Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jesus Walks With Them

Lt. j.g. Bradshaw was bug-eyed, staring straight ahead. He wasn't keeping his excellent military bearing; he wasn't utilizing his Thousand Yard stare. Lt. j.g. Bradshaw had spaced out. He had been up for God knows how long, being run here and there. He was dragged just about everywhere on base in a hurry, and then told to wait. And wait. And wait. And hydrate. And wait.

"God, when will this be over?!" Bradshaw thought to himself. He was frustrated inside, but it only lasted a few moments, and he didn't dare let it slip out and manifest. He had to keep his military bearing; as much of it as he could anyway. Be the rock; be strong. Don't be a prissy brat. Don't show you can't take it, especially not in front of the enlisted. Do NOT be that guy.

In all honesty, he just wanted to hurry up and get to the desert. He had been dreading being shipped overseas and being, quite literally, the Tip of the Spear. It wasn't at all what he had signed up for; they signed him up for this. Thank you, all. But after spending four days in this training environment, he was tired. Lt. j.g. Bradshaw just wanted to hurry up and get to the desert and do his job. He hated having to go there in the first place, but he was going to do his job and do it well. Then he was going to go back home and pray he never had to do it again. The training environment was the real annoyance. He'd get over the desert in time, once he settled in and found his battle rhythm. It would be HIS rhythm. HE would dictate it, as much as possible. Here they told him where to go and what to do and what time to be there. And they told him to wait.

He didn't want to wait anymore.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Devil and God Rage Inside of Me

I've settled into my new digs here at Ft. McCrady, the Army-trains-the-Navy command. It's not bad; it harkens to Marine Week during CORTRAMID, so in that regard, it's not anything I havent been through before. I dont think I'm the most junior officer here (because of LDOs), but I think I'm the most junior PERSON by far. I know the Army doesnt pay much attention to rank, but I really do feel like a youngin' out here with all these people.

It's a funny thing, these feelings that I'm constantly battling with. Of course, I dont want to be here and if I had my choice, I'd choose to be suffering a lack of QoL (Quality of Life) on the #1 ship in the Fleet, but there are definitely some benefits to this IA. The only reservation is that my soul is struggling between dealing with the pros and cons of this deployment now that it has become reality.

For one thing, I'm proud to be here. I will literally be on the tip of the spear. In my career, I've been dealing with feelings of "inadequacy" due to not having achieved anything substantial in my 2 year career so far. This literally puts me in the fight, and is something few sailors (at least back in the day) will ever get to say. Along with feeling like I'm actually doing something in my career, I feel like I'll be learning/doing something BADASS in my career. The Army/Marine Corps are DEFINITELY not a life I'd want to live, but you have to admit, they are badass. This is due to a number of things, but on that list are 1) carrying/using weapons, and 2) badassery missions (things like recon and land nav). What am I doing here? Learning/Being a badass.

Obviously the other side of the feelings that my soul is struggling with is just not wanting to be here. I dont want to do this training. I dont want to be away from my family and my friends and my home and Laurie. I dont want to travel to Afghanistan and I dont want to be in the line of fire and I dont want to be in a war zone where I have to stay alert at all times in order to best be prepared to save my ass if shit hits the fan. That's NOT what I signed onto the Navy to do.

But it's something I have to deal with now.

I can 0nly hope that it's "first day" jitters and that as time goes on and my training continues, I will be more focused and determined to do my mission in the time frame I've been given, then get the FCK out of here and go back home. Or I'll just be more distracted. I've already decided I dont want to deploy with Wasp next year (meaning I will not earn my warfare pin) because Quality of Life is more important to me than rank or awards or accomplishments. I can live without something that will all be just a matter of pride for me.

So stick by me as I battle my own heartaches and emotional shortcomings. I plan to make it out of this all the better.

Being Grown Up...

Mr. Holson gripped the wooden handle of his umbrella in his left hand as he stepped around a puddle. The sidewalk was wet. It had briefly rained earlier that morning, and Mr. Holson had waited for the rain to stop before stepping outside. The rain drops were small and light, but Mr. Holson didn’t want to risk getting wet. It would be a bother to him the rest of the day if he came home wet.

In his right hand, gripped snuggly between his arm and his body, Mr. Holson carried a newspaper. He did not want it to get wet. The rain had stopped, but you could never tell when it might start again. Also, the trees dripped tiny droplets of rain water. Mr. Holson felt the quiet patter of the droplets fall from the trees onto his umbrella and pulled his newspaper more closely to his body.

The newspaper had cost Mr. Holson seventy-five cents. He picked it up every morning from the grocery store that was just down the street from his home, at the corner of his block. Mr. Holson’s son once offered to get Mr. Holson a newspaper subscription. His son told him it would be delivered to his front door every morning before Mr. Holson had even woken up, and it’d save him time because he wouldn’t have to walk down the street for his paper anymore. Mr. Holson refused. He had nothing but time, he told his son. Besides, Mr. Holson liked walking to the grocery store at the corner of his block every morning. He liked that he knew it took exactly fifty-seven steps from the bottom of his front steps to get to the corner store. He liked the wooden, green grocery door that had a little bell attached to it that rang every time he slowly opened the door. He liked how Mr. Curry, a young man in his mid-forties who owned the corner grocery store, greeted him every morning from behind the counter with a big wave and a big smile. He liked the smells of donuts and sugars and fresh apples and coffee that mixed together all at once inside the store. He liked picking up his newspaper from the very top of the stack, the first copy Mr. Curry sold every morning. And Mr. Holson liked walking the fifty-seven steps back to his home, gripping the newspaper under his right arm, the same way he had every morning for the last ten years.

As Mr. Holson took his forty-ninth step from the corner, he turned his gaze from the wet sidewalk below him to the tall building in front of him. The building was old. Blue shudders encased every window, but the paint was faded and peeling. Many of the bricks that lined the front of the building were chipped and eroded. The rails that lined the front stoop up to the door were rusty and creaked whenever you grabbed hold of them.

Mr. Holson looked up at the old building as he reached his fifty-seventh step and arrived at the base of his front stoop. He did not think about how old the building was or how he had lived in it for over twenty-five years. He didn’t think about all the hot summers where he had to prop every window open in order to get some air to blow through his home. He didn’t think about his wife or the music that would flow through the walls and the windows every time she put her favorite record on. He didn’t think about how lonely he had been for the past eight years after his wife passed away. Most of all, he didn’t think about the letter he received four months ago from the city, telling him that he would have to move from his home and take residence up somewhere else.

Mr. Holson did not think of any of these things. He only stood at the bottom of his stoop and stared at the old building, still clutching the newspaper snuggly in his right arm. Mr. Holson stared at the building and sighed a heavy breath of air from his mouth. He looked down at the stoop and began climbing the steps towards the front door.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits

"Did you notice how blue the sky is today?"
Up above, the sky was a bright and vivid blue. There were only a few clouds in the sky, wispy and long, as if someone had stretched them across the sky, trying to cover the endless blue color. It was one of those days where someone would look out their window and decide to go for a slow bike ride with a friend or read a book under the shade of an oak tree or go for a quiet walk in the park; not because they wanted to, but because it would seem like a waste of a beautiful day if they didn’t do something outdoors.
"The temperature is pretty good today too. Not too hot, there's a slight breeze blowing every now then. It's just the right amount of warm."
"Jon, will you take a look at this? I'm having a hard time deciding…what shade of blue the dresses should be…"
Jon didn’t say a word to Kathy and pretended that he didn’t hear her. She wouldn’t notice he had ignored her. She was occupied, looking at pictures of bridesmaid dresses, muttering opinions and thoughts to herself under her breath. Jon knew Kathy was just thinking out loud and she didn’t really want his opinion on bridesmaid dresses. "Wedding details are for the bride anyway," John thought to himself. He refocused his eyes on the sky above him.
"I don’t know why we don’t come out here more often. What's the point of having a patio and a grassy lawn if you don’t come outside and enjoy it as often as you can? I think I want to start coming outside more often."
"Blue and silver? Maybe not a really metallic silver, but something more subdued…almost like a gray…Or maybe white would look nicer? I don’t know. Everything just goes with blue."
"Maybe after the wedding, I'll get a better grill and we can come out here and grill. We can grill steaks, fish, chicken...I heard it's healthier for you anyway; grilling."
"Oh yeah, Jon, did you call your groomsmen? We need to get them fitted this weekend for the tuxes. I know I said they could send their sizes in, but I'd prefer if we just got all of them fitted at one time, order all the tuxes together, and just be done with it."
Jon imagined what his yard might look like a year from now. The patio was a good size, but maybe new patio furniture would be good. If he was going to get a grill, he should get new furniture so everyone could sit outside while he cooked. His wife and their guests would look out at the grass and admire how well he kept his lawn. They'd comment on how perfect the weather was; how it wasn’t too warm and how great the breeze felt, blowing across the yard every now and then. Then they'd all look up and just stare blankly at the few wispy clouds that seemed to be stretched across the blue sky.
"Honey, look at that cloud."
Kathy looked up, following Jon's finger to a puff of cloud. She didn’t think it looked like anything. She looked at all the other clouds, using her hand to shield her eyes from the sunlight, trying to see if maybe there was another cloud Jon was pointing to that looked like an animal or a car or a dragon or something. Then Kathy just stared at the sky.
"Did you notice how blue the sky is today?"