you can’t take the florida out of the girl

I spent the last six days in the Chicagoland area on business. I arrived in the middle of the night. Literally. My flight to O’Hare was so late I reminded myself of that movie The Terminal.

Hello Chicagoland.
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The morning after I arrived my friend and business partner, Comic Book Mom, and I had several meetings lined up, and they kicked-off bright and early the morning after my midnight arrival.

So the rest of our week seemed like a blur. A freezing-cold, polar-vortex-style blur.

Except for the hotdog. It was truly the highlight of my week -well, some of our business meetings went pretty well too. Actually.

But that hotdog…
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Oh-my-gawd. If you are ever in Chicago you have to eat one of those Portillo’s hotdogs. I’m not a fan of hotdogs. Or car-eating. Or fast food. But this hotdog was so freaking good y’all, I didn’t even think about the hormones, nitrates or msg I was stuffing into my face. Seriously. It was THAT good.

Besides the hotdog and the Polar Vortex, while I was in Chicagoland I saw a lot of grocery stores, cornfields, cemeteries, and trains. And more grocery stores. And corn fields.
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Over the weekend, during our down-time, I met some friends of my friend and we (they) shot guns, and then we ate at a biker bar, swam in another friend’s not-so-warm-pool, and I discovered my new favorite beer -which I saved when I fell off the raft (sorry in advance for the now-green-hued-hair Tanya).
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During the six days I was in Chicagoland Hubs texted me often because he was worried about the gangland slayings in the news; however, I assured him we were too busy with meetings, friends of friends, questionably-chlorinated-pools, biker bars, and guns, to go sightseeing in the city. And unless he heard about a supermarket-slaying in the suburbs, chances were stupid-good that I wasn’t involved; because I was playing it safe drinking Stella in the ‘burbs.

This morning I left Chicagoland at the butt-crack of dawn.
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Hubs met my flight and the minute I stepped outside the airport, the salty humid air enveloped me and I knew I was home. And I was hungry.
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Home. Sweet. Humidity.

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i have a smurf-blue belly button

I spent my Fourth of July at The Color Run.

Hubs refused to run The Color Run with me because he said it was gay; which in my non-homophobe-marathoner-husband’s language I translated to mean he didn’t want to do it because it wasn’t a serious, hardcore, timed run and he didn’t want to be doused in color. Fine.

I registed by myself and I planned to run it alone. Afterall, it was only three miles and I’d be done in a little over thirty minutes.

As luck would have it I caught up with a friend who planned to do The Color Run too, and I decided to walk/run it with her and her daughters -at their pace, because they aren’t runners. And I’m not a hardcore marathoner like Hubs anyway. I do half marathons. I only run to eat.

I can walk a 5k. I can do a run just for F.U.N.

For the run I wore all white, like a Leftover cult member, and my teenager’s Whataburger sunglasses, with the Bruce-Jenner-style sweatband that came in my swag bag.

Basically I looked like Oliva Newton John dressed up like Tommy Chong. Here I am before the run, all clean:
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The Color Run started at 8:00AM, and I walked approximately the first quarter mile with my friend and her daughters. Then we started to run. And I ran. And ran. And ran. And before I realized it I was halfway done. I looked back …And they just weren’t behind me. I dusted them. Oops.

Ssshtt Hubs. I am NOT a hardcore runner.

I met Hubs at the finish line, and later we caught up to my friend and her daughters at the after party… Where we all had a F.U.N. time. Even Hubs.
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ready, set, here i run

I’m going to Chicago next week. I thought I had been to Chicago before, and I have been there, just not since I could talk. Or walk. Or since Al Gore invented the internet.

My Chicago visit was very-pre-9/11.
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So pre-9/11, I don’t think it really counts as a visit.

I don’t know why I thought I’d been to the Windy City before; somehow I got Chicago confused with Milwaukee in my head. Or maybe I confused it with Minneapolis. They are all sort of the same. Middle square states.

Let me rephrase that… In my geographically-challenged head they’re the same.

So I’m going to Chicago for business next week. Mostly. However, to get the best last-minute rate on airfare I have to stay for almost a week so I’ll be there over the weekend, and have a chance to make memories in Chicagoland with some friends.

The best part of my upcoming trip and the first thing that crossed my mind was that I will have a chance to run without humidity. IN JULY! Seriously. That was my first thought after I booked my flight: what’s the weather like in Chicago for running this time of year.

And oh-my-gawd. Right now in Chicagoland it is in the low 80s, and the humidity is forty percent! That is f&$king dreamy to this Florida Girl. Right now, everyday I run in the mid-90s with a hundred percent humidity. I could die. Seriously. This shit is deadly.

But not next week! Whoo-hoo! I’m going to be in runner’s paradise Y’all. Or Chicago. And oh yeah, I have some great meetings lined up. Yay!

So do you want to know the first thing Hubs said when I told him I was going to Chicago next week? He said…

You know, there were twenty-seven murders in Chicago last week.

Buzz. Kill.

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got the sun in my eyes

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous -Albert Einstein

Eight months ago we met on a rainy day, at a crappy beach in the Virgin Islands. We drank overpriced fancy drinks and despite our age difference, we talked like long lost friends while our husbands chatted awkwardly, bought our drinks, and made sure we were “safe.” Then we parted ways, both thinking we’d never see each other again.

Hours later on that very same day, we met again. This time we sat on a bench, we talked for (what seemed like) hours, and we drank duty-free vodka wrapped in a brown paper bag, mixed with warm club soda by our fingers in a paper cup. Our husbands were more relaxed, and their conversation was a little-bit-less awkward.
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We knew when we returned home there would be a many states between us, so when we left the bench that day, we exchanged Facebook names on torn pieces of brown paper bag, with a pen borrowed from a confused Dutchman.

It is a coincidence that she planned a vacation near my hometown.

Yesterday we met at a beautiful beach. On a sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky.

We drank warm vodka with club soda, and we talked for hours. Our husbands chatted like old friends. I met her children. My children are grown.

We didn’t want the day to end, even though I will see her in a few months.
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It is a coincidence that I’ve planned a vacation near her hometown.

We promised to be friends forever. I think it will be so.

Do you think the universe fights for souls to be together? Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences. ― Emery Allen

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someday is tomorrow

Tomorrow morning my eighteen year old son will leave on his chest-beating-coming-of-age-I-am-an-independent-grown-up-hear-me-roar, road trip.

His traveling companions are also eighteen year old boys.

These boys are nerdy, MENSA, honor-roll types who just graduated high school last month and all of them either have a college degree already, or they have over half of the credit hours required to get one.

They also all have jobs, scholarships, serious career goals and no girlfriends, or baby mommas.

Put it this way, I’m not going to check my son’s bag for liquor or drugs, I’m going to check it for floss.

Yesterday I learned that an older, more experienced driver, an acquaintance and ex-college dorm-mate of my oldest son’s girlfriend, died in a tragic car accident last weekend.

Then my mother-in-law called to specifically remind me of her friend who lost a teenage daughter by way of an interstate accident fifty-million years ago.
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Tomorrow my son, aged eighteen and ten weeks, will drive fourteen hours across three states in holiday traffic.

I can’t breathe.
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plans?

Hubs and I made Saturday plans.

We planned to bicycle through St Andrews State Park with friends today.

Which we did.

St Andrews is an awesome and huge state park in Panama City, which is about an hour away from where we live. It has primitive campgrounds, a beach area on the Gulf, jetties, a fishing pier, alligators, an old turpentine mill, snakes and swamps…
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And a lot of roads which make it the perfect place for bicycling with friends on a hot day when your distance vision is questionable. There is a lot to see.

Or not see. Whatever. I was in contact-training.

Plus, we planned to take a dip in Gulf if we got too hot.

Which we did.

I don’t usually get in the Gulf because it’s too salty and it makes my skin feel tight, gritty and weird. But I did today. I was HOT.

Then we walked the pier and watched the fisherman.
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This is mullet. A gross but popular fish they catch off with a net. We actually have a local festival centered around this fish. Yes. We. Do.

Then we planned to head someplace, have a lunch and a few cocktails.

Which we did.

Then we planned to head home, meet up with some other friends at the dockside bar at the end of our street, have a few more cocktails, and watch the sunset over the bay.

Which we did. Not.

I fell asleep in the car on the way home and when I woke up I had slobber stuck to the side of my face and I wanted to peel the contacts out of my eyes and take a hot shower.

After my shower I wanted to have a cup of hot tea while I caught up on the last few episodes of Penny Dreadful. With Hubs, because it’s scary as shit.

And that is ALL I wanted to do. Period.

So we did. F&%k the sunset.

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glasses, braces and oh my

I’m a contact virgin. I’m the nerdy kid who always wanted to wear glasses and braces, and I never got to wear either.

Well, I used to roll up aluminum foil and mold it around my teeth to pretend I had braces, but I never actually got to officially wear real ones, I just sort of got to pretend to wear them.

But last year, I for-real got a prescription to wear glasses. And I really, really love them. In fact, I just got a new pair with the same prescription so I can mix it up a bit.
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However, I have a problem. I live in Florida and I have to wear sunglasses outside. Personally I like to wear three different pairs of sunglasses. I change sunglasses depending on the activity, and frankly progressive lenses X3 is pricey. Plus they can’t even put progressive lenses in my one favorite pair, the RayBan Aviators.

So pretty much on the weekends, I go commando. When we are bicycling, running, paddle boarding, beaching it, or kayaking, Hubs has to lead me around, point stuff out, and read shit to me.

Hubs says he is getting really tired of leading the blind.

Then there is the problem of not being able to wear glasses when I run at home, on a regular basis. Glasses fall off my face because I get sweaty. I know I could get a sports band and sports glasses and strap glasses to my extra large head, but seriously y’all, when I run I am so f&%king hot and miserable, I just want to got all Lady Godiva and strip shit off of my body.

Last week I cut off my sports bra. With scissors. Not kidding.

But back to my eyes…

And so when I run, I pretty much can’t see my Garmin.

I also couldn’t see the snake I sort of stepped on the other day. Hubs freaked and acted like it was a King Cobra snake, but really it was just a glass snake, and the shiny green kind of blended in with the black road… It really could’ve happened to anybody.

So now when I get up to run at 7AM, Hubs gets up and goes with me. Even if it’s his off-day from running. Hubs is afraid I’ll run into a pole, step on a snake, or get lost.

So… Now I got contacts.
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Can you see them? They feel weird and wiggly.

The doctor was kind of pushy but super nice, not like my experience last year, with the other eye doctor’s staff.

I learned quickly how to put the lenses in, take them out, and I learned that if they look like a little circumcised baby penises, then they are inside out. Okay, the doctor didn’t exactly describe them in this way, but I’m the mom of three boys, and I’m super familiar with penises. So if you are wondering… It’s a helpful tip.

I have bad, bad vision close-up, and far away. I mean, overall, my vision is shit, so the doctor kept pushing me toward bifocal contact lenses.

I have read that with bifocal lenses you either have crisp distance vision or crisp near vision. That you don’t get to have both. So I was leaning toward the mono vision lenses; one eye for distance, and one eye for close-up.

But the doctor kept steering me away from mono vision contacts. I was flustered. I wanted to phone a friend! I really wanted to know what my friend Denise tried, because she is like my twin. If she didn’t like the mono vision contacts, then I wouldn’t like them; if she didn’t like the bi-focial contacts, then I wouldn’t like them. That’s how it works with me and Denise.

I know, that sounds weird. But we are THAT creepy-similar-alike.

But I didn’t ask the doctor if I could use a lifeline because I didn’t want to seem like I was flying my freak flag. I know. Since when did I care about that? Something happens to me in an eye doctor’s office. I lose my backbone. I turn to butter. I get all pliable.

I left with bifocal contacts.

Right now as I sit here, I can see my computer screen perfectly. And I can’t see my dog across the room.

When I go back to the eye doctor Monday for a re-check, I think I’ll bring Hubs with me. He won’t have to go all Games of Thrones this time because I’m not looking for heads on sticks. This eye doctor and her staff were very nice. Just maybe, if I offer Hubs some car sex, and promise not to try to run anyone over in the parking lot, he’ll be my backbone and make her give me mono vision lenses.

Oh, and one more helpful tip, besides the baby penises: Don’t go to a contact appointment with your teenager. You are already an embarrassment to him by your mere existance. Therefore, your constant squinting, blinking, peering through one eye like a pirate, and asking him if your contact is hanging out, will push him over the edge.

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i’m not ready…

“Mom, don’t wash any of my clothes. I’m saving up all of my dirty laundry and I’m going to wash it right before I leave on my trip.”

Nic is referring to the fourteen hour road trip he has been planning for several months, with three other eighteen year old boys. Over the July Fourth weekend. To a large convention. In a major city. No parents allowed.

I realize I’ve never taught my youngest son how to pack for a trip. My older two sons spent their childhood traveling back and forth between me and their dad, but not this son. His dad is here, with me. With him. And we traveled, for sure. But I’ve always packed for him. I’ve always been there. For. Him.

There are still so many things I have to teach him.

I take a deep breath to steady my voice before I attempt to rationally converse with my eighteen year old son about why he plans to hoard dirty laundry for the next six days.

Nic, exactly when do y’all plan to leave for the convention?

“At one in the morning on Thursday, that way we will miss rush hour traffic, have an hour for lunch, take three twenty minute pit stops, and arrive at our hotel exactly at check-in time.”

Did I mention Nic is eighteen going on fifty? Yeah. He is.

And holy sheep shit. Hubs is gonna jump out of his skin when he hears these kids are leaving in the middle of the night. HA! And Hubs thought this trip would never happen. I knew all along this trip would not only happen, but it would be as well planned as Kardashian wedding. Okay. I’m grinning, but just for a second.

I take another deep breath and ponder the more immediate issues at hand: dirty clothes hoarding and packing skills…

Well Nic, why don’t you bring me all of your dirty clothes now, and I’ll wash them. Then, the day before you leave I’ll help you wash and fold everything. That way all of your clothes will be fresh for your trip. That’s how I’ve always packed for trips. Does that sound good to you?

“Great idea Mom. Thanks.”

And then I watched as Nic made three trips from his bedroom to the laundry room, each time with an overflowing hamper of dirty clothes.

I remind myself, it’s either this or he’ll be living in a trailer with a chain smoking baby momma.

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boobs are the first sign

Soooo what happens to you when your favorite sibling and their partner dump you because they are immature, selfish fatheads?

Well, let me just tell you. So you know…

First you spend the weekend at the beach with great friends drinking mojitos and you try to pretend you are in your happy place. Or Key West. Which is kind of the same thing.

Then you get chased through the grocery by a really nice man, overly eager to make you sample his chocolate. And it’s really good chocolate. Because well, it’s f&%king chocolate.

You cry a lot. And you never quite capture that feeling of being in Key West, although you have a great time with your friends and you finish all of your mojitos.

Oh, and you buy the chocolate. Because it’s chocolate. Later, you eat the entire tin of chocolate.

A few hours after that, you see yourself in a photograph on Facebook with your boobs hanging low, far-flung, and half-out of your bathing suit, with your husband’s little head poking over your shoulder.

So you decide to go bathing suit shopping because you will never wear that bathing suit in public again. And you find the most awesome bathing suit. With a zipper. So you can zip that shit up.

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Then reality sets in and you decide to go on a diet. Because size six people don’t have boobs. You realize that this is the first place you gain weight…

They’re here…

So a serious I-gotta-drag-this-ass-and-these-pups-through-the-streets-of-Ohio-in-thirteen-weeks-oh-my-gawd kind of diet, starts. Now.
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Yes. That is Kale. And other four-letter-word food.

So essentially, when your favorite sibling unfriends you, a crazed-chubby-chaser will follow you through the grocery store trying to feed you chocolate on a tiny spoon, your Hubs will hide his entire body behind yours in a picture that will get blasted to your friends on Facebook, and you realize you have fat-girl boobs.

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it’s not “just” facebook…

Sometimes it’s not just Facebook. Sometimes it’s your connection.

One of my siblings recently had a baby and as it happens, life got busy for me and my sibling at the same time. In the past month since the baby’s birth I haven’t even met the baby, but I loved perusing Facebook looking for new photos. Facebook and Instagram were my baby-connection.

I mean, me and my sibling both thought we were trying to connect in real-life… I texted to ask when I could come to see the baby, and my sibling said anytime. Then I asked for a more specific, and convenient time.

And nothing. My sibling was busy. I tried to understand. Patience isn’t one of my virtues. Sure. I got snotty.

Then my life got busy too. My business took off. My son graduated from high school. I had business meetings and business travel, and a lot of things going on in general. And my sibling thought I was ignoring the happy life-event.

But everyday I visited Facebook and Instagram looking for a new photo of the baby. Facebook was my link to my sibling’s child.

And last night was no exception. Before I went to bed I checked Facebook, and Instagram.

Imagine my surprise when I learned I had been “unfriended.” By my sibling. And his partner. On Facebook. And on Instagram.

Surprise doesn’t quite cover it. Let’s call it hysteria. That’s an appropriate descriptor. I cried until after four this morning, and then I finally fell asleep.

I woke up to long texts from my sibling, and the partner. I learned I was unfriended because they didn’t like one of my Facebook friends.

No kidding. I’m serious.

They both went on and on in separate texts giving me great detail about why they didn’t like my friend, and honestly I skimmed over all the dirt. I have no interest in my sibling’s high school romance-drama with my Facebook friend, anymore than I have an interest in a daytime television soap opera.

My friend is my friend. I am as loyal to her as I am to my sibling. Actually, if push ever came to shove, I would be more loyal to my sibling; but my friend would never push or shove to that boundary. She. Is. My. Friend.

And we are talking about Facebook! You have privacy controls and settings, and if you don’t want someone to see your posts. YOU can control Facebook! You don’t unfriend your sibling. Your child’s aunt. Your family.

Unless her feelings are expendable..?

In attempts to defend their action, my sibling’s partner pointed out they are only on Facebook because that’s how the partner’s family sees the baby since the family doesn’t live nearby.

When I countered to the partner that was how I saw the baby too, that Facebook and Instagram were my connection to the baby, I was instantly shut down. I was reminded that I live twenty miles away (which is a forty minute drive one-way this time of year). I guess I’m expected to give up my day job and fight tourist traffic if I want to see daily pictures of the baby -either that or let them pick my friends.

If seeing photos and connecting with the baby on Facebook and Instagram is good enough for my sibling’s partner’s family, why isn’t good enough for my sibling’s family?

No, the partner said. We are not trying to manipulate or control you. Right.

After several texts, my sibling’s partner finally copped out and said, “I didn’t realize unfriending you would be such a big deal, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”

WTH?! But I thought it was important to unfriend me because you didn’t approve of my Facebook friend? Uh? After that, I just gave up. Frankly, this whole situation is just sad. These people have a child now, and they don’t seem to understand that actions have consequences. That people have feelings, and that Facebook CAN hurt.

It’s not just Facebook.

On a weird note, I can’t help but be proud of my younger sibling for presenting a united front with his partner, albeit against me. But really, this is how it should be in a strong relationship. My Hubs always has my back. So good job little sibling, I really do wish you and your family the best.

Sadly though, my sibling chose to alienate a loyal, faithful perosn, one who loves them all very much. Or, maybe it was my choice because it is all just so f*%king awkward now. It’s hard to tell…

Ahh, but what is one less crazy Aunt. Right?

(Sniff)

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