Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Trails

Tomorrow morning at 7 am I intend to leave for South Dakota, so why am I writing a blog post?

Because I can’t spend another second right now packing food, clothes, necessities, etc., and it’s raining so hard that I don’t feel like making trips to the car to get the car ready.

Okay, so it’s laziness. Fine. I admit it.

I had a bunch of things I wanted to say here in case I get eaten by a buffalo, which Marina reminds me won’t happen because they are grass-eaters, not people eaters. So, I threw in my concern that a buffalo could attack my car and I could die inside, but she insists they don’t attack Toyotas, only Fords. When I asked why, she had no idea, but said it was simply a well-known fact. I suggested perhaps they once drove Fords, and now, thanks to that experience, they not only don’t drive at all anymore, but they attack Fords. We agree this is the likely explanation. So, although it is improbably that a buffalo will kill me, a bighorn sheep might butt me right off the side of a cliff, and there’s no talking me out of that concern. It could totally happen.

If I die, I want to say the following things:

Don’t tell my ophthalmologist, but I’m going to be wearing my contacts the entire time I’m gone. I’ll bring my glasses as a backup, but those awful things will be in their case as long as I can stand it. Fuck the dryness – I need peripheral vision.

My biggest concern is that the 14 GB of memory I’m bringing with won’t be enough. Spaghetti Monster help me!

Last Friday I started taking a chemotherapy medication and spent late Friday night and all day Saturday feeling like I was seasick and had food poisoning all at once, with a heaping side of fever and exhaustion, and a bit of dehydration mixed in. I’ll be in the Badlands when I’m supposed to take my next dose, which will horribly ruin Custer State Park on Saturday, so fuck it, I’m not taking it. Just thought someone should know.

I got a hot plate. It looks like a mini-turntable and I will never admit to pretending to be a DJ and making vocal record-scratching noises and singing Run DMC songs while rubbing the disc. I won’t admit to any occasions in the future when I do this either.

When I told Ann I was going, she advised me not to bring makeup, any nice clothes, and not to be friendly to anyone. She also said that if a guy is staring at me or if anyone is creeping me out in any way, I should pick my nose. She cracks me up. I wonder if that will work on begging burros. I will try.

It excites me to no end that I expect to be somewhere that I will run into NO ONE I’ve ever met or encountered before. Total strangers. And it’s absolutely freeing. I can’t even explain.

I’m not packing a razor. My pits and legs will love me, but no one else will. It’ll be great.

I’m bringing junk food. Ramen noodles, peanut butter & jam, cookies, dark chocolate, and chips. I’m also bringing healthy foods like avocados, apples, low-cal bread and butter, yogurt, granola, nuts, and seeds. Any bets on what foods will still be in my food bags when I get home?

For lunch I took my car in for an overdue oil change and was told my serpentine belt needs to be replaced, but I told him to stick it, I didn’t have time or money for his stinking belt. Consider me officially jinxed.

One of my coworkers told me last week that this is the stupidest idea I’ve ever had, which has been cause for celebration everyday since. I was certain I’ve done stupider things on a daily basis, but knowing that this is the stupidest makes me feel much better. I’m much smarter than I thought.

This could be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Those are my current thoughts. I suppose I should go back to packing now that I’ve gotten them out of my system. I may update the blog if anything noteworthy happens along the way, and of course, Leelu will be your new blogmistress if I get bighorn-sheep-butted off a cliff.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Over the weekend, one of our regular patrons came into the library, and I was trying hard not to stare at her. Usually, she has a full beard of facial hair, which she shaves, but apparently a trip to the library does not warrant the clean-shaven look, so she’s quite stubbly. There are a few women in town with beards. It makes me wonder what’s in the water. It also makes me drink more pop. However, this trip into the library, she changed things up a bit and shaved her facial hair into a goatee – hence, the staring. Some teeny-tiny little part of me said good for her for embracing her uniqueness, but the remaining 99.9% of me screamed, GOOD GOD WOMAN, do you want to cause palpitations in the general public? Even the more tolerant and open-minded members?


She sat with another woman at a computer, quite closely, for a long time.

(Yes, I’m sure she’s a woman, despite the beard. Wait, whoa. I’m not THAT sure, but she definitely has the body of a woman, however unattractive that might be.)

As they were leaving, she stopped herself and walked back toward my desk, and I tried not to look shocked as she approached me.

Don’t look at the beard. Don’t look at the beard. Don’t look at the…

Her: Um, yeah, hi. I was wondering if you have, like, the Twilight books in.

Me: Oh no, sorry. Those are all checked out with a list of people waiting for them. Do you want me to put your name on the list?

Her: They’re all gone?

Me: Yeah, what with the movie premiering, they’ve picked up in popularity again.

Her: No then. I’ll just buy them.

Me: Okay.

It took a moment, but when she was gone I started to giggle. Twilight appeals to a certain crowd. Bearded women are among them, evidently, as well as insecure teens and folks who have no life. Perhaps I’m being redundant. I tried so hard to read that damn book. I didn’t get past the first chapter because being in the head of an extremely irritating and whiny teenage girl was too much torture for me to take. I never even knew about the glittery vampires (guffaw!) until the movie came out, which I refuse to watch.

After recovering from the encounter, I sent Briana an IM that said a bearded woman just requested the Twilight books, which I thought was a perfect statement about the content.

She shot back to me: Maybe she’s a werewolf.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Suddenly it all became clear.

When I got home from work, I was excited to tell my brother about the bearded Twilight fan, which he didn’t find nearly as funny, perhaps because he’d just forced himself to sit through the new movie and was in the mood to kill himself.

I asked him why on earth he would do something so heinous to himself. There are other solutions. One should never bottom out and watch a Twilight movie.

He said, having seen both flicks, the two could be summed up perfectly without the need to watch and waste your valuable time, so he offered it up to me to save me.

Plot summaries:

Twilight: I love you; I’ll never leave you.
New Moon: I have to leave; you can’t come with.

His advice is to ponder these statements and not bother with the movies.

Sage advice, I assume. Anything that steers people away is good to me.

Later, I was chatting with Leelu and told her about the exchange. Later than that, the conversation seemed to me to shift back, and we had the following conversation:

Leelu: Okay, this summation of a topic may not be as funny to you as it is to me, but I think it stands alone:

So wait, we've moved from how to shoot fictional creatures, to the theoretical rights of fictional creatures, to the right to theoretically shoot these fictional creatures.

Werewolves are srs bsns, yo.

Me: bsns?

Leelu: Business.
Leelu: Serious business.

Sometimes she has to be my translator. I’m dumb like that.

Me: Ahhh.
Me: Right .
Me: That's another Twilight reference? Or New Moon? Whatever.

Leelu: No, it was a discussion on the best way to kill werewolves in general.

Me: Ooooooooooooh.
Me: Can't you just dart them and relocate them?
Me: Put them in a refuge?

Leelu: Which is how the rights of werewolves were invoked.

Me: Like a werewolf reservation?
Me: Give them tax exempt status and their own license plates, let them run casinos, etc.?
Me: C'mon, there are better solutions to werewolves than killing them and giving them diseases from the non-shape-shifting community.
Me: They might help us one day and we'll have to invent a new holiday, whereby we celebrate what the werewolves gave us and how we survived because of them.
Me: Okay, did I take it too far?
Me: I do that.
Me: All the time.

Leelu: I enjoyed it.

Me: I should be on Family Guy.

Leelu: You should talk to Lummox more often. He does it all the time.

Marina had sent me this earlier, which I agree with 100%, and hallelujah that someone is bringing it up. Of course, it linked to something that linked to this, which is a whole lot of awesome too.

After reading that, Leelu asked, “Count Chocula?”

I replied that he was very seeeeeexxxxxxxy, and even Count von Count is hot.

She then linked me to this video, which has changed the very language Leelu and I converse in. It’s *counting* great!

So, if nothing good will ever come out of the Twilight series, at least the books led us here, to delightfully naughty muppet videos.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


If there is ever an announcement at your workplace, no matter what field you work in, wherein you are invited to join a committee of any kind and you are tempted to do so because of your (a) innate desire to be a part of something that promotes change, (b) need to inflict your overflowing opinions on others, or (c) desire to do anything else at work other than your normal work, then please heed the following: walk right up to the largest, meanest-looking, smelliest, scariest biker-dude (or manic soccer mom cranked up on her kid's ritalin, who just got cut off in traffic), and ask said monster to punch you as hard as possible in the gut so the impact forces your bowels to move themselves spontaneously, and you then find yourself doubled over for three straight days, after which you might try to walk upright, but only with a pronounced limp for another week. The latter choice, a blow to the gut, will be far less painful, far more rewarding, and on the flipside, you might have enough sick days to still have a job when all is said and done. The former, joining a committee, can only lead to prolonged agony and strained relations with not just your coworkers and fellow committeemen, but a greater distaste for those who make decisions about which the committee meets. Life is short -- committees are not.

* * *

Are you a daydreamer, like me? Do you often find yourself snapping back to reality, unsure how much time has passed since you were last aware of your surroundings, and concerned what you might have done in your mental absence? Oh no, I hope I didn't fart, pick my nose, or dig my undies out of my buttcrack while I was staring out the window thinking nostalgically about all the Weebles I had as a child and how many hours and hours of entertainment they provided to me and my imaginary friends. Did I sing the Weebles song? No one is looking at me funny. Maybe I've just been sitting here quietly. One can hope. Do you daydream so often that you find yourself doing real things and wonder if you're really doing it or if you're daydreaming again? Do you do this most often when you're peeing? You know, worry that you're actually somewhere else, lifting up your skirt and wizzing in midair, daydreaming that you're in the bathroom? I hate when I pee and don't know for sure that I am where I think I am. Or did my mom do too much acid when she was pregnant with me and no one else thinks these things?

* * *

Apathy = coffee. The other day, Marina learned the hard way that when she leaves the library in desperate need of some coffee, she needs to be more apathetic toward the world around her. When she was walking across the parking lot, she heard the distinct sound of a car being crunched by another car, looked up to see a man in a minivan look at the car he'd just backed into, then leave the scene of an accident. Standing there with her warm Hot Pocket in hand, about to get into her car to drive to the sweet release of her coffee beverage, she faced the moral dilemma of going back inside to report the hit-and-run, or just leave and get her coffee. Our dear, sweet Marina did the exact wrong thing, folks. Let this be a lesson to you, Boys and Girls, that a silly fender-bender in a parking lot can ruin your lunch and delay your coffee, which will RUIN YOUR DAY. Yes, she called the police, gave them what she knew and had a cold lunch, rushed, and coffee that couldn't alleviate the new level of frustration she was faced with.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


There's a reason I quit using the netipot: I couldn't stand the taste of salt draining from my sinuses into my mouth and down the back of my throat all day afterward. Now I use nasal sprays, but they drain down the back of my throat as well, leaving a very distinct, medicinal, steroidal taste.

Now for the grossest thing of all!

I've been using Pred Forte eye drops, which are made with a prednisone derivitive (steroid), to reduce the inflammation and swelling in my eyes, and about 10 minutes after instilling the drops, I can taste that same steroidal, medicinal taste in the back of my throat.

OMG, my eyes drain down my throat! I had no idea! It's totally disturbing and I don't know if I can continue this course of treatment. Jeeeeeesus, if someone has laser surgery, do they get a burnt flesh taste down their throat afterward? I wonder if we taste floaters or blood from eye damage we might not even know we sustain.

Ever get a weird taste in your mouth and not know where it came from? MAYBE IT WAS FROM YOUR EYE!


Pardon me while I go throw up.


Whatever would we do if life suddenly became manageable?

Ann posed a similar question to me last night, at the end of a stressful day, after an even more stressful Friday. She pondered what we would do if we didn’t have so many people/things in our lives pushing us down. How much strength does it take just to keep our noses above water? And if all the things that bring us down suddenly stopped, would we fly off into the exosphere on the force of our own resistance against the obstacles that are no longer there? Could be, but we’ll never know.

Although the pressure in my eyes is within normal range, the left eye is significantly lower than the right, which is suspicious. Upon closer, dilated inspection, it turns out that the optic nerve in my left eye is also thick and damaged. There’s no history of glaucoma in my family, nor am I in the usual age range to be at risk, but it appears I likely have it and will be having a test a week from Tuesday to determine how much of my field of vision I’ve already lost. Normally it presents with a raised eye pressure, but on some occasions, it causes a sudden dramatic drop in pressure. And although I’m not typically one who should even worry about it, it seems one of the causes of glaucoma is steroids. Of course, yet another tie-in to my favorite disease: sarcoidosis.

Lovely, yes? A photographer and librarian going blind. How poetic.

Also, my eyes are so severely dry that I’m not allowed to wear my contacts until further notice. He gave me an ointment to put on my eyes each night to help lubricate them. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Ointment on your eyes?

Oh yeah, and by the way, I have a full-on sarcoid flare-up in my eyes right now, which requires (don’t laugh) steroids.

I left my eye doc on Friday just about shattered, tried to return to work but couldn’t see well enough through the dilation to be functional, so I decided to go grocery shopping. On the way, I stopped at a gas station to get gas and had to wait in line for a turn at the pump. While waiting for a particular pump, another car pulled in opposite me and seemed to be waiting for the same pump. As the first car drove off, he zoomed in and took the place I’d rightfully been in line to have next, and I felt myself completely losing my self-control. I opened my window and threw my hands in the air in a WTF gesture, informing him of the obvious, that I’d been waiting for that pump.

He stammered, “Well, you were sticking out, blocking the way over there, and you can’t just block that…parking…spot…thing…area…”

Genius. He cut in line to punish me because he did not like the position I took?

I should have walked away, but I just couldn’t.

I shouted, “Wow, how meaningless the entire rest of your life must be when you’re not on duty here as self-appointed guardian of the Walmart gas station ‘parking…spot…thing…area’! I bet your family is so proud of you. Surely this is the highlight of your existence. I bet it goes on your gravestone. Congratulations, asshole.” And I drove off. I don’t know if he heard it all. He was kinda slow and dippy and when I confronted him initially, he didn’t seem to even want to open his door and deal with me. Why cut in front of someone if you’re not willing to face the music, cocksucker?

The next gas station down the road cost me 16¢ a gallon more, but I filled up there anyway because there were no lines.

At Woodman’s, where I grocery shop, I had an argument with the cashier, who brought her manager over, and we stood there for a ridiculously long period of time debating about a silly $1 coupon she didn’t want to take. Even though it clearly stated it was a manufacturer’s coupon, and the address to use for reimbursement was clearly that of the manufacturing company, because it had a Jewel/Osco logo on the corner, she said they couldn’t take it. They already have the most unfriendly coupon policy of any store I’ve ever dealt with, and it infuriates me weekly when they limit my coupons or refuse certain ones that exceed their limits, but to not know the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon just made me think this manager was not only illogical, but not qualified for her job. I stated repeatedly that they get reimbursed from the manufacturer, explaining that it has nothing to do with Jewel, pointing out the address on the coupon itself, directing her attention over and over to the words at the top of the coupon that clearly stated it was a manufacturer’s coupon, and she finally relented and said I was right. I’m not sure if she believed it or if she said it to keep the customer happy, which I wasn’t to begin with, but I was right, I got the $1 off, and more importantly, I won.

Dammit, people, why do you vex me so?

Slow-forward to yesterday, trying to figure out what to get for the trip.

Because I’m going alone, and because I’m going to be out in the middle of nowhere for long periods of time, confined to my car or a hotel room, it has become obvious that I need a way to make my own meals. Cooking is the challenge, but I do have some options.

Option A: Hot plate. Pros – safe, easy, dirt cheap, plugs into any hotel room outlet or the outlet in my car. Cons – takes forever to heat up and longer-than-forever to cool off.

Option B: Mini propane stove. Pros – tiny, portable, lightweight, heats up fast, cools off fast. Cons – pricier, can’t use in the car, OPEN FLAME – AH!

Option C: Suitcase-sized gas stove. Pros – reliable, stable, not expensive given the size and capacity, can cook a small frying pan, dual burners. Cons – big and bulky, costly, more than I need, definitely can’t use in the car, MORE OPEN FLAME – AH!

So, it’s a conundrum. Advice is wishy-washy. No one can tell me which one is best for my needs.

I went somewhere I thought I might find experts, people who not only have used these appliances, but with a little common sense and some descriptions of my needs, might be able to make a solid recommendation for me.

What a joke.

First of all, if you walk into a Bass Pro Shop wearing pinstripe slacks, leather boots, a satin blouse, and a leather double-breasted, tie-waist jacket, you will stand out like a sore thumb. This is one store where urbanites don’t blend. I tried not to look conspicuous, but the rednecks in their everyday camo weren’t convinced. Fine! I then tried to look helpless, thinking someone would take pity on me and rescue me. Oh look! Here comes my knight in uniform!

BPGuy: Do you need some help?

Me: Yes, actually, I need some advice.

BPGuy: Ah, well, I don’t really give advice, but I can show you where things are and go over product specs with you.

Me: Oh. No advice, huh?

BPGuy: Well, I don’t know what you need.

Me: Neither do I. I was hoping for some help choosing.

BPGuy: What are your choices?

So, I explained options A – C and he laughed at me when I told him what I was looking for. He asked what I was going to do with it, like CityGirl here couldn’t seriously be thinking she was going to cook up some grub on a gas stove in the wilderness (or roadside rest area, or whatever). He was so condescending, as if sending me out into a National Park with an open flame would mark the charred end of that area. Then he laughed again and asked what good a hot plate would do in the middle of nowhere.

BPGuy: You DO realize they PLUG IN, don’t you? Where are you going to plug it in?

Me: My car has a real outlet. I can power it that way. I chose these three options because they’re feasible, you know. I just don’t want to have to leave the park, drive to the nearest town, and hope for a fast food place to grab something quick, and then go back to the park. And I don’t want to live on chips and seeds for 6 days straight.

He then showed me where each item was on the shelf, which I already knew, and he read me the box, which I could’ve done on my own. I’m not blind yet, doofus! He wished me luck and waked away.

So, I went looking for the butchest woman I could find, one who would make indecisive, sissyboy cry with just a look, and I found her!

BPGal: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, please!

I reiterated everything I’d told Sissyboy.

BPGal: Well, I can’t really give you advice, but I can show you where each product is.

Me: *Sigh* No thanks, someone already did. How about emergency kits for winter driving, you know, for your car?

BPGal: Let me ask someone in camping, hold on.

Me [whispering to myself]: Camping?

BPGal [into her walkie-takie]: Katie, do you guys have survival kits over there?

Walkie-talkie: SURVIVAL kits? Um, lemme look. Well, we have this one thing, I’ll bring it to you.

What she brought was a glorified set of matches in a waterproof plastic tube. Big help. They put their heads together and suggested Coleman might have something and I should look online because no one around here would be selling those right now.

Oh really? In mid-November? In the Midwest? No one’s selling winter kits for your car? Are you kidding me?

I left, went to Walmart, found three different car emergency kits, and realized I had everything in these kits so I decided to put one together at home.

Then I did something I swore I’d never do. Something I’ve dreaded for years and refused to even consider, no matter how silly the struggle became.

I bought a throwaway cell phone.

Satan is now officially the majority stockholder of my soul. I smell the sulfur when I look at that hideous little device.

DAMMIT, the things I will do to see buffalo!

Speaking of buffalo, I went to the winter farmer’s market to stock up on my bison meat for the next couple weeks and spoke with my favorite rancher in all the lands.

My bison man is so cool! He’s this enormous man with gigantic, wild blue eyes and almost feral looking white hair on his head and sprouting up from his chest like a mane. If it’s possible for someone to look like a buffalo, he does. And the stories he tells about the buffalo are awesome. I’m positively enthralled with him. He has sons who help him run the business, and admittedly, they’re good-looking guys who normal people might gravitate toward, but I’m so uninterested in them, I will wait in line to talk to the bison man. He’s that cool.

When he talks about the buffalo, I get this wide-eyed, unblinking, awestruck, goofy-grinned, childish look on my face, I can feel it, and he goes on and on about the calves chasing him on the tractor, or the older female who wants to move into the house with him and his wife, or the huge bull and the trouble he causes. My brain turns to mush and I just stand there listening with fascination. When I first arrive, he spies me down the street and knows I’m a one of his most captive admirers, waves happily, calls me Sweetie, and beams when I skip over and ask about the buffalo. Suddenly I’m 5 years old and he’s this grandfatherly storyteller with yarns he spins just to entertain me. It’s great. Even after I leave his booth, when I walk past on my way back to the car, he waves happily and winks at me. The buffalo man is one of my favorite people on the planet.

So I proudly told him yesterday that I was going to Custer to see the buffalo for Thanksgiving weekend, and he piped up and said he too was going that weekend, to scout out some new purchases. He recommended some places to eat, told me to tell everyone he says hi because they all know him up there, and wished me well on the trip.

That’s when it hit me. He buys his buffalo from Custer. I’ve been eating Custer buffalo for years. I’m about to go visit buffalo I might eat in the future.

This is weird. I don’t know if I’m okay with this.

Another conundrum.

Whatever would I do or think about if things were simple and easy?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Over the weekend, I had dinner with a friend, who told me a story about going to a costume party for Halloween, where she forgot she was wearing a tail, sat down on a toilet, and then peed on her own tail. She noticed when she wiped and found extra matter in the way of her girly parts. I was grateful she shared this story when I had finished my meal or I’d have had food and drink coming out my nose. As it was, we were both sobbing into our napkins, well beyond laughing. I teased her about it, how she stunk up the party with her drippy, ammonia-scented tail, and asked about dingleberries as well. She told me to shut up a few times, but we were laughing so hard that I couldn’t understand her shut-ups and kept going. It wasn’t pretty. We laughed for so long, I thought I’d pee myself too, but I proudly stated I wasn’t the sloppy pisser she was.

Twas a delightful discovery the other day to be in the washroom at home, having run in the door after getting home from work, frantically throwing down my really long skirt and sitting rapidly on the toilet, only to find the hem of my skirt sopped through in the toilet bowl when I went to wipe. Thankfully, I was at home when it happened and quickly kicked the soiled skirt off and threw it in the sink. I went my whole life and never dipped my clothes in the toilet bowl while peeing, and I somehow managed to do it just days after ribbing someone else for doing the same thing. Karma sucks.

* * *

I’m currently reading the Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook, and I went to a program I co-run with another coworker, in which I had nothing to work on while attending, so I brought the cookbook with to copy recipes into a notebook before the book is due. While sitting at the table with a group of people chatting about their craft projects and why I didn’t bring one, I noticed I’d used pieces of a Hershey wrapper to mark the recipes in the book that I wanted to write down.

Um, yeah, that’s probably why I need this cookbook.

If it had been a dark chocolate wrapper, I would’ve been okay because of the MUFA, but alas, this was a king size wrapper of milk chocolate from my last bout of PMS.

I hate irony.

* * *

With such unseasonably warm weather, my brother has embraced the idea of global warming and suggested we get a cow, which he volunteered to spend his day squeezing. You know, to help increase greenhouse gases. I love that guy.

* * *

Tonight we had a woman come into the library who needed to use a computer and browse the DVDs, but she had some kind of problem with her foot, so she asked if we had a wheelchair to lend her while in the building.

Why yes! We do!

This was likely the first time that anyone used it since it was purchased. It was bought a few years ago after our former wheelchair was found totaled in a ditch near the railroad tracks. Some not-so-handicapped folks had taken it for a joy ride, trashed it, and dumped it by the train station. Either that or it was trying to get out of town fast and ended up as roadkill. Sad.

So, we have this nifty new wheelchair to offer our patron, and I was quite proud.

Until I got a look at it.

This wasn’t a usual wheelchair. It was like the handicapped version of a real wheelchair. Chew on that.

First of all, the pedals were gimpy. They dragged on the floor and the patron wasn’t able to fix them.

Then there were the retarded wheels. This was a transport chair, not a true wheelchair, so it had two pairs of training-wheel-sized wheels.

They worked if you ignore that the assembler neglected to tear the plastic and tape off the wheels before putting it together, so the wheels were slow and made terrible noises when they turned. However, how is a person who needs a wheelchair supposed to propel that thing? Bend all the way over and push those little 6-inch wheels around? They can’t! I found our patron sitting in this lame wheelchair, using her heels to pull her body in the chair forward, six inches at a time. I spent the evening wheeling her where she needed to go, and someone at Circ was kind enough to wheel her out the front door to her car when she was ready to leave. The problem was, I dropped her off in the DVD section and had to leave her there, but how would I know when she was done? She had to call the library on her cell phone, get the call transferred to my desk, hope I was available to answer, and then tell me she was done in the DVDs and needed to be brought to Circ to check out.

Seriously, this tool meant to aid people with disabilities nearly crippled our entire library for the evening.

This isn’t even addressing the fact that while transporting her, I rounded a corner where we keep a cart for patrons to put unneeded books and I crashed into it with the wheelchair because there wasn’t enough room to get through. I’m no expert, but I don’t think a public building is allowed to block their aisles so that wheelchairs cannot get through. Also, moments later, one of the dragging pedals spontaneously fell off and we couldn’t reattach the severed limb. The injured foot our patron was trying to stay off of was now without a pedal and she had to put both feet on the other pedal, causing it to drag on the carpet more with the doubled weight.

It’s rather amazing that someone made and we purchased a wheelchair that renders one immobile.

While I have no idea how much money this debilitated vehicle cost the library, when I did a search on Amazon, I found one almost identical, wrote down the price, and searched for one with an user-friendly wheel, made of more sturdy material, and the difference in cost was about $40. Perhaps the able wheelchair was not available when the purchase was made, so the handicapped wheelchair was the only option. I can’t say. All I know is tonight I was deeply ashamed of a service our library offered, and that doesn’t happen very often.

* * *

While helping someone at a computer, I experienced something new tonight. After 17½ years here, I can go years without having anything new happen, so this was a bit of a treat. In a facepalm kind of way.

She was trying to print pictures on someone’s website, so I instructed her to right click on the image to copy it.

She left clicked and nothing happened, so I reiterated to RIGHT click.

Her hand came up off the mouse, positioned itself on the keyboard, and she then typed out the word “click”.

Well, she followed my instructions. She wrote click.

* * *

Marina told me The Funniest Thing today. Her friend used the following as his status message on Gmail:

You know what really gets my goat? Chupacabras.

Nothing funnier, in my book. Nothing at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the Road Again

You all are wonderful and I thank you for your kind words and advice.

Much <3.

Your ideas were great and I have given serious consideration to each of them, particularly the idea of just getting in my car and driving, which really appeals to me.

However, I decided to do something else on my goal list. Having National Parks to hit, and so many to do, I decided to hit a couple in this trip. I'm driving by myself on a 6-day trip to the Mount Rushmore/Badlands/Custer area so I can scratch off my list Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. EXCELLENT!

This adds to the three of four National Lakeshores I've hit: Pictured Rocks, Apostle Island, and Indiana Dunes.

Also, I've been to Lincoln's Home National Historic Site, and Grand Portage National Monument.

Tip of the iceberg, but still, a decent start considering I've done all but two in the last few years.

SO! Pray/Hope/Chant for no snow!

I'm so excited! I haven't been this excited in a long time. People are telling me I'm nuts for going alone, particularly in the winter, but I don't care. I'm going.

Maybe I should get a cell phone. And borrow someone's GPS.


OMG, seriously, how did people travel once upon a time, 10 long, ancient years ago? MAYBE I'll renew my AAA membership just in case, but I am NOT going to bring as much technology with me as possible that won't even work up there just so other people think I'm being safe. Blug.

This is going to rock! I cannot wait!

And as if this answer was exactly what I needed, I suddenly feel very sleepy. Like I might get a good night of sleep tonight. Might. Not holding my breath. But if I'm not sleeping, at least I'll have something good to think about while I'm staring at my ceiling.

And, now that my announcement is out of the way, I can pave the way for future posts in need of writing, including the story today about how I peed on myself, the inability of people to think logically once they walk in the front doors of our library, or the wonderful observations my brother has made about global warming. Next post.

If you have any recommendations of places to stay or things I must see on this trip, do share! Thanks again, folks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where Should I Go?

Sometimes there is just too much life to deal with in this life, and for me, such a time is now.

We decided this year that there wasn’t really a point in making a Thanksgiving dinner in my family, so we’re skipping it, which I think is an obvious indication that we are falling apart. If we have nothing to be thankful for, why do we bother with one another? If blood is thicker than water, and our blood is so thin we don’t even acknowledge it, then what in the world do we have connecting us to humanity?

Recently I found out that before my father died, he told my brother and mother to lean on me, that I was the rock, I was the one they could count on, and I’d keep the family together. For five years I’ve tried to do exactly that without knowing that he planted the seed in the heads of my family to do this to me, and knowing that they did just that, without trying to be responsible on their own, crushes me. I just can’t do it anymore. As I have begun to let go, to rip the tethers that tie me to them, I find that we are just drifting farther apart, knowing one another less and less, caring less and less, knowing ourselves less and less, being a part of something meaningful less and less. Partly this breaks my heart; partly it frees me from a burden I couldn’t handle on my own. And in a weird kind of way, I’m thankful that even if it’s just this year, just this holiday, just this one time, I am free to let go of what I have on this day that we’re supposed to use to show how grateful we are for what we have.

I’ve had insomnia for over a month now, and no over-the-counter or prescription medicine has been able to give me more than 5 hours of sleep a night. Whether it’s the sleep deprivation or the trauma of the relationships in my life, I feel myself withdrawing from the world, not wanting to participate, not wanting to feel anything, not wanting to be a part of anything. The stress of my family, my disintegrating relationship with B.E., the pressure from my friends to make specific changes in my life, the overwhelming despair of recognizing the pain and swelling in my hands and feet as another flare-up of sarcoidosis attacking my body, and the stubborn refusal to take the toxic medication that can make it better, all combine to make my existence a constant battle I tire of fighting. And I need to unplug from the fuel that feeds the flames that envelope me.

But how?

I find myself at a creative loss.

I have some money in my savings account for whatever road trip I choose to take, whenever I choose to take it. I have 19 vacation days left for this year, 10 of which I can carry over, but 9 that I have to take in the next 6 weeks. Clearly the indication would be to get the hell out of here for a while.

But where do I go?


I have four days off for Thanksgiving weekend and can drive anywhere the roads take me, but I don’t even know what direction to head in. And on a holiday weekend, travel is going to be a nightmare. But I really have to go somewhere.

So, I ask you all, dear readers, who have read my thoughts and feelings for years, where should I go?

My needs are simple: somewhere I can go alone, somewhere I can go to clear my head, somewhere I can drive to and from, and somewhere that won’t cost a bloody fortune.

Suggestions are not only requested, but needed. Help me find some peace. Where can I find it?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

That Which Turns Us Gray

The other day, I was sitting nicely at the reference desk, smiling and saying hello to the patrons as they came in, and a patron walked up to me and said the following:

“Hi, I was wondering if you have the book – holy cow! You’ve got a lot of gray hair! You should do something about that! Dye that hair, girl!”

I smiled politely, imagining the many ways I could use handy supplies within reach to bludgeon her. The Stapler is always my weapon of choice – compact, hard, capable of delivering both a wounding blow and a painful staple punctured into flesh. Tetanus is always a bonus. Some folks like to picture picking up their keyboards and whacking a deserving patron with it, but I feel plastic is far too weak a material to convey the hostility behind it. If they start making steel keyboards with protruding spikes, I will reconsider. Then there’s something to be said about the brutality of tackling someone, confining them to a chair with book tape, and giving them paper cuts followed by a drowning in hand sanitizer, but the time involved in such an assault pushes the manslaughter/temporary insanity defense. In my head, patrons like this woman get the stapler.

I asked what book she was looking for, not particularly interested in brawling at the moment.

She continued, “Well, I was looking for The Secret.”

Of course she was. It all makes sense now.

On she went, “You know, you’re far too young to have that many grays. And actually, they’re not gray; they’re dead white. Wow. If you covered your grays, you’d look so much better.”

The stapler was at the far end of the desk. She had to have known it was out of my reach, which was why she was tempting fate in such a daring way.


I turned to her, explained the book was checked out, and if she wanted it I could put it on hold for her.

She laughed one of those condescending laughs and said, “Oh, okay, you don’t want to talk about it, huh?”

My smile faded and I leaned in closer, whispering, “Thanks for your hair. It much to me. I’ll be sure to take it...under...advisement.”

No smile. No blinks. Deadpan.

Her smile disappeared, she thanked me for looking up her book, said she’d just check back some other time, and then she walked away.

Perhaps she’ll be pleased to know that I took her advice and re-dyed my hair purple tonight. Probably not what she was thinking, but then again, if she thought a little bit more, she might have kept her big, fat, fucking mouth shut to begin with.

Some of these patrons treat us like we’re on display, inhuman servants, open to any idiot thing they feel like saying to us, and they never owe us an apology. It makes me wonder who else they treat like this.

* * *

Friday we had our quarterly all-day meeting. We dread these meetings much like most might dread a colonoscopy. The few who look forward to them you really have to wonder about.

While discussing the dread on Thursday afternoon, I completely grossed out my entire office by suggesting I might go out to the public computers and lick a mouse, with the hopes of contracting a horrific illness in order to get out of the meeting.

Much gagging ensued.

Sheesh, it’s a good thing I didn’t say I would lick the toilet seat. Wimps.

* * *

There is a key to surviving a 7-hour meeting, which was broken up into a series of boring seminars on topics like bloodborne pathogens, exploring emotional intelligence, and, for the 14th time this year, the benefits of enrolling in a flex-spending plan.


To make it to the end alive, you really must sit next to someone who is amusing, so when Christi walked in and sat right next to me, I knew I was saved. In fact, I think I heard angels singing when she sat down.

By far, the most painful aspect of the entire day was the hour-plus devoted to teaching us about emotional intelligence. Our first order of business was to fill out a survey of 10 questions where we would assign an number between 1 and 10 to describe ourselves in various situations, with a total at the bottom. Christi’s total was 45, which was fairly low for our group, but certainly not the lowest. My score was 69, which I felt was a triumph of sorts. Emotional intelligence and a 69 seemed a natural match. I proudly showed Christi my score and we chuckled.

It turns out, a score of 69 out of 100 was not so good, but I did fall somewhere in the average of our group. Poor Christi wasn’t even halfway to being emotionally intelligent, with her little 45. We felt a little better when we considered who scored high and who scored low. We were in the company of folks we really liked, and that was comforting.

The speaker asked us for examples of ways in which we communicate.

Christi said, “Sex.”

I giggled, but then stopped and said, “Hey, wait. You only scored a 45.” We both frowned in pity for her unfortunate boyfriend.

Instantly I perked up and proudly reminded her I scored a 69, and what better score was there when talking about sex? We nodded smartly. Perhaps there was something to this test after all.

No. No there wasn’t.

The longer we listened, the more bored we got, and eventually I looked over to see that Christi had doodled a picture that looked unmistakably like our director, sitting to her left.

I asked, “Is that our director?”

She was instantly excited that I recognized him in her doodle, saying that no one ever has a clue what she’s drawing.

For some reason, she began drawing a cape on him and turned his outfit into a superhero uniform.

I said, “Oh, wait, no, I guess it isn’t him. I don’t recognize him anymore.”

We giggled again and she explained that whenever she draws men, she always draws a zipper on their pants, which she pointed out below the big superhero belt he had on.

My reaction was mixed and I said, “Well, I guess it’s good to know that if he has to pee, no one’s going to walk in on him in the men’s washroom having to take his whole outfit of tights off, leaving him naked and urinating in public. *cringe* It’s nice you gave him a fly, I suppose.”

She insisted everyone gets a fly. It’s her gift to them.

Not long after she’d finished her Super Director doodle, he wandered to the back of the room to get a cup of orange juice, returned to his chair, and set his cup on the floor. As he got comfortable in his chair, his pen rolled off the clipboard in his lap. It fell to the floor, bounced up and landed business-end-up in his cup of orange juice.

Christi and I instantly erupted with “WHOA!” in sync, and the thrill on his face that people had witnessed this strange occurrence made us all laugh.

Super Director. He can bounce pens into small cups.

After the meeting I made her show him the doodle, and I reminded him that she doodled that, and then he bounced a pen into a cup. We all suggested she doodle more fortuitous things to see if they might come true on any scale.

I didn’t embarrass her by pointing out to him that she was kind enough to give him a fly. If he noticed, he didn’t say anything. I’d say that was very emotionally intelligent of us all.

And thus, another quarterly meeting is over. We have until February to develop the emotional intelligence to survive the next one, which will no doubt include another segment on flex-spending.


Christi better be there or my time on this earth is limited.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goals For an Epic Life

Ann and I were having a discussion a few weeks ago about whether we wanted to live epic lives or not, and the two of us agreed we both would absolutely prefer epic. However, in sharing what this would entail, we came to discover our definitions of "epic" differ greatly. Ann had a much more human approach, very civilized, involving children, helping people, etc. I have no such ideas about an epic life. To me, it's about seeing and doing things extraordinary, things your average person will never do. I don't need recognition to feel that my life is epic, either. Just the thrill of experiencing something I know is rare enough to make it spectacularly special.

As if this was a theme some forces in the universe were pushing me to explore, I had another discussion with someone else about goals. When I stretched my brain, I couldn't come up with terrestrial goals that involve family life, career ambition, etc. My desires have little or nothing to do with the American Dream, marriage, making money, raising children, being a part of my community, or any such "normal" goals. Everything on my list of things to do are bucket-list-type ideas. However, rather than waiting until I'm looking at the end of my own life, my list of things to do are my actual goals in life, things I am actively working on accomplishing here and now. What I do for a living is less important to me than it would seem. I need to not work a 9-5 job and have enough flexibility and disposable income to work on my goals, and if that's possible, I'm happy doing just about anything. It's not about what I do for a living, but how I live my life outside of work. There are 128 hours in a week beyond the 40 most people work, and those are the hours that matter most to me. The 40 at work are just a means to an end. They have nothing to do with who I am or what I want.

So, what do I want?

I've compiled a list of 50 of my goals, goals that could change or could be met, and I thought I'd publish these here so that I can't forget any of them. I might, periodically, scratch them or add to them, but this is the list of what I want to accomplish in the near future.

1. Ride an elephant
2. Touch a glacier
3. See all the National Parks
4. Hug a giant redwood
5. Learn to swim
6. Swim with dolphins
7. Watch baby sea turtles scurry to the sea
8. Chill with penguins
9. Get a photograph published
10. Start a veggie and herb garden
11. Spend the night on a ship
12. See Machu Picchu
13. Travel across country by train
14. Drive Route 66
15. Do the Pacific Coast Highway
16. Go backpacking and overnight camping
17. Scuba dive in a reef
18. Go on a safari
19. See the Northern or Southern Lights
20. Visit a castle
21. Take a gondola ride in Venice
22. See the fountains of Italy
23. Paint my room
24. Go spelunking
25. Wander Stonehenge
26. Visit the Taj Mahal
27. See the ruins of Ancient Greece
28. Find a source for raw milk
29. Go to the Frank Frazetta Museum
30. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
31. Trust someone completely
32. Watch whales
33. Eat in a restaurant alone
34. Kayak/canoe
35. Visit a developing country
36. Visit the Galapagos Islands
37. Go through a set of locks
38. See Victoria Falls
39. See a polar bear in the wild
40. Participate in a protest
41. Attend a lumberjack competition in Alaska
42. Learn some basic car repairs
43. Get in my car, drive, not knowing where I'm going, and stay gone for days
44. Stay in a houseboat on Lake Powell
45. Stop being so scared
46. Help dig up dinosaur remains
47. Volunteer with a wildlife rescue organization
48. Visit my dad's grave
49. Go gem digging
50. Find happiness

If I can do half of these things, I will consider my life epic.

If you feel like it, share in the comments what it would take to make your own life epic. I'd love to hear all about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eye Candy

Last week I had this conversation with Sergeant after we were discussing nutrition and the need for protein after a workout.

Sarge: You know, it's best to work out in the morning.

Me: Oh really? Why?

Sarge: It just is.

Me: But why?

Sarge: That's when you get the best results.

Me: Yeah, but why? I'm a librarian -- I need more information than that.

Marina: You can't just say that and not back it up. We need references.

He rolled his eyes and started to walk away, which is what he does when he doesn't have an answer for something.

Me: You're going to make me look it up myself, huh? You think that's my job or something?

Sarge: Yep.

He did suggest I search on the Men's Health website, and I did find an article online that pertained to the benefit of working out before breakfast, while your body was in a fasting state, but I wasn't prepared to take this article's information as gospel, so I took it someone I trust.

While I was doing my workout, I asked a coach at my gym.

Me: Grace, I work with two muscle-y gym nuts, one more muscle-y than the other, but the other told me something recently that I have to ask you about. Is it true, in your opinion, that it's best to work out in the morning before breakfast, to burn the most pure fat while your body is in a fasting state?

Grace: Well...some people say that, but from what I understand, the difference in what you burn is not significant enough to...say...rearrange your entire schedule. As long as you work out, you're doing really well. They just say not to do it late at night because of the endorphins interfering with sleep.

Me: Okay, I figured he was just running at the mouth, not knowing what he was talking about. He does that. But he's cute, so I let him.

Grace: Ooooh, he's cute and he works out?

Me: Yeah, we have these two security guys, both really good looking, and whenever one of them works, I always feel like running into the director's office and thanking him for hiring them.

Grace: Hah! I thought you had a boyfriend!

Me: I do! But I'm not blind! I can appreciate some nice eye candy!

Grace: Eye candy?! You are so bad!

Me: Well they are! I don't want to date them! I just want them to move furniture for me, or bend over to pick things up all the time.

Grace: NIKKI! You crack me up! I'm going to have to come into your library to see this eye candy.

Me: You should. And be sure to drop things when you pass them. It's worth it.

We laughed. Locker room talk, you know.

Today I went back and Grace was there. I find her to be so much fun that I intentionally go when I know she works.

Again, while I was working out, we were yakking.

Grace: You know what's wrong with watermelon?

Me: Um, the seeds?

Grace: This is seedless. I only do seedless. But what's wrong with watermelon is it's mostly water. This isn't going to fill me. I'll need more of a snack than this before I do my own workout or else I'll pass out halfway through.

Me: Oooooooooooooh, paramedics! Do it, Grace! Paramedics are cute!

Grace: More eye candy for you?

Me: Uh-huh!

Grace: You're so bad!

Me: Uh-huh. So?

Grace: Are they all cute?

Me: Well, probably not, but enough are to make it worth it. You wouldn't have to pass out for real. You could pretend. I'll save you! I'll call the paramedics! Excuse me, Mr. Paramedic, I think she needs mouth-to-mouth. Rip open her shirt and do compressions!

Grace: AHHH! You're SO BAD!

Me: People keep saying that about me. I wonder why.

Grace: That's okay. It's why I like you so much.

Me: Okay, so, is it a deal? I'll be happy to call for you. Firemen are cute too, but, well, that's a felony.

Grace: We could have a cat up a tree!

Me: Or you could lock yourself in the bathroom! Hello, 911? Grace is trapped in a locked bathroom. Send firemen. And tell them to bring all their really big tools! And some paramedics in case she needs CPR.

Grace: That's great! Where else could we get eye candy from?

Me: Hmmm, well, there aren't any Gold's Gyms around here to run in and play the helpless woman, "Ah, help! We need someone to save a woman who is trapped on the bench press!"

Grace: Yeah, they're too far away. You know, the places I used to go to see eye candy are the places where you do 12-ounce curls.

She made the international gesture of downing a beer.

Grace: But the problem is that the bars you go to see the eye candy are usually too loud.

Me: And full of drunk, 20-year-olds. *eyeroll*

Grace: Yep, exactly. So, let's set our parameters on acceptable eye candy and then choose where to get it. Like, is there an age range?

Me: I don't discriminate. My boyfriend is in his late 50s.

Grace: REALLY? That's a big age difference. How much older is he than you?

Me: 24 years. He's the same age my dad was.

Grace: Ahhh, a sugar daddy!

Me: No, actually, I think it's more the other way around.

Grace: NIKKI! I'm surprised!

Me: Why? What's wrong with that?

Grace: Wait, does he have that nice gray hair?

Me: Yes, yes he does.

Grace: I LOVE men with gray hair!

Me: I KNOW! Silver foxes! They rock. But salt-and-pepper rules!

Grace: OH SO TRUE! You know what I like? When they start to go gray at the temples. That is so sexy! And when they wear a nice, crisp, white button-down shirt and a dark suit, black, maybe with a pinstripe, but definitely black. I love that! Salt-and-pepper in a black suit!

Me: Very nice. Honestly, I don't care what they're wearing, but the dark hair/light eyes combo gets me every single time. Bestill my heart!

Grace: Lemme think...yeah, that's really good too.

I began fanning myself.

Me: You know, I'm all sweaty, but I don't think it's from working out anymore.

We laughed.

Grace: Does anyone care about height?

Me: I do. He has to be at least as tall as me.

Grace: Okay, I don't care about height at all. What about weight?

Me: Don't care.

Grace: I prefer if they're average to built.

Me: Okay. I understand.

Grace: Anything else?

Me: Grown-up.

Grace: Yeah, some of these young guys look like they're kids dressed in adult clothes. I'm with you there.

Me: That's it for me. Eye candy has many flavors, shapes and colors. I don't have many preferences except the dark hair and light eyes combo and taller than me.

Grace: I used to work with this guy who had the salt-and-pepper thing going on, really nice looking, took care of himself, and he always wore these perfect dark suits. WOW! He was perfect. Men don't wear suits enough anymore. He just looked fabulous! He was a total asshole, but he looked great!

Me: That's usually how it works out, isn't it?

Grace: Yeah, but he was nice to look at. Total eye candy.

Me: That's fine. I'm not thinking long-term here. I'm thinking about 2 hours, baby. That's what I think about. I can put up with him being an asshole for 2 hours if the situation is right.

Grace just laughed, agreed, and laughed some more.

There were two other ladies at the gym working out, having to listen to us go on and on. One was my age and laughing along, cheering us on. The other was a woman probably 15-20 years older than me, and she was clearly not enjoying the conversation. That's fine. I can't even count how many times I've gone in and had to listen to other women, including this one, working out and bitching about Obama/healthcare/government assistance programs, discussing childbirth or menopause in gory detail, or being so lazy that they just sit at the machines and talk instead of doing anything. She could suffer through this today as partial payment for her own infliction of discomfort.

Grace left to answer the phone and I finished up and changed clothes.

As I was walking out I waved.

Me: Don't pass out without me here, Grace.

Grace: I won't! Practice that eye candy oogling.

Me: I will.

Grace rocks. All the coaches there rock, but Grace is the most fun. Man, I totally picked the right gym to join. Sometimes my instincts are so spot-on, it's scary.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trip Story


It feels like it took forever, but I finally finished.

Here is the link to my travel blog, if you care to read about my trip to Munising and/or see photos.

Travel Blog

And now I can move on to planning the next one. Whew!