Assimilation complete

It’s a subtle shift, really. You don’t even realize it’s happening.

The language changes first: “they” becomes “we.”

It all slips off the cliff from there.

Everything that was annoying — the “O-H” screams, the carefully posed foursome photos, the random “Go Bucks!” greetings from strangers — becomes charming. You buy a red shirt. You buy your dog a red shirt. You know the names of the guy throwing the ball and the guy catching the ball and the guy smashing his flesh against someone else to make it all happen.

I did it, and I’m not sorry. I fully jumped on the Ohio State bandwagon and adopted this university — and the city that barely contains it — as my own. Monday night I watched the Buckeyes nimbly claim the national championship and I felt my heart swell. The next morning I listened to a recap on the radio and fought tears.

Yes, I hate me, too.

But here’s the deal: I have lived in several states, none of which has a team that actually wins. (We’re going to forget about Wisconsin here because that was college and also because we are going to forget about Wisconsin.) I rooted for the Vikings. I tried to support the Bengals. I gave up. I forgot all of football’s rules, and then I guess all the rules changed.

But now I don’t have to be disappointed! I get to see a team — MY TEAM! — win!

And so I’m not ashamed. I’m not doing an O-H-I-O photo, either. But still. Go Bucks. Go sports!

Another bad idea: DIY red hair

Sigh. Pics to come.

UPDATE: Well, I guess I’ll post a pic, but it turns out dying your hair (badly) is a completely dull and routine mid-life crisis move that does nothing but give the people around you an opportunity to tell you that you’re looking particularly ugly with your hair like that.

I think it’s time to step it up, which means tattoos or piercing or limb removal. My boyfriend suggested I go crazy and dye my hair brown, which I’m going to take as a hint (and promptly ignore, but whatever).

Anyway, sorry to disappoint, but disappointment is the currency here at LEAB (the name of the blog; I have no idea) and so here you go, reddish hair and the sad resignation that we are who we are, no matter how many times we repaint the picture.



Destroying the kitchen! (THE INTERNET DEMANDS IT)

It is not enough just to live. It is not enough to be surrounded by four walls and a roof that only leaks a little at the seams and to fall asleep safe with the knowledge that it will take an especially strong boot to kick in the front door and take the Xbox that was worth something three years ago. It’s not enough to have cabinets that hold dishes accumulated over two decades of poor taste. Never mind that those cabinets work. Never mind that someone carefully selected them and assembled them and admired how they glowed there beneath the fluorescent light that beamed like Jesus smiles from the ceiling.

They needed to go. The Internet said so.

I moved in with my boyfriend recently and decided — in a move so uncharacteristic that I retch as I admit this — that I was one of those sledgehammer-wielding HDTV DIY ladies. I could measure things! I could paint! I could replace electric socket covers! I could paint!

I became an interior design expert in days. Which is how I came to decide that the kitchen cabinets just weren’t working. After we’d painted ceilings and walls and bought new lighting and replaced old blinds and said the word “treatments” while referring to windows, I took a look at our tiny kitchen and its butterscotch cabinets and shook my head. No. Something had to be done here.


He gets to stay anonymous. This is not his fault. Behold, the Before.

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Sick daze

I used to power through a cold. Just load myself up with meds and slog through the workday, conducting interviews where my questions made no sense. I’d simply hit the mute button during a coughing fit. But I am old now. Old people take sick days, and not the fun kind. Old people lay on the couch and pray to die while watching the movies on Netflix that no one actually paid to see in the theater. Old people sweat and groan and find that the refrigerator is miles away.

Old people do sick in the ugliest manner possible. In the dark. In glasses. In the clothes I wore yesterday and never managed to pry off my hacking, infested body. Covered in crumbs.


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Let’s hope for a quick recovery. You people deserve better.

Up close with a competitive eater


Back in my entertainment reporting days, I somehow landed on the absolutely disgusting competitive-eating beat. Cincinnati had embraced the sport, and it seemed as though every other restaurant was offering a gut-busting challenge: obscene burritos, exploding gyros, pizzas bigger than coffee tables, submarine sandwiches you could float in.

Over time, I befriended the person who was gobbling up all the local eating crowns — Joe LaRue, a massive, surprisingly gentle dude in Kentucky who just so happens to love food. Joe’s a native New Yorker and a former rising star in the competitive eating circuit who got the boot for participating in non-Major League Eating-sanctioned events. (For all that sloppy hot dog eating, the Eater’s World is a tightly controlled one.) Joe was hurt by the dismissal, deeply. But he kept eating.

Which is how it came to be that one morning, I sat with Joe and his girlfriend as he attempted — and in a rare twist, failed — to eat the 3-pounds-ground-beef-6-fried-eggs-12-strips-bacon-12-slices-cheese burger in 30 minutes or less at Joe’s Diner in Over-the-Rhine. I wrote about it for Metromix and didn’t eat for a day. I was going through some old photos this morning, and I found my record of that day, and I thought you might like to see this.

Let us explore the emotions of the competitive eater on a day in which he does not win.

Joe. Burger. No biggie.

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Watching the kid get married

Reblogging this because it’s one of my favorites…

I met Ginny when she was 12. I was exactly 10 years and 9 days older. She had long brown hair and lived in a stack of bricks that functioned as government housing in the middle of Kansas. I’d moved to town a few months ago for my first job as a newspaper reporter and was looking for a friend.

There she was, in a pile of applications to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

She’d barely smiled for the Polaroid. Her questionnaire answers were bizarre, irreverent, winking at this entire match-making process. The only truth in the paperwork was that she liked to read and write. This was a strange kid. I couldn’t wait to meet her.

We went to Pizza Hut that first night. She wanted pepperoni, I think. Maybe I made that decision. She barely said a word, just stared at me from across the booth. She ate shyly, chewing behind a napkin. I asked her a bunch of questions, and the answer was almost always a shrug. She looked at my work pants and my thick black pea coat and determined that I was a boring grown-up who talked too much.

I drove home that night feeling old, wondering if I’d made a mistake.

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