The Traveling Cannoli.

What makes us dreamers? Is it the fact that we, for a split second, can do or be something out of the norm? For me, I think it’s something that is ingrained in our DNA and it drives us to make that leap of faith. A thirst we hope to quench but fear gets in the way. For years I always had a dream of working in entertainment. Whether it be writing, acting or hosting I wanted to do something where I could use my talents to reach people. Unfortunately, the fear of rejection and failure held me back. However, that all changed when I came across a contest searching for the next Travel Channel Star. I decided to make that leap, submit an audition video, and put myself out there with no reservations. Was it worth it? You tell me.

*(15 finalists will be announced on TravelChannel.com on May 11)*

It took me a whole week to decide where I was going to shoot my audition video. I was trying so hard to figure out what would appeal to my audience and the judges. Even worse, I was fixated on what I was going to wear. Did I look to plain? Would this shirt speak traveler? My god… is that my stomach?!? I look nine months pregnant! Well, maybe I went a little overboard. That’s when I heard the voice of reason, backed with a little tough love. My extremely patient wife advised me to be myself because it didn’t matter what I wore or where we filmed. The important thing was to make sure my personality and passion came through. Once I relaxed, I narrowed it down to Fells Point, Baltimore and the National Mall in Washington D.C.  I decided to let the camera do the work of capturing the type of travel host I could be.

Recording my first video in Fells Point went well but not without a few bumps. After about eight or nine takes my wife, aka camera man 1, said she needed an alcoholic break. We found a great restaurant, Barcocina, (which is featured in the video) and took advantage of their bottomless special. Now with a little bit of liquid courage we filmed straight through, called it a wrap, and went back for round 2 of drinks. Unfortunately our D.C. trip didn’t go as planned, due to the fact we drove for over an hour trying to find parking. It was days after the cherry blossom festival and city workers clogged up roads and caused backed-up traffic. Drivers were honking and yelling at one another, it was hot, and we hadn’t eaten all morning. Not a very good combo. At one point we thought we found a spot to parallel park but a “kind soul” screamed out the window, “You guys can’t park there! Geez!” Yea, that definitely put the nail in the coffin. Within seconds we turned to our phones and told Siri to get us the hell out of D.C. On our drive home we made the pack to always take the metro into the city and that eating a balanced meal before any excursion is important.

Needless to say, I submitted my initial video of Fells Point and I’m leaving my fate to the universe or powers that be. No matter the outcome, this has definitely sparked new ideas for Who Stole My Cannoli. Who knows, The Traveling Cannoli just might show up in your neighborhood.

Saying Goodbye to a Decade.

It finally came, that dreaded time of the year where I’m reminded that I’m another year older and still have a list of “To Do’s” before my thirties. However, this wasn’t just any old birthday, it was my 30th birthday and all I could see were my twenties flashing before me. To make it a special occasion my wife planned a trip to Baltimore this past weekend. We decided to take in as much of the city life as possible and expected nothing but relaxation. What we didn’t expect was a night filled with partying that would make even the hardest of rock-stars cringe. OK, well maybe not to that extreme but eventful nonetheless.

We arrived at the hotel and proceeded to check-in with the receptionist. While pulling up our reservation she wished us a Happy 30th Anniversary. (My wife had noted in our reservation that I was celebrating my 30th birthday). I looked up confused correcting her that it was actually my 30th birthday. Without hesitation or logical thought she exclaimed “Oh so sorry, easy mistake.” What do you mean easy mistake, I thought. I would of had to get married in the womb for it to be my 30 year anniversary!! Did I look older than thirty or was she just reading on a third grade level? I couldn’t tell so I decided to let it go. We proceeded up to our room where there was a bottle of champagne waiting and a giant card that read, “Happy 30th Anniversary, congrats on your milestone!” and signed “From your dedicated hotel staff!” Milestone huh? Somewhere the birthday gods were having a laugh at my expense. Once over that hill, pun intended, we unpacked and made our way to the aquarium. It was fun to walk around watching the simple life of sea creatures and making fun of the parents with screaming kids. Very little amuses us but when we need a “pick-me up” we tend to people watch. We started to get hungry and stopped in at a local restaurant’s happy hour. We piled on the drinks and four dollar appetizers and just enjoyed each others company. When happy hour ended, we moved our party of two to a local dueling piano bar. Being a little intoxicated, we found the right building but entered the wrong bar and crashed a DJ party. My wife went straight up to the DJ’s table and asked where the piano bar was. He gave us directions and my wife, being the character she is, moon-walked out of the bar yelling at the DJ, “Nice beats dude but we got to split!” Yes, this actually happened and yes her moonwalk was perfection. We eventually found our destination and it was not what we expected. What we thought was a lounge type piano bar was more of a piano bar/dance party USA mix. Piano players would take requests from patrons and perform sing-along classics, like Bennie and the Jets, I Love Rock N’ Roll, and of course Piano Man. As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans and that’s exactly what we did. Drinks went down smooth, fast friends were made, and we owned the dance floor. It got around that I was celebrating my 30th and I was brought on the stage to shake my “groove thang” (as someone put it) to the Thong Song… and I boy did I shake it… all of it. At one point, I even thought it was a good idea to sing the Spice Girls smash hit “Wannabe” with one of the performers, something I can never take back. Needless to say we were back in our twenties and celebrating like college students. Eventually our night was winding down but before it could end I was brought back on stage to partake in a farewell performance. This is was done in the style of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” with my crew of new friends. I didn’t think my body could shimmy like that but I’m sure Ms.Turner would have been proud! Ending on such a high note we knew it was time to head back to our hotel. We finally made it back to our room and thought it would be a great idea to open a bottle of wine but my wife insisted she need to shower first. She turned on the water but we ended up in the sitting area of our room talking about our night. All the while not realizing the shower was still on. After about twenty minutes my wife made her way to the bathroom to find the entire floor flooded with water. The tub stopper was in the closed position and the water had overflowed! I ran in to see my wife on the floor laughing. In a drunken panic mode I spent the next couple hours sopping up water and having my wife squeeze out the towels while she sat in the tub. I even stumbled to the front desk asking for towels while wearing two different shoes and trying not to slur my words. Looking back I think, at this point, reliving the “younger” days had finally come to an abrupt end.

The morning seemed to come fast and I woke up to rays of sunshine that broke through the small opening in the curtain. For a second, I forgot where I was but then last nights festivities began to race through my mind. I quickly got up and ran to the bathroom, but not before checking on my fellow party animal, to see the status of our small flood. All looked okay, except for the pile of towels bunched in the corner and hanging in inconspicuous areas around the room. After all was said and done I have to say I learned something that night. We are all meant to age and maybe it’s because we need to be open to new opportunities and prepare for another phase of life. I dreaded my thirties but in hindsight I’m glad my twenties, and the Spice Girls, are in the past. I survived a night with a new generation of party people but next time I might not be so lucky.