Thursday, November 30, 2006

I don't think this qualifies as a "news emergency"

Blame it on the lack of sleep.

When I went home for my dinner break, there was only one thing that absolutely HAD to be done. And it wasn't eating dinner, although that was a close second.

No, I needed to set my somewhat temperamental VCR to record Grey's Anatomy since I would be listening to some forum about 17-year-olds and how they should be returned to the juvenile court system.

I went home. I ate my chicken noodle soup (but I avoided the chicken chunks), read a bit of The Book Thief and took off for the forum. Not realizing I forgot to set the VCR. Well, I realized it, about 5 minutes before the forum when I was on the other side of town.

Yeah, wouldn't be able to blame the lack of taping on the temperamental VCR tonight.

A frantic phone call was placed and a message left on my mom's cell phone. I tried my parents' house. I got my dad on the phone, which could be a good thing. Except his reaction, "How do you set the VCR?" Not so much help.

Dejected and not quite accepting the fact that Grey's would not be taped tonight, I walked into the incredibly dull forum. On my way out, a voice mail from mom, telling me she got my message and was on her way home to set the VCR for me :)

In the end it turned out, but it was close. The lesson? Never volunteer to fill-in as the night reporter on Thursday nights or Grey's Anatomy may be missed!

Oil, wipers and treadmills, oh my!

So even though I'm the night reporter today, I still dragged myself out of bed at my normal time this morning. Not the most brilliant idea on my part.

But I was fairly productive. I went up to Appleton and got my oil changed. I know I could have gotten it done here in the City on the Water and avoided the half hour drive north, but I had a coupon. For three dollars off an oil change. Three bucks is three bucks. Plus I got to have breakfast with my mom.

So an oil change and a new set of windshield wipers later, I was on my way back to the City on the Water. And I made a pit stop at the YMCA, where I ran about 2.5 miles on the treadmill to nowhere. It was refreshing. Making it to the YMCA this week twice so far, it makes me realize how much I enjoyed my daily jogs to nowhere. I'm making a mental note to find a way to fit in a few trips on the treadmill a week.

And I finally filled out my official change of address form at the post office. It only took me a month. I'm sure my parents will be glad when my mail finally stops coming to their house.

But for all my productivity this morning, I felt it about 1 p.m. when all of a sudden this wave of sleepiness overcame me. I tried to take a quick cat nap, but I was paranoid I would sleep too long and then be late for work. So I'm crossing my fingers I'm able to stay awake tonight at work and that things don't get too out of hand.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Paging Betty Crocker

I'll admit, I'm not much of a cook.

Given the choice, I'd much rather make a box of macaroni and cheese instead of gathering ingredients, chopping and preparing dinner. For me, "cooking" involves a grabbing the box out of the cupboard, reading the directions and then following them.

Think about it. Given the choice, mac and cheese is so much easier. Boil water, dump in noodles, boil for about 6 minutes, strain and add milk, butter and the powdered cheese mix. If I were to actually put effort into making a meal, it would take so much longer than the 15 minutes tops it takes to whip up a box of mac and cheese. And chances are, it probably wouldn't be as tasty.

Tonight, I abandoned the standard mac and cheese (OK, maybe it was because I didn't HAVE any mac and cheese to make), but I didn't stray too far from the pasta food group. I pulled out a carton of cheese ravioli I had bought at the store. Sure, it still involved boiling, but I used a SECOND pot to warm up some sauce. And that's pretty complicated cooking for me if it involves more than one pot. After waiting for the raviolis to boil (and freaking out because, hello, they floated to the top of the water and I was worried they wouldn't be "tender" enough to eat), I poured some of the heated sauce (once again, nothing fancy, just some plain old Ragu) over the top and generously sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top.

It never fails though, I made too much. When it got to the dumping part, I dumped too many raviolis into the boiling water. And since I'm not a huge fan of leftovers, I ended up throwing some of the ravioli away.

But all in all, it was a tasty meal. and surprisingly, it didn't take too long to make.

I've often thought about learning too cook, but I've never done it. Maybe it's due to the fact that I would most often be cooking for myself. And if you're like me and don't really care for leftovers, because realistically, how many days in a row can you eat (insert food here)? For me, two days tops. And plus it takes so much time and patience is not one of my strong points.

Plus, making a complex dinner produces way too many dishes. Lucky for me, I have a dishwasher.

Break out the parka

So I'm confused. Yesterday it was 60 degrees outside, I could walk from the YMCA to my car in just a T-shirt at 6:30 at night and today it's freezing cold and raining (although it could be turning to sleet as I type). After reaching a high of 58 this morning at 1 a.m., the National Weather Service is predicting we might hit 30 degrees tomorrow before temperatures dip into the teens tomorrow night.

I think winter's on it's way for a visit.

That means it's time to haul out the ski jacket and find where exactly I put my box of mittens and scarves. When I moved here to the City on the Water in October, I wasn't thinking about the arrival of Ole Man Winter, so for all I know that box of goodies may be buried in a closet.

Not that I mind Ole Man Winter's arrival.

I've always liked winter. I like the snow, I like the chill in the air. I like to do winter stuff, like ski and skate. And the snow is oh so pretty. That is until it's mid-March, the snow has turned from it's pretty white to a grungy grey and I'm ready for the mercury in the thermometer to inch above 30. Then I'm ready for spring.

But for now, I'm all about winter's arrival.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Are we there yet?

A week ago, my plan to get back into the habit of going to the YMCA after work was foiled by a sore knee.

Not so this week.

After work, I headed over to the YM CA. I laced up my sneakers, grabbed my MP3 player and headed upstairs to the room where all the cardio equipment is. I grabbed a treadmill and started running to nowhere. I had a little Dave Matthews Band, Howie Day, John Mayer and O.A.R. to accompany me on my journey to no where. Although, unlike past gyms I've belonged to, at least I wasn't staring at a concrete cinder block wall. Thankfully, the YMCA has their cardio room in a room where the entire front wall is windows. So at least you have some scenery to look at while on your way to no where.

By the time I was done, I'd covered 2.4 miles. Granted, I only ran about 1.8 miles, but still, after not running for almost three months, I was quite pleased with myself. I probably could have made it the full 2 miles, but I had a date with my TV to watch the Badgers take on Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

And the best part, right now, three hours later, my legs don't hurt. And if it keeps up, I'll be back on that treadmill to no where tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

There's a monster in my head

For the past four days I've been struggling with the monster that is a migraine.

I'm used to migraines. I started getting them in high school, but the past three years while living in Beaverburg, I've been able to control the monsters by taking a daily preventative medication. And that helped tremendously. I only got sidelined by a migraine a few times.

However, since taking this new job in the City on the Water, I haven't had any health insurance (it kicks in Jan. 1), so I've had to stop taking the daily medicine. The first month or two things went OK. But slowly the monsters have returned. And since Wednesday, I've been dealing with a particularly nasty migraine. Tylenol doesn't even touch my migraines. And lately, ibuprofen hasn't been helping much either.

Last night it hurt so bad I was on the verge of tears.

I took four Advil, which for some reason seems to work better than the generic ibuprofen, turned off all the lights in my apartment and put in the movie Cars, which I had originally gotten for my nephew's birthday but it turns out St. Nick is bringing it to him so I now own the movie.

While the Advil kind of knocked the monster out, it was still sort of there when I went to sleep and surprising was gone when I work up this morning. But as the day went on, it started coming back. I've been able to keep it in check most of the day by doping myself up with Advil, but I'm really crossing my fingers that the monster realizes it has overstayed its welcome and decides to leave once and for all tomorrow!

Now, it's time get in my pajamas, dope myself up with some more Advil, turn out all the lights and maybe pop in a DVD in hopes that the monster will go away.

Welcome waters

Most of my life, with the exception of my 365-day stint in the state of Indiana, I've lived near or by a lake. Growing up, I'd spend most weekends out at a relative's house on Lake Winnebago and while a student at UW, I lived on Lake Mendota for a year and spent a lot of my free time at the Memorial Union, on the shores of Lake Mendota.

Now, I find myself living and working just steps away from Lake Winnebago in this City on the Water. It's comforting. While swimming isn't as appealing as it was when I was younger, it's nice to know that I'm just a short drive away from being able to sit down at the lake and let my mind wander. I find the sound of water lapping up against the shore peaceful and relaxing and have discovered that I do a lot of good thinking as I sit and stare out at the water.

While I'm still getting used to calling the City on the Water home, it's nice to know some friendly waters are nearby.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgivings past

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. I've always been pretty lucky because I've been able to spend the day with my family.

The exception, that 365-day period of my life when I lived in Indiana. Forever remembered as the worst year of my life.

I had just started a job at the beginning of November. I had no vacation, no personal days and I was the low man (well, girl) on the department's pecking order. But since I was still so new, I wasn't scheduled to be the reporter/designer on duty for Turkey Day because I didn't know the system yet. So I had the day off. And I was alone. Homesick and eight hours away from my family.

Yet, I didn't have to spend the day alone.

The family of a co-worker of mine invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them. Their kindness and generosity floored me. They took me in and made me feel welcome and while I admit it wasn't the same as spending the day with my family, their kindness made my first holiday away from home a bit more bearable.

It couldn't take away the tears that I shed as I went home and cried my homesick self to sleep, but for a few hours, it took my mind off of being eight hours away from my family. And for that, I'll always be grateful to them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

But it's Tuesday

I had to run to Target tonight after work to get some Girl Stuff.

After picking up my items, I went to the nearest available cashier. It was this boy, probably in high school. He did a fine job, asked me if I found everything OK, etc. He rang me up and gave me my receipt and told me to "Have a nice weekend."

Ummm. Last time I checked it was Tuesday.

Now, I admit, I have a habit of whining about how I'm ready for the weekend...when it's only Wednesday. But telling a customer to have a good weekend when it's only Tuesday? That's a stretch even by my standards.

Now maybe he was thinking it's a holiday week, Wednesday is technically the last day of the work week for about 99 percent of the world. But, hello! Being in the world of retail, he's part of that 1 percent who most likely has to work Friday!

I dunno. I guess it didn't bother me that he told me to have a good weekend. I just found it odd.

Monday, November 20, 2006

And then it hurt

When I lived in Beaverburg, I was such a good girl. I'd go to work and at least 3 times a week I'd head over to the YMCA afterwards to work out. Mostly I ran, but sometimes I biked or used the elliptical machine. I felt good.

I move here, to the City on the Water and even though I have a membership to the YMCA, I've used it once. I went running two weeks ago, was super sore afterwards but still, I felt good. Last week I had a kind of messed up schedule so I didn't make it there.

But I was going to start fresh. Today after work I was going to head over, lace up my sneakers and run. Too bad I wasn't planning on doing something funky to my knee as I was walking down the steps at the courthouse this morning.

I'm not exactly sure what I did. But all of a sudden it hurt and if it hurt to walk, I'm sure it would hurt to run.

But I still held out hope that I'd be able to run on a treadmill to nowhere after work. I spent most of the day at my desk and I thought that would help heal the achiness. Nope. If anything it made it more stiff.

So I didn't go. And it still kind of hurts. I'll use some ice tonight. Or wait, should I use heat? Maybe I'll use both. But either way, I'm going to curl up in some comfy sweats with my book and nurse my poor aching knee back to health because darn it, I WILL run on that treadmill to nowhere tomorrow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

100 things about me

In honor of my 100th's 100 things about me.

1. I've been called every version of Jennifer that you can think of. For a while I was Jennie. Then I tried Jenny. Then Jenni. There's always been people who call me Jennifer and some who call me Jen.

2. My parents have always called me Jennifer and I use that for professional stuff. Most friends call me Jen or Jenny.

3. How do I answer the question of what people should call me? I answer to anything within reason.

4. For one day I was Jennifer Lynn. Then my grandma came to see me and I was renamed Jennifer Kay.

5. I didn't have pets as a child.

6. Well, that's wrong. We did have fish when I was growing up, but they would die after a day.

7. We tried to have finches as well, but they were very messy and just kept having babies. We got rid of them.

8. I broke my arm in kindergarten when I fell off a piece of playground equipment. The boys were jumping off the big barrel and I was leaning over, looking down.

9. I wasn't trying to jump. I lost my balance and fell.

10. It was the week after my mom got in a car accident so our neighbor had to drive me to the hospital.

11. My fifth grade teacher taught us how to play cribbage. I must not have been a good student because I haven't got a clue how to play anymore.

12. She didn't let us take home homework. I sometimes snuck mine home.

13. I've always loved to read. In sixth grade we had a reading program. We'd read books and then take tests on them and earn points. I think I still hold the record for number of points earned in a school year.

14. I played tennis in high school

15. I was a doubles player. But my coach demoted me to JV for the last two meets of my high school career, replacing me with a freshman who wasn't any better than me.

16. Coach wanted me to skip classes to go "cheer on" my teammates at the conference meet and sectionals.

17. I didn't go.

18. The next time I picked up a tennis racket was three years later.

19. I don't think I'd speak to the coach if I ran into her today.

20. I was a late bloomer. My first kiss was when I was 18.

21. It was at a house party in college. His name was Rob.

22. His brother caught us making out in the kitchen.

23. My longest relationship was a year and a half.

24. I moved to Indiana for the boy.

25. Then he cheated on with a Mormon and I got dumped.

26. A pair of Mormon missionaries showed up on my doorstep the next day, wanting to tell me all the great things about their religion.

27. I wanted to smack them...I didn't.

28. I don't answer my phone during certain TV shows. Currently, if folks call during Grey's Anatomy or 24, they'll go directly to voice mail.

29. Getting me hooked on 24 is one of the only fond memories I have about The Boy Who Dumped Me For A Mormon.

30. I like music.

31. I've played the violin for over 20 years and the piano for 19.

32. I was in the Fox Valley Youth Symphony and I can perform in other groups. But I don't perform well solo.

33. I think it goes back to a piano recital I had in 4th grade.

34. We had to memorize our pieces. I was playing "Dixie" and got three measures from the end when I completely blanked. I turned around, asked my teacher if I could start over and she nodded. The audience chuckled. Not a "ha ha, this kid sucks" chuckle, more a "oh, isn't that cute" chuckle. I finished the piece fine.

35. I've always gotten really nervous performing solo since. My hands shake, I mess up big time. Not pretty.

36. But I like to listen to music too. Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., Howie Day and John Mayer are some of my favorites.

37. I've seen the Dave Matthews Band in concert 9 times. I'm anxiously waiting for the summer tour announcement. I've seen Howie Day three times and O.A.R. once.

38. Still waiting for a chance to see John Mayer.

39. I lived in Indiana for 365 days.

40. It was the worst 365 days of my life.

41. I don't like to remember that year. So that's all I have to say about that.

42. My favorite color is blue.

43. Although I have a lot of red in my closet.

44. Might be because I'm a University of Wisconsin grad.

45. Living in Madison was the best four years of my life so far.

46. I was a dorm kid for two years. I met my best college friends in the dorm.

47. The four of us took a road trip cross country to California for the millennium.

48. OK, we didn't drive all the way to Los Angeles just to celebrate 2000. It was actually for the Rose Bowl.

49. First we waited in the Kohl Center for 13 hours to buy our tickets.

50. It was a lottery system. The number that was drawn to signify the beginning of the line was 125 people after us. It was a long wait. But so worth it.

51. Our car broke down on the way back to Wisconsin. It was the alternator.

52. It was also smack dab in the middle of an 80-mile stretch of Interstate between exits. That was a long tow truck drive.

53. We made it home in one piece. And we're still friends.

54. One of my favorite classes in college was about the history of the Olympics. The prof just told stories for the entire lecture.

55. If it was a home football Saturday, you could find me at Camp Randall.

56. Sometimes we'd pull the double feature and hit the football game in the morning and a hockey game at night.

57. Those were long days, but so much fun.

58. Then there were the days at the Kohl Center for basketball games. My roommate and I had tickets our junior year. She wasn't much fun at the games.

59. While a student, the Badgers played in the Final Four. Sadly, I missed most of the game because I was asleep.

60. Blame it on the mono that I contracted from The Boy From Alaska that was dating at the time. I'm still bitter about missing the game.

61. I lived out of state for one year.

62. I don't know if I could ever do it again.

63. The most important things to me are my family and friends. Not being able to jump in the car for a daylong visit was too hard. Good thing I moved back to Wisconsin

64. I like to scrapbook. It's a good way to preserve memories. But I find I don't have enough time, or money, to do a decent job. I try though.

65. I'm a perfectionist. I get it from my dad.

66. While I like to strive to do the best I can possibly do, it also screws me up. I get stressed out. And then I end up crying or getting angry or with a migraine.

67. I can thank my mom for that. The migraines, not my perfectionism.

68. I once had a migraine so bad I thought the alternative of chopping off my head would be less painful than actually suffering through the stabbing and throbbing pain.

69. Lucky for me, I decided not to chop my head off.

70. I'm a picky eater. I don't do colorful food very well. That rules out most vegetables.

71. But in my defense, I have gotten a bit more adventurous when it comes to my dining options. I just can't think of a good example right now.

72. I'm not a big hard liquor drinker. Give me a beer over a mixed drink any day. Although margaritas are quite tasty, along with the Long Islands from The Red Shed in Madison.

73. That was the only bar I've ever frequented while underage. Also it's the only one I've thrown up in. And one of only three times I've gotten sick from alcohol.

74. Like my eating habits, I'm picky when it comes to boys I date. There are certain things I'm looking for. Like a college education and a job are always pluses. Tallness is plus as well, I need to be able to wear heels in his presence. And he's got to treat me right. I'm not saying I have be treated like a queen, but it'd be nice to know that I matter. And it's a plus to know he won't dump me for a Mormon (been there, don't really want to do that again).

75. I'm still looking.

76. But I'm hoping I find Mr. Right. Because I want that fairy tale everyone talks about. The husband with 2.5 kids and the white picket fence.

77. I like going to the gym. When I lived in Indiana, it was one of the few things that got me through some of the days. And it didn't hurt in the 'burg either, where there was little for me to do.

78. Unfortunately I lost my gym going habits somewhere between the 'burg and the City on the Water. I'm looking for them and I think I've found them again. But we'll see.

79. I feel good after I've gone to the gym. Running on a treadmill to nowhere is my activity of choice.

80. I like having a clean apartment, but I'm not a fan of doing the actual cleaning. The bathrooms are the worst.

81. I like to write and I've always known I wanted to be a journalist. But I did go through that phase in college, the "Oh my God, what if I don't get into the journalism school?" As a result, I registered for calculus and chemistry and ended up having the worst semester of my college career.

82. I briefly toyed with law school. I guess it makes sense then that I enjoy sitting in a courtroom reporting on criminals and other court stuff.

83. I like to think I'm a good reporter. Apparently the Wisconsin Newspaper Association thinks so too since I won an award from them once for a story I wrote about tagging along with Santa Claus.

84. My first car was a 1985 Chevette. It was red. It also leaked transmission fluid so I had to drive around with extra quarts of transmission fluid so I was hurking and jerking all the way to wherever I was driving.

85. When I graduated from college, I upgraded to a 2002 Ford Focus.

86. I give blood, but I don't like needles. That's why I always look out the Bloodmobile's windows at the pretty concrete when they stick me with the big ole needle.

87. I hate bugs. I'll squash them in a napkin and flush them down the toilet if I have to, but I'd much rather someone else do it for me.

88. I don't like the scale. Our love hate relationship isn't a bad as it once was, but I still don't like the number it flashes at me.

89. For as long as I can remember, I've been a nail biter. There was one time, for a period of about 3 months, where I didn't bit my nails and I had actual fingernails. But it didn't last.

90. My brother and I didn't get along when we were younger. He's almost five years older than me and I can remember him glaring at me across the table as we ate our breakfast in the morning. Now that we're older, we get along much better.

91. My sophomore year in college, I worked in the dorm cafeteria for a total of 5 weeks. I wanted to earn some cash for a spring break trip. I made the money but had to quit the job early because I got mono. They willingly let me quit.

92. I like spending time alone. Don't get me wrong, I like being with friends and family and stuff, but sometimes a lazy afternoon just puttering around my apartment is just what I'm in the mood for.

93. I'm a procrastinator. I like to leave stuff until the last minute. Sometimes my inability to work ahead comes back to haunt me, but the rush I feel when I get stuff done at the last minute feels good. That might be why I went into a career with deadlines and working under pressure.

94. My mom is one of my best friends.

95. I still sleep with a teddy bear. I got him the day before I left for college and he's been with me ever since. In apartments in Madison, Indiana, the 'burg and now the City on the Water.

96. I think I could live on macaroni and cheese. From a box, at Noodles and Co. It's my favorite food.

97. I have terrible handwriting. If I try it can be pretty neat and legible. But in most cases, it kind of looks guy-ish and isn't always the easiest to read.

98. The most important things to me are my family and my friends. They've always supported me and I'm not sure what I'd do without them.

99. I'm not a good liar. I guess I'd rather be honest. It's also a quality I look for, and admire, in others. Honesty that is, not the ability to lie.

100. I like to finish what I start. This only took me an hour and a half. But it's done.

Bowling bonanza

As evidenced by those spiffy shoes at right, I went bowling last night. Yes, for the first time since that 365-day stint in Indiana four years ago, I went to a bowling alley with the Parental Units, my cousin and his girlfriend in an attempt to knock down pins with a bowling ball.

My mom, the former bowling league member who doesn't know how to score spares and strikes, blew us all out of the water. My dad wasn't so spiffy. At one point, the bartender/Overseers of all things bowling asked if Dad would like the bumper bowling option. That was right after my dad bowled two gutter balls in the same frame. At that point, Dad was struggling to break 20.

Me? I didn't do too bad if I do say so myself. Normally it's a good day if I break 70. But last night I bowled an 82 and 111. I had a couple of spares and would even have had a strike, expect I had bowled a gutter ball on the first frame, turning my would-be strike into a spare.
My cousin was all about trying to get that elusive turkey. And not the kind we'll be eating in a matter of days. No, the cousin was trying for the three strikes in a row turkey. And at one point he almost had it. With two strikes in a row, he only knocked down eight of the ten pins and left one standing with his second ball of the frame. It's probably a good thing he didn't get a turkey, because none of had the slightest idea how to score a turkey. So at the end of the night his score would have had a little asterisk by it and the explanation, "Cousin got a turkey. None of us know how to score it so we just made a number up."

Overall, it was an enjoyable night. I definitly would do the bowling thing again in the future. While the shoes aren't the prettiest and mine had a hole in the side leaving part of my foot hanging out, it was a good night.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Badgers in the limelight

Gotta love it when the Badgers get some love.

Not only are they ranked in the Top 10, but this week they're featured on the Sports Illustrated cover.

Let's hope that whole SI cover jinx is just a joke.

In search of pizza

I got home from work today and decided I really didn't want to make dinner, that I'd rather get a pizza. I was thinking this because not only would it provide dinner for me tonight, but I'd probably be able to get lunch for the rest of the weekend as well.

Here's the problem though. I don't have a phone book. The person who lived in this apartment decided to take the phone book with them when they moved.

So I had to attempt to order pizza without a phone book to look at my options. I had a flyer for Glass Nickel Pizza that I found when we ordered pizza on election night in the newsroom. I decided on a cheese pizza and cheese bread. While the pizza was OK (there was a bit too much sauce for my liking), the cheese bread was essentially a cheese pizza without sauce. And I swear there must have been a pound of cheese melted on it!

Overall, the meal was OK, but I'm not sure I'd order from there again, or at least I'd go for regular breadsticks instead of the cheese bread.

But I'd like to explore my options. I know there's a Rocky Rococo's here in the City on the Water, I'm just not sure they deliver.

For now, my mission is to secure myself a phone book. Ordering pizza should be much easier once I've accomplished that task.