Saturday, April 18, 2009

What a nightmare

Most of the people who knew me in college will remember that period of my life where I hated my teeth so much that whenever I smiled for pictures, I would keep my lips closed. After a few years I realized this made me look like I was bored in the pictures, which was far from the case, so I threw caution to the wind and smiled with abandon anyway. The displeasure with my teeth never abated though, so I decided to get braces at the age of 26 (two years ago for those who are counting).

It was not the most fun having braces, but I wasn't as embarrassed as would have thought. I tried this new fast version that did the job in only a year by using wires bent by a machine with high pressure, and then they get shipped to the orthodontist who installs them, and when heated up (by 98.6 degrees in the mouth), they shift from their cold shape of the-teeth-that-were into their warm shape of the-way-the-teeth-will-be. After going through 3 different versions of those wires, I was done and moved on to a retainer.

Thinking that I would be so much more responsible with frequency of retainer use since I had paid for everything myself was a mistake. I would almost say hubris, but I wasn't quite so young anymore so I should have been a bit past that. I've been horrible about wearing my retainer, but last week I decided to give it a go again. I started putting it in at night again, and boy, does it not fit. I've been wearing it anyway, hoping it will gradually resolve the shape over time and begin to fit again. I push it into place to the point of mild pain, but not to the point where it hurts so much I can't fall asleep. But it has woken me up several times at 2 or 3 in the morning (yes, me!! waking up in the middle of the night!! control your shock...), so uncomfortable that I take it out and stumble back to bed. Since I've been wearing it again, I've been a little concerned about causing my teeth to shift and become loose since I'm applying extra pressure in the night and then giving them no support during the day when I'm not wearing the retainer.

On Sunday I was visiting in Minnesota at my parents' place and spent a quiet afternoon reading a book about a frontier girl. It was almost time to get ready for everyone to leave for church for the evening service, and I felt one of my teeth wiggle. It was on the bottom right side of my mouth, the last small tooth before they change to molars. It was that kind of wiggle I remembered as a kid, when my baby teeth were falling out...the kind where it's really loose and if you even try to clench your teeth together your tongue has to help the loose tooth to stay in the correct position instead of flopping too far in or out, but it also is too loose vertically and slightly hurts when it gets pressed down back into its space...the kind of loose where it's practically ready to fall out on its own and you might as well just pull it.

I was petrified. I was trying to be responsible with wearing my retainer again, not cause a whole additional set of problems and make a tooth fall out!! I tried not to touch it with my tongue, hoping it would just stay in place and maybe I wouldn't eat for a month and it would solidify back in it's spot again (except I immediately knew THAT wasn't realistic, since it's hard enough not to eat for an afternoon). But I find that when I'm nervous or aware of something in my mouth, my saliva glands become aware of it too, and go into overdrive. And trying to swallow then required suction to get all the saliva away, and suction created pressure on the loose tooth, and ... BAM... it was out and floating in my mouth.

Petrified turned to panic, plus it was time to leave for church. I didn't tell anyone about my tooth because it was kind of my fault for having not worn the retainer for 6 months and then trying to force it back into commission again. I had everyone leave on their own and said I would take the last car. Meanwhile, I dug through my suitcase and purse looking for my medical information and phone numbers to call to ask what I should do about a tooth that fell out. Questions raced through my head--can the tooth be reattached or reinserted somehow? Is a tooth alive and needing to be placed on ice to keep some sort of marrow preserved or something? If all my medical/dental/orthodontic connections are in Florida, who do I even call while in Minnesota? Do I go to the emergency room for a lost tooth--surely, not?

Meanwhile, with one tooth gone and out of my mouth, the other teeth in the same row now had less support holding them up, and I could feel their tenuous grip slipping (or was it my tenuous grip on reality?). With additional teeth acquiring that loosey-goosey feeling, of course my panic increased! By now my entire top row of teeth was in question, and I tried to clamp down to hold them in place while I figured out what to do. Well, that was a mistake because not only could I not talk on my cell phone to find out what to do next, but it caused shooting pain up into my gums and they started to bleed.

As anyone knows, bleeding in the vicinity of the head always seems excessive, and in my mouth it was the same case. I had blood oozing from the gums around my teeth, and now my feelings of panic had to share space with being totally grossed out. And with the blood, I was now confined to the bathroom to try to contain the damage to one room with tile that could be easily wiped up later, and trying to keep all of that away from the cell phone in my left hand so it would remain dry and functional. I had a brilliant thought that I would put in my retainer to help hold my teeth in place and then instead of them being all floppy and shifty and individually scary, I would only have to concentrate on them unified in the retainer, and maybe it would hold them in place while I was getting to urgent care. Except, when I popped the retainer in, it was the last straw for my teeth. They shifted in more pain, gave up the ghost, and fell out in one unified front. At least they were all neatly arranged in the retainer so they would be easy to transport and not lose any down the drain of the sink.

Well, that would have been a nice thought except the situation freaked me out so much that I dropped the whole thing in the sink anyway, and now had to fight nausea along with the blood loss, panic, and feelings of guilt. My mouth continued to fill with blood and my floppy remaining bottom teeth, and then...

...and then I was so overwhelmed I finally woke myself up. BEFORE 8 AM ON A SATURDAY MORNING. What a nightmare! And I couldn't get back to sleep since the dream was so vivid and filled with panicky emotions, so here I am sharing it with you. Sorry for the blood!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Giving thanks, in whatsoever state I am

I got to spend the Thanksgiving season in the state of Minnesota this year. Among the many, many things to give God thanks for was the lovely weather while I was there. It averaged around 40 degrees for the upper end of each day's temperature range. Since the weeks prior to Christmas included several at -8 degrees, I count myself very fortunate!

I got to bring Stephen with me to meet my family and MN friends, and I believe they had a great time getting to know each other. Part of that included a day trip with Kris taking Stephen and I via the lightrail to downtown Minneapolis and showing us the sights--some of which I had only rarely seen myself!

We kicked off the day with a visit to the Wells Fargo Museum (yes, it exists as a tiny part of the 5th Street Tower building--and there are some in other major WF cities such as Des Moines and San Francisco).

My favorite parts were the authentic stagecoach in the lobby... (in which visitors were not allowed to ride)

And the not-so-antique replica upstairs that we not only got to climb into, but the museum curator made sure we were settled and then began rocking it to give us the feel of what a stagecoach ride would have entailed. Stephen wondered how that responsibility would have showed up on her job description ... "Must be able to jump up and haul on the corner of a stagecoach to simulate movement for museum visitors." Hmm. I was flabbergasted to learn that the passenger capacity was 15-18. They crammed 3 people on the benches on either side, and had another removable bench going across the center area of the stage. Another 6-9 people would sit along the top with some of the luggage, although I have no idea how they managed to hang on with just that itty bitty railing to protect them from the jostling. Certainly no sleeping on that road trip. Our simulated ride was much less crowded with just the 3 of us to fill the benches, but we still managed to keep it cozy.
I also had a fondness for the snowy white steeds that faithfully stood outside the stagecoach. They contributed mightily to the authenticity of the experience.

We swung by the Depot, but they weren't opening their ice skating season for another few days. Someone who seemed to be in charge-ish walked through and let us peek into the rink though, where the zamboni, painted like a train engine, was busily prepping the ice for the upcoming opening.

I loved the atmosphere of the large hall right outside the rink. The chandeliers and arches lent a lovely ambience to the area.

We also stopped by the Foshay Tower (currently owned by the W hotel) and went up to the observation deck. It was on the 30th floor, and although dwarfed by several of the newer downtown buildings, it still gave a really neat view of downtown buildings and I could even see all the way down to Bloomington and the old tower I used to work in on 80th Street. It was an open-air observation deck (one of 6 in the country, we were informed), which meant the wind took a bit of straining against when not on the leeward sides.
Macy's 8th floor was another stop on our trek; however, it was rather disappointing this year. I remember the heydays of the Velveteen Rabbit and Cinderella stories, and the child-like awe of walking through scenes of favorite stories. This year it was half the size to begin with and the theme was A Day in the Life of an Elf, ending in a little toy shop and Santa's "office" for kids to go in and, I assume, have their parents pay to get their picture taken.

While we were downtown, we also took many routes through the skyways and swung by the Guthrie and the Metrodome to show off as many landmarks as our little feet would hold out for.

Last in my blog, but certainly not least of the trip, we also got to see my nieces and nephew for a few days. Since I haven't posted pictures of them in quite some time, here's one of each to get you by!
Ian will be 3 in January and loved having stories read to him. We also each got to have him sing Happy Birthday to us, since it's the song he knows the best and isn't shy to belt out :)

Jolea was a treat to get to know better, now that she's a little older. She's smart as a whip and although not particularly talkative, she understands really detailed things and is always quick with a smile. Especially if it involves a meal, or a snack, or talking about a meal or a snack.

Sweet little Clara has only been with us for 8 months, and although she was frequently overshadowed by her non-shy older siblings, I'm sure she'll learn to hold her own very quickly.

I love my family dearly and was so blessed to be able to take a trip up there to be able to spend time with them over the holiday. So very many things to be thankful for!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Below Average Joe

Java, jitter juice, cuppa joe, morning mud, wakey juice…all names for that sweet elixir of morning life, coffee.

I’m sure in some etiquette guide from the 50’s, the ability to make a perfect cup of coffee is the sign of a successful hostess, but if that is the only criteria I fear I’m doomed to fail miserably.

I could blame the way I was raised—the only coffee ever prepared in our house was for the occasional guests from out of town that stayed overnight. Even then, the most likely scenarios included a jar of instant Folgers crystals or the old (or maybe I’m just remembering it in 80’s Technicolor), tiny four-cupper coffee maker which depended on multiple miracles for the potential of coffee grounds or filters in the house. In fact, I remember the presence of coffee more frequently at church potlucks. I discovered quickly that I didn’t like it black, but no matter how much sugar I poured into it, or that powdered white product that claims to be something that used to be dairy-related, it didn’t seem to improve it beyond a weak, bitter brew that never held any interest for me.

The coffee aisle in the grocery store though…now, THAT was as far on the other end of the spectrum as you could get. Whenever we shopped as a family, I loved darting into that aisle and pausing in awe next to those plastic dispenser bins with a vast array of coffee beans just waiting to be ground. I’d close my eyes and take the deepest breath I could possibly manage, trying to inhale the earthy smell all the way to my toes. The aroma sings a siren song full of promise—alluring and delicious-- calling to passersby with the rich smell of Arabian blends or South American specialties. I was confounded by the incredible difference between that delicious collection of smells and the horrible liquid that had been all I’d ever experienced of coffee.

During the 2nd semester of my freshman year of college, I met Ambassador Liz. Although she never stood on the formality of her title and insisted I just call her Liz, she was an enthusiastic representative of her homeland and patiently opened my eyes to the wonder of her origins, Coffee Land (aka Seattle). As far as I know, at the time she was the only person in the girls dorm to have an espresso machine in her room, and she used it all the time! She let me try sips of her different concoctions, and opened my eyes to the potential of flavored liquid creamers. Next, she shifted my interest to raspberry white chocolate mocha frappuccinos. My, that was a nice phase. But gradually I shifted to vanilla lattes, and now my favorite toffee nut lattes, or iced toffee nut lattes without ice. If you’ll notice, those last 4 are all sourced out of Starbucks, which I really should just buy stock in so at least I’d be paying myself back whenever I made purchases there.

I’ve tried to make coffee at home, but the variations confound me. First, there are multiple tools to choose from for brewing it—percolator, French press, filter drip, espresso machine, stovetop espresso, etc. And of the most common drip machines, you can also choose a paper filter (for ease of cleaning) or gold filter (so the most flavorful oils don’t get filtered out by the paper). Next, brand and flavor of bean can vary greatly, as there are different philosophies about the length of time a bean should be roasted to produce ideal flavor (has everyone in the world ever agreed on the categorization of “ideal” for ANYTHING?). After that landmine, choosing how fine the bean should be ground is dependent on the brewing method--the faster the brew (such as espresso), the smaller the beans must be ground. Separate but also dependent on the brewing method, you have to choose the ratio of grounds to water for brewing. Once you finally managed to perform alchemy and get some form of the black gold into your cup (mug, traveler’s mug, or thermos anyone?), then comes the challenge of balancing the strength of the brew with some variation of creamer, half & half and sugar.

I can’t even play Lemonade Tycoon without finding a walkthrough that outlines the recipe for the perfect cup. And for that game, you only have to balance lemons, sugar and water. But how do you know if a cup needs 1 lemon, 2 sugars? Or 2 lemons, 4 sugars? Or 4 lemons, 1 sugar? Throw in 7 variables, and I still haven’t hit on quite the right combination. Maybe in 5 years I’ll be able to get it down.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to come visit me in Florida, I can promise there are no Folgers crystals in my apartment, and I know where the 5 closest Starbucks are, so you don’t have to be a test subject in my impromptu coffee lab.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This might take a while...

I think in my heart I’ve lost something for a few years.

Although I could feel the void of its absence, I could not discover its name. And as time has passed and life has proceeded, the lack of it stretched quickly to my mouth, or I suppose in this case to my blog, as the void muffled the things I desired to say or share.

I used to post here pretty regularly, and I also dearly enjoy reading my friends’ blogs and keeping up on events in their lives. When I read posts of their daily activities or quirky observations about life, it almost feels like I’m still chatting with them in the hallways of my college dorm, or catching up in band or over lunch in high school. Although our communications weren’t directly to each other, simply knowing the details from their day, repeated over time, gave me a sense of connection with them as close as sharing a cup of coffee with someone face to face.

When my father passed away almost two years ago, it was a startling exclamation point in the path of my life. My innate human response is to induce a measure of control in a situation where I feel that I have none, and in the months prior to that God had been teaching me to react to things not with hyper-control (or an attempt at it), but to allow Him to lead the way and let my steps fall where they may. I think I was diligently trying to do that, but after the death of a loved one there is such a gaping piece of the heart that is raw and tender and I figuratively hunched my shoulders around it, trying to protect it. Less than 6 months later, Grandma Jane passed away. Although much less of a surprise due to her advanced years and failing health for many years, I didn’t quite know how to process it. Some elusive part of my brain whispered that I had barely gotten to see her even once a year for the past decade, so I really didn’t have the right to feel a sense of loss at her passing. But my heart disagreed and the figurative shoulders protecting it hunched further inward, as if to guard against additional blows. Instead of protection, they became a cage that I couldn’t fight through.

Increasingly, I found myself having things I wanted to share but suddenly not knowing how or what to say. And I don’t mean big revelations or impactful insights, just the daily banter of keeping up with friends. Yet suddenly I felt muffled or gagged and simply unable to reach out with even the mundane. The more time that passed, the more sturdy the withholding cage felt, and yet at the same time it was so nebulous that I couldn’t even define it, let alone resolve it.

In the meantime I would still stay in touch by phone with my family and some of my close friends, but for a time even that was a stuttering step. With those of whom I stayed in regular contact, the feeling passed, but for some reason I couldn’t return to my blog. The vast, unnamed, undefined block was still there.

Today I cried in church.

Now, I don’t normally consider myself a “crier.” In the distant past, it was only at the most emotional movies (My Girl, anyone?) that I’d get a flicker of the eyelid, but God’s been working on that in my heart, too. He’s blessed me with being in a church where the preaching challenges me and digs deep into corners of my mind and heart that perhaps lay unlit before.
This morning’s sermon was titled “Spiritual Adultery” and was based out of Jeremiah 2. On the way to church this morning God had been working on my heart related to pride. Something a friend had exclaimed over the day before had been running heavily through my mind and convicted me of using sarcasm for humor at the expense of others. So as the entire chapter of Scripture was being read aloud, my mind saw nothing initially to convict me, but prayers of abasement and humility before God were so fresh in my mind that I settled down to listen intently anyway—and what a blessing that I did!

Although I can’t restate the entire sermon for you, I’ll try to share the aspect that touched me so much today. Although some of the imagery used in v. 20-25 is not usually a part of “polite conversation,” it is part of a theme that God uses throughout the Bible of likening God to a groom and us (sometimes Israel, sometimes believers) as a bride. Sometimes it is held up as a loving, cherished relationship, and sometimes described as adulterous, with the bride being extravagantly unfaithful and insatiable in her drive to fill her desires from every source except her rightful husband. With Israel it was turning to idols to worship instead of their true God. But an idol can be anything else where you go to find your meaning, worth and sufficiency.

I’ve been very blessed to come from a home where I learned that faithfulness and integrity are priceless virtues. With such a belief held deeply in my core, it is a great aversion to me to even THINK about cheating—on taxes, on music downloads (although there was a wee time in college before I understood Napster as “cheating”), on the job, or in a relationship—because it would be cheating against God not just man (Psalm 51). But the preacher didn’t stop there. The adultery wasn’t a light-switch moment in Israel’s history. Nor is it that way in a romantic relationship (or so I’ve learned from various speakers over the years, and from the occasional Oprah show that I don’t entirely disagree with). It usually starts with a lack of intimacy. In Jeremiah 2:6-8, God’s not saying they couldn’t find Him, but that they didn’t even remember Him. One reason God uses a marriage to symbolize our relationship with Him is because of the depth of intimacy He desires. For newlyweds (such as verse 2), they’re so wrapped up in each other and in exploring the newfound depths of their relationship that sometimes as an observer you almost want roll your eyes at their involvement in each other, but there is no doubt that there is an intimacy and an enraptured state that they have toward each other. That’s what God wants with us.

This picture of deep, emphatic intimacy made me pause abruptly. So often when reading a Scripture passage like this, I have checked off my list of mental responsibilities and found myself sufficient in them. In thinking of myself as a spiritual bride, I had not committed spiritual adultery and therefore hadn’t seen any condemnation to myself on the page. But is adultery really the only pitfall of a marriage? Certainly not! With too many examples around us to count, we see marriages of convenience where a wife lives as a trophy whose primary mission is to spend the wealth of her husband as effusively as possible. Or a heartbreakingly lopsided marriage where only one person is interested in taking up the mantle of spiritual leadership for the children. Or a marriage which long ago dissolved from being a loving union and now withers away under years of henpecking and arguing, with no hope for change. Or a marriage which was held hostage by unfaithfulness and a lack of trust leaves it without a bridge to span the chasm. Or a marriage which drifts into a perfunctory life of roommates, even though there is no hostility there. The reasons and paths are varied, but all have a gaping void of intimacy.

I have seen variations on these themes over time, and my mind has boggled trying to comprehend the death of hope that would seem apparent to me in some of these people. I chalk up some of that to the hubris of the young and unmarried, but in not understanding it, my heart also aches for the people who used to be—the youths that came to these marriages thinking they would have the flawless dream stretching before them of straight roads, smooth sailing, and amenable companionship along the way, but instead somewhere along the way something broke and was not repaired, strained and was not relieved, or was feared and not resolved. The intimacy which they initially shared was somehow lost.

Although I cannot presume to know the thoughts of others’ hearts, God does, and he can see mine too. Is it really enough to simply not be unfaithful? Both in my spiritual and physical life, I don’t want to have a marriage of simply faithfulness. I want to have a marriage of intimacy. I shudder to think of a hypothetical future where I coexist with a husband but don’t share an emotional and physical connection on a regular basis, only surviving as passing ships in the night. To me, that is the death of hope.

But intimacy is such a fragile flower, as evidenced by what I can remember of junior high. Starting teenage life is so rough. It seemed that every moment of junior high and high school was one of feeling self conscious. Learning to deepen friendships is tricky because it requires being vulnerable. You risk it by opening up more of yourself to each other, and if you get burned or ridiculed, you shy away and learn to protect yourself from that ever happening again. Over time as you grow up, you learn how to protect yourself or not take things to heart, but you also learn who to protect yourself from or who not to open your heart to. Hopefully the flip side of that is finding that rare gem of a friend that you CAN open your heart to and find emotional intimacy and spiritual exhortation and hopefully acquire the blessing described in Proverbs 27:17—a friendship in which you can sharpen each other.

All of this culminated in my mind in that abrupt pause of contemplating emphatic intimacy. It can be lost in a friendship or marriage by closing part of your heart off, ostensibly for protection, but ultimately creating distance. When covered with a scar of self protection or a cage of figurative hunched shoulders, a heart simply can’t be tender and intimate. It can’t both keep itself aloof and reach out at the same time—one or the other has to win.

Ever since my dad and Grandma Jane passed away, I’ve felt the void of intimacy-through-vulnerability. I couldn’t name it, but every time the phone rang at an odd hour, especially if it was a family member calling, my heart would seize up with the instant thought that something had happened to my mom. For a while I was thinking about moving back to Minnesota just so I’d be there for the indeterminate future, in case the big “something” happened. But by constantly holding my breath in case something happened, I was unable to relax into that state of being vulnerable. While not being able to name it, I was able to force through the fear for family and some friends, since I unconsciously felt less risk in being vulnerable with them.

And along the way God has kept gently pushing me toward deeper intimacy with Himself and those around me. In the past year I’ve had some Christian friendships at work blossom into ever deepening levels, and I’ve had the blessing of completing a Bible study titled A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place and am just starting a new one on Daniel. Each time that I study through something and am touched by the intimacy of God opening the Word to me, I cry then too. I’ve also been dating a wonderful man, Stephen, for not quite a year, and it’s the first romantic relationship I’ve been in where I've felt free to be open and vulnerable. Partly this is due to the remarkable heart of the man, and I must attribute a large part to God leading our lives together at this time. Stephen has taken remarkable care of the state of my heart, and the few times that fear and insecurity whisper to me to distance myself or protect myself, I’ve gotten very timely nudges from the Holy Spirit to bridge the gap and not allow any distance to accumulate. (Although I must footnote that this process has involved quite a bit of physical distance, with Stephen being in Fort Worth for the better part of the beginning of our relationship, and although he moved back to Orlando in June, he’s currently traveling for over a month as well for work…23 days and counting until he gets back!)

God has blessed me by encouraging me to regain vulnerability, and I hope to do so as well with my friends that I “keep up with” via blog. I’ve missed you and simply didn’t know how to begin reaching out again, but I don’t want any more distance to grow by me being stagnant, so here I come (but this might take a while).
And I promise not to post something this long again for at least a week :)

Hugs to all…

Saturday, September 22, 2007

March - Mamma Me-a

My mom made her first trip to Florida to visit me - yay! I've now finally gotten all the family to make the trip at one point or another. It was a special trip because it also combined her spring break from school and her birthday, which was all the excuse I needed to take her to the California Pizza Kitchen, and her first time to Chipotle - yum!. We tooled around town and got to enjoy the non-summer weather--now that it's August and mid-90's every day, I'm really missing thoughts of a balmy fall/winter/spring!

We visited the Holy Land Experience, which my dad and I had cruised by when he helped me move down here and I had always hoped to take both of my parents, but my mom and I were able to enjoy it with just the two of us too. It's a Christian theme park, with (I couldn't think of any other adjectives that weren't just mean), but it was really neat to be in a faux-Israel atmosphere. I'm assuming no animals were harmed in the process of replication. There are little plays/mini-musicals that they put on throughout the day depicting various parts of Jesus' life such as the wedding at Cana, the healing of the centurion's servant, and the crucifixion, which brought me to tears. The staff focuses on non-confrontationally but very emphatically sharing the gospel or pointing to Christ in each of the different parts of the park, including a really large miniature of the city of Jerusalem, and my favorite - a small theatre re-enactment of the tabernacle and a priest's duties. All the lighting tricks they used to bring it to life reminded me of my uber-fledgling theater days at Pilly and Celeste and Dani's stage craft!

I thought I had some pictures of the outside through the gates when my dad and I drove by back in 2003, but all I can find is this one I took on my cell phone on my visit with my mom (yes, I forgot my actual camera every time we went out!).

We also stopped by St. Augustine, which lays claim to being the "oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States." I like it for its fort, Castillo de San Marcos.

and its really cool old buildings, some of which used to be world-class resorts at the end of the 19th century. The one below is now part of Flagler College.

We also had a day at the beach, which I think was my mom's favorite, but I didn't get any pictures of us there. There's just something so peaceful about sitting on the beach staring out at the ocean and feeling the sun soak into your bones and the breeze stirring off the water...hmm, I think another trip is in order for me!

Last, and maybe or not least, we thought we'd take a trip to the local zoo. It was no Minnesota Zoo, but it did bring me back to days of field trips to the Como Zoo. Except I don't remember any alligators at Como.

I don't think my mom realized how extensive my snake phobia is until I hid behind her when we walked through the reptile room!

And there were other denizens that were particularly stoic, no matter how much we tried to provoke them...

I made a few new friends too, and my mom considered leaving me there, but that would make it tricky for her to negotiate a trip back to the airport, so we left intact the way we came.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

February - Down Hemmingway's Way

Took an awesome trip with Katie to Key West (we drove down from Orlando - that's a LONG trip through some awfully scrubby country). We stayed at a cute little B&B on the Old Town side of the island, with an appropriately aquatic theme...

I even got a tattoo! The henna, "lasts-for-two-weeks-unless-of-course-you-go-in-a-pool-with-chlorine-and-then-it's-more-like-10-hours" kind. That last part was in small print in order for them to fit it all in the brand name. They had some very interesting civic services (sadly, not available in all Florida locales)
I love a good lighthouse, and Key West didn't disappoint
Which afforded me the opportunity to face my fear of falling down stairs

What, did you think I was kidding?

But at least the stairs give an amazing view of the town, including an aspect you don't usually notice from the street - everything has tin roofs, which was initially started to help cut down on fires spreading. The pictures might have popped a little more if only the sun had been out while we were there!
We also had some adventures in Clearwater and a stopover in the slightly frightening retirement community of DeLand--the Starbucks baristas seemed desperately eager to serve us, since we were the only patrons who weren't card carrying AARP members.

And last but not least, we were THIS CLOSE to making our own movie--a mix between Speed and Con Air, but we didn't think the Sherriff would take kindly to being punked.
Yay for good friends to go adventuring with!!

Long Time No See

So I've been away for a bit. From my blog, that is. The funny thing is, I've had lots to share, but I always felt like I needed to start with an explanation of why I've been away, and that's a lot harder to define. So instead, I just kept putting it off. No more, I say! So, if I ever circle back to that huge cavern of unexplainability, I'll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, let me see if I can catch you up on some events, although I'm sure I'll forget just as many as I remember...