Wednesday, December 10, 2008

once again, a bird

You'd think that I wouldn't want anything to do with my laptop, seeing as though it's been stuck to me like an extra appendage since last week. That's the thing about graduate school. You and your laptop end up in a pretty significant relationship with one another. Sometimes you fight, sometimes you swoon, and sometimes you just get plain ol' sick of each other. I almost hit that point today. After writing for days on end in what seemed like a non-stop way, I almost picked this thing up and threw it across the room. Something happens when you're trying to write (notice the word "trying") and you just Can't Get The Words Out. But you have to. Because your advanced degree and your reputation as a scholar are at stake. So you push. And push. And puuuuuuuuuush. Tonight, I pushed my final push of the semester. I finished my course paper. After days of having words like "intertextuality" and "phantasmagoria" (don't worry, it's not as sexy as it sounds) flying from my fingertips and up onto the screen, I have finally finished. Fifteen pages, which really isn't much at all but sure-as-hell-feels-like-it-anyway, focusing on the ways in which (are you ready for this?) the female body functions to allow and/or disallow agency in the intertextual and extratextual space of gothic drama, sit in my flashdrive, my hard drive, AND my email (when you've work this hard, you can never be too safe) ready to be printed out and turned in first thing tomorrow morning.

I am done. With the semester. And I can finally breathe. One more to go. After five long years, I have one semester left. Thank you, Jaysus.

It's been a long, rough semester. I have pushed. And pushed. And pushed. But every grad student does. It's part of your degree requirement. The whole "pushing" thing. And, boy! Are my arms tired!

So, as I sit here in bed, lights out, and apartment quiet, and down the hall my kitchen table is covered in papers and notes and books and more papers and notes and books, I take a deep breath and exhale. I am free. I am free of the weight of expectations for yet another semester. I am free from the weight of thesis statements and critical arguments and deadlines. I am free from heavy theoretical frameworks by Butler and Foucault and Kristeva. I am free from long nights of reading and reading and reading while simultaneously trying to stay awake. I am free from working the full-time job from 7-5 and then going to class from 6-9. I am free.

At the end of yet another semester, I am free.

With love from Pittsburgh,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

poem for wednesday.

It feels heavy in my chest
This sensation
Of trying to understand
Why the weight can't be lifted.
This weight
Of what feels like
The World
On my heart and in
My head
Of worries I shouldn't be worrying
For people I don't know
And situations that aren't mine.

But I hurt. It hurts. My chest is heavy.
And I feel overloaded
By what is out there--the world.
The images on the tv, the sounds on the radio,
the pixels on my HP, which I
Before bed is no time to look.
But I do.
I am tired.
So tired.
Of feeling this heaviness.

And last night
A sudden rupture
in my heart
from something said
that was taken wrong
and my heart burst and burst and
while it sunk.
And anger rose.
And frustration surfaced.
And sadness consumed.
And now
I am tired.
So tired.
Of walking on eggshells.
Of worrying.
About it. About this. About that.
But the love is there.
For him for her for everyone.

I almost cried when I walked into the room tonight
before class.
I made my tea, and while the water boiled, I reclined
on the sofa and covered my eyes
trying to block it all out
but the voices from my classmates
wouldn't allow it.
And I wanted the tea to
Take It All Away.
The scent of the blueberries
staining their sweetness
into my heart
to heal and soothe
and bring peace.

The warmth was nice,
but my heart still hurt.
Just as my head does now.
But I am here in bed,
waiting for the sleepy-time pills
to take me away to the place
where my heart
will not feel heavy.

I am tired.
So tired
as I write this poem for Wednesday.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Monday, August 25, 2008

memories of a degree.

When I saw them coming--in their vans, their SUVs, their pick-up trucks--I had a flashback.

Suitcases. Halogen floor lamps. Full-length mirrors. All manner of Rubbermaid containers.


Lines and lines of vehicles, each jammed full of all the bits and pieces of a life of eighteen years. A simultaneously worried and excited face peering out from the back passenger window. Eyes gazing up, and down, and to the left, and to the right.


Tents, carts on wheels, name tags hanging from the well-versed habitants of this place. Signs pointing to various locations/help points/parking spaces.


"Excuse me," she says, her daughter by her side, timid, but trying to be brave. "Can you tell me where the Union is?"

I smile. I look into her eyes and see A Mother Letting Go.

"Sure. How 'bout I take you there?"

A look of surprise. And relief.

"Oh, thank you," she says.

Mother and daughter, and father, too, walk with me towards the destination. They're from twenty minutes away. She's their first. And only. They've heard such wonderful things about the university. She wanted to come here. Because it's wonderful. Communications. Non-profits. Those are the possible paths she'll take.


I stand on the tenth floor of the parking garage, and I look out of the big window by the elevators. I see the campus. The people, small and many. The vehicles still making their ways to the unloading zones.

And I remember when it was My Turn. As if it were yesterday. But it was eleven years ago. My current place of study, my current place of employment...I cannot leave this place. My first year as a freshman here was not my first year as a freshman. I'd dropped out of the first university I went to--homesickness, feeling out of place, and good old-fashioned fear led to my departure. I came here for Freshman Year Number Two. And it changed my life.

I remember the way my father packed the trunk and backseat of the car so methodically that I was convinced he was, in fact, an engineer and not a steel worker. The way he planned the journey--all thirty minutes of it--so that stress was not an option, but organization and a well-thought-out experience were. I remember the way my mother put non-perishable foods in a grocery bag and tied it tight, to keep it safe, before it arrived in my dorm room after the journey on the interstate.


The love I felt from my parents--even my mother, despite her illness--made it possible. Made me want to stay and learn and grow and be brave and meet people and change my life into the life it was supposed to be. My parents. My.Beautiful.Parents. They cheered for me in my Freshman Year Number Two.

I did it. I went to college. I had their love and my brain and our courage. I survived.



And today, as the freshman went to class for the very first time, I whispered a prayer for each and every single one of them. To be brave. To grow. To reach out. And in. Of themselves and towards themselves. To have peace and a place.

To let this place be for them the saving grace it was and is for me.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. rest
2. a clean apartment
3. faith
4. a healthy breakfast of soft-boiled egg and toast
5. getting to bed early

with love from Pittsburgh,

Friday, August 22, 2008

she's lost her mind.

I have wanted to write about this topic for quite some time, but I've always come up with excuses as to why I can't/shouldn't/won't. And then, like the Blogger Gods always end up causing me to do, I was smack dab on the front door step of Petunia Face's heart, being reminded that writing about the difficult stuff is often the most important, most theraputic, and most full-of-grace thing a Blogger can do. Or a human can do. And I knew, right then and there, that my story needed to come out. It needed to move from my heart, down my arms, into my hands, and out of my fingertips. Because it is My Story. And it is my belief that it might be someone else's, too. And what more beautiful reason is there than that: to share a story, with and between others. Friends. Fellow travelers on this trip of life.

And so, I share this story--My Story--for Petuina Face, for you, dear reader, and for me. (Petunia Face: If only you could be here with me now, holding my hand, helping me through this, telling me I'm not alone...Why, oh, why must you be in California?)

(The tears have already begun...they sting my eyes...they blur my vision...)

When I was 10, my mother came to me one day and announced that she was going to Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia. We were a middle-class, Midwestern family. Members of it didn't go to Yugoslavia. Yugo-what-ee-ah? I thought she was crazy. She said that she wanted to be a part of the phenomenom of the Virgin Mary appearing to a group of young people there. Again, I thought she was crazy.

She went to Medjugorje, and when she returned, she returned a different person. She locked herself in her room all day, she wrote in notebooks--so many that they lined the perimeter of my parents' bedroom, in stacks and stacks. In those notebooks she wrote to Jesus. Or she wrote the words Jesus spoke to her. She claimed she was a prophet. My mother. The Prophet. She went to Mass every single day--sometimes twice a day. She prayed the rosary from sun-up to sun-down. She became obsessed. She stopped keeping house. My parents' bedroom became a mess. Something was wrong. I was young, but I wasn't dumb.

A couple of years later, we moved. Same city, different house. Mom got worse. She didn't get out of bed. Except to go to Mass. Or pray. Or write in her notebooks. Again, housekeeping took a backseat.

A year and a half after that, Dad got a job in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. So, we moved again. I was thirteen. And Mom? Yes. She got worse. My brother and I used to make bets on the busride home from school.

"I think she'll still be in bed," I'd say.

"I think she's asleep, too," he'd say.

We weren't really making bets with each other. We were just coming to terms with what we knew was the truth. Our mom was weird. And we hated it.

By the time I was sixteen, I was the woman of the house. Mom spent all of her time at church, or in her room praying, or writing, or sobbing to Jesus. And the house was disgusting. I was so embarrassed. I hated when people stopped by unannounced. I only invited friends over if 1) I had time to clean, and 2) Mom was at church or in her room.

Then the hallucinations started. Demons in her bedroom. Voices in her head. The random screaming. Even if I had friends over. The time I had a boy over for the first time--a boy I really liked. We sat in the living room one Christmas, enjoying the tree. And then the screaming started. Upstairs. From my mother's bedroom. My heart. Breaking.

And there was the weird behavior: Locking herself in her bedroom. Pushing furniture in front of the door. Dousing the car with holy water before she went to get groceries. Inviting friends from church over to lay prostrate in front of the nearly life-size Virgin Mary statue we had in our living room. Making my brother and me pray the rosary with her and my dad every night after dinner. (Disclosure: My dad didn't like it, either. But he did it to keep her calm.)

I hated her.




And, finally: at Christmas of my junior year in high school, she went into a mental hospital. But it wasn't a normal mental hospital. It was a Christian mental hospital. Could we possibly add any more fuel to this fire that continued to rage and rage out of control? I remember visiting her with my dad--my brother wouldn't come--and on the carride home, I put my seat back, turned my face to the passenger's side window, and cried silently, so my dad wouldn't know how much it hurt. How much I wanted a mom. How much I hated this woman I didn't know.

In college, it was much of the same. My twenty-first birthday was one of the worst memories I'd had up to that point. She and my father drove to my campus, a mere 30 minutes away from home, to take me out for late-night dessert after my theatre rehearsal. Mom was acting funny. We arrived at the restaurant too late: Kitchen Closed. I was disappointed. We were going to try another place, but I said, "Nah. Take me back to campus, please." I sat in the front seat--the Birthday Girl Seat. My mom rode in the back. And then started to yell incoherently. As if in tongues. I was terrified. My dad continued to drive as if everything was as normal as could be. When they dropped me off in front of my dorm, I bolted from the car, crying. It was a Friday night. Students were outside everywhere. My mom opened the door of the car, and cried out, "Laura, please. Take my gift!" I didn't want it. I wanted to get away from her. My dad said, "Connie, get back in the car. Connie, please. Just get back in the car." Everyone was staring. "Laura, please!" she yelled. I grabbed the gift bag as fast as I could, hugged and kissed my dad, and ran towards my dorm's front door, sobbing the entire way.

The present? Padded hangers.

Happy 21st birthday.

And then the hospital visits became more frequent. Sometimes she'd be there for a couple of days. Other times it would be for a week or so. The nights I'd get calls from my dad while I was at college: "Your mom went to St. Francis again this afternoon. Just thought you should know." Or, "I took your mom to the hospital and didn't even have time to pack her bag. Would you mind running home, packing some stuff, and meeting me at the hospital?"

Do you know how painful that is? To go home to your parents' empty house, rummage through your mother's dresser, select underwear, socks, some pants and tops--and make sure you get her slippers--all so that she'll be comfortable while she's in a psych ward?

(The tears...the tears...they blur my vision...)

And then The Big One came. I was living in the Midwest. As if the pain wasn't enough. She was admitted to the Torrence State Mental Hospital. A state institution. Two hours from my parents' home.

For a year.

And my dad, God Bless Him Always, drove to see her several times a week. Four hours roundtrip. Because he made a committment in the eyes of God. In sickness and in health.

And then I came home for 48 hours that Christmas. Because that's all my retail job would allow. (Because nothing--NOTHING--is more important than retail at Christmas.) And my dad and I drove to see my mom. In the psych hospital. On Christmas Day. Without my brother. Because he refused to come. And there were bars on the window of the room we got to meet her in. And the staff had to inspect our presents. To make sure nothing was sharp. Or had glass. Or could be used to hurt herself.

Merry Christmas. But not merry at all.

And I sobbed the whole way home.

And two months ago she attempted suicide. A story I cannot share with you quite yet. But she was on life support for three days. And do you know what I did?

I prayed that God would take her.

I prayed so hard. As her blood pressure dropped. As the ambulance raced to get her. As my dad's shaky voice on the phone got shakier.

I prayed. God, please take her. Take her from this pain--mine, hers, my family's. Take her.


But He didn't.

(the tears...the tears...they blur my vision...)

And when she woke, she went back into the hospital. For a month.

He didn't take her.

And now she's home. Again. And I don't know what will happen next. The meds have stabled her a bit. She has learned how to use email. She even text messages me sometimes. There are moments in which She Has Her Mind. But I wonder when she will lose it again.

And my father...the sadness I feel for him cannot be put into words. Not here. Not anywhere. God Bless Him. God Bless Him.


This is schizophrenia.

This is what it looks like. What it sounds like. What it does.

And I wish--oh, how I wish--that she'd had cancer instead.

There's an end with cancer. Either the sweet release of death for the body, or the death of the cells and then a cancer-free body. From chemo. Radiation. Pills. The suffering eventually ends. Yes, it is terrible--I have watched ones I love suffer from it. I have watched bladder cancer, brain cancer, and skin cancer claim the lives of three of the greatest loves of my life. But that suffering, for me, for my family, was never anything close to what we've felt as we watch my mother suffer. Twenty years it's been.

TWENTY YEARS. No release. Just suffering.

With schizophrenia, there is no sweet release. There is no cure. There is no way to make her mind healthy. It is continual pain.

Pain, pain, pain.

Oh, how I wish she'd had cancer.

And I miss my mother. The one I never had.

I will never know what it's like to have a mother-daughter bond. Her mind doesn't allow it. She bore me. That is all.

(the tears...the tears...they blur my vision...they cleanse my soul)

with love from Pittsburgh,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

god at the grocery store.

So, I don't know what the heck is wrong with me lately, but I've been experiencing what I shall henceforth describe as Perpetual PMS, or PPMS. (My dear gentleman readers, perhaps this would be an opportune time to Google "baseball," "sportscars," or, um, "bikini models." I shall take no offense whatsoever should you bid me adieu at this juncture.)

Now, I must toot my own horn here for a moment and proclaim that I am not a Hormonal Monster of Tyrannical Proportions when I have PMS. The Ross-a-tron will attest to this fact. I do not get mean. I do not get moody. I do not get accusative, sulky, or bitchy. In fact, when I get PMS, what I really get is an urge to clean. That's right. My apartment is as tidy as can be when I have PMS.

So, what stereotypical symptom do I have when PMS rears its head?

I get a bit weepy. And sentimental. And...soft. I cry at insurance company commercials (especially State Farm's--Yes! I want to cry to the television screen. Yes, I AM in good hands! Thank you for being concerned about my needs! Oh, thank you!). I want to send emails to everyone I know and love and tell them just that: that I love them and am so glad they're in my life. And I get emotional when I see older people. Grandma and Grandpa-type people.

So, lately, I've been experiencing PPMS for some reason. Hence, the nostalgic and sentimental feelings that led me to Google people from my past (see yesterday's post). And one of those State Farm insurance company commercials came on yesterday morning while I was eating my breakfast, and I could feel my eyes start to leak. Not a lot. Just a bit. But leak they did.

So, last night, around 9 p.m., I went to the grocery store. I shop at night because it's less crowded and much better for my nerves. (City grocery shopping can be like an Olympic sport sometimes, so I try to go when the Main Event is over [never on the weekend and always after 9 p.m.]) And it was in aisle 11A (Ice Cream, Frozen Pizza, Frozen Breakfast Foods) that my PPMS went full tilt.

There he was. This precious Grandpa-type. Pushing his cart. Slowly. Away from the ice cream section. I peaked as inconspicuously as possible into his cart: a couple of pieces of fruit, some bread, milk, and ice cream.

Not Breyers. Not Ben & Jerry's. Not even Turkey Hill.

The value brand. Which is actually called Valu Time. The flavor? Cookies n' Cream.

And my eyes got this leaky, stinging feeling. The Ross-a-tron looooooves Cookies n' Cream. It's his favorite. But it must, must, must be Breyers. So why was I emotional at the sight of this lovely old man and his grocery cart? And why was I so concerned about the brand of his ice cream?

Because when I see older people, especially if they're alone, I get incredibly sad. Genuinely, heart-achingly sad. I instantly think of my grandparents (God rest their beautiful souls). My Nana, my Pappap, and my Grammee. And I think about how much I miss them. And I think about my Pappap, who lived alone after my Nana died. And I imagine him shopping, cooking, eating, being...all alone. And I imagine them struggling to pay their bills. Social Security checks aren't much. And they'd lived through the Depression, a World War, other wars, etc. Older people have had experiences that many of us will never be able to comprehend.

So when I saw this older man pushing his cart, my heart started to ache for what he might have experienced in his life. And I imagined that he couldn't afford the more expensive brand of ice cream. And it broke my heart. I imagined him going home to an empty house, scooping out two or three clumps of the ice cream and putting it in his favorite bowl, and plopping down in his easy chair. In front of the television. Alone. But happy that he had his ice cream. Happy that he was alive to enjoy it, regardless of what brand it was.

And I thought about my own life. Yes, dear readers. I thought about my life in the thirty seconds I spent in the proximity of this man in aisle 11A. I thought about how wasteful I am. I thought about how I should buy the cheaper brand sometimes, but don't. I thought about how blessed I am to have "things" and a beautiful apartment and wonderful friends and a loving family. And Breyers ice cream in my freezer. Yes. Right now.

And on the drive home I decided that I didn't want to imagine that man alone, struggling to pay his bills and only being able to afford Valu Time ice cream. What if, I asked myself while sitting at the traffic light at the corner of S. Negley and Ellsworth, what if he was picking up ice cream to take home for himself and his beautiful wife of 53 years to enjoy. Together. On their back porch. While talking about their 5 grandchildren. And listening to the quiet breathing of their dog and loving companion, Sparky, who is sleeping at their feet. What if he was buying the Valu-Time ice cream so he could put just a little bit more money aside for his grandkids' college funds?

My point in all of this is that I need to learn to trust more. I need to try to believe that others are provided for, taken care of, and thankful for whatever it is that they have--be it a roof over their heads or Valu Time ice cream. And I need to be reminded of just how blessed I am. I spent $80 at the grocery store tonight. I bought some "extras" that I didn't really need: Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, Nature Valley Granola Bars, two boxes of Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas instead of one. Some people have to make $80 stretch through the entire month for their groceries. I spent it in less than an hour.

So, maybe I don't have PPMS after all. Maybe it's just God's little way of tapping at the door of my heart. Maybe He's just reminding me that there are blessings all around, that there is goodness, abundance, and love. So I have a soft heart. So I worry about people, even strangers. So I get a little misty-eyed when I see commercials that focus on caring for others (even if it is insurance). So what?

I am in good hands. And I must trust that others are as well.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. my job
2. money for groceries
3. the man in aisle 11A
4. my digital camera
5. Picasa

with love from Pittsburgh,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

drivers of fancy cars.

Okay. So, I've been wanting to blog about this for a while now, but haven't been quite sure how to go about it, as I am a Bit of a Wimp and don't want to offend anyone. But, I'm on vacation, and so my Wimp-o-Meter is down and I'm just Not Really Caring at present.

So, here goes.

Drivers of fancy cars. I'm irritated by them. Tremendously. Let me tell you why.

I drive a lot. Pittsburgh is a beautiful, wonderful city in many ways, but it does lack significantly in its public transportation department. Sure, we have buses. But we don't really have a subway. Which most Pittsburghers will never understand. We have a pathetic attempt at a subway, which the city calls The "T." Yes, it just has a letter for a name. That's how pathetic it is. The "T" is a tiny little subway system that runs throughout the downtown area and out towards southern parts of the city. And that's it. What about those of us who don't frequent downtown or who don't live in the southern parts of the city? We needn't go anywhere? We aren't important? We don't have needs? Oh, rubbish, Pittsburgh. Rubbish with a capital "R" don't you know.

So, as a result, my car and I have a pretty serious relationship with the city. Sure, I could take the bus, but it just takes FOREVER to get anywhere if you go by bus. And anyone who knows me knows that I am a mover and a shaker. And I can't handle standing in the rain or the snow, waiting for the bus. Call me a diva. Call me spoiled. Call me honest.

Thus, all of the driving I do results in all manner of interesting experiences on the roads. And I like to think that I am a good driver. I am courteous: I give the thank-you wave to drivers who let me merge in front of them. I am patient: I don't blare on my horn if the car in front of me decides not to cross the intersection even if he/she could have made it without being hit by oncoming cars. I don't have a need to swerve in an out of lanes so as to keep at a constant speed and not be slowed down by other drivers (despite my mover-and-shaker-ness). I realize that driving is a responsibility. It is a blessing that I am ever-thankful for. I like to think that I am a relaxed and appreciative driver.

Except when I encounter drivers of fancy cars. Then I get a little, um, angry.

Let me explain.

I drive a 2004 Chevy Aveo. It's my Meep Meep, as I call it. I do not have money. And even if I did, I certainly wouldn't spend it on a car. Accidents happen, people.

So, when I'm driving, obeying the law, being courteous, etc., and I encounter the 40-something business man driving like he's God's Gift to Creation in his Fancy Schmancy Lexus, I want to throw up. Yes, call me judgemental. Go ahead. I am aware of this fault of mine. But I must remain honest. I can't stand drivers of fancy cars.

The dude in the Lexus doesn't use his turn signal. Ever. He rides my bumper. All the time. Even when I'm going 10 or 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. He pulls out in front of me, oblivious to the three inches that separate our steel contraptions. He blares his horn if I don't pull out into the intersection at that exact moment when he thinks I should. He pulls up to my right when I'm trying to make a turn into oncoming traffic, thus making it impossible to see what's coming from the right because he's too impatient to wait his freakin' turn.

He's a jerk. Plain and simple. And do you know why? Because he has money. And a fancy car. And he thinks that the rules don't and shouldn't apply to him. He's special, in case you were wondering. He's clearly more important than any of us drivers of practical cars. He has much more important places to be, his time is far more precious, and his shiny-ness (both of his car and of his skin/hair/outfit/watch) gives him the right-of-way.

Oh, and the plastic Barbie-esque woman in the Mercedes? Who parks her car illegally because the rules don't apply to her, either? Despite signs that say "No Parking," Barbie and her Mercedes become illiterate at that moment. She has places to go and people to see, my dear readers. She can't POSSIBLY park in a regular parking spot and, heavens forbid, WALK to the entrance of the store like the rest of us. That would take far too long. And what if a neighboring car door accidentally brushed up against her shiny silver piece of German engineering? I bet she'd stomp her Jimmy Choo sandal and have a tantrum.

I guess this rage comes from my utter disgust at the way in which our society worships conspicuous consumption. Materialism, materialism, materialism. Gag me. It's all about these "things" we have, these material items that show how much money we have, how much success we've achieved, how Important and Fabulous we are. And a car--a fancy car--seems to convey all of this in one fell swoop.

It makes me really sad, quite frankly. What if those drivers of fancy cars downsized to more practical cars and took the difference in the car payments and donated it to a different charity every month? Someone who is hungry might be able to eat if that driver of the fancy car stopped thinking about his or her own image and started thinking about the welfare of his or her fellow humans.

And what if we started thinking about success in terms of how much we've helped others as opposed to how far we've climbed the corporate ladder?

Or what if we realized that we are Important and Fabulous because we offered a helping hand, cooked a meal for someone hungry, helped a stranger, or donated our money/time/talents to a cause that needed it more than our garage needed a BMW?

Sure, I bet there ARE drivers of fancy cars out there who donate to charities, feed the hungry, help strangers, and offer helping hands. I believe that. There are good people everywhere, behind the wheels of every kind of car imaginable. But why is it that I always encounter the drivers of fancy cars who DON'T seem to be those types of people? Where are the NICE drivers of Porsches? Where are the courteous, patient, law-abiding drivers of the Cadillac Escalades? Where are the Audi owners who use turn signals and don't drive like they own the universe? Show yourselves!

I'm not perfect, people. I'm not trying to convey that. I have many faults. I do judge sometimes. I do get irritated. And I do get frustrated. I just wish that I could meet a driver of a fancy car who was kind, generous, a courteous driver, and humble. But I have yet to do so.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. first official day of my vacation
2. my computer and the internet
3. Goodwill
4. my car (practical and un-fancy as it is)
5. air conditioning

with love from Pittsburgh,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Girl Effect.

This gave me chills. But in a good way. (Make sure your sound is turned up.)

Many thanks to Miss A. who shared this with us.

I.Am.Moved. I hope you are, too.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

papa's day.

Father's Day is one of my favorite holidays. My dad is, without a doubt, one of the greatest loves of my life and one of the most amazing men and humans I've ever known. And I love the fact that he gets his own special day.

Today I will be driving to my parents' house with my beloved, Ross, to celebrate this special day with my dad. But before I do that, I thought I'd write a quick post about why I think my dad is so great and some of the wonderful things I've learned from him.

1. Back when he was in high school, my dad was in Catholic seminary, studying to be a priest. After high school, he went off to college at Wheeling Jesuit College (now University) in Wheeling, W.V. Then he met my mom, and, well, that was the end of studying to be a priest! Regardless, he's always been a man of great faith, unconditional love, and extreme kindness. God has always been in his heart, and I think that's awesome.

2. My parents have been married for 34 years. It hasn't always been easy. My mother suffers from a form of schizophrenia called schizoaffective disorder. She has been in and out of psych wards, hospitals, transitional care homes, etc. My father continues to stay by her side. Most men would leave if an illness as debilitating, difficult, and frustrating as this befell their wives. As a matter of fact, we just went through another "episode" with my mom--a pretty serious one--and he's still here, taking care of her, loving her unconditionally.

3. One of my most favorite lessons I learned from my dad was the importance of acknowledging people by their names. For example, every time we'd go to the grocery store, my dad would always thank the cashier by his or her name. It sounds like such a little thing, but after witnessing it in action over the years, and then trying it out myself, I realized that it is, in fact, quite a big deal. The cashier's face lit up, eye contact was made, and a smile crossed his or her face in a way that seemed to say, "Wow, thanks! You're acknowledging me as a real person and not just some robot behind the register." I suggest we all try to do this little act of kindness. You'll be amazed at the results. I continue to do it everywhere I go: the movie theatre, the post office, Blockbuster. It warms my heart every time.

4. My dad is big on eye contact. Anytime a serious discussion was being had, he'd demand (nicely, of course) that eye contact be made. I think it's his way of making sure that there's understanding and connection. He's such a softy, despite the fact that he's 6'4".

5. A family friend of ours was struggling after the loss of her husband--struggling financially, emotionally, etc. She was having significant trouble with her car. My dad, being the superstar that he is, bought her another one. It was used, but it was in good shape. That memory is one of the fondest about my dad. His selflessness and his natural ability to just help people out in big ways reminds me of the importance of thinking of others first, of wanting to make sure that others are comfortable, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

6. My dad got a bonus at work recently. It was significant. He ended up giving a portion of it away to a colleague who had some serious medical bills to pay off. 'Nuff said.

So, on this Father's Day, I honor my dad and I thank God for blessing me with a parent of extremely high regard, as well as a friend who is one of my best. I will never know the difficulties of being a parent until I have my own children, should that ever happen. But I do know the love of being a child to one of the greatest parents out there. And I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if it weren't for him.

Thanks, Daddy. I love you like you don't know.

with love from Pittsburgh,