Here vs. There

In July, I moved from a big city in Florida to a smaller-ish Midwestern town. Since being here, I’ve noticed some slight differences between the two locations.

Here: People smile and wave at you.

There: People give you the finger and steal your parking spots.

Here: Locals talk about having to go “way on the other side of town” which, literally, takes all of 15 minutes. It’s like they feel the need to pack a suitcase, load up the covered wagon with food and water for the treacherous 6-mile journey all the way out to the Westside Walmart.

There: A trip from one side of Orlando to the other consists of  hour-long traffic jam delays, stopping to pay $.75 every 2 miles, mapping alternate routes due to construction zones that are NEVER manned by actual workers, road rage, running out of gas because your car’s air conditioning has just sucked all lifeforce out of the tank, not to mention encountering some of the most incompetent,  inept, idiodic, incapable, inexpert drivers ever created in the history of the world.

Here: I need coats, sweaters, jackets, gloves, hats, scarves.

There: I needed a gun.

Here: The main thoroughfare through town is called Lloyd Expressway. There are traffic lights and no toll booths. If you happen to get caught by a light, you’ll not sit through more than one cycle, ever. I’ve been on “The Lloyd” at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon in a construction zone and didn’t spend more than 5 extra minutes.

lloyd-traffic1

There: The 5 main highway arteries through Metro Orlando are the Turnpike, the 408, the 417, the Beachline and I-4 (dubiously nicknamed “Die Four” due to its numerous fatal accidents.) As the first four are toll roads, a personal loan approval prior to use is usually required. The 5th, well, let’s just say you’d rather jam rusty nails in your eyes before attempting a commute upon its cracked, bloody pavement.

tb_i4wreck2_420

Here: Me: “Hi, I’m new to town and just bought a house. I need to set up service.” Local utility company: “Well, welcome to Evansville!!! We’re so happy to have you here. Service should be on now. There’s no charge. Have a wonderful day!”

There: Upon calling the local utilities company to transfer service from one name to another, I was told it would cost $250 (regardless of my steller payment history, 12 years of exisiting service and exemplary credit), that they would not be able to complete the transfer for 7 working days and that they required a vile of the blood of my 1st unborn son.

Here:

Sale price – $100,000

l4f79b241-m0xThis immaculate 3 bedroom, 2 full bath home sits on a qreat cul-de-sac lot with a mature tree line in the back! Features include: ceramic tiled eat-in kitchen, large master with walk-in closet and master bath. This open floor plan has french doors off of the great room leading to the new 12 x 12 sunroom overlooking the fenced area and landscaping! There is a new smooth top range, refrigerator, dishwasher, all window treatment, washer and dryer, and yard barn included with this home that is located close to Toyota, great schools, and upscale shopping!

There:

Sale price – $100,000

l2d53d541-m0mSmoke alarm, carpet/vinyl, in city limits, sidewalk, close to bus line.

 

A sampling of local news articles…

Here:

LST offers veterans free breakfast Tuesday

UE nursing school receives cultural awareness grant

Mead Johnson sees many opportunities at new center

There:

Suspect in rape and beating of woman, 70, worked for victim’s daughter

Woman sentenced to 8 months in jail for leaving dog to die in locked crate

Jail releases video of Casey Anthony’s family visits

Here: Reaction from people when I tell them I moved here from Orlando

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There: Reaction from people when I told them I was moving to Evansville, IN

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Am I saying that my new town is perfect? Not at all. But it has been nice to leave the bullet proof vest at home when I want to catch a movie at my local theater (Here: $6, commute: 30 seconds. There: $12, commute: 30 mins. )

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111 Things For Which I Am Grateful

1. Nivea

2. Dumb jokes & juvenile pranks

3. Garage door openers

4. Adjustable desk chairs

5. Allergy nasal spray

5. Cell phones

6. Cheaper gas

7. Honda for installing heated seats

8. Willow trees

9. Fenced yards

10. Leaves that change color

11. No chip nail polish

12. Tile floors

13. Good recipes

14. In house laundry rooms

15. Hydrogen peroxide

16. Incubus

17. Starbucks mocha lattes

18. Papillons

19. My mom

20. Monopoly

21. Up Yours

22. Nancy Grace

23. Animal shelter volunteers

24. Luke’s wit

25. Coffee in all its forms

26. Informed & knowledgable locals

27. Genetics

28. Gleem toothpaste

29. Lifelong friends

30. Sisters

31. Ion hair color

32. Chapstick

33. Ipods

34. Patience and understanding

35. Good grammar

36. Wide width shoes

37. All the wells that are Green

38. Brothers who will learn

39. Door dispensing ice

40. John Grisham and Dean Koontz

41. Border collie mixes

42. My dad

43. Tweezers

44. The mute button

45. Finance companies

46. Indiglo watches

47. Jumbo

48. Aldi

49. Waterfalls

50. Woman’s intuition

51. Open windows

52. Accuview contact lenses

53. Sushi chefs

54. Greeting cards in the mail

55. Colorful flowers from Buy Low

56. Scarecrows

57. Countrywide home mortgages

58. My childhood

59. Budget truck rental

60. Undying loyalty

61. Reese’s peanut butter cups

62. Steve Carrell

63. Game nights

64. Parody songs

65. Swain’s ex girlfriend

66. White, orange & white, black & white, and grey tabby cats

67. Dartboards at Sportstown

68. Apple orchards

69. Southwest Airlines

70. Birth control

71. Acoustic guitars

72. My last job

73. Compassionate veterinarians

74. Limewire

75. Santa Claus suits

76. Singer sewing machines

77. Backyard patio sets

78. First dates

79. Ikea

80. Vivid dreams

81. Hurricanes losing strength upon hitting land

82. Banana Nut Crunch

83. Stainless steel cookware sets

84. Presidential 2-term limits

85. Train rides

86. My exes

87. Gunts & butterfaces

88. Key West sunsets

89. Kinos

90. Deaf ancestors

90. Mopeds

91. Random acts of goofiness

92. Dimmer switches

93. Satellite radio

94. Finding shapes in clouds

95. Two story houses

96. Letting go & not giving up

97. My right to choose

98. Clotting platelets

99. Adrenaline rushes

100. DVRs

101. People magazine

102. Awards shows

103. Vertigo medicine

104. Low cost gym memberships

105. My distaste of alcohol

106. Hugs and kisses

107. Playing the “shade”

108. The power of denial

109. Electric shavers

110. Not being afraid to love

111. the.luke.ass

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Because You Gotta Have Faith a Faith a Faith ah

A very close friend of mine is a recovering alcoholic. We were having a discussion one day, about a little over a year ago, about AA and the 12 steps. Needing some advice, I asked him how he was able to take control over something that he had no apparent control over for so long. He said one of the main principles when dealing with addiction (or anything troubling you in life) is the theory of letting go or “giving it to God.” As a devout Catholic, he strongly believes in the higher power and that He loves all His children and that He watches over all of us, answers all our prayers, blah blah blah. My friend insists that without his faith, he would never have been able to begin (and continue) on his path to recovery. That’s awesome. For him. I’m not knocking people’s beliefs or what gets you through the night. As long as no one or no animals get hurt in the process, go for it. I’m all for living your own life the way you see fit. You choose to hang from a beam in your ceiling wearing nothing but your grandmother’s nightgown with Cheetos sticking out of your nose? Totally fine. You wanna ride a Harley with no helmut through a hurricane under a full moon while singing La Vida Loca? Right on, more power to you. You want to believe there’s a nice old man with a flowing robe and a long white beard who lives on a cloud in the sky who gives you stuff when you’re good? Whatever tickles your proverbial pickle.

The whole concept of faith and what he was saying was incredibly hard for me to accept. I always felt like if you wanted something badly enough, you just get it, do it, work it. The harder you work at it, the more you’ll appreciate having whatever “it” is in the end. The older and less wise I get, the more I understand everything’s not so black and white. Therefore, in the spirit of being open to new experiences and willing enough to try things I’d never believed in before, I decided to give my friend’s advice a shot. This shit’s not working. I’m having sneaking suspicions that fate is more of a factor than faith ever could be when it comes down to it.

I was never a strong believer in fate. I always thought it was a cop out. When I wanted something, I’d get it. When I wasn’t happy for whatever reason, I’d change it. My destiny and ultimate contentment was completely within my own power. Now I’m doubting. If something is meant to be, will it just be? Can anything be done on our earthly plane to change the path that we’re on? Regardless of what turns we take, what decisions we make, do we end up, ultimately, at a predetermined destination?  What fate says is that individuals are just flitting around with no control over what’s going to happen. That’s a scary concept. That can’t be right. Can it?

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Workin’ For A Livin’

As I’m new to my new town, I had to find a new job after nearly 13 years with my last company. Finding a job has never been an issue for me and I don’t really know why. Maybe I give good first impression. I applied to several positions online at the various job websites. I got 3 interviews and 3 job offers. I chose the one that was 1) closest to my house 2) paid the most 3) offered the best benefits and future for advancement.

As I was going through the interview processes, it occured to me I hadn’t gone on an interview in 13 years. Which is bizarre considering my early work history. It’s not an exagerration to say I changed jobs in my teens and early 20s as often as I filled my car with gas. I, literally, had a different job every couple of weeks. I had become an expert interviewee. I had never been fired from any of these jobs either. I would always just quit. Come to think of it, I never did formally quit…I would just not go back. Such minor instances would set me off. A manager at one of the many restaurants I worked didn’t think the way my hair was pulled back was high enough off my neck. I told him I had a rubberband in my car and that I’d be right back. As I walked to my car I got more and more pissed that he would have the nerve to comment on my chosen do. By the time I got to my car, I just got in it, started it and took off, never to return. This, sadly, was a regular occurance. Well, not that people didn’t like my hair, but that I…eh, I digress.

Amongst the many crappy positions I’ve held, my main sources of income during those early years were waiting tables and bartending. They just fit my lifestyle at the time; flexible hours for school, cash in my pocket nightly, sleep in late or have beach time before the 5pm shift. I had to, at one point, wait for new restaurants to open because I’d already worked every place in town. Really…EVERY place. And Orlando isn’t a small town. Strangely enough, I never did hit the plethora of fast food chains. I suppose I was keeping those in my back pocket for emergencies. Here’s just a sampling of the various companies for whom I worked between the ages of 14 and 22: US Golf, JC Penney, Walt Disney World, Sea World, Fun N Wheels, Universal Studios, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Sizzler, Black Eyed Pea, Wet N Wild, Bill’s Kitchen, The Olde Christmas Shoppe, T-shirt Bizarre, 15-20 different temporary employment agencies, Charley’s Steakhouse, Pleasure Island, Austin’s, Telesat Cable, Peabody Hotel, TGIFriday’s, Oakridge Cafe, The Orlando Sentinel, Installation Network, Damon’s Ribs, Floridan Hotel, Friendly’s, Glamour Shots, Ruby Tuesday’s, Bennigan’s, Trump Casino Atlantic City, Casa Gallardo, Chi Chi’s, Front Row, Chili’s, Alley’s, Tupperware Convention Center, Dillards, Spencer’s, Zales Jeweler’s, Backstage Billiards.

One tax season I had 22 W2 forms come in the mail. I had a wide assortment of non slip shoes, white Izod button down shirts and black pants. All my name tags, attached to my Wet N Wild lifeguard whistle, hung from my car rearview mirror proudly. The term “flare” from Office Space always spurs horrific fond memories for me.
Friends would suggest places to go out, restaurants at which to eat, new clubs to try and they’d always ask me my opinion because they knew I’d already probably worked there and had the inside scoop. One night someone wanted to go to Bennigan’s prior to going out. Once I shared the story about how, during a serving shift, I saw one of the other servers drop a shrimp cocktail on the dirty kitchen floor and go to throw it out only to be berated by the manager yelling, “What are you doing?! Just rinse them off in the sink and get them out there!”, we decided on TGIF instead. The more places I worked, the more limited my dining out options became.

Needless to say, my family was a bit worried. But, I was NEVER without a job…I always worked, always paid my bills. I just got bored quickly, someone would get on my nerves, or something better/different would come up. It was a horrible way to live. I must say, looking back now, I don’t know how I did it. And I don’t know what it was exactly that broke the cycle for me. I must have gotten bored with being bored.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

My name is Dwinn. It’s a weird name. Or, more politely, it’s unusual. If going for complimentary, then it’s unique. As different as it is, apparently it’s deceptively simple. One syllable…D w i n n. Sound’s like “twin” or “schwinn”. I’m constantly amazed at, not only mispronunciations, but at the complete misconceptions I’ve heard throughout my life. Dewayne, Darren, Darlene, Dewon, Derwin, Darwin. I even got a Monika once. Because of years spent in Florida, surrounded by Southerners, I’ve grown accustomed to the 2 syllable version “Duh-winn.”  Growing up with a strange name has been a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, I never have to give my first AND last name when contacting an old high school friend I haven’t talked to in 20 years. When dealing with clients or suppliers at work, I don’t even have to offer my company’s name. ‘Nuff said when “Hi, it’s Dwinn” is uttered. When in social situations, a strange name is usually a pretty decent conversation topic should awkward silences arise. There’s always someone, inevitably, itching to ask “So, how’d you get your name?”

On the upside, I’ve learned to have some fun with it. I’ve developed my own, personal little game to see how many different names I can come up with to give the Starbucks clerks when they’re poised to write my name on an empty Venti Mocha Latte cup. If I’m not feeling particularly creative that day, I normally throw out my backup fakeout “Erin”, my middle name. I have to be careful with that game though. Sometimes memory fails and the clerk will call “Gretchen” 8 times as I sit there like a dufus having forgotten what bogus name I gave 2 minutes earlier. I kind of enjoy the odd looks from hosts and hostesses at restaurants when asked for my name to be put on the waiting list for a table and my stock reply is “Luke”, Swain and faithful dining companion. During my single days, I’d get a kick out of engaging in frivolous conversations with half-wit, drunktards at poolhalls proclaiming “Cleopatra” when asked “Hey, how’s it going? What’s your name?” and launching into a story of how the deceased Egyptian queen is a distant relative. I met Swain at once such place, but he was far from a drunktard. He saw right through my deception and continued to ask for my real name. I told him if it were to be spelled out on a telephone keypad, he’d have to dial 39466. I was impressed when his response was, “How’d you get the name Dwino?”

As entertaining as I try to make it, the sad truth is I’ve missed out on a lot having such a bizarre moniker. Off-the-rack personalized coffee mugs, novelty license plate magnets, barrettes, stationery, mouse pads and the like are all beyond my consumer dollars. Not once have I ever been able to buy a picture frame engraved with “Dwinn” from the shelf. It’s amazing I’ve made it this far without knowing the joy of a Hello Kitty backback scrolled with my name on the pocket. Sigh. During childhood, the other kids would make fun of me with shouting obscenties like “hey, there goes Dwinnie the Pooh.” Bastards. I did get away with skipping days in middle and high school though. The guidance office would always call my parents after work and say “Your son, Dwinn, was not in school today.” When confronted, I’d say “Oh Mom, they obviously got the wrong student. I was there! See, they think I’m a boy…they’re all idiots.”

One of the most traumatizing events happened when I was 5 years old. My passion in life at that time was Raggedy Ann and Andy, fictional characters created in the early 1900’s for a series of children’s books.

I loved them! I had all the Raggedy Ann and Andy products: table mats, cereal bowl, sheets with matching curtains in the room I shared with my brother (he was THRILLED.) My prized possession being a Raggedy Ann rocking chair I got for Christmas. I’d spend hours rocking back and forth reading Raggedy Ann’s Cooking School. One glorious California afternoon, Mom and I set off to the mall upon hearing Raggedy Ann and Andy were going to be signing autographs and taking pictures with local children. My excitement was uncontrollable. We arrived at the mall and hurried in. There they were, right there in real life! I ran up to Raggedy Andy and threw my arms around his big, puffy blue sailor suit. He looked down at me and said, “And what’s your name, little girl?” I lovingly looked up and said, clearly but politely, “Dwinn.” He replied, “Well, hello Dewayne.” Me: “No, it’s Dwinn.” Him: “Oh, I’m sorry Donna”. Me: “NO. It’s DWINN.”  Him: “Oh dear, Dionne?” I punched him in the stomach. Later that day, I replaced all my Raggedy Ann and Andy merchandise with anything and everything Oscar the Grouch. I’m pretty sure that was a pivotal turning point in my personality development.

I have different responses when asked about the origin of my name. Depending on the situation or how long I intend on knowing the person, “Oh, it’s a family name” usually suffices. Upon meeting Swain’s family for the first time, Uncle Matt was the first to inquire about it. Wanting to make a good impression and not come off as some unfriendly snot, I shared the whole story. As a young tot of kindergarten age, my great great grandmother was in school listening to a tale the teacher was reading aloud to the whole class during storytime. A character in the book, as spoken by the teacher, was a little girl named “Dwinn.” My ancestor fell in love with the name. She vowed, then and there, that, if she were to ever have a daughter, that’s what she would call her. My great grandmother was born some 15 years later, coming into the world named Esther Dwinn. Subsequently, her daughter, my grandmother, was Velma Dwinn. My mother then Nancy Dwinn. Why I got it as a first name, I’ll never know. Lucky me. Actually, the story would be quite lovely and quaint if it ended there. Hmph. Years after the 1st Dwinn came into the world, the family was preparing for a reunion. One of the aunts decided it would be great fun to track down the book that was read all those years prior and bring it along. After a prolonged research trek through the local school archives, the story was found. And read. Turns out, there was no character in the book named Dwinn. Evidently, there WAS a term used over and over again…”the wind.” My deaf great great grandmother misheard what the teacher had been saying. What’s interesting to me (and explains a lot about the stubborness of the women in my family) is they continued to name people this ridiculous mistake.

Being the music lover I am, I’ve always wanted to hear my name in song. The closest thing I have is Patrick Swayze’s atrocious “She’s Like the Wind.” Aforementioned Swain is a exceptionally talented songwriter and musician. My numerous requests for a personalized love song have gone unrequited for far too long. Hope springs eternal.

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Hello world!

First entry soon to come. I sure hope it’s a good one.

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