Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Check Out What I Won At Work Today

I have the white version.

I guess it pays to dress up for the office Halloween costume contest.

Inspired by London's punk scene, complete with fish net hose.

For the record, I did not win Best Costume.

The iPod was raffled off.

Double Platinum won Best Costume for a hilarious redneck getup involving an over sized bodysuit and a brown, stringy mullet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Licking The Batter

The calendar has a way of catching up with me.

It actually takes two tomes - a tiny blue book that stays in my purse and a giant desk version - to help me keep track of the comings and goings of my life.

The squares are full of jerky scribbles denoting civic commitments and social dates, cryptic names and other appointments. Each swift note is a reminder that hopefully I am doing something to better myself or the world around me.

I guess that aspiration would even apply to hair appointments, right?

There are moments when I love putting my coat on and leaving work for something meaningful. Those are the days punctuated by the expected angst of working in a pressure cooker environment. I guess sometimes I'd even be happy to redeem a stressful day by a teeth cleaning.

Other days I reluctantly straighten up my desk and shove in my chair, dragging my feet all the way to the next obligation. I throw the purse over my shoulder and dream of my slippers, a glass of red wine and something fluffy on the boob tube.

I met a psychic earlier this year. He told me I needed to be a bit more selfish in my life - selfish with my time, my money and my heart.

I guess I should be a little bit more guarded, shouldn't I?

Sunday night was a perfect night of selfishness.

I stayed in, sipped on some wine, watched DH and baked a cake.

The whole evening was about as delicious as the cake, which was made of a fluffy, yellow batter laced with lemon rind. I savored that wooden spoon and enjoyed the peace and quiet that comes with a slow night.

OK, I'll admit it: the cake was for a co-worker's birthday.

But the quiet night in was one of the best gifts I gave myself all week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Soprano Style

With a few scary creatures thrown in for good measure...

Major props to John Scott and Sasha for this elaborate getup.

And They're Off...

Pictures from the October 13th Keeneland trip...

Yours Truly, Jen, Kelly and Big Blue Blood.

KtG and my brother-from-another-mother Double Platinum.

The crew at the track. None of my ponies came in first place.

Ms. Kelly and me.

So... About That Trip I Went On

I've been a bit distracted with some personal matters ever since I returned from my vacation.

Things have settled down a bit and I finally found the time to post some of my pictures from London and Amsterdam.



Thursday September 27th - Me and D Money at our first of many bar stops in Europe.

One of Europe's many unusual road signs.

Friday September 28th: Heaven is a place where you can eat chocolate stuffed pancakes topped with vanilla ice cream for breakfast.

Covent Garden is about a close as I got to a tourist destination on this visit to London.

Sipping on a Snakebite (cider and blackcurrant cordial) at the Churchill Arms in Notting Hill. We had an hour wait for our table at the Thai restaurant in the back and managed to pass the time quite well in the authentic British pub.

Denae at our table in the enchanted garden-cum-Thai restaurant.

The roast duck curry. It was spicy and it was fabulous.

Saturday September 29th: At The Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. It's an American style bakery in the heart of one of London's favorite neighbourhoods. The bakery is known for its cupcakes and so we felt compelled to give it a try. The chocolate-on-chocolate version was to die for.

Making sure Cincinnati's Bengal Pride is on display at the Notting Hill tube station.

Denae and her sweetheart, Kingsley. We practically had to jump a quartet of uptight wankers for our cozy corner seat in the bar at Sophie's.

My gorgeous piece of meat. Sophie's Steak House is a very glamorous restaurant in Chelsea - as Kingsley said, "It's the kind of place where you might recognize someone (famous)."

Taking a proper British black cab home after dinner.

Sunday September 30th: At Camden Lock.

The bright colors of Camden. This is the neighborhood where the punks and Amy Winehouse like to frequent. You can see the Doc Marten store on the left, complete with the Union Jack boot.

Denae and me at the Lock 17 restaurant - awaiting our fish and chips.

I assure you it was delicious.

Kingsley manning the fiery grill for our big Send Off dinner. The South African style garlic sausage was delicious.

Sunday night: happy about the adventure yet to come in Amsterdam, but sad to say goodbye to London.

Monday October 1st, at Gatwick: Apparently people around the globe (and international airports) struggle with the spelling of Cincinnati.

Amsterdam - anxious to soak it all in.

One of Amsterdam's many stunning canals.

Americans wouldn't struggle with their weight if they walked and rode their bikes as frequently as their European counterparts.

Denae's tall beer and my short young genever. It tasted more like a new whiskey than it did like a gin.

Tuesday October 2nd: One of Amsterdam's many delft stores. It's expensive - you break it, you buy it!

Denae simultaneously eating a bitterball and shuffling through her camera.

After. I lost counting how many mayonnaise packets I used - I wanted to eat like an authentic Amsterdammer.

Getting ready to conquer the Netherlands' mecca for beer drinkers.

One of the few photos not taken by D or me.

I definitely march to the beat of a different drummer.

How'd that Bengals sticker get there?

The second of two bars inside the Heineken brewery experience.

Only in Europe - free range chickens at one of Amsterdam's many tram stations.

Inside 11. It's apparently one of Amsterdam's hottest clubs/bars, but not so much on a Tuesday night.

Wednesday October 3rd: the back side of the Rijksmuseum and steps away from the Van Gogh museum.

Where else in the world can you sit in a giant wooden shoe?

A parting shot of Baba - our first stop in fair Amsterdam.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


My niece was born almost three weeks ago.

Maeve Elizabeth came into this world amidst a flurry of activity and a dash of panic - her arrival wasn't expected until two weeks later. But the experts said that little peanut needed to come out to avoid a crisis -and so off to the hospital my sister and brother-in-law went... anxious to bring love and beauty and adventure into their home.

Maeve has stayed at the hospital ever since.

She has heart problems. She's got breathing issues. Maeve already conquered some platelet complications and acid reflux, so we grew confident that she was growing stronger and getting ready for a happy homecoming.

Until that time though, Brigid has gone to the hospital every day to see that fleshy pink bundle of joy - hoping those maternal bonds could flourish despite the less frequent contact.

Steve has stepped in as any protective father would - he's consulted medical experts and geneticists and even doctors in his own family for advice, information and expertise.

My parents made the journey to Atlanta to dote on their new grandchild and my sister Mickie and I have enjoyed a teasing competition over who would be the better Auntie.

Our little family has celebrated and fantasized about this little girl who has fought through her first three weeks of life. I've already dreamed of dance recitals and high school graduations and trips to Las Vegas for 21st birthday parties.

My love for Maeve knows no bounds.

We were dealt a crushing blow last night. Maeve apparently has something called Noonan Syndrome. It's a nebulous diagnosis that brings with it a laundry list of medical complications.


What a goddamn heartbreak.

There are few words I can use to articulate my pain - so I can only imagine the anguish my sister and brother-in-law are feeling.

A diagnosis like this one has a way of stealing in sheer seconds the fantasies and aspirations a parent whips up.

It's easy to linger on the worst that possibility has to offer when everything is so uncertain - and that's when you are forced to rely on faith.

It's funny - my personal mission statement includes the philosophy that everything happens for a reason... even the bad stuff. And it's in circumstances like this one where I'm forced to challenge my beliefs.

And that's when I think about love.

The kind of love Brigid and Steve have for that gorgeous child.

The infinite love our tight knit has for one another, and for Miss Maevey Bean.

The courage that little family will have as Brigid and Steve encourage their baby girl to thrive and experience life the best way she can.

And the strength we will rely on as we walk this unchartered territory.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wanderlust Whispers

The bags are barely unpacked and this girl is already dreaming of another passport stamp.

Yes, I absolutely enjoyed meandering through the winding roads of Camden, staring at the Manic Panic hairdos and the jet-black goth corsets dangling in the windows. And I am definitely gracious for the opportunity to trip along through the cobbled neighborhoods near the Red Light District, glittering with neon signs and luring storefronts full of sweet and savory delicacies.

But I guess I am one of those people who will always ask Where next?

It doesn't necessarily have to be some whirlwind extravaganza involving Homeland Security checkpoints and Customs forms - I thoroughly enjoy packing a weekend bag and hitting the asphalt for a road trip... especially if some good tunes and great companionship are involved.

But two emails today got the gears in my head turning - crunching numbers and calendar commitments. The first email was in regards to a rock bottom, transatlantic deal out of Columbus.

Air Canada is offering round trip from Ohio's capital to London for less than $300 round trip.

Tickets must be bought by October 31 and travel dates are through December 18th and also between December 24th and March 5th.

Swoon. I'd go to London any day of the week.

I also got an email today about the Oriental Express. I've come to develop some romantic ideas about train travel, and this line certainly is the creme de la creme of railway adventure. The OE brings to mind thoughts of single malt scotch served in cut glass over ice shards directly from the Alps, and maybe a young Connery look-a-like in a smoking jacket, chewing on a nice Cohiba.

My brain plays a soundtrack of La Vie En Rose on accordion and I hear German and Italian accents in the background of my fantasy.

I guess I am always up for an adventure, no matter where it may take me.

I don't really have any idea what my Big Trip will be this coming year, but I've decided to forgo another European visit for something a bit more exotic. Right now I'm exploring South American cities including Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

I guess I'd need my passport at those destinations, wouldn't I?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching Up On My Love*

Dwight: My girlfriend and I broke up recently, and I must say, I am relieved. Gives me a chance to sow my wild oats. In the Schrute family, we have a tradition - where when the male has sex with another woman, he is rewarded with a bag of wild oats left on his doorstep by his parents. You can use those oats to make oatmeal, bread, whatever you want, I don't care. They're your oats.

Click here to watch the whole thing - choose the episode all the way to the left - "407 - Money."

*Although I must say I am beginning to develop a crush on Andy Bernard.

Andy: (to Pam): So...

Pam: What's up?

Andy: Me, all night. Dreaming of Angela's smokin' hot body.

Pam: You're being gross.

Andy: Not from a male perspective. You need to set me up with her. I know she told you that she's looking and she's totally not responding to my moves.

Pam: What moves?

Andy: I have moonwalked past Accounting, like, ten times.

Pam: I can't believe that's not working.

Andy: Yeah.

Pam: Um... I don't know if I really see you two together.

Andy: Really? Well maybe you should look in the smart part of your brain.

Pam: She's very religious.

Andy: Okay. Well, I come from a line of WASPs so long it leads back to Moses.

Pam: Okay. Well, she takes her convictions pretty seriously. She can be kind of severe.

Andy: Yeah, and I punched a hole in a wall.

Pam: That's right, you did.

Andy: Yeah...


We go through life every day - smiling, chit-chatting. We exchange pleasantries over cups of coffee at work and we trade recaps at home. We dish up gossip and empathy in our social circles. Millions of conversations pass over dinner tables and office desks and bar stools every day. They are a natural occurance in human life, and we should have them down pat.

But inevitably we avoid what we really want to express.

Whether it be with a hostile loved one or a distant relationship, sometimes its easier to pretend that everything's okay with the Status Quo, all the while the little hamster in our brain is spinning circles over the wouldas-shouldas-couldas.

Because sometimes whispering that one phrase, broaching that one conversation has the potential for ripping open the floodgates of heartache, of aggression, of reality.

I guess that's the challenge relationships pose, isn't it?

Whether they be of a romantic or professional nature - one based on blood or shared experiences - those ties that bind can be fragile, gossamer strands, and a seemingly innocent inquiry or confession can tear those connections apart like a seamstress' stitch ripper.

Good or bad, it takes guts to put your emotions on the table. But that confrontation or confession can have an outcome that wreaks havoc inside you. Your courage can be rewarded with disappointment and regret.

It's true what they say - sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Frenetic Synapses From The Past Five Days

Thursday the 18th
There's a gas station in Newport that is fantastic for people watching.

It's on 9th street, about a block before you get to Washington St. if you're driving west. I was on my way to a friend's house for dinner and didn't have a bottle of wine on hand. I was pressed for time and knew Party Source would be a zoo, so I stopped in at the gas station instead. I had to cut bait on the wine idea and prayed the beer case would have something a bit more high brow than Bud Light or MGD. I passed over the Heineken (I think I was Heineyed out from my trip) and found the last six-pack of Blue Moon.

I saw everything from trashy rednecks with sweaty bandannas in the back pocket and gangsta Gs with braids and over sized white Ts and country hos with fleshy parts hanging out of tiny, strappy tops and tight stonewash.

It was great.

Altar Boyz at The Playhouse in the Park is a riot.

Here's the premise: a Christian boy band is giving their last performance after a tour stopping in second-rate cities around the country.

The boy band is made up of five guys: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham - he's the Jewish one.

The musical-cum-play is a hilarious statement on pop culture, the Christian Right and morality. I enjoyed it immensely, and was disappointed when I noticed many older patrons and their rather stalwart faces in the crowd.

Sure, this play pokes fun at Catholicism, which could be considered blasphemous in some circles. And the boy band concept and some of the subtle jokes could be lost on people in the 65+ crowd. But I also got the impression some in the audience were disappointed that this play wasn't Theatre with a Big T. But as my mom pointed out - even Shakespeare enjoyed humor. Many of his serious works include a humorous character to help break the tense mood.

So take that, Cincinnati Theatre Snobs. Altar Boyz is awesome.

Friday the 19th
I cooked dinner for a friend and our conversation included a snippet about galangal.

Never heard of it? Me neither.

It was an ingredient called for in a recipe attached to Indian/Thai spices I bought at Portobello Market in London. It is similar to ginger in that it is a root vegetable but it has more of a pine and citrus flavor.

I checked three stores for the stuff (including the Cam Asian supermarket in Evendale) and had no luck.

So I shortchanged my friend on the galangal - but I don't think he minded.

For future reference - anybody have any suggestions as to where I could find some of this stuff?

Saturday the 20th
Aveda in Hyde Park can do no wrong.

I feel like a million bucks every time I come out of that place - no matter what I have done. This weekend I slowly said goodbye to my blondeness - it's Autumn and so that means I can't be quite as blonde as I'd like and must embrace the copper lowlights.

*Warning: Hair salon technical jargon ahead*

The stylist suggested I tone down my summer blonde. I was a bit apprehensive to switch from a two to one highlight/lowlight combo to the one to one version I sport in Fall - but I was downright giddy when the stylist washed out all the chemicals. The more frequent, darker streaks make my blonde chunks pop even more.

So I guess sometimes it pays to listen to the expert.

Sunday the 21st
I love the 1940s and 50s.

It's period in American history that's steeped in innocence and altruism and romance, and I suppose that's why it's my favorite era.

Just take Sinatra. The way his voice boldly drips out those classic tunes like Fly Me To The Moon and You Make Me Feel So Young - I've always had a thing for his repertoire. Give me a Sinatra CD and a Starbucks venti nonfat sugar free vanilla latte, and I'm ready to embark on a road trip. His songs are classic and so upbeat for the most part - they make me want to hold someone close and swirl around on a glossy, hardwood dance floor in sequins and gloves.

Sunday I indulged a bit of my romantic streak by watching another old classic, Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

The music is bubbly, the acting fairly superficial. But the sets and costumes - over the top glamour. And Audrey proves she has a gentle, solid voice, even Hollywood execs chose a voice-over seven years later on My Fair Lady.


How could I not buy these?

I spotted these stunners at Macy's Saturday afternoon and thought long and hard about whether I should buy them. The department store was selling the Guess by Marciano shoes for 55 bucks, down from $90. I could legitimize 35 dollars, but 55? That's getting in gray territory - a price point where I am not as quick to whip out the plastic.

I walked away deciding if my heart still had to have them in the morning - then I'd go back and try them on.

I woke up Sunday morning in a panic - worried whether the last pair of size 10 would still be there.

I ran an errand then decided to swing by the mall - my foot never pressed harder on the accelerator.

I was in a hot fever to get there - all while my brain was swimming with thoughts of those department store slug fests - you know, the ones in the movies where women battle it out for the last pair of something on sale at bargain basement prices.

I raced inside Macy's and tried on the 9s, 9.5s and the 10s.

Then I put the shoe down, walked away and went to Dillard's to see if they had any better deal to offer up.

The shoe still called my name. Sure they weren't the Sex On Stilts I found a month ago, but they were pretty damn close. And these red snakeskin shoes would go with far more things already in my closet.

So I took them to the register and that's when I discovered the Shopping Gods were smiling on me.

The price at the register was $15 dollars cheaper than the sticker on the box.


It was meant to be, right?

Now... where's a girl to wear some hot, red snakeskin stilettos?