2015 and The Boy Who Waited.

It seems that I take moments from Doctor Who in more reflective times, but it’s an accurate summation of 2015 for me.

It feels like this story, this chapter, really began in 2014. It’s when I started to fight back to reclaim my feeling of self-control, reground my world, and refocus what it means to be “me”.

It started happening with my cross country trip to explore Texas and the East Coast again, and reunite with my family after 5 years of not making it back home. Then again with my high school reunion, which I was glad to attend, though the process in getting the “green light” to go was convoluted. Financial troubles and stress hit hard, and I ended up in the hospital. This is the cliched “It changed everything” moment, but ultimately, it did. Perhaps it was the waking up moment that I had needed. I committed myself to my life more than ever, and after years of being together being “good enough”, Jen and I finally got engaged.

It’s those steps that led me to wanting more. Wanting to be more. I started restructuring ties, breaking with those that either only called me when they “needed” something, or made it clear that they honestly didn’t care if I lived or died. The ones that broke my heart because I couldn’t help them fight their demons. I changed my routine. Changed my job. Changed my goals. I didn’t know what 2015 was going to bring, but I was willing to see it through.

And so, I did the following, in no particular order:

* Celebrated my 10 year anniversary with Pirates of the Caribbean.
* Celebrated my 20 year anniversary with Mortal Kombat.
* Worked the Billboard Music Awards again.
* Met David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Bolton, and George Takei.
* Reunited with childhood friends Jeff and Aaron during their visits here, perhaps two of my most influential/cherished friends during my youth.
* Gave ghost tours around the over a century old Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings.
* Saw the Riviera Casino close its doors.
* Camped out for another Forgotten City.
* Visited San Diego.
* Visited Lake Tahoe for the first time (via business trip).
* Visited Reno for the first time (same trip).
* Visited Disneyland for their 60th anniversary.
* Hugged a cow.
* Explored a bayou.
* Went parasailing for the first time.
* Turned 40 in the company of family and friends in Texas, New Orleans, and Pensacola.
* Shot military grade weaponry from a vehicle in a below ground bunker.
* Visited Mt. Charleston for the first time, and had a snowball fight.

Not all of my year was perfect, however. I had my credit card stolen, which shut down my bank account just before my trip. Frodo had a cancer scare, which fortunately turned out to be benign. Over the summer, I was partnered with this strange old guy that was obsessed with Delaware, Judge Reinhold, and his birthday on Halloween.

Poor Judge likely had no clue of the obsession taking hold.

Poor Judge likely had no clue of the obsession taking hold day after day.

My car also broke down badly, and the repairs never took hold, draining the money I was setting back to get married, so Jen and I didn’t in 2015. It’s set for a 2016 date now that we’re trying to narrow down. I also tried to work on some of my book ideas, but I suffered a creative drain when it came to my writing, and couldn’t seem to finish (or in many cases even start) anything. And other financial matters that were set to help me never materialized when I needed them to, so I was left waiting.

And I waited a lot for things to take hold that never did. Promised and planned for things.

So it was frustrating not finalizing wedding plans or getting funds in time, but that’s what 2016 will be for. The funny thing about waiting is something that a friend recently told me: If you spend all of your time waiting for things to be perfect, then you’re never going to get anything done. And I am a perfectionist. I need to “Just do it” when it comes to a few things. You can’t do all of the weird shit that I do and not be particular in a few areas.

And 40?

Not so bad, I suppose. I did it on my terms. I never actually thought I’d see this age. It seemed a lifetime away. Still does, in some ways, but other than a few dings in my personal fender (and a more cautious eye on my health), it’s not so bad. My visits back to my original home helped as well. You can’t live in your past. But you can still learn from it. You can still find things of value hidden in there, reminding you, or waiting to be rediscovered. And those visits have started restructuring my future as well, though that is a story for another time.

I’m nearing a point where my “waiting” is said to end soon. I’m ready to be on the next adventure than to sit idle. I don’t plan to do 2016 with any of that “New year, new me” crap, because I’m still the same person, and always will be. I’m the boy from Corsicana. The video gamer. The San Diegan. The actor. One more face in Las Vegas. I’m all of this, and I prefer it that way.

Waiting won’t add any more titles to my life story, however.

Boldly Going.

With going from two jobs to one, I am readjusting to a more “normal” schedule again. I’m getting used to the idea of not checking my clock all times of the day, and being able to actually commit to plans again. It’s a weird, but welcoming feeling. It does, however, give me more time to devote to my primary job, and all the potential benefits that they can offer, such as time off, for one. I can take time without feeling guilty or like I’m inconveniencing anyone. With my birthday coming up next month, the timing is perfect for my next roadtrip…. Car willing, that is.

Plans upon plans….

With all the “free time” I’ve been experiencing, the missus and I went to the Star Trek Convention at the Rio. It’s fun checking out the various props, costumes, and general geekery that goes on at these events (though I never really buy anything, now that I think of it. Whoever is in charge of Star Trek these days needs a better marketing/creative team). It’s fun for me to go, and despite the Tribbles and Darth Vader Borg assimilated costumes, there are larger reasons why I enjoy it.

A few years back, I made a post about geekery and what it means to me. Like I said, I grew up with The Original Series and Next Generation. As a kid, I’d watch these shows with my Dad, and the characters were heroes to me. And now seeing them as actors, they just seems to enjoy the love they get from fans and are by and large just warm and wonderful people to talk to. They seem very settled and very content with their place in pop culture, and yes, I do have a small bit of envy to have lived a life being involved in something that enduring. But I suppose that one can argue that I’ve had my moments as well.

But there is something deeper that goes on in just watching the fans of things like this. This really is “their” place. You can feel the comfort from fans because they’re among like-minded daydreamers and believers, and getting a chance to see their heroes as well. And the moments that people connect… to watch it really happen, you really “get” why people love the worlds that fantasy and fiction create.

Sir Patrick Stewart did a talk on one of the stages. He remains one of my favorite actors due to his presence and versatility, so Jen and I went to watch him speak. Of course there are the standard questions of “In this episode” or “In that movie” that come up, but you see moments of realness that goes far beyond scripts. One young girl wanted to know what Mr. Stewart thought about domestic violence (you may not realize that Stewart is an advocate and a patron for preventing domestic abuse), and certainly the mood changed as she revealed that she had been sexually assaulted, but the elegance and grace that Mr. Stewart conveyed to her during their discussion, expressing sympathy and reiterating that violence is never the answer, and that it starts with men to make the change. You could feel the support for the message and the girl, and how it takes a level of bravery to admit such events in a room full of hundreds of strangers.

Another woman had a disability and claimed that would be the one and only time she would ever see Steward in person. She just wanted to talk to him, and her responses were forward and funny as her candor clearly caught him off guard. But at the end, because of her disability and uncertain future, all she really wanted to ask of him is if she could have a hug. And to that, he stepped off the stage and gave her one. Other moments were light teasing back and forth between fans and Stewart. Another was a child that loved X-Men, to which he responded how much fun those roles of Xavier and Picard were for him. You can see why people see these characters… these people… as heroes, because very often, they turn out to be so in reality. Some just see a television show. For others… they see hope. And ultimately, that’s the very message of the show outside of all those props and make-up. It’s about people trying to make a difference.

It wasn’t all contemplation, of course. We did get to meet George Takei, and as you can imagine, he’s a pretty awesome guy.

Oh myyyy....

Oh myyyy….

I’m trying to get better about updating my blog. Perhaps shorter posts, but a little more insight in my life. As always, I tend to post more spontaneous moments of my life on my Instagram, so it you want to see a few more photos of the event there, then there you are.

And so wraps up my entry for tonight. I’d like to say that I’m off to do something deep and introspective, but really, all I want to do is play Goat Simulator on my Playstation.

The fourth decade and I are going to have to have a long discussion next month….

California and Beyond.

Hard to believe it’s been two months since I last posted in here, but when you write all day, one finds that you either don’t have the time or mental energy to do it for yourself. I’m a better narrative than technical writer, but I need to stay in practice, especially if I ever plan to get my own writing projects off the ground.

So what have I been up to of late? I gave up my second job. After my hospital scare last fall, I needed some extra money to pad out my finances, so one job led to two, and while everything is not perfect, I am now back to one. It was a good move for me. Working anywhere for 8-16 hours a day 7 days a week is surprisingly not as much fun as you’d think. But it’s over, and now I get to re-experience what “weekends” are actually like again. It truly is the little things in life.

My regular (and now only) job sent me to Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago to cover a charity event at Shakespeare Ranch. Pictures don’t do the place justice, as it’s unlike any other place I’ve seen in Nevada. For starters, it’s actually green up there, something of which I actually had doubts of existing in this state.

Shakespeare Rock.

Shakespeare Rock.

The charity raises money for Alzheimer’s disease, and while it was a lovely event, I need to rewind a bit.

Getting there was typical for my adventure set.

A co-worker and I went as a team, and while it started out fairly normal, by the time we landed in Los Angeles for our stopover, it was anything but. LAX airport is a dump. There. I said it. And I mean it, for that matter. Our terminal looked like it was out of some third world country, and to access it, we had to take a shuttle that literally had us racing alongside planes, and stopping at intersections for them. By the time we got to the terminal, we looked around for precisely thirty seconds, turned to each other, simultaneously said “Nope” to each other, and immediately hopped back on the shuttle to visit the bar and avoid staying there any longer than we had to.

When it came time to go, they shuttled us on this tiny plane that looked like it had been shipped out of the Warner Bros. prop archives fresh out of Casablanca. As we walked to the loading door, I stopped by co-worker before we got on: “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” The door opened. “Here’s looking at you kid”, I quipped. I looked again at the plane. “I hope this thing can actually fly”, I muttered as I got on the tiny craft. I also half expected that the pilot would eject us over Mayapore, India, where we would be unexpectedly be dropped off and have to slide down a mountain in a giant raft before being asked to retrieve the neighboring village’s Sankara stones.

I watch a lot of movies, by the way.

But back at Lake Tahoe, the grounds were beautiful, and the people were nice. We got to watch the rodeo as we did social media updates, and there was a lot of cowboy flinging involved by angry bulls and horses.

This lady here could shoot pistols while riding a horse. That made her pretty badass.

This lady here could shoot pistols while riding a horse. That made her pretty badass.

I also got to see Reno. Not so much there, from the limited time we had, but I did get to see the arch.

Reno's arch.

Reno’s arch.

If there’s more to see in Reno, we didn’t get to see it. We did go to a casino where I had an absolutely awful Bloody Mary. Seriously, who makes a clear Bloody Mary? Sacrilege!

The next morning, we decided to go to Tahoe City on the California side of the lake. I love small lake/beach towns, so exploring the sights, and taking in the fresh air (and real trees) was a much needed break before we started the second day of the event.

Everything went well, Michael Bolton performed for the evening’s entertainment, and as the event closed down for the evening, I actually got to chat with Michael for a moment, where we got into a nice discussion about our appreciation of Ray Charles. And this also happened at the last second:

Bolton and I (Not from Office Space or Game of Thrones).

Bolton and I (Not from Office Space or Game of Thrones).

The following morning was brutal as we had to be up at 5:00 A.M. to catch a 6:00 A.M. flight. Added to this was a birthday party to attend right after I landed. Despite my best efforts, I sort of short circuited, began to hallucinate from lack of sleep, and had to call the day.

As the next few weeks passed, I ended my second job, then back to California with Jen, where we went to Disneyland. I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since my last visit, which is an obscenely long time for me. Still, it was the 60th anniversary, and we had fun.

Following the footsteps.

Following the footsteps.

Two days of theme parkery was a lot of fun, but I was taken aback on how expensive the park is. It’s no longer the jaunty day trip that I knew from my California days. It’s more of a planned vacation event, which makes me a little sad. Disney needs to settle down on their price hikes.

Still, you can’t beat the view….

60 years....

60 years….

Or the Paint the Night parade, which basically merges Disney with art cars from Burning Man.

What a funny girl, that Belle....

What a funny girl, that Belle….

On the following Sunday, we marked off another bucket list item: The Gentle Barn. It’s an animal sanctuary that takes in abused, neglected, abandoned, and overworked animals, emotionally and physically heals them, then just lets them hang out and simply… be animals. Some of the stories are so sad, like this little blind pig named Sydney:

Sydney the Pig.

Sydney the Pig.

He had a pretty rough life and was given up on, but he was just casually bumbling around nudging his tray in case more food was there. There were all sorts of animals, and human and animal alike were in the same spot just interacting together. It was admittedly moving.

It takes all kinds.

It takes all kinds.

Besides, where else are you going to be able to hug a cow?

Buttercup.

Buttercup.

This has been an interesting summer for me. Outside of my car breaking down and the struggle to get it running again, two full jobs and the struggle to get it down to just one, trying to plan a wedding, trying to plan my birthday gathering next month, trying to remain sane through everything, I can’t help but feel that I’ve learned a lot. Mostly about the things I’ve seen and experienced, and what I want to be. What really matters to me. Where my purpose lies. I’ve had some opportunities to reconnect with parts of my earlier days, in projects I can’t discuss just quite yet, and something of a settling within myself, and there has been some internal struggle along the way. Fear of compromising my dreams, mostly. But mostly… mostly is just comes down to the want to try and be a good man, until I won’t have to simply try anymore and will simply be. Stepping outside the routine is good, if only for a little while, and especially with a few new adventures under my belt.

It’s nice to be reminded that I have a few good stories left in me.

Back In The Saddle.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Not so much for lack of interest, but more for… well, I sit in front of a computer enough these days. Being able to step away when I can is something of a blessing.

As with most things that happen to me, my title header leads back into some pop culture reference or other that’s currently relating to my life. This time out, my header related to an animated Ghostbusters episode where the original team comes out of retirement to get back into paranormal investigation once more.

And while still lacking a proton pack of my own, so have I.

I’m back doing tours again. Tours about the haunted side of Las Vegas (with a bit of mob history thrown in on the side). Turns out that I missed those little tourish buggers, and I’m quite good at storytelling, so it seemed like it’s a good match for the time being. Part of my investigations go around Las Vegas. The other part led to my latest of discoveries.

A 102 year old saloon.

A 102 year old saloon.

Goodsprings, Nevada, a small mining town just before the Nevada/California state line.

The place in the picture is the Pioneer Saloon. It’s a 102 year old saloon that’s one of two remaining buildings left in the town, which surprisingly was the hotspot for Vegas folk to go to for “Big town life” back in the day. The saloon has been in movies, TV shows, video games, has a surprisingly good steak and lobster combo or hamburger, and is haunted as everything.

I don’t doubt it. The whole town, saloon included is built over mining shafts. This is the place where miners, prostitutes, gamblers, and cheats would go for a good time. It even has bullet holes in the wall from where a card cheater named Paul Coski was dumb enough to think no one would notice five aces on the table during play.

There's a story behind them bullets.

There’s a story behind them bullets.

The bar is more a biker bar now, but the locals are friendly and welcoming, and I have grown a bit of a fondness for out there (even if it does get quite cold out there at night). Whatever, your belief is, I’ve definitely witnessed a few things out there that can’t be easily explained.

But life otherwise has been a little quiet. I survived tax season (got a little money back, though the preparation was a bit painful on the wallet), I’ve been working a lot the last few weeks, but I did get to try one of those Trikke tours Downtown.

Not quite Tron.

Not quite Tron.

These are surprisingly fast, and while a little goofy looking, it was really fun, and the tour showed off some interesting parts of Downtown Vegas.

But finding a life outside of work hasn’t been as easy as I would have hoped. I’m so busy all the time that little breaks, such as checking out the latest Mortal Kombat X, are few and far between. What can I say? 20 years of that game series having a direct influence on my life, I get a little sentimental, which is surprising for a game that pulls the loser’s organs out through their mouth, which is one of the tamer instances. Sick, sick little monkeys, those guys are.

A little weird to think that my 20 year mark with all of that is coming next month. I suppose that will be the subject of my next entry.

Part of the situation with me right now is that I have cabin fever. I spend most of my time working, and roadtrips are calling me. Somewhere. Anywhere, frankly. As I said, I am trying not to be online at home as much, and working with social media writing, I have learned a lot about “good” content, as well as “bad”. One of the biggest instances is Facebook, one of those things everyone has which makes it strangely indispensable, but I am starting to question if it has a “positive” effect on life.

Outside of the addictive “must check” factor, there’s a lot going on. People seem to look to be “outraged” or “offended” by everything they see and post themselves. Everyone has that one opinion on “how you should have done things”. People pass judgement. People don’t check facts. People can turn an innocent off-hand comment into their personal platform for “inner crazy” that then becomes “outer crazy”. That’s certainly not to say everyone is like that, but cruising Facebook seems to be more of an exercise in unhappiness than positivity, and I’m really starting to notice that.

It could be why I’m starting to veer more towards Instagram, because it’s simply a snapshot of someone’s day that they want to share, or the “Post it and go” attitude of Twitter, or post weird stuff on Tumblr, or the relative “Undiscovered Country” of Ello.

As I said, NO ONE leaves Facebook, but I want to try and be more true to the mission that I started last year for positivity and happiness. I had enough sidesteps last year. I’m at a point where I want to continue to pursue something greater.

As for personal writing, I do need to be better. I have too may projects that I have set aside, and I am ready to get back into doing what I love: Writing something great.

A Momentary Detour.

To be perfectly honest, October was a very difficult month for me.

It started out well enough with my roadtrip to Texas. It was a very pleasant reconnection with family and friends that was long overdue, and it gave me a lot to think about on that long drive home. I’ve said numerous times in the past that I have lived many lives during my time on this planet, but I find it very important to have an overall recurring theme throughout that timeline, meaning that my past is still very much who I am today, or a part of who I will become tomorrow. I’ve never understood those who have attempted to run from their history. For better or for worse, it defines the very core of yourself, and those lessons have to retain value even in your present. They are, after all, what got you this point in your life. I find my personal history to be a very valuable teacher for the parts that I can still incorporate and use. For lack of a better phrase, it keeps me honest. Each part to this day is still very much “me”.

But the past can backfire against you as well. In this case, I had to pay off a very ill-mannered debt collector that tried to sue me this month.

An old mistake on my part, one that I did owe, but while there is a never a “good time” for these instances to spring up, this was the worst possible scenario.

The debt collector was as expected: unpleasant, aggressive, and unreasonable, “time” and “available funds” not being of any reality-based concern, but after launching my own legal-based chess moves against him, I got the matter settled. His office was… interesting, to say the least. The sort of office that you could easily clear out in less than an hour if push came to shove, and the reception area had a huge bulletproof shield where you had to communicate through a tiny drawer. I’m thinking he doesn’t make too many genuine friends in his line of work.

Understandably, the experience put me into a deep funk this month, and in many respects, forced me to question things even more than I have been the past few weeks. A lot of self-realizations, deciding what it is that I want/need, and even a “fan” stalking that I tend to get from time to time. As I’ve said, the past is a very helpful tool, but one still needs to grow. Some people tried to make a joke out of the situation. Others tried to snap me out of my isolation and help me back on my feet. One of said friends was a newer friend of mine by the name of Kevin.

We went hiking one Saturday morning on the Nevada/Arizona border. Our group consisted of Kevin, his two dogs and myself. We hiked the Liberty Bell Arch, going through several deep canyons, and finally reaching an opening that led directly to the Colorado River.

It was there that I discovered my love of hot springs.

Truth be told, my only real knowledge of hot springs came from Kid Icarus during my Nintendo days:

Not the best of real-world examples.

Not the best of real-world examples.

A long hike in.

A long hike in.

Just a climb away....

Just a climb away….

But as we got closer, the water got warmer. I was ready to be refreshed, and splashed my face as we got to our destination.

“Uh, you might not want to do that”, Kevin said as I cupped my hands and flushed my face with the warm water. “What? Why”, I asked, and immediately saw the reason as I readjusted my glasses:

Oh, come on, man....

Oh, come on, man….

You’ve got to be shitting me at this point. Don’t even bother looking this thing up. You can splash water on your face all day, but don’t let it get up your nasal passages. These brain-eating amoebas can kill you in a little over a week, and have a 95-99% fatality rate. Considering that I am here to write all of this and not in my potential death throes at this point means that I have nothing to worry about. I could drink a glass of that water and be fine. Just don’t get it up the nose. But if I were to go, that would be a “Well, that’s just Guy” sort of thing that would fit well within my idiom.

Still, the springs were just lovely and relaxing:

IMG_3820

On the hike back, I learned that while I am a good walker, and am in reasonably decent shape, I am just not a power climber. Slogging up hills, I was wheezing like an old man, also having drank too much bottled water, my stomach was acting up and sloshing. As we got back to the main trail that led in to our earlier hike, I took a moment to pause, and rather forcibly got that water out of my system. Let me tell you: I will hike until I puke. I am that hardcore. In my defense, it was a lot of miles.

But you know something? I had a great time. I needed this particular conversation to happen. It helped me remember what lasts for a lifetime versus what lasts for a moment.

The rest of the week was spent getting ready for the Las Vegas Halloween Parade, of which I marched in again this year. Surprisingly no photos of myself, by I did wear a toga.

As always, Downtown had some great vehicles and costumes:

Steampunk car.

Steampunk car.

A Mini Trek.

A Mini Trek.

An old friend from my past....

An old friend from my past….

Rhino car.

Rhino car.

Dragon car.

Dragon car.

With flames, naturally.

With flames, naturally.

After the parade, I headed by the Museum for a quick “Hello”, and ended up serving drinks for a while. You know, if I’m going to end up serving wine, there really was no better choice of an outfit than a toga.

The day after, I went to the open house of Lonnie Hammargren, a former brain surgeon and Lieutenant Governor. This year is said to be the last year he is ever doing this, and I just had to go. I’ve been wanting to for years.

I can’t… I can’t even begin to describe this house. It was everything that I could have wanted, and nothing that I could have prepared for. Three houses combined into one giant frankenabode, it is a collection of uncountable stairwells, trains, submarines, spaceships, casino decor and signage, rollercoasters, dinosaurs, observatories, shrunken heads, a full stage, an underground mine(!) I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff in my time, but I was trying to wrap my head around how unabashedly awesome this house is.

Pictures fail to do it justice:

IMG_3869

One of the many pools.

One of the many pools.

Another view.

Another view.

Casinos and rollercoasters.

Casinos and rollercoasters.

Trains.

Trains.

One of the many rooms.

One of the many rooms.

Jungle rooms.

Jungle rooms.

More jungle.

More jungle.

E.T. Dinosaurs.

E.T. Dinosaurs.

Dragons.

Dragons.

The stage with performers.

The stage with performers.

The underground mine.

The underground mine.

Lonnie himself.

Lonnie himself.

This is only a small sample. I could have taken hundreds of pictures and never covered everything. Lonnie himself is a hoot… and took quite a shine to Jen. “If you leave me for him, in this case, I’ll understand why”, I conceded.

At the end of my adventures, I realize that I am still on the path to “Happy”. There will be setbacks, and moments that I have to really take into consideration, nurture, and in some cases, change, or simply let go. But I am hoping for less setbacks and faster recoveries, and my resolve is set more than ever to find out both the moments and lifetime that I am searching for.

As always, I move forward.