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. 


    List #214: Patience and Gratitude

    I got some news today that was disappointing. I'm not at liberty to discuss the particulars, but I can tell you that it made me sad. And though you might not know what exactly made me sad, I'm sure you can relate to what happens after you share the news with those who love you.

    A lot of platitudes.

    Things happen for a reason.
    It wasn't meant to be.
    Their loss, not yours. 
    Something better will come along. 
    Be grateful for what you do have. 
    Be patient.

    But here's the thing. I'm not sure everything does happen for a reason. Logic just doesn't seem to side with this one. And I don't know if I think that every loss is really a gain. And though I would agree that if someone doesn't want me, it is their loss, not mine. It still doesn't mean the rejection doesn't sting.

    I'm grateful. Truly grateful for the life I do lead. I recognize that I'm one of they lucky few that has a career that I enjoy. I have my health. I have a roof over my head. I have fantastic friends. I have a supportive family. I even have a friend with season tickets to Penguins games. I'm not foolish enough to dismiss the bounty in my life. I recognize it. I value it. I'm grateful.

    And I'm patient. Oh, I'm truly patient. It's a struggle, but I'm still patient. I rarely yell. I don't begrudge others their happiness. I thank the universe for giving me the gifts I have and I try not to ask for too much in return. I wish for each day to be a little brighter than the last. And I can even wait quietly in line and not complain before it's my turn.

    Because I have been told since I was a little girl that good things happen to good people. If I work hard enough, I'll be recognized. If I am loyal and kind, people will return with the same. If I love myself enough, someone will love me. If I am smart, my brain will take my places. If I stop looking for love, it will find me. If I put good out in the world, karma will reward me in kind.

    But I'm not so sure. Those snippets might just be more platitudes.

    I ask myself how much longer do I have to be patient? What, exactly, am I being patient for? Because what if (and this is my deepest fear) this is it. This is as good and as full as my life is going to get. No more improvements, no more promotions, no more love, no more romance. Not everyone can get everything they want, right? What if I'm the person who doesn't get the chances she so very much wants.

    I told a coworker today that I want something exciting to happen this summer. I want to be thrilled and I want to thrill. I want to shout about my good news. And I want to toast to good fortune.

    But maybe what I'm really hoping for is a sign. A sign that all of this patience I keep getting asked to store up is going to be worth more than the ability to remain calm when Starbucks is busy. 

    The news I received today isn't heartbreaking. It isn't devastating. And it's not really even life changing. It was just disappointing. I'll nurse my would for a few days and then life will continue as normal. I'll be okay.

    I guess what I'm saying is though, I'm ready for my life to be a little bit more than normal. And I'm certainly ready to be a whole lot more than okay.

    I'm ready for my hard work and patience to pay off. I'd even accept an installment plan.


    List #213: Two Years Gone

    Cousins at the Start of Summer 2008

    This is my cousin Laura and me at a bar in West View in the Summer of 2008. You can't tell by just looking at this photo, but I had just quit my job as a teacher. And she was battling melanoma. Our night had started on the North Shore, we ran into lots of people we knew because that's how Pittsburgh happens, and we ended up back at a bar in her neighborhood. And I know at least one of us walked home with shoes in our hand and not on our feet. It was the type of night that only those who know you best can supply. And it will forever remain as one of my favorite times we ever shared as adults.

    But now it has been five years since the start of that summer. And two years since Laura died.

    If Laura were here today, if I could have just one more hour of conversation with her. I would ask her what she thought of how things have played out since she left us. I would want to know if she knew if things got easier for us. I'd want to hear her tell me funny stories. I'd listen to her calm advice and savor her support. I hug her and make her laugh.

    I'd tell her that lately I'm not so sure if I've been enough ass out of life for her. That I've been feeling a little lonely and that maybe I'm sometimes less sure that things work out for the best. But I wouldn't want to burden her with my fears. So I would promise that I'm going to go back to kicking the ass out of life again.

    When Laura left us two years ago, I couldn't wrap my head around living longer than the person that I grew up with. We were, after all, born just a few months apart. We lived our lives together but separately. So many of the same steps and so many different ones too. To go on in a world without her to share whatever would come just seemed so empty.

    And truthfully, it still does. 

    I cry less often now. And I have quit questioning why such terrible things happen to such terribly good people. Not because I have the answers. But because I think the world has shown me that there are no answers. But still when I'm with my extended family and she's not there, it just feels off. When something happens and she's not there to share it with, it just feels off.  When I want the love and support and laughs and cries that only your best family member can give you...well.

    My heart still misses her. I still need her help. And I hope she still remembers those whispers.


    Letter #54: To Skater Boys

    Lately every morning, just as I walk out my front door for work, a kid rolls past my apartment building on his skateboard. My gut is that this boy is always late for high school, the local public school is right down the street in the direction he is headed, and the skateboard makes him faster than any teenage boy would walk.

    I hear the neighborhood teens at night too. Their skateboards scratching the pavement, their shouts piercing the late night as they push curfews as the days get longer and warmer.

    And for a brief moment I think to myself that they should be home by now. In the morning I'm the person who is worried that the late-skater is going to get hit by a car. And I feel officially old.

    But truth be told, I have a soft spot in my heart for skater boys. The skater boys of the late '90s were my exact cup of tea. I loved tall boys who wore Vans and used wallet chains. And all of the memories of first (puppy) love come flooding back and the inevitable first heartbreak that happens a few weeks after college begins. It was so easy in comparison to what would come. But I like to think that's exactly how it should play out when you're young.

    And not that any of today's skater boys are paying attention to anything I have to say, but still, I wish it was possible to pull those young men aside and give them some tips. Or, perhaps more preferably, go back in time and give the same advice to the boys who built skate ramps in my neighborhood and made out with me in cars as we pushed the limits of our own curfews.

    It would be a short note, handed off in the hallways in between classes, or shoved in outer pockets of Jansport backpacks. And it would say,

    Dear Skater Boys,

    Be kind to the sensitive girl who likes to watch you skate after school. You're too young to know what leading her own really and truly means, but be aware that every little kindness you show her is going to be taken as a grand gesture. Because she is too young and too naive to notice subtlety.

    Know that when you give her earrings on the night before she is about to leave for college, that it will remain one of the sweetest things a guy does for her over the next four years. At least.

    Be brave and call it off officially, before summer ends. It will make it easier for both you and her, as you head out into new worlds. No guilt. No hard feelings. Just let it go.

    And when you try to win her heart back a few years down the road, and she is hesitant and resistant because she remembers all of the ways you let her down in the past. And all of the things you said, but the actions that differed. Come out swinging with a truly grand gesture. She'll recognize and know what they are by then. Bring on the flowers, the romance, the compliments, and sweet dates. Who knows what might happen the second time around.


    List #212: What I'm Feeling on the First Day of May

    Today was sunny and gorgeous. It held everything you have come to expect from a perfect spring day. Sun, blue skies, fluffy clouds, no rain, a slight breeze, warm temperatures, and flowers on every corner. It was, without a doubt, the first day that I really felt Spring.

    And to make the occasion, here is what I have been thinking on the first day of May 2013:

    • Good vibes are in the air.
    • I can't say what I really want to say.
    • Good news, good news, good news.
    • I. Miss. You.
    • We want The Cup.
    • Summer Reading. Summer Reading. Summer Reading.
    • If I could only learn how to style my hair every morning.
    • Can I just have someone who styles my hair in the morning?
    • Pascal Dupuis is musky hot.
    • Where do I go from here?
    • Why can't you come with me?
    • Making dinner is for the birds.
    • Sharing the couch would be much more fun during playoff hockey.
    • Oh, the sads.
    • But hope. Lots and lots of hope.
    • And smiles.
    Here's wishing you all of the best things this May. Truly.