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).

 

 

 

Six Floors to Hell

Living in a material world and I’m a material girl.

 

-Madonna.

 

These lyrics were sung at my last New York performance. After numerous glasses of wine, liquid courage drove me to the musical edge. At my going away party’s after party, my friends and I ended up at Uncle Charlie’s, a well-known piano bar in Midtown East.

Thanks to the grapes of California, I delighted the crowd with my Madonna tribute. Of course, I couldn’t remember singing at the piano, but this was just another fun filled day in my last month as a New Yorker.

After almost a decade (on and off) living in New York City, this California native was trading in island living for the hills without eyes. With naïve thinking, everyday would feel like a delightful piano bar kind of day. Unfortunately, one major obstacle stood between campy bliss and myself.

Arising from slumber, I took a look at my studio apartment, which would stand as a memory, within weeks. Books, records, clothes, linens and old US Weekly magazines littered the pre-war grandness.

Jitters arose from a typically perky demeanor (well for New York). This apartment had to be emptied out, cleaned, and everything shipped to California in a limited time. On the excruciatingly hot day, I packed all my belongings.

Like most urban dwellers, my apartment was a fifth floor walk-up, no elevator. Bravely, I carefully made my way down the stairs with goods being moved to Riverside. After hailing a cab, I headed to the UPS store.

Successfully and expensively, the goods were en-route to the left coast. Taking the long way home, Harlem’s temptations were inevitable. Coffee shops, bakeries, and parks to sit down and read. Displaying great discipline, the allures of park benches, coffee, and croissants were dodged.

Huffing and puffing my way up to the tenement building’s top floor, I entered my apartment. “Shit, there was still stuff to ship. I forgot how miserable moving could be.” Even with the air-conditioning running, the extreme humidity bogged down energy.

More stuff was left over than expected. Laying spread eagle in bed, anxiety filled the cranium. “Shit, fuck, shit, I know, I should clean out this apartment in one day, but I’m going out for wine.”

With glorious procrastination, I traded wine and pizza for the hellish joy of moving boxes and cleaning. It was a grand decision. A week later, it was back to moving. Only, my apartment had been filled with more stuff than expected.

Many trips were spent going up and down six stories (the trash bins were in the basement) to thrown belongings and trash out. Sweat formed on my t-shirt, in the shapes of kangaroos, Japan, and apples. It was an exhausting journey.

Everyday moving stuff out, I’d discover a new cabinet filled with more old mail, magazines and clothes. It was more horrific than any Twilight Zone episode. What was anticipated as a single-day move, turned into a week long cry-a-thon of boxes, stairs and man-boob sweat.

With only a few days left in Manhattan, the joyful thought of old Riverside kept motivation up. By the final evening, the temperatures were hotter than a fire-breathing dragon’s tummy. I was still throwing out stuff. Not everything fit in my luggage, either. Stress took over. My car to LaGuardia was to arrive at 4:30 A.M.

Past midnight, stuff was still being thrown out. At 4 AM, I made the last trip to the basement, showered and dashed to the airport. Crossing the RFK Bridge into Queens had a greatly liberating quality. The “Great Move of 2016” was over.

Although, my apartment wasn’t completely empty, it was empty enough. Goodbye, hellish move, hello, California. The plane took off at 7 AM. Below, I glanced at the gridlock below. Cars were rushing into Manhattan, as I had left the island for a new beginning in old California.

Leaving New York didn’t fill me with emotion. Moving out proved a frustrating and mentally exhausting experience. Once, the plane flew past the bustling George Washington bridge into the Mainland U.S.A., aka Jersey, I was officially heading home.

After a layover in Dallas, this California boy made his cheeky comeback. With bags under my eyes, skin, which mirrored Chrysler building greyness, and a tote filled with dreams, I braced myself for a new career in education and suburban living.

Staring at my records, books, and posters, I’m reminded of the struggle, which it took to ship. It makes me cry every time. With a newly minted fondness for Southern California, I reveled in drinking countless glasses of white wine and singing “Material Girl,” in the privacy of my own track house.

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.

Gay-ve (the gay man cave)

My gay-ve, the dream of nerdy bookworms around the world. Envisioning a lavish library, cool vinyl record collection, espresso machine, art and a lovable Cocker Spaniel, the gay-ve was every nerdy gay boy’s wet dream, an alternative to the testosterone fueled man cave.

The gay-ve would serve as a creative hub. I would spend countless hours dreaming up stories, poetry, and outlines for novels. Of course, my graduate school acceptance letter should arrive at any second. Gushing over my short essays, they would shower me with adulation.

On a quiet evening in Harlem, yours truly sat with a brick of a book and glass of wine. Rarely do I stare at my cell phone, especially on a wine & books night.

Into the middle of wine glass #2, a buzz rumbled. The blue glow of a cell phone illuminated within my pocket. Picking up the phone, it showed ” new email message.” Surprisingly, it came from the university. “We regret to inform you, that you were not accepted into the Masters of Fine Art’s program.”

Trembling with shock, I called everyone to reveal the dire news. Gulping more wine, I returned to my apartment. Like any good warrior, defeat didn’t cripple any ambitions (for the time being). The next day was spent, spread eagle in bed, eating a breakfast burrito and watching silly YouTube Videos.

Feeling crushed, I licked my wounds and nursed a ginormous hangover of disappointment. Calling my dad, he suggested emailing the school and finding out why I received rejection letter. Too scared to call, I found solace in the most holy of places.

Strolling with my man purse to the local coffee shop, Lenox Coffee, I attempted to drink away disappointment. Reading a book and sipping coffee served as a quick distraction. Unfortunately, the pangs of misery wouldn’t let up.

Returning to my apartment and hiding under the covers, depression lingered. Curiosity led yours truly to emailing the university. Still feeling like a failure, they (surprisingly) emailed back, quickly. (here’s the abridged version)”Thank you, sir, we’re sorry you didn’t get into the program. We only accept 3% of applicants into our program. Best of luck with your graduate school hunt.”

Having a better chance of getting run over by a big rig, than getting into the MFA program was liberating. 97% of applicants were as equally devestated. If only there was a support group for artistic rejects.

After receiving closure, I focused on the back-up plans, teaching credentials and moving to California. Weeks later, I shipped vinyl records and books to my father’s house. The literary and musical gold would adorn the future gay-ve. The gay-ve, which will host to new memories and career path. Grad school, I will be applying to you next year.

 

Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Zombies

Back in my days as a lad, nobody walked with heads down. Folks acknowledged each other, enjoyed the scenery, and were aware of surroundings. Nowadays, most people walk, while glaring at their phones.

They bump into people, things, and it’s funny, but tragic. Staring at a mobile makes me quite dizzy. In the grand tradition of being single, I succumbed to dating apps. Even this bookworm-extraordinaire had a Tinder account.

Tired of rejection, but mostly bored with the same faces, I took a bold step for spinsters everywhere. I deleted the Tinder application, along with Grinder. On that park bench in Harlem, overlooking ducks, I was officially off the Tinder/Grinder market. In fact, I was dating myself. I was such a cheap date, too.

There were romantic outings to my favorite used bookshop, dinners at the Polish diner, and romantic rendezvous by the fireplace, on my computer, naturally. Weekends were spent huddled in intimate coffee shops, reveling in the sweet scent of Oregon based coffee.

Opportunities to date actual guys arose. However, I really enjoyed my own company. I didn’t want anyone interfering in my introverted happiness. Then, I ended up in my therapist’s office.

“I don’t want a husband, a boyfriend, or a relationship, I just love my alone time.” Thinking my dear shrink would call me out for living a depressed life, I was applauded. Feeling validated, I headed to the used bookshop to celebrate.

Standing in line, I smiled and thought to myself, “look, at me! I’m independent. I don’t need a fella to fulfill life’s emptiness. I have my imagination and artistry to fill in any empty void.

Venturing toward the cash register, I placed my books down. Staring up, he stood, triumphantly. Blue eyes, a cardigan, and messy brown hair, I met the cutest bookworm in New York.

“Wow, you found A Clockwork Orange, used. Now, that’s a steal. You never see that these days,” he said, winking. Eyes wide with literary lust, I stumbled on words. He loaded the bag with books and extra bookmarks. He wished me a happy evening.

Stepping into a freezing East Village sidewalk, I was dazed. “I want to be a spinster. If a cute bookworm like him did come around, I’d have to say, the hell with spinsterhood.”

Instead of re-uploading dating apps and seeking a man with a large book collection, I took myself on a date, Indian food (to be exact). If one can’t find a man to warm you up in the late fall, curry is a most appropriate substitute.

Witch on a Broomstick

Ideally, I would like to be a witch. Flying around in a broomstick, oh, it’s the dream. It would also be great fun to scare the little shits and ride around with black cats as sidekicks. Having a flying broomstick would mean, I wouldn’t have to step foot in another airport.

My last airport visit made me really want that flying broomstick. While bolting toward the coffee line, an evil hipster mombie (when a mom meets a zombie) aggressively pushed her stroller in front of me.

“Hey, I was in line before you were.”

“No, you looked down right when I got in line,” said, hipster mombie, adjusting her leather jacket, which looked tawdry, but cost a fortune, probably.

Grumpy Anthony (yours, truly) wanted to yell and put on a magical theatrical performance.

“You think, you have special privilege with that fucking stroller, using it as a fucking weapon to cut in line.”

Steam practically floated from my ears, in the tradition of porcelain teapot. Shock trembled through her soy latte sensibilities. However, she didn’t say much. Her baby picked his nose, merrily. She went about her hipster business and didn’t budge.

After savoring in the “Neurotic New Yorker special, “coffee+ bagel + happy pill. I strolled over to the gate, for boarding.

“Hey, your carry-on is too big. You must check it-in,” yelled the stiff, gate agent.

“I paid, specifically for group one, to not check-in my luggage.”

“We need to measure your luggage, sir.”

Placing my carry on the baggage, measuring template, it didn’t fit.

“Sir, we need to check-in that bag.”

“Dallas is where I connect planes. I’m going to California. Honestly, you people are going to loose my bag,” I am not checking it in.

Zipping open the carry on, I flattened it. Finally, it fit into the measuring template. My friend, the gate agent wouldn’t budge. She was determined to check-in my carry-on.

Thanks to my theatrical side, Dallas bound passengers received a free off-off-off-Broadway performance. Taking out my bottle of happy pills, I walked over to her.

“I’m very ill, and must board this plane.”

Trying to avoid a lawsuit or bad Yelp review, the gate agent allowed me to board the aircraft.

“Happy fucking holidays,” I shouted and ran to my seat. Delighted, I flew to Dallas. Upon arrival, I practically hugged my carry-on, whom I almost lost in airport oblivion/hell. Eventually, I was on a plane to California’s Inland Empire.

On an unseasonably frosty afternoon, I was back in my motherland, California. Reunited with my father, we laughed at my ordeal and great theatrics. Glancing into the cloudless blue skies, I proclaimed, “Shit, somebody really needs to come up with a flying broomstick. It would eliminate grumpy passengers at the airport.”

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