Booking Through Thursday: Anticipation

Do you still get excited about new books as you did when you were little? In general? New books in particular, like from a favorite author? Or do you look at all new, unread books with the same level of anticipation?

I don’t remember getting excited much about new books when I was little. I think I probably just devoured everything. The last time I remember getting really excited about a new release from a favorite writer was for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I don’t think I’ve reached that level of excitement since. That said, I do always get a little excited when I hear that a writer I like is releasing something new. And I pretty much get excited to read anything new. Part of it has to do with the fact that it’s gradually making a dent in my unread bookshelf, but it’s just exciting to be starting a new story. It might become a new favorite, and reading only helps me to learn more as a person but also grow as a writer.

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Friday Five: I Scream

  1. 1. What’s something this past week that made you slightly bananas? Work. Too much overtime.
  2. 2. What did you do last Sunday? What are you planning for this coming Sunday? Last Sunday, Paul and I went for our weekly walk in the park. This Sunday, I’ll be having belated birthday cake.
  3. 3. What’s something you fudged this past week? Not much–probably just some typos at work and little things like that. Nothing major.
  4. 4. What was this week’s most interesting scoop? That Paul’s sister Julianne’s boyfriend now refuses to go into their house because he can’t stand their mother.
  5. 5. What was the cherry on top of your good or bad week? Bad week, and it was that pesky overtime. I’m supposed to get out of work at 3, but I think I left late every day but like one. Fortunately, today was only an extra 20 minutes, but there were some days where I was pushing an extra two-plus hours. At least that overtime pay is good. I have bills to pay.

I’m 25 Now!

So, yesterday was my birthday. I am 25. Despite being surrounded by people who either just turned 25 or will soon and are freaking out about it, I give no shits. Bring it on, 25!

Paul came over as usual Friday night and presented me with a really pretty gift basket he put together himself full of candy, bath products, Firefly on DVD, a bottle of wine, and a white gold and diamond necklace shaped like a cute, little dog. So we ordered pizza, drank some of the wine, watched some Netflix, and went to sleep.

I celebrated my actual birthday by first dropping off what I’m sure was enough recycling to end global warming. And then I found out that to park at the casino, where I wanted to go to gamble, you had to pay $60 cash due to a concert later than night right next to it. Had I known that, I would’ve come up with an emergency plan B, but instead I had to go to PNC and bitched up a storm about the parking. The good news is you were reimbursed if you earned enough points on your player’s card, and the only downside there was everyone was losing and ready to eat lunch when I still needed 100 more points to get there, which is kind of a good thing because it meant I wasn’t losing all my money. In fact, I had an okay day at the slots, and since it was my birthday, I got a free tote bag and a coupon for a free buffet good for the next month. Guess where I’ll be heading for a date night?

I was conflicted over where to eat–as much as I love the casino buffet, we’re all getting kind of tired of it, and I didn’t want to try something new and risk not liking it when it was a birthday meal. Plus I wanted to get the hell away from the North Shore before the damn concert started, especially since tailgaters were already showing up at 11 in the morning. So we went over to the South Side instead and went to Cheesecake Factory, then did a little bit of shopping. I managed to find a little something for Meri’s birthday already.

As for my presents, Mom’s tackling my Etsy favorites and got me some cute hand soaps, galaxy tights, and shorts. Brandon got me a new makeup case.

Paul and I were tasked with making cookies for Josh’s graduation party next weekend, so we had to gather baking supplies on our way back since I clearly have almost none. And for a little bit, it was looking like this would be a rough spot in our relationship as Paul is very particular about what he uses to bake with, but it ended up being okay, and the cookies turned out really well after some trial and error with my oven.

I declare my 25th birthday a great success!

Friday Five: Gatterstories

What random letter was generated by the online random-letter generator (this doesn’t really count as one of your five questions)? W. Ugh.

  1. 1. What article of clothing, whose name begins with the letter, have you never worn? Wedding dress. Obviously, it’s not an article I own–and a quick scan of my closet didn’t give me any insight on items starting with “w” I haven’t worn–but I’ve never been married and therefore have never worn a wedding dress.
  2. 2. What book, whose title begins with the letter, are you looking forward to reading? Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
  3. 3. What mode of transportation, whose name begins with the letter, seems like it would be fun? Wagon. I also know this from experience because my parents used to cart Brandon and I around in one when we went to the zoo. Perfect solution to tired kids who are too old for strollers or being carried.
  4. 4. What form of exercise, whose name begins with the letter, have you recently engaged in? Walking. I try to go for a nice, long walk once a week.
  5. 5. What fictional character, whose name begins with the letter, would be good company on a long trip? Wash from Firefly. He’s funny and charming. He’s also probably my favorite character on the show, which of course means he didn’t survive it.

Booking Through Thursday: Format

All other things being equal, what is your favorite format for reading? Hardcover? Paperback? New book? Old book? Leather-bound first edition? E-book?

My only real preference is for a physical book of some kind–I’m not a fan of e-books personally because I don’t trust technology to not break or malfunction, plus I like having shelves packed with books. I did used to be kind of a non-e-book purist, but there really are plenty of good things about e-books and there’s not good reason to go rejecting technology just for the sake of doing so.

I have a slight preference for paperbacks, since they’re smaller and easier to handle, but I’m not the type to wait for a book to be released in that format before I buy it. I do appreciate a good hardcover for their durability.

Which brings me to another slight preference for a new book, but even then it’s more like a book that hasn’t been beaten to hell or written in.

 

In Which Pittsburgh Traffic Hits a New, Infuriating Low

First off, a recap of my life the past few weeks: work, walks in the park, hanging out around Washington.

Now, last night, I went to see Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and Leah, Terra, Brandon, and old middle-school classmate Levi tagged along. Rachael was supposed to go but ended up not being able to, and I feel kind of bad because this is the second time she’s missed out on a show she was supposed to attend with me. But Levi took her ticket. I didn’t exactly think an extra Ben Folds ticket would be hard to get rid of, and I was right.

So, I’m a stickler for recycling, even though my apartment doesn’t provide it and there’s no convenient places to drop it off near my apartment or work. There’s one place on back roads between the two that lengthens my commute, so if I’m in the area or desperately need to clean the shit out, I do take it there. But they recently put up this nice, big sign saying it’s for residents of that township only, and I am not a resident of that township. So I’m trying to avoid it.

Fortunately, there’s a place in Pittsburgh I can take it, and I try to leave early whenever I go into the city to get it there, even though it’s often out of the way and traffic ruins my life. There’s been many a time where we’ve had to ditch the recycling drop-off plan because of traffic, and last night was one of those nights. Fine. It blows, but I’ll be back to gamble on my birthday Saturday and can take a big haul then. But the traffic didn’t end there.

Let me be clear–I left my apartment over two hours before Ben Folds was supposed to start playing. This would normally be plenty of time to drop off recycling, get Terra, and make it to the theater with time to spare. In fact, I thought we’d be killing time before the show. Instead, Brandon and I quickly realized on the way to Terra’s that recycling wasn’t gonna happen. And then as we kept sitting in completely stopped traffic, it started to look like we wouldn’t be getting to Terra’s until 7, which is when I had planned to be at the theater. I like aiming to get there early, and this entire night is one of the reasons why–not that it made a damn difference this time.

We looked up alternate routes to Terra’s in traffic but none were helpful, so we had to stick it out. We made up some time and things were looking up.

Then Leah calls and says they had trouble finding parking–despite the fact that the theater’s general area has probably four or five lots and garages–and they ended up a few blocks away, which isn’t a bad hike, but it’s a huge pain in the ass when you’re running late and you know that if not for whatever chaos has befallen the city, you’d be parked next door.

So I did still scope out the parking situation, but it became a very desperate “we’re going to the first one we see” situation. Which basically landed us across the street from where Leah parked.

Apparently, Pittsburgh was hugely busy last night–in addition to Ben Folds, there was a Pirate game, an Arctic Monkeys concert, and a musical at the Benedum. And we passed every single one of those things on our way to Ben Folds, which meant not just traffic but hoards of pedestrians so large that even when lights turned green, the cars were stuck. We sat at two or three lights for about four or five turns each because things were so congested that only one or two cars could make it through at a time. At 7:30–showtime–we were sitting in my car in traffic right in front of the theater. By the time we made it a few blocks down the street, hiked it to the theater, sorted out the ticket situation because I wasn’t sure if Leah had picked them all up or left ours at the door, then got seated, we’d missed approximately 40 minutes of the concert. Now, I’m not sure if he started on time and from the sounds of it, we only missed three, maybe 3 1/2 or four songs (although one was “Effington,” one of my favorites), but it’s still incredibly frustrating. I was even using my Pittsburgh app that helps you find available parking, but the garages it was telling me were open were only open to people with leases. So thanks for nothing.

The good news is Ben Folds played for about another two hours, so in the grand scheme of things, we only missed a small chunk, but it was a chunk nonetheless. But I did hear my other major favorites: “Zak and Sara,” “Annie Waits,” “Not the Same,” and encore of “Narcolepsy,” love song that keeps growing on me “The Luckiest,” and a killer “Rock This Bitch.” For those who aren’t Folds fans, “Rock This Bitch” is this live tradition where if someone yells, “Rock this bitch!” he’ll make up a song on the spot. Last time I saw him with the symphony, it was a section of the show where he played by himself, so he did this very dramatic, dark song about climbing down Mt. Washington. This time, though, he involved the entire symphony and created this epic, really good song–this time about a scary cab with a driver who played clarinet while driving.

If you’re a Ben Folds fan, I highly recommend checking out one of his symphony shows. The environment (and ticket price) are a lot different than the usual club shows, but the skill and the beauty of hearing the songs adapted for a symphony is fantastic. “Narcolespy” is one of the most gorgeous examples, as is “Not the Same,” complete with the audience as a choir, while “Zak and Sara” is pure fun and “Rock This Bitch” is impressive. It’s well-worth it, trust me.

We ended the night with Mad Mex and my early birthday presents from Terra, which were some little metal stamps that say “As you wish” and “Stay shiny,” plus a little shirt with a penguin on it, handmade earrings, and Wizard of Oz duct tape that’s surprisingly adorable.

And because I can’t have a simple night, I was met with more parking woes when I got home–my lot was full of people who don’t live here and I was forced to park at the Methodist church next door. I don’t have to resort to that often–it was normally when a snow storm was coming up and I knew I’d get stuck in my own lot–but it’s happened enough that I almost feel like I should slip them a thank-you note and a check.

Today, I took the day off to sleep in after what I knew would be a late night. I’ve been in bed for most of it.

Friday Five: Shppng

  1. 1. Roughly how many plastic shopping bags do you think are in your house right now, and which store is represented most by them? God, I don’t even want to think about it. Probably around 100, maybe more, most likely mostly from grocery stores.
  2. 2. Roughly how many gift cards do you possess, and about how much are they worth in sum? I’d say five at most. I know I have a couple for restaurants, plus one for the liquor store I keep forgetting about and one I just got from credit-card reward points for Barnes & Noble. They’re probably worth $100 altogether, but that’s a high estimate.
  3. 3. What’s an aisle at your favorite grocery store or drugstore that you pretty much never walk down? The pet and baby aisles. I have neither, although I do occasionally by cat food for the local stray.
  4. 4. When you shop for groceries, are you most likely to grab a shopping cart or a shopping basket? How often do you grab neither? I almost always grab a cart unless I’m only there for one or two things, then I don’t bother with either. I’ll probably transition over to a cart later in the summer when the farm stands open up–and I need to remember to visit the local farmer’s market–because then I end up splitting my groceries 50/50 between the store and fresh, local produce.
  5. 5. What was the last thing you purchased just in case? Tampons. Although that’s not so much a “just in case” as it as an inevitable need, but I bought them way sooner than I knew I’d need them because that’s something you don’t want to be caught without. Sure, I have some pads left over from my pre-tampon days, but tampons are so, so much better.