Friday 5: Makin’ It

  1. What skill seems like it would be really fun to learn? I keep saying I’m interested in taking up glass blowing.
  2. Which of the winter Olympic sports would you love to compete in? Curling!
  3. What fun craft did you make when you were a kid, in school or at camp or somewhere else? I don’t know. I remember not really liking art-project stuff in school, and I know things that were more crafty than artsy I did like more, but none of them really stand out.
  4. If everyone in the world is the best in the world at some very specific thing, what are you most likely the best at? Being me, which I realize is a cliched answer, but still!
  5. What’s something you own that was handmade by someone you know? My best friend makes jewelry, so I have a lot of things she’s made me over the years, including my wedding jewelry in August. And one of my favorite wedding gifts was an afghan crocheted by my sister-in-law’s best friend, and it’s big, soft, and warm and I love it. I have a lot of handmade things lurking around the apartment, really.

As always, from Friday 5.

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Lately, Paul and I have both been feeling a sort of burn out, I guess you could call it, where even in a week where I took a day off, it still felt long and I was still looking forward to Friday. He’s been talking a lot about needing a break, too. I don’t know what it is. We suspect the time of year–creeping closer to the holidays but not quite there, along with the change of clocks that’s made evenings darker faster. And it’s been cold lately. The weather seemed like it was clinging to summer, not quite done with it, for weeks, then all of a sudden I’m having to get up a few minutes earlier to have that extra time to zip up boots and pull on gloves some mornings, and being a die-hard summer girl, it’s rough.

And yet, the promise of double overtime pay was enough to get me to go in on a Saturday morning for four hours. I know a good opportunity when I see it, and it’s hard to pass up good pay like that. And it’s temporary–like we were this time close to a year ago, we’re really busy, and I like knowing I can put in a little more effort for a weekend or two and have a little more money at the end of it to squirrel away. And the nice thing is on weekends, you can essentially work whatever hours you want, so I went in until 11, which still left me with the whole afternoon for whatever else I wanted. It sucks up some of the weekend, sure, but you still get the majority of it to enjoy.

My dad was out of town for the weekend, so my mom was home with new puppy Seger for four days. She’d joked last weekend that she was dropping heavy hints about coming to relieve her, so Paul took her a few homemade cookies, a six-pack of beer, and we picked up new bones for Seger to chew and headed out to hang out for a couple of hours and do free laundry, play with the puppy, and watch the shows I’ve been having her record since we don’t have cable. We spent most of the afternoon there, then headed home in the evening.

We’d thought Sunday was just gonna be a calm day to ourselves, but it turns out we were invited to Terra’s nephew’s first birthday party–she’d just either forgotten to invite us or something got screwed up along the way. She asked me if we were going that morning and I was like, “Uh, no?” But at least it was something we could easily account for. We hung out in the morning and headed over in the early evening, out to the deli Terra’s brother and sister-in-law recently opened and used as the party space, because why not?

It’s funny that slowly, our lives are transitioning into more adult things and looking more like, say, our parents’ lives. I mean, we found ourselves surrounded by excited kids with treat bags and party hats, while the adults hung around catching up or, in our case, getting congratulated by acquaintances who saw on social media that we got married. And lots of, “How’s married life?” People love asking newlyweds that, but honestly, it’s exactly the same as it was before. We just wear rings now.

Terra has a new boyfriend, which is a pretty recent development–she only started talking to him within the past week or so, but they clicked really well, so we got to meet him. I keep joking I was too easy on the last boyfriend and the soon-to-be-ex-husband. But if I’m being honest, I have a much better feeling about this one than the others. It seems like a much better match, and although he was quiet, in part because he was surrounded by psychos like me, they have a lot in common. Paul got along great with him and gave his approval, but Terra’s childhood friend Gemma and I say the boys get no say in this.

We ended up hanging out for a little bit after the party broke up, what with it being an actual business and all, and bought some food from them before heading out and running some errands before we had to go to bed, get up for work, and lament not being ready for another work week again. Paul actually decided to call off and give himself a day, but I’m not quite there. I can push through the work week a little easier than he can, and besides, Thanksgiving is–incredibly–next week, so I’ll get a bit of a break then. I mean, it obviously won’t be enough, but it’ll be something.

Saturday 9: Get Down Tonight

Saturday 9: Get Down Tonight (1975)

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

1) Tonight, KC has three things on his “to-do” list: do a little dance, make a little love and get down. Tell us three things you’d like to accomplish this weekend. Writing articles for Thanksgiving event coverage that are technically far overdue, writing thank-you notes from the wedding that are still within reasonable etiquette range but too for out for my liking, and cleaning that rarely gets done.

2) This week’s song is considered emblematic of disco, a genre that had as many detractors as fans. Is there a kind of music you simply cannot stand? No. I’m a firm believer that every genre has something someone will like, it’s just a matter of finding it. I have my genres I listen to significantly less, but I still found great artists in them.

3) Before becoming a musician, KC, aka Harry Casey, worked in a record store. In those days, record stores were very popular. Peaches, Coconuts, Sam Goody and Tower Records are four store chains that once dotted the landscape but now are gone. Today, if you wanted to purchase a CD, where would you turn? I’d either go into Pittsburgh to one of the great record stores there, or I’d go back to where my parents’ live to a surviving FYE. There’s also one out in Greensburg about the same distance away, so that’s an option, but I’m obviously near my parents more often.

4) One of his duties at the record store was unloading the big corrugated shippers filled with LPs. What’s the heaviest thing you’ve lifted lately? A mini washing machine full of water and clothes. Lifted it up to the edge of the tub to drain.

5) KC is proud that he’s lived his entire life in Miami-Dade County. Do you expect to change your address in the next year or so? Yes. If it’s not a house, it’s gonna be a bigger, nicer, and better-run apartment.

6) In 1975, the year this song was popular, former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, never to be seen again. Many theories flourish about what may have happened to him. Is there a famous criminal case that has a hold on your attention? There’s not one single one I keep going back to, but I enjoy true-crime stories in general. I’m fascinated by what makes people do the things they do and then how people figure it out and catch them.

7) Jaws was the most popular movie of 1975. Are you afraid of sharks? Yes. It’s not a paralyzing fear–I’ll still go in the ocean–but it’s in the back of my mind. It’s not just sharks, though. Oceans and large bodies of water in general that are very deep freak me out a little when I think about what could be down there.

8) Actress Angelina Jolie was born in 1975. People magazine once named her “most beautiful.” Who is the most beautiful woman you can think of? I’ve got lots of beautiful friends and family.

9) Random question: A wizard offers you a choice — would you like your life to stay as it is right now (in terms of your health, your career, your relationships and your finances) for the next 5 years, or would you like to take a chance that the future will be brighter? Take the chance!

Friday 5: Space

  1. Of all the spaces in your residence, which is most powerfully your space? It’s a tough call because I’m married and we’re in a small apartment, so neither of us really has a dedicated space that’s our own. But when we’re doing our own thing in the evening, on our computers or reading and whatnot, I tend to park on the couch and he goes back on the bed. And we’re still within reasonable speaking distance.
  2. What’s the most spacious space in your everyday life? God. Nothing? I guess the living room in my apartment, but there’s not really a lot of space.
  3. What’s a good song about space? I’m thinking of “Space” by Something Corporate, but if we’re talking about, like, the cosmos, I’ll just go with Sufjan Stevens’ Planetarium EP. Or Bowie’s “Space Oddity” or “Starman” or “Life on Mars?” Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Or Flight of the Conchords’ “Bowie’s in Space.”
  4. What’s under your bed? A box of my husband’s clothes and God knows what else.
  5. What are your thoughts on typing one or two spaces after sentences? One space. Two is outdated and unnecessary.

As always, from Friday 5.

My 2017 concert run is coming to a close–the only one left is the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, so that aside, I guess the last one of the year was Regina Spektor over the weekend.

I’ve been lucky to see a ton of musicians live, and at this point, there are very few I haven’t seen at least once. But Regina Spektor was one of those few. After several years and undoubtedly thousands of dollars spent on tickets, the thought of experiencing a musician live for the first time was exciting, especially one I’ve been a fan of for years.

And she started a little late, but she delivered. She played a lot of new songs but threw in some old ones, too, and I was really happy to hear songs like “Us,” “Apres Mois,” “On the Radio,” and “Samson.” She’s a beautiful singer, and live, her voice has a power that’s surprising. And for someone who goes to a lot of energetic rock shows, seeing a woman at a piano for almost two hours was absolutely a change of pace, but impressive nonetheless, especially watching her actually play piano–plus the other things she did, like get on a guitar for a few songs and do a few a cappella. It was a great show, a really nice night out, and Paul and I bother left quite happy.

And with that, I say bring it on, 2018. I may be looking at buying a house, but a wedding didn’t stop me from a steady stream of concerts in 2017, so why stop now?

Now that I have a newfound life as a baker, I figured I’d use my skills to make cookies for the annual work Halloween party. That sentence is about 99% sarcasm. Sure, I’ve baked some cookies, but I’ve done it a handful of times and it’s definitely not something I plan to do regularly. But hey, might as well use that for said Halloween party.

Office potlucks are great for day-long grazing. I ate some of my own cookies in the morning, but it was pretty nice to see they were quite picked over by the afternoon.

We’ve had our usual routine of work and the gym during the week, and then Friday night, we took in the last weekend for the evening glass exhibit at Phipps and had a nice night out. Saturday, we went out for Brandon’s birthday to lunch at Fat Head’s on the South Side, then an escape room–and we did indeed escape this time, with a few minutes left. Ten people doing a room together might be a bit much, though. I’d recommend smaller numbers. We were supposed to follow it up with the casino, but I discovered I’d left my wristlet with my ID in it at home after using it at Phipps the night before. So the good news is we probably saved money, but the bad news is like someone who comes from a long line of gamblers, I was annoyed thinking about the possibility of having won.

Paul’s mom’s birthday was Sunday, and we did good this year by getting her a really pretty wooden advent calendar. We spent a couple hours hanging out at the house, which went pretty okay, except for the part where we started talking about the shooting in Texas and the Vegas shooting before it and his parents seemed to believe some of the conspiracy theories about it. I can’t with conspiracy theories. I just can’t.

On the Loss of a Dog and the New Dog

We’ve had three dogs from the time I was 10 to about now. The first was a yellow lab named Mandy we got from my mom’s coworker who bred them, and a few months after she was put down due to aggressive intestinal cancer, my mom was looking online at a local animal shelter and found Duke and Dandy, two dogs who went in together after their previous owner had to give them up. Dandy was older but Duke was still pretty young, and my mom didn’t want to split them up. We knew Dandy might not be around too long, but older dogs in shelters is heartbreaking to me. My mom and I are both animal lovers, and we’d rather go through the loss than leave him in the shelter, especially without the dog he went in with.

Of all three of them, I felt the closest to Duke.

I was afraid of dogs when my mom decided to get Mandy, and although I came around fast and hard, I wasn’t into the idea at first. And Mandy and I were always in a sort of competition–we were told that in her dog mind, she and I were competing for the second top female spot in the house, the first being my mom. She was never mean or aggressive, but we could tell I was lower in the rankings for her. But I still loved her. We still snuggled and played, and once when my dad was playfully but annoyingly shaking my bed to wake me up and I started screaming, Mandy came to my rescue, jumping on the bed and straddling me and barking at my dad until he stopped. She was super protective. You could tell how close someone was to the house by how vicious her bark got, and although having a not-very-social dog can be difficult, it was also good to know she’d probably have slaughtered anyone who might’ve broken in. I was early in my freshman year college when she died, and I came home that weekend she was going to be put down, hugged her, bawled my eyes out, and sat around moping with my family the rest of the day. It’s jarring the way the loss of a person is, which sounds so stupid to people who have never had a pet, but it’s true. You’re sitting around a quiet, empty house that’s still full of toys and dog beds and food dishes, and your clothes are still covered in her fur and her leash is still hanging by the door. It’s depressing.

Duke and Dandy came a few months later, at the end of that freshman year. I think I felt closer to them in part because I was home with them all day, every day for the first month that we had them, and when I went back to school in the fall, Duke in particular would climb into my lap when I first got home and just sit there for a while. He did that a lot in the first couple years we had him, no matter where you were or how long you were gone–when you came home, you sat on the couch and Duke jumped in your lap and just sat there until he was ready to move.

We joked that Duke could be a jerk, though. He had selective hearing, where he’d obviously ignore us, and sometimes if you walked up to him to sit near him on the floor or pet him, he’d get up and move. But when he was in the mood for it, he was super sweet, especially as my brother and I went through college and moving out. Duke would greet us at the door whenever we came home, barking and running to us when we came in, and he seemed to be able to tell when we were leaving, because he’d come over for some pets and kisses until we did it all again the next time. And even though I spent probably about half his life living away from my parents’ house, I still considered him “my” dog. I only called him “my parents’ dog” if I needed to clarify. And of the three dogs we had, he was the one I wanted to be with when it was time to put him down. With Mandy, it was too difficult and I couldn’t and I didn’t feel as close to Dandy–plus I was at school–but when I got word it was time for Duke, I was prepared to get in the car and go. The only reason I didn’t was because they were having it done quickly and I might not have had time to get there.

Of the three dogs, losing Duke hit me the hardest. I cried a lot that day, and thank God it just so happened to be a day I’d taken off work anyway. The sadness lasted longer. Even though I was at my parents’ house more than once after that, the quiet and lack of Duke running to the door, looking behind him and barking like he wanted my parents to know we were there, it was sad every time. It wasn’t the same. And even for days and weeks later, the cards people sent that my mom showed us made me cry. I came across a couple web comics about putting down a pet that really got to me, and I’m tearing up still even now. I loved all our pets, but there was just something about Duke that made this different.

We had this joke that Mandy sent Duke and Dandy to us. Duke caught my mom’s attention because he had this goofy look on his face like he was smiling, and Mandy did that a lot. And now it’s like Duke sent us my parents’ new dog, Seger. He’s another beagle, a purebred meant for shows who didn’t quite meet his breeder’s standards. He’s too long and has a crooked tooth, so the breeder just wanted him to go to a good home. Six months old, crate trained, from a good line with no health issues, and registered with papers. My mom kept saying, “if we get him,” but we all knew it was a when, especially when she said he was too good an opportunity to pass up.

And this time, it is different. I lived with Duke and Dandy for a little while, but Seger is very much my parents’ dog. And yet Brandon and I were excited like little kids when they got him. Brandon has a cat, at least, but my apartment doesn’t allow pets–I mean, I hear a cat meowing and at least one or two people in another building have dogs, so I’m not really sure if I missed a memo that said, “Just kidding, we allow pets now.” But I am all about them having another dog. I still miss Duke, though. I think maybe I always will.

In some ways, Seger’s a lot like him. He likes car rides, he’s very calm, and he’s really well-behaved, saved those puppy things like chewing and boundless energy that has my dad sending texts like, “HE FINALLY SAT DOWN!!!!” in the middle of the day. But he’s different, too. He gets along really well with other dogs, which we’re all excited about. He’s quiet, too. Duke wasn’t exactly loud, but you could count on getting a couple barks in a day. When we visited Seger, he never made a sound, and although he greeted us at the door, we’re new to him. Duke would run and seem excited; Seger seemed more curious. We’re going to see him again this weekend–my dad’s heading out of town, so my mom will be with him for the weekend and feels she’s gonna need some relief from having to constantly watch him so he doesn’t chew furniture or pee somewhere. It’s been hilarious to me to watch, because Duke and Dandy were a little older and although they had a few early accidents when they were adjusting to their new home, they didn’t need trained. Seger’s still little and learning, and we haven’t had a puppy since Mandy, so watching them do this from almost the beginning is so entertaining to me. Paul and I are dog-sitting in a couple weeks while my parents are at a wedding and Paul keeps saying I’m gonna eat my words when I have to chase Seger down, which I don’t really doubt, but I’ll never admit it to my dad. Teasing him about not being able to handle a puppy is too fun.

So all in all, the new dog is bittersweet. I’m glad they have one–the house is too empty otherwise. My mom got sick right after Duke died, but when she got back into her normal  routine, that’s when she said it got really depressing, not coming home to an excited dog anymore. I think sometimes, people look at it as “replacing” one animal with another, but  I don’t. I think you fill that quiet, empty house, but Duke and Dandy weren’t the same as Mandy and Seger’s not the same as Duke and Dandy.  They were each unique and they each brought something different to our lives. Seger is fun and exciting and I love having a dog around there again, but I think I’m always gonna miss Duke.