Dear Father Time,

At the risk of sounding like a teenager, I hate you, you ruined my life.

 

I’ve been good all these years.  I’ve held it together, figuratively and physically, but, today my baby girl, the one whose fingers and toes I swear I first counted minutes ago, turns fifteen, and so I say to you: WTF, dude?

 

I used to roll my eyes at those old people who talked about the good old days, who longed for a simper time with an extra spoonful of all the prerequisite clichés, but now, Father T, I catch myself laughing at my kids’ panic attacks over their 10% iPhone battery life, explaining to two dumbfounded faces about this thing called pen and paper and how, when I was their age (I must incorporate a pause to allow for their horror imagining me as their age) my friends and I used to actually write notes to each other and not text.  I must incorporate another pause to allow for their lengthy gasps at the thought of not having an iPhone. This message somehow leads the conversation towards these things called cassette tapes, and even, good God, how, if you had a question about any old thing, you’d have to wait and go look it up later in the Encyclopedia Britannica and, no, child, for the hundredth time, there was no such thing as Google when I was your age.  At that point the children give me that incredulous look of disbelief and pity and remote misunderstanding, and I realize: I’ve been officially placed on the old people’s team.

 

I still wanna believe I’m sorta hip.  I’ve got the spiky short bleached blonde hair.  I tweet.  I listen to Katy Perry roar.  Often.

But having a daughter turn fifteen isn’t doing me any favors age-wise.

For starters, my ass started to grow.

Just like that.

Like a piece of gum left out on a park bench, it spread.  The tummy didn’t want to get left behind I guess, so it grew too.  My pride looked the other way as my petite pant size got bigger and bigger and bigger, until, damnit who cares.  One just has to be comfortable.

And there’s the bread issue.

Good God, I can ease off sugar, sweets, whole milk, wine even, but, bread? I can’t seem to part from the stuff.

 

It all goes back to my daughter, turning fifteen years old today.

I am thrilled to have a fifteen-year old, really.

I don’t miss the diapers, the toddler meltdowns, or even the cute elementary-school hand-painted flowerpots.  I like witnessing whom my daughter is becoming, even if it involves a lot of wrestling with her mother.

A lot of arguing.

A heavy dollop of drama.

A ton of bread eating.

It’s all good for the soul, even if there are days it requires crusty, hearty bread that makes your bum grow.

 

You with the older daughters, stop shaking your heads.  I know you are mumbling, “oh just wait…” I don’t want to hear it.  Not today.  Not when I am crash-landing on the fact that my baby is already a fifteen-year old young lady.  On a good day, when the moon isn’t full, the algebra workload is manageable, and the planets are aligned just right, I may even get a hug, or better yet, an “I love you” from said girl.  It’s happened.  And when it does, it’s quite a wonderful thing.  Worth capturing on video, uploading on You Tube or even posting it on a blog.  Because even though I may have earned the right to dole out clichés, she may grow up but she’ll always be my baby, I’m still cool that way.  Take that, Father Time.

 

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1 (305) Beckham

 

America has enough reason to hate South Florida right now.

For starters, it’s gonna be 86° and sunny today.

While the rest of the country is buried in snow, we are buried in, well, humid air.

Which can wreak havoc on stick-straight flat-ironed hair.

Poofs up like a puffer fish in seconds flat.

 

The plows that drive around here arrive early in the morning and are used to pack down the fine sand that’s been messed up from lackadaisical rounds of beach volleyball, tired tanned joggers who drag their feet, or lazy folk like myself sprawled out on beach towels, occasionally rolling towards the left or towards the right.  You know how annoying an uneven clump of sand can get on your lower back after a couple of hours of sunbathing?

 

I understand the lack of sympathy, the growing resentment and sense of unfairness that most likely brews amongst fellow Americans in almost every other state.  I mean, it snowed in Dallas yesterday!  Texans are always friendly and even they seemed fed up on the evening news.

 

And now there’s this:

David Beckham, in all his tattooed glory, has announced he will be making Miami his new home.

Beckham.

You know the one.

The same one who ran around shamelessly in his undies in that H&M commercial during the Super Bowl?  Women used their cocktail napkins to quietly dry the drool while men pushed away their third beer and sucked the gut in, just a bit.

Beckham.

The professional soccer player turned model turned millionaire turned Midas?

He’s got that pretty Posh Spice for a wife and the adorable kids?

With the smile that charms whether in a Gucci suit or a pair of cotton briefs?

You know the one.

It seems Beckham has his sights on turning Miami into an international soccer haven.  It doesn’t really matter that this was tried before and flopped.  Or that it’s not quite clear with what funds or exactly where a stadium will be built.

Or even that the team has no name or no start date.

It’s David Beckham behind the project and that seems to be enough.

Over here in South Florida we are beside ourselves.  To the point that Beckham was a bit manhandled at a meet-and-greet with young soccer fans in an inner city park.  Had to fix The Hair.  People were scaling fences to catch a glimpse.  Beckham was dashed out of there in a hurry only to be stuck in South Florida’s infamous traffic.  Eventually he made it safely to South Beach where he was repeatedly photographed viewing upscale luxury properties.  Would he go for the penthouse apartment with wrap-around glass balcony overlooking the Atlantic or the 7-bedroom mansion with bay views of the Miami skyline?

These are the problems consuming Miami right now.

 

So yes, we may seem rather lucky today.  We get the demigod and the sunshine.

 

But remember, South Florida does have some things working against it, I promise.

Zillions of sites out there reinforce the thought.

Just Google “Crazy Things In South Florida” and you will see for yourself.

And books!  There are entire books written on the topic!  I am writing a book of my own right now so I know how much effort it takes- how your life gets zapped into that process, how you forget to feed children or bathe or interact with other human beings because of your book.  How absorbing it is.

So I take my hat off to those who’ve given themselves up to that cause on behalf of Florida weirdness.

There’s tons of material.

We may have swaying palm trees, but we have loads of weird crap.

Take solace in knowing this:  whenever something crazy happens, there is always a Florida connection.

Always.

We can’t help ourselves that way.

So, yes, you might not feel your extremities at the moment, but at least you’ve got your scruples.

Morals.

Dignity.

Ours got blurry a long time ago in between shots of dangerously sweetened coladas.  There’s the man accused of attacking his girlfriend with a banana, the Breaking Bad contest winner arrested for running an underground drug distribution operation, and the Mike Tyson wanna-be who bit his neighbor’s ear off over a cigarette.  Just to name a few.

We’ve been known to lose our way.

The heat will make you zany like that.

 

 

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Dear Heroin,

Everyone is talking about you ad nauseam these days.

First, it’s been all those batches in the Northeast laced with the ultra-potent painkiller, fentanyl, that has been sending fresh-faced kids to the pearly gates way before their time.  I saw footage of boys with barely enough peach fuzz to get them into manhood stagger through shock and tears as they buried one of their own.

And then Philip Seymour Hoffman fell prey to your charms.

We still don’t know much.

Rumors fly.

Was he really found with a needle dangling from his forearm?

Were there actually 70 bags of heroin in his apartment?

Is it true that he was supposed to take his three kids out that day and a friend discovered his body while checking up on him, trying to figure out why a father who was always there for his children, suddenly wasn’t?

 

It was all because of you, dearest Heroin.

 

I saw my dentist yesterday.

He was annoyed by the constant coverage of PSH’s death.

As it played on one of the morning talk shows from a television that hung casually in the corner of the exam room (a vain attempt at distraction:  no, you are not getting your teeth painfully drilled, you are safely watching Good Morning America at home with a cup of Joe!) my dentist sighed, rolled his eyes and complained:

 

“If they talk about that man one more time, I swear…”

 

I felt ire course through me as I lay in that plastic-coated turquoise chair.

 

“Who is he?” Gloria, the dental hygienist asked.

 

Gloria, I could forgive.  Gloria was from the Dominican Republic.  A single mom struggling to raise two children in the fast-paced life of the United States.  If Gloria needed some down time to catch a good flick, she’d most likely given that up years ago in favor of sleep.

 

The dentist, on the other hand…

 

“He’s some actor,” he clarified for Gloria.

My head bopped back and forth between them as if I were watching Nadal against Djokovic, if Rafael and Novak played the U.S. Open with saliva ejectors and cherry-flavored polish crusted on the corners of their mouths.

“Idiot.  Drug-addict.  Killed himself on heroin,” he mumbled on.

And with that, my dentist was callously done with Philip Seymour Hoffman.  He leaned in towards my shocked face, and poked my back molar with his explorer.

 

I wanted to shout in protest.

“No!  You are so wrong!  No!  Do not remember him like that!”

 

I turned to look at Gloria.  She had moved on from the topic as well.  I wanted to inform her the world had just lost a giant talent, one of the most iconic actors of our time, certainly the greatest of my generation.

My dentist is younger than me, by far younger, still fresh-faced and newly minted from dental school.  He is following in his dad’s dental footsteps, his dad, who has been my dentist for twenty years.  Junior has the same goofy charm as Senior and hopefully good enough skill as a dentist, but he certainly is in the dark about the cinematic loss we’ve just incurred.

Perhaps if I give him some generational context, I find myself wondering.  And then I am stuck beyond that.  “It’s like if James Franco died?  Emma Watson?  Zac Efron?”

 

There’s really no actor to encapsulate the vitality, strength, and sheer size of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talent that I can come up with at that moment.

The back of my thighs have grown sweaty and my thoughts return to you.

Heroin, you have done this.

You have taken this actor away from us, those that admired and appreciated him, and those who should start to.

You have left three kids waiting to be picked up by their dad.

 

I know I am glamorizing you, giving you yet another stage, but I am only doing it because I am saddened by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing and upset this young dentist has condensed him to a heroin addict and nothing else.  He was way more than addicted to you, even if you are what killed him in the end.

 

“Are you all right?”  Gloria asks, noticing a shift in my usually amiable demeanor.

I snap back.  Nod.  Attempt to smile but the saliva ejector pops out.  I feel I cannot even begin to explain or enlighten these two.  Plus, the drill is nearby.

 

Gloria shoves the ejector back in and I am grateful a frown is what holds it in place.

 

I realize PSH chose to shoot up.  Knew the risks.  He was not a dumb man, by any means; I know this by the depth and complexity of the roles he chose to play.

Difficult characters.  Flawed.  Struggling.   Much like, one can now infer, he was.

 

The dentist has now got my tongue in his left hand.  He places a tiny piece of cloth over the tip when he secures it, roughly twisting my tongue to the left and then to the right.  As he does this, his gloved right hand plunges deep into the frenulum, feeling for lumps and bumps that should not be there.

I am taken aback.  It is like an unexpected strip search in an unexpected area and I am feeling rather vulnerable right now.

 

“You look perfect,” Dr. Junior announces, ripping the gloves off in one swift motion, taking a last glance at the TV and walking out of my life for the next six months.

 

The talk show ladies are discussing the difficulties of pulling off a successful Winter Olympics in Sochi.  It seems, they giggle, sipping their Cabernet Sauvignon at 9:15 in the morning, that hotels have enough beds but no functioning Internet.

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Will someone please parent up?

 

Dear Mr. Adidas,

I am writing you to address the ongoing issue of Justin Bieber.

No one made me do it.

Well, maybe a teeny tiny nudge from my rabbi, who impersonated Justin for Purim several years ago, right down to lip-synching his songs, and never fully recovered.  In his defense, he has a daughter.

You can’t kick Bieber Fever just like that, you know.

After the latest Bieber blunders, my rabbi wrote a very respectable letter to you, which, in turn, inspired me to jot down my thoughts and send them your way.  Maybe if you receive enough correspondence you’ll stop and listen.

 

By the grace of G-d, my family has never been infected with Bieber Fever even though I am in possession of a teenage girl of my own.  Rock salt sprinkled in the corners of her room seems to be the trick.  That and a healthy obsession with lowbrow, politically correct teenage television shows.   Apparently, adolescent angst is deftly delivered in ASL and it’s okay to make-out with your sister when she’s a foster sibling.  No amount of rock salt has spared me from that.

 

Mr. Adidas, when I was a teen I used to wear your shoes.  My best friend wore a t-shirt with your brand scrawled all over it.  Sure, we had a code for what each letter spelled out when looked at backward (“Sex All Day Is Delightful Always,” in case you slept through the eighties), but really, other than that, we were pretty responsible and extremely underpaid sponsors of your brand, who at that point, were pretty clueless about sex, I might add.

Now look at Justin.

Come on.

Just take a look-see.

The baby face with the mop hair and cutesy purple jacket is long gone.

Replaced by some dude peeing in buckets, spitting on fans, romping around brothels in Brazil, and cursing out Bill Clinton, which, for precision sake, is about twenty years too late.  I mean, Monica Lewinsky is middle-aged now!

And then there’s this latest escapade, his drag race in Miami Beach in a rental car.  A very expensive rental car.  Hey, wait, is Justin even old enough to rent a car?  And why doesn’t Budget ever offer me a Lamborghini? I’ll take one in red.

 

I have to wonder these issues because I live in South Florida and Justin’s smug smile, so Orange is the New Black, still seems to be newsworthy enough for the local news, which recently included a twenty-minute interview of a mom who took her two tweens to spend an all-nighter outside Orchid House, where rare Bieber sightings had been reported (did someone say he’d been spotted washing dishes?)  Sadly, after waiting eight hours in Florida cold, the mother, a sensible, responsible lady with limits, forced the children to leave so they wouldn’t be, in her words, “too late for school.” I’m figuring at that point Justin had already jetted off to Panama.

I think a volcano erupted somewhere in the world and I know Americans are getting fingers amputated at record rates because of whatever front arrived after the Polar Vortex, but I missed it.  Local producers deemed this more significant.

So please, Mr. Adidas.  Please pull the plug on this disaster.

Cut the crap and cut the funds.

I get it that this is a tough sell.  The kid makes a ton of money for you.  Plus there’s real polished folk like Steve Tyler supporting his crazy antics.  And, it seems the DIU and drag racing charges may have been dropped.  Miami certainly doesn’t want to be the bad cop.

Will someone please parent up?

There a tons of tweens and teens that adore Justin.  The more crazy crap he gets away with, and, is even praised for, the more confused a message we give.

So, what do you say?  Be the mom that sends this kid back to school or a hole in Canada or, say, an all-inclusive rehab in sunny Palm Springs so the rest of us can continue worrying about real things, like say, is Jennifer Aniston pregnant? (Wait, wait, I think it’s true this time!)

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Chris Christie’s 2-Hour Apology Does Not Stop South Florida Writer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2014
Plantation, FL – The buzz around “Bridgegate” yesterday was topped by Chris Christie’s marathon apology, gripping the nation and gluing Americans to their television and online news outlets. However enticing, the political drama did not distract blogger Alona Martinez from launching her new site, alonamartinez.com. Alona Martinez, a third-culture-kid who grew up in Venezuela and went on to live in New York, Israel, and Mexico, has called Florida her home for the past twenty years and has been blogging about food since 2006 on Culinarycompulsion.com. Her work has been featured in The Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, and The Oregonian.
In a culinary stage saturated with celebrity status, it is refreshing to read Alona’s approachable writing and enjoy her down-to-earth every day observations on life. Her writing has been described as “informative while being familial” (Amy Stern, VP of Bender Hammerling Group), “sizzling” (Lynn Seldon, travel writer), and “rich with imagery and flavor” (Tara Mataraza, author of Choosing Sides: Classic and New Accompaniments for Any Meal and Almost Meatless.)
Then, of course, there is the added bonus of delectable and easy-to-follow recipes derived from her multi-cultural background that she includes in every post.
Mrs. Martinez announces on her new site that she is currently working on her first book and invites her followers to chime in on her publishing process, once again, drawing readers in and encouraging the accessible nature that characterizes her style.

For more information on Alona Martinez, please visit http://www.alonamartinez.com or send a tweet @culinarycomplsn
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2014: Cue the Polar Vortex

Hello!

2014 has arrived and with it these crazy cold temperatures with a fancy name!  No, the Polar Vortex is not a new menthol light extra slim ladies’ cigarette or a frozen drink you have too many of and end up karaoking Heart’s “What About Love” standing on top of the bar.  I feel 80′s hair coming on.

No, the Polar Vortex has frozen most of the U.S., hopefully gotten you indoors, snuggled with cozy slippers and a steaming mug of hot cocoa (extra marshmallows, please!) perusing the Internet, and somehow, gratefully, reaching me!

Welcome!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a writer based in South Florida (it is cold for us here, too, although I won’t reveal specific temperatures, you’ll either hate me or call me a wimp, or both.)  I’ve been writing about food on my blog, Culinary Compulsion, since 2006, take a peek- it’s that link over there under my picture… Fun and tasty stuff.  And easy.  I’m a low-maintanance gal through and through:  short hair, lip gloss, Crocs.  You get it.  The cooking is the same.  But I’m a bit of a food snob, if you’re okay with that.  Which is code for I like stuff to taste good.  So, it’s a match made in heaven, really- low maintenance food snobs are great friends to have around, especially if we give out recipes, which I do!  I promise it’s all good. Deliriously wonderful.  Give it a try, let me know what you think.

For the past eight months I’ve been working on my first book.  Yes!  A book!  Juicy, fabulous stuff!  I’m on edit #2 zillion.  Almost done.  Really, truly.  The good news is that I’ve re-read it so many times during my editing process and each time I like it more and more!  So I hope you will too!  Then it’s off to getting it published.  Here’s the kicker and I’m putting it out there for all of you to chime in on:  self-publish or go the traditional route?  I’m wondering out loud.  I go back and forth on this one, you see.  Lots of pros and cons wherever you look.

Thoughts?  Insight?  Let me know!  I would love to hear!

 

 

 

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