Fun fact: I’ve known this lady for-ev-er. (And if you didn’t enunciate that like The Sandlot, you are not one of us). Anyway, Mariah and I are childhood pals and I am so super excited she is sharing her hilarity with the city of Pittsburgh. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED, PEOPLE!
Who is Mariah?
My name is Mariah Passarelli. Spelled backwards, it is Hairam Illerassap. As a child, I fantasized that I would be famous enough to need a code name for hotel reservations and determined that, when this became necessary… Hairam was a solid winner. I also surreptitiously changed into one of my brother’s neckties before my kindergarten school pictures. My mother is still partially convinced that I am straight.
How did you discover LTYM?
I discovered LTYM when my childhood friend and parenting soul sister, Stephanie Barone Jankowski [editor’s note: that’s me! *waves*], wrote about it on her blog (and I watched with jealousy for two seasons as other brave ladies did their thing).
What is one of the craziest things you’ve ever said to your kids?
I have adopted a disciplinary approach whereby I attempt to soften instructions/corrections by inserting the word “bro” into all sentences. This has worked pretty consistently for about 2 years now. For instance, “go brush your teeth” sounds bossy, but “bro, could you go brush your teeth” sounds like a friendly request (apparently). I’ll be riding the bro bus as long as I can.”
What’s your favorite piece you’ve written?
Unfortunately, although I write essentially all day, every day, I don’t often get to write for fun. Most of my writing is legal writing for clients and selecting a “favorite” legal brief is a snoozer. Of my very limited sample size, the favorite thing I’ve written for fun would probably be a story I wrote, first as a guest piece for Stephanie’s blog and later edited for the Moth Story Slam, about the time we committed what I will call an operator error related to our newborn son’s testicles. The piece is called Baby Balls. Classy.
What do you wish most for your children?
What I wish for most for my children is cliché but true (and also, partially, trademarked by Tim McGraw): that they will grow up to be humble and kind; that they will be happy adults who love themselves and love each other; that they will continue to value diversity and be the kind of people you meet at a party or in a store and think “wow, what a nice guy.”
What do you love most about our great city?
I am a true Pittsburgh believer. After spending 100% of my childhood and teen years desperate to live anywhere but here, I have fallen in love with our city. The progress that I have seen since moving downtown for college at Duquesne University in 1998 has been enormous. There is an unmistakable vibrancy now, a focus on the arts and a push towards diversity and inclusion that makes what is really a small city seem much larger than it is. Through my job, I have been lucky enough to travel to many different places (many warmer, bigger, and more famous), but I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I would be hard-pressed to pick a single favorite item, but if forced, it would be the Pirates (because… YINZER).
What do you want the audience to take away from your essay?
I think my essay is probably the most substantively worthless of the bunch. I hope people leave with a laugh and with a new saying that will bless and curse them into the future! [editor’s note: “substantively worthless?!” A solid belly laugh is NEVER worthless! She’s drunk. Ignore her.]
What is your favorite Pittsburgh restaurant?
I am a foodie, so picking one restaurant is hard. I am torn between yummy bar food haunts (full of stuff I can no longer eat) and more refined places that reflect Pittsburgh’s amazing restaurant renaissance (because if I see one more show focusing on our love of pierogies, ima stab someone). I will pick two (one in each of these categories). If I could eat and my metabolism was actually operational, my #1 choice would, hands down, be Fat Heads in the South Side. Glorious. Period. Since that is not the planet I actually live on, my more sophisticated self would select Point Brugge in Point Breeze.
If you were mayor for a day, what law would you change/enact and why?
First of all, I would like to say that I think Mayor Peduto has done a spectacular job for our city and does not receive enough recognition for his efforts. If I were mayor for a day (and the other realities of the position were suspended), I would enact laws to protect the rights of LGBT students. Although the City of Pittsburgh (thankfully) has laws prohibiting harassment and discrimination regarding LGBT employees, there are no such laws regarding our younger, more vulnerable counterparts.