Sunday, 29 June 2014

Life After Vacation... My Foray onto

Hi friends-

I am fresh from a writer's conference and one of the instructors astutely pointed out that when a writer posts a new blog, it should be on a Friday... So I think, instead of the Wednesday/Sunday pattern that I was doing before, I'm going to switch to Thursday/Friday and Sunday/Monday each week. That way, you'll have some entertainment during the week as well as something waiting for you for each weekend.

In this scene, I am back from the much-loved and needed vacation on the beach, complete with a hot date. It's back to normal life for me, and that means it's time to make good on my promise to my friends and start Internet dating.

  For the benefit of my wallet and my sanity, I had a dumb phone for most of the Great Recession. It didn’t receive emails, just texts and phone calls. The phone had no data plan, and I was thankful for that.
  My email inbox, however, became sprinkled with messages and invites from the southeastern United States once my profile went free range.
Buddy from Alabama, whose profile pictures included him in a fishing boat with sweaty armpits, was one of the first who sent me a message. “Hey Jane, do you like country dancing?” he wrote. Hmm, well, I don’t like Alabama, I thought. Moving right along...
  Someone who called himself Lone Wolf sent me some messages as well. 
  Hey Jane, you are a pretty senorita! Do you want to go salsa dancing with me in Winterville?
  The only place to go salsa dancing in Winterville was a dance hall located in a strip mall on the highway that ran through town, with a low-lit parking lot where knife fights took place on a regular basis. No, I didn’t want to go salsa dancing in Winterville.
  His profile picture showed a great-looking Hispanic man with well-toned arms. The back lighting on the biceps told me that it was a professional picture, one that the person behind the Lone Wolf persona probably ripped off an Internet site. Keep howling out into the wilderness, Lone Wolf. Maybe someone will answer, and then get to see what you really look like!
  Next came the parade of Papa Smurf clones. New Town’s university had more than a few older bearded professors who were looking for the companionship of someone young enough to be their daughter. A few were widowers looking to find someone to help raise their kids. I found myself in their crosshairs more than once.
  Most would send “winks” over to me, which I would ignore. However, there was one who sent messages to me, without any provocation or encouragement.
  Email 1: Jane, hi, my name is Stanley. I live and work in New Town and have many of the same interests as you. Please get in touch if you’d like to meet up.
  Email 2: Dear Jane, Since I haven’t heard from you, I don’t think I made a good enough case for myself in my earlier email. I understand I’m out of your age range but hope you will be open-minded and consider dating me. I have a long-standing career in New Town with the university and hope to retire here in the next 5 to 10 years. My living situation is stable, in fact my home is almost paid for, and I think I’d have a lot to offer a younger woman who enjoys having a career, being social, and taking in the natural beauty of this area by hiking, canoeing, etc. My children are grown and don’t live with me anymore, so I have lots of free time to spend with the right woman. Jane, please consider meeting up with me soon. I look forward to hearing from you.
Well. That was a lot to consider. Could I date an old, bearded baby boomer whose kids were already out of the house? Could I go out with a guy who was my parents’ age who wasn’t David Bowie? It seemed unthinkable. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What Happens on the Island, continued yet again...

Dear friends:
Well, you know I must be far from Winterville in the next scene because I am on a DATE! I know, the excitement may kill us all. Anyway, feel free to point out my flaws and flubs on this date while I try to impress a good-looking blond man!

   "I work as a writer in New Town,” I answered, gracefully bypassing mention of Winterville.
   “I’ve heard New Town is a pretty cool place,” he said. “Probably better than Fort Myers.”
   “That’s where you live?” I asked.
   “New Town is great for the under-30 crowd and the retirees,” I said. “I see friends from time to time, and I work with some nice people, but everyone else has spouses and families. I mean, once in a while we’ll go to a concert or something, but most weekends I’m on my own. I don’t have as many friend dates as I used to have when I lived in Tampa Bay.”
   “Friend dates, I like that,” he said. “My friends call it meeting up at the bar.”
   “Yeah, I know. It’s girly. Sorry,” I said, smiling at him.
   “You’re not dating anyone now, I take it?”
   “There’s no one to date. I’ve met some unhappy married guys, and I’m not going there. Other than that, they’re seniors. Seniors in high school or senior citizens. Not much in between.”
   “Maybe it’s a Florida thing,” he said. “I go out and see either college girls or cougars.”
   “Right, but cougar sounds so much more appealing than dirty old man.”
   “Right, but they don’t all look like Anne Bancroft.”
   “Yeah, I bet. I tried dating someone 10 years younger than me, but he freaked out when I told him I used to wear a Swatch. Apparently his parents wore Swatches,” I said, and we laughed.
   After we ordered lunch, the conversation swung around to food.
   “You ordered a salad?” he asked me, after the waitress had left. I could tell from his tone that the busting of chops would begin shortly. “That is so cliché.”
   “Sad story, really. I can’t eat a lot of pub food or drink beer. I’m allergic to wheat,” I answered. “I swear I’m not making that up!”
   “What are you going to do if you get croutons? Will you die?”
   “Shut up. I’ll put them on my napkin and eat the rest of the salad. That is, unless you want them.”
   “When did you find out you couldn’t eat wheat?”
   “Um,” I thought out loud, “I think I was 31. So it’s been about four years, I guess.”
   He looked at me quizzically. “You’re 35?” he asked. “I thought you were about 26.”
   “Aren’t you thoughtful. What about you?”
   “I’m 35 too.”
   “Seriously? Class of 91?”
   What were the chances we’d be the same age?  I thought everyone else from Generation X was married already. Here I was with a guy who grew up with the same music, TV, and pop culture as I knew, who probably even graduated the same year from high school. This was what I wanted to find in a man if I ever was able to date again, but since my options had been so limited for so long, it wasn’t something I thought about that often anymore.
   Then, our food arrived. My salad, which was heaped onto a huge plate, resembled a plant more than an edible thing. I called it a shrubbery. Darren pointed out the window and said, “No, that’s a shrubbery,” while pointing to a bush outside the window behind my chair. I asked him to go chop down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring, and he laughed.
Here is a man who understands Monty Python references, I realized. I thought all the good ones were taken, or else really odd ducks.

Monday, 23 June 2014

What Happens on the Island Stays on the Island, continued...

What gives, Jane? You ask. Why the delays lately?

So much is going on! That's what. I've focused on all that is: my health, relationships, freelance work- along with all that will be: a super exciting job lead and upcoming interview. Cross your fingers and toes for me, friends!

Right now, it's a beautiful day. I have the window opened and I can hear the birds, the traffic, and the occasional outburst or declaration of "GOAL!!!!!" It's time for the World Cup again- GO SPORTS!


   We returned to the hotel, where I grabbed my kindle and headed for the nearest hammock while Diva primped for the rehearsal dinner. The walk to the beach was quiet and lovely. The breeze made the palm fronds sway back and forth as it blew, and the sound in the air mixed with the sound of the waves crashing nearby. I smiled as I recalled a relaxation CD that consisted entirely of sounds like that. The real thing is better, I thought.
   Beyond the pool deck, across the lawn leading up the white sand beach, I spotted a few empty hammocks strung between palm trees. Oh hell yes, I thought, and rather ungracefully ended up in the middle of one, with my feet facing the ocean.
   I lay in the hammock reading until the temperature around me grew slightly cooler, and I closed the kindle and also closed my eyes for what I intended to be a few minutes. But the crash of the water on the sand, coupled with the sound of faraway voices of people playing in the pool, lulled me into a deep relaxation. When I opened my eyes again, the sky was dark.
   After blinking my eyes a few times, I ungracefully maneuvered my way out of the hammock, located my flip-flops in the sand, and started back toward our room, passing a group of revelers at the bar along the way. My contact lenses were blurry and I couldn't see very well, so I went back to the room, took out my contact lenses, showered, dressed in a sweat-free new outfit, put on my stylish cat-eye glasses, and returned to the poolside party once again.
A bartender in a gaudy orange Hawaiian shirt, beige shorts, and flip-flops ran from side to side inside the bar, taking care of the expanded group for Maria and Michael’s wedding.
   “Where have you been?” Diva asked as I approached. She still wore a dark pink halter-top dress from the rehearsal dinner.
   “You look like a pin-up,” I told her.
   “So do you!” she said. I wore Capri pants, a sleeveless top, and a necklace made out of shells.
   “You are the more dressy pin-up. I’ll be the casual.”
   “I know! I’d change, except there are cameras everywhere!”
   “Jane!” Enzo called out from the bar. “I’ve been missing you!”
   “Oh dear,” I said, and a few people near me laughed, including Diva.
Soon, he was by my side and kissing my hand again. “So where were you?”
   “Yeah, Jane, where were you? I texted you a few times after dinner, and you were just- poof- gone.”
   “You’ll never guess,” I said.
   “Limbo contest?” she guessed. I shook my head.
   “Don’t tell me you were working,” Enzo chided.
   “I would never! I laid down in a hammock to read and woke up a few hours later.”
   “Are you serious? That’s awesome. I am so jealous!” Diva said.
   “That’s great,” Enzo added. “That means you can stay up all night with me.”
   “Oh, is that what that means?” I asked. Diva rolled her eyes.
   “Go easy on my friend, Enzo,” she said.
   “I’ll go easy on her,” he said, raising his eyebrows and looking deep into my eyes.
   “Hmmm… So you texted me earlier, Diva?” I said, trying to change the subject.
Another couple joined the party, and Enzo excused himself to go greet them after I wouldn’t return his gaze.
   I looked at my phone. There were two missed calls from Diva and three texts. Two were from her, and one was from an unknown number.
   I opened the mystery text and caught my breath when I read:
   Hi Jane, it’s Darren here. Want to meet for lunch tomorrow? I have a break from 1 until 3, then I have to be back at the ship.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Back from a Mysterious Errand...

Hi friends:

Well, at least one of you didn't forget about me while I was taking care of a mysterious errand. I can see someone checking on this blog every other day or so... and whoever you are, thanks for reading!

As for me, I am back in the saddle and ready for action. I'm making lists and checking things off of them, scratching down notes so much that my pens are dying... I'll be editing 1 book and 1 novella this month and maybe might land a "real" job too.  Stay tuned. In any case, a friend asked me to re-read Ask and It is Given, a book about the Law of Attraction, and I find that the more I relax my focus on life, the more I enjoy it- and more good things come to me, too. It's a fine book that's helped me out of more than one jam in the past. Check it out if you need to be inspired.

Today's offering is from the fun part of the book... I hope you enjoy this bit of escapist fun as Jane leaves Winterville behind for some fun in the sun.

Yours truly,

  “How would you like to know what it’s like to have the attentions of a man again?” Diva asked me. We sat at the edge of the hotel pool on two matching chaise lounges, with a small table between us. Palm trees swayed in the breeze, and in the distance I could see the ocean. The constant sound of the tide had put me into a partial coma, and I liked that.
  “That depends on the man,” I said, laughing. “Which man are you talking about? Does he look like Daniel Craig?”
  “Hmm, that guy on the boat was hot, huh?”
  “Yeah. Wow. Yes he was.”
  “Well, the only man I can provide you with this weekend is my cousin, Enzo.”
  “That sounds like a pasta.”
  “You’re thinking of orzo. Enzo is a real, live man, and I bet that if you pay him the slightest bit of attention, he’ll be all over you.”
  “I’m not sure I could handle that. Wait, does he look like Daniel Craig?” I asked, laughing.
  “No, silly, there he is,” she said, pointing to a group of her cousins. Enzo was tall, thin, and tan, from what I could see from the chaise lounge. Well, I can’t really argue with that, I thought.
  “Come on, let me introduce you to everyone,” she said.
  We walked over to the group of tall, beautiful Bellini cousins. True to their Italian nature, they were a loud, talkative bunch. Exclamations rang out from every direction as they greeted Diva, or as they called her, Lexi.
  “This is my friend Jane,” she told everyone, and I smiled and added, “I will do my best to remember all of your names!” They laughed in response and greeted me too.
  “Finally, a beautiful woman who isn’t my cousin,” one thin man said flirtatiously, reaching for my hand and then kissing it. I laughed in response. He had black hair and very dark eyes, and he looked to be about 30 years old.
  “You must be Enzo,” I said.
  “Guilty as charged,” he replied. I laughed again. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

What Happens on the Island Stays on the Island- Part 1

Dear Friends,

Now, I have to be coy about this next story line because it is just delightful! (For the record, I try to be coy with ALL of my story lines, but this one is special and near to my heart.)

Why? You ask. Because it's FUN! All through this story, I've been struggling along, not having enough money to enjoy my life, not meeting people I could truly bond with, and here we are, spending a fun long weekend on an island! What caused this change of events?

In the story, Diva's sister decides to get married on Key West, affording her loved ones and their loved ones such as myself a chance to explore the Conch Republic and go to a party!

Of course, as is the case with any time Diva and I are together, the fun started before we even got to the island. Exhibit A is below.

Have a great week! I will blog again next week, as I have to go away for about a week to take care of some things- and I'm not taking my laptop with me. So, you will miss out on your usual Wednesday and Sunday dose of Jane, but I will blog again after the 16th. Until we meet again, amigos and amigas!


  Diva and I counted down the days until we went on a jaunt to Key West, where we shared a discounted hotel room since her sister was staging a destination wedding there. It was worth spending all of my birthday money to get to pretend for a few days that I was a normal person with money on vacation. A few days off from work were most welcomed.
  After work on Wednesday night, I drove home, showered, ate, packed my bag, and fell asleep for about two hours. Then, I was awake again with some help from my alarm, packed a cooler, and off I drove, in the dark of the night, to Fort Meyers.
  That night, Diva woke up before the crack of dawn, drove west for a long time, and met me at the parking area for the Key West Express at about 7 a.m. She found me asleep in my car and woke me by knocking wildly on my car window. I awoke in a mad panic, which we both found hysterical. (It wasn’t the first time this had happened.)
  Even from Miami, it took almost a day to drive to Key West. Given my time crunch, we opted to travel by ship, which was delightful on several levels.
  We didn’t gamble- we simply worked too hard for the money- but any ship that went more than three miles away from the U.S. shore was allowed to offer it. When most of the passengers moved indoors to gamble a few minutes into the trip, Diva and I headed to the sun deck, where I used my trusty black scarf to hold back my hair. The sun was hot already (before 9 a.m.) but the breeze was cool enough for us to forget that the sun would burn our skin, and in my slumber I forgot to apply sunscreen. Diva, who scoffed at the mere mention of sunscreen, also skipped it.
  We noticed a man looking at us from the doorway leading into the casino. He stood about six feet tall and sported a blond crew cut. His coloring and physique reminded me of the latest James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, whom I’d developed a terrible crush on. Daniel Craig was a controversial Bond pick, as his blue eyes and blond hair were different from the previous dark-haired Bonds. However, Daniel Craig’s great acting and overall bad-assery had won over audiences everywhere, and it was his toned muscles and piercing blue eyes that claimed my heart too.
  This Daniel Craig stand-in was well built and good-looking in an All-American Guy sort of way. His broad shoulders made me want to salute something, anything. He wore pleated shorts and a button-down shirt with nautical patches on the arms, so I assumed he was a crew member.
  “Hubba hubba, would you look at that,” Diva said.
  “I know,” I said. “I haven’t seen anyone like that in a long time. And he’s looking at us! What should we do?”
  “Hell, I don’t know!” said Diva. “Maybe we should wave and yell, ‘Hello, cutie boy!’” Diva’s sabbatical from dating had gone on for longer than mine, and we were both clueless. So we sat there, transfixed. Eventually, he went inside to work, and I exhaled.
  There was a crowd of boisterous bachelorettes behind us, so we turned around to talk to them. Their stories spilled out quickly; they had converged from various parts of the country to celebrate, and had also noticed the man.
  “I saw him when I traveled on this ship a while back with some other friends,” said one of the women, an accountant from Kentucky named Kelly. “He really hates it when you grab his ass.”
  “You grabbed his ass?” Diva and I asked together.
  “I was drunk,” she giggled. “And yeah. Nice, firm ass. He’s a good-looking guy, too.”
  “Yeah, we noticed,” said Diva. “He was looking at us earlier, and Jane and I were like, what do we do? We were all sorts of flustered.”
  She laughed. “Don’t tell me you girls are single! Because I know some really awesome guys up in Kentucky!”
  “Oh dear,” said Diva as she shook her head. “I don’t think that’s going to work.”
  “Why not?” she asked.
  “Because we don’t go to Kentucky.”