I was asked recently by a local nonprofit to speak briefly to a group of disabled young adults about social media and how they can use it to effect change.
For every ten times I get asked to speak, I say no to nine of them. This one I said yes to because it’s a subject I feel I truly have something valuable to say on — sentence-ending prepositions and all.
After agreeing, I received an email letting me know quite kindly, complimentarily and apologetically that they no longer had time on the agenda for my five minutes. Was that really the case? Or did they realize how notorious I am, how many local enemies I’ve made in my 9 years as PittGirl, how very little I care these days about political correctness and how few shits I give lately about bullshit in general? Maybe they found someone better. Maybe they really just didn’t have time for me.
Who can know? But, you know what? I had something to say to those young disabled people and my God, I’m going to say it here, because I don’t know that anyone else will say this to them:
Being disabled? SUCKS.
I don’t care what any disabled person will say to your face, deep down in our hearts, there is this truth we look at occasionally: This hand we’ve been dealt?
Whether it be a wheelchair, a cane, a seeing-eye dog, a limp, a hearing aid — or in my case, two hearing aids … having a daily, visible and physical reminder of our disability? Sucks.
It sucks if we can’t dress ourselves without help. It sucks if we can’t navigate an unfamiliar room without a helping hand. It sucks if we’re missing a leg or an arm. It sucks if we’re deformed. It sucks if we have to say “I’m sorry, what?” so many times in a row when we’re on the phone with a customer service representative that they get angry and demand, “Are you deaf or something?”
It sucks when people realize you have a disability and sweetly over-compensate for it. “HOW! ARE! YOU! DOING! TODAY! GINNY! DO! YOU! NEED! ME! TO! SPEAK! LOUDER! OR! SHAVE! MY! MUSTACHE! SO! THAT! YOU! CAN! READ! MY! LIPS! BETTER!?”
I love you. Please stop shouting.
It also sucks when people realize you have a disability and do nothing at all to compensate for it. I could throat-punch soft-talkers. Throat-punch them in their soft-talking throats.
(And here is where I start to realize why maybe they didn’t want me to speak.)
It sucks that we have to try harder and longer.
It sucks that we can’t breeze through our day as easily as others.
It sucks how these disabilities have shaped our personalities. Not negatively, per se, but what would you and I be like without them? I once had a therapist who tried to get me to understand that my shyness because of my disability was basically an affront to God because it meant I cared too much about being embarrassed and about what people think of me. Yeah. Nope. Byeeee.
Guys? It … just … all … sucks.
LISTEN … BUT.
There is this other truth: There comes a time in every single disabled person’s life where they look at their disability and go, “This has served me. This disability has in some way positively altered my life and the lives of those around me. If life is really a series of sliding doors, there’s a reason this is the one that opened. It has made me who I am. It has made me stronger. Stronger than my able-bodied peers. I have learned to rise above it at least 99.9% of the time (we’re allowed to cry about our shortcomings .1% of the time). I don’t 100% know if I would be this effing awesome without having risen above this effing, sucky disability.”
(Yeah, good decision to uninvite me. We’re cool. No hard feelings.)
I would not be the writer I am if I didn’t spend 30 years avoiding human interaction, reading voraciously, hiding inside my head where the voices were loud and crystal clear, honing my own voice. I wouldn’t be able to read Andrew McCutchen’s angry, snapping lips every time he gets beaned with a fastball. I wouldn’t have started a blog. I wouldn’t have written. I wouldn’t have started Make Room for Kids. I wouldn’t have helped orphans in Haiti.
And social media? Social media levels the playing field. You aren’t disabled on social media. You aren’t judged by your appearance, your cane, your limp, your wheelchair. You are only judged by the power of your words and how you convey your message. I am not mostly deaf; I am PittGirl. Hear me roar. You are not blind; you are Joe and you can change the world. You are not in a wheelchair; you are Mary and you can raise $10,000 in two days. You are not missing a limb; you are Jake and you can move an effing virtual mountain.
Basement trolls hide behind their keyboards. Us disabled folks? We’re using them as equalizers.
And that is where we get more power, a stronger voice, a better sense of self-assurance. That is how a shy, introverted hearing-impaired incredibly socially awkward mother of two can become PittGirl. [swishes cape and runs off in dramatic fashion]
You are not your disability. Not in real life and not on social media. Your disability is what made you who you are, the amazing person you are, the incredibly strong person you are … and social media is the microphone that will let you shout that triumphantly to the world with such conviction, change will unfold beneath the rushing power of your voice.
No matter if you don’t actually have a physical voice.
And no matter how much your disability … just absolutely sucks.
1. … “So I says to my friend, I says, ‘I like to blog occasionally so’s I don’t forget my WordPress password.’”
2. My new front door has a speakeasy (basically it is this door) and the reason it has a speakeasy is because when we were hunting for a new front door, I learned you can have a front door with a speakeasy and suddenly I had a lot of plans in my head for reenacting the Miracle Max scene from The Princess Bride, so I decided my front door would indeed have a speakeasy.
Fast forward to yesterday evening when my parents arrived for Sunday dinner at my house and my sister Pens Fan answered the door through the speakeasy.
Pens Fan: “We’re closed! What’s the secret password.”
My mother: “Steelers stink.”
Me: “Let her in.”
Yes, I quit the NFL, so no, I didn’t watch the game, but I read about it and boy, finding out the Steelers lost so miserably to the Browns is like finding out your kid lost a spelling bee to the class pet rabbit.
3. On a scale of one to “self-folding laundry,” how much do you desire this?
This is the ScareHouse Shake at Burgatory that you can only get this month. It has Oreos, gummy worms, and for adults … chocolate vodka.
Sales of this shake benefit Make Room for Kids at the Lemieux Foundation. You know, that little program you and I and Microsoft started that has now outfitted Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with over 100 XBOX units and over a hundred thousand dollars in equipment?
Get thee to Burgatory … and then get thee to ScareHouse. I went on Friday and almost pooped my pants in fright. But on the bright side, I didn’t throat-punch any of the zombies that rushed me. Progress.
After I got out, Scott Simmons of the ScareHouse told me I should go in the Basement and I said, “SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH.”
4. Stuff I wrote:
A tribute to Sophie. Snippet:
“I didn’t know it was her idea to give the Pirates their own stadium. The proposed arena was to be — in the words of an Associated Press reporter — “open-ended and afford most spectators a view of the downtown skyline.” She said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after she left office, “It went over like a lead balloon. It was just a suggestion that we look into it, and it almost got me impeached.” I hope in 2001 she drove down Grant Street screeching, “I TOLD YINZ SO!” out her car window.”
I don’t need to write about the Pirates or the Wild Card game. We contended. Again. It’s that “again” that’s so important. We are not a fluke. We are a legitimate baseball club. Worthy of Roberto. Worthy of Maz, Honus and Teke. Worthy of the Jolly Roger and all of its pirate lore. Worthy of the devotion of a legion of fans. Worthy of this beautiful ship we’ll sail again in April. We will dock it with the expectation that the Pirates Baseball Club will offer Russell Martin nothing short of a free trip to space with a monkey-butler should he desire one, if he will just stay a Pirates player a while longer.
Have a read about how MEAN Twitter got.
Here’s my thing. Critics like to say they feel Pittsburgh Dad isn’t a positive representation of Pittsburgh’s people. But publicly being a colossal jerk to him isn’t exactly a positive representation either.
So yeah, me and Dejan have a beef. I unfollowed him; he unfollowed me. We’re probably going to trash each other’s lawns at some point.
5. Cathedral of Learning has a shot at being an official LEGO set. Go give them a vote!
6. Public money accounted for about $23 million to build the August Wilson Center and now public money is being used to bail it out even though there was a buyer with ACTUAL CASH DOLLAR BILLZ ready to buy it, make it profitable, and keep the center’s mission intact.
[headdesk headdesk headdesk]
Let capitalism be!
8. Does “jagoff” belong in the dictionary? There’s a petition to make it happen.
That being said, did anyone have a hard time answering the question “what’s a jag-off?” to the kids in the room when it was used in reference to the clerk at Sam Goode’s? That folks, was a first for me on network PRIMETIME television.
Here’s how you answer it, you jagoff … “Well, kids, a jaggerbush (thorn bush) has jaggers (thorns) on it that are very annoying and therefore a jagoff is a very annoying person … like me.”
9. Tweets that made me LOL lately:
Kramer hires Edgar Snyder to help him sue the underachieving Steelers for pain and suffering.
— Yinzer Seinfeld (@YinzerSeinfeld) October 12, 2014
If you're gonna genetically modify watermelons, focus less on seeds and more on giving them a handle.
— Susie Meister (@susie_meister) October 11, 2014
Parents looking to drive your older kids nuts: When they're using voice to text, just yell out crazy stuff. Deep down they love it.
— Randy Bohlender (@rbohlender) October 10, 2014
I’m SO doing this. “I FART IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION!”
User: "I lost my email settings on my phone." Me: "OK, what kind of phone do you have?" User: "A smartphone."
— Mr. theMoon (@Sheepthemoon) October 8, 2014
Today is National Pierogi Day, or as Pittsburghers call it… Wednesday.
— Megan Etzel (@megetz) October 8, 2014
Quit calling them boneless wings. You’re an adult eating chicken fingers.
— Ali Spagnola (@alispagnola) October 5, 2014
What would you even do with 72 virgins? That's like sitting through 72 flute solos from 72 girls who've never played. Sounds more like hell.
— Justin Kownacki (@JustinKownacki) October 4, 2014
Giants = Paper Pirates = Dog http://t.co/BflGwmx6pe
— Steve Braband (@stevebraband) October 2, 2014
Can’t imagine how good that all felt to Cueto. Hope he gets hemorrhoids the size of cantaloupes.
— Jonathan Wander (@JMWander) September 28, 2014
I'm changing electrical outlets in my underwear. The coroner's photos should be priceless.
— Cryptopher (@pantster) September 12, 2014
10. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wait for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to come by.
In which I say “bullshit” a lot, quit the NFL, unfollow the Steelers, and piss off all of Pens Twitter.
You know, you turn 40 and you just do not have time for anyone’s bullshit anymore.
Life is flying past and you realize yours is halfway over and the second you see bullshit? KABLOOEY.
You throat-punch it. Destroy it. Tell it that its mother is so stupid she went to the beach to surf the internet (stolen joke, FYI.) You start to understand why the elderly will say anything they damn well please. They are nearing death and they do not have time for your bullshit.
I mean, in my 30s I was already pretty good at calling out people’s bullshit, I think you’d agree, Luke Ravenstahl. But man, now that I’m 40? Watch your back, bullshit; PittGirl will stab you with a rusty knife before she sets you on fire.
Note … this is how you say “bullshit” in sign language:
You’re welcome. When I’m 90 and completely deaf, I am going to use that A LOT.
Anyway, I can’t deal with it. I won’t.
Last week after my husband spent two weeks being nice to a company over replacing our under-warranty broken fridge, I had had it. I called the company, flipped out, threatened to sit in their parking lot with a bullhorn warning other customers away (“And guess what? I work from home, so I’ve got the time to do it.”), and had a new fridge in my home the very next morning.
So bearing in mind I am a crotchety old elderly lady who doesn’t have time for bullshit anymore, you can imagine how I’ve taken to the news of the Steelers’ marijuana arrests and the Ray Rice debacle.
I did what I needed to do. I quit the NFL yesterday, and wrote why for Pittsburgh Magazine. And I feel good about it.
I’m not going to be party to their bullshit anymore. I’m out. Ok, bye.
Then this morning, the Steelers twitter account tweeted this absurdly ridiculous nonsense:
UGH. I don’t care who these men are, because the Steelers don’t tell us. It just looks like a picture of some smiling fans in front of a 9/11 banner. That’s how they chose to illustrate #neverforget.
Nope. Unfollowed ‘em.
Then I see this from the Penguins’ official Twitter account.
You’re going to ask your half a million followers to fill up some unknown schmuck’s mentions column and you’re going to do that under the guise of any sort of professional social media experience?
I had to call them on it.
No, I’m not that crazy and uptight that I don’t think anyone can use the phrase “blow up” on 9/11. But a professional social media account might want to think twice before using it in an official tweet on 9/11. But that’s not really what my issue was; I was just pointing out that poor choice of words.
The REAL issue is a professional social media account asking half a million followers to troll a guy. That’s just immature and unprofessional.
They have since issued an apology and deleted the tweet.
But now I have pissed off all of Pens Twitter and they are letting me HAVE IT. I mean, I’m being called names, being harassed, one Pens fan even tweeted he hopes I get hit by a car.
Another called me a c–t.
And guess how many shits I give? ZERO.
I don’t care if all 11,700 of my followers unfollow me.
I don’t care if the Steelers PR person emails me and gives me a good verbal lashing.
I don’t care if Sidney Crosby himself emails me and tells me to calm down.
I am 40; hear me stop giving a shit.
Grow up, whoever is running the Penguins’ Twitter account. Learn to social media better, whoever is running the Steelers’ Twitter account. Thousands of Americans died. You did a poor job of paying tribute to them. You angry fans tweeting me profanity, threats, insults and nonsense, NOW who’s overreacting?
This is me calling out my lifetime bank, PNC Bank, for a shady fee practice because I want you to know so you can be careful to not get hit with ridiculous charges like I was.
I needed to provide to a mortgage broker a breakdown of some recent deposit tickets to my account.
So I entered PNC Bank’s online system. I clicked on the deposit ticket link for each deposit I needed to show the checks from.
It displayed for me a picture of my deposit ticket. Here’s a snippet:
But I needed to show what those checks were, so I clicked “View Details.”
This came up. Again a snippet. Trying not to reveal important personal info here!
“View now.” GREAT. Click.
I can print or download the image at no additional charge? But I may be charged a fee? That’s confusing. So I clicked on “click here to review applicable fees.”
This came up:
Okay. So you can display the DEPOSIT TICKET for free. (Thanks, PNC!), but to display the images of the checks associated with the deposit ticket? “CLICK HERE.”
I clicked here. ANOTHER window pops up. What are we on now? Four?
Whew. Okay. I don’t use Virtual Wallet. I click on “ACCOUNT PRICING CENTER” and hey! It displays a FOUR PAGE PDF OF FEES. I first went to the Online Banking section, but there wasn’t anything there about displaying checks. Then I went to the correct section of the FOUR PAGE PDF:
“Self-service requests through online banking for items within a deposit ticket detail list.” I don’t see “display fee” anywhere. So clearly under “Images and Photocopy Requests” they mean if I ask them to email or print for me the image I display. Right? Great. I just want to bring the image up on my screen. Too bad I didn’t read down further to see there’s a separate section for mailing and faxing. They’ll mail you the deposit ticket copy for a dollar. But it will cost you $3 for them to mail you the check copy. Because they have to get on a camel and ride it across the desert to go into the vault to manually pull it out and copy it, I guess. But they keep the deposit tickets right on site, so it’s cheaper. Again, I’m guessing.
So I went back and clicked on the link to display the check image. And of course, each image came right up and ready to go for me to print or save to PDF.
But then a few days later:
WHOA! I was charged three dollars a pop to DISPLAY a check on my computer screen.
DISPLAY. DISPLAY FEE.
Is this my fault? Technically yes. I get it. My bad for not catching it properly.
Is PNC Bank ridiculous? Oh, yes. Because …
1. DISPLAY FEE? You charged me three dollars to bring an image of my check up on my screen?
2. If I had instead deposited these checks one by one, without a deposit ticket, I would not have been charged to display the images. It would have been free. But because I had to click one extra step to get to the check, it cost me $3 a pop.
3. I actually only displayed eight checks, but I got charged for ten, because I DISPLAYED two of the checks twice. ELL. OH. ELL. Gosh darn displayin’.
4. This is 2014. Are you telling me, PNC, that the only way for a consumer to know what this particular transaction is going to cost them, is to have them click through five different windows to download a four-page PDF? Don’t you have the capability to have your website bring up ONE window that says, “This will cost you $3, Virginia. Continue?”
Did I just blow your minds, PNC?
Either way, I called and expressed my displeasure at not only their practices to make it hard to figure out what you’ll be charged, but at flat-out charging people $3 to DISPLAY a check. They refunded half the charges.
Sure I screwed up by looking at the fee schedule and thinking if I don’t see “display fee” then they can’t charge me a “display fee.” I can’t help feeling though, that this is kind of screwed up.
Display fee. A fee to display a picture of your check. For three dollars.
WHOEVER HEARD OF SUCH MADNESS, MILEY CYRUS?!
Clearly I need to upgrade to Performance Checking. Or a different bank.
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]