were Hell Hounds."

"All those dogs," Mom shook her head. "And they couldn't afford to have them fixed."

"Those mosquitoes gave us malaria. They gave us West Nile and SARS and Yellow Fever. It's no wonder Indiana was a hot spot for blood borne diseases before people knew mosquitoes carried them. That place was Hell on Earth."

"How can those people stand it?"

"And they must be breeding somewhere...doesn't anyone ever think of throwing fill dirt into a pool of stagnant water? That place is evil."

"I should have made you turn around when the lane was that long."

"I should have had the car guys bring the Honda to the dealership place."


Then I looked at my mother. She was pale, the horror of what we had just been through had shocked her. I remembered England, collapsing in youth hostels with her, getting lost in Canterbury; I remembered Canterbury West, the train station...and all that we saw there (smelled there). I remembered the prostitute outside Paddington Station in London, who had begged a passing man for cigarrettes so long that he threw her a pack of them. She caught them, pulled one out, ripped off the filter and then smoked it, still calling after him. For something else.

The things, I thought, that happen to the two of us when we're together...

"Mom?" I said. "Feel like some ice cream?"

We killed mosquitoes all the way to Dairy Queen. Then we ordered, sat down, and let the shock wear off. And the bites began to swell. I was so sure we had malaria, or at least West Nile, by then. But I didn't tell Mom. She looked like she'd been through enough.

We started to laugh about it. That's what always follows for us. The laughter.

"I pulled out the ashtray," I said. I keep change in the--kept change in the Honda's ashtray. "And I wanted to put it somewhere, but there wasn't anywhere. So I dumped it in the Taurus' trunk. I'm going to have pennies in there for the rest of the time I have that car. Seriously."

"I was just hurling things in there," Mom replied. "I don't even know what you had."

"Coats," I mused. "Lots of coats. And some Dr. Who books someone gave me because they felt bad throwing them away."

"What will you do with those?"

"Throw them away."

We drove home. And on the way, I heard that Dirty Dancing song that Patrick Swayze sang.

Mom and I then discussed his illness, that type of cancer, and its prognosis. We both knew how bad it could be, how bad it can be, how bad it was for people we'd known of before. I told Mom that he'd been fighting it for a long time, and that was out of the ordinary. But, I mentioned, he didn't look at all well. We discussed it for some time. Then we talked about Kanye West and what it means to be a jerk.

When I went home, I fell asleep and dreamed of making Interlibrary Loan Requests, getting the books (they were for me) and then forgetting about them, finally finding they were terribly overdue.

Today, I learned that Patrick Swayze has died. Kanye West's debacle was on the front page of the newspaper. I also made some ILL requests.

So...that's pretty freaky. And it isn't the first time something like that has happened. I mean, it's hindsight bias for sure. But it's hard to ignore standing up and saying to my family, "The phone is about to ring." And then hearing the phone ring.

On that note, I will say goodbye to my dear, departed, fuel-efficient Honda. Oh, glorious Honda. I spent so little on you, and you gave me so much. So many trips to Walmart, so many visits to LYSs, so many classes, so many spilled drinks. I remember the time you dropped your muffler on my graduation day, in celebration. I thought my friends had tied cans to my bumper. But no, it was you. Showing your love to me.

I remember the day the deer lept onto your hood, kicking the windshield in on my face. Your engine kept going, without any problems. I fixed the windshield, and you kept on going.

And we were together, for ages. For so many years...it was fantastic...wonderful. And I will miss you. Even though I know it was time to say goodbye. I will miss you.

Thank you, for staying with me, for keeping it together just long enough for me to be able to change to a new car. You held on. And you could have given in. Everyone expected you to. But I knew better. I know better.

Goodbye, Honda. Peace be with you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Car Update

Today is an exciting day. Firstly, this is the first day that I have driven to work...in my new car. Last night, I picked it up from the Car Dude, and I was very happy.

Sadly, when I put $15. of gas n the tank, it did not fill it up all the way. It didn't even give me a half tank. This is sad. Because the Honda used to be full--almost full--on that. This might hurt.

But the glory of a car that not only has cupholders (this is my first car with cupholders) but also remote-start overwhelms the grief at gas prices! I regret that I don't have pictures right now, but it was dark when I got home, so I couldn't take them. It was also sort-of dark when I got here this morning, so no pictures.

Also, I am pretty lazy.

Here is what I must do:
1. Get a wheel thing to replace the one this car has, because it is not so pretty and kind of grungy because mechanics have been driving around in the car with oily hands. They cleaned it, but still. I tried to take it off, but the wheel's surface looks like it's pretty delicate and not-so-nice. I need a cover. Badly.

2. Go by the bank to continue the stress of financial arrangements. This will not be my bank, because they were planning on giving me an 18-21% interest rate, and no thank you. I mean...ouch.

3. Clean out the Honda, removing six or so years of wreckage from my life, including books, one skein of yarn, CD's, and money from the ash tray. And the rainbow umberella that made my college years so much more interesting.

4. Stop freaking out about letting the Honda go. And getting the new car, which doesn't have a name or nickname yet. And that's sad.

5. Really, I've got to stop the freaking out thing. This is getting ridiculous. I am doing the right thing. The Right Thing.

Okay. Deep breath...fine. I'm done now.

In other news, here is something I think is wrong with the world:

Do people not think that copy editing their novel is a good thing? Do people not thing editing is good, necessary, and wise?

I mean, say I decide to self-publish a future novel. I will have to invest some serious money to do this--or, to do this right. Or, I could crap out and be cheap, make the whole thing myself and then just send it over the internet with the hope that something terrible might not happen.

I can understand how option one might not be the most fun. It gets expensive. But, here's the thing...if I am self-publishing, I assume I am doing this because I want to be published. I want my novel out there in the world, for other people to read. So, I do this with the hope that someone out there will pick up my book and say: "This thing ought to be making this girl big money, or at least readily available at my local Barnes and Nobles."

Then, the person would contact me, because I would have contact info in the book, as all smart self-publishers do. They would say, "Hey, I think I can sell this book," and I would laugh because I would have already tried.

Envision the alternative...I run my book off on a copy machine at my local Office Max, then paste a cover over it. Or I pay someone else to do that. No one checks for misspellings, freakish grammar problems, or typos. Then, that same guy who liked my book in the other story picks up this version of the same novel. Then they say, "Ugh! This thing has four glaring errors in the first two pages! This is horrible!" and they put it down without reading the whole thing, because they are completly grossed out by grammar problems, like I am.

Bearing in mind that I write this blog in the same manner in which I speak, not as if I am intelligent or even well-educated in the English language, I can write well.

Even I know, though, that you can't just throw a book out into the world with it looking like a third grader wrote it. You need to pay attention to how you are presenting your novel to the people you really hope will pick it up and read it, someday.

And those people might be a huge mob of rabid teenagers dripping with hormones, or they might be just my friends and my family (who don't love me enough to read this blog; they love me, just not enough for this...sigh).

So I didn't let them put that book, the one I looked at with the four glaring errors in the first two pages, in the YA section. If adult wants it, they can have it. But it's like...fifty pages long, and two of them have mistakes...? No.

Now, all I have to do is get the bad taste out of my mouth that reading bad writing gave me. Ugh.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I mean it...

I wanna go get my new CAAAAAAAARRRRRR!

That was a whine. Or whinge, if you are British, or me. Me because some of my favorite words are usually, for me, red when I hit the spell check button because in the USA it's "favorite" not "favourite", "gray" not "grey", and "color" not "colour".

It just looks wrong the way you folk do it here. I wish I could just ignore the difference and write them the way I want to, but I used to get them marked off on essays for that kind of thing, so I fix them. It's sad.

Grey just looks right to me. The colour grey. It's one of my favourite colours, grey.

I'm done now.

But I want my new car!


Is it so wrong that I don't want to be at work right now but in North Manchester picking up my car?

I don't want to be here.

I want to be taking all my stuff out of the Honda, loading it into the trunk of my new car, and then driving home where 90% of that stuff will be disposed of. Then I want to go and have fun somewhere. Because I have a new car. Soon. I will have.


Is there anybody out there?

Lots of people have this belief that libraries are haunted. Almost every library has this kind of superstitious nonsense attatched to it, which I think has more to do with the terror of reading that so many people possess than actual spirits roaming the halls.

This being said, I once worked in a library with that kind of rumor, which (if I were the kind of person who believed in this sort of thing) actually had a pretty compelling story.

See, in the MC library where I used to work, the elevator had this freaky thing that it did. It would take you from the first floor to the second. It would take you from the second to the basement, and the basement to the second, and the basement to the first.

But it did not want to take you from the first floor to the basement.

I got in the habit of talking to the elevator, encouraging it to move down when I stood in it, waiting for something to happen. I used to say, "You can do it, little elevator, it's all okay!" As well as many, many other nonsensical things that I say when I think no one else is listening.

And, more often than not, it did the trick. Soothing the elevator, making sure it knew there was no pressure, that made it move.

Then, after I'd worked there almost a full year, I was sitting in the Lounge and talking with some friends, one of whom was Jen, and of course Becky was there too, because that was back when the three of us did everything together.

Becky worked for The Oak Leaves, our appallingly bad college newspaper, which I can say because I worked for it too.

She had been working on a story about hauntings at the college, and had researched one at the library because, "this guy was fixing it, and it came down on top of him and killed him."


My librarians explained it a little better, I think because Becky wanted me to actually read her story and not just get the Cliff's Notes version from her. The facts are as follows: 1. an elevator guy was installing the elevator, as they do 2. the elevator started moving and 3. it went from the first floor to the basement, where he stood in the shaft and 4. it crushed him and 5. he died.

Not only is that a very sad story, it was also pretty freaky to me, because the elevator never wanted to go from the first floor to the basement. Given what had happened, and the already-rumored haunting of the library, made me think for just a moment that maybe there was a reason for all the rumors.

I say all this because it is 8:15 am and as of this point, it looks like I'm the only one who bothered to show up for work today. I know everyone else will come at some point, that usually is the way things work, but this whole deal is enough for me to sit down here in the basement listening to all the noises hundred-and-some-year-old buildings make, and think, "hmm...did it make that noise before?"

Which is why that show Ghost Hunters is so darn good. It happens to all of us.

I'm pretty sure no one has died in this building though, at least not yet.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ouch, and a decision

Jennifer kindly responded to my post as of last night, and I just now drug my sorry...to a computer so that I could read what she had said.

And, wow. Gee, that was pretty harsh. Way to sheild my feelings, Jen. Way to cushion the blow. Way to make me feel like it was all going to be okay.

Didn't you read it, folks? Here is what she wrote:

Frankly, you would be insane to fix that old car. And I would tell you so, everyday, if you chose to fix it. Bonding with that car was not good. It has let you down on numerous occasions. Face it Laura, your car just doesn't love you anymore! It doesn't deserve you anyway.

And if you do buy a Buick, you'll find out what true love with a car really is!

Also, love is patient, love is kind. Love does not leave you stranded by the side of the road. Love does not rain on you. Love does not blend in with the color of the road and cause other drivers to see you as part of the pavement. Love does not allow Mitch Daniels to almost run you over!!

When I told her on the phone what I had decided: to replace Mr. Honda with a car that doesn't need me to sell my blood plasma to pay for its repairs, her response was "Good!" But not the kind of good where someone asks you, "How was dinner?" And you say, "Good."

It was the kind of good where someone says, "I've decided to break up with my boyfriend, because he's fat, lazy, a drug addict, a cheater, plus he hits me and steals my stuff to sell since he's too diseased to sell his blood plasma."

And then you say, "Good!" As in, "It's about [fill in the blank] time good!"

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have made a decision about the car situation, as I mentioned. I decided pretty much before my last post that the Honda was too bad off to fix. Although it is too bad that I had just filled up the gas tank before it died...

And I knew that I would go through our Car Guru, since he is nice and he goes to our church and I am pretty sure he thinks he would go to hell if he sold the pastor or his family a sucky car. Also because when he sold Mom and Dad their cars, he made sure everything was fixed on them perfectly, and he even fixed some things that we didn't even think were important.

He's a good guy.

So basically, if I buy from that guy, I know I will never have to worry about the car I get, no matter what.

Which is a good deal.

To maximize the good dealage, he is actually willing to knock $200. off the price if I give up the Honda to him. Two hundred dollars for the Honda?! I didn't think it was worth the gas I was putting into it!

And I have decided on the car, and this is where things get funny.

Because they always do.

I went down to his garage/dealership today and visited some cars. When I shop for cars with my family, it always feels a little bit like going to the pound, all these homeless little wet, sad cars looking for good homes, and I have to pick one of them. And how sad is that, to think that some of them might go to people who leave trash in the back seat, and spill beef and mushroom stir-fry all over the passenger seat, and--oh, wait. That's me.

Anyway, we looked at the Buick, which did need a lot of cleaning up, as Dad had warned me. But because of the Honda, I know when a car sucks, and these were the warning signs: eau d'coolant, sticky brakes, a yellow button wired into the horn so that you could push the button and not the horn because the horn didn't work anymore, no AC, and mysterious stains on the seats. Also, an old granny story about the former owner (how far back?) that I doubted due to the state-of-the-art CD player with ALT port. And the horn thing.

No grandma would fix her broken car horn. Or use an i-Pod.

Also, I figured the stains in the backseat area might have come from a human. If you get my drift.

The other car, the Taurus, that we looked at was almost identical to my mother's Taurus in every concievable way. The green/blue ratio in the turquoise color is slightly different, and the interior is tan and not turquoise too, and the New Taurus is actually a bit younger than my mom's and nicer, kind of. It has a fantastic engine, stops on a dime, and has ANTI-LOCK BRAKES! And AC!

And, as an added bonus, no mystery stains or odors.


So we then looked at a Chrystler, which was red, as in red red, the kind you paint sports cars with. Also, it had like, tattoo designs on the windows, and the windows were tinted. And an army of smokers had descended upon it, cigarrettes in hand, to make it a gasoline-powered asthma attack.

And, to make matters even worse, its brakes were the kind you practically have to stand on with all your weight to make the car slow down (watch out, kiddies) and the gas pedal was super touchy--meaning it was easy to go fast, hard to slow down, and red, so cops would notice it.

I hated that car. It was so, totally, not me.

Anyway, we then left Chris or Kris behind with the promise that we would let him know what we decided. And an hour or so later, I had made up my mind.

The Taurus, which is as close to a super-cool businesswoman car that I can afford right now, will be my new car. It will be dependable, it is already in great repair, and I already know all the quirks of driving a Taurus.

So we are going to make all the financial arrangements and make this thing happen, but, in the meantime, because the Car Guys we go through are so awesome, they want me to pick it up after they make it extra shiny, and drive it so that I have a car.

Now I just have to find some kind of super-Laura-esque bumper sticker to put on it.

Since I will have to give up my hampsters one, the Obama/Biden one, clearly the Star Wars one as it is already gone, and, sadly, the one I stuck on for Paul.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Car Dilemma, That is Not Quite a Dilemma at All

Many of you have followed my many posts through the past years regarding the condition of my 1991 Honda Civic sedan, pavement gray.

Those of you who have not, I apologize to you and request that you go back through the archives and try to find some of these posts which I would link you to right now but can't because I'm technically working right now, and this is a circ desk computer with Internet Explorer from 3 upgrades back. Internet Explorer 5...?

My Honda leaks when it rains from an as-yet-undiscovered hole in an as-yet-undiscovered place. Right over the driver's seat. It was once smashed by a deer, and looks like an elephant sat on it.

I knew the lifetime of my car was growing short when my "My other transport is the Millenium Falcon" bumper sticker peeled off.

I mean, that is completely symbolic. That was like the car telling me that it was the Millenium Falcon, and that other transport was some other Corellian Light Freighter or something. My car was the thing at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back that makes that starting up sound with the dying sound right after it. That's bad junk, yo.

At the moment, the car needs a distributor something. That is $350.00 plus labor. Plus the new muffler, plus it needs new tires as the ones I have right now are bald and need replaced.

I don't know the math on that. But I am guessing it would be maybe around $1000.00 to fix my car and make it live on for another 20,000 miles, at which point it would have 200,000 miles. Which would be cool.

But the coolness of that becomes less cool when I consider the fact that I could end up with one of two cars with far less mileage and working motors and perhaps air conditioning for about $2,000.00 which is a lot but still less than college-loan range.

Now, from a math standpoint, if you consider the life expectancy of my Honda, and the fact that if you purchase a version of my Honda in pristine condition at KBB Value, it would be around $2,000.00, and mine is worth much much less, and that my "car might not even make it 6 weeks with the repairs mentioned above" according to Repair Shop Guy, there really isn't much of a choice.

Meaning, I have two options.

1. Buick Skylark of unknown age and color and well...anything...price: $1,800.

2. Ford Taurus just like my mom's but two years newer, and brighter and prettier according to my dad who apparently has been scoping cars without my knowledge or presence: $2,000.

I think I know where Jen stands on this issue, I think, as she is a big fan of her Buick. Also, I can see the appeal of having a car that is not identical to my mother's in every way, as we live in the same house and there might be some confusing moments, albeit hilarious ones.

I don't know what it will be like for me to have my primary source of comedy (excluding myself and my freakish deformities) removed from my life, perhaps forever.

Not that I don't think the new car might be nice. It would be, although there would be payments and insurance and probably more money to spend on gas than before.

It just might not have the same kind of character as the Honda has right now.


Okay, I am opening this thing up for opinions: what should I do, gentle readers? Go down to the comment section and decide once and for all:

Should Laura (a) get a new car, hang the expense or (b) fix the old one and revel in cheap gas and no car payment?

Wow, what a jerk.

I used to love watching politics on television, but the whole thing changed during President George W. Bush's two terms in office.

I would watch speeches, listen to press releases and news stories, and observe Donald Rumsfeld, who my gran referred to as "Smilin' Joe" with rapidly increasing frustration. And sure, I'd get angry. I would talk about how sad it was that we ended up with an idiot with an idiot squad, elected to lead our country.

See, I did not like the man. But if I had ever seen President Bush, I would have held my tongue, shaken his hand, and been as polite as I could be, because like it or not, he was the president, and you respect the office even if you don't respect the man.

Now we have a president I love. He is amazingly cool, he works hard on everything that comes across his desk, and he really tries to listen to people who disagree with him as well as people who agree. This is evidenced by the health care debate as well as a staggering list of other topics.

When I came home from work last night, it was just in time to listen to some freak heckle the president, calling him a liar on national television, as well as in front of leaders from both parties.

That was a bad, bad move. Not only did he show himself to be a freak of nature, he also polarized both sides of the aisle--against him! People booed him, which he deserved, but that's the least of his worries. Now the world knows him for what he is. A psycho.

Agree with the health care plan or not, there is a thing called basic respect that that guy totally doesn't get. And while I would love to point out everything that he did wrong and is doing wrong, I'm not going to because I found an article that says it so much better than I could when I'm still mad at it and without a vast amount of research into this man's life and history in politics--an effort I don't want to expend right now.

So--read this. And tell me what you think...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

At Work Again

We now have a picture of the kid who was looking at the dirty images. Now I will be able to use my evil librarian prowess to defeat him in his act of exhibitionist perversion, banning him from our computers for life!

Or, at least I will feel like only some of our kids are perverse, not all. But middle school boys...you know how it is. The few that are already into girls are really into girls, and they get pretty terrible about this sort of thing. I remember in junior high and high school, these were the guys with the almost-naked-but-not-quite pictures of girls in their lockers.

I always thought that it would have been totally within the rights of our administration to take those pictures down, since they might not have been intended as sexual harassment, but they were (are). This would normally be the place where I would start a rant about why that qualifies as sexual harassment, but I'm repressing the urge right now. I can repress the urge.


That right there proves that I don't have to rant.

Now, the reason why that is, in my view, considered sexual harassment, is that pictures of naked or near-naked women (or men) creates a sexually charged environment: i.e. women are placed in a locale with men lusting after them and they know it. Also, women are then keenly aware that they exist as an object of that desire within that particular location. So, if the kid next to me has a picture of a near-naked girl, which he did, I would know that might think of me or any other number of girls in the building solely as an object of lust.

Which is gross. And it made me avoid that kid like the plague, as well as my locker which was too close to his for comfort. He was gross, too.

So I did what any self-respecting girl would do. I got a hall pass, opened his unlocked locker, and took out the picture. Then I ripped it up and flushed it before returning to class.

I was quite pleased with myself.

It was quite freeing. My motto in high school was to never involve our messed-up administration with anything I could handle myself in a covert way. That gave me certain permissions to do things I, as a good girl, would never have done otherwise. Like removing someones personal property from their locker. Because of this, I also ended up with a group of class-skipping people who knew about my quest for justice (due to witnessing one of my stealth trips to this kids locker as this happened a couple of times). They thought it was hilarious and were impressed enough to actually learn my name and talk to me from time to time.

I was very shy in high school. Most people now don't remember me being there at all.

That guy never did figure out what was happening. He wasn't all that smart. Popular, though. He thought some of his friends were doing it. He would yell at them, and swear, and I would just be there getting out my band stuff, and no one ever was the wiser.

But it wasn't like he wouldn't have gotten caught with them eventually. See, I was pretty sure he kept pot in there too. Kind of makes me wish I'd turned him in for the picture. It would have all ended a lot funnier that way.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Valid Excuse

Self deprecating humor is really my best. No one can get made fun of and stand up to it quite as much as me, when I'm the one laying on the abuse. Now, the funniest days are the ones when the universe decides to join in, throwing me incident after incident of hilarity disguised as freaky perverts, Yugioh players and their accompanying noises, mosquitoes, and my car. God bless my car.

And the stranger's driveway it's sitting in.

I should start at the beginning, but instead I'm going to begin with a general apology to all the Coffee D'Vine knit-night ladies, especially Ashley and Rachael, who really thought I was going to be there tonight. I thought so too, girls.

I really thought the muffler would go first. There's a hole in that thing as big as my fist, and it's hanging on by the wire the tire guy used to string it up. Seriously.

Now, you all heard my semi-public breakdown earlier today, and many of you found it to be perhaps amusing, perhaps a little frightening, or just plain weird. Yes, stream of consciousness can be weird sometimes, and I promise that being trapped in my head is just as freaky as what you read.

I know. Sad, really.

When you boil it down, it was just a dude and his two kids (though they might not be his) and their mom (though they might not have been hers), his wife/girlfriend/fiance/common-law wife/weekend fling. They came, they played on the computer, and they left. Fortunately, I was able to conceal my freak-out with extreme indifference.

I worked at Walmart; I know indifference.

To really capture it, you have to be able to turn off your brain at will, then stare blankly at something or someone until whatever it is decides to spring back onto the shelf or spring off of the shelf or walk away and leave you alone, depending on the circumstances. It helps just to not care at all at that point. Which I didn't--summer job.

Man. Paul's keyboard is pretty freaky.

Just saying.

Anyway, I came back from lunch and they were gone. But while I was at lunch, which, by the way, was free, it had rained like crazy. This flooded my car, somewhat. It also killed the digital something-or-other that allowed the Pizza Hut internet to work, and thereby permitting them to accept debit cards. And to watch TV.

So the manager, who talks to me at lunch sometimes because I am always in there alone and with a different book, just said, "It's on me today," and then sent me on my way. This, I thought, was good karma delivered upon me due to my resistance to the temptation to pull out cleaning chemicals and spray them in the eyes of the Gas Station Letch.

I arrived at work and remembered to tell Nancy something I hadn't mentioned before because of Gas Station Letch and his Legion of Darkness (family...?).

See, I had come in to work this morning and pulled open a roll of paper with an illegible note scribbled on it, from April, one of my co-workers. She has penmanship issues. Sorry, April. It's true. Not even you could decipher that note you left me the other day.

And what was concealed within that roll of paper was porn. Yes, porn, mercifully a scantily-clad (meaning not clad at all) girl was all that was on the front page, because anything else would have been enough to send me running for the hot glue gun and my own demise (I swear that thing's going to kill me some day). It's like Donna says on That 70's Show: "I see that every day."

Well, I hurriedly rolled the tube back up, dropped it on the table where it had been before, and then--I'm not joking--I washed my hands. It comes from being raised in a very Brethren way by a very legalistic man I like to call Dad. See, sin rubs off on your hands, and if you pray and wash them, it comes off.

Not really. That's just what I used to think when I was a kid.

This morning, I was thinking: "Dear goodness, I wonder who has touched this before me, and what he was touching before April took this away from him..." And I compulsively washed my hands.

You would have too.

I told Nancy and she went back and examined it, found out what website it came from--another blogging site--and that we couldn't block it. Then she said, "I wonder if it's on the security camera?" Because the security camera captures things like me falling down stairs, tripping over chairs, dropping books, and counting on my fingers. It also catches people stealing and downloading porn. In the CHILDREN'S ROOM.

Nothing is sacred to people without computers of their own.

After that school let out, and the noise came, descending upon us in endless waves. I yelled, I yelled, and I threatened. Then I sent a kid packing. He was the main source of trouble.

Then I went home, after checking Facebook to kill time--because I never do that--and finding out that Andy had asked me a question maybe a month ago that I never answered due to extreme Facebook-related laziness. Facebook and dial-up don't get along, so I don't really bother unless I'm bored and working with Erin.

Then we play with Flair.

This post was going somewhere--and so was I. I went to Walmart, bought Season 3 of Criminal Minds to make myself feel better and Tylenol PM so I could sleep for more than 4 hours tonight.

Then I got Sweet Tea. It gets capitalized 'cuz it's yummy.

Then I went home.

Except...I got only to the spot right after that Swine Health clinic place that got converted to the storage facility about a week ago. Then, suddenly, my engine stopped engineing, and I drifted slowly to a stop.

I put my hazard lights on.

I tried to start the car again (nope).

I called home. Dad picked up. "I need to be rescued," I said. I then detailed my location. Then Dad told me he was in North Manchester.

"But how did you answer the house phone, then?" I asked.

"I didn't," he replied. "I answered my cell phone."

"Oh," I said. "Okay, then. I'll try this again."

Our home phone was busy. That was when I realized why I probably called Dad subconsciously. No one ever answers the house phone so I've stopped calling it.

Meanwhile, mosquitoes of varying size had meandered into my car and were stinging me.

I told Paul to come save me. He said, "All right, yeah."

A mosquito stung me above the eye. A woman stopped, she lived across the street, and she told me she'd get her husband. She came out with two daughters, and we tried to move the car. But the wheel wouldn't move.

A farmer stopped. He told me I should put my key in the ignition.

It worked. The wheel moved. And he and the husband (who had come outside while his wife, daughters, and I pushed the car in a straight line) shoved my car while I turned the wheel, until we ended up in his driveway.

Mom, who had pulled into the driveway just in time for us to have to change our trajectory to avoid her, came out and told me to gather my things. I did so, while she talked to the man and the farmer. I filled my arms with all the books I have amassed during the last week, and then my coat (super cute--I'll show it off sometime) and my bag. And the sweet tea, Pizza Hut leftovers, and the bag with the DVD season and Tylenol. That was a lot.

"I don't know what it was," I said. "It just kind of died."

"Maybe it was this bumper sticker that did it," the farmer replied, pointing to my Obama/Biden '09 bumper sticker, which unlike the Millenium Falcon one, is still securely fastened to my vehicle's posterior.

"No, I think that would have made my car go further," I replied with a smile. He laughed. We used to go to church together, after all.

The farmer left. The husband yelled, "Thanks for the help, even if you are a Republican!"

I do not kid.

And just a moment ago, we drove back to try the car again, to no avail.

It's going to be out of commission for a while. I'm just glad I bought and opened the DVD before this happened, because now I can't take it back. So I can't be responsible! I get a "Get Out of Responsibility Free" card!

Those are the best kind.

I missed you tonight, ladies. Hope you had fun!

The Number One Reason Why Working in a Public Place Sucks

Okay. Okay. I am not going to freak out or run away.

This is what is happening right now.

The guy who was horrible. The one at the gas station? He just brought his kids into the library.

The first thing he did was compliment my appearance. Politely, this time, but it doesn't matter, because I know what he's really thinking.

So now his kids are on the computer. And guess what?

I'm alone down here.

Sigh. Mercifully, the piece of work just took his crying child outside and left the other one with the wife/girlfriend who I'll bet has no clue that he did what he did the other day. Or she does and is cool with it. Like that woman who's husband/fiance/baby-daddy likes to check out random girls and ask them out in front of her, the one the upstairs people always tell me about! Is he Baseball-Cap Guy?

Oh, God.

So my theory that he's unemployed is looking pretty accurate, right now. Although I guess he could work nights. But how could he and his kids mom both work nights without problems? Because she's down here now.

But here's the big thing. When he walked in here, with those kids, it triggered a memory:

It is summer. A guy (the guy) walks in with his kids and asks if they can use the computer, which I say they may.

Then he goes off about how horrible our director was to him upstairs, calling him for everything, and I have to tell him not to use that kind of language in the Children's Room. Then he apologized.

And that was when he told me I was pretty, in front of the lady who is/was/may someday be his live-in girlfriend/fiance/wife.

Maybe this is they guy from upstairs they keep telling me about. The guy who asks them out in front of whoever-she-is! Maybe it is!

If I don't make it home today, it's because he knows where I work on top of knowing what kind of car I drive.

If I don't make it home today, it's because the family had a Fun Day involving sadism and my mutilation/corpse disposal. Oh, God.

Please make him be "normal" for the next twenty minutes!

Okay. I'm freaking out. This was not the way I wanted to wake up this morning. This was not the way. No. It wasn't.

Dear Lord.

Jennifer, why does this kind of crap happen to me? I don't know why this is a question I ask you, or why I think you might have the answer.

Am I cursed? Anyone can answer that one. Seriously. This is so not the kind of thing that would happen to Paul. Or anybody else, for that matter.

Is it?

I'm freaked. Fully freaked. When will they leave? I can't ask them to, they're being nice and quiet and all that, and I can't very well kick the kids out for something their dad did to someone who he didn't know--I know he didn't recognize me. Probably because this is the first time he's looked at my face.

Calming down. He didn't recognize me. He would have recognized me. He would have. And he was brazen enough to speak out before; he would have mentioned it now, unless he knew I would have called our director down here and hid behind him while he sent that guy packing. Our director can be loud, when he wants to be.

I will survive this. I will pretend that they are not here. I will type furiously on this keyboard and pretend that they are gone, far away from me. Far away. Like, on another planet. I will forget that he is yelling at his just-talking kid because he doesn't know how to play the computer game yet, and is asking for help.

I will pretend that this day is still boring, or at least normal.

Ten minutes left.

I'm taking bets. Will I make it? Will I?

Dear, dear Lord.

I got the book my dad wanted. I went upstairs earlier and now it is sitting next to me. The book is red. But not read. Ha, ha! Get it? So funny....except for all the other stuff that's happening. That isn't, and the book thing wasn't enough of a distraction.

It wasn't, and it isn't. But I have to play normal, because if I don't and he puts two and two together, he will remember the incident and will connect me with the gas station. Doing that, he will then know where I work, the car I drive, etc.

And he could be a murderer.

He really could.

Anyone could be. I watch television.

Fine, he's not. But that doesn't mean he won't become one at some point. Anyone can become a murderer. And if he's as unbalanced as I think he is while I'm stuck in a room with him, well, then he's well on his way, right?




Seven minutes until Nancy gets here. Seven minutes. Soon she will come through the door, maybe with her blue umbrella with the happy faces on it, holding books, perhaps, and she will say, "Hello Laura," or "Good Morning, Laura," like she does every time she comes in when I'm already here.

It will be normal, an average meeting the likes of which happen every day around here.

THANK GOD. Our director, who I previously thought was in the building apparently wasn't after all. But now he is. Now he is, and if I have to run screaming up the stairs I can, even though I know I won't. If freaky stuff goes down, I will call upstairs and have our director come down.

This will be difficult for me, as I want as much distance as possible between me and this thing an objective onlooker would call a "man". But I would do it because this is my turf.

Four minutes.

I can make it. Together, you and I, we will make it through all of this, and later on in the--three minutes--day, you will read this and say, "Darn, Laura, that was some freaky stuff you had to live through last week and now today."

And I will say something like, "You're dead right," and I will be all serious because it hasn't had time to become funny or even--two minutes--not weird or gross just to think about.

It will get to that place, if he stops coming in here. It will get to the place where I can say, "Whatever, that was a long time ago," and not freak out. Like I am now.

One minute.

And what if Nancy doesn't get here on time? Sometimes people have to put gas in their gas tanks and stuff. Sometimes dogs are sick on rugs (does Nancy have a dog?) and people have to stay home and clean it up before they leave for work.

Speaking of dogs, I brushed Darcy last night and now she's all fluffy and pretty. You wouldn't have known how not-fluffy she was before then. She looked fluffy. But it was not her full fluff-potential.

Okay, Nancy is officially a minute late. Late for work while I have a serial killer, or at least an obsessive type personality with a rage--she's here!

I'm free!

See you later, folks. I lived. Thanks for the moral support.

What Laura Did to Stay Conscious at Work:

1) She signed up for NaNoWriMo, and beginning in November, she will begin her challenge.

2) She shelved all the books that came in over the long weekend, then made the shelves they went on look pretty and neat.

3) She drank an orange juice, regretting her sleepless night.

4) She watched several YouTube videos sent to her by her brother, including one with a man who waved his arms freakishly in a manner she cannot accurately describe, while making some kind of noise best transcribed as "EEEEAAAAUUUUUAAAAHHHH". Despite herself, she found this rather amusing.

5) She talked to Mark about his alpacas while he cleaned books.

6) She read, but was forced to give this up due to encroaching slumber, while regretting her sleepless night some more.

7) She updated the little sidebar thingie with new books, a fancy NaNo badge, other knitting projects that have been added, and so forth.

8) She looked on the internet for updated award lists for YA literature, with the intent to purchase said literature for the library, but there were no new ones.

9) She signed for a package.

10) She tried to get the air to kick on, just once.

11) She helped 5th graders find books to read, checked them out, and checked their old ones back in.

12) She looked for overdue books on the shelves, despite the fact that the paper said overdues are printed on changed color, a development Laura protested. She needs goldenrod paper to wake her up on a Tuesday morning.

13) She regretted her sleepless night. Again.

14) She wished that she was not working alone until 1:00 pm. And regretted the lack of sleep caused by Laundry Fervor, the affliction which causes a burst of adrenaline, which then triggers the doing of laundry, the washing of clothes.

15) She thought about expresso.

16) She thought about knit night.

17) She thought about driving, and about the muffler about to liberate itself from the underbelly of her car.

18) She regretted the loss of her "My Other Transport is the Millenium Falcon" bumpersticker (extreme age caused it to peel off), and resolved to look for some other ones online to fill the void.

19) She pondered Jen's new bumpersticker, which features a staff (right, Jen?) with tons of notes, and the phrase, "If You Can Read This, Thank a Music Teacher."

20) She re-thought her idea for Band Booster T-Shirts, which would feature the slogan: "I'm With the Band." Kind of like those obnoxious teenie-bopper graphic tees with their electric guitar pictures and so forth. Only they would really be with the band, unlike the young folk with their devil music.

21) She wrote a blog and found herself losing consciousness while writinggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg.

22) She vowed to do whatever was necessary to obtain at least six (6) hours of sleep this evening. At least. Since that did not happen last night.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Because I can't talk about this enough.

Tonight, Jen and I ate too much. Big surprise. Afterward, we went to the bookstore, and I did what I ought to have done at my Big Librarian Conference, which was buy all the rest of John Green's novels.

I love that guy's writing. I mean it. Anything he writes, I love. Political rants--fantastic! Humor, wonderful! More novels, please! Oh--and his blog!

Back to the topic at hand.

Did I mention here, that I got to meet John Green? I know I made you link over to the Wabash Teen blog, but really. Did any of you actually go over there? Are you notoriously lazy, like me? Do you see a link and just say, "Whatever, so not clicking that. Dial up will take five hours to load that page anyway...". Apparently in my internet usage, I become very Valley Girl.

I got to meet John Green! It was so fantastic. There was a whole moment where I was sitting at a table with other YA librarians who had all forgotten their cameras--newbs.

I was all set to totally Kinnear John Green. I was going to sit there all surreptitiously Kinnearing him (look here folks--I just figured you might not know that word and edited this post), while I looked like I was staring into space (not at him, I wouldn't stare at a famous author, no way) or reading a book (not his--that would be freaky and I wasn't going for freaky).

But I sucked it up, decided to be brave, and it all ended with John Green's arm around me, though not in a creepy way. In a photography way.

Cannot make you stare at that enough.

And--funny thing! Someone was even braver than me, and was being funny, which I couldn't quite handle just then so it's good he'd looked at my blog (which makes me happy I use spell check) before he met me in person, and they said--wow is this sentence messed up grammatically--no really, they said, "Nice cheesy smile," to him. He said, "I only have one smile."

It was funnier in person.

So now I have all the books, except for the one due out later this year. April, I think. Now I have to check...well, I don't know what the date is, but the title is Will Grayson, Will Grayson and he wrote it with David Levithan (of Nick and Norah fame). Let me check with the correct title...April 6, 2010...



...... ........

Okay, sorry, I was distracted for a minute. See, I had to pre-order that book just now, but I'm back.

Have I rubbed it in enough that I got to meet John Green? Did I tell you that he signed my book? And the library's books? See, there's a rule. The only person aloud to write in library books is the person who wrote the book in the first place. Remember that or some librarian is going to get extra ticked at you some day.

Well, the whole loving John Green's books thing that I have happening in my life right now doesn't really happen very often. And I love it.

My happiest moments are when I give that feeling to someone else. It doesn't happen very often, but my cousin Cassie once came up to me after a long separation (she lives out of state) and said she had to thank me, because I'd introduced her to her favorite author.

She still reads Meg Cabot. And that is happy for me.

I throw books at teenagers all day. Also at moms with their little kids, teachers, and random parents, middle-grade kids, everybody. Other librarians, adults who I drag upstairs...you name them, I find them books.

But it's hardest sometimes, with people you know really well. For me, the hard part is knowing my Dad and I both love books that are kind of scary, but I love Gothic horror (Victorian Gothic--not that stupid vampire crap, that's dark/paranormal fantasy, people), and he hates it so much--it actually gives him nightmares. The Historian gave him nightmares.

Sorry, Dad. Outed you, just then.

And I hate Stephen King. He cannot end a novel. He just can't. It's a pathological thing with him; he just can't finish a book. Either he must kill all involved parties, or they disappear, or there just is no resolution at all. And I think it's bad writing. I could take it with one book, but not all of them. Come on!

Sorry, Stephen King and all Stephen King fans.

Anyway, that is why Dad and I can't read the same creepy books. It just can't happen. Also, some of the things Dad thinks are frightening just plain make me laugh. There's that, too.

And Mom--I give that woman a book, and she just doesn't read it. Then, I give her another, and she reads it, the books next to it on the shelf, and everything else by that author. It can be alarming. But then, I give her a book kind of like that first book, thinking if she liked that kind of book, she might like others similar to it--right?

Doesn't work.

Not even a little bit.

She won't read The Historian. She won't read The Thirteenth Tale. However, she's read The Woman in White and The Moonstone a billion times. Well, maybe not that many, and she loves all mysteries. Not all.

I don't even try with Paul. He likes non-fiction, which might as well be a four-letter word to me.

But then, randomly, I bought a book to fill the time before Catching Fire came in the mail, and it was just some fantasy set in Japan--in fact, translated into English from Japanese.

And he said, "Hey, could I read that when you're done, maybe?"

And I said, "Sure," because Paul knows all the Rules of Book Usage and I knew it would come back looking just like it was in my hand at the store, so it was cool.

You don't want to know the Rules of Book Usage.

No, really.

And Paul loved that book so much, more than even I did, that he read it in one day. This is a 400+ page novel, and Paul doesn't read a lot. But he devoured that book.

He was sad there wasn't another at the house. And I looked for the sequel today, too. But they changed around books at the bookstore again, and I didn't remember the author's name. Sorry, Paul. We'll get it soon.

It was the best thing, having Paul love that book. It was great. I hope it happens again soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm Really A Person, and I Shouldn't Have To Try To Prove It To You: Another Soapbox Rant

I do not need a piece of paper to tell me that I am worth the same amount as a man, that I should have the same rights, and that I should be given the same respect.

The government gave me one, though. All us girls got one. Actually, we have two of them, to share. They're somewhere in the National Archives, I think. Maybe even on display.

One of them is the Constitution. The other is the Bill of Rights.

Yeah. Seriously.

Despite all of that, and the arguments that John Adams put forth (he really loved his wife) to insist that the word "woman" should actually appear in there somewhere, we are still here today. Arguing.

But there have been all kinds of legislation thrown around since then, legislation that spells it out in simple words for simple people to understand: women are not pets, they are not pretty little toys you can take out and play with and then leave at home in pearls and high heels, to wait for you to come back.

We are people too.

This is something the man at the gas station at the junction of Stitt street and State Road 15 in Wabash failed to realize. I am telling you all where it is so that you will know where this kind of stuff goes down, and avoid it. I forget its actual name. Or I would tell you. So that this wouldn't happen to you, as all the creepy people go to this gas station.

I have been heckled before. I have had a very, very drunk construction worker come up from behind my mother and I as we walked through London, throw his arms around the two of us, and cry in very slurred, very common English, "Oy, are you from New York?"

He then realized I was female (it took him a while, as he was very, very drunk), and tried to grab something his hands should never touch, leading to my elbow in his stomach. He then let go of Mom and I, and his co-workers (not for long, I'm sure), tackled him and dragged him back to wherever they'd been hiding him before.

I have been whistled at; I've told you all about the freaks and weirdos who stare at me and try to ask me for rides on their motorcycles, despite the fact that I could be their granddaughter.

Well. It does not get worse than what happened to me on Wednesday night at this gas station.

The guy was a real gem. I didn't get a chance to tear him apart in person, so here you go:

He was the kind of white boy hip-hop reject vomited out of high schools during the late 90's. Guys who wished they could be Joey Fatone or Lance Bass, before they found out the latter was gay.

But they couldn't give up their white-trash roots, so they chain smoked like every other member of the uber-cool group (what did they smoke, you ask? You name it) until their teeth turned orange and fell right out of their skulls, crumbled to dust and eaten along with their Hamburger Helper, microwave pizza, and vending machine sandwich diet.

His ears were at right angles to his head; his pants were cinched on below his rear, revealing an expanse of space that answered forever the question: "Boxer or brief?" He was also one of the hated few my father derides constantly, the man with the backwards baseball cap. This cap was barely situated on his head, and it was the trucker kind, the kind with the foam that keeps it from actually forming to fit your head.

And he had one of those spacer earrings. I wonder which ear?

They live in crumbled down houses turned over to apartments, like the one across from the library. The apartment numbers are stickers, the kind you put on your mailbox, only some of them have peeled away, leaving gaps between numbers. They have sofas on their front porch, wheel-less cars filling their front yard, and if they ever go inside, you never see it happen.

But that's not so bad. Heck, if I had a porch, I would so put a sofa out there. It would be cozy. Better than those stupid lawn chair things my dad keeps dragging home. And my car could easily be confused for a derelict.

Even if this rabid male chauvinist, this wretched oozing growth on the posterior of the human species, had been spawned in the lap of luxury, it would not have afforded him an ounce of understanding from me.

Ten to one, he was a high school drop out. He would have been kicked out for language like that.

The odds are higher that he has never read anything, for any reason, and that he's happy to announce that fact to the world.

I stood behind him in line to pay for my gas.

I didn't want to be in line. I wanted to pay at the pump. But they wouldn't let me. The announcer just kept telling me to come inside. Inside where people can smoke. And I am allergic.

I should have just left. But instead, I got as little gas as I could, then went inside to pay with my debit, only to meet up with a long line of people buying lottery tickets.

If there is ever a public forum for gas station/convenience store etiquette, I will raise my hand and tell the world that if you are buying lottery tickets, it is not okay to scratch them off or check if they are winning tickets in whatever other way you do that as you stand at the register and make it impossible for the cashier to serve anyone else.

It also should be a rule that those with quick purchases should go first, and those wanting 3 of this ticket, 5 of that ticket, and these are the numbers I want for Powerball...should go dead last. Always. I would prefer they had a second line just for that.

I was behind this boiling cyst, staring at his freaky right-angle ears and waiting for him to pick out which kind of cigarettes were cheapest.

Then he left. The good man behind me graciously allowed me to step up and pay for my gas, waiting to pay for his many grocery items until I had finished.

I paid.

I left the store.

The weeping sore was in his car. His(?) CHILDREN were behind him. I will not go into the fact that he was smoking with them trapped in the car. But that is criminal too.

And he waved me on.

So, knowing that I should never, ever walk in front of this man, I went.

I went because I am used to being stared at, blankly, by random people--men. It happens. I am not happy with it. But the way I see it, I get a free pass to stare at them when something freakish is happening with their clothes, face, etc. I also get the freedom to point. Or smear them here.

As I walked, it said something so horrible to me that I will and have never repeated it to anyone.

If I said it out loud, it would make me cry. And I will not allow this festering scab to make me cry. I am better than that. I am stronger.

That cretin said it in front of his children, who will be old enough to hear and have some small understanding of what he said. They are old enough to repeat it.

The amalgamation of rat feces, hair product, nicotine, and gangrenous tissue drove away in his car, laughing maniacally.

He'd gotten my attention, that's what he'd wanted.

I went home, playing loud, angry rock. Fine, I don't have angry rock. But it was Alanis--and that is man-hating rock. So it counts.

And I rounded a corner on Paul. Poor Paul who always gets this kind of treatment, just in case he should answer wrong.

"Do I have a soul?" I demanded.

"Yes..." Paul answered, knowing this was one of those times...

"Do I look like I am more or less the same as you?"


"And does it make sense that I should be treated kind of like you are, despite the fact that I don't have a penis of my very own?"

Imagine Paul kind of freaked out that I said the word "penis" as he replied, "Yes."

"Tell your friends," I said. Then I went on and on about what I had endured, how evil it was, and how I thought men who behaved like that should have their eyes gouged out. If they get so much pleasure from looking at girls, well...how about never doing it again?

I know a lot of really, really fantastic guys. I know a couple of them read this blog. This post is so you, and other guys I don't know who might be less-evolved than you can actually understand what we (girls) mean when we say there is something wrong with the way women are treated.

If you think rolling down your car window and sexually harassing a girl is poor form, you are fantastic and you should get a medal. I know two male readers of this blog who deserve one of their very own. I will make some.

If you think it's a-okay to do something like that, you should be burnt at the stake a la Joan of Arc.