Monday, December 31, 2007

Turn The Page


I'm about 46,200 heartbeats away from a new year - full of new opportunities, hopes and challenges.

I went to the store to get some supplies for the ensuing celebrations and came away with a basket full of symbolism.

The olive bar - $8.67
Because life is too short to not be savored. From the fresh mozzarella that my taste buds covet so much, to the gently marinaded portobello mushrooms - everything is so full of flavor. The roasted tomatoes are a vibrant red - having soaked up so many days awash in sunshine while on the vine. And that's what life's about - enjoying your moment in the sun while you can.

A good paperback - $10.50
I chose The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Both my mother and GOP Big Wig raved about this New York Times bestseller, and I am proud to spend a couple bucks to support the author, who is a professor at my alma mater. I like the idea of spending the last few hours of the year using my brain and nourishing my soul with some depth.

Cotton swabs - $1.37
This is more of a figurative metaphor. Sometimes its good to clean out all the garbage you hear and believe in the things you know ring true. Gossip, unkind words - maybe that's what turns into ear wax.

Mascara - $5.39
I've got my eyes wide open as I bravely face the world. I'd like to think my lashes look stunning as I observe humanity in all its splendor.

Oreo cookies - $2.68
I'm house sitting right now and just finished a bag of these tempting cookies. They're a throwback from my childhood and I was happy to rediscover the simple pleasure of dunking them in a tall glass of ice cold milk. Black and white in happy co-existence, Oreos are proof we can all get along and enjoy life's sweetness.

Hairspray - $6.39
There are days when I am ready to face the world with a smile and my blonde ambition. Then there are days when the mop on my head doesn't want to cooperate. Thanks to some styling and a little shellac, I can head out the door and at least pretend everything's alright. Hairspray helps me put on a brave face at job interviews, on first dates and when I'm otherwise feeling down in the dumps, and I guess that's what we all strive for on occasion - looking like we've all got it pulled together when we feel like runny scrambled eggs on the inside.

Bodywash - $3.34
Okay, so washing my sins away isn't as simple as getting a new, frothy scrub. But sometimes a fresh outlook on the world and a new disposition can be found in the solitude of a good bath gel. A little external de-toxing has a way of turning around my sour moments into something a bit sweeter.

Champagne - $5.99
I'll admit it. I bought the cheap stuff. I guess it comes with age - I've rolled like a high roller before and realize it's not all it's cracked up to be. All I want is a little pop, a little fizz and a little fanfare with my celebration tonight. I've discovered having low expectations helps ensure I'll never be disappointed. That said, champagne no matter the brand helps make an evening special - and that's exactly how I want to feel as I get ready to close a chapter on one year and usher in another.

Two bottles of Faygo ginger ale - $.66
It's a perfect mixer, it's exuberant and it's also the best remedy when your stomach's upset. Just what I'm looking for in a man - I guess for now I'll have to stick with ginger ale.

Tax - $2.19
As much as we all hate paying our taxes, it's a small price to pay to support the resources that help keep us safe and proud to be American.

Cash - $20.00
Because it's always good to have a couple bucks in the back pocket (or in the bank) for that unexpected moment you need it.

Grand total - $67.18

Finding some perspective - no charge.

Happy new year,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Slims - Northside

I'd been dying to sink my teeth into Patrick McCafferty's culinary playground.

For months I tried to convince friends from almost every facet of my social life that we should sip and sup at this creative dining spot.

It finally took my 31st birthday and an opportunity to insist on a dining location to appease my nagging taste buds.

I went to Slims again last night and I must say, the venue has become my new favorite restaurant.

You can feel the Northside vibe as soon as you walk along the long, glass facade that faces Hamilton Avenue - there's at least one Stella-type scooter parked outside and the vestibule before the hostess stand is full of pamphlets pimping out a variety of art galleries and their eclectic showings.

The moment you step inside that vestibule, the spicy, fragrant fumes intoxicate your appetite. You inhale deeply, your palate imagining what kind of delicious trick you'll savor that night.

I made it to my party, wine bottle in tow (the great thing about Slims is its BYOB policy - plus no corkage fee) and was pleased to find a happy crowd of people enjoying the artisanal breads. The tables are dressed with white tablecloths and fresh flowers - the walls covered in original art created by local artists. One of my dinner partners was pouring a nice chardonnay in my glass when the server approached us with an offer: We were invited to move to another table in the more scenic, main dining room. It wasn't an inconvenience - we'd only just received the amuse bouche (gougere - a delicious, delicate pastry flavored with a hint of cheese, and also a savory shot of duck consomme)- and so we were quick to make it to the cozy table facing the exposed cooking area - wine bottles and poured glasses in hand.

My mouth salivated when I was handed the night's $40 prix fixe menu - so many options full of culinary theatrics. I chose the asapao for my starter - a spicy, Latin American stew made of seafood and vegetables. A vibrant, tomato based concoction flooded my bowl - punctuated with bits of green and yellow vegetables. It was delicious - but not as good as the soup chosen by another dinner guest. I had tried the cream colored vatapa last time and was lucky enough to get a spoon full on this particular evening. Vatapa is a Brazilian seafood stew highlighted with flavors of coconut and savory spices (maybe even some saffron?). The depth of flavors in this stew was far better than that of the asapao, and I am certain I will order the vatapa next time I return to Slims.

I also tried tastes of both versions of the mofongo pequeno - shrimp and pernil. Each of these starters are served in a cup made of fried plantains. The pernil dish is a Latin American roast pork shoulder drizzled with a tangy barbecue sauce. The shrimp version offered up healthy, juicy sizes of meat bathed in a zesty mojili sauce.

Then the salads came.

I went with the greens garnished with oranges, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, red onion awash in an orange vinaigrette. I love it when a restaurant serves up a good salad - with a dressing meant to embellish the greens and other morsels. These days so many salads showcase the dressing as the main event, totally detracting from the other flavors on the plate. At Slims - the intention of the salad is to spotlight the variety of flavors hidden within the plate of lettuce. The pomegranate seeds popped and the smooth goat cheese melted in my mouth.

It was pure glory in a bed of greens.

Slims' long list of entrees provides a foodie with the heavy burden of many options. I was a heartbeat away from ordering the braised lamb shank covered in black bean fruit salsa - but another guest at the table nabbed that option before I could order. Always striving to be original - I went with the other possibility calling my name - plantain crusted cod with criolla sauce and Gujarati beans.

I was a bit hesitant about the cod option. My mind raced to all of the deep fried versions I've had over the years - in New England and in London - and I was a bit concerned as to whether this flaky fish would get the treatment it was due.

Slims served up a delicious dish in spades.

I marveled at the plantain crust - it offered a hearty crunch you'd expect from Asian panko flakes. The red criolla sauce is tomato and onion based, and it was a perfect, albeit unexpected topping for the cod. A golden ginger glaze lightly ringed the plate and I was a bit sad when I had mopped it all up with the flaky fish. Several juicy shitake mushrooms topped the nice piece of cod - they were delicious, too.

Wanting to taste my other dinner option - I finagled a bite of the lamb shank and it was excellent. Very tender, and not the least bit gamey.

I must mention the monkfish tail I had last time I was at Slims. It's served wrapped in Serrano ham and gently dressed in a chardonnay cream. This is also a delicious dish, especially for people who are hesitant to order fish - the flavor is quite gentle and all of the other savory bits on the plate are tempting to the tongue.

We finished the night with coffee and desserts all around. I shared a chocolate mousse ($5). It reminded me of the french silk pie my mother made for my birthday a month ago - a rich, cocoa laden flavor but in the case of the mousse a bit more eggy. It was great - though such an indulgence I couldn't finish it - I think that's a first.

The coffee was strong and served with a side of the richest cream I'd ever had.

The service was rich, too. Two different servers waited on our foursome, both were pleasant, congenial and anticipated our every need before we did. Both servers chatted with our table about their ancestry, traveling and went out of their way to be helpful.

Foodies looking for a burst of creative flavor will not be disappointed at Slims. Diners wanting generic, meat-and-potatoes fare should eat elsewhere.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Courage Personified

She had seen the world -

Studied at one of the most storied universities in the United States, and then on to Oxford. Benazir Bhutto's years at Harvard coincided with the Vietnam War, and our nation's free spirited proclivity toward liberal demonstration was not lost on her.

Known as Pinkie to her friends, she was 16 when she started at the Ivy League institution - delighting in writing sports articles for the university paper and walking to the corner store for ice cream and magazines. People who knew her describe an electric young woman who wore Rolling Stone t-shirts while serving as the debate team president at Oxford.

Despite her world-class education, Bhutto wanted to use her talents to make her homeland a better place.

At 26, her father was executed and she became the head of the Pakistan People's Party. She swore to her father in his death cell that she would carry on his life work. I am astounded by Bhutto's sense of place and responsibility - that she had the courage to assume such a daunting role after her father's death is stunning.

Bhutto with her cat, Charly, at the family home in Karachi

She spent some time in prison and under house arrest (almost seven years for a confrontation with Pakistani General Zia) but persevered and at 35 became the first woman elected to lead the Muslim nation - chosen by her people in a landslide election.

(aside: isn't it amazing that a Mideast nation managed to elect its first woman leader in 1988? When is the United States going to catch up?)

The female prime minister brought electricity and schools to the Pakistani countryside. Bhutto focused on modernizing her nation - creating a place that offered health care and abolished hunger.

Her political life continued along a tumultuous, pebbled past - Bhutto was charged with corruption and nepotism and went on to live in exile in London and Dubai.

She even made People's list of the "World's 50 Most Beautiful People," but Bhutto did not get ensnared in the glamorous trappings of the rich and powerful. Instead, the driven woman followed the passionate, determined voice inside her - and returned to Pakistan for another foray in her nation's political movement.

Her ties to the Western World helped strengthen Bhutto's crusade against terrorism in Pakistan - and it was that sentiment that led to her assassination Thursday.

And now we are left with more questions and concerns for a cataclysmic nation with nuclear weapons.

We can only hope someone will protect the flickering torch of pride and commitment that burned within Bhutto.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

F*ck Was I

I can't stop listening to Jenny Owen Youngs.

Her voice is so earnest, and her words speak to thoughts I've mulled over a million times before.

And she's got some sweet covers out there, too. My favorites are here rips on Nelly and The Postal Service.

F*ck Was I - I think she took these lyrics out of my diary.

Drinking Song

Hot in Herre

District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good Girl

Apparently Santa is under the impression that I've been on my best behavior over the past few months.

He unloaded his sleigh and left quite a few nice things under the tree for me this year.

My favorite thing, though, is spending the quality time with my family...

Even if they drive me to drink from time to time.

Here's to wishing you and yours a happy, blessed Christmas.



Sunday, December 23, 2007

Time To Wrap This Up With A Big Red Bow

8:30 pm Sunday. December 23rd.

It's the eve of Christmas Eve - I've got a load of laundry in the washer and I am avoiding the nagging chore of wrapping the pile of Christmas gifts in my living room.

This Christmas holiday has been a long time coming, don't you agree?

I suppose it started way back when I saw decorations and life size, animatronic Santa Claus robots set up in the Hyde Park Kroger - about a week before Halloween.

To be honest, I had Christmas on the brain when I went on vacation in September/October. I started buying presents for my family while trolling London's Portobello Road this autumn. I'd pick up a gift here and a trinket there in between my pub stops and forays in cultural exploration - and I've been shopping ever since.

Somewhere between the presents and the Christmas cookies and the fun festivities - I forgot to take some time for myself.

My house literally looks like a pit.

My hair is a stringy mess.

And I am exhausted.

I guess I am tired of celebrating a season that's been extended by our friends in Corporate America.

I remember when I loved Christmas. I loved cutting out snowflakes in my second grade class. I loved riding the train at the Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights. I loved making decorations for our family tree in Sunday School.

I have an inkling that back in the late 70s and early 80s, all those Christmas-related activities were relegated to the month of December.

These days people start shopping for their pre-lit fake artificial trees around August.

The ambitious types start stringing the lights around their house in June.

Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that these are the same people who plow through crowds of pedestrians, riddled with road rage, while trying to navigate the local mall parking lot the week before Christmas?

Yes, Andy Williams. It is the most wonderful time of the year. But there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing, and I think we've finally hit our limit of too much Christmas. The stress, the obligations, the complete excess - it totally detracts from the spirit of this holiday (the reason for the season, as I heard a preacher say on television while flipping through the channels this morning).

I will start officially celebrating Christmas with my family after I put in a full day at work tomorrow. We're having dinner at the homestead in Symmes Township and then we'll attend Christmas Eve mass at the church where I made my first communion and confirmation.

Then it's back home for cocoa and presents before hitting the sack - I've got to go back in to work Christmas Day. Then it's back to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Dinner and a quiet night in.

And then Christmas will be over, and I must say, I'm kind of glad.

Because then it's on to celebrating New Year's for a week.

One week?

Gosh. That holiday totally gets cheated.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ripped From The Pages of My Social Calendar

My friend Sasha and her husband John Scott threw a wonderful Christmas party at their dynomite downtown loft Wednesday night.

We decided to cap the night off with some salsa dancing at Havana Martini Club...

It was a little rough pulling in to work the next morning... but it was all worth it :)

Sasha, KtG and Jessica

Friday, December 21, 2007

Introducng Miss Maeve

I haven't found my cable to connect my camera to my laptop, so I haven't been able to post any pictures of my stunning niece, Maeve.

My sister, Bridge, just emailed me some new photos, take a look:

Oh my gosh... look at this face. How can you not melt?

Almost three months old and Maeve Elizabeth is already a skeptic.

I think she's still a little uneasy with the whole nudity thing.

At 2 and a 1/2 months old and an ounce shy of 10 lbs., Maeve is struggling to gain weight - but in this picture you'd never know it.

Obviously you can see how easy it is to fall under the spell of this pint-sized peanut!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gallows Humor And Other Fun

  • In what other profession are you allowed to pretend to be a hooker for some story b-roll (footage) by smearing lipstick on your face and guzzling cheap champagne out of a graceful flute?
  • Is it wrong to create a techno song by repeatedly singing a clip from a 911 witness call?
  • I cannot imagine another job that offers as much intense stress and drama - one minute you'll be tossing out a string of four letter words about everyone from your mother to Jesus, another minute you'll be cheering your success in capturing the money shot live on television.
  • It's a double-edge sword: manners are forgotten in TV news. Sometimes you're the one who gets crapped on, other times you're the one who gets sh*tty. Most of the time you just apologize and say bygones over a beer.
  • This industry is solely responsible for my inability to grow nails. Sometimes I bite them off because I'm too stressed out. Other times they get chipped and break off after all the feverish typing.
  • Most of the time it's completely acceptable for me to roll into work in jeans or cargo pants. Most of the time I feel guilty about it.
  • I am comfortable sitting in one place for approximately nine hours.
  • There's so much that happens behind the scenes to get a newscast on the air - the triumph is in concealing all that chaos from the folks at home.
  • We will find a dirty joke in almost anything.
  • Sometimes we have to wait for the news to happen. That's when we start having newsroom dance parties, watching you tube and dishing about prime time television. Yes, we're still on the clock for that.
  • Other times we have to work longer hours on holidays, during snow storms and breaking news events.
  • We'll bad mouth each other in the break room, but God help the competitor across the street who talks trash about one of our own - we're definitely a family.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Act Your Age


I am not as mature as I pretend to be.

My dreams at night are not full of sugar plum faeries who dance to Wagner while waving around spreadsheets charting the progress of my 401 k.

I do not always talk about unrest in the Middle East and I don't even know my blood pressure numbers.

I'll admit it, my humor has elevated to a higher plane (I don't think I'll ever understand what makes Family Guy funny), and I am also guilty of signing up for a $100 k life insurance policy just because. Otherwise, I suppose I'm a typical 31-year-old chick.

I know when I need to play dress-up and pretend I'm a big girl in front of the grown-ups. But I also tend to indulge my youthful streak.

Lately I've been wearing some sweet gloves I picked up a few months ago at Target. They're black and they've got this awesome skull-and-crossbones logo knitted on the dorsum of the hand. I guess I thought they made me look a little more young and punky.

Some people find youth in a bottle - I find youth in the $1 bins at a big box score. Go figure.

This is the decade when we're expected to come into our own - some people will make their mark in the boardroom. Others will establish themselves in medical journals. And still others will come into their own while in a newsroom.

This is the decade when we're expected to live by that work hard, play hard mission statement. Most people are too young in their 20s to realize what's at stake professionally and spend more time then they should (at least in my case) having fun. By the time the 40s roll around, some people end up having a closer relationship with their career than their family, and that usually means they don't have any time for fun.

I guess that's the torment of the 30s - carefully balancing between the levity of yesterday and the stalwart impression of tomorrow.

And right now I don't want to have anything to do with stalwart.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Check Your Schedule

What are you doing Saturday March 22nd?

Wanna go see Springsteen?

He's playing at Cincinnati's US Bank Arena, and I wanna see him.

Send me a message or shoot me an email if interested.

It'd be fun - the night will go down as one of my Glory Days.


Get A Little Bit Closer, Won't You?


I could smell it on him as soon as I started following behind, headed in the direction of the small room with the patients chair.

I think it was Aqua di Gio. Its clean, woodsy fragrance with its deep ocean notes mixed with the stale breath that comes with dehydration.

He looked like he should have been at a happy hour somewhere. Or maybe in a locker room changing out of his blue striped dress shirt and into some Under Armour for a sweaty game of racquetball.

He should have been having fun that afternoon. He was pretty enough to have fun every afternoon.

I could tell he'd run some gel though his hair this morning. His light brown hair stood up with the faintest of spikes that belied his otherwise clean-cut, conservative appearance.

There was a ring.

It was one of those, thick, chunky titanium versions - it could have been just a ring, but I would have been a fool to really believe that.

The regular doctor was out, he explained, and he was lucky because he got to meet all the hip, young clients who work and can't make early appointments.

He asked me to sit in the chair and then he rolled over his own seat about an arm's length away from me. He was cute about flipping through all the lenses, asking me whether I could read the Z S O H T on the bottom of the screen. Doc gently touched my eyelids and cheeks as he inched a bright blue light right to the edge of my iris.

He said my eyes were perfect.

Yes, doctor. I have a perfect eye for taste, and style and sex - and you were all three rolled up into one.

Maybe he'll be there when I have to pick up my frames in seven days.


This Could Change Things In Nashville

Breaking Kentucky Wildcat News:

Check for more information.

As many as 20 Florida State football players will be suspended from playing against Kentucky in the Dec. 31 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, as well as the first three games of the 2008 season, for their roles in an alleged cheating scandal involving an Internet-based course, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning.

Florida State officials are expected to announce the results of the investigation this week. The source said university officials determined Monday night the exact number of football players who will be suspended. The university isn't expected to immediately reveal the identities of the student-athletes involved in the alleged cheating.

"If the players fight the suspensions, they'll risk losing all of their eligibility," a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning. The source said student-athletes in several other sports also were implicated in the cheating scandal.

The investigation already has led to the resignations of two academic assistance employees who worked with FSU student-athletes. The school revealed in September that as many as 23 student-athletes were given answers before taking tests over the Internet.

Further investigations revealed additional student-athletes were involved in the cheating, according to the source.

The school's investigation found that a tutor gave students answers while they were taking tests and filled in answers on quizzes and typed papers for students.

Florida State president T.K. Wetherell, a former Seminoles football player, reported the initial findings in a letter to the NCAA in September.

Wetherell ordered an investigation by the university's Office of Audit Services in May after receiving information an athletics department tutor had directed one athlete to take an online quiz for another athlete and then provided the answers.

The tutor implicated in the audit told investigators he had been providing students with answers for the test since the fall of 2006, according to a university report.

The school announced in October that athletics director Dave Hart Jr. will resign Dec. 31. Wetherell appointed State Rep. William "Bill" Proctor interim athletics director. Proctor also is a former FSU football player.

The school announced last week that longtime football coach Bobby Bowden had agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2008 season that will pay him at least $1.98 million. Bowden, who is in his 32nd season at the school, is major college football's all-time winningest coach with 373 career victories.

Florida State also designated offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as Bowden's eventual successor. Fisher's new contract calls for him to replace Bowden by the end of the 2010 season. If Fisher isn't named FSU's new coach by then, the school's booster organization would owe him $2.5 million. Under the terms of the new contract, Fisher would owe Seminoles boosters $2.5 million if he leaves the school before the end of the 2010 season.

The Seminoles struggled for the fourth consecutive season in 2007, finishing 7-5 overall, 4-4 in ACC play. It is the fourth consecutive season they failed to win 10 games, after winning at least 10 games in 14 consecutive seasons, from 1987 to 2000.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Who knew Kate the Great had a PBR t-shirt?

It's not in heavy rotation, but every once in a while I pull out the green shirt with the antiqued, iron-on beer label. It's usually relegated to casual afternoons at home or outings to low key neighborhood watering holes (think: places with dart boards and shady bathrooms), but every once in a while the ol' PBR shirt is grateful for some prime-time play.

Friday night I went to a white trash Christmas party.

I took my friend Joseph, who lives literally right around the corner from the fete at Bluegrass Brit's house. Josie wore an old hat I remembered from our days in Lexington - Rooster Run, KY. It's a well worn trucker hat and it fit in perfectly with the rest of the getups at the party.

I ran into some girls with whom I went to high school (not so unusual considering I spent one year of HS here in Cincinnati) and Joseph even ran into someone who went to his high school (kind of unusual since he went to school in a small town outside Lexington).

The party was such a good time that I decided to stay the night in KY.

Saturday morning came fast.

I glared at my cell phone as it roused me from my delicious, warm slumber. It was 8:15 am. Too early for a busy party girl but just in time for a gal who needs some quality time in a salon chair.


I dragged myself out of bed and cruised through Newport, passing state transportation vehicles waiting for the massive snowfall to roll into the region.

I grabbed a nonfat-peppermint latte and made it to the salon just as the snow began to fall. The stylist sat me down and combed through my blonde and copper streaked hair and giggled when she found a snowflake still in tact on the crown of my head.

The black clad stylists whooshed and zipped around the glass enclosed salon while I sat still and stared out at the fluttering snow. I felt like a little girl trapped in a massive snow globe that was just shaken.

Then the rain came.

Big, wet streaks streamed down the glass building, dragging along falling hunks of snow. Covered in bleach and aluminum foil, I dreamed of a lazy day at home - sipping on cocoa while swaddled in blankets. The downpour continued as I stepped out with my perfectly styled hair.

The icy slush seeped through a hole in the bottom of my shoe. I winced all the way to the car and my much anticipated bun warmer.

That fantasy of swaddling?

Yeah, it didn't really happen. I was far too lazy to cocoon myself in the layers of my (messy) living room. I struggled with the residuals of the night before and instead parked myself in my bed, with my laptop by my side.

But snow's in the forecast for today... and I think some cocoa is, too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Miss Them All

Sure, I've always had a thing for Dwight.

And recently I started crushin' on Andy.

But the truth is, I'm hot for Michael, Jim, Creed, Toby and the rest of the gang at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton.

And I've come to miss them and their antics terribly ever since this writers strike started.

But never fear - the internets (why is everyone calling it the internets lately?) are a wonderful place for people to get their Office fix even when the new sit-coms aren't rolling off the factory line.

Here's a look at some of the fun stuff I've found featuring the whole gang.

It's Gettin' Hot In Here - Scranton Style.

This one is a spoof on a SNL skit that spoofed the OC.

Here's a little look at what The Office would be if it were a crime show...

The Office - A Day In Scranton

And Finally... what Ken Burns' documentary about The Office will look like someday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dear Santa,

I know you and the elves are getting ready to stuff the sleigh and take your annual 24-hour trip around the globe, so I thought I'd send you a letter to make sure you pack the right goodies.

God, it's been a long time since I sent you a letter. And I apologize for that. Really, I do. Sometimes I don't keep up with friends like I should - it's something I'm trying to overcome.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I'm sure you know I've grown up quite a bit over the years. You really brought me some great gifts when I was a little girl. I loved that little red shovel you brought me when I was about five years old. It was the perfect thing for a little girl living in Minneapolis - I could help Daddy! And when you brought Bridge and me our own Cabbage Patch preemies?!! A few years later you put a Whitney Houston tape under the tree for me. I can't tell you how many times I danced around in my room to How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody.... that tape rocked!

The Barbies, the My Little Ponies, all of the Slinky's I broke, the Raleigh 10 speed - I loved everything you delivered to my house.

You sure had a knack with picking the best gifts in the past, but I don't know if that's the case these days.

I mean, sure - you've got the little kid thing down pat. Doll here. Bike there. But how familiar are you with what a grown woman wants stashed beneath the tree?

How many 31-year-old women believe in you?

I thought about rattling off all the gimme gift suggestions - perfume, purses, jewelry. Did you know electronic items are becoming a popular request among women? CDs, magazine subscriptions, cosmetics, clothes - those are all great options for someone needing to by a 30-something chick a gift.

But the truth is - I'm looking for something a little bigger.

Not something like a four carat diamond of a new set of wheels... Not even a man (though I'd love to find one with a great big bow underneath the tree).

The first thing I want is a little courtesy. What happened to the days when people were pleasant with one another? What about those days of lore when we didn't toss out snide remarks and insults like they were snot-filled tissues? I would just LOVE one day of people treating each other in a selfless, polite manner.

Do you think you could wrap up a decent '08 presidential candidate? I am hoping you deliver someone whom I can belive in proudly. I want a candidate who is honest, genuine and a little less ego-centric than some of our previous (read: current) presidents. Bonus points if they are an independent thinker and prepared to turn around the tarnished reputation our nation has beyond North America.

Santa, I'm also asking for a bright, shiny, new restaurant I can enjoy on a regular basis. I'd really like a restaurant (not a chain) with a unique menu and a casual atmosphere. I want this restaurant to be really, really special - the kind of place that will make me the envy of all the other kids once they hear that I'm a regular there. The ideal restaurant would be gourmet and cheap - I know that's hard to find - but if any man can deliver, you're the guy...

The biggest thing I want this Christmas is actually a gift you can give my new niece, Maevey Bean. The doctor says my two-month-old niece is going to need heart surgery in two weeks. That's much sooner than a previous target of next August. The doctor says more surgery is likely down the road and he's even going to put Miss Maevey on the list for a heart transplant (just in case)... as you can see this is a special situation that needs and deserves your utmost attention. That's all I really want for Christmas: for my niece to experience a simple procedure with no complications. I'm also hoping she grows strong and healthy so I can some day tell her all about you.

I know I haven't always been on my best behavior this year, but I've really tried to be a good girl - and this isn't really all about me, anyway. This is about my niece Maeve, and she's only two months old - so you KNOW she's been a good girl.

So when you're done delivering all those Operation games and X-Boxes and ping pong tables, please remember me and my niece.

Because I fully expect she'll be sending you letters for years to come.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Pocket Jingle

I can admit it: I've got a few tragic flaws.

I don't do well with correspondence. I send Christmas cards late, I struggle to return calls from far-flung friends and I'm always sluggish when trading emails with someone.

Another flaw: my eternal optimism. That's right. Sometimes my overly rosy disposition gets in the way of reality - on occasion, I fail to adequately assess the situation and am disappointed when the results aren't as positive as my expectations.

The flaw that challenges me most frequently?

Feast or famine. That's the perfect description for the two weeks following payday.

It starts slowly. Sometimes I'll order out lunch on payday. Other times I might treat myself to something nice - like a new body scrub or CD. Then I enjoy a dinner out here, a night on the town there. I'm toting decent wine bottles and good cheese home from the grocery and I'm buying a few songs on iTunes.

About six days after payday I realize I've been living on the lam and that I've to to pinch pennies to make it to the next paycheck.

I knw I'm not the only American who lives this way. Lots of people live paycheck-to-paycheck. I'm just astonished with the sometimes rapid pace that I can drain my finances on chicken shit garbage of no consequence.

I think my dad was right. Subconsciously I MUST think money grows on trees.

But I know that's not true... it only grows in the bank - and that's where I need to stuff away a little nest egg.

The second half of the paycheck - that's when I don't buy lunch out. Hell, I won't even buy a Lean Cuisine if that means I can save a couple bucks. I raid my pantry and dust off old soup cans stashed behind the cereal boxes. I'll eat egg sandwiches over and over and over because eggs and bread are dirt cheap...

Sometimes I'll just not eat.

Yeah. That's not smart. But then - I certainly don't look like I'm going hungry, so perhaps I could stand to skip a meal or two. That's exactly what happens - I live high on the hog after the paycheck comes in and I tend to gain a few pounds. Then all the money's spent and I start losing what I gained after a few trips to Chipotle, the neighborhood watering hole and the grocery store.

Toiletries. I cut corners there, too. Post-paycheck I don't think twice about buying Crest's Vivid whitening toothpaste or a bottle of shampoo. But once I'm drained - and in need of a toiletry - that's when I start looking around the house for travel sizes and hotel shampoos. I remember one occasion where GHETTO ALERT I had run out of toilet paper and started using the paper towels in the kitchen (thank God I had a full supply).

It's like I am some schizophrenic spender - I can spend with the best of them after payday but then watch out all of a sudden I become the cheapest ass around.

Which I guess is a good thing - maybe I can use some of my frugal talents right after payday and help spread the cash a little further...

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Times


It's a nice place to live.

There really isn't a whole lot of crime here (despite what some of those horrid national rankings will tell you) and the cost of living is very affordable.

There's a (mostly) pretty river and a great number of jobs to be had. The Tri-State serves up plenty of social and cultural institutions to enjoy.

And of course we have two professional teams to groan about cheer on.

All of those things should be enough to draw young professionals and the Creative Class - at least that's what city/county officials and business leaders will tell you. Why wouldn't they move here? some proclaim, all while failing to notice the brain drain migration to Chicago, Atlanta and other bustling meccas.

And that's when a YP like me urges lawmakers to consider what they're offering all those people.

Those unplugged people.

The wi-fi craze is on pace to hit 700 million units by 2011 - 700 million people around the globe who will tote around laptop computers searching for a wireless internet signal. Earlier this year the sale of wi-fi chips was on track to surpass last year's numbers by more than 40 percent.

YPs own those wi-fi laptops.

They're also buying PDAs, cell phones and mobile phones equipped with the wireless internet access feature.

Cincinnati needs to get with the program and offer free wi-fi to all those YPs, and anyone else with a technological bent.

Lots of cities are discovering offering free wi-fi isn't just good for business, it's, well - good for business.

Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Portland and Atlanta are all charging ahead with the technological trend. Those forward minded bergs realize free wi-fi (whether across the board or via a healthy smattering) is good for people who want to stay connected and work while commuting (yes - many of these places have more solid public transportation systems). Because these days many people do more work on the road and at lunch than they do in the office.

Now wait, some folks will say.

You can get free wi-fi in Cincinnati. It's available at places like Fountain Square, the Purple People Bridge and Hyde Park's square.


But I don't think I'd like to sit at any of those places during the blustery, wet weather as of late.

I'd rather sit in my in-the-city-limits apartment and log on where the heat is free and the beer is cheap.

I'd rather log on at ANY coffee institution of my choice - whereas now I am limited to the various Panera franchises and a smattering of independent venues offering free wi-fi.

Hell - I'd rather lay in my bed and sip on my Folgers while surfing the city's free wi-fi.

It would behoove Cincinnati's council members to buckle down and draft and pass an initiative that would help launch Cincinnati into the 21st century.

Because as Mark Twain said, this city's about 20 years behind the times.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

...sip Bacardi like it's your...

From inside an independent coffee shop in one of Cincinnati's many neighborhoods.

31 isn't really a big damn deal.

Turning 10 is a big damn deal because you've finally hit the Big Time - double digits - and your mom just starts to break on that argument about why you should finally get your ears pierced (or why you should be able to wear earrings bigger than a nickel.)

Turning 16 is a big damn deal because you finally get the right to drive. Some will tell you its a privilege - but legally you have a right to learn the rules of the road and take a test with some sweaty fat guy who basically holds the fate of your independence (and ergo coolness) in his fleshy, grubby hand. Once you turn 16 (I know some state laws have changed since I was a kid), you're allowed to sit behind the wheel and actually drive away from your family home without listening to the Beach Boys or Cat Stevens wailing on the tape deck. Granted - my first set of wheels was that of a gray Plymouth Reliant two-door with an eight-track tape player (and all the Peter, Paul and Mary I could ever want), but that's another story.

Turning 18 - that's a big damn deal, too. If you're a guy, Uncle Sam has your name on file and can call you up to serve for the Stars and Stripes against your will if needed. Girl or guy, hitting 18 means you're considered a legal adult and can tell your parents to suck it if you're so inclined (something I don't recommend - especially if you're going to be hitting those same parents up for a tuition check for the following 4+ years).

20. Ditto. Big Damn Deal. It's the decade where you're officially thrust into the real world (off the family payroll, as my mom likes to say) and expected to figuratively stand on your own two legs. Big Girl Job - yippee! Your own apartment - yippee! Paying your own bills - well that's not so yippee. That's more like yipp-oh?

I don't even have to explain 21, other than I think we can all agree that birthday is pretty much BDD TO THE MAX.

I think 25 is debatable. It's kind of sandwiched in there between so many other insignificant years. But then there's that whole Quarter Life Crisis phenomenon. I guess since John Mayer wrote a song about it, ABC News did a story about it - QLC must be real. Hell, it's even got it's own website. So yeah, 25 is probably a big damn deal, too.

And 30 is DEFINITELY a Big Damn Deal. Most Americans celebrate it with some form of fanfare - think weekend in Vegas, the rental of some kind of party bus complete with its own disco ball and fully stocked bar, gifts of the naughty variety - people in the U.S. are committed to ushering in this utterly responsible and family/career driven decade with serious Debauchery. Yeah - I used a capital D on that one for a reason.

But 31?

I haven't even clocked a week into this new year and I'm already beginning to feel very, uh, Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here. That's not to say my birthday was blah. It actually was very phenomenal and involved all kinds of good surprises and even a bit of decadence that I won't spill here, but the occasion was enough to prove to me a just-turned-30 31-single-girl-searching-for-her-way-in-the-world can still have a rip roaring time.

So what are the 30s all about?

I still haven't figured that out.

But one year in to this phenomenal (at least that's what they tell me) decade - I think the big thing about the 30s is just marching to the beat of your own drum... and not giving a flip what other people think.

So march on, baby.

March on.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Just A Taste

I didn't fall off the face of the earth.


I've just been busy going to happy hours and wine tastings, celebrating birthdays (question: how long can a woman cling to 29?) and seeing Broadway musicals.

Jeez... sounds like I'm living the life of Riley.

Stay tuned - I'll tell you all about it in a little bit.