Thursday, February 24, 2011

I did it!

My long hair is no more.

I measured after Beth the Hair Goddess cut it--I gave up a foot of hair. Twelve inches of heavy, thick, annoying hair. I already feel lighter and more stylish!

There's something about having short hair that just makes me feel prettier. I think it's because short hair makes my face look rounder--I have a narrow face (kid's glasses, remember?) and I think the long hair just accentuated it.

Here's the first picture, taken by Beth the Hair Goddess herself:

I think she did a brilliant job cutting it--and I'm never letting it get that long again!*

*Sorry Dad. Sorry Paul. I know you thought it looked extra pretty long. But you are guys, and guys like long hair. I'll make you a deal. If you two grow your hair out that long, I'll grow mine out again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear Melynda,

I love my slippers, Melynda. I really do.

When I first saw your pattern, it was love. I grabbed a coworker with no knitting experience and drug her to my LYS, and we stocked up on yarn and watched as it clicked away on the swift and ball winder. Then I taught her to knit as we made our first pairs of your slippers.

Together, we seamed up each slipper, and then we had a felting party over the phone. With my slippers in tow, I went from store to store looking for the perfect buttons. I found them, I sewed them on, and it was magic.


I am not exaggerating when I say I never took the slippers off. I don't like walking around barefoot, my feet get too cold, so through spring, summer, fall, and winter, I wore my slippers. Along the way, we met in Detroit, and I made an idiot out of myself raving to you about your pattern at the market. But in my defense, I was smitten with the slippers. I hope you didn't think I was dangerously unbalanced. I really am quite harmless.

Sadly, not all good things last forever. Around Christmas, I noticed that the soles of my feet seemed a little colder than they had in past months. I shrugged the feeling off. Certainly my feet would be colder. The house was cold. The world was cold. That's what winter is all about.

But last month, I was pulling my slippers on when I noticed a bit of fuzz on the bottom of my left slipper. I reached down and removed it. It wasn't fuzz, Melynda. It was slipper.


Indeed, the sole of my slipper had felt drafty because it had become paper-thin through excessive wear. I might have been able to save my slipper, had I examined them when my feet first felt a chill, but ignoring the problem had only caused it to grow, and now I would need all new soles to save the slippers. While I could have felted new soles and attached them, I knew the act would only prolong the life of my slippers by unnatural means. The slippers would want me to say goodbye, let them go, and move on with my life. I went back to my LYS. I found yarn, carefully selected to match the buttons from my first pair of slippers. I took the yarn back home, wound it on my new swift, and on Sunday afternoon, I started knitting.

Experience had made me wiser. Now I knew how to seam my slippers to help them felt smoothly (the process involves actually following your seaming directions instead of making up my own). I knew that a touch of hand-felting would make the tops flawless. I knew how long the straps ought to be and when to take them out of the washing machine. Armed with my knowledge, I felted them.



Aren't they lovely?


(Yes, those are the same buttons.)


I know I'm not the first to tell you how amazing this pattern is, and I know this isn't the first time I've said it. Still, I have to say it again. I love these slippers.


Thank you for designing them. My feet would be much colder (not to mention less stylish) without them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ask Me About My New Felted Slippers!

I finished another pair of the French Press Felted Slippers last night. But I started felting them too late, so I didn't get to sleep until something like 1:30 in the morning. I had to wake up at 6:00. This after a weekend of lying in bed, waiting for sleep.

Friday night I was curled up in bed, sleepless, listening to the rush of water and gurgles from the bathroom sink. As I waited for the evil person in the bathroom to be finished, I got angrier and angrier. Didn't this person know I had to work early in the morning? And it was way late. It was like TWO in the morning. And I couldn't sleep with all that NOISE.

It sounded maybe like someone was doing THIS:

I listened to more gurgles from the sink until finally, I'd had enough. I stormed out of my room and pounded on the bathroom door.

"Just a minute," Paul replied.


Curse the fiend! He was the one ruining my life. He would have to PAY for what he'd done. He must have filled the tub with live waterfowl, to make that kind of noise. Didn't he understand how massively cruel he was being. He was destroying my will to go on. If he wanted to keep using water, he might as well have just killed me right then and there. It would have been more merciful. Jerk.

"You need to stop waiting this late to get ready for bed," I snapped. "You woke me up with all your noise, and now I'm lying there, and I have work tomorrow. You know I can hear all the noise from the bathroom in my room. The pipes are right next to my head! It's like you're bathing an elephant in there, with all of that splashing."

"I just got in here," Paul said curtly.

"No, you didn't," I replied. "I can hear everything. I heard you getting washed up, and it WOKE ME UP. You need to stop doing this. It's getting worse and worse."

"I haven't even flushed yet!" Paul seethed.

And as I stood there, bleary-eyed, I realized he was telling the truth.

You see, I'd heard the water running for what felt like hours. And the toilet had been flushed five, maybe six times. The sink had kept gurgling and gurgling, and I was sure I'd heard the bathtub filling up.

One person would not make all of that noise.

"Oh," I said, realizing the full impact of what had just happened.

"Just give me a minute," Paul growled.

"I am so sorry," I replied.

Silence was the only reply.

"I've been lying there listening to the water," I said. "But there was no water. I dreamed it all."

More silence.

"I thought it was going on too long. And it was. Because it was a dream. I'm sorry."

I went back to bed.

You see, I have a recurring semi-nightmare of not being able to fall asleep. I remain curled in bed, panicking more and more as I worry about the next day and how exhausted I know I'll be at work. The dream, like all of my dreams, is so vivid that I fail to realize it is a dream until I wake up. Then I think, Gee, I'm pretty well rested for someone who didn't get any sleep last-- And I know that it was the same dream again.

Lately, I've been trying something called lucid dreaming. I will be lying there, thinking I'm stuck awake when I need to sleep, and as a test, I try thinking about, say, a new book from a favorite author. If the dream changes at all (like, I see the book or start dreaming about a library or something like that), I know I am actually asleep. It's like a wakeness test for Dreaming Laura. It keeps me from spending my whole night dreaming the same miserable Insomnia-Dream.

But this thing was new. It was my normal nightmare, but with water gurgling. My dream had reached a new low. And Paul was the innocent victim.

When I got back to bed, I fell asleep almost immediately. But when I woke up that morning, I started thinking about Poor Paulie. I had totally screamed at him, and for no reason at all. He was innocent. All he'd been ding was...well, using the bathroom, and I had been horrible.

Clearly, I am the worst sister in the world.

I waited patiently for Paul's normal wake-up time, and I gave him a bit more time after that to be fully conscious (we are not morning people). Then I called him and apologized again. Poor Paul. He so did not deserve my rage.

After all that, two more nights of minimal sleep were not really a good idea. But what did I care? I had a giant hole in my slipper. That had to be fixed, before I stepped on something cold, like the basement floor, and the cold surface made my foot icy cold through the fist-sized hole in the sole of my slipper. Okay. Maybe not fist-sized. But it's definitely quarter-sized. Silver dollar, maybe.

My new slippers are lovely. They're drying now. I have buttons waiting. But the whole sleep situation makes me regret felting them. I am exhausted.

I have also watched too many episodes of The Cosby Show in a row, while running up and down the basement stairs to check on the felting process. I need to buy tennis balls so I can dump them in the washing machine and speed the whole process up considerably.

Now I'm just sit here, wishing I knew how to make coffee that didn't taste like feet. I'm sure this will be worth it tomorrow, when I can pull on new comfy slippers. But right now, I'm exhausted. Knitters have demanding schedules.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (Well, Thursday)

After I posted my earlier announcement, I got this from Kenzie via Twitter:


Normally, I would just do exactly what Kenzie tells me, because she seems smart, and if she decides, that means I don't have to. But this is big change for me, getting rid of all this hair, so I should probably make my own decision. Even if doing that is hard and pretty boring, especially when I could be reading my new book or knitting the back of my sweater.

And the cut I fell in love with as I hunted through the cutest sweaters on Ravelry was the one ciriliarose (that's a Ravelry link, folks) has in THIS picture. Except you can't see the whole cut, just how cute it is at chin level. I think it looks almost the same as Kenzie's picture, so I might just end up blindly obeying her after all. It is easier that way.

Because I really liked the style, and because I get bored at home when other people are out having fun on the weekends and I am knitting and watching Masterpiece Classic, I went to Flikr, because it's a magical place,* in an attempt to find a picture of the Magical Haircut that actually has the whole of Cirilia's head in the frame.

It turns out, Cirilia is WAY more organized than I am. I take pictures of everything I knit. Unless I forget to and then give them away. Or I do take a picture, then forget to upload it. Or I upload it and it just never makes it to Ravelry. But Cirilia isn't like that. She uploads everything. And that means I could find a picture of her Magical Haircut!

See? I love that haircut.

Anyone else have hair ideas? Make your case in the comments, and I'll use your advice as I make my decision. Or I'll print out a stack of pictures and give it to Beth the Hair Goddess, and she can decide for me. I really am clueless about hair.

OR, if you think choosing my next haircut is boring, if you could care less about my personal style and would really get a laugh out of me pulling a Britney Spears and shaving my head bald and rolling around on the floor of the dressing room unable to stand, you can go to Cirilia's Berroco Design Studio Blog, and take a peek at some of her fantastic designs! I'm partial to Aidez and Americano myself.

*No matter how I phrase this, it will sound like I'm a stalker. I'm not, I promise. I lose focus to quickly to be a successful stalker. You have to have real concentration for that. I'll just be reading and then--Elephants are great! Let's go visit them--In Africa. I've never been to Africa. No, wait--the ZOO! I want some ice cream! They have that at zoos. Oh--Let's go to the movies--no, to the bookstore! What was I saying? Oh well, it doesn't matter. 

EDIT: Rachael just sent me a link with another potential haircut. Am I the only one seeing a theme here? 

Say Goodbye...

The date has been set.

It's all over.

I always knew it would end this way. Part of me didn't want it to, but I know it's for the best. We've had a good long time together. Now it's time for us to move on to something new and fresh.

NOW--grab a scrap piece of paper and scribble down what you think I'm talking about. And hold onto it--I want to know what you were thinking. And no cheating, Rachael. I know you already know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Happens When Things Get Out of Hand

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will remember me complaining about The Lists. "Laura," you say. "Tell us more about these lists! Your life is infinitely more interesting to us than it is to you!"* Who am I to argue with that kind of talk? Of course I'll tell you about the lists! I just didn't want to bore you.** So, by popular demand, here is The Saga of The Lists!***
(This will also serve as my personal testimony prior to my commitment to some kind of Facility for the Criminally Insane. You know, for after my breakdown, which The Lists will cause.)

Here is The Complete List:

This includes every book (except five) that was checked in when our inventory began. That's about 550 pages printed from Excel.

During the inventory, over two days, we located every book on the shelves, checked them off The List, removing books with errors in their call numbers or labeling and books that should have been on The List but weren't there for one reason or another.

When inventory was over, we were left with five carts of books that had notes on them marked, "Not on List." This was, of course, not true.

See, if a book was mis-shelved, ideally, it was given to a person who found it on the section of the list dedicated to that part of our shelving. A biography of Mark Twain found in with Huckleberry Finn, for example, would be pulled, then marked with a check on the biographies list, then shelved. That isn't what happened.

The reason was, The List wasn't just one list. It was two. Three, really. And they were a mess. Entering data in an item record in a slightly different way meant not finding a book on The List when it was actually there. We had three different Nonfiction Lists. So, with three sheets of paper in hand, we scoured one shelf and marked off books on each sheet as we found them. Still, a few were missed.

So, when The "Finished" List was slapped on the desk, I grabbed it and went hunting. First, I found every book on the carts that was on The List but not checked off, the process took a week. That was all but one cart of books. Those had errors in their item records, which I fixed. The few left over that had issues with their labels, I sent upstairs for someone else to cope with. Because I can't print labels here. Also, no one can print them right now, because our new circulation software isn't friends with our printer. Or our labels. Or both.

I was left with this:

And this:

The first picture is The List of Books That Were Found. It is the biggest pile of paper right now. The second picture is of pages from The List Books That Were Not Found. I have started going through the second stack, typing up the titles of missing books, and adding them to the first stack, but it's a long process. I have to go look for the books on the shelves, see if they've been circulated in the last six years or so, check our paperback shelving, and check to see if we have a second item record in the computer for the same book--a duplicate record with, say, a different barcode and call number but all the same information. If that's the case, I withdraw the "missing" book, which in fact, does not exist.

I have spent over a week on this task. I'm betting I'll be spending a second week on it too. But when it is done, we will actually know what is in fact in our collection. Until we get another shipment of new books, someone withdraws a book without telling the computer what they're doing and making sure the computer remembers (saves the changes), or until we find a book with messed up info on it's labels and send it for a "fix" it but the fix isn't saved in the computer (right labels, wrong item record).****

As I do this, I'm focused on figuring out what exact circle of Hell I'm in. I can't really ask Dante, because he's dead. Is there one with Endless Toil? My solution last night was to order books from Amazon. My solution today was to pre-order books from Amazon. This inventory thing sure is expensive.

*No one actually said that. But I'm sure you all were thinking it.
**Really, The Lists are very exciting. I just didn't think you could handle the fun.
***What? Someone had to be wanting this. Just because none of you actually demanded an explanation doesn't mean you weren't secretly thinking about how great it might be to have one!
****This is my excuse for why there was no new blog post on Monday. I'll try to get you another one over the weekend to make up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shame and Semi-Nudity: Laura Goes Jean Shopping

None of my jeans fit me anymore, so I had to go jean shopping.

You see, when my gallbladder was coughing, sputtering, and dying, I was also losing weight, lots of it. During the fall, I had broken down and bought size 12 pants, because I wanted to conceal everything, and I was certain they would be too tight by winter. I was wrong.

When your gallbladder goes kaput, you stop being able to digest things So your body says, NO WAY, and what results is a kind of involuntary bulimia. That's the nice way to say, I threw up a LOT. It was unpleasant in the extreme. I cannot express that enough.

I lost weight fast, mostly because I stopped eating anything but bagels. Bagels were delicious and they didn't make me feel like death. They stayed (more or less) comfortably inside my stomach. They lacked variety, but who cared? They were food, and they took the edge off of my soul-shattering hunger.

Goodbye gallbladder.

I don't know exactly what all the symptoms are for Gallbladder Death, but they must be more than just stomach issues. I think my gallbladder made me gain weight. I don't know how, but it MUST have. Because even since FIXING the gallbladder by getting it the heck out of Dodge and returning to my normal diet (lots of cookies, lots of Italian food), I still kept dropping weight.

Remember how I said I'd been a size 12? Yeah. That didn't last. By the time I had my gallbladder removed, I had already snatched up size 10 pants. They still fit beautifully after my surgery, and for about a month afterward.

I went jean shopping today, and I am now a size 6 again, which was my college size. Hence, my Dying Gallbladder Made Me Gain Weight Theory.

I find that whole process so shocking, I just had to share it with you. Also, I've told my family like a thousand times, and they don't find it interesting anymore. But I do. So you get to hear it. Again.

Jean shopping.

I always hate it. Why? Because I know EXACTLY what I like in pants, and I want to buy only jeans that fit that criteria, despite the fact that fashion disagrees with me. Wide flares? Eww. Skinny jeans? Only with my tall Frye boots. The Epic, Steampunk Boots. The ones that now have a fixed zipper that is amazing.

I want a jean that is not distressed*. If my jeans have holes in them, I want to have put them there myself, by falling down a flight of stairs or catching them on a nail of some kind. If jeans are already worn out, I want a discount, because that means they will last me less time. Stores do not agree with me on this issue. They charge MORE. So I won't buy distressed jeans.

I want a jean that doesn't have a giant flare. I like a jean that doesn't conceal my awesome shoes. I also like a jean that fits me through the hip and thigh, not too tightly (I like having circulation in my toes) but not so loosely that I can grab tons of fabric or put both of my legs in one pant leg. So, no "relaxed" jeans for me.

In other words, it took me a long time to find pants at The Buckle today.

I went there this time, because I needed serious professional help. Losing all that weight meant I was back to buying pants for College Laura, and College Laura was long gone. Current Laura didn't remember what kind of pants College Laura bought**, and Current Laura also had no idea what size she was anymore. And I had noticed on The Buckle's website that they were having a giant jean sale, so that meant fancy jeans CHEAP. And I like that.

Are you bored yet? I hope so. Because that will make this next part even more entertaining for you.

The Buckle I went to has stupid dressing rooms. Firstly, they are in the corners of the room, so each door opens toward the other, meaning you can slam innocent people in the face with your door, or jump out of the dressing room at each other, both of which happened to me and a really nice lady who maybe used to work there.

Secondly, the rooms are right there in the middle of everything, not back in a little hallway all on their own. I think this is to help the salespeople help you find jeans that fit you. But really, it just means you walk out to see the mirror in full view of every other shopper, even if you look like a freak.

Thirdly, the doors are the kind that don't fill up the whole door frame. The door starts at about my knees, and ends level with the top of my head. Or my eyes, whatever. That's not important. What's important is that you'd better shave your pale, ghostly legs when you go to try on jeans, because if you don't, everyone will know.

My exacting jean preferences meant that there were tons of jeans draped over my door and more inside for me to try on. Everyone now knew my approximate size, so I had a giant pile I could try on without fear. The jeans, I was sure, would more or less fit me, and I could just examine them in the mirror outside, where I would determine how gross / good I looked in them. Meanwhile, my poor handknitted socks were droopy, and I was afraid to lean over and pull them up, because I didn't want to accidentally bend over too low, and show the whole store my posterior.

One pair of jeans felt not-stretch.

So I pulled them over my calves. I pulled them to my knees. That was when I could tell that these jeans were so not a six. They were more like a double-zero. I had to get them off before I split the seams and had to pay for them!

Did I mention this dressing room had no chair? No stool, no bar to hold on to? Nothing? I was along with a giant pile of jeans and only my balance to keep me on my feet as I struggled out of jeans and discarded them, but this time, my balance wasn't enough.

I don't really know what exactly happened. Maybe I tried to shimmy a little to free up one leg. I may have blacked out. Or maybe my legs, starved of blood flow, had just given out in protest. But as I tried to free my right leg, I fell.

Remember the door? Remember how it stopped at knee length?

Now I was on the ground, with my pants at my ankles. My underwear-clad bum was exposed for all the store to see, and my legs were trapped in pants that wouldn't allow me to leap back to my feet.

I was down, and my undies were on display, and I suddenly realized the wipe-out had given me rug burn on my arse right upper thigh that I was sure would be misinterpreted by anyone who happened upon semi-naked girl, writhing on the ground in too-small pants, trying to free herself so she could conceal her naked shame.

You know me, guys. I was raised in an endless succession of churches. Most of them very conservative. And I was taught that nakedness, especially female nakedness, was evil. And if you were naked in daylight in public, that was extra bad and gave you points on your Punch Card of Sin, and everybody knows the more points you get on that card, the closer you are to an eternity in Hell.

That means that for every second my mini peep show went on, I became more and more horrified and certain that I could never leave the dressing room again. I would have to die there, and I hadn't brought any extra yarn to knit with.

I think the whole thing happened in under 15 seconds. But it didn't matter. God had seen, and I was sure that inside my brain, the eight year-old me could hear Satan laughing and offering up candy and TV a little closer than she'd heard him before.

I stood, in my underwear, and I waited.

No laughter came. No gasps. No screams or shouts. No ominous clicks of cell phone cameras...nothing.

The sound and bustle of the store continued just as it had before I fell.

That made me wonder...had anyone actually seen? Hope swelled inside me. I grabbed the next pair of pants and slipped into them. Then I cracked the door open and peered outside. No one was in my corner!

Yes, when I had been given a dressing room, it was in the far corner of the store. As far from the men's side as could be, as far from the entrance as possible. Indeed, the corner had been empty when I fell, and it was empty still. Suddenly, I started giggling.

Nice Girl Next Door gave me a strange look as she emerged to look at the cute sweater she was trying on in the mirror outside (there was only one mirror). I ducked back into my room. The giggling was quickly approaching hysterical laughter. I grabbed my cell phone and told Twitter what happened.

Just wiped out in Buckle dressing room. Door stops at knee level. And #nopants. #shame #afraidtocomeout

Twitter is always the first to know when these things happen.

I could go on and tell you how exactly I came to recount the wipe-out story to every salesperson at The Buckle, including the sole male salesperson, who happened to be stopping by to help find straight legged jeans. Or I could just show you the picture my mom snapped of me as I recreated the fall.

This is why I hate jean shopping. I just can't be trusted in public.

*I do not care about various washes, although I prefer darker jeans. The jeans I hate are the ones that have been attacked by a pumice stone in spots, or the ones that already have giant holes in the legs or knees. No, thank you.

**That's probably because College Laura didn't have money to buy jeans, so she just used the same two pairs until they fell apart, and begged for another pair at Christmas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Laura Meets a Ghost and Gives Advice

We were talking at our staff meeting today about our elevator, which needs a part, and that led, of course, to Projections of What Could Go Wrong with an Elevator in a Library. Naturally, hilarity ensued.

You see, our elevator doesn't have far to go. If it ever fell, it would drop one storey, smash into the ground, but there is hardly enough of a drop to build up any real velocity. Not like if the elevator in the Sears Tower suddenly went. That would be messy. If our elevator fell, it would cause bruises and maybe whiplash, but nothing else, we agreed.

"Yeah, to the little kids and old people in the elevator," Work Rachel* countered.

That made me think. Little kids and old people aren't the only ones who use that elevator.

"When we had the flood," another coworker said. "A woman who used to work here, she always used the elevator, got in and rode downstairs. And when the elevator reached the bottom floor, it splashed."

That made me think about us.

You see, if we were in the elevator, we'd be in there with a cart full of books, which would quickly change from books into projectiles when the elevator fell. And then we would die, because that's what happens when you're brutally beaten by Nicholas Sparks novels.

In the library I used to work in, there was an elevator. It went between three floors. But it didn't always do that, because there wasn't always an elevator. Once, there was no elevator, but people thought maybe there should be. So money changed hands, equipment moved in, and an elevator shaft was constructed. Then an elevator was put in the elevator shaft. Or maybe the elevator shaft was built around the elevator...I don't know how elevators are made. What do you expect? Science? Construction advice? Elevators just exist. And we're all glad they do. Sometimes.

But the new elevator wasn't working just right, so an elevator guy went inside the elevator shaft down in the basement, where the periodicals lived and where I used to work, and he stood there in the elevator shaft, but then the elevator was there too, and that was how I met my first ghost.

Well, maybe not REALLY a ghost, but that's what everyone said, that the elevator guy haunted the elevator. And then the whole library, because why not? It makes for a better story.

You all know me pretty well by now. You know I'm a super-freak-girl who thinks the Pooping Man is coming back for revenge after that less-than-flattering blog post, who thinks that Satan himself is going to drag her down to Hell because it's wrong to play with your shoes during the Children's Sermon when you should be listening, who honestly thought that one wavering lantern was going to burn the entire house down around her and her family, with lots of screaming and mile-high flames, leaving burned-then-frozen corpses for the firefighters to discover the next day, because the family home is in the middle of nowhere and the tiny volunteer fire department is miles away, and they were too snowed in that night to be able to rescue anyone before they died.

Naturally, when I was told a relatively innocent, if sad, story about Elevator Guy and his Potential Apparition, it developed from a tiny anecdote told to pass the time into a full-on belief that my elevator was possessed, just because it didn't work very well.

When I rode the elevator, I would press the down button, and it would do NOTHING. Then I would hit the button a couple more times, until finally it decided to move, and then I would go downstairs.

See the problem? Personifying inanimate objects? It was only a matter of time before the elevator quirk combined with the Story of Gruesome Elevator-Related Death to create the ghost that maybe almost-certainly haunts the library to this very day.

See, when I rode up on the elevator, no problems. And when I rode from the top floor to the basement or from the top floor to the ground floor, no problem either. The only time the elevator didn't work was when I tried to go from the ground floor to the basement, THE EXACT ROUTE THE ELEVATOR TOOK WHEN ELEVATOR GUY DIED.

All of that information sloshed around in my brain for about an hour, and then it spit out this story: Elevator Guy was still in the elevator, and he didn't want anyone else to get hurt the way he did, so he was keeping the elevator from coming down and maybe killing someone.

I read a lot as a kid. You probably can't tell, or anything...

A lot of the books I read were ones popular with fellow kids, only I was reading the books the eighth graders loved when I was in first grade, instead of at the same time my fellow first graders would read them. One of the books was Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, another was The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville**. Great books--you should read them. But they were ghost stories. And I was...overimaginative.*** So, naturally, I picked up a few pointers that I remembered that day in the elevator when all the pieces clicked into place.

1. If there is a ghost, don't freak out.

2. Also, expect cold spots. Bring a sweater, just in case.

3. Ghosts are there for a reason. Usually, they want help. If that is the case, you should probably find a girl between the ages of nine and thirteen, because they usually are able to fix these sort of problems.

4. If there is no girl to be brought in to help the ghost, that means you are supposed to, because someone has to be the protagonist. You've likely been in training for this your entire life.

5. You should dig around in old records and learn about your potential ghost. Then you will find an old photograph, and it will be scary because the face in the picture will look exactly like the ghost you saw and maybe even exactly like your neighbor or the girl you just met. But don't worry, your ghost can't really hurt you. It can only make you need a sweater and move stuff around, maybe.

6. It probably doesn't even want to hurt you.

7. If it did, it wouldn't really be able to. So don't freak out.

8. Freaking out won't solve anything. Also, it will make it harder to accomplish goal #3.

9. Try talking to the ghost. If it can talk back to you, that's handy. If not, look for a diary an old bundle of letters saved in a trunk somewhere. Or talk to the guy you work with or your neighbor or the girl next door, because they are probably related to the ghost in some way, and will be able to help.

10. If you find a relative to the ghost, be extra nice to them, because they are likely going to be A) Your new best friend or B) Your new boyfriend (or girlfriend).

11. If helping the ghost means you've changed time in some way (Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss, Stonewords by Pam Conrad), your new best friend might not really remember you, or what happened. Also, you might not remember. But that's okay, because you have a new best friend.

12. Fix the ghost's problem, and then have a touching moment where you say goodbye and the ghost goes to heaven. Then go back to shelving magazines, or start your new school because the summer is now over.

Naturally, I started talking to my ghost.

"It's okay," I would say. "No one is working on the elevator today, and I just need to go downstairs."

The creepy thing was this: If I talked to the ghost, THE ELEVATOR WOULD WORK ON THE FIRST TRY.And that was when I decided the elevator was maybe probably really potentially haunted, but it was okay and actually a good added safety feature.

*I know a LOT of Rachels. And a Rachael. Work Rachel is not the Rachael who patiently listens to my knitting rants and obsessive adoration of my glasses and the jam she made me. See the name spellings? Two different people.

**Super-glad Bruce Coville and his wife got out of Egypt safely. I LOVE YOU BRUCE. Please keep writing books, and I will continue reading them, even though my reading level is "too high" to read "kids books." Like I've ever listened to anyone about that sort of thing. 

***And I still am. I'd have to be, if I think my house is about to burst into flames, leaving a charred corpse behind, without our neighbors ever noticing. They live, like, fifty feet away! They'd see the flames. I hope.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Oh, yes. Because I have them, and I am wearing them, and I am happy. I also have plum jam, made by Rachael, which I am eating with a spoon. Jealous?

Monday, February 7, 2011


I found new glasses.

Now, it's a waiting game. They have to be made. And shipped. And then I have to drive to Huntington to pick them up. But I can only do that after they've been finished and shipped and delivered. So I have to wait.

I don't do well with waiting.

Also, my head is so freakishly tiny and narrow, I had to get glasses from the Children's or "Youth" section of the eye doctor's office. My new glasses are as grown-up as I am.

Do you like them? Do you?

I really love them. I'll have a better picture when I get them, one without a sticker on the eye, but I wanted to show them off first.

Friday, February 4, 2011

This post is about nothing, and you probably shouldn't read it, because there is no point to it and no reason for Laura to have written it, aside from boredom.

I keep thinking about Pooping Man. I'll walk upstairs and step onto the carpet and think: Pooping Man was here. I know, because I saw his LEAVINGS.

I'm not going back to talking about Pooping Man, but I think the experience is seared into my memory, so I can't promise I won't have spontaneous blog-flashbacks about him (or what he left behind).


Also, I am out of cookies at home. I need to remember to buy more. I keep eating them, and for some reason, the package doesn't fill back up when I put it away in its Super Secret Hiding Place.*

I should have bought cookies last night, but instead I bought dishwasher stuff and corn chips for Paul, because he wanted to eat salsa. Then I bought more ravioli because I really love ravioli, but only the kind in the cream and green box in the freezer section with cheese and spinach inside them. I'm going to eat some of those ravioli for lunch today. By the time I'd collected all the groceries my mother wanted, I gave up on getting fun food for me to eat, partially because I knew I had ravioli, partially because I knew that eating an entire bag of cookies all by myself while sitting in bed taking to Twitter is going to make me so fat, I won't be able to get back out of bed, and I will be on Twitter full time.

That wouldn't be so bad, but it's a long time between Doctor Who seasons. I have months to wait before the next one. Stupid time. Always so...chronological.

Also I think it is divorce season. I've had three people come in today asking for divorce papers. Sometimes when this happens, I wonder if the people are actually spouses, both getting divorce papers at the same time to see who can file first. Other times, like when all of the people are men, I think maybe it was getting snowed in and stuck with each other since Monday was too much for people to take. I would divorce my father, after this week. But only because he's rife with disease and bound to make me sick with his Chronic Lung Fungus / UberDeathVirus which may or may not be Ebola.

Dad is so sick that on Wednesday, I told him he could no longer touch food. I said his food would need to be prepared for him by a third party, like me or Mom or Paul, so he would not leave Germs of Laura's Future Suffering on every surface, infecting me and causing me to have my third sinus infection of 2011. Then I grabbed a handful of tortilla chips and threw them in a bowl, then put the bowl on the table and told him those were his chips, and he couldn't have any from the bag unless he asked Paul to take more out. Otherwise, we would all die.

This solution is much better than my other option, which involved creating an elaborate quarantine unit in the basement, and slipping food into a pressure-sealed tray so Dad could eat. We would visit him at feeding times. He didn't seem too enthusiastic about that idea. I'm hoping the threat of mandatory quarantine will be enough to get him to the doctor's office.

Imagine if he contaminated my cookies! It's a good thing I forgot to buy any.

This weekend, after I buy cookies, I'm going to go pick out my new glasses. If I am tormented by the decision, expect a plea for help. I'm going to take pictures of each possible pair. You see, when I look at myself in the mirror for a long enough time, I stop thinking, "This is a great pair of glasses!" And start thinking, "Wow, this girl is a freak, with freaky glasses on, why doesn't she just wear her contacts all the time like she usually does and leave glasses for people who look good in them," when I should be thinking, "Those glasses are more flattering than that other pair." I might need help determining which is the most appealing.

You can really tell I've been alone all day. It's starting to show. I'm sorry. I bet you regret reading this. It's like I stole something like ten minutes of your life. That's really too bad. I promise I'll try to be funny when life goes back to being funny again.

Which will likely be in the spring.

*I have to hide the cookies, because if I don't I will return home to find that where there were once ten cookies, now there are none. Because my mother has taken some for her tea, despite the fact that she says, "They aren't my favorite," and Dad has taken the rest because he likes to eat crunchy cookies dry--with no milk--and leave the crumbs and spare macadamia nuts and milk chocolate chunks all over the floor for me to find, kind of like Pooping Man did with his Poop, only not as disgusting.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day(s): A Rambling Tale

I woke up Tuesday morning, grabbed my cell phone, and carried it on my person for the next hour as I got ready for work. Surely, I thought, looking at the snow outside, we would have a snow day. The night before, I'd been in Walmart. The whole store had been cleared out of all edible food products (for some reason, tons of Ramen remained on the shelves). I managed to grab a package of cookies, then I left before the hordes of terrified country-folk took me as their own.

No call came. I finally got dressed in my work clothing, leaving behind my warm pajamas. I would miss them.

I got in my car, powered out of the driveway through the snow (you can do that when you don't drive a 25 pound Honda), and headed for the library. The roads were still covered with snow. I drove carefully, but once I got to 15, it wasn't so bad. I sped up, sang along to the radio, and barely noticed when my phone rang.


(extra punctuation means extra excitement)

I could have turned around in a random driveway and headed back home. But I knew the likelihood of getting out of whatever driveway I chose was...well, low. So I kept going. I was almost to Wabash, anyway.

In Wabash, I grabbed a gallon of milk and doughnuts for everyone. Because I am nice like that. Then I drove back home.

All day, the snow fell. All day, wind blew against the house, right into my bedroom, which grew increasingly colder. Then, at about 9:30 p.m., the power went out.

Nooooo....I thought. We had all hoped that the power would last a little bit longer. Maybe through the night. Something! But this would leave us shivering all night, then through the next day, because even more snow was coming! And ice! We were supposed to get ICE, and the last time that happened, we had no power for DAYS.

Where I live, out in the country, no power means no lights, no heat, and no water, because the well doesn't work. No water means we have to cart water up from the river to make the toilet flush. The First World becomes the Third World real fast when we lose electricity. Suddenly, we're shivering in front of a fire, and we've stopped all liquid intake, because no one wants to be the one to use the toilet next.

Right now, the river is frozen solid. Yeah. SOLID.

"I'm not going down to break that ice," Dad announced.

"You don't need to this time," I told him. "We can use snow."

"You can't flush snow!" Dad insisted. I stared at him.

Did I mention my dad's IQ drops by something like 100 points the second the power goes out? It does.

"Snow melts," I said as Dad stormed out of the room. He gets angry, too, because we all are trying to cope with his drastically reduced intellect, causing us to talk to him as if he's five, not 56. (Yeah, that's his real age. You think I would lie to you? Or protect his feelings? Do you even know me?)

At this point, we were using one candle for light. Dad had a flashlight, and was in search of more. He also was looking for oil lamps, but he believed they were somewhere other than their actual location. Mom had moved them into the basement, because she was sick of dusting them.

We have a lot of oil lamps. Also tons of (unscented) candles. Why? Because my parents like buying things that light up. Send them on vacation, and they will return with only different things that light up--candles, oil lamps, rustic-looking lamp's endless. There are no places for these things. But Mom shuffles things around, and we have different ones seasonally.

While Dad dug around in every room for lamps Mom had put in the basement, Mom and Paul rigged an elaborate curtain device over the door to the living room, so we could keep as much heat as possible in the room with the gas fireplace, which was the only thing heating the house. I plopped down in front of it, because I had no flashlight or lamp to use, and I didn't have a job to do anyway, so why bother.

Dad, meanwhile, had finished lighting a candle in his empty bedroom and had left it unaccompanied.* Now he decided that the lanterns Mom had found, lit, and placed on the dining room table were in fact actually in the shed. So he needed the shed key.

"Does anyone know where the shed key is?" Dad asked.

Mom looked at Paul. Paul looked at Mom. I looked back down at my cell phone, where Twitter was working hard to keep me from committing patricide. I could tell neither Mom nor Paul knew where the key was. And neither cared.

"Dad," Paul said. "We can't find the shed key on a normal day. How do you think we'll find it when we have no lights?"

"Where is it?" Dad repeated.

"Kel," Mom said. "Even if you had the shed key, you can't open the shed. There's snow in the way of the door. It would never open. You'd have to have to dig it free and have help opening it. And none of us are going to help you."

I really liked the way she ended that, don't you?

Dad stormed off to the garage, where he located several oil lamps. He lit them, then dug around for more. While doing this, he took an oil lamp and hung it up from the outside of the house, on the hook where the wind chimes usually are. It was very windy outside, did I mention?**

I drew you a picture.

Now the lantern was swinging back and forth, back and forth, coming ever closer to the house. The lantern, of course, was filled with oil. Firefighters would call that "an accelerant."

"That lantern is going to smash into our house," I announced. "It's going to light the house on fire, and then the fire department won't be able to get to us because there's so much snow."

As with many stories I make up in my head, it quickly became more plausible to me. Indeed, this WOULD happen, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

"And then," I continued, "The house will burn to the ground with us inside, because that's the only other exit since the garage door won't go up or down anymore because the power is out. And we'll try to put water on the fire, but it won't work, because we don't have water anymore because we have no power. And they'll find our charred corpses, frozen, tomorrow when the roads are cleared."

I drew you another picture.

"That's an uplifting story, Laura," my brother said.

I decided not to press the issue. Paul decided to go tell Dad to take down the lantern, before it proved me right.

Then Dad started to worry about heating the other half of the house. He opened Mom's new curtain. Mom told him to close it, because we were conserving heat. He told her no, because we had to heat the bathroom, in case we needed to use it.*** That was when I decided I'd had enough, so I went to get a book and my iPod, which still had a charge. As I rounded the corner, I glimpsed the bathroom door. Which was closed. I opened it. There was a lantern inside, which was burning unsupervised.**** My parents' bedroom still had a candle burning, as well, despite the fact that both rooms were empty.

"Dad," I called as I walked back into the dining room. "I know you want to keep the bathroom warm, but leaving the curtain open isn't going to help if you also want the bathroom door closed. Do you want me to open the bathroom door or close the curtain?"

Dad, who had apparently been arguing the curtain issue with Mom while I was getting my supplies, had heard enough. He stormed down into the (unheated) basement with an oil lamp, where he played his Irish whistle to drown out the sound of the rest of us having fun.

Mom and Paul were playing Hearts. Then they tried playing Poker. Then they discovered that they'd managed to combine the two games into a new game. Paul called it "Parts." When the sounds of hysterical laughter became too much, Dad came back, leaving the lantern burning downstairs.*****

The three of them decided to play Poker, for REAL. Dad got out pennies, which they renamed Doubloons. I was surrounded by pirates. Playing Poker. Pirate Poker. They even did voices.

This is what it looked like:

Shortly after Mom cleaned everyone out, the lights came back on. And the next day, to our joy, our neighbor came to plow our driveway for us, so we didn't have to use Paul as a slave to shovel it. I knew I should take pictures, but I was very lazy and, frankly, it was hard to walk around in, so I took this video:

Feel free to mock my drawing, photography, and video-making skills in the comments.

*This is the first of many fire safety rules Dad violated that evening.
**This is the second fire safety rule Dad violated.
***Of course, we wouldn't, because we'd all stopped liquids the second the lights went out. We weren't stupid, and we knew it would take a long while for our giant tubs of snow to melt.
****This is the third fire safety rule Dad violated.
*****Yeah, it's a wonder we made it through the night, with all these fire hazards.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oh. My. EZ.: A Fangirl Moment

(Did you like how I substituted Elizabeth Zimmerman there? Because I did. She's one of the knitting gods, my friends. If you don't know her work, you should. And it was kind of foreshadowing because--well, you'll see.)

I was about to fall asleep when I randomly checked for comments on my mitten post. You know, the one with all the mitten pictures that I took after night had fallen, making them super-dark and sort-of blue tinged. That one.

Have you looked at the comments? Oh, you should. You really should.

I almost died right here in my room.*

Stephanie said...

Well, you know what? I'd totally take the blame for those. They're lovely. And you're persistent. And that's probably not my fault. That part.
 Go ahead. Click the link. See?**

Did you faint when you clicked it? I did.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is one of my writing heroes. She's the sole reason I started blogging in the first place, and she came here. Not only did she COME, she also COMMENTED, which makes me feel special on all sorts of levels.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was going to write a post about how miserable winter was making me. Instead, I'm ending the day on an almost-gleeful note. That's what knitting can do.

*Dying right now would complicate things, because we're snowed in and the coroner wouldn't be able to pick up my body until the roads are clear.

**It was foreshadowing because the Yarn Harlot is one of the knitting gods. No, I don't think the fact that no one else got my cunning joke is cause to remove it and leave this as a humorless fangirl rant. No. We're keeping the semi-funny, sort of boring feel. That's what this blog is about.