Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dreaming of Living and Leaving It to Change

I'm leaving today
Living it, leaving it, to change

Slowly drifting into a peaceful breeze
Tongue tied, twisted are all my memories
Celebrating a fantasy come true
Packing my bags, finally on the move

I've been listening to Christina Aguilera for the past couple of days. I'd been tired of the stuff I've been listening to over and over lately and like I sometimes do, I perused the entirety of my iPod to find something to listen to and I came across Christina.  It's been a long time (Oh is she due!) since I've listened to anything by her, and over the past two days I started from the recent and worked my way through to the past, all the while remembering why I'm a fan.

While walking this evening I came upon her 2002 classic album Stripped, and eventually reached the song Cruz.  I knew the song, knew all the lyrics, but I never knew what the song was called. Anyway, in an instant I became washed away in a contemplative state.  I put myself in her place in the song.  

As I'm driving, I'm captured by the view
So much beauty,, the road becomes my muse
The heat is rising, and my hand surfs through the wind
Cool, calm, collected is a child that lies within

Life can be funny for a lot of us, and I don't mean funny ha ha, but funny in a sort of deliberate, predictable and uninspiring kind of way.  I thought by now that I'd be happy here at this time in my life, but I am as troubled now as I've ever been.  I feel trapped in my own life, in my house, with my job and my troubles and my loneliness. I somehow stopped taking chances and have found myself stuck in the mire.

I'm leaving today
I'm living it, leaving it, to change
I'm leaving today
I'm living it, leaving it, to change

As you get older, you find yourself being more tied to your responsibilities and less apt to take chances and live.  I've always prided myself on my penchant for taking chances, leaving behind things that no longer worked for me in order to pursue a better life.  I left a career in banking because it no longer worked for me.  I walked out of a 20 year relationship for the same reason.  Big chances, living life.  They say you become more conservative as you get older and perhaps that is what's become of me, but who says that's a good thing?  We only get one shot at life and why should we waste it worrying and doing all of the things we have to do as we watch the world go by without us?  

But somehow I'll miss it
I think I'll really miss it

Yeah!  We get comfortable.  We're creatures of habit, even when we realize the habits we live no longer work for us.  We're afraid...I'm afraid, afraid that if I take another big chance, I'm going to miss out or lose out somehow what makes my life comfortable.  

I'm also afraid that I just don't know how to live anymore.  I've either forgotten how to try or I feel like if I try things will become even worse.  But the longing still burns within me...

I turn up the radio
And I'm feeling like I've never felt before
Turn down the memories of yesteryears and broken dreams
I'm free, finally free
Slowly drifting into a peaceful breeze

I often dream of just getting into a car and driving, driving out on the open road and seeing where life takes me.  Going someplace where I don't know anybody and no one knows me.  Starting fresh in the hopes of living again.  Well, I can can dream, right,  If only I were a little younger and felt a little less afraid...

I'm leaving today
I'm living it, leaving it, to change
See I'm leaving today
I'm living it, leaving it, to change

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Follies and Foibles on Rainbow Mountain

I should have realized when I met Ed, AKA Evelyn, outside of Cherry House at Rainbow Mountain on Friday night that the weekend was going to be a strange one.  Yes, after last year's, um...adventure, my pals Sean, Sonny and I returned to that Mountain Called Rainbow over in the Poconos, and we even brought a fourth, our friend and fellow bowler Al.  It was Sonny who planned the whole thing, and although I knew little about the particular weekend we were going, I happily agreed to go just happy for a weekend getaway from life.  Little did I know I was in for a couple of days in the Twilight Zone.

I really didn't think anything of it at first.  Ed was smoking a cigarette outside, as was I, and we were just making friendly chit chat.  He...she...was very tall, over six feet, and quite simply looked like a middle-aged man in women's clothes...garish women's clothes to boot,  When he mentioned that his wife didn't want him to come, I became curious and soon found out that he was there for the first time and very nervous.  We soon parted ways as I returned to my room to get ready to go to the club with my buds.

Though I thought of Rainbow as somewhat dated and not really the nicest of places, I did remember that the club housed on the grounds was pretty cool.  It had been packed last time and lots of fun, so I was really looking forward to getting my groove on...that is, until I got there.  On the short walk from Cherry House over to the club we passed two more people like Ed. As we walked past them, Sonny casually mentioned, Oh, it's crossdresser's weekend.  

Really?  Are you kidding? 

No, Really!

It was true.  We walked into the empty, cavernous club and immediately made our way downstairs to the basement for some crossdressing karaoke.  Out of the thirty or so people down there, more than half the patrons were middle-aged crossdressers singing Frank Sinatra, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and plenty of other songs from like forty years ago.  We were definitely in the Twilight Zone!  As my pal Rich said when I told him the story a couple of days later, I'd have gotten drunk, that's exactly what I did.  Great minds think alike!

And so set the stage for a weekend of follies and foibles, missed opportunities and a few laughs in between.  It wasn't the greatest of weekends, but it was good to be doing it all with some good people. Here are some of the highlights and low-lights of the weekend...      

After a morning of outlet shopping, the four of us were hungry and looking for a snack to tide us over before dinner.  Along the road in Stroudsburg, Al noticed the coolest little place, Rootin' Tootin' Hot Dogs.  This place as like the hot dog version of so many of those 50's style hamburger places that are so popular these days.  It was owned by a sweet gay couple who really put their own unique spin on both the vintage decor and the menu.  

Old 45 record sleeves adorned the walls and beautifully crafted wooden shelves lined the perimeter. There were red leather booths and a real jukebox that played three songs for a quarter.  And the menu consisted of hot dogs served in several unique ways, with chili, cheese, pesto mayonnaise and more, as well as some delicious tater tot/hash browny potatoes.  High point!

The Horror Hotel

On Sonny's itinerary for us over the weekend was a visit to a haunted mansion, which is always fun. After realizing that the one he had picked out was 45 minutes away, we found one a little closer called the Horror Hotel, or something to that effect.  This place was three attractions in one, and though three of us (four of Sonny's friends had met us up there on Saturday) ended up bailing after a really long wait for the second one (low point!), the one that we did go through was pretty darned scary...and full of belly laughs, too. You see, Sonny's got this look about her that just seems to attract people everywhere she goes, and virtually every monster at this ride set their sights on our poor friend.  You can imagine the laughs we shared at her expense.

Karaoke, More Belly Laughs, and Bradley

Other than the crossdressing karaoke singers, probably the one thing we're all going to remember the most about this particular weekend is Bradley.  Bradley was this young dude who is a local to the Rainbow Mountain area.  He seemed like, and I hate to say this, but it's true, a meth head, though he didn't really appear to be high or anything...maybe just exhibiting some of the effects of having done the drug for a long, long time. Really, though, Bradley was sweet and harmless, and he provided us with all of the entertainment we'd need for that second night at Rainbow.

We'd all first seen Bradley on Friday night, first at karaoke doing a nice rendition of something by Miranda Lambert.  After that, he spent most of the night alone, shirtless on the dance floor pretending he was a stripper at a club or something.  It was then that his strangeness first made itself known, as every once in awhile he'd run up to the bar, place his hands on it as if he were going to do a some sort of flip as his feet arced upwards behind him, and he'd make this very strange face as he yelled out a great big Ahhhhhhh.  It was a unique sound that really can't be described in words, except perhaps some sort of jungle bird calling out to a potential mate.  We'd hear that sound a lot over the next two nights.

To top things remember how I said earlier that Sonny seems to attract attention wherever she goes?  Well, Bradley first laid his eyes on her Friday night and his admiration only grew by Saturday.  Bradley was in love!  Before Sonny and I even hit the front door on Saturday, the Ahhhhhh's could be heard echoing throughout the chilly night air.  

Hey baby!  Sonny was aghast.

Bradley followed us inside and downstairs to a booth where Sonny's pals were hanging out and we were all just taking it in.  The attention Bradley was paying to poor old Sonny.  It was priceless, both Bradley and Sonny's reactions to him, well at least for a couple of hours.

Eventually, though, Bradley got the hint and made himself scarce.  Everybody, except for me and Al, got up and karaoked the rest of the night away.  Sonny, as always, was fabulous (she even won a contest!), and by the end of the night everyone had become so imbibed that the whole group wanted to get up and do Madonna's True Blue.  As you can imagine, and as the karaoke hostess claimed, it was one hot mess!  But it was a fun ending to a strange weekend on Rainbow Mountain.  Of course the next morning the question came up: Will I ever go again?  All I can say is we shall see...but definitely not on crossdresser's weekend.    

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Funny Halloween Memory at the Spooky Walk

I’d like to preface this story by saying that I am not only a man, but I’m also a chicken. I’m afraid of lots of things: spiders, snakes, lightning and thunder, dogs (some of them), and especially things that go bump in the night. I can be very jumpy at times, scaring others with my often over the top reactions to being startled.

Halloween is all about being scared, but the kind of scary you experience during Halloween is fun. I’ve got a lot of funny personal memories of Halloween, and many of them involve these haunted hayride/haunted house thingys events that have become so popular in recent years. My funniest personal Halloween memory took place at one such event called the Spooky Walk.

The Spooky Walk is held at a campground in Moriches, NY. It was one of the first of its kind in these parts, and still one of the best. The setting is perfect for scaring the bejeezus out of people and sending others into fits of hysterical laughter. There’s an old cemetery adjacent to the grounds that’s in plain sight for fun seekers as they wait their turn for a walk through the woods.

Vampires, werewolves, and zombies lurk about amongst the trees waiting to pounce on unsuspecting hikers. Mad scientists display their wondrous and odd experiments in their laboratories. Bands of wily pirates beckon walkers to their fiery camp along the lake. And then there are the more recent monsters like Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers (no relation), and Jason.

One year, late in October, Joe, myself and a couple of friends decided to make our annual trip to the Spooky Walk for some frights and laughs. It turned out to be the funniest of all Halloween memories. I remember it was a cold, cold night, an early frost taking a bite out of our fall. The line was long, as it usually was, and we chatted about excitedly waiting our turn to enter the campgrounds and see what new frights these folks had in store for us.

After about an hour’s wait, we finally came to the front of the line. Zombies greeted us at the first turn, triggering the first screams from my friend Vera, a notorious screamer. Slowly, we made our way through the walk. Much of it was the same as it had been the year before, but still very frightening and fun. Then, towards the end of our journey, we came upon a new exhibit.

The four of us walked through a narrow path through some thick brush. Straight ahead of us sat a small outhouse with a door-less doorway. It was dark inside. My eyes fixated on that doorway, fully expecting some sort of creature to come charging out of the darkness towards us. My heart started beating quicker from all the anticipation.

We inched slowly towards the opening, trying to determine which way the path would lead us. My heart raced! Suddenly, there was the sound of a chainsaw being started up. I was the last to see the man in the hockey mask coming out of the bushes to our right, with the revving chainsaw in hand. I instinctively screamed like a little girl, running in the opposite direction, away from this Jason character, and in the process I knocked Joe to the ground.

I turned to see Jason standing over Joe, mask removed, asking him if he was okay. He was fine. He helped Joe to his feet and the four of us continued on our way, the three of them hysterically laughing at my panicked reaction all the way back to the car. We made our way home after a long evening and when we got there, Joe could not find his house keys.

We searched the car, on the ground, and every place in between. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the four of us were hit with the same notion. Uh oh! My friend Joey said. I bet they’re back at the Spooky Walk. Without a word, the four of us jumped back into the car and rode the twenty minutes back to the campground.

We explained the situation to the operators of the event, who brought us over to where Jason lurked at his post. They shut the area down and turned on some floodlights. Sure enough, the keys were laying on the ground right in the spot where I had knocked Joe to the ground in my panic. The three of them looked at me disapprovingly.

What? I was scared!

Once again, we all broke out in laughter. Every once in awhile, when some of us are together, we reminisce about that night. That evening at the Spooky Walk remains as one of my funniest personal memories of Halloween to this day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Unniversary Reflection

Though the mourning has long past and I've long forgotten even what it was like to be one half of a couple, I can't help but take pause and reflect for a bit every October 7th.  Today is mine and Joe's eight year unniversary.  That is, eight years ago tonight I began the new life that I am still living now.

Back then I never would have envisioned how my life would turn out at this point.  I thought for sure that I'd have been in another long-term relationship by now, but I am not.  Nor are there any prospects on my horizon.  Though I know I'm getting up there in age, I know that I'm still a catch, but I worry for how much longer.

I don't spend too much time worrying about it, though.  I'm not outwardly looking for anyone in particular, but I know I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life.  Right now I would just love for someone to share weekends and good times with, yet still have time for my life.  I just happen to be stuck in an unfortunate world of promiscuity and shallowness and my age only makes it more difficult to find someone...anyone, normal.  


In the meantime I've got friends, family, students, colleagues, plenty of love all around me...and I cherish my relationships with all of them.  As any of my blog or Instagram followers or Facebook friends can attest, I'm never at a shortage of fun things to do.  Is that enough though?  

From my experiences in life, I've always felt that once you reach a certain age, yeah, your friends become more of your life because you've already spent years and years with your companion and you need other outlets to keep you busy,  But I've done everything in my life bass ackwards and so have I already had my companion time?  Am I doomed to be devoid of a true, loving companionship for the rest of my days?  Or is there still someone out there in my future?  I just don't know.

For now, all I can do is keep on doing what I'm doing, making the most of whatever opportunities come my way and enjoy whatever life has to offer.  I'm going to continue to hang out with my buds, enjoy the time I have to spend with my students, colleagues and family, and keep one eye open at all times...

There, you see?  I didn't even talk about Joe.  Lol. 


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Luzern and a Mountain Called Pilatus

Well I think it's about time I get on with this Euro trip before I go on another one.  When last I posted, we were in Switzerland...Alpnachstad, Switzerland to be more precise.  We arrived at our retro chalet somewhere in the late afternoon and our only full day there, the next day, would turn out to be one of the best of the trip...

The itinerary for the day was full.  First, we were to head off by bus to the beautiful Swiss city of Luzern, where we were to have a walking tour.  Then it would be off to climb the majestic Mt. Pilatus before heading back into Luzern for some free time before heading back to the chalet for our last night in Switzerland.  I had some side plans, as well, which I'll tell you about in my next post, but suffice it to say that this was a day of beautiful scenery and good company.

Breathtaking Luzern

We got an early start on our walking tour of spectacular Luzern, probably one of the most scenic and serene places I've ever been.  Out of all the tours we would go on on this trip, this one was the least boring, and besides, there were plenty of beautiful vistas to check out while you weren't paying attention.  Among the many things we learned, two of them stood out.  One was the history of this long, cool walking bridge across a sheltered part of the lake which had burned down completely and restored.  The covered bridge is picturesque from the outside and even more interesting along its length, with beautiful original paintings depicting Luzern history perched above the walkway. 

The other interesting site was this monument in the form of a lion carved into the rock perched above a small lake.  The monument was dedicated to all of the Swiss soldiers who had perished in the name of other countries during battles they fought in as mercenaries.  Switzerland is a beautiful place, no doubt, but even today you can tell that there is not much of a life to be had in these remote mountain regions.  Young Swiss men have historically found being mercenaries a viable trade, as it offered the opportunity to travel and it took them away from the local farms where they'd surely have to find work were they to stay at home. 

For the rest of that morning, we simply marveled at the awesome beauty of this place.  Luzern is a quaint and peaceful city and we were lucky to have such a beautiful day in which to take it all in. Rather than describe it all in words, I believe pictures would better serve...

Mt. Pilatus

One of the things I was looking forward to the most ahead of our trip was Mt. Pilatus.  Living here on Long Island, I do not often get a chance to see mountains, which I always found fascinating, and compared to the mountains we have here in upstate New York, an Alp has got to be way more dramatic.  Waaayyyyy!!!!

As I had mentioned, the weather that day was absolutely beautiful for early spring.  Though the mountain was snow-capped, at the bottom it was all green.  We made our way to the first of two cable cars which would take us to a landing much further up.  Along the ride we got to see some of the most spectacular views.

Soon enough, we reached the point of elevation where snow began to appear.  As we climbed higher and higher towards the second landing, we became surrounded by the white stuff, but it was apparent as we exited the gondola that it was still a very warm day.  

Soon enough we were on the second gondola, a larger and newer one that fit about fifty people.  The whole crew boarded the vehicle for the last of the ascent, which was very steep, and once we'd landed at the summit, well I'll let you see for yourself what it was like...

That last picture is of a trio of musical performers who performed some decidedly appropriate music in the restaurant atop the mountain.  It was a very sweet ending to a very busy and exciting morning, and we were just getting started...

Wicked icycle!

Well I hope you've enjoyed my recollection and photos of this most beautiful place in Switzerland Really, this entire trip was the trip of a lifetime and I enjoyed virtually every crazy beautiful moment. Check out my other posts on Europe 2015 and stay tuned for the rest...