List #229: Things That Happened in 2013

I wanted to make a photo collage for this post, but I ran out of time today. And I still don't have my own working computer. So hopefully I'll wrap one up before the weekend. But even without the photos, 2013 was a pretty adventurous year.

In 2013, I:
  • Spent many nights soaked in a bubble bath.
  • Worried that I was making all of the wrong choices.
  • Was let down.
  • Visited New York City/North Carolina/West Virginia/Nashville/Washington, DC/New York City,
  • Ate soup.
  • Practiced yoga.
  • Cuddled with my cat.
  • Planned my college reunion.
  • Attended my college reunion.
  • Watched a lot of Parks and Recreation.
  • Became a Tom Hiddleston fan.
  • Sent a lot of emails.
  • Read 52 books.
  • Walked for Melanoma.
  • Mentored new librarians.
  • Misspelled a lot of words.
  • Met a man.
  • Swooned.
  • Fell in love.
  • Loved a baby.
  • Moved homes.
  • Yelled at my cat.
  • Watched musicals.
  • Rented clothes.
  • Struggled with emotions.
  • Had a hard time falling sleep.
  • Had a hard time waking up.
  • Kissed a lot on the couch.
  • Missed faraway friends.
  • Spent too much time on the Internet.
  • Said goodbye to my grandfather.
  • Missed those that aren't with us anymore.
  • Cheered on the Pirates.
  • Shouted for the Pens.
  • Hoped better for the Steelers.
  • Cared little about college sports.
  • Met families. 
  • Made a bunch of party hats.
  • Felt grateful for friends that feel like family.
  • Took a few selfies.
  • Ate in new restaurants.
  • Felt inadequate. 
  • Felt on top of the world.
  • Danced the hokey pokey.
  • Worried.
  • Patroned a honky tonk.
  • Wandered around the National Mall. 
  • Let the Atlantic Ocean lap at my ankles.
  • Walked in Central Park.
  • Saw Mary Kate Olsen on the street.
  • Woke up from nightmares.
  • Snored.
  • Decorated a real-live Christmas tree.
  • Drank gallons of tea.
  • Felt lucky. So so lucky. 
2013 was a good, good year. So good that truthfully, sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming. And I hope that 2014 brings lovely things our way: continued good health, love, adventure, and peace. To you, to me, to our family and friends, and everyone in between. 

Happy New Year, Dear Readers. Feel free to share your memories in the comments. 

List# 228: Songs for 2013

2013 has been a whirlwind. It's the year I worked hard and wondered what was next, visited far away places with friends, worried about money, and kept my cat happy. But it was also the year I met a man and fell in love, welcomed a baby into my life, moved into a new home, and felt really lucky.

Like many years that had come before it, 2013 was a tough one at times. But unlike many years that came before it, 2013 was kind of filled with a lot of the magic I was hoping it for. And these are the songs that will forever make me remember it all. Actually, I'd say that these albums really remind me of 2013, as I think I played them all more than once or twice. But these are the songs that define them all will forever be rooted in my brain when "this thing happened in 2013."

Blurred Lines ~ Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams , T.I
Not everyone is a fan of this song, and I respect that. But to me, it summarizes the summer of 2013. It's the trip to North Carolina along side the boyfriend. And hot workdays spent inside the library laughing with a good friend. And conversations with a long-distance friend about what we would actually want to hear whispered in our ear. It's dorky dance moves and recording it all on video. It is the happiest song I can think of to describe a stellar summer.

Thrift Shop ~ Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz
Winter 2013 was the time I took up yoga for a few months. With good friends in a heated room in the middle of a cold night, I was challenging my body. I should get back into this practice, as I lost it when the weather got nice, but during those nights when I had to force myself to stay in uncomfortable positions for longer than I thought possible, I would sing this song to be motivated. And then again, when I met the boy and we had fun around our city singing, discussing Macklemore's Instagram, and talking about how much we'd love to be friends with him. 

Hopeless Wanderer  ~ Mumford & Sons
I first watched this video in a hotel room in Nashville, TN. It was hot, humid, and I was exhausted from a week of intense library training, and I was getting dressed for another long day. It kind of combined all of my favorite things: men with guitars, laughs, and Jason Sudeikis. Plus, a few weeks later I would convince the boyfriend on a random Thursday that we should buy lawn tickets to their Pittsburgh concert. It was spontaneous, something our schedule doesn't always encourage, and really just topped off the rest of the summer. They aren't his favorite band, this isn't his favorite type of music, but he was game for me. And then, we found my brother at the end and laughed hysterically for hours as we battled traffic on the way home.
Royals ~ Lorde
Let me be clear, more than any other song or album, I played Pure Heroine on repeat from start to finish over and over and over again during the later part of the year. I'm talking there were hours of the day when I would sit at my desk, with one headphone in my ear, plugging away at work listening to this teenager. There aren't too many people who are underage that I would want to be for a day. But I would definitely be Lorde. Or I'd at least like her hair.

I guess you could say I had a pop-y year.

So, dear readers, what songs will have you remembering 2013? Share them in the comments.


List #227: Best Books of 2013

At the start of 2013 I pledged to read 52 books in a year. I know that many people think that since I am a librarian that I can spend most of my day reading books, but oddly enough librarian doesn't mean you earn a paycheck by turning pages all day long. In fact, there are often days at a time where I don't even read one page of a novel.

But somehow in 2013, I did it. I managed to read the equivalent of one book a week for fifty-two weeks. Though truthfully some weeks I read two or three, and others I binged on Netflix and People magazine. I'm even more proud of this goal when I think about how busy work was, how unexpectedly busy my personal life became, and how many times I left my book by my bedside and couldn't read during my lunchtime. 

So, like I've done the past two years, I give you my top 5 favorite books of 2013. The only criteria being that I had to have read them in 2013. They may or may not have been published over the course of the year; instead, they are just new to me.

Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell
Finished in May
Why I Read It: One of the reasons I wanted to read 52 books in one year was to force myself to different genres. I often stick to Contemporary Fiction and learn about the rest through reviews and word-of-mouth. There was a lot of good buzz about this YA novel from both reviews and mouths. 
Why I Loved It:  Rowell writes about the teenage experience, but sets her story in 1986. And though I was only five in 1986, I feel like my own teenage experience was more like Eleanor and Park's than it is for today's generation that can fill their days with Internet, for better or worse. It's filled with heartache and heartbreak, friendship, and those secrets you just don't want anyone to know. And sure, it's about teenagers but it's just about the best love story I've read in years. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane ~ Neil Gaiman
Finished in September
Why I Read It:  Simply, I picked up because my boyfriend read it on a business trip and came home telling me I needed to read it too. It's rare thing when someone recommends a book that I absolutely love. Only my closest and most trusted companions have succeeded in this challenge. But also, because it's been a few years since I read Gaiman and this book was short enough for me to give it a go.
Why I Loved It:  Gaiman is the only writer I've read encountered who can manage to be both spooky and sad at the same time. The story of a man recalling his childhood is both figuratively and literally haunting. It's the type of book you want to tell everyone about and the type of book you won't forget long after it's over.

The Last Girlfriend on Earth ~ Simon Rich
Finished in February
Why I Read It: As a collection of short stories, it ticked off a box on the different sort of works I was trying to sample throughout the year. The author is a writer for Saturday Night Live (and I love Saturday Night Live). And the title is just amazing. 
Why I Loved It:  Rich's collection of short stories illustrates that not all short stories need to be serious pieces about broken families and all those other sad things people have been writing in fiction classes since the dawn of time. These stories made me laugh out loud during the longest days of winter, while also sticking to my heart. Love is often sad, but love is also ridiculously funny.

Back Roads ~ Tawni O'Dell
Finished in September
Why I Read It: I grabbed it off my library's shelves one Friday when none of my requested items had been delivered. It's one of those titles that gets on lists, that Oprah recommended, that people talk about, and the author sets her stories in Western PA and surrounding areas.
Why I Loved It:  Love is not, perhaps, the word I would use to describe my feelings towards this book. It's so disturbing, morose, and emotionally haunting that I'm not quite sure when I'll pick up another O'Dell novel. But it's also the story, with all of its grit, abuse, and horrendous conditions, that still haunts my memories more than any other book I've read in years.

Life After Life ~ Kate Atkinson
Finished in May
Why I Read It:  I found the cover intriguing, the reviews glowing, and I was craving some history.
Why I Loved It: I don't think there is anyone who ever wondered what would happen if they could go back and alter moments in their life and Atkinson plays with this "what if" over and over again. It's just that her main character must die, each and every time, before she can begin again. The most imagintive and unique book I read in 2013, Atkinson's novel layers history, personal choice, and fate into a story that is for the ages. 

There were many more books that I loved this year that didn't make it into my official top five. And if you're interested in any of the other titles, you can check out my Goodreads list. 

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Shannon has completed her goal of reading 52 books in 2013!
Here's to great adventure and good stories in the new year! And please, share your favorite 2013 reads in the comments.


List #225: Christmas Songs, Number 5

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel ~ Various Artists
But here, Kelly Clarkson

I went to Catholic school for eight years. And if you ever were a Catholic school child during Advent, you know well that the mornings begin with the lighting of the Advent wreath.  And at least in my school, the requirement that all students sing this song in a dark hallway together. 

I'm not a particularly religious person now that I'm an adult. Spiritual,  yes, but  I'm certainly not a practicing Catholic. Yet, any version of Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel stirs me more than it ever did as a student on cold December mornings. I love it now not because I carry on Advent traditions in my own home, but because it reminds me of my childhood Christmases. How childhood friendships felt so absolute and how teachers would play Christmas carols on cassette tapes before class began. 

So even though I won't be in church on Christmas Eve this year, and even though I don't even know where one would buy an Advent Wreath. I'm going to turn the volume up each time I hear this song. 


List #224: Christmas Songs, Number Four


Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan and Chris Kattan ~ I Wish It Was Christmas Today
And here because the video won't embed.
I'm in that minority of people who have never really stopped watching Saturday Night Live. I started viewing regularly as a teenager, was obsessed in college, and kept right on chugging through good casts and bad casts and every cast in between. And in the joyous days of the late 2000s, this gem was born. Everything that is great about SNL is included here:  a goofy idea, buddies being silly, choking back laughter, snow, and of course, dinosaur noises.
I listen to this song through grainy YouTube videos regularly during the holiday season. It makes me laugh and let's me chat with friends about how funny these men are, how Jimmy Fallon once mistakenly called a girl a boy through an entire stand-up set at our college, and how hot Horatio Sanz got. I cross my fingers every year that Jimmy Fallon will come back and host the Christmas episode of SNL. And then I watch live, hoping that these alums will come back to silently dance and play the keyboard and warm my heart with Christmas spirit.
He's hosting this year, with Justin Timberlake as musical guest. So I will be staying up and watching, of course. And they better play this song. Sure, Dick in the Box was legendary. But this one is the spirit of the season.
Heck, even Salon wrote about it. And I love their idea for the future.


List #233: Christmas Songs, Number Three

Winter Song ~ Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson

Sometimes in the middle of decorating trees, buying gifts, visiting family and friends, and all of things that are red and green in December, it can feel like there isn't any room for moments of anything less than jolly. 

But my December is always a little bit sad. So I play this song. Over and over again to let out a few tears. 

This songs make me remember when it actually snowed on Christmas Eve and pretty red party dresses. I remember big bangs and wishing for Barbie dolls. I remember 50/50 and cookies in small kitchens. 

I remember the last Christmas spent dancing in a heated garage. The last gifts we would ever laugh at with love. I remember the last present she ever gave me. Handmade. Still in a box. Tucked into a secret corner of my bookcase. 

Time moves on and circumstances change. More love comes into our world than could have predicted. But the love we have for those special people? I believe it never goes away. So when I cry, it's not because I've forgotten. It's because every bit of me still feels like it was just a few moments ago. 

This Christmas is going to be wonderful, for so many different reasons and in ways that still surprise me. But no Christmas is the same anymore. And sometimes, I just want to sit in a dark room, lit up by the twinkle of lights on the tree, and remember what it was like before. And hope that all of this love isn't just going nowhere. 


List # 232: Songs of Christmas, Number One and Two

Now that it really is truly the time for Christmas, I've been listening to carols and mustering the energy to decorate. I'm fixing myself to be jolly even when the daily part of my life has me feeling a little frazzled and anxiously awaiting payday. So, in hopes that you'll join in and find more than your normal amount of cheer this year, I'm going to list a few of my favorite Christmas songs and carols and recall whatever memories just happen to cross my mind when I listen to them over and over and over again. And the way they make me feel.
Up first, arguably my most favorite. If I were the type of person to have a favorite. 
Wham ~ Last Christmas

This is the Christmas song that I turn up and sing loudly. It's the perfect blend of campy and heart-breaking. It reminds me of buying the Christmas tree a few weeks before the first big break up. Of swearing to have a little more to show off next year. Of wishing that maybe at Christmas a ski chalet awaits instead of limited time off paired with slushy snow. It reminds me of every ex I have ever known during the holiday season and how my heart felt as lonely as George's.

One ~ Last Christmas
Pair it with the above version, and I'm reminded of preparing for a Christmas in a tiny apartment in a foreign country. I'm taken back to a time when I was younger than I realized and more homesick than I'd admit. It reminds me of drifting off on a bus ride to Athens on the night before Christmas Eve. It's showing Christmas movies to students. Rushing off to the town square for hot chocolate and spirits. It's ordering fast food and watching this video on a loop on the first flat screen TV I'd ever seen. It's the quick blur of colored lights next to the sea. It's rushing off on an foreign island to find Christmas gifts for the friends from home. And eating Christmas dinner inside an ancient castle.
So dear readers, are you a Last Christmas fan? Shout your love in the comments.


List #231: Thankful

When I lived in Greece many years ago, I asked my students what they thought Thanksgiving was about in America. They told me it was America's way to practice for Christmas.

The holiday homesickness was settling in around that time. I would not be returning home for Christmas and knowing that all of my loved ones were busy doing American things was sad. So I got my friends together and we had a Thanksgiving party in biggest apartment. We bought chicken breasts, I cooked some type of couscous dish, we had green beans (maybe), and corn, and wine. Someone brought Ferrer Roche and it was warm enough for us to be able to drink on the balcony.  Actually, I think it was really starting to get cold that night, but we went out on the balcony anyway.

That year I was thankful for Greek beaches, Vodophone, retzina, new friends, weekends off, and family and friends who wrote me emails, chatted with me on AOL Instant Messenger, and supported my adventure. Often when I think about that time now, I can't believe I actually did it. It seems so far away, so much a part of life that was almost like a movie. I was watching it all unfold, experiencing the plot twists, but the fine details seem blurry now like I almost didn't touch them at all.

Lots of things have happened since the year I tried to share American tradition with the Brits, the French, and the Greek. And there is so much more for which to be thankful:

  • Family. Who make me laugh, always support my decisions, and cheer on new directions.
  • Friends. Who feel like family.
  • The boyfriend. Who makes me laugh, is so kind and considerate, and who likes to read in bed too.
  • A baby. Who is nothing but giggles and smiles.
  • My job. That is fulfilling and thrilling and different every day.
  • Radley Cat. Who is so ridiculous that his favorite toys are coffee stirs and bottle brushes.
  • A warm house. With bright windows and a big couch. 
  • Great coworkers. Who are good teammates and often friends. 
  • Books. Because I appreciate the freedom to read and learn.
And, a whole bunch of small things that kind of sound like a list that could be written at preschool storytime:

  • lip gloss, a fixed desk chair, conditioner, gloves, scented candles, Chinese takeout, tights, flowers, Coca-cola, tea, board games, dresses, the Sunday paper, and purses.
Happiest of Thanksgivings to you. 


List #230: Cha-Cha-Changes...of the address variety

This weekend I did this.
I own many pairs of shoes and assorted children's toys.

So as of right now, my apartment looks something like this.
We found 1 bent knitting needle, a lone purple crayon, dusty lightbulbs, a lot of sunscreen, and eventually the matching knitting needle. Also bent. And found in a different closet. 
Related: The boyfriend is a very patient man. 

When I moved into my apartment nearly two years ago, I assumed that any man I date would have the lesser abode. I thought my mediocre apartment with a retro farmhouse sink and really ugly carpet would win out because it was spacious and warm and didn't include roommates and wasn't a place for hoarders. Based on some of my previous experience, this assumption was not farfetched. 

However, that assumption turned out to be wrong. And now I am moving in with the boyfriend. 

The space will be tiny-ish, the neighborhood convenient but not permanent, our neighbors younger than us. It will be filled with too many clothes, lots of bottles, tea mugs on the coffee table, and bottles of water under bedside lamps. But we're making it ours. 

And in doing so, many things have happened:
  • We've been to Ikea twice in one day.
  • The cat has lived here for three weeks.
  • Three closets have been emptied.
  • We've wondered if someone is randomly shaving in my bathroom.
  • New keys have been made.
  • A cat escaped his carrier.
  • An ongoing battle of stray litter has begun.
  • A kitchen has been painted.
  • Tile has been selected and purchased.
  • Shelves await installation.
  • Brownies have been baked.
  • The house has been taken over by pine-scented soaps and candles.
  • Laundry has been forgotten.
  • One Hallmark movie has been watched.
  • The New York Times has been delivered. 
  • Parents have brunched.
  • And so many other things.
But somewhere along the way, my apartment started to feel like a storage place and not my home. My bed became the one that didn't provide a restful night's sleep. And the better shampoo was found in his shower, not mine. 

There is still more time before the keys to my place get turned over to the landlord. In fact, I'll still have the apartment for a few more months. But all of my clothes are gone and the rest of its contents is slowly being emptied. 

I'm getting used to calling this place home. The boyfriend seems to like having me here. And Radley is making himself comfortable.


List #229: Things I Shouldn't Tell Anyone (And a Few Things Everyone Should Know)

  • I find myself watching Toddlers & Tiaras more often than one should.
  • I have no idea what the fox says.
  • I miss my bubbie when I sleep at the boyfriend's.
  • Blue cheese makes me throw up in my mouth.
  • Sometimes I'll wear my tights twice before washing them.
  • I have no problem eating a stray peanut M&M from the bottom of my purse.
  • I've been reading a monthly horoscope for years.
  • I'm really glad that Halloween is over.
  • I haven't listened to Christmas music yet (and I won't) but I really really want to.
  • I've lost the guts to wear colorful tights.
  • Sometimes I forget to turn out lights.
  • I should learn to cook more things.
  • I think Modern Family is overrated.
  • I often find myself singing the theme song to Full House in the shower. 
  • I still love being a librarian.
  • I still love making out.
  • I don't like dessert wine.
  • I've never had Mad Mex's Gobblerito.
  • Tights are always better than pants.
  • I will never say no to nachos.
  • I snore.
  • I have only watched episode of SNL this season. 
  • I've fallen asleep before 9:00 pm on a Saturday night. Recently.


Guest Post #5: The Time I Forgot About Alex

I'm starting this post with an apology. An apology to my dear blogging friend Alex over at Everybody Loves You. See, Alex is one of those super cool bloggers who never lets his readers down. He blogs regularly, he's funny, he organizes cross-blogging activities for other Pittsburgh bloggers, he's in a blogging fantasty football league (well, we both do that), he's really good at yoga, he's back in school earning another degree, and he has a baby son. He posts a lot of Instagram photos of that baby son and I will admit, he's a pretty cute baby.

And I have no idea how Alex manages to do all of this at any given time.

See, back in June I asked Alex to guest blog for me. And he did. And then my computer died and my blogging abilities started to suffer. I met a man and fell in love, and I started to question all of the things I really wanted to share here.

Oh, and a little baby burst onto the scene too. Don't worry, I didn't give birth and not tell anyone. And I'm not a celebrity who orchestrates adoptions behind the scenes. It's just that my very tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend is also a dad. A pretty awesome and amazing Dad too. Chances are if you know me well, you might know a good amount about this part of my life. But the fact that my life just kind of popped in a little baby is kind of unbelievable at times. You might have a hard time believing it, because frankly, sometimes I still have a hard time believing it.

But the fact that Alex can blog, dress himself, listen to Drake, tweet funny things, work, be a husband, and a father, and not drop the ball on anything is a wonderment to me. Especially considering I couldn't even manage to get his guest post up in a reasonable amount of time.

Alex is doing it right, you guys. So go on over, read his blog, and wonder just "how does he do it?"
I'm sure he'd love to share some tips.

An Engineer’s List & Letters – List #1: Labor, Delivery & Recovery Recount

My wife and I checked into Magee Hospital at 11:00pm on Wednesday, May 15. Our baby boy was delivered the next evening, and we checked-out of the postpartum unit that Sunday at 1:00pm. Below is a list of things I learned during our 86-hour experience.

  • Some nurse’s smoke.
  • Oakland has its fair share of shady characters.
  • The Italiano Grilled Cheese sam’iche at Hello Bistro is the perfect lunch. Especially when paired with a White Lightning Witbier.
  • Ellen Degeneres’ wardrobe is extremely similar to mine. I mean, I’m sure her cardigans are J. Lindeberg in lieu of J. Crew and she has a Rolex Yacht-Master while I have a G-Shock, but our looks are near exact and I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or not…
  • Pain trumps modesty. More people saw my wife’s privates during one day of labor than have seen mine throughout my entire life.
  • The nori (seaweed) chips at Sushi Fuku are the exception to the rule that anything fried is delicious.
  • Epidurals are amazing...when they work.
  • Procreation doesn’t discriminate. I was one of the few new-dads that wore shirts with sleeves and didn’t have a face tattoo.
  • Other than Ellen, daytime television sucks.
  • I really thought that I would cry when my son was born, but I didn’t. I felt the tears starting to well up, but my wife was pretty nervous during the delivery and I figured it was best for me to maintain my composure to help keep her calm. It’s like my brain told my heart to put it all aside and we’ll get to it later. I can still feel it inside of me, and I’m sure any day now it will come out. I’m just hoping it doesn’t happen while I’m in a tanning bed ‘cause that would be dangerous.
  • Post-birth boobs are huge…but busy
  • Some nurses are angels.
  • Sleeping in jeans on a couch sober is much more uncomfortable than sleeping in jeans on a couch drunk.
  • A lot more comes out of there than just a baby.
  • I really envy people that get to wear scrubs to work. They look so comfortable.
  • Babies are awesome.


List #228: Boyfriends and Cats

When I first adopted my cat Radley last fall, I had some visions of how I saw the whole thing playing out.

  • My cat would be the best cat.
  • My apartment would always be better than any future date's apartment. 
  • All future partners would prefer to sleep in my bed over theirs. 
  • I would not meet someone allergic to cats.
  • Anyone who dated me would have to love my (awesome) cat.
Well, in reality, pretty much all of those minus the first have been wrong. My cat is still the best cat. But the boyfriend is a man who has a fully stocked bar at his house, a lot on his plate, and a severe allergy to cats. Oh, and my apartment is pretty crappy.

But this weekend, Radley came for a visit to the boyfriend's. I was pretty much in my bliss and deemed only the tiniest thing missing. 

Here is a list of a few things that happen when boyfriends and cats mingle:
  • Crying while stuck in closed-tunnel traffic.
  • Hiding under a new couch with plush carpet.
  • Fearing the Swiffer on a morning of cleaning.
  • Pawing blankets on cold nights.
  • Laughing a cat who is a neb-nose in the windows.
  • Smiling when hearing the boyfriend call the cat "buddy."
  • Sneezing. But not as much as one would think.
  • Cuddles on the couch.
Overall, I'd say we all deemed it a success.

This is Radley hanging out under the table . He seems pretty pleased. 

It was a pretty fabulous weekend. And in related news, I can't believe I wrote this blog post.


List #227: Music for Lazy Weekend Mornings in the Fall

October has been a whirlwind. Too much on the plate, too many events to attend, too many work-trips to balance, mini-getaways to appreciate. In short, it's been a month of happiness and gratitude. But this weekend, with the exception of celebrating my mother's birthday, nothing is on the agenda.

And since the weather forecast says cool, I say open your windows wide and snuggle under the blankets.  It's going to be the kind of weekend to read books, drink cider, eat Chinese food, and it if it's possible, to have a few rounds of morning sex. Or perhaps, wander into a bookstore and chat up the cute person next to you and invite them to the nearest coffee shop for a continued discussion on how horrible James Patterson actually is. To each their own, but to each a soundtrack of quiet, happy, and content moments.

Here's what I'll be playing:


List #226: Rain and Thoughts on Wednesdays

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting my apartment's windows. There was a heavy chill in the air and because I worked the late shift at the library, I got to burry down deep inside my blankets, let the cat cuddle up beside me, and drift off to a morning lie-in. It was nothing short of glorious.

I've probably admitted numerous times before that I much prefer this type of day (cool, grey, slightly rainy) than to a scorcher of heat and humidity. Quite honestly, it felt like perfection. And the only thing missing were the people, big and tiny, that I miss in the morning.

It was a good morning for a soak in the tub, some fall reading, and thinking.

I thought of lots of things this morning:
  • New friends
  • Hard work
  • Saying sorry
  • How to be a better friend
  • Old lovers
  • Scarves and sweaters
  • Ways to keep my cat happy
  • London in autumn
  • Leftover vacation days
  • Moving on up and over
  • Sign language
  • Sororities
  • Deep lines
  • Cooing
Here's to autumn days, falling leaves, and memories that make us happy for the present and eager for the future.


List #225: Songs To Remember 31

Often when I'm listening to music I find myself thinking "I will always remember this song." So many of my memories and feelings are rooted in verses.

And ten years down the road, I'm quite certain that this little group of songs will always remind me of what it felt like to be 31.

Blurred Lines 
Robin Thicke featuring TI and Pharrell Williams
To be played when you want to dance, of course. And reminiscent of summer afternoons stuck inside and planning summer reading at a desk. Laughing with a best friend, in a never-ending conversation, even when she's miles away. Spur-of-the-moment vacations to North Carolina. It's the song I imagine will make my future children embarrassed when I sing it loudly and proudly. And who really, who is the hottest bitch in this place. 

Hopeless Wanderer
Mumford & Sons
Because it's hilarious and Jason Sudekis and Mumford & Sons. All together. When this video was released I was away from home at a work conference. And I couldn't stop replaying it from my hotel room. But mostly it will remind me of spontaneity on one of the last remaining nights of summer. How much someone wanted to make me happy. My brother. And never-ending trips home in the dark of a hot and sticky August night.

Classy Girls
The Lumineers
For crip (and cold nights) soaking in the bathtub with a good book. And daydreaming about not kissing in bars. It's just a sweet and hopeful song for a sweet and hopeful year. We'll drink beers with you, but you have to take us out of the bar to kiss us.

When I Was Your Man
Bruno Mars
For sad nights alone, for drinking wine with girlfriends, for remember just how lucky you are without him. Because when you've been the ins and outs of love, when you've been the girl who has had her heart broken, when you've repeatedly seen your friends get passed over, a good song of regret is a wondrous thing. He's right, you shoulda bought us flowers when you had the chance.

Bring on the songs in 32. 


List #224: I Don't Know About You, But I'm Feeling 32

Being 32 means loving that you're a lot more like this than like this

This Saturday, on September 28, I'll wake up and I will turn 32. I'm not doing a whole lot to celebrate my birthday, but a big rubber duck is floating its way on into Pittsburgh, so in some ways I kind of feel like the whole city is throwing me a birthday party. 

When I was younger, 32 was always my age of destination. I have said, numerous times, to friends that by 32 I wanted to be in a career that I loved, in a relationship that was going somewhere, and well, be happy. 

Year 31 was a blast. It might be on record as my best year yet, even though I will fully admit that there were moments of darkness. Not everything in my life is exactly how I would want it in my perfect dreamland. And things are certainly not arranged in a way that I envisioned when I was 22. But I think acceptance, grace, and humility come with the 30s package. So it's a little easier to stomach all that we don't have. 

Last year, you may remember I recapped what I thought during year 30. And without further ado, here's what I thought about in year 31. 
  • I really wish Justin Timberlake would release a new album
  • Holy Crap! Justin Timberlake is releasing a new album!
  • Why is my cat obsessed with door frames
  • How can I save money
  • I wish I had a new computer
  • Not a whole lot about men that don't matter
  • Should I make out with him
  • Why shouldn't I make out with him
  • What is my next move going to be
  • How do I get my hands on a 3D printer
  • Holy Crap! The Pirates just might be good this year
  • I miss friends that aren't in Pittsburgh
  • Oh, people are now having their second baby
  • Where can I get a fancy cocktail
  • You can buy Costco brand alcohol and beer?!
  • When am I going to meet a man who wants to commit
  • You are not an expert
  • Holy Crap! The Pirates are good this year
  • How can I win at Fantasy Football
  • What is, exactly, the best Fantasy Football team name
  • Don't run
  • This is it
  • Assorted things about Justin Timberlake
  • Assorted things about Jason Sudekis
  • Assorted things about Adam Scott
  • Assorted things about Jimmy Fallon
  • How in the world am I going to read 52 books this year
  • I am falling in love
  • Oh baby
  • Sharing a bed is preferred to sleeping alone
  • I spend not enough time in my apartment
  • Success! Baristas now my basic order
  • I still hate my stomach
  • I can't believe I'm going to my college reunion
  • Am I doing downward facing dog properly?
  • How does she bend that way
  • I am in love
  • Seattle/Vancouver/New York/North Carolina/Nashville/DC/NewYork
  • I love Pittsburgh
  • Dreaming of her was a most wonderful thing
  • How we teach history in school
  • Why do Canadians love Police Academy
  • Should I order Chinese food
  • When can I see him again
  • I love you, I love you, I love you
I don't know what year 32 has in store for me. I'm sure some of it will be good, some of it will be not-so-good, and some of it will just be. 

Am I ready for everything that might come way in the next 365 days? No, probably not. But I'm going to give it my best shot. 


List #223: Things You Think About in September

In September, I think about:

  • When it will be cold enough to wear a dress...and boots.
  • Just what I should do to celebrate my birthday.
  • How much I miss buying school supplies. 
  • What it felt like to start a new school year. 
  • And how much I don't miss going to school as a young child.
  • Just where, oh where, can I go on vacation.
  • Affirmation that fall is the best time to travel.
  • New TV, I anticipate your return. 
  • Honestly, it's time to start thinking about Christmas gift.
  • How can I buy all of the cardigans?
  • Pumpkins. In flavor, in scent, in beer, in patches. 
  • Just how lucky I am.
So what does September make you think about, dear readers? 


List #222: Why I Love the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are about to have their first winning season since 1992. I was 11 in 1992. I only vaguely remember that season. But I do remember Barry Bonds, and Three Rivers Stadium. I remember making a fake bet with a family friend who lived in Atlanta. I work black & gold to school, I'm sure of it. And though for certain that they would do it again. And soon. Because I was young and na├»ve.

But they are about to do it again. And the city is on fire with pride. And quite frankly, it's refreshing to have it be September, on the cusp of the true Steeler season, and hear very little people talk about football.

I've written about my relationship with baseball before. But since I was born and raised in this city that supports its sport teams through thick and thin, I thought another type of list was due.

Here why I love the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Because we have fireworks.
Not after every game. But since Pittsburgh LOVES Fireworks. After many games.
Because I'm in the Lady Bucs Club (Thanks to a Best Friend)
And this is how close we sit!

Because take a look at our mascot!
He's a parrot! He's sometimes raunchy! And I've met him!
Because I actually attend games.  

And then get to waive this awesome Jolly Roger flag made by my best friend.
Because you can spin a wheel and win prizes!
Even though I never won the Pirate Parrot soap dispenser.
Because you can make signs and get on TV.
Granted, we never made it to ESPN. But we did make it to ROOT.
Because this is the view from PNC.
Seriously. How can you not love everything about Pittsburgh?!
So, say it with me now...Let's Go Bucs!  And tell me, dear readers, what do you love most about those Buccos? 


List #220: Things That Happen When You're Falling in Love

A few months ago I met a man. And the strangest thing happened, I fell hard. 

I won't tell you much about him. Because all you need to know is that he is amazing, tall man. He has dark hair but he lacks a beard. His face is of the friendly variety and he makes me laugh a lot.

But see the funniest thing happens when you fall hard for someone and it starts to get serious at a rather quick pace. You suddenly find yourself balancing all of the things you love about your life with someone else. 

And in the past, I'll fully admit that it wasn't this easy. I've grown, I've learned, and my path brought me here. Thankfully. Because the now is wonderful. It's what I wanted and what I needed. And what I didn't know I wanted and what I didn't understand I needed. All in the same package. 

So this is what happens when you're falling in love:
  • You start watching Parks & Recreation from the beginning.
  • And you hold your tongue about your favorite parts so someone can laugh at it for the first time.
  • Eating take out becomes a regular habit.
  • You learn how to work the dishwasher.
  • You come to an understanding about Hotel California.
  • Introducing friends feels exhilarating.
  • Introducing family feels absolutely right.
  • You laugh.
  • Texting increases.
  • And so do phone calls for that matter.
  • Beds are shared.
  • Toothbrushes are stored in the place that isn't your home.
  • Board games are played.
  • Hushed whispers fill dark bedrooms.
  • You try very hard not to be the friend who gushes all of the time.
  • There is no shame in falling asleep on the couch before 10 pm. 
  • Singing. Dancing. Loudly. And, sometimes, badly. In the kitchen, on the streets, in the car.
Those are just a few things, of course. Because to list them all would be too long of a mushy list. And though I'm head-over-heels, I'm still the girl who has never been much of a romantic. Who prefers pearls over diamonds. And never wants to be the one who throws my love all over the place. 

But I am smiling. A LOT.


List #219: What I Did This June

I did a lot of things in June 2013, but blogging was not one of them. I'd say that I'm sorry but that's not really true. I'm disappointed in myself for not being able to find the time to write, even just once a week. But I've been having a lot of fun and because the computer I'm using is a loaned and old white Macbook, I feel less inclined to open it up and pour out the words some evenings.

So instead of writing, here's a little bit of what I've been doing this June:
  • Reading books.
  • Sending a lot of emails.
  • Holding hands.
  • Talking about Web Rings.
  • Playing with babies.
  • Spending mornings wrapped up in bliss.
  • Eating breakfast on occasion.
  • Laughing at long streams of text messages from college roommates.
  • Raising the Jolly Roger.
  • Hanging pictures.
  • Rewatching Parks and Recreation.
  • Kissing.
  • Moving beds.
  • Wearing a goofy grin on my face.
  • Renting dresses. 
  • Being sappier than I ever thought possible.
  • Summer Reading.
  • Drinking beer.
  • Eating Chinese food.
  • Telling dorky jokes. 
  • Feeling all of the feelings.
  • Walking for Melanoma.
  • Celebrating graduations. 
  • Loving the fountain. 
  • Exploring the city.
  • Being hot.
  • Spending time with family.
  • Watching Friends late at night.
  • Feeling lucky. In more ways than one.
Whatever it has been keeping you busy in the start of summer, I hope it's been as much fun as mine. Leave your list in the comments, dear readers.


List #218: This is Bliss

Bliss is
  • The first seasonal corn-on-the-cob dabbed with just a little bit of butter.
  •  Laying in bed listening to a summer storm.
  • A cat who comes to snuggle right by your side.
  • Waking up in the morning and realizing you can sleep in just a tiny bit more.
  • Wearing a new dress for a special occasion.
  • Exploring.
  • A warm bath filled to the brim with bubbles.
  • The beginning of a good book.
  • Laughing with a friend even she's hundreds of miles away.
  • Nachos or Funnel Cake. Or really whatever your guilty snack food of choice may be.
  • The first few moments of vacation.
  • Getting real mail.
  • Fresh cut flowers decorating your table.
  • Newly painted toenails after a pedicure.
  • Getting to know someone new.
  • Making someone laugh. 
  • The second kiss.
  • The perfect hair day and somewhere to show it off.
  • Cold sheets on a hot night.
  • Treating yourself to tea at the start of a busy morning.
What, dear readers, do you consider your own slices of bliss? Share in the comments.


List #217: Songs of Summer

Every summer needs a few good songs. Songs that go perfectly with sunglasses and iced tea. Songs that make you want to stay up late and get a hickey like you did in high school. And songs that make you want to dance until the sweat is dripping down your back.

In my opinion, the best summer jam list is a conglomeration of past and present. It might, for instance, look a little like this.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince ~ Summertime
I think this was the first summer song that I remember hearing. The one that actually made me realize that summer might be more than just catching fireflies in my backyard. 
Ricky Martin ~ Living La Vida Loca
This song was huge the summer before I left college. When I listen to it today it reminds me of what was probably my most carefree summer and all of the hope one feels as they stand on that edge.
Katy Perry ~ Teenage Dream
I don't even remember the specific year this song was released. But I think it's impossible not to want to wear skimpy clothing and eat ice cream with a boy when you hear it.
Len ~ Steal My Sunshine
I did a quick Twitter survey for favorite summer songs. This one received multiple votes. I think it was made for the beach. 
LFO ~ Summer Girls
Fun Fact:  I first heard this song while sunbathing in Ocean City, Maryland when I was on my senior trip. My girlfriends and I were listening to a boom box, I was still skinny enough to wear a bikini, and I didn't worry about sun damage or skin cancer. And any song that references Alex P. Keaton wins.
Carly Rae Jepsen ~ Call Me Maybe
In 2012 this song became a summer song for the decades. It's a song we'll be reminiscing to our children about when we're old and listening to the radio on the porch. 
Nelly ~ Hot in Herre
This song was popular in the summer, right? Either way, it reminds me of barely being able to drink and sweating on dance floors in skirts.
 Robin Thicke Featuring Pharrell & T.I. ~ Blurred Lines
If you've been near me in the last three weeks you've heard me talk about how I think this is the sexiest song I've heard in 2013. This is my official summer song. Catchy, steamy, and naughty. Don't worry, this video is the one featuring less naked.

So dear readers, I'm sure I missed quite a few of your favorite summer songs. Why don't you go ahead and leave your pick in the comments.  I'd love to listen.



List #217: Change in a Decade

Ten Years Ago I...
  • Had just graduated from college and had moved back in to my parents house.
  • Was confused and lost and didn't even know it.
  • Used both a landline and a cell phone.
  • Had dial-up Internet.
  • Didn't know that you needed an MLIS/MLS to become a librarian.
  • Wasn't even aware that librarian was a vibrant career option.
  • Thought that I might want to go to graduate school for an MFA.
  • Talked on the phone each nigh to a boy that I missed but knew I wouldn't marry, even if the story would have been a good one.
  • Drank a lot of cheap beer.
  • Wanted to move to another country, but had no idea how.
  • Had no idea that in another year, I would move to another country.
  • Possessed a never-been-broken heart.
  • Had never attended a hockey game.
  • Was logged into AOL Instant Messenger.
  • Didn't know the thrill of kissing up against a door way. 
  • Wasn't sure the Steelers would ever win a Super Bowl in my lifetime.
  • Had yet to vote for a winning President.
  • Was cautious, but not scared. 
  • Wanted to adopt a kitten.
  • Thought that I was fat.
  • Purchased books at a book store.
  • Owned a desktop computer.
  • Worked out a gym.
  • Didn't straighten my hair.
  • Owned only a few dresses.
  •  Was absolutely clueless.
I'm heading to my college 10-year reunion this weekend. And though many poo-poo the idea of reunions, my Alma Mater knows how to do it up right. A benefit, in my opinion, from having graduated from a very small liberal arts college that fosters a community of dedicated adults. I'm mostly really excited. I'm looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new people I didn't know very well back then.

But one tiny part of me is a little nervous. Scared that in the next ten years I won't get to accomplish what I desire most in my heart. I'm fretting not for the reunion weekend, but for what comes after. Because if there is one thing I've learned in a decade, it's that you really have no idea what is going to be throw in your direction.

It is enough to make me gasp for air.

So, dear readers, just like you'd dish out advice on recent graduates. Let's share our own advice for the next ten years here.


List #216: Let's Talk About Summer

It's a little hard for me to believe that it's actually the beginning of summer. Maybe because the nights have been dipping down into the 30s here in Pittsburgh. Maybe because I don't have any summer vacation plans. And maybe because summer at the library won't start for a few more weeks. But it's coming, quickly. And I am going to be prepared.

And of course, being a goal-oriented woman, I've got some ideas of what should happen:
  • Ask the guy who owns a local shop out for coffee or drinks. 
  • Dance to this song a lot.
This is currently my summer theme song.
  •  Enjoy brunch club hijinks at least three times.
  • Spend a few Sunday afternoons at Raccoon Lake with my mom.
  • Learn how to make a fancy cocktail.
  • Have drinks with new friends.
  • Apply for something that will help me grow as a librarian.
  • Ride my bike along the river.
  • Date. 
  • Attend an outdoor concert.
  • Read books. Lots of books.
  • Cheer at baseball games.
  • Eat breakfast with old friends.
  • Make out on a hot night to this song. 
    This video is extremely NSFW. 
    •  Decorate my bedroom.
    • Paint my fingernails more often.
    • Have a girlfriend over for a girls night of wine, movies, and girl talk. 
    • Get my hair cut. Well, trimmed.
    • Write more.
    • Find the bold. 
    So what about you dear readers, what kind of things would you like to see take shape this summer?  Maybe our lists will merge.


    List #215: Things That Happened This Week

    Yesterday I was talking to a friend before the Penguins game and I couldn't remember what I had done on Wednesday night. I'm 31. I thought I was safe from this sort of mind blank for a good 20 years or so. I remembered, eventually. And blamed the crummy mood I was in on Wednesday for my lack of memory. But when you really do stop and think about it, it's amazing what one person can cram into 7 days. Less even, considering today is still young and tomorrow hasn't even happened.
    • Coordinated a bunch of work events. Most of them keeping me out of the library for the majority of next week. 
    • Impromptu drinks with one of my closest friends. 
    • A pitcher of Blue Moon. In a bar that will always remind me of graduate school.
    • Registered for my college reunion. And debated the merits of the major bars in that town. 
    • Cheered for Jalepeno Hannah. 
    • Smuggled Chipotle burritos into PNC Park.
    • Watched a whole bunch of season finales. And one series finale.
    • Saw Sidney Crosby get his second playoff hat trick. 
    • Watched another Penguins game in a bar.
    • Had my eyes examined.
    • Got fitted for new glasses. 
    • Struggled with my current state of being.
    • Took neighborhood walks. 
    • Ate lunch with a cousin. 
    • Decided to give online dating another go.
    • Got some very disappointing news.
    • RSVP'd to a baby shower.
    • Threw away two bouquets of flowers.
    • Was not shocked in the least when the guy staring me up and down at Einstein bagels was wearing a wedding ring.
    • Battled a tension headache for 2.5 days.
    • Drank a lot of fountain Coke (with lemon). 
    • Finished reading my 20th book of the year.
    • Practiced patience. Yet again.
    • Cried. Whether it was over the previously mentioned disappointment or The Office finale, is undisclosed. (It was both.) 
    • Wondered why the cold water in my apartment unexpectedly ran brown for an afternoon.
    • And worked my monthly Saturday at the library.
    Hope you squeezed in a bunch of fun this week. Or at least, plan on making up for it this weekend, dear readers.