A Thank-You to the Good Guys: How "The Bachelor" Got Me Thinking about College

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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You know by now that I'm a big fan of The Bachelor franchise of shows, & this week's episode did something the shows have never really done before: address sexual assault. One of the contestants, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, got emotional as she told the bachelor, Colton Underwood, about her rape. I was glad to see the show give Caelynn's story the time & seriousness is deserved, & like everyone else watching, I was absolutely devastated by her story.

It's a story that is horrifying, heartbreaking, & all too familiar: Caelynn & her friends we drugged & assaulted at a fraternity house, where she was raped on a couch while onlookers cheered for her abuser.

As I listened to Caelynn's story, I cried - not just for her & her friends but for the fact that this happens, period, to women the world over. And that it happens so often that it is no longer surprising, despite the fact that it is never any less horrifying.

In fact, it's become so unsurprising that I found myself thinking back with surprise about the fact that I was not sexually assaulted in college.

As a sorority girl at Ohio University, nearly all of my male friends were fraternity brothers. My sorority sisters & I spent tons of time at one fraternity house in particular, where one of the brothers was my friend's longtime boyfriend from high school. Soon, we were friends with nearly all of the brothers, & we went to lots of parties there, plus lots of just-hanging-out nights, both at the fraternity house & at the off-campus houses where some of the guys lived.

They were our friends - & they were also our protectors. When we got drunk or passed out or didn't totally remember the evening (note: I do not drink like this anymore), they let us sleep on couches or they slept on couches or kicked creepy dudes out of parties or walked us home. They took care of us - without taking advantage of us.

I remember one time, in particular, when a sketchy guy from one of my classes showed up at a party at the fraternity house, uninvited; he'd heard me tell someone else I'd be there. When I mentioned it to one of my sisters, she told one of the brothers, who very quickly asked the guy to leave - even though he barely knew me. He was polite but firm, just a, "Bro, you need to leave," kind of thing. And just like that, everything was OK again.

There was another time, when my little sister got too drunk at the frat house (ah, Greek life), & I knew I needed to get her home. I couldn't manage her myself & couldn't get a hold of our designated "sober sister," so the guys tracked down their sober brother, who picked up my little, buckled her into his car, & drove us both home. He helped me get her into her dorm room, then left - nothing but helpful & kind.

But every time I read or hear a story about college experiences like Caelynn's, I think: My friends & I were so lucky - but it so easily could've gone another way. And for so many women, it does.

I just keep asking myself: How did we know so many good men when so many are so not? I feel so thankful that they were good men, who took care of us rather than hurt us - but it turns my stomach to know that so many women haven't had that college experience. And how backwards is it that I feel surprised to have had such supportive, kind male friends? That should be the norm - but we all know it's not.

It's been nearly 15 years since my time at OU, & I don't know most of those guys anymore, even on Facebook - but I still think about them a lot. In an era of #metoo & #timesup, I wish I could thank them for the way they treated us, & especially for the way they didn't treat us. Because of them, I got to grow up trusting men - & that's a right that so many women are simply not afforded.

Good men, rise up - & please know that your goodness is not going unnoticed. Thank you.

If you are struggling in the aftermath of a sexual assault, please know that you are not alone. Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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My Last-Minute Luxury Vacation in Miami, FL

Monday, January 28, 2019

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I am not a fancy-vacation kinda gal.

Sure, Mike & I stayed in a luxury hotel while we were on our honeymoon in Costa Rica - but we were on our honeymoon! Aside from that, I usually go the AirBnB route, or the timeshare route, or the Marriott-level-hotel route, or even the crashing-with-a-friend route. I love to travel, but I'm pretty chill about my travel needs.

But when my friend Rebecca asked me if I'd join her in Miami Beach, FL, for a few days following her dad's death, of course I said yes. She takes a solo trip every year, but this year, she didn't feel like being alone - so I booked flights, requested a few days off work, & off to Miami I went.

Rebecca & I met in 2007, when we were both fellows in a legislative assistant program for recent college grads. (That's also the year I started this blog - & she made many an early appearance!) We shared an office space & became fast friends, despite our many differences. 

Becca is now a restructuring lawyer in Manhattan, where she's from, while I still work for the organization that first hired us all those years ago - but here in Cleveland, of course. She was one of my bridesmaids & is one of my very best friends; I'll take any opportunity to spend time with her.

Rebecca booked us a room at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, where she found a great deal on an extremely large room - like, far larger than her Brooklyn apartment. And man, was everything glitzy. It was like Ivana Trump's personality, all played out in a hotel lobby. Check all those mirrors!

Let's be honest: The St. Regis Bal Harbour was not as great as it could've been. It was overly technology-ridden, but with technology that didn't always work (lookin' at you, wacky bathroom lights that we never figured out how to turn off). The service was good but not great, especially not given the cost of staying at the hotel.

And the food costs were outrageous: Our first meal there, at the pool bar, cost me $85 for a calamari appetizer, a small vegetarian salad, & a single cocktail. It was decent food, but not $85 decent.

Good thing the view were as gorgeous as they were! Our room had a large, shaded balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We didn't spend as much time out there as we might've liked, in part because it was a bit chilly in the shade. Still, it was nice to hang there for a bit, to catch up, to relax, & to catch our final views of the ocean on our last day, before we left.

During our stay, we had private beach access with beach chairs & service (though the service was not always present), just a few short steps outside of our hotel. We both brought Kindles, earbuds, magazines, & books to keep us busy - & by "busy," I mean "totally relaxed." We ordered skinny cocktails (a margarita for her, a caipiroska for me) & chips & guacamole to be delivered to us at our beach chairs, & let me tell you: Nothing is more glorious than that kind of service!

We never did hit up the pool. Because the weather was so inconsistent, we chose to spend our time at the beach & just suck it up, bundling up as needed. If you're going to be near the beach, be at the beach, right?! Truth be told, I like the beach far better in less-than-hot weather. It's far less sweaty!

The weather was great on our first day there but slightly chillier on our second. As the sun moved behind the clouds on day two, we noticed that we were the only people left on the beach who weren't Orthodox Jews - but we realized that, frankly, if you have to dress that modestly at the beach (arms & legs covered, wearing long skirts), then chillier-than-usual weather is probably the best time to be there! As for us? We slid into workout pants & cardigans to keep us warm & stayed out until we couldn't take it anymore.

And yes, I got sunburned even on that very overcast day.

So what did we do while there? Honestly, not much. We spent a few hours at the beach each day. We found a Starbucks within walking distance & had a social justice conversation over lattes. We walked the footpath near the beach, which passes various rental properties - commercial & residential - & where you can spot a lot of cute dogs out for their daily walk.

We also left our hotel a few times to check out other hotels Rebecca had stayed at & liked in years past, including dinner at the Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour & lunch at the Four Seasons Surfside. We had delicious meals at both - for less than we spent at that pool bar! The Four Seasons was especially lovely, with a much more understated vibe - & some seriously delicious food.

Two night, we went out for with Rebecca's law school friends who live in the area. Both times, we took long Lyft rides to get to them, but the meals & the company (not to mention the weather) were very much worth it. No photos, but one night we ate at Yardbird, where Becca & I split the chicken & waffles: Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle topped with three pieces of fried chicken, honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, & bourbon maple syrup. Damn.

I always get so nervous about meeting friends of friends - but I almost always turn out to love them. I'm pretty extroverted, so it's usually easy for me to chat with new people - & really, what's the likelihood that you won't like the people your best friends love?!

We barely remembered to take any photos of ourselves or one another until the last day of the trip, when we grabbed free coffees & a light breakfast together at the hotel cafe (where the food was less expensive & much tastier than at the pool bar where we had our earlier $85 meal).

I didn't dig into any of the flavored croissants you see below, but aren't they gorgeous?! And that watermelon juice was to die for.

In all, it was a really lovely time spent with one of my favorite people in the world - one of those trips where, like I said, we didn't actually do much, but the people you can do that with are the best kind of people. We spent a lot of time walking, talking, resting, relaxing, &, of course, eating (& clearing out our wallets in the process); I hope it was as rejuvenating for Rebecca as it was for me, given that she needed it so much more than I did.

I'd been worried about taking the time off work, especially because I'd just taken some time off for the holidays, followed by a couple sick days for a bout of the stomach flu. It was one of those times when I thought, "Should I really be doing this?" but ultimately, I decided I didn't want to leave a loved one hanging, even if it meant taking a hit at work. Luckily, my boss was very cool about it, & it was totally worth it.

Life's short, friends. When you can, live it up - & try to do it with the people you love most, in the places with the most sun.

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The Most Instagrammable Wallpapers in Cleveland

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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It's Instagram's world, & we're all just livin' in it... & documenting everything for it, of course. In the last couple years, there's been much talk of Cleveland's most Instagrammable spots, including plenty of great murals & multiple script Cleveland signs. (Mike & I got engaged in front of one those!)

An underrated favorite, though? Great wallpaper  - & a few local spots are killin' it when it comes to the cool-wallpaper game. These aren't your grandma's stodgy, flowered, vintage walls! I thought it'd be fun to gather a few of the best in town to share with you here, in case you've yet to discover these artsy wall gems.


The entirety of Brewnuts' business is quirky & wonderful, from their unorthodox donut flavors  to their eccentric decor - but just about every Instagrammer knows that the wallpaper in their bathroom really takes the cake donut. In fact, all I wanted for my 34th birthday was to get a donut & frosé from Brewnuts - & to take a photo in their bathroom. That's how great this flamingo wallpaper is. (6501 Detroit Rd.)

The Plum

When it's warm outside & the sun is shining in through that glass facade at The Plum, the wallpaper that decorates their front-of-house is just about the most cheerful indoor backdrop you've ever seen. This awkward photo of me is not my favorite picture of myself, but the flowered yellow wallpaper is so excellent that who even cares how I look? (4133 Lorain Ave.)

Visible Voice Books

Though not as colorful as the others listed here, the gray-scale cityscape wallpaper in Tremont's bookstore/coffee shop combo is seriously underrated, in my humble opinion. Here I am in one of my classiest outfits - defying Trump, promoting Cleveland, & lovin' on this urban-themed wallpaper... in yet another local bathroom. (2258 Professor Ave.)

Limelight Coworking

If you want a wallpaper twofer, Limelight is the spot: Each of their single-stall bathrooms is papered differently, & both designs are truly wonderful. The first is the monkeys-in-palm-leaves wallpaper you see in the photo at the top of this post - monkey wallpaper, guys! - & the second is the one below, in a pink & blue patterns of large, thistle-like objects. Those... are probably thistles, right? Whatever. They're cool - & importantly for our purposes, the lighting is good enough for photos.

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Spin Wins: My Little Victories Off the Bike

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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Photo by Tall Hair Creative

Before my sleep test, I had to fill out paperwork that asked me for my current weight, as well as for my "peak lifetime weight." The numbers were the same.

Let me tell you, it didn't feel good to write out that number twice. I was embarrassed & ashamed. I wondered what my doctor would think of me. And then I got to the next question, which asked me if I exercise, & if so, how often.

For a very, very long time time - like, 33 years long - I didn't exercise at all. Sure, I'd go on a yoga kick or do a few sessions with a personal trainer or periodically try to complete Couch to 5k. But I hadn't worked out consistently - not ever.
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OK, 2019, This Had Better Be a Dress Rehearsal

Monday, January 14, 2019

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This year is going kind of weirdly. We're halfway through the first month of the year, & already a handful of strange & less-than-ideal things have happened.

I got a vaccine that did not make me feel great.

My pneumonia vaccine was incredibly painful, & the site location was debilitatingly sore for nearly a week. It also gave me a fever for a few days, so I was pretty out of it. I've never had negative reactions like that to a vaccine, so I was really caught off-guard.

A pipe burst in our basement.

There's nothing quite as panic-inducing as hearing the sound of a waterfall... in your own home. I woke up one morning to Mike yelling that a pipe had blown & was starting to flood the basement. Fortunately, the maintenance guy came out within the hour to fix it, but what a day!

I got the stomach flu.

I woke up the first Sunday of the year & threw up. I originally thought I had food poisoning, but food poisoning shouldn't last 48+ hours! I didn't eat anything for a full two & a half days, nor did I really leave bed. Apparently it's going around, but I was so relieved when my turn ended.

I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder.

If you've read my earlier post about my new diagnosis, you know that I'm actually kind of happy about this one, not upset about it - but I mean, it's still a lot to take in, so I'd sure count it under that "going kind of weirdly" umbrella.

I was a victim of credit card fraud.

On Friday night, I checked my bank balance to make sure I was doing OK, then I headed to the grocery store - where my card was promptly declined for insufficient funds. In the 30 minutes between those events, someone used my debit card to make a huge, fraudulent Nike purchase! I paid by credit card & had to shut everything down with my bank.

Perhaps the worst thing, though, is that my best friend's dad passed away after a short illness. They're not doing a funeral; instead, they're holding two memorial services in different states, next month or later. She booked herself a few days in Florida to decompress, try to deal, & maybe do some planning - & she asked me to join her.

So that's where I am right now, as you read this: in Fort Lauderdale with my best friend, getting rid of some of the bad juju from the first two weeks of the year & trying to look forward. Together.

Let's start to pick it up 2019, shall we?
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Today is the Day I Wake Up

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Yesterday was my follow-up appointment with my neurologist following the 24-hour sleep study I did last month. I'd been so worried about it - worried I didn't "pass," that my brain waves, or whatever it is that they study, wouldn't show what I have been struggling with for so long. I worried that nothing would change. I worried that I'd leave just the same as I'd entered.

"It's very clear-cut to me, based on these results," my neurologist told me. "I have no doubt about it. You have what we call idiopathic hypersomnia."

I have what he thought I had, but now it's official - now my brain waves say so, on paper, for sure.
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7 Movies I Watched Over "Winter Break" - All Based on Books

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

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I'm not much of a movie-watcher, to be honest, but when I have the time & inclination, I can tear through a few - which is what I did during the holidays, when I took a full week off of work & just relaxed & slept &, OK, freelanced a little bit. I later realized that all the movies I'd chosen were adaptation of books, which seems very on-brand for me!

Love, Simon

I was skeptical of this film, given how much I loved the book, but in a rare turn, I think I loved them both equally. The movie was so good, so charming, so heart-warming, with the actor who plays Simon really bringing him to life - & I was surprised to love Jennifer Garner & Josh Duhamel as Simon's supportive but occasionally misguided parents.

Crazy Rich Asians

This was an audiobook I didn't finish, not because I didn't like it but because it was returned to the library before I had the chance to finish it - so I was excited to watch the film version, which I'd heard great things about. Indeed, the movie is opulent, beautiful, luxurious - & with really great acting from the cast. How great is it to see an all-Asian cast rocking the box office?!

Ready Player One

I'd heard terrible things about the film adaptation of Ernest Cline's now-classic book, but I actually really enjoyed it. Sure, the movie has changed plenty of plotlines, but given the level of CGI it required, I'm not surprised that they had to make some cuts - & frankly, I liked the film. It was probably difficult to follow for folks who haven't read the book (much like the third Harry Potter movie...), but hey - I read the book, so it worked for me!

A Simple Favor

This book is on my to-read list, but now that I've watched the film, I may not bother - not because I didn't like the film (I did!), but because the twist is blown, which might not make for as enjoyable a read. Starring Blake Lively as a high-powered businesswoman/mother who disappears without a trace, & Anna Kendrick as her neurotic vlogger best friend, it's both suspenseful and campy, one of my favorite combos.


Ohh, this book was so lovely & so well-done & so insightful & sweet - & the movie was more of the same, although the actor who plays Augie didn't have nearly the extent of facial deformities that his character in the book did. I suppose that's understandable, but it did make the film a little bit less realistic than the book. Oh, & I loved both Daveed Diggs as Augie's schoolteacher Mandy Patinkin as the principal, Mr. Tushman, a.k.a. Mr. Tuchus - great little Jewish joke there.


This was another book I really enjoyed, & the movie was no exception to its adorableness. Danielle Macdonald plays Willowdean, the happy but overweight daughter of the organizer of the local beauty pageant. When she & a few not-standard-pageant-queen-material friends decide to join the competition - just to mess it up & thus mess with her mother - Willowdean never expects the camaraderie & confidence she finds instead.

Bird Box

Hey, guys, what the actual fuck is this movie? This was so terrifying that I screamed out loud, like, seven times - & then, at the end of it, I wept. Suddenly, the world has gone crazy, with unexplained forces urging nearly everyone to commit suicide in the most horrifyingly brutal of ways. A pregnant Mallory falls in with a group of fellow survivors, interspersed with scenes of her & her two kids blindfolded on a canoe as they try to escape - to what? Holy crap, this movie.

What have you watched lately & enjoyed? Anything I ought to add to my list? 

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The 5 Worst Books I Read in 2018

Monday, January 7, 2019

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Photo by Tall Hair Creative

This post feels a little bit mean, but I suppose it's no meaner than sharing one-star reviews on Instagram, right? Like, this is how book reviews work. I'm just putting all of last year's one-star reviews in one place - my little attempt to keep you, my friends, from reading books that felt like a mistake of my reading time.

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6 Small Goals for January

Friday, January 4, 2019

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With all these end-of-2018/beginning-of-2019 posts, I can't help but feel like I've been writing about goals for the last two weeks or so. And yet, yearly goals aren't the same as monthly goals, so here I am setting monthly intentions again - & revisiting 2018 one final time.
  1. Get an oil change. It was so beyond time for this one. Thanks to Take 5 in Lakewood for making it easy to check this one off the list. I didn't even have to get out of my car! 
  2. Starting using the Calm app. I didn't start using the Calm app, but I'm marking this as done because I did spend some time checking it out & just... didn't love the interface. Instead, I started using the Gratitude Journal app, which serves a different purpose but which I'm still finding very fulfilling. I may try Calm again in the future.
  3. Complete my sleep study. This is done - AND I just got the great news that my health insurance covered all of it. Every single penny! I have a follow-up appointment with my neurologist this month to go over the results & figure out what's next. 
  4. Get (or at least schedule) a haircut. Done! Thanks to Jeanan at Stella & Shay Beauty Bar in Lakewood for a solid chop.  
  5. Search for a new therapist. Fine, fine, this was arguably the most important goal of the month, but I didn't complete it. I sort of started the process but didn't make it anywhere. I did get a recommendation from a friend, though! 
  6. Successfully host Christmas dinner. Our Christmas holiday was so, so lovely - even if our apartment was a little bit too small for all 10 of us. We joked that no one else in the family can ever bring home a new significant other! But really: such a nice day, so much food.
Five out of six isn't a bad way to end the year! I don't usually do this, but I'm adding the incomplete goal to my January list because it's so important. 
  1. Search for a new therapist. Gotta do this one. Really.
  2. Color my hair. I may go back to Jeanan, or I may do it myself - but either way, I'm tired of experiment in growing out my grays! 
  3. Clean out my car. I swear to God I am going to do this. Do you hear me? I'm going to do this... someday. Hopefully in January. 
  4. Hit 92 Harness rides. This is an "at least" goal, as I'd of course be happy to hit more. I completed 12 rides in December, & I'm well on my way to 100, which I hope to hit in mid-February - & which I can only do if I hit this goal first. 
  5. Help my mom get rid of stuff. I'm staying at my mom's place for a weekend later this month while she's out of town. I'll be watching her dogs & want to help her downsize so that she can eventually move into a smaller place. She's lived in the same house for 32 years! 
  6. Cook once a week. OK, this feels kind of lame, I know, but I do basically zero cooking. Mike does it all, or we eat out (or, most frequently, I get healthy takeaway from nearby Boaz Cafe). 
Annnnd there you have it: my small goals for January to start out 2019. What are your goals for the beginning of the year? Or, hell, for the whole year? Is there any way I can help you achieve them? Let me know!
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Cleveland's Cat Cafe Opens Today!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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It's here, it's here! As of today, AffoGATO Cat Cafe is officially open in Tremont. Whether you're looking to adopt a kitty or just want to grab a coffee & get in a little cat therapy, Cleveland's first cat cafe is up & running & open to you. 

I was thrilled to be invited to stop by for a pre-opening visit the day the Cleveland Animal Protective League delivered the first of the adoptable kitties to their new temporary home. Here are a few shots from the sneak peek that left me so freaky happy & well-cuddled. 

AffoGATO is located at 761 Starkweather Ave. in Tremont, at the corner of Starkweather & Professor, in the former home of Lilly Handmade Chocolates (which you can now visit in Old Brooklyn!) 

Right now, six kitties live at AffoGATO while they wait to be adopted into their furever homes, with more to come. They will have about a dozen cats in the house at any given time (except, of course, when some of these cuties get adopted out!) If you're in the market for a new fluffy friend, you can learn about all their adoptable kitties on their website before going to visit

I hit it off with Damien, the handsome guy you see above, who was very happy to get in some head butts. I even went home & tried to convince Mike that we should adopt a third kitty (this one, specifically), though I don't think he's going to budge on this one. Still, I'll be back to visit Damien & his furry friends while they wait for their new families to find them.

Most folks, of course, want to adopt pets that are friendly & personable - animals that do well with people & maybe even with other pets. Having all these adoptable kitties in one place, roaming free & engaging with customers & with one another, helps acclimate them - which means that, hopefully, by the time they're adopted out, they're friendly & comfortable & maybe even a little outgoing.

I, for one, am more than happy to oblige when it comes to acclimating cats to humans. Let me pet youuuuu! (But also, I respect your personal space & autonomy.)

AffoGATO Cate Cafe has a chic, cozy vibe that makes it feel like a well-designed home, focused on some seriously adorable, kitty-centric details. Unlike a home, though, it offers lots of intentionally designed opportunities for its resident cats to explore, nap, hide, & play.

And oh, yeah, don't forget about the cafe part! Of course, it wasn't yet open when I visited, so I can't yet report out on the coffee, but the space itself is cute, quiet, small but with a little bit of seating if you want to do some work, read the newspaper, or catch up with a friend.

So how does it all work? The cafe is open to the public & free to enter, with regular coffee shop prices for a variety of beverages & treats. There are no kitties on this side, though a glass wall looks into the cat room. To visit the cat side, you need to make a reservation, which costs anywhere from $8-$12. Only 15 people are allowed in the lounge at a time - you know, so the kitties don't get overwhelmed or stressed.

Learn more about AffoGATO Cat Cafe & check out their site to make your reservation to go pet cats. I, for one, will be allotting a small "cat therapy budget" each month so that I can go visit all these sweet kitties & make them feel as loved as possible before they find their new homes.

That's all for meow! See you at AffoGATO.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I reach out to the owners of AffoGATO Cat Cafe when they were in the planning stages, & because I live so close, they invited me to come visit before the cafe officially opened! 
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