Saturday, September 17, 2016

Unusual Coworkers....

I spend my office hours working in a big home, equipped to house up to thirty survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse - in seven bedrooms of various sizes with creative bedding arrangements on one side and administrative/finance offices on the other. The house has two large kitchens, two spacious living rooms, four bathrooms, a laundry room, and an expansive yard. The organization for which I work acquired the house from the county nearly twenty years ago. It had been a hotbed for the local drug trade and some bad things went down inside its walls.

Until recently, the house bustled with those who lived there, healing themselves and figuring out how to begin again. Those of us whose pleasure it was to support them on their journey worked in the background. Kids ran the hallways, climbed the furniture, laughed, and shouted, doing all of the things that healthy kids do. (Time and again, I was amazed by the resiliency of youth. In spite of witnessing horrific violence, our young friends had the ability to open their hearts and trust strangers.) The house was almost never completely quiet; someone was up, watching TV or doing laundry or making food.

All of that changed.

The shelter is temporarily closed. Bedrooms are emptied of inhabitants and their meager, but treasured belongings. Hallways are dark and silent and the TVs disconnected.The washing machines that seemed to run 24/7 no longer rattle the floorboards beneath them. Cupboards are bare and the backyard swings sit motionless.

Only one person rattles around the house now. Well, that's not entirely true. Only one, flesh and blood person.

I share a seemingly empty house with at least a few other "people". That's how I chose to see them. At one time, they were just like you and me. They had families and jobs, looked forward to holidays and made weekend plans. Perhaps they've had difficulty making the transition from our world to theirs, or maybe they simply enjoy walking around the home they once called their own. Whatever the reason, we are sharing the space. I continue to search for the balance between being respectful of them while standing firm that I have work to do and don't want to be bothered.

These spiritual beings remind me of my children as preschoolers. They do as they please.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Follow The Light

I'm pleased to report that lots of good things are happening in my life. It was only a matter of time, I suppose. Nothing remains the same. Everything is in a constant state of change. That's both comforting and unsettling, isn't it?

The new beginnings began with a job that I love - one that requires almost no interaction with other humans. I'm once again working for the Domestic Abuse Shelter, but this time around I'm the finance person. Yeah, their only one. I work in a shelter that's temporarily closed to survivors, so I'm the only person working in a big, ole house. I play music and sing as I post adjustments to the financial system, process payroll, and pay the bills. It is the perfect indoor job for me. (My only complaint is that I no longer have a maintenance man to rely on. He put the hurricane shutters on at the end of August in preparation for the potential approach of a storm, then the shelter closed, and he relocated to Key West. So....I'm working in a house all day with covered windows. There is no natural light and I can't look outside. Weird, but they tell me they'll take them down in early December. By then I might be rather mole-like.)

After the job was secured, we found a great place to live. We are officially out of the jungle and away from its frightening inhabitants and back on the water. It feels so good to look out and see the ocean smiling at me. I missed being so close to her. I missed her smell and the calming affect she has on my soul. I can't imagine better therapy for sadness, restlessness, and anything else that might ail.

We still have a few boxes to unpack, but for the most part, we are settled and it already feels like home. I am content to just putter around the house moving things around until they seem happy. I'm very content here. Our jungle house was not a comfortable place to be; the bugs and scary things that lurked around the yard kept us inside all of the time. There was no view, except thick jungle and spider webs. Shortly after dusk each evening, spiders crept out from the dense foliage and covered our cars. They even made their way inside, only to show themselves while we drove, helpless to do much about it. That's over. No more nightly takeovers by those many-legged demons. We're graced with beautiful, salty breezes and a perpetual view of Mother Ocean.

The recklessness I felt has mostly subsided. Commitment doesn't seem to be an issue, either. I'm calm and happy and feel whole again.

I continue to follow the light.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Search Continues...

It probably shouldn't have come as a surprise, but it did. I'm not always as bright as I'd like to believe that I am.

Ending a twenty-three-year relationship causes a domino effect that impacts nearly every aspect of one's being. There are parts of me that I wasn't consciously aware of until they were thrown out of whack and then they began to re-calibrate and search for a new rhythm. Those unfamiliar pieces are incredibly distracting because they suddenly require attention and care. It's like waking up to find you have another arm or leg or a box full of kittens to take care of. Your wardrobe no longer fits properly and you're chasing demons in every direction.

It took years to make the decision to end a relationship that had spanned more than twenty years. It provided great times and babies and love. There was clear purpose and a plan. There was no fear of insufficient funds or doubt about the future. There was only contented happiness and security.

Things change. That's the simple truth. People change. That's also true. As I mature, I'm willing less willing to sacrifice my happiness and sense of right/wrong in order to keep the peace. To hell with the peace. There is no peace if I'm accepting less than I need/deserve in order to make someone else happy. That's crazy.

There is no blame. There is only here, where my decisions have brought me. This place is chaotic.

I find myself unable to commit to anything. Not a single thing - except the unending love for my children. Beyond that, I'm a loose cannon. I've had three crappy jobs in the past four months, each of them unsatisfying in different ways; poor pay, lack of challenge, crappy hours, ignoramus business owners, etc. You get the idea. Some of that is symptomatic of living on this island, but I take responsibility for a portion of it, too. I'm all over the place.

Let me share just one example. On my way to work Friday - which currently involves sitting at a desk in an air-conditioned office with a micromanaging, narcissist female boss who doesn't remember the direction she so specifically dished out four hours prior - I stopped at a newly-opened Starbucks because I saw an ad for managers (I'm not kidding). The place was packed with loud tourists, so I left. Then I swung into the delicious French cafe where my daughter works to shamelessly beg for a job while picking up an iced coffee. I was hoping to find a new job on the spot at almost any location and never return to the black hole that is currently my job.

Stop right there.

The Starbucks job and the cafe job would 1) pay less than my current situation; 2) involve dealing with the public, which probably isn't wise at this point in my evolution because I feel reckless; and 3) require working holidays, which we all know is unacceptable. So why did I do it? Good question.

I am unable to commit to a damn thing right now. I'd seriously cherish a job driving a garbage truck, a mail truck, or the mosquito truck. I'd jump at the opportunity to work in a bakery or prep food in a restaurant kitchen. I'd restock books at a library (if we had one that was bigger than a trailer) or perform data entry from my laptop. I'd walk dogs, house-sit, paint interiors, or care for plants in an outdoor nursery.

I just noticed a commonality among those positions. Did you see it? NOT dealing with others. (This is why I blog. It's really not for you, dear reader. It helps me to think and clear the mental cobwebs. Don't take it personally.) I don't want to be forced to interact and engage. Bam!

Why am I feeling so anti-social? I think it gets back to the first paragraph. I'm suddenly aware of pieces of me that are currently out-of-whack and until I figure out where they fit, I'm unwilling (or incapable) of dealing with other people's drama or lack of manners. I need to focus on me. That's all. I don't have space for anyone else right now. I just want to spend time rebuilding me.

So,.....I begin the search for a job in which I don't have to talk to anyone or be nice/cheerful/smiling when I'd rather be silent and think.

Suggestions and leads most welcome.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Great news came my way yesterday and I'm still grinning. Are you ready to hear it? Brace yourself for unprecedented happiness and joy.

My son's aircraft carrier - the USS Harry S Truman - is on its way back to home port from the Mediterranean, where it's been bombing the hell out of ISIS targets for the past nine months. Zak's on his way back to Norfolk!!!!!!

I've not seen his handsome face since late October 2015 when he and his beautiful girlfriend came home for a short visit. I've not heard my son's voice since early November when he called from the pier before the ship left port. I tried to be tough as I told him that it wouldn't be that bad, that time would go quickly, and that his six-year commitment to Uncle Sam was almost over. I realize now that I spoke those words for my benefit as much as his. I tried not to cry because he needed me to be strong, but I failed. We said goodbye through tears and hearing the call drop made my heart break. I've not heard his voice since then.

We go nearly a year - sometimes more than that - without being able to talk to/see him, so on those rare occasions when we do, it's pretty damn emotional for me. Peanut might be 24 years old, but he's still my baby boy and it hurts to go all the way around the sun without having him in my daily life. It's so great when I do get the opportunity to see him, but those visits are always very short. When they come to the inevitable screeching halt, I'm a sorry, hot mess. His last visit was no exception.

The day Zak and Kaley were scheduled to fly back to Norfolk so that he could report to the ship, I was physically ill and unable to hold back the tears...before they were even to the table for breakfast. Rather than hanging out while they packed and then waving from the front yard as they drove away - like a normal mom would have done - I said my tearful goodbye and hit the road. I drove and sobbed and ached on my own until they were gone, then I went home and held Lauren tightly before going to bed to cry myself to sleep.

Pathetic? Perhaps to some of you, but I happen to adore my children. I love being around them, listening to them, and laughing with them. Enduring a year or more without either of them is truly painful. The infrequent reunions are sweet, but the unavoidable goodbyes hurt worse each time.

Hopefully, that's about to change! I think this should be Peanut's last lengthy deployment. His enlistment ends in February 2017, so with the exception of a few short deployments between now and then, he should be able to keep both feet on solid ground, which means that I should be able to hear his voice on the phone and one day soon (not soon enough), I'll be able to wrap my arms around him again.

I'm proud of you, Peanut. I love you and can't wait to see your cute little face.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The past two weeks have been a roller coaster of ups and downs, unpredictably alternating between exhilaration and stomach-churning. It's not surprising, really, when you consider that twenty-three years of something that was once quite wonderful came to an official end. Endings can be difficult and this one certainly fell into that category. I mourned that ending, but that, too, is over.

After getting furloughed in early May, I spent the next six weeks in a professional funk. Unable to find a full-time position with benefits, I took whatever jobs I could find to keep money coming in. There are these pesky things called bills that don't stop coming in just because you lose your job. The landlord and the car insurance folks don't care about your employment status. They want their damn money, honey. So, I kept telling myself, "Chin up, girl, it's only temporary", while I worked two part-time jobs that I didn't love. In fact, I'll admit that I really disliked one of them, but it was money and a momma does what a momma has to do. Even my sweet baby girl found a full-time job. (When we figured out that she was earning more at 17 yrs old than I could make at 48, I really felt good about myself.) After a particularly bad day at the restaurant, when I came home with empty pockets because not a single beer drinker came in, I was just plain worried that we might end up living in our car. I didn't sleep much that night.

Monday morning, before I left for work, I applied online to an ad on Craig's List. The owner of the company called later that afternoon, but I wasn't able to answer because I was looking at an empty restaurant, wondering how Lauren, Bear, and I would all live in my car. Thankfully, the night was busy and I made great money and went home feeling more positive about our future. I returned the call on Tuesday morning and was asked to interview.

I'm proud to say that I accepted a new job with a nice little business about ten miles from home. I'm excited to go back to a professional setting and work with professional people. The pay can't compare to federal government pay in DC, of course, but it's good for the Keys. The best part is that it's consistent and reliable and there's potential for growth. (I'm not talking about my dress size, either. That's a given.) We will not have to live in a car!

In celebration of my new gig, I dumped the crappiest of my part-time jobs toute suite. Sayonara. Adios. Au Revoir. Good riddance. That felt really good. I wanted to quit twice, just to experience the joy more fully, but they wouldn't take my call. Huh. Odd.

So I go into the 4th of July weekend full of positivity and hope for the future. On this Independence Day, my freedom has new meaning. My life has new meaning. I am free. I am independent. Every choice I make will be my own. I will do only what I want to do. If it makes me unhappy, I just won't do it. What a fucking concept!!!

Embrace your personal freedom, readers!!! Celebrate Independence Day with a bang. (You may interpret that however your little ole heart desires.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tears from above

Yesterday, I did one of the hardest things I've ever done. I divorced the man to whom I'd been married for most of my adult life. A man in whom I'd placed all my trust, love, and devotion. When we got married, I knew it would be forever because we both understood the importance of working hard to keep a relationship strong and healthy.

Unlike all of the other couples waiting in the courtroom for their time before the magistrate, we sat next to each other. We waited together while others exchanged sneering, snarling looks across the room. We took turns crying while the other held it together.

When called to the front of the court room, we stood next to each other at the podium, rather than on opposite sides of the aisle. We provided the court with a dissolution agreement. Nothing was being disputed; there wasn't anything for the judge to sort out or settle.

"Ms. Lavell, since you were the petitioner, will you please tell the court why this marriage can't be saved?"

I began to cry. "Not without crying."

The judge looked like she, too, might cry. Doug was way ahead of her. "Irreconcilable differences?" she asked with a sad smile.

I nodded.

Less than two minutes later, it was over. The judge told us that sometimes people turn out to be better friends after divorce than they were while married. We walked out together, just as we'd walked in.

Outside the courthouse, we were greeted with a torrential downpour. I'd left my car windows open. My cloth seat was a soggy, wet sponge upon which I sat while I cried all the way home with the windows still open.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


I've done a wee bit of attitude adjusting since my last post, although rest assured I still have one, but today it's more positive than it was a week or so ago. That's due in part to Lauren who always brightens my day with her unconditional, adoring love and cuteness. Some is due to friends near and far who tickle my funny bone, which we all know is my favorite cure for whatever ails. Then there's Ireland. She's there, waiting for my inevitable return.

Lauren and I have been tossing around the idea of when to go. I'm working two part-time jobs (while faithfully searching for a full-time one with benefits), and now that school is out, she too is working two jobs. While we'd really like to touch down in the Motherland this summer, it's just not a realistic goal. We talked about going at Christmastime, but that presents a host of other challenges that make it less than ideal. So....we've settled on a spring break visit!!

March 2017 = Ireland

Buy the t-shirt while they last. It promises to be one hell of an adventure!! It will be our last trip of her high school years. Whoa. That in and of itself is a milestone, but add to that recipe for greatness that we're doing it in the Emerald Isle and shazam!

But that's not all!

We're going to first fly to Italy or Spain or France or (insert name of EU country here), buy euro-rail passes, and explore some new places for a few days...just to broaden our horizons and build the anticipation. Then we'll fly to Eire (Ireland) to be cradled in her green embrace.

With that beautiful daydream in mind, I'm off to sling fish sandwiches and beers all weekend in a dive by the sea. We can't go without the dough.

Have a helluva great weekend, readers. May you dream big and bold!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Fish Bowl

I grew up in what I thought was a small town. Looking back, it wasn't really that small. For those of you unfamiliar with my hometown of BrockVegas, NY, please bear with me while I toss out names of local businesses. Not knowing them won't really impact your ability to understand my rant any more than usual. My rants are often unclear. Buckle up. This one could be a doozy.

Back to my hometown; We considered it small. Sure you'd run into people you knew at Wegmans, Canal Side, or Friendly's, but everyone enjoyed a decent measure of privacy. We learned to strategically plan excursions to avoid those we didn't want to bump into. You could hold a position at one business and apply for one at another without the owners 1) knowing each other, and 2) discussing who was more entitled to/in need of your employment. For example, if while working for Lakeside Memorial Hospital, I applied for a position at Brockport HS, my supervisor at the hospital wouldn't get a phone call the minute my application hit the principal's desk. It just didn't/doesn't work that way.

Living and working in the Florida Keys - especially Islamorada - is completely different. Not for the first time since moving here, did I discover that other people know more about my life than I do. (In case you're on the fence about that particular phenomenon, it's not a pleasant experience.) If you're familiar with Kenny Chesney's song, "Welcome To The Fish Bowl", then you've been afforded a brief glimpse into island life and this aspect of it sucks moose balls. (Also not a pleasant experience, based on what I've read.)

Do you know what frosts my ass more than other people making decisions that affect my livelihood without my input/ability to choose what's best for me? I'll wait while you guess.

Time's up. What's worse is not being able to bitch about it in my own damn blog! I'm not free to express myself because exposing this type of ridiculous behavior will surely result in a series of closed doors and I can guarantee that within fifteen minutes of posting this, the repercussions would begin. I can't afford that right now, so I'll keep my big, Irish pie hole shut.

Just wait for the next book....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Pickle Barrel

I read somewhere that when everything seems to be going wrong, great things are on the horizon. What's happening is that old energy is clearing out so that new energy can enter. I've no idea if that's true, but I sure as hell hope so, because lots of things just don't seem to be going right lately. I know, I know. Lots of people have it a lot worse than I do, and I should be counting my blessings instead of complaining.

I'm not actually complaining, though. I'm noticing and commenting on what's happening. How else to share my thoughts with you?

I'm sure your reason for stopping by my blog is to be entertained - no one likes a Debbie Downer - but this is my blog and you readers can't always have it your way. This isn't Burger King. I usually make an effort to throw a giggle or two your way, but not so much today. I'll do better with the next post, but for now, just let me get this crap off my chest.

 - My living arrangements are troublesome because I know that soon Lauren and I will need to find another place to live. The lease on this place is up on October 1st, so we'll be searching for another home at the height of the season...along with the snow birds...when rent costs are jacked up because of the high demand. It weighs heavily on my mind.
- I lost my job in early May, and have been told by a potential employer that I'm "over qualified". That's ridiculous. What am I supposed to do? Dumb down my resume and pretend that I don't know how to do the things that I'm really good at? I've found a part-time job two days a week...yeah. That job will maybe buy groceries, but nothing more.
- I'm still waiting to be paid a month's wages from the last job. None of us have been paid. One former colleague has filed a lawsuit and others have gone to the media with our story. I've contacted the Department of Labor, but still no relief. It's insane to think that our staff could go six weeks without getting paid - and still go to work every day because we believed in our mission - and here we are three weeks after being furloughed, and we still haven't been paid.
- There's the car situation, caused by the lady who ran a red light an hit Lauren. (What really matters is that my baby girl wasn't hurt. The rest will sort itself out.)
- Then there's the damn lake house that I rented in Old Forge for Memorial Day Weekend to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday. We can't afford to go now. Although the house is already paid for, we'd still have to pay airfare, rental car, gas, and food. I can't use the house, but I can't find someone to take off my hands. Money down the drain makes me cranky. Especially now.

There's more, but you get the idea. I'm almost always a happy-go-lucky person who doesn't ever feel stressed. I used to say, "I don't believe in stress." I'm always the one reminding others to be patient because it'll all work out. Hmmm.

I guess it's my turn in the pickle barrel.

I typically don't allow myself to dwell on these obstacles, but today they seem overwhelming. I'm a strong woman. I can do what needs to be done to provide for my daughter and myself, but sometimes it would be nice not to HAVE to be strong all the damn time. Sometimes, I think I'd like to be able to lay these problems down and let someone else be strong for a while.

Enough bitching. Get back to your weekend chores and be thankful you have all that you do. Or else.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Remembering Big Len

Last week marked nine years since my Dad, affectionately known to some as Big Len, left this world and made it a few shades less colorful. Tomorrow would have been his 88th birthday. Rather than tell you what a wonderful, giving, selfless man he was (many of you already know that), I'm going to share some examples of the colorful way he expressed himself. Big Len was a bit like Archie Bunker (I'm dating myself), in that he often didn't get words or phrases quite right. Whenever I hear my Dad talking in my head, these are some of the things he says that make me smile:

  • Chesterfield - this is a sofa if you were born in Canada or have a bunch of Canucks for relatives
  • Davenport - this also means sofa
  • Down celler - this is a basement
  • Tamata - tomato
  • Patata - potato
  • Punkin - pumpkin
  • Asparagris - yes, he called it that
  • Dungarees - pants
  • Up-To - as in, "We were up to Wegmans when I got a bad case of gas"
  • Hots - hot dogs
  • Lull - this means slow...Goom called Dad this when we played cards
  • Leonard Box - she also called him this. I never understood the origin, but it made Mom and Gooma laugh their arses off
  • Harvest Frog - as in, "her has is bigger than a harvest frog's"
  • Grand Old Opra - actually the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
  • Fresh - this meant either a heifer was knocked up or or that I was being mouthy
  • Schafer bugs - Japanese beetles
  • Scours - cow diarrhea
  • Cow flop - normal cow poop
  • Doc - a nick name my Dad earned after attempting to fix some male calves by putting rubber bands around their nuts...he missed one and that dude got Dad's whole herd "fresh"
  • Ungion - onion
  • Reddish - radish
  • Brass Monkey - as in, "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a..."
  • Pick Stone - I dreaded hearing this phrase each involved picking up gravel from the sides of the driveway that had been misplaced by the snow plow during the winter...we picked it up piece by piece, dumped it in buckets until they were full, then dumped it back into the driveway and began again
  • Pick Walnuts - whatta you think?
  • Get Your Ass Behind You - directions given to my brothers when using a wrench, Dad didn't swear around me until I was over thirty years old
  • Cukes - cucumbers, which Dad ate in a sandwich on buttered white bread
  • Son of a Seapup - SOB
  • Chicken Ass Mary - referring to a woman with a big caboose
  • Up south/Down north - I don't know....
  • Silver Bells - if you never heard my Dad sing this while dancing in our living room, then you haven't truly lived
  • Grand Pricks - the car...grand prix
  • Thousand Islands - not the location, but the salad dressing
  • Like Two Pigs Wrestling Under a Blanket - another way to describe a large butt

There are endless others but you get the idea.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope you're enjoying hots and pop with Goom, surrounded by all those that went before you, as well as those that came later. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hired or Fired?

I interviewed with a company today for whom I'd really like to work. I see potential for job satisfaction and professional growth. The interview went well and walked away feeling like it was mine. Towards the end of the interview, I was given a personal assessment to complete. The first section requires one to select the aspects that one believes others expect them to portray. The second section requires one to select the aspect that one believes are their true personality. I was as honest as I could be.

As part of the interview feedback, the company sent my results, based on my responses. The analysis was frighteningly accurate given the amount of information I provided. I am concerned that these results may give a potential employer cause to think again before hiring me. I welcome your thoughts.

"Patti is a distinctly independent and individualistic person, strong-minded and determined. Venturesome, she will stick her neck out and take responsibility for risks when she believes she's right. She finds the challenge of new challenges and new problems stimulating and responds to them with action. She has a lot of confidence in herself, her own ability, knowledge, and decisions.

Patti is an ingenious and innovative problem-solver and trouble-shooter. She has an actively inquiring mind, a lively interest in the technical aspects of her work, and a need to know more and learn about the systems, techniques, fact, and concepts involved in it. She will drive hard to get things done her way, and quickly. A self-starter, she initiates, makes decisions, and assumes responsibility for them. She has a strong, competitive drive, is ambitious, and will drive herself hard to her goals. Her sense of urgency and drive for results will put pressure on others as well as herself.

In expressing herself, she is direct, factual, outspoken, and frank. Her approach to others is authoritative, telling, and if she encounters resistance or competition, aggressive. Always concerned with timely results, she deals with ambiguous situations briskly and firmly.

Because she has a broad focus on goals and results, she prefers to delegate details to others. Quick and fairly accurate in handling details herself, she becomes very impatient and less accurate in performing work which requires routine and repetitive handling of details at a slow of systematic pace."

The aggressive and competitive talk could prove fatal, as well as the words "outspoken" and "frank". Those aren't exactly qualities that every employer is looking for or wants to deal with on a daily basis.

By the way, don't call me Frank. My name is Patti, although I'll answer to "Doll" if you say it properly.

Clearly, what that damned thing failed to capture is my glorious, unending sense of humor and love of all furry creatures and sea mammals. Oh, and my love of Sean Connery and Buck Owens. They were also left out and are very important aspects of my personality.

So what if I punch in the throat those who have it coming? Is that a reason not to hire me? I'm forever loyal to those who earn it.

Not sure where things stand, except that I feel compelled to compete with myself for different results tomorrow....

Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Spite of the Miles

I gladly count myself among the fortunate souls blessed with friendships that not only stand the test of time, but the challenge of distance. I have friends that I've known almost my entire life (like my BFF whom I met when we were three), others since junior high, and still others that I didn't connect with until my adult years. The best friendships, in my opinion, are those that can be counted on to continue in spite of job/family responsibilities or the side affects of life choices.

Specifically, I'm talking about a friendship that began for me as a powerful teenage crush. It was rather one-sided, I admit, but it provided some sweet memories nonetheless. After high school, I moved to Washington DC and it was well over twenty years before we reconnected. Thoughts of that person had crossed my mind now and again and those warm memories never failed to make me laugh (another sign of a powerful friendship), but there were no words exchanged until we were (in theory) grown and responsible adults.

It was during the aftermath of my first book that we found each other face-to-face once again. I was dressed in a nun's habit...but that's another story. The belly laughing and playful banter came as easily as if we'd been doing it for years. That spark, that connection with another soul, is the magic of which I speak. (Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm not talking solely of sexual relationships with the boys of summer; this phenomenon happens on all levels). It's those types of connections that remain powerful in spite of years without communication and thousands of miles of highway.

I am truly grateful to share these kinds of timeless connections with a handful of people. You know who you are. I am happy to call you friends and I thank you for sharing yourself with me.

Enough sappy shit. It's happy hour.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I sometimes look around to see if there's a film crew camouflaged nearby, just there to record the craziness that has become my daily existence. I've yet to spy one, but often suspect they're out there, hiding in the mangroves and bougainvillea. Don't get me wrong; I'm not claiming to have an exciting or desirable life. It's just been one weird event after another lately and it makes me wonder who is getting joy out of watching me bumble from one mess to the next.

Hmmm, I suppose it's vain to think that anyone would be interested in my bumbling. Oh well. I must be vain, then, because I'm sure someone/something is enjoying this.

Some of my recent challenges have been brought on by life choices and were mostly predictable, if I'm being honest. (And there's really no point in being anything else. This is my blog and those who don't like my truths will move along.) Some recent hurdles were not predictable at all and I'm still reeling from the latest kick in the pants.

Tuesday night, the agency for which I work was descended upon by employees of an aggressive, power-hungry ghoul from Tallahassee. They rescinded our certification and shut us down. All of the staff, including our brilliant, hard-working CEO, were furloughed and kicked off property. Tallahassee is calling it a furlough, but the truth is that they've replaced all of us with a new staff and we'll never be rehired. There was no warning, although it became crystal clear when this went down that the Capital has been planning this take-over for quite some time. It seems that our CEO's leadership and reputation for excellence was making those to the north a bit uncomfortable.

Each of the staff is experiencing shock on some level and it's interesting to see how differently we handle it. Those who've worked there for more than fifteen years are grieving as if they'd lost a family member. Those with fewer years under their belt are more focused on the financial implications. I'm somewhere in between. I strongly believe in our mission and...I like to get paid because I like to eat...and drink wine.

I suppose there's never a convenient time to become unemployed, but at this point in my life, this could hardly be considered convenient. Fear not, good readers! I have an interview tomorrow at 10:30am and another on Tuesday at 9am! If you'd be willing to walk around with your fingers, arms, legs, and eyes crossed for positive outcomes, I'd be most appreciative.

Until then, I'll be keeping an eye out for the hidden camera crew....

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Are you familiar with the transition of having known someone intimately who slowly becomes someone you once knew? I suppose it's happened to all of us, whether with a friend, lover,or sibling. It's a curious thing to me right now because I am experiencing it with multiple people. Some of these changing relationships are painful, others not so much, but they point to one thing for certain; I am the common denominator. These transitions are unfolding because of things I've said and/or decisions I've made. Make no mistake about that. I am the cause and I don't claim to be a victim. There is a weight to that realization, which is at times, an uncomfortable burden. At others, I don't feel it much at all. No surprise, I like it better when I don't feel it.

I've known people - mostly women - who get to a point in their lives where they just seem to stop caring about what others think or what others expect of them. If it doesn't feel good, they don't do it and they are without apology. They stop trying to please everyone else and begin to start doing what makes them happy. I have arrived at that particular station. It took forty-eight years, but I'm here.

I don't think it's uncommon for women my age to become aware that they've lost themselves (or parts of themselves) along the way. While trying to be the best parent, spouse, sibling, employee, etc, some of us get a little lost.

Before you get your panties in a bunch, I'm not saying that I've stopped loving my family or wanting them to be happy. Calm yourself. I still plan to take care of my babies as best I can, but I will no longer do things I don't like doing. (Again, relax. I'll still go to work and pay my bills. Try to follow along.).....  I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky person. I love to laugh and be silly and feed people. However, I've been known to attend functions that I dreaded just because it was expected of me. I've spent hours upon hours with people that I truly don't enjoy being with because they are happiness vampires (they live to suck the joy out of life) - because they invited me for dinner and I felt obligated to join. I don't plan to be rude or unkind to anyone, but if I don't want to do it, I won't. If it doesn't feel good, I'm no longer going to engage.

Does that sound selfish? Oh well. Color me as you see fit.

Will there be meetings I'd rather skip, but have to attend? Of course. Will I be able to avoid the grocery store forever? No.

Try to keep up.

I'm not talking about things like laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping. I'm talking about not allowing people to manipulate me through guilt or a sense of obligation. I speak to not pretending that everything is rosy if, in fact, it sucks sweaty moose balls. I'm referring to ending relationships - however intimate they may be - with people who don't treat me with the respect and love I need. Seems obvious, right? It sounds easier to do that it actually is because our "jobs" (expectations as a spouse/parent/child/employee) dictate a lot of what we do.

What does this mean? Who the hell knows. I feel like I should be performing a Monty Python skit to better articulate what I'm trying to say.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Bumpy Ride?

I recently commented that my life seems to be paralleling the lives of at least one of the fictitious characters in my latest book. While it may sound intriguing to some of you on that side of the fence, it's down-right frightening at times from over here. I'm not searching for sympathy, just capturing my thoughts. If you've gleaned nothing from reading my blog (how presumptuous I can if you read this crap), you'll have probably figured out that putting my thoughts "on paper" is one of the only ways to clear my mind and allow me to focus on the things that require me to be present. (Like being a parent and doing my job.)  This blog kept me sane for quite some time and then I didn't post for a year. You do the math.

Having provided that background, I can - with a decent amount of certainty - assure you that I'm not insane, although one never really knows for sure...let's take into account my childhood. Oh shit. Perhaps I AM a nutter. Well, there's no helping me now.

Very recently, I altered the way I'm living; quite drastically. Life is about trade-offs. (Well, it's about more than that, of course. There's pizza and beer and Sean Connery, but I'm focusing on trade offs for now.) If you want this, then you have to forego that. It's pretty straightforward, really.

Recent decisions about what I'm willing to live with and what I'm not will no doubt become my defining moments for this decade.

What happens next is really up to me, isn't it? Whoa. That's a powerful realization. Buckle up, kids. We might be in for a bumpy ride.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I'm baaacckkkkk

It's been a year since my last post. A year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. You get the idea. It's been a long, damn time.

Before I launch into a Christmas card-like essay and what's been going on (complete with pictures of children, pets, and vacations to bore you), I'll suggest that you take a moment and consider where you were/what you were doing last spring. What's transpired in your life since then? Have there been major hurdles and/or changes? No doubt, there have been. It's what the experts call living life. Trust me. I once read about it on Facebook.

I'll spare you the drama and details, because let's face it, who wants to listen to that crap anyway? Instead, I'll share a thunderbolt-to-the-head moment that occurred to me just this afternoon. You may recall that I've written a third book. I'm still in the editing process (does that ever end?) while searching for an agent. Stop rolling your eyes. It could happen. Stranger things do. Each and every day.

As I sat at my laptop rewriting a sentence that felt clunky, I was punched in the face by a realization that escaped me until that moment. (You can't use this kind of language when you're a Victim Advocate or work in a Domestic Abuse Shelter, but since I'm home, I'm going for it.) The book that I began two years ago about fictional people living their crazy lives in the Keys is now a mirror reflection of my life in many ways. No kidding. It was mind-blowing and nothing less when that realization hit. Many of the things that I'd "made up" have actually taken place/are unfolding in my own life. The parallels are unsettling and yet compelling.

Perhaps I should change the ending before it's too late?