Booking Through Thursday: Letters

Different kind of reading … what do you think about letters? Do you ever send them anymore? Receive them? Or do you just do email and texts instead? Do you miss the days when people used to write letters?

Rare as they are, I do think they’re really nice. In some ways, they’re actually a pretty impersonal form of communication, but because they take more time and effort, they’re a little more meaningful. My friends–Sarah especially–were good at sending the occasional letter to keep in touch, especially as college and the working world have pulled us separate ways, and I always enjoy receiving them. It’s nice to get mail that’s not bills. I also always write a letter in response to one I receive, and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to start sending snail mail to my friends–not necessarily full letters, but cards for special occasions. I do prefer email and text and even hanging out in person, but letters aren’t a bad way to go at all.

I’m also a huge fan of therapeutic letter-writing. Sometimes, certain issues–or people–are difficult to confront in person and rude to address via text or email or IM, and a letter is a nice way to address something on your terms. It’s calm, it’s organized, and you get your chance to say what you need to say, and sometimes the process of just writing it is so effective, you’ve gotten everything out of your system and don’t need to send it. I’ve definitely written semi-confrontational letters I never sent, I know people who have done the same, and Terra and I even suggested Paul do it when issues with his mother were peaking and he was having a hard time addressing them with her.

Friday Five: Zero

1. What is something you have run out of? Tampons, I think, but if not, very close to it. Milk. Pasta.

2. What is something you don’t know anything about? Plenty! In particular, my brain can’t retain most things Paul tells me about his job or things my mom explains to me about accounting and taxes.

  1. 3. What is something that needs emptying? My bathroom garbage can, my head and heart.
  2. 4. There are a lot of stylistic or slangy ways to say “zero.” Which are your favorite? Zilch is a pretty good one. “Z” is a fun letter.
  3. 5. When did you last receive something free when you were expecting to pay for it? Got a free medium drink last night at Taco Bell instead of a small because they were all out of small cups. It was for the best, too, because Terra and I both I think underestimated our thirstiness and we annihilated that cherry Pepsi pretty quick.

I’m pretty over mandatory overtime. Granted, a nine-hour workday isn’t terrible, but I’d like to be back on my normal schedule for longer than a week or so. That said, the beefy paychecks will be nice.

This weekend was nice, too. Stephanie had a jewelry party–and the concept of going to someone’s house to buy things is foreign to Paul, naturally–and Paul’s new place is like 15-20 minutes from hers, which is pretty nice and convenient. So I figured I’d head straight to the area after work and go to the mall until Paul got out of work. The goal was to buy birthday presents for him, Meri, and Terra, which was a complete failure. At least I bought a ton of CDs and some cute shorts for myself, but that combined with the money I ultimately spent at the jewelry party made me feel guilty. I’m in a weird financial state of being happy with my savings account yet wishing it was bigger, so I can technically afford to splurge a little and it’s not a big deal, I just feel like I shouldn’t be. Yet like I said, mandatory overtime–they’re forcing me to make more money.

The  jewelry party was nice, though. I got some nice stuff for myself and my mom–and potential birthday presents were once again a huge fail–and even though I only knew Stephanie, Garrett, and her mom, I had a good time and her other friends there were all really nice and they were fun to hang out with. And I ended up staying hacking with Steph and Garrett pretty late before I made my way back to Paul’s.

Which, by the way, is amazing. He’s moved past the stress and into loving having his own space and his own stuff. The only tiny hiccups are things like his mom calling a lot when he was sick last week and him not really wanting to go visit home, but he did go back to get his gecko and used her as an excuse to not get stuck at the house too long. Pretty sly. Poor gecko is stressed, too, though, plus she’s due to shed soon, which apparently isn’t the best of circumstances, either. She’s been hiding in her little rock. And as much as I typically don’t like reptiles, I have to admit she’s pretty cute and it’ll be neat to see her next time I’m over. Plus she was always in her tank in his bedroom, which I think I went in maybe five times total when he lived at home.

I did successful birthday shopping Saturday, and Paul and I had a little  lunch at Primanti’s. And then we lounged the rest of the day–we finally finished watching Cowboy Bebop, which we started when he was in college, and I cried at the end. I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected. I certainly didn’t expect to cry over that ending, although I was warned it was sad.

Sunday was the family’s annual zoo trip, which Paul passed on, probably partly because he was tired and hadn’t gotten the gecko yet and was debating going. So I got up, got ready, and got out and to the zoo, which was probably one of the most fun zoo trips we’ve had in recent years–a lot of the animals were out and active, including the elephants being hilarious in their little pool.

My mom makes fun of Brandon and I for being in our 20s and insisting on going to the zoo every summer–me especially because I get a souvenir cup every year, and I almost wanted to go for my 25th birthday. But I did succeed in getting more birthday presents! I got a little penguin wallet for Terra.

After that, it was my usual weekly grocery trip, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally time for that to include local produce.

Long live summer.

Friday Five: All’s Fair

  1. 1. How do you feel about carnival rides? When my mom was in high school, she went to a little pop-up carnival I think at the mall and saw a bunch of boxes full of gears and parts that seemingly belonged to the rides. This concerned her and she was afraid the temporary nature made them unsafe, and we were never allowed to ride them. Now, I think the parts in those boxes could’ve been spares or something, but a childhood of being told rides were unsafe and you couldn’t go on them rubs off on you, so I share her paranoia and won’t go near them. Also doesn’t help that I have an irrational fear of permanent, relatively safe roller coasters–I’ll go on them and love them, but I’m always afraid of some catastrophe like flying out of a harness or the coaster derailing or collapsing or even just breaking down while I’m on it. And actually, these things might all be related…
  2. 2. How do you feel about carnival games? It’s s similar thing–we were at least allowed to play some, but we were always told they were rigged and we most likely wouldn’t win. Even though I’ve seen things on how to win, I don’t have much interest in most of them now anyway. Except for the dumb ones, like Duck Pond. And the county fair has a ring toss where you can win knives and it’s the most questionable redneck game ever.
  3. 3. What’s your favorite carnival food? Cotton candy, snow cones, lemonade, and anything fried. I’m not sure if this is a local thing or what, but fairs here also feature haluski, and it’s even better at the county fair when it’s made by the local churches. Local churches always have skilled little old ladies making prime haluski.
  4. 4. Which animals do you look forward to seeing at the fair? Since I’m a vegetarian, I’m iffy on animals at fairs and carnivals, at least in things like petting zoos because I’m never sure they’re being treated humanely. That said, I love goats in petting zoos.
  5. 5. How much does it cost to ride the bus in your city? I had to look it up, but it depends on where you’re going–$1.50 within Washington, $2.50 to take it out to Canonsburg/Southpointe, which is where I work, or $5 to take it into Pittsburgh.

Booking Through Thursday: Summertime

Do your reading habits change in the summer?

Not really. My reading habits mostly revolve around my free time, and with a full-time job that occasionally requires overtime plus other career-related pursuits like IYS, I often go weeks without touching a book–which is super sad, but not a whole hell of a lot about summer can change that. With the exception of vacations, where I take a book I’ve already started plus one or two extras. Don’t ask me about me beach/pool reading, though, because I don’t pick light reading. I once read a memoir about schizophrenia at the beach. I read The Virgin Suicides in Mexico.

Now, in high school and college? Totally different. I read a lot more, but I also had the time. I was known for disappearing into a bubble bath with a book for hours, and given that a lot of Harry Potter books came out in the summer, I spent a lot of late nights and early mornings holed up reading. In fact, one of the best summaries of how Deathly Hallows went is a picture of the pile of tissues on my bed that I burned through.

Is there a job I can get where the job is basically just summer reading?


I feel like I played nurse for a lot of the weekend.

Paul started feeling sick Friday, so he scrapped his usual plan of coming over here and decided to wait it out. The good thing about that is, as I’ve said a thousand times before, my Friday nights in alone are super productive because I gradually catch up on things during the week and get everything else nailed Friday night.

Saturday was pretty good, too, and Paul felt well enough to come over in the afternoon. He still wasn’t great, but we walked into town for the Whiskey Rebellion Festival, which was basically just a mini fair where I could eat haluski and fried food for dinner. In other words, it was great.

My mom always jokes that men are the worst when they’re sick because they’re whiny and act like they’re dying over the littlest thing. I do think there’s something to be said for feeling like hell for one week out of every single month for decades, and while Paul handles illness better than, say, my dad, it wasn’t a fun time. He woke up late Saturday night with bad ear pain and clogging–the same symptoms that contributed to a cold I had the summer we started dating and left me out of commission for a good three weeks. The good news is I know how to handle a clogged ear. The bad news is Paul’s body rejects all of my known methods and nothing much worked, except for drugs.

The catch is that we think said drugs contributed to the numerous nosebleeds he ended up having Sunday night and into Monday after he decided he didn’t feel well enough to go home or go to work. I have a theory that a contributing factory was that because he’s much more affectionate than I am, he enjoyed seeing a more nurturing side of me. And by “seeing” I mean “being on the receiving end.” Except I got a little more grumpy when he kept me up on a work night and was trying counterproductive remedies for a dry mouth. Like drinking things that aren’t water.

I have a feeling this illness was stress-related due to the move, although he seems okay now. And we did get to have dinner at Mr. Gyro’s in town yesterday, which was nice since we almost never see each other during the week if it’s not a holiday.

He’s now back at his apartment, where he’s celebrating his newfound freedom by eating whatever he wants, lounging around naked, and watching basically anything that would offend either a parent or his 12-year-old brother.

Friday Five: Veggies

  1. 1. What’s your favorite tomato thing? Because I love pasta, I love tomato-based sauces. I also love ketchup. But if we’re talking whole tomatoes, a tomato sandwich with mayo.
  2. 2. What’s your favorite celery thing? I like celery on its own, but probably my favorite thing it’s in is Grandma’s potato salad. Mom and I have gotten pretty close to recreating it.
  3. 3. What’s your favorite broccoli thing? I like broccoli on its own, too, but never seem to eat much of it. But I like it in alfredos.
  4. 4. What’s your favorite eggplant thing? Definitely eggplant parmesan, or this amazing eggplant lasagna this Italian place by my apartment has.
  5. 5. What’s your favorite spinach thing? Spinach and artichoke dip! I like it pastas, too, or even salads.

And Paul is officially living in his own apartment.

While I spent most of my three-day weekend lounging–and getting a lot of shit done, including submitting some writing for publication–I did a lot of it on Saturday waiting for Paul to call me over to the new place when he was all moved in. Which depended on when his dad got home from work so they could move his furniture and use his bigger van. And while there’s obviously not much to be done about that since you can’t really move until you have a vehicle available to transport your stuff, it is one of the little things that’s been driving me crazy–so much of life at his parents’ house depends on what other people are doing. And that’s fucking over now.

So he called me over in the evening and we were both starving, so we went to dinner at this new-ish bar, Winghart’s, that he discovered a few weeks ago with Ryun while Brandon and I were off seeing Eddie Izzard. And first of all, they make everything fresh and get everything from local farms and companies and such, which is awesome, but it’s a really cool place and the food–and mojito–was fantastic.

After we ate, I bought Paul his grocery staples as a housewarming gift. And I needed to buy a hairbrush since I’d forgotten one–when I go home for the weekend, I’m going to a house my mom lives in, meaning just about anything I need is at my disposal, so there’s a lot I don’t bother to take. I managed to remember that Paul’s apartment wouldn’t be like that, and of course he has short hair and is a dude so he doesn’t even own so much as a comb. I don’t think he was particularly thrilled that I left a few toiletries there, even though I’ll be there every other weekend, but I think that has more to do with moving stress than anything else. He’s kind of freaked out about the permanence of it and potential money issues, but I keep reminding him that he’s in a place that’s cheaper than mine, he makes more money than I do, and he works more overtime than I do. If I’m doing fine, he will, too. I don’t blame him for being stressed and not settled in, though, because I cried my first night apartment because the move left me totally broke and I felt like I was staying in a hotel, not my own place. And for him, he has the added bonus out of moving out of a house where he was basically treated like a child, so in his own words, he’s forgotten how to live alone.

That said, he’s obviously enjoying the freedom and independence, too, because for every moment he seemed stressed, he had two or three moments where he was excited and happy. When grocery shopping, he kept commenting on how he could get what he wanted and it would still be there the next day. He took a shower and was thrilled that he had his own soap and shampoo that he liked, not whatever his mom or sisters picked out for the whole family to use. When we left to run some errands, he commented on how nice it was to be able to just go and not have to tell someone he was leaving or worry about texts asking when he’d be home or where he was.

Naturally, much celebratory sex was had.

I think he agrees with this, though we didn’t talk about it much, but already it’s made our relationship feel much more adult–our plans don’t revolve around parents or siblings, just us or whatever else is going on in life. We can do what we want in both of our residences, not just mine, which is a very huge, welcome change considering we once got in trouble because I innocently sat on his lap in front of extended family.

To round out a holiday weekend, I saw Paul McCartney live last night for the second time, which was amazing. The first time I saw him was very surreal and excitement-filled, and this time was more of just enjoying the experience. It was an excellent show very similar to the one a few years ago, yet subtly different that you didn’t feel like it was the same show. And Sir Paul is an excellent performer and showman, naturally, who obviously knows how to work a crowd and put on one hell of a show. He’s worth the high ticket price.

And expecting a late night, I took today off. I wish it had been as productive so far as the weekend, but I guess I did have a lot of Tumblr to catch up on.

Friday Five: Schwag

  1. 1. What’s the most practically useful article of schwag you’ve ever received? A laundry bag in college. I still use it. I forget whose they are–I think a bank’s–but they handed them out in the dorms one year. I’ve also received a few tote bags, which are pretty useful, although if I get one or two more they’ll roll over into the “useless” category. Tee shirts can be useful, too, to sleep in.
  2. 2. What’s the most useless schwag you’ve ever received? Stress balls and pens. Stress balls are a good idea, but I tend to not use them and I don’t know of anyone else who does, either. Pens are technically useful, but they’re such a go-to that you run the risk of ending up with more than you need. Tote bags are getting close to hitting that level.
  3. 3. What schwag do you receive on a regular basis, and how do you feel about it? I don’t really receive much of anything, really, but because I go to a lot of concerts, the most common is probably stickers advertising bands or venues. And actually, I have some stickers for Inyourspeakers I should either distribute or put up somewhere in Pittsburgh when I go see Paul McCartney next week.
  4. 4. What’s something that could reasonably be great schwag material but for some reason isn’t? That laundry bag in college was a great idea, though you’re appealing to a very specific demographic with it, which could also work really well. IYS is exploring lighters, especially to give out at music festivals, which isn’t the most unique idea because it has been done, but it doesn’t seem to be incredibly common.
  5. 5. What the schwag that’s physically closest to you right now? That laundry bag from college on the other side in the room! I know there are some tote bags in my closet, too, possibly some pens in my nightstand, and my IYS stickers are in my purse.

I didn’t have cake on my actual birthday, but since I knew I’d be home this past weekend, I figured I’d just try one of Rita’s frozen-custard cakes, so I bought myself one Friday night to take back with me and lounged the rest of the night.

Irrelevant side note: I bought eyebrow stencils and powder and wax from Sephora a few weeks ago, so on weekends, I’ve been enjoying having what I call “sexy eyebrows.”

Saturday was Paul’s brother Josh’s graduation party and I was up by 7 that morning for some reason, so I took my time getting up and ready, then headed back home and hung out at my parents’ most of the day.

My dad was out cutting grass while my mom and I were talking in her room, and Brandon wandered back, too, when we hear this bang and assume my dad hit something on the riding lawnmower. And then we hear him yell for a fire extinguisher, and I have never seen my mother move so fast in my life. She booked it to the hall, grabbed two fire extinguishes, ran downstairs, and Duke tried to follow, but I stopped him.

The lawnmower essentially exploded as he was pulling it into the garage when he finished. We suspect a wire shorted out, and he got thrown off the seat and it caught on fire. It was small and he wasn’t hurt beyond being sore, but the whole garage was full of smoke, and you could smell it up in the house.

The whole thing actually ended up being pretty funny in the end.

I went to Josh’s graduation party with my parents. I’m determined to stick to my boycott of spending time at the house/with their mom, and I knew my best bet of that was to ride over with someone else so I had little other option than to leave when they did. Brandon and Kelly had their own cars so I did ride home with them and stay longer, and of course Paul’s mom pointed out that he could just drive me home later in the evening, but I didn’t want to stay. So rather than tell her in front of her family that I don’t like her and didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to, I said I was thinking of going out to Lynn’s, which was true. I just didn’t actually go and went to bed.

Now, the interesting thing about my boycott is that Paul’s mom talked to my parents for awhile, partly about he and I, and mentioned that she thinks I used to dislike her. In reality, she has it backwards–I actually found her very nice and friendly at first, but as I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve seen how selfish and mean she can be, and I’ve been put off so much that I’ve seen her I think three or four times since Christmas and have said such things as she’s the worst person I’ve ever met and I wouldn’t speak to her at all if I had a choice. But the silver lining here is that this does kind of validate my boycott–if she thinks we’re getting along better now that we’re seeing each other very infrequently, even if she doesn’t realize that’s the cause, it proves my point that we get along better the less we see each other. Granted, there are still things she’s done very recently that I think are bullshit and there are some things I’d like to say at the appropriate time, but things are definitely better this way.

Apparently, she also talked about having done some self-reflection and trying to make an effort to butt out of her kids’ lives, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Brandon jokingly gave me a hard time for saying that and said I should have faith, but I’ve also heard a great Oprah quote that says, “When someone shows you who you are, believe them.” And I’ve seen who she is, and she’s not been the type to follow through on her plans to change.

And finally, she revealed that she’s realized Paul and I actually are a lot a like and have a lot in common. I could’ve told her that four years ago when we started dating. In fact, I’ve been saying it to anyone who tries to tell me otherwise for the past four years, because, you know, no one knows a couple better than people who aren’t said couple.

All that said, though, it was actually a really good weekend. We were supposed to go to the mountains Sunday morning with Paul’s whole family, which didn’t happen because they just can’t follow through, but we had that frozen-custard cake and then went on a double date with Keldon to see Jersey Boys.