Last weekend was the usual–walking, eating out, cleaning out Paul’s apartment some, generally hanging out otherwise. Then Tuesday night, my mom and I headed out to see the Psychedelic Furs.

I never win anything. Brandon’s always had the reputation for being the lucky one, and there’s an infamous family story about how when we were little, Brandon won a stuffed animal at a Mardi Gras game with pull-tab tickets and I won nothing and started crying, so all the relatives around me basically just threw down cash because they felt bad and let me draw until I won, too. And I think I still have the bear I won, which my parents nicknamed “Costly.” In retrospect, it was super nice of everyone to pay for me to play just because they felt bad for me.

But the point is that’s basically the way our lives have always gone when it comes to any sort of gambling or game of chance or contest–Brandon wins, I don’t, except once every so often. I won 20 bucks on a scratch-off my mom gave me for Easter, and I won those Psychedelic Furs tickets through a random drawing in the promo company’s newsletter. They do it every week. They list three upcoming shows and give away two sets of two tickets for each, and all you have to do is reply to the e-mail saying which one you’re entering and give your contact info. And since I like a few Furs songs, I figured what the hell.

I got the e-mail saying I won in the airport coming home from Brandon’s coot-camp graduation, and I had a logistical “oh shit” moment thinking about what to do about it being on a Tuesday night and who I could get to go with me. Honestly, I had a moment where I thought maybe I should just say it ended up that I couldn’t go and tell them to redraw for someone else, but I asked my parents–the first go-to when it comes to concerts with post-punk ’80s bands–and my mom was interested, despite it being between board-meeting nights. But I got the day after off, and we went.

I was planning on driving since it was at Mr. Smalls, which is outside of the city, so I drove to my parents’ from work. But because I hadn’t driven into the city from there in awhile and my mom’s car is bigger than mine, she felt better driving it and didn’t mind the city driving as long as I gave good directions–and that’s usually just a matter of not giving my dad’s directions, which aren’t so much directions as they are a list of unhelpful possibilities. He’s good for saying, “You can go any way you want,” which isn’t helpful for someone who’s either unfamiliar with the area or isn’t used to driving in the city. Or anywhere, really, because he does it everywhere. And I caught myself saying the same thing to Paul a few days ago and hated myself for it.

Anyway, we were gonna have dinner at this new little Italian place nearby, but it turns out they’re not actually open for dinner–they close at 5. So we went to Applebee’s instead, which I’m growing increasingly unimpressed with. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that it’s food I can get elsewhere better. And then we headed into the city.

I was concerned about the show being general admission standing room because since my mom had a blood clot in her leg a few years ago, she has a little trouble with it. I’d asked the venue multiple times on Twitter about seating and they never responded, which was really frustrating, but turns out they do have some balcony seating for an extra 20 bucks or something, which isn’t bad when the show’s free to being with. But when my mom scoped out the view from up there, she decided she’d rather stand and be closer to the stage. I have to give her credit for holding out. When I made a comment about it, she said, “I’m not old yet.”

As for the show itself, it was great. I was honestly impressed and didn’t expect for it to be so high-energy, but I’ve already written all about that over at AXS.

As for that Wednesday off, I spent it mostly lounging around my parents’ house. I was hoping to maybe get together with someone for lunch or something, but everyone works. Boo. But I did enjoy having a day to myself, like I always do. And one of the ways I know I’m starting to get burned out on my job is that despite having a decent number of days off in the past few weeks–including a full week off–I still don’t feel like I’ve had a vacation or downtime. That could be attributed in part to the fact that I spend some of my downtime writing articles or trying to publish my creative writing, but I doubt it. I don’t feel like I’m actually working when I do those things, and they’ve never made me feel like I wasn’t enjoying my free time, with the exception of my last few months at IYS. It’s more like the time feels like it goes by so fast before I have to go back to work.

And then there’s the fact that a few of my coworkers warned me yesterday that the supervisors have been walking by my cubicle and staring at my computer screen as they go.

Friday Five: Mail Order

  1. What is your most recently mail-ordered item? As in an item actually ordered through the mail? Hasn’t happened probably since my mom ordered stuff as a kid. But I do order stuff all the time online that is delivered to me via mail, the most recent being an aluminum wrap ring that says, “Expecto patronum.”
  2. What’s a catalog you’ve always wanted to order from but never have? I can’t think of any titles, but my mom gets a few interesting ones that have really fun things in them, from collectibles to clothes.
  3. What is physically the largest item you ever mail-ordered? My largest online purchase was probably my humidifier.
  4. What catalogs do you still receive in the actual mail? I get ones from New York & Co. and Victoria’s Secret. Used to get Delias, too. RIP.
  5. What are some obscure or unusual catalogs you’ve received? I don’t normally get any, but my mom has gotten some interesting ones with sort of novelty items.

As always, from Friday 5.

Friday Five: Paddles

  1. What experience have you with canoes, kayaks, and rowboats? With those specific vessels, not much, but I do have more experience with, say, inflatable rafts down the Youghiogheny.
  2. What experience have you with ping pong? Not much. I was taught how to play it and I did, but like many games that require coordination, I didn’t care.
  3. If you were spanked as a kid, which of your parents’ implements did you fear most? Their actual wooden paddle. And for the record, I don’t think spanking is an effective, fair punishment. I know there are right and wrong ways to do it, but I don’t think hitting a kid to get them to behave in a certain way is good.
  4. What experience have you with live auctions? Well, I have attended some–Geibel’s spring auction fundraiser includes a silent auction and live auction, and although I’ve been present for the live auction, I’ve never actually participated.
  5. When were you last up a creek without a paddle? I really don’t know!

As always, from Friday 5.

Friday Five: Vinegar and Brown Paper

  1. What kinds of vinegar do you have in your pantry? Just white distilled, and I’ve never even used it for cooking–it’s mostly for cleaning my humidifier, and some occasionally makes its way into the laundry.
  2. What was the last purchase you made that was carried home in a brown paper bag? Salsa earlier this evening at the farmer’s market!
  3. What home remedies do you swear by? A method I learned for helping unclog ears when I got really sick the summer Paul and I started dating–lie down on the good ear with a hot, wet washcloth over the bad one, with a cup pressed over it. The heat and moisture helps relieve the pressure, and it helped me out a lot when I didn’t have anything else to use for it. I also swear by things like tea and honey for colds.
  4. How many Jacks and Jills do you know? There’s little baby Jack, a semi-distant cousin with that number of times removed shit or whatever, and then there’s also semi-distant cousin Jill on the same side of the family.
  5. How would you rate your gift-wrapping skills? Horrible. Zero out of 10. I once tweeted that my gift wrapping looks like it was done by a one-armed toddler with a hook for a hand.

Almost a week late with this one from Friday 5!

Booking Through Thursday: Poetry

It seems like I’m always asking about actual books … but what about poetry? Do you read it? Write it? Like it? Not like it? Do you prefer song lyrics? (Because we can all agree there’s a relation between poems and lyrics, right?)

I do read it, although I feel like my poetry collection is seriously lacking. Part of the problem is when I find poets I like, especially classic poets, I don’t just want “selected works”–I want the full collection. So holding out for that means I’m missing a lot right now, but at least I can collect from contemporary (and sometimes local!) poets. I’m starting to love poetry more as I find more. Modern poets are using language and form in really great ways, but I also love the rhyme and rhythm of the classics. In fact, rhythm is one of my favorite things about poetry.

I have written some poetry, but it’s rare and I have zero confidence in it, mostly because it’s not a form I was taught and it’s not a form I usually work in, or one that I’ve read a lot of. I mean, as much as I enjoy it, I’ve read far more prose and I write prose, specifically creative nonfiction. So there’s the typical self-doubt that comes with writing as it is, and then there’s the special kind of self-doubt that comes with working outside of your usual form.

Generally, I don’t prefer song lyrics, although I think the two are closely related enough and some songwriters are talented enough that I do think there’s a lot of overlap, and in some instances–and I know some might disagree with me on this–I think the only difference between a poem and a song is music. That said, I think there are plenty of terrible lyrics in music, with mainstream pop and modern country being the biggest offenders.

Bottom line: I’m all for poetry. I need to read more, we should all probably read more, and those of you writing it–keep on keepin’ on and teach me your ways.

As always, from Booking Through Thursday.

A

The weekend was pretty nice.

Paul got sick, although he suspects he has allergies. We were originally going to go out to Greensburg, but he didn’t feel up to it and I didn’t, either, having flown home and rode almost an hour back from the airport, so we decided to see how he felt Saturday and Sunday and go from there. Turns out he never felt up to it until Monday, but the advantage to that was it got us out of an outing with his parents.

That was almost a shit show. After originally not having plans for Mother’s Day, his mom decided Friday night she wanted to go to lunch–out in Washington, under the guise of convenience for Paul and I. The problem was no one ever checked to see if maybe I had plans with my own mother for Mother’s Day, especially considering I do ask her in advance, and my plans were an hour away and an hour before this scheduled lunch. I was suspicious that it was an excuse to try to invite themselves over to the apartment since Paul’s pretty much moved in. Paul did call and amend so that he suggested either we eat elsewhere–like in Greensburg–but it ended up that we were going to skip lunch and just go visit the house later in the afternoon instead. All of it got scrapped when Paul got sick and called that morning to bail. And despite suggestions, and even my own suspicions, that maybe he was just bailing for the sake of it, he really did sound like shit and he really was coughing shit up. Never good.

So in the meantime, I carted over presents and some little things Brandon sent with me, like his boot-camp yearbook, professional photos, and some souvenirs to Meloni’s for a Mother’s Day special they were having that Mom decided she wanted to go to while Dad and I were still in Ft. Leonard Wood after she heard an ad on the radio. Her original plan was to go to the casino, even though when I asked what she wanted to do, she kind of shrugged and was like, “It’s just another day anymore.”

But our lunch was nice. We made a quick Target trip afterward, then I hung out at the house, Kelly stopped by to get the things I’d brought from Brandon for her, and then Mom and I went to visit with Kimmie and Aunt Barbara, our godmothers. Which was nice but brief–by then, it was already evening, and Paul wanted me to stop by his apartment in Greensburg to grab a few things and gather his laundry to do sometime in the future, most likely this weekend.

Meanwhile, Paul got hired permanently at his job in town! And while I’d love to just up and hunt for a new, nicer apartment, I have two months to do it and I’m not really feeling like hunting and settling for something if I don’t find something good.

So for now, I guess we’ll stay where we are and I may look into other jobs. And then maybe take the housing situation from there.

I’m back home! It’s kind of nice. Traveling with my dad wasn’t horrible, but it did get tedious. I’m glad it’s over.

Seeing Brandon was nice, though, and I could tell he was glad we were there and happy to see us.

The drill competition they had was neat, and Brandon’s unit won. They basically just went through different formations and things, with winner chosen by crowd applause.

After that, we were able to spend time on base with Brandon for a few hours. We went to the PX, did a little bit of shopping for souvenirs and some things Brandon needed, then ate in the food court–he wanted pizza. And then we pretty much just hung out on base, driving around and getting caught up on what Brandon’s been up to the past 10 weeks and catching him up on what we’ve been up to the past 10 weeks, plus what’s been happening in the world since he’s had basically no access to news.

I would’ve liked to check out some of the museums on base, but we didn’t do it. And when we got back in for the night, I passed right out until time for breakfast Thursday morning.

My dad complained about me snoring a good bit. I’m sure I did our first night in because I was so tired, but the more he complained, the more I thought he was either exaggerating or bullshitting completely. Besides, if he wasn’t, he deserves to be kept up–his snoring is far, far worse. I think this week was the worst I’ve ever heard it from him.

We had Brandon’s basic training graduation Thursday morning, and I filmed some parts–especially with him–for my mom. And after that, he was free to leave base, as long as he didn’t go too far. We pretty much went back to the hotel, hung out, and ate. We FaceTimed my mom, ordered dinner from a bar and grill right down the road, and that was about it. We took him back to base pretty early, hung out there for a little bit more, then went our ways. Brandon even got a little teary-eyed.

Friday morning, my dad and I got up around 4, got all our shit together, drove the two hours back into St. Louis, had some breakfast in the airport, then hopped on a plane back home–just in time to hear they’ve raised to threat level on military bases and that a bank a few blocks from my apartment was in the process of being robbed.

Greetings from Missouri!

So, Ben Folds Monday night was pretty great. I wrote a review of it, which isn’t up yet–and neither is the one I did of Frankie Valli Sunday night, but all of my reviews and news articles for AXS can be found here.

Monday was mostly a lounge day, plus a little cleaning–despite what Paul and I accomplished the evening my parents came over, the apartment still needs a lot of work, and I didn’t want to be out of town for Brandon’s boot-camp graduation and leave Paul in a mess I knew he’d probably clean up, especially my hell hole of a kitchen sink. So I washed the worst of the dishes and cleaned the sink itself, and I’m hoping Paul doesn’t take it upon himself to do too much while I’m gone. A little is fine, especially easy tasks, but I don’t want him cleaning up all my messes. Or moving all my stuff, but at least he understands that.

Yesterday was mostly a travel day. My dad wanted to be at the airport super early because he has shrapnel in him from when he was injured in Iraq, so he was expecting–in part because he actually called TSA and they e-mailed him information on what to do–to take a little longer going through security. Turns out TSA doesn’t give a shit about metal in your head, or what prescriptions you’re coming through with, but they will sure as shit get pissy with you for forgetting to take your cellphone out of your pocket when TSA employees are all shouting things and making people confused and rushed. The fact that they’ve changed some regulations since the last time I flew doesn’t help.

We had a lot of time to kill, so we walked around a bit and hung out in a really nice military lounge, then had some lunch. I killed a little bit more time charging my laptop and getting online on that free WiFi a bit, and by then, it was time to board.

I sort of but not really slept most of the flight, which was short anyway, as well as smooth. I don’t sleep well on planes, mostly because it’s not exactly comfortable sleeping. If I’m sitting upright like that, my head sort of pitches forward, which just wakes me up. Not conducive to sleep at all.

When we landed, we picked up a rental car and headed into downtown St. Louis. All we really did was walk around a little and go up into the arch, because how can you be in St. Louis and not go see the arch? That would be stupid. It was a neat trip, though, where you take these tiny little trams up to the very top and can see out over the city–and you can see far. My dad pointed it out first on the plane, but everything is so flat out here, while back home we have mountains and hills everywhere. It reminds me of how flat Delaware was, except Delaware had the beach.

Traveling with my dad, by the way, is okay. I’m not thrilled, of course, and I’ll be glad to be back home at my own apartment with Paul–although I’m sure I’ll be craving some alone time. My dad’s not the greatest travel companion. It’s frustrating to share a hotel room with someone who thinks it’s totally okay to just turn on the TV when he’s awake and ready, no matter what time it is and no matter who’s still sleeping. I texted my mom and told her he’s an inconsiderate roommate, and she replied with, “Don’t I know it!” She’ll be enjoying her alone time, for sure. It’s just her and Duke.

We had about a two-hour drive to Brandon’s actual base. We checked into our hotel, visited the base real quick to check it out and grab some light groceries, then got dinner at Subway, headed back to the room, and called it a night.

Today has been a lounge day in the hotel so far. We had breakfast and will be heading out in probably two hours for family day on base. They’re having some drill ceremony, then Brandon will have a few hours to hang out with us on base. I know my dad wants to hit the PX.

So far, it’s a lot more relaxed than our trip last year for Jacob’s graduation. Part of that is because they did more for family day then and started it earlier, and the other part is it’s just two of us and not 10, and we’re not at the mercy of Paul’s melodramatic mom.

I like it better this way, even if my dad irritates me.

A quick catch-up

Paul and I headed to Greensburg as usual Friday night, this time in separate cars so we could drop his off to get inspected. It was a necessary pain in the ass.

Saturday, we got the car inspected, went for a nice walk, and did some shopping–I needed a few more things for Mother’s Day, plus I splurged a little at Sephora and grabbed some CDs. We also hit the used book store and grabbed some gems. That place is great and packed full of books to the point that it’s almost overwhelming, but it’s only good to hit maybe once a year or so.

Julianne had texted us Friday night, but of course we didn’t get it until morning because we were asleep, but Saturday was Emily’s prom and she wanted us to go to Grand March and couldn’t remember if she’d told us about it or not. We decided to go, of course–Emily’s my favorite and I can’t say no to her, no matter how much I want to avoid their mother. But Paul wanted to keep it a surprise, so Julianne just played it like he never texted her back. But when she proceeded down, there we were! She looked so pretty, and she went alone and got to walk down alone. I was jealous–they didn’t let me do that for my junior prom when I went stag, but turns out the teacher just caved this time and didn’t care. Good, I say. Making the girls have an escort for Grand March is stupid anyway. The whole point is the dresses, and if the girls are going alone, let them walk alone. I was more bothered by having to find an escort–which ended up being my friend Katelyn’s boyfriend, who later broke up with her and came out as gay–than I would’ve been walking alone in my pretty dress.

Afterward, we went to Dairy Queen, then Paul and I went back to Greensburg and did laundry. And then I took a nap before we met up with Ryun and their old college friend Melissa for dinner and at Winghart’s and a trip to the new Avengers movie. And we were all a little drunk for the beginning of it, which was fun. And the movie was good.

Yesterday, Paul and I went for another walk–I’m aiming to use the trail by his place as much as possible before he moves out officially and in with me. The evening brought a trip to see Frankie Valli live, which was pretty damn fantastic. I almost cried.

And now, I’m hanging around and trying to do a little cleaning and packing before I go to dinner and to see Ben Folds tonight with Terra, then hope a plane tomorrow morning to go to Missouri for most of the rest of the week for Brandon’s graduation from boot camp with my dad. My mom expects us to kill each other.

Friday Five: Baby, It’s Spring

  1. How do you feel about the smell of babies? I’ve never really noticed it, unless it’s a dirty-diaper smell. In which case, it’s gross.
  2. Pretty much all animal babies are cute, but which are the cutest? I honestly can’t choose. I ridiculously overreact to them all.
  3. Veggies are pretty good in their adult form, but put the word “baby” in front of some of their names, and they can be transcendent. Which baby veggies do you especially love? Probably baby carrots, but as a child, I really loved baby corn. There’s an incident that’s infamous within the family where I used to get a little plate of veggies as a kid when we’d eat at the country club my grandfather belonged to, and my dad ate my baby corn because my dad has a longstanding tradition of thinking taking food from toddlers and very young children is funny. So I threw a tantrum, and being a child, I insisted I have that specific baby corn and not the replacement baby corn the waitstaff brought me. Because toddler logic.
  4. How cute a baby were you? Adorable! Especially in my toddler years, with my dark eyes, blonde hair, and dimples.
  5. How many songs in your digital library have the word “baby” in their titles, and which is your favorite? There are 80. My favorites are “Beating Heart Baby” by Head Automatica, “Blues for Baby and Me” by Elton John, “Bye, Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, “Four Score/Abie Baby” from Hair, and “Plug in Baby” by Muse.