Friday, August 27, 2010

The end of the road

  I started writing this post on Friday, which was my last day on the job, but I never finished. What I wrote was very much straight from the heart, and probably a little bit overdramatic. After nine years in that career, it was to be expected.
  The song I posted above is one of my favorite marches, and I've heard it played many times live during formations or award ceremonies or changes of command. It's a beautiful piece, and I always feel like it really embodies patriotism. Listen to it, and listen to it loud. Don't watch the goofy video, it will only detract from the experience. Hearing this tune last week, as my hours were running out, honestly got me a little emotional.
  It was an amazing near-decade. I got to do things and go places I never thought I would. I saw things that fascinated me, inspired me, broke my heart, and horrified me. I feared for the lives of comrades who went into harms way and mourned the few that never returned. I experienced the deepest throes of fear, of paranoia, and of victory, and I proved to myself that I can do anything. I lived an entire separate life in the same space as my own.
  Now, that life is over, and I'm on to just being me. It's a major upheaval in my world, and the beginning of the realization of a dream I've had since I was seven. This new life comes at an incredible cost, but it's something I can't deny myself. It's going to be a lot of work, I know, and it's going to mean some lean times.
  But I've never felt more free.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All cylinders firing

  With only a few days left here in sunny Virginia, I'm finding there isn't a spare moment to breathe. Between my job responsibilities (yes, I'm working right up until the last possible hour), packing everything up for storage, running multiple moving sales on Craigslist and a multiple auctions on Ebay, dealing with real estate agents and their clients coming into my house every day, taking donations to Salvation Army, taking other donations to Studio Theatre, and ordering and/or shopping for required school gear, I'm a bit taxed.
  Add to that cancelling all my services and subscriptions, establishing a foreign bank account and a foreign phone and trying to find a flat to rent. Also, my visa might not come back from the consulate in time, so now I have to change my outbound plans and remain in Virginia instead of driving back to Albuquerque. This means a cancellation/last minute rebooking of my flight to London, and suddenly having to sell my Jeep locally.
  Life's been this way for months now, and I will be so incredibly grateful when this process is over. I'm used to burning the candle at both ends, and to having to adapt constantly to new plans, but this is even testing the limits of my resolve. I just keep telling myself "Eyes on the prize." Great rewards rarely come with no battles beforehand, right?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Fakesgiving!

  Yes, it's that time of the year again, for the first time ever. That doesn't make sense, but neither does Fakesgiving. It's a new holiday that I invented this year so that I could properly celebrate Thanksgiving early. I figure that this could be the last really fantastic meal that I'll have for a while after I become a student again.
  With only two weeks left here, I decided I would go out in style. Now, I'm no stranger to cooking a TG feast. I love to cook, as you all know. I did my fake holiday proud with all the normal fixins: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread rolls, yams, and for dessert, a made-from-scratch apple pie. Yeah, you can say it. I kick culinary ass. I knocked the whole thing down with a really good Cabernet.
  Besides the good eats, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to truly express my thanks and gratitude for all the amazing blessings I've had in my life this year. That's kind of the whole point of Thanksgiving, and, because I invented it, Fakesgiving as well. I said a prayer so long that I think I made God blush.
  For a look at the rest of the spread, check today's 365 blog. Happy Fakesgiving everybody!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Missed it by *that* much

  On rare occasions, when I get a particularly good shot for my 365 photo blog, people will ask me, "How did you do that?" Usually, these are shots where something is frozen in space, and they take a really precise sense of timing. I'm not one of those photog fellas who can afford the fancy movement or sound triggered shutter mechanisms. I do it by pure reaction time.
  Most of the time, this works, and I get very lucky. Examples can be found here, here and particularly, here.
  And then there are days such as today. I had a VERY old bottle of champagne, well past its prime, and I decided I would Christen a patch of cement with it. Like the light bulb shot, this was a one-shot deal. After carefully setting everything up and Saran-wrapping my camera, I grabbed the trigger and "Bombs away!"
  As you can see in the picture above, I missed it. This is literally the moment of impact. At the highest resolution, I can see a crack just beginning to form as the bottle strikes the ground. If I had been about 1/4 of a second later with my trigger, I would have caught it. Unfortunate. So, today's picture over at 365 is some broken glass and wet cement. Not nearly as exciting.
  Just goes to illustrate that for every stunner shot I get, there are many, many failed attempts such as this. My eye is still sore from dripping Visine in it eighty times or so trying to get the eye picture from last week. Actually, that was a fail, too, because I was trying to get the drop at the moment it struck the surface of my eye. I eventually gave up due to time and my eye not being able to stay open anymore.
  Much as I want them to be, they can't all be winners.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are you serious?

  I normally don’t use my blog as a soapbox to weigh in on national issues, or things in the news. I haven’t come on here and complained about BP ruining the environment, or governments of the world ignoring genocides in Sudan. I haven’t written about how little I care that Lindsay Lohan went to jail or that Britney Spears likes to flash her junk all around town. But this story…
  This Steven Slater asshole, the flight attendant who quit his job so dramatically that it made national headlines, is something I just can’t ignore. Now, I’ve already heard that he’s being supported on Facebook by people who think he’s really cool for doing what he did. Then I read this morning that he’s being touted as a ‘folk hero.’ But the final straw came with the headline: “Is Steven Slater the new ‘Sully?’”
  You have to be kidding me. The very concept of that so enrages me that I want to kick somebody in the teeth. Captain Sully had to ditch a commercial airliner in a river after his engines were destroyed by birdstrikes. That man kept his cool, and saved the lives of everybody on board. How is this candy-ass, tantrum throwing flight attendant IN ANY WAY comparable to a man like that?

  He’s not.

  Why our society has taken to making heroes out of idiots is beyond my comprehension. Folks, all this guy did was lose his mind, go on an expletive-laden rant over the intercom of the plane, and then purposefully caused as much mayhem as he could. He knew exactly what he was doing. There is nothing ‘heroic’ about any of this pathetic behavior. It’s childish, vulgar, and not an example to anybody.
  Having worked in retail before, I can tell you that dealing with the public is no picnic. People are prone to say the most horrific things, right to your face, and treat you like you’re the most worthless piece of garbage they’ve ever seen. It comes with the job. If you can’t take the abuse, then you need to find a new job. Get over yourself.
  If you want to talk about the heroes of jobs that deal with the public, talk to me about the waitresses, salespeople and cashiers who put up with bullshit every day, but take it, earn their pay, and then go home and forget about it. There is certainly no excuse for people to be rude to you on the job, and you have every right to be angry when it happens, but you can be the bigger person. Suck it up, do your job, and kill them with kindness. Remember what a terrible example those people set, and be nicer when you’re on the other side of that counter, or sitting at that table in the restaurant.
  You wanna worship heroes, worship somebody worth a damn. Thank the people that make your day easier, or thank the people that cure sickness, or protect your freedoms or your property. The rest is just nonsense.

  That’s my piece.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Two from the kid

  I'm in packing-fury mode this weekend, but I had to stop and post these, because they made me laugh out loud.
  Right about the time I entered the second grade, I decided I wanted to write books. Mostly it was just an excuse to do a lot of drawings, and put them into some kind of narrative. You couldn't stop me from drawing when I was a kid. So, naturally, I made a lot of books. I would take a few sheets of paper, fold them over, staple the edge, and start hacking away. The first thing to make, of course, was the cover.
  It had to be catchy, right? Grab the potential reader's eye? You bet. Well, I found a bunch of my covers today, and I wanted to share two that I thought were particularly brilliant in my eight-year-old mind.
  The first is my masterpiece, "haunted houses ghosts and skeloton bones plus + pirates." How could you not want to read that? So much scary in one book, PLUS it has pirates! Awesome! It's so scary that I misspelled "skeleton" and added the plus symbol after the word "plus" to really hammer it home.

  Included at the bottom was an illustration of what you might find inside. A ghost, in typical ghost fashion, is exclaiming "Oooooo!" and there is some sort of Jacob's Ladder atop the titular haunted house. It's coursing with electricity and the sound effect "zzzzz!" lets you know it means business. Below the house, what I can only explain as a horribly disfigured cat is adding his two cents with a giant "raaar!" because that's what horribly disfigured cats say.

  Next up is my epic tome "ghosts and other spokey things." I figured that I'd stick with the horror theme, as it had helped me to become a bestselling author.

  I must admit, I don't remember what I considered "spokey" back in the second grade. Bicycle wheels, perhaps. Women from Spokane, maybe. It's best to not delve too deeply into the creative mind. It is what it is. I will tell you this, though; judging by the copyright AND registered trademark symbols after the title, I was serious and career minded, and I'd be damned if anybody was going to steal my ideas. Incidentally, that character who made the cover is Lon Chaney's Wolfman. He's not a ghost, but I suppose he still qualifies as spokey.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Countdown Begins

  Exactly one month from today, I'll be boarding my plane to London. This has been such a long battle, and yet, here we are, already at the end. I gave the landlord my last rent check this weekend. I've officially started packing. Loans are in the final stages, my entry visa has been paid for, and I'll have a flat (hopefully) arranged by the end of the week.
  Every time you move, you get rid of things, but this is the biggest cast-off I've ever experienced. I have literally thrown away a few industrial size trash barrels full of stuff. This week, I'll be pricing out all my furniture and Craigslisting it. This is probably as close as I'll ever come to torching everything I own, including my career, and walking away. It can't be overstated what a huge move this is for me. Every single fiber of my being is telling me, though, that I'm on the right track. I've learned to trust life in the last few years, and recognize when doors are opened for me.
  31 more days.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Click for the biggering. Seen 'round the net, and heartily laughed at by me.