Monthly Archives: October 2012

Illness and the Joys of TV

Janet and I have been together for a little over 4 years now and I’ve never seen her sick.  Me?  I get sick all the time; I blame the lazy inner Jenn for most illnesses.  I think lazyjenn convinces my immune system to go out back and smoke while the diseases crawl into my system so I can lie around reading, working on Sudoku and watching TV.  I don’t know for sure, though, this is just a theory.

I’ve seen Janet tired, have an upset stomach or a headache, or with various stiff joints and a sore back.  But I’ve never seen her sick; until Tuesday.  It’s incredibly unnerving to have someone as driven and industrious as Janet lie in bed, not moving, for an entire day.  I kept calling downstairs, but don’t worry hell hasn’t frozen over, not yet anyway; we’ll see on November the 6th.

I kept checking on her, throughout the day, putting a mirror under her nose, asking her if she needed anything when she knocked the mirror away.  I asked her a couple of times too many because she gave me a look that said, ‘please go away and shut the door.’  She didn’t say it, I was proud of her, she held it in.  She wasn’t feeling well enough for snarky comments. She is now, though, I can tell you.

She woke up early the next morning and took a shower.  Oh good, I thought, the Janet of old.  No matter what day it is, Janet jumps up and takes a shower so she’s ready for the day.  Me?  Not so much.  And when Jessie and I are together?  Not at all.  Jessie and I are usually up and ready to go shopping at noon if that sounds any better.  Doesn’t really, does it?

Janet, on Wednesday morning, wouldn’t even entertain the thought of eating, even after I brought her a carefully prepared morning cracker.  It wasn’t even a saltine but a buttery delicious ritz cracker.  I tried to show her how tasty they were but I started running out of crackers.  I guess that only works on little kids.

On Tuesday night, after Janet barely moved all day, she came out into the front room and sat on the chair for a few minutes.  I was excited because I was finally convinced she was going to make it!  We talked and laughed and decided to go back to bed to watch something on Netflix.

A few weeks ago, Janet and I finally finished watching all the Bones episodes.  It took us a while; we even had another season join our queue before we managed to finish.  We’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to decide what show, if any, we wanted to start to replace the beloved Bones marathon.  We decided to start ‘Damages’.

I love Glenn Close.  She is one of my all time favorites.  Besides the unfortunate bunny incident, I have enjoyed her roles and look forward to her next project.  I’ve heard good things about Damages and was eager to get started.  I was not expecting, however, for the show to start out like it did.  I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going on in Damages, even though we’ve only seen 3 episodes now, and I love every minute of it.

I have no clue who’s really a bad guy and who’s good.  The show follows the terrific formula of dropping the viewer right in the middle of a major conflict, and, guess what?!, we’ll explain it all later!  It’s jarring to see actors you enjoy watching (Glenn Close, Ted Danson) play characters which are not very nice at all.  At least I think they’re not nice, I’m not sure, I’ll have to wait and see.

The reason I enjoy watching Glenn is because she makes me feel things and I don’t mean make me laugh or cry, although she has done that, too.  When I see her character on the screen now, I feel a little bit of nervousness, in the pit of my stomach, a feeling of: what is she going to do now?  I love it and I wish other actors and actresses could thoroughly take over characters the way she can.

I’m so glad we chose Damages as our next marathon viewing session and I’m pretty sure there aren’t over a hundred episodes, like Bones, for us to watch.  I hope we can squeeze in an episode or two tonight.  If only we had more time to watch TV.  Hmmm…I think I feel a head cold coming on.

jenn

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To Be or Not To Be (Fit)

Janet and I have decided something important: enough is enough.  We are bound and determined to become healthier, even if it kills us.  We looked up, past our sugar glazed eyes, past the snack wrappers and crumbs forming our outlines on the ground, and didn’t like what we saw.

All joking aside (just for the moment), Janet and I had gotten incredibly lazy.  While we haven’t gained much weight, we’ve lost what little muscle mass we were clinging to, before we came to California, and now have no stamina when it comes to anything resembling cardio activity.

It boils down to this: do we want to be fit (we’ll never be Jillian fit, but I would like to walk up a flight of stairs without sounding like an asthmatic running in the middle of a wildfire) or do we want to be lazy and unhealthy (since I’m inherently lazy, I’m leaning toward the latter but Janet, bless her little heart, is leaning toward the former)?

After much debate, and many cheeseburgers and ice cream sandwiches, Janet and I decided to make a choice, because, really, life is all about choices: we want to live long and healthy lives.  If we sit in front of the TV most nights, doing nothing but walking to and from the fridge that is a choice we are making.

Another choice would be to go down to the gym and walk on the treadmill while watching our favorite shows or, better yet, jog on the treadmill while watching TV.  I’ve learned I can get through an entire magazine in one sitting if I just go down and use the stationary bicycle while I read it.

We started off slow figuring walking on the treadmill is a good start before we moved ourselves outside.  (Because hey, look! the ground moves for me on a treadmill.)  Our main goal was to work our way up to jogging an entire 5k and what’s the best way for us to get serious about jogging?  That’s right.  We need to spend a little money as an incentive.

We signed up for a jingle bell run to be held in the Seattle area the first weekend in December.  I know we’ll take this seriously because Janet and I really don’t like embarrassing ourselves in front of other people.  You’d think we’d be used to it by now, what with all the practice, but it’s just not true.

I thought, when we first started our attempts at jogging, there’s no way I’ll be able to jog for 3 solid miles without stopping for multiple breaks but then Janet had a brilliant idea.  Janet works with a group of ladies who have thoroughly embraced the idea of running.  Why don’t we join them while we’re here in Sactown?

Since I got the distinct impression this was a rhetorical question, I said YES, let’s definitely do that!  Then she explained their schedule which included running laps at a local high school track on Tuesdays and running stairs in a local parking garage on Thursdays.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

We’ve gone with them now for a couple of weeks and I can honestly say I don’t like to jog.  Janet’s co-workers love it and are really great at it, they are an inspiration to me every time I see them running, but it’s not my favorite thing to do.  However, I can say how much I enjoy how it makes me feel when I stop.

I wish I could truly express how much better I feel when I spend several hours a week jogging versus when I don’t but I’ll try.  Just walking up the two flights of stairs to my room is becoming easier to do; most times I don’t even think about it now.  Going for a walk is so much easier and not something to dread anymore (we used to walk a lot, but not recently).

When I’m writing, or walking down to the gym, or going to get the mail, or just sitting around watching TV, I feel so much more alive now than I did before.  I feel my body changing and I feel and look stronger through my posture and mental attitude.  I feel more in control and my confidence in myself has grown over the past few weeks.

I know how easy it is to fall off the workout wagon, but I will try my hardest to keep on the straight and narrow path.  I don’t want to lose this feeling because, once it fades, it’s hard to remember what it felt like.  I’ve now incorporated working out into my life; it’s just another item on my daily list of things to do.  If I can hold onto my new habit, I can do just about anything.

We’re putting off doing the stairs until tomorrow night because the Seahawks are playing tonight.  So, if you happen to watch any of the game, realize that I’m watching the game with you.  I’ll be watching from the gym, jogging on the treadmill, hootin’ and hollerin’ at the screen.  Where will you be?  Go Seahawks!

jenn

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Sundays, Happiness, and Retirement

Yesterday was almost a perfect day in Jenn’s World.  First off, I just love Sundays, especially during football season.  I spend most of my week pretending to be busy and industrious, it is incredibly tiring, but I throw away that façade on Sunday morning.

Yesterday, Janet and I got up late, the best way to start a Sunday, and went out to an area called Apple Hills near Placerville, CA.  If you’re ever in Sacramento in the fall and you suddenly decide, ‘Hey!  Let’s go to Lake Tahoe!’, please stop by this area about 45 minutes east of Sactown.  I can’t even begin to express how much fun we had.

In the Apple Hill area, there are over 50 farms with specialties in Christmas trees, various berries, a spa, wineries, breweries, and…you guessed it…apples!  As you can imagine, the 3 orchards we visited sold all kinds of things made from apples: apple cider, apple sauce, pies, cakes and our personal favorite: the apple cider doughnut.  Yum.

We spent the morning strolling through the trees, perusing the apples and pears, buying Christmas presents (which is just around the corner for those of you keeping track), and eating our way into nirvana.  It was a wonderful way to start the day.

We made it home in time to spend the afternoon watching football.  Now, this would have been a perfect day had we been able to watch the Seahawks game on our TV, but it wasn’t meant to be.  We could have gone to a sports bar to watch the game, but we didn’t want to spend the money (curse you, Budge!).

Since Janet is from the New England area (Connecticut is one of the original 13), I always enjoy watching the Patriots and Seahawks play.  It usually doesn’t end well for the Seahawks; but it ended well on Sunday!  Janet will always root for New England, she has to, it’s on her birth certificate, but I think she’s finally starting to enjoy watching the Seahawks play.

I’d like to think it’s because I sit on her and force her to watch the games, but I have a sneaking suspicion Janet really likes the new quarterback: Russell Wilson.  I’m rather fond of him myself.  I’m so thrilled the Seahawks are 4-2.  We could lose next week and still be above .500; how often does that happen?!

Today, to spread cream cheese frosting on the delicious red velvet cupcake of a day I had yesterday, I went to CVS and Walgreens and spent $21.01 on several items, and saved $42.83 on those same items!  Nothing gets my small cold heart chirping with delight faster than saving twice as much as I spent.

Now Budge is lovin’ on me.  I try and keep track of sales and coupons but it’s hard when you’re as busy as I am.  You have no idea how much time it takes to look and act this busy.  I do know this: when I track my spending, I’m much more likely to use coupons on sale items and I’m one small step closer to the ever elusive retirement for Janet.

jenn

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True Love and the Butter Puddle

There’s no better feeling than being loved.  Loving someone is nice too but, if it’s not reciprocated, it can be quite creepy.  But to love and be loved back, just as ferociously, is a truly wonderful feeling.  The one problem with being loved: how do you know if it’s real?

I don’t like to play emotional games, not even a little bit.  I don’t have the time nor the energy to wade through the maze of emotional turmoil if you just want to know how I’ll respond if you drop dead.  I’m way too lazy to spend a lot of time jumping through hoops so you feel better about the depth of my love.

A friend once told me, after hearing Joss Stone’s ‘Super Duper Love’ for the first time, “That song reminded me of you: I can see you being with someone for a while and them not knowing if you loved them or not.”  Hey!  What?  After she told me that, and I absorbed what she meant, I decided I wasn’t going to be that type of person any longer.

When I met Janet, I told myself I wouldn’t hold back any of my love emotions when I was around her.  I have a lot of emotions surging through my body, and I try to stifle those, but I wanted Janet to know how much I love her.  I never wanted her to question how I felt about her.  I never wanted a small slight or comment to disrupt our happy Queendom because one of us was unsure of the other’s love.

I know how much I love Janet and I try and show her every chance I get.  But how does Janet know I love her unconditionally and totally?  Since I don’t like to play emotional games, and neither does Janet, we had to confirm our love to each other, early on, in more subtle ways.

We had overtly obvious devices to show our love: Janet and I would send each other Hallmark eCards that were lovey-dovey and give each other chocolate and flowers on Valentine’s Day.  I’ve always thought Valentine’s Day was highly over-rated.  We have just the one day of the year to celebrate our love and we share that day with all the other people on the planet?  That doesn’t seem right.

We had some over the top sweet ways to show our love:  We used to send emails with links to videos of certain songs whose lyrics we thought perfectly captured the essence of our undying love.  But how do you know those feelings aren’t just infatuation or (better yet) lust?

There are a couple of sure fire ways to tell if someone is a keeper or not, at least in Jenn’s Big Book on Life, and the first one is the car door unlock test.  Now, this one used to be a surefire test but has waned in the last decade of so with the advent of the keyless car entry.  It used to be like this:  If you walk around and open the door for your girl, and wait for her to settle in before slamming the door on her, does she leans over to unlock your door for you?  Yes?  She’s a keeper.

This one doesn’t work very well, at least not for Janet and me.  With our fancy key FOB, one hit unlocks the driver door and two hits unlock all the doors.  Janet has been missing the second unlock-all-the-doors-please hit and so I have to stand outside until Janet realizes I’m not actually in the car but standing patiently by the side.  I’m not concerned though, at this point I know she loves me.  I constantly remind myself of that fact when I’m outside in the cold and the rain waiting for her to see me standing there.

This test also doesn’t work well with our full size pickup truck, even though the locks are manual.  When Janet lets me into my side, I physically can’t lean over and unlock the door for her; not with the three or four feet I’d have to crawl over to get to her lock and the fact my arms are about three or four inches shorter than normal people.  Janet and Jessie, our daughter, don’t call me T-Rex for nothin’.

The second test is the sharing test. There are a couple acts we do for each other that leave no doubt as to our feelings.  It’s in these simple but powerful sharing acts, acts so powerful no one within a five mile radius can ignore, that our love shines its brightest and we both get a tiny glimpse into the true depth of love.  Of course I’m talking about the sharing of Cracker Jack peanuts and the Butter Puddle.

Janet and I went to a Mariner’s game the other night and we bought a bag of Cracker Jacks from a vendor outside Safeco Field.  Neither of us had eaten Cracker Jacks in years and we talked about how much we enjoyed them as kids; especially the peanuts.  When we got close to the bottom of the bag, Janet reached in and scooped up a big handful of mostly peanuts.

I looked at Janet and told her, ‘you scored, look at all those peanuts!’  She promptly turned toward me and gave me her handful of peanuts while telling me, ‘I know how much you love these, I want you to eat them.’  Deep, serious, enormous love here people.

When Janet and I first met and went on our first date, dinner of course, we talked about a lot of things.  One of the things which stood out, one of our more interesting conversations, was when Janet told me about the Butter Puddle.  If you go to IHOP and order pancakes, they serve them on a plate with a scoop of butter right in the middle.  When the butter melts it seeps into the pancake and creates, according to Janet and many others, a delicious buttery bite of deliciousness: the Butter Puddle.

Until I met Janet, I had foolishly removed the butter from my pancakes as soon as I could in my ignorant haste to conserve my calorie count.  But after our conversation, I left the butter on and let it work its magic.  I can honestly say: the Butter Puddle is now one of my favorite things to put in my mouth.  Pancake + Butter + Syrup = a slice of heaven so good it should probably be illegal.  It might be in New York City and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in the south.

About six months into our relationship, we went to have breakfast at IHOP and I ordered a short stack.  When our food arrived, I let the butter melt and then I offered it to Janet.  Her eyes got ginormous and she said she didn’t want it; I should go ahead and eat it myself.  I insisted and when she went to cut the Butter Puddle out, she gave me that look.  I’ve seen that look a few times in the past four years.

It’s the look she gets when she realizes, fully realizes, how much I love her.  It’s the look of love, gratefulness, admiration, and a little lust wrapped up in her eyes.  It’s not that she forgets, I tell her all the time how much I love her, it’s just that it’s hard to remember how much until she’s staring down the barrel of the IHOP short stack.  I don’t constantly have to remind her of my love, deep down, she already knows how much I love her.  I just gave her my Butter Puddle.

jenn

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Advertising Mayhem

I was downstairs this morning, on the treadmill, feeling sorry for myself and watching TV.  I was feeling sorry for myself because: 1) I was on the treadmill and not sleeping, 2) my calves love to cramp up when I’m moving, 3) last night’s debates didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, and 4) according to the ads I was watching, the advertisers thought I was a bleeding heart liberal who needed a lawyer, a 4 hour erection and a catheter (hopefully not at the same time).

Having a TV on the treadmill is a wonderful thing, in my humble opinion, and I thank the person or company who first introduced the concept.  I enjoy concentrating on a TV show instead of only concentrating on staying upright or on the hairy guy at the free weights trying to amaze me with his manly strength.

When I’m watching TV on the treadmill, versus in my living room with its various distractions, I’m a completely captivated audience for advertisements of all kinds.  I’m just glad advertisers haven’t figured out a way to bombard my treadmill with commercials.  I understand the concept of targeting commercials for specific groups you think are watching specific shows, but it’s a little annoying when you don’t fit into that little box.

Just so you know, I was watching NOW with Alex Wagner, so the ad agencies knew, generally, who they were dealing with but it seemed like they couldn’t tell if more women or men watched Miss Wagner’s show.  The ads started out geared toward women in the beginning showing long, tear inducing commercials about atrocities in the world aimed squarely at children and animals designed to get the checkbooks out.

About half way, I noticed more commercials specifically for men: Viagra commercials and a lot of showings of an ad dealing with self lubricating catheters for men.  Apparently, they come in discreet sizes you men can slip into your pockets and we’re none the wiser!  I wish TV ads were site specific and had a Hulu-like question:  Is this ad showing an older man and his wife in bathtubs relevant to you?  No, it is not.  Thanks for the input!

I don’t dislike every ad I see, I must admit.  Ever since I saw the little Darth Vader magically starting up the VW, I have marveled at the ability of an ad to give me a warm fuzzy feeling about a particular product.  That ad made me realize a great commercial doesn’t even need to really be about the product to be good.  The little Darth Vader could have been promoting anything: electric fireplaces, stereo systems, fans, etc.

Ever since little Darth Vader made his premier on Super Duper Sunday, I’ve been paying attention to ad campaigns and there are quite a few out there I really enjoy.  Why?  Probably because I’ve always thought it might be fun to work in the advertising business.  Here are a couple I enjoy:

Mayhem:  Hands down, my favorite series of ads.  Dean Winters, BKA ‘Mayhem’ puts himself in hysterical and perilous positions to mimic accident causing detriments.  From a filthy rich executive in a $90k car, to the young girl ‘OMG’ texter, to a raccoon chewing up the house, to (my favorite) the blindspot mayhem yelling, ‘you’re good!, these Mayhem commercials make me laugh out loud.

Allstate must have a million of these commercials in their arsenal.  All they have to do is look at their claims, right?  Allstate has made a seriously funny attempt to explain how one must be prepared for crazy stuff because, just look, crazy stuff does happen.

VW: Not only is little Darth cute, but most of the ads for VW are interesting and entertaining.  From the ‘is it fast’ guy (Janet and I have talked about putting flames on the Prius) evolving over his lifetime; the commercial with everyone, from young to old, laughing called ‘it’s not the miles, it’s how you live them’; the ‘rockin’ out’ commercial where the guy is stopped at a light playing the air drums; to our new favorite commercial of the moment: the ‘bad dog’ commercial where a guy’s dog eats his keys.

These ads are trying to depict owning a VW as more than just owning a car to get you from A to B; owning a VW is as much a part of your life as laughing, and growing up, and evolving.

Play Madden NFL 13: featuring Ray Lewis and Paul Rudd.  Okay, I might like this group of ads because I’m a football fan, but I find them really funny.  Ray & Paul make me laugh out loud, especially when Paul is taunting Ray.  I’m glad these are scripted because I’m pretty sure Ray Lewis would stomp on Paul Rudd in real life.  I love it when athletes can make fun of themselves and Ray giving Paul credit for teaching him the ‘squirrel’ made me grin from ear to ear.

Another great example of athletes making fun of themselves is Peyton Manning.  Peyton is such a serious football player, everything on the field is so by the book, so, when I see him in his commercials and he’s poking fun at himself, I just love it.

Do these ad campaigns work?  Who knows.  I don’t own a VW or a Madden NFL game, nor do I have Allstate as my insurance carrier.  But if I was in the market for a car or new insurance and two companies were in a virtual tie…I might lean toward a company whose ads make me laugh and feel good, even for a fleeting minute.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of checks to write.

jenn

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