Sitting in my office in a comfy pair of my dark green house pants (no way in the world the wife would let me outside with these), I realize it’s already January 4th, and I finally feel like I’m shaking off the pneumonia that ravaged me last week, though this process has officially eaten about 2 weeks of my life since when it first kicked in, got treated, and started to subside.
My biggest accomplishment in this time is watching The Office, pretty much 60% of the way through. It definitely gets better by Season 2 when the characters arrive as who they were meant to be, as opposed to American clones of the British show. If you've never watched the show, the humor and the chemistry is done really well. I have to say I have new appreciation for Steve Carell after watching it as well because only he could be so dorky and politically incorrect and still create a level of empathy and support from the audience. Many of the characters now have routine jobs, and yeah, they're all likable... even Dwight and Angela.
As for the rest of life, I’m on the 50+% side of the recovery ladder, but there’s no way I’m going outside with the wind and snow today (even if Amish Paradise, Pennsylvania, doesn't require a shovel). The idea that there is a bombogenesis / bomb cyclone outside and I didn’t utilize my writing talents to create a better name for the social media world… yeah. That's free money lost. Note to self: don't miss out on free money opportunities.
Instead of wild, crazy energy, I’m healing my lungs and bemoaning my laziness / need to recover as opposed to running around local mountains with ice ax + crampons, much less driving the 2 miles to get a cheese steak, and let's keep it real. I really want one of them.
With regard to laziness, I can’t say I’ve followed the nap directions that my wife gave me very well or at all. In fact, I had no naps at all after the weekend. Frankly, I just couldn't sleep, and for better or worse, I'm back to post 1:00AM bedtime. I think the pneumonia and Parkinson's medications are all working together against me, despite not much motivation to get to work on my list of things to do for the year. Fortunately, I write better at night. Note to self: get off your butt and write, sort photos, and upload videos or read (keep those toes warm while you're doing it - the only place my PD internal furnace doesn't touch) at night and during the day.
Every year, I like to do the list of things that I want to do, but this year, I think it might be better to make a list of things I did last year, so yeah, I focused on the doing and not the did, so I'll add my list of did prior to that right now. Here, I think this is a good exercise for looking at how we made our lives what they are instead of just hoping they can be something else.
1. Happy wife / happy life time.
2. Keep Giving Parkinson's a what for while educating and advocating for its cure
3. Family time
4. Stay positive (mostly) in spite of the need for a new job and all that I went through with tire slashing / end of the term.
5. Supported student Ashley all the way to Beacon victory
6. NOLA trip
7. Iceland trip
8. Working on the Rules of the Game book and writing time.
9. Virginia Beach trip.
10. Saw Modern Baseball's final show.
11. Love in general is a good thing.
12. Hawk Mountain difficult, rocky back-end
13. Florida trip with Georgia
14. White Mountains trip
15. Georgia Trip
16. Museum Day with the Terracotta Warriors
17. Longwood Gardens Fountain return
18. Deep Sea Fishing with the wife
19. Support my wife's weight loss
20. Rise of the Jack O' Lanterns
21. Standing Stone Trail hikes
22. Climb to the top of the Pinnacle again
23. Finally saw Iron Maiden
24. Finally saw the Burning of Chambersburg
25. Fought back against Pneumonia and the end of Lyme disease, which definitely make life fun, especially when mixed with Parkinson's.
I’M NOT SURE THEY’RE ALL GOALS, BUT HERE ARE MY HAPPIER OUT THAN IN THOUGHTS FOR 2018.
1. More happy wife / happy life time.
2. Love in general is a good thing.
3. More family time
4. A new second job to compliment teaching at night is a good thing, too.
5. Be the best teacher I can be (change up my game from night 1)
6. More writing and publishing writing in general.
7. Try ice skating again
8. Finally finish editing my dang Rules of the Game book.
9. Finally start my Parkinson’s book.
10. Experience lots of great music
11. More Longwood Gardens time.
12. More reading… at least one book a week.
13. Return to Spruce Knob on the Mid-State Trail
14. Healthy time with positive food - not just cheese steaks (though cheese steaks, chocolate iced donuts, and fried chicken / fries are good things).
15. Lose weight (a 1 in front of my weight would be the bomb-diggity, especially if I have to cut back on cheese steaks).
16. Parkinson’s volunteer study work to go with advocate / educate on PD
17. Complete Great American Petroglyph Tour and hopefully have the Albuquerque Balloon Fest as part of it.
18. Long-term plans (will / living will power of attorney / finances)
19. Watch the Mardis Gras parades on TV
20. Downsize the piles of stuff in the house
21. Less procrastination
22. Climb to the top of the Pinnacle again
24. Mermaid Parade on Coney Island with Jackie Robinson grave visit
25. Plane trip out to the West Coast - California / Oregon / Washington trip revisited since things happened and we couldn't do it in 2014.
29. Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh - hopefully with my godson along to see the dueling T-Rexes, someday
30. Climb to the top of McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia
31. Get back to hiking shape with a serious Blue Marsh loop
32. Thousand Steps push to the the top of Jack's Mountain.
33. Return to Sullivan Run
34. Do the rocky back path of Hawk Mountain again.
35. Take my dad deep sea fishing for his Christmas present
36. Go see our friends from Florida when they come to New York City in February
37. Go to Georgia to see my wife’s family
38. Have a 3-tree Christmas
39. More time in the Siesta Zone
40. Go see Dave Chappelle
42. Finish the Lincoln Assassination Trail
43. Go see a live Major League Baseball game somewhere
44. Go see the elk in northern Pennsylvania again
46. Drive a Jeep (a real 1 – Wrangler).
47. Colder weather camping on trails this year
48. Go see Kevin Hart (have tickets)
49. Go see Electric Light Orchestra (have tickets)
50. Go see the Wizard of Oz (have tickets)
Some things are subject to time or change. We have a habit of putting things off, and some things here have been on the list for years. This is how we roll, so we'll consider this a long-term bucket list. It's not a 1 a week thing or something, much less an all this year thing, though there are things I do yearly like hike at French Creek State Park.
As you can see other than the obvious personal things, many of these things are travel things. Thus, I thought I would share a couple “how not to travel” stories with you.
The first of these was on our recent New Orleans trip. As previously stated, I’m very into the graveyards of NOLA. This began in a cemetery in Nottingham. There were all kinds of Gothic imagery, statues, and graves… definitely a huge cemetery, and it still stands out as one of the most memorable things I saw in England.
As for America, I had never seen anything close until I made it to St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans back in 1998. I had been there many times previously (at least 3) before this last trip, but now it seems that due to vandalism in multiple ways, only tour guides can take people in. As a result, time is limited, and I had to rush around to see it with video and digital camera (something I didn’t have previously).
I got a fair bit of imagery, but not what I would have liked to. My goal was several hundred photos, but alas… not so much. Thus, after seeing voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s graves (the real one and the fake one (the top picture)) and Nicholas Cage’s future grave (the bottom picture), we continued the graveyard tour to Lafayette Cemetery, where Anne Rice’s mythical Mayfair Witches are buried.
Yes, there is a tomb (bottom picture), but it’s not real. Go figure. We did have more time for touring there, so we did about half of it before going off on the other half of the tour, which was through the mansions of the Garden District. By the way, our tour guide was excellent in a literary / historical / jazz kind of way. I highly recommend this tour.
As for the guide, he sent us off to Metairie Cemetery, which is the cleanest of the 3 graveyards that we saw. We passed it going into NOLA day 1, and it was worth the trip, though we got there at about 4:30, and they were closing at 5:30. As I ran around from the car down the alleys of mausoleums, rushing in all of the statue photography I could accomplish as the darkness settled, I got quite a bit of photos, though no video. There simply wasn’t time. When I felt I had enough images, we decided to leave at 5:15 only to find the gate was already shut... 15 minutes early. Upon closer inspection, it wasn’t just “shut;” it was padlocked. Random thoughts of being locked in a cemetery filled my wife’s head as she couldn’t use her Jedi mind powers to open the lock, so I suggested we keep driving around and letting the GPS find us another exit since its choice of this one wasn’t working. Rather than just take my advice, she gave me a look that said, "If I'm locked in here with you, one of us will make it out in the morning, and your luck is pretty crappy."
Thus, I had to hope the universe would intervene on my behalf.
This left us with the other two options, which were A) find another vehicle to guide us or B) call the cops to rescue us. Fortunately, we didn’t need these options because we did find our way out via the funeral home, but for a few eternal minutes in the eternal Dead World Kingdom, it was touch and go if I would be joining a lot of dead rich people outside New Orleans for a Dead Man's Party.
As a result of this ordeal, the moral of the story is to get to the cemetery much earlier unless you want to test whether or not it is haunted. Also, there is a need for tact when stating, "Follow the GPS" or "In 10 minutes, this will be a funny story." Unless you have a death wish. I might.
This isn’t our craziest travel story, nor is it the most painful story (that would be my wife’s torn ACL in Icebox Canyon outside Vegas). This is one of the reasons why we take travel insurance. Between delays and weather, as well as crazy accidents (dropping a camera and dusting up the lens in Zion National Park + getting an engagement ring damaged via a lost tiny diamond on another trip), it’s nice to know Expedia covers it.
No, the worst story is a simple one, which involves a Jansport day pack, a butter knife, and a fork as well as a couple of TSA agents who discovered said butter knife that I forgot to unpack before we left for Vegas. When I got pulled to the side of the line for that, I felt the pressure of wondering if I would be arrested for negligence for not unpacking my lunch utensils as the TSA agent told me my offense. When the words rang clear, I literally shook worse than any other Parkinson’s tremor moment I ever had, and the agent looked at me and told me to just throw it away. This is good because (like Will Ferrell in Get Hard), I wouldn't do well in prison.
For good measure, I threw the fork away, too. No point taking chances, you know. I guess that was an omen of the trip, but it was definitely a moment in my history, and I'm sure that my wife would tell me that said butter knife is a funny story, now that more than 10 minutes have gone by since it occurred (the same as she informs me of how funny it was to watch a pine cone fall out of a tree and smack me in the groin, even now, years later).
As a result, the moral of this other story is dump out whatever bag you’re taking with you on your trip to make sure it’s on the up and up before you go through the line (and when you go through the line, be mellow and follow the "yes, sir / ma'am" guidance). Well, do this unless you want to feel like you’re going to end up on Fox News as the Butter Knife Guy – not to be affiliated with Richard Reid, Rashid Rauf and crew, or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (since those guys are scum of the earth and none of us, no matter how forgetful we are of the TSA’s list of things we can’t carry, are not that kind of horrible people for a momentary lapse of common sense).
Anyway, as time goes by and we complete our dream goals, I’m sure we’ll have many more funny and exciting travel stories, whether they’re continental or trying to get into another country (temporarily or permanently). It's what we do, and I hope you get to do it as well.
With that being said, I hope that your new year brings you many other journeys, outside and inside of your world to find better days and moments. You're good people. I like and want the best for you.
And most importantly, I hope it brings you a cure for Parkinson’s or whatever other ailment has led you or those you love to the challenges that pre-January 4th, 2018 have brought to your world.
Remember, you deserve the good things. Happy 2018! Thanks for reading, and thanks for letting me write for you!