Friday, February 25, 2005

Skin Deep Town (or how I went to Florida with my parents and survived and I didn't even get a stinking t-shirt)

I know it's been a while since I've updated this site, but here's the thing. I was away all of last weekend without access to e-mail. Now why was I away, you may ask? Well, my cousin Michael got married last Sunday in Hollywood, Florida (where his wife Tami's family is from) and I attended the wedding. Now keep in mind that I'm not normally a big fan of events like this that involve my extended family. However, I felt obliged to attend because even though I've never even met Michael, his father Daniel attended my Bar Mitzvah (I may be self-centered but at least I remember things like that) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1988 (he was living in Los Angeles at the time and still does). Plus, I have a few pretty cool cousins from that side of my family that I looked forward to seeing.

Now, instead of flying down there, like I would if I was actually sane (or much wealthier), I decided to drive down with my parents (I don't have a car) and take a flight back on President's Day since I had to be back here for work on Tuesday and I already took a day off last Friday and wanted to save up more vacation time. They're still there since they rented a condo (which has a separate guest bedroom, so that's why I decided to stay with them to save $) right on the beach and then they're going on a cruise, so they made an entire vacation out of it.

So anyway, without getting into any personal details, everyone managed to get along and we even managed to have some interesting conversations, though we did get in a few arguments from time to time. It was just tough because it made feel like a teenager or younger when I used to go on trips with them since there was only 1 room key and one car, so I was completely dependent upon them for the short duration of time (we got in Saturday night and I left on Monday morning) that I was there. We started driving on Friday morning (from my parents' house in East Brunswick) with me and my dad taking turns driving (the next day, I took turns driving with both my mom and dad) and we made it down to Florence, South Carolina by 9 PM or so, we decided to get rooms there.

Of course, I got my own room and it was good to finally get some alone time. Plus, they had HBO and I got to catch the season premier of Real Time with Bill Maher. Although I don't particularly agree with his attitudes towards women, I think he's generally awesome. He was talking and joking about the White House Jeff Gannon sex scandal that no one is reporting (God bless him for being one of the few who is; of course it was Clinton this would be front-page news ala Monica Lewinsky) as well as frightening statistics about how little regard U.S. teenagers have for personal freedoms that every American (hell every person) should hold sacred, such as the right to dissent and offer controversial opinions. He had Sen. Joe Biden from Delaware, who was a good guest and Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and the former White House health secretary under Bush's 1st term. Of course, Thompson was a complete tool, blindly defending Bush adminstration policy and lauding Bush's role in the Iraqi elections, whereas Biden (despite also being blindly partisan and naive on certain things) made a great point when they were discussing the remarks made recently by Harvard's president about women not being as good at math and science as men are. This is a topic that hits close to home for me since I have an advanced degree in a technical field and I teach math. Anyway, Biden said that over half of all college math degrees are awarded to women, but far less end up using their degrees. Partly, he said the "mommy track" was partly to blame (and he's right), but he also said that there's something else happening, which is that women are discouraged from pursuing careers in technical fields, which is something that Maher (who seems to think that men are inherently better in math and science) refused to acknowledge.

After that, I caught a shitty VH1 movie about Jimi Hendrix and then went to sleep.

On Saturday afternoon, we stopped for lunch in Jacksonville, Florida. What a strange place. On the street where we stopped to eat, there was a Christian study center right next to a gun store and on the next corner was a strip club. Guns, God and titties. You gotta love the dirty South. If I only had a camera on me at the time. Incidentally, Graham Parker once wrote a song called "Ill Never Play Jacksonville Again". I wonder if that's why. :-)

With that said, mad props to Friendly's for having really tasty (and bunless, low-carb friendly) burgers and very tasty low-carb ice cream. We ate the night before at Shoney's, a large and extremely ubiquitous Southern cooking chain (there was one on almost every exit from North Carolina all the way down to Northern Florida) which I loved as a kid (there was one in Baton Rouge that I used to go to all the time with my dad), but which left me less than satisfied. I hadn't eaten in one for at least 11 1/2 years and the seafood buffet left much to be desired, though of course buffet food in general is less than stellar, so maybe that was the problem.

Well, we finally made it down to Hollywood (which is about 20 miles north of Miami and a few miles south of Ft. Lauderdale) at about 9 PM or so and we were all completely tired.

The next day, we had brunch (luckily the complex has a cafe on the main level) and I relaxed in the heated outdoor pool (it was a bit too cold to go into the Atlantic, though at 77 degrees, still considerably nicer than it is here in New York). And then, it was time for the wedding. It was in an old synagogue and frankly, the ceremony was beautiful and again, it was nice to see my cousins who I don't get to see too often.

And just like that, after flying out the next day out of Ft. Lauderdale, my short trip was over and I was back in Manhattan by about 6 PM on Monday. It took me a few days to get back to reality, however, after so much time spent in the car and an ever so short amount of time relaxing in Florida.


Blogger Danielle said...

If Bill Maher wasn't such a sexist prick I would totally love him. I'm like Shatner, man. 'I can't get behind that.'

11:22 PM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

I'm kinda with you there. My roommate feels the exact same way (I was talking about this very issue with her last night). I just think he has issues with women (and with children, too, for that matter; I think people who hate kids as much as he does are weird; I mean if you don't wanna have them, then fine, and I hate when people are judged for not having them by those who are parents, but on the other hand, you were a kid once and someone tolerated you, right?) that he needs to deal with, but his views on almost everything else (including civil liberties) are spot-on.

Great Shat reference, too.

3:53 PM


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