I took a Wednesday off from work earlier in the month so I could run around downtown Pittsburgh for the day with friends Mindy and Michelle, plus Michelle’s beautiful daughter, Alexis. The photo above was from our first stop, The Pennsylvanian (gorgeous historic landmark…old train station converted into office space and spectacular apartments located at the intersection of Grant and Liberty 15222). I used to work in the building and being inside again made me long for seeing such architectural beauty daily.
My favorite picture from our time at The Pennsylvanian occurred when we were outside and I flopped down on the ground to take a few photos looking up. Just as I clicked to take a picture like the one at the top of this post, a pretty little face photobombed my efforts…
Anyhow, after the first stop we just started walking. We knew that lunch at Las Velas was desired by all in our party so Market Square became our destination, but other than that we were flexible as to route. We were walking down Grant to 7th, enjoying the Federal Building, Federal Courthouse, Federal Reserve, and Gulf Tower, when I fussed about wanting to stop at the cemetery between the two churches on 6th. Eager agreements were quick; easiest group to hang out with, I swear.
How cool is it that right in the heart of dahntahn Picksburgh we have a cemetery sandwiched between two stunning churches? VERY.
This cemetery has some major historical figures buried here, too. Chief Red Pole (Shawnee), Dr. Bedford (Pittsburgh’s first physician…help found the University of Pittsburgh), Several Revolutionary War soldiers, and many others. This is the only cemetery that I have ever been in that actually makes me almost giddy with excitement while providing an incredible sense of peace at the same time. Difficult to explain my emotions, but I love being here.
We even ducked inside the First Presbyterian Church (the ground was deeded to the congregation by the heirs of William Penn) to gawk at the Gothic marvel of the place.
It was here that Alexis brought tears to my eyes with her sweet, young voice singing “Jesus Loves Me” in Chinese. Yes, you read that right. Chinese. She had been singing to herself while us adults were oooohing and aaaaahing over a variety of things and when we realized what she was singing I asked her to sing it again so that I could pay closer attention. I squatted down to her six year old level and right there in the back of the church she gifted me with the most beautiful song I have heard in ages, all without breaking eye contact and without missing a beat. Might have been a quick song, but it was a moment I’ll never forget.
Soon after we inhaled all the food that Las Velas had to offer we decided to hit the Water Feature at PPG Plaza. While the short person made quick work of getting herself into the pulses of water shooting into the air, us three taller women parked our butts on a bench to relax a bit before more exploring of the city. Didn’t take Alexis long to decide she needed one of us to play with, but Mindy wasn’t thrilled about the idea of wet tennis shoes for the rest of the day and Michelle didn’t exactly jump for joy at the idea of getting drenched. It was when she looked at me and and uttered the words “I dare you” that I was off my ass screaming, “OH IT IS ON!”
I don’t have any photos of that because I was too busy playing in the water [Michelle posted a few], but after I got out I decided to use the mirrored effect of one of the PPG buildings to take my own picture and happened to make a new friend for the minute:
(Hey nice guy who works down there, I didn’t put this on Facebook, just like I promised!)
We probably could have stayed at PPG all damn day, but made the tough call to continue our exploration of dahntahn by making our way over to the sister bridges. Several impromptu modeling sessions popped up before we decided to make S.W. Randall’s our next stop. Wandering past the Renaissance Hotel brought my cell phone camera out for a photo of the dragons decorating the sign out front when the bell hops started teasing each other about wanting their photos taken. Of course it didn’t take me long to face that camera towards the front and wha-la, a photo with another new friend for the minute:
I had read about the Cell Phone Disco, but as many adventures as I have had in tahn, I had never made the effort to find the alley it was in. Changed that as we all held true to being up for anything. I even called Mindy to make the lights dance, even though she was right next to me. Pretty damn cool for an alley.
I could go on and on about what a great day I had, and man, toy shopping in Randall’s really should be a post of its own, but this post is long and boring enough. Just wanted to try to get back into the habit of writing here and there.
I used a vacation day to have Wednesday free from work obligations. A beautiful mostly sunny day was just what I needed in order to go explore downtown with friends. Not only did it gave me an opportunity to capture a few photos so that I could enter a contest being held by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, but it also recharged my proverbial batteries. All around win. (Photos and another post to come soon!)
This morning went well at work. I was moving along, kicking ass and taking names, when I finally got around to checking out the retractable banner I ordered for an upcoming trade show. On the second time opening it the one side seemed to catch so I got the brilliant idea of fixing it. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd I broke the fuck outta it. Woops.
A short email to my awesome provider and I received the promise of a quick fix so I jumped in my vehicle and headed over to drop off my broken banner. The radio was off, the windows were down. The short drive was quite pleasant and I enjoyed taking in the sights. One thing that struck me as odd was a couple on a back road, each pulling a suitcase on wheels. They seemed a little out of place, but I pushed them from my mind easily as I concentrated on driving.
I showed exactly how I broke my new banner and my provider offered to fix while I waited, but something inside me insisted that I just return later since the shop is literally on my way home from my office. Recently I have been reminded to trust my gut so I said I didn’t want to wait today and headed back to work the way I came.
Almost back at to the office, at the bottom of the office park’s massive hill, I saw the same couple again. Slower moving, obviously hot and tired. I threw on my flashers and pulled over, asking if they were headed to one of the local hotels. Hesitantly they nodded yes. More words few out of my mouth before I had a chance to consider them and my safety with what they offered. “I work just over the hill and would be happy to give you a lift to your hotel. This hill is terribly steep and not a fun walk, especially pulling luggage. It isn’t a problem for me, I have plenty of room for you both.”
I must have been using my kindest and most sincere voice or they were seeming to trust in my smile that I wasn’t going to ax murder them (either that or the heat had them delusional and willing to risk it), but a quick look exchanged between the two of them and then they were practically running for my SUV. As I started up the hill they remarked at how steep it was and that the map gave them no inclination of what they were getting in to when they made the choice to get off the bus at the Ingram station and walk instead of staying on the bus into town where they would have to transfer to another bus to get to their hotel. I laughed as I said, “Welcome to Pittsburgh!”
We chatted a bit and I learned the couple lives in Montreal, Canada. They had been hearing such wonderful things about Pittsburgh that they decided to vacation here. All too soon I was dropping them off. They expressed gratitude and amazement that Pittsburgh really does have people as nice as everyone says.
The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than five minutes out of my day and yet I am still flying high on the smiles total strangers gave me. It was a pleasure meeting them and brightening their day. Thrilling the impact we can have on each other, eh?
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I’m 40 and don’t know how to ride a bicycle.
Mom didn’t know how and never thought to teach me. Then, when I was in elementary school, I sat on someone’s bike and, God only knows why, picked up my feet. Down a hill, off a four foot wall, over the sidewalk and face first into the gutter I went. My bleeding self picked up my fairly new adult front tooth from the street and sobbed my way to my Mom. A quick drive to the hospital left me with lots of bandages and a poorly shaped fake front tooth.
Most of my childhood I refused to smile for pictures. My happy self hated to see my flawed fake front tooth and felt it ruined my smile. Nightmares where my teeth would crumble like sugar cubes were frequent until I was 22 and the guy I was living with gifted me with the best Christmas present I have ever received. A new front tooth. A beautiful cap that gave me back my smile. But I never got back on a bike. Except for that drunken time when I was 16, but that doesn’t really count.
ANYhow, lots of friends have given me crap over the past year or so about my “needing” to learn how. Add to that the fact that I have more than a few pounds I could stand to shed and BOOM, this past perfect Saturday morning my dear friend Jim met me on the Montour Trail to teach me how you ride a bike. As Jim got the bikes down out of the truck I snapped this photo and sent it to Twitter, asking for good luck wishes:
The parking lot lesson went fairly well and soon we were on the trail. Except every group we would encounter I would hit the brakes and stop, heart in my throat, fighting the urge to puke and desperately trying not to hyperventilate. I waited until the approaching people passed, then I would start again. It took forever to make it one mile, but here I am hugging the mile marker for dear life:
I turned around and struggled to make it the mile back. Damn people walking, damn kids loving being outside, damn happy dogs on leashes, damn everybody on the trail that day. They all had me struggling to breathe, keep my hands steady, and avoid puking. Each friendly face caused braking and gasping for air. The fear of biking was strong, but I kept going. The wind in my hair felt great, even as my hands hurt from the death grasp I had on the tread pattern rubber handlebars. I made a stranger take a photo of me and Jim surviving the adventure:
After taking almost two hours to do two and a half miles, we were back in the parking lot. Jim pedaled over to his truck, but I kept going. I wanted to see if I could do a turn in the empty parking lot of a local bar and then come back down the deserted road. Things seemed to be going ok until I hit a flaw in the asphalt where the parking lot met the road. The more my bike got wobbly, the more I felt panic internally. The realization that in front of me was a telepole and beyond that a guard rail so I was about to crash freaked me out. I hit the brakes…while on gravel. It all happened pretty fast, but next thing I knew I was face down in the equivalent of a gutter. First thing I did was check for my teeth and exhale a beautiful breath of relief. The next thing I felt was OUCH. I rolled over and sat up, but just sat there for a minute trying to get my heart and head to relax. By then Jim got to me and I apologized for hurting his bike. Adrenaline was still pumping because I got back on that bike and road that bitch back to his truck. Of course I asked Twitter if road rash was sexy. And I made Jim take a picture of my bleeding self:
We met Jim’s wife Kim and her Momma for lunch. Fortunately I had a little time to clean the dirt and blood from me in the restaurant’s restroom beforehand, but I was still a hot mess. Kim noticed my swollen left wrist, but it didn’t hurt at the time and wasn’t bleeding like my right hand so I ignored it. Then after lunch I stood up and realized how much my entire body hurt, especially my right knee and left wrist. Ice when I got home helped as each got progressively worse. Ibuprofen became my best friend, although there was no way I was going to the ER on a Full Super Moon Saturday that just so happened to also be Cinco de Mayo.
Pain was still pretty rough Sunday morning, but I didn’t want to hit an ER when the Pittsburgh Marathon would have roads closed to my favorite hospitals or worse yet, having bunches of injuries flooding hospitals. Besides, I had plans with some of my favorite women and I really wanted to go play in the perfect day. An Ace bandage and not driving made the day doable.
Then Monday just didn’t feel like dealing with doctors. But Tuesday everyone was on me so much that I stopped at an urgent care. X-rays show a bone chip / calcium spot where it should not be. Doctor said I would need a cast. And that is when the tears flowed freely. Tears that wouldn’t stop until I was home and forced myself to get my shit together because I had a volunteer committee meeting soon. The tears were not from the pain that would take my knees out if I moved my wrist the wrong way, they were tears for the thought of not being able to wash my hair or hook my bra or walk my dog or button my jeans or so so many things that I would not be able to do with a cast on. Living alone is something I adore and it became suddenly overwhelming.
So I started praying for no cast necessary. I asked everyone I talked to for no cast prayers. I asked Twitter to pray for no cast. My favorite prayer arrived from a coworker today, before my appointment with the specialist:
As I look upon thy Holy face,
please forget the cast,
But remember the brace,
Bi-psyche-ling ain’t easy,
But it’s also no sin,
Heal Becky quickly,
So she can try it a-ghinn.
If your will is not for Becky to bike,
Then show us the way,
With your heavenly light!
Becky’s a world famous horder,
(Have you seen all her shit?) ,
Why not make her a skate-boarder!
God, please, Just -Do -it!
In Jesus name, AMEN! YAY GOD!
I love that Billy says “YAY GOD!” like I do.
And guess what? NO CAST NECESSARY! The power of my mind’s wishes and hopes, the power of prayer and oh yeah, the power of Orthopedic Doc saying the spot showing on the x-rays might be from an old injury (I fall down a lot and always have), but NO CAST! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay doc for thinking the chip is not from this wipe out. The brace ain’t pretty, but wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I’ll wear something I can take off to shower and dress myself!
P.S. For the record, I doubt the part of Billy’s prayer for me where I “try it a-ghinn” will come true. I say fuck bike riding, I’m walking…
Some things are so outrageous that you think they can’t possibly be true. Yet they are. There is no way I could post the following on April 1st because no one would have believed it. Hell, I waited almost a week and yinz still might not believe it. Regardless, here goes…
My former coworker and I are still friends. He doesn’t work more than 10 minutes from our office and we will meet for drinks or sometimes another coworker and I will go to his camp for a night away. B is always full of stories about one of his employees, Tank. Usually when we meet at happy hour Tank joins us and I can assure you, the man is, how shall I say this…well, Tank is not the average bear. He is young, smart, funny, attractive, outgoing, and batshit crazy. His brain just doesn’t quite work the way same as most people. Tank’s stories always result in tears running down my face. Or my jaw hanging open. You never know when I’ll hear about Tank showing up in a limo, drunk, eating pizza at 4 AM on a night when one of the guys has a flat tire or some such insanity. Honestly, he is incredibly similar to the fictitious Twitter account DadBoner, but Tank is 100% real. (And technically homeless as months ago he moved out of his apartment, but not into anywhere new. An email from B: “One of Tank’s quotes written on the dry erase board right now is “Homelessness is the key to personal wealth – I’ve never had so much money.”)
About a week ago B emailed me that he thinks he made a mistake sending Tank and McBane on a work related trip out of town together. I received forwards of texts and emails:
“The two of them are traveling together. RW is spearheading the certification process. This is a listing of the texts I’ve received from Tank since the end of work yesterday:
McBane Packed for a fortnight (in regards to a picture of McBane with about 42 outfits on a hotel cart) (7:13 PM)
Dude, McBane just choked out RW. His tongue was literally sticking out of his mouth (12:38 AM)
Seriously (12:39 AM)
I’m never traveling with McBane again. (12:55 AM)
McBane loves Pepper, but he hates cinnamon (7:13 AM)
Everything I’ve said about him so far is absolute truth (7:15 AM)
He called the front desk last night because he lost track of which of his pillows was the “medium” firmness (7:17 AM)
That afternoon I received an update:
“McBane and I are pretty much the most unprepared people at this thing, but we’re really not sure what we need to do next. I just looked over at him and said, “so do you think we should start hammering this packet out or what?” To which he responded, “McBane has a deuce on deck that would choke a heifer” and he got up and stormed out of the room.
This is the worst.”
Did I mention that McBane is not much better? Oh yeah, that.
I received no more emails regarding their antics, so I kind of forgot about it. Until the next morning, when this popped up in my Inbox:
“Nothing from Tank, but I received these from McBane this morning:
Do you think Tank is going to be mad when he wakes only to find our curtains are decimated and on the ground and the mini fridge is laying next to him in the bed. (6:57 AM)
Our room looks like when they wake up in the hang over. Tank may have a monkey in his bed. (7:06 AM)
I’m pretty sure there’s a small Asian guy in the closet. Tank said he was making to much noise. (7:09 AM)”
Personally, I got nothing more until Friday. Then an email from B…
“Tank never came back to the hotel room last night. They were supposed to check out by 10:00 AM. McBane couldn’t get a hold of Tank and assumed the worst. It turns out, he hooked up with some girl and stayed at her place. The girl went to work and Tank went back to the hotel and he and McBane packed up and returned to this girls place (Tank had plans of staying the weekend there while McBane meets his brother in another part of town). McBane was looking around the place and seen a bunch of pet toys. He inquired upon what type of pet she had and Tank looked around and screamed in terror “Oh my God, we’ve lost the housecat.” They’ve searched everywhere and can’t find it. In an effort to find either the cat or a picture of the cat (Tank couldn’t remember what it looked like), they ransacked her place ripping apart closets, boxes under the bed, dresser drawers and the like. The place is now in complete disarray. They eventually looked outside and have found both a grey cat and a black & white cat. Being as Tank can’t remember what it looks like and never found any photos, he grabbed both cats and threw them in the door and they left. He’s just going to pretend like he doesn’t know what she’s talking about when/if she calls him to see why her place is ransacked and either a) she has an extra cat or b) her cat is missing and two strange cats are now living there. I can’t wait to hear how this turns out!”
Followed up with one more from B…
“Update: I just spoke with McBane. Apparently she had no idea McBane was going to be hanging out there (he was going to hang there with Tank until 3:00, then go meet his brother), so while they were searching for the cat/cat photos, McBane thought it would be real funny to mush all of her underwear into his pocket so that she would think Tank was a total perv and stole them. So now, she’s going to show up at a ransacked place, with either one extra cat, or two extra cats less her actual pet, and all of her underwear gone. I kept telling him to get out of DC and come back here so they don’t get arrested. McBane just kept laughing screaming “it’s all on Tank, she doesn’t even know I exist” while throwing underlings out of the passenger side window and Tank is driving in the background yelling “shut up dude, get rid of those f’n things. We both made a pact to never speak of it again. This isn’t even funny. Not remotely.” I can’t wait for more phone calls!”
I don’t doubt a word of any of this. And I find it all hilarious. Sadly, I’ve heard nothing else. Maybe B will leave a comment here with an update.
Those who know me for even a little bit of time quick come to learn that I don’t cook. Like, do NOT cook. Not at all. Other than heat a can of tomato soup on the stove or maybe make cheesy scrambled egg once or twice a year, I just don’t cook.
I realize that most people find this ridiculous, but keep in mind I have no children or husband to ensure receive nutritious food daily. I’m fine with toast or leftovers from a previous meal for breakfast, a huge lunch ordered at the office and then something simple like chips and salsa or cheese and crackers for dinner. Lots of times my coworkers will bring in their leftovers to share. And living less than two miles from five sets of aunts and uncles means lots of dinner invitations. Plus I am blessed with a gazillion friends who have adopted me for dinners as well. Take one look at me and you will know that I am not missing meals. It is just that I don’t know how to cook.
Enter Ree. You might know her as The Pioneer Woman and she has, quite literally, changed my life. No, I don’t wanna marry a cowboy and live on a farm (I am incredibly happy here in my beloved Pittsburgh). No, I don’t wanna birth beautiful babies (not physically possible). No, I don’t wanna basset hound (I love my German shepherd). I do, however, want to cook. The photos she posts with her step by step instructions make even me say, “I could do that.”
AND I HAVE BEEN. Me! Cooking! Happy girl sigh.
See, I’m a Cancer. We *love* food. We are nurturers. We are comfortable in our homes. While I adored my Mom, she was a terrible cook so I had zero desire to learn from her. But day after day for the past few years, ever since Britt was amazed that I didn’t have a clue who the Pioneer Woman was and sent me to her site, I’ve been watching Ree make phenomenal homey meals. And make them look easy. Easy enough for even me.
So I bought her cookbook as a Christmas present for two friends and picked up one for me. After looking at pictures of horses and her husband’s butt (sorry, Ree!), I closed the pretty cookbook and let it sit for over a year.
Britt and Jared came to stay with me for a month. They have two kids to feed and are on a rather unforgiving budget so we ate at home. A lot. Lucky for me, Jared enjoys cooking and experimenting. He heard me complain about wanting meatloaf after having a really bad one at a restaurant and remembered seeing Ree’s cookbook in my kitchen (it makes a lovely accent, too!). Damned if I didn’t come home from work one night this past September to a house that smelled divine. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes were hot and being served. Not just any meatloaf, but The Pioneer Woman’s bacon wrapped meatloaf. Those two pounds of meat didn’t stand a chance with our group. Devoured.
I was inspired. But not enough to really do anything about it. I mean, Jared was still there cooking all the time (even though his attempt at her brownies was a nightmare to look at, they tasted good enough to lick from the counter tops). And then when they left I fell back into what I have done my entire adult life…if I ate supper it was at someone else’s house if it was not chips and salsa.
But I kept reading Ree’s cooking posts. And one day, all alone, I cracked her cookbook. The call of that meatloaf was powerful. Powerful enough that I made a shopping list. And told people what I intended to do. Invited a guest over so I wouldn’t chicken out. Borrowed a little hand mixer for the mashed potatoes (yes, I had to borrow one!).
It. Was. Fantastic.
Ok, “fantastic” is probably a little strong. But the mashed potatoes were creamy and smooth and not glue. My meatloaf was juicy and flavorful. It was a damn good meal. Even if there was no other side vegetable on the plate. I was crazy proud of me. So happy and proud that I started making little things here and there. Baked brie. Bacon wrapped chicken with a little brown sugar. Chicken rice soup. Hard boiled eggs sauteed in reduced soy sauce. Yams. Split pea and ham soup. Baked potatoes. Cinnamon sugar French toast. Chicken breasts. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon (that turned out so good it deserved capital letters).
Guys, I am cooking. Not just cooking, but truly enjoying the process. Over on Pinterest I created a food board.
I get that I am rambling. I really do. And I apologize. But tonight I made Ree’s Brussels sprouts which weren’t just good, they were damn good. The only other time I was so happy with Brussels sprouts I was in Orlando at Cat Cora’s restaurant, Kouzzina.
What I am saying is I think Ree created a monster without even knowing it. My coworkers are seeing it and as a result gave me a hand mixer for Christmas so I don’t have to borrow one any more. My friends and family are seeing it and have offered little one on one cooking lessons, start to finish, any meals I want to make. (Did I mention that I am really only cooking one thing at a time, not entire meals? Totally am. Baby steps with simple food! Yaaaaaaaaaay for offers to assist in person!)
I like this newest shiny thing in my life. It won’t get old since I am starting at 40 and hello, yummy results. I won’t tire of it since the possibilities are endless and fun.
I’m just feeling really grateful right now. Thanks for the inspiration, Ree. Without even knowing it you gave me confidence in the kitchen that my best intentioned friends and family were unable to provide. Know that you and your little blog have made a difference in this wonderful world.
[I had every intention of inserting a few photos of things I have cooked recently, but the images were on my cell phone and really don't do any of it justice, therefore you simply must trust that what I am saying is true. BAM!]
Years ago I had a simple little sterling silver German Shepherd charm on a bracelet and lost it. Looked everywhere, and I do mean everywhere for that little guy. I felt silly praying for guidance to find it, but did anyhow. And then I still couldn’t find it. Then September 2004 had the stupid flood hit and my storage unit on Campbells Run Road got submerged under water for days. Problem was I could not even begin to think about it since I was busy throwing away most of my (now sopping wet with sewage water and ruined) possessions, mopping, bleaching, washing and generally trying not to freak the fuck out about no longer having a place to live. So yeah, probably was more like a week or two before I got to the storage facility since other priorities were on my mind.
The garage type door was barely half way on its way to open when BAM!, the stench hit. Sewage water that sits and festers? Not anywhere near a pleasant odor. I took a step back. Regrouped, if you will. Said a silent prayer for strength to get through another day of throwing possessions away. And repeated words I had been saying for days, “It is only stuff. I asked for Reilly and Ludo’s safety during this flood and I got it. My dogs are all I need. Thank you for their safety.”
I threw the door all the way open and backed up again, desperately hoping the fresh air would somehow mix with the awful smell and make it all better. After another strength gathering moment I stepped inside the tiny unit. Thick brown mud was on everything. Most items were unrecognizable as they sat under the disgusting substance. I was about to get overwhelmed and desperate not to lose my composure so I looked down at my feet. An inch in front of them sat a perfect, shiny little silver dog, surrounded by a tiny circle of clean cement.
How could a mud filled room possibly have a two inch perfect circle of clean cement on the floor? How could a totally brown room offer a pristine pup?
All I know is my dogs were safe and then up shows another dog I prayed for. I wholeheartedly believe in a higher being. Always have. Too many things like this happen to me for me to not believe. The timing of these tiny miracles is just the icing on the glorious cake.
[I linked to two old posts within this one. They contain the entire flood story, but are rather long posts. Just warning you!]
“I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart; try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms or books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers; they cannot be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. You will then gradually, without even noticing it perhaps, live along some day into the answer.”
The above was something Mom gave me ages ago, a piece that never got framed, just got shoved in a box and moved around a bit. Even somehow survived the flood in 2004. Fortunately the print and mat are wrapped in plastic so the dust and dirt of the years doesn’t seem to have impacted the piece itself. I found it a week or two ago and have read it at least once daily. Considering that my dear Aunt Sue is dying and today I head to Florida for a few days to hang out with her for the last time, this BE PATIENT and LIVE THE QUESTIONS NOW is hitting pretty close to my heart. The heart that is breaking for my cousin Jane because she soon will know this awful feeling of not being able to pick up the phone and hear her Mom’s voice. That is the worst for me…to not have Mom at my fingertips, to see me calling and happily answer any silly little thing I needed or wanted to know; to not be in my corner always.
This photo was taken about 10 days before Mom died. Aunt Sue is the one with the gorgeous silver hair, behind Mom. Before Mom had chemo and the cancer really took over, the two resembled each other a lot.
Aunt Sue loves the Lord and has lived a very happy life with Him in her heart. I am told she is looking forward to no longer being in pain and having the pleasure of gazing upon His face. Her faith and strength thrill me. But dammit, I am selfish and want her wonderful self here. I want to be happy for her, but my heart hurts. It hurts so hard.
And yet there is also a huge hurt that goes deep down to my core because I really want to ask her to tell my Mom a few things. Mostly that I am sorry for not being a better daughter while I had the chance.
The familiar alert that a new text had arrived interrupted my cooking so I ignored it a while. (Come on, your shock at the fact that I was attempting to cook should make you understand that there was no way I could break concentration, right? Moving on.)
Eventually stuff on the stovetop no longer needed constant attention so washed my hands and checked the beloved EVO’s messages. (I just realized that my phone doesn’t have a name. How the fuck could I have gone for almost a year and a half with no name for my phone? Eek! Suggestions?) ( Ok, where was I? I really need to write here more often in an effort to help lose some of this scattered brain. Sheesh.) My high school best friend had sent me a “Just found this pic of you and E at the zoo” message with this photo attached:
First of all, at first I didn’t even remember going to the zoo with little dude. Secondly, I am not even certain that I ever looked like that. And lastly, the child in that photo turned 14 this past March. FOUR FUCKING TEEN! (translation: I am old!)
Back and fourth our texts flew, mostly about how times have changed and all, but then she sent two more pictures from a long ago trip to South Park (I think it was South Park):
I was flabbergasted. Basically I have it in my head that I have always looked the way that I do now while somehow thinking that I still look exactly like I did then. I forget sometimes that I am 40 and was young once. (And apparently was at least 75 pounds lighter than I actually am.) My head has an awesome mashup of me and I kinda like it.
Anyhow, I asked how old she thought I was in the two images of me alone and when the reply was “22″ I just couldn’t believe it. Not that she has any reason to lie, but wow. 22.
Might have to pull out the old photo albums. Was fun flashing back for a few minutes while dinner cooked. Kinda wanna check out the “reality” of pictures as opposed to trusting my memory. If I find anything fun perhaps I’ll slap it up here. Really has been too long. Don’t like neglecting this blog. I think I sorta miss writing here…
First person to comment on my shades or Steelers shirt gets spanked. Same for the fact that I look like Yinzer Secret Service Agent or something. Also, commenting on the tight jeans with penny loafers and a t-shirt (and a scrunchie around the wrist!) shall result in spankings as well. Then again, I still have about a dozen white t-shirts that I live in and I don’t have a lick of fashion sense now so I guess not having it then is no surprise…
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As so many of you know, this past month I had the pleasure of having Britt and her family park their RV in my driveway and park their butts in my house. It was fantastic! My tiny house was alive with energy (I’ve never heard so many questions before 8 AM in my life) and my dog thrived on the extra companionship. Coming home to the smells of a home cooked meal (Jared used my cookbook often…totally inspiring) and having coffee first thing with a great girl friend is something I had yet to do in this house. (Yes, I moved in back in December of 2004, hush.)
Point is, I was given a fabulous gift by having a terrific family stay with me. And I meant to give them a great gift back by showing them my beloved Pittsburgh. Problem is, there is so, SO much that I didn’t show them:
Don’t get me wrong, we obviously did *some* stuff over the course of a month:
- History Center
- Just Ducky tour / Station Square
- Backyard bonfires
- Pirates game
- Pitt football game
- Driving tour of Mt. Washington, South Side, Oakland, Downtown
- Carnegie Science Center
- Card and game night at my aunt and uncle’s house
- Dinner out with Podcamp friends
- Bowling in the most diviest dive that ever dove
- St. Anthony’s Chapel
- Saturday morning in the Strip District
- Blogger parties
- Shakespeare in the Park
- Cowboy boot shopping
- Tailgate party at Heinz Field before Pitt – ND
- Helped my cousin move
- Movie on Opening Weekend (Real Steel)
- Several family parties
- Lunch at the original Primanti’s
- Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater
- Evening of playing in the Water Steps and ice cream at Remember When
- Penguins first home preseason game from a Loge Box
- Driving tour of Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, East End
- Theater District night out for Wicked
- Steelers game viewing parties at my Aunt & Uncle’s house
- Fishing (and lots of catching) at a friend’s pond
- Free drinks on date night at Church Brew Works
- A few crappy restaurants
- Tour of Ohiopyle State Park
- Play and exercise in Frick Park
So there was lots we did and lots we didn’t do. I like that they seem to want to come back and tackle some of the stuff we let work and school prevent us from doing. For the most part they got a good look at what life here in Pittsburgh is like. Emma cheered for the Pirates, Devin said he would love living here, Jared imagined his family visiting for a vacation and Britt smiled when talking of living in the Strip District. I know New York City is their dream, but I love that Pittsburgh is right up there on the list of places where they could be happy.
I mean, I did see lots of smiles…
At Las Velas after Britt spoke at PodCamp
Playing around after a baseball game
Catching fish in a friend’s pond
Playing in the water steps on the North Side
Finding stylish items in the Strip District
Showing off athletic maneuvers in Frick Park
Of course,having them around made me smile lots, too.
Teaching the kids how to appreciate hockey from private box was fun for me.
And watching the kids do yoga in the Water Steps and in Frick Park made me smile.
Speaking of smiles, when other folks stop what they are doing to appreciate those I love, well my heart just explodes with happiness.
So yeah, we might not have done everything there is to do, some might say I’m a bad hostess this time around, but I’ll just choose to say that I saved some smiles for a future visit. Can’t get here soon enough…or last long enough…