Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Heart-Stopping Tale of the Terrifying Attack Bird that Flew into My House

It was an ordinary Saturday night. The kids were playing, if whacking each other with a stick counts, the husband was working on an endless work thing, and I was hanging out in my natural habitat, the kitchen. I had just settled in for a mind-numbing session of looking at the same 5 sites over and over again when the dog did that thing she does to let us know she wants to go outside (standing nearish the kitchen door while trying to make eye contact with someone). I sighed heavily to let her know how much of an inconvenience this was for me and flung open the back door.

What happened next took place in the space of 2 or 3 seconds, but it felt like slow-motion. My brain couldn't keep up with the chaos, but it basically went down like this:

I opened the door and was immediately hit in the face by something, but I didn't know what that something was. My mind went to "BAT!"

Obviously, I started screaming a terrifying scream straight out of Psycho, bringing forth all matter of child and beast, but no husband. Cats were tearing through the house, the dog raced back inside to try her best to trip me as I ran around in circles in the kitchen screaming at the short people to retrieve their father, my voice raising an octave with every panicked sentence:  

"Go get Daddy!! Get Daddy now!! There is a bat!! A BAT! ANDERSON THERE IS A BAT!!!"

I may or may not have peed a little.

Finally, I managed to take in a little oxygen and determine that I needed to locate the bat. My eyes scanned the room counterclockwise. Cabinets. Stove. Sink. Fridge. A bird on the corner cabinet. Microwave. What. It took way too long for my brain to register that the bat was a bird, and I stupidly breathed a sigh of relief before I realized a bird was in the house. 

"BIRD!!" I screamed uselessly. 

"There is a bird??" David exclaimed. "I love birds!! Anderson, there is a bird! Oh, yay, Mommy!" 

By now Kurt had finally emerged from the basement, looking glazed and overworked.

"It's not a spider," I reassured him.

"What is it?"

I pointed toward the corner.

"I'm not coming in until you tell me what it is!"

"Just look!"

"I don't want whatever it is to attack me."

"Don't you want to save me??"


"Oh my god. It is a bird! An attack bird! Get it!"


He finally came in the room and we all looked at one another. 

The bird and Kurt exchanged a look. The bird and I exchanged a wary look. 

Kurt and I exchanged a half-bemused/half-panicked look that conveyed a singular thought: Oh, geez. We're the parents in this scenario. It's all on us to remove this winged hell-beast from our home before it destroys every one of us and takes the dog to its lair just for spite. 

We spent the next 10 minutes chasing the bird from room to room.

No, bird. This is a picture of a tree. It's embarrassing to admit how easily you outwitted us. Repeatedly.

The bird is nearish this area. Kurt was really thankful for my my helpful bad-picture taking while he alone worked to coax the bird from its various perches.

The chaos continues. I think I was yelling useful information about exactly where the bird was at that second. "It is on the Christmas tree! It is on that picture frame! The bird just flew that way!" I'm pretty concerned about my ability to cope with an emergency at this point.

The bird wanted to help put up the Christmas decorations, maybe. He scrambled around in boxes while Kurt looked on wearing his protective work gloves.

Kurt attempts to coax the bird down as if he has suddenly become the Falconer.

The bird was very, very confused and could not comprehend the need to exit through one of the wide open doors or windows. Our collective 11 years of higher education did not help in this terrifying scenario. We contemplated going next door to borrow a beekeeper's suit from the neighbor because above all else, allowing the bird to touch one of us was out of the question, despite the fact that he'd already smacked me full in the face. We thought about things we'd seen on TV. "Well, they are always shooing them out with a broom, right? We could just hit at it with a broom."

Around this time, the terrifying bat/bird/dragon began walking around on the floor like he had decided to become a person since going outside ever again was obviously out of the question. 

He asked for a dry martini and made a passive-aggressive comment about the state of our living room, something about how it must be nice to feel so unencumbered by social graces like "cleaning," and that's when I'd finally had enough. 

I gave him the side-eye and cleared my throat pointedly. 

And then, he rolled his eyes and walked out the front door without so much as a "how do you do."


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The 2013 CincySarah Internet Awards

Apropos of nothing, my little guy was in a "mini-Nutcracker" this year.
Look at the cute. LOOK AT IT.

I promised, long, long ago, to promote a few of my new favorite online spots. And then, because of reasons and also Reasons, I didn't. I didn't forget, though. You really should be reading these things, too, and I'd be remiss in not mentioning them here at some point.

I present to you the CincySarah Certified Awesome Sites I Spent A lot of 2013 Looking At And Stuff (CSCASISALLAAS):

Favorite Escape: Camp Tramps

I mean, seriously. I'm ready to stow away; aren't you? Credit: Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman is hilarious, talented, irreverent, and basically all around great. She also spends a great deal of time cooped up in a cute little camper, traveling around America with her adorable husband Brad. Lucky for us, she tells us all about her adventures on her fantastic new photo travel site thingie, Camp Tramps. I love the photography, and I often find myself convulsed with laughter over the stories. Amy is really adept at making her readers feel like they have stowed away in her fifth wheel (is that a camper thing? it sounds like a camper thing), or at least wishing they had. Did I mention the camper has been christened "Breaking Brad?" 

Favorite Site for When I Want to Feel Extremely Emotional: Humans of New York

"One day you’ll feel eighteen, look sixty, and wonder what happened." Credit: HONY
Yeah, yeah, late to the party, yadda, yadda. That just means I got to binge on the amazing content here when word of this amazing collection of emotion-stirring imagery finally made its way to me through my fortress of Candy Crush Saga and obscure subReddits about home canning and ukulele playing. I felt ashamed for having wasted so much time that I could have been spending at HONY. 

Because... wow. 

This isn't about trick photography or some cheap, staged, click-baiting stunt. HONY is this unassuming guy named Brandon and his camera. It's simple. He goes around NYC and asks people about their story and then shares it with us. The lucky, so very lucky, us. When I go here, I feel like I'm part of the human race. I'm overwhelmed by the raw, beaten-down expression of people who are experiencing pain I'll probably be fortunate enough to never experience, and I'm bemused by the old guys with funny jokes, and inspired by the ancient couples who still remember this one tiny story about a moment in their shared life, 50 years ago... It's an example of using this medium for good. It also makes me want to do a Humans of Cincinnati feature, like yesterday.

Favorite "Primary Source" Online Resource: Letters of Note

A hilarious form letter from Steve Martin to a fan. Read more at: Letters of Note.

Lately, I crave real content. You can only read so many formulaic "news" articles focused more on driving traffic than delivering actual journalism before you're ready to write the whole thing off. I've been there a lot this year. I'm sick of feeling like I'm on the receiving end of a sales transaction with every click I make. This is only part of the reason I find Letters of Note, and its tagline, "Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience," such a refreshing break. 

It's just what it sounds like - real letters in their original form, lovingly scanned in for internet posterity. It's letters to and from famous people, historical figures, regular people - even the occasional pet is addressed. 

Wait. You do remember letters, right? They were those pages with the swirly letters, usually sent to you by a grandparent or distant cousin. In the case of the cousin, they were probably written under duress, thanking you for the gift you didn't know you sent, usually a shirt. No? All the more reason to get over there. Letters of Note is also reason enough to bring back the cursive writing, or at least, cursive reading, requirement to all public school systems.

How amazing is it to be able to read, on your tiny phone/computer/homing device, a beautiful, original letter from 16th century South Korea, written from a young, grieving widow to her dead husband? It's incredible and Letters of Note is another good example of using this medium for something important.


Thus concludes this round of CincySarah Internet Awards (CIA! Much easier to remember). I wanted to share these sites with you, and there are many more, but never enough, because I fully understand how disheartening it can feel out here. I'm guilty of wasting tons of precious time on stupid internet things, so don't feel judged about the fact that you may have just spent 45 minutes learning about the doge meme (it is delightful; I get it).

I just strongly encourage you to seek out the gems, too. There are still real people putting in honest hours to bring the world to your device, for the love of sharing the stories that make the world revolve, for the creative outlet, maybe because they feel they simply must.

Whatever the reason, I'm richer for their devotion.

What have you been reading in 2013?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Let's Party Like it's Geocities 1999

Why? Because this strange child is my heart.

 I'm just a writer.

I'm not doing this to create a brand for myself, not that there's anything wrong with that. I named my blog Cincy Sarah because it's just kind of catchy and is pretty on-the-nose. I'm Sarah and I'm from Cincinnati. No-brainer.

But every now and then, I get weird pressure from people I know in the blogging community, as it were, to monetize my blog or finish up designing my own site (turns out I really and truly detest that kind of thing), or to organize blog posts into an ebook that I would then sell on my blog that already contains all those posts... and I'm just not into it. I kind of envy the very talented people who have managed to create gorgeous, information-packed websites that draw visitors from all over the world. I'm just downright jealous when they amass enough readers to get free shit from companies just for mentioning them "casually" here and there. That's pretty sweet! I love that entrepreneurial spirit.


That's just not me. I thought it might be, but it's just not. I don't have a particular agenda to promote, though I don't mind holding you hostage now and again to rant about something important (THINK BEFORE YOU PINK, PEOPLE). I like to write things that I hope people can relate to. I try to strike a chord now and again. I'm ever aware that I'm just another anonymous voice on the internet and it's totally understandable that you, the average internet person, doesn't necessarily care about me, in particular. I'm comfortable with that and the feeling is probably mutual. We both know what this is.

I'm also not interested in joining one of these massive rings where everybody blindly clicks on everyone else's blogs and leaves meaningless comments so that everybody gets lots of hits in some kind of modern day chain letter, Google-tricking waste of time.  That feels icky to me.

So I'm just going to continue writing whatever the hell I feel like writing here. And someday, I hope I can relate some exciting news about how someone is paying me actual money for writing things I love to write about. But it won't be Google Adsense. When I point you to Amazon and ask you to pretty please buy my book, I hope you'll want to do that because it sounds interesting and you'd like to support me because you're cool like that.

Now, how about you? What are you up to? I'd love to use my small internet voice to help get the word out about cool things you're doing, too. My next post will be pure promotion of some internet up-and-comers I'm excited about. If you're doing something from the heart and you'd like me to help spread the word, I'm happy to do that. No link exchanging required.

Let's just be real together, like it's Geocities 1999.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My life has become a yogurt commercial

I spent the day putting 120 miles on my van yesterday, carting the husband and children from one end of the county to the other from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This is very unusual for me, and I don't recommend it in general, but it struck me that I might as well have been wearing a giant bullseye when it comes to representing a certain market demographic. I started narrating a commercial in my head as I went along.

Read this in a cheerful, singsong voice that makes you want to be my best friend and also stab me in the eyeball:

Hi! I'm a busy mom on the go! If I'm not rushing the kids to a scouting activity, we're off to baseball, music class, academic activities, running errands or taking "Daddy" to work! It's days like these I'm forever thankful for - what are we selling again? Oh, yeah - yogurt! I'm thankful for yogurt.

Because without yogurt, I'd never make it.

Without yogurt, how would I have summoned enough strength to referee 15 separate wrestling matches fought in the parking lots of several prominent retailers?

How would I have ever managed to not crash my van into the ditch while steering one-handed as I awkwardly passed a water bottle to a screaming, panicked 5-year-old who was convinced he just swallowed a "flying spider" after opening his window despite my stern protests?

Without yogurt, would I have even been able to get into that zone where I pretend the rest of the world does not exist as my child accidentally-but-repeatedly hurls a baseball directly at his new coach's crotch?

Were it not for yogurt, I'd probably still be lost on Cincinnati's west side, searching for the mysteriously invisible signage involved with the current I-74 Colrain Ave. detour. Thanks to yogurt, we only drove an extra 22 miles out of our way trying to find the wrong end of the one way street we needed.

The power of yogurt allowed me to force a somewhat convincing smile  for the other parents, even when my oldest sobbed for 30 minutes because we had been "outside for too long" on a 70-degree, party cloudy day at a nature center.

Yogurt was there when I realized I had managed to force everybody under 8 to pee on a regular basis all day, but I had yet to take my own bathroom break for 9 hours and that it would be yet another hour before I could. 

Thank you, yogurt! You keep us modern moms moving, and I'm not just referring to Jamie Lee Curtis's bowels.*

*Do not Google "Jamie Lee Curtis's bowels."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Almost not a Baby Anymore

My always-up-to-something, goofy, moody, loving, wonderful little 4-year-old.

I'm just going to lay it out there. This post is unabashedly and unapologetically mushy, sentimental, and maybe a little saccharin, but it's either this or subjecting my "baby" to an uncomfortably intense snuggling session so that I might internalize the essence of being in his 4-year-old presence forever. And I don't think anyone wants to see that happen. I've already been relegated to planting kisses only on his clothes or hair, because my kisses are "too much kisses," which is really just a polite way to say I'm a slobbering troglodyte when it comes to expressing my affection. I can't face that rejection so early in the day.

So here's the deal. My youngest is about to turn 5 and I'm having an unexpected little freak out about this whole situation. We won't have "little kids" in our house anymore! Panic! I'm accustomed to little kids by now. I'm comfortable in little kid land, where I'm very much in charge, and where my children adore me and call me things like "Bubblegum Mommy Cutie Pie Princess of the West." I've become accustomed to my princess lifestyle and I do not want to give it up.

I am not ready to move past the stage where I can scoop him up like a medium-sized dog and feel his hot breath on my chest when he snuggles up on my lap, or the flutter of his soft, enviably-long eyelashes on my cheek while he whispers inane secrets to me about a duck in the mailbox.

I am not ready for the day when he tells me, hopefully gingerly, to stop calling him "baby" or when the two of them will huddle in conspiratorial whispers about what an out-of-touch, goofy old lady I've become.

I'm certainly not ready for the day one of them gets a girlfriend, life partner, spouse, personal goldfish or car! I think I'm getting the spins here. It's all too much.

I know, I know. It will all be okay. And I am incredibly lucky to have two healthy, goofy, loving little boys who are proving every day how kind, smart, and engaged they are becoming. It's a very good life. I just didn't expect this lurch in my chest as my baby crosses the invisible bridge between the land of Dora and tricycles and the one where he'll need deodorant in a few short years.

Today, though, I will sneak a sniff of his little blond head as I help him get untwisted when he tries to take off his pajama shirt.

Today I will sit on my hands while he makes his own peanut butter sandwich for lunch, even when he wipes the knife on his shorts and there's more peanut butter on the table than the bread.

Today I will maintain something between a grimace and a smile when he's on his 13th successive knock-knock joke with no punch line.

Today I will scoop him up from behind, and delight in his squeal of surprise. I will twirl him around and sing into his ear while we dance to "Long Gone Daddy," and I will try hard to memorize all of it. The size of his little warm body in my arms. His weird little boy smell. The way he says "we're" instead of "our," and how he always says thank you with such genuine sincerity whenever I make him pancakes or skeptically hand over the kid scissors.

I will remember that at 4, he loved smoked salmon and hated watermelon, and that he sometimes had to put one of his three baby dolls, Tom, Craigslist, and Cabba, in time out for breaking the rules.

I will remember how much he loved dancing and singing, and how he did both with exuberance, every single time.

I will remember that above all, he really just wanted to be exactly like his big brother, and that being with his mommy and daddy, grandparents, uncles and aunt made him happier than anything else in the world.

And even when he is faced with navigating the sometimes excruciating process of growing up, and it makes him angry and confused, I vow to remember the way his tiny hand fit inside mine when he was 4, and how he once reached for me instinctively whenever he was worried. And I'll hope that he will carry our pure, eternal love for him in his heart, and that it helps when the world shows its claws now and then.

And I will watch this video, and many others like it, and smile, laugh, and probably cry like a sentimental mommy is meant to cry at a time like that. Because despite being "mine," my little David is his own little person, and it's a gift to be able to be a part of his growing up. I will miss this part so much, but I'm so excited to see what tomorrow brings, too. Did I mention that part about how grateful I am for this awesome life?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Side Two Musings

Shake It is one of Cincinnati's best record stores. Go buy some records!

We had a rite of passage in our house yesterday. Anderson learned how to flip a record and (fairly) gently set the needle down to start Side Two. 

I think I was a little older when my dad finally let me approach the stereo system, and by then I'd already memorized all the skips, scratches and bumps on both sides of Neil Young's Harvest. I knew that my favorite, "Needle and the Damage Done" didn't come until deep into the second side, though I had no idea what Neil was singing about. When my mom was in charge, it was Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell, pouring her heart out, skating down a river I imagined was surrounded by frozen bushes under a baby blue winter sky. 

By the time I was 10 or so, I knew which songs marked the end of side one and I'd rush in to do my duty so the pause between sides was as short as possible: "Are you Ready for the Country?" "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" "Stairway to Heaven."

Records were the soundtrack of my youth.

We're no audiophiles, nor do we really wish to be, but one of the best purchases we've made as a couple has been our vintage Marantz stereo system. I don't think it's been off more than a few waking hours since we got the last pieces a few weeks ago, a couple of surprisingly decent speakers from Goodwill. We pore over our meager but solid little record collection, and we've begun to prefer our cheap-bin records to the crystal clear mp3 versions. 

Digital music is great in several ways, but there's something ritualistic about pushing a shiny silver button and watching the stereo come alive. The deliberateness of selecting an album and listening to it all the way through is contradictory to the way most of us listen to mp3s. It's slower, and far less convenient, and you can't listen to records outside your house. I get it. We've moved on as a society and I'm nostalgic and a proponent of heavy lifting when it comes to my music. 

It still warms my heart to know that when my kids hear Aqualung 30 years from now (because they will, I mean, come on - that's some amazing, timeless flute-playing right there), they will mentally insert all the scratches and bumps in just the right places, and they will know that the slightly creepy laughing at the start of "Up to Me" means it's almost time to flip.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Home on the Horizon

You're living a good life when the best part of a great trip is the coming home.
"When I come home
Cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones
Beside the fire"
(Roger Waters)

I've been reading through past posts here and approving comments from months ago, and realizing how much I miss writing here, how I never feel quite at "home" if I'm not writing this kind of stuff regularly. There's only so much creative satisfaction one can derive from writing web content for various corporate interests. That's about a .05% creative satisfaction level, I've discovered. Some days it's actually a negative number.

I've been glum for a while now, when I haven't been wracked with grief over the loss of my grandpa in April, or troubled over a spectacularly awful and seemingly irreparable falling out with a cherished friend. My state of mind has been more focused on just trying to find a soft place to land, and emotionally I haven't been up to the inherently vulnerable task of writing.

And in some ways, I'm still not there, but this is what I do, and not doing it has begun to feel worse than doing it and risking the pain of rejection or criticism. I still feel an overwhelming sense of "they're all gonna laugh at you," but I'm choosing to finally take that deep breath and dive back in. I mean, let's be honest, anyway. Of the 12 people who will potentially read this one day, surely only 2 of them will actually point and laugh. Right? Right.

I have lots of stuff I want to get to here soon, but for today, I will leave you with this old picture I came across the other day. It makes me all kinds of bittersweet and gooey. Kind of like Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra but without the brain freeze.

The little one is turning 5 in a few days. This one's going to sting.