List #180: It's New Year's Eve

And I'll be working a full shift at the library, though technically we are closing early. And then I'm off for some traditional fun with old friends. I hope to make many toasts throughout the night to health, friendship, happiness, and adventure.

And when the countdown to midnight begins, in addition to missing Dick Clark, I'll be crossing my fingers, my toes, and my heart for continued good fortune and a little bit of magic in 2013.

Maybe by this time next year we'll all be a little bit smarter, a little bit wiser, a little bit happier, a little bit healthier, and a little bit more loved, and a little bit more in love.

I'm hoping for some dreams to come true in 2013. Both for me and you.


List #179: A Year in Books

At the start of 2012 I set a personal goal to read 52 books. Though I knew that there was no way that I would read a book a week, I was aware of my reading habits enough to know that some weeks (and weekends) I read more than one.

Unfortunately, I didn't reach my goal this year. So far I've finished 43 books but I'm pretty sure I'll finish one more by tomorrow night, making my grand total 44. There are plenty of reasons why I didn't finish 52 this year: I was sick this spring and on medication that made my whole brain fuzzy and my whole body tired, I moved one week after spending a week in the hospital, I read a whole lot of thick books, we started subscribing to Bust at the library, I was busy with friends, and I probably watched too much TV. 

I'm a little disappointed that I didn't reach 52 titles this year, so I plan on setting the same goal for 2013. Though I read less than anticipated I still found a whole lot of gems. So I give you my top 5 favorite books of the year. Qualifications for consideration are simply I loved them, they kept me thinking beyond the last page, and that I read them in 2012. Publication date is no matter for consideration, but it just so happens that all but one were released in the last 12 months.

Here they are, in no particular order of preference. 

Gone Girl ~ Gillian Flynn
Finished in July
Why I Read It:  I was going on a beach vacation, wanted a book that would hook me, and was hearing rave reviews about this best seller. I hardly ever buy books for my Nook and am happy to wait for a book through the library's hold list. But this one I couldn't wait for. Sometimes, as a librarian, when I know a book is going to be a big deal, I need to read it before everyone else gets their hands on it.
Why I Loved It:  Flynn's storytelling is unique, her character's voices clear, and the plot line is all sorts of crazy run wild. Each chapter has its twists and turns, you aren't sure which character to believe, and no one comes off completely believable nor relatable. But it's an addicting roller coaster. If you haven't read it yet, don't talk to anyone who has, anything said could be a spoiler.

One Last Thing Before I Go ~ Jonathan Tropper
Finished in August
Why I Read It:  Last year Tropper blew me away when I read This Is Where I Leave You. I love novels about family drama and the hard relationships we juggle in life.
Why I Loved It: Tropper is now at the top of my fiction writer list. His characters manage to be a multitude of things all at the same time: strong and weak, smart and idiotic, hilarious and sad. His writing is witty, he never talks down to his readers and he makes his stories about the journey, and not just the end.. One Last Thing Before I Go manages to be breathtaking sad and completely relatable even though you may not be able to identify yourself in the core of the characters. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette ~ Maria Semple
Finished in November
Why I Read It: I was intrigued by press and reviews the book was getting that I noticed when placing orders for the library. My coworker read it and loved it. The cover is fantastic. Seriously, the cover wins my favorite for best art work of the year.
Why I Loved It: It's satire at its finest. The story is told through different points-of-view and each character's voice is distinct and hilarious. Bernadette is a genius of fantastical, determined, and crazy design. And in-between the mystery and outrageous lies a story about love and family. Plus, I love Seattle and the city itself is a character in this book. 

The Age of Miracles ~ Karen Thompson Walker
Finished in August
Why I Read It: Intriguing reviews caught my eye before it was published. I love coming-of-age stories. I enjoy reading a variety of dystopian fiction.
Why I Loved It: Because even though the world is ending in Walker's not-so-distant-future world it isn't the catastrophic global issues that tear the reader apart. It's a story about love, friendship, and family. About what happens when the world is unraveling in front of you, and all the mess that comes along with being a middle school girl just trying to discover where to belong in the world. Even as that world is slowly coming to a stop.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America ~ Erik Larson
Finished in May
Why I Read It: It's been on my to-read list for a very long time. The book club I host at the library chose it to read.
Why I Loved It: An incredible piece of creative non-fiction, Devil in White City, doesn't feel like it could be real, even when it is. Larson does all of the research for his books himself, and his writing is a cut above anyone else who is writing in this style. Both the fair and the murders are filled with mystery, suspense, tragedy, and intrigue. It made me want to travel back in time and attend the Chicago's Worlds Fair and inspired me to learn more beyond the pages of this particular book. 

Overall, I have to declare 2012 a win for contemporary literature. So many great books came out and peronsally I discovered so many enjoyable titles. If you'd like to see all of the books I read in 2012, check out my Goodreads Challenge page.  But be sure to share, dear readers, what your favorite books of the year were in the comments!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Shannon has read 43 books toward her goal of 52 books.


List #178: Songs for 2012

If I were to make a playlist of the songs that best describe my 2012, it would include the following. (Since this is my list, the songs don't actually have to be released in 2012. Only qualifications are heavy emotional attachment and repeated listening).

Somebody That I Used to Know ~ Gotye
I'm pretty sure I listened to this on a continuous loop on the days leading up to (and shortly after) my move. If there was ever a song that I didn't want to like, but liked completely, this would be it.  Torn between whose verses I liked better (Kimbra wins out). This song solidified any doubt that I had about being over someone who had long since left my life. And made me oh, so happy.

Winter Song ~ Head and the Heart
Honestly winter 2012 seems like a blur to me. I remember certain things like Chinese food, a birthday party for twins, early morning coffee, heavy feelings, lack of snow, and dissecting television shows. But memories of those cold months actually feel a little surreal. Yet I do remember listening to this song (and album) over and over before falling asleep  And now that winter has started yet again, I find myself doing the same thing. Bookends for the year.

Kiss with a Fist ~ Florence + The Machine
To be clear, this does not mean I was involved in an abusive relationship in any shape or form (I don't think she's singing about that anyway). But this song will always remind me of a guy who grew up in middle America and who I spent a good portion of 2012 mixed up with in many ways. Energetic, emotional, twisted, and slightly addicting. You sort of miss it when it's over. And you really didn't want it be over: banter, electricity, foreplay, and a whole lot more. I'm absolutely positive he has no idea this song reminds me of him. And he'd probably give me some crazy look and make fun of me, with a snarky comment, for attributing it to him. But "love sticks, sweat drips, break the lock if it don't fit" does it every single time.

Hold On ~ Alabama Shakes
Late summer, early fall. If you could have heard what was coming out of my earphones, Alabama Shakes would have been it. I want to be a Southern Rocker so badly. And I am may pretend (when I'm wearing a flouncy skirt and boots with no tights) that I can belt this song and transport myself to Alabama. 
Classy Girls ~ The Lumineers
For one, I feel like I've had this exact type of conversation in bars many times in my life. For two, The Lumineers remind me of Pacific Northwest travels. And also, as for the kissing that I did in 2012 I don't think any one of them happened inside a bar. Now, the streets outside of bars...that may be another story. 

West Coast ~ Coconut Records
This fall I returned to the West Coast for the fourth time in my life. I've been to California (twice), Oregon (once), and Washington (twice). This year I even added Vancouver. And though I don't think I could be happy in California,  I think I could be perfectly happy in the Pacific Northwest. This year's vacation was the best one I had ever given myself. It was filled with great friends, perfect weather, off-the-grid adventures. And thanks to Pandora loving this song on all of my stations, it was always make me think of autumn 2012 and my deep-hearted love and dreams of going back to the west coast.

Call Me Maybe ~ Carly Rae Jepsen 
Because, of course. 

So dear readers, what songs will forever go down as one you loved in 2012? Share in the comments!

List #177: A List of Things Your Single Friend is Not

I've reached the point in my life where my number of single friends is far less than the number of married and committed friends. Throw in a few friends and acquaintances who constantly jump from one long term relationship to the next, and it will shock you how few "comfortably single" statuses there really are in existence.

So, on behalf of all of us who find ourselves single more than in a relationship, I'm lending some insight.

  • Being single doesn't mean alone. On any given day there is conversation through through gchat, text, twitter, emails, and yes, sometimes even phone calls. 
  • Not having a significant other doesn't mean equal a lot of free time In fact, weeks are often booked solid with little wiggle room. 
  • Just because there is no significant other, doesn't mean there is no social life.. Nights often move beyond watching movies on the couch. There are dinner dates, clubs, meetings, new people to meet, and more. 
  • Seeing poems, stock photos, and "repost this if" posts on Facebook incite jealousy. It's just  wondrous why you have so much time on your hands and why you aren't spending it telling your significant other these things face-to-face.
  • Singledom doesn't automatically bring back a neglected friendship. Hurt feelings can last awhile.
  • Just because there is no dating during the holidays, doesn't mean there is no fun during the holidays. Please don't make a single friend a last-minute back up. They'll be kind enough to extend an invitation, but it doesn't mean they are waiting for the phone to ring.
  • Being single doesn't mean yearning for advice every minute of the day. Online dating?! Never heard of it! Surely it's not frustrating nor hard at all! 
  • A single person crying does not equal depression. Sometimes a good cry (or two) is needed to pack up and move on.
  • Single friends aren't perpetual sympathizers. Loyal friends, yes. But everyone has their limits.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side, remember.
Sorry for the rant, dear readers. But actually, it feels pretty good to get that off my chest.

Is anyone else someone whose constant state is more single than coupled? What would else would you like to add. I'm sure we've all got a few (I know I probably have a few more) so let's share.


List #176: A Year in Review

Someone wrote to me, inside a Christmas card, "I know 2012 hasn't been the greatest year for you but it seems like you had a lot of fun along the way." And I think that sums up the year perfectly.

I feel like it was a year of strength and progress. It was a steady year where I was able to let the foundation of me settle more, without too many earthquakes to shake up the progress. Even the bleak parts don't seem so bad when the whole year gets put into perspective.

A Whole Lot of Fun in 2012

So, here is what I did this year:
  • Moved into a new apartment.
  • Entertained friends in my new apartment.
  • Vacationed in Emerald Isle, NC.
  • Ate crab legs.
  • Swam in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since 1999.
  • Witness three friends get married.
  • Became a bridesmaid once, for a cousin.
  • Had someone cook me dinner for Valentine's Day.
  • Walk away from someone who wasn't giving me what I needed.
  • Walk right back to the same person.
  • Made secrets.
  • Kept secrets.
  • Wore a lot of dresses.
  • Had fun with a TV Boyfriend Bracket
  • Was in an accident.
  • Developed a Pulmonary Embolism.
  • Spent a week in the hospital.
  • Realized how much my friends and family loved me.
  • Cried my eyes out.
  • Adopted a little kitten.
  • Named the kitten Radley.
  • Went to a few Pirates games.
  • Went to a few Penguins games.
  • Went to no Steelers games.
  • Wished the NHL lockout would end.
  • Thought words and actions were sincere.
  • Was easily fooled.
  • Got on Root Sports after many tries.
  • Took a road trip to Charleston, WV with my favorite librarians and boys.
  • Went on vacation to Seattle.
  • Took a train to Vancouver.
  • Biked in Stanley Park.
  • Made friends with Beluga whales.
  • Slept in a fancy hotel room with a spectacular view.
  • Loved the Pacific Northwest. Again.
  • Ate poutine. 
  • Drank lots of wine and beer.
  • Soaked in a lot of bubble baths.
  • Took a surprise trip to Baltimore.
  • Was interviewed for Yinzpiration. 
  • Went on a few first dates.
  • Fell in love with knights at Medieval Times.
  • Wished I was Leslie Knope.
  • Made new friends from the Internet.
  • Had a few crushes. 
  • Caused a few crushes.
  • I walked in honor of my cousin
  • Didn't do as much as writing as I had hoped.
  • Traded tweets with Rick Sebak.
  • Finally closed the door on the person who occupied my time.
  • Bought a new bed that is just mine.
  • Listened to David Sedaris.
  • Danced in my living room.
  • Wished that Nick Miller would take me on a date.
  • Decorated my first Christmas tree.
  • Sent over 50 Christmas cards.
  • Got cookies from Santa.
  • Kissed a few men.
  • Laughed lots the best of friends.
  • Attended a professional conference.
  • Was heckled by a pierogi. 
  • Served as references.
  • Crossed my fingers.
  • Ate a lot of tacos and burritos.
  • Felt accomplished.
  • Felt inadequate.
  • Dreamed about the future.
So 2012 has a few more days left. And my wish for everyone, including myself, is to make the best that they can be. And look forward to 2013, hope for magic, and discover reasons to smile.


List #175: At the End of Christmas

Christmas 2012 is just wrapping up. I'm from a whirlwind few days seeing and greeting family members. There are no more gifts to be open, only a few more to give, and only one more day off. I hate when Christmas ends because it always feels like there is so much build up only to have it go away into the cold winter night so quickly.

But before this year's celebrations are over, a rundown of my own Christmas.

Christmas Things that Happened:
  • One Dad crying over presents. I haven't "won" this fake competition since college when I gave him the Godfather collection on DVD. Which I'm pretty sure he has only watched once.
  • One fight between a sibling because music was playing loud and probably a whole bunch of other reasons that are unsaid.
  • One text message wishing me a Merry Christmas from an unknown number. The casualties of updating your phone in the past year.
  • A new coat, art collection completed, charm, Nancy Pearl figurine, Starbucks gift card, lip balm, felt bag, hot rollers, baseball cap and so much more opened and appreciated.
  • Electric fireplace, clothes, record player, gloves, mugs given, opened, and appreciated.
  • Not-to tiny kitten snoozing. I will miss him sleeping by the tree.
  • New ornaments hung. To add to the collection.
  • Tears shed for missed loved ones. One in particular. And crying. Again.
  • One Christmas Eve worked. Which, well. Okay.
  • Emmet Otter watched, finally. With my mom, hot chocolate, cookies, and tea.
  • So many emotions of feeling blessed and happy and sad and lonely. Which I think is customary for most, so in turn, making me feel less lonely.
In general, Christmas 2012 was a nice holiday. It was standard, which means it was full of tradition and merriment. I was lucky enough to have my family in good health and together. And if you've ever had a sick loved one at Christmastime, you know is the only thing that truly matters.

Sure, Santa didn't deliver the grand gesture, the hopeful phone call, the love of my life walking in a door and immediately recognizing me.  But when a relative asked if someone special was in my life and I answered "not yet"  I followed it with (for some strange reason) "I know it's going to happen soon." And I truly felt it. Maybe I'm just being crazy, but I do really think that love is going to come in my life in a meaningful and lasting way. It just wasn't for this Christmas. And that's just fine.

So dear readers, I hope Santa was wonderful to you. I hope that many of your Christmas wishes came true. And if they didn't. let's just keep holding on together and hoping for next year.

Radley Cat knows Christmas should end.
Merry Christmas from me and mine, to you and yours. 


Letter #50: Thank You, Santa

Dear Santa,

Today I was home from work, using up one of my last vacation days of the year. I took some garbage out to the curb and came back to find mail had been delivered early.

And right there in the entry way was a box from the North Pole.

This was inside.

Lots of baked handmade goodies. 

I don't know who you are, special Santa. But you made a girl feel loved this holiday season. I don't get surprised packages all too often. So thank you. A lot. 

I tried to thank you on Facebook and on Twitter. But just in case you're not a fan of social media, I'll thank you here too. 

Santa and Me at the Library, 2012.

Merry Christmas, Santa Friend of Mine.
Ho Ho Ho.




List #174: Sometimes at the End of a Day

Sometimes you have a day where a lot of really good things happen. And that was my day. I got some sweet and thoughtful notes from storytime families and at the end of the day, their recognition and appreciation is really what matters most. It's a wonderful feeling when that happens. It's a glorious feeling when it happens more than once.

Sometimes you have a day when you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. And that was my day. Often I feel like the middleman. Balancing peace between people in my life. Not trying to take sides. Not trying to upset one or the other. And also trying to make my opinion known. It's tough.

Sometimes you have a day where you just want someone to show you a little attention. And that was my day. But the thing is, the men who are often bold about their interest in me are often the ones who can't really do anything about it. Or, maybe a more accurate statement most of the time, they aren't the ones you want. Noticeable rings on fingers, missing teeth, smelly, a little lost, noncommittal. I've got them all.

Sometimes you have a day where it just feels good to cry. And that was not my day. Yet. But a touching thank you, a preschoolers handwriting, a sappy book, another engagement posting, a forgotten memory, a hug, a missed friend, an unanswered prayer. It can all sort of sucker you in and soon enough you'll be blubbering beneath your lit tree.  It's not my finest moment.

And if it's one of those days, it's perfectly acceptable to come home and crack open a beer that was left at your house after a holiday party. It's a delight to fill up the tub with bubbles and a dream to keep refilling it with hot water when the warmth goes away. It's perfectly fine to finish a cheesy Christmas romance novel that ends with an engagement. And it's adorable to watch your kitten snuggle by your feet on the couch.

Sometimes I think that maybe one day, by the end of day, all my problems will be solved. They'll just sort of wrap up neatly and life will go on and I'll be free of thinking about all of the stuff that isn't right. Clearly I know this isn't going to happen. But sometimes, I just let me myself believe that today could be the day!

But sometimes on those days, even with all rain dumping sheets of water on the city, people you wish would call, seesaws you just can't balance. It all doesn't feel so bad.

It was definitely all of those gestures of kindess. And maybe it was the the bath, or the beer, or the cheesy book. Or maybe it's the tears that are almost there but I'll be damned if I let fall. But it just feels, even if I know in my heart I've still got a long and bumpy ride, like it could all be okay.

Maybe, right?


List #173: Things I Love About the Holidays, Part 3: Here We go a Caroling

I'm at the point in my Christmas cheer that I feel the need to binge on Christmas music. I can already see January creeping up on my calendar and that means the holidays will be over before we know and we'll have plunged into that cold, dark, deep dispair that is January, February, and a whole chunk of March. And nothing really gets you out of that funk no matter how good things in your life are going.

So I just feel like I better get my money's worth on Christmas even when I don't feel like it. This morning I actually found myself seeking out terrestrial radio because I was really sick of the same crap Pandora keeps playing. I wanted the classics, not indie singers reinventing the classics (which I do enjoy most of the time).

What are my classics?

Christmas Song ~ Alvin and the Chipmunks
Reminds me of Christmas at Allegheny. Roommates who always made you laugh. And annual Christmas parties that always included mistletoe in an old barn house that was always roasting.

All I Want for Christmas Is You ~ Mariah Carey
What woman in her 30s doesn't have a soft spot for this song? I love it anyway that I can get it. Girl singing at the of Love Actually? You bet. Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots? My new holiday favorite. 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ~ Judy Garland
Each year as I get older, I find myself feeling overwhelmed with such quick change. I see my own life going in directions that I could have never predicted. And I see my friends doing the same. I see people leave my life and so many wonderful people come into it. It's all a blessing really. But this song always makes me weepy and me wishing for a few more moments with the many people I once loved. And hoping that they are doing alright. 

Last Christmas ~ Wham!
This is my favorite modern day classic. The video is campy, the song contains whispering. But you know what? I unapologetically adore it. It reminds me all of those Christmases when I was so deeply in love, the days right after when I was torn apart, it reminds of me how wonderful life is now. But more than? More than anything? It reminds me of a Christmas spent on Greek Islands. Homesickness and wanderlust. It reminds me of old students and friends who were enamored with a remake . No other song transports me back in time as much so vividly. So much that I remember a television station that just played this video, the remake's video, and a video for a Greek Christmas song on repeat. For hours during the day. It reminds me of bus rides in the dark. But I think I'm saving all of that for another blog post. Just don't try to tell me you don't enjoy this song. Because I don't love it in an ironic way. I love it fiercely.

So dear readers, what songs do you have to seek out each Christmas? Did any of mine make your list? 


List #172: If Santa Claus was Coming to Town

Shh, I'm about to tell you a secret. Sometimes I wish Santa was real.

But I doubt that I'm the only one.

See? Other people wish Santa were real. Like fictional characters from one of the best television shows.

If the man in the big red suit really was coming down my chimney next wee, I would ask for a few things other than a KindleFire and a set of hot rollers. 
  • A sweet phone call from the person I keep thinking about.
  • More Christmas cards from loved ones.
  • A note of appreciation and acknowledgement for all of my hard work. 
  • A declaration of love.
  • Fantastic NYE plans that include a fancy dress. 
  • Health for all of my family and friends.
  • Not just a date, but a real and honest relationship.
  • Six months rent, paid.
  • Nights on the couch with someone who likes kissing me.
  • Peace.
  • Less horrific events, more happy events.
  • A day spent with my closest friends where no one has to rush off to prior engagements.
  • Enough wine to last a year.
  • More grand gestures.
  • A mild winter.
  • Love. Peace again. Happiness.
Does anyone else wish Santa was real? That man can work some serious magic. 


Letter #49: Notes on a Tragedy

Dear America,

There is nothing that I am going to say here that won't be said better by professional writers, journalists, and poets. I am just a woman who works with children in a city far away from this horrible tragedy that is so hard to even imagine. Except that it's real.

But I've cried three times today. Three times because I keep picturing little children crouching in a corner wondering what they hearing. Three times because I am trying to imagine what it must have been like for those teachers, trying to keep children who they love, safe. Three times because I keep wondering what it could possibly be like to tell lines of scared children to keep their eyes closed as they evacuated their school; a place that they have always thought of as safe, but suddenly was a massive crime scene.

And I will continue to cry as I think about those families who lost today. As I imagine what it must be like for those brothers and sisters to go home without their sibling. For those parents who have to mourn their children. For those teachers who are probably wondering what they could have done differently. For the rest of that school that has to find a way to cope this senseless act. For that community that now has too many holes in their heart.

I'll admit that this is the first mass shooting in a long time that has moved me to tears. It's a horrible thing to say, but when we live in a country where it has come to feel like one happens every week, it's hard not to become desensitized.

I grew up in a world much different than the children of Sandy Hook. The doors to my schools were open all of the time. People came and went as they pleased. No one questioned anything. But then I was a senior when Columbine happened and our country started to change. The rest of my senior year of high school was peppered with bomb threats and evacuations. People scared that whatever happened there could happen anywhere.

I was a teacher when Virginia Tech happened. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. And I casually slipped over to the adjoining room to let the head of the school know about that tragedy. It was easy to hide the news from the children. I simply blocked internet usage for the remainder of the day until they could go home to parents. I may have answered a few questions in the following days, but then it was over and we moved on.

And then there was L.A. Fitness shooting that happened in my neighborhood. I heard the sirens. My brother was arriving for his workout when people were fleeing the building. People from my school district died. Girls I had met before, friends of friends, were shot. The gunman had gotten a library card from my library. I used to work in a card store just steps away from the scene. That mass shooting was, quite literally, in my backyard.

But so many that were in-between and after? I can barely remember. And that is a tragedy in itself. Those victims should never be forgotten. We should have never arrived at a point in our country where we don't even bother to read all the stories about the latest shooting.

I won't pretend to have the answers to make these tragedies go away. There are people far more educated in regards to mental health and weaponry that me who will battle this out. But chance are very little will change anytime soon. However, there is no reason I can't make my voice heard. We all need to make our voices heard. If now is not the time to talk about reform and change, then I don't know when the conversation ever has a chance of evolving.

I will write my congressman. I will sign petitions. I will stick to my own opinion that we need better gun control in this country. That we need better health care so those who are suffering from mental illness can have access to affordable, quality treatment. I will try to break the stigma of mental illness so that those suffering don't have to feel ashamed or weak.

I don't believe that people died today because God has been removed from school.  I don't think that anyone died today because God has a special plan. I don't think metal detectors would have stopped this madman from his rampage. I don't think that each one of these shootings were caused by the same type of person. I don't think there are simple fixes to these problems.

What I do think is that we need change. We need to stop sitting-by watching 24-hour news dissect these unspeakable actions. Because they should never happen again.

And tonight, while I'm having trouble falling asleep because my mind keeps wandering into the homes of Sandy Hook, I will cry a few more tears and feel blessed that those I love are safe.




List #171: The Flip Side of Holiday Spirit

For one moment I'm going to get it all out there. I'm going to list all of the ways the holidays suck and then I'm going to move on. I know there is far too much to be thankful for in my life, especially during the holidays. But yet, every day more than one or two "if only..." thoughts creep up.

So tonight, I'm putting it all out there.* And then packaging it on up with a nice little bow. And throwing it out the window.

I dislike/hate/get sad about the following during Christmas 2012:

  • I have no desire to watch holiday movies alone. 
  • There will be no gifts under my own tree on Christmas day.
  • Paychecks are never big enough.
  • My holidays have never included a grand romantic gesture.
  • I hate worrying about New Year's Eve. Every damn year.
  • The number of times I'll have to answer "Are you seeing anyone?"
  • Christmas Eve without my favorite family member to dance and drink with.
  • Worrying I will forget someone in gift giving.
  • Wishing I had that special someone to buy for.
  • Feeling like another year has gone by without progress.
  • The way the holiday season has a way of heightening your fears and self-doubt.
  • Emotions about my patrons who may not have anywhere to go on Christmas.
  • Wanting to look my hottest when I'm eating my most.
  • Wondering if the persons I'm casually thinking about are casually thinking about me.
  • Feeling like not matter what I accomplish in a year, it's never enough.
  • Guilt over wishing days away.
  • Being genuinely disappointed that I didn't meet my "books to read" goal.
  • Wishing for some very unrealistic holiday magic.
  • Watching Hallmark/Lifetime Holiday movies and the self-hate and mix of feelings when they are over.
  • Being jealous of "perfect holidays" and "dreams come true."
  • Being scared of what might happen in the new year.
  • Being terrified of what might not happen in the new year.
Okay, that's it. I promise. I'll be back to waxing nostalgic and focusing on the reasons for the season later. But I really just wanted to come home to a guy making me a mug of hot chocolate, some presents wrapped under the tree, Love Actually on the TV, and a kiss on the forehead. 

Still hoping for magic in 2013. 

*Brenna is one of the most honest bloggers I know. It's hard for me to say what is wrong sometimes. So for her, I am thankful and inspired. 


List #170: Gifts for Under the Tree

I work in a non-profit. I give to my college every year. Along with a few other charities. Each holiday season I make sure that at least one child gets his/her Christmas wish fulfilled.

I don't cause drama online. I try not to say mean things about people.

I call my parents a few times a week and usually see them once.

I love my friends. I work hard.

I'm sweet and generous to a fault.

What am I getting at here?

There should be no doubt that I am on Santa's Nice List.

And just in case the man in red is reading blogs before he prepares for his trip around the globe, here are a few things that a Librarian in Pittsburgh would liked wrapped with a bow.

A Scratch Map--So that I can show off my travels from the living room.*
Cards from Sapling Press--Please note that they should include handwritten notes from people (or maybe if there is a holiday miracle, a guy) that I like.**

A Mirrored Dresser--Because I don't have any dresser, my bedroom needs some spice. And Oh, so pretty.***
Ron Swanson Advice--Because I need my own personal Ron in my world of Leslie.****

So a few these tangible for under the tree this year. Come on Santa, make a gal like me smile on Christmas morning.

*I've traveled more than some, yes. But the number of international destinations is not brag-worthy. But motivation! 
**I wouldn't mind some of these lovely cards to send to others too. But it's the type of stationery that makes me all swoony for love and inside jokes. 
***This specific dresser costs more than a paycheck.  But maybe Santa's elves can get on it?
****I actually want a whole pleothra of Ron/Leslie/Ben/Andy/April/Tom/Ann/Donna stuff. But not J(G)erry.


List #169: Things I Wish Would Stop Happening

  • Radley climbing up my Christmas tree
  • Kay Jewelers commercials
  • Elf on a Shelf photos on Facebook
  • This cough
  • Piles of laundry
  • That creepy brother-sister Folgers commercial
  • 9 months of Royal Baby talk
  • Getting dresses that aren't big enough for my boobs
  • Watching Christmas movies alone
  • Dirty dishes
  • Worry
  • Runners in tights
  • Crushes who won't speak up
  • Gollum
  • Insomnia
  • Distance between friends
  • Fiscal Cliffs
  • Haunting memories
  • Grinches
  • Competition
  • Lack of happy surprises 


List #168: Things I Love About the Holidays 2: Christmas In My Home

Though this isn't the first holiday that I have spent alone, it is the first holiday where I am in a house (well, apartment) that is mine, all mine, and in the United States. And then though I feel restless a good amount of the time, I'm more settled than I have been at any other point in my life. I have a cat for goodness sake.

I have to admit, it's been a blast.

There's garland hanging from the archway between my dining and living rooms. 

This was done out of necessity to keep my favorite ornaments high out of the cat's grubby paws. 

There are stars hanging in my front windows. And my Nutcracker collection lines the shelf. And today I put together my first Christmas tree. Artificial and prelit. A Santa topper and vintage glass bulbs from boxes my has kept through time.

The tree borrowed from a friend.

I have no desire to leave the twinkling sparkles of my living room. And now that the cat isn't climbing the tree, he doesn't seem to mind it either. And for all of this, in a world of my own, I am thankful.


Letter #48: To the Last Month of the Year

Dear December,

You started this morning while I was still sleeping underneath covers, mildly aware of a draft coming in from a bedroom window. I whispered "rabbits, rabbits" before leaving the bed and took a long, hot shower. The cat meowed and was fed. I straightened my hair and got ready for work as the day started to break.

Your first day was barely beginning but I already listened to this song a half dozen times.
I've thought about the family member I miss the most and watched this video for the first time this holiday season. Picturing her and myself as the little girls in this video going on with adventure despite the bleak darkness of winter. And I cried because I miss her.

I treated myself to a chai tea in a new mug and imagined what the first day of December feels like on the other side of the country. 

I remembered December's past that felt warm and whole. And remembered that I cried for some of those too.

I thanked Mother Nature for temperatures in the 50s. And wore my red trench coat instead of something heavy.

Then I said one of those silent, personal prayers to all of December asking for more sweetness than sadness as the year wraps up. I hoped for treats and less troubles. I started reflections on what 2012 has meant to me but wondering if the last days will have any great shifts. Wondered if the Mayans might be right, and wondered what the fuss will be like on their last day. 

And then I started the first day of the last month of the year. It was time to go to work and light up the neighborhood. All the while, holding my breath while the year ends.