The Wrath of Mother Nature

I’m writing this sitting in front of my favorite place in the whole house, the living room window. Much of what I’d pulled away, the research folders, the chapters from my next book, the desk, the printer I didn’t want to get wet, are now back in place.

For the past five days, Florida had been in hurricane preparedness mode and I, the veteran rodeo-rider, was as well. Over the years I’d learned to keep my house stocked at all time with plenty of water, canned goods, candles, flashlights and batteries. So when the entire coast went into a tailspin and raided every Publix, Walmart and Home Depot this side of the Mississippi, I simply kicked back on that craziness and just waited.

I think it’s the waiting that kills me the most. Prepared or not. Veteran or not. Time does have a way of wreaking havoc on one’s brain especially if you’re of the same school as me where neurotic habits rule the world. It’s painful. It’s frustrating. It’s sometimes even crippling to not be able to have that type of control, like being on a runaway train with no conductor at the brake.

However, despite my inadequacies, I’m also old enough (sixty-three I believe qualifies me for that perch even though Medicare doesn’t) to know that poop happens. And you better be ready to deal with it.

So after the heartbreaking devastation in Haiti, I sat here expecting a hurricane of dangerous proportion, while wondering where the hell they come up with all these names, Lauren never being one of them? But thankfully, and as luck would have it because that IS the only name of this game—Luck—Matthew passed us by. However, not before leaving us with some signs he’d been here, signs which would remind us fear comes in all sorts of disguises.

Hurricane Matthew

Was I scared silly staring out into the pitch black as rain pelted the glass, and gusts of wind forced the tree in front of my house into a yoga bend even I wouldn’t attempt to do? You bet! I’ve experienced far too many things not to be.

I moved to Mexico just after one of their biggest earthquakes which left parts of Mexico City in ruin. California had Northridge. Another devastating earthquake that I also luckily just missed by the skin of my teeth. But my seven-year stay did provide many instances which left me clinging to the furniture or underneath the furniture. Then there’s Florida. The place where I measure Mother Nature at her best and cruelest, where storms named Bertha, Dennis, Erin and Andrew have stained the terrain, have left me with memories of cars being thrown around like beach balls, glass and trees exploding from their roots, homes destroyed and oh so many lives lost.

Hurricane Andrew

That’s what I think about every year as hurricane season comes into play. Be prepared to hunker down. To batten my hatches, hold my head up high, and brace myself unto myself for I am all that I have as I plow full speed ahead.

But like I said … we were lucky this time around. The sun came out. Little Orphan Annie sang her song. All the old people in my development are now back on their bikes, doing aerobics in the pool, and me?

I’m ready for a nap.

 

 

 

Photo credit: bbc.com AP

Photo credit: The Associated Press

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Confessions of a Moveaholic

As of late, I realize I’ve been terrible at blogging. More than superstar status though with Facebook, Twitter and whatever other silly thing I can think of to distract myself with. It’s what I do best, I suppose. That and moving. Yes, I do that brilliantly. And should since I’ve done it a total of twenty-two times over the course of my adult lifetime. Wow. What an astounding number given I’m not in the military (FEMA doesn’t count), and according to the US Census Bureau the average American only moves twelve times. And for all the normal reasons. New job. Better job. Bigger house. Smaller house. Getting married. Getting divorced. One kid. Ten kids.

However, while some of those reasons were applicable to me, for the most part I believe I get up and go more often than most simply because I can. I don’t feel encumbered to maintain roots in any single place, not with a middle name of “tumbleweed” I don’t. Nor do I stress out so much about money, where it’s coming from, where it’s going to, because I’ve always believed where there’s a will there’s a way.

Perhaps that sounds a bit naive. And maybe it is. But it works for me. And now with my recent move squarely behind me, all the knickknacks and mishegosh of my life acclimating once again to their new environment, I find myself digging a bit deeper into that why factor.

First and foremost, I hate clutter

Moving gives me that excuse to get rid of all the junk hiding under the bed, in the closets and anywhere else one chooses to squirrel things away. It also permits me to shop till I drop. Not that I ever needed an excuse for that, but it certainly sounds good.

I get to wear a badass bandana and have fun

Not everyone can pull this one off. Yet I think it looks good on me. No?

How else do you get to make new friends in such a short amount of time?

I tend to think that while certain relationships are fleeting, it’s all about living in the moment. Especially when those moments are also fleeting.

I love to travel

Some people are content right where they are. I’m not. I get bored easily. Places and faces grow stale after a while and in my mind there’s nothing sexy about knowing what’s around the corner. Whether I move down the block, across the state, across the country, to another country, the experience is always exhilarating. Sure getting on a plane to San Francisco, Italy, Greece, or some other yummy destination for your annual vacation is very nice. But it’s not the same thing as moving there. Nothing touches one more than going out of your comfort zone, way out there, setting up shop where you don’t know anyone and have to start from scratch. It’s tough stuff. It tells you exactly what you’re made of.

It keeps me young

Well it used to. I have to admit this last one was a killer. Since I’d sold off all my furniture traveling from California back to Florida and I have not as yet had the opportunity or the wherewithal to buy anything other than a bed, a desk, a chair and a laptop (all this writer girl actually needs, but that occasional person dropping by might not agree), I believed this would be a slam-dunk of a move. However, even the most diligent of movers could not have anticipated the elevator breaking down. And with a 95-degree sun beating down on our backs, hauling twenty boxes down four flights of steps, needless to say my son was not at all a happy camper. Nor was I.

maudit i love lucy my favorite episode

New doors open that weren’t open before

I have to admit in those early years I had no clue what to expect. Maybe that’s what makes it so grand, the unexpected. I knew I would eventually make new friends, find a new life wherever I went. However, what I came away with was so much than I could ever have imagined. In Forest Hills, NY (my first move), I found my sense of independence. I saw a glimmer of my older self. Who I was to become. In Guadalajara, Mexico, I found love. I lost love. In Florida, I found a family. In California I absorbed quite a few pearls of wisdom. Things I knew, things I’d forgotten along the way. We are who we are. No regrets. Love thyself, all of thyself. Lots of good stuff, without a doubt.

And now that I have come full circle back to Florida, I found the greatest gift of all. A baby named Cupcake. Need I say anything more on that one?

At this stage of the game, I have no idea how many more moves are in the cards for me. Only time will tell on that one, I suppose. That and perhaps a winning Lottery ticket (which I never buy). But in the meantime, here I stay. And with Cupcake’s second birthday coming up in a few days, here I definitely stay. Well, at least for a little while anyway.

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Book Club Tour Challenge Progress Report. Week Two. And Going Nuts.

In a word. Oy. I can’t believe it’s two weeks in, and I’m already pulling my hair out. I knew this thing wouldn’t be easy. I knew as a virtual unknown with little following in the literary world, that I had my work cut out for me. And I might not succeed at all in meeting my goal, getting all fifty states on board and visited within a year’s time. But I also knew I had the state of New Jersey in my back pocket right from the get-go, so I refused to let anything faze me. I approached this like I approach any other challenge I set for myself. With wide-eyed optimism and dummy donuts for breakfast.

donut girl

The idea for the video to get the ball rolling, came out of the blue. Like one of those lightbulb moments. And I loved it from the start. It was a project unto itself where I spent hours upon hours of time and putting on make-up that I wouldn’t normally bother with, while trying to have this mumbo jumbo two-minute script memorized so I wouldn’t keep looking off to the side every other second at my cheat sheet, like an bleepin’ idiot. But once I finally had it down pat, once I felt that it was as good as it was going to get, I released it. Again I was under no great illusion here that this would be my ticket to ride. That after a reasonable amount of time and people spreading the gospel that this cute little old lady author was available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs . . . that the other forty-nine other states that I did not have in my back pocket, would come banging down my door. Let alone knock.

Yes, I had a lot of shares, a lot of buzz and plenty of views over these past two weeks. But that’s it. And with time ticking (remember this challenge has a shelf life of 50 weeks), I immediately turned to Plan B: Meetup.com. In case you’re not yet familiar, this is the go-to website for anyone, anywhere looking for every conceivable type of social club or activity. A group to go hiking with, people to have drinks with, go to the movies with. Seriously, it’s great! When I moved to California not knowing a soul, it was a perfect way for me to meet new friends. And I did.

And now I believed it would also be a perfect way for me to go from state to state, introducing myself and my little book to as many clubs as I could find; all without ever leaving the house or changing my jammies.

In my mind, it couldn’t be any easier. Having so many opportunities right there at my fingertips, in such a centralized spot. It reminded me of the good ole days when I sold insurance for a living. Wow. Talk about pounding the pavement. Jesus. Un-believable. I would drive around for hours looking for business parks and literally go from door-to-door, in the hot Florida sun, all decked out in my professional skin: suit and heels. Just praying to God that someone would eventually feel sorry for me and buy something.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here a bit. I think the point I was trying to make is that I was so hungry to be successful, that I was willing to do anything. To put up with anything to get the job done. And despite the passage of time, I’m still that tenacious girl, and this job for me would be no different.

So I stuck to the plan. I created what I believed to be the perfect email. (I’m the writer, remember?) And day by day, in those spare clips of moments between editing my next book and helping take care of my granddaughter, I began to work my way through the website. Starting off though with the state of Florida for the simple reason that’s where I live. And as luck would have it, I found over ten clubs within a twenty-mile radius of my house. Wow. Another bonus, I remember thinking as I sent off the emails, as I waited and waited for a single reply. One day, three days past without hearing a word from any of the organizers. And when the fifth day came and went I began to get a little panicky. Thinking oh boy, something’s definitely wrong here. Maybe the emails didn’t go through. Maybe they got deleted somehow. And just as I was about to repeat the entire process all over again, because what else could I do, I finally received a response. A response I had not expected.

“Our club is meant for serious readers ONLY. Do not bother us again!”

Wow. If that didn’t burst my bubble, the next email that came a day later, sure as hell did.

“It is our club policy not to allow authors to attend our meetings. It’s too disruptive. I’m sorry.”

Too disruptive? Is she f**cking kidding me?

Needless to say, as much as I wanted to argue with the wall, I had no time or choice but to plow on. This was after all still my Plan B. A plan I still felt confident would work, complete with good odds, forty-eight other states to try, and a fresh batch of dummy donuts waiting for me on the table.

So on I went. Back to the computer. Doing an Internet search for the biggest cities in Alabama before proceeding once again over to the Meetup.com site. There I managed to locate one club in Birmingham, one in Mobile, and nothing, I mean nothing in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Dothan. This didn’t make me at all happy. But I shot off my whopping two emails anyway and repeated the process for Alaska and Arizona.

As you can imagine, Alaska isn’t exactly the book club capital of the world either, but Arizona certainly made up for the first two states, and in spades. Yielding over fifteen clubs. I was thrilled. And after I shot off all those emails, after I noted each club into the excel spreadsheet I’d created to keep track of all my doings, I began to feel as if the door was finally opening up, and things were heading in the right direction.

Yes, that was me yesterday afternoon at around 3:30 pm. All hopped up on those dummy donuts and giddy throughout the day and into the night. Right up until 8:00 pm when things went seriously south faster than Superman and a speeding bullet after I received an email from Meetup.com advising me that I could no longer use their site. My account was now shut down, locked out, and in other words sista, here’s the boot, screw you and go figure out another damn plan. Because this one . . . ain’t gonna fly.

I felt like crap. I could not believe this was the attitude and the perception I was now forced to face. How did I go from a million opportunities to zero in a blink? From easy peasy to what the hell do I do now to find all these clubs? I wanted to scream. Because honestly, nothing else seemed suitable for the occasion. Yes, perhaps I was having one of those melt-down, kick in the ass moments reminding me that nothing from nothing in this life ever comes easy. Especially those things worth having. Only I couldn’t concentrate on that. I couldn’t because I was still blinded and too caught up in my own small world of frustration to allow this wonderful message of resiliency to wrap itself around me.

But . . . that was yesterday. And today, well, like they say: it’s a whole new day. Another opportunity. Another chance to shine and make this thing happen. The only problem for me right now is, I seem to be coming up a little short on my next course of action. Plan C.

Any suggestions? I’m all ears.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr themanwho66

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