The Plight of the Flight 

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Welcome back fellow readers! It’s great to be back posting after a brief sabbatical, where I spent some time working on the “Who Stole My Cannoli?” book! It’s a labor of love that I can’t wait to share but has definitely taken up my free time! However my blog needs some attention as well, so here I am again picking you up for a ride on the crazy train that is my life! On a recent vacation, I found myself thinking about all my travels and wanted to share with you my outlook on the stigma that clouds (pun intended) the dreaded act of jet setting.

As I sat with my wife, enjoying the last few hours of vacation, I couldn’t seem to ignore this pit in my stomach. Yes, I know this feeling all too well and it rears its ugly head every time we get close to flying. When I was a kid we never flew, my parents always thought it cheaper to pack us in the family car and drive to our destination. Picture a mix of the Griswold’s and the Corleone’s driving cross country. One minute we are singing the disco hit “Ring My Bell” and the next, some pitiful soul cuts my dad off and half the Italian mob is involved in a car chase. But I digress. Flying was unfamiliar to me and it wasn’t until I was twenty four that I boarded my first flight. This is when I discovered where hell truly lied.

There’s always been a multitude of stereotypes when it comes to flying and unfortunately most are true. Take the arm rest thief for example. You know, the one who snatches prime “arm rest” real estate the minute you move. Or how about the person that insists on taking off their shoes, no matter the flight duration, and you have to endure periods of foot odor. Do they not smell themselves? Even better and what I like to call, the “attack of the sleeper!”, is my favorite.  This criminal robs you of your personal space by taking a power nap and using your shoulder as their pillow. Before you know it you’ve got a view of their mouth and the sweet sounds of heavy breathing in your ear. I think that’s when I would contemplate opening the emergency exit door and taking my chances. Needless to say, these travel offenders come with the territory but they are the least of my problems. In the time it takes for me to grab my suitcase to pack, my anxiety levels have sky rocketed through the roof! The idea that I’m putting my life into another persons hands is not comforting. In fact, for lack of a better word, it scares the crap out of me! However, I like to think I’ve come a long way since my first experience of taking to the skies. Rewind back to March 2009. I was prepping for my first trip abroad to Italy with my wife and I was nervous about boarding my first plane. I wasn’t fully prepared for what was to come but I had faced other obstacles in the past. What could be so different this time?

All I could feel was beads of sweat rolling down my back and the breezeway to board the plane felt more like a ten mile tunnel to my death. I was so dizzy and I couldn’t really figure out if this was reality or a dream. You know that feeling you get when you ‘ve had too many cocktails and everyone around you looks like a circus character? Yea, that just about pin points my state of sanity except I didn’t benefit from the buzz. As I got close to the airplane door I took a deep breath and walked through. My eyes suddenly bugged out like one of those cartoon animals and I stood frozen. This wasn’t an airplane, it was a freaking pod from the starship enterprise! All at once, flashbacks of airplanes from movies I had seen as a kid hit me and I felt deceived. I was expecting millions of rows of seats, friendly stewardesses handing out champagne, and comfy pillows. When I booked, the damn website said “Friendly Skies” and portrayed a oversized seat complete with a pillow! All I got was a rude stewardess who resembled rumpelstiltskin and yelled at me to keep it moving. To make matters worse, my seat belt needed to be “extended” to fit and still… no pillow! I was going into shock and needed some cake or a pie stat! That’s when I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard the calm voice of my wife telling me to relax. I closed my eyes and ignored everything around me. As I started to feel a wave of calmness my wife asked if I was stable enough to put our carry-on, which was stuck in my unwavering grip, into the overhead compartment. Feeling brave, I stood up and proceeded to complete her request but struggled at first to get the bag to fit. I was twisting and turning the bag in all directions so the compartment door would shut, all the while muttering curse words in-between disapproving grunts.  After what seemed like forever, I started to sweat and I could feel passengers staring at me. That’s when I looked over and saw rumpelstiltskin coming towards me with ample speed. Without hesitation I quickly grabbed my carry-on, threw it under my wife’s feet, and slammed my body back into my seat! Screw cake and pie, I wanted off this plane! I eventually tired myself out and dozed off to dreamland. About an hour later I was startled out of my Xanax induced sleep by an unfamiliar feeling, to which my wife described was turbulence. I immediately began thinking of our survival plan and realized if we were going to nose dive into the Atlantic we might survive since we were seated so far back. That’s when my wife, ever so eloquently, reminded me the gas tanks were probably beneath us and we would blow up first. My face went pale and with white knuckles I gripped the seat, said some Hail Marys, and asked the lord to forgive all those times I stole slices of pumpkin cheesecake from the refrigerator at work. It’s funny, I don’t remember much after that and perhaps thats for the best. As expected we made it to our destination safely, including my carry-on, and it was then I realized the extent of my overreaction.

Fortunately, I made it through my first flight and along the way discovered that not all aircrafts are pods from Star Trek and not all stewardesses are creepy fairytale characters. However, before each flight I make sure to have our evacuation plan in place and I refuse to ever take a carry-on bag that won’t fit under my seat. I will never subject myself to the madness of overhead compartments again. I still have my moments where fits of anxiety will arise but I’ve come to relish in the happiness travel has afforded me. Oh, and yes, I still will indulge in the occasional pumpkin cheesecake. What!? I’m not dead, yet.

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.

Hop on the Crazy Train!

Ciao, Hello, Hola, Bonjour, and Hallo! Hopefully I covered the biggies but I think you get the idea. Welcome aboard the crazy train or as I like to call it, the “Who Stole My Cannoli?” web page! Since you took the time to stop by I thought I would explain what your getting yourself into. Think of me as the conductor and your the passenger joining me on my journey through this crazy thing called life. I can guarantee it will be nothing of what you expect and there will be plenty of “bumps” along the way. From a boy growing up in an unconventional Italian home to the daily struggles of a simple man and his food, you will be entertained by the people I call family.  So grab a ticket, and a bowl of pasta, and take a ride with me on the one and only crazy train!