Reflections: You Say Good-Bye, But I Say Hello!

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The end has arrived for my Social Media Class (ENC 4930) and the final blog for a grade is an interesting Word Cloud and a wave good-bye, aka a Reflection Blog.

My Word Cloud brought a smile to my face as the design, transposed the 12,000-plus words I have written, and popped up on my screen after a few hundred (or was it only 20) cut and pastes of the blogs I have written since starting my Word Press association. The word I used the most, of course was Florida followed by a close second with South. Ahhh, the theme of my blog has shown through and that makes me happy.

With a plethora of other words from my life (note to self: will earn extra points when I show the Word Cloud to my husband and his name, Mark, is nice and big!), I am content with the outcome and look forward to many more blogging adventures down the road. I only pray I find the self-discipline to continue writing the blog posts for the mere intrinsic reward.

It is interesting to note that on the first day of this class, Professor Mason asked the students to speak out about what they expected of a class with a title of Writing for Social Media. I voiced that I hoped to learn how to blog and to use several other social media platforms, and that is exactly what I have accomplished in this class.

I attended every class, eager to learn the next valuable piece of the social media puzzle and not wanting to miss a single word spoken by my Professor. Professor Mason was always interesting to listen to. Her witty commentary and stand-up comedian-banter was fascinating to listen to and never boring.

I found myself looking forward each week to writing the Inquiry Blog assignment. I had chosen my topic to be South Florida Now & Then at the beginning of the course, and as I went through my daily routines, was always on the lookout for the next subject matter. I will miss these writings, but I do believe that I may have exhausted all that category could give to me.

My least favorite was the Social Media Campaign project. The campaign project itself was fine, but the assignment was a group project. As a junior, I have had to work on a few group projects along this journey. It is not that I am not a team player; it is that I try to be too many of the players on the field at one time. I work very hard and expect those around me to have the same work ethic as I do, but alas, it is not usually the case.

The title of this piece reflects my feelings about my blog. Although I am saying good-bye to the class and the assigned postings, I am looking forward to writing future posts about my life and the journey I am on each day in my beloved South Florida.

 

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Now & Then: When Weston was the Wild West

As my Social Media Class approaches its end, the required blog assignment has ended. There is one more topic I want to write about in my Now & Then Inquiry Category. Hopefully I will not look like an over-achiever to my professor, but I believe I have saved the best topic for last, the city of Weston.

A little over twenty-five years ago, when I first moved to South Florida, a realtor showed us an expansive area of land that used to be part of the swamps that made up the Everglades. A new community was just springing up with two completed subdivisions and an elementary school just off Bonaventure Boulevard. The community was called Weston. The zip code was Fort Lauderdale, but the realtor promised that someday, there would be a city of Weston, Florida.

She showed us pictures of the new subdivision that was to be the third development. There was a golf course, there were green rolling berms on either side of the road built up throughout with sidewalks that would connect the three subdivision with the school. It seemed a perfect place to move for a young couple just starting out. She emphasized that there were already two celebrities living in this new community, Dan Marino (Miami Dolphin’s quarterback) and Pete Sampras (Professional Tennis Player), although to be honest, once she mentioned Danny’s name (see my blog on Danny for an explanation!), I cannot be one hundred certain about the tennis guy’s name!

I became a homeowner in 1989 of a lovely home on San Luis Rey at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. One of the things I remember while living there were the frogs. There were frogs along the sidewalks when I took my evening run after getting home from work. There were frogs stuck on the windows of my house with their little suction-cup feet, and all those frogs sang all night long. It is a sound I can still remember. My house bordered the everglades and it was beautiful, but we were the new neighbors to all the creatures that had called the area home before we invaded. Twenty-five years later, I am back in South Florida. I have not been out to Weston to see my old house yet as I am enjoying being a coastal resident and have not ventured further west than the Turnpike, but I am sure I will at some point.

The pictures below are from Google Earth and show how massive Weston has become over the past twenty-five years. Multiple schools and golf courses, and more houses than the realtor that sold me on Weston could have ever imagined, I am sure. I recently came across a magazine called In Weston while strolling in a gallery along Las Olas Boulevard. It shows the places that the Elite meet, play, and party.

Weston looks very impressive today, and I am proud to say that I was among one of the first few homeowners to have the privilege to live there. I am sure that I would not want to live there now, but that is only because once you live east of Federal, it is hard to live anywhere else. It was special and new when I lived in Weston and felt like a secret that a few of us had found tucked away in the lush tropical area that had once been part of the Everglades; and what a great story it was to tell!

The Christmas display at the front entrance of Weston, 1989

Google Earth view of Weston today

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Musings of a Beach Raker

Running on the beach early in the morning, I get to see the “behind the scenes” action of those who work where others come to play. Individuals who make the beach ready for those who come to relax with their toes in the sand each day like hotel workers putting out lounge chairs with umbrellas, lifeguards putting up cones and flags to warn of possible dangers, and an interesting one, the Beach Rakers.

The Beach Raker is the person who drives up and down the beach in a large tractor-looking vehicle dragging behind it, large rakes to clean the sand from the previous day’s visitors.

I had the pleasure of speaking to one such gentleman a few weeks ago as I ran along the beach and passed him two or three times or should I say he passed me as I do not break any land speed records as I run. He had come to a stop ahead of me and as I approached, we exchanged greetings and being curious, I stopped to chat.

His name is Wayne and he has been a Beach Raker for five plus years. Each day at 5:00 a.m. he enters the beaches of Pompano and drives up and down the shoreline until 11:00 a.m. He is grooming the sand both by picking up seaweed and trash, and churning up the sand. I exclaim that it sounds like the most boring job one could possibly have, but Wayne just smiles and tells me that it is the easiest and best paying job he has ever had. The cab of his tractor is air-conditioned. He has his favorite music jamming on the radio, and he makes his own fun he says with a mischievous smile.

Wayne tells me that he is planning to write a book someday on all he has seen and the fun he has had in his years as a Beach Raker. He tells me that for fun, he drives over people’s towels and he has been know to rake over flip flops and hats that people set down while dipping their toes in the waves. He tells of people who have chased after his tractor, fists in the air, after they watch him drive over their beach accessories, sometimes he stops, others times, he just keeps on driving. He laughs at his own stories and I could not help laughing along with this forty-plus year old man who behaves in such impish behavior.

Talking with Wayne that morning gave me an inside glimpse into the musings of a man doing a job that I could never imagine myself doing. He finds pleasure and fun each day and that made the job perfect for him. It is a good thing there are people like Wayne in this world, as I love to run on the freshly raked sand!

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Now & Then: “And We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun, til Daddy Takes The Corvette Away”

For my next Inquiry Blog (another class assignment), I am going to write about cars. I like cars, but not your regular “just for transportation” type. I love sexy, fast-moving, automotive machines made of high quality. I am not quite sure where this love comes from as I grew up in a house that owned two Subarus that could not get out of their own way on the highway, but it might come from a former beau who taught me the value of a special vehicle.

When I lived in South Florida twenty-five years ago, I was driving around Fort Lauderdale in a brand-new white Corvette. There is a special feeling that you get when you pull up to a stop-light and your car turns people’s heads your way. Sadly, this beautiful car and I were not going to be together for very long. I met my husband-to-be soon after getting the Vette and his jaw dropped to the floor when he saw what my car payment and insurance payment were a month. The fact that thoroughly enjoyed driving my car only bought me a little more time with my beloved white beauty.

During the years of being a wife and mother, I was fortunate to escape ever having to drive a mini van. One special day, my husband came across a used Mercedes Benz – with the proverbial “only one pervious owner who happen to be a little old lady” for sale and we bought the car, a 1999 E320, color white and in cherry condition. I love this car and she and I have a very special bond. She is older, but she still has it going on and I can relate!

The next year we moved to South Florida. In the years since I have been away, the caliper of automobiles that many people drive has surly risen. My son said it best when he was home from college for the holidays with his tweet:

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I am so happy to be back in a sexy automobile. I am beyond ecstatic to be back in South Florida. And based on the cars on the road today from Boca to Las Olas, I am happy to have my Benz driving me around.

My NextDoor Neighbors

For my next Social Media blog (class assignment for those of you new to following me!) I am going to talk about the aspect of using Social Media as your community information go-to. In particular, I am going to educate you on a little known platform called NextDoor. Whether you go on the website (Nextdoor.com) or download the app, it is a local connection to the community that surrounds you.

I am trying to remember how I found out about my community before finding NextDoor some years ago, and it occurs to me that it was the newspaper. In one’s local newspaper, there were sections on community happenings like the concert in the park or the carnival at the church. Now, I receive notification pop-ups on my phone telling me about what is going to happen in my area in the coming weeks.

NextDoor is a social-connecting site that members join to keep in touch and to pass along information about local services, events, and problems in a community. Each day numerous people discuss the community from discussing the fact that the garbage men did not show up (someone replies explaining the reason why, and then someone else chimes in that a special pickup will be done the next day), to the fair being held on the upcoming weekend (someone replies with tickets prices and someone else joins in talking about what vendors will be present), to warning everyone about some car break-ins that have occurred (someone replies with information that the police said about it), and so it goes.

NextDoor truly is a wealth of information passed on from one neighbor to another to keep everyone informed. NextDoor is specific to a city or in the case of larger cities, to an area within the city. I am currently a member of North Pompano Beach, which seems to be covering the entire city. I have contributed to conversations when a neighbor asked if anyone knew a good electrician, and I added my two cents when there was a discussion about a good Italian Restaurant to a newcomer.

I am happy to have found a platform to stay abreast of my community, and the fact that I can contribute in a positive manner is an added bonus. NextDoor is like a block party without the party; a gathering of neighbors virtually standing in their driveway filling me in on the gossip of the street during my evening dog walking. It makes me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the town and I like it!

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When in Rome, Do As The Locals Do!

No, this blog post will not be about Rome or some Roman holiday, but about being a Local. When I first moved back to South Florida, I was running along the beach when one of the Pompano Beach Lifeguards said hello and started to chat with me. In need of a little break from the excruciatingly difficult task of running on dry sand, I engaged in the conversation.

He asked if I was on vacation and when I told him that I had moved here in August, he exclaimed with a smile, “You are almost a Local!” As I ran off down the beach, I wondered about that phrase and speculated about the day that I WOULD be a Local.

I came to the realization that it must be either one of two accomplishments: to live through an entire tourist season or to arrive at my one year anniversary of living in the same place.

I am approaching the end of the first tourist season. As Easter came and went last weekend, there is already a difference in traffic along A1A. My husband and I were able to find a street-side parking space last night in the Village of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea right out front of our restaurant. Yes, it was a Monday evening, but during the height of tourist season, days of the week are inconsequential. I have been told that the end of April will be another great outpouring as Passover ends and many New Yorkers will head back north, but we shall see.

Although my anniversary month of moving to South Florida is not until August, I am feeling very much like a Local. I know traffic shortcuts; I know the drawbridges go up at 15 past and before the hour so I can avoid them during my runs; and I never go to the beach just to lie out and relax. Those are some definite Local behaviors as far as I am concerned.

Whatever the criteria may be, I feel like a local and I love being back in my South Florida.

Running or Walking, the Proper Response to Hello is Hello!

My last blog post was about running with my music, and today I would like to carry on with one more post about my running. This post does not meet the class assignment of social media or inquiry; it is just for me and my peace of mind.

Prior to moving to South Florida, I lived in the suburbs of Tampa. My home was in a lovely community with a road that looped around the numerous subdivisions and the Bloomingdale Golf Course. Many exercise enthusiasts walked, ran, and biked “The Circle” as the oval road was referred to. There was an easy air about the people and the quality that each of those individuals possessed was friendliness. The words hello and good morning came from each person that I would pass on my daily run around the four mile stretch.

Fast forward a bit, I have now arrived in South Florida and continue my passion for running. The thrill of living so close to the ocean shore makes me lace up my sneakers with eager anticipation. Light on my feet, I set out to run along A1A for the very first time. I pass people along the way and joyously say, “Good Morning,” but I am met with silence. The next few people I approach do not even make eye contact with me and again my hellos go un-responded. Not to be thwarted, I make it a challenge to get someone to say hello back to me.

In my forty minute run that day, I was only able to get two people to say hello: one elderly gentleman, who was looking at me a little too weirdly and I probably should NOT have said hello to him and a lady walking her dog. In the people of South Florida’s defense, this area is a very high tourist area. Many international and Canadian tourists visit and so there may have been a language difficulty. Another line of defense is that many of the people out walking early in the morning are elderly. Husbands and wives walking side-by-side in the comfort of silence that comes from years of being together. The rest, well let’s just say that there were many with RBF or Resting Bitch Face who looked at me like I was insane for saying hello to them.

It has been eight months since I ran that first day looking for a friendly sign amongst my new neighbors of South Florida. I continue to run the same route each day and when I see someone’s eyes meet mine, I say hello. If it is a good day and someone initiates a good morning to me, I smile and respond back to them. I am no longer searching for a response. I am content with myself; I do not need the gift back that I gladly give to you.