That Time (almost) No One Came to my High School Graduation Party

On Wednesday, May 25, 1988, I received my diploma from West Mifflin Area High School, a blue-collar suburb of Pittsburgh. A few weeks later, my parents had a graduation party for me as thousands of parents had done before. We had lots of food, tons of canned pop, and almost no guests. I don’t have […]

Sundays in the Cemeteries of Pittsburgh

We’ve been pondering how to get outside, meander, and get a change of scenery. Our solution – visit cemeteries. I decided to map out cemeteries where our ancestors and extended family are buried. Our first trip was to St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Lawrenceville. We found the graves of two of my third great-grandmothers, Mary […]

#MasQUeUp to protect your family on this 15th Annual #LGBTQFamiliesDay

June is here and that always means it is time to blog about #LGBTQ families in partnership with Mombian blog and the Family Equality Council. I struggle to find a topic this year, more from having so many options than a surfeit of ideas.So I’m picking this one – our Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT.We create opportunities […]

A mother’s love

Content Note: sexual violence, mental illness, family violence I was born on October 22, 1970. By mid-July 1971, my mother was pregnant again with my brother. Somewhere during that time, she was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. I was left with my paternal grandparents. By my third birthday, we were all reunited under the same […]

Day 32

KDKA kittens

It is clear from this series of diary posts that my ability to county is not on-point. We started our quarantine/self-isolating on March 17, 2020. That’s when Laura was told to work from home and when the City and County orders were in effect. So today is day 32. Our fifth week of hunkering down […]

My family has had decades to break their silences.

“Do you feel comfortable sharing family stories about living people?” is a question I am frequently asked, particularly when I’ve just published a post about my trauma work.  I never feel comfortable or good about revisiting trauma infused stories, but not because I might upset someone in my family. The only exception is the other […]

The Xmas When I Grew Up Too Fast

Content Note: childhood, family dynamics, shame When I was either a little girl about 5 or 6 years old, I wanted a baby doll that wet its diaper for Christmas. This was somewhere between 1975-77. I was quite thrilled when Santa brought me that doll. It wasn’t quite as fancy as some of the other […]

My Western Pennsylvania Snow Globe

Author’s note: My name is Rachel, and I consider myself to be the product of a typical Pennsylvanian upbringing. Fire hall marriages with cookie tables, going to Idlewild Park on a hot summer day, and eating home-made gobs on my back porch, are all things that I remember from my childhood. I am transgender, and […]

I Chose the Aunt Life

Last night, our friends and their kids had dinner with us then came over to hang out with the kittens. During our meal, the elder asked me why and how we are their aunts because we aren’t related to them. That opened a conversation about choosing family and that we chose to be involved in […]

Ten Thanksgivings Without My Family

Thanksgiving placesetting

Content Note : trauma, neglect, family rejection, mental illness I don’t clearly remember the details of the last holiday meal I spent with my parents, but I know it was ten Thanksgivings ago. We were at Laura’s mother’s house and they were late. I was struggling mightily with mental health symptoms and not admitting yet […]