Friday 5: In Friday Veritas

  1. The motto of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus, which means, “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.” Using Google Translate to turn English to Latin, what would be the name and motto of a school you founded? I’d probably found a school for writing, and because I’m a procrastinator, the motto would be “Quare scribe quod non est hodie cras scribam?” Which is “Why write today what you could write tomorrow?”
  2. What is the motto of a school you attended, and how do you feel about its representing you (or about your representing it)? The only motto I remember is my middle school’s, a Catholic school with the motto “centered in Christ.” I’ve kind of abandoned Catholicism, so…(although, that said, when you look at what Jesus actually taught and the way he conducted himself, I think I represent that well enough, for a flawed human being in 2020)
  3. From this list of university and college mottos, which will be yours for the coming weekend? I didn’t see one that pertained to sleeping for a really long time. Weird.
  4. Based strictly on its motto, which country should you be a citizen of? France, with “Liberty, equality, fraternity,” or Germany, which unofficially is “Unity and justice and freedom.”
  5. Based strictly on its motto, which U.S. state, federal district, or territory should you probably stay away from? Maryland with “Manly deeds, womanly words” because 1) what the fresh sexist hell is that and 2) clearly, I do not have womanly words.

From Friday 5.

So the time my dad was in the hospital was a lot of back and forth. Most days, we didn’t go out because he slept almost constantly. A friend of his from high school popped in one evening–Scott, our wedding DJ, matter of fact–and my dad was awake for a little bit to see him, and Scott said it wasn’t the Brian he knew. It was the Brian any of us knew, and when he was first diagnosed, my fear was basically seeing him exactly the way we did, weak and thin and barely eating. It felt like being with a little kid some days. If one of us was there, my mom would usually go home for a bit with instructions to pay attention to what he ate and try to get him to eat a little more. We’d use Eliana to manipulate him, essentially. If he said he was full after a few bites of yogurt, we’d say, “Take another bite for Eliana,” and that generally worked.

The goal was to get him well enough to travel to Philadelphia for a new kind of treatment, but it just wasn’t working. There were a lot of emotional ups and downs while he was in the hospital–one day, he’d be doing well and looking at going home soon, the next he’d say he was ready to give up. Ultimately, when he was weak and things were just not looking good, he decided on hospice care.

I remember thinking sometimes about how while we weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant, part of me felt like being more deliberate about it, essentially rushing things to cram in as much as possible while he was still here. And now, having passed the frustrating, nausea-filled first trimester, I can’t imagine if it actually would’ve happened and how difficult it would’ve been to be pregnant with a terminally ill parent and ultimately going through a funeral. Sometimes, I’m the type who believes that things work out the way they’re supposed to, and this was one of those times. Because between Brandon and I, I have the more flexible job in terms of getting time off and at the time, he had a new baby and I did not. I could count on Paul to handle things like the house and cats while I did things like dog-sit…

…and help my mom with hospice care. The joys of being the elder child with fewer responsibilities, sort of.

So they brought him in, and I mostly wrangled the dog while he got settled. He was transported by ambulance, and I remember my mom worrying about the little girl across the street getting upset if she saw. She loves their dog, and she always said hi to my dad while he was out.

And then my mom, Uncle Eric, and I sat around the dining-room table while the nurse went over all of the care information. Uncle Eric was a medic in the military and worked as an EMT for a while in the last several years, so he was there both as an older brother and as a good go-between who understood more of the medical side than we did. I’ve mentioned some of these details before, but I remember thinking it was really bizarre to be talking about all this right down the hall from someone who was essentially dying. But I was also grateful, in a weird way, that when the subject of things like a Do Not Resuscitate Order came up, we were all on the same page and level-headed–not that it was’t a difficult conversation, but that we were realistic about what we knew he would want and what we thought made sense. At least from my perspective, why keep someone hanging on when the cancer is going to win eventually anyway? It felt selfish. It would’ve been for us, not him.

Also, for the record, although he was ultimately only home a few days until he died and I only interacted with two hospice nurses myself, they were both angels–nice, sympathetic, and as far as I can tell, great at their jobs. It has to be really hard work, but at far as my interactions went, they were supportive and helpful.

He was set up in my former bedroom. I popped in before I left and gave him a hug, exchanged a few words since he was awake, and headed home. It was the last time I saw him awake and talked to him.

On my way home while I was listening to the radio, a live version of “Landslide” came on that starts with Stevie Nicks dedicating it to her dad. I cried. Thanks, universe, you dick.


Saturday 9: Secret Valentine

In honor of Valentine’s Day. Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) The lyrics talk about a song that’s so romantic it “turns out the lights.” Are the lights on in the room you’re in right now? Yep. Although if we really wanted to, we could put the blinds up and turn the lights off, which is generally what I prefer.

2) In the video, our heroine’s Valentine’s Day adventure begins with a note slipped into her pocket. What’s in your pocket right now? I’m in my pajamas and I’m a woman, which is to say I have no pockets.

3) This week’s band, We the Kings, are proud sons of the state of Florida. Bradenton, to be exact. They even called one of their CDs Sunshine State of Mind. Have you ever been to Florida? If so, where have you visited? I have! I went to Disney in Orlando.

4) Lead singer Travis Clark has a pierced lip but doesn’t always wear a lip ring. Do you have any piercings? If yes, are you wearing jewelry in your piercing(s) right now? I have my ears pierced. No earrings in right now, though.

5) The band’s name comes from a cheer they did when they attended Martha B. King High School. Have you attended your high school reunion? I did–my 10-year reunion was a couple years ago. We had a nice dinner.

6) Hearts are the symbol of Valentine’s Day, so here’s a little heart trivia: whales have largest heart of any animal. When we say a person is “big hearted,” it means we think of them as generous. Think about the people in your life. Who would you describe as big hearted? My best friend, my husband, and my mom. They’d all do whatever they could to help their friends and family. My mom is particularly generous with me and my brother (and our respective spouses) because she insists she wants to do as much as she can when she can.

7) It’s estimated that 9 million people buy Valentine’s Day presents for their dogs and cats. Have you ever purchased a holiday gift for a pet? I usually buy Christmas gifts for the pets of the humans I’m exchanging gifts with.

8) Valentines to teachers are also big sellers. Did you ever have a crush on one of your instructors? Nah, although I was probably teetering close to it at times.

9) With the popularity of e-cards, fewer Valentine messages are sent via the USPS. What’s the most recent thing you dropped into a mailbox? A bill. I generally still prefer the mail for those because it keeps me more organized, or so I think.

Friday 5: What’s the Word?

  1. A portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words, as with “motor” and “hotel” becoming “motel,” or “breakfast” and “lunch” becoming “brunch.” What would be a good portmanteau to describe your mood today? This isn’t technically a mood, but thired–thirsty and tired. Pregnancy is almost definitely responsible for both. I swear I wake up dehydrated every morning.
  2. An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as when “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” becomes LASER and “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus” becomes SCUBA. What’s a pronouncable acronym to describe a meal you had today? I got nothing–all I’ve had so far is oatmeal and tea.
  3. A backronym is a constructed phrase purporting to be the source of a word that is an acronym, as when (in elementary school) my classmates insisted KISS (the band name) stood for Knights Under Satan’s Service or that FORD (the name of the auto manufacturer) stood for Fix Or Repair Daily, or Found On Road Daily, and don’t get me started on SPAM. What’s a good backronym for the name of a street you traverse regularly? I’m going with Main, the street we live on, but I’m stuck on what it could stand for. I keep trying to start with Many Animals because of the critters that we often see in our yard, but then I get stuck on a second half that makes sense.
  4. A demonym is a word identifying residents or natives of a particular place, usually derived from the name of the place, as “Californian” is a demonym for people from California, and “Iraqi” is a demonym for people from Iraq. What would be a good demonym for the people who serve you at a favorite establishment? We have a couple coffee shops in town. One is called Chicco Baccello, and I like the idea of calling their staff Baccello Fellows.
  5. Onomatopoeia is the process of creating a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes, as when we describe a cat as saying “meow,” or a sack of flour hitting the floor going “thud.” What are some onomatopoiec words to describe sounds your body makes? These days, mostly grumbling.

From Friday 5.

Some of the days that my dad was in the hospital were chaotic, especially at first. The second day, to help my mom out, we drove out and took my parents’ dog for a walk up in the mountains, then spent a few hours at the hospital. We’d kind of go in shifts–my mom was there a lot, of course, and if someone else was there, she at least felt like she could go home for a bit.

When he first went in, he mostly needed fluids and they felt they could release him, but my parents opted to keep him there overnight to get some rest. Somehow, though, he ended up getting worse. There were a lot of ups and downs–one day, he’d be doing a lot better and they’d talk about sending him home, the next he needed more care. And he started sleeping a ton at a certain point, to where visiting was mostly whoever was there sitting talking amongst themselves. After a few days, my mom told us not to worry about coming out during the week since we had an hour-long drive to get there.

The back and forth we did do, though, meant a lot of eating out. After the trip to the mountains, we realized we hadn’t really eaten all day and had dinner at a Mexican place in town before visiting Paul’s parents at home, because might as well if it’s all in the same area.

In the midst of this, our siding was finally getting redone, after having started that process in the spring. What was supposed to be a few weeks before they got started turned into months when they got backed up and when our original sales rep messed up our order, which another rep came out to fix. So our old, faded green siding got pulled down and replaced with nice, new light grey, with a dark-blue trim around the windows. And at some point, I remember going outside to admire and thinking, “My dad is never going to see this.”

Saturday 9: Two Divided by Love

Unfamiliar with this week’s song? You can hear it here.

1) Sam’s teacher told her she’d use math every day. What’s the last math problem you solved? (Did you add to/subtract from the balance of your checkbook … use division to figure out how much you’d save with 25% off that sweater …) Most likely calculated the time I’d spent on something at work.

2) The lyrics tell us that if you take away the rain from a flower, the flower just won’t grow. Do you have any indoor houseplants? Could they use a drink of water this morning? No. We’re so bad at house plants, for some reason. We forget to water them, despite seeing them daily.

3) This week’s artists, The Grass Roots, are introduced in this video by country music superstar Kenny Rogers. Who is your favorite country music singer? Probably Johnny Cash.

4) The two unmarried members of the group — guitarist Warren Entner and drummer Ricky Coonce — competed for a lady’s affection on a 1968 episode of The Dating Game. Neither of them won! She chose Bachelor #1. Anyway, have you ever appeared on a game show? Do you know anyone who has? I haven’t, but my 4th grade teacher was on Wheel of Fortune. Everyone loved her, which is probably why (I’m almost positive) the nuns drove her to tears and she didn’t come back the following year.

5) The Grass Roots were originally called The 13th Floor. They chose this cheeky name because many high rises do not have a 13th floor since 13 is considered an unlucky number, and they were thumbing their noses at superstition. Are you superstitious? Not really.

6) At the time of his death in 2011, group leader Rob Grill was still playing music, touring with a reconfigured Grass Roots. His widow Nancy referred to him as “one lucky son of a gun” because he’d been able to support himself as a musician, doing what he loved for 45 years. In what ways do you consider yourself fortunate? I have a great family, amazing husband, steady job, and we have a kid on the way.

7) In 1971, the year this song was released, Walt Disney World opened in Florida. The Epcot Center was added in 1982. Have you ever visited this, or any, Disney theme park? I have! That one, in Florida. I had a lot of fun.

8) Fresh chicken was just 43¢/lb. in 1971. Do you prefer the breast or drumstick? I’m a vegetarian, but I always preferred drumsticks.

9) Random question: Do you work well under pressure? I think so. Not as well as I might normally, of course, but I can handle it.

Friday 5: Buckets

  1. When did you most recently sprinkle something on your food? Probably when I added a little salt to soup my mom made right after Christmas.
  2. When were you last made misty by something you saw online? Almost definitely within the last few days, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. I’d say pregnancy hormones are to blame, but that’s not true. I tear up at dumb shit on the internet all the time.
  3. Who are some of your favorite cats and dogs of cinema or television? I don’t know, pretty much all of them? Can I answer Baby Yoda?
  4. What precipitated your most recent familial disagreement? Huh, I don’t know. If it counts, my husband and I are struggling to agree on baby names.
  5. Who most recently poured his or her heart out to you? Probably my husband.

From Friday 5.

So it turns out that I left off on the life updates talking about Julie’s wedding and Katie announcing her pregnancy, and I mentioned in that post that getting pregnant hadn’t happened for us yet. Turns out I was pregnant when I wrote that and didn’t know!

In the months since, Meri went from El Paso to back here for the summer to D.C., and I went to dinner in Pittsburgh with her and Marissa one night in late July when Meri was bringing her cats up. We started at this really good little sushi place, had a nice dinner and conversation, then moved to a bar for a couple of drinks and hung out pretty late–late enough that Marissa needed something to eat and we ended up at a fried-chicken place close to 1 AM. And then I drove about an hour back home. Woof.

As it turned out, about the time I was getting home and going to bed, my parents were heading to the hospital, and from there, it was all downhill for my dad. He’d started having some issues overnight–at this point, I can’t remember what–and wanted to go to the hospital, and he was so weak that my mom had to bring the car around front and help him. She called around 7 in the morning, so we spent some time at the hospital later that day.

But at the time, my dad’s condition was better–my parents just opted to keep him in the hospital to get him some rest and fluids, both of which he was having trouble getting at home. The plan then was to get him out to Philly for new treatments. We knew by then the chemo had done nothing, and he was so close to his appointment. It was a matter of him being strong enough to go, but that never happened. In fact, he died about two weeks later. It’s weird still, and it’s weird to think that that first day looked fairly optimistic.

On top of that, that first day in the hospital was Paul’s birthday. I wish I could give everyone perfect birthdays, and this was just a rough one. But with things looking okay, we did head into Pittsburgh. He wanted to see the latest John Wick movie, and as much as it must suck spending your birthday with your father-in-law in the hospital, I could tell the movie at least raised his spirits some.

Of course, we didn’t know then that it was pretty much the beginning of the end and the start of a downhill slide.



There were two things I had my eye on doing this year that will be put on hold with a baby arriving in July: I wanted to redo our landscaping but don’t want to spend that money now, and I wanted to buy a nice, high-quality camera and start getting into proper concert photography, but I probably won’t have the time or motivation.

I expect 2020 to be similar to 2019 in that big changes are happening, albeit on the complete other end of the life spectrum, and therefore time will be limited and things will be thrown into chaos. That said, here’s what I’m looking to do.

  • Small projects around the house. Obviously, we’ll need the baby’s room done, which means ripping out built-in shelving that’s taking up an entire wall in that bedroom and fixing the carpet where Sarge, the new cat, pulled it up. But I’d still like to tackle one other small project since the landscaping is being scrapped, and I’ve got my eye specifically on replacing the hot-water tank. We had to have a part replaced on the furnace last winter, and while the guy was doing that, he pointed out some corrosion near the water tank and said it’ll need replaced soon-ish, and I want to go tankless anyway.
  • Find Paul a new job. I think his current one will still hang on a bit, but if he can get out of there so we’re not worried about what might happen and maybe even get a job good enough that would allow me to quit and stay home with the baby, that would be nice.
  • Get published. I’ve got one piece out in the ether I’m waiting for a response on, and I fully expect this is gonna be a tough one to tackle after the baby’s born–mostly. Like many writers, I have plenty of things written that needs homes, so if nothing else, my hope is to send some of that out when I have time. At least that’s a relatively short process.
  • Explore freelance opportunities. Look, a new job is out of the question. My current situation working from home is too convenient to ditch while pregnant or with a new baby, and frankly, taking on a lot of extra work is a dumb idea, too. But if I can find a few small things to throw in to make a little more money and/or get my name and work in the world more? Awesome.
  • Get physical. I have been knocked on my ass since I found out I was pregnant. The nausea and vomiting are pretty much gone now, but I’m so, so tired. But I would really like to get back to the gym just to hit a treadmill a couple times a week because I know it would be good for me, it’s just really hard to muster the energy.
  • Don’t neglect myself in the postpartum months. Obviously, I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how I’ll feel physically or emotionally or what my kid will be like. I don’t expect to bounce back quickly, but I’d still like to get back into a good workout routine when possible and do what I can to make sure I don’t feel too overwhelmed. I don’t expect it to be easy, but I’ve got a great husband who’s been solid so far and I don’t doubt will be a good parent on his own but will also not let it all fall on me.
  • Be a kick-ass mom. When I think ahead to when the baby’s born, I keep thinking about the fun I think we’ll have. Everyone talks about how much things change and how hard having a new baby is and I believe them, but you know what I’ve also heard? That it’s exciting, fun, and rewarding, and I have plenty of examples around me of parents whose lives haven’t ended the way a lot of people like to make it sound like they will. As on of Paul’s work friends put it, if someone is still heavily into, like, late-night-drinking culture, sure, that’s done, but for those of us who stay in almost all week and venture out on weekends? We’re gonna be fine. So for 2020 and the six-ish months of it I’ll spend as a new mom, I want to take our kid out into the world to enjoy as much of life as a baby can, the way Paul and I have. Plus he or she will have two cousins to meet and get to know, plus grandparents and plenty of aunts and uncles.

And really, that’s it for the year–I say that as though it’s gonna be a simple year. It’s a short list, sure, but because of huge changes coming. They’re already underway, really.

And it’s all too fitting that Paul and I are having a kid in the year that will bring out 10th anniversary as a couple. That’s insane. We’ve already spent a decade of our lives together! Ridiculous.

Saturday 9: Waiting All Day for Sunday Night

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

1) This week’s Saturday 9 has a football theme because there’s a big game Sunday. Will you be watching? Nope! I was at my sister-in-law’s baby shower, and then we (and by “we” I mostly mean my husband because I, too, am pregnant and was therefore banned from carrying basically everything) hauled all the gifts back to the house.

2) The Super Bowl is a big day for food consumption in the US, second only to Thanksgiving. What’s on your menu this weekend? Baby shower food! So potato salad, rigatoni, green beans, your standard Pennsylvania fire-hall event fare.

3) The NFL has decreed that the Super Bowl will never be played in a city that has a median February temperature of less than 50º. Would your hometown qualify for the Big Game? No, although today, we hit a little above 60, and it’s not the first time this winter and I don’t expect it to be the last.

4) This version of the NFL theme song mentions the Steelers and the Broncos. During the regular season, which team do you root for? How did they do in 2019? So the Steelers are my local team, and my understanding is they didn’t have a great season. But here’s the thing–I don’t like football. I find it boring and borderline pointless, and I think this country has a serious issue with venerating both the sport and its players from the local level all the way to the top that we overlook a lot of really bad things, going all the way up to the NFL, which needs to take concussions seriously, including a willingness to entertain studies involving medical marijuana rather than their current bullshit stance on avoiding in entirely under the guise of keeping things family-friendly, which leads me to my second issue with the organization. Drug use, medical or otherwise, is more frowned upon than domestic violence, which the organization has not done enough to address, and which seems to be related in part to the fact that we as a society venerate football players…

5) This version of the Sunday Night Football song is by Faith Hill. She also has ties to the MLB, since her husband is Tim McGraw, son of the Mets’ pitcher Tug McGraw. Which sport do you prefer — baseball or football? Baseball, although I can’t really stand to watch it on TV. I’ll get bored with that. But I’ll gladly go to a game or two during the season. I have fun, even if the Pirates are doomed to spend eternity losing.

6) Faith has performed live at more than one The Super Bowl in the past, performing both “America, the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” What’s your favorite patriotic song? “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Let’s play that one at sporting events!

7) She has a perfume line with Coty that was a big seller at CVS during Christmas 2018. What’s the last item you bought at a drugstore? I got a flu shot and then was thirsty and bought a small bottle of juice.

8) Faith Hill is the producer of a talk show on CMT called Pickler and Ben. Is the TV on as you answer these questions? If so, what are you watching? It is not.

9) Random question: You’ve got a chip in your hand and three dips to choose from — guacamole, salsa, and onion. Where does your chip get dipped? I go for the salsa first and the most, as long it’s mild, and I dabble in the quac. I probably try the onion a couple times but stick to what I know I like.