I probably shouldn’t write this post, but I honestly don’t give a shit.
And that’s a weird way to start a post about my 40th birthday, but seriously, I in no way want to seem as if I am bragging (My sisters will testify that I HATE doing anything that even resembles bragging. They even have a recent example to prove it.), but I have shared almost a decade of my Pittsburgh journey with you guys, and I don’t want to withhold from you this latest, interesting leg of the trip.
So suck it up and read this and feel free to comment about how I’m bragging and a bitch and also how fabulous I look for 40 because 40 … WAH!
I turned 40 last Friday. I’ve already written about how I am not too happy about turning 40. Yes, it’s better than the alternative, but these gray hairs and these wrinkles and these failing eyes and this flabby butt are not endearing me much to 40. Of course, I’ve known my flabby butt since my twenties, but still … 40, you are not welcome here.
40 started out great. Breakfast in bed. Two sets of flowers. Two balloons, one of which informed me that I had crested the proverbial “hill “and was indeed on my way down it. Screaming. In terror. Like a three-year-old approaching the Jack Rabbit’s double dip.
My husband had spent the better part of the previous week being blatantly, intentionally mysterious. Dropped hints about trips. Suitcases. His parents in Mexico.
Were we taking a trip? I secretly hoped not because while if YOUR husband handed YOU two tickets to Greece and an already packed suitcase, you’d probably jump into his arms and try to rip his pants off in ecstasy, that’s pretty much my worst nightmare. Not the sex. The travel.
I need to prepare for travel. I need to take care of shit. I need to get my affairs in order. I need to mentally prepare myself for getting on an airplane. For possible burny death.
I know. I need drugs or something.
Anyway, my husband headed for the restaurant for the day and left me to be nervous about whatever the hell he had planned. I knew we were going to dinner, but that was it.
Fast forward to about 4:00 p.m. when my mother arrived to pick up my children so that we could have our date night. And she said, “Gin, since you’re going away for a few days, why don’t I –”
And I said, “WHAT?! AM I GOING AWAY?! AM I GOING TO DIE IN A PLANE CRASH TOMORROW?! INTO WHICH OCEAN WILL I BE PLUNGING?!” Internally, I hit my knees in prayer.
Mom looked aghast. Threw her hands over her mouth and quickly ushered the kids out the front door without saying another word to me.
A while later, my husband drove us to the South Side. I was sure we were heading for my favorite South Side spot Dish Osteria for dinner, but he pulled into Nakama valet. “For a drink.”
I sucked down a cosmopolitan like it was a tequila shooter and demanded to know where we were going. What were we doing. I AM 40 AND YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE ME A FRICKING HEART ATTACK.
Maybe that was the plan. Kill me at 40 so I can’t complain about 50.
Drinks imbibed, we retrieved my filthy momdorkmobile from valet.
“We need to swing into the Pirates offices to pick up my tickets for next week and then we’ll go on from there.”
His cell phone rings. “Yeah? Hi, Jordan [our sales rep]. We’re almost there. Where will you be? Okay. See you in a few.”
At PNC Park, I started to get it when we headed inside and suddenly there were employees directing us to the 3000 Club.
Look who is here! All of your family! Many of your friends!
But wait. Look who is also here. Your nutty OCD sister who had a mental breakdown just a few months ago. She got on an airplane for the first time in more than a decade to be here.
And that got me. Because she got on an airplane. For me. If you’ve ever read her blog, you understand what a huge, huge, huge deal that it. Inconceivable six months ago. Completely inconceivable. She didn’t attend our sisters weekend last fall because she couldn’t get on a plane.
So I cried. Because it meant she was really well. Finally, she was whole again. Here’s my ugly-cry face. Memorize it. You won’t see it again until the Bucs win the World Series:
But that’s not all, Ginny. Close your eyes because we have another surprise!
I opened my already teary eyes to find myself staring into the face of my best friend from college who I had not seen since 1996 on account of the fact that I live in Pittsburgh and she lives in Newfoundland, Canada.
I was stunned that my husband was actually listening to me when I talked about her. That he contacted her and managed to get her there. Can you imagine how creepy that would have seemed? “Hi! I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Can I get you a hotel room in Pittsburgh?”
So I cried some more. Who knew 40 makes you so damn weepy all the damn time. And sweary. Really sweary.
As the evening progressed, someone special swung by.
Mayor Bill Peduto. And here’s why I had to write this. Because he walked in and took control of the room like a badass, asked for quiet and then boom.
Proclamation. That he wrote. Himself.
I almost cried. Especially at the part about all my faults.
Remember how much I’ve made fun of people with proclamations? About ridiculous days named after people we’ve never heard of? Remember that?
I’m one of those people now.
A hundred years from now they’ll be looking through old books in city hall all, “Wow. Books. Haven’t seen one of these in 20 years,” and they’ll find the proclamation copy and say, “WHO THE FRACK IS VIRGINIA MONTANEZ?!”
So I had a day. It was proclaimed. Virginia Montanez Day. And I didn’t know about it until 8:00 p.m.
And I was like, shit (sweary!), I have only four hours TO RULE. THIS. CITY.
I wanted to run yellow lights with the proclamation held up to the windshield. Suck it, traffic light camera. It’s my day. I would make duck lips and the peace sign. Ticket THIS.
I wanted to jaywalk while holding it in the air like Lloyd Dobler and a boombox. (If you don’t know who Lloyd Dobler is, you must leave now on account of your disgusting youth. Gross.)
I wanted to kick down Dunkin Donuts’ doors and demand free pastries.
Park for 30 minutes in a 15-minute loading zone.
Find Lukey and do the running man dance in front of him.
Punt pigeons all, “It’s MY CITY, VERMIN BITCHES (all the swears!). POW!”
But I stayed at the party and had a blast.
Look at my gorgeous sisters, including the crazy one who got on a plane:
Look at my mom and dad:
Look at me showing them how I was going to cross every street, outside of the crosswalk, until midnight:
Haters gonna hate.
And look who else showed up:
That’s David Conrad surrounded by my nieces and nephews who are all big “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fans. He is the bad guy on that show, but he is truly a good Burgher.
(I am six episodes behind. If he is no longer the bad guy, DO NOT TELL ME.)
My sister Marcia (OCD Tina Fey) gave out a scream when she saw him. And then I realized that 60% of the reason she got on an airplane and risked burny death was because there was a 50% chance she was going to meet him.
So many more wonderful friends I’ve made since I started this blog arrived. It was touching. Unexpected. Sally Wiggin gave me a shirt that says “Ohio.”
I turned 40, and it didn’t suck.
Also, if you got a parking ticket in the City of Pittsburgh on May 30, 2014, get at me.
I think I can cancel those for you.
[awkward kung fu moves]
Does the anti-liquor privatization lobby make you want to punch faces like it makes me want to punch faces?
Then you’re in for a real treat because have you seen this commercial?
“So . . . *attempt at a confused look* . . . politicians want booze sold in stores where kids and teens go . . .?”
Wait. Wait just a minute. Are we supposed to leave our kids and teens in our cars when we go into the state liquor stores?! Crap. I’ve been just walking in to buy wine with my kids in tow. I let them look at the wine bottles. I am so embarrassed by this incredible parenting fail. Next time I’ll leave them in the car. Don’t worry. I’ll crack the window a bit because God forbid a child be in the presence of retail-ready alcohol containers. They could just grab one off the shelf and guzzle it down before you can say “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
It is so ridiculous and almost embarrassing for the union.
Remember when Huffington Post named Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte “the greatest cake America has ever made?”
Well my family put that to the test recently by pitting Prantl’s versus Oakmont Bakery’s burnt almond torte cake.
Partygoers crowded around the person taking the test. We watched in absolute silence. We waited breathlessly for each decision as if Maury Povich was about to read paternity results. “When it comes to this cake . . . OAKMONT IS YOUR CHOICE!” *wild cheering and incredulous weeping*
Soon, it was tied. Siblings divided. Marriages splintering before our very eyes. We were so desperate for a winner that we attempted to have a 9-month-old baby cast a vote, but she just inhaled both pieces of cake and burped. What good are you, baby? We’re trying to do science here.
We were eyeing the dog as a possible voter, when we realized there was one cousin who hadn’t yet taken the test. This was it. The tie-breaker. For truth. For science. For cake.
He tasted. Chewed. Swallowed. Tasted. Chewed. Swallowed. Silence.
JUST TELL US ALREADY, MAURY!
Happy Memorial Day!
I’m turning 40 next week!
[CRIES ALL THE BITTER TEARS!]
I’m sad about the Pens loss. So sad, in fact, that I ate for two straight hours after the final second ticked off the game clock. Half a jar of cookie butter. Cheese and crackers and processed meat slices. And then I eyed the cereal boxes. It wasn’t pretty. I woke up with a weird marriage of Cocoa Krispies and cracker dust in my hair.
So I’m going to ignore the loss and Bylsma’s likely departure (sob) and instead talk about pigeons. EFFING PIGEONS. MOTHERBLEEPING JERKASSWAD PIGEONS.
First, yesterday late morning in Market Square, it was a beautiful steamy sunny August day that happened to get lost and wind up in May all, “WHERE THE HELL AM I?! I think I took a wrong turn at July or something. I tried circling back but some yinzer told me to turn where Rax used to be.”
There I sat in the sun with Sally Wiggin, not far from a table full of beard-wearing Rangers. Sally and I were chatting about life while her cameraman set up for an interview, when a pigeon sauntered up to her, about a foot from her chair, probably wanting to tell her, “Hey, why are you hanging out with our Antichrist? Aren’t you better than that?”
Sally Wiggin spied the pigeon, and Sally Wiggin talked to the pigeon. She bent down and gave it baby talk.
And then she remembered who she was sitting with.
And she looked up at me.
And I was all …
And then she was like …
WE DON’T TALK IN BABY VOICES TO PIGEONS, SALLY WIGGIN!
I’m getting that on a shirt, a pillow, AND my gravestone.
Also, this happened:
And while we’re talking about pigeons, here’s the closing line of this hilarious letter to the editor at the Post-Gazette yesterday:
Perhaps the first place we can stop “feeding the pigeons” is with ourselves.
I will pay you the sum of ONE MILLION DOLLARS if you can explain what that means.
I think she was going for a “Be the change you want to see in the world” type of thing, but instead veered toward a “There are a lot of weeds in the garden of my mind” thing.
I hope Anna Smith of the North Side emails me so that I can email her back a link to the story of how PIGEON POOP BROUGHT DOWN THE BRIDGE IN MINNEAPOLIS.
Get at me.
P.S. Cocoa Krispie Hangover would be a great band name.
1. I ranted.
I was heard.
I’ve got lots of local media folks pissed with me now.
But I 100% stand by what I wrote. Sometimes I write a rant and then a month later I’ll go back and read it and be like, “Bitch, who peed in your jar of Nutella? You need a chill pill the size of a horse tranquilizer.”
But this one? No. It’s 100% church and I 100% will fight for what I wrote.
[awkward kung fu moves]
2. Haitian Families First linked up kids in Haiti to be picture pen pals with kids at Sto-Rox Elementary, the Brashear Association, Grandview Elementary, Quaker Valley Middle School, and Shady Side Middle School and they’re selling some of the art to benefit their programs that work to keep families together in Haiti.
Details here. I’ll be there. BUYING ALL THE THINGS. If you bring your kid, they can create artwork that will get sent back to Haitian children in the HFF programs.
3. If you’re a Frozen fan (you are; you just don’t know it yet), then you’re going to love this episode of Pittsburgh Dad. I cannot choose my favorite line, but I’m leaning toward, “Dump a bag of rock salt on her. Movie over.” or “Don’t be a deer” or “Cut open the reindeer like a Tauntaun and throw her in ‘at!” So much goodness!
4. I bet the bomb squad just royally screwed up some poor Art Institute film student’s final project.
6. Golf Edgewood; raise money for kids with cancer. Win win.
7. Did you know that marathon weekend includes an official pet walk that benefits Animal Rescue League? I would take my dog for this walk, but he is 15, his teeth are falling out, he’s mostly blind, mostly deaf, and just the meanest little old man you ever met. You best get off his lawn before he burns you with his ancient pee.
8. I wrote about the hilarity that ensued at my cookie-table-less, hokey-pokey-less wedding in Mexico. Here’s a picture from it.
That’s the face of a man who at that moment realized what he got himself into. How do you say, “Oh, shit” in Spanish?
9. I also published my 2014 Burghy Mother’s Day Gift Guide! If you haven’t shopped for mom yet, snag her one of these ten Burghy gifts. Most all of them are locally made. Click the photo to be whisked away to the list:
I published this and then my mother went out and shopped the list, buying stuff off of it for herself, even an item I already purchased for her for Mother’s Day.
She’s doing it wrong.
10. Guys, when I started this blog, I was 32. A young woman. Sorta. Mother of one. Married six years.
I will be turning 40 next month. I’m a mother of two and on Cinco de Mayo, I’ll have been married for 14 years. I feel like if you’ve been reading me since the beginning, you’ve watched me grow up a bit here. Sorta.
I wrote about what turning 40 means to me and what it means for my relationship with Pittsburgh.
I am officially middle-aged. Mid-life. Half-death.
I no longer can gush about the new hottie on the Pirates, Penguins or Steelers teams without sounding like a cradle-robbing cougar. I’d rather be labeled anything than that. Even a “tunnel-braker.”
I now have two churches. The new one is the wrinkle-cream aisle at Target. The Sunday-paper circular is my Bible, and Olay is my god.
All hail Olay.
11. Your hilarious tweets as of late:
Grammar is important. Even in fortune cookies. pic.twitter.com/hF8G1Ei9QD
— Zach Frailey (@UprootedPhotos) April 26, 2014
No one looks more gay than straight guys in their engagement photos.
— Susie Meister (@susie_meister) April 25, 2014
I don't care how good your waffle taco is, people don't turn left in the morning. They only turn right and stop if it's on the way.
— Chris Lovett (@_chrislovett) April 25, 2014
Next time i go to starbucks, I'm going to tell them that my name is john jacob jingleheimer schmidt.
— Mr. Chachi Says (@chachisays) April 24, 2014
Just to see if anyone says Hey thats my name too!
— Mr. Chachi Says (@chachisays) April 24, 2014
I love living in a world where Chris Brown is in jail.
— Janelle Sheetz (@LittleJanelleS) April 24, 2014
Everything always has a new look, and some people feel things about it.
— Geoff Barnes (@texburgher) April 23, 2014
YO ADRIAN! pic.twitter.com/a9OV7a8yDl
— Steve Braband (@stevebraband) April 22, 2014
Pens need to call Geico because they need some INSURANCE Awesome tweet
— Christopher Fafalios (@chrisfafalios) April 22, 2014
i don't see the big deal, EVERY moon is a blood moon if the phases sync up with your menses
— sarah james (@cryingbaseball) April 15, 2014
Ok this game someone catch a foul ball IN BETWEEN A HOT DOG BUN.
— Sean Conboy (@SeanConPM) April 6, 2014
Last Friday at 9:00 a.m., Make Room for Kids, an initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation supported by Microsoft and ALL OF YOU, arrived at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with the goal to provide a multimedia makeover for the CICU unit, the Cardiac Step Down unit, and the Trauma/Ortho unit. In addition, we delivered boxes of new games, movies, and other goodies to every unit we overhauled in years past … transplant, adolescent medicine, and oncology. Our most ambitious install day ever.
The morning kicked off when the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Microsoft arrived with SUVs full of good stuff for the kids.
That’s a lot of loot!
Me and MLF’s Nancy Angus being adorable and staying out of the way adorably. Adorable.
Briefing by Microsoft’s Luke Sossi, the planning and logistics mastermind who ensures the operation runs smoothly and who also ran the fundraising campaign at Microsoft, encouraging employees to donate to the program:
Child Life Specialist Beth Moneck talks about how important the gaming will be to the patients and also prepares the installers for what they might encounter in the CICU rooms:
Nancy Angus thanks everyone for their time and donations to the program. There in the background is Frank. He’s the person at the hospital responsible for making sure each room is ready for an XBOX install — a process that starts way back in the fall:
And they’re off! Three floors to hit, 4, 6, and 8.
The first XBOX is installed in the waiting area of the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) as the families and siblings of patients often have long waits here considering surgeries can happen at any time in the CICU rooms.
The CICU is just … well … heartbreaking. You can’t fathom what these kids and their families are suffering through, and your donations are going a long way to make their stay a little bit better.
Hannah is 11 and if her room is any indication, she loves pink and black. She’s here for surgeries while awaiting a heart transplant. As the install was taking place, she sat on her bed holding a copy of Plants versus Zombies, which just happened to be the game she was handed while they installed her XBOX. She was quiet and I said, “Did you want a different game to play maybe?”
She shyly nodded her head as if she felt badly for asking and I’m thinking, “Girl. You’re 11. You’re waiting for a new heart. You can have anything you damn well want. BRB.”
So we hooked her up with Angry Birds and this was her reaction:
Here’s another young patient who was happy to get started with the new XBOX in her room:
Room by room. 38 XBOXes. High-risk rooms meant taking important precautions:
Other rooms didn’t require such precautions:
Here’s the whole install team:
Each child received an XBOX installed in their room, a controller, a game to get started with, a Microsoft hat, lanyard, and keychain with a tiny controller replica on it:
And that’s not all! We also delivered, thanks to your donations:
– Over 100 XBOX games
– Over 150 movies. I insisted that every unit received a copy of Frozen because DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A SNOWMAN OKAY BYEEeee. Shut up.
– Tons of scrapbooking stuff, because as I’ve mentioned in the past, scrapbooking is not only a great distraction, but a good way for kids to address their fears. We included cameras, photo printers, memory cards, tons of cool papers, and lots more.
– Eight Surface units! We gave four to the CICU/Cardiac Step Down unit and two to the transplant unit and two to the adolescent medicine unit. Each was delivered with a keyboard and protective sleeve. Good for gaming and surfing the web.
– And check out these sweet Tomb Raider-themed controllers. Microsoft brought 38 of these so that the units have some extras to allow patients to play with family members or others:
– Your donations allowed us to give each unit from previous years a box full of goodies as well as a few extra controllers. They received new games, new movies, and more. The transplant unit was provided with two new LeapPads as well as LeapPad games for their younger patients. And they all got Frozen. LET IT GOOOO. LET IT GOOO-OOOOO! Shut up.
– This install brings us to over 150 XBOX units installed and over $125,000 in total donations to Make Room for Kids since its inception. We have outfitted at Children’s Hospital, the transplant unit, the adolescent medicine/”Frequent Fliers” unit, the oncology unit, the oncology transfusion unit, the CICU, the Cardiac Step Down unit, the trauma/ortho unit, as well as the pediatric unit at Allegheny General, and the entirety of The Children’s Home. Wow.
Near the end of the morning, as things were wrapping up, Beth from Child Life told us that one patient who had received the XBOX earlier in the morning had been getting her clothing changed and would not put down the controller to stop playing her game. She just held on and kept her eyes on the TV while her clothing was swapped.
That’s the goal. Distraction. Don’t worry. Just play.
It was so good to hear from Child Life at each unit about how the gaming has helped them and their patients over the last few years. I promise you, it is making a difference for these kids. So I can’t thank you enough for donating each year to help us make that happen for them.
I also must give mad love and props to ROOT Sports for featuring the install during the Pens pre-game show yesterday, to the Post-Gazette for featuring it on the front page of Saturday’s paper, and to Mike Young at EA Sports for hooking the kids up with some awesome games like NHL 14 and Madden 25.
It was a fantastic day and a huge success thanks to Microsoft, the Mario Lemieux Foundation, and you.