When Life Gives You Lemons Have Chocolate Cake (Plus a Few Glasses of Wine)

We had no idea what to expect that night and frankly I was getting a little nervous. The GPS said we were just two miles away however the neighborhood was looking sketchy—at least not the kind of place my Jewish grandma would have deemed safe for her little bubala to be wandering.

I was the one who planned the outing in Jacksonville, Florida, 80 miles away from our home turf of Flagler Beach. I had assured my friend Tim that I had done my homework and that The Three Layers Coffee House was going to be a great place to sell our books. The only problem was my estimates were based solely on an email conversation with the manager and a few fancy website images that promised whipped cream topped chocolate cakes (I’m a sucker for cake).

We pulled up to the one story brick café and parked. Little tables lined the side of the building and funky Jazz streamed out the open door.

It looked friendly enough, but how could we know this was going to be the place for us?

Tim and I looked at each other with weary glances.

“Once we go in we can’t back out, ” Tim said.

I just looked at him, unsure.

“I guess we just have to go for it.” I said

And with that we stepped out of the car and headed in. A number of people sat about the well lit room, sipping their espresso cups, nibbling on treats as they enjoyed the band.

three layers

Upon arrival we were directed to the wine bar, a separate room in the back, dark and cozy, where a small area had been designated for us.

Behind the bar stood a woman with an air of casual comfort, her red hair pulled back into a pony tail. She welcomed us and introduced herself as Amy, the manager of the aptly named “Amy’s Wine House”


After hauling an automobile’s weight in boxes and supplies, we laid out our table cloth, set up our wares and followed the routine set up. And so, with our table looking lovely we waited for the crowds to pour in.

And we waited.

And waited.

Two glasses down and our only potential customer was a drunken looking fellow who left as quick as he came and two young women who appeared to not even notice our elaborate set up.

And so Tim and I had soup… desserts… a little more wine… and nothing.

Not only did we not sell a single book, no one even came by to look at them.

Now, had we been in the wrong mindset, this could have been one crappy evening. Rearranging schedules, spending gas money and time…it was a set up for complete and utter frustration.

However, not once did we look at each other with disappointment. In fact, quite the opposite. We were relaxed and happy, savoring good wine, casual conversation in a funky, new setting. Sure we weren’t selling books, but we both chose to make it a good time anyhow.

With no other customers that night Amy, our barista had plenty of time to chat with us. Amy’s knowledge of Beatles trivia appeared (to this Beatles rookie anyway) to rival Tim’s own, and Tim, impressed with Amy’s music knowledge promised to air one of Amy’s pick songs on his radio show (Surf 97. FM).


We left that night with a new friend, some left over of chocolate cake and a reminder that even though things may not go as planned, they can still go wonderfully.

Writing Tips From Sesame Street

For today’s blog entry I’d like to feature one of the greatest shows ever: Sesame Street.

We all have our days when we feel like we suck.

I had one of those yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that!). I’ve been spending a lot of time in my head trying to get a book written. There’s a long way to go.  As the book sits alone tucked away amidst the bits and bytes of my computer, I get no feedback. No one but my own critical eye to saying things like,”And you call your self an author?” “Can I suggest a new occupation?”

Last night I went to the Inspired Mic, a great little open mic gig in Flagler Beach and as I listened to all these talented folk, each with one or two books under their belt, I thought, “Shit. There are a bazillion authors out there, a lot of them pretty good. Whatever I produce will be just a droplet in a sea of literary pandemonium.

“What’s the point?” I think.

But just as I was in the midst of banging my head on the proverbial piano (watch that video, it’s really dead on),  my friends started coming up to me and complimenting me on the story that I read. I realized I don’t suck. I’ve got something good. I need to keep writing, in spite of the literary pandemonium.

I suppose my friends are sort of like Kermit the Frog. Like the troubled song writer in the end I realize that things aren’t so bad. Our Kermits can get us out of our funk and give us some good ideas.

So next time you’re working on a project and you feel like bashing your head on the keyboard, listen to the Kermits in your life, relax, and let them help you come up with a Jazzy new tune.

Looking for Friends in all the Wrong Places


I live in a small town. But its not quite what you think.

Flagler beach, Florida is a lazy beach town bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. We’re on a barrier Island which means if you want to go to the real world you have to cross a bridge—something many of us try to avoid.

When my family got here three years ago, we had no idea what to expect. We were quite literally basing our move off a series of Google searches. The photos of the beach looked nice, the schools were decent, so we came.

I’ll be the first to admit, Flagler beach is not your typical Florida tourist town. In fact, when I arrived I was a little concerned. The town felt—dare a say—a little scuzzy? A little raw? If Flagler Beach were a person it would be a road weary biker dude, worn, tired but happy. If you met him in a bar you might be a bit apprehensive at first, but ultimately he’d be the kind of guy you’d want to sit by for the night because the stories he had to tell. That’s Flagler Beach.

I remember when I got here I desperately missed my friends from Madison, Wisconsin. The upper middle class stay-at-home moms that I hung with were nowhere to be seen. I kept saying to my husband “Where are my people?”

They were here, but I was looking in the wrong places.

Last night my husband and I went to our friend, David Karner’s movie premier in Daytona Beach about thirty minutes from Flagler. The attendees that night were mostly from our town.  As small towns go, there was plenty of sitcom worthy conflict and tension in the air, but we put it all aside to support an amazing guy.

The movie was wonderful, we clapped wildly, and as the crowd cheered, sending their love forward I looked to the group and felt a warmth welling in me.

These are my people, I thought.

Writers, artists, musicians, movie makers, entrepreneurs, free spirits. No, they weren’t moms with mini vans, whose lives revolve around t-ball practice. They were people a varying ages and backgrounds, with a passion for creating…and yes a love for one and other.

Those Google searches I did three years ago could have never captured what I’ve found in this quirky town. And now as my life intersects and weaves together with this marvelous, energized group of people I am reminded:

I’ve found my people.

I am home.