Wednesday, June 29, 2005
When I got to the bar, there was a class reunion going on. I found out the Class of 1985 was having their 20th. When I heard this, I thought to myself "Man, only one more year, and I will be having my 20th reunion." And then, naturally, I started thinking about how time flies.
Twenty years ago, I started the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. Like everyone at that age, I thought I had my shit wired, but of course I didn't know squat about anything. I had tasted alcohol for the first time only a couple of months earlier. I'd had a few girlfriends, but nothing serious. I had no real idea about what I wanted to do with my life, but joining the Marine Corps, and working on computers were not things I would have put on my "to-do" list. I suppose I had planned on settling down and being a family man eventually, but I had always expected I'd be radically different from my parents. In all honesty, I don't remember much about what I had "planned" my life to be like; but I do know that I didn't expect it to be like this.
I was sure that I'd be among the cream of the crop in my chosen occupation, not just another cog in the machine. I knew that I'd be rich, as opposed to being middle class. I was positive that my parents would one day come to know, understand and agree with my way of thinking, but it was the other way around. I believed that my high school friendships would last a lifetime, not preparing myself for the reality that friendships, like pictures, often fade with the passing of time.
It's really funny how time works. When things are going good, time flies. When you're happy, time always seems to pass more quickly, no matter how much you try to hold onto the moment. When things are not so good, time is your enemy. You wish the unhappiness would end, and that you could get on with your life, but time seems to have a twisted sense of humor, and slows down during turbulent times. But the irony doesn't end there. As soon as an event or milestone has passed, it all seems to have gone by pretty quickly -- whether good or bad.
And so the cycle keeps going, at an ever-increasing rate of speed. Everyone says it... time goes faster as you get older. In my experience they're right, so I try to hold onto every minute. Even when I have a hectic day, and part of me wants it to end, I try to remember that life passes quickly. Every now and then, I long for retirement. But I quickly remember that I probably won't retire until 70 or so. While I may long for the slower pace of retirement, I'm not in such a hurry that I'm willing to wish the next thirty-odd years of my life away... that'll happen quickly enough.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
I knew this was a possibility this time, but we took some precautions, hoping to prevent another vet bill. Unfortunately, the dogs still managed to get into a fight, and once again my dog got her @$$ kicked. As you can see from the picture, she got ripped up pretty badly.
I've got to say that I'm NOT blaming my friends for what happened here. I believe they did their best to keep the dogs from fighting, and I know they feel horrible about the whole thing.
That said, I was crushed when I saw my poor canine companion's leg, and her head in that cone. It broke my heart to see her limping around, and I almost felt her pain when I saw all of the staples and drains in her leg. On the good side, there's no nerve or tendon damage, so she should make a full recovery.
I knew the kids were exhausted, so I told them it was time to sleep about an hour or so into the drive. Despite vehement protests from both kids, and statements to the effect of "I can't sleep in the car," they were both out within minutes. That made the drive far more peaceful, but by the time we got to Toledo, I was exhausted and the hotel was a very welcome sight.
We didn't stay in Canada very long. Just long enough to say we were there, and to get a couple of souvenirs for the kids... and to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. In retrospect, the most fun was crossing the bridge over the river. My older child is scared of heights and bridges, so she was really nervous crossing the bridge. That, of course, was part of the fun.
The biggest thing I noticed about Canada was how clean and well-manicured everything is... English gardens all over the place. It's almost scenic enough to move there.
The ride to and from is incredibly scenic. Like Cave of the Winds, it provides a different perspective of the Falls, showing nature in all of its force and beauty. As you get closer, it gets difficult to get good pictures of the Falls -- partially because of the constant mist created by the waterfalls, and partially because the churning water at the bottom of the falls causes the boat to rock quite a bit (not enough to get seasick though). Despite the difficulty in picture-taking though, the trip is breathtaking. Cave of the Winds gives you a great sense of the size of the falls, and gives you a great view. But nothing will give you a sense of the natural power of Niagara Falls like a ride on the Maid of the Mist.
I've gone to a lot of places and seen a lot of things in my life. But seeing the natural majesty of Niagara Falls will stand forever as one of the highlights of my life.
Soon after creating my dream vacation though, I came to one realization very quickly. I had neither the time, nor the money to do and see everything on my list. When I realized that, I had to ask myself "What are my objectives?" My first priority was to attend Adam's wedding, and to spare no expense in making this happen. A close second was to make sure that the little woman and the kids enjoyed the trip.
After understanding these objectives, I figured that I'd have to scale back on the things I wanted to do. Most importantly, I knew that the kids would enjoy the trip FAR less if they were cramped in a car for a long period of time. That automatically killed over half of the vacation. The fiancee and I decided that it was best if we took two days to travel out, and two to travel back... with plenty of stops along the way.
The kids both asked to hit a good amusement park too. (Hence our trip to Six Flags.) Considering that was the only thing they asked for, I figured that we had to do it. (I'm glad we did, but I've already covered that.) That killed another day. That only left two days, both of which were devoted to Adam's wedding and rehearsal. So I decided to drop EVERYTHING but the wedding and the amusement park -- including the trip to Niagara Falls.
But in every conversation I had while I was in Buffalo, I was asked "Are you going to see the Falls?" I kept saying that my schedule wouldn't allow it, but everyone said the same thing... "You've GOT to see the Falls!" So we all decided that we should visit Niagara Falls.
With all of the hype, I had some pretty high expectations -- so much so that I figured that the Falls wouldn't live up to the hype. I figured it'd be a huge tourist trap where everything was overpriced. I had heard that the American side of the Falls was dirty. I expected too many people and too little of the pristine nature that I'd prefer. I was wrong. Yeah, there were a couple of touristy places, there were a lot of people, and I did see a little litter on the American side. But I was stunned with how few people were there. I was pleasantly surprised with how little litter there was, and I was pleased with how reasonable the prices were. I'm very pleased that we went. It surpassed my expectations by leaps and bounds.
"We don't know the words," they'd say.
"I don't either, I'm gonna fake it," was my reply.
"I don't dance," they'd quip.
"I don't either, I just flop around like a fish out of water," I'd respond.
"Dad's acting weird," my daughter noted.
"You mean he's acting like the life of the party?" was my fiancee's answer.
It was the best time I'd had in ages. I hope that Adam and Cathy remember it as fondly as I do. I hope that it was one of the highlights of their lives, and that it lived up to their expectations.
They did one thing that was very unique and untraditional though. They refused to kiss when people clinked their glasses. "If you want us to kiss," they said, "you're gonna have to stand up and sing a song with the word 'love' in it." So we stood up and sang songs like "What's Love Got to do With It" and "Love Stinks" and "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'". It was a great twist to the wine glasses clinking.
The best part though, was the fellowship. Everyone in the wedding party seemed to get along very well, and there was a lot of laughter and joking.
In this picture, Adam's dad is chatting with the bride and groom.
The limo wasn't much help, because the limo developed a coolant leak, so the driver couldn't keep the car on, which prevented the a/c from working... so it was almost as hot in the limo as it was outside. Luckily though, the limo cooled off pretty quickly once we got on the road, and the beer and champagne cooled us off on the inside.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Here's a little something I haven't told them yet... They stole the song that my bride-to-be and I plan to play at our wedding... Come What May, from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.
When he asked me to be a groomsman, that only strengthened my resolve. I'm honored that he asked me to stand up at his wedding. The fact that I had the privilege of escorting his mom and dad down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony was icing on the cake.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Now don't get me wrong. Most of these laws make sense individually. The hands-free cell phone probably reduces accidents. The no idling law reduces smog. That's not the point. The point is that the legislators of New York feel the need to codify common sense and turn it into actual law. Are New Yorkers really that stupid? (And don't go getting your panties in a bunch. That's a rhetorical question, not something designed to bash on New Yorkers.)
The kids laughed hysterically when I got busted for speeding, and I'll probably never hear the end of it. But I guess that's fair. I have many, many embarrasing stories about the kids. It's only right that they have one or two stories about me.
I vaguely remember what it's like to be a kid. One of the things I remembered is that, on long trips, kids need to run around every now and then, or everyone suffers. In this shot, we stopped for lunch at Burger King and the kids played on the jungle gym after finishing their meal.
On the first day, I missed my brother, but I was able to see my uncle, aunt and of my cousins. The visit was cut short by sick kids, but it was good to visit for a bit nonetheless. The last time I saw them was at my Grandpa's funeral. I hope it's not so long next time.
Well, I finally got the opportunity to see several friends from my past last weekend. Adam found the woman of his dreams and they got married. I was asked to be in the wedding. I hadn't seen Adam, Gary, Jeannie and Ray in over a decade.
For the most part, it was as if we hadn't been apart for more than a week. Of course there were a couple of tell-tale signs reminding us how long it had been since we had last seen each other. I used to babysit Ray, and now he's a grown man. Last time I saw him, he was the same age and size as my older daughter is now, and he's gone and super-sized himself. Last time Adam saw my not-so-little-anymore girl (his Goddaughter), she was barely walking. Now she's almost a teenager.
It's amazing how time flies.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
My annual Memorial Day vacation is one of my favorite times of the year... a chance to get away from everything, hang out with some of my lifelong friends, tell stories, drink too many beers, eat too much food... you know, guy stuff.
Over the last few years though, we've been getting a little soft, and have accumulated a few creature comforts to make our rugged weekend of camping a little less uncomfortable. If you click here, you can see for yourself how soft we've gotten.