Tag Archives: Tampa

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 10 – 16

Apparently I am now terrible at making a plan and sticking to it… I meant to update this thing every day, but I’ve just dropped the damn ball. Probably really because there’s not that much happening when you’re self-isolating that would make a good blog entry… I wake up, I log in to work, I work for 8+ hours, I log off, I make something for dinner, play some Fallout or World of Warcraft (or both), then I take a shower and go to bed. That’s my day.

But, I guess it’s worth mentioning that about a week ago Hillsborough County was put under a stay-at-home order. Today, the entire state of Florida followed suit. So it’s like being grounded… I never got grounded as a kid, so this is a new experience for me. I think if I had been grounded as a kid I probably would have been allowed to go to school and church and, since I now don’t go to either, I guess going to the grocery store is a lot like going to church – it’s the one reprieve I get from staying at home. And that’s fine… I’m an introvert with anxiety. I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to have to worry about being sick… and since no one really enters or leaves this apartment except for me, it’s unlikely that I’ll get sick just by staying in here, three floors off the ground, working, playing games, binge watching Criminal Minds, making sourdough bread and patching up an old blanket that’s been in my life since I was a very small child. It could certainly be worse.

And I am glad I spent the first few months in this apartment diligently unpacking and putting things away and really making this place home-like (to me). I’ve got my Star Wars toy collection all over my living room, my big oak bookshelves bursting with books in the bedroom, enough toilet paper to last about three months if I’m careful, and a much larger kitchen than I’ve had since we left Louisville for Florida. And in that kitchen I am now making sourdough bread – partially because it’s a nice thing to do (and I like cooking) but also because bread can be tricky to find right now and I thought that if I made my own, that’s one more loaf at the store that would be available for someone who maybe can’t make their own bread.

This whole thing is seriously making me wonder if I really should just get it over with and buy a house in the country, get a milk cow and some chickens, plant a garden and just live off the land. I mean I doubt I’d do half of that… the garden is more realistic for me, because I actually know how to raise one of those. Cows and chickens… not a clue… but it’s an interesting thought.

Daily Developments:

  • This is Day 4 of the Sourdough Starter. It should be ready to bake with tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll have time and energy to do that after work.
  • I managed to sew up one of the big holes in the blanket that used to be on my parents’ bed when I was a kid. This thing is older than dirt and I could probably just get a new one and be done with it, but this one has sentimental value to me and it’s so freaking soft after all those years of use. So I’ll keep sewing it up until there’s nothing more to sew.
  • Florida declared its own shelter in place order today. It lasts until April 30. I think restaurants are still delivering, but several of my favorite ones have closed to give their workers a chance to stay healthy.

Things I’m Happy About

  • I’m back to giving webinars for the first time in nearly six years. It feels good to be back in that field again and I’m always excited when I do it.
  • I unlocked flying in Legion. Finally. One more day and I should be able to unlock the “Now I Am The Master” cooking achievement too.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 7-9

Been a little busy here the last few days. Work is going well… I get to start training people again via webinar… something I haven’t gotten to do since I left Tampa back in 2014. I’ve been trying to get back into it ever since and, despite many twists and turns and a series of moves that took me away from Tampa and then brought me right back and sent me down a rabbit hole career-wise (for a bit), it looks like I’m heading back into the direction I wanted to go. I give my first webinar tomorrow… and while I am (understandably nervous), I am also pretty at ease… I know the materials pretty well, and I’m good at improv for the stuff I don’t know.

But enough about that. The virus continues to spread. Most of the Florida beaches are closed… I know that some of the spring breakers have gone home (but not all of them… some of them decided to stay… I’m not sure what they’re really doing since they can’t DO anything around here except go grocery shopping now that the bars, clubs, and restaurants are closed). New Yorkers are also apparently flying into Florida to escape their stay-at-home orders and the governor finally mandated that anyone getting off of a plane that comes from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut has to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Because the governor doesn’t want to issue a stay-at-home mandate for the entire state, some local governments are taking it upon themselves to issue their own. Honestly I don’t see how that can be effective because it’s not like the virus is going to come up to certain county lines and say, “Oh… I’m banned here… I’ll go somewhere else.” And also, especially in counties that comprise big regions like Tampa Bay, it would be difficult to enforce when you have a community that depends on its ability to commute to other counties for work. Is someone living in Hillsborough county who works in a non-essential job in Manatee county (which is technically outside the “Bay” area) supposed to sacrifice their job to stay home, or are they supposed to illegally leave and risk a fine so that they can keep their job? I get the need for effort, I do, but there has to be some kind of consistency or it simply doesn’t make sense.

But… I digress… the county I live in has proposed instating a stay-at-home order AS WELL AS a curfew. It hasn’t passed yet, but I expect it to tomorrow, which means there is likely more WoW and Fallout time in my immediate future.

Daily Developments:

  • See above information about the curfew… will probably pass tomorrow.
  • Milo likes to play fetch during the day. I cannot always play with him, but he makes a point of throwing his little toy around on his own (then staring up at me pathetically) when I can’t participate.
  • I finished the book I was reading in two days. It’s not because I have a lot of spare time (though I kinda do), but because it was a page turner and I didn’t want to put it down.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • Oddly, this virus is the reason I’m getting to start doing webinars again, because our other trainers are too busy to handle them all. Believe me, I wish that there was another good reason for this, but I told you, I’m trying to see the positives in this.
  • Slept pretty decently the last couple of nights. This is a true achievement for me.
  • Only about 1-1.5 more days until I’ll have unlocked flying in Legion. This is something I wasn’t going to do because honestly it takes forever to do now, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time but that, obviously, has changed.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 4-6

On Friday, I drove down to Bradenton to see Lord Ormsby. We practiced social distancing from within his apartment, except for when we used my car to go get him some supplies so that he doesn’t have to take his motorcycle for multiple trips to the grocery store (since it doesn’t haul as much as my bug does).

What’s nice about Ormsby’s place is that it is right next to Bradenton’s Riverwalk so, while the beaches were closed, we could still get outside and take a walk and enjoy some of the sunshine. I had no idea how nice that strip of walkway was… water on one side, landscaping and benches on the other, a marina so that you can look at all of the yachts that you’ll never be able to afford (and think how effective it must be to social distance on one of those things). We also discovered that he lives super close to an ice cream/smoothie place. We didn’t get any that day, but it’d a nice little tidbit of information to have in your back pocket for a later time.

The grocery stores are civil – some are more crowded than others – and depending on what time you go, different things are available (but not toilet paper). I finally found the rice I was looking for today when I went on a whim. Also got some deli ham (they’re putting it in regular ziploc bags now because they are out of their other ones) and some salad mix. The ham and cheese sandwich I had today hit the spot.

Tampa’s mayor was reported to have said that she is considered a lockdown of our county if the governor doesn’t lock down the state first. I expect that will likely be announced sometime tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. I told Ormsby that if there is a state lockdown and if he is not expected to work, then he is welcome to come here for the duration – since it will be a LONG quarantine for him to be stuck in a place with no internet or cable and a handful of dvds. I also told him to bring his own toilet paper.

Lots of domestic disturbances at my complex today… and I live in a nice area of town. People haven’t been stuck inside for even a week and they’re already starting to lose their shit. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like if things really do lock down, and sincerely hope this does not become some new nationwide rendition of “The Shining.”

At any rate, I got one more (large) bag of cat food today – they aren’t going to need food for another five months at this rate (which is fine with me… better safe than sorry, since I can’t get their food at a normal grocery store), and there’s not much else that I can do to be prepared at this point, so I guess whatever happens, happens.

Back in my good old Kentucky home, my parents’ church suspended its services for the first time in living memory. Their minister apparently delivered his sermon (like so many others have) via Facebook – this was a big deal, though, because their congregation is older and slower to change (though I think by now even the oldest ones have a Facebook account).

Daily Developments:

  • Ohio and Louisiana are the latest two states to enact the stay-at-home orders, joining a handful of other states.
  • Many of the Florida beaches are finally closed.
  • Miami Beach hotels are supposed to close on Monday.
  • The Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos here in Tampa finally made the decision to close – that’s the biggest deal because they probably had the most traffic now that Disney and Universal have been closed for so long.
  • Grocery store shelves are still pretty picked over when you go there, but they are better in the morning.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • I am playing a ton of World of Warcraft – more than I’ve played in years. The servers are getting populated again, now that no one has anything else to do, and I’m getting achievements that I’ve “not had time” to try for in a while… also I’m unlocking all the flying that I said I’d never actually do on principle because it was too difficult (but you know… now I have time… so…)
  • I have rice.
  • The book I’ve been wanting to read since the summer (“The Phantom Prince” by Elizabeth Kendall, about Ted Bundy) finally came off hold for me today… I’ve been on a list for freaking ever to read this one. This could not have come at a better time, since I am now stuck home for the foreseeable future.
Bradenton Riverwalk – Butterfly Garden
Bradenton Riverwalk
Bradenton Riverwalk

Wanna See My Panties?

I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about lingerie on this blog before.  I am pretty sure I posted some photos here that were taken at one point several years ago, but I’ve not really talked about how much I adore my lingerie collection.

I started early.  I was the kid who spent an inordinate amount of time agonizing in the local Wal-Mart about what kind of underwear I wanted to buy.  It usually had to have some sort of cartoon on it (back then it was probably Care Bears or Sesame Street or something), I needed lots of different colors, and nothing pleased me more than getting a new pack of Hanes Her Way (for girls) to wear.  It’s not like I went around showing everyone my underwear back then, mind you.  I think a lot of it was just the novelty of knowing I had something COOL on under my clothes that no one else knew about.

I grew out of my Sesame Street phase, of course, and we’ll bypass the awkward teenage years in this narrative too, because they’re not worth mentioning (except to say that I did not wear Sesame Street underwear to high school)… also I was an awkwardly shaped teenager with long legs, a nicely-shaped ass, but not much by way of a chest.  I may have gotten my period before anyone else, but tits?  Nope.

Then I hit my 20’s.  And my second puberty (of which there have been three… don’t ask me how I pulled that off, I don’t know).  I got boobs.  My ass remained awesome.  And I started modeling.  Photographers I modeled for would attempt to provide me with pieces they had purchased for models to wear, but I soon learned that most of it was pre-worn, still covered in vagina-gunk from the last model who wore the thing (despite the photographer swearing up and down that they were clean), and I wasn’t putting that ANYWHERE near my own vagina because there’s no guarantee what the photographer would DO with that pair of panties after I had finished with them.

So I started shopping for my own lingerie.  It needed to be… well… awesome.  Better than anything anyone else owned because I needed to save the integrity of my nether-regions and at the same time needed to (at least so I thought… then) preserve the fragile ego of the photographers who had spent all this time buying shit for models.  Looking back on it it was probably all the cheap shit, but I hadn’t hit my connoisseur-status yet.

Long story short, I amassed a HUGE lingerie collection.  At last count (and this has been several years ago), I owned over $5000 worth of merchandise in a rotating wardrobe (material wears out after a while).  Bras, panties, babydolls, fetish pieces, corsets, you name it, I probably had it (and if I didn’t, I’d happily purchase it).  I have professional photos of myself in nearly all of it… which was awesome, because I got paid for those shoots and the money from those shoots went to buy more lingerie.  An endless cycle of sexy undergarments that pay for themselves.  Every woman should be so lucky.

Anyway, when the opportunity came up to submit to the casting for the Luxe Lingerie Show in Tampa, I jumped at it.  I didn’t really dream I’d get in (because while I have been doing stuff like this for most of my adult life, I never have really quite grasped the fact that I am, in fact, lucky enough to GET to do this).  But I did.  And I’m very, very psyched about it – because, for a lingerie nut like me, what is better than to get to go get your hair done, your makeup done, and then get the excuse to wear your lingerie on the outside, where everyone (or at least those who purchased tickets) gets to see it?

It benefits a very worthy cause, too, which makes it doubly awesome – Hope Driven, a charity that provides services to help single parent families living in Hillsborough, Pinellas, or Pasco counties with children under the age of 13.  They provide services like short-term housing, job placement, assistance with food, electricity, and tuition… stuff that helps these families get out from underneath some of the burdens that make success sometimes seem like it’s really far away.

I don’t know how many of my readers live in the Tampa Bay area.  Or how many of you are lingerie fanatics like me.  But if you’re looking for something to do this weekend OTHER than watch beefy men in tight pants run around a football field trying to jump on top of each other, come out to American Social Tampa on Saturday night and take a peek.

You won’t be disappointed.

Luxe

Big Changes

A lot has happened during the last couple of weeks.  Really big changes – some bad, some good… all of them completely altering the landscape around here a little.

First, I had to have Satine put down.  I know I wrote about that previously, so I don’t need to go into the whys.. but it’s sufficient to say that having to do that was the worst thing that I have ever had to do.  Not that she didn’t go peacefully (she did), and not that I did it prematurely (I didn’t), but it doesn’t matter whether it’s the right thing to do or not… it still hurts.  And, afterward, there wasn’t a thing that I could do to make myself feel better.  The house felt so empty.  I felt so lost.  I kept thinking I would hear her talking.  Or walking.  Or that I’d see her when I walked by her window.  Thing is, I truly believe that that WAS her… maybe I sound crazy, but the connection I had with that cat was very unusual.  So I believe that she is still here to some extent.  And I doubt she will ever leave me completely.

Four days later, Ormsby and I flew to Tampa.  It was the first time I’ve been back since my move up here.  I stayed away, primarily, to try to make the transition a little easier on myself – it’s impossible to live when I have one foot in one place and one foot in the other.  But I finally got so homesick over this last winter that I caved and bought tickets.  We stayed at a hotel on Rocky Point and rented a pretty awesome car.  I got to see all of my friends.

But there was something else to this trip – it was an exploratory one.  Because I really, really, really want to go back.  Permanently.  I made more money there.  I had a better job (and more opportunities) there.  But most of all, well, it’s sunny there.  And I was happier there.  Was I happy all the time?  No.  I do wonder whether some of that unhappiness could have been rectified by, say, a job change.  Or an address change.  Or a phone number change (or all of them, maybe).  Something not as drastic as what I eventually decided to do, but something that would, at least, put some distance between myself and the factors that were making me unhappy.

I want to move back.  But I don’t want to leave Ormsby.  And that’s my rock and hard place.  I love Ormsby.  I do not love Louisville.  I am able to separate the two, thankfully.  And so this trip to Tampa was more for him than for me.  I wanted him to see the city, experience the city, figure out what is so damned seductive about that place.  And he was amazed.  And he fell in love.  Enough to move there?  I have no idea.  I guess we’ll see when the lease is up.

For me, though… the winter here is pretty dreadful.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder… when it gets cold, when I can’t be out in the sunshine, it really gets me down.  And there’s just the fact that I do not like Louisville much.  I thought I’d be able to get back into the groove of things, but after Tampa, this city is, for me, a small town with big city ambitions that it will never quite reach.  When the biggest thing that happens all year is Derby (and all anyone thinks about after one race is over is when the next one is going to be), then it’s time to find something else to occupy the other weeks out of the year.  When a city must hold banquets honoring minorities just to prove that it’s not racist, then, I hate to break it to you, but the city is racist.  When pageant queens and Hooters competitions make the newspaper, it’s time to find better news coverage (maybe more than a blurb about all the black people that get shot on a daily basis, and what the police are doing to find the killers?).

Sure Tampa had its big events (Gasparilla, for example), but the point is, there is more than one.  And the entire city didn’t shut down just because of one thing… except the RNC.  But that was a special case that was pretty much out of anyone’s control. And then there’s the food.  OMG.  If you haven’t been to Tampa before, you should go… if for nothing else, than just to go to some of the restaurants there. But while you’re there, take in the rest of the city… I like to say that it’s one of the best-kept secrets in tourism.

So, anyway, the goal… at the end of the year… is to find a way to put myself back there.  And to bring Ormsby with me.  If he will go.  If he won’t, to be honest, I’ll likely go anyway – there is nothing worse than mentally suffering for six months just because the snow is on the ground.  It will be sad to leave him behind, but I can’t make myself suffer.  That’s just not fair.

When we got back, the biggest change of all happened.  After Satine passed, Ormsby and I were at Petsmart… just looking… and we found a kitty.  She was spoken for already, but the rescue society that had her had two others that needed homes.  I got first pick.  But, see, the downfall in that is that I can’t choose just one.  So I took them both.  One is female, about 10 months, orange.  I call her Cleo.  The other is a male, about 12 weeks, a gray tabby that looks like Satine a little bit.  I call him Milo.  They are a bonded pair… and it’s adorable to watch Milo follow Cleo around.

Yesterday we picked them up.  And I dropped about $400 on cat supplies.  Milo is at the vet today getting neutered.  Cleo is, at the moment, exploring the bedroom and sniffing my flip flops – which smell like Tampa, I’m sure.  They both purr a lot… and both are lap cats.  Of course I still miss Satine a lot.  But the house is definitely not empty anymore.  And I’m absolutely crazy about the new furballs that live here.

Surprisingly Homesick

So, almost a year after I moved back up to Kentucky, we’ve started house hunting.  It’s been an interesting endeavor… rental homes fall into three categories, the two biggest of which are either the ones that are too crappy to want to spend any time in, or the ones that are so nice that they are WAY over budget.  The third category, the one that, as Goldilocks says, is “juuuuuuuuuuust right,” in that they are not too expensive and not so run down that you wonder if there’s a meth lab hidden in the attic, are hard to find.

We finally found one that we both liked, that meets all of our requirements (three bedrooms, garage, kitchen with new appliances and, particularly, a dishwasher).  It’s also a closer commute for me, which was a very high value, as I am sick of driving an hour each way.  So I’m going to put an application down on it tomorrow.  Hopefully we get it… because that’s the other thing about looking for a rental house… everyone else is trying to get into those too, and they are few and far between.  So you lose more than you get.

I am looking forward to setting up a home again, to getting my things out of storage, to having a room where I can burn my incense and candles and oils and play with my tarot decks and do the things I used to do in Florida – I can’t do that in the apartment we live in now, because there’s not enough room to make a sacred space.  Ritual spaces would have to be taken down every time we needed to have a meal, people walk in and out a lot.

Beyond that, though, I am hoping that this place, this house, whatever we find, will help me with an even bigger problem that I have had for quite some time now… I am homesick.  So homesick, in fact, that I can’t even properly tell you how homesick I am.  It’s a new feeling for me because at no other time in my life have I ever felt this way.  Like, I grew up in Kentucky, I moved to Florida, and sure, here and there, I’d miss my family and my friends, but it was not an all-encompassing feeling the way that it is for Florida.  I always used to make a point never to put roots down anywhere… to stay flexible, malleable, able to do what I needed to do at a moment’s notice.  I fucked up and put some down accidentally, I guess.  Oops.

I miss my apartment and my things, of course, and it is my hope that this new house, when we get it, will alleviate that some.  Because then I will be able to see those things every day and feel more at home.  Or at least my cookware, appliances, books, etc. will be more accessible than they are now.

But it’s more than missing my shit.  I miss who I WAS there.  And I am afraid – not only that I may never live in Florida again, but also that I will never be THAT WOMAN again.  The woman who had her life together, who knew who she was, and what she wanted.  It’s not that I’ve changed THAT MUCH since I moved, but I’ve come to appreciate what I had there (the old adage of “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is true, folks).

Someone I knew at one point described Tampa as “terribly miserable (yet frustratingly seductive).”  I thought it was funny at the time, but now that I’ve been away from it, I’ve realized the truth in that statement.  It’s not that I was miserable there, per se, though the traffic was pretty terrible and Bucs games could pose a challenge to getting around.  And, of course, there was the work issues (though to be fair I might have been okay if I’d just grown a pair and found a completely different job).

But Tampa was, and is, unique.

I lived in a place that was pretty much a mixing bowl of every state, every culture, you could think of.  It was where everyone went for vacation, sure, but even the “locals” were from somewhere else most of the time.  I lived in a place where I could not only practice my “religion” (I use that term lightly as I do not put a name on it and I do not subscribe to any one faith) without fear of repercussion, and not only that, but I could spend my weekends with others LIKE ME.

My friends were from all over.  Many white, but just as many Hispanic or African American.  I was, in many places and in many situations, the minority there.  And I LIKED IT.  Here?  It’s funny.  I was talking about how much I missed the diversity to a woman I’d known all my life and her response was, “Well, you know, we’re getting a lot more Hispanics here now with the migrant workers.”  I was horrified… my friends there were not migrant workers.  They weren’t anywhere CLOSE to migrant workers.  They were smart, funny, intelligent people who were working in IT, or management, or the military.  They had families, they lived in nicer areas of town, they weren’t struggling.

I’m not saying that everyone in Kentucky thinks like that woman did, but her overall attitude that “this is what they are and this is why they’re here and this is how they’ll stay” is unacceptable to me.  It sickens me.  I wish that I’d never heard that statement, to be honest, because it’s something that will stay with me, more than likely, for the rest of my life.  And I’m not even saying that there’s no racism in Florida (we do have George Zimmerman, for example).  But it’s not as common there.  I’m sure there are undertones of it that I simply didn’t see.  But it’s not as bad as it is here, where cities need to have banquets to celebrate their diversity (if you need to draw attention to how diverse you are, people, in reality you probably aren’t).  Or where Kim Davis can refuse to sign marriage licenses and have people support her for doing it.  Florida may be a red state, but its attitudes are, largely, very blue.

Tampa made me shed a lot of the things I was once comfortable with… and in their place, it forced me to develop a lot of new attitudes, beliefs, hobbies, and tastes (in food, clothing, you name it).  I miss it every single fucking day.  I can’t even tell you how often my mind takes me back there so that I can visit.  Sometimes this is, literally, the only way that I can fall asleep.  Sometimes, my dreams of the place are so vivid that I don’t want to wake up.  In my world, we call that Astral Travel, and it was something I could never do there.  But here?  I have no problems.  And sometimes I go to the most ridiculous places… the Michael’s parking lot, the Publix where I used to get my groceries.  Sometimes I’ll go to more common places – Ballast Point, for example, or the lake behind my apartment that I used to do miles around every night.

But, of course, for all that I want to go home right now, I can’t.  The debt, from this move, is up to my eyeballs, and I need to pay it off before I can think about going anywhere.  I have school to finish.  I need to at least develop the training program where I am working now to the extent that it can run itself if and when I do decide to relocate.  And of course there is Ormsby.  Who I desperately want to take with me, but who, I concede, may not ever want to go at all.  That is, of course, the biggest thing that keeps me here, debt be damned.

I’ve planned a trip in February.  And Ormsby will come with me… and I’ll show him the places I loved most of all.  Maybe we’ll see a rainbow.  Or the elusive lighting/rainbow combination (though probably not, since that’s not the right season for that).  And, whether he goes with me or decides to spend more time on the beach, I’ll see my friends.  And I’ll smoke a hookah and have some rum runners. I may not want to come back once I’m there (I mean who would WANT to come back to the cold when you can wear flip flops in February), but at least, for a few days, I’ll be in the place where I put down more roots than I ever intended.

** And, of course, any of my Tampa contacts should email me at their earliest convenience so we can make plans. **

Ashley Madison’s Revelation

Cheating is stupid.

Cheating on people that have the know-how and the motivation to find what they need to find (ie: nerds – particularly the hacker kind) takes the word “stupid” to a whole other level.

And the people that made profiles on Ashley Madison… a site that bases its money, its reputation, its livelihood on selling extramarital affairs?  Well… let’s just say that, in my opinion, they got what they deserved.

Because cheating… no matter the circumstance… is never okay.  “What about the people in open relationships?” you may ask.  Well, if they are open to begin with and both parties agree to that openness, then you can’t call that “cheating.”

Cheating is done willfully, for many motivations, but, no matter how you spin it, it grows out of ego… out of selfishness… out of an inability to consider the other person in the relationship, and to put their needs, their feelings above your own.

And if it’s retaliatory cheating?  It’s still not an excuse – because cheating is something you don’t EVER have to tolerate.  You can just leave the relationship… Leaving solves a lot of problems in that instance: the spouse/significant other that was cheating is no longer cheating, you don’t have to deal with their selfish ass anymore – not to mention you’ve opted out of all of the suspicion and drama you’d probably deal with after you “worked it out.” And, of course, there’s the knowledge that, if you find someone else you want to date, you can do so freely – without the constraints of another relationship, without worrying about the lies, and the sneaking around, and the bullshit that is inevitably associated with something that is dishonest.

So I didn’t feel sorry for the people that had all of their information published.  Why should I?  I do not cheat.  Even when I was in a marriage that was completely and totally useless, I never cheated.  And if I find out that someone has cheated on me?  I fucking leave.  End of story.

Still… I have a lot of exes.  And there’s been some suspected infidelity involved with those exes (theirs, not mine). I got a little curious… and I tried to get my hands on that list.  Or, at least, a way to filter through that 10 gigs of data, because even I don’t have that much spare time or inclination to look at EVERYONE’S names (though admittedly, that would have been a wealth of blog fodder to go on for the next five years).

When I finally found a search engine that would let me find users by the email addresses they used to subscribe, I knew which address I wanted to run first.  Botboy’s.  I can’t say why… I can’t even say that I was going to be surprised if it did.  Because if any of my exes had a profile up there, I knew it would have been him.  And something in me knew exactly which of his many email addresses he’d use if he were going to sign up for that site…

And on my first try, I got a hit.  Photo attached for those of you that need proof – or as much proof as I’m willing to give.  You’ll have to trust me here.

nebedit

Now… like the site says, I can’t prove that he signed up for this (perhaps it’s not him at all).  I can’t even prove that if this really is him, he signed up for this when he and I were talking… this could be a holdover from his prior marriages for all I know.  Or it could have happened long after I left Tampa.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that this speaks volumes about his character.

And, as I also predicted, I wasn’t surprised.  I laughed, actually.  And when Ormsby asked me who that email address belonged to, I told him.  And he laughed too.

Because, you see, I made a decision over a year ago now based on one conversation in a parking lot that I had with Ormsby.  It was June 2014, and I was getting on a plane to go back to Tampa.  Ormsby and I had spent that weekend together and, not wanting to leave him hanging… the way that so many of my predecessors had, I asked him what he wanted me to do about it.  I gave him the option, you see, of having me… of foregoing the “waiting” that I was doing for a (or so I thought) deployed Botboy.

Rather than take what I was offering, Ormsby said the thing that set him apart from any other person I have ever dated: that he didn’t want to do anything, or make any decisions, as long as I was waiting for Botboy… that he could not do that to someone that was in his position.

And as I sat there on the plane, heading home, back to work, back to waiting for Botboy, I realized something: Ormsby was the better man.  Because what he’d said, what he’d done for Botboy – a man he didn’t even know… a man that, truthfully, didn’t even deserve that kind of consideration… that is something Botboy would NEVER have done for him if the tables had been turned.

This Ashley Madison revelation… it was further proof of what I already knew.  And now that that’s all behind me, I didn’t really NEED the proof.  I already HAD the proof – a year and a half of waiting for absolutely nothing, of being left hanging, of being, in essence, the fallback girl… that was all the proof I really needed.  And even though the Botboy chapter has, in all honesty, been closed ever since I chose to fly up to Louisville in July of 2014 to save Ormsby instead of waiting for the Botboy, who was due back in town at any moment, it still felt good to see the confirmation, in all its glory, on a computer screen.

Scared Shitless

It’s exactly one week until the madness of school and work (simultaneously) begins.  With the release of one of my class schedules a full week early, I’m happily confident that the classes themselves won’t be a problem.  In fact, I think I knew that from the beginning… since my last experience with college was graduate school, and I’m going back for an undergraduate degree (so the work load will be significantly easier).  And, of course, there’s the fact that I’m majoring in something completely different this time (Communication vs the History degree I have already) that requires a lot less reading than before (one book per class vs. seven or eight in the History department).  And at any rate, I have always been good at school, having the ability to hear or read something once or twice and remember it, and the writing quotient… which is nothing.

No… school doesn’t scare me.

Work scares me.

It has been eight months since I left my full time job in Tampa and moved up here.  I’ve dabbled with Ormsby’s business, of course, played a whole fuck load of World of Warcraft, and have focused on my relationship – a needed change in my  life that required that attention toward the beginning.  I’ve had a lot of interviews, I’ve retooled my resume several times, and am happy to say that the last major overhaul had a fairly significant role to play in getting this new job that I start on the 24th.  I interview pretty well, too, as I’m well-spoken and am very good at giving clear, concise answers when asked a direct question (Dad used to say I had an answer to everything – he was right about that).

But you know what… now that I have a job, now that I’m starting said job, that I earned by the qualities of my resume and not because I was in the right place at the right time, I’m scared shitless.  But let’s begin at the beginning.

My tenure in Tampa began with a document management company.  I started as their receptionist and had aspirations of moving into Accounting, because I’d dabbled in that before during Louisville Part I and liked it.  I liked the self-reliant aspect of it, the fact that with those numbers in front of me, I could get lost in them and not have to answer phones or talk to anyone.  It’s a good profession for an introvert (as long as I made my math-phobias get out of my way).  Receptionist was not so much, but they didn’t get many direct calls to the line, and I spent my very short, ten day tenure, as a receptionist there making tea for the owner and running personal errands.  My only beef was that they would not let me drive my own car and, as I have serious anxiety about driving any car but my own, that wasn’t a good fit, but I needed a job.  It wasn’t a great paying job, but I needed it.  And it was enough to squeak by for awhile.

Ten days into the Receptionist tenure, the Trainer quit.  Rather than hire a new one of those, and I guess recognizing that I was more intelligent than what was required for a Receptionist at that company, I was offered the job and a raise.  I took it because, I mean, hell… more money.  It’s a no-brainer.  I was scared shitless of training people, especially since I didn’t really know my way around a computer (and still don’t for the most part, but I’m better now than I was in 2010).  But I took my test account home one night and learned that program backward and forward.  And then I blundered through the first few trainings with live clients.  In a month or two, I was relatively comfortable with it.  And by six months, I was training in my sleep.  Because it was the same program every day… three times a day… I repeated myself so much that I didn’t even have to look at my computer anymore.

The company I worked for was pretty lax.  And by lax I mean that they served alcohol pretty much all day, YouTube and Wii were highly encouraged during working hours, and the pranks that we played on each other during vacation times were over the top (and funded by the owners).  Work didn’t feel like work because of this, and also because I could dress casually every day.  Like jeans and a T-Shirt casually.  And barefoot.  Or flip-flops if I really needed shoes.

Two years later, one of the systems that the Document Management company had developed was sold to a larger insurance company and thirteen of us, myself included, went with the acquisition.  I got a fifty percent raise and more vacation time than I could ever use (at least that’s what I thought then), simply for taking the job offer and continuing to do the same job I’d done every day for the last two years.  The culture didn’t change (though maybe it should have… because the sexual harassment at work started with that transfer) in that we were still able to wear what we wanted, but we couldn’t drink anymore and the pranking fell by the wayside.  There was no onsite HR and management was overloaded and understaffed, so people still pretty much got away with anything and everything.  I didn’t really take the time to consider whether I was doing things that made me worth the 40-50 thousand a year I was making.  Because that was just what it was, and I was lucky to have a job like that.

I moved back to Louisville, though, eight months ago, feeling entitled to something that was the same as what I’d had before.  I mean I’d done it for four years, I had (presumably) been worth that salary (and had gotten used to having extra money in my pocket every month).  I wanted my life back.  And finally, after a lot of interviews, and a lot of hoping, and a lot of wondering why the fuck that wasn’t happening as easily as I thought it would, I found it.  And I start it on Monday.

But now that I have it?  I realize just how lucky I was to find what I found in Tampa.  Luck is not a translatable skill, but you know what, Luck is how I got that job there, and Luck is how I got that transfer.  It had absolutely NOTHING to do with SKILL, and that’s the point.  All of my other jobs I’ve gotten either because they were brainless and needed to be done and I applied for them and got them for no particular reason other than the fact that I played World of Warcraft (seriously, this got me the job at the document management company, as well as the job at the plumbing company in Louisville in 2009) or because I happened to be in the right place at the right time (in other words, Luck).  I got this new job based on merit… merit that I’m not really sure I deserve, despite what my resume says (because let’s face it… Word will be still and let me type ANYTHING on it).

I’m scared shitless that I’m going to walk in there a week from today and I’m going to find that I really have absolutely no idea what the fuck I’m doing, that I was being overpaid in my last position, and that I would be better off settling for a $12 an hour receptionist position because I suddenly find that there is no way in hell that I can do this on a bigger scale (webinars vs. in person training; one technical manual vs. ten very specialized ones).

I am terrified.  And I’ve never wished for time to slow down more in my life… because I feel like I could use a few more weeks to find my (figurative) balls, pull the badass out of retirement, and prepare for the inevitable… whatever the inevitable will be.

The Start of Something New

I’d really been missing Tampa lately.  And for the life of me, I couldn’t really figure out why.  Because the weather in Kentucky during the summer is just as hot as (if not a little smellier than) it is in Florida.  The humidity is still sticky, the roads are just as crowded.  And of course, when I was in Tampa, all I ever really wanted (or worked for) was a stable relationship… and I never truly found it.  But, then, I had enough income there to keep me satisfied… and so the only thing I really NEEDED to work for was finding a relationship that was great enough to keep.

Some days I’d miss the weather (who wouldn’t?).  Other days I’d miss the Dunkin Donuts that I’d stop at once or twice a week on my way to work.  Or I’d miss getting to hang out with my friends on weekends. Most of all, though, I’d miss my apartment.  It was the first place that I’ve ever had that *really* belonged to me.  That I had outfitted all by myself.

I’d walk in the front door, into my living room.  My TV, with its cable box humming happily below as it recorded stuff on the DVR, would be the first thing I saw, sitting next to my five shelf bookcase.  To my right would be my constantly-extended futon (it seemed more practical to have it in bed mode instead of couch mode) with my laptop sitting on top of it, waiting for a World of Warcraft session.  On the far right wall would be my seven foot tall bookshelf, and the floor to ceiling (pretty much) windows) – a lamp in front, on an antique table, my grandmother’s old trunk at its base, as well as  book overflow that did not fit on the two bookshelves. (Books organized alphabetically by author’s last name.)

On the left would be my dining area, with my kitchen table (circa 2002 – when I got my first condo) set up neatly… sometimes looking as if it were a dining room table with tablecloths and placemats.  Or, sometimes, depending on the phase of the moon, would hold my altar cloth and candles… oils… tarot… whatever I’d be working with that month.  The kitchen existed next to the dining area, with a fridge full of whatever it was I’d be eating that week, and a pantry that held not only dry and baking goods but also my laundry machines.

Further back you’d have my bathroom, decorated in Alice and Wonderland décor (most of it things I created myself).  And my bedroom… with its red and black comforter and sheet set, my filing cabinet, my nightstands and another (much older) TV with my Roku and Netflix for watching before I fell asleep.

And let’s not forget my balcony… a screened in porch that sat off my living room, where my cat and I would sit, watching the water spray up from the lake behind the complex… she’d be watching the ducks.  I’d be painting.

You could walk in the door and you’d know, immediately, that I was a girl who liked to read.  I was a girl that would occasionally relax with the television (for select shows) but more often than not spent the evenings whiling away her time on the patio with her paintings and creativity… or gaming… or else cooking up something in the kitchen. And that’s what Tampa stood for to me… it was a life I’d created all on my own, it revolved around me and what I wanted to do, and my house, like everything else, reflected who I was and the things that were the most important to me.

But then I realized… when I really got down to it, when I really thought about it, it wasn’t TAMPA I missed at all.  It had very little to do with the town itself, but more or less the fact that I was missing the things that I had created, had specifically chosen, to do because they represented who I was.  It was going to the places downtown that I loved because I loved them.  It was having my little quirks and hobbies.  It was having my apartment, full of my stuff, that I had created into a refuge for myself to exist in, on good days and bad days.

I’d chosen to leave it for Ormsby.  And I don’t regret, not even for a minute, doing what I had to do to make Ormsby a permanent fixture in my life.  Because if I had not moved, he and I would not be doing this.  Life with him has been worth it.  But that’s the thing… my life has, at least since I moved, revolved around him.  Around his business.  Around his hobbies.  Because I have to save money; I still have to pay my bills (particularly my storage one, because some day I WILL have my space back, and I will want all of my things). Until then, what I had was World of Warcraft and the running that I do.  WoW was paid for.  The running is free.  It wasn’t everything, but I was pretty satisfied.

Finding employment, at least until this last week, has been a challenge.  And so I re-enrolled at the University of Louisville as a full time student last month, hoping to get a second degree that would make finding a job easier.  I’ve been looking forward, since then, to having those classes… having something that I could do on my own.  I kept applying to places, but was content to settle with a part time job that would coincide with school.

At least until last Friday.  I got the call that changed everything – a law firm that I’d applied to and interviewed with two months ago called me at 8:30 to offer me a position.  It was exactly the position I’d been looking for ever since I moved – Training and Technical Writing… full benefits… and a salary that is equal to the salary that I left behind in Tampa.  I thought about it for a weekend… only because I was dead set on school and I wasn’t sure whether I could balance them both.  But today I accepted it.  And I downgraded my school schedule from full time to part time… I still want that degree.  I see the benefit in HAVING that degree. For the sake of making myself more marketable in the field I’m in now, but also for the possibility of branching into others.

I don’t intend to move out of the apartment I now share with Ormsby.  This was only supposed to be until I got on my feet, but we like living together. And to be honest, I can’t imagine my life without him anymore.  But I have the essence of myself back… or at least I have the part that made self-sufficiency possible.  Because, see, I like being with Ormsby because I CHOOSE to be with Ormsby… not because I depend on him for survival.

My stuff is still in storage, yes, and it will stay there for the foreseeable future until I can pay down some debt and recoup my finances from eight months of job seeking, and until I can find a bigger place for us to live.  But I don’t have to consider which necessities to sacrifice for others.  I don’t have to stay away from Victoria’s Secret or Smoothie King anymore.  I can, in essence, afford the little things that make life pleasant, and therein, be more satisfied (even though I will be crazy busy).

Everything (school and work) starts August 24.

I can hardly wait.  🙂

50 Things I Learned While Living in Tampa (and Florida in General)

1.  More curse words than I ever believed existed

2.  How to make up my own.

3.  All about Cybertron, Autobots, Decepticons, and how they’re in hiding all over the world.

4.  Living in Florida does not mean you’ll go to the beach every day.

5.  It also does not mean you’ll be on a perpetual vacation.

6.  You’ll be expected to come home often, but you can’t expect that you’ll be visited also.

7.  Contrary to what I was told all my life, no one is watching or judging everything I do, no one actually       cares, and believing otherwise makes me delusional

8.  I can paint.

9.  When it comes to dating, I am absolutely not nerd-friendly.

10. I am a badass.

11. Earl of Sandwich. ‘Nuff said.

12. Rules were made to be broken.

13. I’ve developed an affinity for spicy Spanish food.

14. How to smoke a hookah.

15. Sally O’Neals. Pizza. Yum.

16. Running combats anger, boredom, anxiety, and it’s also great for brainstorming.

17. Racquetball

18.How to get through airline security quickly and efficiently.

19.Sleep is overrated.

20. I can be a tree stump.

21. I’m not a girly girl (which I think I already knew, but I’ve acquired a greater appreciation of this      quality).

22. When given the choice, and despite the occasional harassment, I’d rather work in an office full of men; there is not as much bitchiness and an overwhelming lack of teary-eyed drama.

23. I do not have a brain tumor.

24. After lots of sprained appendages, a beard burn, wrestling matches, a nosedive off of playground equipment, and a full dental imprint on my upper arm, dating Floridians definitely counts as a contact sport.

25. Moxie tastes weird.

26. Sand is impossible to get out of your car.

27. How to fill out a customs form to ship “coffee” to Afghanistan.

28. Being yelled at in Japanese is just as confusing as being yelled at in English.

29. I am not normal. Again, I think I knew this, but it’s a matter of being comfortable with abnormal

30. That I can, in fact, move 1000 miles away, on my own, and be perfectly okay.

31. How to suspend an entire office from the ceiling, furniture and all.

32. Thai food is incredible.

33. To listen to, and heed, my own intuition, which is correct more often than not.

34. What a Keratin hair treatment looks like.

35. How to run a World of Warcraft guild.

36. Sand is also impossible to get out of your hair.

37. There is nothing, NOTHING, more relaxing in this world than having Rum Runners delivered directly to your beach chair.

38. Cake Vodka. Yes.

39. The joy of being able to drink beer, wine, or vodka shots at work.

40. Flip Flops made of Yoga Mats are simply delightful. Getting to wear them every day is fabulous.

41. Going to the Cupcake Spot on a Sunday and ordering a half dozen, each a different variety, can turn any bad day into a good one.

42. What it’s like to be able to do whatever I like, whenever I like, without having to consciously worry about saving every single penny I make.

43. If I’m going anywhere, I need to leave at least an hour before I’m supposed to arrive. Even if it’s only 5 miles away.

44. How to behave at a Grog Ceremony.

45. After ceremonies are over, I buy my new bffs new shoes from the expensive gift shop.

46. Orlando traffic sucks… at least until you are past International Drive.

47. Skinny Dipping.

48, How to read tarot cards.

49, How to read comic books (this is a skill that is quite different than reading novels).

50. The definition of insanity.

BONUS:  I’d rather be North, jobless, and freezing with someone I care about than hot and gainfully employed in Florida on my own.