Thursday, March 26, 2009

hocus pocus mucus!

This picture is such a lie. First of all, this kid is certainly old enough to wipe her own nose. Secondly, who the hell looks that happy when they're dealing with gallons of snot, especially when it isn't even their own!!??

I don't like mommies like this. And I'm sure nobody would be offended by my statement because mommies like this don't exist. Unless they're aliens, then this sort of snot accumulation is magical and mysterious and awesomely worthy of otherworldly scientific collection & study. Yeah. Not in my house.

My poor baby is loaded with goo this week. I kept her home on Monday due to a fever and dry cough. This morning her cough was so thick, she was gagging. When I picked her up from school tonight, I was greeted with a bag of ice to her left ear and a tear-streaked face, begging me to make the pain stop. Oh, I hate the snot! The congestion has totally taken over and I had to rush my daughter to the Urgent Care clinic at 6pm. No dinner, no medicine, no nothing. And she shrieked the whole time, clutching her ear as if to rip it off. Which actually might have been less painful, for both of us.

So two hours later, we were home and I had her fully drugged with decongestant, advil, and a liquid Z-pak that is sure to give her diarrhea which, in turn, is sure to give me another round of shrieking about stuff coming out of her body that cannot be controlled. You can't win for losing.

Elle is finally asleep and snuggling with her two favorite stuffed animals, Big Peki and Black Peki, while enjoying the mist of the humidifier and the company of her new best friend - the heating pad.

This reminds me of when my older brother cried so hard as a baby that my mother was prescribed Valium. Valium!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving on...and up...or out

In about an hour, I'll be heading to the local college to meet with a program director about obtaining my Hospitality and Tourism Management degree. In about two months, I plan on taking my first class to be counted as a core class credit. In about a year, I plan on having that degree in my hand. In the meantime, I want to be working at one of two brand new hotels that are scheduled to open by mid-summer. I'm afraid to admit this: I'm excited.

I've been excited about things before. Like moving to Florida in 1996. Or discovering how much I liked Columbia, South Carolina, enough to consider moving there. Or even the possibility of taking a dream job at the Chesapeake Beach Resort in Maryland after being away for 11 years. Every time I get excited about something, it fails. I fail. Something fails. Usually it's my own confidence.

And here's why: I've never had to take care of myself completely. Back in 1999, I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine in Gainesville, Florida. Seven months later, I moved back in with my parents to save up the money I would need to move back to Maryland, into a quaint little 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Annapolis. A few months after that, I met a guy. We all know how that ended. And I've never left my parents' home since then.

I've had offers from girlfriends who needed a roommate, but I always felt that I would impede on their life as a single woman. My number one rule has always been that no man would ever be allowed to stay the night, as my guest or as hers. I didn't want my child to see that. But I also didn't want to be the girl that wouldn't allow her roommate to have a romantic social life.

I've had offers to move to other states when other girlfriends were in a position to help me. I never took anyone up on those offers, either. Usually because the state of Florida won't allow me to, but also because I was just plain terrified. What if I finally moved out of my parents' house but couldn't move out of their house? I would be right back where I started, with another host to suck from. Yes, I would feel like a parasite.

So, post-court trial, here I am. In my parents' house, still. The debt is no longer mounting and is gradually being paid down. However, I am no more employable than I was, let's say, three years ago. And this is why I feel I have to do this. This meeting means more to me than just getting back into school. It means more to me than just having something in the world that is all mine, and mine alone (some people have their pilates class, some people have social time in college!). It means making myself useful, making myself needed, making myself...well, myself.

Over the years, and over the past few hours, I have asked myself numerous times if I am actually trying hard enough. The answer? Probably not. Do other women have the same struggles, raising one or more children without the support of their parents? Do other women manage to work full-time and continue their education without the support of their extended family? The answer is yes. However, some women don't have the choice to stay in a safe, comfortable neighborhood until they can afford to move to a different safe, comfortable neighborhood. And I do. I refuse to gather up my measly monthly wages and rent a place with bars on the windows and condoms on the sidewalk. Because I don't have to. Not yet, at least.

But my welcome is wearing thin, on my family, on my daughter, on myself. It's been a great relief to know that I would only have to worry about paying for daycare, food, and legal bills, instead of all three + rent and utilities. Because not only would I be living in an apartment with bars on the windows and condoms on the sidewalk, so would my daughter. And that's just not good enough for her.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Did Obama really say that?

Wait a minute...where's the ACLU? Why isn't this the top story on the evening news? (Well, I know it isn't the top story here in Jacksonville because the local newscasts always open with somebody having been shot and killed on the Northside. Tonight's count: only 1, so far!) If I was joking that I'd only bowled a score of 129, I wouldn't compare it to the Special Olympics. I would flat out admit that it's because I'm not as good as I thought I was.

Face it, Barack. That was one jacked-up comment.

And here's something else that's pretty jacked-up: How you plan to take care of the men and women who are taking care of you. You know those security police officers who stand at the foot of the steps of Air Force One? They are there to take a bullet for you. You know those 18-year-old kids you promised the world to and then shipped them off to get their legs blown up and amputated? They are there to take a bullet for you. You remember those men and women who came back from Vietnam when you were a wee young lad living in another country, only to be spat upon by an ungrateful nation? Tens of thousands didn't come home to get spat upon because they died taking a bullet for you. And now you want to take away their healthcare, too?

Hmmm, I got off on a tangent, but now that I think about it, the soldiers returning home with untreated traumatic brain injuries and PTSD could possibly lead to an increase in numbers for the Special Olympics army.

So, President Obama, I suggest you keep your lame jokes about the Special Olympics to yourself. As you are probably aware, we are fighting a bloody war on terrorism in Afghanistan. This is a country that, as a whole, feels the hopelessness of its daily existence by constantly being interrupted with explosions and pesky reports of mass death. The Special Olympics organization has been doing some wonderful work with disabled persons in Afghanistan. Most of the Middle East already thinks America is a country full of warmongering assholes. The Special Olympics has, at least in some way, helped reshape their thinking, especially in the country of Afghanistan, by converting their awful bowling scores into super-awesome-hero powers to be used for the good of mankind, instead of making fun of people who can't bowl.

Basically, you work for us, Mr. President. If you were just some guy who worked at the local hardware store and made a stupid comment like that, you would have very easily been fired. And if you really want to get into the business of taking away VA benefits, I think we should all sit down and talk about how great the healthcare system is for our elected officials. Sacrifices, sacrifices. Isn't that right?

But first, you should know that here's this guy named Myles Barman who bowled a 14-game average of 132. So, no...your bowling skills are not comparable to the Special Olympics. There's at least one guy from Plano, Texas, who is better than you. Just this week, he met with his state's Representatives in the hopes of securing Congressional funds for the organization.

I think an apology is in order. As well as a major push for some serious funding.

UPDATE: Thank you, Fox News. I knew I could count on you, seeing as it is now the morning after I added this blog post and Obama's bowling score is front page news on Thank you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy 80th Birthday, Mrs. Doe

Dear Dennis Norman,

Congratulations on a great season for the Jaguars! I think we're all set for an even greater season this fall.

I'm writing you because March 31st is my mother's 80th birthday. She and us have been solid Jaguars fans ever since we moved here in 1997. It would mean the world to my mother if you sent her a birthday card, even if it's late, that would make her day!!!

Her information is:

Mrs. Jane Doe
10 Main Street
Lake Charles, LA 70605

Thanks so much for considering my request!


Mrs. Doe's daughter
(904) 555-5555

Okay. So my dad's a rock star...of sorts. We get phone calls every so often, people (usually giggly girls) asking if they can speak with NFL Dennis Norman, and groaning in defeated disappointment when they find out my dad isn't the Dennis Norman. He's just my dad. A middle-aged white dude with a normal job, the White Guy Dennis Norman. Not the bohemoth NFL player who likely spends his days crushing bones and cracking skulls. And getting paid phat money to do that.

Nope. Not my dad.

The above letter is the most recent contact my father has made with one of his "fans". Mrs. Doe's daughter wrote that letter with so much hope, an expectation that maybe, just maybe, NFL Dennis Norman would take the time out of his day to send Mrs. Doe a birthday card. Well, my father, White Guy Dennis Norman, actually called Mrs. Doe's daughter to break the news to her. They both had a good laugh and he offered to send her mother a birthday card anyway. He's had a lot of practice at this, what with all the phone calls and all.

Last Christmas, even, we received a package from UPS for Dennis Norman. Our dad, or so we thought. Until we opened the box and found a stash of baby clothes and bottles, nipples and pacifiers. And a cute teething toy. Hey, White Guy Dennis something you wanna tell us? This was the first big thing that ever made its way into our lives (beside the phone calls) and we were so trying to take advantage of it once we figured out the package was actually for NFL Dennis Norman. We googled the sender's name and found their phone number. After a few calls, we discovered that NFL Dennis Norman's Auntie had sent some gifts for his new baby. We asked Auntie to have NFL Dennis Norman call White Guy Dennis Norman and arrange for a pickup at our house.

And just like those freaky fans who look up celebrity athletes' phone numbers in the phone book, my whole family waited on our figurative tippy-toes hoping to catch a glimpse of the NFL Dennis Norman (and maybe even the NFL Baby!) when he decided to make a house call and pick up his baby's package from Auntie (that would be such an awesome PR move, dude). A few days later, the doorbell rang!!!

It was UPS. They wanted their package back.

So here's to you, Mrs. Doe! Happy 80th Birthday!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Karate People

Having spent seven years of my life in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I'd seen plenty of seedy characters, and I'm not talking about the District's elite (though I did once meet Vice President Quayle).

Homeless people in the District are a gentle breed. At least the ones with whom I've had any contact. I don't remember having ever been verbally attacked or particularly weirded out by any one of them. Even if they followed you around for a block or two begging for money, you could be certain that few of them would continue to follow you for too long. My favorite was the one who followed my family and I to the Capitol Building and then proceeded to piss on it. His own personal protest, perhaps.

So you can imagine my surprise when I had my first ever Crazy Bum experience in Gainesville, Florida, of all places. Known as a peaceful, laid back town hopped up on way too much Gator football (and populated with many stupid, drunken college students), Gainesville is actually a safe and family-friendly area with little violent crime to speak of. And this is why I had no problem waiting in the car, which was parked behind a bike shop, for my mother to finish up inside.

This would be a good time to explain the car. I was test-driving it and ready to buy it, having just left the bank and pulled $2,000 from my account. That means I had $2,000 on my person. In cash. The Crazy Bum musta smelled it when the wind shifted.

As I was totally unfamiliar with the car and all it's buttons and flashy thingies, I did manage to leave the window down before I gave my mother the keys (for what reason, I cannot remember). I can still smell the air. It was a gorgeous day and sunny, and being parked behind the bike shop took all the noise of University Avenue's traffic away from me. And like a dumbass, with $2,000 in cash in my pocket, I closed my eyes to rest.

Crazy Bum showed up not too long after and demanded I give him a quarter.
"Sorry, I don't have a quarter."
"Bitch, gimme a quarter."


I never give bums money, but this back-and-forth went on for maybe a minute and I considered giving him a quarter just to shut him up. Plus he was freakin' me out. I desperately wished that I had parked in front of the bike shop, where all of University Avenue's traffic could see me getting accosted by Crazy Bum. Yeah, I was getting nervous, especially because I had no way of giving him a quarter without digging through my phat pockets full of two grand.

"Now I want a fucking dollar 'cause you waitin' too damn long to give me a quarter!"

And I decided, right then and there, that I would die before I ever let Crazy Bum know I had $2,000 in cash on me. Plus my mother would show up soon and she would so kick his ass. Especially after she found out he had stuck his arm through the window and grabbed my wrist, all this to pry off my Hello Kitty watch. Oh, that's it, Crazy Bum!

I vowed to take his ass down.

But I didn't have to. Out of nowhere, the Karate People appeared. There was only one, at first. He was a good distance away and I couldn't see his face, but I knew he was watching Crazy Bum come after me. Then he went back inside. A few seconds later, there was an entire class of Karate People. They all stood watching, quietly threatening Crazy Bum with their body language and possibly saving me from bodily harm or the embarrassment of peeing all over myself in absolute fear. Crazy Bum took the hint, muttered some obscenity to me, spit off to the side of the car, and walked away. The Karate People went back inside and called Ralph Macchio, just to brag. I'm certain of this.

As soon as Crazy Bum was no longer around, I ran into the bike shop like a little girl crying for her mommy. Because I was crying for my mommy. Through controlled tears, I explained to my mother what had just happened and in great detail, too, down to the smudge on the window left by Crazy Bum's oily arm.

An hour later, I bought the car.

I had totally forgotten about my story until I read this story from the Milwaukee area. Milwaukee is another city that I hold near and dear to my heart and I'm happy to see the Karate People have expanded their crimefighting services into other parts of the country.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm not in the business of business

Education is key, I believe. My high school records don't necessarily reflect that, but I'm older and wiser now (and a mother) so that makes me an expert.

I'm not a politician nor am I someone who pretends to understand the politics of business. And let's face it, the public school system is a business. Parents provide the children, the state promises a standard comprehension and level of knowledge as a result, the end result is disappointing and this results in even more results. Such a mudslinging, finger-pointing, name-calling, cursing the Florida Lottery, gangs and violence, underpaid teachers and School Resource Officers, and finally, a lack of parent involvement.

So, how's about reading this and wondering exactly...why couldn't the public school system receive a bailout? Because throwing together a group of hormonal, angsty teenagers into a massive new world called "The Bigger High School" while packing heat in their pants is such a terrific idea.

The 17,000-student district also is looking into increasing class sizes, shortening the school year and laying off nearly 10 percent of its 900 teachers.
China and India: Watch out for the smart Americans! I'm just sayin'...

A PigBearDragonfly!

First, I have to brag about my daughter. She's awesome. Why is she awesome? Well, 'cause she is. And because last year she not only won the first annual Peterbrooke Chocolatier Easter coloring contest for our neighborhood shop, but she also won the top prize in the region! That includes the City of Jacksonville, the rest of Duval County, and all of Nassau County. Elle was all of six plucky and creative years old.

She's finally taking her artwork public and entered a contest by submitting her own version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the Florida Times-Union newspaper. At last she has decided to allow a picture of her own design to leave the house, not to be hung on the walls of her dentist's office or to grace the refrigerators of my friends and family. This time, she's fo' real, yo.


And now a story. Meet PigBearDragonfly:
(I'm just copying it, word or word)
This is a PigBearDragonfly.
It eats deer and flys.
It lives in the wild.
It can kill 100,000 of people.
It can live for 4100 years.
It can die in the cold.
They are reptiles.
It drinks blood.
It is spicky.
It is dangerouse so be carful.
Its a girl.
They have ugly babys.
They are like vampires.
They are nockturnle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My initiative must be stopped!!

There are two kinds of people in this world: me and everyone else. And I don't say this to isolate myself in a bubble of superiority. Quite the opposite. I say this because I am me. Everyone else is not me. See, two kinds.

I have always been one of those employees who received excellent reviews and merit raises, one of the few who could be called upon in a moment of crisis, someone who could rig a hair weave out of some puppy chow and a straw. Because, while I'm not the most out-of-the-box thinker, I am a thinker, nonetheless. My creativity and ability to think for myself has usually been appreciated, if not celebrated. We can always go back to my days in the No-Tell Motel business to relive the excitement of the entire staff when I nabbed a huge contract to bring to town the Wings Over Williston Air Show. Because I was given the liberty to work around certain restrictions, I negotiated a hell of a deal that brought my hotel's revenue up in just one weekend by tens of thousands of dollars.

And then for some reason, I decided to try something new. I didn't want to be 40 years old (one day, many years from now!) wishing I had made an attempt at some other career. I was fortunate enough to work in a bookstore and a college library, all the while working on my degree. Over the past few years, I learned the best way to obtain a college education was to work for a college. Having been denied financial aid a few times, I applied for a job as a secretary at a local university and was hired with the promise of state benefits and paid tuition. Hallelujah, my prayers were answered. Or so I thought.

And that's where the problems began. My thoughts. If I have a thought, this means I am thinking. Apparently, in my office, thinking is highly overrated and strongly discouraged. If you are thinking about something, it means that you could possibly come up with a better solution than someone else. That someone else's feelings will be hurt and their ego will feel displaced.

In my office, I don't know how many people are allowed to think. I only know that I am not one of them. There was actually a closed-door meeting today (the second such meeting in three months with the first being conducted completely in the open and proof that professionalism is not my department's specialty) involving my two directors and myself, chockfull of assumptions, inflated egos, and plenty of yelling. The topic of discussion was my "initiative". Or rather their appreciation, as unwelcome as it may be, of my initiative and how it must be stopped in its tracks!!!! Why? I'm guessing because I learned something my director was not aware of and did what I thought was the right thing by informing her of this information.

Nope. Bad idea. And this was one of those moments that left me wondering...Is this job really worth it? The unprovoked verbal attacks, the obvious confusion that affects most who are involved in a single project because nobody seems to know the answers (and, quite possibly, aren't comfortable trying to obtain the answers!), and the constantly being thrown under the bus. Which, by the way, I've been run over by at least four times, usually by the same driver. Oh yes, I'm counting.

Unfortunately, this leaves me in a not-so-sweet position. I've tried to comfort myself over the past few months with thoughts of others' misfortunes, such as joblessness and subsequent home foreclosure and homelessness, and how millions of Americans are willing to do any job and are proving so by standing in line for hours at the local job fair. And I'll admit it - I'm slightly jealous. I am lucky enough to not have to pay a monthly rent and my credit score is spectacular so if I really needed to, I'm sure I could get a loan. My tax refund is usually a few thousand dollars so, again, cha-ching - yippy yay for me. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have my job cut due to budget restraints.

(I've actually prayed over this. My mother, who was very recently baptized, promised to pray for me, also. Which is a great idea since she now has a closer bond to the man or woman upstairs.)

The economy sucks, this I know. How could one not know? Ironic how I now have to use every ounce of creativity in my being to just get through each day in a place that does not, will not, allow me to think. It's kind of like getting your soul sucked out of you, seriously, but you're not allowed to stop it. At least, you don't want to be caught trying to stop it because that would mean you're swimming in the opposite direction of the team.

I miss my old self, the self that could make co-workers survive the same kind of verbal beating I received today. That self is gone. This worries me.

Hello, apathy.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

the ultimate road trip accessory

teadreop Pictures, Images and Photos

You gotta admit - it's cute! And while the idea of "camping" probably doesn't conjure up visions of little teardrop trailers (such as the one pictured above), it is still a lifestyle within a lifestyle. I, for one, love this little teardrop. I also love the $583,000 monster of a RV that came equipped with...get this...a doorbell! The only problem with an RV that large is that I'm constantly reminded of:

a) what it's like to have all kinds of ridiculous dollars to waste (yes, waste!) on this monstrosity, complete with marble countertops, three big-screen TVs, and a second floor.
b) Bret Michaels and those nasty girls he hangs out with on a tour bus almost like this very one.


So Dad and I took my daughter to the RV Show here in downtown Jacksonville. It's a fun thing my dad and I do every year (and probably the only thing we do together at all). In the parkng lot of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, we think of all kinds of ways he can quit his job, sell the house, and convince my mother that it was a great idea for my father to quit his job and sell the house. Oh, he'd also have to trade in his Honda CRV since it can't tow anything over 1,500 pounds. And that's too bad because that means he'd have to buy a new truck to tow the new camper and that would totally make my mother go apeshit and she'd never buy the whole "it's a great idea!" idea.

So we dream.

I grew up camping in tents and scaling my own fish if I wanted to eat that night. My childhood is full of memories of the orange/brown tent, the pop-up camper, and finally, the RV. It was small, but it got my family from Upper Michigan to South Florida. Our neighbors would all go camping with us so I usually had a playmate to go swimming with. My mother would cook pasties and parmesan fish over the campfire and the grownups would help us catch fireflies in old Mason jars. Then after dinner, our parents would send us into the woods to collect sticks for roasting marshmallows so we could make s'mores. My daughter knows how to make s'mores - in the microwave (I know I should at least teach her how to roast marshmallows over a Yankee candle flame).

Elle was getting caught up in the fun of it all, too. She declared herself the "bed-tester" and would let us know how the sleep comfort rated for every RV or pop-up we visited. Even those campers that came equipped with a Sleep Number mattress had to be tested. Eventually we made our way into the big ones, the monstrosities, the RVs that were the size of Bret Michaels' Rock of Love tour bus. Elle declared herself the "drivers-seat-tester".

Don't fear, America. She is at least nine years from obtaining her driver's license.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Smells Like Thirtysomething Spirit

April 5th is only a month away (give or take a day) and what is April 5th good for if not a reason to get middle-aged people talking about that music we like to call "grunge". If you don't remember the date (1994), then shame on you and all your hippie-music loving friends. Eh, whatever. I remember listening to alot of Dave Matthews and Tori Amos back then. Oh yeah, and having dirty thoughts about Chris Cornell. Look at him, who wouldn't!?!
Chris Cornell Pictures, Images and Photos

Hold on. I have to catch my breath. Ok.

Below is a little thing I wrote back in 2005 about Kurt Cobain's influence on American music and how he succeeded in becoming one of the most famous guys who wanted nothing to do with fame yet chose a career that would make him famous. I was a fan in the sense that I bought Nevermind and I thought Dave Grohl played a much bigger role in the band than people gave him credit for (much like when Leonardo DiCaprio play that homeless kid, Luke, on Growing Pains. I knew he was better than that show). And I'll admit that, for years, I felt out of touch with certain people because we didnt share the same opinion of Kurt Cobain (Their's usually being that he was God's Gift To Music. Mine usually being that he was that guy who was on my TV more than Chris Cornell was on my TV. Kurt - get off my TV!).

The video was loud and confusing. A couple of musicians were in the background, but most apparent was the scrawny, stringy-haired, guitar-wielding singer who was practically in my face. As he screamed in near-tune, his greasy blond hair buried his features but almost gave away his angst. Scenes bounced back and forth from a creepy school janitor to the gothic-industrial cheerleaders sporting anarchy symbols on their uniforms. Through it all, Kurt Cobain pleaded to the camera, to his audience, while desperately smashing his guitar to make his point, in case you couldn’t understand his lyrics, and was determined to be understood. After the video was over, I didn’t get his point. Even after his death, I still don’t understand.

Nirvana is credited with having paved the way for the new “grunge” sound and for bringing this music to the rest of the world. Jonathan Poneman, cofounder of Sub Pop records, told Spin magazine writer Chris Norris why he believes Kurt Cobain represented a new age group, labeled Generation X. Poneman feels it’s because Cobain created a type of music that became popular “at a time when everything else sounded so stale and manufactured”. Having just been released from the materialistic grip of the 1980s, the music scene was struggling to reinvent itself. A new sound was slowly being created in Seattle and musicians flocked to the city just to be a part of it. Before long, the bubble-gum pop and glam-metal sounds of the 80s were abandoned as Nirvana’s invasion of MTV and radio airwaves pioneered an angry and defiant sound that would last longer than I could tolerate. Even after Cobain’s death in 1994 concluded Nirvana’s short-lived existence, the group’s music is still a constant source of inspiration for many modern-day bands.

Our culture thrives on celebrities, often choosing one out of hundreds to be the next star whom our society will idolize, whether deservedly or not. Kurt Cobain chose to live his life in the spotlight even though, according to Nirvana’s former manager, Danny Goldberg, Cobain “didn’t like all the consequences of fame”. A seemingly reluctant spokesman for a generation deemed lost by society, Cobain is perceived by Chris Norris as a star who “sometimes hated himself for wanting stardom”. After killing himself with a shotgun blast to the head, the singer claimed fame and fortune as the motives but left fans feeling as if they were the reasons he did it. But did Kurt Cobain’s talents make him a celebrity, or was my generation just reaching for the first sign of a departure from the self-absorbed culture of the 1980s?

I’m not questioning the talents of Kurt Cobain or even Nirvana’s musical influence on modern and future bands. What I am trying to understand is how Kurt Cobain became the voice of my generation. Chris Norris claims that “no other artist still haunts us in such a powerful, subliminal way” and he’s right. It’s been over a decade since his death, yet the singer’s influence is everywhere. Listen closely to this new generation’s sound and it is obvious that Cobain’s spirit has been brought back to life. Norris believes it is because the legendary frontman is “a valiant symbol of a time when rock music was more real and meaningful”. However, I’ve almost come to feel as if grunge music itself was nothing more than angst and frustration accompanied by loud guitars and flannel and led by a depressed man who was eventually overwhelmed with the responsibilities of leading a depressed generation. The entire purpose of grunge simply became a fashion do and don’t set to music and defined by unkempt hair. If that’s real and meaningful to somebody, they’ve obviously been fortunate enough to experience what I could never understand.

Do you think Kurt Cobain/Nirvana still have the same influence on music today? Or are they becoming an afterthought, having paved the way for new bands to upstage Nirvana's accomplishments because Cobain's death cut the band's life short, too? Is there anyone out there, anyone, who agrees with me?

Excuse me while I scroll up to look at Chris Cornell some more...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tales from the No-Tell Motel - Part I

I was eighteen when I got my first job in the hospitality industry. Some civilian in charge of the military joint thought it would be great fun to hire a teenager (me!) to contract Reserve weekends and NORAD blockades, find lodging for stranded families holding vigils for their sick and dying loved ones, care for the young (sometimes younger than me) airmen who had just been dumped out of a cab and onto my Lodging office's front doorstep, and coordinate the Turkish Air Force's arrival with only 20 minutes' notice.

That job kicked ass.

The very memorable experiences I had with the staff and guests at the Lodge made a huge impact on me and eventually led me to work in other hotels in every city I lived in after I left Maryland. I've had a few other incredible moments at other hotels, but overall, the Andrews Air Force Base lodging office (also known to the outside world as The Gateway Inn)was the best job ever.

Here are just a few of my favorite tales:

Gateway Inn (Andrews AFB, Maryland):
NORAD was coordinating some kind of Hide & Seek game in the nearby woodsy bungalows and our military staff were instructed to section off the area to keep pedestrians out of the way. I was fully aware of this and knew better than to walk anywhere near the obvious & bright yellow "Do Not Cross" tape. I enjoyed my lunch at home and walked back to work where I caught one of the desk clerks (in military uniform - she knew better!) facedown on the grass with about five masked men armed to the teeth and pointing guns at her skull. Poor Bobbi. She was released after about 2 hours and was sent home to find a clean uniform. Being facedown in a field of dirt and grass can do a job on one's BDUs.

Another funny story involves the massive winter storm of 1996. History seems to be repeating itself because the storm that recently blanketed the eastern part of the US in snow and ice is very similar to the blizzard of 1996. Our bungalows were outdoor lock-activated and guests were given their own set of electronic key cards in order to enter their rooms. A very prominent Colonel was invited to speak at a retirement ceremony of another very prominent Officer and was checked into one of our outdoor bungalows. Within a few hours, the state of Maryland went into freakin' crisis mode when the snow started falling by the foot and then suddenly melted, leaving a thick layer of ice on everything. Everything! Especially inside the small slots in which a key card is to be inserted. Our guests could not get into their rooms as the slots were filled with ice. This also affected the batteries in the locks and prevented guests from getting out of their rooms as well. Our staff managed to find battery-operated hairdryers and off they went, into the blizzard (on foot!) to melt the ice from the key slots. We rescued about 20people that night but, unfortunately, the prominent Colonel did not make it to his friend's retirement party. I don't even know if there was a retirement party that night.

Cabot Lodge (Gainesville, Florida):
I spent many years at this hotel and had the most brushes with celebrity in this town. I know, it's Gainesville. But, go figure. It's home to the University of Florida (and the Gator Nation *shudder*) so we never saw alot of big name musical acts blow through here. Tom Petty grew up here, some members of Sister Hazel hail from Gainesville, and Gainesville's own For Squirrels is one of the greatest bands that never lived. So when Marcy Playground came to town, all the college kids went crazy. I, on the other hand, just wanted them to STFU. Two of MP's bandmembers came down into my hotel lobby around 2am to practice. Seriously, they turned my lobby into their buddy's garage and pulled out their guitars and went through a pack of cigarettes each, all while playing Sex & Candy over and over and over and over and...well, you get the point. I only had a few complaints from other hotel guests but they were still complaints that I should not have had to deal with. So I asked the two bandmembers to quiet it down or stop altogether. In turn, they asked me to answer the phones more quickly as the ringing was distracting their band practice. I took away their ashtrays. They left my lobby. Pricks.
Marcy Playground Pictures, Images and Photos
(Marcy Playground aka Pricks)

Then there's the night I thought I was going to get robbed. I had been called in to cover the audit shift since my midnight guy had a stomach virus. The only other company I had that night was my very overweight security guard. So he was really only good for company since it was plainly obvious that he couldn't chase anyone down in the event of a crime or attack on account that he sweated and panted simply from getting out of his chair. My security guard went to do his rounds at about 3am when suddenly this huge, loud, black guy came busting through the hotel front door demanding a room near an exit and slapping down cash to pay it out in full right then and there (holy shit - who'd he rob? Am I next?)(and for the record, I would've freaked if he was a white guy, so don't go there). Anyway, I kept my eye on him while I counted his cash, got his info (a local address - why was he here?), and didn't even bother to check his ID card (stupid, I know) before sending him off to his room. Near an exit. The guy was shaking so hard that I honestly wondered what he had done and how soon my hotel would be surrounded by the SWAT team and Hello, Robert the Security Guard!! Where the **** are you!!!?!??
Aaaah, silly me. Turns out that my mystery guest was none other than Jevon Kearse and he'd been out partying too late to return to his dorms without getting into trouble with his coach, Steve Spurrier. Jevon checked out with me a few hours later, flashed me a grin and a huge "Hey, thanks!" before he headed back to UF. He's a big NFL player now and I like to think I played a small part in his success. Since I didn't call the cops that night and all.

to be continued...

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm half-San Antonian

Elle: So, Mom, am I half-Portuga and half-Gainesville?
Me: What? Half-what?
Elle: Well, like Anicia says she's half-German and half-Indian and that makes her really pretty. So am I half-Portuga?
Me: Do you mean half-Portuguese?
Elle: Oh, yeah.
Me: Yes. You are part Portuguese.
Elle: So what's my other half? Because, remember Mom, I was born in Gainesville.
Me: I remember that very clearly.
Elle: So I'm half-Gainesville, right?
Me: No. You're part German and Polish. Oh, and English and French.
Elle: I know I'm English. I don't speak Spanish.