My cousin Ben was my first best friend. He was a few months older than me and we played and fought, played and fought. When we argued, it felt very important that I proved myself right. One time he said that wrestling was fake and I was furious.
It was the early 80s. This was before WWF became WWE. My heroes were Hulk Hogan and Junkyard Dog and Lou Albano. Cyndi Lauper’s video “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was the best thing I’d ever seen–an incredible rollicking fantasy for my five-year-old imagination. At my house, my dad wrestled with us on the living room floor, and we begged him to put us in figure-four leg locks and half nelsons.
Ben didn’t back down, became really arrogant about it, so we took the matter to our dads. We interrupted them. His dad said wrestling was fake. I looked at my dad, and he said, “Well, it’s choreographed.” I couldn’t believe my dad said that. I didn’t know exactly what the word meant, but I knew it meant I was wrong. I felt like he betrayed me and that he had been lying about wrestling all along. I was embarrassed and Ben gloated. I stopped watching wrestling for a long time.
Shortly after that, Ben and I were called to the school office where we both went to kindergarten. I can’t remember why. He started warning the secretaries about killer bees and the dangerous invasion that was imminent. The secretaries laughed at him and he turned to me for backup: “My Uncle Dave told me, Jazz’s dad.”
I didn’t say anything–did I shake my head? All I can clearly remember was feeling embarrassed for Ben, that he didn’t know that Dad had made it all up to tell us a good story, and also that I relished him being laughed at by those ladies. He was fooled by the killer bees story the same way that I had been by wrestling.
Years later I found out that my dad had been telling the truth about killer bees. I still think about that moment when I refused to back Ben up. It was the first time I can remember being consciously mean. I remember his cheeks were heavy with hurt and frustration. I wonder if he even remembers.
I open the big box from Amazon and there’s another box inside with a piece of crumpled brown packing paper. I open the box in the box and there are 10 boxes inside, with 100 disposable latex gloves inside each.
Boxes in a box in a box. And now the word box looks weird enough to me that I have to google it to make sure it’s spelled right. It is.
Now my husband turns on the idiot box, puts it on CNN and immediately leaves the room. Something is wrong with our world, and when I google that, I get about 700,000,000 results in 0.81 seconds.
My dogs fight like elephant seals–neck to neck, mouths wide open, teeth flashing and lots of guttural noises. But they never actually clamp down hard on each other. Sasha’s eyes rolling around, Wesley fighting from the ground since he’s got bad hips and knees.
They fight like mad, kicking up the dirt and mulch, and then they just stop, take a break.
A naughty little thing
A very good boy
Wesley smiles at me, head down, like he’s done something wrong, but I smile back. He wags his tail and next thing you know it’s back on.
Sasha’s the one to take it too far–she goes for his tender feet. Yanks on his back legs like she’s trying to pop his hip out of socket. He sinks down again and she straddles him from behind, pulling on his cheeks. He’s wiped out, but she won’t leave him alone.
They love each other very much.
When you eat flowers
you poop in pretty shades of pink.
Three very hungry Monarch butterfly caterpillars
Tropical Milkweed and Monarch caterpillar
Now is the time to plant real plants, native plants that butterflies, bees, and other small creatures love. Buy a bag of wild bird seed while you’re at it–birds love a consistently full bird feeder.
I was looking for a Giant Swallowtail butterfly, when I noticed a brilliant bit of blue on a leaf and saw this tiny fly. To get an idea of how small it is, a cluster of Lantana blossoms is about as big around as a half-dollar, and a single blossom is more or less as big as the top of a pencil eraser.
Everything loves my potted Lantana–butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds–and now, this little guy, just relaxing in the shade on another hot day in the M I A.
This is a small pile of plastic trash that I picked from the surf on Miami Beach, around 87th Street and Collins Avenue, just south of Bal Harbour. It took less than an hour to pick this amount of trash out of the ocean.
At the breakers, my kids and I encountered a massive swath of seaweed running up and down the beach as far as we could see, extending 10-30 feet into the ocean. There were bits and pieces of trash, mostly plastic remnants, riding the seaweed. I grabbed everything within reach, and when I pulled out the plastic bag marked “Please keep our oceans clean. Dispose of this box properly,” I was compelled to re-post on the topic of trashed oceans and beaches.
The first time I discussed this issue, I focused on how weird it is to see people swimming freely in what amounts to a liquid garbage dump and relaxing in the cigarette butt filled sand.
Now, I question why the world’s wealthiest people would line up on a polluted beach to plunk down millions for luxury condos. Maybe they don’t plan to ever actually go to the beach. Maybe they’ll just look at the beach from their terrace or from their pool deck or from their yacht. Maybe they’ll clean it up, just as soon as the rest of us don’t have access to it.
When I was young and adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered, “Rich.” It was a popular answer that usually got a few laughs and head shakes regarding how clever I was.
Now I am teaching my kids that there is something wrong with being rich. I am teaching them that to be rich, to hoard your money the way that the majority of our world’s rich do, is wrong and should be called out as morally repugnant.
Rich people could set in motion solutions to almost all of the problems of the world in one week, but instead, they blow millions on themselves–renovating and re-renovating their multiple residences, spoiling their kids rotten, and bribing various governments to give them preferential treatment.
We emulate the rich by building as big a house as we can with as many luxury finishes as we can. The rich emulate resorts and shopping malls– their houses must compete with their favorite vacation spots, their closets are full of clothes with tags on that they will never wear.
Rich people hoard money–they are hoarders. Poor people who hoard are just copying the behaviors of the wealthy. We should view the hoarding lifestyle of the rich–Jay Leno hoards cars, for example–with the same disgust that we view the poor hoarders’ fridge full of rotten meat and penchant for pissy cats.
I cannot get over missing Stuart Scott. I found the NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA Playoffs to be lacking without him. I mourned him when he died, and then I mourned him throughout basketball season. My favorite sport has lost its narrator. I knew it was coming when I saw his daughter join him on stage as he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award from ESPN during the ESPYs last year. There was something I found unbearably sad in her shoelessness. I would like to think that after the death of someone as deeply loved as Mr. Stuart Scott, the thoughts of those who mourn co-mingle, become a kind of synthesized force that rockets the spirit of the departed into the unseen networks of the universe. I imagine the essence of Stuart Scott streaming through the darkness toward an unknowable home, toward something good that wants to keep him close forever. Today, I send Stuart Scott my love and thanks. I hope that it helps him get where he’s going.
I used to love going to the beach. It was my favorite place to be, so I moved to Miami.
It’s hard to enjoy the beach now because of all the trash–plastic remnants swirling around my ankles, bits and pieces of garbage throughout the sand.
Now, when we go to the beach, my kids and I pick up trash the entire time we’re there. Curiously, it feels good when we leave, really good, much better than when we just relaxed.
It feels like we were plugged into the Matrix, and now we’ve decided to face the real world grime and fight it, instead of continuing to ignore it with a shit-eating grin.
If you can’t take the Heat, get outta Miami.