7 Hours to Live

Today was going to be my day. And life or fate or destiny or whatever anthropomorphized summation of existence wasn't going to give it to me - so I carpe'd it, myself.

Started it off with a hair-cut. "La-dee-fucking-da", right? But I have to say, I do look pretty shmexy (not a typo). For a while now, I've been waking up with my head looking like Wolverine from the X-Men's bed hair. And there's something about a simple lowering of the ears that makes me feel like a new men. Shmexy. So very shmexy.
I only trust one guy to cut my hair. Call it habit, but I like to call it loyalty - or something like it. Joe. Joe's pretty old too. 60-something year old guy with an Italian accent. Was he born here in New York? Or did he come out here? I should ask him. I wonder where I'll go to next once he's done cutting hair. A little dark, but what about when he dies. Will I know? Will I go to his funeral. Yea, I would. The guy has been cutting my hair since I started thinking about how girls see me. In his own way, he's seen me grow up. Years of thoughts of junior high school, of high school, of college, of the real world, fueling the follicles of my scalp to feed new hair to grow - and there he was chopping off the old points of pondering. Yea, I'll see this guy to the end.

On my way out of the mall (which I only go to for two reasons: bills and hair-cuts), I ran into a couple of old friends. James, Sabrina, and Phil. We used to be parts of a bigger posse back in high school. I haven't seen these guys - er, and gal, in five years. Five years! And here they were In Macy's. Helping Phil buy a watch. Where the hell have these people been? For five years?!
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best at keeping in touch. In fact, I remember leaving high school like it was a dream and waking up in college. Back then, part of me was afraid that I wouldn't find another group of friends like them - I wouldn't be another prince in the posse. But I did.
People change. A couple of summers ago, I went up to Boston for a friend's funeral. A friend picked me up from the station and said how it felt like I had been through three lifetimes just to make it back to Boston. At the time, I hadn't seen that guy in three years. I changed. But here I stood with my old high school buddies - and James, on of my closest friends in high school. Not seeing any of them for half a decade. And we stood there, laughing and joking, barely wasting time with small-talk. It felt good re-living the past. It was like jumping into a photo album. I noticed I even moved a jumped around like I was 17 years-old again. A thought raced through my mind as I left:
I went away for five years. They stayed right here. They haven't changed. I've changed. Can I even be with these people anymore? An elitist notion that I beat out of my head.
Note to self: Call them up, and actually do something sometime.

Paid a bill at Circuit City. $10 minimum, and no more money due on the balance. Some day , my credit card bills will get there. In due time. No major thoughts raced through my head as I stood in line for customer service. No epiphanies. No grand waltz with thoughts in three-quarter time. Just paid a bill. Just a bill. For $10. Standing. I loath lines. I am possible the most impatient person when it comes to lines. Can't someone help me pay this thing off on another register? I know they can. Don't bullshit me and tell me can only do it at customer service. Girl behind the cashier. She looked familiar. Did we take a class together? Do we know the same people? Probably not. Just some girl in a red polo servicing customers.
"Thank you very much and have a good day." I said it. Not her.

Barnes and Noble. One of the big boys of books. I respect, and miss, those little mom and pop bookstores. They were intimate. They were charming. Barnes. And Noble. Charm me.
I went in to pick up a book that had held for me. And there she was behind the register. Black eye-liner. And short brown hair framing her light face. She was wearing an engagement ring. Damn. As the book was coming, I had to say something. Today was my day.
"For what it's worth, I really like your eye-liner." The words rehearsed in the awkward two seconds waiting for the book.
"Aww, thanks." She smiles.
I chuckle to myself. "I mean it! It kind of gives you this nouveau Audrey Hepburn feel."
She gasps, "That's exactly what I was going for. Aw, you just made my day. I love her."
"Me too. If I could be with any woman of all time, it would be 1960s Audrey Hepburn."
"She is beautiful. I was just looking at some of the dresses she wore. She is tiny. So cute. Like a Pixie, you know?"
"Marry me", I thought to myself.
The book comes down, and she rings me.
"Well, I'll see ya" She says.
"Thanks, Audrey."
She giggles. I wink as I turn to leave.
"Next customer please step down." Geez, I'm such a cheesy flirt.

It's cold. The sun is setting fast, and I wanted to get to the boardwalk down by the shore while I still had some sun in the sky to take some pictures. My Nikon FM10: aperture f/16, shutter speed 1/60 second. The wind is like a wall of ice. The sun was bowing out behind the curtain of March clouds. I should have come earlier. The sun would've kept me warm, and given me more lighting to work with. I walked down the boardwalk. Atlantic winds making me yearn for comforters of my bed. But I kept walking. I hadn't walked here in a while. I remembered walking on the sands with Christine, with the summer sun high in the sky. The little gazebo I sat under with Leigh Anne one night to shield us from the rain. I remembered a picture of me running around my dad when I was two or three-years old. But tonight it was my time.
And I walk. Humming bars of Brubeck. Of 'Trane. Of Miles. I reached the end and saw the arching lights of the Verrazano Bridge. I love that bridge. Every time I cross it, it feels like huge gates are welcoming me.
I light a cigarette. Marlboro lights. I've quit with success a couple times in the past. But sometimes it feels good to smoke, especially when it's cold. I take a deep pull and let out the blue air. The winds are harder now, almost ripping the cigarette right out of my mouth. This beach used to be full of people, a real popular beach resort. Until 1949, when a series of fires and pollution stripped the shores of its seaside glory. Tonight, it's my ashtray.

I never could find a place to sit down and open my book. I walked back to where I parked, and let the engine heat up. Pete Hamill's "Downtown: My Manhattan". I read the first chapter. He emphasized on nostalgia. Nostalgia. Unlike sentiment, which is usually, if not always, based on a lie; nostalgia, was based on the reality that something is lost. Nostalgia is the spirit of New York. Nostalgia is the spirit of my night. High school friends. Memories of college days. A summer in Japan. In the end Tuesday becomes Wednesday, and that Tuesday is lost forever. But as lost as they are in time and space, and as clichè as it sounds - there is truth in that I have them still in memory.
So I sat there, for a good forty-something minutes, reading on the Capital of Nostalgia.

Home. The house is dark as I've spent one of my lifetimes for myself. And I am famished. I chop up some garlic. Fry up some tomato paste. Splash of red wine. Spoon in some sugar. Simmer. Toss in a few meatballs from the oven. Pasta: au dente. All with Frank Capra's 1936 film "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town". And Voila! Reduced-Red Wine Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Remember macaroni and cheese? I loved macaroni and cheese.

After preparing two other dishes from my parents once they get home from work, I unwind with my dinner, a glass of red, and Steve Burrs' "Igby Goes Down". This movie has been on my to-watch list for a while, and tonight was - you guessed it, my night.
Throughout the movie Igby (who I remember as his brother's bed-wetting cousin 1o-something years ago), is just fucking around the whole movie. He's instilled with this bigger-than-life attitude in the high-society world he's presentedwith. Remembering the words his father uttered in the midst of his mental breakdown, Igby goes to whatever lengths are necessary to avoid that "pressure" from crushing him. Pressure. Under it. Avoiding it. The right amount can steer us to greater development. But too much can bring us to self-destruction.
Good movie. Just a good movie.

What a good day. My kind of day.
My friend Jack asked me, "What's the Occasion?"

"It's Tuesday."

With Broken Toes and Frosted Nose

Alright, so I haven't landed a business-business job. Experience is key out here - but I don't necessarily have that business experience under my belt. I'm beginning to think that maybe working out of a twenty-something floor of some building in midtown Manhattan isn't in the cards. Maybe it really isn't not for me.

This girl I know said something that I've been looping over and over in my head these days. She said something like, "When God shuts a door in my face, He opens up a box of cupcakes." Yeah, I know that isn't exactly how the phrase is supposed to go - but I like hers better. Besides, who doesn't like cupcakes?!

Business-business is that slammed door. EMT is my box of cupcakes.
And I'm here. I'm already an EMT. And I should move forward with what I know I love to do, right?
It's funny. Every time I hear a siren scream / wail / "doot-doot" by, it's like the ambulance is telling me to follow it: "Follow me - to where you're called to be."

Lately, I've been looking into working at Bellevue in Manhattan, some company in the upper west side, and another place in Brooklyn. Also, looking into working out of Downstate Medical. Plus, I'm still waiting to hear from the FDNY.
I want to work on a 911 ambulance (or "bus"). And I want to work in the really shitty neighborhoods, you know? Where all the bad stuff happens. Why? Because I have these skills that I want to use where it would do the most good. It'd be kind of a waste if I worked out in the posh neighborhoods, and the only calls I'd get would be shuttling old folks to and from clinics.

I'm here for excitement, and dammit I'm gonna get my share!
Now all I have to do is find a job...


Months of training. Night and day rotations. Test after test after test. Weeks of waiting - WAITING. They all culminate to this: six digits.
To do what I believe is good, To help people in their most vulnerable moments.

Today, I finally received my New York State Emergency Medical Technician Certificate.
Shield no. 357263

Alright. Let's do some good!