Category Archives: Home=Florida

My time at home between New Zealand and the US road trip.

piebald.

[pahy-bawld]
adjective
1. having patches of black and white or of other colors; parti-colored.
noun
2. a piebald animal, especially a horse.
It’s amazing how being around people you’re not usually around can expand your horizons. Recently, I looked out at the horizon with visitors from Oregon. We went on a walk in the woods (it’s hard to call it a “hike” in Florida), and they were ooh-ing and ahh-ing and pointing out birds that I grew up seeing. Embarrassingly enough, when they asked, “What kind of bird is that?” I just replied with, “Hmm, great question. I should know.”
It was the ibis. They’re white birds with orange beaks and a patch of black feathers under their wings. They frequent the neighborhood my parents live in. But when put on the spot, I had no idea what they were called.
The dear Oregonians noticed every osprey nest that I walked past as I was swatting at mosquitoes. This piebald bird is one of my dad’s favorites, so I was used to this one. But the last time I stopped to look closely at an osprey was at the little league fields about twenty years ago. What a shame.
Our visitors left a couple days later and on my drive to work the next morning, I noticed nest after nest of ospreys eating their fish, living up to their other name: the fish hawk. I noticed ibis galore on the shore. I was amazed. The coolest part is that the piebald ospreys and their friends have been there this whole time, I just needed the new perspective to care enough to take it all in. That’s why being on the road and meeting new people results in new wonders daily. It’s so energizing and refreshing. A breath of fresh air, really.
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unreality.

[uhn-ree-al-i-tee]
noun, plural unrealities.
1. lack of reality; quality of being unreal.
2. something that is unreal, invalid, imaginary, or illusory.
3. incompetence or impracticality, especially in everyday matters.
Ever since my note was delivered to the barista to give to Derek Jeter, I’ve wondered if he’s received it. I got to stop wondering yesterday. The door bell to Tampa Bay Outfitters dinged. I looked up and saw him standing in the door way, all 6’3″ of him. He smiled as he put his aviator glasses on his head. I smiled and muttered a “hello.”
He walked around the Patagonia table. Then he came closer to me and said, “Are you Beth?” I nodded, unable to find words. “So you want to play catch I hear?” I shrugged my shoulders and smiled even bigger. Then I said way too quickly, “Sure thing, Derek.”
He pulled out his glove that was stuck in the back of his camouflaged shorts and said with a wink, “Let’s go.”
I had a sundress on but I sauntered after him, grabbed my glove from my SUV, and we threw the ball in the parking lot for about twenty minutes.
“You should’ve been the first girl to ever play Major League Baseball,” he said.
I laughed and said, “That was always my dream! But this experience is just as good.” Then he gave me a hug, thanked me for the Starbucks gift card, kissed me on the head, and told me he couldn’t wait to see me again.
Oh, this is an unreality.
Reality:
The barista said he read the note, laughed, said he didn’t remember the snowman cookie, and threw the note away.

extemporize.

[ik-stem-puh-rahyz]

verb (used without object), extemporized, extemporizing.
1. to speak extemporaneously.
2. to sing, or play on an instrument, composing the music as one proceeds; improvise.
3. to do or manage something in a makeshift way.
verb (used with object), extemporized, extemporizing.
4. to make or devise extempore.
5. Music. to compose offhand; improvise.

Derek Jeter has been at the Starbucks next to where I work three days in the past week. When my coworker let me know the first time, I sauntered over. My only plan was to see if my note had been delivered. I guess I thought maybe it’d be sitting on his table. It wasn’t. So as I walked by, I realized I couldn’t extemporize because that’s too dangerous. Who knows what would come out of my mouth! So I walked in Starbucks, circled the line of thirsty people, and walked back by Jeter without coffee in hand. He smiled. I smiled.

The next day, he was back. I was in need of coffee, so I walked over, ordered, and then grabbed a sugar packet. My plan was not to extemporize, but to set the sugar down and say, “You left your name tag on the counter in there.”

As I walked by his table, my plan seemed utterly ridiculous. Not sweet, but creepy. I didn’t even look his way.

After the note and gift card I gave to the barista to deliver to him a couple weeks ago, I now have to wait and “play it cool”, something I have yet to accomplish in my 29 years.

sudser.

[suhd-zer]

noun, Informal.

  1. a soap opera.
  2. any movie, play, or the like that is designed to provoke a tearful response.

This is not a sudser,it is a reason for my absence. I cannot look at a computer for more than twenty minutes without a stupid amount of eye pain for the rest of the day. I also have an appealing formation on my eye, and have for a while, so I finally decided I’d give $140 to an ophthalmologist. It took him .2 of a second to say, “You have chronic pingueculitis due to an overload of UV lighting. Have you been in a tropical place? Are you outside a lot?”

I told him about New Zealand and the hole in the ozone layer and working on farms and vineyards. He nodded along as he wrote a prescription for anti-inflammatory eye drops. The formation will not go away, it will just make me “less cosmetically appealing” (web research).

You are worth the pain to me, readers, to strain my eyes to tell you that I’ll be back one day. So hold off on your tearful response. Wear sunglasses always.

On a more exciting note, my twin brother and his wife had a baby boy last week and he’s perfect. It does not hurt my eyes to stare at him for hours on end!

quidnunc.

[kwid-nuhngk]

noun

  1. a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

Did you guys hear the news about the quidnunc? Yeah, me neither. I try to not be one. I know at times though, I soak it up like a brand new sponge that’s been waiting for a purpose. Usually when I’m sitting at a coffee house alone, I can’t help but listen to the folks next to me. This instant, for instance, two gals are having a heated discussion. So-and-so dated and really liked so-and-so-jerk who dumped her because he liked “really petite girls only.” This made me feel guilty for being so petite and sitting so close to this nearly 6′ tall girl, as if rubbing in my under-five-feet stature. She then started talking about short folks as if they were the worst possible kind of people.

“I do NOT like her. I do not like her or the other one. Who’s the other one? There’s two of them. One with glasses and one…there are two of them I do not like.”

If I were a character in a movie, I’d write down my phone number and set it on their table before leaving and say, “Please give this to the fella you’ve been talking about.”

schism.

[sizuh m, skiz-]

noun

  1. division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.
  2. the parties so formed.
  3. Ecclesiastical.

Isn’t it funny to see someone nonchalantly feed the seagulls? As a Florida kid, I heard “Do not feed the seagulls! You must never feed the seagulls!” over and over growing up. Seagulls will not leave you alone. They beg and get aggressive and really squelch a relaxing time at the beach with their squawking and hovering. My friend, Joe, was recently hit in the face by a seagull going for his chip. He had not even fed one initially. They’re maniacal.

To see somebody throw a seagull a cheeto makes my body tense up a bit. It just seems so surprising. Or course I cannot be angry or hateful to those who feed them and create chaos because they might not have grown up hearing this. Their weekend regiment might not have included ignoring the seagulls, doing the stingray shuffle, and playing beach volleyball. They grew up differently and I imagine I would do something up north that would blow the locals’ minds. I hope they forgive me.

There seems to be a sermon in there if you tilt your head and squint a bit. We mustn’t let the seagulls create schisms.

rubberneck.

[ruhb-er-nek] Informal.

verb

1. to look about or stare with great curiosity, as by craning the neck or turning the head.

noun, Also, rubbernecker:

2. a sightseer; tourist.

3. an extremely curious person.

I am not a Yankee fan, but I am a Derek Jeter fan. He’s a handsome son of a gun with a good heart (I guess I don’t know that really, but who will disagree?) When he retired, the tribute commercials made me cry along with the rest of America.

He frequents the Starbucks I work near. About a year ago, my coworker said, “He’s always there.” I put my hands on my hips and said, “I’m always there. I haven’t seen him…” I became a bit of an anticipatory rubbernecker. Instead of telling my coworkers, “I’m going to get a coffee,” I said, “I’m going to see Jeter.”

My walk to Starbucks is always exciting because I’m closer to getting caffeine, and my heart beats faster as I think, “Will I see Jeter today?” Jeter and a side of Americano. Doesn’t it sound delicious??

It took six months working in Tampa next to his favorite Starbucks for our schedules to collide. He wore big aviator glasses and his smile made it hard to look away. So I did not. I ordered my coffee while I was having an internal struggle…I didn’t want to interrupt him because the poor beautiful man could most likely never have a green tea in peace, but I also didn’t want to not say anything, because I had been waiting to see the famous pin-striped #2 for a while.

The barista broke my daze when he asked, “Would you like any food today?”

I looked at the pastry case and saw a large snowman sugar cookie. I said, “Sure, I’ll take a snowman cookie please.”

I walked outside and up to his table where he sat with three other people. I nervously set the snowman cookie in front of him as I quickly said, “This is for you guys to share.”

starbucks-snowman-cookie-02

He smiled and laughed and said, “Thanks. That’s really nice of you. I appreciate it.” I would’ve responded, but I was walking away rapidly, my footsteps matching my racing heartbeat.

Then folks gave me a hard time. “You don’t think Jeter can afford his own cookie?” or “You didn’t get a photo?!” So I decided the next time I saw him, I’d say, “I’m the girl who got you the snowman cookie. My friends don’t believe me, so can we please get a photo together?”

The problem was, when I saw him a couple days ago, it was about seven months later; the snowman cookie story has melted and gone stale. So I didn’t have a plan. I froze. I sat at a table a few tables away. Then I realized I wasn’t close enough, so I non-nonchalantly moved to the table next to him. He was smiling and talking with his friend. I snuck a photo. I pretended to read. I rubbernecked a ridiculous amount.

11215069_702324949067_8010076811163884720_n

I then stood up because I was on the clock at work, like a real slacker. His friend looked over at me and smiled, so I smiled back and said, “Hi.” Then I looked at Derek Jeter and saluted with my left hand, because I was holding my coffee in my right. I said, “’Ello, Captain.” He smiled, nodded, and said, “Hey.”

Next time, after the rubbernecking, I plan on buying him another cookie and saying, “Trade you this cookie for a photo?” I’m sure I’ll change my mind by the next Jeter sighting…