Groundhog Day.

Eyes on me, Larry.

Eyes on me, Larry.

Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again….

And so concludes the annual viewing of Groundhog Day, one of my top favorite movies (that’s a whole other entry in itself, I suppose). I tend to find something new and more deep in meaning each time I watch it. It could be age, the stage of my life I’m in, my obsession with Bill Murray, a number of factors, really. But it’s interesting watching the growth of Phil Connors go through his personal stages of arrogance, lack of restraint, self-loathing, depression, self-destruction, apathy, and then one day, while still trapped within his endless day, he goes through a period of acceptance, honesty, self-improvement, and finding inner peace. And perhaps that’s where I am in my stage of life: The day may not change, but I can.

And it’s those last four stages that I am finding myself more in these days. It’s been a long road, but I’ve cleared off hospital and credit card bills, fixed a few things around home, and have embraced my adventurous nature once again. I’ve started reading more. I’m writing things for myself again. Trying to be better. And that’s coming with a lot of personal changes, and seeing that I may have to change a few more things. But at least I can see that path now.

But each weekend into this new year, I’ve gotten back into weekend roadtrips. From the snowy landscape of Williams, Arizona….

Snow of Williams.

Snow of Williams.

To hitting Route 66….

Getting kicks....

Getting kicks….

And visiting tiny towns like Amboy, California:

Amboy

The town has a population of 4, with 15-20 people there at any given time. The town is notable for having “The Most Photographed Sign In The World”, and being the basis of this story.

I personally call “bunk” on this story. There’s not enough grass in the area to hide droves of cultists, much less a singular cult member. The most scary thing there is the $5.00 gas. Would I sleep there at night? Hell no, but that’s another story entirely.

After all, Amboy was merely a stopover to see the Dinosaurs of Cabazon.

ANDY?!?

ANDY?!?

I needed to see these dinosaurs. Needed. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is another one of my favorite “cult” movies (I watch a lot of movies, go figure), so this had to happen. Unlike the film’s depiction of wide open spaces, the area has found itself with a Creationist museum built around it (my thoughts on that can be found here). I am glad that the dinosaurs themselves are still largely accessible, but for someone that worked in a museum that featured a dinosaur gallery and the amount of lectures that I gave students, it made my brain hurt.

Did I mention there were dinosaurs from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure? 1, 2 ,3 ….

This past weekend, Jen, Brenda, and I went to Valley of Fire for hiking adventures, and much orange rock revelry was had:

My sensual "Rock Pose".

My sexy “Rock Pose”.

Nothing like hiding in rock formations to live one’s dreams….

Artsy rock feet.

Artsy rock feet.

I’ve still got things lined up for the rest of the month. A trip to Pensacola is coming up in two weeks, where we will be going to Pensacon.

This cold and windy weather can suck it. I want to hang out on the beach, eat seafood until I explode, and geek out. And maybe not in that order.

There’s a lot to do over the next few weeks. I am looking forward to Spring. But not Summer. And definitely in that order.

A Shift Of Sorts.

Look at me, writing in my personal blog with some sort of regularity. Who am I?

It’s been a busy week since my last entry. Work, getting ready for roadtrips, taking stock of my life, getting robbed….

Oh yes, that happened. Apparently, thieves putting credit card scanners on gas pumps in Las Vegas is a big thing. And once thieves get your number, they can run with your “virtual” card and go on spending sprees. Mine had high aspirations of Circle K and Wal-Mart dreams. You know, if you’re going to do this, at least have some “Movin’ on up” George and Weezie-level ambition, man. Dine well. Dress well. Probably not travel well because that’s personal info. you can’t corroborate.

In any case, they played havoc with with my financials, in addition to having my PayPal being simultaneously hacked, to which the two together shut down my account for good. While my bank’s phone customer service was less than sympathetic outside of frauding out the bad charges, the in-bank representatives helped me out with a better account. Also while all of this was going on, someone stole all the drinking water off of our front porch.

Yes, it’s been that sort of week.

At least I had a friend help me out until I get matters settled.

If there was ever a time for vacation, this was definitely it, for I. Am. Done. It’s hard to believe I’ll be back in the homeland in a few days, about the same time that I was a year ago. Then again, I can’t believe that this is one of those “milestone” birthdays for me.

Not a big fan of the age, but I’ve decided to accept it on my terms and my rules. In other words, I dictate my age, and not the other way around. I expect that, much like this time last year, this will be another “reunion” for me. My present work was goodly enough to give me this time off without any drama or hassle, so I can enjoy the time more this outing.

I have been… reflective about this trip. Perhaps because my last visit affected me so meaningfully. I had “all the feels” seeing my classmates, my friends and family, and even the changes that have taken place since my last visit. When I wrote about the experience last year, I perhaps sounded a little more somber about it than expected. I had a very enjoyable visit, but it affected me. I was so deeply touched by the genuine and sincere nature of old friends and classmates, that it just made me more nostalgic for “old times” than I’ve been for a while. Because Vegas is…. I think I am at a point where I am having to find my place here again.

That, with my birthday coming up, it does tend to put everything in perspective. My life by default is eccentric and eclectic. Most intentional with some you can’t plan for. I don’t want to turn my age into “a thing”. I don’t need “things” in my life. I need moments. And a sense of order in my chaos. My life doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but me, but I do value the things in my life. I just have to make sure that things value me in return.

I went out the other night with co-workers for drinks. We played a game/exercise where we imitated the best and worst of ourselves. It was light fun, but when they got to me, I thought I was ready. My attitude was very much “Go ahead: Imitate my mannerisms.” And then, for people who know me, and yet don’t know everything about me, their impression of me was a near direct channeling of my Father from hand gestures to vocal inflections. Of course, they wouldn’t have known that, but I found it striking that I saw them doing more of a Dad imitation than me, and then realized that for all things involved, I have ended up taking after the old man.

Last night, I went to a going away party for another friend. We didn’t hang out as much outside of online, but I’ve thought she’s been a great person, so I wanted to support her in a moment that had meaning and importance to her. I thought about that as well, about how support, or even in some cases just simply showing up to say “Hey, I’m here”, is a sign of respect and value. I want people to know that I care.

Even more noted, that with Jen and I getting into a discussion of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, Jen compared me to some of the mannerisms of Clark Griswold. I am committed to, and more often that not obsessed with creating “perfect” memories when it comes to roadtrips and even holidays. I want it to be the “Best Experience Ever”, which will cause me to go over the top to make things happen. To do that “one more thing” to just add to the overall experience. And while I haven’t tied any aunts to the roofs of any car (oh, but we all have one), I do manage to bumble my way through situations to provide the best results that I can.

I’ve learned that my personality is a weird combination of my Father and Clark Griswold this weekend.

I don’t expect next week to be anything more than a celebration of life. I’ve earned making it to this age. If it’s going to be “a thing”, it’s going to be one of my making. On my birthday, I plan to step out on the white sands of my one of my most favorite places that I’ve ever been, and just simply be me.

It’s time for me to redefine. Use my past experiences as building blocks for the foundation for who I choose to be. I plan to temper things. Simplify. Focus more on goals and a “greater good” than get stuck in the day to day drudgery of miserable people and politics and things that don’t get resolved. I just can’t do the latter anymore. That’s where my “world weary” sets in. I think I’m going to stick to the idealism of “making the world a better place”, but that has to start with me. And then I’m going to let that spread to others. At this stage, I’ve found that I’ve grown to believe that the only thing you really need to be a good person is yourself. So let’s see what I can make happen for the next ten years.

One “perfect”, bumbling moment at a time.

I carry less tennis rackets on my trips.

I carry less tennis rackets on my trips.