So, it was home on Friday, then back on the road on Saturday. I took off about 10:30 Saturday morning, and pointed the car at Pittsburgh. The first thing I noticed was that the road was filled with these guys:
The fucksticks were everywhere!
The most common variation was the people that camped in the left lane, usually right beside or just barely behind a car in the right lane.
There was one guy in a red compact that was holding me up for miles, as he slightly passed and then fell behind the same car over and over again. Then I look and he’s got his hand out the window, playing with the wind current.
It’s times like that when I’m glad I don’t carry a gun, even though once I spelled out the circumstances, I’m sure no jury in the world would have convicted me. I still want that hood-mounted water cannon though.
After a couple of traffic jams, some caused by accidents, another by the dreaded Squirrel Hill Tunnel Monster, I rolled into the downtown Doubletree about 3:30, just minutes behind Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom Sister.
I had asked her if she wanted to come out to our bloggers’ get-together so that my friends could finally meet the person I’ve been writing about for the last couple years, and to prove that she was not a figment of my imagination. She accepted because she finally committed to starting a blog, plus there was a Pirates game in the plans. And any time she has a chance to stalk and capture an athlete to keep in her basement Silence of the Lambs pit, she takes it.
As luck would have it, the NHL was holding their amateur draft over this same weekend. It was taking place at the Penguins hockey arena, which was just down the block from the hotel. Bringing Sitcom Kelly to a target-rich environment like this was like bring the perv to the playground.
Sitcom Kelly studies the NHL Draft Conference Schedule in the hotel lobby, to plan the most effective stalking spots.
When I checked in, I was told that I had an “eco-room,” designed for maximum energy savings. This meant that they gave me a card that you stick in a slot by the hallway light. When the card is in, you can operate the lights and stuff. They also gave me a warm cookie, probably so that I’d go along with the eco-room scam.
I also noticed that the room thermostat was calibrated to the Celsius scale. I assumed that was so that most people would be too confused to mess with it.
I loved that I got a king-sized bed and 5 pillows. I didn’t know what to do first… freshen up from the drive, or make a pillow fort. Alas, we had places to go so I freshened up.
After much consideration of options, we decided to take the subway, aka “The T,” across the river to Station Square, and have a few drinks there before going to the restaurant. Our meet-up was at La Tavola, and they didn’t serve alcohol. You could bring your own, but I really didn’t want to schlep a bottle of wine all across town, so we figured we’d have a few early, meet for dinner at 6:00, then come back for a nightcap.
The restaurant was up on the top of Mt. Washington, so to get up there, we had to take the Incline. An “Incline” is like a single trolley car that while remaining on a horizontal plane, travels up the mountain on a railroad track. I’d only been on one once before, back in the 80s, so I enjoyed the ride.
Waiting for our car (on the left) to arrive. The other one is on the way up.
Once on top of Mt. Washington, we sought out the tourist platform, from which to shoot dazzling pictures of the city… like this one:
I love this city!
While we were all fixed up with Google Maps to get us to the restaurant, we ended up going a different way around the block that was in front of us. This proved to be a karmic gift, because we just so happened to walk by a liquor store. Figuring we were most of the way there by now, it was a much more manageable schlep for a wine bottle. I wanted to bring a wine box, but I have no idea what the corkage fee would have been on that.
By the time we rolled in, most of the people were already there. Maybe one day, I’ll actually arrive somewhere before Cassie does, but it hasn’t happened yet. But it was good to see my best blog friends.
Cassie, me, and Jessica. Jess also had her husband and daughter with her.
Mr. and Mrs. Carpetbagger were there as well!
Bluz, Carpetbagger, and the Mrs on the far side.
Bethany was there, with her man Casey and son Jones.
I was trying for a candid mother/son shot, but I probably should have asked her to look.
Facie was a newcomer to our events; she sat down on the end of the table with the Carpetbaggers and I.
Facie and Bluz
I swear, the next time we have an event at a restaurant, we have to get a round table or something. It’s so hard when half the group is only reachable via shouting. I never had much of a chance to talk to Cassie’s mom, Cassie, Jessica, or their husbands, the latter of which made an early break for it, with the kids. I’m curious what it’s like having your life written about when it’s not you doing the writing.
But I’m not complaining. I enjoyed getting to know Facie, and the Carpetbaggers are always entertaining. One thing I learned that surprised me was that until recently, Carpetbagger though my name was pronounced with a short “u.” I was shocked… I always thought it was obvious that Bluz should rhyme with “booze.” (Or “boos,” as it were.)
Maybe I should start spiffing up my branding and call myself “Blüzdude.” Probably not though… it just took my five minutes to find the umlaut. (Or are those what you call the fringy things on Michael Jackson’s shoulders? I get confused…)
About 7:30, much to my shock, amazement and utter delight, in walked Ginny, (nee PittGirl) of That’s Church, along with her 2 kids. I’d been trying to get her out to one of our meet-ups and while she’s been agreeable, Real Life has always intervened. We’d chatted briefly once before, after I spent half a day at Pittsburgh Podcamp 5, stalking her from room to room.
I promise, I tried really hard not to jibber at her about how great I think she is, but I’m afraid I was only partially successful. I’m pretty sure that I beat into the ground the fact that she was the one that inspired me to take up blogging. (So if you’re tired of reading my bullshit, blame her!)
Let me apologize right now to anyone else that wanted to talk to her that night. She couldn’t stay more than a half hour or so, so I’m pretty sure that I monopolized most of her time. But I couldn’t help it. Must have been that third glass of wine that eliminated my last shred of decorum.
But on the other hand, I got this…
Now I know for sure that talking to her was NOT a figment of my imagination.
Eventually, all our wine ran out, which signified the end of the event.
We bade our fond farewells and headed off into the night, once Cassie finished giving wrong directions to three different motorists. Sitcom Kelly, her sister and I took the Incline back down the mountain and went straight back to the bar at Station Square. Carpetbagger joined us, after dropping his wife back at home.
We had a few beers and gabbed there on the patio, enjoying the end of a thoroughly wonderful night. In fact, it was such a nice night; we eschewed taking The T back to the hotel and hoofed it ourselves.
I say, whenever you have a chance to take nighttime pictures of the city from the Smithfield Street Bridge, you take it.
I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that came out to our event and made it the special day it was. (Even if I hardly got to talk to you.) You are all beautiful people and your friendship means the world to me.
Next up: City walkabout, a Pirates game, and the siren call of homemade pasta.