I’ve ended another long weekend, yet again in an attempt to use up as many vacation days as possible before I lose them in February. I doubt I’ll get down to the one week I’m allowed to carry over–there are just too many days and I started taking them liberally too late. What a first-world problem to have.

Paul came over Friday night and we ventured out briefly for beer and milk. I picked up a gift card for him not-so-secretly while we were out. One of my goals for his Christmas present is to get him a bunch of small gift cards for both places he regularly spends money on necessities and some for fun stuff. I’d like to try to get him a Visa one, too, to use anywhere he wants. It’s Operation Save Paul money, since they cut his overtime until now and money’s been tight. Like every Christmas we’ve been together, I’m in a better financial position and thus buy him more than he buys me, which makes him feel bad no matter what I say or do, and in that sense, Operation Save Paul money is going to backfire–he’s gonna be able to see how much money I spent on gift cards, and even though he’ll be grateful for the help and he’ll accept it since it’s a Christmas gift, he won’t be happy. That said, I told him he can buy me presents after Christmas when his overtime paychecks come in. Of course, the “you don’t have to get me anything” line never flies.

I went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra Saturday afternoon with my parents and Kimmie and Joey, and it was a cool show, as always. It helped it feel more like Christmas. I also lost four Instagram followers after a TSO photo-posting binge, which I can understand might be annoying, but it’s also annoying to know some acquaintances would rather see food, cats, and selfies than actual stuff happening. At the same time, it is a nice, easy way to weed people out of social media. Social media has this way of enabling people to linger in our lives longer than they probably should.

After the concert, we ate across the street at the Steelhead, a restaurant in the lobby of the Marriott, which was really good.

Meanwhile, Paul was back at my apartment–sort of. Jacob was due in at the airport that night, so Paul was hanging out while I was out, as he didn’t want to see TSO. Jacob’s first flight was delayed, leading him to miss his second, so Paul hung out with me an extra night. While I was gone, he ventured out and ran into his friend Marc and his girlfriend, so he went out to dinner with them then played Skyrim on my fancy new TV until I came home.

The writers’ group from work met up again Sunday, though a little smaller in number. It went well once again and I really enjoy it and look forward to going in the future. They simultaneously boost my writing ego and give me constructive criticism–and they’re pretty great at giving constructive criticism. We even discussed what we like as readers versus what we like as writers. I did a little Christmas and grocery shopping before I headed home.

Monday brought another annual Christmas concert–B.E. Taylor, who I think just gets better every year. I’m hoping to write full, proper reviews of him and TSO over the weekend for AXS. I dropped off recycling on my way, got stuck in traffic because of buses and probably pedestrians and shitty Pittsburgh drivers, and was late for dinner. But this is also why you plan to eat two hours before your show starts.

And yesterday, I went over to see Meri, as she’s in town from El Paso for the next couple of days. Since I had the day off and I’m sure we’ll both be busy between now and when she heads back Thursday night, I wanted to take the opportunity to see her while I knew I could squeeze it in easily. So my mom and I both went over and had a delicious Polish dinner. Nolan was in, too, and I think it was the first time I’ve seen him since Stephanie’s wedding. We didn’t talk much, but things went well, it was nice, and we hugged at the end of the night.

And then I had trouble sleeping because I had a stupid dream about, like, a college/work hybrid involving people I don’t know and circumstances that don’t make any sense.

I’m hoping to but not counting on seeing Meri again before she goes home. This is why living an hour away from everything but your job and the city is a pain in the ass–it’s easier for everyone else to hang out, but I have to worry about getting home because of work at 7:00 the next morning.

The good news is Sarah’s having a Christmas party Saturday night. Same night as our Nutcracker tickets, but I’ll at least be able to make an appearance, even if everyone will probably be drunk by then and won’t even remember said appearance.

Friday Five: Likely Story

  1. You are awake at 2:30 in the morning on a work night (or school night). What is the most likely reason? Insomnia. Slight chance I stayed out late or was talking to Paul, although if we’re both still up that late on a work night, we’re probably fighting. Insomnia is the best culprit.
  2. Time Magazine says you are a candidate for 2014’s Person of the Year. What is the most likely reason? Best procrastinator or for saying, “Fuck this, I need to do what I want to do.” Or for backing lots of Kickstarters. Or not cleaning.
  3. Your hometown is naming a geographical or civil landmark after you, as in Mary’s Creek or David’s Corner. What is the most likely name of this spot? I hope it would just be a record store, really. But realistically, maybe a little park
  4. Your best friend from high school calls to ask a favor. What is the most likely nature of the favor? I feel like I was the closest to Katelyn then, so probably something with a baking business she’s trying to start up or something involving animals. If it’s a Craig, God only knows. I still feel like half of them hate my life, so it would probably be to leave them alone and not write about them. My therapist calls this logic “awfulizing.” I keep forgetting to call him.
  5. Twenty-four hours from now, you’ve got a great smile on your face. What is the most likely reason for this smile? That would be around 9:30 Sunday night, so a successful day of workshopping an essay/hanging out with writers and a successful Christmas-shopping trip afterward, in which I find many presents for not many dollars. And maybe also because I stopped for groceries on the way home and treated myself to sushi.

This weekend once again brought Steel City Con. It feels like I was just there. Those four months flew by.

I spent the night at my parents’ house Friday, where we played Cards Against Humanity and drank. I was there due to a morning appointment to get my hair cut–I didn’t want to drive to that from my place, then to Paul’s, then to Steel City Con, especially since there was the possibility of a pit stop to pick up Josh and Emily.

Ever since I first took Paul to Steel City Con, he’s been saying that they would love it and he wants to take them. It came up over Thanksgiving, so we actually brought them this time. And by the end of the day, I was glad I spent Friday night at my parents’ house–it ended up being a lot of driving.

We had lunch at Green Mango, as usual, and I would’ve conceded and gone elsewhere (or, like, gotten takeout for myself) if Josh and Emily hadn’t wanted to go there, but Paul kind of talked them into it. Even then, the only issue was Josh–I get not ever having had Thai food, but the kid’s never even eaten Chinese before. And he’s a picky eater, which I didn’t know. If I did, I would’ve proposed a different restaurant from the start, but I think Paul and Emily got kind of irritated with him and I know Paul thinks he needs to get out and do more and try more things. And I can see that–he spent most of the day when we weren’t walking around the con playing on his Nintendo DS. Emily actually told him to put it away while we ate, and he was glued to it the whole time in the car. Emily will talk, Josh won’t.

Emily is also probably my favorite. Paul’s been showing me this stellar vampire anime, Blood+, for a little while now, and he and Emily binged-watched it some time ago, so we end up talking about that a lot. And you’d think two people who have seen the whole thing versus one who hasn’t would get boring and dicey, but I think it’s a lot of fun, because I keep bouncing my theories off of them. And I always think it’s fun to be on the other end of that. And Blood+ is fun because there’s secrets and conspiracies and unraveling mysteries and I ship Saia and Haji so, so hard.

Steel City Con was pretty cool, as always, but the admission is getting expensive. 20 bucks is a lot, especially considering a huge chunk of the con is vendors. It’s probably more worth it if you’re going to see celebrities, but even then, most of then charge for autographs and pictures, so it feels like you’re spending money to be awarded the privilege to spend more money.

That said, I did have a good time and I’ll probably just keep going. Rumor has it Patrick Stewart is in talks to attend the next one. I’d bow at his feet and cry.

Also, I did a little Christmas shopping–found Terra a handmade baby Groot that looks cools as hell and one of the many Cowboy Bebop soundtracks for Paul.

And then I lounged almost all day Sunday.

We ate

Friday Five: Shenanigans

  1. What’s a memorable prank you were involved in, either as perpetrator, victim, or witness? I’ll give you two. In high school, the Craigs embarked on a bizarre, hilarious, and probably inappropriate and creepy string of pranks on our teachers where we left random objects on their doorsteps/yards, including everything from pool noodles and beach balls to salvaged landscape paintings with various photo printouts glued onto them. The items were often accompanied by anagrams–because The DaVinci Code was a thing at the time–that when deciphered were messages of love. As for the second, my parents and brother conspired to pull it on me. Brandon was out with friends and my parents were going to the funeral home for a viewing for someone, and the plan was to let my parents know if/when Brandon needed picked up so they could just go get him–and that’s what they did. Except they decided not to tell me and prank me instead. After they picked Brandon up, he called me in a very convincing panic saying that one of his friends got caught shoplifting something small from Hot Topic and he needed someone over 18–which I didn’t think made any sense, actually–to come pick him up from security, and he begged me not to tell my parents. So I yelled and lectured him over the phone about his dumbass friends doing stupid shit, especially because his friends at the time really sucked, and I agreed I’d get him and would cover for him but insisted his “ass was mine.” So my parents come home, and they’re in on this/orchestrated it, so I’m like, “Oh, Brandon just called, I’m gonna go get him,” and they’re like, “Oh, we can go,” and I insisted I would go. And I go down to the garage and Brandon’s down there. My favorite part is that my mother actually liked the fact that I was willing to cover for him.
  2. When did you last fool someone into believing something untrue? I’m pretty good at making stupid little comments that Paul thinks are true, but I reveal the prank almost immediately. I’m a huge fan at the moment of pretending to find weird things under his bed.
  3. What was a secret you accidentally let slip? Ha, the secret itself isn’t really fair to the parties involved to put on the internet. But I’ll say this–my parents are smart and savvy, and it’s hard to keep things from them because they almost always figure it out…and in some cases, find out by pretending they already know. Come to think of it, that runs in the family.
  4. What’s a memorable thing you did when you should have been at work or school? Well, as for work, I don’t call in sick when I’m not actually sick, but I’ll use vacation days so I can sleep in after concerts and things. I used vacation days to go to Mexico and South Carolina. I did skip school on occasion in college and high school, but I didn’t really do anything exciting. I normally just needed a day to relax and recharge–Terra and I used to call them “mental-health days,” and I’m grateful that my parents would let me just skip and sleep in and stay home every so often when I didn’t have a test or something.
  5. What’s a nice thing you did anonymously for someone? I can’t think of anything I’ve done anonymously, honestly. I donate money to people and things and I try to do little acts of kindness and pay things forward, but I don’t think I’ve ever done something like that anonymously.

So, Thanksgiving was pretty nice a low-key–especially compared to last year’s mess. But Paul’s grandparents’ dog  Woody was really excited to see me and seemed to love me, and I like to think it’s because of last year’s mess and he remembers me. And maybe wants me to liberate him.

I went to my parents’ place after work Wednesday and basically just hung out until we had an early dinner for Thanksgiving. Paul came over, we hung out some more, and then we headed over to his grandparents’ place. Sure, there was a little yelling and the annual tradition of no one knowing how to actually cook a turkey–I mean, I’m a fucking vegetarian and I could probably do it better–but overall, things went well.

Paul came to my place after and stayed here all weekend. Since I’m on Saturday rotation this month, I didn’t bother asking for Friday off, and I didn’t really mind working two days, being off for one, and going in for another two.

Paul was in a very appreciative, romantic mood, which I attribute to some health issues with his mom that are fortunately leading to her seeing a therapist, but that’s not my story to tell. Suffice it to say that they’re not huge, but it’s enough to kind of rattle him–not that that’s hard to do–and I came home to a cleaned bathroom Friday and dinner Saturday. Which may have been a factor in the large amount of sex we had over the long weekend.

We made a quick trip to the mall, since my mom is on a mission to find Brandon a certain Pens jersey for Christmas and isn’t having any luck. I didn’t find it, either, but I did buy more underwear I don’t need from Victoria’s Secret. On that note, Terra and I have concluded you men need an equivalent where you can get nice, soft undies and maybe some sexy things, too. We spent Sunday going out to breakfast, getting my groceries, and watching Netflix.

I wanted to take Monday off–the downside of Saturday rotations, other than having to answer the phone and caption commercials, is that when it ends, your only day off for the weekend is Sunday, since the rotations start the first Monday of the month. But the list was full. But since I want that time off and I have shit tons of vacation days to use before February, I decided to take today and tomorrow off instead.

And yet I’ll still probably have a surplus of vacation days that I’ll just lose.


Friday Five: Sarcasm

  1. What are you sarcastically thankful for today? Family drama, the fact that both mine and Paul’s moms were on antibiotics for Thanksgiving, and the fact that my new holiday tradition seems to be checking in with my therapist sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas because the holidays get more stressful the older I get, mostly because now they mean not only dealing with my own difficult relatives, but dealing with Paul’s difficult relatives, too.
  2. What are you sarcastically looking forward to this weekend? The fact that my monthly Saturday rotation ending today means I’m back on a normal work week Monday, which means my weekend is only tonight and tomorrow.
  3. What’s something that’s sarcastically given you a sense of accomplishment lately? The total state of chaos my apartment is in and the very large pile of dirty dishes that’s extending from the kitchen sink onto the counter.
  4. What will you sarcastically do to better yourself in the next few days? Most likely the same shit I do every day, but with lofty plans to do a lot then doing very little.
  5. Do you agree with Jon Cryer who said, “Sarcasm is lost in print” and Megan Fox who said, “Sarcasm doesn’t translate in print at all?” Not entirely, but I do think they had good points. I think we’ve all seen sarcasm cause problems enough times on the internet or in text messages to know that it definitely doesn’t always come across well. I think there are exceptions, though, and it helps when the reader is well-versed in sarcasm or appreciates it more in general.

Booking Through Thursday: Quantity

How much do you actually read? Few of us get as much time as we’d really LIKE for reading, but do as much as we can, so … how many books do you read? How many hours a day?

I’ve talked before about my multi-book habits, and I was just discussing this with a coworker–I get into a habit of reading multiple books at one time. Even when I manage to scale down to maybe two or three, I somehow end up adding to the stack. My grand total right now is 11, with one being an in-case-of-emergency travel book that stays in my purse (The House of Mirth) and two on loan–Phantastes by George MacDonald from Paul and The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks from Terra. The others are Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James,  The Portable James Joyce, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King.

I don’t really set an amount of time to read or pay much attention to how long I read–I go more by sectioning off the books. I have a little routine I go through to juggle hobbies with responsibilities like IYS and other writing stuff, and basically, if I have time for it between when I get home from work and when I go to bed (or somewhere else in a weekend or day off), I’ll read. It normally ends up being in the evening which occasionally turns into past my bedtime, since I try to devote a little reading time to each book when I do sit down to read. Basically, I aim to do a chapter. In some cases where the book doesn’t have defined chapters but has maybe short stories or even breaks in the text, I stop there. Looking for Alaska is a good example of this, since it’s separated into days.