Apr 16, 2014

Worst Date

We all have out first date and our worst date stories. With Wonder Boy, I can reflect on a first date dressed as Michael Jackson and a worst date (seventh date) that ended in the hospital.

In November 2003 Wonder Boy and I ventured out to the mall to buy a wedding gift for friends and had plans to grab dinner afterwards. About halfway into our drive, I was writhing in pain in my seat, doubled over with sever cramps. Wonder Boy looked over and saw me pale and white knuckling the Oh Shit handle of his car.

"Can you stop somewhere please?" I asked.

He pulled over to a lovely gas station called Swifty.  The kind that has a bathroom in an outside cement stall. Only slightly more modern than a outhouse. I dashed in and had a lot of what I'm going to refer to as Personal Time.

After about 10 to 15 minutes, Wonder Boy knocked on the door to check on me. "Go away!" I yelled. Repeat that interaction 10 minutes later. And again. Maybe even again?

Finally I came out and said I needed to go home. As Wonder Boy pulled into my apartment complex driveway, he leaned over and said, "Pretty romantic seventh date, huh?" Rather than be embarrassed about what was happening to me, I just looked at him and said,"You've been counting our dates?!?!"

After he left and I was back in my apartment, I continued to have Personal Time. So much Personal Time, in fact, that I decided I need to see a doctor. (No need for specifics.) I called my mom but she wasn't home. I tried a few other people and then decided to call Wonder Boy, a nurse, and ask him to come back and take me to the hospital. The romantic evening couldn't get any worse so why not?

At that point in time, Wonder Boy was still new to town and was relying on me to direct him to a hospital. The only one I was confident about finding was the most urban of the bunch and had a colorful waiting room that included people high on drugs and alcohol, people handcuffed to chairs and chaos everywhere.

After a visit with a doctor WEARING A TOP GUN JUMPSUIT, we were sent home with directions on how to take care of my Personal Time issues.
And that is my worst date ever.

Apr 9, 2014

Bruce Springsteen, Live in Cincinnati and Looking Good

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how I feel about Cincinnati and why I’m proud to call this city my home. The feeling is seemingly infectious, with people all around me proudly endorsing the city. But last night, when Bruce Springsteen asked the crowd at U.S. Bank arena if anyone was from New Jersey, thousands of Tri-States started clapping. We aren’t from New Jersey, but at that moment, we wanted to be.

Bruce has that effect on people.

The concert was a good reminder for me about the draw of stadium shows. Attending the concert was a birthday gift for Wonder Boy and it also firmly established that 39-years-old can look pretty good and so can a 65-year-old. I mean, damn. If we can all sport guns like Bruce Springsteen at 65, go crowd surfing and be the obvious star on a stage sporting 16 other outstanding musicians from the E Street Band and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, then good for us.
One thing I love about big shows is how much leeway the musician has because people are So. Excited. to see the artist. For instance, when Bruce Springsteen played Hungry Heart, the crowd sang the first verse on their own. I’m used to seeing that happen at the refrain or at some point mid-song. But last night people started the song with no accompaniment from Bruce Springsteen and it didn’t matter. I can’t imagine any of the indie rock bands I see pulling that off.
Bruce Springsteen has been making albums since 1973 and the crowd’s diversity reflected the longevity of his career as well as his place in the musical canon. With little exception, people were on their feet for the entire three hour and seven minute show … all 26 songs. Throughout the concert there was a rumble that sounded like a deep “Boooooo” but was really people yelling “Bruce.”
After he finished his closing song, a beautiful solo of Dream Baby Dream, I felt privileged to have attended the concert. Happy to have taken my husband to a show he really wanted to see. And really motivated to start lifting weights so I look as good in a sleeveless T-shirt as Bruce Springsteen.
I think the phones-as-lighters phenomenon at the end of concerts is pretty goofy. And looks sort of awesome.

Apr 3, 2014

Reclaiming My .091 Acres

Last summer I spent almost no time outside. The hammock Wonder Boy and I bought more than a year ago is still in its box, as is the stand it sits on. I helped keep the yard weeded and pruned but I didn’t exactly exert myself in those efforts.

I have a lot of reasons but the primary ones is my view. There are a bunch of young loser guys who live behind me and their efforts towards home and yard beautification are nil. They have a rotting shed in the backyard that has plenty of openings so cats and raccoons just hang out. At some point they did replace a broken window, but there’s still a pirate flag and collection of liquor bottles behind it, so… They spent was I assume was not very much money to have some complete morons take down a tree, tearing down my neighbors fence and several branches in my yard in the process. And the stump of the tree is still there. It’s just blight and if I don’t see it, it bothers me less so I avoid the yard.

In the spirit of making my home a place where I want to spend time, this year I am tackling some projects.

First Wonder Boy and I are having our roof / gutters inspected (tomorrow!). After we repair any leaks that are affecting our driveway, we’re getting our driveway fixed. Glamorous stuff, I know. Next up we’re refinishing the downstairs wood floors and / or installing a fence.

The fence wasn’t on our initial discussion list, but it keeps coming up and I think we’re in total agreement that it will improve our yard, as well as our home value, immensely. More importantly, after the yard is fenced in (I’m talking a high fence that blocks out the view of the loser neighbors) we can turn our tiny backyard into the oasis it strives to be. I have bug zappers (plural!) on my birthday list and know just where the h
ammock will go. We’re giving up on getting grass to grow and putting ground-cover back in. Wonder Boy received a chiminea for Christmas and it’s a great addition to our patio.

I am reclaiming my yard! And in doing so, I am reclaiming summer and lazy days spent outside reading and napping in the sun.

In the meantime, I’m just keeping track of good ideas for the yard!

I may never feel as chilled out in my backyard as I did here in Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica, but I can dream.

Mar 24, 2014

A Thank You Letter to David Bianculli

When I wind down at the end of the day, I have to trick my mind into focusing on something easy. Redirect it to relaxing thoughts. It's part of the reason I read as much as I do. It's the primary reason I like to read while working out - using up all of my physical and mental energy at one time so I leave the gym exhausted.

The trouble begins when the lights go off and I lay in bed with my eyes closed trying to fall asleep. My mind starts whirling like the fan of an overheated computer.

The best cure so far has been to listen to podcasts. This does raise a few issues, though.
  • Deafness: I don't want to be listing to things all night because I don't think that's wise in terms of hearing health. When I switched from an iPod to a smart phone, I was able to set a timer to my podcasts so they shut off automagically. I also use the lowest volume setting available.
  • Death: I don't want to die by strangulation from an earbuds cord. Or by having an earbud go so far into my ear canal that it hits my brain and kills me. Either of those things would be embarrassing. I believe I have circumvented these issues by only listening most nights with one earbud and making sure it is barely in my ear. But the risk of mortifying death is still present.
  • Side Effects: There is a certain type of voice that puts me right to sleep. After years of training myself to fall asleep when I hear a certain cadence of voice, when I encounter that same speaking style during the day, it's all I can do stay awake. To all the British people who have made me yawn? I apologize.
I've tried out many different podcasts to determine which ones helped me sleep the best. I generally stick with NPR because no matter how outlandish the story is, the reporters' voices stay calm. I used to listen to world news because that would put me to sleep even in the middle of the day. Eventually I learned too much from the podcasts, started caring more and world news stopped cutting it.

Terry Gross from Fresh Air has a beautiful voice. It builds in pitch as each sentence or phrase goes on and then drops at the end. It doesn't drop in the way young girls' voices drop turning everything into a question. It just has a steady up and down to it. In addition to a nice voice, I also like how Terry Gross (all NPR hosts should be referred to by their full name, don't you think?) conducts interviews and sometimes I get distracted from sleep by the subject matter. If I am completely uninterested in the topic, Terry Gross is my gal. Puts me right to sleep.

I've been pretty obsessed with Pop Culture Happy Hour lately and tried sleeping to that, but I consistently like it too much and it makes me laugh, literally, so it's a no-go.

Again and again the person who puts me to sleep the quickest is David Bianculli, who, until looking up the proper spelling to write this, I always thought was David Bean Cooley. David Bianculli, a TV critic, sometimes fills in for Terry Gross and he often does entertainment segments on the show.

Now, lest you say that this is an insult to someone's work, I assure you that I mean it in the nicest of ways when I say that David Bianculli puts me to sleep. His segments are typically short and they tend to focus on media and pop culture, which I enjoy but don't find taxing or stressful. He speaks with the same up and down that Terry Gross has and tends towards shorter sentences, which make sense as he's explaining complicated plot lines. If I stay awake for more than one of his segments, I learn about the pop culture I enjoy. And if I fall asleep, it's with a little gratitude for David Bianculli.
Photo by Elisa Nobe