I had really hoped I could get a little ahead of the game by posting at least one regular blog post over the weekend, I had so much going on, but that turned out not to be in the cards. I literally just never had the time. I spent time with enough people over the past three days that, in addition to Shobhit, it will yield seven separate people getting points on the next Social Review.
In some cases, they were semi-spontaneous surprises. Hey, how about I just number through the seven? I like that idea.
#1. Sachin: Friday
Shobhit did tell me, on Thursday I think, that Sachin may come over on Friday. Although this actually throws back to the early days when Sachin used to come over so often and stay for so long that I got really sick of it, it's been a longi> time since that was an actual trend (well before Shobhit moved away to New York in 2010) and it had even been quite some time since Sachin even came over. In fact this may only have been the second or third time since Shobhit moved back from L.A., and that was a year ago last month. So, it didn't really occur to me that Sachin might arrive as early as 4 p.m. . . . and then stay for nine hours.
Seriously, that's not an exaggeration. It was around 1 a.m. when Sachin finally left. I had been in bed for a few hours by then, and I overheard Ivan come out of his bedroom and when Shobhit asked if they were being too loud, Ivan said, "I can hear everything you're saying." There was definitely a certain pointlessness to that exchange, to Shobhit even asking about it, because predictably, he and Sachin weren't particularly quieter after it. And those two love to argue -- or I suppose "debate," as they might call it. They both live for it. They raise their voices a lot. They don't really fight, they just really get into it. Usually about money, in one way or another. I actually got into the conversation earlier in the evening, which Sachin specifically told me he was glad I did, because I usually don't. But, I had to defend a point Shobhit was making while conceding he was making it badly (a bit of a habit with him).
In any case, I came home from work Friday evening and knew immediately we wouldn't be grocery shopping that night, not just because Sachin was there, but because they were also sharing a bottle of wine. So, I made myself a cocktail. I spent a fair amount of time alone in the bedroom right after that, knowing Shobhit would be so distracted with conversation with Sachin that I'd have plenty of time to revamp my budget for 2018 based on my new take-home pay on my first paycheck of the year, which I got that day -- nearly $100 less than I was getting last year, even though I got a raise, but Shobhit had me switch it so I was indicated married but taxed as single. This way I get taxed more through the year but hopefully we don't owe as much when we file taxes in 2019. It took me a little while to get it done, as I made my budget much more detailed than ever before -- including budget payments for annual fees for Amazon Prime and American Express (and I just realized this morning I need to add Squarespace), divided by 12 for each month of the year, that kind of thing. I also finally took Shobhit's advice and lowered my savings payments to leave a spending balance of $500 every pay period instead of the $400 I had before, because I went over budget so often last year. Hopefully this way I'll have a budget balance I can then still send as extra payments to savings at the end of most pay periods, more often than not.
My getting this done made Shobhit pretty happy, I think. And I do feel more organized. It made for feeling like I had a productive evening, anyway.
And then, as you can see in the short video clip above, both Sachin and I helped Shobhit make aloo (potato stuffed) parathas for dinner. He made two different vegetable dishes to have with them. One was a relatively obscure vegetable I can't remember the name of; the other seemed on the surface to be a sort of iffy hodgepodge: with leftover potatoes with certain spices in them, he dumped those into a pot of kidney beans. Potatoes and kidney beans? Well, that dish turned out to be by far the best, which was a pleasant surprise. Sachin commented more than once on how tasty it was.
We all ate at the coffee table in the middle of the living room, and then we played a couple rounds of Yahtzee. Sachin later decided he wanted to play Cribbage (that's what he and Sachin were playing the first time I got so drunk I woke up the next day with a terrible hangover), and I wasn't all that interested in that. So I went to bed.
#2 and #3. Claudia and Dylan: Saturday
Shobhit and I did our grocery shopping late Saturday morning: new favorite produce stand called McPherson's on Beacon Hill, and since it's so close to that store, then to PCC Columbia City -- where I only got something like five things, we needed so little. That was after getting countless vegetables filling two bags full, for the same price of roughly $35.
Anyway, it was not long after that that Claudia and Dylan arrived, having somehow misremembered our scheduled movie at 2:00 to be at 1:00. I began to suspect that when she messaged me at about 12:30 they were on their way. When I told Shobhit that, he set to making Indian chai, which I suggested he make for us all to have while watching the movie in the theatre downstairs. I got a message to let them in at about 1:10 -- they must have thought they were slightly late, and actually they were fifty minutes early.
Someone had let them into the other building -- this is actually against the rules and annoying that it happened; it's how we wind up with riffraff roaming our buildings -- or stealing our packages, which has been an increasing problem of late. In any case, when I got down there, Claudia and Dylan were standing just inside the community kitchen, where some other woman was doing stuff at the counter. I assumed she had the kitchen reserved, but there was nothing going on in there when we were done. Whatever.
Shobhit came down soon after with a thermos full of the chai. I had texted him asking him to bring down Fireball whiskey to add to it, but I was too late. Dylan to the rescue! He had a flask of regular whiskey at the ready, and he added it to all our mugs of chai.
We then set about watching Mel Brooks's Spaceballs, one of Claudia's all-time favorite movies. It's so dear to her that she uses a quote from it in her Skype profile at work, which I have always loved: "Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." Unfortunately we were talking about something when the line actually came up in the movie, and we all kind of missed it.
I've long had mixed feelings about Mel Brooks movies, which clearly worked well in the context of their time, but do not age well -- especially Blazing Saddles, a movie I have never liked. History of the World Part I is arguably his best, and even that suffers from what all his movies suffer from: slightly labored pacing. None of them match the rapid-fire gags of a comedy masterpiece like Airplane! That said, I did find that Spaceballs does the opposite of most movies and actually picks up in the second half. Shobhit even complained about it not being very good, until it picked up later and he was laughing a lot more often.
We all got to chatting after the movie was over, and Claudia and Shobhit even got into surprisingly philosophical territory: she believes everything matters and he believes nothing matters, and in the end they agreed that effectively both mean the same thing. When Shobhit left, much earlier than I did because I did not want to make Claudia and Dylan feel rushed out, I even commented on how well he handled himself in that conversation. A lot of times he gets into passionate discussions with friends to a point where I just feel embarrassed, but that didn't happen this time. It was nice to see a discussion like that were I saw mutual respect going on.
And then Claudia and Dylan and I shot the shit for probably at least another hour after that, talking about all kinds of things. They even busted out beers to drink as we visited -- they were clearly in no hurry, and neither was I. It was 5:00 or so by the time they headed out. I guess they took a Car2Go to get down there from North Seattle, because they didn't want to deal with trying to find street parking on Capitol Hill. That seemed pretty smart to me, actually.
I had hoped maybe Shobhit could cook something for us all that would be easily transferrable down to the theatre, since after I had brunch at their place last October I promised we'd have them over sometime for Shobhit's cooking. Shobhit's Indian chai had to suffice for now, so we'll still have to have them over for dinner sometime. Maybe sometime after Ivan moves out mid-February.
#4 and #5. Lynn and Zephyr: Saturday
Saturday evening was the annual birthday party for Lynn at her and Zephyr's hangout, AFK Tavern, a gamer-themed tavern in Everett that they've been going to for so long they actually have an item on the menu named after Zephyr. It's not on their menu online, but it was on the menus we looked at Saturday night. I can't remember what the dish was. "Zephyr Something-or-Other." Shobhit asked about it and Zephyr confirmed it was named after him.
I don't know how long they've been doing this, but it's the third year in a row I've gone to this tavern in Everett for Lynn's birthday -- I always feel it's the least I could do when she always gets together with me for my Birth Week, and in the end every year these are the only two times we see each other. Every single year we talk about how we should get together more often than that, and we should actually make it happen, and then it doesn't happen. Maybe it will this year, though. Shobhit also suggested having them over for dinner sometime. So we have Claudia and Dylan to make dinner for sometime, and Lynn and Zephyr to make dinner for sometime.
Anyway, I've actually met up with them at AFK Tavern four times, the first time being not for Lynn's birthday, but to play Cards Against Humanity in August of 2013 -- one of the rare years when we managed to get together outside of either of our birthdays. Next was for her 40th birthday party, that Saturday actually landing on her birthday of January 9. I took the bus there that year -- Shobhit was still in L.A. -- but their friends Matt and Emily gave me a ride home, which was very nice. Last year Shobhit had just returned from L.A. the month before -- he hadn't even been home more than a few weeks yet, actually -- and so we were able to drive there and back together, just as we did this past weekend.
I feel like the number of guests was slightly lower this year than in previous ones. Or maybe more people came after Shobhit and I left; the party technically started at 7:30 and we arrived at 8:00, deciding it would be fine to be late since we were there on time last year and Lynn and Zephyr had been running behind and did not arrive for several minutes after we did. This time, several people were already there when we arrived, as were Lynn and Zephyr. I first had us sitting at the one empty table in the reserved section this party is always in, but Shobhit didn't like being in the corner, so we switched over to a table sitting opposite Lynn's youngest son (who is now 17), Nick, and his sister from Bill (who is not Lynn's daughter), Daphyn. I could not remember her name and had to ask her. When I learned she is 34 I was genuinely shocked -- she could have passed for 18 and I told her so. She said she gets that a lot.
I ordered a Mai Tai and it was fantastic, if slightly weak. It's just as well, since I drove home, after Shobhit had a beer and the "Polyjuice Potion" cocktail that is random and different every time it's ordered -- we theorized it was just 7-Up and vodka. I had the hazelnut veggie patty burger they have on their menu which I get every time I'm there, because it's fucking delicious, with tater tots. The basket had a lot of tater tots, all piled in between the two halves of the burger they cut for us.
Lynn sat and visited with us at our table for a while, but of course had to make the rounds too, being the birthday girl. As also seems to be the case every year, she was wearing a very cool dress, which you can see in the photo below. It fit in with the theme of her birthday, "42," referencing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- the Facebook invite said, "Bring a towel!", which only people familiar with that book series would understand. I didn't see anyone actually bring a towel, come to think of it. We did get party favors, though, including a dolphin pendant necklace, the dolphin being plastic with flashing lights inside it when you squeezed it. You can see it on both Lynn and me in the photo below, which Shobhit took with my phone. Anyway, Lynn's dress glows in the dark, but she was most excited about it having pockets. She told me she got it at Hot Topic, which cracked me up. I could just see her shopping there with all the nineties-era got kids.
The birthday cake was the best thing: inspired by the Hitchhiker's Guide sequel So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, in which all the dolphins disappear just before the Earth is destroyed, and that is their farewell to humanity. The cake had dolphins all over it, and the caption, Happy Birthday Lynn - Thanks for All the Fish! I had to text Gabriel a picture of it, as he was the one who got me into that book series in college.
#6. Danielle: Sunday
When I saw Ivan briefly after he got out of bed late Saturday morning, he asked me what my weekend plans were. I told him there were quite a lot: the movie with Claudia and Dylan that afternoon; Lynn's birthday that evening; and I was to hang out with Danielle on Sunday. Danielle wanted me to help her organize some stuff on her new, upgraded iPhone. I did tell Ivan we could watch a movie together Sunday evening, probably. I'll get to that shortly.
Shobhit worked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. yesterday, so I took the bus to Renton, where Danielle picked me up shortly after noon at the Renton Transit Center. They day was going pleasantly enough at first: Danielle had taken Morgan to her horseback riding session but then we dropped her back off at Patrick's, as the kids were otherwise with their dad this weekend. That left Danielle and I alone with her dogs, when I confessed something to her that made her say, "You're disgusting!" And I felt alive!
We took the dogs for a walk a bit on the Cedar River Trail, which is very pretty, and we went to the same dog park we went to with the dogs last summer. It was all quite lovely, and then, we were just about to climb back into the van when the day took a sudden turn for the sad and tragic.
Danielle got a phone call, and the ID said it was her Aunt Sandy -- it was actually her younger sister, Shannon, who apparently lives with Sandy right now. Danielle's Uncle Randy passed away, or at least it was discovered he had passed away, just the night before.
Danielle had the fairly typical reaction in moments like this: "What?!" -- shock, and "No!", quickly followed by sobbing. The call was brief, as Danielle said, "I need to process this, I gotta go," and she hung up. That's when she said to me, "Uncle Randy died."
She was pretty close to this uncle, and to drive home the sadness of it -- in spite of the knowledge that he was sick with cancer, was 69 years old, and everyone knew he did not have much longer -- he was her last connection to her dad, who died in the fall of 2015 (the reason she was unable to come with me to the Madonna concert in Vancouver). Over the course of the afternoon she would tell me other details, like how Randy and Reg were very close, and apparently Reg literally told her on his deathbed, "Take care of Randy." Danielle really took this to heart, and really loved this uncle, even though he was apparently perpetually grumpy and super-conservative and an open Trump supporter. They went to see The Eagles in concert together just this last fall and had a great time together.
"Well, this changes everything, for my whole week," she said, before we got back in the car. Before she even said that, I stood there watching her sob for a minute, not quite sure what to do, until I finally lifted my arms and took her into a hug, and she sobbed onto my shoulder for a few moments. I wasn't even sure how I could best support her after that. Should I still hang out with her for the afternoon? Have her just take me back to the bus? I didn't say any of these thoughts and I'm glad I didn't; she just drove me back to her place as planned, and we had nachos for lunch just as we had already discussed. I didn't have to spend any money for any of the time I spent with her yesterday -- and neither did she.
She did have to make several phone calls, of course -- the ones to both Patrick and her mom, Gail, were made while we were still in the car. Both were pretty startled by the news. Gail called later to tell her that whenever she left for Spokane for the funeral, she would happily stay at the house to look after the pets, which was very nice of her. She also spoke to Shannon again a little bit later, at the house. We talked about Alisha a bit (her sister who is a year old) -- the falling-out between her and Danielle is so significant now that Danielle literally told me she's decided even if their mom died, she wouldn't call to tell her. Jesus! I said, "Well, we'll see how you feel if and when that happens. Your mom is a whole different ballgame."
On Saturday there was a horrifying false alarm of incoming ballistic missiles to Hawaii, and people there for some forty minutes really thought they were about to get bombed, even though they weren't. I remain astonished that even happened at all. Alisha lives in Hawaii, and even with something that major, Danielle doesn't even care how Alisha dealt with it. She has no interest in finding out, that's how "over" this sister she is. This falling out has very much to do with their Uncle Randy, incidentally -- he had gone to visit her in Hawaii to celebrate her finishing nursing school, and I guess she was really shitty to him, to the point that they fell out -- and it was ultimately what made Danielle decide to be done with her. "Alisha doesn't know how to set boundaries," Danielle said, explaining some of what happened between Alisha and Randy when he was visiting and apparently annoying her. "She just gets pissed."
If there's anything Danielle knows how to do, it's setting boundaries immediately -- a guy from work texted her "What's up, pretty lady?" and she immediately wrote back that they don't know each other very well and he doesn't get to call her "pretty lady." I mean, I think Danielle does need to get laid, and she could easily get it with this guy, but there are many reasons he's probably not the best idea. Apparently Danielle hasn't been with anyone since Patrick, and never cheated on Patrick; this means it's been probably, I don't know, 13 years? since she's been with anyone but him. We talked about this at the dog park: no-strings hookups just aren't something she feels like she can stomach. And that's fine and fair -- we're all different. Me, I'm all about the NSA hookups. They enhance the quality of my life! They don't for everyone, though; I get that. Also I think our culture just makes it harder for straight people to embrace such things than it does for gay people.
Anyway, back to Alisha. It's just sad, that whole thing. Danielle told me she gets jealous of other people whose families consistently get together without major drama and enjoy large family gatherings. And of course, I'm one of those lucky people who gets that multiple times a year. Danielle said she hopes she can be the matriarch that the family comes to gather around, as her daughters grow up and have families of their own. I told her all she has to do is be that person -- it really can be that simple, at least with kids being raised as well as hers are. My Grandma McQuilkin was that person, and I am eternally grateful for it.
Danielle had moments over the course of the afternoon where she just suddenly and randomly started crying. More than once she said, "I'm sorry." I get how that can make someone self-conscious, but still I said every time, "You have nothing to be sorry about." I even assembled her plate of nachos for her, at her request -- "Can I play the sympathy card?"; of course you can! -- she didn't eat until a little while after I did, as it took her a bit to get an appetite. She kept beating herself up because she had tried to call Randy on Saturday but never got an answer; he was probably dead. He had asked her to look into something for him and she took a couple of weeks to get back to him, and now has never been able to. She kind of fixated on this as a specific thing to be upset about, which I suppose is natural.
My being there with her turned out to be a very good thing. She was openly appreciative that I was with her when she got the news, and she didn't have to be alone. She was happy to have the company for a while through the afternoon as well. She said I was with her when she got the news in the late nineties that her grandmother had died as well, which I can't remember. Anyway, I also helped her figure out how to link her iCalender to the Alexa she got for Christmas. It took a while but I figured it out -- and agreed with her that it was indeed unduly complicated. "I'm not just a simpleton?" No, you're not.
She had a few beers, which precluded her driving, so she suggested getting me a Lyft. I told her I was fine with just getting a ride to the Renton Transit Center, because Lyfting all the way to Seattle would cost a fortune. "That's fair," she said. She busted out the app and got a Lyft coming for me at about 4:30. We should have done it, like, ten minutes earlier. I would have made it to the 4:48 bus back to Seattle from the transit center had the Lyft made it to Danielle's place in the amount of time it initially said, but it took about five minutes longer. The guy's GPS said it would take 14 minutes to get to the transit center, and that's exactly how long it took -- getting me there right at 4:58, just after the bus left! So, I had to wait half an hour there for the next one.
#7. Ivan: Sunday
That left my ETA about 6:30 pm, and while I was busing home, Ivan messaged me that he wouldn't be getting home until 7:30. This was unusually thoughtful on his part, even for him as he's actually one of the more polite people I know (to me, anyway; he isn't to everyone). When he had first asked what time we'd watch a movie that evening, I said I wasn't sure but sometime after 6:00 probably.
When we first discussed it on Saturday, he found out I had gotten Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from Netflix and expressed interest in watching it with us. But then he messaged me late yesterday morning that he saw we had a DVD copy of Lady Bird and he wouldn't mind seeing that again -- he'd seen one of the many screeners for the SAG Awards that Shobhit has. I said I wouldn't mind seeing it either, but were we still on for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tonight? He replied, Yeah or Lady Bird, and I got the hint.
When he messaged me at 6:25 that he wouldn't be home until 7:30, I wrote, You're doing that just so we'kk watch the shorter Lady Bird aren't you with the "hmm" emoji. He replied, Ya caught me!
Shobhit had pasta made when I got home, and we watched the latest episode of Will & Grace to kill time waiting for Ivan to get back so we could put on the movie -- and then Ivan got back much later than stated. It was close to 8:15 when he came in the door. He never made himself dinner so he clearly had dinner with someone; he was evidently unusually social himself this past weekend -- even bringing home a guy Saturday night with whom he, let's just say, engaged in some audible passions. I mean, whatever; good for him.
In any case, his thoughtfulness about our scheduling a movie to watch last night is why I've made the executive decision to give him a Social Review point for this, even though I usually don't when it's just everyone who already lives there happening to watch a movie together. Yes, this is again me stacking his Social Review points so Ivan stays high on the next list, knowing he'll never again reach #3 in the rankings after he moves away. But! I have used deliberate-scheduling as criteria in the past (granted, for similar reasons: so Ivan will get more points), and I had another thought for rationalizing this last night: this wasn't just a typical movie watching by default because everyone living there just happened to be at home. This was done with very clear intentionality -- even to a surprising degree by Ivan himself, who came in the door and actually said, "Sorry I'm a little bit late." Clearly that qualifies as actual socializing, even if we do all already live there. And Shobhit reaps the benefit as well: since we all watched the movie together, Shobhit gets a point for the day on the next Social review as well. In fact he gets one for all three days of this past weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: all the friends I spent time with each get one point out of this weekend, but Shobhit will get three. That should make him happy.
And by the way? Lady Bird, my sixth-favorite movie of 2017, very much holds up on multiple viewings, which not all movies can pull off, and was nice to discover. Shobhit had thought he would use headphones on his laptop and watch something else, and even he got quickly sucked into it. Ivan actually did spend a lot of time looking at his phone, as usual, but he looked over to the TV more often than usual when he's all over his phone as well. And when it ended, I just had to say, "That is such a good movie!" Ivan nodded. And then I went to bed.
[posted 12:20 pm]