Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Five Things I Want You To Do On A First Date

I do not purport myself to be a dating expert.

The fact of the matter is, if you compared the ledger of my love life, there'd be more months solo than together. That said, I still think I have a pretty good handle of what should go down on a first date.

First things first: say it with me - Chivalry is not dead.

I don't want you to patronize little ol' me or put me up on a shiny pedestal, but I would sure appreciate it if you opened the door for me, took the street side of the sidewalk and helped me with my coat.

Ditto on picking up the check. It's a gesture and shows you are willing to make an investment (monetary or otherwise) on a relationship. There's no need to go whole hog and make reservations at the city's best restaurant - heck, great convo and good food at an eclectic hole-in-the-wall can sometimes be the best. date. ever. Just show some effort.

So, that's #1 - chivalry.

Second - make me laugh. Be silly, be wry, be clever or self deprecating. I don't care how you do it - just make me smile and giggle a little bit.

The thing is (and most girls have heard this one before), "Every date is a prospective mate." It's something my mom told me when I was a teen, and I still hear her words echoing inside me every time I'm on a first date.

My parents are a great example of how to make a marriage work. They are sometimes crazy, and occasionally I've insisted that I'm adopted and share no genetic code with these people, but my parents must be doing something right - they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary last March.

Laughter is the one thing that has helped Mom and Dad get through the tough times (and they've had more than their fair share of them). Their inside jokes don't discriminate between high brow and low brow, and I suppose that's what helps them make things work.

So, #2, make me laugh. I want to know that our potential relationship has some bones to survive the test of time.

Numero Tres. Compliment me. Tell me I'm gorgeous, that you like my shoes or that I have a pretty smile. Something. Show me you can appreciate the effort I put into getting ready for this date. Make me feel attractive/sexy/hot. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; let me know that you think I'm a pretty girl.

Now, I don't necessarily think that beauty is everything; I'd take a good brain over good looks any day. I value my thoughts, ideas and opinions far more than I do the color of my chemically processed hair or the latest gloss to line my lips.

But every girl wants to feel beautiful, and she wants her man to admire that beauty.

#3 - offer up a sincere compliment about my appearance.

Four. Open up. No need to fling open the flood gates and tell me every sad thing that happened to you during your childhood - those are the kinds of things that are shared in time. But tell me about your hopes, your dreams, your regrets. Reveal to me that there's more to you than a starched collar and some cologne.

Relationships rely on honesty and the ability to confide in one another. Show me you are emotionally available and willing to share yourself with me. I promise I'll return the depth tenfold.

And that's #4 - open up and share a bit of your soul.

And the big finish - number five - demonstrate some spontaneous passion.

Whether you are struck by the moment and decide to grab the karaoke microphone and serenade me, or you roll up your pants and wade in a downtown fountain - show me you've got confidence.

Self-assurance is comforting, exciting and inspiring. A relationship works when both parties can bravely tackle unexpected adventures and intense opportunities.

And sometimes that intense opportunity comes in the form of a kiss.

Be bold and finish the date with a taste of what's to come.

#5 - live passionately.

(Hat tip to Classicgrrl, whose Facebook stream inspired this blog post.)

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Gift of Perfection

Humanity is not perfect.

We stumble, we second guess, we stall.

But occasionally,  we are offered a fleeting moment that tells us we are on track. Our hard work, our pure intentions and our greatest aspirations are all working together in harmony.

That is how I feel about this weekend.

*** *** ***
Zoofari - the first of the weekend's volunteer efforts.
Photo by Linda Averbeck.
Mugging for the camera as Bluegrass Brit and Zooey share a secret.

Did you know the
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden receives the least funding of all of Ohio's zoos? And yet it is regarded as the nation's "greenest" zoo, and also one of the best in the U.S.?

Zoofari is the Zoo's primary fundraiser, and I was proud to volunteer for a third year in a row. I was paired with Kevin Huber of the Cincinnati Bengals for my assignment. What a nice guy.

*** *** ***

Saturday afternoon involved a spontaneous but spectacular drive along country roads to
Hidden Valley Fruit Farm just outside Lebanon, Ohio.

If you're seeking a rural experience this autumn, this is the place for you.

Fields full of pumpkins, big, old barns full of antiques, jams, fruit and other treats, a corn maze, face painting - it's a great place to go if you want to ditch the city for a while and celebrate the season.

We decided to meander through the heart of Lebanon before heading home and stumbled upon the town's annual
Country Applefest. Booths of food and crafts lined the streets, which were full of people chowing down on barbecue, french fries and funnel cakes.

Tucked between charming antique shops and town mainstays, we found the
Village Wine Cellars. Full of racks of wine and comfy couches, the shop sells wine, beer and spirits a plenty. We found a nice torrontes and paid bottle price plus a five dollar corkage fee.

It was a spontaneous but welcome respite with a dear friend on a glorious afternoon.

*** *** ***

Saturday night was all about the many shades of rock and roll.

MidPoint Music Festival served up an awesome evening of music, with none other than the legendary Tom Tom Club headlining at the sweet bar right across the street from my apartment.

Grammer's at MPMF. Photo by Linda Averbeck.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band recorded the epic "
Genius of Love" - widely regarded as one of the first ever Hip Hop songs. It's been sampled over 50 times (most recently by Mariah Carey for her hit, "Fantasy.")

tent was crammed with an awesome crowd... this pic covers just about a quarter of it. I'm the girl in the pig tails and librarian glasses, second from the left (next to the environmental genius in the yellow plaid shirt).

*** *** ***
Sometimes it takes a little spit and polish to make something look brand new.

Other times, it takes a brand new perspective and a whole lot of heart.

Hundreds of people converged on 12th Street in Over-the-Rhine for ArtsWave's (formerly the Fine Arts Fund) Paint The Street, an effort to turn the blocks between Main Street and Central Parkway into a giant mural.

Photo by Steve Nixon

A resident of OtR, I've known about this project for over a month now, and the anticipation had been building inside me like a billion bubbles in a champagne bottle.

Over-the-Rhine is an emerging neighborhood that continues to see a residential resurgence. I cannot think of a single event that has served up a bigger show of love for this close-knit community.

I am the "artist" behind some of the yellow and orange in the photo above. I volunteered to take photos of other artists after my assigned painting shift - the energy, the enthusiasm and the diversity of the crowd was beautiful.

The morning air was full of so much love, pride and hope, and I am grateful for the opportunity to leave a mark on the neighborhood I am thrilled to call home.

Each day offers us an opportunity to leave our fingerprints (or thumbprint) behind on something.

Sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes we're on the spot.

This weekend restored the direction of my soul and the reach of my hands.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Health For All

Thursday marks the start of something remarkable for our nation.

On September 23, several key provisions of the new health care bill go into effect, affecting every man, woman and child in the United States.

Regardless of your political affiliation, this health care reform will affect your life. It will allow you, a loved one or friend to experience a new level of care, possibly making for better opportunities to fight a medical catastrophe.

If you have a job with health benefits, beginning Thursday, your lifetime insurance cap is tossed out the window.

The significance may be lost on you now, but I assure you, some of life's most critical health scenarios carry with them hefty bills that can wipe out a $5 million cap.

Trust me.

If you have children on your health insurance policy, the new reform entitles them to coverage up to 26-years-old, provided they are unable to secure their own employer-covered health insurance.

This is fantastic news for millennials who are coping with unemployment, seeking post-grad education or coping with other scenarios of hardship in this sputtering economy.

People with new health insurance coverage will now be able to avoid paying co-pays or deductibles on preventive care. This includes things like cancer screenings, immunizations and colonoscopies.

If you are paying for your own health insurance, companies will no longer be able to turn families away because their child (19-years-old or younger) has a pre-existing condition.

And isn't that really the right thing to do?

Nobody, especially a sick child, should have to be turned away because an insurer won't cover them.

There are great benefits for small businesses, too.

Small business owners (25 employees or less making $50,000 or less) will be able to get a tax credit to cover up to 35 percent of insurance premiums if they choose to offer health insurance for their employees.

In a few years, the health care reform will prohibit any insurer from denying coverage to someone with a pre-existing condition.

Again, I say. Isn't this really the right thing to do?

What kind of absurd system would allow a health insurance corporation to deny a person coverage - even if they're knocking on death's doorstep?

Some of these health care providers may begin passing on higher costs to their customers, claiming it's a result of the health care reform. Please know this is not the case. Health and Human Services Secretary Jean Sebelius is going after providers who make false claims about the reform and its impact on costs.

The more I hear about the reform (and the new mandates that will protect the American people), it makes me think these health insurance companies are run by some draconian machine that fails to truly consider the human condition.

And then I think back to some of the medical crises my immediate family has weathered, and it makes me grateful that other families won't have to worry as much about health insurance coverage in times of crisis.

A grave illness is not the time for a family to deal with another, insensitive drama.

CBS News

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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, September 15, 2010

Making Paper

I pay for everything with cash.

Not literally, mind you. I have a lovely plastic debit card that gets a good bit of usage, but everything I spend is money I've already earned.

This has been my way of life for, give or take, a good seven years or so. I was irresponsible with some entry-level credit cards and decided that if I couldn't handle it, I was going to nip it in the bud.

Today I dropped over $900 on auto repairs for my nine year old Saab. brakes, brake pads and calipers. I have no idea what the latter is, but it was something my mechanic absolutely insisted on when I dropped off the car.

By the sound of things, he was probably right.

The addition of calipers well more than doubled the $375 job I anticipated. I was ready to drop the cash for a simple brakes job, but this addition called for a little more jack.

And that meant a little more time for me to make paper.

Five weeks without a car. That was my challenge - surviving without swift, independent transportation for five weeks, until I had the 900 bucks to drop on it. I was confident I could do it; I'd done it before (actually, two and a half months between February and April when my Turbo blew up several years ago - the worst time ever to go without wheels), and knew I could do it again.

Especially since my recent move to Over-the-Rhine positioned me closely to work, play and local volunteer efforts.

My calendar included a few far-flung commitments where, thankfully, several kind friends offered to drive, allowing me some semblance of normalcy.

Another good friend, one of my closest, was kind enough to loan me his cars on two occasions when he was out of town. Grateful for the convenience but not wanting to abuse it, I didn't drive the cars nearly as much as I would have were they mine.

There are blessings and curses to my current philosophy on finances.

Nothing happens without planning. No big expense is made, regardless how obligatory or frivolous, without serious consideration of my financial forecast.

I know what my standing, monthly obligations are, and I know how much I can squeeze out in any given pay period/month/whatever.

Vacations involve some thought and a quick assessment of the future and other anticipated obligations.

Crises are attended to on a case by case basis. Every major expense is planned for, when possible. And that means the unexpected sometimes has to wait for everything else on the ledger to clear.

The great thing about this philosophy: every dime I spend is already mine. I'm not spending future earnings, I'm dropping money I already have in the bank.

I gotta tell ya, there's nothing like going on a vacation and not worrying about what you're spending. I save for months and plan to ensure I can enjoy a trip without worrying where I'm eating, what I'm drinking or what I'm doing.

Would it be as enjoyable if I knew the bills would come piling in after my return home? I don't think so.

Ringo Starr is not my favorite Beatle, but I certainly love the tune he recorded on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Indeed. We DO all get by with a little help from our friends.

Between an outstretched hand and a little bit of hard work of my own, I've learned I can overcome almost anything.

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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, September 14, 2010

Kermit, It's Actually Pretty Easy Being Green

The City of Cincinnati is making it easier for us all to be a little bit more earth friendly.

 I had just wheeled my bike out of the courtyard and was about to hit the street for my ride to work this morning (yay, bicycling!) when I noticed a massive truck delivering big, shiny green recycle bins for everyone on Walnut St.

The new bins are part of the Cincinnati's expanded recycling efforts, distributing much larger bins to residences and businesses everywhere.

Don't have your cart? It's easy to find out when your neighborhood will receive theirs. The new recycling carts will continue to roll out through January.

Cincinnati is encouraging everyone to champion recycling efforts in the city, and intends to roll out an incentive program that allows people to earn points for being earth friendly.

The only bummer about this recycle effort is that it doesn't include plastic bags. I know many of us have gravitated toward more environmentally friendly, reusable bags, but some of our friends are still using the plastic variety found at the store. Confession: I've been guilty of using a plastic bag or two when I've hit up the store on a spontaneous shopping trip.

But I'm trying... and I guess that counts.

I know I am recycling and reducing my waste far better than I was a year ago. Everything we buy has to end up someplace, and I am really making an effort to send more stuff to recycling/Goodwill or share with friends who may be able to give something a second life.

Here's to hoping you all get just as excited to see a new recycling bin on your doorstep.

And here's to hoping more of us start using them!

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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, September 10, 2010

I Like To Ride My Bicycle...

and other nuggets you need to know.

So, yes. I've started riding my bike. Quite a bit, actually.

After I got over the initial bummer of having my rear wheel stolen while said bike was locked up in my also locked courtyard, I've been tearing it up on the pavement.

The bike has become my primary mode of transportation, even to and from work. I'm pedaling in full dress - i.e. skirts, jewelry, complete makeup. Sometimes even the occasional cute pair of shoes. It turns out I'm not the only chick leading the chic charge on bicycle. Jenny shared this nugget that exclaims urban women everywhere are hitting the road with their bicycles and the styles becoming of a modern woman.

Now I just need to find a sexy helmet.

This Sunday I'll be trading my work gear for something more becoming of a streetcar line. Droves of Cincinnati streetcar supporters will be coming to my neighborhood for two bicycle tours of the streetcar line that's expected to be operational by 2013.

Can I tell you how excited I am about the streetcar?

The line will run a few blocks away from my home. I'm two blocks east of Race and two blocks north of its path on Walnut and just. cannot. wait. I'm looking forward to this weekend's ride and how the streetcar will further support the vibe already rocking the 'hood.

...How 'bout 'dem Reds?...

Okay, okay. So the hometown baseball team has had a pretty rough go these past few days in Colorado. Thankfully the Boys of Summer (we still have 11 days of summer!) come back to the Queen City for a seven day homestand on the home team baseball diamond.

Despite the five-game losing streak in Denver, the Reds are still leading in the National League-Central by five games over their ever present adversary, the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm looking forward to taking in the game in some great seats thanks to a dear friend (you know who you are!). Here's to hoping the Reds can turn the losing streak around for this evening's German Heritage Night at the Ballpark.

Speaking of bicycling and the Reds... the baseball team is inviting people to ride their bike to the ballpark for the Sunday 1:10 pm game. If you ride your bike, you can get 1/2 price tickets and other cool bennies.

...Bill Clinton Comes To Cincinnati...

Ohio is getting ready to witness a battle between Rob Portman and Lee Fisher. Both are vying for Voinovich's U.S. Senate seat, and both camps are pulling out all the stops.

Fisher is bringing none other than Bill Clinton (yeah, that Bill Clinton) to address a hearty crowd Sunday at 6:30 at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Click the link to learn more and get a ticket emailed to you. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity to rejuvenate the Democratic party in Cincinnati.

It's time we step up and continue with the change we pushed for two weeks ago, people.

...Expressly Yours...

Express Cincinnati is celebrating 15 years of charitable and social efforts in Greater Cincinnati with a special party at Weston Art Gallery Sunday. Come meet the people whose faces you always see in the publication, as well as the small but mighty team that produces Express.
I should disclose at this juncture that this party partially benefits United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which employs me. Thanks to United Way, I can support myself and seek the basic things we all need for a good life; thanks to United Way many other people can seek those things, too.

Hope to see you around at one of the many cool things happening in Cincinnati this weekend!

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Chili Can Be Served With Cheese

Every job should offer training video tunage.

That's what folks working at Wendy's get to enjoy... though these videos are pretty old, so I don't know if they're still in rotation.

There are a few choose from - here are my favorites.

Chili Can Be Served With Cheese

Hot Drinks - the guy actually performing in this song is none other than Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts grad Marvin Hawkins of Northside.

Cold Drinks - this tune has a clear Straight Up Now Tell Me riff... but this chick clearly looks like anything but Paula Abdul.

Special thanks to Lauren Bishop from the Cincinnati Enquirer for writing about this sweet Wendy's goodness. If you want to see another video (hint: it's called Got To Serve The Drinks) click here.
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Glass Jars and Fragile Hearts

Some men just don't know how to show how much they care about a girl.

This is a basic tenet of life I had to learn at a young age.

There was the jerk who called me so many names in school that he launched a firestorm of harassment aimed in my direction. It turns out he actually had a crush on me - he just didn't know how to handle it.

Then there was Frank, the object of my youthful affection and the first pair of lips I kissed.

We were neighborhood pals, part of a brood who'd roam the neighborhood in the summertime to play Super Mario Brothers during the day and Ghost in the Graveyard at night.

Frank and I were tight - as tight as two kids could be. We shared the same strange genetic code that was responsible for horribly kinky, white-kid-afro hair. Our moms laughed that when we grew up and got married, our children would come out looking like Chia Pets.

A year younger than my highly esteemed 12 years of age, Frank and his slowly percolating hormones didn't know how to handle me and my bangin' physique (well, what else would a boy that age call a girl who was entitled to wear an underwire?)

I went to horseback riding camp for two weeks, and sources a very nosy younger sister say that while I was gone Frank came to my back window before bed time and serenaded me with his personal rendition of Blue Moon. Frank would chase me and pull me down to the ground when we played tag, and for just a moment, it was clear this wasn't the kind of tackle he'd use to punish someone on the football field.

And then he threw the glass jar at me.

There I was, minding my own business, walking to a very important business appointment (AKA babysitting gig), when he ran down the hill that was his front yard, chucking a Mason jar - not the little one, but the big one your grandma used for canning green beans - right at the foot of my white, woven sandals.

Frank's mom asked him why he did such a thing, and he sheepishly replied, "But, Mom! I like her..."

Isn't that what they always say?

More than 20 years later, I notice guys pulling the same stunts on women. They show interest, do something to hurt us, and then run for home base.

I don't know what it is, exactly. Do these men not know how to express how they feel about a woman? Are they uncertain about the consequences of their feelings? Do they (perhaps incorrectly) worry that if they tackle a girl in a game of tag, they're going to end up living happily ever after and having lots and lots of Chia Pet babies?

The thing is, maybe I DO want to have Chia Pet babies someday. Maybe I do want to find that one guy who's up for an eternal game of Ghosts in the Graveyard. I want to find the guy who will give me the better Nintendo control because he enjoys watching *me* rescue the princess.

My heart is fragile, but I am patient and willing to play a few more rounds of tag to find the right guy.

And this time, if anyone chucks a glass jar at me - I'm throwing it back at 'em.

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