Friday, January 28, 2011

So Is Bowling A Sport or Not? Discuss.

I’ve heard it said that bowling cannot be considered a real sport. Why? Because any activity in which beer can be drunk during play should never count as a real sport. Okay, I’ll buy that.

I haven’t heard that bowling could be considered comedy either, but when I bowled last week it was pretty funny considering there was a pratfall from yours truly and everything. Unintentional, of course. But if I’d been watching myself, I probably would’ve laughed.

Yep, I took a header when my heretofore reliable (and cute) hot pink-and-black bowling shoes were placed upon my feet in the warm bowling alley after having been left all week in the freezing garage. Condensation is more than a weather-related term. Who knew?

I was shocked when I suddenly landed in a heap on the floor after my first throw. But I was even more shocked when, after hauling myself back upright, I looked up and saw that I’d somehow managed to knock down nine of the pins. I figured on the way down I might have lost control of the ball and flung it across the next several lanes. Good thing I didn’t. It’s also a good thing it didn’t pop-up like in softball and come back down and conk me on the head while I was crumpled up on the floor of Lane 5.

I guess I didn’t know bowling could be a contact sport. (Oh wait…that’s right. We’re not calling it a “sport.”)

At any rate, the folks in the neighboring lanes who saw me take the fall were very kind and solicitous and didn’t even snicker once. Well, not in front of me, anyway. Once they ascertained that I was ambulatory, they gave me a sympathetic nod as if to say, “Better you than me, lady!” and then went back to concentrating on their own games.

After that embarrassing debacle, I realized I still had to throw my second ball. With any delay of game, my second throw is usually a gutter ball. But I surprised myself even further when, after tentatively tip-toeing up to the line, I threw the ball…and picked up the spare!

And then, of course, I slunk off back to my seat to nurse my stinging hand and smarting knee.

The only saving grace was the fact that the other members of my own bowling team missed my free fall since they were too busy drinking beer and shuffling cards for poker. I wouldn’t have heard the end of it all night long. They’d have been talking about something totally unrelated like the weather or something and then would have said, “…yeah, it’s kind of like when Jane fell on her face up there on Lane 5!” And then they would have laughed and laughed.

Or maybe they wouldn’t have. It depends on how much they believe in karma and that nasty little thing called “payback.”

Besides, our team needs to stick together since we’re in last place. (How did that happen?) And the sad thing is, we’re bowling pretty well. We’re just bowling against opponents who are bowling even better.

Personally, I haven’t had such good bowling scores as I have had these past few weeks. I mean, after taking a dive on that first frame, I would have thought my “bowling concentration” would have been affected and I might have had a bad game. Not so. I bowled 151 that first game. My average is 134 and I somehow also bowled higher than my average the next two games.

Of course, this inevitably means that I should expect a week sometime in the not-too-distant future where I can’t manage a spare or a strike to save my tuchus. This will be a relief, actually. I am normally a 115 average bowler. My cute bowling shoes couldn’t possibly have made so much of a difference that I’m bowling 19 pins above my normal average. Or…could they? You can never discount the cuteness factor in bowling.

And, that too, my friends, is why bowling cannot be considered a “sport.” In real sports, shoes and clothing (and helmets and pads, etc.) are functional. When you get to wear hot pink-and-black bowling shoes that match your hot pink-and-black bowling shirt with the cute pink panther patch on the pocket, you should automatically disqualify bowling as a sport.

Well, in my opinion, anyway. I’m sure professional bowlers would beg to differ. But then, I’ve never seen a professional bowler wearing cute hot pink-and-black bowling shoes.

Meanwhile, I’ll be bowling again on Sunday. Let’s hope there are no repeat performances on the pratfalls. From me, anyway. Oh, and I will happily consider any strikes and/or spares as a bonus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Being a Kitty Mommy…

We had to give the kittens deworming medicine last night. Yuck. It’s a good thing I’m not in the medical profession. I can’t stand giving medication to anyone but myself. And even then, I’m not very good at taking it. But at least I don’t spew it all out over my clothes like Twinks did to me last night.

And the stuff is a thick, bright yellow liquid that has to be given orally. Sheesh. I hope I can Shout® the stuff out of my black slacks and sweater. More importantly, I hope Twinks managed to swallow enough of it so we aren’t deworming her for the next 12 years. The whole “kittens have worms” thing is pretty gross.

Fortunately, Vince took over the reigns when it came to giving Jinx her dosage. He calmly held her by the scruff of her neck (as the vet recommended) and tipped her little head back and injected the medicine down her throat. And she calmly swallowed it.

Yikes. I need remedial kitten medicine-dispensing training. I can’t even hold them by the scruff of the neck because it seems mean, even if it is how their mothers hold them. Whatever. I have opposable thumbs – I don’t think I should have to hold an animal by the scruff of its neck.

Other than that, we’re settling into being kitten caregivers. It’s a little like being mommy to a 2-year-old, except kittens move a lot faster and can jump a lot higher than little kids, so we’re constantly chasing them around and pulling them off the tops of tables and the backs of chairs, which they seem determined to claw to death.

Of course, we can squirt them with a little water when they do something we don’t want them to do, like jumping up on the dining room table, and we can put them in their cages when it’s time to settle down to go to sleep. Neither of which you can do with a 2-year-old child…so, believe me, I’m not saying being a kitty mommy is harder than being a kid mommy.

And, even though kitty-litter cleaning is not exactly a favorite chore of mine, I’m still guessing it’s a lot easier than changing diapers all day long. Especially the explosive-type ones.

Oh, and they’re perfectly happy getting the same kitten chow morning and night – unlike a finicky 2-year-old toddler. Well, maybe a finicky 2-year-old might like the same thing morning and night, but I don’t imagine it’s healthy to feed a 2-year-old a constant diet of Fruit Loops.

Twinks and Jinx act like I’m the BEST HUMAN EVER when I measure out their food and put it in their bowls. Plus, they behave as if they’ve never EVER seen food before and haven’t eaten in a week, so they practically dive into their bowls face first.

All in all, it’s pretty fun having them in our lives. You’d think it would get old watching them run around in circles trying to catch their own tails, but it doesn’t. Of course, I have to wonder at their IQ’s – but it’s not like they will eventually go to school and will have to compete for a job with someone smarter than they. There will be no SAT scores. No spelling tests. No math homework. So I’m okay watching them chase their own tails and laughing at their antics.

And, at the end of the day when they curl up on my chest and purr…well, that’s the best thing about being a kitty mommy.

Now, if I could just train them to use the potty so I could eliminate the whole kitty-litter cleaning chore…

Nah…never mind. I don’t think I want to wait in line to use the restroom until the kittens are finished.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The White Death

I have to admit that I’m one of those wienies who doesn’t want to be anywhere on the road when it starts snowing. Even a little. That’s hard to admit as I’d prefer to be thought of as fearless. On the other hand, I’m afraid I’ve outed myself as a wienie long ago.

I was listening to WNCI on the radio yesterday morning and the DJs were making fun of the weatherman’s snow predictions. Kept calling it the “White Death.” Ha ha. Only I didn’t think it was all that funny.

It started snowing about 8:30 in the morning and, all told, we had nearly 6”.

So all day I was looking out the windows in my office with growing apprehension. When my boss called (from Florida, no less!) to tell us to close the office at 3PM, I was overjoyed! And I took off outta here like a shot. And then drove, of course, about 25 MPH, annoying the drivers behind me in their big ol’ 4-wheel drive SUVs who scoff at a little snowfall and insist on driving even faster than the speed limit to prove that they’re the fearless ones.

I suppose that’s where my fearfulness originated. I’ve never had a 4-wheel drive SUV and am always worried I’ll slide off the road or something. Again.

Yep, years ago shortly after I got my brand new shiny red Ford Probe GT with the big-ass tires, I was heading to a hair appointment (ha) and it had started snowing – but there was barely a dusting on the road. I grew up in Northeast Ohio and took my driver’s training in the winter, so I figured a little snow wouldn’t hurt anyone. Plus, my new car had (a) front-wheel drive – a good thing, I thought, and (b) those big-ass tires. I thought that meant there would be more tire surface on the road and that would be a good thing, too.

Yeah, not so much.

I started on my journey and took the first exit…and did one of those slow-motion skids. Ended up off the side of the freeway where you usually see dead wildlife. I was so shocked that my front-wheel drive and big-ass tires didn’t come through for me that I just sat there in stunned silence.

Fortunately, some good Samaritans pushed me out and got me back on the road. But I crawled home expecting to slide off the road again at any moment. And, yes, folks – that incident started my fear of driving in snow. Any snow. Plus, I had that car for nearly 11 years, so I spent a LOT of winters slip-sliding away and being fearful.

My new car (well, okay, it’s on its 6th year now, so it can hardly be called “new”…) is much better in the snow. Doesn’t have those big-ass tires on it. But it’s still low to the ground, so it doesn’t do well when there is a lot of snow to clear.

Plus, this one has a handy-dandy gadget on the dash that lights up and tells me my car is not in control – the icy road is. I see the little yellow light and I think, No kidding! I KNOW I’m sliding on the road. Thanks so much for that information, Mazda. (I am, as you might guess, a little sarcastic when talking to Mazda in my head.)

Fortunately, I have been relatively safe on the roads and I haven’t slid off the road or had any fender benders. I say this as I’m crossing myself, throwing salt over my shoulder, giving my black cat away… you know…all the things to try to prevent the gods of Fender-Benders from focusing on me and my Mazda.

So I’m fervently praying for Spring to hurry up and arrive. As it’s only the 21st of January, I suspect I will have a long wait. Sigh.

Ah well. I can spend some of that time deciding my next steps. Either we need to move to a state where the snow never flies…or my next vehicle purchase will be a tank.

If you’re out in this snowy weather, drive carefully and be safe. And stay away from my bumper. Pretty please?!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Running Late was NOT in the Plan

Today has not proceeded as originally planned. I got up early this morning and…okay…well, early for me, anyway. (Hey, I consider even five minutes before my normal wake-up time “early” – okay? And this was like a half hour earlier than normal!)

My plan was to fortify myself with some caffeine and then forage in our sadly depleted fridge for some sustenance. I figured I should even have enough time to wash a load of darks and could take my time getting ready for work instead of racing around and flying out the door in a mad dash to get to work on time.

That was the plan. And isn’t it interesting how life throws us curve balls?! (I am not, by the way, very good at fielding curve balls.)

But, anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I headed downstairs and the first item on my agenda was to free the little kitties from their sleeping quarters. Only I discovered that Vince had let them out when he came downstairs at 4:15am – and never put them back inside their prisons, er, kitty condos when he left for work.

Fortunately, the little angels were quietly napping on the loveseat. Since they’re not always quite so angelic, I cringed a little bit as I headed into the dining room because I was sure I’d walk into total mayhem and destruction. But neither the tablecloth nor the candlesticks had been disturbed and no plant on the premises had to give up its life to the little furballs.

Wow. All quiet on the dining room front.

Next, I walked into the kitchen. I wasn’t too worried that they’d gotten on the counter and played field hockey with my car keys – mostly because they’re still a little too small to jump up on the kitchen counters.

Curiously, the front burner on the gas stove was on. Barely, but still on nonetheless. On the burner was the pot in which Vince usually cooks his morning oatmeal. Since he knows very well that I’m not terribly fond of oatmeal, I was sure he hadn’t made extra for me and was attempting to keep it warm until I arose. Since he had left two hours prior, I was a little afraid at what I’d find when I lifted the lid. But lift it I did.

Inside the pot was a mysterious brown substance that looked nothing like oatmeal. Rather than try to make a guess or – heaven forbid! – taste the stuff, I simply turned off the stove, put the lid back on the pot and backed out of the kitchen.

By this point I was thoroughly exhausted.

Okay, I wasn’t technically exhausted from my activities thus far. Technically, I was tired because I’d had a restless night and hadn’t slept very well. But still. I took a little detour to the couch while I decided my next steps…and promptly fell asleep.

When I woke up, it was precisely 8AM. This is precisely the time I should be walking out the door to get to work on time.

Have you ever startled a cat and all four paws lift off the floor at the same time? Yeah, that was me. Two-legged, but the effect was essentially the same.

I think I even emitted a squeak that sounded pretty much like Jinx sounds when she’s hungry – only a lot louder and a lot more panicky.

I dashed to the kitchen, snagged the kitty food and slung it in the general direction of the food bowls. I picked up the kittens and tenderly kissed each one before flinging them into their cages and slamming the locks closed. I ran upstairs and brushed things and washed things and threw on whichever clothes were immediately handy and slapped a little cover stick and lip gloss somewhere on my face and then ran back downstairs.

I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie on my way out the door, which served as breakfast. As I couldn’t even think about taking the time to heat up the coffee and carefully measure the soy milk and sugar-free flavoring I normally use to make the coffee palatable, I yanked a can of Diet Dr. Pepper out of the fridge and hoped that its teeny bit of caffeine would perk me up to get through the rest of my day.

Yeah, well, that didn’t work so well.

Once I caught my breath and my heart rate returned to some semblance of normal, I focused on the road and managed to get to work um…well…within a few moments of my normal start time.

I figured that was pretty good considering I was snoozing at the time I was supposed to be walking out the door. Plus, I didn’t think anyone at work would really want to see me with bed hair, wearing a robe and my fuzzy slippers and sporting morning breath. I did them a favor – right?!

So my plan for tomorrow? I think I’ll just get up at my normal time. Having “extra” time in the morning is just way too dangerous.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The New Holiday Schedule in Jane’s Domain

I’m glad we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contribution to civil rights and all. But I’m a little peeved that I have never ever, in my entire working life, gotten the day off. Nor do I get to stay home and sleep in on President’s Day or Columbus Day or Veteran’s Day or even Arbor Day. (By the way, what is Arbor Day and do we still celebrate it?)

Vince didn’t work today because Columbus city schools are closed. They seem to be closed a lot – from my perspective, anyway – and he just got back to work after a two week break. My vacation allotment for the entire year is two weeks. And I do not get summers off either.

So is it wrong that I’m totally jealous that he had the day off and I had to work? Probably. But then, I get jealous when a girlfriend buys a new pair of really cute shoes and I’m still wearing last season’s flats.

Probably I should stop thinking of these national holidays as opportunities to sleep in and should instead think about what the day is all about and why we have a national holiday to celebrate it.

Yeah, sure. While I am certain there are some people who had the day off who did just that, my guess is that there were a whole lot more people who used it as an excuse to sleep in.

There are far too many of us out there who never get any holidays off other than your traditional Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So I think we should start a new calendar and fill it with some brand new holidays. (This new calendar, unfortunately, will not be open to any city or state employees, anyone who works at a bank or the Post Office, or any school employees who have at least one day off every other week and all summer. I’m sorry to be exclusionary, but you people have far too much time off during the year anyway.)

So, let’s see. What should we celebrate? Okay, well, for starters, we could take the third Friday of January off for…uh, “National It’s Too Frickin’ Cold” Day. This holiday will be reserved strictly for those states that post Wind Chill Factors from November through March.

For all other states, there will be a corresponding holiday on the third Friday of August called “National It’s Too Frickin’ Hot” Day. Heat indexes must reach 100 before a state can legally celebrate this holiday.

People taking these holidays off will reserve one moment of silence in gratitude that they don’t have to get ready for work, slide onto the seat of their car and either (a) experience frostbite to their nether regions until the bun warmers kick in, or (b) suffer third degree burns to the back of their knees from the superheated plastic on the edge of their car seats.

March 15 will no longer be called the Ides of March because nobody knows what that means anymore. Julius who? No, instead, henceforth this day will be called the “Halfway Holiday” as it is approximately halfway between New Year’s and Memorial Day. Plus, it’s still Too Frickin’ Cold in the Midwest, so I’m sure those of us who live here will appreciate yet another day we don’t have to shovel snow to get out of our driveways.

One month later, April 15th, would be another very good day to reserve as a National Holiday (in Jane’s Domain, anyway). I don’t know about you, but that day can be quite taxing. If we take that day off, we can go shopping and spend our tax rebates. This would be good for the economy, right? Or, if we actually owe the IRS money, we can spend the day figuring out how to come up with the dough. I would not recommend robbing a bank to procure the funds, but you should note that banks WILL be open on April 15th because, remember, this is not a sanctioned holiday for bank employees.

I think this is a good start. I need to come up with ideas for May through December, but this is a work in progress and I’m willing to put some extra thought into the project.

Meanwhile, I’m going to request off for Arbor Day 2011. Maybe I’ll plant a tree or something. Or whatever it is you’re supposed to do on Arbor Day.

PS, I have to give credit where credit is due. My loving husband Vince did NOT sleep in this morning. Instead, he got up and cooked breakfast for me and went to the trouble of making me a latte because he knows I like them much better than plain ol’ coffee. So while I’m still jealous he had the day off, I’m grateful to have such a great guy in my life.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Black Hole

I spent my lunch hour cleaning out my purse. And, yes, the process did, in fact, take the better part of an hour. So much for my plan to return a couple phone calls, write out a list for the grocery store and read the library book that is imminently due back at the library.

Not to mention actually getting the opportunity to eat my lunch!

Nevertheless, it was a chore that was long overdue. It’s amazing how stuff can accumulate in a purse. I’m sure this has been written before sometime, somewhere, but a woman’s purse is seriously like a black hole – it swallows up everything in its path. I was not in the least surprised to find a birthday card I meant to send a friend last November and coupons that had expired last August.

I found receipts for grocery store shopping trips that took place over a month ago and gas station receipts for gasoline that is long gone from the tank. I found old gum wrappers that were – disgustingly – used to wrap up chewed pieces of gum. There were so many little wads of these gum wrappers that I felt like I should start a collection.

And there were no less than three silver chains and pendants in various pockets inside my purse. I was amazed that none of them were tangled or broken. And, because I wanted to keep them untangled and unbroken, I put them around my neck for safekeeping until I got home and could put them away. If they’d been bigger chains, I could’ve looked like a rapper. Yeah, just call me…um…Gum Rappa.

(Ooh. Sorry.)

The thing is, I even have a “purse organizer” inside my purse. You know those things that are supposed to keep women’s purses all organized and stuff? And that, if I want to change purses, I simply pull out the organizer and transfer it to a new purse with no muss and no fuss?

Yeah, not so much. The stuff in my purse manages to spill out over and around the purse organizer so that I need another organizer to organize the organizer. Or something like that.

Actually, the purse organizer does tend to keep my belongings a tiny bit more organized. I mean, I know where my ring of loyalty cards is stored and can usually find it fairly quickly without resorting to dumping my purse upside down on the conveyor belt at Kroger’s trying to find the darn card. Believe me, I’ve had enough of cranky store clerks who shoot me dirty looks while tapping their foot impatiently as I dredge the recesses of my purse looking for my card so I can get my loyal customer savings of maybe a dollar and forty cents.

I was also happy to discover that I actually put my lipstick back in the same spot in the organizer so that I can find the tube of “Rose Passion” without even looking anymore.

My keys, however, are another story. I got one of those clever decorative “hooks” that are kept on the key ring and are supposed to hook inside the edge of the purse where it zips. The theory is that I need only to pull that hook and – voila! – I have keys in hand. This handy invention means I should never again have to scrabble around inside the black hole searching for my keys. Unfortunately, the decorative hook I bought is a little too small and doesn’t seem to hook over the edge of my purse where it zips shut.

Thus, I still find myself digging in my purse for my keys. When I don’t find them at first, I move on to my coat pockets thinking I may have put them in there. When I come up empty, I go back to my purse, hoist it up near my one good ear and shake it to try to hear the jangle of my keys. Sometimes I hear the jangle, but surprisingly still can’t locate the big wad of keys. In desperation, I yank out the darn purse organizer, and there, nestled in the bottom of my purse, are my keys.

So I may have to rethink the whole purse issue. Vince probably has the right idea – he went out and bought several pairs of cargo pants – and he has enough pockets to keep all his stuff, including his big wad of keys.

The only drawback to that solution? Vince is constantly asking ME for things like gum, eyeglass cleaner and tissues…things he doesn’t seem to keep in his cargo pants pockets. Naturally, he assumes I’ll have those items inside my black hole of a purse.

Hmm. So I guess for now I’d better keep my purse. But maybe I should plan to clean it out more than once every quarter, though. Those gum wrappers filled with chewed wads of gum are just nasty.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Return of the Pin Panthers

So the other night we started our 2011 bowling season on the Columbus Ski Club bowling league and we wore our official “Pin Panther” embroidered hot pink and black bowling shirts. Plus, I got some new hot pink and black bowling shoes to match my shirt, so now I think I’m all stylin’ in the bowling alley.

I’m sure the guys on the team we bowled against, wearing their plain ol’ t-shirts and regular ol’ bowling shoes, were quaking in fear because our team looked all professional and stuff. But after our first gutter ball, I think they relaxed a little.

Except I did bowl a little too well for the first night of bowling where our averages and handicaps are established. Must’ve been the pre-bowling beer and wings or somethin’. Or maybe it was just the beer.

But, yeah, the first night of bowling on a league using handicaps is not a good night to start bowling above your average.

I can’t remember my scores to the exact pin (must’ve been the beer or somethin’), but they were something like 114, 130-something and 140-something.

Usually my average is only somewhere around 115.

What’s going to happen now is that I’ll spend the next several weeks trying to hit my above-average average…and it’ll be frustrating.

The cup half-full viewpoint would be that my new hot pink and black bowling shoes were the very thing that caused me to bowl so much better or that perhaps I raised my average appreciably by sheer skill and ability.

I tend to think, however, it was just beginner’s luck. “Beginner” meaning that I haven’t bowled since last April. Well, okay, so I did bowl one time over the summer, but that didn’t count because (a) it was on a Sunday morning rather than a Sunday evening, and (b) no beer was involved.

Or maybe it didn’t count because I didn’t yet have my new hot pink and black bowling shoes? Yeah, that’s probably it.

I’m going to think positively and assume that my new bowling shoes with their soft felt soles that allow the bowler to do that professional bowler’s “glide” thing…

…Okay, I just can’t pull it off. I have no flippin’ clue how to do that professional bowler’s “glide” thing. When I tried one time, I hurt my knee. So what I do is pretty much just walk up to the little center dot in my lane and chuck the ball toward the pins and hope for the best.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sunday night it worked – unfortunately. So this means I’ll either have to drink massive quantities of beer every Sunday evening in hopes that it was, in fact, the beer that helped my bowling scores…or I’ll just have to do what I normally do the week after I’ve had a good night of bowling, which is to bowl three games with scores that don’t even crack the 100 mark.

Believe me, I’ve done it enough to know.

The first time I had a great night of bowling (on another league), I bowled 170 and 182. I was feeling all bowling proficient and figured that I finally “got it” and would be bowling strikes left and right from that point on. Yeah, sure. The next week I think I bowled an 82 and an 88. Can you say “inconsistent”?!

Ah well. Bowling great scores every week on a bowling league isn’t really the point. The beer is. Oops. I mean, the camaraderie with teammates and opponents alike is the point. Getting a chance to heft a 12 pound ball so that my right bicep gets at least a little bit of a workout is the point. And having a legitimate reason to wear a hot pink and black bowling shirt with matching bowling shoes (so that I rather resemble a box of Good N’ Plenty candy)…well that, my friends, is the point.

But the beer doesn’t hurt.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Night Shift

The other day I was forced to call myself a former night owl. I did not, however, state that I’d turned into an early bird.

Like all former night owls, I still value my morning sleep-in and I know perfectly well I’m not going to get up when the first alarm goes off. I set at least two wake-up alarms on my iPhone each night, and when the first one sounds I can easily talk myself out of getting up – no matter how important the reason seemed to be the night before.

About the only time I’ll truly pay attention to that first alarm is if I have to catch a flight somewhere. If it’s an early enough flight, I’ll probably just stay up all night rather than take a chance on oversleeping and missing my plane. With the full body scans and TSA groping sessions we have to endure nowadays, there is no such thing anymore as dashing into the airport at the last possible moment.

But, anyway, I’d have to say that I’m more of a mid-day kinda person. Sure, I’d far prefer avoiding the whole rush hour traffic thing – but even if I worked from home, I couldn’t see getting started before, oh, say, 10AM. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable start time to me.

Sadly, mid-day kinda people don’t get a whole lot of respect. People figure they’re late for something…even if they’ve missed nothing but rush hour.

True night owls, on the other hand, tend to gravitate toward careers where they can work the night shift, which means they’re most likely happily snoozing away in the morning while I’m struggling to get myself out of bed.

I’m not exactly qualified for careers that are best suited to night owls, however. Entertainers, for example. I can’t sing and I can’t dance – or at least, no one would be interested in paying to see me do either one of those things – unless it was for purely comedic purposes.

I could have worked in the food service industry, I suppose, but my first ever job (besides babysitting) was as a busgirl in an Italian restaurant when I was 16. That experience taught me that, while I could bus a table with the best of ‘em, I wasn’t ever interested in moving onward and upward to the wonderful world of waitressing.

That looked like some serious hard work and I really didn’t want to try to hone the ability to balance a heavily-laden tray in one hand while dodging hungry customers and other servers without dropping stuff. I embarrass easily and I couldn’t see myself ever standing red-faced in the middle of a busy restaurant with broken china and plates full of spaghetti and meatballs all over me and the floor! Plus, the whole tip thing was just a little too nebulous for my comfort. I didn’t like not knowing how much I was actually going to earn after a day’s work.

Maybe I could’ve gone into the medical field so I could work the overnight shift at an ER…but I was never really good at science. Medical emergencies make me nervous and, other than being the first to offer up a Band-Aid and a squirt of Neosporin or some paper towels to sop up the blood, I’m perfectly okay stepping aside and letting the professionals offer assistance.

So…I wanted to be a night owl. I had the mindset to be a night owl. But I didn’t have the independent wealth to allow me to be a night owl. I need, as they say, a “day job.” Thus, I arm myself with a minimum of two alarms every morning to prod myself into getting up early to get ready for the day.

I suppose someday I will retire and will then get to sleep in as late as I want. Only from what I understand, senior citizens sleep fewer hours and therefore don’t tend to sleep in. Darn my luck.

All I can say is thank God for creating weekends.

Now...if you’ll excuse me – I got up a little too early today. It's time for a nap!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Notes from a Former Night Owl

So I decided to try really hard to avoid writing a blog today about the kittens that have seemingly taken over our lives. But it’s tough. Since they have seemingly taken over our lives.

I could talk about the big Ohio State win last night at the Sugar Bowl. It was one of those nail-biter kinda games where my team had a decent lead and I relaxed in the leather recliner with the kitt…er…something-or-others sleeping soundly in my lap.

Halftime started and I fell asleep myself in said recliner. Along with the something-or-others. When I woke up, the score was considerably and uncomfortably closer than it had been at halftime. And there were a few minutes at the very end of the game that I would’ve been yelling out loud at the television – if Vince hadn’t been upstairs getting some much-needed rest since he’s back to his ungodly 4:15AM wake-up schedule.

Fortunately, the Buckeyes pulled through and won the game. And I’m sure there was a huge collective “WHEW!” all over Buckeye-land.

We’d been invited to a gathering to watch the game with some friends, but declined as, again, 4:15Am rolls around incredibly early. We figured we wouldn’t even be able to stay until halftime so, sadly, we opted to stay home.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I wouldn’t have let that stop me. I was a night owl and proud of it. Didn’t matter if I had to be up early the next day – I was out and about. Of course, I don’t think I ever had to be out and about in the 4 o’clock hour. That might’ve put a little damper on my night owl activities.

It’s interesting how age creeps up on one rather insidiously. I was the person who could pull an all-nighter and then work a full day and go out on a date the next evening without even looking tired. If I tried to do that now, I suspect the bags under my eyes would need their own ZIP code.

Little by little, my late night activities have slowly turned into early evening activities. Like, for instance, I used to bowl on a winter league on Mondays. We usually started around 9:30PM, which meant that I didn’t get home until nearly midnight. And that was if after my last strike (Ha! Wishful thinking…!) I immediately stowed my bowling ball and shoes in the carrier and hustled out to my car and headed straight home.

A couple years ago I decided that getting home so late on Monday evenings wasn’t good for me because I was tired on Tuesdays and never felt that I caught up on my sleep the rest of the week.

So I switched bowling leagues and now bowl on Sundays where I’m finished by 9PM. Ahh. That’s more like it!

When I was in my 20s and hung out with coworkers and friends who were in their 30s (and older), we used to have a lot of happy hours and get-togethers outside of work. I always wanted to go home and get dressed up for an evening out instead of heading out right after work. But I discovered that our get-togethers weren’t as well-attended if co-workers had a gap between work and party time. I didn’t get it when they’d tell me that if they stopped at home first, they were done for the night.

Yeah, well, I totally get it now. It’s a really bad thing for me to stop at home after work before heading out to meet friends because I do not want to get back in the car to go out again. Picture me with my fingers desperately clinging to the door jam and Vince pulling me away from the door and out to the car saying, “But you told them we’d be there, Janie.”

Yeah, yeah. The voice of reason speaks again.

So apparently aging happens to the best of us, huh?

Usually I don’t want to admit any of this – because all of my former coworkers and friends used to tell me, “Just wait. It’ll happen to you, too.” And I’d scoff at them. “Not me,” I’d say confidently. “I can’t imagine slowing down…” I managed to keep the like you old fogies part of the sentence to myself.

Any of my old coworkers and friends reading this? Okay, I’m gonna say this once: You. Were. Right.

There. I said it. Now leave me alone. It’s nap time.

(And I apologize for calling you “old fogies.”)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Partridge in a Pear Tree? I Think Not.

One of my least favorite post-Christmas chores (after reading instructions to try to figure out how some new electronic gadget we received for Christmas works, anyway) is taking down the Christmas decorations and, in particular, the Christmas tree.

I love the holidays and all the bright, pretty lights and shiny ornaments on the tree, but somehow find it a little depressing to look at once we flip the calendar to a new year. I’m not sure why this is, but it is. So on my to-do list over New Year's break is always “Dismantle the Christmas Tree.” It’s not a simple task, since I load up our tree every year with LOTS of decorations. And it's something I tend to procrastinate on until I can't stand it anymore.

This year, however, I couldn’t get the darn thing down fast enough.

Why? Because Jinx, our little black kitten, discovered that she could evade her playmate, Twinks, by climbing up the branches of the Christmas tree where she’d look down at her nemesis and all but stick out her little tongue.

We hadn’t seen this new talent because we were out for the evening, but discovered it the next day. I looked at the tree and realized that my carefully draped beads were all haphazardly jumbled up on one side of the tree. Hmmm…I thought…that’s curious. I wonder how that happened?

And then I saw it with my own two eyes: Jinx scampering up the branches of the tree and taunting Twinks, who was either too big (or too big a ‘fraidy cat) to climb up the tree after her.

No matter how sternly I told Jinx “NO!” and pulled her off the tree, she kept darting up the branches as ornaments crashed down on the carpeting with a thud and beads lost their tentative perch on the branches and trailed onto the floor.

I tried putting her in her kitty cage, but I couldn’t stand her mewling – it made me feel too bad. (Plus, I couldn’t find any earplugs to drown out the noise!)

So as to avoid another day of tree climbing, I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning and immediately started pulling off ornaments. The beads were a big mess and I spent most of my time trying to untangle them. The job was made even more difficult since the kittens thought the beads were a nifty new toy and swiped and batted at each string as I unwound them from the tree.

By the time Vince came downstairs, I’d completely stripped the tree so the poor thing was standing there naked. Well, okay, except that it’s a pre-lit tree – so it was still wearing its lights. They weren’t, however, shining brightly – so it was a rather sorry-looking specimen.

Vince’s first order of business after making coffee was to pull the box out of the garage and pack the tree away for another year.

And then the kittens had nothing to play with.

Yeah, right.

They are creative little buggers, if nothing else. They immediately moved on to climbing up the back of the dining room chair to try to reach one of the plants we’d moved out of their way.

While I can’t quite see the war strategy they’ve devised in their little kitty heads, I’m guessing the living room curtains are their next plan of attack. As a countermeasure, we’ve already pulled the curtains up and out of the way of their little claws.

Yes, our formerly lovely little nest is looking a bit torn up these days.

I DID buy a pair of kitty claw nippers to make them a little less lethal, but I think I’ve managed to clip maybe six of Jinx’s claws before she squirmed out of my grasp. And Twinks? Haven’t even gotten close!

Ah well. These, too, are the joys of having kittens. And, hey, there was no procrastination involved whatsoever in getting the Christmas tree down and packed away this year – that’s a plus, isn’t it?!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Proverbial Straw?

Have you ever been so tired you just wanted to cry? Where the smallest of disturbances threatens to push you over the edge? Yeah, well, that was me the other night.

We’d had a houseful of family over the Christmas holiday and our two new kittens were crazy balls of energy, and we’d been out to dinner several times and to COSI and to various friends’ houses for holiday visits. Added all up, it just left me plain exhausted.

On Saturday I looked at Vince and, in an admittedly VERY whiny tone, said, “I’m SO tired. I can’t believe I have to work tomorrow!” He, being the ever calming voice of reason replied, “No, you don’t, Janie. Tomorrow is Sunday.”

I swear it was right about that moment I heard the faint sounds of the Hallelujah Chorus sung by a choir of angels. Plus, I might have even gotten a little teary-eyed over the realization that I had at least one more day to recover.

We visited with some friends Saturday afternoon/evening and when I got home all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch. But our poor little kittens had been cooped up all day and wanted to play. So they ran around the place with the little bells on their collars jingling away, chasing each other, jumping on furniture they’re not supposed to be on, clawing stuff and basically being, well, kittens.

I promised myself that after I finished a few chores I’d get that chance to relax on the couch and then would head to bed early. So I cleaned kitty litter. And swept the floor where kitty litter had spilled. And refilled food and water bowls. And then I chased them around shooing them off the dining room table and the leather recliner, which they evidently think is their real scratching post.

Just watching them made me feel old and tired and cranky. I would have gone to bed right then and there, but I knew it wasn’t fair to the little furballs and I needed to give them a chance to burn off some pent-up energy.

Meanwhile, Vince, who was a little tired and cranky himself, went upstairs to bed.

So I sat on the couch resenting a little bit that I wasn’t able to head off to bed like Vince. And I almost regretted my decision to get not only one kitten, but two of them. Yeah, like one kitten wouldn’t have required just as much kitty litter cleaning and feeding and watering and shooing. The only benefit to having only one kitten as opposed to two is that perhaps I would’ve only had half as many scratches on my hands and arms and legs from the little, uh, angels.

Finally, I decided to just let them run and if they jumped up on the table or scratched the leather recliner, I’d let ‘em. So there I was almost asleep on the couch when I heard a crash from the dining room. I'm quite sure I did an exaggerated eye roll right about then, but I got up and went into the dining discover that the kittens had knocked over a full glass of water that I’d forgotten about and had left on the table.

Yes, that was nearly the proverbial straw, but I clenched my teeth and got some paper towels to clean up the spill. I figured that at least it was water in a plastic cup and not a full glass of red wine in one of our crystal wineglasses. Small victories, eh?

Eventually, though, the kittens wore themselves out and climbed up in my lap, curled themselves into little balls, and fell asleep. Ah, bliss. It was nearly then that I fell asleep on the couch myself, except that Vince – wondering what had become of me – sent me a text asking me if I was coming to bed. The buzzing of the phone on the table woke up the kittens, who thought it was their kitty alarm indicating that it was play time. Again.


Nevertheless, I decided it was time to exert some authority, so I gathered them up and put them in their respective sleeping quarters and headed upstairs amid a chorus of loud meows as they registered their displeasure at being cooped up.

I felt bad, but I was so tired that I shut the bedroom door on their cries – and started to get ready for bed – with tears streaming down my face. Sheesh. What a baby! But, Vince, being the good husband he is, rubbed my aching neck and shoulders until I finally fell asleep.

It occurred to me sometime during the middle of the night that not only was I single the last time I had to deal with a kitten, but I was also 15 years younger. Plus I’ve never had two of them at the same time before. And kittens require a LOT of patience.

But they’re sweet and cuddly and are full of life and love. So I think we’ll keep ‘em. But the next time I make the decision to adopt a coupla kittens right before Christmas when we’re expecting a houseful of guests? I’m thinkin’ I’ll have to distract myself with a glass of red wine. A big one. Yeah, and I’ll drink it out of one of our crystal wineglasses. That should do it! And if it doesn’t, all I’ll need to do is take a quick gander at our surely by-then shredded leather recliner.