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Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Crazy Lives Beside Us

The Hunter had a really funny run-in with one of our neighbors that I haven’t written about.  I’ll try to keep it short but this will provide context to to my next post.

About 3 months ago we had a code enforcement officer stop by the house.  We weren’t home and he didn’t leave any information on why he was here.  My son was home and the officer was asking if the Hunter was running his business out of our house.  My son didn’t confirm or deny this and he duly informed the Hunter when he arrived home ahead of me.

I pulled into the driveway to see two cardboard signs attached to the trees out front. “Neighbors, we have a snitch who calls code enforcement” (I don’t remember the exact words, but that’s the gist of it).  I laughed and admired the Hunter’s audacity.  He thought I would be upset, but in my mind he was merely exercising his First Amendment right.  He wanted to add “Snitches get stitches”, but I advised him that this additional language was threatening and could get him into trouble.  He changed it to “Snitches are bitches”.

We knew who had turned us in — our batshit crazy next-door neighbor.  She is a screaming shrew who has fought viciously with our landlady after a BFF falling out.  I won’t go into their drama but let’s say that both sides probably bear responsibility.  Couple that with my landlady who has never seen an argument go unargued, and I can only imagine the fireworks when they lived side-by-side.

Anyway back to our drama.  We know it was our neighbor because the previous week the Hunter had given his business card to her teenage stepson because he wanted to have him help do some techie work with his GoPro camera.  Nobody else in the neighborhood knows the name of his business and the code enforcement officer had the name when he talked to my son, so it was an easy puzzle to solve.

Keep in mind that the Hunter named no names on either signs.  Neighbors drove or walked by regularly because it was early evening and folks were arriving home from work.  They read the sign and laughed or waved.  Within the hour, Crazy lady (CL) pulls into her driveway while we are sitting out back enjoying the early evening breeze.  “Motherfucker!!” she screams.  The Hunter looked at me and we giggled.  “Guess who’s home”, I say.

The Hunter has some big ass balls.  He grabbed his GoPro and walked into the front yard.  She had gone ballistic and marched over to the neighbors next to her to gain some allies. We had discovered early into our tenancy that they were also jerks (birds of a feather) but we never really had to deal with them, so it had never been a big deal.  They start screaming at the Hunter.

“Look out!! He’s got a gun!!!” was Neighbor’s first scream.  The Hunter calmly replied, “No, it’s a camera”.  The GoPro was on a selfie stick.  “Don’t film us!” Neighbor screams.

“We have lived here 20 years and we aren’t going to have that that kind of shit in our yard.”  Ummm, it’s in our yard, I think.

“We have called the cops”  Excellent because we need some protection from your crazy selves, I think.  Keep in mind that I am cowering in our house because I don’t have the Hunter’s confrontational chops.  I can hear everything though.

“You are just a tenant!” Um, what does that have to do with anything?

As the police arrived, we decided to sit inside and watch a pre-season football game, so the cops can deal with the crazies first without having to deal with us as well.  As we are sitting there, my phone began exploding.  My landlady was texting and calling me to ask what is this sign and demand that we remove it.  I ignored her because I needed to live thru the chaos in front of me.  I was also wondering how the heck she knew when CL basically has a restraining order against my landlady and cannot contact her directly.  Apparently CL enlisted the Neighbors to contact landlady who had no idea who was texting her all kinds of crazy messages.

Eventually the police came over and knocked on the door.  There are two — both young.  One is soft-spoken and polite; the other is a bit tougher.  We stepped outside to chat with them.  They told us that they explained to the crazy neighbors that we are well within our First Amendment rights to have the sign in the yard.  We began discussing the catalyst of the code enforcement officer visit.  The neighbor came to the edge of our yard to videotape us.  All 4 of us ignored her.

The cops told us that the neighbors were upset with the profanity.  Tough cop, with a straight face, said that they were cursing like sailors as they said the profanity offended them, so he told them he couldn’t believe that.  The tough cop then asked if we would remove the profanity.  “I would hate for the neighborhood kids to see it, ” he explained.  I refrained from being a smart ass by saying that if they could read it they had probably already learned that word.  The Hunter graciously said that he had made his point and would bring the signs inside and did so.  He had made his point, so the signs weren’t necessary.  All 4 of us mulled over why CL would have such a strong reaction to signs that didn’t name anyone…..interesting…..

There is more to the story.  I dealt with our landlady using the beautiful strategy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, so our relationship has improved significantly.  I sent her the GoPro video which she put on her Facebook, shared with friends and family and probably caused CL more drama because they have mutual FB friends.  I never intended her to distribute it, but, hey, that’s her choice.  In my email to my landlady, I warned her that if CL harassed us in any way, we would find it to be a threat and violation of our quiet enjoyment which could result in us moving out early.  I called her and softened it by explaining that I needed to give her formal notice just to protect us both.  She understood.

The other neighbors around us loved the dramatic evening.  We heard from several, “she got what she deserved”.  One sat with his wife in his backyard which ended up being a front row seat for the entire saga.  He said it was one of his most enjoyable evenings in the neighborhood in years.  CL had sicced code enforcement on him several times apparently.

Although at the beginning I was really nervous about such a huge confrontation with a neighbor, I ended up finding the whole episode ridiculously hilarious.  It was a good learning experience for me about difficult confrontations.  The stepson saw us the next day and gave us a sly grin and “What’s Up”.  He and his dad are no longer allowed to chat with us, but he continues to say hello and wave.

All of this leads up to the past week where the Hunter has shown himself to be a better, more restrained, less vindictive person than me.


Irmageddon Part 1

This will probably be the first of many posts about Irma.  That bitch is hellbent on destroying my hometown for the past 30+ years.  She is very dangerous.  There are so many newbies to SFLA that they have no idea what Irma is really like, however, people are preparing.

My FB feed is exploding.  People evacuating, people staying, everyone panicky and no supplies to be found.  The Hunter and I gassed up at 4:30 am on Tuesday.  We were one of the last customers at a station that dispensed 9,000 gallons since 7:00 pm the night before.

We have a sturdy bunker of a house in an area that is inland enough to be out of all evacuation zones.  The roof was replaced in 2005, so it’s as good as it gets.  The windows are impact-resistant and the house is a low ranch facing south-southeast — one of the best profiles for the wind.  The Hunter is getting the outdoors ready while I do things like…pack up important papers, write, deal with a dreadful migraine that left me vomiting this morning, monitor friends and family thru FB, etc.  In other words, I am trying to deny the existence of a hellish weekend.

My adorable son-in-law from the Northeast can’t fathom why we don’t evacuate.  I calmly explain that it’s not an option.  Florida has tens of thousands of tourists from the Keys, cruise ships, attractions who all need to get the heck out of the way.  The highways are packed with no gas at the exits.  We also have elderly, special needs and kidlet folks who shouldn’t be here before, during or for the aftermath, so let them get outside of the Zone.

Our building code is designed for people to shelter in place.  We need to trust it, although, a Cat 5 wasn’t part of the plan.  If we can keep the roof intact, we’ll be OK.  To that end, all doors will be kept shut during the storm to keep the pressure compartmentalized, so if one section goes, we can hopefully slow or prevent other roof sections from going.  Yes, that’s the type of thing we are discussing on FB.  It worked for me in Andrew and it worked for others in other hurricanes.

In the meantime life goes on for others.  I see on FB that a work colleague lost his father on Tuesday.  Another whose husband has been so very ill for the past two months and was just re-hospitalized.  His prognosis is grim.  Another friend’s dog passed away yesterday.  I have friends with wee babies, others with pregnant daughters and wives (who have been sent far away).  My life is simple now, so it’s easier to cope with the preparations.

Pray for the folks of SFLA.  The poor folks don’t have the financial means to stockpile food and water for a week. The rich folks are dealing with full-house generators that suddenly decided to go on strike at the moment of true crisis.  Lots of friends are figuring out what the heck to do with their boats.  It’s crazy right now, but I just keep reminding myself to eat this elephant one bite at a time.

See you on the other side, Maggie




Another Anniversary

hurricane andrew

Here is a fun fact about me — I am a Hurricane Andrew survivor.  Today is the 25th anniversary, so my fellow PTSD victims and I are re-living memories of that day and the aftermath.  Hurricane Andrew was a compact Category 5 storm that touched down in South Florida less than 10 miles from my home.  Taz was 2-years old at the time.  At my insistence, we evacuated inland a mere 5 miles, so we got to hunker down in a townhouse with about 18 family members wondering what the heck was going on. Through a skylight I watched a satellite dish turn inside out like an umbrella.  That’s when you know shit is getting real.

I have tons of memories both good and bad, but one of my FB friends decided to remember the good, so since I’m a tad grouchy at the end of a challenging day, let’s focus on that.

I remember my neighbors, because we were the only block with quasi-habitable homes, pooling together money so two people could drive up to 60 miles to buy everyone groceries.  We didn’t really know many of them until after the storm and then we knew EVERYBODY.  I remember having a block party every night so we could share food, propane and most importantly the fellowship of survivorhood.  It was actually fun.

I remember getting free medicine from a mobile clinic when Taz got pink-eye from bathing in the lake (God, it was hotter than Hades after the storm — a high pressure system that was unbelievable).    Taz didn’t think she was treated by a real doctor because it was a man, a kindly internist who had to ask his nurse the right dosage for a 2-year old. LOL — even at that age she was challenging authority.

I remember, after 10 days of camping at the house, moving in with some old friends and we lived a hippie commune life for a month.  We had at any given time 6-10 adults and various kids coming and going.  It was a blast. I cried when it was time to return home.

Days before the storm I had given notice at a job and was scheduled to start a new one.  Both employers were concerned and offered all types of help and assistance.  I felt blessed.  My old employer paid me even though I never went back (except to pick up the final check).

My neighbors behind me lost everything.  Her contraceptive sponges were inside my house.  I found their clothes, pictures — you name it and it had blown into my house.  They came by to check out their house and realized it was gone.  I handed them a box of their personal effects.  The next day I saw them on the side of the road by the shopping center grilling and giving away hot dogs to anyone who stopped.

The local strip joint was up and running in days.  They were making money hand over fist even though last call was at 5:00 pm due to a dusk to dawn curfew.  Any restaurant or store that was open was making obscene amounts of money — cash money.

The housing developer for the area handed out free food, diapers, water — they were the first aid that arrived.  Followed by looters selling stuff from the back of pickup trucks.

I had neighbors that were helpful and on the lookout for any mischief.  One of them was an Army staff Sargent we called Rambo.  He set up a nightly patrol system complete with passwords, 2-hour shifts and did a weapons check on everybody.   I felt safe even though a block away a good friend had his Jacuzzi stolen out of his backyard in broad daylight. Within a week, our security force was INS until the National Guard was mobilized with enough people to handle things.  INS was the best — they were badasses and our neighbor worked there.  Our street was their #1 priority.

My house was habitable and we had a new roof and windows before Christmas.  We were lucky.  I had power in a month, cable in two months.  The cable folks thought I was nuts when I placed my order to have it turned back on.

It was tough though.  My father-in-law had cancer and they lived a couple of blocks from us.  My Ex’s siblings packed up their dad and mom and shipped them out of the country for a few months until the dust settled.  They lost the house they were renting and the house they had a contract on, so why stay in chaos?

I had insisted that we all evacuate on Sunday (Andrew hit on Monday).  My Ex didn’t want to, so I told him to sit in front of the TV for 30 minutes and then decide.  I told him regardless that Taz and I were going to stay at his sister’s and I was packing up.  He watched and without another word packed up his parents.  We grabbed some South American friends that lived a few blocks away.  They didn’t want to leave, but we were in a mandatory evacuation zone, so we insisted.  As we drove away, the wife exclaimed that they needed to go back because she forgot to turn on the alarm.  We laughed hysterically at the time.  They had been in the country two weeks. They lost everything and I found their couch cushions in a lake a half mile away a few days later.

We had a neighbor that stayed in his house even though we were supposed to leave.  He and his dog rode out the storm until the side of his house fell off.  Yes, our neighborhood had houses that lost entire sides — it looked like a giant dollhouse.  Ceiling fans, scattered contents and no exterior wall — bizarre.  Anyway, when the side of his house disappeared, he made the brilliant decision to make a run for his car.  He grabbed the dog, opened the door and saved his own life by clinging to the column of the front stoop.  The dog was sucked away by the storm.  He spent hours clinging to the stoop.  He lived albeit with scratches and cuts all over him.  He spent a day or two in the hospital and we never saw him after that.

A friend of mine rented a house a couple of years later in an older, nearby neighborhood.  The owner said that during the storm (he was another idiot who didn’t evacuate) he looked out his sliding glass door and realized that the water was 5 feet deep outside the house.  How that glass door held up is beyond reason — he retreated to his attic until he lost the roof.  Geez, people, evacuate for goodness sakes!

Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but let me mention some of my lessons learned:

  • Possessions don’t mean shit.  You can always get a new couch or a new house, but you can’t replace photographs/memories/loved ones.  Now I grab all my important papers and old photo albums.
  • If you are told to evacuate, do it.  Don’t hesitate, get the heck out of there as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t buy tons of canned foods in a crisis — I lived on crackers and canned fruit with a lovely grilled steak occasionally.  It was too damn hot to eat much else.  Give me lots of water and a battery-operated fan.
  • Focus on the kids — make sure that they feel safe and taken care of.  Taz came through with flying colors.  We had to stop potty-training because that was asking too much of her.  The moment we got back into the house and her old daycare, she was potty-trained — she just needed life to stabilize.  It broke my heart during the first week when all she wanted was a Popsicle, but dammit, we figured out how to get her one by the end of the week.
  • Have a good hurricane box.  Paper plates, trash bags, wet wipes, the list goes on.
  • You can live through pretty much anything if you just keep your calm, but sometimes you have to unleash your crazy to get shit done.  Example:  a couple of months after the Hurricane, we were back in our house but my landline kept going out.  Always on a weekend, always when I was alone with Taz while my Ex was working.  With his dad so sick, limited communication was not an option.  I remember standing in the grocery store on a payphone multiple times until I finally had a meltdown.  Meltdowns were common occurrences in our local grocery store, so nobody thought twice about it.  Anyway, I burst into hysterical screaming tears with the phone company rep and pleaded my case:  hurricane survivor, sick father-in-law, 2-year old, all alone — they had to do something.  She put me on hold, got a supervisor and I awoke the next day (Saturday) to the sound of men with pickaxes digging up my underground phone cable.  Apparently the salt water from the storm surge corroded all the underground cables.  They fixed mine first and then worked their way through the entire neighborhood.  I thanked her in my prayers for many nights.

Hurricane Andrew was my first hurricane.  I told my Ex that living through one natural disaster was enough.  We went to live through many more hurricanes.  I’m cautious about them.  I have to be inside and preparations are thorough.  Now, it’s time to say a prayer of thanks for all my blessings.

Happy WP Anniversary

It has now been 3 years of posting my thoughts, feelings and adventures.  What a journey.  I’m sitting outside this morning catching my breath and re-grouping. But I wanted to take a moment to thank my Dear Readers for being an unexpected part of my journey.  I blog for myself in order to gain some clarity, but along the way I found a community of other soul-searchers.  Thank you for your comments, thank you for reading and writing your own blogs.  I have learned a lot.

Have a beautiful day and life.

Losing Sight of Shore

Losing Sight of Shore is an amazing documentary currently on Netflix. It is the story of the Coxless Crew – 4 women who ROWED across the Pacific from San Francisco to Cairns, Australia. They started with the quote “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Of course that quote was Christopher Columbus, but I had never heard it before this documentary. Grab a bottle of wine and watch it – it’s amazing. These are among the bravest women I have ever seen.

final_ocean_quote_pictureIn any case, that quote has been rattling around my brain this week. It’s been a week of highs and lows. Let’s start with the lows and get them out of the way:
• I have been rejected for new business (OK, shit happens),
• Today marks the last day with a lovely client (I will miss them and the $$)
• A frenemy is riding that high of launching his own company and he’s on that early wave of beginner’s luck that I had. (My green-eyed monster reared its head.)
• I asked a long-ago boss for some business and he soundly rejected me, but I have to say the conversation was really constructive and he was kind enough to walk me through why he was saying no and he was right. (Life lesson, sigh).
• I can’t seem to get myself up on a consistent schedule/routine. I’m really frustrated about this.

Now let’s talk about the high’s for the week:
• I’m winning a new piece of business that isn’t easy, but it could be very cool with a nice payday.
• I have a new project that launched this week – also not easy but cool.
• The Hunter gave an amazing presentation to a small group of his ideal type of client and hit it out of the park.
• My son is hanging with us and it’s been lovely to see him
• I just had a lovely chat with a great friend and we made plans to see each other next week. She’s always a great inspiration and mentor to me.

I didn’t have a lot of wins, but these were good. It wasn’t a particularly busy week (another problem). I spent time on some things that I shouldn’t (correcting that course!). I didn’t spend time on things that do matter (like my cold calling course and other business development).

I am now headed out to sea without the shoreline in sight. I have very little to nothing in my pipeline. Yes, my bank account is now safely in the black with about 6 months of reserve, but I feel anxious and the pressure of an empty pipeline. I have to remind myself that Robin needs to pull her weight with the business development and she can’t be included on every $$ that I bring in unless she has actually worked on it. I’ve been down that road before and I ended up broke & resentful.

I talked to my BFF because I feel the stress. I wake up (unless I exercise and take a melatonin) in the middle of the night thinking about work. I’m having a few anxiety dreams (a man stalking me down a street with the intent of killing me – that was a lovely one). She sadly told me that this is all perfectly normal and probably won’t go away anytime soon. WTF? My other great friend just told me that I just need to give it another 6 months and then I’ll be more stabilized. She should know – she has been an independent business owner for many years.

The Hunter took me to the beach this week with the Kracken. I had an active, not even resting, bitch face on which scares him. LOL. The walk was fabulous. He dealt with the dog and I strolled up and down the beautiful, windswept beach watching the waves, the light dim – it nourished my soul. I have started listening to my daily affirmations and it calms my negative self-talk.  Today we are knocking off early to celebrate his great day and I hope we do a replay. This man truly gets me.


She’s Dead

The Hunter’s mom died a few days after his birthday.  My wish was granted for her not to die on his birthday.  I just spent an intensive 24 hours with his family and gained a lot of interesting insight into his familial dynamics.  I talked to the Hunter about some of it last night as we drove home, and he is now digesting my thoughts.

Families are interesting communities and the Hunter’s is no different from most.  The Hunter was the youngest — the youngest cousin, the youngest in his family (his sister is 7 years older).  He was, like I said previously, that active, annoying little brother who was always into everything, tagging along and getting into trouble.  That’s his role in the family and even now, at age 50, that’s how the family treats him.  He reacts that way too sometimes because he’s playing his role.  More about that later in this post…

I told the Hunter that his sister’s eulogy was lovely — it was, but it represented parts of his mother that he didn’t always see.  He agreed.  I told him that I am sure he is full of conflict because he saw a side of his mother others didn’t.   I asked him if perhaps his mom beat him so much because he is the spitting image of his dad?  That gave him pause and he’s thinking about it.

The reason I said that was during the waiting, night after night, for his mom to pass, his sister told him quite a revelation.  Apparently his dad was quite the player (apple didn’t fall far from the tree) and had several women friends that would pay for his company.  One of his dad’s many jobs was as a maitre d’ at a nice restaurant and a couple of women apparently enjoyed his companionship outside of the dining experience.  These relationships endured for many years and his mother was aware of them.  His sister remembered their most epic fight was over a bundle of cash his dad had stashed away and his mother spotted it.  So his dad was a gambler, womanizing, handsome guy while his mom was the June Cleaver of the neighborhood — cooking great memorable meals, planning all the family get-togethers, sewing amazing outfits (that she later sold).  I could see where there could be some tension….

I ended up being the odd woman out on this family occasion which wasn’t a big deal.  I knew several of them and was able to have some great chats, but oftentimes I simply sat and observed with a pleasant expression on my face.  The younger generation (Nino and his cousins) found me to be hip and cool.  The older set found me polite and warm.  I stuffed my face with great food.

When his cousin sat beside me to tell me that the Hunter’s mom, who passed due to complications of advanced Alzheimer’s, was waiting for the Hunter to say good-bye, I swallowed my cynical thoughts and mildly said, “really?  Why do you say that?”  She told me that she knew due to her 5-years of home health experience and that she was clearly right because his mom passed away 12 hours later.  I, of course, am a bit too realistic to think that her brain was still connected to her soul at that point.  Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and I think his mom had been gone a long, long time.

I also saw, but didn’t speak to, Nino’s mom — the Hunter’s baby momma aka common law wife.  She was not what I was expecting.  The Hunter and Nino took care of her and I later told the Hunter it was nice that she showed up to pay her respects and support her son without becoming a problem.  She stayed 20 minutes, said her hellos, made one mildly snarky comment and left.  Perfect.

I scored major brownie points with the Hunter’s sister.  She didn’t include him in the service and at the last minute came to me asking if the Hunter wanted to speak.  She had asked him and he had said he would put something together with me, but he never told me.  I suggested that perhaps he could thank everyone for their support and love.  She loved it, I arranged it with the Hunter and he said a beautiful thank you — especially to his sister for all her love and care for their mom.  It was perfect.

I also saw a family that is full of love.  Two children (8 and 4) dropped by and everyone doted on them.  There were stories of gatherings, parties, dinners that were wonderful.  After all the viewings, service and burial, the closest family (including us) went out to a nice dinner that was full of laughter and memories.  I went home with a very full belly and pleasant thoughts.

I don’t know if his family can change their approach to the Hunter and if he can change his reactions to them.  I can see where old habit die hard, but perhaps it might be worth another attempt.  She’s gone and his dad will soon follow because he’s 86 with dementia. It sucks getting old….

Do I Suck at Relationships?

In my business it is always about relationships and I have come to realize that I’m not particularly good with relationships (both personal and business to be candid). I don’t follow up so much or keep in front of people. I have no idea how to wine and dine clients effectively and made them my bosom buddies. I don’t text my kids every day (we talk about once a week); I talk to my dad about once every 2-3 weeks when he initiates. For work, I’m the type that comes in friendly and approachable, gets the job done and leaves. Wham, bam, thank you! I don’t take them out for drinks, plays, business events – I’m shitty at that stuff and it’s getting worse as I get older because my tolerance for large events is fading.

I think it goes back to my childhood. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and my compulsive mother went back to school, did an internship and flitted around with a new job every couple of years. This led to me living in 5 different cities in 10 years and 9 schools in the same time period. Friends became disposable because I was constantly moving. What’s nice today is that I connected with my dearest high school friends on Facebook, but I don’t go see them or travel with them – it’s mainly an online thing. My mom didn’t set a good example because she didn’t have many friends – who could with all that moving around. Once she retired, she struggled with making friends because she had no clue what goes into a friendship. A typical example is when she told me about a nice lady who she invited to a movie and they had a great time, but the woman never called her to invite her to something. My mom said, “I’m not going to call her, it’s her turn.” I said, “Why? Maybe she doesn’t have any ideas of things to do or maybe something is going on in her life or she’s shy. Why deprive yourself of a friend because of some arbitrary rule you created?” That stopped her in her tracks.

Right now, my days and free time are generally spent 80% of the time or more with the Hunter. Over the next couple of weekends, he will be in the woods every weekend which is freeing up some time for me. This gives me some space to explore my thoughts on relationships and see how I can solidify some of the great ones I have and perhaps develop some others.

As I was reading back through this post and some others that I wrote (I tend to binge write), I realized that I can solve both my relationship crisis (for a dramatic turn of phrase) and friendship issue by joining more things. My best adult friendships have come from joining things that I enjoy – damn, I met the Hunter in a hiking club for crying out loud. I met my BFF at a women’s networking event and other good friends through Toastmasters (nothing like a personal speech to get to know someone). OK, I need to join perhaps a book club or another Toastmasters club closer to home. I just have to remind myself NOT TO VOLUNTEER for any leadership roles –- I don’t have time for that.

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