List #131: Never Trust Anyone Who Doesn't Watch Television

We're going to reach that casual part of the relationship, when dates together mean less time out in public and more time spent in your living room. And this is going to be okay. Our nights preferred to be spent with tea or wine and a book or let's face it, our favorite television shows. Even before we met each other.

So when we're sitting on the couch, sharing pizza or Chinese take-out or perhaps even my favorite chili, you'll recognize that I'm a little more Leslie Knope than I care to admit. My type-A personality is "just enough of a challenge," you'll say. And you understand that the reason why I cheer for Robin Scherbatsky is because I've got my own walls built. "Those old things," you'll say as you tap the bottom of my foot, perhaps not forgetting the the tiniest brush of touch can cause me to go into a fit of tickles.

We'll joke with each other about TV crushes. April, Ben, Joan, Josh. And not really care how geeky we sound.

And as the nights move on and morning starts to appear through the not-quite-dark-enough curtains in your bedroom, we'll move closer together. Finding spots in each other's nooks. Poking fun of the shows we don't share. And breathing in small sighs of happiness.


List #130: Morning Songs

When I finally stopped hitting the snooze button this morning and got out of bed, all I could think about was how soon I could return to it. I don't even like my current bed and am desperately waiting for upgrade with my new location this spring. But it doesn't matter how uncomfortable your bed is, leaving the blankets and the warmth is always a rough thing to do. But in reality, I know I won't nap this evening. My arrival home from work just past the appropriate napping time. So lazing away in bed for a few extra minutes is about as good as it's going to get until bedtime comes again.

And now that I'm in throwing myself into my morning routine, my thoughts keep wandering back to bed and the perfect songs for perfect morning lie-ins.

Single Girls ~ Laura Jansen
For those mornings when it feels both refreshing and a struggle to face the day alone again. Perhaps you don't even miss a certain someone, it's just daunting to think about putting on high heels and a smile to pay the bills and watch everyone else go on fancy vacations.

Here Comes the Sun ~ George Harrison
Appropriate to play just as spring is breaking through the icy shield of winter. When you can feel your world getting brighter and the possibilities of a new, less dark season are happening at sunrise. But also equally appropriate to play in the dark days of winter when salt is still caked on your shoes and you're worried about the next big snow storm. Literally and figuratively. No bed partner needed either. You can do this.

The Righteous Path ~ Drive-By Truckers
For those mornings when the day is already stacked up, odds not in your favor, before you're even out of the shower. But you know when you dry off you're still going to pick out a favorite outfit, make a mean pot of coffee and put a little badass into your day. 

Navy Taxi ~ Kate Nash
Rainy mornings. Perhaps hungover from a few extra post-happy hour drinks. You're not sure where you've left your umbrella. And you're not really sure what is going on with the guy you've been seeing. But you're trying, my goodness, you're trying to do the right thing and sort it all out. And you'd appreciate it if certain people kept their opinions to themselves and maybe you should just stay off of Facebook today to avoid reading those happy status updates from people you knew fifteen years ago.

So dear readers, what songs would you recommend for the morning? Share your favorites in the comments.


List #129: Helpful Hints, Warnings, & Other Misellanea

Wouldn't dating be a little easier if we could pass a suitor a note, early on in relationship (but not so early as to scare them or put added pressure on a potential new beginning) that kind of let them know what to look for, what you're good at and what you're always trying to improve?

  • Sometimes I get the hangries. It's when I'm angry because I'm hungry. This could happen when we're out all day and haven't stopped to eat or when I'm just a fool who bypassed breakfast and lunch. If you see the hangries creeping up, it's best to just put a greasy hamburger in front of me without even suggesting I eat (I'll probably just get angry at your for thinking that I'm hangry) and I would definitely warn against saying something negative about my outfit, my family or even the weather. I promise though, it will pass, as soon as I eat that hamburger. And maybe french fries.
  • I'm going to get really good at remembering your important dates. Birthday, job interview, your brother's wedding anniversary? Once they come up on the calendar, I'll remember them for as long as needed. I'm the type of girl who rarely even uses a planner because I can visualize the year sprawling out in my head. 
  • I exaggerate. I'll tell you that I have 39483 things to do when really the list probably hovers at about 50. I'll tell you that I'm starving when I could probably just use a snack. I'll say I'm freaking out when really I'm just curious. I like to think this trait is tied to my love of a good story, but I recognize it's not always useful in daily life. I want you to know I'm working on it and that I'm trying to trim back the fat to just get the meat of the story. 
  • I'd like you to ask me out. I'm a planner. Not because I'm so type-A that I can't go with the flow. When we're together, you'll soon learn than just about anything goes. But because my life is full and I try to balance work and love and play. And you asking for some of my time will just make me melt. 
  • You'll probably have to get used to me leaving things at your place. If things go well. I just have a tendency to leave piles of stuff. But I promise to make your bed and maybe even leave you a little surprise or two. 
  • I'm great at giving small presents on average days. Cookies, candy, tiny little tokens that remind me of an inside joke. They're yours.
There's probably a lot more, but I guess we should save some things for discovery. What would want to tell someone upfront? 


List #128: Daily Conversations

Last night a friend of mine sent me some text messages. She was a few martinis past happy hour and feeling the itch to text a man who doesn't deserve her attention. It's the curse of a single woman who can buy that extra drink at happy hour: to battle the drunk text, to ignore the man we don't want to ignore so hard. And all of this is certainly something I've done before and will more than likely do again. Because in all honesty? This is what I talk about most days:

And part of it, I hate so much. I hate that my single friends and I still worry about the men in our lives (or the lack of them).  Ryan Gosling probably shouldn't come up in conversations multiple times a week. 

But the other part, I really like. I'm not ready to trade these topics in for tips on potty training just yet. And really, what single woman doesn't like to talk about Ryan Gosling. Swoon.


List #127: Things on the Internet

This is what I like on the Internet lately:

I wish Pittsburgh Dad could be a guest storyteller at preschool storytime. This would probably be more enjoyable for the adults than the children.

I would really like to write for Hello Giggles. And if I can't write for them, I think my own friends and I should design our own site for fabulous 30-somethings.

Not only is Leslie Knope my favorite woman on television. 
I want to move to Pawnee and become the first librarian they actually all like. 

This is what I don't like on the Internet lately:
  • Anything having to do with Beyonce and Jay-Z's baby. Their behavior was disrespectful. It sets the wrong example and perpetuates the selfish thought of America. 
  • Anything having to do with Tim Tebow. He lost and I'm so happy. Football is game. Jesus is on no one's side. Anyway, the Steelers have Troy Polamalu and he's the nicest religious football player around and we didn't win either. 
  • Anything having to do with bodily fluids. I noticed too much sharing about child and dog poo on Facebook yesterday. Let's not let this continue further into 2012.
So dear readers, what has you occupied on the Internet? And what are you so desperately avoiding? I'm always looking for a distraction.


List #126: My Own Type of Woman

On this day, where the weather is about to turn from rain to snow. And the local weathermen seem so extremely pleased to smugly tell us that winter has arrived and will be dumping snow on the Pittsburgh streets tonight, this is what I'm thinking about.

I'm the 30-year old woman:
  • Has come to be cautious about every move. 
  • Often getting passed over for the other girl-next-door.
  • Who is leaving her baggage on the side of the road, one package at a time.
  • Is crushing on Mac Miller. You know, he's 19 and a rapper. And nothing like the guy I would have crushed on at 19. But he writes and sings this: 
And I'm a sucker for those who confess their love of Pittsburgh so proudly

  • Who is going to offer to do your dishes on a lazy Sunday morning and meant it. 
  • But won't overstep her boundaries and put them away until some things are established.
  • Has a deep love of Pittsburgh. But still kind of doesn't picture herself settling here.
  • Is 5'8'' and wears high heels more often than she wears flats.
  • Has married men hit on her.
  • But don't worry, is not the type of woman who would entertain their offers and allusions.
  • Is the unspoken back-up plan for men who like to flirt and make out.
  • Now gets comments when she isn't wearing her glasses.
  • Has stopped putting 2 spaces after a period when writing informally. But formally? Forget it.
  • Looks amazingly hot today. And is disappointed it's only for work.
  • Wants a nice, romantic dinner.
  • Striving to be more comfortable with small public displays of affection.
  • Is very glad she has a tough pair of winter boots.
So dear readers, what makes you you at the moment? 


Guest Post #2: The Pondering Poet

This is Bri, the Poet over at A Poet's Ponderings. A professor, residing in Indianapolis, recently married.

Bri. Poet in the Heartland
Bri is one of the few bloggers I know personally. We met here:
Allegheny College. Gorgeous, right?
Graduates of the Class of 2003. Both English majors, both sorority members (different sororities though) but we actually weren't all that close. In a school with less than 2,000 students it's hard not to know everyone and we had common friends, but we ran in different circles. Though, truthfully, I always kind of wished we knew each other better back then. Another truth, the "pinning" ceremony that her future-husband performed was the best of our 4 years in college and as Allegheny prepares for a bicentennial, they should put it in the history books.

What else should you know about Bri?

Q1: What should readers know about you?
A: I love animals to point where it's a bit ridiculous. I have a dog, Kweli, a cat, Nimbus and two recently acquired Zebra Finches, Humphrey and Calliope. I can't watch those ASPCA commercials featuring Sarah McLaughlin without weeping. I break for geese, chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons. I spend a fortune on my pets, I donate to the World Wildlife Fund, The Humane Society and The ASPCA. Yeah, I may have a problem.

Q2: Why do you blog?
A: I blog because I am a writer. I've kept a journal for forever and I started writing letters, poems, and stories when I was in first grade. I just love writing and my blog is really an electronic journal of sorts, so that's why I like to keep up with it.

Q3: Can you recommend a great collection of poetry to readers?
A: My favorite poet of all time is Elizabeth Bishop. I admire her greatly and her poetry is the reason I write. Her meticulous attention to detail, her observers eye, her subjects, her struggles and her triumphs are truly remarkable. I'm going to pull a professor's trick and just recommend a few poems instead of an entire book. This is mostly because when I was a student, I found entire poetry collections a bit intimidating. The poems I would recommend are "Sestina," "The Moose," "The Fish," "Brazil," "In the Waiting Room," "One Art," "Sandpiper," and "At the Fishouses."

And so what better letter to write, from a poet who loves to teach and loves to learn, than a letter to her own college:

To My Community College:

If you had asked me ten years ago as a graduating senior from a private liberal arts college what I knew about community colleges, I would have said absolutely nothing. However, this would not have been a true answer because I knew one thing about community colleges: I knew they were looked down upon. How did I know this? Because occasionally when I would tell people unfamiliar with Allegheny College where I went to school they would pause and then say, "Oh," you go to CCAC." CCAC stands for Community College of Allegheny County. The first few times this happened, I corrected the questioner but didn't think much of it. I didn't know anything about CCAC and I'm not a native of Pennsylvania, so whatever. They were confusing one school for another. Who cares, right? I was quickly set straight when the same mistake was made in the presence of a friend of mine from Pittsburgh. "No, no, no," she interjected quickly, "we go to Allegheny College not CCAC. That's a community college." Then she laughed and made a face, and I started to get the picture.

Flash forward four years and I'm graduating from my small liberal arts college to head to the great state of Texas for graduate school. It is while I am sweating away in this strange state, studying Heidegger and Hegel and wondering if I'm smart enough for grad school, that I learn I love teaching. I teach several sections of freshman composition and I am hooked. My students are young, they are diverse, they are hilarious and they are frustrating. It is hard work but I feel I've hit my stride. As I finish my MA,  and prepare to head back east, I start to think about teaching jobs.

I arrive back in Pennsylvania in December in the middle of a blizzard, which is fitting. I enroll in a low-residency MFA program, I get back together with my now husband, and I realize that I'm going to end up moving out to Indianapolis. I start looking for adjunct teaching jobs at colleges in Indy and come across a posting for an adjunct English instructor at a community college. I apply Thursday, I am contacted the following Thursday and I am told I need to be in Indy the following Monday. I pack up my Nissan Sentra and once again, drive west.

I arrived at my community college close to five years ago and I'm preparing to start my eighth semester as a full time faculty member. I've learned a lot in my time teaching at this college, but the most important thing I've learned is that community colleges do not deserve to be looked down upon. They are doing hard, important and necessary work in our communities and they should be congratulated and celebrated for that work. Community colleges help people of all ages find their educational path. Sometimes these people are eighteen year old students who are not quite ready to leave home. Sometimes these people are thirty year old men and women who are taking on a second career or making a career change. Sometimes, and more often than not with the present economy, these people are making their way back from a job loss.

My students struggle. They have obstacles that I could not even begin to imagine when I was in college. They are single parents, they are first generation college students, they are victims of domestic violence, they are victims of childhood abuse, they are recovering addicts, they have been incarcerated, they have been homeless and/or jobless and they do not know what it is to be a student.

But they want to learn and I want to teach them.

So to my community college, thank you for taking a sheltered and naive twenty-three year old girl and showing her that she was wrong. That education is not only found in brick buildings covered in ivy and that students are not all eighteen years old with new laptops and cell phones. Education is diversity. You taught me that, and for that lesson, I am grateful.



Letter #31: Things I Want You to Know, Part 6

Dear High Heels,
When exactly, did we begin our affair? As a tall girl, on her feet a good portion of the day, my loyalty to flats was thick. But somewhere along the way you were slipped onto my foot and I shake you off. I love the way you click on library linoleum. I love how you look with pencil skirts. I hope we can keep up this relationship for a longtime to come.

Dear Pittsburgh,
I'm sorry the Steelers lost. I'm sad the Penguins aren't looking so great. And I'm even a little disappointed that Pitt Basketball isn't quite on track either. This seems to the season of injuries and defeat. But in the end, it's just a game. Let's not let it bring us down too far. We all still like each other and we all still want to have fun.

Dear Mornings,
You are best when there is no alarm to be set. Even better when there is no alarm to be set and a comfortable person next sleeping beside. But perhaps even better when the sleeping person in bed puts grabs you closer and pulls an arm over you when the alarm does finally wake.

Dear Pit in My Stomach,
Let's just come to an agreement. I've come to terms that you probably aren't going away. I'm too nervous when it comes to liking. I get too worried at the new. If I try to focus on what is said and done, and take things for face value and trust, then perhaps maybe you can not make me so crazy. You can stick around, just do it a bit more quietly for the time being. I'll do my best if you can promise me the same.

Dear Man at Starbucks (last seen 2011),
I saw another guy with a head tattoo yesterday. Actually, he had multiple tattoos. And they were brightly colored. I couldn't help but think of you and wonder where you've been.


List #124: A Few Tunes I Want You to Hear

Everyone has a relationship with music. Sometimes the relationship is a strong one and includes a myriad of concerts. Sometimes it's a fickle one and usually includes the latest top pop artist. We're all just a little different and like all relationships, the one with the music in our lives usually evolves over time. Hopefully. Because no one wants to be person who still loves Bobby McFerrin with their fierce passion of 1988 just as no one really wants to be the person who marries their grade school sweetheart.

My own relationship with music is a loyal one. There are certain bands, actually more like certain songs, that are staples in my life. And probably, without fairness, measures of how I can best gauge a personal relationship. If you're dating me, there are certain quirks you'll have to endure and your reactions to these particular quirks are crucial. 

So, men of my life, take note:

The Ones that are Sentimental
This Year, The Mountain Goats
Chances are that I going to play this song for you at least once without telling you why. And then I'll probably play it again and give you some glimmers into my past life. I'll tell you about how I was once a teacher, how my boss was a bully, and how I came home from work crying every day. I will probably punch my fist in the air when I listen to this song. Out of triumph, not an ode to the Breakfast Club. And though I don't expect you to love it like I do, or have a little man crush on Josh Darnielle, I will want you to listen. I want you to laugh and be intrigued by my past, but not care to know too much about it. And I want you to learn the lyrics and scream them at the top of your lungs with me when any year becomes too much to bear. Even better if you have your own storied relationship with this song and share.

The Ones that Make Me Dance
Animals, Miike Snow and Sexy Back, Justin Timberlake
I'm 30. So consequently most of the dancing I'm doing is in my bedroom. Or at a wedding. And these songs are two of my top choices. Play Animal for me in the morning, after tea, as I get ready for the day? You'll get the chance to see me boogie down. I won't expect you to join in, but I want you to laugh with me as I show off my skills. And as for Mr. Timberlake? If we're ever at some fancy function and there is a dance floor, you can better believe this song will be played (I think it's joined the ranks of Shout! at weddings these days). And this time, I'll may want you to come dance with me. Or, probably more accurately,let me go crazy with old girlfriends as we sing the lyrics and remember that Justin Timberlake is dangerously close to our own age. We'll then share our own memories attached the song and young, foolish, drunken nights. And we'll discover more dancing songs along the way.

The Ones that are Wacky for Nostalgia
Rumpshaker, Wrecxx-N-Effect
Let me clarify that this doesn't necessarily have to be Rumpshaker. Though is a fine piece of work from the early '90s and reminds me of grade school English classes just when the boys were starting to act wacky from puberty but before we all knew what it really meant. What I mean is that when I start playing random videos from the past, you don't roll your eyes in disgust or find it ironic. Instead you recognize that neither of us was cool when growing up and that sometimes, it's fun to have a blast from the past. It will be a bridge for me to tell you about diagramming in the 5th grade and about my first crush. And you'll share stories about stealing your first cigarette and smoking it behind the gym. The shared culture of our youthful America bringing us together in the present.

So dear readers, what is your own relationship with music? Do you have certain songs that the special someone in your life must embrace, or at least tolerate? 

Letter #30: Anniversaries

Today is my blog anniversary! Yay!

On January 4, 2011 I started this blog because I felt lonely and lost. Through 190 posts in the past year, it's been quite a ride. And what started as a small way for me to gain control of my feelings during a very dark winter turned into a very big source of creativity. 

And what better way to mark the occasion than a few letters.

Dear Blog,
Remember a year ago when I started you through tears and insomnia, late at night, solo in bed? I was scared and you were a blank slate. For awhile there I felt as if you were the only sane and consistent then i could hold on to and call my own. You were, quite simply, a chance for me tell my story and not feel inhibited. Thank you for helping me rediscover my love of writing. Thank you for introducing me to knew friends. Thank you for helping me not only on, but above. Looking forward to year two.

Dear Readers,
Some of you have been here from the beginning. Reaching this page through Facebook links or Twitter feeds. I still have every messages that so many of you sent. Perhaps those were just little notes to you, but hearing your faith in me fueled my strength. And some of you, readers, are new. Many I've never met but come here regularly to read to comment to connect. And I want to be friend with all of you.

Dear Friends,
Without you, I wouldn't have survived. I'm always going to be the friend who asks silly questions over brunch and I love that you love that about me. Thank you for letting me cry, but more importantly, thank you for laughing with me. Love, just lots and lots of love.

Dear New Friends,
There is no way that I would have ever imagined meeting new people through this blog and social media sites. But I have and continue to and it's been entirely so much fun. Perhaps I tweet too much, or maybe I overshare here, but at least I know I have company. And have found more people who love to create and connect.

Dear Men of 2011,
I don't think any of you read this blog, so I am comfortable saying things. You gave me flirtation in the middle of the work day, reasons to look extra special in the middle of the week, you let me create rules, you asked me out, you were a mess, you were boring, you stared at my chest, you told me jokes, you listened to my stories, you brought lively sex back into my life, you gave me a tinge of hope. And all of that? Helped. A lot.

Dear Me,
I hope you always feel bubbly when you recognize how happy you are. 

So thanks, dear readers, for a year of blogging. A year can make a whole lot of a difference and I can't wait to see where the next one takes us.


List #123: Role Models for the Bookish Girl

When I sat down to write my first blog post of the new year, I really thought I would be writing a letter to my hopes for 2012. But I don't make resolutions (just some goals I want to attain) and I'm trying to not put any expectations on the next 365 days.

Instead, I keep coming back to how I want to be in this new year. There is only so much control we can have over the events in our life, but we can certainly control our reactions, our emotions, and our interactions. So I pledge to be the best I can be in 2012 and am taking some inspiration from some of my favorite literary ladies.

Bravery from Katniss. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Her reality is anything but bright, her future grim. But she is fueled by love of those dearest to her. She has pride in her roots. And the guts to fight for her life, even when the odds are definitely not in her favor. In my new year, I want to be brave on my own when the darkest moments settle. Because some obstacles are impossible to avoid, but that doesn't mean a victory can't be won.

Humility from Elizabeth. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I've always identified with Elizabeth Bennett. A wacky, not-rich family. Prideful, smart-witted, unpretentious. The one who will take care of sick family.  And I always felt that I knew how hard it was for Elizabeth to wrestle with her feelings towards Mr. Darcy. To admit that she was wrong, her family had made a foolish mistake, and that he really is a nicer guy than she originally gave him credit. In my new year, I want to be able to admit my mistakes better. To open up to new people. And if I just happen to meet my own Darcy along the way, even better. 

Curiosity from Calpurnia. The Adventures of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly
Calpurnia is a girl of science but torn between what she wants to achieve and what is expected. She'd rather explore nature than sit and perfect needlepoint. And so much of this has never been me. I like nature when I can sit in or talk a walk. But this year, I'd like that to change. I won't be backpacking hte Appalachian Trail anytime soon, but I'd like to be able to identify a few more trees, spy on a few more birds and plant a few more flowers.  

Confidence from Scout Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
She's brash and bold for an elementary school student. Actually, she's pretty bold for a girl of any age. She fights boys. She conquers fears. She tells it like it is. And though I like to think I have a little bit of Scout inside me, I'd like to show it a bit more this year. I'm getting better and better through the years. But like Scout, I don't want to back down. 
Glamour from Fancy NancyFancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor
If you don't know any girls under the age of 7 then you may not be familiar with Fancy Nancy. But all you need to know about her is in her name. She's over-the-top, girly and fun. But also a compassionate and loyal friend. And in this year, I want to be the same. I want to continue loving dresses and skirts and evolving in my fashion. I want to make up silly words to describe my experiences and dream of all the things I might just be as I grow up.

So, dear readers, what qualities do you want to show this year? Are there any role-models in your favorite fiction? Please share in the comments!