Thursday, September 30, 2010

a tragic tale

When it rains, Phil's car leaks.  It's an old car and the water seeps through the cracks when there's a storm.  It's sort of a joke around here, and my parents even made up a certificate for his birthday that allows him to park in the garage when it rains. 

Listen, it is very easy to laugh about someone else's car getting wet in the rain when your own car is as dry as the desert inside.  However, it suddenly becomes not so funny anymore when you leave your own back windows open overnight for nine hours of heavy, steady rain.  ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

I walked out to Old Blue this morning and discovered that I had done just that.  Oh boy.  I asked Phil the Wet Car Interior Expert how to solve my TRAGIC H20 EVENT and he said get some kitty litter to soak up the moisture.  I did some investigatory googling and read that coffee grounds work too.  So at lunchtime I headed over to WalMart and found my supplies.  Then I stood in the express line for about twenty minutes behind a woman who clearly had a very liberal interpretation of the words "20 items or less."  I had just finished pondering one of the great mysteries of my life...which happens to be why WalMart built no less than thirty registers but only ever uses six of them, if you were curious...when it was my turn to pay.  When the cashier asked if I wanted bags I told her I would be fine without them, and that I really want to start working on reducing my carbon footprint...tomorrow.  Maybe.  What exactly is a carbon footprint anyway?  Well in hindsight I probably should have just taken a bag, beacuse walking half a mile to my soaking wet car with an economy size can of decaf french roast and sixteen pounds of Special Kitty wasn't one of my brightest moments. 
My car isn't that old, and the backseat has only been used a handful of times.  The thoughts of dumping cat litter over the seats and carpet made me feel sick, so I decided I would just pour the cat litter and coffee in pans and set them on the seats!  What a brilliant plan!  And a clean one!  No mess at all!  Perfect!

Obviously I didn't really think that pan plan through and I'm not really sure how I thought that pans of cat little on top of the seats would actually dry the seats.  I was just following my perfect, clean, dark gray interior heart I suppose. 
 Unfortunately that route didn't go so well, so this is what my backseat currently looks like.
Knife. In. My. Heart.

Old Blue's backseat will never be the same.  But you can be sure I will never, ever, EVER leave the windows down in the rain again.  Although, if I do, at least I still have fourteen pounds of Special Kitty left.  Silver lining.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

rush hour

Five weeks ago I started taking paralegal classes at a university about thirty minutes from my house.  I go twice a week, and I love it.  If you need legal help, just call me up.  I'm your girl. 

Actually, now that I think about it, it might be a good idea to wait until August.  When I am officially a paralegal and not just five weeks in and an expert on chapter 1 definitions and the occasional tort.  But in August...totally call me.

Anyway, my classes are at night, which means I have to brave the rush hour traffic to get there.  Now, there is a very good a reason that I wasn't a math major in college, and it may or may not have had something to do with advanced trigonometric functions.  Or differential equations.  Or, you know, algebra.  I'LL NEVER TELL.  I am, however, a whiz at basic multiplication, so I can tell you with confidence that I have driven at rush hour a whopping total of ten (or so) times.  Obviously that makes me nothing less than a seasoned rush hour pro.  And since I have ten 5 o'clock commutes under my belt, I feel that I am completely qualified to share a few observations and anecdotes with you.  I will do so in an organized list format below because I am nothing if not methodical.  Which you would think would be a trait that would help me with algebra.  Being methodical.  But alas, you would be wrong.  Because once you throw in that crazy n variable I am a goner. 

1-Yesterday was the definition of dreary around here.  The air was humid and heavy and rain fell from the gray sky all day long.  It was, as my dad would say, G-R-GROSS.  Windshield wipers were going full speed on every car I passed on the highway as the rain poured down.  I merged onto the highway and a sign up ahead with the words "CAUTION...CAUTION...CAUTION" flashing on it caught my eye.  All sorts of possible rush hour dramas ran through my head while I waited for the screen to reveal what exactly it was we were supposed to be cautious of.  The screen went black for a second and finally three words popped up.  It read..."WET ROAD AHEAD." 

Why, thank you for that incredibly timely alert, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation!  The road is wet?!  IMAGINE THAT!  I've never heard of such a thing!  It's pouring rain!  Has been all day!  And the road is wet!  Up ahead!  That's downright unexpected!

2- Cops are sneaky.  I've never looked in my rearview mirror and seen those flashing lights due to the fact that I am a big time rule follower and stick to the speed limit like glue to paper.  Or magnets to a fridge.  Or a runaway, wrapperless starburst to the bottom of my purse.  If I do ever get pulled over though, it's a dream of mine for the cop to say "You was goin' fifty five in a fifty fo..." all 50 Cent style.  I have my quirks.  I'll tell you what though.  Those cops know where to hide. 

3- One in every eight Pennsylvanians with a college degree is a Penn State graduate.  I have never been more sure of that statistic than I am at this point in my life.  It seems as though every single car I see has at least one piece of Penn State paraphenalia somewhere on it.  Or at least one in every eight cars.  Just goes to show you that we PSU grads are EVERYWHERE, and we are a MIGHTY PROUD bunch.

4- There is a lot of work being done on one of the roads I take to school.  I don't understand the logistics but it has caused the shoulder to completely disappear and huge concrete barriers to take its place.  Drivers in general do not like the barriers and slow wwwwaaaayyyy down as soon as they drive next to one.  It's like they think that if they greatly reduce their speed, somehow the distance between their and the wall of concete will increase.  I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of the concrete barriers either, but since I am a SEASONED RUSH HOUR PRO I learned that I can avoid the concrete barriers and their personal space invasion by simply driving in the center lane.  Ahh.  The wisdom I have gained is immeasurable.

5- I had my first experience with a traffic "jam" last week.  As I sat in my car on the highway-turned-parking-lot I decided it wasn't a jam I was in.  I think of a jam as a funny little problem.  Like, "uhoh, a starburst came unwrapped in my purse and melted and is now stuck all over my wallet!  Oh my!  What a jam!"  Not that I have experience with these starburst issues.  But let me tell you, there was nothing funny or little about the traffic last week.  It was most certainly not a traffic jam.  It was more along the lines of a COMPLETE AND TOTAL TRAFFIC CRISIS. 

6- People who gab on the phone and get so lost in their conversation that they completely ignore the fact that they are operating a vehicle at an extremely high rate of speed surrounded by other cars drive. me. nuts.

The end.  I probably could have thought of a #7 but I like to end on even numbers.  They just feel round and complete to me.  7, not so much. 

Perhaps my perceived personalities of certain numbers could explain some of my math issues. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a trip

I drove to Matt's college to visit him this weekend.  I put the pedal to the metal Friday after work, and about a mile and a half into my journey, I realized I forgot my ipod.  Why hello, tragedy.  So glad you could accompany me for the weekend.  You too, dramatic tendencies.

After I wiped away my tears I began to search various pockets and compartments in my car hoping against hope that I could get my hands on some sort of musical masterpiece.  All of the searching took place at a red light, of course.  Because you know, safety first and all.  Unfortunately my attempts were futile and all I could come up with was an old Taylor Swift cd that I bought before I realized how whiny she really is.  Look, Taylor.  You like him.  He doesn't like you.  We get it.  You and your broken sixteen year old heart need to just pick yourselves up and get back on the horse of love already.

Fear not though, with the winning combination of my determined musical spirit and a great performance by the "seek" button on my radio, I was able to tune in to my buddies Taio Cruz, Flo Rida, and Pitbull pretty much the whole ride.  Peter Gabriel and Air Supply also may have come on once or twice, and I won't say I hated it.  I have very refined musical taste.

So thanks to Taio, Flo, Pit, Peter, and Air, I had a great ride to Matt's.  I didn't even get lost, which is a big deal for me.  Especially since the trip involved transferring from one highway to another.  In the past the whole multiple highways thing and I have had a rocky relationship at best.  Turns out all you have to do is actually read the signs. 

Well. 

Imagine that. 

We ate dinner shortly after I arrived, and then Matt took a picture of me...
 Oh, I kid.  It was actually this picture...
 Okay, okay.  It was this one.  What can I say?  It was quite a dinner.
Haha.  Just kidding.  Sometimes I crack myself up.  Actually, very frequently. 

These very well fed animals were at a fair we went to this weekend, and by the looks of it, I think fair goers may have been sneaking them corn dogs or funnel cake on the sly. 

Those lucky ducks farm animals.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

yo hablo espanol

Tonight while Emily did her Spanish homework I sat next to her at the kitchen table and obnoxiously rolled my Rs over and over, focusing mainly on a few key words such as "aRRiba" and "peRRo."  Lest you think I am some sort of foreign language prodigy, let me just say that I do not remember what either of these words mean.  However, rest assured that if I ever find myself lost in Mexico unsure of the whereabouts of my pants, I am fully equipped to inquire where, in fact, my pants are.  Not that I would ever be in that situation, of course.  HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING.

I chuckled a little tonight when Emily sat down with her Spanish, beacuse she had been speaking in a British accent for the majority of the night and she was not about to let that Spanish homework be a road block in her accented evening.  Now, I love a good fake accent just as much as the next person, and perhaps I am oversharing, but I have even invented my own.  I call it Scirish and, since I know you won't be able to tell from the OH SO ORIGINAL name, it's a combination of Scottish and Irish.  I'm weird.  Anyway, I sat at the table rolling those Rs and Emily asked me questions in her British accent such as, "How do you say the number eighty in Spaaaahhhh-nish? Cheerio!"  It was a precious evening.  And somewhere in the midst of it all, I caught a glimpse of the cover of her workbook.

Oh my.  Or shall I say "Ay Dios Mio" as my high school Spanish teacher Senora Smith used to say when she was feeling VERY FRUSTRATED with me and my enthusiastic seventeen year old compadres.  Let me tell you what though.  It's a darn good thing I didn't run into that trio of amigos in some Spanish speaking country because those sheep/goats/livestock that are clearly invading their personal space BIG TIME would have been more help than I would have been.  For starters, they all seem to know exactly where their pantalones are.  And also, they are studying a map.  I can hardly make heads or tails of a map right here in the good old US of A.  But what really stuck out at me wasn't the pantalones or the map or the snazzy bowl cut the guy in the middle is sporting.  It was the smart car.  The intelligente coche, or something.  I hear they're all the rage in the rolling green hills of the Mexican farmland.  Or, you know, not.


How do you say ridiculous in Spanish?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

kohls and candles

Well, another weekend is over.  This particular one included two trips to Kohls, because a weekend without at least two trips to the store where you should "expect great things" as their slogan suggests is pretty much dead to me. Saturday's trip was purely for browsing purposes.  I came home with a pair of yoga pants and two candles because I am powerless in the face of bargain priced fall scents.  While browsing, I saw the following displays within about six feet of each other...
I think it's safe to say that Kohls has a slight case of Inappropriate Seasonal Display Disorder.  Personally, I think they are jumping the yuletide gun just a little bit.  We're hardly past Labor Day and the Halloween decorations are on clearance already.  I better get out some lacey doilies and conversation hearts because apparently Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

Emily and I had to go back after church this morning to return a sweater she got yesterday.  We got all the way home and realized that annoying plastic ink-filled tag was still attached.  It didn't matter anyway though because it was the wrong size.  As soon as we walked in the door the alarms started going off like crazy, courtesty of the aforementioned annoying ink-filled plastic tag.  It was loud.  Very loud.  Everyone looked at us. 

Let it never be said that I don't like to make an entrance.

And tonight, we ate a delicious dinner on the deck under a gorgeous sky.  It was the perfect end to the weekend.  Hope yours was merry thankful spooky great.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

life is a highway

I dropped Old Blue off for inspection the other night, and I was very nervous about the whole situation for some reason.  I felt like a mom taking her child to the first day of school.  Completely ridiculous, I know.  I have a flair for the dramatic.  But evidently she impressed all of the mechanics with her peppy gas pedal and highly enthusiastic air conditioning system because she passed with flying colors.  And she was safe in the dark, rainy parking lot overnight.  That may or may not be beacuse I left her with strict instructions not to fraternize with the pickup trucks and the tough looking Toyota that was parked next to her.  Just kidding about that last part actually.  It was the Mazda I told her to avoid.

Old Blue and I had a close call Thursday morning.  I was driving to an appointment at the hospital, in the right lane, minding my own business.  Suddenly, the woman in the car next to me just came right on into my lane like she belonged there.  Luckily I didn't blink at that very moment, or glance at the Dunkin Donuts I was driving past and wistfully daydream that I was in heaven having a warm sausage egg and cheese biscuit, because if I had, I would be telling a very different story tonight.  But as I told my mom, thanks to my cat-like reflexes and superior honking skills, Old Blue and I were unscathed.  Although, if there had been an accident, at least I was about three blocks from the hospital.  Silver lining.

Speaking of cars, the other night I rode in Phil's.  As a general rule I try to avoid doing that, but Wednesday night I had to.  I was on the hunt for a new laptop and he was coming along to advise because my knowledge of computer technicalities falls somewhere in the area of not a whole lot.  As we walked out of the house to embark on The Great Laptop Search of Oh Ten, I nonchalantly offered, "Oh Phil, I'll drive."  He was having none of that and insisted on driving.  Apparently he had no idea the impressive display of defensive driving I would be demonstrating the next morning.  If he had known that was coming my way he just might have let me be the pilot last night.  But since he is not able to see into the future, he drove. We got out at the first store and as we were walking in, I thought I felt like my pants were wet.  After some discreet inspection I determined that yes, they were indeed wet.  Not just damp.  Wet.  Dangerously close to soaked.

"Hey, Phil, any chance that maybe that seat in your car could have possibly been a tiny bit wet?" I asked.

His response? "Oh you know what?  I think it was!"

Since it hasn't rained here in days, I could not imagine what it was that made his seat so wet.  And to be honest, I probably didn't want to imagine what it was.  So I spent the rest of the laptop search with wet pants.  Although Phil did have a beach towel in his trunk that I was able to sit on.  He keeps it with him at all times, because hello, he spent his fair share of years in a blue button down shirt and yellow kerchief.  Once a boy scout, always a boy scout.  Or something.  And, clearly he has had more than a little experience dealing with mysteriously wet seats.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but hey, at least he's always prepared.  Boy Scouts everywhere would be so proud.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

she makes me laugh

I was a feeling a little under the weather this weekend, and spent all of Sunday morning in bed.  After they went to church, my parents hit the food store and Emily offered to make me some cinnamon toast.  In addition to a piece of toast and a dusting of cinnamon, I always enjoy a slightly excessive amount of butter and lots of sugar on this particular treat.  In my opinion there is no better time to work on forming some cavities than when you’re sick.  I'm a fan of the multitasking.  Anyway Emily disappeared into the kitchen and returned with what can only be described as a piece of bread so charred that it was teetering dangerously on the edge of the not so edible any more spectrum.  It was basically ash with some butter, sugar, and cinnamon on top.  Emily felt bad and offered to make me a new one, but since I pride myself on being the kind of girl who will eat pretty much anything, I chowed down. 

I finished eating and Emily and I were talking.  Suddenly she got very thoughtful and said, “I’m going to tell you something, and no offense, but…”

Oh boy.  It's never a good thing when someone starts a sentence with, "No offense, but..." 

She continued.  “I…don’t want to get in bed with you right now.”

Okay.  Well.  I don’t want you to get in bed with me right now either, Emily.  I want lay alone in this comfy, cozy, warm twin bed made perfectly for one and only one person.  I informed her that we were both very fortunate that this situation would work out perfectly because I didn’t invite her into bed with me. 

“I know!!”  She said.  “But, if you did, I would say no.”

At the time I wasn’t really sure how to take her remark.  And to be honest, I’m still not.  Especially since it came from someone who spends a great deal of time acknowledging/ignoring me like this...


Monday, September 13, 2010

A Little Background

Finals week of the fall of my junior year of college was quite a memorable time in my life. I only had one exam and one paper due that week. The exam was in rural sociology, and the paper was in Chicano Literature. I’ll save you the head scratching and speculation and just tell you right now that I was a liberal arts major. As if you couldn’t guess that by the courses I took. My roommate Michelle and I sat at the kitchen table in our tiny, freezing cold apartment for six days straight that late December week. Those six very long days consisted mainly of eating sugar cubes, analyzing and then overanalyzing every Christmas song under the sun, and lamenting the fact that we were the only ones left at school and everyone else was on winter break already and oh my word at the unfairness of it all. Apparently we were lacking in a little something I like to call perspective. There was some studying in there too, of course. Hi, Mom and Dad.

Somehow, despite our incredibly jam packed week, we managed to dedicate an entire evening to coming up with fresh, exciting, never before seen content for the “About Me” sections of our facebook accounts. Oh yes we did. It was a finals week miracle.  We got very silly during the writing process thanks to all the chamomile tea we consumed in an effort to counteract the sugar cubes and that all led to Michelle’s opening line reading… "I was born in Belgium, but raised in the United States.” The two of us just about died of laughter when she got her first message that asked, “You were born in Belgium?!” If I remember correctly it was her boyfriend who asked that question, which just makes it that much funnier.


All that to say that there is a line in my about me that reads…"Personally, I think I am hilarious.” I have never written a truer statement. Obviously, modesty and humility are two of my most precious gifts.

Anyway, I graduated from Penn State in May and have been home for four months now, and I won’t be so na├»ve as to assume that various members of my family haven’t wished I could go back to school for just one more semester. I believe that sometimes, once in a while, extremely rarely, and in moments of extreme weakness, they get a little tired of me and all my funny. Just the other night I thought of something hilarious and had to share it with my sister, Emily, because hello, my name is Laura and I have trouble keeping things to myself. So I went to her bedroom and knocked. No response. Her light was on so I knew she was awake.  I knocked again. Still nothing. I called her name. Silence. So I decided to open the door because clearly she just didn’t hear me. It wouldn’t open.

“Hey Em, I think something may have gotten stuck in front of your door and now it won’t open.”

I heard a quiet voice from inside. “Umm, there is something in front of my door,” she said.

Hmmm. I inspected further. “Emily, is that a table shoved in front of your door?”

“Yes.”

Sure enough, she had barricaded me out. Lots of things have happened to me so far in my 22 years, but I had never, ever, been barricaded out of a room before that night.

I think it’s safe to say she was tired of the funny.

So, long story short (yeah, right) that’s why I have started this little blog. I have lost count of the number of times in the past four months my mother has told me, “Laura, you don’t have to be talking all. the. time.” The name of my game is to basically just say whatever comes to my mind, and apparently my mind is a busy place. So this blog is a combination of an effort to bring my family a few seconds of quiet and a desire to keep my English major brain from turning into a pile of unwritten words and unexpressed thoughts.  And hopefully a place to make you laugh and record some memories.

I have called this Laura Darling because it has been a long time dream of mine to have the last name Darling. I dream big, oh yes I do. However, it is unlikely that the surname Darling is in the cards for me at this point. But it’s perfect here. Like a pseudonym. A la Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain.  George Orwell.  James Herriot.  Tennessee Williams.  Laura Darling just fits right in.  :-)

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