Friday 5: Genre

  1. What gets an unfairly bad rap? I feel like every few days, I’m tweeting about something I think people are judging unfairly, but I think today, I’m gonna go with science fiction. I watched the finale of the new Twilight Zone last night and loved it, as did most people, it seems, and it went very meta and had brief conversation about the nature of sci-fi. Even though there’s not a lot these days that’s considered, like, a “nerd” thing–and I think that’s a good thing–I do think sci-fi is still one of the things that people have weird expectations of. On one hand, some people dismiss it and are missing out on some awesome, complex writing, and on the other hand, others, especially with this reboot, complain about political and social themes, except they forget the genre’s been playing with those since it began.
  2. What’s something you’ve done to jazz up your routine? I did it out of necessity and I’ve talked about it recently, I think, but I changed my morning routine to get up earlier to eat a proper breakfast because eating at my desk while I work and the cat literally sticks her nose into everything I have just isn’t working anymore.
  3. When did you last have your mettle tested? Probably whenever the cat last literally stuck her nose into my breakfast. So, like, yesterday, when I slept in and ate at my desk.
  4. What’s something you were once — but are no longer — hardcore into? I feel like you could pinpoint any number of things, especially from my teen years–games, music, celebrities, whatever. I had a Hello Kitty phase as a kid and probably still have some stuff in my parents’ basement to get rid of.
  5. What are some porch swings, tire swings, or rope swings you’ve known? My cousins always had a nice swing on their back porch, and I was on it a couple of weeks ago at a christening. It’s still a great swing. My grandparents also had more of a little glider on their front porch, and although it’s not a swing, it’s definitely the one with some of the sweetest, simplest memories, especially from this time of year.

From Friday 5.

If any bride can handle throwing together a wedding in a few months, make chocolates and cheesecakes for it, and entertain and feed out-of-town guests the morning of the wedding before her hair and makeup get done, it’s Julie. She had a packed house the morning of the wedding on Sunday, and we stopped by for a little bit for some of the breakfast she made and to see if she needed to put us to work. And she did–we got sent to the venue with a car full of food, wine, and anything else we hadn’t taken over the day before that needed to be there. So Paul and I drove over and hauled in a few boxes of things, then sat down and enjoyed more beverages. This time, I went for a raspberry chai.

Emily and Chelle had left the house around the same time we did and had some time to kill, too, so they joined us at the coffee shop for about an hour before we all parted ways again to get ready for the wedding.

When we all saw each other next, we were all prettied up, and we tackled the last-minute prep in the final hour before the wedding–Katie and I were steaming things again, this time tablecloths, and final decorations were put up. Some of us, and by that I mean me, even took the last 15 minutes to paint our nails.

And pretty much right on time, Michael and his groomsmen lined up while my father-in-law went up to a little loft area and escorted Julie down.

Katie and I were excited to watch and kind of felt more emotional than we did at our own weddings, maybe even each other. I can’t speak for her, of course, but for me, marrying Paul was just kind of the next logical step. We’d been together for several years at that point–and in fact, this summer marks nine years together, despite only two of marriage–and it was more a matter of making it official. Even watching Jacob and Katie get married, it was exciting, but they’ve been together just a smidge longer than we have, to the point that the four of us have basically been around as couples the same amount of time and there’s no real clear point marking, like, before we were dating and after. Katie was there the night I met Paul, and I’ve pretty much been around ever since. And Paul and Jacob are the two oldest, and we met at Jacob’s high-school graduation with my brother, when Julie was still in high school. Katie and I may have shown up around the same time, but we’ve pretty much watched Julie and Michael’s relationship go from the early days of dating to moving up to Erie a few years ago to now.

And, of course, there’s a difference between seeing the boys in their tuxes and seeing Julie come down the stairs in a beautiful wedding dress with her dad on her arm. I have so many mixed feelings about the wedding industry and the whole concept of marriage, but man, you can’t beat that image.

The ceremony was short and sweet, with Jacob officiating–Julie asked him to do it earlier this year and he got ordained online. We’ve been joking for months about him wearing a slutty nun Halloween costume. But him officiating was another really sweet part of it, and it didn’t hit me until he was actually having them recite vows. We’d been asked (by Jacob on behalf of the couple) to put our cellphones away, but Katie slyly filmed the whole time and I can’t blame her.

And then they were married!

Since it was a pretty small wedding with immediate family and close friends in a small coffee shop, there wasn’t really any dancing, just food and wine, but that was fine. There was a pretty simple seating arrangement and us two already married couples were together next to Julie and Michael’s table, and Katie and I took the opportunity to chant “One of us!” at Michael. He hated it, and he said so.

We had great food and homemade wine, and I think I tried a little bit of each kind they had. Michael also had a bottle of tequila he’d brought back from a recent trip to Mexico, and fearing it would be strong, the four of us did a tiny, tiny tequila toast to Michael and found that it was actually quite smooth. And we may or may not have given a tiny bit to the family’s youngest sibling, who may or may not have hated it. That’s how you can tell the seasoned drinkers–we all went, “Ooh!” after we finished it and talked about how smooth it went down and had just a slight kick to it.

Everything wrapped up pretty early, so we decided to head back to Emily and Chelle’s Airbnb a few minutes away but, like our hotel, over the New York border. Paul and I waited around awhile while everyone else was with Jacob and Emily, who had to sign the marriage certificate as witnesses, and then I guess it was somehow hard to figure out where to sign and also totally different than Katie and Jacob’s marriage certificate, so after a while, I guess they gave up.

Mostly, we hung around bullshitting all night. You still can’t get us together without some degree of swapping stories and complaints, but things have been really calm and really good for a while, which we were sure to tell Chelle so as not to scare her off. Emily had also bought a cigar from a store across from the coffee shop, so she wanted to smoke with Jacob, who almost always has cigars on-hand at special events. Paul joined, and that’s how all of us significant others ended up sitting on a dark porch in an unusually cold night while the three siblings all smoked.

Katie and I were also pretty wound up and had each other, but perhaps most of all ourselves, in tears laughing. We started calling ourselves plus Michael The In-Law Club, which somehow escalated to a very formal, British-esque organization with code names, and we thought everything we came up with was hilarious. Even Paul the next day was like, “Well, you two certainly had a good time.”

As with all late nights with good company, it was hard to pull ourselves away, and we ultimately left around 1 a.m. I kind of enjoyed all the driving through the back roads of the two states, too. It’s not like I was homesick, but it felt like home all the same, and there’s something about summer nights driving through the countryside that just feels good. I’d say nostalgic, but it’s not quite that.

By Saturday, most of the in-laws had arrived–or rather, all of us kids.

And Erie, whose weather forecast before we left had indicated the temperature wouldn’t get above the 60s all weekend, decided fuck that, 80s on Saturday it is. Paul and I decided to start the day with another walk on Presque Isle in the same manner–walk for a bit down one side, then cross and walk back along the beach. We parked the car a little farther down this time to see a little bit more of the peninsula than we had on Friday, and we ended up taking a bit longer than we thought. But on the upside, we spent more time on the beach than we had the day before, and although the water was still really cold, it was hot enough outside that I decided to walk for a bit along the water so that the lake’s tiny waves could at least hit my fit without actually, you know, walking through freezing water.

We also started joking that you could tell we were the oldest siblings on the trip because at 7 a.m. we were awake and ready to go, texting everyone else about going for a morning walk on Presque Isle only to be met with either crickets or “Nah, we’ll see you for lunch.”

Julie and Michael were making lunch for everyone while finishing up some wedding prep, so we had a nice little cookout at their place and then we all trucked over to the wedding venue, a coffee shop Julie and Michael frequent, to decorate. For the most part, we were done quick, and the part that took the longest was steaming curtains Julie was hanging in the front windows. Strangely, Katie and I found that we kind of enjoyed it.

I’m sure the place made decent money off of all of us, too, because almost all of us got drinks. I sprung for a mango bubble tea, and we discovered that only four of us like bubble tea at all–Paul and I, of course, Michael, and Katie, who had it for the first time. Everyone else not only dislikes it but actually thinks it’s weird and gross. Opinions were very strong and very divided.

When we were done, we decided to temporarily go our separate ways. Paul and I joined Katie and Jacob briefly on a nearby beach, then left to go run some errands–I needed dye-friendly shampoo, and Paul managed to get a sunburn the day before, so I figured might as well find something for that, and then I decided to get disposable razors and a small thing of shaving cream to shave my legs for the wedding the next day. And then I forgot to do it. Oops.

We have a rule of no chain restaurants when we travel, but that proved to be a strangely difficult thing to pull off Saturday night at Erie’s mall. On top of that, by the time I grabbed everything I wanted in Ulta, we were both really hungry and not in the mood to either find something different or risk something not being good. And that’s how we ended up at a Primanti Bros. in Erie. Not only did we break our no-chain rule, but we sprung for the most typical Pittsburgh food ever as though we couldn’t just get it whenever the hell we want back home. The only thing that would’ve been dumber? Going to the Eat ‘N’ Park. Hell, we probably could’ve even rationalized the Mad Mex, but nope, we can’t resist those sandwiches.

We had planned to go to Katie and Jacob’s hotel for a bonfire, but by the time we were done shopping and eating and by the time we’d get there, there’d be less than an hour left of bonfire and drink specials to enjoy. And we were tired, so we decided to call it a night and go back to our hotel.

And so all that was left was Sunday, wedding day.

Not too long ago, Paul’s sister Julie decided she didn’t really want to wait long to get married and didn’t want to plan a big, huge wedding, so rather than getting married next fall as planned, she pushed the whole shebang up to Memorial Day weekend. And so just like two weeks after her bridal shower, we took an extra day off of work for an even longer weekend, packed up Thursday night, and made the 2 1/2-hour drive up to Erie.

Not surprisingly, lodging that weekend is expensive and in demand, so we compromised and stayed 20 minutes away from the wedding venue to save some money, which ended up being just over the state border in New York. It was kind of funny to be crossing the state lines pretty much constantly all weekend. Jacob and Katie and Emily and her girlfriend, Chelle, all ended up staying in New York, too, and Jacob and Katie lucked out hard when their resort overbooked and didn’t have a room for them and upgraded them to a condo, complete with champagne.

We got in a little late and just missed the delivery cutoff for a restaurant near our hotel, so we drove a few minutes to the closest and most reliable option–McDonald’s, back over the Pennsylvania border and kind of close to where Julie and Michael live. I had a salad and a milkshake because that’s about all McDonald’s has to offer vegetarians, and then we went to bed.

We were the only ones who went up that early. Lately, traveling just isn’t a great idea for us. We’re trying to be careful with money with the way Paul’s job is up in the air, and between a new baby in the family and my dad’s cancer, it’s also not the best time to be going far. So we’re kind of taking advantage of excuses to take a day off here and there and make a longer weekend out of something–it’s exactly what we did when we went to Virginia Beach in the fall for another wedding. And since it was just us there that Friday, we spent the morning walking Presque Isle, a peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie.

What I love about Erie is that if a trip to a proper beach isn’t doable, it’s a good close second, especially if you live in Pennsylvania. It’s a pretty big lake, it has sand, and it even has waves, even if they’re really little. If you need a beach fix, it works. It wasn’t a super hot day and in fact wasn’t supposed to get above the 60s, although it did feel hotter, strangely, even at our hotel in New York. And the water was freezing. I insisted on at least getting my toes in the water and sitting in the sand for a little bit before we turned around and went back to the car from the other side.

We consulted Julie for a lunch recommendation and eded up in a restaurant in a hotel lobby situated right on the bay, so Paul had a walleye sandwich. I, by some miracle, ate pretty healthy and opted for just a salad, but if you tell me it has goat cheese, strawberries, and champagne dressing, I’m gonna want it. We did have drinks and split dessert, though.

And then we headed back to the hotel, ended up both falling asleep for a couple hours, then got up, showered, and went to Julie and Michael’s for dinner, where Michael was feeling pretty good and being very entertaining after a couple glasses of wine. They make their own, and we sprung for a pretty great bottle of homemade tropical wine before cracking open peach wine I’d given Julie for her birthday a few weeks ago.

We hung around a little bit after a nice homemade pasta dinner, then went back to our hotel and passed right out for the rest of the night.


Saturday 9: God Bless America

Saturday 9: God Bless America

Unfamiliar with Deanna Durbin’s rendition of week’s tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 


1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, this is when memorials, as well as the graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers on this day to show our appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood? I don’t think so, which is a little surprising. I could be wrong, though–there’s a chance we have one somewhere I don’t go often.
2) Andrew Johnson, our 17th President, was in office the first time Memorial/Decoration Day  was celebrated. Have you ever met one of our 45 Presidents? I didn’t technically meet him, but I did shake the hand of Bill Clinton.
3) According to the AAA, more than 30 million Americans will hit the road this weekend and drive more than 50 miles. Will you be traveling far from home this weekend? I did! I drove up to Erie, about 2 1/2 hours away, for my sister-in-law’s wedding.
4) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What’s your favorite picnic food? Pasta salad, but I don’t limit it to picnics by any means.
5) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? Yep, we have the air conditioner running.
6) Though she’s belting out one of America’s best loved patriotic songs, Deanna Durbin was born in Canada. Is there anyone in your family or circle of friends who wasn’t born in the USA? My husband’s co-worker’s wife, if I’m remembering this all right, was born in Iceland but spent some time in Belgium before coming here. She only recently got her citizenship within the last few months. Another co-worker is from Romania and also very recently got her citizenship.
7) No longer a household name, Ms. Durbin was once one of the biggest stars in the country. One of her most popular films was 1937’s One Hundred Men and a Girl, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Recommend a movie that you really like, but don’t think many Saturday 9ers have seen. I don’t know why I’m thinking of this because I haven’t seen it in ages, but there’s a great indie time-travel movie called Primer. It’s not some huge sci-fi movie, but it nails the concept.
8) Back in 1938, Deanna Durbin had her handprints cemented in front of the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. Have you ever visited that Los Angeles tourist attraction? Nope.
9) Random question: What food did you hate as a child, but enjoy now? Man, a lot of things. I was a picky eater as a kid, and a lot of my staples now are things I never touched as a kid. Yogurt, bell peppers, and onions are the big ones coming to mind. I’ve also tried food from a lot of different cultures at this point I never would have as a kid.

Friday 5: A Week

  1. If I give you $20 to spend selfishly by tomorrow evening, what do you spend it on? Can I put it towards a credit card? If not, I probably just get my hair trimmed because it needs it badly and I can’t get to my usual salon soon.
  2. What’s a delivery you recently waited too long for? I had a Sephora online order a couple weeks ago, and I’m supposed to get two-day flash shipping for free, but the thing took like a week. I think it’s because one of the items was considered a dangerous material or something, which is kind of alarming since I put it on my face.
  3. How annoying have you been lately? I was a little drunk after lunch today and my husband had to drive back to the hotel. I think I was entertaining, but he may not.
  4. When did you last give someone a ride in your car for the first time? Ooh, I don’t know because it’s been a pretty long time. But our cat rode in it for the first time back in September, when we got her.
  5. What was the last piece of candy you ate? I don’t eat much candy so I don’t remember, but probably something chocolate.

From Friday 5.

I am officially an aunt!

In short, my sister-in-law was induced Friday morning, and Eliana Mae was here by about 5:30 evening.

Me, being the genius I am, decided to go ahead and shower as soon as I was done with work, thinking that way I’d be ready to leave when we got word, and it’s probably the only time in my life I’ve been smart enough to prepare.

Paul’s car was scheduled for maintenance in the morning and we were gonna drop it off on our way, and then he realized he had neither his insurance card nor his registration. So instead, it took us forever to get through the South Hills and to the hospital.

We spent some time waiting outside the room, first for Kelly to get cleaned up and changed and out of bed and then again to try to feed the baby, but the two of us, my mom, Kelly’s mom and sister, and her brother and his girlfriend all spent some time at the hospital and held the baby. She’s tiny! But adorable, and of course, we all adore her.

My dad wasn’t able to go due to being fresh off a chemo treatment, and so my mom didn’t stay too long. We hung around a little bit, and then because we hadn’t eaten dinner and had already been gone a few hours at this point when all was said and done, we had a late dinner at Primanti’s down the road. That’s the great thing about the Pittsburgh area–you know you can shove a sandwich in your mouth after 9 p.m.

Most of Saturday was pretty chill. I ran some errands and made muffins to take to the new parents, and we headed back out in the evening again with a brief stop at the mall in the South Hills on the way, because why go by a Lush and not stop? Jacob and Katie were at the hospital visiting, too, and we had a nice time hanging out with each other and Eliana for a little bit before we left. No Primanti’s this time.

Sunday brought my cousin’s new baby’s baptism, so we hung out there for a bit, then hung out at my parents’ place for a bit, then headed to Paul’s parents’ place for a bit, partly to pick up some pans Julie needs for her wedding this weekend.

And now it’s back to scrambling to get the grass cut between rainy days again this week. At some point, Eliana is going to meet my dad and Paul and I would like to try to be there, but that all depends on timing and schedules. If we don’t see her this week, I’m inviting myself over to their apartment next week.

Saturday 9: Secret Love

Secret Love (1953)

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

Rest in peace, Doris Day (1922-2019)

1) In this song Doris admits she’s spoken to the stars, “the way dreamers often do.” Do you often daydream? Not so much these days because my mind is usually occupied, but I do when I cut grass!

2) What’s the last secret you kept? (It doesn’t have to be romantic.) My niece’s name! My brother and sister-in-law picked it out months ago and just didn’t want to tell anybody until she was born…which was yesterday! Her full name is Eliana Mae.

3) While “Secret Love” was one of Miss Day’s best-selling records, and the song won an Oscar, she did not perform it at the Academy Awards Ceremony. She said she was just too nervous to sing it live before an international television audience and an auditorium full of entertainment professionals. When did you last suffer an attack of nerves? Holding Eliana for the first time. I’m nervous holding tiny new babies.

4) Doris’ well-publicized attack of Oscar stage fright was unexpected because she began her career as a band singer, performing before live audiences every night. But she reportedly did develop more phobias over the years, including a fear of flying. Is there anything that scares you now, as an adult, that didn’t frighten you as a child? I have more social phobias than I ever did as a kid. I somehow went from not caring at all to being over-analytical. I think I have mild social anxiety.

5) Doris Day made 39 movies between 1948 and 1968. She said one of her favorite things about filmmaking was working with costume designers on her wardrobe. Do you enjoy shopping for clothes? Kind of? I love buying new stuff, but I can be kind of picky and sizes are weird for me, like most women. It’s one of those things where I almost never go out clothes shopping specifically, but if I’m out, I’ll pop into the stores I like and pick up something if I like it.

6) Doris confessed that when she had to lose weight for a role, she gave up ice cream. If we checked your freezer, would we find any ice cream? There’s some in there, but it’s really old, so that tells you how often we eat ice cream.

7) In 1985 she hosted a cable show called Doris Day’s Best Friends. She used the show as a platform to promote pet adoptions and animal welfare. Most of the guests were  celebrity friends who reportedly donated their salaries for appearing on the show to Doris’ pet foundation. Did you more recently ask a friend for a favor, or perform a favor for a friend? I asked my brother to go pick something up at a store for me that I had delivered there because I wasn’t gonna make it there before they closed, and he asked for gas money. He later told me he was joking, but either way, I said never mind, I’ll get it another day.

8) For more than 20 years, Doris co-owned the Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA. The Inn expects to continue on without her, and maintain the pet-friendly policies she introduced. Have you ever traveled with your dog or cat? I traveled with our dog in college–he ended up getting cataracts, and we drove a few hours to a veterinary school in Ohio that would remove them for a fraction of the cost compared to vets in our area. After the surgery, he needed a checkup every year, so for the couple years before he died, I’d go out with my parents. I have a cat now, and we have not traveled with her, and I don’t think we should. She doesn’t seem to like the car, and I’d be afraid that staying in a hotel with her would stress her out.

9) Random question: What’s the last thing you complained about? Politics!

Friday 5

  1. What are you ahead on? I mean, technically nothing because there’s nothing that needs done in a timely fashion, but I am making good time on starting the weekend chores. It seems like I usually get to it later, but I have a load of laundry in already.
  2. Who’s slowing you down? 100% myself, in all things at all times.
  3. When did you last stumble getting out of the gate? This morning. I changed my routine because of the cat. When I first started working from home, I’d get up a half-hour before I had to clock in and eat breakfast, pay bills, etc., and then I got lazy and started sleeping in and eating at my desk. Well, the cat loves that. The cat enjoys spending her time trying to eat anything I eat, so not only was I trying to work and eat at the same time, but I was also wrangling a cat, so everything was taking me longer to do (see #2). A couple Fridays ago, I cracked and decided this wasn’t working and I’d start getting up early again, and for the most part, I have been, but this morning, I just couldn’t do it. And so I ate at my desk, which attracted the cat, and both of those things slowed down my work.
  4. How’s your mane these days? My dye is fading, but the good news is I use colored conditioner that will fix that. It’s also frizzy today. That one’s a mystery.
  5. When did you most recently find yourself unexpectedly hoofing it somewhere? Look, I’m late for almost everything, but when we were heading to a christening, we were slowed down by the cat deciding that was a great time to run into garage and under the car. So we lost a good few minutes coaxing her out and getting her in the house, and as a result, we were a bit more hurried than we would’ve been otherwise.

From Friday 5.

This month–particularly the last half of it–is a big, busy month.

Kelly’s due date is this Sunday, so we’re on Babywatch.

And then Julie’s wedding is over Memorial Day weekend, and in the meantime, of course, she had her bridal shower on Saturday, which meant starting early and going long, starting with setting up. It didn’t take long and it looked super cute, but we had a little bit of downtime afterwards and pretty much spent it at my in-laws’. All the guys hung out there, while the ladies went to the shower. And Julie was super excited and loved how everything turned out and generally seemed to have a really good, happy day, so that was nice.

Katie and I said we’re gonna chant, “One of us!” to Michael as soon as the vows are over.

After the shower and cleanup, whoever was left headed back to the house, and Paul and I pretty much hung around most of the night. Both of his grandfathers and some uncles were around, too, but eventually, almost everyone filtered out and it was down to the kids and…I was gonna say their spouses, but Katie didn’t stick around, so it was really just me.

With so much focus on the bridal shower, not much was put on Mother’s Day the next day. On my side of the family, we had lunch at Meloni’s with Kelly’s mom, sister, and her boyfriend, so that was fun to get that whole side together since we’re usually not. And Meloni’s was the choice because my dad can eat their food with pretty much no trouble, which Paul joked is awfully convenient.

Afterwards, we stopped at my parents’ house for a little bit, where most of us fell asleep at least for a little bit. We spent the evening at Paul’s parents’, which was pretty simple–his dad made dinner, the boys played video games, we hung out, and that was it.

One of Paul’s great uncles died over the weekend, so Monday night, we spent part of our evening at the funeral home, meeting a lot of relatives of Paul’s dad that not even Paul really knew. And since Paul never ate dinner, we stopped at a Primanti’s on the way home.

This weekend, the only thing on our agenda is another christening, and hopefully we’ll squeeze in some yardwork and such.