Friday Five: Interruptions

  1. How regularly do you get interrupted at work, and how well do you handle it? Semi-regularly–my coworkers and I have a lot of fun e-mailing each other about what we’re working on. I generally welcome it because it’s usually an entertaining distraction, but if it’s the end of the day or I’m working late, I get annoyed, especially if it’s someone I don’t like as much.
  2. What was the occasion the last time a TV program you were watching was interrupted by breaking news? I’m not sure because I don’t have cable, so the only time I watch proper TV is usually at my parents’ house. And the last time I remember seeing a major news report–although I’m sure I have seen some since–was when we got Bin Laden. And I think we had the TV ready and waiting for Obama’s announcement anyway, so that doesn’t really count as an interruption.
  3. Whose flow did you most recently interrupt, and what was so important? Hmm. I have no idea. My best guess would be those work e-mails, and it was most likely not important at all.
  4. How easily does your train of thought get interrupted? Generally, not very easily–I can usually stay pretty focused and if something derails, I can circle back. Paul’s good for trying to change the conversation slowly and subtly if he doesn’t want to talk about something, and I’m really good at not falling for that trick and letting it happen. All that said, I absolutely have my moments of forgetting what my point was mid-sentence.
  5. What’s something in your life that could use some interrupting? My laziness. Ha.

Friday Five: Inflation

1. What are your thoughts on balloons? They’re nice and fun, but I guess I don’t care much. I used to like to get them at this stand in the mall when I was little, though. They tend to generate static, which makes its way to my hair.
2. What has anyone said recently to inflate your ego? Things have been going really well with the writing group I meet with, and their response to my pieces is generally very positive. This last one, about when we went to see Bill Clinton in college, was declared a favorite by one of the others. It’s currently out waiting on a verdict for publication.
3. What’s something that recently let the wind out of your sails? My mom advising me not to wear a certain dress out dancing because if it’s short–and my ass is big enough that many dresses are–I could attract “the wrong attention.” Sigh. That’s not how rape works, Mom. I’m wearing the dress.
4. What inflatable items do you have in your home? I don’t think I have any! I used to have an inflatable chair, though, that was clear and filled with foam smiley faces.
5. Besides gasoline (because we’re all pleasantly surprised by that), what’s something whose price has been a surprise? Let’s just talk about those gas prices for a second, though–it’s down to $2.19 here. It’s been steadily dropping by one or two cents every day or so for a couple months now. It’s dropped over a dollar total. The difference now means that even though I drive a small car, the cost of filling up my tank has gone from one of my bigger expenses to a pretty minor one, around where it was when Brandon and I used to take this car into the city in college and I could put 10 bucks in the tank to be a good daughter and it would get half a tank, which was more gas than the trip even used. But as for a surprise expense, definitely my gas bill. Damn Major Energy got me in a deal last year where based on my usage, I qualified for a discount. Well, that must’ve just been temporary because my gas bill is now double what it used to be, and I’m trying to get in touch with people to see what I have to do to switch back to my original provider, since Major Energy’s website is useless.

I know some people don’t like gift cards–Paul’s mom once threw a fit over them being impersonal gifts, and my mom feels the same but is at least willing to include them among other gifts–but seriously, it’s so nice to go out and not spend any money.

Paul’s aunts and uncles got us a few gift cards, although they were for places we don’t normally go. It had that vibe of “I want/have to get you something but I’m just not gonna worry about whether or not you’ll like or need it,” which was a bummer, but it was also an excuse to go places we wouldn’t normally without really having to pay for it. Like Panera Bread. We like Panera, but we think it’s overpriced. But does that matter when you’re using a gift card? Not much.

So we went there the weekend after New Year’s for breakfast one morning (then a week or so alter for lunch), then went to see Into the Woods.

Now, I had friends in high school who really loved the original musical, although I somehow never did get around to see it or listening to it. And there was a bit of online buzz about it, so I had high hopes, but I ended up being kind of let down. I enjoyed the movie, but I just don’t think it lived up to its hype. But maybe that has more to do with the natural stage-to-screen translation, where things are cut or changed or left out. I get the sense I’d enjoy the musical much more.

Paul was a little more critical and a little less forgiving, as is his nature.

And then snow rolled in for the early part of the week, and Pennsylvania did that thing it does every winter where everyone forgets how winter works, including the people who are supposed to be treating the roads. Because road-treating didn’t happen. So much for the New Year’s resolution of being slightly less late for work every day.

I’m losing track of what I did and when.

Paul and I went to Terra’s brother and sister-in-law’s place for New Year’s, where we got to meet and hang out with their new baby, who is the cutest baby all over my Facebook feed right now. Seriously. Adequate amount of chub, huge eyes, unruly dark hair, and wonderful, melodramatic facial expressions. She’s the cutest.

It was about as exciting a New Year’s as you’d expect from a baby and working adults–every single one of us was tired and ready to go home by like 10. We whined numerous times about New Year’s having to be so late at night, and when it finally did come, none of us stuck around much longer. Paul and I drove Terra there and back, and by the time we came back to my place, we’d both been awake going on 20+ hours thanks to our early wake-ups.  He fell asleep in the car and passed right back out again in my bed before I even got my pajamas on.

My dad’s birthday is December 30, so we celebrated a tad late with a trip to the casino just minutes away from my apartment. It’s a good thing I’m good at resisting the gambling urge, because that would be dangerous otherwise. But I had a good day of gambling–I actually came out a little bit ahead, and even if I hadn’t, the casino was running a special for new members where you got whatever you lost back in free slot play.

My family’s casino loyalties have been splitting lately–Brandon and Kelly are big fans of Lady Luck up in the mountains, but I think the owner of it is a raging dick so I refuse to play there, even though I’ve been told he doesn’t profit from it somehow. My issue is a family friend’s son was killed in a drunk-driving accident a few years ago when he was in high school, and the owner’s daughter was in the car. Now, there are rumors that because of who her dad is, her care was prioritized, but that’s never been substantiated. What really gets me is that the alcohol allegedly came from a little house she had on the resort property at like 16. Now, I can’t judge the girl for drinking underage and having a party, and I won’t. The issue has more to do with the fact that this continued after the accident, leading the boy’s parents to feel that she hadn’t learned her lesson, leading them to sue over the accident. And this is probably more the dad’s lawyers than him personally, but it’s such an epic dick move that I just can’t spend my money at his businesses–they countersued, saying the death was his parents’ fault because of bad parenting, basically, since he did what teenagers do and lied about where he was to drink at a party. Because, you know, parents are in total control of their teenagers at all times, especially in the senior year when they’re very nearly expected to take on more adult roles in their lives.


My family doesn’t like Rivers in Pittsburgh, either, because they all lose there. I don’t, probably because I play the same games over and over again. I leave without spending everything I had to gamble away.

Our outcomes at the Meadows seemed to be split, although I don’t think anyone lost major.

For my dad’s birthday celebration, we ate at the casino’s steakhouse. I got by with sides and seafood, but it was all really good. It was way, way out of Paul’s dining league–he’s used to being given a price limit on family dinners out, but my parents are fortunately able to do things like that and include Paul and Kelly both without much second thought. My mom’s reasoning is she’d rather do these things while she knows she can afford to, which is fair.

Friday Five: Home Is Where the Hearth Is

  1. What is your approach to dealing with (or preventing) clutter? So, I’m not the best at this, but part of it has to do with lack of time. But I try to handle things in small, simple chunks. In terms of things like closets and clothes, I try to weed things out that don’t fit or that I don’t like/wear anymore–if I go in my closet and spot an item, it goes out and goes into a pile for either donation or selling if I think it’s nice and worth a little bit of money.
  2. What kinds of (tangible) things do you seem to have an unreasonable time letting go of? Anything given to me as a gift–I always feel guilty getting rid of something that someone spent their money on for me and that they put some thought into getting, even if the thought was pretty obviously, “I want to get Janelle a present but I’m not too concerned about what she actually wants or needs.” So I tend to hold on to gifts I don’t like, want, or need longer than I should because I feel bad. They make their way out eventually, but it might take a couple years before I can finally say, “Okay, this has to go.”
  3. If you could start completely over with your existing living space (and money were only a slight limitation), how would you make it more suited to you and your lifestyle? I might just spend a little more time and effort using organizational and design tips. It’s tough because I rent, so there’s not much I could even do. It would be more a matter of what I can add that’s not permanent and won’t lost me my deposit–not that I expect to get that back, renting from a company run by sheisters and all.
  4. How many standalone small kitchen appliances do you own, and how many do you use regularly? I think about five–microwave, toaster oven, popcorn maker, Keurig, and mixer/blender combo. I use the microwave and toaster oven the most. The rest are pretty rare, although the Keurig would come in second.
  5. What does your current living space really need more of? Shelving and counter space. I am so desperate for counter space. Cooking/prep is such a hassle because I have no real space to do it–I have to squeeze in front of the microwave. The cabinets aren’t the best, either, although not because they’re lacking in number. It’s more like there are too many up higher than I can reach, so I don’t like to use them to store things I’ll need semi-regularly if it’s gonna require me climbing shit to get to it and put it away.

Booking Through Thursday: Author

If you were going to write a book, what kind of book would it be? (And if you’re an author already, what kind of book would you LIKE to write that you haven’t written yet?)

So, I do write, although I haven’t had a book published (yet!). But I mostly write memoir/creative nonfiction, although my nonfiction doesn’t get too creative in terms of artistic/truth liberties. So first and foremost, I’d like to publish something like an essay collection–think David Sedaris, but not as good (some day…). Or even Augusten Burroughs or Sloan Crosley. And I do dabble in literary/realistic fiction, although I rarely get ideas, so maybe one day something with that. I’ve even toyed with the idea of a fictionalized account of my falling out with the Craigs, which I’ve also written about in memoir/essay form, but it’s messy, has bene rejected a couple times, and needs some hard work after a chat with Paul about how to improve it. My writing group has suggested with other things fictionalized versions of other essays as an experiment.

Rarer still are my ideas for fantasy, sci-fi, or horror, but they do happen, and I’d like to see those through, too. The problem is they get put on the back burner because they’re far more work-intensive and all I have so far are a few scenes and snippets.

But while we’re talking about my writing, I do have a lot of smaller journalistic pieces floating around–unfortunately, I didn’t save everything from Pop Damage before the site closed and all of my Herald-Standard work is so old that it’s archived and no longer available online, but there’s still my past work for Inyourspeakers (the link to my profile/all my articles in one spot no longer works since, you know, I’m not on staff anymore) and my current work for Examiner (please subscribe!) and AXS. Pageviews impact my pay for both, so, you know…

Friday Five: Song Stuff

  1. What’s a song that reminds you of your parents? With my parents, both as a couple and individually, it’s hard to nail down just one song–artists or maybe even albums would be the better route because of their different tastes, mostly. My dad’s classic rock like Journey (especially) or Foreigner, Rush, or REO Speedwagon–and maybe Rush and REO Speedwagon especially since they’re bands my mom and I don’t like. As for my mom, Prince and Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks are her big ones. If I could narrow down a song for my mom, it would either be one of Stevie Nicks’ solo hits, like “Edge of Seventeen,” or my mom’s slower Fleetwood Mac favorites, like “Gypsy” or “Sara.”
  2. What’s a song that makes you think of food? “Meat Is Murder” by The Smiths, since I’m a vegetarian, although I don’t really share most of Morrissey’s strong opinions on that or any other issue.
  3. What’s a memorable song from a movie soundtrack? I really, really love soundtracks–including musicals, so this is hard to pin down, too. And I have my iTunes on shuffle right now, which isn’t helping. It just played songs from Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia back to back, which isn’t helped by the fact that I really, really love the music and artists who inspired those movies/musicals. And then it went to Moulin Rouge. So we’ll leave it at that.
  4. What was your favorite song from 2014? First of all, I’m probably not gonna pick just one, but I’ll do better than my cop-out answers above. Second, I have more music from 2014 in my collection than I thought I did, so good job, 2014! So, major standouts: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me! and while we’re at it, the album of the same name was so fucking great and is probably my favorite of the year. Pretty much every other song on it would be a runner-up for this question. Bleachers’ Strange Desire was also great, with “I Wanna Get Better” especially. Then there was the Kickstarter album Sugar House by Midas Whale with “Before I Leave” and “Rise and Shine.”
  5. What are your favorite songs for when you’re behind the wheel? You know, I know there are songs I’ve declared to be “good driving songs,” but I can’t remember any offhand, plus I don’t have any go-to music for when I’m driving. When I am, I either scroll through the radio or–gasp!–go the old-fashioned way and put a CD in. So lately, my driving music has been the few top-40 songs I like, which is mostly Meghan Trainor or Taylor Swift, or the local classical station, NPR, Or Paul McCartney’s Good Evening, New York City.

Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?

I do! And I think it’s super important to do. It’s much easier than buying more shelves and trying to find space for all of them, too.

So, I try to read everything at least twice so I can really get to know it and get an informed opinion on it, unless I really, really hate it on first reading–I’m looking at you, Fountainhead and 50 Shades of Grey. Lately, the only books I’ve weeded out have been those ones, plus Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Read it twice and still wasn’t into it the second time around, so I passed it on to Paul to read eventually then do as he wishes.

For the most part, I sell whatever I weed out because I could use the extra money.

In the holiday aftermath, there was still some fun to be had–Paul and I didn’t exchange gifts until the weekend. He got me some of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, a new Xbox controller (which is as much a gift for him since he plays Skyrim on my nice, new TV now), and Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking since he apparently forgot I preordered a signed copy months ago. But we just decided to go exchange it after dinner.

Dinner was Primanti Bros., as it so often is lately with him living so close to it. It’s relatively cheap, it’s nearby, and it’s good, filling food–although we should probably try to branch out more, especially living practically downtown with so many food options.

I exchanged the book and took advantage of a buy two, get a third for free deal at the time and replaced my long-lost copy of Into the Wild, plus picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Saturday, we headed over to my parents’ to pick up one of my favorite grown-up gifts–a fireproof filing cabinet/safe that was a little too big and awkward for me to haul home on my own after Christmas. And then from there, we went to a party at Leah’s.

She’d told me from the start that it was gonna be a lot of kids from our graduating class, which worried me at first–I know who still lives nearby, and they’re mostly people I don’t want to spend my time with. But I forgot that it’s the holidays and most of the out-of-towners are home, so it ended up being a pretty good, big group of people, including Tessa and Marion. I obviously haven’t seen Marion in a long time, so that was nice. And Paul got nice and drunk and had himself a good time and we got annihilated at beer pong when Marion volunteered us to play, and both of those things are to be expected. I was happy we at least got a few balls in and didn’t get shut out.

I think most of the rest of the weekend was pretty lazy–we’ve had a few random warm days here and there, so we’ve taken advantage of those to go for nice, long walks. I do know our last one was about four miles long, so that’s nice. We also squeezed in a Hofbrauhaus triple date with us, Brandon and Kelly, and Jacob and Katie, which was fun. The four of them also went over to Phipps conservatory afterward, which I had to miss due to my final Inyourspeakers call, but my resignation is a tale for another day.

In the meantime, I warmed up to his gecko, Eddy. Or more like she warmed up on me. Paul’s been trying hard to get me to hold her, especially since he moved out and takes her out on occasion, and I’ve been a little too freaked out still because, you know, she’s not a puppy. Touching a cold, scaly animal is weird for me, and part of my apprehension was that she made me nervous enough that I wasn’t sure how I’d react, so I was afraid I’d make a sudden move and hurt her accidentally. And I did accurately predict that her little gecko claws would hurt, but I did handle her climbing all over me like a champ. She’s pretty cute, now that I’m used to her. She even climbed up on me while I was lying down and warmed her tummy on my tummy.

My mom just made of fun me and said it’s good that Eddy and I are bonding.

Friday Five: Beside Ourselves

  1. Besides cookies, muffins, and ice cream, what’s something chocolate chips are good in? Cheesecake dip! And pancakes.
  2. Besides official holidays and your birthday, what’s the best day of the year? The first time in spring when the weather gets really, officially nice. I don’t mean that one cock tease of a day where it’s sunny and unseasonably warm but sandwiched between days of bitter cold and snow–I mean that official turning point where you know the snow’s gone.
  3. Besides toilet paper and pantry items, what’s something in your house you make sure never to run out of? Feminine products of some sort–generally, tampons, but I can deal if I’m down to the stock of pads I had from before I started using tampons. Makeup removing wipes because they’re the best for removing makeup and I refuse to go to bed without taking it off–if I have to wing it, fine, but my wipes are the best. I don’t think I’ve slept in makeup since maybe high school. And I absolutely never run out of contact solution. That’s the one thing that would be really shitty to run out of. On that note, I try not to run out of actual lenses, either, because I hate wearing my glasses to work. Thick frames and large headphones don’t mix well.
  4. Besides relatives, teachers, and coaches, who gave you the most memorable advice growing up? I honestly don’t know, because those are the only people I can think of that would’ve been giving me advice. I definitely don’t remember getting any from friends. But I did watch a lot of X-Files in my preteen years and pretty much ever since, so Scully is my role model.
  5. Besides junk mail, subscriptions, greeting cards, and stuff you ordered online, what’s something great that came in the mail recently? So, they’re greeting cards, but Christmas cards from friends! I need to get on it and send some next year. I’m also a fan of getting coupons in the mail. And rewards from my credit-card points–I just got a Best Buy gift card I put toward a new charger for my computer, and I have another one coming I was hoping to use for it, too, but my old cord didn’t make it, so instead, I’m probably gonna put that toward one of Mac’s Time Machines.