My thoughts on Troy


 

I am writing so many pieces right now.

My annual Burghy Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the magazine, so you can buy your mother something meaningful and local. My annual Pittsburgh Magazine City Guide column in which I will astound you with even more things you probably didn’t know about our fair city. A post on the new Clemente Bridge bike lane, how some people aren’t happy about it, and what Bill Peduto’s plans for it are. My regular magazine column, of which a topic I have not yet determined because I haven’t drank enough wine yet. I’ve got a lot of writing balls in the air, people!

But then Troy Polamalu was like, “Slow your roll, girl. I have news.”

And you know, it’s not the most shocking news. I think you’d agree that Troy’s exit from the NFL wasn’t a Bugatti careening onto the exit ramp at 80 miles an hour, but was rather an Amish buggy with two elderly horses, slowly rolling off the highway, enjoying the scenery as it passed. With his increasing age and diminishing physical health, we knew it was coming. The gray hairs foretold it. There’s no surprise. No abrupt ending that leaves us scratching our heads, I’m looking at you, Gillian Flynn.

I am 90% disenchanted with the National Football League and you know this because I wrote about it. I quit it. I stopped watching the games. Stopped supporting with my dollars. I can’t support an organization that seems to be allowing bad men to beat their wives and good men to destroy their precious brains.

The NFL became a bad taste in my mouth. The fly in my wine (which I would still drink because wine is delicious). The rain on my wedding day, Alanis. It became, to me, a money-worshipping, Alpha Male-encouraging, greedy, evil empire and I had to walk away from it and God did it feel good.

But within that muck, stood Troy Polamalu. A man who managed to prove that the NFL and football do not automatically destroy good and decency. That a strong enough man can rise above it and stay there for an entire career. Who can put family and God and good before money and power and vice.

We establish long ago that “The Steeler Way” is a myth, but somehow, someway, Troy Polamalu is mythical enough to live it and make it real. Every story I’ve ever heard about Troy has been uplifting, which is why I dubbed him Troysus many many years ago.

Football’s Jesus. The man who literally never stopped praying. And I feel comfortable using the word literally there, because his very essence oozes prayerfulness. Quietness. Solitude. Peace. Even when delivering a crushing blow to an opponent.

I’ve heard about his quiet visits to the homeless. His visits to sick children at the hospital without ever telling another soul. His devotion to his family. There is no cloud of questionable judgment hanging over his magnificent head of hair, and there never was. Just pure sunshine.

I think Steeler Nation loves Troy for his contributions to the physicality of the sport — to the wins. But I think he will be long remembered more for the kind of person he is. For his larger than life aura of I RISE ABOVE IT ALL ALWAYS. 

Call him the Jesus of the Steelers. The Mister Rogers of the Steelers. The Superman of the Steelers. Call him Troysus. Call him what you like, and then strive to be just a little more like him.

Then and only then will the Steeler Way stop being a myth and become something this city can truly hold up and be proud of.

 





Chicken Dinner Winners

If you haven’t received an email from me yet with the subject line of WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER YOU LUCKY DUCK, then sadly, no, you did not win any of the great Make Room for Kids prizes.

[sad trombone]

You’ll notice we sit $500 away from the goal, but not really. You see, the kiddos in the cancer, transplant, infusion, NICU, adolescent medicine, etc. sent us lists of new games and movies they wanted. I posted all of them to an Amazon wish list, let my Twitter and Facebook followers know, and in 18 hours, $2,000 worth of titles were purchased and on their way to Mario Lemieux Foundation offices. Before I ever had a chance to mention the wish list here.

So, actually, we are at $11,500 raised from my readers, therefore, I gave the prizes away.

However, if it is just driving you bonkers that the ticker isn’t at the top, well, I’m not going to throw myself on your keyboard to stop you from donating out of the goodness of your big giant Burgh heart. Funds will be welcomed and they will be used to make sick kids’ hospital stays a little brighter.

Winners as selected by Random.org:

– The winner of the Pirates Home Opener tickets was a reader named Alan O. When I emailed him the fantastic CHICKEN DINNER news, he responded that unfortunately, he’s out of the state until May. He wondered if we could find someone deserving to use the tickets, so I reached out to Genre’s Kids With Cancer Fund, and the organization is identifying a local childhood cancer family that would enjoy attending the game. Perfect.

– Donald M. won the amazing Dave DiCello metal print. Dave is mailing or has already mailed him his prize directly.

– MaryAnne H. won the Pens Charity Gift Bag. I’m mailing it tomorrow.

– Randy G. won the autographed Sid Crosby jersey. I mailed it today and sent him the tracking number.

– Jessica M. won a previously un-featured prize, this fantastic print from local photographer Jason Furda who reached out to offer the print up for a giveaway.

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Man. Love that. Lucky girl. Check his work out here. Really stunning stuff. Go to his site and find “Contemplating the Rubber Duck,” another Mister Rogers statue print, and feel the feels.

Jason is mailing or has already mailed the print directly.

– Katie S. won the prize pack from the Penguins with the autographed Sid print, the autographed Hornqvist jersey, the Letang stick, and the Pens/Flyers tickets. I met Katie and personally handed her prize to her, because how do you even mail a hockey stick, Internet?

– Rose F. and Lesley P. won the Pirates gift bags full of bobbleheads and other goodies. I’m also mailing those tomorrow.

– And finally! Wild Bill Wichrowski from Deadliest Catch sent me a great box full of good stuff from his store in Florida that just arrived. I’ll pick a winner for that tonight.

Thank you to all who donated here or via the wish list. It honestly moved me to read down the list of hundreds of names, some familiar, some not, and see such outpouring of generosity for our city’s sick children who will relish this extra distraction from pain and treatment.

Mario Lemieux Foundation, Microsoft and I will install this month (well, they install while I watch and take pictures and chat with little kiddos) and I will be sure to share all the fantastic details with you.

Group hug.





Heavy.

I would say that every day is a gift, but I don’t actually agree with that. I will say that every day is a chance to love, and my best guess is that love is what it’s all about.

I can honestly say that there is no story or person I’ve written about in my ten years of blogging that has stuck with me more than Amy’s.

I think about her at least once … every single day. Maybe while driving. Or as I pray. Or as I lay in bed at night with my thoughts. Brushing my teeth. Almost always as I tuck my children in or watch them climb onto their school buses. She flits across my brain and leaves a ripple of emotion in her wake that will reverberate until the next time.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a mom too. Perhaps because she’s around my age. Like me, she has a son and daughter (yes, HAS. Losing children doesn’t ever stop you from HAVING those children. You will always HAVE them.). Perhaps because I’ve met her, dined with her, hugged her.

Sometimes I have to stop my brain. If I imagine what happened to her happening to me, the hypothetical pain cuts my air off. Suffocates me. My heart tightens. A sense of panic tries to settle in and I have to literally shake my head and move away from those thoughts.

I’ve learned about love, loss, and strength from Amy’s story.

It has been a long time since she’s written — more than a year, but nearing the 6th anniversary of her children’s sudden deaths, it makes sense that she’s found need of an outlet for some of her emotions. Her latest post is a lesson in perspective, and such an important one.

It’s a lesson in understanding that the burdens we bear are only as heavy as the weight we’ve assigned to them. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, as we all are at times, with a big pile of the little stuff … Little problems. Inconveniences. First-world problems. Relationship struggles. Job issues. Family dynamics. Drama. Whatever burdens you bear can be greatly lessened with a little bit of perspective. A little step back and look at the grand scheme. The big picture. What’s REALLY important.

And I think that’s the most important thing Amy’s story has taught me. Perspective. When things start to add up and get heavy, I remember Amy, and my burden is lightened.

I love that.

I hate that.

I hate that she experienced something that allowed me to learn it. I hate that I’ve gained something from her because there are one billion other ways I’d rather learn that lesson, than from a beautiful woman who lost her children.

Pittsburghers support Pittsburghers, so please have a read and leave her a small comment of support and love, especially as we near April 6.

Group hug.





In which I read 197 ridiculous comments about deer so you don’t have to.

First, I’m very angry with myself.

I went back to read my last post about the flu virus where I was talking about how you simultaneously fear and want to French-kiss death, and I didn’t say, “Like if Ryan Gosling was portraying Hannibal Lecter.”

For shame. Flu virus just sucked the good writing out of me for a while.

Moving on, let’s talk about all those bonkers people in Mt. Lebanon who are still collectively losing their elite elitist shit over the deer cull AKA OPERATION BAMBI EXECUTION.

Not only did someone spray urine on the deer bait, but the residents are also sitting at their computer keyboards just …

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LOSING THEIR SHIT.

The Post Gazette published an article that the first deer had been culled, and yes, Mt. Lebanon residents on both sides of the issue went BALLISTIC in the comments. I mean, by their nature, comment sections are train wrecks. Add animal-killing to the mix and glory glory hallelujah happens. And if you think these people won’t find a way to work abortion or the holocaust into the comments, you are very very wrong (I’m not posting the holocaust stuff because no).

Here’s Beth, who warns your next life might find you ruled by pigs.

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Here’s Francis, realizing the next logical step is to CULL THE HUMAN HERD.

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Donna needs to take the scotch tape off of her caps lock key.

Capture3Francis fed the deer and then indicated they were frolicking. And then Mike is all, “TELL ME HOW THEY FROLIC, DAMN IT, FRANCIS.”

Capture4

Dan is sick. SICK.Capture5

Sandy is up on the grassy knoll calling out the MONEY HUNGRY KILLERS. (If Money Hungry Killers isn’t a goth rock band name, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.) And then Donna shows up again all THE KARMA BOOMERANG IS GOING TO KILL ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR CHILDREN.

Donna might need to get a grip. Capture6

Here’s Pitts Burgh thinking about throwing dead dear in the Elite Elitist Gardeners’ gardens.

Hey! Tulips are living things too!Capture7

Mike ironically gets the mic drop. Derp. Capture8

TEAR YOUR HOUSES DAHN!Capture9

Abortion. Of course. Capture10

Oh, God. Now Todd has gone and done it.

Capture11

Oh, Alan.

152zvvr

P.S. Ryan Gosling wants you to donate $5 to sick children. He told me so in my fever dream.





One last push and NEW GIVEAWAYS

I’ve spent the last eight days fighting through the fog of the flu virus, and let me tell you, that virus is a huge jerkface. You’re scared you’re dying, and at the exact same time you’re afraid you WON’T die, because at some point, death stops being something to be afraid of and starts being something you would kiss with tongue.

On the fifth day of The Death and Dying Sickness, the doctor walked into the exam room to see me after hearing my symptoms from the nurse and said, “I’m not even going to ask if you got the flu shot because I know the answer.”

Mean.

I’m mostly better and that means one last push to raise this final $2,500 for Make Room for Kids at the Mario Lemieux Foundation so we can outfit the dialysis and infusion units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with gaming, and take care of four new cancer unit rooms as well. We’ll also be updating and doing maintenance on every unit we’ve already outfitted in the last five years of the program. Transplant, cancer, frequent flyers, and more. Since I got the flu, some new giveaways have come in!

Let’s have a look.

–NEW! This Sidney Crosby autographed jersey complete with certificate of authenticity:

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–NEW! The Pirates came through and sent me an entire box of goodies, enough to split between two winners. I’ll probably run out and buy two cool Pirates bags to put the stuff in. There are bobbleheads, hats, shirts, ice cream bowls, sock monkeys and more!

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– NEW! Captain Bill Wichrowski’s (from Deadliest Catch) people reached out to me to offer me some stuff to give away. They’re sending it from his store in Florida today, and as soon as I get it, I’ll post a picture. The Captain is also a graduate of my alma mater, Norwin.

– Dave DiCello did as promised and donated his profits for a week to the fund, coming in at $1,000! One huge chunk of the pie, from one single person’s good heart. What an awesome Burgher. Still up for grabs is this donated 24 x 36 metal print.

B_HuWXyUwAAWYVb -

Pirates Home Opener tickets. Two tickets in section 116, Row Z, seats 1/2 for the Pirates Home Opener, the best most hopeful day of baseball prior to any ball played in October. Here’s your view:

 

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– The Penguins Foundation/Mario Lemieux Foundation Charity Gift Bag:

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With four fantastic bobbleheads, a Rick Tocchet-autographed puck and lots of other cool items. — The Penguins gave me a prize-pack to give away that includes …

  • Two lower-level tickets to the April 1 Pens/Flyers game at the CONSOL (Section 120 Row S)
  • A Kris Letang game-used hockey stick
  • An autographed Hornqvist jersey
  • And a Sidney Crosby-autographed 8 x 10 photo

So many great things you can win just by commenting or donating! Go here to comment to win, or if sick children move your heart and you want to help us give them a bit of distraction from their fears, pains, and treatments, then click on that Donate button up there and send that Karma Boomerang out into the world full of goodness and love.

May it return to you quickly.

Group hug!