A good exhaustion

So my friend who visited from NY is on a plane on his way home as we speak. I miss him. But I’ll see him in a couple of months when I go to NY so that will be fun.

But let me tell you something. If you haven’t gotten back to your after-pandemic routine, you know – back to normal, you may be in for a rude awakening.

I like to think I am in good shape, but after not doing much for the past year and not going to the gym, let me tell you – I am beat after everything we’ve done. It’s almost as if I need a day off in between our outings.

He said to me yesterday that I seemed very low-key, not down, but very quiet, “low energy” are the words he used. He said I wasn’t like my usual lively self. He was right. I was exhausted from all the walking and site seeing and other things we did. We had a cool/cold winter here and now the heat and humidity is starting to kick in so that takes a lot out of you. And not having done much exercise or walking in the past year makes a difference when you walk nine miles a day in the heat and humidity!

But it feels good. It’s a good exhaustion, like when you do a hard day’s work and you feel you’ve accomplished something. That’s how I feel.

A visit to the zoo

I finally got the workout I have been looking for all year – I went to the zoo with a friend the other day.

We walked around in the sun and heat for five hours – that will give anyone a nice workout. We ended up walking miles! It felt good. According to an app on my phone, we walked 9 miles! Slowly and stopping a lot, of course, but still, 9 miles!

I could not move the next day. I hadn’t worked out so much in a year due to the pandemic. When I’m in NY, I have been known to walk 12 miles in a day, so I better work myself up for that for when I go this summer, otherwise I’ll be nursing sore muscles after one day out and about the city.

I have a friend in town from NY so we’ve been doing things, I’m not sure what possessed us to do Zoo Miami, but on that same day, one of my cousins announced that was her first day working at the Bronx Zoo, a lifelong dream of hers.

I got excited because I started watching all those behind the scenes zoo shows at the beginning of the pandemic. That was my Saturday nights and the Bronx Zoo episodes are my favorites of all of them. It’s very comforting, especially at the time of being locked inside for all those months.

There are zoos featured from all over – Tampa, England, Australia, Columbus, Ohio; North Carolina, etc. It’s amazing to see all the love and respect the animals are given by the caretakers. But my favorite is how they do it in the Boogie Down Bronx.

I have plans to visit the Bronx Zoo this summer – to not see the animals – but to see the human characters I see on the zoo tv shows!

Traveling in the time of covid vaccines

My aunt passed away in New York the other day and I am unable to attend her wake and funeral, and ironically it’s because of her! She is a second mother to me and my cousins are brothers and sisters to me, so it really hurts not to go.

But I got my second vaccine shot yesterday and the nurse suggested I don’t travel in case of side effects. My aunt insisted, she called it nagging, that I get the shots. I said I was not old enough yet, but she insisted and I managed to go. She kept checking up on me – “Did you go yet?” “Which shot did you get?” When is your follow-up shot?” She was so instant.

She just couldn’t deal with being cooped up in the house for a year, so she was so looking forward to normalcy.

So when I mentioned at the vaccine site that I was trying to get a flight to NY, the nurse suggested I don’t. She said, “There may be side effects with the second shot and I don’t think you want to be up in the air or away from home if this should happen.”

I normally would ignore this, but a few years back I had kidney problems, which ended up being kidney failure, only I didn’t know a the time. And the night before I was to leave New York and head home, I really got sick. The next morning, I don’t know how I made it to the airport and onto that plane. I remember waking up and not knowing how I was going to get out of bed, I still don’t remember getting to the airport, but I remember feeling like death on the plane, wishing we were home already. So that thought creeped into my head when the nurse mentioned the issue and I decided I don’t want a repeat, even though they would only be side effects.

I ended up in the hospital for eight days with kidney failure, but that was a few years back and I’m perfect now – that’s another story.

But back to that trip. When I got to the airport, I ran into a friend Jerry, who was on my flight. So we sat together at the terminal waiting for the plane and as he was talking, it was going right through me. Everything bothered me – voices, the light, etc. There were two or three nuns sitting nearby who were talking and their voices were driving me crazy, too. I always remember that – and they were nuns – how loud could they be chatting?

A couple of years later, I told Jerry about it. I don’t think he knew I was sick at the time. I said, “Jerry, remember that time we were at the airport together?” And I went on to tell him how everything he did and said went right through me.

He laughed and said, “Well, I thought you were in trouble. You looked so bad and you smelled awful! I could barely be around you.” He went on, “I thought you had gone to NY for a week or two to do drugs or something! That’s how bad you looked and smelled!”

I said, “That’s funny, because why would I leave Miami, the drug capital, to go to NY to do drugs?”

Then when I read up on it, I saw that if you have kidney failure or problems, your urine and other toxins excrete from your pores. So I really must have smelled awful at the time! I was too out of it to notice others on the plane, but they must have been shunning me. Which reminds me of another story.

Years ago, when you could actually move around the plane, I was sitting next to a guy who smelled so awful, I couldn’t stay next to him. I got up and moved my seat back some rows. I left my carry-on bag under the seat but I just picked myself up and moved. He kept looking back, wondering where I had gotten off to, but I just couldn’t stay near him. I was young and nervy then and had the gumption to move, I don’t think I would do that now, or even be allowed to do that now.

But anyway, I won’t be going to NY for the funeral. I am sure my aunt would understand. I did send a big thing of flowers and I sent sympathy cards to everyone separately, rather than just one for the family and I’ve been in touch with my cousins and uncle via phone, text and email. It is going to be a tough thing when I visit in the summer, though.

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What if closing time is 2 am?

There is talk of changing the last call in South Beach. They want it to be 2 am. That is when liquor will stop being served in their 170 locations, that serve liquor. 170 locations! Now to be clear, this is only during a few weeks during Spring Break each year, but I suspect that the residents will love it so much, they may make it a full time, all year thing.

But I was thinking about it. I don’t know how I would survive with that. I don’t go out to bars and clubs these days, but in my time (again, sounding like an old man), we didn’t even go out until midnight! I remember my first time in Boston, I was flabbergasted to see that the bars closed at 2 am! In Miami, we don’t get going until that time!

Miami Beach/South Beach is one small area in all of Miami-Dade County. The whole county consists of 34 municipalities (cities, towns, villages), the whole county is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined; so there is plenty more to do than South Beach. South Beach is sort of the Times Square of the area. Some other cities you may know are Miami (yes, Miami is a separate city from Miami Beach and South Beach is one area of Miami Beach); Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, which used to be Cutler Ridge; and so on. . . . Each has its own closing time, but the tourists, and most locals, hang out in South Beach to party.

In South Beach the mayor wants to turn the Art Deco district and all of South Beach into something else (during Spring Break only?), rather than party central – maybe more arts and culture, I think. I don’t know how that will go over, but of course it will change the whole complexion of the place.

But how many times did I come crawling in at 6 or 7 am, take a shower, change and head out to work. How many times did my friends and I head out at midnight? Well, actually, every night.

It’s just something to think about, the changing times, literally and figuratively.

The menace of the ocean

Today’s cartoon is more editorial or commentary than funny. It’s about the scourge of our oceans – the jet ski.

Since the pandemic started, I have seen more and more activity on the water, including jet skis. The calm, pretty kayaks and paddle boarders are sometimes menaced by jet ski riders.

I know, I know, I sound like an old man, “Get off my lawn!” “Get out of my water!”

But seriously, I have always been against them. They tear up the ocean bottom in shallow areas and are not good for the sea life. The noise, interruption and chaos is not healthy for them.

I can hear them coming from a mile away. And usually they are racing across the sea, in pairs or more.

I remember years ago, I used to go to a quite beach, where there were hardly any people and one guy would always pull up in his jet ski. I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.

Today with all those Spring Break fools, spreading covid and disaster all over the city, jet skis only add to this mess. And it’s never the locals, I guess locals have a respect for the environment. It’s always visitors, tourists. You can sometimes see them pulling the jet skis behind their cars, looking for a dock to accost so they can then attack the water, the fish and the whole environment.

Ok, there’s my rant for the day. I’ll go back to being a happy cartoonist tomorrow.

Old friends popping up out of the blue

I’ve been cleaning the house up this week. Nothing much, it’s more messy than dirty. But I want it to look decent for a friend I haven’t seen in 40 years. Yup, 40 years! We were kids the last time we saw each other for goodness sake!

He emailed me a couple of weeks ago. My name popped in his head after all these years and he did an internet search and he found me. We talked on the phone, and he’ll be in town maybe this week. He lives in Orlando now and he’s back and forth to Miami often.

Strange when I think about it. 40 years – a lifetime. I had a whole life since I saw him last, so did he.

This isn’t the first time this happened, a friend I know since we are three years old contacted me not long ago. He found me on Facebook. We haven’t touched base in person yet, but he also lives not too far from me, maybe an hour’s drive north. The last time I saw him, I think he was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Amazing. He has a wife and four kids now.

Social media is amazing. But again – this isn’t the first time, but a bit before I was on social media, in 2008 or 2009, I found an old photo of a friend named Tom, yup, another Tom. We were very good friends but he left town after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was such a crazy time that people got scattered all over the place and he ended up going back to California, to San Francisco, where he was born. His family has lived there for generations. I never asked him about it, I have to – did they go there during the gold rush of 1849? How did they end up there so many years ago?

Anyway, I found a bunch of old photos and there was Tom in one. It jogged my memory, I had not seen him for almost 20 years by then. I did an internet search and I found his email address. I emailed him and we connected, he came down to visit and we have been connected since – mostly on Facebook – but we have been connected in person, too. It’s sort of my turn to visit him in California – maybe soon after the pandemic is over.

I find it so weird and interesting that even though decades have passed, we all go back to where we left off – sort of like muscle memory. It’s like no time passed at all. Even all our voices sound the same to all of us after not hearing them for so long. And the funny things we remember about each other come right back. Certain things come up or tv shows come on or whatever, and something flashed in your mind and you remember certain people at certain times doing certain things. A news story or event or a certain neighborhood or building brings certain people to mind.

My friend in Orlando asked if I remembered him. I was taken aback when he asked. Why wouldn’t I? He’s part of the fabric of my life.

He protests too much

I just left my car for service early this morning – a tune up, Schedule A service.

I took Uber home. I see they charge a booking fee now on top of the regular fee. Strange. How else would I get them, wave them down to save on the booking fee? Just add that fee to the cost of the ride rather than nickle and dime people, right?

A friend texted me and asked me to meet him for breakfast. I had breakfast early this morning, about 7 am, so I didn’t want to go to breakfast, but also, I am incapacitated until the car is done later. So I’m stuck at home, although I guess I could have taken an Uber to meet him.

He could have picked me up you say? No, he can’t, because in Miami, a car-based city, he doesn’t have car. He bikes it all over. He is an older guy, in his 70s and to his credit, he rides miles a day – sometimes as much as 60 miles a day!

When I told him I left the car for service, his reply was, “I’m so glad I don’t have a car.” Which makes me think he wishes he had a car, because why say such a thing? We all chauffeur him around when he can’t take his bike places.

And he is totally against social media, too.. I think it’s because he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand. He puts down social media daily. He sends me articles constantly on how bad it is, how they are stealing our personal info, etc. etc.

Rather than just not say anything, he likes to put social media down, like he does my car or anyone’s car – because he doesn’t have a car.

Ironically, he used to work for the city and he had a city car and he would bring the city car home, which maybe was not allowed, because quite a few years back he was written about in the newspaper and blogs and scrutinized about using the company car for person reasons. So maybe that’s why he has an aversion to cars. Although he has had his own car after that situation and he did pick me up many times to go out and hang out.

He did tell me yesterday that the best thing he ever did was give up his car and use his bike, which I can believe. I told him I missed the gym and he suggested I get a bike, but I miss the free weights, not cardio. So a bike will do me no good in that regard.

He has a new bike now, it folds up. It looks so silly when we are at lunch or wherever, because it looks like a wheelchair or something folded up beside him, then he unfolds it and rides off.

Shots are coming

This is yesterday’s cartoon. I wasn’t sure how it would be received, would people like it? And lo and behold, people seemed to like it.

I overheard someone say this the other day and thought it was funny, and for some reason, whenever I read it or hear it, it makes me laugh.

But perhaps this is a good idea for those who are hesitant to get the vaccine – a jello shot in exchange for an arm shot. In this case, many people may opt for the two shots, rather than the single Johnson & Johnson shot.

It is an exciting time, just the thought of travel has me excited.

We can’t wait to gogh!

My cousin had me in tears the other day. Why? Because she booked us tickets for the Immerse Van Gogh experience in New York for July! I was going to get some tickets for Miami when it’s here in April, but this is better. I had written about it in November, when they were planning the event for Indianapolis. I really had considered going there to see it.

I was in tears because I can’t believe that things are starting to get back to normal. When she texted me that she got the tickets and told me the date and time, I was filled with happiness, something I really hadn’t felt in a long time, the pandemic was starting to weight on me. But it’s real. It’s happening. I’m going to immerse myself into my favorite artist with some of my favorite people.


I’ve missed them so much. My cousins are like brothers and sisters to me. I spend so much time with them during the year, but the last time I saw them in person was November 2019. We talk and chat all the time, but of course it’s not the same.

What was even better is that I didn’t realize that there were more than two of us on the text when she said she got the tix, so when others chimed in and said they were excited, too. I really lost it.

I’ll take you along through this blog, of course, but if you want to attend in a city near you, check out the info and dates here.

Lots of walking in the city

I mentioned this walking activity graph the other day. I particularly remember this time – I did a lot of walking that summer, when I look at this chart, I remember looking at the steps I took at the end of the day and was flabbergasted that I walked so much in one day.

I remember I started our early that day, I went to the post office first. I was mailing dirty clothing home! I do that midway through a long stay away from home, it lightens the load when I’m headed home and it gives me extra room for new things that I might have purchased during my time away.

I remember that morning, as I was walking to a post office in Manhattan, I saw Stanley Tucci, the actor of all people. He was running on Second Avenue, early in the morning. There weren’t many people around since it was an early summer day – July 4th week. He stopped to wait for traffic and he said “hello” to me. He was quite buff, he looks smaller on tv. It’s funny how that one moment in time sticks with me – the early morning, walking to the post office bit, I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, but that early morning post office/Tucci part remains in my mind.

For many years I would send a box of clothing ahead on long trips. I would have them sent to my cousins or aunt and uncles’ house and then pick them up when I had a chance. I stopped doing that, but I do mail back dirty clothing mid-trip now.

One time my uncle tied up the box I had sent ahead with cord/rope, so that it would be easy to carry – sort of making a handle with the rope. I remember taking it back to the city on the subway. I later opened the box, but never ended up using any of the clothing. At the hotel where I was staying, I had moved rooms. I don’t remember why, but they said they would move my stuff for me when I was out, not to worry, when I came back, just head to the new room.

When I got back later, there was my stuff in the room and I had to laugh because the cord that was there from the box my uncle had wrapped, was balled up on the top of the box, sort of like a cherry on the top of a cake.

Later on that week, I needed rope for something. I don’t remember why. But there was the rope, sitting like a cherry on top of the box, and I used that.