Archive for June, 2008


Lose an hour to social psychology

Last week, I lost about two to reading all of the back installments I could. Fascinating.

The Washington Post’s Date Lab

I swear, it’s like watching Montel — you read it because you’re hoping something really bad happens, like someone gets really drunk and throws up or you find out they’re married and they lied on their questionnaire. Human theatre. I love it.


The funniest thing I’ve seen this month

I’m pretty sure this was the I.T. guy from my old company.


Wait … those aren’t real pins.

duckpins? what?

As I stared out of the window of the Metro Friday night watching Prince George’s finest blur by, I got an unexpected text message.

“I have a plan.”

Well, now that sounded promising. After a long five days, I could use something out of the ordinary.

And that’s exactly what I got.

People who know B and I pretty well sometimes make fun of us for our octogenarian tendencies — we like breakfast for dinner, we go to bed early and we like to bowl.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. We like to bowl. I don’t know how it ended up being a repetitive theme in our relationship. Maybe because we both love “The Big Lebowski” and have a cat named Walter Sobchak.

For me, it started in my childhood. When I was in kindergarten, it was only every other day. During that time, my Mom (a teacher) was working at another school in my county and my Dad (a welder/construction worker) wasn’t working at all. He’d been laid off for quite some time and his job, at least for that period in our lives, was child care while Mom worked.

On my days off from school, it was a BIG deal for Dad and me to go to the small bowling alley in New Martinsville, have hamburgers and french fries and bowl a few games. I remember I could barely roll a six-pound ball down the alley but I giggled and loved every minute of it. I asked every day I stayed home with Dad if it was bowling day. Because his heart was huge, almost every week had bowling day.

Now, about 23 years later, those memories are still vivid in my mind. My 29th birthday party was a bowling birthday party. I was turning 29 and it was a rock-n-glow bowling alley with a bunch of teenagers. The decorated bowling pin (a gift to me from Galaxy Lanes in Kanawha City) sits on display in my new place in Maryland. It’s as much a trophy to me as the Tiffany crystal vase that sits on the shelf above it.

But flash to this past Friday — we ate dinner at College Park Diner (a unique experience highlighted by bad service and a ONE refill policy on all drinks … hell. Simply hell.) and went a little bit farther down Route 1 to College Park Lanes. It was bowling day.

Here’s where things get a little out of the ordinary … We walked in to the bowling alley and made our way to the counter to get our shoes. As I case the joint (which was remarkably empty) I started noticing that there weren’t any ball racks. I turned to face the lanes. Midget pins.

“Wait … those aren’t real pins.”

And then a pause and then realization …


Never in my entire life had I actually SEEN duckpin bowling. I’d vaguely heard of duckpin bowling somewhere, but I’d never seen it actually in play anywhere.

What is duckpin bowling?

Everything you ever wanted to know about duckpin bowling can be found here. But here’s your executive summary: You bowl with an oversized skee-ball. You bowl down the same sized alley, but you throw at wee pins. You also have three rolls per frame instead of two.

Three rolls? BONUS! No. Not as easy as you thought. We didn’t even bowl right the first game until we flipped the score sheet over and saw that you got three rolls per turn instead of two.

Let me assure you, it’s hilarious. It takes you at least three or four frames to figure out HOW to adjust to throwing an oversized skee-ball with enough finesse to knock over pins and not put it in a gutter. Throw it too hard and it bounces. If you throw it like a weakling, you knock over all 10 pins.

Because I’m a geek, I came home, energized and fascinated, and did research. Duckpin bowling was invented in Baltimore. You can get a state of Maryland license plate for Professional Duckpin Bowling Association. I also have a new life mission. I’m going to become a professional duckpin bowler.

They take it seriously here, too — the College Park Lanes has a TON of duckpin bowling leagues. I can’t even wait to see what kind of league fits into my schedule so I can smoke Misty cigarettes and use a lot of hairspray and hang out with women who are 70.

Chances are, unless you’re from this area, you’re not going to see it where you live. It’s really a regional thing. But if you’re from back home, you gotta come here and try this out. You’ll laugh your ass off and then you’re hooked. And you’re not gonna get that kind of action at the Galaxy Lanes.


My quasi-identity crisis

Identity Crisis

Yesterday, some of you got an e-mail that I’d started a new blog.

And I had a good reason. I just didn’t feel like “me” anymore. I’m in a new city, a new job, a new life, new schedule. I felt like the Jacque Jo that lived and breathed in Charleston was a distant memory.

And the two posts I put up, which you can read here, felt pretty good when I put them up, but then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “blah.”

No matter what the scenery is (and for me, right now, the scenery is Ruby Memorial Hospital, Room 954), I’m still Jacque. I’m saving the other blog — those of you that have been with me for a long time know my radio show used to be called “The Show That Never Ends” and I want to keep the site in case I need it down the road.

But maybe the “identity” crisis is just a surface issue of a deeper swirl inside — an unsettled feeling, if you will. Here’s a crash course for those of you just tuning in:

I moved, which was a full-scale disaster from a technical standpoint. Two days later, I started my new high-demand job (that I absolutely love and feel fulfilled and challenged and what I should feel). Four days after that, my family’s life got turned upside down when my Dad went down with a spontaneous massive brain hemorrhage. Since that 7 a.m. phone call from my sister, I’ve spent 50 hours or so a week working in DC and spending weekends in West Virginia. I’ve not had a single weekend in Washington to sit around, see and do things we read about, do laundry — you name it.

Now, I’m not bitching that the man got sick — I’m here for my father because I love my father and I get so moved and thrilled when I see the amazing progress he’s made in four weeks. Two weeks ago, we thought we were going to lose him. Today, we watched him laugh when I said my sister’s house that she’s building looks like a Pizza Hut.

I’ve not had the time to make new friends outside of office friends. We’ve only had a couple of nights (including last night’s Duckpin Bowling adventure, but more on that later) to actually do real, normal, average “couple” things like going out to dinner or see a movie. I’m tired as hell when I come home and then I’m gone all weekend.

It was difficult to do it, but I decided that I wouldn’t be coming to West Virginia for July 4. We’re going to spend it with oh, a couple million of our closest friends down on the National Mall. We’re going to do all of the stupid, touristy things we want to that day and spend the night watching the biggest fireworks display in the country.

And I shouldn’t feel bad — I had a good friend remind me that I shouldn’t feel bad. She reminded me that I’ve exceeded anything that a normal situation would have expected out of me and then some. I tend to shoulder more than my share of responsibility for anything and I’ve done that as much as I can with my Dad’s illness. Every weekend driving to Morgantown to be at his bedside is as much as anybody could have asked out of me from Washington.

So, what’s the purpose of getting it all off my chest? It’s what a blog’s for, right? And I’ve had so many people tell me they miss my blog and they miss me. I miss everybody a lot, too. If I haven’t called you or written you back yet, it’s because I’ve been trying to adjust to a world I can’t control right now, but I’ve got nothing but love for you.

And as for the blog identity crisis, Jacque Jo’s going to stick with this one because after sleeping on it, it’s what feels right.


If it’s not down, it’s up.

Here’s a quick update in the form of an e-mail I sent my friends back home in West Virginia:

My Dad’s kind of like watching the Mountaineers play. He can’t just win. He’s got to keep it interesting and then he wins — but not before he puts you on the edge of your seat and makes you say a lot of colorful dirty words at the field.

To recap, Saturday my Dad was in septic shock. His heart rate was 168 and he essentially crashed. He’s still under heavy medication for a general infection (they still can’t find it). The high-duty antibiotics are giving him some kidney failure issues, but the doctors feel good that they’re not permanent or long-lasting, but they want to watch him very carefully.

Basically, neurologically — rocking. Physically, he’s like a Pinto — or an AMC Pacer at this point — with a rusted door painted primer red.

However, today, he spent an hour with a physical, speech and occupational therapist. She tried to hook something up to his trach (he’s fully breathing on his own now) so he could speak, and he couldn’t speak yet, but he CAN swallow. She also tried having him use a spoon to eat ice chips. He can put the spoon in the ice, and lift his arm enough but Mom said he’s having a little trouble hitting his actual pie hole. 🙂 At any rate, Mom is feeding him ice chips right now and he’s swallowing them COMPLETELY ON HIS OWN and he’s been awake ALL DAY. He’s currently enjoying the US Open and hoping Tiger Woods doesn’t blow it.

Him eating the ice chips is a huge step and it should also help with the kidney problems because it’s continued fluids into his system, so needless to say, this is a huge blessing for us, especially with what happened Saturday.

He’s definitely keeping this interesting, but we’ve got a long, long way to go. I just wanted to let you all know how he was doing because it’s been about a week since the last update.

Thank you guys for sticking with me — I will be back soon. 🙂 You know, once I stop spending all week at work and all weekend on the road. Keep the big guy in your thoughts, though!


A quick hello …

… Mostly because I’m already late and I need to get into the shower.

I’m moved, clearly. The job is fantastic and perfect and I love it, but it’s fantastically busy. Things at home are things at home. Things in West Virginia? Falling apart.

It’s entirely too long to get into this minute, but since June 1, my Dad has been in Intensive Care at WVU Hospitals in Morgantown, which means since June 1 my life has been working Monday through Friday and spending Saturday and Sunday at the hospital. He’s making progress, but it’s going to be a very, very lengthy process, so that’s just one of the many reasons I’m not writing much when I get home.

The other is just fatigue of all sorts — I get home somewhat late, and right now, I don’t really have anything great I want to talk about. I have all sorts of things that are bothering me beyond comprehension right now, but I’d rather not put them out here for everybody. It’s just basic life things — and I think with seeing my father’s situation firsthand, it made me realize how fragile life is and how nobody should spend even a single day living a life they don’t want to live anymore.

It’s your today.

It can be whatever you make of it and if you have people in your life not letting you live life to the fullest — in whatever way — get rid of them. You don’t need them. If you keep them around, they’ll only serve to continue to suck the life out of you and break your spirit. Trust me.

But to those of you who e-mailed, sent me MySpace messages, called me, sent me IMs, thanks for missing me. 🙂 I’ve got some pretty spectacular friends.

More later, when I can. It just may be a while.

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June 2008
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