Monday, December 28, 2009

Because

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

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

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

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

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

Because I wanted to be chipper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I took some.

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

Still, mentally I was exhausted (see above).

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

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

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

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

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

Uh oh...

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

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

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

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

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

I don't think that fainting really counts.

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

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

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

Because that's a good thing.

*I counted 31, 32 with the title.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And now the cops are here...

Well, not here, exactly.

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

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

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

So.

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

Christmas is coming...

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


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

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

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

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

It matters to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what Dad decided to do.

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

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

Which he knew when he set the whole thing up.

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

Okay.

Fine.

I asked if he had considered going on Sunday.

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

Boo-hoo, I thought.

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

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

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

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

Ho Ho Ho.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Funny Story I Promised James

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

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

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

I'm done now.

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

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

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

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

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

I miss The Lounge.

Back to Sunday.

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

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

Saturday, December 5, 2009

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

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

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

I had been pushed to the limit.

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

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

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

Allow me to describe the girl.

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

Did that help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was fun.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hands Tied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why Do People Want Me To Stay Crazy?

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

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

I am okay with this.

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

That being said, sometimes things go too far.

Take for example, the singing.

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

It made life exciting.

But here's the thing.

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

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

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

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

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

Where was I? Oh, the singing.

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

The singing does not stop outside of the music building.

In fact, the singing just does not stop.

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

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

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

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

I may have become unhinged.

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

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

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

I am nonviolent, if that helps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If not for me, for everyone else?
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