Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Christmas My Little Elves



Because it just isn't Christmas without our annual holiday video. And this year's has everything - a cat, a robot, Billy Squier. Even some sneaky Gangham style. HEY, SEXY LADY!

Hope everyone has a great Christmas and Santa brings you lots of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Or jewelry and perfume, whatever.)  

Friday, November 30, 2012

We Should All Be So Lucky

Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving? Of course you did. I bet there was food, family, maybe some weirdness.

My Thanksgiving had all those things and more. While I wasn't with my kin family, I did spend Thanksgiving with my work family, who are every bit as generous and perhaps even stranger than my kin family. They text me when I am sick, tell me stupid jokes, eat off my plate, nag me to death and expect more of me. God, it IS like they're related to me.

On Thanksgiving they even talked to me through the bathroom door while I tried to pee, just like home!*

Before dessert and after the most delicious stuffing I've ever eaten in my life (sorry mom), we went around the table and said what we are thankful for.

I was happy to look around and see that Ray and I were in the midst of a terrific extended family. Weird and funny and embarrassing and awesome and accepting and perfect, just like every family should be.

When it was my turn I said I was thankful for Ray, my health, my work family, delicious food and boxed wine.

I might have been especially thankful for that boxed wine because I was getting tipsy from it. That's the kind of guest I am - I brought a box of wine to the Boss Man's house as a funny gift - to offend his wine snob sensibilities - and ended up drinking it.

That's why his face is so sad here, he knows he's not going to get to drink that much of it.





Or it's because he hates boxed wine AND Sauvignon Blanc. Who doesn't like SB, anyway? Crazies, that's who.

This particular vintage was super refreshing - it tasted mostly like city tap water (Houston, maybe? Ashtabula?), but had Applebee's dishwater undertones and finished like a Target aisle spill in lane 8. (Which makes sense, since that's where I bought it.)

I don't know what he was crinkling his nose at. I followed the wisdom of at least a 100 sommeliers before me - white wine with white meat. Plus, drinking SB in great quantities can make even the virtual strangers you're eating Thanksgiving with feel like real family - I LOVE YOU GUYS! *sobs into wine glass





But our thankfulness didn't stop there. Saturday morning Ray fried up some potato pancakes with the leftover mashed potatoes Rachel gave us. I'm not even sure if I like mashed potatoes anymore since realizing you can fry them and turn them into something else. Fried mashed potatoes from now on, I say.







Anyway, I hope everyone counted their blessings and had a great Thanksgiving. Next up, Christmas! 


* Because I don't like to stop on the three hour drive home to Indiana to visit my parents, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is drop my bags and run into the bathroom to pee. But my parents are so excited to see me that rather than wait until I come out, they just start talking to me through the bathroom door. How was your trip? Was the drive ok? Did it rain? Why do you have all these bags? Are you feeling ok? What do you want for dinner? And I answer all of them to a point, until finally I'm just, "FOR GOD'S SAKE, GIVE ME ONE MINUTE TO PEE HERE!"

But you really haven't lived until your Boss Man reenacts this for you during Thanksgiving at HIS home. He actually ran after me when I went to pee. I was mid-flush when I heard "Everything ok in there?! Need anything?!" from the other side of the bathroom door. Confused, I was all - GA-WOOSH (flushing) - and opened the door startled: "What?! Is something happening?! Omg, is there a fire?!" And there was the Boss Man, smiling maniacally saying, "Hahaha!!! Just wanted to make you feel at home!"

It was Marion, Indiana in Indian Hill my friends.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ray of Light




















The weeks leading up to my birthday last month were nearly intolerable.

I can't stand it when someone knows something I don't, and somehow I ended up with Ray, who is the king of secrets. Worse, he delights in lording them over me.

For weeks he was bragging, gloating, even relishing the fact that my birthday present was in his possession and it was so amazeballs, apparently, that I would die upon the first sight of it.  

He was really laying it on thick.

Woo!!! Wait, just wait. You're going to LOOOOVE your birthday present so much you're going to freak. Want me to give you a hint?!

Then he'd either lie to me about the hint or forget, because he was bragging so hard.

It's so awesome that even if I completely FORGET your birthday next year you'll HAVE to forgive me. God I'm so awesome - la la la la la!

He was insufferable and worse, unbreakable.

I was suspicious but played along. I figured the present was probably an 8 on the awesome scale, even though he was selling it as a 10.

I thought: Yeah, I love boots, I'll be stoked for boots or a bag or whatever, but come on, this is the pride before the fall. But I'll play along and act like it's a 10 when really it's going to be an 8.

I practiced my 'It's a 10!!!" face.

Besides anyhow, I had already decided whatever it was couldn't be as awesome as what he got me last year: Dylan's Time Out of Mind on vinyl, which you basically have to kill someone for or be willing to sell your first born to get, and a Tiffany lock necklace, which was a nod to the romantic lock bridge we stumbled upon in Paris.

The Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.







I actually cried when he gave them to me. Mostly I was crying because you know how birthdays are always kind of disappointing because you realize no one really knows you, but then suddenly this one shining gift comes through every 20 years or so and you're like, Holy hell, someone DOES get me.

That's what it felt like, so I cried a little at the realization that I was not alone on the planet and that someone in the big giant world understood me. There was a lot going on, ok?!

Finally, after weeks of suffering like this, it was my birthday. I opened the box and my face fell off my face.

MADONNA TICKETS.

Holy effing shit. He got me Madonna tickets!!!!

























COME ON, GIRLS! DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE?! CAUSE I GOT SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT IT, AND GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS!

He also got me a fancy watch and the Joe Biden coozy and coffee mug I've been dying for.

Cheers, Uncle Joe.

Look how manically happy he is.








































But whatever, MADONNA.




























We see her this weekend in Cleveland. Imma dance the entire time and maybe cry and pass out a little and possibly even pee my pants. It's going to be the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Now enjoy some throwback Madonna. That's right, relish it. And be jealous. Verrrrrry jealous.






Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Few Favorite Letters

One of my favorite sites is Letters of Note.

Today's letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Another link is broken," is one I'd liked to have written to my mom.























On January 30th of 1937, two years after his older brother, Baoth, succumbed to meningitis, 16-year-old Patrick Murphy passed away following a seven year battle with tuberculosis. The boys' 20-year-old sister, Honoria, remained. A few days later, the children's distraught parents, Gerald and Sara Murphy, received the following letter of condolence from their friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

(Source: The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald; Image: Sara Murphy in 1926 with her children, via.)

January 31, 1937

Dearest Gerald and Sara:

The telegram came today and the whole afternoon was so sad with thoughts of you and the happy times we had once. Another link binding you to life is broken and with such insensate cruelty that it is hard to say which of the two blows was conceived with more malice. I can see the silence in which you hover now after this seven years of struggle and it would take words like Lincoln's in his letter to the mother who had lost four sons in the war to write you anything fitting at the moment. The sympathy you will get will be what you have had from each other already and for a long, long time you will be inconsolable.

But I can see another generation growing up around Honoria and an eventual peace somewhere, an occasional port of call as we all sail deathward. Fate can't have any more arrows in its quiver for you that will wound like these. Who was it said that it was astounding how deepest griefs can change in time to a sort of joy? The golden bowl is broken indeed but it was golden; nothing can ever take those boys away from you now.

Scott

If you're in the mood for more reading, Fitzgerald wrote another favorite letter of mine, "Things to worry about." It's was written to his daughter, Scottie, who was away at camp. It's a marvelous list. I feel like I should keep a copy of it in my pocket to remember what is and isn't important in life. And the closing is hilarious and kind of weird.

Another great Letter of Note is by my favorite Hoosier iconoclast, Kurt Vonnegut. The letter is "I am very real," and it's written to a school board member in North Dakota who burned copies of Slaughterhouse-Five after an English teacher in the school system used it as a teaching aid.
The best part:

Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them.

In a similar circumstance but with a completely different reaction, the inimitable Mark Twain wrote the letter "I am greatly troubled by what you say" after learning the children's department of the Brooklyn Public Library had ordered Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn out of the room.

Twain's delightfully sarcastic reply is exactly the type of funny, revealing letter I would write if I could write funny and revealing letters.

If you haven't already, put Letters of Note in your Google Reader. It will brighten your world. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Suck-tober

















October is usually my favorite month. It's cool and sunny, the changing leaves are beautiful, there are pumpkins and candy corn, it's my birthday (!!!). But this month has been the suck.

Other than some super awesome birthday presents from Ray, everything else has been the worst.

October, you can piss off now. But leave the bags of fun sized candy. It's the least you can do.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Worst Part of Moving is Moving

Where was I? Oh yeah, in a sea of boxes.

Other than not being able to find the regular toothpaste yet (all I could find was a travel size of Vanilla Mint, yuck) we are settling into our new peaceful apartment just fine.

To be honest, it's so cozy and I like it so much that I'm happy to hang out in the new digs for a while. Is it wrong to hope we don't find a house for a few months? Because, you know, moving is horrible.

Under normal circumstances people's bizarro habits are tolerable... Oh, Ray abandoned another penny on the floor. No biggie, I'll just pick it up.

But under moving/packing circumstances… Oh LOOK. Ray abandoned another penny on the floor. No biggie, I'm just going to KILL him.

Tensions run high.

Side note - When we moved Ray out of his condo we collected these two bags of change from jars, containers, the floor, the closet, drawers, etc etc.




















There was almost $250 in them.

So I'm happy to have the move behind us and the dread of it gone. Even the kitties are slapping each other less now that more and more boxes are being cleared away. (Is it wrong to laugh when Cassius, unprovoked, slaps Cassady right across the whiskers?)

Ray diligently checks on the kitties' emotional state and pets them when they're cuddled up to encourage them to be pals again.

He's also apparently matching his clothes to the furniture. Which is another interesting thing since the move. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Here's To You, Vacation 2012





Before we left for Cape Cod, Ray and I debated if we even had time for a vacation.

Saying things have been hectic is an understatement. Work was crazy for both of us, we were still deciding on an interim apartment, plus house hunting, packing up our old apartment and, oh yeah, I got called for jury duty while we was supposed to be in Boston.

Fortunately, we weren't two drinks into a nice, four-hour lunch in Boston when we finally exhaled and forgot all about our lives in Cincinnati. The next five days were filled with great friends, good food and relaxing with cocktails.

Turns out, I much prefer beach time, riding on boats and spontaneous visits to historic landmarks with my friends than having to again think about packing, moving and jury duty.

To put it more succinctly, not being on vacation is no bueno.





Look how great we look relaxed and wind swept.

But we will always have Wahlbugers and Plymouth Rock.



This is the rock. I thought it would be bigger.                            





































This is the thing the rock is housed in.


And we will always have drag queen karaoke and Provincetown.

 




























































Vacation 2012, you were awesome.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sweetest, Funniest, Teariest Wedding of the Summer




Last Saturday I married Missy and Josh in an intimate, outdoor ceremony at Rowe Woods. They said their vows on a small pier with just a few family and friends surrounding them.

Ray had given me two directives: Do not cry and do not drop the rings.

I didn't drop the rings.

But when I saw Missy come around the tree line on her dad's arm, and I watched as she and Josh teared up upon seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day, I couldn't stop the lump in my throat from turning into all out tears.





Afterward I told Ray it was allergies.

I was wiping the allergies out of my eyes.






































Missy and Josh had super bad allergies too.











































Josh said his was sweat. Allergies, sweat... definitely not our faults.

Beforehand I had practiced reading the ceremony many times, and each time I'd get choked up on the same part. I thought for sure I'd crack when I read it, which is why Ray told me I wasn't allowed to cry.

It turned out that not a single word I said brought a tear to my eye, but Missy and Josh both did. 

Their tender reactions to each other and the vows they wrote were so sincere and heartfelt that it was impossible not to cry. 

But there was a lot of sweet laughter too. And sometimes there was laughing and crying all at the same time. 






































At the end of the ceremony I had written: "It is my honor to present for the first time Josh and Missy Kataoka."

Truly it was an honor. But the real privilege was being there to witness the sweetest day of their lives. That was the best part.





Tuesday, September 04, 2012

There's No Place Like Home




It's always a little melancholy to move, isn't it?

Even when you're ready to move on. Even when the place is too small to fit into your big plans anymore.

But still, a place becomes your home. You love it, in your own way, even when you kind of hate it.

When we listed Ray's condo I didn't think it would sell anytime soon. I figured we had at least a few more grand months in it before we got frustrated of it not selling. By then we'd be too relieved to miss it.

It was on the market for 10 days before a deal was forged. Instead of reveling in our final months and weekends there, we spent them packing.





For two years we had the best of both worlds. A short walk to Hyde Park Square from my house, with Graeter's and the Echo and all the grass and crickets we wanted. On weekends we had his downtown condo, with new bars and restaurants and OTR right in our backyard.

From his place Ray could walk to work and not have to worry about parking downtown. It was great, until he started spending every night with me. Then suddenly having two places didn't seem all that great anymore.

Somehow we outgrew two places.

Even though we were grateful it sold so quickly, we packed feeling sad it was gone so fast and reminiscing about our time there.

We had our first kiss in his windowsill. On Sundays he'd cook us nice dinners, to ease us back into the workweek.

We hung Charlie Harper prints in the bedroom. 





And we spent the entire winter putting together a puzzle.





And drank coffee and read the paper on his rooftop when it warmed up again.







He lived there for six years. In a lot of ways, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Before we locked the door the final time, Ray left the new owner a bottle of wine and a note saying he hopes she loves the place as much as he did. 

I felt like leaving his condo a note: It's not you, it's us.




























Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Am An Important Professional Business Lady Who Does Important Professional Business Lady Work


This is my cubicle.

With the Boss Man in it.







Eating my almonds.






































And drinking what was my Diet Coke.






You'd think he'd prefer to sit in one of his corner offices, but noooooo.

You know who sits in his corner offices like a boss, though?

This girl.






And this girl.










Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Sporty, Outdoorsy Weekend (Of Avoidance)






Friday I watched Roger Federer take Marty Fish to school. It was great night for tennis - cool, great seats, eye-candy.






































Federer is wonderful to watch. Agile, exact, graceful even. He went on to win the whole thing this afternoon.  

Saturday night we got front row tickets for the Reds versus Cubs game.




Oh, did I say front row? I meant last row, by the fence. It was actually pretty nice. There was a cool breeze and luckily we had a little extra room around us while most of the sold-out crowd was packed in like sardines. More room to each nachos and helmet sundaes is key.

The Reds lost, but it was another gorgeous night.





We were supposed to spend Sunday packing. Our move (to nowhere) is looming, and even though we don't know where we're going to live, we know it won't be here. House hunting has turned to earnest apartment hunting.

Oh, did I say earnest apartment hunting? I meant panicked apartment hunting.

But we spent the hours we would have packed at the park instead. The reprieve from the heat has been too lovely not to spend outside. Plus, Missy's wedding is coming up soon and I had to get to the business of writing her ceremony.

No better place than in the grass at Ault Park. 







Please, call me Rev.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Congrats To These Strangers







































My dream of seeing a public proposal came true last night.

I always thought it would happen in a restaurant, preferably with the ring adorning a slice of cheesecake or something else amusing, presented to a not-really-suprised-but-maybe-a-little bride-to-be by a waiter on a platter. But alas, it was in Hyde Park Square.

I was enjoying a scoop of Graeter's chocolate and Ray was having butter pecan when we see saw these two. She was nervously excited, almost anxious. He was more calm.

Ray noticed something was up first and wondered if he was going to propose. Sure enough, the dude got down on one knee and pulled a ring box from his pocket. The proposal was quick, and she still seemed very nervous.






































It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Afterward they didn't shout or proclaim their love to the rest of us in the park or anything, they just sauntered past giggling as she admired her new bling.

I wish now I had stopped them so I could send them these photos.

Anyway, congrats to these two kids. And thanks for making my dream of seeing a public proposal come true!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Drinking Tea With The Taste of the Thames

Everything I know about Great Britain comes from the BBC. Specifically, Ab Fab.

It's kind of like everyone outside of the US thinking American's all live in New York or Los Angeles and are cowboys who carry guns and talk like Clint Eastwood.

When we were in London last fall I saw everything through the prism of Ab Fab, expecting at any second that Eddie and Pats would tumble out of a cab in front of me - a bottle of voddy in one hand and a cigarette in the other - yelling, 'Sweetie! Dahling! Fashion, fashion, fashion!'

Sadly, the only fashion I saw was a lot of shorts with pantyhose (not tights, mind you), and those unfortunate bowler hats. The male hotel employees still wear them, giving them a sinister, A Clockwork Orange vibe. Unsettling for sure.
 
Since we had only one day and night in London before leaving for Paris, I forced my pal Gabriel to hit the ground running with me to Westminster Abbey. We'd been flying all night and were exhausted from little sleep, but I had planned a full agenda with the first stop being Poets' Corner at the Abbey.

Gabriel at Westminster Abbey.

Did you know Chaucer is buried at Westminster Abbey? Chaucer. I'm not even a big Canterbury Tales fan, but it's not often you come across the tomb of perhaps the most famous English poet (outside of Shakespeare of course) who's Middle English poem makes your native tongue read like a foreign language.

Besides that, he is OLD. As in born in 1340-something old. 

I didn't even know they had dead bodies back then, let alone do anything useful with them.

And not just Chaucer, but Charles Dickens, Browning (read this), Kipling (and this), Tennyson, all buried at Westminster under these ordinary slabs of stone. You just walk right over them on your way to the next chapel.

Westminster Abbey is a fascinating place, and I could have spent days there hearing the same tour over and over it was so rich with ceremonial history and bizarre and violent deaths.

Virgins roasted on gridirons. Beheadings. Child murders.

I could care less about dead Royals, but who doesn't love tales of family in-fighting and power thirsty relatives. It all seems so... dramatic.

Afterward, Gabriel and I drank coffee from a vendor outside of Buckingham Palace and I considered how fortunate I am to be in no immediate danger of being beheaded. 

Later that afternoon we finally caught up with our partners who were coming from a meeting somewhere in Great Britain. I hadn't seen Ray in a week because of the meeting, and the first I saw him in London I was crossing a street near Buckingham Palace. We proceeded to kiss (and surely annoy) everyone around us on Piccadilly. But it was awesome, finally seeing each other again and suddenly in another country, on another continent.

The four of us headed toward the London Eye, where we rode the city's famous Ferris wheel and took a sightseeing boat tour down the Thames.




Our tour guide was a hilariously snarky girl who colorfully brought all of the sights to life.

"Look everyone, here is London Bridge. It's not that great, is it? But up ahead is Tower Bridge, which you will be much more impressed by!"

London Bridge - Despite the nursery rhyme, not that impressive.


Tower Bridge - Way more impressive...


even from underneath.

We were cruising down the Thames at sunset, making for an accidental romantic tour of London. And yet not once did I get tired of saying, 'Look kids, Big Ben. Parliament!'




So perfectly lit and gorgeous it looks almost fake. No Instagram required.

What's funny about when I first saw Parliament and the clock tower was that I didn't recognize it as the London icon. Gabriel and I were on back side by Westminster Abbey, and when I got out of the cab he said, 'Turn around. There's Big Ben.'

I guess it's Big Ben if you say so, just take my picture.

From this angle I thought it sort of looked like Big Ben, but not exactly right. Hmm, something is missing...

Gabriel had been to London several times, but yet I was standing there in the street saying, 'I dunno Gabriel, I think you're wrong.'

All of the photos I'd seen (and episodes of Ab Fab) always showed it beside the Thames. When we crossed over the river and I saw it for the first time from that angle it was immediately recognizable.

Oh my gosh you guys, look! It's Big Ben!

I think they all would have punched me if it weren't so hilarious.

The next morning we had breakfast at our hotel in the St. Pancras Renaissance.

English breakfast.

This is significant because it's steps from the St. Pancras International train stop where tens of thousands of Olympians and fans will be traveling between Olympic Park and central London. The Olympic rings were already up when we were there.






Anyway, I have to go, Opening Ceremonies start soon.

Happy London 2012 Olympics everyone.




_____

I stole this headline from Morrisey's fantastic song Come Back To Camden. Here's the mp3.