Friday Five: Wrap It or Cap It

  1. What did you last stick a sticker on? I think myself/Paul when we went on our Kentuck Knob tour.
  2. What did you last put a lid on? The Italian dressing I used on a salad I made myself.
  3. What did you last wrap in foil? A potato, which I then baked. That was probably last week.
  4. What did you last unscrew a screw out of? Me personally, I’m not sure. But I had Paul take a look at my medicine cabinet after I accidentally knocked the bracket off that keeps it closed, and he unscrewed the back on the door to see if we could fix it. He concluded it would require welding, so my mom gave me little adhesive velcro things instead.
  5. What did you last hold together with tape? Probably a package of some sort from something someone bought off of me on eBay. Clean out apartment, make money.
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I realized–and this probably should’ve been obvious, and maybe it was to basically everyone but me–that I get irritable before seeing Paul’s mom, like just the knowledge that I’ll be interacting with her puts me on edge, which obviously is not good. This happened with a few people in the past and naturally–and again, obviously–some form of apprehension like that is my sign that I need to not spend time with whoever it is. It happened in high school with the class bitch, Danielle, and I switched lunch tables for my own sanity. It happened with the Craigs, and I haven’t spoken to about half of them in something like a year or two, at least not regularly. But I can’t avoid my boyfriend’s mom on that level, unfortunately. I do my best and I have it down to only once every few months, which admittedly works out great. I still think she’s an awful woman and I’m at a point where I’m almost resentful of her because it’s very obvious that Paul’s a bit fucked up because of her, but short of screaming at her, I can’t do much.

And yes, this means I dealt with her over the weekend, and again, she was pretty much fine. It was frustrating, though, because we were trekking up to the mountains for Paul’s dad’s birthday and they’re not exactly good at planning things. Paul and I were given two possible times Friday night–1o or 12–and by 9 Saturday morning, that changed to 2. This haphazard planning works fine when you’re only dealing with the family under one roof, but when Paul’s moved out and they’re inviting me along, it gets dicey. We both have to drive an hour to come in, and I can’t speak for him since it’s his family, but my life doesn’t revolve around them and I’m not thrilled abut spending a Saturday sitting around accommodating their constantly changing plans. Plus I think it’s rude and suggests that my time and plans don’t matter.

So I decided to see Gone Girl with my mom while I waited, partly since I knew it was going to be a busy weekend, we both wanted to see it, and this might be our only chance to go that weekend.

We both liked it. It was good. I feel like maybe it was overhyped, though, because I didn’t love it like I thought I would. That said, it’s a movie definitely worthy of a second viewing, and I’d love to read the book, too. It could just be that things played out so differently from what you’d expect that it was a little jarring, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Now, I’m normally very anti-cellphones in movies (and stage productions, concerts, etc…) but I just had that sense that it was getting late and the movie wasn’t quite wrapped up yet. Since there was only one other small group in the theater and they were in front of us, I did turn my phone on, and sure enough, it’s close to 1 and Paul tries to call me. I texted him instead, and naturally, that was the time they decided to go to the mountains. Granted, there was a slight miscommunication where Paul made it sound like they were leaving at 2 when they were planning to get there at 2, but even so, it doesn’t take an hour to drive up to the mountains. So after the movie I booked it to my parents’ and Paul and I took his car to meet everyone up there. We decided on taking a separate car because Paul’s family like a more casual Ohiopyle trip and Paul likes hiking as far and long as he can, and I know from experience that going up as a big group and being at the mercy of everyone else ends in a disappointed, slightly cranky Paul.

We were there for their annual buckwheat pancake festival. I don’t know why buckwheat pancakes are so good because I ate plain ones–I didn’t want to venture into weird pancake territory–and Paul, who knows my taste pretty well, was adamant that I’d hate buckwheat pancakes. They were good pancakes, but again, possibly overhyped. Not even the street vendors up there were impressive. Plus I hate going to Ohiopyle when it’s crowded because then it’s really difficult to enjoy the place. It’s hard to park, for starters, and then everything is crowded and it’s hard to go where you want and do what you want. The one advantage of fall crowds is they’re not too interested in hiking or anything, so when Paul and I did go off on our own, we were pretty much truly on our own–unlike last time, which I believe was Labor Day, when I got stuck trekking over some rocks behind a woman in flip-flops carrying a baby. Because what could be safer?

Sunday was a surprise party for Paul’s dad, which was pretty nice and fun. Julie’s boyfriend, Michael, is solidifying himself as the favorite significant other in the family, which I joked isn’t hard to do with me around, and part of that is he actually helped out. Julie might not give him much choice, I don’t know, but I do know I’d never volunteer to pitch in for something…mostly because that means spending more time around his mom–and even the siblings get to me at times, except Emily–and we’ve already established how unwise that is.

The weekend was tame, though, compared to last night. Paul and I trucked into the city after work, met up with my parents, had dinner, and then saw Fleetwood Mac (for the second time). YES. Apparently, I didn’t write about when we saw them the last time (what the hell!?), but they were fantastic then and they’re fantastic now with Christine McVie back. I plan to write a full review of it later for AXS, but basically, I’ve been hearing my mom say for years how she didn’t want to see them live without Christine because it wasn’t the same. When they were here last year, I pretty much said, “Look, Christine said she’s not coming back. She’s been gone for 15 years. Maybe it’s time to give in and see them without her.” And then what happened? She played a show with them, realized she wanted to keep playing shows with them, and rolled into Pittsburgh about a year and a half later.

As I said on Twitter: I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.

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Friday Five: Cards Against Humanity

  1. How many of those frequent buyer stamp-cards are you carrying around, and which promises the best reward upon completion? Technically, six, although two are for the same place and one is for a place that’s since switched over to an app. The best is probably one for mini golf because it requires the fewest number of punches/stamps before you get a free game. A couple of them get you $20 off after you spend so much money.
  2. How many of those magnetic-stripped discount cards are you carrying around, and which offers the best rewards? So many. 11. Almost all of them accumulate points which then get you discounts or free stuff. The best one is probably for Sheetz, which gets me three cents off gas plus a free food item, drink, etc. after I buy 10. I’m also a big fan of the Sephora one, which doesn’t get you much more than samples, which leads to me buying more stuff there, but it fuels my addiction. The one for the local movie theater is good, too. You have to spend a good bit to get perks, but the perks are free snacks and free admission, so it’s something.
  3. How many other people’s business cards do you carry around, and which do you refer to most? Just one, and it’s an old business card from my employer’s HR guy from when I interviewed over three years ago, and this meme inspired me to toss it out because I don’t need it. I did have my therapist’s card in my purse, and that’s getting pinned to me cork board for reference.
  4. How far away from you is the nearest deck of playing cards? I don’t think there’s one in this apartment at all, actually.
  5. How many identification cards with your photo do you carry around? Just two–driver’s license and work ID.
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Booking Through Thursday: Obscure

What’s your favorite genre that other people might not read? I mean, mysteries, romances, real-crime … these are all fairly widespread categories. But real readers don’t usually limit themselves to just the “big” genres … so what’s your favorite little-known type of book? Books on dogs? Knitting books? Stories about the space race? Mathematical theory?

So, I have a couple to tackle here, I think.

First, sci-fi. Now, I don’t think it’s a particularly obscure genre, but I do think it’s one that tends to be underrated and brushed aside. Sure, it’s nerdy and not all of it’s good–which can be said of all genres, frankly–but when it’s on, it’s on. You see some great writing in it, plus world building, attention to detail, creativity, observation, and social commentary. I love books that are very well-planned and intricate where maybe you’re not sure where things are going for awhile until suddenly, everything comes together perfectly.

Another is graphic novels, which is again not necessarily obscure but is looked down on and dismissed, but again, the good writers really nail it and take things beyond triviality. Plus there’s a hell of a lot to be said for being able to effectively work with both words and drawn pictures to create a good, compelling story. I wasn’t sold on the genre until I read Watchmen, then I tackled Sandman over the course of the past year-ish, and they’re both example of what I already said I love about sci-fi, too–intricacies that collide to create excellent storytelling.

And finally, something that is a bit more niche–Holocaust memoirs. My dad’s a WWII buff, so at a point in school where most kids are just starting to learn about what happened during the Holocaust, I was already well-aware, and I’ve always been interested. I’m not completely sure why. Maybe it’s the fact that someone can be so full of hatred that they choose to kill and harm so many people and that they can manage to suck enough people in that agree that they manage to pull off one of the greatest atrocities in history. Holocaust survivor stories are always heartbreaking, as well as compelling because each person experienced something different and has a different perspective, meaning no two stories are the same. I also feel that one of the best ways to get an idea of what any era, place, or event was like is to read firsthand accounts, and in the case of the Holocaust, it’s important to keep telling these stories and be aware that we have a responsibility to put an end to genocide, which is still happening.

Now, graphic novels and Holocaust stories collide excellently with Maus, which is actually two books by Art Spiegelman that tell his dad’s (and in part, his mom’s) Holocaust story, and the reason I bring up Maus is it’s the perfect example to illustrate the points I’ve already made…and I just finished the first book a few days ago. This isn’t just a rehashing of Art’s dad’s story–Maus is a comic/graphic novel, though drawn all in black and white, and it uses animals to tell the story. The Nazis are cats and Jews are mice, hence the title, and even though it seems like an almost absurdly simple framing devise, it’s ridiculously effective. It’s not that Maus wouldn’t be a strong story otherwise, but using the animals adds a layer and potential makes it slightly more accessible for younger readers–but don’t think that means it’s too juvenile for adults. My brother expects I’ll cry when I finish it, for one, plus it doesn’t sugarcoat any atrocities of the Holocaust. Art seems to have great instinct, too, because the book is written just his dad told it, complete with broken English, interruptions, missing pieces, and some father/son interaction that helps to characterize both of them, as well as show their relationship and the aftermath of the Holocaust so many years later. I highly recommend it to everyone, no matter what you like to read.

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Fall is officially setting in. I’ve complained before about how we didn’t get much of a summer, but warmer temperatures did linger throughout most of September. And now leaves are slowly changing and falling, and I’ve spent most of the weekend in a hoodie and my new boots.

It’s been a cold weekend, clearly. I was hoping to squeeze in a walk or two in the park, but as it barely hit 50 and I hate the cold, that didn’t happen. But I did find an indoor heated pool very close to Paul’s apartment, so we’re hoping to make a weekly habit of swimming once some eventful weekends coming up pass. Our original plan was to do indoor rock climbing through the winter to get/stay in shape and take the place of our walking routines, but we figured out pretty quick that the expenses of that will add up. Indoor heated pool is five bucks, potentially cheaper with monthly passes or a full membership, and we could walk to it if we really wanted to. And my parents have been swimming at their local YMCA a few times a week for a few months now, and my mom’s noticeably thinner. I don’t think Paul and I need to get thinner, but we both could benefit from exercise.

It was a lazy weekend. We went to the movies and saw A Walk Among the Tombstones. Paul’s been trying to hunt down Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series for awhile and I did get him one for his birthday. When he heard about a movie adaptation of one starring Liam Neeson, he was pretty into going, and it definitely looked good. And it was. It’s a series about a retired cop who becomes a private detective of sorts, and this one in particular followed a guy who was trying to figure out who kidnapped and murdered his wife. In some ways, it’s a very cliched story and a very cliched setup, but–and this is probably a testament to Block’s writing and how long the series has been ongoing–it didn’t feel cliched. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking or new, either, but it’s has enough effective yet not cheap twists to keep you engaged as a viewer. It’s not a mind-blowing movie or the best movie ever made–maybe not even the best movie of the year–but it is worth seeing, especially for fans of procedural/crime dramas. And Liam Neeson is excellent, as always. I’d definitely love to see more of him as Matt Scudder.

We also had dinner Friday night at the Upper Crust, which was unusually slow with mediocre service, then dinner Saturday at Mr. Gyro’s, where we haven’t been in awhile. We also made a stop at the Gaming Dungeon last night and did my grocery shopping today after it became pretty clear the weather wasn’t going to warm up to my standards to go walking.

I’m hoping the local farmers-market stands stay open just a little bit longer. I’ll miss my regular influx of good, cheap produce when they’re gone for the season.

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Friday Five: Rebel Rebel

Before we begin, let me say that I typically didn’t rebel solely for rebellion’s sake–I had a reason for it.

  1. In what ways have you rebelled against your upbringing? The biggest one is probably religion. I was raised Catholic, and although my mom’s not super devout or super religious, there was a level of expectation for me to follow it and it didn’t happen. I remember losing interest in middle school, and the older I got, the more boredom shifted into distaste for a lot of the church’s teachings and policies, continuing up to now. I remember in high school, interestingly enough, that we used to do these AIM chat rooms in the summer to keep in touch–before social media really existed–and I mentioned once how I didn’t foresee myself keeping up with Catholicism as an adult when my mom couldn’t force me to go to church, and Leah did accuse me of doing it out of rebellion and not because of my actual opinions. Wrong. I think my dad also had this hope of raising two Republicans, and that failed. He also tried to get Brandon and I to be super prepared, like preparing clothes and things the night before, and neither of us ever really took to it.
  2. In what ways have you rebelled against your schooling? I went to Catholic school until I got to college, so it was very similar to my upbringing. In fact, I think Catholic school kind of helped turn me off of Catholicism because the teachings and reasons for them didn’t make sense and really started to feel like they were designed to control rather than uplift and enlighten–not that religion tends to always do that. Funnily enough, Paul once was a tad buzzed at an auction at my high school and started talking to our freshman religion teacher, telling him he knows a lot of people who came out of Catholic school abandoning the religion and he didn’t, which he felt was due to that teacher. I do have to admit he was one of the best in the school and went farther than just telling us what the church taught–we had real-world applications and discussions on why the church believed some of what they did and why they might be wrong. The problem was that teaching didn’t continue throughout, and it became very easy to say, “This is ridiculous. I’m out.” Another thing was the fact that I majored in writing–math and science were pushed heavily in elementary school and although English was valued much more in middle and high school, it’s not exactly something people want you to try to make a career of. In a way, this was a rebellion against my parents, too, because very few people want you to major in writing, really. I’ve said before that people want you to be well-read and articulate until you want to do it for a living.
  3. In what ways have you rebelled against American culture? Majoring in English, which is the double whammy of not just choosing a slightly unconventional career path but also choosing one I loved (and the added bonus, though this doesn’t count as rebellion, of actually knowing that’s what I wanted to do within my first year of college). I’ve also been really drawn to countercultural things since my early teens, which is more subtle now, but it still tends to manifest itself in what I like to read, listen to, watch, and even how I like to dress. Not that I dress super weird (most of the time), but even jeans and t-shirts aren’t what girls tend to wear. My youngest cousin, when she was little, once asked me why I dressed like a boy because I wear jeans and t-shirts and her sisters were a little more girly and and a little more mainstream. I’m a vegetarian, too, which is especially frowned upon in rural Pennsylvania. And I swear a-fucking-lot, which seems common yet frowned upon. And so help me God, when I’m in a position to dye my hair pink or purple…
  4. Is it possible to rebel against yourself? I don’t know that I’d call it rebellion, but I think self-sabotage is very real. I think as far as actual rebellion goes, it’s probably more like people trying to change or do something different and struggling with it. I think it’s highly possible to lash out against something you’re doing or thinking, but I think a lot of this stems more out of unhappiness and frustration then anything else.
  5. What’s your favorite song about rebellion? Probably either Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” or Green Day’s “Minority,” because it’s so damn catchy with great attitude. And I don’t think this really counts as a song about rebellion, but I really love Bob Geldof’s “The Great Song of Indifference.”
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Booking Through Thursday: Sick

What do you read when you’re sick and just want something easy and comforting? Or do you watch TV instead? (Assuming you’re not napping, of course.)

So, my routines in general don’t change too much when I’m sick. Sure, I might call off work and sleep in, but I pretty much stick to what I do normally anyway–dick around on the internet, blog, write other stuff, watch Netflix, read, and maybe even still do yoga depending on how sick I am. I’ve got a stack of 10 books I’m working on at the moment, 11 if you count the emergency book I keep in my purse, so any time I get to put into finishing those is welcome. A book is a book (no matter how small!), so I’m content to read just about anything no matter my health status.

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