Things I’m loving this week
Photo by JARID A. BARRINGER//ERIE TIMES-NEWS
1. Dolly Parton’s book club. At first glance, I thought…big deal…one book for every kid under the age of five, but…no, The Dolly Parton Imagination Library mails one book every month for every Erie County child under the age of five (regardless of income or need). There are 17,000 kids under five in Erie County. I can’t even tell you how happy this program makes me, but then…you know I’m a book worm from waaaayyyy back. Props to you, Dolly, and also to the Erie Community Foundation and United Way of Erie County. Books can change lives.
2. Ask a Mortician. OMG. This woman is fascinating…and hilarious! She’s like a sitcom character. If someone DOESN’T do a reality TV show about her, they’re leaving money on the table.
Want more dark death humor? Pick up“Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach who manages to make dead bodies funny:
“Uproariously funny” doesn’t seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader’s Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines (‘The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back’), it is clear that she’s taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death.”
3. The Aquarium of Greater Cleveland. This place was just..spectacular. I’d tell you more about it, but then you might not read the story I’m writing about it for the Erie Times-News on Sunday, June 9th. Look for it in the Sunday Living section.
Things I’m not loving this week
Reinassance Reniassance Renaisance Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland (argh…even the name pisses me off). We stayed in this Shining-era hotel this weekend and it was the worst hotel experience I have ever had. Here’s my short list:
* They gave us a queen bed when I reserved a room for four. When we complained, they said that was all they had an offered us a roll-away bed. One bed. Kelly slept on the chair/ottoman.
* It’s ancient…or seems that way. I kept expecting a kid on a big wheel to come clicking around the corner.
* It’s located right next door to the casino. Some might think this is good. I think it’s sketchy and gross. Casinos attract…um…well, you know. Let’s put it this way, our entire stay, there were four cop cars parked in the middle of the road in front of our hotel.
* The elevator in the parking garage ($24 a day) was broken, so we had to schlep our bags down three flights of stairs.
* No freebies — no coffee in the lobby, no breakfast buffet, no wifi in the rooms, no shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom. Also no fridge or microwave in the room.
* There was hair in the bathtub and pubes on the toilet seat.
*There was blood…yes, blood…on the white comforter.
* The indoor pool was three feet deep. A wading pool, really.
* They gave a us a “late checkout” time of noon, which, ironically, is the checkout time posted on the back of the door, so…not sure they were doing us a favor or anything.
* It was actually farther from the marathon start/finish than any of the other hotels we’ve ever stayed at….yet it cost more.
Suffice to say, we are never ever ever staying there again. Like ever.
2. Headbands. No matter how much I stretch the dang things out, they always end up giving me headache by 4 p.m.
3. Office A/C. Let the chilly season begin. (Though, I did figure out I could close the vent in my office and cover it with a stack of magazines, which helps).
A random collections of blog posts, articles and other things I think are worth sharing.
Jezebel: If You Must Think About your Weight, Here Are 10 Things to Think About (warning: there are plenty of f-bombs in this article, but this is probably the greatest thing I’ve read in months. I’m at that stage where I’m pissed …I’m sick of women’s magazines and fitness magazines and women’s expos that are full of ways for us to fix ourselves — lose weight, fix your hair, get the whitest teeth, cook better….f@#$ you!). READ THIS….seriously!
Justice Jonesie: What Parents Can Teach Their Children From the Cleveland Kidnapping (important reminders/advice here)
Fortune Magazine: Warren Buffet is Bullish…on Women (“If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn’t you want to include its counterpart?”)
Feminism is Fantastic: Why Society Still Needs Feminism
“Only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?”
Huffington Post: Have American Parents Got it All Backwards?
Our weekend trip to Cleveland was a bit of a disaster.
We go to a marathon (usually Cleveland) in May each year. It’s always been just Dan and I or Dan and I and a group of running friends. Dan runs the whole, I do the half.
This year I had the
brilliant ridiculous silly assinine stupid idea to bring the girls, mostly because I saw Cleveland had a new aquarium that I knew Lauren would love and I figured, why take two trips? The girls are old enough to stay in the hotel room while I run, then I can rush back, shower and take them to the finish line to cheer their dad on as he finished the marathon. It would be cute. They can make funny signs. Ring the cowbell. Cheer for the runners. Share in the finish line excitement. Fun, right?
Not so much.
Once again, real life didn’t come close to the idyllic picture in my head. They fought and bickered nonstop all weekend, even through our entire aquarium visit. Our hotel experience was awful for a thousand reasons that started with the hotel giving us a room with one queen bed for four people. It got worse from there — no free wifi, no shampoo or conditioner in the bathroom, blood on the bedspread, a broken elevator in the parking garage so we had to schlep our bags down three flights of stairs, etc., etc.
By noon Saturday, a mere four hours into the trip, I had decided two things: it would be the girls’ last trip with us to our spring marathon destination and I was a failure as a mother. Obviously.
The next morning, I ran my personal worst half marathon.
When I get home from work at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, I kick Kelly off the couch and tell her to go outside.
“It’s beautiful and it’s 87 degrees, Kelly, you’re not going to sit in here and watch TV on a day like this,” I say, as I head back to my room to change into shorts and a tank top.
“I don’t care what you do, but go outside. Watch ants. Take Sam back to the creek. Lay under a tree and watch the leaves wave, I don’t care, but get out in the sunshine.”
My plan was to spend the evening writing a freelance article and two blogs posts, but it’s so gorgeous outside that I’m dragging my feet about heading up to my home office. As I wash dishes and further procrastinate, I take in the scene in my backyard.
Dan is mowing the lush, green spring lawn (gotta love spring lawns) in his shorts and sunglasses. Sammy, the picture of a perfect family dog, complete with a red bandana tied around his neck, is wandering around the yard with a tennis ball in his mouth. He drops it occasionally and then races after it. He drops to the ground and rolls in the freshly-mowed grass. He’s cliche cute.
The girls are laughing and giggling. They have the hose and have wetted the trampoline. Their t-shirts and shorts are soaked. I can’t hear them because the back porch outside radio is on, but I can see they are laughing. Their joy is evident and genuine as they take turns spraying each other.
Why do I keep thinking we have to go somewhere to have fun? Cleveland, Columbus, Florida, Mexico, Pittsburgh.
The best times are right here in our own backyard. Warm sun. The outdoor radio blaring. Kids shrieking in happiness. Trampoline springs squeaking.
I finish up the dishes, grab my gardening gloves and my camera and head outside.
I’ll write tomorrow.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”
Being fake about any aspect of your existence slowly digs a dark void in your soul. Life will simply not work for you if you don’t show up as YOU. The truth may not be easy to deal with, but it will always set you free in the end.
We headed west this weekend to Cleveland to visit the Cleveland Aquarium and to run a little race (marathon for Dan, 1/2 marathon for me), then we hurried home to help in a Girl Scouts park cleanup.
Things I’m loving this week:
1. Pufferbelly. Good restaurants are the only thing I miss about working downtown. I had lunch with a friend at Puffers this week and indulged in my all-time Pufferbelly favorite — their Greek pizza (on homemade crust). I love it…even if it gives me a big puffier belly.
2. “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan. This is a true story about and by a former New York Post reporter:
One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-year-old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.
3. Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse. I miss the dollar theater and, while wish these were at a more convenient time for working families, Cinemark is showing some fun kids movies on the big screen for just a $1 (kids and adults) on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. starting June 11. You can buy a pass to all 10 movies for $5. Details here.
Here’s the lineup:
June 11th: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
June18th: Horton Hears a Who
June 25th: Smurfs
July 2nd: Ice Age Continental Drift
July 9th: Dolphin Tale
July 16th: Happy Feet
July 23rd: Oceans
July 30th: Rio
August 6th: Chimpanzee
August 13th: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Things I’m not loving this week:
1. End of The Office. It was time. I honestly haven’t been able to watch it since Michael Scott left anyway. James Spaeder was just strange. I kept waiting for him to be funny, but he just never was. And it just went downhill from there. Still, it’s sad to see it end.
2. Paleo diet + marathon training = disaster. Explanation to that equation here.
3. Another addition to the pet cemetery out back. Manny has left the building. While I love guinea pigs, I think we’re done with them …for now, anyway. They have relatively short lifespans and it’s just heartbreaking to keep losing them.