Tag Archives: Florida

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I did not enjoy my visit to the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial at all.

I suppose that’s the point. I doubt anyone leaves a Holocaust memorial thinking, “Wowzers! That was fun!”

But the memorial in Miami Beach is different from others I’ve visited. Whereas others have often made me feel contemplative and solemn, this one horrified me.

I mean that in the strictest sense: I was filled with horror. And I don’t exactly know if that’s what a memorial should do.

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The Miami Beach Botanical Garden was a bit of a disappointment.

I mean, come on! Why do you need a Jurassic Park style gate around it IF THERE’S NO DINOSAURS? Are you worried all the lameness is going to get out?

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Having grown up in Florida, I can tell you that all manner of strange things grow in that state, and that the climate lends itself to being tropical and creepy. I remember once while my mother was gardening, she came across a tiny live turtle which I later gave to my biology teacher (the last time I saw it, many years later in his classroom, it had grown to nearly three times its original size, and had made several turtle friends). Any amount of playing outside would unearth some strange plant, or an even stranger bug, and we’d occasionally have those terrifying conversations with parents where we’d struggle to describe - exactly - the snake we’d seen.

Was it black with red stripes or red with black stripes? We could never say, really, and were often told things like, “Well, maybe you should play inside for the rest of the afternoon.”

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Rand and I went to Miami and Boston for a few days last month. Rather than lug my camera, I decided to just take photos on my cell phone. I’m not entirely sure if I’m pleased with the results. I suspect that I won’t leave my Canon at home again.

Real and faux Art Deco buildings along Miami Beach.

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I moved to Central Florida in the middle of second grade. It would be another several years before I’d visit the southern end of the state, but I remember my first visit there clearly: the boardwalk in Miami, the white sand, an ocean the color of that kids’ gel toothpaste my mother refused to buy us on grounds that it was too expensive.

I remember thinking that it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. Of course, at the time I’d only been on the planet for a decade or so, and I hadn’t really seen that many places. It’s not like I had a lot to choose from.

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Standing in the stall of bathroom on the second floor of Nordstrom’s, I lost it.

I stood, sniffling, as women around me buzzed in and out of stalls, chatting with friends and helping children wash their hands. I tried to compose myself: it wasn’t working. I was holding back the tears, but only barely.

It was stupid, really, when I thought about it. We’d been in the Lego store in Aventura Mall in southern Florida. The friggin Lego store. Not exactly the place you’d imagine would be the site of spite and vitriol. We wandered around with my cousin’s kids, who were excitedly pointing out things that they liked. I pointed to something, and in the process, came within a foot of touching a fellow shopper – a well-dressed middle-aged woman. I did not, I would like to note, actually touch her. But I am sure I interacted with some molecules that later grazed her personal space, and for this, she was not happy.

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In my family, I have six male cousins, all of whom are older than me. Add to the mix my big brother, and I was left the sole girl amongst 7 boys.

They read comics and played Atari, and sometimes I got to watch.

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It is the first Monday of the new year, and I am sure many of you, like me, are in the throes of a rather nasty vacation hangover. I can picture you, wherever you may find yourself (at the office; in a minivan full of children you don’t really know or like; in central holding as you await bail for a crime that you are fairly certain you didn’t commit), an errant piece of tinsel still in your hair, a few crumbs (remnants of a long-ago eaten holiday treat) grazing your lips. You whisper, “I do not want to be here,” but no one responds. Your current fate is now more tortuous than watching a Nick Cage movie marathon.

Or perhaps you are of one the lucky few who has woken up, bright and early, bursting with energy and excitement about all the new year has to offer. In which case I don’t think we can be friends, because you probably also enjoy tetanus shots, jogging, and eating an apple for dessert.

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I like how the marquee reads like a weird birth announcement: "Congratulations! A school!"

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Elementary school was not an easy time for me. I know, you’re shocked, right?

I mean, who wouldn’t want to  be friends with a 70-pound girl with an adult-sized nose? (Quote from my friend Peter: “You must have looked like a pterodactyl.”) Plus, I was awesome. My incomplete Babysitter’s Club book collection, my gender-bending hairstyles, my failed knitting projects (I could make a scarf. Provided your definition of scarf is “a slowly unraveling trapezoid”.)  I only wish I was that cool now.

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It seems so odd that I’m doing a round-up of photos from Florida, of all places. I lived there for years. I might as well do a photo round-up of my own house. Actually, come to think of it, I have done that.

Aaaaaaaand on that note, here’s ten photos from that strange and magical place I used to call home.

  1. I show my enthusiasm for Jews for Jesus. And vacation rentals.
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    I'm also fairly intrigued by Boston Nails and New Wave Fitness.

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  2. I may have screamed when I saw the license plate on the car in front of us – it read “Pastry Chef.”
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    Pardon the quality of this photo. My hands start to shake whenever I think of dessert.

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