Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Holy Hills, Pittsburgh...

Hey, I heard you missed us, we're back.

Stefi & I have been living in Pittsburgh for four entire days now.  Aside from living next to T-Pain (I will try and post a picture if I can be ninja enough to get one ...) and our apartment having been renovated by an army of drunk retard monkeys (MUCH more on that topic later...) things seem to be going...well.  We're mostly unpacked (mostly) and the blessed blessed interwebs are back up and running.  I really hate to admit it but I need the fucking internet.  I didn't truly realize how much until I was without it for three entire days.  No kidding, I started to get the sweats and was mumbling about "another hit...just one more..." in my sleep.  It was most decidedly not pretty.

But in any event, we're settling in.  Grad Orientation starts on Friday and classes officially start Monday morning.  I've got my pencil, gimme something to write on, man.  I don't really want to go into too much depth on my hesitations and excitations about becoming a student again as that's not the reason I've started this blog up after almost two solid years of dead-zone; but I feel, as the next three years of my life are to be the focus of it, I should at least touch upon grad school.

The short SHORT version is like this:  I left Bristol a year ago.  I took, in the meantime, another job at a place called the Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA as both TD and Production Manager (looks cute, doesn't it?).  That sucked.  Sucked big time.  I met some great artsy people and made a friend or two that I can honestly say I will call friends for life; but the work itself?  Fucking lame.  Basically, I ditched the shop, the crew and the health insurance I had at BRT for less money and more time at work.  I know, looking back at it, I'm not sure what I was thinking.  But it wasn't my first choice.  Honestly, it wasn't.  It was between that job and teaching at Swarthmore College, which I was seriously in the running for until I was, you guessed it, passed over for a guy with less experience but with a masters degree.  Which led to one of the toughest and longest seasons of my life (and to the realization I suck as a production manager...go ahead, ask my old boss).  And it has lead my to another conclusion:

The job market sucks.  I'm a good-to-decent TD (time in Bristol and in Ambler have taught me that) but I have limits.  There's so much stuff out there that I haven't a clue how to do and if I want to eventually not work for a small-time regional theatre that can't afford to pay their people a living wage, I need to go big or go home.  With only a Bachelor of Arts in my pocket I look mediocre, at best, on paper.  No one wants to talk to you, really, in the education world of theatre without a masters degree and since there are so many people with those degrees making up the majority of the at-large work force, it became only logical to start looking at going back to school.  That's it, in a nutshell.  Aside from the feelings of Hiding Out, there's really no part of me that doesn't feel this is a good idea.

Except one, tiny little part.  I've driven a standard transmission just about my entire life.  Philadelphia has got its own share of driving pains but in Pittsburgh it's a different story.  In Pittsburgh they have got these hills that have got to be some of the worst hills in the world to build a city around or in or on.  It's fantastic.  They go STRAIGHT UP; and then STRAIGHT DOWN.  It's..., well, it's FANTASTIC.  And it isn't really even a matter of shifting gears or anything but...they go STRAIGHT UP.  We've only been here a couple of days but there have already been times when we've gone up to the top of some of these hills and car's still going up!  I'm like, "Where the hell's the land?!  For crying out loud..."  It's the only time I've ever stood up in my car, "WHERE THE HELL'S THE LAND!!???"  And then, when we HAVE gone down, we've gone STRAIGHT DOWN...  Stefi's screamed at me, "Put the brakes on!" And I'm like, "Are you crazy?!  The back of car will flip over this way...!"  I'm fairly certain our insurance company will not cover us for a head-to-head collision with a hill.

Stefi's station wagon died on vacation (engine exploded, long story) so we're experimenting with being a one-car couple.  I'm able to take the bus to and fro campus for free (thank you, Port Authority...) so whatever job(s) Stefi has to go to she'll be able to drive.  When we decided to not fix her Ford, I started teaching her to drive my Celica.  At the beach, where we first started, she did great with learning a manual transmission.  I mean, first gear is not her best friend (but whose is it?), second's not too bad; third is great.  Once she shifts into third gear, she's not shifting back for anybody.  Part of me thinks she'll run over a guy before she'll shift back into first gear again...  I have full confidence in my fiance to solidly manage my car (I understand that's not always an easy thing for a guy to say about his vehicle...) both on flat ground and on the ridiculous mountains this city is built on.  But we both get nervous.  It can't be helped.  I mean, I suppose, when planning a city, it makes a certain amount of sense to put a street along the top of a hill.  I suppose it also makes a certain amount of sense that other streets must intersect this first street (in order to, you know, MAKE A CITY) and that this must happen at some point or another and so it might as well be at the top of these hills.  But when we're sitting at a red light, with our car at a 60-degree angle all I can think is that by the time Stefi's foot has gotten from the brake to the accelerator we'll have drifted into the Monongahela River.  There's no way you get into heaven that way.  We go up to see St Peter, "How'd  you die?"  "Me and a Celica drifted backwards into the Mononghela River!"  "You go to Hell!"

I swear, this city is full of hedonistic city-planners.  Driving here is part riding the brakes and part slalom...

Man, that is word.  Good night and good luck.

4 comments:

David said...

I think Bill Cosby deserves some sort residual compensation for the contenet of this blog entry...

Anne said...

Pittsburgh roads ARE crazy! There's one road you can see from 279 north of the city where the sidewalk is all stairs. Have you noticed that there are a ton of roads and many intersect at weird angles?

Mickey said...

I recall the hills being a little bit... entertaining to drive on. But you'll both get the hang of that.

The real trick to getting around in the Burgh is realizing the "you can't get there from here"-ness of the city's layout. If you can see where you're going, you probably need to turn around and head another way. (Seriously. That is not a joke. You'll see.)

Duffy Batzer said...

You know a city is gonna be hilly if they have a funicular.