For at least the last few weeks, probably over a month, my family’s summer plans have hinged on my brother. We still haven’t celebrated Father’s Day–my dad wanted to go into downtown Pittsburgh but not on the day itself, and my brother’s been going here one weekend and there the next, and for the last three weeks, he’s been out in California for his annual summer training with the military. But the day after he got back in the state and the morning Kelly went to pick him up, we squeezed in our annual zoo trip. Much fun was had by all. Plus after three weeks of shitty military cooking, he wanted to eat at Hofbrauhaus. A win for us all.

Meanwhile, in the new house, we still haven’t technically unpacked, but the number of boxes sitting in the middle of rooms and hallways is dwindling slowly. Neither Brandon nor I has fully removed our belongings from our parents’ house, so now that I have room for almost all of it, she had me come over to clean out my designated shelf in the garage. I couldn’t take everything–after we get some credit cards paid down, we need a nice set of living-room furniture and some other small pieces, and there’s some little stuff down in that garage that wouldn’t have a place to go in the house just yet, like the china I got that was my grandmother’s. But we did remove three big boxes, a few smaller ones, and a big bag, so that’s progress.

And then I set out with my parents to upgrade our phones. I’d say it was about a year ago that my phone was showing signs of being ready for a new one, but I put it off. Then last week, two days in a row, my battery life plummeted after just opening Twitter, and although it hadn’t done it since, I was afraid of having to constantly be tethered to a charger as the battery life dwindled. Now, I’ve said many a time that I do not give two shits about having the latest and greatest anything, and my upgrade strategy is to get a newer model but not the newest–I almost always opt for the oldest model they’re still selling that’s newer than the one I have. So the funny part is that while I’d been carrying an iPhone 5S for quite possibly four years or longer, I only moved up to a 6S. I’m many a generation behind and the differences between the models are minimal, but let me tell you, I’m playing with the thing like it’s an X. And the rose-gold finish is so great.

I have a hair under two weeks left of reporting to the office before I go back to working from home, and lemme tell ya, even though I only did two or three weeks or working from home, it was enough to make me miss it a week into the in-office rotation. It’s not even that I dislike going in, per se–I like seeing people and talking to them, and with almost everyone working remote, it’s really quiet and has a more informal feel than it used to, but man, you just can’t beat getting up 20 minutes before your start time and working in your pajamas.

This coming weekend, Paul’s grandparents were going to have an anniversary party, but it’s been canceled, so we may be looking at a weekend to ourselves for the first time in a few weeks. We could use it–I’d really like to go to a movie, and as infrequently as we make it to new ones, showings of Little Miss Sunshine at Row House are really, really tempting. Paul’s never seen it, much like many movies that came out when his siblings were young. That is one of the great things about Row House. They have a new theme every week, and if you want to introduce someone to an older movie you love and still have that theater experience, that’s the way to do it.


Saturday 9: It’s a Jungle Out There

Saturday 9: It’s a Jungle Out There (Theme from Monk) (2003)

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

1) This week’s song is the theme from the detective show that ran from 2002-2009. Were you a fan? I never watched it regularly when it was first on, but I’ve enjoyed a few reruns.

2) The song warns us about the air we breathe and the water we drink. Does your home have an air or water filter? Neither, although since we get city water, a filter might be a good idea. I’ve considered an air filter in the past, but I’m on the fence about whether or not we actually need it.

3) The lyrics say, “People say I’m crazy to worry all the time.” Are you a worrier? Or do you just take things as they come? I don’t worry much, but when I do, it’s usually unnecessary. It’s a product of overthinking, I’m sure. My therapist and I have the kind of rapport where once when I told him one of these dumb worries, he rolled his eyes at me, because he knows I know I’m being ridiculous.

4) TV’s Adrian Monk is known for his outstanding deductive powers, an homage to Sherlock Holmes. Have you read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books featuring Sherlock Holmes? I have not, but maybe I’ll check them out at the library.

5) Monk was also known for fastidiousness and precision, an homage to Hercule Poirot. Have you read any of Agatha Christie’s books featuring Poirot? No, but I wouldn’t mind checking those out, either.

6) This song was written and performed by Grammy and Emmy winner Randy Newman. Do you have any trophies or plaques? I mean, does my Book-It medal count? It should. I did win a writing award in college, but that’s more of a certificate.

7) Before winning an Oscar in 2001, Mr. Newman had the distinction of having the most nominations (15) without a win. Do you consider yourself a graceful loser? I’m competitive and in a board game or other kind of friendly thing, I’m a little more vocal and animated. But for, like, legit things? Very graceful.

8) In 2003, when this song was introduced, Lance Armstrong won his fifth Tour de France. Later, he was disgraced in a doping scandal. Can you think of a time when a hero disappointed you? I can’t think of anything crushing. I’ve been disappointed in certain opinions and lapses in judgment, but fortunately, I’ve never had someone I’ve really loved and admired be terrible.

9) Random question — We’re catering lunch. Should we put you down for a burger or a taco? Taco! Vegetarian, of course.

Friday 5: Regionalism

  1. What regional colloquialism in your area would baffle people from elsewhere? I live in the Pittsburgh area, and Pittsburghese is a whole thing. I think the word “yinz” is the most famous example that a lot of people have probably heard mentioned when Pittsburgh is discussed, but other good ones are “n’at,” which is basically “and so forth,” and “jagoff,” which is basically a jerk. It is not, as some would have you believe, a cuss.
  2. What’s something you call by a name that differs from what most people in your region call it? I’m not sure. I don’t use a lot of Pittsburghese, but that’s mostly because I grew up far enough outside of the city that I didn’t hear it as much. Maybe some places? As sponsorships of arenas and things like that change, so do the names, and you can kind of tell someone’s age by how they know a place. There’s a concert pavilion that hasn’t been called Star Lake in decades, but that’s what people my parents’ age still call it.
  3.  What’s a normal food in your region that people in other regions might be weirded out by? Primanti’s sandwiches are the famous one, which depending on your taste either sounds amazing or terrible. Coleslaw and fries are put on the sandwich itself. There’s also a lot of Polish heritage around here and therefore Polish food, and I always joke that Polish food looks like someone was down to their last two ingredients in a pantry and mixed them together–haluski is cabbage and noodles, and then there’s also cottage cheese and noodles.
  4. What’s something in your area with an official name almost nobody refers to it by? See the above about place names. I also live near the college Washington & Jefferson, which everyone here shortens to “W&J.”
  5. What are the names of some convenience stores in your area? Sheetz, which started by distant relatives. GetGo, which is part of local grocery chain Giant Eagle.

As always, from Friday 5.

So there was a fun mishap on Saturday where I couldn’t get in the building at work due to something with the door code. At least I was able to come back home and work here, but still, not great.

The good news is it meant I was able to have lunch with Julie, who was in town for a bridal shower I got out of couldn’t make it to. She and Paul had plans to grab lunch, so they got takeout and I spent my half-hour break hanging out on the deck with them. Julie and her boyfriend, Michael, got engaged earlier this summer and are in the early stages of wedding planning, so we were chatting about that and mommy dearest. Like me, Julie doesn’t want a bridal shower because, like me, she doesn’t need the stuff, so we’ll see how that plays out.

In the evening, Paul and I went for a long walk on a nearby trail, then stopped over at the mall since we were really close to it, then in the morning made our weekly trip to the coffee shop in town and headed up to the mountains for another couple hours of hiking. When we were done, we went to my parents’ house for a bit.

I spent my Monday off enjoying a day at home, and man, waking up and walking down the hall of my house is great. So is the fact that the moving is done, although muscle memory is powerful–although neither of us has gone to the apartment instead of the house, we’ve both had some close calls.

This weekend, Brandon gets back from three weeks away doing military training, and the plan is for a Sunday zoo trip.

Saturday 9: The Nanny

Saturday 9: The Nanny (1993)

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

1) This week’s song is the theme from a sitcom that originally aired from 1993 to 1999. Were you a fan? I watched it on occasion more as a casual fan, but I never really got into it or followed it closely.

2) The song tells us that Fran once worked in a bridal shop. Have you ever worked in a retail setting? Nope. I managed to dodge that bullet.

3) The kids in the Sheffield household appreciate their nanny’s “joie de vivre,” which is defined as “exuberant enjoyment of life.” Are you feeling joie de vivre this morning? I had to work this morning, but it’s been a good evening. So sure.

4) “The Nanny” is the colorful one, the one who wears red when everyone else wears tan. What color do you think you look best in? Red is my favorite color, but I actually think the most flattering colors are a little more subdued–darker shades of things, generally.

5) The TV show The Nanny was the brainchild of actress Fran Drescher. She got the idea while visiting her an old friend in London. Her friend’s pre-teen daughter enjoyed having Fran as a confidante and shopping buddy. Do you enjoy shopping as a leisure activity? Or would you prefer to just dash into a store, grab what you need, and get out and go home? Somewhere in between–I like certain stores and don’t mind wandering around in them, but I’m not much of a browser. I learned this the hard way shopping with a friend in high school, who looked at like every single pair of jeans on a rack to decide on a pair, and I can be in and out. I’m also the kind of picky where I can rule out a whole rack of clothes with a glance.

6) The friend Fran was visiting in London was Twiggy, who was the world’s most famous model in the 1960s. Name another famous model. Iman, wife of David Bowie.

7) The Nanny: The Complete Series is available on DVD on Amazon. It consists of 19 discs and takes 55 hours to watch, start to finish. What TV show have you recently binge watched? I hate binge-watching. I’m just not designed for it. I always feel like I should be doing something productive–I’m the kind of person who tries to cram a lot into a day–plus I kind of just don’t like sitting there for that long. That said, it occasionally happens, usually if something is leaving Netflix. I did it a few years ago for the amazing anime Blood+.

8) The Nanny theme was sung by Liz Callaway. Her father, the late John Callway, was a long-time Chicago newscaster. Have you, or has a loved one, ever been on TV? I was on the local news as a kid. My dad and I were in a local theater to see A Christmas Carol and I looked super cute, and someone from the news picked me out of the crowd to stand behind a table during a Tickle-Me-Elmo raffle. Oh, the ’90s. And I have a friend who’s acting out in LA, and my mom’s board meetings are televised locally. Exciting stuff. My grandma used to watch every one, which was silly but adorable.

9) Random question — Which of these adjectives comes closest to describing you: sexy, sophisticated or down-to-earth? Down-to-earth.

Friday 5: Great and Small

  1. What’s your favorite large, furry animal? Uh, all of them? I am partial to the big cats, though, tigers in particular. They just look so awesome.
  2. What’s your favorite large sea creature? Again, all of them? Dolphins and whales in particular. I’m also a big fan of sea lions, but I don’t think those really count as large.
  3. What’s your favorite insect? NONE. Okay, fine, butterflies.
  4. What are your favorite names for pets you’ve known? I named our dog Mandy, as well as my fish, Blinky, but I think Duke had one of the better dog names, if kind of stereotypical. My parents’ new dog, Seger, has a pretty great name. He’s named after Bob Seger, of course, by the man who bred him and when my mom asked my brother and I if they should change it, we said keep it. He was six months old and knew his name, and I think it’s a good one. You thin of the musician at first, yeah, but when you think about it as a pet name, it’s good. Not super common or silly and it’s kind of different.
  5. Besides unicorns, what are some mythical beasts you wish were real? Damn, unicorns is a good one. I guess my second choice, then, would be a phoenix because they’re gnarly.

As always, from Friday 5.

I accidentally gave myself a four-day weekend. I forgot that I’d be starting my weekend rotation and would have Monday off, and then I’d taken Tuesday off just to use a day. The only reason I picked that day was because not a ton of other people were off, so it worked, and thus, accidental four-day weekend.

And really, the only thing we did was go to a joint birthday part for Terra and her niece, Betty, which was fun. We hung out with her and Jon, were entertained by the kids, Jacob and Katie came for a bit, it was a good time. And the rest of the weekend was pretty much downtime.

It’s nice to finally not have an apartment to have to clean out, so having any downtime at all was nice, let alone more or less four days of it. Monday and Tuesday I mostly just spent at home hanging out and doing some stuff like writing, with a little gym time in the evenings.

For the near future, that’s probably how things are going to be. The perk of Saturday rotation is that because no one else has Mondays off, it forces me to stay home and chill for a day, and at least for the next few weeks, we have no set plans. I’m hoping maybe we’ll get to the movies and stuff like that, but it’s nice to have an open schedule and a little freedom that way for the first time in a couple months.