For the past five years or so, Julie have been living a life that was, while not built around just surviving, definitely defensive in nature. Get Julie through grad school before she can't stand her job any longer and quits them both. Get the kids through high school. Hope Julie's cancer doesn't come back. Borrow money with the plan of paying it back eventually. Just keep it all together and functioning, reacting to each crisis as it happens, using as much mental duct tape as necessary, until we can manage to gain control and start doing what we want to do instead of what we have to do. Until we can make it to the New Life.
I'm very happy to say, the New Life has started. Julie has her masters degree and board certification and is working as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She likes the work, the pay is good, and she's working daytime hours so we get to see each other a lot more. It's been five years since her cancer treatements finished. And now that I have a CPAP machine that helps me sleep a lot better (more on that later), I have a lot more energy. And we've decided that now is the time to deal with something we've both been postponing: our weight.
We're eating better - a lot better. Lots fewer calories. We're going to the gym together 4-5 nights a week. In five weeks I've lost 14 pounds. Today Julie ran her first race ever, a 5k. She's already signed up for a 10k in October and a 10k followed the next day by a half marathon at Walt Disney World in February. Our plan is to keep pushing until we are both well under 200, and then to stay there. We're feeling great, we're feeling empowered, and this is gonna happen.
A few months ago, I took my daughter to Walt Disney World for a long weekend. We used to do these trips a lot, when she was younger, but we hadn't gone since Brett and I separated, and now she's nearly an adult. We had a great time, but that's not what I'm thinking about today. Instead, I'm thinking about what a valuable asset it must be for a corporation to have so many iconic characters, from so many decades, that it can use however it wants. One example: the Wishes firework show at the Magic Kingdom features the voice of Jiminy Cricket and the song "When You Wish Upon A Star" (from 1940's Pinocchio) and starts off with Tinker Bell flying over Cinderella's Castle. Another example: the upcoming video game Disney Infinity, which allows players to mix and match characters and props from about a dozen different movies (Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story, Fantasia, etc.). People see these iconic characters and immediately associate them with Disney. What other corporation can do that? Warner Brothers has the great Looney Tunes characters, but what have they done with them in recent decades? Universal Studios has pushed hard to create a Harry Potter world in the Islands of Adventure theme park, but who looks at Harry and Hermione and Ron and thinks "Ah, yes. Universal Studios. They also gave us Lon Chaney films and Jaws." Does anyone outside the industry know who the original United Artists were?
So, back to Disney and their roster of easily recognizable iconic characters. Purely for my own amusement, here's a selection (by no means complete) of their bigger player, sorted by decade.
Holy crap that's a lot. And it's by no means complete. Granted, not everyone would know all these characters, or what movies they were in, but they're pretty damn recognizable, and most people who do recognize them would know what company created them. Which says a lot for Disney's ability to stay on point, decade after decade. Regardless of your opinion of massive ever-expanding global corporations, you gotta respect that.
And oh yeah, one more thing. They recently added another iconic figures to the roster:
Julie is a connoisseur of bad words. Not only are "Jesus Fucking Christ!", "Holy shit!", "Move your ass, motherfucker!" some of her most commonly uttered phrases, she also knows what are apparently some really horrible curses in Tagalog, Hindi, and Nihongo. She likes to test these out on native speakers, to make sure she is saying them right.
This shit is really important to her.
So, what ghastly expletive did she utter last night, when she stepped on a piece of glass and drove it half an inch into the sole of her foot? Did it make the paint peel off the walls in seven different languages? Did it make the angels weep, and the demons cower in the corner? Did it shift the earth on its axis and permanently alter the numeric value of the gravitational constant? Or was it simply the relatively mild "Ow! Mother of God."
Today, poor Julie is hanging her head in shame. For years she has been preparing for just such a moment, only to allow it to slip past her.
So, Julie's been catching me every now and then with the showerhead: turning it to point out into the room, instead of down, so I get good and sprayed when I turn the water on. But yesterday she went to take a shower, and as she turned the knob her thought process went something like:
"Michael already took a shower this morning right? Or was he going to go to the gym? Oh, I think maybe he did go to the gym, so he didn't take a shower, which means the showerhead is still OH SHEEEEEEEEIT!"
Life's been going pretty good the past few months. Financially, as the consequences of my divorce are easing and Julie's continuing recovery from the cancer treatments makes it easier for her to work, plus a nice gift from my parents, we're doing a lot better than we have in several years. More money coming in than going out is a damn nice place to be. Nice enough that we felt comfortable borrowing some money and getting a little something for Julie:
Not quite as fast as it looks, but it is a nice piece of machinery. And it means I don't have to drive us everywhere in my car.
Our cable company finally made HBO Go available to us. Similar to NetFlix's streaming service, it's a really spiffy system, if you already have HBO. In addition to having access to more movies than HBO On-Demand, it also let's you access all episodes of every series HBO has ever run. I've watched Luck and Rome, and Julie's been watching Big Love. Works nicely on our PCs, iPads, and iPhones. Very nifty.
Julie's just about finished her bachelor's degree. It probably won't benefit her career directly, but it does allow her to pursue more advanced degrees, which she couldn't do with just a two-year degree. Yesterday, she got an acceptance letter to the University of South Alabama's critical care nurse practitioner program. So, in a few years, she'll be able to get a job where she's the one who can prescribe medicine, order treatment, and tell someone else to clean up after the crazy patient who just pooped all over the floor. So that's a yay. Meanwhile, she's going to take additional classes at the local community college so that she can apply to either medical school or pharmacy school later. Or maybe go for a nurse anesthetist degree. As my mom told her, when she gets a fire lit under her, she really gets a fire lit. And I am so very proud of her.
Me, I'm just doing my job. I've transferred back to my old department, after a three-year stint in programming that didn't work out. I learned some good stuff, but the project they assigned me to was a really bad idea, and it just kept growing, instead of ending. Feels really good to be out from under it.
And because some things never change, I went to take a shower the other night, and she'd set a trap for me. The shower head was pointing out into the room, instead of down. I got wet, my towel got wet, the dog got wet. We both yelped (the towel remained silent). Yup, that's my baby.