Figures that when I leave the house for something fun, I’m rewarded with a cold.

I spent just about all of last week congested–it’s still hanging around a tiny bit, but I feel much, much better. I fell asleep Monday evening after work and was pretty much out all night and felt much better Tuesday.

Last weekend was a lazy weekend, mostly, with running errands and hanging out at home, and this weekend was busier. I spent my Saturday morning getting my hair dyed–and it looks awesome–and we stopped by a home show in town on Sunday that was kind of underwhelming, although it might’ve been just that it didn’t have much that we needed.

Sunday night we went to see Jukebox the Ghost, which is practically an annual concert at this point–they typically come once a year around the spring, and this had to be like the fourth or fifth year in a row we’ve gone. They were fantastic, as always, and they’ve got to be one of my favorite bands at this point.

I was originally gonna take Monday off, but somehow in a short span of time, a bunch of other people had that idea, too, so I got up for work like normal yesterday, took a nap for my lunch break, and otherwise tackled the day.

Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful

Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) Lana Del Rey wrote this song for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. She wanted it to reflect the feelings of Daisy Buchanan. Have you read The Great GatsbyI haven’t, strangely. For being a bookworm, I have of a lot of bizarre gaps when it comes to books that are considered classics, partly because for some reason they were never taught when I was in school and partly because I haven’t gotten around to them otherwise. That’s one of them.

2) In the 1970s, Robert Redford portrayed Jay Gatsby. In the 2013 version, Leonardo di Caprio played the part. In real life, both “Gatsbys” have helped raised funds for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Are you careful about recycling and conserving water/electricity? Recycling, yes, and electricity as much as possible. I try not to leave lights on in rooms I’m not in, and during the day, if it’s bright enough, I’ll open the blinds in my office and turn the lights off, but that’s also a preference. I’d do everything by natural light if I could.

3) Lana Del Rey admits that she dropped out of college because she simply could not get the required math credits. When confronted with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, do you do it in your head? Reach for pencil and paper? Or do you take advantage of the calculator that’s on your desktop or phone? I can do it in my head, but as the numbers get bigger, I’m gonna need pencil and paper–sometimes I don’t even need to actually write it out so much as look at it. I mostly use a calculator when I’m being lazy or when I’m doing something like calculating how much of a tip to leave because I just don’t feel like working that one out every single time I go out.

4) She enjoys Kurt Cobain, Eminem, Elvis and Sinatra. Which of those four gentlemen did you listen to most recently? Sinatra, I think. I definitely had Sinatra on within the last few days. I also have Elvis’ greatest hits in my collection and a little bit from Nirvana and Eminem. The funny part is of the four, I probably listen to Sinatra the least.

5) Speaking of Sinatras, she has described her high maintenance look — big hair, long nails, elaborate eye makeup, full lips — as “Gangster Nancy Sinatra.” How long does it take you, on an average day, to prepare to face the world? On an average day, about a minute because I work from home and don’t face the world at all–I just roll out of bed and do a few things as part of my morning pre-work/wakeup routine. If I’m leaving the house, anywhere from 15 minutes to a little over an hour. It varies wildly based on if I’m going to the gym, which is long enough to change clothes, or if I’m just going out to a movie or something, which is probably 45 minute to shower and put on a little makeup, or if I’m going somewhere more fun where I want a full face of makeup. It also depends on if I’m shampooing my hair, but if I’m leaving the house, I probably am.

6) She’s a big soccer fan, and her favorite team is Liverpool FC. Here in the US, college basketball fans are currently obsessed with March Madness. What’s the last sporting event that you watched? Hockey, but without cable and a decent streaming subscription, I don’t watch that nearly as often as I’d like to.

7) Her younger sister, Caroline, studied photography and is responsible for some of Lana’s publicity pictures. Have you ever gotten a job because of a relative? My dad asked a reporter he knew if the local paper needed anyone when I was in college, which I really fucking hated because I didn’t want my dad to be trying to get me a job–especially when he’s complained about my grandfather doing the exact same thing. They didn’t just take me, though. They looked at my work from school, hired me as a stringer, and ultimately offered me a part-time job shortly after I graduated, but I’d already accepted a full-time job elsewhere. Honestly, if they’d gotten to me first, I would’ve taken it.

8) In 2013, when this song came out, Pope Francis became the first pope from a Latin American country. Latin America generally includes Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. What’s the farthest south that you’ve ever traveled? Mexico.

9) Random question — What button would you prefer your life to have: rewind, fast forward or a pause? Hmm. Pause, I think, to stop and let some of the most fun times last a little longer, followed by rewind to go back to some of the best times and be back in that moment. I don’t think I’d want fast-forward at all. Even if I could use it to skip the bad things or even to jump to things I’m looking forward to, I don’t like the idea of skipping so much.

Friday 5: Clicker Is Quicker

  1. What’s something you’d like to increase the volume of? My work computer. Even when the volume is turned up all the way, it’s sometimes not good enough and I have to resort to using my earbuds, which I hate.
  2. Who would you like to mute? Donald Trump.
  3. When was your body (or part of your body) most recently scanned? Does the eye doctor count?
  4. What part of the upcoming weekend would you like to skip? None of it, really. I get my hair dyed tomorrow and we’re probably going to a home show after that, and Sunday night, we have tickets to see Jukebox the Ghost.
  5. Whose input could you really use right now? No one’s. I don’t need it.

From Friday 5.

There are very, very few concerts I’ve been to where shit just didn’t go well, and even at that, even fewer where shit just didn’t go well to the point that it overshadows my memories of the actual show. Normally, maybe someone in the crowd is a dick or something and you move on and that’s it. But somehow, of the two times I’d seen Mumford & Sons in the past–who I adore–shit just marred the experience for me, and that’s hard to do.

The first time, I got tickets through a friend–more and more musicians are trying to find ways to shut out scalpers, but the problem is I have yet to see one that doesn’t inconvenience fans, too. So at the time, you had to sign up in advance for a lottery, and then if your name came up, you got the chance to buy tickets. I found it unfair, but the plan was a few of us would throw in and whoever came up first would buy tickets. So the friend who got them got lawn tickets. Now, I like to be as super fucking close as possible, except for bands I’ve seen a lot. But I get that not everyone is gonna throw down a few hundred bucks on tickets, so I was fine with it. Paul wasn’t going with me, maybe because he was still in school at the time, I can’t remember, so I was with friends and friends of friends, and this dude kept flirting with me and because I am a shy, awkward person, I just did not know how to handle it, and it threw the whole night off for me.

The second time, I was like, “Okay, I’ll redeem my Mumford experience.” This time, Paul did join me and I was the one buying tickets, so knowing I could easily find takers, I bought four. Terra and her brother were ultimately the ones who joined us, but finding the tickets a home proved harder than I expected. The show was in May, I believe the first show of the summer season at this outdoor venue, but it was an unusually cold day for that time of year, and it ended raining. Fortunately, our seats were under the pavilion, but just barely, so it was still cold and dicey. And then Paul was fresh off of his very first session with a new therapist trying a different, slightly more intense form of therapy, and so he was having a rough, depression-filled evening. I mostly remember him sitting there quiet for almost the whole thing, but he seems to remember more of the concert and was even recently talking about how they encored with a cover of “Wagon Wheel,” and honestly, if he’s more depressed in my memories than in his own, fine. I’d rather him look back on it as a good time than anything else.

So this time! This time I was really determined to redeem my Mumford experience. The setup was in the round and I bought floor tickets, bringing me closer to the band than ever before. I got excited. I took the day after off, the weather that day was not just the warmest, sunniest day that week but the warmest, sunniest day for probably the whole month of March, and damn it, this time, I was gonna have a great time with no hiccups.

I am pleased to report that I succeeded. Sure, there were hiccups, mostly in the form of the frustration that comes with floor tickets where people either lie about looking for their friends to cut in front of you or just straight up shove their way in front of you, but that happens at any show with general admission. The in-the-round setup was cool, and I think if they did it again, I’d consider getting seats, just to see how it looks from there. But it was a great concert and we had a great time.

And then I had a nice Friday at home, sleeping in and getting other shit done. And so if you’re keeping track, between that and dog-sitting earlier in the week, the only days I actually worked last week were Monday and Thursday.

We decided to have dinner at Mad Mex for our Friday night, I had my favorite tacos and a kiwi margarita, and we kicked off the weekend, because, you know, a girl who worked two days in a week really needed a break.

We had a nice weekend two-ish weeks ago full of adulting–first, a dinner date, mostly because I got my days mixed up and thought Tina was doing brunch and only realized it after I’d already showered and put make-up on. True romance. But then the next day, we did actually go to brunch.

Also, I always thought I didn’t like French toast, and it turns out I just didn’t like my dad’s French toast. Twice now I’e gone to a brunch and ordered French toast and loved it.

After brunch, we hit the home show in Pittsburgh. Even with Paul’s job situation up in the air, I would like to get something done on the house this year. The garden is a definite–that’s easy. But I’d like to do some sort of other improvement. Ideally, it would be siding, but that expense seems like a terrible idea to take on. So I’m settling for painting, hopefully. We got a bunch of information from different vendors, so once we have some time, I’d like to go through, get estimates, and hopefully get it done. If we can squeeze it, I’d also like to replace our hot-water heater with a tankless one, but that can wait if it has to. I’d rather paint first. I’m not a fan of the house’s color, and even if I were, it’s getting to the point where it clearly needs done anyway.

Then it was back to dog sitting for my parents. Brandon and I worked in shifts–he was able to stay over Sunday into Monday, so I went over Monday night, took Tuesday and Wednesday off, and stayed through Wednesday night. It was almost like a stay-cation, really. Two days of just lounging around and taking care of the dog. I left for a little bit on Tuesday to go to the gym and get takeout for dinner and took Seger for a nice, long walk around the neighborhood on Wednesday, but otherwise, that was it.

As far as my dad’s health goes, they went out to Philadephia to get a second opinion. Doctors there were a little more optimistic and they’re going to get a third opinion yet, then decide on where to actually have him treated. I’m sure we’re still in for a long, difficult year, but I think a second opinion combined with the time to accept it all has everyone feeling a little less grim and a little more…task-oriented? It’s shifted a bit, at least for me, to being very, “Well, this is just what’s happening and we’ll deal with it.”

Saturday 9: Molly Malone

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

1) Are you of Irish descent? Not at all.

2) Legend has it that the heroine of this week’s Irish ballad was a real lass. 17th century birth and burial records confirm that a woman with that name lived in Dublin. Can you think of another song about a real historic figure? I’m gonna go with Abba’s “Waterloo.” It’s not about Napoleon, but it does reference him.

3) Molly sold fish from a cart that she wheeled through the streets. What’s the last seafood you ate? Probably shrimp. It’s the one non-vegetarian food I still struggle with.

4) The lyrics tell us that after her death, her ghost continues to wander the streets of Dublin with her wheel barrow. Do you believe in ghosts? Absolutely. I’ve heard too many weird stories, and I’ve had a few of my own, to believe that absolutely nothing happens after we die. I think there’s a ton we still don’t know.

5) This week’s featured band, The Dubliners, are obviously from Dublin. They were introduced to American audiences on The Ed Sullivan Show. Today, Stephen Colbert tapes his show in The Ed Sullivan Theater. Who hosted the last talk show you watched? I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch full late-night shows, but I recently watched clips of Fallon. And John Oliver, if he counts, but his show isn’t really a proper talk show.

6) Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. Is it a favorite of yours? Never had it.

7) According to Irish legend, leprechauns earned the gold in the pot they guard by repairing shoes. Crazy Sam can’t remember the last time she got a pair of shoes repaired. When the heels wear away, she discards the shoes and buys new ones. What about you? Do you get your shoes fixed (either by leprechauns or just by ordinary repairmen)? I don’t, but I also don’t usually need to. My shoes hold up pretty well.

8) Do you look good in green, the signature color of St. Patrick’s Day? I think I do, but it’s among my least favorite colors and I own very few green articles of clothing. That could also have to do with going to a Catholic high school that had green as its color, so that meant a lot of the items for our uniforms were green, and you kind of get tired of green after wearing it almost every day for four years.

9) Random question: Did you more recently sneeze or cough? Cough, but I woke up around 4 in the morning feeling pretty congested, so it’s been a fun day for my sinuses.

Friday 5: Beware

    1. What’s something people cautioned you against that turned out not to be dangerous or bad at all? I kind of have two–first, vacationing in Mexico several years ago. My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was worried about it, my mom was worried about it, and basically everyone was expecting us to, like, end up murdered down there. It was totally fine, and aside from genuine reports of violence and crime, I’m now convinced that a lot of that attitude is racism. Second, getting an English degree. I don’t make a lot of money, but I do have a very stable job for a decent company–I’m not unemployed and broke like people expected me to be. I realize I might’ve just gotten lucky, but it’s still not a decision I have ever regretted.
    2. What’s something you wish someone had cautioned you about? Ooh, I don’t know, because I feel like I had parents who left me well-prepared for life. I feel like I have more instances of wishing I’d listened to people cautioning me as opposed to not being cautioned at all.
    3. What’s your favorite non-English word of warning? It’s not quite warning, but I like “arrêtez,” which is French for “stop.”
    4. What’s a really stupid thing you’ve done that could have resulted in your demise? Knowingly get in a car with a drunk driver. I’ve also driven with a slight buzz, which I know I shouldn’t have done, but I’m also adamant that it is different than being drunk.
    5. What should you probably stay away from this weekend? Booze and sugar–I’m trying to get in better shape. I’ve already failed, though, having had a margarita last night, and then I bought little cheesecakes at our winter farmers market.

From Friday 5.


Saturday 9: Up on the Roof

Saturday 9: Up on the Roof (1979)

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

1) JT sings that when the world gets him down, he goes up on the roof to find peace. When you’re “feeling tired and beat,” what do you do to cheer yourself up? I basically just do what I normally do–read, write, watch Netflix, whatever.

2) He sings that at night, the stars put on a show for free. Are you economizing, or sticking to a budget? Not a strict budget, but we are trying to curb unnecessary spending. My husband is on track to lose his job due to the company moving to Mexico. He’ll get 60 days’ notice and he is looking for something new in the meantime anyway, but we’re trying to get things to a point where if we had to rely on my income temporarily, things wouldn’t be too tight.

3) In addition to recording this song for his album Flag, James Taylor surprised the song’s composer, and his good friend. Carole King by performing it the night she received her Kennedy Center Honor. Tell us about a good turn a friend has done for you recently. My former college was spotlighting women alumni on their social media accounts for International Women’s Day, and my sister-in-law, who is a current student there, threw my name in the mix. So I got a nice tweet about what I’ve been up to. It was a nice little self-esteem boost after getting frustrated with writing-related things that she didn’t even know about.

4) James Taylor and Carole King have been good friends for decades, but they have never been romantically involved. Do you have platonic friends of the opposite sex? At the moment, not really, or at least not that I talk to a lot. But I have in the past.

5) James was born in the Boston hospital where his father worked as a resident physician. Are there any doctors or nurses in your family? We have some nurses in the extended family, plus a few pharmacists.

6) When James was young, his family moved to Chapel Hill, NC. James has vivid memories of how beautiful the area was in all four seasons. What’s your favorite time of year? Summer, always and forever.

7) In 1979, when this recording was popular, ESPN launched. Do you often watch that cable sports channel? Nope. I’d only watch it for hockey, and they don’t seem to talk about that much.

8)  Also in 1979, the Voyager spacecraft sent photos back to earth that revealed Jupiter’s rings. Without looking it up, can you name all the planets in our solar system? Not necessarily in order, at least the last few, but Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto(?).

9) Random question: Our Saturday 9 Wizards give you a choice — you can be 20 years old and gorgeous, 30 years old and brilliant, or 40 years old and rich. Which do you choose? 30 and brilliant, because you can turn that into 40 and rich.

Friday 5: Parental Control

  1. Where do you think you’re going? Tonight? Nowhere. Tomorrow, brunch, I hope, and Sunday, the home show.
  2. Who do you think you are? My delightful, sarcastic, smart, opinionated, hard-working, ambitious, loyal self.
  3. What’s gotten into you? Independence and a healthy dose of being done with bullshit.
  4. How do you expect to pay for all this? Um, that’s valid, but I get paid Monday. Really, it’ll probably hit my account over the weekend–pays that fall between Saturday and Monday tend to arrive sooner than expected.
  5. When are you going to come to your senses? I’m stubborn, so probably never.

From Friday 5.

February went by fast–it feels like I’d only just barely started my weekend rotation at work for the month, and now it’s over.

After that last Saturday, we did some shopping for my mom’s birthday–plus some for my soon-to-be niece–and had dinner at our favorite Italian place. Sunday, we went to our favorite coffee shop for the first time in a few weeks, and then with snow rolling in again, I packed a bag and spent another night at my parents’ house dogsitting while they were in Pittsburgh at an appointment for my dad.

This time, it was getting a port put in for chemo. It’s slowly becoming more real. The time between the diagnosis and now, at least for me, hasn’t been much different than usual, but we’re about to enter into actual treatment.

So I spent my Monday off with Seger. We watched Crazy Rich Asians, which I liked, and a few episodes of Preacher, and I got a little work done on my side hustles. When Seger got restless, as he does, I sat on the couch with him, and then we fell asleep until my parents got home.