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

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

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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!

 

Rickenbacker Fish Company November 9, 2011

Filed under: Food,Life,Personal,Photography — Lulu @ 12:11 pm

(Warning: Photo heavy post.)

 

The boy and I had another great dining experience, thanks to Groupon. I love that these coupon sites, like Groupon and Living Social, give us the opportunity to try out restaurants and activities that we may not have known about otherwise.

 

This time we got to try out Rickenbacker Fish Company, located right on the water on the Rickenbacker Causeway. We arrived at around 5PM and, because the weather was so nice and it was not hot or humid, opted to sit outside on the patio. We had a really nice view from our table.

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This year I am participating in the “Shades of Summer” project on Liz K.’s blog. (Info on the project: Liz purchases a few pairs of the same sunglasses every summer and mails them out to participants who signed up ahead of time. The participants then take a photo of themselves wearing the glasses, email the picture to Elizabeth, then mail the glasses to the next person on the list, and so on. Once she receives all the photos from participants, Liz will post them on her blog.)  These were the glasses I received in the mail and, really, what better backdrop for a photo, right?

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We arrived during Happy Hour so we got to take advantage of the 2-for-1 drink specials. They didn’t have Blue Moon, but Key West Sunset Ale was a pretty nice substitute.

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I really can’t get enough of this view. This is what’s known as a “Chamber of Commerce photo.” Perfect weather, perfect setting, perfect ambiance.

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Let me point out that this appetizer is not chicken wings. They are huge, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp, with a BBQ glaze. And they were DELICIOUS!  We could’ve eaten about 20 each, they were that good. We also ordered a really yummy tomato and basil bruschetta, but I forgot to take a picture. Trust me, it was great.

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I ordered a blackened Mahi sandwich, which was nicely prepared, albeit a little too spicy for me. And typically I don’t really go for french fries but, holy crap, were these good . They were perfectly crispy but not overcooked and had some kind of seasoning we couldn’t figure out. Maybe garlic and crack?? I don’t know but we couldn’t stop eating them.

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The boy ordered the Southern Style Pecan Trout. It was mouth-wateringly delicious. Perfectly prepared, flaky but not dry, flavorful but not overly seasoned. The mashed potatoes were creamy and had a light garlicky flavor. He almost licked the plate, his meal was that fantastic.

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We were way too stuffed to enjoy dessert, but maybe next time. (Oh, yes; there will definitely be a next time.)

 

Thanks to our Groupon we enjoyed a meal that would typically have cost around $70 for about $25 plus tip (we always tip on the full amount sans coupon). But we both agreed that even without the Groupon, the overall experience – the setting, the food, the service – is definitely worth the full price and we wouldn’t mind paying such.

 

This was a ‘just because’ shot I took when we were leaving.

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And just some fun trivia to end this post… When the manager came over to the table to scan our Groupon, we got to talking and he mentioned that “The Glades” – one of our favorite TV shows – had actually filmed a scene in almost exactly the same spot where we were sitting. I actually checked when I got home and found the clip online. Here’s a screen shot:

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So if you happen to find yourself in the Brickell/Rickenbacker/Key Biscayne area, I definitely recommend you check out Rickenbacker Fish Company. It’s so worth it.

 

That’s it for now. Peace out, yo!

 

Best Surprise Ever! September 26, 2011

Filed under: Life,Personal — Lulu @ 2:07 am

So this was totally going to be a post about the Blink 182 concert Fanless and I went to on Friday night. But then this happened…

 

 

The story: My sister called me on Wednesday night to ask if I had weekend plans. I told her we were going to a concert on Friday night, but nothing else was going on. She then told me that my cousin, Tommy, was going to have the family over on Saturday afternoon to celebrate my aunt’s (my mom’s sister) 75th birthday. I told her we would try to make it if we weren’t too exhausted from Friday night. Then she said “Oh, Pepi and Julie (my cousin that lives in Tennessee – Tommy’s brother – and his wife, whom I adore) are flying in and they want to see you.”

 

On Saturday morning I told Fanless that I really didn’t want to go to the birthday party because I was so, SOOO tired from the night before. The concert had been held at the Cruzan Amphitheater, an hour away from us, so by the time we got out of there, got something to eat afterwards and got back home to SoBe, it was almost 3:00AM. I could barely open my eyes on Saturday.

 

But the more I thought about it, the more I was like “no, we have to go. I want to see my cousin (turns out he came alone because his wife had to work) and it’s my aunt’s 75th birthday. We have to go. No excuses.” So we got ready and headed out. When I got to the house and parked the car, I heard my cell phone ringing in my purse. I pulled it out and saw I had three missed calls from my sister. I turned to Fanless with an annoyed look and said “why is she calling me so much? I told her I’d come.” So I open the front door to the house and my sister is standing there and she’s like “HI!!!” and gives me a long hug. She was very happy. Like super-duper EXTRA happy. In my head I was like “WTH is wrong with her?” (She was acting weird, is what I’m saying.)

 

Anyway, next I say hello to my brother-in-law, then I see my aunt and I wish her a happy birthday and give her a hug, then said hi to Tommy’s wife, Marcy. Okay, so at that moment I’m talking to Marcy and I look over towards the hallway behind the dining room and I see my mom. Except in my head my mom is in Panama. So this entire thought process went through my head in about 2.2 seconds:

“Hey, that’s looks like my mom. But my mom is in Panama. So that’s not my mom. That’s my aunt. No, wait. My aunt is standing next to me. I just said hi to her. Oh hey, look. That’s my dad.  I guess my parents are here… Wait, what???… HOLY SHIT!!! MY PARENTS ARE HERE!!!!”

I know the video above is crappy (my cousin shot it on his phone and when he sent it to me it got compressed which downgraded the quality), but if you watch it again, you can see the exact moment that I did a double take and had the train of thought above. It’s pretty funny. And I got pretty emotional because even though my mom has come to visit a few times, I haven’t seen my dad since they moved in July of 2008. It was when I saw him that I really freaked out.

 

My parents are going to be here for two whole months because my dad has to have cataract surgery, which he has been putting off since before they moved, and go through the recovery and follow-up and all that. My sister and her husband have a trip to Panama planned for November, so my parents will fly back with them at that time.

 

As I told Fanless as we were leaving Tommy’s house that night, “Wow, that was the best surprise ever! I don’t think anything could top that.” To which he replied, “Yeah, that was a pretty good one!”

 

And here are a few photos.

 

My dad and me.

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L-R: Pepi, my aunt, Tommy, Marcy, Marcy’s parents and brother (my sister’s ex-husband).

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Pepi and me. We’re each other’s favorite cousin.

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My aunt and her boys.

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My parents and my niece.

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So that’s it for now. Peace out, yo!

 

Yankee Doodle Dandy July 5, 2011

Filed under: Life,Personal,Photography — Lulu @ 4:12 pm

The boy and I have an Independence day tradition of heading over to Ocean Drive, on South Beach, to watch the fireworks from the sand. This year, we skipped the free jazz concert beforehand and headed straight to the sand in order to secure a good spot at the front of the crowd.

 

See? Crowd…

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Front of crowd… =)

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As usual, I took about 200 pictures and maybe 10 were usable… after a LOT of Photoshop. Man, fireworks are tough!

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I really like the next four, if only for the cool effect the red glow gives off. Plus, I like that you can see the sand and buildings towards the bottom of the pictures.

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(Below is a short video I shot of the fireworks. You may want to lower your volume at around 00:09 in. You’ll see why.)

 

 

Hope everyone had a very safe and happy Independence Day weekend!

 

Peace out, yo!

 

Getting to Know me June 17, 2011

Filed under: Miscellany,Personal — Lulu @ 11:57 pm

Because why not?

  1. Name: Lou, Lulu, Balou, lady, devil woman… the list is endless
  2. Birthday:  July 17th
  3. Sign: Cancer
  4. Favorite food: pad thai
  5. Favorite drink: Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke
  6. Favorite color: pink, lime green, black and white
  7. Favorite song this week: “Erase/Rewind” by The Cardigans 
  8. Favorite outfit: since I’m usually at home it’s typically shorts or leggings, tank or t-shirt, and socks
  9. Hobbies: scrapbooking, photography, book club
  10. Guilty pleasures: venti non-fat white mocha latté from Starbucks
  11. Last dream you remember: I don’t remember my dreams that often
  12. What comes to mind when i say cabbage: cole slaw?
  13. Have you ever met a celebrity: Yes; Carlos Mencia, George Lopez, Gabriel Iglesias, DL Hughley, Jamie Kennedy and Godfrey (a couple of my friends are stand-up comics and when I used to hang out with them at comedy clubs I’d get to meet the headliners)
  14. Favorite (new) blog:
  15. Secret celebrity crush: Alex O’Laughlin, but it’s not really a secret
  16. Favorite gadget: My camera and laptop
  17. Three things you can’t live without: oxygen, food and water?
  18. Favorite harry potter character: I don’t read/watch HP
  19. Play any instruments: no
  20. Best book you’ve ever read: Recently, “The Help”. I couldn’t put it down.
  21. Favorite quotation:  “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” – Agnes Repplier
  22. Favorite rainy day activity: Staying in bed and watching movies, reading or scrapbooking
  23. What do you do when you’re stressed: cry
  24. Favorite time of the year: Winter in Washington. It’s the only time I get to have straight hair and not be sweaty when I go outside.
  25. Tattoos: I have 3
  26. Favorite animal: penguins and polar bears
  27. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter: Both
  28. Foreign countries you’ve visited: Mexico, Virgin Islands, Bahamas
  29. Favorite candy: sweetarts and reese’s cups
  30. Cake or pie: red velvet cake
  31. Favorite holiday: whichever one gives me a day off work
  32. Favorite flower: gerbera daisies