Paris Prattle

Paris Panorama
Paris Panorama

And now, the last stop on our trip…

March 9, 2012
Midnight Paris Time

Final thoughts, final words on a trip that has been amazing, marvelous, spectacular and a host of other things. Arriving in Paris last night proved even more of a language barrier than Rome. I had a tough time trying to figure out where to go. Of course, part of that is my fault for not getting the Paris travel guide. The series served me well in Barcelona and Rome. But I knew Ali would be here and she would serve as my guide. Assuming I ever found her hotel. Which I finally did.
Once we got ready, we had a spectacular night on the town. We had crepes, saw the Eiffel Tower light up, saw L’Arc de Triomphe, then went to the Crazy Horse to watch a burlesque show, as well as a magic show by Rocco. Champagne flowed freely and the night was perfect.

L'Arc de Triomphe
L’Arc de Triomphe

I decided to pay more than I had for my last two hotels in order to stay another night at the Novotel Montparnasse. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it.
Then today, the touring started. The Eiffel Tower. The Seine on a boat cruise. The fountain at St. Michel. The Church of Notre Dame. The Louvre. L’Arc de Triomphe. Then back to the creperie I ate at last night. This time I shared a booth with four women. They were very friendly. One is from Connecticut, in Paris on business. I gave her my name. She said she’d look me up when she went to Boynton Beach.
As long as the subject of women is up, I had a great conversation on the boat cruise with the guide. She’s Italian and her name is Guiseppina, Italian for Josephine. And she was very beautiful. I do feel that, between getting fitter – I climbed 670 steps to the second story of the Eiffel Tower! – and feeling more confident about the things I can accomplish, I feel more self-confident and more self-assured. No more believing I deserve second-class anything. I will not settle.

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower

I am a little sad that this incredible journey is reaching its conclusion, but I am also happy to be going home, close to those I love and who love me. It will be strange coming back to reality, because this entire week has not felt at all real. I will always treasure this opportunity I was given and the perfect weather and timing and everything. I am grateful I got to experience this. I guess this may be my last European journal entry. If so, then adios, arrividerci and au revoir!

March 10, 2012
1:05PM Paris Time

So, it turns out there will be one more European entry into the journal. Today has been the first real nerve-wracking day of my entire vacation. I went out early to get souvenirs, little realizing how long it would take. I didn’t get back to the hotel until after 10AM, later than I’d hoped. Then I faced a looooong train ride to the airport, arriving around 11:30. The the next speed bump. It seemed like I needed another ticket to get OUT of the subway. Fortunately, I found an exit that was open and I walked out, figuring if someone said something I’d be able to explain. Then the next speed bump – the check-in. I started at Area 3, and the lady there told me I needed Area 7. I get to Area 7 and the lady there says I need to go to Area 2, which was right next to Area 3. I get in line and then the agent sends me to the Delta desk to get my buddy pass information. Then it’s back in line. The lady talking to the agent I need to see again is talking…and talking…and talking. I start getting a little frustrated, but I still manage to smile when I get to the desk. I finally get my boarding pass, but I’m still standby, so I’m not out of the woods yet.
I go to Gate 37 for my 1:40 flight. A couple of minutes after I sit, ready to enjoy my coffee and raspberry croissant, they announce the flight has been changed to Gate 41 and 2PM. Finally, after a few more minutes of waiting, a seat assignment – 1C! That’s right, I’m in the front row, first class, baby! See you in Atlanta. Or Orlando. Au revoir!

Up next – Final Thoughts on the European Adventure

Back from Hiatus

A little less than six months ago, an idea was born. I was about to celebrate my 43rd birthday, and I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone, to step out of my box, and to embrace new experiences. During the first six months, I got quite a few experiences. I tried out for several shows, and actually was on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” I got to spend a week in New York as a tourist. I got to see myself on national television. I tried new food, although that one did not go so well. I took a painting class. In short, I would say the first six months of JOOTB were quite successful, and if my life were a TV show, we would just now be done with the winter hiatus and moving into the second half of the season. Now that I have a little “funding”, the experiences should be more frequent and hopefully more ratings-worthy. Some of the things I’m hoping to accomplish include: traveling to a foreign country, learning to swim, and taking cooking, dancing, and photography classes. (not all at the same time-although that would make for quite an interesting class…) Between moving, working, and studying, I haven’t given myself any time for new experiences lately. That will soon change. By the end of this month, I will have finished packing and moving (yet again!) and will be comfortably settled for the foreseeable future. And in just five weeks, I will be graduating with a Bachelors degree, which will free up a huge chunk of my time. But I’m not waiting. The out-of-the-box experiences will begin anew as of tomorrow.
Starting tomorrow, I will be taking kickboxing classes, three times a week, at six in the morning. For those who know me and know how much I LOVE my sleep, this is extremely out of the box. I found a personal trainer who will hopefully be able to get me on the right track as far as getting fit and losing weight goes. Some of the things I would like to experience require a smaller me. For instance, skydiving and horseback riding. I’ve let myself go for too long, and it’s time to reclaim myself, body, mind and soul.
Speaking of soul, one piece of unfinished business from the first half of the “season” is my thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit. I left off with my old blog on goodness, and I have not been able to get back to that. I will finish those soon, as well.
So, to recap, JOOTB is back, with – More Action! More Adventure! More Alliteration! So, step out of that box and join me, won’t you?

Happy New Year!!

So, here we are at the end of another year and the beginning of a new one. A blank canvas to start fresh on. But before moving forward, it never hurts to look back to where you’ve been. 2011 was a year of ups and downs, happiness and sadness, triumphs and tribulations. (but isn’t every year?)
The beginning of the year started out with me saying goodbye to the place my wife and I called home for a little less than a year before the Lord called her to her eternal home. That was probably one of the toughest moves I had to make, knowing that where I would be moving, I would be alone. To add to the solitude, I found a place with no neighbors nearby, and for several months, my life was a robotic existence of work, school, television and sleep. I can admit it now, but I couldn’t admit at the time, that I was a little mad at God for taking Heather away and leaving me alone. I distanced myself from my church, because every time I went there, all it did was make me sad because Heather was no longer sitting next to me. I even took a step back from family and friends for a while. And so my life was, day after day after day…
The first ray of sunlight this year came at the end of April. One Saturday, I just woke up and decided I was going to drive down to Sanibel Island. I had recently purchased a professional digital camera and wanted to take it for an inaugural run. It was a beautiful, magical day. I got to go through a wildlife preserve and see some animals, and I got to pick up shells along the beach while I watched a beautiful sunset. Thus began my climb back out of the valley.

In May, my best friend, Rob, invited me to Pompano Beach for a week. We had a blast down there. We even managed to spend a day in Key West. I managed to get some great photos there as well.

The next few months, I started really enjoying life again, but the real change started on my birthday week. Those of you who have followed my blog know about the “Millionaire” tryouts and success, as well as the tryouts for Biggest Loser and The Voice, which were not as successful. You are also aware of the birth of Jax out of the Box, and my attempt to do more things out of the ordinary for me.
The end of the year, though, saw life head back toward the valley. I had to step away from a couple of long friendships, each for different reasons, and whether those friendships will be mended in the new year remains to be seen. As Thanksgiving and Christmas drew nearer, I felt, once again, the bitter reality of being alone. I also was blessed with the music from a Gospel choir at Disney World(!) through the holidays.
I spent a wonderful Christmas with family and friends, then spent a few days afterwards down in the valley again. Today, like last year, I once again face the prospect of seeing a new year alone. But it’s okay, because I’m not really alone. I have friends and family who love me, and most importantly, I have a Father above who loves and treasures me and wants only the best for me. So, I know this coming year is going to be amazing. I get my check from “Millionaire” sometime in the next couple of weeks. Then I can pay off some bills. I will be moving again, but this time I’m moving in to my mom’s house. That way, I can help her financially, and I won’t have to worry about my place and my things when I’m traveling. Because, this year, I WILL be traveling. I haven’t decided if it will be to Europe, Asia, or South America yet, but it will happen. And there are other out of the box experiences I’m hoping to follow through on this year – swimming lessons, scuba diving, skydiving, horseback riding, the Renaissance Fair (every year I say I’m going to go!), volunteer work, maybe another game show?
Looking back on 2011, I can honestly say I’m coming out of it in better shape than I went into it. And my hope is that I will be able to say the same about 2012 a year from now. And I hope all of you, my dear readers, also can say the same. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed, New Year’s day, and all the days following as well.

Let There be Light!

Today I got to go to a Photoshop training seminar called Light It Shoot It Retouch It Live! At the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. It was a full day’s experience – very helpful and well worth the time and money.

The seminar focused on the steps a photographer could take from beginning to end in his photo shoot. Scott Kelby, who was the one teaching, would light the set, take the pictures and retouch them, all live. What I really enjoyed about it was that there was a companion workbook we were given that contained all that Scott was teaching, making sure that, if we forgot anything, we could look it up. Best part of the day was actually being able to talk to Scott Kelby and ask him a question.

Worst part of the day was lunch. I stood in line for a half hour in order to pay ten dollars for a hot dog and drink. And it wasn’t even a very good hot dog.

All in all, though, it was a good experience and I’ve already been able to put some of what I’ve learned into practice.