Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Old Laura Is Old

A few weeks ago, I noticed something terrifying, and that was a missing cover for my favorite earbuds. I found this out at the gym, to my horror. I would be unable to listen to anything while I ran! I would be forced to stare at the muted televisions, all set to Fox News. 

Even worse--not really broken, but the left earbud would not stay in my ear. TRAGEDY.
Let me explain. This is not your normal foam or rubber cushion, but something much nicer. It is so fancy, it has a fancy name: ENHANCER. Because it magically enhances your listening experience. If it were just a cushion, I could have swiped one from another pair of earbuds I have languishing in a drawer somewhere, but no. These are SPECIAL.

I looked everywhere, finally realizing it was really and truly gone from my life. So I contacted the company.
Dear Earbud Designer, 
Please help. I am without an enhancer. I need it to listen to The Raven Cycle books by Maggie Stiefvater when I run, or walk, or ride my bicycle. I just got my silver repeat listener badge from Audible because I've listened to the whole series ten times all the way through. Basically I need it to survive. Can I order a replacement?  

I got a reply quickly, with a link to a place where I could buy replacement enhancers. This was the best day ever. I instantly went on to order a new set of enhancers. I'd almost talked myself into ordering two sets, just in case.

I made this because Maggie Stiefvater.
That was when something happened to me that has never happened before.

I could not work the website.

I work on websites all day. Different ones. One I even add content to! One I EDIT. You'd think I could click "add to cart" and it would work! But no. It would add nothing to my cart. All I could make that webpage do was refresh, again and again. "Size four" I would select. "Add to cart," and then BAM, the page would refresh, losing my selected size and color of enhancer.

In desperation, I contacted the company again.
Dear Earbud Designer, 
Please help me because I am stupid. I cannot make your website work, because I am an idiot. I just keep refreshing the page. Can you please help me give you money?  
I got a reply back the next day.
Dear Laura, 
We would be happy to send you a complimentary pair of enhancers. Please provide an address for shipping purposes. 
Thank you, 
Earbud Customer Support.
Now, this was the sweetest thing ever. But I could not help but put myself into the position of the customer support people, and this is what I think they think about me:
Laura is a 60-something semi-retired school lunch lady. She learned how to use a computer so that she can see pictures of her grandbabies (her term for grandchildren). She has a Facebook account and posts only in all caps. She uses e-mail to sign up for free coupon services and sign petitions about Social Security. She likes to spend Saturdays power-walking around her neighborhood with her elderly cat. She keeps the cat in a backpack with its little legs sticking out of holes in the sides, because it gets tired easily. She watched that clip of Obama and his anger translator, but she didn't laugh.
I was horrified.

When did I become so OLD, so INCAPABLE, that I could not work a simple webpage? I mean, I order stuff online all the time, it is part of my JOB, and I can't order enhancers? And instead of teaching me, the earbud people are sending me free stuff because they feel sorry for me?

For a moment, I thought about going on the website again and trying to figure it out. I mean, someone must be able to use it, right? I thought about e-mailing the nice customer service person and telling them no, really, I want to give you MONEY. Please let me pay you money. But I didn't. Because I need those enhancers, and I really can't figure out how to buy them.

Maybe I am that 60-something lady. Maybe that's me, now.

I quietly typed out a response to the last e-mail.
Dear Customer Support,
Here is my home address. Thank you very much for your help. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Don't Know How To Fashion

Growing up, my mother picked out everything. Even things I hated because  Then I hit junior high, and what I wore was based on what was long enough. Every shopping trip involved countless disappointments, because I am a giant.*

Now I can get pants that are long enough, dresses that are long enough (sometimes), and usually shirts that are long enough! The internet is a miracle, because special ordering something in long or tall is EASY. It is fantastic. I don't have to feel like I'm a Godzilla-style monster compared to all the tiny people in the fitting room around me, the kind of monster that consumes people that small in black-and-white horror movies imported from Japan. I should not feel so tall that I can crush buildings when I'm shopping. I am nowhere near that tall.**

But there is a problem. The problem is that I mostly have no idea how to dress myself. I find clothes that are long enough, I buy them, I carry on. I feel like I don't know how to put together an outfit. Every once and a while I luck out and find something that works. Mostly, that isn't the case. I am a jeans and t-shirt person. I feel incapable of branching out at all.

Case in point: The black jeans.

I have never owned black jeans. I impulse-bought a pair at Old Navy two weeks ago. These ones. They fit well, they look cute.

And I have no idea what to wear them with. Should the shirt be tunic length? Do I have to wear black shoes? What sort of shoes? Should I avoid graphic tees, or should I only wear graphic tees with them? Do I need to have an oversized shirt? And people are wearing brown with black now? What's up with that?!

The result is that I put the black jeans on, stand in them for a while, and then give up.

Will someone just come pick out all of my clothes for me? Please help.

* 1. I love my height. This is a joke. 2. I might not look very tall compared to other people, but for my waist size, I am VERY tall. In junior high, there was not a size anywhere that fit me--today it would be 00 or XS in Extra Long or Tall--and the too-big clothes were STILL too short for me. I was best friends with my belt for years, and I think I wore cropped pants accidentally for most of junior high and high school. People kept asking me if I wanted to be a model. I kept responding "No, because I don't want anyone to ever look at me." This is still true. Never look at me. I will just hide behind this pillar.

** I am just under 5'10". I only feel giant when forced to try on clothes that are basically petite. Don't tell me they aren't. They might not have the "P" on them for petite, but they ARE petite. That is why tiny people can put on dresses and look cute, and I pick my size out from the rack and, if I wore it in public, I would be unable to sit without flashing people. Or stand without flashing people.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fox Mulder, Solve This.

This entire post is brought to you by a Sunday afternoon spent laughing at Texts from the X-Files on Tumblr.

Saturday afternoon, Mum and I ate at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. We split a burger and our fries. She did not get sick. Then, Saturday night, Jennifer, Brandon, Andy, The Brother and I all went to a restaurant. I ate a tenderloin, grilled asparagus, and had a Coke. Brandon and Jennifer both had that same tenderloin. Jennifer had the asparagus, too. None of them got sick, either, but a mere two hours later, I was home, throwing up every part of my meal and possibly my very SOUL.

No one else had any symptoms (that I know of), which means I was allergic to something and not food-poisoned. But WHAT was I allergic to? This is the greatest question of my life. It is asked more than any other question. "I know I had an allergy attack at the Art Institute, but WHY?" "I suddenly got a migraine and threw up, so I must have eaten SOMETHING I was allergic to, probably with nitrites or nitrates, but who knows?" These are the questions which define my life.

Knowing me, it was a preservative and/or Liquid Smoke. Do people put Liquid Smoke over grilled veggies?* Or somehow, mango made its way into a pork sandwich. But which? Now I am afraid to eat anything. ANYTHING. Except I am eating Amy's Cheddar Bunnies, because I know those don't make me sick and also they are crackers. Crackers are good for you. They aren't poison. Usually. I think.

I need Mulder and Scully to come here and find out what the culprit was. I mean, I might have been POISONED. The Brother may have been trying to kill me. He could have put arsenic in my asparagus. Or this.

 The scary thing is, I will probably never know what caused this. But I haven't been this ill since my gallbladder was at its worst, and I don't think there's any organ left inside me that can be removed without killing me. People need their stomachs. Or their intestines. Or livers. Or at least one kidney.

In other news, I enjoyed a relaxing Sunday watching episode after episode of The X-Files. I would rather have felt well and done this:

Maybe some other Sunday. Like, next week. Or the week after. Or whenever Rachael feels like Thai food or I have time to make Pad Thai again. One of the two.

I really love Thai food.

*The answer to this is YES. Why? WHY?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Apparently, I Have a Lot to Say About James Patterson

Let me preface this by saying that I really love how crazy kids at the library are for James Patterson's books, and he seems like a nice guy. I tease because I love.

We are consolidating our James Patterson books at the library. This means we are looking everywhere, seeing how many there really are, and removing double copies for storage or for our book sale. We don't need to have the same series of teen novels in YA and in Adult fiction. We don't have enough shelf space for that. So, we found at the most ten books (Who really knows? I forget) that we can be rid of, one to go into storage, and that gives us back maybe six to 12 inches of shelf space in Adult fiction.

And Patterson will undoubtedly fill that tiny space in the next week with his four new novels: I Am Not Even Trying Anymore; This Is My Grocery List, Bet It Outsells The Bible; There Was Nothing Good on TV, So I Wrote Another NYT Bestseller; and 15 Ways to Con Other People into Writing Books for You (and Letting You Publish Them in Your Name)!

I might possibly have made up those titles. But here is his book release schedule, just to give you an idea how many books he writes or co-writes or hires others to write in his name in a given month. That's a LOT. So many that I can't imagine anyone being able to keep up with that publishing schedule without a crowd of writers working under his name. This is it's own problem, but we're not discussing that today. Instead, we are teasing James Patterson because it is fun. He makes it so easy. Who else has TV commercials for their books? Only weird diet book authors who tell you the government is trying to kill you with real medicine and that plants will cure cancer. At least James Patterson isn't doing that! It could always be worse. Instead, we have Castle, and a bunch of reluctant readers who wouldn't ever pick up a book without his series.

Those TV commercials are freaky weird, though. He's a bit scary in them, shaking his books at you like a gospel preacher. Like he's saying, "Buy this, I need another Ferrari!" instead of what I would be saying, which would be more like, "My publisher made me do this, and I have given up on life. Please kill me." But James Patterson and I are very different people.

Good ol’ Jimmy Pats. He’s so fun to joke about. I also love his author photos.

We have the “I feel things” picture:

And the ever-popular “I might look like a 70-something guy, but really I am dark and mysterious” picture:

There are many versions of this one.

The “I wrote all of these books” picture:

The “When will you people stop taking photos so I can go home” picture:

Not to mention, the “I might actually be blind now” picture:

Plus, Zombie James Patterson, a perennial favorite:

Sometime when you're bored, it really is worth your while to go through all the James Patterson pictures. they are entertaining.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Book Expo America and ran into James Patterson? Neither one of us was looking where we were going, and I thought the guy walking with him (possibly his agent/publicist) was going to have me murdered. I didn't even know who he was until I saw him 20 minutes later surrounded by about a hundred book-industry folk, taking into a video camera about his newest book. Then I was like, “Dude, I just about broke Jimmy Pats’ hip, all to get past him so I could grab the newest Libba Bray book. I am lucky I was not arrested by the BEA police.” Then I shrugged and went to get Maggie Stiefvater's autograph.

This experience is a metaphor for my entire life.

* It goes without saying that I did not take these pictures of James Patterson myself, or digitally alter them to make him look like a zombie. If you know who took them, let me know and I'll give credit. I can't figure it out, because so many people have already posted them without attribution, the original is lost to the internets.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dentist, Again. And Again. And Again.

So last week I went to the dentist again, because that's what you're supposed to do, apparently. A card came in the mail and said, "You have an appointment to get your teeth cleaned!!!!" And I thought, "Cleaned is okay," so I went.

And the first thing the hygenist said was this, "You know you have a cavity on this tooth," as she pointed at the x-rays.



Seriously. What.

"I do NOT know that," I replied, somewhat crossly. "When did this happen? We FIXED all of those."

"Remember we took those x-rays at your last cleaning?"

"Yes," I told her. "And the dentist said the office would call if he saw any problems."

"Yes," she nodded.

"Except I never got that call. I would have fixed this months ago. Has it gotten WORSE?"

I was envisioning forceps. Something like this:

The hygienist then began her work, telling me that the dentist would come in to see me in a few minutes, and we could schedule a time for the other work I needed done after the cleaning.

The dentist came in and I said, "Check that tooth. It doesn't hurt, but I never knew there was a cavity."

His face went more solemn.

"I don't know what happened," I continued.

"I do," He said darkly. "Someone forgot to call you." He was NOT HAPPY. Someone, I am sure, had a worse Tuesday morning than I did.

Few people will have a worse May 6th, though, which is when I'll be drilled and charged hundreds of dollars. I don't know why I thought I could make it through this dental appointment--now appointments--without spending $500, but I did. How sorely mistaken I was.

Granted, it could come in closer to $400, but really, once you get up that high, what's an extra hundred? I mean, the carpet for my room, if I get the one I like, will be $450. Why should I be surprised that dental work should cost more than a carpet? I could buy the tile for my mother's bathroom, or I could get a tooth filled. Too bad I need these teeth, or it would be tile all the way.

I just hope that this is it. It won't be. In October at my next cleaning, there will be another cavity, or maybe more than one. My teeth suck. My whole life is one dental tragedy after another, with a few good meals in between.

I think in my mouth, only about 40% of my teeth are actually made of tooth. Maybe less.

Wish me luck. I will monitor cost and let you know what was more expensive: tooth or carpet. Let the betting commence in the comments.

The Most Delicious Things I Shouldn't Be Eating

I am making an effort to eat better. This is not a stretch for me, because I eat terribly and I know it. I love food. I love all food. I love potatoes and things with cream sauce and chicken pot pie and french fries and also the delicious cheeseburgers at The Rusty Dog. But now that I have no gallbladder, eating that way has...consequences.

I'm not going to discuss the consequences.

For Lent, Mum tried to be a vegetarian. I tried to eat what she ate. I am a supportive daughter. Mostly I just wanted to prove that I COULD. I was fantasizing about lasagna after day one. I lasted about a week before I caved. I got that lasagna, and it was delicious. I regret nothing. But I didn't change all the way back, because I felt BETTER.

So now I am eating many veggies and fruits. It is delicious, but it's hard. Not because fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive--though they are. It's hard because I have an obsessive nature, and when I find a snack I love, I want nothing else.

I should not be eating these things. But I love them. But I shouldn't be eating them.

1. Keebler Fudge Grahams.

Convenient snack cup container lets you can carry
them with you everywhere. Even in your dreams..

WHERE have these been all my life? They are made of nothing recognizable. I think cardboard and wax. Who knows. But they taste good. So good. I told Mum never to buy them again, but this afternoon I came home and found a snack cup sitting on my laptop. So here I sit eating them. Because reasons.

2. Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. These are LIKE goldfish crackers, but only in the way that I am like J.K. Rowling.**

Where were these in my childhood?
Clearly, I was a deprived child.
These crackers taste like they are made of all my hopes and dreams, plus they are bunny-shaped! This is the best food discovery of my life. CHEESE BUNNIES.

3. Chocolate Covered Oreos. CHOCOLATE COVERED OREOS.

God has these waiting for us in heaven, only with less calories.
Allison brought these to the library. She asked me what sort of chocolate I liked, dark, milk, or white, and then I had my first chocolate covered Oreo. I want to have this cookie's BABIES. If I could marry a junk food, it would be this. Somehow they manage to make the dry Oreo cookie creamy and beautiful. This is what Oreos were meant to be.

 I wish I could resist these things. I wish I was actually eating berries right now instead of Fudge Grahams. But the berries are in the fridge and the fudge grahams are right here, so...

* None of these pictures are mine, all are from the manufacturer's websites. Additionally, no one paid me for these endorsements, obviously, because if they had, I would be much fatter because I'd spend all of the money I earned on more of these snack foods.

** I am to J.K. Rowling as pathetic everyday crackers are to Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. This is an SAT-level analogy and qualifies as test prep for all of you who are still being tormented by standardized testing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

In Which Everything Is Exponentially Better

Andy rescued me. When he came to game night this weekend, he brought me this:

Probably he did this because my heartbreaking story of loss touched him deeply, and he could not bear to leave me in such distress. Either that or he is just a nice person. One of the two.

So now my heartbreak is at an end, and I have a beautiful Payne's mug which I will fill with lovely tea, and I will ALWAYS hold it with BOTH HANDS.

Here's the tea that's in my mug right now. It's full of pu'erh, oolong, ginger, and eleuthero root, all of which are gentle to my angry, vengeful stomach.

I'd love to hear your favorite teas! Let me know in the comments, and I'll give them a try.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh, the Payne, Oh the HUMANITY.

On Friday, Jennifer and I met our friend Andy at Payne's Coffee and Custard, and it was amazing. I love that place so much. I love it so much that when I saw their coffee mugs, I had to have one.


Before you ask, that is Andy's arm and no, I didn't know I was taking a picture of it.

I took the mug home, washed it, and I have used it every day since.

This morning I woke up, boiled water, and promptly dropped my Payne's mug on the ground, shattering it into tiny pieces at my feet. I then spent the remainder of the time I had to get ready searching through the whole house for a broom and dustpan.

We have no broom or dustpan.*

When I finally used some kind of brush to sweep up the tiny bits of pottery, I had to use a spare sheet of paper to scoop up the debris.

That mug lasted only FOUR DAYS in my care. I bought it Friday night, so I'm not counting Friday, and I broke it this morning, so I'm not count
ing today. Only FOUR DAYS. That poor mug deserved better. It deserved a less clumsy person and a kitchen with floors that are not so unforgiving. It deserved a LIFE.

But no. And now I feel like I shouldn't get another fancy mug somewhere, because I am not responsible enough to own a nice mug. I need gross dollar store mugs that break when you look at them. I need disposable cups.

And when all of the cleaning was said and done, I went tea-less because there was no time to make it. Tea-less Laura. What sorrow. I mean, I went to work and made tea, but it's DIFFERENT tea. This is ginger and citrus blend, not my orange pekoe, which means no milk and sugar, which means work tea is actually AFTERNOON tea, not morning tea. All of this means my day is already ruined.

This whole situation Payne's me. (See what I did there?)

Well. That was my morning. How was yours?

* This may be untrue, but, if we have either, they are out in the garage or in the shed or perhaps stored in a plastic tub in the basement, sealed away until they are rediscovered by archaeologists under a car park 500 years from now, like Richard III's bones.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Interloper Dog

I really love dogs. Dogs are awesome. You guys have great smiles, and I love the whole tail wag thing. Dogs make my life better.

But dude, I am not a fan.

Why my house? Why at 3:45 AM? WHY?????

No, really. WHY?

I just don't get it. Why don't you want to sleep at your house? I assume you went home for food, but really, did you have to leave again afterward?

Mum opened the curtains to see why Darcy was barking, and you looked her right in the face. She thought she was going to be murdered, but no. It was you, staring in our window, standing on our deck. This may have been before you peed on my car (car wash was $6.00 buddy, pay up) and stood on the door, leaving muddy footprints all over the place.

And then you stayed. You could have left! But you stayed. You were there when I woke up this morning, there when I left for work. I really love how you insist on trying to get inside our house. And chasing me to my car is a real treat. I love it. Especially in my work clothes that can't get dirty. You are bigger than me, so this is really reassuring. I would probably be LESS freaked out if you were a pit bull, what with them being smaller than you. My whole head could fit inside your mouth.

Running in front of my moving car after I pulled onto the road was a nice touch, too. I mean, I don't want to kill you, but I guess you wanted proof? Either way, it's good to know my reflexes are good enough to save your life and my own.

It's just SUPER that you feel comfortable enough at our place that you don't ever want to leave. I'm sure my parents loved walking you back to your house this morning, since your owner couldn't be bothered to come pick you up from our house (again). Leaving work is way too much trouble for her, she says. Lucky that it's no inconvenience at all for my parents to deliver you to her door. I mean, they don't have anything better to do with their time, right? But that's not your fault, that's hers. She is a bad doggy mommy. You really deserve better.

I feel like, if you had a better family, we would not be in this situation. A family that did their research about your breed of dog and knew that they'd have to install at least a 4' fence before bringing you home would probably also be the sort of family to give you plenty of exercise, make sure you had attention, trained you to stay at home, and made sure they were choosing you not because you looked like a white puff ball as a puppy, but because they knew your breed's specific traits fit their lifestyle. Instead, you have a family who put up no kind of fence, uses a chain you can slip out of tried the electric fence thing--which the internet says just annoys your breed of dog--and then decided to ignore you and not care where you were instead of trying to train you. You ended up with the short straw, man, and I'm sorry. You shouldn't have to be worried about getting hit by a car or shot at by angry people. You should be safe.

I don't want sucky things to happen to you, dude, but get the heck off of our lawn, off my car, and away from our house. Stop following us home. Please stop pooping everywhere. Please stay at your house. Seriously.

You aren't even reading this, are you? Probably not.