Friday, March 28, 2008

the pseudo-intellectual

The other night I was out with friends and a man sat down with us and started talking. A financial consultant, he also dabbles in other business interests and had a lot of stories to tell and opinions to share. Within five minutes, I knew where he went to college (not that I had asked, or was particularly interested). And he was obviously very smart. Maybe a little too smart.

We had a lively conversation and an interesting exchange of ideas. And yet… I was a bit put off by an overuse of what my friend Jack calls “ten cent words.” And the liberal sprinkling of foreign phrases that he added into the conversation at every opportunity. Clearly, he was trying to make an impression. And he did. I’m just not so sure it was the impression he wanted to make.

Pseudo-intellectuals. During an election year, they crawl out of the woodwork.

The funny thing is that I know I’m probably fairly pretentious, too. Hell, so are most of my friends. But we know it and we can laugh at ourselves when we get a little too serious or highbrow. We definitely don’t have to impress each other by throwing our brain-weight around. The pseudo-intellectuals I’m speaking of here don’t consider themselves “pseudo.” They just think they are smart, period. And they relish any opportunity to spread it around.

Of the smartest people I know, two stand out- and neither went to college. One is actually a high school drop-out. Both of them are well-traveled. Both of them are current on political and socioeconomic events and news. One, a man, has read every book ever written, practically. Think of a range that includes the Bronte sisters and Robert Reich. The other, a woman, will take every opportunity she can to make the case for her candidate of choice, until she’s blue in the face- and then some. They are deeply passionate, deeply knowledgeable people. And when we get into any sort of interesting conversation that’s beyond the legal limits, I hang on their every word.

Not only am I not impressed by someone who tries to impress me with their credentials- however shiny they may be- I feel like pulling out my hair when I find myself stuck in an endless conversation with a pseudo-intellectual. I also feel somewhat offended by people who assume that a college degree is a prerequisite for intelligence. Or that a high-paying career is the only measure of success.

When I think of the most successful people I know, they don’t necessarily have those signs of material wealth that we so often mistake for success. And as a side note, most of the people I know who live in big houses and drive big cars also have a great deal of big debt.

No, the people I think of as the most successful probably don’t even think of themselves as successes. One of my friends went through a painful divorce and lives in a little old house that’s constantly in the middle of a remodeling job. But he also has a career that he enjoys and daughter who seems to grow more beautiful by the minute. He owns his home in a city where no can afford to buy, probably in part because he got there before the last boom. He takes trips hither and yon as the mood strikes him. And he’s just happy. What more he could he want? That’s success, as far as I know.

I know that he has everything that I want. Well, aside from that painful divorce. And isn’t that the greatest measure of success? Success by comparison, I guess you’d call it. And I’m just trying to be funny, literal-minded readers. No, he’d no more call himself successful because I think he’s a success than any of you would. I suppose some people consider themselves successful based on the way that others view them, but those people don’t seem to exist in my world.

I’m reading over this last paragraph and I’m waxing far too intellectually.

Or at least I’m doing a good job of faking it. ~

Have an excellent weekend, guys.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

no regrets

I’ve never believed in regrets. My thinking has always been, whatever it was that I did, I wanted to do it at the time. For better or worse, I made a decision that I thought was the right one, and I can’t impact that choice today.

And yet … There are a few things that I probably could have handled differently. Situations that could have been executed with a little more grace. Loved ones and liked ones that I could have treated more kindly. It makes me feel worn down just thinking about it. Maybe there are some things that we cannot leave behind, no matter how hard we try.

I believe that everyone has done something that’s not in their character just because they wanted the experience.

But have you ever done so many somethings that you start to question what your character has become?

I had an eye-opening discussion about regrets with a couple of my heart friends recently. Because yes, anywhere we go, and especially anytime we are at the Pub, I will open up a discussion to get ideas for the blog. It’s irresistible, really. Because who else will give me so much brutal honesty and give my many questions such thoughtful consideration?

Between the three of us, two of us felt the same about regrets. And the third said she had regrets, but that they were just a part of who she was at that time in her life. Que sera, sera. A point which we then argued about for the better part of an hour: You have regrets but they were just a part of who you were at the time? Isn’t that the same as having no regrets at all?

Maybe we were just splitting hairs… and sloshing beers. Either way, I think that dealing with regrets has to do with forgiveness and self acceptance. Learning from your mistakes, and trying to be a better person. Not looking in the rear view mirror so often that you forget to look at what’s in front of you. It’s my own brand of twelve-stepping.

And so far, it seems to be working.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

the ghost

My place is haunted. No big surprise, since the building is more than 100 years old.

When I first started hearing the ghost, I would lie awake in bed, listening to it walk down the hall. Opening doors and then clicking them shut. Sometimes I would come home and things would be out of order. Not ransacked. Just slightly moved around, as though someone had been sifting through my life.

I told my boyfriend. He would often sit up and stare wide-eyed at the creeping sounds in the middle of the night. Terrified. After a while he refused to stay over.

I told the ancient caretaker about the ghost. "That's jist a hant,” he explained. “He won't hurt you none. He lived here a long time ago. Died here too.”

Swell. So what does he want with me?

“He was an artist,” the caretaker explained. “I didn't want to tell you, because I didn't want to scare you none. He liked goin’ to the theater and the museums jist like you do. He won’t hurt you none. He’s jist reel innerested in you, that’s all. He was a good man. And he won’t hurt you.”

A few days later I heard the steps in the hallway. Heard the door open and firmly click shut. And I thought, welcome. You are welcome here. And the noises stopped. And haven’t been back since.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade Photos

We went to the St. Patrick's Day parade in Cincinnati yesterday. I am half Irish so I look forward to the parade every year- and it was a great day for a parade. The St. Patrick's Day Parade is a wonderful way to learn a lot more about Cincinnati’s Irish culture- it’s a thriving, joyous community. There were several hundred entrants in the parade, and thousands of people walked or rode to show their Irish pride. Among the groups were our favorite Irish pubs (Hap's), many, many Irish clans and, of course, plenty of politicians out stumping for the election year.

We arrived late, parked a couple of blocks away and walked right up to the sawhorses. When it got windy, we just ambled over to Rockin’ Robin's for some Guinness... and later wrapped up the long day at Molly Malone's in Covington. It was really fun, and I managed to snap a lot of photos.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died, so I shot these photos of the St. Patrick's Day Parade with my Crackberry. They aren't magazine quality and I didn't crop them, just shot them.

But I do love this photo of the Irish dancers in the air. Aren't they sweet?

three strikes

I feel a great deal of disdain for people who let me down. Lie to me. Go behind my back and try to start trouble for me. It’s happened on occasion. Not often. But when it has happened, depending upon my perceived severity of the situation, sometimes, I’ve cut the cord.

Cutting people out of your life. It isn’t easy to do. And, I still don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. But there are some transgressions that are so hurtful that I just know that I don’t want that person in my life anymore. Period.

Once, a long time ago, a very nasty rumor was started about me. A rumor that quickly spiraled out of control in our too-small town and reached my then-boyfriend before it reached me. Thankfully, we had an honest and trusting relationship. He knew that I would never do anything like I was purported to have done, and we instead puzzled at great length about the rumor and where it started.

We wrongly concluded that another party (also implicated in the rumor) had made it up and started spreading it around. The resulting confrontation would have been comical if it wasn’t so sad- my boyfriend was my height, maybe shorter, and a pacifist; the other guy, a dead ringer for an oversized Ted Nugent and a wacked-out martial arts enthusiast, nunchucks included.

My guy confronted the other guy, who was so honestly bewildered and upset; we couldn’t help but believe that he’d had no part in the fabrication. He was married and the story, which had reached his wife, brought up some old, hurt feelings about a real infidelity in the past. It was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.

An unfortunate situation that became even more preposterous when we discovered the culprit. The person who started the rumor was none other than a friend. A very, very close friend of mine. Who had no reason to believe that I had done anything of the sort and in fact, made it up out of thin air just to cause trouble for me. I stopped speaking to her immediately after one final confrontation.

My parents, friendly folk, liked her a lot and often asked about her. Even years later, my dad would bring up her name. I made up a story. Because the rumor was so ugly, it was just too embarrassing to tell my father. Instead, I told him that we had just fallen out of touch. It was easier, but it left that window open for him to ask about the “friend” from time to time, and to lecture me again and again over the years about just how important my old friends are, throughout my life.

I know that. And I don’t like the idea of cutting someone out of my life. It’s hard to do. But as difficult as it was, I thought- and I still believe- that it was the right choice for me.

But sometimes, I still question my actions. I remember the fun I had with my old friend. The many experiences, confidences and good times we shared. I know she’s fallen on hard times since our friendship ended. Would she have kept her head above water if we still spoke on the phone every day? If I still were offering her my unconditional love and support? I don’t know. And it makes me feel sad. Like a bad person, who is uncaring or judgmental. And then I remember the rumor, and all of the trouble it started. Why I had to let my friend go.

And suddenly, it doesn’t feel so wrong anymore.

Friday, March 14, 2008

the rules

I couldn’t believe I’d just heard what I thought I heard, so I asked her to repeat the phrase. Which she did. Firmly.

“No overnight guests.” Yup, she really said it. And it’s just one of the many rules for living in a vintage apartment building I was scoping in downtown Portland, Oregon.

As I’ve searched the apartments section of Portland craigslist, I’ve seen all kinds of crazy rental ads with really bizarre rules. Either the people who rent out properties in Portland are incredibly obsessive or they’ve had a lot of problems in the past with renters. Either way, finding a place where I can just do my own thing in peace seems like it might be a tall order.

Seeing a laundry list of do’s and don’ts in a rental ad is enough to tell me, this is probably not a person I want to rent from. In fact, the ads imply that nosy people will be looking over your shoulder all the time. Portland property management is fleshing out to be the Big Brother of the apartment world. A frightening prospect.

Add to that my general rules for what I want (in one of several specific city districts, accessible for a visitor who can’t do stairs, safe, has a very high walking score) and finding an apartment in Portland is becoming a real challenge. I’ll get there eventually. And maybe I’ll take my brother’s advice and just move to any old place until I find where I really want to live. That’s sounding more and more like a very realistic plan.

Some other Portland apartment rules that might pose a problem for me:

“Mature residents only.” Maybe I could pretend not to have a blog and wear a skirt when I visit the property managers. And try not to open my mouth.

“No cats.” That wasn’t the problem. It was the next sentence: “We already have several.”

Or how about “some dogs ok upon landlord review.” So I’m to do what with a dog if they don’t approve of him? After his “review?” What does a dog review consist of, anyway? Does he have to talk about his accomplishments over the last year? Sweet-talk her into a raise of one extra milk bone each week?

No overnight guests.

I explained that my parents live on the coast and will want to visit once in a while. “That’s fine. We’ll recognize them.”

I had a fleeting thought that I should tell her, it might just be my “daddy” visiting for one night at a time, and he usually looks like he’s around 30 or 40 years old, and between 5’8 and 6’ tall depending upon his shoes, but instead I just shut up. And hung up.

And went back to looking at the ads.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the green-eyed monster

There have only been a few times in my life when I truly felt jealousy. And I’ll just be honest: It was sexual jealousy, that ugliest of all emotions. And I can count the incidents on one hand:

The pretty young wife of a friend who always laid her hand on my man’s hand and then let it linger-

The sexy redhead who managed to "accidentally" lean in a little too closely to any (and all) of my boyfriends-

The stringy blonde with the bland Midwestern good looks and the tightly permed hair who took what should have been mine.

It’s a sad state of affairs. But over the years, I’ve been no more impervious to jealousy than anyone else. In fact, I’ve done some crazy things, propelled by that green-eyed monster.

When it comes to jealousy, none of us is really immune. I know, intellectually speaking, that it’s an emotion brought on by insecurity. But it doesn’t help, knowing that information when some bored housewife is making herself available all over my guy. It doesn’t make me feel charitable, or sad for her own, hopeless marriage.

Mostly, it just makes me mad.

Unfortunately, and this is the worst part of jealousy, most of the time it’s not something that I’ve been able to express to the skank in question. Why should I give her the satisfaction? Give satisfaction… to that woman who knows exactly what she is doing and how it makes me feel?

No. It was expressed in private, in dark tones, to the person I loved. In the car on the way home. In the living room after everyone left. Which is stupid. Because in the women’s magazines, showing your anger- a forthright display of that territorialism- is what makes guys run for the door, right?

And yet, I remember nights when I felt impassioned and filled with anger and that passion swept us through until the morning.

Perhaps, despite what the Cosmos and the rest of the Beauty Bibles say, there’s something to be said for staking your claim.

And making it stick.

Monday, March 10, 2008

the champ

I’ve written before about the hunter-gatherers who reside in Montana. Chances are, if you live in the greater Kalispell, Montana area, you’re related to me. Not just because it’s a small town (less than 20,000). It’s also because the family that’s related to me, my cousins, is so big. They have 11 kids in their family! Add to that number a bunch of in-laws, kids and the rest of it, and guess what? When I roll into Kalispell every few years or so, no one is a stranger. It’s nice.

Now, on to the press release that’s being sent far and wide to praise a talented young member of my extended family. You kind of have to read it to believe it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Get out of the house, fools

Yes, it’s snowy and cold and everything else. But at some point, you have to get out or go stir crazy. There’s plenty going on around town(s) this week to get you up and out the door:

On Monday, the Pomegranates play the Southgate House ballroom. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. with a $10 cover. Southgate House is located at 24 E 3rd St. Newport.

The lovely Jordana is singing at City Cellars at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. No cover. City Cellars is located at 908 Race Street, downtown Cincinnati. Much later (at 10 p.m.) the Rumpke Mountain Boys will swing into Stanley’s on Stanley Avenue in Tusculum.

Bree Lehman profiles an artist on the second Wednesday of every month at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The Cincinnati Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive in Cincinnati.

More bluegrass, this time in the form of the Dan Tyminski Band at the Madison Theater on Thursday. Show starts 8 p.m. and tickets cost $25. The Madison Theater is located at 730 Madison Ave in Covington.

Friday night you can be the judge at the Cincinnati Director’s Competition. $10 gets you entrance into several 30 minute plays. If you like writing, watching these kinds of shows can really give you a lot of inspiration. Starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Performance Center, located at 3900 Eastern Ave.

Hey, Saturday night Jerry’s Little Band plays at Adis’ Place. Ah, memories. :) Adis’ Place is located at 7925 Beechmont Avenue in Cincinnati. Not sure about the cover charge but I can’t imagine that it’s more than a few bucks. BTW, Adis’ has shuffleboard.

Jessica Stern-Enzi plays Sunday at the Reserve Restaurant and Piano Lounge at Newport on the Levee from 5-9 p.m. Mary Ellen Tanner closes out the weekend on Sunday evening at Chez Nora beginning at 7 p.m. Chez Nora is located at 530 Main Street in Covington.

black and white

On a 10 hour drive back from SC last year, my friend Ann asked me a thoughtful question:

Whatever happened to letters?

The slip-clunk! of the mailbox opening and closing used to thrill me. Who knew what I might find?! A postcard from a far-off land? A note from a secret admirer? A letter from a beloved high school friend?

But for the longest time, I haven’t found anything exciting in my mail. Since I paid off my debt, the “good” credit card offers arrive daily. Those bastards wouldn’t touch me a year ago, but NOW they love me. Re-finance offers also abound, though this free spirit has never owned a home. Bills. Of course. They never let up.

Things pick up around Christmas, when I get an unending supply of form letters from old school "friends." Sometimes they even put a little note at the bottom just for me. Yawn. Those bitches couldn’t pay me to visit and listen to them drone on about their scrapbooks, but their “holiday letters” force me to be a captive audience.

I think my mom is the only one who writes to me anymore. She sends me articles she clipped from the newspaper about new writers getting published, ideas for my blogs, updates about people I went to school with and general items of interest. But her letters more or less stopped after the multiple surgeries she underwent last summer.

Ann and I decided on that drive that we’re going to start writing letters again. I have stacks of gorgeous vintage cards, outdated stamps that I can double up and use and so, so many things that I want to say to the people that I love. I want to say everything before I lose my chance.

I wrote this last August. And guess what?

I still haven’t picked up a pen.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Weekend Trips from Northern Kentucky: Springing into Spring

Weekend trips from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati won’t cost you any vacation days. Or much money, either. You could rent a house for a month in some of these places right now for the same price you'd pay for a week during the summer. Break up a long, cold winter with a quick trip out of town to refresh and rejuvenate.

No, it hasn’t warmed up just yet. But don’t let that stop you- there are plenty of lovely, romantic and fun weekend trips you can take with your lover or with friends in the cool weeks leading up to spring. What better way to catch up with someone- or to get to know someone new- than by spending a couple of hours in the car with them?

Weekend Trips from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati to Take this Spring

The summer breeze off the lake is a wonderful reason to visit Huron, Ohio in August. But the lonely, desolate feel of this lake town in the off-season makes it surprisingly appealing. Long walks on the shore of Lake Erie, late night cocktails at a family owned restaurant and lots of peace and quiet make Huron, Ohio a favorite driving trip from Northern Kentucky. Time to drive: Supposedly four hours but I’ve made it in a lot less time, driving on the back roads.

Louisville, Kentucky is a pretty, funky city with a vibrant music scene. It’s an easy weekend trip from Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati. If you go, you might as well visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. It’s centrally located and has everything from the world’s oldest baseball glove to, of course, batting cages. If baseball’s not your thing, then just enjoy the food- you’ll find plenty of recommendations on the Louisville Hot Bytes forum. Time to drive from Northern Kentucky: about an hour and a half.

Right up there with someday going to see the world’s biggest ball of twine is a twisted desire to visit Serpent Mound. This Adams County effigy mound is one of those strange wonders whose existence no one can quite agree upon. I’d like to stand there, drink from a beer in a brown paper bag, reflect for a while and maybe write a poem. And then go find a hotel with room service. The Serpent Mound museum is closed through March and open weekend days in April and May. Time to drive from Northern Kentucky: about an hour and a half.

There’s something about Ripley, Ohio that I really like a lot. It’s not far, but it feels so very different from the city. Even though I walk alongside the Ohio all the time in Covington, the river overwhelms you there. It seems more like a living being, somehow. The town is rich with history and they have a kick-ass flea market, a couple of excellent antique stores, some sweet-looking B&Bs and charming, charming Maysville, Kentucky is just over the bridge. I’ve only been there during the day but I’d like to stay a night or two and get to know more about the towns and the people there. Time to drive from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati to Ripley: about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Some of my favorite weekend trips from Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati for fall will also work well in spring.

So what do you recommend for a driving trip this spring? There are no right or wrong answers. We just ask that the trips be fairly close (less than a four-hour drive from Northern Kentucky / Cincinnati) and that they don't cost us an arm and a leg. Ideas about where to stay and what to do on your favorite weekend driving trip are also appreciated.

Friday, March 7, 2008

almost cut my hair

For a long time, I wore my hair long. Really long, well past the middle of my back. I loved that I got compliments from friends, coworkers and complete strangers in women’s restrooms. But more importantly, I loved how much it meant to my ex-boyfriend.

“Never, ever cut your hair,” he’d lovingly say, digging his hand into my scalp, twirling strands around his fingers. Visiting friends headed home after dinner and almost immediately I heard, “I can’t believe she did that to her hair. You’ll never cut your hair, right babe?”


So I stuck it out. For a long time, I wore barrettes, chip clips, ponytail holders and even braided my hair when it was just too much trouble to comb it and dry it before work. And even after we parted ways, I kept my hair long. I felt like Samson, worrying that if I lost my long hair, I’d lose all of my powers too.

A few years ago I didn’t like where my life was going. I knew, just knew that to reclaim my life I needed to make a lot of big changes. Big scary changes.

To mark the occasion, I decided to cut my hair. Because at some point, long hair is no longer fashionable… it’s just that same old style you’re hanging on to like everything else that drags you down. I cut my hair because Samson or not, I needed to change my energy.

Still, I started slow. I wanted to see if anything would change proportionate to the amount of hair that I let go. Nothing changed. And I still wear little barrettes and a flippy ponytail when the mood strikes me. If anything, people seemed to like my short hair more. For the most part.

I saw my ex not too long ago. He needed a ride from the airport so I picked him up. I could see his eyes nervously running along my hairline to my shoulders the whole time I was driving. He was distracted, cracking his knuckles and providing clipped answers to my questions about his trip. When I dropped him off, he finally said what I knew had been on his mind the whole time:

“You cut your hair.” Yes.

“You really… cut it all off.” Yup.

“So, do you… like it?”

Men always use hair to pull your head up or to push your head down.

Shop Bellevue! postponed, Covington's First Friday still on tonight

Due to the snow and concerns for everyone's safety, the March Shop Bellevue! scheduled for this evening will be postponed until Friday, March 14 from 6 pm to 9 pm. In addition, April's Shop Bellevue! is scheduled for Friday, April 4 from 6pm to 9 pm and will celebrate Spring on the Avenue.

Covington, apparently not bogged down with the same sort of safety concerns, ha, still hosts the Gallery Hop tonight. I received an email a couple of hours ago from the city that states that Covington's First Friday is definitely still on from 6 pm to 10 pm. With some drop-outs:

The Passionate Arts Center will not be participating in the Gallery Hop tonight, Friday, March 7 because of our winter storm.

The Northern Kentucky Community Art Gallery has canceled their gallery event for this evening due to the weather conditions.

It's a Snow Day at the Artisans' Enterprise Center (center will be closed).

Tonight's opening reception for Fragments by Robert Wallace at the Nordheim Gallery in Covington has been cancelled due to the weather.

Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 9th at 2 a.m. Set your clocks an hour ahead before you go to bed on Saturday.

Or you could just stay on the current time zone. Whatever works for you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Restaurant Week

Eating independently has never tasted so good. Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky independently-owned restaurants have banded together this week to offer a three course menu for $25.08.

Or if that seems a little pricey, check out some of the Northern Kentucky News blog’s favorite dive restaurants.

The Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Restaurant Week runs through March 9.


When something really bad happens, I crave the Every Day. I need a stiff shot of normalcy to muddle through. Charred steaks. Baked potato. Hands sifting through dirt. Water dripping from the hose. A little dog jumping in a kiddie pool. Anything to push it away. Sweat it out. It makes the bad things seem farther away, somehow.

I don’t want to accept what happened. I want to pretend like everything’s fine. And somehow. It helps. I can talk about being real but when it comes down to it, when I’m sad or lonely, I just want to pretend. Smile while the ring knocks against the stem of the wine glass. Easily chat about the heat with strangers. Dip my fingers in the Sangria and wet my lips, feigning an interest that I just don’t have. Tipping my head and pretending to listen. Acting like everything’s ok and everything will be alright again. Even though I know it won’t be, not really. Pretending. It helps.

I wrote the above at the end of last summer, when I returned home early, unexpectedly, from vacation to attend a funeral for a young friend. It was a difficult summer for me anyway, as faithful readers already know, and that just capped it off. I don’t know that I’ll ever write about any of it again. And I don’t think I can write about the funeral. It’s private, anyway.

But what do you do when someone else is grieving? Is there anything at all you can do to comfort a friend or family member who is going through a bad time?

I don’t let them apologize for being absent… and I just keep calling. Hoping one day they’ll pick up the phone. Even if I don’t have anything useful to say. I just want them to know that I’m around. But it makes you feel pretty helpless. Useless. I wish I could do something. Anything, to make them feel better.

Some time ago, a good friend lost her father. We went to lunch and she told me she was frustrated by all of the well-meaning people who kept telling her, it will get easier. When? she asked me, sadly. When will it ever get easier?

Well… It doesn’t get any easier, I told her truthfully. After a while, you just kinda get used to it. You see their car in the driveway and you understand, they aren’t inside, waiting for you to stop by. You hear the old message on the voicemail and it doesn’t hit you like a sucker punch. You just know they’re gone. You get used to the pain. It will always hurt, though. Always feel like a mistake.

Another friend from out of state was preparing to go to a funeral last month and expressed his wish to just stay home. You gotta go, I told him. Because I’ve been the person who goes to the funeral and I’ve been the person who doesn’t go to the funeral, and I can honestly say, going is a much better option. Even if the person who passed isn’t the one that you’re close to. Especially then, because really, when you go to a funeral you’re going to commiserate with the surviving family members.

A long time ago, when I was much younger, I skipped a funeral for someone that I liked and respected a lot. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. I was having a hard time accepting what had happened, and my mom told me to just stay home. To just think about it on my own. It was a mistake. I should have gone no matter how upset I was.

Because no matter how sad it makes you, as a friend or coworker, that family is feeling much worse. And in a small, small way, your presence might make them feel a little better.

At least that’s what we hope.

Now on a lighter, weirder note: Right up there with drive-through devotionals and church franchises is something that I discovered last summer: guest books attached to online obituaries. I'm not kidding. This is so you can leave a message for the grieving family about the person who passed. Some messages you might expect to find on an online obituary's guest book:

WTF? Why did you do it?
I'm NOT LOL- Because I miss you.
You'll always be my BFF!
And, of course: TTYL.

I really and truly think this is online connectivity gone bad... Gone too far... Gone beyond the grave?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Planning Calendar: 2008 Gravelrama

Someone just asked me about 2008 Gravelrama dates and since I was looking it up anyway, here you go:

The 38th annual Gravelrama will be held August 22-25, 2008 in Cleves, Ohio (otherwise known as the hottest four days of the year). If you’ve never been, the Gravelrama is an off-road 4x4 competition that has to be experienced to be believed, especially the uphill drags!

Hundreds of competitors from all over the country come into town annually to be a part of Gravelrama. The competition is produced by the IOK (Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky) Four Wheelers group. I’ve been many times and the event never disappoints.

The website details 2008 Gravelrama events and has tons of photos and videos, so you can get a better idea of what to expect if you plan to attend.

The annual Gravelrama is bad, dirty fun. Add it to your planning calendar and don’t miss out this year!

donate used prom dresses and formal gowns

Cinderella's Closet of Northern Kentucky is accepting donations of used prom dresses, formal gowns and accessories. The organization accepts donations of formal wear, money and more and then provides the items to girls in Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana that are in need of a fancy dress for a special occasion. Formal and prom dress donations are tax deductible.

For more information about Cinderella's Closet of Northern Kentucky, including information about donating prom dresses and volunteering, visit their website.

Cinderella's Closet accepts donations of formal gowns at Immanuel UMC of Lakeside Park, Goddard School in Ft. Mitchell, Fabulous Bridal in Covington and Salon Bella in Erlanger, Kentucky.

cast your vote

An election year is always an exciting time. In college, I was lucky enough to take an election class during an election year. It was a lot of fun. Poli Sci was one of my majors, and I get pretty excited when it’s getting close to the time when we get to go to the polls.

Maybe I’m getting too personal here. But as we watch the debates, round table discussions and morning and evening news, and the time to vote gets ever nearer and near, I have to ask you to cast your vote:

Who is your favorite news anchor?

A friend of mine was talking to me about her favorite candidate and she made a comment that took me completely by surprise. She told me that she “hates” Tim Russert. That seemed a little harsh. Meet the Press is on opposite Face the Nation and I rather like Bob Schieffer so I rarely watch the other show. But I’ve always thought Tim was ok.

We rely on our favorite news anchors to give us our daily dose of information. From Waco to space shuttle mishaps, from 9/11 to the current election year, our favorite news anchors have led us through good and bad, rarely showing emotion but evoking great response when they do, on occasion, break down. For better or worse, we need them to tell us what's new in the world. And like presidential candidates, the argument about whom we like- or hate- can often result in great disparities of opinion.

When I think of news anchors that I don’t like, a strident blowhard from Fox News comes to mind. Over the years, I’ve heard from my more conservative friends that Bill O’Reilly serves only to embarrass them, and more than one has told me that he “gives Republicans a bad name.” Same thing with local pundit Bill Cunningham. Though I don’t “hate” them. I just choose not to watch or listen to their shows.

Back in school, I worked for a time at a framing shop. One of my many myriad jobs of the period. Back in the workroom cutting out frames, the several men that I worked with only allowed one radio station to be turned on during lunch: WLW.

It’s really the only time I can remember listening to the radio where I felt like throwing something (and often did).

Growing up, my favorite news anchor was Charles Kuralt. Someone bought his On the Road VHS tapes for me years ago and I still love watching the show. Charles Osborne, Kuralt’s successor and posh wearer of bow ties, is my Sunday morning staple. Dapper (and high school dropout) Peter Jennings *sigh* was a trusted news anchor and is dearly missed. Today, I rely upon the impassioned and thoughtful Matt Frei to report the news on BBC World News America.

The polls are open: As we look back on this year of years, who will you vote for… for your favorite news anchor?

Monday, March 3, 2008

George Rickey... Works: Movie Explores Kinetic Sculpture in Motion

A native of South Bend, Indiana, artist George Rickey spent years painting and studying art before he became enamored with kinetic sculpture. The artist began to create systems of motion for his sculptures that responded to the slightest variation in air currents during the mid-twentieth century. George Rickey developed a number of large-scale kinetic sculptures for public commissions all over the world. In addition, he populated his own New York studio grounds with his sculptures.

A new movie, George Rickey… Works, explores the works of the artist and includes interviews with the sculptor. The documentary features music by Phil Keaggy, Dave Matthews and Steve Poltz, among others.

Check out the movie website and buy the DVD or view a trailer for George Rickey… Works online.

and thanks for the reader tip!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Local Blogger Featured in Cincy Magazine

There’s a really nice write-up of and founder Sean Fisher in this month’s Cincy magazine.

BuyCincy showcases locally owned stores and is an all-around great resource for shopping locally. Sean participated in the recent Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky bloggers' tour of the Gateway Quarter and I had the opportunity to talk with him and tell him how much I love his site.

If you haven’t checked out BuyCincy, stop by and take a look. It’s definitely worth visiting (again and again, it’s frequently updated) and if it’s not on your blogroll, it probably should be.