The Orange Chair

Back when I lived there, I would have my hair cut at Orange Salon. I got to be friends with my hairstylist and she’s one of the few people with whom I keep in touch. Recently, I made my way up there for a checkup with my former doctor and stopped by for a haircut. She greeted me at the door with the news that she’d sold her business and was relocating to be near family in South Florida. I couldn’t be happier for her and I’m glad that I got my last haircut there last month, before the changeover to the new ownership. Au revior, Orange Salon. You were my beautifully-hued therapist’s office!


Well, I had to return to see a former doctor because it’s easier than getting set up with a new specialist in my new location.  Everything was fine for the first hours, but then, after my interaction with the doctor, my throat started to constrict and my heart started to beat faster. No big deal, I told myself, maybe I just need to get away from this stressful place that I associate with earlier health problems and angst.  So I went, probably unwisely, to my old place of employment, and that feeling followed me.  In addition to the people I worked with, who are lovely, I also remember the feelings of being stuck. I had complications from surgery and needed health insurance, and my last year there was a challenge because of my lingering health problems and post-surgery bills.  That felt like the walls were closing in again.

I did recover with a dinner with some great friends and getting caught up on all their news as well as sharing mine.  However, I did have one more issue- a bit of nausea (yeah, really!).

Part of me feels like I’m crazy, but then I remember that this was my life. I was trapped in a job with plenty of security but no future other than continuing to do that job. I had a long commute that made life difficult, especially with health problems that made me tired and in need of sleep. Management did not accommodate my request for working remotely, which would have made a huge impact on my budget and health. And working in that place was my only option! After 2 ruinous jobs in Ocala, I found that job in Gainesville and it was a safe place for me, finally, even though it was like a trap too.

As I drove away, the fear subsided and the tightness in my throat seems to have gone away.  I know, it sounds crazy. But that’s how that part of Florida really made me feel!

We went through some drama up in Ocala years ago when my employer’s business was suffering from shrinkage of epic proportions. I wasn’t laid off but rather chose to leave while I still had some of my wits about me. It was a dark time for me, because I owned a house and felt tied to the area, which didn’t offer much hope for me in the career department.

These days, I’ve ditched my toxic real estate and relocated. I live in a house that someone else owns and pay month to month, and thank goodness, because waves of layoffs are happening at my current job.

If things are bad here, I can only imagine how North Central Florida is faring. I’m going up to visit soon and I’ll try to get the scoop. I might see a realtor I know there and see what kind of business she has drummed up. My former hairdresser works there too, and I’ll be sure to ask her how things are now when I get my hair cut by her.

I’ll be visiting my old job in Gainesville, which might make for some interesting conversations since I left for a bigger paycheck and now, 5 months later, could lose my job any day. Ah well. You have to have a sense of humor about these things, right?

I get emails from recruiters still, and while these jobs may be short-lived, at least they are there.

This recession really stinks, huh? No matter where you live!

Twice in my life I’ve had a not-so-fun time at Disney World, which is supposed to be the happiest place on earth.


Once in high school, one of my friends moved to Orlando. She was one of the purest, sweetest girls at school, but she didn’t have much of an edge to her. She was sunshine and butterflies all over the place.  


I’m not sure why, but when she moved she decided to get more into religion, as if she wasn’t good enough, after she moved to Orlando, so when I we visited, she was ooooover the top about it. 


This made for some interesting conversation both in the car (she picked me up and took me home the next day) and all through our day at Disney.  And for the sleepover at her parents’ house. But, I know she meant well, so I didn’t pay it any mind, really.  My squeaky-clean friend was worried about her immortal soul, and I had other things to occupy my mind, like 37 crushes on boys.


She wrote me a note after my visit, thanking me for coming and inviting me back, but in the flurry of our senior year of high school, it never happened and we lost touch. 


The second un-fun trip to Disney revolved around some special occasion (someone’s birthday?) and a night at a Disney resort hotel as well as trips through the parks.  The people I went with were the only females in Ocala who were near my age, but unfortunately we didn’t have too much in common.


Two were very religious- virgins, in fact. Over 30 years old.  The third woman was more of what I consider a “normal” person, so we were better aligned and tended to pair off together.


The two religious girls weren’t the happiest of people, not even at Disney. I remember watching them dunking their feet in a pool after we’d spent a day in a park and thinking to myself, They can’t be happy here. They can’t be happy anywhere. There’s a cloud that follows them around.


I am not sure if it had to do with them being religious- studies say that it’s the opposite- but they were unusual people. It was just hard to enjoy myself there with two miserable people. 


Believe it or not, I went back a second time with the group.  It went terribly.  I can’t get into the details, but the angriest one had a bone to pick with me, and she aligned herself with another (new) girl, and it was like junior high all over again.  The cool girl and I were taken aback.  I don’t think either of us hung out with them again.  It was strange. 


It also happened to be Halloween. Scary day. A perfect day for a “frenema.”


So, I am not a good mix with holy rollers. Even at Disney. Go figure.

I once knew someone whose behavior was off the charts. She was overly dramatic, always chattering.  She talked like a woman with a true career while she struggled to take care of herself. In recent months, she’s been a repeat offender and ended up in jail for stealing and similar crimes.

Something about her behavior wasn’t right.  The last night I socialized with her, she got drunk and made a scene at the movie theatre. I vowed then and there not to go out in public with her anymore, thinking that she didn’t know how to conduct herself out among people (even among people in Ocala)!

I dropped her on Facebook after the second arrest.  I was tired of her putting on airs and then having this secret life that wasn’t honorable.  It didn’t sit well with me; I don’t hang out with jailbirds.

She called me recently and explained that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This explains some of the scatterbrained behavior, the forgetfulness, the strange behavior.  She is in some program that is helping her work off her debt to society and will hopefully end up making an honest living there. She will also have support.

She is not the only person I’ve known who went to Ocala and then needed mental health care. I knew two hoarders, one who was quite paranoid and had difficulty handling regular life. I knew someone who was addicted to painkillers and drank a lot, crippled by personal problems.  I knew someone who had serious emotional problems and could barely function due to the anger she carried inside; she liked to talk about politics and social issues with fury, never managing a civil discussion with anyone with a different view.  I knew someone who struggled with addiction to various substances, who’s used NCFL as a resting place between jobs and jail time since he has family there. I know someone (else) who went to Ocala to get over a divorce/ broken heart; her anger is still with her, as far as I know.

But I am a bit distanced from all of this, no longer living there or being in touch.

I feel like I got out of there with my wits about me (for the most part).

Dear Old Friend:

We haven’t hung out for a while.  There are lots of reasons for it, but basically I wanted to be around happy people and you weren’t happy. I saw opportunities for you to change your life, even pointed them out to you, and you acted helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t take it after a while. I hated to see you waste your life. It upset me.

Maybe drinking and taking prescription drugs is the answer, but only if the question is, “What can I do to incapacitate my body so that I don’t have to move forward in life?” Maybe reading that makes you hot under the collar and triggers your flight response.  Hey, I can understand why. But once you dig yourself out of a trench, like I have, you see things clearer and you’re not afraid to make choices anymore.  You have more energy to handle life because you’re stronger. 

I was never comfortable with being friends with someone who took drugs or drank while they were alone. That’s a rule everyone should follow. It’s a miserable way to spend your time.  Why sleep through life? Don’t you have a basically functional body? Can’t you do something with it? 

Some people remind me of those lab rats that go get the same pellet every day. The pellet keeps them sedated, but they just keep going back for more, and they don’t do anything else.

Maybe I seemed obnoxious but I couldn’t live that way. By gosh, when I talk to someone, I want them to reply to me and hold up their end of the conversation. I can’t play both roles. It is exhausting, and I learn nothing.  It’s practice for the improv, if I ever act, but beyond that it’s not good. 

My advice is to do what your mother and everyone else tells you to do. 

Straighten up.

Stop making excuses.

Make something of yourself.

Find something that gets you excited about life.

You can start small. Join a club. Get out of the house.  Just do something.

And for goodness’ sake, get of Ocala. ASAP. Transfer your work.  Or, don’t move and enhance your social life in Gainesville. There are people there who are capable of conversation.  Stop being afraid and clinging to the few people you know and trust. You’re never going to have any worthwhile lives or adventures that way.


Your friend who has left Ocala and doesn’t miss it one bit. Nope, not at all!

Someone out there has decided to take my telephone number, link it to a fictitious name, and  enter this information into various websites.  My phone has rung off the hook for the past week from telemarketers asking for this fictitious name and trying to sell services.  I even attracted the attention of some phone number that is linked to some Middle Eastern men who have threatened others with making charges to credit cards (whose information they claim to have).

I wonder who’s doing this. I have faded out of the lives of some people in Ocala and elsewhere because I didn’t want the drama, the front-row seat to their antisocial behavior fueled by prescription drugs, alcohol, and whatever else, and the BS of some people I’ve known all around.  And I think it’s my right to leave these people alone.  Clearly we don’t share values or have much in common. I can go my own way.

But I guess this sparked someone’s ire.  Well, whatever.  I can always change my phone number.  Maybe I need a fresh start anyway.

I didn’t grow up learning what the word “prideful” met, but I sure heard it a lot in Ocala. People didn’t want to be prideful. It was a bad thing. It was also a thing that nobody in the know wanted to define for me, and you can’t just go to and get the big picture of this concept. defines prideful as: “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

How you come about seeming prideful, though, is another thing.

You can be seen as prideful by stating that you have extensive experience or knowledge of a subject.  You can be prideful by thinking well of yourself, even when everyone else in town doesn’t like you. You can be prideful by having a successful career or business.

Monitoring one’s pridefulness seems contrary to the natural tendency of some to achieve their personal best. I wonder what Jesus would think about that.

My boyfriend, who grew up in the deep south and is now in recovery out West, explained some of this to me. According to him, it’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand, Southerners think that you are being punished by God if you don’t have enough money; but if you have more than enough and enjoy your life, you are prideful, and God will probably punish you for that too.  If something bad happens to a person who is seen as prideful, well, they had it coming.

When I received high marks in elementary school for taking pride in my work, I was, well, proud. I thought it was a good thing. I thought that maintaining a clean home and vehicle and self was normal, but maybe some think I’m showing off. I don’t know. It does shed some light on why I didn’t fit in there in Ocala, and I’ve got to say, I’m still perplexed by what prideful means.  And completely amazed that people go around using it as a measuring stick to judge others. Doesn’t the bible say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged?”

Having escaped the fray of Ocala, I still hear stories…

Someone I know who used to do some really risky illegal behaviors posted on Facebook that someone she knew and was no longer friends with had engaged in some other type of illegal behavior recently and got busted. You can see mug shots of all the recently arrested locals at this website:

Pot, have you met Kettle?

I should also mention that a young guy I know who used to use cocaine regularly is now training to be a police officer in Ocala. Yep.

Ah, whatever, people.

I’m selling my house, too. The statistics say, houses are selling at the highest rate in 6 years! Of course, they are selling at a high rate because they are so cheap. Even so, my best-earning years are ahead of me, and I’ve got to get out of here. Not to mention, I’d love a date.

I’ve dated a bit in Gainesville, but everyone I know who’s childless doesn’t stay there. They work somewhere for a while and then move to do something different. All of the guys I’ve dated have done that, with the exception of one who can’t take care of himself and who was looking for a meal ticket. (Not it!)

I am also tired of being cold. Yes, this bird needs to fly south, or at least out to the Gulf or the Atlantic!

B, I agree, 2013 will be great. Someone told me that 2012 would be difficult, but it would get me where I needed to be. So it has (so far!)