Your Parking Spot… Your Habits…

10 07 2012

What does your parking spot say about you?  I’ve been thinking about this lately.  Where and how people park make we wonder if we are creatures of habit, or do our routines, our habits, define and express who we are?

ImageI work in a suburban office building which is in the shape of a long rectangle, with one of the narrow ends facing toward the street and the entrance to our parking lot.  Near the front of the building there is reserved visitors parking, handicap parking, and one spot reserved for our CEO.  NO ONE parks in that spot, except the CEO, even when he is out of town.  In addition to these spots, there are a handful of “available” parking spots which are usually taken by the executives, upper management, and some of the sales people.  This makes sense as their offices are near the front of the building.  I have noticed that the higher the executive status, the closer to the front door they park.  I don’t know if this is an unwritten rule, but even though those spots are not assigned, I often seen the same cars in the same order each day.

A little farther along, on the side of the building is another small parking lot, and none of these spots are assigned, yet like the front lot, people tend to always park in the same space.  For months, every day when I came into work, I parked in the second spot in that side lot.  Next to me was Big Black Van and on the other side was White Sedan, Backed In.  I took comfort in pulling into work and seeing “my spot” waiting for me… It made me feel at home, comforted and relieved.

Then one day it happened – I came into work and someone had parked in “MY” spot.  I didn’t recognize the car… who did it belong to?  Why were they in “my” spot? How DARE they?  Needless to say it threw me off and I had to pull around to Siberia – the back parking lot, far from my personal office just doors down from the side-of-the-building entrance.  I walked into the back door grumbling and the whole thing put me in a bad mood for a couple of hours.  Really?  This was certainly a First World problem.

Why do we get so upset when our routines are disrupted?  Why do we want our habits in the first place?  And what do our habits say about us?

For example, Big Black Van always parks in the first spot.  Is that because they get there first in the morning, or because they like the fact that the end spot is a little wider and therefore less likely to get their van dinged?  And what about White Sedan Backed In?  This car makes me think that they not only get into work early (and therefore can take the extra time to back their car in) but they also are ready to bolt at 5pm and want the fastest route out of work.  They do their eight and skate!Image

For me, I realized that some habits give me a sense of balance and security, while other habits (those things we might consider bad habits) are the the ones that give me a false sense of balance and security, when they are actually holding me back.  Lately I’ve been looking at my habits and deciding which ones I want to keep and which ones I need to release.  It’s hard letting go of some long-standing habits, but I think the exercise of learning new ones, better ones, is worth the pain.

How do you feel about your habits? Parking or otherwise?  Do you want to let some go?  Are there some you just won’t let go of?  Please share!

When Mother’s Day Hurts….

8 05 2011

I started writing this a year ago on Mother’s Day.  I was so sad, so missing my mother, Jo Crabtree, who passed away in June 2006 after a short battle with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer.  She was diagnosed in January 2006 and left this world on June 30, 2006.  I miss her every. single. day.  Last year when I started writing this I was reduced to a puddle of tears, so bad that I just couldn’t write any more.  But since my mom always encouraged me to write, I felt it fitting to try and finish it this year.

The title I really wanted to use was “When Mother’s Day SUCKS”, but out of respect for my Mom, I didn’t use the work “suck”.  She would have found the phrase vulgar and colloquial; categorizing it with words & phrases like ‘crap’ and ‘pissed off’.  She would say using these words would make me lazy, and she was right.

My mom on the ocean, her all-time favorite place!

My Mom and I were not best friends – in fact we were very different; I am an extrovert, I love crowds, people, going to concerts. loud music and watching TV.  She preferred quiet, small gatherings of friends, gardening and reading.  She loved to read.  Books were her passion.  As an adult she went back to college, getting her Master’s in Library Science from Kent State.  We were all very proud of her.  She worked as a children’s librarian at the Berea branch of the Cuyahoga County Library for 20 years.  She helped get the union into the library for the workers. (I can guarantee you she is fighting against Ohio Senate Bill 5 from up in Heaven!)

Even after my mom retired from the library, she continued her work with books and volunteered to read to kindergarten students at Anton Grdina Elementary School (a Cleveland inner-city school located near E77th & Kinsman, a rather tough neighborhood).  She would visit once a week, reading all day to classes.  She would always bring props to engage the kids, sometimes puppets or stuffed animals.  As you can imagine, the kids loved her.  Many of them would remember her as they continued on in their studies; it wasn’t uncommon for a 4th grader to tell an acting-up kindergarten student to “behave for Mrs. Crabtree, she’s nice!”

And so why, with all these nice things she did, why did SHE have to die from cancer at age 70?  She took care of herself, ate right, rarely drank, didn’t smoke and took care of everyone around her.  There are assholes (sorry mom) still walking the planet but my mom is dead.  It’s just not fair.

I miss her most on Mother’s Day.  Her birthday was April 15th (sorry, that just gets obscured by taxes) and I don’t really see the point in honoring the day she died (though I’ll never for get it), so Mother’s Day is the day that really makes me think of her.

My mom and I were not without our disagreements and fights, like most mother-daughter relationships. but I would give anything to have another day with her – I want to tell her all kinds of silly everyday things, like how I discovered I love arugula and that I’m so crazy about twitter (BTW, I have NO doubt my mom would have been on Facebook, and I think she would have had her own blog as well).  Yes, I know I have the option to “tell” her – to have my quiet time when I talk to her, but it’s not the same as if she was really here.  I just hope she knows how much I loved her.

If your Mom is still alive, take the time today to let her know you really love her.  Then take a random day and do the same thing – just out of the blue – take her to dinner, or a ball game, a play, a concert, whatever…. but do it soon, because the when the day comes that she’s no longer around, I can guarantee you’ll have wished you did.  You only ever have one mom.  And that makes her forever special.  I love you and miss you mommy…..

A Kase of… A Long, But Rocking Christmas Season

24 11 2010

I am NOT a person who starts celebrating (or decorating for) Christmas on November 1st.

Christmas + Guitars + Long Hair = TSO

Somewhere in the past decade it’s as if nearly 20% of every calendar year is dedicated to Christmas.  Really? REALLY? Aside from the fact that most of this non-stop Christmas hoopla is mainly for commercial consumer reasons (a whole blog post unto itself), I do make one exception:  Going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) concerts.  Yes, that’s concerts, plural.

To better understand my 12-year history with TSO, check out my blog post of Dec 22, 2009 “It’s One For the Bucket List”.  For the past few years, TSO has started their tour in Youngstown, OH (often very close to, if not on, Nov 1st) and this year was no exception.  As the band is kind enough to put me on the guest list,

Mary & I were in the front row!

I always try to bring a newbie to the show so they can get the experience of TSO live.  This year’s lucky guest was my friend Mary Sutter, and she really lucked out in that they put us in the front row

For those of you who have never seen TSO live, it really is unlike other concerts. The first third of the show is a sort of “Christmas Pageant”, complete with a narrator who tells the story of an angel visiting earth on Christmas Eve and the magic and special events which ensue.

Fire! Fire!

The second segment of the show is TSO rocking out to both Christmas and non-Christmas music, combined with some of the most comprehensive special effects – lights, smoke, lasers, video, and LOTS of pyro!

This year marks a lot of changes in the band – several previous members (many of whom have toured with TSO for over 7 years) are not with the East Coast troupe this year.  Alex Skolnick, Stevie B Broderick, Bob Kinkel, Anna Phoebe, Alexa Goddard, Danielle Landherr, Mee Eun Kim, Rob Evan, and Valentina Porter were missed, but many of them are working on new individual, original projects/bands and it will be great to hear them in their own element.

Chris Caffery bringing the crowd to their feet

Purists, don’t fret – TSO staples Chris Caffery, Jeff Plate, James Lewis, Tim Hockenberry, Roddy Chung, and Brian Hicks are back; Jay Pierce has segued to a behind-the-scenes position of coaching the vocalists, and, in the fun surprise of the year, Dave Z is back on the bass!

Dave Z is BACK!

There are some changes to the show as well – I don’t want to give away too much, but I was very disappointed that they dropped Carmina Burana from the show.  That was probably my fav tune live! 😦  Maybe it will be back in the show by the time they come to Cleveland this Sunday…  and speaking of upcoming shows…

Yes, TSO has two shows this Sunday November 28th; a 3pm matinée and a 7:30pm evening show, both at The Q.  As of this writing, the shows were not sold out, but selling well.  I actually found Club seats still available for the evening show, while the matinée only had seats in the upper area.

Tim Hockenberry doing “Believe”

Check out Ticketmaster; there are sometimes some seats which get released day of show once the stage gets set up. BTW, if you’re going to be at the evening show, tweet me before (@KaseyCrabtree) and maybe we can do a quick tweetup before or after the show!

TSO Youngstown, OH 11/03/2010

For those of you outside of Cleveland, check out the TSO website for various cities… they will be touring through December 30th.  In the world of Christmas, I think Trans-Siberian Orchestra has the longest season of all!

A Kase of…. what should I blog about?

29 10 2010

Hey friends and readers… I need your help – I want to put a greater focus to my blog and I need your feedback.  What do YOU want to read?

I started this blog almost a year ago, and I’ve been admittedly inconsistent with my posts.  I wrote as the spirit moved me, and as I could discipline myself to sit down and just do it!  I’d like to have 3 blog posts a week, and I have a couple of ideas for areas of focus:

The Social Network meets Blair Witch?

Social Media –  It is certainly my passion of the past year and has affected my life in sooo many ways.  My entire scope of friends and contacts has changed, expanded, and grown exponentially.  There’s no question I am a twitter addict – “I am powerless over twitter and my hashtags have become unmanageable.”  Yes, I DO want to put that on a T-shirt (as a run-on hashtag, btw).

I’m not a fan of people calling themselves social media “gurus” as the medium is still so new and evolving.   If we are participating on a regular basis, we all have our experiences and opinions on elements we like or dislike.

Music – I have been a music fan since I was a a pre-teen.  I think I’ve wanted to marry a rock star since I was 16 (still waiting on that one, btw).

"Rock" Music, get it?

As some of you know, I was a radio DJ for years… I did college radio in Chicago at Northwestern’s WNUR (which lead to many a club DJ gig), then I had my first “professional” on-air position when I lived in Key West, and then finally for over 10 years I was in Cleveland at Classic Rock 98.5 WNCX.  At all of these gigs I have had some wild adventures, been to some amazing concerts and had some fun pix taken.  I have a wealth of stories to draw from, as well as passion to move forward with music programming and DJ-ing in new media – I think there will be many options to provide quality music programming via the web, especially as wi-fi comes to cars.

I also want to keep up on new releases, but I need to learn more about many of the new artists.  This would afford me the opportunity to have guest bloggers for concert and new releases reviews, and possible interviews as they become available.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in my blog?  Are there things you don’t want to read?  Would you be interested in being a guest blogger?

And a final note – these pictures were taken during one of my recent walks.  I used found objects for all of them; I can’t help but think that the “Social Media” pic is a little like The Social Network meets Blair Witch…  What would you have thought when you found that left on a sidewalk around Halloween??  A message written in acorns and twigs ?  hmmm….

A Kase of… Biking in Key West. At night!

16 08 2010

I lived in Key West, Florida for almost three years.  I don’t tell people that as much as I used to because the response to that statement is almost always “Why did you leave??” thrown at me in disbelief.  Believe me, my Key West adventures could fill enough blogs for a year; in fact my blogging buddy Adam Gercak of Throwing Quarters thinks there’s a book in some of my adventure stories… we’ll see…

One of the best and worst things about Key West is the weather.  I can picture the shaking heads of my fellow current residents in the Cleveland, Ohio area as they think of the 5+ months we have of cold, gray weather on the “North Coast”.  However, this past week Cleveland (like many parts of the US) was sweltering under very Key West-like weather with temps in the 90s and very high humidity.  In Key West, we had five months of that weather. every. single. day.

Now before you think that’s a dream come true, I ask you to think about what the hot weather has been like over the past few days – meteorologists have used words like ‘oppressive’, ‘harsh’ or ‘brutal’ to describe the heat.  And that would be accurate.  In Key West, the sun would beat down on you all day, and many jobs were outside in the heat.  But, in the evening, as dusk approached and the tourists all gathered at Mallory Square to watch the sun set, I would hop on my bike and ride around the island.

This was one of my favorite things to do in Key West for many reasons.  The first was that for as harsh and brutal the daytime heat was, the night air had a gentle softness to it; a light breeze that brushed across your skin like silk.  You could smell the sweetness of the various tropical plants – the Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Oleander, plus the flowers on the Royal Poinciana trees.  The scents would hang in the humid air and mingle with a freshness that can never be captured by any candle.

As I peddled down the narrow streets I often found I was not the only one enjoying the night air: many of the cats from the island would sit on stairways and fence posts and watch in silence as I rode past.  Some of these cats had found people to live with, others  just lived from the good will of people.  Yes, many of the cats were polydactyl cats and I would meow at them (I speak cat quite well), but most were just as happy as I was to be taking in the soothing night air.

The other fun part of biking through Key West at night was the rather voyeuristic opportunity to see  inside the lighted rooms of many of the old homes that had been built in the 1800s.  I didn’t want to see the people; I enjoyed seeing the homes!  I am fascinated by architecture and the  romantic nature of these beautiful old homes:  The Gingerbread houses, the Eyebrow houses and the beautiful Victorian mansions made of plank after plank of southern yellow pine, which held up through years of extreme temperatures and more than a few hurricanes.

The whole experience was very soothing and relaxing, and I found myself embracing the wonder in the small, simple treasures of the island.  That was part of why I had moved to Key West from Chicago – to ‘decompress’ from my city life.   The other thing to remember is that this was the early-to-mid 1990s, before we were tethered to a smart phone or a lap top.  Forget Twitter or Facebook- the internet hadn’t happened yet.  Most of us didn’t have cell phones.  Long distance calls went out over your landline and cost money.

Last week I went biking around my suburban neighborhood of Westlake, OH.  I needed to get away from my laptop, and the the modern technology I embrace  so heartily.   I went biking at night, in the dark, and the air was once again so gentle after the harshness of the day’s heat.   I was flooded with my Key West memories and I found myself longing for the serenity I used to feel on those nocturnal rides through the Southernmost Point in the United States.  In my opinion, the McMansions of the nearby development do not hold a candle to the beautiful homes in Key West, but I was still very relaxed from the experience.  I started to notice details of the neighborhood which evaded me when I drove through in a car.  I began to appreciate the little things I had been rushing past for months.

This time of year is always hard for me – I feel like so many people have already shifted in to Back-to-School mode, or are thinking about their fantasy football team when I want to continue to embrace every moment of summer, no matter how hot.  So please take a moment to feel the air before the summer leaves us all too quickly.  Take a night to turn off your A/C and open the windows.  Hear the cicadas in the trees, the smell of the hydrangeas, and maybe the meow of the occasional stray cat.

Summer comes and goes so quickly, and soon enough it will be cold, rainy and blustery; just a precursor to months of snow, boots and thick coats.  If you have a bike, get on it – go for a ride at night (yes, have lights on your bike and be smart about it, ok?) or for an adventure in your neighborhood during the day.

Coming up on Wednesday, I’ll fill you in on the details of my 10 mile Sunday bike ride which included unexpected stops at cemetery and a public baptism in Lake Erie.  If I had been driving in my car, I would have missed it all!  Slow down, explore and enjoy!

A Kase of Spring New Beginnings AND Perks!

4 04 2010

What a difference a year makes…. it was year ago on April 3, 2009 that I was let go from my old sales job with Arhaus Furniture.  I was yet another causality of the recession.  A year ago I was crushed; I think I was still in the under-the-covers-hiding-from-the-world state.  As I recall I crawled into bed for about three days to cry it out and lick my wounds.  Then I emerged, looked around and began to get my bearings.

It has been an adventure of a year, and there have been sooo many things which have happened, both good and bad, but today I am feeling the gratitude of the experience.  As I have blogged about before,  it was because of this time off that I was able to discover and fall in love with social media.  I simply cannot imagine my life now without twitter, and with my new WORK BlackBerry, I guess I am falling into that ‘crackberry’ category!  Plus I am so grateful for my NEW  job with MedCity News as Senior Sales Executive – I am using many of the social media skills I have gained over the past year!

Probably the most amazing thing about social media is the real people I have met through it.  I feel like there was an ENTIRE world going on around me in Cleveland that I never even saw or was plugged into until I started doing social media – and I was looking for these peeps!  I had spent years in Chicago and was very used to an urban environment with buzz and energy and I finally found like-minded people in Cleveland thanks to social media.  Now my weeks are not only full with the new job, but also networking and other fun after-work activities , plus, the occasional perk!

My most recent perk came in the form of a free massage courtesy of Savvy Avenue and Spa Bellamara in Beachwood.  Stacy from Savvy Avenue (@SavAveCleveland ) asked if I would check out the full body massage and review it in advance of one of their next offers.  Savvy Avenue provides discounted offers to local businesses (consumer bonus) while also providing charity donations to local organizations (good karma bonus) all while promoting local businesses!  (BTW,  Savvy Avenue has their HQ in Chicago, so once again, it’s the Cleveland- Chicago -Kasey connection….) So anyway, heck yeah, I’d love to review a spa massage!

Spa Bellamara is located in the Hamptons Apartments right across from Beachwood Place.  It’s in the retail center there (kind of a round building with a restaurant, the pool and member workout facilities).  The staff at Spa Bellamara have taken a lot of time and energy to transform the space to look a lot like a European hotel, from the “tin ceiling” look to the trompe l’oeil on the wall – quite the surprise – not what I expected to find in that space!

After filling out the state-required health questionnaire, I was taken back into the dimmed massage room by Lana, my masseuse.  There was relaxation music going complete with nature sounds and soft instrumentation.  After I disrobed and got under the sheet (I kept my panties on, my choice) Lana came back into the room and began the hour-long massage.  I got the Deluxe Therapeutic Massage, which was a more intense version of a traditional European or Swedish massage. It was an all-over body massage which started with me laying on my stomach so she could focus a lot of time on my back.  Lana was amazingly strong as she worked hard on getting out some of the knots in my back, neck and shoulders.

I know as I relaxed, I entered into a semi-dreamlike state; I’m sure I’m not the first person to have dozed off during a massage!  I was surprised how quickly the hour flew by – I could have lingered longer.  After I dressed, the staff offered me bottled water, saying I should re-hydrate and cookies, because, hey, who doesn’t want cookies?

If you want a firm, traditional Swedish massage in classic European setting, Spa Bellamara is your place!  A couple of tips:  They have limited scheduled regular hours they are open, but are VERY accommodating to off-hour services; just be sure to schedule in advance.  They also provide facials and other skin care services.  If going for a massage, if you can come in casual loose-fitting clothes, you will be more comfortable afterwards; also, take your makeup off before the massage as there is sometime spent on your face.

As for what happened after I was all relaxed post-massage, see my blog post from 4-1-2010…. it’s a laugh!

A Kase of Gasoline and Massage Oil….

1 04 2010

Gasoline and massage oil… yeah – how’s that for a headline?  It was the Eau du Kasey Tuesday night… But I’ll get to those details in a minute…

First, a big thanks to the people who have been reading my blog despite the fact I haven’t posted anything in over a month… and what a month it has been!  Here’s a quick re-cap:

The same day as my last post (Fri 2/19/10) I followed up a job lead from a friend (Dan Young @danyoungdxy) and set my resume to MedCity News about a sales job.  The next day the MedCity News President and co-founder asked to join my LinkedIn network (uh, yeah!),  then Monday I got a call from them, Tuesday I had a 2+ hour interview and Thursday they asked for references.  Yes kids, the happy ending here is that after 11 looonng months of unemployment I got a job! *Happy Dance!*

MedCity News is an online publication ( and an industry news service focused on the business side of healthcare.  Plus, we also create custom content for healthcare and other clients. We have been in business 15 months and continue to grow at an impressive rate of 20% per month.  I’m doing ad sales, sales of custom content and some social media.  It’s really a great fit and I’m very excited.  We are a start-up company and with that comes some non-traditional elements (I am split between two offices and my schedule can change on a dime) but that good, because I feel like a animal in a cage when I’m stuck in some silent cubical working the usual M-F 9-5….

So… what about the gasoline and massage oil…  yeah – that was my after work adventure Tuesday.  I had an after work massage which was a ‘gift’ from a social media associate (more details on that in my next blog); the massage was great, I was all relaxed and smelling of essential oils… and then got on the expressway and headed home.  I had to drive from Beachwood Place to my home in Westlake (for you non-Cleveland people, that’s about 35 miles).  I knew my gas tank “empty” light had just gone on, but knowing that my trusty Camry gets about 30mpg on the highway, I calculated that I could make it to my neighborhood & fill up at a gas station where the gas was $2.59/gal.  These days, I’ll save $.15 a gallon whenever I can…

I’m a former math geek so I was literally doing algebraic equations in my head the whole way home, trying to remember when I last filled my tank only half way, how many actual gallons did I put in, how much highway driving had I done and would I have enough gas to make it to the station (if a car is traveling west at 75mph and has 40 miles to go on 1.25 gallons of gas… etc.  Are you having flashbacks to ‘story problems’ from math class.  Yep, this is algebra in real life).  Please note: my car is a 1999 Camry, and it does not have any of the fancy dashboard tricks that do all that calculation for you today!

You know where this is going… I came up just short, and I mean just short…. I ran out of gas on the exit ramp of the stop with the gas station… So there I was in the berm, hazards flashing, looking at the gas station of desire across the street.   Oh well, could be worse; could be snowing, right?  So I didn’t panic – I was a Girl Scout – and I took the little red emergency fill tank from my trunk (thanks to my brother Scott for buying that for me as a gift a few years back) and bought my gallon of gas.  A kind soccer dad at the pump next to me offered to drive me back to my car (BTW, he was filling huge gallon containers of gas to take home as this lower price, so I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm) and off I went to get my car running again.  Here’s where it got messy…

Apparently these little red plastic rescue tanks don’t dispense the gas into one’s tank very smoothly and it ran all over the side of my car, on my hands and a little on my jeans.  ARGH!  I really HATE the smell of gasoline!  By the time I drove the car over to the gas station, my whole car reeked of gasoline – everything I had touched – door handle, steering wheel, gear shift, all gasoline scented… thought I was going to pass out.  I filled my 16 gallon tank up to 17.35 gallons and went inside to try & wash off the gas smell.

The bathroom inside the GetGo Gas (and food) station was actually very nice and I began to scrub my hands.  As the water got warmer, I started to smell something beside the gasoline… yep, the essential oils from the massage just an hour before were releasing with the hot water.  Suddenly the entire bathroom was filled with this sickly sweet smell and I felt like had been turned into a cheap hooker at a truck stop!  I ran quickly into the evening night, hoping to dissipate the smell in the fresh air….

There’s no great moral to this story – just that it happened, and it took a long, hot shower and half a dozen hand washings before I could get the bizarre gasoline/massage oil smell out from under my nails.  Now, if can only find a nice unscented hand lotion to calm my dried, cracking hands….