Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Christmas, My Little Elves!

It's time for our annual Christmas video card!

This year features our new house (that is 107 years old), mucho attacking and pouncing and Chuck Norris in a wonderfully festive winter scarf. 

Here's hoping all of your Christmas shopping is done and you are happily awaiting your own bounty of presents to come down the chimney!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Modest (Christmas) Proposal

Ever since Ray got this gigantic saw weekend naps have been eliminated. The cats and I will be this close to dozing off on the couch when we hear it snarl into action.


So far he's built a set of Adirondack chairs and a cross-cut sled, whatever that is. (When he first told me that's what he was building I thought it was a sled for snow storms, like a toboggan. FUN! Turns out, no. Not so fun). And he's almost finished with a cabinet for the bathroom.

You can sort of see the frame of the cabinet in this photo. But mostly this is a photo of Ray playing air guitar in the basement.

All this practice is good because I have a long list of things I'd like built, including:
  • A mid-century modern record table
  • Built-in bookshelves for the third floor
  • A storage bench for the ballet room 
  • Nightstands

He said Christmas will be easy for him from now on, I can just get him wookworking stuff.

I started thinking of ideas - woodworking magazines, how-to books, a mallet maybe. I read on a woodworking website that 'every woodworker should have a mallet.'

If that's what my man needs, that's what my man gets. Mallet, done.

Then he told me he'd like a router.

Even better, I thought. He's just going to tell me what he wants.

'Great, send me a link. Then, surprise! Right under the tree.'

I began to bask in my awesomeness as a new wife. 

'The one I want is $400.'

'Four hundred dollars?!' I thought he had gone insane. 'Only if I get a subscription to the Kitten of the Month club!'

'What? Is that real? There is a Kitten of the Month Club?'

'Of course it's real. It's been my dream since I was a little girl to be in it.'

I looked away wistfully, as if to say, This is the year my dreams will come true.

Naturally, I made this up. I'm pretty sure there is no a Kitten of the Month club, but there should be. Every month you'd get an new adorable kitten. Or maybe every quarter - the Kitten of the Quarter Club.

That's when Ray put Hunter S. Tomcat on top of the bathroom cabinet he was building and proclaimed that my wishes had come true.

'Look! It's Mr. December!'

Behind us, Chuck Norris meowed from the basement stairs.

'And I think I hear Mr. January!'

I won't be the only one disappointed on Christmas morning then, because guess who's getting some books and a mallet? No kitten, no router. (So much for my man getting whatever he wants.)

For me, I am both unimpressed and wildly impressed with Ray's projects.

Ray: I'm surprised at how well the chairs turned out.

Me: I'm not. I knew they would turn out great.

You can kind of see the chairs in this photo. Somehow, we forgot to take portraits of them.

Ray's woodworking projects have actually equated to a fair exchange between us. I run back and forth  to the basement so he can show me his progress on things, and I yell for him to come upstairs when my latest Zappos delivery arrives.

Me: Do you like this black boot, or this black boot?

Ray: They look the same.

Me: No, they don't. This one, or this one. See the difference? This one, or this one.

Ray: I like the one that looks less slouchy.

Me: What? Neither of them are slouchy.

At least the cats have specific opinions. They obviously prefer the boots from the pink box.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Gas Monkey Ruined My Marriage

Last night Ray and I were watching Fast N' Loud, the one where the Gas Monkey crew are making a Trans Am and Burt Reynolds appears on the show in a nod to Smokey and the Bandit. 

My understanding of Smokey and the Bandit is vague at best.

There is a Trans Am and a semi-truck, right? And Burt Reynolds. And there is a monkey? And the monkey punches people and is named Clyde? Or that is a different movie with a semi-truck?

Anyway, I revealed to Ray during this episode that I've never seen Smokey and the Bandit and he broke up with me.

Like, on the spot broke up with me, without hesitation.

Worse, not even my "friends" were supportive. Those turncoats sided with Ray.

My (former) friend Amy even questioned if I'm American.  

Phsst. Am I American. I was watching a show about gas guzzlin' cars built in Texas. 

But seeing as how I'm single again, at least until I see Smokey and the Bandit, Richard seems like a good guy. He's sweet and humble and just the right amount rugged. Plus, he is always losing his ass on the cars he's wrenching on. All things I find endearing.

Heeeeeyyy Richard… call me. I like cars. My dad is a retired mechanic. I know how to bleed brakes, push-start a stick shift and hold a flashlight under the hood of a car while someone swears at me. (Damn it, Gina, hold the light still!)  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Ax Me Again

I thought the most interesting thing that was going to happen at the Boss Man's Thanksgiving dinner was that we were celebrating the once-in-a-life event of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the same night.

I was wrong.

Just after the Menorah was lit and the blessings were sang, the Boss Man sparked something far more interesting: A bet.

"I bet you can't split a piece of firewood," he said.

If this dare was provoked by something, I can't remember what. It seemed to come out of thin air,  as if he was sitting there, looking around the table stacking his skills up against others.' Apparently mine appeared lacking.

I looked at him, incredulous.

"Pssht. Of course I can split a piece of firewood. I get an ax, right?"

"Yes, you get an ax."

"I bet you those loafers I want I can do it. Maybe not on the first swing, but I can definitely do it."

He must have forgotten who he's talking to, I thought. I felt insulted. Ray Daugherty didn't raise no chump.

I mean, I had never actually raised an ax in my life, but really, how hard could it be? Isn't that what axes do, chop firewood?

"Fine. How much are they, like $30?"

"Thirty dollars?! Ha. If they were $30 I'd buy them myself. No, they're $180."

I'd been stalking these Madewell loafers for months and had even showed them to him and Carolyn when he tried to shove a pie in my face last week. At work. ('You shove that pie in my face, you buy the loafers' was the threat.)

"Fine, the loafers. I still bet you can't."

Visions of all of the Pinterest-worthy outfits I could build around these loafers danced in my head.

The deal was that I had just had to split the wood in half anyway I could do it, and I got as many whacks as I needed. Even with all of this, he was convinced I couldn't do it.


The Boss Man and Carolyn and I headed to the garage where he put a piece of wood onto the concrete floor and handed me an ax.

Now, let me tell you, this ax was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. But more importantly, there was no way in hell I was going to try and hit this hunk of wood against a concrete floor. I felt certain that least one, possibly two, of two things could happen:

1.) I might take out a car mid-swing. (Say goodbye to your precious Audi! Hey, while we're here, why don't you just hand me this ax and a piece of wood next to your Boxster!)

2.) If I missed the wood, I didn't want the impact of the ax hitting the concrete to hurt my hands. Or worse, send me vibrating out of the garage and into the cold.

Like I said, I don't know that I've swung an ax in my life. But wow, what a beauty this one was. It looked like it had been glued back together about 30 times and had streams of thick yellow wood glue dripping down the sides of it. I think I also saw duct tape.

It was the jankiest ax I've ever seen.

If you're going to accidentally chop your foot in half or break your back wielding an ax on Thanksgiving/Hanakkuh, then look no further. This is the ax for you.

Janky or not, I started whaling on the wood sideways, swinging the ax as close to my body as possible. For one thing, I didn't think my aim was good enough to hit it if it was standing upright. And for another, I could just see myself winding up with the ax over my shoulder only to have the weight of it pull me down face first into the grass.

Carolyn tried to coach me.

"You're going against the grain. It's going to be harder."

But already 10 whacks in and I had a good chunk out of it. Pieces of bark were flying everywhere.

I stopped to pull my hair back into a ponytail and dig the wedgie out of my butt.

Pro tip, ladies - I would recommend boy cut or booty shorts for cutting wood. Bikini cut, not so good.

I started again.

"Watch your foot," the Boss Man said. "People can get really hurt doing this. And careful with your back."

"Oh now, NOW we're going to talk about safety, when I've been hitting this thing for ten minutes."

My back was getting super tired and my hits were wimpier. I was also afraid I was going to chop my foot off since the wood wasn't raised up on anything.

I looked at the wood and realized it was harder than I thought it would be.

Plus, it was freezing outside, and even though I was warm from swinging the ax, I couldn't believe they were still standing out in the cold watching me hit this thing.

I made a joke that I might have to come back tomorrow to finish it. (I wasn't really joking. And I wondered if the bet could include me going home and watching a few YouTube pointer videos and coming back in the daylight.)

I hit the log a few more times and then, out of nowhere, the thing split in half like it got struck by lightning. A perfectly clean split right through the middle.

Even I was surprised. I thought it would take at least another 10 minutes of whaling on it before it cracked.

Triumphantly, I raised the ax up into the air and shouted, 'YEAH! DID YOU SEE THAT, INDIAN HILL?! DID YOU SEE IT!"

Counting out my winnings. 

I double high-fived Carolyn while the Boss Man, dejected, went back into the house. (Or maybe he was just really excited to be warm again. But I'm going with dejected.)

As any true outdoorsman would, I breathed in a few more crisp cool breaths of fresh air before I carried my kindling - now in TWO pieces - into the house to show them off.

No one else was really impressed, which I chalked up to no one else underestimating me. Of course I could do it, why would they be impressed?

As I washed dishes and basked in my glory, the Boss Man snidely told me the wood was rotten.

Maybe. But that wasn't my problem. My problem was deciding if I wanted the black loafers or the red loafers.

But anyway, I don't think it was rotten. I think someone who was about to buy me a pair of $180 shoes was just mad he lost the bet. I believe that is called 'loser's limp.'

It turned out the shoes were only $142.50 (with tax) thanks to a Black Friday sale. That's like $45 worth of stacked heel for free.

I cannot wait to get them. They will arrive on my front porch in all their hard-earned glory in about five days.

Sidenote: Twenty-four hours after the axing my arm felt like I had gotten 20 flu shots. Essentially, the entire right side of my body is in revolt - my right hamstring, glute, shoulder, tricep and especially my deltoid. It hurts especially to change my shirt. Which is why I might have to wear a Flashdance off-the-shoulder sweatshirt to work tomorrow.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Birthday Edition

I think this was my 19th birthday. Home from college enjoying some Kroger cake, peanuts and my BFF Lori.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Boys - A Short Introduction

Hunter S. Tomcat - Aspiring writer, poet, ladies man, moonshiner; a true tomcat and gentleman of the Commonwealth (Kentucky); also, hardcore snuggler.

Chuck Norris - Aspiring outdoorsman, diplomat, panther; a fearless explorer, dishwater/stove/toilet inspector and intrepid ninja; also, hardcore snuggler.

Hunter S. Tomcat looks to Chuck for guidance - seeks advice for jumping off of furniture with finesse, wants details on how he squishes himself under the bedroom door. Chuck doesn't have time to answer questions.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday - I'm A Model (You Know What I Mean)

My shirt said 'Property of the Cincinnati Reds.'

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Bust

I'm outta here...

'I swear to god that place was a Superfund site. We drove all the way to Indiana to pay $8 for a JTM burger that made us sick and a packet of Swiss Miss with some lukewarm water. They just handed us the packet and told us to put the water on it ourselves.

Plus, it was the shittiest hayride ever.

God I loved that place.'

That was Ray's assessment of the pumpkin patch I excitedly took him to last year. I had bragged to him about the hayride and the big field of pumpkins. I thought he would love it.

There is a hayride! They pull you in a wagon, from tractor! You grew up near farms! It's going to be great!

I guess I had forgotten the hayride is only about 25 feet. When the tractor stopped at the pumpkin field Ray goes, 'That's it? That was the hayride? I paid fifty cents for that?!'

I personally thought it was awesome.

I vowed not to take him back to that pumpkin patch. Instead, I would wow him with another bigger, exciting pumpkin patch with a longer hayride. We were going to go this weekend so we could get a pumpkin family (a dad, mom and two baby pumpkins for the kittens; oh yeah, we got kittens!) but we got so busy enjoying the lovely weather this weekend we never made it to the patch.

Guess this year's pumpkin adventure will take place at Home Depot, where we will 'pick' our pumpkins from a big bin.

I bet that lame pumpkin patch is looking a whole lot better now.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Easy Rider Edition

Flying through the kitchen/living room. We were 'open concept' way before the Property Brothers came along.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Explain This To Me

I wake up each morning between 2 and 2:30 and can't fall back asleep until about 5 am.

Not awake thinking of anything in particular. Not worried about anything, not stressing. Just not sleeping.

I Googled this new-to-me phenomenon today and one of the suggestions to bide your time while you wait to get drowsy again is to read a 'not too thrilling book.'

I guess I could read Eat, Pray, Love again. (I don't want to spoil it for anyone but basically she eats, she prays and she loves.)

She also annoys. So I don't want to be awake and irritated.

This is what made me think of Ray's book Sprinkler Hydraulics.

I noticed it sitting on his desk when we first started dating and I couldn't believe it was a real book. Sprinkler Hydraulics is a thing? Plus, it has this cool, 1980s cover and you just don't see that anymore.

The thrill stopped there.

Says one reviewer: Harold was not only brilliant for understanding sprinkler hydraulics but for being able to convey the message. He also gives some invaluable tables for converting pipe sizes to ease calcs of telescoping systems. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Do!

Three weeks ago today Ray and I said 'I do.'

It was absolutely wonderful. There was so much happiness and love from family and friends it was in the air like perfume. The whole day was just thrilling.

We spent the next week or so just recounting funny and sweet stories from the day, and there were so many.

One of the things that I am grateful that we did was spend the day together before the ceremony and reception. So often brides and grooms don't see each other until the "big reveal," but I was very against this. I wanted to spend as much time together on our wedding day as possible, and I knew once the party kicked off we might be pulled in different directions.

So a few hours before the wedding we were sitting on the couch eating a frozen pizza and watching HGTV. Because on our wedding day, we go BIG. (Well, Ray ate frozen pizza. I managed to only choke down a few bites because I was so nervous.)

After our DiGiorno wedding pizza (supreme, original rising crust) we helped each other get dressed. It was just the two of us, tying sashes and ties, smoothing our clothes and grabbing cameras on the way out. It was perfect.

Just ignore the horrible saturation of this photo. I can't seem to correct it. 

Ray ironed my dress the night before. He helped me decide on this dress so it wasn't as if he hadn't seen a million times before. 

Funny thing about my dress. It was an off-the-rack Ann Taylor summer dress. I knew I wanted a simple, classic A-line silhouette, and it didn't get much more simple than this dress.

Whenever anyone would ask me what it looked like I would show them the photo of me trying it on. The reaction was always the same.

A long pause followed by, 'Oh... It's... nice?'

Which was to say, You're getting married that?!

I'd defend my choice by noting I'd dress it up with a lovely sash and flower and some fun red heels. But no one was really impressed. I guess they expected something more classically bridal - something long, strapless and beaded.

Ha. Oh well.

The two things I heard most about the wedding was how laid-back it was and how tender Ray's vows were.

Rather than have guests take a seat and wait for the wedding, we had the bar open and were mingling with everyone, having drinks and greeting people as they arrived. I think people were surprised to see us. But we wanted to maximize time with everyone and join the party, so we set it up to do just that.

About 5:10 I looked around and everyone was having a beer, chatting with each other and playing cornhole. It was the exactly the laid-back summer wedding we envisioned.

When it came time for the ceremony, everyone grabbed their cocktails and a seat and we got married surrounded by 85 of our friends and family. Simple enough.

The other comment I heard more than any other was how sweet and wonderful Ray's vows were. Several girlfriends admitted they teared up or had to choke back tears, and Lori, who was standing right beside me and looking directly at Ray also, said she was holding back an 'ugly cry.' Ha!

She wasn't the only one.

His vows brought the house down.

As he was reading them my internal dialog went: "Wow. These are so wonderful, so touching and poignant. This is my man. Right here, this one. He's awesome. This is why we're here. I am so proud to be his wife.  ...Oh God, these vows are way better than mine. Oh crap. Oh god, I hate my vows. I can't read those crappy vows now. Would it be weird if I asked for a short break so I can rewrite them?"

Later someone told me I should have dramatically wadded mine up and threw them behind my back all, 'I'll just wing it from here!' to steal the scene. This was after everyone kept saying to me: 'Ray's vows were sooo amazing. Such sweet poetry. ...Oh, and your's were pretty good too. I guess.'

Ha! So much for me being the writer in the family.

And even though I had been, what shall I say... concerned?... about the Boss Man's ceremony, it was perfect. Just the right mix of sweet, funny, thoughtful and weird, which was exactly what we wanted.

And he totally got me before the ceremony too. I was kind of freaking out because he kept telling me beforehand, 'Don't worry. I talk a lot about lubrication, but it totally fits. Lubricant, lubricant, lubricant! Funny!'

And it seemed like he was slurring. There is a series of photos a few minutes before the ceremony where Ray and I are having 'a moment' by ourselves in the middle of the lawn. That 'moment' consisted of me starting to freak out.

'He keeps talking about lubricant being part of the ceremony. My parents are here!'

'Don't worry, he's just joking. You know this man, you know the ceremony will be great,' Ray reassured me.

'He's slurring. I think he's slurring. He took too many Valium.'

'No he didn't. Gina, he's rock solid. He's totally rolling over on you. He's just trying to mess with you.'

'He keeps slurring the word lubricant.'

Halfway through the series of photos the Boss Man appears in the background, walking toward us. Each subsequent photo shows him getting closer and closer until we finally see him and we all three start talking. And then this photo happened.

And of course, he was totally rolling over on me. Magically, come ceremony time, there wasn't even a hint of slurring. There was a lubricant reference that did inappropriately hang in the air for a few minutes, but he brought it back around to an actually very sweet story I told him.

He also mentioned birds eating our dry, brittle, dead bones and made a few Republican jokes because we were in Indian Hill. It was great. (I realize I'm not really selling the greatness of it here, but the standouts, as with all ceremonies, are the funny/weird things that happen to make it interesting.)

Oh, he also noted during the ceremony that he and his wife have been married for 50 years. I looked over into the crowd and saw her mouthing "forty five!" at him from the front row. Ha!

I'd tell you the sweet highlights of the ceremony from the copy he gave me but, for the most part, he winged it. The copy actually says "blah blah blah" on it.

You can see all of our wedding photos here if you like perusing other people's wedding photos (and who doesn't), but I've collected the best ones into a separate set of Outtakes and Favorites here.

Anyone can take great shiny and posed wedding photos. But we are not anyone. The Outtakes set features the best of the bad and entertaining shots, and I also sprinkled in a few favorites too. Like this photobomb from my dad.

A week after the wedding we left for Hawaii and spent nine days exploring Maui, which is the most staggeringly beautiful place I've ever seen.

Everywhere you look there is one surprised after another - volcanoes, beaches, rugged cliffs, rainbows, mountains, sugar plantations, pineapple farms - just all this beauty. So much so that it that seems incongruous to have it all in one place, much of it within a mile of each other. One minute you're at the beach and a half-mile away is a volcano.

We aren't particularly religious, we were married by my agnostic/scientist/nemesis Boss Man, after all, but if you're looking for proof of God, look no further than Hawaii.

Thanks to all of our family and friends who joined us or wished us well on the big day, it was all truly wonderful!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does Anyone Have a Priest I Can Borrow?

The Boss Man 'showing off' his Pope hat.

It sounded so good in theory.

When Ray and I decided to ask the Boss Man to officiate our wedding it seemed so obvious - he's thoughtful, eloquent, occasionally even funny.

Plus, he's been married for about 100 years. That's just good karma, right?

Besides, I told Ray, I've never had a conversation with him that's lasted over 7 minutes, professionally or personally. So that bodes well in terms of ceremony length.

I asked the Boss Man on a Monday if he would officiate. He wanted to say no. He was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference in China the weekend of our wedding and he was considering the invitation.

'Ugh, conferences. That sounds boring,' I told him. 'Besides, the plane ride will wreck your back and no one wants to hear you complain for a month. This will be fun! You'll be an ordained minister!'

I lured him with promises of a laminated "minister's card," which you can buy for the bargain price of $12, along with your official minister's certificate.

He accepted on Wednesday. By Thursday, weird things started to happen.

He bought a pope hat and a priest collar. He started touching people on the head and saying, 'Bless you my child. God is speaking to me now.'

Which was really strange coming from the Jewish, atheist, scientist we work for.

Then the "ceremony ideas" started.

"Envision this," he told me. "A George W. Bush inflatable with a 'Mission Accomplished' banner behind it. We're in Indian Hill, you know... And I'll say, 'By the power invested in me by the Republican Governor, I now pronounce you… sequestered!"

His eyes lit up with excitement at what a spectacular idea he thought this was. "Get it?! Everyone is Republican in Indian Hill! You're finally getting married. Mission Accomplished!" he said.

I sat in my cubicle for a few seconds silently absorbing this.

"Wow... Yes. What a great idea," I said. "But I was hoping for maybe something about marriage. You've been married for 40 years, maybe you could offer some advice or something poetic about how to have a successful marriage."

"Oh. Like grudges, resentment and not forgiving your spouse then." And he walked away.

That was the end of that four minute conversation.

Once his paperwork from the state came he started walking up to people in the office and aggressively announcing 'I AM GOING TO MARRY YOU!'

The sudden threat of having to marry him was terrifying everyone in the Institute. So his admin started  calmly telling stunned employees, "The difference between 'marrying someone' and 'performing their ceremony' hasn't quite sunk in."

As word spread that he is officiating our wedding, I realized that colleagues weren't asking about it because it was interesting, they were asking because... they felt sorry for me.

Last week one of our cardiologists emailed me with a work question. At the end of the email she wrote: "Also, I understand that [the Boss Man] is officiating your wedding. Are you sure that's a good idea? Just askin'... and you need to know that he has seen the wedding scene in The Princess Bride, so you should be forewarned."

So that explains why our normally pop-culturally bankrupt Boss Man has been yelling 'MAW-RIDGE' at people.

Another colleague, not believing the rumors were true, asked: "Have you considered the ramifications of the drug induced zaniness that's likely to occur?"

"Of course, but he's a great wordsmith," I said. Science, cell death, love, marriage. He can simplify complex things. Besides, that's part of the fun, right? Whether he brings his well-spoken, thoughtful self or his inappropriate, bizarre self, we're going to have a great story."

"Well, you're insane. That's all I've got to say."

With less than two weeks to go, I asked the Boss Man if he had some ideas ready for what he wants to say.

"Don't forget our vows and rings," I said.

"There are vows? I thought I did the vows? And I thought you already had a ring?!"

"Maybe I should make you an outline."

"Yes. Maybe you should."

"And we have to kiss at the end too, don't forget that."

"I have to kiss you at the end?! What on earth for?!"

It could be a long seven minutes up there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh, Hey There

Working on dance music and stealing moves from the Soul Train line.

What are you doing?

Catching Up

As if there was any doubt, the Marion High School class of '93 has done just fine for itself.

Fortunately, no one asked anybody what they've done with their lives. I guess if we're all there and we're all looking timeless (as we were), enough said. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Class of 93 Is The Epitome*

My 20 year high school reunion is this weekend. Which means I have exactly five days to hurry up and do something with my life.

I thought my first step could be to get a tan, because that would probably surprise people the most.

Holy crap, that Gina chick is tan! She used to be so ungodly pale!

After that, I thought I'd lead with the fact that my dream of becoming a Fly Girl never came true, and then transition into showing my former classmates photos of my cat.

Everyone is going to be so excited to party with me.

Whoomp! (There it is.)

The Marion High School class of 1993 voted me class clown. Which is great and all, except what I really wanted was to be voted best dressed. I didn't wear oversized plaid shirts from Goodwill and listen to grunge for my health, you know. Clearly I was misunderstood. (My clothes were the cry for help, not the jokes.)

I asked Ray to help me come up with some lies to tell my classmates since I don't have much to offer in terms of actual entertaining life stories.

Indignant, he said: "I disagree. You have a lot going on. You're getting married. You bought a 106-year-old house with your husband-to-be. You ride around Cincinnati on a cool blue scooter. You have a good career and great friends."


The only really exciting thing I have going for me is health insurance. Which actually IS impressive. If my classmates could see the bill that Humana has picked up for me over the last 15 years, they would be super impressed.

This is a photo of me from 1993. I found it on the last day of school, abandoned in the school newspaper's darkroom. When I stumbled upon it I envisioned one of the photographers hearing the last bell, throwing it into the air and saying 'I'm Audi 5,000!'

Because that's what we said in 1993.

The ring I'm wearing I made in jewelry class my senior year. Sadly, I lost it that summer toilet papering someone's house. Which sucks because usually we forked yards. (I still remember who's house we were toilet papering but I can't recall a single thing I learned in geometry.)

But in general, I look pretty much the same as I did then.

I fear people will see me at the reunion and be disappointed I am not fat, bald or the mother of sextuplets. And I haven't been on any reality TV shows either. I am a high school reunion disappointment. I probably shouldn't even go I'm so boring.

Me: Hi! It's Gina! I'm tan!

Them: Oh. It's you. You're the same. Bye.

I know at least one of my classmates is excited to see me.

I'm excited to see her bitch ass too.

Judging from Lizz's and everyone else's Facebook pages, my classmates are doing well.

There were about 425 students in my graduating class, which made for a diverse group of kids. Rich, poor, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, Latin, gay, straight. 

The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads. I'm excited to see them all.

Everyone likes to kick around ol' Marion, Indiana, but it was as good as any hometown. (And don't front like your hometown was that great, ok, because it wasn't.) While none of us went on to solve world hunger, we did pretty well for ourselves.

Mm hmm. '93 is gonna be creepin' to that reunion like a phantom.

It's like this and like that and like this and uh
It's like that and like this and like that and uh

Imma roll up in there in my six-four. Ok, fine. I'll just be in my Honda Civic. BALLER.

* our class slogan

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Like A Rollercoaster Ride With Gina at the Switch

It rained for only about 20 minutes on Saturday but I like how this photo makes it look as if Ray was so eager to jet ski he just sat in the rain and waited. In truth, it was me who spent the majority of the weekend on the jet ski. And I have the burn prove it - knees, tops of thighs, around my life jacket.

We spent the weekend relaxing on the party pontoon, cruising around on jet skis and floating in Norris Lake with some of Ray's long time friends. It was marvelous.

The real highlight for me was hanging out with 16 and 19-year old siblings, Rachel and Ryan, at the marina on Friday. The three of us ditched the 'adults' late in the afternoon to go get fried pickles and ice-cream at the snack shop.

They're both Cincinnati kids who grew up in Mason, so King's Island was both of their first jobs.

When I was in middle school and high school my parents would take me to King's Island every summer for one day. It was the highlight of my very existence. I would ride the Vortex over and over, then excitedly get in a two hour line for the Beast and follow it up with riding the Racers a million times.

Back then I couldn't have imagined the dream world it would have been to grow up near there. To my high-school eye the kids working there always seemed hot and miserable, but I imagined their lives were filled with off-hours rollercoaster rides, all the blue ice-cream they could eat and lots of flirting with other teenage King's Island workers.

In a word, heaven.

So over soft serve at the marina, Rachel and Ryan gave me the scoop on what it's like to be a teenager working at King's Island. I hope this doesn't ruin your teen years.

• Food service totally sucks but that's where you make the most money (about $8 an hour).

• I always thought being a character would be the worst job. WRONG. The characters have luxurious gigs. All they do is walk around for ten minutes, take photos with kids and then they get to sit in an air-conditioned breakroom for 45 minutes until their next character walk.

• Scratch that - the characters' escorts have the best job. They get to walk around with the character only they don't have to wear a costume or make-up and they get to sit in the air conditioned breakroom for 45 minutes. Their only real job is make sure kids don't pee on or punch the characters. (Apparently peeing on the characters is a thing.) This gig is so sweet you have to know someone to get it.

• The ride workers, the kids who check the seatbelts and safety harnesses, also have pretty good jobs. While it seems as though they are stuck at one ride all day suffering in the heat with the families who want on the mini-Eiffel Tower, they actually rotate every 30 minutes or so. Their jobs are cushy compared to food service.

• You get a free pass to go anytime you want but you never go because you have to work too much and therefore hate King's Island.

• The kids work all the time. Thirteen hour days are common. The days are even longer if you work in catering. Rachel has slept at the park several nights because her catering shift won't end until midnight and then she'll have to be back for a morning catering event at 2 a.m. to get started on breakfast prep. So she'll sleep at Timberwolf Amphitheater.

I was gripped the entire time they were telling stories. It was like every detail was more unbelievable and amazing than the previous detail.

Really?! The characters! I don't believe it! You slept at Timberwolf Amphitheater?! I saw Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine there once. Have you ever heard of them? No? It's ok. Continue!

I couldn't wait to get back and tell Ray everything I had learned about what it's really like to work at my teenage dream job.

He is going to be so pumped to know all this!

But while I was lapping up an oversized twist cone and tales from King's Island, it was turning dusk. Unbeknownst to me, Ray was back at the pontoon and then the condo wringing his hands wondering where we were and at what point he was going to call the authorities and take the speedboat out to look for us.

Oblivious, Rachel and Ryan and I went speeding off on our jet skis back to the cove. Rachel was on the back of my jet ski and every time we'd bounce off of a wave we'd both squeal with delight and crack up laughing. We went to the cove to find everyone had left. No worries, we'll just speed over some more waves and motor on over to the condo! Wee!!!!

I roll into the condo after the time of my life with my new teen best friends, filled with fried pickles and ice-cream, laughing and yucking it up, to find Ray somberly wanting to know where we were.

'I thought you were lost. I didn't know if you knew how to get back to the cove. Lake Norris is a big lake. Maybe you ran out of gas. Maybe the jet ski broke down. It was six minutes from getting dark. I was about to come find you!'

Hee hee hee. Oops. Everyone else may have been drunk on Summer Shandy, but me and the teens were drunk on freedom!

So I excitedly tell Ray all the stuff about King's Island and he's like, 'I hate King's Island. You know I don't like rollercoasters.'

'Yeah but, teenagers! They're so funny and really sweet. Who knew?! And the characters have the best jobs, can you believe it?!'

'Yeah, crazy. I was really worried about you. So if this happens again I've devised an emergency plan...'

Blah blah blah. I didn't hear anything after that.

The next day I did get lost on the jet ski. Norris Lake, it turns out, is really big. I got turned around, lost my bearing and got kind of panicky when I couldn't find my way back. I was gone for like two hours and no one noticed.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Invites Are Out

Ray allowed me to address about 10 wedding invitations before he took over. I guess he wants the post office to be able to read them or something.

He's so particular.

Actually, he really is. I found him using a ruler to ensure that the return addresses were centered on the back of the envelopes 'just-so.' Some of you lucky invitees will see the fruits of Ray's labor. The rest of you will marvel that your invite actually made it given that your address was illegible.

There was no turning back as of Saturday afternoon. Sure, it's not 'official' until the license is signed and sent to God the probate court. But everyone knows it's as good as done when the invites hit mailboxes.

And here it is.

Feel free to crash it. We're cool with that.

Monday, July 15, 2013


This crew hit the town Saturday night to celebrate my upcoming nuptials. Drinks were had, dance floors were hit and weird dudes were let down. (And not gently.)

I've long thought that my friends should be friends. Saturday night my wishes came true.

It was great.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chicago - A Photo Essay (With Some Naked People)

We just got back from a long weekend in Chicago where we did mostly sight-seeing, eating and watching naked people bike ride.

Saturday night we stumbled upon the World Naked Bike Ride, which was hundreds and hundreds of Chicagoans pedaling through the streets bare-ass to bike seat!

Well, most of them were bare-assed.

My photos didn't turn out well but believe me when I tell you we saw lots of weenies dangling off bike seats and boobs bouncing around. It was terrific!

That's one of the best things about traveling, just when you think you've experienced it all - Willis Tower, Hawks in OT, crack popcorn - here come 400 naked people pedaling by.

Here is the video I took.

You can't see much because we were in the back of a cab and I didn't start filming until it was nearly passed (as I was too busy gleefully looking at strangers' private parts), but the atmosphere was great. Traffic completely stopped and everyone was taking photos. Ray and I were practically high-fiving in the car while the cabbie asked us, 'Are these the gays?' 

And isn't that the other thing about traveling, things surprise you that surprise no one else. We had brunch the next morning with my friend Sandy, who is photographer in the city, and she goes, "Oh yeah, photographers do photo essays on it every year."

She was shrugging it off while I was mapping out where I should stand next year.

It's all downhill from there, but here are some of the other sights we saw.

Buckingham Fountain - Famous for Married with Children, Jen and Patrick's engagement and the site of our Garrett's Chicago Mix popcorn eating frenzy.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation had this scale model exhibit of downtown. Come to think of it, we stumbled upon it as well.


We walked about 9,000 miles on Friday. Actually is was less than 5, but it nearly killed us. We are soft Cincinnatian's who drive everywhere.

The next day when Ray proposed an architecture tour (as seen from a boat on the Chicago River) I couldn't have been more delighted. We'd get to sit down for 90 minutes!

Willis Tower from the boat.

The Civic Opera Building was my favorite on the tour. It was built in 1929 and is shaped like a throne. You can see better here.

This wasn't on the river tour but what an odd little marvel. Plus it was gorgeous. My guess is that it leads people in one building directly to the snack machines in the other building.

Here we are in the lock waiting to get into Lake Michigan. About seven minutes after I took this photo I started to get sea lake sick. The bigger the boat, the sicker I get.

 The last event at this abandoned lighthouse was a wedding. I loved that.

This lion demanded a photoshoot. And a snack.

The Ralph Lauren restaurant requires reservations for lunch and looks like a country club, and is about as uptight. There are portraits of horses hanging the walls.

The interactive mirrored public art of Chicago. Or, the bean.


I'm not sure if they photobombed me or if Ray is photobombing them.