Saturday 9: I Won’t Last a Day without You

Saturday 9: I Won’t Last a Day without You (1972)

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

1) This song makes reference to rainbows. Have you seen one lately? No.

2) When Sam heard this song, it occurred to her that she wouldn’t last a day without a game of online Yahtzee. What little commonplace pleasure reliably brightens your day? Probably most of the ways I unwind in the evening, like just messing around online or watching a movie or reading.

3) Richard Carpenter was emphatic that his group’s name was “Carpenters,” NO “the.” Whenever he hears the group referred to as “The Carpenters,” it gets on his nerves. What little commonplace annoyance reliably sets you off? Professional publications hyphenating adverbs. Incorrect hyphenating in general, really.

4) Karen Carpenter said she drank iced tea all day long. What beverage do you think you’ll have with your next meal? I’m having green tea at this moment, but after this, depends on the meal. Probably water.

5) “I Won’t Last a Day without You” was written by Oscar-winning composer Paul Williams. He also tried his hand at acting, most notably appearing with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. Back in the 1970s, the three movies in the Smokey series were very popular. Have you seen any of them? Nope. I’ll probably watch them someday because they’re so well-known, but I’m not confident I’ll actually like them.

6) This song was recorded in 1973 by Diana Ross. Now in her 70s, Miss Ross is still going strong with a busy calendar of appearances in 2017. What’s your favorite Diana Ross song? I don’t think I have one.

7) In 1972, the year this song was popular, the United States and the United Kingdom joined forces and launched the Copernicus satellite. Today it’s remembered for the discovery of long-period pulsars. Crazy Sam got bored writing this question. Do you enjoy reading about science? It depends on what it is and how it’s written. I can get bored easily and I’m not too science-oriented, which generally makes it better for me to watch something science-related than read it, but if the subject matter is interesting to me and/or if the writer handled it well, I can do it.

8) Before Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz was American’s premier Olympic swimmer. In 1972 he won seven Gold Medals. After making millions in endorsements and TV appearances, he settled into a career as a realtor in Los Angeles. Are you contemplating a change in residence any time soon? If you move, will you be consulting a realtor? My fiancé and I are slowly starting the search for a house, but with the wedding coming up in August, that’s at the very bottom of my to-do list, right above looking for a different job. It’s looking like if we look at anything, it’s gonna be squeezed in on weekends when we have no other plans, with the buying and moving process moving pretty slowly–our lease will need renewed soon enough that getting a house before then is not just unlikely but not too smart. But I’m guessing it’s more likely that the whole process will be put off until either after the wedding or when there’s no real planning left. We have talked a little bit to a realtor.

9) Random question: Which of these is completely, 100% UNTRUE of you — boring, lazy or stupid? I mean, I think they’re all a little true and a little untrue. I’m boring in the sense that my day-to-day life is pretty mundane, but I don’t think that I’m boring as an actual person. I’m lazy in the sense that I don’t want to walk across the room to get something, but I’m a hard, dedicated worker and I don’t put things off due to laziness. I’m stupid in the sense that I repeat the same bullshit mistakes and I’m not great at math that’s simple, but I’m generally intelligent and well-read.

Friday 5: Bizarro Cliche

  1. The Magic Word is “please,” but what’s the magic gesture? If it’s me trying to get something out of my fiancé, then just a little pout. It’s sillier than it sounds, though.
  2. “Big D” is Dallas, but where is Big G? How about Grandview Avenue in Pittsburgh? It’s up on Mt. Washington with a great view of the city.
  3. Elvis Presley is the King of Rock and Roll, but who’s the king of your personal music collection? It’s a shame I don’t have my collection totally up to date in iTunes, because I could find out for sure. My guess would be The Beatles, since I have the remastered box set. I feel like The Cure is probably a close second–I have the Join the Dots B-Sides and rarities box set, and if I don’t own every studio album they’ve done, I’m pretty damn close and I’m only missing ones that are harder to track down. And on top of that yet, most of the albums I do have are remastered multi-disk collections. And then there’s David Bowie. Now, I know I’m missing some stuff there, but again, box sets.
  4. The motherland is wherever you consider your family’s origins, but what’s the cousinland? Based solely on my love of the food, either Italy or Greece.
  5. CBS calls itself the Tiffany Network, but what would you call the Walmart Network? I want to say HGTV, but I’ll be honest, that’s mostly because it annoys me and it’s all basically the same.

From here.

Not too long after we saw Stevie Nicks in Philadelphia, she extended her tour and announced a Pittsburgh date. I was leaning towards not going, mostly because it was so soon after, but my mom talked me into it.

The day of managed to be this perfect mess of things that lead to the most pain-in-the-ass commute to a concert I’ve ever had without actually being late. It was supposed to work out great–my mom had to be in nearby Coal Center for work, so she’d come right over to my apartment when she was done. I ended up working a little late and was relieved when I hadn’t heard from her by the time I left because it meant she wouldn’t have to wait for me.

As it turned out, she was stuck in traffic. There had been not one but two accidents on the same interstate in the same area that day, and although that’s not the route she was taking, she did happen to be on a possible detour, along with everybody else trying to reroute. Meanwhile, I had to stop for gas, and out GetGo is in a real shitty location and is almost always busy, and someone was pulled in waiting for a pump in such a way that I couldn’t go around him and I couldn’t see around him, either, and make the left I needed to. So I decided to take a chance on going right, which I know from past experience isn’t a clean-cut, easily maneuverable block. I pretty much just guessed my way home, taking residential streets and making turns that felt right until I saw areas I recognized. It was a delay, but not a big deal.

We got in my building to find my key was getting stuck in the lock. Paul, who was taking Terra to what was ultimately a failed driver’s test, had fallen in mud on his way out and stuck his muddy key in the lock, which must’ve caused enough trouble to make it a real bitch for me to get my key in and unlock the door. After some trouble, I did manage to get it and Mom and I changed into lace clothes, the only appropriate attire for a Stevie Nicks concert.

She wanted to get into the city as soon as possible, so we were out the door and on our way. And then we hit traffic on a separate interstate that almost never has any trouble, and we sat in the usual parkway traffic, then the usual event traffic, finally making it to a restaurant across the street. It’s kind of a good thing we’d seen the tour before–we didn’t really care about seeing The Pretenders, so that gave us some time to meet up with Nolan and Brett and eat. How neither of us was in a cranky, hangry rage is kind of a miracle.

Fortunately, though, the saga ends there. We timed it well enough to get to our seats a little bit before Stevie took the stage, and she was great, as usual. Another bonus to going twice–she did “Landslide,” which she hadn’t done in Philly.

Mom decided to spend the night at my place, so we came back, had a snack, and went right to bed…because I had to work the next morning.

It’s just kind of one of those things that just didn’t work out great. It was my last Saturday on weekend rotation for March, and normally, since Saturdays are much more relaxed, I can choose my own hours and would’ve just gone in an hour or so later. But Stephanie’s baby shower was that same day at 2 an hour away, and I refused to miss it. My original plan was just to switch someone days to make my life easier, but when I ended up needing to do that at the beginning of the month for Pap Pap’s funeral, I decided against doing it a second time. It seemed silly to do it twice in one month. So instead, I worked with what I had. I knew it would be a pain in the ass, but I decided that the best thing to do was to go in early–I figured that way, I’d be leaving when it started and I’d be fashionably late but wouldn’t miss too much. So I slept for about four hours, then went to work, got out about when I planned, had a pretty easy drive, and made it to the shower about an hour in and fortunately had not missed anything other than snacks and mingling, which I made up for plenty after the gifts were all opened.

It was a nice shower, and I was glad I made it work. Some of the old crew was there and we all seemed to have a pretty good time talking and hanging out like we used to, which was nice, too. I hung around a little bit longer than the others since I’d been late, and Steph and I spent a decent bit of time bullshitting, the way ya do when you don’t see people often and they live an hour away.

So I was satisfied but, in the end, pretty fucking exhausted. It was a very distinct kind of tired, too–I’ve had days where I’ve gone into work after not sleeping well and end up struggling to stay awake if I’m not engaged in what I’m working on, but this was an entirely different thing where my eyes felt heavy the whole day and I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed at the end of the day, yet I was functioning fine.

Still, I was pretty happy to see my bed and not have to set an alarm for the next day.

So in the past month, Planet Fitness has opened in Washington, meaning I don’t have to go out to Castle Shannon after work and I save at least an hour, if not more, by not having to go there and come all the way back home every evening. I don’t have to deal with that terrible parking situation, either.

Also in the past month, we went to the church fish fry precisely once, but not because we didn’t want to go more. Paul and I got back into our warm-weath walking/walking routine, starting at the usual park but more recently branching out to trails in the area. We saw The Lego Batman Movie, which was great fun. My mom found a dress for my wedding.

And then I put myself through the rough combination of a concert, having to work the next day, and going straight to a baby shower after my shift.

Saturday 9: Don’t Sleep in the Subway

Saturday 9: Don’t Sleep in the Subway (1967)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) Subways can be bright and noisy. Do you need it dark and quiet before you can fall asleep? If I’m tired enough, I can fall asleep just about anywhere under any circumstances, but I won’t stay asleep. Like, if I fall asleep with the lights and TV on, I’ll eventually wake up annoyed.

2) In this song, Petula encourages her lover to talk it out instead of walking out. Do you usually remain reasonable during a disagreement? I tend to feed off of the person I’m arguing with unless I’m really pissed, so as long as they’re calm, I’m calm. I feel like my fiancé and I have the calmest fights in the history of romantic relationships.

3) Petula was a child star in England during WWII. Her BBC broadcasts were very popular with the British troops, who nicknamed her The Singing Sweetheart. Soldiers pasted her photo onto their tanks for luck as they went into battle. Do you have any little rituals or good luck charms that calm/comfort you when you’re afraid? Not really, but if it’s something serious, I’ll say a prayer.

4) Now 84, she recently told London’s Daily Mail that she’s surprised and thrilled to have found love again with a new man. Do you believe you’ll ever be too old for romance? I don’t think anyone ever is, and I think there’s the perfect person–and more than one perfect person–out there for everyone.

5) Her family is far flung. She lives in London, her middle daughter is in Paris, her son is in Los Angeles and her oldest daughter lives in New York with Petula’s two grandchildren. Who is your nearest friend or relative? Which one is farthest away? The closest is probably my fiancé’s parents, about 40 minutes away, with family and friends in various places an hour away second. The farthest is probably my cousin in Texas.

6) In 1967, when this song was popular, Rolling Stone published its first issue. John Lennon was on the cover. Publisher Jann Wenner reports that, either individually or as a group, the members of The Beatles have appeared on the most Rolling Stone covers. What’s the first Beatle song that comes to mind? “Twist and Shout,” because I heard it covered at a concert last week.

7) In 1967, Star Trek was in its second season on NBC. Who is your favorite Star Trek character? I’m gonna go with a Next Generation character and say Data. I remember watching it sometimes as a kid with my dad, and we went to see one of the movies together and the only thing I remember of it to this day is that the ship crashed, Data had a pet cat that was missing in the aftermath, and my favorite part of the movie was when he found it. I was pretty young, but I’m willing to bet nothing’s changed.
8) RANDOM QUESTION: When you slip into jeans or slacks, which foot do you put in first? I think my right?
9) As you considered #8, did you mime pulling on your pants? No, actually!

Friday 5: Ssssssh!

  1. What’s something sneaky you’ve recently done? My fiancé thinks we have too many silly mugs, and he is right–we’re running out of room. But I can’t help myself when I see mugs that say things like “Pizza Slut” with the Pizza Hut logo, so I’ve bought at least two or three without telling him and just slipped them into the cabinets hoping he won’t notice.
  2. Who or what do you feel the need to tiptoe around? My soon-to-be mother-in-law. I’m always careful about how much I tell her because she’s prone to overreacting and/or saying something rude. As a bonus, I tiptoe around the subject of wedding planning because I don’t want to hear her opinion on what she wants us to do. So I answer her questions, don’t give more information that she needs, and don’t bring it up myself.
  3. What’s the dirty secret about the field in which you work? I don’t know, and I feel like you’d get wildly different answers if you asked co-workers both current and former. On top of that, I signed an NDA, so I don’t think I could answer if I had one.
  4. What was the subject or your last whispered conversation? I’m not sure, but I feel like it was probably whispered in church. I haven’t really been involved in recent whispery conversations.
  5. What’s recently snuck up on you? Pretty much everything involving wedding planning. I feel like I still have a lot to do and that each month sneaks up on me without having made as much progress as I’d like.

When Terra’s mom first started dating this guy Dave, Terra didn’t like him and everyone just kind of thought, you know, typical kid–albeit adult kid–not liking Mom’s new boyfriend. But as time goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that she was picking up on something it took everyone longer to catch on to.

For as long as I’ve known her, Terra’s had health issues. After passing out a couple times, her doctors felt she shouldn’t be driving–even though she never passed out at the wheel or even in a car at all–and so she never got her license. And now, a few years later with no fainting and in her late 20s, her doctors have cleared her to drive.

Now, Paul and I are pretty used to being her ride, and a couple times that we’ve been over, she’s driven our cars to get some practice in. Obviously, we don’t mind helping her out, but thanks to Dave, getting her license is getting really complicated–her brother or sister-in-law could take her for her test, but they have the worst string of luck with cars I’ve ever seen. After lots of car trouble, they got a new one, only to have someone make a left turn on red and hit them maybe a week or so, if that, after they bought it. and they have a toddler and new baby on top of that. Most of her friends, including us, live about an hour away, so she’s got a limited pool of people who can take her.

And the kicker is Dave won’t let Terra’s mom take her own damn car for Terra to use for the test.

So guess who’s been having to take her? Me and Paul. Now, it would be one thing if we could just squeeze this in on Saturdays or weeknights, but no, PennDOT is the worst. There’s no testing in the evening, and certain offices only test on certain days. Terra schedules the tests based on her work schedule, and because they’re only in the middle of the day and we live an hour away, that means either Paul or myself has to take a day off to take her. For the most part, we’ve at least been able to coordinate with days we were already planning to take off, like the day after concerts or days coming off of weekend rotation. I don’t blame her for it at all, especially when she’s told her mom that the two of us doing this isn’t that practical, and as much as I want to tell her we can’t, it’s not right. Granted, it may come to that with a week already scheduled off for the wedding and me slowly running out of free days, but for now, I won’t, and I absolutely blame Dave. He lives with her mom nearby and there’s not a single good reason he can’t let her use the car–and on top of that, he had the nerve to ask her why we’re the ones taking her. Gee, I wonder.

So far, she’s struggled with parking, like we pretty much all did. She’s actually really good at it when she practices, and then when she takes the test, her nerves get her and she makes a mistake and fails. Meanwhile, Paul and I are sitting waiting for her like nervous parents with their teenager.

So we take her and she usually feeds us, and last time, we did a little bit of shopping to see if we could find her a dress for the wedding. We ended up at Century III Mall, which used to be a pretty busy place but is now, like, a wasteland.

The next attempt is this coming Tuesday, a day I took off because I switched days with someone back for Pap Pap’s funeral and will be doing six days at work this week, so I wanted to either shorten this week or next to feel like I had more than a one-day weekend. So Tuesday it is. She’s used Paul’s car the previous two times, so my hope is that my smaller car will suit her a little better on the parking front.

The only thing I did on my lone bereavement day was sleep in, then go get dinner and stop at the mall with Paul–a funeral was not a great time to discover that my waterproof eyeliner was running low and could give one eye a nice, crisp line but would leave the other looking, well, the way a pen does when it’s running out of ink.

There was also some confusion at work about it, as I had talked to my boss in person but hadn’t sent out an e-mail to the other supervisors about taking the day.

The aftermath of Pap Pap’s death was kind of strange, really. When my mom’s parents died, each time, their absence was noticeable. I mourned both of them and still do miss them, and it changed things. First, we had to adjust to holidays without Pap Pap and picking up Grandma for church instead of seeing her and Pap Pap already in their usual pew, and then when Grandma died, it changed that whole weekly routine a second time, and then we did things like sell the house and take her car. But because Pap Pap Moe, as I used to call him, was on the other of the state and he was what Terra put as politely as possible in calling him “a character,” I didn’t have those routines and the bond with him that I think I had with my mom’s parents. We weren’t close in terms of proximity or relationship, and since I had no regular interaction with him, it was almost like being detached from the mourning process entirely–it was like I traveled across the state for the funeral and then came home to everyday life like nothing had happened. It’s weird, and it’s completely different from the way things were with my mom’s parents. On the one hand, it’s not as hard on me as those were, and yet it feels a little surreal and even uneventful, and not just because of my reaction but because of the way my dad and uncles have handled it, too. Maybe it’s because they were all much younger when they lost their mother, even, I don’t know, but this death feels much less like a big, life-changing event for the family and more like just a thing that happened. And I don’t really know what to make of that. Part of me feels like I should have a stronger opinion, like I should care more or something, but part of me also knows that for one, there’s no right way to handle these things and that on top of that, this all makes sense, given the circumstances.

I did regret only taking one bereavement day. I believe I said on Twitter something along the lines of I was doing okay but funerals fucking suck–I was still sad. And traveling makes me tired and sometimes being sad makes me tired, and I was doing both, so I was sufficiently worn out by the time I got home. I only took one bereavement day because I knew I wouldn’t really need the time for travel or to mourn, at least not in the conventional sense, but I regretted it because I needed more down time. Mom and I talked about wanting to get into a bubble bath with a big glass of wine.

The world spins madly on, as the song goes, and by that Tuesday, it was back to work and daily life. I’ve still been going to the gym but indulging on occasion–we went to dinner right in town for St. Patrick’s Day and went to Rita’s on opening day for free ice but ended up leaving instead with fancy things packed with chunks of brownies.

And Terra’s quest to get her driver’s license continues and is becoming something of a saga, not because she’s a bad driver or anything but because it’s unnecessarily complicated.

My grandfather’s funeral was probably the simplest one I’ve ever seen.

With a snow storm expected, we decided to eat breakfast, do a slightly late checkout to work with the timeframe of the funeral, then head over to the tiny backwoods church where he would be buried.

Looking back at childhood trips to the area and now over a month out from the funeral, I’m grateful my dad and Uncle Clark did take us out there a couple times as kids, that I was able to at least recognize where I was and know where my grandma’s grave is. I was also glad that my introduction to the place wasn’t, well, a funeral.

We were all early because we’d actually left early to make sure we could find the place. We were the only ones who’d spent the night–the rest of the family, which was mostly just my uncles and cousins, drove out that morning, Uncle Eric with the hearse following him so they knew where to go. Leave it to Pap Pap to have a complicated funeral with a viewing on one end of the state, then the other, then back to be buried.

I should use it as a starting point for a work of fiction someday. Because it’s such a small graveyard behind a church and we beat the hearse there, we were waiting around a bit around an empty hole that partially exposed Grandma Carol’s grave next to him. For the record, she is most certainly not happy being buried next to him for eternity.

One of the relatives who lives in the area came–what’s interesting is that there were enough of us out there that a road near the church has the family name, which is pretty cool. And like, well, basically everyone else on that side of the family, he was…a character, cracking all sorts of jokes and making comments that normal people would probably consider inappropriate for a funeral.

We had a small prayer service with the family and the church’s priest, and then we pretty much went our separate ways. I told Uncle Clark I’d try to come out and visit, and he said he’d try to come home more. I know how people say things like that with good intentions but never do it, but I’m hoping we actually follow through.

I was exhausted when I got home. I’d only taken on bereavement day–although I should’ve taken the three I was allowed because damn it, I was tired and just needed a break–and the timing of when we left meant I had it to myself, which was nice. It gave me a day just to sleep in and chill out.

Saturday 9: This Is the Way the Bunny Hops

Saturday 9: This Is the Way the Bunny Hops
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) Why do you suppose there are so many songs about Santa Claus, yet very few about the Easter Bunny? I think Christmas in general is just easier to write about. Christmas at this point is associated with so many things that I think you can do a lot with it, and Sant Claus is a person and not a bunny, so that helps.

2) This song was written by The Kiboomers, two early education teachers who are passionate about the power of music to help kids learn. Tell us about a teacher who had an impact on your life. I could pick a few, but I think my college writing professor might be the biggest one. When I went into college, I had no intention of getting an English degree, but I couldn’t ignore the pull of it. The practical writing things and professional advice my classmates and I got was really valuable, and she was so sweet and encouraging. Writing can be hard and writers can be really hard on themselves, and she made me feel like I didn’t suck.

3) Legend has it that the Easter Bunny was introduced to America in the 1700s by German immigrants. These children waited for a magic creature who left colored eggs. Today’s kids dye Easter eggs themselves. When did you most recently color eggs? It’s easily been a few years, probably when I was still living at home–at I’ve been in my apartment for I think five years now, which is insane.
4) The Easter Bunny is usually shown carrying a wicker basket filled with eggs, toys and candy. Is there any wicker in the room you’re in right now? There may be an old little basket in here somewhere, but that’s it.
5) While marshmallow Peeps are manufactured all year around, they are most popular at Easter. Do you prefer the chicks or the bunnies? I don’t love Peeps as much as, well, everyone else I know, for one, and I avoid marshmallow because of the gelatin–I’m a vegetarian. So no preference.

6) A little time in the microwave can do ugly things to a Peep. Have you ever nuked a Peep? I think I have, but the much more fun story is the time my friend Marion and I played with chemicals in photography in high school trying to dissolve Valentine’s Day candies. Those little hearts and indestructible, and that scares me.

7) Would you prefer a hollow or a solid chocolate bunny? I mean, I really don’t need to be eating a solid chocolate bunny and a hollow one is definitely more intimidating, but hollow ones are also a cheap tease, you know? So I guess I have to go with solid, despite my misgivings.

8) A traditional American Easter dinner usually includes glazed ham or roast lamb. Which would you rather have as your main course? I’m a vegetarian, so neither, but if I had to pick, it would be the ham my grandma used to make.

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated? Sleep, of course, but also time spent outside in warm air and sunshine. Productive creative writing can do it, too, but depending on the subject matter, that can also just be exhausting. I think it’s most refreshing when it comes easily.