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 text...how 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.