List #258: Don't Ever Say This to a Woman

Twice in the past week I have found myself in situations where someone who doesn't know me (or only knew me as a teenager with pimples and a bad sense of style) has asked some very personal questions without much basic tact. Both times it left me confused and baffled. And both times I felt that the way I did answer their questions were not the best way I could have answered.

And sadly, because I'm a woman. And because I made some choices in my life that probably confused a lot of people. And because I didn't get married before I was 28. And because I have a career in a field that some people feel is outdated. And because I lived abroad. And because I had a few failed relationships. And because of so so many other things. This wasn't the first time I had to hold my feelings inside in order to come off pleasant and polite so as not to offend someone.

I just wish people would use a little more common sense. Don't ask questions you wouldn't want someone asking you. And be mindful not just words, but how they are worded, when they are said, and where they are said can make all of the difference. Sometimes it's not a matter of what you're asking but more how you say it and what kind of answer you're expecting. Words have power. Be aware of that power.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect. I'm sure I've hurt others' feelings by how, what, where, and when I chose to speak certain words. But honestly, I do try to be mindful of people's situations. And working with the public does give me a good sense of how many walks were are all taking in life. But still, just because I feel like maybe some us need a lesson on what not to ask or say, I'll leave a few examples here.
  • When are you going to get married?
  • Why don't you have a boyfriend?
  • When you stop looking, it will happen.
  • Oh, you don't want to be in a relationship.
  • Why don't you want kids?
  • When are you going to have kids?
  • You'll feel differently once you're married.
  • Why don't you have children?
  • Have you tried Match.com?
  • Why would you want to go back to school?
  • Oh, I don't believe in taking out loans for school.
  • You pay how much in rent?
  • You should really just buy a house instead of rent.
  • Why does your child have different colored eyes than you?
  • Your child looks nothing like you or your partner.
  • Oh, did you adopt?
  • You won't understand until you have children.
  • Oh, be glad you don't have kids.
  • You couldn't possibly understand unless you're a mom.
  • Did you guys have in vitro?
  • Did you use a surrogate?
  • You won't understand what it's like to be tired until you have a baby.
  • I'm just busier than you are.
  • Why don't you breastfeed?
  • Why do you use formula?
  • Oh, did you sleep with the mailman?
  • When are you guys going to have another baby?
  • When are you going to get engaged?
  • Why did you want to get into that career?
  • Oh, it's not like you work or anything.
  • It's hard to understand unless you're in a relationship.
  • Why did you get divorced?
  • Why did your partner get divorced?
  • Are you pregnant?
There are probably way more, I'm sure. So if you have one, please feel free to share it here. And remember, just take a second to listen to what you're going to say, and how you're going to say it, before you let the words slip out of your mouth.

Be kind, friends.


List #257: 33 Things at 33

On this day in 1981, I was born. I'm the oldest of three three children and the only girl in my immediate family. I always loved that my birthday was in September. I was usually one of the first people to celebrate a birthday in the school year, my birthday was never one of those forgotten summer days, and the weather was always perfect for an outdoor party in my parents' backyard.

And this year, on one very hot and not-so-seasonal September Sunday, my birthday was just as nice. Filled with lots of love from my two favorite boys, lots of laughter, and dinner with family. And the day ended with some quiet time, the How I Met Your Mother boxed set, peppermint tea, and blankets.  Even if I did cry in the middle of it all, the day was nothing short of all the things I enjoy the most:  great stories from good friends, peels of laughter from a toddler, kisses from a boyfriend, and a home-cooked meal and conversations with my family. 

Here's what I was thinking as 365 days passed:
  • Even if the mother dies, I want Ted Mosby to find happiness.
  • This house is a horrible mess.
  • When can I eat tacos?
  • Giggly babies are the best babies.
  • Oh wow, everyone is having more babies.
  • Why does my boyfriend's nose sound like a foghorn?
  • How soon can I go visit friends in far away cities?
  • Oh goodness, Cat! Leave me alone!
  • I really like making out.
  • I wonder how early the baby will wake up in the morning.
  • This book really isn't so great.
  • I've been underrating a beach vacation for years.
  • I have nothing to wear in this closet.
  • Sometimes, I just don't want to hear your voice.
  • This man is the best man.
  • How many times is too much to listen to one song in a row?
  • Chris Pratt. Tom Hiddleston. Chris Pratt. Adam Levine. Chris Pratt.
  • I'm so very lucky to have met someone who actually likes to cook.
  • What should I order at Starbucks today?
  • Asking if I (or anyone else) had in vitro, adopted, or used a surrogate is not okay.
  • My fantasy football team is crap.
  • I don't think I care about the Steelers anymore.
  • When can I watch the Pens play?
  • Please don't watch porn in public.
  • Oh, pretty and expensive houses!
  • Why am I crying?
  • Why is 90s fashion a thing in 2014? 
  • I miss my friends.
  • I miss my family.
  • I should probably make those doctor's appointments.
  • Which book should I read at storytime?
  • Am I getting old?
  • Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon a life that manages to include a whole lot of funny and a whole lot of love.
Really truly, it's been a lucky and wonderful year. I'm hoping for some adventure, love, luck, health, and a few good travels in the year ahead. Here's to all of those things and more.


List #256: The Time I Was in a Zine

There are some really fantastic bloggers in Pittsburgh. People who are writing with way more frequency than me about everything from awesome places to eat in this city, making art, crafting the mixed tape, living downtown, baking, going to school, finding love, loving pets, being a parent, and so very much more.  And a few months ago, one of them got an awesome idea to put our online writing onto good ol' fashioned ink and paper.

I'm proud to be part of this finished product and really hope that if you live in Pittsburgh, you'll find a copy. Right now you can grab a copy at one of these fine places:

  • South Hills Power Yoga
  • East End Book Exchange
  • Caliban Book Shop
  • CW Press
  • Copacetic Comics Company
With a few more places rolling out as the week progresses:
  • Carnegie Coffee Company
  • ToonSeum
  • Artisan Tattoo
  • Crazy Mocha
  • Espresso A Mano
  • Pavement
  • Roundabout Brewery
  • Wildcard
  • Crazy Mocha
  • Wigle Whiskey
If you do find a copy, take a photo and tag @brassy_librarian in Instagram. I'll send you you're very own personalized book recommendations. And maybe the first person to tag me will get an extra special something too!

More than anything though, please go read the other (and much more impressive) blogs involved. Give a big thanks to Alex at Everybody Loves You for this really was his brainchild and work of love. He's just that awesome.

And here's your bibliography of links:

Thanks for reading!


List #255: Thing I Think About While Watching Sunday Night Football

Like most of America, I'm having a hard time with the NFL right now. And yes, because of some very specific instances that have occurred in the past few weeks, our patience with football is wearing thing. But really, we've been on the appalled by some of their behavior for awhile now.  Even my beloved Steelers have tarnished the black and gold in ways that I can't really reconcile with my fandom. The NFL is making us mad, sad, disappointed, and disgusted. 

But still, I am sitting on the couch on a Sunday night watching my team. I won't pretend to have the answers to fix the behavior of the NFL and its players. But I will admit that I'm one of those fans who is disgusted, but still playing Fantasy Football and watching (at least some of) the Steelers games each week.

A lot of things run through my mind as I watch Sunday Night Football in 2014:
  • I have no desire to pay to see a Steelers game this year.
  • I would not turn down free tickets, however.
  • I really think the Steelers need new coaches.
  • I'm still very thankful that my team doesn't mess with that Cheerleader nonsense.
  • The Sunday New York Times is entirely too much paper to read in one day.
  • Pretty sure Gatorade is my new favorite drink.
  • Ironing clothes for work the night before is both the best and worst thing.
  • 9:00 pm is far too late in the day to be wearing a bra.
  • I will not be getting the new iPhone.
  • Fall breezes at night are the best.
  • I really need to get a fall candle to burn.
  • I spent many many hours of this weekend listening to back episodes of My Brother, My Brother and & Me. 
  • It's possible my entire Fantasy teams will suck all season long.
  • Is there anyone in America that enjoys listening to Cris Collinsworth on Sunday evenings?
  • I am far too old and tired to stay up for an entire Sunday Night Football game anymore.
And with that, let's hope the Steelers can win. 


List #254: The End of Summer

And suddenly it was Labor Day. And September rushed in with humidity and high temperatures and rain storms that flooded patios. 

When I think about Summer 2014 in a few years, I think it will all just come at me in one big blur. Because honestly, I barely remember what I was doing back in June. This summer was filled with so many events that finding the balance between quiet and loud was nearly impossible. Work was too much at times, and home was just as hectic. There are so many things I didn't get to do either by myself, or with the BF, with our little family, with friends: go boating on a lake, walk around the rivers. see more Pirates games, have drinks on a rooftop, swim in a pool, and probably so much more. 

But I was busy because so much of my time was taken up by good things. Sometimes it's good to be busy because it means you're leading a life full of purpose, love, and activity. And that is how I want to remember Summer 2014. 

Summer 2014, I hope to always remember:
  • The long morning and evening walks around my corner of the city. 
  • Family snuggles as the sun rose on early morning.
  • Getting stuck in a rainstorm that broke two umbrellas.
  • Trips to the zoo and amazement inside the aquarium.
  • Unplanned semi-fancy dinners on Friday nights.
  • Falling asleep at an embarrassingly early hour.
  • Growing herbs and flowers on our little concrete porch.
  • Hot nights and glasses of wine.
  • Running around in my parents' backyard for the first time in ages.
  • First steps.
  • Trying to save money.
  • Sunset Beach, NC
  • Dreaming the endless possibilities that our future might hold.
Summer 2014, you were a good one. But now it is September. Oh, how I love September.


List #253: Current Crushes

It's been long established that when I like something, I typically like it A LOT. We're talking obsession levels of liking things. And this summer has been no exception.

Currently, I am crushing on the following:

Chris Pratt
I am probably the number one Parks and Recreation fan. I have watched every episode of the series at least three times (and probably more like six) and I've been a fan of Chris Pratt's Andy since he was living in a pit. But Guardians of the Galaxy has made me feel things Chris Pratt that were just little rumblings before. He may be happily married, but I will say this...Chris Pratt can tell me I have network connectivity problems all day long. 

Salted Caramel Core Ice Cream
Remember how Ross Gellar didn't like ice cream? Well yeah, there is a reason I actually kind of like Ross Gellar. Ice cream is NOT my favorite summertime treat. But then 2014 happened and Ben & Jerry's made this delight. And I cannot get enough. Thank goodness it's a little hard to keep stocked on grocer shelves because I'd be in serious trouble. But I'm so very grateful for the Boyfriend who sometimes has the foresight and kindness to buy two and hide one in the back of the fridge until I need to give into the cravings. 

All About That Bass 
I first heard this song thanks to Spotify in the middle of a long work day. I then played it three more times. And now I play it at least once a day. I love that we are living in a time where we are starting to push back on societal view that we all women have to be thin. It's great to have curves and I love when women and girls are encouraged to embrace them. I love mine. And yes, I understand that some people are annoyed that this song has to bring men's opinions of curves into loving one's own body. But honestly? I'm not that bothered by it. It's catchy, it still has a good message, and I agree....in my experience men really do love a little more booty to hold at night.

Orange is the New Black
I read this book years ago. And though I found it an interesting story, I wasn't particularly keen on the main character and so, I really had no interest in the show. But after so many people I trust talking positively about it, I gave it a show one Friday afternoon. And then I was hooked. Now, going to jail for something I didn't do or going to jail for a horrible accident is one of my top fears. This show is doing nothing to ease any anxiety. I'm actually enforcing a personal hiatus from the show becomes my dreams have become jail-infused and often include me playing bingo with the ladies. 

What about you dear readers, anything that you're crushing on? Share in the comments, please! 


List #252: A Quiet House on a Sunday Evening

Our family arrived back from vacation yesterday afternoon. We landed at Pittsburgh International just before dinner time and had a small child sleeping in the backseat within five minutes of the car ride home. We ordered Chinese food for dinner and spent a lot of time chasing the cat around the house and giving him treats because he missed us so much.

There are still suitcases waiting to be unpacked. Laundry certainly needs to be done soon. Work is almost ready to greet us tomorrow morning.

But for now, things are quiet. And all of what will come when the start button gets pushed on tomorrow can wait. On a Sunday evening in our house, when vacation is rubbing off, here is what you will find:

  • A quiet house with just the hum of the air conditioning turning off and on.
  • A soft kitty giving himself a bath on top of a pile of blankets our house guests left stacked upon a living room chair.
  • Two adults with their legs wrapped up in each other as they sit on opposite ends of the couch. 
  • A pile of blocks left after one little boy went off to his other house for a few days.
  • A pile of unread and half-read New York Times sitting on the far edge of that (very big) couch.
  • One man reading the last few pages of a book he can't seem to put down.
  • One woman listening to Ingrid Michaelson over and over again again.
  • Empty Chinese take-out containers waiting to be thrown out with the night's trash.
  • New neighborhoods. On all sides of the house.
  • A few stray dirty dishes that need to be put in the dishwasher.
  • A light dimmed best for reading.
  • A few blisters on someone's foot.
  • Two people ignoring work emails for at least a few more hours. 
  • Relaxation that is only achieved after successful going on, and returning home, from a week's vacation.
The librarian in our house is about to start the final push of summer reading. The consultant in our house is about to start some new adventures. And the little boy is about to go back to daycare after not being there in over a week. Let's hope the calm can withstand the storm that might begin early in the week. And here's to wishing a few moments of quiet in your week too. 


List #251: The Family Vacation

Suitcases are scattered all over our bedroom and laundry is piled high on the beds. Though the boyfriend and I have gone on quite a few trips together in the last year, we are about to head out on our first family adventure in a few days. There will be a beach house, pool, waves, extended family, a budding toddler, a cuddly newborn, an enclosed porch, egrets and ibises, tea in the morning and drinks in the afternoon. 

It's a vacation that I'm greatly looking forward to and one that I feel I've earned with the hectic summer schedule I've been living with since June. Ditto for the boyfriend who is running just as ragged as me. 

Though my family may or may not have gone on a family vacation every summer, it certainly feels that way in my memories. Vacations were weeks that felt endless, filled with surprise and excitement, and really that's all I want for our family vacations too. 

  • I remember a joint-family vacation to a beach town that has long since been forgotten. Wearing swimsuits all day, sharing bedrooms, and loving that my best friend was right by my side. We swam, flew kites, ate boardwalk fries, and were oblivious to any problems that might have been sitting right in front of us.
  • Then were was the family car trip to the 1996 Olympics. The longest vacation my family has ever taken together. We saw Mongolian wrestlers on the train, took a ferry to New Jersey, left the park just as the bomb went off, and were entirely too young to watch Braveheart. It was the best trip we ever took together.
  • In high school there was tagalong-as-a-friend vacation to North Carolina. Those days were filled with all the things that high school kid in the 90s did. Plus long walks on the beach, floral sundresses, and the sound of frogs echoing all around the hot tub as we soaked our too tan bodies at night.
  • Long weeks at the Jersey Shore trying to balance family with being too cool for a family vacation. And spending all of my hard-earned money in the second hand book store.
I can't wait to get on that plane and land where the waves are. Summer should pause long enough for all of us to escape. See you when we return.


List #250: The One with the Fake Gambling

In just 12 days I'll be heading off to the beach. With the boyfriend, the not-so-little baby, and a few extended family members. For bird watching, beach sitting, pool swimming, and hopefully a few drinks together on a rather large porch.

Before we pack up the bags and push a little one through the airport in the umbrella stroller. There is a lot to get through.

Between now and then, our family will see:

  • 14 library programs spread out over just 9 days.
  • Two business trips to neighboring states.
  • More walking practice.
  • A house-warming party.
  • Bathing-suit shopping.
  • An afternoon spent with my parents.
  • Directions to cat/house sitters.
  • A night out with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And oh god, that's all I can remember without looking at my Google calendar. And because of all of this, I have been finding it increasingly hard to restore the balance in my life amid the summer madness. Our house is rather messy, my desk is a disaster, laundry is never finished, and the two adults in this house are nearly always tired.

So it's no wonder that I've been coming home and numbing my brain with endless rounds of fake slots on my cell phone. The colors, the sounds, the repetition, are one of the only things that calm my brain each night. And even though I'm sort of wondering just who in the world plays cell phone slots, I do not wish to stop.  With all of my obsessions, it will go away, I'm sure. 

But between now (when another work day just means a whole lot of me running around, singing, and dancing, and reading) and then (when the days will seem long and the nearest sounds are birds and waves) I'll numb my brain with the only vice that's interesting at the moment. And be thankful that I haven't gotten sucked into another season of Teen Mom Two. Just yet.

So dear readers, how do you manage to restore your sanity after a particularly (extended) stressful period of work? 


List #249: Things I am Over This Summer

Just a few things that I wish would disappear, sooner rather than later:

  • Humid days and rainy nights.
  • People who get annoyed about children being inside the library.
  • Spotty wi-fi.
  • Cats who get crazy every night.
  • Getting up before 7 am.
  • Cleaning.
  • Feet that hurt after very long days.
  • Summer moving by too quickly.
  • Expensive flights.
  • Falling asleep before 10 pm.
  • This song.

  • The lack of vacation days offered to Americans.
  • Coming home feeling sticky every night.
Here's to a weekend of relaxation. And avoiding all things annoying. 


List #248: Hot Nights And City Living

As the first week of summer begins, I find myself thinking about a beach vacation that seems so far off into the distance. And trying to muster up the energy to stay up past 10 pm and read. I have 7 library programs in 4 days and it may be getting the best of me. 

But it's my first summer living within city limits since my childhood. And I'm loving discovering the quiet of our tiny porch, just blocks from a busy street. I love long family walks and short solo walks. And grilling dinner for three.

Here is what I'm enjoying most:
  • Living in a house with central air conditioning.
  • Reading books and drinking beers while sitting on the porch together after work.
  • Grilling in the morning for breakfast.
  • Zoo trips late on Sunday mornings.
  • Freeze pops readily available.
  • The new Salted Caramel Core ice cream. Thank you, Ben & Jerry.
  • Ice Cream surprises on Saturday afternoons.
  • Long walks with panoramic views of Pittsburgh. 
  • Splashing in fountains. 
  • Rooftop bars.
  • Ice teas.
  • Ice drinks in the morning.
  • Ice water in a Tervis mug.
  • Going to bed early and not feeling bad about it at all.
  • Drinks with friends on Saturday nights.
Honestly, this week is going to exhaust me. Libraries are hectic in the summer time and it's my job to coordinate most of the (joyous) madness. But summer is fantastic. Especially when you have air conditioning. And views that look like this.

Once again, my city is prettier than your city. 


List #247: On Father's Day

It's probably been a rule in society from the very dawn of ages that dads are often overlooked. Moms are the star of the show. They are ones whose light we see beaming from far away, even if the glow they are casting isn't all that bright. Moms are the ones who get flowers, and candy, and jewelery and all of our unsolicited kisses on even the darkest days.

Dads are a different story. They get neckties and tools for holidays. They grill their own steak on Sunday afternoons. For goodness sake, every afternoon I hear a commercial on Pandora telling me that all my dad really wants for Father's Day is a nice new pair of Dockers. They don't get nearly as many unsolicited kisses and they rarely even ask for extra ones too. Whatever love you have for them is always enough. Because a Dad's light is steady and reliable. Even if his light isthe brighest one in the room, it's not going to burn out any time soon.

But boy, oh boy, do I wish I could teach the whole world a lesson and shout about Dads from the rooftop. After spending the last year with a single* dad and his hilarious little boy, I just want people to give dads more credit. The Dad in the famliy doesn't automatically need to be the back-up parent.

So please, this Father's Day (and all days really) let's do this for dear old dad:
  • Don't talk about a father of a child staying home to "watch" the babies. Dads care for children and raise children. Watching children is what the babysitter does. So save all the watching for them.
  • Let Dad tell silly Dad jokes. I swear all dads, upon leaving the hospital, get a manual on how to be the corniest man around. It makes them happy and honestly, you know it makes you laugh.
  • Buy Dad something different. Think outside of the box and give him something that is full of personality. Khaki pants have no personality.
  • Remember that Dad love their children just as much as Mom. Love has no definition. Love is love. And it is limitless.
  • Respect Dad's role. Don't tell him that he wouldn't understand. Don't tell him that Mom is always right. Support is a good thing.
  • Understand that each family is unique. What works in your home might not work in the home next door. And that's more than okay; it's wonderful.
  • Sympthasize with the new Dad. There is always so much talk about how to treat a new Mom, but it's rare that you hear about how to treat a new Dad.
  • Remember your friends. Relationships shift as people become parents. But being a mom doesn't mean you always have to take another mom's side. And being a Dad doesn't mean you have to think that Dad is always right. Remember who you were friends with before everyone decided to create new humans and try to make informed decisions and opinions.
  • Truly think what it might be like in someone else's shoes. Is your dad friend going through a rough patch? Is he going through it all alone? Be someone to count on. Don't assume he's the bad guy because he's a guy. 
  • Dads miss their kids too. When you focus on Moms missing their children and ignore how Dad might feel, you're selling Dad short. Dad wants to be with his children too. Accept a Dad's feeling as valid ones. 
I'm sure we are all thinking that none of this to our own Dads. And maybe don't. But observing how the world has interacted with one of my most favorite men this past year has led me to understand that we all do this to some Dad.

But maybe, just maybe, we can start being a little kinder to the guy who is only going to get a necktie and Dockers for Father's Day. He sure does a lot.

*Single meaning has a live-in girlfriend/partner/carer of all things little and big, who sometimes cries herself to sleep because she worries too much about babies and life and reading and so much more. If you want to know a little more of our story, I wrote about it here on Emily Levenson's Blog. 


List #246: Yes All Women. Or Not All of The Times I Felt Uncomfortable.

It's a rare day that I'm swept up in stories that come along with hashtag campaigns. As much as I love Twitter, I don't necessarily love the trends that get started there. That is, until #YesAllWomen.

I don't recommend watching the USC Santa Barbara killer's videos. But I do encourage browsing through the tales being told on Twitter. And I do recommend you read things like this New Yorker article or this piece from Slate.

Personally, this campaign really got me thinking about my own life journey and experiences with misogyny. I made a few of my own mistakes in my 32 years. And of course, I have my own regrets. But these are just a few of the times that I remember being scared, frightened, or pressured simply because I was a woman.

  • In 9th grade I started the school year as a naive 13 year-old. And ever day, for the entire first semester, a biology partner threatened to crawl into my bedroom window and rape me.
  • I cross a very busy road between a coffee shop and my library, nearly every day. And at least once a week (often more), men honk their horn and hoot out the window to get my attention.
  • The time I was in college and was coaxed into coming back to that guy's room.
  • Though I never really knew for sure, I'm nearly certain that roofies were put into my (and probably other's drinks) at a sorority and fraternity mixer. It's the only time in my life where I blacked out to the point where I don't remember parts of the night. Thank goodness for friends who always made sure we all got home safe.
  • All of the times I've had to tell strangers that I had a boyfriend (even when I didn't) because they won't take hints that I'm not interested.
  • Those times where I got asked out at the front desk of the library, while I was on duty, in front of not only staff members, but the general public.
  • One morning, not more than a month ago, walking down a very busy street in Pittsburgh. Wearing a dress, like I do every single day. And have a man tell me to "Shake that Booty" from the loudspeaker, attached to his truck.
  • The fact that so many people find this blog by adding "slut" to my profession. 
Though there are more of these stories from own my life, I'm thankful that my stories don't end in violence or sexual assault. I am one of the lucky ones.

I am smart enough to know that a hash tag won't change the world. These issues run deeper than anything 140 characters can convey or fix. But I do think that social media can start a conversation. Or many conversations. To let women know they aren't alone, to let parents open up about talking to their children, to let men understand where women are coming from just a little more, to help understand what it may mean to walk in someone else's shoes. I don't think anything will change over night. But maybe we're all growing up to be adults who can help future generations choose their words and actions just a little more wiser than we choose our own.


List #245: Things That Happen When You Have an Ear Infection

Last weekend I developed a sore throat. And after a trip to the doctor I developed a cough. And then I woke up yesterday morning with an earache. Like a little kid.

But since earaches aren't contagious, and everything else I have is just allergies, I did not contract an earache from a little toddler. But I did get tinnitus (and funny enough, it happens to be tinnitus awareness week). And the tinnitus is making me dizzy. And being dizzy is making me nauseated. 

So yeah, it's been that kind of week around here. 

Here's what happens when you're 32 and get, according to the Physician's Assistant, "one really bad ear infection" in the middle of May:
  • You run into the library before it opens to send yourself files and grab a laptop so you can work from the couch.
  • A morning nap happens and it feels like 3 hours, but it's only 30 minutes.
  • A trip to the medical clinic is in order. 
  • So much dizziness occurs that more naps happen.
  • And then, the nausea begins.
  • Stress about summer reading and the amount of work to be done starts to build.
  • The ringing in the ears gets worse and worse.
  • The boyfriend gets me medicine and fountain Coke and cheese curls. 
  • Lots of Parenthood is watched. 
  • Windows are open for fresh air.
  • It's learned that earaches are not contagious.
Here's hoping that tomorrow goes swiftly and the antibiotic kicks in. Because I have a three day weekend with two boys to enjoy. 


List #244: Pittsburgh Things I Love Right Now

I'm a big fan of mini-breaks. Sometimes a long weekend away is almost better than a week's vacation. And thanks to tagging along and tacking on to the boyfriend's work schedule, we were both able to get away for a few days. Our lives are a bit hectic at the moment, no matter if we are together or apart, so it was nice having a few days to nearly ignore the cell phones, walk miles across a new city, and soak in a big bathtub.

And sure, when you come back home, reality hits you hard in the face. But when you step off that plane, you get to remember why you love your city all over again. 

Here is why I love Pittsburgh. This week.

  • Greek Food Festivals have arrived. It's time for Greek churches to showcase their best cooks. But remember friends, real Greek salads don't have lettuce.
  • Temperatures are climbing. I actually wore tights a lot during my mini-break. Tights, in May is ridiculous. But finally, the temps are rising and we're even going to get into the 70s this week.
  • Playoff hockey. It's the second round and the Penguins are up 2 games to 1. 
  • Baseball. I have a few games knocked out this season. And even managed to visit a different ballpark.
  • Voter registration. My address change made the cut. So I can soon vote in the primary. 
I love traveling and my love affair with Pittsburgh changes in strength from week to week, but I think I might be coming around to loving this unpredictable season of spring in my hometown.


List #243: Things That Happened in April

It's been a busy month. And in a few days, I'll be able to pack up a blue carry-on piece of luggage and head on a plane for a few days away. I don't like to say that I deserve a vacation because we all work hard and we all have stress. But really, in April 2014 left little time for relaxation.

Here's what happened in April:
  • Battle of the Books, with 93 children and all of their families
  • Easter Storytime, with 115 children and all of their families
  • Author visit, with 100 people in attendance.
  • Easter with my family and the boyfriend's family
  • A trip to Phipps with my college roommate
  • Out-of-town grandmothers paying a visit
  • A dinner in Market Square where the bomb squad showed up
  • 3 mile walks around Schenley Park
  • Storytimes
  • Said goodbye to my grandfather
  • Planned a first birthday party
  • Made these hats
  • Planned all of the library summer programs
  • Went to my first Pirates game of the season
  • Hosted a first birthday party
  • Went to bed before 10 pm more nights than I care to admit
  • Took Nyquil
  • Ate too many lunches at my desk
  • Joined a new committee
  • Did not clean the house
  • Got a bill from my shady old landlords
  • Washed so many loads of laundry
  • Read a little
  • Cried a few times
  • Let me emotions run wild
  • Missed some friends
  • Celebrated birthdays other than the first
  • Celebrated great news with an old friend
  • Starting weaning a baby from a bottle
  • Dyed Easter Eggs
  • Wished I had a new phone
  • Felt exhausted. 
And so when the plane wheels lift up later this week, I'll push my chair back just a bit, and relish in the fact that this mini-vacation is at least, somewhat, deserved. Now, let's get through the last four days of April. And bring on May.


List #242: Grandpap McNally

My mom's father passed away in December. He was sharp as a tack until his very last day, and passed away in his sleep overnight. He was 88 years-old, a member of the Navy, a Duquesne University graduate, father of 15 children, grandfather of nearly 40 grandchildren, and great-grandfather to 12 great-grandchildren. He was an accomplished man, but his greatest accomplishment, which he would surely tell you...was his family.

When my grandmother passed away from cancer just months before I was born, my mom (the middle child) was already out of the house. Though the death of her mother happened at a very young age, she was starting her own family and wasn't living at the family house anymore. But there was a house full of children and teenagers who were suddenly without a mother to take care of them. My grandfather was a single dad who took care of everyone. He loved singing, and laughing, playing cards, and was always generous.

My grandfather wasn't the kind of guy who took you out on weekend trips or hosted sleepovers at his house. There were too many of us, quite frankly. But he knew all of our names, where we worked, who we dated, and more. There was never a time that I talked to him where he didn't ask me how the library was doing. And he always laughed at stories I would tell about working with the public. He had a jolly Irish laugh. I will miss him, surely. But his was a life of celebration, no matter the circumstances. And that is something I will try to remember.

This past weekend my family got together to have a celebration of his life. It seemed fitting that the weather was gorgeous and that over a hundred people came out to join in celebrating his life and sustaining his memory. Most of our family, even those far away, were able to come. Plus friends and other people he met and enjoyed along the way. It was worth the wait to say goodbye to him in this manner. And I can only hope that when my time on this earth as run out, that my legacy leaves such a mark.

James P. McNally

My cousin and her husband put this video together. And I love it because I love seeing how beautiful and charming my grandparents were as young loves. I love seeing my family through the years. And how much my grandfather loved us all back. 


List #241: Lunchtime Obsessions #2

It's a pretty dreary day in Pittsburgh though I suppose a normal spring one. Gray skies, rain, temperatures that can't quite reach warm. I didn't wear tights today and I'm now regretting that decision.

But it is lunchtime. And I am on my lunch break. And I have been obessesing.

  • Snyder of Berlin's Cheese Curls.
  • Fountain Coca-Cola. With freshly squeezed lemon.
  • ICEEs or Slushies. I may prefer one, but I will take either.
  •  Finding the perfect pair of spring shoes. Since I haven't spent money on shoes in years.
  • Making party hats.
  • Tacos. Only because my cravings haven't been realized.
  • Getting Radley cat to love his new cat tree. He likes it but doesn't love it.
  • Wishing I could guest host Saturday Night Live.
  • Defending the How I Met Your Mother season finale.
  • Going to be unreasonably early.
  • Blackberries.
  • Watermelon.
  • Katy Perry's Dark Horse.
Happy Monday. And indulge. 


List #240: Ya Jagoff

In case you you didn't know, my hometown of Pittsburgh is a lovely hometown. People are always willing to lend a hand or meet a new friend. And so doing something like a blog swap among local bloggers is simply an example of its charm.

Today's post comes from John at YaJagoff and is part of a special day of shenanigans from a bunch of Pittsburgh bloggers. You can see my post over at the lovely Emily Levenson's blog where I wear my heart on my sleeve and discuss life as an unexpected mother. I've met both John and Emily a few times in real life, and let me assure you, they truly are two of Pittsburgh's finest. But all of the bloggers in today's April Fool's excitement are a fun group of people, so be sure to check the bottom of this post for the links. 

John's Actual Bookshelf

I originally set out to write a list of books that I’ve read and the associated Jagoffs in each of them.  However, I looked at my bookshelf and realized that the list of real books I’ve read is shorter than the list of people with flip-phones in 2014.

My "step back and punt": make a list like Shannon usually does, that gives some personal insight. My list, “What in the World is on My Bookshelf?”   I’m not a complete ig’nernt Jagoff (Pittsburghese for dumb idiot) when it comes to reading.  One of my favorite books is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged  and recently, I read an unbelievably enlightening book, Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith. 

And now for my, “What in the World is on My Bookshelf?” list.

Top Shelf:
  • EMT and Paramedic training books
    • Some I read while training as a paramedic years ago – Not so many years ago, though, that any of them recommend bloodletting with leeches.
    • One contains a few chapters authored by me.
    • One has me cartooned into it.
    • Most of them used as references when I was teaching new paramedics and EMTs.
    • Large beer glass – I’m certain that I drank lots of beer during my paramedic classes.
Middle Shelf:
  • Books I have enjoyed enough to keep:
    • The World Is Flat
    • Willies Way
    • Why Things Break
    • The Great Game of Business
    • The Tribune Review’s pictorial book of “Summer With Stanley” featuring the Penguin players 2009 summer with the Stanley Cup.
    • The Idiot’s Guide to Wine
    • A cement handprint from one of my kids – I dropped it once and its cracked, please keep that our little secret.
    • My grandfather’s borough council President gavel from the 1940s.
    • Package of Dura Max flame-shaped light bulbs – I have absolutely no explanation for this.
    • City Paper from July, 2012 – It contains a feature article by editor, Chris Potter, explaining why the Pittsburghese word Jagoff is NOT a swear word!  It’s there because I’ve finally stopped cuddling it at night when I go to sleep.
Bottom Shelf
  • Made To Stick a very, very practical marketing book.
  • Collection of books on gardening and home remodeling – These are merely “Scan and Dream” books given my complete lack of handyman skills
  • Menopause Without Medicine – Even more difficult to explain than the light bulb package on the middle shelf
  • Cement handprint from my other kid (that fact that one is on the middle shelf and one is on the bottom shelf does not give insight as to one being a favorite as far as THEY know)
  • Bottle of High Traffic Carpet Cleaner – Given the amount of dust on the bookshelf, this CLEARLY is not a high-traffic carpet area, so its presence is yet another mystery.  I’ve contacted Cyril Wecht to investigate!
Thanks for reading this.  Have a great April Fools’ Day! For me, it’s a Holy Day of Obligation so watch out!

If you have questions about other stuff on the shelves, comment below. Or if you want to share what's on your own bookcase, let us know!

And if you'd like to check out any of the other fantastic set of eclectic blogs involved in today's Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event, links are below:
Yum Yum PGH


List #239: The Chills

This weekend was pretty much a wash. A pretty rough illness took hold on Thursday morning, sent me home from work only about an hour after I arrived, and didn't let me leave the house until Saturday. For only about an hour. Ditto to the boyfriend who came down with the same thing around midnight on Thursday night. Neither of us can remember the last time we were both that sick and chained to the bathroom. 

Things that happened and things that don't happen when you're stuck on the couch or in bed, sick, for a few days on end:
  • Hours of Parks and Recreation.
  • Moaning in pain. 
  • Emails sent to coworkers
  • Trips to malls.
  • Cat cuddles.
  • The depths of Netflix.
  • 10 + hours of sleep. 
  • Backaches from too much couch time.
  • Lots and lots of garbage.
  • Boozy brunch. 
  • Loads of laundry.
  • Hours of How I Met Your Mother, Season 1.
  • Movies.
  • Reading boos.
  • Soup deliveries from coworkers.
  • Chicken broth.
  • Rice.
  • Wasted leftovers.
  • Hot showers.
  • Paper reading.
  • Muppets.
This pretty much sums up the whole weekend. 

So here's to a healthy week. 


Letter #56: Writing Through Time

Here and there and sometimes here I've wrote letters to my future boyfriend. They were mostly written under blankets on my couch in my old apartment. Dreams and wishes that were fueled by past mistakes and what I had hoped for the future. But that was then and this is now. So new letters need to be written.

Dear Partner Who Wakes Up with Me Every Morning,

We don't always get to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Our internal alarm clocks are set to early. Adjustments in growing older, a baby's cries, a needy cat, our inability to be lazy for too long. All fair reasons for getting up with the sun and the perfect excuse for cups of steaming tea while still wearing pajamas.

But when we do ignore the alarms, and let the sun escape the curtains and filter into our bedroom, it's worth it. It's worth it for the way our snores stop and to hear the cat jump out of bed and run down the stairs. It's worth it to have your hand slip into mine and for my foot to find your leg. The two of us wrapped under sheets.

You whisper in my ear and pull back my hair to kiss me in a gentle haze that isn't quite ready to begin the day. And I mumble back an "I love you too" as I wiggle to get closer. This is as warm as we'll be for the rest of the day.

But when we do finally manage to push back the covers and start the day the newspapers to read, the candles to burn, the city to explore, the meals to prepare, the jokes to tell, and the laughs to be had fill in all the gaps.

And when it's all over there are those few minutes at the end of a night. When you're on your side of the bed, and I'm on mine. And the window is cracked and at least one bedside lamp is still glowing. And you're eyes are growing heavier by the second, a book dipping closer and closer to landing on your nose. And I'm already halfway to sleep, my own book thrown to the floor.  And my blanket is draped over my eyes. It's hard to remember the past. Because I never thought it could be this way.


List #238: Old Apartment

Locking Up for the Last Time

I locked up my apartment for the last time this evening. I haven't slept there since mid-October. And I have been living with the boyfriend since before Thanksgiving. But the lease is finally running out at the end of March. And after weeks of procrastination, mixed with bad weather, we taped the last box and threw away the garbage. 

I'm certainly not going to miss it. The carpet was awful, the heat hard to regulate, and the refrigerator was ancient. I was living in one of the last units in my building to forgo a renovation and it would have driven me crazy if I had stay much longer anyway. My rental company was run by shady people who had were guilty of tax evasion. Too many big dogs lived next door. And I never really talked to any of my neighbors.

But, it was mine. It was where I moved on after the most difficult year of my life. It was where my friends showed their love for me by moving all of my stuff, building my kitchen table, and picking up my estate-sale love seat and couch, without any of my help thanks a hospital stay and a Coumadin prescription. It was mine in a neighborhood that I loved, just steps around the corner from the first coworker I was ever really good friends with, and with a fantastic pizza place only a block away. It was spacious and warm and where I always knew quiet would welcome me home.

Two years. (Or, more correctly, a year and almost a half.) Here's what happened inside those walls.
  • Radley Cat was adopted.
  • I learned to sleep alone in a big bed nearly every night.
  • Many bubble baths were taken.
  • Chinese food was ordered. Regularly. 
  • Hours of Parks and Recreation were watched.
  • The cable bill was often paid late.
  • A guy once made me cry in my own bed.
  • I cried on the couch, not related to a guy.
  • Friends danced to Thriller.
  • Friends burnt themselves on glue guns.
  • Cards were played at the kitchen table.
  • Bean burritos were cooked in the kitchen.
  • Parades were watched.
  • Pierogies were taunted.
  • Dance parties. In the living room.
  • Many bad dates were never invited over.
  • Dance parties. In the kitchen.
  • Piles of clothes were ironed while watching television.
  • Tipsy friends slept on couches and in beds with me.
  • Floors were scrubbed.
  • A vacuum was borrowed. 
  • Many candles were burned.
  • One online dating profile was created.
  • My first Christmas tree was displayed
  • Snow fell.
  • One Christmas party was hosted.
  • Pictures of far away places I've visited were hung with care.
  • Friends moved away and I stayed.
  • Saturday mornings meant shopping at the farmer's market.
  • Weekday walks with my mom were treasured.
  • Books were read in bed, in the bathtub, on the couch, in the kitchen, and on the floor.
  • So much of this blog was written.
  • One smoke detector woke me up in the middle of the night.
  • Artwork was purchased to decorate white walls.
  • Clothes were always on the floor.
  • One great date was invited upstairs.
  • Two beers were sipped after one great date.
  • One first kiss.
  • One boy and girl up against a wall.
  • Two people pretended to watch Lincoln.
  • One girl fell in love.
So many things changed within the walls of that apartment. Not overnight, to be certain. There were a lot of lonely nights, uncontrollable self-doubt and sobbing, and unending life questioning. But slowly, things turned around. I may not miss that apartment. And I will certainly not miss those crippling feelings. But I will always look back fondly on that place simply because of the journey that was all about discovery, and failure, friendship, and family, and love.

Good-bye crappy apartment. I hope your next person experiences just as many things. 

List #237: Irish Eyes are Smiling

Even if I didn't get the chance to join in the revelry of Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day celebrations this year, I can still hold my head high and declare my ancestry. Because honestly, America's habit of holding on to our family's pasts generations after our great-great-great-great grandfathers settled on this land is one of the things I love most about this country. Yes, I am American. But I am also Irish, and Polish, and a little bit Austrian too. 

So in honor of those ancestors who came over on ships, worked harder than I can ever imagine, and found Pittsburgh there home, I raise a glass and listen to a few little songs.

Molly Malone
Because my mother taught me this song as a young girl. She sings it every year, teaching her preschool students the chorus and first verse. It's adorable. And it will always remind me of her sweet voice and love. 
Dirty Old Town
Because Pittsburgh used to be known for its dirty and grit. When I was a little girl I thought all songs that talked about downtowns and anything that referenced dirty cities was written about my town. I still think this could fit the Pittsburgh of those days. 
Because this song was in heavy rotation during my middle school years. When I was awkward, and my family had little money, and I was just trying to figure out who in the world I might try to try and become. A female Irish rockstar sounded like a pretty good idea.

Drunken Lullabies
Because I'm embarrassed to admit that up until a few years ago, I weirdly thought that Flogging Molly was Pittsburgh-based Irish band. In my defense, it often seems that this city (or more aptly many of my Irish relatives) have a very big thing for them and no one else outside of this city had ever seemed to hear of them. So I thought they were Pittsburghers who just really embraced their Irish culture and maybe had one or two real Irish members. 

Because when a name like mine, you're required to wear green on St. Patrick's Day...May your day be touched with a little bit of Irish luck. 


List #236: Over the Course of a Weekend

I don't want to say that I'm still adjusting to living with a significant other. The boyfriend and I have been cohabiting for a few months now. And once upon a time in what feels like a lifetime ago, I shared a small and awkward place with someone else. I think we've adjust quite well, and I'm sure caring for a baby helps in that regard, but the final weeks of renting my apartment are coming to a close.

I haven't stayed in my once beloved one-bedroom apartment since before Thanksgiving. I can't even recall the last night I tucked myself into the bed alone. But I'm guessing it was around the time I went away for the weekend, and the boyfriend went away for a week long business trip. After that think we just made the decision to pick up the cat and let my lease run its course.

Besides running hot and steaming water for my bath on freezing winter nights, I haven't missed it all that much. Our shower here is a lot nicer than mine, but the bathtub just isn't as deep.

So in preparation of handing the keys over for real, this weekend was really the time to take care of the big things that we've been avoiding over the last months.

And in the course of a weekend, here is what happened all because one girl moved in with one boy:

  • A brother-in-law met a boyfriend at an apartment to load up a truck.
  • The librairan worked on a strategic plan community meeting.
  • A couch and a love seat was moved to a parents' garage.
  • A dining room table was disassembled. And moved to a parents' basement.
  • Three end tables, each over 20 years old, were placed on the side of the road. 
  • One CD rack from Pottery Barn, a college gift from a babysitting family, was taken outside.
  • Two tarps were purchased.
  • Bubble wrap was ordered. Thanks to Amazon Prime.
  • Bubble wrap was purchased. Thanks to Rollier's Hardware.
  • Prints and postcards and pictures were taken down, boxed, and propped by the front door.
  • Wearing an Allegheny sweatshirt made one old man inside a Chinese restaurant assume that I was rich, conservative, Republican, and Christian.
  • A whole lot of furniture was moved to a new nursery. 
  • Burgatory dinner happened. With alcoholic mikshakes shared and beer consumed.
  • A handful of Parks and Recreation episodes were watched.
  • Texts were exchanged about the effects of the first season of How I Met Your Mother.
  • Two people fell asleep before 10:00 pm on a Saturday night.
  • Daylight Saving screwed with all of our minds.
  • The cat got a few new toys and decided inside bed was the best place to play with them.
  • Loads of laundry were finished.
  • Sunday night came way too fast.
In the end, we aren't really finished emptying the apartment just yet. One more day and perhaps an evening after work will do the trick. I want my owl collection and postcard collection. Moving might be the worst, but you can't complain when it's a good thing. And when other people spend their day off picking up heavy pieces of furniture while you work. 


List #235: Lenten Promises

In 2014 I'm only Catholic by tradition. Meaning I spent eight years attending Catholic grade school, countless Sunday mornings in church, and was Confirmed. But now I have faith in some general god, believe that special people do walk this earth and do good things to be saints, and really only go to church for weddings and funerals. Is this all a little simplistic? Sure. But trying to narrow one's faith into a few sentences for a blog post is actually pretty hard.

Because I am a Catholic by tradition, Lent has always played a part in my life. And yes, I will try to give up something this season. Or at least try to a little more good.

But before I decide, and in between all of the promises I saw people post to Facebook and Twitter swearing off of social media, or promising not to yell at their children for the next 40 days, I couldn't help but remember some of the promises I had made in the past.

  • Every year at my parochial school, the teachers would make us write down our lenten promises on some themed paper. Secrets that no one else would read. And into a big brown basket they would go; to be burned into the ashes that would be placed upon our foreheads.
  • When one teacher finally told us that we could opt to do an extra good thing every day during Lent, instead of giving something up, I very often wrote down doing extra chores for my mother. Or being nicer to my brothers. I honestly have no recollection of doing extra chores. And I was always reasonably nice to my brothers any time of the year.
  • In college, one Ash Wednesday, I attended a nondenominational mass with some of my roommates at the college chapel. During that same time, the local bowling alley was burning down and was the talk of the mass. Years later, this chapel would become famous for a little while after they held a seminar on sex and masturbation inside of it. 
  • On the Good Friday's of my youth, my mom would not let us watch television during the hours that Jesus was dying on the cross. And all of us had to fast. She's gotten a lot lighter on these rules and I really don't know why.
  • Probably the thing I gave up most during Lent's of my childhood were chips and sweets. It was probably a whole lot easier back then considering my mom packed my lunch.
  • In fourth grade, it was (and still is) a tradition for the class to perform the living stations. Everyone in the class had a part and we'd very silently act out the scenes from the stations of the cross. I was one of the women who met Jesus in the eighth station. It was a coveted role because you had to dance too. Thank goodness, I had all of that ballet experience. 
  • As a creature of habit, I still don't really eat meat on Fridays during Lent. My dad was already asked when we're coming over for a Friday fish fry.
  • In graduate school my Young Adult Resources professor dressed monochromatically and brought us in treats every week. For Fat Tuesday she brought in King Cake because she couldn't find enough paczki. Or perhaps it was the other way around.  
  • Now this year, I plan to give up Coca-cola. It will be hard, but no ordering cola in restaurants, none for lunch at work. Though if I get hit with a tension headache or migraine, my favorite soda will have to make an appearance. But I'm hoping for 40 days without a pounding head incident.
So dear readers, do you still give up something for Lent? Even if you aren't Catholic? Share your stories in the comments. 


List #234: 28 Things for February

The universe agrees that February is our worst month. Very few good things truly come out of our shortest month. This year, as it makes its exit, we're bracing for a winter storm (albeit with a due date of March). And frankly, that just seems like the perfect way to say goodbye to February. Well, add some good old fashioned ruminating and you've got...exactly what happens in February.

So, here are things I've been thinking about over the past month:

  • Why can't we find the time to watch the last ten minutes of Despicable Me 2
  • How can I become friends with Joe Biden. 
  • I really truly feel that I can never own enough cardigans.
  • The sadness I will feel with How I Met Your Mother is over. 
  • Radley Cat, please stop doing all of the crazy things you do all night.
  • The innate ability of radio stations to perpetually be three days behind in popular culture news.
  • Where does a librarian go for trusted professional device? 
  • Making out never gets old.
  • More Olympics, please.
  • Sidney Crosby can never do wrong.
  • Why yes, I am sometimes scared to sleep alone.
  • I must, must, must lock the door.
  • Oscars? Blah.
  • Let's press the snooze button two more times.
  • A dog, wearing a sweater, and carrying something on his butt on Liberty Ave., Downtown Pittsburgh.
  • Jimmy Fallon can do no wrong.
  • I must learn all of the words to this song
  • Things that need to be accomplished before bedtime.
  • Pillow fight!
  • Planning a first birthday party.
  • Daydreaming of Chicago.
  • Daydreaming of the beach.
  • Daydreaming of reading books on the beach.
  • Girl Scout Cookies
Here's to getting through the weekend, this storm, and the rest of winter. And coming out safe and happy. 


List #233: Lunchtime Obsessions, #1

One of my strangest personality quirks is my habit of becoming obsessed with something until I can no longer stand it. I will listen, eat, play, talk something until it's close to death. Then I'll fool around with it a little more. Until nope, done. Not touching it ever again.

I'm my own worst enemy most of the time. And this is surely one of the reasons why. Am I OCD? Probably not. But I'm pretty sure I'm just a few inches from the borderline at times.

What am I obsessing over this week?
  • Einstein Brother's Southwestern Vegetarian Soup (with quinoa)
  • Clementines (not Halos or Cuties, but by referring to them as their actual name)
  • This song
Story of My Life ~ One Direction
(I have never watched this video, but the screen shot show it's clearly inspired by *NSync)
  • Conditioning my hair with coconut oil
  • Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show
  • Making sure the nightlight is on in the bathroom
Yeah, I'm an odd bird. I've embraced it.


List # 232: The Things that I Am Opting Not to Put Effort Into This Week

This past Friday, a coworker asked me a simple question. "Should this craft supply go back into our craft supply closet?" 

...there was a reported 7 second pause.

"Yes," I answered.

...15 minutes later.

"Where are those craft supplies," I asked.

To say I was having a rough day on Friday is a bit of understatement. Storytime grandmothers were asking why I looked "extraordinarily exhausted." And I was the crankiest partner ever to the the boyfriend. Seriously, he has the patience of a saint because I'm pretty sure I would have wanted to throttle me across the room. Eventually, a 9:30pm bedtime and a wonderful weekend filled with sunshine and goings about Pittsburgh solved the cranks. 

But suddenly it was Monday again. Filled with forgotten meetings, too many phone calls, strange requests, stress-induced headaches, all of those things that come in from left field, lonely couches, diets, and all of the things that can't even be predicted because it is, after all, only Monday.

So because all of the world seems to be moving at a fast pace and I'm not one of those lucky residents who get to take a winter break to golden beaches, clear water, and warm sun, I'm choosing to limit my efforts this week. 

In this last week of February, I'm choosing not to waste energy on:
  • Caring about the Oscars. I'll watch because I want to see what people are wearing. And maybe because of Ellen. But the rest of it? Meh.
  • Thinking about what librarians wear. I like what I wear. And it's enough trying to iron that every night before I sleep.
  • The WWE. I don't really think of this often anyway, but there seemed to be a lot of buzz about wrestling today.
  • Money. I mean, I'm always stressed about this, but I'm choosing to spend less time thinking about it this week. 
  • People who are still mad USA lost in Olympic hockey. Sure, I was sad for our players, but every game has a loser. Let's just get that gold in 4 years.
  • The Bachelorette. Like Survivor, I'm always shocked this show is still on TV.
  • Bedtimes. But not necessarily in the fun way. If I feel like going to bed at 8:30 pm, then so be it.
And with that, I'm probably off to get under the covers now. 


List #231: So Many of the Things that I Love Today

Photo is from Flickr user Kiwifraiz by use of Creative Commons

I have been a little stressed out lately. Work has many different projects being juggled right now, all awesome, but there is a lot to handle. I'm moving and finally closing out my apartment, but our storage unit is full. I'm reducing the amount of rent that I pay, but I'm trying to straighten out financial missteps from the past. The boyfriend is traveling a lot for work. I blow my nose more than two dozen times a day. I am having trouble sleeping. The list goes on and on. 

Surely, a lot of this is the February blues. And a lot of is the normal amount of anxiety I typically harness just exaggerated because I worry about the little things and there are a whole lot of little things mixed in with just a few big ones. 

But the other day a friend suggested I think about three things that are currently making me happy, to stub all of the other thoughts out in a hush. 

So because I need to harness the happy, I'm writing down the things that I love right now. Given that I already love my friends, my family, and the two adorable men that live with me, here is what else is out there:

Today, I loved:
  • How a good friend surprised me for storytime and for lunch.
  • And then how that good friend surprised me and ordered a grande latte instead of my requested tall.
  • The pink polka dot dress I wore today.
  • Packages on my doorstep.
  • What felt like the first rays on sun shining on Pittsburgh in weeks.
  • How I didn't button my coat when I left work this evening.
  • Getting the gumption to try coconut oil on my hair.
  • Long distance calls over dinner.
  • Cleaning my closets.
  • Organizing freshly washed laundry.
  • Helping my friend solve a small problem.
  • The unexpected amount of time this afternoon that allowed me to get a lot of work done.
  • The toddlers' storytime enthusiasm.
  • Just how cute Jimmy Fallon is. 
  • More Winter Olympics coverage.
  • This sentimental and sweet goodbye to Seth Myers from the SNL writers and cast. 
  • Big blankets and lots of pillows.
  • Ira Glass's voice on my morning commute.
  • The way my cat sleeps with his belly pointed up in the air on the living room chair.
  • Positive notes from people I don't even know.
  • The friendliness of friends that exist only through social media. 
  • Writing.
Here's to finding more things to love about tomorrow. And a good night's sleep. 


List #230: What We Talk About When The Snow Won't Melt

George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun keeps popping into my head. On the cold morning commute, when I'm watching men slide down a long and winding path of ice, when I'm rubbing my feet together between the sheets.

There haven't been too many winters in Pittsburgh where it feels like cold and snow is not just the forecast, but a state of being. This winter feels more like my college days when we'd have to trudge across campus in feet, day after day. And where too much snow on a Friday night might just be enough to keep you inside with computer games and videos.

Winter has taken hold of our bones and until it lets go, this is what is on our minds:

  • Johnny Weir's Olympic fashion choices
  • How horribly awful some people 
  • The absolute no need for 50 Shades of Grey teddy bears
  • Pregnancy announcements/gender reveals/birth announcements
  • How ridiculous the cat is
  • Patriotic babies
  • Bob Costas' eyes
  • Which winter game we would excel in
  • How people don't understand Beats audio
  • How jealous I am of your winter beach vacation
  • Why I am so cold
  • What in the world is taking the Chinese food delivery so long
  • The large amounts of laundry that need to be done
  • Bode Miller
  • How dry my hand are
  • When are we all going on vacation
  • Books that keep us up at night
  • All sorts of things about Anna and Bates and Lady Edith
  • Meryl and Charlie
  • How awesome Canada is
  • All of the hours of tired
  • Icy noses, icy toes, icy hands
So I'm trying to stay warm. And hope you are too. Spring isn't too far off now, right? 


Letter #55: To All of The Single Men

Dear Men Who are Single, 

There are far too many single ladies out there. You need to do something about this.

Correction:  The men who want to find smart kind, compassionate, funny, and determined women need to do something about this.  Those seeking friends with benefits, one-night-stands, relationships without boundaries, and those who don't like to put labels on things are certainly welcome to find what they are looking for. But really, I want to talk to guys who want the kind of women I know.

I know intelligent women. These are women with Masters degrees who put their minds and hearts into their careers. They plan events, talk with bigwigs, write articles for newspapers, run departments, and still find the time to have drinks with friends after work. They visit museums, take in broadway shows, and want to go to an occasional ballet. Intelligent women aren't looking for someone to mirror their own lives, but instead are looking to find someone who will match them in knowledge. They want a partner. They are hoping for someone who pushes them to try new things.

I know women who travel. Yes, it will be pretty easy to find a woman who like sit on the beach a few days a year. But women who travel are a little different. They are the kind who have lived in foreign countries with plumbing systems so ancient flushing toilet paper is forbidden. They are women who can pack more than a week's clothing in one carry one case. They have an abundance of frequent flyer miles and they sometimes know European cities better than their tiny one bedroom apartments. Women who travel want someone who they don't have to pull out of bed for a 5:00 am flight. They're looking for someone who will try new foods and owns a good pair of walking shoes.

I know women who love sports. They aren't afraid to saddle up to the bar and order a beer on a Friday night. They are loyal to only a few select teams. Women who love sports won't turn down tickets to a game and aren't going to shy away from loosing their voice from cheering. They are women who hang more than one jersey in their closet and own more than one or two championship tshirts. Women who love sports are looking for someone who always want to turn on the game, and won't mind if their girlfriend knows a little bit more than they do from time to time.

I know women who know how to love. There are far too many women out there who know how to love but end up with bruised and battered hearts. They've had boyfriends who promise big things and then walk away. They've been forced to move out of shared apartments and split custody with puppies. I know women who have put their heart and soul into a job only to have it fizzle out soon after acquiring it. I know women who have put their lives on hold to support their love through graduate degrees only to have them leave when it's all over. I know women who have pledged vows and kept them, only to have their partner let those vows fall apart. I know women who have multiple online dating accounts and only get messages from men who are shirtless, ask for sex, or can't spell.

So if you're a guy who is also smart, dedicated, compassionate, and enjoyable start paying attention these women. Take the risk and say more than hello to them. She could be on your commute, your elevator, your grocery store, really just about anywhere. Because I know how many good women are out there. I know how many awesome women who will stay way from Facebook on Friday because they don't want to look at endless stream of Valentine's Day bragging. I know how hard it is to think that maybe, you're not going to find what you're looking for.

All the best,

A Lady Who Has Too Much of This In Her History To Forget It