Disconnect & Reconnect

Every summer for the last 5 years, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to go up to Lake George with my parents, brother & sister’s families, and my two aunts for a week of relaxing and fun.  I realized something really important this year.

One of the things I look forward to most is the point about 5 miles south of the place we stay, my signal cuts out.  And I mean completely.  There’s signal in about a 1 foot square, and it moves randomly around the grounds so that I don’t even bother.  The only thing I use my phone for is to take pictures.  It’s really nice to not be distracted by electronics for a while.  It gives me a chance to interact with all of my family and to reconnect with them in a way I wouldn’t be able to if we were tied to the internet and distracted by facebook, or youtube, or things like that.

I spent 7 days walking everywhere, kayaking, swimming, diving off rocks, not to mention taking the kids all wake boarding and tubing.  We all made dinner, all sat and talked over games and ice cream…it gave me a chance to get reaquainted with the people I care about most in the world.

Do yourself a favor, disconnect and reconnect with your loved ones.  Now is only around for a short time, don’t regret time spent online rather than with the people who matter.

45

Well, I made it to 45.  Interesting ride so far.  Didn’t think I’d still feel so young, or at least young at heart by this time.  Thinking back on 45 when I was in elementary school, I wondered which brand of wheelchair I’d be in instead of which workout I’m going to do at the gym.

So where am I now, and what have I done?

Been married to my best friend what will be 20 years this New Years Eve, I have a 16 year old son and a 14 yr old daughter that make me proud enough to burst and crazy enough to snap all in the span of 5 minutes.  We live in a nice area of a nice town in central Jersey.  Yeah, as a kid growing up in Long Island making fun of Joisey, never thought I’d end up here, but I really like it.  I even went so far as to not date people from NY and NJ in college because I wanted to marry someone from MD, VA, or south :)  So I went to school in Virginia, to meet a girl online in Houston who actually grew up 80 miles from me….in New Jersey.

For those who don’t know, I was at James Madison University in 1993 playing a game on the school computers that was a role playing, text based game based on the Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey.  Back then everything was telnet, Bulletin Boards, and Compuserve. It was all text based, black screen green type, old VAX machine stuff, and yet somehow, before the internet really existed, I made a connection online with a person in Houston who I ended up marrying a few years later.

I learned that I love scuba diving more than any other activity else I’ve ever experienced and yet I still live in NJ where there is next to no diving at all.  I’ve seen colors and fish in the waters around Aruba that still take my breath away thinking back on them.

I have a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and loved teaching it for 3 years.  I’ve studied martial arts for the last 20 years off and on, lately more off, but found that there’s something that connects me to western culture finding real peace when i’m moving through forms or sparring.

I got hit by a 26 foot delivery truck in my car and spun it 180 degrees, then flipped it 3 times travelling from the left shoulder to the right shoulder of a three lane highway and somehow walked away with glass in my hair, a wrecked car, coffee all over me, and what ended up needing minor surgery to fix my elbow.  I’ve had both elbows operated on, I’ve had ‘the good’ skin cancer (13 yrs no issue) and lately I am in better shape because I went paleo and found out that I have celiac disease so now I eat no grains.  I’ve had pneumonia, bronchitis, chicken pox, found out I have tinnitus and skin cancer, and I’m still walking around :)

I’ve had good jobs and horrible jobs, worked with great people, and nasty pieces of work, but through it all I’ve thankfully always learned something.  I’ve travelled less than 10 minutes to one place that was 1.5 hours driving each way and into the city which was 2 hours each way, if I was lucky.  The job I’m in now, my manager is fabulous and the prospects at this company are amazing, plus I’m only 15 minutes away.  Now that I’m a manager of a full group of people who are all local (most of my former management exp has been consulting companies), I appreciate some of the hell I put some of my managers through so I believe I’m doing my pennance  :)

I’ve made mistakes, learned from most of them, wasted a lot of time in certain periods of my life and paid for it in others.  Would I go back and change anything?

Nah.  I like me where I am now.  There have definitely been some rough years in there, but we got through them and I think we’re all better for it.  Am I where I want to be?  No man, I don’t own that island yet that has the huge house on it that I go scuba diving every day, but I’ve corrected the mistakes I’ve made and put myself and the people I love on the right track and see where I need to go and what I need to do to get there.  If I can get off my ass and finish my book, maybe this will be more of a reality :)

We’re on this planet for a finite period of time and then who knows what happens.  I won’t say the next 45 years are going to be doing everything on my bucket list, but there’s a quote I like -

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the  intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming — WOW– What a Ride!”

I don’t see the next 45 years as me being reckless, but I think it’s going to be pretty fun, regardless :)

Ch…ch…ch…ch..chaaaanges

Turn and face the strain….

Nah.  I’m going to turn and face the new job.  Yup :)  I handed in my notes at my current company on Monday and I begin work at my new company on Sept 23rd.  I will be the IT Development Manager in charge of….development :)

They needed a project manager who knew how to read and write code and voila, they got me!

So excited.  New adventure, new surroundings, new commute.  Yes, sports fans.  I’m trading in my 2 hours commute into NYC for an 18 minute commute two towns over.  YES!  TWO TOWNS!  I can wake up at 7:30, get a shower, breakfast, coffee, dressed, and to work before 8:30! :)  Actually my plan is to get a gym membership around the corner so I can get  up at 6am with the kids, get them ready and off, go do 30-45 minutes at the gym, come home, shower, get ready  - and not wear a tie, and get to work before 8:30am.

It’s the gig of a lifetime and the stars just all aligned.  Great Director to report to, can’t wait!

Paris – Day Quatre

I’m writing this from home because we were so spent the nights after we got back. :)

Day four was mostly ile de Cite time.  We hopped on the metro, after a huge helping of eggs and french bacon(lardon), and began the day at Saint Chappelle.  While not especially huge, it really almost brought tears to my eyes.  The first floor is really pretty, not especially impressive in comparison, but I thought it was pretty nice.  Got Aidan and my parents a gift while we were in the ground floor, and took some pictures, then headed up the spiral staircase located in the back of the church.  I noticed there was one on the other side as well.  Everything in the church is symmetrical.  Walked up the stairs and saw what all the fuss was about.

I had seen an article about the stained glass in the church a few months ago and had put this on our list of things to do because I love just staring at it and picking out all of the scenes in it.  I read how impressive it was and I was not disappointed.  It honestly took my breath away it was so beautiful.  Starting from the back left corner moving up the side curving around in the front and coming back down the other side were scene upon scene from the bible, picked out in brilliant colors.  Thankfully the sun was cooperating and blasting brilliant color into the room.  I was literally standing there open mouthed when I heard Fae’s sharp intake of breath and she turned me around to look at the back of the church.

I almost wept it was so beautiful.  Called the West Rose window, i just stood and stared for I’m not sure how long.  Fae took lots of pics that we posted on Facebook, but for some reason we couldn’t get this one to come out as well as we’d like.  The real issue is you really can’t capture how awesome it is.

From there we went to Notre Dame and walked around outside in the grounds.  The architecture is amazing because of the things they needed to do to ensure it would stop sinking.  Yeah, the church had begun to sink :)  The line was hours long and after Sainte Chapelle, we were content to just look at the flying buttresses and the gargoyles from where we were.

After admiring the size and beauty of it, we walked to a gluten free cafe called the Biosphere Cafe (I recommend the potato and bacon quiche), we decided to go to the cemetery of Pere Lachaise where a lot of famous people are buried.  Got some cool pics of Pizarro, and Seurat’s graves as well as that of Jim Morrison of course :)

That night Fae had booked us on a ghost tour that turned out to be more of a historic murder tour, but it was cool nonetheless.

In the next post, I’ll regale you with the tale of Eric the Fussy Frenchman and our trip to Versailles.

 

Paris – Day Trois

Monday August 12th, 2013 9:45am Latin Quarter

“Honey, we are supposed to be walking out of the house in 15 minutes”.  Laughter ensues.  We woke up later than yesterday and spent the morning making breakfast and being lazy.  Note to those who are coming to Paris.  Get the thick bacon.  Holy crap.  Eggs, bacon, avocado fried up in the bacon fat, oh hell yeah that’s a good way to start your day.

We hung out for a little while longer and Fae was practically falling asleep on the couch.  One of the things I wanted to do was to go check out Monmartre and Sacre Couer, which was never really huge on Fae’s list, so Jason and I took off and left Fae and Joe to hang out and rest up.  We jumped on the metro and headed to a church called La Madeline and it was pretty different than anything I’d ever seen.  Dark, almost no windows except for a domed sky light, I was impressed by the structure, but didn’t really feel like what I was used to.  Cool as hell though.  There’s a famous mustard store across the street that Jason got a refill of, I swear the guy inhales mustard, and tried to find a place to get a coffee.  There is no such thing as a deli here, and most places don’t encourage you to grab to go.  The only coffee I saw anyone drinking on the street was Starbucks, and I’m sure as hell not going to drink that here.

We caught the metro to Sacre Coeur and Monmartre, and I have to say, don’t spend any time in Monmartre, it’s a dump.  That and a serious tourist trap.  Took the finicular (tram/train) to the top of the hill and went into Sacre Coeur.  Much more like what I was used to, but it had the passage and chapels behind the altar, it was pretty cool.  Lots of stained glass, mostly red, but then again, the church of the sacred heart should probably have a lot.  I lit a candle for some family and friends, and felt at peace inside, it was nice.

Have to say, the view?  Not nearly as cool as I expected.

Came back, went and did sprints in the Jardin de Plantes, and showered and changed for dinner.  Went to Chez Papa, had the duck with braised leeks.  Dude.  Go.  Get it now.  I think they have restaurants in the states, so try it if there is one.  Ho. Lee. Crap.  Coffee in the little cups, wonderful atmosphere sitting outside and watching people go by.  Lovely.

Back and catching up on pics of Gillian at camp, talking to Aidan, and seeing the the Red Sox are still in first place.  Okay, cool :)  Tomorrow should be Notre Dame, St Chapelle, Conciergerie, and maybe the  gf baker, Helmut Newcake or as I referred to him when I couldn’t remember his name – Hubert Muffintop.

Paris so far

Okay, I’m awake and alive now. Time to catch up.

Friday August 9th, 2013 4:30am
No.

Friday August 9th, 2013 4:45am
Really? Oh yeah, we want to sleep as much on the plan as possible so we’re waking up super early. Our flight isn’t until 6:15pm, but we want to sleep the whole time so we got up super early. Finished up a few last minute cleaning things around the house, got Gillian over to my inlaws, packed the rest of the stuff, and left the house. Got to the airport with several hours to spare and went to the United club to sit in nice chairs and eat decent food.

Plane had a broken bathroom so our departure was an hour and a half delayed and the. We sat on the Tarmac for another 45 min or so. Okay, we’re off finally. Giggling French 12 yr olds behind us have kicked me a dozen times but that’s fine. Eat some dinner, which wasnt bad, and get ready to try to sleep. Yeah, screaming 9 month old is having none of that. Screams for a good 3hours or so before Mom gets her to sleep. The darling 12 yr olds are sleeping with their heads on the dining trays so every time they move, so do we. All told, maybe two full hours of sleep.

Saturday August 10th, 2013 noon
Got through customs, waited for a while for the bags, grabbed some euros from an ATM and found a nice agent at the train to help us get a 3day metro pass and two RER passes from airport to Paris. The three day metro pass is really worth it because we’ve been on and off the metros a lot already.

Got to the apartment in the Latin quarter, lovely place with an amazing view and right down the block from the Jardin de Plantes. We went for a walk with Jason and Joe to stretch our legs and hang out. Beautiful place and we only got a short time walking around. Hopped on the metro and went to the Musee Cluny, its a medieval museum. Lots of tapestries, carvings (stone and wood), and stained glass it was a wonderful trip and lots of stuff to see. Stopped and got a coffee and croissant and headed back to the apt for dinner. Jason made mussels, turbot, squash Nd crab claws, it was amazing.

Polished off dinner and had a second nap beforehand made the night boat for a tour up and down the Seine. Really beautiful stuff, nice time with Fae. I highly recommend going on the bateaux mouches tour. Lots of bridges, and beautiful architecture with my best friend. Yeah, it’s nice that the kids are home:)

Sunday August 11th, 2013 7:30am
Maaaaaan…..yeah. Woke up early to jump on the metro to go see the catacombs. Recommendation:get to the catacombs EARLY. We got there before 9 and we had about 8 people in front of us. It opens at 10 and by the time they started letting people in, the line was around the block and up the next street. Amazing stuff to see, miles of bones and lots of low ceilings so watch your head if you’re over six feet.

Came back for lunch and a bit of a rest and went to Musee D’Orsay. Beautiful place, lots of impressionist paintings my Manet, Monet, Sissely, Degas, Cezanne, and Renoir. Really beautiful collection to view. Walked around for a little while longer and came back. We were planning on going to the Rodan museum, but it was already a long day so we came home. Jason cooked duck for the first time and it was amazing. Apricot reduction on top, asparagus and cooked avocado halves. I’m still full. It’s about 9:30 now and we’re all relaxing in the apartment. Might go to bed soon because I’m still pretty knackered plus today was full of walking.

I have to say, pictures don’t even begin to explain the expanse and grandeur of some of these places. Walking along the Seine, there is so much to see, I can see how people come back year after year and see different stuff all the time.

Ill update more tomorrow. We’re planning on going to Pere Lachaise cemetery, Sacre Couer and Monmartre,and the Grand Opera. We’re going to try to stop at a few gluten free places we found to see if i can get some yummy French treats:)

We’re leaving…..on a jet plan

Yes sports fans, we’re off….TO PARIS! :)

Good friend of ours is renting an apartment in the Latin Quarter for 3 weeks and invited Fae and I to join him and his son for a week, so we jumped at the chance.  We’re in Newark airport in the United Club, she scored us some passes, and it’s really nice in here.  We’ve still got over an hour until the plane boards, but she’s already worked her magic and gotten us upgraded to exit row :)

My legs are already thanking her.

In order to battle the jet lag, we woke up this morning around 4:30 or so and have been up since.  The hope is that we’ll get on the plane, have a bite to eat, and sleep the bulk of the flight over there.  It’s 7hr 15min so I’m hoping for a solid 5 hours or so.  The plan is to stay awake once we get there and go to sleep regular time once we’re there.  We’ll see how this works :)

Wish us luck!  I’m going to hopefully post here and put pics up as well as we go along.  We fly back on Thursday morning.

Outta here…well for a week at least

We’re headed up to Lake George tomorrow, and the timing couldn’t be better.  I’m in such dire need of some time off to decompress it’s not even funny.  Staying here http://silverbay.org/ for the 5th? year in a row.  Really excited to spend some quality time with my extended family.

And they have sailing lessons, so I’m finally going to figure out how to do it! :)