Monday, June 11, 2012

Effort. Ugh.

It's not always sunshine and rainbows in relationships. This weekend, however, it was. 

So I've lived in Cincinnati for 21 years. It's one of those places that a lot of people like to bitch and complain about because it's a little bit conservative and for the most part, poorly ran. "This city sucks!" "I hate this city." "Why can't Cincinnati be more like (insert any larger metropolitan city here)?""There's nothing to do here!" "Cincinnati has no diversity." These are comments that are heard on the regular if you live here. In my younger years, this was a bandwagon that I not only rode, but I championed from time to time. In my defense, I am from New Orleans and grew up spending summers visiting family in California and New York. Cincinnati is a little bit different. Today, I say 
I Love Cincinnati!

See, the problem with me when I was younger, and the problem with people who jump in on the "Cincinnati sucks" party, is that we didn't know where to find the good stuff here. Either we've lived here all of our lives and think we know every nook and cranny here, or we're too lazy to explore the city that we live in and expect to find a customized itinerary full of entertainment waiting outside of our front doors every time we get the urge to get off the couch. There is tons to do in Cincinnati, you just have to make the effort to find it and then, you have to go do it.

So our weekend started off with a walk in Eden Park, which is a park that all Cincinnatians are aware of and have been to multiple times. It's one of the parks everyone takes for granted, but there is so much to do there. We made the effort, got up before work, and had a great morning.

Ian. All smiles.

My feet and an amazing view of Kentucky from the Cincinnati side of the river.

We had such a nice walk that we decided to go to one more park. Next, Devou Park which lives across the river in Kentucky.

Me enjoying yet another view of the city. This time it's Cincinnati from the Kentucky side.

We found this random piece of artwork in the park, being displayed by one of the art museums. Yes, Cincinnati has art museums- GASP! They have art AND culture there!!
That was day one. We spent $0, got in a little bit of exercise, did some exploring, and made fun of each other. (that's how we show each that we like each other) I went to work that day with a smile on my face feeling full on life and being excited to live in a city like Cincinnati, that has several beautiful parks, all within five to ten minutes of our house.

The next day, Ian, Gianni (my 14 year old), and I, got up and headed downtown. We took a three mile walk along the river. Again, all free. Again, learned new things about the city. And again, had lots of laughs. (Mainly because Ian and Gianni have decided that I am a hipster since I blog and want a bicycle. I prefer to be label free, thank-you-very-much.)

Ian and Gianni playing a game at Sawyer Point.
Waking up the next morning, we had plans to check out "City Flea". City Flea is a very small flea market located downtown in Over The Rhine. Over The Rhine is a part of the city that is being revived and is the new trendy, urban place to open a restaraunt or specialty shop. I became super excited again that this is the city I live in, after seeing all of the creative art and creations that people who live in our city are involved with.

The only thing we bought was lunch. Next time...
So again, the reason that I can say that I love my city is because I chose to get up and make a day checking out all of the interesting and fun stuff the city has to offer.

Which made me start to think about cities and effort and relationships... (ah, here is where it all comes together).

So you can choose to live in a city or town and cry and whine everyday about how much you hate it and trick yourself into believing that if you lived in a hipper city, all of your lives problems will be solved. Or you can make the effort (ugh.), to get out and dig a little. Find the things that make you happy and leave you feeling full. Of course you will hate where you live if you only seek out all of the bad and messed up things (every city has them, even New York, Miami, and L.A.)

Relationships can work the same way. If I were to get up everyday and complain about Ian's teeny tiny beard hairs all over the sink, his lack of attention to where he leaves his shoes, and the fact that he ALWAYS turns the TV to a sports program as soon as he gets a hold of any remote control, I would be miserable. And I'd probably start to resent him. And I'd want to move to a new relationship that looks all sparkly and magical. But since I choose to be in a relationship with him, I instead seek out the good. There is way more good than bad in Ian. He is smart, kind hearted and is always trying to find new ways to surprise me. I also make the effort (ugh.) to learn new things about him. Some are a little disconcerting to say the least; most are pleasant surprises. Relationships take work and daily effort (ugh.) to keep them alive. I'm not saying it should constantly be strenuous and tired some (it's a relationship, not litigation) and when they hurt more than they make you feel happy, maybe it is time to move on. Just know that no relationship is perfect. We are humans after all, and being flawed is a trait that we all share. And sometimes, you have to dig a little to get to the good part. Just like when you get a burrito from Chipotle and all of the good stuff is crammed together and hidden. You have to work a little to get to it, but it is so worth the work!

And to the people that insist that Cincinnati is the devil's crotch, and refuse to take part in the culture that is here (yes, it really is), here is a bit of advice for you:


Yes, it's that simple. Go be miserable in some other city where I'm sure, once again, you'll be the only intelligent good looking person with any fashion sense that knows what "real" music is. Best of luck to you.

As for me, I'll stay here in Cincinnati. Home of the Red's. Home of my heart.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Why I Love Social Media...

My favorite part about social media? The fact that I don't miss a thing, even when I'm sleeping. And, thanks to Ian, I don't miss out on what I'm doing when I sleep either. This is the tweet I woke up to today: (I am "ImJustBree" and Ian is "iewallace".)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ian Hates "The View", So He Installed Speakers in our Bathroom.

A lesson in compromise and adjustment.

After almost three years of living together, Ian and I have our morning "dance" down. I know when he is a little grumpier in the mornings and he knows when I'm a little more neurotic. I know when I can go in for morning cuddle time, and when I should just bring him a water and ibuprofen instead. It's a dance that we have perfected and I highly recommend learning your dance and practicing your dance. Starting the day off on the right foot makes a huge difference in your day to day demeanor. So our usual go-to morning dance looks something like this:

That's me on the laptop with a coffee, Ian with the iPad, and the cords on the wall are cords from our wall mounted TV that drive me crazy and that Ian was supposed to find a way to neatly conceal and organize. He's bought the cord organizer and concealer and it's been sitting in it's packaging on top of the wicker shelf in the corner for MONTHS.

 We make an conscious effort to not fight, argue, or annoy each too much in the mornings. The biggest "debate" we have is which one of us is going to get out of bed first to let Bijou, our dog, out. This is what she looks like when waiting for us to make that decision:

She is very serious in the morning.

Before Ian and I lived together, I had a morning routine where the TV and TV programs played a large role. When I would wake up, the TV would go on and stay on until I left the house for the day. Depending on the time of morning I would wake up, the channel would be on either the morning local news on the channel that the Today Show came on (I have a slightly unhealthy love for the Today Show, Matt Lauer, and Ann Curry), The Today Show, or The View. I would turn the bedroom TV and the living room TV onto the same channel so that as I walk in and out of rooms during my morning, I wouldn't miss anything. My morning routine, which has been the same for 12 years, was "adjusted" when Ian and I decided to share a home together.

Since we keep different schedules, I would usually be awake and functioning way before Ian would be. In respect to my new roomie, I would tip toe around the house and be as quiet as could be in the mornings.

Fast forward to about two years later, I decided that I needed to have my programs on in the morning when I get ready. On all of the TVs in the house. I respectfully kept the volume lower on the TV in the bedroom, however the volume on the TV in the living room needed to be at a level so that I could hear it in the bathroom while I got ready for the day. And then one day, we had this conversation:

Ian:  Why do you watch this crap?
Bree: What crap?
I: The View and The Today Show?
B: It's not crap, it's entertaining.
I: No, it's convoluted advice and information that's brainwashing you.
B: Really?

That day, I learned that Ian cannot stand the voices and opinions of the women on The View while they all talk over each other and act like their own opinion is the only opinion and the correct opinion at that. He feels that I, and every other person that watches the show, become misinformed and basically "dumber". I explain that I, for the most part, do not agree with majority of the conversations that are had on The View. Let's face it, Whoopi Goldberg is grumpy and rude, Joy Behar is grumpy and rude, Sherri Shephard is misinformed, Barbara Walters is getting nuttier by the day, and Elizabeth Hasselback feels the need to argue with everyone because she is the only conservative voice on the show. And I hate her voice. However the show is called "The View" and I watch it for that reason. I want to hear other people's point of views on different subjects, even if I disagree with said point of view.  I also watch it for the "Hot Topics" and guest interviews.

Anyways, one day, Ian comes up with a brilliant idea. What if he could find a way to stream the sound from the TV in the living room into the bathroom? That way he wouldn't have to hear the women of The View and I won't feel like I'm missing anything. What about a speaker connected from our surround sound placed in our bathroom? Could it be? The perfect solution? How to kill two birds with one speaker? Sometimes I think I live with a genius!

So that is the birth story of our speaker in the bathroom. It does a great job and everyone is happy and we all live in a yellow submarine beneath the sea. It's true. Minus the submarine and sea part. And sometimes I forget to tell company that we have a speaker in the bathroom and it totally freaks them out when out of nowhere, they hear a voice from behind the toiletries. I need to work on remembering to warn them, maybe even create some sort of signage. "Do Not Be Frightened By the Person Speaking From Behind the Hand Towels."

It is also one more reminder on the importance of compromise, adjustment, and being non selfish in your relationship. Instead of bitching about what was annoying him, Ian saw the chance to tell me that my choice in television programs sucks, and he adjusted by finding a compromise. Instead of rolling his eyes and making smart ass comments every morning, he used his little balding noggin and created a solution that makes us both happy. And our guests think it's really cool that they can listen to music while on the pot. Sweet.

Look for those chances to make your loved one happy. It doesn't take much. It took Ian 15 minutes to install a speaker in the bathroom. And those 15 minutes he spent that day, make me happy every morning, every day. Thanks babe!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hotdogs Twice in One Day....

And why being a Red's fan for us isn't just a hobby; it's a lifestyle.

I am a fan of the Cincinnati Red's. Ian is a worshipper of the Cincinnati Red's. I will be completely honest right now and let you know that before dating Ian, I was what Ian would refer to as a "cheerleader" when it came to sports. (According to Ian, being a "cheerleader" refers to the so-called sports fans that only show an interest in a team is when that team is doing well, or because your father-brother-uncle-grandfather-whathaveyou was a fan so you feel that you must be a fan as well. A cheerleader says they're a fan but when asked why, they have no real answer of substance. Nothing bothers Ian more than trying to have a discussion about sports with a "cheerleader".) Before we even started dating, I attended a Red's game with him and quickly saw his level of passion for the game; it's intense. Almost as intense as his disdain for the Chicago Cubs. See, along with this fiery love for the Red's comes a hatred and disgust for all things Cubs. This includes the Cubs as a franchise, Cubs players, Cubs fans, most of the citizens of Chicago, and I'm willing to bet the newborns to the Black Bears at the zoo are on that list too. His fervor for the Red's was born from spending evenings on the farm that he grew up on (Yes, he grew up on a real live farm- like the kind with animals and chores.) listening to the Red's play on the radio with his grandfather. Not only does he carry the history of the team in his memory, but he also carries the sentimental value of the sport and the team that he shared with his grandfather in his heart. (Those of you that know Ian, know that this is about as mushy as this man gets. Ever. Unless it involves vodka because for some reason, this man that can drink an entire body of whiskey solo, cries like an abandoned infant when he gets a couple drinks of vodka in him.) That being said, he has a ton of sports memorabilia and it's not the kind that holds value to anyone but him. You would never catch Ian waiting in line to get an autograph from a Red's player, just because they are newest and hottest player of the season. Half of his autographed balls are signed by players that I've never heard of, but they mean something to him. I even allowed him to have a section in the living room to neatly display some of his collection:

(Notice the shelves to the right with bobble heads and other Red's knick-knacks. Ian will be really excited about my use of the word "knick-knacks" to describe his treasures.)

So you get it- we're fans of the Red's. We even live so close to Great American Ball Park, that we can walk there in about twenty minutes from our front door. We go to every game that our schedules and our pocket books will allow. Last night was one of those nights. Ian decided to cook out before we went; hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries- a ball park menu if you will. He was really excited :

In case I've haven't mentioned it, Ian is old. He talks on his phone via a mic and headphones.

We met up with Ian's bother and some friends and watched a great game. Mike Leake hit a home run which was followed by two more home runs and we won the game and everyone left happy.

Ian's forced smile is NOT a visual indicator of our evening.

So I named this post "Hot Dogs Twice in One Day" so I should probably talk about why. See, after the game, Ian and I went out for drinks. We went to one of our regular spots, visited with friends, had several drinks and a wonderful time, and headed home around 2am. Our cab driver was a small, kind, old man from New York that was a REAL baseball fan. Ian and I had a great conversation with him on the way home (If you frequent cabs, this is a rarity, I don't care which city you live in) and Ian gave him $20 on a $8 cab ride. It was just one of those nights where you feel like you're in a movie or one of those made up shows on the CW because everything felt good and right in the world. When we walked in the house, I did my usual late night "I'm hungry" whine and sad face. "I'll cook. What would you like?" he asks. I didn't care what he cooked because anything that I didn't have to cook sounded absolutely delicious to me. So he cooked while I did my evening skincare routine, which takes about 20 minutes because I am determined to stay looking like I'm in my twenties forever. I put on my jammies, climb into bed (As a general rule, we don't eat in bed. I'm a neat freak- like I make the bed every single day- and food in bed is just gross and weird. But, we had been drinking which leads to rule bending.) and wait for my meal that is being lovingly prepared for me by Jameson filled boyfriend. Now here's the part that makes up for all of the nights where I went to bed feeling unsure about Ian's feelings towards me. It makes up for all of the times when in anger, he's said something hurtful to me that has made a permanent home in the back of my mind. And it makes up for all of the times that after slaving over cleaning the bathroom (I loathe cleaning the bathroom), I walk into teeny tiny beard hairs left all over the sink. What amazing thing had he done to make me want to want to permanently forget all of these indescrestions?

 Ian made corn dogs and I HATE corn dogs.

 Reason being, eating meat off of a stick grosses me out. What I do love is mini corn dogs. Those are stick free and bite sized and I can eat them with a fork if I choose to which minimizes grease and crumbs on the hands which makes me really, really happy. So instead of making corn dogs to eat because that's what he wanted, and telling me to just eat around the stick, he removed the corn dog from the stick and cut it into little bite sized pieces. A small gesture to many, but to me, it's a huge display of who the man that I am building a life with really is and what I mean to him. See, if you aren't with someone that listens and knows all of your little quirks, then there is still lots of work to do. And if your partner doesn't do "the little things" than what good are all of "the big things"? I love that even though Ian was kind of drunk and pretty tired, he took the time to not only cook, but prepare food in a way to make me happy. Pulling that corn dog off of the stick and cutting it up into bite sized pieces is something that most people would do for their three year old and that's only because you have to. Ian did it for me without me asking because he knew it would make me happy. If there's one thing I'm learning about men and relationships is that when a man is in a relationship with a woman that he really loves and cares about, then HE is happy when SHE is happy. Sometimes the problem lies in the fact that as girls, we've been conditioned to always seek out things to "fix" and "nurture" instead of just accepting and receiving love and just being happy for a moment. Happiness is a choice and when us as women are constantly seeking happiness instead of choosing happiness, it can sometimes make the man in our life feel like he's doing something wrong. Like he's not good enough. And men, contrary to popular belief, are very sensitive.

I know, all of this from just a converted corn dog?

To me, it just says that he listens. And he cares. And he's never going to be too drunk or too tired to do the little things to make me happy. And who doesn't want that? 

I'm not saying that we are perfectly happy, or perfect, or happy, or any of those other words that people like to describe their ideal relationship as. And we still have tons to work on. I am saying that I am at a point where I recognize and appreciate these small offerings of how he feels about me that he shows me in our everyday lives. Small offerings that may get overlooked had I not taken the time to choose to be happy and recognize all of the good and happy in my life.

I hope someone converts a corn dog for all of you one day...


Friday, May 18, 2012

"Come home when you get home..."

...and other quotes that come about from "Free Fridays".

On Fridays, Ian and I have an arrangement that I like to refer to as "Free Fridays". We both work on Fridays and it is our one night a week that we do not have to check in with each other when we make plans. He is "free" to do what he pleases and not worry about inviting me and I am "free" to do the same. We both have two very different Friday evening norms.

I come home from work on most Fridays and prepare for spa night. I do my nails, give myself a blowout, watch girlie-relationship-propaganda-movies, and talk to my pets in baby talk voices. I get the house to myself and don't have to entertain anyone but myself. It looks something like this:

 Ian has a different kind of routine. 

When Ian gets off work on Fridays, he heads straight to one of our regular bars, "JerZees". One of our friends is a part owner there, another friend bartends there, and another friend DJs there (Which Ian loves because even though he is a white, middle aged man, he has an undying love for all things old school hip hop. Not Biggie and Tupac, more like Gangstar and Eric B. & Rakim. "Real deal", as Ian would say. Since our friend is the DJ and a fellow hip hop enthusiast, Ian thinks he has his own human juke box for the night.) He is very much at home there and even though he usually doesn't arrive until midnight and the bar closes at 2:30am, he goes in with the mission to "get sassy" and proceeds to drink his face off. He is not a beer drinker. He prefers teeny tiny cocktails with no ice that you drink really fast. Others refer to these as "shots". The favorites are Blackhaus, Jameson, Rumplemintz, and American Honey. By the time 2:30am rolls around, Ian is in good shape. And this is when the fun begins.

The "fun" takes all types of forms; phone calls, texts, and the good old face to face conversation when he gets home. The things that come out of this mans mouth, arrive with such conviction and sincerity, that the casual bystander may not realize his level of intoxication. I always know though. Case in point: One Friday night I meet my girlfriends for drinks and he gets home before I do. As this is not a common occurrence for us, he calls me (which never happens on "Free Fridays", but there aren't really set rules either). Ring, ring, ring, ring...

Bree: Hello?
Ian: Hey babe. Everything okay?
B: Yep. Just out with the girls. Everything okay with you?
I: Oh yeah. I was just checking on you. You have fun though. Just come home when you get home.
B: Really?
I: Yes. I love you. Late.

Come home when you get home? Huh? Because I normally come home when I leave home? Or because I needed the okay to enter my home once I got to my home? Of course I shared this with my girlfriends (Nikki & Rachel whom you'll meet later). And we shared a really loud laugh together and a shot of Jameson in sweet little Ian's honor.

On another "Free Friday", I was awake on the couch watching TV when Ian got home. And the conversation went something like this:

Bree: Hey babe, how was your night?
Ian: It was good! I hung out with Morgan and we had a really good time.
B: That's good.
I: Yeah, we talked about velour pants and food and I'm actually pretty hungry.
B: Are you?
I: Yes. Why don't you ever serve any appetizers?
B: Really?

Why don't you ever serve any appetizers? Did he want some spinach dip and potstickers? Was I supposed to offer him a look at my drink specials? I've already explained that I don't ever ever ever under any circumstances cook. Let alone make "appetizers". And really, who does? The best part about this statement was the look on his face of dead seriousness and the wait for a response. Like I was going to have a response. This is a picture of him on this night:

No, he didn't wear a beater to the bar. He did wear one under his shirt and felt the need to take said shirt off mid "Why don't you ever serve any appetizers?". Notice the "why" positioning of the hands.

Free Fridays are a highlight of my week, usually. In the past (the crazy Jerry Springer-esque past I made reference to in my about me section), they have turned really ugly. The best part about a relationship is the growing part. If you aren't constantly learning and changing and growing in your relationship, good luck! We put ourselves on the fast track to all of this growing when we moved in together so quickly. And it's turning out okay for us. We chose to compromise and adjust because we love each other so much (I know it sounds so corny and boring and trust me, I feel corny saying it- but it's the truth). Life is all about choice. You choose who your friends are, what career you'd like to try, what you're going to wear for the day, and what you're going to do with your "Free Friday". Have a great one!