Monday, January 15, 2018

Looking for me?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Te Amo

My Tio. My Luis

The reason this blog exists and someone that allowed me space to be and figure things out. I spent two months in Spain with family I hardly knew at the time.

Made a special trip up to see him this fall cause he had a stroke and wasn't doing so well. He was now 99. 

The first day, I retraced all the places I spent walking over and over including his favorite pastry shop. Hoping he would be glad to see pastries and me but he didn't recognize me or the baked goods. Didn't matter, I just wanted to see him. 

Now confined to a chair, it was a shade of what I remembered and heartbreaking cause he never liked to sit still. 

I looked into his eyes and smiled. Stroking his arm and asking if he remembered me. "It's Penelope. te recuerdas?" A blank stare was returned and I knew he didn't. 

But I kept kissing him on the check, smiling looking in his eyes. Before I left with the last kiss I saw a half smile start to form on his face. Maybe he does...

The next day as, I was requested to come for lunch with the family, his amazing caretaker told me he remembered and had been bossing her around all morning to get ready for my arrival. 

This time he was there. I could see him and he could see me. I had to run to the bathroom quickly so he couldn't see me cry. 

He was fed in the chair while we ate in the kitchen. His caretaker helping communicate between us because my Spanish is so awful and the stroke has hindered his speaking. 

After we finish lunch, I sat next to him doing what I did the day before but this time he's with us. 

My Spanish is shit so all I can do his hold his hand, stroking his arm looking into his eyes saying "Te Amo. Te Amo" over and over again. Cause its the only thing I can express clearly.

His eyes well up with tears and I lose it. 

I told myself I wouldn't cry because its so selfish but can't help it. I run into the kitchen so he can't see me cry, but the caretaker is telling me his grumbly voice is asking for me. She's trying to keep it together too.

I go back and wipe my tears. Put on a smile and hold his hand a little longer. There he is. There he is. In a body that no longer serves him. I'm here. I'm here for you.

As its time to say goodbye, I look back knowing this is the last time I'll see him. Multiple kisses including some blown from the door. He starts to speak. His words may not be there anymore but the tone of his voice is. 

His caretaker tells me what he's saying in English 

"He saying that your visit means more to him than you know." 

I see her tears and can feel mine surfacing again. I blow one more kiss and get safely out the door before I lose it completely. 

I walk back to the place I'm staying at in sobs and can't stop crying all day. I go back to Barcelona and light candles for him in every church I feel something in.

The best one being the crypt of la Sagrada Familia. As I light the candle for him I ask that he can be released by the time it burns out. 

And as much as I want him to stay, I pray he can leave and be free again.

So he leaves on the winter solstice. The darkest day of the whole year and it feels like it. 

There is a sadness for his passing but a celebration too. He's free from pain and can roam again. 

I hope to see him again someday. I know I will. 

Te Amo

Monday, December 19, 2016


"I know its weird to bring a bottle of wine to a massage but do you happen to have a fridge to put this in? I may or may not be going to a party after."

My talented masseuse surely does and without a beat takes it and motions me to go in and strip. 

Regular bodywork, yoga and diet have become my form of health care and its working. I've never felt better.

I go in to remove toxins only to put more in immediately after. I tip, grab the bottle and decide to go to the Sagittarius party I was invited to. 

The communal house is enchanting and seems to exist on a hidden plane in Key West. Strange.

I walk in and ask for the hostess cause I recognize no one. They all gladly welcome me in and ask if I need help opening that bottle. 

Nicole is in the kitchen making her own birthday cake and says she needs to focus.

I pour her and me some wine after we find jars to put it in. Nicole is making a 7 minute icing and she's not sure its supposed to be the color it is. 

"What makes it a 7 minute icing?" I curiously ask. The puzzling face I get in return is perfect and I realize that will have to wait cause her focus needs to return back to the pot.

I go out back under the banyan tree open kitchen backdrop to revel in the mix. Barefoot blonde conch kids smoking, dogs, Dade county pine and a welcoming commune of peeps.

I ask Nicole where the bathroom is. One person points me to the one next to the cake baking. Nicole makes a squinty face and I ask her when that person leaves "Where is a safe place to pee?"

"Upstairs is the "GIRL" bathroom." AKA the clean one - there's even a sign noting that. And it is. 

An open window breeze blowing through home made embroidered curtains makes me think this is a movie set for a southern style film or a horror flick.

As I go upstairs to pee, I pass by an old man with an eye patch in an empty living room completely silent.  

He sits on a couch next to a loaned baby grand piano staring into nothing. I want to take a picture so badly but don't want to make him feel like a freak so I mentally stow that image away cause its so beautiful.

Abby finally arrives sans her wife. Her psychic wife can't come into the house cause theres too many entities. 

Normally I feel that stuff too but for some odd reason this place enchants rather than repels.

Abby's going through some shit so we sit under the banyan tree talking it out. I tell her she needs to turn off her head and laugh more. I ask her if she wants to go to the dark side tonight since Angie's not around. She lights up and responds with a big yes.

There's a new bar in town. Previously a sex club that now serves grilled cheese and has PBR on tap. 

Do you want to go? I ask her. Afterwards we can make our way to the parrot to see the best Led Zeppelin cover band on earth. This is my end night goal. To make it out long enough to see Stairway to Heaven.

We start to make our goodbyes so we can make it to the grilled cheese and Stairway. Nicole insists we stay for the birthday cake. But asks: "Could light it and bring it out to her?"

Of course. We even add singing.

We start to nail the cake with all the candles. 

Abby is tipsy and I give her shit for how she's trying to light them. She returns this banter with a hot lighter on my arm. 

Now I have a semi permanent lighter tattoo on my upper arm to remind me of this evening for the next few months.

Happy Birthday we sing with me trying to get photos but the tree blows them out before I can get a solid shot.

We walk out and into the crazy Duval mix to make it to the bar which looks like a fancy Midwestern VFW and I wonder what went on in this space before. 

Abby is surprised that Angie hasn't returned her text yet and as I look at my phone I tell Abby she texted that message to me instead of her.

As we laugh about it her psychic wife is calling me. She's at the parrot with another friend and I tell her to stay there cause we're on our way to see the band.

Abby and I wiggle our way to the back of the bar and I ask if Angie can sit back here. The question is answered when Angie asks if we can stand outside away from the overhang.

The girls are done but I want to see music so I decide to stick around cause if I go I'm not coming back.

I sit patiently waiting drinking water taking in the people watching show. 

A newly minted 21 year old dude starts to hit on me after a girl who was sitting next to him leaves. He asks me what I do, how long I've been in Key West and is surprised to hear I'm a waitress.

"You don't look like one." he says puzzled. I shrug and nod.

"My old dad just left" he says. "He's 53." 

His mom, who was with probably him, had kindly warned me to watch my purse as a sketchy guy got closer to the window we were both sitting in.

I laugh thinking, I wonder how old this kid thinks I am. And the next question is exactly that. He thinks I'm 31.  

"I'm 43. 10 years younger than your dad." I say with a smile.

No way. Where are you going after this? - he asks


The band finally hits, its not as good as I remember but still entertaining after they finally get the lead singers mic synced so you can hear how strong his voice is.

He looks like a beat up Robert Plant and I wonder how it feels to be pretending to be someone else all the time. The crowd starts cranking up like that RIF in stairway and I'm ready to head out a mere three songs later.

I ride home, drink more water and shower off the entities I collected this evening. 

Lay down, close my eyes and revel in the random float of life I love so much.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hurricane Rewind

Hurricane Matthew is upon us. All is well, we'll be fine.

But I can't help but remember how I started down here. Arriving two weeks before the worst hurricane the city had seen in a while. Wilma.

Heartbroken. Life broken. and jobless waiting for the island to recover so I could do the same. 

Under the Tuscan Sun. I think I was watching this on heavy cable rotation about everyday. Maybe even twice a day. 

Its uncanny how someone was trying to talk to me and let me know it'll all be ok. Feel so much affinity for it now, right down to the Asian best friend.

Fast forward to now 

Life has become exactly what I want in this moment. I sat in a church in Spain crying, thankful tears to those superior beings. So grateful for everything that's happened. All of it.

I've possibly fallen for a 23 year old Italian I met for like 10 minutes in Rome. I'm seriously considering buying a place in Europe with some friends. And the trip I just came back from was a celebration of it all.

Change can happen if you let it in. 

Be open to see the signs.

Amore Amore questa vita

More pics and stories later. Trying to take it all in first.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Upgrade time.

Was thinking of getting yet another camera for this upcoming trip but decided on a new phone instead. Haven't had a new one in quite a while and in the spirit of downsizing for this travel, it hit the mark.

What I didn't expect was the tirade of how much my sales representative hated Key West while waiting for my phone to get programmed. I really should have been paid the phone programming fee since I had to listen to a lot during that hour or so. 

Strangers like to tell me a lot of things. And I guess I listen, so more flows out.

How do people move here not knowing what its like?

I mean come on. 

Also mainstream northern people don't seem to know what to do with themselves. Not all but I'd gather to say about 80% of America. Unless its easily served up to them in a multiplex of stores and entertainment sources.

As I listened to complaint after complaint about the parking, bikers, pedestrians, cost of everything, etc. (I think I was in shock when he mentioned this place should be more car friendly). I just felt grateful.

I really like living outside the norm. That includes not watching a shit load of crappy reality TV.  (I do like to get my Project Runway on though)

My really good friend Toni came down for her annual visit. 

Whilest hanging in the house the first day she started mentioning TV shows I had no clue about. Seriously, sometimes I feel like I live in a hut (and I like it)

Naked and Afraid was one. When the logo came up with an XL after it, I asked if it was going to be about a group of fat people.

It was a group of naked people dropped off in the jungle with one tool to survive. Seriously? After we started watching them pick ticks off each other I asked if we could turn it off.

Junk food. Junk TV. Do you know how it truly affects you? What mindless static you allow in? 

Watching other people trying to survive in bizarre situations. Social, physical or otherwise. Hell, even politics and the commentary along with it, have been just as bad. I can't watch.

Americans are so angry and afraid.

So on the most recent tirade from this guy whom I just bought a phone from, I tell him there are some really great people down here. "What do you like to do for fun?"

The only thing I could get out of him was trivia games. Everything else I told him about he shot down with "I hate that" or "I can't"

A lot of people can't handle living in the Keys. You do with less, you don't have the same stuff as up north but you get so much more. 

Everyone needs a tribe and I've found some great peeps to hang with down here. Be it 5 minutes or 11 years. We've all had a history that led us down to the end of the road and a  good majority are happy here.

Maybe its cause we didn't fit in up north. 

Talked with a friend who's moving back up and asked if he was nervous about heading back into "normalsville". He was a bit but has a growing family where there will be more for them up there.

He asked me what I've figured out so far living here. I told him I know I didn't fit into 9 to 5. The gray cubicle that felt like jail until I felt natural light on my face as I walked out.

I don't need a career or title, I just need a job to support what I love to do.

I don't need much to be happy. A good cup of coffee, a swim, a bike ride, yoga, paint, photos, a book that blows my mind, great friends, a bunch of stupid laughs.

After visiting with my friend recently and talking to this guy yesterday, I wonder. I wonder if people need this reality TV crap to feel like they are in a better place.

Watching people in survival mode on all levels does it make you feel like you're alive? Watching someone suffering as much as you are, does it make you feel not so alone? 

In reality, I think it just numbs you out. Kinda like eating a giant bag of cheetos.

Don't let yourself be numb. Find something you love to do (however small) and enjoy the hell out of it. Push yourself to try something new just for kicks. Connect.

Just try. 

That's what's on my mind today. I keep feeling like Florida is fully flowing through my veins. (been seeing a bit of Bloodline lately and it resonates) All of it. And I wonder if I'd ever be able to go back to "normalsville"?

Or at the very least take a bit of out of the norm back to normalsville.

Been trying to check off all the little details I need to do before I leave on vacay, but made time to go to the beach this morning. 

Sit and breathe with eyes closed. Do a little yoga, get in and swim. Going back to the yoga studio too cause I miss my tribe and am ready to not go solo anymore.

I felt like I was dying up north before I got here. Don't let those everyday cycles spin you out. 


Its a lesson I don't want to ever forget. Got a good reminder  of it while purchasing a phone.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Acceptance and GO

"to be free means to be free to satisfy one's preferences. preferences themselves are beyond rational scrutiny; they express the authentic core of a self whose freedom is realized when there are no encumbrances to its preference satisfying behavior" 
- Matthew B Crawford - the world beyond your head

So I haven't been writing much these days.

A funny thing happened with the mural. A quick weekend or two in Miami with artsy friends was a realization of the life I've always had in front of me... but denied it.

Denied it because I didn't think I could make a living at it. Denied it because I needed something "more solid". Denied it because I was afraid to be seen. 

But its been there the whole time, ever since I was a little kid and it makes me happier than I ever realized.

Have you ever thought about what makes you truly happy? The one thing that you want to do without any limits, expectations or worry about failure?

I'm most alive when I'm exploring and creating. And why can't life be exactly that? I mean, who cares what kind of job you have as long as you have time for what you love. Time for what brings you to life.

I liken this realization to a slow moving car crash. 

You brace for the impact, holding on for dear life, tensing up with each tick-ing movement. Then when you hit, a release. 

It wasn't so scary after all. It was the bracing, the holding back that took all your energy and effort for an outcome that was going to happen no matter what.

I've been in Key West for about 11 years. In that time, I started out marketing artists. Writing about them, discovering how they became. In a way, I think it was to help me figure out my stuff and feeling a part of art without the fear of rejection.

I dabbled in it myself. Had big plans, marketing and selling. But the work couldn't flow. After those Wynwood weekends I found myself really enjoying just doing the work. Not worried about the outcome but more curious of how it would turn out. Or what turn it would take.

So much JOY.

Add to that some great conversations and laughs with other people that like to do weird things. I came home thinking I don't care how much I make, or if I even become successful; I just want to keep doing THIS. 

This is the life for me even with its uncertainty. And it was acceptance that made it break open and flood in.

All I want to do these days is paint, draw, put weird images on board. 

I can't stop the images from coming. Yoga has even taken a back seat to it a bit but I still find time to stand on my head (cause it feels good).

Life feels brighter. Even on tough days at work I look around and feel really grateful for what I have. 

Getting ready to take another big trip too. The Greek yoga retreat that was born out of a night in a basement Hong Kong Irish Bar with two yoga teachers doing shots is happening.

The retreat should be amazing but I'm also going to see my Tio Luis who's not doing so well these days and am most excited about this. He's 99. 

Spain was my first big trip to break open that artsy part and I'm going back to say thank you and see him one last time. Even found a little surf house to stay at not too far from the farm. 

Throw in some Barcelona time, a day in Italy, Germany and its on. 

For now, its painting, figuring out how to pack a backpack for the trip, getting back to the yoga studio, updating and upgrading my phone for better travel pics and getting excited for more images to come.

Even time to hop a Greyhound to see my friend Toni in Key Largo for a weekend. Adventures in life in every form! 

Gotta kill that curiosity one weird adventure at a time.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


"You seem...Charged." a regular patron tells me as I enter the restaurant after my first weekend in Wynwood.

"I am!" and that is the best description of the finish of a few really really good weeks.

Who knew just a mere weekend or two off would change my whole perspective. It really stretches back the night before my birthday and a vegetarian cooking class with a bunch of girls I didn't really know.

Bookend Stock Island krunk fun to Wynwood krunk. Or Krunk to Krunk as I like to call it.

At the cooking class I found out one of the girls worked in the library. I've always wanted to secretly be a librarian and so I not so stealthy cornered her to find out what its really like while listening how we should cook vegetables.

In the midst of finding out how to properly slice and dice our veggies I gave up and told her how I've always wanted to work in a library but never knew anyone actually working in one. The flood gates were open for questions at that point and bonus, she actually worked in the archival section which is even cooler and my inner nerd rejoiced.

We talked all about her work, how she got there, where she wants to ultimately go with it and does she ever get afraid of ruining really old stuff. And there was one sentence she uttered that summed up my obessession with running away to the library world for work.

"Yeah, I like to learn too."

That's it. That's why I want to be a librarian. And why the library has always been a sanctuary for me in my toughest times. It may not be the job I'm looking for so much as the environment and ability to learn at all times. 

Steph, an old college buddy rolls into town the day after my birthday. Most of my college friends have families and 9 to 5 jobs and all of them have not made it down here. Yet.

She got a great gift from her hubby (also a college buddy of mine) to come down and visit. I warn her that we'll be kicking it in my studio apartment like its 1995. At first a little embarrassed by it. 

You tend to compare your life to your friends in "normalsville" and wonder if you're not still a college student who's in their 40's. 

Thinking mostly of her sprawling house and yard in comparison to my one room apartment. But in the end I really love my place, where I'm at and am happy to share it with her.

We get some bikes and roll about town. As she calls it the wine and bike tour cause that's exactly what we did. My favorite part was the sailboat/snorkel day in which we got in and swam with all the fishes. Something I vow to do more often cause I miss the reef and open water.

We swam with a big ole sea turtle and nurse shark that whizzed by. I kept popping up and pointing to make sure she was seeing it all.

Key West home isn't so bad when you have all this beauty to enjoy. Sometimes it takes a friend coming down to remind you of that very thing. 

Onto the next week and a trip up to Miami to help my spirit animal make a Wynwood mural. Marlene is one of my yoga teacher/artist friends who is fucking cool as shit. And even cooler when you find out she was on a call list to pose nude and that ended her up at a cocktail party naked painted pink serving David Bowie a drink.

I remember seeing her artwork before I actually knew her and asking the gallery owner "Who is that???" 

Her work spoke to me immediately and later finding out she's a trip to hang with as well. Her, me and her nephew are on the team to make this wall happen. And bonus points for all of us not knowing what we were doing since it was all our first time but it just flowed.

The ride up to Miami was so fast as we all talked constantly about everything. I forgot what its like to be around artists. Fast, excited, conversation over a myriad of subjects and how to tutorials.

It was already a great trip. We primed the wall the first day and scoped it out. While waiting for the second coat to dry we got some animal masks in the costume shop we were painting on.

In between had great beers at the brewery, amazing food at Kush, and met other creatives in the neighborhood. I was in heaven and it was only the first weekend.

We finished up this past weekend staying in a krunk town airbnb place that was kinda perfect too. Complete with three huge banana tree spiders that kept the bugs away.

Everyone in Miami was so kind. From the couple that let us use their scaffolding. Right down to the security guard who let us into the Wynwood walls cause Chase wanted to take a pic of one artist's work. It totally changed my view of Miami and let me know there's a place I can get my creative fix if I need to. 

I need to be around other artists. It just adds something to the work and is a damn good time. 

Food truck eats, an MTV food show shoot while painting, walking around the walls trying to figure out how other artists did what they did was awesome. 

Marlene is talking about starting a mural business and I'd be totally fine with it. I don't even care how much it pays, I just want to keep painting. It was so fun figuring it all out and with a wall that big you can't think about screwing it up. You just gotta get paint down and quick. Details come later.

I see it already changing my work which is what I hoped this excursion would do.

Shake things up a bit, give yourself some space, see where it leads. 

The artist community is how I fell in love with Key West. It's good to see it alive again in another form.

And the biggest learning of all came yesterday when I got a rush of ideas for new paintings. I am not a marketer.

I started taking off the marketing tag on descriptions of me in my social media a few weeks ago. It didn't feel right anymore. 

I got some requests for files from the new web designer of an old client and realized I have used marketing as a shield to be what I am. An artist.

It was a way to stay creative, make money, have a respectable title. It was safe.

As an artist, there's no guarantee you'll sell. You may have odd jobs, and there's no traditional pathway to success. Its a total crap shoot.

I chose marketing cause it was safe and it almost killed me. Yes, I learned how to MacGyver the shit out of anything and make it happen on a shoestring budget but I got crushed. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

I choose art. I'd much rather use my marketing tools to spread art out in the world than beer, shoes, tomato sauce, credit cards, and soda. 

Its where my heart is and always has been. I don't think I truly realized that until this weekend. I don't think I truly knew how marketing blocked me from being that until now.

I choose art. I choose my heart. Even if I'm not quite sure where it leads.

I started a new portrait yesterday and have some really cool weird ideas for more. Having fun with it I decided to post a pic to my personal Facebook page to show people. 

I've always compartmentalized that piece of me not comfortable to show it to everyone. It took a long time to just show my paintings to people I knew and cared about. I didn't hesitate to show it now. 

As we were cleaning up last night and one of our busboys  was mentioning I've been gone too much as of late. Our manager made light of it in a way saying, "Don't you know, she's an artist now..."

"Yes, I am. Damn straight."

Sunday, April 17, 2016



This is what you see when going to a friend's house to get your haircut. 

I love spring. Always have and always will.