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The Misplaced Hoosier

New to Florida by way of Indiana

In Which The Misplaced Hoosier Visits Pensacola, Florida for Vacation

When you move to the place where you vacationed, there’s no need to leave.

When you move to the place where the rest of the world comes to, why do you need to go anywhere else? Sit here long enough, and your former part of the world will come to you.

While I’ve left Orlando a few times in the two years I’ve lived here, it’s always been for work or to visit someone, never because we wanted to “get away from it all.” Orlando is the place where “it all gets to.”

So it felt a little weird to drive seven hours north and west to Pensacola, Florida for a short vacation.

I was scheduled to read at the Funny Side Of Florida event as part of Pensacola’s Foo Foo Festival, the annual arts festival put on by different arts organizations in the Pensacola area. The West Florida Literary Federation was putting on this year’s humor-themed literary event, and they were good enough to invite me up to read a few of my humor columns. We had worked this out way back in the summer, and I had been looking forward to it.
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I May be Misplaced, but Orlando is My City

In the 10 months since we’ve left Indianapolis, Orlando has just been the town I moved to.

Indiana was home, and Indianapolis was my hometown. I was here with reservations, and my heart wasn’t in it.

But last night, after 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded at Pulse,  a local gay nightclub here in Orlando, this has become my city.
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The Time I Had an Overnight Guest

I had an overnight guest last week at the Kerouac House.

His name was Adam, and he was traveling.

Not on vacation, not on a trip.

Just. . . traveling.

He didn’t have anywhere to be, he just wanted to keep moving.

So I took him in because he was living the Jack Kerouac life. And I knew if I didn’t, I’d kick myself for years to come.
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In Which I Make My Workbench

My house isn’t a home without a place to work in the garage. In the last 20+ years of home ownership and renter-ship, I’ve always had a workbench. Whether it was a small work table I built out of 2x4s and plywood, or a large, complex bench built with 2x6s and bolted to the wall, I’ve always had “my place” in the house.

Moving to Orlando from Indianapolis meant leaving my old workbench behind. This one was the best I had ever built — 17 linear feet, L-shaped, and was so solid, I could stand on it. I built it with 2x6s, 2x8s, and 2x12s for the top. The top was lauan plywood, which had three coats of polyurethane on it for durability, and I wrapped the whole top in 1×3 pine. This is where I worked on my projects, stored my woodworking tools, and even kept my books.

I wasn’t too happy when I had to leave my bench behind.
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That Time We Rescued a Dog, Sort Of

I’ve always wanted to have the kind of house where stray animals just showed up. Like they recognized it as a beacon of safety and love, and knew that no matter how bad their life had gotten, they could come here and be taken care of.

Alas, that’s never happened to me, even growing up.

I’ve known people who have helped numerous dogs and cats over the years, because a stray or abandoned animal just showed up at their house. It’s one thing when it’s in the middle of the country, on a cold autumn night. But these are people in the city, where the animals had literally hundreds of houses to choose from, and yet, they all chose the same one over and over.

Until last night. Last night was almost my moment. Almost.
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In Which I Make My First Sugar Cream Pie

There are two foods distinct (or nearly so) to my home state of Indiana: the breaded pork tenderloin and the sugar cream pie. In fact, those are the official state sandwich and state pie. They were voted on by the legislature and everything!

And Thanksgiving has come and gone for me without a single sugar cream pie. I spend two weeks before Thanksgiving searching the local grocery stores, but they don’t carry sugar cream pies. Also, their pumpkin pies look a little dubious.

I check Google for anybody in the Orlando selling sugar cream pies, but no joy. None of the local bakeries make them either. Wicks can ship them, and it’s only $23 for a box of 6. Problem is, it costs another $75 to have them overnighted and refrigerated, so it’s nearly $100 for a box of 6. Still, that’s only $16.33 per pie, so it’s an option if we ever get a bunch of homesick Hoosiers together.
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Day 61: In Which We Search for a Church

The hardest part of moving to a new city where you don’t know many people is searching for a new church. You can’t ask just anyone, because walking up to someone in the street and asking where they go to church is both awkward and impolite.

Er, or so I’m told.

We start our search a couple weeks after we arrive, trying one church after another. A good friend introduces us to his sister and brother-in-law, and we visit their church. It’s a nice church, very big, and everyone is very friendly. But we’re more liberal than this church, so we agree to keep looking. However, we also agree we may want to revisit this church once in a while. Sometimes there’s something cool about being in a big church.

The following Saturday, we Google “progressive church Orlando” and try to choose from the most liberal-sounding ones that don’t delve into the hippy-dippy.

That didn’t work.

If there was a church created specifically for hipsters, we find it the next morning. There are so many lumberjack beards and flannel shirts here, I think I’m in Portland, Oregon.
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Day 31: Creative City Project Orlando

We must have come to Orlando at the right time, because we’ve managed to catch a lot of art celebrations.

From the Third Thursday/Dio de la Muertas block party.
From the Third Thursday/Dio de la Muertas block party.
Whether it’s a mural painting party at Sam Flax, the local arts supply store, or Third Thursday Dio de la Muertas (Day of the Dead) celebration, we’ve done something arty every weekend.

Last Saturday the 17th was the Creative City Project Orlando, a multi-stage festival that shut down Orange Street right in the heart of downtown. It’s a four block stretch, the restaurants are open, there are a few food carts, but no food trucks. (I have yet to see a food truck downtown.)

If you time it right, you can park anywhere for CCPO. We arrive about an hour before the first performance, and park in the lot across from my office in The Exchange Building. It’s $1 per hour, which isn’t great, but it’s only 4 blocks from where we need to be. Down here, that’s pretty close.
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Day 24: In Which I See My First Pride Parade

I’ve been told by my gay friends and by people in the Orlando entertainment business, Orlando is a very gay friendly city. It has to do with the fact that Disney and Universal Studios hire more gay people than just about anywhere in the state. I would even wager just about anywhere in the country.

So the Orlando Come Out With Pride Festival, and Saturday’s Pride Parade, is a big deal.

The Pride Orlando organization
The Pride Orlando organization

My friend, Clay Rivers, invited me to watch the Pride Parade with him and a few friends. So I spent the day Saturday running errands and exploring — I’m really intrigued by the neighborhood called Mills 50 — before meeting him in front of his friends’ condo on Central.
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