Drama, delight and dismay in Pittsburgh. …

Sitting here wasted and wounded

At this old piano

Trying hard to capture the moment, but

This morning I don’t know

‘Cause a bottle of vodka’s still lodged in my head

And some blonde gave me nightmares

I think that she’s still in my bed

As I dream about movies

They won’t make of me

When I’m dead.”

— Bon Jovi, “Bed of Roses” —

Much like Jon Bon Jovi wrote the above lyrics during a hungover morning in a hotel room, here I sit, enjoying the silence during my second and final night at the Ramada, on a discounted stay won through being the highest bidder during a charity auction last year. Aaaah, hotels are so totally the way to go. I spent my first night in the ‘Burgh on Mom’s couch, and I’ll spend the next two nights there as well, but crashing at the hotel has been my dream vacation. Eatin’ Starbucks Java Chip ice cream, drinkin’ beer, scribblin’ in my notebook — this, my friends, is living.

This freedom came at a price, however. Although I love my mother and my grandfather dearly, well, they can be suffocating, sometimes. Shit, I felt guilty leaving to come to the hotel — that’s how good at inflicting guilt trips they can be (the Carnival Cruises of guilt trips, I assure you). Mom asked me to call her tonight (trust me, she’ll beat me to it — I work a lot slower than she does on the phone thing), but of anyone, I want to call Shan the most. I miss her — it’s like we have become such a unit that I feel like, now that we’re on separate coasts, that there’s a part of me somewhere that I can’t reach.

The drive here was TREACHEROUS. I decided, after I finished my last blog entry, to throw the cat in the car and brave Mother Nature, who was obviously, like me, PMSing like a madwoman. I told the family that I WASN’T going to attempt the commute, but that gave me time to do the drive slowly but surely, without them worrying where the hell I was. And sure enough, when I showed up on their doorstep, they were floored. I did NOT tell them about all the accidents, icy patches and blustery winds that damn near knocked the car off course. All I told them is that it took a full tank of gas to give the car enough power to make it one way (it usually takes no more than a quarter-tank, if that).

Ironically, they had just sat down to dinner, and well, I had called Mom from Breezewood to tell her to throw the turkey in the oven. She chose not to tell my grandfather, so when he was starting to eat his beautiful Xmas dinner, he said that the only thing that could possibly make the meal better would be if I were there. Awwww. So, ironically, on cue, I parked the car and ran in with the cat in her cage, and he looked so bloody thrilled to see me — it’s like he didn’t believe it were really me. Shit, I have always had perfect timing, and this was no exception. 🙂 And dinner rocked. Thanks, Mom!!!

At any rate, I crashed there, and did my thing for awhile. Mom and I ran around the next morning, hitting the so-called after-Xmas sales, but many stores were overstocked and unfortunately NOT lowering their prices enough to impress us. So I decided to check into the hotel, call Leslie (see previous entry) and go out, as we say, to play.

I invited Mom to spend tonight with me at the hotel, but as much as she wanted to come, I think she knew I needed a night alone. I am one of those people who is meant to live alone, and if I ever get married, I would likely want my own bedroom eventually. I felt guilty, though, because she seemed so bloody sad when I left, even though I assured her that I’d be back the next day. She had tears in her eyes, and I told her to save the tears for when I left the state (although I wasn’t looking forward to that watershed, either!). She fed me a yummy homemade lasagna dinner, and sent me on my way with my little shred of guilt packed with my ice cream. 🙂

Guilt aside, I figured, how often do I get a full night to myself? I am set on enjoying this, and pretending once again that I live in a fabulous one-bedroom apartment in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. It’s clean and cozy, and all I need is Maddie to make it complete, but she’s staying at Mom’s and probably planning to wreak havoc once they have gone to bed. 🙂 I wonder if Maddie has trouble sleeping when I’m not around, much like what happens to me when I am without that loveable bag of fur.

Went to see Kaufmann’s windows this evening — as usual, Jack did a fantastic job on bringing a brilliant series of animated figurines to life in a festive setting. I was particularly impressed with the replica of Christmas 1856, when President Franklin Pierce commanded the first tree for the Blue Room in the White House. Brilliant, as always. Nice work, Jack!

I also went up to Mount Washington, where I loved living for two years, and took some photos of the spectacular view of the cityscape that used to greet me every morning and evening. I have missed that view. When/if I bother getting the photos developed (and they actually look OK), I’ll post one, so you can appreciate what I USED to see every day of my life. I could call that the “before” photo, and post the “after” photo, as now I have a panoramic view of a 7-11 and a Mobil station. Quite the change, and this view (and the apt.) costs triple the money as the skyline view. Ugh. If I could just plop my OLD apartment (at its price) down here in Alexandria, I’d be set. And I can live with my photos of the skyline — maybe I should just blow them up and plaster them on the inside of my windows. 🙂 (Oh, god, how ghetto would that be? lol)

I had a scary experience, though, on the Mount. Went to my old ATM at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Shiloh Street, where I took out a paltry $25 to cover my hotel parking costs. A freaky guy stopped me as I went to my door — he was following me from the ATM to the car. I thought he was going to rob me (there were a lot of robberies/attacks in Pgh this season), but he told me that he wasn’t a robber or a beggar and wasn’t going to hurt me. Argh. But — he needed money because (insert bullshit story here). Something about freezing kids and a car with no gas. I deftly opened my door, but he kept sliming his way around car, inching closer to me, leaning on the vehicle. I figured he probably had a gun or a knife or something … why else was he creeping up to me, steadily bur surely? While I figured the story was a crock, I didn’t want to take any chances. I threw $5 at him and snapped, “Guess what? I’m poor too! But I hate Pittsburgh winters, and this is ONLY because you say your kids are cold. Hope this helps.”

As I jumped in the car, he came to my door, which I locked — he was yapping about Southern Avenue. Said something about wanting to “axe” me a question. (Insert random Dawn bitching here: Do NOT speak to me unless it’s in English, OK? Especially, when you’re a big scary guy of a different nationality, do NOT say the words “axe you” to me — unless you have one in your pocket and you’re trying to warn me!)

OK, commercial break over. 🙂

Anyway, he AXED me if I knew where Southern was — I figured he was gonna hijack me, if I did. So I said no, I’m from out-of-state. He said, “Don’t you be lyin’ — I know you know where it is.” I sped the hell off, at that point. I don’t even remember taking the emergency breake off — I just flew down the mountain as fast as the speed limit would allow.

That got me to thinking, all the way down McArdle Roadway as I admired the skyline one last time. I love the city and will cherish my time in it forever, but when a scary African-American man approaches you here, you pray for your life (and, in my case, run for it). Let me preface, my car was attacked in the ghetto, I’ve been followed and harassed on the streets, and I was also once jumped by a black man at the bus stop, although, ironically, an African-American teen-ager pulled him off of me). So I have earned my right to be nervous when somebody twice my size comes barreling toward me in the thickness of the night when no one else is around. And accordingly, I was terrified. Perhaps his story wasn’t bullshit, but he didn’t thank me for the money … he kept trying to keep me there longer. I was ready to key his eyeholes, if need be, but I knew in a fight, I would NOT win. So while it hurt me to part with that fiver that I could really use right now, well, if it saved my life by delaying him or if it prevented him from attacking my car, it was an investment, as far as I’m concerned.

But let’s assume the story was true (and that his approach was just really bad) — why SHOULD I care about him and his stupid kids? Would I go approaching strangers (especially those who would, demographically, be intimidated by me, in a city where race is a HUGE dividing line)? At any rate, I’m broke, too — and nobody gives a shit about MY money problems, so why should I care about his? He probably only used the line about the kids for sympathy — he was most likely alone. And if there WERE kids involved, well,it wasn’t their fault that Pappy was a dumbass and was running the car without fuel.

Ugh. I don’t know. I’m out a few bucks, but my car and my body are intact, yet I can’t shake the feeling of unfairness. He knew I’d be scared. He knew I wasn’t going to reach into my car for the single dollars in my purse. I wanted to keep his hands in full view the whole time. And I held my breath as I jumped into the car and veered into the middle of the road without looking for other cars. I have no doubt that he targeted me. And that pisses me off.

Comments closed.