We always say we’re wanting to go to brunch when Tina’s serving up at Black Forge, but it seems the brunch schedule and our schedules never mesh. But at last, last Saturday, we had a free morning, so we went up for some coffee and a delicious sampling of quiches. And then we stopped at the mall on the way home because, I mean, might as well if it’s right there.

Paul’s co-workers are big fans of doing escape rooms and one of the nearby libraries set one up for free, so in the evening, we went to do that and ended up being the fastest team, escaping with 10 minutes left on a 30-minute time limit. As a result, we got put in for a drawing for prizes, and Paul’s name was drawn for a Starbucks gift card. Nice to go do something and get money for it instead of having to pay for it, plus that library was pretty nice. I know my brother visits that one a good bit and our library is connected to it and others in the county, I’ve just never stopped in.

And afterwards, a few of us went out to Mad Mex, because Paul and I can’t be within 15 minutes of the place and not go. It’s just so good.

Our favorite movie theater, Row House, was doing a sci-fi, memory-focused theme for the week, and they were showing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Blade Runner. As much as I would love to see Eternal Sunshine in a theater, I’ve already shown it to Paul–but he’d never seen Blade Runner. And if we’re gonna go, I’d rather go see something at least one of us hasn’t seen before. It’s part of what I love about Row House. It makes movies you have seen a little more fun, but because it exclusively shows older releases surrounding a different theme every week, you get a chance to see something that’s long left theaters on a big screen in surround sound.

Of the two movies, I think I enjoy Eternal Sunshine more, but as far as seeing something in a theater, Blade Runner was the right choice. I’d forgotten how beautiful its cinematography is, and when the movie started with those awesome, ridiculous noir-esque shots of what they thought of as a futuristic LA, I was really happy Paul’s first exposure to the film wasn’t on one of our laptops in our bed. Hilariously, the movie is set in 2019, and when that title flashed on screen, I laughed out loud. But also…Sean Young. That is all.

Wait, one final thing–approximately everyone out-acts Harrison Ford in that movie.

We seem to only do this when we go to Lawrenceville, maybe because it’s super easy to do it, but we make it a point to never eat at the same restaurant twice. We just kind of had the idea and stuck to it, I think because the first time we decided to eat in the area, we decided to just walk until we found something interesting, and in the process, we just saw how many neat restaurants there are. So we try something new every time, and usually, we choose just based on walking until we hit something we’ve never been to. It was a Sunday evening, so a few places were closing up, which made taco place Condado the winner.

Condado is essentially build-your-own tacos. They have a menu of suggestions to choose from, sure, but you can also just fill out what you want–basically the same concept as Burgatory, just with tacos. We opted for some of the suggestions, and I took it easy because both vegetarian options sounded spicy, and I went for the one that sounded less likely to destroy my tastebuds. I ended up being wrong, but that aside, it was a great taco. It also introduced me to jackfruit, which is apparently a pretty good meat substitute due to its texture and the fact that it takes on other flavors similar to the way tofu does.

So basically, despite eating a taco that was a little too much for me, I loved the place. Paul did, too, and it may put a wrench in our plans to just wander Lawrenceville for food.


I was toying with the idea of hosting a small party for New Year’s, but Terra beat me to it before I made up my mind. I think one day, I’d still like to do it, but for now, it can be tough for her to get out here and I wasn’t super committed to it, anyway.

And then Paul’s cousin Chelsea invited us to join her and her friends for some drinks, and we figured what the hell, we can do both–we pass through Pittsburgh on our way to Terra’s house anyway. so we can pop in, have some beers, then continue on our way for the rest of the New Year.

It ended up taking us forever to find parking, mostly because we were in a part of the city we don’t usually visit and one of the garages was closed. Because it took so long, we decided to hang out longer than we planned to, and I felt kind of bad because most of Terra’s other guests bailed and she was basically waiting on us. But we had fun hanging out and having some drinks before we hung out at Terra’s.

Now, she doesn’t have cable, and neither do we–so really, no matter what, we weren’t watching a ball drop unless we got on a computer and streamed it. But we opted to not bother and just wait and guess when the New Year started based on the influx of texts. It sounds really anti-climactic, but I found it pretty entertaining. I do enjoy New Year’s, but not to the point that it all hinges on watching TV.

We hung around for a couple hours, headed home, and crashed pretty hard, considering we were out until like 2 a.m., and enjoyed a lazy New Year’s Day.

Saturday 9: I Forgot to Remember to Forget

Saturday 9: I Forgot to Remember to Forget (1955)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
In honor of Elvis’ birthday (January 8.)

1) Elvis sings that he thinks about this girl all the time. What person or topic is on your mind this Saturday? My family. The week has been a run of bad luck, from job news to health issues. Nothing dire, just a bunch all at once.

2) He wants to forget the day he met his girl, but simply can’t. Think about someone very important in your life. Did you know right away that they were going to be influential? The first time I met my husband, he was super quiet–our younger brothers were best friends in high school, so we met at their graduation. He barely spoke, and in fact, when we went to dinner, due to the numbers, I ended up sitting with the parents on my own because I was the oldest and all he said to my was a reply to a joke my brother made at my expense when I was over with him after dinner. So nope, not at all.

Since this week’s song is about memories, let’s check on how well you recall events in your own life.

3) What was the first concert you ever attended? Technically, it was when I was a little  kid and it was a live performance from some kids’ show from the ’90s. But as far as a legit concert, Good Charlotte, when I was about 14 or 15 with my friend Stephanie.

4) Where did you get your first piercing? (Not only where on your body, but who did the deed and where did they do it?) I was six, and I had my ears pierced. A girl did it at a Claire’s in the mall.

5) What’s the name of the bank where you had your first checking account? PNC, and I still have that account. They had a table set up at orientation in college.

6) Tell us about your first bicycle. A pink Barbie bike. I think it had streamers on the handles, but I don’t think they last long.

7) Who received the first text you ever sent? I have no idea. Probably one of my friends at the time.

8) What had you been drinking when you suffered your first hangover? I don’t really get proper hangovers, even when I get drunk enough to warrant it. My brother doesn’t, either. Superior genes. However! The one time I did was the day after my 21st birthday party–I was taking a summer class and had class or an exam or something the day after my birthday, so that celebration was tame, but the party came that weekend. First of all, it was David Bowie-themed, and second, the drinking game Bros Icing Bros was a thing at the time–in short, if you’re presented with a Smirnoff Ice, you have to chug it, and one can hide Ices to be discovered. So first, there was one under a party hat in the center of my birthday cake, I found one in the bathroom, and I was probably presented with a couple more, plus we made Jungle Juice that was much stronger than it tasted. Now, when I get sick when I drink, it comes on hard and fast, and although I know people who puke and keep going, I puke and can’t stop puking for a long while, so once that started, I was done. I was lying on the bathroom floor for a long time that night. So the next morning, I felt like trash. But that’s not all! I mentioned a few questions ago that my husband and I met at our brothers’ graduation. Well, his brother Jacob’s party was the day after my 21st birthday party. My husband and I had been talking a little, and I even invited him to the party. I rode over with my parents since my brother was basically spending the whole day hanging out over there, and it was only like a 20-ish-minute drive, but I fell asleep. When we got there, my dad said to my now-father-in-law that my 21st birthday party was the night before, and he laughed and offered me a beer. I declined and ate instead, which made me feel much better, so then I grabbed a wine cooler and Future Husband started talking to me a lot the rest of the evening. So that’s how that started. He obviously now knows I was hung over that day, but I don’t think my father-in-law does. Frankly, he’d find it hilarious.

9) Whose was the first wedding you ever attended? I have no idea. My mom has a lot of extended family, so we’d get invited to a lot of weddings as a kid and I couldn’t tell you whose was first. My mom might, just going off of who got married when, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was at a wedding as a baby or toddler. There was a long succession of weddings as a kid, then a long dry spell in my teens when everyone was either married or too young, and then another small burst of them in the last few years when my cousins and my brother and I all started getting married.

Friday 5: My Dreams They Aren’t as Empty as My Conscience Seems to Be

  1. What’s got you behind the 8-ball? My husband got word today that his employer is moving production from their site down to Mexico. He has time to find a new job, but man, that is not the way to start the year, and obviously, it could put us in financial trouble.
  2. Who would you like to see a VH-1-Behind-the-Music-style documentary about? Honestly, I’d just like to see that show and other similar programming make a comeback.
  3. What are you likely to find behind your sofa? Cat toys and dust.
  4. What’s something you’d like to put behind you this year? Debt. Aside from the mortgage, because we’re obviously stuck with that for 30 years.
  5. What’s something you don’t want to eat if there’s no ketchup? French fries, unless they’re seasoned or they’re sweet-potato fries. Or my veggie burgers or fake chicken sandwiches. When I go out, other condiments and toppings are totally fine, especially places that make interesting burgers and if I have some other interesting condiment at home, fine, but I can’t have nothing on it.

From Friday 5.

Within a few months, my extended family will have three new babies. Two of my cousins are expecting, as are my brother and his wife. The first is due in February, and the last in May, and with everyone home for the holidays, the one in the middle, my cousin Casey, had her baby shower the Saturday right after Christmas.

I shit on bridal showers all the time, but I actually kind of like baby showers, mostly because having a get-together to help prepare for a new baby makes a hell of a lot more sense than a bridal shower, at least for some of us. Like, I may not have needed dishes and an iron, but when my time comes, I’m sure as shit gonna need basically everything for a baby. But I digress. It was a nice lunch in town, and afterwards, Kimmie and Aunt Barbara came over to my parents’ house to exchange Christmas gifts. Everything Kimmie gave me was cat-related, so it was perfect.

I hung around for a little bit longer, then in the evening met up with Marissa and Marion for dinner, which was nice. I’ve seen them both semi-frequently the last two months, between the holidays and weddings and things at our house, and especially now that Marissa’s living close-ish to us, I’d like to try to get together with her more. I texted her about hitting a movie this past weekend, in fact, but she had plans with her cousin.

All week long, Paul had been wanting to go see the new Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-Verse–his job shuts down from Christmas until after New Year’s, so although he did hang out with friends and family while I worked that whole week, he was also looking for stuff to do and asked me a couple days in a row if we could go see it, but the scheduling between when I finished work, when the movie started, and when he had tai chi or other plans wasn’t working out. On weekends where one of us is off on their own for a day, I try to find us something to do together the other day, even if it’s just a movie, so that Sunday, we finally made it to his Spider-Man movie.

I’ve never been much of a Spider-Man fan–my superhero leanings go Batman and X-Men. But Paul had heard good things and seemed pretty interested, so that’s what we ended up seeing. And it was actually really good and we really enjoyed it. Frankly, the series from several years ago just isn’t that memorable to me, so I think Into the Spider-Verse is probably my favorite of the movies.

Ah, siblings. You can always count on them to be a pain in your ass.

Paul opted out of the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert this year–in fact, he hasn’t gone since bass player David Z died tragically. So that left me to meet up with Brandon and Kelly in the South Hills to take the T, plus I wanted to hit Lush’s annual after-Christmas sale, where all seasonal items are BOGO. And that’s in addition to what I snagged online the minute the sale started. Like, I got myself two gift boxes worth $100 for the price of one, plus a few other small things.

For starters, Brandon and Kelly both had the day off and I did not, so while I wanted to join them to shop for the new baby, I really couldn’t. I told my brother I had to work and would get showered and head out as soon as I was done, and while I admittedly didn’t tell him what time I thought I’d get there, I figured it wouldn’t be until close to 5.

And the thing is, while friends have joked they’d become the ultimate lazy slobs if they worked from home and they’re not off-base there, when I do go out, I actually kind of enjoy the process of getting ready. Like, since I’m only putting on actual clothes and make-up on weekends, for the most part, I look forward to doing my make-up. So I’m not exactly taking my time with it. I don’t know what my brother expected, but that means I need a little over an hour to get ready, depending on things like whether or not I’m shampooing my hair. Or shaving.

I think Kelly was more realistic about how long I’d be. But alas, every so often, I could count on a text from Brandon asking what’s up or what I was doing or where I was or when I thought I was gonna get there.

Now, admittedly, we when we’re together, we probably get to be annoying just because we act like typical dumbass siblings, and on this night, we were being particularly childish–I intentionally pushed my chair out and smacked into him when he was walking behind me, he made fun of me, that kind of thing. And he managed to get cookies-and-cream ice cream on my white jacket. Just like old times!

But probably the biggest thing, and the one my mother finds hilarious, is that ever since they announced the pregnancy, he’s been asking me about our plans to have kids. I think he’s just anxious for us to have kids, too, which I get, but now when we hang out, I get lots of questions about if we’re actively trying to get pregnant or if I’ve taken a pregnancy test lately. I told my mom, and she laughed and laughed.

But otherwise, it was a fun night out–great concert, unusually warm weather, and we didn’t fuck up and miss the T this time.

We had a nice Christmas.

Paul had to work a short day Christmas Eve and I had to work a full one, but when we finished up, we got our stuff together and headed over to my parents’ for my mom’s family’s annual Christmas dinner. We all went over a little early to help out, which basically just means we all wanted to play with the dog.

And it wouldn’t be a holiday without my mom coming back while I’m getting dressed to say, “Your dad’s driving me nuts.” Ah, the true Christmas spirit.

It was a nice evening, and it included the gender reveal for Brandon and Kelly’s baby, as their appointment was that morning–they’re having a girl, and her name is real cute and pretty but is not to be announced until she arrives.

The original plan for the reveal, by the way, was my hair–I was gonna dye it accordingly. My hair appointment was a few days before they found out and our original plan was to lighten it and lift out the purple, but then I remembered that, you know, having to work Christmas Eve meant I wasn’t really gonna have time to do that, dye my hair, and get ready for the rest of the holiday. But my mom’s probably relieved it didn’t work out. She’d still be rolling her eyes at us if it had worked out.

All four of us–both kids and our spouses–spent the night, which my mom was adorably excited about. I kind of thought she’d think it was a pain in the ass having all of us over, but she was happy and I think we all had fun. Brandon and I kept saying we were gonna wait up for Santa, but naturally, everyone went to bed at a pretty reasonable hour.

In the past several years, maybe from my teens on, two things have always happened on Christmas–everyone gets up before me and has to bug me to get up and I insist on opening presents Christmas Day. We also usually start by watching the dog open his presents first.

My mom’s been adamant for the last few years that we don’t need more “stuff,” which is true, so she’s been sticking to a few small things to open and money–a lot of money, to be honest, and she’s very seriously thinking of not renewing her contract at work this summer and keeps saying she wants to do that kind of thing while she knows she still can. We appreciate it. Ours went to help pay off furniture before we got hit with interest on it this month. But I also got some makeup I’d asked for and Paul got a Henry Rollins book I knew he’d had his eye on.

Brandon and Kelly didn’t stick around too long in the morning before they headed to her family’s festivities, but Paul and I had a few hours to kill and hung out for a little bit. Then we made our way to his parents’ house for dinner, which was a smaller, more relaxed deal since we’d done all the gifts and such on Sunday while Julie and Michael were in.

We came home sometime in the evening to a cat who was not pleased with us for leaving her alone. It’s kind of sweet, honestly.

In the week or so leading up to Christmas, we crammed in as much of our usual Christmas stuff as possible–The Nutcracker, B.C. Taylor, an evening trip to Phipps to see their annual Christmas flower show, and plenty of get-togethers.

At this point, we’ll cram a ton of stuff into a day if it means seeing people we don’t get to see often. And that’s exactly how the day before Christmas Eve was. We started at my mom’s Aunt Elaine’s annual Christmas party and had a nice time eating and hanging out with everyone for a couple hours.

From there, we went to Paul’s parents’ house. Julie and Michael were in town but weren’t gonna stick around through the holiday, so we did our family gift exchange then. In the fall, we used the Internet to do a Secret Santa between the siblings and spouses/significant others–I got Josh and totally nailed it with a video game he wanted, but also a bonus of a chocolate game controller. Julie had me, and she got me a bunch of candles, vegan lip balms, and soap from a craft show up in Erie, which was pretty much perfect. Paul gave Katie a Cards Against Humanity expansion pack and fuzzy socks, and from Jacob, he got a dinosaur wine-bottle holder. On top of that, we got one of our late wedding presents, a signed, framed print from Paul’s favorite childhood book, Dinotopia. We knew it was coming, but there were issues with the original frame and it took them this long to get it fixed. Now we just need to figure out where to display it. But the big moment of the night was presenting Paul’s parents with their gift, a summer trip to Canada. Well all pitched in for it, and Julie was hilariously excited for them to open everything and figure out we were sending them on vacation.

After a couple hours there, we went to our last stop, my friend Leah’s annual Christmas party. She took a break from hosting it for a couple years but brought it back this year, and it’s one of those events that we love going to because of who we get to see there–she gets together a lot of our classmates who have moved away but come home for the holidays. Since we both had to work the next morning and had an hour’s drive home, we’d said we were gonna leave at 10:30. It would give us time to enjoy ourselves and would get us home late, but not so late that we’d be worn out the ext day. And besides, the next day was Christmas Eve, and at least there’s the promise of the following day off. If you’re gonna go into work tired from a night out, one day before a day off isn’t a bad way to do it. But then we got caught up playing games, and we ended up not getting in until after 1 a.m. Oops.

But I regret nothing. It was a busy day, we drove all over one county and back home to another, and we were exhausted, but we got to see a lot of people over the course of the day and we had fun. I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

Saturday 9: You Make Me Feel Brand New

Saturday 9: You Make Me Feel Brand New (1974)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

Welcome to the first Saturday 9 of 2019!

1) As 2019 kicks off, what are your hopes for the brand new year? To be able to save some money but also do some home improvements. I’m looking at you, new paint or siding.

2) Just because an item isn’t brand new doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Have you scored any fabulous finds at a second hand store or website? I’ve added some impressive pieces to my record collection, although I don’t think I have anything super valuable.

3) This song is sung by The Stylistics, a group from Philadelphia. Have you ever been to Philly? Yeah, but I’ve never done much there. Once I was just passing through by train and didn’t do anything other than eat and shop in the train station, and the most recent time was when I went to see Stevie Nicks, and we didn’t do much other than that, either. To be clear, that’s not a complaint. It was a great show.

4) This song was co-written by Thom Bell, a Philadelphia-based musician/producer who was born in Kingston, Jamaica. The average daily temp in Kingston in January is 87º. Do you have plans to get away this winter and go somewhere warm? Not concrete ones, but I wouldn’t be opposed to planning a weekend getaway somewhere. I am working Saturdays in February, though, so that month is out.

5) The Stylistics took their choreography very seriously. As you can see from the video, they even carefully synchronized their hand movements. Do you use your hands much when you talk? I don’t think I do as much as I used to, but who knows? Maybe I just don’t notice it.

6) The lyrics tell us that the singer is grateful for a friend who will walk with him along a path that “sometimes bends.” Looking back on 2018, tell us about a time that life’s path took a bend you didn’t quite expect. In 2018 alone? I don’t know that it did. Things progressed about the way I thought they would, although I didn’t really think my brother would beat me to having kids.

7) In 1974, when this song was popular, Chicago’s Sears Tower opened and was for years the world’s tallest building. Its elevators can carry you to the 103rd floor in approximately a minute. When were you last on an elevator? Not very recently–I just don’t go very many places where I need to use one. So maybe back in early December when I went to D.C. with my mom and her best friend. The elevator was necessary to go to and from our room.

8) Also in 1974, the 55 mph speed limit was imposed nationwide. When you drive, are you careful to stay within the speed limit? Or do you have a led foot? I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I still speed.

9) Random question — It’s time to pose for your Saturday 9 yearbook picture. Will you show us your right profile, your left profile, or will you look directly into the camera? Probably just direct into the camera, although my right side is my best.

Friday 5: There and Back

  1. What’s the worst thing about something (or someone) you like? Like a lot of men, my husband is not the greatest when it comes to helping out around the house, and it’s super frustrating. Dudes, if you’re living with a woman, please listen when she asks you to pitch in because way, way too many of complain that all of the domestic duties fall squarely on us no matter what we do or say.
  2. What’s the best thing about something (or someone) you dislike? I have on more than one occasion really, really disliked people who were also really, really funny. But I think sometimes we as a society give funny people a free pass for being shitty and shitty people say shitty thinks and try to pass them off as humor.
  3. What’s something best done in reverse order? Dessert first. It’s a cliche, but I have a sweet tooth and rarely room for a full meal and then dessert.
  4. What’s something you wish you could unsee or unknow? Ooh, I don’t know. Part of me wants to say I wish I didn’t know what some people are really like, but then I just feel like that’s important information to have. And I feel that way about a lot of things, I guess. “Ignorance is bliss” is a saying for a reason.
  5. What’s the most recently released movie you’ve seen more than once? Probably Thor: Ragnarok. We rarely make it to the movies as is, so it’s not like I’m seeing something in theaters twice, and at home, we’re tackling our Netflix queue. But we saw Thor in theaters, then I believe it got thrown on at a friend’s house and at my in-laws’.

From Friday 5.