Pardon Me…But Where the Hell Am I Again?

This week’s topic was about feeling out of place… we all feel this way sometimes. The lost lamb, the odd duck, the black sheep and countless other misfit farm animals.

But when it’s your hometown, your family or your workplace, getting to the bottom of your “stranger in a strange land” scenario may shed some light on what’s really going on.

So, this week’s question posed:

What are some ways you could prod yourself to better acclimate yourself with a part of your life where you still feel from another world?

The example I used for me was my lack of connection with my home turf for the past 17 years now – Pasco County, Florida. It’s definitely much less rural in my stomping grounds than some northeastern and north central parts of the county, but it doesn’t make me feel any more connected to it.

But I’ll be the first to admit: I haven’t really done a lot to get connected either.

I haven’t joined any organizations in the area like the local chamber or Pasco-based club or networking organizations. I do go to one monthly event for a networking group with a nearby meeting among many sprinkled throughout Tampa Bay, but not all who attend are actually based in Pasco. I do try to patronize the local restaurants when I can – like I happen to know the greatest pizza anywhere in the area – Tampa included – is Amici Pizza, a little family-owned place just up the street along S. R. 54. An awesome breakfast spot if you’re heading out this way to visit Wiregrass for instance is this fabulous place Cafe Fresco Bakery on S.R. 56, just a little east of I-75. I do try to call local companies when I’m in need of a repair or specialty service, because I am a supporter of shopping local when you can and if it makes sense and serves your needs (but yes, I do still shop at Target and WalMart, I won’t lie).

So I think these are some ways to integrate better with a community. But I think what may be holding me back is an underlying current of social and political conservatism that seems to pervade the area and makes folks like me feel leary of even speaking openly about social and legislative matters that I should feel comfortable enough to at least contribute to a discussion. Perhaps if I felt like in a group of 10 there might be another 3 or 4 folks at least in the bunch who might feel as I do but frankly that’s not usually the case. When subjects like President Obama’s healthcare plan come up in conversation when I’m out here “in the heartland” that is Pasco, usually I’m the lone wolf, the Juror Number 8 of the bunch, so admittedly I clam up and quietly wish Superman would dart out to the globe and rotate the Earth a little bit faster so I can get through this painful conversation so I can go home and watch The Rachel Maddow Show or read the Huffington Post and feel vindicated by my opinions.

I’m sure I sound really close-minded here, and I certainly don’t mean to be that way. I really do walk into events hopeful that I’ll witness some kind of powerful gust of wind shift the minds and conversation to people talking about how absurd it is that there are bans on gay marriage anywhere in the U.S. but that’s not usually the case when that conversation comes up either. Again, I’m usually alone on the ledge defending not holy matrimony but the sanctity of individual rights and two consenting adults’ proclivity to love one another and to want to be together as fully as any other couple of adults would. And what’s wrong with that again? <Crickets. Crickets.>

I do have an appreciation for quilt-making though not a talent for it, but I’m not sure I personally need to attend a whole show about it or a kumquat festival, clay shoot or tractor pull, for that matter, all hot ticket items out here in some parts of the county. I’m much more interested in going to a Rays game, an art museum or a Black Keys concert.

So what does this mean for me? I don’t see myself warming up to some of the elements that make up traditional Pasco County culture and history, but I am going to continue to at least make attempts to learn about it by checking out more local attractions  (like the Pioneer Florida Museum in Dade City, which was truly cool and worth the drive and value – I highly recommend!). And I will continue to support local business owners the only way I know how – by giving their places of service and cuisine a shot at my business. And if it’s worth coming back or telling others, I’ll heartily do it.  But I don’t think I’ll be volunteering for any Civil War re-enactments, and I don’t see myself signing up at the brand new Mitt Romney campaign office out in Wesley Chapel anytime soon either.

How can you tackle your own out-of-place feelings wherever you might feel the oddball? And from one oddball to another, I say go forth and get to the root of those feelings and figure out SOME WAY to get over it and make the best of it. I’ll try if you do. Are you in?

Cheers to finding that daily spark in in your life!



  1. Well said, Chris!! As another Pasco resident AND over 55 and living in one of those communities, I am as I am tagged as the “oddist” which is Zhills speak for “artist”. I put thousands of miles on my car heading toward Tampa, Pinellas County, Sarasota, or Lakeland (a small but classy art museum), to get a smattering of “culture”. I have to ask people here that if they want to talk about Healthcare Reform that they call it the “Affordable Heath Care Act” and not Obamacare if they are speaking to me. I won’t put up with the narrow minded and uneducated viewpoints so I seek fun and friendships elsewhere. This summer I am going each week to Citrus Park mall movie theater to see the Metropolitan Opera Encores which has been a total thrill. At about 13.00 per head, in a nearly empty theater, I have enjoyed the first 4 operas so much. There is excitement around, but hard to find in Pasco County!!

    Still reading you


    • Hello Gainor! It’s Staci. What a pleasant surprise to see your comment when I came to read Chris’ blog. So happy to hear of your adventures 🙂


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