Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I'm getting married in four days. Through many talks with the rabbi, photographer, caterer, and dj, this fact has not really sunk in. I've been preoccupied with illness and the impending arrival of everyone I love in one giant place. Today, after I picked my sister and her family at the airport, a strange thing happened.

We were tucking my nephew safely into his child seat and zooming onto the rush-hour traffic. Richard, my brother-in-law, had to make a phone call to his commodities broker and he said "I'm in Philadelphia...Katy is getting married this Sunday." Suddenly, this intensely strange feeling washed over me. Like I had to pee or was covered in poison ivy.

It's really happening. Somebody has agreed to spend a lifetime with me and they are going to start doing it this Sunday. For real.

In junior high, I would lie awake nearly friendless, greasy haired, pimply skinned. I would suck on my bright green schwartz expander and peer through my enormous glasses and pray that someday, someone would realize that I am not heinous. Somewhere in the universe, someone would appreciate me for all my many oddities. I stuck on a crocheted sweater vest over a knitted sweater and went into the world praying, but never knowing for certain, that my yang was roaming the earth.

But I found him somehow. And he doesn't care that I make up weird songs or make strange faces or even that I sometimes don't shower after rugby practice before I climb into bed. He rubs my back when I freak out and calls me out when I act like a hypocrite. Best of all, he sits on the sofa and eats ice cream straight from the carton and watches The Real World with me on my laptop.

And now, he is going to marry me.

This is going to be awesome.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Lurk in Lobbies

My Mac battery, for those who haven't heard me brag about this, lasts up to five hours if I dim the back light on my fabulous machine and don't watch videos. This means I have five glorious hours of lurking available to me if I can find an open WiFi signal.

As I was driving to the "office" (grocery store...) today, it occurred to me that when I was in Canada for the World Cup I had great success in lobbies of hotels and fancy buildings. I decided to try that vein. I had two unsuccessful bouts at golf courses before I found yet another grocery store with open WiFi.

I wasn't having much luck from my parking space tucked between SUVs. My brother-elect told me I should try another cubicle in the office building, but I decided to brave the inside of the shop. Equipped with my debit card (in case someone demanded I buy something) and my lovely laptop, I unearthed this mecca:

Look at the artwork! And plush armchairs! And the fireplace! I'm sitting on an armchair with my shoes off in lotus pose, pretending I'm in my own home as I watch children spill lettuce on the floor in the produce section just beyond the love seat.

I love technology.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I'm an internet addict. I am writing this from a slouched position in the driver's seat of my Mazda. I have the seat rolled all the way back to allow space between my legs and the steering wheel and I am sitting parked in front of someone's house somewhere in Limerick, PA. I might even be lost.

I'm supposed to be stretched out at the pool at the farm, getting ready for the wedding and working on my manuscript. That was the big plan. Peace, quiet, countryside, no internet. The pages were going to pour forth from my fingers. But I just can't deal with a lack of internet!

I started driving around in a rainstorm yesterday, seeking open WiFi. I found some at the grocery store. I'm not sure why they offer this great service. The store doesn't even have a seating area. I'm not going to complain, though. It's like I have a cozy little air conditioned office with a nice leather seat.

I'm even fielding calls on my cell phone.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll do once the sun is low enough that it's shining in my eyes. I suppose I'll have to head back home.

Right now, I'm busy loading all the web pages I can, opening each page of individually so that when I get back to the farm house I'll still be able to pretend I'm in contact with the world.

I've been sitting here in the car for 3 hours now...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why Am I Here?

I was on the phone with my boss the other night because she's awesome and I love talking to her. She's retiring when I graduate (not because of that, but coincidentally) and offered me her job. I paused for a moment, caught my breath, and told her no thank you.

This is a lot to think about. On one hand, I came here to write. This is the mid-point of a mountain I decided to climb when I quit my publishing job in corporate hell to work for a rugby magazine on the Upper West Side. In the moment where my bitch-ass project manager refused to help me with a task, telling me it should be "old hat" by now and I discovered my co-workers were talking smack about me on the internet I had this wave of clarity: this is not the life I want.

And so I started doing things I wanted, even if they weren't safe or lucrative. I wore rugby shorts to work every day. I took off for three weeks to drive across the country. I picked up Corky and we moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school so I could write. I want to write. I want to immerse myself in others' lives and spend my days learning interesting things like this or this. It's what I want from the world.

On the other hand, I love tutoring those students. The only jobs I've held for over a year were my four years' tutoring at Penn State and my now three years tutoring here. The only bosses I've had who weren't mad hatters in a bad way were writing center directors. The people I turn to for advice in life are my current and first boss. Also, this job is a university job, with university benefits and a lovely salary. When I close my eyes, I can imagine myself with gray hair sitting behind a desk in the writing center giving high five to a student who just earned a great grade and that image makes me smile. But will it be enough to make up for the lifetime of adventure I might lose?

I think writing centers will always be around for me somewhere. I am going to be a starving artist.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Big Bites!

Place cards! Piles and piles of them are done and tomorrow team bridesmaid will spruce them up. My aunt and sister and cousin did ALL of them. (I'm left handed and am unable to help...darned ink smears all over my hand.)

You know what this means? I can breathe deeply and shrink my shoulders a little. Perhaps enjoy life? I'm going to celebrate by watching American Idol and then catching up on all the episodes of Inferno 3 and Real World Denver!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lost Control

I have lost all control of my faculties. Wedding/home purchase stress has driven me to madness. I thought the past two weeks of not having daily employment and class would enable me to relax, but no. I thought the best birthday-ette weekend ever (which involved a safe journey through rugby and a bar tour which included out-dancing another bride, tackling wee little Jack and POLE DANCING) would let me unwind, but no.

Then, at the very least, I thought a journey to Zenith for a mind blowing all you can eat vegetarian buffet (including vegan chocolate cakes!!!) would ease my suffering. Alas, no.

Corey, bless his soul, agreed to journey to Dozen to pick up my pre-paid mothers' day cupcake order before I left town. I was leaving Pittsburgh for the last time as a single gal, journeying eastward with just my cupcakes and my trousseau. It was supposed to be stoic with some sort of Van Morrison music playing in the background as the sun set...but Dozen effed up the order! Instead of handing Corey eight delicious cupcakes, they slid him a box of four. On an ordinary day, I would simply call and point out the order and ask for my card to be reimbursed, after gushing again how much I love, love their products. "See you tomorrow and I'll buy some more cupcakes," I would say in my prior life.

Instead, I started screaming and sat on the fouton as snot dripped down my face. "This is a disaster!" I wailed, as Corey rubbed my back in shock. "How could this happen???" My sister stood frozen by the fireplace, not quite sure what to do about a grownup having such a tantrum. I bawled about traffic and a ruined holiday and all my crushed ambitions of sweeping into the backyard with a bundle of cupcakes.

It's like I can see myself removed from my body. I seem to float above my stressing self and watch the wretched being sobbing over cupcakes and think "Well, she sucks." I see the people around me wondering how they could have possibly mistaken me for a sane adult. I want to know when I will regain my ability to handle problems. Where have my troubleshooting skills gone? Where is my resourcefulness? Who have I become?

If I had any clue there was a bridezilla lurking inside, I would have for sure eloped and just gone on an extended backpacking trip to Peru with my husband. Instead, I'll have a glorious wedding and probably spend the entire day curled in the fetal position underneath a table, drinking Jim Beam from a shoe.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pittsburgh Birthdays

I love my birthday in this city. The weather is amazing, the air is warm, and the trees are all green and pink. Each year we've lived here so far (two now!) we've gone to a baseball game Friday night, played/watched some splendid rugby on Saturday, and then had a grand social with the Angels.

So far, this is my best weekend ever. Last night, our seats were in College Cove, right along the third baseline. We had free t-shirts and umbrellas, coupons for free hot dogs and pretzels and beer, and the most amazing view of the river glowing pink and orange in the setting sun. We watched dragon boaters paddle past, the Braves hit several home runs out of the park and nearly into the waiting booze cruises below. It was incredible. Pittsburgh is really the most beautiful city I've ever lived in. Once it was dark, the stadium and bridges are lit with blue accents and the lights from the incline make Mt. Washington's so sappily perfect here in May.

Perhaps my favorite part was that I drove over the 16th street bridge and parked along the bike trail, then rode my bike to the stadium and met Corey en route from his two-wheeled commute. After the game, when he had our umbrellas in his messenger bag, we pretended he was delivering architect sketches and drove home with zero traffic.

Now, let's cross our fingers that I come out of my game unscathed and don't break anything out on the town this evening.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Would You Mind Terribly If I...

1. Brought my child's new "friend" to the wedding?
2. Brought my father-in-law to the wedding?
3. Waited until three weeks past the RSVP date to send in my little card?
4. Brought my children to your adults-only soirée?

YES!!!! Yes, I would mind if you completely disregarded the fact that Corey and I agonized over who to invite, eliminated people we play rugby or ride bikes with on a daily basis to accommodate the 100+ relatives in our enormous families. Nevermind that we had to exclude some people's partners in order to be able to include more people we are close with. Sure, why not bring a bunch of people I never met to my wedding. We'll just carve out an extra table for you and your special add ons. Then, later, when I show photos to my teammates and they say, "Oh! Who is that?" I can tell them, "That's blanky blank's new friend! Isn't that nice that he came to the wedding? Now what was his name..."

Also, let's deliberately make the bride's life as difficult as possible and give her the least amount of time to create a seating chart which includes these kling-ons whom she has not met.

Why on earth would I possibly want to celebrate my marriage to Corey with people I've not met? Why do people think it's ok to pencil in additional names on their response cards? (Some people did indeed telephone to say they were actually quite seriously involved in a relationship. Phoning is always so much better than just taking it upon yourself to write in a name!)

My response to all these stress-makers is this: Would you mind if I came over to your house uninvited at the last minute after you already told a close friend she could not come and already told your cousin her children were not invited? Of course you would mind.

Would you mind terribly if I wrote a book about wedding manners that included the phrase: respond before the RSVP date using only the names of the persons on the invitation or the bride will bite her thumb at you FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Plumbing Inspection

I stand in the basement of the house with our realtor, the plumber, and his helper. They are dripping in sweat, angrily forcing an "electric eel" through the sewer lines of our new home. Something has gone wrong and they stop the machines.

Plumber: Well this isn't good. (He pulls out the eel. It is dripping in brown goo. I am scared and grossed out and fascinated.) Look here.
Me: I'm not sure I want to look closely.
Plumber: Oh, no. This isn't poop! It's mud! Your floor drain has corroded away and that's flowing straight into the ground. You're gonna wanna get that replaced.

They decide to inspect the lines via the main sewer line. There is more grunting, sweating, iron dust from the eel flies through the air as the thing grinds through the pipes.

Plumber: Something's in there!
Me: What could it be?? (I am fascinated. I secretly hope it's a cat or other animal...)
Plumber: Use your imagination, man. Anything in the world.
Me: What's an example of the weirdest thing you ever found?
Plumber's assistant: (screaming from his position wedged between the pipe and the Pittsburgh potty) UNDERWEAR! BOY'S UNDERWEAR!
Plumber: I can't say. I'd rather not say.
Me: I'm a writer, man. Don't hold back.
Plumber: Well, this one time I was snaking a line in someone's back yard and their kid was watching me real close, like. He was very interested and I'm thinking 'now what the hell did this kid flush?' Their line was blocked good, I'll tell you what. I pull my line out and on the end of it is a ball of rubbers this big. (He holds his hands to indicate baseball size) I told the kid 'you got a 15 minute head start and then I have to tell your mom. She's paying me to tell her what happened here, man.'
Me: I thought maybe you were gonna say a skeleton.
Plumber: Well usually when it's an animal you just get fur. The rest of it, or human parts, don't last too long down there. I didn't even think to say animals. That's so common. Animals and tampons is what we see day to day.

He has found the nature of the clog and the men pull with a mighty heave. The end of the eel comes zooming from the pipe. I know it is going to rocket through the air and splash me and my realtor. I move, but do not think to yell "duck!" as goop splitzes her manicure and pretty shoes. I play rugby. I don't really care. I want to know what's on the eel!

Plumber: DUDE! You splashed the ladies! What's on your eel there?
Me: Is it condoms????
Plumber: No, ma'am. What you got here is a big wad of dryer sheets. You know. Like fabric softener.

He resnakes the line after removing the blockage and, apart from a nonfunctional floor drain, my house has some of the best pipes in Pittsburgh.

Do Over

After my bachellorette bar tour in my hometown, I dragged my bag to Baltimore to play rugby. It wasn't pretty. It was made less pretty by a raw rookie referee who, during a game against host Chesapeake, awarded the Ospreys a do-over. Yes. That's right. They effed up a lineout and he blew the whistle and said "Let's do that again." A do over. In rugby!

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, there are few substitutions, no timeouts, no bocking, and certainly no do-overs. In the next game, when Pittsburgh's men's team was playing, they were also awarded a do-over. I don't approve of negative cheering, but our entire team roared "DO OVER! WOOOOOOOO!" We just couldn't help it. The idea was so preposterous.

How often in life do we all wish we could get a do-over? I wouldn't have chosen to buy a house, write a manuscript, and plan a wedding simultaneously. Perhaps I can get a do-over for the past five months. I wouldn't have yelled at my mom this weekend. I wouldn't have stuck my big foot in my mouth so many times recently.

Where's my ref? I wish that sometimes, off the field, I could look up to a big whistle blower and sigh in relief at the chance for a do-over. On the field is a different story of course. Just give a penalty.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


After making an offer on a house, the buyer must suffer a three + hour process called a home inspection. Our home inspector is a man I'll call Dwight. Anyone who has enjoyed the hit program The Office can now imagine this man.

When we pulled up in the morning, Dwight was standing in the street. He had rolled up in a Jeep Cherokee covered in American flags. It looked like he was tailgaiting. They were the kind that attach to the windows. Like Penn State flags. Then, he had scads of NRA bumper stickers, an NRA license plate holder, and animal skin seat covers inside his car, which he called a vehicle. He was standing on the sidewalk staring at our roof through hunting binoculars and when we walked up to him, he whispered "I would say we either need to replace those chimneys, or hang a sign that says 'Danger! Hard Hat area!'"

My heart sank. Our golden egg of a home was a shit box. But then, in the first of many times Dwight would toy with my emotions, he informed us that the roof was "superior." In the next three hours, I would constantly feel we bought the best house in the universe, only to moments later discover it was a hut not befitting a yeti. Back and forth my emotions went, as I learned the plank style roof was "better than" and then saw that our plaster was cracked and the sidewalk was "near the end of it's lifespan." I tried to meet Corey's eye in the hallway when I heard a squeaking sound, like many rats running through the carpet or a gerbil on a wheel.

Dwight looked at my face. "Not. To. Worry! That's just my tool belt squeaking. Whoah ho!" Dwight's flashlight, measuring tape, level, and many electronic devices dangled from squeaky clips on his toolbelt. Dwight meant business.

By the end of the inspection, I felt good about our property. Our water pressure was "lower than" at a reading of 42, but we have a water pressure regulator, which is "better than." There might be a bit of moisture in the walls right now, but our furnace is the best in the country and "absolutely bonus." Dwight feels our house is overbuilt, which means a "bushel full of money couldn't buy such quality construction."

So that's fantastic! Apart from a crumbling chimney and an old sidewalk, our house is good to go. We might just pull this off! Corey and Katy could be, within the next month, homeowners!

Club Foot

Well, Betsy finally went to the doctor. Her big arguments for not going were, first, that it takes too long at the doctor. She has finals for god's sake! She can't waste time in the ER!! Also, of course, her ankle is fine, so why should she go?

Lo and behold, the wait wasn't actually bad in the ER. She was just phoning my mom to tell her they put her in a room almost immediately (perhaps the sight of her enormously grotesque and deformed ankle moved them to action) when they towed her away for x-rays.

She isn't broken. Just has a bad sprain. She keeps saying that it's getting better. Looks better to me...
This whole thing is reminiscent of the time we were all at my family's cabin in Welsboro hiking. Betsy was doing some sort of chicken dance and fell and injured herself. I was without health insurance at the time and quite shaken up as Corey had to carry her up the hill and out of the forest. We took her back inside the cabin and iced her ankle with the best solution we could find--a giant plastic penis some jokester in my extended family had hidden in the cabin. We left it in the freezer for a bit and held it to my sister's foot as she wailed about the injustice in the world.