Tag Archives: Personal

Tucked away

By my bedroom door, there’s a big porcelain cat that my parents gave me years ago. I’ve blogged about it before.

Next to it, there’s a stack of framed diplomas. They’re my diplomas. I’m quite proud of the degrees they represent. It was hard to get into MIT and into the graduate school program I attended, and also hard to get through to the other side.

My dad had the three diplomas framed. I didn’t ask him to do it, and ever since, I’ve been pretty uncomfortable about them. I suppose I should hang them somewhere.

But anywhere I think of hanging them feels wrong. At work, our office is open-plan, with 8 or more of us working at tables grouped together, all communal and shared. I wince to even think of hanging them there. And I don’t have a home office.

Could I hang them in my kitchen? No, that would be odd. I have a little living room in my apartment, but I don’t want to weigh that area down with the ponderousness of my educational credentials.

The bathroom has some wall space. But no, it would be insulting my school and myself to hang them there. Hanging them in my bedroom feels odd too. So much pressure. Maybe the hallway? Mmm, no.

So there they sit, stacked on the floor against a bookshelf. Next to the ceramic cat.

I’m proud of my schooling, yet I’m embarrassed about being proud of it.  And I love the big, awkward porcelain cat my parents gave me, full of memories and sweetness, guileless. But I hide all of them away where I hope no one sees them but me.

The hero within

Not long ago, I went to a party at a friend’s house in Pittsburgh. I was running late (as is my unfortunate habit). I have been to this friend’s house many times and know the way well, as long as I’m coming from my house in Butler. On this particular evening, I was coming from my apartment in Pittsburgh, so I didn’t know the way well. 

Already you can see that there’s trouble on the horizon. Continue reading The hero within

Oranges and olives

Today I did something I’ve avoided doing for years: I shopped at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company

Yes, it’s a famous Pittsburgh-area foodie destination; yes, they have all kinds of delicious things like amazing cheese and orgeat syrup and amazing olive oil and real Italian imported everything. It is indeed hard to fathom that one might not want to go there.

Here’s the thing: I really don’t like crowds. And the other thing I know about Penn Mac is that, on a Saturday, the crowd there is fierce. Continue reading Oranges and olives


On Friday we moved furniture from my house to the new loft. It turned out that I own almost enough furniture to furnish both a small house and an apartment — if you needed an example of overconsumption in the modern age, I think that’s a fine one to use.

Max and Sammie in their cat treeMy cats will be spending time in Pittsburgh with me, so I took their lovely cat tree down to the loft. The cat tree is a nice piece of furniture: It’s made of hardwood, finished with an espresso stain, with segments of carpet on the surfaces for the cats to sit on and scratch.

Here are Max and Sammie on the tree, before we moved it.

The cats are up here in Butler with me this weekend, and they have mostly adjusted to having their world turned topsy-turvy, all the places that they normally sit having been moved or removed.

But Max is little lost without his tree. He keeps looking to where it should be, as though it might reappear any moment. 

Max misses his tree

Think how excited he will be to reunite with the tree in the new place!

The Weekend Dress, circa 1986

In the late 1980s, I was a big fan of Banana Republic. Actually, I’ve bought items from Banana Republic many times since then, but the Banana Republic of today is very different from the Banana Republic of then. 

It used to be that Banana Republic was more of a catalog experience, where the catalogs were printed on cream colored, heavy stock paper. The items were not photographed but illustrated, and they were described in expansive, worldly prose. Continue reading The Weekend Dress, circa 1986