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Hurricane Irma

13 Sep

As long as I have lived in Florida, I never get used to hurricanes. True, most of them pass us by with little or no impact. Just minor inconveniences for living here. Then came Irma. Thanks to better science, we had days to watch this thing develop. The devastation in the Caribbean. The changing track of the storm. First one direction, then another. Finally, the horrible reality that it was headed to Tampa Bay. It was scary. Getting the house ready. Evacuating. Being separated from my family. They went to safer ground. I went to the TV station for the dreaded “12 on 12 off.” That’s twelve hours on television, twelve hours off for as long as needed. Sunday morning starting at 2am. There we sat. Watching our meteorologists predict the storm. Had Cuba taken some of the punch out of Irma? How badly would it hit the Florida Keys? Then what? Tampa Bay? As what? A category 4? Please no! Then the news that it was headed toward Naples. That it would come east of us. We were getting a hurricane, but a much weaker one. It hit. It hit hard. Not as hard as we feared, but hard enough. At the end of it, Tampa Bay is luckier than most of the rest of Florida. The Keys. Naples. Marco Island. Miami. Jacksonville. It will take years to fix this. We will do it, but it will take a lot of money and patience. I love living here. I won’t leave. Maybe I would have before Irma, but not now. The storm made me proud to be here. We made it through this together. Together, we will make this state better.

Dear Phoebe…

14 May

It’s Mother’s Day. I miss you so much. I know you are with me all the time, but I could really use a hug. Thank you for always being there. I miss you!

Sunday morning.

30 Apr

I’ve become a big fan of Lewis Howes.  The guy just inspires me.  His book, “The School of Greatness” is my go-to book for being motivated.  His podcasts make me want to do great things.  A couple of times recently, Lewis has hit me square on in the head about not being perfect.  My biggest obstacle on making change in my life and trying something new is always making it perfect.  Getting it right out of the gate.  Lewis has convinced me that it’s not necessary.  Just doing it is necessary.  Do it.  Make it better.  Make it great.  We know it will never be perfect.  I’ve given myself a two year deadline to plan my next act.  I’ll be sixty.  My TV contract will be done.  It’s time to do something else.  Two years to do something new.  I think that’s a good time frame.  Two years to do something that’s fun and good.  Maybe even something that makes me some money.  Two years to do something that’s “not perfect.” Thanks, Lewis.  I’m on the clock!

The mom in the mirror

30 Apr

After my mom died, I was getting rid of all the stuff at our home in Paris, Texas. I gave a lot away. Sold a lot. Kept a few significant things. There was a mirror in my parent’s bathroom. Nothing particularly special about it, but it was the mirror they stood in front of everyday. For some reason, I kept it. Put it in storage. That’s where it has been. After Christmas, I decided I needed to clean out that storage unit. No way was I cramming those Christmas decorations back in there without cleaning it out. There was that mirror. It has just been sitting there. Time to donate it. Instead of getting rid of it, I put it against the wall in the garage. It’s been there for a few months. On my birthday, I decided to speak with a psychic. This woman had seen my mother in some readings with friends. I thought I should talk to her. One of the first things she said to me was she saw my mother in front of a mirror putting on lipstick. I told her about the mirror. She said not to get rid of it. I won’t. Now, it’s an important part of my life. I look in it every day and tell my parents hello. I know they are there watching. 

The Inauguration 

22 Jan

I was one of those that held out hope that Donald Trump would rise to the occasion. He’s a New Yorker. He grew up around people of all persuasions. He has seen the tapestry of what makes America great. Then, came his Inauguration speech. I was broken hearted. How could he say those things? What was he thinking? He won! Now, unite! That speech was anything but uniting. I was embarrassed for the former Presidents on that stage. I think George Bush was trying to pull that poncho over his face so that he could hide! I watched President Obama and Michelle leave D.C. I hope he was thinking, “Get me out of here.” I’m sure he was thinking, “What have I left them with?” So, it begins. The Trump Presidency. I still want him to rise to the occasion. I do think he knows what’s right. I know, I know. You think I’m crazy here. I just have to believe he has the smarts to do this. I’m giving it a few more days. I’ll get back to you next week. 

Dear Mr. President…

15 Jan

Dear President Obama:

This is a thank you note.  A thank you for the past eight years.  Now, while not everything was perfect, my life has been pretty good.  I just saw a  retrospective of your time as President.  It was an amazing eight years.  I remember how I felt on election night 2008.  Watching that crowd in Grant Park cheering you on.  Your beautiful family.  I really did believe we could accomplish anything.

It was not an easy time to take office.  The economy had tanked.  The banks, real estate, the auto industry.  Quite honestly,  I was scared.  A lot of people were scared.  Look at us now.  People are working and the economy is humming along.

Health care.  Right away, you got to it.  Insisting that health care is a right for every American.  I remember watching the vote that approved the Affordable Care Act.  I was so proud.  Yes, in the words of your Vice-President, “It was a big fucking deal!”

Marriage equality.  I’m gay.  I’m married to the best man in the world.  Love wins.  Love won.  Thank you for making it happen.

Now, its almost done.  You leave office this week.  I have no idea what is to come.  No idea what they will try and do to your legacy.  I do know this though.  You were there.  You made a difference.  You made me a better person.  You made America better.  I will not forget you and am grateful for living in a time when you were President.  Go have that nice, long beach vacation.  You deserve it.  Enjoy it so much that you get bored.  Then, get back to it.  Get back to us.  You have a lot left to offer.  I need you.  We all need you!

 

Sincerely,

Russell Rhodes “A Fellow American”

 

 

A view from abroad

9 Jul

I’m in Europe for a couple of weeks. France and England. I got the news of the Dallas Police shooting when I woke up yesterday. Because of the time difference, the morning here was still nighttime back home and the story was unfolding. Watching it play out on my phone was sad and horrifying. How many dead?  How many shooters?  

It’s interesting to watch the news from afar. Had I been at home, I would have been sitting on the set covering it as a story. Being here, you watch these things as civilians. Being here, you get the non-American perspective. As we rented our car, the guy said to us, “You, Americans, have too many guns. This could never happen here.”  Well, I am of the opinion it could happen anywhere and it does. But he did say something I agree with.  We, Americans, have too many guns. We just do. There has got to be a better way of dealing with this issue. Why can’t we have smarter gun laws?  It really is, I believe, the issue of our times. We can’t keep letting this happen. Schools. A gay bar. A peaceful protest. Someone, Hillary, Donald, Bernie, or a Presidential candidate to be named later is going to have to deal with this. It’s time.