Tuesday, August 21, 2007

18 and Life

In the summer of '89, I had just graduated from high school and was now an adult. My stepdad was so fuckin' eager to get me out of the house that (after my mom found an apartment for me), he actually paid for all my living expenses there. It wasn't an easy thing getting adjusted to living on my own. I wasn't very social in high school, so didn't really have any friends to lean on. All I really had was my dad and siblings, my mom and stepdad, and my grandma.

I lived in an efficiency apartment that faced Winona's mighty bluffs and Lake Winona. I was in apartment number 9 (the same number of one of my favorite football players from the early 80's, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer). My bed was a foldout, but I never did (I always just took the cushions off of it in the evening and slept on the couch half of it).

My typical daily routine that summer was to get up around 9am, watch a couple shows on telly (like "Archie Bunker's Place"), take a shower, and then head out to look for a job. I wasn't looking too hard for some reason. *shrugs shoulders* I did go to a lot of movies that summer, including the first R-rated movies I ever went to by myself ("Pet Semetary" and Stallone's "Lock-Up).

My mom expressed to me later that summer that it wasn't her intention for me to move out so abruptly and that she was a tad PO'd that her husband (my stepdad) had accelerated it so much (not to worry, she broke up with him a few years later ...hahahahaahahahahahahaha. He and I did make up a few years later).

This lady from Job Services would call me every few days letting me know about new jobs that were available for fresh meat like me. After several refusals, she asked me what kind of job I was looking for. I didn't know...forest ranger, maybe. Something that would give me time to comtemplate the greatest mystery of all....women (I was still a virgin at this time). I applied for a job with the local newspaper (located just a few blocks from my residence). I heard back from them as summer was coming to a close. It was an overnight job in their "distribution" center. It basically consisted of putting flyers into the newspaper, was about 30 hours a week, and paid about 5.75 an hour!!! Nice!!!

Needless to say, I quickly accepted the job, but was a bit sad that my freeloading days were over (I could now relate to people who enjoyed living on welfare, but found that they couldn't do so forever). I worked with some quite interesting people at the Daily News. There were two red-haired college boys that were twins (I called them the Tartleton twins in a reference to "Gone With the Wind", a movie I had seen for the first time a few months prior). There was this scuzzy old dude named Frank, a vertically-challenged guy named Luke, and a long haired guy that most of us suspected was gay (when the Aerosmith hit, "Dude Looks Like a Lady" was on the work radio one evening, Luke looked at me and then looked at him chanting the song's title. I laughed...a little bit).

Handling all those newspapers turned my fingers drier than Hillary Clinton's most boring speech on health insurance. 18 years later, when putting hand lotion on, I still pay special attention to my fingertips. Probably will til the day I die, well, if I die, that is (subtle Jehovah's Witness nod).

It was always something going in there at 7pm on a Friday and knowing I wasn't getting out until 5 or 6 the next morning. But, shit, I didn't have a social life anyway, so it didn't matter. I started my first college classes at Winona State that fall, Psychology and American History (no, it wasn't a full slate. I wanted to ease my way into matriculation). To give you a better idea of my state of mind at that time, my favorite foods were Totino's Pizza, Nutty Bars, and Hi-C Grape.

It was while I was living in this apartment that I was first introduced to a show that many others would not jump the bandwagon onto until many years later, "Seinfeld". I loved how it wasn't a conventional crap-com. I was also a huge fan of David Letterman's NBC show and laughed the hardest during this time of my life when I was watching his show.

I longed for a relationship, but didn't know how to proceed. The following spring, the newspaper job was starting to get to me, so I looked in earnest for another place to bide my time. It wouldn't be long before I found it...and it would be much worse than the newspaper job ever was.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fall 07

Last night, I soaked in the bathtub while reading the Fall Movie Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly. I perused the movies that are coming out in September and October (I've yet to get to the ones that come out in November and December). Here are the ones that I am most interested in seeing:

3:10 To Yuma - September 7

"Christian Bale is a struggling rancher who agrees to help transfer Russell Crowe, a notorious outlaw, into the hands of authorities."

Into the Wild - September 21

I browsed this Jon Krakauer book one evening at the local Barnes & Noble in the late 90's.

"Based on a true story of one young man's tragic 'return to nature'. After graduating from Emory University in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life."

The Heartbreak Kid - October 5

After years of making PG-13 movies, the Farrelly's and Ben Stiller return to their R-rated ("There's Something About Mary") roots.

"Single and indecisive, Eddie (Ben Stiller) begins dating the incredibly sexy and seemingly fabulous Lila. Upon the urging of his father and best friend, Eddie proposes to her after only a week, fearing this may be his last chance at love, marriage, and happiness. However, while on their honeymoon in sunny Mexico, Lila reveals her true beyond-awful nature and Eddie meets Miranda, the woman he realizes to be his actual soul mate. Eddie must keep his new, increasingly horrid wife at bay as he attempts to woo the girl of his dreams."

Elizabeth: The Golden Age - October 12

I saw Cate Blanchett in the original "Elizabeth" way back in 1998.

"Reprising the roles they originated in seven-time Academy Award-nominated "Elizabeth," Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush return for a gripping historical thriller laced with treachery and romance. Joining them in the epic is Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, a dashing seafarer and newfound temptation for Elizabeth."

The Storm

This past weekend, southeastern Minnesota (my home base) got a lot of rain. It rained all day Saturday and I mean that literally...all day. But after sweating through multiple 85-degree-plus days over the past few weeks (my car doesn't have A/C), the rain of Sat and Sun was just what I needed. Call me crazy, but I look forward to the leaves turning and summer turning into fall. Summer's nice, but enough's enough. I even have a fall pic as my current screen saver.

The only issue I had with the wetness of Saturday is that I wasn't able to take pup out for a good walk, but we were able to make up for it yesterday. We went to a nearby park and saw quite a few branches that had fallen to the ground. There was also a small lake where there hadn't been one the day before. Zoe went right into it and drank from it as well.

On Saturday evening, I went with a friend to Famous Dave's. That stuff really hit the spot while the weather perfectly suited my mellow mood. It could be overcast for the next week and I wouldn't complain one bit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Girl Videotapes 300-Page iPhone Bill

"If you're not familiar with AT&T's billing practices, you might be a bit shocked to receive your first iPhone bill. Justine Ezarik was less-than amused when her 300-page bill was delivered in a box.

AT&T makes sure to take note of every single text message, every data transaction, and every phone call and print each on a separate line. That means that every time you hit that Safari web browser button, you're adding a line to your bill. Every time you receive or send a TXT message, you're adding a line to your bill. It may not sound like much, but for those of us who live and die by our phone, it adds up quickly. A 300-page bill is certainly uncommon, but 50-100 pages is fairly normal for heavy texters and mobile web users. Those of you with an AT&T account -- especially iPhone users -- may want to consider signing up for electronic billing to save a tree or two."

Survey Says

In the fall of '04, to pick up some extra money, I worked for a tele-survey company. It consisted mainly of weekday evening hours (5 to 9pm). There would typically be about 12 or so of us working on any given night. Now, I wasn't a telemarketer. I was just calling people to ask them questions, to complete a survey. We did many different types of surveys. One had to do with Hormel's baked beans, another with farming, still another for the local newspaper.

It was always a struggle to get people to take the time to answer my questions. I would dial number after number and get no answer, voice mail, or a child answering that no one was home. I was a super-quick dialer, though, from my previous experience working in the telephone office at a medical facility. I was so fast, in fact, that my supervisor questioned me about it, saying that the number of numbers that I dialed was more than twice anyone else. I guess I was just too productive, like a high school student who messes up the curve on a test for everyone else who didn't do as well.

It was real fun calling people in southern states, accents as thick as molasses. And you wouldn't believe the excuses I would hear from people who didn't want to take the surveys: "The presidential debate is about to start", "American Idol is on", "My husband just died". Me and this other gal frequently competed on who could get the most completed surveys. It was a real pisser when I would get 2/3rd of the way through a survey and the respondent said they couldn't go any further. But such is life.

One thing I liked was when someone would say to me, "I'm on the "do not call" list". I always responded (with my tongue sticking out): "I'm not a telemarketer". I ended up working there about 5 months. It was decent, but I really needed to get away from the phones as '04 gave way to '05.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bourne to Rush

I went with my friend, Shanon, to two movies on Saturday. In the afternoon, we went to see Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in "Rush Hour 3".

I enjoyed the first 2 Rush Hour movies (from '98 and '01), but felt that Chris Tucker's '97 vehicle with Charlie Sheen, "Money Talks", was superior to both of those. I went into RH3 with low expectations, but alas, even my lowly 'spectations weren't fulfilled. I laughed out loud a few times, but that's just not enough, not in a world where there are movies like "Wedding Crashers', "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", and "Borat". The action was alright, but ultimately felt meaningless. I don't have a clue what the plot was about, either (very convoluted). Shanon had a good time with the film. Heck, you might, too, but it was definitely a step down from RH1 and 2. During a couple expository scenes, I was thinking to myself, "Man, this is fucking boring!"

After the movie, we headed over to Friday's to dissect it. No, I just asked him what his favorite part was as we moved on to other more weighty subjects such as his mother's recent cancer diagnosis. We had a good meal and thought about going to another movie film. We had already seen part 3 of RH; why not go to the 3rd Bourne movie? So it was that we went to the early evening show of Matt Damon's "Bourne Ultimatum".

The theatre was full with the audience consisting mostly of adults, hardly any teens (a good thing since older adults are usually more well-behaved during a movie, you know, no messing around with their cell phones, kicking seats, and talking like they're sitting in their own living room). Me and Shanon got there just before the previews started, so had to sit near the front (we usually sit near the front, anywho :P). I was a bit drowsy after having eaten Friday's, so laid on my side (a common practice for me) as the movie started. Shanon did the same a few minutes later.

I found the first "Bourne" movie from the summer of '2 quite solid. I did have some problems with the second movie, most notably all the "cuts" that I was exposed to during the film's action sequences. Here's what one reviewer said:

The director of The Bourne Identity, Doug Liman, was able to present the fight scenes in a clear, no-frills fashion. In The Bourne Supremacy, there are so many cuts and edits that the fights devolve into an incoherent mess. It's better not to try to follow them when they're going on - just wait until they're over to see who's left standing.

Though this 3rd movie has the same director as the 2nd, I noticed that the chase scenes weren't quite as hard to follow (though one hand-to-hand scene was basically indecipherable). On the whole, though, "Bourne 3" is a very well-done action movie that consists almost entirely of chases; just a very solid suspense thriller with Matt Damon's dialogue in the film really kept to a minimum (he lets his fists do most of the talking).

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Love of my Life

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the passing of my big, beautiful Saint Bernard, Brandy.

The following is what I wrote as a tribute to her the following day (August 11, 2005):

I remember when I brought you home. You were bought from a breeder that lived near Claremont. When I got home, I gave the puppy some food and water. The dog walked around a bit. I noted that she was awfully. I ended up naming her Brandy. Zoe (my other dog) seemed to like her. Mayo, the cat, wasn't as convinced. Brandy grew fast. It was always amusing when the dogs would see someone at the front door and they would both be barking, Zoe with her higher pitched voice and Brandy with her deep one. I took them to the dog park on a few occasions.

In early 2000, Brandy started having seizures, so I got her checked out and was able to keep them mostly in check over the years.

Zoe passed on in December of 2000. She had low blood platelets. She was receiving medication for this, but one weekend, she started moving her head in a weird way. I took her to the vet who gave her a shot. He said that it would take a couple days for it to truly take effect.

Unfortunately, she passed on before this could happen. The disease had apparently gotten into her brain. She passed at 3 and a half years old, much too young. I cried the next morning knowing that I wouldn't be able to spend time with her as before. However, on a couple of occasions, one in particular, I did feel her presence. Lying in bed, I heard the bark of a small dog. It came from near the garage door and sounded just like Zoe. One of the last things I said to Zoe before she passed was that I would see her soon. I continue to look forward to that day.

Life continued with Brandy and Mayo. Brandy didn't seem to notice Zoe's passing too much. If anything, she was more energetic. Perhaps some of Zoe's spirit passed on to Brandy at that time. I spent extra time with Brandy and Mayo appreciating the pets I still had. Brandy developed hip dysplasia, but was able to walk alright for quite some time. As she grew older and became a senior, I helped her up and down the stairs and made sure to bring her inside if the weather was too extreme. I checked on her regularly; made sure she had water and food, etc. She pretty much always let me know if she needed something whether it was help getting up, someone to give her a massage, or just someone to give her attention. For years, I couldn't stand the thought of getting another dog. Losing Zoe just hurt too much.

By the summer of 2004, I was ready. Having a lap dog is fun and it would be great to have someone else around to give Brandy some attention when I was gone. I bought a Pomeranian and named her Zoe as well (I was comfortable with using the name again). In fact, Zoe 2 has many of the same characteristics as the first. They both pee on the floor when excited. They both like sleeping under our bed near the head of it. They both love playing with Trolls. They both love chewing on female's underwear for some reason. And they both like to lick Brandy around the corner of her eyes. I sometimes wonder if the first Zoe has come back in the guise of my young Pomeranian in order to spend some more time with us. Zoe 2 and Brandy spent a full year together. Zoe 1 and Brandy spent a little over two years together. In between, it was us, Brandy, and Mayo. Now, it's me, Zoe 2, and Mayo.

Yesterday, I left work at 7:30am after giving Brandy her medication in the back yard. She had water next to her. I returned home a little after 6pm. She was lying with her back legs up in the air. There were flies all over her. She had passed. I don't believe it was the heat. The heat index wasn't very high yesterday especially when compared to other days we've had this summer. I think it may be that her heart gave out. Saint Bernards are quite susceptible to heart problems. I have to say that I felt a tangible sense of peace in the backyard yesterday afternoon. It was as if her spirit was amidst us saying, "Thank you, kind ones. I am free now".

She was exactly 6 years and 10 months on the day she passed. For a large breed, that translates to being about 55 years old in human years. I believe I did all I could. In fact, the vet tech who did some in-home sitting for us earlier this year said that I really did take the best care of her. I don't believe most other households would have had the time, money, and inclination to do as much as I could for her. It was easy for me, though.

When she was still a puppy, she was jumping around near the front door wanting to go outside. I started to yell at her a little bit, but then looked into her eyes and realized that she was just a puppy wanting to have fun, wanting to live. I made a promise to her then, audibly, that I would take care of her for the rest of my life. So, as the years went by, I always kept a close eye on her to make sure that she wasn't in pain and discomfort. I helped her walk if she needed it, laid next to her, sat in a chair next to her when she was in the wading pool, talked to her, massaged her, reassured her. I saw a beautiful, beautiful soul beneath all that fur in those big blue eyes. And I cherish every day I had with her. It will be hard not having her around, not being able to talk to her, touch her. My eyes are misting as I write this. But I know that she is OK, that she is no longer suffering, that she can walk unencumbered now and is free and I'm sure she is thankful for the life we gave her from the fall of 1998 until the summer of 2005. I wasn't so sure she would last this long due to her being diagnosed with epilepsy at such a young age, but she hung in there and she still had fun. She enjoyed going into the wading pool, laying in there to cool off, licking the snow in the backyard after a big snowfall.

She was so kind and tolerant and beautiful. What a gift to my life she was. I will never forget you, Brandy girl. You have my love forever and I look forward to seeing you again someday. Take care, Brandy Lyn. You will be in my heart always.

Postscript: 4 days after Bran's passing, the following occurred:

I was lying on the bed by myself in a relaxed state and quietly saying things like, "Brandy, are you out there? I miss you. If you're still around, could you please give me a sign?". I swear not 2 seconds later, the doorbell rang! I was like, "That can't be her". It was a friend at the door. I wasn't expecting her since she usually calls first before coming over. But, wow, immediately after I ask for a sign, I hear the doorbell ring. I thought that was quite awesome.

Let's Talk About Sex

I remember the day that my mother invited me (I was about 9), my sister (8), and brother (6) to have a talk. It didn't seem that it was gonna be anything bad. She had the three of us stand next to her (she was sitting in a La-Z-Boy recliner). She then proceeded to tell us about the birds and the bees. It didn't take very long. I basically was like, "Hmm, so that's how it works. Interesting." I wasn't too impressed, though. I immediately headed out of the room to do something, anything else. My brother, Brian, though, had a crapload of questions. He asked my mom to explain it in greater (read: explicit) detail. Curious kid. My mom also said that if we had other questions to refer to this set of books that were on the bookshelf:

As I got older, I did take a look at them. But on that day, I wasn't buying. Yucky!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The End

Entertainment Weekly recently did a piece on movies with awesome endings (for part 2 of it, click here). My favorite movie endings are (in no particular order):

The Sixth Sense
The Others
Lost in Translation
Boogie Nights

as well as the endings of Titanic, American Beauty, and Gladiator.

So what are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Let's Pretend We're Married

Late last month, I saw Adam Sandler's new movie, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (for a plot synopsis, click on the link above).

I never expect too much from a Sandler movie. My favorites of his are "Happy Gilmore" and "Anger Management". I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent amount of laughs in it. Nothing like "40-Year-Old Virgin", but still, not bad.

One of my favorite characters was a Japanese minister played by Rob Schneider (he is basically unrecognizable in the role). The following line of dialogue had me cracking up:

Japanese Priest: Now place the ring on his hand. A ring is like a circle, it goes on forever. It's not like a triangle, triangle have corners. It's like a circle.

At the one hour mark, I was saying to myself, "Damn, this is a fun movie. I love it when my expectations are surpassed. Nice!". But my happiness was short-lived as the laughs came to a screeching halt a few minutes later (a boring courtroom sequence really killed the momentum of the movie).

Overall, I'd give it a B. If you're a Sandler fan, you'll most likely find much to like. If you're not, then you know to stay away.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Revenge of the Nerds

In the spring of '81, when I was still in grade school, I was invited to go to summer school. No, not that kind. It was actually for kids who were "high potential". I wasn't interested, however. What kid wants to go to school during the summer after having already attended classes from September to May? My mom tried to talk me into it, but I wasn't having it. Hmmm. But there was something I had been interested in getting and didn't have the moolah for. It was the 2-record soundtrack to "Star Wars". I told my mom that if she bought this for me, I would go to this hypertential class. She agreed and bought me the album.

The class took place in the Senior High school building and would last 2-3 weeks. As I recall, the class mainly dealt with computers. We were told that computers would be the wave of the future (yeah, right). Four long tables were set up in a square so that all the students could see each other and to make for a less formal learning environment. Kevin, the kid who sat next to me, liked to call me Thomas Magnum since my first name was Thomas and Magnum P.I. was a very popular show at the time. For fun, we were able to play a new computer game. It was called Oregon Trail.

The graphics were entirely green on the computers we used (not unusual for that time). It was quite a fun game, I have to say.

On the last day, parents were invited to come. Both my parents sat in for part of the class. They were quite proud of me (firstborn son makes good). They asked the teacher if they could take me out for breakfast. She said that was fine, so they took me to Mr. Donut for a bite and all was well.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Funny Headlines

Fans Outraged After New Book Ruins Ending of Final Harry Potter Movie

Drunk Ex-Boyfriend Didn't Call To Fight

Eighteen Dead in Damar, Kansas, After Tornado Warning Siren Set To 'Vibrate'

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Newsflash, kids: I'm not getting any younger. I am presently 36.7 years old and that got me thinking: how is my health? I'm at a healthy weight, get plenty of exercise, and eat reasonably well. I don't have much pain in my life (well, not much physical pain, anyway), but am I actually as healthy as I feel? To get the answer to this question, I have set up an appointment to get a physical done in a couple weeks. I've not had one in 7 years (back when I was 29!). I've seen doctors since then, most notably for my kidney stones in the summer of '2, but have not had an actual physical. I am quite curious what my cholesterol count is. Though my weight is good, it is possible my 'lesterol is high due to some of the food I eat on a regular basis (I'm looking at you, Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers). I also want to be sure that my blood pressure and other such things are in the normal range. I'll let you know the results when I get 'em. The soonest appointment I could get is with a new female doctor and that brings me to my question for the day:

If your significant other is going for a physical, would you prefer that they be seen by a doctor of the same sex or the opposite one? And if there is a prostate and/or gynecological exam involved, does that affect your answer?


I pride myself on being able to stay positive (well, most of the time, anyway). How do I do so? Well, one thing that helps are 5 statements I say to myself most every morning when I am in the shower. The first is, "I am a sexy bitch!!!"

jk Here they are:

I am joyful (I see myself as happy and optimistic)
I am loving (I visualize myself embracing a loved one)
I am accepting (Whatever happens, happens. The key is my response to it)
I am blessing (I think of a few people and send good vibes their way)
I am grateful (I think of several folks and mentally thank them for the love and joy they bring to my life)