"To entertain, inspire, frighten, teach, and entice as many readers as possible." - Keith Helinski
Wastin' Away Press features Keith Helinski's writings, ranging from short stories online to movie reviews over the years. Also features an assortment of Keith's interests. If you like what you see, check out Wastin' Away Press's official Facebook.
We were delighted when we had an invite to play for EPCOT’s International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World. Before our gig, we were granted the freedom to explore all the Disney parks. I, myself, have gone to Disney World a few times as a kid with my family, but this was a first for the rest of the band. Despite the fact we lived close to Disney, we never really got around to checking the place out (and let’s be honest here, Disney is for the tourists while locals try to stay away from the money trap). You certainly don’t think about any of that stuff when you enter the parks. Really does bring out the kid in you.
Everyone had their own favorites: Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, Mission: Space, Expedition Everest, - and, the, beat, goes, on. We all favored and rode Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at least a gazillion times at the Studios. I think any rocker (or self-proclaim rocker) will have a soft spot for that ride. Every time I heard an Aerosmith tune while waiting in line, it brought me back to when I was a kid; listening to old Aerosmith CDs and fantasying being exactly like them. Now look at me! Far from ‘dreaming on.’
After a day of park-hopping, we played at a very small stage that resided in the American Adventure pavilion at World Showcase, EPCOT. We didn’t play the typical 90-minute to two-hour set we would play at most gigs. Instead, we played three, hour-long sets that started in the afternoon, with an hour gap in-between our sets, and ended an hour before the 9 P.M. fireworks. Most bands when they play at EPCOT, repeat the same damn songs during their three-sets. We decided to dedicate each hour-long set to our various music styles. The first set we played, included heavier tunes of ours (which honored the Long Play and Untitled albums). The second set was in honor of our mellow/proggier side (which we dipped a lot from the Lite album). Third set was all cover tunes. The event reps weren’t thrilled about the idea at first, but after seeing that we had the most people crowded around the pavilion (I’ve been told the only other band that had that much appeal at EPCOT was The Beach Boys), they retracted. The crowd wasn’t the most electrifying audience we played at (maybe because of the setting), but they all cheered and chanted. If I have to take a guess, there was a mixture of die-hard fans and people that never heard of us before, but was intrigued enough to watch us perform. By the way, I was rockin’ with a shirt I purchased the previous day: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Goes along with the rest of my music shirt collection!
Finally watched ‘Frozen.’ Hmmm…enjoyable? Yes. Charming? Yes. Funny? Yes. Cool animation? Sure. Oscar worthy? NO! The best Disney film since ‘The Lion King?’ NO! Good film. Solid damn good film. But not great. I am sorry!
I hate to sound like a sour-puss, but I miss the traditional hand-drawn animation. I actually thought ‘Princess and the Frog’ was a better movie.
One of the biggest issues I have with ‘Frozen,’ which is also the issues I had with ‘Tangled,’ the human characters in a CGI movie looks so phony looking. And because there are so many CGI movies everywhere from everyone, ‘Frozen’ could be from any other studio
What I really did enjoy from the film, and what makes a Disney movie a DISNEY MOVIE, is the setting. Beautiful exterior/interior settings. Gorgeous scenery.
For some reason, it’s finals week and all I could think about while writing my 40 page study guide for my Inter/cultural communication class, is Disney. And my college program, and my friends. So I think it’s about time that I write a post about what I learned during my CP. (Yes, I finished my…
Honest, NICER view of the College Program. And I have to agree 99.99999 percent of it. 8-)
Watched what I consider the movie of the year: ‘Saving Mr. Banks.’ Even though it was 50 percent factual and 50 percent bull-shit, it was a damn good movie. Anyone that is a Disney/Mary Poppins fan should see it.
The highlight of the year, and the most memorable event of my life happened on September 13th: the day Karii Lynn and I got married. Everything that occurred before and after that event doesn’t hold a candle to the exact feeling I felt at that moment the vows were recited and I kissed my bride. As a writer, I can describe in detail a perfect fictitious moment. But it is rare to live those kind of moments firsthand.
The whole ceremony was beautiful, but the experience during the reception: incredible, with all our friends/family that was there celebrating the event with us. It truly was a magical night for us. We still talk about the wedding, months after the fact (and I think we will be years for now). As Karii’s idol, Lady Gaga, would put it: Karii ‘just dance’d that night. For me, I mingled with all my friends/family that attended the reception, playing musical tables all night.
The wedding divided the year in half. The first half of the year was preparation for September 13th. Karii’s/my family worked their asses off, making sure everything was set for the date. THANK YOU doesn’t even come close to how much we appreciate both our family’s. Very lucky to have two-sets of awesomeness!
Karii and I went to see Ellie Goulding at the Royal Oak Music Theater beginning of the year. It was an enjoyable show (and inspired me to write \m/). I also saw Black Sabbath and Sammy Hagar in concert over the summer at Pine Knob; after all, can’t have a summer without a trip to the Knob. Karii and I went to Cedar Point during the summer as well.
The second half of the year determined future plans. After years of talking about it, I wanted to pursue my Disney dream. So we both flew to Florida and back, twice in October. It was the very first time flying on a plane for me. That was quite an experience in itself. I was so nervous as the plane started to take off, chewing my gum like crazy and keeping my eyes closed. As the plane started to increase speed, my heart was racing along. Once we were in the air, I looked out the window and couldn’t believe I was above the clouds: what a sight! Plane rides wasn’t as bad as I thought. I expected an aggressive roller coaster. It wasn’t like that at all. As everyone reassured me days before the flight, it’s more like a car-ride. I still prefer driving down to Florida, rather than flying. At least I was able to get a rental car to be able to drive around the Orlando area!
The first trip to Florida was for an interview at Disney. It was a very short trip, one night stay in Orlando to be exact. We stayed at a hotel outside the Disney property. It was surreal to drive in that area again (192, 535, 536, and I4!) I saw the old apartments I used to have (Chatham Square) and drove around the same routes I used to take to go to EPCOT daily.
That night, we spontaneously decided to go to Universal Horror Nights. It was well themed, we both had a hell of a good time (was nice to visit Universal again, and I got very nostalgic exploring City Walk), however, we really didn’t get a chance to see everything/do all the houses. It was VERY crowded, we didn’t bother paying the big bucks to do the Express tickets nonsense (I think in the future, I may consider it). Disappointed we missed out on The Walking Dead haunted house, but we did roam Evil Dead/Cabin in the Woods. Cabin was awesome (favorite movie from last year, so I got a kick out of it). It felt odd being there, though. I can’t say I’ve outgrown it, because it’s still one of my favorite places. But, I felt like a different person compared to when I was there last (May 2008). So much happened in my life between then and now, I just couldn’t get into the same spirit I had gained in 2008.
The next day, I had my interview at Disney casting (which resides across Downtown Disney). Karii waited at Downtown Disney as I walked-in Casting, and waited what seemed like an hour in the lobby. The lobby was filled with a lot of people of various ages. My nerves were a little high, but I also felt confident. I left the company on good terms, my old managers(s) told me years ago that I was re-hirable. More than anything, I was still in disbelief that I was actually there in person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamed of this moment in my head.
I was finally called on (was a 45-mintue wait) by a young woman name Kate. She introduced herself, and walked me to her office (there was a long hall-way of offices, all Disney themed). I had a good conversation with her, expressed my interest, and after ten minutes of hard-hitting questions, she told me that I would be a good fit in the company BUT(!) there were no openings of the position I applied for (custodial). She said she would put me on a waiting list, but in the mean time, Disney wouldn’t hire me anyhow until I had moved to Orlando for good.
I left the interview with some confidence, but also, a little uneasy. Karii and I spent the rest of the afternoon at Downtown Disney (was her first time there). I was amazed how different it was. I certainly miss Virgin Records, as well as Pleasure Island. Later that day, we drove back to the airport, awaiting our flight back home. That was early October.
We had made arrangements of flying back to Orlando toward the end of October. The quest: find an apartment. We stayed at Tropical Palms on 192 (a childhood favorite stay of mine). I spent all three nights on the patio of the cabin we stayed at - doing apartment homework/reading, and soaking up the heat.
Karii and I only had three full days in Orlando to work with. Little did we both realize, how over-whelming that would be.
The apartments we fell in love with, had either unrealistic rent attached to it, or, had a long waiting list. The one apartment complex I had my heart set on, Buena Vista Place, which resides conveniently across from Disney University/Magic Kingdom, had a waiting list up until February. Neither of us wanted to wait that long. So we kept looking…and looking…and looking. We called complexes/drove to complexes. We covered a lot of ground but didn’t succeed in scoring a place. By the last day before our flight back home, we were able to score a potential apartment toward the outskirts of Orlando in Winter Park. The apartment complex was called Lexington, and it appeared dumpy in my opinion (was certainly a downgrade to where we live now in Michigan).
We took a tour of the complex, and I wasn’t impressed (kept my thoughts to myself, though). Out of desperation and instinct, we decided to put our names down to reserve an apartment (they did had openings right away). The rent was $650.
It was a long drive back to the airport. One thing I noticed (which did hammer our final decision) was the pesky drive. I would have to drive on I4 through Downtown Orlando, Universal, and finally Disney traffic DAILY to get to work. Not only would I be eating the gas to and from, but I was also concern about the increased rent for an apartment that was dumpy. Mind you, I wouldn’t be making much money starting out at the Diz, so all of that was a concern in my head. Believe me, I had all kinds of mixed feelings while we drove to the airport. Not only was all of that plaguing my mind, I kept on thinking whether or not we were making a good decision overall. I then kept on thinking whether or not I really wanted to work at Disney again. I mean, I kept talking about it for YEARS on-end. But was I just romanticizing a period in my life that I’ll never get back?
I am married now. I am very much different compared to when I did worked at Disney back when. My mind-set is different. Then I kept on wondering if I would have the same freedom I do now with my writing if I was employed with the Mouse. That thinking kept bouncing back and forth in my head as Karii and I waited at the airport for our flight back home. We were re-evaluating everything, leaning towards risking it all and relocating to Florida. We called our parents, giving them the news. We both were excited. But we also had the same doubt.
It wasn’t until I got on the plane, that I started to really think it through. I was listening to Ayreon’s new masterpiece, Theory of Everything (the album of 2013, in my opinion), and kept on thinking about everything that I went through the past five years leading up to this moment on the plane. The dreadful experience with my ex, the breakup, my writing, dating Karii, the wedding - everything that got me to this epiphany on the plane: I’ve been livin’ the dream all along!
Before the two FL trips (and the wedding), I had written my first novel, \m/. I am confident it’s publishable (beyond Kindles). I am also confident it’s a story that will have a good solid appeal to readers of various interests. If I move to Florida NOW, I won’t be able to publish \m/ the way I want. But if I hold off and focus on my writing (which is what I’ve been doing all along for the past couple of years), who knows where I might be in a few years time. I got all of that, just by listening to Ayreon.
So I then told Karii what I was thinking. I married the right one, because she was thinking the same thing. Taking that dumpy apartment would kill us financially, there were no guaranties that I even had a job waiting for me (remember, I would be on a waiting list). I have insurance through my current employer. If I jump ship now, I would have to partake in the Obamacare mess that’s going on in the country. Not getting into that debate, but the one consistent issue with it is: it is a mess! Not something I would want to get involved with if I relocate.
So we went from moving to Florida when we got on the plane to staying in Michigan once we got off the plane two hours 30 mintues later.
While these points might be simply cop-outs to some, I think the realization I had while I was driving around the Orlando area, I really don’t have it that bad back home. I work 40 hours a week with occasional raises. I have health insurance. I am married to a great wife! I live in a decent apartment. And I write.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have mix feelings about our decision (especially as winter is hitting the home-front real hard with bitter cold temps and white-shit on the ground, on top of getting sick every other week). I was looking forward to seeing EPCOT again (a missed opportunity the two visits to Florida). And I still consider Disney a great company to work for.
People have weighed-in their thoughts about it (funny how everyone always has an opinion on how someone else should live). And yeah, there were a few options we could’ve took (temporary housing somewhere, roommate with someone, taking that dumpy apartment). We knew the options were there. But the only way we would pursue my Disney dream is if we both agree 100% without any doubts. We both had doubts. The question I get asked a lot these days, have I given up my dream? Working for Mickey Mouse again was a dream, sure. And yes, I pretty much given up on THAT. But that was A dream. It wasn’t THE dream…and believe me, folks - I haven’t given up on THE dream. If I had, you wouldn’t be reading this, ahem!
I am already setting short/long term goals for myself involving THE dream.
\m/ is still in the editing phase (and will be for quite a while). I promise, it will be unleashed next year. I have three writing projects in mind for 2014, two I have already written about a few weeks ago: Duval St. and a sequel to Now Seating…
The third writing project, I will be starting *hopefully* the end of next year. It is called WISHES, and it in fact is about the Disney program I was involved with years ago. I figured if I am not going to work for the Diz, I am going to write about it. While the first two projects I will be working on next year are going to be of short story length, WISHES will be a novel (already have a mapped out story in my head).
Along with those three projects, I also will be taking an intro to prose writing class at Macomb starting in January. Going to try to dust off a journalism degree I started ten years ago (and see how far I get with it). Looking forward to that class, I know it will benefit my writing. And if that’s not enough, I will be returning to MovieFreak.com (why not?, since I write a lot about movies monthly, anyhow?)
The end-result of the trip to Florida in October does sadden me a little, but future prospects excite me. Karii and I have no idea where life is going to lead us in the future (and before anyone asks: no, we don’t know when we will have kids!), but we already have some ideas what we are going to do together next year with a line-up of concerts and a few potential trips to look forward to.
We are in fact a happily married couple. That’s part of THE dream.
"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." - John Lennon