6 Things I Learned Not to Hate While in Pittsburgh

by mo on 07/31/2010

These are all things I previously thought I hated, or at least would never really enjoy. So, I can thank Pittsburgh for my newfound enjoyment of these things.

1. The World Cup
I don’t watch sports, as a general rule…so the World Cup wasn’t even on my radar. I thought I would remain immune, and I did — but after weeks of being in a lab full of Brazilians and Dutch, even I could not resist the World Cup Vortex. The tipping point was going to a bar to watch the US/Ghana game (where we were eliminated) — somehow, being surrounded by everyone ridiculously shouting “Freedom!!” when we scored opened up a spot in my heart for the rest of the World Cup. I continued to follow along, and even though the teams I rooted for almost always lost, I was soon watching games midday, texting my friend Nick play-by-play updates during the Germany game, and, by the end of it all, even sort of understanding what offsides are. Crazy. Oh, and the whole internet picking up on the vuvuzela meme didn’t hurt, either.

Paul had to be consumed, after all he did.

Lots of orange at Silky’s for the final, aanvalluh!! Twas sort of tragic in that bar afterwards.

2. Naps
I spent the year I lived in Japan training myself to wake up milliseconds after my alarm went off and leap out of bed, to maximize the amount of sleep I was able to get before the 7:19 AM train. Unfortunately, that backfired and made me super-sensitive to all alarms that ruined a lot of potentially good nights of sleep early on in college. By my second year, I had regained the ability to wake up only in reaction to my own alarm, and still get up immediately, without waking to anyone else’s alarms. Which got me thinking, despite never having been a napper (except for in cases of being extremely sick), maybe I could also train myself to be able to nap.

And, after some effort this summer, I successfully conquered the nap! I still need to work on a couple of skills, like falling asleep faster, and setting my alarm for the actual time I want to wake up… but I am nap-capable on a basic level now.
Nap ground zero.

3. Frats
Despite going to a school with looots of greek life (or perhaps BECAUSE I go to such a school) I generally don’t hang out at frats. As a result, I pretty much maintain all the typical frats/frat-boy stereotypes in my head. But, since an average Friday night in Pittsburgh would go something like this, we ended up spending a lot of time at the frat:
1. Mikesh throws a party
2. Everyone shows up to party
3. Hang out for a while, until Mikesh’s roommate kicks us out
4. Everyone has to go home, but WAIT, Chris invites us to the frat he lives in
5. Since the frat is right across the street from where we all live, there’s no reason not to go!
6. Fratting ensues.
Lather rinse and repeat many a weekend.

As it turns out, the frat wasn’t bad — it was even relatively clean (especially the last few weeks we were here). And the final night, it was revealed that many fratters were, in fact, of Montreal fans, and we spent an hour abusing the sound system with our Skeletal Lamping dance party. of Montreal-digging frat people, who knew?

Side complaint-about-Pittsburgh: of Montreal reminds me how much I cannot wait to see them for the fourth time, at Pygmalion 2010 in September. This thought also reminds me how non-existent the Pittsburgh music scene was. There were exactly zero shows I was interested in there all summer. Thumbs down.

But the frat doesn’t get an A+ in my book, for there was definitely a dealbreaker: The DEATHFAN. Fans without fronts should not be ANYWHERE, they DEFINITELY shouldn’t be run at parties… even really hot ones, unless it’s the kind of party where everyone sits quietly and far away from the deathfan (these types of parties are unlikely to occur at frats).

4. Truck food
As I complained last time, Pittsburgh food leaves something to be desired. You guys told me that I should learn to love what pgh is actually good at instead of the lack of Chinatown-level eats. The solution was basically truck food.

I don’t really like the one-and-only truck back home, so I was reluctant about the CMU trucks at first… until I realized they all served ethnic food. CMU has 2 thai, 2 chinese, 1 indian, and one middle eastern truck, all over in a row by the track (Here’s the exact location of the CMU trucks if you need help finding them). All of them require cash, every meal costs $4-$5, and most importantly, thai iced tea is available for $1!! I think the middle eastern and one of the thai trucks are my favorites. Yes, the trucks are junky, but delicious, and as far as Pittsburgh goes they’re almost the best asian food you’re gonna get anyway, so why not? The Pitt ones are 2 indian and 1 thai, but they’re a bit far if you’re working at CMU (over near the Cathedral of Learning).

Also, unrelated, but if you like wings… apparently Pittsburgh has a place for you to get cheap wings any day of the week. I’m not sure why “wing nights” are such a thing, but I’m not complaining.

5. Dorm Life
Like anyone past week 1 or so of freshman year of college, I hate living in dorms. Who wants to share a room with someone, anyway? However I think for the purposes of this year’s REU, it was a necessary evil that resulted in a lot more friendships than I would have had otherwise. (Sharing rooms was still not ideal — we all managed to live near each other AND befriend each other last year, while having our own rooms…) It felt a little bit first-week-freshman-year-ish at first, which feels really odd when you’re not a freshman, but it was worth it overall for the ability to meet people from my program and all the other research groups around. And most importantly, without dorm, The Fort would have never been able to exist:

6. American Karaoke
Due to living in Japan, I have been skeptical for many years about “karaoke” as it exists in this country, and have often karaoke-snobbed at people who think that the definition of karaoke involves singing in front of people you don’t know. Seriously? That’s not even real karaoke, I say. Small cramped rooms, iced oolong tea, Mr. Children and Arashi songs are the real staples of karaoke, clearly. Oh, and NEVER HAVING TO SEE ANYONE YOU DON’T KNOW. Real karaoke clearly wasn’t going to happen in Pittsburgh. However, I actually lost my American karaoke virginity in DC, at a sorta Japan-themed bar because word on the street was that they were a) Japanese, b) had karaoke, and c) didn’t card. All were true, but as the place was quite crowded, we barely got a chance to sing one song, because instead of just competing among your friend group for a turn, you must compete among every group in the bar for a turn. I also went to a place in Shadyside back in Pittsburgh and went early enough to actually sing a few different songs. Still enjoyable though.

I think American karaoke is actually less embarrassing than real karaoke. Yes, you are singing in front of people you don’t know, but at least for me, that means I care about their opinion less than the reaction of my close friends. Furthermore, this is taking place in a bar, which means 99% of the people there will be either a) drunk and not paying any attention to you or b) drunk and happily singing along to your musical selection too, and therefore also not paying any attention to you. Either way, there’s not a lot of judgemental vibes going on.

However, the connection between alcohol and American karaoke is annoying, problematic, and unnecessary. Many of my friends in Pittsburgh were under 21, and it is completely ridiculous that they couldn’t come and sing “Take On Me” with me just because karaoke was taking place in a bar. Karaoke is practically Japan’s official pasttime for children and teenagers. Come on now.

DC Ameraoke

So yes, Pittsburgh has clearly changed me greatly as a person, but hopefully my friends and family will still recognize me. As of today, Pittsburgh is over and I have moved on my next adventure: Philly, a week’s worth of clothes, electronics, and NO PLANS.