Travel to Italy

For these next few installments, I am thinking of presenting trip notes for different places Chas and I have loved. These are notes compiled over the course of 8 years, about traveling to Italy. If you have thoughts to add or amend, please comment! This is obviously extremely incomplete and just my opinion. But Italy is my favorite. Hands down. In case you can’t tell from this, you should go there (even if you’ve already been, go back).

Shout out to my Rome roommates: Deb, Chelsea, and Lauren, who remain my friends to this day.


Chas and Kev in Siracusa after a boat trip with a guide named Cico (chee-cho). 


    1. Basic Italian Terms for Right off the Plane
      1. Italians just appreciate that you’re TRYING to use Italian. Always greet in Italian and then you can ask, “Parla Inglese?” (Do you speak English?)
      2. Buongiorno – Good day/morning
      3. Buenasera – Good evening
      4. Arrivederci – Goodbye
      5. Ciao – informal hi/bye
      6. Prego – You’re welcome/ Can I help you?/Go ahead
      7. Grazie – Thank you
      8. Grazie Mille – Thank you very much
      9. Vorrei – May I have/I would like
      10. “Ci” = ch sound
      11. “Zz” = ts sound
      12. “Ch” = k sound
      13. “Ll” is NOT y like in Spanish
    2. Food
      1. My first advice is to eat everything. The food their is SO fantastic and of such great quality, even the shadiest looking place, you can’t go wrong.
      2. If somewhere feels touristy, IT IS. Run. As in any place, try to eat off the beaten path. You’ll pay less and get better quality. You CAN find this in Trastevere, just walk away from the major attractions.
      3. Get gelato EVERYDAY. It’s SO much better than it is here. Also, the seafood is incredible. Eat things you can’t pronounce. Try squid ink risotto (it’s black!).
      4. Know that water and bread will be offered for a price. Tip should be 1.50-2 euro. In Italy “euros” is NOT a word. It’s just euro like “three deer,” “three euro.”
      5. Try the tiramisu – I couldn’t believe their tiramisu.
      6. Go into a small vegetable and fruit stand and get blood oranges. Their produce is SO good and they have some cool stuff we don’t so take advantage. Definitely go for the blood oranges.
      7. Meals to Italians last like 3 hours. Don’t expect your waiter to be fast. They think you want to enjoy your food and when you’re in Italy…you do. Just be relaxed about it. You’ll enjoy the meals more if you’re low stress and you take it slow.
    3. Transit in Rome (and much of Italy)
      1. I used public transit all the time. You can use cabs but they will know you’re tourists and they will take advantage. Years ago, 75 minutes on any transit was 1 or 2 euro. You buy the tickets in Tabbachi shops which are everywhere and marked with black signs with “T” on them. You stamp the ticket when you get on and it’s good for 75 minutes on any type of transit: bus, tram, metro.
      2. The metros are GHETTO but the bus and tram are great. The tram basically cuts Trastevere in half and you’ll spend a lot of time in that neighborhood for sure. Use this website: before you go somewhere in Roma. You can map out a route and you can do it in English.
  • Rome IMG_2790

    Inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

      1. You will probably want to stay in Trastevere. We used Air BnB when we went back most recently and it was super cool. Loved it. Place was fine. Street was magical. Very classic. Trastevere is the best mix of amazing attractions and in some parts, actual Roman experiences.
      2. My favorite attraction is the Trevi Fountain for sure.
      3. I would suggest though going into ANY church. They’re all old and they’re all beautiful.
      4. The Spanish Steps, I think, are best right around sunset, so magical.
      5. Behind the Spanish Steps there is a giant gorgeous park–see below re: Villa Borghese.
      6. The Keats and Shelley Museum as on the right at the bottom. I don’t know how much you like classic British Literature but I loved that museum.
      7. There’s also a great Spanish Steps Pub Crawl but I think I am remembering it as “great” in a rosy retrospection kind of way. Let’s just say, I did it more than once and one of those times, I may or may not have pulled my pants down and peed on the street.
      8. Definitely cross the bridges. They ALL have stories and so much history. One is called the Ponte Sisto (ponte means bridge) and it was built on the taxes citizens paid on prostitutes in like the 1600s.
      9. Over one bridge you’ll find the Castel di San Angelo. I don’t know if it’s necessary to go inside–I never did–but it’s a gorgeous building from the outside.
      10. When you go to the Vatican if your trip doesn’t include the Catacombs – GO! I don’t know what it is I’m not that religious but when I saw the grave of JP II I immediately started crying. It was very touching and there are a million dead popes there. Inside St. Peters, make sure you look to the right immediately when you walk in to see the Pieta. It’s like the most famous statue in the world. It’s okay I guess :). BOOK YOUR TICKETS ahead of time BUT do NOT use the touts outside of the Vatican. They’re full of shit. You’ll wait and that’s okay. The Cistene Chapel and everything leading up to it are worth it. Don’t talk yourself out because of a line.
      11. This is the kind of thing that’s off the beaten but very worth doing: Near my old apartment there is a walk that allows you to see the entire city. It’s a fantastic vantage point. It’s just outside of Trastevere (the neighborhood where most of the touristy stuff is). It’s probably technically in Monteverde (my neighborhood). It’s called the Gianicolo (Janiculum in English). There are like 7 major hills in Rome and that’s maybe one of them. Along this walk, you’ll see a lot of statues of heads (really, really old) haha but it really is SO cool and the view is AWESOME. It’s the kind of view of a city you’d see on 60 Minutes or something.
      12. There’s a really amazing art museum called the Borghese. It’s in the center of a park called the Villa Borghese. This was an old family that owned everything. There are a LOT of cool public parks in Rome. I heard it was because wives weren’t allowed to walk the streets so husbands (with money) had to buy huge plots of land so that their wives could walk on the family’s property instead of in the street. Of all of these types of parks that I saw, my favorite was the Villa Borghese. It’s HUGE and gorgeous. This will definitely be reachable by public transit. My second favorite was right down the street from my apartment called Pamphili. I used to run there a lot and it’s a great place to see real Roman life. Near the Borghese is the Museum of Modern Art which I had to go to for a class. It was pretty amazing but my suggestion is to choose ONE museum in Rome to see and appreciate. This way, you’re doing as the Romans do and you’re not spending all of your time in museums. Just pick allegiance to one.
      13. When you go to the Colosseum, get your tickets at the Roman Forum and do that first. The line at the Col is long but the ticket from the Forum is not and the ticket is good for both.
      14. There are two airports in Rome.
        1. Fiumacino/Leonardo daVinci is the larger one with international flights and actual runways.
        2. Ciampino is the smaller one. This is where Ryan Air flies out. It’s “fine” but literally nothing extra. I don’t love it but it’s a necessary evil for some flights out of Rome to smaller cities. You’ll live.
  • Sicily
      1. Sicily is incredible, gorgeous, delicious, and probably should not exist.
      2. Eat many servings of gelato in brioche buns. We called them ice cream sandwiches. I never saw them anywhere else.
      3. We flew RyanAir from Rome to Palermo. Chas rented a car. It is NOT easy driving. People are very aggressive and roads can be very tiny. Nevertheless, I do not know how we would have gotten around so easily without it. So I guess I’d recommend renting if you go there. Most of the driving is pretty desolate, and mountainous or rural.
      4. We drove right into Palermo. It’s kind of a grungy city but I lived in Rome for 4 months so I loved it. IMG_2818
        1. We went to the Cappucini Catacombs–MUST DO. It’s like 3 euro and there are over 8000 skeletons on display. Amazing.
        2. The markets in Palermo are incredible too.
        3. It’s a great city to just walk ALL over and soak in. So much to see. So busy. Look for mafia signs–it still has a presence there. We stayed one night in Palermo–that was probably enough as long as you spend a good full day or two in your walking shoes.   
      5. We drove to Cefalu (above). I insisted because my great grandfather was born there. Baltimore’s Little Italy used to be called Little Cefalu. It’s a gorgeous drive (they all are) and maybe an hour from Palermo. Cefalu’s streets are TINY. It’s such a cute town. We might be on the other side of the tipping point as it’s gotten kind of touristy.
        1. Climb La Roca. You can’t miss it. Fairly easy hike. Incredible views.
        2. Walk out to the end of the pier. WOW.
        3. Go in the main cathedral.
        4. Walk the entire town–easy.
        5. Look for the Baltimore sign in the main square.
        6. Park near the train station–FREE–but you will need to walk to where you are staying.
        7. Plan to spend a beach day.
        8. From Cefalu we took some day trips which were awesome.
          1. Segesta–Greek ruins.
          2. Erice–Arab ruins. You can a funicular or cable car to get to it.
        9. From Cefalu we drove through the mountains (holy shit kind of beauty) to Siracusa, specifically Ortigia. It’s one of the most ancient places in the world. Ortigia is where you want to stay. It’s the scenic part of town and is located on an island. You won’t know you’re on an “island” but don’t try to stay in main Siracusa–not charming.
          1. Go to the ruins which are outside of Ortigia. We walked there easily from Ortigia.
          2. Go to the church in the largest piazza. It has Turkish columns in it that you won’t believe.
          3. Take a boat ride! We got to see the island from the water, swim in the sea, and see some very cool grottos, and rock structures. I can’t remember our company but we LOVED our guy. His name was Cico (chee-cho). It was pretty cheap too. Maybe $40 for the three of us (we were with a friend) and we were the only ones on the boat.
          4. We stayed in a guest house here which was awesome and large. It was $60 per night which I am sharing because I think you can stay pretty affordably here. Cefalu too–we did Air BnB there and it was cheap. 
          5.  Then we drove to Mt. Etna. Expect the drive to take a while because you will want to stop along the way as you watch the landscape change. Among the most amazing things I have ever seen. We did a guest house there too. Sweet sassy molassy, I wish I could remember the restaurant where we ate. It was in the town and soooooooooo good. It must be in the guidebook. We did NOT do a tour in Etna. There is NO NEED! We hiked it. They tried to talk us into special boots, a special coat, and the bus ride. I wore sneakers, yoga pants, a scarf, and a jacket and I was FINE. The walk was unbelievable. Loved it. It was like we were on the moon, seriously.
          6. Wished we could have….gone to Taormina, Agrigento, and more of the middle. Nevertheless, it was an incredible trip. I recommend Sicily to everyone.
IMG_3126 2

Mt. Etna, which is the closest I will ever get to walking on the moon.

  • Cinque Terre
      1. Cinque Terre (Sara can probably guess) means 5 towns. You can take an easy and cheap train from Rome. You stay in one of the towns.
      2. It takes 4-5 hours to hike between all of them. And, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Lemons like you wouldn’t believe.
  • The South: Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi Coast
      1. I did not go to Naples, heard it’s a dump. I stayed in Sorrento and went to Pompeii for the day (all you need), Capri, Anacapri, and road along the Amalfi Coast. I also spent a day in Positano.
      2. Pompeii is absolutely incredible. Worth it. Look for the “signs” pointing to the brothel (penises!)
      3. Capri and so chic: beaches, shopping, limoncello’s home. In Anacapri you can a chair lift the to top–holy shit. Yes, an actual CHAIR. Just one. So cool.
      4. Sorrento was cute–not as special as these other places.
      5. Positano is gorgeous. Black rock beach. Lovely!
    1. Florence (Firenze)
      1. I really liked Florence. It’s small, walkable, and approachable.
      2. Amazing architecture–orange/pink and green.
      3. A shopping city for sure. Go here for leather goods.
      4. It’s west of Rome, easy and gorgeous train ride. This train is a good way to see the middle of the country which has gorgeous landscape.
  • Assisi
    1. A day trip, not far from Florence I think.
    2. You can SEE St. Catherine’s “preserved” body.
    3. Mainly, I’d go if you want to see the beauty of the rolling hills of Tuscany.
  1. AUBREY went to Lake Como and to Venice. I have not been to either but would LOVE to have gone. Ask Aubs to put in her two eurocents (sneaky little coins that no one actually wants).

The “Things” We Leave Behind


There’s a small table in the second faculty restroom at school. It has a plexiglass top that displays an old classroom directory that looks like it was typed 35 years ago. For a while, we didn’t use that bathroom because the sink was broken, no-water-broken. Someone from the city must have come and declogged an old shoe from the pipes because now the lead water run-eth free-eth. And just in front of the toilet, those names are frozen in time on that table. There’s not a bathroom trip that goes by that I don’t think about them. Who were they? Did they like each other? What were their educational philosophies? How did the classroom list end up in the bathroom? Did Mrs. Littlejohn and Ms. Smalls bond over their names? What about Mr. Trueman and Mrs. Truedale? Was Officer Downing kind? What did the engineer even do? Which ones are still alive?

I also get stuck in my head thinking about how the people in that list have no idea they’re still sitting there, a modern-day Ode on a Grecian Urnmemorialized for decades on a table meant for tampons.

I’ve always loved tiny details or relics that reveal more. “It’s the little things” is such a cliche that it’s practically meaningless at this point. Even just “little things” feels that way. But, I really do love the little things, especially the ones others leave behind whether physically or just in my own head.

In some ways, it’s actually a real burden to be painfully observant person, though. I get caught staring at people, I notice things I shouldn’t, I read things in people’s faces I wasn’t supposed to read. I observe and then carry around my new knowledge and sometimes it weighs a lot. But more often than not, I find that I am privy to things that others aren’t. Overall, I love collecting these tiny tidbits and putting together a story, fiction or non, that makes sense to me.

There’s a guy in my neighborhood I call “Falkenhan’s Guy” because he works at Falkenhan’s Hardware (didn’t say my stories were complicated). He has two dreadlocks on either side of his head and then luscious curls in the middle. I see him walking often. He has a very confident gait. I always hi to him when I catch him face to face. He’s really in his own world and only speaks when spoken to but when I greet him, he seems pleasantly surprised. Yesterday, I found myself walking behind him and watched him effortlessly slide down a 20-step railing at the shopping center across the street, like he’d done it dozens of times. It made my afternoon. I mean just think of all of the underlying personality traits for a grown man who slides down a steep railing holding a French baguette and bottle of kombucha. I just tingle at the possibilities! I imagine he goes home and makes gourmet soups with ingredients like leeks and bay leaves and orzo.

Just like an old school, an older house like ours is full of relics. Old floor patterns, a window frame fragment in the garden bed, glass doorknobs, and unclaimed bricks out front. I wish we hadn’t lost so many of them in the remodel.

When Chas and I first moved into our house the remodeler, a male named Loren, showed us a door hinge he found with five different colors of paint on it. To me it was like five generations of families represented by paint chips. I still have it. It feels like a poem, in a piece of metal.

How would you feel if you attended a meeting in a building that greets you with this sign? Would it seem official? Organized? Cared for? If this doesn’t matter, does that mean that the things of substance matter more, or does it mean they matter less?


I took the above photo at the Professional Development Site for Baltimore City Public Schools. This is immediately visible when one walks into this building for a training. Did someone set this up 10 years ago? Maybe that person was fed up with Baltimore and fled for somewhere easier, simpler, more predictable.


Baltimore’s blight includes so many remnants of people of the past. I know I talk about this a lot but I will never get over it. What strikes you about the photo below? IMG_1058

I took it for a lot of reasons and I see even more power looking at it months later. But really what gets me is the railing and the evidence of what used to be staircases. And then I spin a story about a family with lots of kids and maybe a German Shepherd and how that outside space used to be inside space. Sure “No Shoot Zone” is notable. But someone used to climb those stairs to go to bed. A tired old woman might’ve used that railing for support. And on and on.

When I see an old staircase or invent a story about a stranger, when I attempt to rewrite the past I don’t know or see something minor that indicates something major I wonder what messages or stories I will leave behind. What will people who don’t know me remember about me? What’s my version of sliding down a railing? What relics will tell future people who lived on 38th St. a hundred years from now? Will my name be on some list on a bathroom table? What’s the story we tell with the things we leave behind?

What Heals You?


impressionist car wash

Read to the end to find out what this is. Or guess.

A slow drum beat mixed with a cymbal tap,

Soft lyrics crooned over electric guitar,

Or is it a slow piano entry?


When I’m at the pearly gates
This will be on my videotape, my videotape
Does this blare through the speakers of your car?
Or ripple from your laptop?
Do you hear every note like it’s the first time?
Mephistopheles is just beneath
And he’s reaching up to grab me
This is one for the good days
A loud, rib-cage-felt cry,
Hugs and shoulder rubs and unsure assurances.
And I have it all here
In red, blue, green
Red, blue, green
You are my center
When I spin away

Do you talk it out? Gush to a friend or to anyone who will listen,

Pour out your heart’s thoughts and your brain’s feelings,

Blurt and ramble and blab and let it all go.

Out of control on videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape

Or do you keep it wrapped up,

In your belly like your sternum is made of ace bandages?

Say, “Oh I’m fine,” and “No, nothing’s wrong,” and “Yes, I’m sure,” and “No, I don’t need anything.”

Hold it together for your sake or for theirs, or maybe it’s for no one’s and you don’t even know why you do it.

Maybe you find some mixture of the two. You cry silently while someone asks repeatedly, “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

Does it eat away at you because you do want to talk about it but you don’t but you do but you also don’t?

This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can’t do it face to face
I’m talking to you after it’s too late
No matter what happens now
You shouldn’t be afraid
Because I know today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen

-“Videotape” by Radiohead


That’s my healing song when I need to cry it out to my Corolla–but I also demand to listen to it on every road trip, right, Lochdawg?

Also, I’d say I do all of the above at one point or another. I spent the end of the school year hearing my 8th graders discuss their growth, both in character and in academics. Along with their growth, strengths, and struggles, they discussed their coping mechanisms, and how they expect to deal with the pressures of high school. They can actually articulate, “When I am mad, I….” and “If I get angry, I…” It’s something that many adults would not be able to do, like ever.

What I also realized is that they really know how to deal with their feelings, or at least how to present they do so that a room full of adults believes them and rates them highly on their rubrics. When I was 13, I don’t even know if I realized I felt feelings. I can’t imagine being able to verbalize my character growth and my methods of dealing with my emotions.

The past week has been oddly full of incredibly difficult things happening to people I love. And in each case, the person going through something hard has been absolutely graceful and strong and vulnerable when she or he needed to be. (I’m fanning myself in amazement at my friends–though not at all surprised.)

Follow a loss, an illness, a disaster, a break up, an economic hardship, a legal hurdle, or any other awfulness, there’s such a wide variety of reactions.

For some people it seems like the healing process just happens automatically, they just face it, do it, done. But I’d argue that without some really deep dives, those quick and seemingly peaceful recoveries can lead to eruptions or latent bubbles of anxiety, fear, or melancholy later on. And I’m sure there are those rare people who just become okay after sad things and they really are just okay. I am not these people.

Being an adult is significantly easier, or at least more smooth, if you know what heals you, know how to accept help, and know how to pursue help. Twenty-five year old Amandy was a collection of fire, tears, intense anxiety, joy, and chaos. My only coping mechanisms were getting angry at my mom or Chas (though they were faultless), listening to sad music, crying, and running.

Now, at 30, I have a portfolio of healing tools. I have therapy, acupuncture, a strong yoga practice, Cymbalta (does that count?), significantly improved communication and apology skills, meditation, a backyard garden, and an assembled team of the best human beings on the planet, including the most loving Chas. But I’ll still blast “Videotape” when I really need to.

I think if there are just a few things I have taken away from this and can give out as unsolicited advice (you must know by now that I love giving unsolicited advice), it’s that we are dynamic creatures. What heals us will evolve with us and it’s crucial to allow oneself to be open to healing in various ways. We also have to recognize that other people heal in different ways and to respect others’ processes. Very selfishly, I immediately want to act to “fix” someone’s issue. I’m working on it–we’re dynamic, right?


Here’s a list of recommendations you didn’t ask for.

  1. Meditation in Baltimore. The Shambhala Meditation Center in Charles Village has meditation classes that last about a month in which one can learn different methods of meditation. Classes are donation based. They also have drop in meditations called “group sittings.” Many are free. The Kadampa Meditation Center in North Baltimore City offers guided meditations daily. It’s a buddhist temple but don’t be intimidated. They’re wonderful.
  2. Therapy. Psychology Today has a great search engine in which you can search for therapists by zip code. I left everything up to chance, called a bunch of people and left messages, and went with the nicest person who actually called me back. I’ve been going to Erica for five years now (hey, girl!).
  3. Acupuncture. If I had a nickel for every time I told someone that I receive acupuncture and he/she replies, “Ooohhh I’ve always wanted to try that!” I’d own my own wellness center. I started acupuncture for general anxiety and my acupuncturist has really become a life coach for me. I know that’s an extremely first-world sentence and for that, I am sorry. She just makes my whole world better. There are plenty of acupuncture sites in Baltimore, including sliding scale pricing for acupuncture and acupuncture through Johns Hopkins Medical. You can get as crunchy as a homemade paleo granola bar or as sterile as a white room.
  4. Put that energy into helping others. 
  5. Yoga. I know. I know. You’re sick of hearing about yoga but seriously, it just makes things better. The first week is free at Core Power but if you have eyes, you know that there’s yoga all over the place. Here are some other options in Baltimore with varying levels of fitness, spirituality, crunch, and diversity of classes.
    1. YogaWorks super diverse set of classes.
    2. Yoga Tree good variety (now) and right in Hampden.
    3. Lift is in an old church. It’s brand new, super cool, woman-owned and run. And they have a very restorative Yin class I’d highly recommend.
    4. Baltimore Yoga Village is a more wholistic experience for breath, meditation, and crunch. Warning: if you click on the website, you will hear monks chanting.
    5. Here’s Baltimore Magazine’s Wellness Guide. 
  6. Run. Here are some ways to run or work out with a group.
    1. Baltimore Running Festival. Ranges from 5K, to relay, to half marathon, to full marathon. It’s Christmas Day in Baltimore.
    2. Back on My Feet. Running group that meets four times per week (you don’t need to go all four days). Non-residents run with residents of shelters or treatment programs. This should also be part of #4 above. Run between one and four miles on weekday runs.
    3. November Project. Work out with a zealous group of people on Wednesdays at Rash Field and/or Fridays in Patterson Park. Free, no judgement, no need to sign up, just show up.
    4. Call me. I will run with you.
  7. Create art. Pinterest some shit and just get to work.

I also want to acknowledge that some wounds will never completely heal and that’s okay too. We just find new ways of living with our scabs and scars and when all else fails, there’s always Radiohead.


PS: The photo is the triple foam phase of the deluxe car wash on Falls Road at Cold Spring Lane. But it looks like an impressionist painting, doesn’t it?

Paint Baltimore Kind


Baltimore Rooftop on the Fourth of July. Lookin’ to the future of our city. roof credit: Stacey Williams, Adam Blickenstaff, and Angelo (I don’t know his last name). photo credit: Lauren Svrjcek. feet: Sierra Smith. Legs: Shar Hollingsworth.

Have you been watching Queer Eye on Netflix? A.K.A. Have you had a conversation with me in the past week? The answers are either “yes, yes” or “no, no.” Because I straight up cannot. stop. talking. about. it. 

For the not-yet-enlightened, Queer Eye is a reboot of a 2001 show on Bravo called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. In it, five incredibly attractive, hilarious, and talented men (who happen to be gay) assist a previously hopeless man get his life back on track. The Fab Five cover grooming (beard oil, hair cuts, eyebrow shaping, and beautification routine), food and wine (moving away from the microwave), fashion (throwing away some horrifying things such as Crocs and bowling shirts), culture (helping the man believe in himself and also treat his partner right by caring for himself), and design (renovation of a space that’s important to him to make it reflect his personality and be more functional). 

I think something I love about Queer Eye is that these men (the clients) are a blank canvas. At first glance, a lost cause. They’re underdogs, they’re humble, they’re open books with blank pages, at least in the Fab Fives’ categories. When each episode is over, I’m laughing, I’m crying, I’m laughing again. I believe in growth! I believe in…anything! 

Generally, being a lifelong Baltimorean, I’m already rooting for any underdog. Who should win the World Cup? Hands down: poorest country (or the one Trump hates the most). World Series? For sure: the most crime-ridden city (come on, Orioles!). Superbowl? Duh: whatever team has the most Cinderella stories. Stanley Cup? Absolutely: Detroit. 

I’ve been all over East and West Baltimore lately. And I feel like I’ve been seeing my city in a new light. Instead of just the place I’ve lived for 30 years and where my friends and family are and where I live, work, and play (not always in that order), it’s been looking more and more like a canvas. Here are some reasons:

  1. The Daily’s Baltimore mini-series
  2. The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins
  3. My kids.

     4. through 937.IMG_1054938. Humanity.

So enough proselytizing about why you should love Queer Eye and why the Yankees are irrelevant. In the words of Jonathan (in charge of grooming), reapplied to Baltimore: “There is a diva in there, but all she needs is a little bit of a bold lip.”

Another list. So here’s how you can help with that bold lip. 

  1. Read the first version of this blog.
  2. See the first list above. #1 and #2. Listen. Read. Trust.
  3. Join. The. Ceasefire. Start by watching Erricka Bridgeford’s Ted Talk if I didn’t already convince you blogs ago (or in person). Listen, I’ve got posters in my trunk–one has your name on it. Follow the movement on social media. And then tell other people. Yes, I know most of you reading this don’t need to be told, “Nobody shoot anybody.” But. Peeps gotta talk about this. That’s how movements thrive. So be a peep. Talk about it.
  4. Donations.
    1. Make Space.
    2. How to Donate Almost Anything in Baltimore.
    3. Donate men’s suits!
    4. Professional clothing drives.
    5. Check out THIS wish list for Baltimore Outreach for women and children. 
  5. Volunteer at Club 1111 to benefit adults with physical disabilities. Bonus points: The League for People with Disabilities is where I early vote and where Nancy and Dick met. There are a slew of ways to help The League.
  6. Here’s a place where you can do all of the following: meal service, educational tutoring, professional services, and one-time events. Also hot damn! Helping Up Mission for the win!
  7. Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth.”
  8. Run with Back on My Feet. This is a nonprofit located in cities across the U.S. Through the empowerment of running, Back on My Feet helps clients re-launch their lives through addiction services and job placement assistance.
  9. Project PLASE (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment) has a wide range of volunteer opportunities. For example, if you’re hosting an event (a gathering, book club, sex toy party, whatever), why not also turn it into a mini-drive? Project PLASE, House of Ruth, and AWE are always seeking donations of simple items such as diapers, personal hygiene products, feminine items, and much more. How simple would it be for everyone to bring an item? Plus, hello, advocacy and spreading the damn word! 
  10. AWE is also seeking tutors, drivers, and space to host tables at events. 
  11. As usual, selfish plug, help a Baltimore City school! Such as: Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School! But there are schools all over this city that need your love. Such as Reading Partners.
  12. Here’s a way to prioritize your own comfort (in your car), while making a difference. Best car wash in Baltimore is at McVet every Friday and Saturday from 8a-6p. Regular cars are $10. Right near the Farmer’s Market under 83. 
  13. I may add to this list above, in which case, this one would be moved down. Doesn’t matter. Please feel free to send me suggestions. #13 is blank for YOU. The coolest thing about Baltimore is that it straight up is your canvas. Drive around. Look around. Walk around. Choose your own mission here. Paint something. 

We want Baltimore to be the opposite of, in the words of Jonathan, “Struggs to func. That’s struggs to function.” And we’re far from perfect.

So in the words of our criminally convicted former mayor Sheila Dixon, “Various things have to happen in Baltimore that are not just related to police reform. How police deal with the public is one variant, but we also have to deal with how we treat each other. We need to look at taking more responsibility for ourselves.” …and each other.