Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Post Memorial Day Thoughts

            Another Memorial Day has come and gone and I was fortunate enough to not have to work. Post-Nuclear families were preparing the bar-b-que pits and grills for an afternoon of overindulgence in tubed meat smothered in a rainbow of condiments. Secret recipes for potato salad, macaroni salad and delicious deserts were guarded better than the entry gates of airports by the TSA.
            Fathers and sons rush to get the yard ready for the first cookout of the year hopefully in time to get down to the local parade route and find a good seat in the shade near the grandstands. If they don’t finish in time they send the women-folk out to secure the enviable spots. All the while, local school bands, VFW posts, car dealerships and businesses along with some municipal departments are staging their floats near the start of the parade route. The chaos and lack of organization of these staging areas raise blood pressures in the event organizers. Miniature cars are carefully offloaded by the local Khedive and clowns practice making animals out of balloons under the nearest shade trees. Occasionally a golf cart with a large water cooler on the back goes by all these people and a crowd quickly forms to get hydrated before the long march. A fight may break out, then again, when it doesn’t, people are surprised.
            I want to say I am fortunate enough to live in a city that has the longest running Memorial Day Parade, but I can’t. I’ve attended this parade and have even participated in the madness of driving through the streets and waving at all the nice folks that took time out of their lives to come see us. But, over the years, the commercialization and rudeness of the parents who walk along the route with their kids and screaming to everyone within earshot “That’s my KID! The one playing the tuba! Ain’t he/she great!” all the while puffing on a cigarette and pushing people out of their way. It’s downright shameful.
            But that is just one small factor in why I’ve stopped attending these parades. A few years ago I had an epiphany. It was while I was standing on the side of the road watching the Vet’s walk by. Some were middle aged, some in their sixties and a few, well, I hate to guess how old they were but I knew they served in WWII. These men, sorry ladies you were not represented, all carried themselves with as much military bearing they could manage. Even the guy in the wheel chair was at attention as he wheeled himself in formation with the rest of his brethren of fire. I felt sad for them and all the men and women who served but were not with us anymore. As the crowd cheered and clapped for them with little enthusiasm. A local marching band followed behind these men and the crowd erupted in applause that is usually garnered for stadium bands the bile in my stomach began an escape attempt from my body.
            The disgust I felt for the people around me was so tangible I quickly made my way to the back of the crowd, sat down and put my head in my hands. I am a vet, I served, I gave four years of my youth for this country along with countless pints of blood, sweat and tears. I rarely talk about my time in the service, well, the details that is, with people in my life. Sure I have Sea Stories I occasionally divulge when someone asks about the Navy. But I reserve all the bad shit for the men I served with or the men that have served. Which is one of the reasons I stay away from the VFW’s, I don’t want to open old wounds. Wounds that will never truly heal, but have a nice layer of scar tissue as tough as any metal on earth. But none of what I suffered could be compared to the vets of Viet Nam or WWII or even the Gulf War Vets. But I felt the pain that was conveyed in their eyes. Anyone who has been in the military knows this look, it is a look that says a person has had too little sleep, too much work and too much stress. These men had it, even though years had passed since the incidents that had caused them to lose the part of themselves in some foreign country and never to find it again. Sure they fake it occasionally, quite convincingly to most people but a VET can look into another VET’s eyes and know immediately they are a brother.
            Sitting there on that stump, behind a crowd of screaming parents, and watching a group of clowns throw candy at the little children on the curbs I made up my mind to boycott most Memorial Day festivities. The writing on the wall was clear; the good citizens just don’t understand the toll the War Machine of America takes upon its volunteers. They never will. How can they? They are fed the pabulum of quick entertainment through the media and thinking how special their mediocre tuba playing kid is. They don’t understand that every day the good men and women from places in their country they have never heard of are dying on foreign soil for their freedoms. Freedoms they take for granted.
            So on this Memorial Day, I went for a motorcycle ride on an American Made motorcycle. And while I was on that ride I thought about all the men I knew when I was in the Navy who are no longer with us. I also thought about the men I occasionally see at my ships reunion. I thought about my Uncle, my Father, my cousin and my brother in laws, all who have given at least four years of service to this country to try and make it a better place for each and every one of us. I said more than a few prayers for everyone I knew and didn’t know who served, suffered and died for our native soil.
            The ride wasn’t long enough but then I don’t think any ride would be long enough to fully grasp the scope of what men and women have given to this country so that it may remain free. I would love to say I made peace with my distaste for the celebratory nature people have taken with this holiday, but I can’t. I hope someday the proper attitude is given to our departed, maimed and tortured souls who’ve served us. They are the nameless and faceless men and women who we will never truly know. Yes, some of their names are on monuments around our country and we can go look at them any time we wish. But do you really know what type of person they were? What type of person they would have been? Or even, what type of person they are today?
            So, even though Memorial Day has come and passed, I am still haunted by all the brave Soldiers, Sailors and Medics who have served and are serving our country to this day. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!
            Now, please, go out there and thank a vet and try to be as sincere as possible.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Freedom and Liberty

                There is a constant crusty build-up of salt in the corners of my eyes, the skin on my face is wind burned and tanned, my long hair, which is in a ponytail, is constantly tangled beyond belief and I continually check my goatee for bugs alive or dead.
                When it is seventy-five degrees out I am wearing long sleeves and usually a leather coat. I wrap my hands in tight leather gloves that are stained creased to keep my fingers from being chapped. My legs are pale to the point of being almost opaque from wearing thick denim pants. My feet are shod in thick leather boots and my walk is stiff and heavy.
                I’m like this because I ride a motorcycle. Something all my life I’ve dreamed of and you would think after putting 1100 miles on my bike since I bought her, but it isn’t enough. Even after riding for 150 miles in one day and coming home with a sore ass and tired arms I can’t get enough. The reason for this longing is simple. It’s the closest I have ever felt to being completely free. Just me, my machine, and a never ending need for speed and asphalt eating.
                My morning commute is too short, a mile to work which I used to cover in five minutes in my car and three minutes on my bicycle, now takes me almost twenty minutes because I circumnavigate my journey. The same goes for my ride home in the afternoon or late evening. I can’t help it, it is something that makes all of life’s worries, cares and stresses disappear with the throaty, low rumble as soon as I hit the start button on her. (For those that do not know, modern motorcycles do not have a kick starter, everything is electronic and fuel injected on Harley’s now. Hell, even the blinkers have an automatic shut off.)
                I find myself at varying times during my work day dreaming about being on the road, or making plans to head up to the Shenandoah Valley or even better heading down to North Carolina and riding the Tail of the Dragon. It seems to be an all-consuming desire in me to just ride and forget everything in my life for the duration. I’ve been more relaxed and I even smile and make small talk to people I’ve avoided even looking at in the past. My disposition seems to have changed all because the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
                But what I find most interesting is the people in my life have all been supportive of this change in my transformation from a driver to a rider. Well, all but two people who seem to think my new mode of transportation will maim or worse, kill me. And, while they do have some valid points as to accidents involving motorcycles, most of which involve the “Speed” bikes, which mine is not, I pay little heed to their sneers and comments as they look down their nose at me. I know the dangers of riding and the fact that most drivers pay little or no heed to us. Mainly because we take up less room on the road and drivers for the most part are looking for other drivers, not someone on two wheels traveling down the same road as them. Because of this, almost every rider I know, with the exception of some of those knuckleheads I see on TruTV who are trying to do stunts at sixty miles an hour down a busy interstate, are very cautious of the way they ride and whether or not they are in some ones blind spot.
                If a rider knows he is in a blind spot, he quickly moves to make themselves more visible. A simple thing to do but sometimes you just can’t do it so you slow yourself down and then act. Which brings me to the one question I am asked above all else, “Why are bikes so loud?” the answer is simple, the noise from a bikers pipes makes drivers more aware of them. And to be totally truthful, since I don’t have a radio and I don’t listen to my Zune while riding, the glorious and steady beat of my bike is my music. A symphony to my ears and other riders out there, besides, I’d rather listen to my engine than the music being blasted at me from the insides of some of the cars I am sharing the road with.
                Freedom isn’t free on this mud-ball we share and we are all striving to find our place within the grand social networking world, I’ve found my freedom. A freedom from the small plastic, glass and super-chip “smart” phone in my pocket and the never ending barrage of information that comes at each one of us faster than the speed of thought, and that comes in the form of a V-twin engine, two wheels and the joy of disconnecting from life for even a few minutes each day. Come to think of it, I have more liberty with my mode of transportation now than ever before in my life.
                Every day I hear people grumble about traffic jams, the cost of fuel and other drivers going through “Road Rage”. I don’t have those problems now. I look forward to getting out on the road and riding. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like driving in a car or truck and try to avoid it, even on rainy days or cold days. I just open myself up to the weather and the rest of my environment and thank God for giving me even a few minutes of freedom.
                I do this because I am a biker and I can’t believe I waited so long to become one.
Have a great week.

Friday, May 17, 2013


                It has been a long and arduous week for me. I’ve traveled over thirteen hundred miles, saw some family I haven’t seen in quite some time and when I got home, I got sick. So sick that I ended up in bed for two days straight, I slept most of that time and had some very odd dreams. Dreams I won’t go into right now because I know it will reveal more of me than I want to reveal. But I will say that when I awoke from my stupor the bags that have been accumulating under my eyes for the past year, had receded only leaving a slight discoloration in the skin around my eyes. I had missed two shifts at my primary job and one at my secondary job and I was still tired, congested and groggy. Yet I felt a lot better than I had in a while. So today, Friday, I got up and went to work, I lasted a half a day.
                By noon, my coughing had increased and the achiness in my joints was becoming unbearable. I was afraid that if I stayed at work much longer I would not be able to ride Bernadette home. So I left early and came home. Climbed into bed and tried to sleep. It didn’t work. I tossed and turned for ninety minutes before I grabbed my computer and decided to write a blog for you.
                This blog really won’t be much to read, I do have to say that the story I wrote and sold on spec for an anthology to be released in June has been now cancelled. It appears there was some sort of issue with the publisher that I won’t go into here. Needless to say, I’m not happy about it but it does afford me one more finished story to submit somewhere else at a later date. Which brings me to my current work in progress, it is now officially novella length and almost complete. I figure I have about two thousand more words left to wrap it all up and then it is off to the pre-readers and editors for the red pen desecration. This story has no home and was not written for a submission. It was written for me to put to rest some things in my past. It most likely will never find a home but that is ok with me too. I’m happy to have just been able to write it.
                As for my trip north, I think I covered it in my last blog but I have to say I did manage to get some rare, quality, one on one time with my mother. It has been years since we have been able to sit down uninterrupted and talk to each other. Not as Mother to Son or vice versa, but Adult to Adult and it felt good. Sure we rehashed old thoughts and feelings but other insights were divulged as well and that makes me feel good. It also makes the entire crazy assed trip worth it. Sickness and all.
                So, while I sit here, trying to regain my healthy status, I am filled with warm thoughts and memories of a week filled with ups and downs.

                Have a great week.

Friday, May 10, 2013


                So, instead of sitting on my porch this week, I am sitting on a patio in the middle of Michigan surrounded by family. Half of whom I’ve managed to upset within five minutes of being in their presence. I know I my humor is an acquired taste; they say absence makes the heart grow founder I find that to be quite the opposite when it comes to family. In one sentence I managed to alienate myself from them and it took an act of bribery and contrition to get them to talk to me again. All because of something I have said on numerous occasions in front of them. But, it seems they don’t like me saying those facts in front of the general public.
                Alas, all is well and we are getting along. I can’t really remember the last time we were all in one spot, yet it seems we fell right back into our old rolls. Old jokes, stories and memories are shared easily and readily. I am not much for words in these situations with the exception of the occasional snarky remark which seems to garner disdained looks from some and laughter from others. As far as I’m concerned I just don’t really care one way or the other. It seems my attitude from my youth has progressed into my adulthood.
                I believe part of the reason for this attitude is due to the fact that for the most part I am an unsocial creature. Sure, I have friends I talk to and co-workers who are close to me and those people understand my morbid humor and jocular insults. It comes from the fact that what I have to say usually involves long drawn out explanations or diatribes. And if you’ve been in any conversation with me you know that last statement is true. Hell, since you are my dear reader you know what I say is true, and for me, there is no amount of mental therapy that can change this character trait in me. Trust me, I know.
                I digress…
                So, I am surrounded by family members in an ad-hoc reunion to celebrate my Mothers retirement two days before Mother’s Day. The best gift I believe I could give my mother this year is to show her how much she has meant to me over the years. Given, our relationship has been rocky at best, which seems to be a theme with me and all of my family. I don’t know why this is nor do I really care. I never have and I don’t think I ever will. This fact, along with others seems to have slipped from some of my families memories; my affront on their sensitivities actually brings me amusement. But not for the offensive nature I relish in, but more for the observation of the hypocrisy that is the human condition.
                For you see, I know for a fact that we as a human race have a tendency to talk in sarcastic tones and offensive jokes with people we are close to. Yet when we are the recipient of those verbal attacks we become angered and offended when after all, we have done it ourselves. This flaw of mankind is a constant amusement to me. I know that in a perfect world, if as John Locke said, we truly are born as a tabula rasa, all of our learned traits would be of love, caring, joy and peace. But we are not in a perfect world, we are imperfect creatures subject to jealousy, rage, anger and the misinterpretation of actions and words by the ones we are around. This is especially true of family.
                I try to not release into the world most of the thoughts that flutter from the myst of haze that surrounds each of us. The haze that holds all our ideas before we even have them, the same haze I tap into with my muse to write stories and blogs. This ether is a living and tangible thing to me, something that I can actually see and touch in a metaphysical sense. Some people, artist, writers and musicians are very familiar with this part of the world and some live there so long they get lost in that mist and have a hard time finding their way back. If you don’t believe me, hang out with some of the fore mentioned creative personalities and you will soon discover a plethora of new words and descriptions that will blow your neophyte brain.
                I think this is where the issue of communicational breakdown has its true foundations. This ether foundation is an insubstantial structure which is subject to one’s own imagination. Which is where the communication breakdown happens, shit, I wasn’t going to explore this topic and yet here I am going on and on about the internal workings of the creative minds of people I know and people I don’t. So, I broke my own code. What does that make me?
                Simple, it makes me a blogger who is seeking truth and acceptance from the people in my life all the while pretending I don’t really care.
                Ok, enough insight. Time to go piss of some more relatives.
                Have a great week.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tired Ramblings

It’s been a long week here in the heart of the South. I don’t even know where to begin. My emotions have fluctuated in time with the temperatures we have been experiencing. Lack of sleep, excess of work and untold mileage under the wheels of my motorcycle as well as a rental U-haul and the museums van have left me exhausted and in a state of mental as well as physical fatigue. I don’t know how much time I have left in this conscious state of being and I foresee an epic night of sleep ahead of me.
                Now as I sit here on my porch, smoking a cigar, listening to the kids of the neighborhood argue and play as Warren Zevon pumps his tales of an excessive lifestyle from my speakers I can’t help but wonder if my taste in music has influenced my lifestyle. Next week I shall be making another trek to sights unknown and in one sense I’m looking forward to it, in another, I’d much rather spend the time off in a drug fueled coma. So that maybe, just maybe I will wake on the other end refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to begin anew.
                Is that possible? To emerge from a cocoon as a human and be ready to take on all the responsibilities you’ve left behind so many hours earlier? I don’t know. I try not to think about it. I try to just face each challenge the coming day brings and not think about the never ending process of the repetitive nature of work. I want to believe it is. But I also want to believe I will someday win the Bajillion dollar lottery. Both prospects seem unlikely right about now.
                But, this is not why I sat down to talk with you this week. What I wanted to tell you, well actually warn you about is this: I have a new story being published very soon. This is another short story but it is unlike any other that has been published. This is my take on a ghost story, the story will be in an anthology to be released in just a few short months and I hope each and every one of you will pick up a copy and let me know what you think. When I am able to announce more details of this tome I will post here as well on my Facebook page and twitter accounts, but for now, all I can say is; you’ve been warned.

                Have a great weekend.