Yesterday, I neglected to mention one place I go when my soul needs soothing. It’s particularly on my mind as I sit in the Milwaukee airport, awaiting my connection. Florida will likely always be “home” to me, whether it’s because I spent 25 years there or because my entire family is there or because I will fiercely defend it against all of the alligator and Florida Man jokes. (I can make those jokes, but a non-Floridian can’t; you get it.)
So after 9 hours of travel tonight, I’ll spend the next six days with my family back home. We’re celebrating my baby cousin’s graduation — and while I know he’s a genius, he’s not actually an infant; he’s 22 — plus the bonus celebration of Mother’s Day. I’ll catch up with hometown friends and squeeze my nieces and try new beers with Brother and watch my SIL in awe as she parents #likeaboss.
And while I don’t have a formal WO collage for you to peruse, I thought you might enjoy my favorite song about home. It was the first dance at my hometown friends’ wedding five years ago, and it still rings true.
I’ve had a wonderful week this far with my family in Florida, from snuggling my newborn niece to accompanying my toddler niece in baby ballet class and more.
Seeing my family just a few times a year has reinforced the importance of being present with them when we’re together. I even purposely left my laptop in SF, in an attempt to disconnect from work and other obligations as much as possible. It should come as no surprise, then, that this week’s obsessions are short and sweet.
Hold your loved ones tight, if you’re able. Call them, video chat them, send them letters… whatever you can to remind them that family comes first.
And speaking of firsts, here’s baby Lillian’s first Snapchat story. She’s clearly already a baby genius. I’ll be back at it again next week with our regularly scheduled WO programming.
- “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call”: I can’t remember a movie that had me laughing for nearly the entire time, but this reboot has four fantastic leading ladies, a bunch of throwback references and some awesome eye candy. That’s what I call a winning combo.
- A Visit Back East: It’s only been six months since I was last in Florida, but so much has changed in that time and I can’t wait to get there this weekend. If I spend the entire time squishing my niece’s cheeks and watching “Zootopia” with my other niece, then I think I’ll be just fine.
- “The Night Of”: I did not need another show to watch. Really, I didn’t. But a co-worker and another friend each told me how much I needed to see this one, and I caved. I’m glad I did… the premiere left me breathless from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this miniseries unfolds.
- “This Is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris f. Rihanna: I honestly could not care less about the drama surrounding Taylor’s songwriting contributions (or not) to this song. And I really, really didn’t want to like it, because, Rihanna. But damn, it’s an earworm. And despite my distaste for most EDM, this one really gets me pumped.
It’s been an emotional week for my home state, particularly for the city of Orlando. I woke up Sunday to my family and friends there marked as “Safe” on Facebook, but there are more than 50 families who weren’t as fortunate. I’m still collecting my thoughts into coherent sentences for a separate post, but until then, here are some things to help us smile through the pain:
- Hallee’s Birthday: Hallee Sorenson is a vibrant young woman, who happens to be autistic and celebrated her 18th birthday alone last year after invited guests failed to show. Her cousin Becky has now invited all of Facebook to send Hallee birthday wishes via mail. If you can take a few minutes to brighten this young lady’s day, cards can be mailed to:
34 Wellesley Way
Bangor, ME 04401
- Magz Retires: The mother of all teachers — my mother — retired last week after 32 years of teaching foreign languages and life lessons. She spent 22 years at the same high school and has inspired countless students throughout her tenure. True to form, she’s still working hard this week and grading AP tests in Cincinnati. There’s a large margarita on the rocks (no salt) with her name on it when I see her next month.
- T-Rex Competes on “America Ninja Warrior”: The T-Rex costume has provided plenty of laughs in various viral videos, but this one might just take the cake. I don’t think I could complete any of these obstacles in regular clothes, let alone an inflatable costume. Spoiler alert: T-Rex’s tiny arms may be his downfall.
- NYC Gay Men’s Chorus on “GMA”: Driving out the darkness with a message of positivity, my friend Marc and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus shone brightly on Monday’s broadcast of “Good Morning America.” Their message of pride and joy to comfort the grieving Orlando and LGTBQ communities is truly mesmerizing.
On a final note, as Father’s Day approaches: If you’re fortunate enough to have a relationship with your dad, please call or spend time with him — anything you can — on Sunday. A close friend of mine just lost her father to cancer, 50+ children in Orlando won’t be celebrating and there are things so much bigger in this world than our stubborn differences and disputes.
I’ve been in Florida the past few days, and despite the suffocating humidity and daily thunderstorms, my heart is very full. One thing is for sure: Precious time with friends and family is priceless.
- The Girl on the Train: I’ve been meaning to read this heavily reviewed thriller for a while, and a six-hour flight did just the trick. Full of twists and turns, it blurs the lines of reality and alcohol-induced visions. I could hardly put it down and highly recommend it to fellow bookworms.
- Ford’s Garage: This restaurant opened recently in Brandon, FL and is kitschy fun for the whole family. From onion rings served on funnels to a huge tire sink stand, the decor is unmatched. And the food? Simply awesome.
- High School Reunion: This weekend finally brings the event I’ve helped plan for a year — dun dun dun! The weather doesn’t want to cooperate, but I’m still confident we’ll have a great time bullshitting and remembering all the stupid stuff we did. Take that, Christy Masters Christiansen.
- “Poor Unfortunate Souls” – The Little Mermaid: Obviously, my niece is obsessed with Disney movies. And the cutest thing I ever did see was her bobbing along to their soundtracks. This song is particularly entertaining — she waits quietly all the way through until Ariel sings and then belts it like a diva.
You know it’s been a crazy couple of weeks at work when you have recurring dreams … about work. The only way to combat such nonsense? Let’s start with these four highlights:
- “The Great Gatsby”: Despite touting its soundtrack as the best of 2013, I hadn’t seen the Baz Luhrmann masterpiece until recently. It’s a visual spectacle and takes F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s narrative to explosive, extravagant new heights.
- Aziz Ansari’s Love Advice: I can’t wait to read the undoubtedly hilarious writing debut from Ansari, called “Modern Romance.” Till then, BuzzFeed graciously cooridinated a Q&A sesh that doesn’t disappoint.
- Warriors Win!: I was thrilled to have both of my Bay Areas in the playoffs recently, but sadly the Lightning didn’t pull through against the Blackhawks. Thankfully, the Warriors brought home a trophy for the first time in 40 years — what a sight to see!
- “GDFR” – Flo Rida f. Sage the Gemini & Lookas: This song should be in the dictionary next to “pump-up jam.” Whether you’re hitting the gym or the bar, you just feel like you can take on the world after hearing this one.