Friday, March 26, 2004

Being without a car does have its advantages.

OK, so it sucks most of the time!

There have been three straight days in a row I have been stuck without a ride to work and have had to resort to the old foot leather to get part of the way. I live 7 miles from work. There is a combination of public transit systems between the two counties between me and the office which, in theory, should be able to get me to and from on a regular basis. However, one of these systems is an “on demand” service which does not have any buses in my area early enough to get me to meet the other bus to take me right to the office. (More on this later) So, I have been walking 5 miles to meet with the one bus which can get me there. It has been cool enough and the sun just comes up as I walk out the door at 6:15 AM. Taking into consideration that 6 months ago I couldn’t make it more than 20 paces without getting winded I consider this a great accomplishment!

The 90-minute walk has given me time to listen to a Stephen King novel on tape and listen to one of my favorite morning syndicated radio shows. (The Bob and Tom Show, by the way!) I also get to ponder as I walk. Part of my route is along railroad tracks. Since I am technically trespassing and for safety sake I do not wear the headphones during this part of my walk. I am able to let my mind wander and wrestle with problems of the day as I listen to the gravel crunch beneath me feet, the birds wake and sing, the wind blow through the trees and make certain I do not hear the approach of a train engine or deputy cruiser.

As I was sitting outside of the local library waiting for it to open I simply sat, enjoyed the breeze and watched the slow dance of the clouds. I don’t think I’ve taken that kind of time just to be in a moment. It would have been so much easier, with a car, to leave my house 5 minutes before the library opened and to be there just as the key turned in the lock. This time I was able to wait and let each of the 35 minutes I was there pass in slow, easy succession.

A mother and little girl came up about 15 minutes before the door opened. The adult read the sign and turned the girl back to the car explaining the situation. A look of utter despair and exhaustion came over the child's ’ace. At her age 15 minutes was an eternity. That same amount of time meant different things to her and I.

To her it was an eternity. There were a million and one things that could be done in that amount of time and she wanted to be in the library NOW.

To me it was an endless parade of moments to be savored. A parade of which could have gone on forever. And that would have been just fine by me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I was duped! When I was in New Orleans, I was duped by Oliver Stone!

In a recent post I mentioned how I went in search of Oswald connected historical
sites; the major one being the office he used for the Fair Play for Cuba
Committee. Well, what I thought I found as the site wasn't what I thought.

I went into my quest with only a vague recollection of where I was headed. I was
pretty certain of the cross streets for which I was headed and had an idea of
either 299, 201 or 701 Camp St. When I did find 701 Camp St I was certain I had
found the spot; it looked exactly as I remembered. That much was true. It was
exactly as I remembered it...from the movie "JFK"! I had found the location used
in the film but not the actual address.

544 Camp St was what I was really looking for. I found out my mistake when I
finally got home and referred to a book on the assassination. I really felt like
a fool when I looked at the movie. I may not have walked the same steps as Lee
Oswald but I did stand on the spot where Gary Oldman and Ed Asner were!

I now have a reason to return to New Orleans. OK, so going back just because it
is New Orleans is reason enough....but now I'm on a mission!!!! Emblazoned on my
brain for the rest of my life is that damned address; there's no way I'll ever
get that one wrong again!!!

The whole trip was great. It's always good to get together with friends from
around the region. There was some minor politics and personality tiffs with
which to deal, but overall it was a wonderful time. On the trip there we spent
the night at the Dolan's. My asthmatic lungs and nose may never forgive me. They
have two dogs and a cat. I spent most of the night wheezing and sneezing. The
hotel in Gulfport was nice enough. All weekend long I kept hearing comments on
my weight loss, which is to be expected since I had not seen most of these
people in 2 years.

I got to Sonic for the first time since my surgery. It almost became one of the
most depressing days of my life. I kept it very conservative, given the size of
my post-surgery stomach, and ordered a single burger, small tater tots and diet
Coke. It took me nearly 35 minutes to get down that whole damned burger, but I
did it! At times I wasn't sure if I was going to get through but I was
determined. While my whole outlook on food has changed it's good to know I can
still enjoy a few of my old vices from time to time.

I'm also glad to find one of those vices is alcohol. There are many bariatric
patients who can't tolerate alcohol at all after surgery. Also, because of the
smaller capacity of the stomach, alcohol can pass into the system faster. As my
surgeon puts it, "You'll be the world's cheapest date!". With me it depends on
what it is I'm drinking. Darker liquors don't seem to bother me. Whiskey and
beer can pile up inside of me like they always use to. On my trip to Orlando
last November I had a drink called a "Dirty Slut" which is made with
Goldschlager and some fruit juices. I guess it because of the amount of sugars
in the drink that if affected me very quickly with a small amount. Keep the dark
booze flowing!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

It was 10 years ago today I moved to Florida. It’s amazing what can happen in a decade.

I can clearly recall my first drive down Gatlin Boulevard into Port St. Lucie. The nervousness and anticipation I felt as I got closer and closer to the house my estranged wife had rented but did not want me to move into when I arrived. When I had driven away from Rhode Island the car’s heater was blowing full blast, the ground was covered with snow and I was wearing a heavy jacket. Now, as I drove with the window open, I squinted into the sun and was wearing a light t-shirt and sweat pants.

The feeling of walking to a house my wife and children occupied that wasn’t mine as well was an unusual one. I felt like an outsider; someone who might have broken in through a window in the middle of the night and was slinking through the shadows.

That feeling in no way compared to the reaction I got from my son. He was only 2 and a half years old and I had not seen him since his mother took him and his older brother to Florida for “a visit”. We had talked a few times on the phone but to a child of that age the phone doesn’t really register. See him again was the reason I had worked three jobs for the previous five months and why I had driven 1300 miles away from my home. I came through the door and could hear his little feet pattering quickly towards me. My heart raced in anticipation. As he rounded the corner I could a first see excitement and happiness dancing across his face as he raced to see who was coming in the door. However, the moment he came around the corner it all changed.

In an instant his faced dropped. His smile disappeared and a look of puzzlement took its place. I could see the wheels turning as he looked up at, what to him at that moment, was an unknown face. My son had forgotten what I looked like! I think I could actually hear my heart break. It didn’t last forever, of course. His 32-month-old brain finally connected the right neurons and put my face together with the name “Daddy”. Just to see him looking at me as if to say, “Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?” was enough to completely wilt me.

I took him in my arms and hugged him tightly. Then I tried doing something which was “just ours”. I don’t know when or where it started but Johnny and I got in the habit of head butting. Sort of our version of male bonding. It was the cutest thing to see him pull his head back to “wind up” before swinging his little cranium against mine. He always laughed out loud when we did that. I bumped my head against his and immediately got the same momentary look of knowing what we were doing but not quite remembering. I was curtly informed by his mother that, “We don’t do that anymore!” Apparently, he had tried this on a younger cousin of his and knocked the smaller kid flat on his butt. Silently, I cheered in parental pride but, given the circumstances, conceded.

Knocked him right on his ass with a head-butt……how cool!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

OK, OK, OK! I haven't written in a while and LOTS has happened. My shit storm at work has continued, but I'm in too good a mood right now to get into it. I am en route between the Starfleet Region 2 Summit in Gulfport MS and home. Readers Digest version is this has been a working weekend for all of the Starfleet chapters in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. We get together for panels and discussions on running chapters, charity fund raisers, games and.....well,. some drinking.

Maybe a little more than "some drinking".

At first I didn't think I was going to be able to make it due to finances but thanks to some very good friends I ended up going anyway. Sandy and Bruce Dolan adopted me for the weekend and Jen and Steve Rosbury made sure I got to and from Summit. This weekend turned out to be one of the best yet.

We got to the hotel Friday morning and the Rosburys had already decided that since they were so close to New Orleans that a road trip was necessary and allowed me to tag along. The Big Easy has been on my list of places to see once I moved to Florida and I was excited about actually making it there.

We split up and I went on my own around the city. Six months ago, of course, I would not have been able to make it around the city like I did, so I have another reason to thank my surgeon.

I made my way to Napoleon's, one of the landmark bars in the French Quarter. I sat there drinking my beer and soaking in my surroundings. If I had the phone number I would have called my old pal, Bill Duffy, right from the bar stool!

After that I made my way to the building which had been the offices Lee Harvey Oswald had used for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the summer of 1963. To be walking the same sidewalks Lee had gave me chills. I was not 100% certain of the address but as soon as I saw the facade it was like deja vu.

I then went to the House of Blues; I would never had been forgiven by some friends if I had been that close and not stopped there.

We had two hours on a parking meter and I was there as the clock struck the hour. Steve, Jen and Rowan were being delayed. My anal retentive schedule happy side started to overload. I was stuck loitering around doing nothing waiting for my friends to return. Then it dawned on me....I was stuck loitering around doing nothing IN NEW ORLEANS!!!! Suddenly schedules meant nothing to me. I went to a hand rolled cigar shop, bought a fine smelling mild stogie and kicked back under the statue of Jean Lefite on Decatur St.

The entire weekend was fantastic. Summits are always a chance to reconnect with friends throughout the Region. I will go into more detail in another post but there is one moment I have to share. A dance on Saturday night turned into a marathon drinking party into Sunday morning. As my little post-surgery stomach tried digesting more and more alcohol I suddenly felt fingers roaming through my hair. While it has never been done to my hair before, I could tell these fingers were twisting and braiding my hair. I was just a good enough sport and just drunk enough that I went along with what was happening. I went from french braid, to top knot, to Pipi Longstocking. As I was sitting there with these poofed-up, fly-away pig tails the DJ decided to play "Oh, Mickey, You're So Fine". Something....oh, let's call it alcohol....gave me the inspiration to play along and grab two bright red napkins and lead the room in a cheer. OK, so maybe I would have done it all without the booze....but it definitely helped! I expect to see pictures flooding the internet within days!

To top the whole cheerleader theme for the weekend I was presented a set of red glittery pom-poms and megaphone at the Summit's closing ceremonies. I was a proud moment for myself and Starfleet.

There are other stories from the weekend and recent weeks I have to update. Included in this is that my phone is out for the time being, so internet access is sporadic. I want to update the blog.....really I do! Excuse me, but I have to go watch "Bring It On" for some pointers!