You Really Want to Know?

I’m sure he didn’t mean for this to happen, and I’m especially sure he didn’t mean this to happen on a so-called “mommy” blog, but I turned these questions from Justin Kownacki into a meme.

Hey, it’s a slow day.

Although, knowing Justin a wee little bit (we met at last year’s Podcamp Pittsburgh), he probably doesn’t mind. If nothing else, Justin wants to make people think.

1. What did the 18-year-old me think the current me would be doing?
Entering college, I thought I would be an international journalist (preferably in the USSR, now Russia — yes, Russia. I took two years of Russian and everything) OR a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. The 18-year-old me may be disappointed at where the current me is career-wise, but given the love in my life, I think she would be quite pleased. Although she would probably think I’m crazy for being knocked up again, too. (And no, it was not an accident. So there.)

2. What is the idealized version of me?
Whatever my husband thinks it is.

On a more serious note: Ideally, I am more patient. Ideally, I make more money because of my career choices and/or because I manage my (our) money better. Ideally, I sleep less and accomplish more. (Or conversely, I have less to accomplish — because I have a live-in maid, natch — and I can sleep more). Ideally, I am far more organized. Ideally, I have a master’s degree in some type of writing. Realistically? I’m doing the best I have with what I’ve got.

3. What have I believed all my life without questioning?
I cannot think of one thing I haven’t questioned, from my faith to my day-to-day parenting decisions. Maybe the fact that the world is round. I’m pretty sure I haven’t questioned that.

4. Where haven’t I been yet?
Geographically? The list is quite long. My next international trip will be Ireland. But there are other “places” I haven’t been in the figurative. Debt-free, for example.

5. What’s one thing I don’t know about my own parents, or grandparents, or kids?
I don’t know how my paternal grandmother felt about her two miscarriages or the loss of a teenage son to leukemia. I’m sure there are things I don’t know about life inside my parents’ marriage, and that is probably for the best. As to my children, at almost-6 and nearly-4 I probably know as much as I ever will about what goes on in their little heads. Kate, especially, still talks in stream-of-consciousness, almost literally, as she starts as soon as she wakes up. “I had a good dream. About Foe-wa. About me and Foe-wa and monsters, friendly monsters, all playing together.”

6. How am I sabotaging my own success?
Holy cats, where do you want me to start? My middle name should be hesitation — or maybe fear. I’m not sure. I stop myself all the time. I tell myself I’m being practical.

7. Why do I pay attention to the stimuli that currently monopolizes my time?
Well, a lot of that stimuli for me is kid-related, actually. Where it isn’t: Reading books relaxes me; and social media makes me feel connected. So there.

8. What were my ancestors doing 100 years ago?
My Italian ancestors were already in America 100 years ago —  although Leo and Flavia were recent immigrants. My maternal grandmother (the recently deceased Olympia) wasn’t born yet, but two siblings of hers were (one sister and one brother). I think they were living in Conneaut, PA, soon to move to Erie (to get away from the Black Hand, if family legend is to be believed). I’m less sure about my Irish ancestors — my paternal grandparents immigrated in 1927 (Pap-pap) and 1930 (Grandma) and met and married here in Pittsburgh. I don’t know what their lives in Ireland were like, although, again, according to stories I’ve heard, Pap-pap was probably kicked out of the house when he was done with 8th grade. I imagine my Irish ancestors were pretty poor farmers for the most part.

9. Which opportunity would I most want my child to have?
I hope my children have the opportunity not only to travel but to live abroad. A six-month college program, a year abroad for an employer, charity work, or just the cliche backpacking through Europe. If something like that comes across for my children, I hope they take it.

10. Whom can I help?
Another endless list. From an angle of helping through social media, here are my thoughts: I have a dream of helping my children’s school and my church with social media marketing. That’s hard for a lot of different reasons: the pay would not be great to start; there is reluctance to have a two-way dialogue in the Catholic church (it’s got to get better, or it really is going to get worse for the institution); and, you know, time in general. But I keep thinking and talking and hoping. In the meantime, I blog about religious and political issues that are important to me. I also think another way I help —  or can help in the realm of social media — is by being open about my experiences as the parent of a still baby. I think talking about Gabriel helps not only other parents who have suffered loss, but helps people who know those parents. At least that’s one of my hopes, and one of the reasons I write about my first son.

The Mysteries of Facebook

I don’t spend much time on Facebook — even when I first set up my profile there, I didn’t visit much. (If you are a Facebook friend of mine, I hope you don’t take this personally.) They are always changing things up over there, those crazy kids, and the endless way my e-mail inbox fills up when I leave the occasional comment makes me insane. I just visit now and again to update my privacy settings.

My first love has always been Twitter, and hells bells, I have a blog if you really need to know what I’m up to. But Facebook has been good for 1) writing on my sister’s wall 2) seeing how my high school graduating class is holding up (very well, thankyouverymuch), and 3) seeing family photos (because they are HI-larious).

Uncle Crappy talked about the Facebook application, My Friend Secrets, and has compiled a list of questions (not necessarily from My Friend Secrets). (Like Uncle Crappy, I am not on Facebook to play games.) And just for the hell of it, because I’ve been a little busy lately, I decided to lift this post and use it for my own. I don’t think he’ll mind.

Do you think that Red Pen Mama:
…likes British accents? Australian ones are better. Scottish burrs and Irish brogues actually cause melting.

…likes blue eyes? Have you met my husband?

… is part of the Mile-High Club? Not unless this refers to changing diapers on a plane.

…can cook? Hells, yeah!

…has ever failed a class? No, but I got a D in Calculus once.

…is a good driver? Unless I’m tailgating you on the highway because you’re not passing in the left lane, you probably think I’m a good driver.

…has good taste? I don’t even know if I have good taste. I go with what I like.

…recycles dirty underwear? While this would vastly cut down on the amount of laundry that I do, NO. Plus, I throw out underpants if Kate has a poopy accident (yeah, still happening). I’m over it.

…will do anything to get what she wants? I would be curious to see Dan’s answer to this question.

…should pass on the chocolate cake? No way. Have you seen how skinny I am (when I’m not rocking the pregnant belly)? That baby needs some calories! Give me that cake, and put some vanilla ice cream right next to it.

…is hot? I think I left hot behind at 25, but I also often think I am still 25, so mileage may vary.

…thinks shopping at Walmart is classy? If you know me at all, you know I don’t even shop at Walmart.

…has ever slapped anyone? I’m sure people think I have done this (and I’m not referring to my children, whom I have never).

…spends more than an hour on Facebook every day? Now you sure don’t.

…has ever skinny dipped? Those who know the true answer to this are few.

…has ever eaten a booger? No.

…is a jerk? I wouldn’t think that people would think this about me, but Dan will tell you I am not the most socially sensitive gal on the playground.

…has ever stolen money from friends? No.

…has ever cheated on a test? No.

…was a dork in high school? I am sure there are people who totally thought I was a dork in high school. I occasionally think I was a dork in high school. But I had lots of friends, and everyone knew who I was (I was managing editor of the school paper, editor of the literary magazine, and on yearbook, plus I stood up and yelled at my principal when she announced my alma mater was going co-ed) and I didn’t really care what people think/did think.

…has ever lied to avoid a date? Um, yes. For women this is a survival tactic. I plan on teaching my girls how to do it with grace.

…is fun to be around? Mileage varies, I am sure.

…is cute? *Shrug* That is not a word I would use to describe myself.

What do you think?

The More About Me Meme!

Allison at Allison Says was kind enough to hit me with a pretty flattering meme — two weeks ago. I’m finally getting around to it.

The Honest Scrap award is given by other bloggers who consider a blog’s content or design to be brilliant (geez, can you feel me blushing?). The awardee must then post ten honest things about him-/herself and pass the award on to other bloggers who fit the bill — in other words, whose blog is brilliant.

1. I have never, ever watched an episode of American Idol. I eschew “reality” television in general; I watched a season of The Apprentice (the original one with Omarosa on it), and I watched a couple of seasons of Last Comic Standing — I even voted for one of them once (John H… something). Otherwise: nada.

2. Actually, when it comes to television, I watch exactly one network show (“Lost”), Steelers football, and Penguins hockey. That may change now that we have cable. If I were to pick up one show (or maybe two), what would you suggest?

3. I still do not own an iPod. I would like to own an iPod, if for no other reason than because then I wouldn’t have to get the CD player in my car fixed. Although I suppose I should get those stuck CDs out of there, eh?

4. I am oddly intrigued by Lady Gaga. I blame this Slate article. Wanting to add a Lady Gaga station to my Pandora put me on a slippery slope. I did it anyway. As a result, I voluntarily listened to a whole Brittany Spears song — “Womanizer” — my first one ever (unless you count Fountain of Wayne’s version of “…Baby, One More Time”).

5. I am still smoking my daily cigarette. I’ve missed a day or two since quitting for 47 days at the beginning of this year. But haven’t really tried to give it up again. Yet.

6. Pursuant to the hair discussion: I had long, straight, auburn hair as a child. I wore it with bangs (occasionally feathered, of course) until 8th grade. Then, reading a YM (Young Miss, at the time) magazine, I stumbled across a photo of a girl with a very short hairstyle that I realized would look great on me. When I brought it to my mom and asked to cut all my hair off, I could see her heart break a little bit. But she let me do it. It was oddly liberating — that and getting contact lenses at the same time. I felt freed from the four-eyed, braces-wearing geek I had been until then. (Which doesn’t/didn’t make me less of a geek. Just less self-conscious about being one.)

7. I love sharing my bed with Bun (on occasion). I love to wake up and study her sleeping face. My Bun is never still — she runs, she jumps, she hops, she runs. In repose, her beauty — the smooth baby-cheeks, pink mouth, long lashes — is fascinating to me. (I love the way Monkey sleeps, but I don’t like bed-sharing so much with her — she steals the covers, and sleeps with her hair in her face. So, hard to study at rest.)

8. I don’t have anything to say about Michael Jackson. I was never a fan. I didn’t watch or listen to any coverage of his circus. I mean, funeral. This isn’t bragging — hell, I just admitted to being intrigued by someone who counts him as an influence. The two best things I did read about him — and the media coverage — are here and here. I feel both ways at the same time.

9. The mess in my house is starting to wear me out. And piss me off. And I don’t know what to do about it. It is too cluttered; we have too much stuff; mice keeping coming to visit, which means the stuff that usually lives in our bottom kitchen cupboards lives on our dining room table instead; DearDR suspects mold is lurking somewhere (basement or upstairs bathroom, in the wall); and the office… Don’t let’s start on the damn office. Short of taking time off work to clean and/or shipping my children out for a weekend, I’m not sure what my options are, really.

10. I am currently considering — seriously considering — going to see ABBA in Chatauqua in New York. It would be for the purpose of seeing my two best friends in the world, of course. But let’s face it: ABBA. And I would probably dance. And sing “Dancing Queen”.

Where do I turn in my punk rock card?

My nominees for Honest Scrap awards are:
Gina at My Very Last Nerve: Brilliantly funny. Gina already did these — twice! 10 Honest Things and 10 Horrible Secret Confessions.
Uncle Crappy: Brilliantly matter-of-fact.
Ethel at Mom’s Brain: A brilliant glimpse of being a caretaker for a parent. This is like a glimpse into my mother’s life with her mother.
Looky, Daddy!: Just brilliant.

Pictures of You

I got tagged the other day by the loverly Jaysel (and you should follow that link because it shows Jaysel WITH BANGS).

The meme is fairly simple:
1. Go to the fourth picture folder on your computer.
2. Post the fourth picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag four more people.

Only I had to go ahead and make it all complicated. Because I have two computers and about 50 picture folders between them — start from the top or go in order of date? Which computer? Which photo program (HP or Picasa)?

So I went to my online gallery at Picasa from my Mac. And the fourth picture folder (going from earliest to most recent) only had one image in it.

So here’s the fourth picture from my fifth folder on Picasa. (Could I be more annoying?)

(Don’t answer that.)

This was from a little post that I called the Zen and the Art of Motherhood. That is the wand I decorated for Monkey’s fairy costume for Halloween that year. I was fully invested in arts & craps, as Monkey called it at the time.

I miss it, to be honest. We played outside in the snow a little bit today, and I realized that I miss the fun stuff with my girls these days. As I said recently, though, such is the bed I have made. I’m where I need to be, and where my family needs me to be.

Although I found out how pathetic I am at making snowmen. Sorry I didn’t get any visual evidence.

On to the tag: How about Kim Z, Misfit Hausfrau, Melissa, and Allison? Go!

Letter of the Day: The Car Crash Edition

A few days ago, ClumberKim was kind enough to give me the letter “T” for this simple meme. I had meant to post it yesterday (T is for Tuesday), but I got a little, uh, sidetracked.

T is for…

Toyota Camry, which slid sideways on a patch of ice yesterday as I went around a curve. I clipped a telephone pole, crashed through a fence (a small wooden fence) and broadsided a parked mini van. No one else was involved; my airbags did not deploy; I was wearing my seatbelt. I am okay (lower back is a little sore), but my poor 2002 Toyota Camry, probably the nicest car I have owned, will be visiting the body shop for about two weeks.

Tow truck. Pretty self explanatory.

Telephone pole. Did I mention that? Just clipped it, but I will need a new mirror and a new tire on the passenger side. I think the telephone pole did the most damage to my car, actually. I wasn’t going that fast.

Thousands of dollars, which my insurance company will be shelling out to the owner of the parked car I hit and also to the body shop who will restore my car to its former loveliness.

Three o’clock in the morning, which is when I woke up this morning and had a panic attack about driving down that hill again. I don’t know if something like this has ever happened to you, but the feeling of being Totally and completely helpless in a hunk of metal that is clearly going to only stop when it hits something is rather nightmarish. I avoided the drive-by of the scene of the accident this a.m. because I had to drop Bun off at daycare. But Tomorrow, I am going to have to do it. Or I will never be able to do it again.

Thankful. That I had on my seatbelt. That I didn’t hit another, occupied car head-on (it was a close call). That my children were not with me. That I was only about two minutes from my house, and DearDR could come get me. That everyone I dealt with yesterday, from the officer who showed up on the scene to the insurance company to the rental car company, was awesome. That I pay lots of money for comprehensive car insurance. That I wasn’t driving 70 miles an hour on the interstate when I lost control of my car. That I am up and walking and just fine although very shaken up. That people were concerned about me. That I am fine (did I say that already?).

Toddlers of which I have Two, who are the lights and loves of my life. (Along with DearDR of course.) I gave them a few extra hugs and kisses yesterday.

Some other things I love that begin with T and have nothing to do with the accident:

Thanksgiving! This has always been my favorite holiday. Even after I became a vegetarian. Even after travel became involved. Lots of food, family, and football. A few years ago (NINE!? nine years ago? Holy cats.) DearDR and I had been dating for about six weeks when I asked him if he wanted to come home with me for Thanksgiving. He jumped at the idea (I found out later it was the first holiday he had not spent with his family). Unfortunately, I decided to have a major anxiety attack about the whole situation — “What am I doing? I hardly know him! My mother is going to hate him. Worse, my mother is going to love him! Ack!” We barely spoke all weekend. I was like a skittish horse around him. Not a relaxing time, to say the least. In contrast, a year later, DearDR was asking my parents for their blessing for us to be married. They gave it. About thirty seconds later, my dad said, “So, are you going to start cooking meat?”

Travel. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a major trip. Girlie Weekend doesn’t really count. I would like my next international trip to be Ireland. I would love to return to Italy. I am hoping DearDR’s cousin gets married in San Francisco and we can travel there again, and tour some wineries in Napa or Sonoma. Heck, I’d go back to Florida with my family for awhile. Between kids and jobs and tight budgets, it’s not going to happen soon. Maybe I’ll plan something, so I can be ready for when we can travel again!

Trilogies. I love me a good science fiction or fantasy trilogy. Some of my top trilogy picks: the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gaviel Kay. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the only five-part trilogy — soon to be six — that I am aware of) by Douglas Adams. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

T is also for Ten, which is how many Things are supposed to be on this list.


T is not for PittGirl. Or Good-bye. Or We’ll Miss You. But I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention that PittGirl had become probably my favorite Burgh Blogger to date, and I will sorely miss her cleverness, her What They’re Really Thinking analysis of Steelers’ games, her snarkiness (which was utterly free of mean-spiritedness). I am sad that she was put in a position that she had to pull the plug. But I respect her for knowing that it was Time. And when she returns, I hope I am there.

I am PittGirl.

My Guy Meme

Lifted from the fabulous Jayesel:

1. He’s sitting in front of the TV. What’s on the screen?
Scrubs on DVD. Local news. Football. Lord of the Rings DVDs. Henry the V with Kenneth Branaugh.

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
Balsamic vinagrette.

3. What’s one food he doesn’t like?
I honestly am having trouble thinking of one thing he won’t eat. Is that bad?

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order?
Either a martini or an IPA.

5. Where did he go to high school?
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Moon Twp., PA

6. What size shoe does he wear?
12, baby.

7. If he were to collect anything, what would it be?
Books on Existential Phenomenological psychology. Lord of the Rings books, videos, and knick knacks.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
It’s a tie between salami with ketchup and a fried egg sandwich with cheese.

9. What would he eat every day if he could?

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Apple Jacks.

11. What would he never wear?
A banana hammock.

12. What is his favorite sports team?
Pittsburgh Steelers.

13. Who did he vote for?


14. Who is his best friend?
Pete. And me. And Monkey.

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn’t do?
Where do you want me to start? He wishes I didn’t read so much (not kidding). Also, leaving my shoes in the middle of the floor makes him crazy. In the not-good way.

16. How many states has he lived in?

17. What is his heritage?
ITALIAN. With a side helping of Irish-German.

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake?
HAHAHAHAHA! I bake him a cake for his birthday, and he falls over dead from shock.

How about I pick him up a nice cake from Giant Eagle? Marble cake with butter cream frosting. It’s really all about the frosting.

19. Did he play sports in high school?
He played soccer, and he was on the fencing team. We still have the uniform and fencing sword to prove it.

20. What could he spend hours doing?
Sleeping. Surfing YouTube. Reading or watching LOTR. Hanging with Monkey in front of Looney Toons DVDs. (Bun is not yet at the hanging with Daddy stage. She’s more at the “climb on Daddy” stage. That, he can’t take for hours.)

Crazy Eights

I’ve been tagged for a meme by Katie at No Assembly Required. I have to say this is my first tag! My meme cherry has been popped. *blush*

So here goes:

8 things I am passionate about:

1. My family (this probably goes without saying, but I may need the padding). My daughters are amazing, and my husband is pretty incredible too. They make me feel humble, actually. And lucky.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers football
3. Vegetarian and organic eating. When thinking about this list, I was seriously worried about what I was going to put on it (still am for that matter, I’m doing this on the fly). But then this topic occurred to me. I almost dismissed it, but then I thought, “I would no more eat meat — or feed my daughters meat — than burn my own house down.” So, yeah, it fits the bill. I wish we ate more organic, but… I’m doing the best I can with what I got. (You’ll see that sentiment again momentarily.)
4. My faith relationship with God. Uh, this should probably be number one. A “not necessarily in this order” disclaimer should be applied to this list.
5. Environmentalism/sustainability. I have a lot further to go on this one, but I am hoping every little baby step counts.
6. Reading. I love to read anything and everything I can get my hands on. My husband truly thinks this comes under “addiction”, not “passion”.
7. Writing. I cannot wait to take more time to do this more often.
8. Running/exercise. You wouldn’t actually know this if you met me now — not because of the way I look (I’m skinny) — but I am out of shape. I love to run and exercise, and it is the next thing on the list of things I have to, have to get back into my life.

8 things I want to do before I die

1. See my children grow up to be lovely, happy, responsible adults. Winning a Nobel or Pulitzer prize is optional.
2. Write a book, either a novel or memoir. I truly believe I have books in me. I just have to be disciplined enough to get them out.
3. Travel to Ireland.
4. Earn my MFA in writing (probably poetry).
5. Spend a couple of weeks alone with my husband on the West Coast doing bed & breakfasts and winery tours.
6. Buy a hybrid car.
7. Plant a garden that uses compost in my backyard.
8. Have another baby boy. Well, if I do get pregnant again (after Bun turns 2 please dear God), I will take a girl, too. But if I could choose, I would love to have a healthy boy this time around.

8 things I say often

1. I’m doing the best I can with what I got.
2. Listen to me.
3. No; also: Not right now.
4. I love you and/or I love you, too.
5. Do you have to go potty? Let’s go on the potty.
6. Get your hands (or feet) off your sister.
7. Please give that back.
8. I really need some time to myself. (this one to DearDR when he asks, “What’s wrong?” And, often, when he doesn’t ask.)

8 books I’ve read recently (I can’t swear these are the most recent. I read a lot.)

1. Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
2. Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
3. The Last Days of Dogtown, by Anita Diamant
4. The Laughing Man, by T. M. Wright
5. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (I know, this is two books, but I’m counting by authors)
6. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
7. Everyone Worth Knowing, by Lauren Weisberger
8. Guilty Pleasures, by Laurell K. Hamilton (I gotta say, this book SUCKED. She may be a popular author, but, man, she writes like a brick. Everything else on this list I would recommend. 1, 5 & 6, highly, even.)

8 songs I could listen to over and over

1. Seven Nation Army, White Stripes
2. Either/Or, Wilco
3. California Stars, Wilco & Billy Bragg
4. In the Sun and Devil’s Broom, Joseph Arthur (so dark, so beautiful)
5. Half Acre, Hem
6. Just about anything from Fountains of Wayne
7. Turn on Me, the Shins
8. Just about anything from Death Cab for Cutie

8 things that attract me to my best friends

1. They are smart.
2. They are fun, but not reckless.
3. Even when I don’t see them for weeks/months/years, even, it’s like we’ve never been apart.
4. They are always there — good times, bad times, even (gulp) boring times.
5. Where applicable, their kids. Where not applicable, their pets! *smile*
6. They don’t make fun of me. Too much.
7. They take my side.
8. Despite my dunderheaded moments (which — hey, there aren’t that many! right? hmmm), they still call me back and invite me to go out with them.

Now, I am supposed to tag 8 people I think should do Crazy Eights. I would like to pick only NaBloPoMo people, but I think some of them (Soy is the New Black and Sarcastic Mom come immediately to mind) have already been tagged. So I will pick:

1. Misfit Hausfrau*
2. Her Bad Mother*
3. MaryP at It’s Not All Mary Poppins
4. Chag at Cynical Dad (I think he just did something like this, only in 4s, so if he doesn’t do it again, I won’t be put out)
5. Burgh Baby Mama
6. Andrea Frets at Fretting the Small Stuff
7. Frances C at Fleeting Moments
8. Any of my friends who read this site, but don’t comment. E-mail me!

* These two lovely ladies, one of whom I know “in real life”, are going through some difficult times. So if they don’t meme, we all understand why. Please keep them in your prayers/send good vibes their way.