October 9 Editorial

This week our home selling journey came to an end. Thank goodness. It all sounded too good to be true. A cash buyer, offering close to what we were asking, and wanting to close in six days. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out… a lot.
It all started on Monday, when after the contract was signed on both sides, my husband and I received a call asking if we could move the closing date up one day earlier. Having agreed to do some major work on the trim, paint, and various other projects, we knew that it was going to be a stretch to get everything done in time. Eager to close the sale, we agreed to kick it into high gear and make it happen.
My husband and I, dead tired and ready to kill one another by Wednesday night, encountered our buyer as she made one of her nightly unannounced (and uninvited) visits to the house. She seemed a little startled to run into us, I guess because the other 400 times she had come over to poke around, she had missed us. But I digress.
She asked if it was okay if she took a look around before our closing in the morning just to make sure that everything was in order. We agreed, and a few minutes later she emerged. I asked her if there was anything she needed done before we did our final walkthrough in the morning because we had time to take care of it. She smiled and said, “No, everything looks great! I’m so excited and can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Feeling like we had done our job, we still stuck around for another two hours making sure that everything was ready to roll. Little did I know that we were about to face one of the most stressful and infuriating days of our life in just a few hours.
Set to close at 11:30 am, we received a call from our agent at 10 am. “We have a problem,” he said. My heart sank. Somewhere deep down I knew she was going to pull something like this in a last ditch effort to somehow hold us over a barrel to get more money off of the house. He went on to explain that she had major issues with the paint and trim in the home and came up with several things that she noticed needed to be fixed even though they were not in the contract. He said that she had told him that unless the issues were addressed or we gave her another $4,000 off our agreed price, she would walk.
So angry that I could’ve spit fire, I told him to tell her, “Well, bye. We are not taking another penny off for her.” Especially since we gave her the opportunity yesterday to point these things out leaving us with enough time to complete her request. Now she had left us with about 15 minutes before we needed to leave for closing.
Baffled by her issues with the house, we decided to drive over there to see for ourselves what she was talking about. It’s a good thing we did. This psycho had gone back into the house after her walkthrough with our agent, turned the oven on self-clean, and left. When we opened the front door, smoke billowed out and the smoke alarms were wailing. My level of anger had just reached an all-time high. I mean, first of all, this lady is threatening to walk away from a deal she hasn’t signed yet but felt compelled to break in the home, turn the oven on 650 degrees, and leave? Second of all, she had already moved her patio furniture on over.
For somebody who was ready to walk, she sure did feel comfortable in my home.
I felt sorry for my agent when I called him with a tone that I’m sure was reaching insanity status. I told him what she had done and left him with these words…”We’ll do the work we agreed upon…nothing more. If she’s smart she’ll sign the papers. Otherwise we will be forced to file criminal trespassing charges.” I’m pretty sure our agent’s day sucked too.
Six hours later, she arrived again to do another walkthrough. I tried my best to avoid contact with her, not trusting what might fly out of my already exhausted and frustrated mouth. Fifteen minutes later we got the call that she was ready to sign the deal.
Although things worked out in the end, I learned a few things about business this week. First, being overly nice to someone may seem like a good idea, but it can also make the other person think they can walk all over you. From now on I will agree to be fair, but I won’t be doing someone any favors in business. Call me crass, but I shouldn’t have given this lady anything extra. If you do business with me in the future, you can thank her.
Secondly, I’ll make sure that I get very detailed and specific when drawing up a contract. To this lady, apparently “touch up paint” means spackle, sand, and repaint every wall. I will also make sure that my next buyer understands what “move-in ready” means and doesn’t expect a 36 year old home to look like a new model home.
Lastly, I learned that no matter how good things seem, something is always bound to go wrong. Call me pessimistic, but in my life experiences it has been true. Thankfully in this situation I had my husband, our agent (who stayed with us all day helping on that last day….thank you), and a mild sedative to get me through.
I think the next time we buy a house we’ll just live there forever so I never have to move again. Being an adult stinks sometimes.

October 2 Editorial

There are some days that really get you down. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. This week was not one of those times. In fact this week turned out to be so good, that I’m almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. Until then, I’m riding high and loving life!
It all started when upon our return home from vacation, our real estate agent called to inform us that he had an interested party for our home that has been on the market for nearly 4 months. Excited but skeptical due to our past track record, we crossed our fingers that things would work out before we were forced to sell our kidneys on the black market to afford two house payments.
Then much to our surprise, we received a cash offer, as is, with a seven day closing. And to boot, we were actually pretty close to our asking price. Of course we accepted. That’s when the fun began.
We spent the week touching up paint and making the house look better than it ever has in order to make sure the sale goes smoothly. Next we moved on to some electrical work. This is where things got a little hairy.
While changing a light fixture in the bedroom, my husband gave me the job of holding the fixture up to the ceiling with my arms raised above my head while he stood on the ladder to hook it up. I had flashbacks to when we first purchased the house and he shocked himself, so I suggested that he turn the power off first. Once again, he declined my suggestion with the face he gives me when he thinks I’m an idiot.
Ten minutes in, my arms were burning and I desperately needed a break. I got it when in an instant, the lights flickered and my husband was launched off of the ladder and onto the floor. I honestly thought that I saw his hair smoking. Once I realized that he was okay, I made sure to say, “I told you so.” I love when I’m right. I’m having another flashback.
As the week wore on, the projects diminished. I have to admit that I almost didn’t want to sell after seeing the house in all the glory we never took the time to give it before, but that feeling quickly went away when I grabbed a glass of wine and watched the boats go by at our new home.
Then as we prepared for the closing of our home, I got a phone call from a woman who I have been trying to win over for months in order to get a spot on her team with her foundation. She asked me if I was still interested because she finally had an opening. I was stoked. This was definitely my week.
Now with a closing in two days, a meeting with my new team in the books, and a baby shower that I’m hosting on the agenda for the weekend (please pray for me!), I’m feeling on top of the world. Not to mention, busy.
With so many good things happening for me right now I worry that all good things come to an end, but I know that staying positive is a must. It just isn’t always easy. For now, I think I’ll sit back, relax, and enjoy my good karma. Cheers to the good life.

September 25 Editorial

This week we ventured out to the land of buffets, overpriced drinks, and mediocre entertainment. That’s right kids! It was our annual Cruise-a-palooza- on Carnival cruise lines. This year we chose the Carnival Dream, a ship that lived up to her name, because on the Dream….miracles really do happen.
Don’t get too excited because this won’t be a cheesy magical vacation review in favor of Carnival. In fact it might be quite the contrary.
You see when boarding a Carnival cruise ship there are some things you need to know. The blind will see. The crippled will rise and walk. And your Grandmother….well, let’s just say she turns into a monster.
Upon our arrival, our group, along with 5,000 other people stood in line for over an hour waiting to board the ship. As we got closer and closer to entering the ‘Dream’, people around us became more excitable. As the line grew longer, one by one, wheelchair after wheelchair whizzed by for “priority boarding” holding the pack of eager cruisers at bay like angry bulls before they run the streets in Spain.
Pushing and shoving ensued causing major chaos and tempers to flare. I was personally more annoyed at the people who decided to stop with luggage in hand in the middle of the walkway to look for “Pooky”, “Da Diva”, and “Shorty Mac”. No kidding…..they had shirts, and these were the names on them.
Once we were on the ship, we along with every other person on board, wanted to look around. As we waited for an elevator, we watched people gather in packs waiting to pounce like wild animals on the first elevator to open. About five minutes later, after waiting our turn, my husband and I were able to cram into one of the glass elevators with barely enough room to spare.
That’s when Granny decided it was time to regulate.
She tried her best to force her body into the elevator, and we all crammed ourselves in as far as we could. It wasn’t going to happen. Then, what she did next made me fume in anger and giggle in delight all at the same time. Upon realizing that she indeed was not going to fit, she gave us all the look of death, stepped out of the elevator, and slid her hand down the wall of buttons lighting them up so that we would be forced to stop on all 14 floors.
That’s right kids. Old people are jerks too.
Later that afternoon, I noticed how it’s amazing when people get on a cruise ship that their need for canes, walkers and wheelchairs miraculously disappears. We headed over to the buffet for a little lunch where I witnessed with my own eyes a woman who had been wheeled in on a wheelchair stand, walk down a flight of stairs with ease, then return up the stairs with a plate full of food and walk right past her wheelchair where she chowed down and then asked for assistance to her room when finished. And she wasn’t the only culprit.
I wandered into the Fun Shops on board to see if it was worth my time to purchase cheap liquor tax free. Apparently it was. A woman who had been in line before us to get on the ship who claimed to be completely immobile leapt from her motorized wheelchair to reach for two bottles of Bacardi for $20 and managed to grab a carton of Camel cigarettes before returning to her “two wheeled prison”. Are these people serious?
Ultimately we had a good time, and in the end I really do love cruising but I did learn a few things.
1) If you want to beat the crowds, break a leg before boarding. People will accommodate your every need even if you are a complete faker.
2) People in general are a pain. And they are stupid too. Just ask the guy that kept letting his baby bang his head on the table because he refused to pay more attention to him than his Mai Tai.
3) The Pope himself will elbow you to beat you in line for food, the elevator, back on board, etc. This is serious. I saw more sweet old couples and children shoulder check strangers to save five seconds than I ever thought possible.
4) If you want to survive a week with these crazy idiots, buy the ALL INCLUSIVE drink package. It may be $250 per person, but it will save your sanity and make people watching waaayyy more fun.
Until next year, my friends. I’ll be the one wearing the football pads on the Rascal scooter with the mouthwash bottles full of smuggled booze trying to cram myself in the elevator. Bring it on Granny. I think I need a vacation from my vacation.

September 18 Editorial

This week I am preparing to go on our annual Cruise-A-Palooza vacation. Normally at this point I am beyond excited, but this year instead of a relaxing getaway, it seems more like a Murphy’s Law precursor to a nightmare at sea waiting to happen.
It all started when, in an effort to save money on those $15 cocktails like most cruisers, I decided to find new a creative ways to smuggle alcohol on board. Now I know this isn’t completely ethical, but I’m poor and cheap, so lay off me.
I ordered something called the “Booze Belly”, a contraption intended to make you appear to have merely a beer gut while boarding the ship while concealing a handle of bourbon. Problem is, I haven’t exactly been hitting the gym like I am supposed to lately, so I already have so called “booze belly”. When I filled it up and put the thing on, I looked like I was 9 months pregnant with twins….a definite no-go.
Then I discovered plastic flasks on eBay. I ordered them immediately. Being the idiot that I am, instead of filling them with water for a trail run, I went ahead and poured a bottle of Capt. Morgan in there. Seconds later, while trying to find the best place to conceal this plastic wonder, “POW”! It burst into one big mess. I smelled like rum for three days.
Next, I decided to buy screw top wine bottles with the intentions of refilling them with liquor because each passenger is allowed one bottle of wine upon embarkation. I went to town on Cabernet, because obviously I wasn’t just going to pour it out (I mean…look at all the trouble I was going through for my booze….it would seem like a crime to pour it out). Trouble was, I don’t normally drink red wine. I woke up the next morning on the couch with a face full of makeup and a box of Publix fried chicken by my side.
I clawed my way down the hallway for a Goody’s powder and a Gatorade, but the damage had already been done. I looked in the mirror only to find that my face full of makeup I had left on overnight had turned into a face full of zits. We’re talking planetary status. I look like a walking pepperoni pizza.
This is totally not worth it.
Then yesterday, as I finally broke out the suitcases to pack, I tripped and fell on my unorganized stack of clothes, breaking my pinkie toe. So far this trip sucks and I haven’t even left yet.
With one day left to go before I leave, I’ve made a decision. Life is too short for things like scheming to save a few bucks on a cruise ship. I’m just going to suck it up and order those overpriced cocktails with pride. I’m going to sit in the hot tub with a $40 bucket of beer, get white girl wasted, take a nap, and eat a burrito….because that’s what I want to do on my vacation. Besides who needs power and running water when I get home anyways?
I guess in the end I have to remind myself that life is short. Instead of stressing myself out with ridiculous contraptions and moronic schemes, I should just enjoy being with my husband and our friends. Booze or no booze, broken toe, pizza face and all.
Although sometimes a nip of something strong does make them all a bit more tolerable. I wonder if eBay will let me return all this crap? Bon voyage everyone! Pray for me.

September 11 Editorial

Sometimes in life you can forget how amazing the wonders of our world really can be until something comes along that leaves a lasting impression on your heart. For me, the “something” that came along was being privileged to witness 83 baby sea turtles making their way from the nest to the waters in our own backyard.
Nearly two weeks ago, I heard there was a loggerhead turtle nest ready to hatch on the beach at any moment. Although I had seen sea turtles in the water before, I had never been able to watch them hatch. So I took myself out to the nest and waited. With no action predicted for the evening, I went home. The next day was much of the same….waiting.
Each day for a week, I huddled around the nest with several other curious on-lookers who turned out to be fantastic people (shout out to my new friends Pete, Kathy, and Gabriel who are now Escambia Sun Press fans), in hopes of getting a first-hand glimpse of these tiny little reptiles. And each day, there was no action.
When the nest was six days overdue, the wildlife volunteers told us that there was little hope for our babies. Unfortunately, when the mother turtle had come ashore to lay her eggs, heavy, wooden chairs that serve as beachside service rentals were lined up entirely across the area that would have allowed her to enter the dunes where she should have placed her nest, thus leaving her to dig in an area much too close to the water’s edge.
Although the volunteers informed us that there are indeed laws to prevent the beach chairs from remaining in the way of the turtles during nesting season, little is done to enforce it. Due to the lack of cooperation of the chair company and the lack of complaints to the FWC, the nest had been washed over by the tide several times leading everyone to believe that the hatchlings had drowned.
We were informed that due to the lack of movement that the nest would be excavated on day 70, ten days after their due date. If they were alive and in good health, they would be released. If they were in fact dead, a scientific study would be done to confirm their cause of death. We were all told to prepare ourselves for the worst.
Day 70 arrived and we all gathered once again to witness the babies emerging from their nest, fingers crossed that at least a few had survived. As one of the volunteers started to dig, a gasp of excitement sprang from her lips as she shouted, “We have movement!” Within seconds, her hand surfaced holding a tiny baby loggerhead turtle, eagerly squirming and ready to meet the world. We all jumped with excitement and joy as one by one, the little miracles appeared from the darkness of the nest.
Within minutes, 83 babies had been rescued from a tomb of sand that had been packed too tightly for the turtles to free themselves thanks to the nightly wash-over. Only five eggs didn’t hatch, a number that the volunteers say is impressive even with perfect nest conditions.
Minutes later, as a giant crowd gathered and darkness blanketed the beach, the baby turtles were released onto the sand for the journey into the gulf for their first official swim. Once their flippers hit the sand, it was fascinating to see that instinct took over, allowing them the follow their inner GPS to the lapping water that lay just ahead. It was a truly beautiful sight.
Later on that night, I started thinking about the baby turtles and their journey. Although they had each other to depend on in the nest, it took a little outside help for them to indeed survive. From being freed from a dark, underground prison to being flipped right side up in order to make it to the gulf, without our help they may have never even had a chance.
With any luck, a few of these babies will grow up and return to our beaches to continue the circle of life, but once again without our help, it may not have such a happy ending. Get involved by volunteering with local turtle nests by contacting Big Lagoon State Park at 850-492-1595. It only takes a bit of your time, but can make a big impact on the survival of these beautiful creatures that add so much to our local ecosystem.
In addition, be sure to report any violations you see to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) by calling 850-488-4676. These violations include disturbance, mutilation, destruction, selling, transference, molestation, and harassment of marine turtles, nests or eggs. This also includes any structure, company, or individual that interferes with the turtle’s ability to reach the proper nesting areas.
Remember that Florida developed a model lighting ordinance (62B-55, F.A.C.) to prohibit certain types of lighting on condo buildings to prevent confusion for the turtles upon hatching. Please make sure that your association follows these rules.
With our help, we can bring the sea turtle population in our area back from the brink of extinction for generations to come to enjoy.