wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.

Escapes

Sep. 18th, 2013 02:51 pm
wwcitizen: (Rollercoaster Red)
There are many different times in my day or week when all that comes to mind is the strong desire to escape. Somewhere else or some other time draws me into daydreams and longings for being and experiencing something other than the present.

It’s critical to be present and live in the moment as much as possible. It’s those present moments that create the future daydreams and nostalgia, longings and memories of other times, happier or more interesting places, and people.

This escape is nothing specific to me right now or necessarily a reaction to anything going on right now, except that I’d MUCH rather be anything else than sitting at a desk.  I’d rather be out hiking, watching nature do its thing, walking around a lake in upstate NY or down a street in Boston, or sitting in a train in Europe heading someplace I’ve not visited before.  Perhaps it's the ensuing change of seasons that makes me dream.

But, my sitting at my desk right now is a moment that needs to take place in order for those other, better moments to happen and more interesting places or times to be. My present work day will allow me, for instance, to visit another place that Monet painted or where a Vivaldi violin concerto was first enjoyed. Putting in my time now will result in time off and freedom from corporate bounds for a little while.

Would that I were a business traveler again. I used to LOVE to travel for work. It was exciting to visit and discover new places or get to know a particular place far away from home. I loved having special places in other towns that I discovered and would visit when I was “in town” for a business trip.
Most if not all the places I used to frequent for dinner, lunch, drinks, or over-nighting in Brno, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Ljubljana, and even Vienna, Linz, or Salzburg – work trips – are most likely gone and part of history. The same is probably true in Leipzig, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, and Winston-Salem.
Having visited Ephesus and many ruins in Greece, Germany, and Italy, I often wonder how many cities I've visited in my lifetime will be relics and ruins of my time five or ten centuries from now. How will the earth’s surface or climate change that defines the future earth?

For those people who painted pictures in their kitchen in 300 BC, what did they daydream about? Did they ever want to escape and see or do something different than they were doing?  I wonder how many kids or artists with whimsy wrote their names on the inside of tiles before placing the tiles in a mosaic in their houses, like I used to do when I helped my dad build rooms or fix a wall. 

All over the place from Singapore to Kaua’I, Hawaii, I've planted my initials somewhere, all the while thinking, “Who will find this? What will they think? Will they look up my name and try to find out anything about me? What else will I leave behind that they will be able to find?”

It seems part of human nature to want to leave some kind of stamp on the world for future humanity. Is that all humans or a select few? It’s a select few whose existence echoes through the centuries – like Homer. Of course, not the “Homer” of Springfield, but will Matt Groening’s work survive the centuries?  Will school kids in AD2357 watch those shows in awe of “the way things were”?  Or will Space Balls inordinately be the societal ruler by which our generation’s Weltanschauung will be measured?

See?  All I wanna do is escape and be elsewhere doing something else, but simultaneously leave my mark somehow, somewhere, someway.
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)
Today is the 9th anniversary of the first day Matthew and I met in person. I cannot believe we've been together for 9 years. At times, it feels like 6 months, but then I see my pictures folder and Picasa to find how we've chronicled our time together - so efficiently - except for the first year. Neither of us had a digital camera till about a year later, I think.

I will never forget parking my car in New Brunswick in front of my bank and seeing him standing outside Old Man Rafferty's on that Saturday. He was wearing a leather sports coat and jeans. His foot was propped up against the wall and he was looking toward my car with his hands in his pockets. My heart fluttered and butterflies were flapping around in my tummy. I remember thinking, "That's got to be him. OH MY GOODNESS, he's so much more handsome in person!"  (We had exchanged pictures, of course, and web cammed a couple of times during the week leading up to that Saturday.)

I went to the bank to get some cash for lunch and almost tripped onto the sidewalk because I couldn't stop looking at him from afar.  I walked down the street and couldn't stop smiling; I felt like a dork. His face lit up as I got closer and we shook hands. Frankly, I wanted to jump him right then and there. But, I waited... patiently. 

When we sat down to have lunch, I could not stop looking at his hands and face and shoulders. I don't remember the shirt he was wearing because I was so fixated on how beautifully handsome he was.  And he still is.  His laugh and smile are infectious.

Here's looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Needles in hay stacks, we were, but I've found my soul mate, who's become my best friend and partner over the course of 9 amazing years. Never thought it would be possible that I would find this man who wants to be around me and knows me so absolutely well - better than I know myself. And, I often ask myself and him, "Why the hell do you and can you put up with me?!" It's because he's a saint and I love him to death.

Happy anniversary, my love. You bring me so much joy, laughter, and love.
wwcitizen: (OMG-HUH?)
Matthew was just reading to me an article about Matt Lucas (from Little Britain) he found about Lucas starring in the new Tim Burton take on Alice in Wonderland as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Fantastic casting in my book - FANTASTIC; seriously, WHO could do a better job in that role that Matt Lucas???

Then I went looking for Alice in Wonderland on Facebook, just to see what would pop up and started thinking, "Why does this look so familiar? When was I looking this up before?" My hands gripped the table and my jaw dropped as I quickly realized that I had dreamt earlier this morning (meanwhile having forgotten the dream till THIS moment) of waking up, clapping my hands, and exclaiming, "I wanna see Alice in Wonderland! I wanna see Alice in Wonderland! I wanna see Alice in Wonderland!"

As deeply disturbing as that scene is, Matt's comment was, "WOW! Way to have a premonition dream, babe. AND USELESS!! How about pulling up some lottery numbers next time, why doncha?!!"

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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