From Event

T-shirt for a cause, yinz guys

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

 

If you know Pittsburgh, you know the implication of bridges.

Not just that they close for repairs causing confusingly intricate detours or that they clog at rush-hour in a stampede of homebound yinzers, but the meaning in it all (even in the frustration) is that they are so very important to us.

“City of Bridges,” we’re called.

Built on industry and the treasures of the mineral-rich Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they merge into the Ohio—the three rivers form a triangle, if you can imagine it. With 446 bridges at last count, “City of Bridges” is an understatement, really. We’re utterly dependent on them.

The past year has been one for destruction, it seems: from the demolition of the Greenfield Bridge last December to the epic and nearly irreversible fire damage caused to the Liberty Bridge (in the midst of an $80 million reconstruction, no less). But the real threat to our everyday (in Pittsburgh and beyond)—detours and delays aside—has come from a not-so-concrete source: a certain president-elect’s campaign.

Like many, I have spent the last few weeks in shock and horror. Not just because my candidate didn’t win, but because we have elected an unqualified, overinflated and narcissistic hatemonger. Whether he believes in the bigotry and intolerance himself is irrelevant. He used a group of people—the hopeless worn-out underbelly of this country’s dying industry—as a means to his own end by scapegoating, making impossible promises and inciting violence and hate.

(Really, I don’t want to hear that you do not align yourself with such values, Mr. Almost-President. In fact, your “just stop it” admonition on television was as weak as it was hypocritical. You did this. You can’t just hit the stop button.)

I won’t lie. I’m angry, fed up. I’ve deleted Facebook friends. I’ve ignored. I’ve blocked. I’ve holed myself up in a bubble, comfortable only at my local coffeeshop and my apartment (with my two smooshy-faced cats and my partner.) I’ve wanted to punch out family members, pelt eggs at signs, scream at the top of my lungs, ram into the car in front of me just for donning the wrong bumper sticker… but I know it won’t help, that I will just be feeding the thing I am fighting against.

“I’m done being nice,” I’ve said, over and over. And I mean it.

But what I mean is… I refuse to be quiet, to be passive, to let this be normal, to watch people I love be badgered or bullied. No, I won’t clock the conservative with the “Make America Great Again” hat in the checkout line, but I won’t shut up either. So I made a t-shirt.

“Figure out a way to use your art,” said a wise man and fellow fixture at Biddle’s Escape, responding to the expression of my post-election helpless-hopelessness.

I created the BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS design because I needed to do something. With the help from my friends and their realized dream, Tiny Little Monster, we were able to create a snuggly soft tee with a powerful message. The best part? I will be sending all of the profits for t-shirt sales to Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

My hope now is that we’ll only get stronger from this division, that somehow this brigade of big hearts will triumph. Just as the Greenfield Bridge replacement takes shape over 376, just as the Liberty Bridge has been recovered from its near-collapse… we keep moving, we keep finding a way to the other side.

 

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

Get Your T-Shirt

BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS shirts are available to pre-order online (shipping out February 7th) or drop by Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square to pick up a shirt and a French Toast Latte.

For special orders or ideas, drop me a line.

<3
mt

 

 

*Special thanks to Tiny Little Monster for their cause-loving discount which has allowed me to donate over half of the money from each purchase to the cause. 
**Also, a big thank-you to Joe Davis (a.k.a. Mr. Biddles) for believing in me and the cause (always).

Moving and not moving

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So it goes.

A and I packed up our shit, piled into our friends’ car and hit the road for Asheville last Thursday morning. Doped up on Dramamine and too little sleep, my heart was fluttering and flying. Despite the excitement, I fell asleep over and over again in A’s lap, waking to a new state each time I opened my eyes. I felt like I was small again, curled up in the backseat completely dependent on the grown ups manning the ship. You know. I wasn’t worried about the music choice, taking the wrong exit, weather conditions, traffic… just at peace, swaying to the hum of the tires rounding below.

We were moving to Asheville. I did it all. I talked to my workplace. That was step one. A scary step one that seemed to go over well. Relief.

Then, I started mentally preparing myself. When I woke up in the mornings, I began to log all that I would say goodbye to soon. Goodbye, room. Goodbye, cat. Goodbye, mornings stumbling out of the house and to the gym. Goodbye, Oakland Avenue. I got myself pretty sad just by doing it. But it needed to be done. Preparation. A lot of things that make you sad need to be done. True story.

Next, I told my friends. Most everyone close to me (and even those in my periphery) probably know how I long to move, leave this dot on the map. It’s not because I hate everyone or that I have fallen out of love with my buddies or even that I don’t enjoy where I am. It’s mostly because the world is so large, so full, and we all get stuck in these little grooves. I want to unstick myself. I want to explore a little, gain some experience points. Everyone I know has moved or left, left and come back, picked up and never returned to their home base. I just want that freedom, even if for a little while. I don’t think my declaration was much of a surprise to anyone, really. Maybe only in that I was serious this time. I was taking all the right steps. Hell, I even threw up an elusive Instagram photo that seemed to trigger an online hullabaloo of goodbyes I wasn’t equipped for. Damn.

I saved this part for last, because it was what I dreaded most: I told my mom. Sure, it was a flighty text message. Of course, she misunderstood it the first time and I had to retell her days later. You bet I used plenty of good emojis and made sure to keep things light. It’s all I know how to do. But all was well. I was a grown up, doing grown up things, about to thrust myself into a new world. Good, grown up.

But then the actual trip came. A and I planned to scope out neighborhoods, look up places to live (which we’d already been doing on Craigslist). We started our journey jazzed up, ready to take on the Asheville rental community. But this gusto quickly fizzled. The prices were high, the waitlists were long, the competition was nearly impossible.

“Yeah, we put something up on Craigslist and get about 14 calls in the first hour. It’s hard to keep up with,” a prospective landlord divulged.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no dumb-bum. I know a salesperson when I see one, but this was the story from everyone we spoke with—from property management companies to Asheville newcomers to old-head Asheville folk. It is competitive.

“About 1 in every 10 people that come to see my places,” another prospective landlord estimated, “is actually from North Carolina. The rest are from out of state. Everyone wants to move here!”

Ok, so it’s difficult. I know difficult. I work so hard. I am not afraid of work. But it wasn’t the work that had us waving our white flag. We made posters, hung them up in coffeeshops. We made calls, met up with people. Drove around looking for lawn signs (not an Asheville thing, by the way). We went out of our way to converse with strangers in grocery stores, in restaurants, on the streets. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s networking. Because why not? I’m always willing to help someone out. That’s how the world works. We’re here for each other.

So why no move? It was that the magic that seemed lost. Maybe it was the hustle and bustle of competition, the way a prize is hyped up to be more than it is. Sure, the mountains are beautiful, the hippie liberal swag of the city, the artist vibe of every indie shop, the temperate weather and influx of sunshine… it’s a great place, it really is. And everyone knows it. Jobs are scarce, housing is rare and overpriced, every corner we turned (both literally and figuratively) seemed flooded. Asheville is the trend and we were hopping on board—but perhaps too late. Maybe it was that we both got our periods and were overwhelmed with hormones and paranoia and doubt. Is it worth it? Giving up our friends and home and connections and A’s career. Loads of questions and in it unfamiliarity.

I’m not saying it won’t happen ever, that I won’t ever unstick myself from this groove. But maybe it’s not the worst groove to be stuck in, you know? And before jumping ship, I want to make sure I’m diving into the right sea. It might not be Asheville. It might not be now. And as embarrassed as I am to redact my former verdict of leaving, I’m glad that we discovered this before it was too late.

Now we’re looking in Pittsburgh, Regent Square being a hopeful possibility.

And to be honest, I’m eager to throw myself into Pittsburgh: a place I already know and love and court on the weekends like some fulfilling affair. Hey, I’m excited again, feeling rejuvenated, thinking about all the lovely, lovely people I’ve gotten to know there. The writers, the Biddle’s crew, the Bayardstown folk… if you’ll have me. <3

So the bottom line? Appreciate the now, where you are, the present dance. It’s a hymn I’ve sung to many, even lately. But one that I struggle with myself.

I accept the challenge.
mt

Art-drunk & Inspired: Local artist Gabe Felice makes memories at Headkeeper

Last eve, at Headkeeper in Greensburg, Gabe Felice had his gallery opening. Sweetness! This kid has it going on as an artist, man. No joke. Sometimes I wonder if he’s been peeking in at my brain and painting it. His art is bold, intricate and nearly intoxicating: lines, colors and distinct faces that peek at you from everywhere. Go Gabe!

Along with the surreal nature of Gabe‘s abstract musings, the night seemed just as fantastical with an interesting mash-up of banjo and electric guitar—that you couldn’t take your eyes from—and a man giving free tarot card readings.

Cuban-inspired pizza with diced pickles! Swoon-worthy!

Headkeeper, located in downtown Greensburg, PA, is a local tapas bar with a tasty, ever-changing gourmet menu and a wall of over 600 kinds of beer, both imports and domestics. I won’t lie, the wall of beer is what had me hooked since the dawn of its inception. Hey, I like options: buffets, a plethora of Pandora radio stations, t-shirts in every color, a draw spilling over with pens. It’s true!

Since its inception, this dreamy hangout with its industrial decor, colorful culinary creations and all-around sweet vibe has really given Greensburg a shove in the right direction. To think, just a few years ago, my friends and I were stopping by the same locale [the adjacent six-pack shop] to pick up 40’s of Mickey’s. These days, Headkeeper hosts art shows, live entertainment and even beer-tasting events. We really got lucky with this one, fellow Greensburgers.

On a more personal note, one of the highlights of the night for me was getting my cards read.

Image from the Rider-Waite deck.

I’ve read cards since high school, so I mean, I’m no newb to such things. But! To have someone else read them is always much more beneficial. Besides, we all have different energies, right?

I am the moon! Mister tarot reader tells me it’s my “super power.” I’ve been telling my friends this for, like, a year, at least. Even if I’ve got the fire of the sun, Leo, in me, I’m mostly moon. I think Atwood’s poem, “Tricks with Mirrors,” is a great way of highlighting some of the negativity I feel about being “the moon.” 
“Don’t assume it is passive/ or easy, this clarity/ with which I give you yourself.” —Atwood

He made some good points, though: the phases; the fact that the moon is great at observing patterns—a helpful way to learn from the cycles of life and myself. Still, the moon’s secretive otherworldly darkness and ability to reflect the brightness of others is where my real truth lies.

So what?

A little nugget of validation is all. That and lots of “truths” that eve. I suppose that was the most lively Sunday night in a long time: mystical insight, gabs with friends, colorful art staring back at you and a boy beating sounds from a banjo.

mt

END OF THE WORLD | Nearing the apocalypse with chicken wine…

[Thanks to NASA/media.techeblog.com]

I’ve been railing on about the end of the world all year, perhaps, but just lately it’s been feeling inevitable. Ha! Not really, but it’s December 18th, and with a mere four days until Earth’s supposed finale, I’ve been questioning everyone.

“So what IF it were really, positively, the end of the world on the 21st—what would you do, starting now?”

The responses have been both sad and funny, all of which have made me think a lot. Of course, peeps are asking in response, almost sarcastically: “What about you?” To which, I have yet to respond. In lieu of my blogging endeavors, I thought I’d make a post about it. And then ask you lovely people.

If I’m scaring you, or you’ve been fearing this on your own accord, let NASA assuage your worries.

The first thing I’d do if I got the news rightthissecond? Leave work and never come back. I’d snatch up the few necessary items of importance that I have hangin’ about in my office: a photo of Jake, my cardboard robot chicken,  my favorite Papermate Flair Razor Point pen, the Instagram-ed/printed/laminated photo of my friend D and I in Cape Cod [that always makes me smile], and my favorite rock [long story.]

From here, I’d get gas and a coffee drink at Sheetz—and probably a meatball MTO [an indulgence that I never indulge in!]  (: Then, I’d hit up the liquor store and buy seven bottles of chicken wine, Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon, and scavenge the Youngwood area for cocaine or crack or speed or meth. C’mon. Who wants to sleep right before the end of the world? Not this girl. Lots to do.

First thing is first: I’ve got some people to smooch. I think there is a running list of like 10 (really, there are more, but don’t judge me!); honestly though, I’d settle for hitting up the top 5. With only a few days at my disposal, I’d try to accomplish this in one day. I’d waste one bottle of wine on this, driving double-fisted: water and wine. How would I approach the smooching situation? I’d probably just do it. If I felt the need for words, it might be something like: “C’mon, all I’ve ever wanted to do is kiss you. Let me.”

Romantic, huh? What can I say?

It sort of reminds me of that moment in Grease 2: “Let’s do it for our country.” Haha… yep.

HAHA priceless face on this chick… [thank stagevu.com]

Once all smooching happened (or didn’t), depending on my locale, I’d probably head home and say my farewells to Matt and the cat, pack up some clothing items, my computer, my writings and showering things. I’ll be on the road for the rest of the “end.” While still in the Greensburg area, I’d try to find my other friends, you know? But I mean, this all wagers on what everyone ELSE is doing, obvi. Kelly, Amy, Adam, all thems. [:

Next stop: I’d visit my mother. On my way to her house, though, I’d buy a delicious chocolate-y cheesecake and some serious fast food. Also, I’d swing by downtown New Ken and score some tree. There is reason for this. My mom used to be a hippie, so I think I’d want to smoke with her. More for her than my reasons. She might need some to calm her down, as it will be a pretty stressful time for everyone, I bet. We’d smoke, eat and pop open my second bottle of chicken wine. I’d spend a day with her and the cat, and then leave her with the remainder of tree and a bottle of chicken wine.

Three bottles down, four more to go.

Rex Goliath—the 47 lb. rooster! LOVE!

Ok, off I go. I think, next, I’d visit my aunt, my step mom, Wendy, Shawna, Bobi… the historical peeps in my life. I’d have to. Whether I see them often or not, they are some of the most important people to me. Does that make sense? I’d at least give them a squeeze, a smooch on the forehead and just tell them I love them and thank you. I think Wendy and I could drink a bottle of my chicken wine together and have a blast: reminiscence and be goofy. We’d laugh a lot, I bet. Sometimes I’m sure that she and I have a similar humor. Perhaps it rubbed off in adolescence?

Next, I’d head across the river to see my sister, brother and nephew. I’d ask him to color with me. I’d hope we could color for a good while and just hang together. All of us. I’d ask him a lot of questions, like: “What do you want to be when you grow up? And: “What do you think you’ll look like when you’re 20?” This is kind of sad, and I’d probably cry. He may or may not understand that. Only kiddos like him are a reason to be sad for the apocalypse. I might ask him the meaning to life, too. I’m thinking, if there is a solid answer to this, only a kid would know. Not a grown up. We’re jaded and analytical and overwhelmed by the mundanity of day-to-day existence. I think kids are smarter than we are for this reason. Honest and typically untainted.

THEN! With three more bottles to go [counting down and mapping by wine, apparently] I’d route my way to McMurray/Canonsburg to visit with the surrogate family. I’d squeeze L [a.k.a. “the Peanut”] so hard she’d poop her pants. Ha. But we’d color, for sure. Maybe cut up some paint swatches and get crafty. I’d get her a Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and some gummies. If I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that gummies, crafts and kiddos are the cure for just about any kind of sadness you can experience. True life. [“Real talk,” as Ernie would say.]

While there, I’d hug M, wrestle with Big D, then enjoy my third-to-last bottle of chicken wine with… Miss D. We could chain smoke cigs, laugh about goofy things and hopefully get to peep the stars/sky/moon for a bit. And the Koi! Even after our hang sesh, she could go be with her family and I’d probably tent-up on the front patio and hang with the fishes for an eve, getting to see the big clear sky. That place is like a vacation sometimes. No worries. All beauty. Nothing is mine to do or fix or clean or stress over. You know? Except when I break shit… ugh.

I assume at this point, with only two bottles of chicken wine left, that there isn’t much time either. I would try to find Ernie. I’d like to spend my last moments with her, if I could. I think she gets it, and I know, she is fearless. But she’ll probably have her own agenda. If she is too caught up, I’d probably just go to the ocean. Alone. If not with Ernie, I’d want to be alone. And wait for the end kissing to the beautiful sky and ocean with my last two bottles, coked-out, reading a book or something—also writing and doodling. Yep.

I must add, I’d be praying that this apocalypse would have NOTHING TO DO WITH zombies. Ugh, especially the fast ones like on 28 Days Later. I mean, it’s called the “Rage Virus.” Enough!

UH… HELL NAW. [Thanks to 28dayslater.wikia.com]



So there it is. Personal and semi-compact: my end of days. But here are some of the more comical and/or important responses I’ve heard thus far:

“I’d let out all the dogs in the shelter down my street.”

“I’d make some calls, apologize to a few people for some shitty things I did.”

“I’d unlock all of my guns.”

“I’d lie in bed with my husband, the dog between us. That’s it!”

“I’d curl up in a ball and cry.”

“Drugs. A lot.”

HA! Some of these are stellar. But…
Now, it’s your turn! How about you? Tell me things!
mt

Poem-A-Day Contest and Sandy

(WEATHER UNDERGROUND/ Associated Press ) - This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM EDT shows Hurricane Sandy over the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and moving toward the north. Farther north, a cold front moves into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley with showers and thunderstorms.
Thanks to The Washington Post [online 10.25.12]

Well, if you haven’t been touched by Miss Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a “Frankenstorm,” perhaps you have already begun a deep hibernation. That or you’re not an easterner. Either way, you’ve heard of it, right? Right. Because the news made it out to be apocalyptic, fetching a few items from the grocery store became its own sort of apocalypse. I’m still pouting because they were out of both my milk and creamer. And god forbid if we needed toilet paper at the time.

While I understand the cause for concern near the Atlantic, the rest of us, in-landers, experienced what was another not-so-uncommon rainy windy cold front. I suppose it could’ve been worse; however, the need for over-the-top adjectives seemed to insight more panic than necessary. OMGSANDYYY GO BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!11

At least we’re survivors. Yes. So. My heart goes out to those coastal folk, because those are the peeps who need the worry and toilet paper and water. If you have extra, send something or donate! Better yet, hit up your local Blood Bank. They could use the pints!

So, beginning tomorrow, I’m taking on a poem-a-day challenge for the whole month of November. Interested? Check out the deets!

If nothing else, I hope to get something from the experience. Chapbook irrelevant. I’ve always wanted to do the whole novel in a month thing, but this seems more my style!

Happy haunting boogers!!!
mt

Falling, fire trees & the Stank Bug Wars

So. It’s here. Fall. And finally we’re getting a taste of this glorious season—and I’m not just talking pumpkin lattes and pastries; though, I think I’ve hit up just about pumpkin-flavored treat this side of the Mississippi. The hillsides are lit up with every fiery shade imaginable, and for once, I’m glad to be a Pennsylvanian suburbanite. There aren’t many times you’ll hear me say that… Let’s face it: unless you’re glued to your careers or your families, most of us are forever planning our escape routes. It’s like one of those emergency exit maps on the wall, you know? I’m sure we all have them taped up in our heads.

We bitch about the cold. We bitch about the heat. And if there is any middle ground, it’s probably raining. So when fall rolls around and the colors pop, I think—just maybe—it’s not so bad.

But then again, the Stank Bug Wars of 2012 make this cooler weather a plight all its own: a battle of wits, perhaps, to keep these resilient, alien-faced troops out of our homes, our cars and, as of the other day (for this girl), our beds. Listen, folks, it’s no joke. These nasty warriors sport camouflage and a visible armor reminiscent of Zelda’s shield. It’s not bad enough they can fly, but these nasty bastards are running amok on stick legs with some ungodly self-adhesive properties, making them more than a bitch to remove from your clothes or your hair.

And if you think I’m being dramatic, I probably am. Bugs are an irrational fear of mine. Besides, according to Stink Bug Smackdown, they don’t DIE. Stinkbugs just HIBERNATE. In your house, people! If you don’t think this is a problem, then why don’t you come take mine with you, huh?!

Oh, and something delicious to remind you about, as my friend just so sweetly reminded me (you know who you are!), there is a recipe for a stink-bug-seasoned bean dip. Yeah, apparently these lemon-headed creeps taste like cilantro! In Bruce Leshan’s article on 9News Now, “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em,” you can find a recipe for Stink Bug Tacos even.

Shit, people… get on this train. You eat the bugs. They leave me alone. Simple.

I drew a little cartoon here. Can I tell you? I actually gagged whilst drawing the “unders.” Gross.

And I think that is about all for today. Up all night grading papers last night, spending my day working…still thinking about all the things I want to do. Such is life.

Hopefully you’re enjoying what is left of the season… sans the stink bugs.

Infected Zombie Blood

It’s that time again… preparing for the epic event of the year—the (holy shit!) 6th? Annual Halloween Party. Really creative title, right? Anyhow, Teesh and I are set to go all out, as far as decor goes. Today, we were perusing the Halloween section at Target, getting all giddy (high-pitched squeals, repetitive LOOK AT THIS‘s, touching/picking up/fondling everything). If you were to walk by while grabbing the obligatory bag of Reese’s Cups on special, you might think we were an unfortunate pair of four-year-olds stuck in hoodies.

As an aside, Target and I have issues. It seems I can’t walk in there without dropping at least double the amount of money I should be spending. That big red bull’s-eye? Yeah, it’s the same color of my car. The car they’re going to repossess after I spend all of my money at Target.

We decided this year, instead of spending a ridiculous amount of cash-money on corny decorations of cartoon ghosts with cut-out eyes and snaggle-toothed witches, we would make our own. Kids, I realize this is September, but one only has so much time to put together the bangin’-est party. Figure in a reasonable amount of time for make-your-own-decor, a suitable sleazy punch recipe, and about nine-to-ten days working on a costume that no one in the world has EVER thought of… and you’ve got yourself a solid month of planning (or more). Besides, these old, shady bottles we just bought at Goodwill aren’t going to fill themselves with questionable nasties.

Which leads me to the point… any ideas for ghoulish decor? Teesh and I decided to start with about $10 worth of glass bottles, in which will contain various liquids and maybe even PEELED GRAPES… I mean, eyes. I think this is classy. Set them up all over the house. Hope nobody tries to drink them. You know… nothing says Halloween like an accidental Windex ingestion!

Well, it’s getting late. I just know I’m going to have nightmares after the brainstorm session I had coming up with “labels” for these bottles. Eye of Goat Radish. Scuzzum of Mink Husk. Infected Zombie Blood.

Sweet dreams.

Just bee

Well, if you haven’t heard… I’ll be Professor Chicken by the end of this month. Ok. I’m teaching one class at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. (From where I graduated about… ugh… 4 years ago.) Wow. Anyhow, it has me working some serious tail feathers, along with my arty art projects and cooking and sweating (the humidity this way has been obnoxious) and and and still trying to keep up any sort of motivation to do normal things like grocery shop, clean Mr. Winston’s cage, or sleep. Summer-induced insomnia. Nice.

But fall is coming! Are you pumped? It’s my favorite, even if it is cliche. These last few days, the air just feels like fall, you know? To me, it is so much more fresh than spring. Spring is mud and melted snow and rain and mud. And while Tash finds it depressing, the upcoming leaf-falling season gives me this strange feeling in my tummy—like butterflies with dumbbells tied to their wings. And THEN this whole montage of flashbacks (haunted houses, sipping cider, carving pumpkins, etc.) plays in my head with the reflective yet raspy backdrop of “It’s a Wonderful World.” Ha. It’s not that serious, maybe, but it is that corny.

I took this little snap when Tash and I went to visit Amy in Lancaster (Lan-cus-ter: she’ll beat you if you don’t say it right). We were hiking somewhere crazy (up RT 81, I believe)… and the whole forest floor was covered like this. It was like a dream…

Speaking of dream. That’s one huge pumpkin. Note the text on the little white one (and squash). Totally didn’t see that.
What’s your favorite season? I find Winter-lovers interesting. I like Winter… for like a second.
Ahhh… I better crash.
mpt