When bicyclists attack

One afternoon in Richmond I was stuck in stoplight traffic at the intersection of Harrison and Franklin Street in Richmond, minding my own business, when I was hit by a bicycle. I repeat: sitting in a stationary vehicle, I was struck by a bicycle. It was my Civic who suffered the physical blow, though the whole ordeal left me traumatized for at least an hour. Most people are dubious when I tell them I was hit by a bicycle, especially when they see the cluster of dents left, not on the side or rear, but somehow on the top of my trunk. What kind of bicycling she was doing I’ll never know because I still don’t even understand how she hit me.

I’m sitting still, waiting for the light to change when out of nowhere I feel, and hear, the THUMP. Simultaneously I witness the thump’s cause in slow-mo through the lens of my rearview mirror. A mangled mess of hair and handlebars flies up, then down. THUMP.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.30.14 PM

Thank you, Google Maps, for providing this quality screenshot of the Motherland

My chest tightens and in a lifetime of a second I experience the five stages of grief for what will surely be the loss of my freedom because somehow I’ve managed to kill someone while sitting still at a stoplight. Just my luck. Thanks, Universe. Mostly I’m shocked, even mystified at how this has happened. I can’t understand how I’ve just hit a person without ever moving.

I can’t tell you how much time passed before shock gives way to terror, then confusion and then, a rush of relief when the lady in question pops into my left side mirror, running toward my front window with bulging frantic eyes calling out, “Ohmygod! I’m so sorry!” Ohthankgod. It was her fault. I’m so relieved I could peed my pants (maybe I did?). I’m too stunned to say much save for a dumb inquiry as to the state of her wellbeing. Then the light changed and off I go, still in disbelief.

Later I notice the dent marks on the top of my trunk, presumably from her handlebars. To this day I have no idea how she managed to hit me the way she did. There’s no evidence of her hitting the car from the side or the rear; somehow she just wound up on my trunk, hair, handlebars and all.

Mondays and Bouviers

“Kyuh-mun!” A childish shriek from a grownass woman sporting a mullet and mom jeans encouraging her dog to move along. She’s got a bouvier and it’s her pride and joy. She refers to the poor beast, which looks like a small shaggy bear hunched into domestic subservience, not by its name or species, but by it’s breed. “My bouvier.” All other bouviers of her past and present encounters are also mentioned at the puppy kindergarten class of Upper Suncoast Dog Club. We decided to take Nola (sorry – “our shorkie”) here because their puppy kindergarten class is the cheapest in the area and the place got reasonable, albeit few, reviews. Unbeknownst to us, the Upper Suncoast Dog Club is the hogwan of dog schools. It’s the kind of place with mullets, purebreeds and the same t-shirts that hipsters wear “ironically” only here it’s in sincerity. And that’s Monday.

B and Nola at Puppy Kindergarten

“Puppy Kindergarten” at the dogwan. Here Nola and  Brenden face off over a bag of freeze dried chicken.


Happy NY Primary! (This entry has nothing to do about elections.)

Not much new to report on the Cuba front. The news is repetitive: the U.S. embargo/blockade (depending on the source) poses problems, as do Obama, the Castros, and American tourists. Learning Spanish is slow and somewhat steady. I can blame some of my lapse in my writing on time spent studying.
Presently I’m working on a blog about two of my Safety Harbor neighbors who will soon open a coffee shop on Main Street. I found them on a hunt for coffee with Brenden at our first Third Friday celebration, less than a week after we moved here.
Less than a week after we moved here we were in search of a cafe to sit and use the internet we lacked at our temporary place and indulge in our preferred addictive substance. Less than a week after we moved here we ruminated about how on earth it could be that in this picturesque downhome American’s American town constituting just a handful of blocks transected by central Main Street, home to a majestic willow tree so old, wide and grand that it must now be held in place by wires and protected by a black wrought iron fence (and which has become the face of many Safety Harbor postcards and t-shirts), a library, a fire department, a marina, a chamber of commerce with maybe two employees, and a gamut of almost 100% locally owned businesses, restaurants, and bars, the only coffee shop is a Starbucks. It couldn’t be. I’d accepted that life would have to go on without New York pizza, but life without a mom-and-pop coffeeshop? Fugghedaboudit.
Kent and Logan Runnells are not mom and pop, but father and daughter, and they will soon become my coffee patrons so I am forever in their debt. Meeting them less than a week after our devastating realization, and a little over a week after I decided to start blogging again, was as as energizing as coffee.
As a writer, the only vice that plagues me more than too much coffee is overbearing product anxiety. It took a couple of months for the Runnells and I to orchestrate and interview, which we had almost three weeks ago. In between work, Spanish, other necessary studies, and baby Nola, I’ve been pecking at this thing since the day after posting my last blog. So there you have it: my most recent excuse for a delayed publication.
April 2016.jpg

And that’s Sunday

Who are the women of Cuba?

Cuban women_CharlesPietersFlickr

Photo Credit Charles Pieters of Flickr

Obama visited Cuba. So that happened. Call it good bad or indifferent – it’s a change either way and people are talking. The shift in private enterprise is a big part of that conversation, and it’s a fascinating conversation, but I’m more interested in the ones doing the talking, namely the women of Cuba.

I have so many questions.

Who are the women of Cuba? What do they do? How do they spend their days? In what ways do our lives overlap? How do they diverge? And what about the women my age – especially the ones my age.

Who are the female cuentapropistas, the entrepreneurs, and what is their life like? What kind of business do they do? How has the landscape for cuentapropistas evolved? When did it begin? Did 12/2014 do something significant to change it? In what ways?

What are their stories?

I want to find out. Of course I’ll start with the interweb, but constrained internet access in Cuba means limited access to the inside from the outside, so I’ll have to hunt and gather a lot of information the old fashioned way: reading, calling, exploring. Not having the excuse of the Internet makes this process of discovery about humans more human.

Over the next few months I’ll learn all that I can from afar. My research will encompass language, culture, history, economics – the works. But of course you never really know about people and their lives until you go where they live. So I will hoard pennies and hopefully travel to Cuba by the end of this year.
Until then…

Coming up next:

Howdy folks, and happy Leap Day! I’m loving the #DayItForward tag surfing the Web today, and it’s great tag for my upcoming blogs, both of which are about women developing their community. In honor of International Women’s Day I’ll be posting about a local women’s group. Following that is a piece about a young artist who, in her words, “recycles t-shirts and recovers lives.”

So stick around for that new new. Keep it real, kids.


Faith via Fido 

Dogs and humans have gotten on famously for eras. Companionship takes many forms yet none is quite as enriching as that with a dog.

Together you form a bond with minimal linguistic commonality. Verbal communication happens with just a name and a few words, and maybe the occasional one-sided conversation. But non-verbal communication is one of the many splendors of the dog-human relationship. Our dogs read our facial expressions and respond to our eye contact. They see us for what we are at the moment that we are; they see right through us.

Every day when you come home, your dog rolls out the red carpet runs to you and hails the heavens. You are home! You are together! Reunited! Everything is awesome! Whether the separation has been for hours or months, the dog-sponsored welcoming home party is unparalleled in its enthusiasm.

When dogs enjoy us so completely, they validate our existence. When we treat our dogs humanely and with love, we validate theirs. On the darkest of human days a dog is a friend to remind you that you have at least two reasons to live: your dog, because who wouldn’t want to stick around for a fur-clad hero, and you, because obviously you can’t be but so bad if someone as great as your dog loves you so much.

Not everyone shares my love of dogs. Some hate dogs, some are afraid of them, and for some, dogs just aren’t their preferred form of companionship. That’s ok. Those feelings do not detract from the spiritual bond that exists between a dog and her human.

On March 20, 2015, on a snowy first day of spring in New York, I lost the dog I grew up with. My mom and I brought her home weeks before my 11th birthday. She moved with me when I went to college. She was the ring bearer in my wedding. She came with me and my husband when we sold what little we had and came to New York City. My new home in Florida is the first home I have ever lived in without her.

Cody and me at Flushing Meadows park in Queens, 2014

That little dog was and is my blessing. With her presence I was forced to hold myself accountable. Just one glance at my eyes and my face and she read me and then responded accordingly. She always knew how to exist alongside me. It has been a struggle to live with myself without her to keep me real.

I miss her. But I know it is time for a new friend. It is time to accept her departure. So I have. Though I make this announcement for fear that something will go wrong, tomorrow my husband and I will bring home a new pup, a new world of possibility, a new future, wrapped in the consistent bundle of furry faith that stands the test of time.

A glance at the future, February 2016


wordless to say

A silver bullet shoots the eye of the horizon. Periwinkle gray forms float above an endless morning bay. Southeast, the tip of a fat hot pink toenail punctures eternal sky. Subtly it glides into growth, transforming from bold line into bold arc into bold shape. Brilliance rising up reflects down below, illuminating a path headed right for the silver bullet.
Keep it going. Keep it moving. Move it, lady. Just another day on the bay. Nature’s skyscraper is as everyday as the Empire State. Steadfast, unrelenting. Ignored and awed. A symbol of what was, what is, what will be.
Bella sol, embrace us. Make love to the mar. Give birth to the terra. Feed the flora, foster the fauna.
Command the moon to move to the water to move the fish to the rods to the mouths. Command the human to wake up to open eyes to live to work to live. Your hot pink colors human souls. Your light breeds life from dreams.
Move along, silver bullet, my chariot, but don’t move past. Eyes do not avert your gaze. Behold with caution, with care. Let the light in your windows paint a hopeful face, as we move along to find our place.
Courtney Campbell Causeway
February 4, 2016
Causeway Sunrise

This was actually taken the morning before, Feb 3 (Davy’s birthday)