Tag Archives: Motivation

Here’s to the Greatest Speech.

Trifecta week eighty-nine: Write a 33-333 word story using weak as your prompt. Authors note: Please read my story before watching the video! I do believe this old clip is one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard…it’s worth watching. 

My friend Charlie brought hope to millions that day. I call him friend but in reality we never met. I happened to be sitting a few rows behind him when he stood nervously and gave the greatest speech my ears had ever heard. Sometimes when the burden of life and lust swarm the confines of my heart I will close my eyes and think back to those years long gone, years that are dissolving from my memory like ink on paper, slowly fading with age. I smile when I picture that little fella standing on trembling knees with the courage of a lion coursing through his bloodstream.

Before entering the arena I overheard pompous aristocrats call his arguments weak and his ideals outdated. They called him foolish as they smoked their cigars and drank their brandy. They mocked his stature and with forked tongues they poked fun at his appearance.

I watched him with hope. I had just returned from the front lines and my morale was desperately low. I was tired of witnessing hatred and listening to evil men spew wickedness from the depths of their rotted mouths. He was sitting patiently for his turn to speak. His head was bowed slightly and his eyes appeared closed, as if praying for the strength to declare to the world what he felt in his soul.

My friend took the stage and silenced the naysayers. My friend walked bravely up the platform and melted the crowd with his first sentence. His words echoed out of the speakers on that crisp afternoon and if I listen hard enough I can still hear them, I can still see tears falling from blank faces, and when my memory does not fail, I can smell victory over gunpowder.


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: To become a man

I am man without order, knitted together by a perfect being without blame, without blot. A man with heart trying to remember whence he came, a courageous man without the one he loves.

 

Trifextra week: Thirty four: Describe something that is three different things at the same time.  Oh, and do it in 33 words!

 


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: 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.


Road Trip: Grease Monkeys and hot dog water.

Sometimes people ask me what I think heaven must look like. I would usually say something cliché about fluffy clouds and gold paved streets. Trees line a gurgling, crystal clear river all the way towards the Throne of God. I think there are millions upon millions of angels and departed souls singing and shouting and banging their tambourines all night long. I bet there is a never-ending buffet with all sorts of delicious foods and cocktails being served by smiling angelic beings. I am sure there are pools and flowing waterfalls, pearly gates and everlasting life. Free Starbucks for everyone. No hatred, no sadness, no greed. Eternity in a nutshell.

If you are looking for heaven on earth, I suggest driving through the Rocky Mountains. Start in Grand Junction, Co and drive West on I-70 for two hundred and seventy something miles. I can assure you its rugged cliffs and dragon like scales jutting out from earth will leave you in an ethereal state of mind. Streams of water cascade down from the mountains and flow over rocks and around tree stumps, horny squirrels mate under the shade of small bushes. Blue skies and wild flowers put the whole picture in a frame to hang on your wall. I’m sure I saw the ghost of Bob Ross sitting quietly on a boulder with his easel and paints talking to himself. I could be wrong because I was too busy keeping an eye on the road. My brakes were making funny noises, I was sure the oil was depleted because I couldn’t get the Grand Van to go over fifty.

Before I left New York, I had some “mechanic” at Wal-Mart change the oil on my ride. He told me there could be a minor leak. There was no leak. He didn’t help the situation either. I know nothing about cars except changing a flat or putting in water or Antifreeze. I can turn the key and put the transmission in drive if I have to. I know how to screw on a bolt. He does not. He put the oil pan bolt on crooked or something along those lines.

While chugging up a hill towards Frisco, I was too concerned with conking out and careening down the side of a cliff to really enjoy the scenery around me. I figured this is where the rich and famous hung out yadda, yadda, yadda. All the pretty people gather here and drink champagne and toast their millions, blah.

Anyway, I entered the fairytale town with gusto and a resolve to get my baby fixed. Found a cool little auto shop called the Grease Monkey and was greeted by a friendly chap who was in the process of helping some other wanderer. I always feel a bit foolish when it comes to mechanical stuff, even more so when the person is trying to explain things to me. I just stand there with my hands in my pockets, shaking my head up and down like I have any clue as to what’s being told to me. The nice guy started telling me about bolts and pans and what have you, I smiled and agreed. I think he knew I was clueless.

It was a bit chilly in between the mountains, so I grabbed my Orange County Choppers hoodie and walked a spell while my van was attended to. It’s August, but everyone in town was wearing long-sleeved shirts and some wore winter hats (a little too much in my opinion). Before I walked away, I grabbed a bottle of water from my cooler and took a nice, long chug to quench my parched throat.

Now, two days earlier I had cooked some Franks over an open fire and thought I had secured the rest of the dogs in plastic wrap. I was wrong. The bag of hot dogs mixed and mingled with the melted ice to create a lovely aroma of, I don’t know, crap. Unbeknownst to me, I grabbed an open bottle of H20. The juice invaded my Poland Springs and ruined the whole experience. I spit it out when I realized I had been poisoned by my own ineptitude. Some of the locals watched with fiery indignation and turned their snooty noses in the air. Even pet dogs turned their snouts skywards, dreadful New Yorker how dare he!

I don’t have much to say lately. To tell you the truth, I’ve been on edge the last few days because I’m in a rather interesting quandary. I won’t get into specifics, but I hope everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Let the wind take me where it wants, keep my eyes on the prize and move forward. When you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, your body kicks into survival mode and everything around you moves outside of time. I think I lost it a bit yesterday, but it’s all part of the adventure. When you leave the comfort of a home for the great outdoors, or a van, you tend to remember how blessed you are.

The past seventy-two hours have tested and tried my mind and soul. I may have snapped, but I believe in that old saying, whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. My apologies to the people who had to listen to me complain, thank you for hearing me out. Thank you for being there.


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.


Road Trip: My Intensive Care.

Me and the Shenandoah Valley.

On August 1st, 2012 I walked out of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the last time. It was my home for the past three years. I was sure the outside world had changed drastically since entering the insidious institution of sorrow, that mammoth structure filled with sporadic acts of selfless bravery I have never encountered before. I have seen the sick be made well, watched families unite and grudges forgotten. I look forward to exploring the brave world of the half living.

It’s very serious up there in the I.C.U. When I walked the circular corridors I looked into the eyes of the dying and wondered which dimension beckoned their souls, I pondered the state of their hearts. Nursing staff ran to and fro delivering medications or cleaning any of the three major fluid groups; urine, blood or stool. I am not a morbid person I can assure you. I just try to give you the facts.

You can see death you know. It starts by taking the color from your skin, leaving it grey and pasty. It slithers into the whites of your eyeballs and casts a sickly yellow film over your pupils. Mouths open slightly, breaths come out slower. You can hear death too. The Reaper takes its smoky hand and grabs hold of your esophagus, allowing only whispers to escape your lips, until you slowly fade into the light. In some dimension far beyond the sight of men, your spirit exits and enters some sort of Twilight Zone even Rod Serling would be proud to call his own.

I was tired of it all.

So, I left the madness, the alarms, the codes, the elevators. Have I mentioned the blood and the stool? One cannot stress this point enough. Give a patient a bottle of Jevity and just watch the gastrointestinal system do its job. For those of you not in the know, it’s basically chocolate milk pumped into your stomach by a machine to keep you from starving to death while you are in a medically induced coma.

This past Wednesday morning, I woke up to the sounds of an electronic rooster screaming in my ear and I walked out on my past life. Months of worry, weeks of preparation and hours of anxiety, all came to a head when I started my Grand Van and pulled out of the gravel driveway.

It’s a funny feeling to just get up and leave everything behind. Luckily for me I never procreated or bought land to tend to, so I am able to throw caution to the wind and try something new. Yes, I had a good job for several years. I will eventually find new employment and get back to the grind and all that balderdash, but for now I need to be inspired. I need to dream. I want to explore paths less traveled. Walk where only a few brave men and women have dared. See what this beautiful country has to offer before I go stark raving mad just trying to survive.

After twenty bucks and a pinky finger later, I crossed the threshold into Jersey and headed south on Interstate 95. I screamed and pounded the roof of my van and sang along to whatever song was playing. Freedom is such a beautiful concept and I guess I never really knew what the term meant. I have no home. My money is tight (what else is new). Everything I own in this world I crammed into the van, and to be honest with you, I feel it’s too much. Stuff, stuff, stuff. We accumulate all this crap and for what?

Driving south on I-95 I was filled with both excitement and sorrow. Excitement in knowing I am living out my destiny. This is what I was supposed to do. This is why I was created. Oh, I don’t know, I just have this grandiose idea about writing a novel and inspiring others, and in order for me to accomplish this I have to walk out on life and go across country like Jeremiah Johnson or something. I am sorrowful because I leave a wonderful family behind. I am skipping out on time with good friends, leaving loved ones is a hard thing to do.

Have you ever had a burning in your heart to do something? Ever feel the Spirit leading you into an unknown direction? What did you do with it? Did you let the dream simmer and spoil or did you take hold of the reigns and put courage before your fears? I believe the key to a successful life is not in your wallet, nor your head, but in your heart. Set out to do something wonderful today even if it is terrifying. The harder resistance, the more important it is.

I feel this way about my own journey. I have a destination, Colorado, what will I do when I get there? I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I am walking by faith because I haven’t a leg to stand on.

Anyway, back to my road trip. My first major stop was our beloved capitol Washington D.C, where I spent most of my time worrying about feeding the meters so no one towed my mobile home. I was a bit disappointed for not staying longer, but I had a chance to catch a few sights before tucking tail and heading further away from home.  I stood outside the White House and waited patiently for my invite, when the president came out to greet us he noticed me and graciously invited me in for tea and strumpets. I asked him about gas prices and how we were doing on the whole economy thing. The Secret Service kicked me out once I started a fight over who had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this year. I still say Jets. He is obligated to say the Ravens. Whatever, come playoffs, he’s going to owe me a lot of money. I think he cursed at me as I was being shoved out of the Oval Office. I let it go.

Virginia is a beautiful state filled with rolling green hills and sporadic homesteads. The Shenandoah Valley opens up before you like a fairytale. When you drive through Shenandoah National Park, you are greeted with numerous overlooks and friendly faces. I wish you can all see it once before you leave this earth. As you climb in altitude, the scenery intensifies and brings you closer to heaven.

I will end this article now because I don’t want to overload you with too much information. I have driven almost eight hundred and fifty miles in the last two days, so I am about tapped in the energy department.  As I sit here in this small, rundown hotel (one where they don’t give you free toiletries mind you) just outside of Knoxville, I bid you all a goodnight. Tomorrow will bring more mystery and exploration and I can’t wait to share the journey with you. Set out to do something noble today. You may be surprised who you inspire.

P.S- If you are in Knoxville, do yourself a favor and stop by Marlin & Rays seafood joint for some good food and wonderful hospitality. Southern girls make you feel right at home.


Bombs bursting in air.

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

Next month I am leaving my home to journey across America. I am packing up my minivan and hitting the proverbial road. Words cannot fully describe the multitude of emotions I feel over this quest of mine. It’s hard to believe I’m finally doing it. With nothing but a few bucks in my pocket and some prayers floating around the stratosphere, I am leaving all which is dear to me. I am leaving all that is familiar. I hate to use the caterpillar analogy because it’s a little girly and I don’t want to mention snakes shedding skin because, well, I don’t want to compare myself to a slithering serpent, but I will come out of this trip a new person. Cloaked with vigor, I will make my mark on history. Like fireworks exploding on a warm Fourth of July night, I will break free from my former self and shine brightly among the stars.

I can give you my itinerary, I can point out the special places I want to visit, I can even give you names of the soup kitchens I plan on dining in, but I can only speculate as to where this uncharted road will lead me and how long it will take to write a book about it all. Unfortunately, life never dances to the beat of our drums. We just skip along to whatever track is being played and learn to deal with it. I will play the role of Columbus for a short while. With a pen behind my ear and a compass beside my stale coffee, I will draw squiggly lines to and fro like I know what I’m doing. I will drive in awe of my beautiful country and appreciate the wonderful freedom I usually take for granted.

I wonder what it will be like to stand in the center of Washington D.C and marvel at the architecture. I try to imagine what it will be like to drive through the bowels of the Shenandoah Valley. I can picture the rolling hills giving birth to mountain ranges, which spew forth hot desert sands. Miles of open road slice through the landscape like a tongue from some ancient beast. The monster opens wide his mouth and reveals a great mystery. One I will have to take on headfirst with all my strength, with all my heart. After checking in on Elvis and his Heartland, I will cruise along the open highway with my hand outstretched to catch the wind. I will sing-along with Fleetwood Mac and the ever lovely Stevie Nicks.  Once blood clots begin to form in my legs, I’ll pull over on some deserted highway to take pictures of cacti and the vultures above me.  They will lick their beaks and watch me closely. The birds will be disappointed. I will not fear because I have a slingshot and I’m not afraid to use it.

I wrote the first draft of this article last night around midnight. Now it is early morning on the Fourth of July. I love waking up at seven o’clock on my day off, nothing like sitting around for a few hours waiting for the rest of the world to arise from deep sleep. So, I make the best of it by consuming two bowls of Lucky Charms while walking around the house in my robe pretending to be some rich lord from Ireland fending off wicked little leprechaun’s from stealing my bowl of sugary goodness. Actually I am sitting here trying to come up with something funny, and engaging to keep you guys from leaving my page in search of something better. I wouldn’t blame you because searching is the fundamental nature of our lives. It’s what drives us to wake up each morning and seize the day with tenacity. I guess this is why I have decided to leave.

As I sit here and watch the rain slowly drip from the iron handrail outside, I contemplate the beauty of the Grand Canyon and everything I will discover along the way. People will laugh and call me foolish, and even now there are people standing beside me who have doubted this trip from the start. But I tell you this, we are not all called to do the same thing.  Some cuckoo birds weren’t meant to be caged. I hope all of you enjoy your Independence Day. Long live Liberty! Long live Freedom!

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel