Friday Five: Happy Birthday, Bruce

  1. Hey, what else can we do now, except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair? (“Thunder Road,” 1975) Nothing else, because riding with the windows down on a nice day with music blasting is one of the most enjoyable feelings there is. It’s why I get really antsy when spring starts creeping in and I start opening windows the second it hits 60 degrees.
  2. Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse? (“The River,” 1980) Worse–disappointment. Dreams don’t promise us anything, but not having them come true can be crushing.
  3. So tell me who I see when I look in your eyes: is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise? (“Brilliant Disguise,” 1987) Nope, it’s me. I hate human facades.
  4. Do you think what I’m asking’s too much? (“Human Touch,” 1992) That depends on the question, but I’ve rarely thought something to be too much. I do think it’s too much, for example, for people to ask writers to sugarcoat reality or not share their experiences for the sake of other people involved, because everyone has a right to tell their story. It doesn’t give you the right to be a dick as a writer, but every time I’ve been asked something about negativity or something, I’ve felt like I was being asked to be dishonest about my experiences. I’ve also thought it was too much when my dad’s asked me to inform certain people that they’re not welcome in his house because I feel like that’s a dick move when he’s not the only one living in the house, and I don’t want to fight his battles for him. If he has an issue with someone, that’s on him to handle.
  5. Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart? (“Life Itself,” 2009) You know, I generally don’t think they do, But I think sometimes people are connected by something initially and either someone loses interest in whatever connected them or circumstances change or people end up with very strong differing opinions. And sometimes, people just don’t know how to handle connection.

And of course I’m doing the leftover/reject questions!

  1. Baby, did you make it all right? (“Racing in the Street,” 1978) Yeah, I did. I’m in a good, healthy place.
  2. But if dreams came true, oh wouldn’t that be nice? (“Prove it All Night,” 1978) Going back to #2  in the previous set, absolutely. I think everyone in the world would be happier, but it would be a strange place.
  3. Well son, you got a statement you’d like to make before the bailiff comes to forever take you away? (“Johnny 99,” 1982) I was framed!
  4. How do you live broken-hearted? (“Mary’s Place,” 2002) The only way out is through.
  5. How do I begin again? (“City of Ruins,” 2002) Make a serious, conscious decision to do it and try really fucking hard and do what you need to do to make it happen.
  6. Can you ask for anything more? (“The Wrestler,” 2009) I’d like more money, my own house, and a sustainable writing career, for sure, but frankly, I’m not unhappy with where I am and I know I’ll get those things eventually with patience, work, and maybe a little luck.
  7. Where’s the work that’ll set my hands, my soul free? (“We Take Care of Our Own,” 2012) Here–it’s writing.

Booking Through Thursday: Shakespeare

Okay, show of hands … who has read Shakespeare OUTSIDE of school required reading? Do you watch the plays? How about movies? Do you love him? Think he’s overrated?

Honestly, no, I don’t think I have, but not because I’m not interested. I’ve talked about my massive reading list before, and basically, I haven’t gotten to lots of Shakespeare because of that, aside from maybe a few sonnets. That said, I did take a Shakespeare class in college and our textbook had I believe his full, collected works, and I actually kept it after the semester ended to go back to and read later. That’s one of the perks of getting an English degree–sometimes, your textbooks and required reading are things you enjoy and use to flesh out your book collection anyway.

I haven’t seen a full Shakespeare play, and typically, they’re shortened anyway because the dramas especially can be quite long. But I am a big fan of Shakespeare in the Park, and I’ve gone the past couple of years. It’s look like I’m gonna miss it this year, though, for lack of time. I’ve seen a few of the movies and want to see more, but my favorites are the Baz Luhrman Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, even though that’s my least favorite play, and Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, and whoever the hell else is in that movie. Much Ado is probably my favorite Shakespeare play. The plot is fun, and the humor is great, and I really, desperately need to see Joss Whedon’s take on it. I hope he didn’t take some creative liberties and kill off everyone I love like he always does in his movies and TV shows.

By the way, Shakespeare is full of dirty jokes, and if you’re in college or preparing for college, I highly recommend taking a Shakespeare class, especially if the professor is one who’s likely to be pretty honest with you about the content. Including the fact that a good chunk of Shakespeare’s sonnets were written for men.

Now, I obviously like Shakespeare, but I wouldn’t say that I love him or call him a favorite. That said, I do think it’s crucial to recognize his talent and importance. We owe a lot to him. And I think people who dismiss Shakespeare’s works as being written by multiple writers are silly conspiracy theorists who can’t handle that someone was talented, successful, and timeless. And while I understand why some people don’t like him or might find the material difficult or inaccessible, it’s really worth giving a chance, even if it’s in film format, which does tend to make things a little easier to keep track of–especially that modernized Romeo and Juliet.

Months ago, my dad started planning for this year’s World War II weekend in Gettysburg. He booked three hotel rooms–three non-refundable hotel rooms, which would pose a problem in case someone ended up unable to go, like, say, Uncle Eric or my grandfather, who want to go every year then bail.

They were expensive rooms and my mother was furious, so my dad hilarious kept begging Brandon and I to go, saying, “If you don’t come, I’m screwed.”

He’s lucky that my much-anticipated Erasure show is the weekend after, because I didn’t check before I bought the tickets.

Brandon and I both went, as did Paul and Kelly, much like last year.

Dad went up Friday and drove by Uncle Clark’s house, because fuck if I know why. I think it has something to of with sneaking around and checking out the state of the house, possibly even taking valuable things out of it in case he gets rid of them or the house gets repossessed. But because Dad saw Uncle Clark’s car in the driveway, he did what any brother would do after having driven three hours to get to the area and he drove away. My dad insists he’s done with Uncle Clark because Uncle Clark swore at him and called him names. Now, I discussed this with my therapist and he pointed out that this may be my dad’s limit, much like I’ve reached my limits with people and moved on accordingly, but I think it’s hypocritical and stupid. Everyone has their limits, yes, but this is more like a sibling squabble blown out of proportion because the whole family is dysfunctional and doesn’t know how to handle a problem like adults. I also have a theory that only two of the siblings in that family can get along at one time, otherwise it throws off the balance of the universe. And now Uncle Eric, who was once the bad guy who was mean and called my dad names, is his BFF he has breakfast with at least once a week and Uncle Clark, who used to be the BFF and favorite, is now the nasty black sheep. I expect this to shift back to Uncle Eric once again in a few years, unless maybe my dad somehow makes himself the black sheep.

Despite all that, the rest of the weekend was actually pretty nice. After Paul, Kelly, and I got off work, everyone convened at my parents’ house, we stopped for gas and food, and got on our way. We got in around 10 and headed to our rooms, which were naturally separated by gender and not couple.

I don’t think many parents are comfortable with knowing that their kids are having sex, but my dad’s especially uncomfortable with it and insists we stay separate when he’s around. Thing is, he actually gets freaked out at the mere possibility of sexual activity and avoids the situation rather than enforcing his own rules. Granted, we were tired, had little time, and were frankly too wimpy to ask each other to swap rooms or squeeze in some sexytimes somehow, but with my dad’s room on the opposite end of the hotel and no real way to control four 20-somethings, we could’ve done whatever we wanted. All he did was say, “No hanky panky” and leave, although his version of that to my mother was that he laid down the rules. She suggested we prank him and act like we were up to sexual shenanigans. Brandon did make some joke about he and Paul getting naughty, which probably offended my dad more than any other jokes would have.

Paul was the voice of reason who wasn’t too into doing anything possible to make my dad uncomfortable, but I think this is partly because doing anything remotely close to that with his parents would be a catastrophe. But I’ve grown up with pranks and harassment.

And really, I should’ve said something just to get even with the annoyances of traveling with my dad. We had separate rooms, but he likes to text and call and then call the room to wake me up. The one perk to waking up was free breakfast, plus a cake he’d bought from Harrisburg bakery Dingeldein’s on his trip to creep on Uncle Clark. Dingeldein’s is amazing, I highly recommend it, and that’s the tastiest, lightest, most appropriately moist cake I’ve ever had. Their pastries are excellent, too, and the one disadvantage to staying in Carlisle this time as opposed to Harrisburg was not visiting Dingeldein’s in person.

The day in Gettysburg was good and fun–the World War II reenactment was interesting as always.

And then Uncle Clark showed up. My dad pointed him out walking across the field while we listened to a veteran discuss his experiences. He stopped near us briefly and we said hi, then he made his way up to the big, main tent where the featured speakers are and we never saw or heard from him after that. Brandon advised me since that Uncle Clark is claiming we ignored and avoided him, and if that’s true, this is one time I can safely say that’s bullshit. I’ll grant that it’s possible that he interpreted the day that way, but that’s not what we did–although I can’t speak for my dad. And I’m not sure if this is coming from Uncle Clark directly or if my grandfather or even Uncle Eric is playing middleman here. I don’t know if my dad and Uncle Clark have talked to each other directly, and I don’t expect them to either way because they’re like children who can’t just have a conversation and clear up a misunderstanding. That said, if I was Uncle Clark and my dad said he wasn’t trying to avoid him, I don’t think I’d believe him given that he ignores his calls regularly anyway.

We went to the Dobbin House for lunch, which is always delicious, although I think I’d like to try a new place next time. Then we drove around the battlefield, let Paul run rampant over rocks in Devil’s Den, and did a little walking through town. I was trying to avoid too much physical activity so as to not burn out before our ghost tour at 8, and I did a pretty good job. My dad kept making fun of me for it, but when he was sore and tired the next day, turns out I was right. Suck it.

The ghost tour was the best we’ve ever been on, thanks to our awesome tour guide, Steve. Paul thinks he saw an orb and I smelled incense that I can’t really explain, but other than that, it was a pretty uneventful tour. And maybe that’s a good thing…

We did hear down to McPherson’s Farm afterwards, where on multiple occasions now, we’ve seen weird, flashing lights in a little break in the tree line. It’s possible it’s headlights reflecting off a monument, but I think the look of the lights–at least at their strongest–doesn’t match up with the look of the glare or reflecting. We’d have to truck out again and maybe split up to know for sure, but it’s definitely a fun, weird place to visit, and we’ve seen those lights every single time.

After all that, I was exhausted and fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, then had trouble sleeping in the room hanks to a loud wedding party. But the next morning, it was off to home.

Friday Five: Wisdom

  1. Some people say you should never mix business with friendship. What experience have you had that would either refute or confirm this wisdom? None either way, actually, though I’m in the planning stages of writing a comic book with an acquaintance. Which might work out better than if we were already friends. Actually, now that I think of it, I have had some writing-related issues, mainly in that because I write and edit for a music site, I have friends who want me to write about their friends’/significant others’/their own bands. Thing is I have no problem with someone passing something along, but my frustration came in when close friends only expressed interest in my writing when it benefitted them to do so. On the other hand, Meri used to buy a copy of the newspaper every time I had an article in.
  2. Some people say you should never let ‘em see you sweat. What experience have you had that would either refute or confirm this wisdom? I can’t think of anything either way!
  3. It is often said that you should never put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today. What experience have you had that would either refute or confirm this wisdom? My entire life confirms it because I’m a very experienced procrastinator. I’ve been doing it since early in school and while I actually juggle it pretty well–which is probably just because it’s my normal–I have had situations where I was getting down to the wire in getting stuff done or had a lot to do in a short span of time. I always make it happen, but it gets stressful.
  4. It is often said that you should never get romantically involved with someone at work (there’s a cruder way of putting it, but I’m declining to use that selection of words). What experience have you had that would either refute or confirm this wisdom? Again, nothing either way, but I have always said I wouldn’t want to creatively work with someone I was romantically involved with because I think it creates too much opportunity for conflict. People have strong opinions on their art, and it’s very easy to get two people with differing strong opinions who are trying to work together. Even as far as my day job goes, I don’t think I’d want to work at the same place as my boyfriend, at least not in the same department. People need their own time and their own things to do, and sharing a job with your significant other doesn’t make much room for that.
  5. What piece of wisdom from your own life should be a catchy proverb for others to live by? I can’t remember exactly how I worded it initially, but I once told Brandon something about how if you’re questioning a friendship, the mere act of questioning proves it’s a friendship not worth hanging on to and you should move on. I also once said something about not letting people get away with being assholes. Similarly, I’m also a fan of the time I said that parents have the ability to shape their tiny human children so that they don’t grow up to be assholes and they should use it. Basically, my Twitter is full of angsty wisdom.

Booking Through Thursday: Family

Do other people in your family also like to read? Or are you in this on your own?

Pretty much my entire family does enjoy reading. My mom borrowed my copy of 50 Shades of Grey out of curiosity–which is weird as hell, by the way–and I recommended American Gods to my brother. My dad was probably the one making the most recommendations and talking about books the most with me, so he’s probably the next in line as biggest bookworm. The winner of that one, of course, is me. I’m the only one who will read multiple books at a time, who has a massive reading list, who takes pride in having a beastly bookshelf and not a TV. Reading has always been my thing. I do have some cousins who like reading, but it seems like I’ve always been the biggest one for it. Barnes & Noble gift cards have been an easy go-to gift for me for reads. Basically, I’m surrounded by enablers.

Paul and I kicked off this past weekend by finally using my Groupon for Kentuck Knob, which was basically a pretty solid two-for-one deal. Kentuck Knob is one of two local Frank Lloyd Wright houses–the other being Fallingwater–and while they both tend to be quintessential field-trip fodder around here, I somehow missed out on both of them. I went to Fallingwater once in college with Marion when we discovered neither of us had been, and I’ve been meaning to make it to Kentuck Knob ever since. I’ve been meaning to take Paul to Fallingwater since we started dating since he’s never been, either, and it’s the kind of house he’d love.

Fallingwater is definitely my favorite of the two, because duh it has a fucking waterfall in it, but Kentuck Knob is still really pretty and great to visit. I’m not super into architecture, but I’m definitely a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. I like his ideas of incorporating nature into the house, as well as his use of space. Our tour guide mentioned that he disliked attics and basements because he felt they promoted clutter, which I do agree with, however essential they both seem to be.

Frank Lloyd Wright also sounds like he would’ve been extremely difficult to work with, but when the end product is such a damn gorgeous house, it would be worth suffering through.

Our original plan was to go for a walk in the mountains after our tour, but it was a pretty shitty day in the mountains. The drive up was really foggy–though not as bad as it was the day we went rappelling–and it rained the whole time and was kind of chilly. It didn’t dampen the tour too much, and it was worth powering through anyway, but it did shoot down the possibility of an Ohiopyle hike. So we went to breakfast and lounged instead, then got takeout from Fiesta Azteca while we hung out at my parents’ house later. He asked me to hang out with him at his parents’ place and even though his mother was just fine the last time I saw her, my boycott continues and I won’t be lured into a false sense of security. Plus I’m pretty sure she’s just the type of person that’s best handled in small doses anyway.

Paul being relatively close to good ol’ Fayettenam means I’m now more inclined to truck it out to his place instead of crashing at my parents’ when I’m in for the weekend, which is kind of nice. So I spent the night there Saturday and didn’t feel like doing a damn thing Sunday morning, so I got Paul to stay in bed with me just about as long as possible. Full disclosure: “as long as possible” was basically “until he had to go buy condoms.”

After that, we took advantage of our one real chance to make it to the Renaissance festival, as we’re going to Gettysburg this weekend and I’m seeing Erasure next weekend while he runs off to State College. With any luck, we’ll find a way to cram Shakespeare in the Park into that, but I’m not counting on it.

I fell in love with Renfest last year, somewhat surprising myself. It was one of those things that I’d been wanting to check out, and then I discovered I’m a big fan of jousting and the whole general atmosphere. Our first order of business was to eat, and then we walked around and bought some stuff, caught a little show, and I got a henna tattoo all over my hand. Some of it smudged overnight thanks to my hand sweating because I wrapped it to protect the henna as long as possible, but otherwise, it’s a really cool crescent and star with swirls up my fingers and random little stars on my hand. I’m hoping the smudges fade first and leave the badass design behind–especially considering the swirls on my fingers are pretty dark.

I also discovered I find glass blowing fascinated and could see myself taking it up as a hobby. And naturally, I bought an expensive hand-blown mug that’s really pretty and my new favorite cup.

Friday Five: Spending

  1. What crowd-funding projects have you supported? If you haven’t supported any, were there some that really intrigued you? Shit, I’m all about crowd funding. I think it’s really awesome, especially for artists, and I’ve backed a good bit at this point–and this is a huge reason why I always make sure to follow my favorite outcasts from The Voice on social media because a few now have used crowd funding to continue their musical prowess. I’ve joked before that my apartment’s gonna end up packed full of things I got from crowd funding. My most notable backings are probably Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter for Theatre Is Evil and the recent Reading Rainbow Kickstarter. I’ve also pitched in to help save the bees, Solar Roadways, the Galactic Cap condom, Midas Whale’s debut album (which was fucking fantastic), Dawn and Hawkes’ debut album (which isn’t done yet), Cody Belew’s music video, and SLC Punk 2: Punk’s Dead.
  2. How much of your monthly bill-paying is done online? Very little, mostly because I’m more likely to remember to pay a bill if I have a physical, paper bill to send off. Also, my gas company charges like $2.50 to pay it online. What is that shit?
  3. What are some of the more memorable things you’ve bought or sold in online auctions? Sold a “Nobama” shirt my dad bought me because I guess he likes to waste money on stupid things I’d never use. Mostly I del old clothes, books, CDs, and DVDs I don’t want anymore to clear out my apartment and get myself some spending money. I’ve bought a few signed things in online auctions, but nothing too interesting. Mostly I use them to get stuff really cheap.
  4. What experience do you have with purchasing digital entertainment (music, movies, TV shows, or live web shows, for example) online? This is another one I don’t do too much because I tend to prefer a physical, tangible product for various reasons. I’m big on still buying and using CDs, for example, and I don’t like e-books and e-readers. That said, sometimes only a few songs are worth paying for as opposed to a whole album, so I’m a fan in being able to buy individual songs online. And that’s about as far as my digital experience goes.
  5. What kind of stuff have you bought or sold from personal online craft stores, such as are found on Etsy? I haven’t sold anything, but I do have a crafty side I’d love to explore more. I buy plenty from Etsy, though–that’s where most of that eBay spending money I mentioned adds up. Etsy appeals to me for multiple reasons. I’m a big believer in supporting small business, and I see crafty people selling their wares online as a form of small business. I’m supporting someone’s creativity directly, and a lot of those people make really awesome shit. My favorite lip scrub is from Etsy (as is my new favorite lip balm from the same seller). I recently bought underwear that says “You shall not pass” across the ass. They’re no longer available, but they’re from Nerds with Vaginas and I’ve got my eye on their “Mischief managed” underwear next. I’m a fan of Black Lamb’s and my former geometry teacher Larry Orlando’s cards. A pair of my favorite earrings came from Les Creations dAna, while this is one of my favorite rings. My iPhone case is a variation of this, and this is one of my current bookmarks in use. In fact, when my mom asks what she can get me for my birthday or Christmas, I just direct her to my Etsy favorites, which is how I ended up with these booty shorts. Here I come, Rocky Horror!

Booking Through Thursday: Your Recommendation

If a friend asks you to recommend a really good book—good writing, good characters, good story—but with no other qualifications … what would you recommend?

Generally when someone wants a recommendation–and not just for books, by the way, I request a genre. It’s mostly so I can narrow down my personal list, but also because some people are very particular about what they read. Some people won’t read fiction, some won’t read nonfiction, and sometimes people get picky about their genres. For the record, I’m of the opinion that you should never dismiss something outright because there’s probably something lurking somewhere in that genre that you’ll like, especially with as many writers and books as there are in the world.

So to make this really easy on myself, I’m gonna pick my favorite of the books I’m currently reading, which would be The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. It’s a re-read from college–sort of. I never actually finished it in college because keeping up with college reading, especially as an English major, can get tough, and The Diamond Age is kind of long and complicated. But don’t let that put you off!

It’s science fiction, playing maybe a tad with the ideas of utopias and dystopias. And technology, of course, because, duh, sci-fi. It deals with an interactive primer for little girls and what happens when a copy gets stolen by a boy who gives it to his little sister, Nell. There are lots of details surrounding who made it, how it works, where he got it, and what the fallout of that is, but much of the book follows Nell as she grows up with this primer as not just her teacher, but practically a substitute parent while she’s neglected by her mother and abused by most of her mother’s boyfriends.

In short, the primer molds Nell into a certified badass.

I feel like I’m getting sick, which I blame on Paul for being sick, coughing on me a couple times, and kissing me with said sickness. That said, I’m about due. I can’t remember if my last illness was in late 2013 or early 2014, but either way, it’s been awhile. But I’m hoping I can kick its ass and feel fine by like tomorrow.

It was another lazy weekend for us, mostly. We did have a little reception to go to for his uncle and aunt–they have two kids together, live together, and just never got married for whatever reason until back in June, so they held a sort of reception at Paul’s grandparents’ house and by some miracle managed to squeeze 100-some people into their yard. Paul was expecting a shit show, but it was actually pretty nice and things were calm and went well. And they had this red-velvet cake with cream-cheese icing in little mason jars that was like the best fucking thing I’ve ever tasted.

I guess there was a little drama regarding who helped out and who didn’t, but my argument is although the couple and hosting family has every right to ask for help, the bulk of the responsibility to get shit done is theirs. This is one of the things that’s always irritated me about Paul’s family–there seems to be this expectation that everyone has to get involved and pitch in with something, but it usually ends up being pretty big, intensive tasks as opposed to little helpful things.

His mom did pull a Helicopter Mom a tad with asking me when he was away how he’s doing now that he’s moved out, which is understandable, but this notion that moving out is something earth shattering for him is silly. She told me not to mention to him that she’d asked, but of course I did anyway, and he was like, “Oh, did you tell her how much happier and less stressed I am?” And although he quite obviously is, I didn’t go so far as that. She also expected him to truck into MedExpress the next day if he wasn’t feeling better, even though he only really had congestion and it started Friday night. This was Saturday. Ain’t no need to be going to MedExpress because you’ve had the sniffles for a day.

We ended the night watching TV, mostly, with some of the siblings and cousins. And I’ll grant Paul a pass because he wasn’t feeling well and heartily complains about his extended family these days, but I felt like holing up inside at a wedding reception, essentially, no matter how low-key it may have been, was some kind of rude bullshit. Like, your family’s all outside celebrating a marriage, so you can pull yourself away from TV, get your ass off the couch, and go be happy for them for a few hours.