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.

Backseat Blaze (#127)

I breathe in deep
and feel the moment
glide between my lips
across the short distance
measured by sideways glances
and finger-tip brushes,
Stevie Wonder trickles
through the dancing speaker
next to your foot,
always tapping along;
I smile at you through the haze
filling up this tiny car
as we’re burning more than fingers
and singing along with all our hearts
signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!

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.

Things My Mother Used To Say Part 1 (#125)

Welcome to the first of many re-occurring posts that take common phrases said by Mum as a jumping off points for a self-indulgent, nostalgic look at my childhood. Today’s phrase popped into my head as I’ve spent the past thirty minutes looking for a pair of shoes. Back during the prime of Mum’s chore charts and systems, this phrase was heard on a daily basis whenever we asked where something was: “Check the keep box.”

I’m sure most of you are wondering, what is the keep box? Is that a place where your mom keeps all your toys so that you don’t have to worry about losing them? NOPE. The keep box was her diabolical invention that was literally a cardboard box placed in the corner of the family room, at the bottom of the steps, or sometimes even in the garage. This is where anything that you had left laying around the house ended up in a sort of purgatory that came to include toys, books, socks, and anything at all that you had failed to bring up to your room. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so diabolical about cleaning up after you?

You see, this wouldn’t be a Mum invention if there wasn’t some type of consequence. In this case, that meant paying a certain amount of money for any item that you wanted to take out of the keep box. I’m pretty sure each item cost 10 cents, but considering we only got $1.50 every day for an allowance, that quickly added up. And, in the most Mum move of all time, she decided that each sock had to be paid for individually, which meant 20 cents if you wanted the pair back!!  Having matching socks just isn’t worth such a steep price.

As expected, Tony always had many more items in the keep box each day and was much more desperate to get them back. This resulted in daily bargaining when he tried to convince me that paying for him to get his PS2 controller back would actually benefit the both of us, and it usually worked. Thank god he is a lawyer now and can use his argument skills to get money off of some other hucks these days.

Despite the strain on my small pockets back in the day, I wish that the keep box still existed and that I always knew where something was going to be when I lost it, like that one house in Halloweentown. Disney probably stole that idea from Mum, to be honest. I wouldn’t be surprised, it was pretty genius.

Best Friend (#124)

Today is a very important day. Today is the birthday of my role model and my favorite guardian angel. Today my family celebrates the wonderful life of Grandma B, and so it is only appropriate that I do the same here.

Even though I’ve been blessed with a very special relationship with all my grandparents, particularly my two grandmothers, I always felt a special bond between me and Grandma B. We were kindred spirits in a way, and I looked forward to the times when I was able to spend the night at her house, sleep in, and ease into the day with some honey nut cheerios, a crossword puzzle, and a good musical on TV. It’s been 9 years since Grandma has been alive for her birthday, but the impact of our relationship influences my choices and actions on a daily basis.

When I was 13, Grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer and I had to come to terms with the fact that she wouldn’t be around forever. I decided to write her something that would try to explain how much she meant to me, and what came out was basically a 13-year-old version of a post that I would put on this blog. Because of this, I’ve decided to post that letter here, since the feelings and sentiments I was able to express back then have not changed, even if my writing has hopefully improved a bit.

I love you, Grandma. You still are, and will always be, my “best friend.”

Best Friends

Have you ever seen a mother-daughter relation ship on TV where they seem like best friends? This is VERY hard to find in real life. Even rarer is a relationship like that between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I am lucky to be one of these rarities.

Ever since I was a little girl I remember always having fun with my grandma. One of my favorite parts of visiting her was when she would put make up on me. She even had a little song she would sing while she was putting on my blush, and to this day I automatically hum it. I always felt very lucky to have Grandma B as my grandma. Countless times she gave up what she was doing to crawl down to the floor to play. She used to make the long drive to Pittsburgh worth it.

One of my favorite memories of my Grandma occurred when I was about 4 and she had joined us at the beach. We were staying in a house that had a little deck out back. On this deck was a round glass table. I was sitting at this table waiting for Grandma, who was making me one of my favorite lunches, pb&j with a side of grapes. For some reason, no one thought to check whether or not there actually was glass on the table, everyone just assumed it was there. Grandma came out and placed my plate on what would have been the middle of the table, if the glass was actually there.  Just the sight of my grapes rolling around made both of us laugh hysterically. Even to this day any mention of that story makes me crack up.

As I got older, it became clear that Grandma and I had almost matching personalities. We both loved musicals. We’re both introverts, and we both understand the need of some quality alone time. One of my favorite vacations was the time when I spent a week alone with her. We had so much fun watching old musicals and eating her yummy roast beef. We also always enjoyed a good laugh, even at our own expense.

One time, when I was about 8 or 9 my family and I were staying at Grandma’s house for Christmas. This house had a very weird front yard, if you could even call it that. It was basically just a sloping hill in the front of the house. This is why she had a mailbox on her porch. Normally, whoever delivered the paper would make sure it wasn’t too hard to obtain. One day, however, it ended up right in the middle of the hill. The night before it had just snowed, so the hill was even more slippery. Still, even this didn’t discourage her from going after her crossword puzzle. I found this rather amusing so I went out onto the porch to watch. At first everything went smoothly. Grandma slowly inched her way down the hill getting closer and closer to the paper. All of sudden she slipped on a patch of ice and began to tumble down the remainder of the hill. Looking on, I wasn’t sure whether to make sure she was ok or burst out laughing. I ended up picking the latter, I just couldn’t help it. Luckily she was fine and ended up getting her newspaper.

One thing that differs from our personalities is that she’s much kinder then I am. She always seems to be doing something for someone else and she hardly asks for anything. I’ve always admired this about her and striven to model myself in her image. Sometimes, I even use her as an example. Saying to myself, “What would Grandma do in this situation?” always helps me step back and see all sides of an argument. Another way we differ is her love of kids. She was always the first one on the ground to play with me and my cousins. Everyone loved visiting her house because she still treated us like “the baby” even if there was a younger, cuter relative. Even nowadays, she gamely participates in intense games of Trivial Pursuit.

I always love spending time with my grandmother because it just feels like she’s the only one who can truly relate to me. It always seemed like she’s more than just a grandma to me. She’s my role model, my safety net, my movie buddy. She’s my best friend.

E-A-G-L-E-S (#123)

As I’ve explained before, I’m not a huge sports fan but I am a huge fan of sports environments (lol) which I why I was super excited when Tony invited me and Pops down to Xfinity live to watch the Eagles away game tonight. I’ve never been to an NFL game, so I don’t have anything to truly compare it to but I can say that the energy in that place was electric. Every single play elicited a reaction from the crowd, and especially with a game this close, you could feel the stress/excitement literally buzzing. There is something indescribable about being in a room with hundreds of strangers all focused, hoping, and praying for the same thing to happen. Strangers become less strange and it is suddenly totally normal to hug someone you’ve never met when the Eagles come from behind to take the lead. Tonight I saw grown men cry tears of joy, and I’m pretty sure a few people lost their voice from singing so hard to the fight song after we scored. Not to take something so manly and pragmatic and turn it into poetics, but I do always get a little emotional when I get that feeling that I’m a part of something bigger than myself, even if for tonight that thing was being a sports fan.

Also, they were giving out free beer, which didn’t help.

Southern Drawl (#122)

It’s s’posed to be ironic
You drawled,
Over a pale green t-shirt
With the faded stain
Of the letter “T,”

That syrup-smooth tone
Even the bees recognized as sweet,
Buzzing around me as if
To catch what dripped out next.

Who would’ve thought crawfish
Could make my stomach flip?
And could anything sound more exquisite
Than fishin’ ho-wels and gaytah tay-els?

And when you paused,
For too long,
To catch your breath,
I held mine,
And prayed that you’d keep going.