Ready or not, it does go on

sum up

 

I came across this quote today when I was looking for something else, and I thought about this blog, and how I hadn’t had a lot of time to write in the last couple of months. Even without working since August, I’d found a lot of ways to occupy my time, including school and spending as much time with my family as I could.

It’s an odd time of year. There’s just 20 days left of arguably the worst year of my life. I’ve experienced more in 2013 than a lot of people experience in a generation. I keep hoping at some point, the trial will show me why. I’ll learn the greater purpose of all of this trouble, all of the tears, all of the anger and the frustration. I can’t imagine I’ve gone through this for no reason.

We had our first Thanksgiving without my mother, and while I could feel her absence like an elephant sitting on my chest, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. I’m not as sure I’ll be able to say the same about Christmas. My mother was a Griswold for Christmas. It was her favorite holiday; her favorite time of the year. At times, I think my mother was probably more excited about Christmas than either my sister or I were. It was her thing.

When my newspaper work took me to Charleston, and later Washington, she didn’t care what holidays I worked as long as I could be home for Christmas. She wanted both of her children sleeping in her house for Christmas. And, now, she isn’t here.

And we have to deal with that. Christmas isn’t canceled because our mother died in March. Just as Thanksgiving wasn’t canceled. Just as her birthday will always be May 2. Just as my parents’ anniversary will always be tomorrow. Despite how much we hurt, the world will not cater to us and stop. Life, for us and everybody around us, will go on. People will go back to work. People will have great days. People will have vacations. People will get married and have children. They’ll do all of those things, and I should, too.

I once told a good friend that the only thing good about 2013 will be December 31. I can’t really say that now. My fortune has started to turn, and things are falling back into line. They’ll never be where they were before. I don’t kid myself. My life will never, ever be the same as it once was. I’m slowly becoming better with that. As cliche as it sounds, I’m adjusting to the “new normal.” I hate that at 34 years old, I know what “the new normal” even is, but I didn’t get to make that decision. Some decisions are not ours to make.

In case I don’t make it back, I hope Christmas treats you well if that’s your thing. If it’s not, I hope you enjoy a slate of bowl games that are enough to make even the heartiest of Vegas bookies squeal with delight. (Including the one I’m ditching in St. Petersburg — Go Bobcats!)

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Now available in smaller doses

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Hi, y’all. While I fully intend to show up here now and again to write some longer pieces when I find time or motivation, I’ve started a similar Tumblr account for shorter pieces. My goal, I think, is to just integrate them into one place eventually. I wanted a way to post things from my phone and WordPress still hasn’t come up with an app that I find ¬†user friendly enough to make me, as a user, want to use it.

So, bits of random stuff will be scattered here: Seriously, Jacque?

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Frank, Franco and figuring it out

[youtube=http://youtu.be/FCJFmL4oxPE]

I was thinking earlier today about perspective, and how a situation appears really depends on who’s viewing it. (This half-hour of the Mr. Obvious Show is brought to you by Anacin. Anacin: Still around.)

Like take the video above. Arguably one of the greatest NFL moments ever. I’m a fan of the Titans. I like Frank Wycheck. This was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever seen. I get chills when I hear Mike Keith yell, “THERE ARE NO FLAGS ON THE FIELD!!!”

You want to ask Wade Phillips about this play? Wade Phillips is still pissed. I assure you.

Or, take it back even further. John Madden: Still Pissed at Franco Harris. Nobody in Oakland is calling that the Immaculate Reception. Nobody in Buffalo calls the former the Music City Miracle. They call it HOSED. Straight. Hosed.

I fell off my daily posting challenge to myself because my life got in the way. I could consider it a failure, or I could consider it shifting my focus to other things that needed my attention — the last couple weeks of the MBA session, my job hunt, my father, my sister, the litter of kittens that showed up unexpectedly outside a few weeks ago ( … eek), spending time with friends, etc. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write or didn’t have anything to say. It was that I didn’t have the time to devote to it at the level I’d wanted. I’d rather not turn out a crap product. It’s not in my DNA.

I think (at least I hope) I’m going to have some choices to make in the upcoming weeks and months, and I’m going to have to rely on a lot of instinct and a lot of support. Every decision I make, I try to do right by those who matter most — my father, especially. He needs a spotter more than anybody. The right decision, of course, is going to be a matter of perspective. Not everybody will see the “right” decision the same. That can’t be my problem. Not anymore.

When I get time to sit back down, though, I’ll have to share my latest obsession and newest “if there was a way to get paid to do this, I’d do this for a living” idea. I’m dreadful.

 

 

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I like a good, mocking deadline

pressuredemotivatorDeadlines are fun in the sense that I know it’s coming, but I don’t do anything about it until I have absolutely no choice to act.

I’ve got a goal to try to get my portion of my International Business group paper finished before this trip we have at the end of the week, and well, I’m now right up against it. I lost some time tonight to something pretty worthy.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the PBS Frontline tonight “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” it’s worth your two hours, especially if you’re the parent or loved one of someone who plays football. It was really, really good.

But now, I’m behind. Really behind. I have to bail to write this paper. Go watch that documentary. Seriously.

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I got what I asked for … I’m a stereotype

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Many years ago, I told my friend Ben that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was to be one of those people who you saw writing all day in a Starbucks.

Be careful what you wish for?

There’s a guy to my left with his laptop doing some writing. Maybe it’s a screenplay. I’m going to tell myself it’s something really exciting and he’s going to be famous because that’s a better story than, “Guy who is like me who’s between jobs and killing that last 45 minutes before class.”

Had a little trouble with last night’s post, but that’s a story for another time. It’s saved to drafts and I think with a couple of tweaks and a little more work, I can fire it up.

OK, what I said about the guy to my left? Forget that. Phone isn’t on vibrate and just blasted at some ear splitting volume a techno-sounding ringtone. Instead of writing a screenplay, I’m just going to presume he’s updating his MySpace page.

The Peters Township Starbucks along Route 19 here in McMurray isn’t the busiest one I’ve been to, really. The one near campus at Southpointe seems to have a lot more people flowing through. It’s just me, Techno, a tattooed police officer, a younger girl in a Pittsburgh Pirates t-shirt and three middle-aged ladies who are sitting in the large comfy chairs up front just quietly reading books. Books. Remember those? Actually made out of paper products? Those were awesome.

It’s otherwise your typical Starbucks, with your typical Starbucks music, typical Starbucks decorations. It’s comfortable. It’s why people like me come here. I know what to expect. I’m not going to be let down or have to worry that what I want isn’t there any more. (Though, to be honest, I’ve taken to rotating my Starbucks locations up here so people don’t look at me and wonder why I’m just posted up at a Starbucks a few hours a day twice a week.)

I was telling Rob yesterday that when I go back to work full time, and man, do I want that to be soon, I’m hopeful that I’m able to find something that has the flexibility my last job had. My last job had a lot of bouncing from meeting to meeting and different projects and sometimes I started my day one place and ended it a hundred miles away. I loved it. Since I’ve been off and I’ve been doing a day or two a week up here and spending time set up quote-unquote working at Starbucks or Panera, I realized how much I love the freedom of it. I’m not sure I’m a rigid schedule person anymore. When I was in the newspaper world, it was a rigid one to an extent — deadlines, after all, are a real thing that happen every day whether you’re prepared or not. Some of my other friends have left media for other desk jobs that are truly that: Desk jobs. They’re at a desk from 8:30 or 9 a.m. until 5, and don’t get outside. I’m not sure I’m programmed that way anymore.

Several times since I’ve been on unplanned vacation, people have told me, “You know, this was maybe fate’s way of telling you that you needed to take a break.” At first, I sort of brushed that off because I couldn’t step outside of myself enough to see what they were talking about. But the months after Mom died really took a toll on me not just mentally and emotionally, but physically, and I’m only just now getting it all straightened out with two different kinds of doctors. I’m starting to feel much, much better physically. That’s a huge deal for me. “I’m fine” only gets you so far. It doesn’t get you out of everything.

It’s kind of fun being the mysterious person writing away in the Starbucks for a while. I’ll take it.

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… and then stuff didn’t work

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Some stuff’s being wonky on my end. No real post tonight. I don’t know whether to count this as a break in the streak of not, but I hope to have stuff sorted out tomorrow for a full entry.

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Rain, road trips, and the surreal

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If you have Homecoming and nobody shows up, is it still Homecoming? I mean, nobody came home. Even when the rain completely stopped and the game got under way, I’m figuring 5,000 — maybe 6,000 — showed up. Probably 500 of those were Ohio fans.

Just a surreal day overall. I’m watching my alma mater endure some kind of public humiliation on national television, and I can’t feel bad about it. I don’t know that I feel anything at all. I’m admittedly biased. I can’t view the situation objectively, so I don’t really even debate it with people. I just watch the traffic and if I’m inclined, participate in gallows humor. I’m good at gallows humor. If I didn’t laugh I’d cry. That applies to a lot of things.

Tiring day, but productive. You can get a lot done from the back of a broadcast box when the game is so uncompetitive it’s on autopilot. Two papers done? Bing. Takes a huge chunk out of tomorrow. Tomorrow is for being a sloth and writing just five pages pieced together from two previous papers.

Why do I always miss the awesome stuff on TV?: Um, wow. You want to leave a lasting impression during a live television interview? Bring a bag of someone’s ashes while you’re talking about how fast food kills people.

Bonus: No nausea or headaches today at all! Felt so good. Also, first trip ever to Bonefish Grill. Any place that has ceviche automatically gets put into the “favorites” list. Hoping that it’s available somewhere next week in Mexico.

The streak is alive … five for five. (5/31)

 

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You can’t spell excitement without ‘me’

photo 3The suggestive selling of @StayPuft on Twitter is responsible for what you see above. Not that this isn’t arguably one of the greatest movies ever, mind you. You know what else? Who knew the EPA had authority over the Ghostbusters? Walter Peck, you’re out of your element, bro.

Is this what Friday night becomes in your almost mid-30s? I mean, I’m OK with that. There’s a reason I’ve self-applied the label “Grandma” to myself for the last 10 years or so. If I didn’t have a countertop full of this, I’d probably have already changed into pajamas and gotten ready to shut it down.

photo 1That’s 36 individual yeast rolls that will be formed into 18 pepperoni rolls to hand out to friends in the press box at tomorrow’s Ohio game at Akron. The pepperoni rolls were my admission fee into the press box so I could go to the game and just hang out inside and get some work done during the game. Because, you know, everybody goes to college football games to work on international business and marketing management papers.

Today was a typical low-key Friday, but with some promise. I spent some time catching up with someone with whom I’d occasionally worked, and he had another lead for me, and it actually sounds pretty good. That takes the total number of leads I’ve got to four, so I’m just hopeful something materializes soon. As I was telling a friend of mine last night while chatting on Twitter, I don’t do unemployment well. I’m easily distracted, it’s frustrating, I have time to dwell. I just do better busy, at a frenetic pace.

So, eventually, I went out to pick up some lunch and this was the fortune I got.

photo 2Maybe my days as a lady of leisure are coming to an end soon. Either that or I’m finally getting on a reality show as some kind of den mother in the “Bad Girls Club” house. Could be either of those. I’d lean toward the first.

Seriously, America?

KFC-Go-CupsI will be the first person to tell you that I fully appreciate these strictly for their utilitarian approach. As someone who spends a significant amount of time on the road, it can be a real pain in the ass sometimes to try to balance the food you shouldn’t be eating anyway in a way that it won’t spill out all over the car while you’re tweeting.

But, COME ON. At some point, all of this feels like a “South Park” episode. I feel like in some ways, KFC is clowning itself. Maybe clowning the rest of us. Who among us doesn’t remember this gem?

Yesterday’s leftovers

Sherry, my dear friend I refer to as my older sister, pointed out in my karaoke column that I did leave one out one big one — a song that I’d describe as “our song” and always brings with it lots of laughs and smiles and horribly off-key yelling.

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So, if I were to amend to add a number 6, there’s the clear winner.

… and with that, Stay Puft is making his way past Central Park, and I think it’s about time to do some baking.

Rollin’: I’m 1.00 so far! And the Islanders just took the Devils to OT! (4/31)

 

 

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America’s Champion of In-Car Karaoke

music

 

Wow. I guess when I hooked Spotify to my Facebook page, it was going to show those fine folks the crap I listen to … on Spotify.

I can fully own up to having just about the worst taste in music ever. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t tell you anything that either mainstream people or hipsters like. I know names from hearing them, usually in a mocking sense. Like hearing about “Foster the (White) People.” And “Fun(period)” is something I could name. I also know that song about going home, which was probably cool like two years ago, was that American Idol runner-up or winner.

(Also, speaking of being tragically uncool, I’m sure there’s great, critically acclaimed television on tonight, but what am I watching? “Twister.” Yes, again. No, I know, it really is terrible. Right. But … At least 50 times, yes.)

This week I spent a little more time on the road than usual. In addition to class a couple of days, I had a few doctor’s appointments to try to figure out what’s going on with me lately. But after being out of practice with driving to Canonsburg five days a week, it wore me out. I’m also driving Dad’s Trailblazer which he’s kind of foisted upon me, and (first-world problems) it doesn’t have XM. Just regular old terrestrial radio.

… Which can get really old, really quickly up around that area.

On Wednesday night, on the way home from class I was fighting the onset of another headache, I was feeling a little achy and nauseated and I was just tired. So, to keep myself awake, I decided singing was the right answer.

I don’t sing publicly … that often. Back in college our group of friends was a Monday night regular feature at the now-defunct Papa D’s Lounge in Star City for karaoke. The fine folks of Nacho Mama’s in Mechanicsville, Va., have also been witness to some of this unique brand of … entertainment.

But, the real singing — the real American-Idol-finale-I’m-singing-at-100-decibels action — comes when it’s late, I’m tired, I’m driving alone and I’ll do just about anything to keep myself going. So, today, I was pretty excited to read an article on Mashable about “11 Infuriating Apps Your Most Obnoxious Friends Will Love.

Coming it at No. 11? (Eleven?! Really? COME ON.)

karaokeanywhere

Oh, it’s here, y’all, and it’s ON. Also, the best part of Karaoke Anywhere is that’s it’s free. You don’t even have to pay to have the best of the worst of your favorite dive bar at your hands. Couple of caveats: There is a paid version if ads annoy you (it’s $1.99). You have the option of streaming quite a few songs, or if you want to be Spendy McCashbags, you can choose to pay $9.99 a month to have access to a much larger catalog. There are also some in-app purchases for unlocking songs, however, you do have the ability to use songs out of your own iTunes library.

So, in honor of this discovery, I present to you my current Top 5 In-Car Karaoke Classics.

1. “Fancy” by Reba McEntire

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Nothing says ‘Murrrrca like a touching coming-of-age story about turning your teenage daughter out onto the streets to begin her career in prostitution. I remember back in 2010 Reba was one of the Capitol Fourth performers and she sang this. I was violently sick that day, but remember waking up enough to have a text conversation with P about whether this was actually appropriate for a family gathering to celebrate America’s birthday. We decided it probably was, ’cause, America. (In the interest of full disclosure, this is my actual go-to staple when performing in public. They say pick one thing, and butcher it. I pick this.)

2. “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston

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Whitney Houston died on my 33rd birthday. I got the AP news alert on my phone while I was at a Wheeling Nailers game with my friend J, who was my birthday date that year. Whitney Houston maybe ruined my birthday, but in fairness, it was a far worse day for her. I’ve never done this song publicly because I subscribe to this one truth that many American Idol contestants have learned the hard way: You are not Whitney Houston. You will never, ever be Whitney Houston. You cannot pull this off. You know where I can pull this off? Route 2 in Marshall County at 11 p.m. in the confines of a 2006 Trailblazer. That’s where.

3. “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert

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I’d never heard of Miranda Lambert until 2008. Before the team loaded up to head to Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day, Sweet Ann played this song for me when I told her I was looking for new music for the trip. Since that day, this song easily has been performed 500 times along some stretch of road on some tired night. This one I always found good for waking yourself up, especially if done with the windows down.

4. “Heart and Soul” by T’Pau

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Not gonna lie — I’m not even 100 percent I know all of the words to this song, and I think if I ever saw someone try to attempt this at a karaoke night, I’d go one of two ways. I’d be horrified, or I’d buy their drinks for the rest of the night for being so ballsy. Probably the latter. This was among the finest offerings Britain had for you in 1987, America. Right here.

… and last, but certainly not least:

5. “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Dionne Warwick

[youtube=http://youtu.be/LO9NP-SiT8s]

Going way back into the wayback machine for this hit, but my last memory of belting this out to a large imaginary audience was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on a drive to Harrisburg for work last fall. I’d somehow thought it wouldn’t be that hard to go to watch my sister coach a high school basketball game to help my parents with her babies, and THEN drive to Harrisburg. Note to travelers: The Popeye’s at the Sideling Hill Service Plaza closes at 9, which helps you absolutely none when you’re starving at 10:19. But, anyway, something just feels good about singing this one really loudly. It’s almost cleansing. And much as you would with her cousin Whitney, this probably shouldn’t be attempted by amateurs publicly.

So, friends, there you have it. A decade-spanning, genre-defying spectacle of bad decisions. Feel free to leave the ones you’re guilty of in the comments.

(And, for those people who are keeping score at home, I’m at 3/31.)

 

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I don’t see ‘pet therapist’ on this list

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I thought of this Natalie Dee cartoon on the way home tonight. At some point, I became absolutely terrible at using the phone. I think we all have. I hate to talk on the phone anymore. I think it started when I spent the majority of my day communicating, so when I was off the clock, the last thing I wanted to do was answer the phone and talk to anybody.

Today, some toll-free number came up, and predictably, I ignore it.

It was a job recruiter. They were offering me services that we all got that I completely forgot about. So, bonus there. I have my own personal career counselor for three months!

I haven’t started filling out the paperwork yet, but I really hope it has one of those assessments to tell me all sorts of things about myself and maybe what I should do for a living. Sure, there are all kinds of things I know I can do. I can do a whole lot of things that are exactly like what I did the prior two years and eight months (and three days, but who’s counting?), but what if this test tells me that I’m meant to be a high school band director or a cake decorator?

I’m not an ar-teest by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just … creative, I guess. Just tonight I came up with the best worst high school pregnancy prevention promotion ever. (I’ll save that for later.)

But this article did get me thinking.

Why Conformists Are a Key to Successful Innovation

Have I really been going about this all wrong? I know how to conform when it’s necessary, trust me. It isn’t that I’m outwardly a non-conformist. I think it’s just I see things in such an odd, unique way. I don’t see things like the other kids.

Quick hit: Long day. Long. I can’t believe this term for school is just three more weeks. Also, second visit to chiropractor. What do I like? I don’t feel like I’m being sold a bunch of stuff I don’t need. I like getting my back cracked. What don’t I like? I’m not sure I like drinking chlorophyll. But the stomach test didn’t hurt as much today, and when I had dinner before class, I tried the tofu burrito bowl at Moe’s. (Can see Rob staging a bacon intervention this weekend.)

So far, I haven’t derailed: Made it, but just under the wire. Last minute still counts. It’s still day 2. (2/31)

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