When is a jagoff not a jagoff?
February 14, 2012, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When he’s too much of an ass to deserve the name “jagoff”.

I’ve complained about my neighbor, affectionately named “Jackass Neighbor” on twitter, regularly. But I think it’s time to blog about him. Previously, he didn’t seem to deserve getting bitch about too much, because he was a serious step up from the previous people who lived there. He rents a unit in the duplex next door. It’s owned by the people who live in the upstairs unit, and they are very nice people. They rent the downstairs and it covers the owner’s racecar expenses.

The previous renters were a mixed bag of people, and we weren’t totally sure who actually lived there. Two women, one young and one middle aged, were always around, and an assortment of small children. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of men were around all the time. I suspect the women were acting as a warehouse for the men to store drugs in. I once watched one of the men get arrested in front of my house at 2AM, and saw the cops pull very large bags of white powder from his backpack. They also used to send their small child (maybe 4 years old?) into my fenced in yard to play. It’s fenced in for a reason; we have a dog. She’s a very friendly dog, and good with kids, but I have no idea what she would do if a kid came into her yard unannounced. Furthermore: MY YARD NOT YOURS.

So, when Gary and Gerry moved in, it seemed like things were improving. They are employed, they don’t seem to be operating an illegal drug operation out of the place, they don’t send their small children into my yard. They are middle aged men who I don’t think are romantically involved, but who knows what they do? Gary spends a lot of time hollering at Gerry. Gary is Jackass Neighbor. 

Despite being a significant improvement over the previous tenants, Gary has his own bag of asshole tendencies. He is a shouter, first of all. He can’t talk to anyone without hollering at them. He likes to sit on his front porch and talk yell on the phone. He yells at his roommate. He yells, a lot.

He owns 2 cars. I’ve never seen Gerry drive so I don’t think he can. Gary has a very large pickup truck, and a minivan. There is enough room in front of the duplex to fit the owner’s cobalt and Gary’s truck. Gary considers that spot to be divinely bestowed upon him. Twice, we have had guests who made the poor decision to park in his spot, and they returned to their cars to find a nasty gram under the windshield wiper. Even better, he sits at the window and waits for the person to return to their car so he can pounce on them. Because a nasty gram just isn’t enough! He has to YELL at them too! The best part is how he starts both the note and his tirade with, “I know I don’t own the street” and then proceeds to argue that it’s his spot and no one should ever park there ever.

I once watched him do this to the mailman! That was my favorite. The mailman is, I’m sure, used to dealing with jackasses, and pointedly ignored him. He got into his truck, ate his lunch at a leisurely pace even though I’ve never seen him eat lunch on our block before. I’m sure he did it just to infuriate Jackass. As soon as he drove away, Jackass ran out of his house and moved the car into the spot as fast as his little feet could carry him.

He likes to park his van in front of my house. One of these days I’m going to leave a nasty gram on his windshield about it. I just have to get the nerve. 

See? Not jagoff. Straight up JACKASS.


Show me.
January 10, 2012, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” -John Kuebler

That bit of advice is often given to children or young people. I remember my third grade teacher, a scary nun, repeating it. I guess it’s meant to keep kids from hanging out with the bad kids, the ones who are obviously going to end up on drugs and/or in prison.

Worthy advice, worthy goal.

I don’t think that advice matters less in adulthood. Sure we’re “in” our futures. Hopefully we’re not addicted to drugs or in prison. At least not yet. There’s still time!

But it still matters who we hang out with. It matters who we choose to spend our limited time with. It matters who our friends are. We might not be on the playground anymore, and we might not ever become addicted to drugs. But that doesn’t mean that the friends we have don’t influence us.

If you’re trying to save money or spend less, staying with a crowd of people that eats out every night, buys the latest toys, and always has the nicest cars is probably going to make that goal harder.

If you’re trying to quit smoking, having smoker friends is going to make that harder.

If you’re trying to to improve your marriage and your relationship with your husband, talking to friends who cheat on their husbands is going to make that harder.

If you’re trying to lose weight, going out to eat with friends who aren’t dieting is going to make that harder.

If you’re trying to find God, talking to friends who dislike religion is going to make that harder.

If you’re trying to be nicer to yourself and to others, being with people who constantly critique, pick on, and judge other people directly to them is going to make that harder.

If you’re trying to not gossip, associating with gossips is going to make that harder.


I find it hard to make friends. I’m shy, I’m anxious about being liked, and awkward.

But I’ve never had a problem with ending a friendship that was bringing me down, or turning me into a person I didn’t like. And that’s not going to change. It hurts when it happens to me, but I have to respect that person’s decision.

I want my friends to love me, to support me, and also to encourage me to be a better person.

As a result, I can look at the friends I’ve made and kept over the years, and I’m grateful for the decisions I’ve made in choosing them, particularly my girl friends. We’ve grown up to be smart, kind, funny, successful, strong women. As an adult, I’ve met more of the same.

And you know what? I am blessed. I don’t have to be friends with everyone. I don’t WANT to be friends with everyone. And if you don’t want to be friends with me, well I guess we can consider that self-selection.


How do you feel about your friendships as an adult? Do you have any regrets?

Performance Review
December 29, 2011, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Grabbed this from Linda

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Went on a week long beach vacation with my inlaws. Officially became an animal hoarder. Plotted the progress of my garden. Finished my coursework for good (FOR REALS THIS TIME, I SWEAR I MEAN IT). Got a 2nd dog. Cleaned out a hoarder’s house. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make resolutions. I prefer to keep my expectations low. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin’s wife produced a baby boy. But if they live in Kansas City, can I say that they’re close to me?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not to me, but my husband’s grandmother and her brother died within 2 weeks of each other. 

5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Less stress. More focus. Maybe a pregnancy, if I have the nerve. 

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The weekend of our anniversary spent in West Virginia. The day shortly after that I found out my cousin has stage 4 lung cancer. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Developing, proposing, conducting, and finishing my master’s thesis. 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Every time I snapped at my husband or felt like I was less than worthy. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A cold here and there, but nothing dramatic. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

All the flowers in my garden. 

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage, savings. This is the first year that we have both had discretionary income and didn’t have anything big to pay for, like a house or an engagement ring or a wedding. Figuring out what to do with it and what’s coming next was a big task. 

13. What did you get really excited about?


14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

“The Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine. Not that I had dog days, but I’ve spent a lot of time rocking out to this in my cubicle or my kitchen whenever I need a serious kick in the ass. 

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Both. Happy with what I’m doing and how my life is going, sadder about the hard stuff I can’t control. Cancer, death, developmental delays. 
– thinner or fatter? The same.
– richer or poorer? Incrementally better off. 

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Going fun places with my husband and dogs. For people who don’t have kids or any serious responsibilities, I have no idea how our weekends get as packed full as they do. 

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Screwing around on the internet. Biting my nails. Feeling like crap for no good reason. 

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my inlaws. Better than last year. This time with less crying during church, but still feeling sad about the food I was missing at home. 

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Big Bang Theory. How I Met Your Mother. Walking Dead. Two Broke Girls. 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Albion’s Seed. The People of the Book. A Game of Thrones. A Clash of Kings. The Help. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


22. What were your favorite films of the year?

The Help. The Muppets. 

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My husband made a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and put 25 candles on it. My twin nephews spat on it while helping me blow out the candles. 

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to decide what comes next. I hate the unknown. 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Grad student. 

26. What kept you sane?

Delicious red wine and cubicle dance parties. 

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

The scariest things are almost always the things you need to do the most. Just dive in. 

November 23, 2011, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is the eve of being grateful and thankful, and this year I am struggling to be either of those things at all, what with the terrible awful.

But if Catholic guilt has taught me anything, I know that when I am feeling the least thankful and grateful, that’s when I need to be the most. Because I still have things for which to thank God, luck, my family and my friends.

And if it’s cheesy, I don’t care. I need to say it more now than ever before, because I need to remind myself of it the most right now, to get me through whatever is coming next.

1. I am first and foremost thankful for my family. We might be small, and we might be spread all over, and we might be loud, and we might have a tough time showing affection, but when things get rough and scary, we throw all the love and prayers and hope and kindness and comfort food we can find at each other. Things are hard right now. But without these people and all the love? It would be so much harder, for D, and for every one of us who love her. I wish that were enough. I hope it is.

2. In a close second, I am thankful for my friends. My kind, supportive, loving, helpful, funny, smart, beautiful, wonderful friends. We don’t have to see each other all the time, talk all the time (although sometimes we do), or even like each other all the time. I love that I’ve surrounded myself with a group of women (and men, I guess) from elementary school all the way to this year who get me in such a wonderful way. I’m honored that they consider me a friend. And let me drink wine with them. I’m glad I don’t waste time or energy on anyone but Good People. 

Everything else is in no particular order.

3. I am thankful for my pets. Not even my family and my friends give me that level of blatant, unconditional adoration. Well, the cat doesn’t, I guess. But she’s so pretty, I guess it’s okay. They’re all hilarious and loving and cuddly. Okay, again, Dora isn’t cuddly except when she wants to be. But still.

4. I am thankful for the opportunities I have. I am so happy doing what I’m doing. I’m so happy with my research, my classes, and what is coming next. Yes, it stresses me out, scares me, and is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But the scariest things are the ones you have to do the most. 

5. I am thankful for central heat. I just am. It’s awesome. 

6. I am thankful for how well I sleep. Seriously, you guys who have a hard time sleeping because of insomnia, or children, or uncomfortable beds, I really and truly do not understand how you get through the day. Sleep is awesome. 

7. I am grateful for my food. Not my ‘diet’ or any of that junk. I really love the food I eat most of the time. I love that I make most of it myself. It makes me feel strong, independent and well fed. 

8. I am grateful for my faith, my God. You don’t have to agree with me. I’m grateful for what I have, because I don’t know how much I would be capable of without it. If that makes me weak, so be it. I am weak, but I am strong with God.

9. I am grateful for the people, situations and things that piss me off, upset me, challenge me and even hurt me. When I have to deal with something or someone difficult, I learn something about myself. I have a long way to go before I’m the person my dogs think I am, and the hard stuff is the crucible to get there. This, at least, is what I tell myself in the moment. (My cat knows exactly what kind of person I am, and she is rightly disdainful)

10. I am grateful for my husband. He is the best person I have ever met. I want to be him when I grow up, even when he makes me spitting mad. Of everything I have ever been given, he is the greatest blessing I will ever have. Of that I am certain. 

So! Now that I’ve made you nauseous with my sap, what are you thankful for? Family, friends, indoor plumbing, quality hair products? Tell me! I’m likely grateful for them as well, and need to be reminded. 

November 4, 2011, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’d like to tell you about my family.

On my dad’s side, I am, by far, the baby of the family. My dad was in his 40s when I was born, the product of his 3rd marriage. My brother was 13; our two cousins were 15 (G) and 17 (D). My Grandma referred to me as her ‘favorite surprise’. My dad only has one sister. To say the least, we are a small family.

On my mom’s side, I was the first grandbaby. But it’s a small family there, too. My mom is 1 of 4, but she and her sister each only produced 1 daughter, and my uncles never married.

Thus, I only have 3 first cousins and 1 half brother. Teeny tiny. What we lack in numbers we make up for in volume, at least on my mom’s side.

My dad’s family has always been spread out. He and his sister grew up in Lancaster County, surrounded by Mennonites and cows. She married and they moved away, eventually landing down south. My dad moved one county north. My grandparents were close; my aunt, uncle and cousins were not.

But we tried. We were the only family we had, after all. We saw them a few times a year, less when my cousins and brother were in college. We all came together when my Grandpa died. My oldest cousin D was married by then. She and her husband drove me to the restaurant after the funeral in their tiny sports car. They played Prodigy on their fancy CD player in the car. I did not like Prodigy, but I thought they were totally cool and nice. I started accompanying my Grandma to the beach with my aunt, uncle and cousins. For about 4 or 5 summers, I spent the week with them down there. Again, I thought they were totally cool and awesome. D happened to be visiting PA around the time of my junior prom, and she stopped by to see me off and take pictures.

I left for college. I saw them a lot less then. It seemed like whenever they visited PA, I was unable to get across the state at the right time. D had a little girl, at last. G lived in Erie and came to Pittsburgh to take me to dinner. We all emailed occasionally. They came to my graduation party. They came to my bridal shower. They came to my wedding. They are good people. I wish we were all closer; I wish there were more of us.

D has stage 4 adenocarcinoma lung cancer. She’s in her 40’s. She has a little girl. Our grandma is 97 years old with nothing wrong with her but an aged body, and her very first grandbaby has stage 4 cancer. D’s birth was the reason Grandma got on an airplane for the first time in her life. She’s been healthy her whole life. She eats right, she exercises, she doesn’t smoke, she takes care of herself. And yet.

And yet.

I can’t tell you how much this sucks. I know it sucks terribly for her, her husband, her little girl, her parents, her brother. But it sucks for the whole family. My heart hurts for her, and for all of us. It feels like I’m in a bad dream. I know it’s cliche, but it does. I keep expecting to wake up. Except when I do wake up in the morning, the fact still remains.

I don’t know what else to do. What’s strange is I’m feeling this a lot more intensely than I remember feeling my dad’s illness 6 years ago. Perhaps I have blocked that out; perhaps I was blocking it out when it was happening. Perhaps it seemed less acutely unfair: he was, after all, in his 60’s, in poor health, after not taking care of himself very well his entire life, and both of his children were grown. She is young, in good health, takes very good care of herself, and her child is not grown.

This is unfair. I know life is unfair, I know cancer is particularly unfair. But damnit! This is really unfair!

I don’t know what else to do, so I’ve prayed about it. I’ve talked about it. Now I’ve written about it. I guess the next thing to do is knit her a shawl, and make some comfort food for myself.

I don’t know what else to do.


Signs of Pregnancy (Spoiler alert: NOT PREGNANT)
September 26, 2011, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you follow me on the twitter, you’ll know that I have major (and irrational) baby fever.

I want a baby.

Except that I don’t actually want a baby at all! The idea of doing anything to get pregnant on purpose makes me break out in hives. Scares the crap out of me. NOT READY. Not even remotely ready. I’m only 25! I’m still in school! I LIKE SLEEP!

And yet, my hormones are all BABYBABYBABYBABY.

It’s sort of not really fair at all.

I haven’t hidden the crazy contradictory urges from the twitter at all. As a result, I get harassed a lot about whether or not I’m pregnant. It doesn’t seem to matter WHAT I say, someone takes it as a sign that I’m pregnant. Someone had that as the first sign that they were pregnant.

“I have heartburn!” “ARE YOU PREGNANT?!”

“The dogs won’t leave me alone! Stop sniffing me!” “PREGNANT?!”

“I’m so tired!” “You must be pregnant! That happened to me when I was pregnant!”

You guys. I AM NOT PREGNANT. Unless something really startling happens, it’s not going to happen any time soon, either. (Watch it. Now that I’ve said that on The Internet, I’ve jinxed myself, and I’m going to get pregnant tonight. Despite not doing anything that could result in me getting pregnant.)

Sometimes the dogs sniff me because I was at someone else’s house and I smell interesting, like cats and small children. Sometimes I’m just TIRED. Sometimes, I make enchiladas and drink a lot of wine. $5 says that’s the cause of the heartburn, NOT PREGNANCY.

And I can’t help but think that if all of these (and then some) are signs that someone was pregnant, all of these ‘signs of pregnancy’ are full of crap.

Remember that time I got married?
September 17, 2011, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


I guess I was planning on writing a post about the wedding, and then life happened, and I forgot I had a blog, and now here I am. A little over a month  before my first anniversary.

No time like the present! It’s about time I get back into blogging. If I can run 5k (I RAN 5K AND I DIDN’T DIE), then I can start blogging more regularly. No really! I can!

So. My wedding.

We decided to keep it traditional. We’re Catholic, and so we had a full Catholic mass at the church we belong to in Crafton. We’re fairly traditional people. Having a church wedding with a full dinner reception with our families and friends was important. I don’t know why I feel obligated to defend that, but I do.

Rehearsal Dinner

The week before the wedding was busy and stressful. I had 2 midterms, including a programming midterm, plus a baptism, and a 24 hour stomach bug. It was stressful. Luckily, my mother spent the week out here to help. That Friday, I skipped all of the things I was supposed to attend and declared myself in wedding mode. I retrieved my maid of honor, a toasted almond torte from Prantl’s downtown, and headed to the reception hall (which I will not name for a variety of reasons) to help set things up. My soon to be inlaws, sister in law, aunt/uncle in law, and fiance were there already, plating about 6 million cookies that had been baked by relatives. If you are going to marry anyone, I recommend marrying into Kevin’s family, if only because they really know how to put together a cookie table. It was gorgeous.

Maid of honor had a killer cold, so she wasn’t allowed anywhere near the cookies. We put together centerpieces instead: 

(centerpiece example in my dining room).

I don’t clearly remember setting up the reception, other than having stern words with the idiot event planner (primary reason why I won’t name the facility) about where all the tables were and why everything wasn’t set up, and how did he expect me to set up in 4 hours if he didn’t make sure his part was done?!

After we were done, Kevin and his family went off to the hotel they were all going to stay at the night before the wedding. Maid of honor, mom and I returned to my house to get ready for the rehearsal. My mom took all of our things to the bed and breakfast in the north side where my family and I were spending the weekend (The Priory on the North side, for those keeping score at home. They were wonderful.). My mom got hopelessly lost near the stadiums and called me in an absolute panic, demanding that I tell her where she was and how to get out of there, while also refusing to stop so I could figure out where she was on Google maps. Fun!

We made it to the rehearsal, 5 minutes late. And then this happened:

Blame my mother and aunts for the get up. Apparently Fr. Walt asked Kevin if he really wanted to marry someone wearing that.

We made it through the rehearsal with Mrs. Lieb ordering us around while not hearing a damn thing we said, as she was deaf as a post. Somehow I ended up agreeing to kneel the entire way through the wedding.

After the rehearsal came the rehearsal dinner. There was pasta and toasted almond torte. Kevin and I exchanged wedding gifts:

This is the best picture I can find of that. I am admiring the amber with a spider in it that Kevin gave to me. I know that’s sort of a bizarre wedding gift, but it’s something I’ve wanted for years, which makes it the perfect wedding gift. I got him a gun. Because nothing says “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you” like a weapon. That’s my brother creeping on the side. He was very excited about the spider. And the gun.

We ate, we drank, we shared gifts, we made his mother cry.

The bridal party returned to the Priory, and the groom’s family returned to the hotel. Maid of honor went to sleep due to her cold, and I stayed up for a few hours drinking with my brother in the Priory’s parlor.

Wedding Day

Amazingly, I slept. I have no idea how that happened. Naturally, I woke up as early as possible. I tried to eat breakfast, but that was sort of a futile effort.

Next, we got our hairs did.

What? Isn’t that the ideal wedding hairstyle?

Alright, here you go:

With makeup:

Maid of honor:



Somewhere in there Kevin and I decided that we weren’t going to recite our vows. I don’t know where I came up with the foolish idea that we could do that.

After we were all glitzed up, we returned to the Priory so I could confront this:

Everyone else was allowed to get dressed before lunch. I shoved some food down my throat, barely, and waited for my assistants to finish so I could get into the dress. Around this time we realized that there were no suspenders with my father’s tux. This will have an impact on later events.

The photographer arrived. I got into my dress and lost feeling in my feet. It was okay though, because there were buttons down the back of my dress, and that’s awesome.

Last minute touch ups, and then it was go time.

Time for family pictures. My dad cried.


She’s 83 for the record. The day before our wedding, she and my pop-pop celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Not bad, eh?



After pictures were done, we jumped in some limos and headed to the church. I snuck in the back of the church as everyone else was arriving. We didn’t get there until 15 minutes before the wedding. So what? My close friend from home was singing when I got there. She sings like an angel. My stomach felt like it was going to jump out of my body and land at my feet. It didn’t.

Then I was upstairs, and Mrs. Lieb was telling me we were starting. The girls went down the aisle. No one tripped and fell! I was so proud. The kids had a bit of a mishap: the twins weren’t totally thrilled with walking down the aisle. One of them escaped halfway down, and ran back up the aisle. Ah well. That’s what you get when you have 4 year olds for ring bearers.

And then:

My dad sort of lost his cool. He was trying so hard not to cry that he started sprinting down the aisle. I whispered for him to slow it up, and he almost stopped altogether. When we got to the end of the aisle, he forgot what he was supposed to do, and Kevin and I whispered him through the passing off my hand, etc.

I was heading to this:

The groom is the one on the right. For a moment I was concerned I was marrying the best man. I don’t know how Kevin ended up on the correct side.

The wedding started. I knelt through most of it, facing away from the congregation.

This is a good thing for a few reasons.

1. My father’s pants fell down.

2. A lot of people were annoyed, restless, chatting, and texting because it was such a ‘long’ full mass wedding. (it only lasted 40 minutes, 10 minutes shorter than one of the whiners’ non-full mass wedding. Just saying. Not bitter or anything).

Yes, my father’s pants fell down. Remember when I said there were no suspenders with his tux? Kevin swore to me that there would be. My dad prefers his pants on the big side and relies on suspenders to keep them, well, suspended. The fact that he got me down the aisle with his pants UP is truly a miracle, one for which I thank God. Truly. Most people didn’t notice, which is good. But. That happened.

It flew by. Kevin’s sisters read, there was the Gospel and a short homily, and then we said “I do”, said our vows, and Father said we were so blessed that our vocations were to love one another. I know I feel blessed.

We kissed.

It was sort of awkward.

And then we were married!

That’s todd’s face right there. He has awesome glasses.

A few more church photos:

Well, I think that’s enough for tonight. Let’s leave the reception for another post. That will force me to, you know, blog at least one more time.

For the record, these photos come from a mix of sources. Some I swiped from Facebook friends who posted them, some were from my family, and the decent ones were from the photographer.

P.S. Have I told you how happy I am? I would say that October 23, 2010 was the happiest day of my life, and it was pretty damn happy, but it was also really stressful. The best part has been the 11 months since. If what they say is true, that the first year is the hardest, then damn. We’re going to have an easy marriage.