All posts by Kolleen Mueller

Recent graduate adjusting to the real world and writing about the adventures, failures, and new beginnings that come with adulthood.

Crying for Strangers

Winter decided to come early and stick around here in Northeast Ohio. We had 15 inches on the Northside of my hometown that created a parking lot out of the main streets. Normally when it snows this early on, It melts and there’s not much until Christmas. Well that’s definitely not the case and last night until late morning we got more.

The roadways really weren’t bad this morning, just wet. It was a little slow and snowy, but no problems. About half way into my commute I saw a horrific crash with half a dozen cops, two ambulances and two firetrucks. I gasped and immediately lost it. I don’t know what it is about strangers or people I know through association, but I couldn’t help but cry for this person in the overturned car. Maybe it’s me reflecting on things that have happened to me or family that’s still fresh, but I can’t help but cry dor them and their family.

Recently, we’ve had family trauma as my cousin, only 19, was diagnosed with non Hogkins lymphoma on his birthday. He’s been doing great with his battle after just 3 months, but this week has been a little bit of a struggle.

Six short weeks ago, my dad’s cousin and best friend was killed along side his brother in a construction accident. I didn’t know his other cousin as well as Cousin Mike,  but it had a great affect on me as these two men were only 54 and 56 with families left behind. Last week we got word from their family again, in Oklahoma,  that a third brother had a heart attack and died while driving. The shock and horror that my dad’s cousin’s family has most likely felt in the past 2 months is insurmountable. One of the hardest parts of all of this is yesterday I opened my dad’s journal (in plain sight, by the way) and turned to September 20th. It read, “One of the ugliest days of my entire life. Mike and Dan were killed in a construction accident when the crane toppled over. One of the hardest calls I made was to Michelle  (Mike’s wife) to check on her and she is trying to cope and comprehend the whole thing.” My dad is not one to talk about his emotions, but here too he is someone I cry for. When something doesn’t directly effect you personally it can still have a dramatic effect on you.

So, I pray for that person in the flipped over car and his/her family.

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Visiting our Nation’s Capital

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Mirrors made from old tiles in Eastern Market

I’ve had several trips to the capital before, but the timing of this one made it something special. My college friend, a local Washingtonian, had welcomed me into her very small, but quaint home for the weekend. On my other two family trips to our main goal was to see as many monuments and Smithsonians as we could. My main goal of this trip was to avoid museums, monuments and Smithsonians as much as possible.

We lucked out with some seriously beautiful weather!
We lucked out with some seriously beautiful weather!

We woke up Saturday and headed for Union Station. We walked briefly by the capital, allowing for one picture, which was under construction so not much to see there anyway. Our destination was Eastern Market where we walked around and looked at crafts and food. Although by far out of our price range, it was really neat to see what the locals had created. One man had pictures from places all around the world that he had taken personally and were now for sale. We stopped for food at a small place called Prego Deli. My friend hadn’t been their either, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. We stopped in a small bookstore that was so crowded the books were shoved in every empty slot there was. A brief walk through Chinatown and we headed to the White House to eat our paninis. The usual demonstrators strayed us from sitting there long, so we headed back to her house and ended the night with Peronis and pizza then off to the bars.

Eisenhower Building behind the White House
Eisenhower Building behind the White House

Sunday we walked around the city of Georgetown and to the University. The University was remarkable with all it’s old buildings. It was a relatively quiet campus compared to the streets of Georgetown with it’s lines of people waiting to get a cupcake at Georgetown Cupcake. The houses in Georgetown are beautiful and quaint. Beyond the hustle and bustle of the main street, it was very quiet and calm in the neighborhood areas.

In a post I wrote about a year ago, I explained that I had a fairly severe anxiety disorder that has lessened overtime and how important my solo trip to Richmond, VA was to me. So, on Monday I set out completely by myself and sort of just wandered. I surprised myself with my ability to navigate and how comfortable I felt just walking around the streets alone, even when when I told my mom she was shocked at how unlike me it was. I walked around the National Zoo and down to Dupont Circle and just kept aimlessly walking. I picked up a salad at Sweetgreen and with no where else to go, I decided to head towards the White House. Once I got near all the monuments it dawned on me how truly miraculous all of them were. Each one had it’s own spectacular thing about them and I was able to spend however long I wanted at each and I think I was able to appreciate it more than when I was 9 or even 19.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, World War II Memorial
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, World War II Memorial

Being the day before Veterans’ Day, there were Veterans everywhere. My first stop at the World War II memorial had World War II Vet sharing stories with a young couple. The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial had more tourists groups, but the Vietnam War Memorial had tons of Vets. I passed a dad explaining to his young children what the memorial was all about and it’s importance to the US and made my way down to the rows and rows of names etched into the black granite. There were so many Vets with their Vietnam Veteran hats on standing by the wall. wpid-img_20141110_213847.jpgAs a civilian, I could never imagine serving in a war where so many of my friends and family never came home. My hat really truly does go off to these men and women who served and the men and women who continue to protect our country today. I think as a civilian, we tend to take for granted those who serve because we don’t always directly see how great of an impact they on our freedom on a daily basis. So today, on Veterans’ Day, take the time to thank those you know who have served or are currently serving and respect those who keep us free day after day.

Happy Veterans day and thank you to all the men and women of our United State Military.

I think I need to Stop Dating for Awhile

In high school, I was very anti-dating. I didn’t really want anything to do with boys, they caused drama and changed my friends when they entered relationships with them. Sure I flirted as much as the next 17 year old girl, but they just weren’t for me. I kinda did whatever I pleased for my entire freshman year of college with boys I like here and there, but nothing ever serious.

By the summer after Freshman year, I had my first boyfriend who was kind and sweet and everything I thought I wanted. 7 months later I found myself trying to figure out ways to get out of the relationship because I just wanted to be single. I didn’t like having to answer to someone or check-in with someone or having that person get jealous when I hung out with my guy friends. So again by the end of my sophomore year, I was just doing what I pleased. I dated a guy who ultimately ended up cheating on me, which hurt more than the actual relationship ending. I had lots of other guys that I was “seeing” throughout college, but nothing ever serious. My ex and I gave it another go my senior year, with it ending just 3 short months later. Even after him telling me he “just wasn’t in love with me anymore” I had a second of hurt and then returned to being single and just doing what I wanted. After senior year, I dated another guy which ended brutally because he was friends with my ex. Another boyfriend here and there and “talking” to some guy a state away for 3 months, I’ve found myself in yet a relationship type of situation. I’ve been seeing this guy for about a month, after my 3 month conversation with my dream man ended.

I’ve never been the relationship type, but this guy I am seeing is. He has had three serious girlfriends all lasting over two years. Bottomline, that scares the hell out of me. I’m super happy when I’m with him and we have a lot of fun, but when we’re not I don’t really want to talk to him every second of the day or even find it annoying when he texts me again after getting no response from me. So, five weeks in I’m already second guessing myself. Is this what I want? Am I settling? Am I too far into whatever this is to back away now?

Yesterday’s brunch with two of my Cleveland transplant friends really has me thinking even more than before. I trust these girls with all my problems and concerns even though I’ve only known them a short while. Both similar to me in relationships, the willingness to be independent, ambitious in their careers and overall personalities. Both of them had me thinking that this is not the time for me to be in a relationship of any sort. One of them even said, “Maybe it’s time to stay away from boys for a little.”

I am ok with being alone, but I have never not been connected to someone. Always having someone to text, someone who will always want to answer my calls, someone who is awaiting my texts or calls. Essentially, I need to disconnect myself from the dating world and be by myself. I need to be my 17 year old self with a text message limit and the strong desire to be independent.

How long is forever young?

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I spent this past weekend with some of my closest friends in the best place on earth, but during all the partying at my alma mater I had to wonder how long am I allowed to keep this up? This was now my second Homecoming as an alumnus and the feeling I had driving away from campus last year holds the same, “This chapter of my life is over and I’m truly not a college student anymore.”

Being in that atmosphere made me fall back into all my old habits of drinking, staying up late, eating drunk food, old hookups and old mistakes. Homecoming is one of the greatest weekends in Athens, but is there a point that we are just too old for all this? I spent the entire weekend barely sleeping and

It’s OK to be single and 23

The other day I had a conversation with one of my college friends about being single. Her and I had both recently ended our “summer flings” with guys we knew from the beginning wouldn’t work out. Hers was an undergrad med student and mine an engineer I met briefly who lived 5 hours away and we managed to keep up whatever we had for nearly 4 months. Lots of our friends are in relationships, some long term some not so long term, but we both agreed that there is this stigma in today’s society that maybe girls put on themselves that we aren’t supposed to be single. As 23 year olds we should be seeking out possible suitors or in long term relationships. What happened to being young, single and just plain ok with it?

Guys our age have this bachelor attitude towards life that makes them not want to settle down and “play the field”, but why can’t 20-something women do the same thing? There is something (which I have yet to figure out) about society that makes us have this old maid complex towards single women. We all think our biological clock is ticking and we better settle down now because we’re getting “old”. The thing is we’re not and the girls who think that are rushing into relationships solely for the reason of being in a relationship. Women can be just as career driven as men, want just as much freedom as men, and do whatever we damn well please. The problem is, most women my age don’t think that way. Even if they’re not ready for a relationship they are more than eager to jump into one for the sake of being able to say at the next family function they’re dating someone.

The point on this topic is to make 20 something women see that it is ok to be single and there is nothing wrong with it. Some people may find it when they’re young and it may last them a lifetime, but it’s just not for everyone. Find who you are before you’re on the hunt for someone else. It really isn’t a race and there is no prize for the first to cross the finish line. Live your life, don’t worry about when you’ll get married, you shouldn’t be concerned about your biological clock because when something is supposed to happen it will. Forcing things is only asking for a failure and I’ve seen too many friends make that mistake by trying to force things with the wrong people.

Be single, be free, and be just plain ok with it.

Railroad town

I’ve written about this before, but this morning I got to go with my grandpa to his usual breakfast spot in the little town where my parents grew up. We recently had to take away the truck keys from my grandpa since he has become a danger to himself and others when it comes to driving. It’s a very hard concept for him to understand because it was his last stitch of freedom. As a farmer, driving has been in every part of his life. Someone has takes him to breakfast every morning where a group of his friends have met for over 15 years.

I volunteered to take him this morning since it was visiting for the weekend. We drove through town in the dark and rain headed to Dell’s. The train tracks around Cleveland are not like the ones here, here they are bumpy, uneven, and you have to go about 5 mph to cross. The only thing my grandpa said on the way into town As he shrugged was,

Guess it’s just a railroad town.

We walked in and everyone greeted him, by name asked where he picked me up at and introduced his granddaughter. A group of older men sat at a table leaving the seat at the head of the table for my grandpa. None of them needed a menu and coffee was promptly delivered when we sat down. Little to no words about what they were going to eat were exchanged and breakfast was served. The group of men that sat there talked of farming, new buildings and the weather. I chimed in every once in while, but enjoyed just listening to the conversation.

I had never gone to breakfast with my grandpa, at least not early in the morning with his group of friends. Being able to do this means the world to me. My grandparents are one of the reasons I’m not ready to move away and they are two of the most important people in my life. Being able to take him was so important to me because I was able to be a part of something he does every day. I cherish these moments and love hearing about old times and being a part of their life.

Remembering 9/11

My office is comprised of a lot of people who are well over 20 years my senior. Today, many of them have asked me “Do you even remember 9/11?”. I was only 10 when the towers fell that day, but I do still remember it. Now, overtime as I grew older I became to realize the actually severity of the situation and the heartbreak and unrest it caused for many Americans. I’m not much of a politician, but I believe that the new threat with ISIS has brought lots of these memories back to the fateful day 13 years ago.

As a 5th grader nestled in a Cleveland suburb, not much was told to us about what was going on. Teachers seemed a little bit frantic and a couple of kids were pulled out of school, but I don’t think I was every really aware of what was going on. That afternoon when I got off the bus, my best friend and neighbor said to her mom, “Mom, tell her about the planes. Tell her about the planes.” My best friend’s mom said I needed to go home and hear it from my Mom. I still didn’t really get what was going on until my sister, a then senior in high school, turned off the TV and sat me down to tell me that a really tall building with lots of people in it in New York City had been hit by an airplane. Now, as a 10 year old I didn’t really understand what a terrorist was or why they would be flying planes into a building let alone 2 buildings, a field and the pentagon. I don’t think I even knew that the word terrorist even existed. How do you explain an attack on a free country to a child. Everyone was comparing their stories the next day at school, my sisters 8th grade trip was canceled, my classmates uncle was supposed to be in the pentagon that day, but his flight was delayed, my best friend’s Marine dad was getting deployed, as 10-11 year old kids we just wanted the best story. None of us really understood.

The stories, shows, movies, articles and TV specials that are played or written every September 11th help kids who were either too young or not born yet to understand the meaning of what it was like to lose so many lives of victims, volunteers and first responders that day. So although I was only 10, yes I do remember and yes it still has a meaning to me. I will never forget that day for as long as I live and I hope that I can pass on to my children the importance of remembering those who lost their lives on 9/11. For my generation, this was a entirely new concept of a tragedy and I hope that the importance of our country standing united,  the thankfulness for our free country and our military that keeps it that way can be passed on for generations to come.

#neverforget