I drove to work today on heavily salted roads. The last two days they predicted freezing rain and snow that never materialized. There must a million gallons of brine on the roads. So much that I think I can taste it. I honestly think the air is slightly sweeter today than it was just twenty-four hours ago.
I know this isn’t true but sometimes your mind just fills in the cracks.
That sweetness is like missing a loved one who is gone. While things were not always great, sometimes many months would go by without even a single word passed between, the sweetness rises to the top.
That is what I am choosing to look at, the sweetness of life.
Today I’m taking the grime of the road to remind myself that life is sweet. It is all about perspective.
People said my Grandfather had an accent but I never heard it, he was just Gramps to us.
While he did grow up overseas he sounded just like everyone else, no accent. Thinking back on it now I wonder how it was even possible. How did I miss it?
After I got out of the service Gramps and I traveled back home to visit the family, many of these people I had never met.
I remember hearing all of them speak, accents all around but never for Gramps.
I wonder how many things, good and otherwise, in my life that I do not see anymore. Kinda like the pile of papers on the counter that isn’t there until company knocks on the door. You know what I’m talking about.
Not sure how to see the unseen and unhearable but I’m going to try.
A gentle rain was falling the other night and that reminded me of Gramps. Whenever it was misting out he would always say “Tis a soft rain”. Soft rain always reminds me of him.
- How old is he? Oh… 36 months today!
- How long has he been gone? Just about seven months now…
- How long did you serve? Four long and painful years.
I had all these thought about time lately. I am struck how often we feel the need to mark things off. Like seven months is insignificant but six month mark is big. We count the months off to make the ages of our kids but stop at some point, maybe at three or about four years.
In the Corps we marked it with a count down, how many more wake ups you had until you were released. Seems that has more to do with prison time than anything else.
Maybe it has to do with some odd human connection to math or calendars. It has always bugged me a ton.
I saw this quote from henry Rollins about time and it hit home.
“There is no such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as downtime. All you got is life time. Go.”
It hit me and reminded me that the life time we all got is quickly evaporating. We all put off too much. All we got is life time. Go.
Last last few weeks I have spent two hours in a freezing cold lunch room as my daughter practices for an upcoming band concert. Sometimes I dread it. I know that these late nights mean less than one hands worth of sleep.
Tonight the temperature is dropping bringing in cold rain. As I stand under an overhang feeling the cold, damp air I am transported back to another life. Funny how it was only four years but it takes up so much space in my head.
I told someone once that those four years are like dog years so really it was more like twenty eight years long.
I recall many days living soaking wet and cold. Soaking wet and hot. Soaking wet on top of being soaking wet.
It was miserable. Sometimes I miss it.
I think the last time I spoke to my brother we both refused to budge. It was maybe a bit after eight in the morning and he was too busy to leave home. I wasn’t about to drive thirty minutes to go visit him. Now that I think of it we didn’t even talk. We just texted.
Sometimes I regret not driving to see him. Sometimes I wonder why I refuse to give in. Sometimes I wonder why making a simple meal was so time consuming.
I can’t even recall when I last talked to him or what it was about.
Maybe it is just better to remember the good times and not the regrets. Choosing to foucs on the happy lightens the day.
Not until I was 27 did I drive.
Didn’t have a chance when I was a kid. I did have maybe three lessons of driver ed but there was an issue with billing and so I stopped going.
I walked everywhere.
In college I rode my bike.
I didn’t drive until I was 27 and starting student teaching.
I took the above image driving downtown the other day. Most every day I am so thankful to get in my car and drive. No walking. No getting rained on. No sweating through my clothes as I walk. I can buy as much as I want at the grocery and never fear getting it all home.
What I do miss is the processing time I had between school and home. The alone thinking time is something I miss.
Taps had played some time ago indicating it was now well past 22:00, what a way to spend a Friday night. I’m sure those in the armory did not appreciate standing downwind. After working nearly twenty four hours a day for a week leaves you with a unique odor, one you don’t notice until you have showered and your buddies have not.
Spread out before us on a well worn wooden table were maybe six machine guns in various states of assembly. While not an overly complicated machine than many parts covered the entire table from edge to edge.
Heads bent never looking up while engaged in the process of getting these machines qtip clean. This is a maddening task, like crawling under your car and getting every surface clean enough that the Pope wouldn’t dirty his smock if he shimmied his way down there. You know that the second you drive it becomes dirty, like just one round fired and your weapon is dirty as hell.
If memory serves there were four of us and six guns. Not sure if it was true but they say never to mix gun parts, the machine does not work the same if you do that.
As we scrubbed the carbon off the parts somone, I think Besser, verbally asked if someone would pass that shit to him. Without looking Craig picked up the part and handed it over. The second Besser took hold we all stopped cold.
Somehow we all instinctively knew exactly what he needed. On a table of over one hundred parts and countless cleaning implements we all just knew.
Having a solid team is nice, having one that anticipates is something you just need to experience. Sometimes at work you have teams but I’m not sure we can ever get to the same level as what I experienced in the armory all those years ago.
A team that litreally spends every minute of every day for years together is something that I never thought I would miss.
I have written a bunch of posts but never hit the publish button.
Sometimes I worry they aren’t good enough.
Sometimes it is because they are too many choice words. Tim O’Brien mentioned something that made me laugh. He said something to the effect of you can’t expect people in the military to not speak a certain way. The choice language is just how we think, talk and interact with each other.
I drafted a few things about my brother. I am shocked he had my dog tag and Marine Corps ring after all these years. The electrical tape was still on the tag, I wonder if I ever told him what used to be attached to it.
Sometimes I was a random question I had that I thought about texting him but I can’t, he is gone.
Listening to Tim today someone asked him what kind of audience kids should write for. Well maybe that wasn’t the exact question but it is close. He said don’t write for an audience, write for the heart.
Maybe that is what I needed to hear.
It is funny how little things that normally go unnoticed now stick out.
We went out to dinner the other night and got some cake. For some odd reason restaurants try to class up cake with some cut strawberries. Just before the plate was taken I was transported back in time.
I was in my old kindergarten room where I think the desks were as old as the glaciers that once shaped our home state. I remember thinking how this was the same room my brother told his teacher a lie.
All the adults laughed about, they still talk about it today.
I never fully understood why some lies were OK and others were not.
When we were in school parents could bake treats and bring them in to celebrate. Some one in PT’s class had brought in a cake to share, a strawberry cake. PT stated that he was allergic to strawberrys.
After a phone call home my parents laughed.
That day we learned that he didn’t like strawberries and he learned how to tell someone no thank you when he didn’t care for something.
This story all because of the strawberry on the restaurant’s attempt to fancy up the plate.
I bought the domain zombieziotsqaud.com and redirected it to this site. The back story to this is sad and somewhat funny.
I was in Minnesota in the beginning of June, my brother was dying in the hospital. We were all gathered in one of the family rooms talking. At some point a random man walked into the room talking. I was pretty sure he was talking to someone on a bluetooth headset, his hair was pretty long.
After a minute or so he layed down on the ground right in front of one of the doors. I still thought all was good, there were two doors and maybe he was dealing with some pretty heavy news.
I was telling a story about when PT, my older brother, got me a job at Pizza Hut. It was only a temporary gig at some music festival. One of the performers happened to be Sinead O’Connor. The second I mentioned her the floor guy starts singing her songs.
We all stopped talking and just listened. I leaned over to notice he didn’t have a headset in and what I thought was a large energy drink was actually beer.
The guy then started telling stories about how many fights he had been in and that he was part of a gang called Zombie Riot Squad. He kept saying Zombie Riot Squad over and over again.
He wasn’t talking to us or really anyone else. Just talking out loud.
I don’t know why but that name just stuck with me. I felt compelled to buy the domain but I really don’t know why. I just needed it.
I like thinking about it, I know PT would have loved this story.