To my dearest sister

Remember those times when we picked the eyeballs out of locust? Remember when I blamed you for drawing with crayons all over the closet walls? Or did you blame me? Remember the hole in the wall from the recorder? Remember front porch sitting and talking all night long? Remember carting kids to the beach? Remember the aquarium trips? Do you remember Meatloaf and Nashville (That was an EPIC night). Does your butt itch? 'Cause mine does. Yes, we had a few rocky spans of time, but hey, we are all human. All in all, we have a rock solid relationship, I know I can tell you anything. Anything! And you only tell Mom some of it :) And you know I am always here for whatever you need. I wish I could be there for your birthday, to give you a big hug and say, "Thank you." Thank you for being a wonderful sister, friend, front porch buddy, my favorite front porch buddy. Thank you for having such a wonderful family and all that you do for them. So... Have a... 1. wonderful 2. awesome 3. epic 4. super 5. kick ass 6. crazy cool 7. supercalifragilistic 8. beautiful 9. gorgeous 10. relaxing ...day. Make it count and have a happy happy birthday! All my love!

Sober

I haven't shaved in 22 days. The facial hair is past the itchy stage except for the few mustache(ish) hairs that twice a day decide to tickle my lips. I just brush them out of the way and carry on. They say that facial hair grows faster when you think about sex all the time. I suppose that's why I don't have a full beard or anything like that, it's more like brown fuzz on my face. Three months ago, stranded in an airport bar in Phoenix, AZ, I bought a drink for a lady standing next to me. Both of us were waiting for a flight to different destinations. In the random of the world, turns out, we had mutual acquaintances. Small world. She called me last week, she needed a favor. I executed. After the "use me" conversation was complete, we decided to stay in touch with travel plans and meet up soon for a drink in a random airport. Random airport. Who the fuck does that? My bags are always packed, always ready to go, but 22 days no shave, 3 months later? And I think I'm wearing dirty socks since the dog has done a real good job of finding all the clean ones. But in the end, it's just a drink. And a drink is just a drink. And dinner is just dinner. Why is it so hard to relay to people that most things in life, well, they don't have strings. Even if you admit that you would like strings. Ten things are 10 things.

Oh the hats in Chi – happy new year

The beginning. Pajama party. The end. 2013. You have been good to me. Challenging. But good. Thank you 2013. Dear 2014, you better be fucking amazing. And epic. And completely amazing. And epic. My third year in Chi for New Years, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's snowing out, the air is thick with alcohol. It's New Year's! It's a stay in party. An all week prep for a warm cozy night with old friends and new friends, all good friends. I love this crowd. Especially when they put up with my southern ways. What a spread. The food, simply amazing. The wine. The beer. The whiskey (see, they do know the southern boy). North side Chi-town hardwood floors. Perfectly cleaned with love and elbow grease. The reward. Purple Cowboy! The whole place smelled of heaven. It's the end of the year. It's actually an end to a lot more. It's a start of a new year. A start of a new adventure. They say you can either sink or swim. And I say that you cannot do either if you don't get in the water. So I jump in. My life is changing drastically in the next few weeks, and in times like these, traditions of being with true friends as the ball drops, yeah - that's what keeps me alive and awake. He drinks a whisky drink The future is not always certain. But I do know that the days will march on. And if I choose to not react and simply let time fly by. And if I choose to have no passion. And if I choose to be in the audience rather than the show. Well, then. Fuck me, I'm screwed. He drinks a vodka drink People are real. I swear. Cross my heart. I just found out myself, therefore will completely understand if you have a hard time believing me. Really, they are living and breathing the same air as you. Even in 3D (without any special glasses), which is pretty cool if you ask me. But because of this, it also means they can get hurt. Which also means that they will bleed. It can happen. He drinks a lager drink Men shoveling snow. It's still snowing. Are you chasing your tail? Is anything ever complete? Back home it is leaves. Do I rake every time a leaf falls or do I wait until they are all laying dead on the ground.  If you wait, will the sun melt the snow, the wind blow the leaves away. I don't have time to wait. It must be now. He drinks a cider drink Smile. Do you know how fucking much it means to someone when you smile at them. Even if it's just a friendly passing smile in the airport. There's energy. Compassion. Love. A simple "Hey, how are you.?" Get your heads out of your text message. In person. Be there. In the NOW! He sings the songs that remind him I think this year has taught me one big lesson Love me, hate me, I don't care. But regardless, I will love you in some capacity. I've had the deepest conversations with people I had never met before. Partially because I just wanted to talk. Something on my mind. I'll never see them again, so what does it matter. I no longer believe in bull shit. Let it come out. You have friends and family when it becomes a life issue. But really, who is to say that a random stranger can't offer another view point that opens up the reality and help. Unbiased. Honest. True. Brutal sometimes. Of the good times Southern comfort. Some nights. I count my blessings every day that I wake up in a bed. And every cup of coffee I pour myself. And every pair of jeans I pull over my tired feet. He sings the songs that remind him Maybe I don't have the best plan. But I have a plan. And that plan is to work hard and play hard. And worker harder. And I refuse to go down without trying. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And one day... Of the better times The year 2014 will not be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But. It will be real. And real is what I want. Need. Crave. So here's my real. Right in front of me. And I cannot do this without family and friends. Those that listen to my crazy ideas and support me. They may not believe in ny ideas, but they believe in me. It's balls to the wall. It's try to keep up or I'll leave you in my dust. To the hats in Chi, I love you. I live on the edge of insanity. You put up with me. I may act irresponsible. I'm the most grounded person you will probably ever meet. I got this shit. Yes, I fuck up often. I'll admit that when it happens. I'm out there. Trying. For me. If you want to go for a ride, hop in. Cheers & Happy New Year, Me (10)

Push

Ten minutes until the next train. Silence in the station. That guy over there, probably just looking to get out of the elements. The lady with the stroller, gently rocking it back and forth as her child gently sleeps. Her, fashion diva, long thin legs decked out in matte black boots. Him, his suit without a wrinkle, perfectly done bow tie. And then it came. The train. Air rushing out of the tunnel, first barely a breeze. Then whipping to hurricane like forces as the train nears. Push. Push the air. Steel beast guided by tracks that feed the heartbeat of the city. Push the air out of the confines of the hole you speed through. The hole carved out of stone. Blue sparks light the darkness as you rush to stop. I step onto your floor and you push again. But now I am inside and can no longer feel your power. Only the gentle rocking, like I am in the stroller. And the silence becomes the click clack of your wheels on the rails. And the air you push touches someone else at the next station.

Send Mary to Paris

Mary, you have certainly rocked the world with your words. We met in NYC (sort of... virtually), you wrote It's snowing in New York and I read your words while stuffed into a small hotel room somewhere around 22nd and 6th ave. And trying not to wake my roommate, I snuck outside only to return back to my room having not seen the snow. And then I wrote back. And fell off to dream land. And woke up in the morning to snow in New York. And I've read every word since. And today... well, I read The Paris Promise, and by gosh by golly, I think you should go. So. What I propose is that you have a world wide campaign to send you to Paris and the only thing the world will ask for in return is for lovely pictures on your blog and the wonderful words you share with us. So Mary, set up a PayPal account or something, because I'm challenging the world to make sure you celebrate your 30th in Paris. Because we want to hear your words tell us all about Paris. And to quote you, "As long as I am choosing life, and honoring my passions and keeping my dreams alive and not stifled, I don’t think I can really go wrong." I hope to travel to Paris through the wonderful words you write. I will personally contribute to your Paris fund and I hope everyone that reads this will as well. It doesn't have to be a huge amount, a few dollars each and we get to experience Paris through Mary's eyes. And wonderful words. Cheers!

This doesn’t suck

What happens when you step onto a 45' cat with 8 people you don't know and sail close to 100 miles in a week off the coast of a country roughly the size of New Hampshire? "This doesn't suck" "...isn't fun the best thing ever?" "Everything that kills me... makes me feel alive" "Has anyone ever seen a baby pigeon in NYC?" Destination, off the coast of Placencia in the Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America. Except for the first day and last day of my ten day escape, there was no internet, no phone, no television; my virgin unplug from the world exercise. I am often criticized for traveling alone. It's not safe. You will be lonely. What if something happens to you? None of these are true. Although a guy I met at the airport waiting for my return flight described Belize City as a shit hole, Placencia, on the other hand, was full of laid back wonder and amazement. And I met many awesome people. From Ana at Laru Beya where I stayed the first and last night who is now a texting friend (think old school pen pals) to Charlie. She was from Whales and staying at Toms Cove for three weeks for advanced dive certifications and gave me the biggest hug when I left in the dinghy and she completed final checks of her gear before embarking on her first ever night dive. Of course there was Captain David and First Mate Patries. Their expert sailing experience saved us from a late night storm that caused our anchor to lose hold. We were heading straight for the reef. I'm not sure how they were able to navigate and reset the anchor in the pitch black night with 40 mph wind and pouring rain, but they did, and I'm still here to tell the story. I cannot forget my sailing mates. Todd and Rhonda, Wes, George and Diane, and Jim. We stepped on the boat at 5 PM Saturday and by Sunday morning, after the first night on the boat, had a well oiled machine of social interaction and fun. The problem, though, is that so much happened. I set out to, as I typically do, with the plan to blog about everything. The problem? I can't. I can't find the words. I've talked to a few people, I've shared the photos with my kids. But every time, another story comes to mind. I went camera crazy during the beginning of the trip, but as the week went on, I found myself taking fewer and fewer pictures. I started to breathe slower, I started to observe more. While I came back with over 1000 photos, they were whittled down to a little over 400. Every one of them has a story. I was disappointed in most of the underwater ones, not sure what happened to the settings on my camera this time. Even the ones that did turn out decent will never capture the true beauty. The 64 million shades of blue. The way the sky blends into the water. The rich purples of fan coral. The blues and yellows of trigger fish. Only the naked eye can truly see the colors, your Retina display has nothing on what I saw! The best I can do is to share a few memorable experiences of the thousands I had. 1. I swam with sharks. Nurse sharks to be exact. Yes, I had a few irregular gasps for air in the snorkel at first, but after that, seeing them glide under me so gracefully, it was relaxing. My mask has prescription lenses in it, but they are not exact, so my depth perception in the water is a little off. I found out after we were out of the water that the depth was only 4-5 feet and those sharks, yeah, a foot below me. 2. Eagle rays are magnificent creatures. Six foot wingspan gliding right under me, I could feel the push of the water. 3. Sea to table. Harvesting conch which turned into the 1st course for dinner as conch ceviche. 4. Eating the conch "nerve" which legend has it, is a natural Viagra. This turned into "Oh Patries, I'm feeling a little frisky" and a great laugh for everyone on board. 5. Intro dive. In 40 feet of water, I made it to a depth of 2 feet. Time for certification this year for sure. 6. Lion fish are invading the reef, eating everything and laying 20,000 eggs every 4 days. Polly, who owns and manages Tom's Cove has a license to spear them. Lion fish ceviche rocks as did the snook and coconut rice pilaf she served on Wednesday night. 7. I missed the boat. Well, the dinghy. Stepping from the cat to the dinghy, yeah, a really good miss as I went straight into the water. I was laughing so hard that I couldn't lift myself out of the water into the dinghy. No one let me live that down and I was asked numerous times to provide demonstrations for boarding a dinghy. 8. Night swimming. I will not reveal whether I had clothes on or not. 9. Night snorkeling. Splashing the water to see the phytoplankton light up and millions of baby fish swimming about. I was asked on numerous occasions to get out of the water and go to bed. I could not get enough of it. 10. You may think taking a walk in the park holding hands is romantic. Nah! Try holding hands "taking a walk" on water, uh, snorkeling. Where burping in your snorkel is OK and blowing boogers into the water after your "walk" is acceptable. All while having garlic breath after a yummy lunch. Yeah, the next person who is lucky enough to go out on a date with me... this is your warning! I came back. I came back alive. I was extremely land sick. It is a true thing that happens. Even a week later, I still cannot close my eyes in the shower without feeling like I'm going to fall down. I also came back having had time to think. Reaching inner peace as the boat rode gentle 12 foot swells on the open ocean. But the strangest thing that I came back with is that every single magical moment I experienced, I kept saying to myself, "She would love this!" She would love the open water and beautiful blues, the black of the night and the rays dancing on the water at sunrise. The gentle rocking of Mother Nature. "Lately I been, I been losing sleep Dreaming about the things that we could be But baby I been, I been prayin' hard Said no more counting dollars We'll be counting stars" ~ OneRepublic, Counting Stars "Sail away with me honey I put my heart in your hand Sail away with me honey now, now, now Sail away with me, what will be will be I wanna hold you now, now, now" ~ David Gray, Sail Away "When you're happy like a fool Let it take you over When everything is out You gotta take it in" ~ OneRepublic, Good Life "And I drink to that." ~ Rihanna, Cheers (Drink to That) The photo albums: Belize 2013

44 hours

Wednesday 14:35 AST - Who was the munchkin head that booked this travel? Ponce is two hours from San Juan. By cab. 75 miles. $135 plus a tip. Oops! Thank god I didn't have to ask the cabbie to stop so I could pee. But good things come out of everything. My cabbie invited me over to his house for breakfast if I called him for my return trip to San Juan. Things you shouldn't do while traveling? Probably! I tend to trust cabbies with my life even though I hate not being in control of a vehicle moving 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. No matter where I am. But especially when we are navigating through [gorgeous, lush] mountainous terrain. I did get a glimpse of The Teats of Cayey... sexy... Cayey is known as "La Ciudad del Torito" (town of the little bull) and "La Ciudad de las Brumas" (city of the fog). Her peaks are nice. Time to move on. As we drove [ridiculously fast] south, the terrain became more arid, almost desert like and reminded me of Aruba. Are we there yet? cayeylg Wednesday 16:30 AST - Welcome home for 40 hours of my 44 hours in Puerto Rico. Where's the rum? Ah, shit. I have a conference call to attend to. And then actual work to do? That's all right in my book. These working conditions are much better. The beauty of being remote is that my office is determined by "is there internet?" All these years of complaining/wishing/hoping for an *ideal* climate of 70's at night and 80's by day is answered yet again. Put the lime in the coconut! Thursday 06:45 AST - Good morning.  Should I lace this cup of coffee with rum? No, work to do first, then hit downtown for a little sight seeing and then back to work before painting the town after dinner. Thursday 12:05 AST - Break from work. I asked the hotel to call a cab and take me downtown. "We don't recommend our guests go downtown during Justas." I had to ask and found out that it's spring break for Ponce University. Mardi Gras times 10. OK, you just made me want to go even more by telling me that you do not recommend it. In the cab I go. Thursday 12:25 AST - It's raining cats and dogs so I duck into a New York style pizza joint for a slice and to wait out the rain. What? NY pizza in the islands? Hey, a boy has to eat and it was the closest escape from the rain. Once it cleared up, I roamed around being the tourist and snapping pictures. The architecture is absolutely lovely. I just love this shot. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thursday 14:29 AST - Back to the hotel to work for a bit, grab dinner and make that decision that usually I regret. Thursday 21:02 AST - Cabbing it back downtown, don't get arrested, that's the only rule. Friday 06:15 AST - I'm in my hotel, I honestly do not recall a thing from last night. This could be good, it could be bad. I'm alive though. I really should stop doing that sort of thing. When you just go, immerse yourself, lose yourself. I would be a great candidate for a pick pocket or scam artist during these times. I know it was loud with lots of music, and I know there were shit tons of people, shoulder to shoulder. But that's it. No recollection of the cab ride back to the hotel, if in fact I took a cab. I can only hope that at some point in the evening, I bought a beautiful lady a drink and said cheers. In my broken nonexistent Spanish. And hopefully I did not tell her I love her long time. Since I had no data on my phone, I cannot do the old school way and look at where I checked in and my random status updates on FaceBook, so it's just off to write it down as "I did something in Ponce during Justas 2013." Friday 11:35 AST - Time to go, it's been fun, it's been real, see you soon!

Cruise: 120 miles in 5 hours

What's an east coast boy supposed to do on a Sunday afternoon on the west coast after getting a crash pad in Santa Monica and hanging out drinking and eating with two friends I haven't seen in probably over two years? Drive. As I left, the only words of caution were to watch out for Prius drivers. Since they had paid their eco points, they were not required to obey all traffic laws. I jumped in my little Nissan Altima rental and headed for the Pacific Coast Highway, California State Route 1. Windows down. Music cranked. GPS on, but I couldn't hear it over the music, and got a little lost on the first attempt. When you get lost, you should turn around and start over, but stop at a hotel and ask for proper directions. I seemed to have got caught up around LAX and took a wrong turn. Redo. I should have rented a mid-life crisis car, but my little Nissan had plenty of spunk and a heck of a lot better on gas mileage. I did enjoy drooling at all of the fast cars along the way, plenty of 911s, R8s, Esprit, jacked up Hummers, and a boat load of vintage american classics. I ran seventy miles of the over 650 miles of road with a few side trips along the way and a 30 mile drive back to the hotel. Sometime barely a crawl stuck in traffic, sometimes barreling down the road at 75 mph, it was fun. Plain stupid pointless fun. Never was this on my bucket list, but once I made it back to the hotel, I penciled it in and checked it off (partially). To truly check this one off, it has to be in a mid-life crisis car and it has to be the whole shebang. From Santa Monica to Laguna Beach was pretty much the same, little towns with expensive shops and food, lot's of beach, boats, booze (and traffic). After Laguna beach it was cliffs and crashing waves. Winding roads and up and down. I made it to Dana Point and started running out of steam after 3 days with little more than 8 hours of sleep total. It was time to head back after a refreshing drink. What came out of this day? A list of fun driving tunes. 1. What's My Age Again by Blink-182 2. Mountain Sound by Of Monsters and Men 3. Trojans by Atlas Genius 4. Somebody That I Used To Know by Goyte Feat Kimbra 5. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons 6. Alive by POD 7. Midnight City by M83 8. Ho Hey by The Lumineers 9. Tongue Tied by Grouplove And the best for last... 10. Some Nights by Fun Cheers my friends!

Never never never!

So I'm stuck in Buffalo, NY. It's just a slight annoyance with travel, I don't get upset, I don't go off at the gate agents, I don't curse the airline. I do hate sleeping in airports, though, so sometimes travel becomes "I don't get there when I want to." Every once in awhile, travel delays lead to great stories. Even more rare, travel delays let you overhear a conversation that makes you go "what the eff!" I'm back at the hotel, what better to do but sit at the bar, have a drink, eat some food and get a little but of work done so that I don't get behind. There is always a distraction. The dude next to me showed up after I had been planted in my seat for roughly 30 minutes. Normal. He sat down, was presented a menu and picked up his phone. The conversation went like this... "Hello honey. I just finished checking into the hotel and now I'm at the hotel restaurant. I have the menu and everything looks pretty good." "It's raining again." "OK, I'm going to order, I love you." Then [my favorite Buffalo] bartender comes up to him and takes his order. He watches the hockey game on TV. He picks up his phone. "Hi, honey." "Yes, I ordered." "I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries. Oh, and a Sam Adams." "Yes, they had other things like burgers with avocado and some chicken dishes, but a bacon burger sounded good." "OK, I love you." He continues to watch the hockey game. His food arrives. Next phone call. "Hello honey. I got my burger, it looks good. I love you, too." He hangs up, watches the game while eating. Another phone call. "Hi honey, the burger is really good. I put a little extra ketchup on it. The fries were salty enough, but I did put a tad bit of pepper on them." "I love you." He hangs up. He dials again. "I have finished my dinner honey, but I still have a bit of Sam Adams left." "I'll probably just sip on it and watch a little more of the game. I love you." Hangs up. Dials again. "The bill wasn't too bad, I charged it to my room. I love you." "Yes, I am going to my room now." "I'll call you when I get there. I love you." He finally left. And I just have to wonder. If ever (never, never, never) were I to be in a situation where there was that much micro management in a relationship, I think I would... It would be ugly. Really ugly. And there would be a lot of cleanup from my head splattering all over the living room floor. Here's to another Gin and Tonic!