Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Confession

Yesterday, when I got out of bed, my legs gave out and I hit the ground so hard, the house shook on its foundations. I was like a human earthquake.

My first thought was: POLIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My second thought was: Don't be thick, Laura. You've been vaccinated against that, thanks to a nice man named Jonas Salk (you can read more about his mad vaccine-developing skills here). Even if your initial symptoms are exactly the same...No. You're good. But do get that vaccine checked all the same. It might be booster-shot time.

My third thought was: Gee, I hope I didn't just break my pinkie-toe.*

And then I came to the obvious conclusion: I should never get out of bed. But I had to go to work, so my brain gave me one other possibility: My pajamas are cursed.**

*I didn't

**By that, I mean every pair of pajamas bottoms I own, since I didn't actually trip on my pant leg when I fell. I just went down, like a redwood, destroying everything in my path. That Kleenex box will never be the same.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Locks of Love, Long Hair, and Just-My-Luck

My hairdryer exploded.

I should start at the beginning.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, Aimee got her hair cut.

We were in college at the time. She was still attending MC. One day she had long hair, the next she had medium-length locks.

"I did it for Locks of Love!" She announced. "You should do it!" Aimee tends to speak in exclamations. It's endearing.

"I've never had my hair longer than shoulder-length," I replied.*

"Grow it out!" Aimee insisted.

"But then it will reach the AWKWARD stage," I said. "And if it gets THERE, I will DIE."

"You should grow it, and give it to Locks of Love!" Aimee told me. And somehow...I said yes.

I think maybe it was some kind of chemical fume that did it. I mean, I was in Winger, in The Lounge. That building was OLD, and there was construction! Who knows what kind of chemical whats-it was in the air!

But I'd said yes. So I started growing my hair.

And it was PAINFUL.

I should mention, at the time, I very short hair (I was just starting to grow out of a pixie cut).

But I've made it very far. From here:

To here:

(Yes, I shamelessly Photoshopped this picture to hide a mole. Hey--it's a close-up! What do you expect? And sorry about the first picture, I didn't have any other short-hair pictures on this computer. So you have to look at Reporter Laura and with Ralph Nader and all the other journalists.)

I was told on Monday, when I went in for a trim, that my hair was Officially long enough for me to donate. Now I just have to choose how long I want it to be when it's lopped off. Like, do I want to have a short bob, or do I want it to be shoulder-length, or longer?*

I just had the stylist trim it, because I knew that Christmas would mean seeing relatives I don't see very often, relatives who wouldn't believe that I'd let my hair grow out at all, if they didn't see it for themselves. Plus, I want to see how long it will grow. And I know that in February, I will get sick of my LIFE, and I will want a change. If I save the Great Haircut until then, I will get a major change to make me very happy. Haircuts are for me what Prozac is for others. I go from being miserable with my life and my place in the world to feeling light and happy, ready to take on anything.

The stylist even gave me something to help me battle the constant static that plagues me all year. It's one of the Perils of Knitting.

So I went home, washed my hair to get all the little short bits off my skin, noted that I already had many, many hives from where the liberated ends had touched my skin, debated taking a picture to prove to Jen that I was allergic to my own hair, decided I was too tired, and went to sleep.

Fast forward to this morning.

I woke up and washed my hair. Then I said: It's SO COLD. I must dry it!

My hair takes a long time to dry. With a hairdryer, it takes about a twenty minutes of drying it in order for it to actually BE dry (I'm not kidding. I have very thick hair). I went about the usual routine until...


My hair dryer jerked violently in my hands, shot sparks, and then clouds of smoke billowed from the front. I turned it off and unplugged it, then rushed it outside and hurled it into the snow. Meanwhile, as I ran, what I'd imagine might have been the little motor rattled around inside the hair dryer's casing like seeds in maracas.

Fortunately for me, I had been holding the dryer away from my hair at the time of the explosion. Otherwise, the sparks would have shot into MY HAIR.

This reinforces a very important lesson I should have learned long ago:

If the universe can do something, anything to thwart my plans, it will. I am never safe; I should never relax. CONSTANT VIGILANCE is necessary in order to ensure my survival from one day to the next.

I also need a new hairdryer. Does anyone know what sort doesn't explode? Because I'm going to Walmart after work, so it would be useful to know. I think my hair looks better when it isn't on fire.

*"Here baby, there mama, everywhere daddy, daddy, HAIR..." Couldn't resist.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


ToBeReMo continues, and I grow further and further behind on my reading list as I make cookies, go to Christmas parties, and try to knit faster than my hands can move.

4. A Northern Light is Jennifer Donnelly's first YA novel. After reading Revolution, I was overwhelmed by the desire to read everything she'd ever written. I had the library order Donnelly's two adult novels, The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose, and I grabbed our copy of A Northern Light. Based on the true story that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, A Northern Light takes place in upstate New York in the time leading up to and immediately following the murder of 20-year-old Grace Brown by her lover, Chester Gillette. Brown had become pregnant and had expected Gillette to marry her. Gillette delayed until finally agreeing that he and Brown should go away together. Brown believed they would be married on the trip. Instead, Gillette took Brown out on a boating trip and killed her.

Now, I hate Dreiser. I hate everything he ever wrote. I hate his books like a sickness. But I loved A Northern Light.

5. The Bards of Bone Plain, by Patricia A. McKillip arrived this week. I had gone to Barnes and Noble last weekend to procure a copy, only to find that BN HADN'T RECEIVED ANY COPIES OF THE BOOK! Added to what I've been calling "The Hush Incident," this was a bit of a disappointment. Bookstores should have books. If they can have thousands of copies of Twilight, they can have a couple copies of each new release and award winners. Right?
Well, they didn't have The Bards of Bone Plain. I promptly went home and ordered it online.

I have the greatest respect for Patricia McKillip. She amazes me. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. I've never admired an author's work as much as I admire hers. I buy each new release within days of its appearance in stores, I scour every used bookstore I come across, looking for her out-of-print titles*, and still I wait for more**.

The bottom line is, I love Patricia A. McKillip. She is my writing role model, my hero. And you should all read her books, now.

I am now savoring The Bards of Bone Plain, trying to stretch out reading it for as long as possible, because I have no idea how long I'll have to wait for her next book.

Needless to say, I have reading to do. Because December...ends. And so does ToBeReMo!

*Ace Fantasy! Penguin! Listen to me: RE-RELEASE ALL PATRICIA A. MCKILLIP'S BOOKS. I mean it. It's reprint time, and for more than what's been reprinted already. Specifically, I need The House on Parchment Street, The Throme of the Erril of Sherril, The Night Gift, and Stepping from the Shadows. That's just four books! That's hardly anything! You could reprint them in your sleep. Or, if you don't feel like going to all that trouble, you can just rustle up copies and mail them to me. That's easy, too!

**I have been able to get every book and reprint released from 1995 to present. That means I did get my hands on books written way back before I knew she existed. I just have trouble finding the novels that were published before I was born. You can't really blame me for not getting those the second they hit shelves. Right?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December is for BOOKS!

November is for novel-writing, January is for mitten-knitting, and December is for reading! This is good news for me because my giant to-be-read stack is now actually three separate stacks, because it kept toppling over. It has also taken over the Library Bag in the backseat of my car, my Kindle, and I have three novels in my "purse" (which is actually more like a backpack, or satchel).
Yes, it is now To Be Read Month, a time when book addicts from around the world grab the first book from their TBR pile and start reading.
You can set your goal anywhere you like*:

Easy: 1-4 books
Moderate: 5-8 books
Hard: 9-10 books
Insane: 11-13 books
Ludicrous: 13-15 books
Sleep Much?: 15+ books

Naturally, I selected the "Sleep Much?" option. Because I wanted a challenge.

Here is the book list so far:

1. Hush by Eishes Chayil, reviewed here. I knew when I read Kelly's review that I had to read this book. Kelly was right. I was hooked immediately. I also cried more times than I'd like to admit. After finishing, I cried for about an hour, because Hush is such a beautiful, tragic, hopeful novel. Read it!

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, I waited for this novel after hearing someone say, and I'm paraphrasing, that if John Green and Maureen Johnson's books had a baby, it would be Anna and the French Kiss. Now, I love John Green's books. And I love Maureen Johnson's books. So instantly, Anna found a place on my TBR list. I had to wait, though, since it's release date was still over a month away. Luckily, December 1st arrived, and I stayed up way too late waiting for it to be delivered to my Kindle. Turns out, Kindle deliveries don't happen right at midnight. At least, not in my time zone. But the next morning, December 2nd, Anna had been officially released. My Kindle downloaded it, and I devoured it. It's like chocolate: sweet, addictive, and it leaves you wanting more. Indulge.

3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly I am notoriously fickle with books. Usually, the most recent book I read is my favorite.** But I haven't become so captivated by a novel since I read The Historian (Elizabeth Kostova) back in 2005.
To give you an idea: When I read The Historian, I turned on my copy of Sarband's Sacred Women, because it went along well with the blend of cultures and religions found in The Historian, and I sat down and read it from cover to cover. I stopped once to eat, but my head was still so caught up in the story that I couldn't respond to people when they tried to talk to me, and I left after only a few mouthfuls of food so I could get back and finish the last 200 pages or so.
I started Revolution at lunchtime yesterday, and the rest of the day is kind of a blank. I know I drove home from work, and I seem to remember doing some knitting and making tikka masala for my work-lunches, all while reading Revolution. To say I loved it would be a gross understatement. Revolution is a masterpiece.

Now I'm reading The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) for Battle of the Books while at work (I have to write trivia questions) and my shiny new ARC of Sean Beaudoin's You Killed Wesley Payne in every spare moment I have.***

*Reading ranges set by Book Addicts! Go visit them!
**If it's actually good. Sometimes I read books I hate.
***Let's face it, The Hobbit is now on the back burner. I have a new SEAN BEAUDOIN novel. I mean, have you READ Fade to Blue? I read that book in a state of awe and suspended disbelief. Nothing about Fade to Blue should work--especially not the twenty-some pages of graphic novel Beaudoin breaks into halfway through the book. But it does work. It more than works. People should write essays on Fade to Blue, on the author's involvement in the text, on the variations in viewpoint and gender roles and perception and reality and how the novel relates to the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and--Foucault...FOUCAULT! *faints*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ways to Make Me Hate You: Holiday Edition

Last week, I volunteered to do a reading for Advent at my church. This week, I got a copy of the reading--a script, if you will--and skimmed it. What I found was clearly meant to be read by a mother or father, remembering the joy and overwhelming sense of God's love they felt when they held their newborn child. I could tell by the way the page had been shellacked with white-out to replace "baby girl" or "baby boy" with "baby brother."

I looked over at my baby brother, who is about two years younger than I am, and told him, "All I felt when I held you for the first time was a sense of bizarre fascination."

"I tend to inspire that feeling," Paul replied.

Really--I remember thinking, "This kid is HUGE!" Infant-Paul was as big as I was at the time. I remember wondering, "When will he do something? He's just lying there, staring!" And I recall concluding, "This is boring. Time for Care Bears!" Then I got out my Care-a-Lot Playset and all my Care Bears and played.

In short, Tiny Laura wondered what the big deal was about having a baby brother. Thankfully, by the time Tiny Paul was mobile, Tiny Laura had realized what having a sibling was all about: Having someone to bring you things when you're too lazy to do it yourself. Younger siblings will also kill bugs for you and make you soup when you're sick, if you're nice to them from time to time*.

Since I would have been lying and talking about God in the same sentence, I had to opt out of doing the Advent reading. After that, I was depressed. Then I wondered how it could be that it isn't even December yet and ALREADY I have no holiday spirit. Suddenly I realized why.

It's YOUR fault.

Well, maybe not you specifically, but it certainly isn't MY fault. I woke up with holiday spirit, people. It was there. Holiday spirit doesn't just vanish for no reason. Other people are the reason. But some of you are innocent, and to ensure that you only accept blame if you deserve it, I have compiled a list of all the things that make me angry, vengeful, or bitter.**

If you are shopping and you spy a relative or friend and choose to stop right there in the store and have a nice chat, then I hate you. Why? It's not because you've decided to discuss the hideous tumors recently removed from your mutual friend Gladys, it's because you're standing there, forcing everyone who walks through the bookstore to walk around you while simultaneously preventing me from grabbing the book I came to buy. Also, I hate you MORE because you've chosen to ignore my polite "excuse me" six or seven times already, because you and your conversation are clearly so much more important than I am.

Another quick way to earn my eternal loathing is by ignoring basic rules of personal space. Say we are standing in line. I expect you to have to reach out your arm slightly in order to push me. If you're using your body to move the line forward like a linebacker, clad in a hand-made holiday sweatshirt and too much Love's Baby Soft, you're too close. Personal space is important. In fact, I can promise you that pressing against me will not make the line go faster. It will make me go slower. I only look for exact change when people like you are breathing on me.

Debit and credit card machines not working? That's too bad. But if you know you can't accept card-based transactions and still choose not to put up a sign, then force me and my fellow customers to wait for over 40 minutes in line before we find out we can't pay you for our Mod Podge and adhesive-backed crystals, I hate you. Yes, that happened to me, on Black Friday at JoAnn's in Kokomo. I outed you, JoAnn's. See? I went in to get basic holiday crafting supplies, was greeted by a volunteer at the door, did my shopping, waited in line for over 40 minutes, and then found out I'd waited for nothing, because JoAnn's wasn't able to process any credit or debit card transactions. Luckily, my mother had cash. Otherwise, I would have squewerd Bitter JoAnn's Lady, who wasn't just without a computer that worked, she had no sense of decency, either.***

If you are my father, and you make a Christmas list filled with items that are Very Expensive or Irish whistles or both, I want to murder you. Yep. That one pretty much explains itself. Dad has more whistles than he needs, and at this point, after all these years, I'm sick of listening to them. As for the Expensive ideas...I just had my gallbladder sucked out of my body via four tiny holes in my stomach. I'm betting that will be pricey, and I'm betting my insurance won't cover it all. So...let's try and keep Christmas ideas affordable, unless you want me to go out into the yard, find pebbles, scrub them, paint them, affix googly eyes to them, and name the rocks things like Gabby Gallstone and her spinster sister, Gerty Gallstone, and their friend, Gabriel Gallstone IV, MP. Then I will make you a paper mache habitat**** for your new friends, wrap them up, and let you open them on Christmas morning.

Refusing to make Christmas plans until the last minute will make me want to slaughter you and roast you on a spit in place of the Christmas ham or turkey. I want to hang out over Christmas! I do! But when you refuse to nail down a day for the plans to take place, I get into trouble. See, I have work and family and friends who also want to see me. As much as I'd like to cancel all my holiday celebrations when you call me at the last minute, it isn't going to happen. I will also want to kill you if you tell me you want to do something on a particular day, then never call me back and/or call me when you're at home.*****

See? Those aren't too hard to avoid, are they? If you do, your holiday season will be filled with a Happy Laura who sings carols as she walks around the department store and knits you a hat when she notices you're getting cold! If you don't, though, you will force my friends to endure Scrooge Laura, who will sit on their respective couches while they wrap presents, scowling at Bing Crosby as he sings about snow.

*I cannot guarantee that all siblings will behave as mine does. Your sibling may hit you repeatedly and steal your clothes, wreck your car, and leave wet towels on the bathroom floor. If this happens, lock your door and practice your right cross.

**Naturally, these are only holiday-related. If I wrote an all-encompassing list of things that make me angry, vengeful, or bitter, I would be writing it for years. I would die working on the list, at the ripe age of 116. Someone would come to check on me and find my fingers curled over the keyboard, the scowl still etched into my face.

***I'm not overreacting, I promise. She was NASTY. She treated me like it was my fault her computer wasn't working. But I don't control crashing computers, even though I wish I could!

****I'm envisioning a flesh-toned rendering of an English country village, except the river would be a lurid green color.

*****This hasn't happened yet, but, before the holiday season is over, it WILL.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I Do When I Can't Sleep at Night

1. Lie awake and stare at the same spot on my wall I've stared at since I last rearranged my room, ten (or more) years ago.

2. Read!

3. Watch TV shows on my laptop--usually funny ones or stupid ones or addictive ones (tonight it was America's Next Top Model).

4. Think about how sucky my upcoming morning/day will be when I've not had enough sleep to have the energy, or the...consciousness, I need for living it.

5. I do a lot of #4.

6. I think about how I could solve all the problems in my life, if only I just followed certain steps (see step #4).

7. I wonder what I will do over the weekend (see step #4).

8. I consider getting up and making a snack, because it must be time for another meal, right? It's halfway through the night!'s like the lunch of nighttime that I should be having now. (And, for the record, the incredibly flawed last sentence, the one before THIS sentence, sounds really funny in my head. Try saying it out loud in various ways, maybe it will to you as well.)

9. I start singing songs from The Sound of Music in my head. Rather, I sing one song, "My Favorite Things," because the rhythm (to me) reminds me of the rocking of a cradle, and is soothing. Usually, it has a lullaby effect and I am able to doze off. This worked all through Europe, when I discovered the travel alarm clock my friend Stacy brought with her worked like a metronome for that particular song. It was magical, like a mini white-noise machine, only less annoying, because in my head it was music.

10. I read blogs I usually overlook, because I have too many blogs on my reading list to keep up with them all, no matter what I do.

My new FAVORITE thing to do on sleepless nights (other than stalking Twitter), is a very fun thing that some of you, those with e-readers, might want to try out.

I go to Amazon, I head into the Kindle store. Once there, I look up an author's name, a book title, or just skim new releases. I request a sample of every book I see, especially YA titles. When I wake up in the morning, I turn on my Kindle's wireless connection and let the samples download. Tonight, I'm trying out work by Margo Lanagan and Diana Peterfreund, as well as How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan--Oh and just now I requested one for The Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford. (Doesn't this new option really beat #4-7?)

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dad, meet the Yard. Yard, this is Dad. Forgive him for slamming into you like that.

Here is the situation as it was explained to me.

Dad went with the rest of the Men's Prayer Breakfast crowd to go put a roof on someone's house. Things proceeded normally until our friend Jeff started wobbling as if he was about to fall.

Dad, ever the hero, tried to "save" Jeff (who I'm sure didn't need saving, as he is a professional Home Builder Guy and owns his own power tools).

In his heroic attempt, Dad stood on some loose sheeting and proceeded to--it was described to me as "surf" BACKWARDS down the slope of the roof and off the edge.

He landed, certainly breaking his wrist. He may or may not need surgery to repair his wrist--he used it to "catch" himself, but good luck catching yourself when you shoot off a roof like The Silver Surfer. They are doing x-rays of his lower back to make sure he didn't throw his back out too.

When asked about what exactly was going through his head, Dad said, "I thought Laura was getting too much attention, so..."

(I think he meant it as a joke.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hopefully the LAST UPDATE!

My surgery was a huge success! They went in laparoscopically, took out my evil gallbladder, stitched and glued me back together, and sent me to recovery. The surgery started at 2:00 p.m., and Mom was able to call everyone up and tell them I was doing great by around 4:00, while I was waking up from the anesthesia.

My first question upon waking up? "Do we have exit polling yet?" Yes, I love politics. No, there were no good numbers. Yet.

They sent me home at about 11:00 p.m. I slept. I spent the whole of Wednesday sleeping, for the most part and keeping up with the WGCC via Twitter. Today I woke up on my own at five, ate cereal, went back to sleep, woke up again at ten-ish, and have been up ever since.

My coworker, April, came by with lovely flowers from the library. I feel totally spoiled to work with such amazing people! Thanks, everyone!

Paul picked up the last bit of yarn I need to finish my shawl and today I am binding off while watching Castle, season 2 and eating.

See, I can eat now. Without feeling sick. Already! This is wonderful.

And that is your update: I am feeling loads better and can't wait to get some Biaggi's! Until then, I will be knitting and wearing my French Press Slippers, which are warm as toast and don't fall off when I walk. That is important when you are stitched together on the inside. THANK YOU, MELYNDA for such awesome slippers! I thought I loved them before--now I love them even more.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. I go to the hospital and then they take out my gallbladder. They can have it. I don't want it.

Before I go, though, I am going to VOTE. This is very important. Plus, I think I get extra America Points for going in to vote right before surgery.

I may go silent for a bit, but that does not mean you should freak out. Quite the opposite. It just means I am DRUGGED and SLEEPING IT OFF.

If you are Twitter, my mother or brother will tell you how I am alive. If you are Jennifer, my mother will call you.

Until then, I will be enjoying my new yarn from Madelinetosh's Magnolia Society Yarn Club, which is very pretty, and typing an alarming amount for NaNoWriMo in a mad attempt to still win despite the hurdles I must overcome.


Today I have a doctor's appointment with...A SURGEON!

I still have not been told whether or not I will actually be having surgery, but I think the fact that I'm being sent to a surgeon and not some other sort of doctor means yes, I will be having surgery. But don't quote me on that until I know FOR SURE.

Dad came home yesterday, and I broke the news to him. I also informed him we would not be telling my grandparents until AFTER the potential surgery is done, because it will be too much for my grandmother to cope with and she will freak out, finally ending with her coming to my hospital room and saying, "Are you going to DIE?" and "This is really traumatic for us, Laura. How could you do this to us?" "This" was endometriosis, resulting in surgery to remove it (Yes, Grandma, I did plan to have rogue cells leave my uterus and chart new territory through my abdominal region. I just woke up one day and planned it.).*

I made Dad promise not to have the entire church rush over to visit me, because that makes me a complete nervous wreck. Imagine a room full of people staring at you for an hour. That happened during the last surgery. It was kind of scary. But after the maybe-surgery, I will throw the doors open and everyone can come visit! I just don't want to go into the operating room (maybe) in a blind panic. Social situations do that to me. That is why I am not making a huge deal about this in person. I'm not calling people and saying, "Woe is me!" I'm just going on with life and if people want to know, they can come here. That is why blogs are WONDERFUL.

My health could not have been at all helped by my discovery that I did not have enough yarn to cast off my Orchid Thief Shawlette. I only had ONE ROW to go! Honestly, I was more nervous about finishing that last row without running out of yarn than I am about surgery. What does that say about me? Clearly, I am a Knitter.

That is your Laura Health Update for the day.

*Those are exact quotes and no, she wasn't joking.

Friday, October 29, 2010

SICK LAURA UPDATE.....................

That was supposed to look like it was from the top of an old news bulletin, but it's on a blog so it doesn't.


As we all know, when Laura's body falls apart, it does it completely. I didn't just have endometriosis, I had ADVANCED endometriosis and am now half an ovary short of a pair. I didn't just develop allergies...I DEVELOPED them, and asthma to boot.

Most of you know I've been throwing up and throwing up for...months. Rachael will know how long.

I went to the doctor, he said, "It's severe acid reflux!"


Saturday night I was struck with a violent, traumatic attack which led me to spend my entire night throwing up. About every hour, I woke up and ran to the bathroom. It was...unpleasant. Sadly, it was followed up with a second bout on Monday night.

I had been to the doctor early Monday morning. He'd been concerned about gallbladder problems, along with dozens of other possibilities, so he'd scheduled me for an ultrasound on Wednesday morning.

I fasted (no sweat, since I kept throwing up anyway), I went, I had the ultrasound. All the while, the woman running the machine kept...sighing. And she kept making me roll over. And then more sighing.

I might not be an expert, but sighing usually means...something bad.

Well, the results took ages. I was told I'd have them Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, Thursday afternoon, Friday morning--but I finally had to harass the hospital to give the results over so I'd know what was going on.


I have gallstones.

And something they described as "sludge" too, which sounds just...delightful.

Basically, what is happening, is that the sludge is keeping things from going where they ought to, until everything backs up and I have a vomit-fest.

My research over the past few days made me pretty confident it was gallstones, so I'm not in shock. Nor am I freaked out, scared, or in denial.

The specialist is on vacation (wouldn't that be nice). When he returns, he'll take a peek at the ultrasound results and decide my fate.

I'll give you more updates as I get them!

The Spider Story

Certain individuals involved in the Saturday night Skype conversation of the WGCC area already familiar with this story. But, it's funny. So I don't care.

Saturday, I was feeling gross. As I tried to avoid throwing up for the thousandth day in a row, I looked across my room and saw...IT.

A spider, easily the size of my hand, stared back at me. It twitched its slender little spider-legs.

Naturally, I did what any girl with a younger brother (or older, I suppose) would do.

"PAUL!" I called. He came. Paul does that.

"It's looking at me," I said. "It wants to eat my eyes right out of their sockets!" I then pointed at the floor by Paul's feet.


"There!" I said. "By the door frame! Get your SHOES."

Paul got his shoes. He does that, too.

By this point, the spider was onto my plan. He skittered around the corner to hide behind my door. Then, Paul returned with The Shoe.

What followed was the most pathetic attempt at spider-killing I have ever seen. That spider totally saw him coming. It raced around the door and scuttled under my dresser. My oak dresser. The one that weighs 4000 pounds.

"Looks like you have a new friend," Paul said.

"This is your fault!" I insisted. "We have to get him. He's going to wait for me to sleep so that he can come and eat my face. He'll eat it right off!"

"The spider isn't going to eat your face, Laura," Paul sighed.

Clearly, he was wrong. He had not seen the venomous look on the spider's face. I had. Plus, his legs were, like, longer than my fingers! That spider was easily as big as my head!

"I know!" I announced, grabbing the shoe. Lying on my stomach, I could see the spider looking back at me from under the dresser. I shoved Paul's shoe under the dresser. It didn't so much fit.

I darted across the room, grabbed my longest knitting needles, and tried to use it to herd the spider out from under the dresser. I think I saw it roll its eyes. There was no other choice.

I single-handedly moved the giant dresser, while Paul, still attempting to explain to me that the spider was "hiding because it's afraid" and "unable to tell you have a face" and "not interested in eating human flesh," looked on.

The spider, now in the open, tried once more to flee. I smacked it repeatedly with THIS magazine, which I had purchased earlier in the week because I'd seen Easy A with Jennifer and think Emma Stone would make an awesome Clary, should Hollywood make Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series into movies.


Now trapped in a battle of wills, the spider and I wrestled for survival. Finally, I hurled Paul's Shoe onto the spider, grabbed him, and forced him to stomp the shoe until the spider had expired.

We were safe.

I would wake up with my nose, eyelids, cheekbones, lips, and chin all where they had been when I'd gone to sleep. Why wouldn't I wake up were a spider to start eating me? Venom, that's why. They can numb things. Ask Bilbo and the dwarves.

Paul disposed of Shelob. Then I started to wonder...

Had the spider really been afraid of me? Paul said it was. And it had been hiding. Maybe it had a spider family, and when it got home from work, it would put on a tiny waistcoat with eight arm holes and dozens of little buttons all down the front, with a smart little cap it wore on it's head. Or maybe it was a Mommy Spider, who had tea parties and wore an eight-armed dress with a little mob cap! Maybe it's thousands of little spider babies were all waiting quietly for Mommy to come home, and she NEVER WOULD.*

At that point, I began to cry.

And that is my Spider Story.

*It might bear mentioning that I spent the remainder of the night throwing up again and again and again, once every hour, as punishment from God for destroying Mommy Spider and leaving her children to starve.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

BEHOLD! A post I wrote and forgot to post until today!

For the past...month? I have been working tirelessly with Bailey (Remember Bailey? Find her HERE) to bring you something EPIC.

That is to say, we have started a book blog, The Magic Hoodie Literary Society. And I am quite fond of it.


Needless to say, everything pretty about the book blog was Bailey's work. She made the blue pretty, she made the picture go where it was supposed to go and got us those nifty follow buttons for Twitter...she has skills. She even gave us little tabs so you can search for reviews by name AND find out more about us, though why you'd want to find out more about me, I'll never know.

Together, we lost valuable sleep to bring you our first joint book review, in which we discuss the merits of the book Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. In the final hours before launch, I had just finished watching Ghostbusters for the first time, and I pressed buttons and made Bailey unhappy.

I don't know what I did, but I'm sure it couldn't have been good...

I'll let you read that review while I go off and write another. Two more, since I just finished another book!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Shameless Plug

No, I'm not selling anything. So don't freak out. There aren't any sweepers, no shoe polish, and I certainly am not offering you magazine subscriptions or cheap prescription medications.

But my friend Bailey, who I met on Twitter when the stars aligned just right, allowing our paths to cross, has moved over here to Blogger! It was a peer-pressure WIN! Bailey and I are writing an As-Yet-Unnamed Book Blog together. I will keep you appraised to the book blog situation , so you can read books because We Told You To. Bailey is also the only reason I 1. Found a dress that fits me and 2. Found a necklace to wear with said dress. Also, she lives in Texas.

On her new blog, Bailey will tell us about her very exciting life, and she will tell us what to wear. Now, some of you might not think you'll need that kind of advice, but trust me, you do. Bailey has been dressing me for several weeks now and my life has been changed for the better. I mean, a dress that fits! You didn't see me brandish the dress at my computer monitor, but I DID.

You see, through the power of Twitter, Bailey (along with Hannah and other Twitter-folk) has gone with me to the mall on several occasions. Bailey works at American Eagle, so I naturally took full advantage of this by whining to her via Twitter about my needs for various articles of clothing. And through the power of Twitter, the crazy group of writers we have assembled now all have identical dresses. I bet the dot dress looks good on all the ladies of WGCC too.

And, Bailey, you should know: I bought a cardigan Saturday that is almost-identical to the cardigan you're wearing in your Tuesday video. I bought it to match the dot dress. The only difference? Mine has ruffles in the front. That's it. We really are doppelgangers...

Because I was bored

When I am bored with my life, I have one solution that brings change to the doldrums, gives me a bounce in my step, and brightens my perspective.

I cut my hair.

It's way cheaper than therapy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here we go again...

I went to Walmart on my lunch break yesterday, only to hear someone yell my name. Two someones, actually.

My parents were there, having just stocked up on the essentials (you know, chips, oreos, bread, milk, lots of Kleenex, dog and cat food, the usual stuff). My mother instantly said, "Laura, why don't you go show your father the laptops! I'll put this in the car and meet you in electronics!"

That was when I should have run away. But I didn't.

"I don't want to spend too much," Dad insisted as we walked across the sprawling building.

"How much is too much?" I asked, falling for his ploy, every second bringing me toward my inevitable fate: shopping with Dad.

My dad is the WORST shopper on the face of the planet. He once took over an hour choosing between two identical watch bands for his watch. We were in a tiny K-Mart, and all there was for me to do was stare at the glass cases while Dad made the sales associate want to kill him, kill herself, or both. Finally I strode up, selected the least expensive of the two, and forced him to buy it. The next day, he went back to the same store, returned the first watchband, and bought the other one.

He's not just indecisive. He HATES spending any kind of money on himself, especially on what he considers non-essentials. He'll buy forty packs of plain white undershirts that fill two drawers in his dresser. He'll even buy so many socks that they fill up his drawer so tightly it can't close. He'll buy clothes, but he wants to get them Walmart-clearance-style: three dollars a dress shirt. These shirts are as ugly as sin, but the pride he has in finding such a good deal outweighs the inconvenience of startling plaids and misshapen sleeves.

What he won't buy are the things he'd use the most. These things would make his life so much easier, but he considers them an extravagance and worries what the people at our church will think of him if he wears, say, Merrell shoes instead of knock-offs. This is a man with flat feet--completely flat! He gets knee and back pain in bad shoes! But his suffering is, in his mind, worth it if it means he can fit in. And by that, he means not be noticed as having anything "different."

Mom and I have gotten into the habit of cleaning out his wardrobe without his knowledge, getting rid of the worn out rag-like shirts he buys at Goodwill by the dozen ($.50) and some of the billions of socks (the ones with baggy elastic that aren't quite white anymore or others with holes in the toes). We then go to Elder Beerman or some other such place during a big sale, and buy him well-made shirts on clearance because he'll like them if we show him we saved lots of money on them.

It's the only way. I mean, family vacations (the two we had when I was a child) consisted mainly of eating off the dollar menu (which also meant McDonald's, the only restaurant with an established dollar menu at the time), driving hundreds of miles with no air conditioning, music, or other form of entertainment (while Paul slept in the seat next to me, his head smacking against the window of the station wagon with each sharp turn or pothole) until we finally reached our destination: a woods nearly identical to the one on our property but with no running water, flash flooding, leaking tents, and, worst of all, centipedes.

Once our campsite had been set up, Dad would take us to a grocery store where we would buy provisions like spray cheese and crackers, which we would eat for every meal while Dad marched us down four mile trails, turned us around, and lead us back to camp. Years later, I discovered that the trails he chose weren't really the length the map claimed they were, because the map didn't account for the length of the trail, just the distance between the beginning and end of said trail computed as if the trail were a straight line. In truth, we walked far longer, because the trails wound around hills with twists and curves so we didn't fall off a cliff or get bored and so that the parks and recreations people didn't have to build bridges over waterways and whatnot. It was lucky we had our great souvenirs to entertain us, otherwise we'd have succumbed to depression. These were, of course, ROCKS that we picked up off the ground, named, and built habitats for with moss and twigs.

From these trips I learned: 1. Never go on a vacation with Dad. 2. Never go on a vacation with Dad. 3. Never go on a vacation with Dad. 4. If you MUST go on a vacation with Dad, due to family insistence, obligation, blackmail, etc., be sure to (A) Bring your own money to buy all sundries you find desirable, like books or a poncho or REAL FOOD (B) Book a hotel reservation with Mom several weeks in advance, then surprise Dad by handing him directions to said hotel as we pile into the car or (C) Bring iPod and turn music up loud enough to mask sound of road-trip and Dad, then sleep in the car or knit until your hands cramp up. Luckily for me, we haven't had a vacation together since Dad started preaching, and that was back when I was 11.

Is it clear that, though I love my father, I do not trust his judgement regarding needs vs. wants? Because I do love him, and his dollar menu ways. He's quirky, but then, who isn't? But everybody has a breaking point, and Dad seems to be on a mission to find mine, with shopping and computer instruction (we'll get to that) as his main tools.

How much was too much? How much did Dad want to spend on his new computer?

"Oh, I could spend about three hundred," he said as we strode past the white undershirt aisle. "I wouldn't want to get an expensive one. I'm not going to spend five hundred, or something. But I want it with keys that are big enough for my hands."


"You know you aren't going to get a laptop for that, right Dad?" I asked. "They're more expensive. You'll have to just get a netbook.

"But those have tiny keys!" he insisted. "I want one with a keyboard I can use."

"So you want a laptop," I said. "You aren't going to find one of those for three hundred dollars. Unless you want it to not work from the moment you open the package and you want to have to replace it after the first year."

"No," he said. "I don't want to have to buy two!"

"Mine cost around seven hundred," I reported. "I've had it for three years now, and it still works wonderfully. I made sure to get one I could keep for at least four years, hopefully longer."

Dad nodded, this he approved of.

We reached electronics and I showed him the laptops. The first problem was that Walmart had mixed the netbooks in with the laptops and arranged them all by price, something that confused Dad beyond belief. He immediately began to look at each price tag.

"I could get this one!"

"That's a netbook, Dad," I said. "Look at that tiny keyboard. I thought you wanted bigger keys."

"I do!"

"Then look at laptops."

He stared. I explained how much memory would be good for him, how he should make sure to get one that wasn't assembled on a truck-bed in the middle of the desert by a guy with a glue-gun, some duct tape, and occasional teeth, but he didn't listen. I then stopped and just let him point at netbooks because they were cheap.

"You can get a netbook," I said. "But first you need to think about how you'll use it. Do you want to download a lot of software, like Office or other programs? Do you want to save a lot to the computer? And do you want to put music on it?"

"I want to do those things," he said. "I want to put Irish music on it."

"Okay," I said. "So you want a computer that can store more than a netbook can."

This was when Mom arrived. I repeated everything I told Dad, but unlike Dad, Mom listened. I then pointed out a few with good qualities. Then I told her that Dad wouldn't need the best laptop in the world, because he wouldn't be using it for hard-core gaming like Paul uses his.

"This one," I said. "Has more memory than my laptop, which is fantastic, and it's an HP like mine. I love my HP. They're all we use at work, too."

"Good!" said Mom. "Let's get it!"

You should know that every major computer purchase made by Mom in the years we've had computers in the house have been impulse buys. It's a good thing Paul and I know what we're talking about, because she'd have ended up with absolute junk otherwise.

"No!" Dad interrupted, catching Mom's arm. "We can't afford it!"

"Yes we can," Mom said. She does our accounting. She shrugged off his arm.

"JUL!" Dad almost-shouted. "We can't afford it!"

He continued to say this, growing in volume with each repetition. People began to stare. I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances, the only thing that didn't involve me telling my father to behave himself in public. I fled.

I went and stared at the DVDs while Mom talked to the sales guy. I perused the CDs while the sales guy pulled out the computer and while she payed for it.

Then I went back to work.

Dad, I thought, would be happy with his purchase in about six to 12 months. He would continue to remind Mom that it was a lot of money to spend on a laptop, and she would ignore him. He would have crippling buyers remorse and would come to me time and time again for reassurance.

"This is a good computer, right?" He would ask. "So-and-So said such-and-such thing about it. Are they right? Should we have gotten a different one? Did I need more memory? Is this processor any good?" He wouldn't know what either of those terms meant, but he would repeat them.

I would soothe him, as I did when someone criticized his Irish whistle playing abilities, or the new whistle he'd purchased.

"Do you like the computer?" I would say. "Do you use it all the time?"

"Yes," he would reply.

"Does it do everything you want it to?" I would continue.

"Yes..." Dad would say, looking forlorn in my doorway.

"Then So-and-So doesn't know what he is talking about. You're the one who knows what you need in a computer. So-and-so isn't using it, is he?"

"No. He isn't," he would pause. "Good. I'm glad. Thanks. I knew it was a good computer. I just wanted to check. I don't want to have a bad one."

Worse than that, though, would be the computer training.

Dad can use a computer. He's a smart guy. He can figure things out. He just thinks he can't. Also, he is afraid of them.

A few months after I started working at the library, I got a phone call.

"Laura?!" Dad said. "I need your help!"

I envisioned something serious, like Mom or Paul being ill, Dad being ill, or a vast zombie horde staggering across the state leaving scores of victims in their wake.

"How do I copy and paste a website into an e-mail?" he demanded.

"You highlight the text you want to highlight and then click "copy" and then go to where you want to put whatever it is, and click "paste" to put it there."

"Wait a minute," he said. "What?"

"You click to copy it--"

"Where do I click?!" he said. "I don't see a copy button!"

We were on the phone for twenty minutes. Once I'd finally gotten him to manage to copy the address he wanted, I told him to paste it where he wanted the address to go.

"I can't!" he said. "I left the e-mail!"

"Why?" I said. "I thought you were going to paste into the e-mail."

"I am! But I left there to copy the other address!"

"Well, go back to your--"

"I can't! Now my post is gone, because I left!"

Then he hung up on me.

Now Dad thinks he cannot copy or paste anything, anywhere, despite the fact that this is a complete and utter lie. There is your back story. Now you will understand what happened next.

I returned home with a new book, gave Paul his birthday present very early because he'd wanted a used game that is super-rare that I managed to find randomly and buy, but if it doesn't work, it would have to go back within seven days for him to get a refund, and his birthday is more than seven days from now. It's almost two weeks away.

I went back to my room, dumped my new book (Zombies vs Unicorns, a short story compilation edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier) on the bed, and kicked off my shoes.

"Laura..." I heard Dad call.

He was in his room, sitting on the little blue chair by the bed, bent over double to read the screen of his computer, which was sitting on the bed rather than, you know, on his...lap.

"What, Dad?"

"I need you to teach me the stuff," he said. "You've gotta show me how to put music on here. And you've gotta favorite iTunes, so I can find it."

"I can't do that yet," I said. "You don't have iTunes yet. And I can't favorite iTunes. Do you remember why we can't do that?"

[long pause]

"Because it's a computer program, Dad. It's like Word. I can't favorite Word for you to use, and iTunes works the same way. It's on your computer, remember?"

We'd had that conversation several times before.

"Okay," he said. "Let's get music."

I took his computer and started adding the various Adobe things you need to run the website that lets you download iTunes. Next up would have been Quicktime, which you need to download iTunes too, which is kind of stupid, when you think about it, because iTunes comes with Quicktime like a package deal.

"You need a password, right? For my iTunes?"


Dad vanished. I fought his computer some more, trying to get rid of this HP Advisor dock thing that was taking up space and slowing everything down for no reason.

Then he reappeared, right before I was about to start mutter one long line of swears in various languages, cursing the computer and its HP Advisor. Stupid thing.

"Here," he said, holding out a fragment of paper. "This is it. Wait. I thought my password was *********. It is, isn't it?"

"I don't know, Dad."

"Here," he said.

"I don't need that."

"But you need it, to get onto iTunes."

"I'm not going to buy music, Dad. I am downloading it."

"But you need the password."

"No, I don't. I don't need that to download it," I repeated. "You do, for later. You need to keep that. But I don't need it."

"Oh," he said. He put away the paper.

By the time he had returned, I had finally finished another update, but I was tired what with the measly two hours of sleep I'd had the night before.

"I'll get you the rest of the downloads you need tomorrow and Wednesday," I said.

"Wait. Wait, you've gotta teach me how to copy and paste."

"How have you used a computer for this long without learning that? You use it in Word, don't you?"

"Yes," he replied. "But it's not the same. On Chiff and Fipple, you put an address in the forum box, and it turns blue. I need to know how to make the letters blue."

He meant how to post a link. Which, we all know, is automatic when you type in something like an e-mail or an address.

"It works exactly the same way. If you can copy and paste in Word, you can copy and paste anywhere."

I pulled up his homepage. I showed him how to highlight the text he wanted to copy, how to copy it, and then how to paste it. Then I opened Word and I typed: "I MUST LEARN HOW TO COPY AND PASTE BECAUSE IT IS AN ESSENTIAL SKILL I SHOULD HAVE LEARNED ON OUR FIRST HOME COMPUTER BACK IN 1996."

Then I instructed him to practice copying and pasting that phrase. Then I made him try this one: MY DAUGHTER IS THE BEST IT NON-PROFESSIONAL I HAVE EVER AND WILL EVER MEET. I AM GRATEFUL TO HER FOR HER PATIENCE AND EXPERTISE.

And let's face it. If he can't manage to learn how to copy and paste, and he can't understand that copying and pasting is the same in everything Windows and Non-Windows because if it wasn't, computer users everywhere would have spontaneous psychotic breaks and go after Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and whoever else happened to be in their paths. If Dad can't figure out how to handle a simple copy and paste, after having and using a computer both at home and at work daily for over ten years, I don't know what to do. It's like the Year of Power Point all over again, only this time, he doesn't have the luxury of the I've-Never-Used-This-Program-Before Excuse to fall back on.

Some of you might suggest that I write out instructions so he can look at them later if he needs them. I have done that. That's what the little paper with his password for iTunes had on the back. Has he ever looked at that paper? No. How do I know? He didn't even know his own password. If he doesn't know that, he hasn't used iTunes without me. Even once.

But he has a surprise coming. If he asks me one more copy and paste question, I am signing him up for a basic computer skills class faster than he can say "dollar menu."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why am I awake right now?

The purpose of this post is 1. to complain (always the first and foremost motivation for my actions) 2. to kill time while I wait for my sedative to work and 3. to inform you of a problem I have that is driving me crazy.

I can't sleep! It is very annoying and there is no real reason behind it, beyond what I will explain in a moment. No caffeine enters my body, except in the form of chocolate and sweet tea, neither of which have passed through my lips today! I have had no caffeine! And I am still awake.

This is particularly annoying, because I was so sick last week, I had to miss WAY more work than I wanted to. I was in the fetal position, sipping water, all week while I prayed that I wouldn't suddenly stop being able to drink water too, and land in the hospital with dehydration. That's how bad my stomach was. VERY bad. I couldn't knit; I couldn't even read anything.

Well, now that the shiny blue pills the doctor gave me have begun to work their fancy magics, I am able to sit, stand, drink more than just the water, and EAT. I am happy about all of those things, but the thing I am happiest about is that I get to go back to work!

I am THRILLED. I missed leaving the house, I missed my coworkers, I missed the books and the patrons. I missed it all!

But now I cannot sleep, and that will make it harder to go back, because in addition to the weakness I have left over, I will be exhausted as well. Not fun.

Sedative? Kind of working now.

The reason I cannot sleep is very simple. I am nervous.

I don't know if any of the rest of you get this, but when I have missed something, anything, and am now going back to do said thing, I get nervous.

*pause while Laura snatches a fly out of the air and disposes of it*

How come no one is ever around to see that kind of cool? I want to know!

I blame my heightened sensitivity to stimuli, caused by this nervousness.

Because I have my father's genes and because I was raised in a never-disappoint-anyone-ever household, I don't just get a little nervous. I get full-blown waves of stomach-churning anxiety, and I have had enough stomach-churning lately.

There was a time when I had this level of anxiety all the time. Well, on a good day, I had this much, on a bad day, I had a lot more. But those days, thankfully, are over.

A person becomes anxious for one reason: Your brain is telling your body that something bad is about to happen, and your body reacts by flooding your system with adrenaline, making you go into fight-or-flight mode. Right now, my brain is telling my body that we need to run from that giant carnivorous dinosaur over there in the corner, lest it bring about the end of Laura. Problem? There is no dinosaur.

So I have all that adrenaline for NO REASON. If this happened in the day, I would run about and get a lot of work done, distracting myself from the problem. It, however, is not day. It is night. And I cannot run the vacuum cleaner at night, nor can I throw in laundry or rip up the carpet in the kitchen. I am totally out of luck.

The one thing that makes all this worse is thinking about it while lying in bed, as awake as it is possible for one human being to be. It might also make it worse for me to, say, actually meet up with something that DID want to eat me, like a tiger or a Kodiak bear. But we don't get many of those in this area of Indiana.

Instead, I turn on a tiny light and I do something that usually makes me fall asleep. Since I have no term papers to write, no essays on a giant text to flesh out before I turn them in, mere hours from now, I am left writing to you. I cannot knit, because it keeps me awake. Television doesn't help, because I tend to watch shows that are exciting, filled with psychopaths and strange creatures bursting out of the repair guy's torso. The book I am reading has the hallmark of being exciting, and finding a boring book would be a surefire way to get my brain working even harder than it already is, making sleep all the more impossible.

So here I am.

Not sleeping.

Thinking about what it will be like to walk into the library tomorrow and see everyone, and reminding myself that my coworkers are highly unlikely to draw and quarter me when they see that I have lost over ten pounds in one week. That's right, folks. Ten pounds. The only consolation? That's a lot of Biaggi's I can enjoy in the future.

I'm going to go look at yarn now. Have a happy Monday, everybody!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going to the doctor

My doctor can roar like a Wookiee.

It's true. Plus, he knows how much I love Star Wars, so he'll see me from across the waiting room before I see him and randomly roar like Chewbacca seeing Han Solo in Jabba's jail cell, and I'll know he's about to cure me of whatever plight I've picked up this week.

Can you tell I was a sickly child? Well, now I am a sickly ADULT.

I went in today and had vampiric* amounts of blood siphoned away after being poked and prodded with various implements.

The results:

1. I am not dying. This is considered good news by many parties, including myself.

2. I am likely not about to go from "not dying" to "dying" on the Life-O-Meter. That is also good news.

3. Blood taken from me is being sent to another place, where other tests will be run on it, in hope of discovering if Something Serious is wrong, like gall bladder issues or IBS. However, this is less likely than it being All Dad's Fault, which I will explain in a bit.

4. I have shiny blue pills that will, perhaps cure me. If, that is, my stomach complaints are caused by my father's Fail genes. See, Dad has acid reflux issues, as well as all kinds of other issues, many of which are mental. Sure, I diagnosed all of those, but the diagnosis is sound. If the shiny pills work, I get the dual benefit of Health and the Pleasure of Blaming Dad.

That is where the funny starts.

My doctor said, "Okay, take these, and if you start feeling wonderful, it's because of that weak Y chromosome of yours."

*pauses while blog figures out why that qualifies as an MD Fail*

"Doctor," I said, "I think it will be hard to blame my Y chromosome. Being as I do not have one. But perhaps you mean I should blame the suckier of my X chromosomes? The weak and sorry-looking one I got from my father?"

Then, all the nurses, gathered around the Closet of Sample Medicines Worth More than Your House and Mine Put Together, laughed at my doctor. Then his Official Nurse came out from her Place of Authority, noticed that he had not marked the shiny blue pills he gave me down in the Book of Pill Samples, and yelled at him. That is her job.

What did I do then?

Well, first you have to know that my doctor has been my doctor since I was a squalling infant sucking in my first breath of oxygen. That's right: he delivered me. So he knows all kinds of horrible things about me and all the gross things that I have contracted in my lifetime. That gives us a kind of bond.

I turned to my doctor and I said, "You got in trouble! And I SAW."

Then he looked at me, grinned, and said, "You turd!" And went back to work.

Also, I now have to read Ulysses.

*I may have just made up that word. If I did, I coin it here and now, and if you see it in the OED someday, remember where it STARTED.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Have the Best Brother--Ever.

It's true. Paul is the best brother.

I know he has been guilty of eating my food from time to time, but that is all forgiven now.

You see, I am dying, more or less. Mostly less, since I seem to still be alive at the moment and will likely remain to be for some time in the future, but I don't feel well so leave me alone.

I went out to eat on Monday with Paul and Dad. Then I went to sleep, and then I woke up at about two and Something Bad Happened.

I won't even tell you. Let's just say: it was unpleasant. And it involved throwing up.

I don't even know what day it is right now, either. Do you? I bet my computer would tell me, but I really don't want to know how many days I have lost to this stomach thing, and I know Rachael is going to tell me anyway. I'd rather just hear it the once.

Mom is--was--at her dad's house. So I was all alone, and I slept until 7:30 in the would maybe have been...yesterday? And I said to Paul: "Growing up is a miserable thing, when you get to the age when you are sick and there is no one to make you soup."

And then, do you know what?

Paul made me soup.

He made it from scratch, too. I had taught him many months ago, and he remembered. And it was good soup. Very good soup. And now it is gone, and there are no more ingredients for soup-making in our house. And I am sad.

But the memory of The Good Soup Paul Made remains, so I suppose I am still better off than without it. The memory, I mean. And the soup.

Two things: I am going to the doctor tomorrow to find out what is making me die. And I am surviving by watching Poirot given to me by Rachael. Thank you, Rachael. And I really don't want to know how long this stomach thing has been going on. Really. So tell Sally, but not me. You can tell Ashley! And Beth! But not me. Please?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kitchen Mini-Remodel Extravaganza!

While some of you are having barbeques, enjoying your last few days of summer, I will be tearing up carpet with my bare hands!

That's right, folks. The Great Kitchen Mini-Remodel Extravaganza has begun! It started yesterday when my mother was spied moistening wallpaper with a damp cloth, then using her fingernails to pick it off in long strips.

[This is where I would put a "before" shot, if my mother would let me take a picture of the kitchen. She won't. At least not until the carpet is gone. Hence, no beet-carpet pictures, either.]

So instead, look at these beets!

(Photo unceremoniously yoinked from Confessions of a Psychotic Housewife click to read her review of the beets in question.)

We're going to take a Family Fun trip up to the local Lowes, unless we get tired, give up, and go to Walmart instead. If Walmart has the paint we want. The paint we're planning to use is a special sort designed for use kitchens. It's resistent to stains, including grease stains, and you can scrub it as much as you like without worrying you'll take the paint off with the tomato sauce you managed to make explode.

Exploding tomato sauce happens.

I doubt we'll manage to get everything we'd like done over the weekend, since we are still supply-less at the moment for the whole painting part of things and we want to paint first because: no drop cloths necessary. See, if you need to rip up your carpet, you don't need to worry about putting down cloths because your carpet IS the cloth.

Tomorrow, if you see me, I will have paint in my hair! Also, I may have cut myself on something while tearing up carpet!

I will take pictures as we go to show you the general carnage. I leave you with a painting song:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Perils of Being Laura

Some of you will have already heard these hilarious stories via Twitter, but others of you don't do the Twitter thing, even though you could follow me and I would entertain you while you walked around through your daily routine, on a much regular basis than I do here. Entertain you, that is.

Wow. What a sentence.

I'm trying to remember the little things that might have been funny and/or interesting in my life lately. And really, only one thing seems to be happening that has any effect on my life. And that is nausea.

Oh, to be able to eat REAL food...I remember the days when I could go out and grab a hamburger and eat it without fear! But alas, no longer. That brings us to a list:

(Click to embiggen)

As you can see, there is no protein on the list. That's handy, right? I mean, that's a really great way to stay healthy, eating no protein. And I can't take multi-vitamins because they make me sick too. And so do those protein shake things. I know. I've tried.

Is it possible to be allergic to protein? If so, does that mean no more Chicken Parmesan?

And here is what I cannot eat:

(Again, click to embiggen)

I should have put "pop" on there, because drinking fizzy things hurts too.

Now, one might think, "Hey, Laura! You might have an ulcer!" My sources say, "No, Laura. You have no ulcer. But you should think about taking this pill to reduce your stomach acid production."

I am now taking said pill. There has been no obvious change, as yet, but it has only been a couple of days.

So what does a meal look like these days, you ask? Well, for lunch I am having chicken noodle soup without the actual chunks of chicken, with carrots in there for color (and a little food value, maybe). I made the soup myself with organic, low-sodium chicken stock--just in case--and it gets along with my stomach pretty nicely. I am also having yogurt, which is okay in small amounts. Who knows what I will do for dinner.

Sadly, my stomach problems arrived just after my discovery of Smitten Kitchen. By "discovery" I mean Rachael told me about it for the second time, but this time I don't have dial-up anymore and can actually enjoy it.

Sadly, I am limited mostly to her various baked goods. Except, that isn't TOO sad, because her baked goods are AMAZING. I've made scones, blackberry (and blueberry) buttermilk cake, and Blueberry muffins. I also made a chicken pot pie (yum!) but I couldn't eat much of it. I had a little. It hurt. But everyone else loved it. It vanished in a single day, and I didn't even cook it for an actual meal. I also tried her chicken tacos. Those hurt terribly. That was when I swore off the meat (for a while). But that's a fantastic recipe too.

This whole experience has taught me something I find a bit upsetting. I try very hard to lose the extra weight I put on post-college. See, after the sheer panic and waves of anxiety and stress that college gave me right around midterms and finals stopped ruling my day to day routine, I relaxed. People say stress makes you fat. I think I was giving myself a great cardio session every time I walked into certain classes. Because once I stopped having classes--BAM! Laura became big(er). Big enough that I had to buy new pants, and you all know how much I hate shopping for pants.

I have tried running, cutting out fattening foods, jumping, carrying heavy things, lifting heavy things, yoga, bike riding...I've tried a lot. There was really no noticeable change. But the second I started not being able to eat and being so sick from certain types of food that I threw said food up, I started losing weight.

So far, I have lost a PANT SIZE. I mean it. And as happy as I am that I am getting rid of an unhealthy part of me, I am even more UNHAPPY that this is how it's leaving. This is not a good way to lose weight. It is UNCOMFORTABLE.

I have to say, I understand that anorexia and bulimia stem from a mental dysfunction now more than ever. Luckily, I've not had a time when I couldn't eat anything. I just can't eat the things I really want to have. And I can deal with that. Just because it isn't a gourmet Italian and/or Indian dish doesn't mean I will turn up my nose and refuse to eat it. I am insanely hungry. Like, really, really hungry. Crazy hungry. All I can think is that you'd have to be pretty bad off to choose to be that hungry all the time, or hungrier, because you aren't eating anything at all. I at least get bread. And peaches. And apples. And muffins.

I also feel really weak. Too weak to knit sometimes. Because the repetitive motion tires my arm muscles. So no real Austin Hoodie progress. And the hungry is keeping me up at night. Yesterday when my nurse practitioner came in the library, I asked her if she could come back later with a saline IV just to keep me moving. She laughed. But I was totally serious.

I am not adding the Evil foods back into my diet for a while longer out of fear. But while I'm waiting to eat them, I am making a list of all the foods I want to eat that I have to wait to enjoy. Then, when I can have them, I will go out and get them. Because I am just that hungry.

To distract myself from hunger, I seem to be falling down a lot. I don't know if this is a related issue or my usual clumsiness, but standing next to me has been dangerous enough to require a hard hat and safety goggles. Being me has required them too. Not only did I almost-break a toe due to a bad fall (out of bed), I also knocked over a jar with disastrous results.

You know beets? How they're used as a natural dye? Yeah. Well, Mom bought Harvard Beets, a gross-but-somehow-appealing part of Mom's diet. She opened the jar and had some, then popped it in the fridge.

For you to understand the Science of what next befell those beets, you must understand what Harvard beets are. They are beets. Just your average beet, quartered, then seasoned and/or pickled, then packed in a kind of thick beet-y liquid that tastes good on cream cheese.

I was reaching for the unsalted butter (needed for scones) when the jar liberated itself from the shelf where it sat. Then, without hitting the fridge at all, the bottom disc of glass separated itself from the body of the jar, which then collapsed inward as the whole glass-beet-goo mixture exploded onto me, the floor, and the inside of the fridge.

Normally, when I drop a jar, it makes a loud noise, I examine it carefully, discover it to be unbroken, and I put it back in the fridge.

Not this time. This time, it exploded instantly.

Now, to understand the full magnitude of the exploding Harvard beet jar, you must go back with me, back to when Laura was a wee girl of two and her mother and father had just bought a little house by the river in the country with plenty of space for their new baby (Paul). Mom instantly decided to "do something about" the kitchen. It needed some attention, seriously. She called my grandmother, her mother-in-law, who has always had excellent taste when it comes to decorating a room. She then asked, "What should I do about the kitchen?"

My grandmother advised carpet.

I honestly think, now, that the carpet suggestion was Grandma's way of sabotaging her daughter-in-law's attempts at home decor. She never carpeted HER kitchen, you see. And poor, naive Mom, who had never even handled a knife before she married my dad, trusted and believed. The carpet was purchased, installed, and regretted.

The one bonus? Cans don't dent when you drop them and glasses don't break. Neither to jars. Not normally, at least.

So. Back to the beets.

When the jar hit the ground it exploded like a bomb, and with it came the beet juice, which was absorbed by the carpet like the dye that it is.

I stared at the beet juice. The beet juice stared back (it can do that). "Moooommm!" I called from where I stood, barefoot in broken glass. "Something terrible has happened!"

"What was it?" Mom asked from her place on the couch, where she was knitting HER Austin hoodie. "Do I want to know?"

"You really don't," I said.

She came then, and we cleaned the mess. I spot-treated my jeans, thanking heaven that I'd just ordered some new ones online that morning.

It was a really good thing that our Labor Day weekend plans were to (1) paint the kitchen and (2) rip up that awful carpet, because that carpet is finished. There is no coming back from the beet juice. Our kitchen carpet, which had held on for many more years than we wanted to keep it, was pronounced dead on Sunday, August 29, at 9:45 p.m.

And I am waiting not-quite-patiently for my new pants to come, because those were the only jeans that fit me following the Great Starvation-Induced So-This-Is-What-Cholera-Feels-Like Weight Loss of 2010.

Darn, am I hungry...maybe we have some ice cubes in the freezer that I can let melt on my tongue. That feels like food, right? Right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Jennifer complained yesterday. She said, "Okay Laura, it's time for a new blog. Why? Because I said so..." Really. It was in the comments.

But I don't know what to write about!

Does Jennifer offer to come up with a topic for me? Noooo. No topics from Jennifer. I'm just a blog writing machine over here. Insert coin, blog produced. Just like that.

There's just one problem with that.

I have no life.

There it is! I said it! It was painful (lie), but I finally revealed my deepest trauma (yeah, right): that I have absolutely no life (true).

Scouring back over the last few weeks, I have a few mini stories to tell you, but they are mostly follow-ups from OLD stories, things that are only funny if you know all the things that have happened before.

Fine. I'll just tell you.

I went on vacation! And as with any Laura-Vacation, nothing much happened. I think I don't know how to have fun. Or, at least, I don't know how to go out and do something exciting for a vacation, because I grew up without them. Really. We had a couple, but they were just to visit family, and the trips abroad were Thinking Trips, because I had papers to write when I got back, not to mention speeches and the like.

So I started by cleaning my room. Really cleaning.

I tore the whole room apart, including the frame of the bed, dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, and polished. I sorted drawers and the closet, I took clothes to Goodwill and managed to get control of the ever-growing stash of yarn by building shelves for the closet and securing them to the wall. I also put shelves up on the wall, because I'd moved things around and had to take them down from where they used to be (and hadn't re-fastened them to the wall because I couldn't find the stud-finder and I thought drilling the wall, screwing the shelves in place, putting books on them, and then watching as giant chunks of my wall fell out onto the ground would be a bad way to spend the day). But now the invisible bookshelves are back where they belong, and life is again good. I love those things.

In the process of cleaning, I learned two important facts.

1. Never buy the knock-off Swiffer dusters. They don't hold the dust, they just move it. Not the same thing.

2. There is one brand of cleaner I am not allergic to, even a little. It is the Seventh Generation brand. This is good to know, because it means I can scour things without fainting or spending the evening wheezing, coughing, or with a migraine like with some cleaners. *coughLYSOLcough*

I then put my room back together and dispersed the things I didn't need to keep (crayons, clothing I am too fat for, and the like).

That took us to Tuesday. Three days of cleaning, sorting, building, and so forth. It took that much to satisfy me. See, all the intensive stuff gets put off when I've only two days during the weekend. Who wants to spend their whole weekend cleaning? I want to spend it KNITTING. That is much more FUN.

Then we went to see my 87-year-old grandfather, who is more negative every time I see him. According to Grandpa, we will NEVER get out of this recession. Ever. He has forgotten that we got out of the Great Depression, I think. Maybe. Also, my generation is totally lazy in every way (Paul took that a bit personally, though Grandpa didn't put two and two together to realize WHY Paul would have a problem with that), and the whole world has gone to "heck"--this started a rant that ended with, "Ah, to Hell with 'em!" He ends lots of sentences that way. Grandpa also started a pseudo-racist rant that I stopped. He overlooks that he was once the child of two immigrants who didn't speak English. If you point that out, he goes temporarily deaf or says, you guessed it, "Ah, to Hell with 'em!" But he stops, because he realizes that I really have a problem with that kind of talk. Once he got all the Bitter-Old-Man out of his system, he was his normal self and we could all relax by helping him find the cat every five minutes, buying his lottery tickets, and trimming bushes.

I love my grandpa.

Then we went to Chicago! To the Art Institute!

Some of you might remember our last trip to see El Greco and the Impressionists culminated with Paul grabbing random string that ended up being art, the security guard screaming at him, and Paul proclaiming, "It's a piece of FREAKING STRING!" Oh, and me getting caught in a revolving door.

It was kind of like this, but without all the broken glass and with more bruising.

This time, I survived the revolving door. See, knowing it revolves is the trick. I thought it was a normal door that Mom was holding open for me. But it wasn't.

But, alas, Mom and Paul ended up setting off the little tone that says--"YOU ARE TOUCHING THE ARTWORK!" Except it says it like this: "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep..." The security guard found them, told them to stop, and went back to glaring at everyone.

Why did it go off? It's because when my mother is in an art museum, she does something she never does when she's out and about normally.

She talks with her hands.

Mom had a visitor's guide, and had semi-folded it. She was using it as a pointer, causing the alarm to sound.

We moved on to the next room, then I took them downstairs, where the colors go from neutral to bold and attention-grabbing. There are also very small chairs. And around the room, there are stations you can visit...

"Here, guys!" I proclaimed, handing Mom back her visitor's guide. "Go to town!"

"What?" Mom asked.

"This is the Touch Gallery!" I said. You can go ahead and touch the artwork now, for as long as you want!" The look she gave me was priceless. Fantastic.

She didn't touch anything.

We spent three days with my grandfather, and during that time my dad called my cell phone about thirty times. I ignored a lot of those calls, because he wasn't calling me at all. He was calling Mom. And I am not an answering service. It got annoying, handing my phone off so Dad could say "hello" and hang up. He didn't even say anything to me.

It was distracting, and we were in an art museum! So I had my phone set to silent, and I just deleted all the missed calls. Don't call me ten times a day, especially if you expect me to call you back, unless someone is missing a limb they had when they woke up that morning. Nothing you have to say that doesn't involve missing appendages is that important.

You know I'm right.

We came home Saturday, slept, and spent Sunday getting the house put back together after Hurricane Dad. It's a trial, I'll tell you. Dad then left, heading off to Florida with his friend Norm, who he's known since they were both tiny children. They drove off into the night, stopping so Norm could sleep (he can't sleep when the car is moving) in a Waffle House. Where Dad texted (sent me a does one verb that?) me. And woke me up, because it was NIGHT. Also, it made me want waffles, which we DIDN'T HAVE.

But Dad got his comeuppance. When the two of them finally arrived in Florida, Dad celebrated by taking a flying leap into the swimming pool, with his cell phone in his pocket.

That makes the score Dad: 2, Cell Phones: 0

Remember the time he killed the phone he had before this one? It looked like this:

I don't think the new dead phone will look this funny. Nothing could ever look this funny again. It's impossible.

So the problem of Dad's excessive phone use is now solved. Ish.

And now I am back at work, the neighborhood kids are in school and not driving the library staff insane (that was why I needed the vacation), and life can get back to normal. Kind of.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Me!

Today is my birthday, and I am celebrating in several ways.

1. I made birthday crowns.*

2. I kicked my father out of the country. I'd had enough. He is on his way to Guatemala.

3. I wore a crown at work today.** So did Juliann. It is her birthday, too.

It is also Connie Chang Chinchio's, so go tell her happy birthday on Ravelry or Twitter (@changcon). [And on an unrelated note: I am loving the little birthday cake on my Ravatar.]

4. I am organizing the Stash. It has gotten out of control. I'd ceded the right side of my bedroom to Stash, and the right side to Everything Else. Like books. DVDs. And laundry.

This was caused by a Moth Sighting, even though I could easily tell that the moth in question was a Random Outdoor Moth and not a clothes moth, due to the species. But It still frightened me. I don't like to think that They might Come. Hence the cedar and the ziplocs.*

5. I got organize-y things for the Stash for my birthday. This means I can make-over my closet to be more yarn-centric and less clothes-centric. Or maybe equally divided.

6. I grabbed yet another storage dealie at Walmart today for only sock yarn. It is large. Because I have too much sock yarn. I need more feet...

7. I am going to Knit Night, where I will laugh and show off my Madelinetosh Sport. Which I have yet to take pictures of. Sorry. It is the Mansfield Garden Party colorway, which I keep calling Mansfield Park because I have read too many Jane Austen novels. Or, rather, I have read Jane Austen's novels too many times.

8. I am getting a Blondie with Rachael afterwards.

9. I will undoubtedly do other happy things, but I haven't planned them yet. One of these involves Biaggi's, as I have Free Dessert and a gift card (Thanks, Amy!) that need using. Also I will rip apart my closet and put it back together again, while watching copious amounts of Poirot, because I've raided the library's Poirot supply for my entertainment.

10. I will, on Saturday, go to American English (Beatles cover group) at the Honeywell Center. This is because I was too young to go see the real thing. And also because it will be FUN!

11. I will go get Madelinetosh TML at my local yarn store in two weeks, as it is currently being dyed and will soon be dropped in the mail! After the dye sets. And after the yarn is all the way dry. And made into hanks. And labeled.

12. I will try not to think about the white hair I found and what that hair might mean. Instead I will think about this:

13. And plan a zoo trip.

*Pardon the exposure/white balance problem. It has been resolved.

**Wow, I need to work on being more fit...or maybe we'll restrict all pictures to my upper half...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday!

She is still older than me.

Since it is her birthday, how about a Laura's Mom story?

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, when Laura was a wee lass, she was making a cake with her mother...

Mom and I had decided to make a cake. This usually preceded the two of us eating the cake.

Usually, we iced it the second it came out of the oven, the icing slid off, and we ate it with or without the icing. Why not?

This time, Mom had just finished pouring the cake batter into the pan and sliding it into the oven.

I was a very good little girl. I didn't try to eat the cake batter. But when Mom used her finger to scoop up a large portion of the lovely yellow cake batter and held it out to me, I could not resist.

And then she shoved her cake-batter-covered finger straight up my nose and I spent the next week smelling vanilla, no matter how many times I blew my nose.

I love you Mom. Happy birthday.