Life & Bolts: The Journey, Not the Destination

I like to be in the middle
I was a huge hockey fan in junior high school, growing up outside of Philly. 

I admired Manon Rhéaume and wanted to be the first woman in the NHL. Though I realized by the time I was 16, since I still didn't know how to skate, I should face reality and aim for a more viable career (like first woman head writer for SNL or queen of all noncommercial media).  

The Legion of Doom visit Sears Portrait Studio
Me and Lisa & my awesome polenta

Clark Brooks & I prep for the Game 7

I moved to Tampa the year after the Lightning won their only Stanley Cup, and it was pretty exciting to be back in a sports town again after many years of being NHL-free in the states of Delaware and Washington. 

Seems a little counterintuitive (like ice skating in Tampa in January), but we Tampans love our hockey, even when the home team is 1,400 miles away.  


Our Checklist Manifesto

Checklist composed during the first round of beers

The Brews & Books book club had its third meeting last night. The assignment was Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto, which was my (pleading) suggestion. 

The general consensus was that the book was useful, but even I, the die hard Gawandite of the group, found parts of it drag along. 
His Better remains one of my favorite books and should be read by any one not wanting a mediocre existence. 

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Tonight at Skippers!

Celebrate Dylan's 70th birthday tonight at Skippers along with some of Tampa Bay's finest musicians. 5pm to midnight, $10 advance, $13 door.


More Heatwave 2011

Carolina Chocolate Drops 

Sassy would have sounded their Cute Band Alert for the Ryan Montbleau Band

Devon Stuart played the New World Brewery with Mike Claytor, Lauris Vidal and Ricky Kendall (the latter two pictured below).

Holy Ghost Tent Revival's Ross Montsinger

WMNF Station Manager Jim Bennett with Cheryl Mogul

 David Audet of the Artists & Writers Group plugs his latest production, The Cuban Sandwich Show. The multimedia art show runs June 1st -30th.  

Always something to look forward to in Ybor. 


Heatwave 2011

with a Tampa favorite, singer songwriter Geri X
I volunteered the first few hours of Heatwave, checking in other volunteers and directing foot traffic.  

MIFU ready for the street parade
It was a great job to have, close to the action. I greeted hundreds of Heatwave-goers, WMNF lovers and musicians. 

Beloved staffer Linda Lu and her 60's show cohort Laurie Lu
Community spirit like this doesn't happen as often as it should, but Heatwave was rampant with it. 

This was music fan Jeff Froeschle's 10th Heatwave, and his friend Kate Gorman's first time. Jeff hobbled in at the beginning of the afternoon in the rain, and here they are at El Pasaje Plaza at 7 p.m. still going strong. 

I  recognized Katie Gertz hanging out in the Cuban Club Cantina. The 17-year-old has played alto saxophone in the Patel Conservatory's Jazz Ensemble for the last two years. I saw her perform in the Jazz Jam last week, the only female on a stage full of guys.  

Half the fun of venue hopping was the friends I ran into on the street. I passed WMNF Monday Morning Show programmer Glen Hatchell with Cody Smith of Columbus, Ohio's Two Cow Garage

Back at the Cuban Club I ran into the worn out Heatwave coordinator Dawn Dickens and husband Thomas.



The newest Oppelt and his boy parts

Every woman I know who is having a baby, or who recently gave birth, is having a boy. 

Lorrie & her boy 

As Lorrie DiDomenico put it, they all wanted "cute and snuggly and precious" girls. The second-time mom has a two-and-a-half-year-old princess.

"Audrey has this detailed book logging conception to birth and this time I only have the ultrasound pics." 

But once she found out about her forthcoming boy, she did get excited, and added that her partner Dan is "happy to have an ally in this house of girls." 
Jenn Oppelt & me comparing tummies

Jennifer Oppelt already has Alchemy, and is "a lot less worried" with the second pregnancy than she was with the first. 

She's about midway through, and looks forward to a water birth at Breath of Life. "There's no option there for epidurals," she said, and first-time moms might have "a lot of fear around lack of narcotics." But first time mom-to-be Heidi Kurpiela Bardi ain't scared. 

Her due date is less than a month away, and she's also chosen the au naturel path. 
Heidi with cabbage  
Heidi, a writer with two sisters and no brothers figured a baby girl would just be more familiar. But the tomboy remembered back to her days as a camp counselor and how she got along much better with the boys. 

"All the adventures I planned to take with my daughter," Heidi recently wrote me, "I can absolutely take with my son." 

Cristina with Henry & Carter (or is it Carter & Henry?)
Not to be outdone, Cristina and Dave had two boys. They're first time parents and desperately want music for their offspring that's as hip as they are. (I've recommended Pancake Mountain. Any more suggestions for them?) 

And not to leave out furry babies, Kim Finn Weaver recently adopted Dusty from Hillsborough Animal Services on Faulkenberg Road. 

According to Kim:
Last year they had 22,000 animals in their care (down from 36,000 in prior years). The shelter has had significant budget cuts over the past 3 years and now relies on 85-115 volunteers per week to help with grooming and exercising of the animals, etc. 
Dusty has a home!
Kim & Bear
The good boy, estimated to be two years old, came home with kennel cough and a prescription to heal it, so he'll be better soon.  

Then he'll get to meet his new brother, 9-year-old Bear, also a rescued dog. 

Happy Mom's Day!


Happy Mothering at Alpha House

Tonja Brickhouse and mother Mary Holmes-Graves
Decades ago an unwed, pregnant teen was sent out of the state to have her child and then forced to give the baby up for adoption. Upon her return home, the childless mother "Cried and cried. She was unable to get over it," said Tonja Brickhouse, vice president of the 
Alpha House's Board of Directors. 

Tampa's Alpha House was started in 1981 to provide "safe housing, education and counseling, parenting and life skills training, vocational assistance, and spiritual support to pregnant or parenting women," according to its website. 

Brickhouse was speaking at their annual fundraiser, the New Lives Breakfast, held Friday morning. 400 hundred community members gathered in support.  
Executive Director Pat Langford with donor Machelle Maner 
Though the Alpha House is celebrating its 30th anniversary, Executive Director Pat Langford said the organization is still working on becoming a household name. "We're the only licensed maternal home in Hillsborough County," she said. "We're not a shelter, but a program." 

The Alpha House takes in homeless pregnant women and mothers, including girls under 18 in foster care who often have their children taken away from them and placed into another foster home. "We're the support, guidance and structure missing from their lives," said Langford. 

Brickhouse, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and current public servant, said the teen's aunt felt her deep sorrow and went against the wishes of her parents to support her. She successfully helped her niece get the child back before the adoption process was finalized. That teen was Brickhouse's mother. 

Alpha's first E.D. Sister Rosalie Hennessey

In 2010, Alpha House took in 110 women but had to turn away 100 more, because, according to Langford, "Some weren't interested in being helped. Some are on the waiting list." 

Currently the Alpha House provides safe housing and services for 39 women and their children. 
Loren Craig, a victim of domestic violence, is one of them. She's lived at the Alpha House for a year and a half with her son Reid, and shared their story during the New Lives Breakfast. 

Unable to support herself during and after her pregnancy, she left for good when her partner's abuse didn't stop. "I became homeless in 15 seconds," Craig said. 

Craig recently graduated from an administrative assistance program at Brewster Tech, and is working and saving for her own apartment. 

To learn more, visit their semimonthly Lunch & Learn sessions, or visit their website to find other ways you can help


Shrek the Musical

Some of you may remember that I work a couple of times a year as an audio describer at the Straz Center, where I basically do a live play-by-play of Broadway musicals for patrons with visual impairments. Gone are the days when they needed someone to whisper in their ear about what was happening onstage.

I'm not normally a cheerleader for pop culture but I loved Shrek the Musical. The big, lime green ogre shows us the consequences of judging a book by its cover, and teaches us to accept ourselves for who we are not what we aspire to be, and that "beautiful ain't always pretty."

I watched the show last night and took notes, and during Saturday's matinee I'll be part of the two-woman audio description team working the show.



Amy Royale is a slim, artsy 26-year-old senior at the University of South Florida. When she wears cutoffs you can see the lissome lines of her most recent tattoo billowing over her right calf and shin.

"I look like I have a normal, thin body," she said. "You can't tell with my clothes on." 

So to tell her story she bares all. A double major in psychology and studio art for photography, this week Amy has her first solo show revealing the truth as she knows it: from the perspective of a formerly morbidly obese young woman who felt like she never fit into this world.  

"I used to be so heavy, I couldn't ride roller coasters or fit in booths at restaurants."

Nearly 300 pounds before weight loss surgery, now all that remains from her heavier days is the skin that used to hold all of her in. 

Not only did people look at her differently when she was obese, but Amy said they now look at her differently when they find out she was formerly obese. 

"I felt bad about making myself better," she said, explaining that her art stemmed out of wanting to confront those who would judge her. "This is my body, and it may not be ideal." 

She described the project as very therapeutic.  "My confidence has changed," Amy said, "but mostly because of the work." 

She's also changing her eating habits, though she says it's difficult because she has always been a picky eater. But she wants to travel and be open to trying all kinds of ethnic foods, so her real work continues. 

Her show, however, is up for one week only. Visit USF's Centre Gallery (MSC 2700) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday - Friday. 

And meet the artist at the closing reception Friday, May 6 from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.