Thursday, December 19, 2013

Suffering, an Autobiography of Fitness

When I was in my latest car accident, in which a car blew past a stop sign in front of my friend Bethany's car in an attempt to prematurely end all our lives, I got whiplash.

Whiplash sucks.

As a matter of fact, it still sucks. My neck makes new noises I don't like or trust. But time passes, injuries heal, and this week I thought, "Laura, you are becoming a pudding. A human Christmas pudding."

(These are the sort of uplifting bits of information my brain likes to give me, in order to brighten my day and improve my self-esteem.)

So I thought about it and realized I wasn't waking up in unspeakable pain anymore, AND I could both turn my head and look up all at the same time. I decided that meant I could try fitness again.

I am trying to say nice things about this fitness. All I can really say that is: My neck doesn't hurt.

The rest of me hurts.

I can't sit or stand without pain, and I am walking as if someone decided to beat me with a tire iron before I came to work. Tire irons hurt. Fitness hurts.

There is not enough sweet tea in the world to make me feel better.

I have to do this again tomorrow. Also the next day. Also the next day.

Stupid healthy lifestyle, ruining my life.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Shopping

Let's take a moment to consider the fact that I went out on Saturday morning, bought every Christmas present I needed to buy, and am now DONE.*

That was all the Christmas shopping in one day. LESS than one day. This is way better than waiting for packages to arrive and hoping nothing gets misplaced by the shipping company or our mail man, who is a really, truly unpleasant person.

It was not better than sitting at home in my pajamas and clicking on the things I wanted to buy people, but what can you do?

Now I just have to find creative ways to wrap all of the things, because my family is too smart for me to wrap things the way you'd THINK they should be wrapped. They guess what is in the packages, and they always guess right. And now I get to actually enjoy preparing for Christmas, because you can't do that when the only thing floating in your brain is a shopping list!

*This does not include the single present that is not done, but I am making that present, so I did not need to go shopping for it. So there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Knitterly Things

I was lucky enough to spend Small Business Saturday working at one of my favorite small businesses ever, Simply Socks Yarn Company.

I guarded the yarn, and while I think I ought to have been given a nine iron and a "Hi! My Name Is" sticker that said, "Stephen Segal," I think I did okay keeping the yarn safe from scary toilet-paper-cozy-crocheters and moths and biker gangs.

And I got to see (and talk to!!!) Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot herself). As I was looking at her most recent blog post, I noticed an alarmingly turquoise sweater in a picture of the crowd at her IPFW talk, and that loud turquoise sweater was on ME. So now I kind of feel like a rock star.

Here is the sweater up close, in a picture taken by The Brother. He refused to stand up to take the picture, which is why I appear to be looming. Although I may have been looming anyway, I don't really know. If I was, it was unintentional.

As you can see, I continue to photograph well.

The pattern is Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston, who I fangirl in an unhealthy way. Seriously, if you want to knit a sweater for the first time and are worried or if you're fed up with patterns you need a Ouija board and three translators to make sense of, choose one of her patterns. She explains everything clearly, gives every measurement you could possibly need, and she even comes to your rescue if you're confused.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Buy This Book Because Reasons

I just wrote a post, decided it was too belch, wrote another post, decided it was too introspective and also boring, and now this is the third attempt.

And because clearly I don't have the ability to put thoughts down on whatever this qualifies as (paper? screen? keyboard?), I am instead going to recommend a book.

I read all the time, almost constantly, but I very rarely post book recommendations. Why? Because I am obsessive. I am so obsessive that I know that my liking a book doesn't mean you will. I know you have your own taste, each one of you, and if I put a book recommendation up here, it might not be the book that's right for you. But I am a librarian, and I can FIND you a book--the perfect book--just for you. So why would I make recommendations for books you might not like when I know I can help you find a book if you'd just ask? This is a one-on-one kind of business, book-hunting.

Simply put, I over think.

But one of my favorite bloggers, Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half, has a book out, and you should read it. Allie Brosh illustrates her blog posts using her Microsoft Paint skills. You may think this sounds familiar, and it should be, because she was on NPR this week, because BOOK.

Funniest. Book. Ever.

Someone on Twitter (thank you, whoever you were, I can't remember now) recommended Hyperbole and a Half to me. I laughed so hard reading through one of the archived posts that I actually had to go throw up. But then I came back and read some more. And yes, you can laugh hard enough to make yourself throw up. It happens. Especially when you're me and you throw up any time, for any reason. Even from sadness.

My brother is also addicted to Hyperbole and a Half. His favorite part of the blog made the cover. Simple Dog made the cover. We love Simple Dog.

I also love the Better Pain Scale, because I have been asked to give my pain a number enough times that I have started to give it real thought. I mean, how do I KNOW my pain is the worst possible pain? I can't know that. So that means my pain can never be a 10 on the hospital pain scale, can it? Even if my skin is no longer attached to my body, it could probably still be worse! I was happy to discover I wasn't the only person thinking about this problem.

If you aren't reading Allie's blog, you really should. And while you're at it, buy the book or check it out of your library. It will make your horrible day way better. It will make your LIFE better. Because I told you so.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not Enough Coffee in the World

Since Thursday night, I have been unable to fall asleep before 2:00 AM.

This is a problem, because you can't just quit life because you aren't sleeping. People still expect you to show up at work, Orchestra concerts (maybe that's just me), and other social events. They also expect you to wear grown-up clothes instead of a hoodie and jeans, pajamas, or a giant fluffy robe.

You also have to leave your electric blanket at your house, because as of this moment, I don't think they make battery operated electric blankets, and, even if they did, you can't very well wear a blanket around everywhere you go, either.

You also have to deal with the regular trials of life without falling apart, but when you aren't sleeping, you can't really manage that.

Grandpa fell last week. He lives on his own, because he is stubborn, so no one knew he fell until my aunt couldn't reach him the next morning. Fortunately, he hadn't broken any bones or had a heart attack or stroke, but now he's dealing with all kinds of problems relating to the fall, and other problems related to being 90. He is in the hospital's rehab unit now, and will likely be there for the next 10 days. After that, we'll figure out what the next step will be.

Normally, I would be upset. I AM upset. I would want to be there with him as much as I do right now. I would be worried about Grandpa, focused on his care and the various plans we'll have to make to help him out. I would likely be just as worried. Worried, but rested. And rested makes a huge difference with how I cope with all aspects of life.

Unfortunately (and embarrassingly) the combination of sleeplessness and emotion has made me a complete basket case in the evenings. I am train wreck Laura, and the waterworks start at about 10:00 PM. After that, I am of no use to anyone, including myself, because I can't think at all. I am mostly brain dead, and the only function my brain has left is making tears happen. Which means when I finally DO get to see Grandpa, it will be well before I can see him when I am a person instead of a soggy tissue.

No one needs to see a used Kleenex in human form.

Tonight I am going to be in bed at 10:00. I am going to make sleep happen, so I can be helpful to my family. If The Brother has to use a hammer to knock me unconscious, that is what will happen--he has been gracious enough to offer his help. We have several hammers, but I am opting for a rubber mallet, because it looks more like what the characters of Looney Tunes would use.

In the meantime, I will drink lots of tea and coffee.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hot Glue

Last night Jennifer and I had to make some signs, which led to a Dairy Queen trip for Moolattes and then a trip to Walmart for supplies. Then we went to the library, where the die-cut machine lives. We made letters. Jennifer glued the letters together to make them seem embossed. And then came the hot glue.

I am not grown up enough to use hot glue, apparently. Either that, or I lack the necessary coordination, because my coworkers have refused to let me use hot glue ever since my first summer at the library, when I dribbled hot glue down my thumb one evening and then dropped a quarter-sized dollop on my thigh the next. Both incidents led to huge blisters (although the one on my leg wasn't noticeable through pants) and my hot glue privileges were taken away.

I can use low-heat glue guns, but still lack expertise. It is an art, hot gluing. Not everyone can manage it, and I certainly can't.

So last night, one of our letters had the layers separated, and I grabbed at the layer that was falling, leading to my burning both index fingers and both thumbs, then dropping my letter on top of our poster board, leading to me scraping off the hot glue and then trying to ineffectually conceal the scrapes with white-out.

I also had to peel chunks of hot glue off my fingers, which led me to be relieved that 1. I am done knitting the three baby sweaters I needed to knit this month and 2. I have knitting calluses on my index fingers that may just have prevented blistering.

Jennifer then wrote a parody of Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" with new lyrics that were all about me burning myself with hot glue. It was a masterpiece. Here's a sample, "There were nights of endless blisters, it was more than any burn before..."


Maybe if we cajole Jennifer, she can actually rewrite the WHOLE song, and then we can make it the theme song of this blog, because blogs clearly need theme songs now for some reason.

What do you think, Jen? Should the burn song be the theme, or should it be this one?

That's how serious we are around here.*

*Hint: We are not serious at all. Also, there is only one of me, so there's that, too.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another Craft Project Ends in Tears

I tried to spray paint the baskets on Sunday.

By the end of it, I was covered in spray paint, so was the tarp, so was almost every part of my work space--except for the baskets.

Something was freaky about that spray paint can. It didn't so much want to spray. Mostly, it wanted to drip and expose my fingers to a dangerous-yet-unidentified substance that was icy cold. It was probably deadly. I'm still waiting for my fingers to shatter.

I sprayed, failed, gave up, and then spent another hour exposing myself to more hazardous chemicals as I attempted to remove the spray paint from my skin.

And then I looked at the baskets and realized the spray paint was not sticking to the surface, even though the baskets had been previously painted. And the spray paint said it would stick to painted surfaces.

It stuck a little. A bit. But not enough for me to be done in one coat, and realizing that made me very angry for some reason, so I sloshed more mineral spirits on my hands, finished cleaning up, and went inside. And cried, because I was angry, so, you know, angry crying.

I then decided to name my memoir: "Another Craft Project Ends in Tears." I figured it would be a good name, as it is both descriptive and accurate.

Tonight I have to stop by Walmart for more paint (because my can really WAS faulty, I looked it up. It was a relief finding out it wasn't just me) and try again. .I think I will beg help from Dad, since he can spray paint well, probably an indicator of some kind of misspent youth.

It is a pity Walmart does not sell dignity, but that is more of a Target thing.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I bought spray paint for the wire baskets. It is a pretty pale blue/green. Almost mint. I had to settle for a bit blue-er, because they did not have mint.

I'm over it.

The baskets are sitting in my room. The spray paint is inside them.

Nothing has happened to either baskets or spray paint since Monday, when I bought the paint.

I'm over that, too.

In the meantime, I went to see The Moody Blues and fell down a flight of stairs in front of hundreds of people.

I'm over that.

I also organized tons of craft supplies into three boxes. This leads to the following conclusions:

1. I have too many craft supplies.

2. I don't have enough of the craft supplies I need.

3. I need a wider bed to accommodate all the stuff I want to store underneath it.

The weekend goals include spray painting the baskets, mounting them on the closet doors, and working on the template for my headboard (which hit a snag when I could no longer hold up my head without a foam strangulation device holding it up for me).

When I have the headboard template made up, if I am happy with it, I will start calling around places to find someone with a jigsaw willing to help me out. I also want another piece of wood cut down to fit inside my closet on top of a shelving unit Mum bought for me a few birthdays ago. The shelving unit is actually a little narrower than it should be for the space, so if I put things on top of it, the fall down between the shelves and the wall into a space big enough for things to fall but too small for me to use my hands to retrieve said things.

Ever notice how life gives us things that are unnecessarily complicated?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Elusive Wire Baskets

I know what Hell smells like, and it isn't good.

It turns out that Hell smells more of must, mold, mildew (three things that all mean the same thing), cat urine, human filth, and rotting building. In other words, a specific antique store I visited on Thursday.

It was horrible.

Fortunately, after a terrible experience in a Canterbury train station, I have always carried with me a sachet or perfume sample like a Medieval physician warding off miasma or a Victorian lady with her smelling salts. So the second I left that building, I had my Aerie perfume under my nose, sniffing to clear the hideous scent from my nasal passages.

Mum said, "That was horrible."

I said, "That was the scent of evil, or Hell. Probably both."

Mum said, "They should take out those leaded glass windows and burn that building to the ground."

I said, "Smells like that make people turn to Jesus, just to stay away from breathing that in for all eternity."

It was bad.

And while we may have picked up typhoid, diphtheria, cholera, polio, or all of the above as we walked through that building, we definitely didn't find any wire baskets. And then I went to many other antique spots in my area, and still no wire baskets.

Because antique places were closed after work on Friday, I hunted at Target and T.J. Maxx, just out of curiosity. I did find clear boxes for my shoes on sale for super-duper cheap, but no wire baskets. Target had been filled with wire baskets two weeks before, but no. They sold them off the second I started looking, because I wanted them and that's how life works.

Mum and Dad went to a wedding on Saturday while we stayed home, so I didn't do any searching. Fruitless quests are more fun with a partner, just ask Frodo.

And Sunday I spent the afternoon turning my closet from an explosion of yarn and mismatched hangers into this:

 I am rather proud of it.

The good news: everything is organized inside the closet.

The bad news is twofold. 1. Too much yarn, not enough space. 2. Stuff that didn't fit nicely is...on the floor in my bedroom. With the craft supplies that didn't have a home before. And still don't.

But progress is being made.

And as I rooted through the closet, I found a single wire basket. It wasn't as vintage-y as I would have liked, but it was the right size. When Mum saw it,  she said, "I have another one of those!" And she did. Not only that, we had a slightly bigger one. So I now have three mismatched wire baskets that will work!

That is big time progress.

Tonight's goal is to sort through that craft stuff, weed through purses, and find out where I want the baskets to hang inside the closet. And when that's done, out comes the electric drill!

I'm not going to bother spray painting the baskets until I have a chance to pick the best color possible. I haven't even looked at spray paint colors yet. I was more worried with the baskets.

Do any of you have a favorite sort of spray paint? Any spray paint tips? Let me know in the comments! This will be my first spray paint attempt ever, and I could use all the help I can get.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Great Wave of Organization

It started with the bookshelf. I had to pull every book from the shelf and stick it in a pile before painting the shelf, and looking at them sitting there, intermingled with an entire DVD collection and countless CDs, I decided to make improvements.

I bought giant rolling storage bins to fit under the bed and put all the DVDs and CDs inside. That left the bookshelf dedicated to just books--which was a huge step. Then I found I had my various pens and pencils (which I had shoved on the bookshelf, too), with no home.

That wasn't right.

Also, I had pulled out the craft storage from under the bed to fit in the rolling storage bins. That didn't so much work, because the craft bin wouldn't fit back under the bed with the big storage bins in place. I was left with a giant pile of crafty things. Oops.

There was no place for this stuff to go.

And, well...there wasn't about to be space for it, either.

The only thing I could think of was getting my new mattress frame. But shattering my body in a car accident (figuratively speaking), left me unable to work on my Big Project, which involved using a staple gun and foam and stretching fabric over everything and more stapling.

Something had to give, but it didn't, because my neck HURT.

And then yesterday, I got a call from Mum, who had found the table I'd been looking for since...well, ever. It would take the place of an oversized trunk (that we'd picked up from Hobby Lobby on sale) as my official entertainment center. Here, finally, would be a place to fit my TV and DVD/Blu-ray player! It was at T.J. Maxx, one of my favorite places on earth, and it was CHEAP.

When I came home, one other giant thing had been added to the huge mess I had in my room. It was a beautiful giant thing, but it was giant and in the way, so I had to rearrange things RIGHT AWAY.

I enlisted help with moving heavy objects--I still can't manage that--vacuumed, and settled down to sort through things.The trunk had been filled with pictures from ages back and everything travel-related from my trips to England and Europe. It is still filled with those things, but now it is filled with them outside of my bedroom while it waits for me to bring home archival boxes for the photos and memorabilia.

Then I drug everything out of my nightstand. This would be re-vamped to store office supplies in one drawer and knitting notions in the other. sorting this took several hours, but once it was done, I had two neat drawers and easy access to everything I'll need. This leaves only the craft supplies to be sorted, and I picked up three modular boxes (they stack well) for those. One will be dedicated to only paper and ephemera, the other for painting supplies, and the third for jewelry. I might pick up one more box for scrapbook paper, if it doesn't fit nicely in the first box.

My hope is that these boxes (which are tiny), will actually slide nicely under my bed right now, meaning I can take my time finding and purchasing the right mattress frame without living in chaos.

Next step? A complete closet rehaul. This will involve getting rid of tons of clothes that no longer fit, sorting all my yarn once and for all, and making good use of space (which I'm not doing at the moment. Here are some of my closet goals:

DIY Sturdy Foam Core Magazine Files Template and Tutorial from Positively Splendid here. I like the magazine files I’ve seen made with cereal boxes and recycled materials, but this one is really heavy duty.
Photo via Positively Splendid
 I'll make some magazine boxes to hold knitting patterns and other whatsits. Here's a tutorial via Positively Splendid. There's absolutely no reason to spend crazy amounts of money on a set of fancy, color-coordinated boxes when you can make them yourself for the cost of a bit of foam-core poster board and some cute scrapbook paper!

Next up I will hunt down some wire baskets--and goodness knows where I will find them or how long it will take to do so, spray paint them, and attach them to the back of my closet door.

I'll use these to store scarves, belts, and the few clutches that I use the few times I go to fancy places. In the process, I hope to pare down the sheer quantity of bags I have to the few that I actually use.

The effect will, I hope, be something like this project from The Lovely Cupboard.

photo via The Lovely Cupboard

My baskets will likely not be so cute to look at, since I doubt I'll find such neat vintage baskets, but they will be a cute color! 

I have books in the closet, too. And the books will have to find a nice place that is NOT the closet. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and I am drawing the line at my closet door. No books allowed!

I promise there will be pictures of all these going-ons, once the room is fit to be photographed. Right now it is still a disaster zone.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Well, Sunday I woke up at 5:00 AM, screaming into my pillow because I'd tried to roll over in my sleep only to discover immeasurable pain.

Just another Sunday, right?

Um, NO.

So I took ibuprofen (the medicine that God and Andrew Dunlop gave us so that we could function as adults in an ever-changing world), and I went back to sleep.

Except that later, when I woke up again, the ibuprofen had only made my neck angrier, and I could not get up. Also I could not roll over. Also I could not reach anything, including the remote for my television, my book, my knitting, and my laptop. Since not having any form of entertainment made being stuck in bed boring as well as excruciating, I grabbed my cell phone (fortunately, I had forgotten to plug it in to charge the night before, so it was within reach), and I called home.

Did I mention I was home?


I heard the phone ring on the other side of the house, and I prayed silently that this was not one of those days when my mother decided picking up the phone was a bad idea (she does this). But it wasn't, and she answered.

"Mum?" I said.

"Yes? Laura?"

"Yes," I replied. "I am trapped here."

If this had been a Stephen King novel, that would have been a very creepy sentence. Also it would have been nighttime, the East coast, and probably Maine.

"What?" Mum asked.

"I cannot get out of my bed."

This is one of those shameful things you say as an adult, all the while remembering those advertisements with the old lady on the ground crying out, "Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" The lady we made fun of on the playground in elementary school. I am that person now, but younger and with better clothes.

Mom helped me up, but I regretted it instantly.

An hour later, I was in the ER, waiting.

The ER is boring. Also it takes up to three hours for them to call your name, even if it LOOKS empty inside the waiting room. This is because everyone has better things to do than go to the ER on a Sunday, including medical staff.

To my shock, Dad had responded to Mom's notification that I was heading to the ER by also going to the ER. And so there were three of us and I felt like a four year old with two worried parents, which was slightly awkward until Dad found Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on the ER television set, and then it was like home but with uncomfortable chairs.

It is whiplash. Which means I have this sexy collar to wear.


It is offensive, but it is an orthopedic device, so what can you expect? It's better than the way I was holding my head before (balanced on my right shoulder), even if I do have to eat like a dinosaur now (meaning I reach my whole head and neck toward my food like a stegosaurus, causing The Brother to hum the Jurassic Park theme at me as I ate my dinner last night. Since I am me, I made dinosaur calls as I ate instead of getting angry and throwing things at him.

 But because I am a knitter, I instantly found a better way to wear the neck collar.

There is a reason why I knit all these little scarves.

I was feeling pretty good about the whole scarf/collar combo until my friend Melanie brought up that I kind of look like Velma. Which meant nothing to me until I Googled Velma, and lo and behold, I am one orange turtleneck away from solving crime with a cowardly dog and a VW van.

Velma from Scooby-Doo. No, I did not 
draw this. It is all Hanna-Barbera, folks.
I don't know whether to be ashamed of this or proud. Without intending to, I have clearly reached cartoon immortality. I know what my Halloween costume will be now, if I ever have need of one. I mean, some people live their whole lives without ever knowing who their cosplay double is, but now I know, all it would take is a costume change and I would be Velma from Scooby-Doo, only not in a gross way. (Don't ever Google pictures of Velma and you'll never know why the gross. No really, don't Google Velma pictures. Don't.)

They also gave me muscle relaxers and prescription ibuprofen and a SHOT. The shot made me feel cozy, which was necessary, because without it I would have torn that neck collar of in a minute flat, like I want to do now. Apparently, the shot made my hyper-sensitive fear of strangulation (the reason why I don't already own a Velma-style turtleneck) fade enough that I could be comfortable in the brace thing. But the shot has worn off now, and it is only fear of agony that is keeping the brace on.

I should be okay soon, or so they tell me. But two weeks ago, they told me I was "clinically insignificant." So we'll see.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Please Make the Hurting Stop

I am a broken, broken person.

I mean it. Parts of me are about to fall off, or wither away. I feel like I have been tumble-dried, or hurled down a flight of stairs, or, gee, I don't a CAR ACCIDENT.

It's been almost two weeks since Bethany and I were bounced about like rag dolls. She still has her hands bound up in gauze as her burns heal, but I have nothing visibly wrong with me anymore.

Nothing VISIBLY wrong.

My back is killing me. It isn't really my neck, but a spot between my shoulder blades. After a while, it grows and encompasses my right shoulder and neck. And that is when I want to curl up in bed with my heating pad. Except that is not always smart.

I had nestled into bed like that earlier this week when I discovered at bedtime that I was unable to move. I had frozen there, like a turtle, my arms and legs the only mobile parts of me. My back had resigned its position as body-mover, and I was trapped there, waving my arms and legs, wishing it weren't so late and that I could call my family for help.

At around that same time, it occurred to me that our ancient heating pad might not actually have an auto-shut off feature. And if that was the case, I would slowly bake to death and die like that king Paul told me about who slowly roasted to death waiting for his servant to come help him, because he was too lazy to move his chair further from the fire. That was it. Laziness. Except in my case, I couldn't so much as unplug my heating pad, because I could not reach the cord.

I was trapped.

Clearly, I lived. But I could have died, and that is why we need a new heating pad.

This morning I tried the heating pad again, because I woke up feeling as if my head was connected to the rest of my body by a single, rusty hinge. I have spent my day attempting to remain as still as possible, not an easy feat with four classes coming through the library for activities. Meanwhile, I have taken ibuprofen, and I have taken Tylenol, and it has been as if the pills stared at me with their blank faces, laughing silently at me as they refuse to help.

Does anyone have a full-body cast they aren't using?

I keep telling myself to tough it out, because I'm from the Midwest, and we tough things out, but MAN does this hurt. And I have a really high pain tolerance. I know this because three different doctors told me so. Otherwise, I would have thought the opposite because I've always found pain pretty painful, generally speaking.

I want to be the kind of pioneer woman who plows things and then says, "Huh. This tooth hurts," gets the pliers, and does her own dentistry before going back outside to plow even more things.

I am not that sort of girl.

Instead, I'm resigning myself to the fact that I'll have to go back to the doctor to have him check me over again, just in case, so that I can maybe get that back brace I've never wanted, like Deenie from that Judy Blume novel of the same name.

In the meantime, whatever you do, don't hand me anything or give me things to do, because I can't hold anything or do anything. I'm lucky I'm standing right now. Wait. I'm sitting. You get the idea.

Instead, remember that I really want to be a fun, happy person, but pain has made me bitter and sarcastic. More bitter and sarcastic than normal. Remember Old Laura, and hope as I do that she will come back, with her fully functioning spinal column intact.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dad's Withered, Aged Lungs

Sunday was Dad's birthday, so we vowed to take him out to celebrate on Monday, as none of us had to work that day, including him. He always works Sundays. It's a pastor thing.

I did an appalling amount of research and found a Chinese place that seemed promising, Wu's Fine Chinese, in Fort Wayne. We went. We ordered.

And the food was AMAZING. Not clumpy, corn-starchy grossness. No MSG, either. And rather than just listing negative things they DIDN'T do, everything was well-seasoned, cooked properly, and well presented. The wait staff was fantastic, too.

Dad was in heaven. He was eating everything, and then it happened. He sucked a chili pepper into his LUNGS.

The wait staff thought he was dying. Everyone came to make sure he was still alive, because his face had changed colors three times and the coughing still hadn't stopped. Finally, he fled the table to the restroom so he could cough without terrifying other diners.

A waiter came and asked us if we thought he should go check on Dad. I think he thought Dad had DIED.

When Dad came back, he finished sucking down his dinner and finished Paul's. He tried to explain to the waiter that he would have coughed that badly if he had choked on water, too. But no one believed him.

Best birthday dinner ever.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Happy Interlude

In between almost dying (after the car accident and before I was almost run down by a speeding white pickup truck outside the library this morning), Rachael and I went on an excursion to Indianapolis to meet up with our friend Maureen and my coworker Juliann AND go to a book signing. We got to go meet YA author C.J. Redwine AND we got to see Rae Carson again and pick up their new books. New SIGNED books.

Because we are Knitters, this trip also involved two yarn store visits. Knit Spot in Indianapolis was our favorite. And yes, that is Habu.

And because we love food, our trip also involved a trip to a yummy sushi place in Kokomo. This is my bento box. I ate ONE PIECE of the sushi. I am proud of myself, because usually when I try to eat sushi, regardless of what it contains, I try to throw up the sticky rice the second it touches my tongue. I need rice to be drenched in sauce if I'm going to eat it, apparently.

AND a cheese shop. And a cupcake shop. We HAD to bring the authors cupcakes. It's what we DO.

And a pizza place.

And the Barnes and Noble Cafe.

Don't you judge us.

It was Juliann's FIRST book signing, and I am proud of insisting she leave college the second her last class of the week ended so she could come. I mean, why stay on campus when you can go to a book signing? That's ridiculous.


We had a blast, and my head didn't fall off, even with my car-accident neck issues, which are obvious if you look at the weird way I am holding my self. What is up with that hunched neck look? Not attractive, Laura.

While I was at the bookstore, I snatched up Rae Carson's The Bitter Kingdom, which I couldn't wait to get my hands on, and Defiance, which is the first in C.J. Redwine's trilogy. I also discovered that Jasper Fforde's Song of the Quarkbeast had finally been released in the states, so I fangirled a little bit, then bought it, too.

It's a really good thing I just went through my bookcase, because if I hadn't, I would have nowhere to put all the new books coming out this fall.

Christine Johnson stopped by, too (she took the group picture) and so did Mike Mullin. It was a YA Lit party. Basically, the most fun ever.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Still More Terrible Things

Because this is the best summer ever, I was in another car accident. ANOTHER.

This time, I wasn't driving, so Francis was spared. But it was super-freaky and much worse than the last accident. My friend Bethany was driving, and she ended up with second degree burns on her hands from the airbag. I ended up with bruised ribs, a messed-up neck (no whiplash, thank goodness), and a brokennotbroken finger that hurts like the dickens. Stupid finger.

We were heading to Fort Wayne for Indian food--which, by the way, I still haven't gotten--and a car pulled straight across the highway were were driving on. The people in front of us moved into the left lane to try and avoid the first car. They collided anyway. And then we hit the first car, because there was nowhere to go.

Bruised ribs suck. Also so does having your neck unable to support your head, and a finger that makes using my dominant hand impossible.

Here is Bethany's car.


And here is the car we hit. The side impact was us...the front impact was from the car in front of us, who didn't manage to miss them when they swerved.


Did I mention ouch? Because ouch. Luckily, everyone walked away. But really. Ouch. OUCH.

If the fates are listening, no more car accidents, okay? And if the Summer of Suck can be over now, all the better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Epoxy! Epoxy on Both Your Houses!

I started this evening with bits of broken curtain rod and a container of epoxy.

I finished the evening with a partially-used container of epoxy and a broken curtain rod. And did I mention that the curtain rod is now disassembled, torn from the wall, and outside the house?

Apparently, when the bottle of epoxy says, "Do Not Inhale" it really means, "If you use this inside a dwelling, even one with no walls and barely a roof at all, it will dissolve your brain like an alka seltzer tablet in 30 seconds flat."

I tried to fix the curtain rod, but the epoxy could not seal without some kind of clamp or stabilizer, which wouldn't work with the construction of the curtain rod, so my hand had to be the clamp, and I have a tremor, so it wasn't all that stable. In the course of a few minutes, I had gone from a happy, hopeful person to a violently ill shadow of a girl.

And then I said, "This is ridiculous," so I ripped the whole curtain rod out of the wall, mostly with my bare hands because the screwdriver wasn't fast enough. Then I drug the whole assembly outdoors and chucked it into the garage, probably ruining it further.

Now I'm in bed with a migraine, and I might be dying. Was this worth saving money on a curtain rod? No.

Was this experience worth it, just for the Shakespearean home-improvement joke? Yes. Yes it was.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bookcase

The bookcase in my room has long been an eyesore, an object of shame and discomfort, a blight upon the decor of my living space.

When I was finishing junior high, Gran generously offered to buy me new, grown-up furniture, since I was basically living in a room designed for a five year-old, and I had limited resources to do anything about it myself, since my idea of transportation involved smiling politely at one of my parents in the vain hope that one of them would agree to drive me somewhere, or, alternately, riding my bicycle the several miles it takes to reach the nearest gas station in hope that they would have whatever I was looking for. But since the one-room gas station only stocked lottery tickets, powdered donuts, cigarettes, and the occasional inexplicable onion (Where did they come from? who bought gas station onions?), I was usually out of luck.

I picked out a glorious bedroom set, but it didn't come with a twin bed (as my room is too small to accommodate a larger mattress), and it didn't come with a bookcase. Mum and I didn't so much care about that, we resolved to replace the bookcase at some unspecified time and to find a twin bed that matched or blended with the new furniture.

The bed was eventually replaced with a metal sleigh bed contraption that was probably the worst-constructed piece of trash ever produced by whatever company J.C. Penny ordered it from. It had no support for the mattress aside from a single metal beam across the middle, which wasn't anywhere near enough support to hold even my slight junior-high school frame, leading to the box spring portion of my mattress bowing and, eventually, breaking.

Nothing makes a girl feel skinny like snapping the mattress she sleeps on. It was the sort of thing that gives lifelong shame and insecurities, like being asked if you're having a girl or a boy when you're not pregnant, like splitting your pants, like looking into a full-length mirror when you're dressing, like sitting down in a chair and having the chair give up the ghost in that very second, leaving you on the ground, littered with chair bits, wishing you didn't like food as much as you do, or that maybe you liked exercise a whole lot more.*

But, even though it was horrid and ill-constructed, the new bed stayed. And so did the plain, white, Sauder bookcase.

This bookcase, let's be honest, is crap. It was not designed to last the length of time it has lasted, and it was not designed to be used as hard as I use it. I think Sauder thought it would hold a couple books, maybe. For me, it holds hundreds of books, because each shelf has a front and a back row of books on it--that's right. I double-stack those babies. I have to. If I didn't, I'd have to buy two more giant tubs to fill with excess books and my closet doesn't have enough room for more than three--I know, I measured.

The back of the bookcase is composed of cardboard that was coated with a plastic/waterproof substance. The rest is made of laminate-covered particleboard. And yes, some of those shelves HAVE bowed from the weight of my books. And no, I don't have a problem. If I had a problem, I'd be like those brothers from Harlem who had a maze of newspaper in their apartment, eventually dying in the labyrinthine passages and remaining undiscovered even as the police began an investigation following their disappearance.

And the bookcase clashed with the entire room. If it had been merely painted white, I could have done something about it easily. But no. And according to everyone I talked to, you couldn't paint on that laminate stuff it was made with. I was out of luck. I also wasn't about to buy another bookcase made of fake wood. It would have to be, at the very least, GOOD LOOKING fake wood, and it would have to be the right color fake wood to make it match with the real wood in the rest of the room. Such a fake wood bookcase does not exist, so I lived with the white, even though the room is painted in a cream parchment paper color that clashes terribly with white.

But then I saw an episode of Oprah (whose show I watched quite a bit when I was in college, because boredom and only dial-up internet at home). and Nate was on, and he said you COULD paint laminate, but you had to prepare the surface properly using this special spray paint.

Which does not exist. Or, maybe it exists in the fancy home-decorator places he goes to in Chicago, but in Indiana, it does not exist.

And then Pinterest came, and I found a tutorial. This blogger details how she managed to make her shelves fit with her decor, which was exactly what I was going for, the hasn't-been-chewed-on-and-then-spat-out-again look.

I had a bit of vacation time last week, so I spent the time going to Lowes, buying primer, grabbing paint chips, choosing a color, priming, painting, and applying a clear topcoat to the bookcase.It took ages, it killed my back, which at this point is made mostly of bone dust and held together by string or maybe by the clothes I'm wearing, but it was so worth it.

Since I suck completely at chronicling projects I do, here is a random, highly-unflattering picture I found of myself modeling a tee-shirt in front of the bookcase before.

See that yellow/cream wall and the white shelf? And the freaky-exhausted-looking girl who doesn't know where to put her arms while taking a picture of herself using her camera's automatic timer? That was what we wanted to change.

The color I chose was Mustang, which was a dark brown with just a hint of purple to it. I know that sounds bizarre, but it actually matches the quilt on my bed and the

And, well, let's face it, I have a lot of books. Clearly, when the picture on the left was taken, I had just removed many books...because I have space on the shelf behind me.

Because this is what was on that shelf when I pulled out all the books.

If you take a closer look, you'll see that there are also VHS tapes and CDs in that pile--those weren't actually on the bookshelf but in the tiny space between the shelf and the wall. They now have a new home, along with the DVDs I had crammed on the bookshelf, in storage under my bed. I would have liked to do this for under-the-bed storage, but my bed is so horrid, it won't allow me to have anything this wide.

However, Sterilite makes these great boxes with wheels that will roll under your bed and out again easily, no matter how many seasons of The X-Files you cram inside them. And they just so happen to fit between the bizarre leg/post things my bed has.

And here is the bookcase after my ministrations.

You will note that it does not clash with the wall behind it, the drapes, or the carpet. You will also note that there is SPACE for more books, even if a few of the shelves are stacked double. You may also notice that, in moving the bookcase prior to painting, I knocked two leaves off the hook that holds back the drapes. So when I go home today, that's getting put back together using jewelry cement, like the leaves on the curtain rod were when I knocked those off.

Apparently, I suck at making my room nice and keeping it nice for more than 30 seconds at a time.

The bookcase could look better, sure. It was my first furniture project, and next time, I think I'll tear the furniture as far apart as possible--for this project I just took out what shelves were removable. And I'll stick to a roller for everything, instead of using a brush. It turns out, I hate brush marks like a sickness, and I couldn't really sand the primer as vigorously as I wanted to, for fear of removing chunks of primer and leaving exposed laminate.

That being said, I'm thrilled with the results. For once, it looks like my bedroom wasn't thrown together by a drunk monkey on a budget, and I am a happy girl.

If you want to try out the tutorial I used, you can find it here. In looking over it a second time, I noticed she does recommend using a roller for the primer, so I suck at reading and following directions, no surprise to the many elementary school teachers who scribbled that in the margins of my worksheets. In the meantime, I'll be working on another home improvement project, so more on that later. Here I am buying supplies...

We can thank Rachael for immortalizing this moment for us. It was like holding a cloud.

* One of those things has not happened to me. The rest have happened. Some of them more than once.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Brake-ing News

Francis now has all kinds of new parts; parts that make the braking happen. This is a good thing. It turns out that almost every part of the brakes that connected to the wheels had...issues. Many issues. Cylinders when away, discs went away, various pads, rotors...expensive issues.

Still--fixing these problems on Francis was way cheaper than buying a different Focus of the same year and similarly equipped. (Car Guy sold Francis to me WAY below the blue book value. Because Car Guy is magical. Also because he bought a Nissan and the dealer threw Francis in--meaning Francis didn't cost him all that much, either.)

The odd part is that the brakes never FELT bad. I was purposefully looking for a car that had very good brakes, because the Taurus' brakes were always less-than-adequate. It was as if the brakes Ford put on the Taurus had discs the size of quarters. They had as much an effect on stopping the car as a mosquito has in stopping a charging elephant. The Focus' brakes felt great when I test drove it. But now they feel way more awesome. Francis' brakes are MASSIVELY IMPROVED, not just a little bit. So bad brakes on a Focus must be 10,000,000 times better than good brakes on a Taurus. So there's that.

Here's hoping that all the brake repair that went into Francis means his brakes won't randomly give out on me. I've had that happen way too many times. I've even gone so far as to warn The Brother never to let me drive HIS car, because the brakes will certainly fail while I am behind the wheel. That happens when I drive cars. I will hit the brakes and think, "Again?" I do this instead of thinking, "Dear God, please let me live," which I imagine is what most people think when their brakes go out. It happens so often I keep a bottle of brake fluid in my cars at all times. Most people do that with a bit of oil, maybe some antifreeze...but not me. If I'm taking a trip in a car that isn't mine, I take the brake fluid with me. Because you never know.

It's a good thing I've had plenty of brake-failure practice. Considering the sheer volume of times I've had brakes fail, it's miraculous that I've only had one brake-related accident.

But practice with brake failure still doesn't make it fun to hurtle forward through an intersection, clutching the wheel as if wheel-clutching will improve stopping power. I'd really rather never have to deal with that again. Let's hope this massive brake repairdeals with any of those problems for a few years.

So, brakes fixed. Now let's see what other plot twists this summer throws at me. Will I be smote from on high? Will the library explode? Will I be washed away in a cataclysmic flood? Stay tuned and find out.

Meanwhile, tonight at the library I'm throwing a birthday party for Harry Potter. The kids will be making wands using this tutorial. It's a fun craft and a pretty easy one--you should try it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Well, Gosh.

I was driving to work today in Francis and the brake light went on. And then off. And then on. And it continued to flicker the rest of the way to work.

This brings my count incidences when I've been driving a car as its brakes begin to fail (or give out entirely) up to six.


Sometimes I just want to sit down and weep.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Best Buy and Other Complaints

For my birthday, my parents are having my good stereo put into Francis, so today Mum and I hopped into the car and drive to Best Buy with the stereo so it could live inside Francis's dashboard and play me music that is not shouted by Ke$a (who is appalling) or that woman on American Idol who keeps screaming at Mariah Carey (who is equally appalling).

Guess where the stereo is now?

If you guessed, "In an American Eagle bag in Francis's trunk," you were correct. Have 50 points.

When Mom made the appointment at Best Buy (to surprise me), the Geek Squad man asked what the make and model of my car was, what the year of the car was, and what the stereo was. Then he asked what car the stereo came out of previously. And that was it. We should have been asked just one other thing: what cables we had.

Apparently, there was a cable that hooked into the dashboard, deep, deep inside. When I pulled the stereo out of the dashboard of the Taurus, I assumed (silly me) that I wasn't supposed to grab the handful of cables running out of the back of the stereo and rip them out of dark parts of my car's internals where they were attached as if I were some kind of evil Game of Thrones character. I thought I was supposed to find the middle section where the cables hooked into other cables, unhook them, and take half the cables with me.

I was wrong.

Mum and I drove all the way to Best Buy (1 hour) and got turned away at the door, because we were one cable short of a party, and Best Buy doesn't sell the cable we needed, even though it is the standard cable for every model of Pioneer stereos produced in the last 10 years.

Then I went on Pioneer's website and tried to order the cable. The cable itself was just under $15.00, but then the shipping for the cable was $15.33, making the simple act of dropping a bag of wires into an envelope and popping the envelope in the mail more costly then the process of manufacturing the wires in the first place.*

That is, in the words of my gran, "Ruddy stupid."**

What makes things worse is that I drove all the way to Best Buy and back, spending money on gas just to spend more money on a cable that will be mailed to my house, followed by spending still more money at some future date, when I drive back to Best Buy to have the cable and stereo installed in my car. All because Best Buy Guy didn't ask us all the questions he was supposed to ask.

I find this all quite vexing. And Best Buy Guy owes me 15 bucks in gas.

* I did not buy THAT cable, I bought a knock-off on Amazon, which was $8.00, no tax, no shipping cost. Take that, stupid Pioneer.

** Imagine that in an English accent.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Francis Focus VI

I have a new car! It is a 2006 Ford Focus in a pretty silvery sage green color (which is lucky, because I had exactly no color choice whatsoever). It is wonderful.

I wrote out a list of everything I wanted in a car. On that list, I wrote the words "Ford Focus" and put a little heart on either side, because I am 12 years old. I gave the list to Dad for him to drop off for our Car Guy to look at. And he didn't give it to Car Guy. Several days passed, and Dad called Car Guy to mention that I was interested in a Ford Focus.

"That's funny," Car Guy said. "I'm driving one right now."

See, Car Guy had gone to an auction to find a car for his granddaughter, who was looking for a Nissan Somethingorother. He found the Nissan, but it ended up going too high for what his granddaughter wanted to pay, so he dropped out of the bidding. By the end of the auction, the Nissan still hadn't sold. The same dealer had a Ford Focus that hadn't sold. Car Guy told the dealer that he'd buy both and gave the dealer a price, then the dealer went for it. So Car Guy had a car for his granddaughter and another car, a Ford Focus, which he figured he'd sell. I doubt he imagined he'd sell it so fast...

By the time Car Guy had made it back to his shop, Dad arrived to look at the Focus. It had a bit of a bushing issue, Car Guy said, and he had it set to be fixed the following day. There were also a few chips out of the paint, like from gravel or something like that. Car Guy was getting those fixed as well. Also he was buying new tires.

It wasn't ready to drive yet, so Dad told Car Guy I would be by on Saturday to test drive it, since it would have the wheel bushings and tires replaced by then. Meanwhile, he snapped a few pictures, sent them to me, and went back home.

I obsessively Googled the 2006 Ford Focus SES ZX-4 at work, I stared at the pictures, and I hoped hoped hoped that no one had ever smoked inside that car, or dumped Febreeze inside it, or Axe Body Spray, or anything else that would make me allergic to it and prevent me from purchasing it, if it happened to be perfect in every other way.

Friday, after work, I went to the lot even though Car Guy wasn't there. Mom came along. And we stared at the car and looked through the windows and we thought it looked VERY GOOD. I may have named it then.

Saturday, I jumped out of bed and went to drive it. And it was brilliant. The brakes were lovely. The steering was responsive. It had working everything. And it would be MINE. So the little Focus went off to get its paint touched up and I waited patiently until Thursday afternoon, when I went and picked it up.

I have named my car Francis Focus VI for this reason: A few weeks ago, Pope Francis came out and said to all the Catholic Church workers (priests, nuns and the like), that they ought to not be driving around Bugatti Veyrons but instead purchase something more humble, a car of the people.

I imagine he meant for them to choose something like his car: a compact Ford Focus. So even though I am not Catholic, I named my car Francis after him, Focus because it is a Focus, and the VI comes from the six in 2006.

I may have put a lot of thought into that.

Friday, July 12, 2013


This is the part of my day when I want to curl up in the fetal position in a dark room and pretend that no one wants anything else from me at all, especially not money, and I don't have to listen to anything but the sound of the episode of Modern Family I'm currently watching.

Something tells me that isn't going to happen.

So instead, I am going to laugh at this for a while and wait for it to be time for me to go home and go to bed.

I'm out of Modern Families to watch.

Also the cell phone company screwed up the billing. Again.

Also there are too many things to do, and for some reason, people seem to want to call me and tell me about the problems they have without listening to the problems I have, which I suppose works out okay for them...not so much for me, though.

Also I keep throwing up. I imagine this is either because of medicine, stress, or medicine AND stress.

Also, I may have found a car. I don't even care anymore. I just want all that to be over, so I can go back to all the other things I have to do, because there are too many of them. Too many things.

And now I am going back to work. Because this was my 15 allotted minutes of rest, during which I allowed myself to guessed it...overwhelmed. Now back to fixing all of the things.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Black Smudge

I have no car, and it is depressing. I am now like a woman without a country, all my belongings crammed into a single bag, moving from car to car as the days pass. I can't even leave a straw wrapper behind me, because that would be rude, so now my purse is crammed with receipts from drive-thrus and straw wrappers, from all the sweet tea I drink.

I drink a lot of sweet tea.

Add to that the necessity of carrying around a car charger with me, sunglasses, tissues, and everything else that usually lives in my car, and my purse has become a giant bag of stuff. I even have to carry around my back-up book just in case I finish my lunch book. So two books instead of one! That means my purse is heavy. Very heavy.

It is so heavy that I popped the button that holds one side of the strap on my purse. It shot across Walgreens like a champagne cork, ricocheting off an end cap and landing in the shaving aisle. I had to unbutton the other strap, shove the strap in my purse with the rest of my stuff, and slink across the store to pick up the button, all while praying that, on the security cameras, I looked like a girl with a broken purse and not a rampant shoplifter.

I bet I looked like a shoplifter.

I even avoided going back, because it was so shameful. I thought, "They will have blacklisted me by now. I will be a persona non grata at the Walgreens." And that is horrible because they are the only place that always has Sudafed in stock, and I can't live without Sudafed. My sinuses will explode and fly out of my face just like that button flew off my purse, and I can't imagine how expensive THAT surgery would end up. Pretty darn expensive, I think.

But today, I had to go to the store before I went to work, because I needed to buy boiled sweets.

You see, one of my fillings changed the shape of the tooth in question ever-so-slightly. The other filling (the one in Toothy), has medicine inside it and has a temporary filling. One of those things, or possibly all three, has made my mouth feel strange, so I keep swallowing air. And swallowing air makes me throw up.

I have been throwing up since Tuesday morning. Randomly, because it has nothing to do with the food I eat. One minute I'm fine, the next, I am so-very-not.

The only way I've ever found to stop myself from doing the air-swallow thing is to suck on a boiled sweet through the day.

This is likely why I have cavities. Also the sweet tea. Also I am eating pudding right now. So there's that.

I slunk back into Walgreens for a bag of Lifesavers (which are, in fact, actual lifesavers, because if I have to throw up one more time, I will throw MYSELF off the library roof). And it wasn't a big trip, so I thought it would take five minutes but it ended up taking 15 minutes because the lady in front of me needed to get cash back and Walgreens only gives you $20 at the most, so she bought what she needed, got disappointed, then bought cigarettes for another $20 back, then candy for another $20, and then something else for still another $20 until the cashier and I wanted to throw all the cigarettes at her and tell her to use the ATM two steps away. Seriously.

And then I rushed back out to the silver car, my dad's OLD car and now my mum's, jumped inside, and went to work.

But when I walked into the library, I noticed a giant smear of filth on my hand, and I knew where it had come from, and I knew it wasn't going anywhere. It was the black smudge, and it was there to stay.

The silver car (which Dad calls the Silver Bullet, after something), has some major issues. Firstly, water leaks into the trunk when it rains, forming at one point a giant pool in the trunk that we could have hatched frogs in, or mosquitoes, but mostly it grew mold.* But then Dad solved this problem in the rational way: by using an extra-long drill bit to bore a hole through the bottom of the trunk and out the bottom of the car, so the water could drain.** Also he threw away all of the non-metal things inside the trunk, like the lining and the piece of wood that covers the spare tire and makes the trunk flat and keeps the bolts that hold the car together from tearing holes in plastic bags filled with groceries. Moreover, it is a coupe, which means two doors, which means giant doors, which means heavy doors. And the doors are too heavy for the hinges. At one point, the driver's side door hinge failed and you had to lift it to close the door. That got fixed, but now it clicks a bit, meaning I don't trust that door at all. Not one bit. Then there is the smell, which is a chemical/flower smell, meaning a headache when I ride in the silver car.

None of that is enough to make me not happy to be driving the car, to be driven in the car, or grateful to have access to the car. It is reliable. It is fuel efficient. It isn't a death trap, like my '91 Honda Civic was.

No, the reason why the silver car is not my favorite is because randomly, when inside, outside, or around it, you discover smears of black filth on your hands, arms, clothes, etc. Dad told me yesterday that it was the rubber seals--that someone had attached them using a fixative that was now dissolving into greasy smears of filth. All I know is that soap and water does nothing--once that stuff is on your skin, it's not going anywhere.

And that is why I've named the silver car The Black Smudge, or Smudge for short.

* This is one of the two reasons I am actually allergic to the silver car.

** I know, you thought the rational thing was to clean out the water and have the trunk re-sealed. But don't feel bad, I thought that too! Turns out we were both wrong.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Care for Your Teeth in 14 Easy Steps

1. Check up

2. Panic

3. Fillings!
     A. One happy, easy filling
     B. Two temporary fillings--teeth drilled and filled with antibiotic, then filled (for now).

4. More panic! Because what if the antibiotic-filled teeth are WORSE than the dentist thinks? What if HE HAS TO TAKE THEM AWAY FOREVER AND YOU CAN NEVER EAT BREAD AGAIN?

5. Guilt, because tooth care was so expensive, you could not afford to treat your asthma and your various other diseases AND care for your teeth, so now you must suffer (from both at the same time and from poverty)

6. Shame, because you are such a wimp, you are allowing yourself to be tormented by teeth (and poverty)

7. Rage, because your old dentist sucked so badly, the work he did went wrong, leading you to the current state of affairs. No new bad teeth exist, only OLD bad teeth, with fillings that went bad. Stupid Old Dentist.

8. Repeat steps 4-7

9. Fix other tooth (after dentist's vacation)

10. More x-rays! Fix temporary fillings--after antibiotics stew under the temporary fillings for 6 weeks.

11. Teeth cleaning. And poverty.

12. Did I mention poverty? Because there will be a lot of that. A LOT. Because no dental insurance. Why would you have that?

13. Meanwhile, consider that two hugely important chunks of your body aren't covered by standard health insurance--if you have health insurance, your eyes aren't covered and your teeth aren't covered. Your ears might not even be covered, if you have hearing loss and want a hearing aid. Never mind that the health of those parts of you can have a massive impact on the other parts of you. I mean, can you imagine if your health insurance company decided not to cover your heart, or your lungs? Would you go for that? That's basically what they're doing with eyes and teeth...and they're getting away with it. This sucks.

14. Repeat steps 4-7 a few more times

15. Repeat all steps that apply annually. For the rest of your life, or until your teeth are all removed and replaced by bionic teeth that can cut through steel and have a half-life of 700 years. Yes, they are radioactive. Did you imagine bionic teeth wouldn't be?

Guess which parts of this list are happening to me RIGHT NOW? Really. Guess.

Monday, July 8, 2013

When Entropy Attacks: Part the Second

As the drill approached my face, I plotted murder.

Not really. I'm a pacifist. But if I was going to murder someone, it would be my OLD dentist.

To understand why, we must move back in time, to when I was a Little Laura and a chunk of tooth fell out of my skull in the band room, and I was sad. Chunks of tooth fell out of my skull all the time back then. It was because of what I like to call "chewing," and I was constantly surprised that no one else had to spit bits of filling into the waste basket between bites. Teeth were always breaking, that was what teeth did, and if they didn't break like that on other kids, it just meant that other kids were freaks with teeth that could be used as multi-tools, ripping open packaging, punching holes in tin cans, prying the tops off bottles, and so forth.

I had weak teeth. And that meant I saw a lot of my dentist.

Who was evil.

Firstly, he didn't believe in pain. Well, maybe he believed in HIS pain, but not in mine. Like, say, your tooth breaks in two in the lunch room. You would call and he would be like, "See you in two weeks!" And you would say, "But it HURTS!" And he would say, "Take a Tylenol."

For the record, when your tooth snaps in two like a stale pretzel, Tylenol doesn't stop the pain. Liquor might, but not Tylenol. And as a child, I wasn't really given ready access to liquor, nor should I have been. Instead, I would just chew on the other side of my mouth and eat lots of pudding.

As time passed, enough chunks of tooth had fallen out and been replaced that I knew certain things about my dentist that a person just shouldn't know. For example, I knew he enjoyed going to the salon for a perm several times a year, because he forgot what decade it was. I also knew that he feared children and disliked people. Which is bad when you work with people and children (who are small people).

I also learned that it didn't matter what I said to my old dentist, he was going to ignore me. So when I told him during my senior year of high school that one of my top teeth hurt, he ignored me. He told me it was sinus pain and didn't bother to take an x-ray, even though I was due for x-rays.

On four other occasions, he ignored me as I complained about that specific tooth. "It's your sinuses," he would say. "Take a Tylenol."*

Today I had most of that tooth drilled away! Because guess what? It was actually messed up all along! Who would have thought? Certainly not me, I mean, what do I know, I'm just a stupid girl, right? It's not like I noticed or complained about anything over the years, did I?**

I would just shrug this off and say it was one goof in years of good dentistry if my poor mum hadn't just had four teeth removed because the root canals Old Dentist gave her over many years had all gone bad. ALL of them. So there is a pattern of suckiness and neglect from Old Dentist as WELL as bad perms.***

So, New Dentist, who is probably the best dentist I have ever met,**** drilled away a big chunk of my tooth and shoved antibiotics in it, then closed the top off with a temporary filling.

What does this mean? It means that I MIGHT get to keep that tooth. Hooray! It also means that he might have to rip that sucker out of my skull like that torturer guy did to Jennifer Garner in an episode of Alias I saw once. Although hopefully with more anesthetic.

It also means that if you can't associate the word "gentle" with your dentist (even if in your brain, your dentist is holding a drill when you picture him/her) kick your dentist to the curb and find one that will listen to you. Do this before you start wondering if cramming a Chiclet into the space where your real tooth used to be would fool anyone.*****

I will keep you up to date, because I am so throwing a tooth funeral if poor Toothy has to go. This is my bad tooth's new name. I named it because if I'm going to swear at something, it had better be differentiated from the other nearly identical things around it, so it knows exactly who I'm talking to.******

* If Tylenol doesn't help when your tooth shatters like broken glass, it sure as heck isn't going to cure MY sinus pain, which can fell elephants, bring down mountains, and collapse stars.

** This is sarcasm.

*** There is no such thing as a good perm on a man. Or if there is, I don't know about it.

**** He actually said "Hello!" before dragging out the drill, strapping me down, and ripping chunks of tooth out of my head! Who does that? I think New Dentist is a saint.

***** If you have never wondered this, you've never had a tooth shatter mid-vacation when you're trying to enjoy good Southern barbecue. 

****** That's right, we're personifying the tooth. Meanwhile, soon, my mouth (thanks to Toothy) will have cost me more money than my Taurus did. That means I refuse to eat a bad meal again. If I go to a restaurant, and someone brings me pasta in a cream sauce, and the cream sauce has broken, I will sent it straight back, because if I am spending this much money to fix my mouth, I am raising the culinary standards around here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

When Entropy Attacks, Part the First

So, Dad is home from Guatemala. This is a good thing. Mostly because he almost couldn't go.

Imagine you are asked to go on a trip to another country. You say, "Yes, of course, I would love to go!"

Then what do you do? FIRST. The first thing. Before you pack your bags, before you buy your airline ticket...what do you do?

I'll give you a minute...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fancy Phone Is Fancy

I can blog from my phone now. And I am doing that. The phone blogging, it is HAPPENING. 

Also, I am watching The Avengers. This is called multitasking.

There is still no car news. I do not imagine that there will be any car news for at least the next few weeks. This week, Dad comes home from Guatemala, if he even made it there in the first place...we have heard nothing from him at all since he arrived at the airport. He and Mom then leave almost immediately for one of the Carolinas. I keep forgetting which one. What that means is that there will be no car shopping during that time, as I decided after the last go of it that Dad's help would be of use.

I'm not upset about it. This gives me time to de-stress, get over the shock of the accident, and get started working on some of the big, exciting things I've got going on at work. By the time Dad is home, I may even be looking forward to finding a car.

Meanwhile, mobile blogging! Let me know what this looks like on a real computer screen, because I have my doubts.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pass the Tissues: In Which I Feel Sorry for Myself and Have a Weep

Note: In this post, I am going to gripe a bit. A lot. If you don't want to read about a grown woman crying about cars and money, this isn't the post to read. Go read the post about my first attempt at the 30 Day Shred. It's actually funny. This post isn't. Unless you like laughing at me when I cry. Then I guess it is...

If you don't want to read about me crying, you can read this friendly summary about my car hunt!

Laura's Car Hunt

Today I test-drove a pretty car that worked. It was nice. It was too nice. It was Expensive.

I am too po for that car. I am so po, I cannot afford the last two letters of "poor." I cannot buy Pretty Car, which was a Ford Fusion. So, I am asking Car Guy to look for an older car that is less equipped than Pretty Car, but still the same make and model. I am hoping for the best.

And if you keep reading, you'll see what hoping for the best looks like, inside my fatalistic brain:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Goodbye Little Green Ford...

Yes, the title of this blog post should be sung a la Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." I have no regrets.

To celebrate Father's Day properly, I took Dad out in my car and we crashed. Then I stress-cried for two hours, because that's how I solve problems, apparently. The next day, I went to visit my car, and it looked like this:


Dad and I are unharmed, as are the people in the other car, so there's that. But fixing the little green Ford would cost far more than the car is yeah.

Let's have a moment of feeling sad for my little friend with wheels on.




Okay then. Dad is in Guatemala now, building things for people. I would not trust him if he were left with a hammer and nails unsupervised, even if he were building a board with nails sticking out of it and not someone's roof or house, but there you go.

He left me his car, which used to be my grandpa's car. And as I drove to work yesterday (on fumes, because he'd departed for Guatemala with no gas in his car whatsoever), I realized that I was braking Fred-Flinstone-Style, with my foot dragging on the ground underneath the car. Or at least, that's what it felt like.

"There are no brakes in this car," I thought. "It is just like my car accident, only worse because now I know what it is like to slam into something made of pain."

Luckily, the problem was low brake fluid and was quickly solved. BUT STILL.

Dad had avenged himself by staging an Agatha-Christie-esque murder plot. He is out of the country, which is the PERFECT ALIBI. Also, does Guatemala extradite? 

Well, I thwarted his plan. Next step: Finding a new(ish) car. A car that is new to me. A car that doesn't suck. This could take years. 

And when Dad gets back home, I'll have to be extra vigilant to make sure I'm not murdered while I hunt for a car. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

It's Father's Day, so it's time for me to tell my father how awesome he is and how lucky I am to have him as my dad.

Once, at the condo where Dad's parents live, we were out behind the house at the big pond that was the water feature the condo-owners all paid tons of money to look at out their back windows. Fish lived inside the pond, so I had taken my little cousins outside (they were visiting from Colorado), so we could all look at the fishes.

The fish ate the bread we brought, then my aunt came outside with my dad and my grandparents, and one thing led to another, and Dad picked me up and threw me into the pond with all the fish. The fish then swam all around me and nibbled at my arms and legs and it became evident to me that, given the sheer number of fish in the pond, I was sitting in a soup made of their poos, rather than water.

Worse, because the whole family was going out to eat (which was why Aunt Susie, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma all came outside in the first place--to tell us it was time to leave), Dad chucking me in the water forced everyone to wait for their food while I took a shower to remove the mud (fish poo), then because we were an hour and a half from home, I had to wear my grandmother's clothing to dinner out. And since I was maybe 12, I was mortified.

I even had to borrow shoes.

And when I was little, when Dad woke me up in the morning, he used cubes of ice. Or he grabbed the headboard and footboard of my bed and shook the bed violently, screaming "EARTHQUAKE" at the top of his lungs. This occurred often enough that when we had an actual earthquake, I woke up just enough to say, "Don't be a jerk," and then went back to sleep.

Because Dad used to slam his face against my window-screen every time he went for a walk in order to terrify me, the sound of someone breaking into my home through a window to rob and murder me will never frighten me or wake me up if I am sleeping. So that's convenient.

I bet other people's dads don't give them all these great stories they can tell on their blogs. I bet other people had boring dads who made them eat their peas and never toppled their chair over at the dinner table because they were leaning back on two legs. My dad is awesome. And I am lucky to have him.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Made My NAME!

Look at this. Seriously. I made this happen. It was magic.

That's right. I made my signature a picture. Now if you don't mind, I'm off to show everyone I've ever met how clever I am, even though Candie Cooper taught me how to do this and I didn't figure it out on my own at all, even a little bit.

Isn't it nice that I can be entertained by such small things? I think so.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The End of an Era

It finally happened a few weeks ago. The beginning middle end of the end.

When I had just finished college, and I realized that I no longer had the ability to use internet with a connection that didn't involve dial-up, I decided the time had come for me to finally break down and buy a laptop. I had a bit of money, so I went to a store and picked out a mid-range HP laptop with a sizable hard drive, 4GB RAM, and a CD/DVD burner. To make matters even better, it had a spot for you to plug an SD card RIGHT INTO THE COMPUTER. This was living it up, and I was a very happy girl. I took the laptop home and promptly wrote a very crappy novel on it during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

That was nearly seven years ago.

My new laptop was running Windows Vista, though, so there were some problems. Windows Update was a nightmare, there were warnings every 30 seconds asking me If I Really Wanted to Open Internet Explorer, Was I Sure, and Just In Case, Did I Want to Change My Mind Before It Was Too Late? I found a fantastic tutorial, learned Windows Vista inside and out, turned off all those ruddy warnings, and made Vista run more like XP, which was a very functional form of Windows that I am quite fond of.

Years passed. My laptop was lovely.

Around Year 3, the cooling system of my laptop wasn't working all too well...and the battery wasn't holding a charge because the fan had to run so very hard to keep the whole computer from overheating and shutting off.

After a bit, someone on Twitter clued me in, and I saved myself a good chunk of money by not buying a cooling dealie for the laptop. Instead, I used a cooling rack from the kitchen. It worked brilliantly.

I was still using it ages later, when the inevitable happened. After five years, the laptop finally came into contact with the ground.

I didn't drop it. But I had sat down on the bed, where the laptop was sitting (on the cooling rack), and the shift in weight caused the cooling rack to tilt, and the laptop dropped off the bed and onto the floor.

That was when the DVD drive stopped working.

Also, there was an incident with buttermilk that made my speakers a bit less than ideal.

And the hard drive was full, so I'd bought an external hard drive for my photos and documents. And then I bought another for my iTunes library.

And even still, in the last two years, there developed a bit of a lag with the keyboard. I'd type a sentence, and then another sentence, and then the rest of the paragraph, and when I'd moved on to the next paragraph, the first few words would finally appear on the screen, quickly followed by the rest of the paragraph. It was only about a 30 second delay. Not that big of a deal, really.

But finally, a few weeks ago, it got much worse.

See, I had to keep the laptop plugged in, because the battery would die if I didn't, as the fan had to run as hard as possible just to keep the whole thing running. And for some reason, the plug wasn't working so well...

I mean, the cord worked. The cord was fine. It was the part of the laptop, the port in the side where the plug went in. For whatever reason, plugging in the cord, it didn't make a difference. The little blue ring around the port, it didn't light up so well anymore. I would have to turn the cord around inside the port to make the blue ring light up.

A week passed, and it wasn't just something I could solve with a little wiggle of the cable. Nope.

By last week, I had to spend 15 to 20 minutes messing with the cable to get it to connect and stay connected. And I knew the time had come.

So yesterday, I bought a new laptop. It works. I'm utterly shocked. I have no idea what to do with a working laptop. It's another HP. I read all sorts of reviews online, and this one was well liked by all. It has a massive hard drive, 6GB RAM (that can be expanded to 8GB), and it is quite an improvement. It hasn't died once, words appear as I type them, and even though I haven't tried it yet, there's a DVD drive over on the side here that seems willing to accept a DVD and maybe even play it.

I don't even know how to deal with this.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bad Preservatives. Bad, Bad Preservatives.

I did not die of mayonnaise.

That being said, the idea of a mayo that can last for over two years beyond its official expiration date is troubling. It's been over TWO YEARS since that mayo should have gone around the bend, but it didn't. It was still edible. And that brings up a question...

What did they PUT in that mayonnaise?

Traditionally, mayo is eggs, vinegar, and oil. By slowly whisking these ingredients together, one creates an emulsion, which is an awesome chemical reaction that is also delicious on BLTs. That being said, eggs spoil. Usually, they spoil horrifically, and are very dangerous.

Eggs can kill you.

Eggs can make you wish you were dead.

That means there's bound to be something in that mayo that keeps the eggs from killing people. And I can guarantee it's a chemical with an unpronounceable name that will last even in the case of nuclear holocaust.

It makes mayonnaise the cockroach of condiments.

So maybe, instead of worrying that spoiled mayo will make me sick, I should be wondering if ALL mayo will give me cancer, or slowly pickle my organs so that when I actually die, people will only notice I'm dead because I stop buying yarn and sweet tea.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bad Mayo. Bad, Bad Mayo.

Today I consumed mayonnaise with an expiration date of November, 2010.

Lots of things go through your head when you eat a sandwich covered in a condiment that is well over two years old. You think, "Why didn't I LOOK before spreading this on my sandwich?" You think, "How did I TRUST a condiment from a refrigerator shared by every library employee?" You think, "Gee, I hope this afternoon has more to it than just me waiting to throw up. Or die."

Can you die of mayonnaise?

I suppose we're about to find out.

When I was eating my sandwich (ham and Swiss), I thought that Dijon mustard tasted awfully acidic. I kept telling myself that maybe I'd not spread it as evenly as I usually do, so I was getting more mustard than usual in the mustard-to-sandwich ratio I prefer. But no. That acidity was probably millions and millions of angry little bacteria, which are now descending into my digestive track fueled by their desire to live and the rage caused by being trapped in a jar of mayo, unable to grow and spread, for over two years.

Right now I'm trying to figure out whether this dyspepsia I'm feeling is related to thinking my sandwich is poison or my sandwich actually being poison.

Food poisoning is such a sucky way to die. I was hoping for something epic, like falling off a mountain, or tripping over my own foot and triggering a Rube Goldberg-esque chain of events leading to my subsequent demise. But no. Instead, I will expire with my face in a toilet, losing my sandwich as I lose my life.

But do you know what the really sad part of all of this is?

My mayo-sandwich death won't even make a decent Youtube video.