Those Sorts of Movies

After watching Michael Clayton and re-watching Casino Royale for the fourth time, I told Kris I “like those sorts of movies”, though I couldn’t really put my finger on what “those sorts of movies” were. I decided that the Bourne films probably fit the bill, so I put them on the our Netflix queue.

I waited patiently for The Bourne Identity to crawl to the top of the list. Kris was in the midst of her Foyle’s War obsession, so it took a couple of months. Eventually, however, Netflix shipped my movie.

The other night we sat down to watch Matt Damon in an action role. We grabbed some dinner, plopped in the disc, and sat down on the futon. The disc didn’t work. “Crap,” I said, pulling the disc from the player. It was damaged. We sent the disc back and waited for a replacement.

In the meantime, I joined Paul J. for a trip to the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace. As you’ll recall, I recently watched all 22 previous Bond films back-to-back-to-back, and thought the previous film (the afore-mentioned Casino Royale) was the best Bond film to date. It effectively reset the films’ continuity, starting from day one. The new film picks up immediately where that one left off: it’s as if its part two to the story, and this story exists in a parallel universe to the other 21 Bond films.

The problem is that while the new movie has the same writers as Casino Royale, it has a different director. I don’t like him. And for the first half hour, I didn’t like Quantum of Solace. It was a flurry of quick-cut chases that were impossible to follow. No, I’m serious. They were impossible to follow. With cuts twice every second, the film becomes disorienting, and that’s not fun. Toss in bad acting and terrible dialogue, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, the film eventually changes tempo. It never truly becomes good, but it does become enjoyable in its own way, with one truly great chase scene (in airplanes!).

Anyhow — a couple of days later, the replacement Bourne Identity disc arrived in our mailbox. On Saturday night, we watched the film. It was okay — almost good. I have trouble buying Matt Damon in this role, but that’s a personal problem. The story was interesting. I like “this sort of movie”.

As the film was ending, I said to Kris, “You know, I think we own this DVD.”

“What?” she said, dumb-founded. I stood up, dug in the stack of DVDs on the TV, and sure enough: there was a copy of The Bourne Identity.

“When did you buy that?” Kris asked.

“I didn’t,” I said. “I got it in a white elephant gift exchange last year or the year before. I forgot about it until just now. See? It’s still in the wrapper.”

All she could do was shake her head, and I don’t blame her. I was shaking my head, too.

Random Musings

First off, this one’s for Andy, who has complained in the past that the font at foldedspace is too small. Just now, I was squinting to read one of my own stories. Not a good sign. Andy, you win. I’ve bumped up the font size! (Somebody just complained the other day at Get Rich Slowly that the font on my comments is too small, too. I’ve never noticed. But since I dearly want a new theme, anyhow, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.)

Speaking of Get Rich Slowly, I was frustrated to have several readers write to accuse me of discrimination because a political ad they didn’t agree with was served by Google. Turns out I don’t agree with the ad, either, and I would stop it if they’d give me information about it, but instead they were quick with the accusations and the “I’m never going to read you again” rhetoric. Sheesh.

Still speaking of Get Rich Slowly, I’ve hit upon a new rhythm that I quite like. For months, I’ve felt overwhelmed. There’s never enough time to do everything that needs to be done. I feel swamped. Part of the problem is that I’m trying to publish twice a day. Many smart people whom I respect have urged me to cut back, but I haven’t listened. Finally I realized the other day that I’m perfectly capable of maintaining a once-a-day pace; it’s the twice-a-day thing that’s killing me. So, I’ve cut my expectations. It feels great! If I find time to get a second post up some days, that’s great, but for now GRS is once a day.

Finally, I’ve finally learned to love Facebook. I’m not sure what put me over the edge. Sometime in the past couple weeks, however, I surrendered and just began adding friends. Then I learned how to look at friends of friends. And then I started finding long-lost friends! Awesome. Anyhow, today Amy Ratzlaf added me as a friend, and I found Cassie Riecke buried in Dagny’s friend list. Now I just need to figure out if there’s any other utility to Facebook than finding friends.

Finally finally, Kris and I are still eating our cow. Each year, we split a side of beef with another family from her office. Every week or so, we pull a random package of meat from the freezer. This week’s pick was top round steak. We were expecting, well, steak. Uh, not quite. Scramble for a quick dinner recipe!

Amok Time

For most of the time since I’ve been working as a writer, Kris has been getting home from work at 4:45. Or 5:00. Or 5:15. (It’s all rather random, despite what she says.)

Lately, though, she’s moved to her “winter schedule”, which means now she’s getting home at about 6:00 or 6:15.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually rather disconcerting. Right now, for example, it’s 8:45 but it feels like it should only be 7:15. By coming home later, Kris has shortened my evenings!

Hello, Autumn

Autumn is here. The days and nights are getting colder. My usual strategy for coping with the chill is to bundle up. This morning, though, I couldn’t shake the cold. I turned on the heat for the first time since April, and sat at the kitchen table drinking a mug of cocoa.

As I ran a hot bath, I sat and watched the leaves fall from the walnut tree. I mowed the lawn yesterday, so the grass beneath the tree is short, like a carpet. There’s no wind to speak of, but still yellow dying leaves are drifting down in waves. It’s as if a group of leaves hatched a plan: “Let’s all jump at the same time.”

The cats aren’t pleased with the change in seasons. First of all, there’s not enough light. Second, it’s raining too often. Third, although they have fur, they’d prefer not to have to rely upon it to stay warm. Finally, they no longer have freedom of movement. During the summer, the doors are open constantly, and they can come and go as they please. Not now. Now they have to ask to be let in and out, but they don’t like asking.

Mornings like this are slow. They’re nice. But I need to have some productive mornings. During the week before our vacation, I worked hard to prep articles for the time we’d be gone. It’s been nearly two weeks now since I worked at such a frenzy, but I can’t seem to muster ever a little motivation.

That’s okay, though. I have stuff ready to go through this weekend, for the most part. I still have time to sit at the table, sipping a mug of cocoa, watching the leaves fall.

What I Did on My Autumn Vacation

Kris and I had a good trip to San Juan Island. We didn’t do much besides laze around. We chose to go in early October because peak season has ended and prices on most things (like our bed and breakfast) had dropped. We gambled on the weather, of course — if it were always nice in early October, it would still be peak season, after all. It ended up mostly misty and grey, but that’s okay. We are from Portland, after all.

On our first day, we drove around the circumference of the island. Just outside Friday Harbor (the only real town on San Juan Island), I fell in love with a house: a 1915 bungalow on a few acres of farmland. Love love love it. But I don’t have $726,000. Plus, I’m not sure how I’d do isolated on an island.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse
The Lime Kiln Lighthouse — not the farmhouse I covet.

After coveting this farmhouse, we drove down to see the lighthouse, visited American Camp, stopped at Lime Kiln Point, resisted the urge to spend money at an alpaca farm (I very much wanted a $99 “throw”), and then swung back toward Friday Harbor. We stopped to visit Mona, the local celebrity camel.

Mona the Camel
Mona, the camel of San Juan Island.

The second day was cold and rainy, and we didn’t do much but wander Friday Harbor (we visited the consignment store and the thrift shop — I bought books for the first time in ages). In the afternoon, we read and watched Heroes on the laptop.

On our third day, the sun was shining, so we hopped on the inter-island ferry and spent a couple hours seeing the sites. It was lovely.

Like I said: we didn’t do much. But it was a great vacation nonetheless. We enjoyed our time at The Kirk House, a Craftsman bed-and-breakfast just across from the high school. We fretted about the Focus and all of the nasty smells it threw off. And we planned for our future.

Good times.

Can you guess who’s most glad that Kris and I are home from vacation now? The cats, that’s who.

After a week penned inside the house, they finally have the freedom to go outside, which, as they’ll tell you, is their natual habitat. Inside is only for food and sleeping.

They’re especially happy to have us back in bed at night. Max takes the corner by my feet, Simon takes the corner by Kris’ feet, and Toto sleeps by our heads. (Nemo is too scared to sleep with us — he’s scared of everything.) Mom and Dad make for a warm bed.

Half Full or Half Empty?

Kris and I are taking a short vacation to Washington State’s San Juan Islands.

“What time does the ferry leave from Anacortes?” I asked last night before bed. We were planning our agenda.

“5:25,” Kris said. “And if we miss that, the last ferry is at 6:00. What time do you think we should leave?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “How about ten? Then I can go to the gym first.”

“How about nine?” Kris said.

I went to the gym when it opened this morning at eight. I lifted weights. I ran on the treadmill. When I got home at 9:15, Kris asked, “How long until you’re ready to leave?”

“About half an hour,” I said. “I still need to pack. What’s the rush?”

“I don’t want to miss the ferry,” she said.

In true J.D. fashion, I dragged my feet. I answered some e-mail. I made a post at Get Fit Slowly. I debated which sweater to bring. “Come on,” Kris said.

We finally left the house at around ten. On our drive north, we listened to This American Life. We listened to The Decemberists. We chatted. We made good time.

“We’re making good time,” I said. “But we still have to make it through Seattle.” Seattle’s traffic is a nightmare.

But this time, we only had a five-minute patch of stop-and-go in the city, and then it was smooth sailing. We left Seattle at about 1:30.

“Huh,” I said. “Is there a ferry before the 5:25?”

Kris checked. “There’s a 2:45,” she said. “Do you think we can make it?”

“It’s going to be very very close,” I said, and I stepped on the gas. We flew through Everett. We flew through Mount Vernon. We tried to fly to Anacortes, but our progress was slowed by a minivan from Pennsylvania and a pumpkin festival.

“I don’t think we’re going to make it,” I said, as we marched through the lights in downtown Anacortes. “I guess we’ll have to settle for being 2-1/2 hours early.”

As we crested a bluff, we saw the 2:45 ferry pulling away. Kris gave me a look.

The good news is:

  • We’re first in line for the 5:25 ferry to San Juan island.
  • There’s a picnic table we can sit at while we wait.
  • For $3.95, I was able to purchase two hours of wireless so that I could share this funny story with you.

As a footnote for the Ice Queens in the audience, Kris has decided it’s too cold at the picnic table, and she’s gone to sit in the car. I bet she’ll be back to join me sometime in the next two hours!

Self-Disciplinarian

It sucks to have a lack of self-discipline.

The month of August was rough for me. For a variety of reasons, I was under tremendous stress. My response was to do all the bad things I could think of, and do them a lot. I ate a lot of junk food. I drank a lot of alcohol. I played a lot of World of Warcraft (and other videogames). I did not write, did not exercise, and did not do my chores around the house. I gained 9 pounds between the end of July and the end of August. Unsurprisingly, my depression returned with a vengeance. It was a mess.

Fortunately, I knew it was a mess. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to stop. In the end, I decided to confess my self-destructive behavior to Kris. She wasn’t happy, of course — who can blame her? I wasn’t happy, either — but she listened patiently, and then helped me get my shit together.

And I have managed to get my shit together. It’s shocking, but good. In the past ten days, I’ve stopped eating junk food, stopped drinking alcohol, and deleted World of Warcraft from my computer. I’ve begun exercising again. I’m eating better (still not perfect, but much better than I was). I’m getting my chores done. I’m answering e-mail. And, best of all, I’m writing.

In fact, I’m writing so much that I’m almost a week ahead at Get Rich Slowly. Just two weeks ago, I was scrambling for every post.

I wonder why it is I sometimes lack self-discipline. If I knew, I could fix it. Sometimes this “flaw” makes life fun, but only in the short-term. (Long-term, it almost always makes life worse.)

Anyhow, things are back on course. I’m exercising, writing, and eating right. Now the key is to keep things going!

The Whole Point of Having a Tree

More from the J.D. and Kris show.

I’m upstairs, eating my dinner and answering e-mail. Kris is downstairs making a taco salad. She stops moving around, comes to the bottom of the stairs, and in a whiney/sad/bewildered voice, says, “Jay Deeeeee…..

I know I’ve done something wrong, and I wrack my brain to think of what it might be. I come up blank. “What?” I say, timid.

“I didn’t mean for you to harvest all of the apples,” Kris says, and I laugh. “It’s not funny,” she says. “I don’t have time to take care of all those apples. I told you I only needed three.”

“But you said, ‘Those apples need to be harvested.’ That’s a direct quote!” I say. I feel vindicated. I’m right!

“What I said was, ‘It’s time to start harvesting the apples,'” Kris says. “What are we going to do with all these?”

Actually, I had been wondering the same thing as I picked them. They’re pretty good apples: firm, fleshy, and not too damaged. I was impressed. Our pest traps seem to have worked. This is the first year we’ve had a big crop from our Jonathan tree, and it yielded about nineteen pounds. That’s a lot of apples. But what will we do with them?

“I’ll take care of the apples,” I say, hoping to buy some time, but Kris only sighs.

“You don’t pick apples all at once,” Kris says. “That’s the whole point of having a tree!”

Does anyone like apple pie?

My Wife Is Sometimes Wrong

Toto vomited on the bed again today. She does this all the time.

It’s not so bad if we discover the hairball midday, but it’s kind of a pain if we don’t notice it until we’re ready for bed. This time was sort of in between. Kris happened to wander into the bedroom just after dinner, and from her loud cursing, I could tell what had happened.

Sometimes Toto manages to get the outermost layer of bedclothes, which is fine. But often — like tonight — she pukes all over the fitted sheet.

“Can you help me take the covers off?” Kris hollered down to me. I was writing at the kitchen table.

“In a few minutes,” I called back. “I’m in the middle of something.” I had spent all day trying to craft a rare personal-finance article about credit cards. I couldn’t find the right tone. I was frustrated.

I continued to write while Kris watched the Republican National Convention. Half an hour later, she came downstairs.

“Do you need help with the bed?” I asked.

“It’s too late,” she muttered. “I’ve already done it.” Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was carrying something in her arms. Oops.

Later, when it was time for bed, I went to the laundry room to fetch the sheet. It was dark, but I didn’t bother to turn on the light. The sheet was easy to spot amidst the socks and t-shirts. I also found a pillowcase. “Toto must have vomited on that, too,” I thought.

“Just one sheet and one pillowcase?” I asked Kris just to be certain.

“Yes,” she said. I went upstairs to make the bed.

When I got there, however, I noticed that both of my pillowcases were missing. (I sleep with two pillows, and have done so for most of my life: one for my head and one for my side.) I sighed and walked back to the laundry room to fetch the other one. I couldn’t complain, of course. If I’d helped Kris in the first place, I would have known how many pillowcases were in the dryer.

We made the bed. Kris fed the cats their bedtime treats. (Each cat gets three “greenies”, a sort of organic treat they love. Then they’re kicked out of the bedroom. Except on Cat Night. Cat Night occurs once or twice a week, and is a cause for much feline celebration. On that night, they’re allowed to sleep in the bedroom. Of course, during the summer it’s rare that all four cats are even ever in the house at the same time, even over night. Tonight, for example, Simon is outside and refuses to come when called.)

The bed made and the cats indulged, I went to my office to write.

“Aren’t you coming to bed?” Kris asked.

“I’m not done with tomorrow’s post,” I said. And I’m not. I can’t find the right tone, and I’m not sure if I should list specific credit cards. Hell — I’m not even sure I should cover credit cards at all. I’ve given them a wide berth so far.

“Oh,” Kris said sadly. Then she said, “Where’s my pillowcase?”

“What?” I asked.

“Where’s my pillowcase?” she said.

I got up from my desk and walked to the bedroom to gave her my best look of incredulity. Then I said, “When I asked you if there was just one sheet and one pillowcase, you told me yes.”

“I know,” she said.

“But then I came up here and I put that one pillowcase on my pillow, and I realized that you were wrong. My other pillow needed a pillowcase, too. So I walked back downstairs to fetch it.”

Kris realized what I was getting at. She started to laugh. I continued my lament: “And now you tell me there were actually three pillowcases in the laundry?” I let out a long, dramatic sigh and trudged downstairs.

“See how it is to live with you?” Kris called behind me as she continued to laugh. I confess that I laughed a little, too. Our roles in this sort of situation are usually reversed.

Now if only Kris could see how it is to live with her.

Disclaimer: I love my wife, and would not share these stories if I didn’t think they were fun.

The Promise of Winter

The past two days have been strongly autumnal. The high temperatures have been in the low sixties, even though the sun has shone lazily through light clouds. The nights are almost cold. The lawn has begun to turn green again, a month earlier than I’d expect it to do so.

This evening, I worked in the yard. I wore a sweater as I pruned the trees. In the air, I could smell a nearby fire, but not a barbeque fire — a fire in a chimney for warmth. I could have sworn it was late October or early November, except that the leaves were still green (and the berries and tomatoes were still on the vine).

And just now, it’s 8:15. The sky has gone dark. Night is closing in, and with it comes the promise of winter.