Posts Tagged ‘mall’

“Any genuine philosophy leads to action and from action back again to wonder, to the enduring fact of mystery.”~ Henry Miller

Last November, I would fall upon a mystery that still has not been solved. This blog post is the very long and detailed story and the follow-up.

From the time that the sledge hockey team was on the road for the very first time in the program’s history, having that opportunity to go somewhere else and play, we found ourselves in Houston. We played for many hours in just over 27 hours and did all of that and came home.

Being that the second day of playing would lead us to our first visit to Ice Skate USA, inside of a shopping mall.

We had time between games and so the team stayed in the mall and took the time to look around, walk through places, and get something to eat at the food court.

Then it began. The true mystery that has been keeping me in the dark for months now.

A woman caught my eye. She looked at me and smiled so sweetly and waved doing that finger rolling kind of wave. Then as she passed by, she mouthed the words “hi there!” and continued on. It hit me like a ton of brick dust.

Her bright smile, her long wavy red hair, and her constant desire to wave wiggling her finger tips whenever she saw me inside the mall completely had my senses going at the speed of light.

She was working there as a train conductor. A fun ride for the children up to a certain height and/or their parents. And a quick lap or two and back again. And that is why I saw her in all kinds of different places throughout this shopping mall. Each time and without fail, if she saw me… she smiled really big and waved in the same fashion. And it was several times, not just two or three.

Could be that she suddenly was interested? What is going on with that wave? Does she always wave like that to people?  Or was it a case of her just being friendly, polite, and warm?? What the heck was going on???

I sat there with my thoughts, knowing I still had about a half an hour to kill in the mall before leaving to go to my next hockey match. And then I said to myself, “Screw this! I’m going to go talk to her!!”.

I knew that my history of speaking to women was less than admirable and would never be considered to go down into the history books . That and being full of shyness. But in this case I felt that I had absolutely nothing to lose by going over and saying “hello”.

I figured that if it turned out to be a disaster that because of the fact that I was from out of town, that I most likely would never see her again. But I never considered what would happen if I did speak to her and things went over well. I mean after all, every time I saw her, she waved and smiled really big.

I went over to the side of the shopping mall where this train that she was driving would start and stop. A nice mural painted on the wall to give a feeling of a train depot from long ago, complete with boardwalk.

But the train was not there. She was on the move somewhere. But the mall was so big, and I was honestly tired from the hockey, so I didn’t go after her or try to hunt her down.

It would seem like an eternity as I played “Beat the clock before I have to leave”. And after what was even longer of an eternity, finally I heard the dinging of the bell and cry of the whistle and I was right in her path!!

So in order to avoid being ran over by something that was probably going less than 2 MPH, I backed off. But I was actually close enough to her that I could have extended my arm and touched her.

As she rolled by, she saw me again. I caught her in the middle of eating a snack, and she still waved at me in the same manner, even though her snack food was between her fingers and she smiled. Giggling to herself that I caught her with food in her mouth as she grinned as best possible.

I patiently waited for her to stop the train and begin the process of letting parents and children off the ride. And then I was going to make my move and at very least…  say hello.

It would not happen.

The ultimate definition of the “cock block” came into play when a teammate of mine poked me in the arm and started asking questions about what I was doing and when I was leaving the mall to go play our next match and with whom I was going with.

Mindless chatter and absolutely nothing too important for him to be asking about. Just general FYI stuff. But each and every second was counting and unfortunately ticking away.

I had to be a little rude to him by saying that I was about to “go talk to a girl” and I wanted to do it before we had to leave. Eventually he got the point and left me alone. But like I said, this would not happen for me.

When this woman left with another round of parents and children, I waved and she smiled and waved back. But I could no longer afford to wait for her to return.

Waving like an idiot and over-emphasizing it was all I could do. And even though the train was moving as slow as mud, there were too many people in the mall walking around that I couldn’t just roll up along side her and have a conversation as she moved around the building and doing all of it before I had to leave.

I was out of time.

So then, it was time for Operation: Hope That We Get Invited Back Again To Play Sledge Hockey At The Same Rink In The Future So I Could See Her Again.

It would happen, in March of this year. Well, the invitation to play again.

A few players from my team went to Houston to scrimmage, and formulate plans for our upcoming tournament. After it was all said and done, I bolted like lightning over to the “train depot”, only to find nobody working there.

A few minutes later, the train was in action, but it was not the same wavy redhead with the gorgeous smile. She wasn’t there. And our team returned home just as quickly as we had arrived. All in one day.

It would be six full months before I would return to Houston AND see her again, all in the same trip. And that was during the Paralympic Sport Experience that I wrote about in my previous blog.

Same ice rink, same mall…. an opportunity had come. But I didn’t have a lot of time for chit-chat. Again, tired from the hockey, hungry, thirsty, and everything else in between.

But I did it. I went over there and I just started to watch for the perfect moment to say something to her while she loaded and unloaded her passengers. I would soon learn that she had her job down to a near science.

Stop. Unload. Receive money for tickets. Load passengers. Hand out tickets. Go.

The best I did at that point was take a few pictures of her. Unfortunately I understand that from a person’s viewpoint, it does look a bit creepy because in one photograph her back was turned. To be brutally honest, she was looking in my direction and turned around at the last second before the camera took the photograph. My fingers can be so slow when it comes to photography. Or at least my reaction time stinks!!

But the flash went off and she definitely noticed it. She saw me there, camera in my hand and just giggled and smiled and waved yet again.

I wondered why in the world I was sitting there, so I approached her. Her routine was very quick as she moved people on and off. I didn’t think that I was going to get a lot of conversation in. Even though I was aware that yes… this IS her job!! And her loitering could get her fired. I didn’t want to do that.

I really did surprise myself that she was actually beginning to multi-task with me while working. From moment to moment, I would back off so she could deal with her customers. Then I would start talking again.

The end result was that I asked her if I could get another photograph of her, basically asking her permission. She agreed.

Then she went over to one of the children in the lead car and was playful with him. It was a pretty safe bet that this child might have been hers. But I noticed an older gentleman sitting next to him, and then another child.

I asked if that was her family and she said, “That is my son.” Then we took a picture together, capturing that glorious smile of hers.

I could feel the bullets flying overhead, narrowly missing my face as she never mentioned “that’s my husband/boyfriend/whatever”. I believe that if she would have admitted to being married or taken or whatever else have you, that I would have felt all of it to be in vain without thinking clearly at the possibility of the genesis of a new friendship. Even if I was still living far, far away.

I explained that I was in town for the hockey and I would be in and out of Houston for a while. (Both for sledge hockey and for SIX MINUTE CENTURY). And I mentioned that I just might be living there one day.

Then… and I don’t know why… and ONLY then did I introduce myself by first name only. She reciprocated with the same politeness and personal information. I shook her hand and gave her my card.

The nerves finally came to the surface as I began to shudder and fumble my own speech as I encouraged her to either send me an e-mail or find me on Facebook. Her reply was “Okay sure.” Then I watched as she stuffed my personal card down the front of her conductor’s overalls.

I repeated her name to make sure I heard her right and again she reciprocated the action. I’ve read online articles about what that means when women do that…. could it be true???

I bid her farewell. And she said, “Nice to meet you. Welcome to Houston”.

Then I left, sharing the tale of what just transpired to anyone that would frickin’ listen. Later on, I would end up going into the food court and joining my team for a little hanging out time and rest before we went to check into our hotel. 

I kept looking at my camera numerous times at the few photographs that I had taken and suddenly very eager to get back home. Plus I wouldn’t stop talking about the “success” I had and I could not believe how “easy” it was to have done what I did do.

When we finally left the mall for good, we passed by and I went over towards the “depot” but kept my distance again. Our eyes locked and I waved and she waved back. Then I just turned around and left, not knowing if her eyes were burning through the back of my head as I rolled away.

I think my teammates wanted to throw me out into the streets and have me wheel home because I wouldn’t shut up about it.

But the following morning meant more hockey, and I would have to wait before I came home to even see if she had e-mailed, called, or found me on Facebook.

So far to the point of the writing of this post… she has not.

I do realize that my 500 business cards that I ordered was meant expressly for the promotion of sledge hockey and possibly earn donations or even attract some people to join our team and enjoy the sport as much as the rest of the team enjoys it. But many times, I have also given those cards out to women that I found interesting.

Sad to say that the history of my card distribution has had zero results. So in a way, I could say that the odds are against me for this woman to contact me. Of course I met her at her job, and she does have a small child so life could be pretty busy for her. I can only keep optimistic and cross my fingers that she does contact me in some manner.

I can’t say for sure, nor would I want to say what will happen. Positivity is key. One simply never really knows.

The first layer of the onion mystery is gone now though. I know what her first name is, and I know that she has a son. Nothing more… the mystery continues and I intend to pursue until it is done.

 

 

‘Like- Merry Christmas, and stuff!’

“Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!!”~ Randy Quaid as ‘Cousin Eddie’ in “Christmas Vacation” [1989]

 
Okay so I’ll write the disclaimer now. This blog post is not for two sets of people:
 
  • Those who still believe in Santa Claus.
  • Those who have a weak stomach.
 
But for the rest of us, I will share with you the top moments of Christmas from my own youth. There is some humor in it, if you can find it.
 
Growing up in a large family, myself being the third child out of four. Yep, I’m a middle child. Christmas was a bit rough when it came to buying Christmas gifts for everyone. Each one of us would spend time in the bedroom of our parents to wrap the gifts, place bows on them, and fill out those silly little Christmas TO/FROM: tags and place them on the present to each member of the family.
 
When it was my turn, my father was running out of time to help as he had other things to do, so instead of “helping me” wrap gifts, he wrapped them and then I would write out the TO/FROM: tags and then I would place them under the Christmas tree.
 
Finding just the right one was difficult. Or it could have been that I was just being difficult because I could never really choose which one I wanted to put on each present. I would go through many tags and then finally take the stickers off the paper and then place them on the present.
 
After the first one, I wrote “FROM: Santa Claus”. That went by unnoticed. The second gift however, was not so lucky in getting by passed by my father.
 
He noticed that I had written “Santa Claus” on two different gifts. It was a figure that was not celebrated in my youth. Before I knew it, the present was thrown back into my lap and then the authorative voice of my father booming out, “What’s this??”.
 
The moment I said the word “Santa”, I felt the full parental authority come down on me as I got my butt kicked. I went through a five minute lecture as to WHY we did not celebrate Santa Claus and was told to do the tags over again.
 
But it wasn’t over.
 
My mother heard the shouting and came into the bedroom to see what was going on. When she heard what I had done… well, I got it from her too. I would go on to say that if I or my siblings were disciplined by BOTH parents, that I would call it “Frequent Flyer Miles”. One parental backhand would send me sailing into the reach of the other parent and then I would be returned back to where I was standing by way of ANOTHER disciplinary action by the second parent.
 
It probably sounds a lot worse than what I am writing it out to be. There was no “time out” back then as a form of discipline. When you got in trouble– you got it from your parents!!
 
But that year, I received a BONUS Christmas gift from my parents, that came a few days early by way of discipline. I would never dare mention or write the name of the jolly old elf again in the house. EVER. And it began my own belief system that there probably was no such thing as Santa Claus. But I would never go and ruin it for the other children who believed.
 
But the other story has a lot more humor to it than the first:
 
The memory is a bit vague as I was probably about four or five years old. But the day of Christmas Eve, I was with my mother and my younger brother inside a crowded shopping mall. The odd thing about it was that my brother and I were both sick from the day before with what would only turn out to be the 24-hour flu, because by the time Christmas Day arrived, we were fine. We were getting to feel better, but we weren’t out of the woods. But my mother couldn’t leave us in the house alone, we HAD to go with her.
 
Over and over again, we would pass by Santa’s little corner. It was the place where children could go visit Santa Claus and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. My brother and I pestered my poor mother to go get in line and tell him what we wanted. But my mother would refuse each time. Until we finally just wore her down and she gave in.
 
The mall was about to close, the line was a mile long in front as it was behind us when we stepped in line. Many parents who had seen that I was a disabled child, allowed my mother to cut in line to get to see Santa Claus a lot sooner.
 
For those of you who have seen A Christmas Story, it was very similar to the part in the film where Ralphie and his kid brother were in the back of the line and panic set in with Ralphie because he did not think that he would get there in time to tell Santa Claus what he wanted for Christmas.
 
My brother went first. He began to tell this man in a red suit and a white beard which had happened to be real, what he wanted for Christmas.
 
Suddenly, my brother stopped talking. The poor mall Santa wondered what was going on.
 
In a flash, my brother opened his mouth and proceeded to projectile vomit all over the place. That flu had gripped on to my brother and made its presence still known. It went everywhere! Stuck in his beard, down the front of his red suit.
 
The poor man removed my brother off of his lap and tried to take everything in stride. He was handed a towel before I was next to be sat upon his lap. My mother on standby in case my balance was thrown off. 
 
The bastard that was portraying the happiest and most jolly of elves began to grumble to me about the “little brat that threw up on him”. That “little brat” was my little brother! It didn’t please me so much that this person who was supposed to be so uplifting and a positive thing for children was calling my brother names.
 
I think that my body was ready to stand up to Kringle, and fight. As I was situated on his lap so that I would not fall, my body began to churn. I didn’t even get as far as to tell this so-called Christmas “go-to guy” what my first name was before I too…. had given him a baptism by vomit. And not only that. Everything that did not come out from the top, exited my body from below.
 
Santa Claus was given the double dose of vomit and diarrhea. This guy, whomever he was.. was covered in puke and shit. From his beard to his boot, he was NOT covered it soot. That’s for sure!
 
But you know what?!? Give me a break.. I was a child.
 
The Santa Claus began to scream obscenities in front of everyone. Clearly he was pissed off. I cannot say now that I blame him. And he closed up for the day. He was done and he left the mall, trying to dignify himself by “ho-ho-ho”-ing as he walked away covered in body debris. Those parents who had allowed us to cut in front of them probably regretted it. The long line behind us would not get a chance to plop their children on Santa’s lap that year. Unless they went to another shopping mall before it too, had closed.
 
I was covered with it too. Such embarrassment for a child to have crapped his pants and had to walk in it until we got into the car in the large mall parking lot, where luckily my mother had packed extra clothes for me and my brother and we did the best we could to change clothes and clean up in the back seat of the Matador station wagon.
 
But hey, as an adult? That story is funny as hell!!!
 
Gross and disgusting, but funny. After my teen years, I began to wonder if that guy ever was hired again to be a mall Santa. Or even if he dared to take the job after what my brother and I had done to him.
 
I think that though we all have our memorable Christmases. Some of us have received lavished gifts, others getting engaged or married around the holidays. And whatever else that could only happen during what seems to be the miraculous season of Christmas.
 
Some are heart-warming. Others (like mine) have humor to it. But give thanks that we can spend time with our loved ones and family during this time of the year. Some people don’t have anywhere to go this year. I’ve gone through that too, many times in the past decade or so.
 
So be sure to reflect and smile on YOUR special Christmas memories. And may THIS year bring even brighter and better memories to you and your family.
 
I am sure that since people have been receiving gifts early this year, that they will have no problem in sharing what they’ve received ON Christmas Day. Be sure to comment and share what you receive this year and what makes Christmas time such a special time for you. Yes, I would love to know.
 
To my subscribers, friends, family, and dear ones close to me: I love you. Merry Christmas!!

“May your days be merry and bright!!”.

 

I think I know now why they call them, “dream vacations”. I just spent the weekend in Houston, Texas. No, not the ocean like I said I would be at. There are reasons for that deception. I’ll get to that in a moment. But now that it is over, it felt so much like a dream.

I would have to say that it was quite difficult for me to keep things under wraps, so to speak. The whole intention of the so-called weekend getaway was to surprise a few people who live in the Houston area.

I had other things going on, but I won’t be so boring getting into them. Besides, who wants to talk “business” when its supposed to be a vacation?? So I’m just going to focus on solely, the “personal”.

During that time though, I got to do what I had only been dreaming of doing for many years now. For one, getting to a SIX MINUTE CENTURY show. But I will blog about all of those experiences in another post. Their lead singer, Chuck Williams was celebrating his birthday and they had a show. My entire plan was to surprise the whole band by traveling the 200 miles to be there. The other, was to finally meet in person, romance author Jessica Trapp.

To be honest, I never would’ve thought in a million years that these dreams would  come true. But they did. I am so grateful for those dreams to turn into a reality. I am above Cloud Nine at this point.

I had never been to Houston before. I had gone through it on the way to Galveston twice in my life and I thought that Houston was scary! Maybe it was just the traffic. So I knew this was going to be quite the experience for me. Nervous, excited, and totally stoked to go. I showed up far too early at the bus depot that it was just totally unnecessary and inhumane to be there that early. The excitement got the best of me for sure.

Three hours on the bus and I was met by one of my dearest friends, Lori. I had known her for about two years and now I was face to face with her. Then later meeting up with her fiancee, Michael. The bassist to SIX MINUTE CENTURY.

I had only been there for about five hours and I remember thinking to myself, that this was a great idea and I was excited for the next day to meet everyone that I had been in communication with over the Internet for so long. All of my worries were carried away. I was able to just chill out and relax and enjoy those who were hosting me for the weekend. Great and awesome people! I knew that the excitement would build.

Its so surreal when you are in non-verbal communication for so long and then you are directly in their face. There’s no turning back. There’s no delete button. No backspace key. It becomes whatever you make it and that’s the way it is.

I have no complaints though. I didn’t have any problems at all with anyone. And I was glad for it.

That same night, I was taken to a recording studio where SIX MINUTE CENTURY is hard at work recording their second album. So thrilling for me because I had never been in one before. I got to meet lead guitarist, Don LaFon later that evening. (See guys? I spelled it right!)

For me to have that opportunity as a fan to get to hear the new material was just so cool! I definitely felt like I was receiving the VIP treatment!! I’m probably one of the band’s biggest fans.

When I begin to like something and feel passionate about it, I go full force. The dedication stays with me until death!

That first day, I was awake for 21 hours before I was able to crash at the hotel. I literally sat there all alone in the hotel room, overwhelmed with positive energy, happiness, and full of emotion that I cried myself to sleep. Getting to see the entire band was going to be so awesome.

The 22nd of April was the big day. The reality was slowly creeping in that at long last I would be in the presence of great colleagues and get to see the band that I admire so much play live.

In the afternoon, I met up with author Jessica Trapp and her son, had lunch and spent the afternoon walking around in the mall and the surrounding shopping centers. 

I was totally nervous. I had so much trouble with being so scared that I would sound like an idiot. After all, she is a writer and it would stand to reason that her vocabulary would be more advanced than mine. I just hoped that I sounded like a decent human being when I engaged in conversation. To me, that was a lot of pressure.

Even with my nervous driving me insane, I still found a way to become relaxed and  comfortable. Even though the first impressions are always the ones that become impressed on the mind and opinions of others.

The world seemed to have stood still. Nothing else mattered. Yet time still melted away and I parted ways from Jessica in the late afternoon. It was a real fun time. I enjoyed her company. And as always, I was appreciative that she took me to lunch, and took the time to come out to see me. Even though I was probably quite a drive from her.

The night of the concert I will be saving for the next post. Yet it was another 19 hours of being awake and crawling into the hotel room at 5:00 AM? Yeah, all I can really say about it is, “that’s rock and roll for you!”. I’d do the entire day all over again and again and again and again if I could.

Saturday was a day of trying to recover. I think I kind of failed. Such the headache and fatigue crept over me like a blanket and I just was fumbling around so much like a goofball. But I was happy about it!

It literally took two days to get over it. But that second day was the day I was to return home on the bus.

I needed to get back to my own life and I needed to let others return to their routine of daily life as well. Not having my own mode of transportation and having to rely on others to get me where I needed to go, does become burdensome. I’m just so glad that I have wonderful friends who didn’t mind so much. I did exactly what I needed to do in order to gain some of the good mental health back into my life and stop worrying about the bullshit drama that actually surrounds me at home every single day.

There was a discussion about the possibility of me returning to Houston for the band’s next show and when that could be. It looks like near the end of the summer. It was also discussed about whether or not things could be done to make it happen on both sides with my wonderful hosts and myself. I think there’s a chance. I discussed my feeling that I would like to have a bit of a longer stay but I knew that it would mean a lot more. And besides, things worked out great this past weekend, having it being Easter. Those around me having the day off and all. If I were to go, I’d probably have a lot more free time on my hands all by myself until people are out of work and able to connect with me.

There was really not a lot of negative stuff happening around me. I lost my cd player in the process, and a favorite writing pen walked off somewhere in the city of Houston. But I have plenty of pens at home, and I was able to replace my cd player while I was there.

I was supposed to depart at 12:30, but things got fouled up when I heard that the 12:30 bus did not have a wheelchair lift. Instead, I had to wait until 3:30 to take the next one that did have a lift. I wasn’t sure what happened. I did what I was supposed to do on my end. So my hosts got to hang out with me at the bus depot.

And then Jessica Trapp came back for one more visit, bringing her entire family with her, on their way through town to celebrate Easter with someone else. She brought a bag full of goodies. Brought a few books that I did not have that she wrote and autographed them. It was a really nice surprise. (I actually came home with A LOT of stuff that was just given to me. I am thankful for everything and everyone.)

After the short visit by her, my hosts departed to be on their way as well to celebrate Easter with family. More pictures were taken. Hugs given. Loving sentiments traded. I just needed to let everyone know how much I appreciated them, and how much they meant to me. Their sacrifices that they made to make this all become a successful trip. Totally overwhelming for me.

And then, wouldn’t you know it? Drama has to set in while sitting outside in the sunshine.

Some bum came up to me and asked me for change and/or a cigarette. I told the guy that I had nothing. So he moved on to the next person standing about four feet away, puffing away on a cigarette.

He asked him for a smoke, and the guy told him to get bent because it was his last one. Just about that time I adjusted myself in my wheelchair and shifted my weight. Right when I did that, all this change came pouring out of my pocket and spilling onto the sidewalk.

That bum heard it, and came running after it. I freaked out. I mean, I had my stick with me. And we all know by now the history of the stick. But it was buried at the bottom of my bag. It would’ve taken me a very long time to dig through to find it, and possibly use it if I needed. I just wouldn’t have had enough time to do that and protect myself. This guy came running so quickly that I started yelling.

So lucky that Houston police was right there when it happened. They yelled at the guy and he tried running away, but the police officer did one of those running tackles from behind. Something that I’ve only seen on “COPS”. He was arrested and hauled away. Not sure what charges were given.

I saw that, and I got to witness a woman getting arrested for shoplifting at the mall on Friday morning. Such sad people. But I was okay. I wasn’t hurt.

I finally boarded the bus around 3:00 and was under the impression that we would be leaving at 3:30. But we pulled away from the bus depot at 3:15. Then being told over the intercom that we would be arriving at 6:45, I thought that the ride home was going to be miserable. It was bad enough that I didn’t want to go in the first place. Lucky for me, we arrived just three hours later. I think I finally entered my apartment at 7:00 on the dot.

So my personal thanks goes out to Michael and Lori, and Jessica… and of course, SIX MINUTE CENTURY. It was worth every ounce of energy planning this for so long, and worth every penny spent to get down there. I hope to have an even better time if I make it down there again in a few months. Now that I know the ropes of riding on the bus to and from Houston. It will get easier and be better each time I do it.

I met so many people and made new friends. It was definitely a wonderful time. I can say it over and over again. Hard to believe that I saw all these wonderful, beautiful people just YESTERDAY!

So I believe its called a dream vacation, because I had such a wonderful time and didn’t want to come home at all. Please Houston, if it was only a dream… NEVER wake me.

Note: SIX MINUTE CENTURY’s MySpace and Facebook pages, along with Jessica Trapp’s new website, “Getting Trapped In A Book”, can be found in the links in the blog roll. I highly suggest you check them all out.