Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Florida

Florida Vacation Photos!

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West Palm Beach, Florida

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Delray Beach, Florida

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Sophia and My Mother

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The water was much warmer than at the beach in LA.

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I kept on seeing these hunky guys on the beach with no hair on their bodies, so I tried to shave my back, but mostly just cut myself.

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Palm Beach — the good ol’ days (for everyone except the guy pushing the chair).  Look at the contrast in expressions.

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The Flagler Mansion in Palm Beach.   Flagler is the man who “created modern Florida” through his building of the railroad and his somewhat shady dealings with the government.   Our tour guide was a very well-dressed older man who I think just lost his fortune in the Madoff ponzi scheme and was forced to take a job giving visitors tours of the mansion.

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The Flagler Museum offers a “high tea.”  It was fun, but the sandwiches were so measly that we went out to lunch afterwards.

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There are canals all along the coast, and drawbridges everywhere, especially in Fort Lauderdale.   I was surprised how patient  the drivers were, waiting in their cars with no honking.   This would not happen in New York.

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I know everyone is waiting for me to make fun of Century Village, with all the residents at “death’s door,” but it really wasn’t that bad.  Sure, there was a good amount of senior Jewish kvetching about their aching backs by the former New York residents, but let’s give kudos to modern science for keeping all of us alive longer, and in better health.    Here is my mother and a couple of her friends talking about the younger man who is taking a shower in the apartment next door and the size of his penis.   (Ha Ha, my mother was NOT happy with that post, because she just told all of her friends at Century Village to read my blog — and the first post they read was…)

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The “Clubhouse” is the central attraction at Century Village, much like the Student Union on a college campus.    Inside this nice building is a gym, a library, art studios, card rooms, and a theater.    Thousands of people live in Century Village and they have their own bus system.

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The lobby of the Clubhouse is as nice as one at any Hyatt Hotel.

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The clubhouse has several enormous Las Vegas sized card rooms.   My mother played canasta, mah jonng, Scrabble, etc.    Let’s admit it — this isn’t that much different than the stupid games we play on Facebook.   At least here, the residents are playing with REAL people, face to face.

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The entertainment offered to the residents is surprisingly good.   While I didn’t go to any of the recent shows, they included an ABBA and Beatles tribute band, Chubby Checker, and a night with Robert Klein.   Robert Klein!   Hey, I guess we all get older.   Would it really be that surprising to have Prince and Janet Jackson performing for us when we are at Century Village?

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Here is some belly dancer at a Greek restaurant that I am throwing in, just for the sex appeal.   We were there for the early bird special!   Since I was one of the younger men there, she invited me to dance with her.   Sorry, no video camera.

My mother returns to New York at the end of the month.   This year was an experiment, and she seemed to enjoy skipping the New York winter for three months.    But I’m not sure she’s ready to spend ALL her time playing canasta just yet.  I think she misses the big city.

As for me — and what I am doing next now that she is returning? — I certainly can’t live with my mother forever.   That is too weird, even for me.   I would grow despondent and spend all my time on Twitter.   Uh-oh.

So what is my next step?   Ha, I’m not going to tell you!   I’m going to keep it vague — just to keep you coming back to the blog, in the same way that you keep on watching “Lost,” despite having no idea what the hell is going on.  In fact, isn’t that WHY you watch it?!

Mom, Don’t Forget to Wear Your Hat

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At some point in every adult’s life, the "child" begins to worry about his parents.  This is a passage of life because before that, it was the parents who mostly worried about the child.  For some, this happens at an early age.  A parent could be sick, unattentive, or die early, making the child mature early. 

This was not my case.   My parents never wanted me to worry.  Instead they were the ones who constantly worried about me.

Today, there’s a blizzard in New York.  Tomorrow, my mother will schlep from Queens into Manhattan to go to work.  I called her tonight and told her "to dress warm" tomorrow — knowing she had a bout with pneumonia last year.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and she used to make me wear a hat. 

Are our roles reversing?

She enjoys working downtown, but at some point, she might want to retire.  Would she enjoy being in the nice weather during the winter?  She recently visited her friend Shirley in Florida. Shirley lives in one of those "retirement villages" in Boca Raton.  My mother says she "wasn’t crazy about Florida," mostly because it made her feel older than she actually feels inside.

My mother brought up an example:

"Shirley and I went to the clubhouse for "Movie Night."  They were showing "Bull Durham."  Halfway through the movie there was a fire alarm.  Everyone got up to exit the clubhouse, but there were so many older residents with walkers and canes, that it took everyone twenty minutes to exit the clubhouse.  It ended up being a false alarm — but we skipped the rest of the movie, not wanting to wait another twenty minutes while everyone sat down again."

After she retires, the logical next step would be for her to move out here  — maybe during the winter months — assuming I’m still living in Los Angeles.  After all, I’m the only child.  But where would she live?  My mother doesn’t know how to drive, despite having a New York State driver’s license, which is the funniest thing in the universe to me.  My mother said that if she moves here, she’ll take a refresher course in driving.  Little does she know that if she is going to drive around Los Angeles, that’s the time when I move somewhere else.

All in all, my mother seems to be doing pretty well since my father’s passing.  Although she says it is "too quiet" at night, she’s been going out to concerts and movies on weekends.  In May, she’s even going with two women friends on a bus trip through Spain and Portugal.  That’s something she could have never dragged my father to do.

I’m still such a kid myself — still unsettled with work and marriage.  I wish I could be more of help to her, instead of it always being the other way around.  But, let’s see — at least I have my blog to entertain her with during the day!   I know she reads it every day, because I see her in the stats — she is my most consistent reader.

Although, this weekend, we did have a little mother-son discussion about my blog:

"Neil, one of my friends who I play Mahjong with reads your blodge and she wanted me to tell you something important."

"Is this Suzanne we’re talking about?"

"Yes, how did you know?"

"Because she’s your only friend who would know how to find a blog online.  What did she say?"

"She said she likes the blodge  a lot.."

"Blog!  Blog!"

"OK, blodge… but she has one small complaint.  There’s too much of "that thing.""

"What "thing?""

"That "thing" you talk about too much."

"What are you talking about, Mom?"

"That "thing" you talk to."

"Oh… that "thing.""

"Yes.  She said to just "cut it out."   I mean, not the "thing."   Don’t cut off the "thing."  She meant to "cut it out" of the blodge… to stop talking about the "thing," not  to cut your "thing" itself, G-d forbid."

"I understand, Mom.  You didn’t raise an idiot."  

"And I agree…"

"About what?  Oh…"

"I… um… who in the world talks to their "thing?""

"Yeah…"

"So, anyway…"

"Uh…well, uh…so, Mom, (changing the subject)… are you watching the Olympics…?"

Granny, Won’t You Drive My Car?

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Dear Mom,

How are you doing in all that East Coast heat?  Are you making sure Dad puts on the air-conditioning?  Force him to.  Tell him you’re going to divorce him and he’ll have to make his own Cheerios if he doesn’t leave the air-conditioner on all night. 

Enjoying the blog?   Be careful when you read it at work.  You don’t want to get fired.  Although that would be sort of cool.  You could become a star in the blogosphere.  Like Dooce.  You can be the first mother fired from her job for reading her son’s blog.

Actually, I’m writing about something serious today, and I’m interested in your perspective:

Yesterday afternoon, Sophia and I met for lunch.  While we were driving down La Cienega, there was this car swerving in and out of lanes, as if the driver was terribly drunk.   We barely avoided colliding with it twice.  Sophia honked.  We figured it was some kind of drunk-off-his-ass kid.   As we sped up next to the car, hoping to pass, we noticed that it wasn’t any type of kid, but an elderly woman.   She was driving 20 miles an hour and wore glasses three times my prescription.  This woman was dangerous!  It made me think of that elderly guy who drove smack into the touristy Santa Monica Promenade a couple of years ago, killing 10 people.

You can’t really blame older people for wanting to drive in a city like Los Angeles, but why the hell do we allow them to do it — without some sort of safety net?   Los Angeles seems more concerned with smoking on the beach than all these dangerous drivers.

How many times have we joked about you and Dad having New York State driver’s licenses?   How in God’s name does New York keep on renewing your license?  When was the last time you drove — 1960?  And if I remember the story, you drove three blocks from that summer house in Coney Island to the boardwalk? 

And Dad?… he has trouble opening up the door to my Honda.  Have you ever actually seen him drive a car?  Giving Dad a driver’s license is as dangerous as giving Christian Slater some drugs to "hold for a friend."

Maybe Brooke will stop by the blog today and leave a comment about life driving in Florida.  Remember the last time we were in Florida?   Eighty year old men would get out from their wheelchair and into the driver’s seat!

Now, I don’t want to make this into an "attack old people" post.  If there’s one thing I hate about Americans is that we don’t respect our senior citizens.  And there are plenty of younger people who shouldn’t be driving.  It’s as if they make you take your driver’s test once — when you’re a teenager in your prime health — and then they just ship you off onto the freeway!   I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a blind guy getting his license renewed.  Would you?

I know you’re thinking of retiring to Florida.  But with all those geriatric drivers, I’m getting a little worried about your safety.  Wouldn’t it be safer just staying in crime-ridden Flushing? 

Unless… oh, no, you better not be — you and Dad aren’t planning on DRIVING in Florida?  Because if you are, I need to warn the others now!

Love, Neil

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