Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Hump Day!

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means – it’s Hump Day. I used to think that was sort of a “rude” saying, but now I totally get it.

It did seem like the first two days of this week were an uphill climb. And, boy, has it been a steep climb! Once I get through today, though, it will truly be downhill from here. Friday is a short work day and then we’ve got the long holiday weekend to look forward to. Thank God. I’ve never needed a long holiday weekend more than I do right now!

When Vince and I first started thinking about the holiday and where we might want to go or what we might want to do, we thought of visiting family in northern Michigan. My cousins are closing their restaurant in Leland, Michigan, so they can focus on their other business (Called “The Redheads” – they make hummus, vinaigrettes and other yummy natural and organic foods. Check ‘em out since you can order online! Go to http://www.theredheadsinc.com)

Anyway, they are having a grand finale gathering at Kejara’s Bridge over the Memorial Day weekend, so that was sort of an incentive to make the trip. Plus, I love visiting my cousins! But because I haven’t been feeling well – and now Vince has finally caught my cooties – it doesn’t seem like a smart idea for us to drive 7 hours, party like rock stars over the weekend – and then drive 7 hours home and get right back to work on Tuesday.

Here is where I lament, “Why oh why am I not independently wealthy??” Whenever I’ve asked the question before, I’ve never gotten a constructive answer. The best I get is some snarky comment like, “Better play the lottery, girl.” Like that helps.

So it doesn’t look like we’ll be making the trip. Besides, I never called any of my cousins to say that we were even considering a visit. Can you imagine if we just showed up? “Hi guys. Um…who can put us up for the weekend?” Talk about rude! Leland, Michigan, by the way, does not have a plethora of Red Roof Inns, and sleeping in our car is, well, that just ain’t happenin’.

No, I think we’ll be sitting this one out. I’m sure my cousins would appreciate it. They certainly don’t want to hear us performing our nightly 3AM coughing concert. And by “us” I mean “me.” So far, Vince hasn’t chimed in yet, but since he has my cooties, I expect he will be joining me very soon.

Instead, we’ll stick close to home with our Vick’s VapoRub and Kleenex and Nyquil close at hand. Well, those will be more for Vince as most of my symptoms – except for the stupid cough – are gone.

So what else will we be doing this weekend? Well, we could throw caution to the wind and rent a video or something. (Ooh, we’re livin’ the high life now, aren’t we?!) But at least renting a movie has to be better than watching a free flick on Cinemax. The other night we were bored, so we watched a movie called “Dreamcatcher.” Talk about bizarre. Alien creatures that looked like slimy snakes with lots of rows of vertical teeth came out of, well, out of people’s hindquarters. I mean…how gross is that?

The movie did not, as you can imagine, make it to my Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time list.

Maybe I’ll just immerse myself in shoes this weekend. I have not one – but two - coupons for DSW that are burning a hole in my pocket. It’s enough to net me at least one free pair! Hmmm…I feel myself perking up here. Yes, I can see spending some quality time looking at row after row, aisle after aisle of pretty shoes!

Oh, and then I could throw caution to the wind and actually go to the movie theater and see the new “Sex & The City 2” movie. I can see what kinds of shoes that Carrie and her cohorts are wearing. Shoes with sky-high heels that I could never (a) afford, or (b) wear without risking life and limb.

Okay, so it looks like it’s shaping up to be a shoes-and-Vick’s VapoRub kinda weekend. Maybe Vince will even cook some burgers on the grill. That’s an appropriate activity for the first summer holiday weekend, isn’t it?

Woohoo. I think we’ve got a plan. No, we won’t be partying like rock stars, but at least we can have our 3AM coughing concert in the comfort of our own home. And we can take the whole “sleeping in the car” concern right off the table.

Now that that’s settled, I can take a moment to wish you a “Happy Hump Day!” Party like a rock star!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Office

I think my boss is trying to kill me. I’m not even kidding you. Maybe he’s tired of paying the ever increasing health insurance premiums and this is the best way to get rid of me? Or maybe this is payback for that one error I made back in 2002?

Or maybe he’s just tired of my perfectionist-never-make-a-mistake attitude?!

I’m not sure what the reason is, but it seems like he’s trying to tell me something when there are so many noxious chemicals in the air that I seriously need a gas mask to breathe. And, no, I am not being paranoid.

As you know if you’ve read any of my blogs for the past five years, I’ve been dealing with a cold. And, okay, so it hasn’t been five years, but surely we must be getting close.

And I’m not the only one around here who is sick, either. There’s an awful lot of hacking and throat-clearing and nose-blowing occurring in this office and it’s not all coming from me, although I could easily snag the prize for being the loudest and most obnoxious.

So why on earth would he choose today – of all days – to repair the floorboard in the empty office near mine? We only keep catalogues in there along with our water fountain. But we’re all used to straddling the broken floorboard when filling our water bottles, so it’s no biggie. Besides, that floorboard has been broken since before I arrived on the scene – and that is going on eight l-o-n-g…I mean, eight magical years! No telling how many decades before that it was broken.

Apparently, my boss decided that the work couldn’t be delayed any longer when the flooring in another office gave way and created a gap big enough to allow infiltration from four-legged creatures that rhyme with “cats” but are not cute household pets that wear pink collars with tinkling little bells. No, these creatures belong in a landfill or a sewer somewhere far away from the inside of an office building. Or at least far enough away from the likes of me.

So, okay, I’ll concede that there is a valid reason for the urgency in having the repairs made. It's an old, German Village office and stuff happens. And I appreciate the effort to keep said creatures from entering the office, which would cause me to screech like a banshee should I ever spy one in here.

But the guy doing the repair work (who is currently outside on his third smoke break in an hour), is using some sort of horrendous-smelling glue to fix things. It’s making me a tiny bit lightheaded. This would be bad enough, but now I’m smelling the smoke from his cigarette, which is somehow drifting into my office from the outside. And it’s making me cough, which I’m really tired of doing, thus it’s also making me a little cranky.

Perhaps I should also have copped to that one error I might possibly have made in 2005? You think that would return things to normal around here where the worst smell I have to deal with is that which emanates from the break room after someone orders bad Thai food at lunchtime?

Probably not. Because that’s not the end of our problems. Seriously, it’s like some cheesy disaster movie around here today.

We also have an infestation of flies in the basement. I kid you not. I refused to go down there to see what was meant by “infestation” because, to me, anything more than two flies qualifies as an infestation. Besides, if I saw a roomful of swarming flies, I’d be traumatized for life and you’d find me trembling inside a little white padded room swatting at imaginary flies and drooling and mumbling to myself. So I think I’ll just take their word for it.

So what did they do? They set off some foggers down there to eradicate the flies. Which is great, but now I swear to you, the toxic chemicals are filtering up through the vents into my office. You have got to be kidding me!

I’m telling you, it’s hard to concentrate on how best to respond to a customer who wants to know if it’s okay to give her 5 lb. mini-pretend dog one of our Meaty Y dog bones that are about the size of a dinosaur thigh and have to be twice the size of her dog. Would it be too sarcastic to simply write back, “Hey lady…duh!”? No, I’d better not. Mostly because then I would have to admit to making another mistake. Damn.

So I have a few questions: Is it bad to breathe in the fumes from those bug bombs? How about someone with a temporarily compromised immune system? And, most importantly, shouldn’t all this qualify me for some sort of additional hazardous pay??

If only I’d known I’d be dealing with all this cigarette smoking, bug-bombing, super-glue fumigating, fly-infiltrating craziness, I would’ve just called in sick this morning. Surely I wouldn't have been required to bring in a doctor's excuse.

I'm telling you, though, if I see a swarm of locusts approaching, I'm outta here!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feelin' Great?

What to write about today? I’m not sure – I’ve been doing very little for what seems like forever. Except coughing. At that I’ve become an expert. But at least I’m now on antibiotics and other kickin’ prescription medications, so hopefully I’ll be my normal healthy and extremely cheerful self really soon. Vince is probably hoping so, even though he knows I’m not exactly “extremely” cheerful. Ever. But I do think he’s getting tired of hanging out at home with sick ol’ me.

Being under-the-weather is no fun. You feel crappy, but after a while people don’t really want to hear it anymore. They ask, “How are you feeling?” And, if you don’t promptly respond “Feelin’ great!” they do the “Still feeling under-the-weather, huh?” thing while backing away from you as quickly as possible without seeming completely rude. This could be because (a) they’re afraid of catching whatever death germs you’re walking around with, or (b) they’ll have to kill either themselves – or you – if they have to hear one more time about how much mucus you’re coughing up.

Can’t exactly blame ‘em. First of all, it’s really gross to discuss mucus with anyone other than a doctor. And even then it’s only appropriate when the doctor really, really wants to know so he can make a note in your chart. Which probably goes something like this: “She’s coughing up a gross amount of mucus. Yuck.”

It’s also probably human nature. It’s hard to maintain constant empathy for another person. You’re anxious to get on with things and are hoping they’re ready to do the same. The problem with saying “Feelin’ great!” if you’re the sick person, however, is that the healthy person then asks you to do something that you’re not ready to do. Like help them move large appliances. Or run a marathon the following weekend. (These are, of course, purely fictitious examples as nobody who knows me in the slightest would ever ask me to run a marathon. It is common knowledge that I don’t do marathons. Furthermore, I’d get a little cantankerous if I had to walk a marathon. But I digress…)

Anyway, the sick person has to try for a response somewhere between being healthy as a horse and sick as a dog. I’m not sure what the middle ground is there as I don’t normally compare myself to animals. Maybe I should say, “Hey, I’m a lucky duck – it could be worse!”

And that is true. No matter how crappy we feel, we know there is always someone who is worse off than we are. The other day when I went to the health care center wanting immediate relief from the bone shaking cough that should have surely produced a tiny bit of muscle tone in my abdominals by now, I was happy to realize that I have very few other health issues. I mean, sure, I have to work on diet and exercise and such, but I don’t have high numbers for bad things like diabetes or cholesterol. My numbers, in fact, are reassuringly low. And that’s something to be thankful for. Nor have I really spent any time in hospitals other than for the odd stitch or two, the last of which was nearly two decades ago. (Knock wood.) No, the most time I’ve ever spent in a hospital is to visit some other sick as a dog person.

So, all in all, I have much to be thankful for. And it makes me realize that I can’t take my health for granted, so I know I need to get back into my regular workout routine again. Not only that, but probably we should revisit the quantities and types of vitamins we take on a regular basis.

Actually, Vince and I take vitamins every single day as part of our morning routine. But a couple months ago we ran out of Vitamin C and we decided against buying anymore until the “cold and ‘flu season” starts up again in the fall. Ha. Joke's on us. Naturally, I’ve decided that I got sick because we weren’t taking our Vitamin C – not that, perhaps, I hung around some germ-infested sick person. Nevertheless, we promptly went to the store and bought a mega-size bottle and have been popping them like candy ever since. Not that it’s helped yet, but I’m ever hopeful.

And, finally, I’m also quite thankful that I don’t have a chronic condition. True, I’m going on 21 days of being sick and it seems like it has been – AT LEAST – three weeks! (Ha ha. No, I’m really not that bad at math!) But trust me, while it seems like a long time to be sick, I do realize that three weeks is not considered “chronic.”

I know people who have constant back pain from real trauma to their spines. I know people with arthritis so severe their fingers are bent at awkward angles and they cannot open the simplest jar. And I know people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Dealing with those sorts of health issues are the ones that are tough. Year after year it has to be difficult to say “Feelin’ great!” when they really don’t. And they sure aren’t ready to help you move – or run a marathon.

So I’m going to practice being grateful for the health that I do enjoy and being empathetic to those people with chronic conditions. And as soon as I stop coughing up, well, whatever I’m coughing up, I’m going back to the gym. And for anyone I know with a chronic health condition? Rest assured that I will never ever ask you to run a marathon with me.

Now there’s some empathy right there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sing...Sing A Song...


Last night we attended “Choirs in Concert” by the New Albany high school performing arts department led by choir director, Karrie Horton. It was an entertaining evening and we could tell the kids had worked hard on their performances. More importantly, most of them seemed to enjoy themselves up there on stage, and that’s a good thing to see. A lot of the credit probably goes to their teacher as she seemed to enjoy herself as much – if not more – than the kids did. She made the statement that she loves coming to work every day and that’s not something everyone gets to say about their job. Pretty cool, huh?

Many of the songs the students sang were “contemporary.” In other words, they were not composed by long-dead men in long white powdered wigs, like the songs we used to sing in Choir.

Yes, I was in the Alliance High School choir for four years and I have to say that I enjoyed myself then under the direction of our choir teacher, Mr. Hisey, who had a quick smile and would get so “into” his direction that his black glasses would slip down his face and his dark hair would flop down over his forehead. So he was constantly pushing up his glasses and smoothing his hair back and then immediately finding the right chord on the piano to lead us once again into song. This all took place back in the “dark ages.” Well, okay, it wasn’t quite that long ago, but we are talkin’ the 70’s here.

Interestingly, many of the songs sung last night were composed in the 70’s by artists such as Steely Dan, REO Speedwagon and the Carpenters. Songs by the Beatles and Johnny Cash were also sung, but I don’t know if they were produced in the 60’s or 70’s. Sure, I could look it up, but I’m feelin’ lazy today. (Feel free to do some extra credit homework, people…!)

Now that I think about it, the kids who were singing those songs last night probably never heard of the Carpenters or Steely Dan…so, to them, the songs may as well have been composed by long-dead men in long white powdered wigs. This is not true, of course, although the artists probably did have long hair. It was, after all, the 70’s.

Not all the songs the NAHS choir sang were from artists who performed in the decades before these kids were born. No, they sang a few really contemporary songs – like “Single Ladies” by Beyonce and “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne.

I‘m sitting here trying to imagine Mr. Hisey trying to get an unruly bunch of high school kids to settle down and sing “Single Ladies.” Nope, can’t quite manage that image.

Another difference between the singers last night and our choir back in the 70’s is the clothing. The kids last night wore black shirts and blue jeans. Except for the A Capella singers, who either wore colorful floaty dresses or black suits. And, yes, it was the girls wearing colorful floaty dresses and the boys wearing black suits. Sheesh. I didn’t think I’d need to clarify that point.

When we were in the choir, we were not allowed to wear blue jeans on stage. No, in fact, we wore black choir robes. Yikes. BIG difference, huh? And our elite singers, which we called the Madrigals, wore somber long dark dresses and black suits. (Sorry. This time I refuse to clarify who wore what. You figure it out.)

There’s another difference I can mention – and that is hair styles. Many of the girls last night wore their hair long and straight. We didn’t have flatirons back in the 70’s, so instead we went with the “Farrah Flip” or the “Dorothy Hamill Wedge” and most of the guys wore their hair long. A few of the guys with curly hair even managed to do the whole ‘fro thing.

Hmmm….now that I think about it…last night I did see a blond ‘fro. That’s a style I didn’t think I’d see come back. But I guess it’s true that what goes around comes around, eh? Oh, and I did see two Mohawks last night – one on a female and one on a male. (The male might even have been Vince’s son, Vinnie, but I will neither confirm nor deny that. I will say that it was a little surprising to see. But, hey, it’s not my head. I guess he can do whatever he wants with his.)

At the end of the night the kids brought their teacher a bouquet of flowers, which was lovely to see. And she bestowed upon many of them various honors and awards for their participation in the choir. (One of those recipients might even have been Vince’s son, Vinnie, but we don’t want to show too much favoritism here!)

Personally, I look back fondly on my days in the Choir in high school. I remember hanging out with good friends. And I also remember learning how to play Euchre. Hey, it was a long class that I seem to recall was then followed by “study” hall in the same room. Very little studying got done, as you can imagine, since we were all playing cards. So, sitting in a choir room playing Euchre was way preferable to, say, sitting in Spanish class with Miss Mundy. I bet the kids sitting in study hall in the Miss Mundy’s classroom were not allowed to play Euchre. Just a guess.

Anyway, after the final song last evening, we saw a few of the seniors get a little teary-eyed, which tells me that they truly enjoyed their time in high school and with the choir. I can only hope that the underclassmen feel that same way when they become seniors. For all the angst that goes along with the teenage years, high school is still a special time.

And, some day when these kids look back on the “dark ages” of 2010, I hope they recall their days in the choir with fondness.

Rock on, Mr. Hisey. Wherever you are…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Parenthood is for the Young. (But “Young-At-Heart” Parents Probably Need Red Bull Supplements)

Talked to my mom last night. She and Dad just returned from Milwaukee where they were visiting my sister, brother-in-law and 6-1/2-year-old niece, Chloe. Mom didn’t say so, but I suspect she was relieved to be sitting in their quiet family room listening to the clock tick, drinking a glass of wine and rocking in her rocking chair. She said they had a good time, but that she’d had her fill of board games like “Chutes and Ladders” and that Chloe has “a LOT of energy!”

Well, that’s a 6-1/2-year-old’s job. Kids that age run around like crazy people trying to burn off all that energy. Their secret mission is to make us adults feel even older than we are. We clearly doubt we ever possessed that much energy and we drink Red Bull-laced espresso by the gallon to try and keep up. But we know it’s a hopeless situation so we start thinking it would be a very good time for a nap. And, yes, rocking chairs begin to have an appeal we’d never noticed before.

That’s why parenthood is best left to the young. Oh, I know there are pros and cons. I have friends my age who were young parents and I also have friends the same age who are still doing the parenting thing with babies and toddlers.

The people who were young parents say that they raised their kids when they had the energy to do it and now that their kids are grown and on their own, they have the opportunity to “live life while they’re still relatively young.”

The older or “young-at-heart” parents, on the other hand, tell me that they are now more mature and able to raise their kids with wisdom – not to mention that their bank accounts are, perhaps, a little more stable than they might have been when they were younger.

All I know is that for me, personally, I prefer being the cool “friend of” mom or grandma. Yes, I had my moments of biological clock craziness when I desperately wished for a child. But those moments passed quite some time ago. Don’t get me wrong – I love cuddly babies and I sometimes look at them a little wistfully. I marvel at their tiny fingers and toes and sweet baby clothes and adorable little toothless grins and heavenly baby smells. Well, at least until it’s diaper changing time. Then their smells are not quite so heavenly and I’m a little less wistful and a little more relieved that the diaper-changing isn’t my responsibility.

The mere thought of being a new parent at this stage in my life would be enough to cause panic. Oh, I know that if God decided to demonstrate His sense of humor and gave me the opportunity to become the ‘voice of experience’ in these matters, I’d embrace motherhood with joy. But it would definitely be mixed with a lot of “Are you kidding me??” and “This is crazy!!” And the look on my face for the entire 9 months would definitely mirror the whole deer in the headlights thing. I can’t even begin to imagine how it would look for the subsequent 18 years!

So imagine my consternation when I heard on the radio this morning that 47-year-old Kelly Preston and her 57-year-old husband, John Travolta, are expecting a baby. The news was enough to have me adding more shots of Red Bull to my commuter cup of coffee.

True, they’re celebrities and they don’t live in the same kind of world we mere mortals do. And I know they’ve had their share of family tragedy when they lost their teenaged son, so I wish them the best of luck. But I also know that since they can afford to park a Lear jet on their front lawn, they can certainly afford to hire someone to clean up a high chair covered with mashed peas. Heck, they can probably afford to hire someone to pick the peas and someone else to mash them!

Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to be an older parent if you were wealthy and had access to cooks and maids and nannies to help split the parenting workload. I mean, actual people – and not all rolled into one mother.

For me, scrubbing a tub filled with bath toys or picking up a toy-strewn living room would leave me too exhausted to read bedtime stories. Or, maybe more accurately, reading bedtime stories would probably leave me too exhausted to do the cleaning thing. And I think I’ve passed the statute of limitations on knowing which kids’ gear is in and which is out. I’d be buying my kid a Dora the Explorer lunchbox when it was clear that I should’ve been buying Hello Kitty. Young parents seem to be able to handle these decisions whereas older parents are merely trying to decide if they took their Metamucil or if it was their kid’s Barney chewable vitamin.

Oh well. This is definitely not an issue I need to be concerned about and I am not making any announcements any time soon…unless it is to announce some fabulous trip around the world we’ve planned. (And that, too, seems to be pretty much a pipe dream unless we start playing the lottery.)

But I leave you with this thought: Parents are people to be greatly admired no matter what their age. They have an incredibly tough, albeit incredibly important job. And kids? Well, they are God’s gifts to the world and should be loved and cared for as the precious beings they are. But probably they should not drink any Red Bull.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Me? Picky? Surely You Jest!

Last night Vince and I ate leftovers for dinner. Leftovers actually make me very happy. Why, you ask? Why would anyone prefer leftovers over something freshly prepared? Well, because I don’t like doing dishes. Vince cooks a lot of great meals – my mom calls his dishes “concoctions” – and there are always tons of utensils and dishes and pots and pans to clean afterwards. And don’t get me started on the messy counters and a stove that looks like someone accidentally blew up a science experiment.

Eating leftovers, on the other hand, means washing a couple plates and forks plus a simple counter wipe-up. That, I can handle without too much complaint!

The other night when dinner was freshly prepared? I washed the same cutting board five times. Five times! C’mon – isn’t that a little excessive? Anyone with me here?! Every time Vince plucked the cutting board from the strainer to cut up something else, I glared at him a little more darkly. Like that helped. He just laughed at my expression. And, okay, so the dinner was pretty darn delicious. But I did tell him that five times was my limit and if he dirtied the cutting board one more time, there was going to be a changing of the guard and I was handing the dish soap over to him! And that was the last time he used the cutting board that night. Interesting

But anyway, we had salads with our leftovers last night, so I opened a new bottle of salad dressing that had been on sale for $1 at Kroger. And, um, it wasn’t very good. Whaddya want for a dollar – right? Well, Vince is very good at finding real bargains. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed salad dressings for only $1 before. I will usually buy things on sale, but they’re my favorites. And, generally speaking, they cost more than a dollar.

There are some generic products I’m okay with, but with many products I’m pretty brand loyal. What can I say? A lot of years of trial and error got me to this place.

So, anyway, I dressed the salad, took a bite…and then made a face. It was not very good. Vince looked at me and said, “Oh, come on – if I’d put that salad dressing in another bottle, you’d never know the difference!”

“Oh, I beg to differ,” I said. “I’m a little picky when it comes to salad dressing.”

He looked at me and started laughing. “A little picky?” he managed to choke out. “Janie, you’re picky about everything!!!” Once he said that, I started laughing, too. And then the irony of that statement truly hit us and we were both in hysterics. By the time we were done laughing and had a chance to catch our breath, we were red in the face and I was wiping away tears.

Wow. I guess I am picky. I never really thought about it before. It’s a good thing I found a guy who isn’t terribly bothered by my pickiness, huh?!

Do you remember the scene in When Harry Met Sally… when Sally orders pie a la mode? She’ll take this with that on the side and the other thing, but only if it’s fresh, and if it isn’t fresh, then she’ll take something else entirely? As she’s going through her long list of directives, the waitress looks over at Harry and rolls her eyes. He just shrugs as if to say, whaddya gonna do?

Well, I sort of rolled my eyes when Sally ordered like that too. I agreed with Harry that Sally was high maintenance but thought she was low maintenance – and that was the worst kind. I felt pretty smug because I thought I was a low maintenance kinda woman. I mean, I never order like that in a restaurant.

Living on my own all those years made being picky pretty easy. I bought the stuff I liked and didn’t have to justify it to anyone. I certainly didn’t buy or order things I didn’t like. Broccoli, for example, is okay raw and in salads, but I’m not crazy about steamed broccoli. Vince can get me to eat it now, but only if he puts cheese sauce on it.

He knows not to put mushrooms in omelets or pasta. He doesn’t put jalapenos or use spicy spices in anything if he wants me to eat it. And he knows I’ll turn up my nose to cooked carrots, but that I love raw carrots. Olives are good, but mushy olives are not.

And it’s not only food that I’m picky about. I am completely brand loyal when it comes to laundry detergent, for instance. Don’t even try to point out the stuff that’s on sale. I do not care. I do not want all my clothes smelling like different laundry detergents. What’s more, the scent of laundry detergent should match the scent of the dryer sheets. Oh, and if I could get laundry detergent that smelled like my favorite perfume, I’d be in heaven!

Egads! I AM a “Sally”!

Fortunately for me, Vince is a patient man. Maybe he’s so patient because he recognizes that I was on my own for a lot of years and he understands that it takes a little time to meld two lives together. Sometimes it takes a little patience. And, okay, in my case, perhaps it takes a lot of patience.

Sometimes it also takes a little compromise. Tell you what, honey. I’ll try steamed broccoli for dinner tonight without cheese sauce…

…Okay, no...I can’t do it.

Maybe we could just have the cheese sauce on the side?!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Update...

This past weekend was rather uneventful because we were still coughing and blowing our noses. Vince is sneezing louder and coughing longer and his voice is an octave lower, though, as his cold is just revving up while my cold is waning. Wasn’t it nice of me to share?! Maybe he should try the apple cider vinegar cure. If he does, and it works, I might even give it a shot the next time I catch a cold.

Or maybe not. I still can’t imagine actually drinking apple cider vinegar.

But anyway, I was feeling well enough during the day on Saturday to dust a little, pay some bills, wash some clothes and clean a coupla bathrooms. That’s a very good thing as the Bathroom-Cleaning Fairy hasn’t shown up in a while. Maybe she’s been off cleaning, I don’t know, restrooms at truck stops along I-71 or something and she’s too tired to make it to our place. All I knew is that I couldn’t wait for her any longer, so I had to haul out the scrub brush and the scrubbing bubbles and get to work myself.

By the time I was done with all those tasks, though, I was all done in and collapsed on the couch. You shouldn’t, by the way, believe those cute little scrubbing bubbles…they do not do all the work.

We ended up staying home Saturday night so sadly I didn’t get to see how big I could make my hair in an effort to recreate the 80’s. Oh darn – we didn’t get the chance to embarrass ourselves. Ah well, at least we don’t have to worry about any incriminating photographic evidence proving that we really should have left the 80’s back in, well, the 80’s.

Still, we were sorry we weren’t there to help our friend celebrate her birthday. I’m sure she had a big group of well-wishing friends by her side wearing their best leg warmers and Wayfarer sunglasses – and I can only hope we get to see some photographic documentation. I’m not above giggling at the expense of others. (Yes, I should be ashamed of myself.)

We decided that Sunday would be our busy day of the weekend. Since we’d spent the previous week sticking close to home in the evenings in an effort to convalesce, our list of errands was growing ever longer. So we sat down and mapped out a plan for the day that started with Church and ended with Costco.

There is, after all, only so long one can wait before replenishing the Kleenex, particularly if excessive nose-blowing is occurring in the household. Not only that, but there is only so long one can call in sick from St. Andrew’s. We figured we were in need of a spiritually uplifting sermon and, besides, we couldn’t wait to shake hands with our fellow parishioners and partake in the communal cup of wine. (I joke. We were careful to cough into our non-hand-shaking hands and we only dipped into the wine with our wafers rather than taking big swigs out of the cup itself. We were, after all, trying to be good Christians. I think we’re supposed to spread the Good Word and not the Bad Germs!)

After church and a sufficient amount of spiritual uplifting, we felt ready to tackle our “to-do” list. Our first stop did not result in our checking anything off the list because they didn’t have the item we were looking for. This is not happy news to a list-maker who enjoys nothing more than crossing things off her list! But, we gamely moved on.

Our next stop was at Staples and we weren’t successful there either, so we started getting a little discouraged. It’s not a good thing for a clerk to say, “Look on our website – maybe we sell it there.” I wanted to snap at the guy, “Listen, buddy-boy, if we’d wanted to buy it online, we could’ve stayed home in our flippin’ PJs and done so!” I also could’ve added, “By the way, that big red 'Easy' Button you guys advertise with? Um…not so much!”

But I didn’t say any of that. After all, I’d just finished adjusting my halo in the House of God. Yeah, right. Like not sneezing on a fellow parishioner is enough to earn a halo. Oh well. We will not be discussing the status of my soul today, okay?

Let’s just move on to the third stop on our list. It was, by the way, unscheduled. And it was pretty much the most successful of our stops. We found two items there that we’d figured we’d have to search for in two separate shops, so I happily crossed them both off my list. How sad is my life when I take such great pleasure in accomplishing so little?! Yet it was a beautiful sunny day, and we were happy to be out and about and not at home looking at each other in bleary misery.

We finally ended up at Costco, a store that is virtually impossible to leave without a substantially lighter wallet. At least we knew we were going to be hit in the pocketbook since we hadn’t been there in a while. I think it’s worse when you go in with three items on your list and walk out having spent the equivalent of a small car payment all the while shaking your head and wondering what the heck had just happened.

After our final stop at Walgreens to stock up on several cases of Day- and Ny-Quil, we headed home, exhausted but happy that we managed to accomplish most of the tasks on our list.

Once the perishables were unpacked, however, I was once again done in and once again collapsed on the couch. And that, pretty much, wrapped up our exciting weekend.

Tune in tomorrow when I discuss cleaning grout with a toothbrush…or perhaps the excitement of watching paint dry. (Sigh…I gotta get a life!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

"The Five Love Languages" By Dr. Gary Chapman

When we first started dating, Vince shared with me a book he’d read that has become one of his favorites. It’s called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Have you read it, by chance? I think it’s a really good book and I wanted to share some thoughts about it.

The premise of the book is that we all respond to love in different ways. Dr. Chapman, a marriage counselor for over 30 years, identified five ways we all express and receive love. In short, they are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.

They’re pretty self-explanatory, but what was telling to me is that people identify with the way they, personally, respond to one of these languages and, therefore, that’s the way they express their love to others.

So, for example, say your significant other’s love language is Receiving Gifts. He feels loved when you pick up a container of his favorite ice cream – so he figures that you will respond the same way when he sends you a bouquet of flowers while he’s out of town on business. It’s not that you don’t appreciate the flowers. But, say your love language is Quality Time. His being out of town for business may be unavoidable, but then when he returns home, he heads off to watch the ball game with his buddies. You really want to sit on the couch together and talk. Your Love Language of Quality Time is not being met, even though he thinks you should realize he loves you and, after all, he sent you those flowers…and do you realize they cost him 75 bucks??!

What if your love language is Words of Affirmation and his love language is Acts of Service? You tell him all the time that you love him. You go on and on about how much you appreciate his mowing the lawn or fixing the leaky faucet. He, on the other hand hardly ever says, “I love you.” He figures you should know that because he does mow the damn lawn and fix the friggin’ leaky faucet. Isn’t that love??

Well, yeah. It is. But you need to hear that he loves you. And he doesn’t necessarily need you to tell him that you love him – eventually he’s gonna start rolling his eyes. But it’d be nice if you sewed a button back on his dress shirt once in a while.

See? No wonder we screw up our love lives a lot.

The key is to figure out which Love Language your significant other responds most to – and then do that thing. Do it a lot. And, no, I’m not going to describe what you need to do if his Love Language is Physical Touch. I think you can figure it out. But, um, it can also mean he appreciates it when you reach for his hand or touch his arm when you’re out at a party to show him – and others – that you are with him…and that you love him.

Now, of course, there is the distinct possibility that you’re like me – and your Love Language is ALL FIVE Love Languages. Sheesh. Your significant other has his work cut out for him! Just ask Vince.

The poor guy cooks my breakfast for me every morning (even though he’d probably rather be sleeping), buys my favorite lemon cookies at the grocery store (even though he’s not crazy about lemon cookies), sits on the couch watching Desperate Housewives on TV with me (when he’d probably much rather be watching CNN), hugs me all the time (okay, he likes hugging me!) and tells me he loves me (got nothin’ – he really does love me…).

Yes, I do realize what a good guy I have and, no, you cannot have him!

Apparently Dr. Gary Chapman never met a Jane, huh? Nah, that’s not true. Actually, we all respond to all five Love Languages in some way or another. But there is usually a dominant one. They even have a test at the end of the book that allows you to figure out which one you respond to most.

Again, all five came up equally for me.

No, I kid. I’m just tryin’ to make sure I get all the love I can!

But, seriously, what I’ve learned from reading this book is that you cannot take love for granted. Like, I tell Vince a lot how much I appreciate his cooking breakfast for me. But, since Words of Affirmation is one of his predominant Love Languages, I need to remember that it’s important to continue telling him – that I can’t just assume he “knows.” It’s nice to hear, you know?

People tell us that we’re still in the “honeymoon phase” and that we’ll soon stop all this lovey-dovey nonsense. And, to those people, I make rude sounds with my mouth. No, really. I do! Vince and I have talked about how important it is not to take each other for granted. We know how easy that is to do. But we know we need to continue to tell each other how we feel and that we care about one another.

So…anyone out there been married for a long time? You rollin’ your eyes yet?!

Okay, so there may be days when you’re rushed and you really don’t feel like hugging your mate to satisfy his Physical Touch Love Language because, after all, the laundry needs to be done and there’s dinner to get on the table and you still need to put the damn groceries away before his friggin’ ice cream melts and…oops! Forgive me. I went off track there!

But we can take lessons from those people we know who have been married for decades. Like my parents, for example. Next month they’re going to celebrate their 58th year of wedded bliss. And, okay, so they snip at each other once in a while. Or mom snips and dad pretends he doesn’t hear her. Maybe some of that is inevitable. But they still hold hands when they go for a walk. And they still kiss each other each morning and each evening. And they do many little things for each other throughout the day to show their love for one another.

So I think we’ll take our lessons from them. Of course, for us to make it to 58 years of wedded bliss, Vince and I will have to live to be 108. Yikes. I think we’ll just take it one day at a time. Meanwhile, I just need to say to Vince publicly: “Thanks for breakfast this morning, honey. You take really good care of me. And I love you!”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Good Ol' Bad Ol' Days



We’ve been invited to a birthday party Saturday night for a friend celebrating one of those milestone birthdays ending in a zero. Her husband is planning the “penultimate” gathering for her and has suggested that everyone don their best 80’s gear – big hair, padded shoulders, acid-washed jeans, or parachute pants and head down to one of the bars in the Arena District to hear a local 80’s band.

My question is: how many of us still own parachute pants or clothing with football-sized shoulder pads or acid-washed jeans? If we answered "yes" to the above question, the next question surely must be: WHY? And, if so, do we really want to admit it by showing up at a bar wearing that stuff? I should think not.

First of all, there is the possibility that no one fits into those old clothes anymore. Can you imagine pulling on parachute pants and not having yards of extra material? Tight fitting parachute pants would be just sad. Not only that, but while dancing to 80’s music in such outfits might be fun, at our age, we’d be exhausted after the first break dance spin. We’d hobble off the dance floor clutching our aching backs and searching for a hit…off of an oxygen tank.

MC Hammer is the guy we most remember wearing parachute pants, though I do recall a good friend from college with a pair of blue and purple parachute pants that looked like two crayons got together and threw up. The reason I remember them is that they resurfaced at a Halloween party in recent years. I was shocked that he kept them. Mostly because it meant that when he folded up those pants sometime in 1989 or so, he consciously had to say to himself, “Hmmm…I should probably keep these.”

Do people in their 20s even know who MC Hammer is? Maybe they do because he did a Nationwide commercial during the Super Bowl a couple years ago wearing gold lamé parachute pants and dancing to “U Can’t Touch This” while his mansion and all his possessions get repossessed. It was pretty funny…and yet sad at the same time, because the guy really did make tons of money and then lost it all and had to file for bankruptcy. Apparently “U Can’t Touch This” wasn’t true as far as the IRS was concerned. Oh well, at least he got to keep the gold lamé parachute pants. After all, who’d even want ‘em?!

Anyway, at the very least, I’m thinking I could style my hair into big 80’s hair. All I need is hair spray. A can or two should do the trick. The only problem is that I don’t have a perm. Remember those? Hair that was totally frizzy unless you tamed it with hot rollers and lots of spray. The good news is that hair generally stayed in place and the curls didn’t dare fall out even while "dancing" (and I use that term loosely) to Devo or the B52s. The bad news is that many of us had fried, frizzy hair that slightly resembled the “gift” that the cat occasionally leaves on the carpet for us to clean up.

But still. It was “the look” back then. Does anyone remember using a hair dryer to blow back the sides and then spraying your hair in place? I remember learning that little trick from some 80’s movie probably starring Molly Ringwald and thinking it was pretty cool. Before that, I tried using all manner of hair gel, mousse and other styling products to no avail – the hair on the sides of my head still drooped minutes after styling.

Seemed like everyone – men and women alike – were working the mullet look. And, as most of us know by now, with the possible exception of certain Walmart shoppers, the mullet is not a good look.

For some reason, 80’s style meant – for me, anyway – excessive use of black eyeliner. I look back at some of my photos from that era and am in shock and awe at how much eyeliner I used. That and purple eye shadow. With sparkles. What was I thinking? Thank goodness I was young. If I tried doing that now, I’d just look scary. Probably I could even make little children cry.

I have an excuse, though. We copied images we saw in the media and on MTV. Melanie Griffith from “Working Girl” immediately springs to mind. And I figure that at least I didn’t wear as much eyeliner as Prince did in “Purple Rain.” It was a little disconcerting to see a man wearing that much makeup, though I grudgingly admit that I admired his high heeled pointy toed boots.

Oh yeah, and I have two more words for you: Twisted Sister. Remember Dee Snyder? No wonder 80’s fashion included frizzy hair, gaudy clothes and bad makeup!

So, anyway, it remains to be seen who will show up at this birthday gathering and who will be brave enough to dip their toes again in the 80’s fashion waters. I, for one, am on the fence about it. I mean, I’m just not sure I can pull off a jacket with shoulders big enough in which to smuggle several small illegal aliens. Who, upon release, would probably take one look at the parachute pants and mullets – and wonder how they ended up at Walmart.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Random Thoughts

If you read my blog semi-regularly, you’re probably aware (maybe even painfully so) that I’ve been a little under the weather for the past week. I’m a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, sleep-deprived mess, and now my little ol’ brain is feelin’ a little fuzzy. Must be all the cough-and-cold medicine I’ve taken that’s wreaking havoc on my thought processes.

Anyway, what this means is that I’m all out of creativity. Got nothin’. Nor do I have any new funny stories to relate as I’ve done very little in the past week besides sleep, eat, work, cough, and wave at Vince from across the room as I try to stay far enough away from him so he doesn’t catch my bug.

So in lieu of an actual blog today with complete sentences and paragraphs, I thought I would share Random Thoughts that are running through my brain today. Read at your own risk. And please do NOT try to commit me – I’ve got enough problems…

1. I’m having a bad hair day. A really bad hair day. It looks like I slept on it while still damp (true) and then curled it this morning without the benefit of eyeglasses (also true). Probably I should’ve just left it dirty. Live and learn, huh?
2. My hair is now in a ponytail. Problem solved.
3. I wish I could communicate with Vince telepathically. If I could, I’d tell him: “Go to the drug store and buy some ZiCam® Rapidmelts. Can’t hurt…and you do NOT want this crud!”
4. I have to call my mother on the way home from work. She has called the past two days to check on me. (Awww…) Nice to know a Mommy is still a Mommy who cares about you no matter how old you are!
5. I came in late today because I was up half the night. Told my boss I’d work through lunch. He said okay, probably because it was preferable to me calling in sick altogether. Door-to-door it took only 20 minutes. Definite plus.
6. Just heard “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris, which is a very catchy tune…but I hate the words. Kind of full of himself, isn’t he? Being up-front about how he’s only gonna break your heart in little bitty pieces? Wouldn’t it be nice if people like that never found anyone to date? Would serve ‘em right.
7. People call me all the time to ask me to spell words or help them with grammar. But I was stumped yesterday with that whole personal pronoun thing. So…someone help me out here. Do you say, “Will you have time this week to meet with Vince and I”? Or, “Will you have time this week to meet with Vince and me”?
8. I think it’s “me” – but I would like to have that question answered once and for all.
9. I swear, I must have been sick when they went over that rule in grade school and it has tormented me ever since.
10. I wonder if bad guys who are featured on shows like “Cops” brag to their friends and tell them to watch their episode. Can you imagine that conversation?
Bad guy: “Dude! Did’ja see me?”
Bad guy’s friend: “Yeah, man. You looked real good on TV. Way to rock the wife beater T-shirt. And you almost got away
from that cop. It was awesome!”
Bad guy: “Thanks, man. It was kind of embarrassing that I was in my underwear on TV, but WTF.”
Bad guy’s friend: “Soooo…how’s prison?”
11. Maybe they should stop trying to find a cure for the common cold and, instead, work on making germs visible to the naked eye. If they showed up as, say, neon green, we’d simply be able to stay away from them and never catch another cold. That’d be cool, huh?
12. On the other hand, maybe we’d be so grossed out by how many germs there are out there in the world, we’d go crazy trying to avoid them and would end up curled up in a little ball in a corner of a little white padded room swatting at neon green germs. Hmmm…maybe that’s not such a good idea after all.
13. Working through my lunch break sucks.
14. Really should start purchasing lottery tickets on a more regular basis.
15. Wish we’d either stayed up on Saturday night to watch Betty White on SNL or DVRd it. Guess I’ll have to make do with the clips I’ve seen. But, hey, we should all be as successful in our 88th year. Way to go, Betty!
16. Note to self: don’t forget to buy toothpaste, light bulbs, lettuce, chicken, garlic and onions. Make that an extra-large tube of toothpaste. And maybe some mouthwash.
17. I hope we have leftovers tonight for dinner. I don’t feel like doing dishes.
18. I should be healthy. I mean, I’m working on my 6th bottle of water here. And, um, that reminds me…BRB…
19. My hair in a ponytail, by the way, does not absolve me from having a bad hair day. I just looked in the mirror. Damn.
20. I have weird random thoughts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Egg Sandwiches and The Morning Commute

Normally when there’s a little sprinkle of rain, I get annoyed with drivers who drive 5MPH on the freeway. I mean, is it really necessary to take an hour and a half to drive 17 miles when there’s nothing but a soft gentle rain falling? Today, however, the rain came down in more biblical-like proportions. So how fast were drivers driving? Oh, about 60 miles an hour. Who can figure out Columbus drivers? I kept up, but could barely see the road ahead of me as veritable sheets of rain pummeled my windshield. And the windshield wipers were on the fastest setting. Sheesh. I hardly ever use the wipers on the fastest setting.

Oh well. At least I got to work on time. I had left home a few minutes early, just in case I was dealing with the 5 MPH-ers. Leaving a few minutes early doesn’t mean I responsibly set the alarm earlier. That would’ve required me to plan ahead and pay attention to the weather report last night. And I’ve spent many a sleepless night fretting over the predicted blizzard or monsoon, only to awaken to find the sun shining and birds chirping.

No, I got up at the same time I get up every morning (which means somewhat late), raced downstairs, hugged and kissed Vince who, on the fly, hooked my lunch bag over one arm, pressed my travel coffee mug in one hand and handed me my breakfast sandwich and roll of paper towels (sometimes I’m messy) in the other. I already had my luggage-sized purse over my shoulder as I’m responsible for grabbing my own luggage-sized purses.

My husband takes wonderful care of me, doesn’t he?!

Eating breakfast in the car, however, is not necessarily a good thing to do, particularly if your car has bucket seats. I can’t tell you how many times my egg sandwich has landed upside down on the floor, rendering it inedible. I also don’t recommend eating egg sandwiches without a bib as it is possible to arrive at work with half said breakfast sandwich down the front of one’s shirt. Unless you happen to like that sort of look.

I’m not comfortable multi-tasking while driving, so I only take bites when I’m stopped at a traffic light. Depending on the mood of the traffic lights that day, I may either happily finish my entire breakfast, or may barely make a dent in it. And cold egg sandwiches are not particularly appetizing, so on those mornings, I end up pretty hungry by lunchtime.

Anyway, the point is, I’m a responsible driver. You may say that being a responsible driver means eating your breakfast sandwiches at home at the dining room table. With a cloth napkin in your lap to politely dab at your lips whenever an errant piece of egg threatens to mar one’s politeness. Okay, so you’ve got me there.

Have I mentioned before that I’m not a morning person?

On the other hand, if I had to put a number on it, I would have to say that we do eat breakfast at the dining room table about…(hmmm…carry the 1…grumble, grumble…where’s my calculator when I need it…?)…

90 percent of the time. That’s not a bad percentage, is it?

One of these years I might even manage to get up early enough on a daily basis to hit 100%. Wouldn’t that be nice? I could eat a leisurely breakfast, read the newspaper and maybe even balance my checkbook before calmly gathering my belongings and heading off for…

Yeah, you know when that’ll happen? No, I wasn’t actually thinking of things freezing over. I figure it’ll happen when I’m retired and don’t have to race off to work in the morning!

I give myself points for at least being dressed by the time I turn the ignition key. That’s not to say that I’ve never, say, applied lipstick on the drive to work, but, again, I usually wait for a red light. I don’t think anyone driving in the lane next to me is going to be impressed that my lipliner is saucily matching my lipstick on any particular day and I can wait to apply lip products once I arrive at my destination.

So imagine my surprise when I really did see a guy in the vehicle next to me with an electric shaver in one hand and the wheel in the other, which was also holding his cell phone. I thought that whole men shaving on their morning commute thing was a myth. But, no. I worried that he’d start dialing his cell phone, which pretty much meant he’d have to steer with his knees, so I quickly changed lanes to get far enough away from him that I wouldn’t be near any ensuing pile-up.

At least people shouldn’t be texting while driving around this city anymore what with the ban on texting while driving. Oh, I’m sure there will still be people trying to do it. But at least there is the possibility that they will be caught. And, for that, I’m grateful.

Just let me know if you hear of any plans in the works to ban eating egg sandwiches at red lights, will ya? I’ll need to practice setting my alarm earlier. And I may actually need to pay attention to the weather reports.

Dang. Being a responsible driver is a lot tougher than it looks!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Never-Ending Cough. Part II

I figured that my cold would have run its course by now, but I apparently have super duper germs that linger on for months. And, okay, so it hasn’t even been a week yet, but I’m tired of being sick and anything more than 24 hours is pressing the limit with me. I think that a cold should be history once an entire box of Kleenex has been used, but this apparently is one of those Old Wives Tales that isn’t true. And, yeah, it probably has even less validity since I just made it up. But, c’mon - gimme a break here!

I spent all day Saturday recuperating, which basically meant I never changed out of my PJs and I moved from the bed to the couch to the easy chair. All the while I was clutching my box of Kleenex and coughing and blowing my nose and probably driving Vince crazy. While I was downstairs, though, I managed to catch up on the last several episodes of Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy, which also probably drove Vince crazy as I’m sure he would have preferred watching golf. Thankfully, he was allowing me to play the sick card.

I think Vince was rewarding me for my efforts in allowing him to sleep at night in relative peace. You see, I took my germ-laden self into the guest room and shut the door where I could cough well into the wee hours of the morning and leave him to snooze without interruption.

But yesterday was Mother’s Day and Vince and I were invited to his dad’s house for dinner. Probably I shouldn’t have gone, but I didn’t want to be rude. On the other hand, coughing and hacking and blowing my nose for 4 hours straight was maybe even more rude. I thought that perhaps the Mucinex, cough medicine, Day-Quil or one of the other 15 cough and cold remedies I ingested might have taken care of the more obvious symptoms. Yeah, not so much.

I’m not sure, but I think I know what lepers used to feel like. Not one person hugged me, or came anywhere near me – can you believe that?! I even drove one person upstairs for the duration of my visit as she didn’t want to catch the germs I was surely infusing into the atmosphere. Before beating a hasty retreat back up the stairs, though, she kindly tossed me a bottle of Chloraseptic.

Maybe I should’ve stopped at the drugstore on the way there and purchased one of those face masks. That might’ve put people more at ease, though it surely would’ve made eating dinner a little more challenging.

You know very well that if anyone who was there catches a cold anytime in the next couple weeks, I will surely be blamed. Doesn’t matter if there was a germy exchange when they took the receipt from a sick cashier at Kroger or shook a cootified customer’s hand or a waiter inadvertently sneezed on their Kung Pao chicken before serving it…the resulting cold will be still be my fault.

So now I will be nervous for the next couple weeks and will be holding my breath whenever I ask the seemingly innocuous question, “How are you?”

Vince’s dad was determined to rid me of my cough. Fortunately for me, he stopped just short of duct taping my mouth shut. His first suggestion was eating a banana. He had some sort of scientific reasoning behind it, but I secretly suspected he just bought too many at the grocery store and wanted to use them up before they went bad.

Bananas, you should know, didn’t work on my cough.

His next solution was to hand me a steaming cup of tea with magical herbs. I’m not a tea drinker and never have been, but I gamely drank it down in hopes that it might succeed where an entire bottle of cough syrup had failed.

Nope. I continued to cough miserably.

Finally, Vince and I decided I’d germinated the house sufficiently, so we said our goodbyes. I offered to give hugs and kisses all around but, surprisingly, the predominant response was to hold up their hands in a defensive gesture and say, “No, thanks. We’re good.”

And I’m not sure I was meant to hear this, but as I was on my way out the door, I heard “Get the can of Lysol – hurry!”

Before heading to bed I filled up on mass quantities of over-the-counter drugs and cough medicines, crossed my fingers and settled down to sleep. But sure enough, I awakened myself at 4AM with a major coughing jag. I took sips of water, popped another cough drop and then gave up and went to the bathroom and shut the door and tried to cough myself out.

Eventually, I lay back down in bed…but the coughing immediately started up again. So I sighed, grabbed my permanently attached box of Kleenex, and headed to the guest room. I quietly closed the door and felt my way to the side of the bed in the dark. And, just as I reached out to touch the sheet to pull it back, a hand reached out and grabbed me!

The Kleenex box flew up into the air and I squeaked out a pathetic scream. Then I clutched at my wildly beating heart and tried to quiet my adrenaline-infused body. Vince calmly and reasonably said, “Where did you think I was?”

In a voice several octaves higher than normal, I said, “Oh, I don’t know – crazy guess – but I assumed you were in our bed! (It’s a king-sized bed and we could, theoretically, sleep far enough away from each other to not even realize the other person was in the same bed.)

Apparently, my coughing jag had begun an entire half hour earlier and it hadn’t woken me up, but it sure bothered Vince, so he’d moved to the guest room.

While scaring a person might work on hiccups, it doesn’t work so well on coughs. And if I hadn’t been in the midst of coughing and blowing my nose, the absurdity of the situation would have at least given me a bit of a chuckle.

This morning when I got to work, I learned that my boss was at home sick in bed all weekend with a cold. He never gets sick. And he assumes he caught the cold from his golf game early in the morning on Saturday when it was cold and rainy. I’m totally willing to let him work with that theory. I might be sick, but I’m not stupid!

Meanwhile, I just had a coughing fit that was so bad I couldn’t catch my breath and briefly considered calling in the paramedics. I’m not sure what they could’ve done to help me – pop an extra strength cough drop in my mouth?

Oh well, the good news is that I’m sure this cold will disappear eventually. Hopefully in the next millennium. The bad news? Vince is now complaining about a scratchy throat. Uh oh.

Guess it’ll be his turn to sleep in the guest room. Unless I sneak in there first and give him a scare! (Hmmm…I’m kinda likin’ that idea…)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, as everyone in the free world knows, is Mother’s Day. A designated day that I have never personally had the opportunity to celebrate, but I celebrate my own mom – as well as all the other mothers I know. And I know a lot of mothers! And stepmothers. And wannabe mothers. And mothering types. Hmmm…do “Favorite Aunts” count?! They should. (“Hey, Chloe…where’s my card?!”)

But I digress, which is certainly not surprising coming from me...

Anyway, to all you mom types out there: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! You deserve an entire day for your offspring to honor you. A day? Heck, you deserve an entire…week. Maybe even a month! Okay, so you really deserve to be honored every single day of the year. Except maybe on the days when you have absolutely no patience and you yell at your kid because she left a red crayon in her pocket and you washed and dried it with the load of whites, which left permanent pinkish-red splotches all over your husband’s snow-white t-shirts.

That wasn’t a day to honor you. Or maybe it really was. Moms put up with a lot, don’t they?

My mom sure did. Probably she still does, but we’re no longer within swatting range, so it’s harder to tell. I grew up in the day when we weren’t allowed to talk back to our parents and Mom sure didn’t allow that sort of behavior. So when she’d say, “I don’t want to hear it!” and then in the next breath would say, “Answer me when I ask you a question!” we’d stand there in utter confusion and wish we could possibly blink like “I Dream of Jeanie” and find ourselves on a sandy beach somewhere else – anywhere else but standing in front of mom.

Fortunately, those days didn’t happen often and I was pure joy to have as a kid. Mom sailed through Motherhood with me as a kid. Really. She did! Okay, so I lie. Pretty much all I have to say is “teenage girl” and you know that’s not true.

Because I wasn’t allowed to talk back to my parents, my modus operandi was to go “silent.” And I was gooood at it. I could go silent for days. I thought it was kind of cool, but it didn’t sound quite as cool when my parents would tell people (years later, of course), that “Jane pouted.” Pouting doesn’t sound cool.

My sister used to get mad and would scrunch up her face in a major frown (in case we couldn’t tell she was mad) and then would cross her little arms across her little chest and stomp up the stairs. They were carpeted and she probably didn’t get quite the noise effect she wanted, but for a little kid, she was somehow able to make an impressive amount of noise stomping up those carpeted steps. Mom said she did the exact same thing when she was a kid, so my sister’s behavior always made her secretly smile. Mom, of course, didn’t allow any of us to see her reaction. But I guess it’s true when they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?

Somehow we made it through our growing up years intact, due in major part to Mom. She made sure we ate our fruits and vegetables. Fruit wasn’t usually the problem. Vegetables, on the other hand…well, that was a different story.

“Have a taste of peas,” Mom would say, “you might like them!” And then she’d dump an entire tablespoonful onto our plates. A tablespoonful! That’s like…30 peas! So we quickly learned to serve ourselves and would select approximately 4 peas and put them on our plates and hope she didn’t notice. If she did, she would add about 3,000 more. We then had to learn what portion would seem reasonable to her. If she started eyeing my plate, I’d become a narc and would direct her attention to my younger brother’s plate. “But Moooom…Andrew only has 4 peas on HIS plate…!”

No, it’s not behavior I’m proud of. But it was survival of the fittest where peas were concerned.

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate my mother even more. It’s remarkable how our memories can differ. Of course, that’s due to perspective. Mom likes to tell the story when I was a senior in high school and a group of my friends planned a trip to Florida for Spring Break. Mom says I got very angry when they wouldn’t allow me to go. That I didn’t speak to them for a week. And, honestly? I have absolutely no recollection of that incident! My guess is that my anger was probably mostly for show because I’m sure I knew that my parents wouldn’t allow me – their 17-year-old sweet and innocent daughter – to go off to Florida on her own with other 17- and 18-year-old girls. Apparently our budget hadn’t allowed for the provision of a phalanx of armed guards, though I doubt even that provision would’ve swayed Mom.

The incident I remember, however, was the night I planned to go to the drive-in movies with my friends. A group of girls would go in one car and a group of boys would go in another and we’d all hang out together at the drive-in movie theater. As you can imagine, the title of the movie wasn’t all that important. And before you get any ideas, people, it was all innocent fun.

But when my friends came to pick me up and Mom asked someone what movie we were going to see (something I’m not sure I even knew), one of my friends answered honestly, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” And that was the end of my evening. Mom refused to let me go – and no amount of pouting was going to change her mind. Oh, was I MAD. There were few times Mom put her foot down and forbade me to go out with my friends, so this was an incident imprinted on my brain forevermore.

Mom, as you might imagine, has absolutely no recollection of that incident.

So, as I said, perspectives are truly different. Mom was trying to keep me safe until I was 18 and she could boot me out of the house to the relative safety of Ohio State. Hahahaha! Oh, I’m funny! Like there were no pitfalls about going off to college! Have you ever heard of “Harry Buffalo” parties? It’s a Kool-Aid sort of drink made with alcohol-soaked fruit and grain alcohol. Grain alcohol!

My parents, however, figured they raised a kid with a sensible head on her shoulders and she would avoid anything containing grain alcohol. “But, Moooom – ‘Harry Buffalo’ has fruit in it!”

I don’t know if kids at Ohio State still have Harry Buffalo parties today. Maybe they’ve moved on to something more hard-core, though what alcohol is more hard-core than grain alcohol, I don’t know. Maybe they focus solely on their studies and don’t even drink anymore. And maybe I’m living in some weird alternate universe, too. The point is, parents in general and moms in particular are trying their level best to raise their children to be successful, popular, beautiful, rich adults with no ego problems and who never blame any of their problems on their mothers. And who can one day take care of their elderly parents.

Okay, so I’m joking. Sort of.

People who no longer have their moms around truly miss them. I know that Vince does – he thinks about his mom every day. And my cousin Mary Lou once told me, “I miss my mother every single day and wish she were still here with us so I could talk to her.” That impressed upon me the notion that time is fleeting – and there may not be a tomorrow.

We all lead busy lives and sometimes think we’ll call Mom “tomorrow.” Or we’ll return Mom’s call “tomorrow.” Or will take the time to visit Mom “tomorrow.” Without getting all preachy, I think we need to remember that sometimes “tomorrow” might be too late.

I know I’m not a perfect daughter, but I do try to heed others’ advice and I call my mom frequently. I know that I appreciate her every single day. I am so grateful that she is alive and healthy and well – and she is there on the other end of the phone whenever I call. I pray that she will stay that way for a long time to come and I thank God every day for her. She is a remarkable woman. And I love her very much.

So to all you moms and mom-types out there, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days. Even if they don’t tell you, I hope you know how much your kids love you. And to my own mom I say, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you! And…I’m thinking of renting ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ tonight. Missed it the first time around…”

(Just kiddin’!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Birthday Wishes the Easy Way

My sister’s birthday is in two days and, unfortunately, her card is going to be late. I’m not usually late with things like birthday cards, unless the birthday falls during the first week of the month. What happens is I flip the calendar to the current month, usually sometime around the 6th, and realize how many birthdays I’ve missed between the first and the sixth. Oops.

Clearly, I’m not as organized as I used to be. I used to have an entire system built around birthdays where I had several alarms alert me at appropriate intervals prior to said birthday that gave me plenty of time to buy the card, purchase stamps, type a long letter to enclose in the card, sign the card, and then finally mail the card and letter, which would arrive either the day before or the day of said birthday.

These days I’m more likely to send an e-mail birthday greeting. If I’m really truly inspired I might even send an e-card, but those require extra steps – and I suspect that some recipients don’t even bother opening the attachment. Nevertheless, I seem to have joined the ranks of the lazy (or the enlightened, depending on your viewpoint) where e-mails suffice for all sorts of greetings. I take some comfort in the knowledge that I haven’t yet resorted to e-mail wedding wishes, condolences or thank you’s (for big stuff, anyway).

I have this weird knack of remembering people’s birthdays. My best friend’s birthday from first grade? July 8th. A coworker’s birthday from a summer job I had in college? November 30th. The kid I babysat when I was 12? February 11th. I could, of course, be totally making up those dates and you wouldn’t know the difference. But they’re all true – really.

The only problem with remembering birthdays is that there are a whole lot more people who have come into my life through all these years and my little brain is getting full up. I suspect I’m gonna have to start dumping some of the old birthdays to make room for some of the newer ones. After all, do I really need to remember the birthday of the guy who sold me my first new car? (June 1st.)

Like many old(er) people, though, my long term memory is more reliable than my short term memory and I can’t seem to remember birthdays of newer folks in my life (like, say, the people I’ve met in the last 5-10 years). I have to rely on careful recordkeeping and an accurate calendar for that. And, again, woe to anyone whose birthday falls anytime during the first week of the month.

Obviously, I don’t send birthday cards to everyone I know or have ever known. Can you imagine the expense? I, for one, don’t own stock in Hallmark. But even worse – can you imagine the reaction of the coworker from my summer job during college upon receiving a card from me? The word “stalking” might possibly enter his mind and he’d ponder the necessity of taking out a restraining order. Not the sort of reaction I would have been going for by sending a card featuring happy birthday-singing kittens!

So, instead, I merely send birthday wishes through the cosmos to anyone who might potentially involve the legal system. I figure it’s much safer this way. I can only imagine standing before a judge and pleading, “…but they were only singing kittens, Your Honor!”

Now, of course, there’s Facebook. Birthdays are announced in the little box on the lower right side of the home page. Plus, I even get a weekly e-mail alerting me to all the upcoming birthdays. Pretty convenient, eh? This should be a relatively failsafe method of wishing those folks celebrating birthdays anytime during the first week of the month, but I have a tendency to hit the “delete” button a little too quickly as I don’t like a lot of e-mails in my in-box at any one time.

I wonder how many people actually appreciate receiving all those “happy birthday” posts on their wall in the days surrounding their birthday? Maybe not so much if they’re trying to forget the number of birthdays they’ve actually celebrated. Personally, I like having my birthday acknowledged. I mean, yeah, I’m pretty shocked at how old I’m getting to be, but as the saying goes, it’s better than the alternative!

I believe there’s a moment in everyone’s life when they briefly catch their reflection in a mirror and wonder who that middle-aged person is. Yep, it’s happened to me. I don’t like it much, but don’t think I can do much about it. So I’ll just be the old lady who remembers birthdays and sends happy birthday-singing kitten cards. Only don’t expect them on time anymore. I mean, there’s only so much I can do with my little full-up brain and my unreliable short term memory.

Oh, and by the way, Happy Birthday Denise! (Now, if I can just get you to read one of my blogs. If you did, you’d see that your card is gonna be late.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sore Throats and Phlegm. (With that for a Title, You’re Anxious to Read More, Aren’t Ya?!)

So my intention was to write about our wonderful few days away, but I’m back at work already and dealing with a sore throat and phlegm. Lots of phlegm. Sorry to be gross, but I feel like crap, so I thought I’d spread the wealth. Not literally, of course, as I politely cover my mouth whenever I start hacking up a lung. After all, Mom did teach me a manner or two. But if I’m miserable, it seems only fair to make others miserable as well.

What’s that? It doesn’t? Shocking. And all along I thought it was in the Constitution or something: “If Jane is miserable, then everybody’s miserable.” Hmm…now that I think about it, perhaps it’s an Amendment since technically I wasn’t born when our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and they couldn’t possibly have anticipated the world revolving around me. They should have, of course, but I won’t quibble. Everyone makes mistakes.

I’m joking, of course. The world doesn’t really revolve around me (except perhaps in my own mind).

But my big question for today is: why is it that whenever I board a plane to go anywhere – whether it’s for a couple days or a couple weeks – I come back with a sore throat and/or the cold from hell??

A few years ago the airplane-and-subsequent-cold connection occurred to me, so I started taking Airborne® before, during and after the flight. I figure if a second grade school teacher developed it and it has “17 vitamins and nutrients!” then surely it should obliterate any nasty cold germs trying to settle into my sinuses and chest cavity. Besides, there are several exclamation points on the packaging and if they feel strongly enough about their product to include exclamation points, then who am I to argue?

Sadly, those 17 vitamins and nutrients weren’t enough to combat whatever germs I’m dealing with now. Maybe they missed something important, which would’ve handled the problem altogether and I would be phlegm-free as I write. Probably they should work on their formulation a little more and come up with an 18th ingredient.

Vince’s uncle suggested I try an old family cure of gargling and then drinking some apple cider vinegar. I looked at him in absolute horror. I mean, the closest I come to ingesting apple cider vinegar is when it’s mixed with oil and tossed in a nice Asian coleslaw with plenty of crunchy sautéed slivered almonds. I’m about as likely to drink it straight from the bottle as I would be to do a shot of tequila. And, believe me, my tequila shooter days are long over.

Now, however, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have given it a try. It couldn’t be much worse than how I’m feeling right now, could it? On the other hand, projectile vomiting all over someone’s expensive marble floor and granite countertops could have been a wee bit embarrassing. Not to mention that projectile vomiting anywhere in your host’s home will result in an immediate withdrawal of any future invitations.

So now I’m back at work. And, unfortunately, I couldn’t call in sick as I’m extremely valuable to my employer and there were many, many tasks that could not be delayed a second longer and could only be handled by someone as highly skilled as I am. This is basically code for “We didn’t want to do any of your work, so we left it all for you.” Nice, huh?

I just have to keep repeating to myself, “Job security…job security…job security…” And, no, clearly I do not work for the government. If I did, calling off sick the first day back after vacation wouldn’t have been a problem. Or at least it hasn’t been a problem in the past whenever one of my government-employed friends has called off sick following some fabulous vacation.

I used to marvel when someone I knew had surgery to repair an ingrown toenail or something and would be off work no less than 3 months and, before returning from their sick leave, would also take their originally scheduled annual 2 week vacation.

How do I get a job like that?!

The answer is I don’t. Those kinds of jobs have always eluded me, probably because I grew up back in the day when we had to be “responsible.” We weren’t allowed to take a sick day for a mere sniffle. Pretty much the only acceptable excuses for getting out of school when I was a kid were extreme swelling of limbs that required a visit to the ER or fevers in the triple digits. And, believe me, I couldn’t get away with faking any symptoms with an RN for a mother.

Oh well. There was one consolation to working today. If I’d taken the day off, I’d have been forced to look at the dust bunnies that accumulated during our absence and the loads of laundry that need to be done and the toilets that need to be scrubbed. Oh, I would’ve ignored them all, of course, but I would’ve been forced to look at them just the same.

Maybe on the way home I should swing by the grocery store and pick up a bottle of apple cider vinegar. Or...maybe I’ll just stop at a bar somewhere for a tequila shooter. It is, after all, Cinco de Mayo and it may be the perfect day to test the tequila shooter waters again.

Yeah, and with those as my options, I’ll do my best to refrain from reporting what happens after ingestion.

Excuse me. I believe it’s time to hack up my other lung now…