Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mother/Daughter Vacation: How We Make It Work


In the 1980's, the tourism marketing folks on Hilton Head Island, S.C., set its sights on encouraging Ohioans, in particular, to visit the island. They literally referred to it as "the Ohio Strategy," & it worked: Generations of Ohioans now call Hilton Head their summer home, flocking to the island every summer to bike, golf, & enjoy the ocean.

My family is one of them. I was a year old when my grandparents first rented a house on the beach... & decided they wanted to come back every year for forever. The next year, they bought a timeshare in Shipyard Plantation, one of the island's many gated communities, in a neighborhood called Port O'Call, just a few blocks from a private beach on the Atlantic. 

I have such fond memories of my family's time together in Hilton Head. Our rental home - the same one every year, for the most part - feels like a second home to me, even though it's filled with other families the rest of the year. It's comfortable & familiar, with memories at every turn - not just in the house but at the beach, in the restaurants & shops we frequent, & even at the airport.

These days, my mom owns the family timeshare, & each September, she spends a week at the house we've been visiting for 30 years. This year, she invited me & her friend Gloria along for the trip.

There was a time when I couldn't have dreamed of going on a one-on-one vacation with my mom, much less enjoying it, but at this point in, I really cherish the time together. Here are three of my hard-and-fast rules for making a mother/daughter trip work.
  1. Spend time apart. Too much togetherness can drive anyone nuts - especially mothers & daughters. To make sure this doesn't happen to you, schedule some of your own plans (or lack of plans) separate from one another - even if you're just reading books in different rooms of the beach house. A related tip...
  2. Don't force your schedule on one another. Everyone likes to vacation a little differently. My mom likes to wake up early to go on long bike rides; I like to sleep in & do some writing at a coffee shop. Every day of vacation, each of us did exactly those things, then met up at the beach for a few hours in the sun together. When we're not resentful about having to adopt one another's schedules & preferences during our own vacations, we get along a lot better.
  3. Make a few solid plans together. Aside from our afternoon beach time, my mom & Gloria & I also made dinner plans for every night of the trip. On my last night there (they were in town longer than I was), Gloria stayed home with leftovers & a mystery novel while my mom & I had tacos together on an outdoor patio. Having some penciled-in plans kept us from spending too much time apart, & after days of doing our own thing, I think we all really looked forward to our evenings together.
I know not everyone is as close with their parents as I am with mine, but I'd love to hear how your family vacations pan out. Have you ever been on vacation with just your mom (or dad)? How did it go?

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Year of Wonderful Weddings

I've been to a lot of weddings during the past few years - & 2017 has been no exception. In fact, I think this year, I attended more weddings than in any other year past. In addition to planning for our own big day, Mike & I have attended five weddings this year, just wrapping up the final event last weekend!

Now that we're done attending weddings for the year, what strikes me is how different each of them was - & just how well each event represented the personalities & lifestyles of the couples they celebrated. As Mike & I try to plan a wedding that, we hope, does the same for us, it feels deeply comforting to realize that each of these weddings, different as they were, were all phenomenally representative of the couples behind them - & certainly ours will be, too. There's no right way to have a wedding - & so there's no wrong way to have a wedding, either.

Not sure exactly what I mean? Here's a look at each of the weddings we attended this year.

In April, we flew to New Orleans to celebrate Jill, a former coworker from my D.C. days, & Michael, a urologist who knows every word to "Back That Ass Up." Their wedding was held at a beautiful old theater near the French quarter, & the band led a festive first line through the lobby before cocktail hour, where, fittingly, the specialty cocktail was a French 75. In other words: It was a very upscale, classy event... that ended with "Back That Ass Up."

The party ran well after midnight, & when it ended, the groom literally cut his new wife out of her silk gown so she could put on more comfortable clothes & meet up with a hard-partying contingent of wedding guests at a nearby bar. (Mike & I didn't make it to that part of the evening; we ate late-night falafel with friends before retiring to our hotel.)


In April, we traveled to D.C. to celebrate my friends Allison & Ryder, who held their slightly unconventional ceremony & reception at an art gallery in the trendy Shaw neighborhood.

Their Reform Jewish wedding ceremony was short & sweet & personal, performed by a local rabbi beneath a chuppah (wedding canopy) held over the couple by four friends. They had no wedding party, no program, & no wedding cake, but they did have Greyhound cocktails (an ode to their adopted greyhound, Cole) & a table overflowing with tiny, gourmet desserts that each represented some aspect of the couple's life together.

The farm-to-table meal was served family-style, the very hip DJ mostly played songs we didn't know, & the wedding toasts all referenced the couple's many quirky interests, including bread-baking, ice cream-making, & saving the world.


We didn't attend a single wedding over the summer, but our events calendar started up again with a (joyful) vengeance as soon as fall arrived, beginning with Callie & Trevor's reception at the groom's parents' gorgeous summer house in Geneva, OH, right on Lake Erie.

Their private ceremony took place the day before, so we just attended the party, where the food was a buffet of both American & Italian foods & the bride soon changed into a tank top & shorts so she could better get her groove on. The weather was perfect for an outdoor reception that went late into the night, but there was no professional photographer, just the groom's sister with a fancy camera, & a bunch of us snapping iPhone photos of an incredible North Coast sunset.

We stayed overnight in cabins in the Geneva State Park, & those of us who weren't too hungover got brunch in the morning at a hilariously named diner called Best Friends Restaurant.


The second weekend in October, we headed back to D.C. - this time with my mom - to see my cousin Patrick's marry his longtime girlfriend, Claire. 

Their wedding was a classic, traditional affair with a simple elegance, starting with an Irish Catholic mass held at the stunning Dahlgren Chapel on the beautiful campus of Georgetown University; the reception was at Woodend Nature Sanctuary in Bethesda, MD, in an historic mansion owned by the Audubon Naturalist Society. The bride & her attendants wore crowns of roses, the dinner was a gourmet tenderloin topped with crab, & the pomegranate/vodka specialty cocktails got me a liiiittle bit tipsy - & yet it was my mom who hit the dance floor the hardest.

(On a personal note, I feel very good about how I looked at this wedding, except for the part where I immediately became incredibly sweaty & had to leave my hair up for the remainder of the evening.)


Last weekend was our final wedding of the year (as guests, that is) & it was pretty nearby, considering some of the year's other wedding locales. We drove an hour south to Canton, OH, for Mike's former roommate Trevor's wedding to Natalie, whose family is Romanian. (Yes, we have two friends names Trevor.)

Their traditional Romanian Catholic Byzantine ceremony including a beautiful crowning ceremony & a great deal of chanting; their cocktail hour in Romanian Village included Romanian spirits & lots of cigar-smoking; & their reception in the church's social hall included a traditional Romanian meal (those cabbage rolls, though!) & a live band playing very modern music. 

Speaking of music: To start off the reception, the groom performed "More Than Words" for his new bride - & the event continued until almost 1:00am.


Next up: our own wedding, taking place November 11th here in Cleveland. As I put together this blog post, I couldn't help but wonder what I'd write about our wedding if it weren't my own. How would I describe it? 

We're in the home stretch now - 26 days to go! - & I can't wait to share the day with you here when it's all said & done. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

13 of My Favorite Things to Do in the Fall


Like so many basic bitches, I claim autumn as my favorite season of the year. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the shortest & rainiest season of the year, which means I've got to make the best of it while it's here. Planning our upcoming wedding has kept me from living it up the way I'd like to, but I'm still trying to get in all my fall faves. 

1. Decorate for Halloween.

I've always hung an item or two in the windows, maybe set a spooky candlebra or fake pumpkin on the kitchen table. But this year, we live in an actual house with an actual yard (uh, sort of) & windows that face a busy street. I've already hung a few decorations, & I plan to spend part of tomorrow, which I have off work, putting up some additional dollar-store decor. I hope my upstairs neighbors like Halloween...

2. Visit Szalay's Sweet Corn Farm & Market.

I haven't been this year, but I have to hit up Szalay's in Peninsula, OH. This local market is only open during the autumn months, selling locally grown corn, squash, apples, & other produce, along with local products like jam, pickled vegetables, & dessert mixes. On weekends, their outdoor cafe sells sweet corn & hot dogs to the tune of live music - with a haunted corn maze across the street!

3. Buy cozy sweaters.

When I unpacked my fall & winter wardrobe this year, I realized that it was woefully short on big, comfy sweaters. Enter the likes of Old Navy, Target, & H&M, whose low prices & classic styles are right up my fashion alley. I scored a bunch of great fall finds from all of them, including this rust-colored tunic from Target's A New Day line.

4. Carve a pumpkin.

I haven't done this in ages, but I'd like to try to revisit this favorite fall tradition now that we live in a house that has a front porch? Who doesn't love gutting a goopy pumpkin & carving a silly face into it to display for passersby?

5. Enjoy some autumn beverages.

Cinnamon apple cider. Cinnamon lattes. Pumpkin mead. Oh, yes, I said pumpkin mead. I just picked up a bottle of Western Reserve Meadery's newest brew, & damn, is it delicious - & so perfectly autumnal. I don't typically love pumpkin flavors, but this one is legit.

6. Nest. 

When the temperatures drop, I like to hunker down & make my home feel as clean & cozy as possible. Colder weather means more time indoors, & if I'm going to be shut in, I'm going to enjoy the space where I'm stuck. I just got a new comforter & a beautiful Peruvian blanket, among others, & I've got some serious fall cleaning to get to.

7. Find a perfect costume.

I used to love quirky, punny Halloween costumes, but in the last couple of years, Mike & I have taken to dressing as our favorite Harry Potter characters. This year will be no exception! We haven't started yet, but isn't half the fun of it scrambling to get it right at the very last minute?! Stay tuned for pics.

8. Celebrate Halloween.

One of my favorite events of the year is our friends Stevie & Andrew's killer Halloween bash. They go all-out with the spooky decor & holiday-themed foods, & tons of our favorite people are in attendance. I always wanted to host an annual Halloween party, but it's even better to have befriended someone else who takes the reins.

9. Pass out candy.

Can you tell that I like Halloween? Unfortunately, because I've lived in apartments for so long, I haven't gotten to enjoy a Beggars' Night in ages. I'm told that our new locale does indeed get some trick-or-treaters, so I'm already thinking about what candy to give out & what costume I'll wear when I do it.

10. Admire the scenery.

I feel so fortunate to live in Northeast Ohio, where city life & country living are equidistant. Yes, downtown is two miles away - but we're also very close to the Cleveland Metroparks & even a few state parks. Ohio is absolutely gorgeous in the fall, & leaf-peeping is one of my favorite autumn activities.

11. Enjoy Friendsgiving.

Mike's friends have long been celebrating Friendsgiving, a boozy Thanksgiving dinner party with about 35 friends. Last year, it was hosted at our friend Rick's apartment - where we now live! I don't yet know who's hosting this year's event, but wherever it is, it's sure to be one of my favorite parties of the year. Bring on all the baked mac & cheese, please.

12. Catch up on fall TV.

I blogged about this last month, but it's true: Each year, I eagerly anticipate the return of fall TV! I'm so glad to see new episodes of some of my favorite shows, including Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, & more.

13. Get married.

OK, that's just this fall - but as of today, we're just one month away from the big day! From here on out, my new favorite autumn activity will be celebrating my wedding anniversary.

Tell me: What are your favorite fall activities?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

6 Small Goals for October


Oh, hi, it's October.

Following in the footsteps of a few bloggers I love, like Valery Brennan & Nicole of Writes Like a Girl, I'm testing out a new regular post: "small goals" for each month. This is just as much to keep myself accountable as to give you a peek into my life & what I'm working on. Each month, I'll share how I did on my previous month's goals & what I'm aiming to accomplish in the coming month.

Of course, I'm just starting out, so I don't have any September goals to review. Instead, let's jump right into what I'm hoping for in October - almost all of which are wedding-related, given that we're now a month out! I promise the wedding chatter is almost over...
  1. Finish all major wedding prep: Come November, we'll plenty of last-minute tasks like seating &... seating? But I want to have everything else done by then so we're not scrambling to get all our prep work done in the first week & a half of November, right before the wedding.
       
  2. Eat as healthfully as possible: I just had a dress fitting, & I seem to be doing all right on that front, but I know I'll be most comfortable on my wedding day if I don't gain any extra weight between now & then - & I'll be even more comfortable if I can manage to lose a little, even if it's just bloating/water weight. I tend to want to snack & eat terribly when I'm stressed, so this will be an extra challenge during an inherently stressful month.
        
  3. Whiten my teeth: I ordered a whitening kit from Smile Direct, but I've yet to create impressions to send back so that I can get my personalized molds. I really want to make this happen before the wedding so my poor photographer doesn't have to spend hours & hours Photoshopping my currently coffee-stained teeth.
      
  4. Turn in my Cleveland Magazine assignment: As I mentioned in September's book review post, I'm working on a small freelance bit for the local magazine where I interned 10 years ago. I'm very excited about it & hope that if I do well on it, they'll approach me again in the future with similar assignments. My deadline is October 6th, so this one is coming up quickly.
       
  5. Pull back on weekday plans: We'll be out of town at other people's wedding during the first two weekends in November, which doesn't leave a ton of free time for wedding-related stuff. As much as I love October, I need to acknowledge that I don't have the time or the energy to do anything right now except wedding prep, which means no extraneous plans. The one exception is that I want to...
      
  6. Hang out with my "little sister" twice: I'm 11 months into volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland. My little sister N & I have had some trouble getting a hangout on the schedule lately, such that we didn't get together at all in September. I'd like to make up for it with two outings this month, pre-wedding stress be damned. 
So tell me: Any suggestions for meeting my goals? What are your small goals (or large ones!) for this month? 

Monday, October 2, 2017

What I Read in September


September was a chill month, book-wise, but I really enjoyed the four books I read. Looking at the list below, I feel like it's actually a hilarious assembly of books, all completely different from one another: a book on Jewish weddings, a famous author's first try at the crime genre, the memoir of a reality TV star, & a beautiful novel about family & race.

Hey, I'm a woman of varied tastes.

I also hit my Goodreads goal of reading 60 books in 2017! You may recall that I read 101 books last year, which definitely will not be the case this time around - but I figure that 60+ books is still pretty good, right? My new goal to round out the year is 70. Onward!

The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant

My friend Michael, who just happens to be the rabbi officiating at our wedding next month (!), sent us this book as a must-read before we started planning a Jewish wedding. It took me awhile to finish it but, man, what a great book. If you're considering a wedding that contains any Jewish elements, this is the perfect how-to guide for figuring out your options & melding tradition with modernity. ★★★★

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling)

How did I not realize that JK Rowling had another entire series? A crime series, no less?! I started reading the first book in the series literally as soon as I found out. It centers around the fantastically named Cormoran Strike, a British PI who's looking into the supposed suicide of starlet Lula Landry. It's slowly paced, with little to no climax, but I love a good character-driven drama, so it was right up my alley, if a bit long for my preferences. ★★★★☆

I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain by Courtney Robertson

I went on vacation & intended to read What Happened by Hillary Clinton... & instead I read this memoir written by a former Bachelor contestant. Back in 2012, I watched Season 7 of the show &, along with the rest of the world, pretty much haaaated the woman who won & then authored this book a few years after calling off her engagement to Bachelor Ben Flajnik. This didn't make me like her, necessarily, but it was a fascinating look at the show's behind-the-scenes happenings & how being on a reality TV show can drive contestants to act, well, pretty crazy. An easy & entertaining read, especially if you're a Bachelor/ette fan. ★★★☆

Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar

I read this one for Cleveland Magazine, whose entertainment editor asked me to write a couple reviews for their holiday issue - & what an incredible book it is! Anton, a biracial 9-year-old, is taken away from his drug-addicted mother & fostered by a well-to-do white family who later adopt him. He subsequently grows up in the footsteps of his famous father & grandfather, both respected politicians - but what happens when he finds out more about his mother & his past? Stay tuned for my review in the magazine, but suffice it to say that I'm so glad I read this one. One of the best books of the year for me. ★★★★★

Comment to tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Collective Apology for Millennial Jews on Yom Kippur


Yom Kippur is coming, and as if we don’t already feel plenty guilty during the rest of the year (we’re Jews, after all), this is the annual holiday when our communal guilt is amplified and on full display. 

Jewish tradition offers a prayer called the Ashamnu, a literal ABCs of all our sins throughout the past year. The Hebrew word Ashamnu means “we have trespassed” or “we are guilty,” and on Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, congregations say this prayer aloud together as we ask for forgiveness. Why recite an alphabetical listing of our sins as a group? Because Judaism teaches that none of us is solely responsible for such major trespasses. (I think the alphabetical thing is just for show.)

I’ve always found the Ashamnu to be one of the most powerful elements of the holiday, but I don’t necessarily relate to the vague sins outlined in the prayer, e.g., “We have been stiff-necked, we have acted wickedly, we have dealt corruptly.” Hey, Jewish tradition: Can we get a little bit more specific, please? I appreciate the idea of the prayer, but I’ve always wanted to drill down a little bit further. If I’m going to repent, I’m going to repent fully!


Keep reading on HeyAlma.com

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Best Thing You Can Do in Cleveland for $10


After reading a this post on fellow CLE blog The Beard & The Broad about how to host a Broadway-themed party, I headed over the the Playhouse Square site. I'm not a great party hostess, but I am a great lover of musicals & other live theater, & their post inspired me to check out upcoming ticket options.  

What a great decision. For just $100, I snagged two tickets apiece to five upcoming shows:
  • The 20th anniversary tour of RENT
  • Love Never Dies, the Phantom of the Opera sequel
  • Sara Bareilles's Waitress
  • The epic Irish dance show Riverdance
  • And one that I won't reveal here because I'm trying to surprise my mom! 
Did you know that Playhouse Square offers Smart Seats tickets to select shows for just $10 a pop? Sure, they're in the nosebleeds, but there's no such thing as a bad seat at the theater - especially for such a low cost. But you've got to jump on it quickly: They sell out! If you don't mind going to the theater alone or sitting separately from your theater-going partner, you'll have even better luck snagging a few.

In addition to the shows I mentioned above, this year's Playhouse Square docket also includes the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet!, my favorite Disney movie Aladdin, even an Elvis tribute... they're all coming to Cleveland within the next year, & Smart Seats tickets are available for all of them.

I've written about it here before, but it bears repeating: Cleveland has the second largest theater scene in the country - behind only Broadway itself in NYC! If you live here & you're not taking advantage of it, what are you waiting for?

 And no, this is not a sponsored post. I'm just easily excitable.

So go see something! See you at the theater, friends.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

7 Things I Watched While Waiting for the Return of Fall TV


When it comes to TV, the end of summer is kiiiind of the worst. It's that weird in-between time when summer's mediocre TV offerings have ended, but fall's premiere season has yet to begin. 

I'm stoked about tonight's premiere of Law & Order: SVU & Criminal Minds, & I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's two-hour premiere of season 14 of my forever-fave, Grey's Anatomy. Good TV is back! Here, though, is what's occupied my TV is the months since we've been apart.

Riverdale

How did I not know that this show existed? A million thanks to Brittny at Pierre Into My Life for recommending it as a perfect binge-watch. Though it's based on the colorful & light-hearted Archie comics, it's got a distinctly sexy, sinister twist - & yes,, somehow that works without being terrible cheesy or weird. Just... whoa, it's the best.

Bachelor in Paradise

This season of the show was, frankly, total shit - as though the bar was set very high to begin with. Of course, as headlines told us, production on the show ceased within the first 24 hours of filming, which shook things up, & the season never really found its footing. I do, however, love the Derek/Taylor pairing & now follow them both on Instagram, so hey, something came of this season.


#RealityHigh

This Netflix original movie was admittedly pretty adorable, a modern-day Mean Girls with a social media twist. Dani, a She's All That-style "nerd," starts dating her longtime crush... & quickly becomes the target of his beautiful, popular ex, who just happens to be a major Internet celebrity. Like every movie in this genre, it's got a heartwarming, teaching-teens-a-lesson-in-friendship sort of ending.


The Walking Dead

I stopped watching this show after Negan's brutal murders in the season 7 premiere, but then I kind of missed it, brutal murders & all. Unfortunately, I couldn't catch up because AMC doesn't allow for free streaming. Fortunately, the latest season is now on Netflix! Unfortunately, I guess I'm screwed when season 8 begins. Fortunately, it will eventually be on Netflix, too!

Little Evil

This movie, another Netflix original, was filmed in my neighborhood. Remember when I saw Evangeline Lily at my local Thai restaurant?! She plays a mother whose new husband (played by Adam Scott) can't seem to get along with her young son... probably because her son is the literal spawn of Satan. But fret not, this is a comedy - & a decently funny one, too, with an unexpectedly happy & adorable ending.

The People v. O.J. Simpson

Admittedly, this one took me awhile to get through, but only because I'm usually watching crap like Bachelor in Paradise. An all-star cast goes behind-the-scenes of a familiar story, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. & Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark - & everyone in it does a truly incredible job. I was in sixth grade when the O.J. verdict came down, so I never knew much about the case itself, which made the details of the show all the more fascinating.


The Good Place

I don't usually like comedies, but I do love Kristen Bell, so this one was a no-brainer. I'd seen the previews but for some reason didn't realize this show was already through a whole season! Eleanor Shellstrop ends up in "the good place" (some vague & hilarious approximation of heaven), despite the fact that she lived her life as a truly terrible person. Hilarity ensues. But really.

Which shows are you looking forward to this fall? And what tided you over this summer? 

Monday, September 25, 2017

How Contacting My Congresswoman Solved a Major Problem



Mike & I moved into our new apartment on May 1st, just a few blocks away from our old apartment. Our neighbor at the old place reminded us to please make the appropriate change of address with the post office, & I of course assured him I would. I did, too, & almost right away - but little did it matter, as, two months into our new living arrangement, Mike & I had yet to receive a single piece of forwarded mail.

Obviously, this was a bit of a problem. There was no way to know what mail we're not receiving, & though I tried to pick up our mail from the old apartment as often as I could, I knew things must be falling through the proverbial cracks. When a new tenant moved into our old place, I knew I had to move things along with USPS to figure out why we weren't getting our mail.

It was not an easy process. 

In early July, I went to three local post office locations, & at all three, I was told that I had to go elsewhere. Finally, I ended up at the main post office near downtown, which is not actually made for customers. I couldn't even figure out where to go in! I shared what I thought was a funny, if frustrating, Instagram story about the experience; I rang a buzzer & sat in front of three doors labeled by zip code & waited 20 minutes for someone to help me, Wizard of Oz-style.

The manager I spoke to was A) rude, & B) unhelpful, saying he couldn't figure out what had gone wrong but he would call me with an update. Did he ever call? Of course not. When I finally reached him by phone two weeks later, he told me, "Oh, yeah, I remember your case. What's the issue?" I explained again, & again, he said he'd look into it & follow up with me.

But fool me once, shame on you, & fool me twice, shame on you. I wasn't about to wait for this guy to get his act together.

Enter Congresswoman Marcia Fudge's office. Rep. Fudge represents Ohio's 11th district, which comprises my neighborhood. When a friend who works in politics originally suggested I reach out to my member of Congress's office, I thought I'd first give USPS the benefit of the doubt - but when that fell through, I decided to ring up Rep. Fudge's Cleveland office.

The guy I spoke to was immensely friendly, helpful, & trustworthy. Immediately, I had the feeling that he'd help me get to the bottom of it - & I was right.

Less than a week later, I received a call from the local acting postmaster himself, explaining what had happened, apologizing profusely, & assuring me that our mail would start being forwarded ASAP. He even gave me his direct line so I could easily reach him should the issue persist - though he swore it wouldn't.

It still took another week or so for us to start receiving our forwarded mail - but it did eventually come. We also received a letter from Rep. Fudge's office confirming their involvement in sorting out this issue - something I have no doubt would never have happened had I relied solely on the rude, derpy guy from the post office to make it happen on his own.

Congress is here for more than just taking away our health care. Make 'em do their jobs. They work for us! Have you ever contacted your Congressperson for help like this?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

#TheBigKaput: My Hilarious, Haunted Bachelorette Party


I wasn't planning to have a bachelorette party. All my bridesmaids except for one live outside of Ohio, & I didn't want to make my friends travel twice for me. On top of that, none of my bridesmaids or close friends know one another very well; they all come from separate parts of my lives, so they've heard about one another, but it's not like they're a tight-knit group. And I'm not really a penis-straws-&-sparkly-tiaras kinda gal, anyway, so I figured it was no big deal.

When my friend/bridesmaid Sammi came home for a baby shower earlier this year, she told me definitively, "We've all emailed one another. We decided we want to do a bachelorette party." Well, OK. Who was I to argue with that?!

I invited a small group - man, there were so many others I would've invited if we weren't trying to keep it small & manageable - but in the end the guest list was just eight of us, myself included. We decided on Savannah, GA, because it was driveable for three of my out-of-state bridesmaids, & it's a cheap, easy flight from the CLE.

I flew out on Thursday with my friend Lilly, the only other Cleveland attendee, & we did a little bit of wandering that night before staying in a cheap but adorable AirBnB. On Friday morning, we checked into our weekend AirBnB, a beautiful, historic house in Savannah's Victorian district - & then other guests started to arrive!

Sammi, who lives in Atlanta & has spent a lot of time in Savannah, organized most of the weekend - & she did such an amazing job.

On Friday, we spent a lot of time exploring the downtown area, walking down beautiful, park-lined Bull Street & stopping into random bars & shops, including the shopSCAD boutique. We sampled cookies at the Byrd Cookie Co. (those cheddar pecan biscuits!) & drank boozy slushies from Wet Willie's & ate free samples of pralines at the various "candy kitchens" along the riverfront. We toured the Prohibition Museum (including its awesome speakeasy!), & we drank beers & ate nachos & petted dogs on the patio at Moon River Brewing.

Savannah is a hot spot for bachelorette parties, but I didn't want the standard matching-T-shirts-&-a-sash-in-public kind of event. In fact, I told Sammi that if I spotted anything penis-shaped, our friendship was over - so, of course, she found a loophole. When we arrived back at the house on Friday night, she'd hung this hilarious, glittery, vulgar-but-true banner (which I made Lilly pose under with me, as she's newly engaged, too).


My maid of honor, Christina, made the banner you see in the photo at the top of this post, a whole structure made out of PVC pipes, decorated with streamers & the weekend's hashtag. We'd compromised on #TheBigKaput because we all agreed that my original suggestion, the hilarious #KateGoesKaput, sounded a little too much like a celebration of my funeral. "It sounds like we're ritualistically partying before we murder you," Sammi said, so I relented. How cute is this photo backdrop?! (And have I mentioned here before that my new last name will be Kaput? Yes. Kaput. It means "dead" in Yiddish.)


On Saturday morning, we hung out on the patio of our AirBnB (it had a koi pond!) then wandered a farmer's market on our way to brunch at B. Matthew's. A few of the girls got fried green tomato benedict, which made me desperately wish I liked eggs! (My breakfast burrito was killer, though, so I can't complain.) We did more wandering, then a little napping, then dinner at Jazz'd Tapas Bar, where we split a bunch of dips (including a freaking melted cheese platter) & our lovely, gregarious server gave me a free blowjob shot (because bachelorette party). Sammi subsequently took the least flattering Boomerang of me that has ever existed.

Savannah is an open-container city, so we took our drinks in to-go cups for the weekend's main event, a haunted tour of downtown Savannah... in a vintage hearse-turned-convertible. Our driver was "Peg-Leg Ron" (yes, he told us to call him that) & he did, indeed, have a prosthetic leg. He also had a Southern accent so thick I could only understand every tenth word or so - which made for a lot of laughter from us as he shuttled us around town telling (what I think were) ghost stories. Look at this thing!


Peg-Leg Ron made a stop at an old butcher shop where some man (allegedly) killed his entire family. We were pretty sure Peg-Leg Ron was about to kill us there - the whole place was in the middle of nowhere & doused in red light - but as he reminded us, eight strong young women could certainly have taken on one middle-aged dude with a proclaimed peg-leg. Once we relaxed, it turned out to be a pretty hilarious part of the tour, complete with more of Ron's dramatic Southern storytelling & a creepy impromptu photo shoot.


Ron dropped us off at Jen's and Friends, a tiny bar that specializes in over-the-top martinis. After a stranger let me try her drink (she seemed trustworthy?), I went with the oatmeal cookie martini, which came with an actual oatmeal cream pie on the rim. All their drinks are dairy-based, & by the end, they started to taste like the leftover milk in a bowl of cereal - except boozy. We ended the night at Rocks on the Roof atop the Bohemian Hotel, which had a great view that I couldn't exactly appreciate because by that point, I was, uh, no longer seeing straight.

The best part of the weekend, in my opinion, wasn't the booze or the food or the city or the beautiful AirBnB or the warm weather. It was the fact that these incredible women - some of my favorite people in the world - came together for the weekend, all in one place. I thought it would be uncomfortable to bring together people who don't know one another & to have to try to connect them - but I suppose I underestimated how great they are. It was incredible, truly, to look around the brunch table & see all these friends from different parts of my life all in one place, together, chatting & laughing & genuinely befriending one another.

I felt so freaking lucky, & it was easily one of the most joyful weekends of my life. I feel so honored that they did this for me, & that they'll all be there to celebrate with Mike & me come November.

Truth be told, we didn't take a ton of photos during the weekend. Why? Well, look, you know me: I love social media... but I love real-life more, & frankly, we were too busy having fun & enjoying one another's company to snap many pics. The ones I do have are plenty - & the memories I have of the weekend are more than enough.

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