Note # 3: Because it's Summer & We Should All Listen

You may have seen this passed around on Facebook. So many of my family, and even friends, have shared this in the past month but I haven't. Until now.

It's Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. And suddenly it's a race to get tan and lay out in the sun all afternoon. But please, think about it before you do. Choose a self-tanning lotion instead and slap on the sunscreen. Stay in the shade and embrace the pale. I do. I have since my dear cousin was diagnosed with melanoma 5 years ago. I do it because I have more moles than my cousin did, I spent way more time in the sun than she ever did, I do it because of my family history. I do it because sometimes I can't believe, when I look in the mirror, that someone my age, so close to my heart, has suffered and is now is gone because of terrible, terrible cancer.

Melanoma is a young person's disease that takes away life. Sometimes I feel that our society will never get over the attraction attached to golden skin and sunbathing, but please, think about my dear cousin this summer. I can't watch this video without crying and I don't want anyone else to have to feel that way too.


Stuff I Write #1: It Takes Guts to Share

I wrote this a few weeks ago, inspired by a friend who shared a piece of her own writing, and debated for quite some time about sharing it here. I know that I blog, and share so much of life, but there is also a lot that I would never write here. Because it would hurt people, because there are always two sides to a story, and because not everything needs to be in print.

Lately though, I've been breathing sighs of relief and feeling that the next chapter in my life is here. I've always been open and honest but now I am trying to kick the shit out of life every day. So why not share what I've written and then leave it out there for others to read. And really let it free to disappear.

So, today, I bring you (with a lot of nerves and bravery):

The Same Old Story

I wear old t-shirts to bed imagining the smell of you.
They may have been washed nearly fifty times or more,
threads spinning wildly in the machine,
each delicate cycle creating suds where you used to be.
And when I slip a shirt over my chest,
it's baggy way of being feels like your body.
On top of mine. Again.
Suddenly, it is easy to remember the nooks and crannies of our bodies,
side by side, together, on our bed.
Reading and laughing as the rain finally came to a stop.
And then I can see my hand, gripping for more,
my heart pausing each time you pull away,
reach for the laundry, slip a shirt over your head and tell me--
"No, not tonight."

So, what do you think? What about your readers, is there something you do that is really hard to share with the world?


list #???: absentee

I haven't been blogging much lately. Way less than I like to, actually. But it is not because I am taking a hiatus. But for all the other ways that life gets in the way. I will be back, with stories and lists, but give me the holiday weekend to catch up. I may pop in during the next few days, but I know it won't be with scheduled emphasis.

So this morning's list? The life this that are happening that keep getting in the way:

Summer reading busting my butt as the library gears up for its busiest season.

Evening plans that bring me home later than normal.

A story about a girl and her bike and not wanting to waste any more energy.

Missing a loved one.

Early to bed. See the summer reading thing.

Twitter. And books. And season finale television.

What gets in your way of creativity, lovely readers?
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Letter # 16: To Myself in the Mirror

I sat down to write tonight's posts and realized that I haven' written anything here since Wednesday. Quite a long time for this librarian to be away, but a Friday off and a very busy, fun and active weekend certainly can keep a girl away.

And now it's tonight and I just facing a bit of writer's block. So, I am taking a cute from Peter DeWolf and focusing on a blogging project now.

So for tonight, here is my letter to myself, after staring at the mirro for a minute. With not a hint of make-up, wavy hair pinned back by bobby pins, in a college t-shirt after taking an evening walk.

Dear Me,

You have the moles of your ancestors. Beauty marks that forever connect you to the past. Once told that your Great-Grandmother, on your mother's side, had them as well. It reminds you of relatives never met and now, sadly, the best relatives now gone. You must always wear sunscreen and answer questions from children like "Why do you have so many spots?"

If you look closely, you can see the scar left from a dog bite in the eleventh grade. Not just any dog, but your new puppy. It's a story you tell lovers after awhile and you're always pleased that they don't notice. Or they notice, just months later than they should have. The same goes for that blonde streak in your hair, that's most certainly real and definitely not dyed.

And these are the things that make you. And except for maybe a week or two in the seventh grade, you've never shied away from the beauty marks, and you've never really been worried about the scar. And you have never colored your hair for fear of losing your streak.

So I want you to remember: yours is face to be loved. You're brassy and bold but sweet and quiet all at the same time. You're a feminine force to be reckoned with. And just because you've had your heart disappointed and your head messed, doesn't mean anything less than someone(s) not being right for your life.

All of those things were suppose to happen along your road and (as corny as it sounds) your travels are not yet finished. Just think of all the experiences that are out there on the horizon, the people you're meeting all of time, and the laughs that are surely going to bring about a few happy wrinkles.

Your face is a unique one. Beauty marks are rare. So if they forget you and yours, then let them go. And remember that smiles should come your way as often as possible.

So, lovelies? Will you take this challenge? Or at least share your thoughts to the mirror image of yourself in the comments?


List # 65: Things I Do Have

Yesterday I was thinking wistfully about the things I just don't have in my posession. Quite frankly, things that I won't be having anytime soon. And then today I got to sleep in, wear a pretty dress, feel accomplished at work, sign up to present at a conference and just well, smile.

So today's list, things that I do have. Right now.
  • A pile of books on my desk set aside for story times. It's both a blessing and a curse. And can be rather annoying when I can't actually see my desk thanks to programming and papers and more.
  • Pictures of my sweet cousin taped to my storage closet at my desk. From this past Christmas. All of us piled on top of each other in a garage. Something we don't think twice about, but strangers would question.
  • A friend moving to Columbus whom I will miss dearly. She's the best, but I can't wait to hear about her new adventures, dance with her at weddings and visit.
  • Black and white, polka dot wellies. And they sure are getting lots of use this spring.
  • Jewelry I have no intention of every wearing again. But am not quite ready to take out of the box just yet.
  • A library friend coming into town this weekend. You won't want to mess with me for about 48 hours, as she'll get medieval on your ass if you do. She's that fierce.
  • Texts and tweets that make the day much more fun. From unexpected to flirty to The Hunger Games. You really can't go wrong.
  • Tickets to Saturday night's Pirates Game. Such a hot commodity, aren't they?
  • A warm blanket.
So what do you have, right now, lovelies? From the silly to the sentimental. Let's make a list and count what's right there.


List # 64: Things I Wish I Had

It's self-explanatory tonight, lovelies Just a few things I wish I had gathered before it was too late and inspired by books I'm reading, conversations I'm not having and relationships that are here and not here.
  • A quiet vacation on a warm beach. With a good book and maybe, just maybe, good company.
  • All of the cards and notes the ex wrote me before he had to leave. There were many and the thoughts on them remind me of a time when love was there. And I left in too much of a hurry to remember that one day I might want to put them in a box.
  • Just one more night with my best cousin. With her healthy & vibrant & every bit as lovely as I will always remember. I want to laugh with her and then eat some junk food at her kitchen tables, laughing over board games.
  • A reason to wear my pretty little dresses in the evening and the weather to go with them.
  • One day to spend in bed. Silently with a good book, pen and paper.
  • A true Greek gyro.
So, tell me, what is something you wished you had today? Fleeting or serious. And hell, it can even make you want to cry.


Stories #1: Choose My Own Adventure

So I have been obsessing over Ernest Hemingway as of recent. It was The Paris Wife that got me started; a love story that is raw and true and shows that sometimes love just isn't enough.

I love this blog. It's a place where I can write relatively freely and it's been the best creative project I've started in years. But it has also been a push for me to get back to my writing roots. I used to be very concerned about what people thought about my written words. And I stopped writing. I would sometimes write in blank journals gifted to me by friends and family. But even that stopped too.

But now, I find myself wanting to write more and more. And I'm trying to take Hemingway's advice to write "one true thing" every day. If I start with that simple advice, then writing more doesn't seem too daunting. And so, this is my way of challenging myself.

I'm trying to pledge to post 2 true things every Monday, then have you dear readers, choose which story you'd like to hear. A bit of creative non-fiction, a truth turned into a story or some other piece. And then, on the following Monday, I'll post my final story. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll love it. Maybe it doesn't matter. But sometimes I need pushed to do things that are the hardest.

So here are the first choices in the Choose My Own Adventure Monday. You can vote or leave a comment. And then wait for the story to be told in a week. I'm pretty excited & hope you stick with me.


List # 63: Calming Down

My heart still hurts and I'm not really in the mood to write a long post. I haven't even been able to pick up a book and stick with it this weekend.

But tomorrow is a new day and a new week. I have a good feeling about this one and I am hoping some of my secret wishes actually start coming true.

But for tonight:



List #62: Songs for the Ages

I was all set to post a letter to my cousin tonight. But Blogger decided to quit today and then, when I sat down to finish the letter I have been writing, I found that I wasn't quite ready to finish it. I don't know if it's because there is only so much I want to share here or if I'm just not quite ready to send a final letter out there. Probably a mix of both.

So instead, I decided to come up with a mini-playlist for my best cousin. Songs that will forever remind me of her, songs that are silly, songs that make me cry and songs that give me hope.

Because this was the last bit of music I recommended to her & she dedicated this song to the biggest struggle of her life.

I know she's shaking her at this pick, but to me (a not very religious person) this song reminds me that we will be together again.
A song about survival. Because even though that terrible disease took over in the end. She was always a survivor with moxie at the core of her spirit.
Because I used to make my Uncle sing this for me on the guitar. And so many young memories of Laura & my brother & her sisters playing on keyboards and guitars and other assorted musical instruments. How I wish I had one ounce of her musical talent.

Because I know that Laura was talking about me on her last full day of consciousness. Concerned about my own happiness and heart. And I know she'd want me to let go of the sad and embrace my future.

So thank you to all of you who sent love and good thoughts this way. I truly believe that the most important things we can do on on this earth is to put kindness and love out in the world. And knowing that so many wonderful people were thinking about me, my cousin and all of our family really was as saving grace. So please, go listen to a favorite song, think of a loved one and promise to make a little room for happy tomorrow.


Note # 2: A Change Will Do You Good

A little break in this week's sad news. Because we all need a little sunshine even in the darkest moments.

If you're a regular reader of this librarian's lists & letters you may notice a few changes around here. If you're new, well welcome! And I hope you stay awhile!

I took the plunge a few weeks ago and hired out a graphic designer to create a custom layout for my blog AND I bought the domain to www.librarianlistsandletters.com. So many thanks to Etsy and the US Federal Government for providing a place to find goods/tax refunds. And I have to admit, it feels really special to have someone create something unique just for me. I may not be able to buy couture clothes, but a blog layout I can do.

So, take a look around:

  • You can now check out this librarian by subscribing to my blog via email.

  • If you use Google, become a follower. Or add this the blog to your reader!

  • Leave a comment telling me what you think of the new duds.

  • Check out Jennifer Stuart's Etsy shop too.

  • And most importantly, spread the word!

Perhaps it is kind silly to write a blog. But in the short span since I started this one, crying my eyes out on a snowy winter night, I have written more than I have since my days at Allegheny College. Taking the time out to write regularly has opened my heart and fostered creativity. I'm even working on a few short stories and (gasp!) a poem or two on the side as well. It's been a rollercoaster year for this librarian and this blog is exactly the project I needed.

Your thoughts? What would you like to see me write about? I even take notes on future topics now. What do you think of the layout?


List # 61: For Laura Lynn

My Beautiful Cousin & Me on my 28th Birthday, 2009

My cousin Laura and I grew up together. Our moms are sisters and in a family where there are 15 brothers & sisters (my mom is the dead middle child), near 40 grandkids and now 7 great-grandchildren you can always count on someone being there. Laura is my someone. It's impossible to escape our loud, wacky, Irish-Catholic family and, quite frankly, we wouldn't want to have it any other way.

There is a lot I would like to share about Laura and I a lot that is swimming along in my head and heart right now. But I for the past few weeks I have been trying to take my cousin's advice, pulled from our last night out together and a crying/love fest, and focus on the positive. So tonight my list is happy memories spent with the only person I have ever considered a sister. Only a few from our 30 years of laughing with family & friends through seasons and change. But ones I tried to share with her today and am happy to share with the world tonight.

  • Sleeping on the twin mattress on my bedroom floor the very first summer my family moved into my house. Laura came for a few days of sleeping over, Barbies and swimming. I remember how hot & sticky it was those summer days but how excited I was that my best friend was here. at my new house.
  • Always getting to the food buffet line first. No matter communion, picnic, family reunion, graduation party, Christmas or just get-together. We were no fools and knew that it was key to score a first-dibs spot in line among a family as large as ours.
  • Wearing the same dress to our senior prom and not knowing until we saw the picture after.
  • Finding abandoned baby birds in the blue spruce outside of her house on Priscilla and trying to nurse them back to health one summer afternoon.
  • Whirl pools in her backyard pool. And making her, her sisters & my brother perform water ballet too.
  • Laura staying up all night with me during one sixth grade sleepover. I had a terrible earache that eventually ending in a bleeding ear. And she stayed up all night with me, got me a hot water bottle and told me funny stories.
  • Playing handball on her street and, being the wuss I always was, crying that my heart hurt. To this day, I have never been able to live this one down.
  • Understanding my love/hate relationship with Andy Rooney & actually giving me Andy Rooney's book for my 29th birthday.
  • Going to an honest-to-goodness tractor pull.
  • Her rallying the troops when my love went away. Shopping & conversations over Chipotle
  • Spending big money (not really) at the Rivers Casino.
  • Being totally jealous that Laura already had 3 sisters, but never once feeling left out.
  • And our last night out together: Margaritas & Mexican, Beers at Six Penn and, most importantly, a late night conversation that lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning. Crying and laughing and talking about life. There is not much a girl without sisters could ask for from a cousin who is one.
So send some love out in the world today, friends. Let's try to do some good. And, remember that kindness and love are the only options we have.


List # 60: The Men that Were

Tonight I heard news that a dear friend got married. And tonight I had a heart-to-heart with my ex. Both completely unexpected events. And though one is shocking in the most happy of ways that can only mean celebration and hearing a love story, the other is shocking in the bittersweet sense and can only mean breathing the true end.

But either way, they both got me thinking about how the relationships in our lives end up working themselves out even though, when in the thick of things, we aren't always sure where they are headed. We ignore each other, we hurt each other, we put too much hope in someone's arms, we take laughs for granted & shed too many tears.

So here's my own version Alanis Morissette's Unsent. Because how good was that song? I remember hearing it in high school (when my experience with men and love and lust and all things in between was slim) and knowing that I was going to be one of those girls who had a list of unsent letters. I have always loved how short and simple her letters were and I have always been struck at how brave it was to put all of those emotions and thoughts out there in the open. To just hang there for people to hear and take as they want. How good is it to just say exactly how feel. Even if it's a bit late.

Dear Mr. High School: You were the one that started my crushes on smart men who were flying under the radar. You were a good friend who cared about my family and even now, more than 10 years later, I appreciate that. I am glad this never went further than it did, even though I felt differently at the time. Adult me can't give over the fact that you lean conservatively politically but I guess we never talked about politics in the front seat of your car. I used to enjoy running into you at local bars and the like and sometimes I still look for you in the crowd. Your smile reminds me of the girl I was back then, even when I close my eyes now I can remember it.

Dear Big Bad Brad: Thank you for showing me in the dorm rooms of Crawford, that high school crushes were fleeting. And thank you for being fleeting yourself.

Dear Mr. College: It was a mistake to fall in love with a best friend. We were doomed from the beginning, though too caught up in deaths and change and excitement to see that from where we once stood. You berated me with terrible insults and I cried too many tears over you for far too long. I should have learned to hang up the phone earlier than I ever did, but I was young & you were the first person I thought I ever truly loved. You should have never called all those many nights even after I moved home, but I think you know that now. I used to imagine that your poems would line my shelf, but I haven't even read your book. Though to be honest, I can't say that I never will. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we were ever a part of each other's lives, but I'm happy for you now and I am sure you are happy for me.

Dear Mr. Greece: When I think of Agrinio, I will always think of you and your broken English. You taught me, on date three, that I could never give up being an independent, American spirit. Thank you for retsina and cafes and for coming to visit me at my school, after Christmas. I hope you found the woman who would be happy cleaning your toilets.

Dear Mr. Grad Student: You were the one who taught me to love my body. You showed me how to enjoy drinks on a hot summer afternoon and how to make-out against doorways. But more importantly, you became the voice that shouted for change and made going back to school & blazing new paths seem not so scary. I will always remember washing your car and your liberal attitude. But more importantly, I will always remember how easy it was to become friends with you. The bookstore we would frequent has closed but I will always appreciate you realizing how nice of a girl I was and telling me that I didn't need men who weren't going to appreciate just what I could give. Both in bed and out. Thank you for not letting me settle for mediocre in any part of my life.

Dear Mr. Seminary: I'm quite amused that I may run into you some day. But thank you for a few weeks of hilarious lust. It was fun being the older, more wild and definitely more liberal woman. Thank you for telling stories about Priests & Ronald Reagan and please, don't ever shave the beard. I am hard pressed to remember your name, but I'll always remember the prayers you said before meals and the swingers who tried to pick us up on our first date. You gave me good stories to tell and I hope you share a few too.

You'll notice that a very important someone isn't included in here tonight. Mostly because I chose my words carefully earlier in the evening and it doesn't quite feel right to lump him in with the men above. Sure, a few of the above played a significant role in forming my 29 years but best person I thought I knew was something more than a little letter on a Sunday night. And right now I don't feel like spending anymore time, words or emotions on his role tonight. He knows what I said and I know what he said. We'll leave it at for now.

So dear readers, what is your own Unsent letter? Do you agree that sometimes it's those little tiny blips on the romance radar that you almost want to say more to? Please share in the comments.


Letter # 15: Note to Self

Dear Shannon,

Since when did you forget it was 2011 and you were 29, not 23. When was the last time you could really get by on less than 6 hours of sleep? I know you did it a lot, even when you were teaching, but come on now woman, 6 am comes quick and staying up to chat with people late night isn't doing you any good in the "clear-head & functioning" department.

Thank goodness for a desk day, no programs and the weekend. You have 2 good books to devour and cute clothes to wear.

Now go get yourself a happy hour drink & remember to go to bed early tonight.




List # 59: In the works

May could be a good month, despite the tough things still going on. And it seems that some spring-like, putting-pep-in-my-step activities are floating out there and just might come about:

  • Revisiting Ernest Hemingway, writing on some thoughts & wanting to slap him in the face.
  • A librarian filled weekend with our long-lost daughter of West Virginia.
  • Weather over 60 degrees and sunny. And the spring shoes that come with it.
  • A customized blog layout. And the surprise it will be knowing it is just for me.
  • A real, honest-t0-goodness date. Though I cannot jinx this one just yet.


List # 58: Drizzle, Drizzle

It's been nothing but rainy in Pittsburgh lately. Gloomy skies making no room for outdoor activities and really putting a crunch into my spring wardrobe.

I work the late shift today, so I thought I'd just put a little piece up this morning.

Rainy Goodness:
  • Wellies. Mine are black & white polkadot.
  • Cardigans: Still holding on strong, even if I can't wear some of my cute, new dresses yet.
  • May flowers: It's May now, so they're coming, right?
  • Bubble baths & books: Perfect closing on a rainy night.
Rainy Awfulness:
  • Headaches & cramps. So maybe they aren't actually related to rain, but they are hear today & already making the day worse than it ever needs to be.
  • Limited Clothing: Seriously, I have so many cute spring/summer outfits just waiting to come off the hanger. Let's get this going.
  • Nature misses me: Walking, bike riding, just eating my lunch outside.
Also on today's agenda: new glasses! yay!


LIst # 57: Monday Musings

It's growing late, today was exhausting but in the good way, and all I plan on doing for the remainder is watch The Daily Show and then curl into bed.

So tonight's list? Just three things that I can't stop thinking about today.

Because President Barack Obama is a badass. And when he talks to our nation like this I'm reminding of the 100 reasons why I love him. And why I walked throughout my city asking people for his vote.

Because of this: "Nothing is better than this, and this is everything we need." I know I have blogged about my girl-crush on Adele before (and who are we kidding, I'll probably do it again). If I could sing I would want to sing like her. I want to hang out with for a few months and wander the streets of London, cursing the men that left us and eyeing up the men we want to kiss.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain ~ My book of choice this week. I started on Saturday night and equally don't want it to end/put it down. I know that it ends in a heartbreak. But this book makes me want to wear a thin dress and a bob haircut, live in almost-squalor in Post-WWI Paris and trek mountains with friends. And I find myself falling in love with Hem just as much as Hadley does only to get angry with myself. But secretly, I see much Hem in the men whom I have loved in life. The bigger-than-life personalities, the fierce love & moody temperament and the dedication of life towards a goal that is so encompassing it often means pushing love away.

So, lovelies? What has started off rumbling around in your head this week? Share in the comments, please!

P.S. The new *custom made* layout will be finished very shortly. I can't wait to see it and even more, I can't wait to share it with you.