Friday 5: Vessel

  1. What does your favorite mug look like? My favorites are the ones I used to get at the Renaissance festival–hand-blown glass, with these multi-colored rainbow patterns. They’re so pretty. But I also have an impressive collection of novelty mugs, and those frontrunners are one with a cat giving the finger, one with an alien that says, “I believe in you,” and, of course, one with the Pizza Hut logo that says, “Pizza Slut.”
  2. With a typical dinner out, how many glasses of water do you drink? Man, like one? I usually drink iced tea, first of all, but even then, I never hit more than two. My husband, on the other hand, probably hits three or four at a minimum.
  3. What’s something for which you recently used a paper cup, other than to hold a beverage? I have a habit of using them to hold other trash, like food wrappers or napkins. Or other cups.
  4. How confidently do you pour a drink into a tumbler with your non-dominant hand? I almost never do it so it wouldn’t be great, but I don’t think it would be horrible, either.
  5. What’s going to be your holy grail for this weekend? Seeing my niece and sleeping in.

Although Julie and Michael got married in Erie in May, they had a small reception/picnic back here at the end of July at a rec center nearby.

(Paul and I kicked off that weekend at a brewery that had this cucumber beer that I absolutely loved and sadly only drank that one time the entire summer.)

We were on cookie duty, as usual–Julie loves these strawberry ones I make, and his chocolate-chip ones are a family favorite–so that was how we spent our Friday night and Saturday morning before heading to his parents’ house for a nice dinner with nearly all of us. Emily’s girlfriend came to town, the two of us plus Jacob and Katie headed over, and we basically spent most of our evening in the pool. It was the perfect day for it, and we were content to cool off and talk.

The perk of having fallen so behind here is that in the couple months since, this information has since been announced officially, so I’m good repeating here.

So we were in the pool, as adults indulging in adult beverages, and naturally, I had to pee. I waited about as long as I could, then sucked it up and headed inside, where Katie and Jacob were, having just arrived. Katie said, “I have something for you!” and handed me this little bag with a smile on her face, and I was suspicious. Inside was a baby’s shirt–Katie’s pregnant! She’d already presented his parents with it, and my timing made me the first of the siblings/in-laws to find out.

And then my torture began. Of course I wasn’t gonna run back out to the pool and tell everybody, but that meant I had to go back, play it cool–which I think I did well, except for the occasional very impatient utterances of, “They need to get out here”–and wait for them. And they took their sweet time. Not necessarily intentionally to make me squirm, mind you, although Jacob definitely knew I was and definitely kind of enjoyed it.

When they did come out, they were kind of waiting for a good moment, and it never really came. It was kind of fun by that point–I knew and was waiting for when they’d drop the bomb, and if I remember right, Katie was gonna go use the bathroom herself when I was like, “Well, before you do…” so she decided to announce it then, and of course, only half of them were paying attention. Emily rectified that pretty fast.

They since used their anniversary to announce it on Facebook.

Typically, the etiquette would be to not announce this at someone’s wedding, even if it is a relatively informal reception, but Julie would much, much rather know than be made to wait. And she was so excited that even to me, it was worth it.

Paul and I are looking forward to become an aunt and uncle again, of course. In fact, if a sibling could have a baby every year or so until this becomes totally unreasonable, that would be super fun.

As for us, it just hasn’t happened yet. Not actively trying, not actively preventing, but I am a little surprised that so far, nothing.

The wedding party–they weren’t really calling it a reception–itself was laid back and fun with great food Julie and Michael made themselves. The favors were bottles of their homemade wine, which we still haven’t opened, but I look forward to when we do. I’ve spent a couple nights at their place drinking far too much of that wine.

And because I’m me, I had tickets to see The Struts that night. In my defense, I didn’t plan it that way. Julie was originally aiming for the following weekend and I already had the tickets when it got moved up a week, but because it started early in the afternoon so they could hit the road back for Erie before it got late, we had plenty of time to head home for me to cover myself in glitter to prepare. Turns out it probably wasn’t enough glitter.

Brandon was gonna go with me originally but ended up having drill, and Kelly was welcome to but didn’t, probably because of Eliana. So I got Paul to go instead. The Struts put on such a good show that I’m confident taking people who aren’t super familiar with them.

I’ve sung the band’s praises before and then did it again on my Medium blog, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much, but shit, do I love that band, especially live. They’re so fun, so energetic, and have just the right amount of glam, hence my glitter quest.

And then, a few days later, Meri was back in town, so I went out with her and Marissa.

Every year, my mom goes to Hallmark’s Christmas ornament premiere–which falls in early- to mid-July, woof–and I typically go, too. In the past, this was to spare my dad from going and my mom from listening to him complain, and this time, it was more because he was mid-chemo and certainly not up to it.

So I got up, made the drive out, and of course my mom was with my Aunt Gina already in line, so I stood with them like I have pretty much every year I’ve gone.

So, I usually do get a few Wizard of Oz ornaments every year, but my mom would grab them regardless. My being there is less about me participating in the thing and more about keeping my mom company. I’m not on the hunt, it’s not a huge thing for me, it’s more of a shopping trip than anything else. But the woman right behind my mom and Aunt Gina went off on me for cutting in line, adamant that it was unfair. I admittedly didn’t do a great job of explaining that I was with my mom and not really, like, cheating her out of whatever ornament she wanted, but she was rude and unwilling to listen from the start–one of those people who has a tone with you immediately but then the second you call them out on that, they insist they “asked nicely,” aren’t being rude in the slightest, and are actually speaking normally, despite a clear increased volume and attitude.

My mom’s reaction was basically, “Just get out of line to shut her up.” I’m more stubborn than that, but I listened to my mother and just stood against the wall to wait for the doors  to open, go in after everybody else, and meet up in the store. You’d think this would’ve made it obvious that I wasn’t a threat to her precious ornaments–if I’m not even bothering to get in the line, then I don’t really care and it doesn’t really matter. And it would’ve been one thing if that had been the end of it, but she kept on going at me until the doors opened, just wouldn’t leave me alone, asking how I would feel if someone cut in front of me in line, at which point I said I wouldn’t care if someone was just meeting up with someone else like I was. I’ve seen it tons of times in just about every scenario where a line is involved, and so have most people. It’s just a thing most people accept.

It ended when the doors opened, but because I’m me, it bothered me the rest of the day. This is why I pay a therapist, although we never did discuss that fact that I dwelled on this enough to have been able to write this blog a few months later. We’ve mostly discussed, you know, the fact that my dad died in the months since.

I hung out at my parents’ house after. I had this sense over the summer and post-diagnosis in general that I ought to hang around while I was in town, with this looming thought of, “In case our time is limited.” I feel like there were a lot of unspoken moments like that. So I spent some time there.

Back home, Paul and I met up with Brandon, Kelly, and a tiny Eliana for the Whiskey Rebellion Festival in town. We mostly got food and checked out the vendors and hung out at our house for a little bit–the cat was very interested in the baby and ran to her when she cried.

The following weekend brought Julie’s wedding reception.

Saturday 9: I’d Really Love to See You Tonight

I’d Really Love to See You Tonight (1976)

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

1) This song is about a guy who, out of the blue, phones an ex. Have you ever spontaneously phoned or emailed a former lover? Has an ex ever reached out to you? I don’t really have any exes!

2) He suggests walking through the park, taking a drive along the beach, or watching TV. Do any of those suggestions appeal to you right now? All of them do, but the beach is the most appealing, as always.

3) “England Dan” got his nickname because he was a passionate Beatles fan and would affect a British accent when he talked about his favorite group. Are you good at imitating accents? I think I am, but don’t most people?

4) Dan met John Colley when they were high school classmates in Dallas. When they were still kids, they agreed that “John Ford Coley” would be a better stage name. Think back to your high school days. Which of your friends daydreamed along with you? I don’t know! Probably the fellow theater nerds, but I really don’t think anyone shared my daydreams.

5) After the duo disbanded, “England Dan” went to Nashville, billed himself by his real name — Dan Seals — and recorded country music. Who is your favorite country performer? It’s a cliche, but probably Johnny Cash. I’m not a big fan of country, and the country I do like tends to be older–those were the musicians doing it the best. I can’t stand this bro country that’s about, like, trucks. Johnny Cash had actual talent and integrity.

6) Today John Ford Coley lives in TN. He performs occasionally and raises horses. Have you ever been to TN? I haven’t, but despite my dislike of most country music, I’d like to go! It seems like just about everyone who visits enjoys it.

7) In 1975, when this song was popular, Foster Grant Sunglasses had a suggested retail price of $5/pair. Do you buy sunglasses more for fashion or utility? Both? I’m the kind of person who has pairs of sunglasses all over the house and car and is always buying more, but I also use them often. My husband teases me over what I consider to be “bright” outside.

8) The most popular movie of 1975 was Jaws. Have you seen it? Not the whole thing. It’s one of those movies that’s been on TV so you put it on but you never sit and devote your time to it beginning to end.

9) Random question: Excluding anyone related to you by blood or marriage, what man are you closest to? I don’t know! That rules out most of the men I know! I’ve lost touch with pretty much all of my male friends over the years, and with a few of them, that’s certainly a good thing.

Friday 5: Doubt

  1. What were you recently sure of, but are now having doubts about? My job. Sort of. So the thing is I always knew automation would eliminate my job one day. We’re not at that point yet because although technology has improved, it’s not good enough to totally replace humans, but it does mean that the nature of my job may change soon. If I’m right, it’ll go in a direction I don’t really want to. It was never my dream job to begin with, and maybe if I was a new hire and not eight years in I’d feel differently, but it may end up that my daily tasks end up being things I don’t enjoy as much. Essentially, I’d like to start looking for other opportunities so I can bail before it gets to that point.
  2. What’s something you’d like to see this weekend but probably won’t? There are a couple movies out I’d like to see, but so would my mom and brother. He had drill for the weekend, so we’re holding out until he’s free.
  3. When were your doubts pleasantly verified? In January, my husband was told the company is moving his site to Mexico. At the time, it looked like that was gonna pan out within a couple of months, but every week or so, he comes home with updates for how horribly the relocation is going that have had us both doubting it would happen on time. Sure enough, there’s chatter they need to remain open for another year. We know for sure it’ll be around into early 2020.
  4. When were your doubts pleasantly disproven? My best friend always jokes that her exes come crawling back, and it’s true–after almost every breakup she’s ever had, they’ve gotten back together. The last dude she dumped was a dick, and I doubted the breakup would stick, as usual. I was wrong. Hallelujah.
  5. What’s something you have absolutely no doubts about? My marriage. My own determination. My current crop of friends. That everything does work out, it just might take a long, long time.

From Friday 5.

I have already mentioned this, but I decided to start writing about music over on Medium, and although current inspiration over there has run dry temporarily, I’m only just now getting around to the last few months, when I kind of dropped off other posting here.

One of those things that overlaps, though, was going to see Rocketman, which was very good, and driving to Ohio for Anberlin’s reunion tour.

I cover much of this in my post on Medium, but it went like this: my brother and I have loved Anberlin since we were teenagers, but they called it quits a few years ago and we never made it to the farewell tour. It never came to Pittsburgh, and neither of us was really in a position to travel for it. But one day, Brandon happened to notice that they’d mysteriously updated their social-media pictures, which these days only means one thing. Sure enough, they eventually announced a reunion tour, but like the farewell tour, there was no Pittsburgh date.

We missed the farewell tour. We weren’t gonna miss the reunion. We narrowed down a few cities within reasonable driving distance but settled on Cleveland, in large part because it was July 3 and we’d both have the next day off of work. It’s also a pretty short, easy drive, considering.

My only concern was that by the time the show rolled around, Brandon would have a baby just over a month old and would have just returned from a nearly month-long military training trip, and although Kelly gave him the go-ahead and only asked that we not get a hotel and stay overnight, I thought maybe she’d change her mind, and honestly, if she had, I wouldn’t have blamed her. She was well, well within her rights to say, “You’ve been gone for almost a month and we have a new baby, you are absolutely not going to a concert with your sister while I stay home.” I even made sure to only do e-tickets in case she did change her mind, that way I’d have a much easier time reselling them. Not that she’s that type, just that, again, new baby. But bless her, it didn’t happen, and Brandon came to my house the afternoon of the show, we grabbed some supplies, and hit the road.

Now, ticketing apps haven’t been great with differentiating between when doors open and when the first band hits the stage. Generally, doors open an hour before, and because I couldn’t find a time listed elsewhere, I assumed that the time listed was the start time and that doors were an hour prior to that. I was wrong. The good news was that our supply run took longer than expected, so we got there later than expected, and rather than arriving after doors opened like I thought, we were actually there a half-hour before. I was pretty happy about this.

The show was amazing. We sang every word, we screamed, we danced, we gaped at each other with every beloved song in the set–including those really early ones that got us into Anberlin to begin with. It was a perfect night, really. We had so much fun, we were back in front of a band that defined our teen years, truly, and that we’ve never stopped loving, and it felt just like we were there again. And that’s not a matter of nostalgia or wishing we were still teenagers, because believe me, I do not wish I was still a teenager, but rather a statement about just how much Anberlin has meant to us over the years and how not only has that not changed, but the band played like they’d never been gone. At best, I was in my early 20s the last time we saw them, maybe even my late teens, depending on the tour, and here we were, both there again, this time with me newly 30, both of us with spouses at home–in my case, in our house–and him with a baby, too.

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It was worth the excitement, the money, and the drive. Worth the wait? Nah, I’d have much rather spent the last few years hitting Anberlin shows once or twice a year like we used to. But whatever. I’m glad they’re back, one way or another.

And look, it was a nice sibling night, too. I mean, outside of the show, we had a couple hours in a car each way and over an hour waiting in line, so plenty of talking was done.

We got in around 2 in the morning, which is honestly not terrible under the circumstances, and Brandon told me the next day he was still too amped up to sleep when he got home. As for me, I passed right out.

Paul and I spent the 4th chilling at home and running errands, mostly, and spent the next few days getting dinner in Washington, hitting brunch in Pittsburgh, shopping, and tending to the garden.

Saturday 9: Like You Were Dying

Live Like You Were Dying (2003)

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

1) This song is about a man whose father advises him to live life to the fullest, to become “the friend you’d like to have.” How about you? Are you the friend you’d like to have? You know, there are things I could do better, but overall, yes.

2) The song lists several “bucket list” items: skydiving, mountain climbing, riding a bull. Have you done any of those things? Would you like to? I haven’t done any of them. I would love to climb a mountain, I could probably be talked into skydiving, but I would never ride a bull, not entirely because of safety–although that is a factor–but more because I don’t see the point and don’t like the idea of using an animal in that way.

3) In the music video, Tim McGraw is wearing a white button-down shirt, blue jeans and a cowboy hat. Which of those items is in your wardrobe? Definitely jeans, maybe a white button-down.

4) He wears a cowboy hat because he is embarrassed by the size of his forehead. When you wear a hat, are you more likely doing it for style, like Tim, or for protection from the elements? The elements. The closest I come to style is a little white knit hat I have, but even then, it’s only really coming out in cooler weather.

5) McGraw’s biological father was Tug McGraw, pitcher for the Mets and Phillies. How did your baseball team do this season? My team is the Pittsburgh Pirates and that’s all I need to say for you to know how they did this season.

6) Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill live just outside of Nashville. They enjoy inviting friends over to sit around a bonfire, drinking beer and playing guitars. Tell us about the most recent gettogether you had with friends. My friend Marissa just bought a house and had a housewarming party. It was a pretty standard deal for us with booze, a board game, and conversations that ranged from the serious to the absurd, but it was a lot of fun and we had a really good time.

7) Tim likes his tattoos. He admits his silliest one — a leprechaun wearing a cowboy hat — was acquired during a night of drinking. Do you have a tattoo? If so, are you glad you have it and would you get it again? I have a small heart on my wrist. My feelings towards it now are…complicated, given the circumstances under which I got it. And whether or not I’d get it again is also…complicated. I guess I’d say if I could go back in time and talk to myself and tell myself about things that happened afterwards, I absolutely would not. I intend to make some changes to it, actually.

8) In 2003, when this song was popular, the supersonic Concord took its last flight. When did you most recently board a plane? What was your destination? It’s been a good few years. I think it would’ve been when I flew to St. Louis (and back, of course) with my dad to go to my brother’s graduation from boot camp.

9) Random question: When did you last walk around the house naked? This morning, I think! I was only wearing a pair of red pajama shorts and did laundry, and I happened to be washing reds and figured I might as well take them off and toss them in. So I was naked after that, until I put on a different pair of pajama shorts.

Saturday 9: (Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You

(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You (1938)

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

1) This version of “You Made Me Love You” is the teenaged Judy Garland’s fan letter to Clark Gable. Tell us about one of your teen crushes. Pretty much any dude in a rock band, especially if he sang or played guitar.

2) Garland sang to this to Gable at a birthday party thrown for him at MGM. Who is the last person you sang “Happy Birthday” to? I don’t know! We haven’t really done it in a while, even when we have celebrated a birthday. Maybe one of my in-laws?

3) Thinking of birthdays … Judy received an engagement ring from the man who would be her first husband, David Rose, for her 18th birthday. Are you wearing a ring, or any jewelry, as you answer these 9 questions? Nope. I just woke up a little bit ago and I’m just hanging out at home today while I have the day off, so no jewelry.

4) It’s said Judy’s favorite dish was steak and kidney pie. If you could have anything at all for dinner tonight, what would you choose? A pasta of any kind.

5) Judy was ambidextrous, writing with her left hand but playing tennis with her right. Are you equally comfortable using your right and left hands? Not at all.

6) To relax between takes of her most famous movie, The Wizard of Oz, Judy read comics in the newspaper. Do you still read a printed newspaper? Not printed, but I do have a digital subscription to my local paper. And I know we’ve all gotten accustomed to getting those kinds of things for free, but please consider paid subscriptions to publications you like! If you value it, a paid subscription will help keep it alive.

7) She could also knit. Judy was known to make blankets and caps for the children of crew members on her films. Do you knit? No.

8) In 1938, when this record was popular, the March of Dimes was founded. Do you have any dimes in your wallet (or pocket) right now? There are probably a couple in my wallet.

9) Random question: Catsup puddle next to your fries, or a drizzle of catsup on your fries? Puddle!

Friday 5: Enclosures

  1. What’s something (besides an electronic device) for which you spent extra money on a protective case? I don’t think I have. I mean, I have a case for my contact lenses that’s a unicorn, but that was a small part of my birthday present from my mom.
  2. What product’s packaging do you find excessive or inadequate? I had an online order through Sephora semi-recently that came in a cardboard box that was kind of big for what was in it–it was mostly small things like lipsticks or eyeliner that have small, skinny packaging and could honestly be shipped in a large padded envelope, probably, instead of a box Come to think of it, I think Sephora, when it comes to small orders, is bad with wasteful packaging. Similarly, one of the brands they carry put out a vegan mascara people were really excited about, but it came in this huge package that was definitely for aesthetics and a lot of people weren’t happy about it.
  3. What are your preferences for food storage containers? We have these nice glass dishes with lids that seal tight that we really like. I also bought covers like these that just fit over our regular bowls, and we use the tiny one for the cats’ canned food.
  4. This coming week, what would you like to be shielded from? Annoying assignments at work.
  5. What’s something interesting you’re keeping in a plastic storage box in your home? Woof, whatever is lurking in boxes we haven’t touched since we moved in last year. There’s one with my old scrapbooks and other photos somewhere and one that I think is housing books still. There’s one with Christmas decorations. And two small ones with just silica powder that I used to preserve my wedding bouquet.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Shake It Off

Shake It Off (2014)

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

1) This song makes Crazy Sam want to dance. What song inspires you to get on your feet? There are many.

2) Paul McCartney met Taylor Swift at the SNL 40 Anniversary special and told her he really enjoys playing and singing this song. What’s the last song you sang along with? I don’t know, which is weird because I sing along to almost everything. Nothing that’s popping up in my “recently played” tabs is something I sing along to.

3) The lyrics tell us Swift “shakes off” nasty gossip and unfair criticism. What about you? Do you worry about what others think of you? Generally, no. I toe this weird line where I don’t care about the world at large, yet I don’t like it if I think someone dislikes me.

4) Her parents are big music fans, and were going to name their baby (boy or girl) “Taylor” after their favorite artist, James Taylor. Can you think of a singer that your mom and/or dad really enjoyed? Oh, easy. We were raised on music. For my mom, her biggest two were and still are Prince and Stevie Nicks. The only solo artist I ever remember my dad really enjoying was Meatloaf–and Steve Perry–but he was mostly into classic-rock bands.

5) She grew up on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm. Do you get a fresh tree every year, or do you have an artificial tree, or do you not put up a tree at all? We have an artificial tree, but we never finished putting it up last year. We were kind of trying to do it in stages because of the cat, who was new at the time, and never finished, and this year, we’ve added a second cat to the mix, so who knows?

6) Taylor Swift is 5’10”. According to the CDC, the average American woman is 5’4″ while men are, on average, 5’9″. Are you taller or shorter than average? I am technically taller than average, coming in at 5’4 1/2″.

7) She enjoys good, old fashioned mysteries, especially those by Agatha Christie. Are you currently reading a book for pleasure? I am always reading a book for pleasure. The current stack is Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson, The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

8) Her brother Austin is a freelance photographer who took the official pictures for her 2008 concert tour. Who took the last photo of you? Myself, but other than that, my mom took one of my recently being harassed by the dog for food.

9) Random question: What’s your go-to comfy outfit? Anything involving leggings. Unless I’m at home, in which case it’s either my undies or, in the winter, flannel jammies.