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On The Road

I’ve never been regarded as an athlete.

My youth is littered with a variety of physical forays – about seven years on the Harper’s Harpoons swim team, about as many years playing soccer in Cincinnati, a few years of horseback riding (I prefer an English saddle to western).

I did tennis camp as a kid, gymnastics for a couple years. I was even on the track and field team in high school (shot put and discus).

My parents gave me plenty of opportunities to find athleticism. And while swimming is probably my favorite sport, I was never considered the neighborhood’s next Janet Evans.

Some may mistake my lack of athletic prowess for laziness, but I would counter by saying it’s more a lack of discipline, which is an entirely different thing. As an eight-year-old soccer fullback, I was more interested in the clover and dandelions growing in the field than I was the action near the goal.

Distractions do well to pull my focus away from the task at hand – both in athletics and life’s other endeavors. It makes for an interesting challenge.

What can I say? I sometimes struggle with commitment. I know I am not alone in this challenge.

So when I started running in June, I timidly wondered when I’d hang up the shoes and focus my energies on yet another interest.

I waited six months to invest in decent running shoes, instead jogging in flimsy, well worn walking shoes I bought for a trip to Europe four years prior. I didn’t want to make a financial commitment to something I was unsure would take.

But I knew something had to give. I’d returned from a trip to India a month earlier that gave me pause and opportunity to evaluate my life. Significant changes needed to be made. My life’s health and happiness depended on it.


I analogized my body to a house. When you want to put a house on the market, you get it ready for potential buyers. You spruce it up. You make changes to boost its curb appeal. You do some staging.

I needed to get my body ready for market.

And while the running was a means to an end – I’ve lost over 30 pounds and counting – I had no idea how it would translate to other changes in my life.

The act of running has given me the gift of intentional meditation and thought. When I am on the road, I have time to ponder the challenges, tasks and opportunities facing my life.

It’s the one time I have zero distraction, and that is worth all the money in the world.

And running has offered me some amazing physical challenges. In June, the thought of running for five minutes straight seemed like a daunting task.

Last weekend I proved to myself that I could run for more than two and a half hours straight.

I wept as I neared the finish line. My thoughts trailed off to the past seven months and the self doubt I harbored, the discipline I’d demonstrated, and the physical challenge I overcame.

I can do anything my heart and soul desire.

A week after my first half marathon, I’m thinking about the next two races on my list. I’m running a half marathon in Lexington at the end of March, and I also intend on running Cincinnati’s Flying Pig half marathon.

Beyond that, I imagine there will be plenty more challenges. I’m already mulling a trip to China in May 2013 to run a half marathon on the Great Wall.

Anything’s possible, right?

You bet.


Pret-a-porter isn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds.

Foreign words make the phrase sound luxurious, but Francophiles and ace students in Madame Hodge’s French II class at Daniel Hand High School know it means ready-to-wear. As in Off The Rack.

As in, clothing for a cast of thousands.

The really fancy schmancy side of fashion involves clothing that is cut to order. Bespoke. As if it had a label inside with your name embroidered in gilded thread.

Bespoke, the word, hearkens back to the 1700s, when tailors made clothing for wealthy people with fabric that was spoken for because it was already on hand.

These days, bespoke clothing is custom made, meaning it doesn’t follow a pattern that is cut to fit a person’s measurements. All tailored clothing is not bespoke, but all bespoke clothing is tailored.

Got it?

Bespoke clothing is exactly what you get when you meet with Lindsey Lusignolo.

Last month, I told you about the ball gown Lindsey is designing for me for the Junior League of Cincinnati’s CinSation fundraiser.

The process started in November. Lindsey and I met to talk about concepts and colors. The theme for the gala is the 007-flavored “Shaken, Not Stirred,” and considering I’ve lost over 30 pounds, I decided I’d rely on Lindsey’s talents to make me one of the hottest Bond Girls ever.

In early December, Lindsey showed me sketches with different dress features that I could select for my custom gown.

We followed up right after Christmas to go over the initial muslin designs.

It looks a bit like a fancy toga, but the fabric is a great way of visualizing the design before Lusignolo and her team begin stitching silk.

The Over-the-Rhine fashion designer and I decided on a few points: the dress would be a long gown to emphasize the glamour and drama of James Bond and Hollywood.

And the dress would emphasize my dramatic and curvaceous cleavage (ed note: I think I actually said, “I want to highlight my rack. I have a great rack.” No need for modesty, eh?)

We’ve decided on a few other eye-catching features that will make this gown fit for Ursula Andress.

Now, all I need to find is a hot BRG-colored two-seater.

To Whom It May Concern

I am sorry if the words or letters in this note to you are a bit jumbled, I am trying to type this missive on a sticky keyboard – a keyboard that is sticky only after I spewed the contents of my nonfat, vanilla latte.

I am not in the habit of spewing, but it was a Pavlovian reaction of which I could not help, for it was inspired by one of the articles in your February issue.

Upon reading said piece, it’s apparent your writers and editorial staff are in the habit of spewing, and that is an utter shame.

A. A. Gill’s Roll Over, Charles Darwin! rag is a complete disrespect to the art and ethics of journalism, if for no other reason than the writer’s first sentence.

“It’s not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about.”

Really. You don’t say…

It was a statement that impeded my ability to press on to the writer’s review of the Creation Museum (which is completely disregarded and ignored by a good portion of the population in Cincinnati).

But you know what? You’re right.

We don’t have a single thing to brag about. This coming weekend, hundreds of people will converge on Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center (b.t.w., the nation’s first ever structure designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid) for an opening of renowned street artist Shepard Fairey’s first museum retrospective. Surely you’ve heard of him, right? Does this refresh your memory?

(P.S. Since you all clearly don’t research what you read and/or write, Shepard Fairey is not the gentleman pictured in the piece. That is President Barack Obama. Fairey is the genius who created this instantly recognizable work).

I’ll be at Friday night’s opening and hope to meet Fairey personally, so I don’t really have time to dig up something and appropriately brag to you about Cincinnati. But I’ll be happy to share with you what Fairey discovers about the Queen City when he installs a variety of semi-permanent murals around our city this week and in May.

Regarding food, you’re right again. We don’t really have a damn thing to brag about. Yes, our best acclaimed restaurant closed its doors a few years ago (as the nation’s longest running five-star restaurant at 41 years), but we still have other restaurants to rival some of the nation’s finest dining rooms. Case in point: I ate at Boca, arguably Cincinnati’s best restaurant, just days before dining at Chez Panisse in San Francisco. Again, since you all don’t have a solid perspective or reference on things, I should point out that Chez Panisse is Alice Waters’ restaurant and regarded as one of the best restaurants on the West Coast.

There. That’s probably someplace you’ve heard of. The West Coast. I know it’s hard keeping the rest of Flyover Country straight.


On both evenings, my dining partner and I shared sentiments leading to this conclusion: Boca is miles better than Chez Panisse. And yes, while we are both from the sticks of Cincinnati, I guess it is good perspective for me to offer that my dining partner and I have dined around the globe – in highfalutin’ places like Paris and London and Amsterdam and Rome and you. name. it.

So, even though we have lots of worldly experience, I guess it doesn’t give us the right or opportunity to brag about Cincinnati. And you’re right – we sure as hell wouldn’t be able to find a single thing to brag about close to home.

One final thing that I guess Cincinnati has no right to brag about or celebrate:

The good people of Greater Cincinnati have created a long lasting tradition of charitable giving, and collectively they’re some of the most generous donors in the nation. I guess I should tell you that I work for a major (read: $63 million in LOCAL contributions annually) non-profit organization. Ours is an organization that has sister offices in cities large and small across the country. We are proud to say that, while Cincinnati ranks 32 in media market size, our metro ranks fourth in the nation for per capita charitable giving.

Fourth in the nation. How ’bout them apples?

But you’re right. Millions (and I mean millions) in charitable giving is really, uh, what did your article say?

Oh, yes. “Meager pickings.”

We don’t have a goddam thing to brag about, indeed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you enjoyed my spewing as much as I enjoyed yours.

Next time A. A. wants to visit Cincinnati, have him hit me up. I think we could find a few great places to show off. Hell, the New York Times had a great visit here last summer.

Local Local Local

“Ya can’t out network the networks, so we’re gonna be the best and only source for local.”

A mantra spouted by one of my news directors in Lexington, I always respected the ideology. Local news outlets will never cover national news the way the big guys can, so it’s best they stick to fleshing out the local angles.

The same could be said for Cincinnati’s dining scene.

Gone are the days when businessmen shelled out hundreds to entertain clients and couples saved up to spend a night on a town for an anniversary or other happy occasion.

These days, people dine out often, and typically at more affordable venues. Enter Cincinnati’s latest dining establishment – Local 127.

A lot has been said about the 4th Street restaurant, some of it has prompted passionate discussion, other articles detail executive chef Steven Geddes’ extensive career as a chef and master sommelier, and first impressions of the restaurant.

In the interest of avoiding some of the politicking that happens in regards to Cincinnati’s dining industry, I’m going to refrain from comparing Local 127 as it relates to Pigall’s, Jean Robert de Cavel and other historic dynamics.

Yes, we loved Pigall’s. Yes, we love JRdC. No, we don’t like some of the stories we’ve heard about players in the Jean Robert/Relish Restaurant Group.

As fierce a loyalist as I am, I’m trying to change my philosophy about some of Cincinnati’s restaurants.

I liken the scenario to when a favorite co-worker is dismissed by management – the replacement hire doesn’t deserve to be punished for the sins (or poor judgment/ill behavior/negativity) of the one calling the shots.

Local 127 deserves a fair shake.

We dashed inside amid a spectacular, torrential downpour Saturday night, longing for a few bites to eat and a couple cocktails. I don’t want to belabor the details of what we sampled – we only tried a few of the pickled/cured elements and small plates. I’d like to give Local 127 more time and another try before I nitpick about the menu offerings.

That said, we thoroughly enjoyed the beans and bacon, Italian style risotto with mushrooms and terrine with green beans.

I was not dining at Local 127 to scrutinize the details (and didn’t take any notes/pics of the experience), I was dining to enjoy the company of a friend and try out a new spot.

Impeccable, attentive service was the first thing we noticed (and fellow diner Alex Triantafilou).

Within a few minutes of our being seated, Chef Geddes greeted us and explained a bit of the menu concept – local food and American wines. Like local news, many Cincinnati restaurants have discovered there’s a benefit to focusing on local – locally grown produce, protein and other foodstuff.

Friendlier price points are a plus, too.

Chef joined us again to present the first portion of our meal, generously offering a few other items from the pickled and cured menu.

Sipping on cocktails from the nearby bar, the tender stopped by and asked if I liked my Manhattan, or if it needed any tweaking. It was perfect.

The server was quick to accommodate our whims, and when he honestly revealed his lack of extensive knowledge about the wine list, he obliged our request to ask Chef Geddes which bottle would best compliment our nibbles.

Not only did Geddes present us with a great bottle that has sentimental meaning for him, he shared tastes of two other reds that punctuated our meal.

General Manager Craig Nuncio visited with us at the end of the evening, explaining Local 127 is not fully booking its tables to allow for first rate service as the restaurant gets off the ground. Nuncio also spilled a secret – the space formerly known as Twist will NOT be re-named Tonic Union, as previously mentioned.

After leaving Local 127, we peeked behind the curtain blocking the view of the old Twist space – I saw a mishmash of furniture but couldn’t immediately discern any changes. Definitely a “Watch This Space” scenario.

My dining companion was melancholy about the change from Pigall’s to Local 127, but we enjoyed our meal and experience at the reinvented venue.

I’m looking forward to another trip to 4th Street. A champion and supporter of Downtown Cincinnati, I want this establishment to succeed like many others in the vicinity.

Success of any kind in Downtown Cincinnati is a win for all of us.

Good luck, Chef Geddes, et al.

Raw Deal -or- Procrastination

Folks, Cincinnati cops are running plates (ed. note: turns out they are).

That’s the only explanation I have for what happened tonight.

What I’m about to share with you is a bit revealing, and perhaps a bit of insight into my personality. And I’m okay with that – because I pride myself on being self deprecating, if not genuine and real.

Shit happens, and I do my best to take my lumps in stride. Life is one big learning experience, and also perhaps a test of wits and will, and with every moment I am trying to learn something, discover gratitude and move on to greener pastures.

Tonight is one of those moments.

I enjoyed a lovely evening with a friend of mine – cocktails, opera, wine – when my friend pulled on to my street and we discovered flashing lights worthy of a triple homicide.

We approached the red and blue flickering glow when my stomach sunk a little bit.

Surely notright? Surely they weren’t after me?

Folks, it doesn’t matter how much volunteer work you do, and you get no brownie points for choosing a career with more noble intentions and less lucrative awards.

We all have to play by the rules – and that means paying your parking tickets.

Yes, I said parking tickets.

I racked up a few parking tickets and made the unfortunate decision to take someone’s advice. This individual explained that I could wait to pay the individual tickets (each ticket amount doubles after seven days), and instead pay a collective fee on the City’s amnesty day. On this day, the City allows residents to pay fines reduced to the collective face value, instead of the doubled amount due for each late ticket.

You’ve heard of Amnesty Day at the library – this person insisted the City of Cincinnati offered amnesty day for tickets, too. This individual generally knows what he or she is talking about, so I decided to take the advice and wait for the day when the city offered it’s citizens a break.

In this rough economic time (Have you heard? The City of Cincinnati is operating on a $20 million deficit for 2009, and is expecting a $40 million deficit next year), I imagine the City is striving to boost it’s revenue any way it can. That means encouraging people to spend more money downtown – and it also means collecting as much money as it’s owed.

The city ain’t got no money – so it’s scrounging through the cushions to find what jingle it can.

Enter Kate the (not so?) Great.

I approached the cruiser with the flashing lights with a, “Hello! I think you might be towing my car.” It was a polite greeting – I didn’t think they were towing my car – I knew they were towing my car because the tow truck already had it’s chains on the tires of my 9-3.

The police were polite – and for that I’m grateful. There’s no reason to treat anyone with less than courtesy, unless you face a disgruntled attitude – and despite the unpleasantness of the situation, I offered manners and even a smile or two. I am impressed the police did the same – it not only goes against the stereotype, but contradicts other experiences I’ve had with men who carry guns.


There I was, watching the only asset to my name (you should see my 403-B and my IRA… the car is likely depreciating more slowly than they are) get wheeled away on a flat bed truck to a fenced-in parking lot on Spring Grove Avenue.

For some reason – I don’t know why – I am okay with this. I will chalk it up to my Pollyanna attitude.

The police officer ran down my expected charges. Once I pay out the parking tickets, the towing fee and an $8-a-day impound charge, I’ll be able to retrieve my car. The police officer said this would likely be in the neighborhood of 600 bucks.

Because there’s nothing more I’d rather spend $600 on than our fine City of Cincinnati.

That tidy sum is about half of the take-home pay for a decent City job, and I guess it’s my fair share of what’s needed to keep Cincinnati afloat.

I guess I’m just a little disappointed that I got nabbed.

Some people only say they’re sorry when they get caught doing something wrong. I’m not necessarily sorry, I’m just surprised they picked *me*. In my former life as a news producer, I used to run stories about people who ran into trouble with the law because they had something like 45 outstanding tickets.

Not six.

I’ve done the math and have figured out when I can get my car out of “hawk.”

It looks like I’ll be riding the bus for about a week or so, and that’s fine with me. The ride will be a great time to reflect on life and all the gifts I’ve been given.

Besides, I have a great book I’m reading, and I never have time to indulge in a page or two.

See you on the bus!

All A-Twitter

Are you on Twitter?

Would you like to meet your local Twitter friends?

Come to Greater Cincinnati’s first tweet-up at Over-the-Rhine’s Below Zero Lounge at 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 20.

It’s a great way for you to put a face to a name, and talk to your Tweeple/Twitterites/Twitterverse in more than 140 characters.

No need to come looking like your avatar…


21 random comments:

Monika R. “RedKat” said…
Woot! I can’t wait to meet all the Tweeple that I’ve never met in person.
5chw4r7z said…
I’ll be there!
ShannanB aka Mommy Bits said…
Love your comment about coming as your avatar. Would be hilarious!
Julie said…
I’ll totally be there! Terry will be out of town. And I can WALK there.
Candy Silvasy said…
Yippee, I was so bummed I had to miss the tweet up (I work at home) . . . you’ve saved me! Can’t wait to put faces with some names.
Laura said…
This sounds great! Wish I could come. Alas, I’ll be teaching. Have a drink for me!
Amybeth said…
Wish I could – I’ll be in South Africa! I’m hosting a working tweet-up on Friday November 14th as well – if you would like to come!
Debba said…
Amybeth – great excuse! Have a wonderful trip to Mamelodi!!

Kate (you’re great!) – I will see you at the tweet-up. Thanks for spreading the word!


Debba said…
p.s. Wouldn’t it be ‘Twitterati’?
Charles said…
I’m going to try to be there…we shall see how things line up.
Steve said…
I should be able to be there!
Andi said…
I want to come, but it’s one of my late nights 🙁
Krista said…
Sounds awesome – I am definitely in, especially since I live in OTR and one of my goals is to convince people that it really isn’t that scary. Thanks for organizing 🙂

– Krista

Lewis said…
I hope to make it, awesome setup! -@digitalmlewis
BigLugJay said…
Woe is me, I’ve prior engagements. Hopefully I’ll be able to make the next one.

If you tweet about me— and you will… please, just be kind.

Evan said…
I will be there. Should be a nice little “pre game” for the symphony that night.
Krista said…
Also, I *believe* that Thursday is Karaoke night… lol – can’t wait to see you all
jason.bayer said…
I’m going to try and make it down to OTR on Thurs. Thanks for organizing!


hydrophonicaudio said…
Just a suggestion: Post the address to the Lounge so that anyone who isn’t very familiar with OTR can Google Map it. Just a suggestion….


DGH said…
While I’d love to make it, you picked my birthday to have it & my wife already has plans. So sorry, but yes to next time! My Twitter name is: “Argon52” thanks so much!
MB2 said…
Semi-new to twitter and looking forward to meeting other tweeps in Cinci. Pretty sure I’ll be there! 🙂

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