Sunday, November 30, 2008

Long Weekend: The Video Recap

5chw4r7z takes on the task of carving the turkey at winemedineme's Thanksgiving Day Orphans' Dinner. It was a convergence of the Cincinnati blogger scene...




Getting laid in the car- karaoke roadtrip style. That I am sharing this with you at all is a huge sign I have no pride.




Out and about with D Money and friends at the Garage Bar in Columbus. We celebrated after the Blue Jackets win at Nationwide Arena. The hockey game was fun, but seeing my good friends was the true highlight of the mini-trip.




We got nabbed by a C-bus "party pix" photographer while at the Garage Bar. This was snapped well before we took our "grape bomb" shot. I just can't party like I used to...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Thanks

First and foremost, I am so grateful I have hope in my life.

I am thankful my personal spiritual relationship with God provides me with almost eternal optimism. I know there are times when I feel depressed, defeated or disappointed, but I am blessed this tide of hope is strong enough to crush even the strongest sentiments of pessimism and despair in my life.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful family that strives to be together. We struggle with boundaries and we bicker like we're still kids, but I wouldn't trade a single one of them for anything in the world. My family made me who I am, and I am thankful for all the beauty and challenge in that.

I cannot begin to express my thanks for such a wonderful group of friends. When I want to be accepted, loved and appreciated, my friends are there in full force. My friends have become a second family for me, a family where I can seek unconditional support, acceptance and the absence of judgment.

I am so grateful to have a new career that allows me to explore my talents and new obstacles. The opportunity is immense, and I feel so grateful for the belief that I am doing something to help the world get a tiny bit better.

Grateful is how I feel about the gift of Maeve. Her life was fleeting, but her strength and stunning spirit will last for eternity. I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to get to know Maeve's essence, and I am also blessed in knowing I will someday be with her again.

Health is another factor in my life that deserves appreciation. I am so blessed to be pain free and without any significant ailments threatening my being. I am grateful for good health insurance and a financial stability that ensures I can take care of any sickness with the best available health care.

I must also say thanks for all the beauty I experience almost daily. Whether it is in kind words from my friends and readers or in the swift chance to appreciate the marvels of an azure sky or a crimson rose, I am so blessed to have been given the gift of sensitivity and appreciation for all my surroundings.

Finally, I am thankful my life includes adventure. Without variety, travel and the opportunity to explore, I wouldn't feel motivated to live in the first place.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Penny Pincher

As much as I hate to admit it, it's time to trim the fat.

As a singleton with relatively low overhead, I tend to enjoy a pretty savory life. My schedule includes dinner out with friends, lunch at local, non-fast food spots. As long as my paycheck continues to roll in, I am grateful to enjoy good alcohol and quality entertainment on a somewhat regular basis.

I guess that's how most of my life has been, save for a couple rough spots that I'm glad I weathered.

When I was a little girl, I used to wonder about Ends Meat. I didn't know what it was, but I got the impression it was something families had to make and eat when "times got tough." My voracious reading clued me in to the equally less enticing option of tongue - poor Ramona and Beezus Quimby - but ends meat was always a mystery to me. I guess my eight-year-old brain thought it meant that someone was struggling so hard that they had to eat a cow's bum, and I knew that was a fate no one deserved to suffer.

It wasn't until years later that I figured out the phrase had less to do with meat and more to do with pay periods, and by the time I really understood the struggle of making ends meet - I was thick in the middle of the fight, myself.

These days, I thank God every day I go to work. I know so many good, intelligent people who have experienced the wrath of this wretched economy, and so my employment is not lost on me. I am so blessed to have a steady job with reasonably affordable health benefits and a provision that supports my saving for retirement.

Even with my blessings, I know its wise to dial down, tighten the belt, stretch a dollar. We're all trying to be smarter with money, and sometimes that means cutting things out of our routine - other times it means using smart substitutions.

Me? I crave socializing and tasty morsels. I can sit at home with a good book or twelve, and even if they're the best thing since sliced bread, I would struggle with the lack of social contact (well, save for the Twilight series). My sanity demands a somewhat regular schedule of conversation and cocktails, so I am now seeking out the more affordable happy hour options to pencil in my available evenings. Thankfully, I stumbled across this list of eats-on-the-cheap options at Newport on the Levee (in fact, Melissa Huelsman's entire blog is a great resource for folks looking to save money).

I normally don't spend much time at the Levee, instead choosing to support businesses and shop owners north of the Ohio in neighborhoods and close to downtown. However, this list of affordable happy hour bargains is enough to make me re-evaluate my list of hot spots, especially considering I spend a lot of time in Newport. $1.25 raw oysters? Specially priced appetizers? Dollar drafts? It all adds up to a delicious way to enjoy cocktails and your friends on the cheap.

Another way to buckle down? Forget a night on the town, stay home and sip on your favorite cocktail. I don't necessarily condone drinking alone, but I think drinking at home is a great, budget minded way to visit with friends and unwind after a long day. And you don't need to roll out the fully stocked bar for these get togethers chez moi, plan ahead of time and stock up on a case of wine at Trader Joe's. You can buy 12 bottles of Charles Shaw's best for less than $40 bucks. I think Two Buck Chuck is a fine wine to enjoy at home when you're just relaxing and not trying to impress anyone - and check the accolades, it's won several awards in California, too. If you can't make it to TJ's, head to the grocery and pick up a bottle of Crane Lake - it's great for the price point, too. Here's a great article with a few more suggestions for affordable wine.

If wine's not your thing, I suggest buying a couple bottles of inexpensive liquor. The fact of the matter is, premium vodka is exactly the same as the less expensive versions. You can enjoy your cosmos at home without shelling out for Ketel One, Grey Goose or those other obnoxiously overpriced versions. Now, bourbon is a different story. I'm partial to one of the best in the Bluegrass - Woodford Reserve - but sometimes I can't swing it on a tight budget. The fact is, I rarely drink bourbon on the rocks, and that's really the only scenario that calls for the best money can buy. If you're mixing with coke or vermouth, Jim Beam or Maker's Mark is just as fine.

Happy hour isn't the only thing I'm cutting back on.

Lunch time is a great time to stretch a dollar. There have been times in the past when I would think nothing of popping out the plastic to cover a $14 bowl of bibimbap and a soda while lunching away from the office. I have discovered I have less cash to my name since changing careers from a profession that did not allow for lunch out to one that does. With that in mind, I've been packing more lunches - frozen meals from the grocery store. Even that option provides frugal shoppers with some choices to cut back. Lately I've been forgoing the delicious but more pricey Healthy Choice Steamer Bowls (around $3.50) for the more basic HC offerings of spaghetti, broccoli alfredo and other less gourmet offerings (around $1.75).

One other opportunity to cut corners - look for more affordable options when getting your hair done. Some folks are willing to cruise in to Great Clips for their regular trim. I tend to rely on an option that's just as affordable - Aveda Frederic's Institute in Hyde Park. As someone who parades around with less than natural blonde hair, I am a slave to my monthly highlight job. The price of a full highlight is pretty great at the Aveda School (full foil for long hair, $50), but I try and stretch it out a little further by alternating between full foils, partials ($39), and accent lights (which are just along the part and crown, $25).

The School is a wonderful way to maintain your luxurious locks for less...

Whether you are a happy hour bar fly, a cocktail connoisseur or a diva dedicated to doing your hair, you can still indulge during these uncertain times while keeping your budget in check.

If I stick to my tips and tricks, I know I'll be less likely to have to eat Ends Meat.

What are your shortcuts for chic on a shoestring?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Late Night In Spain: The Photos

Bluegrass Brit finally put the pics from Saturday night up on Facebook. Here's a look at some great friends - and one random character (I'll let you guess who that is...)




Flying By

I can't believe I shot this video November First.

The weather was gorgeous, the company agreeable (thank you, Double Platinum) and the entertainment adrenaline inducing.

It's too bad Kings Island got rid of the backwards Racer - that one was my favorite.



I'll admit - the screaming was a bit over the top... but what can I say, I scream when I'm excited.

(6:21 pm) PS- In watching this video - I completely forgot about the portion at the end... when Andy makes the comment about the "jiggling." It appears to me the ride got things a bit out of kilter. I assure you I was far more covered up than the video may indicate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Breaking News: Your "Late Night in Spain" Questions Answered


No one has ever said that I didn't know how to party.
In fact, I have all kinds of photos and documentation that would disprove that claim.
This weekend I will be putting my party skills to good use at an event benefitting the Cincinnati Opera - serving as one of the many hosts for the Opera Late Night in Spain event.
As a host, I am inviting the fun and fabulous to a spectacular event that allows you to live large on a little budget. Guests take over the space left behind by the black tie glitterati attending the Cincinnati Opera's annual gala, avoiding the hefty $250-a-person ticket.
If you're frugal and fab, and looking for a swingin' shindig - the after-party is the best way to live like a high roller without spending like one.
Tomorrow's event starts at 10 pm in Music Hall's grand ballroom. You can buy tickets now for $30 a person - they'll be $40 a person at the door. The event includes a midnight buffet, a great DJ and "aerial entertainment."
Think - going to one of the hottest clubs in Ibiza without the layovers and brutal exchange rate.
Anyway.
If you're still interested, I've got some NEW INFORMATION from my contact at the Opera.
Check it out:
If you haven't bought your tickets yet, please do so! Just visit www.cincinnatiopera.org to purchase them. All tickets are increased price at the door, and we can only accept online reservations until 1:00pm tomorrow.
Doors for Late Night open at 10:30pm. Parking is available in the surface lot on Elm Street directly across from Music Hall.
Do note that our bar is CASH only - no credit cards. So be sure to hit an ATM before you arrive. (FYI: we do have an ATM in Music Hall. Should you need one, any opera staff member will be happy to show you where it is.)
Lots of folks have asked about the dress-- we've settled on "Cocktail / Club". Use your judgement (& creativity) with that one. You'll look fabulous! :)
Speaking of looking fabulous, we'll have a "photo station" available for you to have your picture taken. We will then email you your photos.
Can't wait to see you dressed to the nines and on the dance floor!
KtG

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Price of Thanks

Have you ever really been hungry?

Not, Oh, crap. We missed the last exit with a McDonald’s and will have to wait another 40 miles until we get a Big Mac hungry.

More like, scrounging and counting change and hoping it amounts to a can of baked beans that can tide you over until tomorrow hungry.

I mean, staring at your cupboard and refrigerator and wondering how inventive you can be with ketchup, canned tuna and a bag of rice when preparing your family dinner tonight hungry.

For most of us, “hungry” is the emotion we feel between lunch and dinner. Hungry is the twinge in our tummy that erupts when we opt to forgo the pastry in the morning meeting and realize we’ll have to wait until the afternoon to run out for a chicken burrito (yes, I’ll take the guacamole) at Chipotle.

But for a silent minority, hungry is something far more critical than a passing emotion. Hungry is a state of existence that transcends generations and neighborhoods. Hungry is a scenario facing not only those folks below the poverty line, but also those folks who are considered the “working poor.”

What do you know about poverty, anyway?

I sure as hell didn’t know much about poverty until I started exploring the circumstances. I brushed off those in need as people who perhaps didn't take advantage of the many human services available in Greater Cincinnati. I perceived some of these people to be lazy or mentally challenged – a nearly hopeless cause, trapped in a cycle of disadvantage.

The fact of the matter is, many people living in poverty are the same people who drive your bus, take care of your dry clean-only items or hand that Big Mac over to you through the drive-thru window.

Research shows a family or individual must be making 200% above the poverty level to be considered financially stable and self sufficient. The “poverty line” doesn’t cut it anymore – individuals must make more than $20,000, families of four $42,000 – to be considered economically solvent.

But there are many, many, many families in our area praying to pull together far less than 42 grand.

And those are the families and individuals that receive assistance from the hundreds of human service programs available in the Tri-State.

FreestoreFoodbank is one of those noble agencies.

Freestore has a variety of programs to help those in need. Some of these programs are what you’d expect, including grocery distribution to families with bare cupboards. Freestore also feeds our hungriest children, through a Kids CafĂ© program that offers prepared meals to students at local schools, and through a Backpack Program, which sends children home with enough food to tide them over through a weekend at home.

The agency certainly offers many hand outs, but I also am incredibly impressed with Freestore’s “hand up.” Cincinnati COOKS! is a program that helps train those in need, giving low-income, at-risk adults the skills they need to work in the food service industry. The program also strives to place these people in higher paying jobs with benefits and career potential.

So, you’ve read all this and you’re thinking, “That’s great, Kate. Freestore sounds wonderful, but what do you want me to do about it?”

Well, I’ve made my pitch – here’s the ask.

Like many agencies, Freestore is in need of your support this holiday season. Cash is tight for everyone, but even more so for those folks living on the edge of financial stability. More and more people will need Freestore’s services this holiday season, and that means more of us need to step up and make what sacrifice we can to help out.

I’m not asking for your time – though that’s just as valuable (if not more so) as cash for most of us.

I’m asking you to think about what you can contribute financially. Be it a couple cans of green beans or an entire Thanksgiving spread – any effort of any size will make a difference. A whole fryer turkey checks in at $26.55, and a 1/5 a pound of onions is a buck. There’s something for every budget.

Please join me and visit FreestoreFoodbank’s Virtual Food Drive, and consider what contribution you can make.

Let's ensure everyone will have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sever

I guess even the bartender needs a good, stiff drink once in a while.

The aisles were full tonight at Kroger - people stocking up on frozen dinners (fyi: Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice are all running at about the same price point, all save for the el cheapo, lower end HC meals - $1.69), Thanksgiving dinner ingredients and jugs of milk for tomorrow's cereal.

I was on a mission to find my fixings for lunch, casing the shelves for something ambiguous and insignificant. Tuna salad? No. Ramen. NO. Crystal Lite? Okay. I toted my basket up and down every aisle, just checking out the merchandise, when I noticed a familiar face.

He used to be my bartender. I mean, not just any bartender - but MY bartender. The guy who I visited at least three times a week. My dear friend and I would perch on a bar stool on any given afternoon, sipping Blue Moons and noshing on pizza, savory apps or extra generous slices of BonBonnerie's Opera Cream Cake.

We would trade stories and kindness with our friend behind the bar, receiving in return extra pints of beer on the sly. Our checks were always closed with generous tips.

Tonight, my blond-tipped friend was intently eying the juice section.

I spotted his form while stepping toward his direction. His antsy stance jerked back and forth between the varieties, contemplating the ramifications of his selection. My bartender-cum-friend was intensely eying the plastic bottles lining the shelves when I offered my cheery hello.

The response was decidedly frazzle wrapped in courtesy, and so I immediately knew this would be the briefest of conversations.

He didn't bury the lead - my acquaintance was wrought with emotion after a charged argument with his ex-fiancee, a situation, he shared, complicated by a nine-month-old baby.

Ten different shades of awkward washed over me, but I maintained my polite disposition and took a step toward the greeting cards on the other side of the aisle, physically preparing for my quick exit.

The man said he was at the store, trying to blow off some steam (aside: the grocery is the last place I consider when needing to dial down the emotion). I attempted to lighten the mood with a smile and a gesture, saying the liquor was in the opposite direction.

A sad state of affairs, and yet I saw this coming from a mile away.

I remember bumping into this guy last January. I was with a few of my gal pals, barhopping in Hyde Park. We walked into an establishment where I discovered this gent getting his drink on in a kilt. He was flush-faced and jovial at that place in time, slamming down Irish beer and clinkng glasses to toast the impending birth of his child. Our bartender-friend's celebration was in full swing as he offered that his pregnant fiancee was at home, alone on a Saturday night.

That's an equation that's hard for any chick to swallow, much less an engaged chick with a baby swiftly approaching.

The whole scenario - the story about the break-up, the baby, last year's bar encounter - it made me wonder: Have I ever done something that someone else saw coming?

Was there ever a moment where a person - a stranger, really - knew me better than myself? An occasion where someone could plainly see something I was blind to?

Now, that's something to sip on.

Meeting Edward

Twilight freaks - have you bought your tickets yet?


I am so grateful to GOP Big Wig for turning me on to the series that has consumed my life since Mid October. I am just about to dive in to book four, Breaking Dawn, and am just as anxious to see the flick Friday night.

Interesting discussion I had with the local Twitterati (are you going to the OTRtweetup?): Do you think the movie version of Edward is just as hot as the Edward you've imagined while reading?

I, for one, have envisioned a guy who's a cross between princes William and Harry.

I am so jealous of Bella.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rock Steady

Forget Interview With a Vampire. What about an interview with an ex?

KtG: Hey there... I always wondered if this conversation would happen. I mean, it's been a long time since we've spoken... and yet I think about you - voluntarily or not - at least every other day.

Him: Well, darlin'. It's nice to talk to you, too. What's this all about anyway? Lots of time has passed but I have an idea of what's goin' on - I catch your blog from time to time. Still, it's not like we talk or anything.

KtG: I have to say, this wasn't really anything I felt like sharing with you, or the world for that matter. But I guess it all came about after I had a few glasses of wine with some friends and heard Anthony Kiedis on the radio. Really, if I knew all those moments would have had this Pavlov's Dog kind of reaction on me, then I would have never let you play Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik every. single. time. I was with you.

Him: Whatever. It's not like you didn't like it. Besides... I was sick of all that acoustic Dave Matthews crap that you would play with him. I guess I needed to come up with my own theme music. Right?

KtG: Riiight. You know, I didn't really intend on having this conversation with you, either. But you hijacked my thoughts... er, Anthony Kiedis did, and so here we are - having this imaginary chat. And I'm okay with that. In fact, I think at this point I'd enjoy spending a conversation with you. A lot of shit is under the bridge - if you forgive the pun - and I guess I'm just curious or wondering how you're doing.

Him: You know what, you don't need to know shit about what I'm doing. But since you're so interested, things are great. I love my wife and I adore my children.

KtG: Dude. No need to get pissy. I really don't want to upset your applecart. I don't mean to disrupt any of your shit - I just wonder about the past, you know? And I guess you are a fraction of my past - good, bad or indifferent. It's not my fault I thought about you tonight.

Him: That's cool - as long as that's all it is. But if you're wondering, yeah, I am pretty happy with the way things are. I'm still doing what I love and I have a family I treasure... so I guess things are really good.

KtG: That sounds wonderful, and in some ways I'm kinda jealous. I guess we all end up where we really want to be, right? I'm really happy with the way my life is, too. I finally got out of TV and have grown up a lot since back in the day. I'm involved in a bunch of things and I have an amazing group of friends. I guess I'm not the girl you had to clean up after a drunken drama anymore. Or was that you?

Him: That's a cheap shot. But I'll give you that... because that evening was pretty awful, and I have the scar to prove it. So tell me, are you liking life out of the newsroom? I mean, really? 'Cause I remember the raving bitch you used to be in the newsroom when you didn't get your way. And it seemed you kind of liked things the way they were.

KtG: Yeah. I've mellowed out a ton. Don't know if it's time or maturity or perspective - but I've changed immensely. My confidence isn't... You know, I don't think I really want to share much more with you about my professional or personal lives. You said it yourself - you read the blog, so you know everything about me... or at least everything I share. I guess what I really want to talk about is... what would have been.

Him: What would have been? Like what? What would have been if you stayed in town and weren't so clingy?

KtG: Whatever. What I mean, is, I guess if we had stayed together and I followed your lead - then maybe I would still be in town. Maybe things would have turned out different for us. I guess I have wondered on more than one occasion what would have happened if we had stayed together and if I had stayed in the business.

Him: First of all, you're the one having this imaginary conversation, so you can brush off clingy all you want - it's obvious you developed some sort of attachment. But in regards to your comment, if things would have been so different, tell me your little fantasy. I'm curious.

KtG: Well, I don't really know. Lots of time has passed and I've discovered more about what's important to me, and I guess I realize that I don't think much of it is important to you. It would have made things really difficult along the way. I'm guessing we'd be divorced by now, or extremely miserable. But that doesn't mean our lives wouldn't be different than they are now.

Him: Yeah. I guess if we were together - then I think things would be different, too.

KtG: How?

Him: Well, I guess in some ways you get what I do. I think the one good thing is you would have been supportive of what I do. I mean, I adore my wife and she is totally supportive of what I do, but I think you have a more solid sense of appreciating all the bull shit I go through... you would get all the crap that folks outside of the business don't.

KtG: That was one thing that I always loved about you. Your talent. Really, I don't think we'd be anywhere near this area if we were still together. Honestly? I think we'd be in Denver or Minneapolis. 'Cause I think I'd wanna go where you'd flourish, and I've had job opportunities in both cities. It would have definitely been a different scene. But I also wonder whether I'd be lonely.

Him: Well, if we were together, why would you be lonely? Granted, this is all Let's pretend, but why would you feel alone if we were together? Don't you think we could have held things together? As I remember, there were a few occasions where things clicked just fine.

KtG: You changed for her, but would you have changed for me? And how much changing would you have gone through? I would have needed more than a good dad and a fun husband. I would have needed a fellow adventurer to seek out new excursions in life - whether they be new restaurants around town or far-flung vacation spots. I guess that's a little bit different than going to the beach with the kids, right?

Him: Don't talk about my fucking kids. I love my kids. Don't say shit about my kids.

KtG: Seriously. You've got to do something about the hostility. You were always a hostile person, but really, it's been years since we've talked and I really don't harbor any bad feelings about you anymore. I think more than enough time's passed for you to get over whatever wrongs or indiscretions may have passed back in the day.

Him: Fine. You're right. What were you gonna say?

KtG: Well, what I was going to say is - I still don't think I'm ready for kids. I'm ready for seeing the world and experiencing new things and going to fun parties. I'm not a homebody. I don't want to cook you dinner every night. I don't want to have to pick up the toys in the den. I don't want to have to take the trash bag (full of poopy diapers) to the garbage can. I don't think we had much in common other than our profession, so maybe things worked out for the best. That doesn't mean I don't wonder.

Him: Yeah. I don't know if it would have worked, either. But it doesn't mean I'm not curious about what's up with you. Just because I'm married and in love with my wife doesn't mean I don't wonder. We all wonder about the past on occasion.

KtG: Well, I guess we're doing what we were meant to be doing. I guess it all works out the way it's supposed to.

Him: I guess so.

KtG: Well, I've gotta go. I've got some stuff to take care of, and I hear your kids in the background.

Him: It's been nice talking to you. Despite the the attitude, it doesn't mean I don't think about you, either.

KtG: I wondered about that, too. It's too bad we didn't part as friends. I think we could have really hit it off if we didn't let the rest of the mess get in the way. Oh well, what was - was. Right?

Him: Right. Best of luck and I'll see you around the internet.

KtG: Okay... best of luck with your disolves and other tricks. And dude, - don't hold this imaginary conversation against me. It was all Anthony Kiedis' fault. Really... most of the time I don't feel like sharing this shit... but it came at his suggestion.

Note: This interview is fictional in nature and doesn't represent anything of any substance - other than a few historic incidents and emotions that may or may not have transpired in the past.

Other than that, it's total bunk.

Twitterati Freak Out

Tweeps, I am dyin'.

It's almost like we're gonna have to exchange email and phone numbers so we can communicate, kibbitz and otherwise exchange information - one. person. at. a. time.

What Are You Doing To Save The World?

It only takes a second (and an office recycling box) to do your part of something great.

Kiss Off, Miami

I didn't see SNL this weekend, and only just caught wind of this skit.

Kiesewetter has started some of the conversation about the impetus for the Miami t-shirts...

If they really wanted to spoof Miami U, they would have had Paul and Andy wear polo shirts with popped collars.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vast Anticipation

Restlessness is buried deep within myself.

Not the kind of restlessness that comes with sleepless nights, or the anxiety one feels in a meeting that drags on and on. No, my restlessness is married to wanderlust - an insatiable desire to see and feel and taste and experience more than my world can offer.

Don't get me wrong - Cincinnati is pretty damn great - but my soul grows anxious for new experiences, and sometimes that's best achieved when you're removed from familiarity.

I think the whole process is akin to a super hero getting recharged with an elixir that feeds sub-human powers. I can't move mountains, but a little R and R (and adventure) can do wonders for my disposition, motivation and happiness.

And so a year has passed since I took my last vacation - a year since I piled on that plane, returning home with bags of tulip bulbs and Indian spices. More than 12 months since I had an opportunity to wander and wonder without a pressing deadline, without a concern for commitment or schedule. Since then, my heart has grown hungry - longing for a new destination and untold adventure.

For me, half the fun is planning the journey.

I love scouring the internets, in search of the best four-star hotel my Priceline purchase can buy. The planning also involves reading a more than a dozen websites, guide books and consulting friends with tales to share about my given destination. I weigh my options, considering tricked out dining experiences against more dive-y but genuine offerings enjoyed by locals.

Each trip requires seeking out the neighborhood bead shop - filled with the hope I'll find the perfect semi-precious beads for my own handmade souvenir.

Long walks are the fabric of my journeys. My well worn shoes are comfortable with the paces around an unfamiliar metropolis. I like walking memorable paths, taking treks in significant spaces - across Abbey Road, along New York's Broadway, down the Eiffel Tower.

And so now my brain is dreaming of my newest adventure - a trip to the West Coast.

I've been wanting to visit my dear friend, D Money, in Eugene, OR. I've decided to tack on some extra time, starting my vacation in San Francisco. My brain is already dreaming of burritos from the Mission District, a boat cruise in the Bay, a long walk along the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can't wait to check out Fisherman's Wharf, and all of the fresh delicacies from the Pacific. No doubt about it, there are a couple cocktails in my future in San Fran - I just have to decide on which swanky bars to explore.

The restlessness is still inside my soul - but, at least at this moment, it's got something to focus on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Season of Change

The trees are on fire, burning shades of sienna, crimson and goldenrod.

Graceful gusts of wind catch the wayward leaves, swirling them around until my feet shuffle through their crunchy bits on the sidewalk. The statuesque trees of copper and gold line the streets, a seasonal awning I pass beneath in awe.

I pull tight my coat, fighting off the brisk weather and wondering about a year gone by.

The months started with the mercury bottomed out, and with each passing day this sphere I call home spun and tilted a little closer to the sun. Nature turned green and then the days grew warm and long - a series returning us to this season of reflection.

Autumn is the time to examine the year gone by and make amends before time closes the chapter on another year.

High heels click on the cold concrete after a long day at the office, a gray evening with shadows more familiar in a black-and-white movie. Nature spent everything it had, thriving during spring and summer, and now is retreating to a more subdued state of relaxation.

It seems the maple tree is burning all its energy, striving to go out with a final burst of beauty.

My nostrils flair, I inhale deeply to savor the smoke from a nearby fire, roaring in someone's cozy living room.

More often then not, these days are spent with some kind of scarf wrapped around my ivory neck - soft pashminas, luxurious velvet versions, itchy-scratchy wooly woven scarves. I retreat into a closet full of warmer clothes, my only defense against what I'm powerless in preventing.

I am content with my season.

I am content with my change.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Shake It Off

I've been told I'm pretty tight - at least where my grip is concerned.

I distinctly remember the first time I was motivated to shake someone's hand. I was about 16 years old and I was meeting a man whose children I was going to babysit one evening. This gentleman was a local police officer, and so for some reason I was inspired to show him I would be strong enough to care for his children. When he greeted me at the front door, I threw out my right hand, poised to introduce myself in the traditional manner.

The police officer-father shared his surprise in discovering my firm handshake. I blushed because it was truly the first time I shook a man's hand without my parents' prompting.

I had shaken hands many times before. I remember meeting executives who worked with my father; it was an industry made up of mostly men in nice suits or sport coats. These men would visit from out of town, stopping by the house for a cocktail before dinner on the company expense account. My mother would be upstairs, pulling the hot rollers out of her hair, so my dad would introduce my sister and me to the guest du jour.

They all were typically the same. They'd bend over in our direction, shower us with big grins and then shove out their hands, waiting for us to reciprocate.

Our tiny hands would timidly limp out, not sure of the technique of this ritual.

Over time, we'd play along with this little game, gently offering our hand with smiles and giggles, knowing our grown-up counterparts were getting a kick out of this charade.

Years passed, and the handshaking ritual was pretty much lost on me. My friends and I greeted each other with high-fives, friendly waves or hugs, but nary a handshake. Even in high school, any handshake was embellished with fancy hand gestures and "secret" moves establishing an inside joke of sorts.

I recall one classmate who did greet people with the standard handshake enjoyed by adults around the world, and I remember thinking that was a little bit odd.

College came, and with it - independence, responsibility and promise. I began relying on the 'ol handshake for more formal ventures - meeting with politicos (I was well-connected back in the day, but it was for the "other" side), professors and parents of friends.

Senior year. Graduation. Finally, my opportunity at a "real job," and with that opportunity, a chance to establish myself as a credible professional. The hand shake is the first greeting that shows your potential employer your mettle. Do you offer a dead fish? Do you tilt your hand down and shake like a lady? Are you a bone crusher?

Over the years, I have perfected the perfect grip. It's a full on, finger tips-on-the-other-person's-wrist, clinch. My technique is disarming when a gentleman is expecting something a bit demure. Most people embrace my handshake, a firm but comfortable gesture that imparts grace and confidence.

For all my expertise as one of the world's great handshakers, I absolutely HATE it when I encounter someone who offers a less than substantial hand. Women whose handshakes are archaic and demure disappoint me. Men who adjust their handshakes to accommodate my female form are embarrassing and patronizing.

I prefer encounters with people who offer handshakes as confident and respectful as mine.

These days, I am now the crazy lady who bends down to a child's level and thrusts out my big, soft palm. Most children stare at my hand, a bit confused about its intentions.

After some prodding by mom or dad, the weary child's hand creeps out and briefly comes in contact with mine. Sometimes I feel like saying, Hey kid. I think it's kinda weird, too.

I'm just trying to prepare the business world for a new mover and shaker - one hand at a time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

All A-Twitter

Are you on Twitter?

Would you like to meet your local Twitter friends?

Come to Greater Cincinnati's first tweet-up at Over-the-Rhine's Below Zero Lounge at 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 20.

It's a great way for you to put a face to a name, and talk to your Tweeple/Twitterites/Twitterverse in more than 140 characters.

No need to come looking like your avatar...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thank You, Jesus

John McCain is conceding.

Thank you, Lord, for granting my heartfelt prayer.

A new day is dawning in the United States of America.

Viva change!

Viva Obama!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Pilgrim's Pride

I revere Election Day as a more patriotic holiday than the Fourth of July.

Sure, fireworks and 21 gun salutes are fun.

And I guess it's kinda cool when we all dress up in red, white and blue and sit down to corn-on-the-cob and potato salad (I prefer the German version, but that's just my opinion) to celebrate our independence.

But the fact of the matter is, my casting a ballot on Election Day is the single most patriotic demonstration I can make to show my pride.

My interest in politics and our lawmakers started off young - I remember writing a letter to Ronald Reagan when I was a girl (the subject, long forgotten, likely fit somewhere between the war on drugs and a request for a pony so I could avoid the school bus), a message that was rewarded by a generic yet friendly missive on White House stationary and an 8x10 glossy photo with a stamped signature.

I was tickled.

My interest in politics is ingrained in my genes. My father's parents were dedicated servants of the Youngstown Democratic Party, working on campaigns and serving in elected positions in their community. My mother's parents were also interested in politics. My grandmother volunteered at the polls on occasion. My grandfather, despite a longtime Republican, sent a scathing letter to then vice president George H. W. Bush.

His fiery note was responded to with another potent letter - handwritten by the Vice President, himself.

This morning, I cast my ballot for Barack Obama and was filled with pride. Pride because I was voting for a politician I actually believed in. I fought back the tears, savoring the awe that this (at least for me) was not an election of lesser evils. This was a contest of hope, of promised change.

The 2008 election had finally arrived, and I was elated I could take part in such a monumental occasion.

I will truly be crushed tomorrow morning if "the other guy" claims the White House.

Monday, November 03, 2008

GOTV

Republican or Democrat - please take a moment (or several, considering the expected lines) to consider what you value and how those beliefs translate in the voting booth.

Just get out and vote.


Saturday, November 01, 2008