She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…

uhaul to fort lauderdale

Tampa was the 4th city I had lived in since leaving Indiana for Georgia in 1994 and I loved it. Never thought I would actually leave but it was about a week after New Years in 2003, my lease was up at the end of the month, I had no money and hated my job. The home I had created for myself was now a dead end. I worked from 4 pm until midnight, would go home and drink a bottle of Blackstone, pass out around 3 am and sleep until noon before doing it all over again. Once realizing my dream of becoming a high paid flight attendant on private jets was squashed, depression had set in and I had no idea what I was going to do. Then the phone rang!

‘Froggie’ needed 2 girls to come and help him in Vegas for a big convention and was hoping me and friend could go. The pay was $300 a day for 7 days. We were staying in a suite at the Venetian Hotel and taking a private jet to get there. As soon as we hung up, I cried. That was a lot of money, money I needed to move into a more affordable place and VEGAS, really??????? At 30 years old, besides the European adventure I just experienced, I had only been to maybe 5 other places other than Indiana my whole life. My shifts were covered at work, one of my closest friends agreed to come and 3 days later, we were in my car on our way to his mansion in Fort Lauderdale.

The drive there was so much fun! Typically it takes about 4 hours to drive from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale but somehow, it took us 8. After walking down the extremely long hallway to the other wing of his home, he handed us each a zanax and told us to sit tight until he returned. We were like 2 kids whose parents had left them alone for the first time. The room was huge and beautifully decorated with a giant bathroom and a bed we kept jumping up and down on while sipping wine and blasting music.

Around 8 am the next day we made our way to the kitchen to find some breakfast and didn’t see him until around 11, he was not an early riser. This was crazy, 2 months ago I had no idea private jets even existed before I worked on one and now here I am, as a guest. Our flight attendant was tall, around 50 and really friendly. Her and I bonded on the 5 hour flight which I thought was cool, but never imagined it would amount to anything. She mentioned how she was giving up her job to get back with her husband and move to Seattle after which I told her my story of how I ended up as a passenger on that jet. As we departed the plane, she waved goodbye and said we’ll see you in 7 days!!!!

Our suite had cathedral ceilings, a gym, giant living room, 10 person dining table and 2, very big bedrooms. The job was simple, we attended the conference during the day with him, taking notes, running errands, setting up meetings, easy stuff and we never began the day before 10 or 11 am. To be honest, after a few days, it was hard to tell what time it was. The Venetian hotel painted a good portion of their ceilings with blue skies and white, fluffy clouds so you would swear it was always day time. There were so many restaurants, bars and shops to choose from, you never had to leave. It was an Italian themed hotel equipped with real Gondolas that sailed through the Grand Canal floating beneath bridges, past cafes and under balconies as your gondolier serenaded you.

One night Froggie needed the suite to himself so he loaned us one of his body guards, a limo and gave us $1000 cash to disappear. We left the hotel, had dinner and drinks, saw a topless cabaret and still had a few hundred bucks leftover once we returned to the hotel so each of us took a bill and gambled. I was at the craps table, wasted, happy as a clam and yelling ‘mama needs a new pair of shoes’ as I tossed the dice across the table. That last part was a bit fuzzy, but I do remember losing every penny and not caring at all. In this trip and so mant others there are so many crazy things that happened, but I’ll save the good stuff for when I actually get paid to write.

On the flight home, everyone decided to sleep it off but not me, I had so much energy flowing that I was like a chatty cathy with our flight attendant. She and I sat in the back of the plane, sipping wine and talking the whole way back to Florida and just as we were about to land, she gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The jet company she worked for in Fort Laudeedale needed to hire someone to replace her and if I was interested, she would put in a good word for me and see what happened. Plus, the giant house she rented on a canal had 3 bedrooms and really cheap rent so I could just take over her lease as well. Now, I lived in Tampa, the job was in Fort Lauderdale which meant I would need to move across the state on a whim hoping they would give me a shot and what if I was terrible at it and got fired? Then I would be stuck in Fort Lauderdale without a job and alone. I could always waitress and bartend again, not ideal, but it paid the bills. Besides, this wasn’t the first time I packed up and moved on a moment’s notice. There was nothing left for me in Tampa professionally; it had been 5 great years and I made some amazing friends who I’m still in touch with today, but it was time for a change, so I said OK!

I picked up every shift I could at the restaurant and started saying my goodbyes. With my friends it was easy, I knew they would visit, but there were 2 special people in my life I knew I would never see again, Ronnie the bum who lived in a shed behind the restaurant and Rose, my elderly neighbor and friend who I took care of.

Rose was ok with it; she was elderly and had lost many people close to her in life. Ronnie on the other hand was devastated. He was such a kind man who liked being a bum. He would work odd jobs sweeping parking lots or cleaning up trash for the local establishments. I would bring him leftover food after work and we would just sit and talk for hours. His shed was nice too, the owners of the business didn’t use it so as long as he was out of site during working hours, he could stay there for free. I drove the moving van with my dog in the front seat and my car hitched to the back over to his place to say goodbye. As I drove away, he held on to the door chasing after me begging me not to go, I almost took him with me but thought better of it.

It broke my heart to leave him; I cried the entire 2.5 hours drive to Alligator Alley. My poor puppy, once again we were on the move and mom was a mess. As I neared the end of the alley and started to see the bright lights of my new city slowly appear, I looked into my rear view mirror as if to take one last look and at that very moment, heard a large sound, like a door slamming shut on my past! To this day, that noise, whatever it was, made everything ok and then all of a sudden; I couldn’t wait for the next chapter.

I broke all the rules in Amsterdam….

Before I tell you about all the badness that happened in Amsterdam, it’s important for you to know that although I completely ignored the pilot’s repetitive order “NOT TO HANG OUT WITH THE CLIENTS”, this is not something that happens with my clients often, if at all. This was my first and maybe only time in Europe and I was taking full advantage! There was a chance they could find out and probably never hire me again, but I had to go for it and I’m so glad I did. You’ll find out why later, this won’t be the last time you hear about Froggie.

After he slipped me the note with the invite, I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough. One of the many great things about being crew on private jets is the airport service. Once the passengers exit, my job is to clean the interior, deflate the airbeds if needed, donate leftover food to the airport staff and take inventory for provisioning, among other things. While that’s going on, the rental car is pulled right up to the baggage exit door, our bags are nicely placed into the trunk with keys happily waiting in the ignition.

But this time our hotel was located near everything so the FBO called us a taxi, no rental needed. Our cabbie pulled up, stuffed the 3 of us in the backseat and drove off like a mad man. I wasn’t sure we were going to make it out of that vehicle alive. It’s been 15 ½ years since that day, but I will never forget the fear when he drove off the main road and onto the train tracks, like he was being chased by the law. The pilots were big guys so we were packed in the back like sardines, which for me was great; they were like two padded cushions to soften the blow if one of those trains hit us. It may have only lasted about 45 seconds, but it seemed like minutes as the 3 of us kept quiet, but held on. I’m sure the guy was laughing as he looked in the rear view to see the whites of our eyes light up the inside of the car. Then all of a sudden, we were at our hotel, apparently that was completely normal. The drivers know the train schedules so they take shortcuts on the tracks when they can.

I’m not going to lie, I was super excited about hanging out with them, but I was even more excited that I was about to sit in a smoke shop and legally burn. It had been a while since my sleepless ‘party’ weekends and I partook here and there when she was around, but only because I was too scared to buy it for myself. I sped down the hall, threw my bags in the room, found the Concierge and was quickly sent on my way to the nearest ‘Green House Lounge’.

It was so freeing, (I think that’s the emotion I’m looking for), to be allowed to just enjoy yourself without being judged. I had about an hour to chill before it was time to head back and get ready when a local struck up a conversation. He asked me why I was in Amsterdam and as I told my story….it hit me, like a ton of imaginary bricks.

This was all really happening and to me! A week ago I was struggling to afford gas and now I’m making $300 a day while traveling Europe, I started to cry, tears of joy mostly but also because it was very overwhelming. The 2 of us sat under a mural of Bob Marley, sipping coffee and exchanging stories. I learned that you are allowed to purchase some to go but you are only allowed to smoke at home, in a hotel and smoke shops, anywhere else, like outdoors, is considered rude. So up to the counter I went to buy myself a little stash before skipping back to my room to get dressed.

As I entered the cab in front of my hotel, the driver assured me that no train track driving would be necessary, my destination was just up the road. This ride was great and slow so I was able to get a good look at the architecture, the local’s sense of style, how different the street lights were, all of it. What really stood out to me though was how it was the first week of November and the streets were filled with people in winter coats, all riding bicycles. It seemed like every single person in town was outside, just living…..The streets were packed and you couldn’t help but notice them politely kiss each other 3 times on the cheeks to say hello, one more than the French.

It was around 9 pm when I arrived and the party had been well underway. There was a drink in my hand before I could blink an eye and of course a nice selection of Amsterdam’s finest. The atmosphere in the room was contagious as we all chatted away while dancing on the balcony which overlooked the city. Once the smoke filled room cleared and the mini bar was empty, it was time to head towards our first destination, ‘A live sex show’, ”excuse me, a what?” Let’s just say I giggled through the entire thing as the couple tried to put on an erotic performance while their red velvet, round bed kept spinning in circles. Seriously though, it was funny, but by no means did I think anyone would have been turned on by it, but you never know.

Our next stop was the Red Light District, now this place I had heard of and it was pretty cool. Ladies safely marketed themselves in small rooms with a tall glass window so you can see them from head to toe. Many of girls wore different outfits with themes like cowgirl or bad teacher, it was all very professional. If she was unavailable, her curtain would be closed and reopened when ready. If any of the suitors were out of hand, there was a panic button to push for safety. We didn’t stay long, just took a slow stroll along the street filled with red street lights, kind of felt like window shopping, but different!

After that he treated us to a very late dinner at a fancy restaurant. There were bottomless bottles of red wine magically poured into our giant glasses, plates of appetizers were passed around, by the time my steak arrived, there was no room for more, but I ate every last bite anyway. That was back before I quit meat cold turkey for 4 years and when I was a ball of energy, naturally, all the time, so my metabolism would burn it off.

It had to have been 4 am when I hit the bed and with nothing to do the next day, I slept in a bit. After fully recovering it was time to rent a bike and ride like the locals, no matter how cold it was. Then after an early dinner at an outdoor café sipping tea and people watching, it was time for bed. We had a long flight back to Miami the next morning and I needed my rest. The flight home was a success with all of us acting as if we hadn’t seen each other the entire time and to my knowledge, the pilots never caught on.

2 days after landing, reality set in as I put my waitress uniform back on and headed to my dead end job. The restaurant was corporate so we were only allowed 4 tables a shift, which made it hard to build up tips. Even though waiting tables and making terrible money wasn’t where I had imaged my life at 30, I was good at it and could easily handle 8 tables with my eyes closed. The thought of finding a better job though and having to memorize new menus and start from the bottom again was worse than just staying where I was.

As my regulars drilled me on the details, I bragged about how well I did and that they would be calling any day now to hire me again. That was in early November, by mid January, my high hopes had sunk. Maybe the pilots did know about me hanging out with the clients, maybe the client called and said bad things about me, what was it, why weren’t they calling?????? It was driving me crazy!!!! My lease was up the end of February, my apartment was too expensive and I hadn’t even begun looking for a new place.

Then I received the call of a lifetime, the one that changed everything and you’ll never guess who was on the other line……ribbett?????

(the pictures above are me in Nice first the morning after the big go kart fiasco and the other 2 are Amsterdam, one with me and the bicycle I rented) (oh and used my cell camera to take a photo of those photos, lol, so quality is actually spot on, the photos are old)

Drunk Go Kartng in Cannes France…

The very thought of what was about to happen would only be one you would read about in a book or see in a movie, but it happened and it was the first of so many more, all over the world…..for years!
In my mind, I didn’t comprehend any of it! Rushing your passport so you can take the wealthy across the ocean on a private jet and now waiting for your car to arrive, with a driver….in Nice France, who does that? I was 30, it was 2002 and I had never been out of the Country before and maybe had visited 5 states

in the US.

My driver was amazing. He was French, had a full head of silver grayish hair, a thin scarf and a suit. It was obvious that I hadn’t had many drivers so he thought it would be nice for us to take the scenic route. Our conversation was incredible and he would chime in from time to time to make sure that I saw this historical building or that famous monument, it was a dream.

When he asked me about my schooling, I was a bit embarrassed. I had to drop out of college my senior year, move home and attend Indiana University NW, which was an extension near my hometown. But then I decided to follow my college sweetheart to Georgia and then to chase another boyfriend to Orlando, so I never quite finished. Once I started heading south though, I was in and out of colleges trying to somehow earn enough credits to one day graduate.

For whatever reason I blurted all of that out! Laurent pulled over, turned around, paused for a moment and said, “You’re in the School of Life now, those credits mean nothing here”. He winked, turned the corner and in we went to a real live Boulangerie to have a café and a French pastry with his long time friend who owned the bakery.

As we hugged goodbye, I jokingly said “I promise to write about you in my book one day”, I teared up a bit and I think he did too.

The wonder and awe of the drive quickly faded as I turned around to see masses of people getting into giant luxury busses and I was supposed to meet the client in all if that, with no cell phone, or as they say in Europe, ‘mobile’.

Panic set in as I can hear Mom in my head worried because I was in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language and had no phone….. I’m tough right, or at least I told myself that as I cruised past the people heading towards the entrance and then there he was, easy peasy. Froggie handed me a T-shirt to wear with company information on it while explaining to me why I was there as we boarded one of the busses. Turns out he sponsored the whole event for hundreds of people and we were headed to the best part of the day.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. He rented a huge indoor go kart track where the food and endless bottles of wine were all chilling on huge beds of ice decorated with shellfish, sushi, appetizers, the works. Wait, so why am I hear again….to help he said and while you’re doing that, eat and drink as much as you like while riding super fast go karts all night for free! Now I practically grew up in an arcade walking distance where I grew up in Merrillville Indiana and we never played anything for free, I was in heaven.

When I say super fast, I mean those babies could fly and everyone was ramming into each other. He t-boned my kart hard on a curve and I swear my neck snapped. I was mad and although I wasn’t the fighting drunk anymore, I was competitive and he would pay for that. 3 glasses of wine later and I was Richard Petty on a mission, I got him too, swear I heard his neck snap.

It had to be about midnight and there were a handful of us left cleaning up and saying good night, including the boss. The establishment owner called us a cab and then insisted we wait outside as he needed to close up for the night. The first car showed up which seemed like hours later and only had room for everyone but him and I so the driver called in another for us. We were cool with that, Froggie was just telling me a story about his young daughter anyway.

When the van pulled up full of people, I was devastated. We were drunk, tired and had now been waiting a good hour for a ride and the one that showed up, had no room. Within a blink of an eye, my guide, the man who was supposed to be looking out for me, opened the door, squeezed into the back seat, threw me a $100 bill and yelled, “Call another taxi”. Call another taxi???? And go where????? I was staying in Nice, a good 40 minute drive and a $100 bill was not going to cut it, I was in Cannes France, it’s expensive there!!!!!!!!

Oh wait, there’s more!!! I had no phone, it was dark, I was alone and there were no cars to be seen ANYWHERE!! WTF?????? And then I remembered that the Captain had written down his hotel information just in case I needed it. They screamed back over the loud music that they would send another cab as I watched their taillights slowly fade down the hill. It wasn’t long before my ride came and good thing because I was fuming mad and couldn’t wait to get a hold of him.

Anyone within an ear shot of that hotel had to of heard me beat on his door while yelling his name. This went on for a good 2 minutes while his assistant, who had the adjoining room tried to brush me off through the door saying to go home. That wasn’t happening and they knew it so in I went! There were a million things I wanted to say but I was representing this jet company and really wanted them to call me again so thank goodness something grabbed a hold of me and shook me back to my senses.

He was standing as far from the door in the room as possible kind of laughing but also trying to be serious because he knew he was wrong and I was really upset. I went nose to nose and just said, “What if that was your daughter left there?” After that we sat up for hours drinking wine and getting to know each other and both promised to keep all of this from the pilots.

The next day everyone boarded the plane as we head to our 3rd stop, Amsterdam. The pilots and I greet the guests at the top of the stairs so it was crucial for me to keep it professional in order for them not to suspect a thing. Froggie kept trying to break my zone as I strolled up and down the aisle serving drinks and dinner, but I maintained. As we landed, he slyly handed me a piece of paper with his hotel address on it with a note that said, ‘party with us tonight, be there at 8…’

In one week I was paid $2100 to travel from the US, to Germany, Nice and Amsterdam!

I couldn’t believe my ears when my co worker first told me about being a Flight Attendant on private jets. Say that again, you take care of the famous and wealthy while getting paid ridiculous money flying all around the world on jets???? His girlfriend was the receptionists at the private airport in Tampa and they constantly asked her to fill in when they couldn’t find a regular Flight Attendant. They were always looking for girls with hospitality experience and he wanted to know if I was interested???? Um, YES!!!! So he gave the main pilot my number and within 2 days I was interviewed and hired. 2 problems; One, I already had a job and two, the jet was leaving for Europe 2 days before Halloween, which was about 10 days away and I didn’t have a passport.

If you’ve been reading from the beginning, you would know that I was always broke and had never been out of the US so why would I have a passport? It was 2002, I was 30 years old and I’m sure most people had a passport by then so he was a bit surprised when I revealed the news. But he was good and helped me to get one expedited for like 300 and some dollars, which l’m not lying when I tell you, was all the money I had in the bank.

This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me and once all of the anticipation had settled down, it dawned on me that I had no idea what I was doing! The pilot made it sound so easy, just serve food and drinks, not hard right….? I was in for a big surprise. It was the night before the big flight, my shifts at the restaurant were covered and of course I couldn’t sleep! What did I know about taking care of the uber wealthy…nothing that’s what.

Food for the jets was ordered in advance from catering companies who specifically handled the jet industry and they basically took care of whatever you needed, for a price of course. It could be 3 am, 6 hours before a flight and if you needed stone crab, they would make it happen. Meat would be partially cooked so that when the attendants re-heated it in the microwave, yes, the microwave! The galley on a G4 heavy jet, well at least in 2002, is small. There is very limited counter space and minimal storage. If you have 12 guests and everyone ordered a protein with 2 sides, we had to miraculously have all 12 meals out at relatively the same time and hot using a pint sized microwave to plate and heat. I could go all day on this subject, but let’s get back to my trip.

The plan was to take 4 passengers to Germany, Amsterdam and Nice all for 2 nights each. The Captain didn’t have much advice for how to handle the meals and sleeping arrangements but he was adamant about not hanging out with the clients. We are to keep the conversations short and to the point, take good care of them, keep the plane neat and tidy and did I mention, not under any circumstances do we hang out with the clients! No problem Captain, you can count on me to keep it professional.

There was the main principal, his assistant and 2 male associates, who to me, looked like body guards. All 4 of them were under 45 years old, good looking and right from the get go, ready to party. And to be honest a great first flight for me because they were all super chill and didn’t make me feel as if they were better than me or that they needed to be treated like royalty.

The first day in Germany the pilots and I walked around a bit then ate in the hotel which consisted of many types of sausages in all shapes and colors. After dinner, we hit a karaoke bar for some German beer drinking and singing embarrassment. I’m not going to lie when I tell you that Geography and international culture were not my strong suits. So imagine my surprise when I see a group of teenagers sitting at a table with beers in their hands. Drunk Carrie goes running over to ask how in the world they were allowed to be there. Turns out there wasn’t an age limit in Germany and since the kids don’t have to sneak, they don’t take advantage. This would be the first of many things I would learn about how different America is from other parts of the world.

As we were landing in Nice, the main principle, we will call him Froggie, asked for my phone number. What???? OMG, the number one rule was not to hang out with the clients and lucky for me, I didn’t have an international phone so that one was easy to get out of until he asked which hotel we were staying in. Being the professional that I was, I simply told him that we were not allowed to fraternize with the guests so have a great trip and we will see you in 2 days.

As I settled into my awesome hotel room in Nice France while trying not to overheat with excitement, the hotel phone rings. It was my Captain who proceeded to tell me that Froggie had called to ask him if he could borrow me for the evening to help out with a corporate party he was throwing in Cannes. There would be a car arriving in an hour to take me on my 45 minute journey and then returning me back to my hotel that night. Like clockwork, he repeated over and over that this is work, there will be no drinking and no hanging out with him, I was just there to assist and then go home. ‘You have my word Captain and thank you for the opportunity.’

After I hung up there was probably about 5 minutes of me jumping up and down while doing the happy dance in my room. How cool was I, a car would be arriving soon, with my own driver to take me to the place that I’d only seen on TV for the film festival and all the super yachts!!!!!

What happened that night and the next 2 nights in Amsterdam would change the course of my life and I had no idea yet how much…oh and the ‘no hanging out rule’, hah….what no hanging out rule??????

I grabbed the cordless phone to dial 911, but Blue Eyes tackled it out of my hand…

When they called me into the office to let me go from Auto Trader, I was completely blindsided. I slept in late, forgot to turn in clients ads, wore short skirts and clothing that wasn’t appropriate for work, but as far as I could tell, I was doing great. Me now at 45 looks at me from my teens until I was about 40 and I have no idea who that person was.

I took the news with grace and held the lump down in the throat until I heard the ‘dink dink’ of my car alarm. I was ATT for 5 years, what did I do???? That was one of those jobs you don’t quit, even my manager said that in his 25 years with them, no one ever quit a union job. Here I am in a car I can’t afford, no money in the bank, stacks of credit card bills, my lease was about up and my roommate was moving out. They fired me after 1 month….wow! Here I was about 27 years old making ok money for Florida’s inflated prices but always hanging on by a string, it was exhausting.

My already nonexistent self esteem had just hit rock bottom when my cell phone started singing. We had been on exactly 5 dates in the 2 weeks since I had stopped by his auto warehouse to see if he wanted to run any ads. He was super funny, successful, cuter as I got to know him and definitely attentive but at no point did I ever think it would go anywhere. As soon as I answered, he knew something was wrong, that’s just how he was, and it was one of his best traits. I rushed to his house and within minutes of my arrival, he invited me and my doggie to come and live with him. Live in his giant 4 bedroom house with a pool for me and a yard for my puppy dog…why would I say no?

When I broke the news to my friends, they were weary, but not surprised that I said yes, I was a free spirit and went with the moment, there weren’t any marriage papers or documents holding me there, so why not? He was super sweet, what could go wrong?

The first 6 months were actually pretty awesome. We moved my living room furniture into one of the bedrooms that weren’t occupied and my bedroom furniture into the other one. Travis had a brand new dog bed loaded with toys chillin next to the sofa and we were living there for free. He was the first man, other than my college boyfriend, that I had ever lived with, but this time, it was much more grown up. His neighborhood was exclusive, but also in a part of South Florida that was mainly residential, which didn’t help when it came to finding work.

As luck would have it, Bonefish Grill was opening up 5 minutes from his house and I was hired on as the lead bartender. The money was great and we were always busy. I would come home after a long shift at work to find my pajamas washed and folded sitting on my bed and a plate of food ready for me in the fridge. Blue Eyes would greet me at the door with a drink, walk me to my room, help me get my work clothes off, start the shower and once I was done, massage my feet while he served me dinner. Here was this sweet man tending to my every need and without me ever asking. Too good to be true right????????

Since he had the means, we ate out pretty regularly which always included drinks, Coors Light for him, Merlot for me. No rent, no cable, no electric, no Publix, not even laundry detergent bills, household expenses I’ve always known had now disappeared, I’d hit the lottery. The $8000 or so I had run up in credit cards had somehow escaped me, I worked just enough to pay for my cell phone, car payment, insurance, clothes and gas. At times it felt like I was living in a romantic comedy, one with a few ups and downs, but then in the end…love would prevail or at least you hope.

The first time it happened, I didn’t think twice about it. Blue Eye’s was getting a bit jealous about a guy I worked with, then he made a comment about the waiter I was apparently too friendly with after he scolded me for talking to the valet guy. Ok, this was weird, we’d been together almost 8 months and not once did we raise our voices, argue or have any insecurity. Figured it was just part of the relationship process until he flipped out in front of the whole bar because he thought I was hitting on the 80 year old man next to me. His jealousy and rage in public places was too much and all the time! It was obvious things had changed at home, I was sleeping in the other room and there was constant tension. Once again, my world was shattered and with no money to move out, rock bottom was starting to become all too familiar. It was definitely time to get out, but how?

New Year’s was approaching, I believe it was about to be 2002, a chance to try again but how when I’m stuck in Suburbia? So I picked a fight with him and stormed out of the house to go party with my usual crew for New Year’s Eve. Before I knew it, 6 am had arrived and I was still out. I knew he would be drinking all night, fuming and contemplating how he would punish me for it. It was about 7am when I snuck in and snuggled onto my sofa to pretend to sleep. The first thump wasn’t bad, the second was harder, by the 3rd, I was scared. He was standing with a Big Gulp in his hand, chomping on his gum while cursing at me, calling me names and kicking me with rage in his eyes.

‘This can’t be me’ was all I could hear in my head, if I ignored him, he would go away, but he wouldn’t go away. He then followed me from room to room leaning over my shoulder to scream in my ear. When I saw that cordless phone sitting on the counter, every muscle in my body lunged for it, and then he lunged for me as I dialed 911. We struggled for a bit as I punched in the numbers, but it was too late. Blue Eyes managed to hang it up and then mashed it against the wall. I got mad, screamed at him then ran to my room to start packing. He threw that big gulp right at my head, laughed and said,, you’re stuck here and you know it’. I’ll never know why, but I dropped to my knees, put my hands together and prayed for him while he stood in the doorway mocking me. I’d never prayed for someone like that before and haven’t since, but within minutes, the door bell rang.

You know the police shows where the women who answers the door is all beat up, in a big t-shirt with no pants on, crying about how she was just battered by her man? Well that was me, except I was standing at the front door of a gorgeous estate owned by a very successful man. Turns out the 911 call went through, my prayers were answered, and you’ll never convince me otherwise. They questioned both of us but once they saw the giant scratch on my neck, he was immediately arrested and taken out in handcuffs, for all the neighbors to see.

Wow, this was all too crazy and it was happening to me. The officers told me since all of my belongings were in his house and I had lived there more than 6 months, it was ok for me to stay as long as I wanted and there was nothing he could do about it, can you believe that? Well my mom and her best friend just happen to be flying in the next day for a week so you can bet I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. After we partied it up and mom left, there was a knock on the doorbell…it was his mother! She fkew into town to help me pack up and since Blue Eyes felt awful for the whole thing, he decided to pay the first 6 months rent in my new apartment.

I transferred to the Bonefish in Tampa, met a whole new group of really cool people but the money wasn’t that great. After almost a year of struggling, again, my roommate decided it was time to move and there was no way for me to stay in a 2 bedroom alone with my income. Again, when I’m at my lowest point, by the grace of God, a conversation I had while rolling silverware with a coworker changed my life forever….

At 19, I was fired from a Country Club for talking dirty over the golf course loud speakers….

It was a set up!!!! College was a 3 hour drive south of Mom’s in Indiana so during the summers I would stay with her in my old room and find work. She had a friend who managed a Country Club which was the only 5 star anything in N.W Indiana so he hooked me up with a job as a banquet server. It was awesome and my first time around wealthy people. We would set up the tables for lunch, serve, clean everything up and then do the same for dinner service, easy peasy.

This place was great, fun, good tips, a cool vibe and fun people to work with. Then about 2 weeks in I noticed him…..tall, slender, slicked back hair, gorgeous lips and shiny shoes, just like one of those wise guys in the movies, but fit, handsome and about 21. He walked right up to me, grabbed my hand and said, ‘come with me’. As mesmerizing as this Goodfella was, I was on the clock and wasn’t about to let some guy get me into trouble at my new job. But he was smooth, told me he was in management and that he needed my help with a member’s private porker party. Next thing you know, I’m sitting with 4 senior citizens in the men’s locker room playing cards with money they gave me to bet and winning.

All through the game, he stared right through me, it was intense, nothing I’d ever experienced before, but at 19, I was still learning about lust, passion and being intimate with boys. I could feel his gaze, I knew what he wanted and it terrified me because it was obvious he knew his way around the bedroom and I didn’t.  Over the next month there was a great deal of flirting going on at work and I could hear the chatter and gossip around us. Goodfella was a hottie, all the girls working at the club wanted him and he wanted me, I could feel the daggers piercing my back as they walked by, but didn’t care. We went on tons of dates, always to dinner then after would hang at the bars where he was a regular. No one cared how old I was, I was with him, he was the man and wow…what a dancer. I didn’t know my town could be this much fun. There was never a time I felt pressured to do anything, always a gentlemen, the whole summer.

During the last week of warm weather, it was “Company Monday”, which the club closed off to members and rented out to big corporations for golf events. We were setting up for lunch when a couple of the mean girls were joking around while singing into a microphone. Of course I joined in and as the jealous brats handed me the mic, they turned it on. Silly me thought it would be funny to imitate a 1-800 adult commercial and within seconds of my skit, my mom’s friend comes bursting through the doors, almost tackling me to get to that mic and the whole time yelling, “It’s on, it’s on”!!!!!

Turns out that microphone was connected to every single speaker covering 18 holes full of beer guzzling lawyers and their bosses. I was immediately sent home and the next day received a call saying they wouldn’t be needing me anymore. As for hottie, well, I kissed him a few more times but that was it. I think he knew I would get hurt if we let it get to far, I was going back to college and he was never going to leave that small town, that’s just how small towns work.  Goodfella was man enough to just enjoy my company without expecting anymore and then let he me go.

That wasn’t the first time I was fired for doing something stupid. Fast forward 10 years, once I was done with my ‘boogie nights’ life style in Tampa, something in me changed. AT&T was a great job, good pay, unionized and hard to get fired from, which was perfect for my party lifestyle. But those mind altering experiences helped me to realize I wasn’t going anywhere in life. Then my manager at work had us read a book called, ‘Who moved my Cheese’ which was just what I needed. AT&T was about to start laying people off and he was trying to motivate the staff to keep an eye out for other opportunities. During that same time a friend of mine, who is a wine expert and hilarious, informed me that her company, Auto Trader was hiring sales people. She loved her job, was her own boss and did pretty well so I interviewed, got hired, left my cushy desk job with AT&T after 5 years and within in one month, was let go.  I was terrible at sales and self motivation and I’m embarrassed to say, but I dressed a bit too scantily clad for the clients.

I was devastated, broke, my lease was up and I had no idea what I was going to do. No way would I back to waitressing and bartending, I couldn’t bear it. Luckily for me I had met Blue Eyes about 2 weeks before I was fired. He was one of my higher end customers, not my type at all, smoked cigarettes and was a terrible dresser but he always made me laugh so when he asked me to dinner, I said yes. Once he found out I was jobless and soon to be homeless, Blue Eyes insisted I move into his big, beautiful home and let him take care of me…so I did, after a month of dating.

There are so many stories I want to tell you, but I can’t…

So far you know that I do a lot of dumb things, I tend to take action before thinking about the consequences, I Love animals and now a days literally cry anytime I think about the furry ones who aren’t with me anymore. I’m gullible, hard working, loyal and for some reason, never know where I’m going (directionally challenged) BLESSED…BLESSED and BLESSED and Stubborn, I could go on and on….but mostly I’m passionate about everything, even things that seem so silly to others and moreover….my life has been crazy, record book crazy.

Right now I’m sitting in a hotel room in S. Florida because my awesome yacht clients like having the vessel for family at night, which is a first, but so great. I still get paid a full day, which is typically 16 hours, but this week, it’s 6, 8 hour days….yahoo!!!!

My original goal was to have a new story about my life for you each week, but being on my phone, a computer, online, all of it, well…..it’s just not me. It wasn’t until 2012 when I broke down and bought my first smart phone and it quickly turned me into that person who jumped at every ding, bell and whistle it made. So, after a few months, I notified my call list that I was now turning my green little Android (which blows away the IPhone, just my opinion B.W.W… haha) onto silent and it was the best decision of my life. Long story short, I am sorry for not delivering every Saturday morning at 7:29 my ridiculous life, but I am getting better.

So far I’ve been catching you up on my past so that you had a better idea of me, but so many amazing things have happened to me in the last few years that’s it’s time to fast forward for a bit. Like tonight, for some reason tears were flowing but I’m so happy. I was crying from my gut…the cry that you can’t control where your heart beats so fast and so slow at the same time you feel like you might die. Why? Maybe it’s the holidays which haven’t really been holidays to me for years since I’m usually working and away from anyone I love. As a matter of fact, this year was the first time Christmas week was spent with many of the people who have come to be my family in S. Florida. My friends here are my surrogate family and all of them are amazing, you know who you are and the ones who are miles and miles away….I think about you every day!!!!!

I don’t know why the sadness but I can tell you that it made me pick up this damp laptop and start writing. The New Year always seems to get the mind thinking about what you may want to leave behind and what you plan to do in the future. For instance, the 2 years just before yachting, when I had a normal 8 to 5 schedule, I started Martial Arts right before the New Year, which helped me to pretty much live a clean life, the majority of the time. Drinking, dating and going out weren’t so important anymore, I dedicated my time to work, Taido, sleeping, the gym with Eduardo (who kicked my ass with about 400 squats per class) and my dogs, my loves. At 41, I was in the best shape of my life and completely in control of my destiny, which was so far from where I had come from.

I left my day job during the 2nd year of training but within 6 months my yachting career took off and by the 1 year anniversary of being my own boss, I had to quit the dojo. Travelling kept me from away from home so much that it was impossible to keep up. So much so that 17 months ago I gave up my home of 5 years and decided to live out of my suitcase, but that’s another blog.

I’ve definitely kept up my shape but my muscles have been replaced with sugar, fat and alcohol. So for 2018 I’m not going to fool myself thinking that there will be no more fun and bad choices, but I do know that this year it’s time to stop F**king around. 46 is just around the corner and although I don’t look my age, my insides aren’t as tough as they used to be and my body, brain and all the things that keep me going are all I have so it’s time to start taking care of them.

For those of you who have been reading from the beginning, cheering me on and sharing your advice, thank you for going on this journey with me. And for the newbie’s who are probably wondering what the hell this blog is about….stick with me because my story, the whole story, is so unreal, you will swear I made it up. I just have to figure out how to write it all down so that you keep reading and I don’t lose any of my clients, ugh.

Make 2018 you’re BEST with the goal of making 2019 even better and please keep reading! I have no idea what the next story will be….maybe you can help me figure that out! Mua

Tampa Changed Everything…

It’s tough to remember the exact date, but I’m thinking it was near the end of 1998, I was 26 and had been living in Tampa for about a year drinking my face off celebrating the fact that I lived in such an amazing place. It was a long way from my home in Indiana and a huge leap from Augusta, Georgia. The sun never stops shining there and having a brand new VW Convertible made everything even sweeter. The weekends would include hitting the beach, boating or even laying in bed all day watching movies on one of the few rainy days we had. Friends were hard to come by, at least real ones. I was lucky to have 2 or 3 that I could count on but it would have been nice to have more.

You know from my past stories that a few years back while living in Orlando, I had smoked marijuana once and tried ecstasy once, which were both really great experiences, but neither held my interest. Luckily for me, I had never been addicted to anything, and to this day, that still stands, but after spending one weekend in St. Petersburg experimenting with mind altering tablets, everything changed.

My boyfriend at the time wasn’t a millionaire, but he definitely had money and he loved to spoil me with it. So after he convinced me to try those funny little pills again one weekend while beached on a sandbar, I couldn’t get enough. To this day I often wonder why, after my first experience with them I had no interest. Either way, he had the money to buy them and I was a ton of fun on them.

Now, my bestie Techie wanted nothing to do with this new crowd I was hanging with and he often tried to pull me away from them, but I was sucked in and didn’t want out. My weekends were spent awake, going from one afterhour’s party to the next, barely eating and always having a blast. If you’ve never experienced this type of party scene, it’s awesome and you will meet the most interesting people. I would be lying if I said stay away and never try it because for me, the mind altering experiences seemed to open up parts of my brain that had been closed off my whole life.  I’m not telling you to go out and get stoned; I’m also not going to tell you that all drugs are all bad. Alcohol is much worse in my mind, but everyone does it and just because it’s legal, it’s ok. You have to make up your own mind about what you want to put into your body and how you handle it makes all the difference in the world. It’s tough so sit here and tell you about the bad things I’ve done in my life, really tough, and I’m sure some of you are going to judge me and that’s ok. Most of my bad choices have helped me and for that reason alone, I’m glad I made them.

After a few months, the boyfriend and I broke up but along the way I had met tons of cool people who knew how to get more and where the parties were. Eventually I dragged my bestie into all of this nonsense, but to this day, I believe the only reason he came along was because without the safety of having my ex boyfriend with me during the craziness, he needed to be there to protect me. To be honest, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times he ever seemed high. I swear he would carry around the same beer and just fill it with water pretending that he was participating.

During all of this, my job was going well with AT&T and they had just switched my shift from 11 to 7 so I could cover the West Coast. To me this meant that I could party even longer on Sunday nights…life was great but getting very expensive! By the time I cashed my check, it was already spent on bills, a ridiculous car payment, rent that was more than I could afford and now the infamous pills I loved so much. One by one, this small group of friends starting forming, we were like the cool kids in St. Elmo’s fire but the rated D version for ‘Druggie’s’.

1509 was the club where we would all meet; dance until they kicked us out and then the search for an afterhours spot would begin where we could continue to party until dawn and then some. Eventually we all found a place we could hang every weekend, far from the masses, located on a lake and with very few neighbors. This compound was owned by a husband and wife team who love to entertain, were hot, rich, fun and knew how to throw a party!! Pretty much everyone was coupled up but I was quickly accepted into the group as one of the only single girls and trusted by all the women.

Every weekend for around 2 years, this was my home, except when we decided to take our show on the road.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how outlandish our parties were. The majority of them included costumes, DJ’s, nitris tanks with dresses, ate ups, bubbles, fantasies, balloons, feather boas, magic carpet rides, carnies, dunk tanks, lingerie, hotel rooms and so much more……you just had to be there. But overall, I met and am still friends with some of the greatest people you could know. Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Parents and Business Owner’s, all just people who want to escape from the real world and play around in Alice’s land for a while.

That’s why I mentioned earlier that people who experiment with illegal substances aren’t all bad, even the substances themselves are all bad, it’s how you use them. Unfortunately we lost a few friends along the way who didn’t know when to stop, but with anything in life, moderation is the key.  Whether you eat too much sugar and develop diabetes or drink too much alcohol and crash your car, we are all human and allowed to make mistakes. Have fun and enjoy life, just try not to hurt yourself or anyone along the way.

Even though my Boogie Nights lifestyle only lasted 2 years, I have no regrets, not one! Well, I do have one, I neglected my doggie, Mr. Travis, even typing this right now, it brings tears to my eyes, but I made it up to him after I was done. For the last half of his life he lived like a King. Losing a few friends along the way also breaks my heart, my friend Noel, the sweetest soul with the biggest smile, somehow got too wrapped up in all the madness and lost his life; I think about him often and wish he was still here.

In the end, I walked away a better person, they don’t call them mind altering drugs for no reason, those pills unlocked the deep, dark sadness that had plagued me all those years and helped me to see who I really was, which was someone who needed to grow up and change for the better.

Eventually our group disbanded and most of us went our separate ways but I bet that majority of us have nothing but good thoughts about our time at Camp Pico and are happy to say that we dared to be different!! Maybe one day I will give you all of the juicy details of the after hours life, but for now just know that those days of experimenting with drugs are long gone and bittersweet!

Don’t give up on me, I’m still learning…

For almost 4 months I’ve been sharing my deepest and darkest past in order to give my readers a good idea of who I am. It’s important to know that I’ve worked hard, struggled, took jobs with low pay to get my foot in the door and clawed my way to happiness to get here.

The plan all along for this blog was to show women my age, 45, that no matter where you came from, if you try, you can change the course of your life…as many times as you want. Right now, I’m in route to change mine again, so this blog may suffer a bit, but, promise, what I’m experiencing now will make for a great read later.

Saturday mornings, tune in, don’t give up on me if the material goes astray…I’m still learning, experiementing and growing… see you next weekend and THANK YOU SO MUCH….muah! I can’t wait to share my travels with you…

The first time M.J. and I hung out…

Ok Mom and Dad, this is where you should probably stop reading and skip over the next few episodes of my life in Tampa.  Now I wasn’t completely naive when it came to marijuana, it was always around, I mean everywhere. Especially college, but for whatever reason, I never tried it. Ok, well, that’s not entirely true….let’s rewind a bit.

Back in Orlando we had these young neighbors who loved to smoke it. They lived right across the hall from us and every time they opened the door, a cloud of smoke would fill the hallway. Growing up a tom boy, I seemed to always have that token male friend in every city I moved to and in Orlando, there was Jeff.  He was awesome and a big pot head but he knew I had no interest in it so he never once pressured me to try it.  One afternoon we were on our way to see Beavis and Butthead the movie and as we were heading out, we bumped into our hippie neighbors. They smelled like a weed farm and of course Jeff was all over that. They invited us in to have a quick smoke before the movie which I was against fearing the long arm of the law would surely bust us for just being in the room. Once that group of veteran smokers found out that I was 23 and had never been high, it was all over.

Although it was early afternoon, the room was dark with various scarves draped over the windows. Monty Python was playing silently on the TV with the Door’s in the background secretly setting the mood. I had literally walked into a marijuana layer filled with all types of gadgets to get you high. There were hookahs, one hitters, joints, bongs and pipes of all different shapes and sizes with several kinds of pot to choose from. It’s as if they knew I was coming and had set the scene perfectly. I remember trying to smoke a cigarette years back and after many attempts, there was no way I could get that smoke in my lungs so I was quick to let them know that their pot was wasted on me as I had no idea how to inhale. But they were relentless and with my good friend Jeff by my side, I felt it was safe, so I gave in.

First they handed me a small glass pipe where you had to put your finger over a hole and suck in as hard as you can.  So I did and like I told them, it didn’t work. Now we all saw the plume of smoke come flying out of my mouth but I was sure that it had never made it to my lungs, so we waited a few minutes to see how I felt.  Next was the hookah which looked like a tall genie lamp with 4 long, skinny tubes connected to the top.  This was much easier to smoke so I hit it a few times, waited and again, no effect.  Everyone just stared at me waiting for the buzz to kick in as I sat there innocently thinking that nothing was going to happen, but oh how wrong I was!! Feeling defeated in their quest to de-virginize me, I was handed a J, which I felt at ease with so away I puffed and puffed and puffed!!!

By this time we had missed the first showing of the movie so there was no rush to leave just yet, the next one was a good hour away which was plenty of time for me to experience the magnitude of what I had just done. The novelty of the newbie had worn off so the group had broken up into various conversations while I sat in a chair wondering why everyone room was moving in slow motion. As I waved my hand back and forth in front of my face it dawned on me that it was moving at a snail’s pace meant that I could actually be high. Recalling the next 30 minutes is tough but the last thing I remember was me on the floor in tears with about 7 people, pointing and laughing in my direction. It was hysterical and to be honest, there was no particular reason for the laughter, but I couldn’t stop, it was fun.

We thanked our new friends as we headed out the door. It was still day time so the light helped to snap me out of it….for the moment. We rushed to the theater but it was packed which meant we had to separate and sit alone. At this point I felt just fine and figured the best part of the buzz was behind me until the movie started. In between laughing until my face hurt and continuously feeling like the person next to me could smell the pot and at any moment would turn me into the police, it was as great day. The funny thing is, as much as I liked it, there was not one moment after where I ever thought about trying it again. Drinking was my baby, not smoking, so it would be at least 2 years before Mary Jane would enter my life again.

So this brings us back to Darren, my wealthy boyfriend in Clearwater who decided it was time to introduce me to the underground, which was about to change everything…

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