Three hours into the desert [Sandra felt the jeep’s] engine choke and buckle, rolling dark smoke into the pale blue sky.
“Are you kidding me?” Sandra asked her husband Jim. “We’re going to the Grand Canyon something people do all the time from Vegas and the damn Barbie jeep breaks down? Don’t they maintain these things, check that they’re working before they leave us in the open desert?”
Jim gazed at his wife his eyes half closed. The temperature was a sizzling 45 degrees Celsius and growing up in Toronto’s cold winters meant he didn’t handle the heat well. Sandra’s harping made Jim feel that much worse, sweating prufesly in the leather seat beside her.
“Jim, Jim? Are you even listening to me? How long is it going to take for them to send another jeep? Why is everyone else so mellow about this? It gets cold in the desert at night and what about the snakes and scorpions?”
Jim groaned out load and Sandra gave him a dirty look. “Sandy, its hot right now,” he mumbled. “We’ve no air conditioning and if it gets cold soon that would be great for everyone. I’m sure the tour company will find us soon. Our jeep’s Barbie pink as you say.”
“Oh and could you calmdown? You’re frightening the elderly couples,” he said whispering into Sandra’s ear as to not offend the two couples nearby.
Sandra gave Jim a weird look then continued yapping. The tour guides who had been on the radio the last hour with their company were now glaring at Sandra as they too sufferered in the heat and from her constant questions.
The older couples had it the worst, Jim thought. No one wanted any of them to undergo heat stroke since the temperature seemed to affect the four of them the most. Sandra’s constant complaining wasn’t helping the matter.
“Simmer down, lady,” one guide told Sandra,”This happens sometimes. Another jeep is a couple of hours away, if you can control yourself until then.”
Sandra didn’t care, she kept talking.
Jim was surprised when a lady in her seventies, named Meg, smacked Sandra’s face hard. So hard he could see the red outline of the woman’s hand on Sandra’s sweaty cheek. Sandra was so shocked she didn’t say another word except to ask for a bottle of water every couple of hours.
Megan winked at Jim and said: “Nothing like a good smack in the face. I think the heat was getting to your wife. She seems to be okay now that I smacked her and that she’s drinking water instead of talking.” Jim laughed bumping fists with feisty Meg.
“Okay?” Jim asked Sandra later.
“Yeah good now, just a little panic attack I think. The heat was getting to me.”
Jim laughed at this stroking Sandra’s back.
The evening sky in the desert turned from twilight into glittering black with giant stars. All eight people in the jeep sighed with pleasure as the blistering heat cooled and they were awed by the fantastic celestial bodies.
When another pink jeep arrived the next morning, no one complained about the heat or Sandra. Both problems had been eclipsed by the perfect temperature and the starry night viewed under them.
The lights assault my eyes, as they blur past me. Vegas is a beautiful city at night. I had had a table with my friends at the club with bottle service. Slowly, I remember us drinking the vodka shot by shot until the girls had enough.
“Were done, I’m already too drunk. I want to be able to shop tomorrow afternoon,” Megan said and her friend Kelly nodded in agreement.
The other guys and I laughed and jeered, egging the girls on to do one more shot. They refused and went off to dance. After an hour or so passed, I saw them leave the club, removing their heels on the way.
I noticed my good friend Ryan had passed-out on the cushioned bench around the table, parallel to me. I continued drinking, sipping my vodka shots, determined to finish the little vodka left in the bottom of the bottle. It was expensive after all to get bottle service.
A concerned bouncer who had been watching me with deep dark eyes, set two glasses of water down in front of me. “Sir, you need to drink both these glasses,” he said.
“Umm, no. I want more vodka. I’ll pay for another bottle,” I slurred.
The bouncer shook his head, “You need to drink these glasses now sir. I don’t want you to get alcohol poisoning and die in my club.”
I sighed grabbing both glasses, I downed them one at a time.”Gees, I was thirsty,” I told the bouncer.
“I’m calling you and your friend a cab at the back door entrance,” he said nodding at Ryan. ” I don’t have to, I could just throw you out. But, I get this feeling you’re running from something, trying to drink it away. So tonight, I’ll be nice,” the bouncer said. “I get it man, but you’re a grown-up and even in Vegas, you have to have limits.”
Another bouncer came to aid the first bouncer, guide us out to the cab. I leaned on the first bouncer’s shoulder and the other guy half-carried Ryan out the door.
The cab driver looked nervous, “I don’t want anyone throwing-up in here,” he announced. But the bouncers ignored him.
“Where is your hotel?” The first bouncer asked me.
I had to think a moment, everything was such a blur and it was difficult to think. I was so tired and mad at her. Why’d she cheat on me after ten-years marriage? Why’d she leave me for him?
“Um, we’re at Caesars,” I stammered, then reached into my pocket, pulling out a wad of bills; I tried my best to count out $100.00 exactly. I gave it the cab driver. He nodded, “okay where too?” The bouncers shut the cab doors and the driver took off down the Las Vegas strip.
The lights of Las Vegas were beautiful, brilliant, and blurred. But they also made me nauseous. I closed my heavy lids, and opened them as I tried not to sleep. But I couldn’t stop myself and I fell asleep quickly.
Ryan was shaking me. “Come on Blaine, wake up. You’re 6’4″ and two-hundred-some pounds, I can’t lift you alone. You need to help me.”
I blinked in the bright lights at the entrance to Caesars guest reception. It would take us forever to find our rooms because the hotel was so huge and neither of us were well enough to remember where our room was specifically.
Ryan’s hands shook and his face was pale white. He ran and threw-up in a garbage can. He apologized five-minutes later to a man near by helping guests at the front entrance and gave him a twenty, and thinking this man would have to clean the garbage can up.
I was slowly, stepping out of the car, but my legs nearly collapsed and I groaned in frustration. I reached into my wallet and pulled out eighty-dollars. I could count money now at least, though my head felt like someone was hammering my temples.
“Here,” I said to a couple of men upfront working for Caesars. I gave them my cash and asked,”Help us back to my room, please.”
Two silent men grabbed the cash splitting it and they smiled at me now. “Of course sir, do you have your keycard?” I nodded, pulling it out of my pocket. I gave it to the men and they called for two other men, one whom I leaned heavily against as we made an endless journey to my room. Sometime in there, I fell asleep.
It was 3:00 pm when I awoke in my hotel room. Immediately, I went and threw-up in the bathroom several times before I felt better. I took a shower and washed away the smoke and putrid smell of vodka and vomit. I called room service to put some food in my stomach and help me recover. I ordered some French toast, coffee, and orange juice –two orders –one for Ryan as well, when he awoke.
I saw him lying on the bed and I tried to shake him awake. I thought he only needed more sleep. He wasn’t a big guy, so perhaps the vodka hit him harder than me.
A day later, Ryan still wasn’t up and I asked my friends what we should do.
“Well, sometimes you really need to sleep it off. We’re not so young anymore, hangovers can last two-days. He’s breathing so he must be fine,” Kyle reasoned and my other friend Maison seemed to agree. We went down to the casino to play poker.
On the third day we asked reception to call a doctor for us. It was expensive but my friends and I were worried about Ryan. He was cold and his chest barely moved, his breathing was so shallow.
The Doctor was tense upon inspecting Ryan three-hours later. “I’m sorry gentlemen, your friend died earlier this morning, about the time I was called to your room. If only you’d called sooner and emphasized how badly he was doing,” the Doctor chided.
“Ryan had alcohol poisoning so badly he went into a coma. He has no heart beat and isn’t breathing as you indicated earlier. It’s tragic but I guess you’ll understand me now when I say, watch your alcoholic intake; in Vegas especially.”
I started to cry in front of the Doctor and my friends. I didn’t know how I could tell Ryan’s family he’d passed on. He’d been the one who said we needed a boys trip to help me get out the funk of my wife cheating and divorcing me.
I remember him saying, “Blaine you need to get out and have some fun. Come to Las Vegas with me and the guys. Forget about your problems for a while. I’ll forget about mine too,” he said. He never told me what his problems were and I never asked, I thought regretfully.
Now my good friend Ryan was gone. I closed my eyes imagining lights blurring past me. It wasn’t only how I felt when I was drunk. It was how I felt all the time these days. As if I had no control as all the pretty lights rushed by.
When I did have time, I made the wrong choices. The lights were my escape, but I needed to pay attention now, to move on in my life as Ryan would have wanted. I couldn’t drink the pain away.
It is a great deal easier to write about my worst qualities then my best. Mostly, because I am aware of my faults more than my best characteristics. There are two things I do that are my worst qualities:
My, first worst quality has to do with my ability to not be able to contrentrate long or be multi-functional anymore. I am not blaming my health for it; I am saying my health intensified the issue.
I can do one thing at a time and it is often frustrating when I am working on writing up a paper or blogging about a subject, and someone starts trying to have a conversation with me. It makes me angry because I can’t multi-task, the person talking to me is interrupting my ideas and line of thought. And you know how if you are a creative person, ideas often flow out of you when they do; you have to write, paint, or do whatever you do to get your burst of creativity on paper. Meanwhile, a person is still talking to you none-stop and asking you questions and it is annoying. At the same time, I feel bad about being irritated.
Often, it is my Mom who is trying to talk to me. Before, I was ever ill I remember being so mad because I would be researching, writing up a paper, or working on a spreadsheet from work and she would pepper me with questions. But I knew she only wanted to talk to someone after a busy day at work about what went on good or bad. She wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in her office life and get my opinion or view on a situation. She wanted to be able to talk about the people at her work, honestly. She wanted to ‘take a load off.’
I want to be able to talk with my Mom and others. But if I am busy or worn out after doing activities all day, I will brush people off. I will tell my Mom to stop bothering me. I go to my room and finish what I’m doing or sleep if I’m tired. I want to be chatty and happy but I feel bothered and drained by people talking at me and asking countless questions at times. So my first big flaw is I am irritable and single-minded. I am working on actively being a better listener. But it is hard at the time of day everyone gets home from work because I am worn out from the day and my medication is wearing off. I want to listen more and be involved in the conversation and not tune it out or walk away. Sometimes I able to be a better listener and sometimes I’m too irritated to pay attention.
The second flaw I have is something I try to attend to before it becomes worse. I have a tendency if I get mad or angry to let the issues I’m upset about build-up inside me. I get stressed-out when this occurs. I will sort through issues in my head trying to solve them. “Problems to solutions that don’t even exist,” I was told once. But the issue is my problems are real and bothersome. And I attempt to be a nice kind person so I don’t usually tell someone off or ask them to stop doing something unless they are especially bothering me.
An issue arises, however; if someone is repeatedly doing a hurtful action. Or if a person keeps doing a whole bunch of bothersome and hurtful actions all the time. I try to tell myself it is no big deal. I pray about it. I practice yoga and meditate sometimes. I write a lot as you know. And often writing helps a ton. Sometimes if I write something up and even if I don’t post it because it’s too personal or mean about another person, I feel better.
But every now and then someone pushes my buttons and I explode into yelling and tears. I’m a soft spoken reasonable person so when I yell and scream people are surprised and usually offended. Maybe, they didn’t realize something was a larger issue to me then they would have thought. Maybe, I am blowing the situation out of proportion. And maybe, I genuinely have the right to be so upset at someone.
I scared and hurt a friend in Vegas once when I erupted with anger. My friend T and I needed to take L aside and talk to her before the situation got worse but neither T or I did. L had been treating T and I badly the entire summer. Not to mention, she wanted to do all these things with us in Vegas but didn’t actually have the money to pay for it so T and I ended up paying for L, on many activities we did. Also, the fact L had a wonderful boyfriend who was our friend too, and L was flirting and making out with other guys made T and I angry.
I have told this part before: while we are in a club, T became so drunk she was sick and we had to leave the bar. We tried to get L to leave because we promised to stay together, all three of us. L kept telling us to wait and I finally told her T and I had to go, the bouncer was about to carry T and I out the back exit. L chose to stay with two guys she had been flirting with all night.
We finally saw L again as we got back to the hotel room. She was angry too and tried to blame it all on us and said we had abandoned her at the club. I knew T would never stand up to L because she prefers not to handle situations head on. T used to let a person treat her badly, instead of standing up to them. Luckily, she has become better at this over time.
I was so mad about L’s behaviour all summer. I exploded. L was shocked and she asked me why I would even want to be her friend if I thought so badly of her. And I told L how bad she was treating her boyfriend and if she didn’t stop, even T said she’d tell L’s boyfriend on her. L had been treating T and I badly too. L left our room with all her stuff. She wouldn’t talk to us the rest of the trip.
L made up with T because she hadn’t yelled at her, even though L had been a bad friend to T, ditching her for guys countless time. After many emails and some time L and I were friends again three months later. I finally apologized because she wouldn’t. And funny enough, she became closer to her boyfriend. L saw how valuable he was, and ended up becoming engaged, and marrying him.
Even though, L was misbehaving, she didn’t deserve to be yelled at so loudly and L didn’t deserve to have everything T and I were mad at her for dumped on her. People are imperfect and you have to pick and choose your battles. Some things about your friends you have to accept; just as you have flaws so do they. The best friends love you after you’ve shown them your worst side and you love them after you have seen the worst of them. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing your friend or choosing to be right.
I am careful now because of this situation in Las Vegas when I was twenty-three, to not let my anger build up. If I have a big problem with someone or something they are doing, I am honest. And I try hard to tell people how I’m feeling in such a way that isn’t accusatory but rather focuses on how something is hurting me or causing me to feel a certain way. The truth is people do not always realize they are being hurtful. Often, you need to tell the person who is damaging you to stop treating you a certain way and they will listen and cease.
Not letting issues build up helps. I also have learned to let some issues go. I try to get someone else’s view on the situation, Google the general problem, or pray about it. For many situations I find looking at them from a different perspective is helpful. If you see the situation differently it won’t become a problem that will build up. I have also learned that you have to say goodbye to some people or take your issues with a person to a higher authority. But since we are adults, there is usually no higher authority, unless it is a work issue or an issue of crime.
So for instance, I had trouble with a girl who was editor of a magazine I volunteered to write for. She didn’t understand why I was upset about her editing my articles to sound entirely as if they were in her voice. Some of her other editors were being taught to do the same. I didn’t find out until later when I took actual editing courses, what this editor was doing was incorrect and rude. You always try to preserve the voice of the writer and the way the article is written as much as you can. I was confident enough in my writing skills, my BA in English Literature, and the couple hundred articles I had written for her magazine previously. My ideas and my writing style wasn’t bad but my grammar and spelling needed work.
The editor wrote me a letter saying I had to work on my grammar and spelling, which was true. And she had tried to let me improve but I wasn’t, so she increasingly, cut down my article writing until I was only writing one article a week; before I was writing nothing. I exploded to her letter with a nasty email. She thought this was exactly how I was going to react. She probably had the same issue come up with past contributers to her magazine. I ended up apologizing to her for being ageist because she was more than five years younger then me with no degree, so I didn’t trust her writing or editing experience. Honestly, I had good instincts with her, despite my hasty email.
In truth, she was being manipulative and I finally recognized, she didn’t like my writing style. She was looking for people who wrote how she wrote on her personal blog and in her articles. And she didn’t want me to write for her magazine even when she needed writers. I was offended but I knew I didn’t want to be a writer like her or for her. She said the magazine was expanding and the writers had to expand or become better with it. I agreed but still had problems with how she chose to write and what she focused on in her magazines.
I didn’t like how she regularly wrote about cheating with men and women and ruining relationships. Although I support LBGT people, I was offended that she rarily had articles pertaining to man and woman couples, boyfriends and girlfriends. I found this editor to be selfish, micro -managing, and immature despite her attempts to appear professional.
She didn’t want my writing but wanted to use my blogs to tweet and post. She wanted to stay friends but didn’t want me to write for her because I was offended by her note. I had every right to be.
So, I let her go. I stopped supporting the magazine by buying the quarterly issues. I wouldn’t let her use any of my writing for her magazine. I unfriended her on Facebook and Twitter. I stopped taking her text messages and didn’t give her my new number when it changed. I unsubscribed from her blog and anything related to the magazine. It was a great decision.
I don’t know where she is at now. I hope she is well and has worked out some of her life and issues with the magazine such as finding writers. It was mean of me to write her a nasty reply to her email. She didn’t deserve it, even if she lacked a degree or experience. But I couldn’t be friends with her after how she talked about my writing, how she treated my skills as if suddenly they were useless. I knew from professors, writing articles in the Edmonton Journal in University, and even strangers my writing was good. It didn’t mean my writing didn’t require improvement (it still does and will forever) but I didn’t like how she belittled my skills and my person. I let her go.
So, I have learned some tricks to working off stress and dealing with problems before they become so large I explode in tears and screaming. Every once in a long awhile, I can’t help it but I am getting better. We cannot always overcome our flaws but we can try to manage them.
The sights and sounds of the Las Vegas strip – thousands of people milling about, smoke in the air, the ping ping of the slot machines, a whiff of some chef’s tasty food, the pungent taste of tequila at the bottom of my margarita, a warm hot wind that does not cool you down, the slap of flip flops down the street, a sense of peace sitting by the pool, the rush of euphoria when you see that magic word ‘sale’ at Victoria Secret. These are all sensations I have come to admire for the week I get to spend in Las Vegas every couple years. Sensations by the end of the week I am sick of, but at the beginning and middle I crave. I love Las Vegas despite its tawdry side, there is a kind of excitement in Vegas different from anywhere else.
This particular trip to Vegas I spent exploring the strip with my parents. We stayed at Treasure Island, had transfers to and from the airport and hotel, and had suprisingly affordable food around us due to coupons and Half Price Ticket Booth deals. This is trip number four for me to Las Vegas and although I liked Treasure Island, its relative size, and location on the strip well enough, for a Vegas hotel it’s nothing special. But the bed’s were comfy, the rooms were clean, the view was nice, and we did not have to walk a mile through the hotel to get to our room (such as in the Venetian). The Venetian has much more laviciously decorated and spacious hotel rooms, but all in all – I was happy at Treasure Island. It was what I expected – and close to the Fashion Show Mall, The Forum Shops at Caesar’s, and the shops in the Venetian, all vital shopping areas for any Las Vegas tourist. And yes I did save money so I could go all out shopping in Las Vegas. My mom and I spent a portion of 4 out of 5 days in the above mentioned shopping areas and we never even made it to the Premium Outlets which are also a great place to shop. There were a lot of sales going on at this time of year and my mom and I found a variety of sale and regular priced items in Banana Republic, Anne Taylor, Loft, Ninewest, Clarks, Victoria Secret, Lululemon, and some other athletic footwear company. My favorite purchase was a clip from a little booth that will hold all my thick blond hair up in a french twist – an amazing feat my hair is really hard to pin up. My second favorite purchase were bras at Victoria Secret because you see they actually carry my size in the US locations, as opposed to the Canadian locations. My favorite purchase my mom made was this cream peplum lacey top from Banana Republic, she looks gorgeous in it.
Other than the shopping, which I obviously enjoyed to much, we saw the show Love, a Cirque de Soleil show at the Mirage that expressed the Beatles music. It was amazing, the lights, the dancers, the acrobats, the props, and the way they worked conversations from the real Beatles into the performance was fantastic. There were lights, smoke, dry ice, and an amazing scene with a large floating white fabric. Now that I have arrived home I went on Itunes and downloaded some of my favorite Beatles songs on to Itunes including – All You Need is Love, Hey Jude, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and Help. I was of course inspired by the show and highly recommend this Cirque de Soleil production. As not of high of quality, but still quite funny was the dinner theatre Tony and Tina’s Wedding. The italian mean was decent. the actors hilarious, the story a little weak, but still a good time. Not as good as the first time I saw it 6 years ago but still fun. On a sad note, to all you Vegas travellers, October I believe is the last month for the Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian. I have seen it twice there and it is amazing, had I had more time I would have loved to see it again, but I can’t wait to see what amazing show they replace The Phantom with.
The rest of the time my parents and I spent walking around the strip, relaxing in our rooms and in the morning by the pool, playing the slots, and attending some of the other things going on the strip including The Pirate Show at Treasure Island – which by the way, is no longer child appropriate due to the “Siren’s” or strippers large role in the show, this didn’t used to be. But we also saw a Claude Monet expedition at the Belagio as well as this other artist who sculpts Cirque de Soleil actors. The only thing I missed doing which I suppose would be next time I go with friends was a visit to to one or two of the clubs in some of the Hotels. Particularly, one I liked was Tryst at the Wynn, an expensive and Oriental themed hotel, which has a waterfall feature right in the club. I would also like to stay at the Wynn it was nice and quiet but of course expensive.
A trip to Vegas cost us around $600.00 including flight, and hopefully in a couple years I will be back. It is a great place to go with the girls or guys, family, or just ducking out of some work conference. So I invite you to visit and visit soon. It’s not too hot right now remember “It’s a dry heat…”