Thursday, May 31, 2012

With Compliments

The men of Downtown Cincinnati are a generous bunch.

Some open office doors for ladies, many others shower the fairer sex with compliments. When the latter is offered with genuine intentions and genteel reverence, the only proper reply is, "Thank you."

With a smile, of course.

On Thursday, I had to run an errand to see one of my downtown clients. I hit the pavement in my black suede, knee-high boots and green paisley shift dress.

Day-to-night dressing? I've got that down.

I'd just crossed 4th Street at Main when a bicyclist passed me on the sidewalk (ed note: I believe it's illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalks, friends. If it's not illegal, it's plain rude).

The guy just passed me when he tossed his head over his shoulder and said something to me, a big smile spread from ear to ear.

"Pardon?" I kindly offered.

"You look really nice today," he exclaimed, his pedals slowing.

I was about to offer my thanks when two delivery truck men unpacking boxes interjected.

"What about yesterday?" One retorted. The other didn't miss a beat: "Or the day before!"

The cyclist chuckled and cruised on, leaving a little joy behind him.

Another man paid me a compliment that afternoon - about aforementioned green dress - and I started wondering what was in the air.

My daily commute involves a two mile walk, round trip, through Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati. I am constantly flattered (and occasionally grossed out) by the kind words and amorous efforts of the men of the Queen City.

I once heard someone say that a compliment is one of the best things you can give someone; it doesn't cost you a cent, but it makes the recipient feel like a million bucks.

The thing is, everyone appreciates a genuine compliment - an expression of flattery that praises a specific attribute or trait. I'd gander to say most ladies would prefer to hear, "Your eyes are beautiful," over an all encompassing, "Damn, you're sexy."

I might be wrong.

When you want to pay a compliment to someone (man, woman or child, for that matter), make sure your remark directly refers to something - how someone smiles, or their flair for words, e.g.

It underscores your observant nature and lets the recipient know you're sincere about your kindness.

Because the last thing we want you to do is blow smoke up our skirt.

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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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Liquor? I Don't Even Know Her

Oh, Ohio. I hate your backwoods, Bible Belty booze laws.

I so dislike that our city doesn't have a decent liquor store. Yes, we have great wine stores aplenty (well, plenty might be pushing it), and you can even find some amazing microbrewed beer at several of those places, too.

But vodkaginbourbonrumtequila. That's what we're missing out in CBD/OtR.

Liquor laws are controlled at the state level. California allows the sale of liquor in its grocery stores. Connecticut allows independent package stores (the packie, as you'll hear people call it in New England). In Ohio, we imbibers can only buy booze in state-run stores.

Yes, there are some places like Kroger in Hyde Park where you can buy a limited selection of booze, but it can't hold a candle to what you'd find across the river at Party Source.

Ohio allows liquor sales in a few privately owned businesses, and instead manages the selection, distribution and wholesale of liquor - hence why good people like Molly Wellmann can't import certain bourbons for her businesses.

What's bad for Ohio is good for Kentucky, eh?

Ohio does not, however, allow for complete privatization of liquor sales, meaning someone just can't open shop and start selling Tanqueray on Court Street.

And that's a damn shame.

The little bodegas downtown do sell cheap wine, liqueurs with lower alcohol content (knock-off Bailey's Irish Cream and very very generic, less potent vodka e.g.), and your favorite malt beverage Four Loko, anyone?

But ix-nay on the ourbon-Bay.

And that makes my Kentucky-lovin' heart hurt just a little bit.

I like to keep a fairly well stocked bar at home. I love entertaining, and I want to make sure I have a few standard items to keep my guests happy.

And that means I have to jump through burning hoops and walk a tight rope with the Flying Wallendas just to track down a decent bottle of gin.

Doesn't every self respecting bon vivant keep a bottle of gin on hand?

The ones I know do, and when they come to visit my little abode they look longingly at their glasses of ice water, wishing instead they were refreshing G&Ts.


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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, May 23, 2012

Conch Out

This guy played a conch shell (actually, five or six of 'em) at the Jazz Club at Schwartz Point.

Head to the spot with the green lantern at Vine and McMicken streets (OtR) on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

It's a perfect date night, a great place to catch hot jazz, and otherwise be transported to the 30s and 40s.

You really never know what or who you're going to see there.

Friday, May 18, 2012

People Are Talkin'

Women sure do love to talk, don't they?

At hair salons, during book club meeting, in the ladies' room - women are a bunch of Chatty Cathys.

In these conversations we find comraderie, compassion and an opportunity to connect.

You can find the same next Thursday at the SmartTalk Women's Series on Thursday, May 24 at the Aronoff at 7:30 pm.

At next week's event, Hollywood movie star and southern belle Andie MacDowell will reveal vignettes from her life and talk about why she's passionate about heart health.

Before the event, attendees are invited to a special networking opportunity at Scene Ultra Lounge. From 5 to 7 p.m., ladies are invited to the "Thursday Night Social Spree," where guests can mix and mingle with some of the comunity's most powerful women.

It's sure to be a fun event - the good folks at Ionic Collective are providing me with a pair of tickets to attend, as well as a pair of tickets for one of my readers.

You have a couple ways to enter:
  • Leave a comment on this post about your favorite topic to chit chat about with your girlfriends
  • Tweet a link to this blog post, and leave a comment on this post telling me you did so
  • Post a link to this blog post on your Facebook page, and leave a comment telling me you did so

Good luck!

All entrants must be residents of the United States and 18 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited by law. You must enter by Monday, May 21 9 a.m. EST. Entries must be posted in the comments of this post only. Your odds of winning are based on the number of entries. By entering, you provide me with the right to use your name in publicity materials and to use your email address to contact you, and to provide your name and address to my sponsors. I am not responsible for emails that bounce or lost mail. I reserve the right to disqualify any entry that contains defamatory or obscene language or otherwise does not abide by the rules. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours, I will pick another winner until one responds.
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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.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The People I Meet

I couldn't tell if it was a serious inquiry or a come-on.

"Do you like chocolate?" he asked with a grin, his hair neatly plaited in tight cornrows.

We both walked down Vine Street on a sunny, Thursday morning. A kick in my step and a swagger in his.

He looked to be about 23-years-old, his jeans slung low on his hips and his red athletic jersey loose on his lean frame.

"Well, of course I do! Doesn't every girl like chocolate?" I offered a friendly but reserved smile as I responded with no hesitation and no innuendo.

"But have you ever been dipped in chocolate?" His grin gave way to wicked intimation, and I knew I was getting hit on and complimented at the same time.

My smile grew as I shook my head, waving off the proposition as messy and tough to clean up.

And then he asked me if I'd ever dated a black guy.

I responded well, sure, and he asked me what the difference was between a black man and a white man.

Skirting around the expected answer, I told him every man I'd ever dated was different from the previous one.

I've dated black men, white men, Asian men, Indian men, British men, Yanks and Southerners. I've dated attorneys and college drop-outs. Boomers and Gen Y types.

My dating history has run the gamut.

"It doesn't matter what color they are," I told my brief walking partner. "The thing is, each man is infinitely different from another, and their color or race or ethnic origin is but one characteristic of their being."

He told me he was single, but that he has a friend. And that's when we talked about the ideal scenario - finding someone who can also be your best friend and your partner.

When he asked me my relationship status, I gave him my canned I-have-a-boyfriend answer, the answer I've given any time I've been asked by someone I meet on the street.

"Well, that's a damn shame. Because I think you and I could have been great friends."

I'm pretty sure there was a double meaning in there, but I didn't mind.

A friendly and deep exchange with a complete stranger. Two people living dramatically different lives but walking in the same circle of life.

It was actually a special moment.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

The Difference of One Year

For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.— T.S. Elliot

One year ago I stepped onto the Indian subcontinent and experienced a sincerely life-changing adventure. You can read more about the journey here and here.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.— Mahatma Gandhi

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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, May 09, 2012

Making A List And Checking It Twice

I feel like Santa Claus.

The latest page in my notepad features a growing list of friends and connections I've let wither on the vine.

Life has been incredibly hectic these past six-eight months, and I've not done enough to maintain relationships I treasure.

So today, I made a list of names (that I continue to add to), and I am slowly reaching out to these good people. It reminds me a bit of my eight-year-old self. Instead of waiting for folks to ring my doorbell, I am hopping on my bike and setting out to maintain connections.

While I love a good cocktail party, I have a really hard time tending to relationships in those situations. I always feel like I have the same conversation 20 times: "How are you? How's the job? Going on any trips soon? Have you been to xxx restaurant of the day xxx yet? Let's catch up sometime!"

But we never do.

Those conversations are fleeting and the human connection is shallow. I've always preferred more intimate opportunities to reconnect.

Just this week, I enjoyed seeing an old pal in his new OtR digs. He cooked me a fantastic dinner, we enjoyed some vino on his rooftop, and I helped him run some lines for a play he's starring in next month.

And over the course of the evening, we conquered personal and professional challenges, reminisced about some silly memories, and I learned a little bit about Cary Grant.

A good evening by all accounts.

Who's on your list? What friendships deserve some tending?

*** *** *** ***
Last Thursday my parents and I enjoyed opening night of The Second City 2 at The Playhouse in the Park.

I met with the play's writers a few months ago to give them some insight on how Cincinnati has evolved in the 18 months since their last production.

We covered the long fought streetcar saga, dating in Cincinnati,  the unique language spoken by P&Gers, and the change happening in Over-the-Rhine.

A lot of those themes and several others have been woven into the production, which runs through July 1. I'm told the original Second City production was the highest grossing play the Playhouse has ever offered, with repeat sell-out nights for several weeks running.

Needless to say, Cincinnati is clamoring once again to see this show. If you haven't yet made plans to check it out, I'd consult your calendar.

You'd be forever regarded as a Great American.

*** *** ***

Bluegrass Brit and I completed our trifecta of half marathons this past weekend.

Photo credit: Michael Anderson of the Cincinnati Reds

In January, we ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon, a beautiful, flat course along the Pacific Ocean.

Two months later we cruised through Central Kentucky's horse farms with the Run The Bluegrass half marathon. That race was far more challenging than first thought, what with the 36 hills on the course.

But we made it.

This past weekend we conquered the Flying Pig Half Marathon. I didn't really train for this race (okay, I didn't train at all), so we ran/walked it and finished in three hours. Definitely not as good as my California run-only time, but hey, a half marathon is a half marathon.


I've been considering ways to reward myself for the accomplishment, and lately I've been mulling a new Bond No. 9 fragrance (my favorite line of perfumes). I picked up the Coney Island scent on New Year's Eve and am now longing for something springy.

Last month Bond sent me a sample of their newest fragrance, Central Park West, and it is definitely a beauty. Released in March, this fragrance celebrates the grand addresses and greenery of this tony New York City neighborhood.

Heavy on the gardenia, this scent is very fresh and floral.

Quite the opposite of how I smell after 13.1 miles.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Face Time

I once knew a processed foods heiress who demanded face time.

Sometime, after the new millennium, I worked with an intern who wanted to be a TV reporter. Her blonde, cascading hair, glistening nails, and vacant stares belied the fact she was a junior at Northwestern University, home to one of the best J-Schools in the country.

This 21-year-old's entire exterior pulsated Entitled Princess like a neon sign. From her shiny, new Range Rover in the parking lot (complete with a vanity plate bearing her four initials - one of which was a name you'll find on a couple dozen products at your local grocery store), to the best jewels David Yurman had to offer, this girl glittered like an Emmy.

One day, after our morning editorial meeting, this intern confided in me that she sought a meeting with our news director.

"I really need some face time with David. I mean, I feel like I haven't connected with him. He hasn't critiqued my work and I need some advice on improving. I don't feel like we're developing a relationship."

Commentary about Gen Y aside, I understood what this co-ed was saying. She didn't feel like she was getting any personal exposure to someone in her universe.

Years later, I had another news director who once told me, "If I never see your face in my office until your annual review, you're doing something right."

And for much of the news business, that's the truth. There's so little time to critique and advise. It's all about "running and gunning," and making sure things don't crash and burn in the process.

You pray you don't get hauled into the news director's office, because if you do, it's going to hurt.

And that's how I've operated for much of my professional career. Chock it up to my Gen X tendencies and my ability to work alone.

It's a little different where personal relationships are concerned.

I know myself well enough to know I fail miserably at maintaining friendships and more intimate relationships that don't allow for enough face time.

When people cycle out of my sphere, I have a hard time keeping the closeness alive. Good, bad or indifferent, I've let a lot of wonderful people drift out of my life because I've moved on (high school or college, e.g.), or moved away.

Sometimes, it reminds of that saying about having friends for a reason, a season and a lifetime.

And sometimes the onus is on me.

I've found myself guilty a million, trillion times of saying a casual, "We should do lunch sometime," or "We should catch up sometime," and failing to follow through.

Sometimes, I am horrible with the follow-through.

Other times, I'm the person who doesn't receive the follow-through, but instead smiles and exchanges pleasantries with the person who doesn't have time for me.

And that's okay.

Life is so big and bad and complicated, and it's easy for us to cycle in and cycle out of another's sphere. The rub is when we find ourselves out of a place we want to be - a social circle, a relationship that has dissipated beyond its life cycle - and struggling to get back in.

I know I need to work harder at being intentional with my relationships, making sure I'm investing the time and energy in the people whose life have become a part of my own.

And sometimes, I need to remind the folks who casually toss out mentions of plans that, no, my phone number hasn't changed and, yes, you are always welcome to call me.

Because everyone needs some face time once in a while.

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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.