Category Archives: Story

Hanging Graves

I should start by saying, I have serious issues.

Recently, I was sitting in my bosses boss’s office having a typical meeting.  I don’t normally let my mind wander while having these conversations but as the conversation was nearing a resolution, my mind began to find other things to notice.

So he’s an avid hiker.  I’m pretty sure he’d rather deal with the woods before dealing with any one of us that report to him, but he gets paid to deal with us, so there he sits.  As an avid hiker, he has pictures of some of the trails he has hiked.  I’ve seen these pictures every day for a few years now.  But, as I sit there on this day, I began to have a very morbid thought.  Likely, due to my brain preoccupied with serious analysis for a few hours and in need of some entertainment.

I began to think about my boss as a serial killer.  He killed along the trails while he hiked.  And the pictures in his office were actually pictures of grave sites.  His way of keeping a trophy of his deeds.  As I thought this, the lights began to go down, and I looked up to find his eyes piercing my soul.  He had noticed my preoccupation with the photos, and knew I was onto him.  As he stared at me, he knew that I would need to be dealt with.  He looked over to an empty spot on the wall, and immediately envisioned a new trophy….another photo of a grave site…and one less employee.

Like I said, I have issues.  My thoughts don’t typically get that weird, especially while at work.  The little man in my head was hard at work that day (I’ll tell you about him some other time).  I may never know the true innocence or horror of those photos, but I’m sure I’ll think about it every time I’m back in that office.  I mean, it’s not impossible, right?

55 miles to satisfaction

This past weekend I did a 55 mile bike tour with the P.I.C.  For “real” bikers, I guess that’s not a whole heck of a lot, but I’m not a “real” biker.  I ride to work a couple of times a week (4 miles) and maybe do some riding on the weekend, but leading up to this tour, we had done 10 miles at most in one ride.  Not nearly enough to properly prepare for a 55 mile ride.  But having done the five borough tour (40 miles) I thought, we should be fine.

Miles 1-20

As in the five borough bike tour, this was the best part of the tour.  It wasn’t easy, but the adrenaline of doing the tour made it seem relatively easy.  I was taking in the sights, and enjoying the day.  It was sunny, and there was a good amount of other people doing the tour with us.  If I had to guess, there were 1500-2000 people.  My body felt good, and we had a good rhythm.  This wasn’t a closed course, so we had to stop at lights and mind traffic, but outside of some major cross streets, it really wasn’t bad.  Also, for this tour, there were 30, 55, 75, and 100 mile options.  We signed up for the 55 mile, but kept 30 as an option in case we were struggling.  By the time we were near 20, I was confident we were going to do the 55.  I had to be sure though because the 30 mile track was going to break off soon.  If we were going to continue, we need to be sure because there was no turning back.

Miles 21-40

Things tend to get serious when you hit that 21st mile.  Fully committed to going 55 miles at this point.  You are no longer out there just to have a good time.  This is the point where your body realizes you’re actually asking it to push itself.  It understands that this is not a regular workout, but something where you are going to need to dig a little deeper.  It’s no time to panic, but the chatty banter with whomever you’re riding with or around tends to stop.  It’s a little quieter, and you’re a little more focused on how you feel.  You have to remember to drink before you get thirsty.  Why are my lips so dry?  Should I stop at this rest stop and grab a banana.  It’s still fun, but you feel a bit more of a burn.  On this particular leg of the tour, the roads were small, and the cars were scarce.  On more than one occasion, I realized we were actually by ourselves.  Our only guide was the little pink arrows on the pavement at most intersections.   For me, this is where I began to wonder if not training was a bad idea….yes, it was, but nothing we can do about that now.  Toward that 40th mile, I felt some relief knowing that this was the distance for the five borough tour.  So, what’s another 15 miles??

Miles 41-55

On my handlebars I had a speedometer.  This also showed the average mph, and the total miles.  Throughout the entire race, I tried my hardest not to see the mileage.  I wanted to make sure our mph average was above 10 (we are around 12.1), which is the only reason I continued to check it.  But for some reason, each time I looked, I saw the mileage.  And during this stretch, the numbers moved like they were stuck in quick sand.  A half a mile felt like three.  My hands started to ache, and the soreness on my butt was becoming more of a problem.  My bike felt much heavier.  I also began to get a cramp in my thigh.  And though a few sips of water helped make it go away, my bottle seemed to empty out as quickly as I filled it.  The exhilaration of going down a hill, was quickly lost to an uphill grade, no matter how slight it was.  This route was the definition of rolling hills, or so that’s how I remember it.  Oh, did I say we did all this on mountain bikes?  The saving grace was hybrid tires, and though the difference seems minimal, it’s appreciated.

I will tell you, I’ve never worked my thighs to such exhaustion before.  I was begging them to do something, and shortly before mile 50, they started telling me no. I pushed, and with each push, I could feel them wanting to give up on me.  It seems like these tours all tend to have a steep incline near the end.  I was ready, mentally, for it.  Hell, I rode up the Verrazano Bridge on a windy day, which was a much steeper incline than the hill this tour presented.  But, I couldn’t…I tried, I continued begging, but they just wouldn’t do it.  I conceded to the defeat.  Sadly, I walked it.  Afterwards, slightly dejected, I rode on.  There was still a few miles to go, and I was certain that I had seen the worst of it.  After a quick rest stop, we were back on our way, and on the horizon…another tough hill.  The only comfort was that numerous people around me also hated the sight of this, and a lot of  them “looked” like pros.  I stopped at the foot of the hill, and was joined by a handful of others.  More people approached, more people stopped.  I heard the groans of those who decided not to lose their momentum, and pedaled on.  The cheer of one of the volunteers was urging people along.  To myself I said, I have to do this.  No walking this one.  The P.I.C had been a monster on the course all day, so I knew she’d have no issue.  Let’s do it….I jumped on the bike, and pedaled my way to a little more pride.  I made it to the top of that hill, slowly…one cycle followed by the next.  Getting every little bit out of these thighs.  The rest, was a downhill roll toward the finish line.

Finish

I know people who have run marathons, and that is one major accomplishment.  This is the closest I’ll get to that feeling, unless I decide to do a century ride…maybe one day, but if I do, I’ll definitely train.  And though I could have done better, it was a great moment of accomplishment.  A moment of self satisfaction.  To some extent, a sense of belonging as you celebrate silently, with the others that took that trek  Slightly sore, I ate a lobster roll, took in the scene, and took my behind home.  I needed a nap.  I love that I am blessed enough to be able to do these things.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right?  And I’m getting older, so I need to be somewhat active.  And, riding a bike, in my opinion, is still better than running.  LOL  Till next time.

 

Two Week Affair (Part 3, Phuket)

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Stop number 3; the final destination.  We wanted our last stop to be in a place where the agenda was full of relaxation, and so we found Phuket.  I was told by a friend that Phuket was the Hawaii of Thailand.  Sounds so enticing, so off we went.  Still on a high from Chiang Mai, I was optimistic, but I set my expectations low.  The Hawaii of Thailand could not be better than what we experienced in Chiang Mai.  Maybe I’d be wrong.

As we arrived at the airport and walked to the exit, it was hectic.  I’m not famous, but I felt like I was.  The flashing of the paparazzi cameras replaced with a chorus of “where you going,” and “taxi…you need a taxi.”  It felt like there were  30 people around us hoping we’d choose them from a ride.  The P.I.C yelled “easy,” to get them to back off a bit, which they then used to mock us.  Not off to a good start.  But alas, we made our way to the taxi stand (the one I read was the legit stand), and after a minute or two, we were on our way….or so I thought.  About two minutes into the ride, we made a stop.  She’s back to her old tricks again, I thought.  The taxi driver hopped out, and a young lady approached the cab and motioned for us to open the door.  Brochures in hand, she asked us if we were interested in any excursions.  I had heard about this, and from what I read, I knew that we’d be here for awhile, though the legit taxis weren’t supposed to do this.

I looked at her and smiled, and said we planned on relaxing the entire time, and had no interest in doing anything.  To my surprise, she smiled back and said thank you…enjoy your trip, and that was it.  We were off again toward the hotel.  My main concern now was the increasing number on the meter.  What I expected but still more than I wanted to pay.  The hotel was a regular looking beachfront hotel.  No standout character, but who needs that when you open your door and the ocean is in your face.  She was quiet most of the way, but there’s is where I heard her loud and clear.  The water went all the way to the horizon, and even though the water was much to rough for most swimmers, she was beautiful to look at.  To hear her waters crash against the waves was soothing, though the roar reminded me that these same waters took so many lives in the Tsunami in 2004.

As I said, my expectations were low, and since this was her vacation spot, the food was average though more expensive than most other places.  I guess most who visited her here were not looking for so much of an authentic experience.  They wanted nice water, and excursions; one which we ventured out on.  Here she gave me a first…I jumped off a boat into the waiting waters.  The water wasn’t the clear blue kind that some have mingled with in the Caribbean, but more of a cloudy green (not anything like the Jersey water either).  It felt great, and it’s saltiness made for good floating water, if you’re into that stuff.  On this excursion, she showed me secluded areas where there was only one way in and out.  She showed me caves which we explored with flashlights, James Bond Island, and an entire town built over the water, secluded from the mainland.  It had shops, homes, fishing boats, a restaurant, and a school.  All powered by a generator, that I believe is shut off by a certain time at night.  Apparently it’s really expensive to run at all.  Most interesting was that most people here were not itching to go to the mainland.  They had to if they wanted to finish school, but most came back.  This was her example of how life could be so simple, and still so fulfilling.

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It was the rainy season, and she held back for most of the trip, but here in Phuket, she showed me what that meant.  I like to see it as her way of crying for me before I left.  As that day approached, it was sad. We had a few moments where all we did was sit there in the silence, enjoying each others company.  But it did have to come to an end.  The alarm would ring at 4:15 am, and we had to say our goodbyes.  Her last gift to us, in the form of a boxed breakfast from the hotel.  I’ve never seen that before, but it was a nice farewell gesture.  She didn’t want us to leave, so I suspect she somehow delayed our flight by an hour and a half.  But we eventually boarded, took off, had our last look at her, and closed the airplane window shade.

As I look back on and recap the affair, I realize there’s a really good feeling that resides in me.  She wasn’t the prettiest, or the nicest.  Her personality sometimes made her seem unstable, but she reminded me of something.  Something that is all too cliche, but ignored by so many, me included.  Something that I hope doesn’t leave me as I get back into the routines of my established relationship with my home country.  She reminded me that life is all about living it; not just being present.  Soaking in the good and the amazing, and learning from the bad and the ugly…and to smile, because it really does make others smile with you.  And if it doesn’t, well, it makes me feel good.

I hope you enjoyed this affair…this journey. Shout out to the P.I.C for also making this trip as memorable as it was.

Sawadee Krap

Two Week Affair (Part 2, Chiang Mai)

The bitter taste of Bangkok still lingering, me and the P.I.C advanced our affair with Thailand, and moved on to Chiang Mai.  The promise of seeing the “real” Thailand was a major driving force in moving our affair up north.  However I was skeptical that this relationship would actually go anywhere now.  She was as superficial and money hungry as any other affair I had been a part of, and she was not apologetic.  As I look back, I likely was a bit too harsh in my judgement.  My adjustment to her timezone, her way of talking, and her way of interacting probably had as much to do with my impression as did the unseemly characters.  It makes me wonder, what damage had her past lovers done to make her so cold…but I digress.

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Our arrival in Chiang Mai was uneventful.  Our walk through the airport and eventual ride in the cab was as plain as vanilla ice cream.  When suddenly, a glimmer of hope reared its head.  She showed me the most beautiful place to stay.  Chiang Mai offered your standard hotels and backpacker paradises,  but this place was neither.  It was called Ruen Come In, and it’s style was considered lanna style, and was decked out in all wood.  Quaint and private, it had reflections of a B&B, but offering much more privacy to the guests.  Shoe removal when walking on any indoor surface, or outdoor surface leading to a room, was required and added to the charm.  I didn’t want the same ole same ole….or “same same,” as I saw written so many places, and this was far away from familiar for me.  She made me smile, but I was cautious.

We walked through the town, and our first encounter was with a man trying to sell tickets to a Muay Thai fight, and I thought, “here we go again.”  Another scam.  Though genuinely interested, we held off on purchasing, and I immediately realized that he actually didn’t push too hard, if at all.  This was followed by an individual who showed interest in us while we looked over a map…his interest was that he only wanted to point us in the right direction.  We had a decent dinner while watching people come and go, and ended up at a nice little spot where a live band was playing.  They were quite good, I might add, and the people watching was just perfect.  As we lay that night, I had hopes that our relationship would continue to improve.  With a visit to the Elephant Nature Park (ENP), it had to.

The visit to ENP showed me just how compassionate, patient, and dedicated one person could be.  The love I saw given to these creatures was just amazing, and unlike anything I had seen up close and personal before.  I saw personable animals that had awesome size, and such grace.  Powerful in their movements, but gentle as they took food out of our hand.  Seemingly disinterested as we doused them with water, but stood still because they knew we were happy and well…they had food and they were genuinely happy.  I learned so much, and I am so thankful that I was able to experience firsthand.  And this is where it started to happen.  This is where I began to fall in love with her.  This was followed by another nice dinner on the river, where the loud sounds of club music played in the background.  I saw her younger side, and how she liked to party.  There was a cover band, and plenty of 20-somethings singing along, and throwing back liquor.

Our chariots while there were these red vans that could fit eight people comfortably, and 12 people with someone hanging out the back.  It seemed dangerous, but it gave her personality.  Bargaining for the cost of a ride, and bargaining for goods was becoming second nature, and it started to become fun.  It’s as if she took my hand and said, “relax…this is all a part of the experience,” and I began to let go.  She introduced me to others on vacation, and we hung out with natives.  She also allowed me to see how good she actually is in the kitchen.  I enjoyed some complex food (khao soy….I still taste it), ate delicious dessert, and she showed me that breakfast isn’t all about eggs and bacon. It was here that I also learned how to wai…slight bow with palms pressed together. And it wasn’t forced; I meant it as I thanked people for various things. The P.I.C was really good at it…”kop khun krap.”

We explored the city on bicycles and witnessed amazing consideration.  The traffic was chaotic, but there was rhyme and reasoning, even if I didn’t understand it.  Oh the difference a city makes.  Bangkok was uncomfortable, but Chiang Mai slipped on like a nice pair of old sneakers.  She embraced me and made every other moment of my trip worth while. This here, was the land of smiles.  They were genuine, and wider when I initiated.  I wasn’t ready to leave here.  We had much more to share with each other, but an affair is only temporary, and with limited time, we needed to move on.  If only I could have sat in her embrace, in this beautiful city up north, a little longer.  But alas, we must go…onward the island.

 

To be continued…

Two Week Affair (Part 1, Bangkok)

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This affair is not quite your typical affair from one person to another, but rather an affair from one person to a country.  Yes, my loyalty to the USA is strong, but I felt the need to step out on her for what I knew was going to be a temporary affair.  I’ve stepped out on her temporarily before, but this time would be different.  This time the seductress was further away, making her slightly more exotic.  Her name was Thailand, and from the moment I was told about her i was mesmerized.  Hot blooded, I was told, as well as the fact that she could cook a mean meal.  That was the kicker…she could cook, and I could eat.  Her vast landscape was attractive and our activities could be endless or we could just relax in the sun.

Enough said, I want to meet her.  And with my P.I.C (partner in crime) by my side, we set out on the long journey.  In total, 27 hours of travel time.  Smooth flights and dim lights made the trek easier, along with the provided entertainment and of course, the P.I.C.   After the final leg, an 11 hour flight, I was ready to make the acquaintance.  My first impression…..wow.  I wanted it to be magical, and I probably forced it a bit, but she was beautiful.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she had more landscape than I had imagined.  Was she third world or was she still developing?  It was hard to say. Run down homes side by side with beautifully landscaped complexes and colorful buildings made it an artists dream. So many emotions to capture, yet I was still only on the sky-train.  We were off to a good start though and after a helpful girl in a hostel pointed us in the direction of our hotel, we were ready for the affair to begin.

After settling into the hotel, it was time to explore.  We were tired from the journey, but it made sense to get to know each other a little better. A quick walk around found us a 7-11 (a dime a dozen with her) for a sim card and a shopping mall. Wanting to do so much more but exhaustion started to set in and a nap was necessary.

After the brief slumber, we ready to explore again and found ourselves on a riverboat headed to an outdoor market.  The breeze felt fine, and the euphoria of just being there was still motoring us along, though additional sleep was probably needed.  Once we arrived, there was finally an opportunity to see her cook.  A crowded location filled with locals and tourists was enough to attract us, and we sat and we ate.  Though, not as tasty as I anticipated, it was a welcome introduction into what I assumed would be a wonderful culinary relationship.

Unfortunately, this was the peak of the introduction period.  As with any relationship that’s just beginning, there’s a possibility of things getting rocky, and that it did.  As I explored her landscape further, all while still in Bangkok, I began to meet the unseemly characters of this culture.  Everyone had a scam, or a hustle, (one I got caught up in) and eventually I began to trust no one.  A friendly hello was now met with skepticism and the checking of my pockets.  “I can sell you a suit real cheap,” or “I’ve got a great deal from you,” followed by the inevitable “where are you from,” became echos that I wished to escape.  I was so disappointed since my expectation from her was so different.  A land of smiles….deceiving smiles, as it were.  I really wanted to get to know her, but this facade seemed too much to overcome.

To add to my dismay, she wasn’t the cook I thought she was.  I tried to follow the rules that I had read.  Find a busy food stall…one with lots of locals and plenty of turnover.  Therefore, you know it’s good.  But none of the places I had seen seemed to fit the bill.  It wasn’t busy season, so the crowds were non-existent.  I tried to play it safe and had her only cook up a few “safe” meals.  I didn’t even approach half the carts I saw, which kind of left me and the P.I.C hungry.  As I said to the P.I.C…how could I go on vacation based on the good food, and come back having lost weight?  It doesn’t make any sense.

Nightlife was confusing as I had a hard time finding where she liked to have fun.  Sure, I knew where the clubs were, but that wasn’t my focus.  I wanted to chill, and have a few drinks.  All I found was clusters of bars where girls outnumbered the guys, and the extreme friendliness of those places led me to be even more suspicious.  I wasn’t yet regretting this affair, but I was fast becoming less excited about my decision to be here.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a few bright sides.  Transportation was easy, the weather was hot as I expected (I don’t think I’ve sweat like that before), there was great people watching, and the P.I.C made great company, but how would this affect the remainder of the trip?  I would soon find out, as after a short four days, we were moving on to Chiang Mai….

 

To Be Continued…

Emotional (Part 3, Things) 3 of 3

You left…so long ago

And I want to begin my journey forward

But how can I begin to make that next move

When the past continues to sit right in front of me

Most of it hidden away in boxes

But it still screams at me

In the night as the liquor flows

The sounds only seem to get louder

And all I can do to get through, is to listen

I’ve pretended for as long as I can

But the things get the upperhand….occassionally.

I just wish I could sleep

Without seeing them floating

Causing dreams that make being awake a nightmare

There truly is no escape

And as I close the books, and put away the pictures

Assuming it’s all locked away

Something rears its head

And I’m back where I started.

Rummaging through the embedded memories

Watching as if it were a motion picture

The scenes more dramatic when played back like this

They make me more emotional

And suddenly, I’m back in that room

With the portal re-opened

The visuals more real than my mind could imagine

Wondering when this cycle will end

Hoping it never does

As the emotion keeps me connected to you

And somehow that gives me hope

Gives us hope.

I sometimes I see beyond those things in that box

I see things that don’t belong to me

They belong to the world, yet they are mine…my burden

That tree we had our first kiss underneath

Or that coffee shop we ate in every Saturday morning

Even that bar you met him at

All reminders, some gentle and some so heavy

Of a time that has expired

I swear I’m ready to move on

But how….how can one take that next step

How can one move forward

When with every step, I risk

Running into one of these Things?

Emotional (Part 1, The Beginning) 1 of 3

You left hours ago

And though I’m alone, I don’t feel empty

Your love has brought me further than I ever imagined possible

And though I’m unsure of our direction, I do know that your love is uplifting

Not to be cornered by the usual suspects of jealousy and envy

That upward movement can only take us over and above the haters

Yes, they will do what they do, and you and I will keep it moving

As they self destruct in our wake

Their emptiness is of no concern to me

Their bitterness toward our happiness, is a trophy worthy of its weight to them

And like a prize to us, for we wish them well,

And we are better for it.

I lay here smiling because I worked so hard for you, before you

I wasn’t a saint, but for every one of them, I’ll show you a sinner

My mind previously clouded with thoughts of just getting some

Has figured out that my focus on just getting one is more than enough

No longer insecure….I’m sure you are all I want and need

I no longer look to stray to have something to say to the homeboys

They’ll never understand, but it’s all good because it’s not about them anyway

Truth be told, I’d rather be a fool to them than to you

Shit, I can’t believe what I’m saying…but I’m truly trying to put in work

It’s weird because I’m using all the tools I picked up along the way

And this time I swear, I’m not taking any emergency exits

I’m occupying your soul until I collect dust

So instruct me the best way you know how

Of the ways to make your heart happy

Because I’d be sick if I only ended up playing a small part

A trivial role in your life, ignorant to the art….that is us

I know I can be a bandage to your past scars

The arson to burn those, forgettable relationship, bridges

And guarantee any future turn you make will be in the right direction

My sense for you has been strong since birth

It just took me awhile to find you as I had to work on my vehicle

Not necessarily one that corners well

But one that could deal with life’s ups and downs without breaking…no insecurities

So now the confidence I have built, will allow me to carry us through floods…if necessary

Preserving the world I’m so certain we can construct

And offering no apologies to those who go against us

Which may mean saying goodbye to a few who don’t want to see our success

Let their hate thrust us even closer

And hold on even tighter

Wow…maybe I’m moving too fast, but the deed to my heart

Is already yours, and the bond that is developing

Is a feeling that is so unfamiliar to me

All that being said, I don’t truly know where we are headed

And I may be just grasping at straws

But in this moment, where my head is swimming in the possibilities

The future of my relations is almost indistinguishable from yours

And once I lay inside of you, consummating our bond

A simple I love you will be all that is needed

Followed by a kiss on the neck

And there isn’t shit I wouldn’t do for you!