List #162: My Love Affair with the Olympics, Part 1

I'm not an athletic girl. The rest of my family can all claim basketball and football accomplishments and had trophies lining the den growing up. But those were not my genes. I was given other talents and never minded one bit that my athletic career was over after a 2 year run of playing basketball in middle school.

But boy, do I love the Olympics.

I have fond memories of watching them growing up. Something to look forward to every four years, it would give excitement to summer nights. We didn't have cable for much of the parts of childhood that I remember, and I often missed some of the coolest shows, but I never had to worry that I would miss the Olympics.  I have vague memories of the competition before professionals were allowed to participate. And I always thought how wonderful it would be to swing my body around on the gymnastic bars.

But really, my love affair started to bloom in 1996. Atlanta was hosting the Olympics. And I was attending. Now, before you start to think that my family was one that had a lot of money and I was a privileged little girl, let me assure you I wasn't. When I said we didn't have cable for chunks of my childhood? It wasn't because my parents were worried that television was going to rot their children's brains. It was often because my parents knew they couldn't afford it.

We scrimped and saved for that vacation for years. From the moment the Olympic committee announced that an American city would be hosting the event until the day we left.  We didn't fly to the southern city, we drove two days in a van without air conditioning. My mom packed a cooler of sandwiches and drinks and cold salads and snacks so we wouldn't have to buy food on the road. And we stayed with my dad's best friend from college who then lived in the city's suburbs. I was 14, had just finished high school and liked my friends more than family like any normal teenager, but I put all of that aside to enjoy the best vacation my parents had ever dreamed of giving us.
That's 14 year-old me on the right. 

We saw Volleyball as a whole family and cheered with fans from the Netherlands. My Dad and his friend took my brothers to see Baseball. And then they took myself and my dad's friend's daughters to see Track & Field. We played in the water fountains in the Centennial Olympic Park. We saw free concerts at night and ate lunch in the CNN tower one hot afternoon. We visited Nike Town and I dreamed of taking the Coca-Cola tour (too busy, it might have been too expensive). We bonded with Pittsburgh bond of finding Steelers fans all over. And made friends with Mongolian wrestlers on the subway.
Volleyball, Atlanta 1996. I wish I could remember who is playing in these photos. 

And then, on one of our final nights in Atlanta, the adults took the subway into the center of the action. They went out to see a concert, and have some adult fun while the children were left behind to watch the primetime events live on television. And then, when the younger children had gone to bed, to pop in a rented copy of Braveheart. We fell asleep before the adults got home and woke up to devastating of a news: a bomb had gone off in Centennial Park.

My parents and their friends were in fact, on the last train out of the park before the bomb went off. They had been in the exact part of Centennial Park where the bomb went off. We all had been there multiple times all week.  But they missed the explosion by a few minutes. Already being shuttled out of the city and back home to their children as the bomb let loose, before two people died and over a hundred injured, before Richard Jewel became a target.

Looking back, I can appreciate the efforts the adults took to underplay the situation. I never felt scared. They never let us know just how close they came to being in danger. They never made us feel that we weren't safe. They were matter-of-fact about the incident over breakfast, let us watch the news. Then told us to get dressed; we had tickets to see basketball that day.

We waited in the pouring rain outside of the Georgia Dome for an hour while the bomb squads used dogs to sniff out bombs in the building. We were cold and hungry. And I remember my mom ordering us hot chocolate once we got inside to warm up. We had seats pretty high up, and of course we didn't watch the American team. But rhythmic gymnastics practice was going on at the same time and my parents let us sneak to the border to watch both.

In 1996 it was cool to like the Olympics. It was patriotic before patriotism was used as a political maneuver. I could wear red, white and blue as a teenager and not be considered a dork. I was introduced to collecting Olympic pins and my brothers got to wear things with Izzy on it.

That's my little brother winning the gold, me winning silver, and my mom winning bronze.

Really, what isn't to love when your family comes together for the trip of a lifetime. What isn't to love about sports becoming a community event and the citizens of countries celebrating together.

Nothing really.


List #161: Just A Little Crush

One of the best things to come out of this blog is the most fantastic people I have met in this city because of it. Writing here, and connecting through other local bloggers and tweeting random things in-between posts, has brought so many different connections in a city where I once thought I already knew everyone I was going to know. It's refreshing. It gives me hope that this in the the city that has known me for most of my entire life, there are still new friendships to be made between rivers.

Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting Rose from Bind & Create.  Though we've been emailing off and on for a few months, and are avid readers of the other's blog, we'd never gotten together. And though I admit I was fully nervous for this blogger date (She has a real MFA, something I lack and still kind of intimidates me) I knew that the conversation would flow.

And that it did. Leading eventually, to the topic of crushes. It's fun to have a crush. It's fun to daydream of the possibilities. To think about what you and the crush have in common. Exactly how they might kiss. And their favorite dinner food is and what type of music they'd pair with the meal.

But I don't think I really have a crush right now. I have remnants of crushes. And a few people I could crush on if the circumstances were right.

  • My Barista at Starbucks:  You've been making me coffee and tea for over a year now. Wearing your hair cut short and your beard trimmed shorter. Glasses and lips that remind me of person who reads. Like they keep moving, saying words silently under your breath, as you read to yourself in between breaks. You're a treat in the morning, but I hope you aren't my barista forever. 
  • The Cute Guy from Twitter who Doesn't Live in My State: I like your beard. I like your dog. And I like Instagram pictures of both. I just wish you lived in Pittsburgh. I think you'd like to get some coffee with me. And I think we'd fit well together reading books and watching HBO shows in my bed.
  • The Lawyer Who Was Riding the T with Me, that One Saturday, to the Baseball Game: You were chatting with your friend about a movie you wanted to see because you really liked the book! You didn't mention the title and though I was tempted to jump in and ask, after all I can always use my profession as an excuse, I didn't. Someone told me to post a Missed Connection and I didn't. Because really, does anyone read them anymore? But I suppose we'll always have the Buccos.
Are there more? Perhaps.

But I can't reveal all of my crushes. 

Because part of the fun of a crush is that you have to keep them secret until they are filled so much with intrigue that just POP. Until a night and fate put you and that crush together in a situation that needs to be rectified. And what happens under the stars, across the room, beside a door just has to play out and a story needs to be written.

So Dear Readers, who is your secret crush? Care to reveal one here? I promise I won't tell. 


Letter #42: Dear Future Boyfriend During a Summer that is not This One

Dear Future Boyfriend,

Sometimes I feel a little silly writing these occasional letters to you. I fear that they make me appear to be like a little girl crushing on the pages of a teen magazine of the music star she listens to every night. Like I'm focusing on a person that I can envision but not quite really see. Someone who I know exists, just is so out of my touch right now that it almost seems not worth it to daydream.

But I think we do meet you'll find my daydreaming adorable. We'll spend an hour in a coffee shop in our neighborhood just making up stories about those who pass on the street before us, in-between our own conversation and sips.

And it will be at this local coffee shop, on one slightly, unseasonably crisp July morning that I'll be reminded of my summer of celibacy. And I'll start to tell you all of the things I did in Summer 2012 when I wasn't out looking for you. I'll tell you about how I liked a law student who wasn't ready for serious things. I'll make you laugh when I tell you how many times I took down, and put back up, my online dating profile.  I'll tell you how I got asked out on dates by library patrons while reading at Starbucks.

And then you'll tell me about how you kept going on dates with a woman from your office out of habit, but they always ended poorly. You'll share funny quips from your own online dating profile.  And you'll tell me the books you downloaded for your Kindle, confessing which ones you read and which ones you left by the wayside for another time.

We'll each have a funny memory that comes to mind when we hear Call Me Maybe on the radio. And sure enough, there will probably be a song from Summer of 2012 that makes me wistfully nostalgic and bring tears to my eyes. And you'll listen to me tell a long-winded story of my premonitions and bad dreams that came along with that summer.  I'll listen to you tell me about the phone calls you fielded from family members all summer long about a reunion that was going to happen over Labor Day weekend.

"Why the summer of celibacy?" you'll ask? A few days after my first mention of it at the coffee shop. And truthfully I'll say to you that I self-imposed a season of not trying to meet anyone. Because I just needed a break. I had too much on my plate. I was too worried about the future. And I just wanted to meet someone who wanted to be in a relationship and all I kept finding were men who liked me very much. Just didn't like commitment to me very much. I'll tell you that I was very open to finding and dating and discovering. But I just wanted to make sure the next person who came along was serious enough to make time for me in their busy world. Not just squeeze me in when a few moments became free.

And you'll nod your head, kiss my forehead, and say you understand. And on another trip to the same coffee shop, we'll share the stories of what came after.


List #160: Little Things that I've been Doing

I purposefully don't talk a lot about my job on this blog. For professional reasons of course. But also, because most of what I do wouldn't be all that interesting to most of my readers. There are only so many stories I can tell you about storytime or reference questions that get asked. They are great stories, but better when they are not written down on the internet.

But the life of a librarian during the summer? Well, it spins wildly for weeks. An increase in usage, more children at storytime, new users, more reference questions, additional programming, etc.

And in the midst of it all, librarians like me are also trying to plan for the future and keep the collection afloat and train a long list of student volunteers who are in search of community service hours.

It's a fun time. But an art of balance. And days that quickly become exhausting.

I wonder if accountant's get asked how work is going, or if people at parties want to hear tales of their days at the office. Because I sure it it a lot. And right now, my answer has been busy. And then I have to go into the back and forth of explaining that yes, a library is busy most of the time. Yes, Summer is even busier. No, I don't get to read at work. And yes indeed we have a lot of people who come into use the computers. And then I get to explain what Summer Reading at a library really means.

So if you are interested, here is a little list of the things I've been doing:

  • At least two storytimes a week. Down from my regular 4. But every other week I have 3.
  • Reading lots of book reviews written by adults.
  • Calling children to notify them of prizes
  • Planning programs for fall.
  • Answering emails about minutes read.
  • Fielding phone calls about programs that are happening now
  • Tie-Dying shirts with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol.
  • Putting lots of marshmallows into sandwich bags.
  • Lots more craft-related activities.
  • Researching children's books in other languages.
  • Coming home at the end of the day, and walking, and then...
  • Battling headaches.
  • Experiencing moments of clarity, right before, sleep that tell me I'm never going to have children.
  • Strange dreaming about pet kangaroos. And nightmares.
  • Developing a small case of insomnia.
  • Thinking about fantasy football.
  • Cleaning my kitchen.
  • Buying a few new outfits.
  • Forgetting to wear earrings.
  • Hoping this stomachache goes away.
We'll see what the week brings, dear readers. I'm hoping for a good one for all of you!


List #159: What My Dreams Are Made Of

I've been talking a good game lately about how much I like my bed when I can sleep diagonally and not have to worry about someone stealing the covers. I've been telling everyone how great it felt to built a bookcase all myself yesterday afternoon. And most of this is very, very true.

But that's not all of the parts of my life right now. Most of my nights have been wracked with stranger-than-normal dreams and bouts of insomnia that hit me unexpectedly. Though thankfully not for long.  I've been jolting awake in the morning with anxiety panged thoughts about work. And my future. And the health of loved ones. And on one occasion, with the immediate desire to change what I had planned to wear that day to something more "bohemian." I don't even think I own anything that could be described as "bohemian."

So sometimes, late at night, I wish that I did have someone in my bed. And despite my strong resolve to not think about the person who isn't in the position to prioritize a relationship, or the few men I said no to because of said person, or my realistic sense of calm in not pursuing dating this summer, I can't help but wish my head was lying on someone's shoulder.

I'm smart enough to know that adding a warm body in-between my sheets would not make all of these bad dreams and worries go away. Reality is that it would only add to my concern and just make me feel less stress on the nights that led to fooling around. And like I said, I'm taking a dating hiatus and since I want a real relationship (as evidence by why the last one was forced to crumble) it wouldn't be the wisest behavior to let someone come between the sheets just for some fun.

But just in the past two weeks I have dreamt about:

  • Snakes. 
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates making it to the playoffs and not having tickets.
  • Work disasters.
  • Old friends that I haven't seen or talked to in years.
  • More snakes.
  • Birds.
Plus, I'm a lucid dreamer. And I know that I'm dreaming most of the time that I'm dreaming. I can change locations of dreams, but they must be "realistic" within the dream. The majority of the dreams I have at night, feel so real that I have, on occasion, not just shouted out but woken up crying or shaking. If I wake up for just a brief bit of time, the current dream will continue. And of course, I remember most of it all in the morning. 

So I've ordered a few dream books from the library to try to interpret this tangled mess. I'm making a vow to write more, both here and the fiction that I don't really share here. I'm going to allow myself a good cry soon. And I'm going to keep trying to fall asleep early knowing that I'll be up in the middle of the night, shaken about something realistic or not. 

And I am going to keep telling myself that just because there is no one to hear my last thoughts before drifting off and no one beside me to make me smile in the morning, I can sort through it on my own. Just like I did with that bookcase.

So dear readers, what kind of things are you dreaming about? Do you have any insight into my own? 


List #158: Call Your Grandmother

My grandmother is the type of woman who, on your birthday, calls you while at work/school/etc. so she can just leave a message wishing you birthday wishes. She always says it's because she wants to wish you Happy Birthday first. But I've long suspected it's because she doesn't really want to talk.

She's a woman who has impeccable taste in jewelry. And even as a child, let me raid her costume jewelry box, and take home the pieces I liked the most. I collected pins and she always bought me a pin. I still have a few today, but not as many as I'd like. I know my mom took many, some were lost, and some are probably spread in nooks in crannies throughout forgotten boxes.

She hates telling stories about growing up. Once, at a funeral, her best friend from childhood was telling stories about their teenage ages years, growing up in Lawrenceville, meeting their husbands. And my grandmother got so mad she almost left the room. I wish I could hear more stories about the younger version of her. The woman she was before I was part of her life.

I don't call her often. I should. But I don't. Because I get caught up in the busy of my life. Become too tired too soon so early in the evening. Or I just plain forget  a phone might be the difference between a good day and a bad day.

So I called her today and talked to her for longer than we have in months. She wanted to have me over for dinner tomorrow, but my work schedule means I'm rarely free on Monday nights.

I am making a pledge to all her more often.  And if I put it in writing, it all becomes much more real.


Letter #41: How Bizarre

Dear Man in the Blue Car Playing the OMC Hit How Bizarre on a Monday Morning in my Neighborhood,

I really appreciate your sense of humor at the beginning of the work. There's a chance that you don't have a solid sense of humor and that "How Bizarre" is one of my all-time favorite songs, or perhaps you missed the boat in 1996 and just wanted to catch up with popular culture. All of these are serious possibilities. Plus, I'm pretty sure you were wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Or at least some type of golf polo with embroidery all over it. Perhaps tiny crocodiles? or red lobsters?

No matter what your own reasoning was though, you made my day. To hear such a song belting itself from a car that's  pulling out of a garage, well before 9 am in 2012. Was just, well...it was bizarre.

And for a moment I wanted you to stop and somehow I wanted us to talk. I could tell you about how that song reminds me of a summer in High School. Walking the shore of Hilton Head, SC with my best friend at the time who in two short years I wouldn't talk to anymore. How that song was a soundtrack of a time when I owned approximately 6 bikinis and still thought myself as fat. I wanted to share this with you and ask why you needed to play it so early in the morning. What memory was attached for you. I wanted to talk to ask your opinion on why this song became such a summer hit. Did you know anything about the band and how they formed. Did you watch the video recently and find yourself thinking about the singers' horrible teeth? And of course, we were probably both wondering where are they now.

And yes, I could have taken to the Internet to find the answers to these questions. But sometimes, knowing just isn't worth it. If I knew the OMC back story, caught up on their lives today, would that make the goofy song any better? Probably not. In fact, probably worse.

Instead, I smiled to myself. Uttered "Have a nice day to you" in a whispered breath. And went along to start my day. The song was an earworm then but I kind of liked it that way. And you? Well, you could have turned out to be very bizarre. Or my very next boyfriend. But again, knowing those answers would have ruined the images too, right?

So, man playing OMC's How Bizarre on a Monday morning, thank you.

And for the rest of you, the video. Which is clearly a fine work of mid-90s art.

Thanks for the new memory,

Your Brassy Librarian


List #157: The Perks of Sleeping Alone

When I was on vacation with my friend and her family, the two of us shared a bed. It's not the first time we've slept together. And knowing our friendship, it probably won't be the last. And yes, I do mean literally sleep. That's it. So get your dirty minds out from the gutter.

I woke up one morning complaining of a slight backache. And she suggested it came from sleeping in a weird position because I wasn't used to sharing my sleeping space with anyone anymore. Though I actually think it was because I had spent the better part of the day sitting on the beach, hunched over and making sandcastles with little ones I am sure that my vacation sleeping arrangements didn't help the matter.

Because I have, indeed, been sleeping alone for quite some time now. Yes, I was dating someone for a few months but sharing my bed or his bed once or twice a week doesn't really cause for a change of habits. We might have argued over who stole more covers at night, but there was always an extra blanket. And we were new-ish enough the whole time that we pretty much kept the same bedtime. Plus, he'd let me come back to bed after I had showered in the morning, a habit I have and truly one of the most blissful times of my day...no matter where I am sleeping or who is with me.

But now I am home from vacation. And though this leaves me sad for a list of reasons. I am happy to be back in my own bed. Even if it means I'm sleeping solo these days.

Because a woman's own bed can allow her to the following:
  • Make the bed, every morning. Though cheat a little and not worry if the bed is overall messy.
  • Sleep on top of the comforter on a hot night. With just a throw blanket on top.
  • Take up all the room. Some people like to sleep in the middle. I like to sleep at a diagonal.
  • Sleep naked. Or not naked. You'll have to know me to get the real answer.
  • Write or read before going sleep. Without worrying that the light, clicking of keys, or page turning is bothering someone.
  • Hit the snooze button at least 4 times in the morning.
  • Catch up on TV shows on the laptop, your head propped upon 3 different pillows.
  • Leave tea cups on the nightstand. Or in my case, top of the radiator, next to the bed.
  • Enjoy quiet. Simply. 
  • Dream of the day when hopefully, there is someone who wants to share the bed with you. Who makes you sleep sounder than before.
So why do you like sleeping alone, dear readers? Share your bedtime confessions.