I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am. Like, not “find a four-leaf clover on my way to cash my million-dollar lottery prize” luck, but the luck that gets me through each day with such incredible people; the luck that got me the family that I have.

Growing up a fat, nerdy, pretty gay kid in a small town in West Virginia is not for the faint-hearted. And I definitely had some amazing friends, but I was so lucky to have the parents that I did. They loved me (and even liked me most of the time!) no matter what — mouthy teenage years, gay, bad girlfriends, car wrecks, and everything in between. I was…a handful, to say the least. Different parents would have turned their backs on me, tried to pray the gay away, tried to talk me out of dating someone. Well, maybe that last one would have been a good idea…

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that I feel so lucky to have who I do. My thoughts always turn kind of sad this time of year, so I guess that’s what this is all about.

I am sad and happy today. Sad that my dad died. Grateful that my mom is so awesome. Sad that it’s been 12 years. Happy for the 26 that we had before that. Angry that he’s gone when it seems so unfair. Lucky that my mom has done such a good job of being two parents since then.


 And looking great while doing it.

  My graduation from college.

I remember the first (only?) time my dad had a Primanti’s sandwich. We were going with a work friend of his, Dave, to Italian Oven, but it had closed, so his friend suggested Primanti’s. Having gone to college downtown, I was familiar, and so was Dave. Dad said, “That’s all your going to order — just a sandwich?” Thinking that wouldn’t be enough, he also ordered a bowl of chili. Too many years have passed to remember the exact conversation that followed our food being brought out, but needless to say, he soon understood why “just a sandwich” would probably have been okay.

At Christmas every year, my family somehow ends up talking about some strange topic, often sexual. And that’s how the task of explaining what a tossed salad was to my mom. By the end of it, we were both in tears from laughter, barely able to speak. Whenever I see that item on a menu, I always think of that Christmas Eve.

If you have parents, hug them. Call them. Enjoy them. If you don’t, give yourself a minute to think about them and just feel — be happy, be sad, be grateful, be honest — let yourself feel how you feel, have a good cry and/or a good laugh, and remember something fun.

Cheers to my parents — sorry you got stuck with me, but I’m grateful that you did! 

A Dream

I had planned on blogging today, and I had several possible topics floating around in my head.

  • Anything talking about the last three months of 2014, because I blogged very little
  • A post about the timing of things in my life and how things seem to come along when you need them, even though in retrospect you wish you would have acted sooner
  • A guest blog for Oh Honestly Erin about my hometown of Moundsville

And eleventy million other things, because that’s how my mind works.


My lovely fiancée and a wall hanging we really wanted to buy, because accuracy.

And then I had a dream last night about my dad. So I’m going to talk for a bit about that.



A lot of the details are jumbled. He was there, along with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law, and so was Chris, her mother, some of her siblings, and an aunt or two. (Sorry. Jumbled.) There were two main activities — renovating Chris’ mother’s house (which was, obviously, taken outside to remodel on the beach) and driving to and eating dinner.

The remodeling part is vague, so I don’t have a lot of details. It also didn’t resemble reality. Sorry, Karen (Chris’ mom), but I don’t think that Matt really needs a 25-foot ladder to hang a picture…and I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t all be outside.

I think it was in that section, though, that Dad made his appearance, but under the guise of someone else. I mean, it was my dad, and I recognized him immediately, but I think he had a “wink, wink” name, and we all just played along.

At some point, it was time to go to dinner, and I was the one driving…a ginormous RV. Up a “hill” to a restaurant in Wheeling…and by hill, think of the pyramids at Chichen Itza, and it was kind of like the stairs up to that. And I’m driving everyone — both families — in the RV. My mom reassured me, “Monica, it bothers me sometimes, too.” But I made it!


Why didn’t you take the wheel, Dave?! Anastasia? Or…someone else?! Anyone?

Dinner involved stuffing lots of meats and veggies into a bowl, then handing it off to a cook for finalizing, the by-product of a discussion about a Mongolian BBQ at dinner this weekend, I think. Because food.

As dinner was wrapping up, I started worrying about driving down the hill. In the giant RV. With all of our family. So I asked my dad and Chris’ Uncle Bob if they would at least drive us down the hill, after which I would take over. Though professional-truck-driver Bob would be the obvious choice, my dad volunteered to bail me out of a tough position. Again.


Too bad he couldn’t save me from that bucket hat. The plaid is on point, though.

At the end of the dream, after he agreed to drive, his eyes closed as he sat in his chair, and he seemed to drift off. I wondered if he was having a post-meal doze or if we were losing him again, but none of us tried to wake him. For me, it was because I didn’t want to know.


Science fact — My mother and I both age at a very slow pace. The only thing that changes is our hair.

So I woke up and didn’t want to lose that warm fuzzy from the dream. I lazed in bed for a bit, made some breakfast, talked to my mom, and made my way upstairs to the computer with the actual keyboard.

And the part I keep thinking about — you know, the part you keep coming back to, like an unconscious rubbing of a frayed hoodie sleeve because it’s comforting — is when he said my name. It’s one of the things I miss about him, which I’ve talked about before. No one pronounces my name the same way as Dad did. He called me by name in my dream, and I teared up and asked him to repeat it. He said it slower and louder, because apparently death makes you a smartass like your daughter. “No, say it normal.” “Monica,” he said.

And that’s what I keep going back to.