Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Joy Journal

I'm exhausted from the persisting focus on the doom and gloom. The AIG bonus scandal dominates the news and apparently we've had to tell those taking stimulus money that it's not meant for building swimming pools and golf courses. Joe Biden is, to quote, "serious about this." I'm glad to hear it.

The exhaustion I feel does not preclude me from feeling concern for the people who are really struggling, but to the rest of us: enough already. Even Sooz, a true "snap out of it" personality, is dwelling in the dumps. With all the bad news and sad feelings, it actually feels inappropriate that I am in a good mood. But I just returned from a very nice long weekend with my parents and when I got back it was all sunshine and warm weather; Atlanta has made the switch to spring. Work is going fine, my husband is still the funniest person I know, it's Tournament of Champions week on Jeopardy.

Are our stocks down? Yes. Am I a smidge worried about my job? Sure. Even so, I'm abstaining from my favorite pastime of intense worry. What's the point? When my dad -- a loving but particularly gruff personality -- starts complaining (about anything) the family chants, "Time to get out your joy journal!" It's a therapist's method (or maybe it was from Oprah) for taking stock of the good things in life. I know, it's so good-natured I can hardly stand to write about it. But since it's the only tool I have right now, I'm giving it a try.

Today's joys (gag!) will include Obama choosing UNC as the NCAA champion, light traffic on the commute and, happening currently, watching a Jeopardy with my husband that I already watched with my parents and thus appearing as if I am really, really smart.

Yesterday the list included: America's Funniest Home Videos, the recent New Kids on the Block song and watching the cardinals on the bird feeder. It's the list of a loser. A happy one.

PS: My husband just announced he's making popcorn. Double joy.

Hubs: Do you want some of this popcorn?
Smash: Not really, just a handful.
- Enter Popcorn -
Smash, tasting a piece: Did you put sugar on this?
Hubs: Yes, just a little.
Smash: But I hate sugar on popcorn.
Hubs: You said you didn't really want any.
Smash: Yeah, but just because I'm not having any doesn't mean you shouldn't make it how I like it.
Hubs, en route to basement: This is what I'm living with.

See? Joyful!

Monday, March 9, 2009

When It Rains It Pours

It should have been a fun weekend. After 8 inches of snow the previous Monday, the temperature hit 70 degrees on Saturday. My dad, who had been in the hospital earlier in the week, had rallied and seemed to be doing better. D had made it to New York City, albeit on a bus which traveled the last half of the trip with a flat tire. Friends were invited over for Sunday afternoon to watch the UNC-Duke basketball game and have dinner afterwards. It was going to be a fun, inexpensive weekend. Or so I thought.

On Saturday, while I shopped for the makings of my lasagna dinner, Joe decided to take our old Jeep, the one D uses, in to our local mechanic for an oil change, tire rotation and brake check. Fine, good idea. A few hours later the mechanic called to say that both the front and rear brakes, pads and rotors, need to be replaced. $700.

On Sunday, our friends arrived. We settled in to watch the game. At half-time, I stuck the lasagna in the (relatively new) oven. 45 minutes later I went upstairs to check to make sure that everything was okay. Inside the oven looked like a bang-up July 4th display. Sparks were flying everywhere, and the lower heating element was flaming. After a few screams, I cut off the oven, rescued the now well-done lasagna, and decided to deal with this problem later. However, I was overheated from the excitement, so went to the thermostat to turn on the furnace fan to blow a little air through the house. I pressed "Mode", the thermostat flashed, and then went blank. Another problem to deal with later.

Monday morning. When the cats came into the kitchen to be fed, I saw that one of the kitties had a red and swollen eye. I called the vet, scheduled an appointment, and took her in. An hour later I left the vet's office with my cat who has pink eye, three prescriptions, and $207 less in my checking account.

As I drove home, I noticed the car making a strange noise. I am ignoring that for now.

Back at home, I called for oven repair, but no one can come out until next Monday, so I'm left thinking about what we'll be eating for a week that does not require oven cooking. At the very least, I know the lower heating element will need to be replaced and I'm betting that will not come cheap. ARGGGG.

The HVAC company was able to send someone out this afternoon. He was just here. His diagnosis: a wire has shorted out that connects the thermostat to the furnace. We can either cut dry wall throughout the house to find and replace that wire or (he recommends) we can purchase and install a wireless thermometer for just $568. He will be back tomorrow for the installation.

I know that none of this is a big deal. Things break and need to be replaced. But that damn thermostat could be money left in the bank or, better still, the new spring Michael Kors purse that I covet. So, I'm feeling grumpy. And sorry for myself. And out of sorts. Welcome to my pity party.