A day in the life

The simple tale of a 20-something in Ohio


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Dear Cancer: F*** you. Sincerely, Leave My Sister Alone

Pardon my language, but shit’s about to get real.

I’m feeling so much rage right now. I also want to curl up in a ball, hide under my bed, and cry. Better yet, I’d be on the next plane to Texas, and I’d never look back. Let me start from the beginning.

I guess the beginning is that my sister and I share a birth mother, but little else. Because of circumstances beyond our control, we grew up practically oblivious to each other. Our mother was not exactly fit to be a mother, per se. She abandoned us both, at separate times, with different family members.

My sister, Shannon, met me when I was a baby. I was too young to remember this, but there are photos of her holding a very chubby, crying baby Danielle. Eventually my family moved to Ohio from Texas, where I was born, and Shannon stayed with family in the south. When I was a pre-teen, my mom left me and my younger brother with my father, and I had no idea where Shannon was, who she was with, or what kind of person she was. I thought about her plenty over the years, but I didn’t know her. I hadn’t really seen her ever, because baby Danielle didn’t remember anything about our first meeting. I had photos, very outdated photos, and knew she had blue eyes and blonde hair–like our mom.

Fast forward to 2006. Myspace. I get a message saying, “Hey, this might be weird, but I think you’re my sister.” After that first line, I had no doubts that she was right. Shannon said she used to search for me and my brother, Carmen, on the Internet from time to time. She finally decided to try myspace, and lo-and-behold. Or whatever. I had a sister. She did, too.

She was raised by my grandfather’s wife’s daughter. Make sense? Doesn’t need to. She was living outside Tampa, Florida. Suddenly I had the chance to know this woman I should have been sharing my life with. It was a miracle.

We exchanged messages, but it wasn’t always easy. We were, after all, basically strangers. But still, I had the chance to know my sister–finally–after so many years of wondering.

In the summer of 2010, I flew to Florida and spent 4 days with her. It was amazing. We went to the beach, we took midnight swims in her friend’s pool, we ate and drank too much… It was the perfect vacation in so many ways. I left among promises to return, with the hopes that she’d get to come to Cleveland to visit.

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It wasn’t long after that that she moved back to Texas to be near her family. The prospect of a visit was even more exciting. I hadn’t been back to San Antonio since I left at an age too young to remember what I was leaving. My grandfather, my mom’s dad, was in San Antonio. I had never had any contact with him, never met him.

Traveling to Texas wasn’t going to be easy. It was expensive. Taking time off from work was hard. I put it off, thinking I had all the time in the world.

Then Shannon was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Completely out of the blue.

A year and a half ago, the trip to Texas seemed so much more urgent. Of course, I also started a new job the same day she was diagnosed. Vacation time wasn’t going to be easy to come by. But finally, this February, I got to go.

We had a really great time. We went to the rodeo, saw the Alamo, and ate too much (less drinking this time around). I brought my boyfriend, Tony, and it was good. We stayed for about 4 days.

I got to meet my grandparents. My mom’s parents had divorced ages ago, so my grandfather and step-grandmother welcomed me into their home. They had cats and chickens, and a house in the country PawPaw built with his own hands. They took us out for steak for lunch. I don’t like steak, but there was something really special about ordering the same thing as my grandfather: steak, mashed potatoes and corn. We shared a love for corn and potatoes, even though we had never met.

I keep saying it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t. Again, these people were perfect strangers. But it was amazing and beautiful, and I feel like the planets must have aligned or something for things to have gone so well. My sister, while not pain-free, was in good enough health to spend time exploring the city of my birth with us. The whole trip made my soul happy.

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After I left Texas for the north, things turned south for Shannon. She’s been in the hospital almost ever since, with complication after complication keeping her there. Then, this weekend, the doctors tell her treatment isn’t working. They said she’d have 6-8 months.

I’m angry because she’s 33 years old and being told she possibly won’t live to see 34. This young, vibrant woman shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of pain. And I’m so mad that I didn’t get to spend more time with her. Maybe that’s selfish, but if one of us dies and we’ve only spent a total of about 8 days together, then I will be so mad.

I am probably in the anger stage of grief, but whatever. This sucks. I would give anything to be able to pack up my life and take it to Texas and spend whatever time Shannon has with her. Maybe that’s 6 months. Maybe she beats the odds and has a long and healthy life. I still would want to spend it with her.

I am mad that I spent so much time putting off a visit. This is probably the worst punishment I could be served. Grow up without a sister. Finally meet her. Cancer. What the fuck, universe?

There’s always hope that things could work out. Right now I’m just so sad and frustrated that I can’t do anything from so many miles away.

I want to be optimistic. I want to believe praying and wishing for a miracle will work. I want to believe she will beat the odds. I want to believe that the next time I see her won’t be at a funeral.

It’s hard. But I’m going to try.

Meanwhile, if anybody knows somebody who wants to pay all my bills so I can quit my job and go to Texas… you know where to find me.


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Slow Ride vs. Free Ride

This is a question my boyfriend and I argue about every day. He and I just cannot agree on the better song.

So, which song do you like better?

Slow Ride:

or

Free Ride


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Who wants to play tourist in #CLE with me and share it with the world?

I have been a resident of the Cleveland area for a majority of my life. Still, there’s a lot about this place I haven’t seen or done. I’ve always had a goal in mind of playing tourist in Cleveland for a day (or days!), and I have the absolute perfect opportunity to do it coming up.

Have you heard of @twkusa yet? It’s a pretty cool project inspired by @sweden — each week, a different American takes over the handle for a bit to do whatever they want with it. This sort of project is typically called #RotationCuration or #LocationCuration. Several countries have followed @sweden’s lead. @twkusa is the USA version of the project. Learn more at their website. (Nominate yourself to curate for a week if you want!)

On Sunday, June 23, I take over the account. For one week, I will get to tweet about my life in this little corner of the country. I’m pretty pumped about it, mostly because I want to see what sorts of conversations I can get into with the other #LocationCuration curators in other countries, and it’s also a chance to interact with people from around the U.S. that I wouldn’t otherwise tweet with.

One thing that’s exceptionally fun about it is that I haven’t seen anybody else from Cleveland or Ohio take on the handle yet. I am also conveniently on vacation for the entire week. What better way to spend my time off than to explore the city and share it with the followers of @twkusa? I get to play tourist AND share some neat things about Cleveland with a global audience.

I’m not even entirely sure what I want to do that week. Maybe check out the Rock Hall? I still haven’t been. Who has suggestions? Better yet: Who wants to join? I’m happily seeking volunteers to play tour guide or to get lost in town one day with me. Pick a day or an activity, and we can share our adventures with the @twkusa audience.

If you would like to join me, shoot me a line with a day you’re available or activity you’d like to do. If you’re up for some adventures with me that week, I’ll retweet you from @twkusa and give you shoutouts from the account. If you want me to share photos you take via Instagram or whatever, I’ll do that, too! Basically, just looking for fun staycation activities in CLE. Maybe at the end of the day I’ll buy you a celebratory drink if you’re game. Up to you entirely :)

If you can’t join me one day, I’m gladly accepting recommendations for activities or things to do in the area!

What do you think? Where should I go? What should I do? How would you spend a staycation around town?


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I don’t really care about Charles Ramsey’s past crimes, and neither should you

Charles Ramsey captivated the Internet this week when he gave an interview outlining his role in the rescue of three women who had been held captive in Cleveland for the past 10 years.

Ramsey gave his account of what happened when Amanda Berry was able to get the attention of neighbors and escaped the house where she was held. After his apparently entertaining interview, he was lauded as a hero and the Internet went nuts meme-ifying, song-ifying and otherwise glorifying the man credited with rescuing Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Some say his efforts were heroic. Some say he is taking undue credit and that Angel Cordero, another man who does not speak English, was responsible for freeing the women. Others now say Ramsey’s the scumbag of the planet.

Wow, what a whirlwind of comments for just one man.

Here’s what we know about Charles Ramsey to be true:

  • He lives near the house where the three women had been held since the early 2000s and knew Ariel Castro, the suspect in the kidnappings, on what seems to be a fairly casual level.
  • He called 911 to report Amanda Berry’s escape from the house, and requested backup and aid for the woman.
  • He makes for an entertaining interview subject.
  • He was arrested on a number of charges, ranging from involvement with drugs to domestic abuse.

It’s that last one that is causing a stir.

I understand that a man who has been thrust into the public eye is going to be under more intense scrutiny now. What I really don’t understand is why we’re making a fuss about his prior arrests.

First: I don’t want to make excuses for Ramsey’s previous crimes. He committed them, was arrested, charged, and served jail time. These things will always be a part of his past, and he knows that they will probably continue to tarnish his reputation. I do not condone any of the activities related to his charges, and all I can do is hope that he doesn’t partake in such behavior in the future.

However, I really don’t care that he committed these crimes. I mean, as a normal person who doesn’t like drugs or abuse or crime in general, I do. It just has nothing to do with his role in the rescue of the women, and I don’t understand why the media or public need to know about any of it.

Sure, arrest history can be made public record. But his past activities have nothing to do with his role in helping free the women.

Of course, I don’t agree with calling him a hero or glorifying him. He did a great thing, and we should all be thankful. From what I’ve heard, he also wishes to donate money to the girls and their families, which is also very generous. We have no reason to be anything other than appreciative for his help.

What I think is that it should stop there.

A simple “Thank you, Charles Ramsey” really would suffice. Do we need shirts adorned with his face? No. Should we treat him with respect if we see him around town, and perhaps offer our thanks? Yes.

Why today’s culture has us fixated on people like this is beyond me. He helped the girls, he aided law enforcement, and he gave a statement to the media to inform the public of what was going on. After that, he should just return to being a private citizen and the rest of us should hope and pray the women receive justice for the crimes committed against them, and that they are able to somehow reconstruct normal lives after recovering from such a traumatic ordeal.

In-depth reporting about Ramsey’s “sordid past” are nothing but muckracking attempts meant to sensationalize a person who is currently in the spotlight. The media knows this man is popular, so they know stirring up conversation about him will increase their followers/web hits/viewers/readers. So thank you, Cleveland media*, for turning a private citizen into a spectacle.

Let’s just move on, folks. Nothing more to see here. Thank Ramsey for his help, and keep praying for justice and healing for the women.

*I’d also like to thank the media in Cleveland and on a broader level for the ridiculous crowding of these women as they are trying to recover. Crowding around their homes, shoving cameras at them in the hope of getting a statement, etc. It’s appalling.


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Pinterest, Meal Planning and me

Ok, I’m back at it, as evidenced by the copious amount of sweat oozing out of my body.

I woke at 6 this morning, strapped on my running shoes, and hit the pavement. I jogged when I felt like it and walked when I felt like it. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, because I still have fears about the state of my back.

It was nice to get outside and breathe fresh air and be active, even if I’m still slow slow slow. Slow is better than immobile, right? Right!

Once I shuffled back to my apartment, I rolled out the yoga mat and got to work. I didn’t do any yoga, mind you. Instead, I dove straight into a workout I found on pinterest last night.

It was brutal. I think by the end of the day, my body is probably going to fail. Seriously.

 

Workout

I¬†didn’t do the run part. And I threw in some pushups and dips, too. The fact that I retained enough energy to lift my arms to type this is impressive, quite honestly.

My back isn’t in agony, so I’ll call it a success. Even if I feel quite like death.

Considering I took a month off any sort of movement to recover from injury, this was probably a major win for me. But right now, I feel like the workout did me.

Send ice. And a nap. Thanks.


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Injuries, setbacks and frustration

I am often a patient person. I’m not one to lash out or have road rage or get worked up because I’m waiting in line or something like that. I have my moments, of course, where patience is harder to come by. In general, though, I think I’m pretty laid back.

But right now I am impatient. Frustrated, even.

My entire fitness regimen was completely derailed that day I was hit by a car. Of course, walking away with minimal injuries is a blessing, and I am incredibly thankful it wasn’t any worse. A month later and my back is still recovering. I shouldn’t expect anything different–I’m still getting chiropractic care, and serious sprains are no joke. The back muscles also support practically your entire body. Injuring those muscles, in a word, sucks. And you certainly can’t expect them to heal quickly.

So here I am. One month later, and finally back to the gym. Except… it’s like I had to start all over. Like I’ve never jogged in my life.

Aerobically, I don’t get winded very quickly, so I guess I retained some level of fitness. This is good. My legs, however, are like jelly. I can’t figure out why they’re taking this so hard. My back feels some strain, which I expect, and isn’t bad enough to make me feel like I’m pushing myself too hard. I have to assume that the general level of soreness is just made worse because my back hurts. Or something.

Well, at least I’m trying, right? I had to get back on the horse–er, treadmill–eventually. I just feel like it will be so far before I can reach any goals I had previously set. It frustrates me so much. I had high hopes of running a couple five-milers early this summer, but that doesn’t seem likely now. If I can run 3 by the time I had hoped to run 5, I’ll consider that a success.

And that ab workout I was doing? Try doing that with a sprained back. No chance. I’m afraid to touch weights, because any upper body workout I would attempt would be supported by my back as well. So, walking and jogging is about all I can manage–and it’s a slow walk and jog at that.

It’s disappointing, to say the least. And I wish I didn’t have to be patient about it.

Slow and steady wins the race?

Or something.

Oh well. Here’s to another C25K workout completed today. And even if I’m struggling, I’m still doing better than I was when I was laying in pain on the couch. So, progress.


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S#!& on my mind

These are a few scattered thoughts that have been on my mind lately. Enjoy. Or not. Whatever. They are in no particular order, and dedicated to my friend Damien who told me I should blog more.*

–I wish I had thought of Shit My Dad Says first. The things that come out of my father’s mouth are simply amazing. I am rather positive that I could make entire stand-up routines based solely on what my dad says to me. Example: After dental surgery on Monday, these delightful passages were among some of the first he uttered through his swollen cheeks:

  • “I sound like an 80-year-old homo with a lisp.”
  • “Wait. No. You know who I sound like? THAT GAY SLOTH FROM ICE AGE!”
  • “I started watching The L-Word on Netflix for the tits. I was like, ‘Yeah! Tits!’ Now the tits don’t even arouse me and I care about the story. What? Am I turning into a chick?”

For the record: My father is not nearly as homophobic as those quotes might suggest. In fact, he once told me he LOVES gay guys because they leave more women for him, except for the lesbians. BUT, he loves lesbians, too, because they’re “way hot.”

–Last week’s constant stream of major news made me simultaneously glad and disappointed I no longer work in the news media. On the glad side, the news was so distressing that it would be pretty upsetting to have to cover in any way. On the disappointed side, I miss being in an environment where it is encouraged and necessary to absorb as many facts about breaking news as possible. I couldn’t turn away from the coverage, as tragic as it all was.

I once told my boyfriend not to send me flowers at work, because being the center of attention would be embarrassing. Then he did it. I was mildly embarrassed for like a minute, but now I have really pretty flowers to look at so it’s OK now.** He also left a really funny card that I will probably keep forever.

Danielle,

Just figured I’d drop these off for you. It’s my way of showing I can occasionally be a decent boyfriend.

-Tony

–Speaking of my relationship, I must not be a horrible girlfriend. This thought actually came from my grandmother, as we were discussing Tony’s weekend work schedule; he works as a DJ every Friday and Saturday night. My grandmother said she thought most girls would get mad, and nag their boyfriends about how bored they are every weekend. I don’t do this. Partly because I really, truly do not mind being home alone on a weekend night. I’d rather have my boyfriend around, of course, but the alone time can be relaxing for me. I can be a homebody, so what? This Saturday I sat on the couch, read two books, and cuddled with my cat. It was cozy and relaxing and I loved it. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, I don’t like the idea of girls getting mad at their boyfriend because they’re bored when they’re not with him. Get a hobby. Make other friends. Whatever. In this day and age, there is no reason to be bored when you don’t have somebody else there to entertain you.

–What scares me most about Boston is that I imagine these scenarios before they happen more and more these days. Tony and I recently took a weekend trip to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We went to a Sabres game in Buffalo, and there was quite a bit of construction happening around the arena when we were there. As we were leaving, the very large crowd was funneling through a pretty tight space between construction work, and there was a bit of backup and waiting as the crowd tried to squeeze through. The sad thing is, one of the first thoughts I had was, “Gee, this would be an opportune time for someone to bomb us or start shooting into the crowd.”

Depressing thought? Absolutely. But is the thought itself depressing, or the fact that there have been so many instances of people attacking crowds that I can picture something like that happening so easily?

This is a thought I had just days before the bombing at the Boston Marathon. So clearly I am not alone in picturing these scenarios–the difference being, of course, that I would never consider engaging in such horror. But if someone like me sees these situations and thinks it, obviously the enemy does, too.

The world is getting so much scarier.

–I wish I could escape the feeling that I’m a prisoner in my own body.¬† Call it “unlucky.” Call it “accident prone.” Whatever it is, I’m always hurting. Of course, I got hit by a car walking across the street (I had a walk, she drove away, I’m fine and seeing a chiropractor), so back pain is certainly expected. It still stinks when you’re getting into a good exercise groove and it is all derailed. Insert whining here.

*I have a feeling that Damien won’t even see this. Prove me wrong, Damien. I dare you.
**Wordpress wasn’t letting me add the photo, so I had to link to it. Dumb.
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