Tag Archives: friendships

Mass Exodus

I hear the sounds of my youth outside the window, the various chirping and buzzing. And although so familiar also so distant to me now. The heat and sand and multitude of adventures of my home now for 16 years calls to me.

It was a mass exodus out of my beloved state of Florida. Those of us fleeing north in a perpetual gridlock. At one point I blew bubbles out the window to lighten the mood. 

This monster of a storm barreling towards us is imminent. And now it is hurry up and wait. Those who’ve stayed to fight it out have boarded up their homes and filled their tubs. I want to be there to hold their hand through the eye of it. But I can only send well wishes and pray to the Universe to have mercy, weaken this thing. Mother Nature in all her glory and zen can turn to desicrate within minutes. 

Before moving to Florida over 16 years ago I lived in Tennessee, in and around Nashville where I was born and raised. It will always be a part of me. Hell, I’ve got the ever-present accent to prove it. There are family and friends there I hold dear to my heart even when we go months or years without being in each other’s presence. 

My memories scatter over various times in my life. There was college and TV production shows we birthed and sent out into the airwaves over late nights and early mornings. There was childhood where the cedar trees in my backyard over looked the creek where we spent days exploring and trying to catch crawdaddies. There were the high school days of triumph and aggravation. Bonding with those of the same heart. And through it all my brother somewhere close by. 

So now I stay with him and his family in their home in Tennessee while we all wait for this storm to spin and crash its course. The course that is battering where my life is now. In all its quirkiness and troubles Florida is endearing to me and I wear it with me always. Even in the suffocating heat of August and the rainy hurricane season of September I still regard it with adoration. Various memories here, too. The birth and growing up of my son. The friends made from various other parts of the country who all came down for one reason or another. The beach, the springs, the trails, the cute little towns, all the parks, even the bland strip malls and constant flat earth. I love it all as I did when I’d come to visit in my youth. And of course the freeing opportunity to wear flip flops all year round. 

Oh Florida, and all of you there. Please be safe. Keep your walls in tact. Crouch and fight and breathe. And rise again with the sunshine waiting for another day. Those of us who fled will be back to hold and rise with you. 


Filed under Observations

Because It’s Christmas


One of my favorite holiday movies of all time is Love Actually,  an early 2000 British classic among Gen X-ers and the like. Throughout this humorous, heart-felt, quirky, kitschy film they use the line, “Because it’s Christmas….” to rebuild friendships, confess love, and just downright be real.

I’ve been using this line for weeks now. And it’s liberating.

“Because it’s Christmas…  I’m going to give candy to the kids at school.”

“Because it’s Christmas…  I’m going to have a piece of chocolate at breakfast.”

“Because it’s Christmas… I’m going to stifle the angry urge to curse out the person who just stole my parking space and instead give them a nod and a smile.”

“Because it’s Christmas… I’m going to spend more money than I should on gifts for my loved ones because it just feels good.”

“Because it’s Christmas… I’m going to wear ridiculous holiday-themed hats and slippers and shirts.”

“Because it’s Christmas… I’m going to drink more tea and coffee than I have in over a decade.”

You get the point. Call it an excuse. Call it an opportunity. Whatever the case, Christmas gives me reason to be a little nicer and a less frustrated perfectionist.

Some people hate the holidays. It’s too commercialized. Too much pressure. Too many sad memories. I get it. I’ve been there.

But not this year.

Because it’s Christmas I’m doing everything I normally do but with even greater purpose and zen. And I’m doing it in fuzzy elf slippers and a t-shirt that reads “Santa is my Sugar Daddy.”

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Filed under Movies I Like

I Feel Strongly About Saturn

I’ve always been a proponent of vacations. Every vacation I ever took left me with a newfound sense of zen, an inspiration to tweak things in my life, and an altered way of looking at my surroundings.

I just got back from a three week road trip (tour de South) with the boy, who is twelve years old- that splendid minute between childhood and adolescence. He still sleeps with his stuffed animal Snuggles yet he forgot I existed once on our trip when a fellow 21 Pilots fan with long dark hair and a braided choker necklace entered his world.

Besides my glorious trips overseas in my teens and twenties I have not been away from home for this length of time. I can be a cave-dweller. When not at work or grocery shopping at Walmart I stick to my minute radius, often ignoring the slight nag to interact with humanity on a physical level.

Vacations pluck you out of your comfort zone, plop you into the unknown, and enlighten your sense of self. I learned I can keep up with preteens on a floating obstacle course (although I could barely lift my arms the next day). I realized I am pretty good at being a chameleon when it comes to cohabitating with various families and groups of people (although I had to slink away at small intervals to get away from the tiresome chatter I’d rather replace with a good book or staring at the tops of the trees).

I urinated in several outdoor locations without soaking my feet. I got lost in the banjo-echoed boonies without becoming completely inconsolable. I drove through thunderstorms and along winding mountain roads and alongside Live Oaks draped in Spanish moss.

I sang aloud to Boz Scaggs and Jimmy Hendrix and Weezer. I sipped coffee with my brother. I read fairy tales to my nephew. I poured my grandmother a glass of milk. I floated down rivers with friends I hope I have forever.

And all this with my son.

When we pulled into our driveway I was a bit dejected. Reality. Chores. Bills. Work. Homework. But if I can tackle these things with the zen I felt on the mountain, the freedom I felt on the open road, the happiness I felt surrounded by friends and family, then maybe these mundane tasks won’t be so stressful.

“I feel strongly about Saturn” was written in marker on a wooden bed in a cabin in the north Florida woods. It made me think of all the travelers who came there before me. And the dreams of stellar travels to come.

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The Colors of Summer

We bought a new float yesterday. It’s a blow-up surf board with a tiki image in aqua blue, coral, sunshine yellow, and grass green. It smells like fresh plastic-coated fun. It smells like summer vacation.

There’s a slight tug at my stomach, a nagging to make sure to fit everything one can possibly fit in this time off. My boy is 12. Is this his last childhood summer before he starts getting all teen-agy?

I want to relish in every freckled smile. Every swish of a hand in pool water. Every lazy snuggle. Every moment spent lingering over breakfast when during the school year it’s rush rush rush.

I took an assistant teaching job for many reasons, number one being so I could be on my son’s schedule and enjoy some of his days off with him just like my mother and father did with me.

This time is more precious than gold. More fleeting than the speed of a hummingbird’s wing.

I hear the snap of Nerf guns coming from his bedroom and the goofy chatter between him and his good friend. We will take the new float out again today. The five bucks spent on it will more than pay for itself in laughter and memories.

I like looking around the house and seeing the float, the beach towels, the pizza box from last night’s sleepover feast. A myriad of colors representing all that summer has and should stand for.



What do your summer colors look like? If you could accomplish one thing this summer, what would it be?


Filed under Yep I'm Becoming My Mother

Fuji Pro, Kahlua, and an Old Friend

Barry was the first person who ever took the time to teach me about photography. He wore over-sized early-80’s style glasses. He always cleaned them smudgy on the corner of his plaid shirts, which were half tucked around his round belly.

We worked together at a retail photography store in the late 90’s on the heels of my college years. He was one of the top salesman. I was a Customer Service Associate– fancy title for cashier-who-must-be-polite-to-whatever-idiot-walks-in-the-store. Barry and I would make fun of the weirdos and assholes who did walk in and thankfully walk out. He had an aversion to anyone of religious identity. I had an aversion to the perpetually drunk woman who swore it was our fault her photos were always out of focus.

Barry was one of those coworkers essential to making it out alive in the tumultuous world of retail hell. He made the pain of standing for hours on end a little lighter. He made jokes when the clock was moving so slow we thought we were in a time warp. He spouted off random facts I’d later recite to customers when they asked me questions a lowly cashier had no clue about. He made goofy faces. He laughed at himself. He took me under his pale, sarcastic, hilarious, genius, kindly peculiar wings.

Some nights after work I’d follow him to his house after a quick stop at the liquor store. This was before my wine days so I was still in the process of figuring out what my drink of choice was. I was in my White Russian stage so he’d buy me a four-pack of mini Kahlua mud slides and bourbon for himself. We’d drink our respective beverages in his basement, which he took over as his nerd lair.

He was an amazing photographer, specializing in astrophotography. He’d sometimes set up his gargantuan telescope and we’d catch the light of the stars he recognized like the freckles on the back of his hand. He had thousands of photos he hoarded in his basement. “They can’t pay me what they’re worth,” he’d say sneeringly when I suggested he try to sell some of them. He also had a mad collection of albums he’d play on his souped-up stereo. He was the first person I knew to have internet access from his television. He introduced me to The Daily Show and South Park.


I went with him to buy his second Honda Hatchback, which he paid for in full from the money he saved working at the store. He took care of his mother, who lived above his nerd lair. He bought her mayonnaise and butter and bologna, the only “food” she would eat. Barry microwaved Lean Cuisines for himself on lunch break, two at a time.

I’ll never forget the time we had worked two weeks straight during the holiday shopping mayhem. It was Christmas Eve, our store’s metal chain-link security gate was half closed, and we were doing our final count of all the drawers. Some last-minute shopper ducked under the gate and begged us to let him buy a camera. Barry frantically took care of him while I tried to make sense of the day’s numbers. The boss was at home eating a warm meal with his family. Barry and I hadn’t eaten real food or seen the light of the sun in days. The last-minute shopper finally left and Barry and I continued our closing duties. The shelves were in disarray, the carpeted floor speckled with paper liter, and our count was way off. Barry grabbed the calculator for the fourth time and it slipped out of his hand, spinning in the air and crashing on the concrete floor below his feet. “Goddamn it!” he yelled in exasperation. “Screw it,” I called back as I ran to my purse, grabbed my cigs, and proceeded to light up and give one to Barry. We stood there laughing hysterically, puffing away, trying to fix the calculator.

I found out this morning Barry passed away. I hadn’t talked to him in years. I hadn’t sent him a photograph Christmas card since the one where my son, a toddler at the time, is waving at the camera. Barry told me it looked like he was waving at him.

I don’t want to imagine Barry in whatever way I’ll find out he died. I want to remember his silliness behind the counter, or crouched behind a wall of purple pansies teaching me macro photography, or sipping Jim Beam under Arcturus.

Rest in peace, Barry. Thank you for the lessons, the friendship, and most of all, the laughter.



Filed under Picking Up Strays

Girls vs. Boys

Listening to my nine-year-old son and his male friends playing video games in the living room you’d think there was a major battle going on—not just with the actual game but with each other.  There’s yelling: “Come on dude, go up the stairs!”  There’s arguing: “Hey you already got to play him.  It’s my turn now!”   There’s name calling: “Come on, dude.  Stop being a drama queen.”  Just when I think I should go in there and try to police the situation they start laughing with each other, dancing to “Gangnam Style” from the iPod.  I continue cleaning the kitchen and breathe a sigh of relief.  Ah, if only female relationships were that easily transitioned.

They won't be looking much different at 80

They won’t be looking much different at 80

Even my husband talks about how forgiving the male + male friendship is.  How many times did his golf buddies rib him for wearing “Walmart clothes” and having “the worst short game since
Gerald Ford”?  How many times was he left out of a foursome because well, a fifth was just too much?  They even make fun of each other’s love handles, pot bellies, and sasquatch feet.  My friend Ken is good friends with at least two guys he had fistfights with over the last decade.  Can you imagine that happening in a female relationship?  Not a chance.

Wish I'd have learned this sooner

Wish I’d have learned this sooner

I still remember a “friend” in high school calling me fat.  Think I ever went to her house again?  If I were to get into a street fight with a girl I can pretty much guarantee we would not be having a beer afterwards (or Chardonnay in my case) while we laughed about the bruise I gave her on her porcelain face.  Chicks just don’t do that.  Call us a name?  You’ll never be invited to any function we ever host and everyone we are both acquainted with will know what a meanie that girl is.  Say anything about our hair, or waistline, or house, or toenails and we are sure to put you in the “Nasty Girlfriend Hall of Shame” forever.  I do have a couple of girlfriends who I’ve had major “discussions” with or who at one point hung up on me or vice versa and we are even better friends now than we were then.  But I really think that’s the exception.  And then there was no name calling or hair pulling.  To this day when I hit the bag at kickboxing I will sometimes picture the girlfriend I had during childhood who pushed me into a deep, dry creek bed and left me there scared and alone as the dark grey of dusk settled in.

So enter a different relationship:  the female + male platonic friendship.  This can be tricky, but when accomplished correctly ‘tis a refreshing thing.  Now if the male is gay that’s super because there is no anxiety over any attraction there might be.  Oh I have been attracted to many a gay male friend, but since I knew there was no chance in hell that took the pressure off and I could compliment him with abandon.  Plus what sweet arm candy when walking down the street, mall, etc.  But there is that chance he is a queen and then you’ve got more drama than the most theatrical of females.

They're all platonic now but what happens in a few years?

They’re all platonic now but what happens in a few years?

If your male friend is not gay then you have to be careful.  There is a chance that his girlfriend or wife will become jealous of your friendship and vice versa.  But if everyone is cool with it and there is no underlying arduous longing then it is a blast.  They can teach you how to fish while you tell them what their girlfriend really wants for her birthday.  You can call them just to say hey what the hell did you do this weekend and then cut them off because you forgot about a story you wanted to tell or your kid is screaming for you to wipe his ass.  They will not be judging you or stewing over this for weeks.  They will have probably cut you off first anyway to check a score or receive a call from their mother.

Two for the price of one

Two for the price of one

I do have two girlfriends who never involve themselves in the sometimes catty, petty situations that other more needy female friends do.  But then I remember that they are really men underneath their size 10 dresses and high heels.  I think they just might be the best buy of all because you get two for the price of one.  And if anyone tries to mess with you while you’re out and about they can take the offender to the parking lot and not worry about breaking a fake nail.

My buddies from a another era

My buddies from a another era

Now there is also another relationship which warrants praise.  And that is the young female + mature female friendship.  Since moving into a villa complex mainly consisting of single older females, I have become acquainted with, and quite close to, a few women who are old enough to be my mother.  They ask me how I’m doing, invite me in for tea, chat with me at the pool, go for leisurely bike rides around the neighborhood, and even cut a rug at various neighborhood parties.  I get to hear their colorful stories of growing up; they give me diplomatic advice and assurance.  They know how tough it is to be a mom.  They make jokes about the old crotchety lady who lives next to the pool and likes to involve herself in other people’s business.  I find in them a friend and mother-figure—a safe haven around the corner when my own mother is out of town.

So when it comes to female relationships of any kind it’s best to proceed with caution and an open mind.  If you find a true confidant and life explorer hold onto them gingerly.  And for God’s sake don’t say anything about their bad haircut.


Filed under Observations