Saturday, February 20, 2010

My AH-Mazing FL Trip - Part 1 (aka...the first 24hrs)

Life is crazy sometimes.  My life, well it is crazy all the time.  There are 24hrs in a day...7 days in a week and 365 days in a year...all of them, for me...for the most part are C-R-A-Z-Y!  Not "crazy busy" or "crazy hectic" but "holy shit is this really happening right now" kind of craziness.

So what is one to do when life is just coming down on ya and you need to get your bearings??  Well, if you're plan a trip back home.  I had gone back and forth with the idea for awhile but then the opportunity presented itself along with free lodging and a LONG break from the new job (God bless you Louisiana and your Mardi Gras lovin self) so it was time to hit the road, literally, and make the drive down to my hometown of Clearwater, FL.

"Who packs the night before and forgets their friggin camera???"

I worked all day Friday, February 12th all though the kids were home due to the snow.  Yeah, ya read that right.  I live in Slidell, Louisiana and we have had schools either let out or closed early on several separate occasions over the past months for threat of or actual flakes a fallin.  That's right Ladies and Gentlemen the Saints won the Superbowl and now HELL along with the Deep South is freezing over!

I decided to skip the BEST parade that rolls in Slidell, which is the Krewe of Selene, and stay home to pack.  I used to ride in this parade but after a particular incident involving me passed out on top of beads and throwing about $200 worth of throws to someone other than my children as previously promised in 2008...well I stopped riding after that year.  Mainly because of that and the money it takes to ride and the way the economy tanked and oh yeah...the unemployment and my marriage falling in the toilet.  They were all factors.  To this day Hannah has not let me live it down, but I think with ample amounts of therapy and a few expensive gifts I may finally be able to get her to forgive this lapse in drunken judgement.

So I sent the girls with Jon to the parade to hang out and give me quiet in the house to pack....which then led to cleaning and somewhere along the way I forgot that A) I really need to get some sleep cause my 4am leaving time would be fast approaching and B) I needed to remove camera from charger and put in laptop bag.  I failed miserably on both counts and made it to bed at 2am, woke up at 5am hurriedly got ready, ran to get gas hoped on the interstate a good 2hrs past my original scheduled time and realized just a hair before the Louisiana/Mississippi border that I was camera-less.  Thank God I literally only live about 5 minutes from the state line (unless your trying to make that drive during an evacuation from a deadly CAT5 hurricane, then it's like 2 1/2 hrs).  I turned it around.  Drove back home.  Raced inside and scooped up camera.  Back in the vehicle I threw in the first of about 100 hundred CD's and headed East on I-10.

"Bladder issues'd think I was traveling with a 2yr old."

There is something insanely peaceful about being on the road with almost no other cars.  I was making good time with the exception of my damn bladder.  I've always known that I pee more than the average woman....hell I pee more than the average infant.  I can totally see why that "allegedly" psycho female astronaut who brought the wonderful world of astronaut diapers front and center in the world wide press even put one on in the first place.  I mean ya gotta make good time and stoppin to take a piss really hinders your progress.  She was sportin this shit on her 900 mile crazy love fueled mission of inter galactic marriage destroying stupidity to FL.  I only needed it for 635 miles and I was just going for a "good time", I at least made sure to brush my hair AND put on make-up.  Totally different circumstances but still it gives ya something to entertain yourself with on a 10+ hr drive.  

I'd like to thank you NASA for creating something interesting for me to follow other than the whole ridiculous Space Elevator idea of that same year.  Oh you so funny!  I tried to build an elevator at my gram's house when I was like 4 yrs old.  Two major issues though....refrigerator boxes will NOT hold you when they are suspended by fishing wire and gram gets really pissed if she finds you up on the roof before she's had at least 2 beers.  If only I had a more engineering based mind instead I spent a lot of time making my own paint and getting my ass beat for using it to paint flowers on the outside of her house.  Not to mention skating around the pool...and then falling in.  These two admissions explain a lot about why I have problems people.  Oxygen deprivation at an early age can REALLY mess a person up.  Just sayin....

"I'm an AH-MAZING singer in my SUV while driving 90mph 80mph the speed limit.  I'm totally gonna be the opening act for Carrie Underwood or someone really famous one day."

I tried to lay off the liquid refreshments for the sake of driving time and how frustrated I was getting with having to find "suitable" restroom facilities.  I'm not a germ-a-phob per say but since having kids and seeing the shit they will lick or how little they wash their hands....yeah, I'm a little finicky about where I will drop trow at.  I stopped at a rest area in Alabama...HUGE MISTAKE!  I got the stall next to two drunk girls (by the way it was like 8am) and one starting puking and TOTALLY missed her target, unless of course her target was about 1/2 inch from my shoe cause if that was the case she was a total winner!  Then they came out of the stall, leaving the prize for someone else to find, didn't wash their hands and the pukey one wiped her mouth before grabbing the door handle....UGH  I almost had to wait in the bathroom until someone else opened the door because A) there were no paper towels (I know we are trying to save the rain forest or some shit with these damn hand dryers but COME ON) and B) who the fuck thought it was a brilliant idea to make it so you wash your hands, dry your hands and then have to grab a grubby gross door handle in order to exit the restroom??  

I'd like the name and number of this genius because they need to be bitch slapped by a hand that has just been in close proximity to an ass and felt the urge to NOT wash their hand.  We should have to grab a handle to pull a door open on the way in and be able to push the door open upon exit.  This should be a rule....NOT an exception.  Ok...climbing off my bathroom soapbox now.

I did stop at another rest area just over the Florida state line and found that maybe it was cause I missed my home state SOOOOOO damn much but they had the whole door situation down and more importantly they possessed clean potties and paper towels.  I was a happy camper.

After that though it was ALL gas stations or at one point a Walgreens.  But when you are driving and trying to entertain yourself and supposedly NOT texting or facebook updating (which I totally didn't do at all a lot) your only real option if you are to sing.  However, singing leads to dry mouth.  Dry mouth leads to beverages.  Beverages leads to needing to piss!  It's a vicious, vicious cycle.

"Thanks for answering the door.  I just drove all day to make sure you were alive, I'm super tired and have to get back to Louisiana."

Since I decided to detour off the interstate and take Hwy 19 from just past Tallahassee to my destination I was able to drop in on a dear friend of mine Jen.  Now...I love Jen dearly.  We've been through a shit load in our 15+ years of friendship.  But lord love a duck, that woman didn't respond to ANY of my messages about me coming down so I had no idea if she was alive, moved or what and therefore I didn't include her in my schedule of events over my 4 day visit.  I did however feel the need to just show up on her door step and bang on her door until she answered.   I am a smart ass and so when she answered I was like "thanks for answering...just wanted to make sure you were still alive...I gotta get back home now", suprisingly she didn't find it as funny as I intended it to be.  

I only had about an hour to visit with her until I had to get back on the road and head south, but I wouldn't have changed stopping there for any amount of time saved.  Even just a few minutes with her and her family meant a lot to me.  It's one of the hardest things to be so far away, physically, from the people who know me like the back of their hands.  They catch me when I fall and pick me back up just with their words.  It was hard saying good-bye and knowing that I might not see her again during my trip. 

"How come when I was in Canada people drove REALLY well but here on US-19 they are a bunch of flippin morons??"

Back on the road again, it took everything in me not to commit justifiable highway homicide!  I had been keeping in contact with a friend of mine from high school who was kind enough to agree to come pick me up for that evenings events and finally I had to just call him because I'd nearly killed two individuals while trying to text at red lights.  Seriously, when the light is RED it means STOP and it certainly does not mean try to change lanes while there is a car next to you!  

I finally made it to my girl Kara's house who was kind enough after 8 years of not seeing each other to offer up her house, and her bed (which she too slept in), to me.  When I pulled up I was nearly accosted by her neighbor when she thought I was trying to either case or break into the condo.  In truth I did look kind of suspicious cursing under my breath and feeling around patio for a damn hide-a-key.  You'd think I was a fucking blind person.  It was part funny and part frustrating because of course once again I HAD TO PEE!!!

So I met the neighbor, who helped me with my bags and then invited me over for cocktails.  My kind of people.  I had to politely refuse because I had to change and get ready to be picked up.  I mistakenly thought I had a good bit of time and had just gotten undressed when I got the call that my friend was in the parking lot.  I got dressed so damn fast, you'd have thought someone yelled "FIRE!".

I did make him come in and wait so I could make sure I didn't want to touch up make-up and fix hair.  I was quite impressed with the fact that a long drive like that had left me not looking like shit.  Way to go me!  

We made our way down onto Clearwter Beach and I marvelled at all the changes that had happened in the 2 years sinceI had been home although I was still slightly mistified over the fact that they haven't ripped out that damn round-a-bout on as you enter the beach.  FYI...just cause it works in the UK doesn't mean we need it in FL.  People can't figure out red lights, 4 way stops and one way streets and your gonna put them on a continual loop and trust that they won't kill someone with their are brave engineers...very, very brave.  I suggest you make your name and numbers unlisted, thus avoiding a flaming bag of dog poo on your door step.  

Dinner was great although our server was a little...ummmm, clingy.  I told Ari that I'd be his "wingwoman" but when he went to the restroom and she disclosed her medical ailments...I was like hold-up...this ain't gonna work!  We left and made our way to Shepards to have dranks and see some other blast from the past.

Sitting at the club I realized a few things....

1) the female to male ratio in FL clubs (at least on this night) was WAY different than back New Orleans.  Seriously, there was like 10 guys to every 1 girl!

2) I've apparently been listening to country or my i-pod way too long because in a span of a few hours I only knew about 1/2 dozen songs that they played and sadly one of them was "Single Ladies" and yes...I did the dance.
3) Julia (my friend from back in high school) is amazingly beautiful and makes STRONG ass drinks.  I'm thinking I need to take karate because if that's how you get a bod like that after 3 kids...sign me up!

4) Ari really can't dance and apparently neither can I...who knew??

5) Mom's take their son's out to clubs in FL...I must remember to do this to my children, thus embarassing them and making some psychologist very rich!

6) forgetting your camera is a BAD thing when you want to remember some of what happened cause the vodka was flowing a little too freely

and finally....

7) getting home after a night spent driving, out with friends you haven't seen in 15 years, putting away SERIOUS amounts of vodka & cranberry does not make for a condusive environment to try and talk to the person that you are staying with and will result in you having to look at them through one eye and apologize profusely for slurring.

"Who care's about Valentine's Day...I'm in town, clear your schedules and come see me."

Sunrise on Sunday came way too early.  I on the other hand didn't make it out of bed until well after noon, which really is my kind of morning.  Kara works until 11p and then goes into work around 2p so she is just peachy with sleeping in.  I had thought I'd have more solid plans for the day, but apparently I paid NO attention to the fact that it was Valentine's Day and some of my male friends would be either coupled up, trying to get some or just hanging out at the fair for the day (PS...I'm still feeling bitter Carlos...just sayin).  So I gathered up some gifts that Olivia had given me to bring to her new baby sister and her little brother and made my way over to my exe's house (affectionately referred to as my first baby daddy...yep, I'm classy like that) and got a chance to chat up his wife and hold their 4 month old little girl.  I'd say that there was a tug at my uterus but since I don't have one of those anymore I'd just say I got a touch of baby fever.
I don't think the little one liked me too much cause as soon as she realized it was me and NOT her mother holding her, the little lip pouted out and I made sure to get her back into her momma's arms before the crying started.  I hate making a baby cry.  I don't mind making my tween or teenager cry though and sometimes make it into a game!

I visited for just a few minutes and then made my way out after apologizing for not bringing Olivia with me.  It's always a hard balance to make sure that even with the distance that we (meaning her dad, myself, his wife and Jon) keep a good schedule of Olivia spending time with her dad and his family.  She's been doing the out of state swap since she was 7yrs old, so I'd like to think we are pro's at it.  Plus, I'm beginning to think the people at Southwest know us and her by name.  

The rest of the day was spent piddling around my hometown and making a drive past houses I lived in, jobs I worked at and schools I went to.  It was my "drive down MANY memory lanes".  It's tradition for me to do that.  I decided to grab a bite to eat at Chili's by myself to pass the time until Kara got home and was approached by a guy at the bar.  He and I swear with my hand to God said these words to me, "did you ever find it funny that Valentine's Day shortened to it's initials is VD?'s like one of those gifts that just keeps on giving, if ya know what I mean"....I sat speechless.  And then he proceeded to say, "but I'm totally can I get your number?"...ummmm, the fact that I didn't smack him and managed to not spit my drink on him was a wicked bonus for him.  I just stared at the bar tender who looked as mistified as I did and said, "as alluring as that all sounds...I'm gonna pass, but thank ya".

Who knew that eating at the bar, alone, on Valentine's Day could produce such douchebaggery results.  God bless my friends that answered the MANY texts and the promise of a night spent hanging out with Kara after she got through with work....

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