Saturday 9: Mama Can’t Buy You Love

Mama Can’t Buy You Love (1979)
Unfamiliar with this week’s song? Hear it here.

1) This week’s artist, Elton John, was made an Office of Arts and Letters — one of France’s highest honors for people who have contributed significantly to the arts.What’s the most recent compliment you received? My fiancé compliments me pretty regularly. I got a couple as he was walking out the door for his tai chi class just now.

2) In 2013, Elton had to cancel an international concert tour because he had an appendectomy. Do you still have your appendix? Yes.

3) In 1979, Elton John was the first Western rock star to tour the Soviet Union. Would you like to visit Russia? I mean, I’d like to travel all of the world, honestly, just to see it, but Russia doesn’t strike me as the best of places to visit these days.
4) Elton and his mother hadn’t spoken in years but he reached out to her and healed their beach in honor of her 90th birthday in 2015. Who is the oldest person you know? I’m not sure! My great-grandma was in her 90s when she died and my grandfather who died recently was in his 80s. Maybe my grandfather’s wife, who I think was pretty close to him in age.

5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother’s Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming? I live in an apartment, so I don’t really have one–just a little courtyard with some trees and plants. But the goal when we buy a house is to definitely have a garden.

6) Mother’s Day is a big holiday for card shops. So are birthdays, weddings, and St. Patrick’s Day. Hallmark sells greetings for everything from “Congratulations on Your New Job” to “Happy Retirement.” Who received the most recent card you bought? My godmother, and this just reminded me that I forgot to put it in the mail.

7) Sam’s mother is very careful when she unwraps presents because she likes to save money by to reusing wrapping paper and gift bags. Tell us one way that you economize. I save gift bags, but not actual wrapping paper. I’m more likely to patch holes in clothes than replace them outright, depending on the level of wear and stuff. I resell things when it makes sense to, and if it doesn’t, I donate them or find a place that’ll recycle.

8) Mother Winters used to scold Crazy Sam for leaving her dirty dishes in the sink. Sam admits it: as a grown up, she still leaves dirty dishes in the sink. How about you? Is your sink or dishwasher empty? Ha, almost never. Dishes are hard to keep up with if you don’t have a dishwasher, even with just two people.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What size mattress do you sleep on — twin, full, queen or king? My fiancé and I cram into a full, and the day we upgrade to a king will be the best day of my life.

Friday 5: Guestimation

  1. How well do you adjust to sleeping in an unfamiliar place? If I’m not at home or somewhere I’m really comfortable, I sleep like shit, at least compared to how I usually sleep. I wake up a lot.
  2. When were you recently someone’s guest, and when were you recently someone’s host? My last overnight stay was probably at my parents’, but aside from that, friend Emily hosted us last weekend after dinner. I rarely host–the apartment is too messy and too small, but I’d like to do it more. Our last overnight guests were probably my fiancé’s brother and sister-in-law when they were in town for my brother’s wedding, but his sister Emily hung out for a little bit once.
  3. What’s the ickiest place where you’ve ever showered or bathed? I don’t know. I honestly can’t think of a place that was really terrible. Even outdoor showers at the beach aren’t bad because, well, it’s the beach. Maybe at camp with Terra? There’s no running water, so we just kind of rinse off in the river.
  4. What’s something you don’t need but insist on taking when you travel? I always pack more clothes than I need just in case, and I always take a book. I consider this a need, though.
  5. Who’s got a comfy couch? My Uncle Clark used to have a great one, but he got rid of it. Maybe my parents? Mine’s comfy but as old as I am and falling apart, so…

From here.

New Year’s Resolutions, Only Five Months Late

Yeah, guess who realized she never did her usual post assessing how New Year’s resolutions went?

  • Do no harm, but take no shit. It’s a work in progress–I know I’m not perfect, but I certainly don’t intentionally hurt people. I didn’t have much cause to whip out the “take not shit” bit, but that does still need some work. I can be too much of a pushover sometimes.
  • Eat healthier and cook more. Done, and I found two brands of vegetarian meat replacements that help with this.
  • Get more active–daily walks when weather permits, yoga when it doesn’t. Done, and I took it farther by the end of the year than I’d initially intended by actually getting a gym membership.
  • Plan as much of my wedding as I reasonably can. If I’m honest, I probably could’ve done more, but hey, it’s all details at this point.
  • Save money… It’s a toss-up. Planning a wedding made it tough, but that means…
  • …but invest in myself. Buy those apps for writing, buy things that make me happy. …I did this, and I count throwing a wedding I’ll remember forever as part of this. I’ve been super practical about it for the most part, saving money where I can and choosing certain things based on price, but I’ve also not really hesitated to get the things I really want that will make it fun and memorable for both of us. Wedding aside, I did buy that writing app, and I’ve bought plenty of clothes and books and other things I like, but not so much that it’s excessive.
  • Make more money at writing–sure, I’m doing pretty well with three side jobs bringing in extra income, but I’d like to add more to that. Ideally, I’d add something that pays better than one of the three and phase the one out that pays the least. Done. In 2016, I made enough money on my side writing that I had to claim it on my taxes, which included paying local and state taxes on it. Examiner ended up shutting down, which wasn’t much of a disappointment. I didn’t add a higher-paying one like I wanted, though, although I also never actually found one that I liked.
  • Get a new job. Didn’t happen, but planning a wedding did push it to the very bottom of the to-do list.
  • Get more pieces published. So in 2016, aside from some other unpaid projects I took on, I believe I only had one. But like job hunting, I prioritized wedding planning, so this got pushed aside.
  • Clean more. Eh…if I’m honest, this is probably a no.
  • Get organized, including buying any shelving I need or any other organizational gadgets I have room for and can use. This also counts as investing in myself. Kind of! Definitely not as much as I could have, but we put up a wall-mounted coat rack and mail holder, which helped a lot with not having, well, coats and mail everywhere.
  • Travel. Just a little–Paul and I took a long weekend in State College and Altoona, I went to Philadelphia to see Stevie Nicks, and that’s about it.
  • Continue to be a more proactive friend–don’t be afraid to reach out, make the first move, initiate conversations and plans. Still a work in progress, although perhaps for different reasons than before–it’s now more a matter of having time than anything.
  • Do something that scares the shit out of me in a good way. Could be as simple as a public reading. I did do a reading! I read at my alma mater. I was scared shitless, but it went well.
  • Declutter. Still needs work. I don’t have a problem parting with things and donating or selling them as needed, but I don’t set aside time like I probably should to go through things and organize.
  • Pay off at least one credit card, ideally two. Kind of–I did a balance transfer, which didn’t pay them off but got them all on one interest-free balance, saving me money in the long run and hypothetically making them easier to pay off. The one downside is because it’s such a high balance, my credit score took a hit.
  • Play guitar. Nope.
  • Start private stream-of-counscious journaling again. I’ll be honest, I forget I even wanted to do this.
  • Continue to weed out toxic people, even though at this point that’s mostly just my future mother-in-law. Pray for me, guys. I mean, like I said, there’s not much to do here, although I will say I don’t do things or spend time with people I don’t want to.
  • Continue to spend money on experiences–concerts, travel, whatever. That’s how I spend most of my money anymore, really.
  • Start sending some fucking birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards, you bitch. BIGGEST FAILURE OF THE YEAR.
  • Use the cork board in the kitchen more. You bought it for reminders and such, and you found some little pins for it. Use them all. Yes! It’s actually pretty full right now. We pin up stuff like cards and things we get, plus I use it to keep track of what bills need paid. It’s also an easy, useful home for address labels and stamps.
  • Enjoy the year! Enjoy the upcoming weddings, enjoy planning my own as much as I can, enjoy the people I have around me. I did! Looked, 2016 sucked a bag of dicks for almost everyone I know, but I did have a good one.

So after a fun-filled weekend, Paul and I have decided that we really need to hang out with our friends more often. Problem is we’re at least an hour away from all of them and our weekends are usually busy, and when they aren’t, we want to stay in. Dilemmas.

Meri came home for the weekend since Adam and his wife are expecting a baby and had a baby shower, so Friday night, we met her, Emily, Emily’s boyfriend Davon, and their daughter for dinner…at a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo. Meri got their early and got a table, but Emily was gonna be a little late because of work and Paul and I ended up late due to a combination of work and having to pick up a gift for said baby shower that I’d had sent to Target. I knew better than to think we’d be back before Target closed to get it, and he’d already forgotten it when he was actually in Target the day before, so Target was threatening to cancel the order if we didn’t get it by end of day Friday.

So we were about an hour late for dinner, which was awesome.

Unsurprisingly, it was also super crowded–even Adam and Ashley were there–and we talked about the hypocrisy of Trump voters celebrating Cinco de Mayo, as though white people celebrating it isn’t bad enough.

Our food took over an hour, the crowd never really died down, and I have no idea what time it was when we finally left, but hey, BOGO margaritas. From there, we went to Emily and Davon’s, where we mostly spent the evening playing games and dicking around until 3 in the morning, but it was a real good time.

Now, I did some social-media purging back in the aftermath of everything that happened, so every time I’ve seen Emily since, I’ve felt weird. I have a plan to sort of rectify that, especially now that everyone’s sort of patching things up, so we’ll see how that goes.

There were more festivities in Dunbar the next day followed by an invitation to Nolan and Brett’s new house, and I planned on going until I saw it would be an hour-and-a-half drive for me, coming after getting home at 4 in the morning the night before and before a hour-long drive the next day to the baby shower. So I decided to try to get shit done instead, to varied results. I took a nap at some point, so I guess my productivity level depends on how high you rank the importance of weekend naps. I also tried to find a large gift bag for said baby-shower gift and came home with Rita’s Italian ice instead. I did get a gift back when Paul came home with his Target card, at least, and also found some shoes I like for the wedding, so there’s that.

I slept as long as possible Sunday, we went to church, and I had a good time at the baby shower. I got some laundry done at my parents’, too, then headed to Sarah’s for a little bit while Meri was over, where we played some fun rounds of Clue with her family. I’m way out of practice, and her sister loves saying misleading things to trick people. It was good fun.

And somehow, I ended up going into the work week with sinus pain and pressure on one side of my face that’s much better than it was yesterday but still a pain in my ass.

Saturday 9: The Tide Is High

Saturday 9: The Tide Is High (1980)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.
1) This song was originally performed in 1966 by a Jamaican band called The Paragons. Jamaica is the most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean. What’s your ideal vacation? (Relaxing on the beach, sightseeing in a new city, skiing the slopes, spending time with family, etc.) I love beaches, but probably any vacation visiting somewhere I’ve never been.

2) In this song, Debbie Harry sings that she’s not the kind of girl who gives up easily. How about you? Do you hang on stubbornly? Or do you know when to say “when?” I’m pretty stubborn, but I do have a breaking point and I do know when hanging on isn’t worth it.

3) Blondie is a group that took it’s name from the lead singer’s most identifiable characteristic, her hair. If your band was named after your hair, what would it be called? Curly

4) Before her career as a singer took off, Debbie supported herself as a waitress. She even served drinks while wearing bunny ears and tail at The Playboy Club. Have you ever worked in food service? Just washing dishes as a kid in the restaurant where my dad worked.

5) Debbie points to David Bowie as a major influence on her music and career. What’s your favorite Bowie song? Oh God, I can’t pick just one, but I will tell you that there’s one that’s a strong possibility for the first dance at my wedding. I don’t want to ruin it, though.

6) In 1980, when this song was popular, the best selling issue of Rolling Stone featured Robert Redford on the cover. Who is your all-time favorite actor? I don’t know if I have one! Like all things, I have a few favorites and can’t single out just one.

7) In 1980, Ted Turner revolutionized how we watch TV when he introduced CNN. Do you have any subscriptions services in addition to cable — like Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix? I actually don’t have cable at all, but I do have Netflix. My brother has Amazon Prime, so I use that when I want to, and anything else, I just have my mom record and I watch it at her place.

8) John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Today there’s a specially landscaped section of Central Park called Strawberry Fields in his honor. If you had a day to spend in New York, what would you want to see? Definitely that, probably a Broadway show depending on what’s playing, and whatever touristy things I haven’t done the other times I’ve gone, because funnily enough, while I have done a little sightseeing, I’ve never done the big things. I went with my mom and her best friend one spring to visit another friend of ours, and she was sort of our guide, which meant we got more of a New Yorker’s experience. It had its advantages for sure, though.

9) We’re going shopping! Which do you need to add to your wardrobe: underwear, shoes or a swimsuit? None, but if anything, swimsuit. Almost all of mine are old enough that I was probably smaller then.

Friday 5: Over/Under

  1. What’s a film you consider overrated, and what’s a related or similar film you consider underrated? I’m gonna go with Inside Out for overrated. I liked it and I thought the idea was clever and well-executed, but it just didn’t grab me the way that, say, Up did. I don’t know that I’d go with that for one I consider underrated, though, because people do seem to really love it. I think maybe I’d say Brave was underrated. It was funny with a good story, and I cried at the end, not that crying in movies is rare for me. Up was still better, though.
  2. What’s overrated about the area in which you live, and what’s underrated about it? I think the real-estate market in little Washington, PA, is overrated, in the sense that everything seems overpriced to me. I realize I’m from an area with a lower cost of living, but being in the preliminary stages of looking for a house, there a lot of houses where given their condition and/or size, they seem to be priced too high. And the thing is I can’t figure out why they would be, because even though it’s an area that may be doing better economically than where I’m from, the area isn’t nice enough, especially downtown, to justify it. All of that said, though, it’s an area that does seem to be on its way up–in the past few years since I moved here, and especially in the more recent few, more businesses have been popping up, and I’d say that our food scene is underrated. We’re not gonna have the quality or variety that, say, nearby Pittsburgh has, but you can get really good food here. There are so many places we like to go that it’s not uncommon to not go to a particular one for weeks just because of all the other good options. There’s really good Italian, but then we have Greek and Mediterranean, a couple hibachi places, a few really good, authentic Mexican restaurants, and the new-ish restaurant and pub we’ve been visiting a lot lately. There’s enough independently owned places that we almost never eat at chain restaurants here anymore, unless there’s something specific they have that we want.
  3. Whose talent or skill is overrated, and whose is underrated? I’ve gone off about this before, but I think Lady Gaga, though talented, is vastly overrated, and I think she used dressing weird as a tool to get her more attention to sell more records. I’m not usually that cynical about artists, but there’s something about her that seems inauthentic to me. Musically, I don’t think she has anything to offer that’s any different (or better or worse) than your average pop star, and I think some of her lyrics are downright horrible. And let’s throw Selena Gomez in, too, because if you listen to her live or watch her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, she can’t sing. Girl owes her music career to autotune and teenage girls who don’t care. All of this was a bit more scathing than I thought it would be. For underrated, I’ll go with my last concert, Jukebox the Ghost. They do this really great, catchy piano-driven pop, and they’ve been drawing a lot of Queen comparisons lately for their vocal harmonies. I’ve been compiling playlists for what I want to play at my wedding in August, and they keep ending up on it often enough that I’m probably gonna have to pare that down. Plus their pianist is super talented. He released an album of all piano improvisations, they took one of Jukebox the Ghost’s albums and did piano covers of every single song, and he did a cool, fun Facebook Live video of piano improv.
  4. What item in the supermarket is overrated, and what’s underrated? Avocado is overrated. I don’t get why people love it so much. It’s bland. That said, I’m gonna totally contradict myself here and say tofu is underrated, but tofu will take on other flavors and can be thrown into a lot of things. I’m a big fan of it in stir fry, and I think Asian food in general uses it really well. I eat a lot of pad thai, and I love tofu in that, too. To be honest, I think it gets a bad rap not because of its lack of flavor but because it’s used a lot by vegetarians and vegans, and I think even now, people still give those dietary choices such shit that tofu is dismissed as a silly food for non-meat-eaters. Like, if you ever hear people complain about it, pay attention to the context, because I can almost guarantee you it’s gonna be more about making fun of vegetarians than it is about tofu itself.
  5. What’s utterly terrific except for one or two things? I keep thinking of things that I like and that are good but that calling them “utterly terrific” feels a bit much. How about concerts? They’re super fun, but there’s almost always that one douchebag. The prices are sometimes ridiculous, but that all depends on who’s playing at where it is, too. Speaking of that, though, let’s throw in the fact that at one of the outdoor venues here, each ticket is charged a parking fee, which makes sense on one hand so the lot itself is free and they can maintain it, although I use the word “maintain” loosely since it’s gravel and there’s no way the venue doesn’t make enough of off food sales to pay for that shit themselves. But on the other hand, if you’ve got one car full of people with tickets, they’ve essentially all paid for parking.

From here.

At this point, Jukebox the Ghost coming to Pittsburgh is pretty much an annual thing, at least for the past few years. I was starting to think that their work on a new album this spring would keep them away, but nope–they took a break for a short stint on the road, which included a Pittsburgh stop.

Last year, Paul and I declared that Emily was gonna come with us, but turns out the timing of this one was too close to the end of her semester. So it was just Paul and I–and he came down with a bad cold that week. He was actually unsure about going, but I kind of talked him into it, and I think he’s probably glad I did. Not only was it a good show, but rather than stand on the floor the whole night, we decided to look into the venue’s balcony seating. The way it works is it’s essentially an upgrade where what you pay is put towards a food tab. It’s kind of not worth it in that regard, but if you think of it as food plus balcony seating of your choice, that helps. I don’t know that I’d do it again for that much money unless the circumstances, like congestion, made it really that much more appealing, but it was nice for the night.

It was a great concert from them, as usual, but I wasn’t able to get the next day off–the request list was full and we were too busy–so I had to suffer through a tired Friday.

And when the weekend hit, I got a much-needed haircut, we went to Rita’s, and started exploring some of the local trails I didn’t know we even had. I knew the Montour Trail ran up around Pittsburgh, but until Kelly posted pictures from a leg not far from us, I didn’t realize we could be there in a 20-minute drive. So a couple weeks in a row we went to different trail access points and walked it, and it’s been nice to get out now that it’s generally warm enough to do it. As good as I’m sure the gym is for me, I much prefer walking outside like that, and we’re not doing too bad distance-wise considering we didn’t do it all winter.