From My Stoop

From the stoop of my new home I see flowers and trees, a moderately busy street, and so many different people. I can’t remember the last time my stoop was the place to people watch.

In the last hour, as I enjoy a cigar, I’ve seen an elderly woman walking her dog, my next door neighbor on the phone in her car arguing with someone, children walking together, a random cat, many squirrels, many walkers, and my favorite: a woman listening to music while singing and dancing as she walked.

This neighbor is gonna be good for me.


I have had 4 roommates in my life not including my live in girlfriends.

The first one was my best friend. He and I struggled to get out of parents houses, saved up money to get a place and struggled to keep it. But we did it. He was a brilliant and dark artist. When my attention turned to my new and first real girlfriend, things got ugly. It started little; ranch dressing left on plates in the sink for days on end, smoking in his room (breaking  our one and only apartment rule), borrowing money and waiting til I had to ask to pay it back. Then there were shredded paintings and shouting matches.

My second roommate only was there 3 days a week, I’ll be the first to admit I was in a horrible place, but she made it worse with the skid marked under wear and hundred empty food containers she left when she moved around without notice.

My third roommate was more mature, neat and clean. The place was beautiful and expensive but he wasn’t happy when I realized he had the best room and his own bathroom but barely paid more of the rent than the rest of us. And even tho I paid rent the same as him, he would move back everything I tried to rearrange or add my own possessions into the apartment. In the end he ripped me off on my deposited.

My new roommate leaves them all in the dust. She had a bottle of tequila waiting on the table the day I walked in. She has dragged me off to repelling and bouldering, at nights we spend the last hour before bed chatting about our days and eating junk food. I filled and started the dishwasher one night….And she emptied it the next morning and put everything away. Without being asked! It’s a weird world I live in, but it’s awesome!


What’s My Name Again by Hollie McNish is a poem I just ran into as I’m sorting out my feelings of being back and living without my kids, the kids I raised for 8 years, the kids I called mine, the kids who called me theirs. Please take a second to watch this.

That used to be my name, Casey’s parent or David’s person or Evelina’s Jill. Some days I felt like I was drowning under those names and some days I wore them like a badge of honor, Hell Ya I’m a parent!

I miss my kids.

After an unfortunate late Christmas gift arrival (the breakup books don’t tell you how upsetting it is for kids to get gifts from someone who loved them like crazy, but broke up with their mom. Dads get so much more forgiveness than stepparents) I am forbidden for life from ever contacting my kids again. That has been the worst of all this. Not the heartbreak of the breakup or the guilt I feel for hurting my ex or how quiet silence is or the long hours of family free boredom or having to come “home” to a different place (tho it is rather awesome), missing them.

My friends tell me they’ll remember who was kind to them when they grow up. Of course that’s a whole lot of time between now and then of them living with someone who hates me. That can’t work in my favor at all.

I don’t want to find a new name. I miss my kids.


Waking up after my first decent sleep in a new place is weird. A good weird, but still pretty weird. My roommates boyfriend was walking around doing things and the older wood floors described his movement.

Last night I hung out with my roommate maybe 45 min before being whisked away to dinner with my best friend, so I didn’t really get a chance to explore.

I did now! I opened every closet (lots of space), every cabinet (I have two all to myself) in the kitchen, the fridge and bathroom and stood a while envisioning what my room will look like with furniture.  It’s an older house turned into an apartment building and it’s so cute, add a hipster roommate to the mix and it’s adorable (but don’t tell her I said that).

All I have right now are duffle bags in my room and jellybeans in my cabinets, but I was able to do this exploration barefoot!! And when I left the bathroom this morning, I left my toiletries IN THE BATHROOM instead of taking them with me back to my room. In Jordan, leaving my stuff was universally understood as donating it to the linguists.

Don’t even get me started on my roommates movie collection! We’re gonna get along fine…though it’s cute she thinks she has a lot of books! “Them are rookie numbers!” I have 20 in my duffle bag alone. She’s in for a shock if/when I eventually get my books.

This is my new home.

Off the Plane pt 2

There was no last plane at the end of my last deployment. There was a bus ride though. And somehow a stop at Denny’s.  Getting off the bus last time sucked. I’d had an amazingly, relationship-near-destroying fight with my gf around that time and I had not recovered from the yet, so when I saw her, all I saw was the fights subject. I was angry and hurt and angry. She was angry and hurt that I didn’t react the way she had wanted me to at seeing her. She’d expected me to sweep her up in my arms and spin her around and photos and tears and kisses. It was so bad, that little reunion came up a few times over the next few years during fights, once was right before I left for this deployment so she wasn’t over it either. Being single now, at least I didn’t have to worry about her expectations of my homecoming.

This time, just as it had been when I left, it was raining. Oh Pittsburgh weather! We were packed onto busses again and taken to a place where we could unload. Every moment of that arrival ached. I knew where my ex and the kids would have been waiting with a sign. I knew my youngest would have gotten to me first. My teenager would have barely hugged me and been awkward about it, but would have smiled anyway. My middle would have crushed my ribs with a hug that I felt for an hour afterward, then tried to carry my duffle bag because it was as big as he was.

Instead, one of my oldest and best friends was there in the rain with her new boyfriend. He has kind eyes. I got a crushing hug from her and we got my duffles. We then got perfectly stuck in Pittsburgh traffic, but that first view of the city coming through the tunnels, even in the rain, was perfect. We stopped by my new apartment where I saw it for the first time, as well as my new roommate and her boyfriend. Then we drove to my ex’s fathers house were my car waited. Then off to dinner. I was craving lobster so my best friend made it happen!

So surreal to be back, to be cold, to know the city has changed for me. I miss my kids.

Feeling Rebellious

In the past after a breakup I’ve: Cut off all my hair, gotten new tattoos, drank like a fish, and speed-dated my way through the Pittsburgh lesbian scene.

Well, I’ve already cut off all my hair. Went from 12 inches to 4 in no time flat! I still have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s cute, everyone says it makes me look younger, and dries a million times faster which is amazing!!! But I also feel like I look so much more butch than I am, like it’s false advertising. Does that make sense? Well it does to me.

I just got a $1,300 tattoo before I left. Sure it needs touched up, but I love it and have no desire for another piece right now. It will be another year or two before my next adventure.

Now drinking is easy, maybe too easy. But since I went away, that driving desire to drink is completely gone. I no longer survive my day only to barely make it home, crash on the couch, and reach first thing for a drink. Now I have a handful of jelly beans and call it a day. (My one friend looked at me funny when I told her that, I guess her smug self sees it as a sign that she was right and getting out of my relationship was going to be better for me in the long run.)

Speed date my way through Pittsburgh…. Eh, I don’t want to. I could. Since I came back, the Her app has been lit up like a Christmas tree. In 19 days I’ve had some 27 women like my brief profile. (Which by the way is the most amazing ego boost. Pittsburgh women think I’m cute! Obviously they don’t know what a random weirdo I am but it feels good. I’ve never really felt attractive before.) But I refuse to open the app. I have the vaguest notion of prospects (in the far future) with someone who is worth waiting for and I’m content to see what happens. I’m pretty sure leaping from woman to woman might torpedo any even unlikely chances.

That said, I’m going crazy out of my skin to do something insane. I finally figured out my rebellion. I’ve decided to try out cigars. Yeah I know, I’m hugely against smoking in general, but a cigar a week isn’t horrible, I don’t inhale, I have always loved the smell, and it’s something I can do to bond with my Joes once I go back to drilling.

It makes me feel insanely rebellious, while at the same time, seems to have a secondary and unexpected benefit. It’s making me be still. For 40 min here and there I have to sit still, enjoy the sunshine, slow my breathing, appreciate the life I see around me. I don’t know if I’ll smoke cigars forever, but this is what helps me now, so I’m gonna go with it!