I’m glad to have the day off. After a series of busy weekends and a week full of stuff to go to, it’s nice to have today–and yesterday, really–to just do whatever we want, which has mostly been a few errands with most time spent at home. I’ve been catching up on reading, Netflix, and some looming writing deadlines.

This week, we had Paul’s sister Emily’s baccalaureate mass, with some socializing and cake after. His mom is still being a little pushy about wanting me to have a bridal shower, which I don’t want, but I gave her a “maybe” to a luncheon that appeased her for now but will probably turn into a no. Can’t we just throw one big party for the wedding and be done with it?

Thursday brought graduation, dinner, and less wedding talk, thankfully. My old high school is still so familiar, yet at this point, I know only a few of the teachers–I think the new faces I don’t recognize outnumber the familiar ones now. But it’s funny how many of them still remember me. I’ve been instructed to pass along a wedding announcement for the alumni newsletter, but I figure I’ll get to that when we’re actually closer to the wedding.

Graduation itself was nice, but there’s not much to say–just your typical high-school graduation. Emily kicks ass, though, graduating with highest honors and basically a free ride to college. She’s following in my footsteps, heading off to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg campus, to major in writing like I did. She’s even been assigned to the same building I lived in all four years. I’m excited for her. I know she’s anxious to sort of be out on her own, a lot like I was.

She’s tackling all the graduation stuff early–her party was Saturday, and their other sister, Julie, had the idea of doing a group gift of dorm stuff. I know she loved stuff from Lush I got her before and I’d already had the plan of filling a shower caddy with some of their products, so I just added that to the pile, plus a filtered water bottle she said she wanted. The rest of the gifts included organizational drawers, laundry supplies, cleaning supplies, some basic dishes, picture frames, a closet organizer, and a hamper. She’ll need very little. I think the only things we didn’t get her were things that depended a little more on what building she ended up in, which she didn’t find out until the morning of the party.

The party was fun. We went over early to help out and ended up not doing a whole hell of a lot. Paul made cookies Friday night and we helped fill some balloons and decorate the tables, but that was about it. Instead, I somehow ended up holding their baby cousin, Garrett, who’s almost a year old and big enough that I’m not afraid to hold him, and I actually had him for quite a bit, which I know Paul–and everyone else–loved. It helps that he’s a really calm, chill baby. He’s not very fussy and he’s content to just be held by whoever wants him. He played with my necklace a lot, and later, he almost fell asleep on my brother when my family made it over. I’m sure my parents were loving us with babies, too. I caught my mom taking some pictures.

Paul had made me breakfast earlier in the morning and seemed to kind of be really kissing ass, and when I got suspicious, he kind of jokingly said it was in case things didn’t go well at the party. But they were mostly alright–the only issue was when Paul had a few beers early on and was a little drunk, and his mom got unnecessarily concerned, to the point where she started asking me how much he’d had and how much he drinks at home. It’s frustrating that she jumps to conclusions of alcoholism after a few drinks at a party, and it’s frustrating that she acts like if he had a drinking problem, I wouldn’t have done something about it. There was a point over a year ago, when he was in his own apartment before he lived with me, where I was concerned with how often he was drinking, and I said something.

She also always wants him to spend the night over there, so part of me wonders if she wasn’t almost hoping we couldn’t drive home. But we go into these things with a plan–we choose a set time to leave, usually earlier than we actually want to leave because we know we’ll get hung up saying goodbyes, and we stick to it.

She also was apparently pissed that the extended family was a little drunk, too, because God forbid people drink and have fun at a party.

We made a pit stop on our way home at a local store for some local milk and ice cream, then headed home. We spent most of yesterday at home, but we did head out to a food-truck festival at the casino. I also put 20 bucks in a slot machine and lost, and then we went to church and out for groceries. We tried to take a trip out to the park for a walk, but of course it started raining on the way over, despite sunny skies and no rain expected for another few hours.

Today brings laundry, a brief shopping trip, and maybe a second attempt at the park. And the busy weekends will keep on coming–next week, we have a cousin’s graduation party, baby Garrett’s first birthday party, and I have my heart set on going out to watch the Pens game. It’ll most likely be the only game I can go out for, so I really want to take advantage of the opportunity.

Saturday 9: The Star-Spangled Banner

1) Are you a veteran? Are there veterans in your family? Do you know anyone who is active military? (We are grateful and want to hear about it.) I’m not a veteran, but my dad, uncle, and grandfather all are. My dad was injured in Iraq, and my uncle was a medic. And I know plenty of active military–my future brother-in-law is a Marine, a friend of ours is in the Air Force, my best friend’s husband is in the Navy, and my brother is in the Army.

2) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What’s your favorite picnic food? Salads of any sort, particularly pasta salad and potato salad. Although in my family, potato salad is for any occasion.

3) Let’s celebrate the Memorial Day holiday with ice cream. What’s your favorite flavor? Cone or cup? I love just about any fruit flavor and prefer cones. At the moment, I’m excited to try to the orange-pineapple ice cream we bought last night.
4) This marks the weekend when Americans step up their outdoor activity and do things they may not have been able to do during the winter months. For example, when is the last time you rode a bike? It’s probably been a few years. No bike and nowhere to ride it, although I keep saying I want to get into biking.
5) Or went hiking? Since we haven’t really had the time or weather for a proper hike, my guess is probably back in the fall.

6) Or rode a horse? That’s been years, too.

7) Or toasted a marshmallow? Up at camp last summer.

8) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? Yes! The ceiling fan is running. It’s only recently gotten warm enough to need it.

9) Crazy Sam needs your help: What song or a performer would you like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer? You’ll begin seeing your suggestions as Saturday 9 themes in mid-June. Thanks! Just because I’m listening to them right now on Spotify as I do this, let’s go with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Friday 5: Good and Bad

  1. What’s good and what’s bad about the weather lately? It’s finally warmed up, but it was pretty hot and humid today.
  2. What’s something that’s so bad it’s good? I can’t think of a good example, but I feel this way about a handful of movies.
  3. What’s something that used to be bad but now is good? My financial situation. I used to really scrape by, and now I’m able to save money. But I’m planning a wedding, so joke’s on me!
  4. What are some of your pet words for very bad and very goodI swear a lot, so for very bad things, I’ll say something is fucked or fucked up or bullshit. I use more generic words for very good. Although I think my favorite pet word of sorts that’s used a lot is my friends say “nice” instead of drunk. As in, “How nice do you feel?” or “Are you nice yet?”
  5. What’s your favorite song by Bad Company (or Good Charlotte, if BadCo isn’t your style)? Good Charlotte was my jam in middle school, and my favorite was probably “My Bloody Valentine.”

Friday Five: Coverage

  1. What do your bed linens look like, right now? Plain white, including the bedspread, which has those little eyelet flowers on it.
  2. What’s the most you’ve spent on something you use as protection for something expensive? I really don’t know. Probably like $20 or something for an iPhone case.
  3. What does your nicest coat look like? It would either be a white trenchcoat or this big, heavy, long red winter coat I found in the Strip District that was like made in Tibet or something.
  4. What was the most recent cheese-covered (or chocolate-covered, if you prefer) dish you enjoyed? A microwaveable pizza for lunch.
  5. What’s something for which you often forget (or choose not) to replace the cover? The only thing I can think of is my computer–I have a little case for it for when I travel, but I sometimes don’t bother with it, especially if it’s just an overnight trip to my parents’ or something.

As always, from Friday Five.

One Wedding Down, Two to Go

I’m so sleepy.

My cousin Adam got married on Saturday!

I honestly expected all of us getting engaged and married would be weirder than it actually is. Maybe I’m just getting used to it, but it didn’t have the sort of surreal feel I expected it to. But it was a nice ceremony done by Fr. Bob, who I love and actually spoke to a little bit about the possibility of getting him for our wedding next year. I’m not a wedding crier at all, but seeing other people cry gets me, so seeing Ashley start getting emotional got me. And my mom cried, of course, as did my aunt and uncle. The one that surprised me was my Uncle Vince, though.

What sucks is that after a string of warm, pretty typical May weather, the one day of the week that got cold and rainy was that one. I hear rain on your wedding day is good luck, though, and it didn’t interfere much–it was just a little chilly during the outdoor dinner, but my mom warned me in advance and I was armed with a change of shoes and a change of tights.

The whole thing was so much fun. I was seated with some of the cousins for dinner, and we were all drinking and laughing and having a good time. And then everyone pretty much drank and danced all night. It was nice to have some friends there, too, like Stephanie and Sarah since we don’t see too much of each other, so I tried to find a good balance of hanging out with the friends and spending a little time with the family, too. Of course, the usual suspects were all on the dance floor together, too. Even Paul danced, and he wasn’t even drunk.

It’s the first of three weddings we have this year, and then of course our own next year–my brother’s is next in August, and then Paul’s younger brother follows in October. It’s gonna be good times.

We stayed until pretty much the end–my parents left a little bit before the DJ ended for the night, and we stayed a little longer. I’m glad we did, too, because we got in a couple more good rounds of dancing and mass sing-a-longs before spending a few minutes with whoever was left down at the fire pit, then we headed back to my parents’ to crash.

We slept on the couches, and I should’ve taken the pull-out bed in the sun room because I slept like shit. There’s a chance the sun room wouldn’t have changed that, but it would’ve been worth a try. I ended up only getting a few hours of sleep. In the morning, my dad made us breakfast, I did my usual free laundry, and we ended up hanging around a little longer than I’d wanted. We dropped off some recycling, picked up some groceries, and I forgot about the National Road festival on our usual route home, so it took us an hour and a half to get there. By that time, it was getting close to a scheduled dinner for Marissa’s graduation at our beloved Hofbrauhaus, and I ended up with just enough time to slap some makeup on my face and go.

Dinner was a lot of fun, too, with a big group of us eating and drinking and about half of us hanging out for the second time that weekend, since so many of us were at the wedding, which also means there were some slight hangovers. But we had a good time. I’ve forgotten how funny Marissa is when she drinks. It was fun to see everyone again, especially in such a short time span between last week and this week.

Paul, Stephanie, and I only stayed for dinner, while the rest did more of a bar crawl I wish I could’ve gone to, but alas, work beckons.

And since I got to bed a little late, I spent most of my work day nearly dozing off. I’m really surprised if no one actually noticed me doing it. I feel like my eyes were fluttering weirdly for the bulk of the day. Like, I had to look real fucked up or something.

I only just realized when I sat and thought about it that things are going to be chaos for about the next month–now that the wedding’s done, we still have his sister’s high-school graduation and her party, one of my younger cousins’ graduation parties the following week, then we’re running off to State College for a long weekend, the week after we get back will be Kelly’s bridal shower, and then days after that will be my birthday, and at some point in the following weeks, we might be going camping with Julie and Michael.

Oh, and I have my heart set on a food-truck festival at the casino Sunday.

Saturday 9: What Hurts the Most

Saturday 9: What Hurts the Most (2006)

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

1) What hurts Sam the most is her sole, since she just found that earring she thought was lost by stepping on it with her bare foot. How about you? Any aches and pains to report? My left shoulder hurts a little bit, meaning I probably slept on it weird. My left foot has also been a little achey, and I blame that one on wearing a low heel to work for a couple days instead of the boots I’ve been sporting through the winter and still chilly spring.

2) What’s the last thing you misplaced? Did you find it? Stamps. I have not found them, so I’m probably gonna have to buy more today.

3) Lead singer Gary LeVox sings that he’s not afraid to cry. When is the last time you shed a tear? A little bit on Tuesday, I think it was, but it was dumb. Like,  no real reason to. Which is really, really rare for me.

4) Gary auditioned for another country group, Little Big Town, but didn’t get in. Considering how successful Rascal Flatts has been, he’s probably not sorry. Tell us about something you thought you wanted, but later weren’t so sure. On very rare occasions, I second-guess whether or not I really want a career in writing. But I always come back to yep, I do.

5) The country group has their roots in Columbus, Ohio. What else is Ohio known for? I’m from the Pittsburgh area, so hating Cleveland is a thing.

6) Lead guitarist Joe Don Rooney married model and former Miss Georgia, Tiffany Fallon. Many major pageants give prizes in the talent, congeniality and swimsuit competitions. Would you prefer to have exceptional skills, a great personality, or a terrific body? I think there’s something to be said for all three, but I’d prefer either the skills or the personality. They’re better qualities to have, and they’re more important than looks.

7) 2006, the year this song was popular, was a very good one for tennis pro Roger Federer. He reached the finals in all four Grand Slam tournaments, and won three. What’s the last game you won? (Yes, Words with Friends counts.) I’m not even sure of the last game I played with another person!

8) Actor Tony Shalhoub won an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of detective Adrian Monk on Monk. Who’s your favorite TV detective? Probably Benson on Law & Order SVU because she’s a badass. I can’t think of other TV detectives I like as much, or that I’ve watched enough to be able to rank them over her.

9) Random question … You’ve just won an all-expenses-paid trip but now you have to choose: Carnivale in Brazil, the Bordeaux Wine Festival in France, or the Running of the Bulls in Spain? Carnivale. It sounds the most fun to me.

Booking Through Thursday: Weeding 2

How often (if ever) do you weed out your library?

It’s not something I really make it a point to do–I don’t make a decision to weed out my library and go through the shelves. I do it kind of gradually. I think I mentioned in last week’s answer that I give books two reads unless I really hate them, so generally, if after the second read I decide it’s something I don’t need to keep, I get rid of it. And I have so little reading time usually that I’m probably only getting to a re-read like this a couple times a year.

We celebrated Sarah’s graduation from nursing school on Saturday, which was a good time. Of course, she wasn’t at her own party when we got there and we were greeted by her family, but hey. We hung out, we ate, she eventually came, followed eventually by Steph and Garrett and Marissa.

It was nice to hang out, even though it was a shitty day.

And we had some talks. Marissa said she’s always wanted to apologize to me for the way things happened a few years ago–and it’s strange to say that that’s been “a few years ago” now–and I returned the sentiment. One of the reasons I chose to leave that group of friends was because I had turned into the kind of person who sits back and just laughs while her friends are being torn down, and I hated it. I was on a path to becoming someone I hated, and I had to stop it.

I didn’t need to hear that from her, but it was nice regardless.

And I’ll say this, too–I feel vindicated. I’m not gonna broadcast anyone else’s shit and I’m certainly not happy about these things, but there’s something to be said for being right about a person.

But all in all, we had a good time, and as always, it was nice to see everyone. We went to my parents’ for a bit and did some laundry for free and hung out and Duke harassed me to pet him and scratch his chest, then we headed back out to the afterparty at Sarah’s house. I’d considered spending the night, but there was a possibility of a shopping trip Sunday with Julie and Katie, so I figured home was best.

The shopping trip didn’t actually happen, but Julie and Michael did get bored and want to come hang out. Paul and I skipped church to do it to, ha. We did make a trip out to South Hills to get some Lush stuff for Emily as a graduation gift, then went to dinner and talked for a good while. A lot like we did the last time they decided to come out spur of the moment.

We did some apartment cleaning while they were on the road hoping to get enough done to make it presentable for other humans, and while we didn’t succeed to a point that I feel comfortable inviting them in, we made progress. If we focus and prioritize a little more, we’ll get there, and we’ll have people over all the time! Probably not.

It’s gonna be a busy few weeks–a wedding and some graduation parties. But at least it’s all good things.

We’ll probably handle it by spending our first free weekend inside for two days.

Saturday 9: These Boots Were Made for Walkin’

Saturday 9: These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ (1966)

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

1) In this song/video, Ms. Sinatra’s boots make a serious fashion statement. Do you choose footwear for comfort or fashion? A healthy mix of both. I really love a gorgeous shoe, but I wear things like heels pretty infrequently–mostly for special occasions. This used to include going to the theater in the city, but these days I’ve been taking the subway and walking, so I stick to more practical shoes. On a day-to-day basis, I go for comfort or practicality.

2) This is by far the biggest hit of Nancy Sinatra’s career, which includes 6 top ten hits. Can you name another? Nope.

3) Nancy recorded it on Reprise Records, which was founded by her father, Frank. Did your parents give you a leg up in your chosen career? Well, they payed for me to go to school, so I’d call that a leg up in that I got an education and I got it debt-free. My dad called the first newspaper I did some work for to ask about openings because he knew a writer there, and I was actually pretty pissed about it–he did it behind my back and because he decided I needed a summer job. It was the exact kind of thing he complained about his own dad doing.

4) Professionally, Nancy has been involved in espionage, singing the theme to a James Bond movie and appearing in an episode of The Man from UNCLE. Do you enjoy spy/secret agent stories? I do, although I don’t really watch or read them often. I think I’d get bored of them if I did.

5) Nancy maintains the official Sinatra family website, which includes a link to the site of Mia Farrow. Ms. Farrow was, briefly, Nancy’s stepmother, and obviously they are still on good terms. Do you have a big, extended family? Mostly just lots of cousins, but I’ll soon be marrying into a big family.

6) Nancy’s music — and posters — were very popular with the troops during the Vietnam War. Nancy continues to return their loyalty and affection with her efforts on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Here’s your chance to promote a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. What charity gets your support? I donate to a few of them here and there, but I’ll go with one I wrote about recently–J.K. Rowling’s Lumos, which is dedicated to keeping children out of orphanages.

7) Nancy hosts a Sirius radio show devoted to her father’s music. Do you have a subscription to a satellite radio or podcast network? No. My fiancé used to have a Sirius subscription, which I miss a lot, but it wasn’t worth spending the money. Especially now that his work commute is like five minutes.

8) Nancy has said that she and her sister Tina had a more comfortable relationship with their famous father than their late brother, Frank, Jr., did. Do you think it’s easier for mothers to get along with their sons, while fathers have an easier time with their daughters? My experience is actually the opposite–I think I have a better relationship with my mom and my brother has a better relationship with my dad, but at the same time, those are also the parents we’re the most similar to personality-wise. The one issue, though, is that my mom and I have similar tempers, so when we’d clash when I was a teenager, it got nasty.

9) Random question: Tonight’s dinner is on us. Would you prefer to eat at a casual restaurant with exceptional food, or an exclusive restaurant with so-so food but a celebrity clientele? Exceptional food. Always.

Friday 5: How Did You Learn That?

  1. How did you learn to throw a ball? I would argue that I still don’t actually know how to do it. But I don’t remember. Probably a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle initially, and then in school, of course, it was a gym-class staple.
  2. How did you learn to drive? My parents taught me, which was a nightmare. My mom was a little melodramatic about me being, well, a new driver, and she made some jokes about it in front of my grandma that upset me and put me off driving for a while. On top of that, my dad was deployed to Iraq when I was first learning, so she was the only person I had to teach me and be in the car with me. When I did feel like doing it again, it was a hassle to actually get time behind the wheel because with my dad gone and my mom handling everything, there just wasn’t really time to either go practice or to let me drive somewhere, since we were usually in a hurry and my mom didn’t want me speeding, of course. When my dad did come back, he was also a terrible teacher, mostly because he’d sit there in the passenger seat and make hand motions when he wanted me to do something, which is the least helpful thing ever because I can’t look at your fucking hands when I have to watch the road, Dad. He was also a fan of taking me on random back roads, which in itself was okay, but then I didn’t know where I was and he gives terrible directions that everyone in my family hates. It’s less direction and more unhelpful “choose your own adventure” suggestions. My mom and I especially hate it because we usually prefer taking the fastest or most direct route and he’s just sitting there like, “You can go any way you want,” but I digress. And that’s why I didn’t get my license until I was 18.
  3. How did you learn to swim? Mostly with Nolan and Meri at a family friend’s pool when we were kids, with the occasional assist from my parents out like at public pools, but that was rare.
  4. What is the most recent thing you learned how to do from an online tutorial? I don’t know! It probably doesn’t count, but some cooking stuff. Like how to make zucchini noodles, which is really easy, but getting the excess water out is a crucial step.
  5. How did you learn most of your social etiquette? Through my parents leading by example, mostly, especially my mom. Table manners came from my dad, though–he’s a stickler for it like his mom was.

From Friday 5.