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The Story Continues – Drop Me Here

13 Oct Airport Line

Hello readers, both new and old. Some of you have been with me from the beginning and some are my Virtual Travel Buddies who have migrated over from www.DropMeAnywhere.com. If you’re new here, I should explain where the title of this blog came from. It was originally called My OWN Adventure and was started to promote my entry for the Win Your Own Travel Show on the new (at the time), Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Well, Oprah is like a bad boyfriend and, though I sat by the phone, she never called.

I now use this site to express my, sometimes snarky, sometimes touching, and generally quirky, observations on the world around me. Feel free to check out some of the past stories below. I love a good discussion so comments are always appreciated. Let’s get started.

I’ve gone a whole week without writing and I’m going through a bit of withdrawal. As I expressed in the last Drop Me Anywhere story, I’m a writer so, while it may not be exactly like breathing (I rarely turn blue and pass-out when I don’t write), it’s much like yoga and keeps me sane (although some might question my claim of sanity). So, after a week of not writing, what brought be back to my little iPad keyboard? Flying, of course.

Today I’m on board American Airlines flight 2020 flying from Chicago to LAX where I’ll connect to a flight to Phoenix. After relaxing on a beach in Mexico (I was actually sick much of the time so there was a lot of relaxing in bed) I flew to Chicago to visit an old friend. I’d hoped to stop by a few tour companies which are based there in order to bother them for a job. I’d also planned to visit the Hungarian consulate in order to discuss a possible resident visa so that I can open a walking tour company in Budapest. (Drop Me In Budapest – A division of Drop Me Anywhere.) I wrote the main embassy E-mail address while I was in Mexico explaining my desire and asking how the visa process might work. I was impressed when the foreign ministry responded and explained the type of visa I would need and that it wouldn’t be impossible to obtain. They recommended I speak with the consulate in Chicago or New York. When I arrived in Chicago, I made several attempts at contacting the consulate. I found a couple of different addresses, phone numbers and E-mail addresses on-line, for which the phone numbers turned out to be invalid, as did the E-mail addresses. Finally, I decided to call the Hungarian consulate in Washington DC (their location somehow made them feel more official to me).

“Hello, I’m trying to find out the address of your consulate in Chicago as there seems to be a couple of addresses listed online and the phone numbers and E-mails are invalid,” I said cheerfully.

“We do not have a consulate in Chicago,” the man on the other end said sharply.

“But I wrote your embassy ahead of time and they told me the Chicago consulate could assist me,” I questioned. “And there are a few different addresses listed online,” I added. “It’s why I flew to Chicago.”

“Did you not research before you came there?” the man said accusingly.

“Yes, I contacted your embassy and the Foreign Ministry told me there was one here.”

“Well it does not open for a few months,” he said, scolding me as you would a child who forgot to tell his mother that it was her turn to bring cupcakes to school the next day. (Yeh, I know, food allergies no longer allows for this, but use your imagination.)

Mr. Gloaty then connected me to a voicemail for someone which instructed me to leave a message which, in reality, will never be returned.

As far as the tour companies go, between the unreturned phone calls and the various people out of town, Chicago turned into a nice visit with a friend and my first yoga class in months. (Imagine Al Gore doing yoga and you’ll have some vision of what I looked like.)

So now, six-days later I’m on a flight to Phoenix, where I first began this journey. I have a job interview next week and, if I get it, I’ll settle in to write the book based on Drop Me Anywhere and figure out my next move (the job is a one-year contract). If not, hopefully the Hungarian consulate will come through.

Every country is a new experience in flying and America is no different. The difference is how I look at things now. Though I had traveled a great deal prior to Drop Me Anywhere, being outside the country for an extended period (nearly ten-months), while seeing the world as an observer, changed me. I’m now seeing my country as less of an insider and more of an outside observer.

I arrive at O’Hare over ninety-minutes early. I used to arrive at the airport as late as possible as I spent so much time in them in my job in meeting planning that any time not at the airport was appreciated. What I’m now finding is that the airport is my comfort zone. With people from all over the world following signs and attempting to get to where they need to be, airports are now where I fit in best and arriving early is a bit like coming home.

I’ve checked in online yet am still required to do so at a machine (so what’s the point of checking in online?) Though I have two flights today, the machine issues only one boarding pass. When I question the agent, she explains that my next flight is operated by U.S. Air and, though they’ve merged and are one airline, that part doesn’t go through until later this month. This brings back memories of Asia where a common expression is, Same, same, but different. She further explains that I can attempt to get a boarding pass at the gate.

Next, I head over to security screening which is has a line longer than the free-food tastings at Costco on a Saturday morning. I have serious doubts about whether I’ll make my flight, let alone get the much-needed coffee and food I’d hoped to grab before the flight.

I look past the extremely long-line for Security Gate 7 (even the desk agents are surprised by the length of the line) and see a sign for Security Gate 6 at the end of the hall. I head over to it and see that there are only about thirty-people in line. As I step in line with my freshly printed boarding pass in hand, as well as my driver’s license (I haven’t pulled this out in a while), I smile at the security lady while presenting my documentation. She looks at my carry-on bag (a roll-aboard which is the smaller, European size) and says, “I don’t know if that one might be too big.”

“Um, I’ve traveled with it around the world for the last ten-months,” I respond while looking at the people both directly in front and behind me with bags the same size or slightly larger. I wonder if she’s required to say this to every ten-people who pass in order to show that she’s doing her job. She doesn’t make much of a stink and allows me to pass.

I remove my shoes, belt, sweater and bra (wait, no, I think I imagined that last part) as well as my computer and my liquids (all nicely contained in a Ziplock bag, thank you). Once I and my things go through the machine, I’m pulled aside and patted down. (Apparently my ass contains metal.) I’m then asked to hold out my hands so the lady can swab them (hoping she’s doing free manicures) and analyze them for explosive residue. Once I clear there, I gather my things and look around for my backpack, which seems to be missing. After a brief moment of panic, the man behind the x-ray machine (no not the Wizard of Oz) instructs me to follow him over to a metal table. He rifles through my backpack and, once satisfied that I’m not carrying a gun, pair of scissors, knitting needles, corkscrew, nail-clippers, numchuks, liquids, sheep-sheers, toaster-oven or, yes, the proverbial kitchen sink, he takes out his swabby thing and checks to be sure that the explosives, which the examination of my hands showed I hadn’t touched, weren’t stored in my backpack.

Finally finished with security, I grab my much needed cup of caffeine, this time in the form a much-missed cup of bubble tea which I’ve been jonesing for since Kuala Lumpur, and a muffin and head over to my gate.

Coming next, adventures in flying.

Invitation To My Shower

15 Apr

You are cordially invited to a very special occasion.     It’s a shower!

“What?” you say. “I didn’t know you were getting married!”

Nope, it’s not a bridal shower.

“Oh my God, you’re pregnant!?”

Uh, not that I know of.

“Then what?” you ask.

You’re invited to my “Life Dream” Shower!       

Date: Now through May 1

Location: Online     

Where I’m Registered: Kickstarter

So what brought this on? Well, I believe you know about the book I’m writing. No? Oh, well you should read An April Fools Day Announcement. In order to help with the expense of researching my book, Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist, I started a Kickstarter project on April 1st. With just over two weeks left, my Kickstarter could use a Kickstart. So I’m throwing myself a shower.

I’ve attended countless bridal showers in my life. These have ranged from a small group of women going on about how wonderful it is to find your soul mate and endless descriptions of the lace and sparkle explosion commonly known as a wedding gown, to a large party with both men and women, and booze and games including “How Well Do You Know Your Mate?” Whatever type of bridal shower it is, it’s expected that you will show up with a lovely gift of a household appliance, beautiful linens or perhaps a spa day to help the bride relax from the stress of wedding planning. Don’t worry, in order to make it easy for you, she’s made a list of exactly what you can buy her. You can find this list at Macy’s, Target, or even Amazon.com

A month or two after the bridal shower, you get the honor of attending the wedding of the happy couple. You’ll get all dressed up, sit through a ceremony that includes oohing and aahing as the bride walks down the aisle, hearing the beautiful vows a couple may have written for each other, and taking bets with your friends on how long it will last. Then you get dinner, dancing and drunk (not necessarily in that order). If you’re really lucky, you’re crowned as a bridesmaid. In this case, you get to spend $350 on a dress, not of your choosing, which you will most likely never wear again as its sole purpose is to make the one woman not wearing it appear more beautiful.

As the night nears the end, there’s one more unique custom. Men will gather for the throwing of the garter and the women, nay, the single women get the honor of lining up to catch the bridal bouquet. This generally ends in an elbow to the ribcage and someone wearing that, um, “beautiful” bridesmaid’s dress, on the floor assuring everyone, “I’m all right, it’s just a scratch” (could they not afford to give flowers to all of the single women instead of having them fight over one bouquet?). Following this she gets the joy of a man groping her leg to put on the garter while the guests yell, “Higher! Higher!” For all of this, all you have to do is give a present; yes, another one. Don’t worry, they’re registered.

Wedding Cartoon

After a year or two, you’ll receive another invitation; it’s a baby shower! The happy couple is expecting. They’re not only expecting a baby, but another gift. Yes, you’ll get a nice lunch and you’ll play games such as, “Whose baby picture is this?” and “How many squares of toilet tissue will it take to wrap around the mother-to-be’s belly?” You’ll also get to hear friends and family who already have children discuss pregnancy bladder issues and spit-up. Not to worry, to make the gift-giving easy they’ve, once again, registered at Macy’s, Target and Amazon. But they’ve also added Babies R Us. StorkWhile I’m not opposed to marriage – I’m actually a fan – I’m not a huge fan of big weddings. And I’m certainly not opposed to babies. As most who know me will tell you that, given the choice of spending time with adults or spending time with kids, I’ll always choose the kids (they’re usually much more entertaining). I always wanted kids, it just never happened (take a look at Grace and you’ll better understand).

Since I’ve never had a bridal shower, a baby shower, or a wedding, I’ve decided to have a “Life Dream” shower. I’m asking that all of that money you’ve saved on not buying me those life event presents, you consider spending on my shower gift. I’m not registered at Macy’s, Target, Amazon or even Babies R Us, but I am registered at Kickstarter. In return, I have the best party favors ever! No, they’re not chocolates with the happy couple’s name in gold leaf, nor are they candles that smell like vanilla with a hint of orchid. They’re books, tote bags, complimentary motivational speaking engagements, opportunities to contribute ideas to the book, and even paid lodging to join me on a Drop Me Anywhere trip. As long as I hit my goal, I’ll guarantee that I won’t return your gift as, what ever you give will be the perfect size and color.

I’ll keep an eye out for your RSVP on the Drop Me Anywhere Kickstarter page. Thanks for celebrating my “Life Dream” shower with me.

 

It’s April Fools’ Day and This is No Joke

31 Mar Book Logo

It’s a big day. No, I’m not talking about April Fools’ Day, although it’s one of my favorite days. Once, while working on a ship, my April Fools’ Day prank was to glue one of the other officer’s shoes to the cabin floor (relax, I was dating him). I figured we had acetone on board to dilute it. How was I supposed to know that he’d rip up the shoe and half the floor with it?

Anyway, April Fools’ day seems like the perfect day to launch my Kickstarter project. A brief Kickstarter explanation for those unfamiliar with it; Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding site around. “What’s crowdfunding?” you ask. Really, have you been locked in a closet? Crowdfunding sites allow creators of new projects, products, apps, and random business ideas to present them to the cyberspace crowd (you) and ask for help with funding in exchange for fabulous rewards (although the rewards I’m offering are, of course, much more fabulous than the most fabulous of the others).

What will my Kickstarter campaign be funding? If you remember, at the beginning of the year – January 1st to be exact (I’m all about those special days) – I launched a website called www.DropMeAnywhere.com. It’s an interactive travel reading and writing site. It’s about travel without a plan. You, my virtual travel buddies vote on where I go without a plan. And while I’m there, I do some volunteer work because well, it’s the right thing to do.

Based on the success of the website (yup, it’s a hit!), I’ve decided that there’s a book in this. The Kickstarter campaign will help fund Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist. How will the book be different than the website? Well, while the each day on the blog tends to be a different story, the website will be a memoir of the year of doing the project. I may even hold back the stories from a couple of the locations and save them for the book. And, as any juicy memoir has its, hmmmm, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, this will also. I call them the untold stories from the road. Men have asked me, “Are you going to write about me?” I’m never sure if they want me to, or if they’re afraid I will. Regardless, in this case, the answer is. “Yes, I probably will.”

You should know, it’s not easy for me to ask for help. If you read my post “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help” written a few years ago, you’ll understand. But here I am asking, “Will you help?” In this case, I alleviate some of my guilt by offering you those fabulous rewards (sure am hoping people are using the search term “fabulous” today). Also, if you like good books – entertaining, full of great information, good stories and well, there’s the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll part – then you’ll get to read one in 2015. Finally, have you ever felt there was something you wanted to do in your life, but were afraid to do it because it meant risking a lot? Well this is mine. And I’m doing it. I feel that so much of my life so far has led to this. Working in the travel industry for twenty years; writing, both professionally (yes, for money) as well as for myself, for nothing at all except to tell a story and practice technique; and a lifetime of being a keen observer of the world through a pair of fairly snarky eyes.

The link to my Kickstarter campaign is here (and pretty much linked wherever you see the word Kickstarter). I’m asking for $18,000 and my campaign ends on May 1. Why that amount and that ending date? This won’t cover the entire project. But, as Drop Me Anywhere is a partnership between me and you, I’ll throw in my money too – remember, I’ve already done so on the first trip to Newfoundland. What? You haven’t read about it? Please start with “Oh Canada” to get an idea of the feel of the book. Between the 8-10% Kickstarter and Amazon payment fees as well as the U.S. Government’s share (hello I.R.S., I ❤ you), well, the money going to the project will be significantly less. As far as the ending date goes, most successful Kickstarter campaigns are 30 days or less. Oh, and one more thing, if I don’t reach my goal by the ending date of May 1, I get nothing. . . nada. . .zip. . .zilch. . . a big, fat zero. How scary is that?! Don’t worry, if I don’t hit my goal, you won’t be charged for anything you may have pledged (and you won’t receive those fabulous rewards).

Besides pledging, you can also help in another way. Spread the word. Not like gossiping or anything, but more in the social media realm. While there’s a fine line between gossip and social media, I have no problem if you share it with the lady standing in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store while she’s browsing through the National Enquirer (what? Mila Kunis and Macauley Culkin are getting married? She’ll definitely leave him Home Alone). Whoever you choose to share this Kickstarter campaign with, please do it quickly. . .and often (getting better at this asking for help thing).

Again, here’s the link. Oh, and stop by www.DropMeAnywhere.com and vote on where to “drop me” for the next location – Take Me to the River.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, HERE’S THE LINK!

 

Come Fly With Me

5 Jan

Drop Me Anywere Logo

Hello all. Yes, I know, it feels like forever since I’ve written here. I’m sure you were worried about me. I appreciate the Get Well cards, E-mails and flowers you all sent. Oh wait, yours must have been lost in the mail. What with Christmas and the UPS package delivery fiasco, I’m sure your ‘Get Well’ card will be arriving any day now.

Actually, I wasn’t sick at all (except perhaps for the traditional New Year’s Day hangover). I’ve been busy with a new project. It’s called Drop Me Anywhere! “What is it?” you ask (thanks for asking). Well, a little backstory.

You all remember I left my job at Disney Cruise Line for some very much needed R&R (you can read about it in Sabbatical). It’s been wonderful. I did a lot of yoga, drank good wine and scotch, reconnected with friends, wrote, traveled a little, had surgery (remember that? No? Read here) and generally got my body, mind and relationships healthy again. When I was ready, I began looking for jobs that I would again be passionate about. It turns out most of these jobs were overseas, with many in England, where I would like to try living. I applied for many of them. Some even contacted me to ask me to apply. And some led to interviews. It was all very promising until they found out I’m an American. When companies figured out they’d need to sponsor a visa for me, I became, well, less desirable. Yes, I’ve had relationships where I was told I was high-maintenance (which I continue to dispute), but when it comes to a job, apparently easy is more important than qualified and passionate (wondering if easy is more important than passionate in a relationship too – hoping not).

During this time, my friend April texted me with a few questions.

“What three things would your dream job entail?” was one question.

After just a minute of consideration I answered confidently, “Writing, Travel and Helping the World! I’d settle for two out of three.”

As, at this time in my life, I’m not settling, and nobody was offering me a job that I felt I would be passionate about, I’ve decided to create my own. Yup, full-time travel writing. Yikes!!

Drop Me Anywhere came about through a Twitter travel chat I was participating in. These are organized chats with 5-10 questions using hashtags (#) to delineate (big word – writer here) the specific chat.

One question was, “If you had a travel show, what would it be called and what would it be about?”

“Mine’s called ‘Drop Me Anywhere,’ I answered, “and it’s about traveling without a plan!”

The response was overwhelming, with people telling me I needed to film a pilot, get it on YouTube and make a Kickstarter campaign. Wow! Please believe me when I say I had not thought of the title or the topic until about thirty-seconds before I typed that answer.

I let the idea rest for a couple of weeks figuring out that, although I’ve done on-camera interviews, my comfort zone truly is writing. I contacted a well-known travel writer who I had an E-mail exchange with about a story he was writing a few months before.

“Is this anything?” I asked

He wrote me back telling me he loved the idea and what might be the best way to go about it. I guess it’s something! Next thing I know, Drop Me Anywhere was born.

So what makes it different? It’s the first interactive travel writing and reading site. It’s a partnership between you and me. You get to vote on where to send me without a plan. Yup, that’s right, you get to tell me where to go (insert your joke here). I’ll generally leave within 2 weeks or so without researching. I’ll write about the adventure and also provide information and links to vendors, lodging and activities. But wait, there’s more. . .

I’ll be spending a day, or part of a day volunteering for a non-profit organization I find over there. And after that, I’ll write about them on Rebel-With-A-Cause so you’ll know about them too.

One more twist to this new project – I’m calling it “Kickstarter Miles.” It has nothing to do with Kickstarter, but airfare is expensive, even when booking in advance. With just two weeks’ notice well, even a trip to Santa Monica can be expensive. So, if you have an extra few thousand frequent flyer miles that you won’t use in the foreseeable future, how about throwing them my way? Just click on the “Donate Miles” page and you can contact me to show me how generous you are. You’ll also see what great rewards you’ll receive for your donation.

Finally, you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be my usual snarky self on Drop Me Anywhere, so we all get to make fun of my life. And I’ll still be posting on My Own Adventure here and there as, when traveling or not, I still find this an amusing world and it helps those voices in my head express themselves. Rebel-With-A-Cause will remain informative and interesting, yet snark-free, as I’ll make fun of my own life, but not of someone else’s. These will be people who do good work and I hope my telling of their stories will do them justice.

So, please click on the Drop Me Anywhere link read a bit more about it. Please subscribe and vote (yes, you can vote without subscribing but this way you’ll get an E-mail when I post about the voting results).

I must go to check my mailbox now as I’m sure your Get Well card will have arrived today.

Random Acts of Kindness or Who Peed In Your Cocoa Puffs?

25 Sep

20130925-203842.jpg

In case you missed it, I was recently in the Philadelphia on business. In keeping with the spirit of The City of Brotherly Love, I decided to do a random act of kindness each day i wads there. Read part one at It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Friday – Day 4

Today was a challenge for my random act of kindness commitment. I believe it’s because I was so busy taking care of the people I was being paid to take care of that I kept overlooking other opportunities. I’m not happy about this but vow to do better in the future..

Luckily, one of the people I was being paid to take care of decided to do her own RAoK which I witnessed. You see, we took our group out for a fancy dinner. Despite having 8:30 reservations, the restaurant thought it just fine to seat our group at various tables as they became available, with the first seated at 9:00 and the last seated at 9:30. This was one of those ‘we’re really cool and you’re just lucky we let you in’ restaurants.

After most finished and began gathering outside, we were assisting them with working out plan for the rest of their night when Ashley, one of our guests ran back inside as she had forgotten the ‘Doggie Bag’ she had asked for her leftovers to be packed in (I’m sure this snobby restaurant loved this). When she exited with the bag, she walked over to the homeless man sitting at the corner and offered it to him, which he gratefully accepted. When she explained that it was filet mignon and lobster, his face lit up like a child trying his first taste of sugar. He thanked her over and over. She went back to him a few minutes later and gave him some money to buy a drink to wash it down with.

Myself and much of the group witnessed this RAoK and, it not only made the man’s day, it made our day. One RAoK can cheer many people.

Saturday – Day 5

I decide to concentrate on completing today’s random act of kindness early to be sure I actually get it done. I’m was a bit concerned that I might complete it and then have another opportunity present later. It turns out there’s no rule against doing more than one RAoK per day. With my mind at ease, I start looking for opportunities.

I start working early and, at about 10:00am have a chance to take a break. I choose to walk around the streets of Philadelphia and enjoy some sunshine and people watching. As I stroll through the Arts District I seemed to forget that I’m no longer working for Disney and am not required to smile and greet each and every person. I begin to feel as if downtown Philly may have run out of coffee as most people respond to my friendly greeting by averting their eyes as if I’ve escaped from a zombie movie. I know this look as this is exactly how I am before I’ve had my morning cup of joy. Whether it’s a coffee shortage or people are scared of me I’m not sure, but I decid to tone down the cheer. That is, until I come upon a convenience store and the RAoK lightbulb lights up. I wander in and come upon a rack of Pepperidge Farm Cookies. Who doesn’t feel special when eating these fancy cookies that seem as if you should be eating them while drinking a cup of tea out of fine china with your pinky finger sticking up (I’m pretty sure Queen Elizabeth serves these)? As I have no tea, I decide to go for the least fancy of the Pepperidge Farm Cookies, the chocolate chip macadamia ones.

After my purchase I walk back down the street greeting people (apparently you can take the girl out of Disney but you can’t take Disney out of the girl) and offering cookies. The first man I come upon had a cup of coffee but appears to not have a home. I ask if he would like a cookie to go with his coffee and he smiles and gratefully says yes. I offer cookies to a couple of others who politely declined (apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t eating sugar these days). The man sitting on the steps of a church listening to music decides to partake as do some others I pass. Still, many politely decline.

Soon I come upon the man I will call Mr. Nasty. Mr. Nasty is standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. I approach him and tell him that today is my random act of kindness day and offer a delicious cookie. The man gives an abrupt, “No,” and then continues on to say, “furthermore, this is not an act of kindness and you need to do better!” I’m stunned. I stand there with my mouth open deciding what to respond. I can’t let him bring me down that easily. As I begin to cross the street in the other direction I respond, “Have a nice day!” As I continue walking away he proceeds to yell at me. I can’t even remember what he said as I’m so stunned and upset by this that his exact words don’t register. I admit to losing my good attitude and yelling back at him that, indeed, “There is evil in the world.” I find it slightly ironic that this was World Peace Day.

I continue on, attempting to give away more cookies. One or two more people accept while most politely decline. I return to the hotel and give the remainder of my cookies to my coworkers and my favorite front desk agent who are very appreciative.

While I understand that, despite my curly, red hair and honest face, some people might have concerns about accepting food from strangers, and I have no problem when they politely declined, I was truly was shocked by Mr. DI. Apparently you can only distribute cookies if you charge for them and wear a ridiculous green dress with a sash.

Sunday – Day 6

Today is my final day in The City of Brotherly Love. The beautiful Hotel Palomar, which has been my home away from home, is part of the Kimpton chain. As I joined their club (I feel like one of the cool kids in the cafeteria), they gave me a $10 credit to “invade the minibar.” Due to my never-ending work schedule I was rarely in my room and hadn’t taken advantage of my gift. This morning I sift through the options and find a bag of individually wrapped Snickers bars for the low, low price of $10. Score! I grab the bag and head down to work.

This being departure day for my group, I spend most of the morning in front of the hotel getting them in cars to take them to the airport or their homes. While standing at the entrance I decide to distribute my Snickers bars to the hard-working bellmen and doormen before going and offering the final pieces to the front desk crew.

This brings to an end my concentrated week of Random Acts of Kindness. I’ve learned a few things:

First, many people will not accept food from strangers, even if they’re the fancy kind presented to you by an honest-looking redhead. Still, there are polite ways of refusing.

Second, one flower (or some chocolate) can truly brighten someone’s day.

Third, this was more challenging than I anticipated. I truly thought that since I try to do random good deeds when the opportunity strikes, committing to doing them on a daily basis wouldn’t be a big deal. I was wrong. And while I may not do them daily, hopefully this has made me more aware of the opportunities to brighten someone’s day.

Lastly, people are sometimes hesitant to accept that a random act of kindness is just that. No catches, no strings, simply kindness. After talking to a couple of friends about Mr. Nasty, they told me their stories of other people they knew who had experienced similar challenges when just trying to do something nice. When this happens, I can understand why people choose not to be kind for fear that someone will think there is an ulterior motive and therefore, treat them poorly. Be kind anyway. That is their problem, not yours.

Sex and the Single Writer

16 Sep Writing-blogging-clipart

I know what you’re thinking. “Where has Carole gone? I’m going through a bit of snarky withdrawal.” I’m with you on that. Well, I’d love to say I was too busy traveling the world, doing crazy things and talking to strangers (never learned that lesson) to put my fingers on a keyboard. But that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve been lying low. Yes, there was a weekend trip to Las Vegas but, as we all know, what happens there stays there. I’m now preparing for a little business travel in my old line of work. Nowhere exotic (unless you consider Philadelphia and Chicago exotic), but it will keep me off the streets for now (at least in Arizona). And I’m sure I’ll find lots of amusing people and situations to share with you.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in why I write. It’s not something I do for fame – I’m not exactly a household name. . .yet. Fortune? Oh yes, rolling in the dough here. Writing this from my 21 room mansion with a bowling alley and airplane hangar (going airplane shopping as soon as I finish this). No, I write because I must. It’s like an unexplainable build-up that I must release. Yes, it sounds like an orgasm and well, perhaps it’s comparable.

First there’s the subject idea. When an idea hits it’s like seeing that guy across room. My heart flutters a bit and I lose track of my thoughts. Then there’s the research – traveling somewhere, talking to people or reading up on a subject. In comparison to sex, or the steps leading up to it, this would be the date. We meet for a drink and dinner to get to know each other. Sometimes, the research is already done, as reading something, having a chance encounter or traveling somewhere is what has inspired me. In the dating world, this would be considered slutty behavior and comparable to jumping in bed with someone.

Now that I’ve researched the subject, or spent a few weeks getting to know the guy, I am ready to do the dirty deed. It begins slowly – foreplay. I have notes, a few sentences or words that I know I want somewhere in the article. I start on an introductory paragraph – think of it as kissing. Before long, I am well involved in the words (ok, completely opposite of sex unless we’re tallkin’ dirty talk). Now I’m totally immersed in the writing and the ringing iPhone barely registers. Things become very organic and instinct takes over.

Finally, I come to the ending paragraph. But this is not the release. Not yet, anyway. I only read over what I have written after it is completed. You don’t stop in the middle of having sex to analyze whether it’s good or not. It’s only after, when the deed is done, that you lay there and take a deep breath and think, ‘that was amazing!’ This is the orgasm!

**Please note, sometimes I read through the article and think, ‘this is crap.’ This I do not publish. After all, bad sex is normally still pretty darn good whereas bad writing is just bad.

 

 

Going Back in Time

10 Aug

Last week I had another travel adventure. After traveling to 50 countries and 50 U.S. states, where’s a girl go to find some adventure? Singapore perhaps? Bora Bora? Oh so close but not quite. Last week’s travel was to the tourist mecca of Detroit, Michigan.

If you’re quite finished laughing I’ll explain. I grew up in Oak Park, Michigan and lived in the state until I was 24 years old when I walked into the bank I had worked at for seven years and declared, “I quit! I’m going to sail the Caribbean.” And I did. Exactly where is Oak Park you ask. Well, if you were from Michigan I would hold up my right hand and point to a spot somewhere in the pad on the bottom of my palm over towards my thumb (it’s a Michigander thing). As you may be from somewhere else, I’ll defer to the movie reference. You’ve probably heard of the Eminem movie, 8 Mile. Well, I grew up at 9 Mile (we’re very creative with our street names there).

As I have very little family left in the area, I don’t often get back. Last week I headed to Detroit for my high school class reunion. Yup, 10 years (ok 30 years, but I graduated as a fetus). Please note that I will henceforth be referring to this event as my 10 year reunion. You can choose to believe what you like.

Class of 83

The weekend included many events beginning with a tour of my high school. Yup, all those years I avoided going to summer school and here I was, on a Friday morning in the middle of summer, sitting in the high school cafeteria. Suddenly I felt like Molly Ringwald in the Breakfast Club. After coffee and bagels we were greeted by Mr. Washington, the current principal. While he was telling us about the current structure of the school district and the accomplishments of Oak Park High School I had a moment of panic. I whispered to my former classmate sitting next to me, “Oh my God, we’re older than the principal!” A few minutes later Mr. Washington put me at ease by mentioning that he was a graduate of a neighboring high school two years prior to us. There is a God!

After a very surreal two-hour tour during which we saw some of our old classrooms, the science lab, the planetarium, the football field, the band and choir rooms and, my favorite part, the auditorium and the little theatre. I spent much time in these as I was a theatre geek (my claim to fame was performing in repertory theatre when I was 17 as Peppermint Patty in the musical Snoopy). We ended up at the swimming pool (indoor, it’s Michigan for goodness sake). As Mr. Venetelli, our high school Spanish teacher had joined us, he also gave up some secrets. So, the teachers used to going swimming during lunch. What? Our teachers were, well, real people? This of course led to the question of which teachers were sleeping with which other teachers. With a couple of exceptions, Mr. Venetelli gave up very little information (either that or our teachers were a bit boring).

From there it was lunch at the Coney Island. If you’re from Michigan, you will understand this. If not, that is a reason to head to the Motor City for a visit. Our high school hangout was Davison Coney Island. A mere half-mile from the high school it was where we would go to lunch. The experience on this day was a bit different. In high school, a not-so-pleasant lady would come around to each table with a cigar box and students were required to pay before receiving any food or drinks. While it seemed rude at the time, looking back as an adult it made a lot of sense (although she could have been more pleasant, but I’m sure she was over us). If I had never before felt like an adult, this would finally be the day I did. After we ate, our checks were laid on our tables with a smile. It was like a Bar Mitzvah. No cigar box! Today, you are a man (uh well, you get it).

The next night was the big event. Yes, the official 10 year reunion evening. As I was staying at the hotel where the event was taking place, I had a little pre-prom party in my hotel. And, as some of my classmates cleverly left their spouses at home, this gave all of us the opportunity to not walk in alone. It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy some liquid courage before heading down.

One of the first people I ran into was my middle school music teacher. Coincidentally, her brother was my very first boyfriend. His name was Robert Green. I was a cute but awkward 13 year-old (at least I felt awkward) and he was a chubby 13 year-old boy with braces. The perfect match. He was not a good kisser (we were 13. Who was?) He bought me an engraved heart stickpin for my birthday. I was not even remotely in love with him, just with the idea of having a boyfriend (try not to judge, I was 13). Anyway, his sister was sure to inform me that he is recently divorced and showed me a photo of him with his 15 year-old son. Surreal. Next I run into Jeff, the jock. I tell him it’s good to see him and he immediately asks, “Where do I know you from?” Uh, I don’t know, high school perhaps???

Reunion night

The next day was a picnic in the Oak Park Park. This is the place we all grew up in. Whether it was pushing our dog down the slide, sledding at the Oak Park hill, playing on the train (the funnest train that never moved), playing softball in little league or hanging out while skipping school. It was a weekend filled with great memories and OMG moments.

After spending time with old friends the following are the random thoughts which crossed my mind or conversations I had during the weekend: Do you stay in an unhappy marriage? Hell, do you even get married? What about kids? Crap, I forgot to have kids. Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have kids. Do I want to be in this relationship and have someone needy now that my kids are grown? Do I need to be needed? Being single, if I die, how long until someone finds my body? How strange is it to talk with kindergarten friends about buying new appliances? And to drink wine with them instead of milk from the milk machine? Instead of white or chocolate the question becomes white or red? Pop? It’s a Midwest thing (I am now a soda person, although I drink neither).

Finally, what did I learn from my 10 year reunion? Life is hard. I’m not complaining. And I’m not saying that my life has been any tougher than anyone else’s. Everybody has tough times. Some more than others. When you look at it, I won the birth lottery. From where I was born, to my parents, to my childhood friends. Lucky. Oh, and if you have the chance to go to your 10 year reunion (or perhaps, 30 year)? Go. Facebook is not the same.

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