Tag Archives: pictures

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.


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.


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: 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.


Dancing in dress pants.

Photography by Gabriel

I watched cigarette smoke ascend above the people sitting at the grass skirted tiki bar. Their mellow chit-chattering floated alongside the visible cloud of death swirling about. When the smoke crossed paths with the neon bar signs, it became even more ominous looking. Violent reds and deep blues gave life to the straw carpet holding up the roof. I sipped my beer and headed for safer territory, you never know when some fool will toss a smoke and boom.

Classic rock poured forth from massive speakers standing erect on a platform about a hundred feet from where I stood. The humidity had dissipated before I arrived leaving the atmosphere ripe with shenanigans and revelry. People danced and stumbled, laughed and whistled. Fake palm trees vibrated due the entire environment around them and swayed in the warm July night.

It was a pleasant evening chock full of really loud conversations with friends and random beautiful women on the prowl. Luckily for them I’m a decent conversationalist. Even if I managed to bore them, I would just ask them to wait a tick while I jotted down something witty on paper. Hopefully keeping their attention long enough before they started looking around, and making up fictitious stories in order to walk away, leaving your heart in a puddle of old beer on the floor.

Actually to tell you the truth, I managed to do what I always do when I go to clubs. Stand around looking cool with my slicked back hair and dress pants, not really knowing what the heck else to do. I suck in my gut and stand there like an idiot in front of beautiful women, bobbing my head back and forth and maneuvering around everyone else. All the while trying not to lose my buddies and offend someone by stepping on their toes in the process.

I very rarely go to clubs (give me a little pub, or a nice restaurant any day of the week. Good food and normal speaking levels.) so please don’t judge. Anyway, it was good times and worth it, even if I felt older than I should have.

On we go.

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog (shame to you!) I am packing up my meager belongings and moving in a few weeks. My destination is far-away and full of mysteries to great for my mind to fully comprehend. Oh, I know where I would like to end up, where I think I am supposed to go, and in all probability will live.

But like many instances in my short life, I will walk with one eye on the pavement and the other looking towards heaven. Hoping the Big Man upstairs really has a plan, because quite frankly, I haven’t the slightest idea of what I am doing.

Le Ninja
mhdezign.com

Please don’t be alarmed. I am prepared for this journey and have been for several weeks now. It wasn’t until I started packing tonight when it hit me full force though. I felt like a ninja threw his fist into my rib cage and then round-housed my face with his tiny foot, sending me into a wild somersault over books and balled up Christmas lights, at which point I cry out like a walrus giving birth. Yes, this is what it will feel like when East meets West in a showdown for the ages.

This is why I had to deal with so much growing up as a kid I think. The war I’ve waged and the battles I’ve fought these past few years have helped me understand the meaning of endurance and the reason for tribulations. One must learn how to serve before they can lead. Who knows? This is all too wonderful for my mind to understand, for my imagination to concoct.

I don’t have much to say tonight. Except this, sometimes God will put His hands together and reach out to split the proverbial storm, to touch us on the shoulder and leave us with moments of pure happiness. This is how my evening ended. This is how I will end this ridiculous post. Until next time my friends, peace.


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


Friday Night Follies: With apologies to Steve Buscemi

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

June is a fun month filled with frumpy old men mowing lawns, ice cream trucks selling frozen sugar on sticks, children hurling water balloons at unsuspecting victims and sporadic oppressive heat waves which make me want to crawl up in a cool cave somewhere until it blows over. I don’t actually want to sleep in a cave I just thought it went nicely with the rest of the sentence. For the better part of my life I preferred the brisk air of winter but after several weeks of shoveling slush I long for springs resurrecting touch when trees rain down pollen and sprinklers waste drinkable water hosing down sidewalks and everything else except our grass. After summer bumps spring out of the picture for awhile we look forward to fireworks and  and laughter of good friends cracking expensive beer and throwing away perfectly good chicken thighs because one or two managed to hit the ground. I don’t know what the big fuss is about they are perfectly edible. I love how the sun ricochets of the tops of barbecues while hotdogs burn and cheese melts underneath its scorching roof. Dogs barking in the distance. Kids jumping in pools. More ice cream being sold. More water wasted. It is a wonderful time to relax on our loungers and fall asleep while trying to catch some sun before it retreats behind the surface of the earth. Make sure you set an egg timer or something you really don’t want to burn.

After a few weeks of humidity and eating macaroni salad people start complaining about the heat. I am grateful to have lived with all four seasons. Funny how we grumble when the sun scorches us, we moan when frosty sneezes and turns the earth into a frozen wasteland, we can never seem to get our stories straight. June clouds remind me of Florida. At the risk of sounding corny I would say they are happy clouds. Bright and puffy, like someone took a bag of marshmallows and put it in a microwave for thirteen minutes and waited for it to explode in one cataclysmic orgy of white froth. It’s a good time to be young and single with my kick-ass van and a full tank of gas. I don’t know little things make me happy, even if only for a moment. The road before me holds mysteries too great for me to know, and the clouds which I spoke so highly of, hang high above me as if to protect my noggin from unseen pieces of space junk. The Mets game screeches from my radio, I think someone hit a home run but I’m not sure it could have been an advertisement for suntan lotion or a million other trinkets one needs to survive summertime madness. Fly swatters, for instance, can be extremely valuable, especially if you neglect to eat the rest of your rice pudding. American flags to show your patriotism, music to cleanse your soul and pictures to capture memories in the making and remind us of summers long gone and those yet to come. Some of us remember the intimate moments spent under a warm night sky with a girlfriend. Remembering how her eyes glowed, like two emeralds sitting among diamonds. Hair falls softly over her face in one poetic motion.  Yeah, June is a good month with family birthdays and calming breezes.

I had the pleasure to watch a friend of mine play softball yesterday. She executed perfectly on both sides of the ball, even did a little line judging. I sat in the bleachers with sweat dripping from my snoopy-like nose and watched grown adults run around a field of dirt trying to prove something. I rather enjoyed sitting there with Bella hanging off my neck and you can refresh those naughty thoughts because Bella is my camera. Looking at the perfectly manicured lawn and towering spot lights I began to ponder why we all run in circles. Like a bunch of nuts in a Marx Brothers short, we play games to impress other people. We sit in bleachers and watch live competitions to ignite something within ourselves. We watch parades to inspire our sense of community. We ramble on blogs so someone will notice.  We just keep on running around the mountain till someone comes along to make us stop acting like puppets, little puppet people playing with puppets. I want to find the puppeteer, push him aside and cut the strings attached to my own back and make my own kind of music. When you are a part of something bigger than yourself, like these ball players, you gain a sense of belonging in a world so bent on pushing people away. I thought about all this and watched some old guy on the opposing team hit a pop up and run for all he was worth. I think I heard a knee pop before the ump called him out at first. It’s great how we all come together and just run in circles. I am in need of a new track to sprint around because this one has become worn and nonproductive.

Steve Buscemi in Grown Ups
Happy Madison Productions 2010

Other than watching Grown Ups for the first time and finding it extremely comical, I had no real explanation for putting this photo in the article. But if you look closely it really does have the capacity to put a smile on your face so maybe I did it on purpose. I like Buscemi because he’s brilliant plain and simple.  I appreciate talent when I see it and this guy has proven himself multiple times over. Whether playing gangster or jokester, Steve makes watching movies a little less of a burden because you can only expect the best. Only two actors can do this. The other is Nicholson. Anyway, I hope all of you enjoying this heat wave stay calm and cool. Stop trying to run circles around everyone and everything. You will only tire yourself out and if you do, you will never make it to home plate. Cheers.


To live a better story.

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Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

            At some point during the night, the Spirit led me towards a foggy shoreline blanketed with smooth grey and white stones which filled the apple of my eye for as far as I could dare to see. A silence of biblical proportions swept over this dream and yet the only sound which could be heard was of tide gently slapping rocks beneath my feet. Horrific clouds reached for miles above me and stretched the width of many great nations before cracking open and releasing wave after wave of life giving water to the parched earth on which I stood like a pawn waiting to be moved by forces unseen. The darkness came, the earth stood still, I looked for cover and waited for an eruption of light to come screaming down from the netherworld to vanquish evil once, for all always. But everything remained still. The nothingness continued.

I thought it might be considered, by some, to be quite presumptuous of me to post multiple articles in a relatively short time period but I began to ponder who I thought I was to contend with the winds of inspiration and challenge its’ coming and going and just be grateful the words entered my heart in the first place. Whenever the poetic strings are plucked it would be to my advantage to heed the song and yet resisting these moments of creativity could in fact alter future endeavors I would wish to undertake with my pen and pad, actually, I loathe writing longhand but respect people who prefer to use this method to get their individual thoughts and ideas down. I have a tendency to get easily distracted and longhand makes writing more difficult because I have to center most of my short attention span on spelling and staying between the lines. Suffice to say I shall stick with my laptop and the Microsoft Word program installed within.

A good story is concocted deep inside the inner most chambers of a creative heart before working its way to the imagination where the fine tuning begins. Letters are pumped through the blood stream until they morph into words which other people will be able to recognize once you jot them down. Writing must come from the heart or else you run the risk of failing to keep your audience interested and, ultimately, inspired and this is, for all intent and purposes, the very reason we write in the first place. When my stomach begins twisting for food my first instinct is to make a sandwich and yet when I do it turns out to be anticlimactic because I fail to put the heart behind what I choose to consume. I despise cooking so whatever I make turns out to be nothing short of tasteless.

Donald Miller writes like this. After reading his book “A million miles in a thousand years” for the third time this year, I have grown to admire this man and the words which he uses to describe life and the pursuit of something more than just everyday mediocrity. He brings us on a journey based on his attempt to live a better story by walking in faith and partially by sight, and challenges us to step out and live extraordinary lives. Donald writes, “I’ve wondered if one of tImagehe reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don’t want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgement. We don’t want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn’t remarkable, then we don’t have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants.”  He goes on to discuss what he calls “inciting incidences” and describes it as possible life changing events. Don said “Great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.” He gives us a few examples in this excellent read on how he caused a chain reaction which affected the lives of everyone he came in contact with. He hiked the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu to capture the heart of a young woman he was trying to court. He biked from Los Angeles to Washington D.C with fifteen other adventurers in order to bring awareness to the suffering of the world, and in the process change his own personal story so it would reflect outwards to reach a wider audience of people stuck in the traffic of life. He brings wit and humor to the table once again for people like me who need an inciting incident to kick-start the story I know is living inside of me waiting to be printed and bounded in all its coolness. I am going to end this blog with an excerpt from Donald’s book and I implore you to get in your car and go pick up a copy I promise it will be money well spent. Until next time, adios!

A good storyteller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.”


Triton in the Sky.

Triton in the Sky.

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

As the result of unseen cosmic earthquakes beyond the clouded barrier, the sky cracked open with a flash and tossed the sea to and fro allowing both wind and reed to interlock in a perpetual battle for the ages.