List #148: This is 31

This is what 31 looks like. I'm not trying to brag. But I don't think it looks too shabby.
A year ago, this is what I wrote on my birthday. I had been through a rough patch in life; I'm pretty sure all of my friends thought I was one step away from really going off the deep end. And when 30 happened. All of the drama, so much of the sadness, the cloud that just wouldn't stop hovering disappeared.
30 was a year of steady, calm, and growth. So many people told me that my 30s would be so much better than my 20s. And so far, just one year in, I agree.
I don't know where 31 will take me. I want a few of those things I listed last year. But I want a little bit more and a little bit less too.

Mostly I just want a little bit of magic in year 31. I want more celebration. I want butterflies.


List #147: Songs by 30

We don't make mixed tapes anymore. I don't even use shuffle on my iPod anymore because I just stream music from my phone. But if I were to make a collective of songs that would play in the background of a video montage of my year 30. The collective would include whole bunch of songs that  were not released in 2012 and a few that were.
West Coast, Coconut Records
To play when you just want to smile, think of all that you miss, but all that you've gained.
It's one of those songs that fit perfectly in my life without the meaning being true to my life. It's a melody that makes me happy in the morning. A truth; I want to go back to the West Coast. And I'm always missing someone. This may be the song I heard most often in year 30 that always brought a smile to my face.
Electric Feel, MGMT
To play when you need something interesting in the background that makes the daily events more memorable. 
Far from being a young 20-something hipster. This song reminds me of dark winter mornings, leaving someone else's house, and making a longer commute work. Silly dancing. Talking in bed with a Pandora station quietly filling in the gaps between our conversations.

Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen
To play everyday. Obviously.
This is the obvious choice for anyone alive in 2012. But in the not-so-distant future I want to sing this song loudly in my kitchen with my future boyfriend. We'll talk about what we were doing summer of 2012. He'll tell me stories of vacations and lonely nights spent at home. While I tell how about Pirates games and cheering on Michael Phelps. We'll love each for remembering all of the song lyrics to "Call Me Maybe."

Winter Song, The Head and the Heart
To play on dark days. When you're sad to say goodbye. When you miss the one you want.
30 was a feel good year. With the exception of a few, dark, and bleak weeks in March. For a few weeks I just wanted to cry. And then I got really sick in ways that I haven't even talked about here. And I felt lonely and sad and as if everyone else was moving beyond. And I was not. The whole The Head and the Heart album can sum up those weeks of darkness for me. But this song is such happy sadness. Also, all of the men are without shirts in a hallway. This is completely strange, but kind of wonderful. Right? I almost want it to snow right now so that I can bury myself deep in covers and just listen to this song in the dark.


Letter #45: Things I Want You to Know, Part 12

Dear Man Blasting Adele's Someone Like You in my Neighborhood at Approximately 9:00 am This Monday,
Your windows were down and your music was very loud. A few people on the sidewalk chuckled and one or two looked highly annoyed. But I wanted to run over to your car and tell you that I've been where you've been. I know the road looks bleak and your heart is aching. But one day it won't feel as if it hurts to breathe. You don't really want someone like the person who broke your heart. Instead, you want someone who wants to protect it. Moving on is hard work, you may never forget, dating isn't easy. But one day, it won't feel as bad. And then it just gets a little easier, bit by bit, to love your life without that person. You're better than a broken heart. Go, cry to a few sad songs. But you aren't alone, your sadness won't last forever. And then the rest is going to be so much fun.

Dear Men From the Past Who Just Decide to Drop In,
Well, hello there. Fancy seeing you in the future. I don't really mind you dropping on by. But could you be a little more specific about your purpose? It would just really help me decide how to handle all interaction.

Dear Boots,
I love you best with tights and a cute dress in the wintertime. But I'm really starting to fall in love with you this fall. Without tights. Ooh la la.

Dear Blankets,
Every week I look forward to a morning where I can bury myself deep under you. I want to block out the world for a few extra hours and relish the quiet. But it never happens and I'm sorry. One day, this fall, I promise. We'll have some quality time together.

Dear Wedding Seasons,
Believe it or not, this fall season I'm only attending one wedding. And then I don't know any close friends that are engaged. From that point on most of my friends will either be married or not-currently-in-any-relationship-and-yes-i'm-looking-but-it's-really-hard-out-here. This means that I won't have to be the lone single at a table of marrieds for very much longer. It also means that maybe, the next waive of late-bloomer weddings may include mine. I hope. But I guess the parties just transfer on over to baby showers. Thanks, wedding seasons, for at least lots of open bars and hotel rooms to crash my head. Baby showers may be quicker and less-expensive affairs, but they provide far less debauchery.

Dear Dewey's Decimators,
I don't know what to tell you boys. It's like you're not even trying out there. Don't you know there is a championship on the line? Some money? Don't you want to bring home the fame? It's not too late to turn this season around. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

List #146: Things I Thought About During 30

On Friday, I turn 31. It's not a dramatic birthday. Nor should it be. Just a year passing in time. One that was solid and showed me growth in my own person, my own sense of inner calm, and even more so in my career.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for the next year ahead. But for now, here is what I was thinking about in year 30.

  • What will be the next move in my career
  • Did every woman I ever went to school with have a baby in 2012
  • How will I afford to pay X bill
  • Where should I go on vacation
  • Why does Justin Timberlake not come out with a new album
  • Thoughts about a man in law school
  • Should I get a cat
  • What in the world am I going to do with this kitten
  • Do any of the men from my past ever think about me
  • Does this outfit extenuate the positive and hide the negative
  • How does she keep it all together
  • There is no way she has it all together
  • Where can I meet a man who wants to commit
  • Why do I fall for men who don't want to commit
  • Why do people care about Snooki's baby
  • When is Excedrin going to come back on the market
  • How hilarious is it that "Zoltan" became a thing
  • What time do I need to get up tomorrow
  • I am blessed with so many great friends
  • Sleeping in my bed is the best ever
  • Sharing a bed is still better than sleeping alone
  • College football
  • Professional football
  • Why is Pascal Dupuis married
  • I hate my stomach
  • Should I get Starbucks this morning
  • Why are my favorite babies growing up so quickly
  • I wish I could talk to my cousin
  • Does anyone have a crush on me
  • How can I get on Root Sports
  • What's it going to take
  • Should I leave Pittsburgh
  • I need to meet the cast of Parks and Recreation
  • How many viewings of each episode of Parks and Recreation is too much
  • Why did I sleep with X
  • Why didn't I sleep with X
  • What would it take to hire someone to do my laundry
  • A few very solid moments of incredible self-doubt and self-pity, but on the whole, less than I had at 29 
  • Why did I say yes to his date 
  • Why did I say no to his date
  • I should probably go to the doctor about my right foot
  • Pittsburgh is an amazing place
  • People from Pittsburgh are a particular breed of wonderful
  • Tomorrow will be better
  • Please don't break my heart


List #145: Television without Guilt

I came home from a late night shift at the library today, put some chickpeas in the oven to roast, and just wanted to veg out for an hour or so, before I would go to bed only to wake up and repeat.

I have a brand new book of essays in my bag that I'm really looking forward to opening, but sometimes the last thing a librarian wants to do is come home and read. Especially when she didn't leave the library until 9:00 pm.

So television, it is. Tonight actually, a few episodes of The Cosby Show. A staple of my childhood. The first show I actually remember anticipating every week. The first show I remember ending. And the show that gave us, eventually, A Different World. One of the most underrated television shows of its time. I could write a blog post on that show.

I  didn't turn my television very often this summer. Unless it was for the Olympics or a rainy afternoon, it was mostly off. I enjoyed the quiet. I read a lot. I was busy.

But shows are starting soon. And this makes me a little bit happy.

So, for the most recent list. I bring you the top television show I am most excited to watch this fall.

Parks and Recreation
Why I Watch: Have you met me? I'm a little bit Liz Lemon and a lot bit Leslie Knope. I love candy. I am fiercely dedicated to publish service, but am unlucky in love. I need my own personal Ben Wyatt. Andy and April are television's current greatest couple. And Ron Swanson is my local government dreamboat. It's chock full of the quirky humor I most appreciate. Plus, librarians are punk ass book jockeys. 

New Girl
Why I Watch:  Any single girl who likes dresses and feels awkward can relate to Jess. We all see a little bit of her in ourselves. But she's not the absolute reason why I started to watch faithfully watch this show (and all of the previous episodes) sometime in March. It's the men in her life. I can relate to Nick's finances a little too much. Schmidt is so over-the-top yet endearing. Winston just wants to get his life together. I mean, I feel like all of them rolled into one person. It's not the quirk that keeps me, but the friendships, and the acknowledgement that none of us actually know what we're doing in terms of keeping relationships together.

The Mindy Project
Why I Want to Watch:  Well, first off I loved Mindy Kaling's book. Second, Toby Ziegler is a doctor.  Other assorted reasons? I may have had a first date where I had diarrhea of the mouth in almost the exact same way as she does with Ed Helms. I once had self-imposed a ban on When Harry Met Sally because it was distorting my view on how love works. My best friends are all married and on their way (or already have) children. Oh, and I've mostly got that career part of being a wonderful woman down. 
It's the personal stuff that keeps tripping me up. 

How I Met Your Mother
Why I Watch: Of course I want to see Ted's wife. But Ted is the most boring character on this show. I'm also impressed by the layered storytelling, the foreshadowing, and the recalling of past events. I'm heavily invested in the timeline. But I mostly watch because Robin is the closest thing to a realistic single-career-driven-woman who struggles with life and love and all things that women should be and the things she wants to be. I need to see just how she gets to the part of her life where she wants to marry Barney, when she's always been adamant about not getting married. I watch because Marshall Erikson is my kind of guy: smart, loyal, funny, and believes in the Loch Ness monster. Lily reminds me of one of my greatest friends. And Barney is iconic. This is a show about growing up. And it has come to mean a lot in my own journey of growing up too.

You'll notice that drama is lacking in my list. It's hard for me to get invested in dramas because so little matches up to The West Wing and Friday Night Lights. Plus, I let it come my way through Mad Men and now, Newsroom. I may watch Nashville because I do love Connie Britton, but I think I'll wait a week or two, for reviews and personal feedback before I invest my time. 

So dear readers, what television shows are you most excited for? Any recommendations? Leave them in the comments. 


List #144: I Thought It Would Be Better Than This

It's September. My favorite time of year.

I'm 30. Almost 30 plus 1.

I'm in a much better place in my life than I was a year ago. Two years ago. Five years ago.

I just thought it would be better than this.

Well, maybe better isn't the word. It implies that I'm not very happy with my life and that's giving off the wrong the impression. I'm very happy. I have wonderful friends, a supportive family, a career that is both challenging and fulfilling. I have a roof over my head and though I may not be rich, I can pay for the necessities.

But I just thought it would be easier.

I'm in a funk right now. Just a little one. There is no storm cloud following me around. Just a pesky little gray cloud that won't let the sun shine a few more hours of the day. I'm trying my best to ignore it. Tell myself that I can keep kicking the sh*t out of life.

But today I actually found myself asking for a sign. I just want a little peek to let my mind rest. I want a tiny piece of karma to float my way.

  • Maybe a hint that a raise is in the works? I work awfully hard.
  • Or a great first date, followed by a second one. 
  • Some check I forgot to cash. Or a lottery card that is worth something.
  • Someone calling to tell me that I'm missed.
  • My right foot to stop aching.
  • Happy hour with a single friend who just wants what I want too.
  • A normal man to ask for my phone number. Or even better, to ask me on a date.
There isn't one big thing in my life I would change. I'm content. I'm blessed. I'm happy. I just want to be able to come home and share my worries with someone who wants to embrace me. Or I'd just like a few less problems. 

I feel a little naive asking for such things. Like I'm a young girl who is still holding on to dreams she can't chase. Like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth and demanding too much from a universe that certainly hasn't treated me as poorly as many, many more. But I don't think I'm unreasonable. 

Thirty hasn't been a bad age. In fact, it's brought patience and self-confidence, new friends and old friends. It's given me pride and passion. It's made some mistakes but is walking away with a few good stories to tell.

But 31? I just want to see a little magic. 

So what about you dear readers? If you could have one thing change, one problem go away, or be granted one good portion of karma. What would you want to see happen? 


List #143: Hipster Women I Want to Be

I am many things: A dutiful daughter, a compassionate sister, a woman who likes to laugh, a girl who is scared, a fierceness that will keep working until she gets what she wants, a caring friend who tries to give back the love she's gotten. I'm a 30 year-old professional who probably thinks about work a little more than she should, a person who can barely stay away when watching a movie alone, a girl who appreciates a bright lipstick, someone who when left to her own cooking devices is perfectly content to boil a lot of rice and sauté the heck out of vegetables.

This is me. I'm also the girl who will bring American flags to an Olympic party. And wave them around like she just doesn't care.

And despite being a librarian and despite wearing glasses, I am not a hipster. Hipster Librarians are a growing breed, but I'm not really one of them. I'm geeky, sure. But I don't shop vintage and though I support my local coffee shops, I drink Starbucks a lot. I like men with beards, but I'm not your skinny waif of a girl and I not even a vegetarian, let alone a vegan.

But if I could trade my OPAC, get a pair of thicker glasses, and start to collect vintage photos and open an open an Etsy shop, and be a hipster chick? I'd be:

Lena Durham
She's liberal arts educated and has a hit show on HBO. She's not always happy with her body, but she's  strong enough to show if off. Plus, I hear she's dating some guy for Fun. And come on! There new video has the band dressed up as Civil War soldiers. Seems like a solid hipster couple to me. We could go to gallery opens, complain about the lack of beer being served, then go to a local bar and complain that everything they have on tap isn't as good as they stuff we make on our own. I don't want to be her Girls character, I just want to write for Girls and have a collection of designer Mary Janes.

Zooey Deschanel
Of course. She's the IT girl of Hipster girl. She's quirky and cute. Her hair is on a bad day is probably better than my hair on its best of days. She was once married to Ben Gibbard and I imagine that they probably spent part of Sunday mornings drinking fresh squeezed orange juice out ouf mason jars while they tried to complete they NY Times Crossword puzzle. She's said that she can't really imagine herself having children because she loves working too much. She has her own website filled with girly pieces. She even has people making fun of her on SNL, meaning she could probably pop in and do a Weekend Update with Seth anytime she wants. Now, I might not be able to have a hit show on Fox, but if I could ever write a piece and get it published on HelloGiggles I *might* consider myself made. 

Michelle Williams
Okay, so maybe it's hard to call anyone who was a star of Dawson's Creek a hipster. But hipster wasn't really part of the world's lexicon on the late 1990s-early 2000s. And plus, I don't think she really started to grow hipster roots until she stared to date Heath Ledger. Now her hair is shorter than I could dream of wearing and she has a collection of cute, printed dresses with ruffles and bows. She wears headbands and dates Jason Segal. And since Amy Poehler and Will Arnett aren't together anymore, I really feel like this is the only celebrity couple I can get behind. This girl is going to win an Oscar one day, let's all get behind that.

I'm not going to be a hipster girl anytime soon. And honestly, that's for the best. I'll just be me.


List #142: Very Specific Reasons Why I Love the Steelers

As I write this I'm watching the second-half of the first Steelers football game of the season. We're winning right now, but there is still a lot of time on the clock. How this game ends is anyone's guess.

But one thing is certain, Steelers fans will keep on cheering.

Which brings me to the my very short, but specific, list of reasons why I love the Steelers.  But in no particular order.

  • You either love us or you hate us. Our team has 6 Super Bowl rings. We're tough.  Either you see Pittsburgh like this. Or you watch this and get chills:

There isn't a lot of middle ground when it comes to the Steelers. We're a huge allegiance of fans that spreads throughout the world. It's thrilling to run into others wearing Steelers shirts, hats, and jerseys when you're not actually in Pittsburgh. It's like belonging to an elite club that welcomes you no matter where you are at the moment. Sure, Steeler Nation may be loud and brash. But we're proud and excited and we just want you to join our ranks.
  • I once thought Jack Lambert lived in Three Rivers Stadium.

He is one the Steelers scariest players of all-time. And considering he stopped playing for the Steelers when I was about three years-old, I'm quite sure I didn't understand a lick about football when he was on the team. But I love him as a young Pittsburgh girl and having a favorite player so early on in my fandom was a clear sign for the future. Hines? Troy? Pouncey? Mike Wallace? I have loved them all.
  • Tommy Maddox

This guy played for the Steelers from 2001-2005. That's a lot longer than I remember. Remember when he was in the XFL and THEN played for us? And THEN was our main QB for a period of time? Yeah. We may have won 6 Super Bowls, but we can't take ourselves that seriously if we kept this guy around for four years. And as much as I love football, it's a game. We all have to remember that sometimes you aren't on top, sometimes Tommy Maddox is your QB, and sometimes we're going to lose a few games.
  • We bleed Black and Gold. I can't wear black and gold in the city without asking if there is a Steelers/Pirates/Penguins game I'm attending later. But we have a song called Black and Yellow.

The rest of the world probably grew very sick of this song years ago. But to Pittsburgh, it's forever going to have a special place in this city every fall. To me, it reminds me of winter where a Steelers Super Bowl was the first big challenge I had to face as a "single girl." It's a happy song. And sure, Wiz may be a Dad soon and that just kind of feels a little bit wrong. But at least he's going to be a Pittsburgh Dad. 

Yeah, we're losing now So I'm just going to go and channel my thoughts to the Steelers. Football season has begun! Here We Go!


List #141: Democrat in My Heart

I think I've been crushing on Democratic men since I was very little girl.

I remember being oh, about 11, and wanting to write Bill Clinton a letter to let him know how much I wanted him to be our President. I don't think I ever did though.

And I remember peeking out from a mock election in my first grade classroom and seeing that my hand was the only one raised for Michael Dukakis. It was Dukakis and I was a Catholic School student, after all.

I was kind of a liberal dork even when I was little, apparently.

My biggest Democratic crushes come straight out of the West Wing. The fictional television show, of course. Because hello, what liberal, loving woman who just wants affordable education and healthcare for all can resist men like this:

This year, I haven't been as vocal about my politics in years past. Part of this is because I've gotten really good at being the impartial librarian that it feels almost strange to step into a passionate, and opinionated voice. Part of this is because I've reached the age that I no longer think that one politician can change the world. They can help, certainly. But all sides of the argument must find common ground, and that's something continues to be a struggle for this country. Part of it is because I don't have the time I once did to volunteer my hours. They are excuses, to be sure.

But after watching the Democratic National Convention this week, I feel a little more energized than I did before. I can't stump for the Democrats at work. And I won't be posting a whole of things to Facebook. But I'll give, I'll cast my vote, I'll engage in thoughtful and educated discussion.

And I'll get giddy and excited when smart men and women keep talking about what is important in this country. I'll get all swoony when I read newspaper articles of political men and women trying to use their power to make a difference.

I just don't want to live in a world where men try to tell me what I can and can't do with my body. I don't want to live in a world where our leaders consider corporations people. I don't want to live in a world where we look out for ourselves above looking out for each other.

So dear readers, if you're not registered, regardless of your party or views or hatred of politics, please go register. You can't make a difference if you don't voice your opinions.


List #140: Dancing in September

I have no idea how it got to be September. I get the clocks, the calendars, the earth spinning on an axis and circling the sun.

But I swear all it took was a blink of my eye and we're here. My favorite month. A month of new beginnings, of change, of heat breaking way to chilly nights, my birthday.

I'm surprisingly calm about about this time of year right now. The clock is ticking down the days until my birthday. And 31 seems an awfully lot older than 30. But there isn't much I can do about the candles on the cake. Plus, I already have a jam-packed birthday weekend planned, ending with a plane ride and a week on the west coast. I'd be foolish to not realize how blessed I am in my old age.

But still, I want to make the most of my favorite month. So here's a tiny list of the things I want to do in September.

  • I want to give a bigger donation to the Obama campaign. The last election I was only working part-time so I gave more of my time. This time around, my money will have to suffice.
  • I want to post a new online dating profile. Will I commit to a paid site this month? Probably not since I have a vacation looming in less than 30 days, but OkCupid has to have a few good men, right?
  • I want to go on a legitimate date. Drink a beer at dinner and laugh. 
  • I want to watch a whole lot of football. At home, with friends, in a bar, alone. 

  • I want to dance, at night, to this song playing loudly. Preferably not alone.
  • I want to send a few more cards in the mail. Everyone loves real mail.
  • I want to attend happy hour downtown. With friends.
  • I want to flirt with a guy across the room, or on the street, or at a party. Or anywhere. Just flirt, with a stranger. 
  • I want to get a haircut. And wear it long. But bring back the bangs.
  • I want to find a reason to smile. Everyday. 
So dear readers, what do you want to do this September? Can we be in this together?