Flaming martinis and other things of non-importance.

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Newark: I had a three hour layover with a seven and a half hour flight ahead of me, so after going to the bathroom twice out of boredom, I decided to get some food and drink that would make my eyes water a bit. So, I bought an overpriced panini and an extra dirty martini; the type of martini I ordered back home on a Friday night with the girls to wash away the agony of a week passed, and the dread of another to come. Only, the bar olives were stuffed with red chilies,  and the waiter cautioned me several times that my drink “wouldn’t taste right”. But I like the idea of a mingling of things that don’t seem quite right together, so my dirty martini became a sweaty, dirty martini. The red chili, a burning flame in the murky shallows of vodka. The taste a symphony of salty, smoky and spicy. Not overly complicated – just an added bite to an off-the-menu sort of drink. And I thought to myself -the way I always do when some form of symbolism strikes me- “There’s a bigger picture here.”

Things started out a bit rough at the airport several hours before. I couldn’t even find my airline – it was an affiliate of United with no mention of United anywhere – and it took over an hour and a half to check in because of countless issues. By the time I finally did, I was charged nearly $500 for two overweight bags. I reluctantly paid, fretting as a I always do, making calculations, thinking about paying what I did for 20 pounds of hairspray and nail polish. Then I literally ran to make my plane; I was the last one to board.  And then I decided to let it all go. Because it was done and was now a thing in the past. The simple past, for anyone who knows much about grammar.

Sitting in the airport in Newark, I was looking around at the people walking by: kids in marshmallow jackets being tugged by their parents, young couples holding hands strolling along kiosks of neck pillows and packs of gum, friends laughing and teasing as they sat lined along their terminals, eating Pizza Hut and sharing headphones with one another. That’s the candid beauty of an airport – the unexpected calm. Everyone is moving and sitting, rushing and waiting. Unknown sounds swarm through a sea of nationalities, humming as they float up through a ceiling of sun-stained glass. I pretend to know what country the words are from and laugh at myself for not having the slightest idea. They are just sounds to me and I can’t distinguish where one ends and another begins. I wonder if English sounds the same way to someone who doesn’t know it. I convince myself that isn’t the case.

I slept a little one my last flight – the only way I know to sleep on a plane: with my head tilted all the way back, mouth wide-open, mouth-breathing, my $20 neck pillow sitting on my lap. Then I heard the wheels, then felt the bump-bump-bump of an amateur landing. Careful as items in the overhead bins may have shifted during flight. Follow the signs to baggage claim.

I can’t completely convey the sinking feeling that takes place in the pit of ones stomach when luggage never makes it to the conveyor belt. Once you realize luggage is no longer coming up, you look around the belt with the conviction that you simply did not see your bag. Then panic slowly sets in, and you scour the area, walking around the entire belt. Then you start giving people dodgy looks, wondering who would take your bags. You make lunges at a few strangers before realizing that isn’t necessarily your black duffle bag they are wheeling behind them. Then there’s a calm sense of purpose as you walk up to the baggage help desk. Then anger as you realize the form you are filling out has been filled out a million times before and your things are no more important that any of those other times. Then the realization that those are your things. Then a returned sense of hope as, surely by now, your bag has been returned. Then more anger. Eventually, apathy takes over as you realize you can live without it all but secretly hope you don’t have to. There is a sense of victory once that bag arrives though.

So it has all been perfectly dramatic. The type of drama we all secretly crave so we have exciting stories to tell, the tools we use to keep our listeners on the edge of their seats. The way we leave 5 minutes after we should, tempting fate and congratulating ourselves when our bets pay off. And there have been more of these dramatic encounters, even in the last day, of tight deadlines, missing money, and getting lost in a city I know nothing about. But, tonight, after sitting on a tram 11 stops too long, getting dropped off somewhere on a bridge in the middle of nowhere, and eventually taking three trams to get back to my apartment, all I could think about was a little red chili that fit so unexpectedly well inside an otherwise ordinary martini.

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The Pied Piper of Lost Souls

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You are not a god. You’re a shark in the Sahara.

This is the embarrassing truth. The unfortunate end to the Emmy worthy performance  for all of your loyal fans. Because you are an actor. A poet with hollow words and shallow glances that are impossible to see through. You’re the piper and we are your mice. Your song is lovely. The tune, enchanting; spellbinding. But, your flute is small and your melody grows curious to seasoned ears. These crowds of scurrying feet soon realize that you have no idea where you are going. You wonder loosely and without purpose, aside from your resentment for the purpose of others. But still they follow. They’ve heard a lovely song before and they wait because they naively believe that is the song you want to play.

You play and you dance until you grow bored. Then, Oh Judas! Your tune turns bitter, cold, harsh. Then you stop. Leaving poor souls far from places they know and without the means to ever go back. Then it’s a new song. New followers. Same old lackluster performance. The lights are bright and blinding, but the show without a script, void of substance. And you do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Each time, convincing these little mice they are different. Old lies lay softly on unweathered hearts, you see.  And again. And again. And again. And again. You’re unimpressive, yet your feigned vulnerability lures these timid mice, these rats, these dogs.

No, you are not a god. You’re an exterminator with a tiny flute, doomed to play the only song you know. The only song you’ll ever know.

I’ll hear that song in Hell.

Day 118: 72 Things.

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I’ve clearly been delinquent on this daily posting about what I’m thankful for. I can blame it on a lot of things, but laziness wins out if you scrape all the bullshit out of the way. I majored in PR, so I’ve got enough bullshit to power a rocket to the moon and back.

After having a conversation today about my ’30 Before 30′ list, I realized I’ve done a lot in my life so far that I can be really happy about; proud of even. While I have friends with Superbowl rings and sitcoms who can toss humble pie into my face, I’m going to be proud anyway. Because good for them – I mean, really. Good for those people who have accomplished such amazing things; they’ve worked their butts off for it. But good for me too. I’ve not done too bad. You probably haven’t done too bad yourself if you think about what is really important to you. And if you haven’t done great, then get off your ass – time is perpetually running out.

While having goals is important, realizing what you have accomplished is equally so. I can’t say every moment in the last 25 years has resulted in the kind of photos that would allow me to run for office, but I’ve had a really good time being politically/socially/economically incorrect. I think life is something like 10% what you’d like to do and 90% what you actually muster up the courage to do.

Here’s my 90% so far:

  1. Swim with wild dolphins
  2. See the Grand Canyon
  3. Visit Roswell
  4. Appear on TV
  5. Kiss a stranger
  6. Help plan an event for charity
  7. See a solar eclipse
  8. Go whale watching
  9. Set free baby turtles
  10. Have a night in Vegas that stays in Vegas
  11. See the bats at Carlsbad Caverns
  12. Go to a rodeo
  13. Paint  pottery
  14. Perform on a stage
  15. Go to Disney World
  16. Pull an all-nighter
  17. Go Spalunking – that’s cave diving, people
  18. Break a bone (it was my middle finger, none the less)
  19. Get a tattoo
  20. Kiss someone of the same sex
  21. Graduate college (with two degrees even!)
  22. Ride on a trolley
  23. Sleep in an airport
  24. Have a near-death experience (coincides with the night in Vegas)
  25. Ride in a limo
  26. Build a float for a parade
  27. Go snorkeling
  28. Throw someone a surprise party
  29. Take a “hit” (I’m talking peace circles, not bar fights)
  30. Go white water rafting
  31. Go deep sea fishing
  32. Take the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  33. See an opera
  34. Go on a terrible first date
  35. Be a bridesmaid
  36. Adopt a pet
  37. Go ziplining
  38. Donate blood
  39. Learn an instrument
  40. Go to a concert
  41. Win something off the radio
  42. Go to a professional sporting event
  43. Visit the nation’s capital
  44. Ride a mechanical bull
  45. Tie a cherry stem in a knot
  46. Go skydiving
  47. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister
  48. Ride a jet ski
  49. Parasail
  50. See a tumbleweed
  51. Become student counsel president
  52. Go to a strip club
  53. Enjoy (or try to enjoy) a lapdance
  54. Ride on a party bus
  55. Dance on stage
  56. See the St. Louis Arch
  57. Wait tables for a living
  58. Build a snowman
  59. Take a roadtrip
  60. Sleep in a tent
  61. Wait in line on opening night of a movie so you’re the first one in
  62. See the Chicago Bean
  63. Build a gingerbread house
  64. Have surgery
  65. Bet on a horse race
  66. Build a sandcastle
  67. Water ski (or get drug behind a boat with water skis on.)
  68. Have a night on Bourbon Street
  69. March in a parade
  70. Be sent to the principal’s office
  71. See a shuttle launch
  72. Move to a foreign country (pending)

And I’m sure there are a lot more. But still, I’m off to an okay start. How many have you done off my list? What else have you done that you are proud of?

Day 61: Check the Plan Holiday Box

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I made some major strides in my holiday plans today. I know it’s August and a lot of people wouldn’t be worried about such things quite yet, but I’m crazy. I’ve spent the last week researching what cities I want to be in when. I ended up with a wonderful little trip consisting of Milan, Barcelona, Geneva, Amsterdam over 13 days. Purchased airfare, which was only $165 total, and now am working on hotels/hostels. There’s something about not having to share a bathroom that I like the idea of, but I know hostel living means lots of new friends. So I’m still working out the details. Who knows what will actually happen.

Let’s be honest, I will. Probably by the end of the week. I’m a planner. It’s a chromosome I can’t seem to isolate.

Day 60: Oversleeping, No Such Thing

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I was completely unproductive today and it was wonderful. I think I slept about 14 hours. When that happens, I like to tell myself that my body needs it – mostly so I don’t feel like I completely wasted my life. But I’m glad I had a recoup day of Shark Week, bad food and long naps.

Day 59: Dance, Dance

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Headed straight downtown after work to meet Paul for some shopping. That turned into dinner and drinks, which turned into me drinking too much at a little bar in Over the Rhine and crashing at his place so I didn’t have to drive home. I know I have a lot of these nights in my future, but there is something so great about catching up with a friend, walking around downtown aimlessly and dancing to Billboard’s Top Songs of the 80s on an overcrowded dance floor.

Day 58: The Beatles had it Wrong

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One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that you need a little more than just love sometimes. It’s so nice to think that if you care about someone and they care back, everything will work out okay in the end.

What a convenient, little story book lie.

It seems so many relationships are crumbling around me lately, and it’s easy to see that my friends are better off for it, but living in that moment, with that pain, is much different when it’s happening to you. We jump back into the arms of people we know aren’t right for us because we get scared. We get lonely… If only we could see our own relationships with the clarity that our friends do.

So the love is definitely the most important part of a relationship, whatever the context. But if both parties aren’t willing to make some sacrifices, to choke on their pride, to devote the time that’s needed to make the other person happy, than the love can’t survive, and eventually, it will die.

And that’s the best part. Our hearts self-preserve, let us heal, and move us on. We develop antibodies toward a person who makes us unhealthy, and the things that used to make our hearts crumble eventually just become ‘things.’ As much as it may hurt, it will hurt less eventually. As much as you think you may regret letting go because “if only a few things would change it would be perfect”, you won’t. Because it never will change.

It’s so much easier than we make it out to be. When it comes down to it, a person who wants to be with you will. A person who loves you will never make you feel small. You will curl up in each other’s arms and you will feel your hearts beating together, feel protected. You will have outrageously wonderful sex that you didn’t even know existed. You won’t have to worry why he hasn’t called, or frantically search for clues as to what you did wrong. He will send you flowers if flowers make you happy, or she’ll take you to Comic-con if that’s your ecstasy. The right person will go the extra mile with you, for you. They will let you cry when you need to cry, and won’t bring it up or laugh about it to their friends later. There will be respect and patience and a stronger desire to win your heart than win an argument.

I only know it because I’ve seen it, but I believe it. So don’t strive for a tragic sort of Romeo and Juliet love. Find a love that’s more easy than hard, more smiling than tears, more excitement than panic. It’s out there. You owe it to yourself to look around bit.