From First Screens to Pre-teens

I never had a TV in my room growing up. I immersed myself instead in music and talking on the phone. My step-father stayed up late making mixed tapes when I was in my teens “The Best of Tidewater.” He made dozens of volumes. Then he’d find me whispering on the phone on his way to bed and get angry. These days, I make elaborate Spotify playlists and think I owe that obsession to him.

After my failed attempt to land a gig as the cool kid in junior high (as evidenced by not getting onto the gymnastics team) I began my transformation into a a geeky, gothy, artsy, angsty, self-loathing pre- teen (who still secretly wanted to be a cool kid.)

This was my best travel outfit. I was on my way down to Miami. I wore it the first day of the new school year (minus the blanket) and seriously hoped people would think I was a different person.

At around 14, I got myself into a serious relationship that sucked me in so hard that I lost most of my friends completely immersed in this relationship. It was a bad one, friends. But I was in loooooove.

I was introduced to the world of computers when I would come down to Florida and visit my father.

Much of who I am is modeled after my father. I love art, technology and ideas that move us towards an equitable society where no one suffers unnecessarily.

My father, Larry David Lawhorn has always been excellent with electronics, relationships – not so much. He worked at Hi-Fi Associates on Biscayne Boulevard for a couple years. Later he went to FIU to become an Occupational Therapist.

I had a lot of early experience with computers because my father was an electronics and computer geek.
My father (top left) with his co-workers at Hi-fi Associates on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami

I came down to Florida almost every summer. My father was so obsessed with his work I drew a picture of him turning into a computer. His mouth, the printer.

He lost his second wife, Karen (K-Bird) Cotter to his incessant work, neglect, paranoia and insecurity. He’d work all day on electronics and then come home and work on our computer at home.

Karen was in banking and kept getting promoted. He became paranoid she was having an affair. And I vaguely recall him accusing her of “sleeping her way to the top.” (As if there’s no other way she could be excelling at work.) She was really smart, and fun and truth be told, she deserved a better life than what my Dad was capable of offering her at the time.

And she left an indelible impression on me. She taught me how to drive and was there when I got my period. When I crashed her new car into a tree accidentally stepping on the gas instead of the brake, she was only concerned about my safety and explained to me that that what car insurance was for. Not a hint of anger or disappointment in her voice.

It broke my heart when they split up. I think I was more upset than they were when they told me. I have a memory of being told on a rooftop pool area, but I’m not sure that checks out. I’d love to catch up with her but have never been able to find her.

I’ve loved every single one of my father’s girlfriends with the exception of Carmen-Rosa, I think that’s her name. She was my fathers third wife. He met her while living in Barcelona, had another child with her and eventually moved back to the States. I met her once, maybe twice. Our kids were about the same age (1-2 years old), which was pretty weird. They met once. My son pushed her and everyone got upset. She didn’t speak much English so it was really hard to get to know her. They may technically still be married even though they split up over a decade ago and he hasn’t seen her in person for about that long now. I’m not even sure if he keeps in touch with them anymore.

Around that time, my father allowed me, my husband at the time- Jeffrey and his family, Sandra, Vinny and eventually my son’s cousin Philip to live in his North Miami house while he was in Spain. That’s where Jeffrey spent the first year of his life. Took his first steps. Despite the rats, no central air and termites, it was a really blissful time for me, being a mom.

We listened to a lot of Yanni during the day and I watched a lot of Golden Girls while nursing in the middle of the night.

Before the lady in Spain though, he was a serial monogamist.

There was Allison, who he left my mother for. She was a free-spirit that left my father forever wishing he could find someone just like her to this day. I’d say she was the love of his life. I got to know her as a kid and based on my letters to him, I was also very fond of her.

Then there was a Linda. She was ok. I think she lasted a few months. I met her one summer. We went to the Grove.

Around the time I was 15, he started dating Maria Zaragoza. We became fast friends. We went on a ski trip to Colorado with her and to Cozumel, Mexico. And when I moved to Miami at 17, we all lived together in the North Miami house. She was so fun and loving. She made up for any of my father’s shortcomings.

Me with Maria Zaragoza. Another ex of my father’s I wish I could find.

She affectionately called me “eh-stupid eh-smart.” I forgot why. But it was meant to imply that sometimes I could be very naïve for such a smart girl. It was like a sit-com. My first Miami Thanksgiving I emerged from my room wearing my winter clothes to go to Maria’s mom’s. This was an example of “eh-stupid eh-smart.” It was like 90 degrees outside. She had this sweet old Cuban mother who I loved who allegedly was one of Castro’s cooks.

She eventually left him but Maria had already had a huge impact on my life. But this time when she split, I wasn’t surprised. Living with him for the first time since I was 2, was a much different experience than I imagined it would be. I saw him no longer through the eyes of a little girl who loved her Daddy like a fairy tale princess to real life. And it was a very different experience than my summer or Christmas visits, very eye-opening.

And finally there was Marlem. And that’s a tragic story. My father met her working at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind. She was blind and on dialysis and in poor health in general. But she had the BIGGEST heart of anyone I’d ever met. He went back to Spain and left her here.

Of course I kept in touch with her, this was around 2006 or so. I would pick her up from Hialeah and take her to Landmark seminars weekly. Then one day I got a call. She had fallen in her bathroom and died. She lived with her Dad who was asleep when she fell. To this day I don’t know why she didn’t have a life alert or something. Imagining her dying on the bathroom floor alone really fucked me up. It was the most intense mourning experience I’ve ever had, so far. I suppose in that way I’m lucky.

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It's always been hard for me to explain what I do for a living. This is a place where I can share all of my projects and passions in one place.