December 3, 2008, 10:38 am
Filed under: Pittsburgh

I take the bus through Uptown and the Bluff on my way from downtown to Oakland each morning.

On Fifth Ave through the Bluff, we pass by a smattering of decrepit houses surrounded by empty but overgrown lots.

These lots are often still edged by rusting fences, foliage-covered retaining walls, and crumbling cement stairs leading to nowhere.

Since becoming a follower of Sweet Juniper! I find myself finding beauty and grace in these places, albeit in a bittersweet, sad way.

They are dead places, abandoned by the people who once owned and loved them years ago, and emptied of the facades familiar to the neighborhood.

The city has moved on, and it is unclear what will happen to these places.

No one has removed the reminders of their previous life: those fences and walls and stairs remind us that once a life was lived here.

But no longer. Now it is a home for the urban wildlife, growing denser and more Amazonian each day.

As I complete my 5th year as a student at Pitt, I am drawn to these properties.

I wander around campus each day, a campus filled with the baby faces of new classes.

The vast majority of my undergraduate classmates has left, moved on to greater heights, even if that’s just a short trip Downtown.

I am one of the few familiar faces I see in Oakland.

Occasionally, I will pass someone I recognize from an old dorm or a long-completed class: another straggler here on campus, sailing through a sea of unknown youngsters.

Their faces remind me of the fences, walls, and stairs on 5th Ave.

We have been left behind, overgrown by new foliage, as our old classmates scatter.

That bittersweet twang reminds me that I am ready to move on.

This is my life now, and I am ready go.


Did your book throw up on you?
December 3, 2008, 10:34 am
Filed under: Library | Tags:

Without fail, every few weeks I get a question at the library that I have never heard before. Usually, it is exceptionally odd.

Today was the day for the odd question.

A woman came up to me and said, “Is there any way I could get a mop and a bucket?”

This is a library. Not a cleaning supply store.