Well, the weekend ended up not quite as leisurely as I would’ve liked it, but I still did get some much-needed catching up done in terms of writing assignments. Baby steps.

We made a quick shopping trip yesterday then tried a new Mexican place for lunch, then managed to go to the park for a walk. And after a lot of rain that morning and the day before, the creek was a mess. It’s usually pretty still and calm, and it was pretty flooded–to the point that when we got out of the car, we could actually hear the water rushing, and it’s usually silent. It was like that today, too, and you could even see where plants are pushed down where the water was obviously higher. I joked that you could probably take a raft down, and sure enough, I wasn’t the only one who thought of it and a couple of guys did just that.

And then after a good three-mile walk, we ended up stopping at Rita’s for some frozen custard. We’re kind of hit and miss when it comes to making healthier decisions, although at least we’ve kept up the walking routine and are staying active.

We did it again today, followed by church and a trip to the casino as a little bachelor/bachelorette party for Brandon and Kelly. My parents and I all lost pretty terribly and Brandon and Kelly weren’t doing great, either, but a friend of theirs who tagged alone was actually doing pretty well, so they hung around as long as he kept winning while the rest of us gave up and left with what little money we had left.

This week will be a short one for me, as I’m taking Friday off for the rehearsal and to be available in case they need anything. I’m aiming for getting the following Monday off, too, to give myself a long weekend, in part as a recovery day–not in that I except to be that hung over, but just because I expect it to be a busy, hectic weekend, and an extra day to unwind would be nice. The wedding is the last of the busy-ness until we get closer to Paul’s brother’s wedding, and I think he and I are both looking forward to a little more downtime and being able to settle in and focus on our own wedding.

Saturday 9: Jammin’

Saturday 9: Jamming (1977)

… Because Eloquent Obi suggested Bob Marley. Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) In Jamaica, “jamming” means to celebrate. What’s going on in your life today that’s worth celebrating? Well, we’re probably taking a small casino trip tomorrow to do a bachelor/bachelorette party for my brother and his fiancée, and then their wedding is next weekend.

2) The group that became famous as “The Wailers” originally called themselves “The Teenagers.” What was trendy when you were a teenager (clothes, music, etc.)? It was the early 2000s, and I fell the pop-punk/emo craze. I arguably never truly left it behind.

3) Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley were very close. In addition to being bandmates, they were friends in elementary school and later became family (Bunny’s dad and Bob’s mom had a daughter together). Who has known you the longest? Aside from siblings and cousins, I still have some friends from middle school.

4) Does the person you named in #3, the one who’s known you longest, know you best? In terms of personality, yes, in terms of the details of my life, no. And of course, the personal who truly knows me best if my fiancé.

5) Bandmate Peter Tosh became an avid unicycle rider. What’s your favorite form of exercise? When I first started trying to be more active, I told my fiancé I need to do things that I enjoy and don’t feel like exercise, which of course tend to be more leisurely. I like walking, yoga, and swimming, and I don’t hate the ab wheel he got me to try.

6) Bob Marley was known for his signature dreadlocks. When were you last in a stylist’s chair? Last weekend for a test-run for my hair for my brother’s wedding. I got my bangs trimmed while I was in there.

7) Marley’s charisma is credited for popularizing reggae music the world over. Are you a fan? I dabble.

8) Mr. Marley is one of the highest-earning dead celebrities, and manufacturers pay his estate to use his likeness to sell their merchandise. What dead celebrity have you seen recently on a t-shirt, mug, poster, etc.? David Bowie on a shirt. And I bought it.

9) Random question: Have you ever had your palm read? Yeah, by some random woman. I can’t remember what she told me. My interactions with mediums have been more interesting and memorable, though.

When my mom first booked our hotel rooms for Ohio, she was trying to decide between two–one was more expensive, but it had a pool. And guess which one we sprung for?

I would’ve liked to have used the pool the night we got in, but it was evening by then and the pool was packed with kids. That would’ve been another advantage had been able to go earlier, but we at least used it Sunday first thing in the morning.

My parents have been swimming pretty consistently to lose weight, and to pretty good results. I’d love to do more of it myself, but our options are kind of limited where we are. I definitely get a good workout from it, seeing as how I can only go across a pool a couple times before I’m tired.

And that was about it for hotel adventures in the morning. We packed up and checked out, then spent a little time at a beach on Lake Erie. I would’ve liked more time there, too, although you could plop me on any beach and leave me there for days and I’d still say I wanted more time there. We drove around the area for a bit, then headed over to my mom’s cousin Colleen’s for the big anniversary party.

A good bit of family from Pennsylvania came, like Aunt Elaine and Uncle Del and Aunt Gina and Uncle Richard, so we all had a good time socializing and hanging out. I kind of had to pull Paul into it–we were both tired and he was withdrawing a little bit, but I hate to go to Ohio and then not spending time with the family I went to see. I think part of it is Paul’s family dynamics, because there’s a sense with them of being together without being together. Sure, they get together, but no one really talks or truly spends time with each other. A lot of times, people sit in front of a TV instead. It’s like getting a family together only to sit in a room and barely acknowledge each other. You can say you spent time together, but you really didn’t. He did discover later, though, that he liked talking to Uncle Bill about his working days.

As for the whole “surprise” part of the party, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Bill were led to believe they were just coming over for a barbecue with friends. Everyone was more focused on how Aunt Shirley would react because we all knew it would probably be pretty great, and we were right–they drove up to us all standing in the driveway and she was really, genuinely surprised, more so than I’ve ever seen anyone at a surprise party, especially when she saw all of us Pennsylvania kids there and with a wedding in less than two weeks. Her reaction alone made me glad we made the trip, along with how grateful she was later and how clearly moved she and Uncle Bill both were to have everyone there celebrating their anniversary. Even Colleen, their daughter, got a little choked up thanking everyone for coming.

It was also fun to look at old pictures of them and my grandparents, and of course at things like this, people start breaking out the old stories that I still love to hear. One of the things I’ve always said I regret about my grandparents’ deaths is that we never sat and wrote down their stories or recorded them telling them themselves, but it’s not the kind of thing you think of doing at the time. On the one hand, you kind of take it for granted that they’ll be here forever, and on the other hand, it’s just tough to get it done. But these are the kinds of things I love hearing even more now–it gives you different perspectives of the family you know, and you hear about them from people who had entirely different experiences than yours. It’s like when you’re a kid and you ask your parents about before they were married and before you were born and thinking about them as individuals with experiences and identities separate from you. Some of my favorite stories have always been the ones that surprised me, like how my grandma was supposed to elope with another man who never showed up to meet her when he said he would or how when my mom told her she was pregnant with me, she said, “Well, you’ve done it now!”

But I digress.

We had some good food, some drinks, and good conversation before hitting the road back home and grabbing the week’s groceries on the way.

And I’m glad I had those prior two days off–made the weekend feel less full and rushed and more like I got some leisure time, which I thrive on these days because it’s so rare lately. Fortunately, it’s looking like I’ll have a good bit of it this weekend before we delve into Brandon’s wedding week. It’ll be a short week for me as I’ve taken off the day of the rehearsal dinner, but come on, how much of a day off is that really gonna end up being?

My brother’s wedding creeps ever closer–we’re less than two weeks away now–and Saturday, my mom and I went for our hair test Saturday morning. For her, it was mostly deciding on what she wanted to do, and for me, it was mostly copying the picture of what the bride wanted and making sure it works with my short hair. It does, and I love it.

The one downside was we were headed off to Ohio for Aunt Shirley and Uncle Bill’s surprise 60th anniversary party, and the morning hair appointment meant setting out a little later than we might’ve normally. We were going close enough to Cleveland that I would’ve loved to check out the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame again–I went in high school when we were in town for a wedding on that side of the family, and as my taste in music has expanded since, it’s something I think I’d appreciate a little bit more now. And I loved it then, so that’s saying something. Plus I want to take Paul. I think he’d like it, too. At least it’s close enough that we could reasonably go some other weekend.

Okay, so there was more than one downside, like having to drive to Uniontown then back home then to Ohio because one car would be cramped and Paul didn’t want to miss his tai chi class, nor did he really need to, what with my mom and I get our hair did that whole time and all. I spent a little bit of time at my parents’ house having lunch and doing free laundry before I hit the road, and then Paul and I packed off and went to…the outlets so I could exchange a pair of pants that were too tight. I think my favorite thing about buying clothes is when I buy the same size from the same store and one pair fits fine and the other is really, uncomfortably tight. I’ve also decided that I don’t want to be the kind of person who lives in physically uncomfortable denial and squeezes into small clothes for no real reason. Sure, I’m trying to make healthier decisions, but suffering at work in tight pants is not the kind of sacrifice I want to make, and if that means going up a size, so be it.

We got to Ohio around 7 in the evening and hung out in our adjoining rooms, which my mom said she quickly regretted, as my dad kept going back and forth and wouldn’t leave her alone. We suspect this was partly out of spite, as he didn’t want to go in the first place and was being as much of a nuisance as possible to get out of future events.

I had a similar issue with Paul initially not wanting to go, although that had more to do with me making the mistake of asking him early in the morning when he was to sleepy to do anything, plus he won’t act like a child about it. But when he initially said no, I got frustrated and a little cranky–we’re getting married next year, so him coming along would be a nice gesture, for one. On top of that, I handle his chaotic family on a regular basis. Now, I could see if it were my dad’s family because I’d probably try to get out of that myself, but when it’s my mom’s family, who are calmer and more put together and usually enjoy each other’s company and have fun, I don’t see a reason not to go. I’ll come back to this when I talk about the actual party, but I like spending time with them and I like taking those opportunities when they come. Especially as we’re all getting older and spreading out across the country or have significant others’ families to juggle or other commitments.

We spent Saturday night mostly just hanging out in the hotel–we went out to dinner and then to a Kohl’s to try to find a gift, or at least a gift card as a last resort. Since Paul and I aren’t married yet, I don’t push us sharing a hotel room, even though we live together, so we split up by gender–and part of that is probably my mom not really wanting to share a room with my dad, either. And because she knows he’s a terrible travel partner, she let Paul hang out in our room as long as he wanted. Unfortunately for him and Brandon, that turned into until I complained about them keeping me up. I didn’t technically kick them out, but Paul knows me well enough to know that asking when they’re going to bed and saying that they’re being noisy is code for “please leave, I can’t sleep.”

And ya know, as much as I love Paul, I also really loved having a whole bed to myself.

I still have a bunch of vacation time to use–last time I checked, I still had a solid week I need to use by the end of the year, although I may have slightly less now–so my method has been to take two days off anytime I want to request one. Usually, it’s the day after a concert, so for this last one, I figured I’d do day of and day after. Gave myself a nice, short work week and a nice, long weekend.

I spent those two days at home lounging and napping, with a small dose of chores and writing.

Thursday night, we went to dinner at Markook then set off for Star Lake Amphitheater/Post-Gazette Pavilion/First Niagara Pavilion. It’s a pretty good venue for big summer concerts, but it’s notorious for having terrible parking, so I wanted to get us there a little early. Next time, I should aim for even earlier, because we sat in parking-lot traffic for a good half hour, making us miss the beginning of Cheap Trick’s set. And they were the band I wanted to see the most. I’m cursed when it comes to Cheap Trick at that place. Both times I’ve seen them open there, I’ve ended up missing the first part of the set. Fortunately, I’ve seen them do a full set elsewhere.

And if you have the opportunity to see Cheap Trick headline at a smaller venue, take it. I may have missed part of their set twice, but I did see them at a smaller venue a few years ago, and they really do put on a great show that just kind of works better at a smaller venue. I think almost all musicians are like that, with the exception of maybe the big spectacles that, say, pop stars put on. Cheap Trick was the main reason I wanted to go, which is blasphemy in some circles considering the rest of the bill was Joan Jett and Heart.

They were all great. I’d say Joan Jett impressed me most. The funny thing is because of the nature of the concert and the fact that I’m mostly just familiar with hers and Heart’s hits, it was the kind of thing I could enjoy a little more leisurely, which is kind of nice. I’ve seen bands I’m very unfamiliar with and I’ve seen bands where I went out of my mind, dancing and singing along to everything, and to have something kind of in the middle of that was a nice change.

I spent a significant amount of time Friday napping. The thing about taking days off when Paul doesn’t is he still gets up at 6 for work, which inevitably wakes me up. So lately, rather than try to go back to sleep and lie in bed God knows how long, I decided to go ahead and get up and just nap later if I got tired. I ended up falling asleep twice, barely eating, and getting a headache as a result. By the time Paul came home from work, I was waking up from my second nap and we decided to go to Primanti’s for dinner, likely undoing a couple weeks’ worth of walking about a mile every day and up to six miles on the weekends.

The other advantage to the two days off was having some time at home before heading out to Ohio for the weekend.

Saturday 9: Surf City

Saturday 9: Surf City (1963)

… Because Melissa suggested Jan and Dean. Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) When the song was written, “Surf City” was a fictitious town.* Tell us a song that is set in a real place. I can’t think of one at the moment!

2) In the song, Jan and Dean sing about riding around in a 1934 station wagon, which means the car was 29 years old when the song was recorded. How old is your vehicle? I think it’s a 2005, so if I’m remembering right, it’s 11.

3) Are you good on a surf board? I’ve never tried it! I think I’d be okay at it.

4) When you spend time out in the sun, are you careful about applying sunscreen? If I’m gonna be out for an extended period of time, yes.

5) Dean’s original partner was Arnie Ginsburg. When Dean was drafted into the Army, Arnie didn’t feel like waiting so he abandoned show business and went back to college. Today he holds several patents. What is something you wish someone would invent? I can’t think of anything for this one, either.

6) Jan was a perpetual student who juggled college with recording. He not only graduated from UCLA, he completed two years of medical school at the UC Irvine School of Medicine. Have you ever considered going back to school? I’ve thought about law school from time to time, but honestly, I don’t thin I have the motivation right now to put the work in and I don’t know if I have it in me to work in the field.

7) In 1966, Jan was sidelined by a serious car accident. During the years that he was unable to perform, partner Dean became a graphic artist. He designed logos and album covers for Steve Martin, Diana Ross and others. Do you feel you respond most to words, pictures, or music? I’d music comes first, followed very, very closely by words. It can happen with pictures, but it’s not as common and not as intense.

8) In 1978, CBS made a TV movie about Jan and Dean. If they approached you about a made-for-TV movie of your life, who would you like to play you? Man, I feel like every 20-something woman these days probably says this, but Jennifer Lawrence.

9) Random question:  Growing up, how did you learn about the birds and the bees? (From books/the web, from parents, from your friends…) I had friends and cousins that were a couple years older than me, so once one of them found out, it was all over. It made its way to the rest of us, and I was pretty young.

Friday 5: (Im?)potent Potables

  1. What’s your favorite beverage that has chocolate in it? It’s so basic, but probably chocolate milk.
  2. What’s your favorite non-citrusy fruit drink? Is mango considered citrus? Because any kind of mango drink, I love. My fiancé and I also recently bought mango-peach and berry juices that we really liked. Any I like pretty much any kind of cider.
  3. What’s your favorite mention of a drink in song? Hmm. I’m not sure.
  4. Roy Rogers, Arnold Palmer, and Shirley Temple are among people who have mixed drinks named after them.  What would a drink named after you contain, and what would each of the ingredients represent? I don’t think they’d represent anything–I’d probably just want something with my favorite flavors, which tend to be berries and/or tropical fruits. Maybe something with pineapple, mango, and coconut…as though this isn’t a cocktail of some sort at just about every bar already anyway.
  5. Besides milk and cookies (’cause that’s really too easy), what are a food and drink that you must have together? Every time I have pizza, I have to have either alcohol or pop with it. And I need milk with peanut butter.