Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Miss May Part 2

This morning, May told me she is retiring on January 6! She will have ten years put in on January 5 but wants to finish that week of school. She says she needs to be home with her husband and that she's worked long enough. What will I do? I asked her what if the new person doesn't hold my bus for me because I'm a grownup, but she promises that all the guard staff are wonderful. I don't know. I feel unsure. I've gotten so used to a crossing guard I may not remember how to look both ways. I think I'll take her some cocoa in the afternoon on her last day and we'll celebrate.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Crazy Bread Lady

I stayed up pretty much all night long baking bread. I don't know why. I have this sort of mania sometimes. Like I'll read about something and have to do it immediately or I can't think about anything else until it happens. So Ellen gave me this memoir/cookbook about a woman who seems just like Ellen. This lady thinks all tables need flowers and that all meals MUST have a salad course with separate plates. I guess when you're over thirty you stop eating food out of the pot with a fork, I don't know. I'll have to wait and find out.

Anyway, this lady insisted her bread recipe was amazing and super easy. So I sent Corey out to buy wheat flour and yeast and I kneaded some dough. Because many of my experiments like this (I'm referring to the multiple yogurt disasters) have gone terribly wrong, I was super impatient about my bread dough. I was convinced I had effed it up and it would just sit there like a sticky lump and do nothing.

I peeked at it every five minutes. I couldn't sleep, even though I knew it was ok to let the sucker rise over night. I just had to keep peeking. And sure enough, it looked like it was doing nothing at all. My heart sank, I fell asleep. But then, this morning, it was sort of puffy! When I punched it, my hand sank into the dough, air escaped. I had made bread rise! It was so awesome. So I slapped it around for awhile, covered it with a towel and went back to bed.

Then, when I came back to the kitchen at 830, it had risen again! I have made bread. I have it in the oven right now.

As I questioned earlier this week, why do I do these things? Why am I reading a memoir cookbook and baking bread? I bought the Mrs. Beeton book, I have 30 pounds of bridal catalogues to read while I knead dough. It's so satisfying to do these things, too. It feels really good to know that I took some raw ingredients and formed them into something way more delicious than the supermarket could do.

It's also really neat to sit down to a meal I made completely from the beginning. I didn't grind the flour or stomp the olives, but I certainly infused the oil and kneaded the dough. I'm pretty jazzed to make french toast from my new loaf of wheat bread. Yum!

Ok, so the final product is a little crunchy. As in rock solid on the outside and a LITTLE soft in the middle. It's ok warm with butter, but not so good just on its own. It certainly does not melt in my mouth like the book suggests. I wonder if I cooked it too long? Or if I did something wrong with the ingredients. When Corey gets home from work, I'll send him to the store for more yeast. I have to get this right!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Anger Sharks

My anger sharks are swimming inside me this morning. For starters, I am having so much trouble with my writing project this semester. I have to keep revising a 60 page paper and with so much revision, I don't know where to start. Usually I just sit here and stare at my monitor. Then, Corey is totally sick and has to get up every hour to hack up phlegm. So I can't sleep at night and lie there thinking of my paper instead of getting refreshing sleep. Also, the kitchen is full to the brim of dirty, disgusting dishes. I can't bring myself to wash them and now there are sooooo many I wouldn't even know where to put dirty ones while I make others clean. Plus, even though Corey is sick, it is not my TURN to do these dishes. And I just can't make myself help him out when I do so much else domestically around here that I feel like I should get a uniform and ask for a Christmas bonus. Even those dishes in the dish drainer are dirty. We just put them there because there was nowhere else to put them. I can't even cook dinner tonight because all the pots and pans are dirty. And look at the disgusting crap in the drain!

Is it wrong that I get sick satisfaction from watching my neighbors clean their cars in the freezing cold? It's like when I watched Destiny move in the day after Corey and me. I just sat in my pajamas and watched her haul furniture in the stinking heat. This morning, I enjoyed watching Freya dig out her car wearing dress-up clothes. This is just wrong!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Miss May Saves the Day

Every morning from ten past seven until nine thirty, May Webber is the most important person on my block. For the past ten years, May has been guarding the intersection of Stanton and Negley in East Liberty, assuring safe passage for neighborhood school children. Nobody walks or drives through the intersection without her approval.
Webber is a fount of information, a parent to all. She can tell you the most accurate weather forecast for the next three days. She holds your bus for you if she sees you running down the block, even if you’re a grownup. She always has a smile for you, regardless of the temperature. Sometimes, in the afternoon, she doubles up as art critic, talent judge, or referee as kids rush to show her projects, sing songs, or demonstrate new dance moves. Today, I saw her showing some school kids how to make proper snowballs.
Sometimes, she has to work two corners. “I got 37 kids today!” she’ll say, flustered, as she looks up and down the street in four directions, checking to make sure children aren’t walking into the busy intersections alone. May works with private and public school children, elementary through high school students, in addition to all the adults she guides to work each day. Many of the students May shepherds attend schools that were recently scheduled to close in Fall of 2006. If that happens, “Well, I’ll be out of a job.” According to May, guards who work closer to the closing schools with more seniority will be assigned to the rural corners without traffic lights.
May is kind of low on the seniority list among crossing guards. She retired from her job as a supervisor in the housekeeping department of the nursing home on Stanton. Ten years on the street corner is nothing, a drop in the bucket for the old-timers guarding the intersections for their entire lives.
Today, I was surprised to see her when I left for my bus at 9. I knew the schools were on two-hour delay from the snow and thought maybe she just came in early. "You got to sleep in today, huh May!" I yelled, above the roar of slushy traffic.
"Not me! On snow days we work double!" Many of the parochial schools don't follow the closings and delays. May and the other guards work double shifts in case the kids don't hear the news. She sends them right back inside.
Since the weather is so variable in Pittsburgh, I've seen the full range of crossing guard fashion these past few months. On rainy days, May gets a huge yellow slicker. Her cold weather gear is also yellow. A fur-lined, knee length parka goes over her flat, navy hat. On nice days, she just wears her light blue button down with black pants. There are different gloves for the different weather conditions. Today, snowy and white, necessitated thick, black gloves.
The one thing that never changes is the siler-plated whistle on May's wrist. It hangs from an equally shiny hoop, and she blows it with caution. One day a few weeks ago, in the pouring rain, a screaming fire truck came dashing through a red light in May's interesection. She was glorious, holding back the traffic whistling at the children to stay put, checking behind her to make sure no kids ran through her other corner.
"We're so short handed now! I work double corners every day." She tells me in the afternoon. The kids trudging home through the snow made sure to stop and hug her. As she stands in the middle of the road, blocking the traffic so I can cross into my apartment, I think that I just might want to hug her, too.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Actual Snow

So instead of concentrating on my revision of my 60 page piece of crap paper, I decided to go to Target and spend my magical money from heaven on some presents. There I was shopping away for about an hour. I came outside, and there was the snow! Covering everything! It took me forever to get home. I was maybe 80% as scared as I was driving on Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier. They sure aren't kidding when they say bridges freeze before roads. I'm so glad I had so many to drive on! And, as I'm sure Corey has complained to you in the past, there is a stop sign at every intersection in Pittsburgh, most of these on hills. There was a lot of careful shifting going on tonight!

Now that I am home, I am still not doing my revisions. My proposal still lacks frame and focus, and I guess I don't care anymore tonight maybe? Who can say. I did 5 loads of laundry, drank a daquiri and took some photos of the blizzard:

Not terribly exciting, but I think it's a nice change from staring at my laptop. But let's face it. I really haven't spent too much time staring at my laptop tonight, have I?

Monday, December 05, 2005


So I just realized that I have quite a collection of etiquette books. I have the Grrls guide to etiquette, I've been reading some Mrs. Beeton. After reading some fascinating Margaret Atwood books, I got really interested in how to run upper class households in the 19th century, so I bought some guides to that. Since I got engaged, I have tons of Emily Post books and stuff from The Knot laying around. Why is this? I consider myself a feminist. Surely I don't agree that there are proper ways to respond to dinner invitations and certain formulas involved in calculating what to spend on a wedding gift. Do I purchase these books out of hidden shame for my enjoyment of burping? Perhaps I feel badly that I don't own lace gloves or a purse?

Last night, I was working with a student on her paper about Adrienne Rich's ON LYING. Rich parodies society's roles for women; she ironically challenges our behaviors. I made this student work very hard to differentiate between Rich's opinion of a "woman's place" and society's definition of the same. The student and I gave virtual high fives, talked about girl power. Today, I started an application process to teach women's studies courses next year.

So why the fascination with etiquette guides? I could tell you I buy them because they're funny or that I analyze them to scorn the women for perpetuating a servile role for themselves. But I don't do these things. I read these guides and secretly wish I wanted a china dinner service for 12. I wish I had glasses for all types of alcohol, sterling silver flatware to bring out for company. I wish I knew the rules of appropriate hours to make phone calls. I wish I sent people thank you gifts wrapped in satin bows around expensive boxes. Why don't I do these things?

I have taken up knitting with fervor, I learned to bake apple pie from scratch this summer, and I infuse my own olive oil. I pick up after a man and I curl up with the writings of the Victorian Martha Stewart. What is happening to me?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dancing, Snow and Ethiopia

Well, I decided at last to welcome my fellow writers into my home. Despite my not having hung photos on the wall yet, everyone was impressed with the charm of this gorgeous building. Everyone's awe at the high ceilings and fantastic built in fireplace and bookshelves reinforced my confidence that I was right to pressure Corey into moving in to this building. The back yard is kind of creepy now that it's winter time. The big old oak tree by the fence has destroyed the iron fence. Its roots have pushed up sections, knocking it off kilter. The snow covered dead plants around it (I thought sunflowers crumbled after they wither, but no! They stand there like dead Christmas trees) make the whole yard creepy. But the rest of the building is awesome.

Anyway, the dance party was a hit. Sarah Harris and Taha from fiction got totally hooked on DDR. They stomped the night away to Neverending Story screaming "This game is like crack! I'm totally hooked!"

And then Corey's PSU friends came in preparation for a snowy mountainbike adventure. Only Alyssa would dance. I think the three boys were too ashamed that Corey is so good at DDR. They just played dominos in the kitchen. Whatever. Dancing is way cooler.

We went bowling at a totally creepy urban bowling alley on Saturday. The employees screamed at one another over intercoms. "No, asshole! The people who want Christmas music are up front!" "Look, jerk, just turn the radio to BOB!" It made me very uncomfortable. I had to drink some Iron City just to deal. The ball return didn't work and small children kept coming and taking our balls. It was definitely my strangest bowling adventure ever.

THEN we went to Abay and had Ethiopian food again. I was so glad five people were there because we got to try eight different dishes. We did everything but pick up the communal platters and lick them. The waitress tried to take away our platters after we had eaten most of the food, but Corey stopped her so we could dip our bread into the saucy patches of onion and lentils left on the tin plates. It was amazing. Ethiopia has the best food I've ever eaten. How did they get this reputation for famine? Their recipes are amazing. Plus, you get to eat with your hands and you scarf bread with every bite. What could be better??

Friday, December 02, 2005

Steamboat Captain

I finally decided to be proactive about the radiators. For some reason, Corey suggested that my constant bitching about them wasn't helpful. I don't know why he doesn't enjoy my pinching him awake every morning at 5:20 to listen to the clanging. Anyway, I called the rental people and they asked me the following questions before they would send a specialist: 1. Is your radiator turned on? 2. Are your windows closed?

The super nice heater fixer discovered that the water release valve on the radiator has been painted shut. As soon as he chopped it off, the whole house was instantly, silently hotter. It was a miracle. He is now in the bedroom with a hammer making some magic happen for the radiator.

Corey is sitting in his office in his pajamas (yes, pajamas at 4:30 in the afternoon) supervising. I'm so glad to have the problem solved before our ultra fun Dance Dance Revolution party this evening.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Dirty Dozen

On Saturday I did the Dirty Dozen ride/race. Read about it here and see a map here.

The start was only a few blocks from the apartment and at 10AM, so that was nice. Everyone was complaining about how cold it was, but I thought it was pretty nice, which I attribute to how cold our apartment has been lately (55-60 degrees!). There were 50 people at the start (only 3 women, although one was 46-years-old).

Between the hills everyone would ride together slowly, and then at the base of each climb, the ride leader would blow his whistle and about a dozen guys would race up trying to get the points for the top five finishers while the rest of us just tried to survive. At the top we'd wait for everyone to finish and there was even a car with food and drinks that would drive ahead and wait for us at all the hill tops. Because of all this sitting around and slow riding though, it took us 7 hours to complete the entire 50-mile loop.

Here are some pictures:
Rialto St. One of the steepest, but also one of the shortest.

Forget which one this is, but what you're looking at is only the last section. There was a lot more before this, most of it steeper, but not cobbled.

This is Nick from the Pitt Cycling Club. He was the only one on the ride without an expensive bike and proper clothing and gear, so everyone was impressed and making a big deal about the fact that he could even make it up most of these climbs.

The group on top of Mt. Washington with the city in the background.

A panoramic view of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington.

This is Canton, which at 37% is the steepest in the city and one of the steepest in the world. From an article about the street: Figures can be fuzzy, but the best San Francisco can do are grades of 31.5 percent. The world's steepest claim is made by Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, but its steepest part, according to the town's own Web site, is only 35 percent. See the entire article here.

Another shot from the bottom of Canton. Yes it's very steep, but it's also very short and I was able to do it. A big part of it is having the right technique. Apparently only about half of the riders are able to do it.

From the top of Canton. Notice that the sidewalk is actually steps!

One more of Canton.

This is the last section of the last climb, Tesla. It's hard to really compare the climbs since ones towards the end were made worse by effort already put in on the previous climbs. Couldn't hold the camera still for this shot because I was so tired.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Woohoo! Zoo!

My teammate Jackie works in the education department at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Since I hadn't been there yet and she wanted some overtime hours, she took me on a private, behind-the-scenes zoo tour! It was so neat! I got to see tree frogs and millipedes and chincillas and giraffes, everything! I learned about the mating habits of gorillas. For example, usually there is a group of female gorillas with one grayback male. When the boy babies are old enough, the alpha male kicks him out and makes him find his own family. But the Pittsburgh grayback has a brother who he didn't kick out. The brother just tags along, never mates, and hangs out. His name is Harry. He pounded his chest while I was there today.

And then we saw elephants. Elephants are really awesome because the matriarch is the leader of each herd. She bosses all the men around. So they have to keep the male elephant, Jack, in a separate pen or he'll try to mate with the babies.

And then Jackie told me I could totally work as a zoo camp teacher at the zoo this summer. Teaching experience, elephants, walking distance of home...what a perfect summer job! And to think Destiny almost had me convinced to waitress!


Jordan commented that he was told I didn't want alchohol at my wedding. That's a huge lie! The hugest lie in the entire world! Whoever said that is no longer invited to the wedding. What I said was I didn't want an open bar, but to just have wine and kegs. (And Corey shot that idea down anyway) Why would anyone think a wedding full of rugby players, cyclists, and Ranks would be alchohol free? That's the most absurd thing in the entire universe. I would rather not have a DRESS than not have beer there!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oh! PS

I went to the new Harry Potter movie last night! Yay! It was really good, although I can't help but be disappointed by the little things they left out. Like Winkie! and SPEW! But it was really good. I like that the guy from the English Patient is Voldemort. It makes me excited for book 7 to come out all over again. Before we went, Corey and I had dinner with the upstairs folks and Ms. Destiny Miller from downstairs. Then we filled our purses with M&Ms and got our free popcorn at Lowes. Why free pop corn, you ask? Because Lowes is in Homestead, a crappy, drug action neighborhood on the south side of the city. There was a fatal, drug-related shooting at the Tupac or whatever rapper movie last week. So the theater is giving out free popcorn to entice viewers to go! How great!

Anyway, the movie was nice, the chairs reclined, everyone was unshot. It was a fabulous evening. I provided the mashed taters. Corey ate rice beforehand. And skipped going to the movie. All 15 of us piled into cars and left and he just went home. Why?

Bride on a mission

So Freya upstairs got engaged three days after I did. That evening, she came home with a box full of binders, magazines, phone numbers, and business cards. She is a woman on a mission. She and JP have decided on a May 2006 wedding, which left her seven months to plan. In the time I decided I should learn what different shape wedding gowns exist, Freya has a caterer, reception site, guest list, dress (!!!), ceremony location, bridesmaids, bridesmaids gowns...she's basically done organizing. I don't even know where to start!

Despite buying The Knot's ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WEDDINGS IN THE REAL WORLD, I feel clueless. Freya took this project under her wing and made a scrapbook full of magazine images in one day. She made her fiance comment on each idea. He wrote things like "Hm" and "Yes" in the 500-word spaces she allotted for each theme, bouquet, color scheme. She got him to come with her to the travel agent to plan their Scandonavian adventure honeymoon. He even went along when they registered! Could it be possible that Corey will assist in these endeavors?

At any rate, when Freya is not tasting cakes or budgeting flowers, she is more than happy to show me her web journal and bride packages. Apparently The Knot online lets you create any number of online wedding things. A website, budget tracker, phone number organizer, guest list status sheet that will create table arrangements based on last name and table size, gift registry list...Weddings are a scary, corporate monster endeavor. Do I really want to go down this road? Can I hire Freya to be my tour guide?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wedding Gown 101

I am learning the most amazing things. For starters, I had no idea certain dress top designs were more or less flattering for specific body types. Since I usually wear a t-shirt or turtle neck, I pretty much assumed you either look nice in a shirt or you don't. But no! You can custom select your wardrobe (or bridal gown) based on your boob size!

I learned that the spaghetti strap corset top I so admire on other people really DOES make me look plump! It's not in my head. Those tiny straps are clinging to my broad shoulders like string through a pork loin. Other shapes that I shouldn't dream of for my wedding gown include a bateau, halter, v-neck, portrait, high collar, off shoulder, asymmetric, or jewel top. Suddenly everything makes sense! The reason I look like I have triple F cup gongas in my v-neck red shirt from Nordstrom is that I'm not supposed to wear v-neck things!

According to The Knot, v-necks make my bodice look too full. Off shoulder gowns emphasize broad shoulderrs, scoop necks do the same. Bateau necks, whatever they are, emphasize the bust. All this time I've been attempting to dress mself without professional assistance I've been emphasizing the very things I want to hide. What is a girl with big knockers and rugby shoulders supposed to wear to dress up functions, I ask you??

The answer, clearly, is a strapless gown or a square cut with wide straps. Now, in my proven unexpert opinion, I would have thought a strapless gown would be a bad idea. I can just see the spare skin in my armpit region squirting over the top seam, my back flesh bulging out the top. I have been assured this is not so. This design is listed as good for broad shoulders and big busts. The square cut is listed as being bad for almost no one. I wish The Knot would publish a guide for how to buy business casual clothes.

At what point did my mother give up and allow me to grow into a woman with no idea how to purchase clothing? Was it during my vintage shopping days in high school? I know she had a rough time with the checkered pants from the Salvation Army and the mechanic shirt with the Craig nametag for school pictures. But couldn't she have gently suggested that I start to purchase a nice wardrobe of classic, square neck pieces I could wear forever? Or was she doing this all along as she nudged me into the Misses section at Boscov's. Perhaps if they named the department something else, it wouldn't make the struggling sweatpants wearing high school girls think of Mom Jeans and run screaming.

My enlightenment for clothing did not stop with dress tops. Oh no! I learned about skirts, too. I remember the beautiful ball gown I wore to prom. The tiny straps didn't look too bad on my pre-weight regimen shoulders. I now know that such a design is bad not only for short people but also for those with "a lot on top." A-lines! I need a-lines forever. Imagine the tears I saved myself. Thanks to The Knot, I know to turn away from the frothy, layered cakey ball gowns. I can head straight for the a-line strapless numbers and, maybe, feel good about myself in a fancy dress for once.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Visit from Onion

Corey's mom came to spend the weekend. We had a fabulous time despite several time-related freakouts from me and a spat of bad weather for twenty minutes on Sunday. Here is a blurry view of the city from the Duquesne Incline at night time. You can see the point and some of the illuminated bridges reflecting on the water. After our lovely incline ride and walk around Mt. Washington (in November, wearing open toed shoes and no jacket!), we had a lovely dinner at Bella Vista. I think that means pretty view in Italian. I think you can say that's an understatement!

Earlier in the morning we went to my favorite Pittsburgh place--the Strip District market. I pumped my own olive oil again and infused it again! I love zesting limes in the kitchen! Ellen took us on an Ikea adventure as well. You should just see the apartment after her handywork.

Sunday we made pancakes at home and Corey had to entertain his mommy while I was at work and then Monday we walked around Point Park. As you can see, it is really pretty there and you get to see lots of the bridges up close. I can't wait for Jordan to come here and see all the fabulous bridges. Corey took a neat reflection photo in Jordan's honor and we attempted to take pictures of Corey and me where my face didn't look terrible. I don't think it worked, though....

Monday, October 31, 2005

Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals

Where have I been!? I dunno, around and stuff. I know I haven't posted anyhting in a while, but I'm back now, and I'll try harder. I'm sure you're sick of hearing about Katy's fungus, so I come to you with some real excitement, BIKES!

This past weekend was the collegiate mountain bike nationals, which were being held at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, which is about 50 miles southeast of the Burgh (www.7springs.com). The last couple years it was held in New Mexico, so how could I not go since it was practically in my own back yard, right?

So on Friday I went down there to watch the Short Track race, which is basically a spectator friendly version of a mountain bike race. Penn State had 3 women and 2 men there, and they did pretty well. The women got 4th, 6th, and 24th. The men got 10th and 19th. Here are some picture I took:
Here is Jennifer (Left) and Anna after their race. As you can see it has snowed up there earlier in the week and the conditions were pretty muddy from the melting (Did someone say freeze thaw cycles?). Unfortunatel I didn't arrive until their race was almost over, so I have no action shots of the ladies.

Here's Jed before and after. The loogie shot was Katy's favorite, so I had to put that one up.

Eric mid-race. Eric used to be a bike messenger in DC for a number of years. His nickname was E-mail (can you guess why?). Now he is a part owner of a bike shop in State College called Mt. Nittany Wheelworks. Him and the other Wheelworks guys have been a big help to Freeze Thaw, giving us advice, sending customers our way, helping with a distributor, and just general encouragement.

Jed mid-race. Jed is riding on a bike that he personally designed and fabricated the rear section of. It's made of carbon fiber and is designed to flex, giving him an inch or two of suspension in the rear, which is just enough to take the edge off without the extra weight of normal full suspension bikes with their multiple pivots and shocks.

Eric finishing in 10th place here. And he only had one gear. Why, you ask? Cuz derailleurs are for failures!

Some more random shots and I'm done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Libraries, Writing

The library system through this University is so messed up. How is it that Penn State can be totally electronic and lead me to believe the rest of the world was so? I have to register for class with a piece of paper! A carbon, triplicate form!!! Can you believe it? Also, when you want to request a book from the library at another campus, you write them a letter. Then, when the book comes, they write you a letter and you go there and get it. You can't just email the library and they can't just email you when it gets there. They could spend the postage money developing an electronic system! I bet they wouldn't even have to pay student interns to make it for them. Grrrr.

Augusten Burroughs said it totally counts when you blog or email as writing. He says he does 5 hours per day of writing. I don't think I can do five just yet. I'll try to start with 2. I really want to publish a personal essay in Phoebe, which is a literary journal. I want this personal essay to be about my fungus. I wrote a rough draft and am hoping Emily (Em) Hancheck can give some help because I feel like it has a long way to go right now.

I am still a little angry with the radiator, but I think I have come to terms with it now. I go to bed earlier and just lie there thinking about things in a half awake state until my alarm actually goes off. My next goal is to get Corey to stop falling asleep on the love seat and actually spend the night in a bed where he can straighten his legs.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Radiator Battles

I can easily see this radiator problem propelling me into madness at the same rate as the drug dealers from my Slum Corps apartment. Remember when I lay awake every night planning intricate ways to make them miserable? How I signed them up for homosexual mailing lists and had tampons delivered to them? How I called the police every single night and talked about them incessantly, wishing horrible diseases on them and feeling very much the righteous martyr? This is not different!

Today, the radiator started to clang at 6:40 AM. Twenty minutes before I was due to wake up. Why oh why could it not wait twenty precious minutes? To think I was considering spending $50 on one of those ambiant alarm clocks that gently wakes you up with heat and light. Wasted money if your radiator clangs like a shipyard for hours at a time!

This morning, in my near death state, I decided I would buy a tape recorder and record the radiator clanging through the night and mail the tape to the landlord. Suzanne from next door said her radiator spits boiling water at her when she yells at it. Perhaps I could videotape the radiator as well. Can't they build a box or sound buffer around the thing? It's only the one in the bedroom that clangs. The one next to me in my office is silently, politely warming my toes as I type. I might just drag our bed through the apartment and cram it into this room. THEN the comparison to the drug dealer apartment would be complete: 2 different places where I've had to sleep with a bed in a room not 2 inches wider than the bed!

I think I have lost my mind. Corey hasn't heard the clanging yet. He also talks in his sleep and leaves bowls of soup lined up on the counter as art, so that's not saying much.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Are radiators supposed to hiss so loudly they wake you up every night? Our bedroom sounds like a ship creaking through a squall. The radiator is the sea crashing against the rocks. I think it might be louder than Corey's occaisional snoring, which I would actually prefer to the horrible hissing sound.

Speaking of Corey, my fiance, he is just so good to me I can't even stand it. Twice a day, he dons rubber gloves and helps me put cream on a disgusting and horribly contagious fungus I have growing on my entire torso. Who would do that for me? I am trying to think of something nice I can do for him. I'm never home to do anything for him. I can't even make him dinner!

I'm probably only going to take two classes this spring for several reasons. First, if I were to take three classes I would be halfway done with the program and would have no coursework for my third year. Second, if I only take two classes I would have everything totally paid for through my assistantship.

On the other hand, it might seem attractive to get my courses all done and just write my third year. But do I really want to take out thousands in loans to get some extra time to write? I don't self motivate very well anyway...

These are things I think about while the radiator hisses away. At least we aren't paying for the extra heat!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


It's autumn and I'm engaged! I have a beloved one! I took some photos of the flowers my mom sent. I took the bouquet apart and out of the crappy florist foam. Now I have small vases in different rooms to enjoy throughout the apartment. I am totally writing this to procrastinate a difficult assignment for class. It's working. I'm sure not getting it done. And the time creeps closer and closer to 1pm when I need to leave to catch my bus...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Apartment, At Long Last

Here are some pictures of the apartment. One is of the pot rack in the kitchen, another of the built in bookshelves, another of my office, and lastly Corey's office. See if you can guess which office picture is Corey's.

Rugby Mud

Here is what happens when you play rugby in the mud. The top one is blurry, but it's me and a select few of the zillion Penn State girls who were at Pumpkinfest. The bottom one is me with my new team, the Angels.


Corey proposed to me! And I said yes!!! It is all very exciting. I got home pretty late Sunday night from a rugby tournament in Philly and had an ache in my shoulder and chest and I needed to ice a lot on Monday. After a "surprise" that consisted of test driving a mini cooper!!!!! he cooked me chicken parm and then helped me ice my shoulder. Then we watched 2 hours of the Wire. I was starting to get majorly bored with the Wire so I started doing other stuff and then iced again. Then Corey said "Are you done icing yet? I have a present for you." And he came out with a potted azalea bush. I sort of knew at that moment...

Then he said "Look. There's a ring in your flowers." and he asked me to marry him. And I said Yes!!!

It's really hard taking a picture of a ring. My mom is so angry that I can't send her one, but I've tried dozens of times and it gets really blurry all the time. I will make one more attempt when I get back from work today and then I'll post the photos on the blog.

But anyway, this is mucho exciting!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Grad school is very time consuming. This week I am supposed to be going crazy doing all my work plus my work for next week, but the book I am supposed to read is boring. So I can't focus. Plus I started knitting a present for Sami, so I am distracted by that. Plus they put new Sex and the City episodes On Demand. I mean really, how is a girl supposed to concentrate?

Corey and I sat down and talked about goals a few days ago. I decided to print out our goals and put them on the fridge to inspire us, but he ripped his off and took them down. He's so sucky. Jordie will probably leave a comment that I am dorky with my fridge goals, but whatever. I'm just motivated.

For example, I applied to a really prestigious writers' colony for this summer: Hedgebrook. I am super nervous about it. My classmate Taha, who spent last summer there, thinks I have a really good chance because I want to write about women and they are into that there. I am going to apply to three other programs that are beginner centered, but I need to calm down from that application.

ALSO, I have three queries in circulation to three different magazines. I'm totally motivated! Plus, this evening I applied for an internship with the City Paper for the summer time. I think the job was for undergrads, but I'm hoping the editor will read my samples and offer me a job for the summer anyway. Just because I'm awesome.

I'm getting pretty excited for Pumpkinfest this weekend. My team is going as Vikings. Vikings! I am making a cardboard sword and Ellen mailed me the Viking hat from the Park Street basement. All I need is some fur from Jo-Ann's and I am totally set. I wish I could make us a cardboard boat to sail around in. Oh well! I guess I should focus on the rugby aspect of the tournament.

Ok, time for Sex and the City. If I'm not going to do work, I should at least enjoy myself.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Huge Nerd

So when I was tutoring last week, I noticed my student had left the price tag on his baseball hat. I said "I can't believe you spent $50 on a baseball hat! Why did you leave the tag on?" He just laughed and took off his hat and put it in his bag. This week, I was working with a group of football players and they all had the size and price stickers on their hats. I asked if this was the new thing to do and they all started laughing at me like they felt bad for me. Betsy has confirmed that I am indeed a huge nerd and that kids these days leave stickers on hats if they want to be gangsta. My one student told me, though, that the hat you "rock every day" doesn't get stickers. The stickers are just for when you go out. Who understands kids these days?

Yesterday we lost 19-5 to Detroit, which is ok since they are the defending national champs. We had a late game, so we just went on the town still dirty from our game. It was really fun to walk around the south side wearing our new matching sweat bands from Kelly E and our rugby uniforms. Lust still had blood all over her knees and Dez never did go to the emergency room for her collar bone. She just walked around with her arm ace-bandaged to her chest and had people help her drink her beer.

One guy from the men's team brought his girlfriend out. Of course she was wearing inappropriate shoes (stiletto heels? with rugby people???) and her feet hurt. So Christian gave her his flip flops and he wore the heels for a few blocks. He decided the heels would look better if he tucked his jersey all the way into his shorts and pulled them up until he had a camel toe. I'm surprised they even let us into the bars we went to. It's really nice to feel at home with a new crowd of hoodlums again. They are really pressuring me to coach the high school girls this spring. Apparently, they will have to close down the north side team if they don't find a coach. I hate this pressure! What should I do????

Monday, September 19, 2005

Stupid Cold Part 2

Tutoring athletes with clogged ears is quite an unusual experience. The students have low reading esteem and mumble and I spent about 2.5 hours saying "WHAT????" and then they had to yell out the answers they already felt self-consious about saying. What a dilemma!

Today I had to drag my groggy ass to the office to work on gerontology papers. It was actually pretty interesting today, so it kept my mind off my throbbing ears. People kept looking at me like I had plague when I was blowing my nose on the bus. I guess it is pretty upsetting to be squeezed into a confined space with a nose blower.

So Friday night I was talking to a girl in my program who spent last summer living on an island off the coast of Washington. She was there as a writer-in-residence and totally thinks I have a chance at being accepted for this coming summer. The application deadline is October 1, so I have to get in gear if I want to apply. Imagine! Living on an island in a private hut being paid to write and having my meals delivered to my door! And all the meals come from the organic garden on the island.

I'm going to also apply to 3 other summer residencies with later deadlines, but this one definitely sounds the most exciting. From my newfound knowledge of graduate school, I know that winning a residency is a major, major honor for your CV. Hopefully my head will clear out and I can work on my application for the next 11 days.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Stupid Cold!

I have a horrible cold again. I hate when I get these abominable sinus disasters that fill my entire head with congestion. I can't hear people, I have PND, I can't breathe or sleep! Obviously I decided to play rugby in the rain yesterday, which totally was not fun. I kept gagging on my mouth guard and had tissues in my pocket. I think I snotted on the Cleaveland hooker, though, so that was cool.

Today, Freya and JP and I went to check out the local Unitarian church at Jordan Lev's advice. I haven't made a decision about it. They didn't invoke any god or higher power at all. I didn't really find inspiration from the service. We read some affirmations declaring equal human rights and the spirit of love and peace. That's a pretty cool message to affirm weekly. There was a "babtism" of sorts for an adopted baby girl. In the Unitarian version, the parents and "godparents" vow to raise the child to be diverse and loving and welcoming rather than to raise the child to be spiritual.

But then the sermon was a recap of the church budget. I just don't know. I think Freya and I will go again next week to see if we like it better on the second try. On one hand it's awesome to be in a room of people that share the same political beliefs and overall attitude of equal rights. On the other, some of the readings were very new-agey and I had to sit and listen to a buget recap for a half hour. I should at least rest assured that these people perform interfaith wedding ceremonies as well as civil unions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rainy Day in Steel City

Well Corey has been gone again for almost a week. Luckily, I deposited him at the train station on one of my two 9-9 days and haven't had the chance to miss him too much. Yesterday I got nostalgic and hungry and made beef stew in the crock pot despite almost 90 degree temperatures. I should have waited until today because it's rainy and gross outside.

I have finally gotten my tutoring schedule straightened out. As you can imagine, I was starting to get very antsy not knowing when I needed to work until the day before, hence several 12 hour days per week with meetings and class, etc. I now have to be on campus for a few hours every day, but have a much more even schedule. I don't know why I thought it was a better idea to cram 15 things into 2 days per week rather than space it out. I'll still have a large portion of each day at home to write.

I've been meeting with several professors to discuss my writing project. I have decided to write profiles of awesome women rugby players I've met--Pam Gouwes who started women's rugby in South Africa, Dinanne Schnapp who is the best firefighter in San Francisco, Lois Bukowski and Grace Gavin who ref men's games and are both highly ranked international referees...the list goes on for days.

I have discovered that the key to getting money from the University is to sit in Professor's offices and chat with them regularly. They pretty much need you to just ask for the dough and they will remember to mention you at budget meetings, or so they say. The director of the MFA program was pretty impressed that I had been proactive in seeking out funding with the old people journal. Apparently the rest of the people who were not funded this year just sit around and bitch about it.

I have about an hour before I have to leave to tutor the football players. The tutoring is so intensely difficult that I have to steel myself way in advance for what I know will be three hours of massive concentration. Imagine how hard it is on their end! Thankfully, I can unwind at a department barbeque later tonight and then I have a match tomorrow! Yay rugby!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Irish Festival

Yesterday I had my first game with the Angels. We dominated Buffalo 38-12 and it felt pretty good. Their front row weighed 600 pounds, so scrumming was painfully awful, but it was really good to be playing rugby again. Afterward we played flip cup with the other team for hours before heading out to the Pittsburgh Irish festival down by the river. There were all these bands playing and vendors selling Utilikilts (khaki kilts with cargo pockets. tres cool!) and other Celtic goods.

Gaelic Storm were the headliners and they were fantastic! Their music was really, really fun and full of energy. It was so awesome to be there with my team, all of us dancing together. The men's team came along, too, and I really like that this team hangs out so much with the men's team. In Morris, I couldn't even name three players on the men's side, but here they are my friends.

Jackie and her boyfriend Sunshine gave me a ride home and I found out they live really near me. I'll be able to carpool to practice with them!

Corey came to watch my game but was so disinterested in Irish music that he wouldn't come to the festival. Now my whole team thinks he's a party pooper cause he stayed home to watch Entourage. I guess he IS a party pooper...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Who Knew???

So I guess it didn't actually occur to me that I have to write a book to complete this program. Needless to say, I am quickly discovering that they weren't kidding. I just now returned home from a 2 hour meeting detailing all my dealines for the next three years. I had to, right this evening, on the spot, in front of everyone, select a reading committee based on my one drunken meeting with the four writing professors. Luckily, my selected committee chair is going on leave starting tomorrow. Her wildly successful novel just went into paperback and she is on a book signing tour. Not at all intimidating to someone who has no clue where to even begin!

Maybe if I quietly complete all my coursework and attend all the lecture series and acquire grant money to travel across the country, an idea will come to me and Corey will write my novel for me one evening while I watch Sex and the City reruns.

Or maybe they will count blogging as a new genre and I will revolutionize the MFA program and never even need to revise my work.

I need to go to bed now because I have meetings and/or class from 9 until 9 tomorrow. If you think it's a fun and stress free idea to cram your entire week's worth of work and class into two days, you are DEAD WRONG!!!!! I should have just sucked it up and spread things throughout the week.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Best Pittsburgh Weekend Ever!

Shelbie came to visit this weekend! She showed me some awesome sights in the city so far. Saturday morning, we went to the markets in the Strip District. I bought garlic so fresh it still had stems as well as basil and meats. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. is an awesome Italian market where you can bottle your own olive oil if you want! You can bring your own or use their gallon glass jugs and fill your oil from a huge cask. There were cheese samples and all the amazing foods you could feast on.

We ate biscotti and cheese dip and grilled fish. You can catch your own fish in Wholey's Meat Market or buy living sculptures made from moss at the craft stores. The strip district is a fantastic place and I am glad to have it in my city.

After that, we walked around Point Park and watched some of the Pirates/Cubs game on the jumbo-tron across the river. All the boats line up outside the field and wait to catch home runs! We could also catch a view of the crowds filing in to the football stadium for the Pitt/Notre Dame game.

THEN we did the coolest thing of the whole weekend and ate at the Church Brew Works. An enormous, stained glass window endowed church has been remodelled into a microbrewery. They have a fantastic menu, a living hops garden, and a golden brew works in lieu of the alter. You eat your meal sitting in the pews while the sun streams through the stained glass apostles. We enjoyed Pittsburgh perogies, which are ground kobe beef, onions, blue cheese in a mushroom and red pepper sauce. YUM! And I drank pipe organ pale ale. Anyone who comes here needs to eat at this place.

We ended the fun at a series of cool bars in the south side, including a stop to eat cheese steaks at a place with doors all over the walls and ceilings as well as a stop at the rugby bar owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Rugby Football club. Today, we are off for some pancakes and a visit to the Natural History museum to see the bog people.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I think Jordan should get his own blog if he has so many birthday stories to share.

A Grad Student At Last

Before I get into my exciting news of graduate school, I want to register my ire that a Comcast van is most definitely parked outside my building, paying a visit to another customer within. Why, then, was I told nobody could come to my building until September 22 to work on my cable? If indeed it takes only 5 minutes for them to switch on the cable in the bedroom, surely he could pop next door from Ruth's apartment and turn mine on for me?

At any rate, I started classes this week. While the week was a hectic zoo full of administrative disasters, I definitely enjoy being back in the academic game. My first course is called Narratives of Teaching and Learning. It was so good to be analyzing literature again! The course involves reading memoirs of teaching, both successes and failures. We discussed how educators are typically demonized or deified in media today and the instructor sought a middle ground in the reading list. I love this course.

My other two classes are ok, but I can definitely tell the Teaching Narratives course will be my favorite.

I am definitely overwhelmed and excited with the upcoming literature conference at Pitt. Learn more about it here. It's called 412. Michael Ondaatje is coming to speak! And Mary Karr! Also, editors from major national publications (New Yorker!!) as well as local Pittsburgh media will be on site to speak with nonfiction students. As you can imagine, the New Yorker will meet me and immediately fire Susan Orlean once they see how much more interesting my writing is. You just wait.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Techno Girl

I am so cool. I totally hooked up our wireless router and a wireless card to my laptop. I can make this entry in the living room if I want to. Or the kitchen or closet for that matter! Corey told me I would never be able to figure it out and that I would swear and be angry for hours. Really, my only snafu was not realizing the modem was on standby. 5 minutes installation, tops!

Today I had to go to the financial services building to tell them my address. Despite the Pitt website's encouragement of these visits, you are actually not allowed to change your address regarding tuition refunds. Needless to say, my mother will be receiving and depositing a rather large check for me any time now. The woman at the desk was very, very nice even though a line of confused undergrads wrapped around the building. I showed her the incorrect website and she actually walked it to the webmaster with me in tow so I could see it go on the pile of things to fix.

Whilst in line, I met Patsy from my program. I saw she was reading Faith Adiele's book and asked whether she was in the mfa program and she is! Another new friend for Katy! Also, Patsy and I live 2 blocks away from one another and have the exact same course schedule this semester. I taught her how to buy her lit books on eBay and she taught me how to navigate the student center. What a trade!

I need to go watch some more Deadwood on demand now. I'm totally hooked on that show despite all the eff words!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Alumni Weekend

Just got back from Penn State, where I enjoyed a thorough physical beating from the undergraduate team. The alumni win every year, but that's just because three or four current Eagles steal the show and burn past the freshmen. Those kiddos are good! I am so proud of that program. I also am beginning to feel old since the freshmen are now waaaayyyy younger than Betsy and include one former high school girl I used to coach!

The banquet Saturday night was nice. I'm really glad I paid $35 for a dried chicken breast and some green beans. I just have to remind myself that it's a fundraiser and I can cook myself good food anytime I want.

Corey and his friends seem impressed with my fruit tart efforts. Which is good because I put in many hours perfecting that recipe during my week of boredom.

I didn't really get to see Corey all that much since he was working so hard. And then all the times I did see him, one of the two of us was way too unsober to spend any quality time. We did remember to give Jordan a drunken rendition of Happy Birthday, though!

Corey was pretty excited that one of my former teammates bought a bike from Freeze Thaw, so he got to chat about bikes with Maggie instead of just sitting like a knot on the wood bench while I reminisced with Jim and Susan.

Also, Jenny Lui brought me a Chinese pointy hat from CHINA!!! I have wanted one my entire life and now I own one! No more sun in these eyes! Amber and I have matching ones that we wore all morning until the match. I had to be reminded to take mine off when I went on the field.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Just when I think it's safe to breathe again and not worry about things, something always pops up to throw a wrench in my plans. I just found out that even though my assistantship is only half time, my commitment prohibits me from working any other jobs through the university. So I had to go quit my tutoring job before I even started! This is so depressing. My options are basically to take out loans or go work at a grocery store.

And then Corey reminded me that I am thisclose to being certified to substitute teach in the public schools. Great idea! Except the mandatory orientation is during my only day of class this week... I called them and they are trying to think of a solution.

On top of this worry and the neverending 8am visits from Comcast, I am right back on the top of the stress pile I thought I had eliminated.

I decided to soothe my worries with some of the yummy beer I bought when Emily Hancheck came to visit. Sweaty Betty sure is delicious! It might even be better than Fat Tire, but don't tell Corey. The young folk of the building had a potluck dinner last night, so that was really fun.

I learned all about how you know if you have a cyst on your butt and thousands of different ways to torment cats. I really enjoy knowing people who are interested in butt cysts. Despite the snafus, the butt cyst conversation really reaffirmed my notion that this is a good place to be.

Now I am off to be oriented with the other grad students! Free pizza!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Apple Tarts

Well, I have decided I am not cut out for unemployment. This has gone way beyond vacation, considering I've actually been on vacation since early July. It's 1130 am and I've already made stuffed peppers and an apple pie. FROM SCRATCH! I met the people in my department last night and have nothing on my agenda except rugby practice this week, so baking it is.

I actually believe I have watched everything on Comcast's On Demand.

Corey says he is having a much more productive week. Single Speed Worlds were in State College, so that brought a lot of business to Freeze Thaw. They are pretty backed up with orders, which is really awesome, but tiring and stressful for them I guess. How great is it that they made a business and it's doing so well!?!

I'll probably bake them another apple pie for when I go there on Friday since I have nothing else to do.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Well, I've been sans Corey for 3 days. This is the longest we've been apart for months! It's just so strange not to be 6 inches away from him in the Nissan all day... It's hard to motivate myself to do things when I'm by myself and don't have a social network just yet. Or a job to do.

Today I went to the Carnegie Science Center to play with the science stuff and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the Omnimax. I felt like I would fall down the theater seats and got very dizzy from the movie. I also felt like my face was too close to everything. It made the movie much larger than anything I could have imagined. It was pretty incredible. I can't wait to watch Narnia and Harry Potter in there.

I wanted desperately not to get lost on the way home, but I just couldn't find route 28. By accident, I went back over the river. So I drove around downtown. It was really pretty. I wished I had come there by bus so I could walk around and enjoy the city and the river front and the parks. Instead, I drove in circles and found myself in the Strip at the markets. They were closed, but now I know where they are for when I want fresh vegetables and beef. I also found our Penske truck, still parked on the curb where we left it 10 days ago. Strange..

Tomorrow I am going to force myself to be productive. I am going to explore the library and find garlic bulbs in this city if it kills me!

Making Friends

Well, we are settled in now. We still have a huge cable running from my office through the living room because Comcast couldn't figure out how to hook up the cable in the other room, but other than that we are set.

Corey is in State College this week working in Freeze Thaw. He is actually there for like 13 days, so I am left on my own to make friends. I'm doing a pretty good job of that. Wednesday night I went out with some other MFA people and learned a lot about surviving the program. Thurday I had rugby again and last night Emily Hancheck came to visit and we went to a famous beer place.

Today, Freya, JP, and Leeann from upstairs invited me to a party and I met a bunch of really cool people. They are having dinner parties and housewarming parties, and go see Harry Potter movies and knit. I'm really excited to be making friends with them.

I got a job tutoring athletes for the athletic academic services department. I'm am the most excited about this because it will really help my chances to be a TA next year. Plus I met even more cool people who are tutors! I am meeting people all over the place. Now the question is will Corey make an outgoing leap and make new friends?

Monday, August 15, 2005


I just found out I got an assistantship with the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. I will be their Editorial Assistant. So, despite my fervent wish to leave publishing to pursue actual writing, it appears as though I will continue to work in publishing a bit longer. It's paying for grad school, so I can copyedit a few articles as I go! I am super excited about this as well as the chance to substitute teach in local schools to earn some more bucks.

Corey is still working for Sparta Cycling and will continue at least until after the Univest Grand Prix. He is also working away at his bike business. He'll look for a real job in October. Until then, we are eating lots of beans and rice and holding back on the wild, expensive parites we usually go to...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Move-In Day

We moved in on Friday and man was it hot and HUMID! Rented a 16' Penske truck on Thursday and moved out of Bloomfield, which was surprisingly easy despite Ayo showing up to help late, after most of the heavy stuff was loaded (Thanks Ayo!). We stayed the night in Lebanon and then got to the Burgh around 2:30 and got to work, once again without any help.

You better believe that one of the first things we did was hook up the A/C in our bedroom so we could take breaks in there and cool off. It was so bad that you could feel the sweat pouring out of you and every other trip upstairs we'd rip off a paper towel and mop ourselves up. Katy was probably on the verge of heat stroke for a while too and brought the saying 'boy is my face red' to a whole new level! Not only is our apartment on the second floor, but the front door to the building is up 3 sets of stairs, so I guess you could say we got a good workout.

The Building

So the minute I saw this building on the Internet, I knew I had to live in it. It didn't take all that much convincing to make Corey feel the same way. It's an old Victorianesque mansion divided into 10 apartments and a penthouse. Our apartment is on the second floor. They all have fireplaces with mantles and built in book cases. As you can imagine, built in book cases are a huge plus. We also have ginormous window boxes in which I will plant vegetables, inspired by Jordan's roommate Amy.

Our kitchen was clearly not designed by a chef and has only one drawer and limited cupboard space. I had to improvise ways to store all my appliances and Corey is hanging a pot rack for me. I have all my spices crammed into one shelf! They are making the dishes smell like oregano and tumeric. Three walls of the kitchen are windows, one wall of which looks right into our neighbors' apartment. Last night we watched Suzanne and Kurt eat some dinner. It was kind of awkward. Like do we say hi while Suzanne empties the dishwasher? This morning over cereal, Kurt and I pretended we didn't see one another reading at our tables.

The dining room is going to be my office. The buttery yellow walls will hopefully inspire some good writing while I'm in school. Corey gets the smaller bedroom as a bike workshop and the big bedroom is our room. His upside down chair got prime location in the living room where we will hopefully have cable sometime soon.

Basically all the apartments in the building are really unique and interesting. Some have stained glass windows and window seats with storage. Others have cool tiles and are painted really neat. There are two other young couples in the building we met so far in addition to 2 old ladies and 2 young women who are all really nice and helpful. Everyone is quick to offer cold water and phone book help to us as we get acquainted and move in.

The neighborhood is pretty neat. I like Pittsburgh better than NJ already because there are street signs. I haven't been lost once and I went to like 5 different places already!