Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love? Yeah, I'll have some of that.

I went to a country wedding this weekend. My best friend's son got married, which seems completely implausible since the first time I met him, he was sweet, short and 4. Younger than my oldest son. It makes me feel alternately approaching-death-too-rapidly old and just so lucky to be alive and experiencing moments like this, especially at times like these.

It was impossible not to juxtapose this beautiful, poignant occasion with the horrors happening across the Atlantic in Norway. Even as my friend cried into my shoulder as we watched her son dance that first dance (Unchained Melody) with his new wife - the pain of letting go so sharp and heavy, I couldn't help but imagine all the mothers in Oslo who were looking out over the world with new eyes. My friend's tears were mixed with happiness. The letting go was more of a transition, not a finality.

And then, during the reception, came news of Amy Winehouse. Love her, hate her, pity her... it hit me in the gut because she's not the only junkie in this world who hasn't been able to scrape it together. Most junkies aren't followed around by paparazzi documenting them at their most vulnerable and sickest. Aside from the lamentable waste of talent (I really loved her first album) it was the first time one of these "young tragic" deaths hit me in that Mommy way. She was somebody's freshly scrubbed baby one day 27 years ago, all pink and pissed off and ready to take on the world. I can imagine clearly how her parents felt when that voice first came out of that child. So much promise.

Addiction is a beast some people just can't seem to beat down well enough. I witness it among various people I love on an ongoing basis. It is harrowing to watch. To be honest, I have a feeling I wouldn't fare so well myself if I wound up in that situation. I think some of us are more prone to that kind of slippery slope. So I feel for her struggle, not that she wasn't responsible for her own bad decisions, and most of all, for her loved ones. I really like what Russell Brand had to say about his friend. I'm also glad the coverage online at least, hasn't seemed to overshadow the news out of Oslo, where the true tragedy lies.

By the time Saturday wrapped up, I was mentally exhausted, but somehow, still feeling hopeful. To witness two "kids" so devoted, so in love, despite of and because of all the utter shit in the world, pledge to anybody who cared to listen, that they were ready to take it all on, together, was a reminder to savor this. So much about this modern life is pure, petty bullshit. It's the people that matter, cliche or not. I don't think anyone out on that island or in that building in Oslo were thinking about anything except wanting desperately to spend another moment in this screwed up, angry world with the people they loved, just like my friend's son and his new wife.

Love is powerful. It can't compete with a madman with a scary gun when it comes to survival, but it drives us, for better or worse, richer and poorer, and even in the face of loss. When you read the last writings of people who know their time is coming to a close, it's never about how much shit they accumulated or being so glad they finally got that promotion. It's all about love making all the bad parts worth the trouble.

Today I'm feeling a little less worried about the drawer full of bills and the dead tree in my backyard and the heat index, and a lot more focused on the love I'm so lucky to share, and my little family. I know it's sappy, and obvious, and predictable in the wake of an event like Oslo, but I wanted to get it down on paper anyway. I also know it's really not possible to live vicariously through the dying. We see a tragedy like this play out, or we witness someone facing their mortality in a very real way and we are triggered to reflect on the blessings in our lives, but it's too often fleeting. But I will try, once again, to remember. It's a worthy goal to live life with your love on your sleeve, Hallmark moment or not.

It's really not a bad story to leave behind. I was here. I was loved. I loved some people, a whole lot. The end.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My favorite Cincinnati blog

Today I started a series that will feature local blogs. I started with my all-time favorite, City Kin. This guy is a one-man Cincinnati Magazine without the snooty ads. He's a dad living in or near Over the Rhine and a tireless advocate for the city. Here's an excerpt from my profile. Please click over and read the whole thing. It was a labor of love this morning. :)

The City Kin family’s experience is detailed intimately, with pictures of festivals and daily walks around the downtown neighborhood where they reside. All the usual family ups and downs are portrayed here, but against a backdrop of a neighborhood that has undergone major upheaval and renovation in an effort to revitalize a part of the city many have written off as unsalvageable.

Through all the speculation and debate about Over the Rhine, City Kin’s commitment to Cincinnati and its people has remained intact. He isn’t afraid to call out Findlay Market for raising rental fees, a move which has seemingly led to several farmers leaving. He occasionally rails against the school system, especially mandatory testing. He shines the spotlight on local demolition sites and shows readers what things used to look like, before the steady decline in his neighborhood ate up the landscape and the architecture. He laments the kind of growth that seems unhelpful to the bigger picture – the one where gentrification and too-much-too-quick change is a must to avoid if it means displacing the families who have called this part of the city home for generations.

Continue reading on Cincinnati blogging scene: City Kin

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My writing for

When I update over at Examiner, I'll post a link and maybe an excerpt here, too. If you're so inclined, I've written a handful of articles there so far. Insider tip: I often include really interesting or humorous links in the body of my articles. If you look hard enough you'll find links to some of the best time-wasting sites on the planet as well as quiet shout outs (is that possible?) to local bloggers. I'm planning to include a lot more focus on the local blogging scene in the coming weeks.

Here is where to find me on Examiner.

Are you also feeling a lot of unhealthy angst toward our unrelenting sun gods? Check here for some indoor activities around town. Good ones. None of this lame "go sit in a puddle" crap from me.

Maybe you're one of those squirrely, anti-social kind of parents who sit around at the playground diddling their Kindle (at least I didn't say Nook) pretending not to know who those kids with the mismatched socks belong to. Thanks to this list of the least-busy parks in the city, now you don't have to deal with all that pressure to "appear interested" or engage in surprisingly lengthy discussions about Tricia Macke with those athletic looking moms with the extremely severe ponytails.

Love grilled cheese? No? Get off my blog immediately. Otherwise, read this review and hightail it to your nearest Tom + Chee location.

Have you taken all your daycation days this year? Yes, I went there. I jumped right on that just-make-up-a-goofy-word-to-shamelessly-attract-readers bandwagon. If it's good enough for Sarah Palin... Anyway, check here when you are ready to blow this Popsicle stand for the day. And only the day. If you stay longer than a day, you make me a liar, and a good friend wouldn't do that to another friend.

There are restaurants where it's not such a great idea to bring along little Johnny. The ones with the naked waitresses come to mind. We're lucky to have a whole slew of great places to take the kids out for a meal, and that's just an awesome thing. Nothing sucks more than ponying up 40 bucks for a dinner you have to box up 10 minutes into the meal because little Johnny decided this was the opportune time to get an early start on that streaking career.

If you are cheap and not busy this weekend (or any weekend), you just hit the jackpot, buddy. Here's a list of 10 (count them) ideas for things to do, for free, right here in the Queeniest City of them all.

Naming this blog

Sarah in the City? Sarah near the city? Suburban Sarah, Who Lives Just Outside the City? Sarah, who will surely move back to the city at some point? Cincinnati Sarah? Southwest Ohio...

The choices were varied, compelling, and ultimately thrown into a virtual hat and picked through by my cat. He liked that people wouldn't have to remember how to spell Cincinnatti. Cincinati. Cincinnaty. CincinCATty?

By now, the smarter among you have likely discerned that my name is Rhonda and I live in Pasadena. Mostly I'll be discussing our annual Rose Parade and my contributions of unusual hybrid show roses to the more, shall we say, lucrative floats, or wheelie-bobs, as we in the Parade community say.

Alright, probably not. I'm just one of those people who annoys relatives with commentary on how half their medicine cabinet came into being thanks to Cincinnati, and didn't you know Cincinnati has some of the best views anywhere? Your hills suck, Indiana. I alternately love and worry about the future of this place, which could also sum up my feelings for my dog on any given afternoon when she comes in covered in my garden. I need an outlet.

I'm also the "Cincinnati Family Recreation Examiner" over at, which is, depending on who you ask, a hyper-local news and information provider or a content mill posing as a news outlet. In either case, I'm enjoying writing and sharing there, so it seemed only natural to expand my ranting space exponentially via blog. I am always open to article ideas for Examiner. I have found that more than anything, it's a decent vehicle for developing local relationships and shedding a little light on interesting local places and people that might otherwise be overlooked. To that end, I'm happy to profile a place or person in Cincinnati (or thereabouts) who needs some Internet love. Not that kind of Internet love. Sheesh. You may be thinking of the OTHER Cincy Sarah.