List #139: Meet Radley

I've wanted a cat for a long time. We had pets growing up: 2 rabbits, assorted fish, 1 awesome dog. And I had another rabbit, a fish, and a frog as pets for my classroom back in the day when I was a teacher. But I never got to have a cat. My Dad and brother are allergic. My parents weren't big fans of cats. 

And even though one of my college roommates and I would have a loved a little kitty to prance back and forth between our bedrooms, we and our other roommates agreed to no pets when we signed the lease.

So for years I always had dreams of a little kitty, but I would fight them off for fear of becoming a crazy cat lady. And I guess in a way I already am, because here I am writing a blog post introducing to the newest big thing in my life. But I'm hoping that having a little cuddly one at home makes me happier in the long and that whomever I may date in the near, and not-so-near future, loves cates too. Or at least tolerates them enough for me.

So without further ado, I'd like for you to meet Radley. She's a cute little thing that I got from a friend of the library. 

Radley. As in Boo. As in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Right now Radley spends a lot of time doing the following:
  • Sitting under my bed.
  • Looking at me.
  • Meowing.
  • Jumping on radiators.
  • Cautiously eating. Tonight I found out that she really likes the turkey wet food. 
  • Playing with her feather toy.
  • But being a little frightened of her mouse toy that rolls around.
  • Enjoying tummy rubs.
  • Purring in my lap.
  • Finding a ring on my finger fascinating. 
  • Waking me up around 5:00 am and demanding that she gets some love and attention.
  • Being adorable.
So dear readers, am I officially on my way to being crazy cat lady? Or have I just added even more cuteness to my life? Because I already think I'm pretty cute. 


List #168: A Small List of Things I Want to Miss

  • Your laugh. Cracking up even before you get to the punchline.
  • You at night. Just so that I can smell you lingering on my pillow.
  • A smile. That widens when I enter the room.
  • Your hands on my hips. Just so that I can feel your touch again.
  • The way you gently poke me. When you want to interrupt my reading.
These small things because I'm feeling wistful and romantic tonight. Because I want to be swept up in someone's arms who values me. As much as I say I don't want them, I want a grand gesture. 

I want to not have to think about going to parties alone. I want to feel someone's legs next to mine at night. I want to make mistakes and have someone laugh at me. 

I'm just feeling sentimental tonight. I'm still seeking the romance. I hope it knows where to find me.

Letter #44: An Open Letter to Reckless Behavior

Dear Reckless Behavior,

I see you creeping around on the outskirts of my life, trying to make me dig my hole deeper and deeper. But I just want to tell you that we're done. I'm breaking up with you because you're not healthy. And though you feel good while in the moment, you have no long-term positive affects.

I drank the beers, I sent the texts, I chose only to listen to friends who told me what I wanted to hear. But from here on out, I'm going to try harder.

I'm going to try and make the decisions that let me feel better not just tomorrow, but next week and next year. I'm only going to spend time with the people who want to keep spending time with me a year from now. Because I deserve the full-attention. I deserve a nicer bottle of wine. I deserve a meal that is paid for by someone other than me and isn't one that we eat in my living room.

I still think you're fun, Reckless Behavior. I like that you lead to weekends of stories and laughter. I like the way you make me feel right before I go to sleep.

But I'm not sure if you're the best thing to wake up next to in the morning. And well, someone should put a stop to your madness.

I'm not saying I won't you miss you from time to time. I love the thrill of it all. The rush I get when you enter the room and the uncertainty I feel just as you start to slip out. You're been addicting since the mid-2000s. I've followed your road from time to time and we've shared some memorable moments.

But it's about time I stop being lured by your jolly good times and buckle down and ignore the devil over my shoulder.

We're done, reckless behavior. And I would appreciate it if you finally understood and walked away quietly from the door.



List #167: Seeking the Romance

Tonight, before bed, I decided to settle in with the latest book I've been reading and some music. I don't really know why I chose Ben Folds tonight. He isn't someone I put on at regular intervals, but a few of his songs have been floating around in my head and he's mostly calm and sweet and well, it's good bedtime music.

And just as I was beginning the second chapter of the night, this song started to play:

And I was struck with a very strong memory of love that seems so long ago, it felt as if I was dusting cobwebs off a box long ago stored away in the attic.

I remember sitting next to the Big Ex on a long car ride and hearing this song. A sweet confession from him of how lucky he felt to finally have met me. I don't actually know if he confessed these thoughts to me with this song playing in the background and I'd be surprised if he heard his song today and thought of me. But I have a vague recollection that in our early days we talked about how this song was so much us. So much of our stumbles and falls until we found each other's laughs.

So I think of a young version of us. Holding hands, fingers laced and squeezing. His confessions of screwing up time and and time again and how I was just the girl who came along at the right time. The "I Love You's" rolling off of his tongue and the nights we spent tangled in each other's limbs.

I remember the nights, before I moved in and long before things turned sour, that I would lay in my bed and go to bed with giddy thoughts of him. How I felt that I had waited for so long to fall in love with a man like that. One who loved me completely. One who stood up for me and pushed me. I remember going shopping and always keeping my out for a little something for him. I remember small, stolen kisses in the kitchen. And nights wrapped up together on the couch. I remember not being able to keep our hands off of each other. I remember how much I loved him.

The relationship ended for a wide variety of reasons. Some that are reasonable, some that are not. And that's really not the story of tonight's blog post.

Instead it's about how easy it is to keep the romance sparking at the beginning. But how easy it can be to let it fade when complications get in the way. The was no time for romance with graduate school, sick family, deep depression, and additional family members getting in the way.

And though I am not an overly romantic girl who will expect flowers every week. And though I'm not the type of woman who is going to post Facebook messages about how awesome my significant other is. And though I doubt the man who I will fall in love is going to be these type of things either. I want us to have our own version of romance.

  • I want us to have traditions we can keep coming back to when the times do ultimately, get tough. 
  • I want us to have a song that reminds us of our early days and challenges us to capture those feelings on unremarkable evenings. 
  • I want us to try very hard, every day, not to break each other's heart. 
  • I want us very much keep the "I Love You's" rolling off of our tongue. 
  • I want to sleep so close to his body that you aren't sure where his begins and mine ends.
  • I want inside jokes. 
  • I want kisses on my forehead when I sleep and I can pretend that I'm still sleeping but turn over and smile because I know he did it. 
  • I want to run my fingers along his head every night, while reading books, until we are both ready to turn off the lights.
  • I want to eat breakfast in the morning together, at least every once in a while. 

Because if there is one thing I've learned? Is that sure, something doesn't have to last forever in order to have value and worth.

But now? I'm ready for the forever.

So dear readers, what tips do you have to keep the romance alive? I'll keep them in my pocket until I finally meet him.


Letter #43: Things I Want You to Know, Part 11

Dear Man with the Head Tattoo (last seen Winter 2011 and deeply missed),
I still get questions about you and it's been so long since I've seen you. People out there like to talk about you and actually, think I have a crush on you. I don't like to disappoint. But it's not a crush really. Just a curiosity about a man who has a tattoo on his head. Who orders tea at Starbucks on weekday mornings and then disappears. So I make up little stories about you in my head, and if anyone asks what you're up to, from now on I'm going to tell them you went on a fishing expedition to Alaska this summer. I hope you mounted one of your bigger catches.

Dear Neighborhood Crush,
For a few brief hours last weekend I had declared you my neighborhood crush. I was going to woo you from across your counter. I was going to invite you over to my house after work. We'd get coffee and tell each other stories and then make out. I could picture you spending the night and we'd figure out all of the people in Pittsburgh that we knew together. You were a hometown boy looking for a hometown girl. And for a few hours, and definitely for a few drinks, you were an exciting prospect that I wanted to know all about. But then the rosy haze lifted and we came closer together than ever before. And I got the feeling that this crush wasn't meant to be anything more than a few hours of anticipation. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

Dear Fantasy Football,
This is year that I own you. This is year that Dewey's Decimators rises and shouts "I am a winner!" I can't wait for draft night with a bunch of girls who will fight for the best player and yes, argue over who is most attractive. When will No Boys Allowed get some recognition? Because we should be a Web TV Show by now.

Dear Mother Nature,
It's been well established that I have a hard time with change and that I don't like good-byes. Fall is my favorite season, but I'm always sad to see another summer fade. And though I love this touch of cool weather you're giving us right now. I don't want the leaves to start changing nor the chill to settle anytime soon.

Dear Michael Phelps,
Congratulations on being the most decorated Olympian. It's been a pleasure to see you swim. And though I know many people don't like you, I do. I like that you're focused and determined. But you're still foolish enough to slip up and do stupid things. But you've matured a lot in the last few years and I think it embarrasses you a little when NBC asks your relay teammates how it feels for them "to help you win a good medal." You know they just won a gold medal too. And I think you understand that Ryan Lochte may be more attractive than you, but still pales in comparison. And you'd never want to wear a stars and stripes grill. So there is that.

Dear Ron Swanson,
I can't wait until September 20th. Because I need a whole lot of you in my life.



List #165: Decorating

I hung these pictures in my kitchen today.

And even though I work almost non-stop for 8 hours. Planned programs for the fall, sent emails to over 100 people, and answered a few reference phone calls. Coming home after 9:00 and arranging these photos feels like my greatest accomplishment this Monday. 

I have a hard time putting things on my walls. It's probably a nod to my nervous nature towards commitment. I want commitment, full on. But I'm cautious about making bad decisions. But more and more I'm making decisions about my living place while trying not to worry that it's not perfect. I probably won't live here forever. I will probably change my mind about my decorating choices. And all of that is okay. 

But there is one rule that I have about what I display. It has to have a story; it has to have a history that relates to me. So actually, if you were to visit my apartment right now you might be shocked at how little I actually have here (Clothing aside. I have lots and lots of clothing). I learned to live with very little years ago when I lived far away. And I never had the desire to clutter everything up again (Case in point, I was gifted a microwave today and I'm not actually sure what I'm going to do with it). But what I do have is all a display of my favorite things, favorite places, favorite people. It's all a nod to all of the conflicting and best parts of me.

  • The top print is one I purchased on Etsy. A nod to the hometown that I love with all of my heart. Even when I want to flee it and never look back. It's nod to the skyline that I still think is the prettiest in the world. And one I'm so lucky to look at each morning as I head into work. I may not work downtown, but it's always just within my reach. Also, the title might be "Pittsburgh Coffee Break" but I'm just gonna go ahead and think they drinking tea.
  • The little rooster on the right is from a Loteria set that someone I dated once gave me at Christmastime. It wasn't so much a Christmas gift, as it was still pretty early in the relationship, as it was a "thinking of you gift." We'd both been out of town in December and I came back first, with a Ron Swanson magnet. So he came back with this. It's not hanging because of him though. It's hanging because I always liked the idea of having a rooster wake me up in the morning. And because the tiny cards remind me of first learning Spanish in a Catholic school room. Because I like saturated colors. It's tiny and perfect, but the one most likely to change first. 
  • The Pole Vaulter on the left is an advertisement for Greek chocolate. I bought it at an antique store in Naxos, but it really is just a reprint. A brand of chocolate I used to get from students on name day celebrations. 
I have plans for other things. Up next, work on my extensive postcard collection. But for tonight, just hanging these prints gave me some sense of accomplishment over things that don't happen at my desk.

So dear readers, what is your most favorite thing adorning your walls?


List #164: What's New with You?

What do you say when you've asked "What's new with you?" I got this question a lot over the past week. From former acquaintances and old friends. And each and every time I was at a loss for a serious response. 

So often this question is presented to me at a life moment: a wedding, a bridal shower, a baby shower, in front of newborns, visiting someone in the hospital, and sadly, sometimes a funeral. And no matter what I say just seems to pale in comparison. When a friend is telling me that their baby just started speaking in full-sentences, it feels awkward to tell them about meeting friends from Twitter. Or when a friend is telling me about the installation of a new bathroom, it's strange bridge to gap and start talking about being on local news this summer. 

This isn't to say that I am embarrassed by my own news. Or that I think it's less than their news. It's not. I am having a great summer. My life is not perfect, but it's filled with a lot of engaging and rewarding experiences. But it just doesn't feel that my accomplishments are ones that I can boast.

But I'm tired of feeling that way. I've been underplaying my own interests too often lately. And if this is how it's going to be in my adult-life, I just don't think I will be happy. Everyone we know has a different life, a different set of struggles, and I am proud of mine. It's just not true that I can't share my own news every once in awhile. It doesn't have to sound silly. Because it's my life, and though I am often silly, my life isn't. 

  • I pledge to myself to answer the question "What's new with you?" with a strong response. What I have to say to this question has value. Even if it's different than what the inquirer has going on in his/her own life.
  • I'm going to share a little more about what I do at work. You know what? Some of the programs I line up and host are a big deal. My circ stats? Amazing. My involvement in a huge grant-funded summer game? Kind of ground breaking.
  • I'm not going to walk away from these big events feeling sad that I don't have what someone else has. I don't know why I may ever need a relish tray, but that doesn't mean I won't ever get married. And it doesn't mean that I'm a lost and hopeless girl just because I'm not dating. And I'd rather get asked "What's new with you" than "Anyone special in your life?" So take that as a blessing.
  • I'm going to keep pushing towards tomorrow. No one knows what the next day's news is going to be. But I am going to try to work towards making it the best that I can. This is cheesy, this is cliche. But I need to know that I have some control in my life. 
  • I am going to continue to listen to the news that other people tell me. Pay attention and care about their answers. And hope that they are reciprocating these good vibes right back to me.
So dear readers, when someone asks you "what's new" how do you respond? I am open to all advice and tips.


List #163: My Love Affair with the Olympics, Part 2

Flash forward a few years from the Atlanta Summer Games to the Athens Summer Games. Bypass the rest of high school and all of college. And you'll find me living with two midwestern girls and two friends from college. I slept in a bed right next to the living room balcony, in a flat that overlooked Agrocorinth, in the tiny beach town of Vrahati, Greece.

I was broke. I was unemployed. I was homesick. And I questioned every decision that led me to that tiny beach town at least once a day.

But it was impossible not to fall in love with Greece that summer. Greece had won the Euro Cup just before I arrived. The Olympic Flame was running its way through every minor city making its way to the capital. Greek flags hung in banners around every light post. Every cafe, every corner shop, even every fast food restaurant had a flat screen television. You could not escape the Olympics. They were coming back to their homeland and I was going to be a part of it.
Waiting for the Torch. Corinth, Greece.

When Greece unveiled the opening ceremonies for a world that questioned their ability to get it all finished, I was watching from a Greek Taverna. The whole entire country was given the day off in national homecoming celebration. And when the stage was set, my friends and I sat at large table on a patio that overlooked the Corinthean Bay drinking Mythos and Heineken until our heads lightened. We ate plates of saganaki and tzattziki and tiny fish with heads till on them as countries paraded out into the stadium.

And when I ventured into Athens a few days later, to watch Track & Field, I wore an American Flag tattoo on my arm. I was eager to hear our national anthem and I was eager to eat McDonald's french fries.

I don't remember anything about the athletes and the competitions that year. I remember the fireworks blasting atop buildings on the night the torch ran through my city. I remember arriving at the Olympic Park and watching the nice American man we'd been chatting with on the subway disappear in the crowd as undercover security. I remember standing underneath an Olympic Torch that stretched far into the white sky but looked like an extraordinary joint. I remember the little American flag that my travel companions purchased being one of the only American flags waving in stadium. I remember buying volleyball tickets from peace corps volunteers, one slung over crutches with an unidentified infection on his leg, on the subway. I remember the pride of every Greek I met that the games their ancestors invented were back home.
The Freedom Doobie. 
(not it's actual name. just a name we gave it)

I don't need to remind anyone that Greece got a lot of flack for their poor planning of the Games. We all know the story. We all see the rickety steps Greece is standing on top of now.

But what I do need to tell you is that none of that mattered. Greece is a hard-working country. They take pride in their history and their reputation. The Greek people want you to feel at home in their country, and as a young woman who was starting to make her home there just as trouble was starting to brew, I can assure you that is a very special home indeed.

By the time the Athens Olympics wrapped up I was still broke, but living in a new city now four hours from Athens, just days away from starting my new job. I spent those afternoons trying to cheaply stay away from the sun, by watching the Olympics from my bed. There was no network dominance; every channel in Greece working together to make sure that every Greek event (and they had at least one person participating in every event) was broadcasted. I didn't have to worry about poor commentary because I didn't understand the language. And I didn't have to worry about spoilers because I had no Internet and everything was broadcasted live.

Track & Field. Athens. 2004

I cried when I watched the closing ceremonies in my new apartment alone. I had no idea just how banner of a year 2004 would be for both Greece and myself. And though the Athens Olympics weren't the reason why I moved to such a poor European country, they were certainly the reason I knew it was all going to be okay.