Books not Bullets

Yesterday morning, there was a school shooting in western Kentucky. 16 people were injured, two fatally. The two victims and the shooter were 15 years old.

I found out about this late last night. No one was talking about it. It didn’t come up in my Facebook feed at all. It didn’t come up in conversation with a group at dinner. Why? It’s because we have become complacent. It’s just another school shooting. It’s barely even newsworthy. Oh, and it was the 11th shooting on school property since January 1st.

When did school shootings become the norm? They’ve been happening throughout modern history, but with growing frequency the last 20 years. Why do we have to teach our kindergartens about school attacks? Why do we have to have active shooter drills? Was the 12 students and 1 teacher dead at Columbine not enough? No, that just scratched the surface. There were 32 dead at Virginia Tech, or there’s the dead in Roseburg, San Bernardino, Cold Spring, Tucson, and Jonesboro etc.

The moment I realized we are never going to do anything about the school violence was when Newtown happened. Someone killed 20 first graders and 6 adults, and we did NOTHING! If as a nation we could look at the faces of dead 6 and 7 year olds and not be moved to make actual change then I knew nothing would.

I’m not here to lecture about gun control. I don’t want to take away your guns. What I want is for common sense to prevail. I want my best friend who is a teacher, as well as some of you who are reading this, to be safe. No teacher, staff member, or student should be afraid to enter the halls of education.

Last year, a student was killed on property at Linton Middle School where my bestie, Kris use to work. She had recently transferred to the elementary school, but when I heard there was a shooting I started to panic. There were many colleagues, staff, students, and Kristen’s sister Amy who still worked there. Waiting for correct information and to hear that people were ok was excruciating. I don’t want to have to worry like that ever again.

When are we ever going to come together and work on more viable solutions? I know there is no magic answer. I don’t think you can 100% stop school shootings, but I think we can make it a hell of a lot harder to happen on school property. For something that happens so frequently and hardly anywhere else in the world, you’d think it would be a priority.

I don’t ever want to be complacent when I hear of a school shooting. I want to feel sad and outraged. I want others to be outraged too. Don’t wait till it’s too close to home for you to ignore.

Yinz be safe and hug your loved ones tighter.

The Witching Hour

Does anyone else thrive in the hours between midnight and 6 am?  I have been a night dweller for as long as I can remember.  The creative part of my brain unlocks during the time when everything goes quiet and the darkness envelopes you like a cloak.  Some fear the dark, I embrace it!

I can feel my creative juices flow as the witching hour approaches.  Most of my writing and a good chunk of my reading gets done while the majority of people slumber.  I know though that there are some kindred spirits reading this.  Those people who understand the inspiration and introspection that occurs when the sky darkens.   As an introvert, I love the solitude the night brings me.  I don’t have to be “on” all the time.  This is my self care time.   I can replenish the courage to face the world again.  I can ready myself for the nervousness and anxiety that claws at me every time I interact with other people.

I have severe social anxiety.  I constantly think through every single thing I am going to say.  I plan out every action.  The thought of attention on me makes me cringe.  I have grown leaps and bounds from 20 years ago, but it is something I will live with for the rest of my life.  I always think that people are judging me.  This does not come out of a conceited or logical place.  I am fully cognizant of the reality of the situation.  It doesn’t stop the panic attacks or physical and emotional side effects from occurring.  I have a need for a perfection that I could not possibly obtain.  I set myself up for failure right from the start.  My worst fear is failing so I stop myself from joining in because then I can’t fail.  Believe me, I know this doesn’t help anything.  I end up missing out on many activities I would enjoy like singing, dancing, playing games etc.  It’s a curse to know the issues you have, but not be able to fix them.  It’s easier said than done.

My biggest fears are things people do every day effortlessly.  I don’t like to talk on the phone.  The only one I normally talk to is my mom.  That’s it.  I don’t order food, schedule appointments or anything else that deals with talking on the phone.  If the unavoidable happens, and I must, I write out a script of what to say.  Improvisation is my nemesis.  The worst by far is having to speak in front of more than 4 or 5 people.  Ice breakers and introductions make me shake and want to vomit.  I excel in one on one and small group situations.  No, I do not want you to sing Happy Birthday to me.  No, I don’t want to play charades or sing solo karaoke.  Please don’t pick me as your volunteer because I will turn bright red and politely refuse.

Small talk is so not my thing.  I would take a one on one conversation where I can really get to know you over inane drivel anytime.  After that you won’t get me to shut up, and I will talk your ear off.  I usually don’t make chitchat with people in line or while waiting for something.  This can sometimes come across as me being rude or in a bad mood.  That is not the case.  I’d rather speak up if I have something meaningful to say rather than grasping for trivial tidbits or talk of the weather.

I like to observe my surroundings.  People watching is a great way to spend your time.  I feel like I am pretty in tune with what is going on with the world at large and the people in my life.  You will pick up so much if you just shut up and listen.  This has been to my advantage many times where I have found out important information others weren’t privy to.  It has put me ahead of the curve in the classroom as well as several areas in my life.  I am pretty good with dates and scheduling. I like to think it’s because I listen and make note of what is happening.  The downside though is that you remember all the not so great stuff too.  I can remember like it was yesterday the many times I felt embarrassed even if it happened 25 years ago.  This does not help when you are an anxiety driven worrier who then replays these moments when you lay down to sleep.    No wonder I have insomnia!

Now you see why I have to have these night hours.  I need them so I can interact with all of you.   Most of my blogs are written at 3 or 4 am like this one now.  It is currently twenty till 4 as I write this blog.  For all my fellow introverts/insomniacs/night owls I say hello.  For all my extroverts/early birds thank you for helping create the balance.  I would be nothing without my bestie, Kris, who guides me out of the dark and into the light.  Every introvert needs an extrovert bestie to make us get out of our comfort zone.  Plus, who are we kidding?  We wouldn’t have any friends if we didn’t latch on to the ones our extroverts seem to attract everywhere.   They can strike up a conversation with anyone.

As dawn slowly approaches, I will feel my creativity juices start to slow down, and will decide to call it a night.  Time to get some rest and try to get out of my comfort zone by venturing out to interact with the world.

Yinz be kind.

Shut your pie hole, and enjoy the show

You buy a ticket for a movie. You get some popcorn and head into your assigned theater. Until recently, you would scope out whatever seats were available, pick a spot, and settle in until the show starts. The worst is when someone comes in at the last minute and they want you to scoot down, or they give you a look like you should give your seat to them, even though they came in during the previews ,and you were there 20 minutes early.

Now some theaters have started to implement assigned seats. If you end up at one of these theaters, you find your row and then your seat number. Then, what sometimes happens is, someone is already sitting in your seat. Someone who is entirely baffled by assigned seats and how they work, or someone who just plain doesn’t give a fuck. Now, the decision has to be made, based on how crowded the theater is, you have to decide if it’s worth trying to explain to these people that they are in the wrong seat ,or if you just simply sit in another seat.

Once seating has been managed, it’s smooth viewing from there, right? Well, it depends on when you go, where you go ,and the luck of the draw with the crowd.

Something is lacking in public performance spaces, and that is etiquette, my friends. Whether at the movies, the theater, comedy club, lecture etc., we all need to use this thing called common courtesy. It’s simple: silence your phones and shut your mouth. If for some reason you are unable to do this, leave said area and go to the lobby where it is acceptable to talk and/or have your phone out. Now that sounds easy enough, right? WRONG!

I’ve learned that, along with the lack of etiquette, there has come about the sense of entitlement. People want to fulfill whatever needs they are feeling, and they want it fulfilled now! You want to talk or take your phone out through the previews? Go for it! I particularly like to watch them, but I am not going to chastise someone for doing it. Once the lights dim, and the movie/ show etc. begins, then all bets are off. More and more frequently, people ignore this. It is damn right distracting trying to focus on the screen/ stage and seeing a very bright cell phone screen lit up four rows down across the theater. Just one phone distracts, but sometimes it can be several. Usually, someone yells out, “Turn off your phone!” Sometimes that works. Other times, the person keeps on doing what they’re doing or yells something rude back. Well, there goes a few minutes you’ve missed. Hope nothing important happened.

Next, there are the twat waffles who talk about the movie as it is happening. They talk about the actors, something it reminds them of, or need everything explained. These are not whispered conversations, oh no, that would be too easy. These are conversations you would have at the volume of sitting around the dinner table. This in fact just happened to me on Thursday.

Joel, Kristen and I went to see Molly’s Game at the Waterworks theater. (This theater allows you to assign yourself a seat when you buy your ticket.) When we went up toward our seats, a man was sitting in my chair and had his stuff in Joel’s. Since the place was hardly packed, we decided to choose our battle and let this go. We went to the other end of the row and took three seats on the end that we had seen were not taken. A few minutes before the movie began, an elderly couple came and sat next to us. All seemed well, but I should’ve known better. We’re not even five minutes into the movie, and the woman exclaims to her husband, “Did she just say what I think she did?”, at a regular conversation decibel. Several times during the movie, they would start talking to each other, but then they broke cardinal rule number one, they answered their telephone.

They answered their goddamn telephone! The telephone which should have been silenced or shut off for the movie. The phone rings several times as she slowly peruses her purse for it. I see her pick it up. I think, “About damn time!”. Then, horror of horrors, she answers it! After saying “Hello? Hello? Carol is that you?”, she mercifully hangs up. This is only because Carol ,apparently, wasn’t there. Then she has the audacity to say to her husband, “What did I just miss?”. To which her husband said, “I don’t know. I couldn’t hear it.”

Are you fucking kidding me? I don’t care what age you are, this is never acceptable! I have seen this happen time and time again. It’s all ages, genders, races, etc. People will answer their phone and have full conversations as the movie/show etc. is playing. The entitlement in that act makes me sick! It’s that trait of believing you are more important than those around you that is worst of all. Society has an abundance of this going around.

Bottom line is this: Don’t be a douche canoe! Be considerate to other paying customers. You are not the center of the world! Be aware of others and practice the golden rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. You follow this, and the world would be a better place.

Yinz be considerate!

Wahlburgers

Since I was 8 years old, I have been in love with the boy band New Kids on the Block. Yes, I am a Blockhead. I have went to numerous concerts, owned all kinds of merchandise, raised money for Remember Betty (Danny Wood’s charity in remembrance of his mother who died of breast cancer) ,and even met a member of the band. – side note I have touched them all, and it was glorious- Going along with this love of all things NKOTB, I knew I had to watch Wahlburgers when it premiered.

For those who don’t know, Wahlburgers is a tv show focusing on Donnie and Mark’s brother Paul who is a chef and created the Wahlburgers restaurants. They all feature on the show along with their mother and childhood friends.

I have wanted to go to the restaurant forever. There were no locations near us in Pittsburgh ,unfortunately, so I had to wait and hope. I found a location in Vegas but ,due to timing, it just didn’t work out. Lo and behold, about 6 months or so ago it was announced that Pittsburgh would be the location for one of the upcoming restaurants!

Today was the day I finally got to go. My bestie Kris and I headed to The Block at Northway ( in a little sense of irony) on McKnight Road. The restaurant was bustling with people which led to an hour wait time and gave off the atmosphere of a sports bar with multiple tv’s (one of which was showing Wahlburgers of course), and pictures of the family all around.

There was a sign that nobody seemed to read that said during peak times you could order food to go. Kris and I quickly took advantage of that and ordered food to eat at one of the three tables outside of the restaurant.

I ordered the classic “Our” burger which is Paul’s favorite. Kris ordered Mom’s sloppy Joes which was an open faced sloppy joe in a bowl on buttered bread with Wahl sauce, house made pickles and onion straws. We split an order of onion rings which they really should just call onion strings. A vanilla cupcake from a local bakery was our dessert.

The burger was good overall, but nothing remarkable. I could eat it again, but definitely not the best burger I’ve ever had. The sloppy joe on the other hand was delicious. It was flavorful and all of the ingredients complimented each other. It was a nice comfort meal. Kris said she would absolutely get it again. I took a bite and agree with that.

We really enjoyed our experience there. The staff was very friendly and helpful especially the hosts. The food is a little pricey, but no more so than a Red Robin or Burgatory. There were a few other items on the menu that caught my eye for next time. I look forward to getting to try something new. I am eagerly awaiting news for when the Grand Opening will be. A few of the Wahlburgers are going to be on hand to celebrate it. So you know I’ll be there! Happy Eating!

2018

So it’s the start of another new year. I’m not usually one for resolutions but this is something that has been on my mind for quite a while. I have always had the passing idea of starting my own blog. I felt like I have a lot to say, but I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to hear it. I would get this urge to write time and time again, but I would push it down. The thing is that this blog was having none of that. No matter how hard I tried, it was always in the back of my mind trying to burst forth. So I finally gave in and here we are, my first blog post.

This has never been my favorite time of year. There are two kinds of people, those that love New Year’s and see it as a fresh start, and those who feel depressed and anxious about what life has in store. I’ve always been more of a glass half empty kind of gal. The holidays are over and the sky turns this miserable shade of gray that seems to last for months. Like I said I’m a regular ray of sunshine.

In the last few years I have tried to find ways to combat the wintertime blues. I am not an outdoor/cold-weather person so I try to find many events or activities to participate in so that January and February don’t feel like they will never end. It tends to be a good time to get together with friends now that the holiday craziness has ended. Trying to stay social is key. That does not come naturally to me so it does take quite an effort not to turn into a hermit until the spring thaw.

Like I said before, I am not usually one for resolutions, but since I’m already doing one new thing out of my comfort zone maybe I should make a few and see how it goes. 1. Obviously the first thing is to successfully start this blog. Even if no one else reads it, I want to make a conscious effort to post and let out my thoughts and ideas. 2. I want to set a reachable goal of reading 50 books this year. I have a never ending reading list that I don’t dedicate nearly enough time to. Let’s see if I can change that. 3. I want to try to be even more open-minded and to really try to see things from different perspectives. It’s easy to get lost in anger or self-righteousness and block yourself off from a learning experience. 4. I will continue to work on being comfortable in my own skin. I will try to embrace all of me, the flaws and the beauty. I need to let go of trying to fit into the mold of what society deems acceptable and stay true to who I am. This is a daily battle that I will continue to work on probably for the rest of my life.

Some of these resolutions should work out pretty well. Some of these resolutions I will have to work hard on every day. I will give myself permission to be OK with doing my best, and even if I don’t succeed every day, I can still get back up and try again.

Thank you to those of you who are reading this. I hope you join me on this journey as I write about anything and everything that pops into my head. Who knows where this blog will take me? I sure as hell don’t, but I hope you join me for the ride.