Letter #20: Things I Want You to Know

Dear Guy at Starbucks (approximately 8:15 Friday morning),
Your beard is pretty amazing. It's the perfect blend of bushy and scratchy. Just a little ginger mixed in with the brown. Sure, you're a bigger guy but you look like you could be one of those sweet, teddy bear types.  And what's this? You ordered Earl Grey tea? My suspicions have been confirmed; a sensitive soul.  But the head tattoo is kind of killing it.

Dear Library Friends,
I'm really looking forward to October. Let's get on this and bring lots of wine. And we can drunk dial the girls who aren't there. And coo at babies through the phone.

Dear Really Old Ex-Boyfriend,
Might as well be straight and tell you that I know you're reading this blog. Pretty sure you search for it in Google every day. I'm flattered and I think it's sweet that you like to keep up with what's going on in my life. I hope married life is treating you well and don't worry, my heart healed a long time ago. You should say hello; leave a comment, send an email. I didn't bite playfully when we were together and well, you never got to know that part of me. So I can assure you I won't bite now. It would be nice to hear your adventures and find out what you think about this space, especially since you've read the words written about our experience.

Dear Men on Twitter,
Seriously, why do you think it's extremely appropriate to ask women for naked pictures? I guess it's the librarian fantasy.  But come on, you've got to be pretty special to see this librarian outside of the stacks.

Dear Liars,
There is no need to spin tales. I don't buy your fake war stories, I don't buy your thinly veiled attempts at getting me to waive your fines, I don't buy that you really are interested in more when you only text me after midnight. Just be honest, you'll get a whole lot farther with this girl. Trust me on this.

Dear Not-so Old Ex-Boyfriend,
Let me be clear, nothing about you shocks me anymore. But did you really forget that I turned 30 this week? Do you really not care that much about a person you have said you loved, even post-break up? Did you really forget that there would have been anniversary celebrated this week? The memories of our first week's together just vanished? I just don't understand and I've stopped trying too. But if you really did wipe all memory away from your heart, you should write a book. It would be a best-seller in a minute and your financial worries solved.

Dear Singer-Songer Writer Matt Nathanson,
I don't think I've had a musical crush this strong since John Mayer. I'm missing your concert in NYC, I'm missing it in PGH. Just keep singing adorably super sweet and sad songs. I'll keep loving your beard and your voice.

Dear Old Friends,
I'm still a little sorry we don't talk anymore. But I still love you and maybe one day our lives will be similar again. Friendships change through the years and I was moved to tears a few times this week by love. I wish you could have been there for me during the rough patches but I probably should have just said something instead of ignoring the problem and distancing myself. Maybe our 30s will change us again.

Dear Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte,
You, dear, are a game changer.

Love Always,

Shannon, aka BrassyLibrarian


List # 100: Milestones

When I wake up on September 28, I will have turned 30.  I may not have the life the 10 year-old me thought I'd have (Married to Joey McIntyre, living in Beverly Hills, and being a teacher who also rescues whales).  Nor do I have the life I imagined at 20 (Married to John Mayer, getting paid to write short stories, living the bohemian lifestyle in a Mediterranean town). And I don't even have the life I envisioned just one year ago (New apartment with the boyfriend, perhaps an address in a different city, traveling to other countries).

But I do have this life: kick-ass librarian, finally loving her hometown, building a reputation, smiling, writing, friendships, exploring, traveling, knowing my inner strength and kicking the sh*t out of life. Hell, John Mayer is still single. So you know, I still have a chance with that.

Many people tell you that "30 is the new 20" and how much better their 30s are than anything that came before.  I'm not sold yet. On my worst days it's hard to see how my single, struggling world can compete against those of you who are settled down, house-owning, child-bearing, etc. But I'm a lot more confidant than I was even just three months ago. Because the grass is always greener on the other side. And chances are if I had what the 29-year old me, my birthday would be a couple of cupcakes that I wouldn't eat and a gift someone didn't even wrap.  Instead, the past two weeks have been filled with night's out, plenty of drinks, dinner, dates, family and friendship.

So tonight's list are just some reminders that are going to help make 30 and beyond memorable.

What do I strive for?

1.  Inner peace. Understanding that whatever fates are thrown my way that I can handle it.  I want this to be sustaining, not fleeting.  And a peace I can share with others.
2.  A return trip to Europe.  I read an article in the Herald Tribune when I lived in Greece that talked about how a man didn't want to visit the Acropolis until he could take his significant other. I made a similar promise to myself when I left. But now, I'm revoking it. I'd like to see my Greek roots again, walk the streets of Paris with Hemingway and Hadley, and ride a bike in Denmark. If I wait around for someone to share it with, I may miss it all completely.
3.  Another degree.  I haven't quite figured out which one, where and why. And that's okay. I'm already enjoying the fun of exploring. Will I try for my MFA, prove naysayers wrong and write a book ? Will I go back for my PhD and find myself in academia in an unlikely way.  Oh, I love school.
4.  Become fitter.  I'm a fan of my body. I talk about my curves a lot. But I want to charge my way into the next decade feeling healthier.  First step? Well, I just signed up to walk a half-marathon in 3.5 hours.
5.  Be a better friend. Write letters once again. Buy those gifts I was meaning to send. Call more often, not text.  Be the shoulder to cry on after I've cried on so many. Throw elbows on the dance floor. Whatever it takes.
6. Kick the Sh*t out of Life.  Because living beyond 30 isn't a guarantee for any of us. Because I want to smile and laugh every day and none of this is a dress rehearsal.

Alright, 30.  Here we go: low-Fat, whole wheat, green-tea. Bring on what you've got.

And readers? Why IS 30 the new 20? Let's discuss.


List #99: Start Wrapping

Birthdays were never a huge deal in my family.  No one woke us early the morning singing "Happy Birthday" and unless you were little and having a party, the house wasn't decked out in balloons & streamers just for you. I believe birthdays should include one present from the people you love and a few cards.  And my Dad (who did most of the cooking growing up) would make whatever dinner you'd request.  Growing older, maybe a dinner out with friends or significant other.

But that doesn't mean I can't make up lists of fantasy birthday gifts, right?

West Wing, the complete collection.  It's on sale at Amazon and though I own Season 2 and 3, owning ALL of them would be my dream.  I've often said that The West Wing is like porn for gals like me.  Josh Lyman is my ultimate dream man, with Sam Seaborn coming in a close second. Even the grumbly Toby makes me happy and who doesn't want a President Bartlet. Weirdly geeky confession? I actually follow some "characters" of The West Wing on Twitter. A strange twist in fanfiction, it's often entertaining.
Dewey Decimal earrings.  I was going to post a photo of a card catalog here. But then I remembered that I don't actually want anyone to buy one for me. I have nowhere to store a relic of the library right now and really, I want it to be a purchase I can say I made for myself.  But now these little earrings? Yes please. I think there is a matching necklace. And I can't promise myself that my credit card won't be breaking out for these soon anyway.

I'll also accept gift cards, tea, purses, shoes, trips, etc.  Things I don't want: milk, cottage cheese, video games or DVDs and probably, books. 

So readers, what do you want for your birthday?


List # 98: Through the Ages

If you're a regular reader of blogs you are probably familiar with the meme that I'm taking on today. Since this is THE WEEK I'll be turning 30 that will probably be the theme in my posts for the next few days. People keep asking me what I'm doing for my birthday, or how I'm feeling, and the answers are pretty simple. I don't have any immediate plans for my 30th birthday. It's on a Wednesday, I have lunch plans with my coworkers and plans to eat pie in the evening. I'm meeting some new friends on Friday night and some old friends and I are road tripping it to WV next month.

There won't be any flowers sent to my office, no gifts to unwrap when I wake up, no surprises from someone who cares enough to plan surprises. And right now, I'm okay with this. My brain is just telling me it's another birthday and my heart is telling me that reaching another decade doesn't mean I have to freak out.  We'll see if that holds up.

But for today, a recap of 30 years:

30 years ago: I was born to my parents who have now been married for 31 years. I was the first grand-baby on my father's side of the family and my parent's first child. Our family is large; I have over 40 first-cousins. I cried and babbled a lot. In some respects not much has changed in 30 years.

20 years ago: I was a Catholic school girl in the fifth grade. My favorite things to do were to play Barbies and read. And my best friend and I would play house every weekend and pretend that we were poor and had to scavenge her backyard for food to feed our baby dolls. I took ballet lessons and my littlest brother wasn't even one.

15 years ago: I was a sophomore in high school. I'd been kissed but wouldn't have sex for another five years. And though I was crushing hard, I had never had a serious boyfriend and really wouldn't until my final years of college. I was an above average student and had yet to hit the point in high school where I was desperate to leave and ready for new friends.

10 years ago: 20 years old, a college junior. 9/11 and the world was different. AOL instant messenger was an integral part of my day, I was my sorority's VP and I loved living in a large, turn-of-the-century barnhouse with my friends. I made out a lot.

5 years ago: 25 and I was back from living in Greece. I was a teacher and already realizing it wasn't quite for me. I would be quitting at 26.  I was trying on a person who was too boring for my taste. I'd travel to Texas, support friends through break-ups and celebrate friends with engagements. And honestly felt that my real person was waiting just around the bend.

3 years ago: 27 and I had just met the man who I thought was going to be the love of my life. By October he would be telling me he loved me. We were getting ready to elect a President we believed was going to change the world. I had been rejected and accepted into graduate school. And for the first time in my adult life, I was excited and happy to be living in Pittsburgh.

1 year ago: 29 and I was just about to start applying for a new job that I would earn and love. Graduate school had changed my life and I met friends who "saved" my life. The man I thought was going to be the love of my life was sleeping next to me every night. I loved him with all of my heart, even if we were poor and stressed and we weren't having much sex. I remember my birthday being sweet but the relationship would end in just 4 months and the rest of 29 would be nothing like I pictured.

Today: I'm going to be 30. And for the first time in my life I would agree that the adjective jaded describes me. I go to work every day loving my job and my wardrobe has dramatically improved. I'm not afraid to wear red lipstick but I can be very afraid of what lies ahead. I've had a rotating list of men who want to spend time with me, but sometimes it's just boring. I try not to feel lost and am thankful for a strong (though sometimes annoying) family and wonderful friends with more patience and heart that I even knew existed.

Tomorrow: I hope to move onward and upward. I want to write and travel more. I want to embrace new things and keep meeting new friends. I might be scared, but I have faith that everything will settle and my place will be found. I desperately want to believe that someone is looking for me too, but am realizing that life doesn't have that ended for everyone. And I'm going to buy my own card catalog one day.

So, wise readers. Do you have any advice for a girl in my shoes as she tries to hit her 30s running?


Note: A Little like that Lyrics

There is a Matt Nathanson lryic that resonates with me deep inside my heart. Just the first few chords of this song makes me want to cry because I perpetually feel like I'm the one that got away. Not just for one man, but for a few. The girl they look back on and realize that Damn. They had it good with me. And I'm proud of this. Because in some strange way it reminds me that I was important in their life but I was just a too bit too much, or they were just a smidge not enough, and that's how our stories are written.

I can't change the past and I don't think I'd want to be their girl at this particular time in the future anyway.

But I do want to be: 

"You sounded so good on the phone
all moved up and all moved on."

And so I strive everyday to be the girl who sounds so good on the phone. No reason why that girl can't be me. 


List #97: Embarassments

I can talk a good game. I really do think that a lot of my posts on here have been positive and upbeat.  I'm not telling you in the ins and outs of my single life in a way that's damaging to others nor to my own reputation.  Which I know makes me sound like a "bad" girl and I can assure you I'm not.  But for today, at this moment on a morning in which I decided to wear flats and and am now feeling frumpy not sexy, I'm admitting  that I am still not put together.

I read this quote this morning, by author Chrstine Arylo:
The reality was that, although I accepted the wake-up call, I was still a broken bird with twisted wings and a sad, sad heart.

And that's exactly how I feel.  I'm the female version of Ted Mosby who proclaimed that he believes "a little less, and a little less, and a little less" each day. I very much want to experience the butterflies of love over again, but I don't want to be a desperate woman.  And like Ted and Christine I want to believe that my journey will find me with a partner, but this isn't a CBS sitcom nor is it a self-help book written with hindsight.

And I'm still doing embarassing things every day:
  • I read books with titles such as Choosing Me Before We: Every Women's Guide to Life and Love. And then get mad when even these seem to cheery and lucky.
  • I STILL let favorite pieces of jewelry sit at the bottom of the box because I can't be trusted to look at a reminder on my wrist every day.
  • I haven't claimed a dresser that is rightfully mine (let alone a couch) because the money and the hassle isn't worth the afternoon of anguish or annoyance.
  • I am a little jealous of those friends and family who have husbands and boyfriends to plan extravagent dinners, gifts and parties for 30th birthday. (Though, more grateful to have wonderful friends who taking me away in October).
  • And I still think about him once a day. Not with tears, or an overwhelming sense of sadness, but with the understanding that I lost a person in my life forever. It's a little like death; a sadness that you can't talk about the mundane anymore, a bit of relief that suffering is over and a whole bunch of memories that you don't know what to do with anymore.
So readers, share some embarassing things this morning.  What do you hate admitting to yourself? We're all in this together.


List #96: Songs of the Decade (part 2)

Age: 21
Year: 2002
Location: Allegheny College, Junior/Senior Year, The Barn, Assorted bars in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh

My twenty-first birthday fell on a night of a major autumn event at my college.  AND a new bar opened in our very tiny town. AND I was about one of the last 6 people in my senior class to turn 21.  When I say everyone was out at the bar that night, I mean everyone. Plus, since I went to a super small school everyone knew each other (for better or for worse) where it was really cheap to drink, so my birthday drinks were plenitful.  There was video footage of this night but thankfully YouTube wasn't around back then and I was saved *most* of the embarassment. So what was I jamming out to when I was Vice-President of my sorority and living in the best house on campus?

Hot in Herre, Nelly
To. This. Day. I want to have a dance party when I hear it. It is a song that epitomizes college, sorority formals and summer clubs in Pittsburgh.  Is this an appropriate song for weddings? If not, I still want it played at mine. So take note future husband, we're gonna get so hot that we're gonna want to take our clothes off.

Girlfriend, Nsync featuring Nelly
Apparently Nelly was a big player in my version of 2002.  But honestly, *Nysnc was an even bigger player.  This girl has gone to 2 *Nysnc concerts and crushed on JC Chasez long before Justin Timberlake was the man he is today. (You can argue that JT was always the hot one. But I'll refer you to the denim suit he wore with Britney and then show you an SNL skit of him today. I'll win). And in 2002, I still just wanted to be your girlfriend.

Return of the Mac, Mark Morrison
I have no idea what this is talking about. I have even less of an idea of why it was a hit. And it certainly wasn't released in 2002. But a sorority sister and I would request it at every formal event and the DJ always played it. It's a terrible song, but when you're tipsy on whiskey sours and in formal attire, it makes perfect sense. For the record, I refused to even listen to this song before I added it to the list.

Any other 2002 shout-outs? Leave them in the comments. And tell us, what you were listening to when you turned 21.


Letter #19: My Type of Camping

Dear PodCamp Pittsburgh,

All day I've been debating on the merits of writing a letter versus a list about you.  But really, I have nothing but gratitude for you and giving me one of the best Pittsburgh weekends of 2011. So a thank you letter is only appropriate.

You see, I get nervous in new situations.  Sure I work with the public every day and hell, I even moved to another continent without a real plan but I don't actually always feel confident when it comes to new things in my own hometown.  There were going to be so many people I admire; some of the best bloggers around. Seriously, what does a girl like me think she is even going to talk about?

But then I went to Friday's Meet 'n Greet and just fell in love. It's kind of hard not to when upon arrival someone calls out your Twitter handle and says that he was super excited to meet you.  And meet I did. In fact, Friday's event was pretty much a cute-fest of Pittsburgh's most creative. Presentations by my favorite Pittsburgh blogger. New works to discover. And connections put together.

I walked away from PodCamp Pittsburgh feeling as if I wasn't crazy for wanting to get my thoughts out in the open. I realized my Why was because writing has always been a part of me. I don't keep a blog because I want to shock. It's not about making money. It's just about me.

I write because it helps heal my thoughts and it makes me laugh, a lot. Once, soon after I graduated from college, a few people told me that I should give up my desire to write. That maybe an MFA program wasn't for me, that perhaps I should just stick to reading books.  And despite that be being extremely rude and despite the fact that many, amazing and best-selling authors don't have MFAs (and gasp! some aren't even James Patterson) I believed it for a very long time.  I barely wrote, had a hard time filling journals and felt that no one should ever read what I put on paper again.

Even though the events that founded this blog were sad ones, and even in the middle of change and upheaval, I'm at one of my happiest periods of my life right now. Writing has become a part of me again. And I'll be bold and say that I'm willing to bet that more people read my blog than read their critical analysis, essays and books on a daily basis. So arguably I win after all.

I would have never gone to PodCamp (even if I wasn't working) two years ago.  I was too afraid to take risks and put myself out there. Just like I was too afraid to write two, three, five years ago. But times change, social media has given us a voice and I'm proud of what I put out there.

So, PodCamp Pittsburgh, thanks for the knowledge, entertainment and drinks. Thank you to all of the coordinators, volunteers and sponsors for putting together such a unique weekend in our city. Thanks for introducing me to too many people to write in one post. Thanks for expanding my horizons and giving inspiration in addition to validation. Thank you for having Zombies that don't actually chase people (seriously, I walked by them at lunch scared out of my wits and worried they'd follow me around). I'll be wearing my T-shirt and giving you lots of free press from here until next year.

And really, next year, you might just need a librarian to give a presentation. We're kind of awesome with searching and the Internet and more. You never know...

With love,



List #95: Songs of the Decade (part 1)

Whittling down your last few days as a 20-something makes you think. But I'm determined to embrace this milestone age with a positive and grateful attitude. So, inspired by Pandora, I'm compiling a list of the top songs that remind me of years 20-29.  They'll be posted sometime between now and 9/28.

First up?

Age: 20
Year: 2001
Location: Allegheny College, Junior Year, The Barn, Pittsburgh, Greece

Hero, Enrique Iglesias 
September 2001, ten years ago we can all remember what happened. And this song, with a few others, played on a continuous loop on MTV. For a few weeks at the beginning of my junior year I couldn't sleep without the television on. And quite honestly, I think most of America felt the same way.

Jumpin', Jumpin', Destiny's Child
Pretty sure this song didn't come out when I was 20. But I was on dance team in college and we did do a dance to this junior year. We performed at basketball games. And there was one student, notorious on campus, who would come to the basketball games. Then waited until our performance was about to start, and  open the Wall Street Journal to read during halftime. Girls, dancing, in skimpy clothing < Wall Street Journal for one basketball fan.

3 x 5, John Mayer
I fell in love with John Mayer my sophomore year of college and he became the musical force behind my Napster downloads and Winamp playlist from that point forward. I first went to Greece just after my junior year ended, just 20 years old, and I played this song oh, so much. On a portable CD player with very large headphones. Of course this was before he became the manwhore he is today and I thought him of most dreamy boyfriend material.

I have no idea when this blog became so much about music. But since this blog is public, and so many people I know do read it, I can't always say everything I might. For fear of being judged or whatever it is people do when friends write blogs. But I also know that what better way to leave a decade behind than to celebrate the best of it and move on. So dear, readers? What was a song that cemented itself to your year 20?

List #94: Giving it Time

If you've been reading from the beginning you'll remember that this blog started all because I came home from my first day of work in 2011 to be told that the person I loved just "couldn't do it anymore." And then it was a really hard winter, a really sad spring and a summer that showed some promise. And now it's autumn and I'm fulfilling a promise to myself.

Back around March, maybe, I was having a heart-to-heart with a friend, who at times took my break-up a little harder than me. She desperately thought by the time St. Patrick's Day rolled around the ex and I would be back together. Then, she thought for certain by the time the rain stopped in April. She was angry and in disbelief and felt cheated. And well, of course I agreed. But I knew even if he missed me, he was too proud to admit a mistake. I knew that decision was a sticking one.  And I told her that come autumn, I would have him packed away as best as I could to move on. I would have gone through denial, depression, repair and rebirth.

So it's September and 20 days before my 30th birthday. It's a time of year that I fall deeply in love with every calendar season. And have I done it? Well, I've done it the best that I can without finding someone new who has taken the place. 

I have:
  • Listened to the entirety of Graceland. Reclaimed it as the album I loved before road trips to small Ohio towns, Kentucky and everywhere in between.
  • Been on dates.  And even the worst wasn't that bad.
  • Deleted pictures on Facebook and locked them in a vault deep inside my hard drive. Even my favorite. Many thanks to Mark Zuckerberg for making this task a bit easier.
  • Survived surgery and pain meds without any embarrassing phone calls. Thank goodness for friends.
  • May (or may not) have even had sex. Have to keep the world guessing.
  • Traveled to the other coast and enjoyed a vacation all to myself. With two of my nearest and dearest friends, paying only for one. And damn, did it feel good.
  • Watched a How I Met Your Mother Marathon. Realized it's okay to be more like Ted than I'd care to admit, but have a streak of Robin but want a relationship like Lily and Marshall.
  • Been appreciated for my skills as a professional and as a woman. It never gets old meeting someone who wants to acknowledge your potential.
And is that it? Of course not. There is more to this list. Just like there is more to really moving on. And the jade in this girl probably won't go away until I really do meet the guy who wants to stick around for a bit. But I'll take the tiny hole over the gaping crevasse any day. I welcome autumn and new memories. 

I win.

So readers, what are making room for this autumn? Are you like me and welcome this season with open arms and hope? What have you done lately?


Note: Labor Day

This is not a cry to be political and poke people into discussing unions in America. It's just a reminder that today is Labor Day. And that we all work hard. It's a reminder that despite the varied beliefs about unions in the modern day USA, life would be a lot of worse for all of us it wasn't for those brave people who formed unions years ago.