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*