Anniversaries

It just occurred to me that today would have been my wedding anniversary, had I stayed married to my first husband. I don’t know why I thought of it; the date just rang a bell somewhere in my head.

We were married in 1992 and divorced in 1999, after being together 10 years. We didn’t have any contact; that was his choice. He didn’t believe that folks should stay in touch if they had been in a relationship, and no longer were. Maybe that was less painful, in some ways.

He passed away a couple of years ago. I don’t know who lives in the house we built up on the mountain. I’m sure our dogs are long since gone. I guess the only evidence that we were marred is the marriage license – and the divorce papers – in my file cabinet. Oh, and some pictures in that blue Rubbermaid box in a storage shed in Florida.

I’ll take a moment tonight to raise a glass to what was, and what isn’t anymore. I guess we all could do that: some things only survive in our memories. I’m spending a lot of time and energy these days trying to forget things, but I guess it’s okay tonight to remember a few.

Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday. That’s a great reason to raise a glass. Maybe I’ll have to raise two…maybe you’ll join me!

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Pictures!

As my cousin Pam suggested, I’m posting pictures since I don’t have anything intelligent to add this evening. It’s almost 11pm and I’ve been staring at the computer for over six hours tonight, so I’m brain dead. So here are a few shots I took the past couple of weeks, to keep you amused until my brain revives. I have a ton of work to do tomorrow as well (figures the online jobs would come back to life as soon as I got a “real” job), and then back to the real job on Monday, so I’ll get back when I can! Hope you’re having a good weekend!

Raspberry truffletini with the girls!

Raspberry truffletini with the girls!

Maree's new baby, Clarabelle

Maree’s new baby, Clarabelle

Sunset on Lake Coeur d'Alene

Sunset on Lake Coeur d’Alene

Sunset at Independence Point, Lake Coeur d'Alene

Sunset at Independence Point, Lake Coeur d’Alene

Last hot day at the beach

Last hot day at the beach

Gotta love goats at the fair!

Gotta love goats at the fair!

Posted in Everyday life, Sunsets | 1 Comment

Still kicking

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Yes, I know it’s been 2.5 months since I posted. I considered stopping altogether, since I obviously have lost the ability to post on a regular basis. But I figured I should at least bring you up to speed on where I am and what I’m doing, so you don’t think I fell into a Florida sinkhole – or got et by a gator – or emigrated to Australia – or joined a convent – or (fill in the blank).

It might surprise you that I’m living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho again, as of 10 days ago. No, I didn’t plan to move back, especially with winter approaching. But I returned for a quick visit last month, and ended up with a job. It’s a good job – Special Sections Editor for the local newspaper. I’m getting paid to write, for the first time ever. It’ll look good on the resume. It’s nice to see my name in the paper (and not in the police blotter!). I don’t really have to report to anyone, and I come and go as I please. I’m back among friends in a familiar, much-loved place. And best of all, I’m not sitting alone on my couch, worrying about paying the bills.

Do I miss the beach and my life in FL? Of course. I always miss where I’m not – it’s one of my peculiar afflictions. I miss my friends, the live music, my Trop Rock world, walking on the beach, the warm weather. But for now, this is fine. I’ll ride this wave as long as I can, and then go on to Plan B – or Q, or whichever plan I’m at now.20130809_104309

I’m living with dear friends now, and will be housesitting for other friends when they head south for the winter. My furniture is stored in St. Augustine, so I don’t have to completely say goodbye to that town. I’ll still be in Key West the first of November for the annual Jimmy Buffett convention, Meeting of the Minds; it’s my gift to myself for leaving the beach. So I’ll see my friends and hear live music and thaw out for a few days, and have a blast in one of my favorite places in the world.

I still hope to move to KW one day. But right now, I’m here. I’m busy with friends and work, it’s not snowing yet, and the sun is out. I have a reasonably active social life, and know where the hardware store is. It’s all good.

So that’s what I’m up to. My work will be online at the Coeur d’Alene Press website, in the Special Sections (the first is Family, which will be out in the next couple of days – I wrote the intro). I’m not doing long feature stories at this point, just shorter “advertorial” pieces. If I write anything of substance, I’ll make sure to let you know.

So if you don’t hear from me, don’t worry. I’m still out here. Just busy trying to keep all of the balls in the air.20130818_134612

I hope you had a great summer, and are in the midst of a stellar fall. Enjoy the warm weather while it lasts! And please don’t remind me that winter is coming – I’m doing a fine job of playing ostrich, with my head firmly in the sand about THAT issue. And praying that global warming hits North Idaho with a vengeance this year….

Stay tuned for more Idaho stories!

Posted in Everyday life, Travels, Writing | 4 Comments

Roll with the changes

And just like that, half a year is gone. We used to measure how long it took to get used to writing the new year on our checks, but who writes checks any more? I still have to stop and think about what year it is, and it’s already half over.

Since I got back from Key West, I’ve fallen back into regular routines. Work, drinks with girlfriends, work, a little live music, work, walks on the beach, and work. But all with an undercurrent of analyzing where I am in the world, and where I’m supposed to be going. I’ve been talking to my friend Laurie about how sometimes life has to trip us up to make us reexamine the path we’re on. If we’re on the wrong path, and nothing happens to change that path, we could continue blundering in that wrong direction forever. So maybe when things seem to fall apart, that means it’s time to reevaluate and get your feet back on the right path.

I’m pretty sure I’m not, for many reasons. Relationships, work, money, social life, creativity – I’m just not where I thought I would be by now. I’ve been going back through the blog posts I wrote in 2007 and compiling them into a coffee table book for myself. And it’s eerie, and a little eye-opening, to read my thoughts from six years ago and find that I’m still in many of the same ruts that I was in back then. It’s pretty illuminating that I’m still complaining about the same things that are wrong in my life. That’s not to say there’s not a ton of good stuff in my life; it’s just that the things that weighed me down then, still weigh me down now.

I’ve always been a person who wants things to be smooth. Not make any waves, not have to deal with any conflict. Pass through life quietly, making everyone happy. But, I think I’ve been letting life push me around rather than my directing it – at least for the last few years, anyway. Maybe that’s why I find myself standing in a place where I really don’t want to be.

So, it looks like I need to make some major changes. I need to get off the couch, meet people, pay some bills, find more predictable income, stop pouring my energy into black holes, stop thinking so much. Get back into society. It’s going to mean stepping way out of my comfort zone, but that zone really isn’t that comfortable any more.

My friend Patti told me about a movie she saw that helped her and her husband reevaluate what’s important to them at this point in their lives, and what isn’t. They’ve been making some pretty big changes, and are thrilled with the result. I look around me and see my friends’ lives changing, and mine has stayed the same.

So anyway, I’m faced with the need to make a lot of decisions. Or, like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I’ll continue to sit on this couch and gaze at the world outside, wishing I could be a part of it. It’s way too comfy in here – and way too lonely. And life apparently does NOT come knocking at your door, in spite of my fervent desire that it would.

I’ve started taking baby steps toward change. So far, I haven’t seen any concrete results. But at least I’m taking them. In the coming days, I need to take a ton more. I need to find the courage to take them, and the strength to make the changes that I need to make to get back on the right path – whatever that path is. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but hopefully admitting it is a good start. I have been way too sad and lonely and lost for way too long.

So wish me luck, strength, clarity, imagination, excitement, and courage. I’m gonna need all the help I can get!

(Now that I’ve told you, there’s that many more people that I have to be accountable to. So feel free to nudge me every now and then, and make sure that I’m moving forward. Thanks!)

Posted in Deep thoughts, Everyday life | 8 Comments

Week Two

20130611_201356Week two in Key West was basically a repeat of Week One, but without the rain. I listened to live music most nights. Caught just about every sunset. Met friends for drinks. Wandered Duval every day, people watching and soaking up the atmosphere. Crawled into bed late every night, tired but happy.

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One day, my friend Koz and I wandered the Keys. He showed me spots I’ve tried to find (unsuccess-fully) for years, locals spots, favorite spots, peaceful spots. I even finally saw a Key deer, after years of missing them.

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And then finally, after two weeks in paradise, I drove home. It’s always hard leaving Key West, and this time was no different. I planned to stay for a full month, but it was time to come home. I had business to attend to back up north. Besides, my questions had been answered.

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Now it’s back to the real world – although I question which one is truly real. I left new friends and old, favorite places, fun memories. I return to old friends, familiar places, regular routines. And now have to decide when I’ll head back to the islands…

Posted in beaches, Sunsets, Travels | 4 Comments

Week One

Uh oh, storm comin'

Uh oh, storm comin’

I fully intended to do a daily accounting of how I’m spending my time on the island, but you can see how successful I’ve been. I get up, work, head into town to meet friends and listen to music, come home and collapse. And then do it all over again the next day. Which leaves very little time for mundane things like paying bills and doing laundry, and even fun things like answering emails and blogging.

So in a nutshell, my first week on the island was filled with:

1. Rain. The storm that turned into Tropical Storm Andrea hung around all week. We grew fins and flippers as we sloshed around town. Since I love rain, I was the happiest person on the island. Although I kept showing up at the Hog’s Breath just as the skies opened, and my new friends started blaming me for the deluges. One night the power went out, and we spent the evening huddled around a couple of tables inside, watching the rain fall and talking about campfires and S’mores in the dark. It was a rude awakening when the power came back on and jolted us from our cozy evening as real life smacked us in the face.

2. New friends. One day I stopped at Sandy’s, a walk-up Cuban cafe known for their cafe con leche. I bought a guava pastry and sipped my coffee as I chatted with Skip O’Neill, who said he was the nephew of Tip O’Neill. He showed me pictures of him and Jimmy Carter, him and Sam Walton, him and his famous uncle. He said he’s the official greeter, and I promised to stop by and hear his stories again.

Sunset from the Tiki Bar

Sunset from the Tiki Bar

3. New places. I drove around the island in the rain, checking out spots I haven’t been to for a while (usually when I’m here, I walk up and down Duval and the surrounding streets – not much driving). I stopped at the AIDS Memorial and the Key West African Cemetery at Higgs Beach, and walked the White Street Pier. I went to a picnic at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, where I once watched one of the best sunsets ever.

4. Old places. I’ve walked the length of Duval almost every day, watching people, exploring, soaking up the atmosphere. I’ve visited my favorite bars, walked the back streets of town late at night, bought ice cream and croissants and Dion’s chicken, and watched the sunset from Mallory Square and the Sunset Tiki Bar.

5. More new friends. Everywhere I go, people are friendly. They welcome me to the island, try to convince me to move here, and invite me to picnics. Cute guys dance with me, buy me drinks, tell me I’m beautiful, and ask me to marry them. (Not necessarily in that order.) I walk up to the Hog and folks greet me like an old friend – people I met just a few days ago.

6. Music. One of my favorite things about Key West is the live music. There’s someone playing somewhere all the time. I’ve listened to Ronnie Johnson, the Carter Brothers (related to THE Carters, as in June), Caffeine Carl and the Buzz, Michael McCloud, Howard Livingston, and Pete and Wayne, so far. And a whole new crop of folks start playing this week!

7. Old friends. I had drinks with Robyn, the woman who advised me to stay here for longer than a few days to see what life on the island is really like. I see her once a year, but we spend long hours talking about life and love and everything in between each time we get together. I run into folks I know everywhere (it IS a small island), and they introduce me to their wives and husbands and friends.

Beach at Fort Taylor

Beach at the Fort

8. Etc. There’s never a dull moment in Key West. I work all day, then play all evening. Granted, since I’m not actually living here, I don’t have the normal responsibilities that I would at home. No chores, no projects to work on, no beach to stroll. If I lived here, I’m sure I wouldn’t go out every night. But since I’m only here for a short time, I have to cram in as much as I can. So don’t be surprised if my next post lists a whole bunch of different bars, bands, friends, and events. I’m making a list of “must sees,” and fully intended to mark each and every one off the list.

So, I’ll write again when I find time. But until then, picture me strolling down Duval, or sipping a beer at the Hog, or laughing with new friends at the Tuna. Oh, or sitting on the couch pounding on the keyboard or over-analyzing life’s challenges while gazing at the ocean (some things don’t change!). Thanks for joining me – stay tuned!

Posted in Everyday life, Travels | 2 Comments

Life on the island

So, in my last post I mentioned that I needed to get back to Key West again soon. Well, “soon” ended up being a week later.

In my never-ending quest to try to do more for myself, I finally have made good on my threat to live in the Keys – well, for a few weeks, anyway. After 8+ years of talking about it, I contacted a few friends in Key West and found someone who was willing to put up with me while I see what life on the island is like. I spend a few days here regularly, but my friend Robyn suggested that I stay a few weeks, if I really want to see what it’s like to live down here.

So that’s where I am. I closed up my beach apartment (my wonderful friend Ginny is watching it for me), loaded a couple of bags of stuff I couldn’t live without into the Solara, and headed south. My generous friend Carolyn greeted me at the end of the highway, and I quickly moved into her guest room. We celebrated my arrival with cocktails, and I crawled into bed on Saturday night ready to see what Sunday might bring.

It brought fun.

Since I bring my work with me, I worked for part of the day, but spent a couple of hours in the morning on my bike, exploring the island, before meeting my friend Koz at the Hog’s Breath for a beer and some great music. Copper Sky had been playing all week and I heard that they were really good, so didn’t want to miss them. And they were indeed fantastic! We ran into a few more friends (it’s a small town), and hung out until the music was done, then wandered to the Smoking Tuna to see who was playing there. We dodged raindrops (the precursor to Tropical Storm Andrea) as we walked the quiet streets, and finally headed home before midnight.

I spent my first day thinking I had made a mistake. I missed my little beach apartment, missed my friends, wondered what the heck I was doing so far from home, why I ever thought I’d want to live down here. But after spending the evening with friends listening to music, instead of sitting home alone, I knew I had made the right choice.

I’m making a list of all the things I love to do down here, and all the things I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t. I’ll hang out with my friends, listen to great music, frequent my favorite bars, and soak up life on the island. And at some point, I’ll make a decision. But right now, I’m just gonna have fun!

Stay tuned for reports on my Life on the Rock!

Posted in beaches, Everyday life, Travels | 5 Comments