If you’ve been reading me (and by “me” I mean “my blog” and not the secret etchings I scratch behind my knees) for awhile now, you probably have picked up on the fact that I loathe my neighborhood. Technically, I live in the city of Pittsburgh, but it’s one of the more, god I can’t believe I’m about to use such a nice word on this place, SUBURBAN parts of Pittsburgh. But only in that the houses aren’t as sardine’d together as other areas, though. You still need to lock your front door. (Fun fact: I never locked my door until Henry moved in with me because I was so accustomed to growing up on a private line in an affluent area because burglaries NEVER HAPPEN out there, right guys?)
Being born and raised in the REAL suburbs, this is like extreme city-living for me. I moved to Brookline in 1999 when I was 19. I loved it because it was only about 15 minutes away from my home ‘burbs (read: close enough to go home to do laundry) and so conveniently located to all of the artsy urban areas that I felt like I had waited my entire life to be nearer to.
But then I had Chooch and suddenly I started thinking about grown-up things, like OMG THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS TERRIBLE. So Henry and I were determined to move out of the city before Chooch was school-age.
But then something crazy happened instead: I decided that I actually wanted to stay in my neighborhood. (Just…not in the same house. OMG I hate this house.) There’s a performing arts school downtown that we’ve been hoping to get Chooch into. City residents get free tuition and it was recently ranked #14 in the state. Chooch seems super gung-ho about it too, so hopefully he gets in. (He can audition in 5th grade to get into the middle school program.)
I was looking at their writing program awhile back and started crying.
Their mascot is a unicorn, for fuck’s sake. That school sounds like PARADISE.
So instead of fixating on all the shitty parts of this town, I have been trying to be more upbeat and appreciative (?) about this Yinzerville. Plus, I’ve grown so accustomed to being able to walk to so many places (CVS is only a few blocks away! I am never in need of nail polish anymore!).
(OK that’s a lie. I’m always in need of nail polish!)
For instance, if I want ice cream, THERE ARE TWO PLACES I CAN WALK TO GET ICE CREAM:
The first place is Scoops, which has the best hard ice cream and like 87 flavors, including the best birthday cake ice cream I’ve ever had (as seen in the picture above, crowning a scoop of banana cream pie). Also, they have red velvet ice cream. RED VELVET ICE CREAM. Sometimes I like to get that made into a milk shake and sometimes I cry when I’m done sucking it down. I used to hate them though because they took over a place called Boulevard Ice Cream or something equally generic, but that place was like an institution run by an affable old man who loved to chat and now it’s just a bunch of teenagers. (Although one of the guy-scoopers told me he liked my finger tattoos, so there’s that.)
(Speaking of tattoos, some broad who was the runner-up of that Dave Navarro tattoo show has a tattoo shop on the Boulevard.)
And now, in case I’m in the mood for soft serve, there’s Carnival Treats! It’s only like half a block further down from Scoops, but I’m scared that it won’t stay in business. So if you’re in Brookline ever, please go patronize Carnival Treats. You can buy a funnel cake without suffering exorbitant amusement park admissions!
Chooch and I were just there Sunday night and I have to say, their soft serve is delightful, but the sprinkles are too squishy, if that makes sense. However, the cake cones might be the best I’ve ever had! Like cinnamon is baked into them, OMG.
But maybe you don’t want ice cream or fried Oreos. Maybe you want olives and baklava. Thank god I got over my unfounded fear of Pitaland, because that place is a fucking babylon for fresh dates, holy shit. I love going there for a pound of them and also mysterious candy that Henry automatically insists I will hate. (And…sometimes I do.) Pitaland recently renovated and have a cafe now which is exciting.
If you don’t want to get yelled at for incorrectly pronouncing the National Breakfast Dish of Lebanon (I’m sorry, but “foul” looks like “foul” to me, not “fool.”), there are other more Yinzer-friendly places on the Boulevard, like Zippy’s (it’s a bar that LOVES THE STEELERS but they serve food too), some place called No Name Cafe or something that I honestly see like every day so you’d think I’d remember the name that they don’t have, a “coming soon” joint called Bama’s, and a cute little Greek spot called It’s Greek To Me. Henry and I used to go there a lot when we first started dating, but now we rarely go at all so I’m wondering if we experienced some sort of trauma there that is subconsciously keeping us at bay.
Or if you’re just in the mood for pink donuts with sprinkles (HENRY’S FAVORITE) or packzis (don’t ask), we have two bakeries on the Boulevard as well, OMG! DONUTS AND COOKIES, FUCK YES. Wash that shit down with coffee from Cannon Coffee down the street, you guys! God, I love that place. I wanted to stop there on the walk home from the park on Sunday but Henry had the biggest stick of all time penetrating his asshole, so instead of just going in without him, I decided instead to use this as an excuse to blame him for ruining my entire day.
And that’s exactly what I did, too. And that’s also why he cried like a bitch when Chooch and I went to get the aforementioned ice cream that night and Chooch also had a taco from the beloved Las Palmas taco cart because that’s what happens when daddies are being assholes. (They miss out on tacos, just in case you weren’t sure.)
(I was going to call Las Palmas “Brookline’s Best Kept Secret” but the hipsters already know about it, so….)
Some of the neighbors have nice flowers in their yards, if you’re the type that likes to pick them. In addition to free flora, there’s also a veritable bouquet of entertaining townies, too. Some days I wish I could just stay home and watch them walk past my house all day. (See also: Purple Pants; Tourette’s; Cheerleader Girl.)
If you smoke e-cigs, Brookline’s even got a vape shop classin’ up the Boulevard, so come on out.
And then when I have to take the TROLLEY TO WORK, UGH, my walk is only about 10 minutes long and it’s through a cute little neighboring town which has a froyo joint, a hot dog place that also serves veggie dogs (praise the vegan overlord), some diner that was inseminated with Guy Fieri’s hair gel & featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (does not live up to its hype, IMHO), and an awesome old theater that plays fantastic B-movies, indie flicks & classics.
So sometimes I have to remind myself that, while there might be an occasional discarded hypodermic needle in my yard and I fucking hate the guido douchebag* up the street, sometimes it is necessary to stop and think about all of the things I sincerely enjoy about my dumb town, and fondly imagine turning into one of the scary old people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk, conversing in angry Polish.
You should all come visit me and I will take you on a tour of nothing interesting and then we can take the trolley somewhere more exciting, OMG!
*(Seriously though, if you want to be flashy with your Corvette, Hummer, stone lion statues guarding your steps and FRONT YARD FOUNTAIN ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT SHIT, move the fuck out of Brookline, maybe to Long Island? Just a suggestion. Henry said the guy is a city LIEUTENANT which is so fucking rich to me because that motherfucker was pretty much the WORST offender this past winter with literally never shoveling and salting his sidewalk, way to lead by example, asshole! (I have a real thing against authority, you guys.) I HATE HIM AND HIS CONSTANT LAWN-SPRINKLING and lavish, grown-up frat parties and Chinese lanterns hanging in his perfect trees. We saw him roll up the other day in his Corvette and when some broad got out of the passenger side, Chooch said, “God, how did that guy ever get a WIFE?” BY BEING A GUIDO DOUCHEBAG, SON. Try to keep up.)
I just stressed myself out so bad.