Friday Five: Pages

  1. What book’s pages seemed to fly by as you read them? I tore through all the Harry Potter books pretty fast, obviously. Parts of American Gods went quick, but it was a long book and it took me a long time to read it compared to Paul and Emily, so I didn’t have that same epic page-turning experience. Of my current reads, Tess of the D’Urbervilles has flown, and strangely, so has 50 Shades of Grey, but for entirely different reasons.
  2. What’s a book you were pretty sure you would dislike but turned out to be great? Tess of the D’Urbervilles, actually. It was an old one my mom passed down to me left from college or something, most likely, and it just didn’t sound interesting at all. Wrong. Super compelling things going on with characters there.
  3. What book’s main character would you fall in love with if you knew him or her in real life, and why? Not sure about a main character, but Sirius Black because he’s awesome.
  4. Who’s the author you’ve read the most books by? Probably J. K. Rowling. Even with other writers I’ve loved just as much, either they haven’t written as many books yet or it’s just taken me longer to acquire and read them.
  5. What’s a really long book you enjoyed? Obviously whatever Harry Potter book was the longest. I also loved Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
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Booking Through Thursday: Format

  1. Do you prefer to read hard cover or paperback books? I think I have a slight preference for paperback.
  2. Why?  Just because they’re smaller and easier to handle, although  I like the actual style and durability of hardcovers better, and obviously that’s what I want if I’m buying immediately or want first editions. Paperback makes for better travel reading, too, though worse pool/beach reading.
  3. Do you read books in the other format anyway? Yep. I’ll very rarely skip out on something because of the format, although buying used I tend to prefer hardcover because the condition is usually better and the price is a steal. Paperbacks might always be cheaper, but plenty of places will give you a good hardcover for five bucks.

The universe must be conspiring against me, Paul, Brandon, and Kelly seeing The Nutcracker. Traffic made us late this year, although at least we all made it this year–unlike last year, when I went solo without a cellphone.

I think it was a better show this year, though. Either that or I just love it so much that I get really excited and am easily impressed. I never get tired of it and it was a really gorgeous performance. We all like it, and it was Paul’s first ballet ever, which I didn’t find out until we were on the way home. As a former ballerina, I assume everyone has seen The Nutcracker.

We were supposed to get another snow storm, and just like the last time, we didn’t, but my mom wanted us all home Friday night anyway. Normally, we’d all have a sleepover at my apartment, but I had a hair appointment Saturday morning so heading back Friday night was our best bet.

After my hair cut, which was essentially just giving me some layers, I spent the rest of the day lounging and napping.

Paul and I met for breakfast Sunday, then my mother and I met back up in Washington for a day full of Christmas shopping. Until then, I’d only bought about two things for Paul and a necklace Brandon and I ordered after The Nutcracker before we took separate cars home, but I did manage to tackle almost all of it in one trip with my mom. The catch is my mom is a serious Christmas shopper. I’ve been going with her for years and still get tired and am ready to tap out way earlier than she is. We shopped from late morning until evening, stopping for lunch and ending at my apartment so she could help me hang a cork board I bought when I moved in but refused to stay up.

I live an exciting life.

Friday Five: Seeds

  1. When did you last have sunflower seeds? I can’t even remember. It’s definitely been many years.
  2. What do you think of the idea of sipping coconut milk through a straw, right from a fresh coconut? I’d have to try coconut milk first to make sure I actually like it, but if I do, sipping it straight from a coconut would be pretty cool.
  3. When did you most recently consume some kind of seed? Not sure. I eat enough fruit and such that it had to be recently, I just can’t think of when or what.
  4. What’s the seediest-looking nearby neighborhood like? Just really run-down with random really nice-looking buildings, too.
  5. When did you last plant some metaphorical seeds, and has there been germination? I was telling Paul and my mom some things I’d like for Christmas last night and today, but I have no idea where that will get me. With Paul, since he’s a forgetful man, probably nowhere. With my mom, it depends on whether or not she buys Brandon a Kindle and has to buy me more stuff to keep things equal.

Steel City Con

I’ve been doing lots of nerdy things in the past few weeks. Received and listened to An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer then spent over $100 in Gaiman’s web store in a sale on a signed print for myself and a shirt for Paul. Met Augusten Burroughs at a book fair in a museum. Went to Steel City Con. Existed.

Steel City Con is a well-known thing for me at this point. This time, it involved the now tedious task of getting Paul out of bed. I’m praying he’ll get a new job soon so we move forward with Step One of Kicking Paul’s Depression’s Ass. Step Two is move out of his parents’ house, Step Three is see a shrink. I also now owe him doughnuts since he want some  and his love affair with sleeping left us with no time to get him any.

The good news is he cheered up when we were out and about, as he always does, unless you count the parts where he complained about extended family and having to attend a birthday party for a one-year-old, which he thought was a bit much. I’m kind of at this point in my life where I’m all about saying “fuck it” and doing what you want, but baby birthday parties do have a grey area since you don’t want to be a dick. Really, he probably could’ve gotten away with not going if not for his mother undoubtedly giving him a hard time about it. So he did what any of us would do–went as late as possible and complained about it the whole day to that point.

Steel City Con was fun, as always. They expanded it this year, and it seemed like most of the expansion was occupied by artists, including one dude who did these great comic-like prints of everything from Firefly to Arrested Development and got Brandon to buy an Arrested Development shirt, partly because they were five bucks and the dude didn’t want to have to pack them all back up at the end of the convention. He was cool. Should’ve grabbed a business card.

Our buddy Shane of Cross-Worlds Nexus was there, as always, so I scored some of his signed comics.

My favorite, though, was the saints of Tee Minus 24. At one point, they’d been selling these awesome Lost shirts, which they appear to have discontinued. When they posted on Facebook about appearing at Steel City Con again, I asked if they’d have any of them, and they went above and beyond and basically made sure they had two prints specifically for me in my size–I just had to ask for them when I got there. And they’re gorgeous–“Dharma ’77” and “See you in another life, brother.” Next on my list is the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner shirt they have.

Our usual method is to walk through the convention center twice so as to make sure we didn’t miss anything on our first trip around–and we almost always do because there’s so much–but the aforementioned birthday party had Paul and I cut out early and go to lunch at The Green Mango, who still make the best pad thai I’ve ever had in the most perfect portion. Paul’s a big fan of their desserts. So we had a nice little lunch date while snow and chaos descended on Monroeville.

Friday Five: Mother Goose, May I?

  1. Have you any wool? I’m pretty sure I do somewhere, but I’m not sure what or where. Most likely a coat.
  2. How mony men have ye? I’ve got Paul, who continues to be the best human ever. Brandon, meanwhile, is the worst but only because he’s my brother (actually, he’s almost turned into a bitchy best friend). And then Scott, who’s practically a bodyguard. If Terra’s not careful about what she tells him or how she words it, he checks up on me. It’s sweet. really, and Terra and I joke about it, but almost always overprotective and unnecessary.
  3. How does your garden grow? I attempted planting little potted flowers and it was going well for awhile, then they just stagnated and died. I’ll have to aim for a proper garden someday. I wish I could plant outside because I’d plant things on this list of plants to help the bee population, although I guess I could look into the possibility of keeping one outside in a pot. In fact, one day I’d like to just have a big-ass garden and actually keep bees.
  4. Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I haven’t seen the resident stray kitty in a few days, actually. I owe her some food, big time. I hope she’s okay. Sometimes, she jumps up on the air-conditioning unit right outside my bedroom window.
  5. What are little boys made of? Judging by Brandon as a child, pure chaos and mess.

In Which I Meet Augusten Burroughs

It’s a good thing I was scrolling through Twitter on the toilet at work, otherwise I wouldn’t have caught word of Augusten Burroughs in Pittsburgh.

I seized my first opportunity to ask Paul to go with me since we already had plans in the city later that afternoon anyway and I didn’t want to go alone–key word being “want,” as if he would’ve turned me down I wouldn’t whined a little and then gone alone.

Turns out the Heinz History Center in the strip has an annual free book fair where tons of writers go in, set up tables, hang out, and sign, plus a few talks. Augusten Burroughs was the major featured guest with a talk at noon, so I booked my ass down there and missed the very beginning thanks to parking being a mess.

But he spoke for a little bit about life events and writing, then did a nice question-and-answer session covering everything from his writing process to how he likes Pittsburgh. I kept sucking on mints to tame this wicked cough I’ve come down with, and Paul sat actually enjoying it, especially for someone who’s never actually read any of Burroughs’ books, and even asked a question–and his unfamiliarity made me nervous and when I saw his hand go up, I asked what he was going to ask and he wouldn’t tell me. Turns out it was a legitimately good question about the difference for him between writing memoir and writing fiction, like his first book and the new one he’s working on. Answer in short: fiction is scarier in that you don’t know if it’s good or not or where it’s going, but with memoir you have all the pieces.

Paul asked later why I didn’t ask a question, and it’s because I didn’t have anything to ask. I haven’t read anything of his in awhile so I don’t have any questions about that, and the only other question I ever think of is about writing advice, which is a stereotypical question writers get asked all the time.

I saved everything I had to say to him for the signing portion downstairs right after the talk.

I do have to say the organization was good, even though it was quite a small event–everyone got a post-it note stuck on the book they wanted signed with their name written on it so he could just copy it to personalize the autograph and save time asking for names and how to spell them.

I do consider myself a pretty big Augusten Burroughs fan, and although seeing him in person during his talk was surreal, I never had a huge moment of excitement…that is until we were in the signing line. Then I had my moment of, “Oh, my God, I’ve been a fan of his since high school and I’m about to actually meet him.” And I gushed on him a little bit, telling him I’m a big fan, I related to and was moved by A Wolf at the Table, and my personal favorite, “I want to write like you!” to which he replied, “No, you should write like you!” so I said, “Okay, you inspire me as a writer.” And he thanked me and posed for a picture with me.

He’s a really nice guy, too. Funny, sweet, a bit smaller than I’d pictured, and charismatic and easy to talk to. Solid dude, really.

As for the rest of our day in the city, we hit Primanti’s for lunch, walked the Strip for a little bit, then met up with my family and my mom’s work friend Fran and her husband for Trans Siberian Orchestra’s annual show, then dinner with all of them, then back to my place for sex and a coughing fit about every hour or so that was immune to Robitussin. Fun times.

Booking Through Thursday: Buy, Borrow, Trade

  1. Do you buy the books you read, or do you borrow them from the library or from friends or from somewhere else? I buy almost all of them, but Paul and I have had a book swap going pretty much since we started dating.
  2. Do you prefer new or used books? I prefer the quality of new and the price of used.
  3. If you buy them, do you keep them? Usually, unless I don’t like them.
  4. If you don’t keep them, how long do you hold on to them before letting them go? What do you do with them? I’ll usually read something at least twice before I decide to get rid of it. Obviously, if I like it I keep it forever, but if I’m unsure I’ll give it another try. In some very rare instances, though, I’ll hate it and get rid of it as soon as I finish, usually via selling it. This is your fate when I finally conquer you, Fountainhead. Fucker.

Since the snow never arrived, travel plans weren’t hindered and Scott was able to come home for Thanksgiving. They only get liberty for Thanksgiving, meaning they can only travel so far, and Scott’s lucky enough to live within the approve travel radius. Some of his Navy buddies aren’t, though, so Terra invited them over and one, Wells, took her up, so she decided to have a little Black Friday shindig.

Since Paul spent Thanksgiving night at my house, I had the lovely task of waking him up, which isn’t easy. His sleeping habits are one of the reasons I think he’s depressed–no matter how much he sleeps, he’s still tired and it takes a lot of effort to wake him up. One of the things I hear him say the most is, “My alarm went off, but I just could not move,” or some variation of that, at least three times a week. Since he had to go home and shower and change and we had to leave for Terra’s at 2, I gave him until about noon and promised I’d let him sleep as late as he wanted the next day at my place.

My brain wasn’t working quite right and I miscalculated the time I’d need to get ready, so I ended up running late. I figured it would be easier for me to drive and crash at my apartment, plus I was expecting a package I didn’t want to leave out all weekend. And then when I went to pick up Paul, we ended up talking with his sisters for awhile.

Once we got to Terra’s, we had a good time. She had plenty of food and drinks, which was good for Paul since he forgot to eat–I tried to feed him at my house but he said he was gonna eat at his, then he forgot. Moral of the story: always force-feed Paul.

Scott’s friend John came, and so did Terra’s brother, Dom, his girlfriend, and her two kids. We pretty much just ate, drank, watched Clerks 2, and hung out and played some Apples to Apples. Simple, but a good time. And Wells is a nice dude. Bonus points because Terra’s dog, Lilly, likes him.

Thanksgiving

We were supposed to get some pretty epic snow leading up to Thanksgiving, but it turned into an epic fail–we never got more than a dusting here. I was just about the only person happy about having to go to work still on Wednesday because I stayed late enough Tuesday to see I was assigned a really good, high-profile show, and I did not want to get stuck in my parking lot and let that gem slip away to someone else. This is the same reason I’ve put off calling in sick thanks to a rough cold this week, but we don’t even have the next episode in so my ass is staying home tomorrow.

Anyway, since the snow failed to come, I went home Wednesday night and met Paul for dinner at Fiesta Azteca, which is basically his favorite place, and they were celebrating their first anniversary and he couldn’t pass that up. I forgot my leftovers and when he went back for them, they appeared to have been retrieved from the trash, which is just about the most devastating of first-world problems.

Thanks to Foursquare creeping, Meri knew I was home and said a small group was headed to Lynn’s, and even though Paul and I were done with dinner a tad earlier than everyone planned to get there, I said fuck it, might as well just go out and get started on the drinks.

Lynn’s was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it because apparently the day before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking day of the year and everyone goes out. I think by the time Paul and I left around midnight, we’d counted somewhere around a total of 20 Geibel grads. Most importantly, Leah and Noah came out to celebrate their birthday, which fell on Thanksgiving this year.

Paul came over to eat Thanksgiving dinner, which my family has always done small, before we headed to his grandparents’ house with his mom’s whole family, which I was not looking forward to for obvious reasons. But I suspect he wasn’t, either, judging by his choice to come to my parents’ first and his complaints about his mom’s family leading up to getting there. I even asked if he’s been hiding their disfunction from me the past three years or if they’ve just gotten worse, to which replied they’ve gotten worse.

We had to stop at Walmart on our way for some Aleve for his grandma, who hurt her neck allegedly cleaning a fan that was obviously not actually cleaned. The theory is she actually tripped and fell over their new Dachsund puppy and feared telling the truth would just prompt her kids to tell her to get rid of him.

Now, this puppy. Paul’s grandparents already have two Cocker Spaniels, which he’s complained about plenty, and the family question was apparently, “Why the hell did they get another dog?” It is cute as hell–Paul even loved him, and Paul’s not a dog person–but after just a few minutes in the house, the reason for the family confusion was evident. The puppy was confined to just the living room (I’m told they also gate him off and leave him alone if they want to get away from him, which why even get the puppy, then?) and had to be kept held on the couch, I guess because they didn’t want him getting tripped over (why even get the puppy, then?) and because if he jumped off, he could hurt his back, which I didn’t think was a real thing but actually is.

We mostly watched Castle with Paul’s cousins, including one whom doesn’t believe in watching something so much as she does yelling, “OH, THIS PART IS SO FUNNY! IT’S COMING UP NEXT! IT’S SOON! ALMOST! WATCH, WATCH!”

Ultimately, Paul’s grandma’s neck started hurting her so bad so that his parents decided to take her to the hospital, which they probably should’ve done sooner, but I’ve experienced Grandma Hospital Resistance firsthand–when mine broke her hip, she actually didn’t even tell anyone she’d fallen until the next damn morning when we went to pick her up for church and she was still in her pajamas and said she’d fallen and her hip hurt really bad. Anyway, obviously his grandfather went, too, and some aunts and uncles and Paul and some siblings and me helped clean up.

And then everybody else left, leaving me with Paul and his siblings alone in his grandparents’ house. Sure, we had Paul’s care as a means of escape, but we had no key to the house, so we couldn’t lock it if we wanted to leave.

Now, I’ll grant some oversight in the chaos of going to the hospital on Thanksgiving, but as the house emptied, it should’ve occurred to someone–especially relatives who live nearby–that leaving five kids and one girlfriend stuck was kind of a dick move and maybe we shouldn’t have to sit around for God knows how long waiting for them to get back. We didn’t even know what the deal was with his grandma until they were on their way back, probably due to a lack of minutes on prepaid cellphones, which I take as a damn good reason why prepaid phones aren’t actually practical for parents with six kids.

I wanted to go home, but I wasn’t gonna be a bitch and say, “Hey, take me home before you know what’s going on just because that’s what I want.” Jonathan, the youngest, did get quite bored, though, and that’s when I suggested maybe Paul take at least him and maybe Josh and Emily home, maybe even me, and he and Julie could stay so the house wasn’t empty and Jonathan wasn’t cranky. I figured his options were take Jonathan home or listen to Jonathan complain about how bored he was, but by then we did get word that everyone was on their way back, so the escape plan was scrapped because it was basically pointless.

Most siblings also started to devolve into that fun sibling state of being cooped up and getting bitchy. Jonathan was bored, Julie wanted to watch shitty Hallmark movies, and everyone else except maybe Emily probably would’ve killed to watch something not fucking stupid. But when they yelling over the TV started, it basically ended with Julie declaring we were gonna watch what she wanted to watch, a move she clearly learned from her mother and that’s really ironic considering how much they both love to remind you you’re not always right and can’t have your way, which I’m guessing is because it prevents them from having their way.

Meanwhile, we also had to wrangle a Dachsund puppy. Who we realized had not be fed the entire time we’d been in the house, which by the end of all this was a solid 12 hours for all but Paul and I.

First, we had to find food. Then we had to find a bowl. Julie started with just a little handful of food and he went nuts, so we put another larger handful in the bowl, which he inhaled. Meanwhile, Jonathan’s saying, “Grandpap only gives him like five pieces of food,” and I’m saying, “That’s definitely not enough food for him.” Then we gave him water, and he sucked all that down pretty damn fast, too. I figured he was probably still hungry and/or thirsty, but he’s little and we didn’t want to overdo it, so we decided to wait a bit and then take him potty.

We underestimated the size of his bladder, and I quickly caught him mid-pee, at which point Jonathan started saying, “I told you we should’ve taken him out sooner!” He was afraid we’d get in trouble, but the rest of us all knew it wasn’t the first or last time he or another dog would pee on the carpet. Being no stranger to cleaning up dog piss and knowing it’s an inconvenience but not a catastrophe, I delegated–someone take him out while me and others search for paper towels and carpet cleaner.

All we could scrounge was tissues and a tiny bit of fabric cleaner, but I made it happen, threw the tissues in the bathroom trash, and we resolved to never tell anyone he peed on the carpet–as if anyone would notice anyway and as if it we hadn’t thought to feed the poor puppy anyway, which is more than can be said for his actual owners.

Then we decided to let puppy loose in the kitchen, and he pretty much ran everywhere and sniffed everything, probably because he was being held on the fucking couch for like 12 hours.

It was at that point, when Paul and I were alone, that I quietly said, “I don’t want to sound like a douche, but do they know how to take care of a puppy?”

When they came back, Paul booked it to his coat and shoes and left to take me home, barely saying a thing to either parent or grandparent. By then, we were both hungry again, so I pulled out some leftovers and he decided he was too tired to drive and asked to stay the night.

I suspect he also didn’t want to go home.