Journalism About a Journalist

I attempted a fact-based article about a journalist’s visit to Florida. My favorite journalist. It is the first article I’ve written in this epoch. It’s bland, but it’s a start. And what better a topic than a professional in the craft? Learning to fold the flavor of my commentary into the call-it-as-it-is (not as you want it to be) prose of journalism is an adjustment.

This first piece is dry, which is sad because it’s about a person whose work I find rich and fascinating. But I resisted the temptation to write about the experience as a personal narrative because that is not what I want to learn to do. In order to learn something I just have to do it. Time and practice improve all things. The potential is there, but a crafter’s potential is worthless if she does not practice.

I want to share with you fine folks but I’ve submitted it to a local nonprofit newspaper for funzies and I don’t know if they can print something that’s already on the Web. In the likely event they reject it, I will post it here. If they do accept it, I’ll link (and do a happy dance).

Regardless, I will continue practicing. I’m off to do that now…

On Community

January 17, 2016
Sunday
Life in a waterfront community is something special. Today we experienced a sunset at Howard Beach Park.
Howard Sunset

Around 5:40pm

Birdy Sunset

5:50pm-ish

Yesterday we watched the sunrise, sittin’ on the dock of the Bay.

Marina Sunrise

Safety Harbor Marina, sun breaks at 7:23am

We sunned ourselves on the white sand of Clearwater Beach in the afternoon. It was sunny and in the 70s. I got a tan. It’s January. The locals are urging one another to “stay warm” during tomorrow’s 50 degree cold front. It’s snowing in Virginia and rigid in New York. *cue Handel’s Messiah*
Last Sunday I had a most epic thrift store adventure. Gone are the days of $30 thrift shop tees. Hello, $5 Banana Republic! Living room set for $75? Yes please.
On Tuesday I enjoyed clam chowder for under $3. Two lovely men in tropical shirts gave Brenden and me all kinds of information on the area. (See my review of Mid Peninsula Seafood here.)
We’ve taken an apartment in Safety Harbor, an intimate water town atop the St. Pete peninsula. Every Friday they have an ordeal called Third Friday, wherein all 200 people who live here gather on Main Street. The street is blocked off so vendors can peddle their wares. I’ve been to many a generic street fair where fried corn, street meat, cell phones, karate lessons, knicknacks, handmade jewelry and just plain junk are peddled. This is not that.
Third Friday Sign

Welcome!

Every vendor is local and unique. Two guys behind a hot fryer deliver Disco Donuts topped with cinnamon, powdered or rainbow sugar. A lady who hates the heat and goes north every summer sells jewelry made from spoons. Two young people give information to prospective Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers.
As you’ve noticed, the tone and purpose of this blog has taken a different direction. Dear nieces and nephews, you are the primary reason I write this blog. I want it to be interesting to you. Listening to me list off stuff I’ve done probably gets old, which is part of the reason I stopped writing. The other reason was of course Cody’s death. It is time to move forward.
I’m making some changes. Instead of just telling you what I’ve done and where I’ve been, I want to show you by sharing stories of the communities I explore. Soon I will be adding profiles of people who, in my opinion, make their community special. Make what you will of that word, community. Whether I’m writing you from VA or NY or FL or ZZ, I am always in a community.
What a packed word, community…
Everyone has a different definition of community. I’ve enjoyed living in a community, but to be a part of community is to belong. To me community means interconnectivity. Cohabitation. Contribution. To belong to a community is to add to its richness. To support it’s success. Here on a Friday night, between the coffee makers and dog treat bakers on a ten-block Main Street that terminates at a Marina on a Third Friday evening, I feel confident that I am closer to the dream of belonging to a community than ever before.
But don’t you even think my adventures are over. Honey, I’ve only just begun…
Noosa

Making friends with the Noosa lady. Noosa is the best yogurt, by the way.

Pizzaria Gregario, Safety Harbor

On a Friday night, Pizzaria Gregario offers hungry patrons supreme service in a small, cozy, romantically lit space. Situated inside a small house, the low lighting and intimate atmosphere fit the bill for a Friday night dinner. There is a wait for indoor seating so we opt a picnic table outdoors.

Chef Greg Seymour crafts pies made of locally sourced ingredients and handmade sourdough. In addition to pizza, Gregario offers spreads, meatballs and salads.

Beef and pork meatballs in tomato sauce are too good to turn down. The meatball appetizer consists of three meatballs, approximately 2-3″ in diameter, sitting in a saucy bath. It does not disappoint.

After a 20-25 minute our waiter brings the good lookin’ pie we’ve eagerly awaited. None better attests to a restaurant’s pizza prowess than the margherita pizza. It’s simplicity is what makes it both beautiful and tricky. Each of the four ingredients must be supreme. Sadly, most of the ingredients used in Gregario’s margherita fall short.

The foundation of the margherita pizza is a thin, wood-fired crust. It is neither soft nor crunchy; it dances the boundary with all the finesse of a fine crust. The sauce, made of Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, is too sweet. I prefer a tangy, full-bodied sauce. I do not doubt the quality of the house made mozzarella, but it served as little more than chewy lumps to add texture. The absence of flavor is a tease. With only five or six puny leaves, the dearth of basil breaks my heart. A good margherita pizza must have a healthy measure of basil.

Save the crust, this pizza is certainly inferior to its cousins in New York.

I allow that I am scrutinizing, maybe even excessively, but I do it in the name of true, steadfast love for margherita pizza.

The great service compensates for what the pizza lacks. Through some miscommunication in the ordering process, the smiling waiter brings out a pie topped with parmesan cheese, as advertised on the menu. I am allergic to parm, which was lost in translation during the ordering process. The waiter is very kind when I explain this. He brings a new one, sans parmesan, within 10 minutes. More than one waiter checks on us during our stay. They are attentive without hovering, and they are exceptionally friendly.

Though the pizza is not a Top 10, it is decent. I look forward to returning to try the meaty Lombardi and Eh Mate pies.

#theadventurecontinues

A lot of life has happened in my almost one year hiatus. On Tuesday, January 5, Brenden and I arrived in Florida, marking the start of a new chapter in our book of shenanigans. Since leaving our home in New York I was terrified we’d made a big mistake. My dad’s goodwilled attempt to prepare me for life in the Tampa Bay area, when he advised me that the diversity of Astoria I’d grown accustomed to would surely not be a part of life in Tampa, only stoked my anxiety. Last year Brenden and I decided to leave the city we worked so hard to live and breathe in, the city we loved. We knew there would be no match for the explosive interculturality we loved in NYC, but our shared love of the beach and outdoor life carried us to buy a car, stuff it with as much as we could, and relocate to Tampa.

We have never been under any impression that the two cities are comparable. We both loved the ironic intimacy of city life and we’re pretty liberal. When we passed a Trump bumper sticker on the way into Tampa yesterday, along with all the earmarks of standard suburbia, ranch houses with ample distance between, scattered two story buildings, sprawling office complexes, low hanging billboards, the wave of fear that culture shock carries ripped through the front seat of our stuff-stuffed mini Honda.

But today we went to the beach. We touched white sand with our toes and we dipped our feet into the turquoise-tinted crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We watched the water while we ate seafood on a deck in the sun. (Check out my review of Frenchy’s here.) It’s a new year and I’m still coasting on the loving energy I felt from seeing so many dear ones in such a short time on the way here. In the course of a week I saw parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends. Many of these people I’ve not seen since before I left VA for NY. These encounters were markers of time. With some time had stood still. Our last visit was seamless to this one. With others it was a meeting of strangers. While living in New York City I learned that time is like a minnow: it’s slippery, incredibly hard to catch, and it has a very short lifecycle. Every moment counts.

My Aunt Jim The Wise once told me that the greatest gift I could give was my time. That’s really stuck with me. I hope this year I will adjust to my new surroundings by spending more time communicating with my far away loved ones and finding ways to make new loved ones. I hope to godabove that I have really learned what I know I learned and that I apply that as I go forward. It’s a game changer. I don’t think I would’ve realized it so soon had it not been for New York.

It’s hard for me to meet new people and put myself out there. It’s hard for a lot of people. As I write going forward I might record my endeavors on this blog. It’s not easy being human, but it’s a lot easier when you have meaningful connections with other humans. If not now, then when?

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