4 Florida Fall Moments

Hey world, whats up? I’ve been kind of getting ready for winter hibernation and this post is really going to show that. I started writing this whole essay, In Defense of Rest, but I figured I would just tell you about some Florida things I’ve done recently instead. Because 1000 words on rest, grieving, and gratitude at year’s end is just kind of tedious, right? Right. Let’s do a listicle instead. 

1. Florida State Won its Last Home Game and We Are Really Going to Have to Savor That For a While

My friend Jon texts me on Monday – hey do you want to see Third Eye Blind this Saturday? I’m like yeah sure, that sounds ridiculous, let’s do it. Jon invites me to especially random stuff, for example, we once went to a balloon glow in Atlanta for no reason at all. I drove a collective 12 hours for a 30 second tethered hot air balloon ride. Who does that? But I also experienced a cool city and fell in love with his niece and nephew. What I’m saying is, when your  friend invites you to some weird thing you’d normally never do, just do it. It’ll be fun for reasons you don’t expect.

When I got to Tallahassee on Friday, Jon’s like sorry dude, Third Eye Blind is playing RIGHT NOW. Do you want to go? I’m like no man, I just drove 4 hours to get here and I’m beat. He’s like yeah I feel that, let’s just go to the game tomorrow. We ended up binge-watching The Morning Show and now I want Apple TV and Jennifer Aniston’s luminous skin.

Do you like my “Dad hat”? That’s what Jon called it.

There is really nothing like being back at your alma mater, even if the football team is bad. Honestly I prefer it that way because now I can afford tickets. We played Alabama State University, an HBCU with a marching band that has a killer hype man.

We also saw Jojo Rabbit, and now I’m obsessed with Rainer Maria Rilke. Before I left Jon said I should get Lucky Goat, the best coffee in Tallanasty. I wasn’t going to but as I was leaving, I realized I just had have a cute Lake Ella moment. It was really fun to buy presents at Quarter Moon Imports, a store I loved and hilariously could not afford in College. 10/10 would suggest going to your college town and hitting up your favorite store with adult money.

2. Burrow Press released Bright Lights, Medium-Sized City and I read 614 Pages in a Weekend

So my other friend Alex texts me, he’s like hey, want to write something for this magazine? I’m like yeah, sure, what should I write about? He’s like, whatever you want, as long as its arts and culture and involves Central Florida. I’m like great, I can write about Bright Lights, Medium-Sized City — it is apparently THE Orlando novel. But the deadline was super close, so I literally read this PORKER in a weekend. I don’t know where you can read my piece; Alex just said it was good and asked me what I wanted my byline to be. SR50 Mag is so cool I honestly don’t even know how to access it, but they have a lot of cool promos and skate videos on their instagram.

@ Foxtail

(A lot of people were also like, hey Nicole, why did you create such a stressful situation for yourself, i.e. having to read so much during your short, precious weekend? Look dude, if I had the answer to that question I could explain away all the stupid decisions I make.)

For those who don’t know, Burrow Press is an independent publisher located right here in Orlando. I found out about BP because I ran into We Can’t Help it if We’re From Florida at Park Ave CDs.

BP also has a monthly event at Lil Indies called It’s Lit. Just kidding, it’s called Loose Lips. Authors write about the events of the past 30 days. I went to the November edition, and it made me feel feelings. Everyone who read was mad talented and it was a very chill way to spend a Tuesday night. Plus, I famously love Lil Indies. Here’s info for the December edition.

3. My Mom Made Saturday Really Wholesome and Cute

My mom and I have had a really tough year in terms of what is going on in our lives. Fortunately, we have each other and we are best friends, like Lorelai and Rory in Gilmore Girls. Except we do not have old Connecticut money and do not talk that quickly. Actually the more I think about it, the less like Gilmore Girls we are, but we are best friends. 

We had a VERY Orlando day, including the Fall Fiesta @ Lake Ella, brunch @ Maxine’s on Shine (which is not my favorite food but is definitely my favorite name), Christmas decoration shopping, yoga at Project 7, cooking dinner together (aw) and watching Dr. Thorne, because shows like that are just kind of our thing. She really wanted to help me write a blog post, so she insisted on taking pictures of everything because she is so adorable. 

4. The Grasshopper and the Ant, aka Someone Drive Me to Saint Pete

So this one is actually just an art exhibit I really want to go to but haven’t actually been to yet, mostly because after that Tallahassee drive I do not have another road trip in me.

From MFA St. Pete’s site:

A neo-Victorian, a creator of unexpected experiences, and a visionary artist who twists the familiar into the unsettling, Jennifer Angus (b. 1961) challenges our perceptions and expectations by working in an unusual medium: dried, exotic insects. Her site-specific installations often incorporate large, brilliantly-colored insects into elaborate patterns inspired by Victorian wallpaper and 19th-century book illustration – always to dramatic and startlingly beautiful effect.

Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Petersburg

Sounds really cool, right? I want to see some bug art and think about Aesop’s fable and see how this artist turns it on its head. What is the role of the artist in society, how do we view it and why? What is productivity really? And aren’t we more than that?

Rest up this winter, my friends. It’s okay to hibernate. I’ll be taking a small hiatus from posting and have some awesome guest writers lined up. You will love them.

Here’s some Rilke:

Nicole Kirby

S.A.D. Girls Club

I’m a moody girl – that’s why I have a blog, hello. We know this.

But even for me, it’s hard to be upset when you’re having a Hot Girl Summer. Florida Summer for me is Babson Park (where? I know, I know), Orlando, Cocoa Beach, Hollyweird and Miami. It’s surfing at 7am. It’s dinner with a boy on south beach. It’s drinks with my girls at the lake house. It’s bike rides on the broadwalk with my mama. Even the moodiest of girls love Florida summer, right?

poolside, as God intended

But when Summer turns to Fall, Floridians have to do something truly inexplicable. On November 3rd, we had to “fall back” an hour and lose approximately seventeen hours of daylight (kidding, but that’s what it feels like). Couple that with Mercury Retrograde and I am straight up not having a good time anymore. Floridians are not immune to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): a type of depression that corresponds to the change of season. I think our friends in the north with all that snow have it far worse, but still.

I take mental health very seriously. Learn more about symptoms and treatment of S.A.D. here. According to UF Health, symptoms include hopelessness, weight gain, increased sleep, unhappiness, sluggishness, loss of interest in work or other activities, social withdrawal, and less energy and ability to concentrate. Treatment includes eating healthy, exercise, getting enough sleep, light therapy, and medicine with a provider. Per UF Health, you should seek medical help if you think you could be suffering from SAD, have thoughts of harming yourself or others.

I was first diagnosed with depression in 2013 (though I suspect I was depressed much longer) and in my experience, it’s just like any other illness. It comes and goes and I manage it; when it feels unmanageable, I get help. Don’t be ashamed of needing extra padding every once and a while. Life can be a bumpy ride.

But as for the time change, what gives? Why do we even do this?

Well, as it turns out Floridians across the state had the same question, and our 2018 state legislature passed a law to make daylight savings permanent (finally, I agree with our legislature about something). And in March 2019, Senator Little Marco and Senator Lord Voldemort re-introduced the Sunshine Protection Act in congress, which would make daylight savings permanent year round. I’m not sure why the legislation has to encompass the entire country; I could settle for Florida, but whatever. As our neighbors in Babson Park might say, just get ‘er done (I would like to personally apologize to all twenty-three residents of Babson Park. Not only do you deal with my presence year after year, but now this). 

Are you also straight up not having a good time? Write Senator Rubio here, and write Senator Voldemort here to let them know what you think about the Sunshine Protection Act. See my template below for inspiration.

Dear Senator ________, I am straight up not having a good time. Please work on passing the Sunshine Protection Act. It’s way too dark at 6pm. Love, Your Constituent


Florida Fix: Oct 24

Your quick fix of the latest in Florida politics, law and policy. Week of Oct 24

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has hired outside counsel in his effort to maintain his suspension of Scott Israel of Broward Sheriff’s Office. The Florida Senate will decide Israel’s fate Wednesday. Gov. DeSantis suspended Israel just three days after taking office in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Parents of the victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS are highly outspoken against Israel’s return, but Israel does maintain some support from the community. An arbiter has recommended that Israel return to his post. South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • Meanwhile, Florida’s Risk Protection Court is up and running and has confiscated thousands of guns since its creation by the so-called “Red Flag” law passed in March 2018. It impacts those deemed too dangerous to have firearms. The process is initiated by law enforcement stemming from a criminal matter or Baker Act; family can also step in. Tampa Bay Times.
  • The execution of James Dailey, 73, is scheduled for Nov. 7 despite evidence of his innocence. Dailey is convicted of killing Shelly Boggio. The man who implicated Dailey, Jack Pearcy, has since sworn in an affidavit that Pearcy actually acted alone. Dailey, who has almost no history whatsoever (a “civilian conviction” for a bar fight), is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served three tours in Vietnam. The man who implicated him, Pearcy, has an extensive criminal history and was sentenced to life in prison–not the death penalty. South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • Florida’s foster kids who refuse placement would be subject to secure detention under a new proposal set forth by the Hillsborough juvenile justice advisory board. The Department of Children and Families is backing the plan to court-order kids who refuse placement into a secure detention facility for 90 days. Kids who refuse placement on average have gone through 36 placements already by the time they refuse one. There is no legislation just yet. [As a former juvenile defender, just — YIKES. Kids involved with DCF and/or the juvenile justice system have been traumatized enough; they need therapy, not jail]. Tampa Bay Times.

Wow. Pretty heavy, right?

I feel like we need a happy manatee to bring it back up.

A Manatee in the Crytal River, Florida.

What a cutie! Have a good week, folks.

Dear Orlando, You’ve Grown On Me: A Local’s Guide to the City Beautiful

Coffee:

  • Foxtail – I have yet to check out the Winter Park location but I frequent the one in The Glass District and I like the patio area on a not-so-sweltering day.
  • Lineage – Great coffee; the decor is a little too sparse for me personally but the hip kids love it and so will you, cool internet person.
  • Credo – The College Park location boasts a homey, cozy vibe, & you name your own price (there’s a whole ethic to that you can read about here).
  • Craft & Common – This one is my favorite; someone went absolutely plant and millennial pink crazy so of course I’m obsessed. The entire shop is insta-ready but it doesn’t feel pretentious (nothing in Orlando does – that’s the best part). True story: the first time I was here the Barista got a zip tie and jimmy-rigged the sagging bumper of my 2007 Honda Civic because he saw that it was dragging. What I’m saying is, there are many coffee shops in Orlando but I will die on this hill

Craft & Common creating the perfect place to rest your butt.

Plants (yes, plants, someone did ask me where I got my plants from the other day so there):

  • Palmer’s – Helpful salespeople will tell you which plants are hardest to kill (but don’t worry, you’ll still kill them).
  • The Heavy – Our local pot dealer housed in a lush, photo-friendly location that used to be a fish market! It doesn’t smell like fish, miraculously. Photos below.

Dessert

  • Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream – The line is usually out the door but it moves quickly and the seasonal flavors are always worth it.
  • Valhalla Bakery – Vegan baked goods. When you wonder whether or not you should get the cookie sandwich lookin’ thing called a YOLO – yeah bro, just do it.
  • The Backhaus – An authentic German bakery on the shores of Lake Ivanhoe.

Food

  • Tori Tori – Panasian from the minds behind Domu. Try one of everything and don’t be afraid of the hip bartenders, they’re all super nice. As of date of publication, they’re still in soft opening.
  • Osprey Tavern – ~American~. Splurgey. Located in Famously Bougie Baldwin Park, right by the lake so you can take a stroll before or after.
  • Sticky Rice – Self-described as Lao Street Food and that basically covers it; if you’re not adventurous read the descriptions in case you’re not into fermented crab. The lemongrass beef jerky is a crowd pleaser.
  • Pizza Bruno – Haven’t been personally but universally adored. Let me know when you’re going and I’ll come with. I am also eager to try the new Bagel Bruno (Foxtail/Pizza Bruno lovechild dream baby). 
  • Anna’s Polish Restaurant – After a trip to Poland I was craving pierogi and this spot did not disappoint. Serves traditional Polish dishes like pierogi and goulash, and it has a mom-and-pop vibe so you know it’s good. (Technically Winter Park, close enough). 
  • Se7en Bites – Favorite post-Church Sunday breakfast spot; this is a truly Southern comfort, biscuits-and-gravy, coma-inducing experience if you want it to be. It is always crowded but they keep it moving and there’s sweet art you can ‘gram pre- or post-feast. 
  • Briarpatch – This is technically Winter Park, also, but oh well. It is the quintessential brunch spot. The raspberry lemon cream pancakes are a hot item; ya gotta try ‘em at least once.
  • Guavate – Traditional Puerto Rican food. If you haven’t tried Mofongo yet, this is the place to do it.
sweet purple rice with coconut gelato from Sticky Rice

Bars

  • Whippoorwill – BEER. Representing the Milk District well. Relaxed and well-curated style, with delish food-pop ups every so often. They are really on top of their Instagram if you want to see what’s up for tonight.
  • Big Daddy’s – The best and most divey karaoke in town EVERY NIGHT.
  • Lil Indies/Will’s – These 2 separate but structurally connected bars were described by a friend of mine, in earnest, as having the appearance of “a house from a third world country.” I think that’s a harsh assessment to both the bar and developing countries at the same time. Regardless of the political correctness of that assessment, I love local shows here. Go on a school-night to enjoy slowly bopping along to legitimately groovy music with approximately 6 other people. You’ll feel good spending $7 on an indie band from Tampa because who knows, they could make it! The weekends are more lively, and their themed events never disappoint (hello, 90s Night and my introduction to Zima). 
  • Guesthouse – For the grown ups who enjoy reasonably priced cocktails and well-placed plants.
  • Aku Aku – Tiki vibes and sugary cocktails for days. Grab “The Volcano” with a friend and if you live to tell the tale I’ll be very impressed. “Tiger F*cker” is a safer choice, despite the name. 
Will’s Pub does not mince words.

Shops

  • Park Ave CDs – CDs are the new vinyl, right? You can cop both here, along with many other quirky goods including your favorite band merch and jokey socks.
  • The Lovely – Located in the same plaza as Park Ave, I love the vintage finds here. For Christmas one year I bought a good friend a vintage camera here (it worked!); the look on her face was priceless.
  • YAY – This tiny place packs a big punch; my coworker and I stumbled upon it during lunch break. We somehow dropped mad money in a store that can’t be more than 500 square feet. The owner is deeply knowledgeable about all of her wares, and there is nothing better than a piece of art with a story, especially if it’s from Florida. 

To-Do

  • Lou Gardens – Take in luxurious flora and fauna on a relaxed, lovely stroll. Did you know that roses smell better when they’re not from the grocery store?
  • Enzian – Local indie theater with an outdoor restaurant and bar; their halloween party is the go-to spot for true film nerds who sport the most thoughtful costumes.
  • Orlando Museum of Art – I took a boy here on a date and he sincerely asked me, “they had cameras during the civil war?” which tells us two things: 1) we seriously need to take a long, hard look at public education, and 2) this is a a fun and easy way to impress your witless dates! But seriously, their exhibits are well-curated and worth visiting.
  • Did y’all know Universal Studios is here? Oh, you did? Did you know the roller coasters are 1000x better than any in Disney and the annual pass is more affordable? I know, I know, you can’t really compete with the Disney brand but hey Harry Potter World amirite?? Just throwing it out there!!
  • Neighboring Apopka is home to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – You have to be very enthused about nature to really enjoy this one, but if you have the patience to endure the 10 mph speed limit you could see over 360 species of bird, and gators. I personally did a little nature walk here and saw some gators up close and personal; it is truly wild to me how casually unsafe it is.
Aw! New Friend @ Lake Apopka