I still remember my first trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
It was eighth grade, and that incredible building in Eden Park gave me the sense I had been transported to Europe.
To this day I go to the C.A.M. to edify my spirit. Sometimes I seek out a specific exhibit or event, but in many cases I go because I feel a pull to be there. When it's been too long, it's as if my body almost aches to be in that environment.
I go through the galleries and make sure my favorite pieces are still where I left them. I visit them as though they were old friends with whom I need to reconnect.
I've been fortunate to visit museums around the world, and each is a treasure in its own right. But only the C.A.M. gives me the feeling that I have come home, to a place where I belong.
I am not an artist, per se. I can't draw or paint. But I feel art in my soul. For me, it manifests itself in singing, writing, cooking, maybe even in the way I arrange my house or in the jewelry I choose to wear.
And now I have a new opportunity before me, a concrete way in which to make art part of my life. Having completed a month of Boardway Bound training through the Fine Arts Fund, I'll be submitting a profile and an application for local non-profit arts organizations to view.
Where will I land? What is the right direction for me? Will any organization select me to join its board and help guide its future? Am I meant to be a board member or a volunteer?
As with seemingly everything in my life right now, there are dozens of questions.
The one thing I do know is I need art in my life. I have it inside me, and I need the ability -- the chance -- to show it and to share it.
I think that might be one gift God gave me, and I can only hope He will help me put it to productive use.
I keep feeling like I need to be someone else. I don't know who, but I know the current me isn't working. At all.
I keep thinking if I could just go to California and start over, it would get better. I'd be with my cousins and my aunt and uncle. I could see palm trees and the ocean, and I could smell the eucalyptus that immediately takes me back to my childhood, when my heart rate would rise upon landing at Burbank with Mom. The cabin door would open, we'd descend the steps, and I'd know I was someplace special.
Southern California always makes things seem possible to me. It is one of the places where I feel the happiest. I don't know if that comes from my childhood visits or my love of all things Aaron Spelling -- probably it's both -- but when I haven't been there for a few months, I start to feel almost lonely, as if a part of me is missing and needs to be restored.
Now more than ever I feel the need to be there.
I have spent the past six months thinking of ways to re-invent my life, and I've come up empty. A new job is proving not to be an option. Even a new job within my old job isn't fixing what has broken inside me.
The truth is, though, I missed my California dream. Had I left for USC in the fall of 1993, I'd be a different girl now. A better one? A happier one? That, I cannot say.
All I know is that here in the spring of 2010, I have a husband and a mortgage, and a cross-country move just isn't part of my reality.
And so I keep on keeping on, even though I cannot see how this current pace will be sustainable over the long haul. I know I need things to change. I actually think I need everything to change. But when those changes aren't an option, where does that leave a person?
For now at least, it leaves me not goin' to California, with an achin' in my heart.
The Great April Experiment continues, with me living in Upside-Down Land, doing new things every day, feeling absolutely exhausted yet being occasionally surprised that my brain is capable of functioning in ways I knew not.
Today, for instance, I rose at 6 to drive to Newport and judge entries for the AMA Marketer of the Year. At first, I was worried I would get it "wrong." Would I know what I was doing? Then it hit me: I'm a consumer. So if someone's marketing isn't working on me, then, well, it probably isn't working at all.
This afternoon I attended a workshop on the tools Enquirer Media sales reps use to sell ads and track their customers. It was equal parts intriguing and terrifying -- there's a bit of a "1984" element to the oversight involved -- but I absolutely came away with new respect for how hard those reps are working every day.
And right before signing on here, I was chatting up a photographer about possibilities for addressing Cincinnati's proliferation of gun violence. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I never before had participated in such a conversation.
Last night at Boardway Bound, I learned about financial procedures and policies for non-profit arts organizations and got a primer on how The Carnegie in Covington was turned around in the past 16 months. In all honesty, I don't think I was aware of The Carnegie 16 months ago.
So, the good news is, my brain still works. Perhaps selectively, at times, but its capacity for learning is still there -- and yearning to be free.
The question now is: What do I do with it? And how does one know when newness is better, and not just different?
While you ponder that, I'm going to solve all of Cincinnati's gun problems. Or die trying.
The countdown to the Indianapolis half-marathon is now less than a month.
The countdown to the Chicago Marathon is less than six months.
And a certain someone just got a new pair of purple Air Pegasus.
I'm thinking now of all the steps those shoes are going to take. I'm also thinking how much I love that I now have purple running shoes.
I adore anything purple. And the idea of pairing these shoes with my UK socks -- the official socks of any and all race days -- is so delightful, I'm just about ready to run Chicago right now.
It's important to note here that I am cheap. I mean, CHEAP. I don't spend money lightly. It just about made my brain implode to pay $135 to register for Chicago. And then to spend $95 on shoes! I'm the girl who shops at Shoe Carnival, for crying out loud. I get my hair "done" at Great Clips.
But these kicks are special. They're purple.
Like grapes and Professor Plum and pansies and my first 10-speed bike. (Thanks, Mom!)
They're purple like Northwestern's football pants, making them all the more perfect for the Chicago Marathon.
They're purple like the Pie Man who was always menacing Strawberry Shortcake (& Friends), and like the Corvette my bevy of Barbies shared.
They're purple like my sophomore year Homecoming dress and its corresponding dyed shoes. Like the amethyst stud earrings I wear every day, and like the East Carolina T-shirt I slept in for something like 15 years.
They're purple like eggplant, which is stunningly beautiful yet not so terribly tasty when you get right down to it.
My new shoes are purple, by God. They're gorgeous. And they'll help make me strong.
And after we cross the finish line in Chicago, maybe we'll take the El to Evanston.
On the Purple Line, of course.
What if you can't take it back?
What if you say something so horrible, you simply never can make up for it?
And what if you say that thing to God?
What if you ask him why he has given up on you? What if you accuse him of never loving you, or punishing you for reasons you don't understand?
What if you pray daily for help? What if you ask to have your burden, your illness, removed, and it doesn't happen? What if you look at your life, hate the mess you've made of it, question why you were created, wonder if you have any reason to keep going?
And what if you know all of this is a sin, that millions of other people have it worse than you, yet you can't help your feelings of loss and anger?
What if you so deeply feel abandoned that you start to wonder whether your "faith" ever actually existed or if it's just rhetoric you spout because it's the "right thing to do"?
Can you take it back? Can you be forgiven, and if so, at what price does your redemption come?
It probably costs more than saying 10 Hail Marys and 10 Our Fathers.
About 90 percent of everything I did this past week was new.
On Tuesday, I began a three-month stint as an assistant metro editor, working day shifts and commuting to downtown like a "normal" person. Traffic! Parking! Alarm going off at 6:45!
All of these are things that are perfectly routine to most people, but they represented a huge lifestyle change for me.
I'm amazed at the physical adjustment and how difficult it has been. I feel very tired, and it's been a challenge to fall asleep, to run or work out after work, and to stick to my nutrition plan, eating at different times of day.
It also has been a bit of a challenge to get used to my new assignment. I work with entirely different people, so I need to learn the personalities in addition to the workflow and the responsibilities. Essentially, I'm changing jobs without changing companies. And in truth, I'd forgotten how hard it is to be The New Guy.
I am a competent, capable, hard-working person, so I feel very vulnerable right now, which also has proved to be rather energy-sapping.
Outside of work, I attended my first Boardway Bound training session at the Fine Arts Fund. My hope is to turn that program into a chance to build some meaningful relationships and begin volunteering in the arts community.
And this morning, I rose at 5:30 to run with some new friends in a training session at Lunken -- 13.1 miles! That's a new way to spend Saturday morning!
I'm trying to embrace all this change. I have not been loving my life for a while. (And by "a while," I mean about two years.) But new things are terrifying to a planner like me. There is much room to fail and make mistakes and disappoint.
I don't want to throw my life into total upheaval just for the sake of making a move and calling it progress. But I also know that I can't stick with the status quo, because it just has not been working.
So I have a lot of adjusting to do and countless questions to answer. In the meantime, all I can do is pray for some guidance toward the right path.
And maybe for lighter morning traffic through the Cut in the Hill.
Mario Lopez. The name has five syllables. That means one thing.
Oh, see how his dimples gleam!
He is so pretty.
Host of ABDC 5;
Always steals the show.
Played role of Greg Louganis;
Scored a perfect 10.
Don't call him A.C. Slater;
He is his own man.
Smiling and smug -- and why not?
He has abs of steel.
In the span of 72 hours, someone stole my copy of "Appetite for Destruction" and Duke won the national title.
OK. All right. Life ain't fair. That's fine. We all know this.
The bigger issue here is that LOGO opted for a "RuPaul's Drag Race" marathon this evening instead of showing my beloved re-runs of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Unacceptable!
I have no issues with RuPaul or his aspiring queens. But this is Buffy we're talking about. And after today's run -- a 14-miler that turned into an 8-miler followed by a 4-miler in unseasonable heat -- I needed my BTVS (even if it is the relatively weak Season 4).
It's comfort food for the brain.
Because I didn't get my dose of Buffy, I will just have to amuse myself with my unimpeachable list of the top six BTVS episodes.
No. 6: Buffy vs. Dracula, Season 5
A hilarious way to start the season before it got bogged down by Dawn. Xander shines under Dracula's thrall, and Buffy kicks ass in some sweet pink leather pants.
No. 5: Hush, Season 4
Just incredibly clever. Half the show, none of the characters can speak, yet the storytelling never lags, and Joss Whedon somehow uses a semi-silent episode to set up two key plot points for the rest of the season. Oh, and The Gentlemen might be the most creepy of all Buffy villains.
No. 4: The Body, Season 5
"Mom. Mom? Mommy?" Simply heartbreaking.
No. 3: Once More, with Feeling, Season 6
A musical?! This could have been a gimmick, but every single thing in this episode works, including the revelation that Buffy wishes she had stayed dead.
No. 2: Becoming, Part II, Season 2
Her friend is murdered; her mom rejects her; she gets kicked out of school. And just to top things off, Buffy has to kill the love of her life. An episode so gut-wrenching, even the Mutant Enemy tells us he needs a hug.
No. 1: The Prom, Season 3
OK, this isn't really the best Buffy episode ever. But I'm a girl, dammit. And the idea of going to your prom in maybe the most incredible dress ever, being honored by your classmates and then having David Boreanaz show up in a tux to dance with you to The Sundays' "Wild Horses" ... well, that's pretty much just perfect.
Good Friday is the perfect day to reflect on blessings, big and small.
Of course we should do that every day, and I sincerely try to, but the reality is that the daily grind too often lends itself to dwelling on the negative.
So today I'm grateful for an untied shoestring. That shoestring caused 2-year-old Bella to trip -- and kept her from running into the path of a speeding car. Bella had let go of her grandmother's hand and, in true toddler fashion, was flying off in the blink of an eye. But God's eyes saw her.
God's eyes saw me before there was anything to see. My father was not meant to be in my life, but my grandfather sure was. And so although I didn't have a "dad," per se, I have had a Dad all my life. His name is Popaw, a moniker developed by a crawling baby Me, as I sped down the hallway to get to my grandfather, chattering "Aw-paw, Aw-paw, Aw-paw" as I went. It's pretty obvious to me that God put my first word in my mouth.
I also believe that God was there, some 20 years ago, in the dissolution of a marriage. Though I know the divorce was painful, without it I never would have met my best friend, Angie. When her parents split, Angie, her sisters and her mom moved to Northern Kentucky, where Angie and I met in eighth grade, both of us "new kids" coming from Catholic schools. That was 1988. She is my best friend to this day. Had her parents stayed together, Angie and I would be strangers. Did God break up a union to put Angie and me together? I don't think of it exactly that way. But out of something dark, He created light.
I don't always remember that, but I'm trying, because the pieces really do start to fit when you look for it to happen. You start to see coincidences, little moments, observations you wouldn't have noticed before, but suddenly -- aha!
So today and this weekend, I hope we all resolve to look for the light. And maybe more important, I hope we all resolve to help each other look for the light, even when it's the hardest thing to do.
No, especially when it's the hardest thing to do.
Welcome to my brain! You're likely to find posts about sports, travel, food, wine, media, TV and music. Should be something for just about everyone!