Friday, January 27, 2012


As with the other posts, most of this was written in chunks throughout the day, starting and stopping.  So bits may feel a little choppy.  Usually a series of "....................." will indicate one of those break points.

                I woke this morning feeling a bit of a burn.  Not much.  I don’t burn easily.  As intended I pulled my ass out of bed to hit the continental breakfast.  It was gross.  Two types of cereal, coffee, bagels, (that someone was touching and putting back on the platter…) and cookies and orange juice.  Not a bad selection...  but I'm picky when it comes to breakfast food.
                The bagel was the only appealing option, until I saw Mr. Grabby handling all of them.  So I left, remembering seeing a Burger King when I accidentally went the wrong direction yesterday, which just so happens to be the direction I needed to head for the zoo.  So that’s where I am as I write this.  Sitting in a rather….  Erm….  Seedy looking part of Miami, biding time at a Burger King.
                OOOoops!  Only a couple minutes ‘til my bus.  Gotta Go!
(Continued on Bus.)
                As I was saying…
                This part of Miami is not as “fun” as other parts.  It’s sad to see the more poverty stricken sections.  There are homeless here.  The inner city had beggars.  These are people that ask for nothing more than a table at a Burger King to sit at and wait for life to stop being cruel to them.  A table they are often denied and shooed away by management.  These are people in need of a miracle.  …These are people.  From the guy that was muttering to himself on the subway and then complaining to me about people calling him on his cell phone, to the gentleman that “made a mess” of his table at the fast food place, though I didn’t see anything more than a couple of crumbs….  These are people.
                So I made it to my bus…  but with a heavy heart.
                I’m still looking forward to the zoo but the day is not starting off well.  Breakfast mishaps and heavy hearts aside, I had one other little thing go awry.  As my room safe was closing it bounced back open and now won’t close again.  I wisely still left my more important credit card and passport in the room, but not as secured.  And I can’t be sure that they won’t charge me for the safe mishap either.  My head is a mess of stress, and I’m nervous about driving tomorrow to boot.  As well as about seeing certain individuals…
                In general, my highest expectation for today at this point is for the weather to hold out until tonight.  I’d rather not return from the zoo drenched in rain.

The zoo has been fun so far.  I was disappointed, when first walking in, to find that the reptile house was closed.  But not to worry—it would seem there are reptiles EVERYWHERE!
                The zoo is divided into nations and continents rather than animal classifications.  Therefore, as each nation has snakes, fish, frogs, etc….  you get a dose of everything little by little.  Actually, I’m almost on reptile overload at this point.
                It’s cooling down and I’m a little more than half way through the park.  I just fed a giraffe, which was a fantastic experience.  I only got a 3 dollar bucket of Kale, and they had bigger bowls, but I figured it bests if I moved along.  I would have stayed there all day otherwise.  It was a great experience….  Yet also a prime display of “inherited fear.”  A mother feeding a giraffe-kinda whined and ran away immediately after releasing the food.  The children were instantly terrified, one of which—when told it was his turn to feed it—made a run for it.  The mother, I was baffled to see, scolded the child, insisting there was nothing to be afraid of.  I think the children were impressed to see me so readily approach once I got my bowl of greens.  We were all instructed not to try and pet the giraffe, but that was a difficult urge to resist.  While I couldn’t touch them, I did talk to them and had to give one a nudge every now and then.  The bull, greedy fellow that he was, was not letting me feed the cow very easily.  I kept having to force myself between the two and tell him to be patient.  …I’m sure I inspired a couple of odd looks, but who cares.  I used to talk to my pet snake with no ears, so I’m not going to feel too abashed for talking to a giraffe.

                Excited about having fed them, I left the platform so that others may have room.  I updated my facebook status, talking about the giraffes…  Then began contemplating being here again.  To be here.  To be bold enough to come here on my own….  It was one another one of those moments of pride thinking, I’m here because I was brave enough to hop on a plane…  and take a train…  and a bus…  through a seedy looking neighborhood…  alone.  Because I was, am, bold enough to come here alone.  Most of the people here are groups or couples.  I have to wonder if some of them didn’t just pair up for fear of needing someone to do things with.  Well…  at least I’ll know that will never be my issue.  I'm quite comfortable alone.
                …but then, I did start thinking about relationships.  (And I’m editing this down a bit for privacy sake of others now.)  I started thinking about the why’s and why-nots.  Sorting how I feel.  Why there’s a good chance that a relationship, any relationship, just isn’t going to work for me.  Or at least isn’t a good idea.  And how that means… that this may or may not mean the end of something I’ve been teetering on for a while. 
                By the time I reached the next display containing the gorillas, I heard a remarkable little voice.  “Mommy, why does she look so sad?  She looks like she’s gonna cry.”  I looked to my left and a little girl with a the most remarkable sparkling blue eyes was looking at me from the park bench she shared with her mother.  “She’s pretty mommy.  Mommy, she’s pretty.  Why is she sad?”  Her mother just gently shushed at her, and I laughed at myself.  I forced a smile as best I could at the incredibly honest, and all the more observant, little girl, and moved along.  Leave it to children to show us the truths we avoid.
                So now I’m sitting with the chimps, watching them watch us, and catching orange halves from the keepers.  I’m not sure how much longer I can sit here.  The weather is threatening rain, and the wind is picking up.


I got some great pictures.  Most of which I intend to use for writing suite 101 articles.  Hell, maybe I can talk to Andy and see if some of this trip is tax deductable.
                It would appear that I beat the storm out.  Felt a couple of drops of rain, and the wind was gusting, but not bad.  I had to sacrifice the parrot feeding station, but if it was a trade in time for the giraffe, I’m glad for it.
                I don’t know what I want to do about tomorrow still.  I’m tired, and walking around for hours on end two days running is just a bit much.  A solid 3 miles of trail through the zoo have my feet blistering some.
                It’s funny how when I first got here, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough time to do everything I wanted.  Technically, there isn’t.  I would have to live here for that.  …Like the ghost tour.  There seem to be several different tours from Miami to the Keys.  That’s something I’d LOVE to explore.  But I’m out of cash and admittedly ready to go home I think.  I’ll have to find food for tonight.  Maybe I’ll order pizza.  I kinda just want to get to the hotel, check my messages, and just shut down for the night.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


As promised, I kept a journal of my experiences through each day of the journey.  Not having anyone with me, I had time to talk to the paper instead of to ears.  Something I liked.

Some of the following will be rough and broken into chunks.  That's just the way the note taking on thoughts and observations went.  I'm editing it some from the original for...  well for privacy sake on some portions, and for smoother transitions elsewhere.  But still a forewarning that it could be a little choppy in places.

DAY 1 (Tuesday January 10th 2012)

Musings on a Beach

I just saw my first jelly fish up close and personal.  About two feet away from my leg.  And my method of thought was, where there's one...  Well, I couldn't help but imagine many more close behind.  I tried to move, but not move too fast.  I don't know much about jellyfish, but from what I could assume, jelly fish aren't like bees (which I get along with.)  contact=sting.  Jellyfish don't have brains, thus no conscious control.  (Since being back,   I looked this fun fact up, and turns out I'm right.  Even dead jellyfish can sting just from contact.)

And then, sitting on the beach, I see them, littered about.  Poor little things.  Turning blue and puffy, baking in the sun.  I am also baking, but turning red rather than blue, and losing some of the "sparkle" I once expected to see my pale skin emit.

It's beautiful here.  The sun is bright and warm.  The "locals" however are all wearing sweatshirts and jeans.  Only tourists are so comfortable here this time of year.  That goes for swimming too.  The water is cool.  Even being used to Wisconsin lakes, the temperature took me by surprise.  But riding the waves, tasting the salt, feeling the breeze and soft sand beneath my feet, it was well worth the chill.

There are pigeons on the beach, calling this sunny paradise home as easily as a Chicago street corner.  I don't know why I find this so amusing.  Something about "beach" just doesn't inspire "pigeon" by association.  I was a little concerned for the salt water at theory.  I remember the salt water experience from Hawaii, and its potency.  And the day before my flight, I fell down the stairs.  Wrenched my ankle, bruised my ass, and scraped my foot.  Injuries that are not the most ideal for either walking around a city or swimming in salt.  But the scrape thankfully seems to have healed.  The rest of my legs however are irritated.  Very irritated.  Which makes me paranoid of the jellyfish again, and how I'm lucky, seeing as I don't have anyone to pee on me.

The trip to the beach was an interesting one.  And getting back will be more so.  (Speaking of being alone.)  I met a Vietnam veteran, with many interesting stories to tell in the short time we talked.  He helped me find my way around, gave me some sound words of advice, and treated me as if I were his grandchild.  And no, most of his stories were not about his war experience.  He has lived an interesting life and most recently found himself stuck in Miami, (from Chicago) after falling through the bathroom floor of his studio apartment here.  He warned me not to give my money to anyone, and parted ways in the end with a “God Bless” and an insisting I program the Miami transportation phone number into my phone.

I haven’t had anything to eat yet today.  I slept through the first continental breakfast.  I guess I had some measure of jet lag.  Also the clocks are an hour later here so breakfast was done by 8:30 my time.  But no matter.  I will find food on the way back to the hotel while doing some sightseeing and shopping.  Dinner at least.

When I woke this morning—one of the many times I woke, that is—it was to the sound of a screeching parrot.  I love the little details that make a place so alien.  Another example was while digging out a seat on the beach in the sand.  (why lug around a lawn chair when sand will custom form fit to you?)  While digging, I unearthed what I had thought to be dog droppings.  It wasn’t for another hour that I realized it was a piece of sea sponge.  Like the jellyfish, this is where I say, “poor little thing.”

Getting some sun I think will be good for me.  Replenish my vitamin D and serotonin.  I must admit that sitting here my worries and troubles seem less burdening.  Part of coming here—a lot of coming here—was to sort out my head and heart.  I just don’t understand myself sometimes.

I still don’t know if I’ll have any answers by time I’m finished here, but maybe the walk back to Lincoln Ave will get me to some kind of conclusion.  I feel I need to reach some kind of decision before the end of this trip.  At least where the heart is concerned.  And at least before… (Sorry folks, after some deliberation, a bunch of this next paragraph or two had to be edited out.)

Getting to the zoo is going to be interesting.  The hotel shuttle doesn’t go there.  It would seem it doesn’t really go anywhere.  And the public transportation is going to be tricky to figure out so fast.  I’m determined though.  Tonight once back at the hotel, I’m hoing to accomplish some writing.

The pool…  is closed.  But I’m probably going to sit by it anyway.  As it is going on 3pm I suppose I best get walking.  I’ve accomplished all I intended with swimming and am going to start my walk back, and try to find a changing booth along the way.


I found a place to change.  After walking down the beach/bardwalk and asking a gentleman about whether or not a restroom for the public even existed he told me to hurry behind the two gentlemen that he was just speaking with, who were returning to the hotel with bried instruction on how to “sneak in” and where the restroom was located.

I was successful, obviously, and after some walking down the boardwalk I caught a bus and found myself to Lincoln.  I had been advised by a lovely couple on the plane to Philadelphia, as the wife had once lived in Miami, what Lincoln Mall rd was a must see on my way.  I’m glad for the advice.  I am eating at Rossinella's, outside.  To have a fresh prepared meal outdoors sounds just wonderful.  It's an Italian restaurant, and it appears they do things right.  I was impressed by their menu's description of "pizza."  In Italy "pizza" is not pizza but more of a flatbread with meats, vegetables, and cheeses, with a touch of olive oil.  Finding a place that has this kind of tradition is rare indeed.

I ordered the chicken parmigiana and it was proceeded by fresh hearty Italian bread, balsamic vinegar, and regular and hot olive oils.  Lovely.  The dish itself (pictured above) was delicious.  I really appreciated the chicken being butterflied before breading.  Awesome.

I'm still a little worried about making it back with minimal effort, and yet... at this point, it's hard to care.  I'm full and happy.  

.....  But not too full for Gelato!

(Unfortunately overpriced, and not good at all.  Important to mention that this was not the same restaurant.  Oh well.  Live and Learn.)


I made it back to the hotel surprisingly easy.  And the Gelato was surprisingly BAD.  Kind of a bizarro world scenario.

I'm showered, sitting in bed with a bag of popcorn and the A-Team is on while I look up directions how to make it to the Zoo tomorrow.  It looks like it will be much easier than previously warned.  Let's hope this is not another bizarro situation.  I haven't accomplished nearly as much writing as intended.  Plenty of notes.  I want to write tonight but fear I'm too exhausted.

Maybe if I don't go to Key West, I'll dedicate the day to that instead.  I should go.  It would be foolish to come this far and be so close to a stretch of road I want to see, and not take that last step.  And I know part of the reason I'm here is to conquer fears to compensate for the fear I can't.  But the motives of this particular leg of the trip could be ultimately misconstrued.  So I have to weigh the scales.  Do I confront this fear and risk potential accusations...  or do I let THAT fear make me run away from confronting the whole lot...

As it stands at the moment, I'm expected by others to show in Key West.  And I haven't let on that I'm reconsidering making that trip.  Or rather, possibly I'll still make the trip, grab a bite to eat, quick gander at the ocean, and just turn around without any visitation.  That would probably be the smartest move.  It's going to need more debate.  I guess we'll see what happens in a couple days.  On to adventure.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Miami; the what's where's and why's of a journey's start.


It’s Monday.  Just about noon and we’re #2 for take off.  I’m afraid.  I guess that’s the point of this trip.  I do things like this.  Take trips or do other things that frighten me.  (And there aren’t very many things that do frighten me.)  When I find something, it’s becoming an increasing habit to do those things, on purpose.  I’m not afraid to fly.  That’s never been my issue.  I love flying.  I love heights.  And there is no where I sleep better than up in the sky.

The plane is racing now, and take off.

So, what is it that I’m afraid of?  What about this trip am I afraid of?  I suppose it’s the finding my way around on my own.  I’ve never rented a car by myself.  Never checked in to a hotel completely alone or taken a shuttle from an airport without someone to greet me on the other side.  I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing, and that’s the point.  Confronting fear of the unknown.  Will I have enough money to do everything I want once there?  Maybe.  Will I get lost?  Likely.  These are not the kinds of things that I had role models to teach me.  I just fake it til I make it most times.  With the exception of when my Grandfather was around, I’ve been fairly forced to be self sufficient in life.  Take care of myself and often times others.  This is how I’ve come to expect life.  This is how I’ve come to be comfortable.  This is how I prefer things.

When I was a child, I liked to share toys.  Except for a few of them.  A select few treasures that I didn’t want touched.  Not because I didn’t want friends to have fun.  But because they were fragile.  And if I broke them, I could only be mad at myself.  But I was horrified of the possibility of being angry with a friend for breaking one of my treasures.  (Gizmo, was off limits to all.)  But this philosophy has creeped into other aspects.  If I let myself down, or break the trust I have in myself, I can only be mad at myself.  But if I trust you…  I have to put myself to the test at times.  I have to prove to myself that I can still rely on me.  That I can do anything I put my mind to.  Because I always need to know I have that back up plan.  Then, I don’t have to be so worried about the chance that someone else is going to let me down.  I still have me.

I suppose that’s where I’m at right now. 

I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of something else, besides this trip.  I’m afraid of trusting another person.  I’m afraid that I’m going to come to rely on someone for emotional fulfillment.  I’m afraid, that I may be in love with someone.  I’m not going to say who just yet as it has very little to do with the specific person and everything to do with being afraid that some of my independence could be in jeopardy in the process.  To expose some of that weaker, softer, side of myself.  I’m not afraid of getting hurt.  I’m afraid of being in love in the first place.  And this whole problem of me being more comfortable with breaking my own toy instead of risking someone else breaking it, causes me to do really stupid stuff, like run away.  I’ll break my own heart before giving you the chance to.  Not because I’m afraid of the pain, but because I don’t want to have anyone to blame but me.  How asinine is that?

I’m trying really hard not to run for the hills.  I’m trying to stay calm and not cut ties preemptively.  I don’t actually enjoy the idea of these walls I’ve built.  But it’s my comfort zone.  I love the idea of love, but I hate the idea of coming to depend on others as an emotional support system.  The very thought can induce some pretty adverse reactions from me.  Like hopping on a plane to Miami for little to no reason.

But then, I suppose I do have good reason.  Reasons, plural actually.  The first, overstating the obvious at this point, is if I can’t conquer one fear, I will conquer another.  I will remind myself that fear is something that can be tamed.  But there’s more.  Why now?  Why Miami?

Why Not?

Take a look around you.  Do you not realize and appreciate the amazing elements of the world you live in?  A trip that would have once taken months, can now be accomplished in hours.  A woman needn’t be escorted.  So much is at our fingertips begging to be touched.  I imagined myself talking to someone from the past.  “You mean, you could go from frozen grey and dead surroundings to a tropical green and lush paradise by FLYING in the air?  Why WOULDN’T you take every chance you got?  Why wouldn’t you do something so remarkable?”

I don’t want to waste my life.  I don’t want to be sitting in a chair, turning 60, and thinking to myself, “where did the years go?  Why didn’t I do anything?  Why did I spend my free time sitting in a bed in an apartment?”  And then a few weeks ago, I made a painting.  It was a seascape, warm and sunny and clean.  And staring at the hundreds of reference pictures while putting paint to canvas, made me long for warmth and sunlight all the more.  So I started the contemplation.

Can I afford it?  No.  Do I have the time?  Absolutely not.  …Until.
And then, “you can leave now then, and take your 401k with you.”
Can I afford it?  It’s tight, but…  YES!  Do I have the time?  Remarkably SO!
Pick a direction, any direction!
And I started another round of contemplation.  Where did I have friends?  North Carolina.  Northern Florida.  New Orleans.  California.  Belize.  All warm, some more so than others.  All sunny.  Most within range to a beach.  But other factors had to come into play.  Plane tickets to Belize and California were just too far out of reach.  North Carolina, though appealing, was just not quite the tropical climate I had in mind.  And then…  did I really want to be where friends were?  I love my friends, but I feel a need to do this on my own, don’t forget.  I expanded my search to Texas and other coastal cities.  Miami came up as cheapest package every time.  And the more I looked at it, the happier I was with its possibilities.

So to those who are asking “why” I ask, why not?

Maybe I can’t explain everything I’m feeling.  I’ll keep journaling as the trip goes on and maybe some more will come to light.

I plan on going to their very unique zoo.  I plan on sitting on a beach, and find inspiration for my books.  (Two of which have chapters in this area or similar.)  And I plan on exploring coral reef.  I plan on sorting out my head and heart.  And I plan on regaining some of my “muchness.”  I feel I was once much “muchier.”