We made our annual RenFets trip with Paul’s sister Emily–it’s easy to go a little farther down 70, pick her up at her dorm, and go back, then take her back. Even though we do some backtracking, given that we’re so close by and we like hanging out with her and all college kids to do with getting out and doing something fun, we might as well just do it.

Emily treated us to brunch on campus, which on the one hand isn’t super exciting because it’s campus food but on the other hand, it’s also free food, and I always liked the food there. People used to complain about it a lot, but I have no idea why. Sometimes I think some of the kids there at the same time as me were just fans of being brats, to be honest.

Emily has a campus job and therefore some spending money, but she has to use it wisely, so we pretty much walked the entire festival for her to say, “I’ll come back” and then decide which places to go back to and buy from. I do think she managed to get a bunch of little thing from all the places she liked, and then at one of the places that sold these expensive handmade skirts, Paul went back and secretly bought her one for her birthday next month. And I told him to get me one, too, because of course.

We did end up being there longer than I thought we would be, but we had a good time. And since we were nearby, I got in touch with Stephanie to see if we could swing by and visit with them and the baby–sure, I’ve seen him, but Paul hadn’t, and besides, why not hang out with friends? All we did was sit around and gab, but it was nice to do even that, and of course the baby is adorable.

And of course, because this is how life works, days later, Paul’s brother Josh called him and said he had to tickets to RenFest because his girlfriend works there and asked if we wanted to go. I had to work because I’m on Saturdays this month, but I told Paul to go ahead and that it might be a good way for the two of them to hang out. So off he went.


Goodbye, Duke

Sadly, the time has come for us to see our beloved beagle, Duke, off to his trip over the rainbow bridge.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected–my dad, Brandon, and Kelly left for the annual Gettysburg trip Friday night, and my mom came home to find Duke had basically peed and puked from one end of the house to the other. Because peeing in the house is really, really rare for him, she suspected an issue with his diabetes. The vet recently lowered his insulin, so my mom thought it was too low, and bumping the dose back up seemed to help a good bit. But he wasn’t eating much, and Duke’s known for wanting food constantly.

Mom and I had concert tickets Sunday night and she was initially afraid to leave him, but he was doing okay and my dad came back from Gettysburg before we had to leave and could sit with him. I spend the night there after the concert and noticed he was shaking on occasion. Monday, he wasn’t eating and was still shaking and just wasn’t quite his normal self. We were getting concerned, and since he’s getting older and has some health problems, we were starting to think maybe he was getting close to the end. My parents scheduled a vet appointment for him Tuesday, yesterday.

My mom and I had concert tickets again that night, and Duke’s appointment was at 2. Honestly, when my dad didn’t text with an update, I thought it was dire, they were putting him down, and my mom was waiting to tell me when she picked me up from work to go to the concert. But it was better than we thought–he was dehydrated, so they gave him an IV and some meds. He ate a little bit of chicken and rice at home, but after the concert, he wasn’t going back to bed in my parents’ bedroom like usual and stayed by himself. My mom took that as a bad sign, and there was still blood work and a follow-up for this morning.

I was hopeful but prepared for the worst. I felt that the vet hadn’t seen anything obvious to say he was really, really bad, but I knew he wasn’t in the clear. And sure enough, my mom sent us a text this morning saying he was in kidney failure and they’d be putting him down. With a little more time, I would’ve gone out to be there, but they were gonna do it soon rather than keep him in pain.

I was holding up okay at first–sad, but okay. I told my mom to give him a kiss for me and Brandon did the same, and when she told us that she hugged and kissed him and told him he was a good dog and he’d see our previous dogs, Mandy and Dandy, that was when I started crying. I kept on goin’ when she said all the vet techs that knew him went in to say goodbye, and I’ve been going off and on pretty much ever since.

Obviously, we’re all gonna miss the shit out of him. I was closer to him than our other dogs, and going to my parents’ house without him running to the door, barking, and then wanting lots of attention from me just isn’t gonna be the same. I remember when we put Mandy down my freshman year of college sitting in an empty, dog-less house was super depressing, and when we had Dandy put down, coming home from college for the weekend and seeing one set of paw print’s in the snow (Duke’s) instead of the usual two was sad. He could be a temperamental asshole who ignored you when he damn well felt like it, but he was super affectionate, fun, and one of the calmest, sweetest dogs I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I at least got to see him within the last few days.

I keep saying it, but Washington is on its way up. Downtown has been slowly getting more new businesses, and new, interesting ones at that–I noticed at President’s Pub once that there was a coffee shop across the street and made a mental note to check it out. So one Saturday, when Paul had me bring my phone down to show off wedding pictures, we decided to stop in and pretty much loved it. Pour-over coffee, teas, homemade scones, it was great. We went back the next day, too, although we haven’t been back since. We try to limit how often we eat out, and coffee shops count. We know we could easily be in there every day.

For Labor Day, we got up super early and went into the mountains. We haven’t been able to go all summer and finally had a day, but knowing Labor Day is one of those days where the mountains get really crowded, we aimed for going as early as we reasonably could. We ended up getting a decent hike in and left just as the place was starting to get busy.

Brandon and Kelly had gotten a cat the night before and were taking her to a vet near my parents’ to get looked at, so they said they’d stop by with her. So we drove down the mountain to my parents’ place to meet the cat they ultimately named Persia, a super cute little orange tabby. At the time, she had fleas, a little scab from scratching, and a slight respiratory infection, but after some care and getting cleaned up, she looked a lot better and dominated Kelly’s Instagram for a bit.

We ended the day with lunch at Fiesta Azteca and a trip to returning books to the library, after a power-reading session when I ran out of renewals. But I highly recommend everyone read An American Sickness–I think if everyone did, healthcare debates would play out very, very differently in this country. And now my latest library pick is the newest from Salaman Rushdie. Hopefully, I’ll finish it before I run out of renewals.

The day after the wedding was mostly recovery and aftermath. We had the family who stayed in the hotel come over to our room to our presents–when my brother got married last year, we served leftovers at my parents’ house and had his in-laws and a few other people over, but in a hotel room and with both sets of parents living an hour away, that wasn’t really feasible. So we did it all in our room, making sure to open Julie and Michael’s dirty gift they’d warned us about before anyone got there.

I was relieved that we didn’t get a lot of stuff, you know? I know I’ve been saying this for months, but we really, really don’t need anything else, so the less we got that takes up space, the better. We did get some pretty things that are gonna be really nice to put up in a house one day, or even a bigger apartment by next year, but for now, most of it’s getting shipped off to my parents’ basement until that point.

We also got a good bit of money, putting us back to where we were before we made final payments the day of.

Between unused mixers and alcohol and our gifts, there was just enough stuff that it didn’t all fit in our car, so Brandon and Kelly volunteered to help haul it back. Everyone else brunched with Jacob and Katie before they flew home, and of course we were starving by the time we were done. Paul’s tux needed returned, too, so we did that out in the South Hills and had some lunch while we were out there.

I slept like shit on the wedding night, so by Sunday, I’d gotten about eight hours of sleep in two days and was feeling rough. Paul and I both took Monday off to recover, and finally, that was where I recouped my sleep–I didn’t sleep in as late as I wanted to, but I did end up taking a two-hour morning nap. Over the next couple days, we gradually handled whatever post-wedding tasks we had, like returning alcohol and mixers and slowly starting on thank-yous. We’ve changed our benefits at work, opened a joint bank account where all the wedding is or will go when we’re done with thank-yous, since I’m depositing money as I write them out so I can be thorough and not miss anyone.

And then it was back to work. It was kind of funny Sunday how we just threw this wedding a night before and then it was just like…back to life as usual. We went to work on Tuesday, showed some pictures and told the highlights when asked, and came home like usual.

When my boss asked me how married life was a week or so later, I was like, “It’s pretty much the same,” and she told me how once she read this article about when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt got married, someone asked her how married life was, and she commented on how difficult and what a big change it was. My boss–and even myself when she told me–was like, “What? Why?” I mean, you’re together for years, have kids together, and marriage is still that huge? I’m not saying it’s not a big deal, it’s just that I find it strange that couples who have been together for a long time and were already living together find marriage to be a big adjustment, and the only reason I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s the sense of permanent commitment. One of my own issues with marriage as an institution is that I don’t need a big ceremony to commit to someone, and I’ve always loved the stories of how Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell never married. But commitment itself has never bothered me, and the thought of getting married and even now of being married isn’t at all scary. Like I said, nothing’s changed. People talk a lot about how hard the first year of marriage is and I can see that if that’s the first time the couple lives together, but so far, I’m not seeing how. It was more of a challenge when he first moved in and we were learning how to live together, but the marriage itself? Easy. I mean, so far, the hardest thing has been figuring out how to deposit checks made out to his last name when I’m not changing it.

Saturday 9: Don’t Talk to Strangers

Saturday 9: Don’t Talk to Strangers (1982)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) When did you recently have a conversation with a complete stranger? What did you two discuss? I can’t think of anything that would qualify as an actual conversation. I  guess one of the RenFest vendors who started going off about pesticides and such, and I was with him until he brought up GMOs, because I just can’t get on board with the thought that they’re bad. The evidence isn’t there.

2) In the video for this song, a woman is having a “hot” conversation on a corded, rotary dial phone in her bedroom. Do you have a landline? If so, do you have an extension in your bedroom? I do not, but my husband and I have discussed getting one when we have kids so there’s a sort of central number where we can both be reached.

3) This week’s artist, Rick Springfield, says he wrote this song when he was worried that his girlfriend (now his wife) would cheat on him when he was touring. Would you describe yourself as suspicious or trusting? Trusting. Having done the long-distance-relationship thing for most of the first two years of my relationship, I can tell you that suspicion will kill it. You can very, very easily let your mind wander and think about endless possibilities without even considering whether your partner would actually do it, for one, and it does no good unless you want to get yourself worried over nothing. So I had those worries in the very beginning then killed them. Not trusting your partner, too, without reason is a good way to drive them away and cause unnecessary strain in the relationship. My honest but blunt advice? If trust is an issue for you without reason, you need to work on that before you can be in a serious relationship.

4) He became a daytime heartthrob as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. Do you think it would be cool to have a really attractive doctor? Or would it make you uncomfortable? Ha, maybe both? Although I don’t really see myself getting flustered by an attractive doctor to the point of being uncomfortable. I’ve always found that portrayal of people being rendered speechless by physical beauty to be unrealistic and over the top.

5) He’s discussed how sad he was when, as a boy, he had to leave his dog Elvis behind when the family left Australia. While you were growing up, did your family often move? Not at all. We moved twice–from a little apartment into my grandfather’s big, old house with him, and from there to the house my parents bought when I was in middle school. Now, I personally have moved twice more since then, not counting college dorms–from the house to a house in Pittsburgh with some friends, and from that house to my current apartment. I’m hoping to move out of here in 2018.

6) In 1982, when this song was popular, Italy won the World Cup. Do you ever watch soccer? Not really, but I’ve caught in on occasion when I was living at home and my brother would have it on. It is a sport that interests me more than hosts, although it hasn’t captured my attention the way hockey did.

7) “Smiley,” the first emoticon, was introduced in 1982. Do you use emoticons in your communication? Or do you avoid them? I do! They’re fun. I don’t use them a whole lot, though, and I have a few specific go-tos, as does everyone.
8) The Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, in 1982. Do you know any veterans of that conflict? If so, tell us about him or her. I don’t think I do, but I’m not 100% positive–all the vets I know are either WWII or Iraq/Afghanistan.

9) Random Question:  Your friends are throwing a birthday “roast” in your honor. Which one quality of yours are you sure will be singled out for laughs? The fact that I’m always late, probably. Maybe the fact that I write–whether or not that gets targeted and the ways it gets targeted depend on the crowd. Vegetarianism. Being messy.

Friday 5: What Ails Ya

  1. How do you treat a bad case of the Mondays? I just power through it, really–hope it’s gonna be a good day, sure, but there’s not much to be done other than do it.
  2. How do you fight off a case of the blahs? Lounge and do things that make me happy–read, watch Netflix, and write especially. Take a bubble bath. If it’s leaning more towards the sad end of blah, that’s when I get more cuddly and need husband hugs.
  3. How do you deal with a bad hair day? I have naturally curly hair, so depending on how you feel about curls, either every day is a bad hair day or no days or bad hair days. Honestly, I love my curls these days. They suit me. I think straight hair, at least without some volume, makes me look tired. And curls mean that if something goes wrong, water will fix it.
  4. What’s your strategy for FOMO? Ha, I don’t think I have one. Although I think it’s partly because I somehow stopped caring, but if you’re looking for advice on how to get to that point, I have none. Other than get real pissed off.
  5. How prone are you to Instagram envy? Man, almost not at all. I mean, it does happen–the point over the summer where all of my social-media feeds were full of beaches was rough. And sometimes people’s food looks really, really good. But on the whole, I enjoy seeing the photos more than anything. With vacations in particular, I just remember that my time will come. And I think sometimes–and this isn’t even specific to Instagram or even social media–the things we’re doing and posting just going about our lives might make other people envious of us. It’s weird to think about it this way, but we all have something someone else wants.

As always, from here.

I had a small to-do list for before the wedding, the main ones being buy myself a case of Angry Orchard or Redd’s, clean my engagement ring, and do my nails. But the day got away from me, and none of those things happened.

I did manage to throw together a slideshow for rehearsal, though, and Mac’s slideshow feature is pretty cool and super easy to use. We were able to export it as a video file, throw it on a flash drive, and just let it play for the whole time we were there.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this at the time, but rehearsal dinner was on track to become an issue with his mom before we squashed it. At some point, she started talking about wanting to have dinner in Uniontown, an hour away from actual rehearsal, so that was when we fast-tracked choosing a place and settled on President’s Pub–they charge you to use the private room, but combined with the price per late compared to other local restaurants, the price ended up being about the same and for better quality, and they did a really good job. We tried to avoid food that was too similar to what we were serving at the wedding, so we got a pasta, lemon chicken, salad, and a veggie risotto, plus a selection of pies they put out for dessert. And we could take our time and hang out, plus it’s probably the place we got to the most often in Washington, so by then, we’d seen and talked to the events coordinator a few times. And she’s awesome.

In the early days of planning, we weren’t sure how to approach gifts for our parents–and since Katie and Jacob didn’t get any, we were off the hook for it if need be. My biggest concern was not finding things for my dad or his mom, as sappy, sentimental gifts would be awkward and insincere, so I figured if we found something, great, and if we didn’t, it didn’t matter. And this is where Etsy is kind of amazing, because I found beautiful hankies for both mothers, big wooden beer steins from the fucking Ukraine for Paul’s dad, plus Paul and Jacob, too. My dad doesn’t drink, so instead, I found him a “father of the bride” coffee mug and gave him two bags of Harry & David coffee to go with it. It was funny to watch everyone carting around their mugs all night, so they seemed to really enjoy them.

Mother-of-the-bride gifts are way easier to find, so my mom ended up with a little extra that I gave her privately after rehearsal–a mug to match the one I got my dad and a figurine of a mother and bride, which she loved. And with that one, I even asked if they had one for the mother of the groom, and they don’t even make one, which I have to admit is bullshit. She would’ve loved one, and honestly, I would’ve happily bought it. But nope, all about the brides.

After we ate, we girls snuck out to gab in the parking lot, mostly to get to scoop on what his mom had been complaining about behind our backs–the biggest stories were she was saying I’d regret having a shower and that she wasn’t included, and I can’t deny that one. In fact, it was straight-up intentional, but we did what we had to do to have the wedding we wanted without fighting over ever little thing the whole time. Later, when I asked my mom what the two of them had talked about while they were sitting together, she said Paul’s mom started going on about how Jacob and Katie didn’t include her in their wedding planning, which is bullshit, and how hurt she was by that, and my mom was trying to gauge what she wanted out of the conversation, whether it was a warning or to see if my mom had been included more. She tried to play it like she wasn’t, saying she didn’t know what kind of flowers we were having, for example, but she knew a lot more than Paul’s mom did.

We went in when we realized we’d been gone a long time, but turns out while we were gone, all the boys went down to the bar for beers. The next time we saw Paul’s mom after the wedding, she thanked Paul for including his brother Josh and taking him down to pick one out, since Josh isn’t the most social. The verdict is still out as to whether Josh cared as much as she did, but I say we take what victories we get.

One of the things I forgot to do earlier in the day, or more like couldn’t finish, was pack an overnight bag to stay with my parents…and then I ended up having to go back into my apartment twice because I realized I forgot something. Then I finally went to my parents’ house, hung out with Duke a bit, and slept for about four hours because I started to get too nervous.