Photo credit: Erik Drost / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

What doesn’t bite? A surprise gift. One of my favorite surprise gifts I received this past Christmas was a book (shocker, right?): Cleveland Then and Now by Laura DeMarco, with Now photography by Karl Mondon.

The large-format book celebrates the storied history and vibrant present of my home city of Cleveland. (Granted, I grew up in Cleveland’s hinterlands, but Cleveland–and especially its Playhouse Square, where I danced with the School of the Cleveland Ballet–has my whole heart.) Having left home at 19, I now have lived longer away from Ohio (and below the Mason Dixon, God forbid) than in Ohio. Still, I consider it home.

Much of my Christmas afternoon was spent poring over the landmarks in this book. There’s Cleveland’s most beautiful building, the historic Cleveland Arcade (pictured below), where my dad worked for a time; hippie haven Hessler Road, where my mom lived when in college; Little Italy, where my parents married at Holy Rosary Church; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Playhouse Square, the largest center of performing arts between New York and Chicago; the Streamline Moderne Greyhound station, which I rolled in and out of on trips home from college in Virginia; and much more.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The book’s author: arts and culture reporter and editor for the Plain Dealer–Cleveland’s newspaper of record–a reporter who specialized in local history and lost landmarks in the city. As many newspapers have, my hometown paper has seen its share of layoffs in recent times. Then, just last month, the news about more layoffs started coming fast and furious into my Twitter feed. Or more aptly put in this article with all the ins and outs: it was a “gutting” of a newsroom and a sure blow to journalism and journalists the Northeast Ohio community relies on. When remaining journalists were faced with losing their beats and told they would no longer be able to cover the city, a round of resignations yesterday included that of DeMarco.

Since the coronavirus reared its ugly, spiked head, journalists, writers, and bloggers have found ways of making sense of pandemic-havoc by telling the stories of our communities. While my platform is small, my community, my “beat,” during this isolation, is my family. And so I’ve been using these daily prompts to tell our stories: there’s Isolation Lent; Reviled Remote School; Close-Proximity Parenting (if my kids say to me, “OK, Boomer,” one more time, I might lose it); Extended Family Worries, and all the rest.

I’m keeping it together as best as this (ahem) Generation X-er can, which, according to DeMarco, might be pretty OK. In a piece she wrote last month, she notes that our Reality Bites generation is getting this isolation thing right: “While millennials and Gen Z kept partying and going to the beach, and boomers who didn’t want to recognize they are not so young anymore kept brunching, Gen X stood up and took action — and stayed in.” In this fun piece, she highlights the voices of several local Gen X-ers. The story brought to mind my own time in Cleveland with my best Gen-X girlfriends…dressed like we’d shopped at a Depeche Mode garage sale…drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes…watching the skaters outside Arabica on Coventry…acting all moody, sorta like isolating even when not alone.

Yeah, today’s reality–and it’s far-reaching impacts on our society–bites, and my heart goes out to all who are suffering from job loss and worse. What can we do? It is a very small thing, but today I’ll tell it like it is and hope for a better tomorrow. I hope you’ll join me.

I’m chronicling our isolation with the help of WordPress Discover Prompts. This post was in response to Discover’s daily prompt: Bite. Care to join in? Read others’ responses here. My other Prompts responses:

Like what you read? Check out my categories above, with author and photographer interviews, essays, stories, book reviews, writing advice, and more.

19 thoughts on “Reality, layoffs, and all the rest, bite: Discover Prompts, Day 11

    1. Thanks, Aggie! I’m having a hard enough time–to add job loss to the mix, I can’t imagine. Because I don’t get back to Cleveland enough, I really rely on journalists and other writers from afar. So, for them and for me, fewer Cleveland stories really sucks. It is a lovely city full of resilient people, thank goodness. And thank you for reading. I posted in response to the daily prompt. But for some reason it’s not showing up there–I must have done something wrong? Oh well, Happy Easter a day early. Enjoy it, with your guys!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A terrific story. My wife is from Cleveland, and I have been there many times. A city that has been through much struggle in the last 40-50 years as technology and plant closing made their industries obsolete…still, a town with an iron backbone, and stories like this help remind everyone to support their local businesses so we can all get though this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Support local–even if you’re far away. Thanks for reading, John! And I know your wife’s a Parma girl! I’m always wanting to get back to Cleveland to really explore, but it’s usually quick trips. I still haven’t seen the art museum after it’s huge expansion. Definitely on my to-do list after this time of isolation is over. Happy Easter, if you celebrate, or lovely weekend, if you don’t!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a happy “isolated” Easter here for us – my wife is watching the Easter Mass being shown from Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral…no audience except streaming, but we went there every week when we lived in Chicago!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can appreciate your love for Cleveland. I only lived there a short time, but I have family there and visit the area occasionally. That’s such a shame about the devastation to local journalism. I don’t read our local paper much, but we keep our digital subscription, because I believe in the importance of having a local newspaper of record. But apparently I am in a minority.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Eilene. It is strange to see what is happening to journalism and notions of truth in the press (and everywhere else). An interesting time–that’s my best spin on it! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, and Easter, if you’re celebrating.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As a fellow Gen X-er (and former Ohioan…for a few brief years during my childhood, anyway) who spent countless hours pawing through the bins at Tower Records for Depeche Mode CD Maxi-Singles, I appreciate both this post in general and the idea of the garage sale attire in particular!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tower Records–yes! (And then I would have made a detour by Wilson’s leather goods to imagine I was cool enough to own a leather jacket–to wear over the old flannel shirt I borrowed from my dad.) At this point of pandemic-isolation, I am truly missing garage sales (or yard sales, they call them, in my sunny Southern home). Thanks for stopping by the blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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