Stormy Seas

Well.  In case you don’t have news of any kind for some strange reason, the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean are currently being ravaged by hurricanes.  Right now my home and family are pretty much in the direct path of one of the most devastating storms in history – and I’m thousands of miles away, unable to do anything.

This is not the first time I’ve had to watch and wait and pray they are okay from afar. Thirteen years ago (lucky number!) I watched helplessly from my dorm room in Georgia as Ivan skirted across Florida, as Frances crept up on it, and as Jeanne gave it a double whammy.  In fact, riding out Hurricane Frances with my family was one of the reasons I moved back to Florida.
I even made this whole story about it for my final class project before leaving the school.

 

This is, however, the first time I’ve had to watch it from afar while owning a house there. The idea of losing everything while you can’t do anything about it, is simultaneously terrifying and rallying.

I’ve always found that extreme situations kick me more into gear than anything else.  I secretly enjoy less devastating hurricanes (I stood by through Katrina in Florida, Rita, and Wilma), and I get a little excited every time I have a medivac at work.  It’s not that I enjoy seeing people get hurt.  I think it’s just that at that point I finally feel useful, like I have a purpose, something worthwhile that I can do.  Not many of my skills are directly useful in typical humanitarian ways, but organizing and logistics has always been a strong suit of mine.

In the past year, I lost my job, my dog, and my love.  Now, I sit here on the verge of possibly losing my house, and pretty much everything I own, and in the very same week get a new job offer.  But somehow, part of me is still not satisfied.

How can I even claim to be suffering when so many places have just been completely destroyed?  Many of the islands I’ve spent so many days on are practically gone.  My work has somehow always felt selfish in a way.  Cruise ships will change itineraries, go to less damaged islands, but how does that help those people who depended on their business for so long and now need it most?  I had the idea today that it would be wonderful if someone would charter a cruise ship to bring volunteers and supplies to some of the islands they are so used to visiting but that are now destroyed.  It would certainly be good PR!

At the end of the day, we have to remember that what is important is people.  Not money, not homes, not fast cars and smart phones and Apple Watches, but people (okay, and puppies).  I can’t claim that I’ve done much with my life thus far, but if I could do something good that even just one person will remember forever, I will feel better.  At this cross roads in my life, I might have that chance.  But for now, we must wait and see.

 

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Objective Representation

Have you ever felt that a certain inanimate object represents you? Maybe you dreamed it, or saw it and felt a connection?  For the past few years, I have had just that.

I was visiting an old fortress in Spain, and from a turret you could look down at the water and see a little red dinghy just floating there.  For some reason, I connected to this red dinghy, I knew how it felt.  I’ve made drawings where I semi-consciously inserted a red dinghy on some body of water, to represent myself in the scene.  I have a few photos of various little red boats from all over the world, some moored, some floating, some motorized, some beached or overturned.  Can I say why this represents me?  Not a clue. Perhaps it is a similar feeling of “being adrift”?  I’m open to any interpretations though.

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Do you have an object you feel represents you? Please share in the comments!

Not Yet Independence Day

In one of my many online classes, someone (who had lived all over Europe before going to college in the US) brought up a very good point about cultural differences.  In most places in Europe, as a kid/teenager she pointed out that you can independently take your bike, bus, or train to go places.  The older you get, the farther you can venture.  In most places in the US, however, this is not the case.  She came to the US and felt helpless and stuck.  In the US, we have carpools and soccer moms.  There is hardly any independence anywhere until you get a driver’s license (then possibly too much independence!).  From what I have seen in children lately, it gets worse and worse.  Kids nowadays don’t seem to know how to do anything on their own.  It is my recent experience that this critical lesson in independence (and common sense!) translates into adulthood as well… or maybe it’s just a generational thing…..

Things We Like

You know the song “These are a few of my favorite things”?  Well imagine if everyone you knew wrote a verse for the song….  it would look something like this: About.  I just stumbled across this fantastic idea.  If you’re at all like me, and love making lists, you’ll want to check out this site.

 

 

The Grass is NOT Always Greener

It seems that lately I come across many people who make assumptions about me and my life without any real knowledge of the things they are assuming.  When you work with people from all over the world, this happens quite frequently.  For me, this helps put things in greater perspective.  Other people, however, seem to forget that there are two sides to every coin.  For everything there is a tradeoff.  The world has to maintain balance somehow.

Let’s take the simple example of climate where people live.  People seem to hold living in Florida against me.  This isn’t meant to be some political global warming propaganda, just simple, time-tested truth.

 

“O you’re from Florida, you can’t handle the cold.”

There are so many things wrong with this statement, or any like it.  First off, because I’m FROM Florida, doesn’t mean I have always lived there.  If you took the time to know me, instead of judging me, you would know that I lived in New England for three years where I slid down a snowy hill on a trash can lid in a pink snow suit.  But thank you for making an assumption.  Secondly, we are having this conversation in Alaska, which is reasonably cold.  Think I did alright there.  I handled Norway and the northernmost city in the world just fine too.  Thank you for asking.

Now, you joke about me not being able to handle the cold, but can you handle the heat?  Have you ever been to Florida in August?  Just because it’s nice when you’re there in December/January thinking it’s a great escape from you snowy land, try coming back in August and then we’ll talk.  We might not have to shovel our cars out of the snow to get to work, but we generally have to put a towel over our seats to not take off the skin when we sit on them.  Or how about having to take four showers a day because the minute you walk outside, you’re covered in sweat again.  Or how about being told not to even go outside because the UV index is so high.  I wonder how your snow-white skin would fare in our August sun.

And rain; don’t even get me started on rain.  “O it rains every day here, you’ll absolutely hate it.”

Again, have you ever been to Florida?  It rains every day here too.  In fact, you can almost time the rain.  The nickname “Sunshine State” is such a misnomer.  Did you know that Florida is actually the lightening capital of the world?  Then there’s the whole other issue of an entire season called HURRICANE SEASON.  So yes, we don’t lose power and miss school for blizzards, but we do lose power and miss school for hurricanes.  Have you ever been put under “24-hour” curfew for 72 hours and stuck with your entire family in a house with no TV, no internet, no phone, no lights, and, worst of all, no A/C – in 96F/34C temperatures?  Have you had to bathe in a swimming pool and boil water to brush your teeth to go to work because you had no running water when there was no power to run your electric well pump?  Long story short, it rains in Florida too.

 

 

This is just an easy example that everyone should be able to understand.  I don’t know at what point it became trendy to “one down” each other.  “O, I have it so much more difficult than you.  You don’t have to deal with A, B, & C!”  Ok, yes, maybe.  But I do have to deal with X, Y, & Z.  Everyone has something they have to deal with.  Just because it might not be the same as what you deal with, doesn’t mean it is any less difficult.

Bottom line, don’t judge people based on where they’re from – especially if it’s not even a place that you have been (tourist trap towns do NOT count!)  You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME.

Packing

I’ve spent just over the past year of my life packing and unpacking and repacking.  Constantly trying to organize and compartmentalize my belongings.  Dresses in this box, shoes in that box, books in this one.  I try to make my belongings smaller and smaller each time I come home.  At some point, I started compartmentalizing my life too.  Family over there, school friends over here, ship friends on Facebook.  It gets hard to balance all those boxes.  Some people get more time than others, and not always the ones who deserve it.  It seems the bigger my life gets, the smaller I try to make it because it’s the only way to balance it all.  The more people I meet, the more people I lose touch with.  Maybe that’s just the natural cycle of things.  The people who are meant to stay part of my life will. The rest will fade. Who can say who will fall into which box. Certainly though, it’s a two way street.

Right Thing, Wrong Reasons?

President Obama has decided to support Gay Marriage- it has been the headline three days in a row now. While I support gay marriage, I do it because I actually believe in it, not because it’s my best chance at reelection. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that he is unsure of his decision over it. Would we rather have a president who does the right things for the wrong reasons, or who does wrong things (or rather, things we do not agree with) but fully believes in them???

Music Choice

I’ve been contemplating for weeks choices on music preferences and when we actually become conscious of them.  For the past few years, I had been listening to mostly country music, which was a bit of a change from my alternative rock days and my pop princess days before that.  Letely, however, I have been listening more and more to the “Adult Contemporary” stations, which is, I suppose, a combination of bubblegum pop and alternative rock with perhaps a little bit a dancey rap thrown in.  I started wondering why these changes occur?  Is it because of who we hang out with at the time?  Or what we do?  Or is it really just an evolution of who we are?  All of these things boiled down to one thing:  What made me consciously change my music preferences?

When I was a kid, I mostly listened to Oldies.  I listened to the likes of Elvis and the Beach Boys and other pop-rock icons from the 50s and 60s.  I remember going for an MRI when I was 8 and the technician asked what radio station I would like on the headphones, I said U92 (the oldies station at the time) and they were kind of surprised.  This was the only music I really knew, it was what my parents listened to and what we sang in the chorus performance at school.

Then came the 1997 Nickelodeon Big Help A Thon.  Even as a kid, I was a hippie, so of course loved the Big Help concept.  This specific performance, however, introduced me to what are still my two favorite bands today: Sister Hazel and Barenaked Ladies.  And I remember when they were first announced to take the stage I thought they were both girl bands!  So began my everlasting love of 90s pop rock.  (Shortly after this I got my first CD: No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom).

In 1998, all my girl friends were obsessed with the Backstreet Boys and NSync.  Having always considered myself a “rocker”, I refused to buy into it.  That is, until I saw NSync performing at EPCOT for the Very Merry Christmas Parade.  It was a small gathering of around 60 people around a small stage that we happened to be there on a field trip during.  And I was hooked.   A few months later I saw the Backstreet Boys at what was my first real concert ever, and the next year some friends and I even made a video to try and meet NSync on MTV’s Fanatic.  I was, I will admit, a teeny bopper.

Throughout most of high school I secretly stayed a teeny bopper listening to boy and girl pop bands as they faded into history while all of my friends were “discovering” bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead.

Then I went to a small preppy college in Georgia.  Here, my pop princess side was squashed and I was forced to listen to the likes of Dave Matthews Band (which I still never really got into) and was introduced to country (a love which lay mostly dormant until about 10 years later when I started line dancing).

So while every chapter in my life I am changing and expanding my musical tastes, I will probably always come back to those bands I saw while I was still so young and impressionable.  Maybe it’s because they take us back to a less complicated time in our lives.  Maybe it’s because they really do write great timeless music.  Maybe it’s because some bands know how to evolve with us.  Whatever it is, I bet everyone, regardless of how many different genres of music they listen to, has that one moment in their life when they legitimately became aware of music as more than just a noise in the background.  I’d love to hear your moments!

 

Don’t Judge Me!

For those of you who don’t know, this weekend was Gasparilla Pirate’s Fest, Tampa’s own little version of Mardi Gras (only better because it’s pirate themed!) I had the fortune to be in the parade this year (which was always on my list even though I don’t think I ever wrote it).  I’m not sure who drinks more, the people in the crowds or on the floats? Either way, ya start early and go all day!  I was smart enough to crap out early though because I had to work early the next day (a sunday when most people had off).

At my job, we are required to suggest margaritas to every table, even if they clearly don’t want them.  And when they say “No”, we’re pretty much supposed to force them down their throats anyways (at least that’s what the company would like).  So around noon on sunday, I am waiting tables.  I get one that clearly looks like they just came from church (a generalization about our church people- they think they are high and mighty because they went to church and you clearly were not allowed to and then they sit at your table for hours and leave you no tip (except maybe a ‘Jesus Saves’ card)  because they think you are so much beneath them you should be their slave, but I digress).  I do my usual schpiel, ask them if they want a margarita, and the lady gives me the stank eye and goes “what, this early?!” in a voice like I had just asked her to commit murder.  Hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere!  I wanted to say “honey, this time yesterday I was already 6 shots in!”  But, I held my tongue and waited 20 minutes for them to be ready to order.  All the while she stared at me like I had the plague and she was afraid she might catch it.  If you think servers are so much beneath you, cook your own damn food!

I guess it is somewhat hypocritical of me to judge them with all the other church people- but I was right- they sat there for another 2 hours, their kids made a mess everywhere, and they left like $3.  I, on the other hand, drank all the day before, remembered everything I did, and was not even hung over the next day and managed to do my job just fine.  So who fit their stereotype better?  At the end of the day, people are constantly judging you no matter what.  It’s my goal to constantly prove them wrong (yes I really am 26, yes I really do have a genius IQ, yes I do speak 3ish languages), but damn it’s hard work!!!

Haaaaaave You Met Ted?

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks ago? The one about choosing one word to describe yourself? This one here (in case you missed it). I had always used the word “eclectic”, sometimes even “eccentric”, to describe myself. In the post I also decided the word “genuine” would be a good fit. Recently, thanks to my aforementioned watching too much TV, I learned a new word that fits pretty perfectly: “anhedonic”. According to the dictionary, it means “lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it”. Basically, it means you’re never happy. Not necessarily in the slit-my-wrists-depressed sort of way, but in the nothingisevergoodenoughalwayssearchingformore kind of way.

an·he·do·ni·a [an-hee-doh-nee-uh]

Noun PsychologyLack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it.
Origin:
1895–1900; < Greek an- an-1+ hēdon ( ) pleasure + -ia -ia
Related forms
an·he·don·ic [an-hee-don-ik], adjective
Example:

Ted, if you wanted to be married by now you would be but your not and you know why? Because you’re irrationally picky, you’re easily distracted, and you’re utterly anhedonic.”

That’s me!  I mentioned before my personality similarities to Dr. House, but scratch that. I am Ted Mosby. I have only just started watching How I Met Your Mother from the beginning (after a year of harping from my friends), and at least through Season One, I have found what is somewhat the story of my life. Although, if you read this blog, you would probably think that TV is the story of my life. Funny thing is– I don’t watch that much TV. 

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