Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the nose knows.

Do you know what's been on my mind lately? Air freshener commercials. Yes, that's right. Air freshener commercials. It seems as though our society has a problem.

We smell awful.

Yes! We do! Because I have neverinmylife seen so many commercials that focus on how bad our world smells and how absolutely-oh-my-goodness-call-the-press we simply must do something about it! I mean, I don't know about you, but I always have an entire fish--googly eyes and all--staring up at me from my kitchen trash can. And onions? Every day, darlings! Also, my pets are stinky. Even though I don't have any. Still, they smell awful. What with the poop I'm sure they're bringing in on their paws and whatnot. So, yes! Whatever shall I do to combat the smell?

There are many ways to get rid of The Stink. Candles. Wax ones. Soy ones. All scented. And there are Thingies we plug in. Thingies we plug in that also blow air. And candles that aren't actually candles but sort of look like candles but really couldn't possibly be candles, because, well, that means there's fire and we simply Can't Have That. We also have things we spray in the air. And things that spray into the air that we don't actually spray. They spray on their own. Every twenty minutes. Because we smell extra bad on a very specific rotating schedule. And we have powders we put on our carpets and then vacuum up. Because even our vacuum cleaners are stinky. And we have sprays. spritzsprayspritzspray, all over our drapes/loveseat/beds/dirtyclothesonthefloor. When Mother-in-Law comes to visit. When the postman delivers a package to the door. When the phone rings. Just in case.

Good heavens, we are so stinky.

And don't forget our laundry detergent! They've added Febreeze and other scents to our laundry detergents on top of the fragrance that's already in them because, apparently, they don't smell good enough, either, because they're too busy removing dirt and grime and sweat and other grody-to-the-max-ness, BUT NOT THE SMELL.

And think about how many celebrities have fragrance lines. I mean, it's not like they need the money. Surely not. But they are living in the same stinky world as us, so clearly they must be thinking I cannot take another moment of this stink! I must rectify this situation of said stink! I know! I shall invent Yet Another Smell in the name of all things non-stinky! Thank goodness for celebrities, or the stinkiness might just get out of control.

I bet the next thing they'll come up with is a button we press on our bodies that neutralizes us instantly. Do It Yourself Deodorant. That's what they'll call it.

And, finally, we won't stink. But then all of those actors in those air freshener commercials will be out of jobs. And that makes me sad.

But not really. Because some of them really stink.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

hair you go.


Feminine Me

Masculine Me


My living room in my apartment

FM: So, like, when are you gonna shave those legs of yours?

MM: When I feel like it.

FM: But, um, don’t you feel, like, gross? I mean, you look like a dude. It’s summer. You can’t wear skirts and dresses with legs like that.

MM: I’m aware.

FM: Well?

MM: As you can see, I’m wearing pants. Nobody’s eyes are offended.

FM: Yeah, but…

MM: Don’t you have a Cosmopolitan to read or something?

FM: {blinks}

MM: You can read, can’t you?

FM: Of course I can read, jerk. I hold two degrees in English, remember?

MM: You never shut up about them.

FM: Look, I’m just trying to get you to take more of an interest in your appearance. You have very nice features. You should show them off.

MM: I’m tired. Shaving my legs is a major event. I mean, I’ve got two of them, for heaven’s sake. TWO. That’s a lot of work.

FM: I have two legs, too. You don’t see me complaining about them.

MM: Do you have any idea of the amount of effort I have to make in order to shave these bad boys? {Lets out a sigh of exasperation.} I mean, I have to sit down on the floor of the shower and exfoliate each leg, which takes forever, and then I have to rinse all that crap off, which means I have to STAND UP, and then I have to get back down on the bathtub floor and lather up each leg, one at a time, while I oh-so-carefully shave three-quarters of my body.

FM: {Tries to do the math.}

MM: I have very long legs. Remember, I’m nearly 6’ tall. That’s a lot of leg. Multiply that by two, and--

FM: {Crinkles nose, bites lip while trying to calculate.}

MM: Oh, never mind.

FM: I’m not good at math. You know this.

MM: It’s just a lot of work. Shaving, that is.

FM: Look, you’re not an exception. All of us women have to do it.

MM: Not all of us. Some of us choose not to. We prefer things au natural.

FM: And how does the Ross-a-tron feel about au natural, may I ask?

MM: {Silent. Looks away sheepishly.}

FM: That’s what I thought. Remember the other day when you’d just woken up from a nap, and your pant leg was all wonky? Your leg was showing. The Ross-a-tron sat down on the bed to say hi, and when he went to straighten out your pant leg for you, he saw your, um, au natural-ness. And he recoiled in horror.

MM: No, he didn’t!

FM: Yes, he did.

MM: No, he didn’t! He just, um, carefully worked around the hair on my leg while he straightened out my pants.

FM: He recoiled.

MM: Alright, alright! Fine. I have hairy legs and I hate to shave. I'm gross and disgusting and unfeminine and I NEED HELP WITH MY SHAVING ROUTINE!

FM: And you’re going to scar the Ross-a-tron for life if you don’t do something about it. C’mon. He deserves some smooth and sexy legs on you.

MM: {grumbles}

FM: What if you go out and buy a new skirt. Something really girly and lovely. Something that you’d totally feel like a bombshell wearing. Would that inspire you to actually shave your legs?

MM: {Makes a pout.} Maybe.

FM: Do you want me to help you?

MM: Eeeew, no! I can shave my own legs!

FM: No, you idiot. Not help you shave. Do you want me to help you pick out a skirt?

MM: Oh. {Let’s out a sigh of relief.} Yeah, sure.

FM: Good. Hand me my Cosmo.

MM: {rolls eyes}

Saturday, May 15, 2010



It's a yellow Cape Cod with brown trim, tucked away at the end of a quiet street in Wheeling, West Virginia. The neighborhood is Warwood. The backyard has a fence, and my mother throws birthday parties there for me and my brother. I lean over the back of a kitchen chair, clothespins in my tiny hands, and I aim for the opening of the milk bottle on the ground. I win a prize regardless if it goes in. So do the other children at the party. I have a bedroom upstairs, filled with pink bedding and brown furniture. My brother's room is across the hall, its minty green walls cast a familiar glow into the doorway of my own room. My parents sleep in their bedroom downstairs.


It's a split-level in the suburbs of Chicago with a black tar driveway that smells like heaven on a hot summer day. The backyard's giant cherry tree provides hours of entertainment during the summer: climbing, picking, smelling. The swingset/fort combination my father built stands at attention in the back right corner of the yard. I sit in the sanbox underneath it, the cold granuals sticking between my little toes. On the side of the house, my mother's rose bushes radiate a blushing pink and a deep red. The smell is heavenly. I start school. I go for walks in the neighborhood, selling my Girl Scout cookies door-to-door, my little red wagon trailing behind me, as is my mother. We sit at the kitchen table, my father telling us we're moving. There are speckles in the Formica table top underneath where my fork rests.


There are 27 trees on the property at the bottom of the hill of our street in Mansfield, Ohio. And a swing set out back. My bedroom has two of everything--the result of having twin girls as the previous residents. There are two closets, which connect in the middle with a set of shelves. A long, built-in desk the length of one wall, with two openings for chairs. There are even dressing room lights above a mirror at one end--an indicator of my future profession. It is the place where we live when my father first performs with a symphony. We bring home Daisy, our Boston Terrier, here. I break my arm on Mother's Day, in the backyard, on the swing set. My brother and I become best friends. It is my favorite home. Ever.


Mars. The town, not the planet. As in Mars, Pennsylvania. Soon to be Cranberry Township. The walls are pink, to match the previous owner's cherry furniture. I am in high school, playing piano, acting in theatre, kissing boys. I paint a giant earth on my closet door, my homage to environmentalism. I experience my first real heartache. My mother is very, very ill. My brother gets arrested for the first time. I decide I want to go to Juilliard. I chicken out. The gravel driveway freezes in the winter, a sheet of solid ice. The rhododendrans are gorgeous. My father cuts down the two pine trees in the front. I go to college. Twice.


London. A flat in the East End. Across from my university. I have no central heat, so I sleep with my shoes on. I am homesick, but excited. I take the Tube everywhere. I spend hours upon hours on the South Bank. I walk through the streets, pretending I'm a native. I am cast in a play. I perform at the Harold Pinter Theatre on Mile End Road. I am the only American. I play Balderdash in my kitchen with other foreign students. Toben, Marissa, Nadim and I are best friends. And then we're not. I go to Paris on the EuroStar and speak the language as best I can. I read 4 books a week for class, and I tire of it. I get a kidney infection, go to three different hospitals for treatment, and eventually drop out and return to the States to get better.


It is not my home. Wisconsin. My aunt and uncle take me in. I sleep in my cousin Jil's room, and then the guest room. The dog barks and pees and poops everywhere. The TVs are always on in every room. I work two part-time retail jobs. I try to be a model with the Ford Modeling Agency, taking the train from the cornfields to the Windy City, two-hours roundtrip. I fail. I fall in love. I cry every night. I spend time at the Lake at night, in my car, talking into the camcorder about my sadness. I am miserable.


My very first apartment. In the cornfields of Wisconsin. I'm an assistant manager at a clothing shop. I am heartbroken and left behind. I weep into the carpet of my living room floor. I want out. Forever.


With my parents. Again. I start graduate school. And I get a full-time job. My life re-begins.


My second home, an apartment in the city. There are trees and sidewalks and patches of soft green grass. I have a fireplace in my bedroom. The train tracks are nearby. My best friend lives below me. I am still in graduate school and loving my full-time job. My bathroom is one of my favorite rooms. My landlord treats me like one of her own children. I meet the Ross-a-tron. And there is so. much. love. I start acting again. And modeling more often. I meet wonderful people who change my life. I settle in.

I am home.

I am finally home.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Friday, May 07, 2010

the doctor is in.

Not only is she gorgeous, she's brilliant. And perhaps the kindest, most gracious, and most elegant woman I know.

That's my Rita. And today she received her Ph.D.

Rita, your friendship--all 13 years of it--has changed my life. And I feel honored to be a part of yours. I look back at our freshman year of college at Duquesne, and I can't believe that all these years later, I get to share in this day with you. To think that we spent time in college together, went our separate ways, ended up back at Duquesne for graduate school at the same time, and are now celebrating the end of a tremendous journey towards your Ph.D. makes my heart swell and my eyes fill with tears of the purest joy! Ours is truly a love story--a love story of friendship, devotion, literature, and triumph. And people wonder why we study stories as we do!

Thank you for never making me feel as though I wasn't smart enough for graduate school. Thank you for always supporting me and for making me feel that not going on for my Ph.D. was okay--that it didn't mean I wasn't smart enough, talented enough, or worthy of it. Thank you for helping me realize that a Master's Degree in Literature is nothing--nothing--to scoff at. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't think I could write another sentence, think another critical thought, articulate another idea.

Thank you for making me feel I have value...value beyond the Ivory Tower of the Academy.

And thank you for letting me share in your most special day. I am proud of you in a way that I will never find the words to express. My heart is overflowing for you today. And I know, without a doubt, that you are going to change the world. You are going to touch lives and inspire students, just as you have with me.

I love you, lady.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

a new life.

If you are a blogger or just read blogs, chances are you know about Stephanie Nielson of NieNie Dialogues. Stephanie and her husband Christian survived a terrible plane crash in August of 2008. Below, you can see a short video about their lives now. And you can read Stephanie's beautiful blog here.

She will always be an inspiration to me and a daily reminder of just how good God truly is. I hope you will always be reminded of that as well.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Monday, May 03, 2010


There's just something about him. Can you feel it? Like that spot next to his eye. It's so soft when I kiss it. It feels like home.

with love from Pittsburgh,