Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Biebered

Everything happens in Miami. Just as I’m not looking. Like last night Justin Bieber drag raced below my bedroom window (relatively speaking on the scale and probability of the entire universe, so don’t start outing me with comments that it was several blocks south).

He was nabbed by the Miami Beach police and resisted arrest. They say. But thats what they always say. If you’re not falling into their arms yodeling that you’re sorry, they write on your arrest form that you “resisted arrest.” Hey Bieber was lucky that they didn’t tase him with their favorite gotcha toy ( used on young males of any color, tourists included).

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This happened at 4.13 am (note the 13 and not 10 or 15, that’s one sober cop) and by the time America brushed its teeth and poured its milk into its cereal a mega media story had been launched.

Baby Bieber’s mugshot was on every TV channel, every tweet, FB post looking like someone had told him it was a shoot for Teen.com, or better still a casting call for a cute new lesbian on Orange is the New Black. Smile! And hysterical news casters (inc. the likes of Anderson Cooper) came in their panties analyzing what could possibly have led to the downfall of the young role model to millions. Psychiatrists, lawyers, political analysts and weeping fans were interviewed and their conclusion was, with much head shaking: Bieber suffered from “Impostor Syndrome” and it was merely a cry for help! And where were the Bieber parents? Really, and how could they let this happen?

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Meanwhile Bieber sat in his cell (surrounded by Miami clubbers arrested at LIV for trying to enter the VIP zone) and wondered where his friend God was. After all the credit he’d given to God for his success, tagging him in every tweet, had God really forsaken him in his hour of need? His much needed need to act his age and gender and be invisible while racing a rented Lamborghini on Miami Beach, while just a tiny teensy bit intoxicated?

God? God!

I bet God didn’t even notice. I mean as soon as God focusses his attention on Miami Beach, like sits on a cloud somewhere over South Florida, he sees nothing but yellow (or red) Lamborghinis driving @ 60mph. And when he bothers to zoom in (think Google Earth or Godle Earth),  he sees young testosterone pumped up with performance enhancers like alcohol, codeine and pot (he calls it marijuana, and planted it as an afterthought late on day six, and only for medicinal value) and too much time and money, everywhere.  Like Everywhere. Especially at 4.13 am.

So I imagine God shrugged, made a mental note to send the Devil a text later, asking him to go easy on the young Bieb, and turned his attention back to Chris Christie.

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Meanwhile, we, those who live in Miami Beach, smile and shrug the shrug of knowledge. Like man eats man’s face off? Like tasing a teen artist to death for tagging graffiti? Like a celebrity arrested for acting out? Of course! What do you expect? This is Miami!

And when I drove home last night, yes along Pinetree Drive enjoying its 15 minutes of fame (paparazzi are still hanging out – you know, for when time goes backwards and they’re the first on the scene), I looked over at the trophy wife in a black SUV right next on me. As per habit we stepped on it, raced for the orange light at 41st Street, speedometers hitting the 56mph mark, and made it, perfectly timed, just through red.

What?

What do you expect? This is Miami!

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Stupid Model in Paris is now available on Amazon :

http://www.amazon.com/STUPID-MODEL-Paris-Barbara-Vries-ebook/dp/B00HZ1GH8Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390686886&sr=1-1&keywords=stupid+model+in+paris

 


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How to prepare for a TED talk with the Seinfeld method….

Almost four weeks later and my TED talk is not online.

I practice my ZEN patience and wonder if:

When one does a TED talk and nobody can see it,  is it still is a TED talk?

As I write this I have not seen myself TED talking.

Still.

I am glad it is over.

Was it fun?

Did I do good?

I did terrible in the dress rehearsal. Like really awful, like I wondered if they could fire me.

It was the clock. Right in the middle of the audience, at perfect eye level, is a monitor. It shows the slides or video that is projected behind the speakers so we don’t have to keep turning around to address our images. Its about 3ft by 18″. But I could not really see  because over my pictures there was a giant fluorescent 13 that took up the entire screen. 13 minutes for my talk. Seconds and minutes passing backwards, like the proverbial bomb in James Bond movies and I was James, responsible for saving the world in 13 minutes.

photo: Ilmar Saar

So.

At 8 minutes I thought.

As I was talking my dress rehearsal TED.

I thought. 8? 13 minus 8? Thats is 5 minutes done. Is that all?

Seriously, I did math while I was still speaking. Isn’t it amazing? The gymnastics of which the mind is capable.

Then I worried. Could I fill those 8 minutes?

I lost my train, my momentum and I blanked.

Bluh.

Mouth and head full of cotton wool.

Bluh.

Nothing came to mind. Nothing came out.

Nada.

Was I stupid?

I had felt really stupid late August when I had written my entire talk and started practicing. Almost 2000 words. I did not really memorize, which, as I was told by both husband and Gina from TED, was a bad idea, but I did have an order and a rhythm for what and how I would TED talk.

Besides I had a 13 minute multi-media show which played behind me.

Not that I would talk to slides.

Like manually click them.

I hate that format.

“Oh, and here we have me, at the beach, finding my beach plastic…”

Too much like those family vacation slide shows of our neighbors that my parents sneered at as ever-so bourgeois.

Anyway I was stupid when I started working my TED.

Unable to memorize anything more than one paragraph.

I got advice from everyone.

Do it in the mirror. In the car. Film yourself and play it back. You will be fine, wing it, you  know your stuff , just make it up as you go along…

Right.

I felt so dumb that I bought Gingko.

I almost overdosed on Gingko.

I still felt stupid. I am too old I thought.

I have an old brain.

Then I worried about what to wear and I felt shallow.

I had my roots done, but did hair dye kill more brain cells?

I told husband who was still in Milford.

I had not seen him in weeks but he was coming to Miami for my talk.

He sounded sharp, bright and cheery.

“Not to worry, you’ll remember when you’re up there.”

Hmm.

Then I remembered.

(Yes, at least I did remember this!)

The Seinfeld Theory.

Do you remember?

Put to the test and proven in episode 143.

My problem?

Husband was away. But husband was coming to Miami three days before my talk.

That would give me enough time to clear my mind.

And he would love it.

As soon as he arrived I started clearing my mind.

Wow, he said. This is great. I should stay away more often.

The next morning I practiced my TED and could remember four minute spans. I had two days left to dress rehearsal, three to actual night. That was four to five mind-clearing sessions.

It so happened to be our 21st anniversary.

An excellent excuse for siestas. Back rubs. Jacuzzi’s and what may ensue…

By Monday morning, driving back from Iona’s school, I remembered my entire TED in exactly 13 minutes. What had been the big deal? I could do it backwards…

But then.

There was the clock.

The unknown factor.

That screwed me up.

“Its why we have dress rehearsals,” Gina said. “Now go home and forget about it. Do not look at your speech again. Relax. You’ll be fine tomorrow.”

I did relax on Tuesday the 13th of September. I had a pedicure and told husband I was having a nap at 2pm.

Afternoon delight, he hummed rather absent mindedly.

But happy.

Afterwards I confessed that I had been using him.

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“You know, the Seinfeld Theory?” I hinted.

Wha’? he said.

You know that episode where George thinks lack of sex makes his mind sharper and he feels smart, then Elaine  uses this abstinence method  but she becomes more stupid. So she begs Jerry to have sex with her  just so she can clear her mind.

You know? No? You don’t  remember?

Nah. I don’t think so. What day is it again? shall we go and see a movie tonight or something…?

Yeah, something!

 


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Back and Doing the Other Miami…

I’m back.

From pastoral Pennsylvania to crazy Miami.

To the bachelor pad which is being de-bachelored by turning the “pool” room (as in shooting pool with your mates at 3 am, after getting home from the Wall without scoring)  into a third bedroom for the twins so they can do homework, hang out, bicker and sleep behind a wall (instead of the exposed upper mezzanine).

Tiesto mural in pool room will be preserved

Of course this was to be done in the ample two months that we were away and of course it was started on the Friday we returned. So now we neither have an office (pool room) nor a bedroom for the girls since everything from one room is piled in the other.

But thats OK.

They say they will be done by Wednesday.

They say.

They said they’d be done by now.

But I’m not bothered. There are bigger problems.

Like school uniforms.

Maybe one has to be genetically programmed to deal with procuring kid’s uniforms. Maybe I’m too hippy-dippy Dutch to even think about universal clothing for creative kids. See I always look to blame myself first (Have you noticed? Do you do that too? I wish I were a bit more Teaparty, and blame everyone else. Like only everyone else all the time.), still I was proud to have gathered, at Woodbury Common (Like/Love), four khaki bottoms that my trendy twins would deign to wear to school, and one pair of black pants that may get them sent home (while the color is right, the fit will be deemed too sexy, which in this city of underdressed exhibitionists is paradoxical but don’t get me started, I already wrote that blog.)

The preppy polo tops have to be bought locally since they are emblazoned with the Miami Arts Charter School logo.

lime, teal, white or black with MAC logo

Another bigger problem was getting an e-mail from TED, shortly after arrival, requesting a full run-through of my talk at 1 pm on Wednesday. This Wednesday? This Wednesday!

TED? But I was still on uniforms. Saturday was uniform day on my “what to do when we get back” list. Which also has finish homework with the girls, unpack, get food in fridge, get 2nd floor toilet and phone fixed , you know the drill.

TED!

So while I should be writing and practicing my TED talk, I’m chasing uniforms.

Yes, I’d ordered them online as the school suggested, but got a notice a few days ago that the polo’s would be ready for delivery in 5 weeks!

WTF? Right?

What are the suggesting? Homeschooling for five weeks? I mean the school is clear:

All students and parents have agreed to abide by the school uniform as described in the parent/student contract signed during registration.

Students not in uniform will be required to contact their parent and sent home.

I’m scared!
Ibiley suggests I visit any of their conveniently located Miami stores.
They lied. None of them are conveniently located. All of them are in scary shit neighborhoods that are at least  40 minutes away.

I settled on North Miami and was wise enough to call first, just to make sure they had said polos in stock, but of course got the robot who told me that August is too busy to answer the phone, and tells me to leave a message.

They’re also too busy to answer.

I find out just how busy.

But not till after getting lost in the maze of NE and NW 159th street Drive and Street and Court, at the very place where 95, the turnpike and 539 intersect in a spider-web of flyovers and underpasses and of course the exit ramp that Mapquest told me to use is Closed for Construction.

What?

You are sorry for the inconvenience?

Fuck you!

Why not just post some signs up telling how to get the fuck to Ibeley Uniforms in the industrial park (with one entrance) that I can see from the overpass which points towards the Everglades, at 70 miles an hour.

OK. So.

50 minutes later, and isn’t it amazing how proud those moments can make you (forget about a TED talk), I pull up in front of Ibiley.

Pride turns to nausea in a nano second.

Swarming around the  huge warehouse, are hundreds of people of many colors (none quite as white as the three of us), several  stainless steel quilted food trucks are randomly parked, and something that resembles a long line, made up from entire families (bring the kids, the toddlers, the babies, the grannies, aunts, uncles and don’t forget the neighbors) comes out from the front door into the 95 degree sunshine.

We “politely” battle our way inside only to find many feet of empty shelves and another line that resembles immigration at JFK before Christmas.

Determined (if nothing else) I find 8 tees (4 each), while yelling at the twins to help me. Unfortunately they’re catatonic with the otherness of it all, like in some culture-shock transition from the verdant woods to this urban jungle.

We join the immigration line.

After ten minutes we move close enough to spot a tiny sign over the counter.

We are out of the folowing logo patches. (you buy the tees and pay in line #1, they give you your school’s logo patches, you join line #2, the one outside, and they apply the patches).

Come back on the 28th and we will apply them for free,, it also read. (You’d have to bloody well pay ME to come back!).

There’s no actual list of said missing patches posted. I guess it changes by the minute.

So.

I grab an Ibiley sales girl who looks like she will get really drunk that night.

MAC is not on her list of out-of-stock patches.

I ponder if this is good news. I’m rather praying for an excuse to leave. But it sounds like we will be there for the next few hours. (Could I get into this Cuban/Caribbean/South American block-party atmosphere?).

The girl walks away.

The girl comes back.

“You are at the wrong location”, she says. “MAC uses special embroidery and is only available at our Little Havana store on SW 8th Street.”

We are on NW 167th street.

You have to be from Miami to know what that really means, but imagine flying to London instead of Sydney.

We are fucked.

We leave the line.

We are hungry and buy three sandwiches, and three Cuban drink cans ( sexy looking mixed mango. papaya, passion fruit that taste like water) from the guilted truck.

“Mom, these are the best sandwiches I’ve ever had,” the twins chime, “Yes, at least we got some really good sandwiches out of it.”

They encourage me. (Afraid that I might have a shit-fit meltdown?)

Instead I find 95 South (easy), and head towards Little Havana.

I call husband who is on the porch in PA and tells me its the first nice day in weeks.

@#$%^&* !!

He also tells me to give myself a break.

He often tells me this.

I listen. The only breaks I take are the ones he tells me to take.

He’s good to me in that way.

“You did your best,” he says. “Go home, have a swim, enjoy being back.”

He has a point.

I compromise with myself. I settle on Target, which I happen to be passing, buy the last three (a terrible number for twins) white polo’s and  HP iron-0n tee shirt transfer paper.

I feel clever.

I shall go home, get the MAC logo online and iron it on.

Which I do.

While arguing with the MAC principal in my mind that this is as good as the real thing from Little Havana and that the Ibiley store was completely out of stock (good chance of that anyway, right? Given the odds so far?)

While the trip to Little Havana still looms, since three tees between twins won’t last me the promised five weeks.

They wont even last two days.

And then there is TED.

TED needs attention.

As soon as the girls are in school TED will be my lover.

I promise TED my undivided attention….


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The Lady Who Said “HI” (to a burglar) ….

oh, thats only Iain, son, coming back from an evening run...

I know this title kinda ruins  my story.

I may change it.

I often do. I start a blog with one title just to get in the mood and then use something completely different.

I try to be like Penelope Trunk with my titles.

But I cant. I just cant be that deliberately controversial only to lure readers into yet another story of a fight with my husband.

Anyway.

We are finally, years after buying a piece of land in Eleuthera, thinking of putting in the driveway, so I met with Mr. Sands (yes, he of making sandy driveways) to discuss topography, mature trees and boundary lines.

Serious stuff.

But Neville (Sands) is also chatty. He likes to sit in his windowless air-conditioned office and shoot the breeze.

So I told him one of my favorite Eleuthera (there are many) stories. One that involved me directly.

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The year before we had rented an old house in the town of Governor’s Harbour over Christmas. Tamarind is a big, stone sea captain’s house with four big bedrooms upstairs, a large wooden central staircase, porches, etc. A little run-down, but perfect for all six of us.

In those days I was already collecting beach plastic like crazy, the yard was full of it, and I used the kitchen table for making my “jewelry”. My tool kit stood open. A small amount of silver and even less gold wire lay amongst the beach debris.

I don’t know if somehow the word got out that I was a “jeweler”.

And we were careful, Eleuthera is very safe, but still we were in town and so we checked doors and windows every night before going to bed.

That night I got up at 3 am to pee.

I never pee in the night.

I go to sleep at night and I wake up in the morning.

I do not pee.

I am also blind.

I am legally blind when my contacts sit in their little blue box in the bathroom and when I shut my eyes its about the same as having them open only darker (I am   -7.25 in both eyes for those in the know).

So I get up and walk onto the landing (which is the only way from our bedroom to the upstairs bathroom.)

There….

Running up the stairs, not more than 4 feet from me, is a kid (I can tell) in a black hoodie (pulled up).

So what do I do?

I say:

HI!

What does he do?

He says:

HI!

Then he realizes that this is not quite how these situations are supposed to go (I was a little slower and still thinking that if this guy was in my house at 3 in the morning I probably knew him and ought to be polite), he turned and ran.

Raced like Jackass down the stairs and out.

OK. So now am awake, like fully and I think.

SHIT! That was a burglar!

I still have to pee so I pee and I think.

I decide that the last thing I want is husband running through the bushes with a very blunt (rental homes never have sharp knives) kitchen knife after a kid 30 years younger than he (give or take, he was at a disadvantage.)

Next I check on the girls – they are all three fast asleep.

Fate had me at their door like a sentry just in time, and when I realized this I did get shaky.

So I woke husband. Or tried.

“I just saw a burglar on the stairs, honey.”

No response.

I considered going back to bed but this would not look good in the morning. Like my story’s credibility would be diminished.

So I woke him up hard and together we found the window in the front parlor that been pried open.

the merry window access

Then we called the police.

Governor’s Harbour has one policeman on duty, at night, and he arrived about ten minutes later, looking sleepy and, well, very relaxed.

He sat down at my kitchen table, I cleared some of my beach plastic to make room for his paper work, and we filed our case.

Was anything stolen?

I hadn’t checked.

So I looked around and found that my wallet had been emptied (about six dollars,I never have cash), and that one of my bling flip-flops was missing.

One!

The chief sent me upstairs to get my passport and when I came down he was playing with my plyers and wearing my super over-magnifying glasses that are made to make tiny detailed work easier . They also make eyes look like this:

how the policeman looked up at me

He asked if I would be able to identify the kid and I said no way. I am blind. I wouldnt even be able to tell you if he was black or white.

He thought this was funny.

SO.

Now back to Neville Sands, a year plus later.

I tell him the story. Just like above, only when I get to the bit where I say:

HI! To the burglar.

Neville sits up, slaps his hand on his desk (I jump), and shouts:

“So YOU are the lady that says HI to burglars.”

WTF? I think (one does not say this in Eleuthera.)

“How do you know?” I ask.

“You are famous, man!” He says. (the man-thing one does say to women in Eleuthera). “Like everyone knows.”

“Everyone?”

“Like that stupid kid tells all his friends that he’s doing this house in town, and this lady sees him on the stairs, and she’s so crazy – she says HI to him, and he’s even more stupid and he says HI back and this makes all his friends laugh and they think its the funniest thing thats happened all year!”

How do you know this? I ask.

“Well, meanwhile the policeman on duty that night is also telling all his friends. They also think its hilarious, so everyone is telling everyone and then the “bad” guys are telling the “good” guys the story, you know the kids name and all, and now they have him cause he’s telling everyone bout you sayin’ Hi and all.”

“So they got him?”

“Yeah man! He went to Juvie for six months, he’d done some other stuff too, so don’t feel bad, it wasn’t really you.”

Then Neville told me the story of another kid who stole a Princeton (bright orange with Princeton logo) sweat shirt during a burglary and decided to wear it right away, around town. What ensued needs no further explanation.

Its a small, very small island.

And we love it.