I'm very careful. Very, very careful. I don't let people in. I am ambivilent, I am calculated, I do not care, people do not effect me.

That's the pathway to a lonely life, and I know it. I've been trying to remedy my ways. But everytime I branch out, reach out, open up--I end up loathing myself for my vunerability.

There is something to a life of cats and solitude. I think those little old ladies are on to something.
But even as I type that, I am ashamed of myself. While I may not be very good at relationships--I have a family who loves me and constantly reaches out to me. My little brother calls in to check on me, my Grandpa wants to help me paint my house, my Mother wants to come live with me and make me fresh vegetable juices--everyone wants to reach out to me. I must remember that reaching out isn't one way. I cannot hoard their love, I must love them back. If I can love them--I can choose to love others.

And right there--I talked myself out of being a lonely old lady with cats.

(I'll just get a dog.)

At the tender age of eight, or so, my family owned and operated a small diner/restaurant. (This is also where the now quite famous story of the milk crate/cash register story occurred. if you are unfamiliar with this story, feel free to contact my father, he will be more than happy to share it with you.)

It was also at this time we would rise at 4:00 am so our family could have devotions together before we trudged off to cook bacon and feed the masses. after we would finish our devotions--whatever children had been selected for the task of staffing the said diner would pile into the car and we would drive into the early morning darkness. Now, given the fact I was only eight I was frequently allowed to sleep on the way in and would nap in the car until 6 or so, when i would finally trundle into the kitchen to make pies. However, on Thursdays, my designated day for no sleep, i would have to go in. I was the chief chicken and dumpling maker. Chicken and dumplings, like time, wait for no man.

National Public Radio always accompanied these early mornings. On the sleepy drive in, my father always had the radio tuned in to the droning, hypnotic voices of the announcer. Once we arrived and started cooking, the kitchen radio was always turned to NPR. i rather hated it. i thought it stupid. Every hour they would regurgitate the same news--in the same monotone voices--told slightly different. Even though I hated, hated, hated listening to the news, there was a certain comfort to it. It was the same thing--every morning. No matter how much I protested, we listened to the news. My sisters, of course, being the intelligent well-rounded teenagers that they were, would turn their noses at me and insist I enrich my mind.

Until recently, I couldn't listen to NPR without wanting to instantly yawn and fall asleep. But other than the instant drowsiness that overtakes me when i hear the gentle monotone of the announcers, I am overwhelmed with a sense of warmth--more from being tucked into that tiny hot kitchen with three other people. up to my elbows in soapsuds or hovering over the stove stirring coconut cream pie filling, singeing my eyebrows off. Remembering those early mornings where I would make "gorilla sandwiches" with my father (two heels of bread, catsup, a sausage patty, a hash brown patty and a slice of American cheese) much to the chagrin of my health conscious mother. The restaurant was safe, we could eat whatever our little hearts created and we were treated like adults. When I listen to performance today, I am overcome with the desire to wrap an apron around my waist--well--more so around my whole body, directly under my armpits, with the strings tightly circling my body three or four times--punctuating the curve of my soft eight year old tummy. When I hear the hypnotic drone of the narrators’ voice, I’m young again and underestimated by the general public, but i have a family who believes in me and thinks my unconquerable.

I listen to NPR every morning now. I’m still young. I still have a family who fiercely believes in me. I no longer singe my eyebrows off. I still make a mean pie. I’ve been tempered slightly since the restaurant days. I no longer glare at people when they ask me if I’m too young to take their money. Now I just smile graciously. But more than getting the news--I love being reminded what I come from and how much I have.

Most importantly--a family who loves me.

This odd narrative is my life. I ended up in Pittsburgh, of all places--from the beach. I have no hobbies, other than cooking excessively and eating microwave popcorn. I enjoy shopping, the Food network, hiding the remote so the Food network cannot be turned off, find ethnic food stores and restaurants and reading voraciously. My life is decidedly pedestrian.

I worked in the car business where I was required to be ruthless and soul-less wench, which is when I started this project. Since then, I've kept it up because secretly, I've always wanted to join the military. Every male in my mother's family has joined and I quietly entertain thoughts of joining. I haven't yet and don't know if I ever will, but sending the troops cookies keeps me sane. it makes me think I still have a shred of human kindness left in my withering soul. it's a small way for me to salute the men and women who are brave enough to fight for freedom. And makes me feel like I'm contributing toward troop morale--even if I'm not. So if you want to help, send me addresses of troops you know stationed overseas. you may also contribute toward the cost of chocolate chips, but don't feel obligated, that link is here only by request.


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