Ambulance Chasers

Cole Porter dreams, and enchilada wishes happen in the desert. Palm Springs serves as my glittery backyard. It’s where the gay geriatrics lounge with martinis and collect art. They stare at mountains, art deco buildings, and shirtless men (of course). The gay desert is an escape from the shallowness of city life.

I’ve always been an ambulance chaser. This is other wise known as a “daddy chaser.” Although, wrinkles and grey hair are most appealing, age has always been just a number.

Hipster Boy, Meat-head, and Mr. Pseudo Intellectual were just a few of the fellows I dated. Inevitably, these counted as disaster dates. They also led me back to the Townhouse (a Piano bar) in New York City, where dapper older men sang alongside a piano, while sipping booze and discussing the latest Broadway hit.

My visits made me forget about the vile twenty-somethings, mentioned. My fascination for older men grew as I relocated, back to my hometown (which is fairly close to Palm Springs).

As a daddy chaser, I had all the right apps to meet men, virtually. However, after a terrible disaster date, I tried to delete the app. A most appealing man randomly messaged me.

He mirrored Nick Lachey (the cub version). After messaging me, I investigated his profile. “Only twenty-three? Shit” His messages were quite endearing, but I became weary. After disaster dates with Hipster Boy, Meat-Head and Mr. Pseudo Intellectual, dating a twenty-something didn’t appeal to me.

Revolting against common sense and preference, I sent him a message. Surprisingly, he was quite mature for twenty-three. His messages grew increasingly lovely. The messages were endless. Finally, I gave him my phone number, where he asked me out on a date at a Redlands coffee shop.

Obliging, Mr. Twenty-three became an ambulance chaser. My ego was suddenly boosted. However, I grew fearful. “If this works out, would I surrender into a parallel universe of cute couple photos, dinner by candle light, and snuggling on the couch?

Jadedness injected the soul with sharp pangs. Guilt kept me obliged to meet up. Coordinating my outfit, I received a text. “Will have to cancel, sorry.” Gloating, I responded back, “no worries”

“He’s so ghosting. He’s really ghosting” (the act where a fella texts and texts, then suddenly disappears). Surprise, he ended up texting me hours after canceling. Our correspondence continued. In a matter of days, he stopped texting.

It was my first relationship done entirely through text message. Having never met him, physically, I garnered an animosity toward modern technology. Men weren’t meeting other men in the real world, which remains disheartening.

“No cheesy couples’ photos! No romantic dinners! No cuddling on the couch!” I celebrated my spinsterhood. Predictably, Palm Springs beckoned. It’s an ambulance chaser’s dream.

Being the old cat lady would be swell, but what happens at eighty? There will be less of an abundance of older men to date. “ Thanks to modern technology and sophisticated medicine, one hundred year old gay men will still be sipping martinis and singing Cole Porter staples at the piano bar.

The Introvert Sips Espresso

Which asshole am I going to tell off today? Asked the eccentric man on the subway platform (I am being nice by using the word, eccentric). In the grand tradition of subway riders, everyone was unshaken, including me.

Public transportation can make the sane go insane. Man spreading, break dancers, sweat dripping from unknown sources, germs, germs, more germs, body odor, the possibility of contracting bed bugs, this ideally described the daily subway riding experience.

During my New York years, anxiety levels were raised high. In case of entrapment in a subway tunnel, I carried a Murse (man purse) full of distractions. Books, a sketchpad, sketching pencils, Batman notebook, and an iPOD filled with catchy tunes.

“Oh, geez, it would be swell to drive a car. No germs, no spreading, no surprise street performers!” After a nose wiggle, my quirky-self ended up in Riverside, CA. Strolling from coffee shop to coffee shop, driving a car through freshly scented orange groves, and reading on a bench, it was a perfect distraction from the chaos of New York City.

Within a month of returning to Riverside, I took the CBEST test (for my teaching credentials). Anxiety levels were at an all time-low. Yet all the Prozac in the world couldn’t rid the anxious clogging my head, upon taking the test.

A few weeks later, an email was sent. “Your test results are available, next day.” Smirking, I played it calm, “oh, well, there’s still fresh air and coffee in abundance.” Unfortunately, this New York/Riverside hybrid really proclaimed, “Shit, we’re all going to die. If I didn’t pass my test, everything is over.”

More riveting than electroshock therapy, anxiety levels rose, and rose, and rose. Even a relaxing drive through the beloved orange groves wouldn’t smash crazy in the nose.

Glancing at the passenger seat, the murse smiled back. It had an eyeglass-wearing cat plastered on the bag. “ The caption read, “Don’t bother me now, I am reading right meow.” Feeling nostalgic for the days of artistic therapy on the train, I took charge of my anxiety.

Heading to the coffee shop in the strip mall, breathing exercises followed. I drew gay cowboys, with tortoise shell glasses. It distracted anxious feelings for a bit. After an afternoon of cowboys and lattes, it was back to my humble track home.

Unexpectedly, anxiety, my old friend returned. “What happens if I didn’t pass the test?” The test results were emailed. The file opened. In (huge) bold letters the PDF read, “You did not pass the CBEST.”

My hours of studying were flushed down the grand toilet of life. However, being Mr. Optimistic, depression didn’t loom over me. For an hour, everything remained normal. The next day, anxiety turned into depression.

Failure and disappointment, it happened. Hiding in the Gay-ve (the gay man cave), depression wouldn’t subside. Great literature and pretty pictures couldn’t boost up morale.

After a day of licking wounds and dying of failure, I made a comeback. Carrying my murse, I marched to Wallgreen’s, bought notecards, and found an open table at Augie’s Coffee.

Taking a different approach to studying, plans to retake the test were cemented. No giving up for this future teacher of America. Life’s great villains (Algebra and multiple-choice tests) would receive a kick on the tuckus. Thank you, note cards, I’m ready for a test taking comeback.

Yawn, Otter, Yawn

Fuck, shit, fuck, a tragedy just rocked my campy existence. With tears streaming down, I glanced at the vertical mirror. “Hola, muffin, muff top, that is. For half a decade, my weight had stayed consistent. Finally, bagels, pizza, and nachos had taken their revenge.

Leaving the dressing room, traumatized, the inevitable persisted. I caved in and bought a gym membership. The Treadmill became a major yawn. Power walking and jogging ignited a yearning to eat carbohydrates, drink coffee, and read books.

Rather than dying of boredom, coffee shop culture made a surprise cameo on the treadmill, sans the coffee, or treats. Indie rock, a classic novel and the “infamous” Batman journal sustained a tolerable (working-out) experience.

Glancing around the gym, muscles, six packs and pecs were as common as sweat and germs. The guys had the cheesy,” hi, I’m a Chippendale’s dancer” look. Secretly, I wished to have similarly sculpted features.

Alas, in the gay galaxy, I belonged to the bear tribe. Bears could eat as many burritos as possible and still get dates. Chub and fur were the only pre-requisites.

Confidently, I stepped off the treadmill. Basking in my bit of bohemia, an inevitable interruption serenaded gay eardrums. It was the “Scruff” app notifying me of an interested fellow. “Hello, looking for a nice guy to date,” read the message.

Jaded from past disaster dates, I rolled my eyes. However, after a week of feeling rejected by one’s own trouser size, a date would elevate self-esteem. “ Otter seeking bear,” were very persuasive words (Otter is a hairy, but skinny gay guy.).

We chatted; I sent him sexy pictures of yours truly wearing dazzling cardigans. He showed off his colorful tattoos. As expected, I asked him out on a proper date. Being a man of great taste, he naturally accepted.

Meeting at Simple Simon’s (a cool deli in Downtown Riverside), we locked eyes. If you thought, Barbara Streisand came out of the bushes to serenade two gay stereotypes, then you’re somewhat wrong. An awkward handshake greeted me, upon meeting.

His brightly colored personality was a distinct grey in real life. Sitting a table by the window, we ate. Conversation was forced. Diagnosing myself with a slow death from boredom, I threw random and funny topics to gab about. Drinking was one such topic. He was disturbed. “Drinking is stupid.” Geez, in all of California, I find the one gay, who hates booze.

Observing him eat a croissant sandwich served as the only excitement. Finally, hitting the wall of boredom, he took a last bite. The date ended. We parted ways. Like many mature acting gay guys, I immediately deleted him from Scruff. “Going on treadmill for five hours would’ve been more delightful, rejection loomed.

Upon returning home, dad observed sadness. I confessed everything and told dad, “He doesn’t drink alcohol. ”Dad smirked, “never trust a man, who doesn’t drink.” As the old cliché goes, “father really does know best.”

Recovering from chronic boredom, I delved back into my coffee-centric/book-centric life. Most surprisingly, I returned to the treadmill and had burrito daydreams, like a good bear should.

Bookworm vs The Algebraic Inferno

Congratulations, you’re headed to community college, said, mother. Steam fumed from her ears. Her dream to have a lawyer son faded faster than toothpaste on a zit.

My SAT scores were low, very low. In fact, I just bubbled in bubbles and called it a day. Rather than relaxing the night before the SATs, I hit the town, high school style. Movies, coffee shops, and then dashing home once the police showed up to enforce curfew (on all Riverside teens). No rest for this slacker gay.

A week prior, community college aspirations were cemented. Fuck the high cost of a 4-year university, when community college costs less than a fancy dinner, per semester.

Thanks to my nemesis, algebra, I was on the three-year plan at community college. Eventually, I transferred to film school and received a film degree. To my astonishment, employers in New York City were not so impressed with the film degree. An extensive knowledge of the French new wave did not tickle their fancy.

Eleven years after leaving my hometown, I returned to Riverside. After miserably failing the SATs (over a decade, prior), I was pursuing a new career as a High School English teacher. Although, an avid reader, tests were challenging, especially multiple choice. With the allure of fantastic literature nestled in my bag, studying for the CSETs and CBESTs (California teaching credential exams) took precedent.

“If you study for two hours, I’ll let you read, Trainspotting.” The study-thon commenced. Failing the SATs served as a reminder, “don’t fuck this up, asshole.”

Weeks of studying resulted in a confident future teacher of America. Sitting in the classroom, I opened the test booklet, which led me to CBEST madness. The reading section was somewhat delightful, and breezy.

Then my nemesis reared its complicated head. “Fuck, there’s so much Algebra on this exam.” The first five questions were terribly intimidating. Breathing in heavy, “failure could put a halt on academic aspirations.”

Courageously pressing on, I answered all the math questions. After 3.5 hours, the CBEST was complete. Driving back to the hip people coffee shop, I could finally read leisurely without being attacked by killer Algebra and Geometry problems.

Today, while eagerly awaiting on taking the CSET (the last and final credentials exam), I study. Slacking is terrible, sinful even. Who can forget the great SAT saga? If I get too distracted , there’s always have community college(to further my learning).

 

 

 

You can call me Gilligan

New York’s sidewalks buzz with an intoxicating energy. Art, skyscrapers penetrating the heavens, dazzling fashion statements, flashing lights and crowds, so many people indulging in infectious stimulation. It’s grand, until one becomes a shipwrecked castaway on the steel and glass island, where coconuts ain’t free.

Call it the follow up to “Gilligan’s Island” (the classic 1960’s American sitcom).Twas my last month in New York, and it became an endless waiting period. From riding subway to hailing cab, everything just bored me. My sanctuary was a beloved cocoon, my Harlem apartment.

However, my once colorful apartment lay empty. Posters, records, books, and knick knacks had been shipped to my new home in Riverside, CA. My air conditioning unit provided much needed company in the wake of bare walls and isolation.

Being stuck on the isle of Manhattan, I still had to tolerate daily life. Harlem still felt like home. Brownstones and coffee shops, it was the New York dream. While taking a daily stroll from tenement apartment to the coffee shop, I passed the perfectly appointed brownstones. They line Harlem’s sidestreets, and are needed relief from Midtown’s spiraling steel canyons.

Reaching Lenox Avenue, after an endless block, I realized this is the end. No more brownstones, baristas who know my name and waiters, who become like family. Heading downtown on Lenox, shops and cafés woke from drunken slumber.

Eyes widening, deep in thought, “shit, I’m leaving a full time job in New York, to venture into the great unknown, into a career, which I know nothing about it. With just a bit in savings (thanks, high rent) and grad school rejection letters, what would happen to my old adventurous soul?” For a moment, emotion about leaving my comfort zone actually had significance.

The Midtown skyline laughed back at me from a far distance. “You’re a yutz. You’re a yutz,” it screamed in a classic Brooklynese accent. The giant white building block jotted from the sky. It would house the ultra rich. It was the skyline’s middle finger, appropriate enough.

Though, the skyline dazzled most, I just shrugged my shoulders. “Fuck this shit, I’m going to California. I do not care if I end up a Target cashier or distinguished English professor, it will be a exciting life adventure and a return to my own native land.

After drinking coffee and reading my book, I ended up back in my humble apartment. Climbing stairs, after stairs, after stairs, I finally reached my fifth-floor studio.

Struggling for air, I happily proclaimed, “ I truly made the right decision. I will not be shipwrecked on an island and will enjoy no longer living in a walk-up. Farewell, New York, your coconuts may not be free, but you were successful at making me one grumpy asshole. Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate it (no, sarcasm, intended).

Oy Vey

Sleep, sleep, sleep has been a grand struggle for moi (me). Rather, than having beautiful dreams about being tackled by the Magic Mike cast, winning the lottery, and having dinner with Jane Austen, they typically take an unexpected detour.

Algebra class, a maze full of cucumbers (I cannot stand cucumbers), and being stuck in an elevator, filled with my most hated nemesis are nightly nightmares. Call it a side effect of Prozac. I call it a sleep disorder.

Waking up isn’t the easiest, even on glorious Spring weekends. This quirky night owl only has one lustful thought on his gay brain (yours truly). Coffee, I want coffee. When life give you nightmares, give it the middle finger by enjoying life’s simple pleasures, especially coffee shops.

Living dangerously close to one of New York’s finest coffee shop, serves as a daily motivation for leaving my apartment on weekends. It’s the lovable space with hip baristas, who know my order and delicious bagels, which cure morning hunger.

Coffee, coffee, coffee, I rushed over to the coffee shop for the am caffeine fix. Opening the old wooden door, my heart sunk faster than quick sand. My beloved coffee shop, where I spend quality time with books, lots of books, had been invaded.

It was a suburban/zombie invasion. Kids on scooters, mombies yelling at their little shits, a strange form of pig Latin being spoken between four year olds, and of course, the oblivious dadbies complaining about their dad bods, while noshing on large croissants. It was my worst nightmare.

Like a brave warrior trapped in Satan’s arm pit, I didn’t let the invasion keep me from a hot cup of Stumptown Coffee. Visibly irritated, the yelling and Pig Latin speak killed a well earned caffeine buzz. Taking out a book, my soul and imagination wandered off from the zone of typical comfort.

Orange juice spilled. Screaming only intensified. The dadbies and mombies became even more oblivious to the nightmarish situation. “I’d rather be in algebra class, right now.”

When one of the mombies suggested the kids go back to their apartment for a play date, misery retreated. A parade of strollers and  miniature scooters parted ways with the coffee house confines. Tranquility hovered over my head, like a stormless cloud. They were gone. I could enjoy my book, bagel, coffee, without wanting to jam pencils into the ears.

Alas, it wasn’t a nightmare, but reality. A second invasion of mombies, dadbies and their spawn arrived. Staying brave, their presence did not detour me from my coffee shop. Thanks to the magics of an iPOD, I finally drifted into 90’s alternative rock, rather than irritating speak and sound effects.

Gay guys can’t get pregnant. Thank God! Certain people are equipped with patience. If someone wants a family, it’s their choice. I’ll just pass out birth control, in the meantime (not to be a party pooper or anything). I like my coffee without screaming kids. That’s why I live in New York City, it never gets noisy or obnoxious here, never (insert, sarcasm).

It’s Raining Glitter

“Mama, I’m not pretty enough to be a drag queen.” Much to my school and family’s shock, I didn’t grow up to be a drag queen. Pretty heels, fluffy dresses and lavish wigs didn’t quite appeal to a boy, who digs for his wardrobe in a pile of wrinkles clothes.

Predictably, the idea of drag queens remained fun, energetic, and admirable. While at the Strand bookshop (here in NYC), I found holiness. “Howdy, RuPaul. It was a miracle, a RuPaul prayer candle. It would be perfect to ship over to dad’s house, as a care package.”

Giggling, I (mentally) time traveled back to Christmas time at our family home in California. Father and I have opposing tastes on television shows. He prefers news and the History channel. Old sitcoms and reality shows (yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it) keep me flying across the country to watch television.

Our TV tastes reflect are diverse personalities. Dad is a marine, level headed and not neurotic. Yours truly is a bit eccentric, neurotic, oh and gay, very gay. When daddy and I agree to watch a TV show together, a drag queen gets her wings.

It did happen on a fateful and very starry night. “That’s a real lady. I don’t believe that’s a drag queen,” proclaimed, dad. The film credits to John Water’s “Polyester” bursting into the screen. Divine (one of my most famous drag queens and an icon) was the star.

As a huge John Waters fan, I found it humorous to expose daddy to a raunchy and very campy cinematic experience. Daddy repeated those faithful words, “I don’t believe she’s a drag queen. She a lady, look at her.”

“Daddy, it’s Divine in the starring role. She’s the most famous drag queen of all.” After a few glasses of wine, he glared into the screen, “oh shit, you’re right. She’s so convincing.” Laughing hysterically, culture shock rocked our family room. Daddy was enjoying John Waters’ filthy humor as much as his gay son.

Proudly, he became an instant John Waters fan. Months later, I stood in front of the RuPaul prayer candle. $18 for this? Do I really want to buy it? Convinced by dad, it was purchased. A few days later, it was shipped to California, along with a Rubik’s cube, paper dolls, and Andy Warhol knock-off portraits.

Gladness bestowed a glittery heart. I loved home. While other boys had to pretend to love football, I could watch campy films with dad and not hide my oddities. Normal is boring. A bloke in high heels and lavish wigs is not.

Coffee and Prozac

In high school, my trousers would never fit correctly, which, created a wedgie, a terribly obvious wedgie. I could throw a coat over it during winter, but my bum was unavoidable. The terribly cruel kids in high school nicknamed me, “the never ending wedgie.”

Wedgies were out of style by 1999. However, days of fantasizing about graduating high school and being an accepted freak of nature never died out, passed 1999. Uncovering my tribe became a monumental dream. I’d be the toast of the art world, an Oscar winner and Pulitzer Prize winning author.

Fast forward, if you attempted to find my art at the cinema, a museum or indie bookshop, then disappointment would engulf your soul. Although, I wrote many stories and even written the first draft of a novel, I still struggled to get my art into the world. In fact, as a thirty year old, feelings of awkwardness and aloofness never left.

More surprisingly, I was feeling out of place in New York City. Twas the geographical location, I ran away to not be an outsider. As my thirties progressed, not only was it rigorous to develop a writing a career, but change was needed, and inevitable.

New York’s stifling sidewalks were suffocating. Therefore, escaping became the dream. After failed attempts at moving to Los Angeles and Portland, escaping disappointment came in reading books.

Randomly, I sought to find the right career path. Reading and writing were the only hobbies, which tickeled my fancy. How could I make a career of that? Then, I remembered high school and the fine literature digested. Randomly, I decided to become a high school English teacher. Along with academia, I decided to make a bold step, geographically.

Upon taking my morning breakfast of a coffee, bagel, and Prozac, I checked on my frequent flyer miles. Bravely, I researched how many miles would be needed for a one-ticket to Southern California.

Having more than plenty of miles, I booked the one way ticket from New York La Guardia to Ontairo, CA. By June 1st, New York would be another chapter in lie, albeit, a very interesting chapter. Soon, Riverside would become my bohemian enclave.

With only two months left in the Northeast, I brainstormed a bucket list of experiences, still needed to be had in the city. After living in New York, on and off for nearly a decade, there wasn’t much left. Coffee shop adventures, book shopping sprees and walks in Harlem were more thrilling than a visit to the top of the 30 Rock.

Waiting out the move proved most difficult. In many ways, I was stuck in my old life, but change loomed nearer and nearer. Impatience hindered enjoyment, but attempted to be a happy (as happy as a cranky New York resident could aspire to be).

Escape through the written word became most beneficial. Would I survive the next few months of waiting? of course. Ironically, the place and institution I desired to escape turned itself into the dream of the late 2010’s. Only, I would avoid all trousers, which gave me never ending wedgies.

Psychoanalyze My Head

A whole medical team works on on my offbeat brain. Nourishing, reassuring, and medicating paranoia, anxiety and depression, my team has quite a voyage into the ultimate neurosis. Proudly, my mental ailments are viewed with great humor. As the old cliché goes, (most) arty types have a couple of screws loose. In my glittery brain, there are more screws than normal.

Finding a therapist in New York City is an obstacle course, similar to dating or apartment hunting. Everyone is always booked. The good therapists are not covered by insurance.

In the insistence of my father, I decided to go for a gay therapist. He could understand the woes and diva drama that goes along with being as gay as a Palm Springs pool party. I found my gay therapist.

Finding my him didn’t come cheap, but agreed to meet. Every week, I’d bring my neurosis to the table. Each session included breathing exercises, where I would complain. “I hate this hippy dippy breathing exercises.” He wouldn’t let me talk. Therapy is my soap box, where no topics were off limits.

Detecting frustration from his end, he would constantly ask, “are we going anywhere with these sessions?” Nodding, yes, we continued our sessions. Every time I mentioned a different neurosis (i.e. fear of bugs or body fluids), he suggested, “hey, there’s a specialist for you on that topic. I don’t quite specialize on it.”

Logging into my email, he had sent a slew of phobia specialists in Manhattan. Obviously, this guy was trying to get rid of me. Naively, I continued to see him, bi-weekly. Not being able to afford weekly, since his sessions were not covered by insurance. He researched lower cost therapists in the area. Later, he claimed that his brand of therapy was only effective weekly.

Every time, I laughed at one of my crazy antics. Fury roared from his face, “I don’t think what you did was very funny.” Judgmental, I am paying this guy so and so amount of money, and I am getting judged. It was the equivalent to being in a romantic relationship with the world’s most uptight gay man.

After missing a couple of sessions, Mr. “Psycho” therapist called.” I have a patient, who wants to see me weekly.” With those insensitive words, we ended our psychological relationship. Animosity impacted me greatly.

The conversation made me feel crazy and unwanted. It made me question my sanity. If he really did want to help me, Mr. “Psycho” therapist would’ve lowered his costs. “Fuck you, Mr. Therapist.” I moved on.

Holding a grudge was a given. Instead, I spent my therapy money on brunches, books, and vinyl records. Often times, an afternoon out with gal pals was better for mental health than some quack calling you an “idiot.” My eccentricities are worn like a fine badge of honor. A big “fuck you” to whoever doesn’t like appreciate them.

The Dream of the 90s is alive in Riverside???

(yes, this is a Portlandia reference)

Riverside in the 90’s a mystical land. An unsettling amount of isolation paired with hillbillies and grungy gen x-ers turned the unassuming suburb into a slightly eclectic mix, Gen-x rebels and nuclear families

Standing above the hills of masterful, Mt. Rubidoux, the rest of the world seemed more interesting, more cool, and more artistic. Many teenagers yearned to leave their track homes for New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I plotted to live in New York. Imagining a life filled with art, breaking into random song on the sidewalk, and plenty of gay guys attributed to high aspirations.

The 2000’s happened, I ended up moving to New York. I struggled for years, cleaning kitchens and washing dishes. Eventually I worked the quintessential admin job with a health insurance plan and my own apt in Harlem.

By my thirties, New York didn’t have the seem appeal. There was a boredom in the air. In fact, many big cities suffered the same plight. High rents, Whole Foods and fancy gyms were turning campy paradises into the suburban conformity we attempted to escape from.

While the major cities of the world were being taken over by 1%centers and their offspring, I plotted to leave Manhattan. But where could I go? Sure, the dream of the 90’s was alive in Portland, but I wanted something a bit off the beaten path.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I strolled around downtown Riverside. It smelled like the 90’s, when I was a teenager heading from coffee shop to an indie flick festival at the Fox theatre.

Nostalgia built, as high winds blew rare objects into my eyes. My tootsies touched the fine cobble stone pavement. I walked toward Back to the Grind, the local indie coffee shop.

A blue grass band joyfully played for coffee drinkers. The music mesmerized, as did the artsy air. Enough with high rents and fashionable haunts, I am a child of the 90’s and Riverside. I liked my sidewalks like my men, grungy.

With cheap rents, and a sizable artistic community, I decided the dream of the 90’s was really alive in Riverside, possibly. How would I magically move back? I had a life established, New York City.

On the plane back to New York, I imagined a life of reading books and writing. I need to get paid for this grand fete. Grad school? Yes, grad school for MFA in creative writing. I shall converse with scholarly minds, while making a career out of reading books, writing, and teaching others about literature’s grandeur.

“Professor Anthony,” the gushy feeling overcame me, as the plane flew over Midwestern corn fields. Landing at Kennedy, I felt a bit more optimistic about life than pre-vacation.

Two weeks later, I returned to Riverside for the Christmas holiday. Writing samples, a thesis, statement of purposes, letters of recommendation, where due a few days after New Years.

Grabbing my lap top, I headed for Augie’s coffee shop. Gulping down a lavender latte, I prepared my portfolio. My brain went from 1980’s East Village to the Sultan Sea’s desolation. I couldn’t write or focus.

Everything distracted me. The barista’s hip t-shirt. Foam rising from my cappuccino, curiosity about the book being read at an adjacent table. I didn’t cry from frustration, just banged my head against the blond wood table.

My weeks at home were spent frantically organizing my portfolio. The blank canvass effect stressed and alluded me on certain days. Other days, I oozed inspiration, and was quite productive.

The deadline loomed, I wanted to have everything done before heading back to New York. Then distraction, lots of distraction continually dared to detour academic ambitions.

The new Star Wars flick, dinner with friends and cozy evenings by the fireplace, helped lift creative brain cells into oblivion. Relentlessly, I did everything I could to finish my college applications and writing portfolio.

On unseasonably cold morning, I had to fly back to New York. My portfolio was finished. Polishing my personal and purpose statements became grealy important.

After a full day day of travel, distraction once again became an enemy. Returning to Manhattan, I had mere hours to finish my portfolio. Pressed on time, I opened the empty doors to darkened apartment. Dashing toward the fridge, I only had whisky to hold me over.

Unrelenting, I switched on the lap top. Terribly hungry, I could only think of pizza. How I missed pizza. Rather than working on college application madness, I ended up stuffing my face with brick oven pizza and white wine.

The wine made me quite sleepy, but I still had to finish the entirety of my portfolio and application. Nearly falling asleep, I imagined an existence of sunshine, books, coffee shops, and my own car to ride around in. Motivation quickly returned.

Lifting myself from bed, I did not surrender to the wall of sleep. Everything was sent to the university. Happily, I passed out in bed. Dozing off, I would soon learn the answer to the following question. “Is the dream of the 90’s really alive in Riverside?”

  • Special thanks to everyone who sent recommendation letters, proofread and encouraged me along the way.
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