Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

How To Avoid (Or At Least Postpone) The Post Vacation Blues

I don’t know about you but I always seem to come down with a serious case of the post vacation blues (PVB) after returning from a big trip. I was expecting my most recent case to be really bad since it was such an awesome vacation. However, my first week back was so incredibly busy and fun-filled that I didn’t have time to suffer. Here’s what I did.

First off, we usually have to stop for the night on the way back from Disney, and this normally means a business-travel-type hotel. That’s usually my first slap-in-the-face from the real world and is a stark contrast to the magical accommodations I’ve been accustomed to for the previous week. This time, however, we made a detour to Biloxi, MS to spend the night at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Even though it’s still not quite the fairy tale of a Disney cruise ship, it has a very vacationy feel to it. Everyone is still happy, and there’s no real world slap. The $43 I won within 10 minutes of playing the slots helped as well.

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower--I'm not complaining!

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower–I’m not complaining!

The first few days back from work were relatively event-free, which always helps. I didn’t have a mess to return to, and nothing earth-shattering happened while I was away, so no PVB-inducing work needed to be done to fix anything.

Then on Wednesday after returning, I went to an outdoor concert at Levitt Shell, which is an amphitheater in Overton Park, located in Midtown Memphis. Levitt Shell is a free venue, and people simply bring their chairs or blankets, coolers filled with their favorite libations and noshes, and maybe a few dollars for food trucks and an optional donation to the band. Most of the time these concerts are held on the weekends but this one was a make-up date from a previously rained-out show. The band was mediocre but the vibe was cool and it turned out to be a very relaxing evening.

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

The very next night, on Thursday, I got to volunteer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Target House Bingo. In case you missed it, read all about it here.

On Friday, I got to play hooky from work for the afternoon and attended the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament in Memphis.

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

This year, the biggest player in the tournament was Phil Mickelson, winner of 4 majors, including the Masters. It was funny because almost the entire grounds crowd, including me, was following Phil from hole to hole.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Apparently, cameras were not allowed, and I got reprimanded when I took this shot.

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

They didn’t kick me out or confiscate my phone, though, so it’s all good. The Golf Channel was there filming, being super-serious.

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

Unfortunately, I can’t recall who won the tournament, but I know it wasn’t Phil. It made for a relaxing, PVB-avoiding afternoon, though.

Then that night I was invited to the opening of The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South, a new art exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

I’m a member of the Brooks, and this was a perk of membership. The wine was freely flowing, and there were tables practically overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit. The exhibit itself was beautifully curated and seemed to go on forever. Room after room was filled with his art depicting the rural American South of days gone by. It was all so gorgeous and detailed. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time it took him to create each piece.

After that, I capped my evening and first week back from vacation at Chiwawa, a new bar in Midtown Memphis’s Overton Square that serves Mexican influenced bar food and drinks. This is definitely not your typical Tex-Mex, pick-a-number-from-one-to-twenty-three type places. I wouldn’t exactly call it upscale, either, though. It’s more of a hip, modern place with a Mexican flare. I started off with a Strawberry Watermelon Sno Cone topped with vodka and some guacamole with chips. The “drink” was so refreshing! It appears as though there was a lot of ice, but it was plenty strong. The guacamole was chunky and flavorful, and the chips were house made. I followed that up with a brisket taco and a pulled pork taco (pastor style). Both had the most inventive and delicious house made toppings and were so good! I also had their version of Mexican street corn, which is slathered with mayo, cheese and other spices. I’m pretty sure they also soak it in milk or something because every kernel popped and exploded with juiciness with each bite. I would say it was the best corn I’ve ever had, and I’m not really a corn fan.

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

It was the perfect ending to a week of avoiding PVB!

How do you recover from PVB?

If you haven’t figured out by now, St. Jude is my favorite charity. I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December, and I’m trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude. Please visit my fundraising page here, and I would love it if you can make a donation. Any amount helps.

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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Feel Good Friday–Target House Bingo for St. Jude Patients

Last night I had the opportunity to volunteer with a charity that is near and dear to my heart, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By far, it is my favorite charity. I’m going to apologize in advance because, out of respect for the patients and their families, I did not take any photos. I have a friend who works in the marketing department for ALSAC, the fund-raising arm for St. Jude, and in the future, I’ll have him use his channels to get a blog post with photos approved. Until then, all I have to offer are words.

Memphis has three houses that support St. Jude.  Grizzlies House is a very short-term housing facility for families to use when they first come to St. Jude.  Ronald McDonald House is a medium-term housing facility.  Families can stay there for up to 60 days, I believe.  Target house offers long-term, indefinite housing and is the only facility that actually operates under the St. Jude budget.  Each month, Bingo is played at each of the houses for the kids to have an hour of fun.  When I say an hour of fun, it’s like Christmas fun! 

It works just like normal Bingo.  The game is played, spaces are marked off, someone yells “Bingo” and wins.  There is a wall, literally a wall, full of toys for the kids.  As they win, volunteers (moi) hand out tickets to the winners.  They go to the wall, pick a toy, hand in their ticket, and it’s a pretty continuous parade of cancer patients getting toys for the entire hour.  Everyone wins so much, garbage bags have to be handed out to haul all the loot.  Another thing that makes it special is there are no Bingo police checking cards to see if actual Bingo happened.  We pretend to check, but the idea is that everyone wins!  A LOT!!

Target House is where I volunteered last night.  Like I said, I have a friend who works in marketing for St. Jude, and I was asked if I’d like to help.  He knows that I ran as a fund-raiser last year in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, and thought I’d enjoy the interaction with the kids.  He was so very right!  I plan to become a regular Bingo volunteer.  True to what St. Jude always does to me, I was so happy to be able to help and bring joy to the kids and their families.  At the same time, it’s heart-wrenching that they have to face this terrible disease.  Sickening, even!  Yet, for an hour last night, there was a room filled with happy kids and their families, doing what kids do, playing Bingo, and being normal.  The visual evidence of cancer was everywhere, all over the room, but cancer can’t kill the spirit of a child.  When a child yells “Bingo” and high-fives you then excitedly collects the very toy he or she has been eyeing, cancer doesn’t exist in that moment.  That’s pretty cool.

What’s your favorite charity or volunteer effort?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker!

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