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Goodbye, 2014

New Year's Review // © Meghan Tutolo

2015. Are you serious? Ah, I can’t believe it. I can recall my 12-year-old self awake with the seemingly difficult math (of an oncoming Y2K)—how old will I be when the world ends? I was mad then, because if the world ended in 2000, I wouldn’t be able to drive yet. I’m glad those were my issues with the apocalypse. Driving and all.

I’ll be frank: I’ve put off this New Year’s entry for 3+ days. I had planned on something a little more froofy—a little more hippy dippy—but in the span of a few days, I’ve had my parked car plowed into (subsequently hitting A’s car and a telephone pole) and so I’m feeling a little skeptical. Do years really reflect their first few days? I hope not. But I did find 20 bucks in a used book the day before. Ahem. This is denial, isn’t it?

The worst year of my life thus far (2012) began with my good friend blowing chunks all over herself mere inches from me, while the ball dropped and the party hooted around us. It was movie epic. This was followed soon by my cleaning off said chunks from her and my other good friend’s floor. It was all too funny and embarrassing to be disheartening. And honestly, I learned something valuable— if pushed suddenly into desperation mode, I could clean chunky alcoholic puke off of people and things without puking. Even whilst drunk.

So there’s that.

Well, 2014, this is my ode to you: all gummy bears and cat photos and getting a chapbook published. And let me not forget, full of love. Love and letting go, that is. Maybe it wasn’t just 2014, maybe it’s been a few years in the making, but I’ve slowly come to realize that the company I keep is important as ever. You and your friends are sort of a team, you know? And keeping people around out of comfort or commonality isn’t enough. Or perhaps this is all just bullshit and I’ve just become lazy. I don’t know.

“Growing up means preferring silence over bullshit.”

I don’t know who the hell said this, but that sums up where I am.

 

Carrie Furnaces, Pittsburgh PA / © Meghan Tutolo

A few things I discovered in 2014
and that you need to check out ASAP

+ so much more…
Anyhow, I’m going to leave you with a poem. It’s gorgeous and so perfect for right now.

 

JANUARY / W. S. Merwin

So after weeks of rain
at night the winter stars
that much farther in heaven
without our having seen them
in far light are still forming
the heavy elements
that when the stars are gone
fly up as dust finer
by many times than a hair
and recognize each other
in the dark travelling
at great speed and becoming
our bodies in our time
looking up after rain
in the cold night together

Thanks for reading, being a part of my victories and my stumbles. <3
mt

My History with Music & Trouble

I’d normally begin this history with a longer summary of my youth… something about arguing with my mom in the car about her Adult Contemporary radio selection. (Though, there’s really something about Phil Collins and Don Henley that really does it for me these days. HA!)  Or, taking it way back, let’s talk about how I accidentally taped over my cassettes, one Disney soundtrack at a time, with this kiddie recorder I had. In the middle of “Hakuna Matata,” there were, at least eleven, abrupt intermissions in the music, followed by a giggle or a squeal or a less original, “HELLLOOOOOO. 1 2 3.” Apparently that’s all the higher I could count at 5.

Proof of the wee chicken with her first exposure to stardom.

Anyhow, let’s bring it up to speed a bit. I have to admit this weekend seemed a little goofy from the beginning. I had no “legit” plans for Friday night. See, this is already trouble. There is something about ending the work-week with a bang. No matter how sleepy or lazy I feel by Friday at 5 PM, I’m ready for action. (Usually making time to nap first.)

After a feast of Southern-Style BBQ with friends (which fiasco I’m purposefully omitting from this tale because of my seemingly unhealthy obsession with food and over-eating), we gathered at my house to decide the next course of action. We had no ideas other than “not drinking,” which already makes me sound lame, I know.

Three guy friends and I stood on the front porch in a nerd-like panic. OMG?! IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT! DO WE HAAAVE TO GO OUT? DO YOU WANNA GO OUT? I MEAN, WHERE WOULD WE GO?… I GUESS I COULD. DO YOU WANT TO, THOUGH? After a long series of go-no-where questioning, spotted with vacant moments of expressive stares, and can-you-just-read-my-mind eyes, we finally caved. Coffee? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

There is nothing wrong with coffee: nothing wrong with the morning cup at work, the “Hey, let’s go get a cup of coffee” between old friends, and of course, the occasional caffeine mania when most every other young adult in this city is already, at the very least, tipsy and eyeing up some unhot bartender. It was 10 PM, and though, the tall/small/tiny/littlest was an option, I opted for the largest. We all did. “Go big or go home,” they say. I’m pretty sure that phrase had nothing to do with coffee, and more likely something a bit harder like Miller Lite.

For the record, I’m a huge fan of iced coffee. Especially since the weather has been giving us a little more sun and a little less snow. [Us Pennsylvanians are all feeling eager to smack ourselves into the next season (today, in fact!), SPRING.]

Yep. Like I said before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good ol’ caffeine rush among friends on your porch, on a Friday night. Until someone gets the bright idea to sing, that is. And still…

Now this is where I’m going to reverse for a moment and remind everyone (and myself) of my first high-school-aged offense. I had gotten into the routine of flailing down the hall in a silly way—specifically, doing my best opera-style “Hallelujah.” It was fun, loud, and best of all… obnoxious as all get out. What else is a freshman to do but live up to the stereotype? I obviously had no choice. My operatics had skidded their way under the radar over and over. In fact, when teachers did start catching on to my screechy proclamations, they laughed. I won.

Until one day, a certain math teacher decided to call me out on my inane (and honestly, awful) singing, when I barged into his classroom, the trail-end of my melody snailing with me. I was told to stop, mostly in a polite way. Still, I didn’t enjoy being told this in front of my peers, nor the made-up rule at all. And like most ridiculous crap teenagers had to endure, I protested. “Why? But I’m just singing? Is it really against the rules to sing in between classes? Do you not want us to be happy, Mr. So&So?” He ignored me. Of course. I was hitting too close to the truth, I thought, and decided I would do it over again the next day and see just exactly what this fool was after.  I hallelujah-ed the following day, ripping through the busy halls in song. And, boy, did I think I was brilliant with this one; I would silence myself at the exact moment I crossed the threshold into his classroom, a blatant sass-ass. Technically, I wasn’t singing in his classroom, so I wasn’t under his jurisdiction, right? I was immediately sent to the principal’s office, where after a good ten minutes of amazement at my “crime,” the principal sent me off with an obligatory detention slip. My second detention EVER was for writing: “My mom is drunk and naked on the street corner,” in Spanish. I was definitely the queen of getting absurd-sounding detentions.

Anyway, back to the much older, modern day criminals: we giggled and gabbed on my front porch on Friday night, until it was someone’s bright idea to sing. I don’t recall how it began. Perhaps someone just started and we all pitched in. Either way, our harmonies moaned and chirped over the dead-nothingness of my suburban neighborhood. The rows of houses were our acoustics, the feral rabbits our audience. We were quite pleased with ourselves, too: inserting the right “boo-ba-boos,” just the right tone or key, even the way we could mimic the sounds and backdrop beats of the original jams. And once we cleared the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Mr. Sandman,” we realized we had no other song knowledge in common. So…

Bearded One and I started with “O’ Holy Night,” and, as a group, we ran the gamut up until “White Christmas,” boosted by the bass of Hat Boy’s low vocals. We were out there for about an hour, I’m sure,  laughing at ourselves, singing, trying to remember the words to obscure second verses. Until the cops came.

Apparently, someone ratted on us. I felt an immediate sense of disbelief. REALLY? Really? really? Just as ridiculous as my 9th-grade offense, only Mr. Cop Man was nicer. He told us someone called to say we were having a “really big party” and he could see this wasn’t true. I felt like a loser. A 25-year-old chick, surrounded by her guy friends, with nothing better to do on a Friday night than overdose on iced coffee in her pajamas and sing Christmas carols, mid-March, on her porch. It’s fine. It is really fine.

Life Lesson #1875: Next time the cops get called on you, actually be engaged in something worthwhile: like intravenous drug usage, or the selling of Black-Market handbags. <3

Day 2: Desperation (already)

I’m sad to report that I’ve been struggling with the no-sweets deal. In fact, I probably should’ve clarified the No Goodies list before I began… because since Holy Day, I’ve had animal crackers, fruit snacks, and Twizzlers. I know. I mean, these are all things that could be deemed sweets, but I guess I had more of a no-cake-cookies-or-ice-cream thing in mind. I’ve been getting grief from those around me. That’s the thing with abstinence (from anything). It’s not just pressure from yourself you deal with, daily, but the pressure of those around you, prodding and poking like they’ve never tried to give up anything before. This is why I fail over and over again with the smoking crap, among other silly habits (hair-twirling, saying “psyche” after things–I stopped, I swear…etc).

I’m not good with pressure. I’d like to say I’m one of those cats who holds her own under a deadline or habit-breaking, but to the contrary, I crumble like a boneless otter. Bah. To compensate for my lack of “sweets,” I’ve begun gorging on my meals, eating seconds (even thirds). From past posts, we realize this is nothing new. I get in phases where I need to eat until I want to puke. Plus, I think knowing that I can’t do something is making me want to do it. Classic, right?
Due to this whole thing, I’ve been aimlessly making laps through the kitchen with x-ray vision, imagining all the goodies my shelves contain, as if they were going to pop out and jump down my throat. I wish. It’s fine, though. I mean, the only time I really crave chocolate is… who am I kidding? I crave it all the time. Bad, Chicken.
So yesterday, which was Day 2, I thought I had found the loophole. I pretty much thought I was brilliant. Chocolate Mini Wheats.
Teesh, probably feeling cheated by her own chocolate-depravation, caught me “left-handed”–as my coworker’s kid called it one day. Obviously, I made the rules, so I decided right then and there that I was allowed chocolate cereal. The first bites felt a little like heaven. Pathetic.
I refused to stop then. I devoured biscuit after biscuit as she scolded me. I even poured myself a glass of milk. In my defense, it is cereal. And though Teesh wasn’t having it, I just kept screaming the same desperate line over and over:
I guess that’s the end of my tale. Sadly, Teesh and I were at odds for the rest of the night and we ended up tackling each other, then boxing. Boxing. It’s a new hobby in our house. Sort of like Fight Club. That’ll be saved for the next entry.
So long, kids. <3

Eat Like Good Friends Do

Believe it or not, there are better things in life than friends who love you endlessly, support you when you need them most and would give the shirt off of their back for you. (Has anyone ever had to apply that theory?)

Friends that eat. A lot. With you.

Now, since I was a young one, I loved food. I might be downplaying this a bit. I didn’t just love food. I had a relationship with food. I married food. My dad was old-school Italian to the max, feeding anyone who stopped by. Every kid on the block had their run-ins with dad. And if you were thin, look out. This was a sign that you were malnourished, and he might just ask you to eat (over and over again), until you finally caved. This was his tactic.

And I was a mischievous, though naive, tomboy with an affinity for Legos, Barbies (whaaa?) and Happy Meals. Imagine a parent (or parental unit) who would fulfill your every food whim–no matter the time of day, the cost or the sincere inconvenience. I had a double cheeseburger at 11 AM, a pizza-parlor style Italian hoagie at 3 PM and then perhaps a heaping plate of spaghetti for dinner. It didn’t stop there; depending on the evening, I might have had French-fried potatoes around 10 PM, or an MTO from Sheetz with a side of Combos. Listen, I’m pretty sure my dad made up the Taco Bell term “fourth meal.” Often, there were fifths, sixths. And if you weren’t hungry, he would ask you until you were, until you were pretty sure you were, at least.

You hungry? How about a Chalupa? Tacos?


Want a Twister? Get you an MTO, if you want?


I’ll get you 20. As long as you eat it.


Hoagie? Sub? Whatever the hell those things are. Want one?


Oooh, I could go for an entire dozen of donuts. Whaddya say?


Boston Cream? Chocolate Frosted? Glaaazed?


C’mon, Animal. You haven’t eaten for an hour.

Between then and now, I have worked hard at losing weight, overcoming about 70-75 lbs. total. It wasn’t easy. I choose salads and grilled chicken. I stay away from mayo and ranch dressing. Making healthy choices is the EASY part. The hard part is the portions, right? Just because I can eat vegetables and prepare my own overly-vinegary salad dressing doesn’t mean I don’t have the FFK appetite. FFK = Former Fat Kid. Though I can keep it in-check most often, I allow myself a day a week to treat myself. This is when having hungry, good-eatin’ friends make all the difference.

I tend to attract (even find attractive) those who can stand up to my appetite. There is nothing worse than going out with someone who picks at their meals, uses take-home boxes and/or claims they are full after what just may be a ONE PERSON PORTION. I spit at that person. For example, my string bean roommate Adam, who considers eating two plates of food at the Panda Buffet “a lot.” (Must I also verify that these “plates of food” consist of 2-3 items, hardly generous.) I remember being unsure of his presence in my life just from this fact.

So yesterday I decide it is time for my weekly pork-out. I put on a pair of loose jeans, a brightly-colored sports bra and refused to brush my hair. This was my moment. Because my friends and I (we’ll call them Teesh & Queen) were already in the Pittsburgh area–the only “adults” without a child visiting the Carnegie Science Center, we decided to eat there. Since none of us had been to Fat Heads on the South Side, it sounded like a nice choice. 4:21 PM.

By the time we skidded through lanes of confused traffic, soggy afternoon drunks in green t-shirts and found an actual parking spot. (In Pittsburgh, we like to “make up” parking spots.), we arrived at our destination, tummies rumbling and ready. And then the heart-drop. How long of a wait? 45 minutes, the attractive, hipster at the counter tells us. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES?! When you’re ravished, 45 minutes might as well be tomorrow. But I turned to see my friends optimistic, shrugging at this seemingly impossible wait.

“Eh, anywhere we go will be crowded, you know?” Right. They were right, logical even. But can we just try, I wanted to ask. There is no logic in hunger. Instead of whining my concern aloud, I puffed up my chest and gave the host my name. 45 minutes. I could occupy my brain for 45 minutes. 4:50 PM.

Time passes at an incredibly slow pace. I doodle. I draw pictures of unicorns and cats and gerbils in plastic balls. It’s fine. Everything is going to be ok, because I know after each doodle, I’m just 1 majestic unicorn away from food. Right.

I’m going to skip to the part to where we actually get a seat, because the dull time in between could be painful to read. But it was nearly an hour (or more) before we actually got waited on, about 6:15 PM. The waitress, bubbly and smiling, brought us our waters. Had she been psychic and could comprehend our subsequent pain, she may not have asked the question…

Can I get you ladies an appetizer?

At this point, we were drooling. Our stomachs had caved in on themselves like raisins. And though we were not starving in a literal sense, the anticipation induced by the unordinary wait time gave us a near-death sensation. So when we heard appetizer, a word, which, in fact, means “before meal,” the question hit us as FOOD RIGHT NOW? And we accepted the offer. Obviously.

While it wasn’t the waitress’s fault, I mean, we could’ve picked something smaller like their Arrogant Onion Rings or something, but we chose Pedro’s Nachos. To put it lightly, this mound of nachos could’ve fed four people as a meal. In silence, other than a few satisfied groans we shared, we devoured it. In fact, we would’ve won an award. The waitress in a moment of shock exclaimed she had never seen a plate of their nachos disappear so quickly.

At this moment, it would also be safe to note that we had no idea what was ahead of us. I believe our stomachs were most likely already full, but we didn’t believe it. Though this should have clued us in, those nachos were just an appetizer. We had burgers and fish sandwiches coming. French fries. Yes. And we had no idea how big these things would be. The prices were reasonable, cheap, in fact. I could imagine anything extraordinary. Boy, was I wrong.

Our reactions were as follows: excited, stunned, worried. But we continued to plow on, as though we hadn’t just ingested nearly 2 lbs. of nachos a piece. It was ok, because it was delicious. It was sooooo goooooood.


Needless to say, the car ride home was a long one. 45 minutes, in fact. And besides the grunts and moans of pain and discomfort, there was a strange intermission of laughter, like we were in some unfortunate food delirium. It was disbelief coupled with pain coupled with disbelief at our pain. Laughter wasn’t the end-all-be-all. All ups have their downs, and suddenly we were pressed with painful, uncontrollable gas, (which then, of course,  resulted in more laughter and more discomfort.) It was a deadly loop of downhill spiraling that ended with the three of us passed out on the couch.