CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{October 31, 2006}   Busted by Ghosts?

halloween-_2.jpgSometimes I see ghosts.

I work at the main library downtown, sorting and retrieving books in the stacks, those windowed galleries in between the 2nd and 3rd floors. If you look up from the atrium on the ground floor, sometimes you’ll see me walking by up there.

And every once in awhile, when I’m back deep in the long rows of shelves, I’ll see a dark shape flit past out of the corner of my eye. Other times, I’ll suddenly feel a presence, like there’s someone approaching or already behind me and I’ll turn around to find . . . no one. My rational mind kicks in and tells me that it’s just my imagination, feeding off of the ghost stories I’ve heard about the library and the ground it’s been built on. And because the human mind is a funny thing and sometimes it sees what it wants to see.

But a few of my colleagues there tell me they’ve had the same experience, that presence of an eerie otherness. Others insist they’ve seen these ghosts up close for a short moment, one of whom is a woman in a long, dark-patterned dress; two more are a man in a top hat and a small boy at his side.

I’d truly like to believe that these ghosts are real, that they are in fact some sort of ethereal echoes of dead people. And I’d like to be as convinced as Hamlet was after seeing the ghost of his father, that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in my so-called philosophy. But until I get my hands on one of those Negative Ion Capacitors that Bill Murray had in “Ghostbusters,” I’m going to remain skeptical.

Now who else has some ghost stories?


Brian Ciesko


larry-_3.jpgrichard-ford.jpgdixie-chicks.jpgThis past Friday afternoon, I caught up with Pulitzer price winning novelist Richard Ford by phone in his hotel room in Denver, Colorado. He’s just started his book tour to promote his new novel “The Lay of the Land” which was released last week.

The new novel is the third book about Ford’s most popular character Frank Bascombe. You’ll be reading more about it in CityBeat in the weeks ahead.

Somehow, the subject turned to Frank being a little grumpy in the new book and we got off the subject a little bit. Here’s some of where we strayed.

Ford: I don’t think of Frank as being grumpy but, you know, sometimes people think of me as being grumpy and I don’t think I am either – but then they do.

Gross: I get accused of being grumpy constantly.

Ford: You do?

Gross: You know, I’m 52-years-old and I think it’s my right to be grumpy if I want to be.

Ford: (laughs) Well, I read your piece that you sent me on your circulatory problems. That would make me a little grumpy.

Gross: It did make me grumpy. You know, I couldn’t get around and I feel like I missed all of last winter.

Ford: Yeah, well, you were very silent about it at the time.

Gross: Sure, I know.

Ford: Are you all right now?

Gross: I’m doing all right. I have to be careful, can’t walk as fast as I used to, but I feel o.k.

Ford: Good. The piece that you wrote about it was actually quite touching and smart.

Gross: I hope it was funny in spots.

Ford: It was, but it was mostly touching and serious.

Gross: Thank you. It’s funny, when you write something like that, you never know what kind of mail you’re going to get. In the same issue, I wrote a column about the Dixie Chicks and that got more mail than the cover story. I don’t understand that, but I don’t try to figure readers out.

Ford: Are you an enthusiast of the Dixie Chicks?

Gross: I love the Dixie Chicks.

Ford: Me too.

Gross: We have this country station here, B105, and they won’t play them, they don’t like to return my calls; don’t want to talk to me.

Ford: What? That’s just bullshit.

Gross: I don’t understand it.

Ford: That’s bullshit. It’s just republican bullshit.

And on that note, we both started getting steamed about country radio not playing new Dixie Chicks music and decided to get back to the subject at hand, namely, “The Lay of the Land.”

Larry Gross

{October 29, 2006}   Your Letters


These worn steps
an old boy’s school once.
I’m cast to the outside stoop
by a habit.


Feelings flow when I’m here alone.
I look across the city
from my perch on the hillside
and will to feel you.


You. The other half of me.
How I hate the Gods
that let us meet, share and love
for a time.


Can one love a lifetime’s worth
in a few short months?
I saved every memory, but lock them away.
Too great the pain.


I know. And I will
to push it back;
far away back.


Burn your letters,
tear your pictures,
trash your gifts.


But not yet.
Not until I can see me
burning your letters.


{October 28, 2006}   Almost

computerquestion.gifI almost have this stupid email figured out. my sentences are now allowed to start with lower-case but it still auto capitalizes my I’s and days of the week, every last one of ‘em – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and of course Sunday.

it’s been my big morning mission. now I must move on.


{October 27, 2006}   Comfortable in my Own Skin

lol-girl-_15.jpgGo ahead, look at me. It’s not like it’s anything new. I know I’m pretty, I know I have the look. I’m comfortable in my own skin.

I take the bus to work. I don’t have a car and don’t want one. I think it’s funny when men stare at me – usually my breasts first, then my face. Then they check out the rest of me, my legs, and then my ass – my great ass.

I swear to god, I think this one older guy pretending not to notice me, was jacking off behind reading his newspaper. That’s a little sad don’t you think?

When I’m at work I don’t get the stares, don’t get the guys with their mouths open too much. Most of the time I’m fine with that – you know, they know me now, but sometimes I like to stir the pot.

If I wear something low cut, men like to hang out at my desk. Same thing when I decide to leave my bra at home which I do often in the summer. Pity now the weather is turning colder. I definitely have the body for summer.

To me honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy who doesn’t think with his third leg except maybe for Larry. He’s an odd one – a tough nut to crack. Sometimes I think I send him these posts to turn him on. I wonder if they do? So far he hasn’t told me.

I like to read the comments when I post something here, so many little boys out there. I’m still waiting for that man to come along.

I’m such a tease.

LOL Girl

{October 26, 2006}   Here’s Some New Rules

I try to keep this blog local to Cincinnati, but Cincinnati belongs in the real world – right? I think this clip is too funny not to post. Soooooooooooo . . .
Here’s the “New Rules” segment from last week’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Wait for the last one. Damn funny, but serious too.

Larry Gross

{October 25, 2006}   Raped

otr.jpgMy sister got raped this past weekend. She lives in the hood too just like me.

Kind of stupid on her part – forgot to lock her apartment door. You don’t do that in this neighborhood.

The guy held her at gunpoint, stripped off her clothes, then made her suck his cock. I’m sorry – don’t know how else to say it. Then he got her between her legs after which he hit her in the face. She passed out.

She woke up maybe an hour later or so she thinks and called the cops on her cell phone. She tells me they never did show up but maybe there wasn’t any point. Rape happens a lot here, you just don’t hear about it in the news. You think being black has anything to do with that?

I saw her this morning and she’s all right. Her eye looks bad where he hit her, but it will heal. I felt bad for her and thank god I got paid on Friday. I bought her some breakfast.

She didn’t get a good look at the guy, said it was dark and all niggers look alike. That’s what she said – her words not mine. She likes to use the word nigger – I have no idea why, she’s black too. Maybe it’s because she’s angry. Shit, wouldn’t you be?

Karen @ The Hood

{October 24, 2006}   “Little Man”

little-man-pic.jpgAs I said in a post a few weeks ago, I’m back where I started, working some hours at Elgin Office Equipment downtown doing a little bit of everything, just like over 30 years ago.

While smoking a cigarette outside this morning in front of the store, I had a conversation with a guy who was going to help Shawn, one of our warehouse employees, move some furniture around on the seven floors we have at Elgin.

“Man, I’m tired this morning,” he said looking at me as he took a puff on his cigarette.

He was maybe wearing three coats. His hair was long and black with some gray in it. He didn’t have any teeth and he needed a shave. He was maybe five feet tall.

“How long you been up?” I asked.

“Since four,” he replied.

“Makes for a long morning doesn’t it?” I said.

“I’ve been like this for the past 20 years, just get up at four.”

“You live here downtown?”

“No, I live over in Northside,” he said.

“You took the bus in?” I asked, stomping out my cigarette on the sidewalk.

“Nope, I walked.”

“What? You walked here today – to downtown – from Northside?”

“Well, hell, as I said, I get up at four.”

I laughed and looked at him like he was kidding. Clearly he wasn’t.

“What’s your name?” I asked extending my right hand to him.

“Everyone calls me Little Man; guess you can call me that too.”

“I’m Larry,” I said shaking his hand.

“Nice to meet ya, “he replied. “I’ve been working here on and off for 17 years, helping them move all that stuff they got around. Guess I’ve been doing something right. They always want me to come back.”

I didn’t see little man for the rest of the day. He was busy moving furniture, was going to stay until early evening.

When I left Elgin today, I couldn’t help but think of Little Man again and that long, cold walk he’ll have to get home to Northside tonight. I should have given him some money for the bus, but something tells me he wouldn’t have taken it.

Larry Gross

amp-1.JPGamp-2.JPG Photo credit for last picture – Sara Beiting

You may not be familiar with these people, but I am.

First there is Sarah Reinertsen. She is a left, above knee amputee, who finished the grueling Ironman triathlon in October 2005.

Then comes Chad Crittenden. He is a right, below knee amputee who was in the Survivor Vanuatu series.

Now I hear there’s yet another super amp in the television series, Amazing Race.

These folks (and there are more) are noteworthy and truly exemplify the human spirit triumphing over adversity. So why do they piss me off?

Because they are constantly pointed out to me by friends and family as if to imply that an amputation ain’t nothing but a thang.

Folks, it is a big-ass thang; a really big inconvenience in my life and one that will never, ever go away.

Before I was fitted with my prosthesis, I was beset with doubts. Would I really even be able to walk with an artificial leg?

In the midst of all these unspoken fears, I had innumerable people reassure me that, “You will be fine. Why just look at that guy from Survivor.” Or, from an aunt, “My brother-in-law lost his leg to an accident, and he was walking in just three weeks. Like he’d never lost a leg.”

Well friends, it wasn’t and isn’t that easy.

You see, I’ve never been all that physical. I prefer reading, writing, and websurfing to jogging, and I always have. Don’t get me wrong, for years I’ve enjoyed camping (tent, not RV) and hiking. I’ve hiked Buzzard’s Roost, a lot of the longer trails in Hocking Hills and bits of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. But these events were maybe twice a year, not my everyday life.

I could also lose some weight. And, I’m fifty one years old.

All these factors point to someone who, when she lost her right leg, was never going to become one of those super amps. In fact, it took me an extraordinary amount of physical therapy to even be able to walk.

Now I can walk – just not that far. I know, I know, I sound just like that little old man in the wheelchair commercial. But it’s true.

Wearing the layers upon layers of stuff that constitute an arty leg wreaks havoc on my skin. Your skin can’t breathe in all that aloe-impregnated rubbery stuff. Your skin prefers to breathe, take my word for it.

I can’t jump up from a dead sleep to go pee in the middle of the night; it takes too long to don that leg. I keep a wheelchair by the bed.

And, that foot attached to the prosthesis? I am blessed to have the same “foot” as Chad Crittenden, but no matter what the hype, that thing just doesn’t flex. I can trek through my somewhat uneven yard, but I don’t see me hiking hills anytime soon.

But just so you know, I’m happy and fortunate to be here on planet earth. I’m still here with and for my daughter. I continue to look at the glass as half full.

Just don’t point out any of those super amps to me.


{October 22, 2006}   Smokers

smoker.jpgI had a blind date last night – a set up from a girlfriend. Don’t ask me why I agreed to it, but I did.

He wasn’t a bad guy, fairly good looking and all. We met at a restaurant and just had dinner and we talked and it was going well, until the meal was over and we went outside.

Almost immediately, he pulls out a cigarette and lights it. He wanted to know if I wanted to go for a walk. I said no, said I felt tired and just wanted to call it a night.

That wasn’t really true. The thing is, I didn’t want to be around his cigarette smoke.

I read Larry Gross’ Living Out Loud column some days back called “Thoughts from a Confused Smoker” in CityBeat. Now I know Larry and like him and all and he has never asked me out, but if he would, I’d say no thank you for one reason: He smokes.

In his column he talks about issues 4 and 5 on the ballot in November. I’m not going to get into it here (read his column), but as for me, I’ll be voting for Issue 5.

I think it’s time for smokers to realize they need to stop. I like to go to bars too but most often I don’t because of all the cigarette smoke. It’s certainly not healthy and I hate going home to my apartment smelling like cigarettes.

Before my blind date and I parted ways, he wanted my phone number and I gave it to him. I know he’s going to call and I’ll just have to be honest. I don’t want to be with someone who is killing himself.

Teri Archer

et cetera