Thursday, September 29, 2011

I am so Hardcore (or I’m Not Dead Yet)

Dear Internets,





I was going to tell y'all that I was leaving on vacation, and then I got all excited about jetting out of town (OK, not jetting, driving. In a fabulous rented Toyota Corolla. Yes, it was fabulous. Shut up. You can have your dreams of luxury, and I can have mine, OK?) and I didn’t post the post that I was planning to post to let you know I was going to be gone.

So when I got back, I got all these messages, “Are you OK? What’s happening? Are you dead?” and I felt bad, but also kind of vindicated, like the internet NOTICES when I’m gone.  I am friggin' famous.

Here’s an example of what happened when I came back to Google+ and put up a picture:

(click to enlarge picture)

My old buddy, we’ll call him “Pyro” for the sake of the story (just randomly and NOT because he set me on fire one time in a coffee shop but that WASN’T the reason we called him Pyro, and I mean, hypothetically, if we DID call him Pyro back in “the day” it wouldn’t have anything to do with setting himself on fire at a 7-Eleven or anything). Anyway, Pyro noticed I was gone. Angie Uncovered and Hoodyhoo and Wagthedad noticed I was missing. Heck. I’ll bet loads of people noticed I was MIA.

So driving this morning, I said to Boyfriend, “All these internet people noticed I was missing!”
Boyfriend: “They’re addicted to you.”

Me: “I feel so loved!”

Boyfriend: “… Gee. Thanks.”

Me: “Awww… I didn’t mean that.” Reaches over and pats his leg, “I just mean I’m loved by strangers.”

There was a pause.

We both talked at once.

Me: “Yeah, that didn’t come out right.”
Boyfriend: “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Me: “OK, and it isn’t like they’re strangers, anyway. I met them on the internet.”

Boyfriend, “OK, that’s better then.”

So what I ‘m saying, Internets, is that I didn’t mean to worry you.


P.S. This is the post that I forgot to post before I left off posting.


Sometimes, I think that deep down I really just want to be totally straight edge. No smokes, no alcohol, no meat, no caffeine, nothing.  I imagine I would feel really good, become a morning person, and be all kinds of superior to the other mortals.

Luckily, when I think I want to be all awesome and healthy, my mind goes, “AAAAAAAAAAAGHHH!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! FRIED CHICKEN!!!!!!!!! BEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!”

I keep sabotaging my poor health choices by doing things like this:

I take a week off from work to go on vacation.

I don’t go to Cabo san Lucas where the margaritas are plentiful.

I don’t go on a cruise.

I don’t even go somewhere tropical at all.

I don't go to a place famous for the cuisine.

Where I am going, there will be no cabana boys to refill my pina coladas.

Where I am going, there will be no room service, no gambling, no flushing toilets, no motorized vehicles, and no alcohol at all. I can’t even bring my own. There will be no towels to steal. There will not, in fact, even be “permanent shelter”.  I will not have access to a phone or the internet (although it is possible I will see a double rainbow).

And yet, I am desperately excited to go.

Crazy, right?

I promise, this isn’t some psychological break. This is something awesome.

No, I am not joining a cult.

I leave in the morning. I will be back in a bit over a week.

All packed up and ready to go (I am not bringing the Jazzy cat nor the couch).

(Written on 9/16 and I left the next morning.  More to come)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Can't Talk and Chew Gum

It turns out that even I can learn a lesson if it's driven home about 40 times.

When I was a junior in high school, I was in an accelerated math and physics program.  I was not particularly good at either one of these subjects, but I really wanted to be good at them.  I had a deep seeded desire to be a real nerd who was smart, and not just a socially awkward, pimply freak with no friends.  At least if I was smart, I would have an excuse to be a complete dweeb.

I was sitting in my trigonometry and math analysis class one day, not paying much attention to what was happening in the room.  I was desperate to seem like I didn't need to study or try at all in this class even if it meant I would have to stay up until 2 in the morning learning from the book.  Instead of paying attention, I was trying to figure out how to play a video game on my TI-84 calculator.  An actually smart kid in front of me had installed it on his calculator, and then showed me how to transfer the program from his calculator to mine.  I was too nerd-cool to tell him that I had never played Minesweeper before and I didn't know the rules.

I was clicking randomly on the easiest level, hoping to have some kind of epiphany and become a Minesweeper expert, when I overheard a conversation the teacher was having with a student in the front row.  They had obviously gotten off topic.

I didn't like the girl in the front row.  She was not only able to style her hair so that it looked good all day, but she was skinny, had no pimples, was a straight A student, in student government, a cheerleader, had a boyfriend, and had already gotten a scholarship to some nice expensive school out east somewhere.  She also had a brand new car because her parents were rich.

Basically I hated her.  Looking back, I don't think she had actually hit puberty yet.

Rich Smart Girl was talking, "I don't know what's wrong with it."

Teacher (in his thick Austrian accent): "So you were late this morning because your car wouldn't start?" So you ver late dees mornik because your car voodent start?

Rich Smart Girl: "No, it started, but the blinkers didn't work, and I thought maybe it was low on blinker fluid or something."

The entire class burst out laughing.

Teacher (laughing): "Oh yeah?  Did you try to fill it?"

Rich Smart Girl (blushing and defensive): "My dad told me there's no such thing.  How was I supposed to know?"

It was one of my happier moments in that class.


On Saturday, Boyfriend and I went for a little hike before heading to his stepsister's house for a housewarming party.  We were a little early, so we thought we would do some shopping for our trip next week before we arrived.

Earlier in the day, my turn signal went out.

Left, no blink.  Right, no blink.  They just stayed on solid.  The hazards worked, but that didn't do me any good.

I am totally a "signal every time I change lanes" kind of person, so I was manually blinking by moving the lever up and down as regularly as I could while not crashing my car every time I changed lanes or turned.

While funny at first, click click click click, trying my hardest to not signal SOS in Morse Code every time I changed lanes, it was getting a little old.  I thought about just not signaling, but I just couldn't find it in myself to do so.  It was a RULE, and I have a really really hard time breaking rules. 

I kept saying things like, "AHHH!  I need to take this in and get it fixed." 

"Ugh, maybe it's just a fuse." 

"Ha ha ha, blink blink blink!"  I may have started to sound a little manic here.

Getting more and more strained by manual blinks, I blurted out, "IT PROBABLY JUST NEEDS BLINKER FLUID."

Boyfriend burst out laughing.

I laughed, too.  "You're awesome, Boyfriend.  You didn't assume I was serious!"  Or, rather, that's what I meant to say.  What I actually said was, "You're awesome, Boyfriend, you didn't assume I was YYEOOOOOOOWWWW!"

I swerved back and forth across the road, tires squeeling.

Boyfriend braced for impact, "WHAT'S WRONG!"

"I bit my TONGUE!" I bid by TONG.

I got the car back under control without killing us.  The pain was fading a little by then, although my bubblegum was starting to taste oddly like blood.

This seems to happen to me a lot.

"Apparently, I can't talk and chew gum at the same time," I said to Boyfriend.

He started laughing again.  I'm not sure if it was from relief that we didn't die, or because he thought my joke was funny.

And now I have a new rule:  DO NOT talk, walk, run, think, sing, drive, or do pretty much anything while chewing gum.  If I want gum, I need to sit very very still in a closed, undistracting environment because this shit takes concentration.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Corn Dog and Fried Twinkie Diet

"Let's stay in tonight," Boyfriend said.

"OK," I replied, "That sounds nice."

About five seconds later, I got a text message from Boyfriend's Sister, "I'm bored," she wrote, "Want to go to the fair with me?"

"Um," I said to boyfriend.  "Maybe instead of staying in, we should go to the fair."

Boyfriend: "..."

Me: "It might be fun to take pictures and stuff."

Boyfriend: "..."

Me: "You don't have to go, but suddenly this seems like the BEST IDEA EVER."

Boyfriend "..."

Me: "Come on, come with me, it will be FUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN."

Boyfriend (blinking): "Um."

Me:  "YAY!  We'll just go for an hour or something.  It's going to be AWESOME!"

How could anyone ever regret this?

We got there just as the sun was going down, so it seemed clean and well kept.

We wandered around waiting for Boyfriend's Sister, ending up in one of the 4H halls at the south end.  Or maybe it was the north end.  I can't tell directions.


As we walked, we passed by the "food" stalls.

I mean, this is like a land of awesome and funnelcakes.

 "OH MY GOD!  THEY FRY CANDY BARS!"  I squeaked.  I may have been a little overstimulated from all the flashing lights.

"Huh," said Boyfiend, "Good thing they use cholesterol free oil."

"Well," I said, "They should have options for people who are health-concious."

I'm glad they fry their Snickers Bars in Cholesterol Free Oil.  I would hate for this shit to be bad for me.

"I want cotton candy," I said.  "And maybe a corn dog."

"You know, a corn dog sounds pretty good."

We didn't buy anything, but wandered around, looking at quilts and crafty things until Boyfriend's Sister showed.

When she did, instead of "Hello," I said, "I want a fried Twinkie."

Apparently, the Fried Twinkies were not fried in Cholesterol Free oil (sad face).

We decided to split one, because none of us knew exactly what to expect.

The carnie... or whatever he was, he seemed awefully well kept to be a carnie.  Maybe he was actually serial killer, or an alien.

He looked like he was about 70 and was delighted to take my order.  It was a little scary, especially when contrasted with the monotone blank 20-something girl working behind the counter with him.  Maybe he was a vampire and she was his "thrall" or whatever.

The carnie picked up a Twinkie in his gloved hand and skewered it with a strange efficiency.  He then carefully  and artistically dipped it in batter.  He twirled it on the end of the stick like some kind of magician to cover the whole thing evenly, and then dunked it in the fry vat.

A minute later, he pulled it out and dashed it with powederd sugar before handing it to me.

Breaded, fried, and covered with powdered sugar, this fried Twinkie was my first, but it certaily will not be my last.  How did I survive so long without it? 

FUN FACT:  The gooey center of a Twinkie will get even hotter than a Hot Pocket.  Seriously.  How the shit does that not burn a hole through the bedrock and cause a volcano?

Once we were done eating, approximately 3.2 seconds later, we walked through the area with the animals and I fell in love with a goat.

I really really really really really want a pet narcoleptic goat.  SO CUTE.  I wanted to cuddle it and say, "I'm sorry that you have somehow developed such an inability to deal with stress that you faint when you are scared.  That totally sucks, and that is a total bullshit evolution.  You may have just proved that evolution is crap and God has a sense of humor."
Me: "Boyfriend, I want a goat."

Boyfriend: "I thought you wanted an octopus."

Me: "I still do. And a dog. And chickens."

Boyfriend: "OK."

Me: "You could get a llama."

Boyfriend's Sister was unsurprised by our conversaion, or else she just ignored us to pet the cute little market lambs.

We forgot to go back and get corn dogs.

Side note: I think I just figured out why I am not losing weight even though I work out at least four times a week.  It has nothing to do with fried Twinkies or corn dogs.  It can't.  That would be an amazing injustice.  No no no.  It's a government conspiracy to keep Americans fat.  It has nothing to do with my lack of won't power.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I am Artsy as Hell

I always wanted to art for a living when I grew up.

I was (and am) pretty good at making arts, but I have never been particularly successful at being a self-promoting entrepreneur, which is apparently what you actually have to be to make a living as an artist. Talent is optional.

Oh, and you have to make a lot of art..

Since "working professional artist" doesn't happen instantly, you also have to have a regular job at first, and produce a bunch of art in your spare time until your art supports you.   This means you have to give up things like going out with your friends and wasting time in bars and stuff.  Which kind of sucks.

So I kinda gave up. 

Years and years ago.

I never paint anymore.  I rarely draw.  I don't sculpt anything. 

I have started taking pictures though, or, as I like to think of it, the lazy man's art (and before I get any hate mail about how difficult good photography is to make, I would like to point out that crappy artsy photography is remarkably easy to make, so just chill).

See how artistic I am?  I take close ups of flowers.

I always liked taking pictures, but more as a "I am documenting something that happened that I am too lazy to write about."  Photos have to have a story to be really artsy fartsy.   

I call this one, "Red Sunflower", and the story goes something like this:

I was at the supermarket waiting for my boyfriend to pay for propane at the service desk.  We were having a beer making BBQ, and we were going to need it.  As I waited, I looked at the stuff in the floral department, stunned at how pretty the red sunflowers were.  I brought them up to my boyfriend and said, "You should buy these," and he said, "OK."  When we got home, I put them in water in a glass vase.  A few minutes later, the vase water had turned bright magenta because it leeched the dye back out of the flowers.  They were DYED.  I knew that.  Totally.  

Just before sunset, I took a picture of the petals back lit by the sun to represent the synthetic commercialization of even natural beauty.

(It might help if the stories are poignant or interesting in some way, but I have to start somewhere.)

I also take pictures of sunsets and mountains.  AMAZING.

Boyfriend and I walked up to the convenience store at the end of the neighborhood.  He had run out of cigarettes, and I felt the need to get out of the house.  The BBQ guests had gone home, and all that was left was finishing off the beer and food, and cleaning up, so a little break first sounded nice.

At the convenience store, I bought a bottled green tea with citrus, which was supposed to be sugar free.  I don't know why, but I was expecting tea with lemon.  Instead, I was shocked by a sweeter-than-candy flavor of sucralose overpowering all else.  Hiding my crushing disappointment on the walk home, I glanced up the road to the west and saw a spectacular sunset, so I took this picture.

 I had to walk an extra half a block to get this picture.  I am dedicated.

I call this "My Feet are Sore from Walking Several Blocks in Toe Shoes and I am Battling Enormous Disappointment in my Bottled Diet Green Tea"

I'll even attach my camera to a tripod and wait for a long exposure because I am just that artsy and patient.

I was mostly trying to figure out the settings on my camera. I've had it a few months and I still don't know how to use it very well, only kind of well.

Mostly I just push a bunch of buttons until the camera does something vaguely resembling something I want. Other times, it does the opposite of what I want and I pretend that that is actually what I wanted to do, I meant to do that, OK? I'm being "artistic."

What's awesome is that the camera doesn't take crappy pictures, like, hardly ever. I think I would really have to try to suck at photography with this camera, which leads me to believe that this particular form of art is going to have a lot of competition, and just because I take a good picture doesn't mean that I will ever be able to sell a single thing that I do, and I should just give up now without even trying, I mean, what's the point?

(Excuse me while I go hide under my bed and cry now).
Since the tripod was already out and everything, Dad suggested we play with some long exposures with the little LED lights we all have attached to our keys and light things up with them.

Obviously, the first thing I tried to do was to leave light graffiti all over the damned place.
And fail.

This shit is harder than it looks. Not only was I trying to write my name big, but I had to do it backwards and blind. My mom kept snickering and laughing at my contortions as she stood off to the side, but I kept at it, and I sorta almost wrote my name legibly...

A reasonable facsimile of my name.  I spelled it "LAURA" because it has fewer letters and less confusion than the proper spelling of "LEAUXRA".
And then I decided to get CREATIVE.

I made a flower and hid in the stem.

Also notice that I have three legs in this picture (and not in the dirty way).  There is a literal two left feet visible.

Way way back in the dawn of time, when I still thought life was going to turn out the way I planned and I was in college learning about art, there was a picture of Picasso drawing a bull on a long exposure just like this.  Only he used film. 

Anyway.  I remember thinking this was something only super-duper famous awesome artists could do.  I thought it would be way too complicated and... well, I'm pretty lazy, so I never tried.

Add in a few beers, though, and suddenly this is the most entertaining shit I have ever done.

I made something like a kitty cat arching its back and hissing.  This photo also includes a creepy self portrait with too many legs.

I don't know what I did to end up being paid to be nice instead of artistic for a living, but I would like my money back, please.

Friday, September 2, 2011

And Some Things I'm Just Bad At

I went away to college when I was 18. I wasn't ready to go to college and really would have benefited from taking some time off from everything, but college was the fastest way out of the house without getting a job. I brought my clothes, some of my books, my VHS tapes, and collection of cassettes to listen to while I studied.

A month or two later my parents apparently got sick of living in 1982, and decided to repaint my old bedroom and scrape the popcorn texture off the ceiling. Instead of trying to cover the furniture with a drop cloth, they did the easy thing and just moved everything out of the room so they would have space to work.

They discovered a huge pile of junk underneath my bed. There were missing socks, a t-shirt or two, lost homework from high school, permissions slips, my 8th grade reading book (which I insisted had been stolen out of my locker), forgotten toys, half-finished artwork, and a small ashtray.

Yes. An ashtray.

Because I had been secretly smoking in my bedroom for the last year of high school. I would sit in the window in the middle of the night with the screen out, and choke down a cigarette every couple of days in order to feel more rebellious. I smoked cloves because they didn't smell like regular cigarettes and I was careful to never leave ashes where they could be found, didn't flick my butts, and always brushed my teeth after. The perfect crime.  My parents never knew.

And then I left the ashtray under my bed when I moved out, knowing full well that they were planning to renovate.

I learned an important lesson that day:  I would really suck at being a criminal.  I leave way too much evidence behind.

It was a crushing realization because I desperately wished I could be a cat burglar.  I don't know.  Maybe it was the skin tight leather outfits or the witty repartee, but "cat burglar" was on the top 3 list of career choices that I picked for myself in 1994 (after "artist" and "theoretical physicist").  Beautiful and smart and sexy and rich, oh yes, rich.

To this day when I read about a daring heist, I have to remind myself that I don't actually want to go to jail, and I would suck at crime so spectacularly that I would spend my life behind bars if I even survived the caper.

To this day, I need reminding why.

Reasons Why I Would Suck at Being A Criminal:

  1. I am a terrible liar. No, I am seriously bad at it. This is why I can't play practical jokes. I start to say, "Oh no! The gnome must have moved on its own!" but about two words in my chin starts to wobble as I struggle to contain my smile. The longer I hold on, the more desperate the smile is to get out until my cheeks are twitching and I turn bright red and my eyes fill up with laugh-tears and then I guffaw like a donkey.

    "No, officer.  I have..." *ahem* " no idea..." *choke**cough* "...where the ahh..." *serious face* "...what was it? Oh, yeah, um... no idea where the... ah... emeralds are." *snicker*

    I would probably look so guilty they would arrest me for crimes I didn't commit.

  2. It is nearly impossible for me to keep a secret.  Seriously.  If you want something kept secret, DON'T TELL ME, and even more, DON'T TELL ME IT'S A SECRET!  Sheesh.  One of the first things I tell people when they meet me is that I can't keep secrets. .  I can't help it.  Please, don't ask.

    If I were a criminal, though, MY WHOLE LIFE WOULD BE A SECRET.  (I would also have to lie, which ties into reason #1).

    Random person at a bar: "So, Leauxra, what do you do for a living?"
    Me: "Oh, I... ah... make... blankets?" *snicker*
    RPaB: "Um..."
    Me: "Shit, dude, I'm kidding.  I am a thief and I'm totally about to rob this joint."

  3. I enjoy talking about my accomplishments... bragging, if you will. One of my more terrible jobs was at a ridiculous internet startup company around the turn of the century.

    This company was home of the "52 hour shift" and the "more than half of the support staff is on 72 hour mental health holds because you are causing such anxiety in your staff," and the reason that the first time I saw the movie Office Space, I cried because I not only had MORE bosses than him, but my job was even more annoying.

    I hated this job so much that I tried really really hard to make it better by getting my roommate a job there too, and all I managed to do was cause irrevocable scarring for both of us.

    Anyway, one thing that this company did RIGHT was that they provided soda and snacks in the break room free for employees. We both worked crappy shifts (read, "when no one else was around") so we took to "shopping at the work store" and bring home cases of Diet Coke and Ho-Hos.

    We would call each other at work, "Hey, can you pick me up a ream of paper for the printer?" or "Are there any of those Swiss Rolls left?"  The fact that I am still talking about how awesome this was should clue you in to the fact that I am incapable of NOT talking about it, even over 10 years later.  How would I be if I had committed a REAL crime?

  1. I was not born into a life of crime, so I have no contacts.  I have no idea how to "launder money" or how to "fence" stolen goods.  I understand the concepts in theory because I really like crime dramas and action movies.  But seriously.  It isn't like I could sell this shit on Craigslist. 

    Where would I go? What would I do?  Just hold onto all this random shit I stole forever?  It ain't gonna take the cops long to figure out I'm guilty when they search my house and every single item is stolen (and probably still has the store shoplifting tags on them because I couldn't figure out how to get them off).

  2. I can't pick even an easy lock.  And yes I tried.  And yes I got a book about it.  From the library when I was 18.  And yes, I think this puts me on some kind of FBI watch list.  Damn it.

  3. I am not a bad ass.   Somewhere in my 20's, I realized it was way too late for me to become a bad ass.   I don't know how to fight, and the only "fight" training I ever had was a self defense class in college where my flailing elbows did more damage than any moves I was taught.  I also dropped the class halfway through.

    I am a real wimp when it comes to pain, so I don't know how I would do in a fight to the death.  I would probably cry.
  1. I am not in very good shape.  I will admit, I am getting better.  I've starting going 4 times a week to the gym plus my weekend hikes and whatnot, but in the grand scheme of the world, I am not in good enough shape to outrun... um... anyone?

    This also leads into the vanity bit, because the WHOLE POINT of being a cat burglar is so you can wear an outfit like, say CATWOMAN, and look awesome.  I really really don't think anyone wants to see me in a catwoman suit.  I would look something like a cross between a bratwurst and Randy in A Christmas Story when he can't put his arms down, and then add in bits of fatty flesh rolling out at the seams.

    Not a good look.

  2. I worry too much.  I am pretty sure that I would have a heart attack before I ever robbed or burgled anything.  The reason is that I have an imagination, and I know that it is going to hurt when the homeowner blasts me with a shotgun or sics his 250 lb rottweiler on me.

  3. There is no insurance plan for criminals. And this would be particularly necessary because I would be in a high-physical-risk job.

  4. I don't speak any languages other than English.  Being a successful cat burglar, I would need to travel to places like the Riviera and... Dubai, I guess.  I would need to be able to speak more than one language if I was EVER going to fit in (although I am pretty sure if I were to talk around in a tight leather outfit all the time, I wouldn't fit in anywhere outside of Sturgis anyway, and even then, I would be seriously lacking in fringe). 

    I speak maybe 100 words of Latin, about the same of German, and a phrase or two of Spanish and Italian.  French is totally weird and I can't even say bonjour without it sounding like "Bon Jovi", and then I get "Wanted Dead or Alive" stuck in my head.  It's pretty hopeless.

So yes.  Reminders. 

Note to self:  Do not try to become a criminal.  You will go to jail and/or probably die.

P.S.  Oh, and I forgot to mention.  It is totally morally wrong to steal things.  There's that, too.
P.P.S. The above reasons are the same reasons I can't become a spy, either, although once the Cold War ended, this particular career lost a ton of it's appeal.