Bottoms Up

26 05 2017

Here we are starting over again. Looking for work after a brief flirtation with politics. In the gutter looking up at the stars, wrote Oscar Wilde.

The summer approaches again in Florida. I have become numb to the lasting heatrays and all of the complexities of urban dwelling. I rarely go to Miami anymore. I don’t have enough money to go many places.

David and some friends have encouraged me to get back in the gym. I’ve been playing golf and basketball again and swimming regularly. I’m surprised how well my body has held up.

I considered running again for the state house but after two months on the trial determined it was the wrong district and wrong role. I remain in contact with friends from the park service and maintain hope a position will open up. It would be nice to breathe fresh mountain air again.

Last week, David and I attended a presentation from the Sierra Club. Members of the executive committee discussed pollution of Florida’s waterways and various other environmental concerns. I asked one of the speakers if she felt South Florida had an overpopulation problem.

“The world does,” was her response.

The arrival of more and more people in Florida means draining the swamp to house them. There is another way, however, but it would take acts of kindness, sacrifice and generousity to get there. Not exactly known traits a keen political observer would recognize from current Republican leadership.

In many parts of the South Florida shoreline sit towering condominums and apartment buildings. For half of the year they operate at significantly less capacity due to retreating Canadians. There are quite a few old buildings on the east side of Interstate 95 in South Florida. Old properties, in some cases. In dire need of rehabilitation.

And condemnation.

After recognizing a problem, it takes a community — or village, if you prefer, — to improve a habitat fit for all humanity. Good deeds, Pat from Palm Beach tells me.

“You can only resist and be against everything for so long before it wears you out,” Pat said during our recent phone conversation.

Living positively with a can do spirit while avoiding the pitfalls negativity produces is the plan. This my inner call to action.

It won’t be easy. Florida is such a weird state. It’s diverse melting pot is, at times, exhausting.

I take comfort in the fact that periods of hardships strengthen resolve and make families better when they emerge from a struggle. My friend Geraldo is doing so much better. His recovery brings tears to my eyes. My brother is settling into life as a divorced father. I wish him patience and compassion to continue giving the girls a healthy upbringing.

And now I look to David, my loyal husband, an offer a humble plea. After rehabbing our reps in Florida, I hope we can visit your family on the West Coast. Our eight years together has not been equitable in meeting the in-laws. I’d like to change that.

For the better, of course.

Koreshan State Historic Site

 

 

 

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Holiday Hibernation

13 12 2011

I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. Much more than even I am accustomed to. I’ve always had a passion for sleeping, which has aggravated my mother to no end.

“You’re sleeping you’re life away!, John!!,” she would declare when I would come home from college and stumble downstairs around two in the afternoon.

One year I spent the holidays with my aunt Tammy and uncle Doug in Montgomery, Alabama and took a job at the neighborhood Winn-Dixie, working the “graveyard” shift. I was part of a stocking crew that would arrive at the store as they were closing the doors to the public. We usually worked from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and, as I remember we had a supervisor who was a real joy to be around. Sarcasm fully intended.

Looking back, I can understand why he was such a jerk to me. I was the college kid, working a few months to have some spending money for the next semester. And he was a small man in stature, and having found a smaller person to boss around was surely a delight for him.

I do not remember his name, only his chain smoking habit and coke bottled glasses. This will be the last I write of him.

So after working the graveyard shift, I would come home and eat breakfast and then go to bed. This seemed to aggravate my aunt Tammy, who was pregnant at the time and experiencing the lonely housewife blues.

My uncle Doug even gave me the nickname “Rip” — short for Rip Van Winkle.

When people often remark how young I look for my age, I usually credit the complement with my many years of sleep.

“I’ve slept a lot,” I tell them.

And it is the truth. The last two months, I’ve no doubt been horizontal much more than I have been vertical.

David calls it a destructive pattern. He’s probably right.

I’m over living in Panama City, I’m over being unemployed, I’m over being broke and I’m over fighting losing political battles.

So I have gone inward and slept. And slept. and slept some more. Each day waking with dwindling hope for the future.

I realize only I can break this behavior and, thankfully, there is incentive. David and I will spend Christmas in Port St. Joe with my parents and little brother who is bringing his young and growing family down from Alabama. Being around his new baby girl should brighten the holidays.

And then there is a blast from the past arriving soon.

Bjork, a longtime friend, from my Texas years, is coming to visit at the end of the month. He lives in England now and is a college professor. We haven’t seen each other in nearly five years and it will be exciting to catch up as Bjork has arranged for a short sidetrip to New Orleans, providing a refreshing change of scenery.

And I shall be well rested for the occasion.





Adopting a New View of Parenting

15 03 2011

We’re in the midst of ‘Spring Break.’ An American rite of passage. And I’m staying as far away from the action as I can.

Been there. Done that.

As a college prepster at Troy, my fraternity brothers and I made the annual trek to PCB to engage in the festive atmosphere. We would hit the beach during the day, chug a lot of beer, talk about sports and gaze at the girls before getting cleaned up for a night at the clubs.

Places like the Boardwalk and the Summit are still etched in my mind. I was such a dork back then. I wasn’t much into physical fitness in college, not like I am now. I was more concerned with equations and hypothesis, particularly when it came to sports teams.

So, I kept my shirt on at the beach. No need to let — as some of my fraternity brothers dubbed it — “the bird chest” out of its cage.

They say college is all about self discovery. I discovered, thanks to my fraternity, the differences and similarities that bring young men together. Beer also breaks down a lot of barriers.

These days, most of my fraternity brothers are married with children. I wonder what it’s like.

Tonight, I attended a presentation on adoption in the State of Florida. The attorney, a Harvard educated Jewish woman from New York, explained the situation for same-sex couples and for the first time, I thought long and hard about fatherhood.

There are so many children in the State’s system in need of loving and caring homes. Crime and poverty have left innocent children yearning for a positive parental environment. This being another discovery from the campaign trial.

The fact that I am no longer drawn to the beach parties or long nights clubbing is a sign that I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life. My relationship with David has truly made me wiser and healthier and I would like nothing more than to continue on that path through mentorship.

Through the course of the campaign, as I visited community after community hit hard by the recession, I came to realize how privileged my childhood was. My parents made many sacrifices in order for my brother and I to live comfortably. This I now see clearly. By the same token, thanks to my travels and adventures as a journalist, I am keenly aware of the dangers out there and influences that can lead to broken homes.

So, in conclusion, if I can make a difference — for the better — in the life of a disadvantaged child, then I feel it is my duty as a humble public servant to volunteer.

And with this I have graduated from ‘Spring Break’ as we have known it.

 

 

 





Petition Drive: The Final Week

10 05 2010

Mother’s Day is over. Thank God. But we will not go into that angst.

This is the final week of the petition drive. It will be a miracle if I qualify, but the process has been enlightening to say the least.

Things I have learned: 1. Bank employees aren’t real big fans of Democrats 2. Young people could care less about voting and move around way too much. 3. There’s about two degrees of separation between me and the District’s current rep.

Nevertheless, I have talked with a lot of people and listened to many concerns and issues. Never once has my sexuality been an issue.

This week includes more meetings and events and I will continue to forge ahead. I would write more, but, quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Good night.





A New Perspective on Family

9 03 2010

I woke up around 10 a.m. Sunday morning. It was one of those rare mornings on the trip that Jim didn’t rouse me at the crack of dawn. And for that I was grateful.

I called Keith and he said he’d be by the hotel in about an hour to pick me up. I was looking forward to spending the day with my brother, Courtney, his loving wife and their beautiful baby girl Dillan.

Keith took me back to their townhouse in nearby Irving, a suburb of Dallas that for many years was home to the city’s beloved professional football team — the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were my childhood favorite team and I watched many a game on Sundays after church. Dad usually watched them with me, but for some reason, he never rooted for the Cowboys. Dad always sided with the team playing the Cowboys. Maybe this was his way of establishing a rivalry between us.

Keith always rooted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even when they won just a couple of games. He was loyal like that. Still is.

But on this Sunday, football was far from anyone’s mind. At the townhouse, Courtney pulled out their wedding album and suddenly we were skipping down memory lane. They had been married just a few short years, but the images seemed like so long ago.

For a guy my age, I haven’t been to many weddings. Just not my scene. Maybe one day I will tie the knot. They say it’s a life changer. Much like having a child. My little brother has done both and I am very proud of him.

Looking through the photos with Courtney was a bonding experience. My mother looked so happy. It was fun dancing with her at the reception.

After looking at pictures, we went shopping in the SouthLake section of Dallas. Turns out, dining with a toddler can be quite entertaining. Dillan was well behaved but she requires a lot of attention. You gotta make sure she doesn’t put just anything in her mouth. And luckily, she didn’t throw her food at anyone. I’m pretty sure I did that as an infant.

After we were finished, Keith left a hefty tip. “We like to eat out just like everybody else,” he said.  This was a new perspective on family.

I was impressed at how well Keith navigated the stores, especially that bustling Barnes & Noble, with a loaded down stroller. It made me think about the summer in New York and noticing all those young couples pushing their baby strollers through Central Park.

Strolling through SouthLake

I remember the look on their faces. For some, it was a look of sacrifice, while others appeared downright miserable. And then, there was the couple whose smiles could light up Broadway.

That’s what I saw from Keith and Courtney. I guess you would call it joy.

That night, after baby girl was put down to sleep, Keith helped me download some songs to my I-Pod. We talked a little about the upcoming college bowl season and then it was time for me to leave.

Courtney gave me a big hug and she asked Keith to take a few pictures of us. When I left, she had a tear in her eye. I hope it was a tear of joy. I really don’t care to be pitied. It’s way overrated.

On the ride back to the hotel, Keith and I mostly talked about the economy. He said the recession was starting to creep into his health care sector and, like most of us, he was none too thrilled.

“It’s going to get better,” I tried to assure him. At that point, the entire trip’s air of optimism had taken hold, “And, we’ll all be stronger for it.”

When I got back to the room, Jim was already fast asleep. We had a 12-hour drive back to Panama City ahead of us.

And I was ready to go home.