Go Figure

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Did quite of bit of driving today at work. Usually this means I have time to think of stories to tell. Some of my best stories came to me while driving. My mind wanders here and there, going from one idea to another. I’ll ruminate on a promising idea and from that I have the framework of a story to tell. It’s not 100% foolproof as evidence of my thinking today.

Most of the ideas were a tad weird, which is an understatement. I quickly rejected one idea after another. Yes, I know I had given my mind permission to run amok, but the thoughts today frightened even me. I’m not sure they need to be brought to life in the pages of this blog or any blog.

Then I started thinking of yesterday’s story of Trust. I realized I could have done a better job, but as my wont, I figure out what I want to accomplish with the story and run with it. Due to the topic being trust or lack of trust to be fair, I started thinking of my book that I’ve been writing off and on for the last ten years. A huge storyline in the book is trust.

It’s been well over a year since I last wrote anything on that book, so I reread what I had so far. Ideas are bubbling up and I feel the need to write on the book some more. Strange thing is, long ago, I realized that I will probably never attempt to publish this book or share it. At odd times in my life, I feel compelled to work on it. It seems to awaken in me a spirit of writing.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll have a story to share.


My Belief In Humanity Is Restored

After a pretty stressful day at work, I angrily left at the end of the day. Seriously thinking about calling in sick for the next two days. Let them deal with all the crap I deal with every day. I jumped into my car and headed down the street so I could get on the expressway home. Still fuming, of course I caught a lengthy red light. Finally it turned green and I turned left and about fifty feet in front of me I saw what is actually a common occurrence here.

Three geese were crossing the road. The lead goose had it’s neck extended and low to the asphalt while the two behind were calmly sauntering along behind. Traffic stopped while the geese crossed. I looked in my rear view mirror and the traffic had actually blocked the intersection I had went through.

Amazingly, no one honked their horn. We all sat patiently waiting for the geese to finish crossing the road. My anger and stress dissipated almost immediately as I was amazed at my fellow drivers. The trip home was a pleasant drive.

When it all comes down to it, it helps to stop occasionally and watch nature around us.

Tuesday Is Monday’s B****

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Some weeks it seems like Monday never ends. The stress and headaches from working and trying to do everything at once is draining. Even though my boss knows that I need help, she keeps on giving me even more work to do. Being the perfectionist that I am at work, it’s stressful when I can’t do everything.

Now, I’m making simple errors that I never should have made. Easily correctable, but a blow to my ego nevertheless. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not superman. I’m pushing 60 for gawd’s sake and running rings around guys that are half my age. My biggest failing is that I don’t want to ask for help. To me, that means weakness, failure and a sense of doom.

Yes, it is not rational at all. I never said I am a rational being. I can’t help it most of the time. What’s even more stupid is if I get irritated or pissed off, I work twice as hard as I normally do. Guys at work have learned to recognize this and steer clear of me. I don’t blame them.

Maybe I need to blast this song in the warehouse all day long on a continuous loop.

Well here’s to a better day tomorrow.

Friday Night Lights

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In West Texas, high school football is almost a religion. During the Autumn months, every Friday stadiums are filled with the local townspeople. They may have a son that is playing, or a daughter that is a cheerleader. If their child is in the band, they are there too. But it is not just parents that fill the stadium, it is people who have come to cheer on the local team, sometimes for years. They sit in the same place year after year and enjoy the company around them.

Growing up in New Mexico, only three miles from West Texas, the same spirit filled the stadium every Friday night year after year. Our team never was particularly good, but it was still an experience to go during football season. It seemed a genial atmosphere. A older couple would greet another like they haven’t seen them in a long time. That may have been the case as some would only see each other during the football game.

On the visitor side, one section was reserved for the high school students. It was nicknamed the ant hill. From the home team side, looking across, all the students were constantly moving around looking like very busy ants. As a child, I looked upon wondrously at the ant hill, dreaming of the nights I could be part of that experience. However, since I was in the marching band, not once did I ever get to be part of it.

Instead, we played our hearts out every game. We practiced daily in the parking lot outside the stadium for the half time show. Every year they would mark the parking lot with yard lines and hash marks to simulate the playing field. Our band director seemed to be a genius at designing the half time show. I think we won more awards state wide than the football team ever did.

After moving to Florida, I went to a local game once. It wasn’t the same. The stands were filled mostly with only parents. Usually the stands were pretty small and they still didn’t fill all the seats. High school football in Florida seemed dull in comparison.

Sometimes I still miss going to the football games where I grew up.

Doing Some Editing… Sorta

It’s been almost three months since I received feedback on my memoir, “My Cancer Journey”. I’ve not looked at the story or the feedback since my shoulder started hurting me.

First step is to gather all the feedback, copy/paste it into a word document. I’ve got email feedback, Google Docs feedback and even a Messenger feedback. I may have missed one or two, so double-checking. Next step, read the memoir with a notepad handy to write down anything that I need to rewrite.

Then and only then, I’ll read the feedback again. Finally, I’ll make my to-do list to rewrite and edit the story one last time. Then set it aside for a few weeks. Do one final read and correct anything that glares at me. I hate when words glare at me, don’t you?

Final, final step is to research once again how to publish it on Kindle. Then start the laborious process of formatting and checking and re-formatting until it is right.

Final, final, final step is to hit the “publish button”. That’s the scary time. Might have to gird my loins for that. Okay, I have no idea what “gird my loins” really means, but it sounded good.

On to final edits!

Parking Lot….. Again

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Got up early this morning as I was asked to make a drive today down I-95. I set off in the wee hours of the morning about 5:30 am from work. The distance a mere 165 miles to where I needed to go to pick up six bathtubs.

At first, it was a peaceful drive. Nobody driving crazy as usually happens. For most of the drive, my only companion were the headlights of other cars. With no moon, it was dark. Slowly the sky brightened off to my left. The temperature rose steadily as I was driving south.

An hour before my GPS stated that I would arrive, the sun came up fully. I had to move the visor to the driver’s side window as it was blindingly bright. The miles went by and it looked like I was going to be right on time.

Lo and behold, some one had crashed up ahead. Two of the three lanes were blocked. I-95 became a parking lot in an instant. Slowly I would be able to creep forward, but there were long moments that traffic came to a complete stop. I bemoaned my luck as I was only 10 miles from my objective.

Forty-five minutes later, I was able to take an exit and make a detour to where I needed to go. What should have been a leisurely two and a half hour drive turned into a four hour drive.

When I got to my destination and related about the crash, the guys weren’t surprised. They said it was a daily occurrence. I loaded up the truck and headed back to work. What should have been a five hour round trip, turned into a seven hour round trip.

I thought that the drive would give me plenty of time to dream up new stories as I am wont to do while driving. However, nothing seemed to stick. Is the well dry? I doubt it. More than likely I need to write. Doesn’t matter what I write, but I’ve found the more I write, the more stories come forth.

My mind has been blank as far as writing this week. The one thing I realized on my road trip is that I need to write even if it might be boring, or terrible. With time, I feel my writing juices will once again overflow my cup.

Just Another Day?

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It’s hard to believe yet another year has come and gone. So many things have happened since my last birthday. There wasn’t much cause to celebrate last year. Cancer treatments were wearing me down. It was all I could do to focus on getting through each day.

Since then, I’ve been cured of my stage 4 prostrate cancer. Started to get my strength back once I went off the medications. I looked forward to being able to mow my lawn in the summer. Mrs. D had taken over the responsibility the summer before while I went through treatment.

Then my shoulder and arm started hurting. Another summer gone and I’ve still not mowed the grass. Maybe next year.

It’s the simple chores that seem like a bother until you can’t do them anymore. I never thought I would miss mowing the lawn.

It was one year ago today that I committed to writing every day. I posted almost every day for 10 months.

I’m feeling better, so what better day than to commit to writing every day again. Maybe I can make it a full year this time?

Florida, Hurricanes and Power

For most of the past week, I’ve been living in the cone. What’s that you say? Anyone who has lived in Florida for a while knows that phrase. It’s being in the cone of uncertainty for the path of an oncoming hurricane. For most of the week, here in Jacksonville, we were smack dab in the middle of the cone.

Hurricane Ian was projected to hit Tampa Bay and then traverse the state directly toward Jacksonville. As usual, there was a mad rush to go buy groceries which doesn’t make much sense to me. How you going to cook all that meat when you don’t have power?

On Wednesday at work, we did our usual hurricane preps. Cleaned up the pipe yard and strapped down loose material. That night, the hurricane hit south of Tampa Bay at Fort Myers. Then it continued toward Orlando. At that point, it shifted slightly to the east. This was just enough that when it turned back north, it pretty much missed Jacksonville. The southern part of the county saw heavy rainfall, but the rest of us only saw light rain and mist and windy conditions.

Naturally and it happens every time, the power was knocked out. For this storm, my power was knocked out for about an hour and then would come back on for 1/2 hour, then back off for an hour or so. This continued all day. When the power came on, we would make a mad dash to the kitchen and brew coffee and do some quick cooking.

In case the power remained off for an extended period, we had a propane camping stove. Didn’t have to use it this time.

Every hurricane is a bit different. This one caused massive storm surges and flooded the hell out of Fort Myers. Sharks were swimming in the streets!

In Florida, most of the state is subject to massive damage during a hurricane. Here in Jacksonville, due to geography, it is probably the safest part of Florida for hurricanes. It’s been a long time since Jacksonville was hit directly with a hurricane. I think it was 1954. Are we due for another one? Eh, maybe. Most people here in Jacksonville do our normal preps, but don’t take hurricanes too seriously. Those that are new to the area tend to freak out the first few years.

Thankfully, even though there was massive property damage in Fort Myers and other areas of Florida, the loss of life was minimal. Houses and buildings can be rebuilt.

Saturday Morning Coffee Break

Had to get my blood drawn this morning. The lab opened at 7 am so I got there a bit early. Apparently not early enough as there already was a line of people waiting. I got ready for a long boring morning of waiting.

Then Dan spoke up. Who is Dan? Dan is obviously on the spectrum. As people arrived to stand in line, he would loudly say, “Hello” and wave. Then he would introduce himself by saying, “My name is Daniel. You can call me Dan.” He would repeat “You can call me Dan” until you said “Hi Dan!”.

The whole mood of everyone there brightened. Instead of a line of strangers standing there silently bemoaning the wasted time, people would talk to each other. Even when the lab opened, everyone had a smile on their face and generally had an enjoyable moment talking with complete strangers.

Even after Dan went in to get his labs done, people continued to be open. When new people walked in, at least someone would greet them and the cycle of just pure enjoyment continued.

You don’t get many moments like this in life and I’m grateful to be a part of it this morning.

“My name is Matt, you can call me Matt!”

Weekly Writing Challenge #28 – Oy Vey

Prompt – Write about someone getting their driver’s license for the first time.

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In the mid 90’s, while stationed on the USS Kauffman FFG-59 in Norfolk, Virginia, I held the role of Leading Petty Officer. In civilian parlance, this meant I am the team leader for 10-15 men. It’s a bit different in the Navy, as we not only work together, but while at sea, we eat, sleep and do everything together.

One Friday, in port, one of my younger guys came up and asked me if I could drive him to the car dealership so he could buy a car. I didn’t have anything planned, so I agreed and off we went.

I walked around with him and the salesman until he picked out the car he wanted. The salesman asked for his driver’s license to make a copy of it and then we could do a test drive. The young guy hemmed and hawed and looked at the ground.

“You didn’t leave your license on the ship?” I asked.

“Um, I’ve never had a license.”

Oy vey! I forgot this kid was from New York City. He was used to getting around on public transportation. I apologized to the salesman and took him to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a learner’s permit.

Over the next month, I let him drive my car all over Norfolk, teaching him how to drive. I grilled him every night for the driver’s test. Finally the day came. He took the test and got his driver’s license. We went back to the car dealership and found the same salesman as before.

I stood there proudly as he handed his license to the salesman. Luckily, they still had his preferred car on the lot and we did a test drive. A couple hours later after helping him navigate the purchase of his new car, he proudly drove off by himself.

Going above and beyond for not only this guy, but all the guys in my team is what made me the success I was in the Navy. As a side benefit, when my own children got to the age of being able to drive, teaching them was a breeze as I had already been through the stress once.