Warning: Plot Complication! Warning: Plot Complication!

Well it was bound to happen eventually. I like the blogs I follow, go figure.  I enjoy reading others’ comments or responses to my comments.  That’s natural, right?  But I suppose I shouldn’t have gotten so comfortable doing it on my phone while sitting next to JD.

Yesterday I shared a post from the blog dearlilyjune which I follow and I was reviewing and clearing the likes when JD asked what I was doing.  Well I fibbed slightly, and said I was reading comments on a blog post.  I say “fibbed” mainly because I didn’t say it was my blog post, and if you want to get technical I guess it wasn’t a fib at all.  All I did was share it, I didn’t write it.  Way to justify a fib Janey!

Anyway, it isn’t the first time I’ve used that response when in actuality I’ve been reading comments on my own posts.  This time however, JD trumped my fib and said that since I liked reading other people’s blogs so much why didn’t I write one of my own?

Falling back on an old excuse, I claimed I just didn’t have the time to write a blog.  JD pointed out I could spare five or ten minutes on the train in the morning (WTF? Is he spying on me?) or after work before dinner.  Then, because I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the last I heard of it, I admitted I had started a blog some time ago, but that it was now gathering cobwebs due to the aforementioned lack of time.  I remarked that perhaps I could dig up the log in information and check out where I’d left it and possibly fire it up again.

I’m not sure whether I will revisit my old stomping grounds but if I do I’ll have to sanitize the existing posts so there’s nothing offensive or too revealing of family.  Because you know if he realizes I’m blogging he’s going to take credit for it and want to read it.

It would be an interesting challenge to see whether I can keep two blogs afloat.

And if you don’t “get” today’s title, check this out – the applicable reference is about 2:11 into the video.  You’re welcome.

 

 

Catch-22

I’m inclined to blame JD for my laziness and sedentary lifestyle. Where’s the 40-something mother of four who rode her bicycle to the grocery store when her car broke down? Who went out dancing with her friends?  Who used a push mower to clean up the yard?  She’s hiding under multiple layers of fat that’s where.  Not that I was ever skinny.  But it was such a treat to find myself able to wear size 14 the summer before I met him!  I know, I know, 14 isn’t all that small by society’s standards.  Well fuck society – I looked damn good in a 14!  It was the first time in my life I can remember feeling good about myself.  And I let it all slip away after meeting JD.

But, if I’m honest with myself, I was predisposed to be slothlike. As a child, as a teen, hell as a young adult it was just easier to do nothing.  Don’t go anywhere or do anything that could result in rejection or humiliation. I learned that reading was safe. Books wouldn’t laugh at me or make fun of me.  Seriously, when your so-called friends invite you to play Follow the Leader specifically so they can follow you, watching your flab bounce and exaggeratedly copying your less than graceful movements while roaring with laughter, how can you be expected to trust anyone?  And why would you want to go outside ever again?

I know they were just kids but I was just a kid too, and at the time had no sort of support or positive influence to counter how they treated me.  We lived with our grandparents then and had no idea where our mother was or if we’d ever see her again.  And yes, that grandfather, the abuser; so yeah, books were my refuge, my solace.

And you know what happens when you read all the time?  Remember this was the 1970s; there were no audio books except for blind people maybe; no Kindles or other e-readers.  So when you read you sat or lay down and held a real life book.  Every spare minute I was reading which meant every spare minute I was sitting or lying down.  Of course I gained weight!  The longer you live that way the easier it gets.  Or perhaps I should say the harder it gets to break out of it.

After JD and I got together our dates consisted mostly of going out to eat – there’s his Jewish heritage coming into play.  He’s fond of saying he was raised around Jews, Italians, etc.  They all loved to eat and every family or neighborhood gathering had food as its focus.  Back then I was raising three girls on a relatively low income and we rarely got to eat out beyond the occasional fast food or Papa Murphy’s pizza.  (I know Papa Murphy’s isn’t “eating out” but it meant I didn’t have to cook so it was the equivalent in my book.)  In any case I lapped up the nice restaurants, buffets and late night dessert runs like a cat addressing a bowl of cream.

In addition, he’d injured his leg badly a few years before and wasn’t up for dancing – my favorite form of exercise back then.  It became easier and easier to sit for long periods.  When we moved to Washington the long dark and dreary winters further drained any desire to get up, get out and do something besides work, eat and sleep!

So nearly 20 years later, I’m not wearing a size 14 and I’m still struggling with how to rekindle a desire to move.  My friend bequeathed her bicycle to me and I’ve ridden it exactly once.  Granted, it still needs to be adjusted for my height and none of the tools we have work on the one last part we need to raise.  But it was also HARD!  I remember riding a bike around our little farm and it wasn’t easy then, but it seemed a lot more comfortable than this one test ride I took.  I don’t want to give up on this.  Seeing my mother-in-law nearly bedridden with grossly swollen legs because she gradually stopped moving has me scared.  I don’t want to be there in another 20 years.  I don’t want to be reliant on the kindness of nursing staff or the diligence of my children monitoring said nursing staff.

I want to be independent and feel good for as long as possible.  I don’t care about the size I wear any more (so I tell myself at any rate) I’d just like to find the right motivation to get myself up off my ass and moving, even if that merely means a walk around the block to start.  I see my mother-in-law’s predicament and the light bulb goes on over my head – this is the inspiration I needed!  Sadly, nothing has changed much.  I tried walking in the parking garage last week (my co-workers and I go there to stay dry and the ramps help work multiple muscle groups, or so the theory goes).  But that morning I stumbled on the train and again that evening I nearly lost my footing as I managed to hop aboard the train just as the doors were closing.  The next day I was struggling to just get out of bed.  I do take the stairs now when I’m only going up or down one floor.  My knees can’t handle more than a floor at a time these days.

Another result of losing movement is that my house is a mess.  Some days this bothers me more than the fact I breathe hard after a single flight of stairs.  I used to be a decent housekeeper, damn it.  It was still cluttered enough to be comfortable but I swept regularly and mopped floors.  I didn’t do windows much or clean my oven regularly, but unexpected company wouldn’t have to hold their noses or clear off furniture to sit down.  Now I find HUGE dust bunnies inhabiting strange places, and cobwebs drape gracefully from the ceiling in various locations.  Now, I get by with the least housework I can get away with.

And I hate that I’ve come to this point.  I want to be that 40-something woman again, with the energy and stamina to work full time and keep her house neat and play with her kids, now grandkids.  How do I find my way back to her?

Without getting off the couch I mean?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To bring you up to date

It’s been eleven days since Mom was admitted to the hospital.  For the past week they have said every day that they think she’s almost ready to transfer to a skilled nursing facility.  On the one hand we’d like to see her moved because that’s a sign that things are progressing.  On the other we want to be sure she’s ready to be moved.  Duh.

When she developed a raspy, wet cough we were concerned about bronchitis or pneumonia but she never ran a fever and her oxygen levels have remained in the normal range.  They eventually started her on cough medicine and when we visited the other evening she sounded much better.  I was still surprised yesterday to learn they were moving her to the nursing facility.  I guess I got so used to hearing they wanted to observe/evaluate her overnight that I wasn’t prepared to hear she was ready to go.

The nursing facility is not as convenient as the hospital was for visiting.  After work I would request a ride via Uber and off I’d go, arriving at the hospital within 10 minutes.  Then I’d visit a while with Mom, waiting for JD and SIL to arrive.  We usually stayed for a couple of hours, grabbing a bite in the hospital cafeteria or a coffee from the Starbucks in the lobby at some point in the evening.  We don’t make it home till nearly 9 and by then I’m ready for bed.  On top of that schedule, I haven’t been sleeping well – go figure.

No way I can visit the nursing home like that.  I understand it needs to be closer to where Mom lives with my sister and brother in law but we won’t get to visit except on weekends.  Visiting here in Seattle every night exhausts me.  No way I can travel up to Lynnwood after work, visit a couple hours and then head home.

Lest I fail to look on the bright side – this IS a good sign!

On to other news …

The other day I had some time on my hands and I was looking for a wide version of my favorite wall paper:

Not now Jack

The old one doesn’t work on my new monitors.

I couldn’t find this exact wallpaper for wide dual monitors but here’s one I did find:

imperial_stormtrooper-wallpaper-1920x1080

It looks so much cooler on my monitors than it does here!

Finally, on Tuesday we had a department white elephant holiday party.  Pizza and dessert were eaten; gifts were opened and some were even traded.  There was a lot of laughter.  Here’s what I’ll be taking home:

20151215_134217

Um, yeah, I am so ready for this weekend.  Too bad it’s only Thursday.

I Wanna Be Loved Like That

I’m well aware of the stats, or at least what they used to be – that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  For all the attention I pay to statistics, they could now be higher…or lower (wouldn’t that be nice?).  There are countless articles, opinions, workshops, even sermons on why so many marriages fail and how we can ensure ours won’t.  Knowledge is power after all, isn’t it?  Isn’t it?

When we marry, we take vows.  Or to put it another way, we make promises.  Promises that, at the time of their utterance, we have every intention of keeping.  So what happens to make us change our minds?  Why do we break those promises?  I wish I could tell you I had the answers, but I’d be lying.  For each person I’m sure it’s different.  And for each person, I’m just as certain that they think they have excellent reasons for breaking those promises.  Don’t we excel at justifying ourselves?  Our choices?  Or is that just me?

In my opinion, what it comes down to is putting SELF first.  Often, we put ourselves as individuals before ourselves as a couple.  MY needs, MY feelings, MY opinions, etc., are important damn it!

I’ve made it no secret that JD and I have marriage issues now and then.  Show me another couple who have been together for 18 years and I’ll show you a couple who have had issues.  Every couple encounters some friction if they’re together long enough.  I don’t mean that every couple argues or has knock-down brawls.  But even without overt signs, I’d have trouble believing any couple who say they’re perfectly content ALL. THE. TIME.

What is it then that sends one partner over the edge to divorce?  JD’s first wife left him in the middle of the night while he was at work.  It was a complete surprise to him that she was unhappy.  Consequently, he had difficulty trusting again.  When JD and I were still early in our marriage I told him there were only two things that would make me leave him.  Abuse or infidelity.  I even made light of the possibility of infidelity by claiming that I don’t share well.  I don’t give up easily (my first marriage lasted 15 years before I threw in the towel).

Recently I was reminded how much JD loves me.  When I made the connection between the action and the feeling behind it, I re-discovered why I am still with this man after all this time and all our struggles.

I may have mentioned here at some point that he rarely sleeps well.  He’s usually up till the wee hours watching old television shows or movies, surfing the internet or researching something or other.  The other day he had been awake all night, lying down shortly before my alarm went off.  I did my usual groaning and moaning as I shut it off and got started.  A short time later I was in the kitchen doling out our vitamins, his prescription meds, my anti-inflammatories, etc.  That morning I was also opening a packet of sinus pain reliever to add to my collection.  In the struggle to get those blasted caplets out of their plastic and foil prison I bumped the container holding my other pills, sending it to the floor where the contents scattered.  As you might imagine, I was not pleased and muttered something along the lines of “Damn!” then started gathering them up.  From the bedroom JD asked what was wrong.  While looking for the one pill I of course couldn’t find, I explained what I’d done, and that one of the dropped pills was missing.  Since we have a dog who will literally eat anything, I couldn’t ignore that one stray pill but it wasn’t anywhere I looked.  I even reached under the stove to see if it had rolled under the edge.  All I found there was evidence of what a bad housekeeper I’ve turned into.  But that’s a different story.

Without being asked, JD got out of bed and without any complaining he joined me in the kitchen. Once there, he pulled out the drawer at the bottom of the stove and there was the missing pill!  It had rolled further under the stove than I could reach with the drawer in place.  I quickly retrieved it so he wouldn’t have to hold the drawer any longer than necessary.  Forget that the pill had been safe all along from doggy ingestion.  I didn’t know it was out of her reach and I would have been worried about it all day.  JD’s selflessness put my mind at rest.  He put me first despite his exhaustion.  That, my friends, is love.

Today on my commute this song came on my player and it reminded me of the other morning, and emphasized that I am a very lucky woman.  Whether or not you like country music, I think you can appreciate the words.  I wish you all a love like this.

Things NOT to do

Laughter is wonderful isn’t it?  Especially those deep, carry-you-away laughs that you can’t seem to stop.  And the endorphin release?  Yes!  I love laughing.  But I’m a horrible grandmother.  I know – how did I get there from here?  Let me tell you a story…

A couple of weeks ago JD and I went and picked up the grandson’s birthday present.  Grandson was turning 13 and we wanted to make sure to get it in the mail early enough so he’d get it on time.  It also needed to arrive unbroken so we took it to the UPS store and paid more to have it safely packed and shipped than the remote-control helicopter cost in the first place!

Friday after work JD and I were heading out to do errands and grab a bite of dinner.  My cell phone rings and the caller ID says “Private Number”.  Now I don’t usually answer the phone if I don’t know who’s calling, but a few days before I’d been on the phone with the Grandson to be sure the package had arrived when UPS said it would and I knew the other grandparents’ phone number showed up as “Private Number” so I took the call.

After confirming he had reached the correct number, Grandson started off saying something like, “You know that helicopter you got me?”  I acknowledged that I did, expecting him to offer his thanks but his next words were totally unexpected.

“Well, it flew away.”

Dead silence at my end for two or three seconds and then I was laughing – huge, belly-hurting laughs.  And Grandson is continuing in my ear that when he ran inside and told his other Grandma it had flown away she laughed and laughed too which made me laugh all the more.

We are horrible grandparents!  Just horrible.  But whenever I think about that little helicopter* disappearing into the sky I still find myself chuckling.

*The helicopter was intended for indoor use but the other Grandpa wouldn’t let him fly it in the house and Grandson didn’t realize it was meant for indoor ONLY.  Poor kid.

Gravitational Pull

Recently, fellow blogger AGMA made some observations about dating in the modern age, including a reference to the “spark” in a relationship.  You can check out her post here.  That post, combined with some of the comments and a song in my playlist rotation made me take a closer look at my marriage of almost 17 years.

JD and I regularly ask each other why.  Why do you love me?  Why are we still together after all the fuck ups?  And by fuck ups I don’t mean cheating – to my knowledge neither of us has strayed.  Who the hell would put up with us?  By fuck ups I mean the several thousand dollar purchase we made online that turned out to be worthless; or the loss of our home and land after struggling several years to save it.  And then there’s JD’s depression which can still obscure almost everything else at times.  Not to mention that we often disagree about finances.  (I would never have bought a 50” television on my own!)

So what does keep us together?  It’s an interesting question and I’m not sure I’ll ever have an answer that makes sense.  But Chris Ledoux’s song calls it gravitational pull.  That works for me.

Mmmemories

In today’s Daily Post, Robyn talked about a recent birthday and went on to suggest five different post ideas based on nostalgia.  One of those was to write about a food that reminds you of your youth.  She didn’t say it had to be a pleasant memory and the best I can do is sort of a mixed memory, if you follow me.

I wish I could write that the tantalizing scent of steak on the grill brings back memories of an idyllic childhood.  I adore steak and would love it if it were tied to my memories in some way.  Well, technically I guess it is – as an adult I’ve made lots of good memories around steak!  What’s not to love?

One of the few clear memories I have of childhood returns whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers.  I don’t remember how old I was the first time this classic dish triggered the memory.  What I recall is the punch in the gut that came along with the homey aroma.  On the night my grandmother brought us home to live with her the pungent odor of their dinner permeated the house, overshadowing most other impressions.

While I don’t remember what year it was, I know my brother was pre-school age and that made me somewhere between 8 and 10 years old.  I’m not surprised I don’t remember how old I was; I blocked out a lot over the years.

After walking down the short front hall I dimly recall entering a warmly lit living room.  Straight ahead was the glass door exiting to the backyard.  It was pitch black and we wouldn’t see the yard until the next day.  The dining room opened off of the main room to the right.  It included the standard table and chairs plus a matching sideboard and opened into the kitchen.  The furnishings were probably as typical of the mid-1960’s as the floor plan was of the suburban housing development they lived in.  In the living area I want to say my grandfather was perched on his recliner like a member of the royal family, but I honestly have no idea whether the recliner was there then or added later.  And truthfully, I can’t remember seeing my grandfather at all that night, though I must have.

All of those memories were made before I lost that little girl I used to be.  Young Janey was so happy that night!  And perhaps a teensy bit scared.  She didn’t really know these people.  It’s possible they were familiar but that memory eludes me today.

For what seemed like years and years little Janey and her younger brother had lived with a beastly woman, left behind by their own mother.  I don’t think I used the word abandoned for what our mother did until I was much older, maybe even an adult.  But that’s exactly what she did.  I still have no clue how long we actually stayed with our mother’s “friend” before our grandmother found and rescued us.  It could have been mere weeks or actual years for all I know.

The clarity of that memory has dulled some over the years, but whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers I remember that night.  Sometimes I recognize it as the happy, hopeful time it was then.  Other times I cringe, knowing it was the beginning of the end of my innocence.  I can’t change what happened there, but I can acknowledge that it wasn’t all bad.

Now (Janey says, rubbing her hands together gleefully) who wants steak!?

Fortune Cookie Friday

Hey everyone it’s that time again!  I know you were all waiting for it so here it is!

Last night we said screw the budget and went to the Pho Grill near our house for dinner (it really isn’t screwing the budget, it’s very reasonable).  This eatery is akin to a Mongolian BBQ style restaurant.  You fill a bowl with your choice of ingredients, hand it to the guy at the grill and wait, trying not to drool as he cooks your dinner.  I’ve never been a big fan of this kind of place but something about this little store-front establishment just hits the right spot.

There was a new hostess/waitress last night and I don’t remember her name but she was very friendly.  In addition to being conscientious about clearing used dishes, she stopped by our table several times to check on us and chat.

Anyway, back to our theme.  Because we made her laugh she gave us each two fortune cookies and it’s a good thing, because one of mine was empty!  Since we waited till we got home to open them I was able to overreact quite melodramatically to JD’s amusement.  The other cookie’s fortune said this:

Genius 2

Wise words.  Think about it.  If you give up you’ll never know what you could have accomplished, right?

Then there was this in one of JD’s cookies:

Give what you have

The phrasing is awkward but he agreed with it.  If you insert “else” after someone it sounds a little better.  JD said it was like us.  He gives me what he has, which he doesn’t consider much and it always flummoxes him that I find it valuable.  Even at his most frustrating I love that man.

His other fortune was also appropriate:

Happiness

 

I like the message here and while I don’t think JD will take it to heart, every little reminder I can get in front of him is welcome.

May the sun shine on you and yours this weekend.  Oh, and

O   !!!!

 

What Kind of Idea Are You?

This week’s writing challenge at The Blacklight Candelabra intrigued me, and truth be told, intimidated me a bit.  For a few moments I was thrown back into the “I’m not a real writer” mindset.  A real writer would understand this challenge a lot better than I did.  Plus I never read Satanic Verses so I have no idea of the context.  Based on the instructions though, that may not be as important as I think it is.  In spite of my concerns, I copied the challenge into a Word document, highlighted a couple of (I thought) pertinent phrases and opened it a few times during the day to re-read it.  Then I read one of the responses already posted and added that to my already buzzing brain.  Here goes nothing.

I think ideas are fluid – they change or evolve as they develop.  Or perhaps what I mean to say is they should be fluid.  So compromise would seem to be one means of an idea changing or growing, right?.  What happens if there is no compromise?  No bending or growing?  Rushdie said it plainly enough:  “smashed to bits.”  Sometimes that’s the way I feel when discussing ideas with JD.  He sees things one way:  HIS.

And wouldn’t you know he’s an expert on just about Every. Damn. Thing?  From scrambling eggs to alternative healing to the cost of oil to the political crisis-of-the-day.  He knows everything there is to know about everything worth knowing – in his opinion.  Dare to disagree with one of his ideas and prepare to be disparaged for your foolishness.  His baby sister lives dangerously by voting Democrat and having the audacity to proclaim that with an Obama sticker on her foreign car.  Oh the horror!  I gave up trying to reason with him long ago.  You can only bash your head against the wall so many times.

JD will start one of his orations on some topic or other and the moment I realize this is one of those discussions, I tune out, which in itself is risky.  I manage to retain enough connection to the conversation to nod and murmur “mm hmm” on occasion.  (Can you call it a conversation when only one party is doing the talking?)  The risks come later when he says he told me something and I have no recollection of it.  He certainly could have told me the sky was purple with green polka dots and it probably would have sounded like the adults in Peanuts.

Then he complains that I never pay attention to him; that I don’t think what he says is important enough for me to listen.  Sigh.

We agree on that, to a point.  When he goes on and on and on about the same tired subjects, why would I want to pay attention?  I know his opinions on certain topics as well as he does and I don’t see those changing any time soon.  What’s the point of debating with someone who believes they’re right and everyone else isn’t?  Life is too short.

If I didn’t love the man I’m sure I would have killed him by now.  But I have to admit, every now and again he says something that resonates with me.  We often ask ourselves why we love each other and 18 years later we both still have the same answer:  I Don’t Know.

Pour Me

With all the advances we’ve seen in medicine, science and technology wouldn’t it be nice if someone could figure out what makes some people prone to self-pity?

The “poor me” mentality may not be rampant in the world as a whole, but in my little corner of it I’m practically buried in the bullshit. Between JD and his mother I’m not sure who would win if it were a contest. Yesterday was the first day in a long, long time that I seriously asked myself what I was still doing in this marriage. For those of you not paying attention, yesterday was Christmas – a day of supposed joy and love. Uh huh.

Not being tuned in to their conversation, I wasn’t sure what happened this time, just that JD went out in the back yard where the dogs were, shutting the sliding door with a louder bang than necessary. And dear MIL sat there justifying whatever it was she said to him. Inside I felt the Grinch get a grip on my heart and I cringed.

A short time later JD came back inside and immediately went through to the front door and walked back out. My first inclination was to go after him but since that has always worked so well in the past I opted to stay inside, where I whined out loud that I was sorry I hadn’t brought the bottle of wine I had at home. Within a couple of moments I had a glass of a nice white zinfandel in my hand. I was enjoying the grandchildren and seeing my favorite daughter’s new beau win points with the rest of the family who were meeting him for the first time. If JD wanted to sulk in the truck let him.

Then apparently he started the truck and drove away. I didn’t see this, but a few others looked puzzled and one of the daughters wondered aloud where he was going. I can’t remember what I said but it was the equivalent of a verbal shrug. I do remember feeling so done. But I’d stopped at the single glass of wine. Sure it was more because the bottle was already nearly empty and others might want some. But I could easily have told myself “screw them” and finished it off.

When I finally texted him to see what he was doing, he responded back “gas” meaning he was filling the truck’s tank. Then he parked the truck back in front of the house and sat out there a bit more. When people started loading plates with food I texted him to say we were starting to eat and was he coming inside. His one word response was “maybe.” So I went ahead and got food for myself.  He’s a grown-up, numerically anyway, and can fend for himself.   When I finished eating and got up to carry the paper plate to the trash JD came in the front door muttering something about finding our dog wandering around out front.

We’d earlier put the dogs outside briefly and while we were eating our Beagle made her escape from the backyard.  I mentioned that I’d seen her in the backyard right before I started eating. It wasn’t what JD said next but his tone was sharp almost like a reprimand. He repeated that he’d found her wandering around outside and had just brought her in.   Like maybe I hadn’t believed him or I was disagreeing with him.  What the hell, I could see she was right there.  At the end of my patience I snapped back that he didn’t need to bite my head off and he said “fine” or something similar and went back out to the truck.

The rest of the day was much the same. When I went out a bit later to see if he was coming in for opening presents we disagreed about the interaction in the house and it was going nowhere fast so I went back inside. The daughters brought out dessert and someone found more alcohol so I added a healthy splash of bourbon to my coffee.

He did finally come back inside in time to watch the grandkids open their gifts. I think he even forced down some food. He didn’t speak to anyone though unless they asked him a direct question. And when his mother and sister left I don’t think he said goodbye.

Favorite daughter and S were planning to stay and watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with daughter A and her hubby and son so we said our goodbyes and headed out. It was a nearly silent drive and when we got home JD went to bed. And I let him.

Now that’s I’ve thrown up all that family drama I wonder what good it will do. The drama will subside eventually; JD will likely make up with his mother. But he’ll nurse the incident, build it up into more than it was and mitigate his own part in it. And somewhere down the road it will happen again.

It’s been like this for the eighteen years I’ve known this family. So what the hell am I still doing here? I think that’s something which needs further exploration because I’m not sure I know.