Last week, I was on vacation from work. From 7:30 p.m. Friday to 4:30 p.m. Monday, I was a free woman. I usually try to take my birthday week off, to attend an annual music festival in Chicago, or to just roam the streets wild. This year, I really outdid myself. I did so much stuff. So much, that I had to comb through texts and my Facebook feed to remember just what happened, and when. There were friends by the gross, music, great food, art, swimming, kayaking, comedy and Internet memes - all of my favorite things. I couldn't have had a better week.
Without further ado, and in somewhat chronological order, what I did on my summer vacation:
Went to Vintage Estates in Boardman to enjoy some air conditioning and conversation with a pal / fellow Cancer;
Saw a great Swedish rockabilly band that sounded like the Cramps, so I coined the term Swedish Cramps, which is what you get from eating too much lutefisk;
Fell in love with the Honey Badger YouTube video - Google it, you won't be sorry;
Went to the Summer Festival of the Arts at Youngstown State University and enjoyed all manner of music, food, two Italian ices, shady trees, friends, crafts and free books;
Went to an Alice In Wonderland-themed birthday party that was just out of this world - people in costume, croquet game, tea sets, cookies and cocktails labeled "eat me" and "drink me," dance party in a basement decorated with playing cards hanging from the ceiling, sparklers, swimming and the best amateur birthday cake I ever saw, complete with the Cheshire Cat;
Saw one of my favorite local bands, which broke up a few years ago but reunited for one night only due to the stars aligning and the singer visiting home from law school;
Kayaked like crazy, alone and with friends. Floated down tranquil Lake Newport in Mill Creek Park and came within 10 yards of a beautiful crane, and saw it spread its wings and take flight;
Got a righteous sunburn from said kayaking;
Heard great music and spoken-word poetry in the beautiful garden patio at Cedars - the "Letters to Rhianna," where my ex-neighbor simply reads letters he wrote to pop star Rhianna, were especially enjoyable;
Went "planking" with some girl friends (if you don't know what planking is, you must have a fulfilling and busy life - Google it) on chairs, tables, cars, walls; it is basically lying still like a plank in a precarious and/or humorous place. Who comes up with this stuff?
Did stand-up comedy - for some reason, they keep letting me;
Watched my friend do comedy - while planking (she had to put the microphone on the floor, but it worked);
Rewatched season 4 of "The Simpsons" with audio commentary - Conan O'Brien is a genius;
Had birthday cake with my awesome family - my mom made this amazing lemon glaze layer cake - and got a cool T-shirt, iPod accessories, kayak gear, Target gift card, book and about a zillion Facebook well-wishes. Thanks, everybody;
Had my own personal birthday performance from Chicago beatboxer/musical genius Lord of the Yum-Yum, an old friend to the local music scene. Look this dude up, he can perform Bizet's "Carmen" with just a looping effects pedal and a cardboard box;
Tried "owling," which is the new "planking," which is soooo last month - though none of us even looked remotely like an owl, more like crouching puzzled squirrels;
Had a small cookout on my porch with friends and Popsicles, talked late into the night about life, love, music, art and scary local legends such as Five Points and the Green Man. In the end everyone was freaked out to drive home in the dark;
Realized that life can be pretty good with a great family, amazing friends and sunny skies.