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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stir Crazy

Heide sometimes has trouble sleeping. So occasionally in the middle of the night, while everyone is fast asleep, she goes out and walks for a really, really long time. She never tells anyone she does this because they'd just think she was a little weird ... But Heidi likes her secret walks in the wee hours. The world is a very, very different place at night when all the shops and restaurants are closed ... no people, no laughter, no screaming kids, and hardly ever any cars going by. All she can hear is the sound of her own footsteps and that little voice in her head that says "You know you're not supposed to be doing this." Actually, that might be her mom's voice.

But once the rain stops and all the stores close ... Heide will probably wander around outside ... she'll probably have her little nose pressed up against the glass at Kilwin's, wishing she had a little fudge or ice cream, maybe mint chocolate chip ... she kinda likes walking around really late at night after the rain because then she can skip through the puddles really, really fast .... just like her mom always told her not to do when she was a kid.

But sometimes when it's all said and done, Heide's all wet from the puddle-jumping and feels kinda chilly, and she doesn't wanna walk all the way back home. She kinda wishes that someone nice and totally reliable and trustworthy would give her a ride home, maybe have a nice little cup of herbal tea waiting in the car ... and the car would have those fancy schmantzy little seat warmers that make you feel real happy and not so cold, like someone is giving you a big warm hug. Maybe afterwards, they'd play a board game ... and she'd win. And then she'd hear her mom's little voice in her head going, "Yes, that's what you're supposed to be doing."

If rain can lead to all that ... It's never a bad thing.

Heide is at Stir Crazy at The Shops of Pembroke Gardens ... because it's been raining all day and even though it was still daylight, she got a little Stir Crazy, so she had to go somewhere, and it seemed like a good place to be. She's in the ladies room of Stir Crazy, eavesdropping as usual ... people are saying they like the food, that it's very yummy, and healthy too.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Laney's Limoncello Dream

Now that so many people have lost their jobs, it’s become all-but-forbidden for the Lucky Ones, those still collecting a paycheck, to complain about the fact that they’re now expected to spend most their waking hours working, but for no extra pay. As an added bonus, their offices, stores and factories are basically an episode of Survivor and on any given day they might be voted off the island, which makes it hard for them to sleep in the few hours they get to do so.

Despite all this, they’re supposed to keep on pretending they’re lucky to have jobs, ‘cause they are … they are soooo lucky to be working 60-70 hours, even if they only get paid for 40, cause hey, at least they’re’re not behind in rent or mortgage and at least they haven’t had to go back home to live with their parents … some of them don’t even have moms or dads anymore. But they can’t complain, ‘cause hey, at least they’re not homeless.

Laney liked her job, but just hated working so darned much and sometimes she really did just wanna complain about it ... but she never felt like she could ‘cause everybody just kept telling her how incredibly lucky she was to be working. That’s how it is now. Just keep on working and keep on dealing with it, 'cause you're lucky. Lucky. Lucky Lucky. Shut up. Deal. You're so Lucky.

So yeah, no one complains anymore. Complaining is just boring anyway, because it's not like anyone’s situation is particularly unique … everybody who still has a job in the same boat … not really a boat though, more like a canoe that you have to keep paddling against a current so increasingly strong that it makes one wonder when their arms are finally going to give out and what will become of them when they do. We keep hearing and seeing little indicators that things might get better, that we should all try to hold on, but seriously, are companies every gonna bring back all those people they fired, or will they just keep firing more and paying increasingly less wages or hiring indie contractors so they don’t have to provide any benefits? …. Meanwhile, there are a few less foreclosure signs in the neighborhood now, and the empty storefronts that once housed profitable little businesses are again showing signs of life, including lots of pizzerias … ‘cause even those who can’t afford to go to dinner now … still like to enjoy an occasional slice. We’re all about slices now, ‘cause you gotta take a little break now and then and call up your friend and say, “Hey, ya wanna meet for a slice?”

And a slice is nice, real nice, but Laney sometimes needs more than a slice to get her through the muddle, and one night at her neighborhood restaurant, The Sliceria, she found just the cure.

It was a Tuesday, much like any other Tuesday, except it was sorta special because she and her friend, Lil Bea, had decided to just drop everything they were doing and meet down at The Sliceria for a delicious slice of eggplant pizza around 8 p.m. It was kinda crowded for a Tuesday. In fact, there was only one table free and the hostess just grinned and said, "You guys look tired. You been working hard?"

“Of course,” they said in unison.

"We're lucky," Laney explained, "that we even have jobs."

“Well, you’re in the right place now,” the hostess says, “and you’re just in time. “

Lil Bea got all excited, because Lil Bea loves being on time and secretly loves being rewarded for the politeness that comes so natural to Lil Bea. “We’re just on time, Laney,” Lil Bea said. “I wonder what we’re gonna get?”

“I think they’re gonna try to sell us a time share,” she told Lil Bea.

“I’m kinda in the market for one!” Lil Bea said, laughing.

Minutes after they’d been seated at the only remaining table, the crowd began counting down really loudly …. 59, 58, 57, 56 …. They were all going mad and swirling around and hugging and kissing one another like it was New Year’s Eve or something. Laney and Lil Bea were mesmerized by all the totally unexpected excitement they’d encountered, yet slightly uncomfortable and a little cautious, feeling like they’d walked into the middle of some weird yet joyous cult meeting. But the people didn’t look like cult members. Most were just wearing shorts or jeans and some were in work duds still, like mechanic uniforms with those little name patches on them. Others were wearing business suits and still madly chatting on cell phones about work. When the countdown got to one, someone yelled “Drop!” and the swirling stopped and everyone dropped to the floor in dead silence as though they had fallen into a very deep sleep. Everyone except Laney and Lil Bea, that is, who were still in some kinda shock.

That’s when this really sweet-looking old lady with a big purse and wearing a headscarf and curlers, emerged and looked dead into the eyes of Laney and Lil Bea and said …. “Did you not hear the announcement? I SAID everyone is to drop!!!!”

Laney and Lil Bea looked at each other with wild amusement, shrugged their shoulders and threw themselves to the floor and closed their eyes but each kept opening one of them to look at the other and trying not to laugh real hard. I mean, really, they went for a slice and now they’re on the floor, and they don’t even really know why, but something about the whole thing makes them want to laugh really hard. Both knew they could probably pull off not laughing if they didn’t look at each other … but then the laughter started to ooze out of Laney and then Lil Bea started laughing at her, and the next thing you know, they’re hysterical and others are laughing real hard too.

Then the old lady said, “OK! It’s 8:08 at The Sliceria, and you know what that means. Do the Lemon Drop!!!!”. Everyone jumped up and started dancing about wildly and flailing their arms and laughing really, really hard for about 3 minutes … and then everyone just drifted back to their seats and servers started swirling around and handing out little tiny glasses of what looked like lemonade … and saying happy things like “Bottoms Up!” and “Make Lemons Out of Lemonade!”

Laney and Lil Bea were speechless, which is a rarity, especially for Lil Bea.

Then some character dressed as a giant Lime started playing a cello …. Afterwards, she took a deep breath and said “I guess some of you might be wondering what the hell we’re doing here.”

Lots of laughter ensued. “Truth is,” she says, “We’re just fed up with working all the time. Do ya feel it?” she asked. “Yes!!!!” people shouted loudly. “Then say it!!” she yelled. “Say it!”

People started yelling, “I am FED UP!”


“FED UP!” they yelled.


This time Laney and Lil Bea joined in, raising their tiny little Lemonade glasses into the air and yelling: “Fed Up!”

The servers continued bringing around those little tiny glasses of Lemonade … and Laney was loving them. The giant Lime raised her glass, too and said Limonnnnnnn Cellooooooooo. Everyone started chanting “Limon Cello! Limon Cello!” Eventually things quieted down and the ever-popular Lime Lady said “Look, don’t be letting nobody tell you that ya don’t have a right to complain about this hand they’re dealin’ ya, that you’re supposed to just go around feeling lucky for the privilege of doing twice as much work for the same pay. This is your life that’s passing you by and ya know what that is? It’s bullshit. Can ya say it? Yes, we can!!!” Everyone started yelling “Bull shit!!!!”

“This is fun!” Laney told Lil Bea.

Then the Lime’s voice went from assertive to to sorta soothing, and she says “I know, my children, I been there and I lived it, and I know you gotta do what ya gotta do to pay those bills, but you also gotta come together on this and you gotta call it what it is!!!! Don’t let nobody take that away from you. And do the best you can to get out from under it, because y’all know you ain’t just here for a slice. Ya came here ‘cause you need to get out from under it, and you need to come together, and talk and you need to pile those worries outside the door and FREE your mind. I said FREE your mind of the bullshit of those big corporations that have you under their thumb ... ‘cause honey, you might be seeing less for-sale signs and you might be hearing that things are changing, but big old corporations have realized they can treat ya like poo now and that you are gonna put up with it and pretend to feel lucky to do so. Am I right? You all been pretending?”

“Alleluia!” yelled Lil Bea, who leaped from the table hands in air.

“Sit down,” said Laney who was now laughing cause Lil Bea actually had a cushy job and didn’t even have to work unpaid overtime.

“Sorry, got caught up in the moment,” Lil Bea said.

“Go head and tell me I don’t know,” the big green Lime continued. “I was once one of y’all professionals, and now I’m a freaking 53-year-year old lime. But I ain’t given up. I am a lime with a line, and I am fine.

“Yes, yes, yes,” the crowd chanted.

“Yes,” she says, closing her eyes as though she was channeling some kinda higher lemon-lime power. “Yes!”

“Thing is,” she said quietly. “I know you all, deep down inside ya there, are angry, but ya don’t show it often, ‘cause ya don’t know what to do with it. You feel sorry for your bosses, even as they fire your asses one by one, and maybe because they have to fire ya one by one … that’s why they keep ya, my little dears, cause you ain’t angry enough. You gotta express that anger and work it on up the chain. Those bosses you feel sorry for … they ain’t feeling sorry for you … they gotta feel your discontent, they gotta know what they’re doing to ya, and yeah, it’s gonna make 'em feel bad, but how bad do y’all feel doing what ya gotta do now? Shit, they don’t even know.”

There were rumblings among the gathered. “”Ya know” she says, “why we do this at 8:08. Cause we know that you know that ya ain’t got no control. You take 8:08 and you do all that work to turn it upside down and whadda ya got? It’s still 8:08, right? And that’s the whole damn problem. You can work so hard and turn the whole damn thing upside down and in the end, whaddaya got. Same damn 808 ya started with. It’s a bitch, ain’t it? But here it was 8:08 tonight and are ya at work? No? Are ya having fun? Yes. Are ya bonding? Yes. That, my little dears, is what it’s all about. So good on ya for taking a step out from under that BS they been feeding ya. Ya feel me?”

“Limon Aid. Limon Aid!” yelled a man in a mechanic suit with a patch that read Billy. “Love the Limon!” he yelled while throwing back his tiny glass of lemonade.

“I ain’t gonna harp on this no more,” the Big Lime said. “I’m just gonna play my cello and offer you some Limoncello, The Happy Lemonade” and I’m gonna ask you to spread the word, spread the relief, ‘cause I believe in you. Ya hear me? I BELIEVE in you.”

Laney felt like she was at some sorta holy roller convention, but the only one that ever made sense to her in her life. She looked over at Lil Bea, who was doing the infamous eye roll, which made her laugh because she knew that even though she and Lil Bea had mad fun together, they did in some ways live on different planets. But she still loved the trademark eye roll anyway, and pretty much everything about Lil Bea, who really was a worker bee trapped in the body of a person with a cushy job.

Lil Bea, even while pretending to be caught up in the moment, recognized the event as crafty marketing from a liquor company, and it ultimately is, but Laney believes in the dedication of that giant Lime, and knows that lime is working for a living too., and that having to dress as a giant lime at the age of 50-something can’t be easy. But she’s trying to make it work, to use her position for good, to gather the masses to rise up together and yell a big loud resounding “No!” Maybe they can’t change the world … but it’s nice to have a place where people can come and be themselves for awhile and not have to pretend like everything is OK all the time when it clearly is not.

Laney began thinking about how she could carry that into her job too, to incorporate a little of that spirit. She began making a little more room for the limelight … Now on certain nights of the week, she just stops working, lights candles and drinks tiny glasses of Limoncello while listening to songs by The Lemonheads and dreaming of a better life. She finds it easier these days to feel more open to new ideas and to forget about all the struggles everyone is going through.

Then one night, Laney was down at her local supermarket and the cashier and a customer were having a conversation about the state of the economy and all the people in their families who weren’t working now because they’d lost their jobs. So the customer said, “Yeah, I’m driving an ice cream truck to make ends meet.” The cashier responded that her husband was also driving an ice cream truck now. Laney got to thinking about how even in times like these when people had to work two or three jobs, kids and adults are still chasing down ice cream trucks because we all need a little comfort.

Laney got to thinking about a late night Limoncello Sno-Cone truck for adults, so that she could help spread the word of the Lime and to comfort the stress-out and overworked and give people something to look forward to … Instead of that silly ice cream truck music, the Lime-mobile would just play music by The Lemonheads

While her nightly activities don’t get her health insurance or even pay the bills, the late-night venture she dreamed up by candlelight while drinking The Happy Lemonade is more fulfilling than she ever imagined it could be. Mostly it’s made her dream again of the many possibilities life has to offer.

This is how Laney became a full-fledged member of the Church of The Happy Lemonade. Laney calls it the Kool-Aid alternative and when she parks the Lime-mobile in a neighborhood, it becomes a gathering place for the overworked masses in need of Happy Lemonade Sno-cones. Those who gather have begun swapping stories about their lives and talking long after the Happy Lemonade Lady has driven off into the night.

Lemons and limes are driving Laney’s life in a better direction now. Call it inspiration in its purest freshest Lemony form. She considers it a vocation, a calling of sorts … to provide a place where the tired and the hungry and the stressed can slurp up sweet cold confections, and consider ways to eliminate the BS, and make their lives all shiny and new again.

Deep inside, that’s all everyone really wants … for their lives to be shiny and new again.

Laney has been dropped at Carcione's Pizzeria in Southland Shopping Center on State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. They serve up a nice little slice and seem to cater to the hard-working masses. Laney is in the restroom, hiding in a box of bleach, trying not to laugh.

For the record, Laney is a made-up name and any resemblance she might bear to someone dressed as a Giant Lime rolling down your street late at night in a Sno-Cone truck that’s blaring Lemonheads is completely coincidental. Besides, everyone knows that Limoncello Sno-cones are completely illegal without proper licensure, and Laney can’t afford all that … so obviously she is NOT driving a Limoncello Sno-Cone Truck. Definitely not.