About me… seems so simple but to put me in words is a bit of a challenge. I’m a working professional outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I am a sister, a cousin, a daughter, and a devout aunt among other things. And that’s where my story begins…
God always seems to draw straight lines out of what seems to be a mess of decisions. Over the years, I’m not sure why I chose the paths that I did, but I do know I’m set on a course for a much bigger picture than I ever anticipated. Of course there are things I would like to change and do differently, but who wouldn’t, c’est la vie. My character, my attitude, my reasoning, and my understanding have been sculpted by these decisions, good or bad. I was once told, that I am so simple, I’m complicated. I believe it!
Let’s start with the basics, family, education, and interests. Then I’m sure my blog entries will reveal more about me as time passes.
Born to Rita and Ron Piper on December 12, 1975, ironically, I was their sixth wedding anniversary gift. My sister Nicole is 21 months older than me, and my brother, Ryan was 21 months younger than me. Yep, you guessed it, I’m the middle child, the typical forgotten middle child. The whole family is Catholic except my dad who is Lutheran. I am a practicing Catholic, not perfect but I do try my best. I never met my mom’s mom, she died when my mom was 15 years old and her dad died when I was about five years old. My pappy, dad’s dad died when I was in the fifth grade. My fraternal grandmother is still kicking.
Going to Sacred Heart School, which was a small catholic elementary school (unfortunately, the school closed some years ago but the building is still in use) in Youngstown, PA helped build my mental and spiritual foundation. I walked to and from school everyday with my sister, brother and cousins through winter, rain or shine. It was about seven tenths of a mile downhill to school and the same distance going home up the ridge. – and no that’s not an exaggeration, we really did walk to and from school from kindergarten through sixth grade.
My class size consisted of 10 students, eight girls and two boys including myself. I had to wear a green plaid jumper and a blouse everyday, except on field trips. Religion class was always the 1st period of the day, except Fridays we went to church. We prayed and said the pledge of allegiance first thing every morning, prayed before and after lunch, prayed before going home and of course depending on the season said our prayers for lent, advent etc. And of course I always went to church Sunday morning with my family.
Until recently, I never realized what a great education I received at Sacred Heart, and how much that school influenced me. Being taught by mostly nuns, the school in general was very disciplined and was conducted with high expectations. We were one of the first schools in the area to use computers, the old apples with cassette tapes before floppy disks. We didn’t use the computers as part of classroom teaching, but as a reward, we were allowed to play hotdog stand. A game I loved! Sometimes the teacher would show us how to punch in different code to make the computer dance with multi-colored lines on the monitor.
All the basic classes were very similar to public schools, but the extra education we received was exceptional. Besides learning to the play the recorder, square dance, and play a killer game of kickball, we were very well trained in our prayers, poems, and songs. I don’t have statistics but if a poll was taken, I bet we would prove to be advanced in at least math, reading and history, at least at that time. The only thing I could say we missed out on, were sports. But me being not much of a sports fan, I didn’t miss anything.
After Sacred Heart School, I became a proud wildcat, graduating from Greater Latrobe High School. Periodically, I made my appearances on the honor roll and even the high honors. My favorite classes included art, history, French, and I took a theater class that I really enjoyed. I spent a lot of time in the art room, especially when we were working with clay. I became rather good at throwing pieces on the wheel, probably because it’s a faster process than sculpting. My art teacher in high school showed me how to mix glazes and test them on different pottery, keeping a journal of the glaze formulas and how they turned out when fired. Sometimes my teacher would let me help load and unload the kiln. I can’t even explain the excitement that builds when your glazed piece was fired and ready to be displayed for everyone to see.
I also participated in extra curricular activities such as the Marching Band Colorguard for four years, the Winterguard for four years, and the Indoor drum line (Colorguard) my senior year. Being part of the marching band gave me traveling opportunities otherwise I would have never experienced. I went to Nashville, were I got to walk on the Grand Ole Opry stage and record God Bless the U.S.A. in an actual recording studio; I went to New York City where I saw The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade where everyone cheered Rolling Rock “33”, participated in Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and saw real life hookers; I went to Orlando where I marched through Epcot Center, danced on Pleasure Island, and went to a luau where I was chosen to dance on stage and later I accidentally walked into the mens restroom; and I went to Toronto where sat in a tub in an actual castle and spent the day in the hospital after passing out and hitting my head. (I was fine I had an ear infection and I frequently used to pass out). I competed at West Virginia University in Bands of America, where I got my finger stuck in a bus seat armrest and thought I broke it; and I went to Wild Wood New Jersey to compete in the Indoor Drum line where there was an unfortunate toilet paper incidence that almost had me sent home before I could compete. I loved my high school days and I would go back to them in a heartbeat.
Upon graduating from high school, I moved to Pittsburgh with a friend of mine. I would have gone straight to college, but I didn’t want to take out student loans and I wanted to live my life. After about a year, I moved back home and started to take classes at the community college, eventually transferring to Seton Hill University (it was the College then). From the time I moved to Pittsburgh until about five years ago that’s where the straight lines seemed tangled but really proved beneficial to me in the long run.
Graduating from Seton Hill University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Marketing didn’t seem to be enough for employment. So I went back to college to receive my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design to make me more marketable and knowledgeable, not to mention I loved art and art history. I’ve always worked, sometimes multiple jobs. To get me through college I loaded trucks at UPS at night and bartended and waited on tables in the evening and on weekends. Sleep was secondary, but again a good character builder.
My spare time consists of activities such as running, reading, snowboarding, and traveling. Running a marathon is on my list of goals, but for now I enjoy running 5k and 10k races. I have quite an eclectic assortment of reading interests that encompass fiction, politics, biographies, and management/business books. Snowboarding and traveling certainly go hand-in-hand. When the snow is falling, I can be found on the slopes locally and throughout the United States. Whether I am traveling to the top of a mountain to snowboard or walk through the streets of Europe visiting museums, I love to travel no matter the reason. I have traveled to England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Wales, Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States including Alaska.
In my past life, I trained in Tang Soo Do (karate) and Haidong Gumbo (sword) where I am a cho dan (black belt) in both disciplines. I even had the opportunity to compete in the 2002 World Haidong Gumbo Championships in the Republic of South Korea. I trained and traveled there for 2 weeks were I was taught by the worlds best masters, to cut straw and bamboo.
I never really cared much for children, maybe my little cousins, but I was never the type who understand children, nor did I care. That is until Kyle came along. When Ryan told me I was going to be an aunt, I really had no idea what that meant, I didn’t know the gift God gave us. Children are really something. If you step back and really open your ears, mind and your heart, a child has a lot to say and they have a unique way of teaching. I was very excited for Ryan and I made sure that I was there at the hospital when that beautiful 6lb. 10oz. baby boy was born. Ryan asked me to be his godmother, a job I take very seriously. And so the story of Kyle and Heather begins…