Monday, August 30, 2010

Five-Thirty in the Morning

I cannot believe the weekend is over already! Wasn’t it just Friday afternoon and we had the whole weekend ahead of us??

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail the other day and said that, statistically speaking, time does in fact move faster the older one gets. But please don’t ask me to explain her theory because once I read the word “statistics” my eyes glazed over and I started to get heart palpitations – so the message never really penetrated my brain.

Anyway, it’s Monday and I’m a little bleary-eyed and yawning…but I arrived at the office on time this morning. This is actually quite a feat as I was contemplating getting dressed and applying a little makeup right about the time I usually walk out the door.

Sadly, by the time I’d woken up, I’d already failed at something. I was planning to wake up at 5:30 and go to the gym. But when the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning I didn’t even consider getting out of bed. I simply changed the wake-up time to 7AM and promptly fell back asleep.

Where’s the energy? Where’s the commitment?

Oh, I don’t know. But perhaps I shouldn’t have stayed up past midnight reading. Yeah, that was probably a contributing factor. But I’m in the middle of the third book in the Stieg Larsson’s series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Instead of making me sleepy, reading books energizes me and I have a hard time stopping. I’ll tell myself, just one more chapter…and then two hours later, I’m still at it. In the past I’ve been known to stay up all night to finish a book because I was so engrossed.

So, who am I trying to kid? Clearly, I had no intention of getting up at 5:30 this morning to go to the gym. If I had, I would have put the book down in order to get the proper amount of rest. Plus, I also would’ve packed my gym bag last night.

Sounds simple, but packing a gym bag at 5:30 in the morning would be more than I could handle. I’m not awake at that time. Probably I would’ve forgotten something crucial. Like pants. Think how embarrassing it would be showing up at work with a soggy towel wrapped around my waist.

One time – in my former single days when I did somehow manage to get up on a fairly regular basis to work out in the morning – I packed my gym bag in a hurry and I ended up literally with two left shoes. Another time, I forgot my hair dryer and showed up at work with dripping hair. In the middle of winter.

So being of sound mind is important when packing my gym bag for a morning workout in which showering and changing into work clothes is part of the plan.

Some might say I’m never of “sound mind” – and, haha – aren’t you funny! But, seriously, my mind functions just fine. Just not at 5:30 in the morning.

But as Scarlett O’Hara once said, “…tomorrow is another day!” and I will have another opportunity to get up, get dressed and get to the gym. So probably I should head straight home from work, pack my gym bag and plan to get to bed early.

If I could only answer a crucial question: why in the world did I decide that working out at 5:30 in the morning was a good idea?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cup O’ Sludge?

I woke up this morning wishing it were Saturday so I could sleep until noon. No such luck as it’s only Wednesday. I’m so sleepy I’m doing that head bobbing thing and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open, but they keep threatening to slide shut on me. The only thing saving me is knowing how much it would hurt if I gave in to sleep causing my head to smack onto the desk. Plus, I’d wake up with a keyboard imprint on my forehead and that’s really not a good look.

See, Vince just started a new job today and had to be up way early. Before dawn’s early light even. I think he got up just about the time I used to go to bed in my former night-owl life, or at least it seems that way. And neither of us slept very well last night.

I can’t even imagine how sleepy Vince is, but he’s probably focusing on the task at hand and will deal with it later. Probably with a nice long nap in his recliner, but that’s just a guess.

I’m happy he has a new job, but I’m selfishly thinking about how my life is changing.

I’ve mentioned before how Vince made breakfast for me every morning and brought me a cup of coffee while I was getting ready for work. He’d pack the lunch that we’d prepared the evening before into my insulated lunch bag and he’d place our morning vitamins by our plates along with a big glass of water so our bodies would be loaded up with every vitamin in the alphabet for the day.

Yeah, well, none of that is happening anymore. And I’m feeling a little sorry for myself.

It’s not like I didn’t take care of myself for years before Vince entered my life. I can certainly slap a slice of bread in the toaster and can probably even butter it without assistance. But I’m more likely to grab a breakfast bar to eat on the go. And while I can put my salad in a lunch bag all by myself, I’ll miss those little love notes he’d write on my napkin. On my own, daily vitamin-taking was hit or miss at best. And as for my actually cooking breakfast in a pan on the actual stove? Please.

So it was nice having someone take care of me for a little while.

But the worst thing is going to be fixing my own coffee. I’m no good at it. For decades I refused to drink the stuff because, to me, coffee tastes like sludge. Not that I specifically know what sludge tastes like – but let’s just say I wasn’t enjoying the flavor.

Instead, I was a Diet Coke Queen who started my day with a can. Or three. But then I started getting headaches in the morning and Vince convinced me to give coffee another try. He had to load it up with soy milk and hazelnut flavoring and top it off with a dollop of whipped cream, but I eventually I gave in. Grudgingly.

And then the headaches stopped. Even better, I discovered that coffee has more caffeine than soda, which – hey – keeps a body awake for most of the day! That was some happy news right there. And since I’ve been drinking coffee my head has never come close to smacking my desk. So I figured I was now a former Diet Coke Queen.

But when I try to fix my own cup of coffee, I invariably get the mixture wrong – too much flavoring or not enough soy milk. Sigh. Apparently I need a remedial coffee preparation course. Especially after this morning’s fiasco. The coffee was literally undrinkable. Thus, my sleepy state today.

There may be some positives coming out of this new schedule, though. I’m thinking of getting up earlier so I can head to the gym and get in a morning workout. That’s something I used to do in my former single life and I can probably do it again since no one will be at home anymore lovingly scrambling me an egg.

But I’m definitely gonna have to figure out the caffeine thing first. I read something recently about how apples actually work better at keeping a person awake than coffee (or Diet Coke).

Hmmm…I think I’ll head over to Kroger’s and stock up on some Red Delicious apples. And…maybe I’ll also pick up a 12-pack of Diet Coke. Just in case.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

100th Blog

Welcome to my 100th blog! Hey…where are the balloons and streamers? Where’s the cake? Where’s People magazine to commemorate the moment in photos? Oh yeah, that doesn’t happen in real life. Only in Hollywood. But wouldn’t it be nice if, like television shows that make it to 100 episodes, a producer gave me the keys to a snazzy convertible or took me on an all-expenses paid trip to someplace exotic like, say, Fiji?

Some dream, eh? But it’s not gonna happen since my blogs earn no money, unlike those television shows. Nor do I have a producer, for that matter.

Since I’m firmly rooted in reality, I will just have to console myself with the fact that since I’ve passed my 6th month of writing this blog, it has become a habit. Plus, I’ve made it to triple digits and I haven’t (a) been hit too hard with writer’s block, or (b) offended whole segments of readers. At least I don’t think I have.

This morning, however, I did receive my first negative comment (in written form, anyway). Someone wrote, “Wow. That’s a lot of writing for something so lame.”

Stab me in the heart next time, why don’t you?! But I guess if I put it out there, I have to realize that I’m not going to appeal to every reader. But, sheesh…why not just quietly move on? There’s a lot of stuff to see on the Internet. If someone accidentally stumbled upon my blog and thought that 847 words were too many to read, then there are lots of pictures they can look at to occupy their time.

Ooh. I guess the comment stung a little more than I realized and I’m slapping back. Oh well. I’ve always been a little too “thin-skinned” (as “they” say) and take criticism a little harder than my thicker-skinned brethren. I’ve tried to toughen up over the years, but haven’t been able to build up a whole lot of scar tissue.

Which is probably why I don’t write about too many controversial subjects. Well, that plus I’m not very controversial to begin with.

There is a blog I read regularly where the writer takes on all sorts of controversial subjects. The last one I read had to do with vegetarians and vegans. He was not especially complimentary toward those segments of the population. And, boy, did people respond. Some of his fans think everything he writes is hilarious, but many comments were negative and some folks said they were no longer going to read his blog. He seems to like controversy, though, and probably enjoyed the flurry of comments his blog inspired. If nothing else, it is certainly one way to know that people are reading his posts.

My guess is that when this guy was a kid, he welcomed any sort of attention and, if negative attention was all he could get, that’s what he’d take.

Not me. I was all Miss Manners and stuff. I was fairly quiet and shy and didn’t want to draw a whole lot of attention to myself. Mostly because my face would get all red if I had to stand in front of the classroom to recite anything. Yet I had a tiny spark of rebelliousness and I learned it was somewhat safe to make little “asides” or one-liners whenever someone in authority said something and it was a lighter moment. My comment would usually get a laugh, but – again – I wasn’t terribly controversial and most of the time I tried not to make fun of people.

One time, though, I inadvertently insulted a nun. She was one of my favorite nuns, too, so it was pretty horrible getting called out of class to get lectured by her. I don’t even remember what I said – but I vaguely recall hearing the words “dog breath” pop out of my mouth before I could stop myself. Oops. I quickly learned that you don’t mess with the nuns!

I also grew up in the long-gone era when kids were seen but not heard. Screaming fights and yelling, “I hate you!” to our parents? Puh-leaze. That just didn’t happen. Not that we might not have thought it on occasion…but we certainly never said the words out loud.

But that was then and this is now. I’m not nearly as shy and my face doesn’t turn red. Well not as often, anyway. That’s one of the reasons why I like writing so much. It’s a little more “anonymous.” If someone starts to read and the subject doesn’t appeal to them, they can simply stop reading and move on. It’s not like being, say, a comedian where the audience can yell “You suck!” before walking out of a show.

But I guess I will have to expect that, on occasion, someone will write “You suck!” I’ll just have to deal with it.

But I have to tell you, there were probably “lamer” blogs I’ve written than the one I got dissed on. Last night when I read it to Vince, we were laughing so hard I could barely get the words out. It was a great moment between the two of us – and that’s what counts.

So I’ll continue writing my blog. To those of you who haven’t yelled “You suck!” at me and have, instead, given me words of encouragement, I thank you. And I hope some of you are still reading 100 blogs from now.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Crinkly Face

The other day Vince made me a yogurt fruit smoothie for breakfast. I usually look forward to his smoothies because they’re tasty. And summer is the best time for them, too, because we usually have fresh strawberries and blueberries in the fridge. Blended together with a banana, some lowfat vanilla yogurt and ice and – voilà! – a cool, yummy breakfast.

Except that Vince likes to, um, experiment. My mom calls them his concoctions. He looks to see what’s in the fridge and then comes up with a meal based on those ingredients. Unlike me. No, when I cook, I have to haul out the Betty Crocker cookbook – and when I see that we don’t have any fresh cilantro – I slap the cookbook shut and then suggest it would be a very good idea to have dinner at The Olive Garden.

Fortunately, Vince has a much better success rate than I do – even with his concoctions. Most of the time.

So there I was on my way to work with my smoothie. I stopped at a red light and took a big slurp from the straw and…made a crinkly face. What WAS that in it? I couldn’t tell you immediately, but I knew it wasn’t just strawberries, blueberries, banana and yogurt.

Turns out it was cinnamon. Now, to me, cinnamon in very small doses is okay. I’ll take a cinnamon strudel any day. And I love cinnamon-scented candles or those plug-in scent thingies when a lovely cinnamon scent wafts throughout the house and reminds me of Christmas. But I don’t want to taste cinnamon in my fruit smoothie!

It was all I could do to get half of that drink down. We don’t like to waste food, but I’m okay with tossing out something that I am not enjoying, which is pretty much anything that causes me to make the Crinkly Face.

Often when I make the crinkly face, he responds with something that has begun echoing in my head. “But, Janie,” he’ll say. “It’s good for us.” Ugh! This phrase invariably makes me roll my eyes. But does it stop my husband? No sireebob!

The other morning I came downstairs to find Vince in the kitchen flipping a pancake. At first I thought he’d burned the thing, but then I looked in the mixing bowl – and the batter was also dark brown. Huh? I was wearing my crinkly face before I’d taken a single bite! I just looked at him, shook my head and said, “Dumped too much cinnamon in the bowl, huh?”

Now, if it had been me and I’d accidentally added more than the recipe called for, I would’ve immediately hauled the bowl over to the sink and poured out the excess. Not Vince. He just mixed it right on into the batter. This is partly due to the fact that he’s “experimenting” and partly due to the whole not wasting food thing. Either way, he’ll try to cover his mistake by saying, “But, Janie – it’s good for us!”

Yeah, right. Like I’m gonna fall for that. Again.

Personally, I think this cinnamon kick is his dad’s fault. A few months ago Vince was talking to his dad who said that cinnamon has some beneficial medicinal properties. Like lowering blood pressure or something like that. Well, that was all Vince needed to hear. Since then, he has tried to hide cinnamon in my coffee, in my pancakes – and now (evidently) in my fruit smoothies.

But it’s not only cinnamon. Yesterday at Costco he was examining a package of some weird looking food that, to me, looked like bird seed. I tried to hurry him along, “Hey look, honey – Pop Tarts!” But no go. He continued reading the ingredient label on this bird seed-looking food – and then (to my horror) dropped the package into our shopping cart!

Hey, our pantry is stocked with healthy stuff like brown rice and whole wheat pasta and flax cereal. That’s bad enough…but I’m putting my food down here. I am not eating bird seed!

The thing is he’s pretty good at tricking me. He’ll prepare a meal and, no matter how often I ask him what’s on my plate, he won’t answer until I tell him whether or not I like it. If I admit that it’s pretty good, he’ll triumphantly inform me that it was the very food I’d protested or said I absolutely would not eat.

Probably he’s going to do that one day soon with the bird seed. Drat…foiled again!

Oh well. I have to admit – eating whole grain bread or wheat pasta is way better than the carb-laden white stuff. And I appreciate his efforts at finding healthier alternatives for us so that we won’t feel quite as guilty on those nights when we scarf down barbecue wings.

But I can only hope that the next time I slurp on my fruit smoothie, I won’t hear the words, “But Janie…it’s good…” comin’ out of Vince’s mouth. I also hope there won’t be any cinnamon in it so the appearance of the Crinkly Face will not be required!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vince and the Crab Legs Story

So yesterday I tried to explain the vast differences between the male and female of our species. How’d I do in the 786 words I was able to cram into that blog? No, I didn’t think I fully explored the subject, either. But, uh, if you really want to learn more, might I suggest you check out I am but a single (married) woman here. I cannot do it alone.

Vince read my blog and posted a comment, which was: “Will you crack my crab legs for me and serve them to me in hot butter?” My response? “Um. No. Wait – let me think about that for a sec…Um. NOOOO!”

Such a loving couple, aren’t we?

Ah, but I am now forced to reveal the story behind his comment.

See, when Vince and I first met, we were pretty much joined at the hip from the get-go. He quickly met my friends and I quickly met his, including his buddy, John. Now, John and Vince were cohorts in crime. And in the “Olden Days” which is also known as the Pre-Jane Era, they were both single men enjoying life and spending their free time carousing, drinking beer, hanging by the pool and meeting women, some of whom wore skimpy bathing suits.

Or so I’m told. And, okay, perhaps I am exaggerating just a tad. (I figured I’d give their male egos a little boost.) Nevertheless, they were single men and were doing the same things that a gazillion other single men spend their time doing.

John, being a store manager for a local food chain that rhymes with “Floger,” frequently alerted Vince whenever Floger’s had some great sales on meat-type products. You know – manly-men food. As both John and Vince are veritable Grill Masters, they frequently hosted cookouts and gathered a bunch of friends and girls in skimpy bathing suits to eat, drink and be merry.

One time, to hear them tell the story, they cleaned out Kroger’s – oops! – I mean Floger’s seafood department and bought up all the crab legs in the store. And then they had a crab leg feast! It apparently rivaled anything Red Lobster or Joe’s Crab Shak could ever possibly hope to offer.

Vince, ever the shy one, had a female sitting on either side of him during this dinner. And the women cracked all the crab legs for him and dunked them in butter for him and all but fed them to him.

Can you imagine??!

John was apparently impressed by this duo act of servitude and decided to test my “allegiance” to the guy who would turn out to be my future husband.

He brought home a platoon of crab legs (a school? A pod?) Whatever. He bought a mess of crab legs home and cooked them. And then waited to see if I would crack them for Vince and lovingly place them in the melted butter so he could feast to his little heart’s content.

Yeah, no…that didn’t happen. Believe me. Especially after they told me the story. I don’t do crab legs. And I would do them even less now – simply on principle.

So it has become somewhat of a joke among the three of us. What’s even more amusing to me is that John is now engaged and I cannot even imagine his fiancée spending time doing the same for John.

Don’t get me wrong. We love our guys…but we’re both pretty strong-willed women. We ain’t gonna do what we ain’t gonna do. Simple as that. Besides, no one ever mentioned “crab leg cracking” as a prerequisite to marriage. Or if it’s in the manual, I must’ve missed that page.

So, honey? You can buy all the crab legs you can find from Floger’s. Enjoy! I’ll get you a plate and a bucket. I might even melt the butter for you. But I won’t be crackin’ ‘em for you. And, no, I’m also not gonna hire a girl in a skimpy bathing suit to crack ‘em for you either. So sad.

But I still love you! And…by the way…what’s for dinner? (Correct response: “hamburgers.”)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jane Tries to Explain the Whole Mars Versus Venus Thing

The other day a friend started a conversation with me by stating, “You probably won’t understand this because you have Vince…” and then went on to tell me about her relationship problems with her man.

I barely heard the rest of her message because I was flabbergasted. (Flabbergasted: a really good word to describe those “Hunh?!” moments in life. I don’t think we use it enough.)

Anyway, I was so flabbergasted because I’d spent years – decades even – in relationships that weren’t right for me. I spent years – decades even – worrying about what my boyfriend du jour was thinking and analyzing every conversation and spending far too much time determining the nuances of a simple, “Sorry, I’ve been busy” comment.

Such a comment would launch a flurry of guesses about the meaning. I’d wonder, Did I talk too much the last time we were together? I probably did and didn’t spend enough time asking his opinion about stuff. Probably I should have asked him to explain the workings of the internal combustion engine to me just one more time…

Or I’d think, Is he upset with me because I burned the meatloaf the last time he came over for dinner and he doesn’t really like lima beans even though he said he did and…

Okay, the last thought wasn’t true. I don’t particularly care for lima beans myself and can positively state that I have never prepared them for anyone else.

But, still – you get my point. Sometimes the, “Sorry, I’ve been busy” comment is just that – a statement of fact. And if I’d stopped trying to overanalyze things I would have realized that he had, in fact, been working six days a week and was sometimes even working on the seventh day as well.

However, I have learned something in recent years from books like “He’s Just Not That Into You” (by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo). And that is: if a man really wanted to spend time with a woman he would make the time – no matter how busy he is.

Fortunately, I’ve also learned that lesson from Vince. Not only by what he says – but by how he acts. He wants to spend time with me, even when I’m not the most fun person to be around. He loves me and I know without a doubt that he does. I could give you a million reasons, but I don’t want to embarrass the man. Plus, I don’t want the cynics among you to (a) assure me that it won’t last, or (b) do that exaggerated eye roll thing or (c) make the finger-down-the-throat gagging motion.

I’ve lived long enough that I’m plenty cynical. But I’m also willing to take the gift of love I’ve been given with Vince and be grateful for it.

One of the best things about my relationship with Vince is that we talk. We’re talkin’ in the mornin’, we’re talking in the evenin’, we’re talkin’ all the live long day! We talk about mundane things like the state of our vegetable bin and the pros and cons of shopping at Costco versus Kroger (“Do we really need 10 lbs of carrots? I mean, really?!”)

But we also talk about thoughts and feelings. We talk when we’re happy and when we’re being silly as well as when we’re angry or upset. We don’t let things fester. I suppose we could be utterly annoying to those couples who don’t spend a lot of time talking. But, hey, it works for us! And if it doesn’t, well, we’ll probably talk about it and find out why.

We also resolve issues and don’t just talk about them ad nauseam without ever reaching a conclusion. So I don’t expect in five years to blow up over the fact that he didn’t refill the toilet paper holder for the 9,650th time. We try to pay attention to the things that bother one another. And we both know there’s no maid on the premises who will magically refill the toilet paper holder – so it is both our responsibilities.

So while it’s true that we haven’t even hit the one-year anniversary mark yet and I am hardly an expert on relationships, I do know that my relationship with Vince is different than it was with any previous boyfriend du jour. I know that things are just – I don’t know quite how to explain it – but they’re easier. If he were to say to me, “Sorry, I’ve been busy” I would know that he is merely stating a fact. And I wouldn’t try to overanalyze it.

Plus, Vince knows I don’t like lima beans…and he would never expect me to prepare them for him. No wonder I love the guy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Musings on the Road of Life (or at least on I-71N!)

I was driving home from the gym last night after a sweaty workout and was paying more attention to the aches and pains of various body parts than to my fellow drivers. Don’t get me wrong, I had my eyes firmly focused on the road ahead of me, but I wasn’t noticing each and every vehicle sharing the highway with me.

This is unlike my usual behavior where I often check out the vanity license plates and make up stories about the person. Some plates are so clever that I don’t make up stories about the person – I just admire their creativity. But others? Not so much.

Hey, I figure anyone who is vain enough to pay for and affix to their vehicle a license plate that reads “2HOT4U” deserves whatever fictional stories I can envision.

Like I picture the tan, blonde little chickie-doo with this particular vanity license plate a few decades down the road with skin all wrinkly so that the “cool” tattoos she had drilled into her skin at 20 have become unrecognizable. And I imagine that gravity has finally gotten the best of things and the fourteen holes she had pierced into her ears are causing her lobes to droop to her shoulders so that she vaguely resembles a beagle.

Is this mean of me? Eh. Maybe. Hey, I think it’s great when young people celebrate their youth. They should – because it doesn’t last as long as anyone thinks it will. I also say “to each his own” and if someone wants to cover themselves in tattoos and piercings, that’s their decision. But I also totally get that young folk do not think they will succumb to old age – ever. None of us do. But even when I was young, I was never vain enough to think I was “2HOT4U” even during the years I might have been somewhat lukewarm.

But, as I said, I wasn’t paying attention to vanity license plates. I was thinking, Oww…my knees are shot. I shouldn’t have set the speed on the treadmill at 1.2 MPH…that was wayyy too fast! And I was also thinking, I wonder how long it will take me to get buff arms using .5 lb weights?

I joke. Actually, the treadmill was set at a level that, while not fast enough to win me any speed records, was faster than, well, "not moving." And I’m not a total slouch with the weight machines either. Nevertheless, on the drive home I WAS thinkin’ about the stitch in my side and the ache in my shoulder.

Anyway, I was suddenly distracted from my thoughts when I noticed a motorcycle in the lane next to me. The rider had on a helmet, riding gloves and sturdy shoes. Not much of a distraction, right? But then I noticed the brown stretch pants. From there my eyes were drawn to the white lace blouse fluttering in the wind.


Most of the time when I see women on motorcycles, they are hanging on behind a male rider. So forgive my antiquated notions that only men drive the things. But the stretch pants sort of had me befuddled. I couldn’t come close to telling her true age as her black and red motorcycle helmet hid her face from view. But – and please forgive me – the arms holding onto to the handles were not young arms. They were sort of…um…flapping in the wind.

Not that I have room to talk. But my arms rarely see the light of day. And they are never attached to the handlebars of a motorcycle!

Sadly, my decided lack of knowledge of all things “motorcycle” prevent me from reporting on what sort of bike it was. Nor would I assume that she’s a member of Hell’s Angels or some other badass cycle group. She could be, I suppose, but I doubt even granny riders wear brown stretch pants and white lace blouses when they’re out on their “choppers.” (Do they even call motorcycles “choppers”? See? This is unknown territory for me!)

Nevertheless, I did sort of think it was cool that this (apparently) older woman was tooling down the freeway on her bike. To each his own – right? And, okay, so I did sort of wonder if she had any tattoos. And then I tried to imagine how many holes she had in her ears. And my final thought before I returned to my own little world of aches and pains was: Can you get vanity license plates for motorcycles? If so, hers might read: “HOTFLSHN”!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Egg and Cheese Sandwich Tragedy

So I woke up about 20 minutes late this morning, yet took my sweet ol’ time getting ready for work. Apparently I have an attitude today.

I was not interested in racing around the bedroom with eyelash curlers, hairbrushes and sandals flying around in the air in the vain hope that they would land on the appropriate body part for which they were intended. (Eyelash curlers provide very little arch support for one’s feet and hairbrushes are a little too big and bulky to adequately curl one’s eyelashes without causing grievous corneal abrasions.)

Nevertheless, I somehow managed to get downstairs (relatively) on schedule. Not that I had time, mind you, to sit down to a leisurely breakfast. Instead, I tossed back my morning vitamins while simultaneously cutting up some melon for my lunch and then hurling it into my lunch bag while Vince finished cooking my egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. He carefully scooped the egg and melted cheese out of the pan and carefully placed it atop the slice of sausage, which was atop a thin smear of sour cream, which was atop a “to-go” plate. (Vince makes great egg sandwiches!)

The two of us were like a smoothly choreographed machine as we worked together in our little kitchen to get me out the door (relatively) on time. He poured the coffee into the mug while I grabbed a paper towel to blot up any errant sliver of egg that might potentially land on my cheek whenever I was finally able to take a bite.

So in my arms I juggled my suitcase of a purse, insulated lunch bag, paper towel, thermos of coffee, the latest Janet Evanovich novel to read during lunchtime and the egg sandwich. I didn’t yet have my car keys in hand, but I knew they were somewhere in the deep recesses of my suitcase of a purse. Since I don’t lock my car door when it’s in the garage, I wasn’t overly concerned about not having my keys since I wouldn’t need them until after I’d seated myself and placed all my belongings on the passenger seat.

You know what’s coming…don’t you? Oh, yes. Disaster struck and I dropped the sandwich as I slid into the driver’s seat. Naturally, it couldn’t have been the book as that wouldn’t have caused sour cream and melted cheese to smear down the front of my shirt. Nor would it have been a great tragedy had the coffee mug dropped on my lap as it is hermetically sealed and nearly impossible to spill. (At least somebody was thinkin’ and knew enough not to trust me with an open container of coffee!)


Maybe this is an every day type of occurrence for some people, but I don’t generally spill food down the front of my shirt. Well, at least not until recently. Vince tells me it’s a family trait, which I sadly seem to be picking up. Woohoo! I’m in the family now!!

Not really how I wanted to become part of the group.

I can see the future now…and it looks like I’ll never be able to get rid of my suitcase-sized purse as I’ll have to begin hauling around Tide Stick, Wet-wipes and spare shirts in an effort to look presentable in public. I’ll have to avoid at all costs eating messy barbecue wings and ribs. Ice cream cones? A thing of the past since I’d most likely drop the scoop down the front of me before taking the first taste.

Soon my shirts may start to resemble a few of Vince’s shirts with their mystery stains down the front that don’t come out even after pre-treating with Shout. Which, by the way, we purchase by the gross instead of by the bottle. (Sorry to “out” you, honey. It’s sort of a Shout Out. Ha.)

Anyway, I’m thinkin’ that perhaps I should design some inexpensive shirt cover-ups with fancy designs and a handy pocket at the bottom for food to conveniently land. Oh yeah, it’s already been done. They’re called “bibs.”

At least a bib would have prevented the reaction I had this morning, which was to (a) swear loudly and with gusto before (b) breaking down in tears as (c) I couldn't think of a replacement outfit that I could quickly swap for my dirty clothing.

Vince helpfully ran out with paper towels to blot up the mess, but the task required more than mere “blotting.” However, by this point, I no longer stood a chance of getting to work “relatively” on time. So I told him I would try to take care of it at work and planned to button my jacket to hide the stain.

On the drive to work (once I wiped off the tears lest they plop on my shirt
and leave yet another mark), I debated whether or not to head to the store at lunchtime to pick up the aforementioned Tide Sticks and wet wipes. Either that – or I considered going shopping for a brand new outfit.

I discarded the idea because I figured there wasn't enough time in a single hour to adequately explore my angst and soothe it with subsequent retail therapy. After work, however...

Heyyyy….now there’s an idea….! A little retail therapy to get over the spilled egg and cheese sandwich tragedy. I like it! (And maybe I can stock up on spare outfits as they will clearly be needed from now on.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Penny Candy

So I was in the mood for something a little sweet the other day and, alas, we were fresh out of homemade melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies. Oh wait a minute – that wasn’t our home I’m thinkin’ of – that’d be Martha Stewart’s home. But, anyway, we didn’t even have a package of stale Chips Ahoy that I could nibble on.

So, instead, I turned to the little ceramic bowl on the counter filled with Ohio State Fair penny candy that cost us close to $10 bucks. “Penny” candy, my a--…um, you know.

Nevertheless, in that little ceramic bowl, amid the Red Hot Jawbreakers and Tootsie Rolls, was a sweet treat I haven’t enjoyed since I was a kid of around 10. And that delectable treat is: a Sugar Daddy sucker!

Oh wow. I never really noticed the name before. Or perhaps when a kid is 10-years-old, all the innuendos sail right on over their heads. Or at least they did back when I was 10. Nowadays might be a different story.

Anyway, I decided that, even though it wasn’t chocolate, I would try one. I fondly recalled the chewy caramel taste and eagerly unwrapped the bite size lollipop.

Before I go on, I should probably mention that there are several problems associated with childhood memories. Nothing is the same as it once was. First of all, I had problems unwrapping the sucker. Literally. The waxed paper was stuck to the candy, which, now that I think about it, probably happened when I was a kid because I sort of have this memory of spitting out wax paper. That’s kind of an icky memory.

And so there I was picking tiny bits of waxed paper from the caramel and getting tiny bits of caramel-coated wax paper stuck underneath my fingernails, which, you should know, is not a pleasant feeling.

Probably right around this point I should have switched my thought processes and considered eating an apple or drinking my 19th glass of water for the day to assuage my sweet tooth. But, nooooo. I kept right on picking at that Sugar Daddy wrapper.

Eventually I unwrapped it and discarded all the tiny bits of “stuff,” and then the second problem occurred to me even before the first taste. Caramel is deadly on dental work. As an adult, I know these things. What if chewing on this Sugar Daddy caused me to lose a filling? And then – because my fillings are so old – what if it caused me to break a tooth? Or – gasp! – what if I had to have a root canal?? (In my panicked little mind there is nothing worse than a root canal. Spoken by a person who has never had one, of course, and who doesn’t want to experience one anytime in the foreseeable future.)

Suddenly eating the Sugar Daddy didn’t have quite the appeal it had before I tried unwrapping it.

Geez-oh-man. Ten-year-olds never worry about this stuff. They just eat the candy. True enough, it might cause a cavity, which will require a filling and will then cause them to go through these mental gymnastics when they get to be my age. But there is no immediate connection to the cause-and-effect when you are ten.

So what did I do? I tried pulling a piece of it off the stick so I could slowly suck on it. (Oh, get your minds outta the gutter!) This was to save the fillings in my teeth, of course. However, as any 10-year-old knows, trying to pull a piece off a Sugar Daddy causes the thing to stretch like a rubberband. And, suddenly, the whole thing ripped away from the stick so that I was left holding a big stretched out wad of caramel that I had no idea what to do with.

I considered melting it and making a caramel apple out of it, but I think the same problem would arise with the threat to my fillings. The problem being of course, um, caramel.

So I carefully nibbled a bite out of the wad with my front teeth (my front teeth not currently filled with anything that would require refilling).

And you know what? I was not impressed.

Shocked, aren’t you?

It was too sweet and left a sugary aftertaste in my mouth that I had to remedy immediately by brushing my teeth. And flossing. And checking my fillings. And then scheduling my next dentist appointment.

Yeah, I sort of think there is a reason that we should not try to relive old childhood memories. They’re never the same. Grownup tastes change considerably from childhood tastes. All I need to say to prove it is give you the following quick list: Twinkies, Fruit Loops and Spaghetti-O’s.

‘Nuff said.

I guess the next time I have a hankerin’ for something sweet, Martha better hurry on over here with a batch of her freshly made melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies. And considering the likelihood of that happening is less than zero, I guess I’d better go with Plan B. Please excuse me while I run to Kroger to stock up on some Nestle Toll House break-n-bake chocolate chip cookie dough.

I think I’ve grown up enough not to try to eat the dough before it makes it to the oven.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ready…Set…GO! Oh, Wait...STOP!

This has been one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in quite a while. On Tuesday night Vince and I spent a pleasant evening visiting with some of his “long-time” friends. (This is, you know, a better way of saying it at our age than calling anyone “old” friends!) On Wednesday I met some of my former Ross coworkers for dinner and lots of laughs. And last night I had a girls’ night out that included a chick flick with a good friend I’ve known since we were 18 and freshmen together at Ohio State. And tomorrow evening we have invited another couple over to partake in some of Vince’s yummy barbecue ribs.

Oh, and tonight? Well, I’m so hoping that tonight is a stay-at-home-and-relax sort of evening. Guess I truly am getting old and can’t hack the constant on-the-go schedule I used to enjoy only a few short years ago.

My schedule used to be: Bowling on Mondays, Trivia on Tuesdays, dinner with one female friend or another on Wednesdays, Euchre on Thursdays and the inevitable parties and get-togethers that were scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays. Oh, and somewhere in there I fit in three workouts every week.

These days, just reading that schedule makes me tired!

When Vince and I first met he said he wondered how he could possibly fit into my busy social life. Ah, but he discounted true love. He and I started spending so much time together that my regularly scheduled activities started lessening – but so slowly I barely noticed. It certainly wasn’t due to Vince because he was more than willing to join in on most of these gatherings.

Well, except maybe for the “girls’ night out” thing. He was sort of barred from those as he possessed a decided lack of estrogen. I’m sure he wasn’t heartbroken about missing the chick flicks we were intent upon seeing anyway!

The first change to the schedule was that I started missing Trivia at BW3s with the Trivia Gang. At first it was an occasional miss here and there if I needed to catch up on my sleep because I’d had a particularly hectic schedule the weekend before.

But then I noticed it was getting harder to play Trivia because I couldn’t really see the TV monitors as clearly when I wore my glasses (yeah, the whole 20/20 vision correction thing is sort of a joke for me…). And if I wore contacts, I couldn’t see my player box very clearly because my contacts didn’t have the evil-but-necessary bifocal correction.

Oh, and let’s throw in “half deaf” too, just for fun! I couldn’t hear the answers called out by members of our group unless the “smart one” happened to be sitting to my right. It was frustrating scoring thousands of points less than my cohorts when we were playing the same game! (Not that I’m competitive or anything!)

Eventually, I stopped attending entirely. Were I to show up now, the gang would probably fall off their stools in shock. I do sometimes miss those evenings, however. Does the gang miss me? Oh sure, I suppose whenever the odd “TV/Movie” or “Best-selling Novel” question arises, but on the whole I think they’re probably managing to figure out most of the answers just fine without my added, uh, expertise.

The next scheduling change was Monday night bowling. I’d been on a league that didn’t even start until 9:30 at night – so I didn’t get home until nearly midnight. Being an affirmed night owl this late schedule didn’t particularly bother me. And then suddenly it did. So, after I sadly turned in my membership card to the International Night Owl organization, I opted out of my late night bowling league and switched to a more reasonable Sunday bowling league that was finished by 9PM.

And then Euchre went by the wayside. Started out as “I’m just taking a break this session” but I’ve never re-upped for the next session. That was over a year ago.

Sigh. What has happened to me?!

When I was single, I used to wonder how my married friends could be so busy that they couldn’t get together for one measly dinner with me every coupla months…but I have to admit that, well, now I sort of understand it a little better. It’s not that Vince and I jam-pack our evenings with all sorts of busy activities, but it is nice to be able to spend quiet evenings at home having dinner together and talking about our day. Guess that makes me an old married lady now?

Oh well. I don’t really mind. There is a time and a place for everything in this life, and I certainly can’t complain that I’ve missed out on much. I’ve just moved on to a new stage in life. And tonight – that new stage is called “stay-at-home-and-relax.” No membership card required.

As for you, well, I hope you have a great weekend – whatever you do and however you spend it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It’s 4AM. Do You Know Where YOUR Thoughts Are?

The other night I was happily snoozing away when the clock struck 4AM and I was suddenly wide awake. It was instantaneous, too. There was no groggy moment when you slowly realize you’re no longer happily snoozing. Fortunately, insomnia is generally not a problem and, believe me, I’m extremely grateful about that!

But immediately my mind started buzzing about the things I had to get done that day and the upcoming events and activities we’re attending and the people I needed to e-mail. I started thinking about the laundry that needed to be done and began making a mental list of the items we need to pick up on our next trip to Costco. Because I wasn’t writing it down, I pretty much knew I would, once again, forget to buy baking soda.

l also lay there wondering if I had something appropriate to wear to to the office so that I wouldn’t freeze since the A/C is set on “sub-zero” while the outside temps would be hovering around 90 and as soon as I stepped foot outside the office I would go from freezing to melting in a nanosecond. So I started wondering what sort of outfit might be appropriate in such a situation? A parka/bathing suit/wool socks/flip flop combo, perhaps? And then I wondered where I’d stored my parka before realizing that I don’t actually own a parka.

So my next thought, naturally, was: Should I purchase a new parka for the 2010-2011 Ohio arctic season? But then I discarded the idea as I’m not a big fan of parkas anyway.

I also wrote an entire blog in my head about this very situation and, let me tell you, it was hilarious! If only I’d been able to take the thoughts in my head and send them telepathically to my computer, you would’ve laughed and laughed! Really! Of course, since it’s (a) no longer 4 o’clock in the morning and (b) I really can’t remember the exact sequence of words I composed in my head, it is (c) not exactly hilarious any longer. Bummer.

Have you ever done this – or is it just me?

There have been times I’ve been lying in bed at night before drifting off to sleep and I compose a letter in my head to some company whose customer service was particularly poor and I feel the need to write a scathing letter that will be taken seriously and not just considered a “customer rant” that will get tossed in the trash. The letter I compose in my head is always better than the actual letter I write the next day.

Why is this?

In the past I’ve even tried to grab the pen and notepad I keep on my bedside table to write down my incredible compositions before they get lost in the vast void of Slumberland. But I can’t write as fast as my mind composes and if I take the time to turn on the bedside lamp, I lose my focus. On the rare occasions I have managed to scribble down my thoughts, I have been utterly unable to decipher them the next morning.

Anyway, back to the other night. Instead of getting out of bed and doing something useful like, say, sweeping out the garage or organizing the spice rack, I tried drifting back to sleep. The predominant thought in my brain at that moment was: Hey-it’s-flippin'-4-o’clock-in-the-morning-and-why-the-*#%&$@!-am-I-awake?

Eventually, I did fall back asleep, but it took awhile. And I didn’t write this down, but I think I dreamed about penguins wearing parkas. Weird, huh?!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Last Name is…Uh…

I was writing a letter to a customer the other day and used an old formatted letter to the same person. (This is called being lazy as I was merely avoiding looking up and typing his name and address over again.) Anyway, I finished editing and proofing the letter and was just about ready to print it when I realized the signature line contained my former last name instead of my new married last name.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my last name has, in fact, changed. When I have to give my full name over the phone I invariably hesitate between stating my first and last names. It’s like I have to stop and think about it. “My name is Jane…uh…” I’m sure people on the other end of the line must think I’m a little slow. Either that or maybe they have wild imaginations and think I’m some nefarious character using a list of aliases or, hey, maybe I’m in the witness protection program and can’t remember which new name I’ve been assigned.

Or maybe it’s just me with the wild imagination and the person on the other end of the phone line couldn’t care less why I’ve hesitated before stating my full name.

Sometimes I’ve been waiting in line and have heard the clerk call my new name and for a second I don’t realize it’s my name they’ve called. Wonder when that will change?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m in denial or am hesitating because I don’t like my new last name or have a problem being married or any other psychological situation here. No, it’s just that I hung on to the old name for so flippin' long that sometimes it’s hard to make the conversion. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks, don’t you? (Not that I’m calling myself an old dog or anything…)

Now I suppose I could’ve made things easier on myself and kept my birth name, but taking my husband’s name seemed like an appropriate thing to do. Not only that, but I sort of figured people would have less difficulty spelling the new one. (Yeah, not so much.)

My sister didn’t change her name when she got married. She said it was for professional reasons, but I sort of suspect she just didn’t want to go through the hassle of changing everything from credit cards to library cards and every piece of identifying information in between. I don’t guess it’s a big deal, although it does make it more difficult when sending Christmas cards. At the very least it takes more lines to get everyone’s name on the envelope. Plus, I sometimes wonder if people suspect she’s more of a stepparent or something since she and her daughter have different last names.

Ah well. I do like the fact that women are not “required” to take their husbands’ last names anymore. But when I think about all the women I know who have been married in recent years, most of them have switched names. Interesting, huh?

I’ve even heard of husbands taking their wives’ last names, but I don’t know anyone personally who has done this. I figure if that ever happens it’s because he has a name that is impossibly long and impossibly hard to pronounce, let alone spell correctly!

Some people, I suppose, do the hyphenating thing so they have two last names, which is fine for the most part. I often wonder what happens to the next generation when a daughter with two last names marries. Does she have a triple-hyphenated last name, then? Ugh. It’s hard enough keeping track of one let alone three!

Oh, and I recently saw a hyphenated last name that I thought must surely be a joke. Like someone was practicing their alphabet and kept writing down random consonants and vowels and just didn’t know when to stop. There was, of course, a hyphen in between the lengthy string. Can you imagine how a kid from that union fares? He’d better be a spelling whiz. And we can only hope that he has an easy first name – like maybe “Bob,” for example.

Fortunately, my name situation is not really all that difficult and I imagine, in time, I’ll stop the hesitation when stating my name. And when someone calls me, hopefully I’ll realize it’s my name they’re calling and won’t sit there with a blank look on my face for too much longer. Especially if it’s someone, say, from Publisher’s Clearinghouse to tell me I won their Sweepstakes.

Besides, my social security card, driver’s license and passport have all been changed, so it’s a done deal and I’m not switching back. But I'm hoping I never have to enter the Witness Protection Program: “My name? It’s Jane…Do…Co…I mean…Sally Smith!”

Friday, August 6, 2010


Vince and I were invited to join two of our good friends at the Devo concert the other night at the Ohio State Fair, so we happily accepted their invite. It’s not that I’m a huge Devo fan, but I wanted to go because (a) I haven’t been to the Ohio State Fair in nearly two decades and I thought I should see if it had changed any. (It hadn’t. Much. Still lots of food concessions, Lemon Shake-Up stands and booths where you can buy Elephant Ears. Whatever they are.)

Oh, and (b) I haven’t been to a concert in, well, I don’t know how many decades. I figured it was about time I climbed out of my non-concert-attending rut and I thought I might better handle the concert-going crowd for a band from the 70s as opposed to the frenzied crowd attending, say, a Lady GaGa concert.

I guess I’ve never been a fan of huge crowds and ear-splitting music. Doesn’t matter if it’s a mellow Michael Bublé concert, chances are there will be some major honkin’ speakers so the guy sitting in the very last row can hear – and my good ear will be ringing for several days. Not a great thing when one ear doesn’t work at all and the other one is aging as we speak.

Nevertheless, I gamely sat in the surprisingly comfy chairs (they had backs, which makes any stadium-type seating more comfy) and I did not wear an ear plug!

And I have to tell you – I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Devo band members have to be pushing 60, but they put on a great show! They jumped around on stage and sang their little hearts out and even had several costume changes, including the plastic flowerpot thingies they wear on their heads and the yellow pull-apart jumpsuits that mid-song they, well, pulled apart. Eventually they ripped them off entirely and threw the pieces to the crowd.

(What do fans do with such “memorabilia”? Make a little Devo shrine with their scrap of jumpsuit? Hmmm…inquiring minds…)

While it’s true that I pretty much only recognized (for sure) Devo’s signature song, “Whip It,” I still tapped my feet and bounced my head in time with the rest of the music. I suspect I have heard some of their other songs before, but couldn’t sing along to any word-for-word like some of their true fans.

I can’t imagine being such a Devo devotee (ha) that I’d walk around wearing a bright blue plastic flowerpot on my head, but there were many others who did. And, while I wouldn’t pay actual money for one of those hats, I wouldn’t have thrown it away if I’d caught one that lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh threw into the crowd during the show.

After all, Halloween is coming up in a coupla months. Or, heck, I could use something like that to plant some petunias. (What can I say? We simply don’t have the extra room for a Devo shrine.)

Just prior to entering the center for the show, the four of us explored some of the booths at the Fair and my friends made a stop at a miles-long candy stand that sells stuff I hadn’t seen since I was a kid like Wax Bottles, Mary Janes, Jawbreakers and Bulls Eye Caramels. We picked out some of our favorites and spent way too much money for nostalgic trips down the memory lanes of our childhoods.

I found it rather amusing that the four of us sat munching Good & Plenty candy while waiting for the show to start. It wasn’t all that long ago that we would’ve been drinking some good & plenty (of) beer before attending a concert. And, heck, it wouldn’t necessarily have needed to be good – just plenty!

My, how times change!

But all in all, it was an enjoyable evening spent with good friends. And I can now say I’ve been to (a) the Ohio State Fair this century and (b) a Devo concert.

After we left the fairgrounds, I sort of wished I’d stopped at the Lemon Shake-Up stand. And, sadly, I still can’t say I’ve ever tried an “elephant ear.” Maybe I can work on that goal in the next decade. No ear plugs required!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Wanna Nap…And I Want it NOW!

Okay, so I’m back from my brief vacation visiting the family in Cape Cod. I’m back at work. And I’m more than ready for my nap.

Yep, the upside of vacation is the opportunity to relax, do fun things with people you love, and take afternoon naps. The downside is that when vacation is over, I’m still in “nap mode” and around 2PM I’m jonesing for a little sleepy time.

I really think that school systems that have nap time for kindergarteners have the right idea. Or perhaps that should be “had”? For all I know, they don’t have nap time in kindergarten anymore.

But there is a fundamental question that has never been answered to my satisfaction, which is: Whoever said that nap time should be eliminated once a person hits double-digits? I, for one, believe that there is entirely too big an age gap between toddlers and retirees who get to enjoy the luxury of a little midday snooze. What about the rest of us?!

Frankly, I think companies could reap great benefits from installing “nap rooms.” Employees would be more inclined to work as opposed to surfing the net for a YouTube video to keep them awake and entertained when the 2PM sleepies hit. Probably they’d be less cranky, too. It’d be easy. Purchase a few comfy recliners, distribute pillows and blankies and little timers so employees can’t sleep away the entire afternoon. I mean, I’m perfectly willing to be reasonable – 20 minutes is all I’m asking for.

The only downside I could see to this plan is that it could be perhaps a tiny bit embarrassing to lead a meeting with dried drool on the side of your mouth following a nap break. Or being an HR representative charged with firing a fellow employee with whom you’d just shared naptime. But we’re in the brainstorming phase here so we still have time to work out the kinks.

And just to show you how much I back this idea, I’d be willing to be a test subject to see how much more productive I could be with a 20-minute nap every afternoon. We could do, say, a 15-20 year study to make sure we have enough data to comfortably conclude that naps are necessary for those of us over the legal drinking age but not yet old enough to qualify for senior citizen discounts.

By the time we concluded our research and reported it in the “Naps Digest” scientific journal, I’d be old enough to retire and the findings – for me, anyway - would be moot. Hey, I could live with that.

In the meantime, I’m left with either drinking massive quantities of caffeine or taking a short snooze in my car at lunchtime. The latter solution could be potentially embarrassing should a concerned citizen mistake my slumber for a more pressing health emergency and call the paramedics to revive me.

Not only that, but I’d have to research the definition of “vagrant” to make sure I wasn’t breaking any laws that could get me tossed in the pokey. On the other hand, I’d bet I could grab a nap in there!

Vacations are wonderful things. But I should probably stop indulging in afternoon naps during said vacations. It only teases me when I have to jump back on the employee treadmill.

Ah well. I guess I will console myself that Saturday is fast approaching. I’ll just have to hope that in between loads of laundry and other weekend chores that I can grab a few winks. It may not be 40, but any will do.

*Yawn*… Dang. There I go again…