Tuesday, May 18, 2004

An Abridged Version of the Last (nearly) Six Months
Apologies to Miss Murar for switching between present and past tenses.

Had a nice Christmas with the family, lots of loot.

New Year's was fun. I think. Honestly can't remember what we did. Got my PHR certification that I studies so hard for. *cough* Hopefully it will be put to good use.

Rick's still on unemployment, I got an assistant management job at the CTR in Shadyside.

Rick gets a job! He's designing and installing computer systems for restaurants. It's a match made in heaven.

We start looking at the housing market and applying for loans. Our realtor is strange and scary behind the wheel of her Honda Pilot as we check out prospective neighborhoods.

Went up to visit friends in Cleveland. Left abruptly when we realized neither of us wanted to crash on someone's couch. Must be getting old.

Our good friends Larry and Krista got married! The evening was super-fun, despite Rick's having to depart early due to the flu. Met John Lithgow, who happened to be staying at our hotel. I chased him--nonchalantly, of course--onto the elevator.

"Aren't you John Lithgow?"
"Yes, I am."
"What are you in town for?"
"A WQED event for Mr. Rogers."
"Ah, I heard about that. Three, please."
"I have a wedding reception."
"Oh, how wonderful."
"Yes, my friends got married."
"Here is my floor. It was nice meeting you. I'm a big fan."
"Pleasure meeting you."

That coversation...changed...my...life. I feel like I'm a better person for meeting John Lithgow.

The evening was full of magical experiences, just like meeting John Lithgow. DJ E-Z Lou delivered another flawless performance. The steak had a delectible butter crumb topping. And we chucked a four-foot ice sculpture of a bear into the Allegheny River.

We were observing, of course, the ancient Viking marital ritual, performed by attendants to the bride and the groom, normally sometime after the brydeala, or "wedding feast". The ice bear, naturally, is a symbol of fertility. After blessing the bear with meade, it is hurled into southern-flowing river which terminates at a confluence. The confluence, of course, sybolizes a strong and long lasting union between the newlyweds. It's a touching ritual, really, but the ceremonial bear-skin robes and ice phalluses get uncomfortable.

My cousin and my aunt came into town to visit colleges. This is my baby cousin, whom I held in my arms the day of her christening 17 years ago.

Holy crap, I am old!

I came along for the Pitt campus tour. She's interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, and they have an excellent school here. Tenth in the nation for graduate level studies. The campus guide gave such a great spiel--despite exhaustion from finals week--that I wanted to go school there.

Still thinking about graduate school, but it doesn't make much sense in my life right now. I'm not interested enough in anything academic to spend money on a degree. And I'm not convinced it's wise to take courses to further my professional background unless I know what direction my career is going to take. Although evidently the specialty coffee/espresso drink industry is one of the fastest growing -- something like $9 billion annual revenue (of course I can't find a link to corraborate this story). Maybe I'll get my PhD in lattes.

I did finally get my management job at CTR. Managing the Mt. Lebanon store now. Not sure if it's what I want to settle with, but for the time being I'm making a steady salary plus generous tips, my healthcare is paid for 100%, and they have paid pregnancy leave (should the need arise). The Coffee Tree is partnered with Parkhurst Dining, which owns all of the Eat n' Parks along with various other food service ventures. For instance, all of the dining halls on CMU campus are Parkhurst Dining. Evidently, they are in the middle of expanding their espresso cart business to include over 50 new sites at local colleges and hospitals. Coffee Tree Roasters is supplying all of the beans, as well as the brewing equipment and espresso machines. They are intersted in me doing the management and barista training, which I'm very excited about. Also, CTR is planning on moving their corporate offices to a larger space. When they do that, they want to include a training facility for all new employees, as well as a cupping room, where they plan to offer tasting courses to the public. All very intriguing. When any of this is going to occur is uncertain, but it's interesting to be involved.

Yeah small local businesses!

Somewhat halted our house hunting, as we were turned down for our initial homeowner's loan. The biggest reason was apparently Rick's work history was "unstable." We figured that had to do with the fact that he was unemployed for four months, but it was actually because we listed his new job title as "Systems Admin" or "Computer Tech"--can't remember which. Because Rick's previous positions were all "Restaurant Management" the FHA folks figured that Rick was moving into an unrelated industry and position when he took his job at Pittsburgh POS.

But you see...it's...all...related...no? OK, well but he istalls computers at restaurants. Working with management to set up a system that works for them....Training restaurant management and employees to use the system....Still no?

Guess we'll be waiting for a year. Hope interest rates stay low.

Went to see George Carlin on Saturday. Rick and I are both big fans, and he did not disappoint. Although now visibly "elderly" -- think stooped shoulders and pants up to his pits -- Carlin was still incredibly fresh. Besides a fast reference to "pussy farts", the majority of his material was new, including reading two monologues that are going to be part of his upcoming HBO special. The ending monologue "I Kinda Like it When a Lotta People Die," (mentioned in the P-G article) was evidently composed right before 9/11, but shelved because he felt it would offend too many people.

Apparently it offended quite a few members of the 7 p.m. audience. As we were leaving, I overheard one woman say, "Well I thought he was funny, but I didn't like some of his subject matter."

Jeez, Lady. Weren't you tipped off by his tour T-shirt slogan, "Simon Says: Go Fuck Yourself"? The man's comedy is based on dark observations and sick interpretations. When was the last time you saw him smash a watermelon with a mallet? It's "autoerotic asphyxiation" or nothing: "These people don't know whether they're coming or going."

Har har.

I'm hoping members of the 9 p.m. audience were a little more urbane. Please, Lord, there must be a few non-Pennsyltuckians left in this fine city.

I have my doubts. Earlier in the evening we went to Mad Mex for dinner. As I was finishing up my fine Big Azz margarita (rocks, salt), an eight-top was seated next to us. A Pitt health and human services employee and her husband, two sets of grandparents, several drooling babies, and a Great Aunt Milicent thrown in there somewhere.

Now I have a super cool family, but even I know not to take my Grandma to Mad Mex (again). The tables are packed together, you can't hear anything over the employee-picked music, and the food is too "ethnic" for a 70 year-old palate trained to iceberg lettuce and thousand island dressing. This woman was trying her hardest to make it an enjoyable experience for all.

"Excuse me, Waitress, what is the mildest item you have on the menu?"


"Waitress, can you tell me if any of your frozen margaritas come virgin?"

We quickly finished our meals and moved to the bar. Where they serve tequila and shots of Red Hot, dammit!

Last night we went to see David Bowie. Man. I really tried hard to enjoy it. It was really important to me that I enjoyed it. But I couldn't. And you know why? The tickets were $76 a piece. Granted we were at Heinz Hall, which is a smaller, more personal venue, than, say Candlestick, but our seats were still way in the freaking back row. And scalpers were selling better tickets than ours for like 1/3rd the price we paid. I wanted to weep.

Sorry, Mr. Bowie. You're awesome and all, what with that big, dilated pupil. But not $152 worth of awesome.

Coming Attractions
In the beginning of June, our friends Matty Mo and Linzee are getting married. Their reception is at a place call Big House Studios. It's an old prison that's been converted into photography studios and large meeting spaces. The "ball and chain" symbolism attracts a lot of weddings. Hope to post some pics to our website.

Mid June we're vacationing in Chicago for five days. Going to see Skinny Puppy, which should be an incredible show. I think that "leather" is the traditional gift for the third wedding anniversary, so it only makes sense that we see Puppy.

On July 11, I'm having a party in Schenley Park to celebrate my 30th. KICK ASS. More details soon.

This is as abridged as I can be.

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