One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dance of the Dark Shadows

During several months spent working as a Dark Shadow, Sara wore a black suit and was not permitted to communicate verbally. Her job was to travel around town passing out fliers and creating a sense of intrigue while wearing what looked like a black Spandex leotard that covered every inch of her body, including her face. The only thing that wasn't black was the little bright pink flower that Sara wore just above her heart. It was against company policy, but Sara was OK with breaking a rule and just wanted one little thing of her own when she headed out into this new world.

Despite not completely understanding her mission, she took her job very seriously ... as did Xavier, another Dark Shadow. The pair fell hopelessly in love without ever having spoken a word ... They never saw one another's faces ... not even their eyes showed in these suits. But at Dark Shadow meetings, Xavier always found the woman in the pink flower. A few times Sara didn't wear the pink flower, just to see if Xavier would know her without it ... and he did. He always found her. She loved how he could do that.

Initially, Sara wasn't sure why she was drawn to the crazy ad that read Shadow People Wanted ... but she wanted that job badly and decided to listen to her intuition. Because her last job at a PR agency was all about words, trying to convey anything without words was initially awkward ... but eventually it became a beautiful language all it's own, but a language that only another shadow person could truly understand. Xavier got it. They spoke the same language.

They started spending a lot of time together in their shadow suits, hanging out at art shows, bookstores and festivals all over town, not talking, but truly communicating. At first lots of people pointed and laughed and stared ... but eventually they got over it and realized the dark people were OK, even if they were a little odd and very quiet. People around them began to respond warmly, but also without speaking. Those people were truly intrigued, without quite realizing why.

Sara and Xavier were equally intrigued with this new life they had both found. It just worked somehow in a way that nothing else had ever worked before. They felt like their unique little relationship was just too perfect to mess up .... so they decided never to see each other's faces or use any words .... But then the Dark Shadows business just shut down as quickly as it had opened. Sara reported to the office to go to her locker and change into her black attire, but the space was just empty, so Sara lost her job, her black shadow costumes and the most intriguing person she had ever come to know.

She considered posting an ad on Craigslist's Missed Connections or something, because she and Xavier had never exchanged e-mails or phone numbers. What would have been the point since they didn't use words? But the more she thought about trying to continue seeing him ... as a real speaking person who doesn't look like a silhouette ... the more she felt like things could never be the same .... It's the sort of thing that just magically happened ... not the sort of thing you can make happen, so she didn't pursue it.

Sara is on many levels deeply saddened by the loss of her very quiet best friend ... but knows that he will live on in her heart forever. She tells herself that she has moved on, but continues to wear the little bright pink flower in secret hope that one day she will again be found.

Sara is in a little nook on the street in Las Olas .... the nook contains some kind of water pipes or something outside Vencor Hospital in the 1500 block of Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

While the stories you read on this blog are all just pretty much made up, for the most part, they come from somewhere. And this particular one was inspired by a few very intriguing blog posts I spotted this month, one on The South Florida Daily Blog .. and another on Coconut Grove Grapevine ... about the real working "Shadow People." For the record, I do not know the Shadow People, so this story has nothing to do with the real people in black. .... just an intrigued mind filling in all the little gaps with the sort of fairy-tales I imagine might come true in a world populated with silent silhouettes on a marketing mission.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lizzy's Secret Hooky Day

Lizzy typically works Tuesday nights at the factory but when she awoke on Tuesday morning and everything outside looked sparkly, crisp and like autumn had finally arrived, all she could think about was bundling up and getting outside and walking as far as she could. Lizzy loved the first cold day of the year and it only felt right to honor it ... She had plenty of nights that she could work, but only one night that she could walk on the very first chilly night of the year in South Florida.

She'd been waiting all summer for the Fallfest Memorial Strut ... It's not the fall she remembers as a kid, but each year when she puts on her pink coat with the orange buttons and the purple scarf and heads out into the night, it doesn't matter that there are no colorful leaves ... because in her mind the red and yellow and orange leaves are all right there ... swirling.

She know that not everyone sees the swirls, so she's cautious about who she struts with because as a longtime member of the Secret Society of Fallfest Memorial Strutters, she knows the importance of not strutting with people who can't see the swirls and witness the magical effect it has on people. But Lizzy's gotten quite good at determining who can and cannot see the swirls. Not that it's discussed. The first rule about the Swirl Club is that you don't talk about the Swirl Club. It's kinda like the fight club in that way. You just have to wait for a sign that they saw it too.

Lizzy recently recruited a new member of the Secret Society, and much as expected she got her sign ... It the big one. Literally minutes after all the strutting and swirling activities .... she looked up and saw The Great Pumpkin. I know that sounds just too impossible to be true ... but it happened, and if you don't believe it ... you probably have never seen the red, orange and yellow leaves swirling on the first cold night of the year in South Florida.

That's all I can say about that .. because the Secret Society does not permit in-depth discussion of activities surrounding the Fallfest Memorial Strut.

Lizzy is now hanging out in the ladies room at Ats A Pizza Italian Restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. She's waiting for a swirler to come and rescue her .... Meanwhile she's quite amused by the trick door. People keep coming in there and trying to close it so they can use the facilities ... but it doesn't close ... a trick spring. The management here has such a sense of humor .... It's very, very funny.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shasta Suites

When Shasta begins worrying about things over which she has no control, she develops an overwhelming desire to paint little flowers. It takes her mind off troubling things and re-establishes her connection to a better place.

Landlords around the Pompano Beach know about Shasta because of her reputation: She signs a one-year lease convincing a landlord to give her a month's free rent and forego the security deposit based on the improvements she will make to the property. Then, after a month, she packs her very few possessions and moves out in the wee hours - leaving only her flowery masterpiece behind.

Those who own these rundown roachtraps aren't about to fork over money to get the walls painted white again, after only a month ... not to mention the floors and the inside of closets, drawers, etc. Besides, they're finding that the flowery apartments are far easier to rent than the others. They just seem to make people happy in a way that white walls do not. They've even started referring to these apartments as "Shasta Suites."

Shasta's life is getting easier, too. She no longer has to work so hard to convince landlords to let her stay free for a month and forego her security deposit. When she introduces herself as Shasta they seem to go easier on her. Shasta's not sure if that's her vivid imagination, or her new sense of confidence ... and it doesn't really matter.

What matters is that for the first she can remember in a long time, she feels really happy, hopeful and alive, despite having no bank account and few material possessions ... or maybe because of that. She no longer has to worry about paying rent and still has time to paint works that she can sell to buy a few groceries, flower seeds or even an occasional bottle of pinot grigio.

And perhaps, best of all, she recently heard that other artists had been moving into apartments, using the name Shasta to get a months' free rent, and then creating gorgeous masterpieces on the walls and moving out a month later .... Shasta never even dreamed of something this exciting happening.

Sometimes beautiful things emerge from the darkest of places.

Shasta has been dropped in the ladies' room at Dunkin Donuts between Davie Boulevard and 17th Street Causeway on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale ... It's the place that used to be Dippy Donuts ....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Rising of the Hope

You know how that big fat glowing orange moon always makes an appearance around October .... the one people refer to as harvest moon ... but the pumpkins who live in the patch know the real story behind that moon, and they simply call it the Rising of the Hope. Pumpkins sometimes lose hope in this life ... because they're up on all the pumpkin news and they know how many pumpkins are being slaughtered this time of year, and made into coffee, ice cream, pies, and even beer now. Recently, in fact, they have become increasingly popular, but no one knows the price of popularity better than pumpkins.

A few find fame ... like those 900-pound pumpkins that get towed around to fairs and make the news, but they meet with their own tragic ends. Ditto for the pumpkins so proudly displayed on porches for all the little candy-hungry trick-or-treaters to enjoy, and are then left to rot. If they manage to survive that holiday without having their stuffings scooped out and their insides lit with fire, they know they must face the daunting holiday of doom known as Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins for obvious reasons do not like Thanksgiving. Two words: Pumpkin pie.

They want more from life, but few of them find it. When the baby pumpkins ask the older ones what life is really about, where they will wind up and what will happen to them, the senior pumpkins tell them the story of the Rising of the Hope and how if they believe hard enough and strong enough, one day they will rise far above this and smile down upon the world.

Fall is their season to do this, and they know this because of the big light in the sky. Each month it grows full and round ... but only during the season of the pumpkin is it so glowing and orange, and this is their sign, their reason to hope, their motivation to believe that they can rise above the pumpkin pies, the slaughtering, the burning, the ice cream and even the pumpkin ale and become one of the shining pumpkins in the sky.

They need hope. Because life, for the pumpkins, is getting very stressful. Recently, Dunkin Donuts has started posting signs all over their shops that say Pumpkin Is Back. It's become downright devastating for the pumpkin population. They are living in a state of constant panic now, but they still continue to hope, fat little pollyannas that they are.

Most people don't believe in the Rising of Hope ... they just prefer to call this phenomenon the Harvest Moon .... Some, like the blanket-carrying Linus, know better. But even he doesn't talk about this much. In fact, it was Linus who said: "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: Religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."

But we know there are others out there who agree with Linus and we too should unite and rise up for the sake of pumpkins everywhere .... It will be hard to give up the pumpkin consumption, for sure ... but it's important to note that pumpkins are peaceful creatures and despite years of torture from humans, not one pumpkin has ever ordered a people coffee or eaten people pie on a pumpkin family holiday. So remember every year when you see the big harvest moon, know that pumpkins everywhere hoped really hard to make that happen for you.

Dropped the pumpkins at Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor in Dania .... just under the sink ... not The Kitchen Sink full of ice cream that feeds you and 20 of your friends .... but the little sink in the ladies room. They're hiding in there and they're really, really scared because they heard some lady in the parking lot say she just got the very last of the pumpkin ice cream .... They're hoping really hard that Linus, or one of his crew, comes and rescues them. So hopefully someone with a soft spot for pumpkins will take them home .....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Zoey's bubble zone

Zoey is one of the few people in the world who is lucky enough to make a living writing limericks. Recently, as the world collapses around us, there has been quite a demand for her limericks, especially since some of the other limerick writers have been forced to close up shop and get jobs at the local BK or pancake house. So for all the wrong reasons, Zoey's business has picked up quite a bit.

Sometimes Zoey's a little too busy. She gets overwhelmed by her growing list of jobs, and they're not the sort of things one can rush through. The only way she can truly become one with her work is to find a way not to think about all those other unfinished tasks on her list ... to abandon all of those worries so that she can be here in this moment ... writing the only limerick that really matters.

When she has trouble arriving at that peaceful place, she imagines herself inside a lava lamp where it's comfortingly warm and little bubbles of color are floating all around her silently. Then she can create something truly meaningful and special. Zoey's a limerick writer in a lava lamp.

Now she is in the parking lot of Southport Shopping Center in 17th Street Causeway in Fort Lauderdale. There's a big white recycling bin in the corner of the lot, near the closed down Texaco, and in the back of that bin down low, is a little hiding nook. She's down there right now, in her little creativity zone, working on a limerick. If we get an update from her, maybe we'll post her limerick here later.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Red-Dress Fridays

Rose is typically all about casual, but there's something that kinda bothered her about mandated casual. That whole "You must dress casual on Friday" routine only made her want to not dress casual, especially anything called "business casual." The very term made her cringe.

So every Friday, Rose wears a lovely red dress. It is, in fact, the only dress she owns. Underneath it, she wears a swimsuit and when her work day is done ... straight to the beach for a very long swim, and then directly home for her own casual Friday dinner: vanilla ice cream and salted pretzels. That's what her great Aunt Ruth has for dinner every Friday and Rose wants to help keep that tradition alive.

Dropped Rose at Lester's on State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale in the east ladies room.