Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Year It Was

Pow, right in the kisser.

That's how I feel about the past year. The last 12 months have offered a wild ride with crazy ups that felt like sex on fire and crazy downs that felt like a sucker punch.

Fingers crossed that 2011 offers more of the former.

January - A kick ass trip to San Francisco. 'Twas my second time in that grand, glorious city, but the first time visiting during restaurant week, as well as first time visits to Chez Panisse and Sonoma (highlights include Robledo and Cline wineries).

February - LOST. It started with a DVD rental in May, 2009. It concluded with a kick ass finale a year later. I began watching LOST with the rest of the brethren last February, and the series dictated my life for the three months that followed. LOST is a good show. If you haven't watched it, I suggest adding it to your Netflix queue.

March - Two great things this month. First, I stood up and gave a presentation on the art of Looking Good While Cooking Naked at Cincinnati's second Ignite evening. It was a phenomenal, challenging experience that has really impacted my idea of public speaking. I've always had a knack for standing up and saying something to a crowd - I had no idea pictures would be so important, too. Also in March, I had probably one of the most frank and personal conversations of my life with someone I deeply care for. Was one of the most honest moments of my life and has become an example of how I strive to interact with all people.

April -  My apologies, but I can't really assign anything significant to April. Que sera.

May - The month I assumed a position on the Junior League of Cincinnati's executive board. The JLC has made a huge impact in my life, teaching me leadership skills and offering service opportunities. I've made great relationships while serving with the organization and am excited about my two-year term as Communications VP. Equally important: Lawmakers in D.C. passed important health care reform legislation. This is a milestone, people, and it will impact every family for years to come.

June - The great migration to Over-the-Rhine. June, 26, 2010 will always go down as the day my life changed forever. Sounds kind of blown up, but if you've moved to OtR or appreciate the neighborhood, you totally understand the sentiment.

July - My first brush with OtR crime. Someone hopped a fence and stole the back wheel off my bicycle. Armed with enough locks and cable to secure Fort Knox, I've learned my lesson and intend on living a theft-free lifestyle in my neighborhood. God help the bastard who messes with the scooter I'm planning to buy in the spring.

August - The blog turned six. If this isn't a milestone, then I don't know what is.

September - MPMF. I'll never forget it. There I was, jumping up and down and dancing under a tent behind Grammer's, grooving to the Tom Tom Club, when I noticed that the woman jumping along side me was none other than Cincinnati Enquirer food writer Polly Campbell. It was a fun night for Cincinnati, and meeting Polly in person was the cherry on top.

September runner-up: United Way's text-to-give effort. The Labor Day effort made for a huge undertaking at the office, but I was jazzed to get to appear on Fox19's morning show, as well as escort Cincinnati Bengal #57 to the studios for his own media appearance. In my book, any day you see Dhani is pretty great.

October - Mockbee Halloween. Where else is it acceptable to go out in public in nothing but a bathing suit and fishnet hose? I loved my Liza Minelli/Chita Rivera costume, and I'm certain it will make another appearance someday.

November - Too many to mention. OtR Field Day/United Way Future Fund event/Murder Mystery party/Watch This "On The Waterfront." The second to last month of the year dished up an amazing array of unique social endeavors. How do people in this city get away with saying they're bored?

December - A Car-Free Lifestyle. The Saab sputtered its way out of my life during the Christmas holiday. Initially a scary prospect, I am really excited about being sans car and even launched a new blog to chronicle the experience.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm Cheating On You

Stop the presses. I'm starting a new blog.

Some big life decisions have led me to think about how I live my life. For those of you who've been following along on Twitter and the blog, it's no secret - my car has given me a significant headache this past year.

It started with the crazy car exhaust drama last May, followed by some really expensive brakes drama this autumn, followed by a window smashing. Add in a new tire and a new car battery, and 2010 is chalking up to a $2000+ year for the ol' Saab.

Over the Christmas holiday, my car started teasing me with hints of major engine woes. Flickers of the fiery red Check Oil light, staccato ticking under the hood. All signs pointed to misery, and I was ready to throw the key in the door, light a match and walk away.

And that's kind of what I'm doing.

Yesterday, I called up the dealership, asked them to stand down on a $500 procedure to assess the engine damage, and began putting the wheels in motion to get rid of the damn car.

Now, I freaking love that ride. The Saab and I have had some good times - trips to New England, Georgia and Nashville. We've enjoyed the open road together, and I am a bit sad to see her go.

But the year ahead is going to bring with it new opportunities, new challenges and a bevy of kick-ass experiences.

Rather than clutter up my single girl stream with woes and wonders of life sans-car, I'm starting a new blog.

Kate's Random Musings will still be the completely random, irreverent, insightful place it always has been.

Car Free In The Queen City will hopefully be much different. This blog is going to chronicle life in a Midwestern town with fledgling (but not fantastic) public transportation options. Just as random as my original blog, CFCQ is going to be a smattering of information, stories, reflections and ramblings about life without a car. I imagine there will be a bit of an overlap (hello, blog post about single girl riding the bus to a date...), but I'm going to try really hard to keep the content different.

The new blog is in transition (read: I just set it up this morning), so please don't knock it. I've got a bit of work to do on the template and other nitty gritty details, but it's ready to roll with content, complete with its very first blog post.

CFQC even has its own Twitter account, CarFreeQC, so feel free to follow me there for kicks and quips.

Thanks for all of the support y'all have offered me through this major life decision. I'm committing to one year sans car; I'll be eligible to buy a new car as soon as Christmas Eve, 2011, the anniversary of the last time I took the Saab for a spin.

This is going to be so exciting.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

When It Counts

Money makes the world go 'round.

You don't have to dance like Liza to know that having a few more bucks in your pocket makes things a little better.

I've been a bit more in tune with my budget recently thanks to my latest car woes. If money was no object, I'd write a check, have my car fixed and be done with it.

But life is never that easy, is it?

The lovely Dork and His Pork (who was just featured in Cincinnati Magazine, btw) invited me over for some homemade bourbon egg nog and bourbon ice cream recently. It was an afternoon for two friends to celebrate Knob Creek and catch up at the conclusion of the year.

We were trading stories about food, family and our circle of friends when Jeff made the most casual comment that hit me like a ton of bricks.

"I only go out to eat when it counts," he quipped as he trailed off about other lessons in frugality.

I took pause, my brain immediately flashing the images of a hundred meals out with friends over the years. Yes, many were delicious, and most were with special people. But how many really counted?

This was a profound thought for my universe.

I have always been one of those people who will contemplate and immediately commit to the idea of dining out instead of cooking in. You see, it is a real pain in the ass to warm a pan and roast a chicken/sear some tuna/grill a steak when you are cooking for one. There's the preparation of said meal and the clean up that follows, never mind the lack of instant gratification.

Cooking for one kind of sucks.

Now, I would go through the motions and deliver a live, baby cow in my kitchen and butcher its veal steaks myself if it meant serving a delicious meal to my friends. But cooking for one? No fun, no dice.

Which is why I am so quick to sign on for a breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner out.

And this habit is raping my bank account.

I asked Jeff to back up and explain a little bit more about his mention, and he said that he really only commits to dining experiences that involve important relationships and important occasions. It was a reasonable qualifier that I tend to believe more people invoke than I realize.

The gears in my head started turning and I thought about any number of random brunches, lunches and dinners out. I thought about the thousands and thousands of dollars that I've figuratively swallowed down my gullet.

And that's when I decided I was going to make a concerted effort to only commit to meals out when they count.

I don't know how I'm going to accomplish this. Some of it involves packing more lunches (which, in turn, means more food prep at home), and some of it means making other cost-effective plans with friends. Some of it means inviting more friends into my home, and I am giddy with delight about that.

I love entertaining and I love showing my friends that I care for them through the act of cooking.

And those moments always count.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Come On Ride The Bus, 'N Ride It

Cars are not cool.

Okay, so some of them are. The 1956 Jaguar XK-140 in Cruel Intentions is pretty bad ass. I saw that movie and wished that I, too, had a boyfriend who got hit by a car in New York City so that I could cruise around the Hamptons in his kick ass ride.

Okay, maybe not the boyfriend-hit-by-a-car part. But the rest of it would be awesome.


My car is not nearly as cool. It's a Saab so that means it enjoys a bit of a cult following, but otherwise it's a piece of crap. GM did a horrible job of building Saabs when it fully owned the brand beginning in 2000. The 1999 to 2002 models have an inclination for developing sludge, which can render the engine completely inoperable.

And that might just be the problem I have on my hands.

A whole lot of bummer, huh?

The great thing about this dilemma is that I don't live out in the sticks. I live just blocks away from the heart of Downtown Cincinnati. I live steps away from great cultural and dining and drinking establishments (not to mention a host of really interesting people residing in OtR/CBD).

And I have fairly convenient access to Metro, Cincinnati's public transit system.

Metro currently consists of a pretty simple wheel-and-spokes busing system that circles the metropolitan area and shoots in to the city on key, arterial roads around the Tri-State.

I recently rode the bus to Clifton to visit a great pal and had a fun time watching the people and looking out the window at my surroundings. Some of my observations were really valid and legitimate. A few of them are completely silly.

First off. What is up with the people who ride the bus and talk to themselves? An old, grey haired man who sat a few seats away from me punctuated our ride with random outbursts directed at no one in particular. He smattered his rambling with, "Smitty smells!" or something similar, followed by nonsensical prattling.

The people on the bus are a trip.

About Metro. I really wish a few things about Metro. I wish its website was more interactive. I wish its online system maps weren't massive PDFs. I wish Metro had its own mobile app (for every kind of phone - iPhone, Droid, BlackBerry, you-name-it). I wish Metro had electronic signage at the bus stop shelters informing riders about which bus lines were arriving and when.

Metro really could be so much for the city, but it has a chicken-egg predicament on its hands. People in the sticks won't ride the bus unless it becomes more convenient, but Metro likely won't make convenient improvements until ridership rises. Chicken-egg.

I can't wait to see how Metro changes/evolves/improves when Cincinnati gets its streetcar system.

As the 17 bus whooshed through Clifton, I was struck by the strange logo for the urology office on Clifton Ave. It's this weird image that looks like it has a little blue heart on the end of a penis. I am all about truth and simplicity in advertising, but I think this logo is a bit much. I mean, I get it. You are a urology office. Is it necessary for you to be so balls-out with your signage?

It was a bit much for my taste.

Something else that could be a little gamy. There's a restaurant on McMillan in the heart of UC's dining mecca that has a neon sign of a lobster hanging in the window. I think the restaurant was Maki Express Sushi, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. One thing I know of: I am never hitting up the area near campus for lobster. I don't care if it's boiled, steamed, baked or stuffed.

Gyros, pad thai or pho? Yes. Lobster? No.

I don't think I've ever noticed that neon lobster in the window before. Normally I am behind the wheel and trying to avoid the college students who are playing Frogger and jaywalking. Riding the bus gave me the opportunity to gaze out the window and notice the world around me.

The next week or so will bring with it the ultimate news about my car. The road ahead could involve a couple, less expensive fixes (for only $1800) or it could reveal the possible need for a new engine, which prices at between $3500 and $6000, depending on if I go used or new.

The need for a new engine could be the death knell for Sabine the Saab. Maybe not.

The one thing that's certain: Whether I decide to fix the car or junk it and buy a scooter in early spring, it looks like I'll be riding the bus for a while.

And I'm okay with that.

It gives me a chance to watch the world around me.
Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peace On Earth

So, yesterday was a clusterfuck explosion.

My apologies for the expletive, but it's the most appropriate word to describe what unfolded at the conclusion of my holiday break.

Rather than give you the blow-by-blow (because really, when looking at the series of events from afar, it's all a bunch of chicken shit), I am going to share with you a few nuggets of how I turned my frown upside down and made Monday a winner.

How droll.

So, there I was. Monday morning. Signing paperwork so a tow truck driver could take my almost 10-year-old Saab to the dealership for some calamity involving that most terrifying image on the dashboard - the crimson red Check Oil light. I say dealership because my two preferred local auto shops have some crazy idea of taking a break for the holidays. Both close their doors between Christmas and New Year's, leaving the rest of us to wail and gnash our teeth. Or support the dealership.

But I digress.

A couple hours later I found myself back in the safe confines of Over-the-Rhine (you know, this kind of stuff doesn't happen in my neighborhood), ready to crank up the endorphins.

Piling on the North Face, the wool and the sunglasses, I set out for a walk through downtown. After a spin through the bank, I walked to Fountain Square and decided to cruise through the skywalks. Have you done that lately? Some of the city's skywalk segments have been demolished, but you can still travel from the Westin to the Hilton Netherland/Tower Place/Carew Tower and then on to Macy's/Tiffany & Co./Palomino via skywalk. The enclosed pathways make a convenient way of getting around downtown when the temperature is making parts of your body cut glass or shrivel up.


Skywalk. I took it to Tower Place mall and discovered that, while this mall is a few pulses away from life support, Cincinnati's TJ Maxx is pretty kick ass.

There is one thing in this world that can make me feel better when I'm coping with heartache and tear stained cheeks. That one thing is shoes.

Shoes, glorious shoes.

So, there's a part of me that completely identifies with Toni Collette's character in the movie, In Her Shoes. She's the dorky older sister who has nothing in common with her younger sister. Rose is successful in her professional endeavors, but her personal life leaves a bit to be desired. And she has the most amazing shoe collection.

Doesn't quite fit me to a T, but it's close.

Shoes. The best way to make the corners of my mouth crinkle up. The best way to wash away hurtful statements and misunderstandings and disappointments. Shoes.

So very Carrie, eh?

I untied my Merrell walking shoes - the ones that still have purple on them from ArtsWave's Paint The Street - and peeled off my dingy black socks to lace up one of the most beautiful pair of shoes.

A pair of black-and-white, polka dotted, Betsey Johnson stilettos with beautiful satin bows on the side. Originally around $160, on sale at TJ's for $80.
Really, this picture does not do these shoes justice

I strutted over to the mirror, my jeans rolled up and my heart singing, thinking about stepping out of a car in these shoes as I headed to the Aronoff/a fabulous dinner/New Year's with friends/You Name It.

And the entire time my conscience was saying, "Are you crazy, woman? Your car is at the effing dealership. Are you ready for that expense?"

With some of the information that has come in since yesterday about my car, I am partially inclined to think I should have bought those shoes. But that's a story for another time.

Another pair of Betseys. So freaking cute.

After I strolled up the aisles of the TJ Maxx in these cute shoes, I was feeling pretty grand. The kind of feeling that strikes a girl when she's rocking stilettos. The kind of feeling that makes me want to say, "Okay, assholes. Who's next? Mama's kicking ass and taking names."

And then I put the shoes back on the shelf.

Common sense won out in this battle. If I really, really want the shoes, and if my budget can swing it, I'm going to go back to TJ Maxx later this week. If they're still there, it's meant to be.

The real win was successfully coping with my bum mood.

When we're babies and little kids, we can cry and scream and throw tantrums and mom and dad rush in to make us smile. They prop us up with toys or hugs and kisses or lollypops. When we're grown ups, it's up to us to make ourselves feel great.

Sure, we have friends and husbands and wives and significant others who can lend a hand and offer a pick-me-up, but we're really the only ones responsible for our own emotions.

And I am clearing out the cobwebs, erradicating the bad juju and making my corner of the world a little bit happier.

Because "Peace on Earth" begins with me, and I'm owning it.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bollywood or Bust, Baby

So I am preparing myself for the Slumdog Millionaire experience.

Like most Americans, I don't know a whole lot about India. I know that I think saris are beautiful, I love the way glass bracelets clang together, and I am a huge fan of anything curry.

The thing is, India is really on the other side of the world, and its culture couldn't be more different than the Western World to which I'm accustomed.

Whereas we're all Judeo-Christian and pop culturey over here, India is a place rooted in Hindu, Muslim and Buddism and places more importance on ancient cultural traditions than fly-by-night movie stars and quasi-celebutants.

It's time for some culture shock.

Last week, Wingman and I booked a nine-day trip to Delhi, Agra in Jaipur. It's going to be totally kick ass. Meeting people with different life experiences, exploring different rituals of faith and tradition, taking a million photos of the Taj Mahal. I can't wait to visit a place that's like nothing I've ever experienced.

The one thing I'm a bit hesitant about. The heat.

So, we're going in Mid-May. Coincidentally, that happens to be India's hottest month. Temps could climb to as high as 115*.

At first I didn't think that sounded too horrible. India's heat is a dry heat, much like Vegas in August. And I've been to Vegas in August. The only difference, I can't really wear my "Vegas Clothes" to India.


Whereas Vegas Clothes involve spaghetti straps, plunging necklines and shrinking hemlines, India is more like swaddling yourself like Baby Jesus. Or Buddha. Or whatever.

Specifically, Indian travel guides suggest clothing that shows no chest flesh, covers shoulders and has hem lines that extend below the knee (and preferably to the ankle).

It sounds very Big Love.

All joking aside, I am a bit nervous about all that clothing in oppressive heat. And to make matters even more tricky, some guides suggest travelers cover their heads to avoid scalp sunburns.

I know I'll need to cover my head when I enter mosques (thankfully no burqa), and I'm totally fine with that. I want to be reverent and respectful of others' beliefs.

My primary concern is avoiding sweating my balls off.

There's one thing I'm certain of, though. The experience in India is going to be life-changing, full of sensory overload and possibly magical.

And that sounds so freaking cool to me that I'm willing to deal with any heatwave.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Christmas Blog Post Ever

I hate to disappoint you, but I didn't write it.

But the holiday blog post over at Hyperbole and a Half is so freaking hilarious, that I just couldn't let the day go by without sharing it.

It is eliciting raucous reactions in my network. To wit, friends have cried, laughed out loud (I mean audible guffawing, not the LOLing that runs rampant on the interwebs), and cracked smiles. Real smiles.


If you need a funny, or if you just want to have a great moment laughing about Christmas and one person's hilarious childhood memory, then click that link.

Or don't.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

See, I'm Not The Only One

The lack of a response in RSVPing is making the national news.

And to think, I only blogged about this two weeks ago.

People. Do it. Tell hosts if you're attending parties or not.

Don't respond, and I'll guarantee you won't receive another invite from said host.

Well, at least this host.

(Thanks to jenlkessler for the heads up on this one via Facebook.)

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride

A long time ago, I decided that my relationship status was never going to impact my quality of life.

Whether I was in a relationship, married, with a standing companion or minus +1, I was committed to ensuring my life would be as fabulous as it could be.

It sounds easy, doesn't it? It sounds as simple as accepting invitations and seeking out cultural/social opportunities that are enriching, interesting and fun.

But when you're solo, it can actually be freaking scary.

I've never let my single status hinder my ability to take advantage of something spectacular. Galas, openings and new restaurants? If I don't have a date to take, I've always been comfortable with going with a gal pal or three. Occasionally, if I know I'll run into a slew of friendly faces, I'll walk into an event solo, but it's not often.

It takes guts to go alone, sometimes. At least, that was the case this past Sunday.

I had tickets to see the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's only performance of Handel's Messiah (side note: I scored the tickets because I am an ArtsWave donor. Please consider how you can contribute to this essential cultural organization) and was excited to bring a dear friend with me.

My friend sent me a text the morning of the event mentioning a conflict. Normally I am pretty disappointed when someone backs out with short notice, but it's becoming a frequent occurrence as of late. I've realized my only options in that moment are a) bitching and complaining or b) quickly seeking out another guest.

Resigned to a morning of calmness, I decided to forgo spinning my wheels to seek out another symphony date. I sent out a few fruitless texts and was faced with the daunting proposition:

Go to the symphony alone.

Wow. In my world, that's pretty big stuff.

I decided to put on my Big Girl Panties (hint: they're a g-string), get all dressed up in silk and sparkles and head out to Cincinnati's storied Music Hall. Solo.

I walked into that grand, brick building, tickets in tow, and headed to my seats. They were just glorious. Twelve rows from the stage apron, directly in the center of the hall. Music Hall's crowning jewel, a two-ton chandelier, slightly swayed above.

A bit conscious of my singleness, I stowed my coat and bag on the extra seat and sunk in to the crimson velvet upholstery. About a half hour into the performance, I was content and proud of myself for braving such an occasion alone.

And that's the way it was. I was hell bent on seeing the Hallelujah Chorus, date or not. I knew I would have regretted it immensely if I cheated myself out of that experience.

I've got a long list of things to see/do/experience. And I'm getting comfortable with ticking them off solo.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Do You Do?

I promise I wasn't kidnapped.

Though my absence has grown long, I assure you my cheesy mug covers nary a milk carton. The chaos of life (birthdays, holidays, work, volunteering, you-name-it) has gotten in the way of my quality time with my computer.

But fear not, dear reader. I have a few things up my sleeves.

On the horizon:
-What happens when a chick puts on her Big Girl Panties (hint: it's a g-string) and throws caution to her singleness
-The great worries I'm mulling after booking my next great vacation (they involve sweatiness, strange bugs and the modesty of burqas. True story)
-Grammar Gripe: The best response to deliver when someone asks, "How are you?"

Okay. So there it is. If I could write this in blood on my computer monitor, I would... but that's just not sanitary.

Until then, send someone a someecard - you know someone who deserves it... and that's not saying much.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Advocating On Behalf of OtR

Hi friends,

Many of you who read this blog care about Over-the-Rhine, and I wanted to share with you something that is happening right now, something that gravely threatens this beloved neighborhood's status as a historic district.

Demolition crews are currently on site at 142 E. McMicken to potentially destroy a historic building next to the abandoned Rothenburg school. They want to demo the building to make a driveway for trucks.

The problem is, the building is not in complete disrepair. All sources say the old building has good bones and can be repaired and brought up to code.

The demo of this building could potentially threaten Over-the-Rhine's designation as a National Register of Historic Places.

There are several people you can call to voice your concerns about this. Those offices include:

Mayor Mallory 513-352-3250
Cincinnati School Board 513-363-0040
Amit Ghosh (City of Cincy 352-3433)
Mike Burson (CPS 207-7715)
Charles Graves at City Hall (513) 352-4851

You can learn more information at many sites, the two below are just a good start:!/otradopt

Aside from your money or time, advocacy is one of the best ways to show you care about something. Please take a moment to make a phone call or send an email. It takes but a moment, and if many of us work together, it has the potential to make a huge impact.

I really care about this neighborhood. I love its history. I love its beauty. I love its people.

I believe you do, too.


PS - If you are also an advocate for OtR, please pass this on to someone who cares about this matter.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Etiquette of Responding

Check your mailbox.

No, really. Go. Do it. I'll wait.

Chances are, you've probably got a holiday party invite waiting for you. Now, my first line of thought is, "Why in God's green earth is somebody only waiting until now to invite you to a holiday party? Don't they know your seasonal calendar was booked in October??!!"

No matter. Maybe they just got a kick ass karaoke machine and they want to show it off. Maybe not.

Anyway. That invite you have?

It probably has a phone number you're supposed to call. You know. Something along the lines of R.S.V.P, Regrets Only or The Favor of A Reply is Requested By...

Those are standard issue language options in the world of invites.

So. The holiday party invite. Heck, any invite for that matter. Weddings, baby showers, summer cookouts, surprise birthday parties. These days, people are bucking the electronic trend and returning to the days of paper invites. And that means there's no handy dandy button to click to reflect your attendance status.

What's a girl to do?

Let's go back to that R.S.V.P. concept. It's a reference to back in olden times England when people would send men out on horses to deliver correspondence on pretty sterling plates. Those mailings included invitations that requested, "répondez s'il vous plaît," which directly translates to, "respond if it pleases you."

The intent was to have a more gracious connotation than the English version of "Respond if you please," which connotes a command instead of a request.

Now that we've got the semantics out of the way.

Emily Post. Surely you've heard of her. She literally wrote the book on manners in the early 1900s, decreeing that people are obliged to respond when receiving an invite to a party. Recent etiquette standards say it is inexcusably rude to not respond to a formal party invitation.

I'd concur.

Confession time: I am not the queen of couth. I really, really try, but sometimes even I flub up occasionally. That said, I really do strive to know the rules of manners and social courtesy. I strive even harder to live up to those rules.

I think the rules especially apply to printed invites. If someone invests the time and resources to mail out an invite, they're setting a formal tone that deserves a formal response. I'm throwing out opinion here, but if someone casually sets up a Facebook event invite or an e-vite page, then I think you're entitled to respond casually, too.

Another thing to mention. R.S.V.P. does not apply only to folks who can attend said fete. The request of a response applies to everyone. So if Aunt Millie mailed you an invite for her White Elephant party, you've got to call her and graciously decline, even if you've got a better offer.

The only exception is if the host offers, "Regrets Only," in which case you only call if you are NOT attending the party.

I've got a paper holiday invite on my kitchen counter right this minute. The hosts have requested a reply by December 11, and I am going to get my calendar in order and ring them up by their deadline if it kills me.

Such is the burden of having kind friends and lovely invitations.

I'm grateful.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On Growing Older

A man thirty years old, I said to myself, should have his field of life all ploughed, and his planting well done; for after that it is summer time. - Lew Wallace

Turning 34 today, I am thick in the summer of my life.

Practically speaking, if birth marks the start of life's spring, and death marks the end of life's winter, I'm approaching the midway point. If I use my grandparents as a guide for the longevity of my life, I can probably expect to live around ninety, especially since I'm not a smoker and my eating habits are much healthier.

I'm in the July of my life, hypothetically.

And that sounds pretty freaking fantastic.

July is all about fireworks and parades and celebrations. July is warmth and tanned, exposed flesh. Thick in the middle of summer, July is juicy flavors and summer's harvest of brightly colored blessings.

July is late night talks on glowing patios with your nearest and dearest, and casual, comfortable afternoons on the screened porch with family.

The July of my life isn't quite what I anticipated many moons ago.

I thought these days would be punctuated by a baby's cries or chatter of a young family around a dinner table. I thought 34 would be more about others and less about me.

I am learning there are blessings to the dynamics of the life I've been handed.

These days bring with them a wonderful bounty of family and friends. Spectacular opportunity in a city where I've chosen to stay. Exciting, engaging and thought provoking endeavors where my social life and civic commitments are concerned.

I am grateful.

Decidedly mid-30s, but not quite middle age, I still have time to savor the last few years of really being young. Who knows what life has in store for me in the future; right now I am spry, have more disposable income and am not tied. down. by. anything.

34 already brings with it the blessings of adventure.

In a couple weeks, I'll be buying a plane ticket for a whirlwind trip to India in May. In the spring, I intend on buying a scooter for zipping around in Over-the-Rhine.

The past few years have been dedicated to plowing and planting the seeds of my life. I am grateful for where I'm blossoming.

Today is time to reap my blessings.


p.s.: I would be remiss if I didn't mention World AIDS Day, which is today. Please consider how you can help fight the spread of AIDS/HIV either through a contribution or some act of activism.
Creative Commons License

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From The "Things White People Like" Files

A rap about NPR.


If you're a freak about Morning Edition, Car Talk and The Splendid Table, then you will probably like this.

If you don't know who Terry Gross is, don't watch it.

Just don't.
Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

See and Be Scene: Holiday Edition

If you listen closely, you can hear my heart beat like an 808 drum.

It's not because I'm busting a move to Ke$ha, though I've been known to hit the hardwood in my apartment in my skivvies to say that your love is my drug.

No. I am coping with the very seasonal stress that is running rampant these days.

Chances are, your calendar looks a little bit like mine:

Cincinnati is serving up some spectacular events this holiday season, and sometimes it can be hard to decide on what to attend. Here's a list of my events of note:

Dec 1
Chris Seelbach's campaign launch at Know Theatre - 6 pm
Please join hosts Roxanne Qualls, David Pepper and David Crowley for this fantastic launch of Cincinnati's next great council member. I promise this event will be inspiring, exciting and fun!

Dec 2
OtR Holiday Party - Mr. Pitiful's - 6 pm
Your friends from Cincinnati's most happening neighborhood will converge on this happy hour supporting the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Expect fun entertainment, great food and drink deals and other special features.

Dec 10
Light Up OtR - Neon's Unplugged - 6 pm
OtR teams up once again, this time to light a massive pine tree and lumenaria around the neighborhood. Sip on drinks poured by ace mixologist Molly Wellmann and place your very own ornament on the tree for all to see. Proceeds for this gathering support the OtR Foundation.

Dec 11
Yelp's Totally Bazaar Holiday Party - American Sign Museum - 7 pm
Here's an event that I really regret missing. A busy social calendar (and special birthday!) means I will have to miss this swinging scene where guests will be treated to complimentary drinks and bites from local businesses. Bring your credit card - the bazaar will also show off some of the best local gifts you can buy this holiday season.

Dec 15 is a one-two (make that THREE!) punch:
MashUp Cincinnati 2 - Lunar - 7 pm
Grab your Pokens and get ready to network with the city's most connected young professionals in the to-be-revealed Lunar at 435 Elm St. Brought to you by Blackbook EMG and HYPE.
JLC Social Event - Dutch's Hyde Park - 7 pm
Looking to unwind? Join the Junior League of Cincinnati for a cozy gathering of wine and mingling. A $5 contribution at the door benefits the JLC's work in supporting women and children in Greater Cincinnati.
Shrimp Boil - Milton's - 6 pm
The Milton's crew is serving up its monthly shrimp boil. For six bucks, you can savor a steaming pile of shrimp, corn on the cob and boiled potatoes. One of the best (and most delicious!) deals around.

Hope to see you around at some of these fun events!

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Touch My Body

When Mariah Carey pleaded, "Wrestle me around, play with me some more," I don't think she was envisioning this guy:

 In case you can't see the watermark everywhere, this photo is from the AP.

Okay, so this latest Transportation Security Administration drama has everybody's panties in a knot, if for no other reason than the manhandling in the security line at your nearest airport.

Today is one of the biggest travel days of the year, and every air traveler around has heard about the new pat down technique administered to people taking to the friendly skies. These more invasive techniques arose after people began refusing to go through the "backscatter" full body scans that create images of your essentially nude self.

Tales of full breast cupping, vaginal probing and "junk" manhandling have erupted in connection with the more "thorough" pat down technique.

Some of the stories sound too absurd, insensitive or offensive to be true. But they are. Take note:

A woman was asked to remove her prosthetic breast from her bra during a pat down.

A video has been circulating for several days showing a small child experiencing a pat down at an airport in Salt Lake City. The TSA has come out saying the boy's father was present the entire time and that he hasn't filed a complaint.

A Cincinnati traveler managed to return to American soil from overseas without submitting to either invasive scan or pat down. He was, however, escorted out of the airport by 15 TSA agents, police and other authorities.

Earlier this month, a 31-year-old traveler told a San Diego TSA worker, "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested."

I don't know about you, but I typically only prefer body fondling after a good date and a glass of wine or two.

So many travelers have expressed frustration about the new, extreme security measures, and have said they plan to muck up the system with a demonstration "National Opt-Out Day" today. The movement is an attempt to tell lawmakers and other officials that law abiding citizens do not deserve to be subjected to these invasive scanners and extreme pat downs.

The demonstration will likely lead to big delays at the nation's busiest airports, as a scan only takes a few seconds, but a detailed pat down takes about two minutes.

This whole thing feels wrong.

And not in a touchy-feely way.

The thing is, we are Americans. Our nation's citizens have enjoyed special liberties and freedoms for over 234 years. We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights that protect us from improper search and seizure. Our citizens have a reasonable expectation of being considered innocent until proven guilty and are afforded the right of due process.

We just can't go around feelin' people up to make sure they're not carrying explosive devices between their labia.

There. I said it.

We're putting our rights and privileges aside for the sake of extreme tactics in the war on terrorism. The dramatic change to our peace and civility in an affront to basic American standards and we must search for better, less offensive ways to safely screen air travelers.

Because, like I said, I only invite people to touch my body when a little romance is involved.
Creative Commons License

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Being Single

Single is sometimes very, very quiet.

The kind of quiet where the stark vastness of a morning is shattered by a single pair of fleshy feet padding across the hardwood. The day is not punctuated by sound until I make it. That is my task and my task alone every morning. Making the sound that starts the day.

The evening can be much louder, but it's still a responsibility all my own. Stereo cranked and broom in hand, I dance across the expanse of my living room with my slender but dedicated dance partner. We glide, we tap, we groove.

Sometimes we pause before one of the windows, wondering- no, hoping that someone else is witnessing the delight of my evening alone. Me and my broom. Dancing.

Single means no one else will trudge to the store for you when you're sick. Ditto on rainy days, snow storms and other occasions when it's good to have a permanent plus one.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner - three meals that sometimes happen, sometimes don't. When they do, their menus are mine to decide, down to the refined details of drinking orange juice right from the jug.

Sue me. I live alone.

Single means everything is mine, mine, mine. The shoes, the mess, the bills, the beer, the remote control. Every. Single. Thing. in my house is all mine. There are blessings to this, and there are curses.

I, alone, get to decide which dinner guests are invited to my table. I, alone, get to decide what we'll serve. I, alone, get to clean up the mess.

My nights are made up of a very big bed with very cold sheets. Body heat doesn't work as well to warm the soul when it's one pair of legs and arms and one single heart beating through the stillness.

Unexpected, happy late night telephone conversations are a good substitute.

The shower is mine to comandeer whenever it suits me, followed by long, leisurely hours in front of the bathroom's mirror, complete with hair brushes and flat irons and makeup in hand. Nobody's in line behind me. Nobody's tapping his toes. Nobody's rolling their eyes as I try my thirteenth hair style.


Single is having an empty refrigerator and a trash can overflowing with sticky takeout containers. Other times I spend a string of nights of dining out with friends who help fill the silence of my life. Sometimes those nights creep into dawn.

And it is delightful.

Inspired by the latest Modern Love piece in the New York Times. I've never had bed bugs, but I know all too well what it's like to cope with and survive a situation that would be made more bearable by a partner.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Get It, Get It

Raise your hand if you like shoes.

Whew. That's a lot of hands.

Well, you would be happy to know that today's Groupon deal in Cincinnati is kick. ass. You can score $50 in clothing and shoes at Nordstrom Rack - all for only $25.

I don't have to tell you all how spectacular this deal is - especially with holiday shopping right around the corner.

Click here if you want to get in on this Groupon deal... it's good only today, so score it while you can.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Perfect Pie Crust

Everybody likes to eat pie.

'Tis the season for pumpkin, pecan or apple pie. Other folks enjoy blueberry, rhubarb or peach. Still others are suckers for those cream varieties - banana, chocolate or coconut.

Everybody has a pie they can call their own.

Me? I am a Derby kind of girl. The Kentucky classic is an homage to the ten years I spent in the Bluegrass, savoring that almost sinful combination of pecans, chocolate chips and the optional (note: why would you forgo this part?!) shot of bourbon.

Derby pie has trumped my mother's French Silk pie as my favorite thing on a crust.

Speaking of crust, I am proud to say I make a kick ass pie crust. It's not bragging, really. I am usually a pretty modest person, but my pie crust is one thing I feel comfortable heralding from every rooftop in OtR. It's rich, flaky and the perfect pastry base for any pie.

My mother says my pie crust is better than hers, and that is a spectacularly huge compliment.

Seeing as we're approaching Thanksgiving, it's high time I give you a couple tips. I won't spill the beans on my super secret techniques, but I'll point you in the right direction.
  • Before you add your fats (butter, margarine or lard) to the flour, make sure they're well chilled.
  • A pastry blender is an essential tool in blending flour and your fats. Williams-Sonoma has a pretty nice version for $10, as does Sur la Table and other culinary stores. Mine is a pretty inexpensive version I picked up at Kroger.
  • Make sure any water you add to the flour-and-fat mix is well chilled.
I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I employ when making my pie crust. You'll probably discover your own techniques if you begin to regularly crank out pies, too.

Happy baking!

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Suicide By Crafts

Sometimes I think Michael's Crafts is the Fifth Ring of Hell.

Where Wal-Mart is the Ninth Ring, and Kroger's pharmacy line could be regarded as the First Ring, the crafters' mecca is firmly planted somewhere in the middle.

What with its melange of tempera paints and scrapbook paper and cake icing tips, Michael's Crafts has a way of bringing out the craziest crafters of all ages.

I am one of those freaks.

My glue gun is safely stashed in a bowl atop my refrigerator. I have a whole cardboard box full of sparkly trimmings, ribbons, paints, glues and other tools required for greatness.

The thing is, whenever I walk into Michael's, it's with the intention of accomplishing a specific mission. In this case, my explicit assignment was to go to the paper products aisle to buy some note cards and envelopes.

But I am always lured away by something else. In this case, it was the silk flowers.

Glorious blooms of every color of the rainbow, probably made in Chinese sweatshops by little children with tiny, tiny fingers.

(Ed. note: Dear Michael's Crafts - I am just hypothesizing and wondering here, and have no concrete evidence substantiating said statement, so please don't sue me. I really don't know what I'm talking about).

Behold, my moment of tiptoeing through the tulips.

I set out on a mission to find a flower that would make a great hair accessory. Screw the feathers that everyone else is sporting. I wanted big and blooming. This option is a take on a Bird of Paradise. Its sharp edges and vibrant colors are eye catching... but I'm afraid it could poke out a date's eyes as he went in for the kill.

Uh, no.

"Who, me?" Playing coy behind a pastel pink blossom that does not appear in nature (What the hell is it? a peony? A gerbera daisy cultivated in a meth lab?), I envisioned skipping and dancing and spinning arm in arm with the love of my life or a very fabulously gay man while wearing this option behind my ear.

I. Love. This. Flower.

Rawr. You look mahvalous. What is it with tango dancers and chewing on red roses? This was probably my most daring photo while traipsing through the aisles of the store. I was so afraid one of the clerks was going to see me gnawing on their $2.99 roses. Thankfully a lady at the check out counter had a wailing newborn and a very, very bossy five-year-old in tow ("But maaaaam, check the bay-bee's diii-per! This cryin' is driving me crayyyy-zeee.")

Thank you, little kid, for keeping the Michael's Crafts staff more annoyed than this 33 y.o. woman.

Did you know that some florists are inundated with requests to send black roses on Valentine's Day? Seriously. There are apparently some very, very bitter ass holes in this world who decide that a broken heart is not enough to inflict on a human being. Some of these jerks decide to seal the deal by sending dead or spray painted, morbid blooms to their exes.

God help the fool who does this to me. For serious.

Now, here's a great hair adornment. It's a wreath. It's a bird's nest. It's a shit show.

Boy, does it make a statement, but probably not the one I'm looking for.

What does Mary wear in the manger outside Sigfried and Roy's house? A plastic, glittery garland and a taser, ready to shine and battle any wild animal this side of Jerusalem.

Seriously. Who puts this junk up in their house? Martha's tacky cousin?

After wandering through the silk flowers a few moments more, I grabbed the big, pink peony/gerbera daisy and headed to the check out counter.

Next up, I'm ready to go to town on some rubber stamps and grosgrain ribbon.

Creative Commons License

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Most Precious Souvenir

Amid tactical assignments and the absence of creature comforts, the U.S. sailor had love on his mind.

World War II. The South Pacific. Far, far away from home and the wife he longed to hold, Rich scrounged together what time and supplies he could find to make a memento.

Other American service men stationed in that part of the world had made coin bracelets for their loved ones, fashioning them together with links and clasps.

Rich couldn't find any links readily available, but a fellow seaman offered him a big spool of platinum. Rich declined the offer to keep the entire spool, but instead only took what he needed to craft seven oval shaped links to hold the coins together.

Years later, Rich said he could have kicked himself for turning down such an offer. Platinum wasn't worth much during the 40s and so he wasn't enthused about the idea of hauling that spool around for the duration of the war.

"It could have been worth so much these days," he'd say wistfully, looking at his well worn hands.

While making the bracelet, Rich hammered the smaller Australian coins into concave shapes, allowing the bracelet to naturally curve around a woman's wrist. Some of the coins, dating back to as far as 1916, held with them their own untold stories.

The sailor's greatest gesture, sanding down one side of the largest, centerpiece coin and inscribing, "To My Wife Sallie With Love Rich."

Thousands of miles away from home and thinking about his wife. Thinking about the reasons why so many American servicemen were at war.

Rich returned home to Sallie, safe and sound, and went on to start a family. Through the years, he volunteered and marched in parades with a Youngstown American Legion post, proudly wearing pins and other remembrances of his service.

Rich went on to spend his twilight years as a loving grandfather to three girls, the oldest of which was precocious, curious and clever. She admired her grandmother's bracelet as a girl, posing for photos with its coins dangling off her tiny wrist.

Years later, she wears it as a woman.

And she knows her grandparents are proud.

Thank you to the many service men and women who continue to commit themselves to the Stars and Stripes.

We are truly indebted to you.

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 3

Landor 110

A lot on my mind for these next few weeks... and it shows.

I don't know where I'm going. All I know is, I am enjoying getting there. For the most part.
34 is so close I can taste it. It tastes good. 

The next few days and weeks are chaos times Avogadro's Number.
I feel like the rest of 2010 will be a blur. 

 The tasks ahead have lots of moving parts. My cranium is responsible for holding on to lots of details, and my body is responsible for cranking out lots of Fabulous.
I am trying to hold Exasperated Kate at bay.
All of the hard work is going to pay off. I know I will sparkle through some of the coming successes and celebrations. But my days will require strength and the ability to withstand great pressure.

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Day 2

The Landor 110

My sketch:

My senses are really unenthused today. They haven't had to summon on their creativity, and for that, I feel a bit stagnant. I'm pushing to power through it, but this underscores my feeling that I need creative endeavors and opportunities to write creatively to encourage productivity.

In many facets of my life, I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. Certainly where blogging is concerned. Sometimes personally and professionally. I am desperate to find that spark that motivates me to move mountains and make music.

A pretty good photo where symbolism is concerned. Sometimes I feel boxed in, desperate to see any glimpse of something beyond. Those brown walls need some jazzy wall covering or something.

This is the idea that gets me through the days, as of late. I haven't had a vacation since January. If I can hold out until May, I will be rewarded by the many wonders of India.

Beneath the surface of this restless, under stimulated skin, I can barely contain myself.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

See And Be Scene - The Tuesday Edition

Allow me, for a moment, to indulge in a pet project.

I've got a big secret to spill, and it involves this Saturday night.

You see, I am super excited about The Future Fund's "Event of The Season," which is about to fling open the doors on a good time this weekend.

The event (Saturday night from 8 pm to 12 am) aims to launch The Future Fund, a Young Professional (really, any professional) invested endowment fund that aims to support United Way's work in education, income and health in Greater Cincinnati.

I think we can all agree that those things are important to our community, right? (It's at this point where I am boldly disclosing that United Way is my employer).

So, this party. It's going to feature the party staging talents of none other than Joe Rigotti of Accent on Cincinnati, the culinary greatness of Chef Renee Schuler of Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts. Popular Cincinnati DJ Ryan Lehmkuhl will drop the beats for the evening, and guests will be entertained by a fashion show featuring styles from 4 U Urban Fashion Boutique.

Oh, and did I mention we'll have David DeWitt's classic Photo Booth, made famous by FB's on 6th St.?

This party is going to be spectacular.

And the venue. Yes, the venue. Everyone wants to know about the venue.

Well, it's still a secret.

Here are a few clues that I've leaked previously:

-Lewis would have been impressed with this venue, were it there when he paddled by, headed to meet Clark.

-"The sensual mysticism of an entire vertical being." e.e. cummings.

-Words that describe The Event of The Season on November 13: glow, sparkle, skyline, high, flash, pulsing, laughter, strut, electric

I'll be revealing the venue via Twitter at @UnitedWayGC as well as @Kate_the_Great. Feel free to leave any guesses in my comments section on this page.

In the meantime, please be sure to buy your tickets ($35 pp) at the Eventbrite page, where you can learn more about The Future Fund.

Please join us at The Penthouse at SouthShore Condominiums in Newport, KY!

As a personal aside: I've been working on this event since April and am really proud of what we've managed to pull off. It's going to be a fantastic evening supporting great work in Greater Cincinnati. I promise.

See you there!

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.