The weekend was a great success.

Friday night, we had concert tickets in Greensburg, but Paul had a doctor’s appointment he’d kind of forgotten about. It was early enough that it didn’t really mess with our plans, mostly, and he was done fast enough that we grabbed some dinner. The downside was it was late enough that finding parking was a bitch–we got one of two spots left in the garage near the venue.

The show was for Andrew McMahon, of Something Corporate and then Jack’s Mannequin, and for some reason I kept thinking I’ve never seen him live before when, in fact, nope–I’ve seen both of those projects live one time each. I think maybe I keep thinking of them as separate from him, I don’t know. But the point is it was a great show. I remember Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin being a bit more raucous, and this whole tour is more stripped down, so that was nice. He reimagined a lot of those old songs to fit a softer, more acoustic sound, too, which was pretty cool.

We grabbed dessert in town before we hit the road back home, and Paul and I switched roles–I drove, he fell asleep partway down the interstate.

Saturday night brought the return of the annual Dancing Queen fundraiser for the fire hall near where Terra lives, and after our pre-wedding dance lessons, I got Paul to come with this year. For someone who claims to not really enjoy dancing, he sure did dance a lot.

And Sunday, we went to my parents’ house to watch the Pens game and wrangle Seger. My dad was out of town for the weekend and rambunctious puppies don’t do much for productivity, so to help my mom get some work done, we went over, hung out, and played with him. The game was good, too–we won, ending the first round of playoffs. I’m hoping to make it out to watch games at Primanti’s and the big screen at the arena, but the house has been keeping us busy.

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I can’t remember exactly how it happened–I think it was how easily Paul ends up in YouTube black holes–but we found out about Puddles Pity Party, a super tall dude who dresses like a clown and his this amazing deep singing voice and does tons of great covers. And we were both pretty into it. Like, his voice is so great, and it’s the kind of performance-art type thing I can really get into. He honestly reminds me a little bit of Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” clown, just strangely not as weird.

It worked out pretty well that right around the time we were listening to a lot of Puddles, one of the local concert venues announced a show from him, and I remember the timing being so good that I thought, “If I’d seen this a few days ago, I would’ve been very confused.” And naturally, we got tickets, and me being me, when I saw that we could get like third row, I was like, “Fuck it, why not?”

The show was last night, and I’ve already written about it in the new AXS listicle style they want for articles, but I have to admit I like that–it’s a style that works kind of well for live reviews, I think, because it hones in on the highlights without being wordy. Sometimes when I do live reviews, I struggle to find the words for them, particularly if I loved it, because I can’t just write, “It was fucking amazing,” a few hundred times and call it a day. As much as I’d love to see him really just go for it and put in a serious, moving performance, he throws humor in and it works pretty well, and there is a benefit to not having a concert full of sad songs. He pulls people up onstage and I realized really quickly our third-row seats put us in the danger zone, but fortunately, he honed in on other people and never came for me. His sets, like his releases online, cover a wide variety of music over the years and he nails them all, and like I said, his voice is amazing.

Afterwards, he meets with fans in the lobby, so we were like, “It would be a great picture and he’s awesome, let’s do it,” and I find the result hilarious. Puddles and Paul in reality are very close in height–Paul’s about 6’5″, 6’6″, and I think he said Puddles only beat him by a tiny bit–but he stood on his tiptoes for the picture and gave himself a boost. And then there’s me on the end, and they both tower over me. And they’re both going for the sad-face schtick, and I’ve got this shit-eating grin. I mean, really.

Two tall sads and me, a tiny ham #PuddlesPityParty #PuddlesCuddles #cry #clown

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I love it.

It was nice to meet him, but part of his thing is he never speaks, which is kind of cool because it makes the whole thing very in-character and performance-oriented. But he seemed very grateful when we gushed a little.

So yeah, we had a good time. We had dinner at the Waterfront beforehand, walked around a little bit, and since Mondays are my days off all month, I got to not necessarily sleep in since the alarm wakes me up when Paul gets up, but I did get to nap and play with new hair stuff meant to keep my pink dye job bright. If you look in the picture, it’s a tiny bit pink, but today, it’s a lot more vibrant, so I’m pleased. And then it gets redone in a week anyway, so I’ll be back to officially having Cool Hair again.

I leave you with one of the only–maybe the only–original songs Puddles Pity Party has worked on. It’s called “Palms” and it’s a collaboration with Sxip Shirey, and I fell in love with it.

My 2017 concert run is coming to a close–the only one left is the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, so that aside, I guess the last one of the year was Regina Spektor over the weekend.

I’ve been lucky to see a ton of musicians live, and at this point, there are very few I haven’t seen at least once. But Regina Spektor was one of those few. After several years and undoubtedly thousands of dollars spent on tickets, the thought of experiencing a musician live for the first time was exciting, especially one I’ve been a fan of for years.

And she started a little late, but she delivered. She played a lot of new songs but threw in some old ones, too, and I was really happy to hear songs like “Us,” “Apres Mois,” “On the Radio,” and “Samson.” She’s a beautiful singer, and live, her voice has a power that’s surprising. And for someone who goes to a lot of energetic rock shows, seeing a woman at a piano for almost two hours was absolutely a change of pace, but impressive nonetheless, especially watching her actually play piano–plus the other things she did, like get on a guitar for a few songs and do a few a cappella. It was a great show, a really nice night out, and Paul and I bother left quite happy.

And with that, I say bring it on, 2018. I may be looking at buying a house, but a wedding didn’t stop me from a steady stream of concerts in 2017, so why stop now?

We got wedding pictures back from the photographer a few weeks ago, and they came on this cute little wooden flash drive with a picture of us on it. They turned out beautiful. I’m really happy with them, not just because she got some great shots of the whole day but also because she got great shots of guests and the bridal dance. My goal is to print them all out and distribute them–I would have loved to put them in with thank-you notes, but I started those before we got the pictures back, plus the thank-yous are smaller than the smallest print option that’s not wallet-sized. And I don’t think wallet-sized pictures would be as fun.

We went out to both sets of parents’ house to show them off.

And then we saw Ben Folds towards the end of the month. It was something like my fifth time seeing him, but it was Paul’s first–he doesn’t always share me enthusiasm for concerts, so I started to just assume he didn’t want to go to certain things with me. Turns out he actually had an interest in seeing Ben Folds, which I learned the last time after I bought tickets for me and Terra. So this time, it was supposed to be the three of us, and she ended up having to work the overnight shift that night. And of course, with our luck, of all the people we know who like Ben Folds, not a single one could go, and multiple Facebook posts from both of us reaching out to see if maybe there was a fan lurking we didn’t know about proved fruitless. So I turned to the Facebook event page, and that got me some success. We sold it to a woman there and just met her out front before the show.

And of course we had dinner at PF Chang’s first.

It was a really good show, too, maybe one of the best I’ve seen from him–not counting his symphony shows. First he played a typical set, then he came back for a second, where we launched paper airplanes onto the stage with requests written on them. And the fun ensued. Of course, before he even got started, someone yelled, “Rock This Bitch,” which has become a live tradition where when it’s yelled, he improvises a song. Twice now he’s used it to tell a story about climbing Mt. Washington in the city, and the last time he referred to it as “Mt. Motherfucker,” so that came back around this time. It wasn’t the only improv we got, either. He’s good at it and did it a few times when paper airplanes had some notes on them as opposed to songs, but that got one lucky couple moved from their balcony seat, where their view of him was obstructed by a speaker, down to the stage, and then another guy asked if he could go get his cello from his car and play it onstage with Ben Folds for a song. And he did. The whole thing was pretty great.

Paul had been saying he needed a day off an I always take a day off to sleep in after concerts, so we both took the day, which happened to be a Monday. He had his heart set on the Eat N Park breakfast buffet, so we did that, and then I finally remembered to take my wedding dress to the dry cleaner’s. And then we spent the rest of the day at home.

The night of the leak, we had tickets to go see Muse. We made it out just in time–I got showered and ready as fast as reasonably possible, and we had dinner and drinks at President’s Pub. We were running a little behind schedule and did miss a few songs from the opening band, PVRIS, but didn’t miss anything huge.

Somewhat strangely, a large number of people seemed to actually be there for co-headliner 30 Seconds to Mars. I get a little bored with their music–you can only throw in a “whoa” chorus in so many songs before it gets old–but the crowd was great, and Jared Leto is a really energetic, charismatic frontman. It’s strange to see him out on tour and performing after the success he’s had as an actor. I originally knew him as the dude from 30 Seconds to Mars because of course I did, that’s just who I am as a person, but after seeing him in a totally different context and now back to the band thing, it was strange. And people really love him.

Muse was amazing, albeit without some of the spectacle they had the last time we saw them, I think just because this was an outdoor show and doesn’t allow for as much of the theatrics as the hockey arena does. I wrote a review of it, but the basic gist is Muse is a great band who does a great live show and you should see it.

I took the day after off, like I always do after a concert, so I ended up with a little two-day break from work in the middle of the week. Except not really–the first day was dealing with the leak, and the second was dealing with the aftermath. With the wedding quickly approaching, I had a whole list of things I wanted to tackle, some related to that and some not. Instead, I took a garbage bag of damp towels to my parents house to wash them for free, and between sleeping in and doing that, it basically killed the whole day. I was back in time to go to the courthouse to get our marriage license, then go to our dance class. And Taco Bell.

Not too long after we saw Stevie Nicks in Philadelphia, she extended her tour and announced a Pittsburgh date. I was leaning towards not going, mostly because it was so soon after, but my mom talked me into it.

The day of managed to be this perfect mess of things that lead to the most pain-in-the-ass commute to a concert I’ve ever had without actually being late. It was supposed to work out great–my mom had to be in nearby Coal Center for work, so she’d come right over to my apartment when she was done. I ended up working a little late and was relieved when I hadn’t heard from her by the time I left because it meant she wouldn’t have to wait for me.

As it turned out, she was stuck in traffic. There had been not one but two accidents on the same interstate in the same area that day, and although that’s not the route she was taking, she did happen to be on a possible detour, along with everybody else trying to reroute. Meanwhile, I had to stop for gas, and out GetGo is in a real shitty location and is almost always busy, and someone was pulled in waiting for a pump in such a way that I couldn’t go around him and I couldn’t see around him, either, and make the left I needed to. So I decided to take a chance on going right, which I know from past experience isn’t a clean-cut, easily maneuverable block. I pretty much just guessed my way home, taking residential streets and making turns that felt right until I saw areas I recognized. It was a delay, but not a big deal.

We got in my building to find my key was getting stuck in the lock. Paul, who was taking Terra to what was ultimately a failed driver’s test, had fallen in mud on his way out and stuck his muddy key in the lock, which must’ve caused enough trouble to make it a real bitch for me to get my key in and unlock the door. After some trouble, I did manage to get it and Mom and I changed into lace clothes, the only appropriate attire for a Stevie Nicks concert.

She wanted to get into the city as soon as possible, so we were out the door and on our way. And then we hit traffic on a separate interstate that almost never has any trouble, and we sat in the usual parkway traffic, then the usual event traffic, finally making it to a restaurant across the street. It’s kind of a good thing we’d seen the tour before–we didn’t really care about seeing The Pretenders, so that gave us some time to meet up with Nolan and Brett and eat. How neither of us was in a cranky, hangry rage is kind of a miracle.

Fortunately, though, the saga ends there. We timed it well enough to get to our seats a little bit before Stevie took the stage, and she was great, as usual. Another bonus to going twice–she did “Landslide,” which she hadn’t done in Philly.

Mom decided to spend the night at my place, so we came back, had a snack, and went right to bed…because I had to work the next morning.

It’s just kind of one of those things that just didn’t work out great. It was my last Saturday on weekend rotation for March, and normally, since Saturdays are much more relaxed, I can choose my own hours and would’ve just gone in an hour or so later. But Stephanie’s baby shower was that same day at 2 an hour away, and I refused to miss it. My original plan was just to switch someone days to make my life easier, but when I ended up needing to do that at the beginning of the month for Pap Pap’s funeral, I decided against doing it a second time. It seemed silly to do it twice in one month. So instead, I worked with what I had. I knew it would be a pain in the ass, but I decided that the best thing to do was to go in early–I figured that way, I’d be leaving when it started and I’d be fashionably late but wouldn’t miss too much. So I slept for about four hours, then went to work, got out about when I planned, had a pretty easy drive, and made it to the shower about an hour in and fortunately had not missed anything other than snacks and mingling, which I made up for plenty after the gifts were all opened.

It was a nice shower, and I was glad I made it work. Some of the old crew was there and we all seemed to have a pretty good time talking and hanging out like we used to, which was nice, too. I hung around a little bit longer than the others since I’d been late, and Steph and I spent a decent bit of time bullshitting, the way ya do when you don’t see people often and they live an hour away.

So I was satisfied but, in the end, pretty fucking exhausted. It was a very distinct kind of tired, too–I’ve had days where I’ve gone into work after not sleeping well and end up struggling to stay awake if I’m not engaged in what I’m working on, but this was an entirely different thing where my eyes felt heavy the whole day and I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed at the end of the day, yet I was functioning fine.

Still, I was pretty happy to see my bed and not have to set an alarm for the next day.

Dancing Queen

The weekdays have brought work, of course, plus a visit with my therapist to do some quality venting about wedding planning and a trip to the mall to buy shampoo from Lush. I haven’t used it yet, but I will tomorrow. I’m so excited just to try a new coconut shampoo that it’s pretty dumb, actually. But hey, it’s the little things.

And then Prince died. My parents, brother, and I have a group text thread we use for general family communication, and my mom actually told us in that. When David Bowie died, I was convinced it was a hoax at first, but this time, coming from my mom, I knew it was real. I also knew she’d be in serious mourning–anyone who knows my mom knows she loves Snoopy, Stevie Nicks, and Prince. More than once in the few days since now, she’s mentioned how she still remembers sitting on the beach with her best friend talking about how they couldn’t wait to go see Purple Rain.¬†This one hasn’t hit me the way David Bowie did, but it’s still sad. I used to joke that I knew Prince lyrics without ever remembering having heard the songs because I grew up with them. It was like one day, I realized I knew every word to “When Doves Cry” and I didn’t know how it happened.

So I wore a purple shirt and purple shoes to work last Friday.

Now, our favorite disco/funk cover band, Dancing Queen, was in town down at the casino just minutes from my apartment. We first saw them at a fundraiser for a fire hall where Terra and her mom volunteered, and it’s become something of a tradition now to go. I missed this past one–it’s every January, and it got rescheduled this year due to a snow storm. It was rescheduled for March, but it was the same day that I had tickets to see Jukebox the Ghost and went to look at our wedding venue, so I had to miss it. But my mom went with her Aunt Elaine and a friend of hers, and when they found out Dancing Queen was gonna be out here and for free, they were all about that.

So I came home from my Saturday shift, hung out a little, and changed into appropriate dancing attire. As it turns out, I found the perfect shirt from one of the many boxes Terra gave me before she moved. And appropriately, it was purple.

In fact, when I got to the casino, the stage area in the back was lit purple, and in the hour before the band started, they played all Prince music. Before Prince started, they had a moment of silence in his memory.

We ordered some food and gambled a little and lost, but most of the night was just dancing.¬†That’s why we have so much fun going to see them. I do enjoy a lot of the songs they play–and they even played Prince’s “Kiss”–but it’s just so fun to go out and dance like that. It’s just music and a good time in the most basic of ways, and everyone is having fun.

It was great. I loved it. It was unifying and cathartic. It’s what music is about. There’s just something about a dance floor packed full of people, especially in the middle of a messy election year. Nothing else mattered for those few hours. Everyone just had fun. It’s something everyone should experience in some way, just something that lifts them out of everyday life and bonds them with other people, even if it’s temporary.

The catch is I’m out of shape. Sure, Paul and I have been walking regularly now that the weather’s warm, but we’re talking like half-hour walks on warm weeknights. Not almost a full three hours of dancing. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for it too horrible the next day, but I was definitely feeling it. I was achey. My mom even texted me and said, “My ass is draggin’.”

And for the rest of the weekend, we pretty much just stayed in. We’d gone out and done stuff the past couple weeks, and Paul, true to his introvert self, wanted a more low-key weekend at home. Worked for me. I danced too much.