The faceless nobody

The tile floor in the kids’ bathroom is brand new. I noticed it a couple weeks ago when I came home to see Rob Delaney in Buffalo with my brothers.

Some faceless nobody came in, pulled up the old linoleum floor, discarded it then carefully arranged the new tiles in a perfect pattern, complemented by the grey grout. It’s no underestimation when I say “perfect.” One tile matches up with the other, the grout’s level is consistent between the tiles; whomever got down on hands and knees to install the new floor paid very close attention to detail.

The tiles in the bathroom of my friend’s off-campus house aren’t aligned at all. I understand college housing isn’t always that nice, but whomever did that floor installation did a really shitty job.

I may have more in common with my mother in terms of career paths, personality and physical appearance, but I definitely get my meticulousness from my daddy. I don’t write about him nearly enough.

So much Bona Pride in this pic before my trip to LA. And yes, we did get him a coffee mug.
So much Bona Pride in this pic before my trip to LA. And yes, we did get him a coffee mug.

He carefully measures tiles, marks them up with pencil and then cuts them accordingly to fit whatever space he’s working in. They’re always even, always lined up, always perfect. He doesn’t half ass anything; if he screws a tile up, he scraps it for future use and picks up a new one to cut.

That random man who kills his knees, damages his spine and strains his neck on a regular basis to install the floors in your respective homes is my daddy.

My daddy didn’t go to college; his career isn’t glamorous; he isn’t astonishingly successful. He went to a trade school, learned what he needed and works on his own time with his own equipment. Because of his self-made schedule, he didn’t miss a single baseball game, basketball game, wrestling match or track/cross country meet. He made it to every play, every musical, every band concert.

My three brothers and I are the center of his universe and he has sacrificed plenty for us, from bartering work with our orthodontist to pay for braces to paying for car insurance until we’re able to do it ourselves.

The little things I do for him –– buying him a coffee mug from every place I travel to, giving him a call when walking home at dark to put his mind at ease, texting “I love you” –– just don’t compare to everything he’s done for me.

Though I most definitely got my personality from my mother –– and my father likes to remind me of this often –– I hope I got a mere inkling of my daddy’s hardworking nature and complete selflessness from the genetic whirlpool.

I hope he’s as proud to call me his daughter as I am to call him “Daddy.”

I ate some of your cereal, Jordan

I’m 19. I know this and understand this. I enjoy being thought of as an adult and treated like one, but sometimes I don’t want to accept the responsibilities associated with adulthood.

So imagine me, driving Bubbles and scared shitless on the thruway in the only direction I can go: forward.

I do some pretty stupid things sometimes.

I traveled to Fredonia today to run an errand and see Adam, my youngest older brother. The way there had been a miserable one so, when I left, I decided to take the thruway home. An unanticipated split in the road struck my judgment and I stupidly took the left curve toward Erie instead of the right one toward Buffalo. I realized my mistake instantly.

To paint a clearer picture, imagine a blue Bug going 65 mph driven by a yellow sunglasses-clad little girl who looks and acts the part of a stupid kid who doesn’t know what she’s doing. That’s me.

With 17 miles to go before the nearest exit, I made the prognosis of “I’m screwed.” I had no cash in my wallet and had recently emptied my change purse, making the idea of paying the tolls seem daunting and rather impossible. I scrambled around for the silver bits of coinage, preparing for a charge that could’ve resulted in counting out pennies just to get by. I pondered venturing into the median, where the sign clearly shows an ‘X’ over a swirly, turnaround arrow, but decided barely being able to pay the toll trumped the idea of a state-issued, $50 fine.

So I kept going.

Fourteen miles, 12 miles, eight miles, four miles. I counted up $.85 in silver coins in the meantime and held my breath, cursing my stupidity.

Come my destination –– the exit toward Westfield –– and I breathed a sigh of relief at the toll charge: exactly $.85.

And here’s where the everything happens for a reason bit comes in that I constantly live by. My brother lives in Mayville, right next to Westfield. I am at his house right now, keeping the dog company. And I ate some of his cereal. And I used the bathroom. And I get to see Jordan’s new desk, new couch and new bedding that everyone has talked about and I’ve missed out on. And, come to find out, my dad is actually on his way here, too.

I didn’t plan this. I just went the completely wrong way. And it happened to work out perfectly.

Just listen

If you’ve been reading Blackbyrd for as long as it has existed, you might be aware I purchased a record player when I was fifteen (if I remember correctly). I hauled up my parents’ old records, dusted them off and stuck them under the needle. I found Joan Jett & the Black Hearts, Pat Benatar, Boston, REO Speedwagon and the like. Like anything, I discovered a favorite among them: Styx.

Whenever I put a record under the needle and let it spin with my dad in earshot, he appears in my doorway. It never fails. He’ll stand there for awhile, just listening. Each song that comes on with the different pattern of lines on the record receives a “whoa, good song!” and he’ll sit. We sit and just listen. Records are flipped, removed and added.

During the ride hom from the Bona game (WE WON AFTER TWO OTs!), I plugged in my iPod Classic and scrolled to find Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Supertramp. From there, I made a playlist and we listened to whatever song came on. The driving conditions were not preferable, and yet we sat with the music blasting, turning it up when the beat picked up and turning the dial to the left during softer parts. “Time For Me To Fly” got us to sing every word (of course, we know every word) and “Too Much Time On My Hands” got me clapping. If I know the company riding with me, I tend to play music I know they would like. The plus side with Dad’s music is this: I love it just like he does. We both enjoy it, and each time, a story about his childhood and teenage years comes out of the songs. He tells me how he was able to relate to songs Styx put out when he was a kid. He loves how their lyrics come from situations they faced in real life. Everything about Styx is relatable.

We drove those black, rainy country roads in a purply-blue Bug singing our hearts out.

I couldn’t help but think nights like tonight are what I’m going to tell my kids about.



One time we watched this concert on TV. It’s amazing (and I have a huge crush on Tommy Shaw, which is quite strange seeing as how I think he and my dad look very alike…).

One month later

I can’t recall a month in my life that could possibly be happier than the one I just lived. Robby and I have been nearly inseparable for a month now, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

We’ve been together 11 times in the past 11 days. We see each other at least once a day, no matter what day it is. We do something different everyday, too, and we never have a plan. He comes over or I go over to his house and we just do whatever. It’s as simple as that. There is no prep time to take into account. We’ve watched a million movies, played a million games and had a million conversations. Last night, we walked my dogs and visited my grandparents before he watched me dominate in Guitar Hero in our “rumpus room.”

I’m always thinking about him and always get ideas for things to do for him. I got a great idea today while we were in Target after we went to the movies to see The Crazies (it was okay…just a little gory, but I had Robby there to protect me), but couldn’t tell him what it was. When he asked to know, I simply shook my head and said “you’ll find out soon enough!” He also has something he’s saving for today to celebrate one happy month together, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store!

We have so many plans. This week, we’re going four-wheeling with his dad (who is awesome) and in the very near future we’re going to go on camping trips with both his family and then mine. Summer will be great as long as he can come over everyday. We’ll spend the first month of vacation looking forward to those Yankees games in Cleveland we’re going to in late July with his dad, my dad and possibly one of my brothers.

Which reminds me of another thing. Our school’s baseball teams haven’t had a single game yet, but I’ve already seen Robby play baseball twice. The other day after track practice, I headed over to the baseball field and watched him play for an hour without him knowing. I saw his dad too, but neither of them knew I was there. When I went into the JV dugout to say goodbye to him, the look on his face was one I’ll never forget. When he told his dad later that I had been there, his reply was: “why didn’t she come over and see me?!?!?” That’s when I knew, once again, that I’ve got it good.

Right now I’m listening to my playlist of songs that remind me of him. I just can’t get enough. I’m pretty sure he fell asleep, because he was supposed to call me at one o’clock, but that’s okay. We have a whole day stretching out ahead of us once I get my research paper done today. I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll see each other. I love that.

What every girl wants

My room situated in one of the four corners of the second floor (third if you count the basement as a floor); right in the front. I have two windows: one on the side of the house and one on the front. The side window looks out onto the roof of our first-story garage right next door. The front window looks out to our walkway up to the porch and the driveway that leads up to that garage I just mentioned.

On Friday I decided that I would not be attending our optional Saturday practice the next day. I made up my mind to sleep-in that day instead.

Like clockwork, Saturday morning I woke up at 8:00 without the help of an alarm (which I had promptly turned off the night before). I was pissed. I rolled over and fell asleep again.

I woke up the next time to “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!” and heard the sound of quick footsteps on the pavement in my driveway just below me. It took me a second to clear away the dreamy haze around my thoughts to decipher the meaning behind the shout and the footfalls. When I realized what was happening, I jumped right out of bed and ran downstairs. My dad beat me to the door, and just beyond it stood a group of boys covered in rainwater and showing it off on their naked upper bodies.

“Where’s Emily?!?” they called.

“She’s sleeping,” my dad replied.

“Umm…no I’m not!” I said and then stepped outside to confront my visitors.

The whole cross country team was beaming at me as I stood there in my sleeping shorts, old stained Super 8 shirt, and extreme bedhead (but, what did I care?). Kevin (the one who yelled the thing about Rapunzel) lifted me up to wake me up and left me soaked from the water on his body. They had run all the way from the school up to my road and figured they might as well drop in and say hi to me. Before they all ran off, I grabbed my boyfriend and kissed him.

I woke up to a group of shirtless boys standing on my front porch looking for me. That’s probably what every girl wants to wake up to in the morning. It sure did brighten my day considerably.

It all started with a record player

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a record player. I was ecstatic to find it at such a good price, and was beaming as I walked out of the store with the box in my arms.

When we got home, I immediately took it into the Living Room and set it up. My parents taught me how to use it and to be careful not to jump around whilst listening to it. My mother and I ventured into the cave (our basement) to retrieve some of their old records to bring back some of the past. We carried armload after armload upstairs to the Living Room and left them in stacks all around the room. I left the ones I bought earlier that day (Coheed & Cambria and a Fueled By Ramen package that were extremely cheap) on the couch and my dad and I had a look-see to pick out what I should listen to first.

I thought my brothers would think it cool for me to have purchased a record player, but they avoided me like I had the plague. They seemed pretty pissed off and jealous that I got to one first and because my parents’ old one needs a new needle thing. Trevor especially because I bought Coheed & Cambria. Because he likes them, I’m not allowed to. Oh well.

My dad sat on the couch as I rifled through stack after stack, holding record after record up seeking his approval. All of the ones with his name written on them were the ones approved – all of the ones with Barbra Streisand on the cover were kept in a pile that I would not listen to. Sorry, mom.

I have discovered a whole new music taste thanks to my record player (though it does have a CD player, radio and iPod hookup included, I tend to listen to records on it more). I found out that I love the bands Sweet, REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, The Knack, Boomtown Rats, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, London Town and some Pat Benatar. I still love Escape the Fate, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, and all of the other bands I have always loved, but I am now broadening my music taste. It’s cool to think that my parents played these records once at the same age I am now. I wish I could go back and meet the teenage versions of them. My mom and I would be identical, and I bet my dad and I would have fun listening to music together – just like we do now.