Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Great Decluttering Project of 2015 Continues

So my last blog was about organizing and clearing out a lot of junk in my home. I call it the Great Decluttering Project of 2015.

I started on it a couple weeks ago, but I haven’t accomplished all that much, particularly in the furnace room-slash-storage area. Oh, who am I kidding?  I haven’t even started on that room.

But I do think I am working up to it. Why? Because I have managed to clear out some other areas of my home.

Like, for instance, I organized and decluttered our entryway-slash-laundry room. And now the room is both functional and pretty, which makes me smile just looking at it. And, believe me, I look at it a lot. You wouldn’t think that a household with only two people living in it could produce as much dirty laundry as we do. But we do.

And I also cleared out the freezer. We haven’t even lived in this house three years yet, so how we have a frozen pot roast from 1983 is a mystery.

Well, okay, so not really. But some of the stuff I pulled out of that freezer did vaguely resemble something from the last century.

And on today’s agenda was the dreaded furnace room.

Sadly, I never made it.

Instead, I completely overhauled the master bathroom drawers, cabinets and closet.  Why? Well, near as I can tell, I was procrastinating. I figured it would take me only an hour or so to work on this area and then I would head downstairs.

I had, after all, organized this room about a year ago. An hour? Yeah, right.

Clearly, the expiration date on any organized area is one year. Because it took me several hours to get through all the cabinets, drawers and the closet.  Yikes.

I tossed things that evidently were on the bubble last year when I organized the area. Things that were jumbled up in the drawers were moved to bins in the closet and labeled.

It’s a wonder I didn’t find more than one colossal size container of certain items – like Q-tips. Thankfully, we only had one. But as it is, the mega-Costco-sized container will last us well into next year.

On the other hand, if there is an Apocalypse anytime soon, we will be the “go-to” people for toothpaste. We have enough to keep the teeth of a small third world country shiny clean and bright.  Sadly, we don’t have enough toothbrushes for said third world country. We have only one spare toothbrush. One. It doesn’t compute. Fourteen tubes of toothpaste and only one lonely little toothbrush?  And, hey, I’m all about sharing – but not my toothbrush.  So it looks like another trip to Costco is imminent.

Y’know. Because of that Apocalypse thing.

Oh, and the other thing I was happy about accomplishing was that I hung the two auto sketches that Vince and I had framed, which had been leaning against the wall in our front hallway for the past three months. And I even measured the walls so the pictures would be straight and even.  Didn’t rely on the Jane Eyeballing Method of Picture Hanging. Guess there’s hope for me yet, eh?!

There is one tendency I need to curb during this Great Decluttering Project of 2015, though. I have become a big fan of the label maker. Okay, I may as well admit it.  I am addicted. I have been labeling everything

Vince gave me a hard time about labeling the spot in the cabinet where his camera goes. His camera has been in the same place in the same cabinet since he got the camera for Christmas several years ago.  So why did I need to label it?

My perfectly reasonable response was, “Well, if it is supposed to go in that cabinet, why do you leave it on the counter?”
And just because I think I’m soooo funny, I hauled out the label maker one more time and put labels on the washer, the dryer and the back door. And waited for him to notice.

He finally looked at the back door as he was heading out the other day, and did notice that label.

And he laughed.

Mission accomplished.

And I swear to you – I’m gonna get to that furnace room. Soon. This year, anyway.

While I still have tape in my label maker.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“Someday” in Jane’s Domain

Today I was in a caffeine-fueled mindset that I had to completely refresh and re-organize my home from top to bottom.  

It was a lofty goal that was destined to fail. Particularly since I intended to get the entire main floor finished in one day.


Instead, I managed to get a few decorative items hung in the living room, dining room and hallway. I watered all the plants and then shuffled them around between the kitchen, dining room and living room. But after all that schlepping, I was too weary to start in on the spice cabinet.

So…two check marks on a legal-sized page filled with “To Do’s”? 

Epic fail!

But see what happens when you throw a little sunshine and warmer temperatures my way? I get all giddy and think that this is the year I will finally see my entire home cleaned, organized and de-cluttered – all at the same time. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m afraid to have unexpected guests show up or anything. No one is forced to sidestep a big mountain of garbage just to make it through the front door.

And, while there are many areas of my home that are well-organized, including drawers and cabinets that are all labeled and shelf-papered, there are definitely hidey-holes filled with junk and things that I need to go through “someday” and organize.

My mistake early on was thinking that “someday” I would have a garage sale to sell the things that I can’t use here, but are too nice to toss.   I envisioned raking in big bucks while sadly saying goodbye to some of the valuable possessions I’ve had for years.

Yeah, right.  The last time I participated in a garage sale, I think my net profit was approximately 12 bucks.

Consequently, there is not a great deal of motivation to work on the garage sale idea.

Every month, I get one of those charity solicitations asking for gently used clothing, shoes, and household items. And every month I save that postcard thinking that I’ll gather together a nice pile of donations for the charity.

Never happens.  Instead, I have boxes and bags of stuff that are supposed to be donated, but have been stashed in another one of my hidey holes. I swear, if that Hoarders show was still airing new episodes, they might want to make a house call.

They would come in expecting to climb a mountain of trash upon entry, but they wouldn’t encounter any. At first, they would think they had the wrong address. But ask them to step foot in my furnace room-slash-storage area, and they would be appalled.

The place started out somewhat organized after we moved in. But it’s where all my holiday decorations, wrapping paper and party supplies are stored. And since we’ve had a bunch of holidays, gift-giving occasions and parties since we moved here, the place has become a wreck.

But every time I step foot in the room and contemplate tackling the mess, I close my eyes and shudder, and then walk out and slam the door.

And then I pray that our furnace and water heater remain in good working condition.

I don’t think my plan of organizing my home from top to bottom is unreasonable. But I may need to lower my expectations on what I can get done in one day.

Baby steps, I guess. Besides, I’m pretty happy with myself that I’ve finally managed to hang the star-shaped mirror that has been leaning against the wall in the living room for nearly 2-1/2 years.

And I think my father-in-law will be proud of me. He has been wondering why it has been leaning against the wall when we have many empty walls on which to hang stuff. And we are not lacking in either hammers or nails.

A couple months ago, Vince and I had some car sketches framed. He’s a car guy and displaying them in our home is not unreasonable. The problem was, we didn’t know where to hang them. We didn’t want to hang all four pictures in our lower level and turn the place into a man cave.

And our living room space doesn’t work either. I’d suggest we hang them in the garage, but we spent too much having them framed, so that idea is out.

Meanwhile, the pictures have been leaning against the wall in our entry area since before Christmas.

But the other day, my sister-in-law and niece helped me find a spot in the lower level to hang two of them.  

Now, we just need to do the whole measuring and marking thing and get them hung up. Or the Jane version of that process, which is the eyeballing and hammering thing. (Most of the time, that works surprisingly well – as long as no one walks in carrying a measuring tape.)

So, today the star-shaped mirror. Tomorrow, the car pictures. And I may even have a little time left over to get to the spice cabinet.

And “someday”? Yeah, someday I’m gonna get to that furnace room-slash-storage area. I’m a little worried about the expiration date on the furnace and water heater. 

(And, no, I am NOT going to show you any "before" pictures!)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Confessions of a Half-Deaf Blonde and The Rustin Story

Do you remember when you were a kid and played the Telephone Game where you’d whisper something to the person next to you and they would whisper it to the next person and it would go on down the line until it reached the last person who had to repeat the message out loud?

Hilarity ensued because usually the message spoken had very little in common with what the originator whispered in the first place.

Yeah, life is sometimes like that with me.

Why? Well, because I’m half deaf. 

(The proper response here is, “WHAT?!”  Yeah, ha ha. Stop it! I’ve heard it before.)

But I’ve been 100% deaf in my left ear since I was about four and contracted German Measles, which damaged my auditory nerve. For years, I’d just tell people I was “half deaf.” Very often, they thought it was the beginning of a joke. Or that I was simply hard of hearing and would continue to talk quietly into my left ear, which was a lesson in futility.

Being deaf in my left ear hasn’t really hindered me in life all that much, other than I get a little surly if I’m stuck on the far right hand side of a table in a noisy restaurant, which means I pretty much can’t hear anybody throughout the meal.

There aren’t too many outward signs that I can’t hear, other than I tilt my good ear toward the speaker’s voice to try to hear better. But I don’t talk loudly the way some hard-of-hearing people sometimes do. And I tend to enunciate pretty carefully. Perhaps I’m trying to help out other half-deaf people or something.

Oh, and sitting in the passenger seat of a convertible means that, (a) conversation is pointless, and (b) my hair will look Bride-of-Frankenstein-ish by the time we arrive at our destination. The second thing really has nothing whatsoever to do with being half-deaf, but I just thought I’d throw it in there.

Other than those few things, though, I haven’t had too many problems with my faulty hearing.

But I realized the other day that I fill in the blanks a lot. Sometimes I’m a half step behind everyone else when the punchline is told and I fake the laugh – at least until I can fill in the blanks to the words I missed and I finally “get” it.

Probably over the years, people have attributed my slow response to being blonde.

Ah well. The price you pay. It’s not like I’m going to wear a sign.

The other day we were at the funeral home for Mrs. B. Friends and family were greeting each other and catching up, or shedding a few tears, or watching the slideshow Nick and Frankie had prepared where the images of Mrs. B's life flashed by on the screen.

One good friend, let’s call him Mikey P, walked into the room. He sees Joe for the first time and walks up to greet him. Joe, being on the verge of tears half the morning, hugged Mikey P tightly and they said a few words to each other.

When Mikey P released him and stepped back, he looked at us and then looked around the room, arranged a confused look on his face and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was the Rabinowitz funeral…I’m in the wrong place!”

And we all burst out laughing.

We had all been feeling sad and his comment immediately released the tension and allowed us to laugh. It was perfect.  Plus, Mrs. B would have loved it.

But here is where I start making stuff up. I have no idea what name Mikey P used. I just filled in the blank with “Rabinowitz.”

Fortunately, with that kind of example, the name itself didn’t matter.

But it sometimes makes retelling stories a little difficult for me. I hear parts of stories and I just make up the rest.

People will listen to me tell a story and think, Huh? I was standing right there – that’s not what he said at all!

So when I was at their house working on the eulogy for Mrs. B the other day, my friends Nick and Beth started talking about some guy named “Rustin.” I was completely baffled. First of all… “Rustin”? What kind of name is that? I figured I must have misheard them.

Fortunately, I’ve learned in life that it sometimes pays to ask that stories be repeated. The parts of the story that I do hear sounds too good to play the fill-in-the-blanks game, so I asked them to start over again for me.

In this case, they did.

It turns out that when Nick posted on Facebook that his mother had passed, he and/or Beth accidentally tagged some guy named “Rustin.”  Now, Rustin is not a Facebook friend. They don’t even know the guy. And they weren’t exactly sure how he got tagged.

What’s worse is that they didn’t know how to un-tag him.

Because Mrs. B was so well loved, there were many responses from friends sending thoughts, wishes and prayers to the family over her loss.  Many were sweet memories that evoked tears as well as smiles.

But we laughed knowing that Rustin was seeing every one of those comments and “likes.” Oh, how that probably confused him. 

Rustin's Facebook cover photo depicts five guys in a shooting stance, leveling guns or rifles at a target. And there he is, all the way out in Washington State getting dinged every time someone in Ohio sent condolences for a little, old Italian lady he never met.

After nearly a hundred comments on Nick’s post, Rustin finally chimed in and said he was sorry for their loss. And, for some reason, that cracked us up.  What a great thing – to give us a chance to laugh and to make our sadness recede for just a moment.  Beth typed in a “thank you” for his condolences, which made us laugh even harder. And when Nick suggested that maybe Rustin and his friends could give Mrs. B a 21-gun salute, we were practically rolling on the floor.

Too funny.

So, Rustin? Even though you'll never see this, we want to thank you for the laughs, man.  It helped get us through some sad moments.

And sometimes – just sometimes – it’s a good thing to hear the real story and not try to play the Telephone Game to cover my half-deafness.

“WHAT?!” (Ha ha. Stop it!) 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tribute to Mrs. B

Recently I have been re-watching Friends on Netflix. It was one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, ranking right up there with Cheers and Seinfeld.  

While I watched it when it originally aired in 1994, I hadn't watched every single episode in succession. Without commercial interruptions.

So I watched it all again. 

When the original series ended in 2004, I cried. I guess I identified with the characters on the show since I was only slightly older than they were. Of course, I didn’t have friends who lived across the hall who would burst into my apartment to exchange witty banter to a laugh track. But I recognized the closeness these fictitious characters shared – because I shared that same closeness with my own friends, many of whom I met in college at Ohio State.

I was sad when the series ended because it depicted how life moves on and how we change. Many of those changes are good – we grow up, we move for our careers or to start somewhere anew, we marry, we have children.  But sometimes those changes cause us to lose some of that closeness with those friends who, when we were younger, seemed to be “just across the hall” figuratively, if not literally. It was easier back then when we could drop everything to get together just to hang out for no reason at all or for special occasions like Halloween parties or ski weekends.

Nowadays, we get together less for “no reason at all” and more for things like weddings and funerals. The former is a happy reason, but the latter? Well, it may be the circle of life, but it’s still sad and difficult. And for some of us, it’s definitely a test of the strength of our waterproof mascara.

So yesterday I watched the Friends finale. And I still cried, even though I knew how it ended. After I turned off Netflix and dried my tears – all the while laughing at myself for being such a crybaby – I got to work on the everyday real life stuff: making dinner for my husband, throwing a load of whites in the washing machine and watering the ficus tree.

Then, a couple of hours later, I received a call from my friend Joe telling me that his mom had passed.

And the waterworks began again.

I have so many memories of the lady I always called “Mrs. B.” Not “Mrs. Bressler.” NEVER “Lilly.”  To Alex, Nick and Joe, she was “Mom.” And to all her grandchildren, she was “Nonna.”

And to her I was always, “Janie.”   

My husband Vince and I traveled to North Carolina a couple years ago to attend Joe and Leah’s wedding. Mrs. B was so happy to see us and, as usual, welcomed us like family. We took the requisite photos, of course, and at one point, I aimed the camera at her. She had been sitting on a stool in the kitchen, but when she saw me with the camera, she stood up, walked over to the stove, picked up a pot, leaned against the counter in a pose, and proudly said in her Italian accent, “You take my picture now, Janie. I’m da cook!”

Oh, but she was so much more than that.

Yes, she was a cook. And a seamstress. And a disciplinarian. And a quick wit. She loved Viareggio and her homeland and Italian heritage, but she loved being an American, too.

But mostly? Well, mostly, she was a wonderful friend. And whatever you called her, she was not someone you could ever forget.

For years, she worked at Fabians in Steubenville altering bridal gowns. I visited her there numerous times to see her tiny form covered in a big cloud of white as her nimble fingers added sequins by hand to a bridal gown. I’m guessing you could ask any bride whose wedding gown she altered – even if it was decades ago – and she’d remember Mrs. B. And she’d likely have some stories to share.

Anyone who ever met Mrs. B knows about the “boys from Youngstown.” She’d tell us to be good or she’d get the boys from Youngstown after us. And then she’d lift her finger and make a “rat-tat-tat-tat-tat” sound like a tommy gun. Later, when she walked with a cane, she would lift the cane as a prop and make that sound. And then we’d all laugh, but no one harder or louder than Mrs. B.

Like any self-respecting Italian, food was a priority in the Bressler household.

I remember the first time I visited Nick and Joe in Steubenville and sat down for a meal at Mrs. B’s table. No one had warned me that the chicken she served was only the first course – and not the entire meal.

I know, I know. Rookie mistake.

I spent the rest of the meal trying to eat a respectable portion of all the courses without insulting her – or exploding. It was delicious. But it wasn’t easy.

When I moved to Steubenville in 1998 to work with Nick and Joe, I realized that Mrs. B was just as much a part of their company as they were. She was at every birthday gathering, office Christmas party and event. She sent food over weekly. She would have sent it daily if Nick and Joe had let her. I can still picture Nick or Joe with her big black purse slung over their shoulder, carefully guiding her up the steps to the office so she could regale us with her stories.

Once she learned my cell phone number, that was it. She’d call me several times a week. I’d answer the phone and hear, “Janie!” and I knew Mrs. B was on the other end of the line. “Come pick me up tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock,” she’d say. “I take you to breakfast.”

I soon learned the reasons behind these breakfasts were two-fold: 1) she needed a ride to work, and 2) she was on a fact-finding mission to get the scoop on her boys’ companies. She figured I was a soft touch and would spill the beans.

Usually I was able to divert her attention by asking to see some of her old photographs. Her eyes would light up and her hands would dig into that big black purse – and out would come a baggie filled with black and white photographs of days gone by. Photos of her as a young war bride. Photos of her in a bathing suit on the beach with her legs playfully crossed in a movie star pose. Pictures of her boys when they were little.

And always she had another story to share.

After I moved back to Columbus, Mrs. B frequently called me from her cell phone. It didn’t matter if I were in a meeting or in the middle of an eye exam. If I answered the phone, Mrs. B had license to talk. 

So she’d talk. And talk. Annnnd…talk. But once she was finished, she’d suddenly say, “Janie – I love you. You family.” And – boom! – she’d disconnect the call.

Sometimes she’d jokingly add, “You pick me up tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock? I take you to breakfast.” And then she’d laugh because she knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive from Columbus to Steubenville the next morning by 9 o’clock just to go to breakfast.

It was only in the last year or two that her calls became more infrequent. And then she stopped calling me altogether. And, oh, how I miss those telephone calls.

Seven years ago I first introduced Vince to my OSU friends for a milestone birthday party in Cleveland. He had to go through a rigorous screening process. And the toughest person on the jury was Mrs. B.

But before the weekend was over, she was calling him “Vincey” (a name even I don’t get to call him, by the way!), and he was given the Mrs. B Stamp of Approval.

It was an honor, then, a year later when she attended our wedding. I have many wonderful memories of that day, of course, but one of the best was when – at the urging of Mrs. B – our DJ played, Let Me Call You Sweetheart as the last song of the evening and we all gathered together to sing. The blurry phone camera photos we have of that moment are – to me – priceless. And Mrs. B, of course, was front and center in them all.

The last time I visited Mrs. B was in August with Nick, Beth and their girls. Nick played the piano and sang. Mrs. B looked at me, nodded at Nick and murmured, “beautiful.”

And whenever she spoke of – or looked at – her grandchildren, she’d smile and again mouth the word, “beautiful.”
Beyond the obvious, I think I knew what she meant. She meant that she’d raised three wonderful boys. They grew up, married and raised (and are still raising) beautiful families of their own. She was so very proud of them all.

The fact that they are the kindest, funniest, best friends I’ve ever known is testament to the fact that I think she did a beautiful job, too.

Mrs. B’s dressy occasion outfit was a pair of blue slacks, blue vest or jacket and a white ruffled blouse. Sometimes the blue would be replaced by black, but the white ruffled blouse was a constant. 
Now, whenever I see a white ruffled blouse – whether it’s on a model or on a grandmother – I think of Mrs. B. And whenever I see someone walking with a cane, irreverent as it is, I picture the user holding it up like a tommy gun and saying, “Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat!”

And it makes me smile.

None of us lives forever. We all know that. But it’s still hard to say goodbye.

Mrs. B used to say, “I’m 90-and change” – so she lived a full, long, beautiful life. But she is going to miss her oldest granddaughter’s upcoming wedding. And she’s going to miss the birth of her newest grandchild. Life will go on without her. But she will always, always remain close in our hearts.

I love you, Mrs. B. You family. And I wish I could pick you up tomorrow at 9 o’clock. I would take you to breakfast.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Twinks and Jinx: True Creatures of Habit

I don’t think my cats, Twinks and Jinx, are markedly different than most other cats. They’re not purebred felines. They don’t possess any skills worthy of YouTube. And while I think they are adorable, their little faces aren’t expressive enough to become the next Big Thing à la the Grumpy Cat.

But they amuse me, nonetheless.

They have habits that are now absolute rules in the house. Like, for instance, I cannot get up first thing in the morning and stumble over to the Keurig to brew myself some eye-opening coffee. 

Instead, replenishing their food bowls is the first order of business. They act as if they haven't eaten for days - even if there is still food in their bowls. And God forbid  
there is a little circle of emptiness in the middle of the bowl. They will meow as if I’m purposely starving them.

The next thing I have to do is refill their water bowls with fresh water. They will saunter over to it, look at it and then look up at me with an almost disdainful look as if to say, "Hey, lady, what's with the day-old water, here? We need fresh water. Immediately! And don't give us any of that tap stuff, either!"
Once that task has been fulfilled, then – and only then – am I allowed to make myself a cup of coffee.

For the past year or so, I have been carrying my coffee to the living room where I sit on the loveseat and contemplate life. Well, mostly I contemplate the inside of my eyelids and wonder when the caffeine will finally hit my bloodstream. But this habit helps me become a little more civilized and ready for the day. Clearly, the Grumpy Cat and I have much in common first thing in the morning.

Eventually, Vince gets up, brews his own cup of coffee, and joins me for a few moments of quiet before we begin our day.

That is, until Twinks decided that having captive humans available to give her some kitty love was a great idea. She will leap up on the back of the couch and bonk her furry little head against Vince’s to let him know that the kitty petting is about to commence.

Then she climbs down to the arm of the loveseat and waits. Sure enough, Vince starts petting her and she starts purring. This only stops when either (a) Vince tries to move her to the seat of the couch in order to have easier access, which she doesn’t like because it wasn’t her idea or (b) she has had enough kitty attention and jumps down to the floor to give herself a bath.

I can’t decide if I’ve trained our cats – or our cats have trained me. I suspect the latter. Case in point: when we moved into our new house, I brought the treats canister and a bag of treats down to our lower level where the TV is. One night, after we turned off the news and before we headed upstairs to bed, I gave them a handful of treats.

It wasn’t long before they expected this habit to continue. And by “wasn’t long before,” I mean immediately. And by “expected,” I mean demanded.

Since then, the absolute second the television goes silent, they are on high alert meowing and squeaking to let me know it’s time for their treats. It doesn’t matter if we’re fast forwarding through the commercials or simply muting the television, whenever they hear silence, Twinks and Jinx will move to their assigned “spots” to await their treats.

The other day, the cats were on the floor taking their scheduled 6 p.m. kitty siesta and I was watching a program on TV. I accidentally hit the power button on the remote, which of course immediately silenced the TV. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cats snap awake. They swiveled their little heads to look at the TV and then – in unison, no less – swiveled back to look at me. And then they moved to their spots. Twinks meowed and Jinx squeaked to let me know it was Treat Time. It was like a well-choreographed routine.

I couldn’t help it – I started to laugh.

And, believe, me, I wanted to give them some treats for that stellar performance, but I resisted. Why?

Because I really don’t want to start the 6 p.m. Treat Time habit. This is partly because our Treats budget would go up exponentially.

But mostly it’s because I think they’ve got me trained enough already.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Right Star. Wrong Flick.

Last night Vince and I went to see a Kevin Costner film. We both thought it was the one where he is a teacher and coach in a small southern California town who forms a cross-country team of predominantly Latino students. These kids run really, really fast and end up winning lots of competitions. We had previously seen the preview and thought it might be a good movie.

Instead, we saw Kevin Costner as a grandfather of an adorable biracial little girl who is being raised by Costner’s character and his wife. The wife dies unexpectedly, though it’s not terribly sad as it happens at the beginning and we never actually meet her.  But the rest of the film involves a custody battle with the other grandmother, played by Octavia Spencer.

Yeah, this was the wrong flick.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Black or White. It had a good message and I think it was well done.  I even shed a tear or two at the end (proof in Jane’s Domain that it was a good movie).

It’s just that when you go to the theater, you sort of have an idea of what you’re going to see, don’t you? You gear up for an action film or a science fiction flick or a romantic comedy. And if it’s one of those weepy chick flick movies, you come prepared with a fistful of extra Kleenex.

Well, we walked in expecting to see a feel-good movie about a group of kids who become track stars. 

And for the first fifteen minutes or so, I waited for Kevin Costner to make a big change in his life after the death of his wife and move to a new town where he starts coaching.  Figured he’d just bring his little granddaughter along, although she was a surprise as I didn’t remember her in the preview.

Uh. Never happened.

At about the 20 minute mark, I had to readjust my thinking and settle in for an entirely different movie. This was not easy to do. Especially since I sensed Vince’s frustration as he is not a big fan of stories about custody battles.

So I learned my lesson. I had done so much research on the best theaters (the closest ones with the comfy recliners) and the best start times (which would allow us enough time for dinner beforehand, but not so much time that we’d get home late and have to immediately go to sleep), that I forgot to actually read the synopsis of the movie. Nor did I apparently pay much attention to the title of the film, as that is sort of a hint.

Yeah, apparently my research ended with the photo of Kevin Costner as the star.  But, c’mon. Who knew the man is still such a big star that he has two movies coming out in the first quarter of 2015?

Guess I shouldn’t make such assumptions, eh?  Vince would prefer it, I’m sure.
On the other hand, at least I didn't inadvertently drag Vince to a weepy chick flick. He would’ve walked out in protest and watched American Sniper for the second time.

Besides, I had no extra Kleenex for the weepy chick flick.

So, anyway. If you’re up for a movie in the next few days and you’re a fan of either Kevin Costner or Octavia Spencer, go see Black or White. I think you’ll like it.  But just know that there is no running in the movie.

Oh, and if you want to see a movie about cross country track stars? That one is called McFarland, USA – but it doesn’t open until February 20th.

You’re welcome.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Joy and Pain of Netflix

Sometimes I think Netflix is the best thing that has happened to us since the invention of the smart phone and other times? Well, other times, I curse the person who invented it. (Netflix – not the smart phone.)

Vince and I love watching Netflix because there are no commercials. He gets annoyed over commercial breaks on network television and we have to fast forward through them. And woe to the remote control operator if she is not quick on the draw and remembers to hit the button once the commercial has begun.

I can see my darling husband out of the corner of my eye as he starts doing this imaginary button pressing thing, which gets more pronounced if the commercial actually starts airing. And if I’m still focused on something else (like my smart phone, for instance), he makes noises indicating his frustration and even starts poking me in the side with his elbow.

Only once has he had to pointedly ask, “And why are we watching this commercial?” So I had to pretend like I was completely engrossed in the local ad featuring the lawyer with the horrible comb-over. Side note to my fellow Columbus-ites: does that guy really think he’s fooling anyone?! (I’d show you a picture of him, but, well, he IS a lawyer, after all, and I’m not completely familiar with libel laws.)

So, yeah. In our house, we are not big fans of the advertising commercial. Mental note to self: Hand him the remote on Sunday and let him decide if he wants to be able to discuss Super Bowl commercials on Monday around the proverbial water cooler.

Anyway, the lack of commercials is one big benefit of Netflix. Another benefit is that we can watch an entire series without waiting a week for the next “live” episode to air or months before the next season begins.

Consequently, we are in the know about where the phrase “Better call Saul” comes from. And we now know who got lost on Lost and why (sort of), and how Dexter could be such a good bad guy.

So we’re watching shows that were critically acclaimed – even if the acclaiming was going on a few years ago.

However, I have recently realized that there are other long-running series that are featured on Netflix and I’ve started becoming addicted to reruns and repeats that I already saw the first time around.

Like, for instance, I’m currently re-watching the entire series of Friends.  Did I watch Friends when it initially aired on NBC? Sure, I did. I even taped it on my VCR if I had to miss an episode. (That’s how long ago Friends premiered.)

My justification is that sometimes the videotape messed up and I missed certain pivotal episodes. Like the one where Ross cheats on Rachel because they were “on a break.” I needed to see it to piece together the entire Ross and Rachel thing.  Plus, I had no idea how the duck and the chicken came to live with Joey and Chandler. These are important questions that needed to be answered.

I know. Could I BE any more lame?!

But reliving those moments on that show puts me in a happy place. And there was some really funny stuff on Friends.  I have laughed so loudly I’ve even scared the cats a few times.

Fortunately, Friends is only a half hour show and without commercials, we’re looking at 22 minutes, tops. Thus, I can get through them pretty quickly.

So maybe it’s okay if I indulge myself this time. But I really, really need to stop after Friends.

…except that I think I saw that Netflix is replaying Cheers. And I’m thinking I should probably relive all those Sam and Diane moments.

Uh oh.