I Should Be Packing...

Yet some how playing with Photoshop seemed a better use of my time. 


Small Business Saturday

Some of my favorite places in Tampa to spend my hard earned dollars.

Rollin Oats: Good Food for Good Health
Outstanding staff & author events at Inkwood Books
Coffee at Buddy Brew
Good music, brew & company at the Independent


Thank God for C-SPAN

Every day Americans of every stripe call into C-SPAN's morning show, the Washington Journal, and begin their commentary by thanking a higher power for C-SPAN. I concur.

Happy Thanksgiving!



AL Lopez Park

 I am thankful today for one of my most favorite Tampa spots.
Where I once enjoyed guava pastry & cafe con leche with a special red headed reporter days before she ran away to join an NPR affiliate.

This park makes me aspire to be Leslie Knope.
My park is also used for parking during Buccs season. This makes me hate football even more, in case you care local government officials.

Where I've spent a heck of a lot of time working out story ideas and boy trouble. (I love trouble!) 



Do you know what it takes to recover from childhood sexual trauma? I don’t, because I’m not there yet. 
Last month, just shy of two years into my weekly therapy sessions, I asked my counselor how much longer it would take until I got better. When she informed me that healing is a lifelong process, my heart split open. I felt like I’d been handed a life sentence.
Of all the causes I’m willing to take a stand for, and there are a lot, I don’t want this to be one of them. I want to be out there saving dolphins from discarded fishing nets or teaching overweight kids how to eat healthfully.
Child sexual abuse is too ugly, or as media folk say, the polar opposite of a sexy issue. It’s horrid, and I didn’t ask for it. But it’s one of the heavier cards I’ve been dealt.
How children are treated and what they learn early on forms their thinking and sets their standards for life. For example, take learning a second language. It’s more than a skill or additional avenue for communicating. Studies show that “bilingualism exerts systematic effects on cognitive performance” in children and even protects “bilingual older adults against the decline of those processes in older age.” The brain develops differently in the heads of bilingual children.
I've seen this for myself. By the time I was 10, I had spent at least half my life in Germany. I wasn’t taught a lot of German in my American schools, but the German vocabulary I have now remains from those elementary days, not the four subsequent years of high school German class, of which I retained nada (or nichts, but now I’m just showing off).
I can count as quickly in Deutsch as I can in English. Meanwhile, I’ve been studying French for the past few years and still can’t count past 30. German, or at least German numbers and colors, are tattooed inside my brain forever.
And so are feelings of insecurity, guilt and abandonment. If I can’t remove from my being the bit of German I learned over 25 years ago, how will I ever recover from not being protected as a child? It stares at me in the mirror like my ears, nose and teeth. I see it in every child and adult I meet, wondering if he or she endured this too.
I lost something before I was old enough to know I ever had it – a whole self. On days when terrible things headline the news, I’m not sure I’ll ever have it back.
I write about this because I hadn’t told anyone about what had happened to me when I was little. It took me decades to find my voice. Some kids are braver than I was then, and they speak up. Or the crimes are discovered as they’re occurring.
Either way it’s the responsibility of adults to prevent it, or if not, take charge and hold the offenders accountable. The Penn State mess is inexcusable, unforgivable. It turns the character & community building of sports into a farce.
Some days I forget there's anything to be thankful for. But little things, like this column by Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe, remind me there's a lot of people on my team. I'm thankful for that.


Apple of My Eye: November is National Caregivers Month

This past summer every other gal I know was glowing and pregnant, eyes focused to the future with tiny, new lives. Meanwhile, I felt as if I had taken a few steps backwards.

I got divorced and was starting over, beginning with needing a place to live. I had nothing to my name, except maybe my overpriced B.A. degree and the certified nursing assistant (CNA) license I got several years ago at the start of the recession when I needed a job.

When I spotted a Craigslist ad for a live-in caregiver to a 91-year-old British lady who resides close to my day job, I jumped on the opportunity.

I liked Apple immediately. We were introduced over tea by her daughter Colette. Both Apple and I were being uncharacteristically reserved, so Colette steered the conversation. She apologized when it fell onto British TV shows for several minutes, fearing I'd been left out.

But I wasn’t. To show my interest I mentioned that I was a huge Hugh Grant fan. 

The 91-year-old smiled broadly and replied, "Who isn't?!"

This would not be the last time we shared a grin over our mutual appreciation of British reprobate hotties. (We watch House together weekly.) 

The irony that is Tampa Do-Gooder, if you hadn’t already noticed, is that I'm no different than any other well-meaning person who occasionally does the right thing. I have heart and good intentions, but following through with challenging tasks, especially long-term ones, is pretty darn tough.

The fact of the matter remains that I came to work as a CNA & caregiver out of humbling desperation. I would not do this for anyone in my own family. It’s physically & emotionally draining, long hours, and I think about quitting every day. 

Part of the challenge is that as I take care of someone else's needs, I feel like I’m missing out on rebuilding my own life. I’ve always been impatient though.
Hanging out with a healthy 91-year-old every day, however, is a constant reminder that I’ve got time (and if I don’t, what could I do about it anyway?). It’s a good lesson in balance for this impatient fool who rushes into and through everything. I might get a lot done, but I often don’t know how to enjoy the moment I’m in.

I loved Apple a day into our weekend trial run. Sharp as a tack, witty and blunt, she reads the paper daily and vehemently defends the young president of her adopted country. She occasionally puts up with my C-SPAN habit and I cook something or study when she puts on Chris Wallace.

Having lost both of my grandmothers during college, Apple is my bonus granny. And I am especially grateful that my presence is among the reasons she doesn’t have to think about trading her house in for facility living. For now, we're both safe and flourishing at home.


St. Pete!

Even though I've only ever briefly entertained the idea of becoming a St. Petersburger, I am very thankful for this oasis of urban Florida walkability.

Home to lots of ethnic and veggie restaurants, beaucoup music venues and dive bars, the Poynter & soon-to-be Tampa Bay Times and waterfront views.
w/ fellow WMNF'er Ryan Iacovacci
I can't go into a coffee shop there without running into someone I know.
The Palladium Theater's Paul Wilborn with local out & abouter Khalid Hameed. 



Hampton, David and Lee Hinkle, a Floridian musician who got away
Maybe you should come up with a better name for Tampa art. (This is why I'm not in marketing.) 

When I moved here 6.5 or so years ago, I immediately recognized that this place was bubbling with artsy stuff. 

Sure I hadn't wanted to leave Seattle. I'd even set my sights on Austin or San Francisco, but Florida's low cost of living ultimately won out. (On bad days, I'm reminded you get what you pay for.) 

But our art is priceless. 

No one in town knows that better than T. Hampton Dohrman and David Jenkins

For those of you not in the know (and you totally should be), Hampton is an outstanding supporter and organizer of arts events. 

He co-created Philanthropic Young Tampa Bay to inspire people like me (so I like to think) and keep us youngins' from migrating to Brooklyn and other fancy places with excellent public transportation. 

Awarding microgrants to artists is among PYT's work, and David is one of the panelists who helps give money away. He's also a founder of Jobsite Theatre

"We always bounce ideas off each other," David said about Hampton. They both travel often to see what's going on in other cities. "By virtue of it being D.C. or New York, a lot more people will show up and media will report on it." 

Hampton, David and I agree that what's going on here is pretty quality stuff. We may be underpaid and under the radar but at least we're having fun. And creating and enjoying amazing art. 


30 Days of Thanks

Some friends are posting their appreciation for life's little things in their Facebook status updates throughout this month.

I've decided to do the same here, using as many videos and photos I can come up with since this month will be a little hectic for me - two jobs, grad school, traveling - all of which I'll be writing about soon.

But for now, my very humble gratitude.

Day 1: I am thankful first and foremost for my friends. I wouldn't have a life without them, certainly no quality of life. My instinct has been to run away & bury my head when times are tough. Now I've opened up and invited them in. They've taught me how to be a better person, and to treat myself better, too.

Day 2: I'm truly thankful for all the men in my life, from my friends' husbands and brothers to my ex's, in/significant others, flings and other undefinable things. I'm generally a 'fraidy cat when it comes to establishing  meaningful connections, especially with the hairier sex.

But I remind myself that I've never been intentionally harmed or abused by any male in my life now, and that the pleasure of being acquainted with these very thoughtful, dear men is mine. While stories of the horrendous actions of men exist from my city to the Congo, I'm thankful to my man friends for giving their gender a good name.

Day 3: My iPhone! I'm an anticonsumer who rarely buys new stuff, but I needed a digital camera and a better phone. Additionally, it gave me the ability to put insomnia to good use: reading, browsing the web, bonding via text, talk and photos with friends in different time zones. Plus, there's the inHouse app.

Sample Houseisms:
"Belief implies a level of giving a crap that I am never gonna achieve."

"There's no way a do-gooder like you isn't volunteering all over town, ladling kittens, spaying soup."

Day 4 is easy: Though I am thankful to be employed, I am more thankful that it's Friday.