Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Damage Control

            I am a damaged individual. (Which is the nice way of saying I’m fucked up.) But you know, that really makes me no different than you, or the guy down the street or even the cashier at the local food mart. Everyone I know is damaged in some way or another. It seems to be part of the chronic human condition. Sure, I know there are varying degrees of being messed up in the head and the multitude of reasons, if written on those tiny pieces of paper found in fortune cookies, if stacked one on top of another would most likely stretch to the moon and back and we each deal with the effects of our damage differently. I know I sure did.
            Here’s the thing, you see, while I know we each deal differently with the shit that has happened to us, I try to not let the bad shit get to me or dictate who or what I want to be. It was a hard fought internal war and took years of internal struggle for me to get there. But once I made that decision, I was a much freer and happier person. Now, I’m not saying I’m a well rounded or even balanced individual but I know people who’ve experienced less trauma than I have and they are stunted in their own growth. When I see a person in that situation, I get confused about how they have allowed one or two or hell, even a dozen bad things hold them back from becoming a more relaxed and even pleasant person to be around. It baffles me. But then, I suppose, 20+ years ago, I was in the same boat as them.
            Today, I like to think that most of my anger issues of my past are beyond me. And I truly believe they are, but that does not mean that I don’t occasionally get upset. But the things that upset me are not what they once were. Today, idiot drivers in four wheel vehicles seem to be the bane of my two wheeled life. Simply because, four wheelers and more wheelers rarely see a two wheeled vehicles because we have a smaller sight profile. But now biggie, God gave me two fingers for those people. (See, that is where my anger comes into play).
            Thinking back on all the crazy shit I’ve had done to me and that I’ve experienced, especially now that I write this, it seems that I should be a much angrier person or at least someone who is in an “I love me jacket” in a padded room. But I’m not. I’m sitting here on my front porch towards the end of a long day and talking to you. Why? I honestly don’t know, I wish I did, but I do know that since I’ve started writing my blog over three years ago, I have discovered it serves as an outlet, kind of like a pressure cooker valve, and the things that are released from inside of me, the anger, hate, frustration and even the love and adoration, helps me cope on a daily basis. So my blogging is a good thing, for me at least.
            What is that? You want some history, some details? Nah, no need to go there. I’ve had plenty of experience trying to talk out all the shit I’ve seen and experienced to go into it here. Besides, it would take too long to write it all down… again. You see, one of the many Head Shrinkers I’ve seen over the course of my life have had me write shit like that down on more than one occasion and to tell you the truth, it gets a bit stale. To me at least. Not to mention that every time I followed their instructions, what I wrote ended up in a manila file folder. I can only guess those files are sitting somewhere in a storage facility where no one will ever read them. Thank God for that too.
            So where does all this leave me? Simple, I’ve pegged it down to this, and you can take this part of the blog with a grain of salt if you don’t agree. Everyone is a victim and the only way to overcome being a victim is by making peace with the fact that you were once a victim and switch your mindset from a victim mentality to a survivor mentality. Because that is what I did. I stopped wishing the bad things that had happened to me had not and that the people that did them to me would get their punishment. I gave up on revenge and accepted the fact that I had survived everything I had been through and I could either let the past dictate who I am or I could make myself into an image of a human that I would be proud of. I don’t want now nor ever to be a victim but I do want to be a survivor. Once I made the mental cross over from one to the other,
            It was and is not an easy thing to do. I still have fits of panic and I am more paranoid than anyone I know in my life but I’m in a place where I can keep things in perspective. Hell, at least I’m not packing dead bodies into body bags overseas of friends, sailors and soldiers I served beside. I have friends that have done that, and they are damaged and I wish I could reach out to them and say “It is all going to be OKAY. The things you are going through will eventually make you a better and stronger person.” But to say that to them seems to be an empty platitude right now.
            We are all on a path to self discovery and acceptance. While our goal is the same, our paths are much different and they can be very lonely. If you know someone or are someone in this situation, my heart goes out to you. But, I promise, if you stay the course, work things out in you head to the best of your ability and even if you need help, it is there for you. You will become a better person and you can overcome anything put in your path.
            Of course I could be wrong. (But I don't think I am.)
            Have a great week.

Monday, August 19, 2013


            It is no secret that I was on vacation for a couple weeks and I am now, thankfully, back at work. I don’t do well on vacations. Simply because I end up sleeping a lot for the first couple days and then I become restless and start puttering all around the house and then get bored and then inevitably, trouble. I avoided the getting in trouble part this time but I did sleep and I did putter.
            The first few days were ok. I was truly exhausted and needed the rest but then, I pretty much stopped sleeping. Not that I had insomnia, I didn’t. What I experienced could only be described as lucid sleep and the dreams I had during that time could only be described as disturbing. Now, I don’t normally dream, or more to the point, I don’t remember them. I’m usually so tried after a day of work, whether it is one or two jobs, that when I do finally put my head on the pillow, the land of NOD is soon in my future.
            From what I understand, from the books I’ve read, the television shows I’ve watched and the people I’ve spoken with, dreams are an integral part of our lives. But in all honesty, unlike most people I know, I am truly happy I don’t remember them. I don’t care to remember them nor if given a choice would I want to remember them. This has been my basic state of mind for as many years as I can recall.
            I’m comfortable with this attitude and if the results of the past couple of weeks is any indication of the state of being of my ID, I’m glad I don’t. I’m sure that there are plenty of head shrinkers out in the world that would love to get their slippery fingers inside my gray matter and root around and dig out all the juicy parts that have been repressed or hidden for years but I’m not about to give anyone that right.
            I suppose I should mention that as a child I suffered from all sorts of nightmares and bad dreams. As a matter of fact, I remember my bad dreams from my childhood and don’t remember my good ones. But I don’t think this is a unique trait in me, I believe the bad things, whether in dreams or in reality, stick with us more than the good things. Since this has been my situation all my life, I’ve really come to enjoy the fact that I don’t remember my dreams. To me, it means I didn’t have a bad night’s sleep.
            Last night, for the first time since my break from work, I didn’t wake up once nor did I remember any dreams. I went to bed at my usual time, I woke up a bit late for myself and I actually felt good. So good in fact that I got up out of bed and immediately started my day. I hope this is going to be the first night of many good night’s sleep.

And thus ends my blog for this week. Have a good week everyone.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


            I said goodbye to a friend of mine last week. Her leaving is a good thing. She is going off to further her education and become an even more amazing person. I’m sad about her leaving but I’m also very happy for her. But our journey from friends to old acquaintances is not going to be an easy road.
            It never has been for me.
            Over the past forty-six years of my life I have tried to build barriers, walls so to speak, to keep me from becoming too attached to anyone in temporary existence we all share. Now, I know all the platitudes about how life is better with friends in it. But I find that the loss of a friend is almost as painful as losing a close relative. Actually in some cases it is more painful. To me at least.
            For you see, with a relative, like an uncle, aunt or even cousin you rarely see and is only close to you by the blood that flows through your veins but never really has a close connection to you can’t become the festering open wound of someone you have shared your daily trials and tribulations with. I can’t remember the last time I shared advice with a family member but I can remember the last time I sat down and spoke openly, honestly and also, listened to my friend.
            Which makes this parting tough.
            For me at least.
            I’ve had many friends throughout my life. Not as many as some and certainly not as many as I could have. Right now as a matter of fact I can think of five people in my life that I’m not related to that I have come to think of as close friends. One of whom I see maybe once a month and others I see even less often. Which for me, works. I don’t need to have constant communication with someone to consider them a friend. Hell, I’ve worked with some people for fourteen years and they still don’t know much about me and I don’t know much about them and honestly I don’t really care to.
            Maybe it is a matter of chemistry of personality. Or maybe it is a prejudice against intelligence, or in some cases, for intelligence. I mean how can one truly relate to someone who you have nothing in common with and when you do speak with them you can’t understand why you spoke with them in the first place. I’ve tried to listen to some of these people but when they start talking about their problems, insights and ideas, all I see are solutions, faulty logic and something that has already been done. Is that wrong?
            Am I, are we, as a collective human race supposed to be concerned with every myopic view out of every person’s mouth that comes our way? I don’t think so. I can’t imagine we are wired that way. How could we be? Sure, we can and should be concerned with the plight of the less fortunate in the world but do you or I seek out the company of people we have nothing in common with? I don’t think so. I couldn’t. Although I would love to see some of the Christian right attend a Death Metal concert and for that matter see some Death Metal bands attend a super church, or even a Baptist church.
            No, we are not wired to be friends with everyone nor are we programed to be concerned with things we are not interested in. Point in fact, I can’t get my daughter to listen to almost any rock and roll and she can’t get me to listen to pop music. It’s all about interest and what speaks to our inner id.
            When we do find someone we have a lot in common with, regardless of age, race or creed, we all try to hang on to that person in our lives. We look forward to moments where you can talk openly and honestly without judgment. When we lose someone like that, frankly, it hurts. It leaves a gap that you didn’t know you had before and one that won’t easily be filled. Something that I will not do. I won’t fill that gap. I will leave it open like all the others I have. It will become just another wrinkled and withering scar on my soul. It will help me grow in time. This I know. But for now, it is a painful reminder of what I once had.
            Safe travels my friend.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


            We had just passed Oilsville and Goochland when I glanced down at my odometer, 2424 it read and as my gaze traveled back up to the road I saw my speedometer was creeping past the 80 mark. I smiled under my Navy bandana that I had put on not too many miles back to keep the bugs and road grit from sand-blasting my face and beard. My daughter was riding behind me on my 1200 Custom and occasionally I could feel her fingers trace the skull embroidered on the back of my black hoodie I was wearing to help break the wind. But then, every now and again, she would wrap her hands around my waist and rest her head against my back and give me a big hug. I was tired but not enough to not enjoy the bonding of the day.
            I suppose I should backtrack a bit…
            Are you ready for a shock? Ok, you’ve been warned, I actually took a vacation. Ten full days off from my primary job, the reason for this break in work was supposed to be for me to ride my motorcycle halfway across the country to Texas to attend my U.S. Navy ships reunion. But, due to lack of interest, it was canceled. I was a bit disappointed in the news of the demise of our reunion but I figured that since I already had the time off, I would try and make the best of it. So I planned a trip in an attempt to obliterate the growing disappointment in not seeing friends of days past. Initially I planned to take my trip alone. To go to the home of American Enlightenment and knowledge, but after careful consideration and a long talk with my betrothed it was decided that I should take this time to bond with my daughter.
            Now, to my daughters credit, she has always been very understanding of my work ethic and my need for solitude after a long day of work. My solitude consists of me sitting on my porch, smoking cigars and writing either short stories or blogs. In some cases, both in the same night, also, I usually listen to a variety of podcasts which consists of The Thomas Jefferson Hour and a lot of Kevin Smith Podcasts. Yes, two totally different venues but both very vital to my sanity.
            When my daughter was informed of my plans she readily agreed and didn’t even blink an eye when I told her the restrictions on the articles she was allowed to pack for the trip. Because initially the trip was supposed to take us to Poplar Forrest then on to Natural Bridge with an overnight stay in Staunton, Virginia. The next day was to be spent traveling to Monticello and then head home. This did not happen. Why didn’t it happen? Simple, the directions I printed out were missing several steps. And, being the trained Naval Navigator that I am, I decided to forgo the chance of getting lost and misplaced with valuable cargo and just head for what I know, and what the primary destination was supposed to be.
            Upon arrival we both lost ourselves in the history and ghosts of the “Little Mountain”. Our tour guide was well versed in the Jeffersonian mythology and I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut when she asked questions. I didn’t want to be that kid from school we all hated. You know the one, he or she usually sat in the front of class and always raised his or her hand or just blatantly shouted out the answers to all the questions the teacher asked. Yeah, I didn’t want to be that kid. I didn’t fully succeed and at the end of the house tour, when my daughter and I were exploring the grounds by ourselves we bumped into the tour guide and she commented to us that I knew more about Monticello and Jefferson than she did and I should apply for a job. I took that as a compliment. Although I don’t really want to give up my dream job of playing with trains and building all manner of shit for the museums I work for now.
            My daughter… oh, my daughter, she has always been a morning star for me and today she endeared herself even more to me. During the entire tour she was fascinated and enthralled with every detail of the house, the grounds and the people who built it and worked there. Her quest for information and knowledge of our third president and his entire life on the mountain was endless. When some kids her age, or younger and some older became bored and fussy, she found intriguing things about the flower garden, the vegetable garden, the slave quarters and even the vineyard. We walked and talked for what seemed like endless hours. She described what sort of games she thought the children of Monticello played during their young formative years on the grounds and even became a bit morose when she found out most of Mr. Jefferson’s children died young.
            By the time we left, her thoughts had shifted to food and getting a hotel room so she could go swimming. As we drove through the town of Charlottesville looking for a place to stay my gas light came on we stopped for gas. I took in my surroundings and realized we were less than an hour from Richmond so I sent a text to my pal Jeff who is the Executive Chef at a great Italian restaurant and told him we were in the neighborhood. He replied by saying “C’mon, the foods on me.”
            We hit the road.
            Which is where this blog started.
            Our day started by us chasing the sun and ended by us racing east as the sun raced west. The sun of course won the race, but we, my daughter and I… We won the day.

            Have a great week.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Unexpected Bonding

             So, I’ve started my vacation. Initially I took this next ten days off to ride my motorcycle to Texas to attend my ships reunion. Instead, due to lack of interest, the reunion was cancelled but being the ever prepared three time toss out of the boy scouts; I’ve had a contingency plan in place. The plan involves crossing off some of the things on my personal bucket list.
            Initially, this list was to be completed alone, in solitude without interruption or questions. But now, I seem to have the unique opportunity to share some of these experiences with my     offspring. My daughter. The progeny to my mortal life. This opportunity, a once in a life time chance is one that I can’t pass up. So, instead of packing my saddle bags with my own personal belongings, I am now sharing space with my teenage daughter and traveling to the western part of the Commonwealth of Virginia to visit not just Monticello but Poplar Forrest as well. With, time permitting a side trip to Natural Bridge.
            My daughter has never seen any of these places and I have only been to Natural Bridge once. It was a weekend of insanity with my wife and at the time one of her best friends. We had a blast. Shopped at a creepy Wal-Mart store and even shared a hotel room together. Over that long weekend we bonded in a manner that normally takes years to build the type of friendship we became. Unfortunately, through time and distance, that friendship slowly died the death of time.
            Now, however; I have the chance to not only educate but bond with my own flesh and blood in a manner that rarely presents itself in this day and age for parents. True, it is going to be a road trip without her mother and on a motorcycle. A bike that one experiences major butt sores after ninety minutes of riding but a bonding experience non-the-less. For you see, when you are on a two wheeled vehicle you can’t text, check twitter or even update your facebook feed. All you can do is hang on and enjoy the scenery that is passing by you at the posted speed limit. (That is, if one actually does the posted speed limit.)
            While our destination is historical in nature I hope that our journey will be timeless. Not just for me, but for my child. I hope she realizes that the chance to travel to Mr. Jefferson’s summer home and his primary home is the secondary target and that the time spent on the road with me is the actual goal. A goal that I hope has rewards that will send ripples of memories in her latter days when she is old and looks back fondly at her childhood.
            Memories like these are fleeting in my own timeline. I have few memories of spending alone time with my parents. One memory, I was traveling with my mother to Milwaukee or maybe it was Chicago airport to make sure an air freight issue was handled. We spoke of flying and my interest in aviation.
            Another memory was with my father, he was driving long distance tourist bus excursions and we had been on the road for a week. On the way back to drop off the bus and clean it, he spoke to me as an equal, not a child, not a co-worker, not a subordinate but as someone who had been through all the drunken shit and cleaned up after it as if it meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.
            In my life, those are two memories that will always be cherished. I don’t have many memories of one on one time with my folks and those are the two most prominent in my age addled mind.  Of course I don’t hold anything against either of my folks, after all, I have three sisters and we all come from a broken home. So what I saw as a child and what I understand as an adult have come to war against each other, my adult mind won the war. I know my folks did the best they could with the time they had and the tools at their disposal in a pre-politically correct world. In their world, they did what they thought was best and followed their instincts. They are not at fault for what misgivings I may have felt as a young adolescent or the slight of attention and lack of understanding I felt at the time.
            So, I look forward to this unexpected journey with my only offspring as a great bonding opportunity. I hope she is looking forward to it as much as I am and I hope that she understands how rare of an opportunity this road trip is.

            I hope to have future updates by the end of the week.
            Be good to each other.