Never Forget: The Feelings From Small Town America

So today is the 18th anniversary of the largest terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor, on American soil. September 11th is an interestingly sad day for a lot of people, including myself.

I had just turned 7 mere days prior, and my mom and I lived a little over 50 miles from what I consider the more forgotten event that day: the interception and crash of Flight 93 in the fields of Shanksville, PA.

Talking with my mom last night about this, she said that it was a huge amount of weight on her shoulders, trying to not only grasp the events themselves, but how to explain to, let alone what to show, her 7 year old daughter.

This is where I want to share my short story of that day, and how reflecting back on that horrible day, has been for me, now that I’m in my mid 20s.

My mom was going to college at the time, and I was obviously in elementary school. I recall going over my spelling words for the test that week, and looking out the window, seeing a plane. I can’t speak to if that was the plane that went down or not.

My memory jumps to having one of my teachers saying that my mom was on the phone, wanting to talk to me. She told me, that her classes were cancelled (at this time, the twin towers had been struck), so she’d be home, to get me from school that day, and I know she didn’t tell me much other than it wasn’t personal, but it was a big deal.

From there, I recall walking in the front door, and my mom left the news on, and I saw a recap of one of the towers being struck. I don’t remember having the teacher tell us anything, assuming the school thought best it’d be left to the parents to express the new found horror.

I don’t remember how my mom explained it to me, about anything that was going on, and if she even mentioned all 3 locations that got hit. I do recall watching the news for a brief while, then I went into my room to play and probably do whatever school stuff I needed to do.

When I walked in the house, and saw the plane hit one of the towers, something in me knew the weight of what I was seeing, without knowing much. I still feel that type of heavy chest weight, that I felt that day, reflecting.

Obviously as I’ve gotten older, I figured out what all went down that terrible morning.

Almost a decade later, my dad took me to go see the still makeshift flight 93 memorial, where there was victims’ licence plates, favorite shirts, letters, flowers, you name it, all pegged to a section of chain link fence.

Twelve years later, right after my high school graduation, my maternal grandparents, mom, and I visited the same memorial, but now it was pretty close to being finished.

Eighteen years later, I live even closer to that saddening location than I did when I was a child.

I didn’t lose anyone that day. I don’t personally know anyone who lost someone that day. But the slash in the heart of this “middle of nowhere” community has hurt ever since.

Now we have people, full legal adults, who were brought into this world, in the midst of such a disgusting day.

You can say what you want about the administration that was, at that time, but there was nothing like America on 9/12.

My mom adores (at least I think she still does) the Gather Vocal Band. They did their cover of “God Bless the USA” and that will always stick to me, when I think of that time in our nation’s history.

I’ll end on this: I think we need a little less 9/11 and a little more 9/12 feelings back.

Book Reads of 2019: Quarter 2

To continue on from last quarter’s round up of what I’ve been reading (instead of individual book reviews, or monthly book reviews/lists, outside of series), here’s my list! I’ll link all reviews of series I’ve read, and any other reviews of books, if I’ve done such things (yes, I type this up as I read each book).

I hope my lists of books help inspire your reads, either by you literally reading some of what I’ve read, or searching the books, and finding suggested reads, from my reads!

Here’s my formal list for April-June:

Never Split the Difference
Red Queen
The Gods of Guilt
The Beautiful Brain
The Alice Network
Harry Potter Series (Books 1-7, if we’re counting)
Quititch Through the Ages
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindlewald
More Bedtime Stories for Cynics
The Mystery of Alice
I’m fine, and Neither are You
The Darkwater Bride
Elisabeth II: Life of a Monarch
The Dead Drink First
Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues
The Great Gatsby
A Proper Pursuit
Anxious, Depressed, and Joyful

If we’re counting, I’m up to 51 books so far. 51 FREAKING BOOKS! I am so stoked, proud, and half shocked of myself! So many books, adventures, and inspiration. I didn’t initially make even 50 books this year a goal, let alone with the rate I’m going, close to 100 (maybe even more, assuming I make a dent in my physical library/kindle non-audio library).

I announced on my Facebook page (go and like it, if you haven’t already!) my Quarter 3 book series, and the fact that I’m already making a dent in it! I already have my 4th quarter series picked out (got it as a bundle!). Is there any recommendations from you? Let me know in the comments!

Father’s Day 2019

An open letter to my father, and all the men who have stepped up to the role in my life,

Thank you.

To my own father: thank you for sharing your love of cooking, conversations, and nature/home. Thank you for giving me space to be me, learn what I liked, didn’t like, what boundaries I should have, strengthen, and allow to fall down and be restructured. You’ve done more for me in that regard, more than you might think you have.

To those men who shall remain nameless here (there’s a handful of you), who stepped into the father figure role for me in my childhood: thank you as well. Thank you for looking after my best interests, my heart, and allowing me to be a “second” daughter. Thank you for your fatherly love and guidance when I was struggling.

To my living grandpa: thank you for being a secondary father to me. I appreciate photography, both taking and looking at, because of you. I appreciate enjoying life, the simple things, and margaritas because of you. I see Welch’s grape soda, Nilla Wafers, and classic cars, and think of you.

To my late grandpa: Thank you for being. You taught me to appreciate peace and quiet, simplicity, and enjoying little things, like a chocolate milkshake from McDonald’s. Thank you for the wonderful memories in your last years of life, and for the time I was too young to remember anything, thank you for seeing me as the daughter you always seemed you wanted, manifested into your granddaughter. Dad has said that he’d rather be a grandpa first, dad after that. I’m proud to be your granddaughter.

Thank you to all the active fathers out there. It’s a struggle (I’m sure even more so nowadays) raising kids, especially us daughters. I hope all the best for those future dads, wherever you are in your paternal journey, and I hope you learned plenty of things from your own father, and I hope that he stays around in your life, to give you advice when you need it, and frustrate you when he sends your own kids back spoiled and sugared up, because that’s what grandpa’s do.

With love,

New Chapters and Sparking Change

This is my personal journey, from living in a decent sized rural city-town (16,000+ people), to a 7 street mining community that has just over 100 people, about 4 miles outside of the Walmart, that is on the outskirts of former said city-town.

This isn’t a culture shock for me. Moving back out to PA was a culture shock. Visiting to CA last summer gave me a taste to how much city life is cool, but also an anxiety trigger for me. I love my space, both as an introvert, and as someone who loves nature and mid 50’s to 70’s weathered days. Moving to CA from PA was also a culture shock.

This is more of a shock to my soul, my higher self, that I am closer to where I should be, closer to the things I want to do, closer to my callings. I mean shock not in a bad way, but more in a blissful way, that I need to orient myself into.

In the most pure way, I never envisioned what my 20’s would look like, and I don’t know when exactly I stopped dreaming past wanting a home good enough to have some dogs.

I wanted to be a vet, a dancer, a journalist, and a photographer at varying points in my childhood. I appreciate those who go into the vet field, but my heart is too sensitive for that line of work. I never kept with dance, so although I wouldn’t mind following dance, martial arts, and gymnastics as a hobby. I’d love to take off with journalism and photography though, since I keep up with writing and camera work more regularly.

With my growth, and who I’m with, and where we’re at now, we can save some dogs, and I can take my writing and photography talents to work, and share our stories. Plus I can cultivate some other talents and traits!

Something my boyfriend noticed, is how living in the apartment, I was ok with being outside of work, but I wasn’t happy. I now have a pep to getting out of work.

I wouldn’t say I was depressed or suicidal, but I was just “meh”. With a month of living here now, I truly feel the difference, even after working a full week, and a few of them as well.

Reflecting, and even in the months leading up to the move, and looking for a house to call home, I know why. I know why (in a heartbreaking way to even myself) I would drink a little too much.

I had what was mine, but in what I felt someone else’s home, someone else’s place. Similar to impostor syndrome, but with a place that I lived. Mail addressed to me came to the apartment, I had a room of my own that I could do (within reason, as it was a rented apartment) what I wanted. I could walk around the apartment as I pleased, cooked, cleaned and do everyday things, wherever I felt like.

But I still didn’t feel like I was apart of it. No matter the stage, even once I felt comfortable to start exploring some minor decorating, like adding tapestries to the white walls (really so that I could sleep during the afternoons, but it was also a nice range of color and art work), and switching up the kitchen table’s tablecloth.

I didn’t grant myself the permission to call the place mine, that was part mine. And I should have. I paid equally as much in bills as my boyfriend. I contributed as well when there was 3 of us. I worked, I cleaned, I made food for anyone and everyone who was in our apartment.

In part, with this impostor feeling that I didn’t get over, I took it out in all the wrong ways. Although I couldn’t put a name to it, I feel like this is a major thing for me, as we’ve been now out of that apartment for a solid month now, and I’ve yet to experience the need for those coping mechanisms.

As I’m easing into my role in our home, I feel like it’s ours, like it’s mine. I have true presence and authority here. I think I’ve been feeling more and more impostor-like for a long while now, even prior to living with my current (and long term) boyfriend.

I’m genuinely content, and rather happy. I have the space to work out what I need to, and I don’t feel a sense of dread or disgust like I used to.

I’m not sure what the rest of this chapter entails, and I’m really okay with that, as I’m sure it’ll be all of what I need it to be. I have a good feeling like this is really going to start my “on top of the world” journey, and I mean that in the most humblest of ways, and in the most genuinely “I can’t wait” feeling.

Breaking free from all of the chains and walls I’ve made for myself will happen here. Having everything that I’ll need to feel like I’m doing good in this world will happen here. I won’t have everything I want, but I’ll have everything I need.

Yes, I don’t like where certain things are headed in our political climate. Yes, the outside world of death, friendships ending, and people doing horrible things to each other, to animals, and to the planet are sad and sickening. And yes, I wish I could change things, but I can’t.

But I can, and did change my life, and helped change my boyfriend’s life. I help with what I can directly influence, and I feel like I can do a lot more, and will do a lot more, the more I grow into myself.

Easter 2019: DC Edition

So like last year, when I started this blog, I’m doing Easter with my dad. It’s not like last year though, in a different way. Last year, we did every major date for the Catholic Lenten season. This year, we didn’t, due to obvious reasons (catch up here).

Miss last year’s Easter? Read here, this, the last one I swear.

For this year, my dad and I are only doing Easter weekend, mostly due to our own project that we’re working on, plus all of a sudden getting a house!

Last year we were aiming on visiting our nation’s capital for Easter weekend, and going to the National Cathedral, but landed up staying in my home state, and going into Pittsburgh. Not saying it was a bad experience at all either!

This year, although we haven’t done anything Lent based, dad and I are going down to DC area for Easter Saturday mass, and might be going to Easter Sunday mass at the same church, St Paul’s on K street.

Follow on my Instagram for more in depth pics and a handful of stories (not during mass though!). I may do a live on my blog page too!

We went to St Paul’s on K Street for Vigil Mass, and stayed in town on Easter Sunday, and did some sight seeing in the National Mall. My only “missing out” was the Holucost Memorial, and possibly seeing inside of the National Cathedral. Someday soon though, dad and I’ll be back, and I’ll make sure that those two are visited!

Moving 2019: A Documentary of Tips From Our Home to Yours

So you heard we’re moving, huh? Or did you find me because you’re moving yourself? Well congrats!

Well in mid February 2019, I was notified through my email that a house that had previously became off the market, that we were looking at, we could look at, from some unforeseen reasons. We went to see the house mere days later, after this email notification.

So let me back up a hot second to tell you more. I have been leisurely looking at homes on the app Zillow (let me know guys if you want to sponsor me, on a future post!) for a hot minute. I’d say about a year at the point where I saw this house.

I saw a local listing, just a hair closer to our job than we are, but on the other side of work. It was too good to be true, and we were like “let’s at least look at it, at if it is too good to be true, at least we tried”. So I messaged the agent.

We missed the deal by hours, literally.

I was low key bummed, but it felt too good to be true. I replied back to the agent, saying that if for some reason it fell through, that we’d love to look at it still. He was ok with that.

A week goes by, no response. Ok, I started to assume the original person actually got it and liked it enough. 10 days go by, same thing.

2 weeks though, while I was working with my dad on our project, I felt the calling to check my email, late in the afternoon, right before we were done with the meal, and eat it.

There’s the email that changed everything. “Are you still interested in this house? This isn’t going so well with the first person”


After some weather delays, we go to see the place that Friday morning, after we get off. We signed a week and a half later on the place.

Nothing major wrong with the home, just some very minor cosmetic needs (cabinets and counters in the kitchen, garage door needs some help on the treads, and the back fence needs help, and the yard needs weeded/TLC). So literally move in ready, basically.

Anyway, let’s get into some tips to help a move!

Tip 1: Ask your local grocery store for their boxes

Places like Walmart are really nice about saving boxes for you. Do not underestimate PopTart boxes, on the retail end. They’re PERFECT for game/DVDs. You can get 44 a box, so for us that haven’t downsized our DVD collections and those who have gamers who have kept their disc games.

Over sized boxes are great for fluffly things like blankets, towels, or rugs, but DON’T PACK THOSE FULL WITH MODERATELY HEAVY ITEMS. You’ll be breaking your back, and as the current retail worker that I am PLEASE SPARE YOURSELF.

Get some smaller boxes, just smaller than those PopTarts boxes, for things like wires, candles, and silverware.

This will help you with not spending unneeded money on your move. Plus, you can always return the boxes back to at least the company you got them from, like Walmart, and they’ll recycle the cardboard. Just ask! Or if you have a fireplace, or fire pit, that’s some easy fuel for summer fires.

Tip 2: Prioritize how you renovate/decorate the place.

A great tip I got from one of my managers I had, prior to her retirement, is if you’re going to live in the house as you renovate, start with your bedroom. Even down to repainting the walls.

We’re kind of doing that. I did the painting and Mr is adding the cabinets into the kitchen, as it’s SO MUCH EASIER to do that type of stuff prior to having our stuff settled in first. So yes, we didn’t move in right away, even though it was able to be moved into when we got the place. The lack of kitchen storage and counter space would have been an inconvenience but it could have been done.

I suggest to do as much as you can prior to literally moving in, even down to doing a good vacuuming and sweep, and even wiping down the walls (add some scents for personal enjoyment) prior to moving things in.

Tip 3: Give yourself some time!

This will save your sanity, any relationships you have (if it’s just you and your partner like Mr and I, or if you have kids as well, or dependent parents).

Especially those of us who work, and if you have kids, allow the kids to conquer their own space, for what their age allows them.

Tip 4: Make a plan.

Or a to-do list. Break shit down. Usually done best by room, and of what you use infrequent enough to pack now, and frequently enough to set aside boxes/room for them later on, closer to moving date.

Think of these last 2 tips like packing for a vacation. You have the clothes that you’ll have for the trip itself, but then the flight clothes, and you have to leave out your tooth brush, toothpaste, hair brush, and other toiletries that you’ll need to pack the day of.

Even take a “staycation” for this. Make the plan, schedule it off, and even if your kids have their school or extracurriculars, you can do what you need to do, and plan time for when they can do what they need to do, so that they can build on being a human, and it’ll help you on your own packing.

I did the whole “packing as a kid” thing, as a traveler and as a mover, from about 6-17 years old, plus my moves at 19, 20, and now at 24. I always mapped out what I needed as a traveler, and it helped me with the moves I’ve done.

By the time my 16th birthday came, I made 30+ plane trips. So in my current 24 years of living, I’ve made 11 moves myself, let alone leisure travel.

Tip 5: KonMari Your Sh*t

You don’t have to go ham on the Marie Kando method but her method does help! Even if you can eliminate some shit from your life, as you pack, and donate it go for it!

Rethink how you store, see, and handle things as well. Yes, I have my 5 year plaque from work, hung. I want a frame for Mr’s 5 year as well, and if we find his 10 year paper, I’ll frame it and add it to our list of frames somewhere in our new home.

Consider what’s really important, is what this process is. It’s not exactly minimalism but true joy, regardless of what the item is. This has been my life lately, and not in any pressuring way either.

Tip 6: Listen to some good music/Create a good playlist

Somewhat off from what Marie Kando says about audio during sorting, during packing, if good music or neutral music gets you ok with packing, go for it. In a way, sure you might not be as thorough but I feel like there’s a lot more positive emotion there, for what truly gets to you.

So yes, don’t listen to a radio remix. Make a playlist from your favorite artist, and listen to that. Or 3 artists.

There’s 3 songs from Taylor Swift’s Reputation album I go after (Ready for it, I did something bad, and Look at what you made me do) (all YouTube versions).

I’ll also go with my long term band here as well for music reference, Panic! At the Disco. (Hey Look Ma, I Made it!, the annoying single of High Hopes, and let’s go for a ham of a jam of Victorious.)

I have no idea what you’re into, but the taste of MY band should share with you a taste of who I am (Panic!). I love the TSwift as of late, Ariana Grande (7 Rings vibes). I like Fly By Midnight as well.

Tip 7: Still live your life

Regular life is stressful enough. Then moving, Then keeping a “love yourself” concept. Take an extra 3 minutes in the shower, and let your face/hair set for a little longer. Take the time to shave because you want to.

Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice your free time to packing for a month, but if you try and balance it, and allow space for it, it won’t feel so disgusting.

Make sure to still get your beauty rest! When you feel like you need 10 hours, go for it. If you’re feeling good and can feel good at 6 (like I did yesterday, with transferring the name on the water bill) .

Tip 8: Balance talents

This means between you and your partner, then who you each know, and what your tasks are.

This shouldn’t be one sided! Sure, “unbalanced” ok, but if ya’ll are using your talents and resources (friends, or if one makes more or has discounts somewhere like at Lowe’s) that’s how it should be. Not a literal 50/50 but the equal of talent, or resources.

I know negative things about cabinets/counter tops outside of what I want. Mr and I know a guy who is like “Let me help!”. Babe knows basics, but with this guy’s help, we’ll have better stuff. And with me learning how to stain (which with my painting skills), I’ll have that basic skill for a long while, I’ll learn something, and it’ll add to the “home” of our house.

Outside of relationships, (and speaking as an introvert like you wouldn’t believe!), talking to who you work with will really help. Either through their side work or they’ll know someone who can help, you can save money!

Tip 9: Clean as You Go

One major thing that I did from the start, is cleaning as you go. Your current place and your new one alike.

For your new place, as you tailor things like carpeting (or lack there of) and paint, do things like vaccuming and dusting things that are already there (even the shelves that are placed in closets and laundry area).

Prior to moving in, this is the only real time to really clean all the nooks and crannies of the house, that post moving in, it’ll be more of a hassle to clean some areas (the TV console area, under the bed, etc).

I’d even go as far as to say that this is the best time to do a deep scrub on carpets that you do have. Polish the wood you have into your home as well.

For your current place, as you pack, clean and dust. Then once everything has been moved, do a decent clean of the place.

So for bookshelves, like with what I started, pack the books, DVDs, video game discs, and whatever else you’re keeping on them, then wipe the shelves down with a Clorox wipe. I do a bookcase at a time, since we have smaller bookcases.

For regular used stuff (desks, TV consoles, kitchen stuff), as much as we sometimes get lazy about even doing the dishes, clean as you use. Even if you don’t use things that often (like our living room TV isn’t the best used TV in our home), dust that off when you DO use them.

Bedding and other odd things (if you have rugs in the home, throw blankets on the sofa, and the like), I’d say throw a good day in on laundry, and clean them either right before you move, or right after. And don’t underestimate my “day of laundry” here! Clean them good…take good care of them and order in pizza or get take out or gas station food (fill your tank if you’re going out…your future self will thank you, I’m sure).

Both have the same process in my mind (mostly, depending if you’re renting or selling your home, or upgrading your own home to rent out your current place), but their process is reversed really, in the most ideal scenarios.

What odd hacks do you have for moving that you can share?

Plan With Me: April 2019

Starting the second quarter already! Wait, what?! Outside of Mercury Retrograde just finishing, HOW DID THIS JUST HAPPEN?!

I personally started off this quarter watching the first Pirates home game of the season. How cool is that?! Unfortunately, we lost in the 11th inning, but it was nothing short of an interesting home opener!

My dad got invited, and was allowed a plus one, and my stepmom couldn’t make it due to work/running a fever the night before. It was such a nice experience, even though we lost by 1 in the 11th inning, and it was rather cold (40’s, feeling like upper 30’s).

Past that, I still have the rest of the month to plan out. So here we go!

We have a move to account for, plus Easter weekend, so it’s more doing, than planning.

My planner looks just like we have a big ol’ set of vacation, and bills, because packing takes up a lot more room than my planner can nicely hold. And I like to be able to read what I scheduled in!

So what I did, is use a sheet of graphite, to map out a *not so overwhelming* packing and home chores schedule. I’ve already got a handful of stuff packed, but still haven’t gotten around to packing much more. And things kind of need to be packed, to move.

What’s your month looking like? Let me know!