Thursday, May 27, 2010

Workin' Out



I can't help it but every day that I go to the YMCA to work out, I think of the Village People. I even start to sing a little to myself..."Workin' out at the Y M C A."

Thankfully though, I have restrained myself enough to not do the hand motions to go along with my mumblings.

The Y downtown is great, mainly because there is no pool, which equates to no rug rats. I have yet to see any little ones screeching like howler monkeys. I was afraid it was going to be one of those chatty gyms with more posing than getting in and out. 

Again, it is fantastic with everyone keeping to themselves, earphones planted snuggly in ears.

Now if I can only figure out how to run on the treadmill...

Monday, May 24, 2010

My First Job





When I turned 16 my dad started asking me about getting a job. I put him off for as long as I could but the man was persistent. I wracked my brain trying to figure out where to work. I didn't want to work in my hometown, because, someone might see me. I didn't want to work at the mall, because I thought it might ruin it for me. Then it hit me.  Marc's.

If you are from Northeast Ohio, you know Marc's very well. I always liked to refer to it as the greatest garage sale on Earth.

I proudly got my first job at the Marc's in Middleburg Heights. In fact, Marc's mom was my boss.  I always loved the store and it seemed like all the cool kids worked there. And you could get cookies in a box in Korean.

Dad was not happy. I think he thought I was going to get a job around the corner at Convenient or maybe Drug Mart, not 30 minutes away. But I didn't care. Working at Marc's was a blast. Even though I had to wear white pants and a navy blue polyester smock. White pants.

I loved the people that I worked with. The day shift was filled with grumpy old ladies and the night shift was full of rowdy high school kids.  My first manager was a rocker chick taking day classes at Tri-C. She had big hair and wore Z Cavariccis every day.

I miss the days of loving everyone you work with, and even if you didn't love them, it didn't matter because your shift was over in an hour.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Social Media Mooch and More




 Social media is something I am still new at. Because I am looking at a few life changes, including moving out of Indiana and back to Cleveland, I have chosen to keep my Internet life somewhat private.  I say somewhat because I don't think you can ever be completely anonymous on the web. At least not if you want to interact with people.

I started a blog on LiveJournal and then I *tried* Facebook. My Facebook account lasted all of about a week. With updates as stirring as "pouring another glass of milk for Joe" and the constant flinging of sheep, I knew it was time to move on.
I moved on to Twitter.

On Twitter, you can follow people with similar likes and dislikes as well as your favorite restaurants, phone companies, television writers, famous people and someone else's dad.  All, under a happily anonymous moniker. The micro blogging site forces people to get to the point in 140 characters or less.

Then something really interesting happened. People started giving things away. My friend won a weekend in Vegas courtesy of Caesar's Palace. Through "retweeting," which is repeating the tweet of someone else and posting to your followers, I have won everything from Chicago Cubs tickets to Kathy Griffin tickets to Cleveland Gladiators tickets. I have received special discounts on meals or hotels all because I follow someone. There are times I feel a little like a mooch. People are giving me free things in hopes that I will give them free publicity. I have noticed that the more followers I have, the more things I have been given.

I have read about several bloggers that are vehemently opposed to free meals or event tickets, so that they can remain impartial. Thankfully, I am not running any sort of blog that people are looking to for an impartial opinion.


If someone gives me tickets to something or I won a free meal, one of two things will happen, and both I will tweet about. If I have great service and a great experience, I will happily tell all of my followers. If however, I have a terrible experience, I will grumpily tell all of my followers.

Take the example of Scotty's Brewhouse.  As a displaced Clevelander, I visited when they first opened downtown.  It was terrible. The staff was clueless and inattentive. So, I crossed them off the list.

When the next football season rolled around and I needed my Browns fix, I tried Scotty's again. And again, terrible service. But, this time I was different.  I was armed with my laptop to check my fantasy team and Twitter. I tweeted. And tweeted some more, chronicling my wait for a table, for service, and on and on. I never imagined it would go anywhere except into the same cyberspace black hole that my blue socks fall into.

My friend showed up and we watched the football games, ate nachos, drank beer, ordered dinner and then something strange happened. It was as if we were whacked with a celebrity stick while sitting at the bar.  Bartenders were coming over to us. Servers were coming over to us. Everyone was checking on us to the point of annoyance. A guy sat on the bar stool next to me and said, "I apologize, it seems as if we have had some problems today."

Umm...

It turns out that Scotty, as in Scotty of Scotty's Brewhouse was reading my tweets. He called his crew, and next thing I knew the general manager was sitting next to me apologizing for poor service and trying to get to the bottom of things.

Wow.

At first, I admit,  I was freaked out that he knew who I was, but I guess the lap top and Browns jersey was a dead giveaway that I was Cleveland Chick from Twitter. After the shock wore off I was truly impressed that someone was reading my ranting tweets, and more importantly was concerned and wanted to make things right.

Scotty knows a little good will goes far in the cyberworld. I wish everyone else did.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Bully Is Not Just A Character On The Simpsons




Carmel basketball players Brandon Hoge, (clockwise, from top left) Robert Kitzinger, Scott Laskowski and Oscar Falodun were booked at the Hamilton County Jail and freed on bond this morning. - Submitted by Hamilton Co. Sheriff's Dept.

 After months of secret wrangling, 4 young men were arrested for hazing another students at Carmel High School in Indiana. The details are murky, but at the very least there were 2 separate incidents; one in the basketball locker room and other on a bus trip from an away game in which the young men pictured above were accused of hazing their classmates.

There are so many things that anger me about this case I almost don't know where to begin. But, before I do, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit, I was never bullied in school. I vividly recall being picked on somewhere in the 2nd grade for my high pitched voice. I believe the taunt had something to do with Welchkins. I proceeded to dump my tormentor in a barrel trashcan and that was the end of it. I didn't bully other kids. I never understood it. Don't mistake me, I was not by any stretch of the imagination a perfect kid, but I am confident in the fact that I didn't go out of my way to make another kid's life hell. 

I cringe listening to grown adults telling their stories of being relentlessly picked on for sport. High school was a great time for me. But, for so many others, it is their living nightmare. A nightmare that they carry with them. 

A particularly disturbing thought to me is the fact that this occurred on the bus, with all the coaches on board. It is bad enough that the accused attacked one of their teammates, but the fact that the coaches let it go on is unconscionable.  I don't for a second believe that they didn't know what was going on. I've been on the team bus and the coach heard a whisper from the back row. 


Kids should feel safe in school.  They shouldn't fear it. And when they are afraid, they should have someone to go to. Every after school special tells you to go to a teacher or a coach. But when they condone the behavior, what is a kid to do?


I don't have the answer. 

I wish I did.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cheeseburgers and Some Concert



 

Jimmy Buffet isn't just a concert. He is an experience.

The evening started at Buffet's restaurant chain, Cheeseburger in Paradise, with the pressed burger with Velveeta and salsa ketchup. It was quite possibly one of the best burgers I have ever consumed.

My first bartender was a bit of a grumpapotomous, waiting to leave. The second guy was amazing. He was all about the flair tricks and tossing full beers across the bar. 

My friend was shocked and amazed at the scene of the concert. This was her first Buffet, so it was all new for her. All the people twice our age in hula skirts and coconut bras, in stretch limos or drinking out of the back of an Escalade

Jimmy seemed to be a little over it all. Honestly, the shows have become bigger than he is. You could have some older guy up there lip syncing to a Buffet album and everyone would still have a blast. The crowd is friendly if not intoxicated. It is as if everyone is remembering that one spring break, or other great trip away from home.

So, even though it rained it was a great night.  And a great cheeseburger.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dear LeBron





 

Dear Lebron, 

Hi.
You don't know me, but we have some things in common.  First, I love Akron too. I went to undergrad there and loved it. As you know, things sure have changed down there.  I was there when you played for St. V St. Mary. Second, that place you accepted your MVP trophy, the JAR Arena? I graduated from there.  Both high school and college. 

So, you can see, we share a little bit of history together. 

I would never say I understand what you are going through. I don't have millions upon millions of dollars thrown at me. I don't have the entire city of New York courting me. So, no, I don't fully understand that part.

But...

This isn't about you anymore.  It is bigger than you.

Let me explain. Cleveland is a proud city. Cleveland has been knocked down, jumped on, poked and mocked. But we always get back up. We stand up straight and tall. Because we are proud. We take accomplishments of few and make them of the many.  

We will announce to anyone that we were the home of Eliot Ness, Drew Carey, Halle Berry, Jim Brown, Michael Symon and on and on. And, LeBron James. 
Any Clevelander will tell you the people that were here or merely passed through. We do that because our lives aren't perfect. Life has been difficult for many people in town. But there is one thing we can all look to and join together on...the Cavaliers. And you. 

Generations of families join together to cheer you on, wish you the best. When you accepted the MVP trophy, you accepted it on behalf of an entire city. Our hopes and dreams are with you.

If you go to New York, you will break the heart of the city. We believe in you. With you on the court we all believe we can be winners.

Just something to consider.

 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Love Cleveland

Cleveland is my home.


There was a point in my life when I wanted nothing more than to flee as far as possible from Cleveland. I lived in other states and all those other places were at one point "home."


But then one day, instead of saying, "I'm going to Cleveland to visit my folks" it became "I am going home to see my folks." I can't tell you what caused the shift and the desire to move back to Cleveland, but it has made my mom extremely happy.


For those that aren't from Cleveland, it is hard to explain what a special place it is. There are very few other cities like it, and I think it may best be described in a list. Keep in mind, that this is not an all inclusive list, but just a few highlights.


We believe that this is the year. 
Or there is always next year.




I met this guy at a preseason Browns game and had to take a picture. As Cleveland fans, we always start the year with the grand idea that *this* is going to be the year. This will be the year we win. This is the year we have a championship. We are optimists at the start of the season.


And we then end the season with...maybe next year. But we keep coming back for more.



It's OK for women to be excited about sports



For the uninitiated, this is the Bone Lady. She has been called the life of the party since the Browns returned to Cleveland. I think she is a blast. She is a die hard fan and isn't afraid to show it.

I love going home and having an intelligent sports conversation with my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandma. There is no, "oh you are a girl therefore all you know about sports is how cute Grady SizemoreAsdrubal Cabrera's stats. She will crush you if you don't know what you are talking about.


Marc's


A trip to Northeast Ohio is not complete until you hit Marc's. I affectionately refer to Marc's as the greatest garage sale on earth.  I consider myself a bit of an expert on Marc's as it was my first job. I worked at Marc's first store in Middleburg Heights, in fact, Marc's mom, Mrs. G. was my boss.

Marc's is a rite of passage for most people, fighting their way through the lines on a Saturday to stock up on back to school shopping. Maybe the packaging is in Mandarin Chinese, but the prices are so low, you don't really care. I still have my first major Marc's purchase from high school, a wicker shelving unit that I paid 13 bucks for.


We are made of certain ethnic groups


We grew up hearing jokes about a certain ethnic group from Parma. And on and on. I am Irish, Italian and Polish, so growing up I loved pierogies, kielbasa, rigatoni and washed it all down with a beer. The fact that you can get pierogies at Browns games says something. It wasn't until I moved to Iowa that I realized not everyone is blessed enough to get pierogies made my the little Polish church ladies. They have to get them from the frozen foods section and Mrs. T.

I am proud that we have Little Italy and the Feast of Assumption and so many other ethnic festivals and parades.  

A Christmas Story House


In Indiana, there is a claim that the movie A Christmas Story was based in Hammond, Indiana. This is true. However,  any Clevelander will tell you that the movie was filmed in Cleveland and we have the house.  Therefore it is our story. And our house.

It brings back memories of going downtown to talk to Santa at Higbee's and look at the windows and enjoy the season.

The holiday truly begins when Randy shows mommy how a piggy eats.


Stadium Mustard


It isn't a trip to the game without Stadium Mustard. In Goodyear, Arizona at the Indians' Spring training facility they have Stadium Mustard. A dog just isn't a dog without it. 


WMMS


W M M S Cleveland.

I owe Kid Leo and WMMS a big thank you. It was listening to WMMS that I found out rock and roll was and some guy named Bruce. All of the live concerts brought to town and simulcast on the radio were what I looked forward to.

WMMS was year after year selected as the Rolling Stone Reader's Poll favorite radio station. It is still one of the greatest rock stations in the country and and the history of FM radio.
 

There are a few things we can all agree on


There are a few things that Clevelanders can all agree on.

We hate Pittsburgh.

We hate Art Modell.

We hate Michigan.

We hate Pittsburgh. Did I mention that one yet?


Drew Carey


The Drew Carey Show hit the airwaves at a time that I needed a dose of home the most. I imaged his house to be like so many others that I had seen in Parma or maybe Old Brooklyn. From the opening sequence of "Cleveland Rocks" to the closing credits, it seemed like a little post card from home.

Drew has a love for the city that came across in the show. I always felt a little less homesick watching the show. And the fact that the man loves Antonio's pizza so much that he had it shipped in for the crew only makes me love him more.


Our Super Fans are better than yours


As a little girl, I used to love going to Indians games with my dad. The games were in Cleveland Stadium and the Tribe was like the Indians in Major League. The lovable losers. If it were a special occasion we would get reserved seats, in the splintering old red or yellow seats. One time comes to mind that I was very concerned we weren't in the right seat because my dad said we could sit where ever we wanted. Finally, after my worried nagging, he said, "your seat says 7. Sit in a seat 7." We ended up next to the dug out.

But during those days, I found a job that I thought would be perfect. I wanted to be the "tom tom" guy. I would rattle on and on about how I could do the job even though I was a girl.  I had no idea that the "tom tom" guy was actually John Adams. Since 1973, he has taken his drum, Chief Boom Boom,  to the cheap seats and starts a drum beat for the game.

He was interviewed by the New York Times, and he sums up the way most Clevelanders feel, “I don’t see myself as being anything extra special,” he said. “I’m just a sports fan — a tough sports fan. And anybody who’s a sports fan in Cleveland has to be tough.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pawn Stars



I am the first to admit that I am a reality TV fan.  But I am selective in my program choices. I don't like the reality programs that are some sort of contest (except Survivor, but that is something completely different). 

What pulls me into a program is when you witness real people going about their daily lives, thinking that they are nothing special. And the dysfunctional family angle doesn't tarnish the allure. 

Pawn Stars is a program on the History Channel that is set in the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Vegas, run by the Harrison family. Between grandfather, father and son, this family business is anything but a quiet day at the office. 

The show, thankfully, is not focused around tourists so down on their luck that they are selling their wedding bands. There are no meth addicts tweaking out trying to pawn their shoes for a quick fix. Maybe there are, but that isn't what we see. People come in throughout the day trying to see if they hit the jackpot with the old coke cooler from grandma's porch or some gun they bought at a garage sale.

The guys seem fair and they have a "buddy" that is an expert in anything and everything. It is fun to watch the "buddy" experts come in and offer insight and prices on everything from stamps to medieval armor. It will never cease to amaze me the items that people hang on to for generations. 

Pawn Stars is a great way to kill half an hour. You may learn a little about something random and take a peek through the window at another family. 

Maybe my family isn't so dysfunctional after all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Believeland




Living in Indiana, the question I get asked all to frequently is, "How can you be a Cleveland fan?"

My response is usually, "How can I not be?"

One of the things that sets Clevelanders apart from other fans is that we grew up with the teams. They are a part of our lives. I remember my elementary school had "Kardiac Kids" t-shirts (back to t-shirts again) printed up for all of us.  Watching games was a family event. Mom, dad, kids, grandma, everyone was in front of the tv. Or if you were lucky enough, you got to go to the game.

I won my first Huffy bike at an Indians game in the bleacher seats.

Every summer I looked forward to the dad/daughter bonding of going to the stadium to watch a game. When I was little my dream job was to take the "tom-tom" guy's job.  It was only when I got older did I find out that my dream job wasn't a job at all. It was just a fan, John Adams.

To me, fans like the Bone Lady, don't seem strange or out of the ordinary. They seem awesome.

Clevelanders stick together, and if we don't win this year, we are always waiting for next year.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

MVP

 
King James and his trophies.

I can only imagine how loud the crowd was today at the University of Akron. In the same arena that held my high school graduation, LeBron James accepted his second MVP trophy.

With the start of each sentence, I hoped he would use the stage to announce he was staying in Cleveland. Or at least propose to his girlfriend. 

Sadly, neither wish came true. While LeBron announced his love and devotion to the city of Akron, he glided around the topic of staying.

This man is going to drag his announcement whether he is staying in Cleveland until the last possible second. The spotlight is on him, and I can't say I blame him. He is having the time of his life and he seems to be enjoying the game of "will he or won't he."

LeBron James is not only a skilled basketball player, he is also a shrewd businessman. 

I just hope he sees that while money is important, Cleveland and Akron offer something that New York never could. The cities love and adore him unconditionally, not only because of his abilities, but because he is one of us.

It Didn't Happen If You Don't Have a T-Shirt




 It really is all about the t-shirt.

When I was in high school, I stumbled in what I thought was the coolest place on the planet, Record Revolution on Coventry. I saw the t-shirt above in the store and had to have one.

As I got older, every occasion has been marked by a t-shirt. Go on vacation? Get me a t-shirt. Join the sorority and there is a new t-shirt for every event.  I have a drawer full of old college tees that I will never get rid of. Maybe I will make a quilt out of them. But each one has memories attached. Like my Grady Sizemore tee I wore when I met him. That one will be framed.

Then came the work world and more t-shirts. Although these are not what I would call fun shirts. These t-shirts are used to identify you as whatever department for whichever company. These all go into the box of tees to wear next year at that same event in hopes of not having to buy a new one. Or, what usually happens, these are what I wear when I color my hair.

The amazing thing to me is that in Cleveland, there are numerous companies making shirts about the city. There is C.L.E. Clothing Company, BCTZs, Fresh Brewed Tees, Cleveland Clothing Co., just to name a few.

Here in Indiana?

None.

I can't think of a single company that pushes the state or the city of Indianapolis via t-shirts or the like.

Maybe it's a Cleveland thing.

Maybe it's a pride thing. 

Maybe it's just a comfy memory.