Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

For we had no gas.

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

Nice, huh?

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

They were nice.

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

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

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

About that...

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

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

So we'd have food.

Because we cook so often...

Right.

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

I have asthma.

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile...

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

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

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

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

It worked like a charm.

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

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

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

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

That's how much my family loves me.

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

This is what the note said:

Laura,

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

Love,

Dad

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Piggie Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Procrastination, and Paul

I knew as I handed off my keys that I wouldn't be seeing them for a while.

It's just one of those things with me and cars, once the keys leave my hand, the repair place decides that it needs a vehicle to run errands in, and it might as well be mine. At the place I used to go to get repairs done, before I found my Car Guy, I would drop off my car with a full tank of gas, wait three months, and pick it back up only to find my seat adjusted, my stereo pre-sets changed, filth on my steering wheel, and the problem just the way it was when I left it.

My Car Guy puts the seat back where it was when he found it. He also doesn't change my radio. Or, if he does, he puts it back the way it was before I see it again.

There was a bulge on my tire, and, unlike when I was in college, there is no Spanish Lab for me to skip in order to get it fixed. The bulge is, possibly, still there now.

Paul agreed to take my car to North Manchester's tire place, since he was on his way to that town. I said that was fine, so I left him a check with the business' name, the date, my signature...and no amount. With the great trust I placed in him, I could only hope that he would prove himself by getting the loud car noise to go away for good.

When I called Paul from work at 3:00 p.m., he said he was about to finish his work at school and stop by the tire place.

Okay.

Taking a deep breath.

See, the car place takes walk-ins, but they squeeze them in between all the other appointments they have. So if they have a large number of walk-ins or appointments, you can't get your car fixed later in the day on the same day...you'd have to leave your car and pick it up the next day.

Another deep breath.

Then, April and I went to Walmart. We were having a program that evening, using the children's book Piggie Pie, which I have forgotten the plot of already. I wasn't sticking around for the program, so I decided to concentrate on Proust and not Piggie Pie.

We bought apple pie and then went for pumpkin, but there were no frozen pumpkin pies to be had. We asked the guy, he said he was out. So we went to the bakery--no pumpkin pie.

Apparently, there is some kind of pumpkin shortage. The bakery ladies announced to us that they were unable to obtain pumpkin, that they had searched their shelves to no avail.

April became upset. Pumpkin pie was integral to the puppet play. And now we had none.

But I used to work at Walmart.

Our small store used to have one person announcing something in one department while another contradicted that person on the other side. For example: We don't have luggage tags--or--We do have luggage tags. I was once told repeatedly that a product was in one section by one person and another section by another person only to find it in a third (unrelated) section of the store.

I know how Walmart works.

So I told April that I bet there was pumpkin in cans. She led us down the vegetable aisle, hoping to find canned pumpkin. There was none.

"Why are you looking here?" I asked.

"Well, we need pumpkin, then the baggie of pumpkin pie spices, then--"

"Why don't you get the can of pumpkin pie filling?" I asked.

Long story short, I ended my work day making four pumpkin pies. Also, wearing pumpkin pie all over the leg of my Doomed Work Pants, the ones that have already faced death by hot glue gun.

Then a co-worker told me to call my mom, since Mom had called me and then just announced that I should call her back instead of letting the call be transferred back to me.

At 5:15 before I left work, I called Mom.

Paul, apparently, had gone to the car place, found them booked solid, then left for home.

There was no appointment for the next day.

There was no attempt at an appointment for the next day.

Also, Mom wanted to go to Kokomo the next day, presumably either using my car or hers...and her car was having its own troubles.

See, her car was not happy just starting as it should. It wanted gas, to give it a little boost of happiness before it woke up ready to go. At first, this was only when it had sat in the garage overnight. Now it is all the time.

So I had a choice: take my car to work regardless of the potential flat tire and trying to fit in a repair visit, or being stranded when Mom's car failed to start. Not a good choice.

I ended up taking Mom's car, since I knew that I could always ask a friend or co-worker to help me jump it, but I doubted very much that a library full of women could change a tire in heels without getting angry at me. I could change the tire myself, but I would have rather not. Changing a tire isn't a fun way to spend time. This also gave Paul a second chance at getting it fixed, this time in Wabash, after which he would drop off my car and take Mom's to pick her up, then the two of them would buy a new battery and get it changed together on the way to Kokomo or in Kokomo.

This was a good plan.

But moments after arriving at work, I discovered from Paul that it was not in fact a tire problem...it was the front right wheel bearing, something I thought was wrong with the Honda before it died, except it turned out to be the muffler hanging down and disrupting its ability to turn. It is, naturally, more expensive than just the tire.

So this will result in my leaving the new car in the hands of the tire people, who will need it left for a certain unspecified period of time.

Time they might have already had--if Paul had called ahead and left it there yesterday.

Ugh.

I want another piece of pie.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Twilight Zone

When I walked into the bookstore on Saturday for a copy of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, I was blindsided by a display positioned directly in front of the door. It announced proudly: "If You Liked Twilight..."

And over its surface, spread over each available inch, was a plethora of merchandise featuring Robert Something-Something and the shirtless guy that plays Jacob. Also there was the Expressionless Girl, whatever her name is. Even when she's smiling, she isn't. What's the deal with that?

I skirted around the table, then marched over to Young Adult.

I guess I was asking for it, really. Going to the YA shelves like that. But I had a good reason.

See, I buy all the YA books for our library. Meaning I decide what we get and what we don't. Usually, my decision is based on 3-4 positive reviews on a particular book, or the requests of readers. But every once and a while--or all the time--there are books that aren't reviewed. This happens a lot with YA. Especially when certain novels cross over from the adult section. And that's all the time.

What I do is this: I go to the bookstore, and I read chunks of all the new books I'm not familiar with. I also take a closer look at some of the things I'm interested in, and some of the things written by authors I am familiar with but whose novels weren't in the journals I read. Field research.

So I went through the new books, I looked at them, and then I saw it.

Here it is.

On the surface, it looked just like another Twilight novel.

It had the red on black look, but it was different. And I thought...If there were a new Twilight book, I would know. So I looked a little closer.

Do you see it?


Right up there above the title?

Yeah. That's right.

One of the greatest classics of British Literature, endorsed by two fictional characters.

Let's ignore for a moment, the fact that the Twilight series is a blundered retelling of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I've ranted about that before. Along with the whole feminism thing, how Bella has no soul and is so dependent on Edward (and men in general) that she might as well be tethered to the wall and cared for by her varied love interests in every way.

We've explored how Bella treated each man in her life like he existed entirely for her benefit, to give her the attention she wanted when she wanted it, to pick her up and race through the woods to escape all the varied individuals bent on destroying her, despite the fact that she had no personality to speak of.

I'm done with that now. If you want more, I'm sure you'll be able to find it somewhere in this blog. If not this one, some other blog. I'm not repeating my whole line of reasoning.

"Bella and Edward's Favorite Book"

There it is. Reprinted for you. I can't recreate the Twilight font, although you can find it online, since I have it on this computer.

Does Emily Bronte, or English literature, for that matter, really need Twilight merchandising to convince readers that Wuthering Heights is a novel worthy of their attentions?

No.

This novel has been around since 1847. And during that whole length of time, people have read it.

Now, in the days of required reading, high school students are forced to crack it open and drudge through the Yorkshire dialect of Joseph, the stupidity of Catherine (the first), the confusion of all those characters that share a first name, last name, or first and last name...

But if there was nothing worthwhile about Wuthering Heights but its ability to strike fear into the hearts of hapless high school students, it wouldn't vie with Pride and Prejudice as the best love story of all time.

Ha. In your face, Twilight series.

Bottom line: Wuthering Heights does not need Twilight's stamp of approval in order to be bought, sold, and discussed.

It will survive longer than Twilight. It already has.

All the ways we can sit down and discuss Wuthering Heights do not carry over to Twilight. What are the symbols in Twilight? The lion and the lamb? Hmmm...could that be Bella and Edward? Oh, yeah. It is! Oh...and let's see...major theme, major themes...temptation! Redemption! Wow! That was crazy easy! Now let me write an essay on...wait. I can't. I don't have enough material.

Because in all four giant books, there isn't enough depth to the text for me to write a critical essay. Nor would there be any room for people to debate. You read a chunk, and you just know. No subtext, no deep character analysis is possible, you just read.

Oh, and let's talk writing! That's fun! No, I mean it. It is fun. Stop laughing. I'm being serious!

Here is the opening lines of chapter one of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight: "My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing my favorite shirt--sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka" (Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight. Megan Tingley Books Little, Brown and Company: New York, Boston, 2005).

What can we draw from this? She's heading for the airport, that signifies a change in her life, possibly a drastic one. Only her mother is with her...this may become important later. Her mother is sending her away? White lace--we could see this as a wedding of sorts. Leaving her mother's house to go to a new home, but a colder one. Crueler, more difficult. She needs no protection from Phoenix's weather or her life there. Forks, however, is another story.

Wuthering Heights? Here we go; chapter one, paragraph one: "I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven; and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name."

Look at the language. Lockwood will be troubled with Heathcliff (whose name embodies the harshness of their surroundings). They are removed from society, a misanthropist's heaven--this will mean more when we find out how much hatred exists between those living in the surrounding area. They will divide the desolation. Unhappily, if we examine Heathcliff's body language.

Heathcliff withdraws and continues to do so, even after he knows who his visitor is. Readers may also look for race as a theme in the novel--hinted to with Heathcliff's eyes. This becomes more evident as we learn more about Heathcliff's background. Heathcliff will not shake his visitor's hand; we know he is avoiding others. Later we find out that he has taken to concealing weapons on his person--perhaps that was what his fingers were seeking under his coat.

We also know that the land they live in is a contradiction--the contrast between all that is evil and all that is holy and good--almost as if the moor divides heaven (Lockwood's rented property and home to the Lintons--Thrushcross Grange)and hell (Wuthering Heights--home to Heathcliff and the Earnshaws).

Lockwood likens himself to Heathcliff, but even as we read the opening paragraph, we know that to be untrue. Lockwood, no matter his faults, is a saint compared to Heathcliff.

Okay.

I'm stopping myself now, you've had enough literary analysis.

I could go on with Wuthering Heights, though.

But I won't.

I'm afraid I made a bit of a scene in Barnes and Nobles. It started with my proclamation that Wuthering Heights is one of the great enduring classics of English literature, that we owe Emily Bronte and her family a debt of gratitude for the gifts they left us, that for 162 years we have read and loved Wuthering Heights as a civilization and Twilight barely has five years of existence and it is but a pale retelling of the former.

I got kind of loud.

Mom left me by myself, so not only was I yelling, I was yelling alone.

Crazy looks worse when you don't have an audience.

I knew this, and I knew that it would all get worse if someone didn't try to talk me down. So I called Jennifer. She said that, as long as people were reading Wuthering Heights, it was okay. Because people who might not ever have read Wuthering Heights might read it now.

This is perfectly reasonable. But their motivation to read Wuthering Heights is flawed, as they are depending on the endorsement of two fictional characters to prompt them to read Wuthering Heights.

That's kind of like listening to the voices in your head when they tell you what movie to go see on Saturday night.

But, fine. If that's what makes them happy...

Then I wandered over to philosophy and found a copy of The Philosophy of Twilight.

That was it.

I am using this forum as an opportunity to declare that I am sick and tired of the Twilight phenomenon. I don't want to see another display with Mr. Without-a-Shirt, Mr. Widely-Set-Eyes-and-Untidy-Hair, or Ms. No-Facial-Expression. I don't want to hear another person extolling the virtues of this work, showing off their new t-shirt, etc.

That being said, I have to go to see the movie. Why? Work, that's why. I have to see it. And I don't want to. So here is my solution: I will go. I will see it mid-day during the weekend and then I will drive over to some restaurant to eat some delicious food. I and my companion(s) will then commence a reaming of the film, complete with personal insults to the characters we dislike (all of them).

Then, when I have finished this, I will move on with my life until such a time as I am faced with another film, book, or all other things Twilight related.

This thing has been merchandised to death. Stephanie Meyer's will never have to work another second of her life. She can sit back and not drink (because of the Mormon thing), and watch (some) television, and sleep as long as she wants. She's making so much money, you would not believe it. But she has the right to make money off of her work.

But I hate how much the publisher is making, the misery that they are inflicting on us. The sickening thing is how many journals, bookmarks, coffee cups, bumper stickers, fashion dolls, jewelry, and related board games the publisher is selling to the world at large. You can't go anywhere without it. And other writers are cashing in too, writing Twilight-esque novels to ensure good sales and better contracts. They're like leeches, feeding on teenagers with endless cash and no fiscal responsibilities.

I am certain, though, in the tenuous place Twilight has in literary history. It will never have a place on the shelf next to Austen or Bronte(s). This means that my ordeal will, perhaps, end.

Someday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dear Paulie, A Message on Your Birthday

I'm sitting here at work thinking about you and how old we both are now.

Seriously, we could just die. Any minute. My joints hurt just thinking about it. And I'm pretty sure I can feel my arteries calcifying, because what are arteries if they aren't slowly turning to stone?

And I remember the day Dad came to pick me up from the neighbor's house, when he told me about you--my new baby brother.

All I could think in that moment was, "Gee, I could use some more of those little rainbow marshmallows." And, "I hope I can stay until this episode of Care Bears is done before I have to go home."

I have matured since then.

But I could go for some of those marshmallows right about now.

Today, on your birthday, I can tell you you rock as a brother. My childhood would not have been half so entertaining without all our inside jokes ("WHERE IS MY SON?!!"). And I should tell you that I love you enough that I'm not going to sit at home all night knitting and watching Gilmore Girls (care to join?), but instead I am willing to pull myself together and go with you to a seedy bar and watch you drink while I get tipsy on the fumes of alcohol wafting through the air. Then I will drive you home and let you play WOW wasted (yeah, right), with hilarious consequences. And when the three-hundredth gnome has killed you, I will mock you openly as you stagger away from the keyboard in defeat.

That is what sisters are for.

If you think I'm going to comfort you when you throw up arroz con pollo, you are dead wrong.

Your loving sis,

Laura

Monday, October 12, 2009

Insomnia

I have a terrible time sleeping.

I get so little time for it that I can't believe it's a problem. I mean, you give yourself six hours to sleep each day...you'd imagine some of that time would be spent sleeping. But it isn't.

No, I spend the majority of that time lying awake, wondering why my one pillow ended up such a freaky shape when all the others are still pillow-shaped and why I can't find a good pillow, why good pillows always end up in hotels, why we never stayed in hotels when we were on vacations when I was a kid, why we almost never took vacations when I was a kid, why my dad is going to Colorado again--by himself, why he chooses to go on vacation without Mom when he can't stand her being at Walmart without him when he has any time off, usually...

And it continues in that manner until the point I get crazy sick of lying there, usually prompting me to take another dose of Tylenol PM or to turn on the light and read a little.

The other night, maybe Thursday? Yeah. Thursday. I'd had a particularly hard day, related to the security alarm and its going off.

So I took my dose of Sleepy-Time Magic and curled up in bed, but I felt like I'd just finished running a marathon, so I turned the light back on and grabbed a book, feeling my allotted sleep time ticking away.

The book I picked up was Proust's novel (part of it) Swann's Way.

Now, in my literary opinion, "classics" fall into four major categories.
There are the books that are classics because they are written well, have an exciting story, interesting story, or are meaningful to everyone at some stage in their lives. Therefore, fun to read.

There are the classics that are written fantastically and have influenced history with their social commentary in a way we cannot cast aside. We might not find them fun, but we can't overlook the effect they had, and that's interesting.

There are books that have become known for their effective portrait of the time in which they were written. So historically, fascinating. Worthy of being read.

And then, finally, there are books that are written well. They are perhaps written better than any other "classics." They are the best. Perfect books. Flawless. Masterpieces.

However, they are about something like...a girl deciding she can't stay at home anymore so she leaves, lives with her married sister, becomes a chorus girl, has liaisons with older men, then marries one of them who leeches off of her until she leaves him and he suffers until death.

Or the one about the girl who wants to have money, then gets it, so she wants to be an aristocrat, but the family she marries into has a name but no real money so she spends all that's left until she has an affair with a rich titled European man for fun and then leaves her first husband.

In other words, although they are terrific, they also suck.

I don't know what category Proust's novel falls into yet, but I think he was a jerk, back when he was alive, because this is how it starts:

"For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say "I’m going to sleep.'"

Yeah. Proust was rubbing it in my face.

Now I know that it is true that an Early-20th Century Dead Guy probably isn't reaching out from beyond the grave as an in-your-face move, to make me feel like crap because I can't sleep at night. I bet Proust didn't sit down to write his book, thinking ahead to when 21st Century Living Girls would read his book when they couldn't sleep and laughing because he knew that his opening line would make them feel like more of a Sleep-Failure than before, especially when said Early-20th Century Dead Guy wrote said novel in French.

In fact, I also know that Proust suffered from insomnia for a very long time. And, frankly, why wouldn't he? His life totally sucked. I mean, on a suck meter, his life would be on the Suckiest side, as far as possible from Hardly Sucky. So he couldn't have been mocking me with his sleep chapter. He was probably writing in an effort to put himself to sleep. And I bet he didn't. Because of the insomnia.

Or the asthma.

See, Proust's life sucked so completely that he had awful asthma before there was any treatment at all. The closest thing to a medical treatment when he was a kid was snake oil or inhaling mercury. Seriously.

So he couldn't go outside where there was grass or trees or flowers or people or houses or mold or dogs or cats or life of any kind. In fact, he couldn't really stay inside either.

He spent most of his adult life walled off from the world in a little soundproof room, sleeping by day and writing by night so he didn't have to sit around feeling bad about how other people had lives that he could see or hear.

Sound bad? There's more. He spent a year as a soldier failing, until he left, got a job at a bookstore, and then got a leave of absence so he could lie in bed being sick until they realized they'd been paying him for nothing for years.

Then, he moved back in with his parents and stayed in their apartment until they died.

To his credit, he didn't leave them where they lay and spend the remainder of his life pretending they were still around. He totally loved his mom, more than was normal at the time, so it could have happened. Psycho, anybody?

His parents left him enough money to allow him to never lift a finger again, which was good because he was about as sick as they come.

He was a total recluse. In fact he almost never left his little cork-lined rooms. Poor guy.

Also, he was homosexual.

The fact that we know this about him is very out of the ordinary for the time. He treated his sexuality far more openly than, say, Hitler. He dealt with the topic of homosexuality a great deal in his writings. We're talking major literary theme. So the literature major in me wants you to take note.

When I explained this to my father and brother, I finished the mini-biography by adding, "And wherever he went, war was sure to follow." Because that's the only way to lighten the mood after a story like that. This was in reference to the whole World War One thing, which happened when he was still alive. It also happened in Europe, where he lived.

I made them laugh. I am still laughing. Poor Proust. His life was awful. But, for the record, he was not one of the Four Horsemen. He was just a guy who made fun of me for not sleeping, just under 100 years ago. A guy I made fun of in my living room, because of WWI, which he had little to no control over.

But that's what you get when you're a dead author who can't defend yourself, and when your miserable two-paragraph-long summarized biography is a click away on the internet.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hey everybody--read this!

I know a lot of you also read Sarah's blog, but maybe some of you don't...and if you don't you might have missed her recent post.

Read her recent post.

I think this is something we all need to know--so we can take action.

Good Grief

Why is this the second day in a row that has sucked? Why? Was yesterday not annoying enough?

No.

Yesterday, tailgated and honked at each time I was driving through Wabash. That's four trips through the town. See, people don't understand the new set-up caused by the road construction. People are making their own lanes, driving on the wrong side of the road, and losing their tempers at the drop of a hat.

That was frustrating. As was the semi that wanted to run me over. I just got this car. And we aren't in Chicago! Have a little patience. Some of us are trying to execute a turn.

That continued into today, as I was cut off by a construction vehicle that literally just drove diagonally across all four (?) lanes of traffic. Just for fun.

Paul just came in. He says it was that way for him too.

And there are random closed lanes! They are open one moment and closed the next. It makes me crazy.

But here's the big thing. Yesterday, Erin called in sick. Meaning I was working by myself downstairs. And it was ssssllloooowwwww. Very slow.

So I checked the bathrooms. I checked the men's room, knocking and calling to those who might be inside...and no one was there. I checked the women's room, and no one was there. Then I locked the doors, turned off all the lights, and went up to give them the stack of movies I had checked in moments before.

We watched the people go outside, and then we left, setting the security alarm as we walked out.

There were five of us. And we all missed one woman who walked past us, down the stairs, and into the bathroom. There she did whatever she wanted to do in there, and then she left the building.

Setting off the security alarm as she went.

Yeah.

And since I was the only one working downstairs, it was kind of my fault. No one made a big deal about it, but it was. So today I came in, found out about it, and I've been feeling guilty ever since.

Not that it is solely my fault, but really. I was the only one downstairs. And the person went out downstairs. So I feel like crap, and I've been trying to get over it since one.

I want to get over it.

Really.

This crappy day should not have carried over into today. I have never had a crappy day at the library. Things have happened that were unappealing, but nothing bad enough for me to feel bad all day about them. And here is Day Two.

I don't want a Day Three.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Waking Paul Up

Why is it that I get such a sick pleasure from calling Paul's cell phone from work in the morning and letting it ring and ring and ring until the man comes on and tells me, "The wireless customer you are calling is unavailable..." or until Paul picks up, there is silence, then the call ends abruptly, something that can only mean my own brother hung up on me?

And why do I respond to this rude behavior by calling him again?

And why do I decide that, when he fails to answer his phone several times running, I should switch to the house phone and let that ring indefinitely until Paul drags himself out of bed, across the house, and over to the phone?

Because I am an older sister.

Why does Paul get to be lazy when I have to wake up so darn early every morning? It so is not fair.

Also, I do this because Mom is out of town, I am at work, and that means my little Darcy has only one source for her walks--Paul. And though I love my brother, I rank Darcy's comfort above his. This is because she is a dog and cannot care for herself. That means Paul has to step in.

But mostly it is because I am an older sister, and tormenting Paul is super-fun.

I did all this at 9:30 this morning, a respectable hour for starting one's day. And it was very enjoyable. I think I called Paul like five or six times...? Maybe more, before I got him on the line. And boy was he mad. He seemed like he would start swearing at me any moment, and I have no doubt he went right back to sleep.

This way, though, if Jerk Paul makes Darcy suffer, and if she has an accident which has never happened before, I can turn around to Paul and say: "You suck. Look at what you did to her! She was totally miserable to do this, and she's depressed now because she knows she did wrong and it is all because you are so lazy you can't take care of a dog let alone yourself! Next time: Listen To Your Sister!"

And then he will be even angrier than before, but he will know that I am right. And that is the most fun at all.

Please do not think less of me for this, I never tortured him as a child. We never hit each other, we never screamed or threw things...we were good, well-behaved children. Which means we have become scheming adults. It's always better to let kids get the resentment out of their systems before they get too old to throw stuffed animals, books, or micro-machines at each other.

I think we still have some micro-machines...

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Fall!

I hate cold weather. Let me say that, first and foremost. But there's a little problem with it being 80+ degrees all the time...I can't wear the pretty woolens I knit for myself. And that makes me sad.

Since we didn't have a summer this year, I spent a lot of time playing with sweaters. Knitting a sweater in midsummer is usually uncomfortable (a lap full of wool would be), but this year it was no big deal.

Still, when I walked outside last week, stopped on the front step, turned around, went back inside, and returned to the great outdoors with a warm jacket...the Urge to Knit became too much to resist.

I had finished my baby sweater the day before. Announcing this at an impromptu "staff meeting" at the library, my friend Rachel asked, "Is it a gift?" I replied (my voice thick with sarcasm), "No, Rachel, I'm pregnant," causing laughter to break out amongst my fellow librarians.

Apparently, she thought I might be saving it for something.

Like that's going to happen.

At any rate, why save something for later when you can just knit another baby sweater later, with different yarn? That's way more fun. And way less depressing.

Can you imagine me, twenty years from now, un-burying a "Hope Chest" I made and removing baby article after baby article until I and my shriveled uterus descend into full-on depression?

That would be a downer.

So I went on Ravelry and visited my queue, finding a pair of amazing knitted gloves--Entangled Stitches--designed by Julia Mueller I had fallen in love with last year when I was still burned from my first glove attempt (I do not have man hands, why did I knit myself a pattern designed for female football players?).

Here is the non-Ravelry link for Non-Ravelers.

And in the course of four days, I have knit all but the thumb of one glove. I am eagerly awaiting the moment I can cast on for my second glove...I anticipate this will take place tonight.

I knitted through the entire third season of Gilmore Girls, and let me just say, I have become far too emotionally invested in that show for my own good. I will survive if Lorelai and Luke don't get together. I will survive.

I hope to break out the camera when these are finished and give the world some pictures of all I've been working on. In the meantime, picture something pretty and pretend I made it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Glutton for Punishment

Last month, I started getting this itching desire to read Proust. Marcel Proust...

I knew nothing about him.

I had no idea what he'd written.

I was clueless as to where I should start.

But there I was, standing in Barnes and Nobles last night, barely able to withstand the temptation a shiny, well-translated (French to English) copy of Swann's Way presented.

I don't know where any of this came from.

Was it Little Miss Sunshine? Or was it an episode of Criminal Minds, in which the opening lines of Swann's Way are read aloud? Or was it helping some guy find Proust's books months ago in that same bookstore, simply because I had a better grasp of the alphabet than he?

I think I had felt the tug before, but never seriously considered reading his books until I saw that unalphabetized man wandering around thinking he could just read Proust for fun. I could just read Proust for fun, I thought, but I know my alphabet. And I am an English major. Or was. I was an English major. But now I am like some kind of expert, right? So I could totally read Proust for fun.

But I didn't buy a copy of Swann's Way last night. I held off. Partially because I have yet to finish the book Jen has wanted me to read for...months...and partially because I am supposed to be reading books for, well, work.

At work today, I decided to check and see if we had a copy here. And we do. Or did, because I just checked it out. And if we get along, that copy of Swann's Way I saw last night is totally mine.

I'll try to keep you apprised of the situation as it progresses. But since one of the St. B's teachers saw me looking at it and asked what was going on, and since I told her what I was doing and why, and since I was feeling pretty good about it...I better read it all. I better not give up.

I am not giving up.

Okay. Now I have to go yell at a little girl who is destroying what little order we have on our shelves down here.

Why, Paul? Why?

I know what you're thinking. But no, Paul did not eat food that belonged to me this week. He did not scavange my Biaggi's leftovers or even my leftover pizza. He was good.

However, Paul has discovered a whole new way to make my life miserable, something so horrible I cannot even begin to think of the appropriate torture I will use to break him of this behavior before it becomes habitual.

When I was getting ready for bed at eleven last night, Paul got a phone call. His cell phone ring is some crazy hard rock/electronica mix that just ends up scaring me every time it goes off, so it's a good thing it doesn't go off in my presence very much.

It was his friend and former college room mate, Jerome. Now, Jerome has been living in Indianapolis of late, and the two of them have spent little time together--meaning none. Jerome told Paul he was at their old dorm, and that Paul should come for what would undoubtedly be a party of the college variety (if you know what I mean).

Paul then did something that shocked us all no end. He said yes, got his keys, and he left for campus.

And we all went to bed, knowing he would be home late, if at all, because Paul is smart enough to know not to drive home drunk (we think, but his next move makes me question his overall intelligence in a way I never have before).

I was just falling asleep in my warm bed. I had plugged in my cell phone on my dresser, where it would sit through the night charging. My cell phone, in case you were wondering, is also my alarm clock. This is important to know.

Paul, obviously motivated by an exaggerated perception of his own importance, believed utterly that my mother (and, well, his too) was waiting up for him. He thought she opted out of sleep in order to sit on the couch doing sudoku after sudoku long after network television had stopped broadcasting television and had only infomercials and static, just waiting for him to open up the door and tell her all about what he'd done and who he'd seen.

So, because he's so understanding and caring as a son and fellow human being, he decided to contact her.

And because he's so smart and awesome and amazing, he used my cell phone to do it.

The tiny screen lit my dark room as the "New Text Message" alert popped up, and the happy jingle of new-ness broke the silence of my slumber as quickly as my alarm would have--because both are generated by the same little speaker and sound remarkably similar.

My eyes snapped open. I lept out of bed, since it was morning, right?

But as my feet touched the floor I knew it was still night (but I was wrong about that) and that I didn't need to wake up. Too bad, really. Because I already had.

At first, I thought it was one of Centennial-Freaking-Wireless' Spam Text Messages of Hatred and Dispair, but it turned out to be my brother. Here is what the message said:

"Hey make sure mom [sic] doesnt [sic] try to wait up for me or something. Ill [sic] be home too late for that. See ya [sic] tomorrow!"

I took the liberty of preserving his phrasing, to show you that he not only woke me up, but did so with poor grammar and word choice. Jerk.

I then noted that the time on my little cell phone clock read 1:00 am.

Some of you reading this might be the kind of people who would respond at this point, "So what?"

And so would I, usually. But I had my alarm set for 6:00 am. Because I have work today. Work. And that meant that I had a bedtime last night, a bedtime I adhered to in order to ensure that I would not suffer today.

I am suffering today.

Two shots of expresso has made me conscious of my surroundings and able to grunt replies, shelve books, and type like a monkey (you know, the monkey/Shakespeare reference?). But I am still suffering. My eyes are doing the thing where you think you aren't closing them often enough because they are so dry, even though you can hardly keep them open in the first place so you know blinking is happening.

It would take a full marching band playing right here in the Children's Room to wake me fully. Jen, get on that, would you?

Crap, you guys have a competition today, don't you?

I am so out of luck.

And I am left with some questions and a few answers. 1. Why me? Am I the one worried for Paul's well-being? No. Not really. He's a grown-up. He can take care of himself. 2. Did Paul really think I would be waiting up for him? Doubtful. Which means 3. He thought I was the only one who would bother to pick up the phone and therefore 4. He took advantage of that in order to achieve his true aim which was to make me suffer--fine, which was to make sure Mom wasn't worried.

Do you know what would have really made Mom not worry?

Calling her.

Stupid Paul. Waking me up for no stupid reason. Jerk.

Part of me wanted to text him back. To tell him all the horrible things I was thinking up. Punishments I wanted to inflict, etc. But I didn't have my contacts in, which meant I had to keep one eye shut or grab my glasses and it was dark so I would have had to turn on the light to text back. Part of me wanted to ignore the message and go back to sleep, but then no one would know my suffering and Paul might be right, Mom might have been waiting up to see how things went, in which case she would be worried and awake all night when only I could reassure her.

So I left my room, holding my phone in my hand (I had unplugged it). I found Mom still awake (not unusual) doing her sudoku (not unusual) on the couch where she sleeps now because Dad coughs all night like he has consumption and it keeps her awake all night long.

I think I said something like, "Paul texted me and woke me up. I'm not texting him back, because I think it will be a waste of time, because I want the next time he sees me to be the last, because it will directly precede me removing his eyes from their sockets and leaving him blind and unable to text message anyone except by feel. Stupid Jerk woke me up. Show him...texting me at one in the morning to tell me to give messages to people..."

Then I went back to bed, silencing everything on my phone except for my alarm and my ringtone, meaning that if he needed a ride home I would have gotten the call and come to his rescue, because I am a nice sister who does want him and all others to stay safe.

Clearly, I am understanding. But not so understanding as to give up a good night's sleep just to relay messages like some kind of human answering service. I am not a freaking secretary here. I am so not getting paid for it.

I should get paid for it.

He owes me a coffee.

Jerk.

When I "woke up" this morning, he was curled up in his bed, looking all innocent, and sleeping like he thought he'd done nothing wrong.

I wanted to walk in there and jump on his bed, throwing open his windows to let in light and screaming good morning songs at the top of my lungs...but 1. He'd sleep through the jumping 2. There was no light and 3. I would have woken up Dad, Mom, and Darcy for no reason other than to punish Paul.

They did not deserve punishments.

Neither did I.
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