Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kroger strike imminent

Well, the Kroger grocery store strike in Northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati is looking like it might happen this weekend. This strike also affects grocery store employees in my hometown in Eugene, Oregon. At issue for the Kroger employees are health care expenses (!) and fully funded pension plans.

I once crossed a picket line. It was by accident. After being a life-long supporter of striking workers, banning restaurants because of their shitty treatment of employees or discriminatory hiring and firing practices (still have never set foot in a Cracker Barrel) and generally taking a stand against corporate greed even when no one knows it but me, I found myself in San Francisco during the hotel and restaurant workers strike several years ago. For one reason or another, I was at some swanky hotel in the city and when we pulled into the tunnel for valet parking, the noise from the striking workers was deafening. Clanging bells, drumming drums and singsong chants reverberated everywhere. I was shaking so hard that the scab, actually a member of management filling in for the valet, had to help me out of the car. Damn, that sucked. And I still feel bad about it today.

Kroger workers are holding a rally today at 5:30 in Fountain Square to share their demands. There’s supposed to be an online petition at Grocery Workers United that we can sign to show support but I can’t find it.

What you can do: Tell your Kroger store manager that you support store workers and want them to have a fair contract. I told my Kroger store manager that I didn’t want to shop somewhere where the employees weren’t treated fairly. He nodded and gave me a tired smile that said he didn’t like what was happening, either.

the trash, man

The homeless people who go through my garbage every week know all of my secrets. Think about it:

They know about the pick-up cycle for garbage in our neighborhood. They know about other cycles, too.

They know that mostly, I eat organic food. But sometimes, I go to Big Boy and order a cheese steak sandwich. With fries.

Do they know the wadded up Kleenex is from crying about my mom?

Empty pill bottles, a salve to my pain?

Do they read the scraps of paper, filled with story ideas? Do they wonder about the ones that I finished, and how they ended?

When they see the broken mirror, do they know I broke it on purpose?

When they see me on the street, are they nodding hello to a stranger?

Or do they know more about me than my own family?

nancy hopkins: Covington artist

This is a pic of a beautiful ceramic piece I bought from local Covington, Kentucky artist Nancy Hopkins. Hopkins works with ceramics (and paints, too) and you can view her stuff during Final Friday at the Pendleton in Cincinnati every month.

"Spotty Frog," like much of Hopkins' work, showcases her love of animals in a way that's witty- and inspired. The whimsical frog head and the other wall hangings have a life of their own, and give any wall in your home an Alice in Wonderland feel. If you're looking for a unique Christmas gift, a large or small ceramic by Nancy Hopkins might be just the ticket for the dreamer in your life.

You can find Hopkins on Final Friday in her studio (414) at the Pendleton, many of her works are displayed at the indigenous gallery in O'Bryonville or contact her by email.

Monday, October 29, 2007

major medical

She was nice about it, really.

She could have sneered, she could have smirked, she might even have sniffed her disapproval and I would have seen it all, even over the phone. But she didn’t. Wanda/Rhonda in the billing department at St. Elizabeth’s calmly understood when I burst into tears in the middle of trying to explain that I cannot pay the latest hospital bill.

There I was, crying on the phone, choking back my despair and stepping on my sense that I’m spiraling into unexpected debt related to unforeseen medical expenses. And guess what?

I just wrote about this topic this morning for a financial services client.

In fact, most low and middle income households are not in credit card debt due to spending their money on junk. They’re using their credit cards to pay for household expenses. And emergencies, like the loss of a job. Or unexpected hospital bills. Like me.

No, I told Wanda/Rhonda, I don’t need state assistance to pay my bill. I just can’t pay it all off right now. Luckily, St. Elizabeth’s worked out a payment plan for me. $100 a month until the end of time. No, not that long, really. It just feels that way today.

This morning, I was coolly appraising as I read the survey statistics and then spouted them back out in an article on credit debt. Thinking how hard it is on some people.

This afternoon, I’m a statistic, too.

one more girl on a stage

The One More Girl on a Stage series continues at the historic Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky this Friday. Performers in Junie’s Lounge include Lydia Loveless and DOM, Jordana, Kelly Thomas with Sharon Udoh and Jenn Wheatley.

The One More Girl on a Stage series features local and national female artists and a donation from every show is made to a charity/organization that supports women. This event benefits the One More Girl Woman’s Way Recording Grant.

Southgate House, located at 24 East 3rd street in Newport (across from the aquarium), is a nationally recognized venue for seeing shows and mucho fun. The show is free and starts at 10 pm.

Into the Wild

I often talk and write about dropping out; moving somewhere without people where I can just enjoy nature. Like Thoreau, I’d need little else beyond the basics but would love life the same as the compromisers do, without all of the greed. I still have this dream. I also have a real affinity for the Northern Woods of Wisconsin and will probably move there at some point. In the meantime, I’m working- and dreaming.

Christopher McCandless really did drop out in the early 90’s, giving away all of his material possessions and moving to Alaska to live off the land. Jon Krakauer wrote the book Into the Wild, and now Sean Penn’s made the movie. I saw it this weekend when I was out of town visiting a friend.

I loved the book, so maybe it was inevitable that I’d be let down by the movie. Hitchhiking across country and taking odd jobs on farms, McCandless lived my dream. He survived mainly by his charm. He had a sweetness about him that everyone loved, and everyone wanted to help him reach his goal. You got that in the book, and it was hinted at in the movie, too.

I loved the real people who appeared in the movie as themselves, like folk artist Leonard Knight, and real places, like the squatters’ Slab City (the “last free place on earth”)- they were the best parts of the film. The cinematography was beautiful, especially detailing McCandless' arrival in Alaska. Brian Dierker, in his first film, and the luminous Catherine Keener glow as the older hippie couple who benefit from knowing Alexander Supertramp, McCandless’ adopted persona. The rest of the acting and the adapted screenplay, ehhh. Just so-so.

I was disappointed at the interplay of Alexander Supertramp’s journey and his family life. I think Penn should have either given us more information about what was happening in the family, or left it out altogether. William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden were portrayed as difficult parents, but they were too one-dimensional.

Or maybe it’s just me; maybe, in spite of my wish to move away from everyone, I need more social interaction, even in my movies. The movie felt draggy at times, taking too much time with the moose kill and the berry-picking. If you love Alaska, you’ll love the scenery. But I’d wait for the DVD.

By the way, the Alaskans I know aren’t very sympathetic to McCandless’ story. My brother/my hero lived in Nome for some time and he especially didn't have much use for the inexperienced Supertramp. E.g., “How can you kill and animal and not know how to clean it properly?” “How can you not know that rivers thaw?” “Who goes into the woods without proper supplies?”

I found that curious, since he’s something of a folk hero now (McCandless, not my brother- yet). But my family members take their hunting and gathering seriously. And as avid nature lovers, they have trouble comprehending someone like Alexander, equating a lack of experience with a disrespect for nature. I think Alexander Supertramp had the right idea, he was just too innocent. If you want to know more about him, buy the book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I get really scared when I watch horror movies. Terrified! But like everything else that's so bad for me, I’m always irresistibly drawn to them. In honor of Halloween, there are a ton of thrillers on TV in the next week. AMC in particular is running Monsterfest, 10 days of horror films. Some of the gems they’re showing include: Magic, Hellraiser, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Puppetmaster, Children of the Corn, Creepshow, The Howling, The Exorcist, Psycho and of course, Halloween. If the movies listed here have sequels, they’re running those on AMC, too.

The Holiday Drive-In is also running some retro thrillers; tonight and tomorrow they’re showing Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and the Original Night of the Living Dead. This Friday and Saturday the drive-in movie theater will show triple features for Halloween, kicking off with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and going right into 30 Days of Night and The Grudge. Eeek! Put on your PJs, bring a big blanket, and bring someone to scare away the boogey men, too.

And finally, the Arizona Republic has a few ideas for Halloween movies the whole family can enjoy.

So, who's dressing up for Halloween? What are the hot costumes? My friend Mina and her husband went as Dog the Bounty Hunter and wife last year (mullets and all) and that was one of the best ideas for Halloween costumes I've heard of in a while. Hillary showing immense cleavage might be a good one this year. But I'm leaning toward Little Red Riding Hood for my Halloween costume. I've been trying to work my way through well-known female fictional characters for years and I did Alice in Wonderland already. Lala thinks the whole red cape thing is overdone, but I think it would be fetching.

If you're going to dress up or have an idea for a good/funny/timely Halloween costume, feel free to post a note here. And have a wonderful spook-filled holiday!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I want a wife

I want a wife. Someone who will cook for me, clean for me and generally put my life in order.

I love to cook. But as the years go by I feel less and less like standing over the stove. Wives love to cook. That’s a known fact.

I have never been much of a housekeeper. Since I have to pay to have someone clean my place, that’s just one of the savings I’d get from having a wife.

And a wife could spend her days doing all of those wifely things that puzzle me so:

Scrapbooking. Spending hours on end cutting photos into heart shapes and cheerily writing insipid “first day at school!” captions. My photos are still in the envelopes from the places where they were developed. Sometimes I had the presence of mind to write Maui 97 or Tahoe 94 on the envelope flap, but they’re mixed up and out of order. I need someone who gives a damn to clean them up. Cut them into shapes. Put little hearts over the i’s.

Getting super excited about the latest “wipes” to hit the market. The last time I counted, you could buy wipes for more than two dozen different needs: baby, “female hygiene” and dusting are just a few. Since I am terrified I will use the wrong wipe for the wrong body part or the wrong room, they tend to stay in their boxes. A clever wife could straighten this out.

Visiting the free photography studios for some 70’s era shots with the kids. Stiffly posed in last year’s clothes, the resulting photos will grace everything from my mantel to the fridge to my keychain and Christmas tree. Why not? They were free.

I don’t mind if my wife works. As long as it’s only part-time. Nothing that interferes with getting my meals on the table. Ebay, dog walking or taking online surveys for Cash! would all be acceptable.

I like to play pool. Watch football. Have the guys over. Wifey will come in handy on these occasions, serving drinks and huddling in the corner with the other wives, discussing scrapbooking and wipes.

And of course, my wife has to take care of her wifely duties. None of this once a month on a rainy Sunday nonsense that all of my married friends complain about. My wife should be at attention and ready to go when I am ready too. She’ll also take care of the family planning, since I never ever want to worry about that again. That will be her responsibility alone. And God forbid there’s an unplanned pregnancy; there will be hell to pay.

I want a wife. Is that so much to ask?

I Spy

I'm not much of a poet, but I started this series last spring, inspired by the many characters I "spy" when I'm walking around town, especially along the river. It's a break from the regular posts, anyway.

Two wizened old bikers with long white manes and black t-shirts sitting in the park. “Nahce day fer eksircizin.” Yup;

A sleek blonde sophisticate adjusting oversized sunglasses in the rear view mirror of her red merc convertible, following a leisurely lunch on the riverboat;

Man in uniform sitting at the helm of his pick-up truck, listening to conservative talk radio at full volume and staring fiercely out at the river;

Two baby ducks instead of three, which sends me worriedly over to inspect and find the third yellow puff blissfully grass-grazing, unaware of my concern;

A dirty old man eyeing a 15 year old and absentmindedly fondling himself;

Illicit lovers happily planning their future, dreaming out loud, starry eyed holding hands across the camry’s console;

Myself. Quiet. Watchful. Going up and down the steps and cutting across the old alley to feel the bricks underneath my shoes. What do my objects of interest think when they see me?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the cougar

There’s a name for women who date younger men. Cougars.

They don’t have a name for men who date younger women. Oh wait. Yes they do. It’s called “Expected.” Or “Normal.”

Younger men that date older women (or “cougar hunters”) say there’s a lot to like: confidence, self deprecating wit and a great sense of style. Meow.

Some of you might remember, a couple of years ago I dated a man 10 years younger than me. For about two months. It was… nice. We didn’t really have much in common. Well. We had one or two things in common. That seemed to fill up the awkward gaps in conversation just fine. Quite the ice breaker, you might say.

I didn’t realize how young he was until our first date. I had an idea in my head about dating someone much younger that summer. I can’t lie- that was intentional. I started hinting around right away, on our first date. Trying to guess his age. But my math is so poor that my stealth tactics (using my fingers to count backwards under the table) were soon obvious. He told me that he’d just graduated college the month before. We had a nice date. And then he left it up to me. He knew I wasn’t sure and he wanted it to be my decision. So I thought about it. And a few days later, I called him.

I have always had rather serious, long-term relationships. So I tried to get this one up to speed. I mean, I really tried to talk to him to find some commonality. I talked to him about working, and the stress of being self employed. Since he’d just started a job, his, um, first job, there wasn’t a lot of relatable material there. Since so much of what we (sadly) discuss is related to work, that took a lot of conversation off the table. Politically, well, he was still sort of figuring that out. Topics relating to our age and school certainly weren’t to be discussed. And we didn’t do a lot of in-depth talking about our feelings. It was kind of a relief, actually. To finally not have to think. To just have fun, go to festivals and hang out on my porch. To just be. My. Very. Favorite. Thing.

I still think about those two months sometimes. Those 60 days. Of just being.

Ann and I were at the pub in Mainstrasse recently and the cutest boys walked in just after midnight. They marched right over to our table and started talking with us. They were going to run a marathon the next day, they explained. A marathon? After drinking and smoking all night? Yes, the cute one told me shyly, dimple flashing. I have to get up at 6 tomorrow for the race.

Up all night. Marathons. Dimples. I thought about it. And then I paid the bill. And I went home.


By the way… my friends did not approve. Thought it was ridiculous and a total waste of my time. Not sure what a man’s friends say when he dates a younger woman, but I doubt that he's hearing “it’s a huge mistake.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

2007 Holiday Craft Sales, Fairs and Bazaars

There are, quite literally, hundreds- if not thousands- of craft fairs happening between now and Christmas in greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Holiday craft sales are put on by high schools, churches and any organization looking to raise money. They feature homemade crafts and exceptionally good homemade foodstuffs at very reasonable prices- and they're a wonderful place to pick up gifts. I’ve never been very crafty, but some of the women in my family are, and I’ve had great success with buying presents at the holiday craft fairs. And a beautiful wreath or some other handmade item is much more original than bringing bottles of wine to every holiday party you attend this year.

Your best bet? Take off work on a Friday and plan to hit two or three of the holiday craft sales in the same day. They often sell out of the best stuff on the first day of the sale and the crowds can be out of control on the weekends. Besides, you’ll get so much shopping done in one morning at just one or two craft shows, you can take a long, leisurely lunch afterwards- you earned it with all of your hard work. Go somewhere that specializes in bloody marys or mimosas. I find that alcohol makes shopping, which I hate, almost bearable.

A run down of holiday craft fairs, bazaars, sales and shows happening in the next couple of months in Northern Kentucky:

Homemakers Holiday Craft Sale
Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Kenton County Cooperative Extension Service 10990 Marshall Road Covington, KY

St. Henry District High Craft Fair
Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 10 a.m.
St. Henry District High School 3755 Scheben Drive Erlanger, KY

Simon Kenton Christmas Bazaar
Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 1 p.m.
Simon Kenton High School 11132 Madison Pike Independence, KY

Keepsake Christmas Craft Show
Friday, November 02, 2007 at 10 a.m., Saturday opens at 10, Sunday November 04 opens at 11 The Drawbridge Inn & Convention Center 2477 Royal Drive Fort Mitchell, KY

Holiday Crafts Fair
Saturday, November 03, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Nicholson Christian Church 1970 Walton Nicholson Pike Independence, KY

Beechwood High Boutique and Craft Fair
Saturday, November 03, 2007 at 9 a.m.
Beechwood High School 50 Beechwood Road Fort Mitchell, KY

St. Barbara Church Crafts Show
Saturday, November 03, 2007 at 9 a.m.
St. Barbara Church 4042 Turkeyfoot Road Erlanger, KY

Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Holy Trinity Junior High School 840 Washington Ave. Newport, KY

Asbury United Methodist Church Craft Fair
Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 9 a.m.
Asbury United Methodist Church 2916 Alexandria Pike Highland Heights, KY

First Christian Church Mouse House
Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 10 a.m.
First Christian Church 1031 Alexandria Pike Fort Thomas, KY

Ryle High Arts and Crafts Show
Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7 p.m., starts Saturday at 9 am
Ryle High School 10379 U.S. 42 Union, KY

Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Newport Church of the Nazarene 830 York St. Newport, KY

Giving Thanks Craft Fair
Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Campbell County High School 909 Camel Crossing Alexandria, KY

Holiday Pottery, Fiber, Wood and Jewelry Sale
Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 11 a.m.
Howard Hall 25 E. 11th St. Covington, KY

Christmas In The Brook
Saturday, December 01, 2007 at 9 a.m.
Saddlebrook Subdivision Clubhouse 99 Saddlebrook Drive Florence, KY

Ludlow High School Band Boosters Craft and Vendor Fair
Saturday, December 01, 2007 at 9 a.m.
Ludlow High School 515 Elm St. Ludlow, KY

Feel free to post information about your organization's Northern Kentucky holiday craft bazaar in the comments section.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Closure: an often comforting or satisfying sense of finality.

It’s the sound a good book makes when I snap it shut after a satisfying read. The click of a vintage handbag as I pick it up to run out the door to meet my date. And the lighthearted way I feel when I close yet another kind of door on something that troubled me. It’s even better than how I felt on the scale today, when I saw I lost another 2 pounds.

When events run their course, we talk about them coming full circle. A beginning and an end that neatly binds everything together. With closure, you can take the memory and put it away on a high shelf. It won't vex you, get in the way, or trip you up in the hallway in the middle of the night like a pair of 4 inch stilettos so often do. It’s just something you'll see once in a while when you're cleaning- or packing.

Knowing that finally, you can exhale. And move on, without ever looking back. That’s called closure. And it feels... wonderful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

16th Annual Covington Beautification Awards

On Thursday, October 18th, the Covington Beautification Awards Ceremony will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church at 326 Madison in Covington. The reception begins at 6 pm and the awards presentation starts at 7 pm.

The Covington Beautification Awards are presented each year to individual homeowners and local business establishments.

If you didn't make the cut this year, watch the city of Covington website for information about 2008 nominations.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I love dogs. We always had a dog when I was growing up. My dog Belle, a white German Shepherd, was a glorious dog. Once, we left her home alone for a day, and she broke out of the house and walked a precarious two miles, cutting across backyards and shooting down empty alleys, to a friend’s house where my sister often walked her. Looking for us.

I don’t have a dog now, mostly just due to circumstance (might as well wait until I move). Though I’ve been rethinking this a lot lately. Mostly today. My ex-boyfriend and I got a dog when we lived together, but I left her with him when I moved. It was heartbreaking, and I’ll tell you that story sometime. But the ex owns a company where she gets to ride along with him every day, playing with customers’ dogs and generally enjoying a very pampered, very active lifestyle. At the time I was still working in an office and I couldn’t bear to stick her in a cage all day long. It didn’t seem fair. She’s a great dog, a lab, and he still brings her down to visit me sometimes. Now, I work from home, so I could give a dog- or a puppy- a lot of love and attention, too.

Living in Northern Kentucky, it seems like everyone has a dog. Covington- and Newport too, for that matter- is a dog-town. We don’t identify people by their names; we know their dog’s names. Butter, Xerox, Remy, Schotzie, Bill Murray, Travis- if you live near the river you probably know at least one of these dogs. Feisty Robbie is my favorite, a Westie terrier with a big dog personality. I didn’t think that I liked little dogs until I met him. Even the backyard wrestlers on lunch break along the river always melt when they see him.

When my neighbor Lora lost her German Shepherd Lacy a couple of years ago, people turned up from all over to help us go house to house to find her. The outpouring of concern was amazing. And the people we met and talked to helped out even more by looking around, too. Crazy story: A Month to the Day after disappearing, a vet tech saw Lacy sprawled out on the hillside next to Columbia parkway (that’s across the bridge in Ohio, and then some, for you out-of-towners). She whipped around in a somewhat precarious U-turn and pulled the dog inside her car. Lacy had a chip installed, so was soon reunited with her loving owner.

There aren’t really any dogs that I don’t like over here. And you have to be careful, because mention to someone that so-and-so snapped at you, and people will cross the street to avoid that dog for years to come. I’m not kidding. The doggie rumor mill is harsher and faster moving than the Ohio River. Some dogs get a bad rap through no fault of their own. Some may deserve the scorn of their neighbors, but it all feels a little silly to me.

I do sometimes get aggravated with some of the dog owners. There’s a woman who walks two small beagle-mixes and she never, ever picks up after them. The day after I said something to her I found a small surprise on my walkway. That kind of made me laugh, though I do wish she had a better understanding of the diseases spread by dogs. Commonly spread to other dogs, not to humans, which makes it seem even worse, somehow.

Some of the dogs, inevitably, begin to look like their owners. Or maybe their owners look like their dogs. The kind, shaggy man with the sweet, shaggy Shih tzus. The elegant tall couple with the even more elegant greyhound. The funny, lipsticked lady in the leopard coat and her lipsticked (from a morning kiss) spotted Dalmatian. The cool, efficient blonde career woman with the perfectly groomed Airedale. The funky, pretty blonde artist and her cuddly golden retriever.

What kind of dog am I? Well, I’m not sure. What kind of a dog is trusting, loyal to a fault and still believes in the goodness of people? Tries to be like Marilyn but often ends up more like Lucy? Falls head over heels far too easily, and is weary of being bruised again? Am I a pit bull? Or a Newfoundland? A Jack Russell terrier, perhaps?

I’m open to suggestions, dog lovers.

p.s. Last night my neighbor was experimenting and came up with a new recipe for an exotic chicken dish, and he made some extra for my dinner, too. Sweet. I couldn’t help but notice though, the Tupperware dish holding my meal was labeled with his dog’s name.

I’ve had worse dinner dates.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the living doll

I recently watched a show on the BBC about men who have “real dolls.” The real dolls are life-size replicas of women. Barbies. Perfect women with perfect bodies that are perfectly available to their owners whenever they need them.

I was amazed at how lifelike the real dolls were. I wasn’t exactly thunderstruck at the type of man who owned a real doll. In no particular order they included a young man who lived at home with his parents (who did not approve of his real doll), a loner who lived in the hills of West Virginia or Tennessee or some such and a couple of other just generally lonely men.

The dolls are outrageously expensive, costing thousands and thousands of dollars. They wear out sometimes. The young man who lived with his parents had to send his doll to be fixed and he was heartbroken at the idea of being away from her for a few weeks.

The man who fixes the broken down dolls seemed a little put off by them. He acknowledged that he was providing his customers a valuable service, yet seemed a little grossed out by the smear of hot pink lipstick left on one doll. But when you think of the sights he’s seen! And the smells he’s smelled! And the strange conversations he’s had with the dolls’ anxious owners, well, that would probably put anyone off after a while.

Watching the men lovingly photograph, dress, groom, and yes, clean the intimate areas of their plastic lady friends was deeply disturbing. So much so, that I was glued to the set for the hour-long program. I think I only blinked four times in the first ten minutes.

And I had to wonder… About the real dolls that I have known.

One of my best friends was married to a real doll. Sweetly pretty and disarmingly sexy, she’d been married a couple of times already. She spent outrageous amounts of money on really stupid things, amassing a large amount of debt in the few years that they were together. But she was also fun, funny and full of charm- the life of any party. She once told me that she’d been “lucky,” because she’d “always” had a man to take care of her. She’d never “had to be alone.”

That floored me. The idea that a woman could go through life, with nothing to offer but her sexual wiles, relying every time on a man to support her, is nothing but a shock to my system.

After they divorced (during the divorce), she immediately found another man. A wealthy scion of an old family with even older money. The latest news is that she’s pregnant, though the wedding’s on hold. But truthfully, that shouldn’t matter. With the only grandchild of the family’s only son and heir, she should be set for life now.

Once again, the doll landed on her feet- or maybe on her back?

Colie was a groupie back in the day. A cute, slender doll who traveled extensively with a very, very famous singer. She didn’t age well. Grossly overweight, her voice is gravelly from too many cigarettes and too many long nights on the tour bus. Fleshy, with a heavily lipsticked mouth permanently turned down by too many disappointments. Colie, too, relied on men to support her- and supported herself by her many years as a real doll. Now, she seems lost- still relying on the men that she hires to do work around her house, drifting along like a sloop without a mainsail. With only her memories, a tiny fringed half-top and an all-access pass to remind her of the glorious days of her youth. Of her doll-dom.

Katie is a stay at home mom. I have nothing against stay at home moms. My mom, my sisters, and my sisters-in-law are pretty much all stay at home moms. All by choice. They’re dynamic women who take their kids to museums and art classes. And these days, if you decide to have kids, you may not have a choice. You have to have a considerable salary in order to afford day care for one child, let alone two or three. It’s a “choice” that more and more moms have had to accept.

Katie isn’t a dynamic stay at home mom. She’s a stay at home mom who watches TV, talks on the phone and fools around on myspace while her husband’s off at work. Her little girl seems to spend most of her time in her room, playing games or pretending to be somewhere else. Katie releases a constant stream of complaints about welfare recipients. To hear her spout off, I have to wonder if she realizes that she’s only about two steps away from public assistance herself. If her husband divorced her, and couldn’t afford to pay her support… well. She’s only had one job. She is pretty and quite charming though. The general consensus is that if they got divorced, she’d just remarry.

When it comes to self reliance, the "real" dolls give the rest of us a bad name. Living out their lives like automatons, performing when called upon, and using their thin charms to get what they want out of life. How different are these wind-up women from the real dolls? Do they ever have any cause for self-reflection? Any reason to take a closer look at their lives, and the women they’ve become?

I wish there was a place they could be sent to be fixed. Someone who would reach into the backs of their heads and open their eyes wide. Install fresh bolts in their ankles to give them the strength to stand on their own two feet.

Then again. Without the men who want the dolls for fun and games, there wouldn’t be any need for them at all.

p.s. If you have a strong stomach, check out some real dolls online. I think this is the company highlighted in the show I watched. Note the extras you can order.

Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 Art Off Pike

Just a reminder, the Art Off Pike art fair runs from 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday, October 13th.

Art Off Pike is better than ever this year, featuring more than fifty local and regional artists, live music and food from local restaurants. Hands-on art activities and wines from local wineries round out the event.

Art Off Pike is held in the heart of the Covington arts district at 7th and Pike, between Madison and Russell streets.

the coach

When I was in high school, my algebra teacher was none other than the football coach. How he managed to also get the job as our math teacher astounded me, since he knew very little about teaching or even basic social skills. When he wasn’t busy telling me I was stupid, he was writing out reams of slips sending me to detention. Mainly for insubordination. It was hard to show respect for someone who clearly didn’t respect me.

There were rumors about coach’s locker room theatrics; throwing players against their lockers; screaming and chewing out the team after a particularly difficult loss against a major rival. Behavior that was acceptable, as long as we were winning.

I can only guess at the reason he managed to keep his job. Perhaps it had something to do with our football team’s yearly appearances at State. The year after we took state, he showed up for the first day of school in a new ‘vette.

Clearly a once-handsome man, he had the rugged, tanned good looks of a Dean Martin or some other 50’s icon. V-neck sweaters, golf shirts and a full head of hair styled in a dark pompadour that was barely dusted with silver did nothing to diminish the fantasy. But his handsome face was marred in the cruel way that only a hard drinker loses his youth. His cheeks, too rosy; his nose, a frightening festival of mushy broken capillaries.

It’s true; I wasn’t very good in math. But I hardly felt I deserved to be singled out, day after day, to have this pointed out to the rest of the class. Even kids I’d never spoken to turned around and shook their heads at me in commiseration when he chewed me out, as regularly and reliably as the mystifying Pi.

Even when I knew the answer to an equation, my raised hand was acknowledged only to tell me not to “waste” his time. A week’s worth of comments like that exploded in a none-too-quiet Goddamnit! on my end, which resulted in a handful of detention slips: insubordination and swearing were two of them. I had a problem with that last one. I’d stopped going to church in recent years and was struggling with my broken down belief system.

“I don’t know if I believe in God. So how can you call that swearing?” More grumbling and more slips being filled out. “I’m not kidding. You can’t write me up for swearing. You said damn it to hell to me five minutes ago. How can “goddamn” be any worse than that? And I didn’t say it to you, like you said it to me. I just said it to myself.” More slips and a trip to the principal’s office to explain myself.

Thankfully, only the vice principal was in. A dear man who was a sort of neighbor. He easily accepted my reasoning that if I had detention, I wouldn’t be able to catch my bus home. Frowning at the number of detention slips that I handed over, and the angry red pen that filled up the sheets of paper, he shook his head and filed them away. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.

For the first time in my life, I had made an enemy.

Some of the football players told coach that I liked to drink the occasional beer, and then some, a fact which he gleefully relayed to our omniscient principal, a far more fearsome man than his vice counterpart. A fact which was explained to me as the reason why I couldn’t participate in a particular activity which meant a lot to me, and which I had earned. I remember sitting in the principal’s office as this was explained to me and my choking anger as I tried hard not to cry. And the vice principal’s face, as he turned to stone and stared at the floor, biting the inside of his mouth and shaking his head.

Coach was fired, eventually. Finally, some football player with a mom who didn’t think that coach’s antics were acceptable. Someone else who thought that his actions were abusive and illegal. This coupled with a year with as many losses and wins and he was out. He ended up at a small school further away, in the country. Simple internet browsing netted an unofficial online forum for the school that warned kids against angering him, because he’d “never let it go.” He’s still coaching football. Probably still terrorizing kids in math class.

The last I heard, they were on one hell of a winning streak.

slippery slopes Part II

This is part II of an earlier blog post; read part I here.

Not only did my boyfriend not slow down his drinking, it just got worse. He promised me many, many things when he was drunk. When I didn’t realize how drunk he was. Things that he didn’t follow through on, things that started to pile up. Little things, like we’ll zip up to Chicago next weekend. Big things, like volunteering (without any prompting on my part) to have his vasectomy reversed. When he wasn't drunk, he tried to pretend like the things he'd said didn't happen; pretended like none of it mattered. But it did matter. It mattered a lot to me.

Highlights of the year or so long relationship included a trip north, where he got drunk at a restaurant and was rude to me in front of the server, then threatened the bartender. Then he almost got us kicked out of the Lincoln Park Inn with his drunken antics. That was the first time I really talked to him about his drinking, on the drive home from Chicago. I waited until then because I knew he’d be sober and I knew I’d have a captive audience in the car. He seemed really receptive. Contingent up one thing.

He needed my support. My love. If I stuck it out with him, he really thought he could do it. “Don’t quit,” I implored. “Just cut back. That’s all I am asking you to do.”

Fast forward a month or two.

Not much has changed about my boyfriend’s drinking, except that he got much better at hiding it from me. Waiting until I was in the bathroom at a bar or restaurant to quickly order and down his double or triple shots of jager. Lying to me about going to bars at all on the nights when I was home or out of town. I am starting to figure this out when a friend of his comes in to the city for a visit.

We head over to hamburger mary’s, so I can goose some drag queens and attempt to get my dance on. Hoping to make his friend feel less like he was third-wheeling it, I ask him a number of questions about his time in the service, his wife and kids and the like. Also, I just wanted to get to know my boyfriend’s best friend. A couple of my boyfriend’s quick trips to the “restroom” (read: the other side of the bar, where we couldn’t see him) and an even quicker change in the atmosphere and I realize, something’s going on.

I’ll shorthand it for you and say that my kindness to the friend was misinterpreted by my drunken boyfriend. The friend’s innocent interest in me was also wildly misinterpreted and almost resulted in a fistfight. It was embarrassing. Horribly awkward. Really, just awful.

I waited until the next day to talk to him. When I knew he’d be sick, embarrassed and miserable. And I gave him a choice: Keep drinking or keep going out with me. And then I went home.

It was really hard to walk away from him. But I cared about him too much to watch him do it anymore. I also have too much self respect to put myself through that. And enough experience wrangling drunks to know, I’m not going to spend my life with a hardcore alcoholic. No way. I have plans.

Later that day, well into the next night, actually, I received a cryptic text message telling me that he’d “chosen life.” E.g., he chose to keep drinking. Okey doke. We didn’t speak for a couple of days. Until finally, he called to tell me he’d been thrown out of his regular bar. For almost coming to blows with a (also very drunk) woman.

He swore it was a misunderstanding. I didn’t disagree with that. I had only one question. Whatever are you doing, wasting all of your time and money in that stupid bar?

Is that who you really want to spend every night with for the rest of your life?

It wasn’t, he decided. He cut back drastically on the booze.

Do it, I told him. Because if you put the same zeal and energy you have for drinking into your business, you’ll start making twice as much money in less than a year. And he did. Maybe three times as much.

In the end, he wasn’t the right one for me. We stayed friends for quite a while after we stopped seeing each other- for more than a year, we still talked on the phone and saw each other constantly. Until I told him we had to stop, in order to open ourselves up to meet other people. That didn’t go over very well, but he respected my wishes. Everything was quiet for a few months, except for the random text message or email. Then he met someone else, who didn’t appreciate our friendship.

I have a feeling they broke up. And that something else has started up again. Because over the last few months, I’ve had some odd late night hang-ups.

They usually come in around 1 or 2 in the morning.

So how do I feel about someone trying to quit drinking vs. trying to be a social drinker today?

If you’re drinking too much, you need to think about the reason why. Why are you so unhappy? So unfulfilled? Address it, whatever “it” is, and there, I think you’ll find your answer- and your reason to stop. Not in a support group. Not in a bottle. I think you find what you need to stop drinking within yourself.

And I think it’s important to be really, really honest with the people in your life about your drinking habits. Because lies beget more lies. Lie about one thing and you’ll soon be lying about other things, too. Brutal honesty is painful, but it’s the only way to go. It’s a start, anyway.

Absolutely no one in the ex’s family knew about his drinking. He was careful to hide it from them, too. He hid himself, his true self, from almost everyone. Maybe that’s not really that unusual but it (still) seems strange to me, because in my family, we’re really open about our drinking. I not only know who drinks, I know where they go to drink and how much they drink. I know who was told he could no longer drink in the house (he moved his beer into the garage) and I know who battled drinking for years and is now sober. I know who got DUIs. Who got sober and started drinking again.

We talk about it all openly and honestly, and for the most part, without judgment. Because one thing our family understands is that unless you really want to quit, you won’t. We just try to support each other and understand that we’re all doing the best we can. We all make mistakes. But no one can tell any of us to quit doing something we want to do. We can only do it on our own.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

the jerk

Everyone’s a jerk sometimes.

A reader emailed me a while back talking about his bad old days, when he didn’t always treat women with the same respect he has for them today. It’s probably a lot more complicated or much simpler than that one sentence but that gives you the gist. And I’ve received a lot of similar emails from male readers since then.

For some reason, me boo-hooing about the jerks that I run into seems to be making some of the male blog readers a little itchy under the collar; the blog posts hit a little too close to home. Apparently, this sort of topic speaks to some men very personally. Its one thing to treat a woman in a way that you know is a little shabby. Woo her for months and then stop speaking to her without explanation. Hang around until something better comes along, or until you get bored.

It’s another thing to read how really hurtful that can be to someone.

If it’s any comfort, I’ve been a jerk, too. I got a little weepy-drinky around friends one night and blurted out that I’d sometimes been kind of mean in high school. “So was everybody, Lisa,” my dear friends responded. “It was high school.” Whew. I was worried I was branded as the blonde bitch for life. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t pathological, I was just a run of the mill moody as hell teenager.

These days, having experienced a lot of life experience and personal growth, I’m more “classic moody.”

On a few occasions, when I liked someone a lot, I got shut down. Plainly, those men didn’t like me as much as I liked them. There’s someone else they’d rather spend their time with. The stars weren’t on my side. Dreams didn’t come true. Something just didn’t work out. It’s puzzling. And maybe I’ll never know what really happened. Maybe they were just jerks. I don’t know. But I can also tell you, when it’s someone who likes me a whole, whole lot and that like is not reciprocated equally on my end, I haven’t always been the nicest person, either. Refer to me not answering my phone for proof.

Before you boys engage in a full-on self-flagellation, remember: It takes two. Two people who consciously decide that they are going to spend their time together, and if one person is unhappy, feeling unloved or unfulfilled, it’s always their choice to leave. I’m sorry, but it really is that simple. And it works both ways.

I am fed up with people telling me they have to stay with so and so for some reason other than love. Please. I hate to tell you, if you’re unhappy, lightning flash, chances are your partner is not exactly on cloud 9, either. I don’t think its right to string someone along. But if you’re not making promises you don’t plan to keep, well. You probably haven’t done too much damage.

And people can behave differently with different people. I truly, truly believe that. You may cheat on one person (jerk) and be attracted enough to/in love with the next person to never risk fooling around with another man/woman again (not a jerk). I do really believe that. It all has to do with finding the right person for you.

The jerks have tested my faith in humankind, though, I will tell you that. My dad was just visiting and we enjoyed the last warm night on the porch together. “I always believe in the good in people,” he said to me. “Always. If I don’t see it at first, then I keep looking until I find it.”

Sound familiar?

I didn’t even know where I got that trait.

I told him that I think a lot of people are just jerks. And I don’t know if I believe in the innate goodness in everyone anymore.

But I’m trying. I have to. I choose to think a lot of the “jerks” that have come into my life are just extremely misguided people. A little lost, and trying to find their way. And I’m sorry for them, that they didn’t get the chance to really get to know me. That’s their loss.

That’s what really makes someone a jerk.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

mine do too

After reading my many lovelorn relationship blog posts, a reader sent me this video and asked me to post it on the blog. I love amy and I'm glad to do it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

slippery slopes Part I

Note- This one feels like it’s going to be pretty long, so I’m going to try something new today, and just share Part I:

I’ve written quite a bit about drinking here and elsewhere. Off the top of my head, topics have included: a sobering thought and a drunk texting blog (as in, it’s replaced drunk dialing). Oh, and I also detailed a night out with friends several months ago where I drank way too much and sent a verbally abusive email to a friend in the middle of the night. Charming, right? The blog was meant to be an apology of sorts to him. He was pretty good about it, but our friendship wasn’t really the same after that. Can you blame him?

I was reading a favorite blog today and the author wrote about his own struggles to try to quit drinking. Actually, he brought up a very salient point that was the crux of the piece: Should he try to quit altogether or just attempt to slow down, e.g., become a social drinker?

Salient, because a lot of people bemoan drinking as an evil and wicked thing, that should just be banned altogether. I don’t want to point fingers at any support groups, but members of afore-not-mentioned groups have very flatly told me there is no such thing as social drinking; e.g., you’re an alcoholic or you aren’t. I don’t think everyone who pops out of an AA meeting subscribes to that, but it is a popular theory.

Regular readers know that I’m the youngest of eight kids. Yes, we grew up Catholic and yes, my father’s side is Irish. Alcoholism plays a big role in our family. There’s nary a get together without big dramas, tears and recriminations. But I’ll talk more about my life with drinking some other time.

Today, I have another story.

I dated someone who was an alcoholic. Here’s how naïve I am: trying something new, I wanted to “really get to know each other” before we “got serious.” Try to “start off as friends for once.” To put it plainly, I wasn’t spending the night at his house for some time into the relationship. How was I naïve? We’d spend the day together, maybe go to dinner, whatever, and then I’d go back to my place. And he’d go to the bar. Every. Single. Night. Literally, I had no idea he was doing this until a month into the relationship. None whatsoever.

Sure, he was sending me texts at 1 or 2 in the morning telling me I’m crazy/beautiful. It didn’t ring any alarm bells. I just thought it was sweet. Romantic. In fact, I started to really look forward to them. I thought he was finishing up his work day. I never dreamed he’d been sitting at a heads down bar around the corner from his place for 3 solid hours. Drinking jager in rocks glasses. Not shot glasses. Rocks glasses.

So finally (I say finally, because seriously, it seemed like a long time for someone who used to jump into relationships with both feet), we “got serious.” The first night I stayed at his house, we went to the bar. “I feel like going out, spending time with you,” he sweetly said. A few nights of that and I told him I’d rather stay in. “Well,” he said thoughtfully. “I’m going. You can go home if you like.”

And so the line was drawn.

I could accompany him to the bar, and spend the night, or, I could go home alone. Nice guy, right? And before you tell me, you should have dumped his ass right then, Lisa. Well. Hell. By that time I’d invested several weeks into the relationship. And I knew I was falling in love with him. I decided to stick around to see if he would cycle out of it. I'd seen similar cycles within my own family; even within myself. I thought he could do it too.

He didn’t.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Nancy's Hangover-free Quick Sangria

A while ago, I posted Nancy's recipe for kickin summer sangria. I have an addendum to the recipe. When you don't feel like going to all of the effort, or when it's just Lisa coming over and not a party, Nancy makes a super-quick sangria that's yummy, too:

4 parts red wine
2 parts orange juice (comment from Nancy: "it's healthy, Lisa!")
lots and lots of crushed ice

I know some purists out there are saying, why mix anything with red? Ah, you have a point. I get headaches when I drink red wine so as much as I love a nice Cab, diluting it with something helps me feel a lot better the next day.

time is running out

We've all done this before: We miss out on opportunities and then overthink them. Did I do the right thing? Should I have? Could I have? Obviously, I do that quite a lot. Ha.

I know I can't sit around and wait for things to happen to me. It just doesn't work that way. And lately, I’ve decided that I would rather take a risk than wonder "what if?" for the next ten years.

While researching a project I found a religious website that was totally off the mark, but still made me think. The pastor's list of lies that we tell ourselves had everything to do with religious conversion- of course- but they seemed applicable to everyday life, too:

I don't have time. I can't do the things that I really want to do, because there just isn't enough time in the day/I'm too busy/I have to work. I have a BIG problem with this one, and a hard time leaving my notebook to go take a walk, swim or go to yoga. Because you know. If I left for an hour the entire work ethic would break down. Silly. You can take time to do things that make you feel good and look good without screwing up your deadlines.

I have plenty of time. I'll get to what I need to do…later. Wait too long to accomplish your life goals, and time will run out. The best thing you can do for you is to jump in with both feet. It may not work out. It may be the best thing that ever happened to you. But you'll never know unless you take the plunge. And if you wait too long, that day-to-day rut becomes a bad habit that just gets harder and harder to break.

No one will ever know. I can break laws, forego moral responsibility and generally do whatever I feel like doing, when no one is watching. Not good for you, not good for your karma. What goes around, comes around, and it will all come back on you somehow, some way.

I'm too young. I don't need to worry about retirement, saving money or paying off my debt. The years, oh, the years pass by like a blink- and if you're not prepared, you may end up working until you're 90- and then some.

I'm too old. Nah. You're never too old to do the things you really want to do. Do what makes you happy, and makes those around you happy, while you're young- at any age- and still have all of your physical and mental capabilities. My parents are struggling with the physical aspect of it now, as they enter their 70's. But man, all the way through their 60's they had a hell of a time traveling the world and partying with friends and family. And they'll keep doing as much as they can, for as long as they can. And they still seem very young to me.

I went to a psychic a while ago. I still haven't written about it, that will take some time, but it was pretty amazing. Everything she told me has come to fruition, except something she told me about one relationship. Something she told me that really hit home: if you don't deal with all of your demons, disagreements with other people and unresolved feelings for another in this life… You'll be dealing with it all over again in the next life, too. Ouch. Who needs it? I think the lesson here is pretty simple: let the bad stuff go, so you can move on. And grab the good stuff while we still have a chance, too.

After all. What have you got to lose? Pride? Dignity? Trust me. They're both overrated.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Oh, Ray!

One of the things I like best about Steve Martin is his innate ability to get inside of a woman’s head. That’s difficult for any male writer to do. But Martin does it really well in all of his movies. I finally saw Shopgirl recently and I liked it a lot. The thing that stayed with me, and made me laugh from the start, was the Ray Porter vs. Jeremy war that Mirabelle battles.

Like many women, I have often had trouble deciding between a Ray and a Jeremy. My friend Jeff says this is because I need a Renaissance man, one who has as many interests (read: sides to his personality) as I do. Loves and respects nature. Is ambitious. Yet isn’t overcome with materialism. Smart. Creative. Self assured. Laid back. The list goes on and on. And I have yet to meet anyone who encompasses all these things.

I recently met two very different men. One is clearly a party boy and possibly a bit of a flake, laid back and with a wicked sense of humor. Nice. A Jeremy.

The other man owns a business that’s both global and philanthropic. Extremely intelligent. Cultivated. A Ray.

Jeremy has a wild beard and long shaggy hair. Closely resembling Richie from The Royal Tenenbaums, he enjoys the occasional beer (daily). Funny.

Ray is impassioned about volunteer work, veganism, art, world travel and Taoism. Interesting.

They both seem to have an abundance of charisma. And they both seem pretty harmless.

It’s funny. My whole life I have been going back and forth trying to decide what I want and in the space of a day, I find both a Jeremy and a Ray.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone who embodies the traits of both of them.

I just want to find someone that fits me.

You know. Like a glove.

Friday, October 5, 2007

once more, with feeling

Ack, another fødselsdag is rapidly approaching, and as usual, I need to overanalyze everything and of course, take stock. Here goes:

I don’t need to go back and read the blog to know that lately, I’ve been writing about a lot of sad things. Just for the record: I’m not sad. I’ve been put in the unfortunate position of dealing with a lot of sadness lately, but I’m fine.

I write about things so I can let them go. And I put them on the blog hoping that someone else will see them and think, I’m not alone. Everybody has bad days… weeks… months, or seasons. If I’ve sounded preachy, or even smarmy, that was unintentional. It’s definitely been a year of soul-searching for your faithful blogger. It's also been a year of recognizing and acknowledging inspiration.

For a while I got on a kick where I started telling people that I care about, the people that inspire me, that I was grateful to have them in my life. “I’m grateful for you, grateful for our friendship.” It tended to creep people out. I don’t know why. Everyone should be used to my inappropriate and ill-timed emotional outbursts by now. And this is hardly the oddest thing I’ve ever said. But start talking about how grateful you are to have someone in your life and it can scare the less-hearty ones away. I have no regrets for expressing myself openly and honestly in every situation I’ve faced this year.

I derive inspiration from many other writers and bloggers. Reading their books and blogs reminds me, there are other people who feel things very strongly. True, we’re probably all a little screwed up. But in a good way. And something about their writing makes me think, they’re gonna be ok. Maybe I’ll be ok, too.

I derive inspiration from my mother. Strong and beautiful, she constantly amazes me. Watching her bravely struggle with physical therapy has made my own therapy easier to handle.

I derive inspiration from my friends. Talented, funny and smart; I’m grateful for their friendship. Oops. There I go again. How about, I’m grateful for their honesty and for honestly caring about me. Happy I made many new friends this year and reconnected with many old friends too. And I'm sorry about the friends I lost, but I have a good sense of closure on that now; I understand that they need to do what they need to do to get by.

I don't have all the answers.

I write about stuff because, well. That's just what I've always done. But it doesn't put me any closer to an answer. I don't pretend that I have all the answers. I don't even try to pretend that I have any of the answers.

But sometimes, on a good night, I feel like I'm a little closer to understanding. I'm not quite there… But I have a pretty good idea of what's going on. I can work out a lot of things on my own, when I write. What I like best is when you read me, and you tell me you know exactly how I feel.

You knew a girl just like that in school. You were bullied too. It took you some time to find your real soulmate. It's that sense of community, of writers and readers, that makes blogging so much fun.

And supporting each other. That's important too. Raising people up, instead of trying to put them down. Accepting your wrath when I write something you disagree with; accepting your praise with an I'm Not Worthy shrug and a little smile. Your comments here and elsewhere have meant more to me than you'll ever know.

Looking for answers. Writing was my salvation in school and it's still my passion today. In fact, it's even my career. I'll keep writing, and I hope you'll keep reading. And I think, after all this time, that I may be getting closer to an answer.

At least, I'd like to think so.

I have to call my mom this weekend to say thank you for bringing me into this world. Moms love that kind of thing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

the slut

The small town high school I attended was as cliquey as they come. The cliques included the jocks, the brains, the weirdos, the heads, and of course, the sluts. I wasn’t enough of any of the categories to place myself in one. I hung equally with the jocks, the brains and the weirdos (and yes, the heads), deliberately distancing myself from the cliquers, who desperately wanted me to make a choice.

Classified only as “the New Girl,” kids either loved me or hated me, depending upon how you looked at it. Unhappy about the move, I was pretty unpleasant to everyone and in my (few) moments of self-reflection could hardly blame them for acknowledging my disdain. Oddly, it only served to make me more popular. Much as I disdained that title, too.

Katie was a slut. She slept with different boys but didn’t have the good looks, the background or the brains to allow her to fall into one of the more prestigious groups at school. I didn’t know what motivated her to behave in the way she did. I was flummoxed by the sluts. Why put yourself into a position of ridicule? Of shame?

Katie “dated” my friend Jack. In as much as she dated anyone, meaning she slept with him for a few weeks and apparently didn’t sleep with anyone else for the whole month of October, when they were “going” together. It didn’t last. Jack came to us at the end of the month to tell us why they had, rather unceremoniously, broken up. She gave him a STD. Oh God, we all ruminated, how could she do that to sweet Jack? What a terrible, terrible thing to happen to him.

It never occurred to us to ask each other, could Jack have given her the disease? We just assumed, since he was our friend, and Katie was a slut, that it must have somehow emanated from her… Like the Virgin Mary, she too must have been the victim of spontaneous creation: the disease started with her and only her.

I won’t tell you what the STD was. I will tell you the jocks “clapped” every time she walked into a room. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t like her so I didn’t really care. And I was amazed that she always walked into every room with her head held high. She faced down that most brutal of human creatures, the really nasty, popular high school kids. She did it every day, without calling in sick, skipping class or switching schools (all preferable, to this blogger’s way of thinking). She just did her thing, like she always had, and rode out the gossip with aplomb.

I didn’t clap, but I wasn’t nice to her, either. That’s why I was surprised when one day, having missed the bus (an almost every day occurrence since they left approximately 2 minutes after the last bell rang), Katie stopped her little pick-up truck and insisted that I get inside. It was raining, she was in the middle of the street, and I didn’t see any way to get out of it. I said no, no thank you, a couple of times, and she just looked at me, frustrated and said, Lisa… just get in. So I did.

She drove me the few miles to my friend’s house, chatting about this and that along the way. She was peeling from going naked in the tanning bed. She needed to get the brakes fixed on the truck. I responded politely, gripping the door handle, staring out the window, and praying we’d get to Evalie Drive as quickly as possible.

And then she said it out loud, surprising me, and, I think, surprising herself. “I know what everyone says about me. I know you and your friends think I’m a slut.” Umm. I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I just sat there, dumbfounded, still staring out the window. “I know what you think, Lisa. But you’re wrong.” Wrong? I looked at her heavily make-up’d face and tight jeans. Hardly.

“I didn’t do what Jack is saying. He gave it to me. But he’s popular, and I’m not. So everyone thinks what he’s saying is true.”

“Um. But he didn’t have it before,” I said, thinking, shut up, Lisa. I didn’t want any part of the conversation that was unfolding.

“He had it. He didn’t know he had it until I got checked out, found out I had it and told him, so he could get treated. I thought I was doing him a favor,” she said, frowning hard at the windshield. “I really liked him. And I thought he would want to know.”

“I hate how everyone here is so fake,” she continued, echoing the same thought I’d had daily since moving into town. “But I thought you were different, Lisa.” I felt the same sense of shame that I felt (often, in those days) when I let down my mom.

I didn’t know what to say. She dropped me off and I thanked her for the ride. I didn’t say anything to my friend except that I’d hitched a ride to her house, which she accepted without question.

The following Monday we stood at our lockers, situated in a key corner of our high school hallway. Key, because the parking lot for the lucky few with licenses and the drop-off hub for the school buses was right outside the door. So, virtually everyone had to walk by us to get to where they were going.

Just before last bell, Katie jogged by on her way to class. She hurried along, head down, hands deep in the pockets of her too-tight denim jacket. Self-consciously ignoring the stares that would quickly turn to taunts, if she risked making eye contact with anyone.

“Hey Katie,” I called. My friends stood there, open-mouthed, trying to accept this odd turn of events. And Katie stared, then cocked her head at me and grinned.

“Hey Katie…. Wait up.”

And slowly, tossing my hair, I walked her to class.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vets For Freedom Town Hall Meeting

Vets for Freedom is hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the war in Iraq on October 16 at 7:30 pm at the Walton, Kentucky National Guard.

Vets for Freedom is a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They strive to educate the public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts by applying first-hand knowledge to issues of American strategy and tactics- namely, "the surge" in Iraq. They support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood behind our great generation of American warriors on the battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before short-term partisan political gain. Vets for Freedom is the leading voice representing troops and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Walton Kentucky National Guard is located at 183 Beaver Rd, Walton, KY (859) 485-7689

Note: This was yet another great tip passed along by a reader. I can’t promise it will get posted, but feel free to send me your Northern Kentucky event and I’ll see what I can do.