Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Best of My Summer in the CLE

Labor Day marked the official winding down of summer, & the weather here in Cleveland has been surprisingly cooperative & appropriately autumnal. As we make the switch to a new season - with plenty of new things to lok forward to, including Mike's & my wedding! - I wanted to pay homage to a great summer. Here's a look at some of the best of the season.

Cleveland Flea

I only made it to the Flea twice this summer - once with my mom & once with friends - but I've got one more chance before the event shutters until next year. My mom & I scored a vintage typewriter that will make an appearance in November's wedding decor - & cost under $100!

Night Market

Unfortunately, the first Night Market of the summer was canceled due to rain, which means I only made it to one Night Market all year. I did, however, get to try red bean sesame balls for the first time, & they were delicious, so I'm going to call it a win.

Indians games

I hadn't been to a Tribe game since I was about 10 years old - & then, this summer, I went to three! Once was just Mike & me, once we went with his parents, & once we met up with a gaggle of friends. I can't remember if the Indians won 'em all, but root, root, root for the home team!

Harry Potter Fest

Unfortunately, this event wasn't what we hoped it would be - we ended up spending most of our time waiting in a very long line - but it was some awesome people watching. All the costumes! All the HP swag! Those terrible Jelly Beans!

Literary Cleveland Workshop

My friend Marchae & I taught a two-session workshop on building a better blog, held at Loganberry Books & attended by about a dozen enthusiastic potential bloggers. I was terrified to do this, but it turned out to be such a great professional experience.

Pennsylvania Getaway

Mike & I made the drive out to the middle-of-nowhere, PA, to spend two nights at the cabin in the woods where my cousin is a member of a hunting club. It was a slightly unorthodox vacation, but it was a good time. Beer darts, anyone?

Billy Joel concert

I've long dreamed of seeing my favorite musical artist live, & my mom & I finally made that dream a reality when we saw the Piano Man play at a jam-packed Progressive Field as a birthday gift to ourselves. An incredible show, as expected!

Cleveland Scene AleFest

Rescheduled for the end of July to the weekend of my birthday, this turned out to be a perfect way to welcome 33. We had (free!) VIP tickets, so we spent most of the day chillin' in the shade & drinking a variety of our favorite local beers.

Feast of the Assumption

While our partners were together at a bachelor party, a few ladyfriends & I got together for an afternoon at Little Italy's most delicious annual event, complete with cannoli, tortellini, & some serious stromboli.

Cleveland Asian Festival

This event was a lot like the Night Market, except during the day - & fortunately, far less crowded, which meant more food options for us. I gorged on noodles & pork buns, cleansing my palate with coconut water... straight out of a coconut.

Rooms to Let

This beautiful but controversial art installation featured artwork from dozens of local artists, done in & on the property of abandoned houses in Slavic Village. I blogged about my feelings about it, but I also really loved the art itself.

Newsies at Porthouse Theater

As a birthday gift, my mom got us tickets to see my favorite movie-turned-musical playing on the local stage. We started the evening with a boozy picnic on the Porthouse grounds, then enjoyed a little bit of outdoor theater on a beautiful, cool August night.

My bridal shower

I admit it, I didn't want to have one - but I'm so glad I did. Thanks to my wonderful Aunt Sarah for hosting the perfect little brunch-time event, attended by about 20 or so friends & family members. Hashtag blessed, indeed.

Jimmy Eat World show

In my first & only Blossom concert of the summer, some friends & I scored tickets to a Jimmy Eat World & Incubus show at Cleveland's outdoor venue (located 40 minutes away, in my hometown). I loved seeing my favorite band for a fourth time.

Tremont Polish Festival

This event was less festival & more food-in-a-church-basement, but when the food is this good, who's complaining? Mike & I visited twice, breaking our no-carbs-before-the-wedding promise in favor of a plate of pierogis & a bowl (or two) of Sokolowski's cabbage & noodles.

Taste of Tremont

This fun annual festival takes place on the street where we now live, & though Mike was out of town, some friends & my mom came over to enjoy the festivities.  After having our fill of food, we skipped the beer garden & enjoyed our own beer on the front porch.

Cleveland Blogger Meetup

I've been a Cleveland blogger for awhile now - & a regular old blogger for even longer - but this summer marked my first time meeting up with other Cleveland bloggers. We had a great time schmoozing & boozing at the new Hi & Dry in Tremont.

Labor Day cookout

Marking the unofficial end of summer, if not the calendar's end, this was the perfect day to have a few friends over for a low-key cookout with burgers & hot dogs on the grill in our jungle of a backyard - even if we did almost lose our cat.

I feel like this roundup still doesn't skim the surface of all the fun things we fit into this summer - lots of days of just hanging out or grabbing appetizers on a patio or checking out new breweries - but this is a pretty solid look at what my summer looked like. It was a great one - & now, onto autumn!

Monday, September 11, 2017

My 7 Favorite Podcasts for Fellow True Crime Lovers

It took me awhile to get into podcasts, but now that I've got the bug, I've got the bug. Granted, I still don't listen to a ton of them, & there's only one I look forward to every week, but I've recently binged a few that I thought were worth sharing. Awhile back, I wrote about my favorite overall podcasts at the time, but I've since listened to a bunch more - all true crime-related.

Just a note: I do not recommend listen to true crime podcasts while you're also reading true crime books. I was reading James Renner's True Crime Addict at the same time I started listening to the Accused podcast - & I started having a really hard time keeping the stories straight!

Without further ado, here are my favorite true crime podcasts. Have one to add to the list? Let me know so I can start binging it, too.

1. Serial

Look, I don't really need to go into Serial here, do I? I've already written an entire post about it. Suffice it to say that Serial was the podcast that got me hooked on podcasts, although like everyone else, I couldn't get into season two. Still, I'm hopeful that season three will bring me back.

2. My Favorite Murder

This is my favorite murder... podcast, that is. With new episodes every Thursday & new mini-episodes most Tuesdays, I get a twice-a-week fix that still doesn't feel like enough. Hosts Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark are hilarious, real, & not pretending to be big-time journalists or investigators - just your average, anxiety-ridden American women who have become obsessed with true crime as a means of survival. I'm going to see it live in Detroit later this month!

3. True Crime Garage

If Karen & Georgia are too off-topic chatty for you (a common MFM complaint), then True Crime Garage is your dude-led alternative. Nick & the Captain tackle a new case each week, sometimes extending in-depth cases by a couple of episodes. They're more committed to the details of each case, & to their credit, stay on-topic while remaining interesting, conversational, & occasionally funny, too. As a bonus, they recommend a beer at the beginning of the show & a book at the end of it.

4. Accused

This one-season podcast is a special project of the Cincinnati Enquirer investigating the murder of Miami University grad Elizabeth Andes, 22, who was found strangled & stabbed in her Oxford, OH, apartment. Though her boyfriend was tried for the crime (once in criminal court & once in a civil suit), he was acquitted both times - & police don't seem to be pursuing any other leads, though Enquirer journalist Amber Hunt uncovered plenty of them.

5. Someone Knows Something

It took me just three days to blow through both seasons of Canadian journalist David Ridgen's search into two unsolved disappearances. Season 1 delves into the 1972 disappearance of 5-year-old Adrien McNaughton, who was on a fishing trip with his father; Season 2 is about the disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard, 28, who disappeared in 1998 just says after her engagement was broadcast on live TV. A project of CBC Radio, this podcast features some of the best Canadian accents you ever did hear.

6. Criminal

In each episode of this podcast, all varying lengths (which I like - something for every situation!), former journalist Phoebe Judge tells the story of some crime or an element of one, but not always the "If it bleeds, it leads" kind; they're always a little bit offbeat, interesting, unique. The first episode, for example, is about death by... owl. Writes New York Magazine, Criminal "understands crime as something sociological, historical, even anthropological."

7. Up & Vanished

What happened to Tara Grinstead? The high school teacher & local beauty queen from Ocilla, GA, disappeared without a trace in October of 2005. Without a shred of evidence, her disappearance became the largest case file in Georgia's history, which meant that documentarian Payne Lindsey had a lot to go through when he started this podcast. Crazy twist: Just as the podcast was about to end, the killer was caught, & the podcast continued in real-time, delving into his background & covering the grand jury trial.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What I Bought on Amazon: Summer Edition

If you're anything like the average millennial, you're probably buying things left & right from Amazon. Right? Well, Lacey at Perks of Being a JAP is, at least, & she just started a monthly series to share what's on her recently-purchased list. I'm not sure if I buy enough to link up monthly (a lot of my purchases are, say, kitty little & cat food), but I thought I'd kick it off with a summer roundup.

Twone White Cloud Magnetic Wall Key HolderHow cute is this keyholder?! It's easy to mount - it just stick to the wall - & it's a magnet, which means that to "hang" your keys, you just hold them up to the cloud & they're stuck. I haven't lost my keys since I bought it.

Mrs. Meyer's Apple Hand Soap: This stuff smells so goooood. I used it at a friend's place & decided I needed to buy a bunch of it immediately. I'm almost out, though, so another order is coming soon.

Sunjoy Grill GazeboI'm going to try to use this backyard patio gazebo, sans bright green top, as our wedding chuppah. Will this work? I have no idea. Hey, that reminds me: I should probably do a trial run of some sort.

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Soft Waves Sea Salt Spray, Tropical Banana ScentI don't think this smells like banana at all - which is good, because that sounds a little gross, tbh. This used to be my go-to salt spray, but I recently gave it up in favor of one that didn't make me quite so tangly.

Dominique Longline Strapless Smooth Torsolette BraOooh, gettin' a little intimate here! I first tried on this corset bra at David's Bridal the day I bought my wedding dress, but it was a whopping $90, so I took a pass... & then found the same one online for just $35.

Quilled Paper Heart USPS Forever StampsDid you know you can buy stamps on Amazon? You can buy stamps on Amazon. I'm never going to the post office again. No, really.

Green Tea Extract Supplement with EGCGDoes this stuff work? I can't tell. Is this stuff safe? I don't know. As a known snacker, I bought it in an effort to curb my appetite, & I think it makes me feel fuller, but who can really tell?

IN'VOLAND Stretchy Long Sleeve BodysuitI blogged last week about my search for a plain, lack, long-sleeved bodysuit... & I finally found one! The problem, it turns out, is that I don't feel comfortable wearing a bodysuit, but hey, that's not Amazon's fault.

ArtToFrames 17x22" Satin Black Picture Frame: Apparently 17x22 is a really weird frame size? This was impossible to find, but it's all gonna be worth it when it arrives & I can frame my Madame Talbot's Whiskey Jack print.

GE 14404 Polarized Grounding AdapterThe coffee shop that I work out of a few days a week only has a few outlets, & one of them requires a three-prong converter so I can plug in my laptop. I was tired of asking the baristas to borrow theirs, so I finally bought my own. Lame? Probably. Useful? Very.

CAP Barbell Neoprene Coated DumbbellsI bought these 8-lb. weights to try to get my arms in shape before the wedding, but guess how many times I've used them? Yeahhhh.

LILBETTER Spaghetti Strap Boho Long Maxi Dresses: This was my first time buying an article of clothing on Amazon (am I way behind the times?!), which I originally read about on Lacey's blog. I love this dress, which is so flowy & cool - & it has pockets!

I may not do this link-up every month, but it's a fun every once in awhile to see what others are buying. Apparently my Amazon purchases are a little boring; I swear my across-the-web purchases are better! For example, this week I received a shipment of 10 lbs. of individually wrapped chocolate buckeye candies...

What have you bought on Amazon lately? What's next? 

My "What I Bought..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the products I discuss. If you buy an item 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 random stuff on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

On Being a Crazy Cat Mom

We were hosting a Labor Day cookout when it happened: Our cat, Helo, who had been social all day long, was suddenly nowhere to be found. He wasn't responding to his name or to the sound of my shaking a bag of his favorite treats. And perhaps most tellingly, our other cat, Dora, was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, meow-screaming as if to tell us that her brother had gone missing.

Our apartment isn't very big to begin with, & we'd closed off two rooms for the party (mostly to hide the mess). Within the space that was left, there were minimal hiding places: under the bed (which is pretty cleared out), in the closet (which I recently cleaned & reorganized), & in cabinets (which all have doors that pull outward, so a cat could hide in there but not get stuck in there).

We all agreed: Helo seemed to have escaped.

He must've gotten out, we reasoned, during all our back & forth between the back yard & the kitchen. We'd all been careful, but cats are silent ninjas; he could be anywhere by now.

Immediately, I set about doing the most helpful thing: sobbing. Yep, there we were, semi-drunk & surrounded by friends during a really lovely midday picnic, & I started bawling. How could I not? I mean, yeah, he's "just" a cat - but he's a cat who's my best little buddy. he's soft & pretty & indoorsy, &  thunderstorm was coming, & he could've been anywhere. Including gone forever.

Our friends sprang into action, scouring our apartment, our yard, the nearby park, & the surrounding areas for anywhere Helo might be hiding. We gave descriptions to neighbors, texted our upstairs duplex-mates to ask them to keep an eye out, & posted a photo in a neighborhood Facebook group. Mike put a litterbox & treats on the patio to try to help Helo recognize the scent of his home. All the while, I continued to cry uncontrollably while yelling my cat's name all around the damn neighborhood. Like a crazy person.

Exhausted, I returned home & looked around the apartment again, just in case. I returned to the only place with dark, hidden corners: the closet. I'd looked there three times already, but why not a fourth?

And there he was, nestled in a duffel bag & covered in winter scarves, his big green eyes staring out at me. I wept harder, this time with joy, as I shouted out the window, "I found him! I found him!" I was so embarrassed to admit that he'd been in the apartment the entire time - but I wasn't the only one who'd scoured our home & failed to find him in his very concealed hiding place.

He was terrified, though I'm still not sure what of. The dogs who'd been at the party earlier? He'd watched them through the window & hadn't seemed to mind. The loud radio playing out the bedroom window? He hadn't cared about it all afternoon. But something must've spooked him because he did not want to come out of his closet corner.

He's fine, of course, & so am I, if I little bit mortified by my reaction. "Were you really that upset?" one friend asked, when it was all over. Embarrassed as I was, yes, I was definitely that upset. As someone prone to imagining the worst-case scenarios, all kinds of thoughts went through my mind - & the prospect of losing my little dude was devastating. "LOST PET" signs always make me tear up, & I couldn't stop imagining being the person to hang them.

So after all that, Helo's safe at home, like he was the whole entire time - & I'm definitely buying a door for my closet.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What I Read in August

August was both a great & terrible months for books. Some months, I feel like I just can't get into the swing of things, like every book I read is good but not great - not the kind that keep you up late at night racing through pages just to see what happens next. At the start of August, nearly everything I read felt that way, & it was exactly the reading rejuvenation I needed. 

Unfortunately, every rose has its thorn(s), & in August, I also read my two least favorite books of the year thus far - & maybe ever. I hated one of them so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it. But let's pretend like those books never even happened, OK? 

On a happier note: I just picked out my next book from Book of the Month Club! I've been eagerly anticipating Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere (her first book, Everything I Never Told You, was my favorite read of 2016), so I was excited to make that my BoTM pick. I also added Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air, which I've long been wanting to read. Check out BoTM if you're interested in getting new bestsellers before they even hit the shelves. My referral link will get you three months for $30, plus a cute tote.

What'd you read in August? What's on your to-read list? I wanna talk books!

Amy: My Search for Her Killer by James Renner 

This was my second book by local crime writer James Renner, this one investigating the 1989 disappearance of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic. She was taken from a Cleveland-area shopping plaza by an unknown man who lured her in by posing as her mother's coworker & promising to take her shopping for a gift for her mom. Her body was discovered three months later, devastating then-11-year-old Renner; her killer has yet to be identified. ★★★★★

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I'd been on the library's waitlist for this book for months, so when it came in, I dropped everything to read it. Dimple & Rishi, the children of Indian immigrant parents, meet when their parents conspire to introduce them for the purpose of a potential arranged marriage. Independent, Americanized Dimple is not having it... but as is the case in adorable YA novels, she starts to come around. This is a cute story that addresses more serious issues, like parental expectations, cultural connections, & modern love. ★★★★★

There Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Last year, weirdly, I read not one but two books about school shootings; this was my first of 2017. It's told from the perspective of four high school students, two trapped in the school auditorium during a massacre & two trying to help from the outside - & one is the sister's shooter. It was bone-chilling & well-written, & toward the end, it brought me to tears. ★★★★★

Finals Girls by Riley Sager

Quincy, Samantha, & Lisa are accidental media darlings, dubbed The Final Girls because they were each the sole survivor of some horrible massacre. When Lisa commits suicide, Sam shows up on Quinn's door. Soon, though, their relationship turns volatile, & Quinn isn't sure who she can trust. I literally stood in my bathroom reading this book at 2am so I could finish it; it was full of so many twists & turns toward the end that I had to find out how it ended. ★★★★

Before He Feels by Blake Pierce

This is book six in the trashy crime series I've been reading all year. In this one, rookie FBI ingenue Mackenzie White is tracking down a perp in Virginia with a strange M.O.: He's only killing blind people. I enjoyed this one as much as the others, but I was frustrated by the author's seeming lack of knowledge about how to appropriately discuss blindness - or disability in general. Would it have been that difficult to consult someone about whether or not you were being politically correct/polite? ★★★☆☆

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

I loved this book for, like, 90% of my reading of it... but I was so freaking angry about the ending that I ended up hating it. It felt so tacky & cheap & demeaning & made me so mad that I'd wasted my time. Before that, it was about two women who become friends despite the fact that one is secretly sleeping with the other's husband - or is it a secret at all? She begins to wonder what's happening in her friend's seemingly tumultuous relationship. But again: Though I can't say why without a total spoiler, I hated this book by the end. ★★☆☆

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

This took me a little while to read because it's so heavy that sometimes I just had to put it down for awhile. At the same time, each of the short stories within it is so compelling, so darkly powerful, that it's hard to walk away from. Gay weaves the fictional stories of women who society deem problematic but who readers - presumably a lot of so-called difficult women themselves - will see as complex, thoughtful, & multitudinous. From the first story to the final, there's not one in the bunch that I wouldn't recommend. 

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I've had this book on my Kindle forevvvver, but it didn't appeal to me until I started seeing other bloggers' positive reviews. It was a light & easy read, emotional but not too painful, telling the fictional story of the very real "orphan trains" that, around the turn of the 20th century, took orphaned children across the country to be adopted - whether by loving families or by cruel individuals looking for free labor. It's interwoven with the story of a modern-day foster teen named Molly who befriends 91-year-old Vivian, a former orphan train child. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

As someone who spent nearly a decade trying to convince myself that I didn't cause someone's suicide, just take a second to imagine how I feel about a book about a dead girl telling her peers exactly what they did to "make" her kill herself. I can barely explain how angry this book made me, but I did write an entire post about it. This premise is so wildly irresponsible & just not OK; same goes for the show, which I didn't watch & now absolutely won't. ★☆☆

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.

Friday, September 1, 2017

On Knowing My Style & Not Wearing Clothes I Hate (Plus: A Look at My Bridal Shower!)

My bridal shower was last Saturday, hosted by my Aunt Sarah & held at Toast in Gordon Square. It was a difficult time to plan an event - the last weekend of summer, when tons of people are out of town - but we were still joined by about 20 of my friends & family, including three of my aunts, my best friend who drove up from Tennessee, & a bunch of my mom's friends who I've known for years.

It was a great day, complete with lox & rosemary/sea salt bagels from the Cleveland Bagel Company, pretty little petit fours (with edible glitter!) from The BonBonerie in Cincinnati, & two sets of dishes that came in boxes featuring hilariously large photos of Gordon Ramsay's face.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of this post - about fashion & my sense of style & wearing clothes I hate? OK, OK, I'm getting there.

Originally, I bought a dress from Target's Ava + Viv line to wear to the shower - a bright pink floral maxi. It was flowy, colorful, & summery, perfect for an end-of-August event, though I was surprised I actually liked it because, if you know me at all, you know pink is not my jam. Literally, this would be the only article of pink clothing in my closet. But when I tried it on in the store, it seemed like the right purchase.

The night before the shower, though, I tried on the dress again... & hated it. For starters, it didn't fit as well as I'd remembered. It was a little too big, my bra slightly visible at my armpits, & my bra straps showed at the shoulders, where the dress thinned into ribbons. Worst of all, though, it just didn't feel like me. I felt like I was prepping for my bat mitzvah, sporting a stuffy dress made for someone else's style, & I started to have visions of myself feeling super uncomfortable & awkward at my own wedding shower - an event that I was already feeling a little bit uncomfortable & awkward about to begin with (hello, center-of-attention status - yikes!)

I texted my mom, who of course loved the look. "WEAR IT," she commanded, but I knew that, if I didn't feel like myself, I wouldn't fully enjoy the day.

Immediately, I got to work trying on every dress in my closet. Unfortunately, I've gained a bit more weight in the last few months (ideal right before my own wedding!) so not all of my go-to dresses fit comfortably. I tried on eight to 10 dresses... & nothing seemed right.

Finally, I landed on one outfit I  loved (& the dress was even white!) but it seemed too casual. In retrospect, I could've worn this - it's not like I threw a cocktail party - but at the time, it didn't seem like the right outfit for the occasion. My mom's text response, an uninspiring "Eh," wasn't a huge vote of confidence, either - though I'm definitely going to wear this combo someplace else in the near future. (Probably not to hang out with my mom.)

So what to do? Wear the dress that was right for the occasion but not right for me, or wear the definitely-my-style outfit that might not be right for the event?

I posted in a Facebook group I'm in filled with other women who are working their way through the Feel Good Dress Better workbook, created by Nicole of Writes Like a Girl. They shared some feedback & lots of support - but I still fell asleep wracking my brain for possible outfit options for the next morning...

...& then I woke up with the perfect thing in mind! I took my Macy's INC jumpsuit out of the dryer & paired it with gold sandals I bought long ago for a trip to Vegas, plus a simple gold rope necklace I got on the cheap this summer a Cleveland boutique called Banyan Tree.

Voila! Suddenly, I felt like myself again - albeit a casually-dressed-up-for-my-own-party version of myself.

This third outfit felt very me, & it was definitely dressy enough. It seemed to go over well with everyone else, too - even my mother. My aunt has a very classic, preppy, pretty-in-pink style, & once she complimented me on my all-black-&-gold outfit, I think my mom had to relent, too. My aunt told me she saw the photo of the pink dress & didn't like it. See?! It wasn't just me who thought it just wasn't me!

I'm glad I listened to my instincts & didn't wear a dress that felt too far from my style - but also that I resisted the urge to wear something that wasn't right for the occasion. I know I would've felt uncomfortable in both of the first two outfits: one because I didn't feel like myself, & the other because I would've been self-conscious about feeling underdressed.

I think the end result was a good one, & I'm proud of myself for listening to my style.

But wait, wait - does this mean I maybe, finally, actually have one?!

Another style post to come very soon...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Internet is Teeming With Trash Clothing: A Collection of Beautiful Bodysuits

I've looking for a plain, black bodysuit, preferably one with sleeves, that's available in plus sizes. I've been looking hard for such a garment. I've scoured the depths of the Internet for such a garment. I found sound a garment! Thanks, Torrid! It looks like this:

Alas... it isn't available in my size. Womp, womp. "OK," I think to myself upon realizing it, "Surely a similar item is available on some other site."

You'd think, right? But you'd be wrong. I've yet to find a replica of that bodysuit, but I have found dozens & dozens of hideous & horrifying alternatives. In a bit of a throwback to the kinds of posts I published here in the days before Twitter allowed me to share it all with you in real-time, I thought I'd do a round-up of some of my (least) favorites.

Let's start with this one! Perhaps appropriately, this little number is from a brand called HOTAPE. So, uh, is that pronounced liked "hot-tape" or like "hoe-tape"? In fairness, the description describes it as a bathing suit, not a bodysuit, but also in fairness, this is terrible. It's only appropriate if you're trying to dress as a birdcage for Halloween, in which case, nailed it. (HOTAPE, $16.99)

Why did this come up in my search? This isn't solid black. In fact, this comes in 18 patterns, & I didn't even choose the most visually offensive one to share with you here. This is ideal if you've ever wanted to, like, live inside a Magic Eye book. You just can't get mad when bleary-eyed people lock their gaze upon your torso. They're just trying to see the 3D stuff! (Rokiney, $13.99-$16.99)

You know how men's boxers come with a hole at the crotch so they can pee more easily? Lucky ladies, now you can do the same! Unfortunately, in order to get in & out of this thing, you probably have to struggle like a dolphin caught in a tuna net, which is nowhere near as sexy as this brand is aspiring to be. (Deksias, $9.90)

But if you've ever just wanted to straight-up wear a tuna net without any pretenses, you can have this one instead - which, weirdly, costs more money than its frilly friend above. (Forever 21, $17.90)

If you've ever wanted to be a real-life Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, this is the garment for you. Just don't wear it on days when you need to pass through a metal detector. (Forever 21, $17.90)

Sure, you know how to tie your shoes, but can you do it upside down & backwards? (ASOS, $42)

This model looks like she played dress-up in her ailing Mee-Maw's underwear drawer & tried to get creative with literal granny panties by just pullin' 'em alllll the way up & calling it fashion. (Forever 21, $28)

Look, I don't even hate this one. I'm just... not really trying to look like Lady Gaga on an everyday basis. But if you are? Hey, I've got a bodysuit for ya. Probably wears better than a meat dress. (XIMAN, $12.99-$20.98)

If you've ever dreamed of being the creepy sex stalker from the first season of American Horror Story and/or suffocating in a tarp, this "Wetlook Spandex Turtleneck Unitard" is probably perfect. And it comes in a rainbow of colors, in case "slick ninja" isn't quite the look you're going for. (Esnovo, $28.99)

There's also this option, for when you want that wetlook, but, like, way less of that wetlook, please. (Forever 21, $19.90)

Boohoo says this is a "Premium" item, but unless you're Britney Spears performing in Vegas, who is wearing this & why? (Boohoo, $80)

If you've got a Grease-themed party or an old-timey sock hop comin' up, you could wear this! And when you're not at the party, you can wear it to the soda jerk! Just don't wear it to the drive-in movies, 'cause it'll be hard to get felt up with crotch-snaps in the way. (ASOS, $48)

Wait, wait, this one is actually kind of lovely. It's something like Princess Kate meets an ice skating champion from the late 1990s. If only I had a place to wear such an item, like to the Royal Palace, or Ice Capades. (Forever 21, $38)

The only way this silk, dolman-sleeved bodysuit could be any more hideous is if the bottom were a literal diaper, instead of just looking like one. (Eloquii, $49.90)

I am equal parts horrified by this garment & amused by this garment. What's the appropriate time to wear such a piece? To the zoo? To a pep rally at a high school whose mascot is a tiger? For a mere $10, I suppose you can buy now & outfit-plan later. Wherever you go in it, though, you might wanna bring a sweater. (Rainbow, $10.00)

Why are there so many tiger-print bodysuits in the world? Is this like all the dudes whose Tinder pics include tigers? What is it about tigers? Should I get a tiger-something? (Forever 21, $12.90)

Again, I'm trying desperately to figure out the appropriate place to wear this article of clothing. I feel like it should only be worn around someone who is your babe, right? But it's given such explicit instructions... (Forever 21, 17.90)

For when you wanna wear a tutu but you also wanna wear pants & you just can't decide, so you do both. (ASOS, $28)

Are you a callgirl? Are you a cowgirl? Does there have to be a difference? Combine 'em! (Forever 21, $38)

If your body is not in possession of nipples, I've got a great outfit for you to try! (Forever 21, $15.90)

I used to wear a back brace for my scoliosis, & this garment looks so much like said back brace that I can barely look at it without breaking out into a bout of preteen angst. (Forever 21, $48)

As '90s style returns, so, too, does that Left-Eye-from-TLC vibe. Just don't burn down anybody's house. Or die in a car accident. Or... man, on second thought, please just don't buy this. (ASOS, $28)

If I'm gonna spend this much money on a bodysuit, I'm gonna request that the manufacturer at least sew up the loose threads at the thighs, please. Damn. (ASOS, $146.50)

I love the Cavs, but I do not think anyone wants me to show my love of the Cavs in this way. (Don't worry, Golden State fans, this line's got you covered, too!) (Rue 21, $21.99)

I don't even have anything snarky to say to this one. I am terrified of velvet, & this is my literal worst nightmare, & I can't breathe just looking at it. I would rather wear literally any of the hideous bodysuits on this list, in public, than ever have to try this one on. (ASOS, $29)

This bodysuit is a good option if you're considering a full-body tribal tattoo but aren't yet sure you wanna go, like, all in. Consider this your practice run. (Shawhuwa, $10-$15)

OK, OK, you think I'm being a jerk, don't you? I'm sorry, I'll stop. This bodysuit agrees with you, & it's got a message for me. (ASOS, $88.50)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Let's Talk About the Most Infuriating Book I've Ever Read

I've always liked to stay current on pop culture. OK, I didn't listen to "Despacito" for, like, three weeks after it first came out, & I haven't gone to the movies in about a year, but, uh... I try. Even if I don't see or listen to something myself, I try to read up on it so that I at least know what's going on, conversationally.

When everyone started obsessing over the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, based on Jay Asher's YA novel of the same name, my first instinct was to binge-watch it with the rest of the world. Every time I logged into Netflix, there it was, flashing across the top of the screen, waiting to be watched.

In the past, I would've done it. I would've put myself through an agonizing binge, knowing it was going to tear me apart & then suffering the emotional consequences anyway. I would've watched it just so I could say I had.

But I didn't. 

One nice thing about growing older is knowing yourself a little bit better - & in this case, I knew I was better off not watching 13 Reasons Why. I asked two close friends, just to be sure, & both confirmed that if I wanted to get in on the cultural zeitgeist, I should read the book instead. Less painful, they said. Better executed, they said.

I finished the book this week, & let me tell you: If that was the less painful, better executed version of 13 Reasons Why, I am so freaking glad I didn't try the TV show.

Put plainly, 13 Reasons Why is dangerously irresponsible. It makes a mockery of suicide & puts teens at emotional risk. It's meant to show that our actions, no matter how small, can have deep impact on those around us, but the message I see in it is very different. And much more sinister.

13 Reasons Why teaches teens that if someone they know commits suicide, it might be their fault. Do you know what a dangerous idea that is? What a horrifying accusation that is? 

Maybe you don't. But I do.

I know because I spent a decade of my life trying to convince myself that someone else's suicide was not my fault. That I didn't drive my ex-boyfriend, in some way large or small, to hang himself in his garage. That furthering my own story didn't put an end to his. Quite simply, that I didn't kill someone just by being a misguided, mistake-riddled teenager myself.

Unless you've lived it, you probably can't understand what that feels like. You probably can't conceive of the guilt & pain & self-loathing that comes with wracking your brain for every single interaction you ever had with someone & all its possible effects - wondering whether those acts drove someone to end their life. Especially when you were young & already full of pain & self-loathing yourself. That is a lifetime of baggage & torment. 

In 13 Reasons Why, 13 high schoolers receive a set of cassette tapes that contain voice recordings by Hannah Baker, a fellow student who overdosed on painkillers. Before ending her life, Hannah recorded these tapes to tell 13 individuals how they contributed to her suicide. Some of their infractions are huge - one is a peeping Tom, another the accomplice to a rape. There's no denying that some of these people have committed massive, life-changing, & perhaps unforgivable sins.

But the others? For the most part, they're just normal goddamn teenagers who hurt Hannah by, say, not really wanting to be her friend anymore. By putting her name on an undesirable superlatives list. But grabbing her butt once. By asking her for a ride to a party without really wanting to hang out with her. Hannah doesn't seem to be depressed; she seems vindictive & angry, sharing these stories as a means of perpetual emotional torment of those who hurt her - many of them unknowingly.

One of the girls Hannah accuses of contributing to her suicide is a girl whose rape she witnessed while hiding, drunk, in a closet at a party. Can you imagine the cruelty of telling someone they drove you to suicide by slapping you in the face once... when you could've stopped their rape, but didn't? Those are some seriously unequal actions - & that is some serious bullying, even in the afterlife.

And that, for me, is the crux of it: 13 Reasons Why represents a massive act of bullying & emotional manipulation. To accuse someone of killing you is, truly, the ultimate cruelty. That person can never apologize; they have to live with what they've been accused of for the rest of their lives. 13 Reasons Why tells teens that if they hurt someone, willfully or otherwise, & then that someone commits suicide, it is their fault. And that is patently not OK - nor is it true.

When someone chooses to end their own life, that's exactly the key: They choose it. 

Plenty of us - all of us, I'd wager to say - have been hurt by other people. Maybe we've been hurt to the point of agony, thought we'd never recover from it, that we might never feel OK again. And yet, most of us make the choice to push forward, to keep living - & in time, we learn to live with the pain we've experienced. 

In doing so, we begin to understand other people better. We begin to understand human nature, to see that we are more than what has happened to us & that, conversely, other people are more than what they've done to us. Imagine if something stupid you did as a 16-year-old turned out to be something you had to live with forever - if it was something that was said to have killed someone. 

I have never been as angry while reading a book as I was while reading 13 Reasons Why. For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone read this book or watched this show & saw anything except what I did. How could anyone think this story line was justified? How could this book make it to print, much less to its own hit TV show? How is this show anything but dangerous & damaging?

I know, I know. In choosing not to read this book until well after the hype surrounding the show had died down, my "hot take" is actually a pretty cold one since the show isn't a topic of conversation anymore. But you know what's always an important topic of conversation? Mental health. Suicide awareness & prevention. Depression. Bullying. All of this.

This book is trash. Period. It never should've been published. It does not deserve the attention & adoration its received in the media. It should not be on the air (errr, Netflix). It should be held up as a shining example of exactly how not to treat suicide.

Now you're probably going to want to read it, right? Don't say I didn't warn you. But seriously - if you want a great teen TV show, go watch Riverdale instead, or read literally any other book. Because this one is not worth the ink used to print it.

If you're struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them online. They're available 24 hours a day, every day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Happy 10 Years of Blogging - & More - to Me!

This week marks four very important 10-year anniversaries in my personal life - like, big ones. And they're all related. Bear with me for a sec, will ya?

Ten years ago this week, I graduated from college. 

It took me two schools & five years, but I made it, graduating the summer of my super-senior year with a bachelors of science in news journalism. The top of my cap read "THANKS, MOM."

Ten years ago this week, I left Ohio for the first time & moved to Washington, D.C. 

I'd lived there for a few weeks the summer before, solidifying my interest in moving there after graduation. And, OK, I actually moved into a room in a condo in Maryland with an hour-and-a-half-long commute into Dupont Circle, but it barely mattered. I was overjoyed to be in a big city, to feel free, to feel like an adult. I planned for D.C. to be a stepping-stone city on my ultimate path to NYC.

Ten years ago this week, I started working at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

It was a crazy job for me to have taken - for me to have been hired for - given that I didn't know a single thing about politics or even about Judaism. And yet, there I was, one of six recent college grads chosen for a prestigious one-year fellowship at a social action nonprofit in the heart of D.C., sitting in meetings on legislative policy & lobbying Congress on behalf of one million Reform Jews - with some of the best people I've ever met. The six of us became fast friends, & they remain some of my favorite people in the entire world.

And 10 years ago today, I started this blog right here.

Sure, it was originally called Suburban Sweetheart, a name that garnered me laughs from GoDaddy because it sounded so much like a porn site. Oops. I started it on a whim, knowing not a damn thing about blogging, because I wanted to be able to share my city stories more broadly than just posting them to my Myspace page. No really: My first post here was crossposted from Myspace.

All these things... they're related, really. Imagine: Within the span of a week, I wrapped up my existing life - finished my internship & graduated from college - & then moved to a big city on the East Coast to start my first adult job & meet an entirely new set of people.

They changed my life, all of them. The place, the people... they made me. When I first left Ohio, I planned to return, like, immediately. My D.C. job was a one-year fellowship, nothing permanent, & I I planned to move back to Ohio when it was over - to find an apartment in Cleveland & maybe try to work for Cleveland Magazine, where I'd interned before commencement. I was going to be a journalist in Ohio, obviously; this D.C. thing was just a quick detour on the path.

Except it wasn't.

It wasn't a detour; it was everything.

Here I am, a decade later, working for the same place, friends with many of the same people. Of course, so many of the details have changed: I did come back to Cleveland, albeit with a number of detours along the way. I spent four years in D.C., plus a year & a half apiece in New Hampshire & New Jersey. I briefly left my job for one I hated, & then I was hired back to my old one. I've lived in more apartments than I can count. I've been published - in a book & in The Washington Post, even! I've made new friends & lost old friends & fallen in love & out of love & in a better love. I turned 30 & lived with my mom again & settled into life in Cleveland & planned a wedding, and, and, and.

As with every life, there is just so much to tell.

And tell it I have.

In the 10 years that I've been writing here, I have published 1,140 blog posts in this space. Before I started blogging, I was, well, blogging. It just wasn't called that yet. I wrote on Xanga sites & a Myspace journal & in Facebook notes & in dozens upon dozens of old-school paper diaries. When I started blogging here, well, it felt like coming home - just like my move to D.C. did, like my job at the RAC did, like the life that I started when I started writing here did.

Life is very different these days, but it's also very much the same. Through it all, this blog has continued to serve as a sacred space for me to document & share my life - as much for & with you as for & with myself. Blogging may be dead, or so says the Internet, but my blog isn't. I have no plans to give it up any time soon.

Thanks for sticking around, friends. You make this space feel pretty darn worth-it - even after a whole freaking decade.

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