Tag Archives: Colorado

Does the fork in your road have seven lanes or is it just me?

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog. Five months to be exact. I know it’s been too long because the creative blood in my veins have begun to clot along the interior walls of my heart. I wish I could give you semi-decent excuses for my absence. You know the usual balderdash. This happened, that occurred, I was too busy with work, I got married and the wife popped out a litter of pups, went on a walk-about in Australia so I could seize manhood by growing a scraggly beard and skinning rattlesnakes, or that I was building a sailboat in order to ride the high seas like some rich kid who has nothing better to do with their time. (Just for the record I don’t know how long it would take to build a boat, considering I have no idea how to use tools or even the basic concept of woodworking. I would have to interrogate my friend Jacob on that one.)

Excuses like that seem legit and some would even consider them noble undertakings. But alas, I don’t have any room for them in my excuse folder. Although I did manage to grow a beard towards the end of 2013. I was very proud of my beard. But it’s too hot in Florida, even in the dead of winter so I shaved it off.

In a one of my previous posts I had mentioned that I moved down south to get away from life up north. That kept me busy for a while. You know, settling in, finding employment, etc. But then (unfortunately) I was called back to New York for several weeks in order to take care of some personal business. After those shenanigans were dealt with and after it was apparent (yet again might I add) that my New York Jets would not make the playoffs, I flew back down mid-December in order to find work and wait out the rest of the horror that was last year. I am not complaining, unloading, or even giving you a list of things that in all probability you don’t really care about (wait, that last one might be true), I am simply trying to explain where I’ve been.

I think mindsets have a huge say in when a self-entitled writer decides to pick up their pencils (or laptops) and squeeze out a few coherent sentences. For instance, I take Instagram photos and write silly little fiction tales to go along with them just to keep sharp. But I don’t think many people appreciate my doing so (with a few exceptions of course). I mean come on, who has time to read fifteen sentences these days (he says with the roll of his eyes)? People probably think I am being snooty, or showing off, or just plain bats. I don’t care. Like I said, it keeps me sharp and it’s nice to think it could invoke emotions out of the crowd. Who doesn’t like a little commentary to go along with a pretty picture?

But it’s that whole mindset problem . I’ll tell you a secret, the wires in my brain have managed to get tangled up over the past few years. So much so, that if you took an x-ray of my noggin I bet it would look like a ball of yarn someone left under their recliner. If your mindset is dragging you down and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded doldrums, fear not. It makes great fodder for the weary writer looking to muse something poetic and original. I know this to be true in my own journey through life, especially the past six months. I think one of our problems (the unpublished) is seeded in the fact that we are hopelessly emotional and we sometimes forget how to channel the positive/negative energy emanating from our own deceitful nature. Now I know I run the risk of being mocked, condemned and even tarred and feathered for such a blatant statement, but it’s true. I think of it like this: painters paint by what they wish to see, musicians create music by what their ears want to hear, and writers scribe from what they feel deep inside their bellies, where things churn and swell and eventually come out in a flurry of ingenuity, hoping someone will take notice. Don’t get me wrong, every facet of artistic ability stems from the deep longing in our souls to make beauty out of nothing, to inspire someone, to change the world from their own perspectives, and since I can’t paint nor play an instrument, I have to rely on words and sentences to convey what is going on inside the ball of yarn I call a brain.

What do you like to read when things go sour? What section of Barnes and Noble do you peruse when all is well and the world is your oyster? What corner of the library do you find yourself in when things aren’t going right and when every door slams shut on your face? What’s your favorite Starbucks to visit when you are in love and you want to journal some sappy nonsense about your better half?

Maybe you’re like me. Straddling the fence between every place and no place, reading everything or reading nothing, loving all or feeling nothing but that silent emptiness of loneliness. I’ve been trying to pray more these days. I took a long hiatus from the practice because I felt the Lord wasn’t hearing me, or that I wasn’t asking hard enough. I think King David must have been feeling the same type of emotions when he wrote the Psalms. It’s a wonderful biography of a person that God called “a man after His own heart”.  Meanwhile he was one of the biggest basket-cases in the Old Testament.

But the Psalms are different. David takes the reader on a journey to the top of the mountain with songs of love, faithfulness, joy and peace with his maker. On the other side of the token, the not-so-bright side, he brings us into the valley of his lamenting. He is scared and lonely and doesn’t know where to run and hide. He begs for help and sheds tears because there’s no one to comfort him. If I close my eyes I can see him sitting on a hill, faithfully tending his flock while all of these emotions are running through his spirit. This was the man who slew a giant with a stone! A shepherd boy who was to be king of Israel. When he wasn’t writing, he was running from Saul, when he wasn’t running from Saul, he was trying to figure out which road God wanted him to take.

Doesn’t this sound like us at times?

So, my fellow unpublished friends, cheer up. Use your emotions as a tool to write wonderful things. Use it as a compass to change the world because people need directions. There’s too many forks in the road.

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Road Trip: Beyond the sight of man

Rocky Mountains
Golden, Co
Photography by Gabriel

When I wake up in the early morning hours I find myself lost between different lands. Upon opening your eyes, the first thing to hit the center of your pupils are the Rocky Mountains. All you see is darkness at its base, but when you gaze at the multicolored sunrise above the hilly terrain you are hit with a sense of shock at the contrast between earth and sky.

It reminds me of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island. If you get to the beach at sunrise, you will see pitch black waves rocking back and forth with no sense of direction. If you look deep into the horizon and past the breaking point of the waves, reds and oranges welcome another day into existence. The dark water is alive with life and as the sun rises, it makes the liquid seem less ominous. Sometimes you forget the world is circular because at that moment, you are certain the earth stretches east to west for billions of miles, as if running alongside the heavens. A cosmic battle of the ages with no winners, their job is to keep us filled with questions and wonder and mesmerize us by creating natural phenomenons.

Then I moved to the middle of American, where flat land stops abruptly and bows down to majestic mountains. In the morning, dark, rolling hills cut the purple sky in half in these strange, zigzag, up and down patterns which seem to go on forever. Stars still shine and the moon hangs high above the earth in victory and awash in the suns reflection. Every color of the rainbow mixes in with white clouds and all is quiet underneath its banner.

Once I am fully awake I remember where I am and what I’m doing here. Although I don’t understand the why and the when, I feel all these questions will be fulfilled in due time. The place I came from seems to fade away with every sunset, the future, like every sunrise, remains a mystery to my mind and my soul and yet I wait in expectation, hopeful and captivated by the strangeness of it all.

Speaking of strange, two nights ago I checked into a local motel out here in Colorado and found myself caught in a creepy, personal version of Ghost Hunters. Unbeknownst to me, the place had a reputation for being shady and a hangout for various sorts of arch criminals and vagabonds. Not that I have a problem with consorting with different people, I’d rather not stay in a building where shootouts occurred and people died.

Anyway, I rented a room and made my way down the dark corridor with an uneasy feeling in my stomach, this was strike one. Upon entering the pad, I put my stuff down and prepared myself for a shower in a bathroom with a puddle of water sitting in the middle of the floor. Strike two. I spoke comforting words into the mirror, you know, kind of like a pep talk to keep me going. As I stood in the middle of the lavatory in my birthday suit the madness began.

Oh Shit!

An unearthly whisper shot past my ears and the hairs on my neck stood up sending my nerves into a panic overload. At this point I am extremely vulnerable because I had to put on my clothes before running through the walls like some cartoon on steroids. As this was all transpiring, my heart beat a hundred miles an hour and my mind was screaming for me to leave this place of the damned. The evil twin girls from The Shinning flashed in my mind and all I wanted to do was scream. After I managed to throw on my clothes and pick up whatever crap was lying around I made it into the hallway safely without anyone or anything grabbing my shoulder. I would have screamed, my lord I would have screamed!

Point of the story is I managed to get out of there alive and in one piece with a full refund. There is another world beyond the sight of man. Whether you choose to believe is your prerogative, but at that point, in that room, I was not alone. My skin crawled, my lungs filled with fear and my mind played tricks on me. I’ve never had a problem staying in motels before and I have stayed in plenty. I knew I wasn’t losing my mind, when I checked into my beloved Motel 6 an hour later I spoke with the cute lady behind the counter about the haunted motel. My story was confirmed when she explained to me how many people have left that motel in fear.

I’m usually one for exploring the unknown and the eerie, but not then. I want to know what I’m walking into first before signing up to be a Ghostbuster. I think it’s only fair to warn your patrons there are spirits roaming about the halls. If the creepy lady at the front desk would have explainedthis to me I would have been in the mood to deal with the unseen. But, like many of the adventures I’ve had on this trip so far, it makes for good conversation.

Get em’ Ray.

Today is opening day for the NFL and I am sitting here in Starbucks drinking the cheapest coffee a guy can find in this particular establishment. This will be the first time in many, many years I will miss my beloved Jets open up the season and it’s amazing how little I actually care. Priorities can change when you are broke and homeless and on the verge of mental collapse. You see the world differently, you grow up faster, you pray for help and you try to remain strong while you rebuild and regroup and start from absolutely nothing. Like the ghost which haunted me a few nights ago, the unknown is a scary, otherworldly existence I have come to despise.

I don’t have anything else to add except this: Don’t be afraid, the morning light will shine eventually and the darkness cannot stand it. Take it easy.


Road Trip: Jimmy Bojangles

Me as Jimmy Bojangles

When darkness creeps in and erases the sun from shining, the coyotes howl and the prairie winds pick up, it leaves me cold and vulnerable to the outside world. Sometimes, when all is quiet and clouds hang gently overhead, I take a moment to wonder how I came to be. How I went from living indoors and working forty hours a week, to sleeping in my Grand Van and camping under the stars in a forgotten part of the world with no money, no home and no employment. The Denver Post is yet to hire me.

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Golden, CO and taking a moment to rest. Over the past forty-eight hours, I have filled out and hand delivered over thirty applications for work. They range from cooking in sushi bars, cleaning toilets, gas station attendant, hotel janitor, barista, pizza maker and even a marijuana “packer” at one of the many Medical Marijuana stores here in Denver. I should join the circus, because most of my time on earth has been spent juggling one thing or the next.

I will pretty much do anything at this point to keep from losing my mind. Being free and unburdened by work is fun for a time, even relaxing. But I’m a man in need of something to fill in the hours between hiking and backpacking and dodging mountain lions and rock slides. Since I enjoy crap like this, I need more money to get to these places and since money doesn’t grow on trees, I need to find work.

Jimmy Bojangles is the wandering man inside of my soul. The guy who lets loose and sticks his thumb in the air when cars come flying down the highway, he smokes Pall Malls and wears funny looking hats. He walks proudly in torn jeans and hiking boots. The walking stick he carries has crossed many lands, has seen many places, and when the end of it juts into the dusty earth, it sends small plumes of visible smoke all around his feet. He’s a good man, a wise man, a sad man, this Jimmy Bo Jangles. Without a destination, he makes his own path for others to follow. Without a home, he lays his weary head on the grass and looks into the heavens for signs of life. He is a solo man, cursed to spend the rest of his days wandering the planet in search of something greater than himself. No one wants to be him. People shake their heads and shield their eyes and tell tales about him. None of it true. He is misunderstood, this nomad, this Jimmy Bo Jangles.

I think we all have a bit of this guy inside of us. Just waiting to be released and given the go ahead to take the controls for a while. Many people wiser than I keep him locked away, only to come out when life gets too burdensome, never to be taken seriously, they keep the adventure hidden inside. They know better because they are sane, or too afraid to step outside the circle of comfort.

I have nothing to lose. When you are trying to find a mate, this can be devastating to your case. Women want homes, and cars, and money and protection. All of which can be purchased from that thing which doesn’t grow on trees. When you spend your life making terrible choices, guess what happens? Bad shit happens.

All of these things can be rectified. Nothing is unfixable as long as you are still breathing and not six feet underground somewhere. I am trying harder than I ever have in my life, to become something worth looking at in the mirror, someone worth being proud of. I spent most of my life living vicariously through Jimmy, taking risk after risk and throwing caution to the wind without worrying about consequences. I am deeply saddened by this. But I’m trying and pressing forward and conquering the fear of failure which has haunted me for so many years.

I am watching a young, mentally challenged employee clean tables and sweep the floors. She has a smile on her face which could light up a dark room. What is my excuse?  What is your excuse? Who am I to whine and moan and cry unfair? Who am I to blame the Dealer for dealing me a crummy hand when some people cannot function normally? It’s all a mess, this world of ours. Where is the justice? Maybe the next life will be kinder, gentler, worth living.

My friends, my readers, I wish you all a great holiday weekend. There is nothing wrong with living adventurous, seeing new places, making new friends, leaving your mark on history. I am trying to accomplish all of these things. But I guess I have to grow up a little, fix a few things, and make smarter decisions. The outdoors are a wonderful place to find yourself and to discover the inner depths of who you can become with a little spirit. But man, I can really use a shower.