Bear In A Cardigan

In the midst of rugged mountains, track homes, and vast freeways hides a surprising counter culture. In Riverside, CA, weird rules. Odd balls gravitate to the suburban sprawl like guacamole to a tortilla chip.

Growing up in Riverside, the counter culture frequented Back 2 the Grind, a coffee shop. It had comfy couches, art, and a dizzying array of books. Back 2 the Grind served as the perfect life alternative to my Catholic school conformity.

It’s where gay kids would hang out. They sipped lattes, listen to bands play, and form wanderlust of a world beyond rugged hills and orange groves. Conveniently, it was located next to a gay bar.

On any given night, disco lights would shine from the bar’s window onto the sidewalk. The Thompson Twins’ campy classic, “Lies” would seduce the gay eardrums. For a teenager (like yours truly), it was mesmerizing. A room full of sweaty, dancing gay guys, it was almost surreal, especially steaming from a conservative upbringing.

Curiosity blinded my senses. I declared, one day, I’d like to visit a gay bar. There were the obvious allures of sex and friendship, but also experiencing a life altering liberation.

After experiencing my first gay bar, it was exciting. Then, I quickly grew out of loud, sweaty bars. I found more liberation in myself rather than an institution.

Living in New York, I preferred cozy dives, where the bartenders knew my favorite drinks and life biography. I also couldn’t stay up super late, anymore. Taking the subway at 3 A.M. seemed as appealing as being chased by ferocious bulls in Pamplona.

Mirroring my Riverside upbringing, I preferred the warmth of a New York coffee house. I adored reading my books and writing on any given Saturday night. One night, I took a time machine ride back to my youth, thanks to a night out in Hell’s Kitchen (New York’s big gayborhood).

Thanks to a few whiskies, I was lured into one of those loud bars with a sizable dance floor. While the room was spinning, loud pop music threatened my eardrums. Oy, I think I am too old for this. Indeed, I was. My bladder agreed with me. I spent most of the night, peeing, which gave me practice in social skills. There was always a bathroom line.

When I wasn’t in line, I tried dancing with friends. Since, I am a wallflower, dancing didn’t come as easy. Then, I spotted a guy. Our eyes locked. He was dressed in a preppy manner, with wavy blond hair and blue eyes. Instantly, he grabbed and kissed me.

I was shocked, but secretly enjoyed it. Does this make me a male cougar? He seems a few years younger, I noted to myself. Instead, I giggled and declared, “why yes, I still have it going on.” He brought out the tiger in me, but it was only a kiss.

Fearing a burst of misery on the late night subway, I took a cab home. Happily, I noted my night out as a life experience.

The next day, I sipped on coffee, listened to an indie band, and enjoyed tacos with my neighbor. I realized that I am still a mellow, Riverside boy. Although, getting kissed by that cute guy will remain a most wonderful memory.

A Quirky Bookworm

Writing a novel, it’s what you do when unemployed. In fact, fun-employment land had its perks. While eating bacon donuts, browsing the titles at Powell’s Books, and breathing in the crisp (and very clean) Portland air, I declared, “ wow, fun-employment isn’t so terrible.”

A few weeks later, I returned home to New York City. Gone were gatherings around a bonfire, hills filled with rustic pine trees and the left coast laid-back attitude. Rather, than getting depressed over my lack of employment and many rejection emails from companies around the city, I created my Bohemian utopia.

I lovingly branded this era as the “great bohemian retreat.” Predictably, I wrote stories, lots of stories. Frequenting coffee shops from the East Village to Upper West Side, I sipped the stimulation of a strong coffee. I also read lots of books. Indulging in the eloquent and often humorous words of favorite authors inspired my writing.

Then one day, I looked at my bank statement. “Oy, I really need a job,” said I. While I continued job hunting, I was depressed. “God, I miss working,” said I.

I stared at the Upper West Side from that most dramatic of views, Lincoln Center. The epicenter of operas, which ignite great pathos served as the perfect location for my melancholy moment. While feeling beyond sad, I couldn’t write or daydream without feeling sad.

“What’s one place, which always makes me feel better?” I asked myself. I walked toward the Time Warner Center (it’s a mall, even though New Yorkers would never call it a mall). Going to the mall always cheered me up.

As I stared at the most cinematic city views from the second floor, I received the call, which would change my life. I was re-hired at my old ad firm. The sadness melted like a snowman in spring.

I really wish life were a Broadway musical, since I could’ve broken into the happiest song possible. Rather than feeling like a New York reject, I was happily returning to work.

On Monday, I picked up a $.75 coffee from the deli. I made my way to the subway and opened up a good book. After transferring trains at Times Square, I arrived at Grand Central Station. In the midst of typical Monday morning chaos, I smiled. That train ride led me to a new life and most importantly, I had officially left fun-employment land.

Although, it had difficult moments, fun-employment land had its charms. I spent quality time in Palm Springs with my father, marveled at Portland’s quirks, and found adventures in New York. Looking back at the bohemian era, I can smile and proclaim, “I got a three month holiday, which I probably won’t get again.” Goodbye to the great bohemian retreat. Hello, bohemian life with a job.

Gay-mer

“My future husband is just hiding under a rock. I can feel it.” Said I. Strolling the East Village provided me with a plethora of attractive men. Gawking was delightful, until awkward eye contact was made. This was followed by the even more awkward head turn (to avoid contact) maneuver (from the random guy).

“Whoops, I guess that one wasn’t interested. I must’ve had a booger in my nose or something. Why would any man not want some wonderful eye sex,” I said with optimism spewing from my tongue.

Typically, I stroll with a tote bag (man purse) full of books. Since, I live so far, Uptown, I kill boredom with the words of David Sedaris, Maya Angelou, & Gertrude Stein.While parading around Tompskins Square Park, I found a most inviting park bench to feast upon.

Yet, I couldn’t concentrate on any book. Behold, the Tinder dating app. “No, no, no, I shall not be distracted with men and dating. Hell, I’m not getting any younger here. Damn it, I am caving in,” said I.

Pulling out the phone app, I was met with the evil lord of rejection. There were so many gym bunnies and hipsters. Some guys were a hybrid, hipster + gym bunny (muscles, beards, and flannel, accompanied by a swig PBR beer). Holy shit, where are all the alternative guys? Where are the guys, who said fuck you to the gym, but revered Ezra Pound? Asked I.

In the midst of clones, I found a rebel. “A video game nerd and major dork in general?” I asked myself, while scrolling through the witty profile of an attractive guy (with glasses). I must like him. Surprise, he liked me back, and I finally got a match.

A family of folk singers magically appeared. They played a little jig with their traveling banjos in celebration. As the folk music intensified, I messaged my gay-mer. With fingers crossed, we connected. Quickly, we made plans for a date.

Preparing myself for a voyage across the East River to Astoria, I thought about interesting topics to bring up on the date.” It was my first date with a gay-mer.

“I did have a Nintendo back in the 80’s, been to an arcade and even danced, danced, danced to the dance, dance, revolution. However, I was never particularly good at video games. That’s it, I’ll suggest that he teach me the ropes, “ I thought to myself.

Eventually, I arrived in Astoria. It was chilly evening. Steinway Street was bustling with shoppers in pea coats and fancy wool hats. Through a darkened side street, I found the charming little restaurant for the date.

I walked into the grilled cheese and beer specialty restaurant. It was an intimate place with exposed brick walls, long tables, and a very arty crowd.

“Dinner for one,” asked the friendly host. “Two please,” I replied. He walked me over to the communal table. I ordered a beer. My date arrived, dressed in a pea coat, black beanie and decorative glasses.

He was cute. My glasses were in the primary stages of fogging up. “Was this the animal lust, Cosmopolitan magazine always talked about?” I wondered to myself. “Quick, quick, think of video came terms. He arrived at the table. We hugged. I felt at ease.

“I’m unemployed, 31 and live in a walk-up,” I told him. He responded, “I work two jobs and have several roommates. We laughed and drank beer, noshed on delicious grilled cheeses and had wonderful eye contact. After dismissing the men of New York, I found my ideal geek. He understood my geek-dom and I relished in his quirks.

After four hours of gabbing, two geeks strolled into the Queens night. The pubs were bustling. 24-hour markets were alive with neon. Green cabs raced through Broadway. The sounds of typewriters shattered the evening quiet.

We were cold. Our teeth became musical instruments, as we shivered the night away. Walking toward the subway, I didn’t want to say, goodbye. Along the above ground, Broadway train station, cold winds awakened our spirits. More good conversation followed.

The train arrived. He hopped off on the last stop in Queens. I returned to Manhattan. In my own geeky universe, I was head nerd. However, I needed someone to help me rule the kingdom. Luckily, I received a text from him. He wanted another date. This was a brave step for two boys with highly decorative glasses.

T.V. Dinners In Bed

“I’m schvitzing. I’m schvitzing,” I declared, upon arrival at my favorite East Village coffee shop. The heat turned the quaint coffee shop into a tropical paradise, close to the equator. It wasn’t pea coat friendly, obviously.

Rather than ordering a tropical drink and wearing a decorative Hawaiian shirt, I sat outside. In the midst of a chilly New York evening, I sipped on coffee and observed East Village humanity walk by.

Sipping on black coffee on a Sunday night was a treat, but pangs of hunger soon ravaged my creative juices. “I really want Chinese food,” said I. Oy, I’m on a budget. “Don’t think about sit restaurants, rather you fantasize about a hearty T.V. dinner, since it’s on the budget, “ I told my famished brain.

Walking crosstown, I passed my favorite Chinese restaurant on Sixth Avenue. Across the street was the rival restaurant, which was tastier. I had only been going to the rival for a few months.

Faced with a classic, first world dilemma, I made a bold decision. “Dinner for one,” I said. The waiter walked me over to an inviting table by the window. “Don’t sit me by the window,” said I.

He sat me closer to the back of the restaurant. That’s right I went to the rival restaurant. I didn’t want anyone from my typical Chinese haunt to see me. I ordered a wonton soup, pepper steak and brown rice. Sitting alone, I savored in the warm and comforting tastes of China.

I dipped my chopsticks into that last morsel of rice. Staring into the sea of couples, I felt completely alone. This is where I break into a fantastic dance sequence and sing about how lonely New York is. In a perfect world, the restaurant would have morphed into a Broadway stage.

Instead, I contemplated resurrecting my imaginary friend from the dead. He & I hadn’t spent quality time together, since the early 90’s. A week after a lonely Sunday dinner, I flew to Riverside, CA for Thanksgiving.

While New York was more barren then a drive through the Arizona desert, Riverside provided me with something I was missing. “I have a date, wow,” said I. Thanks to modern technology, the Scruff app to be exact (the one where guys with beards meet other guys with beard), I was no longer a lonely urbanite.

I sat in a restaurant, which screamed authentic Indian food. Bollywood played on the television. Curries, roasted chicken, Nan bread hypnotized the soul. In the midst of Indian kitsch and culture, my date arrived.

“Wow, this fella looks like a young John Wayne. If John Wayne looked like a modern day hipster with a trendy haircut,” said I. Charming him with stories of the old world (a.k.a. New York), he glanced into my eyes.

“Would you like to be my house husband? I have the job offer in Bakersfield and we can live together. I can bring home the bacon,” he said.

I was sickened by the thought. Then I thought about my life in New York. Being alone had its disadvantages. However, I had my urban family and didn’t answer to anyone, but myself.

Soon, Mr. John Wayne and I parted ways. I told him, I wasn’t interested via text. He called me “ a straightforward guy” and thanked me for not leading him on. We stayed in touch as friends.

I returned to New York on chilly winter’s evening. Dreading the loneliness of that old studio apartment, I grew scared. Finally, I stepped into my shabby residence. It was lonely, but I was still the king of the tiny principality (a.k.a, my studio on Seventh Avenue)

An hour after arriving from my flight, I had a spontaneous dinner with my gal pals. In the midst of the East Village, we laughed and shared stories. I was thankful for an urban family to laugh my way through the gloomy moments. Now, excuse me as I find another date off Scruff.

King Of The North

Bagpipes, kilts, and punk rock, this is Scotland. Craving a fried Mars bar, anyone? Too bad, this northern story doesn’t take place in the United Kingdom. It centers round the Northeastern United States, New York City to be exact.

On a winter’s day, the sky resembled the distinct grey of Scotland. Journeying along the Upper West Side, I listened to my favorite Scottish band, Garbage. Cloudy days were romanticized for me. I enjoyed the fog, buttoning up a smart pea coat, and relishing in heartwarming whisky.

However, I was feeling down, very down. I had returned to New York City, unemployed. Moping around Broadway, snow fell from the sky. It mirrored frosted corn flakes. I was mesmerized, but jaded. “How am I going to make it without employment?” I asked myself.

Feeling increasingly blue, my hands froze. Surprisingly, I found relief. “Next station is Columbus Circle,” announced the train conductor. Sitting on the near empty subway car, I contemplated life. I relished in the warmth of a train, and observing quirky characters. Regardless, morale remained low.

The snow let up, I strolled the Bowery. In search of CBGB’s ghosts, I ventured into an island of counter culture. Tompskins Square Park was typically filled with homeless punks, arty old people enjoying rent control and a few yuppies lost in the madness.

Sitting on a park bench, I huffed and puffed. Anxiety was kicking in. Then an elderly gentleman sat next to me, with his crumpled up newspaper. “Holy shit, it’s Sean Connery,” I thought to myself. He opened up the newspaper and I played it cool.

He stared at me. I glanced quickly at him. “You looked depressed,” he said. My ears were deceived. “Why does Sean Connery sound like Vinny from Queens?” I asked myself.

Maybe this wasn’t Sean Connery, but he certainly was brilliant at reading obvious body language. “Why so glum? Seasonal depression? He asked. I shook my head, no and replied, “I’m unemployed. It’s been tough to get a career started.

Staring at me, sternly, he replied, “Have you heard of GOYA?” Oh god, yes, I know it means, get off yours ass.” I replied. “Exactly, shit happens to everyone. We’re all struggling here. Take a look around at the neighborhood today. It’s a ghost town. Go out and enjoy it, buddy,” he said, while giving me a pat on the back.

Quickly, he left the quaint park bench. He returned to his rent-controlled apartment, which existed only in my head. The snow fell from the sky, again. Disregarding disappointment, I enjoyed the moment.

The East Village was eerily quiet. It was wonderful. I read a book and drank coffee. My mood was elated, no bagpipes needed. With all this talk of Scotland, I could use a fried Mars bar right now. Cheers to grey skies, bagpipes and Sean Connery look alikes.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

That Bearded Dude

Saturday mornings, I typically frequent my favorite Upper West Side diner. Sitting with a cup of coffee, I often wondered if I would ever find romance. Grindr, Tinder, & Okcupid, I was on every dating site. Yet, I couldn’t even get a handshake from perspective dates.

Something peculiar happened when I left for a holiday in Portland. I met a guy, at a gay bar. I only happened to travel 2,454 miles to find him. On my last night in Portland, we sat across from each other at a wine bar, which could easily fit in (New York’s) West Village.

It was utterly romantic and terribly cliché. “Hey do you wanna go to Voodoo donuts,” he asked. Secretly, I did want to go. Rather than playing it cool, I shook my head with great enthusiasm.

Noshing on maple-bacon donuts, I glared into the pavement. It was gritty and grungy, the great 90’s alternative rock bands would approve. While eating our hearty donuts, we decided to take the plunge. I experienced some fear, since it had been a while. He grabbed my hand and led me to a dark den with glowing lights.

I know what you’re thinking this isn’t a romance novel, is it? Correct, we didn’t end up some seedy hotel room, but in a video game arcade. It was the boozy, 21 and over arcade, naturally. We competed with each other on various video games.

As expected, I really sucked at shooting ducks and driving racecars. Continually, he beat me in every game. I hated loosing. In my defense, I hadn’t played a video game, since the Clinton administration.

Sensing my frustration with continual loses, he grabbed and kissed me. In the midst of pinball machines and Japanese pop music, I fell for a guy in the most unexpected of places.

We took a walk alongside gritty Burnside, holding hands. Then we came to an obvious, but shocking fact. “What are we going to do now? It’s your last night. I live in Portland. You live in New York, but I’ve never felt this way about a guy before,” asked my beloved, Oregonian.

Frustrated, I had fallen off the puffy cloud of fantasy. In the echoing sounds of street musicians and wind speeds, I grew dumbfounded. “That’s right, we just happened to have a whole continent, separating us,” I said, with relative sarcasm.

It was a terribly emotional moment. “Why couldn’t I’ve met this guy in New York? I wish he would just move in with me.” The awkwardness grew. Rather than dwell on specifics, we reveled our last night together.

Toward the end of the evening, I walked him to the Max (the Portland streetcar). It arrived, too quickly. Giving him one last kiss, I bid him, farewell. It was truly the end of a spectacular holiday.

The next day, I was riding in a cab to Portland International Airport. I received a text, “You’re complicated, but I adore you” he wrote. Giggling, I wrote back, “It takes a complicated guy to know a complicated guy. I adore you too.” He sent a smile-y face.

Taking in a deep breath, I stared at his picture. “If this is actually true romance, I’ll be seeing you again soon,” I declared with confidence. I arrived at the airport, hoped on a plane and left my heart in Portland.

The Raindrops of Portland

Fun-employment was a miserable, but (surprisingly) exciting era for me. After interviewing for countless jobs in New York and not garnering a new position, I decided to nourish my bohemian roots.

Rather than dwell on what I didn’t have, I focused on art, writing and experiencing a new culture. Although, I couldn’t afford to climb the Himalayas, play on Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, or walk the Great Wall of China, I opted for a grand bohemian retreat on the West Coast.

After experiencing too much sun in my native California, I longed for rain, lots of rain, and bacon, lots of bacon with a tasty brew, of course. As my plane took off to Portland, I tear nearly ran down my cheek. “Repeat after me, rain, rain, rain, coffee, coffee, coffee, bacon, so much bacon and plenty of cute bearded men,” said my quirky brain.

Predictably, I was met with rain, upon arrival at Portland airport. The drops were so massive. They practically needed their own zip code. Delighted with the puffy clouds and rain, I made my way into the rain-slicked pavement.

Food carts were clustered together on SW Washington Street. My stomach rumbled. While dashing toward the den of food porn, I was presented with a curious situation.

“Blood, blood, blood, I hate blood. Oy, I couldn’t be a doctor, since I am terrified of my own blood.” Said I. On the road to curing a rumbling tummy, I slipped on the rain soaked sidewalk and scrapped my knee.

Running back to my hotel, I screamed “disappointment.” I was shocked to have slipped on my first hour in Portland. A part of me wanted to stay in the hotel room and just cry over a minor injury. Instead, the warrior and adventurer in me prevailed.

I placed a bandage over my knee, and merrily walked back to the sidewalk. Rather than crying, I ventured to Powell’s Books (world’s biggest book shop) for some much needed book therapy.

Growing lost in the rain, I had a terrible time finding the legendary bookshop. Even though, Portland was on a grid, I was lost. Finally, I decided to actually ask for directions.

“Burnside divides SW Portland from NW Portland,” said the kind Oregonian. With her help, I finally found my bearings on the directions. From a distance, I saw Powell’s Bookstore.

It was one of those places in the West Coast; I’d always wanted to visit. When I flung the doors open, my mouth open wide. Powell’s Bookstore fit every adjective associated with the word, huge. Books upon books lined shelves. They towered to the ceiling. It was a cathedral dedicated to the written word.

Feeling like a seven-year old running around the world’s greatest toyshop, I gleefully read excerpts from my favorite authors. I also discovered local authors. Buying books on Maya Angelou and Gertrude Stein, I felt well accomplished.

Leaving Powell’s bookstore was difficult, since I always felt there was more to explore. The rain intensified and I had forgotten about my previous slip. Instead, I found great joy in exploring Portland and getting immersed in the dizzying array of Pacific Northwest-ness. It was the ideal bohemian retreat.

Pacific Northwest

Portland is ideal for a sweater appreciative crowd. Raindrops, grey skies, hills with mighty pine trees, coffee shops and crisp winds, make sweater shopping a treat

At the shrine to vintage fashion, the Buffalo Exchange, I met my match. In a sea of skinny jeans, flannel shirts, and denim jackets, I found my dream sweater. While trying to hold back my lust, I stared at the sweater.

It was black wool, with an interesting edgy thread design. More importantly, it fit my frugal budget. “Oh, this sweater is so edgy, and would go wonderful with a button-up shirt and tie,” said I.

Hours later, I prepared for a night on the town. While coordinating outfits, the fashion gods played a cruel trick on me. “Shit, I left all my ties at home, now my outfit scheme has been ruined,” said I.

This folks is another edition of first world problems, brought to you by the glorious first world. Rather than crying, I went out to dinner and didn’t shed a tear over my missing ties.

Portland has always been famous for it’s love of bacon and coffee. Naturally, I had bacon and coffee for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Afterwards, I took an enchanting walk alongside Portlandia’s quiet, but charming pavements.

“Whisky, whisky, whisky,” said my thirsty brain. The flashing lights of a gay bar welcomed me. Only, I was intimidated by the thought of drinking alone at a gay bar. Persistently, my brain kept singing the “ I want whisky song.”

With thirst ravishing my soul, I said, “fuck you” to intimidation and bolted toward Embers, a downtown gay bar. It was a quiet night. Drag queens wandered around, ready for (as expected) a drag revue. Others sat with friends and enjoyed a beer.

Ordering a whisky on the rocks, I quenched my thirsty soul. Glancing over, I noticed an adorable blond guy, sitting opposite me. He wore a tie and shirt. I was charmed by his appearance. Impure thoughts raced through my head. “Gee, I bet he has a great tie collection.”

Avoiding intimidation, I took a seat next to him. Introducing myself, I was expecting him not to respond, positively. Then our eyes locked. “Shit, he’s cute, uh-oh, somebody cue the simply cheesy pop tunes.” Repeatedly, “Honey,” by Mariah Carey capitalized on the romantic moment.

“I want to take you on a surprise adventure,” he said. I shook my head in agreement and off we went into the chilly, Portland night. Unexpectedly, I was struck in the head. It was okay, since it was Cupid striking my head with an arrow.

With bravery in my heart, I kissed him. We locked eyes. It was magic. His surprise adventure, you ask? It was a trip to the video game arcade, which had a long cue. Instead, we went out for pizza and more boozy adult beverages.

There was a mystery, which dumbfounded me about him. “Shit, I don’t know what his name is?” As we spoke in detail about our lives and struggles, I kept trying to brainstorm cleaver ways to find out his name.

As the night wrapped up, I handed him my phone. “Here, put your info on here,” said I. It worked and I never forgot his name again. Even after kissing him goodbye at the bus stop, we kept in touch.

A few days later, he spoke to me with seductive words. “I hope you like pork, I am going to make you bacon mac n’ cheese and ribs,” he said. Unlike myself, he loved to cook. Hence, I was invited over for a home cooked dinner.

After the lavish feast, we relaxed on the couch and watched Troop Beverly Hills. On a very chilly December evening, I was charmed by a fellow, who I was falling for and he could cook.

In the grand scheme of gay dating, bacon, sweaters and a fancy tie are the way to a man’s heart. Cheers to Portland for all the bacon, I’ve consumed and the lovely fellow, I have met.

Hiking In A Cardigan

In old New York, a boy from Harlem randomly ended up on the Upper East Side. With deep seeded lust in his heart, he took a riveting plunge.

“Everything bagel, cream cheese and lox; Oh and also a small coffee,” said I, standing at a quintessentially New York deli. I took a bite of New York’s most beloved nosh, and glared into Lexington Avenue.

“Oh boy, I feel like a modern day bohemian, going on this big expedition out west, “ said I. As the fusion of cream cheese and salty lox seduced my tongue, I nearly melted.

“Gee, I will miss the bagels here. However, when I return to New York, I’ll be filled to the brim with fabled tales of Portland and California,” said I with great illusion.

Afterwards, I reveled in Gotham’s revered wind chill. “I’m freezing. I’m freezing, but I feel so Jackie O’, strolling in the Upper East Side, all dolled up.” Said I, marveling at Madison Avenue’s opulent shops.

I took the scenic route, crosstown. Central Park always represented tourists and crowded fields of green. While walking around the park’s many reservoirs, precious trails and nearly barren trees, I finally marveled at it’s green charms, but something distracted me.

“90’s alternative rock (with the sounds of Nirvana, the Cranberries & Everclear, naturally), cute bearded men, coffee, rain & more rain were thoughts, which dominated my head.

You’re probably saying, “hey Mr. New York. You could you get that shit in Brooklyn or the East Village. To you, I respond with this. There’s just something special about having those things in Portland, a new frontier for this cardigan wearing, Uptown boy.

After reaching 96th street, I strolled into Central Park West. “ Goodbye, Central Park and hello, west-coast style laid back-ness, said I. Somewhere between New York and Portland’s cloudy skies, the sun arose.

Indeed, I was in the beginning stages of my trip out west. Sitting at a Starbucks in Riverside (my hometown), I continued writing my novel. Only, the words weren’t flowing like a river. They were dried by the valley’s penetrating sunrise.

Feeling like a failure, I longed for New York. “Maybe, I can only write in New York City?” I asked myself. Regret filled my heart as I questioned taking such a long voyage.

Like any proper author, I let my mind go on vacation. It needed a Pina Colada and burrito in order to function, once again. After taking a few days off, I drove to a local coffee shop and sat. Once again, I couldn’t write. The words were not flowing.

Panicking, I took another drive. “I’ll never finish my novel, never. New York, I miss you,” were my exact words. While parading around Downtown Riverside’s historic district, I found a bit of Brooklyn. “Oh, this coffee shop is wonderful. It could easily fit in New York,” said I.

Blasting some retro tunes, I sipped on a coffee and the cloudy skies returned. “Hello, konishiwa and bonjour, inspiration,” said I. Happily, I returned to novel writing after a brief hiatus. It was sweeter than the chocolate chip cookie, which accompanied my caffeine fix.

Excitedly, I wrote, everyday. Thank you, Riverside for providing me with a bit of New York in the suburban sprawl. Dearest, Portland, crank up your 90’s grunge rock, I’ll be in you soon.

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