Monday, July 25, 2011

And the summer of 2011 draws to a close.

Good evening!

Well, the summer of 2011 is winding down now. I turned 29, and I wonder how it will be next summer when I'm at the ripe old age of 30. I just can't imagine it. Many of my old summer friends still return to the shore for their annual visits. It was great to see them. I wouldn't be Jeff Surfer Kid if I didn't take my plank to the beach, which I did. I was a little rusty, but that was short-lived. I did some flying in a rental, and I saw much of the old airport gang. I rested, too. I managed to sleep-in a few times. Hell, I even slept past 6:00 a.m. a few days. I got to see Keith a few times. We had a lot of catching up to do, but it was just like old times. He's the same Keith with the same laugh and the same sick jokes. Steven has taken some time off from school and is working part time in a computer outlet store. He is so grown up, but his reaction to seeing me was just as it was when he was a shy 14 year-old. He made sure to tell me that he still loves me. That means so much to me. I did so much, yet I still had a lot of down time.

Sandy and Michael left after a stay that was filled with a lot of fun and memories. Michael will be spending a little time in Phoenix to visit his dad, and then he'll be back at work. I tried to get him to make a blog entry while he was here, but he was too engrossed with everything else. Mom plans to go to California sometime in the fall, and Devin has promised to make a return visit during the year. As for Dad and me, well, Dad's too busy trying to make a dollar out of 75 cents for his clients, and I just won't get the time off to head out there, as much as I'd love to. But then again, we never really know what the future has in store for us, do we?

I just returned from our annual Walt Disney World vacation. This was, believe it or not, our 7th trip to Disney World. (I've been there a few more. Shhhhhhhhhh) It was Devin, Caleb, Elijah and I one more time. If I had half a brain I would have logged our favorite attractions, HOWEVER, allow me to post my "Must Do" list. But first, one of the unspoken attractions at Walt Disney World is the TV loop, "Must Do Disney". It's on in every Disney Resort room, and we typically leave it on. Here it is.

In no particular order, here are some of our favorite attractions, those we feel we must do, simply out of tradition. OK, here we go.

The American Adventure at Epcot. Enjoy a trip through the history of America. It starts out with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain discussing the history of our country. We're taken through the modern age, narrated by brilliance of audioanimatronics. Even the horse looks real. (You have to see it for yourself.) It's definitely a must do, and it always brings a tear to my eyes at the end. The ending theme is "America, Spread Your Golden Wings".

Soarin' at Epcot. It was originally billed as "Soarin Over California", but it was such a success that it was built in Florida. You're seated in a special hang glider, although nobody is hanging. You even get to smell the orange groves, the salty sea air and the pine forests. And that last aerial bomb rocks the glider!

Mission Space at Epcot. Don't do the sissy version. Go for the gusto with all the G's. It's a little lame, but the visual and sensory effects are great! Do it!

And while I'm at Epcot, take your time. Are ya hungry? How about a margarita in Mexico? Fish and chips in England are a must! How about a margarita in Italy? Perhaps a pastry in France pour vous, monsieur? Sushi? Yum! Stop in China for an egg roll and, if you haven't had too many margaritas, some Chinese beer. Maybe you'd like bratwurst? BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, don't pass by the soft pretzels. And don't forget the mustard. Ice cream? Just turn right after you enter Epcot. Chocolate chip mint is my favorite. I get a double scoop cone. It comes with a cup because the scoops are the size of grapefruits.

OK OK, let's blow this joint. Magic Kingdom? Head for the Carousel of Progress. Gotta do it! Do Splash Mountain. Do them all. Get a Fast Pass for the rides you don't feel like waiting for.

What about Animal Kingdom? Did you get a Park Hopper? We did. Hey, it's only once a year. Caleb and Elijah got a little assistance with the $52 / day Park Hopper option. A rip off? Oh yeah, but you can't beat the quality and customer care that Disney provides. Check out the Yeti or do the safari. It's the same every year. "Poachers, mon, in da park!"

Let's move on the Disney's Hollywood Studios. Tower of Terror is the first thing we do. It's usually the second and third thing, too. Speaking of noisy and fast, we love the Aerosmith Rock'n Roller Coaster. We know where the cameras are, just as we launch up the incline, so we make silly grins and give the thumbs up. Or we look like we're about to throw up. We wouldn't pay the price for these crazy pictures, but they sure make the other people laugh.

I didn't give the proper credit and details to all of the attractions we enjoyed. Hell, we do it every year. We've got it down to a science. I didn't even mention all the great places to eat. Oh yeah! Get the nachos in Mexico. Oh man! And don't forget the margarita -- 3 colors. Do it!

Having a timeshare at Disney World makes all the difference. Parking is included with my annual pass, but we can go to one of the resorts (Port Orleans French Quarter) for ben yays (how DO you spell it?) in the morning. We're cheap bastards, and we have last year's mugs so we get free coffee and hot chocolate. But using my aunt and uncle's timeshare has saved us a lot of money, and we are guaranteed at least a 2 bedroom. They have several hundred thousand points to use up, so they give us some. The master bedroom had a jaccuzi. Guess who slept there. I had to share the king bed with Devin. The second bedroom had two queens. Did I mention that we got a free upgrade to a Presidential Suite? We're talking kitchen, bar, wide screen HDTV IN ALL ROOMS. And a balcony, where we can sit and watch Disney from afar on the 14th floor, while sipping the drink de jour. As Elijah summed it up: "Life ain't a bitch right now!"

I'd say that Epcot is our favorite, as you can tell by all I said. Hollywood Studios is our second, and Magic Kingdom is our third. But, we all agree that if it's your first time, the Magic Kingdom is the place to start the magic.

My summer of 2011 has been most enjoyable, and as always, the climax is our Disney World trip. It was 7 years ago when we first drove under the "Walt Disney World" sign, and our eyes suddenly sparkled in amazement. Seven years ago we fumbled our way around the theme parks. I can still see an unabashed Caleb crying openly in the elevator on the way down as we were leaving. A much younger Elijah can now order a drink, and is much more a man than he was 7 years ago. As for Devin and me, well, I guess we've grown, too. But let me tell ya, you don't stop feeling the same way when you arrive at Disney World. You don't. The feeling is still there. That magic becomes a part of it all. Oh, sure, by 1:00 in the afternoon the park echoes with the sounds of tantrums and crying kids, but after all, it's overwhelming. I think we know our way around now. We were sad to leave, but we know we're going back. We have the place reserved for next year at a discounted (points) rate, thanks to a joint deal between my aunt and the timeshare. And frequent visitors to WDW will always give you good advice on ways to save a few dollars during your stay. I think we did very well. And just think. We'll be back there in about 51 weeks. It's right around the corner, isn't it!

I rushed through this, but I wanted to post something before it all faded from my memory. This will be posted in both places.

I don't think I'll be posting another blog entry before returning home. It's always great to get back to my hometown, to Mom's cooking and my old bed, but my new bed, a king Euro plush, in Florida is right nice. A new year of teaching awaits, and with it come challenges -- and maybe a few stories.

Mom and Dad are on a cruise, but once they're home I'll be leaving. I've already packed away the surfboards, and I'm gathering my stuff for the ride home. My Piece of the Beach is once again just another spot along the beach, until next time.

Enjoy the rest of your summer as mine draws to a close. I hope you'll have as many wonderful memories as I have. And on that note, I'll simply say --

Have a great evening, everybody!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Lifetime of Birthdays

Good morning.

Posted simomanesouly in Blogger and MyDisgrace. LOL Tom(CA). Yes, Bret, it is a torture chamber.

As I look back over the years of posting entries in my blog on this date, I can't help but think of all the people I've known -- summer-types, who vacation with their families during this week every summer. I have many wonderful memories of some wonderful people. I've known kids who are now adults, and with whom I still stay in touch.

Michael and his mom are here. I'm in my old bed, which feels not only strange, but quite small. Devin is in his old bed. I had forgotten the sounds of the night. I had forgotten the involuntary farting, snorting, talking and other sounds that indicate that my brother thinks I'm asleep. Some things never change. Michael has taken the sleeper, and he sleeps so soundly, I wouldn't even know he's here. I'm happy to say that I'm back in that old familiar mode of enjoying my summers at my childhood home at the Jersey shore, and being on what is once again "My Piece of the Beach".

Since I've been here I've seen Scott, who always asks if I still have his hand-made surfboard key holder. I have it, and it's right by the door into the garage at home. I find myself seeing so many familiar faces, but the names are now escaping me. I get waves and smiles, but we've all grown up. I got stopped by a woman who apparently knows me, but I didn't remember her name. I told her what I'm doing and where I'm living, and she said she'd tell the "kids" that she saw me. I was too embarrassed to ask her name.

When Michael got here I told him I messed something up when "we" set up his blog account. As I recall, I said, "I don't know. I fucked something up. Now I can't comment on your blog."

He nearly choked on his soda, spitting part of it into my face. Yep, same ol' Mikey!

I should make note of the fact that Michael (who I still call "Mikey), is nearly finished with his Master's, and is going to be instrumental in not only teaching, but counseling recovering teens. Way to go! He's come so far. He's hardly the little Mikey we used to run around chasing as a little kid. Oh BS. Yes he is!

So today I'm 29. One year from today I'll be 30. Where has the time gone? Life changes people. I've changed. I'm in an environment where I have to act and think a certain way. I find that I have to decompress or rehabilitate when I'm here. It doesn't take long. But if I can look back at some of my blog entries from this date in prior years, my priorities have certainly changed.

On my 18th birthday it was all about surfing and summer friends. I've taken out my board twice since I've been here. I can still surf, but the faces are all new. The hot dogs are still hot dogging, running over each other, and trying to show off for the scantily clad girl on the beach. And as I once said, I come along with my 10' 8" longboard, barreling my way toward the beach like a Lincoln Fornicator, turning heads. One kid told me to get out. I laughed at him. The perfect response is always "I live here!"

Yeah, the Jersey attitude has become more obvious with every return visit home. Everybody claims their own piece of the beach, and there's always an imaginary boundary around towels, chairs and even people in the water. I've seen it for too many years. It's no different in the summer rentals. The people come down with the "It's not my house, so fuck it"" attitude. I watched as one guy kept jabbing a knife in the wooden porch support beam, and then began to whittle away at the wood. I've seen kids walk inside with wet, sandy bathing suits and beach toys, leaving the gritty, moldy residue for the next poor suckers who'll be paying $2000 for one precious week at the Jersey shore. They blow up the gas grills, cremate their dinners, break windows, toss garbage, urinate on the floors, smear filth on the walls, and they walk away as if it never happened. And people wonder why our house is always so clean. Well, duh! It's called RULES! I know I've mentioned an old photo of a bunch of kids sitting around our table with a huge container of peanut butter and equally huge bottle of jelly. We drank sugary fruit drinks and ate PBJ sandwiches. If we were good, we had potato chips -- and sometimes an ice cream sandwich. But each kid was sitting on a towel, and each kid went under the shower to get rid of the sand and the salt. RULES!

We no longer have that same dining set, although it did go to a needy family somewhere locally. We have a great deck, where we can sit, drink beer, eat, smoke, and fart and scratch freely. And yes, the shower is still outside. I can still see my youngest cousins (Ian and Phil) peeking their heads out the door, and then running naked into the house. And if there were any women around, they did the classic modesty hand cover-up. OK. You got the "N" word. But that's how it is at the shore.

So why am I so nostalgic today? I guess I can think of what I was doing on my birthday pretty much any given year, although the exact years are now starting to run together. My 18th birthday was really my only surprise, when Jimmy came to be part of our Final Countdown party. I got surprised, but in looking back, the anticipation would have been just as much fun as being surprised. My 18th birthday was probably one I remember the most. I had graduated high school and I was looking forward to college years. I was 18; I was an adult (or so I thought at the time).

I know it was always around my birthday when Michael and Sandy came for their bi-annual visit. Now it's every year, and we're happy about that. Mom has been out there, too. I know, I know. I have to go out there. It's always a good time when they're here, and this year will be no exception.

So today has been a nice day. It's good to be back, and it always goes by so fast. Disney World is on the horizon, but for now, I'm enjoying being King Shit.

I hope your day was a good one even if it's not one you'll remember 10 years from now.

Have a great evening.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Can somebody help me out here?

I am trying to comment on Michael's blog entry, only I have to sign into another service. None of my ID's work. What happened to this? I thought all I had to do was log in, and that was it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!