In the days after our State College trip, I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold or something. I blame the combination of a weird sleep schedule plus lack of sleep plus sitting out in the cold. Most of the weekend was unseasonably warm, but Saturday night got pretty uncomfortable, especially for being outside.

So I called in sick this past Thursday. And apparently, I missed the celebratory end-of-project meeting–I was thinking it would be another pain in the ass meeting, not the end of the hassle with a free, catered lunch. I don’t always end up missing fun stuff when I call in sick, but when I do…

It was gonna be either that or Friday. Part of the deal was I felt a cough coming on, and I didn’t want to be hacking and sniffling all through a meeting. And the tradeoff is after Paul left for work just before 7, I went back to sleep–for another four hours. And by the time I got up and went in Friday, I felt a lot better and whatever I was getting was gone.

Life with Paul here, by the way, has been pretty good. We’ve had a few minor issues, like the sheer number of dishes in the sink and his cleaning/decluttering methods. My parents brought Duke over to switch cars now that my window finally got fixed, and Paul’s version of cleaning for parental visits is taking everything he can and stashing it out of sight in my bedroom, like my parents are gonna be offended by the sight of a box of soaps on my bathroom counter or my hamper. It’s this method of cleaning that creates the illusion that the space isn’t lived in or occupied by humans who own things, really.

He’s also a fan of talking when we’re in bed, which would be fine if it wasn’t keeping us up later than we should be up, considering we both work at 7.

Duke’s visit, though, was fun. He is very confused by my apartment and was barking a bit, although he settled down when we brought back takeout from the Upper Crust. And shortly after he’d been barking, I got a knock on my door.

I was expecting it to be a neighbor or management coming to bitch about Duke being in here, since no pets are allowed in the apartment. Turns out it was my neighbor who thought he’d broken his leg and needed me to go flag down the paramedics he’d called.

So Paul and I found them, saw him off, told him to let us know if he needed anything, and he went on his way in an ambulance. We haven’t heard from him since, so I’m assuming he’s okay.

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On our final day in State College, Ryun and Nick got up semi-early and headed out, since Ryun had to be at work. And Paul and I intended to follow, but we ended up sitting with Katie and helping her procrastinate on a paper by talking literally all morning.

In fact, Katie and I–and Paul, too, to a lesser extent–got lots of talking in. Katie continued to inform Nick and I about food issues (organic is almost always a waste of money and the anti-GMO movement is bullshit), plus she and I talked about Paul’s mom and compared Jacob and Paul’s mannerisms and behavior and tackled other important subjects like what we expect if/when we all get married and have kids and how we should/plan to handle Paul’s mom. Which is to say we plan on taking no shit, and we’ll have to make that clear early if any of us are to make it out relatively sane.

When Paul and I finally did get going, we hadn’t eaten all day and decided to stop in at Green Bowl, my favorite. I had all this grand plans for eating out at all our favorite restaurants, but between tailgates and bar crawls, it turned out that I never had the time. So Green Bowl was the only restaurant out of maybe five that we managed to hit, but since we didn’t get to it last time, I was okay with that.

I’d also wanted to walk downtown and shop, but my feet and legs were about dead from all the walking earlier in the weekend. In fact, Paul noted while he gave me a little foot rub that my feet actually looked like they might’ve been a little swollen. We did pop into one store we’d never noticed before while we were on our way back to the car, but that was it. We set off for home after that and attempted to make up for the sleep we lost, which I’m not sure I accomplished until I called in sick later in the week.

When Ryun (and by extension, Paul) first brought up the trip to State College last weekend, my one demand was that I go out for Record Store Day. I missed it last year because I had to work, and I enjoy it so much that I didn’t want to miss it again. So I checked the list, found State College’s one participating store, and tried to scope it out while we were drinking Friday night. Turns out I missed it at least two or three times thanks to it not having any type of sign or awning–just a little paper in a door indicating it exists, which isn’t easy to see at night whilst drinking.

But early Saturday morning, I wasn’t feeling so well. I wasn’t sleeping so well, either, and I wonder if the lack of sleep contributing to not feeling well. It was at the point that I was questioning my plan for Record Store Day, which was to get in line around 10–two hours before the store opened. But whatever. Got to secure my spot and therefore my loot. And yeah, all of our friends did think I was nuts, but they just let me have at it, which I appreciated. I don’t mind people questioning lining up at a record store two hours early when they wish me luck, too.

I dragged Paul with me, of course, and we got lost at first, but we secured our spot in line and actually had a good time hanging out talking about music, movies, and books with our fellow RSD hipsters–two of whom coincidentally were from Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, being Blue & White weekend and therefore more football-focused, we got lots of confused looks from what I assume were middle-aged alumni and beer-toting frat bros.

In Pittsburgh, I got to Dave’s Music Mine on the South Side for Record Store Day, and Dave lets you come in and get what you want but limits you to one copy per record. At The Music Underground in State College, you get one RSD purchase then have to get back in line, which I admit is more fair. I guess which system is preferable depends on which store I’m shopping in and how many people are ahead of me in line. But I did cheat the system just a tad–since Paul was strictly there to keep me company (and drive me there), I assigned him the task of picking up a second record for me. So I make out with the Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Rocky Horror records. There were others that I wanted, but those were my main desires, and I decided to just head out and not try my luck in line a second time. Besides, the line was long by the time those two hours had passed. I am bummed that the store didn’t have the Erasure or Dresden Dolls releases, though, and I ought to check and see if Dave’s Music Mine has posted anything about leftovers so I can stop in and claim them, should they be there. But I doubt it.

I also grabbed a non-RSD-exclusive copy of Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More.

New records in hand, we stopped at Rita’s since we hadn’t really eaten and we were headed to a tailgate at the Meats Lab next, where I expected they’d just laugh me out ofState College for asking for vegetarian foods, so I planned ahead. We made it back to Katie’s apartment just in time to catch the bus across the street and actually beat the rest of our group down and took a very crowded bus to a very crowded stadium, then walked to a more laid-back tailgate. We hung out with their friend Nelson, who’s known Paul since they were kids. And with Nelson was our guide, he urged us to partake in any foods and alcohol–including a very smooth batch of apple-pie moonshine from North Carolina–but some other tailgaters were not so keen on us drinking alcohol when we didn’t supply any alcohol. Which I get, but I also believe in hospitality and not being a dick about friends of friends hanging out with you.

And they did have vegetarian-friendly foods. Bless spring and summer picnic foods like various potato and pasta salads.

Funnily enough, though, we ended up going to dinner after the game and tailgate. We hit Herwig’s, an Austrian bistro in town, that was pretty great–think Hofbrauhaus but family-owned. I was gonna stick to something like a salad because I wasn’t too hungry and wanted something light from the unseasonably warm day, but Katie decided she was getting apple strudel and I knew as soon as I saw it, I’d regret not doing the same, so I got it, too. And it was pretty great. Served with what had to be homemade whipped cream.

And then it was off for a second night of bar crawls. I was hoping for a shorter trek, since after the night before my little legs and feet were sore–not to mention all the walking to get to the game and then to Herwig’s–but we were looking for bars with cheap cover charges. So we settled on Zeno’s, which I think is my favorite bar in State College. We discovered such gems as their signature cocktails (I highly recommend Space Herpes) and some raspberry beer.

Now, at this point, Paul had had two beers at Herwig’s since it was BYOB and Nick grabbed a sick-pack, then he was four deep at Zeno’s, plus a few he’d had earlier at the tailgate–although I’ll grant that the tailgate was over the span of a few hours. So when we set off for Indigo again, Katie warned Paul and Nick, both already drunk, that they had to be careful or they wouldn’t get in.

I get annoyed with Paul when he’s drunk. It’s not that he’s belligerent or rude or anything, it’s just that his drunk behavior is so drastically different from his normally calm demeanor that I just don’t like who he is drunk. Plus I think he gets a little inattentive and difficult and immature, almost what you’d expect from a barely legal college kid and not a 24-year-old with his own place and a grown-up job. I’ve been saying for years that in some ways, because of his sheltered upbringing, he’s a stage behind–he did things in college most of us did in high school, and now he’s doing things as an adult, albeit in the early years of being one, that most of us got out of our systems in college.

But everyone else just thinks Paul’s loosening up and being funny, so they keep pumping him full of beers. Nick bought him one more in Indigo and I declared it would be his last–keep in mind drunk, immature Paul means I play the mature, straight-man babysitter. We all went out on the dance floor, he went to the bathroom, and I assumed he was sulking in a corner afterward because he knew I was getting mad. He texted me a few minutes later to inform me he’d been kicked out because the bouncers could tell he was drunk, although not lying to them about just how much he’d had probably didn’t help, either.

So I finished my drink and babysat Paul for the rest of the night, alternating between not wanting our friends to have to come with us because of him and being annoyed at how long they stayed dancing. And we had a nice fight out there, covering everything from alcohol and limits to maturity to his mother.

Even though the weather the whole weekend had been pretty nice, by this point, it was getting pretty cold, so I decided we head to the nearest establishment that wasn’t a bar or restaurant that we could reasonably sit in, which happened to be Dunkin Donuts. But Dunkin Donuts was just as cold inside as it was outside. So we got some water and donuts and by this time I was like, “I can’t keep sitting outside, let’s take the bus back and just sit in your car until they come home,” since we didn’t have a key to Katie’s place. But as luck would have it, while we were sitting at the bus stop, they got in touch with us to go home, too. Katie had since lost track of and found a friend of hers and gotten the most drunk she’s ever bene. Nick was also drunk, and poor Ryun was their babysitter. And I was like, “Ryun, you sick of these drunk white girls?” ’cause he’s Japanese, and he was like, “Yep.” Ryun’s more of the partier. In fact, Ryun had laid plans for us to breakfast at IHOP and get milkshakes he would then spike with little bottles of Bailey’s he had at the ready.

When we got back, everyone got hydrated and Paul went right to sleep n the air mattress we’d been sharing, and he started snoring incredibly loud. Normally, I can give him a little poke an he stops, but not this drunk snore! I was shaking him, talking, and even resorted to pinching him lightly, punching his nose, and covering his mouth in the hopes that it would at least  at least wake him up and stop him, but no dice. He barely even broke his snoring stride, so I gave up in the hopes that I was tired enough that I’d fall asleep anyway. And as luck would have it, I did.

“I am approaching the state known colloquially as ‘turnt'”

Last Friday night, Paul and I packed up and headed out to Greensburg to then head out to State College. We met up with Terra and Scott for dinner first, since he was home from the Navy. It was his last day in, and between jobs and Terra’s classes and Scott’s family visit in Ohio, it was the only day we could squeeze in meeting up with them. But we had a good time hanging out for a little bit, and it was good to see him.

The original plan for State College was for Paul’s college roommate, Ryun, and their friend Nick to meet us at Paul’s apartment–which Paul still has for the next month until he basically moves in with me. But they changed plans and decided to take a separate car up because Nick was planning on heading back Saturday to make it to a family function Sunday, but he ended up staying the whole weekend to hang out instead.

So Paul and I made the trip ourselves, and it’s a pretty nice drive from Greensburg. Simple, too–just over two hours, which is like perfect weekend-trip driving time, as far as I’m concerned. Three hours is a more solid chunk of time where you can get tired and antsy, but two is just enough that it’s a trip but doesn’t take a lot out of you.

We made it up and got to Katie’s apartment around 8 or 9, and then we took the bus into town to go drinking. It was my first time using State College public transportation, actually, because I always had my car up there, and it was kind of nice. Costs money, sure, but it’s convenient, especially with a big group like we had.

I also never really did a bar trip when Paul was still in school. We’d gone out to a few places we liked, but we never really did a bar hope. We started at the infamous Kildare’s, which I’d heard a lot about but had never visited. We had some food–I wasn’t too hungry so I nibbled on our appetizers and had a salad–and started our drinking. I got the delicious speciality cocktail they called Jameson and the Giant Peach.

Then the night was kind of a bust, in some ways–we’d originally planned to go to this nightclub, Indigo, but some friend of Katie’s was having a party, so we ended up in this little, cramped apartment with French students and Katie, Paul, and Ryun’s friend (and rapper/teacher) Ugo and some friends of his. And then we went to a house party with them and a friend of Katie’s who’d met up with us at Kildare’s. But when we got to the house party, Katie and her friend were really uncomfortable and kind of freaked out and insisted we leave. Now, I’m not gonna ask girls to stay at a party they’re not comfortable with by any means, but I did feel they completely overreacted. There was nothing about that party that suggested it was somehow sketchy and unsafe, but they acted like by hanging around, we were setting ourselves up for a gang rape.

So we ended up back at Indigo for like a hot minute before last call. It was a decent place, and I as much as I enjoy dancing, I learned from this weekend that I’m not as into the nightclub scene and much prefer the dive-bar scene. But it wasn’t until Saturday that we visited my beloved Zeno’s.

So we walked back to Katie’s, at which point I was sore from all the walking and completely worn out. By the time we got in and got to bed–after watching some Archer on Netflix and stopping at the store–it was about four in the morning and Paul and I were closing in on having been awake for 24 straight hours, given our usual 5:30 wake-up.

Friday Five: The Bard

  1. In what way is all your world a stage? Well, I’m a writer, so I draw inspiration from almost everything and everyone around me. I consider everything in my life fair game for material, and then I spit it back out into the world for people to read and hopefully enjoy. I’m not performing, but I’m telling stories and try to make sense of the world through them.
  2. What is something wicked which this way comes? Well, Paul tried to get me to go visit his family with him tomorrow, and I’m probably not gonna go, but if I do, something wicked would be his mother.
  3. Is the fault in us, in our stars, or in something else? Us. Humans are flawed by default. We make mistakes, and sometimes we’re intentionally shitty.
  4. What will you be doing tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow? My weekend will be spent getting a haircut, lounging, and going for walks. My more long-term future will be spent working and writing. The one definite constant for all my tomorrows is writing.
  5. What’s your most recent pound of flesh made of? Hmm. Nothing, I guess.

From Friday 5.

Friday Five: Interview

  1. How well do you think you handle being interviewed for jobs? I’ve only actually ever been on one job interview, and it was for the job I currently have, so I obviously did well. I remember being nervous and feeling like I really had to sell myself, but I do think I did a good job. I’m not saying I bullshit my way through it because that’s definitely not the case, but I do think I had a good of idea of what sorts of answers they wanted for questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  2. In what other contexts have you been interviewed? I’ve been asked a few brief questions for newspaper articles for events in high school and things.
  3. What are the strangest questions you’ve been asked in interviews? I’ve never had any strange ones; they’ve all been pretty predictable and expected.
  4. What are your greatest strengths on the job, and what are your greatest shortcomings? I’m a hard worker willing to stay late to get a job done, and I’m great at meeting deadlines. I’m also attentive and detail-oriented, and totally willing and able to put the highest amount of effort into a job to make it the best it can be…unless I’m really tired, which is where my shortcomings come in. If I’m tired or cranky, I start slipping and half-assing. I can also be really stubborn about wanting to do things my way–or in my current situation now, doing things the way I have been for years then being forced to change and not doing it well.
  5. When has a mistake at work resulted in something positive for you? Actually, minor mistakes usually do result in positives in the sense that we get feedback and can then improve. And I know how cheesy and cliched this is gonna sound, but mistakes are almost learning experiences, and learning is basically never bad.

From Friday 5.

Booking Through Thursday: Unread

What proportion of the books you own are unread?

HA. Most of them. Like, probably about 90%. I mean, there’s a slight chance I’m just so overwhelmed by my reading list that I just look at it and scoff and resign myself to the fact that statistically speaking, even if I live to be 110 like my great-grandma’s grandfather, I will never be able to read everything I want to. Maybe it’s not quite so bad as 90%. But even as I sit here and glance over at my behemoth shelf, I’ve read maybe 30 of them, and that includes like four series.

Another good weekend.

Friday night, Paul and I packed up to spend the weekend in Greensburg. We’d planned on eating at Primanti’s, but we took too long to get ready and get out there, and we were heading over to Pitt-Greensburg for the annual Writer’s Festival alumni reading. So by the time we got into town–partially thanks to Paul taking the long way through downtown–we would’ve only had a half hour to eat. Normally, Primanti’s service is super fast, but it was in the middle of a Pens game–albeit a losing one–and I didn’t want to risk it. So we grabbed Subway then went to campus, took a brief stroll, then got situated for the reading.

And it was a good one, as always. My former professor Jakiel’s husband, Dave Newman, read, as did alumni Adam Matcho and a few other alumni. Maybe I’ll be among them one day. I mean, I had the option to, but I didn’t.

Past experience has taught me everyone usually goes out drinking after these things, especially when they’re one of the last events of the festival and on a Friday night, so Jakiela took a poll and a sizable group of us went to Headkeeper’s for beers. Paul and I spent most of that time talking to this guy Matt, who graduated I think about four years ahead of me, about all kinds of things. He was cool and it was really fun, and I love doing things like that and I’m really glad we went.

Saturday brought Steel City Con. After a little confusion, my parents test-drove a possible new car that it turns out they don’t need, thanks to the local Toyota dealer trying to rip them off on my brother’s car inspection, then picked up Kelly and met Paul and I. It was a good convention. I still think the admission is getting pricy, but I got cool stuff like lace gloves, handmade soap, and some comics, plus I met Noah Wyle of ER and Falling Skies fame and told him I’ve done the closed captioning for his shows at work. And he was super nice to talk to.

We then had dinner at my beloved Green Mango, which is pretty much the only restaurant I ever go to in Monroeville. It’s too delicious.

Sunday was lazy. Paul and I did make it to Primanti’s, making up for missing it Friday, then went for a nice walk on Greensburg’s trail. Paul’s decided not to renew his lease since he’s now working a few minutes down the road from my apartment, and I’ll miss hanging out so much in Greensburg in general, but I’ll especially miss easy access to a nice, safe, well-maintained trail. Not that we don’t have good places to walk in Washington, but Greensburg is better.

The warm, sunny weather was the perfect touch, too, and I’ve enjoyed being able to keep the patio doors open all evening for the past week.

Friday Five: Opposition

  1. What’s a current political or social issue on which you stand opposed? Honestly, just about everything Republicans are saying and doing right now. When I registered to vote at 18, I registered as Independent because at the time, I agreed with different things on both sides and felt that neither party had all the answers/solutions–and that bit I still do believe. But over the past few years, either my views have shifted enough or the Republican party’s views have shifted enough that I can no longer stand for any of their policies, with the Pennsylvania exception of the push to privatize our liquor stores. As far as I know, the backlash from that has been mostly Democratic due to the jobs that would be lost, although my argument is that whatever state jobs would be lost might just be made up for in private jobs if other stores are allowed to open or even if gas stations and grocery stores being allowed to sell alcohol means they need to hire more employees. But that’s a whole other discussion.
  2. What forces have worked against your efforts this week? Just the nature of the workforce beast–I’d love to actually leave work on time more regularly. I like the boost in the paycheck from my overtime pay, but I also like having a good chunk of time in the evening to enjoy.
  3. Would you rather have to climb a steep hill in order to get into your house, or climb a steep hill in order to get out? Probably to get out, because that’s when I’m less likely to have to carry stuff up said hill.
  4. In what way have you recently made things difficult for someone else? My dad kept asking me over the past few weeks if Kelly wanted to go to Steel City Con with us yesterday, and I don’t have her phone number and was gonna send her a Twitter message instead but kept forgetting. So I didn’t get around to it until yesterday morning, and it turned out she needed a ride because her car was getting worked on–after my dad had already left. But he hadn’t gotten far and was wiling to get her or have her meet him somewhere, but then he also talked my mom into going because he does’t think Kelly is very comfortable around him. So everything was kind of jumbled planning-wise for a bit.
  5. In what way has the “opposites attract” cliche been true in your life? My whole relationship with Paul! At least to an extent. I’m a firm believer that we’re not actually opposites. On the outside, sure–he dresses more conservatively and plainly, and I’m either in band tees and jeans or doing some weird goth/hipster/punk weird thing. He comes from a sheltered, straight-laced conservative family and my parents are a lot more relaxed and open about things. But at our cores, we’re actually really similar and have a lot in common, from our taste in movies and books to even our political views. I’m certainly the more liberal of the two of us, but he’s not as conservative as his family would like, for sure. And we both have the same ambitions. There are some nice opposites, though–I have more of a passion for life in general than he does, I get more excited about things than he does, I’m worse at math and science than he is, I’m a vegetarian and he eats lots of meat, he’s a cynic and I’m a (realistic) optimist, but it works. Really fucking well.

As always, from Friday 5.

Booking Through Thursday: Recommended

Do you read books recommended by friends? Or do you prefer to find your own books to read?

I tend to stick to my own personal reading list, mostly because it’s already quite a long list without any outside help. I’ve got a stock of books to read as it is, so when I need new reading material, all I have to do is consult my shelf or the list I’ve been keeping of books I want.

That said, I am almost always open to recommendations. I try to read things I’ve head talked about a lot, but as I said, my already large reading list can make this difficult. I’m very open to what other people are paying attention to and interested in, especially if it’s something I might not have discovered otherwise and might really like. I’m even more willing to give something a try if someone says, “Hey, I read this, I thought it was great, and you can borrow it,” which is what Terra and Paul have both been doing with me for awhile–Terra gave me a small stack that I’m slowly getting through, and Paul and I have been doing almost like a book swap for most of the time we’ve been dating.

Because I also believe in keeping an open mind and not being dismissive of something without good reason, I’m willing to listen to just about any recommendation thrown at me, and I only won’t take it if I’m really, really reasonably sure I won’t like it–a good example would be subject matter I’m just not interested in or writers I know I don’t like. The only time I ever remember being like, “Ha, no way,” to a recommendation was the time I asked for recommendations on Facebook and Paul’s brother Jacob suggested one of Glenn Beck’s books. I don’t like him on TV, so I doubt his books would be enjoyable for me.