Greg is Weird

On April 30, 2015, my stepfather passed away.

I still haven’t fully processed it, because I can’t believe it’s real.

And sometimes I do remember it’s real, and it’s like a punch in the gut. And yet, I smile because I don’t want to make anyone else cry, even though I’m crying inside.

My mom and Greg started dating in 1995. He’d actually written her a note asking her out, so I tease her about it all the time saying he gave her a note that said “Do you like me? Check yes or no.”

Apparently, it worked. They got married in June of 2000. They eloped to Vegas, which was not even surprising, knowing them. I was so happy for them.

From the beginning, he treated me like his own. He knew the perfect gifts to give me for holidays. He and my mom flew me out to Las Vegas for my 30th birthday and paid for everything. It was crazy. He’d give me a $10 bill and tell me to get him a pop and keep the change. It was years later that I realized that was his way of giving me spending money, because while you’re gambling, beverages are free! And he was always gambling! He gave me money for the slot machines. I am not a risk-taker, so I’d win $2-3 and then quit. I was richer when I came back than I was when I landed.

I remember one Christmas, he woke my mom and me up at 3am because he was SO EXCITED for Christmas to start. And then the power went out. We opened gifts at 3am by candlelight and I was so scared the wrapping paper would catch a flame and we’d burn down the whole building.

He walked me down the aisle when I married Chris. I remember being a bit nervous to ask him. My mom said he got choked up. Then he said he’d be “honored” to do it.

He said “oinky the badoinky” instead of “poop.” He always made a sad crying noise when I had to leave Ohio and go back to Chicago or wherever.

He fed the animals that come up on their balcony. He bought entire loaves of bread for the squirrels and birds, and now they come to the door and look in, waiting. The past few days, it’s been Aidan and me feeding them. My mom will take over when we head back.

He spoiled my mom rotten. Whatever she wanted and he could get for her, he did. I could have loved him for that alone.

I never realized it, but now I know that he would have done anything for me, had I only asked. I just never had to ask.

But I guess I can’t ask him to come back.

RIP Greg. I know you’re playing the most awesome poker game and winning ALL the money! Thank you for being a dad to me and thank you for taking such good care of my mommy.

everywhere and nowhere.

Ronni

Well, it’s been a busy 12 days. I’ve had two acting classes since I last wrote, had a cold and gotten over it, and traveled to Los Angeles.

Acting is going well. My scene partner and I were really in the flow and we got some really nice compliments on our last two performances. And then, last Tuesday, the teacher said he’d want to do a One Act of the play and use me and Gabe. That, my friends, is super high praise, and almost brought me to tears. The best part is that I had so much fun working on the scene. I loved my character, I loved the situation, I loved working with Gabe. I am finally learning, slowly but surely, to let go. To take big risks. To go BALLS OUT. It’s paying off and reminding me why I went back into acting.

I’ve been assigned a new scene and a new partner. This one is super challenging and I’m really going to have to dig to figure out what the heck. But you know what? Bring it. Bring it all the way on. I’m learning how to work and research and analyze. This can’t do anything but help me. So… God help me.

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Earlier this week, I did something crazy! I flew all the way to Los Angeles to attend a special screening of the movie Divergent. The screening was through All It Takes, a charity started by Shailene Woodley and her mom that helps train children to become leaders. I wish I’d have had camps like that when I was younger!

I figured if I was going all the way out there, I was going big, so I sprung for the VIP package so I could meet some of the actors from the movie! I was so excited I could barely sleep! I got a new outfit and everything.

I was absolutely heartbroken that the main actor I wanted to see–Theo James–did NOT attend the after party, and I’m still not over it. I really, really, really wanted to meet him. You guys have no idea. Maybe you do. Whatever. But honestly, the number of near misses I have with him is getting out of hand. I’d like to just MEET HIM ALREADY OK Universe???

I did see him introduce the movie which… meh. I wanted to actually talk to him. Maybe someday. *sigh* I mean seriously, Universe. Get on that please and thank you.

Anyway, I did get to meet many other actors from the movie, including Shailene Woodley, who is the star. She is a total sweetheart. She seemed so excited that I’d traveled from Chicago for the event. Gave me tons of hugs. It was so cute when she introduced herself to me, as if I didn’t know who she was.

Me and Shailene Woodley
me and shailene woodley
she’s a sister on that priestess path

I met Christian Madsen, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Amy Newbold, and the author of the series, Veronica Roth. I had the most fun talking to Christian, Amy, and Shai. I also met Shai’s mom, Lori, who is just as huggy and sweet as her daughter is.

(I apologize in advance for the picture quality. The lighting was dim and I was using my phone. Sometimes the iPhone 5 takes lovely photos. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times.)

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me and christian madsen, who plays al in the movie
really awesome guy, fun and super easy to talk to

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me and ben lloyd-hughes, who plays will in the movie
we are fuzzy

Me and Amy Newbold
me and amy newbold, who plays molly in the movie
absolute doll
(and jai courtney, who plays eric, in the background!)

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me and veronica roth, author of the divergent series

While I was in Los Angeles, I spent time with some friends and family. I got to see Amy, who I hadn’t seen since 2009. I always have such a good time hanging out with Amy. We’ve known each other for nearly 14 years, a fact which blows my mind.

Me and Amy
me and amy

I also got to see my brother- and sister-in-law, and we ate lunch at a really yummy place called Stacked. Basically, you order everything custom, you do it in an iPad from your table. It’s amazing. I could get exactly what I wanted. I got pulled pork with pickles and fries, and IT WAS DELICIOUS. I didn’t take a picture of my food, but I did get a picture with Eli and Melissa. I look like I’m in pain. It’s just me not being used to all that lovely sunshine.

Melissa, Eli, and Me

Let me tell you something. The second I stepped out of the airport into that mild, sunny weather, I felt like myself again. I felt like and free and happy. I knew the winter was hard on me, but I had no idea how hard. The weather was a lovely 87F and I soaked it all up like a dry plant needing water. The hot sun felt so good on my skin, and the light breeze was perfect. The sky was a deep blue, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was absolutely beautiful. I even spent some time by the pool at my hotel, just letting the sun warm me all over. I loved it.

Ronni

I miss the heat.

Shine

And the views.

Malibu

And the overall beauty out there. Mountains, beaches, the sky. I kept telling Amy how lucky she is to have all those pretty mountains to look at, although driving on them would be scary as hell! All the twists and turns and cliffs? DUDE. I also miss the cool people I met out there. It was a great night of connecting… I hope we all meet again someday.

la agrees with me!!

LA obviously agrees with me. I wish I could afford to live out there. Not even necessarily to pursue acting or anything. Just to be in all that lovely sunshine, to have that beach, the Pacific ocean, the bright blue sky all the time. Not to mention, being so close to Disneyland. La la la, maybe someday.

Ocean Love

I’m ready to go somewhere else now. I don’t think Adam understands the extent of my wanderlust. He’s like “We’re going to Jekyll this summer,” and I’m all like “I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THIS SUMMER TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE I WANT TO TRAVEL NOW!” I’ve been looking at the Living Social Escapes and being so tempted to book one of those packages that includes flights and everything. I really want to travel out of the country.

Someday, I will.

Till next time…..

visiting ohio.

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ronni!style
jacket: levi’s | jcpenney
pants: rockstar | old navy
sweater: mickey mouse | kohl’s
scarf & arm warmers: five below
purse: rosetti | kohl’s

Last week, Adam and I drove out to Ohio to visit my mommy for our annual September trip. I was very much looking forward to visiting my mom, getting the heck out of Chicago, and eating at Bob Evans!

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One thing that Twinsburgh, OH has that Chicago doesn’t is trees. Lots and lots of trees. The highways here are clogged with cars, and on the sides are buildings or grassy knolls… but the highways in Northern Ohio are bordered by woods. Actual woods. It’s gorgeous and refreshing to see. I always forget how thirsty I am to see trees until I’m around them and can’t stop looking.

Anyway, we arrived at my mom’s at about noonish Monday morning. We wanted to be there earlier, but the drive took forever! I-80 was just stuffed with construction, and that’s never any fun. And there were cops everywhere there wasn’t construction. But we made it and immediately headed to Bob Evans for lunch. :) We shopped and then went home and hung out for a while.

My cousin Falandos came over and we headed out for Mexican food at this place called El Camino. I’d been there only once and remembered amazing margaritas. The margaritas are just as delicious as before. We may or may not have made our way through two pitchers.

Best margarita ever!!!!

Some more of my family met us at the restaurant, and we had a lot of fun eating delicious food and catching up.

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aunt geneva, me, terri

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me, falandos, janae
i am totally not drunk

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my cute mommy

It was a good night.

The next day, I could not wake up! I was trying to work from home but kept falling asleep at the computer. It was so annoying. But I finally got the work done, and we headed over to the west side for Adam’s book event. While we were there, Belinda and Patrick showed up! :D We ended up going with them to dinner at this wonderful little place called Cafe Stratos.

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patrick, me, belinda,
and stella the greek

We had the cutest server named Stella, and the food was SOOO GOOD. All homemade. Everything was good, the soups, the dessert (I had blueberry pie), and the crusty bread that came to our table before the main course.

Also, it was customer appreciation night, so our entrees were half price with the purchase of a beverage. The menu had a ton of stuff that looked good. I went with the veal which I think was an excellent choice. It reminded me of the veal at Marone’s, a place I loved when I lived in Columbus.

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belinda and patrick
i adore this couple
my mom said she loves their energy

After dinner, we headed to my friend Andy’s to FINALLY meet Odin, his rottweiler who’s now seven months old. Odin is huge but he’s got a sweet heart. It was funny, he’s so protective of Andy. When we first arrived, he seemed all tense and all, you know how dogs do. But then I hugged Andy and I could see the dog visibly relax. It was amazing. After that, Odin and I were totally BFFs.

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The next day, we hung around the house relaxing. We were all tired from a whirlwind two days, so we watched The Food Network and talked. Later that evening, the cousins visited again and that was fun.

Thursday, we were slated to leave, but Adam started craving sandwiches after watching them create such lovely ones on Food Network shows. Now, I am always up for a good sandwich but Adam rarely is. My mom mentioned Corky & Lenny’s and we were on our way.

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corned beef, juicy
smothered in mustard
sweet damn

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mommy biting into her delicious sandwich

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adam got some fancy sandwich
with corned beef and pastrami
and cheese and i think some sort of dressing

We did some more shopping, and I took the chance to spoil my mommy a bit. :) Then it was time for us to head back to Chicago. We made it after an uneventful trip back that didn’t seem nearly as long as the trip to Ohio. Maybe because I had a good book to read in the car. Or maybe because there wasn’t nearly as much construction.

Anyway, it was a much too short trip, but it was a lovely trip nevertheless. I am quite blessed.

jammin’ in the jungle!

Animal Kingdom

previous posts:
epic disney world!!
a magical day.
two worlds.
a slow start for hollywood.

Our last day at Disney World took us to Animal Kingdom, which is painfully underrated in my opinion. Of course, there is the safari, and Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest, but it’s just a beautiful park in itself. It’s one of those parks I’d like to just go and hang out in and read or something, except there’s too much to do and see to just sit! Ha.

We’d had mild weather all week, and this Friday was the first day we’d gotten to experience the true Florida summer sun. Even I wasn’t prepared for it… but I still loved it.

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We didn’t ride much at Animal Kingdom. Aidan and I rode Dinosaur. I was really impressed he wanted to ride it–it’s kind of a scary ride! I still have to close my eyes at parts… but we still had fun.

We spent some time over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I like to go over there because I get to do things like make Falandos hold a big pile of poop.

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All four of us did the safari, and there were lots of animals out. Our Fast Pass time was later than I’d normally have it, so I was worried. I needn’t have.

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We finished the safari just in time to see the Jammin’ Jungle Parade! YAY! Now that I know most of the dance steps, the parade dancers like to come over and dance with me. It’s really cool!

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It's Sarah!
yay, sarah! she’s one of my favorite disney performers.

This was our last day at Disney World. :( After finally making our way back to the park, it was a mad dash to meet our car (this time an Escalade!) and head to the airport. Where the travel snags started again.

Our flight was to leave at 7:45. Imagine our shock when we saw that our flight had been delayed until 11pm. And as we stood there, the numbers flipped until after MIDNIGHT. Well. We figured we’d just relax, shop, have dinner… except randomly, they gave us another flight, which left at 8:15. I was convinced we were going to miss our flight. It was 7:45 already. Security was taking FOREVER. Talk about stress… trying to make it our gate on time…. where they weren’t even boarding. We made it home OK. Hungry, tired, and sad that the trip was over, but happy we had a few days together to talk about it and relive it through our pictures and stories.

So naturally, we’ll be planning next year’s trip soon….

That’s all of the trip reports for this Disney vacation. If you want to see all the pictures, just click here! :)

Till next time!

a slow start for hollywood

Hollywood Studios

previous posts
epic disney world!!
a magical day.
two worlds.

Thursday morning was a slow start for us. We slept in, took our time getting ready, and then, when we were finally on our way out the door, the rain came down with a fierceness. THEN, a friend of mine, Joey, who used to live in Chicago but had relocated to Orlando wanted to have lunch with us. So we hung around the resort and waited for them.

We played in the arcade while we waited for Joey and the gang. With our package, we got some free play time, but Falandos and I went ahead and splurged for a bit more. I’d never done that before–I feel like Aidan plays enough video games that it’s stupid to go to freaking DISNEY WORLD and play more, but because we were waiting and it was rainy, we both went for it. Aidan racked up the tickets.

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aidan playing fruit ninja

We had a great lunch, catching up, making new friends, hanging out. I’m not a huge Hollywood Studios geek, so I didn’t mind not getting to the parks super early in the morning. (Really, the only reason to do that is to get on Toy Story Midway Mania, which Aidan and I both said wasn’t a “must do”, and for Tower of Terror, which gets a resounding HELL TO THE NO from Aidan.)

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lunch with friends and family

We got to Hollywood Studios and the clouds were looking crazy ominous. We made our way to the Animation building and proceeded to spend hours inside, meeting characters, drawing pictures, and people watching!

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That's Incredible

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By the time we got out of there, the rain had cleared up! It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather and low crowds. We rode the Great Movie Ride, went on the Backstage Tour, and saw Muppet Vision 3D. Then, it was time for dinner at 50s Prime Time Cafe.

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cutest mommy ever!

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aidan finishing up his drawing before diving into that big ole pile of friend chicken

My mom said this was her favorite meal out of the three table service restaurants. The food was yummy, the atmosphere was fun, and we LOVED when Falandos got reamed out by “Mama.”

After dinner, we enjoyed the outside some more. The crowds were pretty non-existent. Aidan and I rode Star Tours three times in a row with barely any wait. He even got to be the Rebel Spy on one of the “flights”!

We finished off our night in the gift shops, of course!

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When we got back to the resort, Aidan wanted to use up the last of his arcade points. He did and hit a lucky jackpot on one of the machines and got a TON of tickets! He got to pick out bunch of little cheap toys and candy, which made him pretty happy.

It was a low key day, but it was really fun, relaxing, and fulfilling. We all had an awesome time. :)

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