The American Dream

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It has been three months since Jim and I moved into our house. I would like to think that our lives have changed drastically. That somehow we are older, wiser, more experienced, more mature adults – but that’s not really true. I would have thought that owning a home would somehow cast us into the pot of people who seem to have “it” all together. Maybe we’d be qualified as a part of society who “knows what they’re doing.” Maybe somewhere, hidden in the legal jargon of the closing documents, there might have been invisible ink explaining how to own a home and somehow it would soak into our minds as we read through the papers and we’d suddenly know exactly what to do.

That didn’t happen. We are still the same people, we just have more space. We have the same stuff, except now it’s all in boxes that I’m afraid to unpack. We have the same furniture, except now it looks sad and old next to the pretty hardwood floors and bay window. We have the same jobs, but now we have a longer commute.

We are the same people we were before we moved, and we have no idea what we’re doing. Continue reading

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Looking Back on 2015

Yes, it is February 8th and yes, I am about to write my recap of 2015.

It has been so long since I last blogged that WordPress has changed the interface in my absence and I’m not even sure I know how to blog anymore.

But the only way to begin is to just sit down and do it.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been sharing my writing. So it’s time to start.

Despite the fact that I spent the first day of 2016 with with a killer hangover and the second and third days with a terrible cold, it was a good start to the year. I realized that I am in a much better place beginning this year than I was a year ago.

I went through some of the past year’s writing and I realized that I was just so miserable at the beginning of 2015. I was in such a rut with my job, and I was struggling in a big way. I was mentally and emotionally drained from having to deal with work drama. Going into 2015, I was desperate for a new job, I was watching many of my friends leave the company, I was putting on a fake smile every day, and I was dreading driving in to work each morning. Granted, I had great things going on with Jim and my friends were cool and I was exercising, but when work is such a big part of life it’s hard to not let that cross over into everything else, even a little bit.

So here’s to 2016. Cheers to a new year – but also cheers to the majority of 2015, which turned out to be literally the best year of my life, so far. Highlights being: I got a new job, I got engaged and I bought a house. This was a HUGE year for me. Most of the year was just so incredible, and it was so crazy and chaotic and stressful and fast-paced that I barely had time or energy left to breathe. But it was amazing.

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Just a random picture of Pittsburgh that I took from the Gateway Clipper.

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Light Up Night in Pittsburgh

Light Up Night

It was 18 degrees and we were standing outside on a rooftop deck in the middle of downtown. If we were crazy then so were the other 50,000 people out that night who came down to see all the lights, trees, decorations, concerts and fireworks that together created the holiday spectacle that is Light Up Night in Pittsburgh. Continue reading

Blue Hens and Whiskey Drinks

Wigle Whiskey Barrel

Whiskey would not be my drink of choice, especially not served neat or even on the rocks. But as I sat amongst the whiskey barrels and the copper stills, I felt this air of sophistication and this feeling that, yes, I could be the girl who orders whiskey. I could be the one who sits down at a bar and orders it straight up and knocks it back, enjoying the harsh bite as much as the oaky flavor.

But no. I’m decidedly not that whiskey-drinking girl. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did enjoy our tour of the Wigle Whiskey Distillery located in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.

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Pierogies, Pens, and Pamela’s

Last weekend, Jim and I were faced with an impossible task. We had to show Jim’s cousin Greg, and Greg’s girlfriend Sarah a great time in Pittsburgh in the short span of their less-than-24-hour visit.

If you’ve ever lived in or been to this city, you know that there is no possible way to do everything worth doing in just one weekend. Between all the fantastic restaurants, neighborhoods, museums, and sports teams, it takes days, weeks, even years to experience it all. With our limited time constraint, we did our best to show off our personal favorite spots and try some new things as well.

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Buds and Blossoms at Phipps Conservatory

UD Group at Phipps Conservatory

Today, the sun was bright and shining on a crisp fall morning, while the University of Delaware Pittsburgh Alumni Club explored the gorgeous greenhouses of Phipps Conservatory.

When I first visited the conservatory, about a year and a half ago, I had anticipated a quick walk-through, a moment of appreciation and an otherwise unexciting look at plants. I quickly learned how wrong I was and how much there is to see and appreciate at Phipps. I had fallen in love with with this secret garden and its natural, flawless beauty, so I was thrilled that we were able to give our alumni the same opportunity.

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Taking a Ride with Uber

Taking a Ride with Uber

I’ve waited 45 minutes for a Yellow Cab to pick me up in the South Side. I’ve waited an hour for a Classy Cab to get me in Bloomfield. I’ve been so disappointed with the service of taxis in Pittsburgh, that I try to avoid getting stranded at any location without my trusty Toyota close by. I would rather drive my own car and pay a premium on garage fees and parking meters, just so I know that I will have reliable transportation when I am ready to go.

Pittsburgh is better known for its bridges and sports teams than for public transportation. Cabs are hard to find and harder to contact. The T will only take you so far in one direction. Buses are okay, but for the hassle of getting to a stop and the time it takes to get where you need to go, you’d expect it to be cheaper.

Introducing – Uber.

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University of Delaware Tailgate in the Burgh

UD Pittsburgh Alumni Club BoardWhen I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2012 and moved back to Pittsburgh without a job, I thought I was leaving everything behind. My friends and classmates I’d met at UD were mostly from the east coast, as well as my professors and potential job contacts. I’d had work experience affiliated with the university and I’d become familiar with the area and the companies. I’d consulted with a staff member at Career Services and I perused the job boards on their website many times, and it seemed that they had the most connections in east coast cities.

When I moved back home, I felt lost. I was working as a waitress, attempting to reconnect with a few high school friends, and struggling to search for a job on my own. I thought I had lost my network.

But by a miraculous stroke of luck or fate, I came across the UD Pittsburgh Alumni Blue Hen City. Just a few months after meeting a few fellow alumni, I felt like I’d found my home again.

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Living the City Life

pittsburgh skyline

I used to be afraid of the city before I lived here. It was fear of the unknown, really. I didn’t actually know anything about Pittsburgh. All I knew was that the roads were terribly confusing and that traffic could be atrocious when there was a Steelers or Pens game, which were the only real reasons to go into the city anyway.

I imagined that cities were full of cruel and terrible people who jump out, steal your money, rape women, pillage and plunder. It only took a few off-handed stories for me to form this stereotype in my mind.

But despite this, cities had always fascinated me. From Pens and Pirates games to my abbreviated tour of New York City, I had always thought that the urban lifestyle looked so glamorous and romantic. People who lived in cities seem to live totally different kinds of lives that I will never grasp. Skyscrapers, cars, traffic, taxis, outdoor cafes, rooftop bars, apartments, buses and trains– there’s so much going on and so much movement. Everyone just walks everywhere, always somewhere to go, someplace to be. People run to catch buses, they push strollers across intersections, they walk with rolling baskets to carry groceries, they meet for lunch or coffee or drinks. They are busy with their own lives, but they’re all part of this big, urban machine.

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An Evening of Arts for Autism

Evening of Arts For Autism was held at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Evening of Arts For Autism was held at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Last night, I was honored and privileged to attend the Evening of Arts for Autism at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh. This event truly brought my experiences with the Joey Travolta Film Camp and Arts for Autism full-circle, and I have never seen this amount of hard work, joy, patience, and hope in any group of people, multiplying with each gathering. Continue reading