Vapor Daze

10:00 A.M. The room is full of smoke. Live is singing Rolling Thunder on the sound system. Loud, really loud. I love this song but my connection is not here yet.

I go next door for a cup of coffee.

"Regular American?" the friendly woman behind the counter asks.

"Yes, thanks. Cream, no sugar."

It takes a few minutes to make. "Where do you want to sit?" she asks.

"I think I'll sit outside. It's a beautiful morning." She heads for the door and I follow, fishing through the black hole that is my pocketbook, searching for my wallet that always sinks to the bottom along with my car keys.

"Pay after you drink your coffee. Don't be rushing," she says.

The strip mall has a cigar shop, another diner, a hair salon, a We Buy Gold business, and a bar that isn't open yet. All the shopkeepers know each other. They drift in and out of the shops and stand outside their doors, shouting "Good Morning" to each other.

White clouds drift along the Intracoastal. Traffic backs up as the bridge rises to allow a sailboat and a yacht to pass through. My American coffee doesn't look or taste American at all. It is Cafe con Leche, topped with foamy cream. I sip the strong brew while I wait for the young man who owns the Vapor Shop where I will be doing bookkeeping today. This is a hell of lot better than working in a cubicle.

My husband and I were arguing this morning about his inability to keep accurate records. I was rushing around getting ready for work and he was struggling with an invoice. "Are you keeping track of your reimbursements?" I asked. Okay, I didn't just ask, I sort of yelled. I did yell. I was upset he waited to ask for help when I was rushing out the door. No matter how many times I explain Save versus Save As, he just doesn't get it.

I take my journal out of my pocketbook. It's a bit like Mary Poppins' bag. There is no lamp in there, but there is an umbrella. The journal has a thought from Buddha on each page.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

I thought this journal might be helpful. I decide to be grateful for this morning, this delicious cup of coffee, and the opportunity to start a blog on a day I will spend crunching numbers instead of writing.

The vapor shop did provide entertainment. Of course, there was the loud music. Throughout the day I listened to Jimi Hendrix (love it), Lynyrd Skynyrd (not so much), and two different versions of Here Come the Rooster by Alice in Chains, Plugged and Unplugged, (both excellent).

Stools are lined up along the display cases and people hang out trying new flavors and catching up on local news. I was around the corner in a makeshift office but one of the computers on my desk provided multiple views of the goings on out in the front room and I could hear the conversions.

The choices of flavors were endless. One guy came in for Bourbon for himself and Pina Colada "for the wife." A very pretty young girl had the guys working the counter falling all over themselves, giving her tips on how not to kill her battery and offering a free charger with her starter kit.

The Gingerbread Man stopped by. "I guess I'm the only one who likes this flavor? Is nobody else ordering this but me?" he asked. Apparently he was embarrassed by his taste in vapors. "Hey, what can you do? I just really like gingerbread."

By late afternoon I was hitting the wall, but the party out in the front room was just getting started. I got up from my desk to ask the owner a question and was greeted by a huge cloud of smoke. Twenty people were toking on their e-pens, discussing flavors as they would fine wines. "It's smooth with a hint of blueberry." "Are you picking up on the nutty undertones?"

It was raining outside and Led Zeppelin was playing. "If the sun refused to shine." (Now that's my favorite.) My dream is to write everyday but in the meantime, I know there are worse ways to make a living.

For more stories about life in my fifties and my search for the real Florida, follow me on my blog at