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!

Friday, July 17, 2015

around here ...

The last twenty-two days have been a tumultous ride.

Among other things, I have been ...

experiencing an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. There is a long recovery time.

discovering a plethora of technical papers written by physicians, nurses and physical therapists, about spinal fusion, but little from the patient perspective.

recalling the pre-op experience like a trip on LSD, sort of like "A Family Affair." 

feeling extremely naked and vulnerable. And, scared.

extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support.

aware that I am truly blessed to be married to my darling husband.

watching cable TV where I saw five Meryl Streep movies in five days. "The French Lieutenant's Woman;" "Falling in Love;" "The Devil Wears Prada," twice; "Julie and Julia;" and my most favorite of all her movies, "The Bridges of Madison County."

laughing and crying through the first season of Netflix's new series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie." It's simply wonderful and incredibly real!

learning to walk normal again. For several years now, I have literally stumbled through life. Today, I can walk a straight line. The danger of falling has been reduced significantly, and THAT is a really big deal.

enjoying just being still.

walking with my dh every morning just after sunrise, while the air is cool.

counting my blessings.

Friday, June 5, 2015

a little Friday reminiscing ...

I saw this picture on Pinterest and saved it to my phone. It reminded me of an earlier time in my life, when I was still figuring out who I was going to be.

I lived in Key West, Florida from April 1975 until October 1982, before the Navy sold Truman Annex and the cruise ships arrived. For most of those years I drove a 1958 Nash Metropolitan just like this one. It was a hardtop with bench seats and the gear stick on the column. It was "Caribbean Green!"

I bought it for $260 from an older woman named Shirley who lived on the Gulf side of Big Pine Key. She purchased it "new" in Miami and drove it into the Keys and it had never been further north than Miami in its life. It had 5,800 miles on it when I bought it and it had been sitting in her garage for a few years. With the help of a friend, we put a new battery in it, and it started right up. The body was made of galvanized steel making it resistant to the rust that permeates vehicles in the subtropics and it was a very sturdy little car! It was an awful lot of fun to drive!

During the years I owned this car I was involved with the local community theatre group at the Waterfront Playhouse. One of the directors, Ruth Newton, brought guest artists into town for one or two shows at the theatre to raise money. One day, she asked me if I could pick up a man at the Key West airport. His name was Kevin McCarthy and he was doing his one man show, "Give 'em hell, Harry." I was to take him to the Pier House so he could check in to his hotel room, then bring him to the theatre.

When Mr. McCarthy (I never could call him Kevin) approached my car in front of the airport that day with his leather valise in hand, he laughed at my car, then told me he had done TV commercials for Nash-Rambler in the 1950s for the Metropolitan. He said there were less than 14,000 of them produced, which seemed like a lot to me, but, I would learn it really wasn't much. He seemed quite delighted to be escorted around Key West in my little car and it was certainly fun for me. He was an absolute gentleman the entire time and actually talked of his wife and son with much fondness. I took him back to the airport when it was his time to depart and he gave me his address and phone number and told me to call when I finally made it to New York City. I never made it and now he's gone. But, I've got this lovely memory!

I also had the privilege of schlepping Academy Award winning actress Estelle Parsons around in 1979 when she came to do her one woman show, "Miss Margarida's Way." My girlfriend and I were her "handlers." They didn't call it that back then, but, that's what we did. We took her shopping, out to eat, drinking, and, I'm telling you, she was a wild woman! She called us on stage during her performances and I do believe Kristy and I held our own during the improvisations! It was a dynamite experience to be that close to that kind of talent and I prayed some of it would rub off on me!

Superman's love interest, Lois Lane, drove a custom Metropolitan on the 1950s TV show, and that did as much to make it famous as any of the television commercials. Mine was the only Metropolitan in the Lower Keys and for those few formative years I was someone special because I drove that car.

I grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a very bossy (some would say overbearing) mother, so driving around a tiny island at the southernmost point in the United States, far away from her, in my little Lois Lane car gave me the freedom to discover myself. I really needed that. I needed to be around other people, especially other women, who lived their lives on their own terms. It showed me the way I wanted to go. And, while it's not an easy path to travel, I think it's much of the reason I've been able to find joy in the face of despair. I had great role models and for that I am eternally grateful.