Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A worthy cause

Bloggers all know that along with writing tid-bits about our daily lives, we tend to be 'lurkers' as well. Reading various other blogs written by people we know, people we kinda know, people who know people we know, and people we will never, ever know personally.

Two of the blogs I check daily have one thing in common today. A Pittsburgh-area mother who lost her two children in a horrific car accident is working to build a play area in a city park as a way of memorializing her children who were 4 and I think 6 at the time they died. A councilman and some 'not-in-my-back-yard' folks are opposing her wish to spend non public funds on public enjoyment and education.

If you're so inclined, read these entries and if further inclined, lend your support.

It will never cease to amaze me the limits some people will reach while attempting to keep things in their world exactly the way they want it with no regard for others.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There have been so many changes in life this year. Since May 1, 2009, every. single. thing. changed.
Job, changed. Boss, changed. Place I spend majority of my time, changed. Home, changed. People I spend the most time with, changed. Physically, changed. Attitude, changed.
Not all of the changes have been positive all of the time, but nearly all of them are just that – positive all the time.
The amazing thing, however, is that on April 30, 2009, I could have given you a list of 100 things I wanted to change about my life. Today, a little more than one year later, and I can only think of three…and most of them go hand in hand.
There are probably a million things I could dream for, things meant only for wishing stars. But when it comes to reality, things I genuinely want to change – really things I’d like to add to my life … there are just three.
I’ll only talk about one of those things here, the other two are more the type of things that 1) you talk about after they’ve been accomplished or 2) you talk about as you make moves toward accomplishing them.
For now, I’ll just talk about the change that I see as something I can handle immediately. I really want to see and talk to my friends and family more often. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
Through this year of working two jobs, buying and fixing up a house and moving, it’s arguably the thing that fell furthest by the wayside…well it probably comes in second.
This week, I’m hoping to spend some of my free time – I have that now that I’m not painting for four hours a night anymore! – on figuring out a plan to achieve these three things before this year is up.
I guess this is me, warning you, that I’m genuinely going to try to stay in better touch with the people I love most. And if you’re reading this, that might mean you…so prepare yourself ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've been a little out of it for a little more than a week.
Hearing about Elmer's death threw me for a loop. I'm still trying to ascertain what exactly happened to him and I'm still trying to decide if writing a letter to his foster mother is a good idea.
Part of me is bothered that she may have assumed I knew and didn't care. I know how hard things were for her with him when he was younger and struggling and judging by the few facts I have been able to piece together, it looks like it got steadily worse in the months immediately preceding his death.
Mostly, I just want her to know that she wasn't the only one who loved him and wanted more for him and hoped for more for him.
But it's been several years and I don't want to be a person who causes her more pain by bringing up a painful subject...any advice cyber land?
The hurt is easing a bit, I found the remainder of his letters and read them several times a day for several days in a row until I finally put them out of sight again. Reading them, I could almost feel myself falling for him all over again. I could hear his voice saying the words and I laughed out loud more than once and I remembered why I loved him so much.
Then I missed him and grieved for him. Now I just want to be able to find out as much as I can, I can't explain it but I have to know what happened. I just have to know. I hope to visit his grave and say goodbye.

I think one of the things that bothers me the most about his death -- aside from the obvious -- is that I've had four real relationships in my life. At least they were real to me. The first was Elmer, a guy we'll call L, a guy we'll call XL and a guy we'll call the ex.
If anything were ever to happen to L or XL, or if they were, for some reason, to need me, they would know how to contact me. We have friends, more like family, in common. I don't know much about their daily lives, haven't talked to either in a very long time, but I know they're well and happy and okay.
With Elmer and the ex, the emotions were deeper. When I walked away, I walked away.
There were no hard feelings between Elmer and I. but I didn't necessarily ever want to know if he was married or something. It would have hurt to know that he married someone else.
With the ex, I walked away for very different reasons and there are hard feelings. Very hard feelings.
But I think I've always consoled myself and my know-nothing approach with the theory that if anything ever really happened to either of them of if they ever, for some reason, needed me, someone would let me know. A family member, a mother, a brother, a cousin, a friend would get in touch with me.
Then I found out Elmer had a pretty serious downward spiral and died and it took six years for the news to get to me. And that pretty much blew that theory of mine out the window. And that stinks. And, honestly, it makes me sad.

Do you want to know the truth? I think this particular piece of news hit me at the exact wrong time. I've spent most of the minutes of this halfway-gone year on house hunting, house buying, house closing, house renovating, working two jobs, moving, packing and unpacking, and myriad other stressful life experiences.
Quite simply, I'm exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. What I really, really need is a vacation, a chance to take better care of myself, a few days to sleep in, a few massages, a camping trip, and the free time to take care of myself on a regular basis. And then I can put my thoughts back in order. I need more time to talk to and focus on my friends and family and just get back to being myself.

A friend of mine closes her blogs from time to time with the phrase 'ever on the journey.' I think that's such a beautiful use of words. Thanks for checking in on my journey from time to time. I'm working toward having more exciting adventures to write about shortly -- but for now, thanks for being 'ever on the journey' with me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My first love

When I was 14 or 15, I met a guy named Elmer over the phone. My friend was ‘dating’ a kid named Jesse and they wanted to set me up with Jesse’s cousin. I was at my friend’s house one day when she handed me the phone…it was Elmer.
This kid was straight up confident. He talked to me for a few minutes, asked me a few questions and within minutes he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend.
I couldn’t speak for a minute…who was this guy? I’m pretty sure I made up an imaginary boyfriend and told him I couldn’t be his girlfriend.
And then I met him. We used to hang out at this game room and play pool and air hockey and play the jukebox a few times a week. One night, my friend and I walked in to the game room and I looked across the room, locked eyes with this insanely gorgeous guy with blue-green eyes and whispered to my friend, “WHO is he?” It was Elmer. Hands-down the most attractive guy I've ever known.
I couldn’t make this up, the song “Crazy for You” by Madonna came on the jukebox and he started walking over to me. We played air hockey – I won – and he asked me again to be his girlfriend, and I said “Yes.”
We were crazy in love. He used to say “I loooovesss you!” in this weird southern accent that cracked me up. He couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag – when he started driving his foster mom loaned him the caravan and we would drive to Mammoth Park and get lost every single time. He made up crazy stories like my dad used to and I remember thinking that he was so much like my dad…and you know they say little girls fall in love with boys just like their fathers. If he was late calling one night he would tell me a story about being in combat in Vietnam and injuring his dialing finger or something equally ridiculous. Before he could finish spinning his silly tale I was laughing and had forgotten to be mad at him.
He wrote me actual love letters. Put them in the mail and everything. I’m pretty sure he was the last person who ever put pencil to paper, went on for three pages about how much he loved me, put a stamp on the envelope (sprayed the envelope with cologne), and put it in the actual mail.
“I love you more than I loved any woman and I’ll do anything to keep the feelings I have for you alive. I know I mess up a lot, but it’s never on purpose. And it seems every time I get you, I somehow let you slip away. But not this time….I’m going to grab a hold of you before someone else does.”
This is from a letter he wrote to me the day before I left to work at summer camp…maybe the summer after I graduated high school, I can’t remember which summer (There were three summers at camp).
“Take this letter with you on your adventures because I don’t want you to forget about me and run off with some tall, dark, handsome Italian guy named Guido or something. I need nothing, you’ll always be in my heart.
“You were the best thing that ever happened to my life. And I appreciate it. I just hope I can make you feel the same and return the favor. I promise you that no one will ever hurt you when I’m with you. You mean a great deal to me and I will always protect you. I don’t have a whole lot to offer you except for my love. I ain’t much, but you got to admit I make you laugh. I love you so very much.
“Remember our song (I cross my heart)? How could you forget? Every time I hear it not being by your side tears a tear from a young man’s heart.
Love always, Remle (a nickname I had for him).”

We were together, off and on for about six years. I can’t remember why we actually broke up, I’m sure it had something to do with me being in college and him being at home.
Once, after college, he called me and the part I remember is him saying that he was trying to remember the last time he was really happy and it was when he was with me. So he was calling in hopes I was still at my parents’ house and that we could see each other.
I agreed. I’m pretty sure I was dating someone else at that time, but it was Elmer. I just had to see him. We were so completely connected.
He picked me up, he wasn’t driving the caravan anymore…we had dinner and we saw how different we were that day. I don’t want to go into that, too much. It’s hard to explain. But I knew it, he knew it…it just wasn’t going to happen that day.
But there is this weird part of me that I think has always assumed there would be this day…well you know.
I cross my heart, by George Strait, was our song, the song he was talking about in his letter. Yesterday while listening to an online radio station, the song came on. It struck me hard. I can’t remember the last time I heard it, but instantly I thought of Elmer. Of his smile, holding his hand, laughing at his jokes…
So I did an internet search …I wonder what he’s up to? Yesterday I found something that I wasn’t sure was him, but if it was him, he was married. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some reason. Today, I listened to the song again and did another search. The first search was wrong. He isn’t married.

I found this:
Elmer E. Pritts, 25, of Greensburg, formerly of Stahlstown, died Wednesday, April 21, 2004. He was born July 24, 1978, in Mt. Pleasant. He worked as a machinist at R&M Machine in Latrobe. He attended Family Fellowship Christian Center in Donegal and New Life Tabernacle Church in Greensburg.

He died.

Six years ago.

I had no idea. No one let me know. It happened about two years after the last time I saw him. It doesn’t say how he died or what happened. It wasn’t online, so I’m guessing it wasn’t an accident…no mention of a hospital in the obit, I’m guessing it wasn’t an illness. I found his foster mother’s address and am considering sending a letter. She and I used to talk on the phone when he and I would fight…she did her best to help us through anything.

I don’t know how to feel. I’m sad. I really am. I came home from work tonight and dug out my scrapbook. I saw pictures of us at my sweet 16 party and found this letter…I’m not sure where the others are, I know they’re around here somewhere. I wonder whatever happened to the letters I sent to him. I wonder if anyone has read them and remembered how much I loved him…or if he ditched them a long time ago. Knowing him, he wouldn’t have gotten rid of them. I wonder why he died and how. I’m wondering about all the ‘what-ifs.’ What if we had given it another try…what if, what if, what if…
He wanted to marry me. I assumed we would get married after I was done with college…I didn’t expect college to make that impossible. We were just different. We grew apart, dated other people…you know how it is.

Here’s the thing. I loved him, I really did. And he loved me. He might have been the only man I’ve ever been with who genuinely loved me. And we grew apart, lost touch and he died.

I wonder what he thinks of me now. Buying this house, being an editor…sitting on my couch looking at my scrapbook and thinking about him after all this time.

I’m sorry you died so young, Elmer. You deserved a better life than the one you were dealt. I’m sorry we couldn’t parlay our teen/twenties love into something that could have lasted forever like we’d hoped. I’m sorry I wasn’t at your funeral, I hope someone who loved you just as much was there for you.

I don’t know what I thought I was going to do if my googling had ‘found’ him today. I don’t know if I thought I was going to try to contact him, or what. But I know that I’m sad that the point is moot.

“I cross my heart”

Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start.
I see it in your eyes, you can feel it from my heart.
From here on after let's stay the way we are right now,
And share all the love and laughter
That a lifetime will allow.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete,
And as long as there's a breath in me, I'll make yours just as sweet.
As we look into the future, it's as far as we can see,
So let's make each tomorrow be the best that it can be.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

And if along the way we find a day it starts to storm,
You've got the promise of my love to keep you warm.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine,
A love as true as mine.

My Remle, I’m so sorry you’re gone. Love, me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday gratitude:

Friday gratitude:
1) I'm grateful that the only thing I 'have' to do this weekend is work the Pens game tomorrow night. No more weekends spent working, painting, packing, cleaning, etc... Last night I made dinner, had a beer and watched the Pens blow it all from the comfort of my own living room. It was surreal.
2) I'm grateful for manual lawnmowers. Weird, right? My lawn is divided in three sections and each is only accessible by stairs, so there was no possibility of me carrying an actual lawn mower up and down those bad boys. The manual, old fashioned mower weighs less than 30 pounds and is fairly easy to operate. I was still sweat-soaked at the end of it, but I was able to do it myself! My yard looks a little crappy, I think the setting was a little too short at first. But I know for sure it will all grow back in about five seconds and I'll have a chance to do a better job in a week. Added bonuses include no need to purchase gas and no bag to empty or to carry.
3) I had a little emotional overload this afternoon and I'm grateful for a friend who very quickly talked me off the ledge. She's a lifesaver sometimes that one.
4) I'm grateful for a chance to see my grandmother tonight. She kicks ass.
5) I'm grateful to have such a good working relationship with very nearly everyone I have to work with in this job. It's been one year and one week since I got this job and I'm still finding new reasons every week to announce how much I love it. What a difference a year makes!
6) I'm grateful that I don't desperately need to finish unpacking any time soon. All of the unpacked boxes are in the office, which I haven't ordered a new desk for anyway! All in good time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

almost all moved in

May 1 started off rather slowly...I had some trouble waking up, getting out of bed and finding the motivation to finish stuffing boxes full of things. I think it was equal parts sentimentality and legitimate fatigue.
It was incredibly hot for the first day of May, which didn't help -- I'm not a huge fan of sweating and being gross, but most of Saturday was spent sweating and pretty gross.
My parents, my dad's best friend and me worked for roughly two hours -- start to finish -- and removed almost everything from my parents' house and loaded it into my house. Not bad! We were incredibly lucky in two respects.
1) There is NEVER a parking spot in front of my house and I was panicked about where to put the Uhaul, but for the first time ever, the entire block was clear and we had no trouble.
2) It was supposed to rain Saturday afternoon, but we managed to finish and stay dry!
My mother helped me unpack the bedroom so I could have one room mostly finished and then my folks left me to it. I thought I would pass out on the couch watching movies (no cable until Wednesday), but after a relatively quick rest, I began unpacking my living room. I'm almost done, I have two boxes that still need to be emptied and I'm still figuring out the organization of books on my shelves.
The bathroom, kitchen, living room and master bedroom are 90% finished. In the office, it's more like 40% -- mainly because it's the catch-all room where all those boxes and decorations and the like are being housed until I figure out what the hell to do with them all.
I know it's weird for me to talk like this, but when I found out I was one of only about a dozen ushers not scheduled to work at the playoff game on Sunday, I was incredibly relieved. I just couldn't see me waking up early enough (there were three major traffic inducing events in the city), driving down there, standing for at least five hours, and driving home. Luckily, I didn't have to do that and I watched the Pens stink up the joint from the comfort of my parents' couch (again, no cable til Wednesday! Really hoping Versus is part of the package).
I'm sleeping really soundly, which sort of surprised me until I realized that my body was just waiting for the move to finally happen.
I have so much work to do, not sure what I'm doing finishing this except that I feel like I have to write it all out to refocus my mind on something else!
More soon ~kll