Vacation Day Trips: Castle In The Clouds

I haven’t had a vacation in a long time and part of me wnats to sit home and do nothing for that week and part of me wants to cram in everything I’ve been dying to visit for a long time now. So I came up with a compromise: day trips. Each day, I plan on traveling either near or far for some daylong fun.

First up:

Castle in the Clouds


I love this place. I have been here many times throughout my life. The first time we went there, it was a 1st grade field trip. Not the wisest of decisions on my elemtary school’s part. I can almost imagine the meeting before they approved this field trip:

“Ok, let’s take all the first graders, hype them up on sugar and take them on a long bus ride to this beautiful castle in upstate NH and make them go on a long tour through a dark building! What could possibly go wrong?”

I’m sure they meant well, but come on? Bunch of kids cooped up in a bus for hours then let loose on the grounds around this castle? Chaos and hijinks ensued! I think this was the first field trip where someone got left behind…actually serveral someones who had managed to get lost and hooked up with another tour group instead of ours. The other tour group, upon realizing we had left these kids behind, did the right thing and drove them back to your school. This was the 70’s where mistakes happened and if it was rectified in a satisfactory manner, nobody ever said a word. Can you imagine if that happened now? Somebody would be suing somebody’s ass that day!

But I digress…. Since that first ill-advised encounter with this place, I have grown rather fond of this odd attraction in the white mountains. I’m a history buff and have always loved the story behind how and why this was built here, fully restored from it’s original location.

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that while all these tours are going on, there are people living in the house! That is amazing to me. I can barely stand having relatives over to my house and here are these people who open their house to total strangers, allowing them to wander through at will, near all the antiques and the other things they hold near and dear to their hearts. They are obviously far better people than me.

While I am there, I will do my best to get some original photographs. The one I used, I got off Flickr…yup, I cheated. 🙂 Check out the link if you would like to learn more about this fascinating little slice of New Hampshire history.

Vacation is Coming



In three weeks, I will finally be going on a vacation. I know what you are saying: “George, you work two jobs, how can you swing a whole week off?”

The answer is easy: just don’t give a shit.

I need some time to myself. Some time to re-evaluate my little life. Been so wrapped up in making money and taking care of family business that I have completely lost touch with what I really want. I’m not one to avoid introspection, but for some reason, despite my best efforts, I have lost touch with the things that matter to me.

I know the biggest reason for this is my work schedule. For those who don’t know, allow me to explain.

Since September 2008, I have had two jobs. My full time job is with a car dealership. I work there from 45-65 hours a week. They provide full healthcare, 401k, dental, etc. The job is very stable despite the climate out there in the car business. I may bitch about this job alot. I may complain about my co-workers and their lack of interest in anything other than sports and naked women, but it’s a good job. I’m the lynch-pin of the dealership and I love that responsibility. I don’t think I get recognized enough for what I do here, but that is a subject for another blog.

Since September, I joined up at a call center. The original plan was to have this job part time to help offset the cost of oil for the winter since it was looking very scary. Then oil went way down….and thats when I made the mistake of looking at my 401k. Just like everybody else out there, I was seeing diminishing returns. So my friends talked me into joining them at this call center. The calls come in, you take the call, fill out the order, upsell what you can and thats it. Easy right? Easy, but nerve racking. The problem with the part time is I am required to do 20 hours a week there to maintain my part time status.

So lets do the math: on a slow week, I am doing a minimum of 65 hours and on a busy week, I’m doing 85.  Thats eighty five hours of work that leaves very little time for a social life, working out or even vital little things…like sleeping!  Let’s not even get started on spare time to work on a painting, go hiking. The best I can do is a nice long drive along the coast between shifts….

I have been justifying this self torture for one reason: I’m not seeing anyone. Since I’m not dating, might as well make as much money as possible. The rebuttal to my position is: “Well, if you didn’t work so much, maybe you WOULD meet someone.” It’s a never ending cycle. I’ve also come to realize that my position, working my ass off because I have nobody in my life, is the passive position. And if I keep taking this position, a non participatory role in my own dating life, crap like what just happened to me will keep happening and I’ll forever be heartbroken and miserable.

Oh, thats right….I never told you about the last month and half of stupidity that re-entered my life. I guess I never wrote about it because I felt like I had been used. Another redhead pulled the wool over my eyes. Thats not exactly true. She didn’t pull the wool over my eyes so much as I did it myself. Just wanted to believe everything she said was true. But no, it was a lie, just like before. Oh yeah, there was a before to this story too, which is why I should have seen how it would all end. But sadly, my heart dove in face first and ran merrily away without me. Now he’s broken, shattered really. And no, I won’t go into detail. Would rather keep it vague and not name names.

But if I didn’t work so much, if I had some kind of a life, maybe I could have seen her coming a mile away and told her to go to hell like I should have rather than going along with things simply out of conveniance. And conveniance is never a reason to start a relationship with someone.

So thats why I need this vacation. I need it so I can step outside of myself and my life. I need new priorities and new objectives. And most of all, need a new plan for my little life. I need to be a better friend to those who care about me. I need to be true to myself and stop compromising so much of my life. And I need to make myself available, so when she finally does walk into my life, I won’t be so busy that I hardly notice her and miss the chance of a lifetime.

Vacation is coming and with it comes a lot of change. I think I’m ready.

A Conversation with Myself


I have had this conversation in my head for a week now and I wasn’t sure how to write it out. First I tried it like an interview. That was okay, but I quickly realized that the format really lent itself to theater. So I reworked it as a one act play. I haven’t done writing for the theater in years. I left out all the stage directions so as not to bore everyone to death.

Special thanks to Maleesha who offered me some helpful editing. Your suggestions rocked!!

A Conversation With Myself.
A Play in one act.
Written and copyrighted by George Parnell, 2009.

Setting: Bare stage with a desk. One chair behind the desk and two in front. A single spotlight shines on the center of the scene.

ME: Heart? Thanks for coming in today. We need to have a serious talk….

HEART: Really? What’s troubling you George? You seem upset and worried and…

ME: Ok, look…I know you are my heart and it’s part of your shtick to be all emotional and caring and worrying about me, but I have to ask you to just stop and listen to me for a minute.

H: ok….

M: I have to ask you for a big favor…

H: I will do what I can.

M: I need you to stop chasing after these hopeless and pointless infatuations.

H: Um, stop? You do realize that’s part of my job description right?

M: What do you mean?

H: Well it says right here in my Terms of Service that as your heart, I have free reign to blindly go forward, chasing after the dreams that you and your rational mind may deem unnecessary and distracting. By this contract, I have the right and the mandate to pursue the very things that you are afraid to pursue.

M: Don’t you understand that what you do is……..

H: What I do is necessary and you have no recourse or ability to reign me in.

M: Wait, wait…slow down here… You don’t have to quote from the Employee Handbook for George, ok?Now, I know full well what your function is. And, may I say you do a fine job.

H: Thank you…that’s touching…

M: But what you have been doing lately? You recent activities have been detrimental to the whole company, so to speak. Your ambitions and activities have caused me more than a few sleepless nights…

H: That’s just you over thinking…

M: Let me finish. You have been going in 100 directions at once. We need to find a way for you to have a little focus and perspective and…

H: Focus and perspective??? Pssssh! That’s your job! Intellect and rationale? That’s all you! Me? I am governed by whimsy and lust. I find what you desire most and then your job is to sort out the details.

M: But while you fixate so much on the impossible and unattainable, I find myself missing out on perfectly good opportunities around me. We need to work together.

H: No we don’t. Without me, you would have no dreams, no aspirations and no hope.

M: Ok, that’s a little extreme…

H: Is it really?

M: I think so, yes.

H: Hmmmmm… And what “opportunities” are you missing out on around you? Do tell…

M: Well,  for starters, I ran into an ex girlfriend the other day….

H: Wait wait wait wait!! Is that what this is about? You run into an ex girlfriend and you think I should have felt something? Is that it?

M: Well, yeah….I mean, did you see what she was wearing?

H: Noooo! For Crying out loud! Don’t you remember? We have been down that road already with her and in case you didn’t notice, I still have the scars….

M: Oh she didn’t break you that bad….

H: Typical! And you wonder why I don’t return most of your calls… Do you really want to give her the opportunity to put us through the ringer again? Really? I’m sorry; I’m not with you on that at all.

M: Well, it was just a thought, but definitely a far more realistic thought than your ambitions. Why are you so weak for anyone with red hair?

H: It’s not a weakness and I think you and I both know it’s not just red hair. It’s a smile, the way she cranes her neck, a soft giggle….

M: Allright, settle down…

H: I’m just sayin’….. And it’s not just the redhead. You know what I’m talking about….

M: Hmmm?

H: There’s the blonde….

M: Mmm the blonde, *sighs* She is really sweet…

H: And don’t forget that sales girl you fell head over ass for….

M: See that’s different, she at least goes to the same bars I go to…

H: And then there’s that brunette…. Rawr! She just rocks your little world, doesn’t she?

M: Ah yes, the brunette….Well, to be honest, yeah she definitely leaves me a little breathless….but wait! That’s not the point!! You are getting me off track again! Look! Bottom line is this; I want you to come on board and work with me. I want a goal that’s attainable.You don’t have to be all logical like me. Baby steps, my friend. If we work together, maybe we can work towards some of your goals and some of my goals and find a happy medium.

H: But you see, that’s completely against my nature. My purpose here is to be that ridiculous driving force behind your ambitions. I have to give you outlandish goals, aspire for love from unattainable women, and make your pulse race every time you catch a glimpse of red hair. I give you that excitement when you see your name in print when your art is being shown someplace. I’m that swelling of pride when someone compliments you on your writing or a painting.

M: Huh?

H: I am your core.
It is up to you to decipher and discover what you truly want. If I stopped doing my job and didn’t present you with hundreds of directions, as you put it, where would that leave you? No ambition, no hope. Sure, you have some sleepless nights because of me and yes, I know that love and lust and dating are complex issues! But when it comes to matters of the heart, the Handbook clearly states, “It’s complicated”.

M: Really? The hand book just says that?

H: The heart wants what the heart wants and there’s nothing you can do about it.

M: But don’t you see? That’s the very heart of the problem!

H: …….Very funny. Oh you and your whitty puns….

M: Sorry, no pun intended. It’s just that I want things to be neat and organized. I want to meet someone, fall in love, get married and live a little of the American dream. But because of all your distractions, I can’t!

H: Am I that distracting?

M: Are you kidding? Lets have a look at what a typical day is with you:  Let’s paint this week! Think I’ll try my hand at writing! Oooh  I got a new camera! I must be a photographer now! Let’s ignore the bills and go waste money on art supplies. Hey, Best Buy is having a sale! New Computer! Oh and don’t get me started on the women! A simple smile or a kind word from anyone of the female persuasion and you are off to the races, my friend. You seem to tell me that every positive gesture, a touch, a smile, a kind word is some sign that she’s interested.

H: But what if they really are interested and you are just selling yourself short, like I’ve been telling you for years now.

M: ……. I hadn’t thought of that.

H: And that’s why you need me. Ha

M: Ok, I get it. But you have to work with me. I can’t have you running off all the time. I swear, you are worse than a three year old sometimes. But instead of “Hey look! Shiny!”, it’s “Hey look! Breasts!” and you are off being distracted from what really needs to be done. Can you at least agree to try to work with me?

H: Well, I guess I could fixate more on their legs and asses if that would help…

M: Hold onto that thought. What I need you to do is to limit the amount of time we spend distracted by red hair and breasts and smiles. Do you remember the time we got on the wrong train in Boston and ended up on a nonstop train to Braintree all because you were distracted by some red hair?

H: Ok, that story is so old it deserves a place in a retirement community…

M: The point is, let’s work together.

H: ……..I don’t know….it goes against everything I stand for….

M: Please? I’m begging you here….

H: I can’t make any promises. I am driven by your deepest desires. Sometimes, I’m going to disappoint you. Sometimes, I’m going to let you down. You have to accept that we are often at cross-purposes.

M: I can live with that as long as you agree to keep those distractions to a minimum just so I can  attain a few of my short-term goals without being sidetracked. Deal?

H: Deal. But please, for both of us, do NOT call that ex girlfriend again. That would be embarrassing for both of us I think.

M: Fine. But don’t blame me if passing on the opportunity to get laid causes me to stare uncontrollably at the bouncing bits at the gym.

H: You want to be the creepy staring guy at the gym now?

M: Shut up, that’s not what I meant.

H: Sure, but you may want to speak to the Id about that.

M: I know, he should be here anytime now. I told him we were having this meeting….

ID: You wanted to see me?

M: Yes Id, thanks for coming and FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! Would you please pull your pants up?!!!!

ID: Sorry, I was surfing the web for porn earlier and….

M: Allright! Allright! Now look Id, sit down, we have to have a serious talk…..