Me, at seventeen

I have to admit, I pulled a portion of this from a journal entry I wrote last year. Regardless, its been fun pointing a critical eye at my naive former self.

Sprawled out on the plush blue carpet of his bedroom floor is seventeen year old Kurt. He’s awash in the warm glow of Christmas lights that dangle from the loft above akin to some colorful cosmic galaxy. He breathes a frustrated puff of air and tosses the Latin text book on to the floor beside him. Dead languages are the absolute last thing on his mind right now. He looks to the ceiling and it isn't long before he's lost in his imagination. It’s late and he can’t help it.

While his mind is far away, we’ll get to know a little bit about him. The boy is wearing his trademark khaki pants and white dress shirt; he’s been on the move since 6:15am and hasn’t had time to change out of his catholic school uniform. His tie vanished with the ring of the final bell, revealing a silver cross around his neck; more a decoration than a symbol of faith. In fact his faith is waning in the advent of new thoughts and ideas, though he’s unsure if he’s ready to share this with the world. He’s afraid of what they may think.

Strength is something the boy has yet to find. Every so often he makes his way down into the bowels of the unfinished basement and pumps iron. His wiry frame is beginning to show some signs of growth, but chances are he’d probably get pummeled in a fight. Not that it matters, he’d be the last person to start anything anyway. He’s rather timid, a self-proclaimed lover not a fighter, though he still has much to learn about love.

He’s a total geek through and through. Every Tuesday he tunes in for the newest episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he’s grown quite fond of multiplayer gaming with his best friend Anthony over their dial-up modem connections. The boy also has a running countdown for the new Star Wars movie; he’s positive it will be the greatest film ever. He’s social, but the party scene is decidedly unappealing. He’d rather watch a movie or concoct some hare-brained scheme with his closest friends than spend the night getting blasted with the people in his class.

In the past few years he’s picked up on a new hobby: writing. He’s created a character that symbolizes everything he could ever hope to be. The boy spends his study halls filling his notebooks with story ideas that could fill volumes. Despite his penchant for writing, he still can’t pull himself above a D in English. He’s not sure if there is a future in writing, or even if it’s any good, but for now he enjoys it and keeps it close to his heart.

The boy has a weak spot for blonds, one in particular. She’s sat behind him the last few years of high school. Despite years of infatuation, he’s far too timid to make a move. He spends his day trying his damnedest to make her smile. The boy wishes she could see him the way he sees her. Everything about the girl is perfect and it crushes him to be just good friends. She's the closest thing to a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Aside from her, the boy lives for summer; taking the boat out, swimming in the lake, spending night after night at the cottage. The warmer months just can’t come fast enough. When the snow falls a part of him shrivels up and dies. He'd do anything to be where it’s warm. He dreams of living in California someday; happy and rich, sunning and surfing.

His home life is sound and he has a great family. He’s avoided any major teen blowouts with his parents, but his sister is another story. She’s the epitome of annoying. The two of them are like dynamite and matches and can barely pass each other in the hall without a throw down. The final member of the family is a plump young golden retriever named Charlie. He enjoys chasing the Frisbee and going for rides in the boy’s 1983 Mercury Zephyr. The car is falling apart, but being his first vehicle the boy has grown fond of it and sees the car as a shinning bastion of freedom, despite its rust brown color. He happily quotes Han Solo in saying, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.”

All in all, he lives a pretty good life and he’s excited about the possibilities the future holds. He’ll be starting college soon, majoring in archaeology. When he looks at himself in the mirror he can’t imagine himself getting old, but it will come in time. Just not tonight.

The boy is asleep now, snoring soundly on the floor. Latin homework will have to be hastily done in the morning before first period.

Powered by Plinky

Read. Re-read.

In response to being asked "What book could I read over and over?"

"I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges near, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us – then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir."

Carl Sagan – The Demon-Haunted World

Plinky asks: What is my dream vacation?

If I could some how fold the earth, placing the Maasai Mara alongside the Pacific Ocean, Bristol, England beside my hometown on the Black River, and shuffle the streets of London with the avenues of North Hollywood, the canals of Venice and the boulevards from some unexplored European destination you'd have just created my dream vacation.

25 Random Things About Me

1. The formula for my childhood would look something like this:

Indiana Jones + Star Wars (Winslow Street / Massey Street) x Ninja Turtles (Tree Houses – Wind storms / Sleepovers at Scordo’s) + Bike Riding² (Cousins + Grammie’s House) – Growing up = X

2. Some of my best memories are hanging out with the crew at The Inn.

3. French Toast in my ideal breakfast food.  If Tin Pan Galley is making it, there is no contest.

4. Hearing Matthew Good’s song ‘Near Fantastica’ live gives me goose bumps every time.

5. I have a habit of having dreams about zombie apocalypses.

6. I’m a skeptic, one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient (Basically, I’m the Scully).

7. I despise Marmite with a fiery passion.

8. I think “You’ve Got the Love” is one of the most amazing songs.

9. I can quote The Empire Strikes Back beginning to end. With sound effects.

10. I’ll take the hottest day in Africa over a cold day in New York anytime.

11. The best Valentine’s Day present I ever received was tacos from Taco Bell and a Heineken.

12. I will never understand people who have amazing talents and don’t use them.

13. If I could have one superpower it would be telekinesis.

14. I’ve always wanted to be able to do a back flip.

15. The hardest physical activity I have ever done is the “Murph” CrossFit.  The formula is: Run 1 mile, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, run 1 mile.  For time.

16. I collect Hula girls.

17. My favorite alcoholic drink is a Russian Standard vodka and tonic.

18. I have a habit of saying “gnarly” thanks to Peter Purcell.

19. My ideal car is a Land Rover Defender.

20. U2’s album ‘POP’ is one of the greatest albums ever.

21. I think Seth Green’s performance in ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ deserved an Oscar nomination.

22. I have a birthmark on the tip of my ring finger on my left hand.

23. I will never understand World of Warcraft.

24. My favorite author is Mark Twain.

25. If I didn’t enjoy writing and archaeology as much as I do, I think I would have liked to make a living as a surfing photographer.

A look back at an old friend…

My friend Don Oddi passed away just over a year ago. At the time I was in England and completely devastated by the news. I’d seen Don just a day before leaving, hugged him and looked forward to seeing him when I came back.  I spent 40 hours a week with him for a few years of my life and despite the 50 year age difference, I considered him a close friend.

I was less than impressed by his obituary in the newspaper.  At the time I figured I’d clear my head and pay homage to Don by posting one of my own along with some of his famous quotes. Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Don could appreciate what a friendly guy he was. He had a million stories to tell, but more often or not he told the same ones over and over.  How many times did the guys and I hear the one about Joe Leon and the famous triple murder or the story of Adrian dying at the desk?

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Don.


Written February 2009:

Dominic Oddi, or Don, as he was known to his friends, was 74 but told everyone he was 64. His parents were from Palermo, Italy and came over “on the boat”. He grew up on Arsenal Street and as a boy he attended Boon Street School. He’d traveled most of Europe when he was younger and proudly claimed to have been with a prostitute in every city he visited. Mr. Oddi was engaged once. His fiancee asked when they were going to get married and Don responded “But baby we were having so much fun.” She threw his ring in the snow. He worked at the The Inn for more than 20 years, making many friends in his tenure. He liked all of our girlfriends.  He enjoyed watching boxing, Syracuse games, and World War 2 movies. He liked cream filled donuts from P & C and his favorite month was October because it was the perfect temperature. His favorite baseball team was the Yankees and he thought Catherine Zeta-Jones was the most beautiful woman alive. He owned a white Fiero, but loved to walk, even in the winter time. In the summer he would walk to Sackets Harbor. He’d have a beer every night with dinner, usually a Budweiser. He was good with the cash drawer, but hated computers and Ray Canale. Don is survived by his cronies, Jack Scordo and Andy Fiamano (who have sadly also passed since this was written) and all the guys who worked with him at The Inn. He will be missed very much.

Famous Don quotes:

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

“I’m just going to have a sip.”

“That Robert is a goddamn idiot.”

“Yeah Robert, he’s a Rhodes scholar. Graduated Magna cum laude.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time I met Hillary (Clinton) down at the Library? I said to her “You are beautiful!” and she said “Well thank you!””

“Guess who I saw the other day… and she still likes you!”

“Is Andy Foster still fooling around with that broad who does the drugs?”

“Jesus Christ look at the tits on that broad!”

“Yeah like that time Jack met the spy…”

“I said Trudy, he’s not asleep, he’s dead!”

“Thirty two, that’s the perfect age to get married.”

“Remember kid, every woman has her shelf life.”

“The only drug we had when I was younger was Budweiser. And Utica Club.”

“If he was really the son of God, why didn’t he get done from that cross and teach them a lesson?”

“Joe Leon… yeah, famous triple murder!”

“Oh Jesus, here comes Jack and his Bermuda shorts with the socks. He thinks he’s some kind of college kid. Like some 18 year old girl is going to be interested in him. He’d be older than her grandfather!”

“It doesn’t cost a dime to be a nice guy.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you kid!”


I pull off at a large white mansion located in some undiscovered part of my old stomping ground on Winslow Street.  Strange I can only find this place when I’m looking for it. The white wooden Victorian mansion, though towering before me, hides in the shade of colossal elm trees on a carpet of thick green grass.  Birds chirp, the summer breeze tosses the branches above me, cicadas buzz.  The mansion is wrapped in an aura of peace and innocence that are a far stride from what you’ll find inside.

Ducking in through a side door I’m met by Thornley, a scummy thirty-something, canvassed with tattoos, his face framed by a long, nappy beard.  He’s flanked by two imposing figures that stand stoic an arm’s length away, gauging my every move.  Through some manner of happening Thornley’s managed to not only become a pop icon drug dealer in this town, but the owner of the brothel in which I find myself.  Thornley is an addiction profiteer.  I classify him as such because if something is illegal, chances are he’s making a living off of it.  I tell him I’m there to see Marissa and the two of us exchange idle banter while I fish the money from my pocket.

She’s a popular girl you know.  Probably one of my best.

He blows a line of coke with the money I give him then offers me some.  I politely decline, but he pushes it in my face.

I ensure him:

Next time.

He laughs, knowing full well that I’m bullshitting him, and waves me forward.

As I climb the narrow wooden stair case to the top floor, I try to recall how many times I’ve been here.  Six?  Seven?  More?  Each visit separated by months or years, but always for the same.  Always for Marissa.

I proceed through a paint flecked wooden door into a stunning chamber. Where one might expect a dark, seedy lounge I find a grand hall ringed by a massive balcony and lit by shafts of sun that stream in from tall windows.  Long hallways spiral off from the main room leading to dark interiors.  Young bartenders serve drinks from troughs of ice in the center of the room; soft pillowed couches serve as nests for young lovers.  I’m awestruck that the coke snorting hippy vagrant at the bottom of the stairs has built such a beautiful empire.

I wander through the room, straining to keep my focus, responding to seductive smiles with the coy curve of the corner of my lips.  I don’t belong, but I need to be here.

Then I spot her.  Marissa paces towards me with the brilliant smile.  Her petite body is wrapped in amethyst and cherry, curves of tan skin peek from beneath her garments, her chocolaty brown hair cascades down her back.  Seeing her pulls the air from my lungs.  My heart flutters and my hands quake.  I struggle to stay calm.  She is too beautiful for this place.  She could be in every magazine, every billboard and on every channel and the world would still want more.

I heard you were here.

She welcomes me with a kiss on the cheek.

It’s just to talk.  It’s about your writing.  There are things I need to know.

It’s always just to talk.  Go find a place and I’ll meet you in a few minutes.

She disappears into a side hall and I stroll to the bar with half interest in the world around me.

I’m in a sea of business men and bare skinned goddesses; cavorting, copulating.  This is a place where any man, or woman, can find what they seek.  For me, it just happens to be information.

I’m alone in that respect.

Marissa is a writer.  Despite the career to which she submits herself, a pen and paper in her hands are more dangerous then all moves her petite body and resourceful mind could ever concoct.  Her words are something more powerful than flesh and bone.  The thoughts that stream through her mind are more intoxicating than any pheromone.

I watch her as she reemerges with a notebook under her arm.

And before we can share another word, I’m shaken awake by the rhythmic thumping of a helicopter taking off outside.  The chamber falls to pieces, Marissa’s beautiful face replaced by the flat and feature less painted ceiling.  I’m left in the wash of overwhelming disappointment having been pulled from my imaginative state.   All I can do is groan and pull the pillow over my head.


And so that was my dream, this nondescript Friday morning.

This beautiful Marissa character is someone I’ve dreamt about for years.  I haven’t a clue where she comes from.  She embodies qualities that I can find in a handful of my female friends, but none of them are quite her.  She is the precisely the person I crave embroiled in a lifestyle so far from my own.  And her appearances in my nocturnal chronicles are so scarce that when she appears my world is shaken.

I love to dream.  I feel fortunate that I’m able to recall them quite easily, though I don’t always understand them.   I’d love to say that dreams are premonitions of the future or visits from some all knowing spirit guide struggling to keep us on our path.  But the truth is there’s no evidence that dreams are anything more than our subconscious working out internal problems in the most creative ways possible.

I’ve been wrestling with the desire to write lately, but haven’t been able to find the time.  Today I conquered that obstacle.  This fictional, incredibly lifelike encounter motivated me to grab my laptop and immediately start writing.  The dream has echoed through my head all day like a song.  I have nothing but respect for the subliminal inner workings of the human mind and the swift kick in the ass it has given me today.