Friday 5: Pandemic Daze

  1. Where do you get most of your pandemic-related news? On a national level and relating to vaccines, NPR. Locally, as in case numbers, the death toll, and potential restrictions, my local paper. Also gonna use this moment to urge you all to subscribe to your local papers! They probably need you!
  2. How do you feel about your local government’s leadership during this pandemic? My local rep is a godawful, conspiracy-promoting Trump ass kisser who’s been accused by other constituents of only being interested in getting Trump’s attention and advancing his career and not doing anything for the area. I do know that there have been attempts by other politicians to get more financial aid to people and one of our county commissioners is a volunteer in one of the vaccine trials, so that’s cool and I have to give him credit for stepping up to do that. On the state level, I think we started strong with fair, science-based restrictions, but as cases have gone up, there’s been no reaction beyond strongly urging people to stay home and issuing cellphone alerts that I think annoy everyone, even those of us following the guidelines. I think this area in particular is poorly educated with certain political leanings, and I think the governor is afraid of pissing people off with any additional restrictions, so while I personally firmly believe that indoor dining and retail should be closed, it’s not and I don’t see that changing.
  3. What does your favorite mask look like, and about how many masks have you accumulated? I only have two. Since I was pregnant at the start of COVID, we’ve been pretty serious about not making non-essential trips–admittedly, there have been some exceptions–but with going out so infrequently, I don’t feel the need to have a lot. The best one is a heavier grey one designed to filter the air, and the other one I have is a pink Harry Potter one that was a gift from my best friend.
  4. Where have you most often had takeout during this pandemic? We’ve done drive-through more than anything. When I was pregnant, I wanted lots of ice cream and slushie-type drinks, so there was a lot of Dairy Queen, Rita’s frozen custard, and then later, Burger King. Taco Bell is a constant fast-food staple in this house, though. As for proper take-out, we haven’t favored one place over another, really. We kind of just get stuff here and there depending on what we’re in the mood for.
  5. What new interests, skills, or hobbies have you picked up since mid-March? Parenting! And I’ve been cooking more. But honestly, having a baby sucks up any time I may have devoted to either doing something new or brushing up on existing skills.

From Friday 5.

Last weekend, we mostly stuck to our decision to stay home. With some vacation days to burn, I did take Monday off, so with Eliana over at my mom’s, we took Charlie again for a bit of a playdate. We intended to visit Paul’s family, too, but they were possibly exposed to coronavirus and his mom told us not to come over, which I appreciate.

There’s been a patter of possible exposures with people close to us lately. His family was possibly exposed by his sister, and we hadn’t seen any of them if two weeks or more. A friend of mine had it. My brother’s sister-in-law and her new husband, whose wedding I chose to attend on Halloween, both came down with it in the last few days, and none of us have seen them since said wedding. We’re still planning on getting together for Thanksgiving, just visiting our respective parents and siblings, but I’ve been waffling on whether or not we should. We’re all fine and anyone we know who was exposed or has it hasn’t been around us in over two weeks, but such close calls are making me nervous. Initially, I felt okay about it since we’ve been seeing each other anyway, plus my mom has to come watch Charlie on Wednesday, so at that point, how much does it matter?

She was also over to help with him this past Thursday. Paul is enrolled in grad school through the Trade Act but had some appointments and a test to take related to it, and even though I work from home, I can’t manage that and a four-month-old baby. So my mom came out for a couple hours while Paul scheduled the test, and she’ll be back early this Wednesday morning when he actually goes to take it.

This weekend, we did stay put totally. I’m probably gonna head out at some point today and get some groceries, maybe buy Charlie a new little teething glove–when we were in Erie, the other couple visiting had a teething baby who had one, and it seems like no matter what teether we give him, he’s still shoving his hand in his mouth. Perfect solution. He loves the thing. When we put it on him, he’ll start pulling his hand to his mouth before it’s even totally on. The problem with that is it gets saturated in drool very, very quickly and starts to smell gross, but I hate to take it from him, so washing it has been limited to naps, and then it’s unlikely to make it through a wash and dry cycle without him waking up at some point. He doesn’t usually nap that long. So it would be nice to have a second one to rotate them out so he’s never without one. Plus he doesn’t have the greatest control of his hands, so if he’s using most any other teether, he needs a little help holding it. This he can handle on his own.

So far, small Thanksgiving plans are on for this week, and months ago, I took Black Friday off for the first time in years pretty much because I have a kid now, and I’d like to have a little more time to enjoy the holidays with him. Working Black Friday normally feels a little rushed–you have to make sure you’re home to get to bed at a reasonable hour to get up for work the next morning. I’ll be glad to have a day to chill at home. Although it’s true that you can’t exactly sleep in with a baby, you can nap!

Saturday 9: Walking on Broken Glass

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

1) Annie sings that she feels she’s walking on broken glass. What’s the most recent item you broke? Oh, I actually don’t know! That’s a good sign!

2) She sings about being cut until she bleeds. Tell us about a time you needed stitches. The good news is only once in my life. The bad news is it was after having a baby.

3) This week’s featured artist, Annie Lennox, was born on Christmas Day. Do you know anyone whose birthday falls on a holiday? Mine sometimes falls on Father’s Day and I know a few people whose birthdays sometimes fall on Thanksgiving.

4) When Annie met Dave Stewart, with whom she’d form the duo The Eurthmyics, she was living in Australia and staying in a tiny apartment called a bedsit. The occupant has his/her own combination bedroom/livingroom with cooking facilities, but must share a bathroom. Tell us about one of your early apartments. For a few years, I lived in a small one-bedroom place. The rent was cheap and a pipe leaked into our bathroom and kitchen from upstairs on the first day of a renewed lease. I’m a homeowner now.

5) After the Eurythmics broke up, Annie went out on her own. Would you rather work independently, or as part of a group? Independently.

6) Among her many honors, Annie Lennox was named chancellor of Scotland’s Glasgow Calledonia University. What’s the last college campus you visited? What brought you there? Probably my own alma mater, a Pitt campus, because that’s where my sister-in-law went and graduated from.

7) In 1992, the year this song was recorded, compact discs outsold cassette tapes for the first time. Back in the day, did you enjoy making your own mix tapes? I made a few as a kid, but I made a lot of mix CDs in high school.

8) Also in 1992, Johnny Carson made his last appearance as host of The Tonight Show.  The catchphrase, “Here’s Johnny!” was associated with the show. Can you think of another popular TV catchphrase? “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

9) Random question: Think of your past week. Now look ahead to the coming week. Would you like it to be more, or less, exciting? The same, I guess.

Friday 5: High Voltage

  1. Are you ready for a good time? You know what? I worked some long hours this week and I’m sleepy, so I’m ready for a calm time.
  2. What do you do for money, honey? I work for a closed-captioning company.
  3. Who’s your friend and who’s your foe? I’m not sure who I’d call a foe at this point, but I have a few good friends who have been around awhile.
  4. What do you do that’s guaranteed? Uh…nothing, technically?
  5. Do you wanna journey? In general, yes. With a four-month-old baby during COVID? Nope.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: All of Me

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

1) John Legend sings he loves his woman’s “perfect imperfections.” Tell us something quirky or imperfect about a loved one that you would not change. My husband lost his job over the summer due to foreign relocation, and although his work ethic and opinion of the company certainly suffered as the days dwindled down, he still had a bit of a sense of loyalty to them. My attitude was a little more negative and more like “if they don’t care about you, don’t care so much about them,” but the fact that he never got to that place is one of the things I love about him.

2) John wrote this love song to his wife, Chrissy Teigen. The couple recently lost their baby after pregnancy complications. To whom did you most recently send a sympathy (or “thinking of you”) card or message? I have a friend who’s having some health issues that I’ve tried to check in on every so often.

3) While adventurous in his creative career choices, John admits his taste in food leans toward the tried and true. His favorites are chicken (rotisserie or fried), macaroni and cheese, and steamed vegetables. What’s on your weekend menu? I’m gonna try this recipe I found for lemon ricotta pasta.

4) When he was growing up, John’s mother, Phyllis, helped support the family as a seamstress. Are you any good with a needle and thread? Yes, and I had a small sewing kit that got shuffled around when we moved to our house and keep meaning to buy a new one. I always want to get an actual sewing machine and get craftier, but there’s not really a good spot for it. That might have to wait for if we ever upgrade to a bigger house or, like, retirement when there’s empty bedrooms.

5) As a child, he was such a big fan of Andy Griffith and Matlock that he wanted to be a lawyer. If you grew up to have the same occupation as the TV character you liked best as a kid, what would you be doing? I’d be an FBI agent, relegated to the basement investigating UFOs.

6) John is a judge on The Voice. Do you watch that show? Or America’s Got Talent, or American Idol? Of the three, I prefer and am more likely to watch The Voice. I think the judges are nicer and the goal is a little more wholesome. American Idol has admittedly moved away from putting people on to embarrass them, but it hasn’t stopped entirely, and I think that’s a shitty thing to do to those people.

7) In 2013, the year this song was popular, twin baby pandas were born at Zoo Atlanta. Their panda parents had been given to the US as a gift from the Chinese, with the understanding that any offspring would be given to China. So, in 2016, the panda cubs were flown to a Chinese conservation center. They had a hard time adjusting at first, confused by jet lag, unresponsive when spoken to in Chinese, unimpressed by their new diet. Have you ever found yourself similarly overwhelmed when you traveled far from home? (BTW, the pandas are doing just fine now in their permanent Chinese home.) I usually have trouble sleeping and trouble pooping, but sounds like I do better than these poor pandas!

8) Also in 2013, The Pope posted his first tweet. What social media platforms do you regularly use? Twitter, Facebook, and probably Instagram, although I don’t scroll through it often and mostly just post.

9) Random question: Have you ever a) written something on a public wall or b) carved anything into a tree or bench? No, and I once joked about carving something into a tree when my husband and I were dating and he was very offended. Which I get.

Friday 5: It Can’t Be That Bad

  1. What movie makes you happy? There are a few, but a reliable one is The Wizard of Oz. There are probably movies I enjoy more, but that one was my favorite as a kid and at this point, the appeal is the familiarity.
  2. What song makes you happy? Again, many, but the ones on my mind right now are by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. “Dawn (Go Away)” is in my head in particular.
  3. What food makes you happy? Pasta of any kind. If it’s a noodle, I will love it.
  4. Who makes you happy with just a text message? Ordinarily, I’d say my husband, but our texts even since moving in together are more utilitarian than anything, like, “Do we need anything else while I’m out?” So probably my mom, who often sends pictures and video of my niece while she’s babysitting.
  5. What beverage is most likely to lift your spirits? A good, strong iced tea or iced coffee, like a caramel macchiato. Or actual spirits, like a mojito.

From Friday 5.

Well, so much for a weekend at home.

Brandon’s birthday is this weekend and he’ll be off with the military, so he wanted to celebrate this past weekend with dinner at Hofbrauhaus. My mom, knowing Paul and I aren’t keen on the indoor-dining scene with COVID surging, asked if we might be able to eat outside since the weather was going to be unseasonably warm, and so we had a nice lunch in the outdoor beer garden they’ve had set up for a few years now. So we agreed to that.

Most unfortunately, the Haus got rid of my favorite dish, and I realized too late that what I could’ve done was just eaten a few of my favorite sides–spatzle, German potato salad, and mashed potatoes–and hypothetically save money and calories. Hypothetically.

Afterwards, we went for a walk on a nearby trail, with me lagging significantly behind. I’m better than where I used to be, but man, some days, I can still really feel that just four months ago, a human being came out of my body.

This weekend, we intend to stay put. For real this time. I have a few vacation days left to burn, so I took Monday off and we may go out to my mom’s while she’s watching Eliana, but I think Paul and I both hope that’s it.

Speaking of Eliana, though, she loves Charlie, and it’s adorable. She calls him on her toy phone, and then when we get them together, she’s very interested in looking at him and touching him. He’s too little yet to really play with her, so I think she’s more fascinated by him, but it’s super cute to watch. Her face lit up when she saw him on Saturday, and I loved it.

In an effort to both get more involved and bring in a little extra money, Paul volunteered to work the polls on election day. The night before in bed, he goes, “I’m kind of nervous,” and although I didn’t say this, my tired brain thought, “Well, maybe you should’ve thought of that before.”

But everything went smoothly. Sure, there were a few, uh, interesting characters and one possible case of voter fraud, but nothing violent or scary. He came away with a better understanding of the process on that end and the comment, “A lot of stupid people vote.” The man in charge actually told him he ought to run for his position when he retires, but we live in a different district than him.

I spent the day on my own at home with Charlie, from about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Unable to do this and work a full day, I took off–we were too busy for them to approve vacation time, but they offered to give me the day in exchange for working extra hours during the week or a full day Saturday, so I took them up on that. The alternative was having his mom come out, which probably would’ve been fine, but he would’ve felt the need to make the house look like no one even lives here, so me getting the day off was the easier solution.

And then the nerves set in.

I resolved not to even watch results until 8 that night because I figured there was no point, but some friends were hopping on Zoom and some results started to trickle in a little before that, so my watch started. I remember saying and the others agreeing that despite waiting four years to cast that vote and watch these results come in, I was so not ready. Zoom boots you off after 40 minutes, so we did two 40-minute calls before deciding to call it a night. I didn’t sleep well. I woke up every hour, just about, and couldn’t resist checking my phone, even when it got to the point where it was pretty clear we wouldn’t be getting any more results until morning at best.

And then for the next four days, no matte which computer I was using–work or personal–I had a tab open to results that I checked regularly, and I checked any texts as soon as I heard my phone go off, knowing between my friends and my mom, someone was gonna say something. I was pleasantly surprised to see that both Georgia and Pennsylvania went from leaning Trump to flipping, and the Pennsylvania numbers I’d seen regarding mail-in ballots had me hopeful. And sure enough, while trying (and failing, for unrelated reasons) to take a nap on my lunch break during that Saturday shift, one of my cousins texted saying CNN was officially calling it for Biden.

At that point, it looked like that’s probably what would happen but just wasn’t official, but we were so happy and relieved when it happened. She and her fiancé did tequila shots, another cousin had champagne, and when our writing group got together that evening, we were informed that one of our participants had taken some time to sober up beforehand. I watched both Harris’ and Biden’s speeches then tried and failed to stay up for Saturday Night Live.

There’s a lot that could be said about how things panned out and what will happen moving forward, but for now, I feel like the country is about to be turned over to capable hands. Biden wasn’t my first choice, but I trust him not to make an even worse mess of things.

Saturday 9: For All We Know

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

1) This song is about newlyweds looking ahead to a happy life together. What are you looking forward to today? We’re in for the day and had been traveling the past two weekends, so I’m looking forward to just being home for the evening and accomplishing some much-needed housework, mainly laundry. Maybe squeezing in some reading.

2) They look forward to getting to know one another better. Tell us about someone who knows you well. Is it the person who has known you the longest? I’d say my mom, brother, husband, and best friend know me the best, and of course, of those, my mom has known me the longest. My husband is the shortest, but we have been together for 10 years!

3) The song lyrics are credited to “Robb Wilson” and “Arthur James,” but those aren’t their real names. Robb Royer and Jimmy Griffin were founding members of the 70s soft-rock group Bread. Are you familiar with that band? If so, do you have a favorite Bread song? (Find their greatest hits here.) I quite enjoy “Everything I Own” and would like to listen to more of them.

4) Richard Carpenter discovered this song on his afternoon off when he and sister Karen were on tour. He took a few hours to unwind at  the movies, heard this song in the film Lovers and Other Strangers, and decided it would make a perfect Carpenters record. How do you like to unwind? Movies, books, TV, the Internet, writing.

5) Karen Carpenter drank unsweetened iced tea, every day, all year long. Do you prefer your tea hot or cold? Cold, usually, but there’s nothing better than a hot cup of tea on a cold morning.

6) Elvis was a fan of Karen’s and, according to the recollection of singer Petula Clark, hit on her when she and Clark visited him backstage in Vegas. Pet recalled Karen was very innocent and said, “I felt responsible for her so I got her out of there.” Tell us about a time when you looked out for a friend. I can’t think of a recent time when I’ve had to!

7) President Richard Nixon was a Carpenters fan, too, and invited the duo to perform at the White House at an official dinner for West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. If you could hear anyone perform live in an intimate setting, like a dinner party, who would you choose? Ooooh. I’d have to go with David Bowie, since he’s among the few musicians I love that I never got to see live and never will.

8) Today Richard collects classic automobiles. He has a 1964 Ford Thunderbird, like the one Beach Boys sang about in the song “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Can you think of another song that mentions a car? “Little Red Corvette”! Baby, you’re much too fast.

9) Random question: Do you tend to feel more content at the beginning of the day, or at the end? Somewhere in between, when I’m done with work and unwinding but not, like, getting into bed.

Friday 5: Stick ‘Em Up!

  1. When were you a stick in the mud? I feel like one every time I decline an invitation to an event or insist on more stringent COVID precautions, but I refuse to say that I am one for having safety in mind.
  2. What’s a real stick-to-your-ribs meal you enjoy? Cottage cheese and dumplings, one of my favorite yet very simple meals. My mom calls them “lunkers” and says “they sit like rocks in your stomach.”
  3. When did you most recently regret sticking around for something? I don’t know, partly because it’s hard to stick around when you barely leave the house. And I’ve enjoyed the things I’ve stuck around for lately.
  4. When did you recently navigate a sticky situation? I think I kind of did it with some family Facebook drama recently–I said my piece respectfully and then bowed out because I wasn’t interested in remaining a part of it.
  5. What recently gave you sticker shock? Baby stuff goes back and forth with surprising me with how cheap one thing is, only for another to surprise me with its high price. Everyone talks about how expensive it is, so you brace for that and sometimes overshoot and are pleasantly surprised. But I was looking into monthly subscription playkits for each age/developmental stage, and one was $80 a month. Nope. I found a similar one for a much more reasonable $15, so I might get that.

From Friday 5.