From News

Building bridges and taking risks

Money Raised for Planned Parenthood (so far!)
Money raised for Planned Parenthood as of Feb. 25th, 2017.

I can barely believe it.

Over the course of a few months, my Build Bridges Pittsburgh design has raised nearly $8k for PPWPA. What started as a hopeful venture with no guarantees— an order of 50 t-shirts from Tiny Little Monster— turned into an epic movement. With the help of Tiny’s web store option, I was able to sell the unisex tees PLUS  a variety of Build Bridges gear, to include hoodies, onesies and totes.

I finally finished up with web sales through Tiny for now, but a limited supply is still available at Biddle’s Escape—my coffeeshop home-away-from-home in Regent Square. I might consider selling them on Etsy for the summer to help start up my shop business and to make some money of my own.

Speaking of Etsy…

1flychicken creations Etsy Shop
The not-so-fully-stocked Etsy shop I finally made, 1flychicken creations.

I finally worked up the nerve to launch my own Etsy shop, 1flychicken creations. There are only a few things up as of now, but I hope to expand my physical collection as well as my digital download offerings. If you have any ideas for either (anything you may have seen me doing lately or want to request), hit me up. I’m working on creating and scanning in some watercolor paintings to get greeting cards printed. I know cards are no moneymaker, but I love making them and the idea of sending sweet, thoughtful notes to people who might need a lift. Cheeseball, I know.

 

Build Bridges Pittsburgh - Billboard by Meghan Tutolo
Joe, owner of Biddle’s Escape, used his own funds to help spread the positive message.

One of the most surreal and incredible moments of this fundraising journey has been to see this guy on a billboard: my design and the positive message spread by yinz guys! #LOVETRUMPSHATE (And isn’t this proof?)

For as much as the last few months have disgusted and disappointed me (politically), this message and those who have helped to carry it have astounded me with their hope and generosity. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope we can continue to build upon it and to take care of one another.

xo

mt

 

 

T-shirt for a cause, yinz guys

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

 

If you know Pittsburgh, you know the implication of bridges.

Not just that they close for repairs causing confusingly intricate detours or that they clog at rush-hour in a stampede of homebound yinzers, but the meaning in it all (even in the frustration) is that they are so very important to us.

“City of Bridges,” we’re called.

Built on industry and the treasures of the mineral-rich Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they merge into the Ohio—the three rivers form a triangle, if you can imagine it. With 446 bridges at last count, “City of Bridges” is an understatement, really. We’re utterly dependent on them.

The past year has been one for destruction, it seems: from the demolition of the Greenfield Bridge last December to the epic and nearly irreversible fire damage caused to the Liberty Bridge (in the midst of an $80 million reconstruction, no less). But the real threat to our everyday (in Pittsburgh and beyond)—detours and delays aside—has come from a not-so-concrete source: a certain president-elect’s campaign.

Like many, I have spent the last few weeks in shock and horror. Not just because my candidate didn’t win, but because we have elected an unqualified, overinflated and narcissistic hatemonger. Whether he believes in the bigotry and intolerance himself is irrelevant. He used a group of people—the hopeless worn-out underbelly of this country’s dying industry—as a means to his own end by scapegoating, making impossible promises and inciting violence and hate.

(Really, I don’t want to hear that you do not align yourself with such values, Mr. Almost-President. In fact, your “just stop it” admonition on television was as weak as it was hypocritical. You did this. You can’t just hit the stop button.)

I won’t lie. I’m angry, fed up. I’ve deleted Facebook friends. I’ve ignored. I’ve blocked. I’ve holed myself up in a bubble, comfortable only at my local coffeeshop and my apartment (with my two smooshy-faced cats and my partner.) I’ve wanted to punch out family members, pelt eggs at signs, scream at the top of my lungs, ram into the car in front of me just for donning the wrong bumper sticker… but I know it won’t help, that I will just be feeding the thing I am fighting against.

“I’m done being nice,” I’ve said, over and over. And I mean it.

But what I mean is… I refuse to be quiet, to be passive, to let this be normal, to watch people I love be badgered or bullied. No, I won’t clock the conservative with the “Make America Great Again” hat in the checkout line, but I won’t shut up either. So I made a t-shirt.

“Figure out a way to use your art,” said a wise man and fellow fixture at Biddle’s Escape, responding to the expression of my post-election helpless-hopelessness.

I created the BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS design because I needed to do something. With the help from my friends and their realized dream, Tiny Little Monster, we were able to create a snuggly soft tee with a powerful message. The best part? I will be sending all of the profits for t-shirt sales to Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

My hope now is that we’ll only get stronger from this division, that somehow this brigade of big hearts will triumph. Just as the Greenfield Bridge replacement takes shape over 376, just as the Liberty Bridge has been recovered from its near-collapse… we keep moving, we keep finding a way to the other side.

 

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

Get Your T-Shirt

BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS shirts are available to pre-order online (shipping out February 7th) or drop by Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square to pick up a shirt and a French Toast Latte.

For special orders or ideas, drop me a line.

<3
mt

 

 

*Special thanks to Tiny Little Monster for their cause-loving discount which has allowed me to donate over half of the money from each purchase to the cause. 
**Also, a big thank-you to Joe Davis (a.k.a. Mr. Biddles) for believing in me and the cause (always).

Little As Living

Visit the shop and see what’s up >>

Guess what?

My new (and very first) chapbook is up for sale. I’m super stoked and can’t wait to share my poems with the world. I even did the cover, which I’m pretty ok with… but what pressure! And let’s be honest, I’m kind of scared about my words traveling around in foreign hands: honored, excited, vulnerable, and terrified.

I think all of us have experienced a thing (a someone or a something) that has made us question everything, that has made us explore ourselves again—as if for the first time. That is what this book is. Realization (and the process of getting to it). Both of the self and of the tiny universe we breathe in: the mundane; the sleepy routine; the waking-up-getting-a-shower-going-to-work-eating-dinner orbit we spin daily. Finding the meaning in that.

I hope you all will check it out. It’s only $7! Dancing Girl Press made this happen and to them I am forever grateful. Thanks to everyone, to those that believed I could do it even when I didn’t. I’m so lucky to have you on my team.

Best,
mt

 

Triumphs and wrecking into walls

Ugh. I’m ok. Everyone is all right.

Life continues to test me… Maybe? If I were religious, I’d fall back on the solace:

“God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.”

A friend said this once, and though, I don’t subscribe, it stuck. I’d like to believe it. Hell, I’d like to believe there is nothing I can’t handle. And after this year (the past two years, really), I’m thinking something otherworldly is going on. Or I’m being Punk’d. And Ashton Kutcher is about to pop up at any moment to apologize and laugh. We can all laugh. I’m already laughing…

So last Wednesday (Abbie’s birthday, by the way) whilst parking, I rammed my car into someone’s retaining wall. Up over a sidewalk, bending my wheel and flattening my tire, then SMACK…er CRUNCH. Like I said, everyone is ok; it’s being handled. Still, the money and the nuisance of it are enough to have me thinking I’ve got some kind of curse going on. Abbie tells me 25 and 27 are transitional years and planets are shifting and rocking their orbits. Something. I don’t know. I’m now 28.  The jig is up, Universe.

But along with the grief and the loss and the changes and the confusion and the theft (yes, there was some credit theft thrown in there too)… there have been good things. Great things even.

This weekend was my art show at The Headkeeper in Greensburg. I’m always so humbled by the turnout—the friends and acquaintances from every part of my life coming together for me and my paintings. I find that after two shows, this one being my second, there is no greater feeling than that type of appreciation. Who knew people would come to like my scribbles?

I’m lucky.

That’s what everyone wants to hear. And they are right. I am. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it all, because I do, but all of my good fortune seems to be overshadowed by (or at least in battle with) some really grey clouds.

I come here to bitch. I come here to ask WHY of the world. Who knows. I’m blogging today, you know, and I’m reminded to look up this “Job” character from the Bible. Kelly keeps telling me to read about him. I did. I don’t know… I mean, we know how I feel about religion. But I like the gist—I like what it’s telling us, according to some author trying to analyze:

If the Book of Job reaches across two and a half millennia to teach anything to men and women who consider themselves normal, decent human beings, it is this: Human beings are sure to wander in ignorance and to fall into error, and it is better — more righteous in the eyes of God — for them to react by questioning rather than accepting. Confronted with inexplicable injustice, it is better to be irate than resigned.

William SafireThe First Dissident[3]


Irate! iRate? iResign?

Listen, everything is going to be fine. I keep saying it. I keep saying it to tell myself. Assure.

On another note, I finally got my moon phase tattoo… on D’s birthday. She hated tattoos. She hated the idea of my inking myself; however, she grew to love my paper plane after some time. And since she always said I was the moon… I think it’s ok to have something that reminds me. That I am. I didn’t get it solely for her or because of her, but I got it FINALLY after over a year of loving on it.

I’m phasing. I swear… this has to turn out on its upside, yeah?

Be good,
mt

A certain grief

“I’m not smart. I just know a lot of words,” said the me in my dream.

I come back to this quote so often. It’s rare that I remember direct quotes from my dreams, but when I do, they usually stick for a while. For instance, a dream quote from a few years back that had me scared and paranoid for months. A little boy jumped on my bed in the dark [in Dream Land, of course]: “The devil will be asking for your soul soon.” Whaaaaaa?! I bought my Scion a month later, so I equated this to my Toyota loan. Eek!

But when it comes to smarts and all, I agree with my unconscious admission: I’m not. Some things just don’t sink in, you know? Like that paragraph I have to read three times before I get it.

There are moments, of course, when I feel intelligent—confident about what I’m saying or doing. Mostly it’s in my language or the way I can [sometimes] articulate myself. What I’m saying is: speaking/writing is the only mode in which I feel like I may have an IQ higher than 65. Real talk.

And we can call this moment Exhibit 94, 509. This not sinking in.

As you all might know, life has the tendency—especially as of late—to shit all over me. You, like I, may be thinking: Another bad spot? Really?

I say “spot,” because I hope it’ll pass. I say “hope,” because I’m not certain. I was certain a week and a half ago that my best friend [mother, “favorite” and soul sister] was too busy to text me. I was certain she was wrapped up in work and the everyday bustle of her world, which had become rather stressful as of late. I was certain she’d text her usual “G’nite, madam” or at least send me the Sun and Moon emoji. But she didn’t. For two nights in a row. I was starting to get a little frustrated.
But then I got a call last Thursday at work, 4:12 p.m. She had a heart attack and had been unconscious since late Monday night. With her full heart, childlike curiosity and hard-assed grip on the world, I was certain she would outlive us all. I was certain that with my carelessness, my clumsiness, my incessant need for productivity and the way it outdoes my need to be healthy, my rollercoaster of melancholy and triumph, I’d be the one in the hospital bed prematurely. But it wasn’t me.

After the call, I found myself in the car—rushing and crying and screaming and navigating through Pittsburgh traffic to Allegheny General Hospital. I sat on the Parkway, a standstill, sobbing to the million memories that hit me, a slideshow:


Remember the time you sat by the bay in Cape Cod and watched the sky until early morning, where you cut limes for her rum and refused her another drink at 4 a.m.

The color teal.

Standing atop Mt. Washington at sunset and dancing in the orange light, puffed up by winter coats, knitted scarves and gloves without fingers. 

Singing “You’re so Vain.” 

Remember the glass bottle full of tiny shells from the Dead Sea. 

Watching her watch her Koi swim below. 

The time you mocked her easy lifestyle and told her you’d come visit her even if she lived in a trailer park—even if the time you spent together was playing 500 Rum and eating Chef Boyardee. And to prove it? You brought her a can the next time you came over.

My brain gets the best of me. And since this moment, it hasn’t stopped with the snapshots, the words, the smell of plastic and death in her hospital room. I smell it everywhere. I realize now, more than before, she is everywhere. Maybe it is the fear of forgetting. Like with my dad. The years have come quick and with it, the memories have faded.

For a week, everything was underwater. With the amount of crying I did [both angry-at-the-world and end-of-the-world tears], my eyes were swollen to half-visibility. I was certain I had been emptied of tears. I was certain there was nothing left. I was certain she’d wake up now that her heart was fixed. It was only a matter of time.

For days, her family and I watched her lifeless, but warm, body. We smiled; we cried; we laughed; we prayed; we hushed her grandchildren as they ran around the ICU Waiting Room in an oblivious boredom with Twizzlers. The doctors gave terrible news. The doctors told everyone it “wasn’t looking good.” The doctor told me personally: “She’s very sick.”

So we prayed harder. I painted the picture of all the light in my body leaving mine and entering her. I was certain this would make her wake up, like in a movie.

But she was showing more signs of regression. Her pupils ceased to dilate; she stopped reacting to pain. And her brain, they said, was swelling and there was nothing they could do. She went too long without oxygen causing “irreparable damage” [a phrase I still cannot get out of my head, the way the doctor said it with brown protruding eyes, head down.] I was certain they were mistaken and that the Universe wouldn’t let this happen. It couldn’t. Not to any of us that stood by her bed sobbing and holding her limp hands, to the us that needed her, that could still hear her laughter ringing in our ears, could find pieces of her—like evidence—everywhere.

I picked at beige colored cafeteria food for days trying to imagine tomorrow.

Thank you for reading this. I know it’s “too soon” to write about—a writing instructor would say. But I have to. I want to remember all of it. Even this fresh grief.

I don’t know. I think I’m stupid, maybe. Because it’s been a week since she passed and I’m still waiting to wake up. I’m still trying to bargain with the world like a trade-off. I just don’t want to go on. Maybe I’m stupid. Because I still don’t get it. I’m certain now that I don’t want to.

 

mt

Short. Sweet. But alive.

So after some nutty health issues and loss, I’m alive. Just sayin’. Through the events of the last few days, I’ve still been keeping up with this poem-a-day extravaganza.

Today’s poetry prompt was to write a “tentative poem.” I got hit with this image, you know. Sometimes I do that. I get a clear picture. It doesn’t often make sense, but it’s something. Like shadow puppets in my brain.

“Somewhere someone dreams of ellipses…”

I couldn’t get it out of my head. I guess it’s about fighting the routine, the mundane… keeping one eye out for a detour. Something jarring. Because if you catch a sip, even, of those sparks in between the layers of “filler”—days and days of work and obligation—it just might be enough to make it worthwhile.

I spent my whole life waiting impatiently for the next page, something to look forward to. I needed it to stay sane, to motivate me to fight. I needed that reason, remember?

Sometimes people fight the daily. Sometimes vanilla isn’t enough. It’s ok to need a detour. But. Patience.

That’s what I need. That’s what it’s about.

Sleep now.
mt

Duke: Nothing to See Here

So, though I’ve exclusively bitched about this sort of thing in past posts, I’ve once again acquired a new hobby-slash-obsession. What’s wrong with me? Typically, I can avoid such excitement by sprinting unobtrusively to the Fine Arts section of Michael’s, eyes fixed straight ahead with no wandering glances. Maybe the Clearance aisle, if I’m tapping into a rare superhuman sort of self-restraint that day. Still. I have to be careful. It’s not that I’m some Overachiever Bandit—it’s just that I am “passionately curious,” as Albert Einstein is said to have remarked [according to various pins on Pinterest that I’ve recently repinned.]

Anyhow, what black-hole ravenous activity has now peaked my interest? The ukulele, of course.

Who would’ve thunk it? After all these years, 27 to be exact, I have yet to pick up an instrument. You can count singing, I suppose. But since my highschool days, my vocals have disrupted only few venues: the shower; my car; the kitchen, from where Dexter runs with ears bent at the first note; somebody’s house where I become overtaken with drunken nostalgia for my “Musical Years.” You know. Never, really.

It’s only going on the second week here of learning—I’ve had a cold ever since. But I’ve been pissing around and thought I’d put my guts on display for the world. Why not?

As an aside, it’s a pretty accessible instrument. If you were looking for a new toy, I’d suggest it. I learned the chords on my own and have been downloading songs from the interwebs.

Please, make fun of me as you wish. Ha!
mt

Viva la Furby

Yes, I know this news is about a week-or-so old, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why it was news at all. For several reasons.

On February 21st, 2013, The Tribune Review reported that a local Pittsburgh woman was arrested for hitting her boyfriend with a Furby. Yes, kids, you heard me: a Furby. And if it’s not bad enough that this big-eyed, fuzzy-bodied robot made the news, it seems the suspect threw said toy at her boyfriend because of “a negative post he made about her on Facebook.” Not only is this laughable on its own, but please, please, please click the link and check out this woman’s mug shot. PLEASE.

I don’t know about you, but there are SO many questions I have:

A. WHY would this man find it necessary to report his girlfriend for a flying Furby?
B. WHO in the hell still owns a Furby?
http://us10.memecdn.com/sorry-furby_o_557845.pngC. DID the Furby actually hurt the man?
and…
D. WHAT could the Furby possibly have done to deserve this?

The Trib article tells us that when police arrived at ONE IN THE MORNING, the man had some red marks on his face and a small, bleeding cut that didn’t require medical attention.

Furby – 1    Stupid boyfriend – 0

I recall sitting in the waiting room for a dentist appointment when this tidbit came over the airwaves—followed closely by a disgruntled granddaughter. Apparently she was angry that her 104-year-old grandmother had to “lie” on Facebook about her age, since the digits only go up to 99, pressing Facebook founders to change this little nugget.

http://meghantutolo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Furby-Meme-Trolls-Your-Sleep1.jpgOnce again, more questions. But I’m not even going there. What’s the world coming to?

As a side note, Furbys have always creeped me the fuck out. I don’t know if it was the fact that it often had drowzy drugged up eyelids, or that it spoke some demonic, sing-songy language, or maybe just that it used to wake me in the middle of the night while I was trying to sleep: dee du li da.

Nobody’s safe anymore…

mt

Falling, fire trees & the Stank Bug Wars

So. It’s here. Fall. And finally we’re getting a taste of this glorious season—and I’m not just talking pumpkin lattes and pastries; though, I think I’ve hit up just about pumpkin-flavored treat this side of the Mississippi. The hillsides are lit up with every fiery shade imaginable, and for once, I’m glad to be a Pennsylvanian suburbanite. There aren’t many times you’ll hear me say that… Let’s face it: unless you’re glued to your careers or your families, most of us are forever planning our escape routes. It’s like one of those emergency exit maps on the wall, you know? I’m sure we all have them taped up in our heads.

We bitch about the cold. We bitch about the heat. And if there is any middle ground, it’s probably raining. So when fall rolls around and the colors pop, I think—just maybe—it’s not so bad.

But then again, the Stank Bug Wars of 2012 make this cooler weather a plight all its own: a battle of wits, perhaps, to keep these resilient, alien-faced troops out of our homes, our cars and, as of the other day (for this girl), our beds. Listen, folks, it’s no joke. These nasty warriors sport camouflage and a visible armor reminiscent of Zelda’s shield. It’s not bad enough they can fly, but these nasty bastards are running amok on stick legs with some ungodly self-adhesive properties, making them more than a bitch to remove from your clothes or your hair.

And if you think I’m being dramatic, I probably am. Bugs are an irrational fear of mine. Besides, according to Stink Bug Smackdown, they don’t DIE. Stinkbugs just HIBERNATE. In your house, people! If you don’t think this is a problem, then why don’t you come take mine with you, huh?!

Oh, and something delicious to remind you about, as my friend just so sweetly reminded me (you know who you are!), there is a recipe for a stink-bug-seasoned bean dip. Yeah, apparently these lemon-headed creeps taste like cilantro! In Bruce Leshan’s article on 9News Now, “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em,” you can find a recipe for Stink Bug Tacos even.

Shit, people… get on this train. You eat the bugs. They leave me alone. Simple.

I drew a little cartoon here. Can I tell you? I actually gagged whilst drawing the “unders.” Gross.

And I think that is about all for today. Up all night grading papers last night, spending my day working…still thinking about all the things I want to do. Such is life.

Hopefully you’re enjoying what is left of the season… sans the stink bugs.

A little inspiration from the Starbucks

Once in a while a little spark catches and the world feels brighter.

I haven’t been posting. I know, I know… I think I always say that in my posts, but mostly because I’m going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. More like a briar patch, and it’s raining salt, and it’s 3 a.m. and I’m completely naked! O: If that wasn’t enough to frighten you out of your bones…

After nine years, I think it’s time to move on. It feels like a divorce. This time, I’m peacing grease and moving myself. I’ve been living here in this sweet old house in South Greensburg since senior year of undergrad, with a one-year exception. After a year, Tash and I moved to East Pittsburgh Street. We rented the third floor of a mammoth house. It wasn’t too bad, since we are the shorter type of girls. Ha. The shower’s ceiling was slanted, so that we had to bend over to get our heads under the water.

It was kind of like a nightmare, but that is another tale for another time.

Now for the goods…


Today at work, I got a tweet from a lovely fan of our company. She has her own blog and was inquiring about doing a giveaway with our product. This isn’t something super new or anything, but I had her shoot me an email with the deets—what she was looking to do, the web address of her blog, all that fun stuff. When she responded back with the info, it took me a while to get to her email.

It was near the end of the day when I did. I clicked the link to her blog and as I began to scroll, I came across a photo that intrigued me. It was my handwriting. On a piece of paper. But where? And was I just going nutty? I started to read and as I did—it clicked!

See, a while back, I got the sudden urge to be sweet. I was at my favorite hotspot—Starbucks—and taking a pee. (Don’t the strangest moments of enlightenment happen on or around the toilet? Ha!) As I was washing my hands, I gazed up at myself in the mirror. It’s no secret that I don’t look in the mirror often. My coworkers have commented, frequently, on the state of my hair, the uncoordinated colors and patterns of my clothing, the blotches of paint on my skin… I loathe it, in fact! There are, on the other end of the spectrum, times I’ve come home with a huge smudge of pen ink on my cheek or a bit of lunch between my front teeth. I don’t like looking!

Typically I’m a hot mess. See photo.

So in a maniac mode of sorts, I flew out of the bathroom (after I washed those hands, of course!) and ripped off a scrap of paper from my Moleskine, jotting down thehttp://bit.ly/NGBnUD words:

You’re beautiful. I promise. Look again.


And this wonderful local (Frugal Foodie Mama) snapped a picture of it. Read the story here!

Inspired by this, she started a little note-leaving herself. She found a great project going on calling Operation Beautiful, in the process.

Success! I want to digress with a note about how important the small things can be, but we know this. Even a smile can change a life. I beleeeedat. Now it’s time to move some boxes.

Leave some notes, people! (: