Saturday, November 30, 2013


vietnamese silk robe

A friend of mine gave me a luxurious silk robe for my 46th birthday.

At first, I thought it would just be a beautiful wardrobe item to wear at home.  But it has become more than a work of art that dangles on the wooden paravan behind my bed.

At night, after a long day of toil, I wear my birthday suit instead of pajamas.  I practice a beauty ritual of bathing, followed by moisturizing my skin with softly-scented lotions and oils. Some nights, it is lavender.  Other nights, citrus scents like lemongrass, bergamot and ylang-ylang perfume my soft skin. If I'm feeling frisky, I'll resort to my trusted nutmeg.

When I first wore the robe to bed and let the silk touch my flesh, I felt a kinship with the fabric. Something magical happened. In the absence of a lover, I felt loved. I felt enveloped, swaddled in some kind of gentle sensuality. I felt embraced by a sense of peace, as if God was holding a tender bird in his hands.

The robe caresses me. The robe gives me sweet dreams about love, lightness, joy and well, perhaps a naughty thought here and there.

The robe has become part of my meditation ritual -- the one I practice in my bed, which is a tantric sacred space, even when no other body lies next to me.

When I awake at sunrise, I remove the robe and hang it back on the wooden paravan. I face the day naked but soothed. Never raw.

Every woman should enjoy a robe such as this, even when she sleeps next to her beloved. Or even if she sleeps alone.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Way to a Woman's Heart Is ... Well, Through Her Heart

A woman's body is a temple. A woman's heart is a place of worship. When a man honors a woman with love, respect and fidelity, amazing things happen. Ladies, protect your heart from unfaithful men who prey on your vulnerability. Let yourselves receive from men who recognize the goddess in you, who will adore you for who you are, taking the best and worst of you all in, embracing all that is feminine in you, including the tempests and calm seas, but always with honor and devotion.

I'll share with you a more prosaic analogy. A woman's heart is like a tootsie pop. You have to lick it hard to get to the soft center.  But it's worth it.

My words above.

Quote from the video:

"At the center of every woman is a mystery that restores you to wholeness, which is in every woman, but you need to find it with one woman. And if you are lucky, you will find one woman who will guide you through the gates."

Video via Cheryl -- an amazing life coach, artist and friend.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Love is Caregiving

Love is the Best Medicine

“May I warm up something in the microwave for you?”

A man who never was and isn’t and will probably never will be my lover gave me love in a moment I needed it most.

 In my frazzled, sleep-deprived state, after rescuing my mother nearly dead in a pool of blood -- she had a bad fall,  almost cracked her skull and miraculously survived -- the hired nursing assistant gave me a gift that wasn’t wrapped in ribbons.

The gift was him – or more appropriately -- his care and attention.

And most importantly, I gave myself the gift of receiving.

A gentle giant. A big guy with backbone. Someone I can count on in my time of greatest need.

While it was his paid duty, there was something incredibly intimate and tender about both of us tucking my aging parents into bed. Their dead-weight bodies and sagging skin would be the only touch we would share. Their complaints – which in Alzheimer’s patients usually only last for a few minutes before short-term memory dissipates -- were punctuated by knowing smiles and glances between us. It’s as if we had children together.

I’ve been enduring years of many hospitalizations in which I act as the first responder, supervising the triage for my parents.

This time around, once mom was discharged and safely back home in bed, the hired caregiver had the presence of heart to focus on my obvious anxiety and ask: “what can I do for you?”

It's the first time we had hired help.

I was confused and elated. I hadn’t heard those words from anyone beloved in a long time. And most certainly, the nursing aid wasn’t getting paid to fix dinner for the primary caregiver.

I never ate that microwaved dinner with him. I’m sure it would have been a great cup of noodles.

But there are miracles.

More importantly, the kindness of his intention soothed me. The gesture alone fed my heart and I walked back home alone with a huge grin on my face. My heart was full – the best non-sex and non-meal I’ve ever had.

I’ll probably never see this caregiver again, but I’m grateful for the lesson he taught me: all forms of love are a form of caregiving.

When you give so much love unconditionally, you deserve it in return, even from a stranger and much more -- incredibly more, by the bucket full -- from any beloved in your life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Drowning While Breathing Air

elian gonzalez miami
Drawing by yours truly.

Rewind to 1999. Elian Gonzalez, his mother and her boyfriend came over from Cuba on a small aluminum boat that started taking in water. The mother drowned but the boy survived when he was placed on an inner tube and was miraculously rescued by fishermen in the Florida straits.

Word on the street was that he was guided by dolphins. It's not surprising. We know dolphins are incredibly sensitive, empathetic creatures, although they can also by very aggressive.

A custody battle ensued between Elian's biological father and the U.S. over who should keep the child. Miami was rife with controversy and many protests took place near Little Havana, where Elian lived temporarily with relatives. People left signs and flowers at the humble home, which still stands.

Eventually, Elian returned to Cuba, but not before a heated political debate and an eventual intervention when U.S. border patrol agents burst through the front door to send a very frightened little boy back to the communist nation.

The media didn't focus much on the mother and that saddened me. She did what she thought was best for her son, which any mother can understand. The feeling in her heart when she was about to go under -- releasing her son to the will of God and fate in that perilous crossing -- is what I tried to capture in this drawing. At the time, no one in the court of public opinion really honored her sacrifice.

After I drew this, I asked my parents -- who were then cogent and able bodied -- to put a copy of this drawing on the doorstep at a protest they attended.  I don't know if Elian ever saw it.

And I revisit this drawing now because this is what it feels like to take care of two Alzheimer's patients who have been married since 1950 and also came from Cuba. My parents didn't plan on me. I was an accident, post-exile.

They had me later in life, close their forties, near the age I am now.

Maybe I am the dolphin who is carrying them afloat to their final days in the most compassionate way possible.

It's just that sometimes I wish I had my own dolphins to save me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday to Sex and the Beach

Oh dear, I've been so caught up with caregiving, I forgot to celebrate this blog's eight birthday. I've come a long way since 2005, writing about everything from sex and relationships to food, fishing, Florida travel, pirates, culture and much more.

I'm still on "old" blogger, but you know, if it aint broke, don't fix it. Authoring a blog has opened so many doors in creativity -- writing, video, teaching, social media campaigns and speaking gigs have been abundant.

It changed my life, which is why I've told my students, never underestimate the power of self-publishing online.

Happy birthday to my little blog, started on October 5 as a total lark.  Who knew?

PS If you're old enough to guess correctly who's in the above photo, you get bonus points!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Post Not Partum Depression

I never in my wildest dreams figured I’d be a single mom at age 45. My children are in their eighties.  They weigh about 150 pounds each. They poop, pee and need to eat soft foods because of teeth issues. Sometimes, they should be using diapers, although that’s considered an indignity. We go to different doctors for check ups every week and deal with visits from phlebotomists. Instead of writing more blog posts, I’ve become a medical historian and have also “recorded” stool samples.

So yeah, now I’ve got two households, with endless medical, household and financial issues involved; yet no insurance company considers my “children” frail enough for therapy and God forbid the caregiver should get any respite.

I’m so busy taking care of my two “kids,” that I don’t have time or energy to figure it all out and in the meantime, I’ve lost important clients and networking opportunities.  I barely have enough energy to write, although I do get some support from siblings, which I appreciate.

Of course, it’s an honor to take care of my parents, not only because they gave me life, but also because they took care of me. I love them with all my heart and I wouldn’t change a darn thing.

But dear Lord, this country needs to wake up on making elder care a little easier for caregivers, especially when your charge are two eighty-year old folks with Alzheimer’s.

I know we'll be OK.  But my heart breaks a little every day to see these two beautiful people fall apart, no matter how much care I give them and how many sacrifices I make.

Related: an article about caregiving on NPR.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Falling in Trust


Sigmund Freud most famously asked: “What do women want?” but never quite figured it out.

Well, let's posit the following:  in English, it’s a small, five-letter word starting in T and ending in T, with only one vowel in between.


A very fitting vowel -- it's a U and looks like a receptacle -- a basket of sorts, with its feminine energy, able to contain and support the love it's carrying.  But it's also right next to the S, a smooth consonant that bumps into the more masculine, harder Ts that become bookends, conveying that love.  And the R is rippling in between, a fixture of pleasure.

When you think of the word T R U S T, it almost emulates lovemaking, doesn't it?  Savor that word the next time you kiss your beloved.

So what do women want?

Absolute and unconditional trust in the person you love.

T R U S T is a beautiful bed you make and it's not just about cotton sheets or expensive mattresses.  It's a bed of bliss you can rest in and relax in; a peaceful place where your heart resides; and a space without any worries about this love. Of course, that place isn’t built in a day, and it may likely require a confusing, messy construction -- but why settle for less than what your heart and body desires?

Love is nurtured in this sacred space.

When we fall in love, what we really fall in is a place of trust.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Song from the Heart

deva premal and miten
Deva Premal and Miten bring yoga mantras to beautiful life in melodies we can all chant.

Several years ago, I trained to become a yoga teacher and on the last day of “school,” we graduating students had a special treat – Deva Premal and Miten came to the studio on Miami Beach. It just so happened that my “final exam” – teaching a full 60-minute class – was right before the arrival of these two amazing performers who would sing with us in the cozy studio space.

My class went well, but I must admit there were a few jitters.  We were all eager with anticipation to sing with Deva Premal and Miten at this kirtan-style community sing.

I remember one exercise quite clearly:  we had to walk around the room in circular fashion, honoring the person before us by holding hands in prayer position, silently expressing “namaste” while chanting a mantra.  Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes deeply while singing? It’s unnerving, but very powerful. It breaks down walls.

Namaste means “the light and love in me honors the light and love in you and because of this, we are one.”  It’s a universal expression of peace and compassion.

Chanting mantras was always a special component of all my classes thereafter.  Yoga isn't just about poses. It's about expressing peace and compassion and sometimes when we're afraid to vocalize, we hold things in.

Eventually, I did create a voice, through this blog.

I still teach yoga, just not poses.

Anyone can learn the mechanics of a pose. But can you learn getting in touch with your heart?  Voice might be the way.

I don’t consider myself a singer, but the whole purpose of mantras is that anyone can do it, even if your voice sucks.  The repetitive sounds help to focus the mind and to decrease stress, which puts you (hopefully) in a more peaceful state of being.  This really isn’t some esoteric trick – all major spiritual practices include vocalization for that very reason.

And we also do it in ritual -- rosaries, mala beads and other prayer traditions that involve repetitive action.

I was raised a Catholic and sang the same songs over and over again at church on Sundays. In high school, when I studied music in a formal manner, I’d sing a song about peace with a Jewish friend.  We were surprised we grew up with the same melody, although her words were in Hebrew and mine in Spanish.  But the syllables matched perfectly.  Shalom and paz were two words we shared in our hearts.

We still do.

Music is primal. It unites us. It brings us back to ourselves. It is about rejoicing from the heart space and creating something sacred in such a simple way.

But it doesn’t have to be so deep. Just sing in the shower. Sing in the rain. Just sing.

Listening to Deva and Miten chant this weekend in Miami brought back a beautiful flood of memories.

And it means a lot more to me now, because my mother has Alzheimer’s and music is one of the few things that make her light up. It’s as if that precious part of her memory remains untouched.  She hums melodies and perfectly in tune.

And so I remembered the power of music to uplift out of spaces that are sometimes silent and dark, when memory begins to fail.  The therapeutic value of chanting (or singing whatever you love) is, as far as I’m concerned, incredibly undervalued.  No pill can replace belting out to your heart’s content.

We all have voice.

And we also “travel” at the speed of sound – our heartbeats and the music within us.  The music we know instictively from the moment our hearts start beating in the womb.

My weekend ended at an unrelated event, where a little girl who aspires to become a singer befriended me.  She was shy; I encouraged her to sing. Her voice was a bit croaky at first, but she reminded me of my mom and how that melody she was singing flowed like a spring of hope. Yeah, I know that sounds corny.  But when your mom doesn’t remember much except melodies, it all makes sense.

Sing, chant, hum, whistle, dance, laugh -- whatever makes you happy. Silence is golden but so is music. The heart is a musical instrument.  Don’t neglect it.

Honor your song from the heart.

I am grateful to these musicians for reminding me of that special lesson.


Deva Premal and Miten, along with flute player Manose, will be on tour through the U.S. and Canada in the coming weeks. I was granted a complimentary ticket to experience the amazing concert, which I highly recommend. All opinions my own. More information at Deva Premal and Miten.  Photo courtesy of website.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Eight Sexual Positions Even South Beach Hookers Don’t Dream Of


Dear readers, you know I don’t typically do book reviews, but I just couldn’t resist this one. The Kama Sutra Bath Book had me at “water.” After all, this is Sex and the Beach, right? Although I do write about stuff that’s more interesting than sex, yeah … whatever.

For those of you still stuck on the Mayflower in the 17th century, the original Kama Sutra is an ancient tome from India, a portion of which is devoted to sexual pleasure. Contrary to popular perception, much of it is also devoted to living in a state of grace and love, upholding family life.

Think of it like Martha Stewart meets 50 Shades of Chrysanthemums.

Well, you gotta have sex to have a family, right?

So behold, this little book, which easily fits into the palm of your six-foot tall, body-builder pool boy. It has a whopping eight pages of sexual positions you can try at home.

Now, let’s be fair here. One of the greatest signs of intimacy (and fun!) is being able to bathe or shower together. But getting frisky in the water is another thing. It’s slippery and wet and a bit more risky than doing it on your old, tired mattress.

Each page, illustrated by Nicole de Meneses, comes with (pardon the terrible pun) a rhyming couplet, in a goofy, Dr. Seuss style.

The book starts out with lotus pose – girl sits on guy as they hug each other -- which is easy enough in a tub. But there are other positions, like the hanging bow – man screwing woman while she does a full back bend with hands on the wet shower floor -- which even the most expert yogis shouldn’t try without a really good insurance policy and weeks of workouts at the gym. Make sure you turn the shower off before you attempt this pose, otherwise, the woman will get a good sinus neti pot cleaning as well.

And if he’s kissing your yoni blossom underwater (please google yoni if you don’t already know what that is … and no, it’s not a Cuban starch side dish with garlic sauce, that's yuca, not yoni) … then make sure he doesn’t drown.

Made of vinyl, the book, however, is a definitely a fun accessory for those watery, happy moments in your life with your beloved that don’t involve tears. It could inspire.

Here are my recommendations. Start simple: candles; luxurious, scented soaps; essential oils; a coconut shell full of scented Epsom salts; a rubber ducky; and if all else fails, a waterproof vibrator.

Or heck, well screw all that and how about just two bodies and 20 fingers?

And yourselves. That’s all you really need.

Oh, well wait ... you might want an anti-slip bath mat.  And if you are over the age of 50, some handicap rails.

But I digress. Let's get back to simple. There’s nothing like shampooing your lover’s hair with a good scalp massage or kissing when it’s already steamy. If you live in South Florida and have a pool under the moonlight with the frogs serenading at night, fireflies providing mood lighting and gators screwing in the swamp nearby, well then … what are you waiting for?

Just make sure, ladies, that you take proper precautions regarding lubrication, safe sex and birth control. The only mammals that typically have sex in water are called cetaceans, a.k.a. whales and dolphins. They have blowholes. Yeah, I know, some of my ex-boyfriends had blowholes, too.

The Kama Sutra Bath Book is fun, cute and very amusing. It’d make a great bachelorette party or gag anniversary gift. And it will definitely get you thinking about positions whether in or out of the water. If you subject your body to CrossFit, you’ll probably make this part of your WOD.

Besides the hanky-panky, bathing with a beloved is definitely one of the most intimate thing a couple can do and for this it gets a thumbs up from Sex and the Beach. And hey, who says you need a partner? You know, when he’s not at home, wink, wink ... I’ll leave that to your imagination.


The publicist sent me a complimentary review copy of this book, bla bla bla.

 Please check with your doctor if you have an orgasm that lasts for more than four hours, etc;

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peace Among the Ruins

12 years ago today, I was having lunch with a friend in Segovia, Spain -- the medieval city above a hill where an ancient Roman aqueduct still stands. One of the castles where Ferdinand and Isabella reigned also commands the skyline. It's here the merchant explorer Christopher Columbus may have made his plea to fund his voyage to the Indies.

A few hours before the first strike, I had been standing before the throne and thought: "Oh my, it's from this heavy, velvet chair that the order was given. America would eventually be discovered by Europeans. How far we've come in such a short amount of time."

Spain was silent, as in most small towns, during lunch time. We found ourselves in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant right next to the cathedral. Being Spain, though, the establishment had a TV -- soccer games, you know. Like many people around the world, we thought the news station was broadcasting a movie.

I walked up to the bar and there happened to be a U.S. expat sitting there. "It's real," he said. "No joke."

I don't know how I managed to finish my meal but I definitely slammed my wine. I wasn't able to think clearly for a couple of hours until my friend managed to buy me a phone card to dial home. I was shaking. I couldn't even press the dial pad on the public phone. Of course, all lines of communication were jammed busy.

I wouldn't be able to talk to family and friends for hours and it seemed like an eternity.

Walking among the silent cobblestoned streets of this fortress town while Spain was taking its siesta made me think of war. These ancient stones assuaged my anxiety. They also supported my precarious gait. "The stones are still here," I thought. "They're still here, in spite of the bloodshed, destruction and hatred that has lasted for eons among humans."

I knew that the ruins of the twin towers would only mean one thing. In the aftermath, the ruins would reveal the resilience of our people.

It took me two weeks to get home, not just because of some social commitments, but also because of flight issues. Oddly enough, I felt no fear during the 8-hour flight.

Since that fateful day, it's uncanny how many times I look at a clock and it reads 9:11. Mind you, I look at a clock many times during the day. But it's just bizarre how that number reappears in my sightline unintentionally, or perhaps intentionally.

Today is a reminder to find peace among the ruins of our lives, both personally and collectively as a nation.

Photo credit: t.bo79 on Flickr.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

10 Miami Women You've Probably Dated

man taking dump reading on toilet
Aren't we being a bit too picky, ladies? I mean when you really love someone, this is what you end up seeing every morning.

This one is for the guys.

I am so sick of the male bashing going on with the "Miami guys you've dated" posts both in Miami New Times and Huffington Post. What pisses me off more is this xenophobic attitude written by "outsiders" who think shit is wrong with Miami.  Nothing is wrong with Miami and yet everything is "wrong" with Miami. It's just another freakin' city, for pete's sake, populated with people from all over the world.  Get over it, already.

Grow up! If you don't like it, get the hell out! Why did you move here in the first place? Why are you still here? Maybe YOU are the problem.

No matter where you live, you manifest and attract what you are and how you live.  Yeah, I may be single right now, but I'm not ungrateful for some pretty awesome dating experiences I've had in the Magic City. Sure there have been some duds, but that could happen anywhere. I've met some really great guys here and who cares if the dating didn't result in marriage?  Sometimes dating is just that -- dating.

As my friend and relationship coach Gladys says, "men go on dates, women go on relationships."

So let's see, if it really takes two to tango, there's a reason why assholes attract each other in this mating dance.  Now, I'm obviously a woman and not a misogynist, but ladies, sometimes that so-called jerk you are dating doesn't know what the hell to do with you.  If you keep thinking he's a bad guy, well guess what? He's gonna end up being a bad guy -- ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If you really want to question why things aren't working, then look inside yourself.  The city has nothing to do with it.  Watch enough episodes of Sex and the City, and you know New York is not really the central character.  The narrative is really about the brave hearts of several women navigating the waters of sex, love and relationships. Same deal with Golden Girls, by the way, which was figuratively set in Miami.

So which type of Miami girl are you?  Be honest, now.

1.  You're the tourist or transient type who just wants casual sex, yet you complain when he bolts out the door.  Why are you expecting commitment if you don't act like someone who wants commitment?

2.  You're the ultra-vain girl who expects to be treated like a queen, but you play hard to get and don't give the guy the time of day unless he's got cash. You may have missed out on a good guy just because he didn't have an Amex black card. If you think vagina is a gold digging tool let me introduce you to a shovel that picks up a shallow emotional life instead of real love.

3. You're the woman who doesn't give a divorced guy a chance. And by divorced guy, I mean FULLY divorced, with some recovery time to spare.  And what's more, why do we give divorced fathers a hard time in those cases when they are actually devoted dads who are working hard to support their kids? If you don't want that situation, then don't date divorced fathers or otherwise, accept his baggage. You've got yours, too.

4. You're that gal who saves all her cash for plastic surgery enhancements on your body while you put no focus on your spiritual side -- and yet you want a guy to appreciate you for who you really are? Who the hell are you, anyway? A silicon-filled barbie doll?  What happened to your heart? Yes, it's important to stay beautiful, but at what cost?

5.  You're that lady who gives a hand and then lets the guy take the whole arm. You don't set any boundaries. If you don't want guys to treat you like crap, well, then, don't let them.  Yeah, they may try to take advantage of your emotional vulnerability, but ultimately, you have power over your own feelings and the goods, wink wink.  Stop playing the victim all the time.

6. You're that woman who constantly complains about everything and is never grateful. She never says "thank you" and because she feels so entitled, the guy stands no chance of ever pleasing her.  Honey, maybe he's not the problem. Maybe he's actually sweet.  Maybe it's you, because you're bitter and haven't forgiven yourself for past romantic blunders.

7.  You're that kind of woman who wants to control every minute of the date and never goes with the flow.  Just let the damn guy do his thing -- provided it is safe, of course.  If you don't like what he planned, well you have no obligation to see him again.  NEXT.

8.  You're that girl who is so afraid to take a chance, you blame the opposite sex for not wanting to go out with you.  Who wants to go out with someone who is afraid to go out?

9. You're that overly-confident yet insecure woman who plays sex up to the hilt yet you expect guys to respect you.  Leave something to the imagination, girl. A guy doesn't need to see your semi-nude photos on Facebook, unless soft porn is you part-time job and you are using social networks for business purposes.  We've had enough already with Miley Cirus twerking on national TV.

10.   You're actually a really accomplished, eloquent and elegant professional, who is healthy and holds her own.  And you can't understand why you're not happily married at this point.  I admit this one stumps me ... but it's not like there aren't any self-accomplished, similar professional guys in Miami.  Of course there are! Gotta keep looking.

And finally, this woman is ME.  It's YOU. It's all of us. Straight, gay, whatever, we have all stumbled and made mistakes, which aren't really mistakes, but life journey lessons.  There's a little of us in all of these behaviors.

Come on, who hasn't acted like an idiot sometimes? I'll be the first one to admit it. Stop blaming the guys for everything.  Stop blaming the city.  Look inside yourself.  Otherwise, get the hell out of Miami.

And I can pretty much guarantee that leaving Dodge isn't going to result in instant dating success.  Otherwise, Miami would be a city full of men with mail order Russian brides and yet it's not. For every woman I know who's single, there's also some other one who is a in good relationship.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Heart on Sleeve Doesn't Mean Dirty Laundry

I am grateful for all my ex-boyfriends and lovers.  There haven’t been that many in my forty-five years of life -- I’m not a Blanche Devereaux -- and if some readers may recall, I even took pride in a stint of celibacy not long ago.

I am grateful for the beloved who taught me how to cook. I am grateful for the one who, years later after our relationship, came out of the closet. I am grateful for the one who taught me how to fish. I am grateful for the one who thoughtfully brought me a book of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. I am grateful for the one who treated me like a queen and spared no expense. I am grateful for the one who wasn’t as wealthy, but whom I fell in love with after a simple picnic outdoors.

Were there problems? Yes, of course.  What relationship doesn’t eventually face challenges? That’s what relationships are for -- to help us grow and become better people in mind, body and soul. Relationships are a form of yoga.

But dear readers, that’s not really the point.

What's the common denominator here?

The point is, that in my blog, you will never know their names. I have always respected the privacy of my exes in that way.  But I do write for every woman, the archetypal soul woman, the woman who has heartbreak yet is resilient, who -- check my tag line -- lives, laughs, loves and cries chronically.  That's just life, for pete's sake!  The normal ups and downs.

Why am I writing this?

It recently came to my attention that someone sent a link to one of my exes about a fairly recent post I wrote about relationships.  The story apparently blew up into a misunderstanding.  I apologize if anyone’s feelings were hurt.

But let’s make a few things clear. Whatever happened is between us and whatever “informant” gave him a “tip” doesn’t know squat, because I haven’t seen him in months and in fact, I even joined an online dating site after he broke up with me.

So which ex was I referring to? Readers, you’ll never really know.

And here’s why.  I have been writing in the first person for nearly a decade.  My audience appreciates my raw and candid style.  Sometimes it’s banal and funny; sometimes it’s sublime and sad.  It’s just my voice, one that I refuse to silence.

I always tell it like it is.  But it's not always just about me.

Are you going to ask Adele to not write and sing Someone Like You?  Will you ask Elizabeth Gilbert to not write a semi-fictional memoir like Eat, Pray, Love?  Would you go back in time and burn Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?  Would you tell Maya Angelou to rescind her poems? Would your life be better if Toni Morrison did not describe birth the way she did in Beloved?

I have been a witness to life. I have been a witness to many relationships, not just my own.  This is what writers do: they witness and they write.

Some posts about relationships have disclaimers and when I started this blog, it was under a pseudonym, because nearly a decade ago, women my age didn't have the level of comfort and safety they have now in social media, although that's another wholly debatable subject.

The “I” is just a familiar voice, but it represents the many voices and stories I have heard from women about their love lives; it stands for the many narratives I have read, heard and witnessed over the years.

If you’ve read my blog since its humble beginnings, you’d know that my style and voice is one that has evolved beautifully and one that I have carefully cultivated -- there is an art to taking something personal and making it universal. But that “personal” may not always be just me.   More importantly, in this editorial, you will never know the name of anyone I’ve loved, at least not in public, and if anything, only by a fake moniker.

What’s more, I was recently hired on a short-term contract to write a column on sex and relationships for an online magazine. It’s not the first time I’ve been hired for such a task.  So part of what you’ve seen here is just overflow from my wordsmithing.

Let’s face it.  Readers don’t just want to hear about stories that are all rainbows, unicorns and lucky charms. Readers want stories that are real, even if they are based on a semi-fictional interpretation of the world.

To the particular lover who took offense: I apologize, but the world really had no way of verifying it was you and honestly, it wasn’t really all about you.  You were a good person who did do some nice things for me, but it didn't work out, although I tried my best to honor the love we shared, to resolve our issues and question my own expectations.  I know you tried also, in your own way, but you did disappoint me on some levels, as I suppose, I did you. I was never perfect. No one is.  After I’ve had time to heal, our relationship could evolve into a lovely friendship because you are, in spite of everything, a cherished presence in my heart.

To the person who sent him the link: mind your own business.  I’m not running a gossip tabloid here.  I'm not writing the journal of a high school girl going through puppy love. Stop jumping to conclusions.

There’s some real irony, actually. This particular lover and I never even had a picture taken together posted online anywhere.  It’s rather sad actually, because I truly loved him and no one ever really knew his name -- at least not online. And we looked very good together!

But that’s how privately we conducted our relationship.

And yet my online acquaintances and friends, including relationship coaches, post thousands of status updates and pictures of their babies, lovers, spouses and members of their social circles, with real names of loved ones and even children in the mix. I know folks who make announcements about relationships five minutes after they’ve started dating. That’s their prerogative and I’m not judging them.

I do want to add some perspective:  I don’t spill as many beans as people might think.  I don’t even want to be a celebrity, rich or famous reality TV “blogger” -- privacy is in fact, quite important to me.  I just want to tell stories. I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do.

If being a woman writer means no man will ever trust me with his heart, then fine.  I guess I’ll have to live with that, but I’m not going to stop being the amazing woman I’ve become and will always be. I’m not going to stop expressing myself through the God-given gift of language or film or other mediums I’ve used to be a storyteller.

Just know this: I’ve never betrayed anyone’s true identity and never intend to.   In fact, the running joke now is that when I meet my future husband (if I haven’t already met him, wink wink), I’ll probably elope and spring the news on you unexpectedly.

I write about all hearts, not just my own.  We all have dirty laundry. You’ll never really see all of mine. I don't always wear my heart on my sleeve, but damn it, many of you appreciate it when you catch a glimpse, because it's part of being human and sharing stories.

And for that, I am very, very grateful.  Thank you, faithful readers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When He Gets Under Your Skin

sexy couple making out boobs

This post falls under the Manola Blablablanik series.

Some people will tell you that love is a social contract. Others will tell you it’s a disease rife with melancholy and heartbreak. And yet others will tell you that, if done right with copious hard work, it’s a panacea.

Everything I just mentioned above is the biggest bullshit, because love is all that and yet it isn't all that.

A contradiction. Yes, I know.

If two people unite their bodies, make commitments to their souls, then "love" become a virus you can’t get rid of easily when someone goes away. This is love on a cellular level.

A friend of mine recently said, “love doesn’t know time.” And that’s true.

There’s “clock” time and then there’s “soul” and “love” time.

When you truly love someone profoundly, that love does get under your skin. I’m not a scientist, but I would venture as far to guess that it probably transforms mitochondria. Two patterns of DNA come together, for better or worse.

And why the worse? Who wrote that shitty, negative vow? It should always be for the better.

Our hearts aren't kept in tight, bound boxes.  They spiral and cross boundaries, like the DNA helix, whirling and creating amazing shapes and possibilities.  Love doesn't just end; sometimes, unfortunately, it stays inside, all dressed up with nowhere to go.

One of my favorite lines from The English Patient is from character Katherine Clifton’s notebook: “tastes we have swallowed, bodies we've entered and swum up like rivers.”

Intimacy requires this incredible journey, fishing for comfort and solace in the heart, up dark, scary rivers, hiking on a body full of hair and bumps, of smells and holes and vulnerability, all beautiful, binding and incredibly annoying when regular life kicks in, constantly shifting from the banal to the sacred, back and forth.

Finding the highest gift of all -- to love someone, to love yourself and be present for a greater good as a couple made up of two individuals -- all that in communion with the body of another, all that in mutual adoration and respect.

Tonight, as I write this, the clouds float slowly and gently through the pale blue sky. But love, to me, without you in a state of embrace, it’s as if the soft vapor was sandpaper grating my skin.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


This post falls under the Manola Blablablanik series.

I recently had a conversation with my ex in which he claimed I had too many “expectations.”

That word. That dreaded word. I'd like to believe he didn't mean to hurt me with it, but it punched me in the heart.

Let’s turn this around, shall we?

Because my ex had way more expectations than I ever did. All I wanted was quite simple. No marriage. No kids. Just be present. Show up. Hold me. Love. Sex. Eat good food. Fun. The actual bearable lightness of being.

Instead, what did he want?

Oh boy, I can’t even publish the laundry list, because he expected so much of me. From massages to making him breakfast, micro-managing many details of my life to make it more convenient for him, most of which, by the way, was my absolute pleasure to oblige, except that after a while, I realized that the balance was fully tilted in his favor and I felt myself depleted of energy and completely neglected, unappreciated.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but really, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

I understand the whole “surrendered” principle, but we ladies need to know the difference between a woman and a doormat. Not that I ever was truly a doormat, but I ended up feeling that way. While I thought I was being nice, I also intuited that something might be amiss and yes, I took that risk.

Love requires risk, no doubt about that.

And while all this was going on, I was, as usual – as a writer – an observer, a witness to what messages the universe was sending me. The messages came from others.

I have friends, family and others -- inadvertent "teachers" in my life path -- who are in great but of course, not perfect, relationships. No relationship is ever Cinderella perfect. All relationships require “work.” 

But when you’re around these people, you know they really care about each other. Good lord, I am bombarded by it all the time -- the media commercials, the messages, the daily signs -- all these bazillions of people -- who are devoted to each other because you know what? They have "expectations" of care, devotion and sincere love.


Ladies, there is nothing wrong with having “expectations,” so don’t ever let a guy you’ve got deep feelings for guilt trip you because of that word, push that ridiculous word on you as if you’re the one who’s doing something wrong.

This is what all relationships are built upon, the foundation of morals and ethics in all aspects of life: “I treat you well. You treat me well. We take care of each other.”

When you have kids, when you sign a contract for a job, when you are loyal to a friend, when you uphold the law, when you become a caregiver, or a pet owner, for example – all these things – this is what defines us as humans.

Heck, even animals have “expectations.” Baby bird is born, cracked egg in the nest and boom! mama and papa bird are there, feeding the fledgling a worm.

All of social life is rife with “expectation.”

Expectation of the beloved – the person to whom you give your heart, mind, body and soul to, entrusted with care, now complaining that you have “expectations” because, I don’t know … you might ask for some ginger ale when your tummy hurts and even that “chore” can’t be delivered?

A guy can’t expect a woman to do all kinds of things for him, when he can barely lift a finger and then claim that it’s “expectations” that’s pushing him away when he has way more “expectations” than you do.

It's a two-way road, if it's going to succeed. Not a one-way dead end.

Ladies, think about that.

I rest my case.

Don't let your heart shrivel up when it is truly expansive. "Expectations" let you have hope that your heart can truly fly in a space of comfort and love. "Expectations" means opening a door where you can surrender and relax in trust and this means taking a huge risk.

I could have said this all in one sentence: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with expectations."


Friday, July 26, 2013


Pappardelle main

The last time I asked my unrequited love to let me go, to never speak to me again, I ended the night with comfort food. What could be better than pappardelle noodles? It reminded me of our lovemaking, warm and buttery but still al dente, him stiff enough to please, but us melting in between my legs.

I dined alone, stoically, having no seasoning in my dish other than butter, crushed black pepper, a wee bit of chicken broth, a dash of pecorino romano and the salty taste of my tears.

And then I laughed at how “the salty taste of my tears” would sound so corny in writing.

And then I cried some more about the cooking process that led to this last supper.

It’s the yin of pasta and the yang of sauce.

For months, he’d start hard but stay dry in his heart, my hot water being the only place where he could crack, soften and let go in some kind of crazy sauce of devotion. You see, in order to be happy as a couple, the pasta must let the sauce stick to it, without fear, and both ingredients must blend in harmony.

He was my noodle. The only noodle I adored for a very long time. But my noodle had no give and wouldn’t let me stick, no matter how many wonderful, warm yummy sauces I offered him.

And this got me thinking: you can’t have your pasta and eat it, too.

This is the recipe for love. Both noodle and sauce must surrender to a heavenly combination of flavors and texture and be willing to repeat or vary over and over again, each night, as you humbly prepare supper for someone whose kisses refill that empty pot every day.

My pappardelle, were, of course, delicious, even if I had to eat them while watching stupid reruns on TV.

To be fair, he always complimented me on my cooking. Too bad he didn’t complement my heart.

Photo via VancityAllie on Flickr via Creative Commons license.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rubbing Cock

What happens when you get three vivacious, single women in a room together with cock and a good rub? Read on ...

ratatouille cockatouille tomato sauce chicken spicy
If you look closely, there's rubbed cock in there.

I rarely endorse products on this blog, but this one fell on my hot loins by coincidence when my friend and foodie extraordinaire from South Florida Food and Wine Blog introduced me to the makers of Cock Spice Rub.  “This is so Sex and the Beach,” she said.  “You gotta try it.”

Dear readers, you may not know this, but I’m really into stirring things up into a hot, delicious mess -- especially in the kitchen.  Food should be sensual. Food should be slow. Unless of course, it's a quickie against the refrigerator, but that's another story.

I tried the Cock Rub with two gal pals on a girl’s night.  Hey! I needed witnesses.  We cooked up a great and easy meal in my modest yet well appointed kitchen -- you should see my large rack -- oh, not my awesome mammaries! I mean my pot rack: rows of Cuisinart stainless steel glory hanging from the wall.

Now, any culinary spice that claims to be “titillating” with the tag line “Don’t Choke It, Rub It” was bound to capture my attention.  And the Cock Rub comes with a guarantee: “to arouse your senses and stimulate your meat.”

I was sold. They had me at "cock."

cock rub spice chicken
Rubbing cock is good family fun!

The plan was simple: rub some defrosted chicken breast cutlets and let them sit for an hour or so in the fridge while we had cocktails by the pool, and then, whip up a veggie stir-fry.  

I knew, the moment I opened the package and breathed in the heady scent, that I’d have a really good relationship with this cock.

The poultry seasoning includes ancho chili, sea salt, lemon peel and lots of other yummy goodness.

 I ended up throwing in some plain, diced tomatoes from a can.  “It will be more like a ratatouille,” I said. “ Oh wait! How about a cockatouille?”


Mis-en-place with the cock already rubbed.

So here you go: the first ever cockatouille, which was absolutely delicious, healthy, incredibly flavorful and just right on the heat index. I wouldn’t rub this on a cock, but I would definitely lick the sauce off his chin and I’ll just let your imagination roam to a stiff conclusion.

I’m not really a recipe writer, so I’m just going to give you the gist of it. If you’re a cook like me, you eyeball ingredients and improvise.

You’ll need some Cock Rub Spice, Himalayan sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic, onions, olive oil and butter for your foundation.  Rub chicken cutlets generously with the Cock Rub and let sit covered in the fridge for at least an hour. Worry not if you don’t notice an increase in size of the cock after the sensual rubbing of the flesh.

Put together a mis-en-place with your favorite vegetables. In our case, we cut up red bell peppers, baby mildly spicy orange peppers, broccoli, zucchini and baby portobello mushrooms.  Pre-washed spinach was on stand by.

Slice the rubbed chicken into small pieces and set aside.  Open up a can of diced tomatoes.

Let the onions soften over low heat with a little olive oil and a tiny dab of butter.  Then add garlic and stir without letting it burn. Burning garlic should be a federal crime worthy of the most undignified punishment, namely, one having to eat it.

That's why cooking a stew is like foreplay -- think low and slow, the onion and garlic getting lubricated by the oils -- instead of a massive, rapid conflagration of passion.  Why the rush? Imagine a seductive Barry White song.  Onion and garlic is your base and then add ingredients according to cooking time: hard veggies take longer to cook. Meat and leafy greens are almost post-coital in the cooking process.

Add broccoli, stir for a couple of minutes, then add peppers and zucchini.  Stir a little more and then complete with the mushrooms and chicken.  After a little more stirring, add the tomatoes and more Cock Rub spice, because it’s oh so good.  Flavor with additional salt and pepper, if desired.  Cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer a bit.  The key here is to time it precisely so that the vegetables don’t overcook and the chicken doesn’t get rubbery.

As a side dish, I served a pre-cooked Roasted Garlic Quinoa and Brown Rice mix from Seeds of Change that I happened to have in the cupboard.

Let the cockatouille cook down a little bit until the chicken is just about almost done, turn off the heat, add the spinach and let it sit.

If I could do this recipe all over again, I’d add some Andouille style chicken sausage, capers and put the cooked quinoa and brown rice in the pot once the chicken was cooked and oh, lord! I’d have me some kind of devilish jambalaya.

You get the point: improvise.

Our cockatouille, which I garnished with fresh parsley and a tiny dab of butter (sorry, I know, it's very Paula Deen), was slurp-the-bowl good. The chicken was tender and the vegetables still crunchy and fresh. The cock scent from the steaming bowl was indeed quite stimulating to the senses.

ratatouille variation with butter and cock spice mix
The final cockatouille.  I ended up mixing the quinoa and brown rice in the bowl.

Now I have all kinds of schemes for this spice mix. How about roasted sweet potatoes with cock? Or adding a bit of cock to hollandaise sauce? Movie fans: how about a little melted butter with cock for popcorn? For the vegetarians, I bet a little grilled tofu sprinkled with cock or even an olive oil and hummus bread dip with cock would be divine. Oh and the grill! How about grilled peaches and pineapple with cock for that sweet and savory delight?

As with all things that have to do with cock, you simply have to use your imagination.

Bon appetit!


Cock Rub Spice sent me some samples of their product, which I obviously put to very good use for your reading and my dining pleasure. All opinions, sexual innuendoes and cooking tips are mine. I use the 'no rel' attribute on my commercial links so they're not even getting my google juice, although they did get my juices flowing, just thinking about what to do with cock. What you do with cock is up to you and I do encourage everyone to try rubbing cock at home.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Her Name Was Alba


A broken condom. A broken relationship.

And then, a broken body.

That was the beginning of this journey, which has already ended.

After a few weeks, I just knew.  The weight of it: bloated, rotund, full of water, full of life, tired yet tirelessly tidal, fluctuating.

I named her Alba, which means “morning song” in Spanish. Alba is also the sailor’s light of dawn, the hopeful anticipation of ocean crossings, of anchoring in the peaceful bay of earthly embrace.

After dark nights, mornings are full of blazing orange light -- the course of a child through the birth canal. In Spanish, we say dar a luz, which translates as “give to light.”

There was no lighthouse guiding us to safe anchorage. We shipwrecked in rivers of blood.

And while I mourn the loss of another child -- one that happened by accident (there are no accidents) and who wasn’t viable in my 40-something body -- I am comforted by the thought that motherhood is never lost when unconditional compassion is set as one’s intention in this human passage. Motherhood is heart, pure and simple, and not necessarily delivery of a fetus.

Women are mothers even when we don’t have children. Women connected by an invisible umbilical chord through blood, flesh, time and the indifference of centuries; separated by clocks, exiles, tribes and the mundane differences among days.

Alba, when I brush my elderly mother's hair, I think of you.

Dear girl, wherever you are, you are my lodestar. Make the most of another other vessel, even if I couldn't offer you safe passage through the storms.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BREAKING NEWS! Hurricane Season Boyfriend 2013 Revealed!

No, it's not a giant continental dildo; it was the predicted path of Tropical Storm Andrea, 2013.

It's that time of the year again, oh my!

June 1st marks the beginning of Hurricane Season and as of today, we've been visited by Tropical Storm Andrea and are witnessing a Tropical Depression Number Two near Belize.

So, single ladies out there who don't have boyfriends or husbands to take care of shit around the house -- you need to include an ideal boyfriend in your preparedness kit, along with batteries, flashlights, bottled water, cans of Spam and tranquilizers.  We need to figure out whom we'd want to have around during the next grueling, impossibly humid months in South Florida, where even venturing outside for a few minutes requires wiping one's sweat with a maxi pad.

A hurricane season boyfriend is someone creative who can deal with all the technical preparations before the storm and all the hassles after its aftermath.  More importantly, he can deal with our moods after spending days without a/c, drinking hot beer and eating Velveeta spread on stale bread -- you Hurricane Andrew veterans know what I'm talking about!

Past luminaries in this pantheon include Harry Connick, Jr. -- the crooner showed off his pecs in as he carried victims out of harm's way after Hurricane Katrina.  As well, Chef Robert Irvine comforted us one summer as we knew that he could create a meal out of nothing in the most rustic of settings -- the ultimate boy scout -- and especially if that meal had been caught by fisherman Jeremy Wade, one of our most famous boyfriends of all time.  I'd love to see those two in an arm wrestling match!

This year, instead of focusing on food, we are focusing on structure.  Yes, structure. Because hurricanes suck and Miami is full of abodes that won't stand up to 200 MPH winds during a hurricane's fury.

See, I'm an architect's daughter. And my dad, who came up with a great system of attaching roof tiles together so they wouldn't fly off under 200 MPH winds, taught me two great things in life: "Always put sugar in your coffee and hurricane 'glass' only works in theory, in the laboratory."

Now think about it -- at least in terms of engineering and physics. We're in a hurricane zone and we live in glass towers. WTF? See? This is really important -- because we want to have our cake and eat it too in South Florida. We want to enjoy our views yet still be protected when the shit hits the fan during a cataclysmic storm.

So this got me thinking:  if my house and/or apartment windows get blown away, who would build me a new hovel? Or who could build a structure that wouldn't blow away? And who could that? Is there a  super cute guy who is not a member of AARP whose diapers I have to change?

Ladies, please meet our 2013 Hurricane Season Boyfriend ... drum roll ... none other than Danish architect Bjarke Ingels!

Even his hair is wind-swept!

Bjarke Ingels gives whole new meaning to the idea of a Danish pastry, because seriously, he should really be called a stud muffin.  This innovative, 38-year old architect has a firm whose URL is

Now please take a moment away from your coffee cup and pronounce that in English. BIG DK.

You see where I'm going, right?

Mr. Ingels is known for the shape of his buildings, some of which are very tall, erect, yet curvy and twisty, which makes us wonder if he'd know how to caress a woman's body under distress, especially after a week of not being able to watch Lifetime movies on TV because the power is out.

He has also built green roofs, and you know, whatever is left of vegetation after a hurricane, it's all going to be green, anyway, because after a few harrowing hours of wondering whether you'll live through the low barometer pressure and shaking walls, your surroundings will look like a botanic garden that just had a wild seizure, with electrical wires and debris thrown all over the place, to boot. If you're a tidy gal, you aint gonna like hurricane aftermath.

Oh yeah, also, you're going to be living au naturel with green everywhere, even up where the sun don't shine, until civilization returns.

So speaking of green ...

We are impressed by Mr. Ingels large scale, eco-friendly works, some of which include pools and terraces that allow you to sunbathe in the nude without showing your naughty bits to neighbors.  Now wouldn't that be a great Miami real estate feature or what? Not that I like tanning.

Also, he uses words like "hedonistic" and "pragmatic" and "sustainability" in the same sentence.  (Although we know that during and after a hurricane, we also use words like "we're screwed" and "who told you to leave that 500 pound stag horn fern hanging from the tree that just blasted through our living room window?")

Now who doesn't love a guy who says "hedonism" in a sentence who has smart brains like this? I swear, I have searched local to no end an haven't found one.  I mean this Danish could definitely trump any Miami pastelito, if you know scholarly girls know what I mean.

It's an extremely sexy use of the word hedonism: well, in his words, he doesn't agree that "it has to hurt in order to be good."  And we love that translated into the bedroom!

We have no doubt that he could build us an amazing hurricane season shelter during the aftermath, made of all the trees that have fallen over and that he'd probably an electrical saw around plus nuts, bolts, hammers and a drill in his hurricane preparedness kit to accomplish this very purpose. You always need a backup just in case your camping tent blows away, right?

And he knows how to manage heat -- not the Miami Heat, but architecture that is heat-friendly. We like that!

In fact, I'd encourage him to design a hurricane-proof room in the middle of any glass, concrete and steel encased condo, with a community generator able to power-up, just in case that next Category 5 should blow through Miami's skyscrapers.  We need them in South Florida ... just like folks who have basement shelters to escape from tornadoes in the mid-west.

And speaking of poolboys, how the fuck is anyone going to walk up and down their 40 story or more condo without Spiderman to the rescue?

In fact, Mr. Ingels, if you ever read this ... could you design a portable aftermath shelter for us tropical mavens? That'd be brilliant! These are real problems for South Florida structures. And please figure out how to keep us cool with chilled servings of Moet.  You know, I'm not asking the architect to BE the poolboy, but just to make it comfortable to hire the poolboy after the fact. And I have faith you could do it with your amazing imagination!

Congratulations to starchitect Bjarke Ingels for earning this most honored accolade!

PS Mr. Ingels is in fact, leaving some kind of footprint in Southeast Florida.  He's up for the new Miami Beach Convention Center project, as well as Grove at Grand Bay in Coconut Grove and Marina Lofts, although I'm not sure they should move that rain tree.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Book Review: Thumbs Up for Hitchhiking with Larry David


I rarely do book reviews, but I couldn't pass up on this one. And besides, it has been a long time since I had something nice and hard in my hands that was so intellectually stimulating! Good lord, I spend so much time wrangling words, I rarely have time to tune out the world and read a BOOK, an actual book! 

So here goes ...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending an extraordinary hour on the phone with an extraordinary man, Paul Samuel Dolman, author of Hitchhiking with Larry David, which recently came out in hardcover by Gotham Books.  Dolman had originally self-published in soft cover and the publishing house picked up the book.  That's a great story on its own.  If you are in the world of publishing, you know that's like a fragile soft shell crab becoming a long-lived hard knocks tortoise.

But I digress.

First, the book.

The memoir tells the tale of a former music industry executive who ditches corporate life after experience heartbreak with a woman who left him when things got rocky. He really couldn't commit or put his full heart in it, let alone put a ring on it. He heads to Martha’s Vineyard -- where his Florida family owns a summer home -- for a summer of self-discovery.

Now ladies, before you cry “asshole,” Dolman doesn't come across that way. This is totally a chick book.

An avid cyclist, Dolman sometimes opts for hitchhiking when his legs get tired (imagine those legs!) and meets many interesting folks along the way.

The narrative is chock full of endearing anecdotes and flashbacks that make the reader an “accidental tourist” in Dolman’s mind. Think of it as a portal into someone else’s memories, like Being John Malkovich, only this time it’s Being Paul Dolman.

Larry David, the sardonic humorist and creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the famous guys who picks him up on the winding roads of the island.

Paul Samuel Dolman (left) and Larry David. 

But it's not just about hitching rides.  Dolman also bumps into Ted Danson and Meg Ryan throughout the summer at the various coffee and pizza shops he frequents.  He’s got a penchant for pizza and when you ride a bike for miles on end, you can get away with it.

Enter stage left, some oddballs: for example, a laid-off homeless woman and a Wall Street guy who drives a vintage Mercedes.

And then meet Dolman’s parents: a mom who suffers from dementia -- boy, I can relate to that -- and a sometimes reticent father.  Dolman's way of describing the relationship with his parents is witty, but also poignant.  Anyone who has visited a parental household full of tchotchkes and eccentric but somehow endearing dysfunctional behaviors will appreciate his way of describing home life.

Yes, this middle-aged guy found himself living with his folks for a while, down in the dumps, but high on spiritual ground. The book begins with rather mundane but entertaining details and then builds up to a crescendo of spiritual insights -- all this without getting too granola and farting rainbows, if you know what I mean.  Dolman keeps it real.

The book is also a travelogue of sorts. I went to Martha’s Vineyard many moons ago to go sea bass fishing and it was an experience I’ll never forget. This book brought the island’s beauty back to life for me.

The fact-checking Nazi in me wanted to know about the transparency of this memoir.

“I didn’t embellish because I felt like I was dealing with live humans,” said Dolman. “But through editing there was a tightness that normal life doesn’t have. A lot more crazy stuff happened that didn’t make it into the book.”

Although the book’s title includes the name of a Hollywood celebrity, it really isn’t all about that.

“We place a strange value on celebrity and fame,” Dolman continued. “But things happen in our lives that are really cool and it just seems more cool if it simply involves a famous person.”

Putting star-struck surreal encounters aside, Dolman writes about focusing on the present, being in the now and enjoying random interactions with people from all walks of life. Or eschewing sitcom reruns in lieu of a simple sunset, which really isn’t so simple, if you stop to think of the amazingness of it all.

How does that magic happen?

“If you tune in, are quiet and aren’t texting, you create space and pay attention to extraordinary things unfolding before you. You start listening to things,” he said.

“Oh,” I replied. “You mean like the Little Prince? Just a simple boabob tree and an elephant?”

“Yes,” Dolman confirmed. “Well said!”

And you do get that sense of wonderment and simplicity in this book, even as he humbly shares his raw and complicated feelings about his parents, his career and his heartbreak, which – I don’t want to spoil it for you – may or may not have taken a turn. In spite of my Mata Hari bat-my-eyelashes ability to poke and prod, he wouldn't budge. “Let's leave that for the sequel,” he replied.

Speaking of heart, this is a great read for anyone interested in honoring that organ that beats inside our bodies. 

A trained musician, Dolman played piano at bars in his earlier years.  The musical metaphor still resonates. “Listen to your heart, your song, not Larry David’s or anyone else’s,” he said. “Only you can find that.”

The book also touches upon the subject of career choices. Dolman had it all and gave it up because he felt like he was missing something – probably himself. (That's me talking, not the author.)

“It was hard to walk away from it because I had achieved so much,” he pondered. “Having a lot of money let me be generous with a lot of people. But there was a certain illusion of money, a sense of safety a security that wasn’t entirely fulfilling.”

Generosity seems to be what turns Dolman on.

There’s an episode in the book about a homeless woman that focuses on the pay it forward message.

“Giving is the best thing in the world,” he said. “Anyone can give, be loving and kind. Even mere eye contact is good.”

In a world of so much attention deficit disorder, Dolman seems to be practicing a kind of yoga of living.

At this point, I was simply rapt in conversation and forgot that I was interviewing, but I did get a few more nuggets.

“Some people have that frozen face, but you have to make the effort to weave through the rocks and get to the gold,” he said.

Nothing frozen about this face. The author, looking rather Hare Krishna like in golden light. I hope he put sunscreen on his noggin'.

It was starting to get too deep. So naturally, I turned to the topic of sex. Because, after all, this is Sex and the Beach, and we love beaches, islands and any romping that takes place near, on or in any body of water. Well, not just any body of water. Sewers and cisterns don't really count.

In Dolman’s book, there's one entire chapter dedicated to how he lost his virginity on Martha’s Vineyard. Imagine that -- the surf roaring nearby, the stars ablaze in the night sky and a soon to become legendary sleeping bag the only thing separating the couple’s naughty bits from the abrasive sand.

Ironically, the beach where the aforementioned epic copulation took place was called South Beach. Now you know, if this had happened in Miami, his wallet would have been stolen by the regular pickpockets (trust me, I know) and there would have been danger of infection from tossed heroine addict needles and plain old cigarette butts. In this case, the surroundings were apparently pristine -- not a bad place to pop a cherry or burst your nut for the first time.

But Dolman has also had some soul-searching encounters on beaches. One summer, with great hubris, Dolman dared to defy mother ocean. He almost brought it by going for a swim, in spite of rip tide warnings.

“I think that anyone who has ever felt the power of the ocean can relate,” he said.

I interjected his comments about nearly losing his life when this thought occurred to me. “You know, Paul, your book is like Eat Pray Love, written by a dude.”

He laughed.  “Yes, you're right! I hadn't thought of that.”

And it’s true. It’s a spiritual quest, dotted by carbs in the form of pizza and doughnuts, intense self-reflection, random teachers (read: people you meet just walking out the door), smelly skunks, and even memories of growing up in South Florida.

“Miami has changed a lot over the years,” I said. “What do you remember best?”

“Whenever I think about Miami, I light up inside,” he said. “When I grew up there, my best friend was a Cuban refugee. I watched the Dolphins at the old Orange Bowl. I loved Biscayne Bay, its green water. I used to fish in the Everglades.”

Of course, my heart skipped a beat when I heard fishing and Everglades in the same sentence.

Dolman continued.

“I loved Little Havana and the Cuban bakeries,” too.

So there you go, ladies: a charming, funny part-Jew, with a pleasant, deep voice, who appreciates life and all its wonders, who can bike for miles but still has a sensitive side, likes Cuban food and has a way with words. Pick up this book.

Of course, I would never recommend hitchhiking for women, especially in Florida. You know, we have some crazy drivers down here: i.e., that woman who got into an accident trying to shave her crotch with her spare hand on the steering wheel. I think Governor Scott should ban more than just texting and driving!

But think about ways we hitchhike every day -- in a spiritual way -- taking on random encounters with people, learning and observing, navigating energies, finding love and solace in even the simplest things.  Maybe it's just the scent of coffee. Or a luscious, juicy pepperoni pizza just dripping at the mouth.

I’ll end this interview with a quote from Derek Walcott and the inspired wish to return to Martha’s Vineyard, not to mention travel to many other islands. Sex and the Beach, after all, isn’t just about sex.
 And sex, as we know in tantric world, is just a means to an end.

Merely to name them is the prose
Of diarists, to make you a name
For readers who like travellers praise

Their beds and beaches as the same;
But islands can only exist

If we have loved in them.

Dolman has definitely loved on Martha’s Vineyard.  And if you love islands, you'll love this book.  Learn more about it here.


I got a free review copy of this book ... bla bla bla ... all opinions my own, of course, you damn big brother shits, whatever, all opinions are always my own! That's why they're called opinions!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Manola Blablablanik: Familiarity Breeds Gas

Remember the original nom de plume that started this blog? Well, she's back! All posts under the Manola Blablablanik series are semi-fictional.

Last night, my ex-boyfriend -- who can’t seem to let go of me and I’ll admit, I’m still holding on to a string or two -- came over for a late supper.

During the otherwise pleasant evening, he kept farting in a seemingly involuntary manner. He apologized with each burst of air from his anus and said he didn’t know why he was having digestive trouble. Certainly, it wasn’t my delicious beef and peppercorn stew, served with jasmine rice. He was farting before he even walked through the door. In fact, he probably deployed gaseous emissions to fuel his SUV on the way to my pad.

You’ve heard the old saying: “familiarity breeds contempt,” which means you’ve let go of boundaries and courtesies to the point of disrespecting someone you know very well, romantically or otherwise.

Now, let me coin the phrase “familiarity breeds gas,” which means you don’t care anymore about breaking wind within earshot of your beloved.

Well, he didn't do it on purpose like a drunk, sophomoric frat boy.  He's usually a polite, classy guy. And mustering up my deepest compassion, I reflected upon the fact that sometimes our bodies get the best of us, no matter what our best intentions. I had to set my ego aside and accept that the man in front of me was simply farting. I couldn't take it personally. I couldn't equate him with the stream of wind parting from his rectal orifice.


And this got me thinking. He’s over 50 and still a spring chicken by today’s baby boomer standards.

I’m 45. And like many woman my age, I take care of two elderly parents, who thank God are still stable enough to live in their own apartment. But there’s a reason we call them “old farts,” because old people just fart all the time. In fact, you could be having a conversation with an old fart and it's like a machine gun crescendo in between every two sentences, punctuated by coughs that are trying to mask farts, which is a very ineffective form of subterfuge a sotto voce.   Look, your farts will always be louder than your cough. That technique just doesn't work!

So if you must fart, at least do it honestly.

This geriatric flatulence is cute and causes numerous giggles, just like it’s so adorable to wipe a baby’s butt when it’s slathered with stinky green poo.

But babies are different. They wear ribbons on their heads and simply don’t know better. Sphincter control comes later in life.

“Lord have mercy, what do I have to look forward to?” I thought this morning. “Old guys who fart, burp and then on top of that, add the indignity of snoring in bed without being able to get it up other than that rare morning woody?”

When we’re younger, we dream of co-habitation in the prince and princess castle. No woman in her twenties falls in love and thinks: “Oh, I can’t wait to go buy cheap IKEA furniture with you, honey! And how I’ll savor the first time you fart and I queef under the plush down comforter!”

But by the time you hit 40 and are either divorced, widowed or a bonafide spinster, it’s a whole different story. Maybe it’s just better to be in a relationship that preserves two separate households. He can have his man cave and fart, burp, snore to his heart’s content. And she can keep her girly, candle-scented apartment intact – save for the occasional fart invasion when he tries to mark his territory.

Actually, the fart symphony didn’t bother me so much. I was more worried the fumes would kill my houseplants.

And truth be told though, the way to a woman’s heart is not through farts, but if that’s all that’s wrong with him, you might want to compromise and turn his prodigious talent into a helium balloon business.


When I lived on Miami Beach, my then neighbor Helen – a 92 year-old Jewish widow with much chutzpah to spare – once told me: “I don’t like to date old men. I changed enough diapers already raising my kids. I won’t even look at a guy unless he’s under 70.”

What a cougar she was.

So yeah, then there’s that. Maybe there’s a good reason to date younger men. I mean changing diapers isn’t a chapter in the Kama Sutra. And don’t let me get into weak bladders and pee smell. Not particularly sexy.

But see, it's all about unconditional love, when you can accept poo, farts, burps, snores and sneezes as part of intimacy. And when you get married at a young age “for better or worse,” you are signing up for that.

Sigh. This is the irony of romance over 40. Just as you are growing wiser and more in control of your life, you start losing control of your sphincters.

So wherever you are over 40, have faith that love is still very possible. And you might just accept and love someone with great passion, not warts, but farts and all.

Be prepared, however, to wear a Hazmat-grade gas mask well into your mid-life and old age. I wonder if they come in pretty pastel colors and with sparkly bling? Maybe spunky 70-something Betsey Johnson should rethink her designs!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get Out Your Frying Pan! Lionfish Is What’s For Dinner

This beautiful fish is wreaking havoc in our native Florida waters and beyond. Photo courtesy of REEF.

Last month, I attended the First Annual Lionfish Food and Wine Night at Key Largo’s Fish House Encore, hosted by REEF, a grassroots organization devoted to marine conservation. The house was packed at this exclusive gourmet event, where locals and tourists alike were eager to learn about lionfish.

Lionfish are gorgeous, dramatic-looking finny creatures, with elongated spines that jut out from their frames in mottled shades of red, orange, white and black. In water, the spines sway gently in a beguiling dance. Indigenous to the Indo-Pacific, lionfish are prized on this side of the globe as an exotic aquarium species.

It’s nothing personal, but unfortunately, they don’t belong in our coastal waters.

Lionfish Dinner Event in Key Largo
Lad Adkins of REEF lecturing on the marine issues involving lionfish.

Two visually identical species of lionfish were first introduced into the Atlantic via the aquarium trade in the 1980s. The result? Non-native lionfish have invaded waters from the Carolinas to South America, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

And as one report indicates, they may even be able to handle estuarine environments with lower salinity, including the Loxahatchee River.

Voracious eaters, lionfish also spawn prodigiously, reaching sexual maturity in less than a year, while they feast on over 70 species of fish and many invertebrate species, altering the balance of long-established ecosystems. Lionfish densities can reach as much as 200 adults per acre and a female in the Caribbean can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.

This pretty fish is like the Terminator!

Lionfish have evolved a very clever defense system through their venomous spines, which protect their bodies with a neurotoxin, so they must be handled carefully to avoid stings on human flesh.

Lionfish Dinner Event in Key Largo
The venomous proteins in the spines can be denatured with hot water. Just be careful.

God forbid, but if a lionfish up a Florida river ever seriously hurt a human, we might even get Jeremy Wade of River Monsters to come down here and investigate!

It’s too bad this invasive species isn’t easily harvested by conventional fishing methods such as rod and reel, what with so many other fish in the reefs competing for bait. Maybe they’re just too wily. Also, they can thrive in depths as far as 1000 feet.

They tend to hunker down under structure and like stalking for live bait.

Spearfishing seems to be the best method of capturing lionfish and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has encouraged open season on the possession and harvest of the species. Numerous lionfish derbies for recreational fishermen take place around Florida and other invaded aquatic regions.


Deborah Meltzer, owner of a printing business in the Fort Lauderdale area for the last twenty years, is a scuba diver and lady angler who takes her lionfish harvesting seriously. Sex and the Beach spoke on the phone with her about her underwater fishing endeavors offshore ranging from Pompano Beach to Fort Lauderdale accessible reefs.

“I’m more into the catching of them than cooking them,” she said. “I started out getting interested in hunting lobsters and then I took a course in lionfish. It’s not lobster season right now, so I like to go for lionfish since there’s no restriction.”

She admitted that divers can only keep them in check and that they’d never be able to get to them all to curb the population. “That’s how bad the problem is,” she said. “But I do my little part in helping save our reefs from invasive species.”

Because of their dorsal and anal venomous spines, they have no natural predators in this part of the world.

“Bigger fish would have to learn how to eat them,” said Meltzer.

“I’ve heard it’s like a bee sting on steroids,” she said. “Although, I’ve never been stung.”

In addition to a traditional spear, Meltzer sometimes uses nets or a PVC contraption that relies on a trap door to safely carry multiple lionfish underwater, thereby preventing stings.

“It's really important to learn how to handle them” she explained. “So this way you don't feel their powerful venom.”

Once the fish are on board and ready for a first mate’s fillet knife, it’s a different story.

“We fillet the larger ones and check their stomach content,” she said. “They eat everything that’s economically important to us and environmentally important to the reef.”


Lionfish Dinner Event in Key Largo
Fillet carefully and you've got a tasty dinner.

But back to the Key Largo event.

The best part for fishermen is that once you’ve safely caught and filleted a lionfish, you’ve got a potentially tasty dinner if your culinary skills are up to par. The white flesh is tender, akin to hogfish, without that “fishy” scent and flavor we associate with species like tuna.

The fish fillet lends itself beautifully to a traditional wine, butter, shallots and cream sauce preparation with a lightly floured, egg-washed fillet.

Lionfish Dinner Event in Key Largo
Straight out of Escoffier. A traditional preparation. Julia Child would approve ... I think.

My favorite dish at the Fish House Encore was the Sea Salted Cured Lionfish served with heirloom tomatoes, red-onions, cilantro and drizzled with olive oil.

The second course was also delicious. The lionfish was encrusted with fried red onions and Japanese breadcrumbs, baked in the oven and served with a sweet and sour sauce over arugula salad.

I wasn’t too happy with the other two courses and besides, I was rather full by then. I’d avoid mixing bacon with the lionfish or anything too strong in scent, smoky or chewy in texture. Think white wines and light flavors or textures, flash preparations with minimal time in the pan to preserve the tenderness of the flesh.

Next time you go to eat fish at a Florida restaurant, ask if they serve lionfish. Or better yet, ask your local fishmonger if they’ve got any on ice. A bounty of recipes, which you can apply to similar fish like snapper or grouper, is available in the The Lionfish Cookbook, authored by Tricia Ferguson and Lad Adkins. Beautifully photographed, the book is a must for any home chef interest in reading simple yet varied preparations for fish. Proceeds from book sales will continue to support marine conservation and lionfish research.


Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Lionfish Derbies

Lionfish Cookbook

Restaurants Serving Lionfish (to date)

Loxahatchee River Study

National Geographic post on sharks being taught to eat lionfish in Roatan, Belize

Follow @killthelionfish on Twitter for latest news on lionfish events and issues.