Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bringing brunette back: follow up on the blonde experiment

So, for any one who remembers that I completely did a color overhaul on my hair in late October in North Carolina, I promised that I would follow my experience here on my blog. In mid January, I chopped 3 inches of my blonde locks. Yeah, I know hair is "dead" anyway, but honestly my blonde hair is more yellow than anything and I feel like its dry and split and unhealthy. And fake. Yuck. I am glad that I did this experiment. For sure. I loved the beginning of feeling different and slightly reinventing myself.

I have promised Jeff that I would not further process my hair, not even with a demi whatever they call it to get it back to brown. I am going to have to bring brunette back au natural. What we agreed on is that I can get it cut as often as I need to help this hideous growing out process. Having wavy/curly hair will help make the drastic roots a little bit more subtle. Subtle like me. Which we know, isn't really all too subtle most of the time.

What I realized and what I was so very grateful that I realized is that I LOVE the old Alyssa's hair. I am really happy with the brunette me. The REAL me. That took a long time to really experience. And it took a blonde overhauling. Who knew?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The intrigue of Water for Elephants and The Aerialist

So, I never said I loved going to the circus...I don't know if it is the smell or the treatment of the animals (let's not get too carried away, I eat red meat and wear leather), but after reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Aerialist by Richard Schmitt, I was intrigued by circus life. I read Water for Elephants and suggested it as a book club selection; my book club entourage accepted and I hosted that month's book club at my condo. Intellectually, I challenged the historical nature of the novel, but was pleasantly surprised with its accuracy. Several years later, my husband suggested I read a hand-me-down favorite, The Aerialist. The circus life became increasingly curious. The Aerialist had a different spin in a very different decade, but also a highly addictive read.

Now, only 45 minutes south of Sarasota, I am compelled to visit the John and Mabel Ringling estate which includes the Circus Museum that was described at the end of Gruen's book (I think after the novel ends in the acknowledgement section, but I could be wrong on the placement of these photos in her book). Anyway, Gruen's novel initially inspired me and now so close to the circus museum, I am so excited. We should be headed there tomorrow. Or the warm mineral springs and massages with hot stones and detoxifying body wraps. Either way, I will be at the Ringling estate and circus museum. You can count on that! I will keep you posted.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Well, it took me a while: the rest of Key Largo

So, there are many things I enjoyed about Key Largo. I had an interesting time at RUSK. I liked some of the people I met there, but recovery in some respects, really concerned me there. People do not take meetings as seriously as I would have hoped. While they are on Key Largo time, some newcomers may need a meeting and are desperately trying to get there in time for a meeting. Oh, but where are the trusted servants?Oh, yeah, they are over there, gabbing, catching up, whatever. Hmmm, who is in the meeting room starting a meeting to best help the newcomer on a timely basis? Not many people. But some of the people proved to be very friendly and I am grateful for them. I am not the type of person to socialize with just anyone. I am MUCH more likely to observe some one's integrity when it comes to her program of recovery.

Some of the meetings mystified me: people started using other words and substituting words in the first step, suggesting to others that maybe others should consider a new reading on the first step. For example, someone suggested using the word "unbearable" instead of "unmanageable". Poor baby! Take some freaking responsibility and accountability for what your powerlessness did and TAKE the first step the way it was written! Then this suggestion and false message of pathetic unbearability transcended several meetings! Yikes! Scary! I did with some aggravation, I will admit, set the message straight. Fortunately, by this time, I met a woman early in recovery to help with the steps and pass on the actual message of AA, as it is found in the Big Book. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to help this young woman. This is how I stay sober!

In spite of my previous post, I had a really relaxing time in Key Largo; after all, I accomplished my PADI open water certification and my New Years resolution to stop smoking. While I can't say that first week or two of not smoking were relaxing, the freedom from smoking was extremely rewarding. In Key Largo, I met someone with whom I baked a lot (gingerbread cookies and cupcakes and more). We even made a wonderfully tasty dinner and over the course of 3-4 weeks watched several movies, genres evenly divided between alcoholic and chick flick! It was a lot of fun. This same woman offered Jeff and me the use of her boat. Along with her (soon to be ex) husband, Jeff and I went out to Molasses Reef to snorkel on New Years Eve. While there were too many jelly fish for me and the motion of the boat on the waves made me ill (literally, I provided fish food to the lucky ones on the reef), I had a great deal of fun. Any idea Jeff and I EVER had of owning any kind of boat was quickly put to bed when I told Jeff "there is NO fucking way I will ever live on a boat". Yep, that's what I said and that pretty much sums it up. Don't worry, I will still be able to go on dive boats and all that, but LIVING on a boat....well, I think I have given up that ghost.

I spent the last 2-3 weeks helping the (somewhat) newcomer get through the beginning steps, baking an awful lot, visiting Mrs Macs more than ever, and taking care of my "high maintenance" needs like hair cuts, waxing, and a pedicure! Mrs Macs is worthy of much more than a mention.

We first went to Mrs Macs on a whim to satisfy a recommendation from a woman I spoke with at the dog park on Tybee Island, Georgia. Jeff and I enjoyed this restaurant and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone. So, remember, my tastes are specific: I loved their special sauce dressing, their cottage fries, and this pita sandwich they made. Granted I asked for it with out a few items, the pita sandwich with turkey breast was awesome. The servers (all female that I had) were friendly and one in particular was lots of fun and friendly with everyone; her name is Sarah and she was very familiar with Chandler's Ford in England where I first started my partying career as she, herself, lived not far from this little town near Southampton. The desserts were tasty as well! Jeff enjoyed the fish basket and other seafood meals. If and when we return to Key Largo, we are definitely spending some time at Mrs. Mac's.

There were a few other restaurants that I went to, but I only went to them a small handful of times. There was the Pilot House, DJ's Diner, Harriette's(spelling?) and they were fun, but they were not places I would probably choose to be a regular. I come back to Mrs. Macs because they remember I am the one with the unsweetened tea and the malt vinegar on the fries. I am going to keep coming back. See you next time Sarah and the gang at Mrs Macs!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Walking on broken glass

I really enjoyed many aspects of the meeting people part and the recovery process. I hope that all I met realize this and know this description of my physical living area does not accurately depict the people we met @ RUSK. That was fun & rewarding.

Having said that, I want to share my honest experience living in Key Largo at Mile Marker 97.5. We stayed at the Blue Fin Rock Harbor RV park/marina. I don’t know much about the owners, but as soon as we got to the RUSK club, people warned us about them, calling them slum lords. I was kind of surprised, but what the hell, everyone has an opinion. Then I heard more. By the time I had heard as unsavory things as the owners getting angry and doing coke (only rumors okay, opinions, whatever), I had already experienced the male owner yelling at someone. I had already experienced firsthand the men at the RV park discouraging me from using the shower rooms when I was all ready to hand over $20 for the shower room key. I showered in the RV the whole time, which is really no big deal since Jeff got a nice shower sprayer for us. The problem here is that they advertised showers; sometimes it is nice to take a nice hot shower at the RV Park and use less daily propane for use to use and a little bit of a change. But like I said, no biggie.

Days later, it was time to hit the laundry room. I thought for a minute someone forgot it was there because there was a rusted out laundry bin on rollers (that, due to rust build-up, wasn’t rolling anywhere). Of the five machines or so, ONE OR TWO even worked at all. The owner told me that they were nice big machines. Hmmm, really Alana? They cost $3.50 and $4.50 a load. They were NOT that big. Or nice. So, that about covers the grounds. The lot was expensive and it just seemed in retrospect, we did not get a whole lot for it. Except for the $40 we got back after we had written a check 6 weeks prior for $200 utilities up front. Who pays for utilities before you use them? We do, apparently. But like I said, we got $40 back, so I will disregard this element of the cash heist. Kind of.

The rest of my experience with the actual neighborhood was somewhat an extension of the rv park. It was glaringly obvious there were some deficits with this neighborhood. I don’t think I mentioned the permanent drunk fest across the way from us. The following activities occurred on a daily basis across the small street from us: drinking,yelling, littering and forgetting what day it was. To the best of my knowledge, there lived a small child in this alcoholic little trailer (a double wide, maybe, not even sure), but neither Jeff or I ever saw that child. The parent(s) were heard by either myself or Jeff (mostly Jeff though) whining about whose responsibility it was to take care of the child. It seemed safe to assume that if they were not complaining about parenting time, they completely lost track of parenting all together. It was often not clear. The distinction remained somewhat of a mystery during the week as the drinking and haphazard whining (that could be heard 50 feet away outside of their trailer and wafting into our personal space right outside our RV) more or less on the weekends or any football game they deemed important. It got a little bit annoying. I, to this day, do not really know exactly who lived there and claimed parentage of this child, but there was a woman who hung out there quite a lot and who could be frequently heard exalting herself to the most unhumbling (and unflattering) extent. So this could be the Mommy; I am not completely certain. What I do know is that this woman could be the one who was talking loudly (really?!) New Years Eve about this guy who was about 23 years old groping her ass and wanting to get into her pants. By just her voice (don’t judge someone by their voice-you may be giving them too much credit), she sounded late 50ish. Then she opened her big mouth (some more) and declared “how can someone 20 years younger than me think I am into him” or something to that effect. So instantly calculating that she was 43 (or so), I relayed the story to Jeff . The next day he pointed out the only woman hanging out on the front porch of this trailer. This woman...,well, I will just leave it to the imagination. I will tell you this: there is a reason she sounded MUCH older than her years. And if this is the drunk Mommy of said child, God help the young one. Now, you remember that I had mentioned NO gossip as a part of my 2010 resolutions. I realize that the tale I have just told and have yet to tell is an example of my shortcomings. I accept that, but I will probably continue with this character defect-just for the rest of the evening. The dilemma I have is that I have not used names. Oh wait, I guess I did. As far as the neighbors, I did not use names. As far as the business practices displayed being fact, not slander, I am not sure I completely apologize to the mentioned owners of the RV park.

Now, as far as the actual environs of the RV park neighborhood, they left a LOT to be desired. There was glass broken randomly around the sides of the roads, especially near the dumpster. There were areas that I had to dodge shredded beer cans (shredded metal is almost as nasty as the shards of glass. I don’t think my dogs would argue the points as they had to navigate gingerly over the territory on four naked paws; at least I had my flip flops on. As I would walk around the block,Max would head toward the bushes/grassy area. Everytime we visited those areas, there was a new set of shoes disposed or suspiciously abandonded socks on the ground (very very creepy, ok, if you have a vivid imagination like I do and watch way too much Sopranos). There was a bike or moped often attached to a tree next to an abandoned six pack or empty 40 ouncer. Yay, maybe the moped rider walked home. Then one day, we found a motorcycle with a dog latched on with a makeshift rope of some sort. Fortunately, there were a few adults near the motorcycle, so we did not have to worry about the fate of the dog (well, actually, I think we worried more and you would too if you saw them).

This pretty much summarizes the experience day to day living (walking the dogs and biking around the neighborhood). Walking on broken glass was a daily occurrence. Did you notice this was not a rave review? Next, I will compensate the neighborhood experience with my sober living experience and that really made up for all of this (as well as the diving certification and accomplishment). That will have to be my next posting as I am almost done with my laundry.
Have a good one & see you next time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More to come, but a note about the blogs I have been reading....

A quick note: I am constantly learning about new blogs, new writing styles, new personalities and I am constantly bored by the popular, well read blogs; I am always searching for new material. If you know of blogs that are funny, decently written (a minimally collegiate command of the English language, but comfortable with taking some poetic license), definitely let me know. I will check it out. I want to read a blog without the inner English teacher in me itching to leap out.

I am sick of hearing about going green blogs, mommyblogs, home schooling, etc. I don't have children so I am not really interested in shopping for diapers and how to get through airport security with half a dozen children. So let me know. I have already replaced pioneer woman (like the cooking, don't like the home schooling saga) with a nice and light blog by someone who loves the color pink (I couldn't be more serious about my blogging-see my blog list). As obnoxiously superficial as this sounds (because, yes, it is obnoxiously superficial), I can relate to the pink chick more than the farmer lady. I would be interested in puppy oriented blogging as well as travel and scuba diving blogs. I love children so don't misread me. However, I don't do their diapers typically or feed them out of Gerber jars with baby faces (that most likely have left third world non English speaking moms very confused), so I just can't relate to some of these blogs. I don't need to apologize. I AM NOT HATING ON YOUR CHILDREN. Promise. Dooce can be interesting to read ( I loved the clothes washer saga and her post partum depression book), but I am getting bored on for some reason. Maybe because I found her more entertaining when she was just being real and I found her less entertaining when she made it so obvious she was entertaining and egging on her hateful non-fans. It seemed NOT so real. More contrived. I will continue to check it out, but we have options, don't we?!

I will constantly be updating my blog list, deleting some, adding others . Leave me a comment with some blog web sites & I will be happy to check them out!

Tomorrow, I will start writing on the complete Key Largo experience while at Blue Fin Rock Harbor Marina. I promised Jeff I would wait til we are in Naples (our next stop) before posting it. You will surely see why he wanted me to wait. I am calling the post "Walking on Broken Glass" (an Annie Lennox tribute of sorts).

See you soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Walking with roosters in Key West

Yesterday marked another first for me. I went to Key West and drove all the way down, only playing bouncy with one of the poles on the side of the road (thankfully, it was a very forgiving pole). Jeff didn't even freak out! Anyway, after we safely arrived at a prime parking spot, I realized it was almost four & that meant only one thing. ONE hour only to enjoy a tour of Ernest Hemingway's house on Whitehead Street. I was so excited, we walked at a brisk pace and in my humility, agreed to ask for directions to confirm we were headed in the correct direction; not only were we headed right for the house, but we got two coupons for $1. It pays to ask for sure. Then I heard roosters..WHAT?! Seriously I heard them. Then I saw them. Crossing the street. Hanging out near the gutters. Everywhere. Turns out they are protected by the city. THere is something like a $500 fine for messing with them. I am not sure how that works or what is involved with the rooster protection. It definitely was more Mexico or Bahamas than Islamorada or Key Largo. Anyway, we walked right through the front gates, gave our tickets to the tour guide, and were all ready to enter the house to look around before the guided tour started. Well, then I used this opportune time to get my glasses out of the case as I had been wearing my prescription sunglasses this whole time. Hmmm. No glasses case. Oh yes! In my haste, I chose to keep them in the front of the car, so I would remember them (rather than just keep them in my purse where they stay pretty much every other day). It was a dark dark tour.

I learned quite a bit about Ernest Hemingway's wives & travels. I minimally knew about his literary successes and the Hemingway family mental health legacy primarily due to my high school and undergraduate careers; however, his wives, extensive travels, fishing fame & specific familial mental deficiencies were just a few of the things I learned in a very brief 40 minutes. I even got to pet one of the forty-something cats. Some had six toes, but not the one I got to pet. I knew that we had some books and postcards to buy and we went into the bookstore, where lo and behold, there were books everywhere. I chose a book for the most superficial reason of all, but I cared not-it motivated me to ultimately seek and read more Hemingway. Do you remember City of Angels with Meg Ryan & Nicholas Cage? Yes, yes, I think it was based on Wings of Desire by Wims Wender, but that's not the point right now! What is the point is that a book of Hemingway's was mentioned: A Moveable Feast. Bingo! I found it. I bought it. I have no regrets. I have one book ahead in queue. Then it's Hemingway I will be hungry for. I purchased our books (Jeff got To Have and Have Not) and post cards from a very good looking guy. He was very enthusiastic to help us. I do think, honestly, that this had more to do with his opportunity to help Jeff than to help me. He thought Jeff was THAT cute, really.

We headed toward the southernmost point (after I got my regular glasses seeing as the sunset was going to change my visual advantage shortly). I got a photo with my Blackberry for Facebook. Jeff & I headed then to get dinner. We were very hungry. Jeff decided to take the car from our awesome parking space and somehow landed us in a strip mall parking lot. The store fronts advertised (I am too hungry to joke at this point) a family services center, a child support office, a Wesley center for girls and at the end, a nail/salon shop. In this parking lot at this mall for wanting children sat an loudly idling Cadillac with some hood ornament and REALLY big shiny rims. Yes, in the land of children in need was this decorated vehicle WITH REALLY BIG RIMS. Yeah, THAT BIG & SHINY! Jeff says to the guy (of course, behind the protection of our closed window ford escort rental) "sooo I am so hungry...but I needed some bigger rims for my ride". I just started laughing. Horribly politically incorrect and I just started laughing. I couldn't stop. It was really juvenile. It took the hunger pangs away, but it wasn't trendy to be laughing in such a depressed area of Key West and Jeff got me out of there. We somehow got to a restaurant in the one block or so of trendy Key West that Wendy recommended. We found Blue Heaven, a nice little eccentric, independent restaurant somewhere in Key West (don't ask me to find it for you, but I can give them a great review). We had wonderful food (Jeff had scallops; I, of course, had filet mignon) and headed home to our dogs, skipping dessert (though I am sure Blue Heaven would make key lime pie to rave about).

This was my Key West experience. Extremely abbreviated. Extremely efficient. I saw. I bought. I ate. I left!

I probably missed a lot in Key West that more time and warmer weather would have proved more inviting. I will get ya next time Key West!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day #7- A bad habit dying very very hard

Sooo, smoking at the moment is a thing of the past. I feel that the physical part is way in the past. It's the habit part that is kicking my ass. To be honest, the physical part of smoking was deplorable and easy to let go. The physical effects of being smoke-free are glorious: hair smells fresh and clean (well, as long as I shampoo somewhat regularly), clothes smell clean, and breath does not resemble a human ashtray (this is one of the most disgusting facets of smoking hygiene, or lack there of). I wish that's all there was, the remnants of a nasty habit gone bye bye. Ciao, adios, shalom.

Nope, it could never be that easy. That's why this quitting smoking thing SUCKS! The physical reasons are the reasons we quit (the short term physical benefits as well as the long term physical/medical plusses). Honestly, I did not quit because I wanted to stop doing something that is: enjoyable, calming (paradoxical as that sounds to a non smoker), and well, so damn habitual. Smoking is not a glamorous social sport. It just happens to be what you would find me doing when I got off work, work breaks, after meal times, before, during &after watching the sopranos, movies, driving a long distance or in traffic. And any other time you think "why not smoke now...sounds like a great time for a light".

So if you ask me for the truth, I will tell you. I enjoyed smoking. I enjoyed the ritual; I enjoyed having a smoke with friends after an AA meeting or dinner; I had fun smoking with fellow smokers during the Sex and The City movie and all the episodes. I enjoyed smoking on my own when I was single and watched tons of foreign movies and chick flicks by myself. Quitting smoking for some reason seems more difficult than the whole drinking thing and that sounds absurd; maybe I don't remember the drinking thing as well. I remember obsessing and then being neutral to alcohol. Perhaps, down the line, I will be neutral to cigarettes. I don't believe I need a gift of desperation. I don't need cancer or a respiratory disease to get me to quit. For me, smoking is just a dirty nasty ludicrous habit that is going to require a really good fight.

These are the cigarettes I enjoyed and smoked for any length of time (I feel I ought to identify the opponent in the battle):

The Main Event:
Marlboro Reds
Marlboro blend 27 (I think this is the name)
Marlboro Lights
Camel Lights
Camel Special Lights
Camel Pink no 9
Camel special blends
Parliament lights

I think I have enough fight to kill the habit! We will see at day 30, day 60 day 90! Day 90 will be a big one as that's about as long as I have ever gone.

But we will take it one day at a time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's all fun and games four days in...

So, with all my attempts, I don't expect some people to take me seriously. You know, that's not even that important any more! I am taking me day at a time. Maybe, four days without a cigarette, I am on a pink cloud. Never had that before. I really feel better already! Now, to be honest, I have certain positive changes in habits already working in my favor that I never had during previous attempts to quit cigarettes for good:

I am eating less fast food and eating healthier over all (let's not get too excited-no one said anything about eating vegan or recycling the containers of my food or anything).

I am exercising more.

I am experiencing less insomnia and getting more quality rest.

I, of late, have been reading more fashion magazines, but feeling the need to indulge and BUY BUY BUY much less (I am not sure how this helps the smoke habit, though I guess I am finding smoking a lot less glamorous-not sure if I ever did, but definitely finding it less so).

So, when I say I am not smoking anymore, cut me a little slack on my support group, okay. Meet my support group:

There is my best carbonated and ever faithful friend Diet Pepsi. There is Dr Pepper, but I am not sure if he betrays me with calories. They are both getting a bit jealous of the wallflower, water, who makes very quiet but frequent introductions into my life. I am drinking some now! Meet Starbursts, the Nerds, the Haribo gummy bear and cola bottle gang and least but not least: the Nerds Rope!

My more healthy friends include cucumbers and carrots as well as sunflower seeds. I confess, however, that the sunflower seed shells are salted and I suck the salt completely dry. Yummy. And sometimes, I still feed the seed inside to Max. He likes Nerds too! More water please!!

Yeah, like I said, it's all fun four days in!