Have you ever contemplated what you would change or relive if given the opportunity to time travel? I remember this hilarious movie called “Hot Tub Time Machine” that gave some middle aged men that exact opportunity. They were allowed to reinvent themselves and take advantage of missed opportunities that took place during their youth. The movie was as far from reality as you could possibly imagine, but still made me contemplate my life and the decisions I made along the way.
If I had a Hot Tub Time Machine, would I be sitting here typing this blog or would I be flying in a helicopter somewhere. I remember being fascinated with helicopters as a child and wanted to fly a Huey like the ones used during the Vietnam era. Of course I was an underachiever during high school and chose a different path in life before I even realized the consequences of my actions. That dream went out the window like so many others to follow.
Life is funny; I hated school as a young adult and was more worried about girls and popularity. If I used a Hot Tub Time Machine and went back in time today, I would choose to be a be a book worm. I realize that no one and nothing really matters other than my education while in high school. I should have listened to my mother who told me that all good things will come in time and stop worrying about the unimportant things like fashion, cars, and etc. But, I went down the road like many others and I wish I could redo my entire high school and college career which came later in life.
Cryptocurrency has been a hobby/obsession of mine for a few years now and I always tell my wife, “Some guy is driving a Lambo in Miami right now because of Bitcoin.” I actually heard of Bitcoin when its price evaluation was about $300 a coin. I actually played around with attempting to build a mining rig one day and quickly lost interest after spending about 3 hours on a misguided project.
I did successfully build a mining rig, but this was after Bitcoin had reached all-time highs of $19,000. What if I was given a Hot Tube Time Machine, would I go back to 2013 and reinvent my future? I would be a millionaire right now and my life would be completely different. As I hope you already realize, money does not bring happiness, but it does make things a hell of a lot easier.
But at what cost would changes come. If I used my own little imaginary Hot Tub Time Machine, how many of my children would have been born. Would I have even met much less married my wife. And yes, I still enjoy her company usually, but have to be happily married and honest to understand that joke. There would be even more severe ramification to changing your past that you probably haven’t even thought of yet.
What about all the people I have come into contact with over the years? I am sure that changing the past would have changed the future for countless thousands of people, since everyone in the world is removed from each other by only 6 people. This is called Six Degrees of Separation and is worth a quick read. It is a quite interesting theory and makes a lot of since when you think about all the people you have come into contact with during your life.
There are many decisions that I made in the past that I wish I could change, but those changes would remove some results of those decisions that I quite enjoy. I feel it is essential that one must become a peace with the choices they have made throughout their life and focus on the future only. You cannot recreate the past for good reason, but the future is a completely different story.
Even right now as I am typing I have done something that will affect my future or others. You and I must realize that the clock is ticking and we must take advantage of the time given to us on this earth. We do not need a Hot Tub Time Machine to make us happy, we just need to make wise decisions today and we will be able to enjoy the results tomorrow.
Here I am soaring at an altitude of 10,000 feet creating a blog entry from my cellphone on the Samsung Notepad App. Not quite sure how this is going to work out, but I am just too excited not to share the events of today. My wife and I decided to surprise the children with a trip to Florida via flight. They were expecting to drive down, but this time things are different.
My parents retired about five years and moved to the sunny state of Florida. Up until today, we have driven cross country with children from Pennsylvania on the average of once every 6 months. My wife and I decided to change things up on this trip by flying to Florida in style with the family on Southwestern Airlines. We are also going to spend 7 days at Walt Disney World Resort after spending two days with my parents.
My wife has been extremely excited about this Walt Disney World Resort vacation because I presented it to her as a well deserved gift. She has had an undying passion for the Walt Disney World ever since I met her 16 years. I must admit I used to love going to Walt Disney World equally as much as her, but have soured towards the theme park over the years due to inflated cost.
After much deliberation, my wife decided to have a scavenger hunt around the house where the children found various clues. Eventually the clues led to a big cling wrap ball with candy and treats wrapped up in it at different layers. After some time, the kids reached the center after taking about 5 turns of 10 seconds each and found the luggage tags. They just threw them to the side and failed to read them. I looked over at my wife and she said ‘not yet’ to me, ‘there is more’.
At this point like a good husband, I got up and walked into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. The temptation to spill the beans was too great and I know myself. I got about halfway through my cup when I heard the children yell out that we were flying. It made sense to them then because we traditionally drove down overnight immediately once they arrived home from school and this was already the next day. The oldest was excited, the middle child was nervous, and the youngest is sick.
No family trip is complete with out one of the kids getting sick and almost ruining everything. She was a little soldier and persevered even though her stomach was aching with some type of virus. Thank God it wasn’t a full blown stomach virus with vomiting and bathroom runs every 10 minutes. We would have surely had to postpone the trip then.
The airport went as smoothly as possible with all the added security measures after 9/11. To be quite honest, the kids did a good job not being too excited and following every instruction given to the best of their ability. Once through the TSA checkpoint, we headed down the flight terminal and found a seat.
The youngest gave us a bit of a scare when she requested a drink. My wife brought her a Gatorade and she immediately said that she needed to throw up. My wife rushed her to the bathroom and all she did was use the facilities fortunately. We realize that we are blessed and the situation could have been much worst, if not disastrous.
Once it was time to board the plane, my wife’s research paid off. Even though we were registered as boarding group B, we were able to board as a family because the youngest was under 6 years old. We handed off the stroller and found seats directly across from each other.
As usual, the excitement of take off was infectious but suddenly died off to in-flight boredom not much different from a road trip. The sky turned from clear blue to being filled with clouds that looked like someone threw a bag of cotton balls in the air. The middle child who chose to sit with me asked what were the white things. With a brief chuckle I told her they were clouds.
So here we are soaring above Georgia heading to Florida to start our well deserved vacation. I sure hope things go off with out a hitch and we can surprise the kids on Tuesday morning when my wife tells them about Walt Disney World Resort Vacation.
I suffered the loss of a cousin last year due to a long struggle with Sickle Cell Anemia. This disease is extremely painful and usually fatal for those unfortunate enough to inherit its traits from their parents. My cousin spent all of her life struggling with this disease and she finally succumbed to its cruel ravages in her mid-twenties. She left behind a beautiful three year old little girl named Valerie that this story is centered around and the Grandparent Rights Law that made sure justice was served.
As you can imagine, the funeral was extremely sad and very crowded due to my cousins passing away at such a young age. Everyone’s primary concern was the fate of Valerie and who would take on the task of raising her. My aunt and uncle played an intrinsic part in raising Valerie due to her mother’s health problems and constant hospital stays. Since they were a main stay in raising Valerie, an agreement was made with them and the father that they would have bi weekly visitation rights. He presented himself as a confident educated young man with a good head on his shoulders. Since they only lived two blocks apart, you would think this would be an ideal situation for everyone involved. This agreement lasted for one month.
I remember visiting my aunt and Valerie on a beautiful spring day just 30 days after the funeral. My aunt explained to us that this was the first time that she has had Valerie since the funeral which confused the hell out of me. She then explained that the sperm donor / father of Valerie was not cooperating with her concerning visitation and she feared that she may need to contact a lawyer concerning Grandparents Rights. I remember seeing the stress and sadness in my aunt’s face and I felt powerless in helping her.
That was the last time my aunt saw Valerie. Their calls and text messages were ignored and the father severed all ties with them. The child that her and my uncle co-raised with my cousin was taken from them by a man who only spent bare minimum time with Valerie and had little to no concern of her well-being up until the funeral. This threw my aunt and uncle into a sprawling depressed state and set the stage for the battle of their lives. They knew the only way they would ever see Valerie again was to get a lawyer and attempt to invoke grandparent’s rights.
After retaining a lawyer and going through all the necessary legal steps, they were scheduled for a court appearance in December which was rescheduled due to the father being a no show. The hearing was then scheduled for late January which meant that my aunt had not seen Valerie since last April. Not only was she grieving the loss of her daughter, but the unnecessary loss of her grandchild.
My aunt informed me of the court date and I offered to attend the hearing if she liked for emotional support. She busted out in tears and thanked me in a way that made my heart drop to the floor. She requested that we bring any family pictures of Valerie that we could because they needed as much proof and family support as possible. I remembered that we had some pictures from the spring that were the most recent so I made sure this task was accomplished.
So here we were, the big day. I arrived at the courthouse dressed in jeans and a sweater because I only planned to be there for support. Once I went through all the annoying safety scanning procedures which I do believe is necessary these days, I gained access to the court house. I quickly found my aunt with quite a few family members, friends, pastor and lawyer. It was about twelve us in all who had taken off work to attend the hearing. At this point, we all stood around waiting for about an hour to enter the courtroom.
While waiting, I saw my nephew talking to a deputy in a civilized but very direct manor. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I asked as soon as he walked back over. He stated that the deputy sitting behind the counter was Valerie’s father’s brother. I remember thinking are you bleeping kidding me and couldn’t believe the situation. In all the court rooms and all the cities, what’s the chance? In addition, he explained that the father has a warrant out for his arrest in an adjacent county and wanted to know why he wasn’t being arrested since he was standing right there in front of him. Since we were in a large city with a pretty serious crime problem, they basically gave a bunch of excuses and never took him into custody.
After about an hour, they called us into the court room and we all sat in our assigned area. To be honest, I was expecting a mediation setting, but this was the real deal with a judge and armed bailiffs. I knew then that if things worked out, the father would be forced to cooperate because he would be going against the word of a judge. I immediately noticed that the father only had his mother with him and no lawyer. He was dressed like he was about to go to a party or club, but not appropriately to be standing front of a judge with the fate of the child at risk. The judge noticed also and was just shy of irate when he heard the defendant’s explanation.
The father explained that he thought this going to be the usual custody mediation meeting that he has been through before for his other child and he didn’t need a lawyer. The judge then questioned if he read the documentation he received in the mail and how he could arrive to court without even checking into what exactly was to occur. He told the father he would allow the proceedings to continue and he realizes that he isn’t a lawyer, but he was not happy at all with the father appearing clearly unprepared with a thin little folder. My aunt on the other hand had boxes of evidence, a lawyer, and an obvious support structure.
The hearing proceeded with opening statements from the lawyer and father. The father did a poor job with the opening statement which was quite insulting. He stated that Valerie’s mother did not die from Sick Cell Anemia, but from pill popping. It is true that she accidentally overdosed on pain killers, but it is also common knowledge that this disease is extremely painful and debilitating. If I could have, I truly would have punched him dead in the face.
The first witness took the stand and the lawyer’s questions were typical. How long have you known them? What kind of grandparents where they? Could they provide, and so on. Then it was the fathers turn which was quite comical at best. He sat quietly thinking of a question. Eventually, the judge asked him did or didn’t he have a question. His question was, ”So do you think my parents aren’t qualified to care for Valerie.” The judge objected and I thought this guy is a real idiot. I figured he wouldn’t examine anyone else if he was smart, but guess what, four more failed attempts that just made him look worst.
The judge looked over at the lawyer and asked for the next witness, and the lawyer called my name. I looked up in shock because I was completely unprepared. I walked up to the podium and I was sworn in. The lawyer asked the typical questions and I explained how I came down to visit in April and that was the last time anyone was able to see Valerie. When it was the fathers turn to cross examine me, he sat there quietly again until it felt awkward. Then he said,” So you think it is okay to take a daughter from his father?” I looked over at him dead in his eyes and said,” No, I don’t think it is okay. But I also don’t think what has been done is okay either. Both parties should have worked things out and we should not be in this court room setting. “ I looked over and I saw his mother nodding her head in agreement with me.
The hearing proceeded with witness after witness and then the judge looking quite frustrated decided to break for lunch. When we returned it was my aunts turn. She did an excellent job testifying that was heart wrenching. She was crying and trying to explain she didn’t know what she did that could have upset him so much. She did ask Valerie questions, but they were all typical questions that a concerned grandparent would ask. Then she started flipping through one of three identical photo albums showing pictures of Valerie and family at various functions. Her tears were flowing and others around the room were soon to follow her tearful state. I noticed that the judge was intently following along with his album and the father just plucked it a way. A truly arrogant person he was and not too bright at all. He chose not to cross examine my aunt which was a good choice for once.
When my uncle took the stand, the father was quite eager to cross examine him. Apparently, he had asked for Valerie’s mother hand in marriage and my uncle told him no. This statement caused an argument between my cousin and my uncle and the police were called. My uncle did not deny this occurrence and stated,” Yes, I said no. You did not impress me then and you definitely have not impressed me now. “ It was all very clear to me then. He wanted to hurt my aunt and uncle for their disapproval of his life style and he used the only weapon that he had.
Eventually the judge asked the lawyer how many more witnesses out of frustration and he told him several. The judge adjourned the hearing because he had to see two more cases. While waiting outside the courtroom, I asked my aunt and the lawyer if there was any need in me staying and they both agreed that there was no need. I decided to head home which was over an hour away and waited till later that evening to call my aunt for the results. When I called, she said the judge saw a few more witnesses and decided to continue the trial later that week. I reassured her that everything was going to be okay and told her that I loved her.
I called my Aunt Thursday night when I got off work and heard the most beautiful thing ever. Not only did they get visitation rights, they got full custody of Valerie. The judge told the father that this is one of the cruelest grandparent rights cases that he ever presided over and he felt the father was not fit to raise Valerie. He explained that his lack of preparation, immaturity, previous and current criminal background, inability to pay child support, inability to retain employment, and his blatant cruelty towards my aunt and uncle led him to this decision.
My aunt and uncle were reunited with Valerie that same day and it was recorded. It was such a beautiful sight watching her run out of the classroom into their arms. Justice was served and I truly believe the judge made the right decision. I never paid much attention to grandparent rights in the past, but moving forward I have a whole new appreciation for the law. All that can be said is Thank God for Grandparent Rights.
Have you ever had a reoccurring dream that caused you to ponder the cause with no answers? I have had this experience and I would like to share this reoccurring dream with you today. The ghost in the attic dream has caused me fear and confusion and I still don’t understand why the ghostly figure haunts me. Maybe it’s something I experienced as a child or is it possibly a repressed memory or emotion. Nonetheless, let me welcome you into this terrifying dream that has caused me to wake up in a cold sweat on many different occasions.
The ghost in the attic dream starts off no different than any other dream. The setting is usually based in a warped reality that is familiar, but somewhat different. The people in the dream vary between present and past relationships. My wife is always in the dreams and is probably the only consistent person other than the unknown ghost. The setting is usually where I currently live, but that’s the only part of the dream that is the same. The house is never the same, but it is always an old derelict house in need of work and has three to four levels.
The dream usually starts with my wife and I being excited about our newly purchased home and our accomplishment. The odd thing is that when we start to explore the property; I start to realize the state of the property and start to feel overwhelmed with stress and worry. As I previously mentioned, the house was derelict and that would be an understatement. The walls have holes in them, windows are broken, holes in the floor, peeling wall paper, and the list goes on. The house looks more like something you would expect from an old western movie or an abandoned farm house leftover from the depression era.
The irony of this is that I am so bad with my hands. I can change a flat tire or perform a basic oil change, but that is about it. Anything to do with carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, or whatever else can go wrong with a house is out of my league. So why would I buy a property in a state of disrepair with plans to renovate it myself when I know I don’t have the ability to do so. This is one of the many unanswered questions from my dreams.
Typically during the ghost in the attic dream all if fine, but I am discontent with the situation and have no readily available solution. We start to evaluate the property and come up with a plan of attack because the problems are numerous and we are about to move in. More often than no we start with the kitchen which is funny because I don’t have a clue what I am doing. My wife and are start patching up holes and fixing pipes with things like duct tape. Weird is an understatement at best.
At some point during the dream we venture upstairs to the second level of the house which is quite the same as the lower level. There are exposed holes in the walls, peeling wall paper, broken windows, and etc. Now this is where the dreams vary, but end up with the same conclusion. Sometimes the house becomes miraculously furnished or sometimes it remains unfurnished. Either the way, we make our way up to the third level. .
The attic is full of dusty boxes and old furniture as you would expect from a house in its condition. Nothing is really different from the rest of the house except for there are no holes in the walls. The attic appears exactly as it should and does not need repair. There is always a small staircase to a fourth level that I choose to walk towards. I go up the stairs and open the door. I see antique dolls and a bunch of old dusty boxes. There are anywhere between 5 -10 dolls just lying about the room as if they were stored away and forgotten about decades ago.
I instantly see dollar bills flash before my eyes because the dolls are antiques and I want to cash in on my newly found fortune. I pick up a doll, and suddenly realize I am not alone. The ghost of a young girl appears and is quite displeased with me for entering her room. She appears before me and is between the ages of 7 and 10 years old. The ghostly figure of a girl is Caucasian with blondish brown hair and dark eyes. She is wearing a white dress that looks more like a nightgown that is very dingy. Her skin texture is dark grey with dark rings under her eyes. Her look is sinister and would make the bravest person skin crawl. Her appearance is fuzzy and almost translucent, but she is clearly standing in front of me staring at me.
During some dreams the ghost in the attic is violent and psychically hurts me by pushing, biting, hitting, or scratching me. Other times she is more content with tormenting me by scaring the hell out of me. She will do thing like suddenly appearing or moving items before my eyes when she is not visible. The one thing that I am sure of is the ghostly girl’s goal is to get me out of her room and for me to leave her belongings alone. Once she appears, I usually exit the room quite quickly as you can imagine.
We never actually leave the property though; we always stay knowing that the young girl’s ghost is upstairs. I usually don’t return to the room, but sometimes I do and end up being tormented around the house. At some point during these reoccurring dreams I usually wake up with a fearful yell and startle my wife sleeping next to me in bed. I then explain to her that it was the ghost dream again and she rubs my back till I fall back to sleep.
But lately, things have changed and I find myself bragging about the ghost upstairs in the attic during my dream to family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. The house is still in disrepair, but I don’t seem to care. I am still afraid of the ghost but it has become a novelty to me. For some reason, I actually want to taunt the ghost in the attic and get a rise out of it. Maybe even actually create some type of communication between me and the little girl’s ghost. I usually wake up confused and a little frightened. This is such a stark change from my original dreams. I sometimes wonder what my dreams will morph into in the future.
I tried doing some research on Google concerning the ghost in the attic dreams. Believe it or not, there are a lot of resources on the internet to assist you with analyzing your dreams. According to the websites that I found online, there are unresolved issues in my past and they are haunting me. I sure do wish I knew what they were because I am not a fan of scary movies much less nightmares. Maybe someday I will make peace with my unresolved issues and my reoccurring dreams will end.
Even while writing this story and welcoming you into my subconscious mind, I wonder if the little ghostly girl will visit me tonight and how I will respond. One thing is for sure, she will continue to haunt my dreams until I discover what is hidden behind the closed doors in my past. At some point the cause of these dreams will be exposed, but until then, the little girl and I will continue to play this frightful little game.
I am just another middle aged guy with a wife who is absolutely mesmerized by the Walt Disney franchise. She has begun to spread her fascination of Disney onto our little girls and it’s all they talk about. Even right now, as I type this blog, I hear “Love Is An Open Door” playing on the television. I will admit Frozen was a good movie, but my gosh, must I endure this movie for another 4 years since the older girls have moved on but the youngest has just fallen in love with Elsa.
My lovely and loyal wife’s passion with Disney does not just stop with the movies but also includes Disney World theme park. This theme park is not just the most magical place on earth, but also one of the most expensive places to visit. But what is a good husband and father to do other than fulfill his wife and children’s dream of visiting Disney. Not once, not twice, but over and over again. I wish they would take some inspiration from Frozen and just Let It Go, but that will never happen.
Let me explain why I have become so anti-Disney over years, because this was not always the case. I had the great fortune of growing up in a middle class family that was able to visit Disney World twice during my youth. I remember begging my father in the late eighties to purchase a Goofy hat that was fairly expensive and him succumbing to my poor puppy dog eyes. Those family trips we took to Disney World are priceless to me and nothing will ever take them away.
I returned to Disney World as an adult in 2004 with two children from an unsuccessful marriage and my girlfriend who is now my wife. The cost of the trip was somewhere between the cost of $1800 and $2400 including a few bells and whistles. We decided to surprise the children by waking them up in the middle of night and telling them we were headed to Disney World via the airport. Quite an exciting event since they had never flown before.
The trip was absolutely awesome other than the fact that it rained everyday around 3:00pm with a significant temperature drop until the next day. That didn’t stop us from having the time of our lives. Disney World was still fairly priced and you received a bang for your buck. The dining plan was still fairly priced and it included everything from snacks, sodas, and restaurants if you took the time to make reservations in advance. When I say restaurants, I mean all the restaurants except Chef Mickeys which was worth the additional cost.
I remember standing there at the age of 28 caught up in the hoopla watching the fireworks go off at Magic Kingdom one night deciding that I was daring enough to dream a dream. I was amazed with Disney World and wanted to buy some stock when I returned home. I didn’t unfortunately because it only cost $30.00 a share back then. It now goes for $140 a share. My loss is someone else’s gain I guess.
We are going to jump forward now to year 2020 with me disenfranchised with Disney World and this is why. The theme park has lost its way and is being led by greedy corporate America and not Walt Disney’s dream. The cost to visit Disney has more than doubled and this does not include any bells and whistles. It doesn’t even include a meal plan. It’s gotten so bad that Disney heiress Abigail Disney came forward and voiced her dissatisfaction with the direction that the Walt Disney executives have chosen.
While planning our next trip, we agreed to forego the meal plan because it is just too expensive and we will pack sandwiches instead. I then mentioned drinks and she told me what the budget was for refreshments. I looked at her like she was crazy as she informed me that the sodas were over $4 a bottle. At this point I said WTF and that I was done with Disney World. Somehow in less than 20 years I went from eating steak dinners with grilled tuna appetizers to tuna fish sandwiches and bottle water for double the price. Something is very wrong here.
Walt Disney World at some point will be brought back to reality when they lose their most loyal fans. Disney was built upon the American dream and it feels like they have turned their backs on hard working middle class American families. They are more intent in bringing in travelers from abroad who are willing to pay a higher price to visit Disney World. Their share price currently is phenomenal, but I suggest this will change over time because I am a true believer in supply in demand. But this demand won’t stop until people like me put their feet down, refuse to give Disney World another dime and spend their hard earned money elsewhere.