Saturday, February 19, 2011


I have a confession. I'm rather embarrassed to be an American these days.  I don't really talk politics.  Like, ever.  It hurts too much, quite frankly.  Republicans calling Democrats a bunch of heartless, anti-American Socialists.  Democrats calling Republicans a bunch of fear-mongering Palin-lovers.  When I look at my Twitter feed or pop on over to CNN, my heart just hurts.  The name-calling.  The blanket assumptions.  The hate. Oh, my! The hate! 

This is not the country my Pappap fought for over 65 years ago.  This is not the country he spent being a POW for over 2 years for.  This is not the country he returned to weighing only 98 pounds.

My grandfather passed away over a decade ago.  But I see his face every time I see Americans acting hateful. I see his face looking sad.  I see his face crying.  I see his face, his head shaking because today Americans just don't get it.  I'm glad, though, that he doesn't have to see what this country has come to.  The hate.  The name-calling.  The outrageous assumptions, presumptions, lying, and rumor-spreading.  The lack of respect for our fellow countrymen and women, regardless of political affiliation, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.  I would never want my Pappap to see any of this.

I'm a liberal.  My parents are staunch conservatives.  We disagree on a lot of things. 
I'm Catholic.  So are my parents.  We disagree about a lot of things within the Church.
I'm a feminist.  My parents don't really know what that means.  But I admire and respect men.
I'm an intellectual.  Nobody else in my family holds a master's degree.  But I will always put human beings before intellectual pursuits.

And yet, I don't spew hate.  I don't put people down.  I don't embrace prejudice, separatism, or elitism.  I don't say this to make myself sound fantastic.  I say this because it's possible to believe and embrace things that are different from what other people believe and embrace, and still exude love.

It is possible.

I don't know why so many people in our country behave as though it's not.

{Would you look at that.  I'm talkin' politics.}

Even when people say things in a joking way, they're still saying those things.  Those things that cause friction, disruption between countrymen and women,  hate among fellow humans.  And it breaks my heart.  I don't want to be a part of that.  Ever. 

Perhaps I'm too optimistic.  Perhaps I'm naive.  Perhaps I haven't encountered people who would cause a change in me that would have me behave badly.  I don't know.  But I do know that love and kindness are the only things I ever want to be associated with.  Because that was what my Pappap did.  He lived love and kindness.  He fought for our country (and, yes, he probably did things during the war that I don't want to know about).  But when he came back, he was love.  He was integrity.  He was acceptance.

I want to be a verb like my Pappap.  To live in action and words and thoughts what it means to be love.  I want to be proud to be an American again, but I don't know how.  I want to help people learn to love each other, even through disagreements, even through differences, even through hardship.  That is all I want. 

What is it that you want?

with love from Pittsburgh,
{The frayed flag above makes my heart hurt. You can find it here via ffffound.}

Thursday, February 17, 2011

other stuff i'm doing.

As part of my alter-ego, Secret Agent L, I'm participating as the Official Kindness Ambassador for the Allegheny County Library Association's One Book One Community (OBOC) Program.  This year's book is Cami Walker's 29 Gifts.  Today, I'm a guest blogger over at the OBOC website.  Hop on over and have a read.

with love from Pittsburgh,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

survey says.

I have a question.  Does anybody read my blog?  Because I'm wondering if I should keep it up.  I've been feeling a little more inspired to write lately, but I don't know if anyone is actually reading my words.  I write for me and for you.  I want to share with you, give parts of myself to you that I don't give in other ways.  

Would you like me to keep doing that?  If so, will you kindly leave me a comment below to let me know?

with love (and thanks!) from Pittsburgh,
{and you should totally check out Rebecca Plotnick's photography on Etsy.  that photo above? it's hers. and I love it.  and all her other stuff. swoon.}

Sunday, February 13, 2011

last night.

I can't really explain it.  {Although I will try.} The way it feels.  In fact, I was sitting across from my friends last night and I tried to explain to them that it's the time when I feel the most like me.  The most real.  The most authentic.  The most right with the world.  My heart swells into a shape and size bigger than the crevice in which it sits.  My mind feels focused.  My spirit is centered.

I almost became a concert pianist.  Years ago.  When I was at that pivotal point in my life when I was finishing up study halls, storing my belongings in metal lockers, and considering advanced degrees.  The moment when I had the freedom to start something that was for me.  Something that was mine.  Something that was born out of the spirit that God created within in me.  I remember the day I came home from tennis practice, and my mother was crouched down behind a brand-new grand piano in our living room, camera in her hand, smile on her face. 

The grand piano.  That my parents remortgaged the house to afford.  That everyone in the family knew was coming into our lives but me.  That was a surprise for my soul...and future career.  That would hold my hands upon it while I pounded out Grieg and Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky and Gershwin, my heart bursting out of my chest from the I was experiencing, from the simple touch of my fingers to the keys.

That grand piano.

But I loved it too much.  Too much to turn it into a career, to make music perfect (technically and acoustically) for someone else, to sit in a practice room for 12 hours a day.  And so I didn't audition for Juilliard.  Although I wanted to.  Just to see.

And so last night, as I sat seven rows from the stage at Heinz Hall listening to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, my heart swelled again.  That piece?  My parents heard it on their very first date.  My dad can conduct it with his eyes closed.  It's a part of our family, I guess you could say.  It's a part of me.  I know that for sure.  The last movement is enough to bring me to tears.  Afterward, as I sat at the Backstage Bar with Sonja, her husband Tom, and my sweet Norm, I told them that the time I feel the most alive, the most like The Real Laura, is when I'm at the symphony, sitting in those red velvet seats, counting the beats, tapping in time with the timpani, anticipating the swell that I know comes in the next three measures.  My spirit is the strongest in those two hours I spend feeling that music sweeping in and through my every cell.  That authenticity is something I can't explain any better than what I'm spilling out here.

And so, in an effort to reclaim The Real Laura, which I feel has been a little lost (or in hiding, at least), I think I might just play the piano more often.  And take the cello up again, which I used to play.  Hang out at Volkwein's in a practice room.  Listen to the music within me.

But I wonder...what makes you feel the most authentic?  The most alive?  The most like The Real You?  And what will you do (or are you already doing) that will ensure it never leaves your spirit?

with love from Pittsburgh,

Friday, February 11, 2011

excuses, excuses.

OH MY GOSH. You guys. Seriously. I can't take it anymore. I can't handle not blogging more regularly. I have all these WORDS that I desperately need to get out.  Typetypetype. I neeeeds to, presh.

But you know what's been stopping me?  I mean really?  It's not that I'm too busy.  It's not that the fingers I use to type the word "YOU GUYS!" with are broken or mangled or taking the day off.

It's that I don't have the internet at home.



What am I, some kind of recluse???

Nah.  Just poor.  Those there interwebz are expensive.  My rent went up $100/month, my credit cards NEED to be paid down, and my car seems to need One Thing After Another in order to function.  Thus, the interwebz and I don't date.  Not at home, at least.


I am going to change that.  I have to.  Do you know how hard it is to run this project and meet my desire to spill my guts here without the internet at home? 

I have opinions.  And things to say.  And stories to tell.  And photos to share.  And I can't do it from the comfort of my bed or the convenience of my living room.  I have to stay after work or write on my lunch break or...or...or...

If it means I have to eat Ramen or sell some shoes or never get my hair cut again or stuff envelopes from home, then I will.  I must haves the interwebz.

Stay tuned.

with love from Pittsburgh,