11 of My Favorite Memoirs

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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I didn't start reading again, not really, until 2015, & when I did, I started with the one genre of books I knew I loved: memoirs. Though I've since branched out, it's still my favorite genre, & I try to read at least one memoir a month. I thought I'd round them up here for you, should this be a genre you happen to love, too. Happy reading!

1. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

Proving she's more than a pretty Hollywood face, the Orange is the New Black actress puts pen to paper to tell the devastating, painful story of her family's real-life immigration struggles. When she was 14, Guerrero's parents were deported to Colombia, leaving her - a born-and-raised Bostonian - to grow up fast &, eventually, to try to take on the broken system that failed her family. Well-written, spunky, heartbreaking, honest, inspiring - a real must-read.

2. You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

I usually like to read the memoirs of people who are very different from me: people who have escaped cults, celebrities who say funny things on TV, women who have fled war-torn countries, etc. But Jessi Klein's memoir felt like reading the story of myself. Sure, I'm not a fortysomething mother & comedy writer, but man... her sense of humor feels exactly like mine. I listened to it on audiobook & laughed out loud so often.

3. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

Sandra & her family, members of the African Banyamulenge tribe, lived a normal life in the Congo until they were forced to relocate to a displaced persons camp in Burundi. One night, the camp was raided by armed combatants who set fire to the tents & murdered their inhabitants. Sandra, who escaped unharmed, watched her mother & sister get shot - & returned the next day to find her sister's skull. Her traumatized family eventually relocates to the U.S., where Sandra is an activist dedicated to telling her tribe's stories & holding their killers responsible.

4. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Indian-American Buzzfeed writer Scaachi Koul is a twentysomething with stories to tell & the perfect voice for telling them. Her collection of personal essays are deep & powerful, but she manages to tell them with a cleverness & wit that keep the book from feeling too painfully heavy, even when she's addressing subjects that are. Bonus: The bright pink & yellow cover art is of the feel-good variety, especially on dreary days.

5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book should be a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand racial tension in America, whether you're a POC who's living that reality every day or a white person who seeks deeper understanding in order to become a better ally. Truly, Coates' writing - a memoir & social commentary in the form of a letter to his son - is a work of art, & I believe this book will long be looked upon as a classic in its genre.

6. I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

This is a quick, easy read of short essays by the late Nora Ephron, the brilliant & insightful writer of You've Got Mail & other such gems. Topics touch on stereotypically female elements of life, like vanity, housekeeping, dating - all from a witty, feminist perspective. Ephron was in her late 60s when she wrote this, so don't expect it to be as progressive as you'd like, but it's still a wonderful, charming book.

7. I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

This is the memoir of a Cleveland journalist who was raped on a college campus in 1984 &, more than two decades later, begins delving into the life of her attacker. Though he has died in prison, she seeks out his friends & family in an effort to learn more about him & what drove him to violence. This book, while at time heartbreaking, terrifying, & difficult to read, is ultimately one of the most powerful memoirs I've ever encountered.

8. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This is the true story of every hypochondriac's worst nightmare. Susannah is young, successful, & living a snazzy NYC life when she starts to lose her grasp on reality, devolving into a full-scale psychosis. Cahalan, a trained journalist & adept storyteller, uses her own scarce memories, along with those of her family, friends, & doctors, to piece together the month she lost & the recovery that has followed.

9. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

Mock's memoir tells the story of her childhood in Honolulu, son of a broken family who grew up to be a beautiful, strong woman - a journalist, an activist, an overall role model. She is a powerful writer & a fascinating person, & I might've fan-girled out when she responded to me on Twitter.

10. Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology & My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

I've always been fascinated by Scientology, in a sort of "Isn't this so quirky & bizarre?!" kind of way - until I read this book. Miscavige Hill is the niece of the head of Scientology, the controversial & secretive David Miscavige. Reading the true stories & perspectives of someone who grew up in this cult-like church was, frankly, horrifying. How can anyone support or be a part of this lifestyle is beyond me.

11. Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

I didn't know much about the Scottish stage actor & Good Wife star, but when I saw this memoir getting rave reviews, I had to pick it up]. Cumming writes of a tumultuous & abusive childhood & his adult relationship (or lack thereof) with his father, interwoven with his quest to learn more about his late maternal grandfather, a war hero who died in Malaysia. Emotional & worthwhile.

What are your favorite memoirs? I'm always looking for good recommendations!

My book 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. Don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books!
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A Very Erie Weekend: 48 Hours in Lakeside, OH

Monday, September 24, 2018

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Sometimes I forget that Ohio has its own shoreline. We don't spend a ton of time at the beach, as I've never been much of a warm-weather gal, but the time we do spend at Lake Erie always reminds me how lucky we are to have the best of both worlds, all four seasons & our very own coast, albeit of the freshwater variety.

Just over an hour away from Cleveland is Lakeside, OH, a gated community on the Marblehead Peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. It's an easy drive down Rt. 2 West, & then you cross the Thomas Edison Bridge. The entire small Lakeside community is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, & it's a popular tourist destination in the spring & summer months. 

We were in town for the wedding of our friends Kyle & Katherine, who dubbed the event #cakeonthelake. We rented a cute cottage - OK, a "cute" million-dollar house - that was big enough to hold all of us & also seemed vaguely haunted. We found an old Mall Madness game on the third floor, which we'd dubbed "The Orphanage" because it held 10 twin beds; we found the words "RIP PAPA" written in the guest book. But the house itself was big & beautiful & right on the water, with quick access to the Lakeside community (which includes shuffleboard courts & a putt-putt course), along with the ceremony location itself.

Mike was an usher in the wedding, & our friend Lilly did a reading during the ceremony, so they both had to attend the wedding rehearsal. During that time, Lilly's husband Darren & I checked out the 700-foot pier that extends into the lake. It was such a windy day that on one side of the pier, waves crashed over the pier itself, while on the other, the water was completely calm & unmoving.

The wedding itself was wonderful, a full weekend full of festivities. At Friday night's rehearsal dinner, I tried low-country boil for the first time - minus the crawfish, because I'm a wuss of a Northerner - & despite a scary storm that night, the weather cleared up nicely for the early-afternoon ceremony on Saturday. It was windy but beautiful, & soon afterward, we all headed to the reception at the Catawba Island Club.

It was a really fun weekend, & as always, it was just so nice to get in some time with our group of friends. I'm constantly reminded of how lucky I feel to have found not just Mike but the entire group of friends that came along with him. They're such good people, & they have quickly become some of my favorite people; I feel so fortunate that they welcomed me into the fold so quickly & so warmly.

A few highlights: Just before the reception, Ohio State beat Tulane (both are the groom's alma maters); the bride publicly iced the groom for his birthday (yes, it was the same day as their wedding); the evening ended with a lot of boy-band music, including "MMMBop"; we sent off Kyle & Katherine with a trail of sparklers then headed back to our cottage for a low-key after-party.

We didn't get much of a chance to explore Lakeside itself, aside from the areas we hit up as part of the wedding weekend, but we did get to see a few spots. I'd love to go back - maybe later in the fall, as the leaves are changing - to see more of the area. It's just so cute! 

For Saturday morning brunch, we hit up Tin Goose Diner, a small, vintage diner now renovated & attached to the Liberty Aviation Museum. While you eat, you can look out over a small airfield where pilots land their old-timey planes! I got the hotcakes (so fluffy), & we also enjoyed the "hash brown stars," which are not actually hash browns but star-shaped tater tots. Ahhh, Ohio. 

Our rental house was about 100 steps from Coffee & Cream, the cutest little coffee shop slash ice cream joint. Between the ceremony & the reception, I stopped in & ordered a cinnamon latte with soy milk; when I went back the next day for the same thing, the barista remembered me and my order! How's that for small-town hospitality? I also bought a baseball ringer tee here that reads "THE LAKESIDE LIFE" because I am nothing if not a sucker for Cleveland tees.

Lakeside is full of golf carts, which the locals own & vacationers rent to get around the island (er, peninsula). Fun fact: My dad used to be a golf cart salesman, so I actually have a favorite brand of golf cart! I'm willing to set aside my general allegiance, though, to marvel over this one, which is designed to look like a mini antique car - hood ornament & all.

Early Sunday morning before we left town, we had "hangover brunch" with the bride & groom & their friends & family at the rental cottage that had housed the bridesmaids for the weekend. As we ate on the lawn, looking out over the lake, a bald eagle swept through the sky above us. What an incredible sight! Dozens of us stopped eating & watched as this huge, magnificent bird circled over us. I didn't get a picture of it, but now I understand why this statue sat outside the reception site...

Finally, on the way out of town, I convinced Mike to pull into a BP so I could photograph Handless Jacques, a 20-foot imitation Muffler Man who stands over Rt. 2 & is, well, handless. Apparently he used to hold a tray of food, but now he just looks out over the highway with nothing to offer but a vacant stare & a sad paint job.

I know Handless Jacques would've waved goodbye to us, if he could've. He still gave us a great (if morose) send-off as we headed out of town & back to our city lives! Seeya soon, Lakeside.
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Zoetic Walls & Beyond: Searching for Street Art & Happiness

Friday, September 21, 2018

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I've long enjoyed urban art, but lately, I feel like it's become a bit of an obsession - or maybe "passion" is a more positive word for it. I want to find all the street art I can - & I love that more & more of it seems to be going up throughout the city.

I recently started a new Instagram account, @clestreetart, to chronicle my love of murals & to share them with other Clevelanders & anyone else who appreciates art. I started with images I already had in my phone, mostly taken of murals throughout Tremont (where I live) & Ohio City, the next neighborhood over.

Recently, with Mike away on a business trip, I decided to take a solo day to explore Waterloo Arts District, which is easily Cleveland's most art-heavy neighborhood (at least when it comes to commissioned works). It's about a 15-minute drive from me, but I don't often make it out that way, so I loved being able to explore this new-to-me neighborhood on a sunny day.

Many of Collinwood's murals were painted in 2015 as part of the Zoetic Walls project, which was the city's first organized street mural effort, resulting in six murals. The mural one you see above, painted by Cleveland artist Lynnea Holland-Weiss, came from that project & was inspired, in part, by the artwork of the weaver who owns the building.

Attached to Holland-Weiss's mural is a separate mural, also part of the Zoetic Walls project, on the front of the CJ Industrial Supply building. This one was painted by another Clevelander, Dan Isaac Bortz. I love how the two murals bump up against one another like one piece, though they're completely different & clearly created by different artists.

This Atlas-inspired piece, titled "Atlas Against the Wall / Don't Kill Your Lily," is on another side of the same building as the two above. It was painted by Ecuadorian artist Layqa Nuna Yawar, known as LNY, a Latinx immigrant whose artwork typically depicts social justice causes - as this one clearly is. It's called

This beautifully chaotic piece, featuring dozens of line-drawn faces, appears nearby, at East 156th St. & Waterloo, done by the anonymous Brooklyn artist RAE. Unfortunately, as you can sort of see in this photo, parts of the wall - & thus, of this piece of art - have now flaked off in large chunks.

Also at Waterloo & East 156th is this beautiful, industrial-looking piece, painted in 2013 by Baltimore artist Gaia; based on his website, it appears to be titled "Industrial Sunset/Creative Placemaking." This mural is really cool, but Gaia's other works are also pretty incredible. I'd love to see Cleveland score one of his flowered murals!

This building has a weird, creepy vibe to me, & not just because the building is dilapidated. This one was done by Hygienic Dress League (whose logo is around the side of the building, seen in the second & third photos below), described as "a duo who fights crime and corruption in the fair city of Detroit."

If you look closely at the image of the man on the front of the building, you'll see that he's wearing a face mask, Bain-style. This seems to be their standard style of painting - lots of them include the same face mask - but they're also now into, like, gold-painted birds & animals, which I kinda want for my yard.

Annnnd another one at Waterloo & East 156th (yes, these are all very close together) is this piece on the side of the Slovenian Workmen's Home building. Painted by Argentinian artist Ever, it's called "Description of the Union Workers," which is... well, kind of heartbreaking.

Around the corner from these pieces, you'll find the Waterloo Arts building, which houses the organization dedicated to arts revival in the neighborhood. The history is sort of fascinating, actually: The area, which was originally called Collinwood, was in a terrible state of decline around 2002, & this organization was one of the ones that helped bring about its revival.

As you can see, lots of the buildings in the Waterloo Arts District are abandoned or rundown, & I certainly wouldn't say the neighborhood itself is, well, revived - but the art makes it feel particularly vibrant & intimate. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information about the artwork on the building itself, but it's pretty cool to look at.

This is the mural on the other side of the Waterloo Arts building, with a description of the work & those who helped create it in 2010. It reads, "This mural represents our vibrant community and shows what can occur when established artists collaborate with students."

Annnnd here's another mural from the Zoetic Walls project, this one painted by Cleveland artist Bob Peck. These splashy, brightly colored pieces seem to be his specialty.

What a shame that someone has defaced this Zoetic Walls piece by Kyle Nielsen. I think it says "LIT," but I can't find a single thing about it online. Any fellow Clevelanders know anything about it? That is one seriously pink building.

I wasn't able to fully photograph this mural, another one from Zoetic Walls, because it's on one side of someone's driveway &, well, there was a car in that driveway (as you can see) - but it's obvious it's really cool. It was painted by Canton artist Steve Ehret, who describes himself as "The Man Behind the Monsters." Seems appropriate!

The next two photos are actually of the same mural, a long piece that covers the back of a wall connecting a few different businesses - & again, there were cars parked in the way, so I couldn't fully photograph it. This one, which you'll find at East 161st and Waterloo, was done by California artist Nick Mann, a.k.a. Doodles, a.k.a. Nikos Manopolous, a.k.a. @dustofamerica. (Dude's online presence is real hard to figure out.) It's called "A Prayer for Collinwood," & you can see the whole thing on his Facebook page.

Brooklyn artist Gabriel Specter painted this mural on the side of St. John's Lodge. Yes, it's a pile of folding chairs, & no, I cannot find anything about it online that would explain why he chose this imagery. But it's kind of cool, right? I like the way he painted it in an ombre, especially given the way the building is shaped - with that stair-step roof.

London artist Camille Walala transformed an old Key Bank building into this truly stunning work of art, painted on all sides, now known as the Pop Life building. I can't tell whether its open yet, but The Plain Dealer reports that it's to become a yoga studio & juice bar. It looks like they ran a class in July, but there's nothing else on their schedule, so I'm not sure what's up. If the inside is anything like the outside, though, I'm gonna need to check it out immediately. 

Kaboom! I couldn't find much online about this piece, except that it seems to have been painted in 2009 as part of a project called Waterloo Walls that may or may not have gone any further. If a random blog is to be trusted (& I mean, that's where I'm writing, isn't it?), the artist of this piece was Christopher Diehl.

I was about to leave Collinwood but first decided to drive around the neighborhood to see if I could find anything else. A little further out, I found this mural painted on the side of a barbershop by Baltimore's Gaia. I only photographed one side, but it surrounds the building.

Just around the corner from that one, I spotted two more, including this one from Lynnea Holland-Weiss, which might be my favorite of the day (aside from the Pop Life building, which stands alone). it seems to just be painted on the side of a very small abandoned building? Whatever, I love it.

And finally, the second mural by Dan Isaac Bortz, found on the side of an auto repair shop adjacent overlooking a pocket park. The day I came by, there was a church festival happening just around the corner, all loud music & laughter in the background. It felt like a pretty perfect afternoon.

After all of this, I discovered that there's a map of all the Zoetic Walls pieces - & that I missed some of them while on my solo trip. Still, I did a pretty good job of spotting most of them, plus a couple extra, & I'll be back soon to catch the ones that didn't make the first cut.

I may or may not chronicle some of my other mural adventures here on the blog (Ohio City & Gordon Square are full of great ones, & it looks like Slavic Village might be, too), but Waterloo Arts seemed like the appropriate place for the debut of my newfound hobby. What do you think? Do you want to see more? 

In the meantime, follow along on @clestreetart for more art photos from me. Enjoy! 
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What I'm Watching: Fall 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Time for another round of Kate Watches a Surprising Amount of TV for Someone Who Claims Not to Like TV That Much™. Please bear in mind that I work from home & leave the TV (OK, my iPad) on while I work.

Sharp Objects

As a long-time Gillian Flynn fan, I was excited to see her dark debut novel get a miniseries. Having read the book, I knew what was coming, but I wanted to see Amy Adams' portrayal of Camille Preaker, an alcoholic journalist tasked with covering a series of murders of young girls in her podunk hometown. What follows is a suuuuper messed-up story in which the murders actually take second fiddle to Preaker's own terrifyingly bizarre estranged family. It has to be watched sloooowly to avoid mental impact; the end is bananas. (HBO)

Everything, Everything

I loved this YA book so much, even though it turns out to be A) wildly unlikely, & B) pretty effed up. The film stars Amandla Stenberg (Rue in The Hunger Games) as Maddy, who can't leave her phone due to a severe autoimmune disorder. Still, she starts up a friendship - & then a relationship - with her new next-door neighbor, whose presence in her life compels her to try to beat her illness & see the world. While the film wasn't nearly as compelling or adorable as the novel, I felt like it was a decent representation that held my attention & got me in my feelings. (HBO)


This show didn't really appeal to me a dozen friends recommended it as the best thing ever. While I wouldn't go quite that far, I'm definitely enjoying it. Sutton Foster plays a fortysomething single mom trying to reenter the workforce & discovering that she doesn't have the experience employers want. After a makeover, she sells herself as being much younger than she is - & it works. You've got to suspend reality to buy that her BFF Hillary Duff, among others, suspects nothing, but damn, this show is fun. (Hulu/TV Land)

The Sinner

Whoaaaaaa, this show. I started watching it on recommendation from My Favorite Murder, lured by the fact that it stars Bill Pullman, of Newsies & Independence Day fame. In season one, Cora, a very normal-seeming suburban mother & wife (played by Jessica Biel), stabs a random man on the beach, to the horror of her family & dozens of onlookers. Pullman plays the detective trying to figure out why she did it - & what's wrong with her. This show is incredible - & also incredibly dark. (Netflix/USA)

The Handmaid's Tale

Speaking of dark, I can only watch one episode of this show at a time because it's so twisted & scary - in a realistic, this-could-happen-someday kind of way. I know a lot of people were really angry about that finale (no spoilers), but I thought it was done right - & was the only way the show could've continued. I can't imagine what'll happen next, but you'd better believe that I'll be glued to my screen when season three begins (even if Elisabeth Moss is a Scientologist...) (Hulu)


When I started this, I thought I was watching a movie; by the time I decided I liked it, I realized I was watching a TV show. A teen on the autism spectrum decides, at his therapist's behest, that he wants to start dating - & so he sets out to find a girlfriend. It's funny & heart-warming while treating autism seriously & with respect. As someone who's husband is on the spectrum, this show really resonates with me - both the serious parts & the funny ones. (Netflix)

Sex and the City

Nope, I've never seen HBO's iconic, Manhattan-based show about four best friends dating in the city. How? Look, I don't know either, it just never really appealed to me. Lately, though, I find myself wanting to be able to better understand this cultural zeitgeist, so I turned to HBO Now to help me out. Season one is almost unbearably cheesy, but I'm told it gets better, so I'm sticking with it. It's time! (HBO)

Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist

We talked about this Netflix docuseries at my book club meeting, & I started watching it the next day. It tells the story of "Pizza Bomber" Brian Wells, a pizza delivery man who robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest & carrying a cane that concealed a working gun. He was caught soon afterward... & as news camera crews filmed, the bomb went off, killing him instantly. Was he acting alone, or was he a hostage? (Netflix)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Uhhh, who among us hasn't watched this one already? Noah Centineo is distressingly adorable (& also 22 years old), but beyond that, this is just such a well-done rom-com. I loved the YA series (it's a trilogy), so I fully expected not to enjoy the film as much - but I was wrong. This is the rare instance in which both are equally delightful. (Netflix)


When I saw billboards for this one, I thought it was a new show. Apparently, it's on season two! It stars Angela Bassett, Jennifer Love Hewitt,  & Connie Britton, among others, as first responders. It's a bit far-fetched - literally, the first episode starts with a premature baby stuck in a sewage pipe - but hey, I watch SVU & Grey's Anatomy & Chicago Med, don't I? I love me a little far-fetched! (Hulu/Fox)

Jack Ryan

This one came as a recommendation from Instagram followers when I put out the call for a new show to watch. I wouldn't have expected myself to enjoy this one - it's based on a Tom Clancy novel & seemed strictly action-packed - but I actually really enjoyed the first season. It reminded me a little but of the first season of Homeland but not nearly as difficult to follow - &, I suppose, not nearly as good, but it was good enough to hold my attention! It just came out on August 31st, so season two is a long ways away. (Amazon Prime)

What are you watching? Send me any & all recs! 
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25 Songs to Raise Your Heart Rate

Monday, September 17, 2018

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Photo by Gavin Whitner, musicoomph.com

I'm gonna be reaaaaal honest with you: I don't listen to a lot of new music. Nearly everything I listen to is Top 40, either now or from the past, or early-2000s emo. When it comes to music to workout to, I never have any idea what to listen to, so it seems like every time I want to try running - which I seemed to have started & restarted, like, a dozen times over - I end up asking Facebook for ideas.

Last time I tried it - this summer, when I was preparing to run the bridges with Harness Cycle - I finally made a playlist.

I've been building on it, adding songs I like from my cycling classes. Of course, riding & running happen at different paces, but it can't hurt to list a bunch of my faves all in one place, right? And it's not like I'm making my own cycling playlists. That's what my instructors are for!
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Hey, Clevelanders: Let's Talk about LGBTQ+ Equality & Protection in Cuyahoga County

Saturday, September 15, 2018

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Photo from LGBTQCleveland, which has lots of great info on this issue.

Hi. In the state of Ohio, you can legally be fired from a job, denied housing, or refused service in a public business because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. And the battle to pass legislation that would change this is getting a little messy. 

This is infuriating. This is not the Cleveland I know or love or stand for or defend - but I know that complaining isn't enough, & posting on social media isn't enough, either.

So if you, like me, are a Cuyahoga County resident who believes in liberty & justice FOR ALL, PLEASE take the time to write to the members of the Cuyahoga County Council urging them to pass. The bill is sponsored by councilmen Brady, Simon, Houser, & Miller - but you can write to all of 'em.
Got questions? Get at me, or check with Equality Ohio or ACLU of Ohio.

Nobody's free until everybody's free.

So stand up. Speak up. Fight for what's right. And help make our city the great place we claim it to be.
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Let's Talk about My Sleep Disorder

Friday, September 14, 2018

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I am 16 years old, & I fall asleep in the shower before school nearly every day. My show choir loads onto a bus for a 15-hour ride from my Ohio hometown to Florida before a cruise to the Bahamas; I sleep the entire way, waking up only at rest stops when prompted.

I am 18 years old & a freshman at Ohio University, a three-hour drive from my home. Every time I make the trip home, I have to stop to take a quick nap in my car, usually in a remote corner of a rest stop or, preferably, in the parking lot of someplace safe, like a church. My "drive" takes a total of four hours, nearly every time.

I am 20 years old & living in a sorority house with the immediate past president, a friend from high school, who wakes up around 6am every day to go for a run; her alarms never wake me up. Her primary complaint about living with me is that I sleep too much. I do.
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Hot Town, Summer in the City: Highlights of Summer 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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Photo by Stephanie DeLacy of Big Hair Creative
Goodbye, sweet summer...

While summer is admittedly not my favorite of the seasons (because, as previously established, I am the world's sweatiest human), I have to admit that this was a pretty good one. I realized I didn't blog about some of the highest points, so - as much for the benefit of my own memory as for your reading enjoyment - I thought I'd round up some of them here as we bid an almost-official farewell to the season.

Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour

By some act of God, my friend Marisa ended up with two free tickets to Taylor Swift's Cleveland show, which were on the floor - like, prettttty good seats. It was the perfect night for a concert, & damn, does TSwift put on a good show. Neither of us knew all of her recent songs, but we still had a great time, & it was really fun to catch up with an old friend just before she moved to the CLE. Free Taylor Swift tickets, can you even imagine?!?

InCuya Music Festival

Cleveland's first music tour was my first, too, & I loved the whole experience. I especially loved Robert Finley, the 63-year-old rocker who didn't start making music until he was 61. We checked out a few of the bands & some of the booze on & off during the two-day festival, & the weather was absolutely perfect for such an event. Looking forward to whatever performances next year has in store! (Read the full post.)

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

I never blogged about the fact that my little cousin, Grace, called me up one morning & asked if I wanted to go to that night's Cavs/Warriors finals game in downtown Cleveland. I will only say that we paid handsomely for the tickets, which turned out to be for seats in the very top row of the arena, & the Cavs lost badly. But now that LeBron is gone (sob), it's one of those things that I'm just very glad we made happen.

Hamilton at Playhouse Square

I bought Hamilton tickets for Mike, my mom, & me, for three celebrations: Mike's & my dating anniversary, Mother's Day, & my birthday. We went at the start of my birthday weekend, & though I hadn't listened to any of the music ahead of time, I was absolutely blown away by the whole experience. For as highly rated as the show is, I feel like it's still somehow underrated. It was just that incredible.


As you all know, because I talked about it incessantly this summer, I completed a 30-activity challenge at my riding studio. It was hard & took a lot of planning on my part (not to mention a lot of riding!) but it felt so worth it in the end. The photo above is with one of my favorite instructors, Spies, right before my final class of the challenge. (Read the full post.)

Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals

Marisa pulls through again with the good tickets! As a partial season ticket holder, she invited me to join her for a game on Labor Day, which one of the hottest days this city has seen all year (hence the flowy maxi dresses me wore instead of, like, denim shirts & baseball tees). We never even made it to our seats because we watched the whole game from one of the covered bar areas at the field. It was way too hot & we are way too pale to have been out in that sun!

Taste of Tremont

In July, one of my best friends, Sammi, came into town for the day with her partner, David. It happened to be the same day as Taste of Tremont, a food festival that takes place on the street where I live. We invited friends over, bought beer that was much cheaper than what was being sold at the event, & just hung out for the day, enjoying the vibrancy of this neighborhood. There was even a little music stage set up right across the street from our house, so we could listen to live jams from the front porch!

Jimmy Eat World concert

The same night as Taste of Tremont, Sammi & I went to House of Blues for a Jimmy Eat World concert, for my... fifth? sixth? time seeing them. One paragraph is certainly not enough space to tell you how much this show meant to me, but Sammi & I have a long, complicated history, starting with the death of my ex-boyfriend, & going to this show with her felt like peak friendship. Did I cry? Yes. Yes, of course I cried.

#InfiniteKusama Exhibit

Renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama came to Cleveland - or her art did, at least - when a huge exhibit went up at the Cleveland Museum of Art in June. Tickets were said to be so difficult to acquire that Mike & I first became members of the art museum to ensure that we'd be able to go. I was completely enamored of & in love with literally every single part of it. (Read the full post.)

Geneva, N.Y.

In early July, we traveled to the Finger Lakes for our friends Sam & Ryan's wedding at a castle. Mike turned out to be fairly disappointed in the castle itself ("It's a building with a turret!"), but the wedding itself was great - & the castle still had a wine spigot in the lobby, soooo. I also loved the views from the nearby lake. So beautiful & so close to home! (Read the full post.)

Two trips to Pennsylvania

In June, Mike & I went to my family's cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania; in August, my mom & I did the same. The first one was fun & drunken; the second one was relaxing & laid-back. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to take these annual - & sometimes biannual - getaways into the middle of nowhere with friends & family, & I love showing Mike this place that reminds me so much of my dad & my childhood. (Read the full post.)

In all, a great summer, with lots not covered here. What was the best part of your summer?
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