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Chasing The American Dream

July 30, 2007


I had an inkling it might be the last time. I’d already given him my customary goodbye hug and had told him to be a good doggie. But as I walked away from the couch I turned back to give him another hug. It turns out it was indeed the last one. Two weeks later, my little Zekie is gone. He lived a great life. Almost 15 years. I think what amazed me most about "Ears," as I affectionately called him, was that I only visited once a year for the past four years, yet every time he’d see me, I’d lie on the floor and he’d jump on my stomach and lick me to death, bad breath and all. I don’t know how he recognized me, but I believe he did. He was a great pet and a great friend. Our reunions were short but sweet and although I only got to see him once a year, I know I’ll miss him a lot. *Sigh*

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July 25, 2007


What do you think? Is it me?

July 23, 2007


He’s definitely changing. More than physically. After spending two weeks with him, I’m convinced that a teenager has replaced the boy in him. For me, it’s a little sad knowing how fast he’s grown up and that he’s past the boy stage. Physically he continues to grow, but his mind is working differently know. Last year, I did a top 10 of my observations. As I look back at them, I think all but six and seven are true. He got one B on his report card and he did cry this time. Here’s my top 10 observations for this year:

1 He’s definitely more opinionated. I’m used to making all the decisions on what we will do and eat, etc. Not anymore.
2 He’s into hip hop. I wish I could relate. I’m just grateful he’s into music.
3 Serious father-son conversations still upset him. There’s a fine line there that I’ve yet to figure out.
4 He’s into his two new cats. I think they are making him a happier kid.
5 We’ve been doing the water park resort for four years now. For the first time, I wonder if he’s gonna be too old for that next year?
6 He’s really into his hair and his clothes. Part of that teenage thing I was referring to.
7 Chocolate chip cookie dough is his favorite ice cream flavor unless we go to Cold Stone where Cake Batter takes over the #1 flavor. Ewww.
8 I love taking him to movies and hearing him laugh.
9 He’s already talking to me about what kind of car would be nice to drive.
10 He still likes to wrestle. But his kicks and chops and jumps are doing more damage to me these days. It’s not long before he kicks my a**
See additional pix at flickr badge


July 17, 2007


Thanks Cher; I needed that. Well in this case, it was my dear friend Greek who set me straight. She’s been trying, and it’s not that I haven’t listened. I have; I just haven’t been able to properly execute. I equate it to a golf swing of all things. In golf, mentally I know exactly what I need to do, but I can’t get my body to physically execute the proper swing.

Relationship/dating-wise, I’ve been hitting a lot of hooks and slices lately. Mentally I know what to do, but again, the execution is lacking. I’ve chronicled my failures time and again. I’m basically listing all the problems when I write yet I never solve any of them. That’s why I asked Greek for help. She’s been through it all, she knows me, and she recognizes my patterns. The latter is the key really. Patterns.

I’m basically setting myself up for failure time each time. Reasons? It gets back to patterns, as Greek pointed out. Internet dating, meeting emotionally needy women, getting emotionally attached too soon and prior to meeting them in person, and long distance. I couldn’t argue with any of that. She’s read my patterned history of pen pals/friendships, courtships, and ultimately disappointments. She asked me why I continue with these patterns when clearly they aren’t working. Good question. I guess I’m stuck in the moments and haven’t been able to completely step outside myself. I need to pay better attention to what’s happening. You’re right, Greek. And although I think I’ve made baby step progress, that’s not enough. Not nearly. I’m tired of doin’ the Elvis Presley Suspicious Minds thing where I’m, “Caught in a trap, I can’t walk out.” I’m done with the net for ’07. Subscriptions canceled not to be renewed. Locals only. Plus, I need to shift emphasis back to book writing. It shall be my #1 priority for the remainder of the year. Hope that doesn’t make for boring blog writing, but you guys understand, right???


July 14, 2007


How was yours? Lucky? Mine, not so much. First of all, it happened to be the 15th anniversary of my father’s passing. That weighed heavily on my mind all day. And then things started to happen. It all started at the movie theater. I took Andy to see Fantastic 4/Silver Surfer. I had made a comment about the people behind us not liking the Jackie Chan movie preview. Andy didn’t hear me so I moved my head closer to him so he could hear me. He did the same and we clunked heads. That clunk broke my super-glued glasses that I repaired the day before when I broke them jumping into the pool during a game of freeze tag. Anyway, I put the broken ‘arm’ in my pocket to be re-glued later.

Sometime later, and on panic-stricken mode, I felt for the piece of plastic, or O-Matter as Oakley calls it, and it was gone. Gone! I felt around my pockets over and over and searched the seat. Nope. Now Andy and I were underneath the seats looking in the dark for an eyeglass arm. What a scene. Luckily, I found it. It slipped out of my pocket and through the crack in the back of the seat. How it fell out, I’ll never know. I decided to hold onto it for the duration of the movie.

Movie’s over; Andy liked it. We’re good. We walk to the car, we find the car, which is always an accomplishment for me these days, and I reach into my pocket for the key. No key. Panic sets in once again. I immediately think either of two things have happened. Either I left the key in the ignition or the damn thing fell out of my pocket in the theater. I was hoping it was the latter. I looked into the car window and saw no key in the ignition. Phew, one disaster averted. So Andy and I run back (and it’s quite a long run in 109 degree weather) to the theater and explain to the guy at guest services what happens. Inside, I’m panicking but I’m trying to remain cool in front of Andy. The guy at guest services tells me to look in the theater while he checks his lost and found. Andy and I run back to the scene of the crime. We do the same search in the dark we did for the eyeglasses arm. Nothing on, near, around, or under the seats. Damn. Just about the time when the panic reached my throat, the dude shows up flashing a smile and my care key. Wow, what a relief!

On the way home, I wanted to fix my glasses. Something to get me by until I get home. I knew of a Lens Crafters store so we drove to it. We drove up to it and it looked deserted. I looked at my watch. 6:03. Hours of business? 10-6. I sorta said outloud, “What is goin’ on today,” and that’s when it hit me. Friday the 13th.

All-in-all, I thought it was a peculiar day and that I at least survived. No further blow-ups. Or so I thought. Alexander Graham Bell was quoted of saying something to the effect that, “When one door closes another door opens…” Do you believe in that? I like the concept of it, and lately, it’s been applying to me. I’ve been trying to meet people as you know. One by one, they fall by the wayside, but it seems the next one happens to come along. And so it was. After the Long Island disappointment, Atlanta came along. Circumstantially and personality-wise, the two were very similar. Met on Jdate. She contacted me. Liked my looks and personality. Divorced, child, smart, funny, attractive, professional, successful, the whole nine yards. Three enjoyable weeks, plans to meet, all that good stuff. Then she got real quiet for a few days. This is never a good sign so in the back of my mind, I’m ready for anything. Not really ready, but ready. Those of you who have been there know what I mean. So today she says we need to talk and catch up. Ding, ding, ding. The trouble in paradise alarm goes off in my head. I asked her if everything was ok and she said yes. We were supposed to talk last night. I guess I got out-ranked because we didn’t. This morning, I found out why. This was once again out of the blue, and I mean way way way out of the friggin’ blue:

Atlanta: there is something i need to share with you
plantationtodd: ok
Atlanta: please wait for me to type *close* before you say anything...so you know i'm done...
Atlanta: everything we have talked about is very real for me. i think you are an amazing person, thoughtful, kind & handsome. we have a lot in common and it's very real to me...
Atlanta: that said...
Atlanta: it makes it difficult for me to share with you that i've met someone...
Atlanta: and i care for you and respect you and need to be honest with you. i wasn't looking to meet someone else. it just happened. i'm sorry.

I’ve never really had a memorable Friday the 13th, good or bad. My only recollection of a Friday the 13th is going to a Devo concert in like 1983 or something. Well, now I have Friday, 7/13/07 to file away in the memory banks. To top it off, I have to leave Andy today. I know my mind is in the negative right now, but all this is really hot off the presses. I’m finding with my new perspective on life, that it takes me about a day to filter out all the negativity and then I’m back to normal. No more being depressed; no more retaining negative thoughts; and a positive outlook to the future. Remember, this IS the new me. And do you want to know what Mr. Bell finished saying? He actually said, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” The new me recognizes that. And so, Mr. Bell, I await anxiously for that next door to open.


July 13, 2007


So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Lyrics by John Mayer

There’s one thing I can safely say that I regret not having in my life. A daughter. Timing is everything and for a myriad of reasons that make for good writing, I never had another child after Andy. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m fortunate as hell to have the best kid in America (hey, I’m his dad; am I gonna say anything to the contrary?). But I think Andy’s life and my own would have been enriched with the presence of a sister/daughter. Throughout his life, he’s always enjoyed girls. It makes me wonder what kind of big brother he would have been to his little sister. And it makes me wonder what kind of father I would have been to my daughter. Let’s face it; boys for guys are easy. I don’t know, but I think having a daughter would have been more challenging for me.

I had all this spinning around in my mind yesterday during Andy’s all-day birthday party. He invited two friends to spend the day with us at the resort. He invited his next-door neighbors. A sister pair who became instant friends with him since day one. And so my friends, I got to play fantasy world. I had three kids for the day. One boy and two girls. The experience was awesome. I got to play, supervise, and observe. The kids were great. It was as if they could have been brother/sister although I suspect if they had, there would have been at least some fighting involved. Andy would have been a great big brother, I’m convinced. The girls were sweet and so well-behaved. They played like boys only a bit softer, I think. Less competitive perhaps. Their eating habits were similar, and they were sure attentive to what they wore and accessorizing. Yeah, it would have been interesting having a daughter. I’m glad I got to experience what it may have been like, if only for a day.


July 12, 2007


11 going on 21.


July 05, 2007


Hey, don’t blame me. Blame my crazed Yankee fan Ari for this one. The rules are such. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Uno. I fear public bathrooms and rarely use them. If I’m forced to, then I’m totally hands-off in there and carry around paper towels so I don’t have to touch anything. Gross.

Dos. My shoe size has grown from an 8 ½ to a 10 ½ in the past three years. Now if I can only get certain other things to grow…

Tres. I’m probably in the worst shape of my life. I hate myself for it. I need to lose 15 pounds and 2 waist sizes.

Cuatro. One of my favorite lines from a song comes from James Taylor’s Fire and Rain, “There’s just a few things comin’ my way this time around.” I keep waiting for this to come true.

Cinco. Those of you who don’t live down here in Miami may find it hard to believe that Caucasians are truly a minority. I went to a restaurant last night near where I grew up and I’d say the place was 98% Latin. My Spanish is rusty and I need to improve.

Seis. I haven’t had a really good kiss in almost nine months. Come to think of it, I haven’t had a kiss period in nine months.

Siete. I just wrote the ending to my book that I’ve been writing for 11 years now. Some of my best writing evolves during plane rides. At least I have American to thank for that.

Ocho. Ready for the big finish?? My random hang-ups off the top of my head. Does super glue stick to anything else besides your fingers? It never seems to hold anything together for me. What do you do when your cashier coughs in her hand and then proceeds to scan all of your items with that same hand? I short-circuit when that happens. Do you ever watch those guys back ‘there’ make sushi? Don’t. It may ruin your dinner. And why do some of those guys wear hats and some don’t? I want the hat dudes making mine, thank you. The less hair in my sushi, the better; don’t you agree? Speaking of restaurants, the side pour is an underrated skill. Don’t’cha hate it when they pour your water or tea with a straight pour and you get no ice? Skilled servers utilize the side pour where you get both liquid and ice. Oh, and let’s practice safe sips everyone. Use the straw. Servers these days seem to forget the below the rim delivery rule. No hands on the rim of your glass. So be alert; safe sips; use a straw. Restaurant terminology kills me. Marketing at its finest. How bout this one. ‘Fire-grilled.’ Isn’t that stating the obvious? ‘Finished with.’ Do I care? I realize the dish has to be finished with SOMETHING. ‘To perfection.’ Rarely is anything perfect, ya know? How about ‘x-crusted?’ Herb-crusted, potato-crusted, panko-crusted. Isn’t that just a fancy way of saying breaded? ‘Pan-seared.’ You mean fried? Hey I can bitch. I’m a former restaurant owner. And one more thing, beware the soup. It’s yesterday’s leftovers.

OK. 4 volunteers to play this game? I nominate:

1 Jess cuz she’s always bored
2 Melissa cuz she just re-entered the blogosphere
3 Aly cuz she’s never at a loss for words
4 Cat cuz she’s my ‘neighbor’


July 02, 2007


I’ve been convinced for some time now that I am travel cursed. I’ve written about some of my travel woes, and people who work with me love to hear my travel stories. I feel sorry for people who travel with me because ultimately they are trapped in my travel-cursed world. There was a group of us at work sharing and laughing at my travel tales of woe. A colleague of mine had the unenviable task of traveling with me for a business trip. He joked that nothing could go wrong this time because there would be no language barrier and no trains to catch. A simple trip to Chicago and Dallas. I told the group that I WOULD have stories for them when I got back.

I left the house last Sunday on a sunny day and met my colleague at the airport. He’s the same guy who said nothing could go wrong. I told him that he’s in my world and to expect the unexpected. Strangely, things were going according to plan. I actually got to the gate without incident. We were about 15 minutes from boarding when, seemingly out of the blue, a huge storm blew in. It rained hard for an hour, and we heard the airport had been temporarily closed. I looked at my colleague and told him, “It’s starting!” An hour delay is fairly minor in my travel world; I wouldn’t even consider it abnormal.

Abnormal began upon landing. I was sitting in a bulkhead row directly across from the flight attendant who was sitting in her jump seat. The pilot did his best to contribute to the curse by bouncing the landing really hard and abruptly. The flight attendant jumped and let out a little screech. I felt something invade my space, and I looked up to see the ceiling hanging by a thread by a bunch of wires about six inches from my head. I could only laugh. I’ve never seen anything like that except maybe in the movies. I looked back to my colleague who was supposed to be sitting next to me, but was one row behind me. He was laughing and telling me how happy he was that he wasn’t sitting next to me.

We went to get our bags and in the span of one hour watched our flight switch from carousel to carousel to finally disappearing all-together. I told my colleague that this was just all part of the curse. Our bags finally did show up and we’d made it through our first leg of the journey.

Once again, my travel stories became the topic of conversation with our group in Chicago. I told the group that this trip’s occurrences were only minor, and that I fully expected to have more stories for them by the time I got to Dallas. I sorta had a head start because according to American Airlines, I didn’t have a seat on the flight. I called our Admin. in Miami to have her check into it. She assured me I had a seat. Perhaps, but according to the American Airlines website, I didn’t. The next day, I decided to try to check in online. It said I couldn’t check in because I didn’t have a seat. I had that feeling that I was headed for another one of those weird situations.

We got to O’Hare, and there were seemingly a million people in the terminal. I didn’t think much of it since O’Hare’s one of the busiest airports in the country. But things began to get strange. The lines for check-in were huge. I saw a news camera, then another. After a long wait at the self-service check-in kiosk, I swiped my card and waited in anticipation to see if I had a seat or not on the 6 p.m. flight. Good news/bad news. I was surprised to see that I indeed had a seat. Unfortunately, my seat was for a 3 p.m. flight the next day. I told my colleague I’d see him in Dallas tomorrow. He laughed but when he checked in he discovered he was on the very same plane that I was on. Time to investigate.

According to the American Airlines rep, our flight was canceled. She then told me that hundreds of flights were canceled due to weather problems and that the whole airport was a mess. Aah, that explains the news cameras. And now that I looked around, I saw more and more news stations covering this “event.” Our options? Stand in a two-hour line or call American to re-book a flight. I didn’t like either option, so I went into scramble mode. I called our inept travel agent, and told her the story. She started looking for flights. American flights were sold out until that 3 p.m. flight the next day. I told her to search other airlines and she came up with an 8 a.m. United flight so I told her to book it. That meant we were staying in Chicago for the night so I told her to start looking for hotels for us. She said everything was sold out. So I called our Chicago folks who gave me five or six hotel options closely. After five sold outs, I got us two rooms at a nice Embassy Suites which even had a shuttle service. We were all set. My colleague gave me kudos for handling everything so smoothly and quickly. I told him I was used to it. I guess what disturbed me most was that when I went to the online check-in earlier in the day, it made no mention of the flight being canceled. It just told me I had no seat. My confidence in American was waning.

The next day started out normally enough, but it didn’t take long for that to change. I got pulled out of the security line for pre-screening. I looked back at my colleague who was, once again, laughing. Well, that was a mistake because since our itinerary was booked together, it meant he was coming with me to be pre-screened. There were no further incidents like the shoe incident, but when I got my bag back, there was a problem. They broke the handle on my bag. “File a claim,” was the cheery response I got. It was a pain trying to drag that bag around the airport with a short handle. The curse continued to haunt.

We made it to Dallas without further incident, and I had a wealth of travel stories to tell my new Dallas colleagues. Once again, I told them that I’d likely have another story for them when I got home to Miami. But could it be? No further strange happenings? I checked my bag because I didn’t want to lug it around the airport with the broken handle. I got through security with no issues and was on board the plane on-time and I had a seat. We only waited an extra 30 minutes before we taxied. Something about shifting the weight of the plane. We took off and landed fine. Yay. I said goodbye to my colleague who conceded that I was definitely travel cursed. I went to go get my bag. As usual, I was one of the last passengers waiting for their bag. Just once I’d like for my bag to come off early. And then the carousel stopped. No more bags were coming out. Could American really have lost my bag? A direct flight, no delays. How could this be? I waited two-hours in the baggage lost line. They told me my bag was removed from the plane when they did that weight shift thing. No worries though. It was on the next flight and I’d be getting a call from American at night and should have my bag the next day. Well, I got no call and got no bag. That was Friday. It’s now Monday and I still don’t have my bag. Oh yeah, I’m convinced. I’m most definitely travel cursed. And now it’s gonna get complicated. I leave for Phoenix on Wednesday. I have a feeling my bag won’t be here by then, and I may never see it. But perhaps my biggest fear is the airline I’m flying on Wednesday. Yeah, you guessed it. American.

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