Archive for the ‘Moi’ Category

The elephant in the room

So, Dorothee, where the heck ya been?

The short and mostly true answer is that I’ve been working. Always working.

But the more complete answer is that I’ve been mired in ever-growing anxiety about what to do about this place. As I’ve mentioned a couple times since I got home, it’s hard when I’ve built an identity around yearning for Pittsburgh from afar to refocus on considering Pittsburgh from within. So hard, in fact, that I’ve gone months and months without even trying, and like that email that you mean to send to an old friend but take some time getting around to, the longer I go without having anything to say, the more ashamed I become and the longer still it becomes.

What I knew all along that I didn’t want was to make this site, “Dear Pittsburgh Diary, Today I went to Taj Mahal for lunch, then went shopping at Giant Eagle. Maybe I’ll make mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner…” My private life is two things: 1. private, and 2. boring. Neither you nor I really wants for me to write much about it. And when I was Out of the ‘Burgh, I could commentate (not a word) on life here without being autobiographical about it, but now, much of what I can say about Pittsburgh is just my life in it. I’m not an insider to anything worth hearing about (except for one aspect of ‘Burgh life, about which I can’t, or at least shouldn’t, opine, due to the jay-oh-bee). It’s all neighborhood walks, making dinner, potholes, wishing I still had heated seats in my car, and WTF-Steelers-didn’t-make-the-playoffs. Private/boring.

So I just disappeared. I guess in my indictment of Pittsburgh’s lousy self-esteem, I forgot to turn the mirror toward myself – I figured no one was paying attention and no one would even notice I had gone. Imagine my surprise when I got a kind note from Woy, letting me know I was missed.

Thanks, yinz, for noticing. While I was feeling like I owed you more than the mundane details of my life, I forgot that I also owe you a little check-in now and then. How ’bout I try to keep up with twitter, where I don’t have to feel so clever and insightful, and I’ll be back here if I ever get interesting again? I think I can handle that, if you can.


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Good morning

It almost seems like it was all a dream. Like I just woke up from a 3 year dream in which I lived in Texas to find myself driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel in a thunderstorm. So much more is the same than is different, most of all how I feel. It’s as if the last 3 years just fell away and left the same simple girl who walked to her neighborhood bar for wings and beer and the Stanley Cup playoffs, and all was right with the world.

Yesterday evening I manufactured a reason to drive around town, listening to the music I listened to the last time I lived here, and it truly felt as if no time had passed at all. When you leave a place, it is frozen in that moment for you – how painful it must be to return to a beloved place and find that it has left behind that home of memory and is all but unrecognizable. I don’t think that can ever happen to Pittsburgh. Even when it’s different, it’s the same.

And I realize something else. I’m not sure who I am now, in the context of this blog. I had this whole identity centered on being far away, and being back sort of takes the wind out of those sails. Sure, I can probably get some more mileage out of the whole, “Wow, everything looks the same except that new Qdoba near my house!” thing, but the fact is that I never really wanted to say too much about me and my actual life experiences. I planned to talk more about what it means to be part of the diaspora, how to remember and honor the place where you come from. I don’t want to become a metaphor – the enthusiastic, outward-focused, cheerleading, all-too-brief O’Connor era gives way to the selfish, childish, mind-numbingly unhelpful Ravenstahl era. No one wants to read an index of all the banal stuff I do now that I’m back in Pittsburgh, any more than they want to read someone’s name on garbage cans.

But I don’t know yet how I’m going to keep this blog from becoming a garbage can. I don’t know where I fit. Who am I, now that I’m no longer Out of the ‘Burgh?

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The final countdown

Tomorrow I leave Austin, TX, forever.

Things that I will miss: Nephew and his parents, PF’s, Tex-Mex food.

Things that I will not miss: Everything else.

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Last night I arrived in Pittsburgh for a long-overdue visit with Mr. TR, and today I had the disconcerting experience of being treated like a tourist.

First, Mr. TR and I went by the insurance office to finalize our homeowners’ policy for the house we’ll be closing on next month. I had commented myself when we got dressed this morning – he in his Fleury jersey and I in my Clemente t-shirt – that anywhere else we’d look like we were trying too hard, but in the ‘Burgh we just look normal, so I was taken aback when the receptionist (who didn’t seem to have great people skills anyway, for a receptionist) remarked, “You’re really getting into the relocation thing, aren’t you?” Not entirely sure how to respond to that, I opted for the direct route. “We’re moving back,” was my only explanation, which satisfied her. 

Stranger still was lunch at Primanti, which went fine until I ordered my I.C. Light (yeah, go ahead, laugh) and the waitress asked for my ID. I handed over my Texas driver’s license, which was met with suspicion. After a long minute of looking back and forth between me and the license (which admittedly resembles more a frequent shoe-shopper card from DSW than a form of legal identification), she finally said she’d have to show it to her manager.


I guess my out-of-state identification was satisfactory to the manager, because the server did return with beer, along with a slight sense of mistrust. Had we been there before?, she wanted to know. Did we need our sandwiches explained to us? We’re okay, we reassured her – Mr. TR even ordered his sandwich with egg, which did seem to break the ice a bit. By the end of the meal, it seems the Texas ID debacle was forgotten, and we were treated with the same benign neglect one expects from any normal visit to Primanti’s. 

Perhaps we seemed too normal to really be from Texas.

I was struck, however, by the strength of my reaction to being viewed as an outsider. I almost desperately wanted to explain myself, why I belong here, why you’d be wrong to make judgments about me based on my driver’s license. But I didn’t. It’s easier to show people than tell them – I’m no Primanti virgin.

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So, what’s up with you?


I hope you’re doing well.

Mr. TR drove away today with our pets and all our stuff. Goodbye pets. Goodbye stuff. Goodbye husband.

Hello rented room.

And I thought I was ready to get back to Pittsburgh before? That was nothin’.

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Good morning Pittsburgh. Time to find out if I can still be funny and interesting while I’m here.

I woke up before my alarm yesterday, which was set for 3:30 CST. Threw on a sweater (yes!) and waited for Mrs. PF to pick me up at 4:00. I owe her a kidney. She played The Clarks in the car on the way to the airport, because she is funny.

The first flight was easy – at 5:45, we were one of the first flights out of Oz-tin, and the plane was practically empty. I had a whole row to myself, as Mr. TR drove up earlier in the week to bring bedding and home-repair tools in the car. Once we got to Atlanta and its hot mess of an airport, things went downhill fast. Our flight was oversold, the plane was held for delayed connecting passengers, and when we finally got in line to take off, we were informed by the condescending flight attendant that we were 25th in line for departure and could expect another 45 minutes of taxiing. At the same time, he reminded us that we could not lay our seats back, use our tray-tables, use any electronic anything, or get up to pee. I was forced to actually talk to the stranger next to me.

So I conducted a little trick, er, experiment. Once I ascertained that she lives here in Pittsburgh, I let her tell me all about it. I didn’t ever exactly lie, but when I told her that I was moving to the ‘Burgh for a job, she just assumed that I was moving here for the first time and could use some advice. Which was amusing as hell.

She warned me that it is hard to find my workplace. She told me that the neighborhoods where I’m looking for houses are “too city-like” and I should look in the suburbs where houses hold their value. She recommended visiting Wholey’s if I go to The Strip, and she pronounced it “Hole-eys.” She also recommended Primanti Bros sandwiches (she wasn’t sure where they were located), but she warned me that they would put everything I order on the sandwich – “even coleslaw!” – unless I asked them not to. I just smiled and nodded, and felt sorry for the next poor schmuck who gets her advice and actually tries to order a Primanti sandwich without all that extra crap on it.

Once we finally arrived in Pittsburgh, however, everything was okay. As okay as it has ever been. I’m home. I’m happy.

There’s a kind of peace that comes with being at home that is totally unique. You just feel safe. Mr. TR and I drove around yesterday to look at houses (after we had Primanti’s, complete with – gasp – coleslaw), and at one point we weren’t completely sure we were going the right way. I said, “Just keep going. How lost can we get? We’re in Pittsburgh.”

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On Facebook now.

All from the pent-up energy of wanting to get back to the ‘Burgh.

I’m going to be so boring once I’m happily at home.

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