Wenches (#139)

Today was an important day. Today was the day that Alyssa, Tori, and I stormed the Renaissance Faire in full costume. Tony was there too, but he refused to wear a costume so he’s kinda irrelevant. I had such a fun time running around the Faire with a mug full or mulled wine to hoist in my wench costume. With Halloween right around the corner, today was a cool reminder of how much fun it can be to dress up, pretend to be someone else, and act like a kid all day. I fully recommend it next year to anyway who starts to get in a slump when winter is approaching, because it was kinda invigorating, as long as you’re willing to embrace the ridiculousness of the whole situation and drink to the King’s health.

Also, the buffalo mac n cheese was delicious and as your trusty tavern wench, I highly recommend it.

A Writer’s Addiction (#138)

Do you ever meet someone and wish that you knew them? My best friend Mary likes to say that she falls in love every day, and I’m starting to understand what she means.

Sometimes I look at people and I want to know their life story so bad it feels like the worst type of obsession. I become greedy for details about their Grandmother’s grumpy cat and what caused the scar behind their ears. I long to feel the inside of their coats, if only to discover how a twenty-something came to own what looks like genuine fur. I want to ask them about their favorite birthday party, the best Christmas present Santa ever left them, their preferred breakfast cereal, and what they think about the news these days. I want to steal their eyes and their names and their crooked smiles and file them away to put on some character I haven’t written yet.

This type of lust is starting to drive me to extremes. I’ve been late to class because a couple was breaking up in the library and I couldn’t stop listening. I am now a master eavesdropped and have shamelessly put in headphones that are playing nothing to hep me out. I read the text messages of strangers sitting next to me in class or on the bus or waiting in line at Panera, and I play the question game with drunk people to hear their sober truths. I realize that this all makes me sound a bit crazy, but it’s not my fault human beings are so interesting.

I read somewhere once that a famous author’s best advice to aspiring writes was to notice everything. Go out into the world with a little notebook and pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, feel…the world already contains every story that needs to be written. This makes sense to me, because at the heart of writing is detailed observation. I think it’s fair to argue that someone who writes characters the way Austen, Steinbeck, and Toslstoy do has to be slightly obsessed with human beings and what makes them tick.

So really, the people who have called me nosy my whole life were mistaken. I was simply honing my future craft by following the examples of those who had mastered it. Yeah, lets go with that.

90 Day Fiancee (#133)

I am very aware of the fact that my taste in tv shows and movies can be described as ridiculous. I love a good, stupid reality show and prefer rom-coms and musicals over more serious movies. But here’s the thing, why would I want to watch something serious or sad when I could turn on the news any given day and see that nonsense? Plus, I get so much more out of reading about certain topics, that I would rather save my tears and brainpower for the books I read. And, in defense of my love for reality TV shows, I just think that human beings are so interesting. I have always loved humanity as a whole and looking at how they think and act is intriguing. Obviously, I realize that reality tv shows are heavily produced and that the people are encouraged to say certain things, but still they have to be the type of person who is willing to say such a thing. While most scripted TV shows are the result of a few brilliant people, reality TV shows are a result of a multitude of strong personalities and what happens when they interact and are just being themselves.

That long intro was basically my way of making sure you guys understand why I’m about to spend a whole blog post talking about a insane reality show, because that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Tonight at Ally’s house I watched 90 Day Fiancee for the first time, and it was quite the experience. There’s a whole mix of people who, for whatever reason, are willing to give up their entire lives and move across the world to marry someone they’ve barely met. Naturally, that’s an insane concept and it’s easy to dismiss this people as dumb or trying to manipulate their way into American citizenship. But I still can’t help asking myself why they are doing this. What events or circumstances have led them to this point? How did they meet these people overseas? Are they gullible people in general, or are these people they fell in love with special? Which of my friends could I see ending up on this show?

That last question is interesting, because I feel like if we took a group survey most of my friends would say me, and I kinda understand why. In a way, I relate to the earnestness of these people to believe in the best in people. Also, I’ve traveled enough to realize that many people in other parts of the world are kinder, more compassionate, and less close-minded than Americans. Obviously this isn’t a universal truth, just something I’ve noticed based off of my own interactions. The point is, these people didn’t just spontaneously decide to be on this reality show and do the things they are doing, which makes watching them that much more interesting.

Also, typically the people on these shows are undeniably entertaining. That’s why they work. I feel like most people have that one friend in their friend group who is just genuinely entertaining to watch sometimes, and reality TV takes all those people and forces them interact with these people. And, on 90 Day Fiancee, you get the added element of Americans trying to figure out how other cultures work and why, if you’re visiting future in-laws in Morocco, sometimes you just have to eat a pigs head. Coming from a girl who had to eat an eyeball in South Africa, I totally relate to this.

In conclusion, reality TV is great and I will continue to watch it and be entertained as long as the real world continues to be sad and depressing.

Painting Rocks (#132)

It’s pretty obvious to most people who know me that the whole artsy thing has never really clicked for me. I still struggle to color inside the lines, my handwriting is pretty illegible, and any project above stick figures is outside my ability. Because of this, when my cousin suggested that we start painting some rocks, I was skeptical. Not because I didn’t think it would be a good time…I can have fun doing pretty much anything, especially when my family is involved. I was skeptical that any rock I painted would be worthy of hiding, as part of the Pittsburgh Rocks project on Facebook. This is actually a pretty cool project that involves hiding and finding painted rocks all over the city, and adding a little brightness to someone’s day.

Luckily, I was decorating rocks alongside children aged 4 and 7, so mine were able to blend in pretty well. Kendal, who is is 6th grade I think, completely blew my rocks out of the water, but that’s to be expected. Surprisingly though, I actually really enjoyed the process of painting the rocks, even if they weren’t pretty. There is something relaxing about just doing something creative and carefree for a couple minutes. I feel like we’re told that we always have to be doing something productive, working towards something, or else we are wasting our time. I think the intense relaxation we found taking 20 minutes to paint some rocks shows that we are actually in desperate need of a slower pace. There is value in creativity, and creative things, and I am happy that I decided to pursue such a career, despite all the wonderful, pragmatic people in my life asking me “but what are you going to do with that.”

Moral of the story, go paint some rocks and discover stuff about yourself. And if you do, hashtag #pittsburghrocks on Facebook.

Cousin Things (#131)

Growing up, I was super lucky to always be surrounded my lots of cousins. My dad is one of six, and my mom one of five, which means I have upwards of 30 cousins between the two sides. Cousins are pretty cool actually, if you think about it. They’re closer than friends, because they are there for the things that your friends don’t go to. They get dragged out for First Communion’s and Christmas Eve’s and Grandma’s retirement party, and Easter dinner. They’re part of your weird family traditions and understand the crazy language you’ve developed over the years. However, there is enough distance between you guys that growing up you weren’t fighting over whose turn it was to use the TV or who had to do the dishes that night. Basically, cousins exist in this sweet spot of generally being the best, and I’ve becoming more and more aware of this.

I was especially aware of it today sitting on the couch at my cousin Ally’s house. We had just gotten back from Subway and we’re figuring out what to do next. We had big plans for today and the whole weekend, but somehow found ourselves sidetracked by simple catching up. We talked for hours, and made me realize how special and awesome my bond with my cousins are. I can’t think of anyone else who would spend ten minutes reminiscing about a plastic cookie monster cup, or debating who deserves the title of “Funnest Aunt.”

I get a little sad when I think about the fact that my parents do not really talk to or see their cousins all that often. Maybe that’s what happens when you have so many siblings, I’m not sure. What I do know is that I will continue to aggressively hunt down any of my cousins who think that they can miss big family events and do my best to remind us all how lucky we are to have each other.

Adulting, Round 3 (#130)

Today on the adventures of Christina Trying To Be An Adult, I reached a new low. Or maybe I hit a new high, I honestly can’t decide. Basically what happened is since I am in charge of both myself and my cousin Josh, I decided to make a filling and nutritious breakfast of Kraft mac n cheese. Is there any better way to start your day off? For dinner, it seemed only appropriate to stay with this theme and make pancakes and bacon. Unfortunately, we never got to eat the bacon since I forgot that dogs like meat and foolishly left it unattended when I went to the bathroom.

So, in summary, I ate a whole box of mac n cheese for breakfast today and accidentally fed my aunt’s dogs a pound of bacon. Happy Adulting, everyone!

Country Roads (#129)

Today I drove up to where my Aunt Kathy has recently moved, smack dab in the middle of Amish country side. It’s crazy how different the culture can be somewhere just a few hours away. For example, I passed a pumpkin patch advertising picking your own pumpkin for $1. In good old Delco, this costs like $15, plus the price of whatever pumpkin you decide to pick. Also, as I am sitting here typing this in Aunt Kathy’s dining room looking out the back window, I am 99% sure that I see a plow being pulled by horses. My Little House on the Prairie fangirl heart is screaming, but I still wonder about how long that kid as been out there plowing. Those horses are probably strong as shit, but there not moving super fast. Still, despite the inconvenience of getting stuck behind a horse and buggy and the nearest McDondalds being a half hour away, I think I could get used to this country living.

The Lib (#128)

I have a paper due tonight, so I decided to come to the Lib (aka the library) to get some serious work done. Unfortunately, since I’ve been here things have not gone exactly as planned.

When I first arrived I settled into my normal table in the back, and everything seemed normal. There were a few more kids than usual in the adjacent play area, but I like a little background noise when I work so this didn’t bother me. Plus, listening to little kids fight over the blue car is always a nice distraction when I need a 30 second break from the grad school world. However, I quickly noticed more and more children showing up and a library employee sit down in a chair. The kids ran over to make a circle around her, and I thought to myself “damn, I guess she’s gonna read them a story or something that’s kinda annoying.” Folks, she did not read them a story…it was so much worse.

Apparently, today was some type of weekly program where they blast children’s song and kiddos scream along. I swear that I have never heard a louder or longer rendition of Wheels on the Bus, it was endless. This screaming/singing lasted at least a half hour, but the kids were so hyped up they didn’t really quiet down again for a long time. But hey, I guess that’s what I get for choosing to study in a public library.

The children’s section finally settled down enough for me to get back to work, and just as I was getting back into the groove of banging out some good pages on this essay, a cute old man who works at the library came up to me and says, “excuse me.” Since my peanut butter crackers and coffee cup were blatantly breaking the no food/drink rule, I figured that was what he was going to say. Surprisingly, he asked me where I bought my sweater. I smiled and told him Salvation Army, and I thought that was the end of our conversation, but Library Poppop had other ideas. He proceeds to sit down at the table I was working at and ask me a series of rapid fire questions: What are you working on, where do you go to school, what classes do you take, what is your paper about, do you like working at the library, do you like reading, are you going to write a book one day? The questions went on and on, and while I usually am so ready to talk all day with cute old people, I still had 2000 words left to write and a deadline that was rapidly approaching.

Eventually, Library Poppop decided to go back to whatever job he was supposed to be doing and I could get on with my paper. I was able to finish in time, and I think my final product was pretty decent but I will consider this a lesson learned. Do not go to the Lib under the false assumption that you will be met with a quiet and interrupted work space, Wheels On the Bus and Library Poppop are always lurking where you least expect them.

Painting Party (#126)

I’ve probably said it before, but just in case it haven’t let me take this opportunity to declare that my friends are officially the best friends ever.

Throughout this whole process of me trying to move out, they’ve helped me in so many ways. Whether it was Chris bringing me food when I had to wait for the scary electrician, Alex doing all the heavy lifting, Becca talking to the scary employees at Home Depot,  or Erik patiently helping Pops install 8 brackets onto one shelf. And today, they’re truly outdone themselves, and I am so lucky to have them.

Despite my roommates initial excitement about painting our new house, they’ve been slowly putting primer on the wall throughout the past month. Recently they seem to have totally hit a wall, and I realized that if I wanted this house painted anytime soon I was going to have to step up and do it. Luckily, like I mentioned above, my friends are the best ever and they graciously volunteered to come over today and help me paint the whole downstairs. Everyone helped as much as they could, but Erik definitely wins the MVP award today for staying for over 11 hours and painting his little heart out. He also fixed the window that leaked and DJ’ed the whole time, which is a pretty important job honestly.

All in all, today was a really good day and it reminded me that I have wonderful people in my life who are willing to help me as long as I remember to ask. And I’ll say it one more time, my friends are the best.