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Sunday, July 27, 2014

In Which I Attempt To Cope With Life's Tough Passage


Okay, so it's been a rough number of months. I don't want to bellyache too much here, because, really who wants to read that crap, so I'll attempt to be brief.

Geo's Mom has been in and out of the hospital/rehab since March. What started off as surprise knee replacement surgery (from which the 87 year-old Wonder Kid kicked butt recovering), has progressed to our Bionic Baba grappling with a mystery blood loss, leukemia scare, possible bowel obstruction, low blood sugar and general fear of living alone. And just as she was starting to manage the tide of physical therapists, occupational therapists and nurse visitations, she's back in the hospital due to dehydration and possible gall stones.

That poor thing. Her entire quiet, controlled world has been turned upside down. She's a worrier by nature anyway, and now she is overwhelmed. Adding to the pot, she has contracted the Mother of all staph infections, C-Diff which has kept her isolated from the general populace in her rehab facility. As if that isn't enough to contend with, she is having a particularly awful side effect from a new medication which may or may not be the source of her current psychotic break. There seems to be no end in sight. Heartbreaking.

Growing old is not for the weak.

Needless to say, between my schedule, Geo's busy season at work and his steady trips to visit his Mom in the hospital/rehab, we have had little time together. But, boy howdy, we found time to have a ginormous, knock-down, drag out fight, the intensity of which has not been seen since we were newlyweds and the heat of our shouting melted the wallpaper.*

Then the Pens squandered a 3-1 game lead to lose to the FUCKING RANGERS!! ACK! Only booze helps.*

(*Note of full disclosure: in my ongoing inability to finish what I start, this post was begun months ago, hence the hockey reference. The Pens went on to squander the series, resulting in an early golf season and a major personnel shake down. Blerg.)



Sprinkled amidst the stress has been a number of high points which have helped keep me sane. Meanwhile, it's my stoic Geo who really needs the distraction as he tries to come to terms with this newfound sense of helplessness regarding his Mother's care and general well-being. Alas, there lies the rub of our current situation. In any case, here's a brief round up:

Mother's Day was a boisterous house full of family and friends. It gives me great joy to watch Big Mar sparkle and come to life in her social element surrounded by those she loves.

Photobombing guests with the classic Pitt Cheerleader move. Bonus: Ricky didn't snap his spine and Murray didn't pee her pants.

YOLO, MoFos!

I took four days off to travel to visit my sister-friend, Steph and her adorable cherub, Melody. We hung out, spent a day at Ocean City eating every deliciously unhealthy thing we could get our hand on and were immersed in bouffants, boas and animal print at Hon Fest in Balmer. Her hubby even made us dinner one night. HOLLA! So much fun!

baby's first carousel ride

little mj could not get enough of the beach

stimulus overload d├ęcor only acceptable at the beach

a plethora of kites

Honfest, doggie style
wait... that doesn't sound right

my favorite Hons of the day
men in frocks... gotta love it

honfest mascot

priceless



The following week was Pelino Sisters Week At Long Beach Island. June proved to be unintentionally busy. I pinkie swear to Baby Jesus I did not plan to travel so much that month. Anywho, this year my brother's wife, Leslie braved the incessant talking and joined us. It was as heavenly as usual. Cocktails, sun, seafood, cocktails, surf, cocktails. Rinse and repeat. I have to say it was so fun having Leslie chill in the lagoon with me all afternoon. These girl weekends always rejuvenate the soul.

four.. four pelini sisters

my adorable sister

our private pool on a gorgeous shore morning

big mar and her sun-lovin' brood
partial, anyway



And then there were the outings with my spectacular niece, Regi. She introduces me to all sorts of zany stuff, like Evil Dead, The Musical. A campy, tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek musical based on the splatter horror flicks starring the one and only, Bruce Campbell. For a diminutive local, storefront theater, it was really well acted, especially the young man playing Bruce Campbell.

poor dear. i am her id

These people were hilarious. And the splatter was awesome. Gobs and gobs of it sprayed the designated splatter zone. And everywhere else, for that matter. Being the space was only five rows deep, pretty much all of the theater was a splatter zone. We all were handed ponchos, but several patrons opted to mar their cheap suits in streaks of stage blood.

front row splatter lovahs

doesn't he look like Bruce Campbell?!


The laughs were often and of the belly variety.

She and I also went to see the live RiffTrax (former cast members of Mystery Science Theater 3000) performance of Sharknado. Mike Nelson and company set up shop in a theater in Minnesota in front of an audience and riff on the abundant stupidity that is Sharknado much to the delight of audiences in select theaters across the US. Uber amusing.

And then this happened.

RAAAAWR!

YOWZA!! Mr. Hunkapaloosa, Joe Manganiello (a local boy from my neighboring borough) was in town for the premiere and his directorial debut of the strip club documentary, La Bare. There was a Q & A with Alcide after the showing. He was just as delightful, charming and self-depracating as you would hope. He represents the Burgh very well. And he dates Sofia Vergara. Jebus! I can't even imagine how gorgeous those chillins would be. Their all-consuming beauty would be deadly.

Man, it's fun to hang out with a grown up niece.



On the musical front:




Went to see Alabama Shakes. The music started sounding the same after about five songs, but Holy Hell, she is quite the force. To be honest, though, the evening was as much about the camaraderie with my girlfriends and Top Cat as it was the music.



The Mavericks are a Tex Mex prescription to cure any ill, for an evening anyway. No opener, a plethora of hits and covers over two + hours, two encores including an accordion version of Boogie Shoes, and an uber animated long-haired guitar player in a white suit. Who could ask for more. Dancing and singing with friends does a heart good.





I know, I know. you can't see his face,
but I love the lighting and this is my blog so..
shut the hell up
and enjoy these videos








And then there was Neko Case backed by Kelly Hogan at the Byham Theater, where acts perform under a ceiling of boobs.



Neko did an in-studio performance at WYEP the afternoon prior to the show, singing three new songs and sharing some jarring facts about her family dynamic. The interview is streaming here. And yes, Kelly WAS playing a Garden Weasel tine. The show was incredible. She has a strict NO CAMERAS/CELLPHONE policy. She's a very strong person who demands your attention. Standing on stage in her skeleton pants, with her mane of unruly red hair, and feral intensity... she made me want to be fierce.


The ever-energetic Fitz and the Tantrums was my inaugural outdoor concert at the fabulous Stage AE on the north shore. They are just one big, non-stop party! A huge neon heart, lots of spot lights with happy face cookies, and a confetti cannon amped the evening up to eleven. The packed house willingly aped Fitz' gestures, pogoed (even me even though jumping up and down is a dangerous thing for a woman of a certain age, yo) and took over the vocals for several of their bigger hits. A sweaty, fun time was had by all.



a happy ending




Here's Nicole shadow dancing her wee heart out.





And lastly, local favorite sons, The Clarks had their CD release party for their outstanding effort, Feathers and Bones outdoors at Stage AE. Their show capped off a delightful evening with one of my favorite chica buddies, Suzanne. Deck Mojitos, barbecue and exquisite White Pear Martinis in a swanky-ass eatery was the precursor to the Clarks triumphant performance. Much like my loves, Old 97's, they've been together for 28 years. Much like Most Messed Up, Feathers and Bones is their most mature, honest and well-received album to date. Their new stuff rocks live, too! Scott, Rob, Greg and Dave could not be any nicer. Always sweet to their fan base.

In addition to a stop at WYEP, Scott and Rob always take time to stop by our little dog and pony morning show to sing a few songs and do the weather. Scott's a freak about weather. Their performances are at 11:00 and 40:00.








proud papa scott singing with his adorbs daughter

shimmy shimmy low


One of the things I love about their outdoor show is how their wives and kids sit on the side of the stage during the show. During Shimmy, Shimmy Low, Scott's little girl ran up and sang with him. So freaking SWEET!! And so wonderfully Pittsburgh.


the families bunked on the stage

the grateful local legends



Here's the band singing Map of the Stars off the new album.





The summer was in full swing that evening, making it necessary to go home and hose off before bed, but I'm not complaining. I love this season, sticky weather and all.


Great friends, family and music are the stuff of survival when life rears up and punches you square in the nuts. I'm so grateful. I only wish Geo could have a similar release.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option." - Maya Angelou


I've been thinking about these wise words a lot over the past several months. I am a lucky woman blessed with many friends located near and far. Each of them fit into a particular facet of my splintered personality. Each is a wonderful human being whose strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies add brilliant colors to my life's paint box. Each is a unique spirit, whose light, kindness and humor bring unmitigated joy to this ole bag o' bones.

There are levels of closeness in relationships. Some of these outstanding humanoids have struck a chord deep within my soul. We trust each other implicitly. We have built a bond which enables us to be our true selves, warts and all, without fear of rejection. Destined to be friends forEVAH no matter the physical distance between us.

Others in this marvelous Whitman Sampler fall into more of a group designation. Kindred spirits in a specific interest, be it music, athletic activity (which is code for drinking wine in yoga pants*), or a common hobby/passion. And some I refer to as my imaginary friends**. These are the people I've befriended via social media whom I've never met, but who make me laugh, cry and think every day.

Like I said, I'm blessed.

I try to be the best friend I can to each of my peeps, and let them know how much joy they bring to my pitiful existence. I know I'm far from perfect, but I try really hard not to be an asshole.

And yet, there are several people I have been very close with who have suddenly pushed me to arm's length. Okay, not so suddenly. The signs have been there, building for a year, but I have been in foolish denial mode BECAUSE I LIKE THEM, DAMMIT!! We were really tight, or so I thought. Where once phone conversations and texts were prevalent, now my messages are generally ignored and calls put off. I mean, I can see being shunned if I had breached a trust or some other such heinous action, but to my knowledge I have done nothing to poison the well. It's the not knowing why that I abhor.

It stings.

And hurts.

A lot.

So many amazing people in my life, and I focus my sights on the ones who are done with me, like a dog in a room full of animal lovers who insists on winning over the one dissenter.

In one case, this presumed former friend is like a cat, and we all know how cats are… cold, aloof, operating on their own agenda. But we were close, you know? She was my confidant, my pragmatic sounding board. We got along well. I don't understand her 180.

In another, the contact was much more frequent. Major bonding over lots of long phone calls, happy hours and visits. Our kinship was strong. We share so much common ground, which is probably why this particular fade plagues me the most. I'm not stupid. I recognize some friendships have a shorter shelf life, but I invested a lot of time and effort into these relationships. I believe I have earned an explanation as to why I suddenly lost my usefulness. I've reached out innumerable times, only to have my hand left bobbing in the icy wind. 

I miss them, and others, however, it is clear I have become an option, not a priority. Even though my heart refuses to let go, in my head, I know it's time to cut the chord and let that balloon float away...



*totally stolen from the interwebs
**totally stolen from my buddy, Steph