10 Tips for Sarasota Snowbirds

Inspired by everyday, real-life experiences and finding solace in oncoming summer.

 

  1. U.S. 41 is a major north-south highway, not a scenic road. Please be aware of how much you’re screwing up traffic when you drive 25 mph.

 

  1. Also, don’t pull a snowbird roadblock and keep even pace with the idiot next to you. There are only two lanes (per direction) on the North Trail; don’t fuck them both up.

 

  1. You’re not allowed to say Siesta Key Beach is “just OK.” You’re just not.

 

  1. “Yield” going into roundabouts does not mean “stop entirely and wait.” Nor does it mean “zip on in despite oncoming traffic.”

 

  1. Ringling Boulevard is FOUR lanes, divided by a landscaped median. If you’re driving the wrong way, we WILL laugh and take your picture.

 

  1. If you’re going to shop for beach supplies at Publix, please don’t do it at noon. Some of us are on our lunch break and don’t want to have to fight past you and your flip-flop indecision.

 

  1. If you find yourself among the first in line at the Bahia Vista/41 or Bee Ridge/41 left-hand turn lanes, please pretend there are pitchfork-wielding villagers behind you; there might as well be if you hesitate and leave us waiting through another cycle.

 

  1. Pedistrian-friendly downtown only extends so far; by god, I will run your ass over if you try to cross Orange against the light.

 

  1. For god’s sake, DON’T FEED THE SEAGULLS.

 

  1. I don’t care whose tiny child is dancing, keep a clear path through the chickee hut at O’Leary’s, or I will spill my beer on you.

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Late-Night Lonely Songs

For some comforting detachment when the lights go down. (Or: What I Listened To Pulling All-Nighters in College)

 

 

 

 

 

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Ogden Nash on Bad Coffee and Little Sleep

Bored, tired and caffeinated, Tiny Red suggested we editors three “write poetry about your favorite animals.”

These four pieces are the collective fruits of about six minutes of creativity:

1. DEFINITIONS

Turkeys are glurkey,

But ducks are the shit.

Kitties are pretty.

Badgers have mitts.

2. BETRAYAL

I like horsies
I like bunnies
I like duckies

FALSE

I do not like duckies
Their feet scare me.

Are they fish or are they bird?

 

They are unholy.

 

3. COHABITATION

Why,

Spider?

WHY?

 

Are your leg parts in my cereal?

 

Why,

Lizard?

WHY?

 

Is your skull in my bed?

 

Why,

CJ?

WHY?

 

Won’t you stop being disgusting?

 

4. WHEN THE GATOR ATE MY LEG

When the gator ate my leg

I swore he’d throw it up

In time to get to the hospital.

 

He didn’t.

 

When the gator ate my leg

I cursed him with indigestion

And then I remembered my favorite sock.

 

It’s gone.

 

When the gator at my leg

I wished diarrhea upon him

But then he pooped in my pool.

 

It’s gross.

 

 

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A Home Hockey Weekend Away

The best bar in the world.

The best bar in the world.

At one week before the tournament, the schedule comes out and shit starts to get real. Everyone on the team has her own job, her own life, stretching from north Tampa down to Port Charlotte. But now the shift to hockey lives ramps up on social media. Lefty, a sister-like friend and old-school Canadian defenseman, posts a “Timehop” status from five years ago: “Reading Hannah’s blog, it dawns on me I made it through an entire tournament without a single penalty!!! WTF is happening to me?”

I respond, “Hoping to do an account this time through; see if you can change the narrative a bit, hmm?”
The Friday game always garners the most adrenaline—a week’s worth of daydreaming of crisp passes and hard shots—but even more so this time, as I’ve got a big group of coworkers, friends even and accompanying strangers here to watch. It’s an honor, and heartwarming, up until the point I realize that we’re going to get dominated by the other team, and my contributions will be a single line-rush to the offensive zone and a pretty blatant trip that I somehow still didn’t get called for. “We” (my teammates) muster a couple of goals on a paltry number of shots, and lose 4-2. The awesome people cheer anyway.

Everyone is amped to blow off some steam, especially considering we don’t play again until Saturday afternoon. But anchoring my mood is a 7 a.m. “agreement” (I didn’t realize it would be so early) to help Mrs. Harrible man the check-in table. Still, there’s a crowd out, and people need beer. We all down a couple Bud Lights while standing in crowds around the lobby, exchanging numbers, trying to sort out plans. A few of us, along with the remaining fans, head to Applebee’s for a bit. Around 12:30 I meet up with another group downtown. It’s loud and smokey and I’m relatively subdued—a whiskey here, a beer there—and make my escape around 2. Teammates J.D. and Kamikaski show no signs of slowing down.

The 7 a.m. arrival was never going to happen. At 2:30 a.m. I make it official with a text to Mrs. Harrible: “Sorry, dude. Everybody came out tonight instead of tomorrow. Aiming for 8:30.” It’s kind of a shitty thing to do.

Up at 7:30 and make it to the rink by 8:30. I’m surprised my back isn’t worse, but the lack of sleep is already worrisome. I question the wisdom of my McMuffin breakfast (and the caffeine content of McDonald’s coffee). I sell a few raffle tickets and try to avoid nodding off. At 11, as other teammates have arrived, I beg off—45 minutes to drive home, 45-minute nap, then 45 minutes back to the rink by 1:15 for our 2 p.m. game. I regret nothing about these decisions.

Kamikaski, apparently, regrets the shots that happened before, during and after my time at the bar. She’s only moderately late to the locker room, but misses the first shift or two due to an unscheduled appointment between her head and the toilet.

It’s the same team again, and while our shot total goes up, we struggle finding the back of the net. Frustration mounts. The other team is both physical and winning, and the refs miss a couple of opportunities to intercede early—illegal checks and behind-the-play high sticks, coming and going from both teams. Kamikaski lowers her football shoulder pads into the other team’s star, who responds with a two-hander to the helmet and a squealy rebuke to our bench. Quick Little K gets crunched off the puck in the corner. Furious warnings from our bench, “You better call something or this is about to get really bad!”

During a scrum in front of our net, an opposing player goes flying. Coasting toward the penalty box, Lefty stops for a moment in the doorway, seeing me on the bench: “Your wish is my command,” she grins.

Final score: 4-0. Blessedly, we get to keep the same locker room, which will stay a sea of stank, wet gear for the three hours until time next to suit up again.

Between games, Captain Beerslinger heads out to get more beer, but in the meantime, we need beer, so we snag a couple of pitchers from the snack bar and plop around in front of college basketball, bullshitting about whatever and rehashing old stories for new teammates.

Our goalie ambles over balancing plates stacked with soft pretzels and neon-orange nacho cheese, turns her back to deflect the ribbing: “Don’t worry about what’s going on over here.”

Keight, a newer addition but one of the stronger and more experienced skaters on the team, shows up with a Subway sandwich and a 12-pack of…”Azulitas?” I ask.

“…what?”

“Haha, dude, those are 8-ouncers.” There’s an ongoing discussion of the merits of smaller serving sizes even when the same total amount of beer will be consumed. More contributions come. Within an hour, despite our best efforts to keep up with supply, the cooler is overflowing.

harrible

Mr. Harrible and an Azulita.

The 6 p.m. game takes effort, but at least it’s a different team this time—a selection of players from Alabama and Georgia. We go the entire second period without a shot on net, but it’s more competitive than it sounds. My best play—a steal at the blue-line and potential breakaway—was negated by a prolonged stumble of wobbledy ankles and eventual fall. I keep my cool about it until a linemate mentions how close it was to an awesome play. “FUCK!” I respond.

Later, Little J, who’s been our lone fan for the day, commends my ability to shield the puck even as I fall down. Good man.

An opposing player “goes batshit crazy,” to Kamikaski’s estimation, and attacks J.D. after the goalie covered the puck. Somehow both players get penalties. Kamikaski and her football pads are ready to nail someone, but order prevails.

Shut out in another loss.

Postgame pizza party to watch even more hockey at the Harribles’ house. The young ‘uns—Little K and Hands—show up with, I shit you not, juice boxes and fruit-by-the-foot. Lefty and I put cheese puffs on our pizza. Inspired by my negated breakaway, Hands shows me—and then everyone else—a video of a runway model wobbling and falling in too-high heels. Guffaws. “I hate you all.”

Sunday locker room conversations are both celebratory and somber—work and real life loom, and talk turns to impending deadlines and asshole fourth-graders. Male hockey players are predominantly blue collar—landscapers, plumbers, welders, firemen. Percentage-wise, female hockey players are overwhelmingly teachers. I could run down a few theories for why this is, but maybe it’s better you ponder it on your own.

The game is our best yet—a 2-2 tie against the out-of-staters, despite the fact that J.D. had her own batshit moment and got tossed for mouthing off at the ref. But I’m subdued by exhaustion, frustration and an inability to get my juju going. I try not to let my cloud affect the team’s celebration, and it eventually clears. Yet more post-game locker room hangout time–feet on bags, beers in hand–stretches indefinitely into the afternoon.

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Blood Pressure High

It could be worse: My problem…issue…defect…default…makes itself known to me, and quickly so. And when it’s known, I have my current treatments here. Those treatments poison me in other ways—the sort of “you can’t have everything” lesson that reminds you of times when you had everything—but the current treatments are better than the disease.

To put it literally: My current antidepressant—a year-ago change from the medication that, for six years, made me so angry and anxious and uptight that I couldn’t overcome my nature to fix the relationship that was probably the closest thing to a cure I’ll ever know—has made me gain 30-plus pounds, and left me sluggish and out of shape, despite the concerted-but-patient effort that comes from having more tolerance for indifference and medication-heavy leg muscles.

In for a doc appointment today, they pointed out that my diastolic pressure was high.

“Common for you?”

“No, but my BP was several-times high during checkups for the finger surgery I had this summer. I’ve always been 120/70.”

Then, with the NP:

“See, if the high blood pressure is consistent, we have to treat it with medication.”

“I mean, what does this indicate?”

“Well, you may be developing hypertension.”

In my brain: “…um. Well. Duh?”

From my mouth: “But…could there be some cause? Could it be related to—“

“Weight-loss is usually what we recommend…”

“Yeah, exactly, the weight gain has been a major concern. That’s why I’m here.”

“Most antidepressants come with potential weight gain.”

“I’ve had a lot of lifestyle changes. I went from Wellbutrin—“

“—Wellbutrin is considered weight-neutral—“

“—yeah, and then I went to Lexapro.”

“Decreased libido and weight gain are the most common issues with SSRIs. The thing with Wellbutrin is that it doesn’t treat anxiety.”

“No, yeah, and I definitely appreciate the way the Lexapro affects anxiety. And anger. It’s just…I’m…I do…I play a lot of sports and stuff, and I just feel…I’m suddenly so out of shape…I used to be able to at least jog…my legs are sluggish…I feel out of shape…my muscles feel…heavy. All the time.”

This isn’t to demean my provider, who’s obviously working through, as I am, the reality of the situation. I blame the universe: The drugs that work best for one big problem have taken away the talent I always had the most pride in. Sure, the drugs make that loss a little easier to take, but…is that the best there is?

And now the best cure is triggering yet another disease?

Would I rather rage-run my way through three miles a day, screaming (and more) into embarrassing confrontations, punching a wall or two in the time it takes to put my workout clothes on? Or exist in a soothingly neutral state with no interest in pride or accomplishment or lack thereof?

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2015

I’m not a resolution-maker (any resolve I have in one moment can easily be undone by counter-resolve in the next), but if I were, I’d try to commit to posting more here. Anyway, here’s where things stand.

Work: A decade at the mag come March. Regular features, health column, etc. etc. No longer allowed to throw things at Tiny Red. Chugging along.

Health: Hoping to address weight gain at doc appointment on Monday with some prescription adjustments. Knees and fingers, wrists and toes (wrists and toes) have not sustained any setbacks of late. No word on when the head will heal. Third nipple going strong. Third nostril has been taken care of. Spackle works wonders.

Apartment: Aside from mold in the shower (FOR SHAME), staying on the landlady’s good side for the most part. String of lights by the fence makes for kickass nighttime cornhole. The hill are alive with the sounds of gunfire and ghetto birds.

CJ: Eats the mattress. Has only fallen off the loft once thus far. Still takes the stairs down one at a time. Somehow found a new lizard dealer in the neighborhood. Bitch has a problem.

Sports (playing): Between being out of shape and younger/calmer than most people out there, didn’t really catch on with the 7-v-7 soccer league. All-new hockey team of strangers (due to a league draft rather than the standard put-your-own-team-together format) has more promise than I would’ve expected—thanks in part to a knuckleball goal in game 1 that helped put me in the teammates’ good graces. Very much looking forward to a women’s tournament in Ellenton next weekend. Considering headis.

Sports (watching): Aside from the occasional lapses in defense, Bolts have been fun to watch. Bucs were very much not (hoping for Mariotta instead of Winston). We’ll see if the Maddon-less Rays can hold my attention come spring.

Eating: Lettuce, but only as a vehicle for Ma’s blender Caesar salad dressing.

Drinking: Beer. Bourbon. Purell.

Social life: See above.

Love life: Tiny glass animals. Blaming the blue roses.

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Hamlard

poutine

Poutine or not poutine?
That is the question.
Whether ‘tis Canada-er in the dish
To suffer the pangs and harrows
of unpototatoed beer
Or to take curds against a sea of gravy
And then potatoes, eat them. To eat, to weep—
No more; and by a weep to say we cry
The tears and thousand natural joys
That fat is heir to. ‘Tis a consommé-tion
Devoutly to be wished. To cry, to weep—
To weep, perchance to seam—aye, there’s the pub,
For in that weep of joy, what seams may burst
When we have shoveled down this aortal clog,
Must give us pause. There’s the diet
That makes insanity of so large meal:
For who would bear the chips and dips of blah,
The suppressor’s tong, the dietitians veggie sticks
The pangs of uneaten food, the line’s delay,
The impotence of whiskey, and the turns
That drunken merit of the caloric takes,
When she herself might her poutine make
With a raw potato? Who would these smoothies bear
To nom and snarf under a brew’ry light
But that the dread of something after food,
The undigested grease, from whose toilet
No diner returns, puzzles the gut,
And makes us rather bear the salad we have
Than to stuff our faces with crap we know not of.
Thus conscience does make dieters of us all
And thus the native hue of gravy-ation
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of curd,
And enterprises of great fry and flavor
With this regard their nomness turns a fry,
And lose the name of dinner.

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