Nov 3 
Mexico: The Adventure Begins

          Steve stared out at the clouds from the window of the 728.  Clouds--one of his favorite things.  On the ground the shapes mesmerized him, their billowy forms firing his imagination so that this one took the guise of a dragon with wispy claws and an undulating shape, and that one an intergalactic star cruiser in a steep bank.  But up here among them, they became a fairly land of wispy mountains and rolling fields, where ethereal bridges joined phantom mesas and airy buttes. 
          He heard Pen laugh in the seat beside him, and suddenly she was elbowing him. “Hey, you’re missing this,” she accused. 
          “Sorry hun, but I think I’ve filled my quota of chick flicks for the month.”  He blocked another elbow to the ribs and grinned at her. “Too slow.” He shifted in his seat again. 
          “Could I get you a pillow or something?” the Flight Attendant asked, noticing him fidget. 
          “Nah, he’s all right,” Pen waived her off. “He’s just antsy because he has to wait for the plane to land before he can get off like everyone else.” 
          Steve laughed at the perplexed look on the Flight Attendant’s face as she continued on down the aisle. “Fifty-five thousand feet.  That’d make a nice HALO jump,” he confided in Pen. 
          “I’m sure it would, but you’re not sticking me with the luggage when the flight lands.” 
          He shrugged. “Maybe not, but if Stella doesn’t figure out where she left her groove soon, I’m going to jump off this plane and help her find it--HALO gear or not!” 
          He looked out the window again as Pen lost herself in the movie once more.  A HALO jump into Mexico, he thought.  It couldn’t be any worse than the ones into Baghdad, or Sarajevo.  Or the countless other cities.  Funny, he’d been all over the world and he’d never really seen anything.  Cities never looked the same at night, and it’s not like he was exactly catching all the trendy hot spots either.  Search and Destroy missions, Recon--the powers that be weren’t interested in museums or art galleries, and SAM sites and Radar installations looked the same no matter what country you were in. 
          He put his arm around Pen and hugged her close, and she snuggled in without really paying much attention, still lost in the movie.  She had been a godsend.  She had brought him down to earth and anchored him in reality.
          Shadows in a dream.  It all kept coming back to that.   It was so easy to get lost--to lose yourself when your reality was constantly shifting with the environment. What was real at home was little more than a dream in the field, and the reverse was never more true.   Have you ever danced with a Shadow? Hell yes! he thought.  And I got to lead, too
          Just then the pilot came over the intercom, announcing that they’d be landing soon.  
          "Hold on tight, dear,” Pen said, patting Steve’s hand. “This should be a first for you - you know, landing and all.” 
          This time it was his turn to stick his tongue out at her... 

           See ya all in a week!!! 

Nov 15 
          Buenas noches mes amigos.  Commo esta usted?  Mexico was fantastic.  I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation.  Great weather, great scenery, and great company. I even got to climb the temple at Chichen Itza.  (Apparently Chichen Itza is ancient Myan for “ThighMaster.”  The least they could have done is put a coke machine at the top.)  
          Oh yeah, quick question: 
          You’re on vacation in Mexico, lying on the bed in your hotel room, and your wife picks your dirty socks up from the floor and says, “What do I look like, your maid?” 
          The correct answer is:
         A.  Of course not dear.  Here, let me get those for you.
         B.  Heck, no.  The maid is this little Mexican woman.  You don't look anything like her. 
         Hmm.  That’s what I thought. 

 Nov 16 
           We were visiting this little cantina in Mexico where the natives performed one of their traditional dances.  To the untrained eye, it looked like tap-dancing with the added difficulty of balancing a full beer bottle on your head if you were male, and a tray of empty glasses if you were female.  (I'm sure to all you freudians this has all sorts of sexual connotations.)  I couldn't help but think that this particular dance came about one night when a drunken gringo picked on some poor farmer, placing the bottles on their heads and forcing them to dance by shooting at their feet just like in all those old spaghetti westerns.  
          No matter, what really bothered me was the fact that these people were descendants of a culture so advanced that they had developed accurate astronomy and acoustic science while we were still beating each other with clubs.  Now they're reduced to dancing with bottles on their heads for tips. 

Nov 19 
          I haven’t written a word in over two weeks now.  I may not write anything for another two, if at all.  The truth of the matter is, I just don’t care anymore.  Other than my wife and kids, there seems to be very little I take pleasure in anymore.  Nothing much sounds like fun.  Oh sure, there’s that little South American country I could invade, but even that gets tiring after awhile. 
          You have no idea just how dangerous apathy can be.  When you don’t give a damn, it’s just too easy to tell your boss exactly what you think of him, or let your girlfriend know that yes, those pants really do make her look fat. 
          Hey, all you people reading this .  You’d let me know if I was going crazy, right?  Most of you have been following this journal for a while now, and if these ramblings showed I was progressively going off the deep end, you’d tell me, wouldn’t you?  Of course, I didn’t exactly give you a firm bench bark as a basis to start from, did I?  Maybe you could all take a vote.  Just leave Florida out of it. 

Nov 20 
          I received two rejection letters in the mail this morning.  Gee, thanks.  I feel much better now.  What next?  Mom calls and tells me she really always did like James best?  I can't join in any reindeer games?  I get voted off the island?  You know you're having a streak of bad luck when the only good luck you can claim is the fact that nothing really bad has happened for a while. 

Nov 22 
          Have you ever been to Medievel Times?  It's like dinner theater with jousting knights and stuff.  Well Mexico has the same sort of deal called Captain Hooks.  You get on a pirate ship and it sets sail while the crew puts on a show with lots of audience participation.  They take a break for a bit to serve a great meal, and then you're attacked by another pirate ship.   There's cannons roaring, pirates in the rigging, and lots of dueling.  I highly recommend it. 
          Of course, as we were setting sail, my warped and suspicious mind wondered if maybe it was all just a plot by the mexicans to get even.  Yep, once they get you aboard they sail you across the bay to Cancun and sell you off as slave labour.  The next thing you know your sewing blue jeans in some sweat shop for Kathy Lee Gifford. 
          On the writing front, I still haven't writtten anything, and to be honest I can't say as that bothers me much at the moment.  Of course, it's not like I've actually had time to write lately. 

Nov 25 
          Who am I?  What am I?  Am I simply the sum total of my memories and experiences, my morals and ethics?  The person that I am now is vastly different than the person I was twenty years ago, and will no doubt be twenty years from now.  At what point in my life do I become me?  A sharp blow to the head, a sudden chemical change or traumatic experience, and I could wake up an entirely different man than I am now.  
          Most cultures believe in some sort of afterlife--a profound wish that something survives us after death.  Whether we believe we will be reincarnated, or go on to heaven or hell, if our identity--our personality--is merely a function of flesh, can we truly say that we continue to exist?  Your soul--your life essence, may survive death--but the person you believe yourself to be may not.  This may be the only point in time that you are who you want to be.  If you’re not, what’s holding you back?  The soul may live on for eternity, but this life is short; make the most of it.  

 Nov 27 
          Well, I broke down and actually wrote something today.  I guess it's a hard habit to break.  But I’m not going to submit it for publication.  (Stamps  foot and pouts.)  Wouldn’t that be a novel approach?  Dear Editors, Here is  my new short story, but you can’t have it.  Nah, Nah, Nah-Nah, Nah.  Then they’d get all indignant and demand I let them publish it.  Maybe even beg. 
          “Dear Mr. Perry.  Please, please let us publish your short story.  We’ll pay you twenty--no, thirty cents a word.”  And of course I’d say I’d have to think about it, and make them apologise for all the times they rejected my stuff with form letters, and made me wait months to hear back from them. 
          Hey, it's not any worse than that Self Addressed Stamped Rejecion letter idea I had.  You people did say you’d let me know if I was going nuts, didn’t you?  

Nov 28 
          I finished a new short story today.  It only took me two days to write it.  I should not write more often.  Now all I have to do is find a market for it.  I've already got five short stories circulating out there right now.  Maybe this will be lucky number six.  (There's got to be a religion or cult or something somewhere that considers six a lucky number.  Just point me at 'em.)  Of course, I still haven't come up with a title for it.  Maybe I should call it "Lucky Number Six."  Okay, that's pushing it. 

Nov 29 
          There’s the way things should be, and then there’s the way things are.  Things will never be the way they should be as long as people keep saying that’s just the way things are.  If everyone got together and ensured that things were the way the should be, then eventually the way things are would be the way they should be.  Of course, that will never happen.  That’s just the way things are.