Friday, December 05, 2008


No sooner do I go on hiatus from blogging, that all this interesting stuff happens I want to blog about! So as I make the transition to the new and improved version of Sex and the Beach (it's going to be called Sex and ... WHATEVER), feel free to join me over at Posterous.

I like Posterous. It's elegant, simple, quick and you can post from email, if you like, or from the site online. It's more in the spirit of microblogging, which I'm really into these days.

I have some new social media consulting work, telecommuting with a pretty hot company out of Silicon Valley. And around the corner is an opportunity to blog for a major bank. (I can't even believe it.) And as always, I continue to do my forum work at Miami Beach 411, which I so dearly love. (Believe it or not, all of this is still part-time.) So needless to say, with this kind of job (and prosperity!), it's a lot easier to be creative in short spurts. When companies start paying you to blog and you're already a blogger, you really need to manage your writing time, otherwise you can burn out very quickly, and this is precisely what I'm trying to avoid. I'm looking for that happy medium -- being an artist while making good money with my craft.

I plan to return to a regular blog format sometime in January. Sex and ... WHATEVER is going to be less about the characters I've created and more about whatever my heart desires to put in writing. Manola and company of course may make an appearance from time to time. This will broaden the range of topics I can shuffle and I will not be limited to any particular location. It's a win-win.

Happy blogging, everyone!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Manola Moves On to Sexier Pastures

manola yeah!

The best writing is the kind that comes from the heart. And when that heart is looking for a place of its own, it's best to lay off writing for a while. Sometimes, writing sucks the will to live out of you. Sometimes living sucks the will to write out of you. Sometimes, it's a little of both.

And that's the kind of limbo I find myself in right now.

Someone once said I was worth reading. Am I still? Absolutely. But that's because I live by the following: Live authentically. Write authentically.

I'm not saying Sex and the Beach is closing its doors. I'm just saying that this blog can no longer be about a series of characters who are attached to a particular place or lifestyle. I've changed and the characters I created need to change with me.

And as most of us agreed on November 4: change is indeed a good thing.

And you know what? I’m starting my change now by just telling it like it is.

I spent three years crippled by anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, which is something that I never really talked about on this blog. So while I was stagnating, writing kept me alive. I produced material here for three years that I didn't even know I was capable of …

… Manola was a glimmer of light and laughter in an otherwise dark world. You could say Manola saved my life.

And now that I've started to live again, I need to find that balance between living and writing.

Yeah, I need to come to terms with Manola -- even though she’s smooth as butter and WD40 or axle grease.

Oh yeah … as well … agoraphobia, that lovely thing … it’s embarrassing actually. How can’t you leave your home, whatever home is? Baby, talk to me. I know it. But I can also teach you how your spirit can soar, because I also know what it’s like to be stuck.

Even though this blog has nearly always been semi-fictional, the other side of fictional -- real, lived life -- is what truly inspires me. How can I really be a single woman's guide to chronic living if I'm not living actively like a single woman? Currently, my life is quiet and contemplative; I don't expect it to change dramatically any time soon.

Like many of us, right now, I'm just trying to get by -- chronically living.

Also, I'm not doing that thing people do to get hitched -- dating. And quite frankly, I'm not particularly interested in sex as a principal topic. And even if I were dating, I'd run into the question: should I share my private life with the world? My first instinct is NO. I'm a grown-up and I need to respect the privacy of those who are involved in my life, let alone those who come within a meter of my genitals.

Again: live authentic, write authentic.

And based on that mantra, I'm thinking about ways to evolve this blog so that my writing grows with me and doesn't get stuck on the beach, in the city or in any particular damn place -- least of all my private parts, puhleeaze!

Isn’t that the true meaning of growth: Not getting stuck anywhere? Growing in spite of whatever/wherever it is that wants to get you stuck?

And besides, I never really thought of myself as a blogger, but rather as a writer who just happens to use the blogging tech/platform as a means to publish and share her work.

I don't see a blog as a "thing," a noun, but rather as a "verb," a dynamic energy. The blog format is simply the container of that energy. It's the energy that matters -- that energy that comes from the heart, that comes from the love.

(Not to take away from those tech wizards that make it all happen, believe me!)

But at the end of the day, writing without love isn't writing at all, but just an exercise in emptiness. It’s about that energy. And it's because I love writing so much, because I know that my words can move others to love or compassion and maybe a moment of levity and laughter, because I’m driven by some Darwinian stubborn life purpose to write stupid shit that makes people feel for a moment alive or get excited or depressed or whatever, that I'm respecting the direction where my heart wants to travel.

Writing connects.

And without that, writing is nothing.

So you see where this is going.

Every artist knows intuitively when it's time to evolve and I've come to that point with regards to this blog. This isn't the end of the book -- it's just the end of a particular chapter and the incubation period of a fabulous new manifestation.

I'm going to spend some time literally remodeling the blog, upgrading to the new blogger or switching platforms altogether. As well, I have a great idea for a new section on this blog that will actually be useful to the local community, involving the health, education and culture sectors. We'll see if I implement that at some point.

I'll be back, new and improved. Oh and a little older -- this professional champion spinster proudly turns 41 on Sunday, November 9.

In the meantime, please go do something – vote (too late?) or have sex (ok?) … well if you’re bored with that then please browse the archives on the sidebar ... or listen to a very cool song below about taking things easy ...

... really, at the end of the day, where is the fucking fire?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sarah Gonzalez from Hialeah Vaginarick for Vice-President!

Well, what could be more appropriate for the third anniversary of this blog?

Sarah Gonzalez from Hialeah for Vice PresidentBefore you give me any shit, it's a PARODY!
Ugh. I really don't like to get into politics, but honestly, this one I couldn't resist!

"I am a rrrrreal American, ok? Don't tell me you never heard of Hialeah, because you never heard of Wasilla, my freng. My freng! I know you are my freng, OK? Not THAT ONE? OK?"

"Please 2 B follow my train of thought ... I am Cuban-American womenz. Everybody knows Cuban-Americanz have best vagina in the world. Best vagina in the world comes from Cuba! Cuba is only 90 miles from America! Therefore, I should be Vice-President!"

"I am not a MAVERICK! I am a VAGINARICK!"

I'm sure the Hispanics are going to get a good laugh about the womenz and the Juan Seis Paquetes ... and hopefully the gringos will recognize the joke that "balls" means "paquete" (meaning "junk" or "stuff") so that a man aint worth his mettle if he aint got his six-pack plus the two balls that make a man, comprende compadre?

And hopefully we'll recognize that you can't be a freakin' Hockey Mom in Miami because the only ice we have is the kind you snort (well, that's not true, we do have some ice rinks) ...

Anyway, this blog started three years ago with the humble post Wax and Pap ... on the eve of the election, it's good to know that there are several constants in life: death, taxes and vaginal hair removal. On this you can trust. Maybe not the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill, but yeah, there's always going to be people wanting to look like plucked chickens.

Enjoy, live the life you have, be happy. Naysayers are always going to tell us we're going to hell. The smart among us will tell them, hell is overrated and not worth bailing out. Touché.

Is it time to ask ... are the meek inheriting?

Well, regardless ... be well ... looking forward to a year of more shenanigans, MY FRIENDS!

And in the meantime -- for some really good writin' dont cha know gosh darn it as my mom told me you gotta love it -- make sure to check out my freng Bilingual in the Boonies, a lady who can craft some incredible prose.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Unmarried and Single Americans Week

kraft singles by emily brezin is love. If we are what we eat, no wonder so many people are unmarried. I mean, we're all full of artificial ingredients! Laser-etched cheese by artist Emily Brezin.

Oy vay, as if failing investment banks and all kinds of tragic human drama wasn't enough, whaddaya know? The US Census Bureau has kindly brought us National Singles Week, which was ...
... started by the Buckeye Singles Council in Ohio in the 1980s to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September (Sept. 21-27 in 2008) as “Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed.
I'm impressed that the 80s produced a "Singles Council" in the cornfields because lord only knows we were too busy dodging bullets back then here in Miami. But wait a minute! It seems like the emphasis here is on people who have had previous attachments or have reproduced. Hmpf. You know, many Americans do identify with the word single because they are, er ... ACTUALLY REALLY QUITE SINGLE! We proper singles do not have partners or children, have never been married and do not come wrapped in plastic. I suppose the only thing a "child-free" woman has in common with individually wrapped processed dairy products is the potential for milk from her ta-tas to become the key ingredient in Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, if only PETA had its way!

And speaking of single, our local rag recently put out an article about how a good man is hard to find in Miami, even for gays! One single fella really narrowed it down. He's got his priorities straight:
"And I think teeth are important."
You know, I have to agree. Of all the annoying things a man can not have, teeth is one of them. I also have a particular distaste for men without penises. But teeth, honey ... teeth you just gotta have. Teeth, integrity and a good lay. Must haves.

This article does makes a good point though -- if a pretty, professional woman can't find a man, is there any hope for a poor crack whore? Well, if you were to believe everything that is written about single people in this town, I'd throw my dreams of marital union out the glass balcony!

How do you define single? And most importantly, would you eat ice cream made out of breast milk?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sexcrunch: Of Grooves, Gaits, Ohs and Moans

All the news that's fit for bed, served between the sheets. Don't ever say you aren't getting any!

guy goin guy down on girl
Guys, are you having trouble keeping your woman happy in bed? Maybe it's not you! No, no ... it couldn't possibly be you, darling. Or even her, for that matter. Good grief, don't you have a good, decent co-dependent bone in your body? Blame it all on the damn bed!

You see, my dear, you need The Groove, a $10K bed that will turn even the most timid Tiny Tim into a tremendous Trojan Titan -- all on the flick of a switch.
Pop-styled and built for play, it features a 150-watt sound system with speakers that pulsate to whatever music you're playing, two powerful massage systems (one for you, one for her) with 12 programs and an automatic shut-down feature, and smooth, fast, quiet motors that can custom contour the mattress into a variety of positions. (Getting her into a variety of positions is up to you.)

Baby, we don't want a 150 watt sound system. We want:

... a 150 watt VIBRATOR!!!

... two powerful massages systems: one that keeps us relaxed and you from farting, burping and snoring after sex!

... an automatic asshole shutdown feature!

... a mattress that can contour to a variety of features, including our premenstrual bloating, aka, the proverbial 'fail whale' of the boudoir!

Ok, it does sound exciting, but also so lame, when it comes down to save-me-from-the-Titanic-disaster-brass-tacks. In some ways, it's the equivalent of my-Lambo-equals-my-penis school of sexual technique. The only thing that's missing from this bed is the tires on a Low Rider.

Ladies, here are some red flags before purchasing this product. Is 'hot lover' included, batteries extra? And besides, if you walk into a bachelor pad where this bed is a centerpiece, wouldn't you consider pulling out the anti-other-woman-cootie-spray? Actually it has a rather Kubrikesque Clockwork Orange look that I find mildly disturbing, white pantsuits and black bowler hats not included.

Oh, but I'm not being fair. The products this bed company offers sound really groovy if what you want is a bed where you can relax after a decent romp on the floor. I'm actually liking the other beds they're selling. Guys ... a bed is a sacred thing, but you have to be able to the deed sacredly, even without the geek-friendly gadget bed, k?

And Hollandia, if you really want to have a big hit, manufacture the Orgasmatron! I'm sure it'll be a big hit in Wallmart. [Via The Bachelor Guy]


Are you fucking kidding me? ORLLY? Apparently the length of my stride, which is somewhere in between a poached escargot and a foot-bound 90 year-old Chinese woman (unless I'm dancing tango, of course), is the marker for my level of sexual satisfaction.
A new study found that trained sexologists could infer a woman's history of vaginal orgasm by observing the way she walks. The study is published in the September 2008 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Who knew it could be so simple, people! Don't you just love scientific research? 'Cause you know that old term "spring in your step" meant nothin' until now!

Please do note that the researchers behind this are Scottish and Belgian and that Scotland and Belgium happen to be purveyors of some of the best scotch and best brew the world over. Just sayin' ...
Research has linked vaginal orgasm to better mental health.
OMFG! ORLLY? I am so astonished about this! Who knew? A vaginal orgasm, no less! Freud, are you proud? Let's not talk about that little clitoral orgasm, always annoying and getting in the way! Oh no ...

Actually, these guys do have something of a point. The ancient yogis knew this ... it's called your root chakra. If it aint happenin' down there, it gets all blocked up and fucks up the rest of your physical, mental and spiritual being.

In less esoteric terms, we can look at this phenomenon of the wide woman's gait as the body language of someone who has much confidence, but must it rest on the fact of a vaginal orgasm?

And what if, God forbid, his lovin' made it hard for a woman to walk afterwards? And what's more, every woman, even if she's too sexy strutting her stuff for the catwalk, has the God-given talent to fake it in bed.

And did we really need a scientific study for this? And what if you happen to be a professional lambada dancer? Does loose hips and long stride automatically make you orgasm-prone or something? Or could this be the way that some lascivious honkies perceive some juicy latinas? Maybe White Dade, who has recently come back from the dead, should chime in. [Via Truemors]

Monday, September 01, 2008

South Beach Angel

artwork by mariaA friend of mine, a fellow writer at Miami Beach 411 whom I dearly admire, recently lost a pet rat. Yes, a pet rat who succumbed to an all too common rodent condition involving tumors. The forum thread reminded me of one of the most interesting experiences I ever had on South Beach -- one that didn't involve sex or sand, but something far more important.

One night, I took a yoga class at Synergy on Hispaniola Way. I had parked a few blocks away, just around the corner of Tantra. After class, as I drove past the restaurant, I saw a dark, furry blob on the road but didn't stop. One block later, at Euclid, I turned around. I just knew I couldn't leave it there, whatever it was. It was calling to me, tugging at me. Well, it was a black cat in some kind of diseased stupor -- heart beating and lungs breathing, but body not moving, blue-black fur mottled with crimson blood.

Some of the valet team from Tantra were also investigating. "Was the cat run over by a car?" I asked. No one knew. The men stared kindly, yet clueless, at the dying cat and this frustrated me to no end. What's more, I was blocking the road, hazard lights blinking. I had to make a decision fast. "Bring me an empty box from your storage room," I demanded. "And a pair of gloves from the kitchen."

The valets obliged. With the gloves snugly fitting, I endeavored to turn the animal until it released a shriek that resounded with a familiar kind of primeval, feral intelligence; this unintelligible feline cry struck me to the bone. I knew then it was in pain and on the brink of death. I called a friend of mine who was into cats (because I'm a bird person, after all) in the hope that she might know what I could possibly do or where I could possibly take it. It was about 10 pm on a weekday night in South Beach. Should I even bother? Should I leave the animal to die on the sidewalk or take it to a clinic?

Well, I chose the latter. I put the cat in the box and drove across the 836 expressway to Knowles Animal Clinic in Miami. The veterinarian on the night shift told me the animal was probably dying from an array of conditions, so I replied yes to the option of euthanasia. And just like that -- this animal that was probably a stray cat from South Beach, died soundly while I petted the dirty, matted fur on its head.

I paid $80 just to walk into the door and another $90 for the mercy killing. That's about exactly what I had in my debit account that day. But this wasn't about the money, of course. What spent me was some of the deepest crying I ever experienced -- driving back home towards Miami Beach with downtown shining in the distance -- an empty box and blood-stained gloves in the back seat of the car.

I helped a stray cat into death that night. I was the minister of passing, the dark angel, the merciful hand of transition. I loved this cat unconditionally, even if for a span of a few hours. My heart expanded so during this time that it swelled to unbelievable capacity. And to this, and only this, can I attribute the quantity of tears.

This dying cat gave me a lesson in true compassion. The experience became, for me, a kind of standard by which to uphold all other relationships -- sexual, intimate, familial, friendly, business or otherwise -- and to this day, I always ask myself: "How does this relationship bring out the best in me? How does the relationship arouse my deepest compassion? If the person were dying, would I react differently?"

So I'll always wonder: who was the real angel here? Is the one in need not just as much of an angel as the one offering a helping hand?

The loss of animals touches us because without language, animals still communicate on a level that we are readily eager to dispel in our daily lives -- that unspoken language of the body and the spirit -- those words without words that echo in our hearts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Erotic Verse: Lodestar

Our first kiss told an unwritten story
One of hapless mariners lost at sea
Sharply, we keeled as wind
Struck hull, heart and body
Until finally, unfurled in the calm of our bed
I blew quietly from my lips
Like sirens had done for centuries
Only I had already seduced you
And you knew, the story need not be written
In constellations named after gods
For no other star would guide us
But our love

Monday, August 18, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

hurricane photo

Fay has me feeling nostalgic about strange Miami Beach experiences that have happened before storms. Hurricane Andrew of '92 comes to mind: my gal pal and I hanging out at a Club Douche, not taking storm warnings seriously. But the parent of a friend of ours was one of the dudes who flew into the storms on those specially equipped, turbulence-buster airplanes. He had been warning everyone: shit's gonna hit the fan!

In my twenty-something years, I had never experienced a hurricane and so it was no wonder that my friend and I made the most of it when we met some cute British tourists who didn't care if our world would be turned topsy-turvy tomorrow. After all, we didn't care either. She had a something-something in Tallahassee who would -- years later -- end up becoming her husband and the father of her children. But at the time, we were young, single and emotional nomads. Marauding females for the sake of a good time. We didn't have homes, mortgages, insurances, children and illnesses. Nope. We were little storms of our own, collecting our spinning energy from the tropical heat.

Yet it's remarkable to me, in retrospect, that both those who were carefree and those who were not still waited until the last minute to take Andrew seriously. It's like we really were poised for disaster. Suddenly, Miami was going to have a collective story to tell -- the kind of story that only happens when the unthinkable happens and then you're forced to come together.

I remember driving back from the beach in the early morning after a long night of carousing and a few stolen kisses on the beach. I had enough sense to pull up to a gas station on Coral Way and to wait in line -- a line that seems like nothing now, with post-Andrew media frenzy whipping everyone into a froth -- even when it's just a little squally weather threatening the mainland.

There was no way I could've predicted what would be happening in less than 24 hours. Life would never be the same. Yet this banal, average, forgettable gas-filling moment will forever stick in my mind. I guess, as writer, as an accidental composer of life, I tend to obsess about phrases. The phrase "what would happen next" happens to me every time I stick that regular fuel nozzle into the tank. Umpf.

I remember this day (August 22, 1992) like it was the demonic breed of artists; let's say that Beethoven and Robert Altman had a kid, but Virginia Woolf was the unlikely mother. Imagine the slow movement of a Beethoven symphony that starts around 9 a.m. leading to a heart-thumping chorus by midnight, and each fragment of the day is borne to light, each time it's told. Little patches of the ordinary, somehow, somehow, making up the extraordinary.

Andrew would be like the bad relationship you never wanted to have. We were young women. We weren't soldiers. We didn't go to war. We didn't really suffer. But we did go through Andrew, full throttle.

After a day of boarding-up plywood that provided a surreal contrast to the evening's shenanigans, my family and I evacuated to Kendall where my sister lived in a spacious home. We lived in South Miami, yet it was Kendall -- irony of ironies -- that'd be hardest hit.

Andrew was my first experience of real, feral anxiety and physical fear caused by nature. If there was ever a moment to truly be scared, to truly experience the adrenalin-pumping fight-or-flight reaction, it was Andrew.

I remember huddling in the corner of my sister's spacious, cathedral-ceiling bedroom, roof tiles flying and concrete shaking. Boundaries were being crossed. Homes were supposed to be stable places and suddenly, you were small and nature was looming. I felt like an idiot. How could I be kissing a British boy the night before, not knowing this? And yet thankful. Thankful I had kissed a boy, knowing this.

Low pressure on the barometer made my little corner of security only the more unbearable. The world was rocking but we were on terra firma. That's really what a serious hurricane is like -- the ocean invading the land. A watery wind world, taking over.

For hours upon hours, the high-pitched squeal of drafts filled our ears. But I listened to every single word Bryan Norcross had to say and not to that noise. His comforting voice was like a gentle guardian holding me by the hand (he held the hand of many a South Floridian that night). Bryan Norcross will forever be a hero in my mind. That man was not the mere voice of a broadcast journalist and meteorologist coming across the battery-operated, portable radio -- no, he was actually the voice of hope. Hunkered down in the Channel 7 bunker as he was, he wasn't just doing his job, for pete's sake -- he managed to pull us through the tempest. It was so real and raw, that I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Norcross was the catalyst somehow kindly speaking: "Miamians you gotta be real people now."

And we were -- well, somehow, a collective spirit of "help thy heretofore unknown neighbor" managed to flood our soaked-out, frustrated hearts. After this incredibly destructive storm, I spent time volunteering in Homestead with the air force food and shelter facility. It rained -- like insult to injury -- days after Andrew. But we plugged along, each on his own and yet one for all and all for one somehow, even though "price gouging" was becoming common parlance.

So big was the mess. Mess, everywhere. Untidiness, all around. But it's one thing if your home is untidy -- not your city. Trailers, homes, buildings, infrastructure -- all suddenly matchsticks. Stability was nowhere to be found. All you could do was throw up your hands up in the air and bless it somehow. Life had come down to basics, which is really nothing but everything: eat, drink, shit, pee and sleep.

There's nothing like a good hurricane to put everything in perspective, huh? When civilization is lost, we have no context. And weather does that to us. All the time.

Andrew forced me to move on in my life. Andrew happened when I was just about to start graduate school, so I had an assignment. Back home, by the humid moonlight, with our living room roof partially caved in, I read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams by candlelight while enjoying a peanut butter sandwich and evaporated milk dinner outdoors.

Frogs sangs at twilight. Frogs I'd never heard before. And afterwards, the sound of generators drowned out the implacable silence of an imposed curfew. Miami, silent. Miami, forced to stay indoors. Miami, the city that sleeps, but is usually obnoxious. You could really "feel" Miami in the lingering silence of those nights after Hurricane Andrew.

Why am I thinking so much about Andrew? Why reminisce now, sixteen years later, about that storm I speak of, as if it were an intimate lover? Because last night I met someone who really looked me in the eye -- the eye of my own storm. A totally unexpected meeting, on Miami Beach, with seemingly endless conversation punctuated by a furtive goodbye kiss -- the night before freakin' Fay.

Weather may be inconstant, but I guess our feelings are not. The heart covets its desires and longs for its thrills, but there's a comforting constancy in that. I can't help feeling that love is a kind of storm -- a something-something that changes everything -- even when it doesn't.

Friday, August 15, 2008

La Latica

La LaticaA dissertation on the cheap aluminum Cuban bidet.

A dissertation of sorts on the cheap aluminum Cuban bidet. Gives whole new meaning to Campbell's soup, mmm mmm good!

Actually, I have never seen "a keng" in any "Cuban womenz" bathroom, but a friend suggested this post idea to me!

Speaking of Cuban womenz, guess which Jewish gringo boy just ate a chonga with cream cheese?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lessons from the Garden

I wrote this story in 2005, several months before I started this blog. Obviously, I'm not in love anymore, but the person I mention in the last paragraph was Mr. Thinks He's Huge and the man I left was Sir Fish A Lot. It doesn't matter -- what matters is the story. And it would matter more if it gets anyone to think about the importance of love in one's life. It certainly itched my marrow today -- I say marrow because being single and out of love for a long time is like having an itch you can't scratch -- itch down to the bone.

Seven years ago, I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. My ex- boyfriend and I, graduate students at the time, shared a house with a colleague who sublet a room in the spacious property we called home. But the lack of proper privacy, as well as the rental agreement, was the least of our problems. Our relationship suffered for other reasons, which I eagerly desired to put in the past. I anticipated the sigh of relief I would breathe in a place where we could pick up the pieces of our broken love, because it had shattered and was struggling to survive.

It was no coincidence, I am certain, that the house had an enormous, labor- intensive lawn, yet hardly any land suitable for gardening. I had planted some flowers in an area just in front of the porch and had potted a few plants by the pool, but that was the extent of the opportunity to exercise my green thumb.

One day, I heard about a cottage for rent that was a gardener's paradise. The cottage had a landscape where my imagination could go wild -- shady areas for ferns and bromeliads, sunny spots for marigolds and pentas. An enormous avocado tree shaded the northeastern side of the property, while other trees -- sapodilla, lychee, ficus and an array of palms -- made the dwelling a cozy, intimate space.

Soon after we moved into our would-be love nest, a place where we could start anew together and alone, I planted several types of vines, including passionflower. It would not be long before caterpillars devoured every leaf of that vine. Once they had entered the cocoon phase of their amazing metamorphosis, the plant looked like a surreal, leafless Christmas tree -- nothing but twigs with dangling cocoons as ornaments. My ex-boyfriend and I observed this process day to day. And I wondered, as well, if we were nourishing our own love and if it too would someday become something beautiful.

One morning, I stepped outside and was greeted by countless ruby-orange wings fluttering softly in the air. The caterpillars had eaten all those leaves for a reason and I became a witness to the most breathtaking moment of their life cycle. If I had been fussy and treated the plant with insecticide, I would have interrupted their cycle and would not have been rewarded with the sight of these gentle creatures. The butterflies taught me that some of the plants in the garden should be reserved for such special purposes. Surely, I would not let all my plants be decimated by pests, but I would at least give caterpillars the chance to transform into butterflies. I would let go of the ego's desire to prune and cultivate the perfect plant. Instead, I would let nature take its course.

Our relationship would also take its own course. As much as we enjoyed our home as a living space, our love, unfortunately, was not growing as bountifully as the flowers and foliage in my garden. Love, like plants, must be watered, fertilized, pruned, checked for pests and diseases on a regular basis. Love must not be over-watered because nutrients will be leached from the soil and its roots will rot. Yet love must be watered just enough, especially when its leaves are
wilting sadly from neglect. Love must be repotted when its roots have outgrown the container. Most importantly, love must endure the ravages of hungry caterpillars.

Early the following year, my ex-boyfriend kept dropping hints about an engagement ring. Nothing too obvious, mind you, but just enough to put my woman's intuition on the alert. On Valentine's Day he gave me an orchid instead -- a stunning oncidium with a flourish of yellow and garnet leopard print flowers. To my heart's surprise, I knew then that if he had proposed, I would have said no. I asked my sorrowful heart for an answer and it replied that our love had transformed into something genuine and real, to be sure, but not into a creature that could be called marriage.

When we left the cottage I also left behind most of my plants, since I was moving in with a friend who offered me temporary shelter while I gathered my bearings. Her apartment was large but had no balcony. I had to make a decision about which plants to take with me on this journey that would be the rest of my life. I took all my orchids and my most prized potted plant -- a bleeding heart vine that I would place on a sunny, outdoor stairwell.

Eventually, I moved to an apartment on the beach with a balcony. By then, the bleeding heart was very ill, convalescing from an unidentifiable condition that caused it to drop its all its leaves. Although the vine appeared to be dead, every time I would clip one of its stems, I could see that it was still green and vibrant within its dried-out woody exterior. So I waited patiently for nature to take its course once again. I watered it regularly, yet expected the plant would die on its own timing.

Many months passed before I noticed a tiny spot of bright green stretching out from one of the twigs. Within weeks, the plant was in full bloom once again, its thick spinach-like leaves serving as a backdrop for voluptuous bracts of tender white and red heart-shaped flowers. I wondered then if the plant had been mourning the loss of the relationship all this time -- a quiet, steadfast companion by my side -- because my heart had also dried and shriveled up with pain. When I witnessed the vine's slow yet steady perseverance, when I watched it bloom in spite of its temporary phase of illness and ugliness, I knew that I too could blossom and that a bleeding heart was better than no heart at all -- a heart that lives and feels and grows -- in spite of everything.

Recently, I moved to an apartment with a garden overlooking a canal. The bleeding heart is still with me and is ill once again, showing no outwardly signs of life, although teaching me, as always, lessons in patience. Another one of my plants, that fateful Valentine's Day orchid, still graces my sight. In seven years it has never bloomed, exhibiting a rare stubbornness, considering that all my other orchids bloom at least once a year. But I grant that orchid the right to bring forth flowers on its own timing because in the past seven years, I also refused to let love enter my heart.

I waited patiently for a new love. Happily, I have fallen in love again and in my garden, we hold each other dear.

As some of you may recall, I recently sold everything I owned and moved to South Miami with six of my orchids. The *damn* orchid is still with me. It bloomed once since I wrote this, but hasn't flowered since. And that bleeding heart vine? It died. But it was, I must admit, the most difficult, courageous and stubborn plant I ever took care of -- one I'll never forget.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aging: It's Not Just for Old People Anymore!

dove pro-age deodorantBeautiful skin has no age limits? Yeah, right. My big fat Cuban ass!

So the other day I went to CVS to pick up a few items and I happened to walk through the deodorant aisle when I was gently reminded that I should be concerned about the youthful appearance of my armpits. Yes, my armpits! Holy mother of cow shit! Who knew you had to worry about your armpits? I'm sorry, aren't wrinkles, saddlebags and cellulite enough? Sheesh!

Look it, when you've lived on South Beach, isn't it enough to have your ass primped and primed? I mean isn't it ironic that you bleach your ass yet spend hours in a tanning salon? Oh and don't forget, you have to pour hot wax on your privates so you look like a plucked chicken! You can't even be lightly breaded, oh no ... and G-d forbid you should even smell like a human! Oh no, please douche yourself until your vagina smells like the foyer at a cheap bordello!

Oh, but this is only the beginning my friends. Your journey toward mannequin-Stepford-wife-hood would not be complete without a pair of big ass fake tits the size of a Buick. Do you remember Buicks? They were the Hummers when gas was cheap but walking around commando wasn't.

As my photographer pal Miami Fever put it:

q: how do you make a 10 pound sack of fat sexy?

a: put a nipple on it.

Yeah, and put some lotion on it too. Well, I'm only 40 and I look pretty good for my age. I could very well call myself a 1-- pound sack of sexy! But what will I do in five years? What if I raise my arm to salute the flag and I'm wearing a tank top and someone should look at me and say: "Oh my, her armpits look really old!"

Sheesh, does this mean the no-mini-skirts-after-35 rule applies to armpits too? Do I need to wear long sleeves like the impossibly unsweaty ladies of Miami CSI?

While I applaud Dove for its realistic marketing campaign about beauty, I gotta say, this one has me feeling like some old cranky gal. I'll take the moisturizers any day, but please leave my armpits to age gracefully on their own terms!

I gotta wonder if Joan Rivers feels the same way ...

related: armpit sniffer

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sexcrunch: Looking for Sex in All the Right Spaces

All the news that's fit for bed, served between the sheets. Don't ever say you aren't getting any!

photo of dogs copulating by Miami Fever Photo by the fabulous Miami Fever


Sexual Healing, an article by Michael J. Mooney at Broward/Palm Beach New Times touches on the emotional side of sexuality. If you really think about it, how many of us aren't in need of the right healing touch? It's no wonder there is only one certified sexual surrogate in the state of Florida. Most people think of sex as something that's supposed to happen a priori, naturally -- a given. But the truth is, we get degrees in all kinds of vocations and yet very few of us actually practice the art of sex, which should be so deeply integrated into our lives as spiritual beings. Caught up in our daily, stressed out, internet lives, many of us have lost touch. Yes, simply touch. And that's why a full grown man can break down in the most innocuous of circumstances:

He extended his hands to her body. First to her hands and arms, then her shoulders and stomach, and soon her breasts. As his hands moved over Catherine's soapy body, he gulped. His eyes turned glassy. His hands shook. He felt a twisting deep in his chest.

Soon it was too much for him. The merchant marine was overwhelmed by the experience. He began sobbing.

While part of me thinks this would be a really fucked up career choice, I can't help but think this woman is doing a few people a healthy favor.


Oh yeah, just when you thought getting laid in gravity-laden earth was a challenge, some scientists are worried about astronauts who may be forsaking sex while in orbit. Oh, give me a break! If I'm traveling to Mars, sex is just not going to be a basic human need like water, food and waste disposal. Nevertheless, I applaud the dudes for thinking about the naughty stuff. After all, floating around in closed quarters may make you horny. And I'm sure that someone has done the nasty up in space. Russians? Americans? Anyone?


Well, whether you are bound to the planet or flying in the 100-mile club, I do hope you'll make the best of your God-given ability to kiss. Dr. Marty Klein at Empowher talks about the art of kissing. And ya know, he's gotta point! As my favorite sex therapist/philosopher once said: "Women are like crock pots. Go slow."
So, there is something about kissing that is really, really intimate and I think what it is that kissing takes place up here where we think we live as opposed to intercourse taking place down there which we can have some sort of psychological distance from.
Even though Dr. Klein ended his run-on sentence with a preposition (granted, it's a transcription), I must agree, kissing is pretty much a real litmus test of someone's ability to focus on sex. If a guy can't stop and smell the roses for a few minutes -- er, I mean, stop and let his tongue linger in your mouth (or elsewhere) -- without concentrating his mental energy on so many other things, well then, you've got an intimacy issue. Actually, it's true for everyone. The bottom line is that kissing is a good test for ADD. Multitasking in bed only works if you're multitasking for your partner's pleasure. I say, in this case, a kiss isn't just a kiss, but a foretelling of things to come -- or not.

Next time you kiss someone, pay attention to the energy behind the kiss. Is that person really present and kissing you? Don't you just know if they're faking it?


Maybe the next level substitute for a real human being surrogate is an electronic one. Hey, don't knock it. It might help a few people work through their challenges.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nature Girl: Fishing

fly fishing photo by angie chestnutPhoto courtesy of Angie Chestnut

Since I started my Volunteering at Fairchild blog, a Flick friend of mine, keylargo_diver – who takes wonderful photos of South Florida with vintage cameras, by the way – started teasing me about this new side to Manola. “It makes me think of Carl Hiassen’s novel, Nature Girl,” he noted. I had never read Hiassen’s novel, so I picked up a copy at the library and found that I couldn’t put it down. But as much as I loved the story and all its quirky characters, I can’t say I’m as crazy as its main female protagonist, Honey Santana. But my friend is right -- I do have one thing in common though with Honey – it’s the love of South Florida in its natural state. And so I thought to take advantage of what my friend called “a major shift in consciousness” to write about my adventures in the Everglades. Here is part 1 of the series.


Back in ‘90s I used to go fishing in the backcountry of the Everglades almost every weekend. As you’ve probably guessed, I did it because the man in my life then was devoted to the sport. I didn’t mind, because becoming an angler also meant that I could regularly escape from urban Miami into the remote, primeval wilderness.

But this wouldn’t be the first time I had cast a line in the water. When I was a little girl, my family would go fishing on the catwalk suspended under the Bear Cut bridge in Key Biscayne. I would stand in the shadows looking down, awed by the relentless energy of the water swooshing below, echoing loudly in my ears. My clumsy fingers would hold the thick line spooling from the yo-yo, palpating the heavy sinker as it dragged in the direction of strong currents. Wrapped in the mist of sea spray, I would wonder about the finny creatures below, swimming in and out of the cut. I patiently and eagerly waited for the telltale tug that meant a fish was nibbling at a squishy chunk of squid.

Once, I stuck a hook on my leg, and even though I was startled and cried as my dad pulled the barb out of my flesh, I quickly went back to platform’s edge with my spool, determined to catch a fish.

I don’t recall ever catching a fish then, but years later, as a grown woman, I would catch more than my boyfriend, who spent so much time maintaining the boat, steering and tying knots, that he basically became my personal guide. You see, even though fishing is a male-dominated sport, it’s also male-supported. Even though guys get to do everything, they also get to do everything for you.

But let’s not get caught up in gender disparities; ideally, fishing requires the effort of at least two people. Though not impossible, it’s not easy for one person to do everything – I still wonder if I could ever trailer a 17-foot flats boat into the water during low-tide in an cranky old ’86 Chevy Blazer Silverado. I had a hard enough time parking that gas-guzzling beast in the streets of Miami, although it did give me a sense of security on the road. Nobody would dare fuck with this Cubanita behind the steering wheel!

Our fishing involved responsibilities assigned to whomever could do things best. He did all the heavy-duty guy stuff, while I focused on all things girly, like making sandwiches. I also got my ass out of bed at 3:30 am without complaining, because the reward was being on the water in Florida Bay just before sunrise – the liminal, magical hour.

My other reward was intellectual and satisfied my inner explorer. Since he always steered the boat, and we never used GPS or a depth finder, I became a navigator. I poured over marine charts of Florida Bay and the backcountry, learning the contours of waters beneath us as if they were, literally, like the back of my hand. I had to -- navigating is no divining skill. Distinguishing the shallow flats from deeper channels and predicting how navigable each would be in the fluctuations of the tides is absolutely necessary.

Our boat, named Cyan because of the color of its hull, was a 17 Hewes Bonefisher. Cyan had a shallow draft so it could float even in about 12 inches of water. At the stern, a platform stood above the outboard motor.

In shallow water, he would raise the motor, hop onto the platform and "steer" the boat with a 16-foot pole, pushing down on the muddy flats to propel it forward. The work was challenging, even in slack tide with a weak current. Although he huffed and puffed, the vessel would glide quietly through the water, without spooking fish or damaging fragile grassbeds. The platform also served as a higher vantage point from where to spot fish. He would always call out instructions: “Fish at 3 o’clock. Cast lightly.”

Fishing in the backcountry is a predatory sport. Like hunters, we watched for signs of activity and approached stealthily. Polarized sunglasses, which reduce glare on the water’s surface and enhance contrast, helped us see what was going on just underneath the water’s surface, even on a cloudy day.

Gold and silver spoons fooled the eyes of hungry tarpon tailing in the shallows. Live shrimp attracted feisty jacks in the channels. Bobbers were meant for snook feeding by the mangrove roots – a fishing technique that sometimes attracted half-submerged alligators in the early morning. These wily reptiles would follow the bobber to the boat and then swim back to the mangrove, waiting for us to cast again. Sometimes, they proved to be such a nuisance that we had to pull up anchor and fish elsewhere until afternoon.

We only ever took home whatever we were going to eat fresh the next day, which we preferred to cook simply as possible. More often than not it was a filet of sea trout, thrown into a pan with butter, lemon and dill. We always practiced catch-and-release and obeyed wildlife regulations.

Now, you’re probably wondering if I ever did anything on this boat besides navigate, fish and eat sandwiches – all this while the poor man slaved away at the “guy stuff” for my fishing pleasure.

I never quite got the hang of tying knots, no matter how much I tried. Whenever my line broke, it was just easier for him to fix it. It wasn’t exactly textbook co-dependency, but close enough. I wish I could go back now and tie my own knots, damn it. Or at the very least, I wish that he had been firmer in insisting that I learn. If I ever fall in love again with another fishing fool, I’ll make sure to enroll in Knots 101 straightaway.

I did at least file down the barbs of my hooks so that the metal would slide easily off a fish’s bony mouth, minimizing damage during the struggle. Besides, it was more sportsman-like to give the fish a fighting chance.

But perhaps I've been telling you a bit of a tall tale, which anglers are wont to do. You see, it’s not as if he never fished -- it’s just that I caught more. Sometimes, even when we anchored in one spot for a long time and I had absolutely no need whatsoever for his assistance, he would try so many different strategies that he would inevitably spend more time fussing with tackle than with his hands on the reel.

I used to say that fishing was like Secret deodorant: strong enough for a man but made for a woman.

Actually, it was more like this: requiring a man’s strength, but also a woman’s patience.


After countless weekends engaged in this activity called fishing, I realized that I had become more than an angler – I had morphed into a naturalist of sorts. After all, in order to catch fish, we had to be experts on their behavior; we had to understand how they interacted with their environment. Everything was connected.

I had turned into a bird watcher, a botanist, an environmental steward and a lover of unspoiled Florida.

Out in the silent, vast territory of the Florida Bay, every mangrove looked the same against the flat horizon. The muddy water, colored like pea-soup, ran endlessly under the weight of big skies. It was easy to lose perspective here, especially in oppressive heat, but instead, our observation skills grew keen -- every breath of wind, every shift in the tides, every flutter of a heron’s wings, every shriek of a hawk, every falling leaf, every blooming flower – everything struck the senses deeply and the soul even deeper.

The smell of the Everglades at sunrise, that sweet indescribable scent of this amazing ecosystem taking its first collective breath at dawn, is something I will never, ever forget.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Planet Manola: The Truth Is Out There

Random news, commentary and photographs. Updated at least once every menstrual cycle, if not more frequently. If you are easily offended, do not read on!


On the one-year anniversary of my heart troubles, my dear friend Stephanie Quilao, publisher of Back in Skinny Jeans, asked me to write a guest post on her blog about a very personal issue I've never discussed here.

She urged me to share my untold story because I have recently made a complete recovery from a crippling, long-term episode of anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. And in the process of getting my life back, I lost 50 pounds.

You may be surprised to learn that I started this blog in one of the darkest moments of my life. In the post, I explain why the quirky phrase "a single woman's guide to chronic living" is so significant.

I thought it would be challenging to discuss this condition publicly, but the truth is, there is nothing to be afraid of and no reason for holding back. Millions of people worldwide suffer from anxiety disorder and if I can help ONE person find inspiration and hope, it will all have been worthwhile!

Read "Overcoming agoraphobia, panic attacks and losing 50lbs in the process" at Back in Skinny Jeans.

Thank you Stephanie for encouraging me to write this post. As always, it's an honor to contribute to your incredible, inspirational blog!

By the way ... Stephanie will be speaking at a BlogHer session on Saturday. If you're attending, don't miss it!


On an unrelated note, I found out yesterday that this blog is in very good company! Citylink Magazine, where I used to write a column, considered Sex and the Beach as one of four of South Florida's sexiest blogs written by singles. The other three were Ipanemic, Naked Boy Chronicles and Restaurant Gal.

Thanks Citylink!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Planet Manola: Of Poems and Plants

Random news, commentary and photographs. Updated at least once every menstrual cycle, if not more frequently.


Not long ago, I bumped into my high school English teacher while taking the Metrorail downtown. Peggy Hall is retired now, but she and her partner Sandra Riley (another former teacher) have been writing poems, books and making films for years.

I just love Hall's homegrown South Florida verse in the form of a classical Italian sonnet. What local can't relate to this?

Seasonal Amnesia

Miami summer skies, puff-bloated black
by three o'clock, chase faces red or pale
from pink cabanas by the pools, assail
slow picnic parties with swift thunder cracks
and scare us all with lightning rickrack
quick-basted down from sky to sea—I shall
desist from piling up these dire details
and simply ask, Knowing this, who'd come back?

The old, who rise to take diurnal walks,
the young, who bed the day until sunset,
some Witnesses, who knock from door to door,
flambéed tourists, who come to shop and gawk,
and optimistic natives, who "forget"
each daily storm and crowd the blonde seashore.

As a highly creative team, Riley and Hall started a non-profit arts and culture organization that puts on some shows each year. This coming Saturday, July 12, Hall and others will be performing some of her poetry at the New Theatre in Coral Gables. Other events will follow in the summer. Visit Crystal Parrot Players for details.


Speaking of poetry, I recently read my Pillow Poems at The Bohemia Room on Lincoln Road. Joining me were two other fellow poets, Carlos Miller and Brad Schenck, as well as 411 colleague Suzy C.

The theme that night was Cunnilinguistics: Erotic Poetry. You'd think that'd be a natural for me, right?

Our gorgeous, vivacious host welcomed me warmly but the audience reception was lukewarm. Not that there was anything wrong with the audience or with my little verses; my coffee-house-meets-boudoir groove was simply out of place. Kind of like that movie Save the Last Dance -- ballet in a hip-hop world.

However, I just loved the down and dirty rhythmic spoken word style of the other poets, so deliciously raunchy and unabashed. One woman sang a beautiful, soulful song -- a weekly crowd favorite. Surrounded by such talent and loungy DJ interludes, I can't think of a better way to spend late night on hump day, even if it will occasionally interfere with beauty sleep. I'll definitely be back, but first this white girl better play some funky music.


I think I might have to change the title of this blog. After all, what could be sexier than a tryst in a lush, tropical garden, surrounding by the sweet, intoxicating scent of ylang ylang? Well, if you can get past the heat, humidity, bugs and pesky raccoons ... but heck, at least you wouldn't have any sand lodged in your crotch!

I started a new blog where I can go crazy with plant porn, but the only tryst I'm having in this garden is with those gorgeous trees, flowers and shrubs. And even if I just happened to slip on a banana peel and fall on top of a hunky, shirtless gardener, I wouldn't tell ... or would I?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Erotic Verse: Skinny Dipping

leda and the swan
A sudden splash: my sly eyes lowered still
Above the swaggering man, his thighs caressed
By the dark waves, my hands caught in his thrill,
He holds me helpless crest upon crest.

How can those terrified shy fingers roam
The wearied glory from my loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white foam
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders yet
The broken lust, the burning heart and flower
And past loves dead.

Being so swept up,

So mastered by the brute waves of the sea,
Did I put on his baggage with his power
Before the indifferent dick could let me be?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Planet Manola: Of Madames and Spinsters

Random news, commentary and photographs. Updated at least once every menstrual cycle, if not more frequently.

photo by shveckle Have you ever been out on a date and felt exactly like this? Photo by Shveckle.


A forum member at Talk Night Life posted a link to my Raleigh Runway Caper piece and inspired a little discussion, mainly about tourism. One member, however, expressed his opinion about Sex and the Beach:
that blog is pretty lame.

ohhhhh south beach, i love you i hate you i love you i hate you i blah blah blah
I realize this opinion was meant as negative criticism, but that second line is brilliant! Actually it made me laugh my ass off and I hope it gives my regular readers at least a good chuckle. Enjoy.


Just when you thought Lincoln Road's Chabad bus synagogue-on-wheels was quaint, another bus comes along that gives whole new meaning to local culture, and by culture I don't mean the seat stains on the 25 cent South Beach local!

Nope, if you've seen that big-ass limo bus tooling around town, you've spotted a movable feast that would put Hemingway's debauchery to shame. According to The Herald, we now know for whom the bus blows:

Undercover Miami Beach detectives Sunday busted a brothel-on-wheels, which charged $40 admission and offered sex for sale inside.

On board: prostitutes, fully stocked bars and the bus' madame -- Christine Morteh, 29, of Miramar.

Cops have charged Morteh with engaging in, directing others to and deriving support from prostitution, as well as operating a business without license.

Oh for pete's sake! What took so long for this cult of fellatio bus to arouse erections instead of suspicion?

In an unconfirmed report, one male tourist arrested for soliciting prostitution on the bus claimed he was confused by false advertising. "Me no speak English. Me thought it was Duck Tour! D-U-C-K. Duck like quack quack, yes?" [via 411]


In the movie Baby Mama, Kate (Tina Fey) has this interesting exchange with her mother, Rose (Holland Taylor). Rose doesn't understand why her daughter wants to be a single mom.

Rose: "Now, we have all adjusted to your alternative lifestyle."
Kate: "Mother, being single is not an alternative lifestyle."
Rose: "It is when you are 37 years old."

Ugh. Whenever I tell people I'm single, most react incredulously. "How's that possible? Why have you never been married?" And I quickly reply: "Because I avoided two divorces." That usually shuts them up.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Hurricane Season Boyfriend 2008: Hope Blows

amazing boner driftwood miami
Actually, hope floats on Biscayne Bay. Look it, I don't make this shit up! This extraordinary piece of driftwood was just lying there during low tide, ok? Taken at Matheson Hammock Park by yours truly.

Since June 1st, I've been thinking about whom I would choose as this year's Hurricane Season Boyfriend. In seasons past, I've chosen men for their ability to perform duties around the house who would also be able to service me, in spite of the fact that hurricanes are an instant buzzkill. Yes, after the beer gets warm and the ice costs more than a gallon of gas, even the most rambunctious penis could shrivel up and become one sweaty, cranky bastard.

In 2006, I was so moved by the prodigious size of Colin Farrell's schlong (readers, do you recall that endless, obnoxious editorial?) that I thought of choosing him until the unfortunate tragedy of Katrina reminded me that Harry Connick Jr. not only made me swoon because he croons, but also because he could help save a city in all his shirtless pectoral glory.

Yet there's one thing Harry darlin' couldn't do and that's cook, which is why I chose chef Robert Irvine in 2007. Any pair of biceps that can whip up a bearnaise sauce on the sterno and hold me up for a good hump against the fridge is a priority item in my list of hurricane supplies!

This year, though, I've drawn a blank. Well, maybe -- a remote maybe -- Brad Pitt. But he's so busy making babies and building environmentally-friendly homes in New Orleans that in all fairness I don't think he'd be able to shuffle his time between Angelina and Manola.

No, no ... I'm afraid that this year I've drawn a real blank, a complete and utter emotional, libidinal blank. I've gone numb and I'm not even taking Prozac! Perhaps it's the fact that I'm 40 and that I don't give a shit about hurricanes anymore, much less that other heavy drop in the barometer -- the social pressure against all things single. Plus, I'm tired of that constant "preparedness" cycle. Think about it: you work so hard at even getting to a relationship and then the storm blows over and your happy ever after becomes an aftermath.

And you have to wonder, what happens after the aftermath? That's where the true test lies. Most women wouldn't want a hurricane season boyfriend; they'd want a man for all seasons -- one who could bear those stings and arrows of outrageous weather patterns.

As in hurricanes, so in relationships. You don't just have to prepare for the bad shit. You have to prepare for the bad shit after the bad shit.

Oh heck. As a Miami native, I've come to the conclusion that hurricanes are just like bad cramps. I have a rare genetic mutation that spares me from PMS and makes me forget I am a menstruating organism for most of the month until my boobs get bigger and start to hurt. I've been going through this seemingly endless cycle since I was nine years old and yet every single time my body signals menstruation a little voice in my head says "Oh really? This again?"

So that's how I feel about this year's hurricane season. "Oh really? This again?" And no, a more pronounced cleavage is hardly a gauge for tropical disturbances in the Atlantic.

I've been doing this hurricane thing on my own for so long that I don't think I'll need any help this time around. Let's take things easy. How about dinner and a movie first, before we start hammering up shutters? And how about you get to choose your own name, instead of being baptized randomly A to Z by the National Weather Service?

And besides, I already had one torrid, traumatic relationship with a storm, which is kind of groovy. My life's story since August 1992 has always been expressed as B.A, A.A. (before Andrew, after Andrew). I never say that about any of my ex-boyfriends! I've also never assigned categories to men, no matter what their wind speed.

When dealing with hurricanes and boyfriends, there are two very different tactical approaches and survival philosophies. Hurricanes: expect the worst but hope for the best. Men: expect the best, hope for the best but above all deserve the best.

Ladies, when it comes to those unpredictable tempests, don't listen to the hurricane experts. Every year, they broadcast the same doom and gloom: "Global warming is the culprit. We're all going to die!" But let me tell you, if you're a single gal in this city, global whoring is likelier to do more damage, no matter how many shutters you smack down on a vulnerable heart.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Slab of Beef

matheson hammock miami
Somewhere in South Miami, a better beach to have sex: no buildings, no hotels, no tourists, no attitude ... just beach.

You can take the girl out of the beach but you can't take the beach out of the girl. Had you been an iguana sunning on the shore, you may have overheard this mobile phone conversation at Matheson Hammock Park.

Manola: OMG, there are two horseshoe crabs mating!
Friend: Really?
Manola: Yeah, it's quite beautiful. Male is latched on to female and the two are gliding gracefully through the water. I can see them underwater because I'm wearing polarized sunglasses.
Friend: What? Your sunglasses are bipolar?
Manola: No, polarized sunglasses. They reduce glare on the water. Great for fishing.
Friend: So those crabs are having sex? Oh, I didn't know crabs had sex. I just thought the male spewed all his sperm in the water. You know, like salmon.
Manola: Gosh, I really don't anything about crab sex. Crabs and sex ... a friend of mine had to wash her sheets once in hot water and lice shampoo ... wait a minute! That may be true of other crabs, but these horseshoe critters like to get down and dirty. This is only one pair here now but I've seen hundreds of them before. Like a horse shoe crab orgy.
Friend: Ew.
Manola: Yeah, not that I've ever been, but I've heard it's just like hanging out a swingers club in Fort Lauderdale. All these people humping with no taste for privacy.
Friend: Well, I thought that crab eggs were fertilized by free-floating sperm.
Manola: Oh God, not the kind that squirms up your leg and makes you freak out about your period being late?
Friend: Yeah.
Me: Free-floating sperm. Gosh, if you're a sperm and don't have a good sense of direction, you're screwed, aren't you?
Friend: Yeah, but just think about it. You're competing with a lot of other dudes who don't give a shit about where they're going.
Manola: You know, come to think of it, don't guys spew all over everything anyway? If he pulls out, it's a sticky mess on your belly.
Friend: Yeah and if you give him a blow job ...
Manola: It's not Cartier.
Friend: Hell no!
Manola: I don't remember what sperm tastes like.
Friend: Do you remember that scene from Sex and the City where Carrie just wants a man to lie on top of her?
Manola: Oh yeah! She goes to San Francisco for a book signing and hopes to high heaven she'll get laid with Big.
Friend: Yeah, I think she says something like "I just want to feel the weight of a man on me."
Manola: Shit, I miss that.
Friend: (Sigh)
Manola: Crap, why can't I just go to Winn-Dixie, buy a Fred Flinstone size T-bone steak and slap it on my body?
Friend: So you want a slab of beef instead of a boyfriend?
Manola: What's the difference? It would just lie on top of me with no regard for my pleasure.
Friend: At least the beef doesn't spew ...
Manola: But the steak is warm ...
Friend: And it doesn't have crabs ...
Manola: Holy shit! This shirtless jogger dude just walked up to the crabs and tried to poke them. Can't the crabs get it on without being hassled?
Friend: Is he a hunk?
Manola: Nah, more like ground chuck.
Friend: Would you do him?
Manola: Probably. Wrapped in bacon with Bearnaise sauce.

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Sex and the City of Pleasant Living

As I settle into my new life in South Miami, the city of pleasant living, the possibility of dating again has begun to rear its ugly circumcised head. But what would I know about ugly? I haven't seen a live penis since the pre-construction phase of Stonehenge!

Speaking of the past, that's precisely what I'm determined to no longer do. I've put the past behind me. You see, before I could even contemplate the idea of ever having to gaze at another penis, I needed to develop a healthy relationship with my past.

Uh-huh. These days, I like my past. I came to terms with it. Long estranged now is that ridiculous (yet important) vow of celibacy and my fractured relationship with Mr. Thinks He's Huge.

The past is just like my big fat Cuban ass -- it's there, it supports me, it's my foundation. But I don't have to look at, do I?

I take that back. I wholly embrace the reality of having a big Cuban ass that is never going to go away. I like my ass. And you know what, sometimes I wish I could look at it more often, but I shouldn't. Such narcissistic rear-view mirror indulgence would put a serious strain on my neck!

Anyway, I can however look at the past in ways that will make it easier for me to leave my comfort zone and no, I'm not talking about all the padding on my luxury caboose. I'm talking about taking risks with an even bigger part of me -- my heart.

As I saw Sex and the City this weekend, observing the fabulous four unravel the details of their love lives, I also saw my own life as a movie in the context of the bigger picture. Not just my life, but that of many friends. How many loves lost? How many conquered?

This weekend, the very same Miss Boobette who inspired me to start this blog in 2005 is coming back to Miami for a bachelorette party. She met the man of her dreams, but he lived in LA. Move away, she did. Engaged, they got. Married, they shall be.

Damn it. At the end of the day, it seems like the most permanent memories I have of South Beach are the homeless folks scooping a meal out of a garbage can.

Everyone I cared about in the past who has found love has moved away from South Beach. It's always a leaving South Beach story. And like all good stories, the denouement always comes on the verge of a climax, in many cases with a pre-packaged carton box conclusion: "Ya know, just the other day, as I was crossing the causeway ..."

Perhaps I should tempt fate and change the description of this blog to A Single Woman's Guide to Chronic Loving. So long as I inhale and exhale this miracle of being alive, I can't help but live. And maybe, just maybe ... I can't help but love.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Raleigh Runway Caper

Video shot in March 2008 of the now infamous pool.

"Effortlessly chic, impossibly seductive." -- Conde Nast Traveler

"Full of shit, impossibly snobby." -- The Locals Guide to BS in SB

So last Sunday some friends and I decided to meet at The Raleigh Hotel for a leisurely afternoon of mojitos, sandwiches and good conversation -- an activity we've enjoyed more than once in the past.

At one such gathering, I had spoken with a hospitality manager who told me that The Raleigh wanted to bring class and sophistication back to South Beach. "It's not all about the clubs anymore," he explained. "We want to make the hotel more attractive to locals."

I couldn't agree more. The Raleigh is a historic Collins Avenue property with great class appeal -- sophisticated, yet casual. It's more expensive, to be sure, than hanging out at Flamingo Park with a bottle of Mad Dog, but heck, when you "do" hotel on Collins Avenue, you're paying for the fantasy of genteel grace, even if it means farting Krugerrands out of your ass.

When we arrived at the hotel on Sunday, we had no idea that the property would be closed to the public on Monday for an entire week. Apparently Karl Lagerfeld would be in town to present Chanel's cruise collection. And by cruise, I don't mean the verb, you know -- smack talk such as gay men looking for bathroom sex, papi chulos wagging their tongues at chongas in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Ocean Drive, or hookers pulling tricks by the Setai, no -- by cruise I mean clothes that wealthy women wear on big boats.

Since we knew nothing about this fashion event, we thought that the pool had been cordoned off for maintenance. Mind you, the only unusual feature about the pool on Sunday was some kind of white sheeting wrapped around its shallow edge, which we couldn't see very clearly from our lounge chairs at the far end of the tree-covered patio.

One of my friends had used his telephoto lens to capture the fountain above the pool when a security thug, dressed in black CIA-style, approached him. "Let me see the photos," he demanded. "Don't take photos of the pool," he grunted firmly. "Chanel people."

Chanel people. Holy houndstooth! Did you hear that? Chanel people! The hotel pool was being held hostage by Chanel people!

We had to suck on our sugar cane sticks just to keep from laughing. God forbid we should be undercover paparazzi spying on the precious runway! But what runway? There was no fucking runway! Good grief, I was already hastily scribbling on a napkin -- The Mystery of the Phantom Runway.

Since none of us intended to leak photos to Women's Wear Daily, we continued carrying on in our own little corner of the patio, minding our own business and having a darn good time. We took occasional snapshots of ourselves, sent messages to Twitter and live stream video to Qik, but never aimed any of our electronic devices at the God damn freakin' pool.

What's more, we saw no evidence of the so-called Chanel people. Well, actually -- one plain, unremarkable-looking woman walked by with a Chanel bag, but she could've been a regular hotel guest sporting a knock-off. Other than that, we saw no models, no fashionistas, no celebrities, no hairdressers, no make-up artists, no stagehands, no lights, no props -- NOTHING. We never even caught a whiff of Chanel No. 5, although the scent of clothes dryer did waft in from the laundry room.

karl lagerfeldMen in black: Karl Lagerfield sworn in as director of Homeland Security. The Chanel anti-polyester task force has recently uncovered 12 bails of polyester/cotton/spandex blend smuggled via a container unloaded at the Port of Miami. The illegal cargo has an estimated street value of three mojito pitchers at The Raleigh Hotel. The find will hopefully lead to a bust of a highly dangerous international bad fabric cartel.

We did get a runway show all right. Security thugs, hotel managers, waiters and a man who might've been a Chanel person lorded it over us. As you already know, first it was don't take photos of the pool. Simple enough, right?

But later it was don't take photos in the general direction of the pool.

Eventually, it was don't take photos of yourselves followed by don't take any photos at all.

Finally, after one of my friends asked why we could no longer take photos of ourselves, it was I'm going to confiscate your camera and I'm going to call the cops.


I could see the headline now:


Perhaps it sounds like my friends and I were acting like a bunch of uncooperative assholes, but consider this: we spent a total of $666 at The Raleigh Hotel, valet parking included, over a period of several hours and we graciously refrained from taking photos of the pool. Had we been told the moment we walked into the hotel that ALL PHOTOGRAPHY WAS ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED, PLEASE PARDON THE INCONVENIENCE, we would've obliged, but the message was never clear, until the words cops and confiscation came up toward the end of the evening.

For real? Can a hotel confiscate your camera and threaten you with police action if you never signed a release?

And all this over a fucking fashion event that wasn't yet even taking place?

Oy vay! Raleigh, darling: why so much tough love? Please, we adore you! Next time you have some high-falutin' I'm-too-sexy-for-mere-mortals show come into town, do me a favor, don't spoil our sweet mojitos with a bunch of sourpuss faces and passive aggressive security measures. I bet Carl Fisher is rolling in his grave right now!

Besides, you never know if those wacky locals who patronize hotel lounges are up to their asses in social media. Heck, one of them could be a forum editor whose opinion is trusted by thousands of readers worldwide!

Oh, yeah. It's all my fault. I was wearing Guerlain!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Alexander's Note

alexander's note
I come from a family that left their homeland with nothing but the clothes on their backs, so it's interesting that I have little, if any, attachment to personal belongings. I detest clutter, but my mother hoards all her countless knick-knacks with the possessive zealousness of a child. Her life is measured by an inventory of things she owns, whereas my life is measured by an inventory of things I've done.

I sometimes wonder if her sense of loss inspires the compulsion to be a pack rat; I also wonder if my seeming detachment betrays some fear of loss. This much I do know: what I possess should never possess me.

I once promised myself, however, that I'd always keep a treasure chest -- one simple box filled with all the little things that shore up memories.

Recently, after making the decision to free myself of most possessions, I rummaged through the box and came across a stash of notes from high school. I laughed at myself for holding onto such peculiar keepsakes -- the yellowed ruled paper, folded into little squares, carrying words that are now over two decades old, evoking the thoughts and feelings of people who filled my life with joy then, reviving long-gone friendships that left their mark on my heart.

I had to pause and think about high school in the digital age. Do friendships forge differently over text messages? Do students know the mischievous pleasure of writing long letters during boring classes? Do the hands of lovers touch in the hallway as they exchange secret notes?

I picked a random note from the stash. It was from Alexander, a friend with whom I once shared a night of passionate kissing -- a night that took both of us by surprise.

You remember that night, don't you? I know you do, even though you weren't there.

Alexander and I were studying for college placement exams when we realized we already knew everything we needed to know except the one thing we didn't know -- each other.

David Bowie serenaded our tentative bodies. To this day, I cannot help but think of Alexander when I listen to Major Tom. Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do ... specifically, I cannot help but think of Alexander's tongue, his smooth blond hair and long hands. If I close my eyes, I can recall a faint, salty scent and the intangible softness of his love making. But I didn't know he was so gentle then, because I didn't yet know much about men's embraces. This was just the beginning of my life's inventory.


It's 12:50 am, post-facto. I've been thinking to myself -- not for long actually, just the ride home. This is the way I see it. At the beginning of the school year, nobody could've predicted this . . . and no one can predict what will happen now. I understand exactly what you mean -- "all or nothing." I think we should wait to see what exactly happens between us -- tonight and this week -- before we make any standing decisions. Could this have been a whim? I don't think so, but it certainly wasn't planned to work this way. If it comes, fine; if it doesn't, that's fine also. I need a friend, let's not ruin a good friendship over passion.

All my love,


Alexander and I would never become lovers and while the night passed into memory without any awkwardness, our friendship would dissipate, as so many friendships did, after graduation.

We weren't in love; we were just curious.

I smiled as I read his note, twenty three years and many embraces later. I was impressed by his diction and touched by the delicacy of his feelings. The fact that he took the time to write the note, that he thought of a potential "us" that warranted contemplation, that he handed it to me first thing in the morning at school -- all of these details led me to the conclusion that perhaps we weren't so immature at 18 years of age.

No money can buy this memory, a memory that swells my heart with a life lived well. I'm glad I stashed this old, crumpled piece of paper because over the years, it acquired new meaning and afforded me a glimpse into that hazy realm of the eternal. A life's worth of loves, of writings -- these are the things I'd keep under lock and key, these are the cherished possessions.