Friday 5: Impromptu

  1. What’s something you’ve created while improvising in the kitchen? I don’t do much improvising in the kitchen. This question is much better suited to my fiancé, who concocts strange things all the time, occasionally things only he likes. The best I do is, like, putting different things in stuffed peppers.
  2. In your work, how good are you at winging it? It’s tough to wing it at my day job because there’s not much to wing. But in writing, very.
  3. When you travel, how much of your trip do you make up as you go? It depends on the trip and the company. I’d say generally, it’s about an even split. I like to set aside time for some things I definitely want to do, but I also like to have some freedom and not feel like I’m on a schedule on vacation.
  4. How structured are your plans for this weekend? There’s a little bit of structure and a little bit of winging it. I’m probably gonna help take a friend’s cat to the vet since she can’t drive for medical reasons, then I’m gonna go to a Lularoe party I definitely don’t need to go to, and on Sunday, my brother is having a little apartment-warming party.
  5. What’s something you’ve discovered while wandering around in your neighborhood? Usually just shenanigans. Like today, when we went for a walk and found that there’d been an accident up the road and that life flight was in the Shop N Save parking lot.

From here.

Booking Through Thursday: Location Part Two

An off-shoot from last week’s question: Do you read books from places you DON’T know and haven’t been as a substitute for actually travelling there?

I guess my answer is kind of similar to last week‘s in that a book’s setting–or since we’re talking location, possibly even country of origin–doesn’t have any impact on my reading habits. As for travel, I think the best way to experience a place is to actually go there, but I totally understand that that’s not always possible or practical, whether it be for financial reasons, safety concerns, other obligations, etc. So in that case, although I wouldn’t personally use it this way, I can absolutely how some people might sort of live vicariously though books in that way.

On top of it–and I know I say this all the damn time, but it’s so often relevant–books are great for reading other perspectives, and I think books set in far-off (real) places are a great example of how we could use them to see the world from someone else’s eyes, especially when you consider things like cultural differences and the number of ways people’s experiences can differ even just due to location.

I’m not a football person. I never have been, which is kind of strange for someone who was born and raised in Steeler country. I just always found it boring. I found most sports boring, actually, and hockey is the one exception, but that’s a story for another day.

I went to the occasional football game at my high school, and that was about it. When we took a group State College trip last spring, I think it was, a game was on the itinerary, but Paul and I opted out and just hung out and did our own thing instead until the game was over and we met up with everyone for dinner and drinks.

I didn’t feel right skipping it this time–the whole trip was for Katie’s bachelorette weekend, and she wanted a tailgate and football game, so that was what we were gonna do, whether I liked it or not. The fact that it was the only real football game I’d ever been to became kind of a running joke, as did Nelson using hockey terms to explain the game to me. I mean, I understand the basics, of course, but not the details. Funnily enough, Nelson’s explanations actually made a ton of sense to me, although I didn’t retain a single one of them. I was also wearing a Penguins shirt.

I also had a fun time yelling generic things like, “Yay, sports!” and “Football!” I was basically this:


Now, Paul at least enjoys football when it’s right in front of him. I was actually kind of enjoying it at first, but I got bored pretty quickly. If anyone had any hope this would turn me into a football fan, no dice. The reason I love hockey is because it’s generally fast-paced, whereas the stop-and-go nature of football bores me. I will say, though, that Penn State’s stadium is pretty impressive in size. I’ve been in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for the Winter Classic when we hosted it, and I could immediately tell Beaver Stadium was bigger. The atmosphere was pretty cool, too. I may not be into football at all, but I do love being in a crowd of people that’s just having a great time.

On top of that, Penn State chose this game to honor Joe Paterno. Now, when the Sandusky abuse scandal first broke, Paul was in his senior year–I remember Meri texting me the night of the riots, worried in case he was out, but of course I’m with an introvert who had long been home. Since he was there, I spent a good bit of time up there, too, usually going up for a weekend once a month or so throughout that summer, when he graduated. And atmosphere was strange, to be honest. I remember State College as a whole showing overwhelming support for Paterno, which I thought was odd at best and careless at worst. Storefronts were plastered with Paterno shirts and signs. It was like there was a total unwillingness to acknowledge that he had known about the abuse long before it was made public, which I felt was a slap in the face to all of the victims, especially if any happened to be in the area still. I can’t imagine how it must feel to learn that a man knew what someone was doing to you and that he was being defended by the community because of a sport. The presentations at the game felt like I continuation of that. I’ll grant that it’s a grey area. I may know very little about football, but I know what he did for the school, as well as the community. But that doesn’t change the role he played in the Sandusky scandal, and I don’t thinks it’s right to gloss over it. There are ways to acknowledge these things and still acknowledge professional accomplishments.

So for my part, when people stood to applaud him, I didn’t. Neither did Brandon or Paul, as well as some other people here or there, though it’s hard to say if everyone was doing it as a sort of protest or if it’s just one of those things where some people stand and some people don’t. The opposing team, Temple, apparently got some attention for turning their backs, which I somehow missed, despite their section being pretty close to ours. I did notice their big sign, however, that said, “He turned his back, so we’ll turn ours.”

I did like the tailgate, though, even if traffic and Paul’s tendency to not know where he’s going despite being sure of where he’s going got us there two hours behind schedule. Also, we have a new joke that I can’t get drunk anymore–in the sense that large amounts of alcohol aren’t doing anything to me lately. It happened at Brandon’s wedding, which I dismissed as being spread out over the course of the night, but at the tailgate and in the evening later, multiple drinks and multiple Jell-O shots in a short timespan didn’t hit me at all.

By the end of it all, we’d done a tone of walking, from walking from where we were parked to the tailgate and back, including Paul taking us the wrong way. Paul and I walk pretty regularly–on weekends, we’ve gotten up to four miles at a time–and I could tell by the way my body felt that we’d definitely surpassed that. According to my phone, we were pushing six miles for the day by the time we got back to the car.

Brandon and Kelly headed out of town to meet up with my dad in Gettysburg for the annual World War II weekend we usually go to, but Paul and I opted to skip it–while going was totally doable and it wouldn’t have been a far drive to go and spend Saturday night into Sunday, and I didn’t want to feel rushed in the evening or miss out on other festivities. So after they went there way, I took a nap, and although I could’ve sworn I never fell asleep, next thing I know Paul’s waking me up so I can shower to go to dinner.

The nap and hot shower did me good. The walk had me aching all over, and I felt immensely better afterward. Much of our group was meeting at The Greek next to our motel for dinner, so I had Katie shoot me a text when they got there and we enjoyed a delicious meal of Greek food. Katie’s friends were fun to talk to, as well. I knew a couple already, but we all had a good time hanging out.

The original plan was to do a bar crawl, and I was kind of relieved when Katie said the’d changed it to staying in. Initially, it was going to be at her friend’s apartment, but that got shifted to our hotel room. This also meant her brother, who’s still underage, could be included. I just wanted to hit Zeno’s for one drink, even if it was at the end of the night, but Katie wanted to, too, so we headed there after dinner, and then broke up into a smaller group for drinking and Cards Against Humanity in our room.

It was probably one of the most low-key bachelorette parties in history, but it was a lot of fun and really suited the group, which is always important. Katie’s not the type to want penis paraphernalia everywhere, and some of her friends aren’t the bar-hopping type, so an evening in seemed to work best. Everyone got to see her and spend some time with her,  and she got to do what she wanted to do before the wedding in just over two weeks. And that’s ridiculous that it’s come so soon.

The work weeks are all blurring together lately, as they tend to do, but the fall TV season is back. And that means that it’s a fun time to watch TV for a living, and I can typically count on seeing some good stuff a couple times a week. And trust me, I’ve seen some good shit.

Paul and I took last Friday off, intending to set out early for State College to get there in the afternoon and have the evening to hang out. We started the day with a walk in the park, then came back, packed up, and hit the road, ultimately later than we wanted, but it’s not like it was a big deal. We had nowhere to be, really, it was just that we wanted to maximize time, especially knowing Saturday was gonna be packed with events for Katie’s bachelorette party.

We grabbed some food on the way and checked into our motel, which was this little motel on the outskirts of downtown State College–I’d seen it plenty of times, since it’s next to The Waffle Shop and The Greek, two of my favorite restaurants. Penn State had a rivalry football game that weekend, so everything filled up pretty fast. I’d actually underestimated how fast it would happen and kind of took it for granted that we’d have no problem getting a room, and it turned out that everything was sold out a solid month or so in advance. The bridesmaid in charge of things had called around and put herself on waiting lists, though, and we got lucky and snagged a room with two double beds, meaning Brandon and Kelly would stay with us.

Of course, the football game meant lodging prices were jacked up horribly, and although it was cute motel that I’d stay in again–and I even think I preferred it to the historic hotel we stayed in downtown a few months ago–it was so not worth how expensive it was.

While Brandon and Kelly were still making their drive, Paul and I hit the town with his childhood friend Nelson, who came in for the event. I did my usual little shopping trip–I knew Friday evening was about my only chance for it, and I didn’t want to be pestering anyone (okay, except Paul) about wanting to go shopping in the midst of tailgates, football games, and bar crawls. So Nelson and Paul hit a bar while I bought some clothes. I think I finished up a lot faster than they expected–they barely had a beer down by the time I met back up with them in this neat but very crowded bar downtown that seemed to be a hit with older alumni. From there, we went to our beloved Zeno’s, where I drank Space Herpes and snacked on mozzarella sticks. Brandon and Kelly met us there for a few drinks and the hotel key, as I had the only one.

And when we got in, we pretty much went to bed. Saturday was going to start really early–our presence was requested for the tailgate by 8, and we wanted to go to breakfast first, so we had a wakeup of just before 6 or something ridiculous like that.

Saturday 9: One Night in Bangkok

Saturday 9: One Night in Bangkok (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is from the play Chess. It’s been said that the most successful players are fluid in their thinking. Do you consider yourself flexible or set in your ways? I’m set in my ways in that I have routines I like sticking to, but I can be flexible.

2) Nigel Short, a real-life chess grandmaster, used to wear a t-shirt that said, “He who cares, wins.” Do you always play to win? Or do you play board/card games or sports for the fun of it? A little of both. I’m competitive so I always want to win regardless, but I’m not the type of competitive person who will get angry if I lose or focus solely on winning. I can enjoy the ride.

3) The singer is in Bangkok for an important tournament. He maintains that he doesn’t mind missing the sights and dismisses Bangkok is just another “crowded, polluted stinking town.” Do you find big cities exciting? Or do you think of them as noisy and dirty? I find them exciting, and I always have. I always feel really comfortable and kind of at home in cities, which is kind of odd because I lean more toward introverted homebody. I think I like the idea of there being a city full of things to do should I choose to take advantage of it.

4) Air pollution has reached serious levels Bangkok. Do you suffer from allergies, asthma or another condition that could be aggravated by pollution? Generally, no, but almost all summer up to now I’ve been stuffy and sneezy in the mornings.

5) To reduce traffic, commuters travel through Bangkok on ferries that make regularly scheduled trips up and down the Chao Phraya River. When was your last boat ride? I guess last fall, when I got a Groupon for a Gateway Clipper boat tour of Pittsburgh. Pretty much everyone who lives in the area has done it, probably, because it’s a quintessential school field trip, but my fiancé never had and I decided he must.

6) Round trip airfare between ATL and BKK is $1750. If we gave you a travel voucher for that dollar amount, how would you spend it? I’d probably go visit my cousin in El Paso.

7) The Holiday Inn Express in Bangkok has a McDonald’s onsite. When you go somewhere new, do you find it comforting to be surrounded by what’s familiar? Or would you prefer to try new things? I’m all about trying new things when traveling. Except in dire circumstances, I have a rule where I won’t eat at chain restaurants–unless it’s a chain specific to that area or they offer something different.

8) One of Bangkok’s most popular restaurants is DID, which stands for Dine in Dark. The dining room at DID is 100% light free — cell phones must be stored in the lobby to avoid distracting from the experience — so customers eat their four course meal without seeing it. This heightens the diner’s sense of taste and smell. When you prepare a meal, do you put a great deal of care into its presentation? Not at all. I might if I was cooking for someone other than myself or my fiancé, but as it is, neither of us cares.

9) Random question: Think about your last professionally prepared meal. Did you dine in, carry out, or have it delivered? It was Giant Eagle sushi, which I brought home.

Friday 5: All Over

  1. What would you like right now to be coated with? Pajamas and blankets.
  2. What’s something you recently slathered on something else? I slathered myself with sugar scrub in the shower.
  3. What’s something you purchased recently whose purpose is to cover something? I just bought a new phone case last week. I replace them when they start to get battered, and a big chunk of the corner of my last case cracked and came off, so it was time. The new case is pretty good, too, and actually covers the entire phone and came with a protective covering for the screen.
  4. What do your current bed linens look like? Light blue fancy bamboo sheets I got on Groupon that are super soft and comfy, with kind of a patchwork-looking comforter on top. That needs washed, but it’s a bit too warm for the most part to switch out to one of the bigger, thicker ones. Although it is getting close.
  5. Under what circumstances did you last wear some kind of gloves? I bought rubber gloves for washing dishes once solely to protect Renfest henna on my hands, but I started using them more regularly to protect my engagement ring when I need to wash something real quick and don’t want to take my ring on and off to do it. I probably used it a couple days ago–I didn’t wear my ring at all yesterday, actually, since I only went for a walk and was home the rest of the day.

Booking Through Thursday: Location Location Location

In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. But how about books? Does where a book is set affect your reading choices? Are you more or less likely to read books set in places you know or love?

The setting of a book doesn’t affect my reading choices, no, but I will say I do love reading books set where I’m from. Pittsburgh doesn’t show up in literature often, and my hometown even less so, so I’m always excited when it does happen. And of course, the most famous example is probably The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Saturday 9: September in the Rain

I’m obviously falling behind.

Saturday 9: September in the Rain (1956)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song refers to “leaves of brown.” Can you see any leaves outside your window? What color are they? Everything is mostly still green right now.

2) It also mentions whispered words of love. What did you say last time you lowered your voice? No idea. I was probably quietly telling my fiancé to be quiet. You can hear just about everything people say in the halls here, and he has a loud, deep voice with no concept of inside voices.

3) Clearly this song is about a treasured romantic memory that took place in autumn. Think about your favorite romantic memory. In what season did it take place? I mean, it has to be getting proposed to New Year’s Day, doesn’t it? Although when you take the whole six years into account, I remember summers as being the best. Not counting the one where we fought the whole summer and that other when where his mom was a bitch the whole summer.

4) This week’s featured artist, Julie London, was famous as a singer and actress. Less prominent in her bio is her appearance as a “pin up girl” in Esquire magazine when she was just 17. What’s in your resume that you’d prefer to de-emphasize or gloss over? Nothing, honestly. The closest I get is probably playing up some work I did for free.

5) Julie recorded more than 30 albums and was named “most popular female vocalist” by Billboard magazine in 1956. If you could see any entertainer — male or female — in concert, who would you choose? I’ve been fortunate enough to see almost every musician I love live, but given the year, David Bowie and Prince. Not necessarily together, but hey, that would be great.

6) She became well-known to another generation when she appeared in the 1970s TV show Emergency! The younger actors credited her for keeping everything calm on the set. Who has a calming influence on you? My fiancé. My parents’ dog.

7) Her Emergency! costar was her husband, Bobby Troup, and the show was produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb. Do you have an ex that you’re on very good terms with? Never really dated seriously until now.

8) Julie was a chain-smoker since she was a teenager and in the 1950s recorded a jingle for Marlboro cigarettes. Yet in the 1970s, when she saw Bobby Troup’s health negatively effected by smoking, she pressed him to quit. Tell us about a time you found yourself in a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Every time I ask my fiancé to clean. I mean, it’s not like I never do it–I definitely do more than him–but I’m also not very organized.

9) Random question: You have won an all-expenses paid trip to an exclusive resort in the Hawaii. When you get there, you discover that the private beach is bathing suit optional. Do you swim nude? I probably spend the duration of the trip working up the nerve to do it and either do it when not many people are there, get drunk and do it, or do it the last day.

Friday 5: That’s My Fund-Day

  1. What’s the last thing you didn’t want but purchased anyway because someone’s kid was raising funds for something? I bought candy bars from someone by my apartment. Now, I wouldn’t say I didn’t want them because it’s from a great local candy company and I wasn’t gonna turn that down, but I typically don’t buy that candy otherwise.
  2. What’s something you’re always happy to buy when kids sell it as a fundraiser? …candy.
  3. What was the last fundraiser you participated in? I don’t remember. It was probably back in high school, meaning it was probably food. I think we sold food and candles at some point.
  4. What are your feelings about the endless cycle of fundraising? I went to Catholic school pretty much my whole life until college, and Catholic schools aren’t known to be rolling in money. So I did a lot of it and get why it can be really good for organizations that need money, but because I did a lot of it, I can see how it can be tiring for people who get a lot of requests from coworkers or family.
  5. What’s something people don’t sell as a fundraiser but really should? I can’t think of anything because most of what I think would sell well is already being sold, like food. But I’d say any useful item people already buy–practical sorts of things, things that will make people feel like they’re helping a good cause without buying something they don’t really want or need.

So, while Paul went off to get measured for his tux for Katie and Jacob’s wedding, he dropped me off at my parents’ house, I threw some laundry in, and my mom and I headed off to look at cars. It was a pretty successful trip–we found some good used ones that I liked and I’m little more comfortable paying for, but I also found the same type here at home in a more current year at a lower price, so we’ll see where we can get on that. But it’s looking like I’m gonna have a new car within the next few weeks, at most.

Paul’s favorite restaurant in town is Fiesta Azteca and he’s been wanting to go for a long time now and we just haven’t been able to, so we made it after car shopping. We hung out at my parents’ for a bit after that and we were planning to stop by his, unfortunately for me, but they were taking Emily back to school, so I lucked out. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing–I told Paul the bridal shower issue is coming to a head and I’d be firm about it if it came up and that it was just a matter of when that happens rather than if, and then today we found out his mom blames Katie for her depression, saying that it’s because of Katie no longer including her in wedding planning. It’s bullshit, and Paul was furious was he found out.

Today, we headed to the park for a walk, where we discovered they were doing a 5K with dogs, which I totally would’ve done had I known about it. As part of it, they had some vendors set up, so basically, I went to the park to go for a walk and came out with clothes. And then we went to the mall as previously planned so I could stop at Lush and Sephora. And then we went to Half Price Books–we’ve been doing a good job of avoiding it, but there are a few books that have come out lately I wanted, so we went. I didn’t find the books I’d set out to get, but I did find some older releases I’d been looking for, so…kind of a success? And then we had lunch, went to church, and are in for the night.

It’s gonna be a short week–Katie’s bachelorette party in State College is this weekend, so we’ve both requested Friday off so we can get up there early and have a bit of a longer weekend, especially since it sounds like we’ll be spending most of the weekend drinking.