Friday, October 29, 2010

If We Say “Two Thumbs Up” Are You Going to Call Us Crazy?!

Last night Vince and I went to the movies for an impromptu Thursday night date night. We saw the movie, Red, with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. We enjoyed it – and had some actual Laugh Out Loud moments. Now, don’t get me wrong…I don’t think anyone is going to get an Oscar nod for their performance, but it certainly was enough to entertain us for a couple hours.

When I came to work this morning, I told my boss that we saw a good movie last night – that we saw Red.

“My wife and I saw a really lousy movie last night,” he responded. “We saw Red.”

He was so incensed that we enjoyed it that he even called his wife while he was standing in my office to tell her. They thought it was garbage and that we were nuts.

Don'cha just love being called crazy by your boss? I sure do.

But, anyway. Isn’t it interesting how people can have such diverse opinions about the same thing? If you don’t believe me, I have two words for you: Jersey Shore. How people can make stars out of characters like Snookie and The Situation, well, it just doesn't compute to me. But it takes all kinds - right?

But back to the movies. Now, perhaps my standards aren’t excessively high when it comes to movies and entertainment. I figure if it’s billed as a comedy and it makes me laugh a few times and takes me out of my everyday life, well, then, it’s a decent flick.

It also depends on my current mood or frame of mind. There are times I love intrigue and the complexity of certain films and I don’t mind watching the same film multiple times as I get additional insight each time I watch.

Other times those kinds of movies annoy the crap out of me – and I just want to watch a chick flick and either sigh over the happily-ever-after ending - or bawl my eyes out. (Sometimes I can do both at the same time. We'll just call this the "complexity" of chick flicks.)

Of course, when it's a simple movie and we watch it multiple times, well, there are some interesting moments.

Like on our recent “camping” weekend, for example. We have what has over the years become known as “Hangover Theater” on Saturday and we sit around and watch campy, goofy flicks.

This year our film of choice was Hot Tub Time Machine. I hadn’t seen it when it came out in theaters, so I was sitting front and center in anticipation. And it was perfect for the kind of weekend we were enjoying. But then we watched it again. And again.

Yeah, it wasn’t one of those movies where I needed to see it three times to get any additional insight. It was pretty much self-explanatory the first time.

By the second and third viewing, it might have been serving more as background noise than anything else, although I did hear loud guffaws – from the same people – when certain lines were uttered. First time, third time, sixteenth time – didn’t matter. They still apparently got a kick out of it.

But, hey, that’s the whole point. Some people enjoy campy movies. Some people enjoy foreign films with subtitles. Some people enjoy both. And isn’t it a wonderful world we live in where we don’t have to pick just one?

So I guess maybe I’ll keep in mind what movies my boss thinks are garbage. And whenever he tells me he saw a crappy movie, I’ll make an extra effort to go see it.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed an evening out with my husband where we got to sit in the last row together, hold hands and LOL a few times. Call me crazy, but isn't that what life is all about?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Go Ahead...Make My Day!

The other day at lunchtime I was in my car driving through a not-so-great neighborhood to get to Target for the very important task of picking up a razor. (Read previous blog as to the reason behind this very important task!)

My first thought as I was driving through the not-so-great neighborhood was to get through it as quickly as possible. Well, actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was, I should probably activate the automatic car door locks.

Naturally, I got stopped at a light in this not-so-great neighborhood. Nobody bothered me, although I did see someone with a dirty rag and a spray bottle of water who wanted to clean windshields in exchange for a few bucks. No, I’m kidding. Because if I had seen someone with a dirty rag and a spray bottle of water who wanted to clean my windshield, I might have let him; it couldn’t have made my dirty windshield any worse.

Anyway, while I was stopped at the light, I noticed the car behind me. The car was what is affectionately known as a POS and at first I thought the shocks were completely gone on the thing because the car was bouncing up and down.

And then I realized it was the driver. There he was in his POS, with a big grin on his face, singing at the top of his lungs to the radio. Or, I don’t know – maybe he was singing at the top of his lungs to a song in his own head. Either way, he seemed very happy.

As soon as the light turned green and traffic started up again, I noticed that he was also dancing. His entire upper body – what I could see of it anyway – was moving around to the beat. And we are not talking unobtrusive little moves. No, we are talking full-on gyrations.

I sincerely hoped that he had at least one foot available to hit the brake, should that become necessary. I didn’t want his day ruined – or mine either – by his running into the back end of my car. He would have had to admit to the officer that it was an accident caused by excessive dancing.

Eventually he turned, but I found myself smiling the rest of the drive to the store. For all I know the guy could’ve been under the influence of more than just his favorite music. But I prefer to think that he was simply listening to music that made him happy. And, in turn, he made me a little happier.

I guess it’s true that sometimes we really don’t know what we do that can affect someone else’s day – either in a good way or in a bad way. I am positive this guy didn’t know that he made me smile. He was in his own little world and certainly wasn’t self-conscious about singing and dancing to the music playing in his car.

Nevertheless, it affected my mood and I was grinning as I walked through Target. And a couple people passing me smiled at me in return.

I decided to see if I could also get the cashier to smile. No, I didn’t tell her that I was buying the razor and an extra large package of replacement blades to deal with the monkey hair on my legs, although that may have done the trick.

Instead, when she asked me if I’d found everything I was looking for, I just smiled and said, “Well, no. I was looking for Brad Pitt and a million dollars, but couldn't find either one. Maybe Housewares is the wrong department?” In response, she looked up from her scanning, grinned and said, “Well, when you find out which department they’re in, let me know, would you?!”

Yeehaw. Mission accomplished.

I’m probably never going be the person singing and dancing in my car so much that the person in the car in front of me laughs at my antics…but sometimes it only takes a smile.

And if that doesn’t work, I can always tell ‘em the monkey hair story…

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Happiest Day of the Week

Ah, Friday has once again rolled around. I love Fridays when the whole weekend looms ahead of us with all sorts of possibilities. What to do, what to do?

One thing we know for sure we’re not doing is heading out of town. We’ve been out of town three times in the past month or so and we’re sick of packing our shampoo and undies and socks and toothbrushes. And then unpacking them again.

Besides, I keep losing stuff. I lost my razor (one of the non-disposable kinds) on our first trip and I haven’t replaced it. I keep saying I’m going to, but haven’t. Needless to say, if I don’t replace it soon I will be braiding the hair on my legs. I did borrow Vince’s razor for my underarms because, well, eww. But the legs require more commitment and effort. Plus, I don’t want Vince to shave his face and nick it all up from using a dull blade.

So perhaps “Buy New Razor” should be first on my weekend to-do list, eh? Maybe I should buy an extra large can of shaving cream, too, while I’m at it?

The other thing we will have to do is put the furniture back where it belongs once the carpet cleaners finish cleaning today. We managed to clear out a lot of stuff so there are large areas for them to shampoo, but this means we have no surfaces available to sit on or lie on or eat on. Our coffee table is currently residing atop the couch – and you can’t even see the spare room bed because there is so much stuff piled on top of it.

Who knows, a clean carpet might even inspire me to spend part of the weekend attending to things that never get attended to. Like baseboards. Who spends a lot of time (or gives much attention) to the baseboards?

Yeah, not me, either. Nor am I feeling it. Cleaning baseboards might have just gotten crossed off my to-do list.

We may attend Vince’s son’s football game tonight, but it depends on the temperature. Or maybe it depends on whether or not I can find some of those hand warmer things. While it’s a beautiful day today, the high is only going to be something like 61 degrees. And once the sun goes down? Brrrrr! So if I can find some hand warmers, I might brave the elements. Their team – the New Albany Eagles – is undefeated, though, so it might be fun to cheer him on from the sidelines. Maybe I can find my parka?

One of the things I’m most looking forward to doing is sleeping in on Saturday. I LOVE to sleep in. That whole “early bird catching the worm” thing? Lemme tell you somethin’ – I’m totally okay letting someone else have the worm. They don’t look terribly appetizing, anyway. And I’m quite happy hitting the snooze button.

We’ll also be rooting on the Buckeyes tomorrow. Hopefully they’ll have a better day than they did last Saturday. If not, I can always switch the channel to my saved programs – like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. Need to catch up on my “stories.”

Or maybe we’ll have great weather and I can go outside and do something that I haven’t done for a while. No, silly, not go for a walk, although God knows I need the exercise. No, I’m talking about washing my car. It’s at the stage where some smart aleck kid could easily write “WASH ME” on the back window. Actually, I’m kind of hoping someone will – at least that will give me a shot at being able to see out the back window. Opaque windows aren’t a real plus in car driving situations.

I think at some point this weekend I need to drink a glass of wine. It has been a while since I’ve had a glass of wine – and I do, after all, have a reputation to uphold. No, not the wine-bottle-in-a-paper-bag kind of reputation. I prefer to think of myself as more of a wine connoisseur – even if it IS only in my own little mind.

Do bottles of wine with screw tops count? Hehehe.

Ah well. I am sure that whatever we do this weekend, it will be fun. Just spending time with my Vince will be fun enough. Hopefully we can also be a little productive and get some of the household chores done that have been neglected during all this out of towning we’ve been doing.

So, happy Friday. Let’s raise our glasses to a great weekend! And maybe also to smooth legs…

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hey, Lady - We're Here to Clean the Carpet...Where is it?

Yesterday was one of those busy days when I had lunch plans with one friend and dinner plans with another friend. Who knew that chatting with old friends could be so exhausting? By the time we got home last night around 9:30, I was ready to hit the sack!

Well, in fairness, it wasn’t just the talking and laughing that did me in. I also worked a full day and then, after dinner, met up with Vince and we went grocery shopping. And it was trash night – so that little chore had to be completed lest we risk drowning in the piles of political advertisements we’ve been receiving in the mail lately.

Plus, there were the daily miscellaneous clean-ups and the odd load of laundry to do before we could relax. Hey, no wonder I was so tuckered out!

Tonight is going to be no different. We were invited to a happy hour, but I suspect we’ll need to take a pass on that invite so we can stay home and clear the floor.

Normally, we wouldn’t pass up a happy hour to clean, but we’ve been out of town a lot lately and we haven’t been spending much time on the ol’ homefront wielding the vacuum cleaner or the feather duster.

And we have carpet cleaners coming tomorrow who will only clean “open” spaces. Yeah, right. In our place, that’s basically a narrow path from the back door to the living room.

I suppose if I were to pick up the three dozen pairs of shoes littering the floor between the dining room and living room, they’d have a shot at cleaning a few more square feet. And, okay, so that’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, but there are probably anywhere from three to six pairs of shoes lying around. Hey, didn't I mention that we’ve been busy and out of town a lot lately?

But even on a good day, removing my shoes from my feet and immediately placing them in their proper shoe bins in the upstairs closet doesn’t happen. Instead, I kick them off wherever I happen to land. If it’s the dining room table to eat dinner, the shoes end up under the table. If it’s the couch, they accumulate near the coffee table. And if I plop down on the recliner for a few minutes, well, a third pile begins.

I used to come home and head immediately upstairs to wash my face and change out of my work clothes and into comfy PJs. I’d carefully place my clothes in the laundry hamper and my shoes in the closet. In recent months, however, I don’t seem to even make it upstairs until it’s time to go to bed.

So I’m not crazy about this slovenly habit I’ve gotten into lately, but on the upside, it does make choosing a pair of shoes to wear in the morning easier. I come downstairs in my stocking feet and browse the collection of various piles to make my decision.

I don’t think Vince is crazy about this newly-formed bad habit of mine either. Once in a while he’ll reference the growing numbers with astonishment that anyone could own that many pairs of shoes. Or he’ll make some thinly veiled comment like, “Are those new shoes? No, not those – the ones next to the new-ish boots…”

I assume he’s commenting on both my DSW-shoe-shopping fetish as well as my messiness and hoping that his comment will spur me on to a cleaning frenzy. Yeah, sure. But first, honey, can you get the backhoe from the garage?

On the other hand, he has shoes of his own lying around downstairs. Except that they’re always there. He staked out a spot near the breakfast bar where he keeps a pair of flip flops, a pair of slip-ons and a pair of tennis shoes. These three will pretty much get him through all four seasons, with the possible exception of the middle of winter when we have blizzard-like conditions or more formal occasions such as weddings. And, since his pile never changes, he evidently thinks that it’s only my shoes that need to be picked up and put away.


Tonight we’re both going to be picking up our shoes. I suppose that alone wouldn’t be enough to prevent us from joining our friends for happy hour, but we’re also going to be moving furniture out of the way to give us the maximum “open” space possible. Our carpeting needs some serious attention and I don’t want a measly end table to be the reason the carpet cleaners can’t get to it. Or an errant shoe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vitamins, Vitamins and More Vitamins

This morning I, yet again, rushed out to my car to head to work. (Yes, I woke up late, and yes, I was running behind schedule, but, no, I was NOT late for work. Thanks for asking.) As I flew past the kitchen, I grabbed the handful of vitamins I take every morning and shoved them in my pocket to take later after I’d had something to eat.

I managed to eat “breakfast” somewhere south of Henderson Road after traffic started clearing a bit and I wasn’t in danger of smacking into the car in front of me while my attention was diverted trying to open the package. Well, I guess you could call it breakfast – if a chocolate covered, peanut butter, chocolate chip bar with a tiny bit of oatmeal thrown in for good measure can be considered breakfast.

They’re “Quaker Chewy Dips” and taste, to me, like a candy bar. Each bar has about 140 calories – about 40 more than the ones that aren’t covered in chocolate. But, hey, if broccoli came covered in chocolate, I’d probably eat a whole lot more of it, too.

Thus, the (obvious) need for the vitamins.

But even before this new phase in our lives, Vince and I were taking a lot of vitamins every morning. Only I had a bit more substantial breakfast when he was preparing it, so I could take my daily vitamins before leaving home.

Now, it’s catch as catch can and I sometimes forget about them and arrive home in the evening still with a pocketful of vitamins. Oops.

Vince and I take different ones, too, so it’s a major chore every couple weeks to fill up the pill holders. We practically have to draw straws to decide which one of us gets stuck with Pill Duty. It's sort of on par with Toilet Cleaning Duty.

If I take the Omega 3 fish oil pills he takes, I spend the day burping up what tastes like fish, which is sure to ruin a good day as I don’t like actual fish – let alone something in pill form. And don’t believe the brands that claim there is “no fishy aftertaste.” They lie. Besides, it’s not exactly ladylike to spend the day belching and the two times I tried those pills, it was an involuntary reaction. Yuck.

Once in a great while Vince will take my pills by accident. And then he has to clown around and act all feminine and talk in a high-pitched voice and tell me he he’s having emotional issues that day. What a fun-ny guy…

As for me, I take Vitamin D and Calcium so I don’t get osteoporosis. Vitamin E so my skin will stay youthful as long as possible. (Yeah, right. This one isn’t working so well. I woke up this morning with a crease on my face from sleeping on my pillow funny – and an hour later it was still there. Humph.)

And I take some sort of women’s OTC stuff to hopefully make the whole easing into menopause thing a little less traumatic. Who knows if they actually work? I don’t think I’ve had an official hot flash yet, though, so that’s a good enough reason for me to keep buying them.

And, finally, we both take Vitamin C so we have a little more protection against all those nasty germs floating through the air. I don’t care if the jury is still out on whether or not Vitamin C works…I figure it can’t hurt. I can assure you that we don’t eat the daily number of fruit servings recommended in the newest food pyramid. And neither of us drinks OJ on any sort of regular basis, so we could probably use a little extra help in the fruit vitamin category.

Probably I should look into the whole one pill in multi-vitamin form again. All this pill popping is getting old. But maybe it’s just a precursor to old age where people tend to pop pills all day long. Like my dad, for instance. He’s constantly taking some sort of prescription medication. Some he takes with food. Some without food. Some with milk. Some you can’t take with milk or with juice. If I had to keep up with that sort of pill-taking schedule, I’d have to be retired like he is just to deal with it all.

Sheesh. I can’t even manage to remember to take my daily vitamins every day.

Ah well. Hopefully all these vitamins will prevent some of those prescription pill needs later in life. And if they don’t…well, I guess I’m just getting in practice.

Which reminds me…I’ve got some vitamins to take. Hope you’re having a healthy day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Annual "Camping" Weekend - 2010

We just returned from our Annual “Camping” Weekend. Quote marks around the word camping are necessary because, well, there is no actual camping involved. There never is, yet we persist in calling it our Annual “Camping” Weekend.

I think in the beginning, a little hiking might have been involved, but that was before my time. And some years we stayed in a cabin at Mohican, which was maybe a little more “rustic”…but still. There was a hot tub at the cabin, so that’s not exactly roughing it.

This year we returned for the second year to Indian Lake and there were eleven of us overnighters with several day trippers visiting on Saturday. We stayed in two connecting condos with six bedrooms altogether so no one even had to sleep on the floor in sleeping bags or on air mattresses.

Plus, there were curtains on the windows – doesn’t exactly scream camping, now does it? And we had cable TV. So we were only roughing it if you consider that it was basic cable with no premium channels. Some of us were probably going through ESPN withdrawal, but the rest of us were busy playing cards and drinking beer and weren’t paying a whole lot of attention.

So it was a great weekend. Our Friday night theme this year was “The 60s” so we all wore our best tie-dye, love beads and headbands to hold back our long, scraggly hair. (And if we no longer have long, scraggly hair we supplemented our follicles with groovy wigs, man.)

We ate chili and talked and laughed and made inappropriate comments, which ended up in our Quote Book. I usually have more than my fair share of quotes in that book, but this year I must have been exceptionally quiet and/or polite as I wasn’t quoted even once. Most of the quotes usually start out innocently enough, but this crowd jumps on anything that smacks of double-entendre. Thus, the need for a Quote Book. It is kept from year to year, too, so there is no escaping past embarrassments.

My food responsibility this year was a breakfast egg bake for Saturday morning. Since I wanted to have fun Friday night, we were proactive. The night before we left Vince and I premeasured and cut up anything that needed to be measured or cut up. All I needed to do Friday night was plop everything in the baking dish and then get up Saturday morning to pop it in the oven. No problem. Plus, I make these egg stratas all the time, so I figured it was a piece of cake. Piece of egg? Something like that.

After my partner Ellen and I finally lost a game of Euchre (after hours and hours of beating the boys), I decided it was time to put the strata together. I pulled all the ingredients out of the fridge…and only then realized I’d forgotten to bring the container of eggs. O.M.G. That’s the MAIN ingredient of this stupid dish! How could I have forgotten the eggs??

Deciding that 1AM and several beers later was a little too late and a lot too risky to go out in search of eggs, I put the dish together sans eggs and set my alarm for early AM to get up and find a store.

Vince woke up when my alarm went off and he asked, “Do you want me to go with you?” I answered his question with a question: “Do you want to see me again anytime today?!” To which he replied, “I’ll get dressed.”

We left and I said “Don’t we want to turn right?” Which, naturally, was the wrong direction. Vince just laughed and said, “Janie – why don’t you let me do the driving?”

So we found an IGA a couple miles up the road, purchased our eggs and made it back to the condo in time to get the strata in the oven before all the campers stumbled downstairs in search of sustenance and a little caffeine. Or, depending upon how many beers they’d imbibed the night before, a LOT of caffeine.

Fortunately, we had the coffee pot on perpetual perk and, while we waited for the breakfast bake to bake, we also had some tasty treats like powdered sugar donuts, peanut butter cookies and Twizzlers to snack on.

Clearly, healthy eating is not part of the equation on these camping weekends. Someone did take a stab at it and brought a bag of apples, but I’m not sure if anyone actually ate one since the bag still looked full by the end of the weekend.

The only downer the whole weekend was watching the Buckeyes lose Saturday night. We all wore our best OSU gear and walked over to Froggy’s to watch the game where Buckeye nuts abounded. There was so much scarlet and gray in the place it was enough to make your eyes water. Alas, the loss to Wisconsin was the real reason eyes were watering, but we sucked it up and finished our evening trying not to think about it by watching cheesy – yet funny – movies like Hot Tub Time Machine and playing more card games.

The saying on Sunday is: “Get up. Clean up. Giddy up.” So that’s what we did. We took the obligatory group photo, settled up the tab, split up any leftover food, said our goodbyes and hit the road.

And thus ended this year's Annual "Camping" Weekend. Great friends. Great times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nothing Says “I Love You” like Fixing a Broken Turn Signal

I came home from work last night a little frazzled because I’d had to stop at the grocery store and gas station on the way home and I knew Vince already had dinner on the table. And, okay, so it was take-out – but, hey, any meal in which I do not have to take out (ha) a pot or a pan gives him extra points in the Good Husband column.

I’d drunk an entire bottle of water right before leaving work, though, and, well, I had to go. I realized this only after I’d left the store and the gas station, so my only recourse was to make it home. Fast. So I called Vince and warned him to steer clear of the path between the door and the, uh, facilities.

As I flew through the kitchen on my way to the bathroom, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a beautiful bouquet of red roses sitting on the counter awaiting my arrival home.

Sadly, I couldn’t stop to admire them because Mother Nature is sort of mean and doesn’t allow women my age a whole lot of, um, “wiggle room” when we have to go.

But when all was right with the world again and I stopped repeating the words “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now” from that stupid commercial, I went back to the kitchen to read the card that accompanied my Sweetest Day surprise. It read: “I love you more than roses. I love you more than anything.”

Oh, how lucky and blessed am I?

Not only did he buy the roses, but he also had them wrapped in purple paper and tied with a purple bow. This might seem like an insignificant detail – except the colors of our wedding were apple red and purple, so I knew Vince had added this touch on purpose.

After we ate dinner and arranged the roses in a vase and set them on the dining room table, we left to run a couple errands since we’re going to be out of town this weekend. On the way home from the store, Vince swung into a car parts place to see if he could fix the left turn signal on my car, which has been acting up for quite some time despite the installation of numerous replacement bulbs at $7 a pop.

While Vince and the guy from the store did their male thing of fiddling around under the hood trying to get the part to operate properly, I sat in comfort inside the car reading the last chapter of my book and feeling grateful that I wasn’t standing outside around the front of my car with an equally perplexed look on my face.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to fix the turn signal, so Vince said he’d take my car in to the dealership today to have it looked at. (And to have the oil changed, too, while he was at it.) And all this on his day off work.

Did I already say I was blessed?

Handling these sorts of things for me says “I love you” just as much as the beautiful roses sitting on the dining room table.

We have a little inside joke where Vince says, “So…you think you’ll keep me around for another week?” I usually pause, tap my finger against my cheek as if I’m thinking about it and say, “Yeahhhh…I think I’ll keep you around for another week.”

But you know what? I think I’ll keep him around for a lifetime.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mike Harden

I’m a little sad today because I just heard about a death of someone in our community. Columbus Dispatch columnist Mike Harden passed away last night after a battle with cancer.

Did I know Mike personally? No, not really. I met him a couple times when he was a guest lecturer for my favorite courses at Franklin University – news writing and news editing (big surprise, eh?).

But I didn’t know him personally. I don’t know what type of cancer he had or how long he endured his battle. I remember reading about his family from time to time, but I don’t know how many children and grandchildren he had or how many times he was married.

So, no, he was not a “friend.” He was just one of us.

I did think of him over the years as sort of a mentor. He wrote about common things and common people. We recognized our neighbors, our family and our friends in his writing. Sometimes he wrote about extraordinary events or people and I can remember his columns after Hurricane Katrina and Columbine. He took a headline and put a face on it. While we were warm and safe and dry in our homes, for example, through Mike’s writing we were transported to the sad and desperate conditions in Louisiana after Katrina.

I don’t read actual newspapers anymore because, like many people in the electronic age, we get our news instantly on our computers, cell phones and 24-hour news channels. Reading the newspaper sometimes seems superfluous.

Besides, I have had some big-time billing and delivery issues in recent years with the newspaper. Don't get me started.

But I have to admit that I used to get more detail from the newspaper as writers and editors generally have more time to flesh out a story than the constantly-repeating headline crawls from those 24-hour news channels that rehash the same old breaking news information.

I also admit that I sometimes miss holding an actual newspaper in hand and paging through different sections. I might have skipped over the political commentaries or some of the less-than-funny comics – but I always stopped on any article by Mike Harden. Whether it was his mythical Aunt Gracie from Methane, Ohio or an actual person in the news in our community he was featuring, I enjoyed reading his prose. He made me think and he made me laugh.

So I will miss him. He touched a lot of lives. He touched mine.

You made a difference, Mike Harden. May you rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're Lost. Again?

Vince and I went to an out-of-town party on Saturday, which necessitated an overnight stay. Sure, it was “only” a three hour drive – but I’m not one to drive three hours somewhere, stay for a short while and then turn around and drive three hours back home. That makes for a very long day. And I for one don’t want to be thinking about the upcoming three hour drive the entire time I’m trying to enjoy myself at a party.

The funny thing is that the very friends we were visiting travel for their business – and a three hour drive is “nuthin’” to them. They scoff at three hour drives. A three hour drive is merely a “jaunt” and they can make that kind of trip with their eyes closed.

Well, okay, so not really. Driving with one’s eyes closed could be a little dangerous.

Nevertheless, they are the sort of people who roll their eyes whenever I make any reference about how long a drive it was. What they don’t take into consideration, however, is the fact that “lost time” must frequently be built into my travel estimations.

Vince decided to take matters into his own hands this trip and he printed out Mapquest directions. He figured that might alleviate some of the stress his Navigator (me) feels whenever he says, “Do I turn left or right here?” and in a panic I cry, “I. Don’t. Know!!”

I admit it. I don’t make a very good Navigator.

In truth, I don’t really remember applying for the job – but apparently my driving also makes Vince nervous so I’m relegated to the passenger seat where the title of Navigator is automatically assigned.

I was semi-confident about this trip, however, as I used to live in the town. I hadn’t driven from downtown to my friend’s house in years, though – and it IS out in the seeming vast wilderness that is the outlying areas of the ‘Ville – but I figured I could find it all on my own.

Except Vince’s Mapquest directions were not the way I’ve ever driven. And, yes, we got lost.

Vince was a little, um, testy by the time we’d had to turn around for the third time on narrow, winding roads that were barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass side by side. So he called my friends. And, fortunately, they navigated him properly and we arrived safe and sound.

In my defense, I have to say that I’d never come from the direction we came from. I know one way – and one way only – to get there. I’m confident that I could have gotten us there without a problem. Except that my credibility by this point with Vince is totally shot – so he insisted we follow the Mapquest directions.

Oh well. I can’t really blame him. But I told him, “You watch. When we leave here, we’ll turn right. At the dead-end, we turn left. And then we turn left again onto the highway.” And that was exactly right. So sometimes it’s my own fault for not being more self-confident when it comes to directions.

Despite being a little frazzled by the time we arrived at the party, our moods quickly changed and we ended up having a lot of fun. We drank some adult beverages and greeted old friends and met some new ones. We watched the kids as they ran and played in the Bressler playground (pony rides, trampoline, jungle jim and inflatable bouncy thing). And we were even serenaded on the accordion. And the food. Sheesh. It was a veritable Italian feast – lasagna, gnocchi, meatballs, pasta and stuffed things like mushrooms and peppers.

We also went on a scary hayride. Not because it was spooky, but because we were driving on actual roads. There were no streetlights and our wagon was not lit. So we held our drinks in one hand – and our cell phones up in the air with the other in hopes that any drivers would see the lights from our cell phones before they plowed into the back end of the wagon and dropped us all like bowling pins.

Happily, we didn’t have any mishaps – unless you count the time we all almost landed in a ditch and the one time we all had to get out so our driver could get the wagon up a hill.

So, as usual, it was a great time. And we’re looking forward to Fall Fest 2011. But I’m thinking we should probably start saving our pennies and purchase one of those GPS Navigational things. Unless they - like my cell phone - read "No Service" when you're out in the sticks and you really need the assistance.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another Day in the Life

Last night Vince and I subbed in the Columbus Ski Club Euchre league. He was subbing for an actual person while I was simply filling an empty chair – so the pressure wasn’t really on to perform well on someone’s behalf. So I took chances whereas before – when I’d been a regular in the league – I might have played a little more conservatively.

Now I’d love to report that I had multitudes of loaners netting us 4 points at a time and that my final score was a 65 (which would be a personal best). Alas, I’m sorry to say that I got euchred several times and my final score was a less-than-mediocre 32. (For all you non-Euchre-league players, a score of 40 is more or less the norm.)

Sigh. I guess taking risks and chances doesn’t always work out so well, does it?

Oh well, it was just a game. And I don’t think my score gets recorded anywhere – so maybe if I play again as a sub filling an empty chair, I can play as “Anonymous.” Scores of 32 points might not be quite as embarrassing that way!

We got home late, though – at least an hour and a half after Vince’s new bedtime, so he probably had a tough time getting up at 4:15 this morning. Poor guy.

I wasn’t quite as chipper this morning as I would’ve liked either. But I take comfort in the fact that it’s Friday. Thank God.

When I went downstairs to get my coffee, I poured it into a ceramic cup to warm it up in the microwave. A few days ago I’d missed the curved lip of the glass in the microwave, and spilled half the cup inside the microwave. So I’d mopped and cursed and cursed and mopped – and only got about half of a half of a cup of coffee to fortify me for the day ahead.

This morning, I nearly had the same accident as I slid the mug of coffee inside the microwave. At the last possible second, I managed to hang onto the cup when it bumped against the lip of the glass turner. I righted it – and heaved a sigh of relief at having averted another spill.

The microwave did it’s heating and spinning thing and then beeped to let me know my warm liquid caffeine was ready for ingestion. Yay.

So, I opened the door and started to pull out the mug – and bumped the lip of the glass on the way out, so my coffee spilled all over the kitchen counter. Every last drop of it. This time I did the cursing thing first – and then got out the paper towels and sponges and assorted other tools and implements to clean up my mess.

Clearly, I need to pour the coffee into a smaller mug. (Really, Jane – you think?) Except that since my coffee is a complicated mixed bag of coffee, soy milk and sugar-free flavoring, I’ll have to reconfigure the levels with a smaller mug. I’ve got it down to a science with the tall mug I’ve been using.

Or perhaps I should just be a little more diligent when using the microwave.

But anyway…

Because the coffee pot was empty and I didn’t have time to brew another pot, I had considered lapping up the spilled coffee off the counter like a dog – but only for a second. As it was T-minus-Zero and I absolutely had to leave the house that second to make it to work on time, I grabbed a cold can of Diet Dr. Pepper and took off.

When I get home tonight, I suspect the kitchen will still have the lingering smell of spilled coffee – so I’ll have to do a more thorough clean-up job. And, despite washing my hands at least four times, they still smell like coffee. Wonder if there is such a thing as second-hand caffeine and some has hit my bloodstream through my pores.

That’d be good. Because this can of Diet Dr. Pepper ain’t doin’ it for me.

TGIF, people, TGIF.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Long Arm of the Law...

I had dinner with one of my oldest and dearest friends last night. (Well, she’s not technically my “oldest” friend – but you get the idea.) It was so good to get together and catch up on each other’s lives, but we realized that it had been nearly a year since just the two of us got together. How do I know this? Well, because the last text message I sent her was almost exactly a year ago.

With my amazing ability to string words together into pearls of wisdom I had texted: “I am here.” And, no, I am not usually so succinct when texting, calling, writing, or smoke signaling people as I tend to think messages are better when the reader knows what color socks I’m wearing and what I had for breakfast a week ago.

However, I was simply letting her know last October that I was parked in the alley behind her office building waiting to pick her up so we could go to dinner and talk until the server gave us seriously dirty looks indicating that we should probably leave.

My succinctness was due to the fact that I had my eyes peeled for cops as there were big signs all over the alley that read “NO STOPPING EITHER SIDE OF THE ALLEY.” I think they were serious. Yet there I was breaking the law – along with a half dozen other people who were also stopped in the alley awaiting their party.

Last night I left her – word for word – the exact same text message. Wow. And here I thought that with all these blogs I’ve written in the past year that I’d improved my writing skills. Guess not.

Nevertheless, those three little words were clear enough to let her know that she should leave her desk on the second-to-highest floor of her skyscraper office building, get on the two elevators, escalator and set of stairs needed to reach the ground floor and hustle on out to my car before a cop decided to turn an eagle eye down the alley and zero in on my license plate.

This is unlike my office, where I spy my ride out the window, walk three steps to the door, and then walk 10 steps to their car. By the time someone has had the chance to text “I am…” I’d be at their car door ready to hop in. Cops usually don’t patrol the street near my office anyway. What’s the point? There is a 2-hour parking limit and no sticker is required, so they’re not liable to catch anyone loitering.

Anyway, my friend reached my car, hopped in and we sped away like Thelma and Louise before any Boys in Blue decided to exercise their ticket-writing authority.

Even though the cops would’ve had to write an awful lot of tickets to drivers besides just me, I was relieved to move along as I’m just not comfortable breaking the law whether it’s of the minor variety or not. This wouldn’t bother Vince as one of his many mottos is: “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” He obviously did not grow up Catholic.

I, on the other hand, grew up asking for forgiveness before I even did anything bad. Oh, c’mon. I never did anything bad – I was just funnin’ you! If I ever even thought about doing anything bad, I’d break out in hives and then the heart palpitations would begin. I’d have a guilty look on my face – just for thinking about misbehaving. Probably I wasn’t too much fun to be around.

I’d be the ‘narc’ without ever opening my mouth. A parent or a teacher would take one look at the guilt written all over my face and start searching for the real perpetrators. Man, it’s a miracle I grew up with any friends at all, isn’t it?!

Anyway, once my heart rate returned to normal last night and we were well beyond the alley, we headed toward our destination and then had a lovely meal together. We talked in code only familiar to long-time friends and laughed about silly things we did in our (relative) youth. We asked each other about our families and mutual friends and just had a grand old time.

Well, at least until the bill had been paid and our water glasses were sucked completely dry and the waitress (who pointedly did not come back to refill our water glasses) shot us a dirty look for the umpteenth time. We sort of took that as a hint that we should probably be moving on.

Wow. Someone thought I was doing something wrong – and there wasn’t a single hive or a heart palpitation to be had. Maybe I'm finally getting over the guilt thing, eh? Hey, maybe I should do something reckless - like jaywalk or something?

Nah. Baby steps… I wouldn't want to get all crazy and somehow end up on America's Most Wanted. I wouldn't want to get that John Walsh after me - he is one scary dude!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christmas Will Be Here In 79 Days…Are You Ready?

I am proud to announce…I have purchased the first Christmas Gift of 2010. Ta-da!!

I know, I know – it’s amazing, isn’t it? Frankly, I think this is news worthy of inclusion in some sort of Hall of Fame – or perhaps the next edition of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

For the past several years…okay…decades now – I have joined the impatient throngs of last minute Christmas shoppers who power-walk through three different malls in a five-hour time span attempting to find the perfect gift. Which, of course, never materializes. So I end up spending way more than intended just so that I don’t show up at a gift exchange empty-handed. Not only that, but there have been some years where there were very few gaily wrapped packages under the tree, primarily because I gave up on the search and instead went out and bought gift cards.

This year I decided to try a different approach and start a whole 79 days, 18 hours and 35 minutes early. (And, yes I did look it up – the Internet is a veritable smorgasbord of information!)

Plus, while I’m a little slow on the uptake as other people have been doing this for years, I have finally realized the beauty of online ordering. Sit at the computer in your jammies and order away and a few days later – voilà – the package is delivered to your front door. Now I ask you, what could be easier?

When I was in my 20s, I was more organized during holiday time. My to-do list was long, but somehow – in between working and bar hopping – I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping finished well before Thanksgiving. I assumed I would always be just as organized, so I took it for granted. Silly me.

Once I reached my 30s, my holiday organization went down the tubes and I started the last-minute thing. Hmmm…one could almost conclude that eliminating bar hopping led to my downfall.

On the other hand, the gift list wasn’t as long as it has become over the years and the budget was a little thinner back then, so maybe comparatively speaking, last minute shopping is still within the norm.

No, that argument doesn’t really work for me, either.

So now in my 50s, I’ve changed tactics again. And once I ordered that first gift, I started making my list and checking it twice – and driving Vince absolutely nuts with chatter about what to get for whom. He was probably thinking, it’s only the first of October, for cryin’ out loud. Get back to me in December. Like maybe around the 24th!

Vince hasn’t quite bought into the whole list making thing, although he doesn’t begrudge me making the effort. Just as long as I don’t involve him too much in the whole process.

Of course, there is a potential fly in the ointment, as it were, with this new plan. What happens when I finish shopping by the end of October and then shortly thereafter all the Christmas sales flyers and catalogues start to arrive – and I chance upon a better gift for someone? It will probably be too late to return all the gifts I’ve bought online.

Actually, that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that I will start to see all sorts of things that I absolutely must buy for myself! It’s sort of Christmas shopping with the “one for you – one for me” attitude. Hey, I can’t help it. I try to stay away from the mall as much as possible during the year unless I’m absolutely required to purchase new clothes for an event such as a wedding. Or, for a reason such as – I don’t know – like maybe it’s Wednesday and I have nothing to wear. You can never have enough Wednesday outfits…

Yeah, who am I kidding. I hit the mall with the same regularity as mail delivery and with the same motto as the Post Office: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor…”

Well, anyway, I will have to make sure that the gifts I purchase are perfect and exactly what the receiver wanted so that no one will even think about returning them. And I will have to develop a little more willpower so that the massive pile of gaily wrapped gifts under the tree aren’t ALL for me. That could be, well, a little embarrassing.

Hmmm…maybe last minute gift cards aren’t such a bad idea after all…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Needle Phobia

I don’t have a fear of needles, which is a good thing considering that Vince and I got our ‘flu shots last night.

I know some people who are deathly afraid of needles, which I don’t understand. But then, I also don’t really understand the fear of heights – so what do I know? (Fear of spiders and other creepy crawly things, on the other hand…well, now we’re talkin’!)

But I found it interesting that last night I wore the same expression on my face that I have ever since I was a little girl facing the doctor and getting a shot. (Or, rather, facing away from the doctor. Ha ha…) But I have always refused to acknowledge the pain – or the pinch, as it were, of a needle piercing my skin. Probably I’d be a good candidate for tattoos if I were so inclined to have indelible ink injected under my skin. I am not so inclined, so I guess we won’t be able to test the theory.

Nevertheless, memories of going to the doctor as a kid made me smile – once the Band-Aid was applied, anyway. Mom usually brought three of the four of us at one time. I’m guessing that it was an ordeal – so she figured she might as well get it over with all at once. My older brother, on the other hand, never seemed to be along with us on these doctor visits. Either he was an extraordinarily healthy child or Mom figured he was a project that was best handled alone.

Anyway, once the heinous word “doctor” escaped from Mom’s lips, my sister (younger than me by 5 years) commenced crying. And she never stopped. On the drive there. In the waiting room. And once we reached the inner sanctum and the doctor actually showed up, she ramped up the tears to near wailing.

My younger brother tried to be a little more stoic, but the tears usually began once the doctor arrived.

So I, as the elder and wiser sibling of about 7-years of age, somehow felt I needed to be the mature one. Nary a tear leaked out of either duct. Not that I probably didn’t want to give in to a good cry as I certainly didn’t look forward to having a sharp needle jabbed into my backside.

After the first needle experience I couldn’t really give in to tears anyway since my mom held me up as a shining example to my younger siblings. “See? Jane isn’t crying,” she’d plead. “Try to be brave like Jane.”

Yeah. Like that worked.

Fortunately, the pediatrician had extensive experience dealing with fearful and crying children. He was mercifully quick and, once the torment was over, lollipops magically appeared. And, just as magically, my sister’s wailing stopped almost immediately as if someone pressed a Mute button.

When I think about it now, it makes me laugh.

I don’t know if this is really true, but I can picture my mom – nattily dressed and perfectly coiffed at the beginning of the experience of hauling three sick children to the doctor. And then, afterwards, stumbling to the car holding on to her toddlers’ hands with her hair mussed and an expression of sheer exhaustion on her face.

Probably I should send her a thank you card for all she did for us. Maybe even throw in some flowers. On the other hand, I was the paragon of bravery. So perhaps my sister should be the one sending flowers!

(And if my sister and brother are reading this…um. Oops. Sorry. But this does not give you license to tell stories about me.) I’m quite sure I can tell plenty of embarrassing stories about myself – believe me, I’ve got a lifetime of red-faced moments!

In the meantime, I enjoyed my own little trip down memory lane. And I’ve gotta say – I’m really glad I’m a grown-up now and whenever I have to get a shot, it’s in my arm instead of my backside. Those suckers hurt!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Internet Etiquette

I haven’t been getting many joke emails lately. Wonder why? Is it possible that I’ve already seen every single one of them out there in Cyberworld and there is absolutely nothing left to send me? Or is it because I haven’t done my fair share of forwarding them on to my list of contacts and, therefore, I’ve been dropped from my friends’ distribution lists?

I don’t know the answer, but my email inbox has gotten pretty boring lately. All I get are offers to buy stuff. Which, you know, isn’t bad ‘cause I like buying stuff.

But I also like to laugh. And I haven’t had even a stupid pun to LOL over lately.

Of course, I complain when the opposite is true and I have so many joke emails to read before deleting or forwarding that my inbox is overflowing and I forget to respond to that single legitimate invite or query. Oops.

I think that the etiquette involved in email forwards is interesting – mostly because it’s mostly unspoken and unwritten. But believe you me, it’s there.

Like, for example, you’re not supposed to reply to every single joke email that someone forwards to you. If you do that often enough, people will remove you from their distribution list. Because the point of forwarding an email is to get it moved on in the vast machine that is the Internet. It’s not supposed to come back to you with the response, “Good one!” Ugh. It’s just one more thing to delete.

What’s worse is if you do not respond to the “Good one!” comment and you get a follow-up email from that person asking why you didn’t respond to their email. It’s not like you can claim ownership to the joke. You just forwarded a note that someone somewhere sometime wrote or drew or made up. So what do you say? “Uh. Thanks?”

Talk about scintillating communications.

Now, it is also a well-documented fact (based on my own personal research over the past day and a half) that people forward jokes to friends in hopes that they will think, Wow. Friend X-Y-Z thought about me for a brief nanosecond while she typed my name into the distribution list – I should find out how she is and if that pesky sciatica is still bothering her.

In this case, it’s perfectly acceptable to reply via email to a Forward. You are even allowed to write, “Good one!” but you must also follow-up with something a little more substantive. Believe me, as the author of many a long-winded chatty email, I greedily accept the two line response as “better than nuthin’.”

Another faux pas in the murky world of email etiquette is when you forward something that struck you as slightly amusing (Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.) and you receive a rebuttal complete with facts and figures as to why the “joke” was neither true nor funny.

Come on, people. If it didn’t make you guffaw, chuckle or even smile – just a little – then hit “delete” and move on. There is no need to develop a doctoral thesis on the topic. Ain’t nobody awarding you an advanced degree on your pithy remarks. It. Was. A. Joke. And, okay, so maybe it wouldn’t qualify for the Joke Hall of Fame, but we all need to lighten up a little.

These are only some of the many unspoken and unwritten rules of Internet Etiquette. Perhaps we’ll revisit this topic, once I make up some more stuff about it.

In the meantime, if you have something funny to share, please do. My in-box cannot take one more offer from for the cheapest rates for a hotel in a city we’ve never visited and never in this lifetime plan to visit.

Plus, even with those goofy pictures of William Shatner plastered throughout, never makes me LOL.