Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Destiny and Fate

Is our life plotted out ahead of time, or do we get to call some of the shots along the way?

Forgive the brief religious discussion, but as a Catholic, I'm familiar with the philosophy of free will - the idea that God gives us the road map but we have the opportunity to veer away from the plan and make our own way from time to time.

This internal discussion on life comes to mind after a conversation we had at the dining room table over the Easter holiday.

What kind of family would we be if we had never moved away from Cincinnati? my dad asked.

We left the Queen City's suburbs after my freshman year in high school, moving to a quaint town on the coast of Connecticut.

Life in New England - about an hour and a half from NYC and two hours from Boston - was unlike anything we'd collectively experienced.

I agreed with my dad. The experience made us better traveled people. Because of the move, we are quite familiar with Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire - spending weekends trekking to Freeport and Camden and Keene and Burlington, Stowe, Bromley, Newport, Watch Hill (probably one of my favorite towns out east) and on and on and on.

The move had an impact on our political beliefs, national perspective and other points of personal philosophy.

This past weekend I spent some time in Lexington with old TV colleagues I hadn't seen in about 5-10 years.

Being in my old hometown, hanging with old friends from another time in my life, visiting our old haunts - it all made me wonder similar thoughts. What kind of person would I be if I hadn't moved back to Cincinnati?

For starters, I don't think I'd be such a fan of the urbanist lifestyle. I know, I know. That sounds kind of funny coming from a girl who lives in Downtown Cincinnati. It's not like this is Portland or Austin or other cool places. The fact of the matter is, Cincinnati is far more accepting and better enables an urbanist lifestyle than Lexington.

I also don't know if I'd have the same interests I do now. Cincinnati's young professional scene is far more extensive and accommodates far more interests than Lexington's does. Being in the Queen City has allowed me to pursue some great leadership learning experiences that I'm uncertain would be equally matched in the Bluegrass.

The choices we make, the places we go and the people we meet - they all truly make a significant impact on the life we live.

It's fun to dream about the future, and how it's being impacted by the people and activities I'm focusing on today.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I know I'm going to like it.
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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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walking In My Neighborhood

When you sit behind the wheel of a car, you miss a lot.

When you hit the street on foot, you have the time to really soak up your surroundings.

Especially when your tour guide is Mr. Park Plus, Dan Korman.

We each were craving some quality time together, and a walk was the perfect remedy.
The water is wide, I cannot get o'er. One of my favorite songs from my choral days.

When was the last time you saw one of these scrub brush thingys outside a residence? Baller.

A secret house on a secret street in Downtown Cincinnati. Truly. Have been in the vicinity of this house a million times, and never even knew this street existed. Want to know where it is? You'll just have to join us for a walk.

Secret garden courtyard found in a hidden alley. We gazed through the wrought iron gate, wondering about the folks who get to enjoy this special space. The jury's out on if this is a private residence or a swanky enclave for the elite.

A nice bit of molding in CBD...

And a nice bit of molding in OtR. This trim is on a stretch of dodgy, vacant buildings. Just look at the architectural treasure you can find in my neighborhood. They just don't build stuff like they used to.

Sometimes you have to just look up to see something stunning.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

This Is Not A Photography Blog

Don't worry, I'm not gonna stop writing.

But my mama presented my dad and me with such a lovely Easter dinner that I had to snap some pics.

Asparagus with a bevy of toppings including egg and tomato. It was 'bursting with flavor,' as my dad said.

So, I am cut from the same hunk of wood as my father.

We look alike, think alike and sometimes act alike. We both switch smoothly between gregarious and reflective. At any given time, we can either be the biggest talkers - or listeners - in the room.


There we were, flitting around my mom's kitchen, each of us with cameras in hand, snapping pictures of the wonderful Easter bounty she prepared for we three.

She rolled her eyes as we traded spots on either side of the counter, crouching in and zooming to capture our perfect shots.

"What with all of the photos?" she crowed, feigning displeasure as we buzzed to chronicle the holiday for family and anyone else who'd care.

Mashed potato and sweet potato souffle

My mom is actually a great cook.

Growing up, I was the only kid I knew who dined on homemade quiche and Asian stir fry. When other kids were burying their fish sticks in their Hungry Jack fake mashed potatoes, my mom was steaming salmon and peeling Idaho potatoes and mashing them by hand.

And there was never a lump in the entire pot.

 Candied ham, potato/sweet potato souffle, spring asparagus, seasonal fruit and pineapple casserole

Holidays really aren't all about being gourmet, though.

It's an opportunity to break bread with loved ones, think about those who've passed on and talk about the past/present/future.

In our family, we like to sit down at the dining room table, the settings a mishmash of formality, heirloom and seasonal decoration.

The elbow room was plentiful, but our conversations focused on the loved ones who were with us in spirit. My sisters, my brother-in-law and niece, my grandmother. We walked down memory lane and enjoyed a moment of just being together.

It doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

When I was little, Easter was all about the candy, the manic electricity that bubbles up while hunting for the Bunny's hidden stash.

These days, it's just about being together, being thankful for all our gifts and the sacrifices that others have made for us.

(P.S. I got a new, fancy camera ahead of next month's trip. I promise I won't inundate you with pics, but I want to practice a little bit so I am ready to capture the Taj Mahal in all its glory. Hope you don't mind!)

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Friday, April 22, 2011


He had the most brilliant smile I'd seen in a long time.

Gleaming white teeth that went on for miles, punctuated by twinkling eyes and a surprisingly familiar demeanor.

We'd only just met, and he spoke to me as though we'd had years of history behind us. Our conversation teetered between casual introduction and blatant flirtation, his eyes flickering as he licked his lips and tried to woo me with the highlights of his impressive resume'.

The evening carried on, the two of us ignoring the crowd around us. He tossed out innuendo. I raised my eyebrow. He asked about my relationship status, and I asked about his.

No two ways about it. The interest was there. His hand crept to the small of my back. Somewhat intimate gestures and touching that implied we were more than strangers just meeting.

The glow of nightfall fanned the embers of attraction.

Weeks passed and we exchanged teasing text messages. Flirtatious, frenetic synapses fueled by technology. The possibility of plans to see each other after he returned from an out-of-town trip.

It's funny what happens when time and space put a relationship on hold.

Especially in Cincinnati.

The thing is, everybody knows everybody in this town. And I knew people who independently knew this man. I knew people who knew people who knew this man.

You know how it goes.

Curiosity killed the cat, and it dashed my lusty dreams of this new stranger. As it turns out, all accounts indicated he was married. A wife and family out of town.

Upon his return, I once again received a barrage of texts and inquiries about a meeting. I was prepared. I wasted no time. I blew his cover story and any chances he had of taking this scenario to the next level.

I'm just not that kind of girl.

The whole experience leaves me with a bit of a heavy heart.

As someone who longs to get married and have a family of her own, it saddens me to think some folks are deceptive and less honorable in their own unions.

And frankly, it bums me out to think this man believed I'd be the kind of girl who was up for being the other woman.

It's hard enough for 30-something single girls. Now I have to second guess the relationship status of every man who claims to be a worthy bachelor.

Pass the Duracells.

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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.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jeepers Creepers

9 a.m. Kate steps out of her Over-the-Rhine apartment, toting an umbrella and avoiding puddles as she travels. A few strides from her gate, she's joined by a stranger. A young man in low, baggy jeans and a big yellow parka.

This is their conversation. The words and actions in this piece are not embellished in any way.

Young man: Hi. I like your shoes. He states as eyes gaze at her black flats and bare, super white legs. His eyes creep up her legs to the knee length hem of her black dress.

Kate: Thanks. She says with an acknowledging smile.
Young man: What kind of shoes are those? He stares intently at her feet.
Kate: Unsure of the direction of the conversation. She hesitates. She lies. Um, they're just some shoes I got at DSW.

Young man: No, but what brand of shoe are they? He says insistently.

Kate: Again, she lies. Um, they're Nine West. (They're Cole Haan).

Young man: Slightly bending to get a better look. And what size feet do you have?

Kate: 10 She says with a smile and raised eyebrow, questioning the direction of the conversation.

Young man: Yeah, I like women with size 10 feet, he says while staring at Kate's face.

Kate tries to pick up her stride a bit, but he matches her pace.

Young man: So, do you work downtown. Kate nods.

Young man: And you live downtown, too, He says, surmising such based on the direction of Kate's walk. Kate nods.

Young man: And do you live alone? His face turns to her, staring intently at her eyes.

Kate: No, I live with my boyfriend, she says confidently and with a smile, even though it is a complete fabrication.

Young man: Staring off into the distance, Oh. I didn't even know you lived with your boyfriend. I didn't even know that.

Kate: Yep.
They walk a few more yards, side by side.

Young man: Okay then. Well I have to go. He picks up his pace and turns a corner.

Kate proceeds to the corner of Central and Main to the bus stop at the courthouse. Peacefully listening to APM's Dinner Party Download podcast, she waits beneath her umbrella for Rt. 43.

Young man strides up Main Street, the opposite direction in which he and Kate were previously traveling. He walks up to her.
Young man: Hi. Are you waiting for the 43? Again, he looks at her black, patent leather flats.
Kate: I am, she says politely but in a manner that is not overly friendly.
Young man: Furrowed brow, considering the implications of her statement. So do you work in Roselawn?

Kate: Nope.

Young man: But you work on Reading Road, don't you?

Kate: mildly perturbed, Yes.

Young man: And where do you work?

Kate: Simply stated. At United Way.

Young man: Where is that?

Kate: She considers lying, but knows he will see the truth when he sees her get off the bus. It's on Reading near Burnet.

Young man: Oh. Okay. I didn't even know you lived with your boyfriend. I didn't even know, he stares at her face.

Kate steps away from him and looks down Main Street to see if she can see the bus. Young man continues to look at her face. She then shifts her gaze toward Central Parkway and the Emory. He continues to look at her face. He turns away.

The bus arrives. It is almost full. They both board. Young man chooses a seat in the front area available for disabled people. Kate is forced to choose a remaining seat in the front row, just a few seats away from Young man. He looks at her shoes. They continue on the ride, Kate listening to her podcast and Young man alternately looking out the window, at Kate's face and her shoes.

A young woman gets on the bus. She is curvy and weighed down by several bags. Young woman sits on the seat across the aisle from Kate, facing Young man.

Young man: Hello. Are you having a good morning?

Young woman: Hi, yes, I am. Thank you. Smiling.

Young man: Do you live alone? he asks quietly.

Young woman: Uh, no. I live with my man. Her expression changes from kindness to defense.
Young man: Of course you do, with a smile like that. He shifts his eyes from Young woman to Kate, again looking at her face and shoes.

The bus approaches Kate's stop. She gets off swiftly, without so much as a smile at Young man.


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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I Am Going Somewhere Far

Good things come to those who wait.

So says the girl who blogged almost a year to the day about wanting to go somewhere far. Last April, I waxed poetic about wanting to feel the dirt beneath my fingertips, my desire to see a thousand colors.

Be careful what you wish for, right?

In less than five weeks I'm embarking on one of the most phenomenal adventures a girl could conjure. After a night in my old stomping grounds in Connecticut and a night on the biggest island worth $24 in beads, Wingman and I will jet off to the spicy, vibrant surroundings of India.

It's a trip we've been planning since last November. He tossed out the idea over a bite at Maribelle's Tavern in the East End. Do you want to go to India?

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

This adventure is a little bit different than my previous foreign travels. Paris/London/Amsterdam/Vienna/... They didn't require a series of shots and an anti-malaria prescription. Ditto on getting a visa. Previous international expeditions only required a passport. As one of my colleagues pointed out this morning, "It sounds like you're doing Out of Africa or something."


To be honest, I have no idea what to anticipate. After a few visits, Europe is pretty predictable. But India. The touts, the unusual toilets, the culture that's vastly different from my own... it's a lot to intimidate and excite a girl.

As I've told some of my friends, I am really looking forward to the extreme culture shock. I hope the experience pushes my expectations, introduces me to different versions of "normal" and helps me learn a little bit more about humanity.

This trip to India isn't just a vacation. It's not two weeks away from the office and my email and voicemail and commitments and reality. Okay, maybe it's a little bit of that. But I'm really hoping the big picture involves me changing as a person, even just a little bit.

Patience is a virtue, and God has blessed me with an incredible amount of patience, resilience, and determination. I've been patient enough to wait for this life-changing experience.

I can't wait to see where it takes me.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Hot Head Burritos in Oakley?

I need to get out more often.

Correction: I need to get out of CBD/OtR more often.

It appears my old stomping grounds of Oakley has a new burrito joint to check out. Hot Head Burritos has taken up residence in the old Fatburger storefront at Madison and Appleton.

A colleague of mine who lives on my old street says she's heard Hot Head is known for its burrito sauces, and by the look of their website, I'd agree. They feature five spicy, habanero-based sauces, as well as barbecue, buffalo, ranch and other saucy varieties.

The Dayton Daily News says the Kettering-based chain is one of the fast food industry's most rapid movers and shakers, and it's been eying the Cincinnati market for about a year.

Yelp features a few reviews about the Oakley outpost so I guess some folks have already stopped by for a bite.

Looks like I need to plan a trip to take the 11 bus.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

I Want To F*ck John Kasich Like An Animal

Republicans are sofa king hot.

Did I ever tell y'all how I was on the board of College Republicans?

True story. I was the only one who had a tongue ring. There I was in my twin-sets and tongue ring, on the board of the University of Kentucky CRs, wondering why I was different from all the others. While my personal life style has veered away from the conventional, the fact of the matter is...

I fucking love John Kasich.

I mean, really. I sit here, gazing at the bright lights of Downtown Cincinnati, and I long for something more peaceful and remote. Something far beyond the Urban Core. I long for an acre and a picket fence and a big fucking Escalade. I love driving. "But, Kate," you say. "You gave up your car. How can you really love driving?"

And I'll respond by saying that my European sedan wasn't really enough to satisfy my needs. What I really want is a big ass SUV. Something that gets less than 30 miles to a gallon. Something I can drive with just myself behind the wheel, something that conveys to the masses that I am rollin'.

'Cause that's what we do. Right?

I actually have moist fantasies of John Kasich when I'm sleeping. I think about how he wants to take down those crazy mother fuckers - the Train Cultists? - and I think about how he's keeping me safe by encouraging people like me to move out to the suburbs.

We really don't need a streetcar, do we? Why in the hell would we want to invest in anything that would connect people to jobs and commerce and support something that invests in Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine?

Some people might say Fuck The Police. I say Fuck The Progress.

You know what else I love about John Kasich? He's trying to protect my financial best interests. I'm a taxpayer, and I want to make sure all my dollars go to the most important, top priorities in Ohio. Like a bus station in Canton.

Do you all even really know how important Canton is to Ohio?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is there. That means something like, a trillion million dollars in revenue for Ohio. Right? And that's absolutely why Ohio should redirect a shit load of money to support some bus effort in that city, population 73,007 (not that I'm counting, or anything).

I'm wet already.

Another reason why I want to fuck John Kasich. He gives a rat's ass about teachers. And why should we, really? Fact of the matter is, John Kasich wants to level the playing field and make sure lots of people don't have the power to negotiate for ritzy salaries. Teachers, firefighters, bus drivers - they're all rollin' in it, right? I mean, every bus driver I know ends the day by sliding their ass into some cushy, leather upholstered Mercedes Benz, right?

And teachers. The damn teachers. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a teacher at Cincinnati Country Club, I'd be rich.

The fact of the matter is, teachers and firefighters and the rest of those unionized people don't deserve the right to negotiate for better wages. Just yesterday, Kasich said hell to the no to union members who want the right join forces and ask for better pay and benefits.

I mean, c'mon people.

When I interview for a job, I take what they offer. One week of vacation? Sign me up. No overtime? Yessssss! No opportunity for Long Term Disability? Why the hell would I need that. Period.

No questions asked.

Nobody should ever, ever, ever get the chance to ask for more than what their employer offers.

God, I love you, John Kasich.

You make me want to do bad things. You make me want to forget WWJD, The Golden Rule and the Girl Scout Promise.

I want to fuck John Kasich like an animal.

Because sometimes it's fun to play Role Reversal.

Right, John?

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