I’ve ended another long weekend, yet again in an attempt to use up as many vacation days as possible before I lose them in February. I doubt I’ll get down to the one week I’m allowed to carry over–there are just too many days and I started taking them liberally too late. What a first-world problem to have.

Paul came over Friday night and we ventured out briefly for beer and milk. I picked up a gift card for him not-so-secretly while we were out. One of my goals for his Christmas present is to get him a bunch of small gift cards for both places he regularly spends money on necessities and some for fun stuff. I’d like to try to get him a Visa one, too, to use anywhere he wants. It’s Operation Save Paul money, since they cut his overtime until now and money’s been tight. Like every Christmas we’ve been together, I’m in a better financial position and thus buy him more than he buys me, which makes him feel bad no matter what I say or do, and in that sense, Operation Save Paul money is going to backfire–he’s gonna be able to see how much money I spent on gift cards, and even though he’ll be grateful for the help and he’ll accept it since it’s a Christmas gift, he won’t be happy. That said, I told him he can buy me presents after Christmas when his overtime paychecks come in. Of course, the “you don’t have to get me anything” line never flies.

I went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra Saturday afternoon with my parents and Kimmie and Joey, and it was a cool show, as always. It helped it feel more like Christmas. I also lost four Instagram followers after a TSO photo-posting binge, which I can understand might be annoying, but it’s also annoying to know some acquaintances would rather see food, cats, and selfies than actual stuff happening. At the same time, it is a nice, easy way to weed people out of social media. Social media has this way of enabling people to linger in our lives longer than they probably should.

After the concert, we ate across the street at the Steelhead, a restaurant in the lobby of the Marriott, which was really good.

Meanwhile, Paul was back at my apartment–sort of. Jacob was due in at the airport that night, so Paul was hanging out while I was out, as he didn’t want to see TSO. Jacob’s first flight was delayed, leading him to miss his second, so Paul hung out with me an extra night. While I was gone, he ventured out and ran into his friend Marc and his girlfriend, so he went out to dinner with them then played Skyrim on my fancy new TV until I came home.

The writers’ group from work met up again Sunday, though a little smaller in number. It went well once again and I really enjoy it and look forward to going in the future. They simultaneously boost my writing ego and give me constructive criticism–and they’re pretty great at giving constructive criticism. We even discussed what we like as readers versus what we like as writers. I did a little Christmas and grocery shopping before I headed home.

Monday brought another annual Christmas concert–B.E. Taylor, who I think just gets better every year. I’m hoping to write full, proper reviews of him and TSO over the weekend for AXS. I dropped off recycling on my way, got stuck in traffic because of buses and probably pedestrians and shitty Pittsburgh drivers, and was late for dinner. But this is also why you plan to eat two hours before your show starts.

And yesterday, I went over to see Meri, as she’s in town from El Paso for the next couple of days. Since I had the day off and I’m sure we’ll both be busy between now and when she heads back Thursday night, I wanted to take the opportunity to see her while I knew I could squeeze it in easily. So my mom and I both went over and had a delicious Polish dinner. Nolan was in, too, and I think it was the first time I’ve seen him since Stephanie’s wedding. We didn’t talk much, but things went well, it was nice, and we hugged at the end of the night.

And then I had trouble sleeping because I had a stupid dream about, like, a college/work hybrid involving people I don’t know and circumstances that don’t make any sense.

I’m hoping to but not counting on seeing Meri again before she goes home. This is why living an hour away from everything but your job and the city is a pain in the ass–it’s easier for everyone else to hang out, but I have to worry about getting home because of work at 7:00 the next morning.

The good news is Sarah’s having a Christmas party Saturday night. Same night as our Nutcracker tickets, but I’ll at least be able to make an appearance, even if everyone will probably be drunk by then and won’t even remember said appearance.

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