Saturday 9: Back in the USA


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

1) This song lists seven cities — New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge and St. Louis — that Linda just loves. How many have you visited? Just two–New York and St. Louis.

2) The lyrics refer to hamburgers sizzling on the grill. What toppings do you believe make a perfect burger? I don’t know that I have specific ones–something that adds some crunch and/or something unique. I’ve had some really interesting burgers with apple on them.

3) The original recording of this song by Chuck Berry has always been one of Linda Ronstadt’s favorites, one she used to enjoy singing along with in the car. What’s the most recent song you sang? I’m not sure, because a lot of what I’ve listened to in the past day or so has been new, so I don’t know the words. I haven’t had a radio-blasting belt in a few days.

4) Linda sang The National Anthem at Game 3 of the 1977 World Series. The New York Yankees won both that game and the series. How is your baseball team doing this season? It’s the Pittsburgh Pirates, so that tells you all you need to know.

Since this is our last Saturday 9 before Independence Day, let’s ask some questions about the holiday. 

5) During the Revolutionary War, General Washington celebrated the 4th of July by giving his troops a double ration of rum. Will you imbibe any spirits on Independence Day? Most likely–we’re having a small thing with just our parents and siblings, and I’ll probably have a few drinks.

6) The first man to sign the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, said he wrote his name so large King George could see it, even without his glasses. Do you require glasses for reading? I could go without them to read, but I am nearsighted. Without my glasses or contacts, I can read what’s on my computer screen, for example, but it’s all blurry. Since books are a little closer to my face, I don’t have a problem with them, although I wear glasses or contacts almost constantly anyway.

7) Since July 4 is a federal holiday, banks are closed and there’s no mail delivery. Thanks to email and ATMs, Sam finds going withoutthose services isn’t a hardship. What about you? Will you find it inconvenient that banks and the USPS are closed on July 4? Nah. I’ll probably be home all day, payday isn’t until the 10th, and I can use cards if I have to and access my account online.

8) The first 4th of July parade each year is held at 12:01 AM in Gatlinberg, TN. Will you attend a parade or fireworks to celebrate the 4th? Maybe fireworks–I’m not sure what we can see from the new house, but the apartment we’re moving out of is right in the middle of the festivities. We’ll probably skip the parade, even though said apartment is on the parade route. Like, they line up across the street and block the road our parking lot is on.

9) More and more Americans celebrate our nation’s holiday by eating foods from Italy and Germany. For the July 4, 2016 holiday, more than $50 million was spent on Italian sausage and bratwurst. What’s on your 4th of July menu? Not sure yet. Maybe we’ll see how the grill at the house works and what everyone wants to bring.

Friday 5: Scattergories

The letter I got was “M.”

  1. What’s a movie you love whose title begins with the letter? “Mad Max: Fury Road.” A lot of woman I know kind of dismiss it a your run-of-the-mill action movie, but I’m all, “Fuck yeah, feminism in a dystopia!” Which explains a lot of my viewing habits lately, actually. I’m looking at you, “Handmaid’s Tale.”
  2. What’s a popular tourist destination whose name begins with the letter? Myrtle Beach.
  3. What’s something you do, whose name begins with the letter, when you’re very happy? I got nothin’.
  4. What’s a frightening animal whose name begins with the letter? I don’t know. I think I like all the “M” animals, although if there’s a reptile or bug that starts with it, there’s your answer.
  5. Who’s a person you admire whose name begins with the letter? Mom! Okay, that’s not her name, but that is her title, and I’m sticking with it. I think I’m realizing just how similar she and I are as I get older, and it’s hard to tell what’s been learned and what’s just genetic–but either way, she’s been a great role model, and I have started to attribute a lot to her. My husband had a stay-at-home mom while my mom worked, and while I’m not saying one is better than the other, I think I gained a lot from her example that I might not have if she had been a homemaker. She works hard, she takes no shit, she’s funny, she gets shit done, and she hasn’t really let anything stand in her way. I mean, she got pregnant in college and graduated early, then became a CPA with two young kids at home. I mean, no wonder I don’t feel like I need to chose between a family and a career. We always got along really well, but we’d clash–our personalities and tempers are very similar–but now that I’m out on my own, it rarely happens. I say more and more now that one of the great things about growing up is the way the dynamics with your parents change, and now we just go to concerts and gab. She’s pretty great.

As always, from Friday 5.

Progress on the house has ramped up a bit this week. Floor installation is at last full speed ahead–we’re still not quite ready to move in, but some rooms are done and ready at least for some boxes and small pieces of furniture to go in. We were hoping to be ready to move in this weekend, which didn’t work out, but maybe next. At the very least, bedroom furniture gets delivered Wednesday and we’ll still need to order a mattress after that, but once that’s in, we can sleep there, even if we still have things to get out of the apartment.

So since yesterday ended up not being move-in day, we headed out to a bar back towards our parents’ places–which we still call “home” a lot–to see my friend Emily’s boyfriend play a little acoustic set and had ourselves a grand time. Hung out, had some drinks, heard some tunes.

Today was housework/errand day. There’s not much left to do in the place right now, but we are having to regularly cut the grass now, so we’ve been doing that every few days or so. With our new battery-powered mower, we get a good chunk of the yard cut before the battery needs charged, but with nothing to do while it charges, we usually just wait and come back later to finish. So this afternoon was dedicated to the very back of the yard, where I didn’t make it yesterday, plus laundry and grabbing a few gardening tools. We ended up making a couple trips back and forth, but the good thing is we stopped at the apartment in between and took a couple boxes full of things over to the house. The goal is to slowly empty the place of non-necessities so that come time to move furniture and then ultimately the end of the lease, it’s easy to do and we’re just left with going through junk and cleaning. The funny thing is as things get carried out of the apartment, it looks much cleaner and more organized. I keep joking that we’ll have everyone over when it’s half empty so they’ll have a much higher opinion of it than they would if they’d walk through the door this very moment.

We’d like to keep doing that throughout the week, as long as we’re not in Paul’s dad’s way while he finishes the floor. I think we can make respectable progress.

Saturday 9: Shut Up & Dance

Saturday 9: Shut Up + Dance (2014)

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

1) This is about a man who meets the woman who is his destiny on the dance floor. Do you think we each have One Great Love preordained by fate? Or do you think life offers each of us many opportunities for romance? Many opportunities. With so many people in the world, we’re bound to have multiple possible soulmates.

2) Lead singer Nick Petricca says this song is inspired by a true story. He was all keyed up and his girlfriend dragged him onto the dance floor, insisting that dancing would cheer him up. Therefore he considers this song an “anthem to letting go and having fun.” Think of the last time you really had fun. Who were you with? What were you doing? I always have fun! I think the last time I had a true, proper good time was a couple weeks ago at Kennywood.

3) The dance floor incident that inspired this song took place in Echo Park, an LA neighborhood located near Elysian Park and Chinatown. Tell us about your village or city. Do the neighborhoods have interesting names? Not where I live, but Pittsburgh has places like Oakland and Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and the Strip District. My husband always says the small towns around here have interesting names, like Fairchance.

4) Walk the Moon promoted this record by a performance on Good Morning America. Are you enthusiastic and energetic at 7:00 AM? Or do you hit your stride later in the day? I mean, I’m functional. I’m not usually sluggish, but I am at my best a couple hours into the day, at lease.

5) “Shut Up + Dance” is the biggest hit by Walk the Moon. The bandmembers met as at Kenyon, Ohio’s oldest private college. Tell us about something that’s old and revered where you live. There’s Washington & Jefferson College a few streets away from where I am right now.

6) Walk the Moon took their name from the Police song, “Walking on the Moon.” What’s your favorite song by Sting and/or The Police? Probably “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.

7) In 2014, the year this song was popular, Robin Williams took his own life. What’s your favorite Robin Williams performance? Ooh, I don’t know. My childhood makes me partial to the Genie and Mrs. Doubtfire, but his dramatic roles were great, too.

8) Also in 2014, the Apple Watch was introduced. Are you wearing a watch as you answer these 9 questions? Nope. I never wear a watch.

9) Random question — You must create a coat of arms for yourself, representing your life and spirit. Which of these items would you place at the center: a heart, a sword, or a pen? A pen, since I’m a writer.

Friday 5: Busy

  1. What kind of specialized equipment do you own for a specific non-electronic hobby or job? Most of my hobbies don’t really need much specialized equipment, but guitar stuff–mostly things like strings, tools to change the strings, and a tuner. I haven’t played in easily a few years, but once we’re doing moving, I intend to prioritize it again.
  2. In what way can this equipment be upgraded or souped-up, and how difficult or expensive would the update be? I mean, as far as the actual guitars, there’s always all kinds of stories about the ways musicians beef up their guitars. Unless we’re talking a simple string change, almost anything’s gonna be expensive.
  3. In your fields of interest, what’s the gear envy like? I mean, I feel like every person who plays guitar has looked at another guitar and gone, “Holy shit, I want that one.” But we also love our guitars because they’re ours. I have four, and my first electric and first acoustic will always be special. My favorite is my red acoustic one, though, because it’s so pretty.
  4. What’s something you own the old version of because it’s better than the new version? I say this all the time for questions like this, but I still buy both books and CDs–DVDs, too, but those seem a little more acceptable to have these days. Music just isn’t the same for me if it’s a bunch of files on a device, and books are kind of the same. I also just don’t like relying on electronics for everything.
  5. What’s a hobby you don’t engage in that intrigues you mostly because of its equipment or tools? It’s not really because of the tools–or maybe it kind of is–but I’m fascinated by glass-blowing. I’d love to take that up, but I definitely don’t have the space and I hear it’s expensive on top of that. There is a place in Pittsburgh that does classes and small crafts, though, and I’d love to remember to go do on sometime.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Cat’s in the Cradle

Cat’s in the Cradle (1974)

This song was chosen in honor of Father’s Day. Hear it here.

1) This song began as a poem, written by Harry’s wife Sandy before the couple even met. Have you ever tried your hand at writing poetry? Long, long ago. I used to write songs, though, and that’s practically poetry.
2) The lyrics include a reference to “The Man in the Moon.” The original Mother Goose rhyme ends: “It’s time for the children on earth to think about getting to bed.” Do you remember what time your childhood bedtime was? I don’t, but my parents will tell you that I almost always went to bed willingly because I was tired, so it doesn’t really matter. I do remember a point in elementary school where I was negotiating for it to be later because of something I wanted to watch on TV, but I don’t remember what that was or if I won. I probably didn’t.
3)  When did you go to bed last night? I screwed myself up because I fell asleep on the couch for like two hours and ended up not falling asleep until around 11 or later, but because I have to be at work at 7 a.m., I try to go to bed at 9:30.

4) In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the proclamation that made Father’s Day a holiday on the third Sunday in June. Can you name all 45 Presidents? (No, you don’t have to list them here.) Nope.

5) Since Sam’s father is particular about his Cole Haan loafers, her Father’s Day present to him is always a DSW gift card. Who on your gift list is especially easy to buy for? Neither of our dads, although mine is slightly easier because he’s a foodie, so I’m normally able to find him something. His last two gifts were an olive-oil infuser and a cheesemaking kit. Overall, my mom is the easiest, and my husband and I always have a really easy time with his youngest sister. It’s to the point where if we’re trying to spend the same amount of money on all the siblings, we buy for her last because if we let hers dictate everyone else’s spending, it’s a nightmare trying to find as much stuff.
6) Sam’s father is a voracious reader. So much so that the local librarian knows him on sight and by name. When did you last visit your neighborhood library? Today! My library lets you renew something a max of two or three times so that in the end, the longest you can have an item out is six weeks. Normally, I make decent progress and have to double down on a book in the last few days, but I’ve been so busy lately that I made so little progress on what I had out that I didn’t bother trying to finish it. So I returned it today and got something new, but I intend to check the previous unfinished book back out again next time.
7) Back when Sam was in high school, her father gave her driving lessons. Do you consider yourself a good driver? Sure do!
8) He is a stickler about car maintenance and reminds Sam to check her car’s air filter regularly, because a dirty air filter can reduce mileage. Share your own car maintenance tip. Man…I have none.
9) Whenever he fills up the car, Sam’s father also stocks up on his favorite candy: LifeSavers. So Sam is celebrating Father’s Day by giving everyone a roll. Would you prefer Wild Cherry, Butter Rum, Winter Green or Peppermint? Wild Cherry!

Friday 5: Opposite Day

  1. What food, normally eaten cooked, do you prefer uncooked? This doesn’t technically apply, or only half does, but I’m weird about my cooked vegetables. Unless they’re in soup, I don’t like them to get soft. I think it’s gross. I prefer to still have a little crunch, especially when I make stuffed peppers or if I have things like carrots and broccoli in a stir fry. My husband makes fun of me for this a lot and says I don’t like my vegetables cooked, I like them warm. I say this is an exaggeration, but if you ask him, he’ll insist.
  2. What food, normally eaten uncooked, do you prefer cooked? This still only half counts, but I know people who love raw cookie dough and I won’t touch it. Give me actual cookies.
  3. What food, normally eaten cold, do you prefer hot? I wouldn’t say I prefer one over the other, but my grandma’s potato salad. It’s served cold and that’s how I eat almost every time, but just like my mom, I enjoy the occasional bowl microwaved for like 30 seconds. It brings out some of the flavors more.
  4. What food, normally eaten hot, do you prefer cold? Probably nothing. If it’s served hot, that’s generally how I prefer it. I don’t even like cold pizza very much, even though it’s a childhood sleepover breakfast staple.
  5. What are your favorite dinner meals to have for breakfast and breakfast meals to have for dinner? Now we’re delving more into my kind of rigid ideas of meals and other things my husband teases me about. I can’t eat anything but traditional breakfast foods for breakfast–cue him sarcastically saying, “Oh, that’s right, you won’t eat anything that’s not eggs in the morning.” That’s what I want when I wake up in the morning, and I don’t like to eat any other foods in the morning. The one exception, and it’s only barely an exception, is cake for breakfast. I love having leftover cake for breakfast after a birthday. I had wedding cake for breakfast the day after our wedding. However! Strangely, I can do breakfast for dinner. I still prefer traditional dinner foods, but I won’t turn down scrambled eggs and pancakes for dinner. In fact, one of my favorite events in college they did every semester was Moonlight Breakfast, where one night during finals week, late at night, they’d serve breakfast in the cafeteria. And it was free! We always used to look forward to that. It was the highlight of finals week, outside of finishing finals and being on break.

As always, from Friday 5.

I’m usually pretty good about reading my body and listening to it, but I fucked up this week and I’m home sick yet again, just a few weeks after having an ear infection. The good news is at least it’s not another ear infection.

The thing is, I woke up the day after my cousin Casey’s wedding with a bit of a sore throat, but I dismissed it. I was at a wedding, talking over a DJ (which is why when we picked a half-indoor, half-outdoor venue, we opted not to have the music piped outside, and I think this is one of the smartest decisions we made for the day), drinking, dancing, and running all over the place running errands, so I kind of figured I just wore my throat out.

The day after a wedding is not an ideal day for a company picnic at Kennywood, but it’s free, so who cares? While we were getting ready to go, my dad texted to say he and my mom were stopping in town for breakfast on their way home from their post-wedding hotel stay and that we were welcome to join, so we took them up on it, bought Paul new walking shoes since he wore a hole in his current ones, then made it to the park by early afternoon. Getting there when it opens is the better plan, but again, free trip, and my company’s picnic is at the same place next month, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure to cram in a lot.

The thing with me and amusement parks is I’ll gladly go on some low-intensity rollercoasters and can be peer-pressured into riding, like, proper thrill-seeker coasters. But the thing with my husband is he is not the thrill-seeker type, so if one of us says, “I don’t want to ride that,” the other is a little took okay with it. The exception is he wants to go on the Skycoaster, where you go up in a harness and go down with a ripcord, kind of like a bungee-jump-type deal, and…nope. It’s not the height so much as they way people swing a ton after the initial drop, and I already can’t handle rides that swing, like pirate ships or this other ride that’s just a huge swing that puts you parallel to the ground eventually. It’s one of the few things that makes me feel sick. That and excessive spinning.

Weather-wise, it wasn’t the greatest day for an amusement park. We never got a proper rain, but we had some drizzle and skies dark enough that they shut down some rides temporarily, including one just after we’d made it on. Still, though, we were able to ride everything we wanted, and we had a fun time.

Plus I was off Monday–I have three weeks of vacation time now and I’ve barely used any, so whenever I want a day off from here on out, I’ll request a second one, too. So I gave myself an extra long weekend, which was especially nice with a wedding one day and a trip to Kennywood the next. I really need downtime in my weekends, so taking off Monday gave me both that and Sunday to just kind of lounge. And cut grass at the house, and it turns out I kind of enjoy cutting grass. I mean, a fancy, brand-new self-propelled lawnmower helps, but still.

This is probably the most stereotypical first-world thing one could say, but man, it can be hard to use three weeks of vacation time and three floating holidays in a year when you have no travel plans.

I mean, we’ve talked about taking a vacation, but because I’m a genius who decided to plan a wedding and buy a house less than a year later, we’ve just kind of been busy with one thing after another. But when one of your cousins gets married on a Friday, even when it’s minutes away from your work and you could easily only take off an hour or so, you think, “Fuck it, I have the days,” and not only take that day off, but you take the following Monday, too. Because why not give myself a few four-day weeks in a row? I’m probably doing it again next week after a concert.

This is why we didn’t do a Friday wedding, by the way. We didn’t want to deal with the schedule shuffling.

Meri came in for the wedding but was only gonna be around for a few days, so one of the ways opting for that Friday off paid off was that it freed me up to stay out late Thursday night and hit up trivia night out at Bud Murphy’s. It ended up being a small thing–just me, Nolan, Meri, and Emily–but it was nice and fun, although we didn’t win, and at least we got to hang out outside of the wedding.

The downside, as I told those cousins, was I’d said we’d make cookies, and after a few things during the week preventing me from doing the last batch, I ended up doing it the morning of the wedding.

Paul and I both ended up going all over the place Friday morning. He went into work for a half-day, and I stayed at the apartment to do a batch of lemon cookies. Now, I’d gotten a lemon–a whole damn lemon–with Greek food from the farmers’ market the week before and didn’t use it, so I had it for me cookies. Except I left it at the house. The good news is the house is just a 10-minute drive from the apartment, so I was able to go over real quick, but it just made the morning kind of a pain in the ass. I was planning to go over later in the day to do laundry, but since I had a batter started before I realized I didn’t have my lemon, I decided not to bother doing stuff like that and to do it later. So I got my lemon, made my cookies, gathered the laundry, stopped at the house, put the laundry in, pulled other cookies out of the freezer, took all the cookies to the hotel, went to the gym, and in between all that, I hoped Paul could stop at the house to move the laundry to the dyer to save me some time, but he had some mishaps of his own and basically went the wrong way down the highway on two separate trips.

The good news is the rest of the day went a lot smoother. We got all dressed up, headed over to the very lovely wedding, and drank and danced most of the night. He kind of crashed and got really tired and I wanted to keep going, but with most of the cousins and my brother gone, I had no one to dance and drink with. Plus it was almost over and we had his company picnic the next day, so we went home.


Saturday 9: (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me

Saturday 9: (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me (1981)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) Ronnie Milsap sings about how worrisome it can be when you realize you forgot to pay a bill. It’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it? Tell about about a time you accidentally missed a payment. The thing about still living in your apartment just after buying a house is that when we did the homeowners’ insurance, they naturally updated the address, so the bills for our cars are going there. We stop over a couple times a week, I’d say, but when we’re doing that on our way to or from another place, I easily forget about bills that show up–I have a habit of leaving them in the car, and then I forget about them. So I missed more than one insurance payment and got an e-mail saying they were gonna cancel our insurance for non-payment. Whoops. At least I was able to pay immediately and fix that.

2) He also references a dream that keeps him awake. Do you have any recurring dreams? I’ve had recurring themes recently of pregnancy and babies, which I attribute mostly to the subject coming up in conversation. But still, it’s weird.

3) He sings about the face you see in the crowd. Tell us about someone you see regularly, but don’t really know. A lot of coworkers, honestly. Our jobs are very solitary and don’t allow for a ton of socializing, so other than the few who eat lunch around the same time, I barely know most of them.

4) He mentions the book that you just can’t put down. What’s the last book that you finished? Democracy in Chains, which is basically about the way the radical right is attacking different political institutions and trying to dismantle certain things and also deals a bit with the influence of millionaires on American politics.

5) Ronnie Milsap is a big fan of new technology, and believes the advancements make both his professional and personal lives easier. What about you? Do you embrace new technology? Or do you long for the good old days, when we weren’t so connected to personal devices? I am a firm believer that it’s all about how we use it and technology gets blamed for things that humans are really responsible for–like, the whole attitude that people spend too much time on their phones? Then put down your phone. But I kind of fall in the middle of the two camps in this question. I embrace things that make sense for my life, but I’m not gonna run out and get the brand-new anything. I’m the type that’ll hold on to something until it’s broken beyond repair because I don’t see any need to upgrade if what I have now is working just fine. But there are some things that I just don’t really care for and don’t use, even if I can understand why other people do. Books, CDs, and, to a lesser extent, DVDs are the best example of this. I like having tangible collections of things rather than relying on devices to supply all that to me. If we lose Internet or power, even if it’s rare and short-lived, I’ve got an apartment full of ways to entertain myself.

6) As a child, Ronnie used to surreptitiously listen to late night radio, especially gospel broadcasts. When you were a kid, what rule did you break again and again? I’m a repeat offended for almost everything. I’m not sure why, but it’s almost definitely tied to my stubbornness. If I did it once, I’m probably gonna do it again sooner or later. So I can’t think of something, partly because I got in trouble for the same shit over and over. I was a backtalker, that’s for sure–my brother would do what he was told, and I’d argue.

7) Country star Blake Shelton says Ronnie Milsap was a big influence on his music. Do you watch Blake on The Voice? On occasion–I don’t have cable at home, but I’ve seen it at my job. And for the record, I think The Voice is the best of the singing-competition shows. I know American Idol has moved away from showing awful auditions, but the whole practice of putting someone on TV intentionally only to be annihilated by the judges and then made fun of by America was cruel and so off-putting to me. The Voice is, and always has been, so much more positive, and I’ve got a few albums and songs in my collection that are from people who appeared on that show, whether they won or not.

8) In May, Ronnie appeared at the Choctaw Casino in Grant, OK. Do you enjoy games of chance? Gambling is in my genes.

9) Random question — When did you last “do it yourself” and repair something around the house or yard? I mean, my husband and I both do this regularly–not that things often need repaired, but that when they do, we can almost always handle it ourselves. We currently have a malfunctioning lawnmower which isn’t completely fixed but is getting there. And we’re also doing a lot of small upgrades on our new house ourselves. We did all the painting ourselves, and he and his dad ripped out old carpet.