It isn’t often I think of “Hello” as a creepy word. It’s actually undefined and a bit unoriginal, something you say to that co-worker you always pass in the halls at work but whose name you can never remember. Or a word you use to title an email that you can’t sum up in a sentence. But the way I saw it written Saturday night was definitely creep-tastic.

It was scrawled in red marker on the passenger-side window of my friend’s SUV. We noticed it as she was dropping me off after a night out near Mall at Millenia.

“Did you write that?” she asked with what was surely a rhetorical question. It hadn’t been there before but I’ve never been one to leave cute messages in permanent marker on someone’s car as a poignant reminder that I was there. I figure the nail polish shavings that I tend to chip off and leave all over the seat and floor mats is enough.

We brushed it off that night thinking some jerk had written it on the outside while the car was parked at the restaurant. It was slightly more annoying than finding a flyer under your windshield. But the next morning as she went to clean it off she discovered that the message had, in fact, been written on the INSIDE of the vehicle and more than likely with the red marker she kept in her center console. Suddenly the Hello no longer looked like the immature prank of a drunk college freshmen but rather something that might appear in the mirror after summoning Bloody Mary. Someone had gotten into her LOCKED vehicle and done nothing more than scrawl a one-word greeting on the window, but it spoke volumes. How often do you get into your car at night and never bother checking the back seat? Even after recognizing that something was strange that night we brushed it off like lint on a blouse and didn’t think about it till the next day. It could very well have been just a harmless, yet odd prank, but it still serves as an ominous reminder to always be aware of your surroundings. You never know who has access to you.

Apparently 33% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them by February and I’m guilty as charged. I had vowed to myself that this will be the year I finally embrace social networking and open up my life to the limitless online cesspool of mundane thoughts and short-sighted opinions. I have plenty of those! In fact, I wasn’t going to just embrace social media, I was going to seize it by the neck and lift it off its feet in a triumphant display of my power over it. Grrrrrrowl!!!

Instead I’ve continued to listlessly paw at Facebook and Twitter like a fat cat with a toy mouse. Of all the things I have to do on a daily basis checking Facebook should be among the easiest! It should be as second nature as brushing my teeth or having a glass of wine. I should WANT to do these things and every once in a while I do. There are days when my alarm goes off at 1:30am and I only hit snooze for 45 minutes instead of 65 (which is why I set it so damn early). These are the mornings when I’ve actually gotten more than four hours of sleep and my mind is a razor-sharp treasure trove of witty musings (witty to me, at least). It’s easy to send these musings into the social media world because I don’t have to focus all my energy on making a thought more coherent than just, “Did Angry Birds come out with an update yet?”

But on those mornings when sleep didn’t come, or I stayed up too late playing Angry Birds, I walk into work like a half-baked zombie that overdosed on Ambien while fighting ninjas in my sleep and I feel like none of my sentences make sense (read that sentence again, it was literary gold!). When someone tries to talk to me it takes my brain a good 3.4 seconds to process what they said and I have to sit really still and stare blankly into space until I can wrap my mind around their point. It makes for a very awkward three seconds.

When you’re this tired every little task suddenly looks tantamount to hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. I end up putting things off until I’m fully awake. So I’ll ignore them for an hour and pretty soon six hours have gone by. By then I’m awake but feeling so guilty about neglecting my social networking duties for the morning that I decide I’d rather not feel guilty so I put it out of my mind and go on pretending that all is well. Soon days have passed and my mom will mention in casual conversation, “You know you have comments on your fan page.” I’ll think, Crap! I haven’t checked it! And those responsibilities come rushing at me like a Florida driver in my rear-view mirror. The guilt starts honking to get a move on it and all I can do is slow down and let it pass as I avert my eyes even though I want to give it the middle finger. That’s when I realize how dramatic and silly I’m being. It’s freakin’ Facebook! Check it already!

Incidentally this is how I handle my laundry, dishes, cleaning out the fridge, going to the dentist – pretty much any home chore or task.

(I really need to take charge of my life)

None of it gets done until Friday when I know my boyfriend is coming over. Then I explode into a cleaning ball of tornadic activity and finally, FINALLY throw out leftovers, pack the dishwasher, fold clothes and make the bed. I don’t want to scare him away from one day wanting to move in with me. He can find out my poor cleaning habits then. We’ll get along beautifully!

So it appears that I function best under pressure. So, hypothetically, if my boss tells me I better start getting on Facebook and Twitter more or face the consequences (which I think involves ropes and a pulley system with sharp nails), then that would probably prompt me to jump right on the social media bandwagon with all the enthusiasm of a Giants fan at a Patriots bar. This is all hypothetical, of course. It has nothing to do with why I’m going to start blogging more. Or why I now set up TWO Twitter accounts: @JessicaLocal6 and @JessSanchez (follow me or they’ll hurt me!).

I get lots of emails every day. I mean TONS. If emails were dollar bills I could quit my job and live comfortably. But then again, if I quit I wouldn’t be getting so many emails and I’d have to go back to work. So I guess that was a pointless comparison.

Anyway, I get TONS of emails. I’m on the email blast of just about every law enforcement division in Central Florida. I’m also somehow on the list of numerous PR companies pitching stories such as random authors releasing books in New York. Even the Mitt Romney campaign has been finding it necessary lately to send up to 10 (I’m not exaggerating here) emails a day blasting President Obama on everything from healthcare to his choice of cereal. I’m guessing that’s what the emails say. I don’t actually read them. I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat or Bradley Cooper, 10 emails a day is just plain annoying.

So I’d say I spend a good 30 minutes every day just scanning and deleting what the spam filter did not catch. But I always take the time to read the emails sent to me by the local animal shelters even though it always breaks my heart to see the sad eyes of the latest four-legged friend that is in need of a new home. But today I got a really heart-breaking email blast from Judy Sarullo with Pet Rescue By Judy. This is what it said:

“Dear friend, a family walked into the rescue the other day. The mom and children were crying. The father proceeded to tell me that they had come hoping that we could take in their dog that they had loved for the last six years. The man told me they had lost their home and were moving in with relatives. “There is no place for Rodney. If I take him to the county, they will put him down. I’m begging you! Please help me.” This is my reality. Countless animals are being surrendered or abandoned. I never dreamed the economy would stay this bad for so long. We do everything we can, but there are so many and it’s so expensive. Our vet bills are staggering ($120,000 last year). Rent is $5000 a month. We don’t have corporate sponsorship, nor do we receive any tax dollars. We depend on people like you to open your hearts, and give what you can to save these animals. Thus, as the holidays approach and you start to think about helping those in need, I am asking you to help us, your local “NO KILL” animal shelter. Any donation you give goes directly to the animals (I don’t take a salary).” – Judy Sarullo, Executive Director, Pet Rescue by Judy.

That story is one of hundreds around Central Florida as more and more shelters find their kennels at capacity. If you’d like to help Judy you can visit www.PetRescueByJudy.com.

Tubbs, the bulldog/lab puppy

Tubbs, the bulldog/lab puppy

Rango the kitten

Rango the kitten

Claudia, the Curr/hound pup

Claudia, the Curr/hound pup

 

I’m sure anyone reading this is already an excellent driver. You probably don’t really need this heads up because you’re not one of those impatient jerks whose rage compels them to ride people’s bumpers because you think everyone on the road – except you – sucks at life. But perhaps you’ll want to pass this info along to some of your friends who lack the kind of driving finesse you’ve honed over the years.

FHP has given me a list of where they’ll be watching for drivers who don’t drive as well as you do this holiday weekend. They call it their “speed enforcement detail” (whatever you do, DON’T call it a speed trap… troopers HATE that term!). Trooper Kim Montes says they have no problem giving out this information because – believe it or not – it’s not about writing the most tickets, it’s about getting people to slow down in these areas. And she’s not saying that to sound like the “good cop.” There’s really no incentive for FHP to write more tickets because they don’t get any of the proceeds, it’s just more paper work for them. So watch your speed and your aggression in the following areas during the day (I’d also say watch your drunk driving but if you’re doing that I’d rather you get caught).

Wednesday – Osceola County: 417 @ I-4
Thursday – Orange County: I-4 @ Lee Rd.
Friday – Volusia County: I-4 @ MM 108
Saturday – Brevard County: SR 528 @ I-95

In some cases you may not see the troopers, that’s because they actually clock from an airplane. Seriously. There are markers on the roads and – using a good old-fashioned stop-watch – they’ll time how long it takes for cars to get from one marker to the next. When they time a car that’s driving like it’s trying to jump an open drawbridge they’ll radio it to the troopers on the ground and BAM! Lights and sirens. The careless driver is left to ponder if he/she can still return that expensive radar detector to pay for the ticket.

Drive safely this weekend and have a happy Thanksgiving!!!

When you look at Mugsy you see an adorable Persian kitten with eyes just wide enough to make him look a little crazy. They match his personality. He likes to run around my condo like a perpetual meth addict, bounding up and down the stairs and sliding across the hardwood floor as if he’s saying in his best Mad TV Stewart impression, “Look what I can do!” He’s your average kitten. My friends complain that he behaves like an unruly child but that’s probably because I spoil him with material things to make up for the fact that I’m never home. I’m going to make a great mom one day.

Mugsy taught me last week that cats don’t always land safely on all fours. Especially when they fall 12 feet off the metal stairs and onto the wooden floor. My little Mugsy actually broke his leg! Broke it!! I quickly sprung into action by freaking out and sobbing uncontrollably while wondering what I should do. My boyfriend took it from there. We drove him to the emergency overnight vet where they grilled me like the DCF: So exactly what time did you go to bed? And when did you discover that he had “fallen”? Do you have any other cats? How is HE doing? When was the last time you fed them? Where is their father? How often do you leave them home alone? In the end I paid them $500 to tell me there’s nothing they could do, but they did take these great quality high-tech x-rays that clearly showed – in case you couldn’t tell by the way he was limping on three paws – that Mugsy broke his leg.

We took him to the surgeon as soon as they opened up the next morning. Now, let me tell you, if someone had held a gun to my head last week and demanded that I hand over $3,000 I wouldn’t have been able to do it. They’d have to shoot me. I could drain my bank account and max out all my credit cards and I STILL wouldn’t have $3,000. If anyone ever tried to steal my identity they’d end up ruining their credit. I have that kind of money in Sims Social cash but that‘s going toward a new Jacuzzi in the virtual game world I live in. It‘s nicer there. However, when the veterinarian tells me to hand over $3,000… well, I still don’t have it but I somehow manage to find it. I just won’t eat for the next two months. Until then the only thing harder to find was my car when I’d forgotten to take note of what cartoon character I’d parked under in the Universal Orlando parking lot. My boyfriend joked that $3,000 can buy TWO Alaskan Klee Kai puppies. I gave him one look and he didn’t make any more jokes that day. My dad said I should rename him Mug$y.

The hardest part about this whole ordeal, besides paying the bill, was coaxing Mug$y out of the carrier when I brought him home. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to come out, it was that he couldn’t. Literally. The cone around his head was bigger than the opening. The vet must‘ve used a shoe horn to get him in there. He kept bumping it and straining his neck, trying to bust through it like the hulk. Whenever I tried to help him he would yelp in pain. I ended up dismantling the damn thing and he came stumbling out like a drunken sailor. His leg was stitched and he was pumped full of pain killers. Charlie Sheen would’ve been jealous.

Mug$y appears to be taking it in stride… meaning he sits in his cage, with his little cone head and hopes for an Oscar in his role as the “Saddest. Cat. Ever.” He doesn’t know it but he’ll have to stay in there for TWO more months while he heals. For $3,000, damn it, he better be doing back flips when he comes out.

(this is my article that ran in the May/June issue of Orlando Style Magazine – www.StyleToMe.com)

Nobody knows more than me how expensive a wedding is. Not that I’ve ever been married, but I do have three weddings to go to this year. In the months leading up to each one there is the engagement party, the showing-of-the-dress party, the planning party, the bridal shower, the shoe-picking luncheon, the just-because-I-can party and the bachelorette party. The brides are registered for every party. I can already tell it’s going to cost me more than a month-long trip through South America. Or a two-week cruise to Europe. Or a luxury vacation in Hawaii. Or a down payment on a much-needed new car.

But I digress. Europe and Hawaii will always be there but weddings only happen once, right? Right??? And as a friend I wouldn’t want the bride and groom to be the only ones tossing their 401k’s like a bouquet on their special day. If I were a bridesmaid I’d likely have to take out a loan as well, but I was spared this year. Good thing, too. The honor of being a bridesmaid comes with the biggest cost of all: your sanity.

Really a bridesmaid’s main responsibility is to not take things personally. This is very important. The bride-to-be will be under a lot of stress. She will be planning the entire wedding by herself because 1) everyone else is a moron, and 2) no one else wants to be around her when she‘s like this. A bridesmaid must also muster up enough enthusiasm to spend every Saturday afternoon shopping for dresses. This typically begins about two months before the bride is even engaged (she likely found out about the ring during one of those times she was going through her boyfriend‘s phone).

Brides LOVE to dress shop. They will spend hours thumbing through catalogs and browsing through stores like a squirrel in search of the perfect nut. They will gush about mermaid cuts and A-lines with all the angst of a love-sick teenager. “I almost DIED when I saw it! It cost as much as that home in Isleworth we were looking to buy but I knew when I put it on (dramatic sigh) it was meant for me.” And since she’s spending a lot of money on a dress she’ll keep for the rest of her life in an acid-free storage box somewhere in the garage… she’ll expect her bridesmaids to do the same.

Once a bridesmaid gets through the dress-picking process she can relax. Haha, just kidding! Among other things there’s cake to taste, napkins to pick, and songs to listen to (because the traditional “Here Comes The Bride” is too cliché for a wedding like this!) And in addition to all that, the bridesmaid must spend the next year growing out her hair so it can be twisted, pinned and glued into the same stylish bun as the other six bridesmaids because… All. Bridesmaids. Must. Look. Alike. Period. It doesn’t matter if pale pink doesn’t go with your skin tone, or if purple eye shadow gives you the Tammy Faye look, or if your body simply wasn’t meant to fit into a tube top dress. The wedding pictures will be ruined if someone so much as wears a different type of heel!

When the big day finally arrives there will be at least one or two bridesmaids who will finally get the chance to sit back and relax with a glass of wine as they watch a movie at home because the bride stopped talking to them three months ago after a disagreement over the color of the bobby pins.

If you look at the history of a bridesmaid I bet you’ll find that the concept started as a form of punishment during the Renaissance Era for women who committed heinous acts of violence.

I think it’s safe to say that these are some rough times. Between unemployment, droughts, fires, wars, migraines, etc. etc. we’ve faced endless economic and natural disasters, but none have been more devastating than the NFL lockout. It is an outrage when a nation can stand by and let dozens of professional football players suffer silently as they face the possibility of having to live below a seven-figure salary. If this continues it will be a sad, sad day in American history. How will you explain to your grandkids that for several months an entire nation turned their backs on a group of people who’s only crime was wanting to make an extra few billion dollars?

My dad forwarded me the email below. I don’t know who wrote it but it is a poignant reminder of the important things in life. I know it’s not Christmas time but it’s never too early to think about giving.

OK folks, here is your chance to really help those in need!! I hope you will
do your part!  I’m hoping I can count on you!

Hundreds of Professional Football players in our very own nation are going to be locked out and deprived of their life-giving pay for several months, possibly longer, as a result of the upcoming lockout situation.

But you can help! For only $27,080 a month, about $902.75 a day (that’s less than the cost of a large screen projection TV) you can help an NFL player remain economically viable during his time of need. This contribution by no means solves the problem as it barely covers the annual minimum salary, but it’s a start, and every little bit will help!

Although $900 may not seem like a lot of money to you, to a football player
it could mean the difference between spending the lockout golfing in Florida
or on a Mediterranean cruise. For you, nine hundred dollars is nothing more
than a month’s rent, a mortgage payment, or a month of medical insurance,
but to a football player, $900 will partially replace his daily salary.

Your commitment of less than $900 a day will enable a player to buy that
home entertainment center, trade in the year-old Lexus for a new Ferrari, or
enjoy a weekend in Rio .

HOW WILL I KNOW I’M HELPING?

Each month, you will receive a complete financial report on the player you sponsor. Detailed information about his stocks, bonds, 401(k), real estate, and other investment holdings will be mailed to your home. Plus, upon signing up for this program, you will receive an unsigned photo of the player lounging during the lockout on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean (for a signed photo, please include an additional $150). Put the photo on your refrigerator to remind you of other peoples’ suffering.

HOW WILL HE KNOW I’M HELPING?

Your NFL player will be told that he has a “special friend” who just wants to help in a time of need. Although the player won’t know your name, he will be able to make collect calls to your home via a special operator in case additional funds are needed for unforeseen expenses.

Remember, a lifestyle is a horrible thing to waste…

I admit, I am a horribly compulsive buyer. I am the type of customer that keeps stores like Walmart in business. I’ll go in to buy bread and milk and walk out with an ironing board and a spice rack that spins (because my spices just sit in the cupboard, motionless). So when my boyfriend said he wanted to make a “pit stop” at Best Buy this past weekend to pick up a $20 controller for the Wii I contemplated just waiting in the car. Those kind of stores are particularly dangerous because they sell gadgets I didn’t even know exsisted but wonder how I ever lived without. Wireless adapters, external hard drives, laptop covers, a Jurassic 5 CD (a CD? Really?). All of this stuff I was able to talk myself out of buying. I was proud.

Then we walked by the TV section.

It was like the bright lights of Heaven reached out and hugged me in a cozy embrace of HD colors and digital clarity. The TV I have at home is about eight years old and was given to me two years ago by a co-worker who was going to throw it out. It’s one of those TVs where you have to be sitting directly in the middle at the correct eye level to actually see anything on the screen. But not these ones. These TVs you could see from Mars! I’ve never been all that electronic-savvy but at that moment I vowed to never again argue with my boyfriend about the difference between 55 inches and 65 inches. I mean, ten inches is quite a difference (and not just a $2,500 difference)!

Since then I’ve spent my days scanning the internet and fantasizing about big screen TVs, reading all about important TV stuff like 1080p, Linksticks, input-whats-its, and ultra contrast plus mega enhancing diagonally dynamic design displays that come with HZ-HDMI-802.44a/b/k/n connections.

“But you don’t NEED a big TV,” says producer Michelle making an irritatingly rational point, adding that it goes against my goal of being more fiscally responsible this year (technically, I already failed that goal in South Beach). But her levelheaded advice was drowned out by the guys from the production department. Men have an uncanny sixth sense for electronic talk. All you have to do is think about a gadget with a plug and they come running with a memorized list of pros, cons and options, using their own experience in purchasing electronics as their expertise.

By the time they were done showing me, in arm length, the difference between 55 inches and 65 inches then dividing that by the distance between my couch and said TV, minus the space in between the coffee table and the cat bed, not to mention the clear motion rate is 120Hz… well, I’d be a fool NOT to spend thousands of dollars on a big-screen TV!! Especially since it’s going on a credit card that I plan to pay off with my social security checks. To men this makes perfect sense.

Right now the TV is sitting in my electronic shopping cart waiting to be checked out. It may end up just sitting there because during my more lucid moments I remind myself that I don’t really watch TV. But then again, I did just get a Wii. And how am I supposed to enjoy the artistic integrity of Resident Evil 4 on an old 42 incher?

Has anyone ever come back from a weekend in South Beach, Miami and NOT felt financially violated? We only spent one night there last weekend but the four-hour drive back to Orlando was a quiet and reflective time for everyone in the car; we reeked of fiscal irresponsibility. It was a far cry from the energized group of girls who – only 24 hours before – were driving down to Miami with all the childlike wonder of 3rd graders on their way to Disneyworld (okay, more like teenagers whose parents were out of town).

The problem was that our annual incomes weren’t equivalent to that of a second-round draft pick for the NBA. The minute we drove over the bridge and passed Star Island I think our E-pass was immediately charged an 18% gratuity, and that was only the beginning of the hidden-fee game that South Beach has perfected. There’s an automatic 18% tip for valet, for ordering food, for carrying your own bags to the room, for asking for directions, for hailing a taxi, for getting in the taxi, for getting out of the taxi, for not taking a taxi. We took comfort in knowing we got a great deal on a nice hotel, but after the overnight parking tax, the room tax, the energy tax, the pool-towel tax, the tourist tax, and an optional no-rape tax (this last one is a good investment) it came out to about $46,347 for the night.

Have you ever tried to get into a club in South Beach? It’s like trying to win a beauty pageant by bribing the judges. From what I gather, the correct way to pull this off is to form a thick cluster outside the red velvet ropes and continually crane your neck over the crowd to see if there is actually a door and if someone other than the staff is walking through it. Then you slowly, but firmly push your way to the front and plead your case to the bouncer. Some good lines are, “I’m a modeling agent here with some of my clients.” Or, “I played the son of the uncle in Soprano.” Or, “I’ll pay you a hundred dollars if you let me come into your club and allow me to pay no less than $35 for each drink while I mingle with people who who’ve read more designer labels than newspapers.” We considered trying to pass off Cortney Hall’s sister as Naomi Campbell.

When we finally got inside we realized the crowd waiting outside was actually bigger than the crowd inside, but when all was said and done it was naturally a night we won’t soon forget. Our bank accounts won’t let us. It was definitely a good reminder of why South Beach, while beautiful almost any time of the year, is only affordable once a year. If that.

I have asked many people what used to sit on the vacant lot across the street from the Orange County courthouse and apparently for as long as anyone can remember “there was like some warehouse or something, maybe a railroad track? I’m not sure.” The five-acre lot was always hidden behind a tall fence and everyone just assumed it was a grassy wasteland from which Leonard Padilla would emerge whenever he heard a camera rolling. But from what I gather, back in the 80’s it was a popular place to stop and throw up when you were stumbling home from a club called “Electric Avenue.” It’s kind of ironic because here we are, almost 30 years later, and I know plenty of viewers who want to throw up every time they look at it now.

It is actually a privately-owned plot of commercial land worth roughly $9 million and – much like Casey Anthony circa Aug. 2008 – it was rarely given a second glance, let alone a second thought. But now this empty lot on the cusp of downtown Orlando is considered primo real estate. At least to the media. And only for about two months. Then it can go back on the market where it can promptly go into foreclosure (btw, this would be a GREAT place to feed the homeless downtown. I’m just saying.).

Click here for more photos
Click here for more photos

To see the lot now is to see the media in all its unbiased (ahem) glory. Click on the photo and you’ll see some of the pictures I took. It is on its way to becoming a thriving village of satellite trucks, portable offices and makeshift platforms. Four or five giant generators have been brought in to power edit bays, laptops, studio lights and Nancy Grace’s blow dryer. Every local station and national network has basically constructed their own mobile newsroom. One unnamed network is said to have spent more than $120,000 on their set-up! And soon there will be a hive of reporters, photographers and producers working like bees, buzzing around the biggest trial since O.J. Simpson. I bet growing up Casey Anthony never thought in her wildest dreams she’d be more infamous than O.J.

Click here for more photos

THIS is the beginning phase of Casey Town. Newsrooms will probably come to refer to it as the “Casey Bureau.” Viewers will come to know it as “Are They Seriously STILL Talking About The Trial?!” This will be the epicenter for one of the most-followed murder cases in history and all eyes will be on the Orange County courthouse. I hope Disney doesn’t get jealous. The case reads like a John Grisham novel and people want to see how it ends.

I know, I know, it’s a costly and time-consuming trial for a woman who – just four years ago – did not even exist in the minds of most people. And while some people rail against the media coverage, scoff at the amount of air time the trial is given and leave angry tirades on our Facebook pages asking why we don’t have anything better to report… Casey Anthony continues to be the most-viewed story, every day, on Clickorlando.com. I’ve often wondered who’s watching it if everyone claims they’re sick of watching it?

So if you plan to leave me an irate comment about the over-sensationalizing of Casey Anthony, first let me know who threatened you with bodily harm if you didn’t click on a blog titled “Casey Town.”

(The station wants me to remind you that you can see more photos here: http://www.clickorlando.com/slideshow/news/27951604/detail.html?qs=1;s=1;p=news&dm=ss&tn=b)

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