Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eating Lava and Other Examples of my Lack of Won't Power

I have quite a bit of will power.

For reals.  One day, I said to myself, "I will be a non-smoker."  And I quit.  Three months ago.

I can decide something, and then DO it.  It's pretty easy, for me, actually.  I try to give myself really reasonable goals because  I want my will power to have confidence in itself, and then I can sneak some hard things in the middle.

I will drink a tall glass of chocolate milk when I wake up in the morning.

I will have two, maybe three beers in the evening before bed.

I will go for a run today, because I WILL be ready for the zombie apocalypse, and everyone knows you have to be pretty fit to survive that shit.

I will spend too much money when I run into Target for "one thing".

I will check facebook 900 times during the course of my workday, read a bunch of blogs, and stalk people on Google+, then at the end of the day, I will scramble to get things done and stress myself out.

See?  I have tons of "will" power.

What I lack is a bit of "won't" power.

Saying, "I won't go get a candy bar out of the vending machine this afternoon," is askling for trouble.  I absolutely CANNOT think this, or I will practically run to the break station with my quarter-hand outstretched and lunge to the coin insert.  If the word "candy bar" even crosses my consciousness, I have to internally change the subject as fast as possible, or within 15 minutes I will go into glycemic shock from all of the junk food I have crammed into my mouth.

I won't speed on the highway on the way home, and go 85 in a 65 zone because my car is SO FREAKING BADASS AND I LOVE WEAVING THROUGH TRAFFIC LIKE AN ASSHOLE. I won't, huh? Freaking TURBO, bitch.  You bet I will.

Saying "I won't" is pretty much the same thing as saying "I will," only with more guilt.

I have to trick myself.

At work, people leave boxes of donuts, bags of cookies, bowls of candy, half-finished cakes, and all manner of wonderful sitting on tables in the main halls.  They will have signs like, "Take one, free," or "Please finish, I need the pan back," or, "Please eat."  There are hundreds of people who work in my building.  Some of them can cook well.

I don't think, "I won't have one."  That would be stupid, and I would end up as big as a house.

I add the words, "They're not poisoned!" to the end of all the signs. 

"Please eat, they're not poisoned!"

"Take one, free!  They're not poisoned!"

See?  It totally works, and who cares if I am more suspicious of my coworkers than I should be.  Maybe I SHOULD be suspicious.  Better safe than sorry.

The other day, I was in the grocery store.  It was stupid.

I went right after work, and right after work, I am so hungry I want to gnaw on my arms.  I've tried snacking through the day, and eating fruit at the end of my shift, eating a later lunch, a bigger lunch, a smaller lunch... none of it matters.  5PM is when I need to eat.  If I don't, I become a psychotic ravening beast who may cut you off in traffic or say something rude about your hair.  It ain't pretty.

So instead of going home, eating something and then going out to the store, as any sane person would do, I went straight to the store on my way home.

I resisted the urge to cram all of the free samples into my face.

I resisted the urge to buy a german chocolate cake, or a fried chicken (which, by the way, was on sale, and smelled so good I think I may have actually drooled on myself).  I resisted the urge to add Twinkies and Ho-ho's and pink Snoballs and "raspberry" filled powdered donuts to my basket.  I resisted, I resisted, I resisted.

I resisted the urge to smash my cart into the back of the lady who wouldn't get the fuck out of my way, I needed pasta, damnit.  I resisted the urge to kick the kids out of the way who were running around and screaming like it was a waterpark which it kinda was after they opened up the jar of pickles and dumped it, and whose parents were completely ignoring them while arguing the merits of butter versus margerine.  I resisted the urge to body check the old man to get the last of the Horizon Organic Low-Fat Chocolate Milk.  I resisted. 

I didn't think "won't".  I didn't think, "I won't think 'won't'."  I didn't.

Instead, I thought, "I will find a treat to buy myself for being a good shopper.  Just one."

And when I spotted it, the one thing, it turned out to be five.  The refridgerated end-cap glowed like a becon, bathing my face in it's cold, fluorescent lighting. "Hot Pockets.  5 for $10."

I never get Hot Pockets.  I love Hot Pockets (I know, it's like a sickness).

I carefully chose the five flavors I would have.  I got two of my favorite, the "BBQ beef".  I don't know if it's real BBQ, or real beef, but I don't care.  It's awesome.

I got the "ham" and "cheese".

I got "chicken quesadilla", or some reasonable facsimile of the same.

"What the hell is a PRETZEL POCKET?" I exclaimed.  The teenage boy that was staring at the 3.2 beer  nearby glanced over at me and edged away. It was a new flavor, or at least, new to me.  It looked amazing.

I took one of those, too.

My angry shopping moment became bliss as I joyfully imagined how wonderful it would be to eat my Hot Pockets of Wonderment.

And I ate the  Hot Pockets.  It was everything I hoped for and more.  It was bliss.

I was doing a good job of cooking them, too, then waiting the allotted two minutes, then eating them.  I was also doing a good job of eating food other than Hot Pockets every once in a while.

And then I made the mistake.

Instead of saying, "I will wait for two minutes after the microwave beeps to eat this," I said, "I won't eat this early, I'll wait."

Oh woe.  Oh pain!  Why did I do this?  WHY?

The cheese-like substance inside a Hot Pocket is not cheese.

Cheese would vaporize at those temperatures.

My belief is that the "cheese" they use in Hot Pockets is some kind of hot magma held in stasis until the microwave "nukes" it and allows fusion and fission to commence.  It was like licking the damned sun.

I will remember this.

I will only use "will" power in the future, because apparently I have a congenital won't disorder. 

I also have a scarred tongue, and everything tastes like charcoal and pain.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In Memoriam

Suddenly, I don't feel special.

I am a normal person, now.

My superpower is hidden.

I cut my hair.

One last photograph...

I wanted to be all flip about it, say something like, "Just take a little off the bottom... 20 or 30 inches," but I got super nervous all of a sudden.

Apparently, the ladies at Cost Cutters do not keep a katana on hand for cutting hair.

I could see the fear in the stylist's eyes.  She asked me if I was sure three or four times.

Instead of the expected ripping cutting feeling, I got a mild vibration from the back of my head.  
I almost shouted, "AAAHHH!  THAT HURTS, HOW COULD YOU?!?" but I refrained.

Instead, I waited until she handed me my hair, and said, "Oh wait, I changed my mind," but I was smiling so she didn't believe me.

It's tied up like that so it can be donated to Locks of Love.

I held it up like a trophy to show how brave I am.

By this time, everyone in the salon was staring.  There were some gasps of fear and hands over mouths.  There was a couple of cheers and someone called, "Good for you!"

I had the sudden urge to cry, so I laughed instead.  Fuck you, hair.  I didn't want you anyway.

Crap.  What did I do?

I walked out of the salon, smiling nervously.  Is this what I look like now?

I will no longer be able to loosen my bun and let my hair fall down my back to show my specialness to the world.

I keep catching my reflection and thinking, "Crap, this hairstyle is annoying.  I should have shaved it."

By evening I tried 50 ways to tie this crap out of my face.  I may need to go back and get rid of this non-style style.  To get rid of this "I'm a mom" hairstyle.

I am not a mom.  I shouldn't have a mom-do.

Maybe I just need to be more positive.

I will save a fortune in shampoo.  I will save time brushing it twice a day.  It will be easier to wear a helmet or a hat.

My hair will no longer act as a handle for zombies when the uprising begins.

And my hair won't escape the mail service and come inching back to me, creeping through the streets and dragging mud and spiders.  It won't come crawling through the dryer outlet, and snake its way up the stairs.  It won't squeeze under my bedroom door, and climb up the disheveled quilt and stare down at me while I sleep.

It won't wrap its jealous tendrils around my throat whispering, "Why couldn't you love me back?"

It won't do these things, because I let the salon send it off.  They tied it up in a sack and secured it tightly, so it won't escape.

I can only hope that I will never walk by the Locks of Love recipient.  I can just see it, the mutual recognition as it flies off her head and attaches itself to my face like the spider alien egg layers in the Alien series.

I will just have to be vigilant.

My waves came back as the hair dried.  Maybe THIS is what I look like now.

So yeah.

Hair all gone.

I will stop writing about it now, I promise.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mountains Don't Care

Boyfriend and I like to go hiking together on the weekends. I am particularly fond of going up above timberline whenever possible, and every time I go, I wonder why the hell I waited a whole week to come back.

A couple Saturdays ago, Boyfriend and I thought we might hike up to the Boulder Field on the Longs Peak trail in the park.

We knew it was a popular trail in the summer, and that the parking lot was way too small for the number of people wanting to head up there, so we set the alarm for 4:30AM.

On a Saturday.

Yes, on purpose.

Yes, I am a hiking nerd.

No. I am not a morning person.

Poor Boyfriend.

I tried to get myself moving, but I mostly stared blearily around for 30 minutes before I could think about getting ready, so it ended up taking us an hour to get out of the house.

I made Boyfriend drive my car because I knew that I was far too stupid that early in the morning to be allowed behind the wheel of a car. I would probably have functioned better if I just stayed up.

In any case, we left the house about 5:30, and reached the trailhead maybe an hour after that.

We knew there would be trouble before we even got there.

The little road was bumper to bumper with parked cars for at least a mile from the parking lot.  It made me feel like a layabout only getting up at 4:30.  These people were getting to the trailhead at like 2.  Damned overachievers.

Yes, I know we were planning to hike a lot that day, which is basically walking and I shouldn't balk at walking some more, but we were actually planning to push ourselves pretty well, too. 6 miles, 3000 vertical feet up one way trip, and then having to go back down again before noon, and most of those miles would be above tree line. Adding an extra 500-1000 feet and mile on each end of the trip when we were already getting a "late" start wasn't going to work. Or at least, it wouldn't work for my personal "this is too dangerous" line.

We made the decision to find another hike for the day.

45 minutes later, we made it to the Bear Lake parking lot, and we were on our way up Flattop.  This hike might not be as dramatic or death defying, but it was still a beautiful and strenuous trip above the trees to the continental divide.

That square looking mountain out there is Longs Peak.  A friend of mine once asked me if Longs Peak was my nemesis.  No, no, not my nemesis.  More like my big scary friend that might kill me one day, but not a nemesis. 

Before long, the trees were getting stubby and strange, and the pikas and ptarmigans and marmots were out and about.

If you enlarge this picture, you can see the parking lot, way the hell out there.  No, really, it's there.

Also, that little spit of a tarn down there is about 500 vertical feet below is.  Distances are deceiving up here.

There is no summer at high altitude.  Just spring, early winter, winter, late winter, and then back to spring again.

We had originally thought to climb up Hallet Peak from Flattop, but it was almost 11AM when we reached the Flattop overlook.  From here, we are almost an hour from being able to make it back below timberline.

Could we have made it to the top and back again?  Probably.  Did I want to have to run from a thunderstorm on slippery loose rocks after climbing a mountain?  No.

Instead, we sat above Tyndel Glacier and contemplated the universe, ate lunch, and had a beer.

Here are a few things I have learned:
  1. Mountains don't care.  They don't care if you are tired, sick, young, old, fit, out of shape.  They aren't trying to kill you, because they don't even notice you.  Climbing a mountain is being a microscopic mite on the face of  a person with a really big nose.

    I love this sign.  It is bolted to a rock along the trail (click to enlarge).
  2. I have to pee above treeline.  EVERY. DAMNED. TIME. Do you see any rocks even big enough to hide behind?  This is a busy trail, too.  Damn it.
    This is really beautiful until you have to pee.

  3. All beer, even Coors, is awesome in the moutnains.  Even Coors Light.  Even Coors Light in the 8oz cans that make you feel like a giant because they are so cute and tiny.  But Coors needs to work on their carbonation level.  Seriously, it was all foam.  You would think the beer of the friggin ROCKY MOUNTAINS would not overfoam at high altitude

    This is a picture of Coors Light going up my nose.  Note to marketing: I will fake drinking beer on future beer ads.
  4. Speaking of Coors, I wonder if they would sponsor me.  For something.  I would totally take pictures of Coors cans in cool places.  I would even drink it.  That would be awesome.  I would even pretend to like the over-foaming quality.

    See Coors?  You looking?  This looks ALL KINDS of impressive.
  5. Going downhill is actually harder than going uphill.
    Beautiful.  Really.  I think I am going to pee my pants.
  6. Drinking a beer when you already have to pee is just stupid.  I really wish I could pee standing up.
    If I could pee standing up, I would TOTALLY pee off this ledge.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Leauxra's Small House

"If you win the lottery," I said to Boyfriend, "what will you buy me?"

Boyfriend paused, looking thoughtful.  

"I will buy you a very, very small house," he said.

"YAY!" I said, jumping up and down and clapping my hands.

Boyfriend is so awesome.

He knows me.

I get these obsessions.

One day, I might need to learn how to solve a Rubric's Cube in under 5 minutes, and another time I might absolutely need to make a set of speakers out of a vinyl toy.  I will learn everything there is to know about keeping an octopus as a pet in a landlocked state, and later I will figure out how to make real, authentic, ginger beer.

My 4" Munny speakers.  My mom thinks they look like "little cannibals".  They are made from little blank vinyl toys and a cheap pair of speakers I got for $5 at WalMart, a little paint, a little joint compound, and a bit of patience.

Last November or so, my thing was tiny houses.  I am talking 100-400 square feet.  I read everything I could about them, looked at plans, looked at pictures of built houses, and promptly decided I needed to not only build and live in one, but I should design it, too.

The first house I designed was made almost entirely of glass.  I named it "A Stone's Throw".  It had to be built into the side of a hill.  It was three stories and about 500 square feet, not counting the below ground garage/brewery.

I don't actually know anything about architectural design, structural engineering, materials, geology, electrical installation, plumbing, drainage or pretty much anything else, but I did have $13 for a graph paper moleskin notebooks, and I immediately set to work.

My lack of understanding of basic physics shows up in some of my more whimsical designs, such as the above structure with a "floating" loft held up by a single center pole.

But as I designed, the houses started getting bigger.  More and more things became essential.  I would need a place to brew beer.  I would want a studio to paint and write.  Somewhere to sleep, and yes, somewhere to eat might be nice.

I may wish to shower occasionally.

One of my larger designs, this one ends up being 1000 square feet or so, and 5 floors (not counting the roof).

I let my imagination wander.  No need to be constrained to 100 square feet, or 500 square feet, or even 1000.  I started designing houses that would fit the lifestyle that I imagine for myself.

It is the "just in case I become an evil wizard" design.  I will have to build it in a mountainous valley with its own spring watersource, haunted barrows and orc-infested forest..  I will have a moat and a drawbridge, and underground escape route possibly guarded by my legion of the undead.

Screw being prepared for the zombie uprising.  I should be IN CONTROL of it.

And I learned something about myself.

Everything I do is about me becoming an evil wizard.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inside is Scary

It was Monday morning, and it wasn't going well.

They must have only just restocked the Diet Mountain Dew in the vending machines, because the one I got was warm.  I didn't realize this until I was back at my desk, so I had to make my way back through the cubicle farm to a break station to get ice.

I tried not to look into each cubicle as I passed, even though I had that creepy feeling that something was waiting to pounce as I walked by each entrance.

"Just my coworkers," I thought, "Nothing to see here.  Engineers aren't scary, Leauxra, no more than normal people."  I make an effort to keep my mouth closed when I think.  No one wants to be that coworker who talks to herself.

I managed not to flinch as an office opened to my left, and I smiled pleasantly as I squeezed by a full-sized coworker at an intersection a few cubes away.

Right, Left, Right.  I knew the way.  The last little bit is the worst.  There are two conference rooms that are often empty.  They are dark, doors gaping open, and they are too still.  Is there a zombie?  No, no, I would see it.  I would hear it. I would smell it.  They smell worse than engineers.  Probably.

The flickering flourescents overhead play tricks, though, and it was Monday morning before caffeine.  From the corner of my eye, I saw movement.

I forced myself to keep my head from whipping around as I continued to walk.  Best not to let anyone see me start.  No one wants to be the "twitchy coworker".  I could hear nothing but the drone of recirculated air, the pale squeal of the light bulbs, and the distant clicking of typing hands.  No one schedules meetings this early on a Monday, so the corridoor had no murmur of people on the phone.

It was nothing.  Trick of the eyes.

I made it to the main hallway, passing by the empty "fishbowl" conference room with glass on three sides.  It was dark and reflective.  Something could be inside watching me, and I would never know.  I checked my silouette as I passed to make sure my new button-down shirt didn't make me look fat.  I looked fine, it's OK.  No spider aliens leap from the darkness and stick to the windows from the inside while trying to eat me.

I reached the break station where the ice maker lives.

I stood in front of it and stared.

Looked at my hands, looked at the ice machine.

Something was missing.


A cup of some sort would be useful.

I sighed, bracing myself for the walk back through the gauntlet to get a cup, and then back out again for the ice, then back again to my desk.

Mondays start slow around here, folks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Like that Chick in "The Ring," Only Blonder

I grow hair out of my head well.

I grow hair VERY well, even.  It's like a super power.  I could be "Grow-Your-Own-Cape Girl" or "Leauxra the Longhair" and join the Justice League.  It may even have something to do with destiny.

People think I am exaggerating when I say I have "ass-length" hair.

It's been 9 years since I cut my hair.  No wait.  I had it trimmed about 4 years ago, and every once in a while, I cut my bangs shorter because they get in my eyes and drive me crazy.  But I haven't taken off any serious inches in most of a decade.

She can fly!

I've been thinking about cutting my hair.  Short.

And being me, I keep thinking up excuses not to do it, and putting it off, even though I really actually want to cut it short.

There are so many things that my hair prevents me from doing...  Things like wearing hats and going for a bike ride take planning and care.   My hair is getting in the way of the rest of my life.

Also, I am afraid that a spider will get tangled into it.




If I'm the superhero of hair growth, I need to start acting like a damned superhero.

With great power, comes great responsibility, right?  I could bring it to Lock so Love to make a wig or 10 for cancer patients.

I could use my hair for good instead of evil.

I don't look like Cousin It.  I look like The Ring 4: Blonds Have more Fun.

I really AM the Olympic Champion of growing hair

My hair has magical superpowers, and can levitate.  For reals.

I can just picture what I would say to the stylist.

Me: "I want it short. Like, really short.   A pixie cut, even.  But don't cut my bangs too short.  I don't want to look like my hair is to small for my head, or like I'm surprised or something."

She would look at me, scissors poised.

Me: "And don't give me a gay man hair cut.  Because I'm not a gay man."

Me: "I mean, I don't wear makeup, keep my nails short, wear flat shoes, am uncomfortable in a skirt, don't exfoliate, condition, or curl... Hell, I don't even own a hair dryer, but I can assure you that I am straight.  And female."

Me:  "Fuck you.  Just cut the damned hair.  Short.  Make me cute.  Well, you know, as cute as possible
with what you have."


Me: "You know what?  Never mind.  I'm going home."



It would grow back.


I'm the Hairy Hippie Hero, and one thing I can do is grow me some hair, right?

So why is it so scary?