Booking Through Thursday: Stylistic

What’s your favorite style of book? Serious? Playful? Humorous? Thoughtful? Action-packed? Moody?

It’s hard to say because generally, stuff like that’s not what I look for the most. I’m more interested in good writing. That said, just thinking about what my favorite books tend to be and what I’m usually drawn to, seems like I lean toward the more serious side of things.

Saturday 9: A Summer Place

Saturday 9: A Summer Place (1960)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) This song highlights the soundtrack from the movie A Summer Place, which is about two teenage lovers named Molly and Johnny. Did you ever have a youthful summer romance? If so, what was his/her name? Not in the sense of, like, a summer fling, but my fiancé and I met and started dating in the summer.

2) The “summer place” of the song/movie is a resort along the Maine coast. What “summer place” are you day dreaming about this wintermorning? Pretty much anywhere warm with a beach. I’m not picky.

3) In the movie, Johnny was played by Troy Donahue, who is remembered as nice looking but not terribly talented. Can you think of one of today’s actors who you could describe as “nice looking but not terribly talented?” I honestly don’t know. I can’t really think of anyone that I don’t think is very talented.

4) Molly is played by Sandra Dee, a perky blonde who was one of 1960’s bankable movie stars. Two other blondes — Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds — joined Sandra Dee in the Top 10. The only brunette to sell a lot of movie tickets that year was Elizabeth Taylor. Do you believe men find blondes more attractive than brunettes or redheads? No, but I believe women think they do. Or that women themselves prefer being blonde.

5) “A Summer Place” was by far the best-selling record of 1960. Also in 1960, two brothers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, opened a pizza place called Dominck’s. That was the beginning of a chain now known as Domino’s. What’s the last food you had delivered to your front door? Probably pizza. There are a few other restaurants around here that deliver, like Chinese and Greek, but typically, we just pick it up. Part of that is the logistics of having food delivered to an apartment.

6) In 1965, one of the brothers sold his share of the business to his brother for cash so he could buy a VW Beetle. Tell us about a time you had buyer’s remorse. I don’t get it often at all! If anything, I feel like I shouldn’t have spent the money, but I don’t regret the purchase itself. Nothing a couple hours of overtime won’t fix.

7) In 1960, novelist Ernest Hemingway returned to the United States from Spain and settled in Ketchum, Idaho. Tell us about the last book you read. Was it a novel or non-fiction? The last one I finished was fiction, The Subtle Knife, which is the sequel to The Golden Compass.

8) In December, 1960, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was baptized in the Georgetown University Chapel. His godparents were Charles and Martha Bartlett, the couple who originally introduced young John’s famous parents. Do you have godparents? I do! My dad’s oldest brother is my godfather, and one of my mom’s cousins is my godmother.
9) Random question: You’re at dinner with a married couple who begins to fight. Would you intercede and try to make peace? Or would you just sit back stay out of it? Might depend on the couple and the fight. If I thought interceding would be helpful, sure, but sometimes, it’s best to stay out of it.

Friday 5: Questions to Make Your Hands Clammy

As always, from Friday 5.

  1. Who’s been a ray of sunshine lately? In all seriousness, my fiancé. I finally got him to look into antidepressants, and they’re working.
  2. When do you next expect to be stuffed to the gills? Whenever I go out next, probably. Which is typically once a week, but with an upcoming visit across the state to see my grandfather, it’s tough to say when that’ll happen. I’d kind of like to go out to dinner somewhere while we’re there, though it’ll just be us visitors, since he’s unfortunately in a nursing home.
  3. Among people you know, who can really tell a whale of a tale? Honestly, my group of friends from high school/college had some great ones. And even though we had a bit of a falling out and aren’t together the way we used to be, I’d be lying if I said they weren’t still some of the best stories I have.
  4. What’s something you’ve been herring good things about? The school district where a house we’re looking at tomorrow is located. Thinking way ahead, ya know.
  5. Which of the S.S. Minnow‘s passengers or crew do you think you’d get along best with? Either the Professor or Mary Ann. I mean, she could be my bestie and he could be my lover.

Now that the chaos of the holidays is behind us, Paul and I actually have time to do whatever the hell else we want. Of course, soon enough, this is going to be 90% wedding planning, or at least should be. But for now, we took a day to go to Phipps.

The original plan was to go Saturday, but with the threat of bad weather I don’t think we ever even got, we decided to stay in and made the trip Sunday instead. I would’ve loved to have stopped over around Christmas, actually, because they decorate it really beautifully, but seeing as we just barely made it to The Nutcracker, it wasn’t possible. We made it just in time for them to switch their exhibits over to orchids, which was still really nice. And thanks to a display on climate change, we came out of it with a fancy new green power company. And because I’m a sucker for damn soaps, I left with some of that, too. And almost a bonsai tree, but Paul talked me out of that since we’re thinking about moving.

I felt well enough to hit the gym, fortunately, and we ended up being there for nearly two hours, we think–we’re not totally sure. But of course, my immune system still doesn’t seem to be thrilled about that, because here I am three days later with a damn sore throat again. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as bad as it was before and DayQuil made it disappear for most of the day, but it’s still really frustrating and I’m still afraid to do much as long as it’s hanging around. The last thing I want is to end up back in MedExpress or calling off work again. Even though I have the days, I just really don’t want to have to use them again so soon, even if it’s totally justified.

I spent my first weekend as a functioning human again eating at Primanti’s–because when you’ve barely eaten in a week, why not start with a sandwich topped with coleslaw and fries?–and running some errands. I bought a wall-mounted shelf on Etsy, convinced it would improve my quality of life, and when it arrived, I insisted we go buy tools to mount it rather than waiting to borrow them. We’re gonna need them eventually anyway. I was right about it improving my quality of life, too, because now I have a spot to put mail, my keys, and my coat as soon as I come in the door. It’s cut down on coats strewn everywhere, and I’m hoping it cuts down on mail ending up all over the place, too.

The next day, my mom and I met up at the casino for a bridal show that I got into for free by saying I was booked with my wedding DJ. At this point, there’s really not much at all bridal shows can do for me since all my major things are either booked or chosen and waiting to be booked/paid for, but because it was so close and, well, free, I figured I might as well. And of course we took the opportunity to gamble, too, and when I ended up hitting and pulling a tiny bit ahead–like 20 bucks ahead–I was satisfied enough to leave.

One of the frustrating things about getting sick was that it happened just after I’d started going to the gym and intended to get into a good workout routine, and of course I wasn’t going while I was in bed all day. Even when I did get back up and off to work, I didn’t feel great about going back to the gym, but we did it one night with Paul’s friend Marc again while he was still in town. They kicked my ass again, though not quite as bad as last time, and I was glad to be getting back to my plans.

When I started feeling a little ill a few days before New Year’s, I figured I was just coming down with a pain-in-the-ass cold that I’d sleep off over the long weekend, returning to work Tuesday just fine. Not so!

I had a sore throat that persisted for days and only teased me with improvements–it would feel better over the course of a day, but overnight, the pain would wake me up. Every day that went by, I was convinced I’d be fine the next, even to the point that I was sure I’d be able to go to Terra’s for New Year’s, as planned. Didn’t happen.

Although I didn’t really have any other congestion or anything, by about Sunday, my ears had filled with fluid. I was able to relieve the left, but the right wouldn’t let up. I’ve kind of been through this before–just around the time Paul and I met and started talking, almost the same thing happened, and it knocked me on my ass for about three weeks that summer.

For the most part, I was awake and lounging around the apartment at first, but somewhere around Monday and Tuesday, I slept through both days almost entirely. I was awake maybe only a couple hours total, and with zero improvement in anything, I waited for Paul to get home from work and take me to MedExpress.

Turns out that although my right ear felt worse than my left, my left was actually infected, so MedExpress hooked me up with prescription-strength decongestants, antibiotics, and steroids, all of which I was thrilled to have and take. I swear the decongestants must be magic because I felt better after one dose of all my drugs than I had in days, enough that if I really wanted to, I probably could’ve gone back to work the next day. But I decided to take one last day to give the drugs a chance to really work, especially on my ears.

I went back on Thursday, still sounding pretty shitty but feeling immensely better, a full week after I’d last been in. One of the supervisors even commented that they figured it must’ve been pretty bad. I think in the past, I’ve only ever called off two days in a row, and this time, I hit three spread out over a holiday weekend.

And here, over a week after that yet, I’m still not 100%. My ears took a few more days to make any significant improvement and still pop and feel a little clogged sometimes, mostly in the morning. Even my sore throat still won’t leave me the hell alone–I keep having days where it starts to hurt a little again, but then the next day, it’s gone. At the moment, it’s bothering me enough that I’m concerned I’m gonna wake up back to where I was when this all started. I think part of it was going to the gym yesterday and just wearing myself out at a time when maybe I shouldn’t be, but the fact that I’ll feel okay one day then kind of shitty the next is really frustrating. It’s like I can’t quite shake whatever it is I got, and as much as I don’t want to overdo it, it’s like I can’t even trust it when I feel okay and it’s not taking much to move backwards. I’m really hoping going to bed early tonight will be a good solution because I’m gonna be pretty pissed if I go through another round of being sick.

The day after Christmas, I did the unthinkable–I went to the gym.

I’ve always been kind of anti-gym, just really feeling like it wasn’t for me and I hated it and didn’t see the need for it. And for a while, that was all true. But while Paul and I were in a good walking routine while it was warm, it’s not something we can really keep up now that we’re in the middle of winter, and if I want to lose weight, that’s not gonna cut it–especially as I’m closer to 30 than I am 20. So I decided it was time to do a little more. Paul had been going to the gym and lifting weights every so often with a friend of his, so I decided to tag along.

And so the boys put me through a weightlifting regimen, obviously with a pitiful amount of weight because, you know, I’ve never actually done this before and have no muscle to me at all. But I trusted them, and I held my own–I may have done a tiny fraction of what they did in terms of weight, but I did nearly everything they did until about the end, when I really just couldn’t anymore. But I was pleased with and proud of myself for having done it, and I was happy to find that I didn’t hate it. Maybe it’s that I’m older now and my opinions on it are different than when I was scrawny, maybe it was just the better attitude in general, I don’t know, but I actually kind of enjoyed it and was looking forward to continuing to go, most likely on weekends with Paul and Marc.

We went home, got cleaned up, headed to the South Hills to buy books at Half Price Books that I’d wanted for Christmas and hadn’t gotten, then went on our annual trip to see The Nutcracker, the only day we were able to squeeze it in. Usually, Brandon and Kelly join us, but they saw it down in Morgantown since one of Kelly’s friends (and bridesmaids) had a lead role this year. So it was just Paul and I, out on the town on our day off.

The next day brought the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, too, and I lucked out and got the day after that off–I had one floating holiday left to use by the end of the year and the schedule was full, but I took my chances and requested it anyway. I figured I’d lose the day entirely if I didn’t bother and that it didn’t hurt to try, and it paid off.

Paul’s college roommate happened to be in town from California, where he’s still in the Air Force, so we met up with him for dinner and a movie. We saw Assassin’s Creed, which did make for an entertaining movie but still felt very much like a video-game movie in that it just kind of felt underdeveloped, like the characters and plot could’ve used a little more depth.

Paul and I went out again for dinner the next night, and then I started feeling a little pain in the back of my throat. It wasn’t too bad, but I decided the smart thing to do was take a day and call off. I felt a little bad calling off in a week where I’d already had one day off for a holiday and a second day off for vacation time, but I’ve learned by now that it’s better to take a day early on and recover rather than push myself and feel worse as a result. And I figured it was the weekend of New Year’s, so I’d have a nice, long weekend to get over whatever little bug I’d come down with.

I was wrong.

Saturday 9: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Saturday 9: Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (1984)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song was inspired by a note WHAM! partner Andrew Ridgeley left for his parents. He accidentally wrote “go” twice. What was the last handwritten note you left for someone? I left myself a note not to clock in at work one day due to the way our double overtime was handled.

2) Born Georgios Panayiotou, George Michael was the son of the Greek restauranteur in East London. When you think of Greek cuisine, what comes to mind? Grape leaves and how much I love them.

3) He was a terrible driver and admitted his license was suspended a number of times. Have you ever lost your license? Nope.

4) WHAM! partner Andrew Ridgeley, on the other hand, is a talented driver who got to live his fantasy by racing Formula Three in Monaco. There are companies that sell racetrack driving experiences that allow you to spin around the track at dizzying speeds. Is this something you like to try? Maybe one day.

5) In 1990, Frank Sinatra famously gave George Michael advice. Ol’ Blue Eyes told the younger man to enjoy his fame, to remember all those lean nights traveling from gig to gig by bus and, now that he’s successful, “loosen up and swing, man.” Who last gave you advice? Did you take it? I’m not sure, but I probably didn’t take it.

6) Mr.  Michael’s neighbors have reported since his passing that he seemed to live rather quietly, and that they usually saw him when he was out walking his three dogs. Tell us about the last time you spoke to one of your neighbors. There are about three of us in my building and the one next to me who all leave for work around the same time, and  I run into the one kind of a lot depending on how late I am. I think the last time I saw him, which was a couple weeks ago now, he said something about the weather.

7) Fansites tell us that George Michael’s favorite cereal was cornflakes. What breakfast cereals are currently in your kitchen? Cheerios and I think some sort of healthy-ish oatmeal-square cereal my fiancé bought.

8) In 1984, when “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was popular, Murder, She Wrote premiered on CBS. Today it’s still seen in reruns all over the world. Are you a fan? I’ve never watched it, but it does seem like the kind of show I’d enjoy.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What’s your secret to a good night’s sleep? Who I am as a person. I almost never have trouble sleeping.

Friday 5: We Can Work It Out

  1. What’s a real-world lesson you learned from your first job? That sometimes, you can’t catch a break. My dad worked as a chef through most of my childhood, letting it go after he got hurt in Iraq and got shrapnel in his hand, which caused a few problems with it, like constant pain. But when I was about 10, he worked at a small restaurant near where we lived, and he got me in washing dishes. Now, looking back on it, I’m not sure how they worked this out–at the time, of course, being a kid, I thought it was all legit, but I’ve since learned some little tidbits like the money I was paid actually came from my dad. But it was kind of sweet that my parents dressed it up as this real, adult thing. Some nights were slow, others weren’t, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to finish up a load of dishes only to have my dad to have another round for me to wash. Sometimes when you want to sit down and take a break, you just have to power through, but the end will come.
  2. What was pleasantly unexpected about your current (or most recent) job? I work for a closed-captioning company, and I knew when I got the job that the company got some pretty cool work, but I didn’t know just how cool some of it would be. I mean, talk about spoilers–I’ve found out about, say, character deaths a month in advance and got to watch while my loved ones squirmed watching it on air.
  3. What are some identifying tools of your trade? My company has credits that sometimes but not always are part of the captions that air. Other than that…nothing, really.
  4. What’s something a job required that you thought was far outside your skillset? Honestly, whenever I’m asked to do anything beyond my basic job duties, I feel like it’s out of my skill set, and it’s 100% just a lack of confidence. Obviously, my superiors feel like I’m capable, or they wouldn’t ask, yet every single time it happens, I feel a little overwhelmed and in over my head and wonder why they’re asking me and not someone with more seniority–and there are definitely people who have been working there longer. The big one was when I was assigned back-up duty to captioning commercials, which have a fast turnaround time and operate a little differently than typical programming.
  5. Robert Frost wrote, “My object in living is to unite / My avocation and my vocation / as my two eyes make one in sight.”  To what degree have you united your vocation (your job) and your avocation (your hobby)? When I went to college, I started out aiming for computer science–you know, to be practical. Except I wasn’t do well in the classes, and it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. After seeing a moviefilm with a newspaper-writing protagonist, I decided I wanted to change my major and pursue the writing thing, much to the dismay of basically everyone, but I said fuck it, I need to go into a field that makes me happy, not follow a paycheck and hate waking up and going to work every day, because it won’t be worth it. And lo and behold, I found a job that preferred an English degree. Sure, it’s not my dream job and the pay isn’t great, but I am using my degree and most days, I like my job. On the side, I do freelance work, mostly music news and reviews. While I did some stints writing for free, all of the work I do now is paid, and it’s a nice little chunk of supplementary income every month. Although I am looking for other opportunities, I’m still able to say that I have an English degree that hasn’t been wasted and I’m constantly working to follow my dream, making a gradual progress day by day.

As always, from Friday 5.

I found myself desperate for a haircut a few days before Christmas. I’d been intending to call my usual place in town and go but was busy with overtime and writing such, then just missed them at what was my last chance to squeeze in without looking like a complete dick. So in my desperation, I decided that risking a bad haircut was better than no haircut–it was looking like quite the mane–so I said fuck it and went to Supercuts. And ya know, they did a pretty good job, especially in a pinch. My only complaint was they could’ve taken more off, which I didn’t really realize until I left. I was just so happy to have less hair that I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that she didn’t go quite as short as I prefer it.

And so I was ready for Christmas.

This year, it was at Aunt Gina and Uncle Richard’s. As usual, it brought delicious food and a great game of Cards Against Humanity, which seems to be the new family tradition. We’ve been playing on Christmas for a good couple years running now, and it’s always wonderful and hilarious. I still wish my mom would get in on a game, but she insists on keeping up appearances in front of the cousins, I think. Even though I’m sure they all know better.

It was a really nice Christmas.

For convenience, Brandon, Kelly, Paul, and I all just spent the night at my parents’ place. We kept joking we were gonna all sleep in the middle of the living room and wait for Santa. In reality, I’m not sure where everyone ended up, except I slept in my mom’s bed with her and the dog because I’m an adult.

My mom wisely decided we have enough stuff, so she’s limited gifts to small–or useful–items and money. We got a portable scanner, which we’ve been needing, and a few other little things like DVDs, plus $150 cash each. Paul and I got a gift card to go buy ourselves a new kitchen table, a project we have yet to undertake, since Brandon got a MuchPak subscription and I couldn’t find anything similar I want. I got the monetary equivalent instead.

Our next stop was Paul’s parents’ place, which was again a lot nicer and calmer than anticipated. Well, except for the part where Paul’s grandmother started talking about how she doesn’t talk to “coloreds” with a tone that bordered on pride.

All things considered, though, it was a really good Christmas. Calm, simple, and nice.