Friday, September 30, 2005

The Keys to Adventure

I finished reading Kira Salak's "Four Corners" last night and couldn't help but stare at her photo on the cover. It's not as if she's overly attractive or anything like that--I was simply trying to put a face with the voice of the story.

I related to her tale, about traveling solo through a third world country and always asking yourself "why am I doing this?" And as Kira is not a literary magnate like Stephen King, I thought that with enough determination I could actually meet her.

"I'm determined to meet Kira Salak someday," I said to Sera.

I had been raving about this author to Sera since discovering her books a couple of weeks ago. Her writing style and ambition has truly helped and motivated my quest to finish my own novel. But instead of writing my comment off as another passing fancy, Sera turned to me and asked, "when is the Key West Literary Seminar?" (the four day writers seminar which includes, among many others, Kira Salak).

"It's January 4th through the 8th," I replied.

I wasn't sure where Sera was going with this. The seminar was sold out. And it was also too expensive, at $450, plus the cost of a hotel room for the entire four days.

She asked, "Will Kira be there the entire four days?"

I suddenly saw where Sera was heading. "Yes," I said excitedly, "because she'll be giving a short speech on the last day, which is free to the general public."

She responded, "Well, why don't we leave early Saturday morning (the next to last day) and drive down there? We can get a room for the night on Key West or on a neighboring Key."

There was no reason we couldn't do this. Key West is a 7 hour drive from Orlando. We could arrive early Saturday afternoon and spend the day looking for her. Half the fun would just be the adventure of driving down there (neither of us have ever been to the Keys) and then trying to find Kira that night. We would definitely see her on Sunday during her speech, and maybe get a chance to meet up with her afterwards.

"What if she thinks I'm a stalker?" I asked.

"I'll be there with you. It will look completely normal. Just act natural, compliment her on the book and don't expect too much."

And how amazing is Sera? Seeing how obsessed I've become with Kira Salak, and actually suggesting the idea that we drive all the way down to Key West for a chance meeting. I didn't even bother telling anyone at work about this plan. They would never understand. They laugh when I tell them about canoeing on a nearby river. They only get excited about mortgage rates and leaf blowers.

And Kira herself has a great quote at the end of the book that perfectly justifies our reasoning for embarking on such adventures, "But if I fear anything now, it's what I might be missing by not taking any chances and limiting the experiences of my life."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Neither Here Nor There

A friend and I were sitting at a bar the other week having typical random bar chat when the discussion turned to time travel. He had read that the most accepted theory of time travel lies in the idea that the world exists in an infinite number of parallel universes. There is no past or future; just an infinite number of present moments lying on different planes. At this very moment, you are 10 years old. At this very moment, you are having your first kiss. I liked that idea, and thought it may actually explain the feeling of deja vu.

The idea that I'm currently living in other periods of my life intrigues me. It makes me think back to a time when I felt the most free I've ever been:

I was backpacking through Europe one summer, when I met these two guys from Jacksonville, Jon and Darrin, and two girls from Vancouver, Barb and Pam, while in a train station in Florence. Barb and Pam had read about a small, secluded area called Cinque Terra (Five Towns), on the Italian Riviera. It wasn't known to many foreigners and was described as a secret idyllic escape. Jon and Darrin had just met Barb and Pam 10 minutes before I showed up, and invited me along to explore. An hour later we found ourselves on a train hugging the turquoise waters off the Italian coast, the sea spraying our faces from the open windows.

The five of us became immediate friends, and it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Travel always seems to bring about a special bonding.


Darrin, Barb, Jon, Pam and me (I'm going through one of my many wild hairstyles--the oversized tie-dye the only clean shirt I had left).



We spent our days lazing on the beach and drinking cheap wine in the coastal town of Monterroso. We could have stayed forever. But we knew there was more of this area to explore. Monterroso was but one town making up the "five towns." Other towns lay hidden in the valleys of the Alps or resting against the coastline. So we dropped most of our baggage off at the train station locker room and hiked our way through the neighboring mountains to see what else we might find. Armed with nothing more than our sleeping bags and a few necessities, we set off.

After a couple of hours hiking along the mountain's edge, we stumbled upon a site that would forever be embedded in my mind. Off the steep drop to our left lay a small town perched on a cliff jutting into the sea. It was perfect.


You can see the cave. The wall jutting out to the left of the cave is the cliff we would climb. Also note the lighthouse at the far end of the village.



Hiking our way down to the town, we found a local woman who agreed to rent out the top floor of her villa to us, including access to the roof. We paid in advance for five days and applauded ourselves for this fortuitous discovery. There were no tourists in this paradise--just locals on holiday. Vernazzo was a cobblestone maze of alleys flavored with family-style restaurants and homey shops. We were immediately made welcome, and hung out and sang with locals who strummed guitar(surprisingly, it was always songs like "Wish You Were Here" and "Hotel California") on the beach and in the streets. Every evening we'd drink wine from our rooftop and watch the sun fade behind distant mountaintops, its golden glow shimmering on the Mediterranean below.








Each night we'd hike through the cave behind the town and climb on top of its cliff. We'd strip off all our clothes, lie back and just be.



This was the first time in my life I had ever taken my clothes off with a group of people. I had felt insecure about my body since I was a teen, having always looked a lot younger than I really was. When I entered college at 17, I only looked about 14. But those three years are more like 30 when trying to fit in at that age, and it left an almost indelible impression on my fragile ego. People would ask me at parties "how old are you?" and say, "God, you look like a kid." I used to pass up chances to go skinny-dipping at the local pool, making excuses for why I couldn't go.

But now I felt so free of worries and inhibitions that it only felt natural to take my clothes off. I was surprised at how easily I did it, and how great it felt. The waves’ spray left the cliff’s rocky floor cold and slick under my back. The winds blowing off the dark sea buffeted my body, and for the first time in my life I felt truly alive. We all knew how special the moment was, and we just lay on our backs and stared into the night sky. I could feel myself drifting up into the celestial void, being sucked into a swirling panorama of stars. As Jim Morrison put it so aptly, "we were stoned, immaculate."

I vividly recall thinking, "this is the best I've ever felt in my life. I have no worries or concerns. I don't need to think about the future. I just need to think about now, and how beautiful now really is." I thought of my four friends, whom I had just met a few days earlier, and how close we had already become. They allowed me to permanently discard my inhibitions, and to forever feel free and natural.

And as I sit here now, typing this very sentence, I like to believe that I am still lying on that cliff wall. And that I will still be there tomorrow, when I head to work in the morning.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fantasy Will Set You Free

Sera and I went canoeing on the Wekiwa River today. It was the wake-up call I needed. Paddling downstream on a tranquil river of water lilies, floating past spongey marshes of stilted ibis and egrets. Alligators and turtles sunning on muddy banks, a deer crossing the river, an otter splashing about, a family of raccoons playing on the water's edge. THIS is my life. I have to do something to get out of this other life I'm pretending to live: Sitting in a cubicle. Pretending to be excited when my cube-neighbor, John, writes a new program. Applauding new product announcements when I really don't give a shit. Waking up at the crack of dawn after a fitful sleep to drive in each morning--only to stare at the clock tick 8 more hours of my life away. THIS IS NOT MY LIFE. I'm glad I've decided to focus on becoming a writer. It's my dream that gets me through the workday.

Everyone I work with has a house, and that depresses me at times. I had money for a house a few years ago, but instead decided to travel around the world. That was my lifelong dream, and it was an incredible experience. But at times I get very depressed hearing everyone at work discussing the value of their homes, their yards, their pools--I'm still living in a small apartment. And then I remind myself that I chose the path less traveled. These people have never been overseas--not a one. They are happy living in their nice homes in suburbia. Had I bought that house a few years ago I'd probably be even more depressed.

I used to zealously watch travel shows and dream of going to exotic places. That's all I ever thought about. I was broke, unemployed and living in New Jersey, watching a show on Komodo Island--there were dragons that ate people! Komodo was too surreal to exist outside of my living room in Jersey. I dreamed to visit a land that could only possibly exist in the most creative of imaginations. But it was reality--just not mine.

New Jersey and its refineries and the DuPont plant pumping chemicals in my backyard(they were literally down the street) was my reality. This dream of Komodo is what inspired me to get off my couch and get out of the depression I was in--to do whatever it took to get to that island. And then one sweltering hot day five years later, after floating around the South China Sea in a tiny wooden boat for two days, I stepped foot on Komodo Island. And suddenly it was New Jersey that couldn't possibly exist. Komodo had become my reality.

And after our little excursion today, and from my reading of Kira Salak's book "Four Corners," I realize this is not my life that I'm living. This is not my reality. I will work harder at getting out of this and doing what I want to do. Sure, I'd love to have a house someday. But not at the expense of giving up MY dreams. I just need to stay focused on what I want out of life. But for now I'll have to put my little happy face together. Because tomorrow is Monday and I need to be ready.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Obsession with Kira

As the subtitle of this blog indicates, I'm very obsessive compulsive. My latest obsession is with the writer Kira Salak. I absolutely love her work. I'm currently reading her second book, "Four Corners," and I can't put it down (I've had to put two other books that I'm simultaneously reading on hold). I've searched for everything I can find about her online--articles she's written, biographies about her, photos. While searching I stumbled upon something called the Key West Literary Seminar. Apparently it's held in early January of every year and features authors such as Amy Tan, Sebastian Junger, etc. I've never even heard of this. Well, this year, Kira will be there. I tried to get tickets but was informed it sells out a year in advance!

I told my co-worker, John, about this. And we ended up having a rather enlightening conversation:

"What would you ask her at the seminar?" John asked.

Realizing my trepidation of speaking in front of an audience (even just to ask a simple question), I answered, "nothing."

"So then why do you want to go?"

Hmmm...

"I was kind of hoping I can run into her at a local bar and we could get to talking," I reply.

"Oh, okay," Mike says while laughing, "you want to meet her in a bar."

The truth is, I'm a great conversationalist when I talk one on one with someone. I can usually get people, especially women, to open up like they never thought they could. I've had countless women say, "I can't believe we're actually talking about this." People feel very comfortable speaking with me on an individual basis. But in a group setting I just tense up. My heart races and I fear embarrassment, and usually keep all my thoughts to myself. It's a real struggle for me. So in this case I thought it would be fun to meet up with Kira in a bar and talk about travel, writing and anything else. Get her to open up and really get to know her. But I hadn't thought about how ridiculous this sounded until the conversation with Mike.

"Yes," I reply, feeling a bit foolish. "I thought we could just hang out somewhere."

"You don't think she'll be hanging out with the other writers and speakers? When would you even get a chance to meet up with her?

"Key West is small. I'm bound to see her," I said.

"Yes, you and all the other hundreds of people attending this seminar. Do you think you'll just run into her on the beach or at a bar, while she's alone, and the two of you will just hit it off?"

Sadly, I realize Mike is right. The seminar doesn't mean much to me. It's hanging out with Kira that I really want. Sometimes there are books that you enjoy so much and relate to you on such a level that you feel as if the writer was personally telling the story to you. And so you feel like you and the author are now good friends because they've opened up to you in such a way. And of course they wouldn't mind if you called them sometime just to chat or maybe meet up at a local bar--because you now have this connection. I think the book that most exemplifies this is "Catcher In The Rye." And if I'm not mistaken, I believe that Holden Caulfield even mentions this in the book.

So in the end I realize it's all just a fantasy. But eventually this obsession will wear thin and I'll move on to something else. I always do. Kind of sad, isn't it?

Finished Article...and some slight ranting

Well, I actually finished a short travel article. It went through a dozen or so rewrites, but it's done! The problem is, I went over it so many times that it no longer makes sense to me. Fortunately Sera isn't nearly as obsessive as I am and said it looks good. I had another friend read it over and he liked it as well. But I'll submit it tomorrow to the newspaper and see if they publish it. It's the first writing I've completed in several months (I won't even say how many because it frightens me). And since the weekend starts tomorrow, my goal will once again be to finish my novel. Hmmm...when have I heard THAT before?

Here's something that really bugs me. Sera is currently teaching paralegal courses at a local university (she's a lawyer). One of her students told her this week that she was dropping out because she has an arrest record and will never get hired by a law firm. She had been busted for marijuana a few years ago. To me that's a small offense, but the sad fact is she's right. No law firm will hire her. It makes me sick to think our society has become so discriminatory. Plenty of lawyers have done drugs (I know many of them myself) and other illicit activities. But if you happen to be unlucky enough to get caught, you're career is over. What you do outside of work is your business (not including crimes that hurt others).

It goes along with companies that do credit checks. I find that to be a total invasion of privacy. Why should your credit history get in the way of getting a job? It's total BS to claim that it's "ethical responsibility." What about this all-too-common scenario: a person loses their job. After 6 months they are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. It's tough luck and good luck. Now they start falling behind in their bills and BINGO! Bad credit. They finally get a decent job opportunity, only to have it pulled out from under because they have bad credit. It's almost a Catch-22. You get bad credit because you have no income, and now you can't get a job because you have bad credit. Our society's ideas of mores are well out of perspective and it's almost dividing our country into a caste system.

Just needed to vent a bit there. I feel much better now, thank you.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Getting Closer

I wrote in my novel a bit today. And though one of my driving forces for getting through the laborious work week is my desire to finish the book over the weekend, I am at least edging just a wee bit closer. I can see the end of the horizon. I just need to keep going forward.

I finished Kira Salak's "The Cruelest Journey," today. I really love her writing style. It gives a deep insight into her character as she travels alone to Timbuktu. I feel I can relate to her thoughts and lifestyle. I realize I need to incorporate more of my feelings as to why I'm doing such things when explaining my story in my novel. These types of books give me inspiration for my book. They're a learning and motivation tool to not only get me to finish the book, but to teach me how to open up and pour more of myself into the story. And hopefully I can do that soon when I begin the rewrite...after I've finished the first draft.

And now for something completely different.
Saw Paul McCartney last night in Tampa. He was absolutely brilliant. Forty plus years of performing live has definitely allowed him to put on a great show. It was a "feel good" type show, as much as I hate to use that pithy term. He talked about the early days with John and George, which I imagine must be difficult at times since they've both left us. I felt the highlight was when he performed solo on stage, playing early obscure Beatles songs on his acoustic guitar and discussing how he vividly recalls sitting in his parents' bedroom with John and George while writing. Isn't that what many of us want someday? To affectionately talk about the small, cluttered room where you wrote such and such? Hopefully I can do that someday about my novel. Hopefully soon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Coldplay

We were supposed to see Coldplay on Wed. night in Tampa. I really enjoy their music as I find it to be quite motivating and inspirational. Shortly before leaving for the show I get an e-mail stating it's been cancelled due to the singer, Chris Martin, falling ill. That pretty much put me in a dour mood the rest of the evening. So for the last couple of days I've been involved in the forum on the Coldplay website and have found it be very entertaining. A lot of pissed off fans griping about cancellations in Tampa and Birmingham, AL. There's a message from the manager saying they'll return to those areas in the spring--which has pissed people off even more. But as upset as I was over this, I had to put things in perspective. Most of our lives here in the first world have us stressed out about very material things. We need to buy a nice house, a nice car, wear expensive clothes. But there's a whole other side of the world that would laugh at our concerns about that stuff. The locals I met in Africa were happy to catch some fish and kill a fresh chicken for dinner and then relax in front of a bonfire on the beach. I mean, sure, I'm a bit annoyed about Coldplay's cancellation, but hey, there's more to the world than that.

Continuing with this whole concert thing, we're going to see Paul McCartney tomorrow in Tampa. Not that I'm a great fan of his, but I felt I owed it to myself to see a Beatle perform. Kind of like when I went to see Bob Dylan several years ago. I'm not his biggest fan, but as a fan of rock music I felt I needed to see one of the founding legends that helped fuel the entire industry. I mean what would music be like today if there had never been The Beatles? So since this is probably Paul's last tour, I owe it to myself. Usually when I see people like that I drift off into my own fantasy world. I'll watch him on stage and imagine him playing at those seedy clubs in Hamburg when The Beatles first started out. Picture him working on songwriting with John. Imagine him as a poor kid in Liverpool having no idea his life would turn out this way.

And speaking of classic concerts, what is up with the Rolling Stones? I've seen them play several times and would love to see them again, but I refuse to pay the usurious prices they're charging. Up to $450?!! That's pathetic. They have enough money. Is there any reason to rob fans like that? I remember being outraged when I had to fork out $17 to see The Police/REM/Joan Jett at Shea Stadium in 1983. But $450?? Nice way to thank all your loyal fans after all these years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

On Travel

I just got a couple of books from Amazon in the mail today. Kira Salak's "Four Corners" and "The Cruelest Journey." She travels alone through Africa and New Guinea. These are the travels I admire most-- solo exploration off the beaten track. I've done a lot of travelling on my own, and it's a life changing experience. The adventure of discovering new worlds is the best learning experience in life. Especially meeting the locals and getting a whole new perspective from their eyes on the world. I always feel as if I'm exploring myself as well as the culture around me. Perhaps that's why I feel so lost now, trying to settle into a stable home life. There's nothing to explore.

I admire Salak for doing such journeys, but most of all for successfully writing about them. That's where my problem lies. I've traveled much of the world and have written nothing about it. I've traveled across Africa and Borneo. I have a website about this which I'm currently redoing. Sera has to remind me that my website is my story. I just need to rewrite it to make it bookworthy. I read the first few pages of Salak's books and was very impressed. It's not written in an intimidating or pretentious style such as Paul Theroux, but more down to earth. It's writing like this that can motivate me. I was watching TV earlier and the main character kept saying, "Regret is worse than fear." That really applies to my situation, probably to all of ours.

To get out of slaving at a job all day I HAVE to write and get better at it. But I've been diligently writing in this blog and that's a start. Plus I have some good ideas for articles. I am feeling refreshed today. I'm eating better and I exercised this morning. Hopefully if I can keep this up it will also refresh my mind and allow to write more. We shall see.

A New Beginning

I called out sick today. My body feels completely drained without vigor or strength. I'm sure it's my poor eating habits. I mentioned earlier that I had only been eating once a day, and even that meal wasn't anything great. I feel like that guy in "Super Size Me," who after eating nothing but McDonald's felt like total shit. Mood swings, trouble sleeping, no energy. That's exactly how I feel.

So as of today, I'm going to eat better and start exercising. Last winter I had been playing racketball three times a week, walking a few miles each day and was using weights. Then the Florida heat came and racketball was out (it's an open air court), walks were out, and with all that I lost the motivation to lift weights. Perhaps this is an attribute of my stress.

I'm going to the mall later to see if I can find a blender to mix smoothies with. I'd love to feel energized all day--it helps you get through the work day so much easier when you're feeling right.

On another note--here's an interesting little story. Last week while at work I was on my way to the bathroom when I happened to pass a woman who was struggling to put some boxes on a shelf. Due to my thoughts being preoccupied elsewhere my muddled mind didn't register what she was doing until I had already passed. I turned to ask if she needed any help and saw that she had just finished. She turned and looked at me at that moment. Since she was done I turned and went into the bathroom. This took all of a half second. But while in the bathroom I realized something. She was wearing a short skirt and was completely bent over at the moment I glanced over at her. She probably thought I was looking at her ass.

I got home that night and told Sera about this.
"Was she facing you when you walked towards her?" she asked.
"Yes."
"So when you turned back to look at her, you were looking towards her bent over ass?"
"Yes."
"Then she definitely thought you were looking at her ass."

I felt bad about that, because I wasn't doing that at all. And it's too awkward to explain myself since I barely know this woman. I'm just hoping that one day we could happen to meet in a social setting and I could apologize. It would make for an amusing anectode. But for now she probably thinks I'm just such lecherous sleaze.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On Writing...and Reading

I wrote a lot in my novel today. It's just a rough first draft and I hate how it reads. But Sera keeps reminding me that this is just a first draft. My problem in the past when trying to write is that I'd rewrite the same pages over and over and never get anywhere with the book. Eventually I'd get so frustrated I'd just toss the whole thing. Her solution was for me to just write the entire book from start to finish without any rewrites. Just get the whole thing down. The farther along I get the more motivated I'll be to finish. It has worked in that this is the farthest I've ever gotten on a novel. I'm so close to finishing. But it just reads like garbage. I have all these great ideas for rewrites, but I know if I go back and do that I'll never finish. So for now I'm just going to keep going forward.

I'm a voracious reader. The library here in Orlando will deliver books to your home. I find that amazing. My obsessive compulsiveness leads me to order about a dozen books at once, and I often wind up with lots late fees as a result. I currently have 8 books out. I've also recently placed several recent orders at Amazon, and so I'm expecting quite a few more. I'm currently reading Gabriel-Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera." His books always intimidate me in that I doubt I can ever write that well. Writing teachers have always recommended reading bad novels to get motivated. I tried that once, but if the novel is that bad I just can't read it.

I'm very insecure about my writing, though people tell me they enjoy my style. I just don't know. I began reading "Leaving Las Vegas" by John O'Brien, which arrived from the library the other day. It's brilliantly written, and, of course, it intimidates me. Sera told me last night, "you have you're own writing style. Don't be so intimidated by others." I know she's right, but I need reaffirmation.

In case you don't know, O'Brien committed suicide a few years after the book was published. They were just getting ready to begin production on the film with Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue when he died. I wish I knew more about why he killed himself. He was such a talented writer. His book was a success and he was a part of the production of the film when he did it. I guess that wasn't enough. Kind of like that actor on "Suddenly Susan" who did the same thing. There's a lot more going on than fame and success.

The book I have is a first edition hardcover, printed before his death. The book jacket says, "...married happily in 1979." I spent a lot of time staring at his photograph and thinking about that. He hides behind dark glasses in the photo.
Don't most book jackets just say something like, "married to so and so...has 2 kids and a cat?" The "married happily" is what gets me since he ended up killing himself. Plus the book is supposed to be semi-autobiographical. It's about an alcoholic whose wife left him and he goes to Vegas to drink himself to death. Now, if this is an autobiography, does it make sense for the jacket to say, "happily married?" He was just so talented.

Anyway, at least I wrote something today. A lot actually. My book is an autobiography about a period where I was pretty much wasting my life away in NYC. It's supposed to be kind of funny, though that brief description doesn't exactly show it. I just want to get this thing done. But the important thing is I did write today and I'm determined to write more tomorrow.

Cops

I don't usually watch shows like "COPS," but happened to have it on in the background while working around the house yesterday. I found it to be very disturbing. They had an undercover female cop working as a prostitute along a well traveled road in the middle of the day. A old man agreed to meet her in a parking lot around the corner, and when he got there he was surrounded by two police cars. Five excited officers jumped out, guns fully drawn at the poor man, and asked him to get out. He must have been about 65, and he started crying. Is this where our tax dollars go? Including the undercover cop, there were 6 officers involved in a sting to lure an aged retiree into asking for sex. The undercover female cop was the only "hooker" on the street at the time. If she had not been there this poor man would have continued on to his destination. And plus, this could be the only way someone his age can even get sex.

These officers went out of their way to lure this poor guy into this horrible situation. And were 6 cops really needed to do this? And was it necessary to approach him with all their guns drawn? I mean, come on! I can think of many other things these cops can be doing with their day. I'm sure our tax dollars can be put to better use.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Trouble Sleeping

I've been having trouble sleeping the last few weeks and I don't know why. I think I'm okay, but then I wake up with pangs of stress in my stomach during the night. I'm always so tired when I go to work. The only thing that gets me through the week is the thought of disappearing into a nice long sleep over the weekend. But I end up waking up too early on Saturday and Sunday and I'm not sure why. Something is bothering me, but what?

I frequently have the same recurring dream. I have final exams coming up for classes I didn't even know I had. I had been constantly dropping classes at the beginning of the term and have just found out that I never dropped these particular ones. I panic at the thought of having to learn an entire semester's worth of work in a matter of days, plus the embarrassment of showing up for the final and everyone laughing at me because they've never seen me in class before. I've been out of school for years, but yet I still have this dream. It means I'm feeling unprepared about things. But what am I unprepared for now?

I have a decent enough job, but it drains me. I dread having to get up early five days a week and drag myself to a place where I have to spend the next 8-9 hours. Lately I've been trying to skip lunch so that I can get out early. It leaves me tired and hungry and a bit dizzy.
"I think you have an eating disorder," my co-worker Robert tells me the other day.

"It's not a disorder," I tell him. "I'm choosing not to eat lunch here so I can leave early."

"Well, whatever it is, it's not good for you." And it's not. I've only been eating once a day during the week. Though I guess it is a good way to lose weight.

The people I work with are nice, but I have nothing in common with them. The guy sitting in the cubicle directly across from me, John, is the most boring person I've ever met. He told me he doesn't like movies, doesn't read, doesn't watch television, has never travelled, doesn't go out. He is married, but I don't see what his wife could have found in him that made her say, "this is the one for me."

I'm the type of person who can't just sit quietly at work. I need some stimulation to keep me going. I'll start senseless conversations with John just because he's there.

"Hey, John, did you see that new movie?" I'll ask, already knowing the answer.

"No."

"Well, this is what it's about..."

"Hey, John, did you ever read this book by so and so?"

"No."

"Well, let me tell you about it."

Sometimes I can tell it annoys him, but hell, he's annoying me with his dullness.

The people I worked with in NYC were far more interesting. I once had a supervisor addicted to heroin. He'd come in all strung out, falling asleep in the middle of conversations. But he was also very well read. I never saw him without a book. We could talk about all types of interesting stuff. Another co-worker at that same job would sell himself in the gay area when he needed more money. But he was also very well read and loved to travel. We could talk about anything. I enjoyed that. The problem was, I didn't enjoy New York anymore. I was very stressed out about commuting to and from the city. I hated rush hour and its resulting animosity on the trains. I had several verbal altercations with strangers about space and seats. That's no way to live life. I also didn't like the fast pace of the city. My wife, Sera, noticed I always walked at least twice as fast when I was in Manhattan. I didn't even know I was doing that. The cold, miserable weather also depressed me there. It was time to leave.

I like Orlando. The weather suits me as does the slow pace of life. But my God, the people I work with are so FUCKING BORING!!! The only people I've been able to relate to at work have been the temps. We once had a temp who used to strip at Rachel's, a fancy strip club here. We'd go out to lunch and talk about everything from stripping and orgies to literature and film. I told her about the contrast between Orlando and New York.

"Look where you work," she said. "You work in a technology department of a large corporation of a conservative city. If you want to find intellectual stimulation you're gonna need to change careers."

She was right. I didn't work in technology back in New York. I bounced around various temp jobs. The other temps were like me--lost and confused, not knowing where exactly they fit in.

Enough for now. It's Saturday. My goal today is to read and work on my novel. I've got to finish it soon, if not this weekend.

Later.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Background

I'm trying to write a novel. I've been writing it on and off the past two years, mostly off. But lately it's been on. That's one of the reasons I'm starting this blog. I'm hoping that by having an outlet to write all my thoughts it'll motivate me to finish this book. The first draft of the book is three-quarters done. As good as that may sound, it was two-thirds done back in February.


I had my first article published a few months back for a newspaper. I was very excited about this as it gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my novel. I was not only going to finish the book, I was going to submit more articles and to a wider variety of papers and magazines. It was very exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I never wrote another article.


I'm often told, "you're different. But in a good way." I've never been sure what that meant. It reminds me of that scene in Taxi Driver where Cybil Shepard and Robert DeNiro are having coffee and she says, "I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like you." I'm no Travis Bickle, but there is a lot going on upstairs.


I've spent most of life in NYC, but have also lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris and London. I currently live in Orlando. The only time I've felt at home is when I'm away from it. Things are exciting when I move to a new place, but I quickly get bored and need to move on. I'm tired of living in a big city, which is why I'm now in Orlando. I enjoy it here, at least for now.


Welcome to my insanity.