Sleeping Around


My friend Michelle who has an irrational fear of escalators volunteered to go mattress shopping with me. Seeing as I had never done it before, I wasn’t sure what a good mattress shopping co-pilot needed to have.

As it turns out, somebody who is afraid of things that move automatically is a good partner for buying something that stays completely still.

We started our search at the second largest department store in the world, the Macy’s in Herald Square. We made our way up to the mattress floor where I was immediately overwhelmed.

There were easily over 100 mattresses out. This was going to be way more complicated than I had hoped.

Luckily a salesperson comes over to us and starts to walk (or lay as it were) us through the process.

He starts us out on some $2,300 dollar mattresses. I assume this is standard practice. Start the customer out on the most expensive mattress and then gradually work them down to the less expensive mattresses.

Except we never really got to the really inexpensive ones. He just kept taking us from one expensive mattress to the next. I was too embarrassed to tell him I couldn’t afford to sleep that well.

The sales person then ask me if I want to try memory foam. I thought I wanted to. But Michelle who, in addition to her irrational fear of escalators, also has a wealth of knowledge about eco-friendly products for the home, whispered in my ear “Memory foam is the most toxic element in your home. It off gasses throughout the night.”

Little did I know I had to be aware of off-gassing, which apparently is not just something I do during the night. Technically it means to emit toxic fumes based on the chemicals that were used to prepare the material.

Great. So not only am I crippling myself I am also gassing myself to death.

I turn back to the sales person.

Umm I don’t think Memory foam is for me.

So we continued testing out the non-memory foam mattresses.

Firm, plush, cushion, plush firm, cushion firm, medium plush. Every single time I laid down on the mattress I immediately forgot the type of the mattress I was laying on.

Also, I started dozing off.



Some it was easy to tell right away were too hard or too firm. I felt like Goldilocks and the 100 mattresses.

Some of the display mattresses had two different feels, split right down the middle so you could test out both sides. Michelle and I did this by doing a mattress fire drill. One of us getting up and running around to the other side, the other rolling over.

The whole time I was testing out mattresses I kept wondering two things to myself:

Is this mattress right for me?
And
Am I getting bed bugs?

While I was focused on flopping around on every single mattress like a fish...



And also, how much everything cost, Michelle was focused on important things like, asking questions that made sense.

Despite her best efforts to learn things, we had a lot of laughs, and we made a lot of jokes, many of which our sales person did not laugh at.

But even though we were having a ball, we were there on serious business. My mattress was killing me and I needed a solution. But as the testing went on I realized that this probably wasn’t going to be something I could accomplish in a single day.

There were definitely mattresses I did like, but after lying on two dozen different mattresses of varying levels of firmness I couldn’t really tell the differences between the ones I did like.

Michelle suggested we go to another store that had some more eco-friendly options. I readily complied. As we made our way to the next store we passed another mattress shop and Michelle grabbed my arm:

The mattresses in here are $35,000, let’s go lay on them.

Michelle can be very convincing.

So we walk into the beautiful airy space and lay down on mattresses that cost more than any car I have ever driven, never mind owned.

We lay down on a mattress and I feel good knowing that I am laying on an organic mattress made from sustainably acquired horse hair, even though I’m not quite sure what all of that means.

Michelle then expresses interest in trying out another type of mattress.

At this point I’m just along for the ride since I have resigned myself to just having bad nights of sleep on the floor for the rest of my life.

Our sales person then starts to speak. 

You can try out this next mattress but it’s in the display window…
Yes!

Things were about to get awesome.

So there we are lying in this mattress in the display window.


And our sales person is talking to us but I am having a hard time not smiling because out of the corner of my eye I can see people on the street laughing at us which is making me laugh.

It’s ridiculous to pretend that this situation is not ridiculous so I start waving at people as they walk by. Which in turn makes them laugh more, which makes Michelle laugh, which makes me laugh even more, so that I’m laying with my friend, in a bed I can’t afford, laughing at strangers I don’t know, while a sales person I just met slowly comes to the realization that there is no way I’m buying anything today.

We went to one more store where Michelle dared me to dive into a pile of 12 down comforters. I though this was a good idea. The staff of that store did not. The sales person there kindly asked me to get up but I could tell she really just wanted to kill me.

So to avoid death in a mattress store, we gladly left, moderately unsuccessful. And I returned to sleeping on my couch until I host some sort of mattress fundraiser or win the lottery.

Or I could just buy a memory foam mattress and sleep in a gas mask.

Sliding Slowly Down the Mountain


How do you feel?

This is the question everybody keeps asking me.

After nearly 6 months of working to bring a play from idea to implementation, after beating a script into submission, hunting for theaters, soliciting actors, rehearsing to ungodly hours, doubting every facet of my life, and more restless sleep than I care to remember… I’m not sure how I feel.

I know I am incredibly proud of the show, I felt warmed, and purged, and impressed, and wowed and fulfilled, but this past week has almost felt like a hangover.

I know I don't feel numb, it's actually quite the opposite, I think I feel everything. Kind of like being underwater, where every sense on your body feels something, like you’re enveloped.

I do know I feel tired. I haven't felt this tired in years, since I was 21 and running homecoming for my school. A week of events had left me so drained that I fell asleep sitting up at the lunch table on the last day. The mayor was sitting across from me, kicked me under the table and said

Hey, go home and go to bed.

This feels kind of like that.

How does one even begin to contextualize something like this? How can I make others understand when I myself have barely managed to wrap my brain around it. I think about every moment of the process every hour of every day. I quote the play in my head. I replay conversations I had with my actors. I relive the feedback I heard from the attendees. It is like the entire experience is on loop in my head and I kind of can’t stop it long enough to realize:

A: It’s over.
B: What that means?

People also keep asking me what’s next. And while I know, I’ve known for months what my next project would be… I’m not ready to look at it yet.

It’s kind of like finishing a really amazing dinner. A meal that was slow cooked that you took your time to savor than lives on your tongue long after your plate is cleared. And the natural instinct is to start the next course, or dessert, but I’m not ready for the sensation on my tongue to dissipate yet.

This project took so much out of me in the best way possible. I honestly believe by the time Saturday night came, and my actors took their last bow… I had nearly nothing left to give.

Every night of the show I watched from the back of the theater, trying to gage the audiences reactions by their faces, trying to anticipate how it was making them feel. My head swiveled back and forth from my incredible actors to the audience. Back and forth, back and forth.

But on the last night I had a hard time watching the show. It had nothing to do with the fact that I knew exactly how it would go, or that I had seen it dozens and dozens of times. Something about the fact that this was the last time it was going to happen made it almost unbearable to watch.

Logic says to me that it should have been the opposite, that I should have been glued to their performance, but for some reason, not knowing if I would ever see it staged again almost… hurt.

And so these last 7 days I too have almost hurt. I feel slow, purged but at the same time sluggish, laden with all of the emotions I struggled with over the last 6 months… over the last year.

I have had crazy dreams every single night. Wild dreams with diverse casts of characters in far off places, a result no doubt of having repressed my creativity for anything except this very project.

My emotions have been so close to the surface. The first two shows I did I felt this overwhelming storm of tears brewing within me, and sure enough sometime after the show ended, those tears came in force, no doubt aided by alcohol.

This time was different. Seemingly little things bring tears. A story from my actor telling me what she appreciated about the show. Questions from friends about how this affected me. And as always, self realizations about who I am or am not.

All of this has made it feel like I am walking through sand the last week. Not getting anywhere quickly, incredibly aware of how much energy it takes.

And this might not make sense, but the way I feel, the way I have been this past week has almost felt… earned. Like I deserved it. In some sick way, this exhaustion is almost exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted to feel.

One of my good friends who came to the show and I were talking last week about the important attributes artists need to have to be successful. I mentioned vision. We went back and forth a little bit about it but as I sit here now and write this, I realize how important it has been for me.

The ability to see where I want to go, to trust that I have the ability to take myself there, that I can will myself into something more than I was when I woke up this morning, that such a thing or place exists, to me that has become more important than ever before.

So I turn my eyes to the future, to unknown lands, and to the next mountain I look forward to sliding slowly down.

Window Pain

I spent a lot of time staring out my window growing up. It’s just another thing dogs and I have in common (overeating, drooling, barking in our sleep). And I was reminded of that last week when a hurricane hit New York.

Granted by the time the hurricane arrived it was more of a tropical storm. But either way, I was pretty mellow until it hit. I kept playing it down about how I wasn’t that worried and it wasn’t going to be a big deal. Nonetheless I picked up some items from the grocery store and settled in for the weekend.

Friday and Saturday brought nothing much but when Sunday morning hit, the winds were blowing like crazy and the trees outside my top floor apartment were swaying and blowing in a way that kept making me worrying about what kind of insurance I had.

The trees kept swaying dramatically. And seeing how my apartment is next to trees that are probably 100 feet tall I suddenly realized…

I have a very good reason to be concerned.

The trees were bending and swaying so severely that I thought I might be a good idea to not sit so close to my window. And that is tough, because my computer is right next to my window. So I just sat on the opposite side of my living room being afraid of what the hell might happen to my window.

But the windows of my life have not typically been a happy entry point.

I remember being in college where I lived on the first floor of my dorm.  It was the handicapped dorm (a story for another day) and there was a window that went from floor to ceiling, about 8 feet high.

My bed was against the same wall as the window and the foot of it lined up just with the edge of the window.

Typically I would stay up late downloading songs from whatever service Napster had given birth to and watching MTV because I had never had cable before and I was absolutely stupid with excitement about it.

Most nights I would fall asleep pretty soundly, sometimes waking up to hear people being loud in the hallway as they stumbled in from being drunk at some frat party or other location that served alcohol to freshmen.

I shared a bathroom with a guy who was also the only person in his room and he was a nice enough kid, an artist who I didn’t talk too much and didn’t think much about.

My roommate had a friend that we’ll call Sara. I liked Sara; she seemed interested in my life and had big nice eyes and an easy smile. We’d interact maybe every other week and that’s about it.

Halfway into my stay at this dorm I was sound asleep in my dorm when somebody started banging on my door like they were part of a S.W.A.T. team. I woke up instantly and pulled my NY Yankees comforter around my neck.

I was terrified. Was it the cops? A robber?

If I had time to actually contemplate I would have realized neither of those could possibly have been true, but when its 2:30 in the morning and somebody is continuously banging on your door all you can think about is whether or not you are going to have to wash your sheets the next morning.

I didn’t move from my bed.

The next morning a kid down the hall came up to me and told me he thought he might have knocked on my door late at night because he wanted to hang out.

I didn’t ask him if he might have been completely out of his ever-loving mind. I just said,

Oh I’m not sure I heard it.

In fact, several people had a predilection for banging on different parts of my dorm room. It was as if there was some sort of notice that had gone out that said:

The Freshman in 1D is insecure and extremely paranoid, please take advantage.

Not too long thereafter I was lying in my bed sound asleep when I somebody started banging on my window like a savage looking for a meal.

Now there is a big difference between somebody banging on your door and somebody banging on your window.

If somebody bangs on your door it could be a variety of explanations. It could be people in danger, police, security, fireman etc.

But when somebody bangs on your window all it can be is somebody who is completely out of their mind or somebody who is trying to kill you.

Mind you it is 4 am. And whoever is outside my window is banging on it over and over again. I am terrified. I am clenching my blanket so tightly that there is no blood left in my hands.

The banging stops and my heart slows down, but just barely.

It is hours before I fall back to sleep.

Several days later I run into my roommates friend Sara. She tells me:

Yea we were hanging out pretty late the other night. I took my friend’s aderall and was banging on peoples’ windows. I think I banged on yours.  Did you hear it?

I panic and not wanting to make her feel bad… for scaring the shit out of me while on drugs at 4 o’clock in the damn morning, I say: 

No I don’t think I heard anything.

Thankfully, those were the only incidences of people expressing high interest in interacting with me late at night. But regardless of whether I am in a dorm or my own apartment, a loud bang or noise in the middle of the night still makes me wonder when I wake up:

Should I change my sheets?

I'm Done

I've come to a decision: I'm ready to retire.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Rich you are too young and full of pep and zest to head south for the rest of your life!" But I really don't think I am. I've taken stock of the things I enjoy in my life, and the things I would be able to do as a retiree, and aside from the fact that I have no idea how I would be able to support myself financially... I really do think it is about time for me to retire.

As I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I have started to wonder: shouldn't I be a millionaire already?

When I was in my teens I looked at 25 as the pinnacle of my life. That would be the year of my prime, the year in which I was wanted by gorgeous women, making tons of money and reveling in my success.Well since rounding 26 and heading deeper into this decade of my life, I realize the only gorgeous women who want me are those who need a jar of jelly opened. I certainly don't make tons of money. And after some unmet expectations, I have redefined success as getting through the whole day with my fly closed.

So if I can't have the life I had anticipated, I might as well fast forward to the end of this movie and head right into retirement. I think it is really the best option at this point.

My parents are retired and living in South Carolina. This is a fine place to retire. Visiting them makes me realize that while I may have to give up certain things I enjoy to live in a place like they do, the benefits to my life would far outweigh any losses I would suffer.

Here is why I think I should retire.

While I enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle I also really like doing nothing. Not the kind of nothing that involves bumming around the house, fiddling with this and that. No. I mean nothing! Staring out the window at a tree kind of nothing. Doing so much nothing that I fall asleep because I am so relaxed. That is the kind of nothing I can really sink my teeth into.

Here is a rough itinerary for the days I typically spend visiting my parents.

Wake up, eat, golf, eat, nap, eat, watch TV, read, eat, sleep.

This is by far the most beautiful schedule I have ever seen. Picasso couldn't have painted a better schedule if he put its nose on the side of its face. Now the activities may switch place or occur in a different order, and once in a while there will be something additional like "shopping" or "visit Savannah" or "eat thirty cookies" thrown in. But for the most part, the schedule here is pretty accurate.

I would like to take this moment to point out that the golf is not a fixed structure on the calendar. While I generally enjoy golf I am so bad at it I really do question why I continue to play. It is a sport that entails a fair amount of adding. And the way I swing the club I have to do a lot of adding. The ball never goes in a straight path. And I usually end up spending half the day walking around the woods like I'm trailing Sacagawea.

Retirement relaxes you... I'm guessing. At least I feel relaxed when I am pretending I am retired. The only reason I even wear my watch when I visit is to make sure I didn't miss my tee time. Otherwise who needs a watch? What was I going to miss? It is always time to eat a cookie and take a nap. Always.

And as for my phone I just leave it in my room. Nobody calls me. The only person that calls me is my friend Megan and I'm pretty much the only person that calls her. So if we both walked around without our phones the only thing we would be wondering about is what the other person is doing.

In fact a lot of the time I turn my phone off. Why not? Nobody is going to call me to ask me to have dinner or hang out or anything like that. All my friends are 800 miles away. Who is calling me? Phone, you can be turned off.

I want to lead a life like these dogs I saw in the backyard of one of the houses on the golf course.


Any place where dogs hang out on lounge chairs has to have something really special about it.

Now maybe you think I am going to miss out on some really important things by skipping right to retirement.

Like what?

Working for 40 more years? Pass. Fighting commuters, crazy cab drivers, and mass hordes or tourists? Pass. Battling the freezing cold? Really pass.

The only concern I have is how I will support myself financially. And to be honest I really don't know how I will do it. But I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made in the untapped market of opening jars for old ladies. And as long as my fly stays up, I will have all the success I need.

Stress

My body breaks down once in a while.

Whether because of sickness or otherwise, it almost always coincides with major events in my life. This will be an event that is usually preceded by a long period of anticipation and heightened excitement, followed by a very intense, exciting day or week, which immediately is followed by the complete and total collapse of my body.

Some might call this being stressed out.

I went through a short period in college where I convinced myself that stress didn't exist. I read some magazine article that said stress was only another word for fear. I decided it was the gospel truth. I started proselytizing to anybody who would listen that stress doesn't exist.

Like so many other times in my life, I was wrong.

It was perhaps because the word gets so overused that I tried to limit my reliance on it. Everybody is always stressed. This is stressful, that is stressful. I was so fed up I just didn't want to listen to it anymore. I wanted to prove to people that stress didn't exist. I could prove to them stress doesn't exist.

It did not work. And years later things have changed a lot. In fact, I have been feeling stressed lately. But in all fairness it's actually kind of a good stress.

Kind of.

Through my own personal stroke of brilliance, I made a decision this summer that I had way too much free time and I wanted a project. So, as a direct result of that thought, in exactly 3 days from now, a 2 night run of short plays that I wrote and directed will be performed at a small off, off, off, take a left and keep going, off, Broadway theater in New York City.

The plays, presented in collaboration with my friend Andrea, are pretty much self-everything'd.

And by that I mean we have rented the theater, found the actors, set up the ticketing, arranged the rehearsals etc. I started writing the 2 plays in July. And then there were multiple drafts, and editing, and reworkings and discussions before we picked and booked a theater and a date for the performance to be held, thereby giving using a deadline we could not miss.

A deadline that has been increasing my heart rate the closer it comes.

Since then we have put a tremendous amount of time into getting all the different aspects of the show together that will be necessary to make it a success. And while I feel very much that I am on the eve of the thrill of my life, my body is well aware that the end is near, and is not handling the stress too well.

In fact, a hive or pimple (we are not sure yet) the size of a hobbit house has appeared on the side of my face.

Awesome, I know.

This is not exactly a normal occurrence for me, but I can't say I'm completely surprised either. My body has a history of reacting poorly to stressful times.

When I was in high school I spent 4 days at a convention in Orlando as part of my involvement in a student organization. I was running for the highest elected office in this organization. Every day was an early morning followed by a jam packed schedule and ending with a late night.

It was crazy, it was amazing, and it was exhausting. I was so sleep deprived, and nervous, and excited, and stressed that 2 Armageddon sized zits appeared on my forehead instantaneously.

I mean I went to bed looking like snow white and I woke up looking like, well, a stoplight.

We are talking very obvious red marks. So big that it looked like I was in the sights of a pair of snipers getting ready to shoot me in the forehead.

The following year was my senior year and was capped off by the last convention I would ever attend. Emotions ran high that weekend. It wasn't stressful in the same way it had been the year before, but still there was a familiar feeling there. Again nerves, and sleep deprivation crept up on me.

That last morning I had to give an introduction speech at the closing session for a distinguished guest who had become a good friend of mine. My speech was only 2 minutes, but my body just couldn't hold it together.

My left eye, not both eyes mind you, but my left eye ONLY, decided it needed to blink by itself. Frequently.

So for the next 120 seconds, my left eye closed by itself seemingly every 3 seconds. It looked like I was trying to flirt with every single person in the audience.

Perhaps it wouldn't have been so embarrassing if my introduction wasn't being projected on a 50 foot high screen behind me... in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.

In college stress got the better of me as well. My junior year I was on the homecoming committee and after a week of sleep deprivation and late night events full of intense physical activity requiring mental alertness, my body broke down. And I got shingles.

Yes I know it is an old man disease. That didn't make it any less worse for me.

In fact, I realize that staying up late and not sleeping has caused most of these horrid outbreaks and reactions. In high school and college I was never able to pull an all nighter. My body refused to do so.

I mean I tried. I made valiant efforts to work very late into the 1 am hour, but I would put my head down on my arm for a second and then boom! Next thing I know it was morning and I had a page full of derivatives stuck to my face.

In the recent weeks people keep asking me if I am excited for the plays to get put on. And I am. A little bit. But mainly I'm terrified.

Sure it is an exciting thing, and it will probably be a very unique experience to see the words that I wrote coming out of other people's mouths on a stage in front of of dozens of friends that I had to convince, coerce, and cajole to come to my show.

And I have a feeling the end will justify the means. But I have something else to worry about.

Crying.

And let me assure you, when I cry it is never a pretty sight.

To be continued...

Hostel Environment

Hostels, for those of you who may not know, are budget accommodations whereby travelers stay in dorm bedrooms of anywhere from 2 to 12 beds that come with either an en suite bathroom, or 1 for the entire floor. Some Hostels provide many amenities, some do not. And you pay a fraction of the price for a hotel or private lodging.

The first time I stayed in a hostel I was 20 years old. It was one of my first times traveling completely alone in a foreign country, in a new city where I didn’t know a soul. I was amazed at how easy it was to meet new people. The whole experience was exciting and I went on to stay at a dozen more throughout Western Europe. I had discovered a great way to see the world.

But three backpacking trips and somewhere over 30 hostels later, my views have started to evolve. I still agree that it is the cheapest and most unique way to see the world, meet people, and have adventures.

But I am 25 now and I’ve started to realize that it does require a certain mentality and spirit to stay in hostels. I’m not an elitist, I don’t think I am better than the other people staying in hostels, but I wonder if my mentality has changed. I wonder if the sun is setting on my time on this type of travel.

You meet a lot of people in hostels, people from all over the world. Mostly you meet other Americas, Canadians, Australians, Germans and people from the UK. This is not a bad thing per say but they just tend to be the people who travel most. People from Europe seem to stay in hostels well into their 40s and even beyond, but the Americans you meet in hostels tend to fall in the 18 to 23 age bracket. And I really noticed that more on this trip than any other

Perhaps it is because I am 25 now, in my 4th year out of college, that I became so aware on this trip. Generally the Americans you meet have just finished college, or are on a break, or taking a year off etc. Sure I meet people like myself taking 2 weeks off of work to see as much of the world as possible, but with each trip I take they are fewer and further between.

I am pretty comfortable with the whole hostel experience; I know the routine of checking in/out and how to go about making friends. But staying in a hostel is an exercise in tolerance. It is absolutely exhausting. The quality of a hostel itself is measured up against your desire to see that city on a dime. The more you want to see a place, the more you’re willing to put up with to see it.

You’ll put up with things like, bunk beds crafted by incompetent masochists that upon first glance, appear to be made of broken shards of used IKEA furniture. Or living out of the same backpack for days on end without doing laundry so that the smallest article of stinky clothing infiltrates the entire bag to create tour de force in revulsion any time you open your bag.

You begin to get very comfortable with yourself as you don’t really have a choice. When you don’t have a private place to change, being in a room full of strangers all in their underwear seems as natural as though you have been doing it your whole life. (Maybe you have, I’m not trying to judge)

I’ve already mentioned the snoring before, but oh god. It is a wonder any of these people will ever get married considering the sounds, moans, grunts, whistles, and wheezing that escapes them during sleep. Some nights I would open my eyes expecting to see a room full of baboons, or hyenas around me. But no, these were in fact human beings.

Walking into the bathrooms in hostels is always a hold your breath experience.

You hold your breath because you’re not sure how bad the bathroom is going to be once you get in it.
You hold your breath because it is either going to smell like the inside of a septic tank or some unfathomable assortment of chemicals used to kill the sense that you are inside of a septic tank.

And the bathroom is wet. Not just damp, but wet. The floor is soaked like the last 20 people to take a shower in there had pointed the nozzle straight up at the ceiling instead of towards the drain. Like the bathroom had JUST finished filming a raunchy Britney Spears video before I showed up.

I realized I had kind of hit a turning point with hostels on my last trip with the hostel in Uruguay where I spent 2 nights. I walk in and immediately the men’s bathroom smells like a severed foot left in a moldy locker full of expired hummus. There is water dripping everywhere of course, but despite all this I strip and get into the shower.

I am in there for about 3 minutes before I notice what appears to be a large piece of gauze stuck to the wall. I decide not to get a closer look. So I turned my head to the left to avoid looking at it, and I noticed what appeared to be a soaking wet pair of used blue briefs hanging on a pipe sticking out of the wall.

Awesome.

It was at that moment that I realized I might be done with hostels.

It’s not that that I don’t love traveling. I do. It’s very much a part of who I am and I value every trip I’ve taken. The opportunities that hostels provide are incredible. I have seen more of the world staying at hostels than I would have staying at any other hotel or budget accommodation.

Plus as an individual traveler it has allowed me to meet people that create unique experiences and incredible adventures that I wouldn’t otherwise just sitting on my bunk reading the complete Lord of the Rings Trilogy or an Ayn Rand novel.

But as I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I find myself wanting more. It’s not just wanting to stay in nicer places where I can have a guaranteed good nights rest instead of playing Russian Sleep Roulette. It’s more how I experience these places that I crave more out of.

When I first started staying in hostels I felt like I had been let in on some incredible community of travelers. And I have enjoyed being a part of that community.

But a different need has surfaced within me, a desire to travel with a friend or group of friends close to me. I have always said that I traveled by myself because I got to see whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and I had no one to rely on but myself. And I loved that. There is so much to see though, and sharing it with someone changes the experience.

My sister and I still talk about the trip we took to the south of France for a week, and the funny things that happened, and how I thought I won 400 dollars at the slot machine when I had actually only won 40, and the markets, and the hilarious fish dinner. That’s what I love! I love being able to paint a canvas of memories with my loved ones that we can always go back to and relive.

Currently many of my travel memories are wrapped up written stories and in the memories of people whose names I can’t remember and will never see again. And that is all well and good because I have always loved the independence I felt while traipsing the globe on my own. But I have proved to myself I can do it. I know I am capable of such things. I crave more.

What I seek now is to continue to experience the world and laugh and drink and be amazed with someone close to me. So that we can relive it at my Wedding, at my 50th birthday party, wherever.

If nothing else, if one day I am traveling in some far-off country with a friend and I find myself in the shower staring a pair of underwear… at least I’ll know whose it is.

JFK to Nowhere

Normally when someone goes on an exotic international adventure they start with some crazy tale of how they almost didn´t make it.

My tale will be no different.

My flight left on Friday at 10 am from JFK airport... or so I thought. Turns out I was leaving from LaGuardia... which I didn´t realize until I was already at JFK. So clad in my beachwear I ran outside (where the temperature was 8) to wait for a bus that didn´t come, got in a taxi, and while suffering the worst case of hypertension of my life, made it to LaGuardia airport to catch my flight to Atlanta, where I hung out for 2 hours before catching my flight to Peru, which left late, leaving me 15 minutes to get to my gate to catch my flight to Santiago.
As we are getting off the plane the flight attendant gets on and goes, ¨There are 2 people going to Santiago Chile, Joe shmo and Richard...¨

Dramatic pause

¨Boomka.¨
Hey that´s me! So me and my special attendant SPRINT through the Lima airport to catch my plane... and sit on it for 45 minutes before it took off... without my luggage.
Yea my bag didn´t make it until about 12 hours after I did. Oh well.

So I have spent the last 3 days in sunny Santiago (where it is about 90). It is somewhat blended city of no real skyline and an atrocious poo colored reservoir that runs through the middle. As well as an ungodly amount of large, depressing looking dogs who just lay in the middle of the sidewalk like they just got laid off. And don´t say awww because most of them look like they got the mange.

But despite all this I was excited to get out into the city and hone my Spanish skills.
I probably should have ACQUIRED some Spanish skills first because nobody in this city speaks English. My communication has been reduced to a series of awkward shrugs, confused pointing, and caveman like grunting. It´s actually kind of embarrassing that I can´t communicate better. This is by far the least English speaking country I have ever come across. I wouldn´t say this is a beautiful city necessarily but it is interesting.

My first night the hostel had an all meat barbq on the roof and I ate so much meat I expect to pass a fully formed cheesesteak at some point in the near future. I met some Aussies and some Brits and we went out and drank some Cristal. Not the champagne mind you, but the local beer. That and Escudo, both very drinkable. We got home from our dance party at around 3 am and I slept til almost noon, which is fine, because nothing really happens in this city until then.
I spent the next day at the city´s museums. I went to a Chilean History museum which essentially said this on every exhibit;

¨The indigenous people did this. Isn´t it interesting? Yea we don´t know why they did that.¨ 

Apparently early Chileans snorted a lot of drugs but nobody knows how they got them.

I checked out the modern art museum which had an entire floor dedicated to Chilean Comics... since I don´t really speak Spanish the whole thing was pretty much wasted on me. I also checked out the home of poet Pablo Neruda, where my guide was like a pint size version of the latter half of Cheech and Chong. His moustache was not to be reckoned with but he was by far one of the coolest people I have ever encountered and the tour was all the more awesome because of him.

I had a great lunch of Salad (I figured I could use the roughage after my all meat binge) and a glass of fresh strawberry juice. Delightful. I have so far avoided the local custom of a Hot Dog loaded with Mustard, Ketchup, and Avocado.

Oh my god I almost threw up just typing that.

Anyway today myself and some good kids from MIT went wine tasting at 2 different vineyards. It was way out of the way, and thank god I was with them because the power of 5 people not knowing Spanish was way better than my own incompetence. We squeezed 5 people into a cab several times, including on the way to a restaurant our cab driver did not recognize so he kept stopping and asking strangers on the street where it was eliciting the exact same reaction every time. They would extend their arm all the way as though they were pointing to the moon and presumably tell him to just keep going.

It ended up being worth it because my bacon wrapped steak, which was roughly the size of a duffel bag, was awesome. The vineyards were beautiful, decent wines, but I didn´t find any I wanted to take with.

Tomorrow morning I will abandon this city for the coast, 2 and a half days at Quintero to just chill and read and do squat. I cannot wait.

But before I go, my first horrible experience of the trip.

I did not sleep very well last night. Well I did from about 12:30 until 3:30 when I awoke with a shock to the awful sound of a family of sea lions being slaughtered. No no, no sea lions in my room. It was just the chubby German in the bunk across from mine wheezing and snoring like he was running some kind of comatose marathon.

At first I thought he had managed to accidentally slip his closed fist into his mouth and was trying to breathe around it. Then I was almost positive his entire arm had become lodged in his esophagus. This was excessive sleep apnea. Every snore got louder and louder until I was sure he was either going to wake up, or choke.

I have to admit I was sitting there praying for choke. But nothing happened it just got louder and louder. I wanted to throw something at him, or roll him over... or beat him to death, regretfully I did nothing. And so I spent a considerable amount of time listening to what evolved into him breathing through a mouthful of wet spaghetti. Hands down the most awful snoring I have ever heard. God help him if he is still there tonight.

To the Beach!