Friday, December 1, 2017

The first day of the last month of the year ...

Being a grownup is hard work. The responsibility of a job places time constraints on how we get things done and I've been lucky to have a boss who tolerates my tardy arrivals when I try to cram too much into the early morning before I leave my house. But, I grow weary of the long commute. When I began working at my current job back in 2005, it took me 25 minutes to get from my house to my office. Today it requires 40 to 45 minutes to make the same journey. That is 7.5 hours per week spent in my car getting back and forth to my job. Or, 16.25 days per year. Insert a sad face here. Why? There are just too many people in southeast Florida where I have lived for the past 41 years. And, the rich developers keep building high rise condominiums priced for the wealthy. Affordable housing? Not in Florida. Not anymore. So, my long commute may well grow longer.

I've always worried about money. I never had enough of it.  As I move closer to retiring from my full time job with benefits, I'm getting butterflies in my stomach. Will my meager retirement income be enough? Will I be able to find part-time and/or free lance work to fill the gap? Will I grow into one of those sad old ladies at the nursing homes whose families have abandoned them because they had to sell everything they owned to be able to qualify for Medicare to get into the nursing home in the first place? Now, THAT is a frightening prospect, for sure. Should I work til I'm 70? What do I really want to do? Why am I so anxious about this?

The current proposed tax bill making its way through the Senate this week scares the bejesus out of me. This could change the way we live in America. I think of "The Hunger Games" and the division of classes and I fear we are hurling toward a time when the rich have everything and the rest of us just survive. I am stunned at how the dynamics of class division is being manipulated in the media today to prevent oppressed groups from joining forces into a united front against the government's actions to rob from the poor and give it all to the rich. Apathy runs rampant. Where do we go to to protest? Our legislators aren't listening to us!

My escape from all these tough issues is, of course, art and fashion dolls. They are way more fun and way less stressful than all that other stuff, but, I cannot ignore what is going on in this tiny life of mine. My struggle to survive is nothing compared to those in Yemen, for example. Yet, a struggle it is at times. I've kept my tongue in my head for a long time now. That's over. I'm writing. Finding these words has been a real effort this morning, but, there they are. My thoughts. My truth. My joys and my fears. Mostly my fears today because the Senate is voting on that fucking tax bill that will make the rich richer and richer. Insert another sad face here and let's call it a day. Time to start decorating for Christmas!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Around here ...

I haven't been here in awhile. Did you miss me?

That's what I thought.

There's lots been going on around here. Just to catch you up on things ...

... hosted five ... count 'em! 5! ... art exhibitions at Art Gallery 21 at the Woman's Club of Wilton Manors between October 2015 and May 2016.

... finished my eleventh year visiting fourth and fifth grade classrooms and talking about living in the Everglades. (Yes. We live IN the Everglades, on drained land.)

... preparing to install a museum exhibit which I have titled, "the Barbie story," using my personal Barbie doll collection to show her #evolution as a social icon and popular children's toy.

... working with the City of Wilton Manors Leisure Services Department to bring the "official" Wilton Manors Visitors and Newcomers Welcome Center to the art gallery.

... getting stronger in Jazzercise classes, increasing my weights by one pound and jumping for the first time in two years!

What have you been up to???

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reflecting on Road Rage

This morning, on my drive to work, I had a most remarkable experience. I stewed over it for more than two hours, then posted this to Facebook:

WARNING! If you get behind this car and the woman driving doesn't proceed because she's chatting on her cell phone, whatever you do, do NOT blow your horn to alert her to the situation. Otherwise, she will jump out of her car and yell at you and threaten you. That's what she did to me. Jeez! What a grump!

I thought that would allow me to put the incident to rest. But. It hasn't worked. I keep seeing her grey Victoria's Secret shirt and her bunched up hair, with that big mouth of hers not six inches from my face, yelling, "You don't want to fuck with me!" and, for a moment, I thought she was going to hit me. I just stared at her, thinking that if I didn't respond verbally, she would back off. And, she did.

I thought about giving her the finger and saying, "fuck you," but, in the nanosecond that it took me to choose NOT to do those things, I considered it would prevent things from escalating. Some folks are just looking for someone to go up against. For this particular individual, it wasn't going to be today and it wasn't going to be me.

The more I thought about what I coulda, woulda, shoulda done, the more I came to realize how vulnerable we are in our cars. Had I not had my window down enjoying the morning air, would she have smashed it? Had I attempted to back up and go around her, would that, could that have resulted in an ugly accident? And, the ferocity with which she attacked me, albeit verbally, and that element of surprise ... are those not the techniques the terrorists used in Paris and other locations around the world? What person thinks they're going to be shopping for bread or having dinner or sitting at a stop sign when some lunatic decides it's time to shoot them, bomb them, attack them, whether with weapons or with words? How are we to respond? Do we just sit there as I did or do we take action? And, how do we know which is the right thing to do?

After stewing over this for the better part of the day, I will make a conscious effort to be kind. I don't feel like being kind, to be perfectly honest. I feel like pounding some bitch's face in. But, I'm going to choose peace and joy and kindness. I'm also going to think about carrying my gun in my car.

If this was karma coming at me this morning, then I must be kind. Think kind thoughts. Do kind deeds. And, hope that wench in the black VW Jetta with Florida license plate 725LMK doesn't cross my path again. Next time I might not be so nice.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Freakin' Friday Fodder

There was a nice article in the Sun-Sentinel earlier this week about how the Mayor and Board of Commissioners of Wilton Manors had directed city staff to find an appropriate location within the city to fly the rainbow flag permanently.  I hoped that my neighbors who had shared their concerns over the flying of the flag in front of City Hall saw the article and that it would offer them some reassurance that they weren’t being rejected for being not-gay. I understood their feelings. More than once in the past week or so I have heard or read statements along the lines of, “It’s like they want to get rid of us.”  I have felt that way a time or two, myself, but, sloughed it off as me being too sensitive.

So, there I was, flipping through the online edition of the South Florida Gay News this morning, and on page 2, above the Table of Contents, the headline read “Wilton Manors City Commission Votes To Fly Rainbow Flag Permanently.” There were little photos of individuals with little quotes under them, so I zoomed in to see what folks had to say.

RJ Petrucci: “Yes the WM community should have an incredible favorable bias celebrating the gay residents and tourists that turned the ghetto slum of 1995 into a world famous upscale vacation destination in 2015.”

And, David Mann: “Str8s have the whole country to feel comfortable in; Wilton Manors gays have a few miles of city block.”

I read those quotations a couple more times, just to make sure I was understanding what was said. And, then, I realized that my heart hurt.

I’ve lived in Wilton Manors since April 1987. It wasn’t a “ghetto slum” then, or I wouldn’t have bought a home here. It was a perfect neighborhood for a family with kids. The elementary and high schools were within walking distance and Hagen Park was a block away. Instead of bars and restaurants lining Wilton Drive, there was a Junior League thrift store, an office supply store, a hair salon, an exercise studio, the Piggly Wiggly store, and Wings 'n Things, along with many other small businesses, all providing services to those of us who lived here. It wasn’t a slum. It was a small town in Florida.

And, as for us “str8ts” having the “whole country to feel comfortable in … “ I’ve been here 28 years. Where the heck am I going to go? I have invested nearly half my life in this city, as have many of my other not-gay neighbors. Where could we possibly go after all this time and “feel comfortable?” What a thoughtless comment that is ...

The word “divisive” was reportedly bandied about during the commission meeting when the decision was made to find a place for the rainbow flag. Now, I understand why. Those gay property owners who think they have somehow saved our city need to realize that all the “str8ts” who accepted them when they came here are as much a part of the city’s revitalization as they are.

I like the word “diversity” much more than I like that word, “divisive.” We're each one different, for sure, but, we're all human beings. It takes all of us, working together, to make our little island city a place of peace and prosperity. I sincerely hope a rainbow flag doesn’t spoil it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

My favorite "She-ro," Katniss Everdeen!

Ever met Katniss Everdeen? You may have encountered her on the printed page. Or, maybe you discovered her at the movies. What did you think? Did you love her?

I sure did!

I have read the Hunger Games trilogy. Twice.

I read the first book, "The Hunger Games," right after Christmas 2010. It was the second book I purchased for my Kindle that I had received as a Christmas gift from my darling husband. I started reading and, honestly, I couldn't stop. I know it was written as "youth fiction," but, the characters had heart, the story was plausible, and the writing was really well done.

I downloaded "Catching Fire" the day after I finished the first book and it, too, caught my fancy. It took me a bit longer to get through the second book, though; I found myself going back and re-reading to make sure I understood what I thought I had read. There were new characters, too, and I had to keep them all straight in my head, which is no easy feat!

"Mockingjay" was the most challenging read. It was slow going in the beginning, but, about a quarter of the way into the book, it began to pick up momentum. By the time I was 50% through the third book, I couldn't put it down either. I was hooked. I adored Katniss Everdeen's spirit. And, I understood her tortured heart.

I saw Jennifer Lawrence on "Good Morning America" doing an interview prior to the release of the first movie. Amy Robach was asking her if she thought her life was going to change after the movie came out, which I thought was a really dumb thing to ask this beautiful young woman who was clearly enjoying the fans. She responded that it could be hugely successful or it could bomb. She didn't appear to be worried about it one way or the other. Her responses to Amy's questions was so fresh and authentic and I remember thinking, "Don't change. Don't change."  Stay like you are!

As we all know, "The Hunger Games" made Jennifer Lawrence a superstar and, as all superstars should, she was fashioned into a Barbie doll, designed by none other than the acclaimed Mattel designer, Bill Greening. As a fan of the books, the movies and, of course, Barbie, I purchased each one as they were released. Earlier this week Mockingjay finally arrived and as I was removing her from her prison of plastic, I made some observations about this line of three Katniss dolls.

First and foremost, all three dolls are articulated. Let me repeat that. AR-TIC-U-LATED. And, at a decent price point of $24.95.

I have put emphasis on that quality because Barbie dolls have never had anything more than "bend knees." And, that's a crying shame for such a beloved icon as Barbie. I have doll collector friends who have swapped bodies so they could pose their Barbies in more realistic positions for photographs and display. Why can't Mattel give us articulated Barbie dolls? Okay. Maybe not every single one, but, I would love articulation for the Repro dolls in my collection, and the Barbie Basics, and the other pop culture dolls, as those seem to be the ones most appealing to adult collectors. Surely, adult collectors are a part of their business model. And, surely they want us to keep adding to our collections. Don't they?

Back to Katniss.
My Mockingjay!

The costumes for each of the dolls is quite detailed and each Katniss comes with her bow and quiver of arrows. The hairstyle on all three dolls is her braid, worn to the right side, but there are subtle differences in hair color and the treatment of the tendrils around her face from one doll to the other.

My Google research lead me to discover that she used the JLo head mold for the first doll and I saw one claim that a unique sculpt was created for the second and third dolls. I see very subtle differences between them, but, it's not glaring. In my humble opinion, all three have the same mold, but the second and third have better face screening than the first doll. Based on MegannArt's nude pic of Katniss that I found through Google, I think the body is a Model Muse body. But, I'm not an expert on these things. If you know for sure, please share.

I don't normally collect pop culture dolls, but Katniss Everdeen was a must have for me because of her literary value. She embodies the spirit we want all our girls to have. Brave. And, kind. With strong leadership skills. These are the types of characters we hope will inspire our girls and so I say "Thank You" to Suzanne Collins for creating her.

I'm also sending out a "Thank You" to Jennifer Lawrence for bringing Katniss to life on the silver screen and giving her those qualities of strength and integrity that we seek in our heroes.

I've seen the first three movies (in the theatre, then purchased on DVD) and am looking forward to the final installment in just a few weeks! I reread each book before going to the theatre, as a refresher, if you will. So, I'm currently rereading "Mockingjay" for the third time before Part 2 hits theatres. I understand why they split it into two movies. There's a lot going on!

On November 20th I will dig out my Mockingjay pin to wear on my jacket and head to the theatre with great anticipation! I will savor this one last visit with my favorite heroine, Katniss Everdeen! And, you know what else? If we had more Katniss Everdeens in the world, I am certain the world would be a better place. But, hey ... that's just me.

Now, if Mattel would kindly use the articulated body of Katniss for a few Barbies, I could find true happiness.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My "Mayberry" ...

NOTE: Tuesday night I made a little speech to my mayor and city commission. I ran a little over the three minutes they allow for "public speaking," but, I think I got my point across. Here's what I said. You decide.

I moved into my home on April 12, 1987. My daughter was born five days later and she grew up in a neighborhood where we knew everyone on our street. She walked to elementary and high school and spent many hours at Hagen Park and Mickel Field.

I awoke in the wee hours this morning thinking about The Andy Griffith Show’s episode 10 from season one, “Stranger in Town.”  It was on cable TV last night. The citizens of Mayberry were suspicious of a young stranger who seemed to know everything about them. It turned out that his army buddy was from Mayberry and he had loved hearing his friend talk about home. After discharge, he began subscribing to the local newspaper and he had decided to come to Mayberry and make it his home. Thanks to the sensitivity and wisdom of the local sheriff, the folks of Mayberry came to see this man deserved to be welcomed because he loved their small town as much as they did.

So, there I am at three in the morning thinking about this, and I had a little epiphany.  I’m watching my “Mayberry” morph into something I don’t recognize and I can’t do anything about it.

My daughter is 28 years old now and, sadly, I don’t know everyone on my street any more. Of the ten houses that line my block, four of them are vacation rental businesses. Today, three are lined up in a row, across the street from where I live.

There are those who say these houses were blighted and their rehabbing has increased our property values. I don’t know if that’s true. I agree that they look pretty. But, the thing is, they’re not part of community life. There’s no one to know. They’re not residents. And, that makes me suspicious.

When this whole conversion thing started a few years ago, it took me a while, but, I came to accept the business across the street. After all, I didn’t have much choice.  Then, I discovered there were two other vacation rental businesses on our street, but, they were scattered in between my real neighbors, so, I worked at making peace with their presence, too. I knew the State Legislature had stripped municipalities of the ability to regulate vacation rentals in any meaningful way, so, I knew I had to be patient and give the cities time to find a way to rein them in.

Then, last month, an owner occupied house between two vacation rentals was sold and I’ve learned it is being converted to a vacation rental, making three vacation rental businesses in a row, across the street from where I live. So, I have come here to ask. Can you do anything about that? Is it okay for 40% or 50% of a residential neighborhood to be Stepford Wife vacation rental businesses?  Don’t we, homesteaded residents, have a say in this? And, if not, why not?

U.S. property laws guarantee me the “right of quiet enjoyment” of MY property. That’s pretty much gone from my life and, I admit, I’m mad about it. Please? Can you guys help save my “Mayberry?”

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

august, however ...

Honest to God. I don't know where the month of July went.

My recovery from spinal surgery is going well. I'm incredibly grateful for modern medicine and for an amazing surgeon. I can walk without stumbling and I no longer need any kind of pain  medication to get through the day. Don't get me wrong; the recovery is a lengthy process, but, I'm so glad I did this. I suspect when my recovery is complete (about 6 months after surgery) I will continue to be grateful for the improvements in my quality of life!

Not being able to do simple things has had its challenges, though. I cannot lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (which weighs 8 pounds, by the way), so, no big grocery shopping for me. (I can do desserts and cat food, though!) I also cannot vacuum or clean the cat's litter boxes and I can't schlep the laundry basket. I can, however, wash dishes and put groceries away and I'm excellent at folding socks and underwear! My darling husband hasn't complained once through all this, which is why he is my prince!

I've resumed working on the Island City Art Market at Art Gallery 21. Things languished during July. I have to admit to a week long bout with depression. It had been so long since I was depressed that, at first, I didn't recognize what was going on. It passed, though, and I'm most grateful for that.

I went with friends to see Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal in "Love Letters" at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and I'm so glad I did! They were lovely together! Even more so than when they made "Love Story." One of those friends works at the Broward Center and while he couldn't arrange a meet-and-greet with the actors, he was able to  procure autographed Playbills for each of us. I found this to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I've received in a long time. Thank you, Bill!

I put two dolls up on ebay and one sold. Ebay made $2.40, Paypal made 90 cents and I made 8 dollars. Needless to say, I didn't relist the second doll. It's just not worth the hassle. However, I have an idea for a doll show! (A new project!)

I visited Office Depot today and they are stocked with school supplies galore! Oh! How I love school supplies! New pens and pencils and notebooks and reams of paper and a new 3-ring binder! Those were the things that made going back to school worth doing! It's hard to believe that the kids will be back in the classroom in just a couple more weeks!

I hope my readers are having a wonderful August! Carpe diem!