Posts Tagged ‘change’

I have been struggling this last year to write anything of worth.  I just do not seem to have it in me since I went out on retirement leave last October to put thoughts to words.  Writing my annual 9/11 piece seems to be just as difficult a process as anything else I have to to put down over the last few months.  Do not get me wrong, the thoughts are there in my head, the act of getting them down has been failing though.

In my first year of civilian life I had hoped to write this one with just a little bit different perspective to influence my words.  After all I started this whole thing three, almost four, years ago to help clear the anger out of my head and do something a little more constructive with my limited creative side than simply allowing dark thoughts to take up space and fester in my head.  At the end of the day, if it were not for 9/11 and all that has changed because of that day I do not think I would have entered this medium as a form of therapy.  Chances are good I would have never realized that I needed some sort of outlet and like many other Americans would have lived a much different life.

Something I have come to realize in the 14 years since the attacks is that we not only need to remember what happened that day and those we lost, we need to also remember the person we were prior to that day as well.  We all changed, for some it was a significant change, while for others it was hardly noticeable. Some of us in the ensuing years have come to realize the type of person we really were, while others, too many others, have become lost in themselves and barely resemble the who that they were before the attacks.

Many, too many, of my Brothers and Sisters have chosen to end their story long before the last chapter is written.  It is commonly accepted that 22 Veterans per day end their lives.  22 souls who could no longer wander, trying to get back to who they were or come to grips with their experiences but were unable to.  It may be that for some, they either could not remember the events that led to their experiences nor the thoughts and reasons why they took those steps in the days and years after.  It is possible for many it is the polar opposite, they remember all too well how they were changed that day and forever are tied to their actions in the ensuing years, unable to make a break away from their personal changes or simply unable to accept them.

9/11 changed many things for many people.  Some of us stayed at war until we left the service; for many they remain at war even though they are a long way away from their days in combat.  The country latched on to a short-term, intense patriotism, supporting revenge, justice, vengeance or any other adjective to describe what has continued as a conflict without end.  I do not blame anyone for this, we all lost someone or something of ourselves that day and America is known as a nation you do want to have to defend your backyard from.  We need to remember that day because it is the day we all moved as a nation, from who we were to who we are now.

The lives of our current and future generations was radically altered in the days since 9/11.  After the initial closeness and drawing together, we have exploded outward and become polarizing and extreme.  The thing that initially brought us together in our grief, morning and collective desire for vengeance has also shattered our old way of life, turning it into something almost unrecognizable at times.  We always disagreed, but eventually there was some form of compromise for the country.  Now there is a hostile polarity from which compromise is only reached from a position of dominance and for the good of the party.  The ignorant have a greater voice than the wise, who are often labeled in the antithesis of what is considered an American.  People who believe everyone should have a fair shake at accessing anything as anyone are called socialist while people who would have you believe the belief system is the only way and it is how we should be governed are totally ignorant of the fact that is the same philosophy as those who decided to attack us that day.

We do need to remember.  The many lives lost.  The friends and families of those lost.  Those who witnessed the acts live or on television.  The heroes who lost their lives moving to the destruction to help others to live.  The passengers who chose a farmers field rather than to be used as a fourth weapon of destruction.

Most of all we all need to remember who we were before that day, individually and collectively.  We may not have been any better people than we are today, but we are all radically altered in the years that have followed.  Just a couple of months after the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 next year we will be choosing the next leader of the country.  We need to decide whether we want to continue the cycles and dynasties that we have allowed or if we want to try something new and see where it goes.

Remember the events of 9/11 and the people we lost that day and in years since.  History will judge our actions since then as a nation and whether that pivotal event portended our downfall or our ascension.  Patriots Day is a day of reflection brought about by noble actions in response to a most ignoble event.  Take a moment in your busy day today and think about that day, the memory is yours, reflection is good.  Time may close some wounds but it does not mean they are healed.

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It’s a Lonely Life

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

While I have not quite reached the goal line yet in my career, hell, I have not even hit the Redzone yet, I am starting to see the end come near.  As the end grows closer and closer I have been more introspective.  Part of that introspection revolves around all the time I have spent away from my loved ones.

I was not married when I enlisted.  As a matter of fact when I met the tiny enchantress who would become my wife, I had absolutely no desire for a relationship, never mind a long distance one which would turn into a marriage just six months later.  Seventeen years, two kids, too many pets to remember and all those years I left them by themselves in Fayettenam, we are still together but living apart as they settle in our final home waiting for my impending retirement.

I spent the first eight years of my career training and waiting for what soldiers do, go off to war and fight for their country.  The last 11 years it feels like I have been away from them more than I have been with them.  Granted the last year has been by mutual design rather than good old Uncle Sugar’s ever present requirements, but it still just adds to the melancholy of it at times.

The life of a soldier is filled with ever-present surrounding of teammates, many of whom fill the void of family by surrogate.  They become your brothers and sisters.  They are around during some of the most intense times in your life and despite the differences between you, understand the life like only a fellow veteran can.  In many ways they they know you better than your loved ones do.  Many of us, by circumstance or inability cannot make the transition back to the ones we leave behind, no matter how well they support us when we are gone.

I have been fortunate to have a wife who has been able to live our life without me being there.  She has raised our children, kept our home, completed two college degrees, moved across the state and done all those things normal families share equally in each and every day.  Many of those I have served with or been leader to have not had the same benefits that I have.  Through good times and bad they have been there over and over again.  Even today when I get my occasional weekend reprieve with them it is still more about me being there with them and trying to let me enjoy what will be my home than anything else.  In the short time we have had our new home it feels more like one than the empty nest that I spend most of my time in and have done so, when not deployed for close to two decades.  It is warm, inviting, safe and filled with those who love and miss me.

We see many ugly things in our careers. The ugliness is not all death, neither that which we visit upon our enemies, nor that which can befall our closest comrades.  The ugliness can be the policy, the politics, or seeing the inability of leaders who send you into harms way to make something out of the sacrifices.  It is the disappointment of the short memory of the populace you defend to see what the cost for their freedoms has been to us and their inability to do for themselves rather than hold their hands out.  It is seeing my fellow veterans fall to their own demons or take it out on those around them because it is a sign of weakness to do what they need for their own stability.  Yet, in all that ugliness that is out there I have been graced with a force of nature in my family that both draws me to it and constantly reminds me that I would give all I have to insure they can live all their natural days.

I miss the days when we used to write letters.  Email, social networks, text messaging and all those other “conveniences” has removed some of the personal from our lives.  In 12 years of war we have moved from waiting for the resupply to see if we have a letter or package waiting for us to 144 characters of abbreviated language.  We have evolved, much for the better, some for the worse.  In all that change I have felt lonely but never alone.

In my wife and children I have home.  It is a lonely life being a soldier, especially, because in many ways it is our own selfishness that leads us down the road we walk.  We choose to stay in knowing what we sacrifice and leave behind.  We also know at the basest levels of our desires what it is we need when we come back and selfishly seek it out.  It is only in a family that can accept that, whether they understand it or not, that we can define what makes us whole.  I can exist and survive on my own.  I simply have no desire to do so.  I have run every gamut of emotion that comes with a family and would not replace it for the world and would be a much lesser human being for it.

So, while I am occasionally lonely, I am never alone.  I do not think every change in this world is for the better, but I will roll with the punches as they come even after I get to live with my family again, in our home.

Love you guys.

 

 

Just about eight years ago my very pregnant wife and I were doing some serious work putting together what would be our daughters nursery.  We put in new carpet, a lavender paint and on one wall a very large mural.  We placed a large tree in a garden and throughout the room and on the mural we placed a variety of butterflies.  As my little princess grew, we changed her crib into a bed, but the room essentially stayed the same.

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Until today, that little labor of love stayed in tact.  Even after we moved everyone to our future home, I could not bring myself to do anything with either child’s room.  It has been a bit depressing thinking about doing anything with it despite the fact that I have known for months that I need to get off my ass and start prepping this house for whatever will happen with it in the future.  No matter what though until this weekend the most I could do was clean the room it has just been too much to think about with all the other changes in our lives lately and those that I know are on the horizon.

If everything goes according to plan, next month we will close on what will hopefully be the last house we ever buy.  Our new home, sits about mid-way up a mountain in a beautiful neighborhood.  We will move everyone into it in June, just as the kids finish school for the year.  The one unfortunate thing about the new home is that the kids will have to change schools from the ones we just put them into this year.  It will not be too daunting for them and they are moving into schools that are comparable or better to the ones they are in currently.

The reason I finally got a start on prepping the house is that I picked up a boarder this weekend and while the rooms are clean a princess’ palace garden theme and camouflage room are not really suitable for business.  So it was with a heavy heart that I got myself together and went to purchase the paint and other supplies needed to do what I have know I have needed to do for several months now.

I am normally not what you would call a sentimental fellow, most that know me would attest to that, but the very last thing I first put the primer on was the mural.  That thin white paint did little more than fade the mural and the very colorful butterflies just a little bit.  Once I started putting the first coat of paint on, that little tree of life taunted me as the most prominent pieces of it decided they were going to shine through.  A little while later with the second coat a couple of the butterflies and that damn sign were still giving me fits.  Finally, after I got the third coat on the mural wall, all I could see was the mural in my mind, right where it was supposed to be.  I just closed my eyes before this sentence and I could see it all, in its glory right where it was.  I truly hope that when I get back from work tomorrow, after letting the paint set-up overnight that something does not decide to be stubborn and pop its head through.

So, why was something as simple as painting a room such an endeavor for someone as non-sentimental as me?  This has been the only home that my children have known.  We bought it and have lived in it since before even our son was born.  This coming September will be 18 years.  Up to this point, our entirely too small home has been exactly that, a home.  The only reason we have not fixed it up and sold it so far is that it would cost me more to live in an apartment as I work towards retirement.

So, why the title of a Shinedown song for this post?  Other than the fact that my little girl sings it beautifully, as I was working through the emotions of changing something that has meant so much to both me and my wife, I realized a slightly alternative meaning to the song.  The butterflies are pretty obvious.  Gia-bear has been my butterfly princess since the day she came home from the hospital.  The crow, that is time and all the change that comes along with it.  You cannot stop it and along with it the change just keeps on coming.  My little girl is growing up, she is not much shorter than her mom at this point.  My little man, is just a hair bit shorter than me and I expect by the end of the year to be looking him in the eye without looking down hell, I may even be looking up at them.  Time, she is a fickle bitch, and just like the crow eats up all the scraps, leaving you not much beyond memories.

Now that one room is done, the other will go a bit easier, as will the rest of the work that needs to be done around here.  Time goes on, my kids will continue to grow and me and my wife will continue to get older.  Fortunately, she has some dynamite genetics and looks even more beautiful today than the day I met her.  Here is a full length view of our garden scene.

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And for your listening pleasure the song behind the title:

My wife and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary today.  There have been ups and downs through the years, just like in any marriage.  Unlike many marriages today, however, we have managed to make it this far and I see no reason why we cannot double that time together.  Through all these years we have made it through our obstacles both because of who we are, and, in spite of who we are.

As much as my wife and I complement each other, literally and verbally, we have some diametrically opposed opinions as well.  There have been a few occasions where those opinions have caused us just a wee bit of heartburn, but we always manage to make it through.  Despite ourselves, we can manage to work through things, even those things we thought we would never make it through.  We have not come out unscathed from any of our largest battles, but we have come out wiser, more patient and most of the time a little more sympathetic to the other persons side.

We went out last night to get away from the house for a little while.  A couple times each month we head to downtown Fayetteville and see the Horrible Folks Comedy Troupe.  They are an improv comedy group that puts on quite an entertaining show.  As we were sitting in Pierros, waiting for the 11:30 start time, my wife and I began a discussion about how the 20 to 30 somethings that were running around town actually had it a bit lucky.  They grew up with and hang out with folks of such diversity, and this was happening in the South, before our eyes.  You see, despite the fact that we may have had friends of different color or ethnic backgrounds, there was very little likelihood that we would have been able to date one.  At least not without trying to keep it somewhat on the DL.  Today, that is not an issue so much, but growing up in the 1980’s we were the generation that actually started the switch to differing ethnicities being able to date and have a relationship.

Despite the changes that still need to come in this country, the youth of today are never going to realize that within a couple generations in the past they would not have been able to take their diverse friendships for granted the way they are today.  In spite of all the right-wing psychobabble about the immorality of the gay community and how they are not entitled to the same rights as everyone else, they are making and preserving friendships that will make all the hatred and filth spewing a thing of the past, or at least the minority voice.  Our youth have something that we did not have when we were there age, access to the diversity, simply because it is all around them.  They have also had ten plus years of examples from other cultures which do not have the same level of imperfect acceptance we do today.  War is great for providing examples of what needs to be changed in society, especially a long running war.

The downtown of Fayetteville has been instrumental in fostering this diversity as well.  When I first moved here in 94, downtown was a place for fighting and @$cking.  You could get whatever drug you wanted, hit a variety of topless bars, and find the prostitute of your flavor, whether that be ethnicity or gender; yes more that one of those ladies of the shadows had an Adam’s apple or could be found standing at a urinal next to you in one of the downtown bars.  Finally, as the mid 90’s started to give way to the new millenium, there started to be a bit of a Renaissance of sorts.  Today, this same area has an avid nightlife, numerous eateries, to include the awesome Huske Hardware House Brewery, and two museums that I am aware of.  Things have changed in good-olde Fayettenam in the last 17 years and it has added diversity in activity, commerce, and especially within the clientele that uses it.

In the grand scheme of things our 17 years together is not that big of a number, after all my parents are going to have their 43rd anniversary this year, more than twice what we have together so far.  If you take a little time to reflect through your years together with your significant other and look at the change that has taken place around you, it is quite a bit of history that you have witnessed.  Us children of the 1970’s were the first generations to start taking advantage of the benefits of the civil rights movement.  Those young’uns that still need to be carded to buy alcohol are in many cases the direct results of those benefits as they bring their blended families in to the norm, rather than as a rarity in the community.  This is a good thing, a great thing, and it needs to continue to evolve and encompass more.

As my wife and I go through our life together, I will retire in just a couple of years from a career I never knew would last as long as it has.  My wife will begin her next career in an area that is not here, and our kids will finally get to do what many of the other kids in their lives have done through the years, move.  Stability has never been a problem, since the only person in the family who has ever gone from Fort Bragg is me while on deployment.  So for our next 17 years we will have some of that secret ingredient that has made us successful so far, a little bit of separation.  We will eventually come together and not have our careers keeping us apart for any length of time.  Like everything else, we will have to adapt to that challenge, if we do not, it will get rough.

To my lovely wife, I love you much.  I have loved our life together so far, the good and the bad.  I love the changes we have been able to witness in ourselves and the environment around us.  I hope to have at least this much time more together to see what we can reminisce about as we move closer to 40 years together.  It should prove to be interesting.

Love ya,

Me