Tag: friends

Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 5

 

This story is much too much to be one blog post, so it’s broken into parts. Here are the links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I’m going to stop apologizing for how long it has taken me to get here. Each of these parts has been painstaking. It’s a lot of untangling, trying to separate the threads of hurt from my actual experience and then from the place I am now, hindsight. There is so much floating around in my head that I need to un-puzzle, to understand, to get out of my fucking body. You know?

Have you ever had company coming, and without time to clean, you just shove everything into the nearest closet? It’s a temporary solution. I mean, some of us are really good at forgetting about the mess behind the door. It’s easier to keep the door shut. But the longer you wait to confront the closet chaos, the scarier it gets, the harder it is to deal with the mess.

So here I am, opening the door to the monster that’s been living in my closet for the last year plus.

***

 

People show you who they are.

Whether it’s through their actions, inactions or reactions, people will always present themselves… eventually. The problem is that we don’t want to see them. We want people to be who want them to be, who we need them to be. It sounds gross, but it’s actually a very human thing that we do. Why wouldn’t we? In this world, we find ways to cope. We are survivors.

And maybe this is too much of an aside, but it’s something I need to say for others just as much as myself. If this is too much for you, just skip to the next section (the bolded date)—like a choose your own adventure. haha. I just couldn’t find a way to not say this.

For those of us raised by people who didn’t/couldn’t give us what we needed emotionally, we are especially good at shaping those around us into what is lacking. It’s all so confusing growing up this way. Everyone disappoints you or leaves you or “turns into” someone else. If this sounds like you too, don’t be hard on yourself. You made it! You are here. Your brain did what it needed to do to get by. And we all do this to cope to varying degrees.

Anyway, the good news is that once we become aware of it, we can better avoid The Big Hurts. For most of us, our 30s are when we hopefully get good at sniffing out the people and things we want in our lives. We only have so much energy and time, so we have to ration it out carefully. (Oregon Trail, anyone?) This isn’t to say that The Big Hurts won’t come knocking ever again. I guess that is my lesson here. I really thought no one would get by my bullshit sniffer ever again. Who do I think I am? 

No one is invincible. See, it’s tricky. Sometimes you find people whose actions do not align with their words. They are good at knowing what you want to hear, but not so good with the follow-through. This makes people sound malicious, but I don’t think they are 95% of the time… just careless. Most of us genuinely want to be good, to do right by others—right? I’m sure they want to live up to this potential, but just fall short. Malicious or not, it still hurts. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we let them hurt us again and again. Even if they “didn’t mean to.” Even if they apologize (but especially if they don’t.)

What you go through with careless people is pretty much always the same bullshit. You find someone you connect with. The beginning is good. But then, the tension arrives. They ditch plans, offend you, forget your birthday—whatever it is. And before long, you find yourself questioning everything and putting up with crap you’d never dream of swallowing before. But then, at some point, something they do (or don’t do) knocks the rosy glasses off of our faces and it’s like we are seeing them for the first time.

That feeling is the worst.

But is that person really to blame? Who are you even mad at? Sad at? It’s a confusing twist cone of emotions that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Friday, July 29th —9:00 a.m. PST

When K told me she had COVID, my first reaction was relief.

It seems so silly now, but I thought that maybe I could just file the whole unfortunate event in that thick, ever-growing folder labeled “COVID: Collateral Damage.” If only I could just forget the last 24 hours or so of weird and disappointing communications with her. If only I could just erase her carelessness and avoidance and tell myself that we didn’t connect this trip because she got COVID. It would be so much easier to blame the virus.

But I wasn’t giving up yet. This was my second reaction. Hey, I came all this way and if it meant I might catch COVID (after avoiding it for 2 years), it was worth it—wasn’t it? It would ruin my writing workshop days and I might not be able to get back on a plane to go home, but fuck it.

Me:  Damn, dude. Well, I will go outside and masked with ya anywhere. So.

Me:  How’d ya get it?!

Me:  Hope you don’t feel too bad… ugh. What a nightmare.

She got it from an event, she said.

K:  And I feel super icky but thought it was just in my head.

K:  I’m so annoyed.

Annoyed?

First, she was “bummed” and then “annoyed.” I, on the other hand, was devastated.

The tears ran from my eyes, some soaking into the black fabric of my n95 mask, while others cascaded around the top of the mask and down each side spilling onto my cheeks. I sat there, alone and unmoving, a sad-face fountain at a six-top table surrounded by plates of cold, uneaten breakfast foods. My phone was laid in front of me like a sword. The blue-bubbled text conversation stalled out.

K never responded to my proposition of meeting outdoors. In fact, she never said another word to me that day—oh, except when I accidentally texted her instead of Abbie. I was at Trader Joe’s (less than a mile from her house). It was benign, something about the color of Crocs, because believe it or not, I still didn’t tell Abbie what was happening. I mean, what if this was all some big misunderstanding and I’d unjustly ruin Abbie’s opinion of her? I didn’t want her to worry about me either. Besides all that, I was so so embarrassed.

Why am I including this accidental text in the story? Because. Even though I didn’t plan on it, the text let K know I was there at Trader Joe’s, a 5-minute walk to her house. Her response was another painful dose of avoidance, which should’ve been predictable at that point.

K:  I love Trader Joe’s!

What?

I drove to TJ’s after the sad hotel brunch, because I had planned to pick up some sick people stuff for K (crackers, soup, ginger ale, etc.), and then plop it on her doorstep. But in my twist cone of mad and sad, I talked myself out of it. I already felt stupid for coming this far, giving this much. I mean, she hadn’t even asked me if I was okay or if I found something to do or to eat or whatever. I stopped myself from doing more. Giving her another ounce of vulnerability just wasn’t an option.

Instead of that, I sat directionless in the hot black car with the windows up taking part in some seriously obnoxious sobbing. You know the kind that sounds like you’re coming up for air after touching the bottom of the deep end? Like that.

This was a me I didn’t recognize.

Friday, July 29th — the rest of the day

Sooo… I didn’t stop crying.

I don’t know what to tell you. I wish my story was different, about how I sucked it up and made the most of it in the Bay. But I didn’t. I did find one stationery store in Berkeley, because I always try to find postcards and things to send when I am away. It just made me sadder, though, wondering if this was the stationery store that K told me about in her letters. She loves Berkeley. As I read her words, I always imagined that some day I’d be there to experience all the things with her in person. She would show me around. And then, she would come here and I could show her my spots and all the places I find beautiful in my dirty little city of Pittsburgh. Saying this now, I feel like  an idiot. After 10 years without a proper visit, maybe I should’ve taken the hint? Maybe this was just another red flag that I missed.

Stationery Store -Berkeley, CA

The rest of the day, I drove around aimlessly, crying, talking to myself, frantically trying to piece together how I got where I was.

What was I doing? 

I wanted so badly to be with someone who cared about me. I was a new level of alone. Like, the kind you can’t just trick your brain out of. So I drove around, found a pensive spot by the water and watched the sun drop. It was the most exquisite pity party ever.

 

That night, I ate a Lunchable in bed and watched TV. I wrote out postcards to my friends back home, pretending things weren’t this bad. In the small rectangle of postcard space, I joked about corny hotel decor, the surprising chill of July in San Fransisco, the long masked plane ride here. What was I going to write about? How I came all this way to cry in parking lots, to chase geese around the lagoon behind the hotel, to eat a Ham & Swiss Lunchable alone in my hotel room?

If someone could see me now, I thought, as I dusted the cracker crumbs from my chest onto the pristine white sheets.

 

Friday, July 30th —morning and afternoon

Still, nothing.

Checking my phone became a ritual that I resented. I watched K switch on and off the “Silence Notifications” setting on her iPhone. (Yes, you can see this in the chat conversation.)

It was the day before my birthday, I reminded myself. Get your shit together. I got to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror: puffy eyes punched into a splotchy red face. The salty tears had burnt the skin around my eyes and it hurt to touch them.

Today would be different.

I made plans to meet up with Christine for brunch. Who is Christine? Our orbits bumped years ago on Instagram, where we ended up chatting in DMs, until eventually, snail mail. Abbie and I met her IRL in 2017, when we were in SF. I know people say this corny shit all the time, but it was like we had known her for forever, like family.

When I planned this trip, I had messaged Christine to tell her that I was coming to the area and that I hoped we could meet up, even if it was just to squeeze in a coffee. Honestly, it felt tentative. I didn’t have hour-by-hour plans with K, but I assumed we’d be spending most of my time there together. After over a decade of knowing her, I was dedicating this portion of my trip to our friendship, you know? That’s what it felt like.

I wasn’t sure how to talk about Christine in this story or if I should at all. She wasn’t part of the nightmare. Instead, she was the reality check I needed, a flash of brightness in this dark weird drain I had been circling for days. But I did (and still do) feel guilty about it somehow. I hope she didn’t feel like some runner-up to K. I also didn’t want her to feel like I was her problem or that she had to pick up the pieces to my shattered hopes and ego.

Christine and I met for brunch. It was chilly, almost winter-like, and the fog was thick in the distance. She greeted me on the sidewalk in front of her place, open arms. I remember her hugging me and how fucking amazing it felt. The tears formed a baseball in my throat (and even now as I recall this.)

“Oh, am I the first person to give you a hug? …or even touch you since you’ve been here?”

I don’t think I’d ever needed to be seen so badly. She didn’t treat me like I was being dramatic or foolish, but she got it totally. I just have no words for how much that meant to me, still means. I got to tell someone what was going on, to tell the story (finally) and to someone who I knew would give it to me straight. What was going on? What was I missing?

But even after telling the story, we never came to any great realization about what was going on. It was kind of a relief to know that Christine was just as confused.

“What can you do?” Christine asked. 

It was a rhetorical question, but I answered it anyway.

“I don’t plan on ever speaking to her again,” I said.

I don’t know if that makes me cold or crazy or a bad person, but I had come to this realization before meeting up with Christine, on the drive down. First, how can you make this up to someone? Some things you just can’t make right—especially with 5,000 miles in between. But the big reason for feeling completely donezo with K is kind of simple: she is not the type of person I want or need in my life.

If you’ve read up to here, I’m sure you don’t need me to clarify but…  it’s not that she got COVID. This shit happened to so many people during the pandemic. It’s how she handled it. It’s how she did not show a lick of concern for me and refused to take any type of ownership. Instead, she played dumb and bypassed all of my hurt. Fuck, she didn’t even call me. She texted me (barely)… and I flew across the country to be 5 minutes from her house. Instead of asking if I was ok, she silenced her phone at 7 p.m., hours after I arrived, alone.

Pssst: The insecure and forever-unlovable kid part of me still feels somewhat guilty for having expectations of a friend like that. Am I being too demanding? Do I deserve it?

 

After brunch, Christine let me hang a bit with her and her kiddo. The little one’s first day of school was approaching and she needed a haircut and a trip to the library. It was sweet and I could’ve followed them around all day, really.

This is about when I first spotted a footless pigeon. What you need to know is that I love pigeons. A lot. And so when I found it sitting like a little clump of bird on some steps, I got closer. Why wasn’t it running away?

Oh no, did you find an injured animal even on vacation? I could hear Abbie say.

I’m really good at this. I get myself into some real situations because I can’t just leave something hurt like that, you know? But as I moved closer, the scared bird stood up on two stunted legs and quickly wobbled a few feet away, where it fell again into a frightened clump. When I asked Christine if she saw it, she hardly seemed phased. Apparently this is a thing. Feetless pigeons. Later, I would cry about this too.

 

Friday, July 30th — 4:30 p.m.

I began my drive back up 101 to San Rafael, back to my strange hotel room. Just days before, I was flying up this same route, sleepy and mesmerized, with a dumb heart so full it could’ve split. It was just moments ago or else years. Thoughts like these burned now. Remembering that excitement, that overzealous fool that I was. It made me so angry with K. How could she? Why would she? Who was she?

Did I really plan to never say another word to her? Even if she texted me? …like I told Christine?

This time, as the inevitable tears plopped onto my cheeks, I sucked in the sadness and blew it out of the open window like a goodbye kiss. It was my last night in the Bay, in San Rafael. The next day, my birthday, I would leave for the writing workshop in Pebble Beach. Despite the grief, the homesickness and the plight of my pigeon friends, I felt a little lighter after my visit with Christine, a little less unlovable. Maybe I could actually do something tonight—you know, other than eating a Lunchable in a hotel bed while crying intermittently during the commercial breaks of a Forensic Files marathon.

Just as I had the thought, it was interrupted by the sharp ding of my phone: a text message. I waited a few minutes before checking the screen—partly out of defiance and partly out of self-preservation. I wanted to sit in that moment of ambiguity for as long as I could. I held my breath as I picked up the phone to read the screen. It was K. 

K:  Hey, I hope you’re enjoying your time today in SF with your friend…

How did she know where I was? Who I was with?

K:  …I wanted to acknowledge our conversation yesterday because it didn’t really sit well with me for a couple of reasons.

There was a large block of text glaring up at me. I only looked briefly since I was driving, but it didn’t take much skimming to realize the slippery tone of her message. As I looked for the next exit to pull over, the heat rose from my chest to my cheeks.

Would this be the stuff her silence was saying, her explanation? Coming through the night before I was leaving? In my mind, there was nothing left to salvage. I was done holding back. I pulled into a random plaza parking lot, unbuckled my seatbelt and conjured as much courage as I could. I knew it was going to hurt. I pulled out my pocket bandana and laid it on my thigh, anticipating the tears that I could feel inside of my chest filling buckets.

Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 2

“If I love you, I’ll love you forever, you know?”

Once, I said that to someone as a warning. By that point, it was probably too late, but I do believe love is a choice. Even if we aren’t aware that we are making a decision in the moment, there is a moment. We can choose to jump from that cliff. Or not. Unfortunately, for some of us, loving someone isn’t an action that can be undone.

This is part of what makes this story so hard to share. But there is more to it.

For one, the story isn’t just mine. Part of me feels guilty for throwing it out in the world, but this is what I do. I am a writer and probably for this very reason: to figure shit out, to process, to share with others, to connect, to heal (hopefully). So yeah, I want to be as respectful as possible. I know that my intentions are good, and I want to make sure my writing reflects that. But because of this, it feels like I’m writing in Pig Latin or something. If anything here seems cryptic or too elusive, please know it’s only because I’m trying to be… kind-ish?

Secondly, a move like this definitely has some Mortal Kombat “Finish Him” vibes. Whether my blog is read by the person or not, putting this out there gives a certain finality to our relationship. I’m pretty sure those coffin nails have been hammered in, but like I said above, when I love, I love. There is no “off” switch, so maybe I’m stalling, wading/waiting?

Lastly, it’s just downright embarrassing. Who flies across the country and invests so much time, energy and money into a person (and for all those years, really) when it must’ve been clear all along that the two of us were not on the same page? Who could be so foolish (?), naïve (?), unlovable (?) …if not those things, then what? I honestly do not know.

So. Here we are.

I am relentless in my need to figure out everything and anything. This is no different. While I risk being too reductive ( and annoying tf out of anyone who is actually trying to follow this), the story truly relies on logistics.  So I’m sorry for all of the prefacing, but this is the last of it.

Here is some scene setting in the form of pre-trip communications, Exhibits A through C. Ha! It sort of feels like that, evidence. Bear with me and the next part will be the full story. I’ve been stuck trying to figure out a way to explain this without just blatantly sharing the full texts of text messages. And I think maybe that’s just too invasive and unkind, right?

EXHIBIT A

In Part 1 of this tale, I describe planning the trip and the hotel while discussing it with K through texts. I would consider this Exhibit A. This direct quote from the conversation seems necessary to later revelations. K said this in response to my excited nervousness for traveling solo:

“While you’re here, if anything goes sideways, I’m here to help! You’ll be travelling alone with bowling alley bumpers.”

 

EXHIBIT B

About two weeks before the trip, COVID was running wild again—this time, it was the emergence of the Omicron subvariant, BA.5. This made me incredibly nervous, and so I texted K:

“Let’s not get COVID right now. I’m so nervous about getting it before I go. And the only reason I’m going for those extra days is for you! (alien emoji)”

I got no response, so the next day, I was sweatin’ it. I hate bugging people, but this seemed timely.

“You there?” I asked.

She answered. Whew. K explained she had some life stuff going on and the day before, when I texted, she was very “distracted.” I can understand that, of course. The conversation that followed, though, was about job transitions and the rampant BA.5. While my excitement was peaking for the upcoming visit, she didn’t mention it at all. Is that weird? Am I reading into something?

This is where I began to feel some sort of distancing. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like the focus of our conversation kept sliding into everything but the trip. These were texts, though. So maybe I was imagining it.

 

EXHIBIT C

About a week before the trip, K texted me. She asked what dates/times I’d be there specifically, so she could make sure our time together was “completely blocked off.” I was working, but I was so excited that I stopped to log into my flight schedule so I could double check and relay the dates and times correctly. She mentioned the crazy life things going on, but she seemed genuinely excited to make the time for us.

By this point, I was practically on the ceiling. Stupidly. Childishly. Like I was 11 again in the backseat surrounded by blankets and pillows and a brand of feverish anticipation that you can barely remember as an adult. The kind of excitement that makes you step out of your body and ask yourself:

Should I let myself be this excited? How bad will it hurt?

Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 1

San Francisco Bay Bridge in Fog 2022
Bay Bridge Fog, Meghan Tutolo (2022).

This isn’t the happy story I thought it would be.

I wrote and re-wrote this blog entry over the last month. It kept turning out as more of a chapter than a story—a brain mosaic of narrative tangled with memories and past traumas. Who do I think I am? Ha.

See, the San Francisco trip turned out to be more of a melodrama and less of a vacation, definitely not the event I’d been looking forward to for the last 4 months. The story feels important to tell, but it needs a little prefacing to make sense. So… buckle up? Or not. Boogie on out now, if you want. I totally get it.

Can we start with the song? I’ve had this song in my head since I landed at SFO on the 28th of July.

Hello, San Francisco, baby, I don’t ever want to die…

It was February when I planned the trip. In the middle of yet another Pandemic Winter, I was looking for a reason to keep going, you know? When you live in Pittsburgh—pandemic or no pandemic—February is pretty bleak. Groundhog Phil’s grim forecast didn’t help. So when the callout came up on my Facebook feed that poet Dorianne Laux would be workshopping at a four-day writing conference in California (on my birthday!), I perked up a bit. It definitely had those “meant to be” kind of vibes.

I love birthdays. Not just my birthday, but everyone’s. I love any excuse to celebrate the people I love in the cheesiest, gushiest, most ridiculous way. Still, July hits a little different these days. It was years ago now that Denise died 10 days before my birthday. If you don’t know, Denise was my soul sister—”my favorite person in the world,” I would tell her. So yeah, you could say there is some earned Birthday Abandonment™ trauma connected to this time of year. July rolls in hot and sunshiny, but with a weird ache. I feel it before I know it’s here.

Funny how it was her voice in my head as I was daydreaming about this solo trip across the country:

“C’mahhn. You have to live a little.”

There was more than one reason to visit the Bay Area: K lives there. K and I are what you might call penpals. We’d been posting each other (letters, postcards and packages) for over 10 years now, but she’s known me since I was just a silly, self-deprecating 14 year old posting on Tori Amos message boards online.  (In case you were wondering what kind of adolescent I was… haha. It’s a pretty good tell.)

I referred to K as “probably my best friend, though we’ve never met.”

In 2017, we did meet. And, you know, everything clicked. Though I was nervous as all get out, that same energy and connection were there from our letters. What a relief! It was a short first visit and I was looking for any reason to get out to see her again. This writing conference seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was the two things that convinced me to look into it further, seeing K and the conference. High-tailing it to the Left Coast for just a one activity seemed a little more than frivolous, money- and time-wise. So, two birds, as they say.

I texted K and a couple of my SF friends to see what they thought. To my excitement, K was super into the idea of getting more time together. And boy, not to be too dramatic, but I really needed it. The pandemic era has made mashed potatoes of my sanity and so much has felt overwhelming: health stuff, roof, chimney, a lawsuit?, the thousand small cuts of homeownership, etc. And just like any small business owner, I’d been working overtime to make the money to take care of this shit. The point: there was an excitement there that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I mean, I don’t really allow myself that kind of anticipation anymore. (I swear it’s more practical than pessimistic.) But I wasn’t on my game. I was on E—physically, emotionally—and so very willing to push myself harder for this opportunity.

So BOOM. Just like that, the plans were made: I would fly in, rent a car, book a hotel for 3 days in the Northern Bay Area to spend time with her, and then, drive down to Pebble Beach for the conference. Once it was over, I’d drive back up to the airport and fly home.

Let’s throw our bones away, get happy, babe. ‘Cause I’m seeing blue again… 

I’m not sure how to tell the story from here. You can probably guess that things didn’t go quite like that, right?

Spoiler alert: I still don’t know what the hell happened, really, and neither does anyone I’ve tried to hash it out with. But I’ll explain more in the next part.

Until then, go listen to that Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s song.

mt

2019… what?

2019, what can I say?

It’s hard to sum up a year, any year, but especially this year. 2019 was loaded—for better or worse. I thought, how about a list? Maybe a list. I’m good at lists…

1. Stained glass! I had a decision to make this year… I had waited a couple years before taking the plunge into glass land. Hey, it’s a big commitment, dollar-wise and all. I mean, what if I didn’t like it? What if I couldn’t do it well? But I’m so glad I took the risk. A special thanks for Glenn Greene for believing in me and showing me the ropes.

2. I saved up for and bought my first motorcycle, a Suzuki TU250X.

3. I fell on my first motorcycle and injured my shoulder, but luckily not the motorcycle. Thank god for that AAA membership and Alex, who legit took care of me in that moment in a way I can’t even describe (three words: King Size PayDay).

4. Someone who I consider family and who I love a whole lot (one of my soul people, in fact) was diagnosed with cancer this year. Claiming this on my list feels strange and selfish or something, but when you love someone that’s just how it goes. FYI: she totally kicked its ass, which is probably the best thing about this year for me.

5. I bought a house. On paper, this is a win, but getting there was a lot more sad and stressful. We were kicked out of our home/apartment in Regent Square by a greedy 25-year-old rich white boy and his daddy who bought the building. They gave us 45 days to relocate. Maybe I should be rejoicing that I had the money saved up to make this happen, but there is so much more to this story. (Like how his family was in the yard out front the next day saying things like “God brought Tr*mp here to heal the country” to our Jewish housemate.) We almost went to court too… an uncertainty that was drug out for too long. To be honest, I think I’m still processing all of this. Luckily, though, we got a much better spot… and we never have to deal with being displaced that way.

6. “At least, you didn’t die at Walmart.” Sure, Abbie and I didn’t die at Walmart. Lucky us. Instead we were running for what might be our lives while gunshots rang out from behind… literally 3 days before we were moving. In hindsight, it feels dramatic, but in the moment, we were all terrified. The worst part about this event is how it felt like everyone used this afterwards to console us as we struggled through house buying and homeownership. Blah.

7. I said goodbye to Meredith Baxter Birney, the Scion. After 10+ years, a new transmission, some rust, and finally, a leaking head gasket, it was time to put her to bed. As you know, my luck with Meredith wasn’t great. In fact, she only had 117,000 miles on her when I discovered the leaking head gasket that drained my oil. That said, no more Toyotas for me. I moved on and leased a Honda CRV LX. His name is Frankie, as in Frank O’Hara. I needed something to haul my art and show stuff, and it has been a great choice so far. It’s so fancy. And the heated seats? Woo. Way luxurious. 

8. The pain. It’s not something everyone knows about, nor is it something I talk about too often. Before I experienced it, I never thought too much about chronic pain or nerve pain, etc. I’ve been trying for almost 4 years now to figure it out. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars, wasted so much of my time and energy… and hope. It really is more maddening than it is painful. But if you have any sort of persistent pain, you know what I mean. At the beginning of the year, I tried to take another path—I went to someone who has experience with my particular issue, TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome). Though he taught me some valuable things, he did not fix my pain. Actually, it got worse. This could be a much longer bit, but let’s just say I’ve got some new hope today—where foolish or otherwise, I’ve been finding some relief. So here we go, 2020.

9. 1flychicken creationsIt’s hard to explain what this small business means to me. What started as a hobby, then a side hustle, has turned into something much bigger and much more meaningful than I could’ve ever imagined. (I have all of you to thank!) It came out of my love of giving (making/finding) the perfect gift for my people. This is the heart of all I do, because let’s face it, thoughtfulness might be the best gift. It’s not so much about the physical thing as it is the time and energy and love behind it. Being able to make and offer those unique items (as gifts for others and for shoppers themselves) is the closest thing I’ve felt to pure magic. For real. And making things? It’s almost necessary for me to function at this point. Being creative and being productive are two things that keep me sane. And while it’s some of the hardest work I’ve encountered (both physical and mental), I am so very grateful to have the opportunity. Here’s to 2020 continuing the pace. (Did I mention all the amazing folks I’ve met along the way?)

10. Not sure if I’d survive the world—especially this past year—if it wasn’t for Happy Family. This is the name I have given to our lil’ collective of cats and humans. As much as I am an independent person, who probably annoys Abbie with my pride and drawn lines, I am wholly grateful for her love and support and supreme belief in me. I mean, she probably thinks I’m like 45% better than I am, which drives me bananas, but I’ll let her keep thinking that for a while. Ha! Need I even tell you how much my cats mean to me? I hate it. I hate loving something so hard and so helpless. But just looking at them makes me heart pee, you know? 

Man, after writing this, it still feels like there is so much more to talk about. AWP, poetry, losing my grandfather, new friends, old friends, art events, the fall semester, almost teaching a poetry workshop, etc… but I’ll stop here. Maybe tell some more in photos soon…

What was your year like? I hope through all of the challenges in your year, you can take from it, grow from it and give yourself everything you need to kick some 2020 ass.


mt

Livejournal or bust

HermitTarot

Oh, I remember those days.

I used to spew my guts on Livejournal.com like some sort of uncensored, four-eyed mutant with a lead role and more feelings than dollars in my weekly Giant Eagle paycheck. Writing often, I would weave my emo thoughts and rants with bolded song lyrics. I would choose 100×100-pixeled avatar images of faceless girls in sad corners or dead-flower GIFs with flashing text reading shit like “it doesn’t even matter anymore.”

But that’s just it, it did matter. Everything mattered. Probably too much mattering.

Today as I ventured back into that world of “Everybody Hurts” and ambiguous crush speak, I stumbled upon a quote that struck me:

“The more profound you are, the more meaning you need.”

It doesn’t feel too long ago that everything hurt. I was an open wound walking, or so the cliche goes. I walked around like that for years in corduroys and striped sweaters, a heart dangling from my seams like a loose thread.

But the years wore me down, maybe. Here and there, we lose people to lack of humility or pride, to distance, to miscommunication, to disinterest, to one-ups and to one-downs. Each time a gut blow. (It’s tremendous, honestly, how much friends mean to me. Without much of a traditional blood-related crew, my friends have always been my family.) And then came a divorce-like split after so many years.That loss was more than familiar or romantic or plutonic, but all of it. Necessary and healthy, maybe. But not without pain. Still, even then, I went forward with my guts between my teeth, handing them out like hard candy.

And then my favorite person in the whole world died.

So that was it,  I guess. The last time I really remember feeling like that, a live wire under my skin. And I say, if this is growing up, it blows.

I told A the other day (after dealing myself a nearly-all-reversed spread of cards): “I guess I had to shut something off recently… to deal with the stress of small and big things. And maybe I just haven’t turned it back on. That’s where I am.”

I’ve never seen a spread that blocked and I’ve been reading cards since high school.

But it’s been more than just recently (more than this jet stream of bad luck I’m refusing to whine about any more on my blog). I’m stuck now wondering, years later, after her death, will I ever learn how to turn it back on? Don’t get me wrong, I feel a flicker on occasion. I’m absolutely ok, and you know, sometimes my heart gets full and round and I can hear the blood pulsing in my ears. But is that it? I just want to know.

Is strength, is growing up, really just dulling the nerves and dumbing down our hearts… is the only thing that really changes the things that change us?

I don’t buy it. I can’t won’t.

mt

Just bee

Well, if you haven’t heard… I’ll be Professor Chicken by the end of this month. Ok. I’m teaching one class at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. (From where I graduated about… ugh… 4 years ago.) Wow. Anyhow, it has me working some serious tail feathers, along with my arty art projects and cooking and sweating (the humidity this way has been obnoxious) and and and still trying to keep up any sort of motivation to do normal things like grocery shop, clean Mr. Winston’s cage, or sleep. Summer-induced insomnia. Nice.

But fall is coming! Are you pumped? It’s my favorite, even if it is cliche. These last few days, the air just feels like fall, you know? To me, it is so much more fresh than spring. Spring is mud and melted snow and rain and mud. And while Tash finds it depressing, the upcoming leaf-falling season gives me this strange feeling in my tummy—like butterflies with dumbbells tied to their wings. And THEN this whole montage of flashbacks (haunted houses, sipping cider, carving pumpkins, etc.) plays in my head with the reflective yet raspy backdrop of “It’s a Wonderful World.” Ha. It’s not that serious, maybe, but it is that corny.

I took this little snap when Tash and I went to visit Amy in Lancaster (Lan-cus-ter: she’ll beat you if you don’t say it right). We were hiking somewhere crazy (up RT 81, I believe)… and the whole forest floor was covered like this. It was like a dream…

Speaking of dream. That’s one huge pumpkin. Note the text on the little white one (and squash). Totally didn’t see that.
What’s your favorite season? I find Winter-lovers interesting. I like Winter… for like a second.
Ahhh… I better crash.
mpt

Babies use soap, right?

Being the lucky girl that I am, I have some pretty amazing friends. I wanted to pimp this girl for her unique and awesome brain. Well, I mean, a lot of people can make soap, but this girl makes it from base ingredients, meaning LYE! This shit scares me to be honest, as I can’t even use a kitchen knife half of the time. I digress. You should check out her soap. Not only does she make the soap, but it’s packaged in her handmade paper and lovely typewriter lettering. I’ll be making some with her soon, so pictures are to come.

In the meantime, check her out. She is up for new ideas, too. Give her a shout. cyfisch@gmail.com —or, if you’re too shy, hit me up.

So listen. My next stop is Dream Land. I’m going to make it brief, because how boring are dreams to other people? I know, BUTTTT… I dreamt I had a baby. I had a baby, was happy about it, and gave it away. Yep. I was a surrogate mother. It kind of messed me up all day. I’m a gusher. Add that to my list of hobbies… painting, writing, knitting, singing…surrogate mother. I kind of wonder what y’all think. Could you do it? Pros. Cons. What?

Just curious, as usual. >^..^<

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.