Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Post About Nothing

I have nothing really to write about because I'm not doing anything much.  And who's fault is that?  Mine.  And mine alone.

Here I sit:  watching the Pens in a tight one against the Toronto Maple Leafs about to go to overtime.  Seems like only a few days ago I was doing the same thing.  Oh, that's because I was.  Same teams, same location (Toronto), same Bat Channel.  Only difference is that I had a migraine the other day.  I think it's official:  I'm a real hockey fan if I'll struggle to stay up to watch a regular season game when my head is going nuclear.  They don't play tomorrow.  That's okay:  the American Idol results show is on.  Friday night I have to juggle Fringe AND a hockey game.  Oooh, Ms. Excitement!

I've been considering my situation here lately.  Whatever courage I managed to pull together to make this move has seemed to abandon me.  I leave my little house only under very specific circumstances.  Twice since I've been here my lovely Philly friend has driven all the way across the state to rescue from my seclusion and take me around the city.  Twice I've taken the leap to try and drive down to my cousin's in little Washington (and twice I've gotten horribly lost in the process).  Other than that, I venture out when I need groceries or something for the house.  And now that most of the unpacking is done, that's really only for groceries.  And I look like I'm stocked for Armageddon.  I tend to stock up to such a degree that I have to store things in the garage.  I literally went two weeks without going to the grocery store before I had to break down and get some things last Friday.  Trust me, if you knew our shopping habits back in Texas, you would be amazed at that statement.  If I can order it on the Internet instead of going out for it, I totally do it.

It's weird.  I haven't been this way since Kelsey was born, when I went through this variation of post-partum depression which made me afraid to leave the house.  Once I was out the door, I was fine, but getting me there was not so easy.  This isn't exactly the same, but close.  I don't have an issue walking Cheyenne around our area, and I take some relish taking different routes daily to peek at houses I haven't seen before.  But, I always am a mile or less from the house; it hardly counts as an outing - it's walking the dog so she can pee.  It's like washing the dishes or scrubbing the toilet, it's a task that is required.

With someone else leading the way, I'm fine.  I loved my latest outing over the weekend with my lovely young friend and her boyfriend, who wanted to try Vento's Pizza.  For anyone really deeply steeped in Steeler lore, that means something to you.  And I had the absolute thrill to meet Al Vento himself, who is an utterly charming man.  Then, the next day, I had fun with my cousin watching the Oscars.  Always a big deal for me, the woman who once dreamed of being a movie critic, it was amazing to find someone in my own family who feels the same way.  I've had some memorable moments already when I do leave the house behind.

This is an incredible city.  Yes, it's got some incredibly bad aspects, but for the most part I picked it carefully.  There is so much that is waiting for me out there.  So, what's the problem?

I cannot find my way out of a paper bag.  That's the problem.  I am so afraid of getting lost, I'm nearly paralyzed.  I drove all the way here, yet I sometimes wonder how I did it.  And my complete and total lack of direction is coming face-to-face with what has to be the most confusing city on the continent.  It's old, it's built around three rivers that flow around winding foothills, and it seems to have an aversion to street signs.  When your GPS is telling you to head northwest on [Fill in Blank] Street for .7 miles and you look up from your spot in the gas station parking lot and don't see anything that says [Fill in Blank], and as a matter of fact don't see anything remotely labeling any street, it's hard for someone like me to cope.  And then there's the famous case where the GPS told me to go east on a street the other day that runs north and south.  I was warned that GPS is markedly unreliable in the area.  It is.  I can attest to it first hand now.  But without it, I'd probably be somewhere at the bottom of the Ohio River right now - eventually it helps me out of whatever jam I've placed myself in.  So, God Bless Google Maps.

But, getting lost is very stressful for me.  There are a lot of reasons for that.  Some are stupid, some are a little more realistically prudent.  Suffice it to say, I hate it almost more than anything.  You would think I would develop some tools to avoid it in that case, but my head just doesn't seem screwed on in a way that I can grasp any sense of direction, despite having a compass in my rear view mirror and a GPS equipped phone.  To avoid that stress, I've tended to hold up in the house, watching lots of hockey and working.  In the meantime, the city teems around me.  Museums, an amazing zoo, parks, ferry rides along the rivers, unique shopping areas, etc. and so on.  All the things that drew me here are going on without me.  Pardon me, but it pisses me off.

I don't mind doing things on my own.  I was an only child of older parents.  I am used to keeping my own company.  I just would like to know where I'm going while I'm doing it.  But, how can I ever learn my way around if I don't get out there and look?  How can I ever top meeting the co-founder of Franco's Italian Army - like maybe meeting Franco himself - if I'm watching television in my basement? I can't.

I am determined that, on the other side of the weekend, I'll have something to write about.


  1. Oh my dear, leaving my apartment in Philly has only recently become a "deal" instead of a HUGE deal. And I'm so much worse because I have a stupid tiny little backyard that I often force my dog to pee in before or after I chase her around the house for exercise...
    I will say this, and I don't think I've said it before, or stressed how much I miss it: If you are lost in Pittsburgh people will "help" you. Often they may give you terrible directions, but never, in all of my life has someone not tried to be of assistance when I've been lost in that city. And, as a rule, people driving behind you are respectful when you pull over to talk to someone, even on a street where it's impossible for them to pass. More than likely - that driver will try and help.
    My Mom used to take wrong turns on purpose if we were out of our element just to see where roads would take us - I hated it! But now, I admire the adventurous nature within her, and apparently in me too. So from now on, don't fear getting lost, accept that you probably will, and call it exploring. There is little logic to be found in Pittsburgh geography, but every once in a while you will discover a way that quite possibly no one else has from A to B, because that's just the way the city works. So much love from Philly, will miss you and reading your words while we try not to get murdered in Mexico.

  2. I HATE getting lost. It is so damn aggravating. When I lived in Cali, I never got lost cuz I always knew where the ocean was. When I moved to Austin - no ocean. Things were built in loops for godsake, and had three or four names, Mopac, Loop 1, Research, 183, Keonig, 2222 - just give it ONE name so the rest of us can find it! Couldn't trust landmarks either because they would build the same three restaurants next to each other in multiple locations. Whose idea was that? And godforbid you take the wrong exit because you will have to drive for 10 miles on the frontage road to turn the hell around and drive the same 10 miles back the way you came. Thanks for that, Crazy Texas Highway Planner.

    Well, there is the old reliable stand by - Thomas Guide. The great thing about a Thomas Guide is that if you do get lost you can always just index where you are and go from there. God Bless Rand McNally. Anyway, it sounds to me it would work better than your GPS. It served me well when I moved to Austin (and got a job at a property management company that had me driving all over the place :)There is also Mass Transit. Let the bus drivers show you how to get around. Hmmm. You need incentive - go to the movies or a book store every other day - BUT, you have to go to a different one in a different direction each time. You may get lost, but you will have the reward of a movie or book. Or you could just do what that old movie actress did (I can't remember her name) - she only made right turns. So if she had to go somewhere she would get out a map and find a way to get there making only right turns. So, just drive 5 miles and make a right, 5 and a right, etc. That way you start to learn the layout and you can't get lost - all you have to do is turn around and go 5 and left, 5 and left.

    You are gonna have to tell me if you do that - it sounds kinda weird and fun. You could write a post about what you find: "The Right Stuff"