Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

In Which I Return to Reality January 3, 2011

Happy 2011, everyone!

Tis I, your favorite unemployed writer/photographer/adventurer extraordinaire returned from the jungles of our nation’s capital and beyond. After three weeks of fairly solid R&R (my definition of which is admittedly a bit wonky and includes exploring the frigid streets of New York and Washington, learning to run hills because northern Virginia’s Escheresque laws of physics cause streets to only run on a steep, perpetual incline, and holiday activities such as taking our car to the mechanic twice and baking 657 cookies that I couldn’t eat  due to my Christmas-crushing wheat allergy….), I’m returning to reality with superhuman motivation.

Par example: In three weeks’ time, the cats had transformed our cozy little apartment into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION. It was like a feline Lord of the Flies – reduced to their primal instincts in order to survive (never mind we have automatic feeders and a friend was checking on them every other day…), they’d removed two-thirds of the Christmas ornaments from our tree and hid them strategically (or not) around the house, dragged the faux moss from one of our houseplants into their litter box and somehow managed to track litter into *every* corner of the house.

But, with the precision of two seasoned cat owners, Jeff and I tackled the wreckage in a matter of a couple of hours (eat your heart out, FEMA). Then it was on to more important matters – namely, that I am still jobless. And yet, somehow I’ve managed to rack up a To Do list longer than Bernie Sanders’ filibuster. The common thread among the items on this list? The shared goal of putting my talents (besides my ability to balances sixteen water glasses on a single tray) to work. Granted, I can see that if I don’t act fast to get myself some kind of temporary back-up, I’ll be running into an old friend I like to call Financial Ruin. But even if I’m stocking quilted duvets at Bed Bath & Beyond or (god forbid) waiting a table or two again, at least I’ve got The Machine whirring away in the background. The gears have been greased. My list of Things and Stuff is rolling. I feel like I’ve been playing the role of starving artist ever since college and that maybe all I really need to do is push it just a notch harder, work just a little smarter, shrug this idea off my shoulders that creativity is for the privileged few, and make. it. work.

I may be getting a little redundant with this line of thinking, but if it’s a pep talk I need, then that’s what you all get as well 🙂

Now – off to finish designing my business cards (finally finished my Photoshop tutorials *AND* got PS5 for Christmas!!) Oh – and today’s photo features Skipper, my canine companion in D.C., looking rather fearless, which I found apropos of today’s post. Also, he rocks a fauxhawk like nobody’s business and that alone makes it worth a look.

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The Everything Update June 8, 2009

DSCN3238cAs questions abound as to my whereabouts, activities and general existence, and as my head’s still too deeply buried under the pile of everything-that’s-happened-in-the-past-week, I thought I’d take this rare quiet moment to let everyone know that A) J and I have made it safely to Davidson, B) we’ve spent the majority of our time here preparing his former childhood home for sale, dividing its contents in order to get them to a number of different final destinations, and C) I do generally still exist.

Not only do I exist, but my existence has so greatly improved in the last week that it pains me a little that I had to leave so much behind to feel this great. My body prefers the climate, my mind prefers the pace and both prefer the work. Sadly, the work isn’t permanent, and there’s the task of securing some kind of job looming ahead.

Nevertheless, it’s been a much-needed change. The absence of Gabe (who, by the way, we heard from HART, has quickly adapted and is getting to run and likes the company of his fellow canine roomies) sometimes tugs at my heartstrings, but has also left a blanket of calm over my day-to-day. Not sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day makes me endlessly happy – even if it means finding myself in the back of a garage closet,  forearms draped with cobwebs, trying to convince a house mouse that he should probably find better digs than inside the camping equipment I’m trying to remove. And then there’s the big change of scene – I went from living across the street from a funeral home to having a family of deer dining at the treeline in my back yard.

In a couple of months we’ll be in Wilmington, and our lives will inevitably change again, but for now I dig the quiet life. And anyway, before the next move there’s the trip to London, J’s family beach vacation and my cousin’s wedding in Atlanta (right, so it’s possible my idea of the “quiet life” is a little warped).

We did get to take a day trip down to check out Wilmington (J had never been and chose UNCW for grad school site unseen). Evil twin drove down from Raleigh to join us, as she had once lived there and we hoped she could serve as tour guide. (She is, by the way, doing quite well, despite rooming in a house with a reckless, young, drama-prone lesbian couple). Turns out she only actually lived in Wilmington for 6 months and couldn’t even remember where her house had been, so she made a horrible tour guide, but great company. The three of us terrorized the historic downtown area for a while (offended an entire rooftop bar crowd, contemplated crashing not one, but two wedding receptions and discovered a piece of purple lingerie strewn across a historical statue that I swear we didn’t put there but were inclined to photograph nonetheless) and waded in the surf (read: got our clothes soaked because we weren’t paying attention to the size of the waves) and ate sundaes at Wrightsville beach that were called something unfortunate like Peanut Logs.

So let it be known that I have no complaints about my current existence and will be sure to write something more substantial and topical when things settle.

Which may be around Christmas time.

~a

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Severed Heads and CVS May 5, 2009

Filed under: life,thoughts,travel — curiouserx2 @ 8:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Though the big move may be three and a half weeks out, my head is already kicked back on a beach chair with a big floppy hat pulled down over its eyes, and burrowing its toes into sun-warmed sand.

Sadly, and conflictingly, my body’s still tasked with TPS reports until June. But as my head seems to think we’re already beach bumming it, I haven’t been able to quell the urge to lighten my hair, purge the stormy-palette of Victorian-inspired garments from my closet and replace them with breezy brights and whites and ditch my heals for sandals. (Once unbridled, good luck getting your toes back into the bitter confines of vintage, 4-inch pumps).

Camera 1, Camera 2

Camera 1, Camera 2

Anyway, I’ve been sidetracked with the Other Blog (I’m considering kicking that one to the curb for lack of personality; how could I ever have strayed??) and the musical, so my apologies for the silence around here. I’ve also been getting the move to Wilmington organized, and in the midst of all of this: a bit of a surprise trip to London has landed in my lap. J’s sister is graduating in June, and while I knew J would be attending, I hadn’t expected to join him.

So – off I went today to get the dreaded task of passport photos out of the way during my lunch break. Possibly I should have realized this would be an ill-fated experience when the digital processing program rejected my first two attempts. The girl helping me apologized profusely. “It NEVER does this,” she assured me. That’s precisely when I should’ve turned and run, saved the chore for another day, when my hair would be less frizzy, my skin not so ravaged by stage makeup,  my visage not so lackluster as to be shot down by a COMPUTER. But no – we persevered, and round 3 proved acceptable to the computer. Five minutes later, that sucker coughed up a slip of 6 identical head-and-shoulders shots of yours truly.

Or so it would like you to believe.

Have you seen these kiosks? Big, hulking, dishwasher-sized units with a little computer touch screen perched on top? What exactly is going on in there? Just what is encased in that sputtering, clicking shell? My theory: some geek with Photoshop skillz and a cruel sense of humor. He gets your image file, de-saturates you to remove any signs of life, sharpens every fine line on your face thus aging you a good decade or two, texturizes your skin in some choice spots and scrawls in a few ruddy blemishes for good measure. Then pushes the “PRINT” button and awaits the carnage (seriously, because why else would it take 5 minutes for that thing to produce your printed pics?)

A replication of my passport photo (details may not be exact...)

A replication of my passport photo (details may not be exact...)

I spent the car ride home peaking up at the rearview mirror, trying to convince myself that, no, I do not in reality look like that, and, no, I was not allowed to pull into the next CVS and have the photos retaken. What’s done is done, and the important part is, these puppies are going to get me overseas for the first time in more than a decade. Take THAT photogeek!

Cheers!

~a

 

The Great Escape (Concluded…) April 9, 2009

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Let’s wrap this sucker up, shall we?

Having crashed at last around 5 in the morning, we slept a large portion of Sunday morning away. Realizing upon our awakening that a Miami day was melting away before our eyes, we sprang into action to hit up the beach. R stayed home to relax and get some work done, but J and I were soon suited up and out the door.

Zee boardwalk... Home to walkers, joggers and guys trying to sell you crickets made of banana leaves. (Hey, takes all kinds, right?)

Zee boardwalk... Home to walkers, joggers and guys trying to sell you crickets made of banana leaves. (Takes all kinds, no?)

Hell bent on finding perfection this time around, we hailed a cab and took it down to 40-something St. where we’d found that great public beach access and the start of the boardwalk. Following along the boardwalk, we had our pick of hotel-kept beaches. Coming to a slightly less crowded stretch, we hobbled over to a little beach shack where they were renting chairs, umbrellas and cabanas. A chalkboard sign listed the cost of rent for each: All day rental- Chairs – $15 for two, Umbrellas – $15, Cabanas – $20, Beds – $50.

Beds?

I looked over, and, indeed, there were two full-sized platform beds with big, blue cushions. Seriously? Does anyone think this is a good idea? Do you KNOW what those cushions must be like? The amount of microbe colonies – no, CIVILIZATIONS that probably thrive within?

“We’ll take a cabana, please,” I told the shirtless guy at the counter.

“That’s it? How ’bout a couple of chairs?” he pushed, jovially enough.

“I don’t need chairs,” I turned him down, equally friendly.

“How ’bout chairs and cabana for $25?” he said.

I looked again at the sign. Hmph. It was a good deal.

I started to pass my credit card over the table. “$20 if you give me cash,” he offered. Shady? Yes. But it meant free beach chairs, and we were able to scrounge up the $20 in cash, and before we knew it, another employee was carrying our chairs over to a great spot on the beach and dragging the cabana over to shade them. I was pleased with the deal.

The water here was much clearer, and a shallow sandbar created warmer, calmer waters to swim in. A middle-aged hippy-type had approached us earlier on the boardwalk and, among other things, told us that we had great karma and that we could restore our chakras by dipping ourselves under the water together 11 times (she also said this would improve our love life, which is when things got a little strange). But we figured it couldn’t hurt, so, warmed by an unhindered sun, we ventured out into the crystal blue waters. The waves rose steadily to our middles, then soon we found the elevation rising and we were only knee-high in water. Sandbar found. We knelt down in the water, waited for a wave to pass, grabbed on to each other and dunked ourselves sloppily 11 times, laughing and snorting water the entire time.

I don’t know about my chakras, but our spirits at least were sky high when we eventually emerged on the beach again.

When the sun finally began its descent, we decided to seek out a happy hour at one of the bars along the boardwalk. The sound of reggae led us to what turned out to be a Carrabba’s (I still don’t believe this was actually a part of the national chain of Italian restaurants – it was an outdoor patio/tiki bar with live Jamaican music). (See my review on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/carrabbas-italian-grill-miami-beach) Two sangria’s a piece later, we teetered out and began to walk home. Emboldened by the alcohol and revitalized by the bar food (more later on the restorative powers of homemade kettle chips smothered in blue cheese…) we decided to walk the beach the entire way home.

Three words: Happy. Hour. Sangria. (Two more: Double. Fisting.)

Three words: Happy. Hour. Sangria. (Two more: Double. Fisting.)

One helluva walk later, we arrived back at R’s building as the sun began to set. It was time to hit up the showers and prepare for dinner. We’d been craving sushi since we arrived (recall the utter disappointment of Iron Sushi, which was supposed to sate us until we could get the real deal) and now had our sites set on Sushi Samba, one of the trendy see-and-be-seen spots on Lincoln Road.

In hindsight, I’m not really sure how J and I were still standing at this point, much less walking, talking and ready to hit the town. My guess is some kind of vacation hormone which acts much like adrenaline, but with less fight-or-flight and more photography. We didn’t arrive on the Lincoln Rd. strip until 10:00 or so, but the patios were packed with diners still and the wait for a table at Samba had us headed inside to fend for ourselves at the bar for a good forty minutes. (Btw, that girl made THEE best mojitos we had the entire week – and the most expensive, go figure…)

Sushi Samba: Killer mojitos, Nazi Hostesses

Sushi Samba: Killer sushi, Nazi Hostesses

Turns out the wait was well worth it. After a few appetizers, our badass little server, (Rebecca? Rachel? Shite, I thought I’d remember) delivered a huge plate of some of the best and most innovative sushi I’ve ever tasted. Finally, the sushi monster that dwells perpetually in my stomach was quelled (although, it’s been so long now that I swear I’ve heard it grumbling again…).  As we were polishing off the last of the rolls, just when we thought life couldn’t get any better…. it. did.

Aforementioned Killer Sushi (Currently causing me to drool on my office desk...)

Aforementioned Killer Sushi (Currently causing me to drool on my office desk...)

Because THAT’S when Amazing Adam sauntered over to our table. At first, we all thought this was some lowlife with a deck of cards who was going to harass us until we paid him off to do some trick and leave us alone. Oh, no no no no no… Amazing Adam is no hack, my friends. In less than a minute, he’d intrigued me into fishing $10 out of my purse to see his full routine, and it was worth EVERY PENNY. I was floored by the way he could move the cards, even before he started in with the tricks. He performed right next to our table, all three of us watching him from different angles, and none of us caught a single flaw the entire time. It was like watching a magician back when you were a kid and still believed in such things.

Still in an Amazing Adam haze, we paid our bill and strolled down Lincoln to finish the night at Segafredo, which was now in its nighttime mode, all house music and hipsters. The perfect ending to what was my favorite day of the entire trip.

Not that the last day wasn’t memorable, mind you. Monday we ventured inland to Coconut Grove. Which I loved. Suffice it to say if I ever moved to the Miami area, this is where I would live (you know, if we throw all practicality to the wind). Here I finally got my first taste of the legendary cafe con leche (strong coffee pulled with sugar and mixed with just a bit of milk, topped with froth) which was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Who knew the latte could be that infinitely improved upon? The Grove is also home to three (count ’em) French bistros, but I can say confidently that we chose the best of them when we stopped into Le Bouchon du Grove (again with the Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/le-bouchon-du-grove-miami).

R and his crock o' mussels @ Le Bouchon du Grove

R and his crock o' mussels @ Le Bouchon du Grove

Our plan after that was to pay the $1.50 toll and drive out to Key Biscayne, however (long story short) we took a wrong turn out of the Rest Stop of Confusion and found ourselves headed back out of the tollway with no escape (read: no u-turns anywhere, WTF?). So it was back to South Beach for one more sunset by the pool and then dinner by R (Surf n’ Turf a la George Forman, and quite tasty).

And that, mes amis, was that. Not much time the next day for anything but gathering our belongings (now scattered about R’s apartment) and getting to the airport. (However, there was time for one last hurrah in D.C. We had a three hour layover in which we took a train a couple stops out, met some of J’s freinds for lunch and St.Patty’s Day drinks, and got back just in time to run through the terminal and catch our flight home… becuase, you know, we didn’t really get enough excitment in Florida.)

So, what now? Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the little bit of info we got upon our return that will change our lives very shortly.

~a

R's cat Charlie - Lucky he was such a grump or he would've ended up in my suitcase.

R's cat Charlie - We sorta had this love/hate thing going by day 6. (Before that it was mostly a hate/hate thing)

 

The Great Escape Part III (Or, Miami Vice) April 7, 2009

Where were we?

Ah yes, after a good night’s sleep, J woke up and phoned the movie theater, and, to our shock and amazement, they had his wallet in their possession (minus the $7 in cash he’s had left, but whatever). Since we were already in Aventura, we stopped at the local Archie’s Pizza for lunch with R’s girlfriend, who lives in the area. Archie’s served up a mean mojito, and its patio furniture included cushy armchairs and square beds, BEDS!, along with the more traditional stuff, so no complaints here.

When we dropped R’s girlfriend at her apartment, R insisted we take a quick stroll along the channel that runs behind her building, home of the mother of all yachts, The Adriana III (to be honest, the daughter of all yachts, because the Adriana II is even more immense). Apparently the couple that owns the Adrianas lives in the islands and pays a staff to live in the apartments and maintain the docked yacht. Miami excess makes your stomach turn at first, but strangely (or sadly) you start to get used to it after a few days.

"Never thought I'd be on a boat..." -T. Payne

"Never thought I'd be on a boat..." -T. Payne

We arrived back in North Beach in the late afternoon, changed into swimsuits, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed down to the pool deck to relax as the sun set. The view was stunning: colorful sunset, crew teams at practice gliding past, the great Tikki Beach (a Polynesian-style party barge) meandering through the bay. A couple of hours here was enough to recharge our batteries, and a good thing; that night we’d be experiencing South Beach nightlife…. for 6 hours straight.

I don't know why everyone thinks this place is soooo great.....

I don't know why everyone thinks this place is soooo great.....

We tried all week to discover the Tikki's secret launch area... to no avail. my personal theory is it appears out of thin air once a year Brigadoon-style.

We tried all week to discover the Tikki's secret launch area... to no avail. My personal theory is it appears out of thin air once a year, Brigadoon-style.

After getting all dolled up (right, so the guys didn’t so much doll up as they did pimp out), we were ready to hit the town. R recently retired from the nightclub scene to launch a new brand of flavor-free vitamin water called Basix (which saved our lives, btw, this entire week). Before his departure, though, he’d been the manager of several clubs, including the famed Mansion, for a number of years. For this reason, we’d be getting a much more extensive (and much LESS expensive) experience.

Dolled Up/Pimped Out

Dolled Up/Pimped Out

Our night included visits to 5 clubs: Love/Hate (a tattoo-inspired dive), La Fois (the latest addition to the strip, and probably my favorite, it should be noted that no one remembers the correct spelling of the club’s name), Hedkandie (a modern Euro club featuring house music), Mansion (a monolithic dance club,  possibly the longest-standing in South Beach) and finally SET (a slick, mid-sized dance club where we spent most of our time trying to sneak onto the go-go elevators).

Light-bulb-headed ceiling birds (I beleive tha'ts the technical term) @ La Fois

Light-bulb-headed ceiling birds (I believe that's the technical term) @ La Fois

Mansion - a brimful Spring Break bachanal. It was here that some guy body slammed me on his way into the bathroom and I threw my nearly full drink on him. I'm going to blame the Basix for this... um... zeal. ;)

Mansion - a brimful Spring Break bacchanal. It was here that some guy body slammed me on his way into the bathroom, and I threw my nearly full drink on him. I'm going to blame the Basix for this... um... zeal. 😉

The average Miami clubber would pay a $10-$30 cover just to ENTER these clubs. Drinks on top of that are pricey, and parking is $10 on average. There’s no way we could’ve afforded this kind of club-hopping if we hadn’t been under R’s wing for the evening. There was no waiting in lines, no covers, no paying for drinks. It was a crazy night of V.I.P sight-seeing (and occasionally even dancing) and by the time we returned home, my head was a little spinny, I couldn’t feel my feet (stupid hot shoes) and the clock read 5:00 a.m. I don’t even recall falling asleep…

Just waking up the next afternoon.

(To be continued…)

 

The Great Escape (Part II) March 26, 2009

Filed under: humor,life,thoughts,travel — curiouserx2 @ 6:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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But first…

A Brief Anthropological Study of Miami’s Natives:

While I’m sure there some who hold your standard 9-5 office gigs, a vast portion of the Miami population appears to either A) Not work at all, B) Work in a club so they spend the day sleeping and/or taking long lunches and/or hanging out on the beach, or C) Do”work” that allows them to “work” while sleeping and/or taking long lunches and/or hanging out on the beach.

Even “9-5” translates differently here, to something like, “10-ish to 6-ish, with a few hours of lunch for good measure.”  And by GOD do I think they’re on to something. It made coming back to work that much sadder….

But back to our story…. J’s brother had a Miami day of work to do on Friday, so J and I were left to our own devices – not a problem when there’s a beach a block away and your surrounded by a yet-unexplored city. So we lathered up with SPF 327 (I did, anyway – J ended up with some bizarre burn streakage which we’ll go ahead and blame on the spray sunscreen he was using. The only reason I was spared this fate was the spray stuff smelled straight up like man, so I stuck with my hardcore girly lotion instead) and headed out into the morning sun to check out the beach first. We’d been viewing it from afar off the balcony, and it was high time we got our feet wet (literally).

This first beach was a little narrow and crowded for comfort, spotted with Portuguese Man o’ Wars, and the water, while refreshing, was littered with seaweed. Still, we relaxed there for an hour or so before leaving to seek sustenance and adventure. We were, however, determined to discover the perfect stretch of beach at some point. After the most horrible sushi ever (Iron Sushi, people – fast food sushi with R&B blasting out onto the sidewalk? Never a good idea. NEVER.), we cut our losses and decided, lack of car be damned, we were going to walk to South Beach.

(J’s Bro, that morning: “You can’t WALK to South Beach!!”)

(Oh Yeah?)

Ahem.... South Beach.

Ahem.... South Beach.

Turns out, you CAN walk the 45 blocks to South Beach, but it’s best to do so on the beach. We made the mistake of starting out along Collins Avenue and were almost killed (multiple times) by really nice cars. The beach walk, however, was spectacular – around 47th, a boardwalk begins that takes you along the backside of hotels and condos and the occasional restaurant. Even so, when we finally reached South Beach, we were a little drained. Probably too drained to attempt Ocean Avenue, packed as it was with Spring Breakers in all their scantily clad, mentally impaired glory.

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Once again, however, we were undeterred. When we finally pushed through the foray (the hostesses at restaurants here actually approach YOU and try to sell you on their menu, in some cases displaying trays of food outside the front door. How many ways can we say tacky?), we came out at the 1st – the end of the line. Rounding the corner to get back on Collins, J and I found ourselves in a part of town still largely under construction. Compared to Ocean Avenue, we’d landed in a ghost town of empty condos and storefronts. We stopped under a tree for a moment, soaking in the salty air and sudden silence.

J looked into my eyes…

Pulled me in for a kiss…

And as our lips touched…

BLAM!!!

An SUV whipped around the corner and someone nailed us with a Super Soaker.

I took the hit right in the back of the head, and J got nailed in the face.There was a moment of “What the hell just happened” confusion before we both busted out laughing. I supposed we’d asked for it. Caught red handed by the PDA Police.

Completely worn down, we stopped at a little French bistro called Cafe des Artes. Nothing special, but the food was great and much needed. Our spot on the patio looking out onto Collins was perfect for people watching (and what a show the Spring Break crowd puts on). This is where the infamous motorbike gang pulled in to the gas station across the street and not one, but TWO riders didn’t so much crash as tip over, slo-mo style. While motorbikes seem to be one of the more popular rental vehicles on South Beach, the Go Cars (little electric vehicles that share the road with regular cars) were ubiquitous as well. My favorite: the mini Escalade, complete with bumpin’ stereo.

French cuisine meets Art Deco.... Yeah, don't ask.

French cuisine meets Art Deco.... Yeah, don't ask.

Feeling somewhat restored after dinner, we decided to hoof it at least part of the way home to save cab fare. When we arrived back at the apartment, J’s brother was incredulous that we’d walked. Anywhere. At all. Apparently he underestimates the power of five months of incapacitating Ohio winter. We didn’t care where we were going, as long as we were outside and stretching the limbs.

The path that saved our feet, skin and possibly lives. (Although I feel it's my duty to not that while there were no aggressive drivers here, you did have to fend off hords of feral cats, always in danger of being... um.... licked to death??)

The path that saved our feet, skin and possibly lives. (Although I feel it's my duty to not that while there were no aggressive drivers here, you did have to fend off hords of feral cats, always in danger of being... um.... licked to death??)

That said, we were exhausted. Therefore, the perfect end to the evening was to hit up Aventura’s IMAX theater to see Watchmen on the big big screen. To all the naysayers: I read the graphic novel, and I thought the movie was impeccably handled. Not an easy task.

Back at the apartment, my eyelids were busting it just to stay afloat. As I was crawling into the fold-out, J noticed his wallet was missing. He’d left it in the theater. Worried? Yes. Though probably not enough. Not enough to stay conscious, anyhow. We left a message at the now closed theater; anything else would have to wait until morning.

(To be continued….)

 

The Great Escape (Part I)

2664_522964882306_28501299_31559617_3455071_nTwo days back home and already I’m itching to get back to the land of sun, sand and Spring Breakers renting motor bikes they’re completely incapable of driving (true story, but whether it had to do with alcohol consumption or plain idiocy is for you to decided). That’s right, Miami Beach sunk its sunny little talons into me and won’t let go, even now, as I sit, back in my office in downtown Columbus, Ohio, trying to get it through my head that just because the sun’s out here, it doesn’t mean I don’t need three layers and a parka, scarf and mittens when I walk out the door. Ah… home, sweet home.

Fortunately, in just 6 days I was able to tuck away enough Floridian memories to keep me warm for the next month or so when our city will (god willing) finally thaw out. Without further ado, my friends, I give you….

The Great Escape : Miami, Florida (Part 1)

Bleary-eyed, we set out into the dark, chilly morning. Temperatures in Ohio had dropped overnight into the 30’s again, so we rode in winter coats and flip-flops to the airport with J’s roommate, a true gentleman and badass for getting up so early, at the wheel. No problems at the airport, a breeze getting on the plane, everything on time. The problems arose (and let’s face it, I knew they would), when the jet revved its engines for takeoff. It had been a few years since I’d flown, and not because I never get the opportunity, but because I refuse, I REFUSE, to fly if I don’t have to. Airplanes instill in me a claustrophobic, terrifying sense of impending doom. Every time we take off or land, I fully expect that we will crash and my brief flame of a life will extinguish before I can say, “WTF?” Every time, you’ll find white, knuckled, teeth clenched, eyes misting up in resigned anticipation. But – to my surprise and great relief, we landed effortlessly every time. (Seriously? No ice on the wings? No loss of cabin pressure mid-flight? Not even a GD bird sucked into the engine!?!?! Come on… YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK STUPID!!)

😉

Moving along, J’s brother (who shall be referred to as R furthermore), picked us up and drove us into Miami Beach, to his apartment (our accommodations for the duration). Serendipitously, J’s father, who lives in London right now, was in town on business and was going to be able to meet us up for a long lunch before catching his red-eye back to England. He and R had chosen the relatively new Smith & Wollensky (my review on Yelp), situated at the most southern point of Miami Beach. A bit on the hoity side, the maitre d’ raised an eyebrow when we said we had a reservation and that we’d like to sit outside. “We don’t take reservations for the patio, and it is currently full,” was his explanation. Hmph. With little choice, we accepted the indoor table for the time being, waiting for J’s dad to arrive to decide whether to stay or jet for another, more al fresco friendly location.

EPIC Fail... encounterd on our way into S&W

EPIC Fail... encounterd on our way into S&W

It wasn’t a long wait, and when J’s dad arrived (I would call him R Squared, but that takes too much space, so we’ll stick with J’s Dad), he simply said, “Let me see what I can do.” I should clarify that while he holds a good position in finance, J’s dad is not the noisy, weight-throwing type of businessman. He’s relatively soft-spoken, but highly effective. Apparently. Because the next thing we know, he’s coming back around the corner, waving us over to follow him, and the maitre d’, out to the patio. Score 1 for us.

We still had to wait one drink’s time at the outdoor bar (no sacrifice there, I was just happy to be free of the A/C). Turns out it was “Wine Week” at S&W. Apparently this simply involves various wine reps continuously trying to pour you a new taste of wine until either your table is so littered with glasses that you’re forced to abandon ship, or you’re so sloshed you can’t climb the stairs to leave and your drunken logic tells you your next best option is obviously to chuck your clothes, dive into the harbor and swim home. Which ever comes first. That’s 2 for 2.

At any rate, this meant people were lounging even longer than Maimians typically lounge, but we were finally granted a table adjacent to the water. And completely open to the afternoon sun. A fantastic breeze kept us cool, but I was the only one with the forethought (read: freakishly obsessive need) to put on sunscreen before leaving the apartment, and we weren’t drunk enough yet to find sunburn hilarious. Instead, we made buddy buddy with our server, Richard, and stared frequently at the ladies at the shady table next to us in an attempt to intimidate them into leaving (Richard came through with the assist, bringing them the check before they’d even asked for it; apparently they’d been there since the restaurant opened at 11 am). And, voila! Finally they tottered off, and we slid on over. Although, I did notice that the manager was FURIOUS. It seemed he had promised an arriving group the next patio table (the shady one) and now they would have to settle for our overly bright reject. Furious managers = priceless (and hilarious). And…. hat trick!

The Reject Table.... if you can believe it.

The Reject Table.... if you can believe it.

After what J’s dad terms a “3L” (Long, Liquid Lunch) by the sea, it was finally time for his car to pick him up for the airport. So we parted ways (he’ll be returning, along with J’s mom and sis, to the states at the end of the summer, so we can get into more trouble soon), and the evening was ours. On our way home, we took a spin through South Beach, making a quick stop at Segafredo on Lincoln Rd. Part coffee shop, part club and mostly patio, this was one of my favorite spots we encountered on the trip. Lounging fountain-side in high-character furniture under large umbrellas, drinking mojitos and my favorite brandof Italian espresso = priceless.

Swanky swank (What you don't know is that I'm on 3 hours of sleep and using the couch to hold me up)

Swanky swank (What you don't know is that I'm on 3 hours of sleep and using the couch to hold me up)

After begrudgingly removing ourselves from our cozy chairs, we decided it best to head home and take it easy after the long day of travel. That, and we were pretty well tanked at the hour most people start drinking, so there was little choice but to call it a night. Put in a movie, crashed hard before it was over. Which was probably for the best, as we still had 5 days of adventure ahead of us.

(To be continued…)

~a