Friday 5: Silver

  1. What was the last thing you purchased second-hand? I think it was a pair of maternity shorts from Poshmark. The local maternity stores are going out of business/moving to online only, so I hit those sales in the winter but knew I’d need some summer items. And now it’s looking increasingly possible I’ll just spend the summer part of this pregnancy indoors and in pajamas.
  2. What’s a dish you cannot resist a second helping of? Any pasta dish and anything made from one of my grandma’s recipes.
  3. How many seconds can you go right now without blinking? I actually made it a full minute, then didn’t feel like counting anymore.
  4. Whose second album is much better than their debut album? Oh, man. I combed through my iTunes for this and settled on Regina Spektor, but there’s a catch–she had two self-released albums before her label debut, Soviet Kitsch, but because of availability, I’m counting Soviet Kitsch as her first. Which is a great album! But its follow-up, Begin to Hope, has “Fidelity,” which is fairly well-known, plus “Better,” “Samson,” “On the Radio,” and “Après Mois,” which I frankly consider to be a masterpiece. I mean, Peter Gabriel covered it. Come on. (Although if I’m being honest, despite the nice addition of his dark, dramatic strings, he just doesn’t match her delivery, and therefore, the cover doesn’t have the power and intensity of the original.)
  5. What’s something for which you were runner-up? Eh, not much, really, because I never played sports or really did anything  competitive. But I’ve certainly felt like the runner up in certain aspects in my life, and not in the kind of positive sense but in the most cast-aside sense.

From Friday 5.

Friday 5: Accidents Will Happen

  • What was the last thing you spilled? Ginger ale.
  • What was the last thing you broke? Huh, I don’t know. Which hopefully means it’s been a while since I broke anything.
  • What was the last thing you dented? I’m not sure about this one, either, because even in the case of the obvious answer of a car, none of the dents that have ended up in my car have been my fault. And the last one was years ago anyway.
  • What was the last thing you tore? It wasn’t my fault, but tights. I’d spent the night at my mom’s to dog sit and my husband was coming out the next day for a family Christmas party, and I asked him to grab a pair of tights for me to wear but he grabbed the wrong ones. The ones he grabbed were a little too snug but would do, and they already had a hole in them. The hole only got larger over the course of the afternoon, ultimately ripping along the seam probably halfway down my thigh. It’s a good thing my dress was about to my knees!
  • What was the last thing you stumbled over? A shoe, I think.

As always, from Friday 5.

Friday 5: Arachnid Guy

  1. In what way do you have great power and great responsibility? I think that can be said of writing. You have a lot of power to tell a story or expose something or express something, but also a responsibility to everything from the other people involved if it’s nonfiction or a responsibility to tell a good story, maybe a responsibility to readers and editors, responsibility to be honest with yourself and your audience.
  2. When have you recently swung into action on very short notice? That’s been a lot of the last few days. My dad’s been in the hospital, so we’ve mostly been visiting, but we’ve also swung by my parents’ house to take care of the dog.
  3. What’s the closest you’ve come to being stuck down with great vengeance and furious anger? Are we talking about incurring someone else’s wrath or someone incurring mine? I’d give you both, but I can’t speak for what other people are thinking or doing and what sort of vengeance they may wish for me…aside from a few solid guesses. And they times I have been a victim of someone’s vengeance and anger, it wasn’t so much a close call as it was an overwhelming fury. As for my end, there are times like at family functions, both on my side and my husband’s, I’m only ever a glass of wine and someone else’s tiny misstep away from letting them know how I really feel.
  4. What’s something memorable in a museum you’ve visited? I’ve seen a lot of awesome things in museums, especially art–I’m a big fan of French art and always love seeing it in person. But I maintain my stance that the Holocaust museum in D.C. is one of the most important in the country and that everyone should go at least once. I was raised by a World War II buff and was exposed to a lot of information about the war and the Holocaust from a pretty young age, but seeing some of these things in person is sobering. I’ve been there I think two or three times, and two things stand out to me: one of the train cars used to transport people and a room full of shoes taken from people. I can remember the smell of the leather and the sheer number of shoes piled into this room.
  5. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling? I don’t know. I feel like I’ve mostly had brief encounters with people, but the other night, my friend Marissa, my cousin Meredith, and I were reminiscing about how when we vacationed in Mexico a few years ago, a girl about our age was vacationing with her mom and came in our room to drink with us one night.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Secret Agent Man

Secret Agent Man (1966)

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

1) This is the theme of a TV show that ran on CBS from 1964-1967. The series was produced, and originally aired, in England. The BBC has shared many shows with American audiences over the years. Can you name another? I can’t think of one that re-aired here, but I can think of plenty we remade.

2) The show is about John Drake, a special agent dedicated to exposing plots that threaten world peace. A quick check of Netflix and Goodreads reveals that spy stories are just as popular today. Is espionage a genre you enjoy? Do you read books, or watch shows and movies, about spies? I do enjoy it, although not often. I do have a few TV shows and books on my list to check out, though–AMC’s old Rubicon is one of them.

3) The lyrics tell us Drake travels from the Riviera to Bombay. Where were you when you last spent the night away from home? Why were you there (vacation, business, international intrigue)? I was in a hotel in Erie for my sister-in-law’s wedding.

4) The refrain states, “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name.” In today’s digital world, that could now be said of all of us. Are you good at remembering your computer passwords? Yes and no? I’m good for using variations of the same one but forgetting exactly what the variation is.

5) Patrick McGoohan, who played Agent Drake, went from being a good guy to appearing as a murderer on Columbo four times. Were you a fan of ColumboNever saw it.

6) Born John Ramistella, this week’s featured artist, Johnny Rivers, grew up in Louisiana. He took “Rivers” as his stage name because he grew up along the Mighty Mississippi. If you were to change your last name based on the geography of the area where you grew up, how would you be known? Rivers would be a good one, but other good choices are mountain/hill, field, wood/forest.

7) In 1966, when this song was popular, Jacqueline Kennedy was the woman most Americans admired. What famous woman do you admire most? (She doesn’t have to be American.) Ooh, I don’t know. It probably changes, but I can’t pick one right now.

8) 1966 also found another Jacqueline was in the news. Jacqueline Susann’s first novel, Valley of the Dolls, was atop the best seller lists, even though it was savaged by the critics. What’s your guilty pleasure? What book, movie, TV show, or song do you enjoy, even though you know it has little artistic merit? Eh, I honestly think almost everything has artistic merit. But I will tell you that I quite enjoy watching 90 Day Fiancé and that I will probably willingly read/watch any cheesy drama about animals, and that includes the recent films about dogs’ lives and this book series I’ve seen that appears to be a mystery series centered around cats.

9) Random question: Imagine you’ve been stranded alone in the woods for 10 days. No companionship, no internet or phone or TV. You have been sleeping in the dirt, living on berries and river water. Your rescuers drive you to a hotel. Upon check-in, what’s the first thing you do? Assuming the rescuers hadn’t already notified my loved ones that I was, you know, not dead, eat, hands down, no question. I couldn’t function otherwise.

Friday 5: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

  1. What’s a snack item you have difficulty eating in moderation? In general, I’m pretty good with moderation, at least in the sense that I don’t eat unhealthy snacks on a daily basis. But in terms of, say, not pigging out in one session? Chips, obviously, and ice cream. If I’m out getting ice cream, I am almost definitely not getting a small serving.
  2. What’s a verbal habit you’d like to break? I should say cussing, but that would be insincere. So filler words. I don’t think I use them a ton, at least.
  3. What have you removed from your life after some struggle to do so? Ooh. The wrong people, in part because I have a tendency to let people get away with a lot of nasty behavior in the name of keeping the peace. And look, it’s never gonna be 100% gone–there will always be people I don’t want to see but can’t avoid, and that goes for all of us. But if I have more control over who I see and when and for how long and even how I react to them, I’m good.
  4. Where do you go just because you’ve always gone there? I think when my husband and I are looking for a place to go eat in town, we forget about a lot of places because we have our staples in mind.
  5. What’s something you hope continue forever? Writing, my marriage, my general values.

From Friday 5.

Friday 5: The New York Times Best Sellers

  1. What is your experience with crayfish (or crawfish or crawdads, depending on where you’re from)? Mostly just as a kid when boys, usually cousins, would pick them up.
  2. When have you been stung by a stinging critter? I was stung by a bee as a kid. That’s about it.
  3. What was the last previously-owned item you purchased for yourself? I’m really not sure. Probably a record. I think it’s been a while since I did.
  4. Where are you on the whole Game of Thrones thing? So I’ve never actually watched the show, so take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt. It seems that the people who are unhappy with it are a very vocal minority, largely complaining that certain events and character choices seemed to come out of nowhere, with little to no development, but I’ve seen people defending it arguing that that’s not the case at all and essentially implying but rarely outright saying that the other group was never really paying attention and is forgetting things from past seasons that make whatever happened not so out of nowhere. I’ve also heard a lot of complaints about bad writing, and while I obviously can’t speak to whether or not I think that’s accurate, I do feel like I’d agree with the people who liked it, and having said that, from the outside, it looks as though it’s not that the writing was bad or lazy or rushed but that things didn’t go the way some people wanted or expected and they’re equating that with bad writing. There’s a difference between bad writing and just not liking an outcome. Most of all, though, I agree with Sophie Turner’s comments that the criticism has gotten disrespectful, especially when it comes to people starting petitions to have the season remade…which is the strangest, pettiest piece of this for me. I love digging into art of any kind and dissecting it, and even though I feel like I’d disagree with the criticism here, I don’t fault anyone for doing it, but I do think petitioning to have it redone is ridiculous, and not only because of Turner’s point. I mostly don’t see the point. HBO already made tons of money on it, and it’s over. There’s no way they’re gonna spend the money to redo it, and I’m not sure if the people creating and signing these petitions really think they will or are just using it to complain. But even if it’s just to vent, it strikes me as a waste of time and just comes off a certain negative way.
  5. How did you celebrate your 18th birthday? My 18th is among my favorites. Some brief backstory: when I was 16, my dad deployed to Iraq and essentially due to the upheaval that causes in a home, it was a factor in me not getting my driver’s license until a few months after my 18th birthday. So no license, and therefore, no photo ID. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it was decided to spend my 18th birthday gambling with my mom and grandma. At the time, Pennsylvania didn’t have any casinos, although they were in the works, and the closest one was not far away down in Wheeling, West Virginia. At the time, you only had to be 18 to go–the age was raised a few months later to 21, and all the PA casinos are 21, too, because they serve alcohol, and the story was that West Virginia was making some changes to avoid losing tons of business to Pennsylvania. I think we were originally gonna try to go without any kind of photo ID for me and didn’t. Maybe my mom checked their policies, I don’t know. But we drove out to one of the licensing centers pretty much when they opened, got me a photo ID, then drove down to Wheeling and spent the day gambling. My grandparents were always fans of the slots and used to go to Atlantic City with my parents when my brother and I were kids, so it was almost a rite of passage, and it was fun to get to spend the day playing the way they had plenty of times. And looking back, I feel a little lucky (har har) to have had that day, because not long after, they changed the age to 21 and I never did go back to Wheeling, but on top of that, my grandma died a little over a year later, and that birthday was the only trip I got like that with her. So it ended up being almost like this perfect timing, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

As always, from Friday 5.

Friday 5: A Week

  1. If I give you $20 to spend selfishly by tomorrow evening, what do you spend it on? Can I put it towards a credit card? If not, I probably just get my hair trimmed because it needs it badly and I can’t get to my usual salon soon.
  2. What’s a delivery you recently waited too long for? I had a Sephora online order a couple weeks ago, and I’m supposed to get two-day flash shipping for free, but the thing took like a week. I think it’s because one of the items was considered a dangerous material or something, which is kind of alarming since I put it on my face.
  3. How annoying have you been lately? I was a little drunk after lunch today and my husband had to drive back to the hotel. I think I was entertaining, but he may not.
  4. When did you last give someone a ride in your car for the first time? Ooh, I don’t know because it’s been a pretty long time. But our cat rode in it for the first time back in September, when we got her.
  5. What was the last piece of candy you ate? I don’t eat much candy so I don’t remember, but probably something chocolate.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Secret Love

Secret Love (1953)

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

Rest in peace, Doris Day (1922-2019)

1) In this song Doris admits she’s spoken to the stars, “the way dreamers often do.” Do you often daydream? Not so much these days because my mind is usually occupied, but I do when I cut grass!

2) What’s the last secret you kept? (It doesn’t have to be romantic.) My niece’s name! My brother and sister-in-law picked it out months ago and just didn’t want to tell anybody until she was born…which was yesterday! Her full name is Eliana Mae.

3) While “Secret Love” was one of Miss Day’s best-selling records, and the song won an Oscar, she did not perform it at the Academy Awards Ceremony. She said she was just too nervous to sing it live before an international television audience and an auditorium full of entertainment professionals. When did you last suffer an attack of nerves? Holding Eliana for the first time. I’m nervous holding tiny new babies.

4) Doris’ well-publicized attack of Oscar stage fright was unexpected because she began her career as a band singer, performing before live audiences every night. But she reportedly did develop more phobias over the years, including a fear of flying. Is there anything that scares you now, as an adult, that didn’t frighten you as a child? I have more social phobias than I ever did as a kid. I somehow went from not caring at all to being over-analytical. I think I have mild social anxiety.

5) Doris Day made 39 movies between 1948 and 1968. She said one of her favorite things about filmmaking was working with costume designers on her wardrobe. Do you enjoy shopping for clothes? Kind of? I love buying new stuff, but I can be kind of picky and sizes are weird for me, like most women. It’s one of those things where I almost never go out clothes shopping specifically, but if I’m out, I’ll pop into the stores I like and pick up something if I like it.

6) Doris confessed that when she had to lose weight for a role, she gave up ice cream. If we checked your freezer, would we find any ice cream? There’s some in there, but it’s really old, so that tells you how often we eat ice cream.

7) In 1985 she hosted a cable show called Doris Day’s Best Friends. She used the show as a platform to promote pet adoptions and animal welfare. Most of the guests were  celebrity friends who reportedly donated their salaries for appearing on the show to Doris’ pet foundation. Did you more recently ask a friend for a favor, or perform a favor for a friend? I asked my brother to go pick something up at a store for me that I had delivered there because I wasn’t gonna make it there before they closed, and he asked for gas money. He later told me he was joking, but either way, I said never mind, I’ll get it another day.

8) For more than 20 years, Doris co-owned the Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA. The Inn expects to continue on without her, and maintain the pet-friendly policies she introduced. Have you ever traveled with your dog or cat? I traveled with our dog in college–he ended up getting cataracts, and we drove a few hours to a veterinary school in Ohio that would remove them for a fraction of the cost compared to vets in our area. After the surgery, he needed a checkup every year, so for the couple years before he died, I’d go out with my parents. I have a cat now, and we have not traveled with her, and I don’t think we should. She doesn’t seem to like the car, and I’d be afraid that staying in a hotel with her would stress her out.

9) Random question: What’s the last thing you complained about? Politics!

Figures that when I leave the house for something fun, I’m rewarded with a cold.

I spent just about all of last week congested–it’s still hanging around a tiny bit, but I feel much, much better. I fell asleep Monday evening after work and was pretty much out all night and felt much better Tuesday.

Last weekend was a lazy weekend, mostly, with running errands and hanging out at home, and this weekend was busier. I spent my Saturday morning getting my hair dyed–and it looks awesome–and we stopped by a home show in town on Sunday that was kind of underwhelming, although it might’ve been just that it didn’t have much that we needed.

Sunday night we went to see Jukebox the Ghost, which is practically an annual concert at this point–they typically come once a year around the spring, and this had to be like the fourth or fifth year in a row we’ve gone. They were fantastic, as always, and they’ve got to be one of my favorite bands at this point.

I was originally gonna take Monday off, but somehow in a short span of time, a bunch of other people had that idea, too, so I got up for work like normal yesterday, took a nap for my lunch break, and otherwise tackled the day.

Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful

Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) Lana Del Rey wrote this song for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. She wanted it to reflect the feelings of Daisy Buchanan. Have you read The Great GatsbyI haven’t, strangely. For being a bookworm, I have of a lot of bizarre gaps when it comes to books that are considered classics, partly because for some reason they were never taught when I was in school and partly because I haven’t gotten around to them otherwise. That’s one of them.

2) In the 1970s, Robert Redford portrayed Jay Gatsby. In the 2013 version, Leonardo di Caprio played the part. In real life, both “Gatsbys” have helped raised funds for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Are you careful about recycling and conserving water/electricity? Recycling, yes, and electricity as much as possible. I try not to leave lights on in rooms I’m not in, and during the day, if it’s bright enough, I’ll open the blinds in my office and turn the lights off, but that’s also a preference. I’d do everything by natural light if I could.

3) Lana Del Rey admits that she dropped out of college because she simply could not get the required math credits. When confronted with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, do you do it in your head? Reach for pencil and paper? Or do you take advantage of the calculator that’s on your desktop or phone? I can do it in my head, but as the numbers get bigger, I’m gonna need pencil and paper–sometimes I don’t even need to actually write it out so much as look at it. I mostly use a calculator when I’m being lazy or when I’m doing something like calculating how much of a tip to leave because I just don’t feel like working that one out every single time I go out.

4) She enjoys Kurt Cobain, Eminem, Elvis and Sinatra. Which of those four gentlemen did you listen to most recently? Sinatra, I think. I definitely had Sinatra on within the last few days. I also have Elvis’ greatest hits in my collection and a little bit from Nirvana and Eminem. The funny part is of the four, I probably listen to Sinatra the least.

5) Speaking of Sinatras, she has described her high maintenance look — big hair, long nails, elaborate eye makeup, full lips — as “Gangster Nancy Sinatra.” How long does it take you, on an average day, to prepare to face the world? On an average day, about a minute because I work from home and don’t face the world at all–I just roll out of bed and do a few things as part of my morning pre-work/wakeup routine. If I’m leaving the house, anywhere from 15 minutes to a little over an hour. It varies wildly based on if I’m going to the gym, which is long enough to change clothes, or if I’m just going out to a movie or something, which is probably 45 minute to shower and put on a little makeup, or if I’m going somewhere more fun where I want a full face of makeup. It also depends on if I’m shampooing my hair, but if I’m leaving the house, I probably am.

6) She’s a big soccer fan, and her favorite team is Liverpool FC. Here in the US, college basketball fans are currently obsessed with March Madness. What’s the last sporting event that you watched? Hockey, but without cable and a decent streaming subscription, I don’t watch that nearly as often as I’d like to.

7) Her younger sister, Caroline, studied photography and is responsible for some of Lana’s publicity pictures. Have you ever gotten a job because of a relative? My dad asked a reporter he knew if the local paper needed anyone when I was in college, which I really fucking hated because I didn’t want my dad to be trying to get me a job–especially when he’s complained about my grandfather doing the exact same thing. They didn’t just take me, though. They looked at my work from school, hired me as a stringer, and ultimately offered me a part-time job shortly after I graduated, but I’d already accepted a full-time job elsewhere. Honestly, if they’d gotten to me first, I would’ve taken it.

8) In 2013, when this song came out, Pope Francis became the first pope from a Latin American country. Latin America generally includes Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. What’s the farthest south that you’ve ever traveled? Mexico.

9) Random question — What button would you prefer your life to have: rewind, fast forward or a pause? Hmm. Pause, I think, to stop and let some of the most fun times last a little longer, followed by rewind to go back to some of the best times and be back in that moment. I don’t think I’d want fast-forward at all. Even if I could use it to skip the bad things or even to jump to things I’m looking forward to, I don’t like the idea of skipping so much.