Searching for Normalcy

"And finally, above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art…" – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Pride April 15, 2012

Filed under: Life,Photography — Lulu @ 5:18 pm

**WARNING: SUPER photo heavy.**

 

The boy and I walked down to Ocean Drive this morning to check out the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, so here are some of the 10 bajillion pictures I took.

 

The parade was kicked off by the Stonewall Knights motorcycle club.

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Roller derby chicks and minotaurs(??).

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Conga band leading the Discotekka float.

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They’re like big, colorful birds. So pretty.

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Pride Marching Band. They were playing Abba’s “Dancing Queen”! =)

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Mi gente! (ie, cubans)

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At first I thought that said “Big Gay Bus.”

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I am not embarrassed to admit that I got teary-eyed when the Legacy Couples went by. Some of these people have been together as long as my parents have. And much longer than most straight couples I know.

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The Miami Gay Men’s Chorus. They were singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” hence the crib.

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The bears.

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I told the boy that this is totally how I see him: a hot guy with a beard and a nice butt! 😉

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My camera decided to refocus right as Grand Marshal, Chaz Bono, was riding by.

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I really liked the Score float.

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Gratuitous butt shot and more roller derby chicks.

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The Catalina Hotel and the Stonewall Museum.

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The Donkey Show (yeah, I don’t know) and Twist nightclub.

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The PB Boys (?) and the dancers from Swinging Richards (I’m told it’s a strip club).

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There were two more floats after this but I didn’t get pictures because my battery died and I was starting to get heat stroke, so we came back home.

 

That’s it for now. Peace out, yo!

 

FOUR April 11, 2012

Filed under: Life,Personal — Lulu @ 7:00 am

Four years.

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Four years of…

Inside jokes.

Laughing hysterically.

Discovering new restaurants.

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Silly disagreements.

Making up.

Countless concerts.

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Hospital visits.

Road trips.

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Birthdays.

Holidays.

Weddings.

Spending time with family.

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Movies.

Lazy Sundays.

Trips to Washington.

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The Space Needle.

Grandma & Grandpa’s farm.

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Meeting new friends.

Doing the tourist thing.

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Nerdy podcasts.

Supercross.

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Nascar and F1 races.

Football, basketball and hockey.

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Hanging out with friends.

Hugs and kisses and “I’m sorry”s and “I love you”s.

 

Four awesome years together… and hoping for 40 more…

Week 3

 

TAPS we are not* February 25, 2012

Filed under: Life,Personal,Photography — Lulu @ 4:43 pm

We had another Groupon-fueled outing last night. This time it was a Ghost Tour in Coconut Grove that we had purchased as a 2-for-1 Groupon. We met up with the other participants and the tour guide in front of the Coconut Grove Playhouse just a little before 8:00PM to begin our two-hour walking tour.

 

The tour started with our guide, Sandy, sharing some historical information about the playhouse and the Grove area in general. Supposedly, there are happy ghosts haunting the playhouse due to the energy lines running through this location. Okay.

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We then heard a story about the original settlers in Coconut Grove and how there is an anthropologically documented 10,000-year-old path that runs through the Grove and, because of said path, there are a lot of indigenous spirits in the area.

 

Across the street from the playhouse is a limestone wall that backs some private residences, and there is a story about a ghost that hangs out on the sidewalk and leans against the wall. He is said to sometimes show up in pictures. Do you see him?? Yeah, me neither.

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Just a shot of the banyan trees that seem to grow right out of that limestone wall and a spooky dark street. (Just kidding; we were actually standing across the street from El Sitio restaurant and bar. Hardly spooky at all.)

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This hair salon (formerly Arush, and now under new management as an AVEDA salon) is rumoured to house a couple of different ghosts, one of which is named Sarah. Yeah, I didn’t see anything either.

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This is a park on McFarlane Road that contains “a lot of spirit energy.” There have been claims of people seeing orbs and finding images of cherubim and child-like spirits in their photos. Again, I saw nothing.

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Now this is actually pretty neat. The oldest marked grave in Miami, belonging to Eva Amelia Munroe, is actually smack in front of a library and right in between a couple of restaurants on McFarlane Road. Who would’ve thunk it?? An actual grave in the middle of a commercial street. Pretty kooky, yeah?

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While we were a little disappointed to not see anything even remotely “ghostie” or paranormal (I would categorize myself as 50% believer/50% skeptic), we did enjoy ourselves. The weather was pleasant, the tour was interesting, and Sandy was very nice and seemed quite knowledgeable about the history of Coconut Grove.

 

After the tour we left the Grove and headed over to Titanic Brewery and Restaurant on the UM campus for a late dinner. (The obligatory “babe, picture!” picture. He looks drunk because he was trying to make a face and I tickled him right as I took the picture.)

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I had the Shrimp and Grits with andouille sausage and tasso ham. Delicious, but VERY spicy. The boy had Cedar Salmon with a rum and molasses glaze, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. His fish was fantastically good.

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All in all it was a fun date night. Peace out, yo!

 

*  TAPS = The Atlantic Paranormal Society, aka the crew of “Ghost Hunters” on SyFy.

 

in with the new January 2, 2012

Filed under: Life,Personal — Lulu @ 6:32 pm

I’ve always heard that what you are doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’ll be doing in the coming year. If that is true, then 2012 should end up being a pretty good year.

 

This New Year’s Eve we attended a birthday party hosted by our friends, the Deans, for their daughter who turned one year old. We hung out for a bit, enjoyed some good food and conversation, sang “Happy Birthday” to a very cute – and bewildered – baby, ate some delicious chocolate cake, and took home a personalized Mickey Mouse notebook and placemat (yes, I received the same favors as all the little kids at the party, because the baby’s mom knew I would appreciate them; I thought that was pretty funny.)

 

After the birthday party, we headed over to spend the rest of the evening with the Beightol family, who were visiting from Washington. They were staying at Kim’s parents’ new house, and her mom had invited us to ring in the New Year with them.

 

The thing about the Beightols – and their extended family – is that, to me, they feel more like family than friends. I genuinely love them all and I always feel so welcomed in their homes. Kim’s mom, Rachel, always greets me with hugs and kisses and excitement to see me, just as my own mom would. They love to feed everyone and make sure everyone is having fun. All the kids call us Aunt Lulu and Uncle Christian, and I got tons of wet, sugary kisses and sticky-fingered hugs that night.

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After the other guests had departed and the only ones left were the family and the two of us, we settled down in the family room to watch the ball drop on TV. The adults stood around waiting for the 10-second countdown to mark the start of a new year, while some of the kids laid on the couches, in various stages of sleep.

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At the stroke of midnight EST, we all exclaimed “Happy New Year” in excited whispers – as to not wake the sleeping kiddies – hugged and kissed and wished each other all the best for the coming year. And more than once I thought to myself how glad I was to be there in that moment. How lucky we were to have these kind, generous, loving people in our lives.

 

We had been invited to spend the night and the next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of Filipino fried rice and eggs. The little girls watched “Kung Fu Panda” and twirled around in their PJs and ballerina tutus, while the grownups chatted. Afterwards, the boy gave Mia a hand as she helped Nana Rachel put away her Christmas decorations.

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We said our goodbyes shortly after and, following a quick stop at Best Buy, headed to Joe’s Crab Shack for a late lunch. This picture cracks me up!

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Coconut shrimp and hush puppies for me. Spicy dungeness crab, corn and potatoes for him.

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2011 was a pretty disappointing year for us. Just a lot of random bad luck and negativity that seemed to pile up at the worst times. But if the first day of 2012 is any indication, I’m hopeful that this year will bring good things for us. We have a lot of plans for the year and  a lot of changes in store. Here’s to hoping it all works out.

 

Happy 2012 and peace out, yo!

 

Weekend in the keys – Part 3 December 21, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 1:01 am

When we left the Hemingway House, we walked right past the Key West Lighthouse, which was built in 1847. It was about 4:30PM and they close at 5PM. If we’d had more time, I would have loved to have toured the inside.

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We kept walking down the street to the buoy at the Southernmost Point. I’d been there once before, but there was such a crowd of people I couldn’t get close enough to take a picture. This time there was a short line of folks waiting to be photographed in front of it. We waited about 10 minutes for our turn.

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Cuba is that way. Oh, hey, I think I see my uncle! Hola, Tio!  We wanted to head over to Duval Street for a bit and didn’t want to wait around too long for the full-on sunset, but this was good enough to get the sense of it.

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We were walking down Duval when we caught a glimpse of a guy in a spangly tank top and short shorts singing karaoke in this bar – 801 Bourbon Bar – so, of course, we had to check it out. This place was great! Old queens, karaoke and beer? Hell, yeah!

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Can I just say I am completely jealous of the phenomenal butt and legs on this guy??

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After 801 Bourbon Bar, we headed to Sloppy Joe’s.

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We decided to order some appetizers at Sloppy Joe’s since we were getting pretty hungry by that point. We ordered arepas, conch chowder and hot, salted pretzels. That hit the spot perfectly. There was a great latin salsa band playing which lent a very festive, fun air to the place.

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After Sloppy Joe’s, we walked a little further down to the Hog’s Breath Saloon where we each had one of their signature beers.

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I had completely forgotten to take any pictures of the two of us together until this point.

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We finished up the night at Irish Kevin’s Bar. We were actually walking back to the car to leave when we heard this guy (John Solinski) singing and he totally brought us in off the street. Like the Pied Piper of adult drinking establishments or something! He was really great and very entertaining. I wish we’d had more time to hang out here, but we had a long way to drive home so we had to call it a night.

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And that’s about it for our weekend in the Keys. We had a lot of fun and it was nice to get away for a little bit.

 

Peace out, yo!

 

Weekend in the Keys – Part 2 December 20, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 1:01 am

Key West residents are known for being eccentric.  If the Christmas décor of this house is any indication, I would say that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Just around the corner from this house was a little secondhand bookstore so, of course, I had to stop in. I practiced restraint and only got one book and a handful of vintage-y postcards.

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Our next stop was The Hemingway House Museum. The boy wanted to see it and, although I had been there before, I was happy to tour the home again.

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All of the furniture is original to the home during the time that Hemingway lived there.

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Hemingway’s 2nd wife, Pauline, replaced all the ceiling fans in the house with these chandeliers. The headboard of the master bed is actually a gate from a 17th century Spanish monastery.

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The kitty fountain (for the almost 50 polydactyl – six-toed – cats that live on the property) was built in 1933 and is made from an olive jar imported from Cuba and… a discarded urinal from the original Sloppy Joe’s Bar!

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Pauline had the pool built to surprise Hemingway. It cost $20,000. Surprise!

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Hemingway’s writing studio, preserved as it was originally, including his chair, table and 1920s Royal manual typewriter.

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Family photos and the master bath.

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Close-up of the floor tiles and the family’s personal book collection.

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Memorabilia from the family’s personal archives and the kitchen.

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Part 3 coming up soon…

 

weekend in the Keys – Part 1 December 19, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 3:43 pm

The boy and I were supposed to go to the Florida Keys for his birthday weekend in November. Unfortunately, he had a bout of shingles in late October which resulted in me contracting the chicken pox in November, so we had to postpone our trip until this past weekend.

 

We spent the night at the Tavernier Hotel in Tavernier, FL. This place is super cute. Very quaint. And the owner was fantastic about letting me change the date of our stay at the last minute. She didn’t even charge a penalty or anything. IMG_8582

The first thing Fanless did was check the wireless internet connection. It ended up being 3x faster than what he has at home.

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The funky tile in our shower. One of my friends pointed out that it looks like Tetris. =)

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We drove to the Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet in Islamorada for dinner. I had been there about 10 years prior and remembered it being really good. For some reason, I found it to be very disappointing this time around. Oh well. After dinner we walked around back to check out the marina.

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We ended up stopping into Wahoo’s Bar & Grill next door to have a beer before heading back to the hotel. The place is really nice but it was dead. We were the only two people sitting at the inside bar, and there were maybe 8 or 10 people seated on the back deck.

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Key West Sunset Ale.

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The following morning we got back on the Overseas Highway and headed south to Key West.

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Even though I don’t swim, I still love the ocean (Cancer is a water sign, after all). I just love the beauty and calm of it. I know that is probably the thing I will miss most about Florida when we move to eastern Washington. Driving south on the Overseas Highway, you have the Atlantic Ocean on the left and the Gulf of Mexico on the right.

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We decided to stop for lunch at Porky’s Bayside. This place is super funky and eclectic, the food was good and the service was efficient and friendly.

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They even let you write on the walls! We left our mark.

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Enjoying the view while waiting for our lunch.

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I had the pulled smoked pork sandwich with sweet potato fries and coleslaw. Fanless had the same but with onion rings instead.

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The power of the internet: Fanless checked us in on Foursquare and one of the comments someone had left for Porky’s was “you have to try the Fried Key Lime Pie.” So we did. It was the bomb-diggity! And I don’t even like Key Lime Pie, so that says a lot about how good it was.

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Part 2 coming up soon…