Tag Archives: faith

My Privilege

A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:

  • I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
  • I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
  • I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
  • I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
  • I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
  • I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
  • I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
  • I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
  • I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
  • I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
  • I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
  • I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
  • I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
  • I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
  • I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
  • I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
  • I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
  • I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
  • I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
  • I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
  • I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
  • I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
  • I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
  • I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
  • I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
  • I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
  • I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
  • I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
  • I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
  • I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
  • I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
  • I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
  • I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
  • I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
  • I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
  • I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
  • I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
  • I am privileged after all.

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.


Of broken things.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2011

               Authors note: Hello my fellow bloggers and word-nerds, this short romantic fiction piece was something of a whim. I loved writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it. It may be the start of a new book and so please leave some feedback. This is my 50th posting on the Papparaci, thank you for reading my work and making me feel like a writer.          

He wondered about the broken things. Feeling like something shattered in her heart, he contemplated on how to fix it, and, if she wanted them repaired by the person who caused the damage in the first place.  The man realized the situation for what it was, he ‘d wished nothing but happiness for her, yet felt he had done something to cause her to back away. To slowly retreat back into obscurity, leaving questions unanswered. He hoped it wasn’t something he said in passing. He prayed it wasn’t because the emotions he left dangling on his sleeves.

Remembering how it was on the beach, with seagulls soaring and tumultuous waves crashing along the warm Long Island Sound, he thought back to those days and the ones that followed. How happy this short, caring man was in the months which followed. With every sunrise, hope arose too. With every closing of the day, peace lifted him out of the haze of solitude. Yes, it’s safe to say that in those days, he had reached a great summit and had found happiness in her company. He was reluctant to release these feelings of euphoria to any other but himself. Not that he was a selfish man, but finding comfort in someone so wonderful, so near to his own heart, well, it was a hard cross to bear.

They had spoken less and less in the coming weeks. Much to his discontent, he understood the reasons. At least he thought he did. Certain facts could not go unnoticed, how would a beaked nose, old soul compete with such a person? With nothing to offer but love and companionship, he stood gallantly with his hands in his pockets and tried not to weep.

He had done plenty of that in front of her and this caused him no small amount of shame and embarrassment. He couldn’t seem to help it though. Whenever she was in his presence, his whole body reacted in odd ways. He was normally an introverted, quiet man who said little about himself and usually found it hard to fit in with crowds. No one really knew the things this man had endured; his sensitivity was not a sign of weakness, but rather a testament to the inner strength that kept him going day by day. He wasn’t afraid to show her raw emotions. He felt the world lacked true love and to be able to show it to someone was life’s greatest gift. Besides, they were mostly happy tears, mixed and mingled with a touch of melancholy.

But it was different with her. Friendship had blossomed and seeds of something much grander were planted in his heart. Joy, peace and wholeness seemed to wash over his abandoned soul making him a king in some obscure way. He knew deep down that these feelings may not be reciprocated, but took a chance. For a time they were, there was laughter and jokes, stories and romance. They shared dinner and coffee and in some way, mended one another. He wanted to tell her these things, but was afraid she would misunderstand.

How agonizingly happy he was for her, how thankful and appreciative he was because of the kindness she had showed him. She had been his best friend for a time, but like many other good things, it couldn’t last. He wanted to express himself but didn’t know how. Thinking of the way her hair danced in the wind and the way her eyes told many stories, he put something down on paper. Maybe, just maybe, she might read it and feel comforted knowing there was somebody who thought the world of her.


Lost on Thanksgiving.

The greatest show ever made.

Sometimes, during the dark of night when I can’t sleep, I listen to the wind crash against the window of my bedroom. The street lamp standing guard on the sidewalk births thick beams of artificial sunlight into my room which are hushed and distorted by the glass, causing streaks of yellow to cascade past the physical attribute of the pane. When the light hits the wall, it disburse’s and ricochet’s around the room until whatever molecules make up light vanish into nothingness and a soft glow is left behind, making the darkness less terrible and the solitude a little more tolerable.

When I find no comfort in the warmth of my room, I will get out of bed and go for a walk and ponder the meaning of this world. If I’m too tired and my brain is too fried to think deeply, I will power up my aging laptop and go on YouTube to find something funny to laugh at or watch short clips of movies I used to enjoy.

I was a huge fan of the hit series “Lost” and lately I’ve been watching snippets of it on my computer. I loved that show. I still do. I mean, I loved the characters and the plots and subplots and back stories and the scenery and how the creators managed to piece everyone so perfectly together with flashbacks and flash-forwards. I miss the adventure and the soundtrack and the way Kate looked when a lock of brown hair would fall across her cute face. I love adventure and this is what the show gave me whenever I watched episode by wonderful episode. A few years ago I purchased all the seasons on DVD and I would watch them over and over again. But last year I ended up selling my precious collection for drugs when I ran out of cash.

My favorite character was John Locke. Yes he was bald and aging, crippled and crazy, but he was courageous (Just for the record I am well aware the show was purely fiction, I mean come on they were chased by a black smoke monster) and he believed in something greater than himself and when no one believed in him, he kept on truckin’ and said the hell with it. He believed he was special and he did what he had to do in order to figure out the meaning of his puny existence.

I did something like that a few months ago. I mean, I never crash landed on a cursed island with a bunch of strangers, but I did manage to get out of Dodge for a while. I dropped what I was doing, I put my life on hold and packed up my Grand Van and hit the road. I searched for the inner strength I knew resided in my heart. Although I came out wanting and poorer than I was at the start, I returned with unforgettable memories and beautiful pictures. But I did it. Some people will call it failure, and to be honest, I don’t give a damn what they think. For the first time in my own puny existence, I grabbed life by the balls and dared to do something out of the ordinary. It’s not over because as long as I remain six feet above ground my own adventure will continue, the story of my life is just beginning even though there are dark, bleak nights I feel as if the end is near.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It’s a day to spend with relatives around tables full of food, laughter, good wine and better company than ghosts on a dark night like the one I described earlier. It’s a day to crack walnuts and watch football and if you are so inclined, retreat to a small, quiet place and bow before the Lord to thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon you. But if you’re not one of the lucky ones, hell, do it anyway.

I don’t feel like a thankful person anymore. I seem to curse Him more often than not and I find myself OK with doing it. We have issues, He and I. Something tells me it will be many years before He gives me any straight answers. He remains silent to my wonderings and questions, but so be it. If it weren’t for my being mortal, I believe I could go on forever in my stubbornness until I get my well deserved answers. Yet even in my unabashed contempt, I will thank Him nonetheless, because I know there are many people who haven’t a place to spend this wonderful holiday, and when push comes to shove, He is still good to me know matter how much I bitch and moan on the inside. Have you ever felt this way?

I want to wish all of you a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving and remember that no matter how dark the night becomes, the morning will always arrive on schedule and this dear friends, is a good reason to say thanks.


Trifecta Challenge: Three copper pennies

An old man walked slowly towards the mysterious well. He carried three copper pennies representing three wishes he had been granted. Without her, riches meant nothing. Life empty, love gone, he jumped in.

 

Trifextra: week thirty-eight: write 33 words exactly about three wishes that come at a high price to the wisher.

 


Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?

 My Lord, where hast thou gone? Why hast thou hidden thy face from your broken servant? Hast thou called the heavens to block thy view from my tears? Have thou sent the winds to shield thy ears from the crying of this broken man before thee? My empty shell wanders to and fro among the earth, looking for respite from thy mighty hand. Oh Lord, my friend, where hast thou gone where I may find thee? Shall you never to answer my prayers again? Shall I be counted amongst the hopeless and lie among the dead? Where hast thou gone my beloved keeper?

The ravens fly over my head awaiting my demise; vultures wait to pick whatever remains from my soul. Will thou always be turned from my groaning? Shall my begging go unnoticed from my fellow man? Where art thou oh Lord of Hosts? Remove my sins from thy sight and restore life to my bones, have I been forgotten and stricken from thy book? Will I find refuge in cracked wineskins, or love in the arms of women?

Even the tips of my fingers ache and my feet are swollen because of my wandering. Where hast thou gone oh King of Kings? Thunder cracks and lightning shoots forth from your temple, will you not cover me in thy wings? Have I gone out from the protection of thy mercy? Are my sins to great for even you oh Lord? My spirit is crushed because of the iniquity before thee. How could thee forget thy servant? This hollow, wretched creature thy hands have made sits in stupor, and bewitched with questions too great for my own understanding. Have thou left me here in the wilderness to rot like a carcass? Heavens no!

Come to me, oh my Rock, leave me not in gloom among the dead. If thou would only grace me with thou holy finger and restore my life who would not praise you ever more? In need I come to thee, in despair I lift my eyes towards Your holy hill. My mouth has whispered wicked things; Your servant has hardened his heart in front of thy face and forgotten thee.

Like kings before me, I have forgotten the graciousness of thy arms, my head is filled with the ramblings of anarchy, my heart, full of deceit! Where hast thou gone Lord of Lords? Will thou hands stay forever over thy ears, to block out the pleadings of Your poor servant? Have I nothing left to offer thee? Cast me not into the gutters, bring me close to thy heart, and leave me not to be the scorn of my neighbors!

Who am I to approach thee with such requests? Your servant has traveled far and wide and is in need of thy merciful touch. Fill me with thy Spirit, when You look down upon the children of men, remember me, help thy pitiful creature to stand tall among giants, fill me with courage, hold me close to thee once again so I may remember what it is like to be filled with joy.

Where art thou oh Savior and who is like You? When rain crashes my dwelling place and robbers come against me, how shall I stand if thou would forget me? My tongue is burnt from the hell I spread, my mind is scorched with grief and my throat is raw from crying out to thee in the dark of night.

When I walk in the daylight, my neighbors point and stare, they hiss and laugh and forget the goodness thou hast bestowed upon them. I curse myself and hide in the hills, far from the sight of man. This place in which thou delivered me, shall I be left here like an orphan and remain alone? Where art thou Creator and where am I to go for help in my time of need? Who could deliver me from wretched poverty and agonizing loneliness except thee? Oh wretched man that I am! Who can save me from this body of death? Forget me not, oh Redeemer, come to my aid swiftly and bring thy torch to light my path once again. Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?


Road Trip: Chewbacca drinks soy milk in the Land of Enchantment

Tucumcari, N.M
Photography by Gabriel

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! Please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible! Music to read by “Return to Innocence”  by Enigma

The first thing you notice when you enter New Mexico is the sky and how the entrance to heaven must be found somewhere along its horizon. Blues mix and mingle with the greens and browns of the hilly earth. Wooden sticks with sharp barbwire zigzag across the landscape in no specific order. I assumed they marked boundaries, separating one homestead from the next. Black and brown cows litter the red ground beneath their hoofed feet.

Mirages are real. I’ve seen a few while driving down historic Route 66, but mostly in the form of Starbucks coffee. I started to lose it when I crossed over the Texas/ N.M border. When I say lose it, I mean I began to crack. I had just hit the 2,000 mile marker on my journey and the road psychosis kicked in. I started to laugh at nothing, I repeated words over and over, I made sounds like Chewbacca and at one point I pulled over to the side of a lonely road and had a conversation with a cow about the benefits of drinking soy milk. The state trooper who caught the affair was not impressed with my story and kindly asked me to get the hell out of his state and go back to New York. I looked back at the cow and she trotted away. I could have sworn she said something about eating more fiber.

I don’t know what happened to me.  When you’re on the road for long periods of time, things just mesh together. There is no rhyme or reason. When your schedule consists of nothing but survival in the great expanse of America your priorities can change. I poop in rest stops, I eat in gas stations, and I sleep in my Grand Van. I had a wonderful egg and sausage breakfast burrito while traveling through Texas the other day. I had no intention of doing so, but when I went in to pay for my gas, a young lady was in the middle of making some cowboy his breakfast. I had to have one.

It looked sumptuous, so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. This is in a Sunoco gas station, in the middle of Texas. Before leaving home, I purchased some things from a store called BJ’s…why they decided to use such a suggestive name is beyond me…but they have some really good deals. I stocked up on all sorts of goodies. My most prized is the box full of Welch’s fruit snacks I’ve been munching on for the past nine days. Southwestern cuisine is absolutely worth the drive.

Want a good lunch? Go to any Mexican taco stand or mom and pop diner and you will walk out feeling like a king (or queen) that just had a royal feast. Eggs, tortillas, salsa, cheese, more tortillas and lots of guacamole make me a happy wanderer.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel

The roads in New Mexico are endless and the earth is a rainbow of colors. It goes from brown to deep red, to lush flower fields. White rocks jut out from the sacred ground and purple mountains soar above the skyline. If you listen closely you can hear the distant rattle of a snake, if you walk a spell towards open land you can almost hear the ancients sing their sad songs. When you look at the hills, you expect to see an Indian chief standing proudly on his stallion with his tribe behind him. When I walked alongside the Rio Grande River I envisioned the first settlers panning for gold and trying to survive. If you stoop down and put your ear on the red dirt, you can almost hear buffalos stampeding.

Years ago when I was visiting Maine, I purchased some Native American music from local tribes. I still enjoy playing them from time to time. While driving down I-40 at a respectable 60 mph, I put my arm out the window and let the warm breeze rush through me. Soft flutes and melancholy drums played in the background and I imagined what it must have been like to live four or five hundred years ago, hunting for food, forging for edible plants, dodging wild animals, sleeping in tepees.

I think I would have made a good chief, or at the very least some sort of ancient journalist. I’d have my rock slab handy and my paints ready to go. I would sit and listen to young men complain about hunting and how they needed more gear. I would take time to sit with the women and listen to them whine about not having enough water or food stuffs. They would expect me to report it to the higher-ups and I would. I picture riding a horse through deserts and territories to find other tribes, so I can bring them the latest headlines.

I’ve been on the road for almost ten days now. My beard is growing in and my legs are like rubber from driving too much. I started this article two days ago. I’ve driven another seven hundred miles. I feel one with the earth, one with my driver’s seat. I am praying for guidance, wishing for answers, looking to make some sense out of this whole quest of mine. I have miles to go and many nights to sleep under the heavens.  Part of the fun of driving across country is meeting new people and hearing their stories.

I was sitting on a curb in downtown Albuquerque yesterday, listening to a few vagabonds play instruments. The girl was sweet, the guy was definitely stoned and I was sitting there enjoying the whole scene. This is what life is about I think. Sharing a few laughs with strangers over a few beers can teach you a lot about yourself. Tells you what you are made of. Tells you what’s in your heart.

The Land of Enchantment is a beautiful place filled with mysteries and ancient history. The rocks cry out and sing sad songs. The mountains stand guard over people as they sleep. The skies light up and welcome you into its presence as you make your way west.  I could have sworn I saw John Wayne standing in the distance beckoning me to give up my fears, hand over my doubts and just let go. Be blessed everyone and until next time, adios.

New Mexico
Photography by Gabriel


Road Trip: Eating Arby’s in Arkansas

Authors note: I am on a road trip across America! If you comment I will reply as soon as possible! My internet access is limited, also I had a hard time uploading pics to this particular blog so you will have to use your imagination! Enjoy!

I offer my sincerest apologies to the good people of Arkansas. While mapping out my itinerary several weeks ago, I decided to breeze through your state without looking back. Now I’m happy I stayed for a few days or else I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hike Mt. Nebo, or catch a breathtaking sunset over Little Rock as I crossed the Broadway Bridge.

Overlooking the Arkansas River and surrounding valley, Mt. Nebo rises over one thousand feet in the air. To reach the summit, you have to drive up a dozen grueling switchbacks. I love my Grand Van and I believe she loves me back, but after all the twists and turns and huffing and puffing, she was not happy with me. When we reached the top I gave her some extra coolant and patted her hood lovingly. She seemed to let it go.

When you stand on the ‘Bench Overlook’ gazebo, you notice how the earth and sky come together to form a masterpiece of unspeakable beauty. The deep blue from above collides with green from below and somehow makes everything terrible in this world seem trite and silly. To just sit and stare at creation is probably the most underrated hobby of all time. Looking over America from the top of a mountain can change your life. Or at least calm your soul and make you think about your priorities.

I was just about finished with the curly fries I purchased at Arby’s when I noticed how grand life is. Well for one thing, Arby’s should be on every street corner in this world (who doesn’t love a good roast beef and cheddar sandwich with a side of curly fries?). I’m on the open road with nothing but the wind at my back, the sun setting before me and mountains to climb on each side. I have a few bucks in my pocket and some survival gear. My camera is strapped on my shoulder and my walking stick plunges into mother earth when I swing my arms. What else can a man really ask for?

The Bench Trail is a four mile loop around the mountain which I proudly conquered in just about an hour or so. I brought along my backpack filled with random gear I probably won’t ever have to use but made me feel safe nonetheless. I’m a huge fan of Les Stroud and I watch his show Survivorman every day of my life. I wanted to be sure that if he had come along with me, he would have been proud of my pack. I took my compass, fire starters, emergency poncho, rope, bug spray, whistle, energy bars, three bottles of water and purifying tablets (just in case), some duct tape, pocket knife, extra socks, first aid kit, needle and thread, snakebite kit, maps and my notebook and pencils. Seems like a lot for such a short hike but you never know what you can encounter.

Speaking of wild encounters, the day after hiking Mt. Nebo I drove for several hours and decided to pull over for some shut-eye. I made it to a Wal-Mart parking lot and tried to rest but the heat was unbearable. All of a sudden the wind picked up and World War II broke out in the sky above me. Lightning shattered the heavens and rain pummeled my van. I was awestruck by the performance.

The next day I was speaking to one of the locals and I mentioned the storm, apparently I had caught the tail end of a tornado and never knew about it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Although I felt no fear, I would rather not be stuck in a massive tornado whilst sitting in a van. I laugh because I would have been out there with my camera lickety-split taking world-class photos and sending them to the guys and gals at National Geographic.

Once I was finished playing storm chaser, I continued my drive down I-40 into Oklahoma City where I was greeted with friendly faces and one hour parking limits. What a scam! While I am running around snapping photos and pretending to be a world traveler, I’m worried about getting a ticket. It’s the same in every major city I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed Oklahoma. Between the friendly people and Native American museums, it was a city worth checking out. Plus I always wanted to visit the OKC Memorial. I am sure most of you remember the terrorist bombing which killed many innocent people, including children. It was a sad experience. I come from New York. I understand their sorrow.

Sometimes we need to drop our guards in order to relate to one another. We put on this macho ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ façade when most of the time we’re not. Like I’ve said before, we are creatures in need of companionship. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for help. There are forces in this world that would have us believe this is a weak character trait. I think we are at our strongest when we come to the realization we need help. When we are down, the only place to look is up.

Walking along the reflecting pool, I took a moment to honor the dead and I promised God to help the living no matter what the cost. Funny isn’t it? How we say things like that. No matter what the cost…I think back on all the times I put my own comfort in front of the needs of others. This is a habit I am trying to break. We are supposed to love people. If you expect to feel love for strangers all the time you will be disappointed. This is the point I would like to make before I wrap this up; you don’t have to feel love, to show love….take it easy guys and until next time, chow.


Road Trip:The King was here.

Elvis in real life. Memphis, TN

Authors note: I am on a long distance road trip across America! If you comment and I don’t respond right away please don’t take offense! I will get back to you when I can! Enjoy!

Nashville is a happening city with BBQ joints and live music on every street corner. Proprietors sell memorabilia to eager tourists, bartenders pour shots of whiskey and Elvis could be heard in the air around me. It’s a beautiful little place with southern charm just bursting from its seams. Waiting to be explored by us New Yorkers looking for some respite from the hostile vultures up north.

I am writing to you from the Grand Van in a parking lot of a Super Wal-Mart in Arkansas.  I tell you this because I feel pity for my people back home. There is a cloud of desperation hanging over New York. I’ve been on the road a whole five days and I can already see the difference. I can feel it. Picture a stationary tornado swirling with rage and a ferocious appetite for destruction. This is New York. When you get away from the epicenter, the winds begin to calm, the sky opens, birds chirp.

Down south the sky is clear. The majority of people I have encountered so far have been a pleasure. I’m sure I will run into a few ornery people while traveling the country, but for the most part, so far, so good. I feel like chum sitting here in my van with my out-of-state tags. Just waiting for the sharks to roll in and circle me. I feel like a dopey fish that swam into the wrong end of a lagoon and will now pay the price for his stupidity. But they don’t know I have a spray can full of ArmorAll sitting next to me and I am not afraid to use it.  Who am I kidding? They would pick me off in a minute. Knowing me, I would try talking them down first and when this tactic didn’t work I’d start the van and head for God knows where, all the while throwing free stuff out the window to try and make amends.

I hope this is just another case of my imagination running amok. It tends to make mountains out of mole hills and it usually blows stuff out of proportion. Anyway, let’s get back to the story shall we?

I enjoy the slower pace and the friendly drawl of the locals. The way they tip their hats, the way they are willing to help with directions, the way women call me ‘suga’ and ‘doll’. This morning I was filling up the gas tank and when I was done, I happened to ask the nice young fella behind the counter if he knew of any good churches to attend. This being Sunday and all, I figured I would check out a service. My schedule is rather open at the moment so I took the time to listen. When I mean time, I mean twenty minutes.

I love people. But I am prone to frustration. Yet I generally love spending time with strangers because most of the time people just need an ear to listen, a kind word spoken, maybe even a pat on the back. We are creatures in need of bonding, we want to be understood and recognized. So I took the time and heard him out. I felt bad afterwards because I never actually went to service. I went to Graceland instead.

The King was here in Memphis, TN.

Many, many years ago before my father ran out of our lives, he had an obsession with Elvis, which in turn, led me to enjoy listening too. Over the years, I slowly put the king to rest. When I walked around the outside of his mansion I realized people still loved this dude. Fortunately for me I arrived during “Elvis week”. There were little shops selling souvenirs, tour buses shuttling people back and forth, cops walked up and down the boulevard, people moseyed around with mutton chops and big black glasses. To be honest I thought it all unnecessary and a bit touristy.

Then I walked the around the rock wall which guarded the mansion. Thousands of names and well-wishes were gingerly written in stone by marker, some wrote in paint. It was touching. This man brought joy to millions of people in the form of music. I think I saw someone crying about a hundred yards away. Elvis passed over thirty years ago, yet his legacy lives on. I went back to my van and sorted through my junk and pulled out a Sharpie. I wrote my name on his wall.

When I pulled the cap off my marker, I jumped head first into all the hoopla with everyone else. I felt like I was doing something grand, albeit unoriginal. This will sound corny but the whole experience was rather nice. A part of me lives just outside of Elvis’ doorstep forever. That rocks.

Tennessee is a wonderful state filled with beautiful flowers and arching mountains that appear like ancient gods bursting through the ground. While in Nashville I walked across the Cumberland pedestrian bridge and looked out across the water towards LP Field and realized how blessed I am to be able to experience such things. To be able to get up and move, to be able to read and communicate are a miracle in themselves.

When you leave your comfort zone and drive into unknown territories you will notice subtle changes around you. Landscapes, attitudes, food, weather. Yet one single, absolute truth remains; there are hurting people everywhere, they are hungry and lost and in need of friendship. They are in need of kindness.

Some kid is playing a flute about a hundred yards away from where I’m parked for the night. It’s a melancholy song but I like to think he is content. Reminds me of a guy named Ben I met while in Nashville. I had a chance to sit with this fellow wanderer and listen to him play his banjo. He too found it in his heart to leave home and travel across country. He is looking to be inspired and goes from city to city playing his music, playing his songs for free to bring happiness to others without a price tag. Sometimes we need to do things just because.

Well, my fellow bloggers and readers alike, it is late. It is hot. I am going to try and get comfy and get some shut eye. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Be safe, be blessed and until next time, chow.


Trifecta Challenge: Base jump

He watched the river slink lazily below him. To his left, a vast apple orchard dominated the landscape. To his right, wheat fields danced in the wind. He closed his eyes and jumped.

Week twenty-five challenge, write 33 words about someone who took a giant leap.  It can mean whatever you’d like, just make sure you write exactly 33 words.