Good Times - 4th of July

Friday, 10 July 2015
My mom is a rock star. She booked rooms for our family in the Netherlands Plaza Hotel (Hilton) in Downtown Cincinnati with access to the VIP lounge. We drove down on the 4th to watch the Reds game and see the fireworks show afterwards in the Great American Ballpark.

Mom, Dannen, his girlfriend Haylee, Dad, me, and my fiancĂ© James drove down together and stopped by the MadTree Brewing to meet my long time friends Kevin and Joanna and their awesome daughter Lilly for a couple of brews. It was so fun to catch up and see Lilly growing up! It seems like she was just a tiny baby last year. Kevin and I met when I worked in Knoxville at WATE-TV in 2001. I was a reporter he was a photographer and editor. We then had the opportunity to work together at WKRC-TV in Cincinnati (that's where he met the beautiful Joanna) for a few years as well. 

After seeing Kev, Joanna, and Lilly, my parents, bro, and our guests cruised down to the riverfront and checked into the Hilton. If you get a chance to go, don't miss the amazing Art Deco details. The Orchids restaurant shows some fantastic examples. From there, we tried The Blind Pig. We loved the spot for the location and especially enjoyed the patio overlooking the river. 

Next up was the stadium. I have loved the Great American Ballpark since I lived in downtown Cincinnati. I would walk over after a day at work (I worked the morning shift) and get a "businessman's special" ticket for half price and listen to the crack of the bat. Dad landed excellent tickets behind home plate for us for the 4th. We were only slightly bummed that the Reds didn't play that well. (They lost to the Brewers.)

James and I agreed that besides spending time with people that we love, the best part of the night was the fireworks show! From our vantage point, the sparkles were perfect. The show was designed at the right explosion height for Reds fans and it seemed like they were shot directly off of the river just for us! 

I hope you had a lovely 4th! There were some "super" fans in the stadium who celebrated a bit more publicly. I was envious.

Hello, 36

Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Today is my birthday and it will be the sixth year that I’ve thrown a “party” for myself. Tonight a few people are coming over to our home in Columbus to have a beverage and finger foods. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous – 75 and sunny and I’m going to set up the back deck so people can hang out there as well.

This year will be fairly low-key compared to parties in the past. I somewhat perfected the “backyard” birthday party. I would get a keg of something “decent” each year (Sam Adam’s Summer Ale) and make pretty little bites to eat. We would also have a fire in the fire pit and people seemed to enjoy it.

I am of the opinion that birthdays should be celebrated. People have different ways that they may want to celebrate but hey – you survived another year on this great earth. Why not mark the occasion with something special? My favorite way to celebrate is to have people that I love near me to laugh, catch up, and make memories. (If there happens to be champagne then that’s a bonus!)

Last year around this time I wrote a post about turning 35. Looking over it, I noticed that the general take away from the rambling was that I am more comfortable in my own skin. (Other people’s opinions about me matter less.) I guess that sort of happens to everyone as we age.

What have I learned this year? Hmmm. I guess I’ve had a few moments where I thought everything was absolutely dire. Horrid, going down the tubes, over, appropriate to just throw in the towel. Then… the next day a solution would sort of appear beneath the fog of the situation. It takes great patience to not react to something that seems devastating but that’s what I learned. Things are never as bad as they seem. Courage and positive thinking are much more useful than mental surrender. That sounds clichĂ© but I will spend time reminding myself of this as I spend two months in Pakistan as a Fulbright scholar. 36 will be a great age!