Archive for September, 2009
I’ve mentioned a few times this visit to Cartersville is the first in many years.
A clarification if you will.
Having been born in one state and raised in seven, you do not tend to have the feeling of a bonding to a place to call “Home” like so many do, or at least that is my experience.
“Home” is where you hung your hat that year.
For me I typically call Georgia in itself my home state. Namely because I have lived there longer than I have lived anywhere else.
I lived in Taylorsville for a time in the 80’s. When my parents divorced I lived in Euharlee, then Acworth. My grandparents, as are the majority of my fathers family, hail from the Ellijay area, a small town called Big Creek. As I lived there a number of years and bear the family name, I too call it my home town.
I graduated High School in Cartersville, Suma Cum Lost. As I mentioned to another former classmate over the weekend who remarked I had fell off the face of the planet, I had felt trapped. I felt I was defined by those around as a specific entity, a design, a die, that was not meant to be changed but should be consistent with their expectations and not to be altered in any way.
I have never been one for adaptation or to run with the latest fad, to say the least. I left to seek my fame, fortune, the world, and what ever else would be destined to come, or not come, my way.
George Moore once said that a man travels the world over to seek what he wants, and then returns home to find it. I’m not sure I agree. I, for one, am still searching.
I have returned to Ellijay several times to see my father, or for funerals.
I have passed through Cartersville, but usually stay barely long enough for a cup of coffee, and saw little as the hours were usually late. A quick meeting at a Waffle House, between myself and Calimus, or at his home.
This past weekend, I lingered. I drug my feet. I perused. I wandered, and I wept.
For those who live in a single place, change is spoon fed to them. A little at a time, a building here, a center there a road moved yonder. It’s acceptable because it’s gradual.
For someone like me it’s like being force fed from a five gallon bucket.
So many large things have changed as I mentioned in my previous posting.
But the little things are what have always managed to me. The picture on the left is the old path to the train trestle over Allatoona Lake from the Emerson side.
From here, as teenagers we would dare death, danger, and challenge over 300 tons of rolling steel, by climbing out in to the middle of the lake on the trestle, and jump in to the lake below before the train arrived.
On other occasions we would bring our dates for the evening, and sit under the trestle on the bank. At night, you can see the lights of 4 different marina’s reflecting off the water in multiple colors. If a full moon it makes a wonderful glass lake. And of course in a mad dash of romanticism, cuddle tighter with the one you arrived with as the train roared a mere 3 feet over your head.
The original path we used is overgrown, and unapproachable now. The picture above is the nearest place one can gain access now, an easy 500 meter jaunt to the lake side. I wandered down the tracks, but the bank has grown wild from lack of use. The images are lost only to my, and those who also came to the locations memories now.
The Tomb of the Unknown Solider I am glad to see is still cared for, even if not well.
When I worked at Allatoona Landing, an older southern belle, every Sunday on her way home from church, would lay carnations on the grave before going home.
She never spoke to anyone. Never waved to us or even acknowledged that we saw her. But I thought the fact both touching and intriguing. By the lack of flowers, I must assume she has joined that soldier at Fiddlers Green. I wonder if she took him carnations when she left.
The roads are all asunder now. Not helped by the current predicament of the lake.
The area has received much rain, and many of the places I used to venture are under water. Like the site of the Infamous Anti-Prom Parties Calimus and I held each year. A all night affair on the lake bank, by a bonfire. Tents, and beer, girls and guys alike as we swam in the moon light till dawn.
The camp site, is too developed to arrive at anymore.
But the affects of the lake are obvious at current.
Some things have not changed however.
The bottle on your left is a bottle of Evan Williams, 10 year old, 1783 Label Bourbon.
Evan Williams is also one of the oldest distilleries in the country.
It has a light caramel taste to it, and is light on the tongue.
It is not an expensive bourbon, however for the price it is an extremely good one.
This particular bottle was sold in September of 1998, as you can see from the bottle plate.
That was the year I left Georgia, and volunteered from the United States Army Reserve to the Active Duty US Army.
Each trip home I have a small glass of this bourbon.
Foolish yes. But I admitted to that already.
The bottle resides in a place of *cough cough* honor in Calimus’s house and awaits my return each time.
The running joke is, the day I move back, either to live or to be buried, the bottle will be drank empty.
Either by me, or by him.
Monday was hard.
I spoke to many before I left.
Saw several on Sunday.
It was good to see who I did again. I didn’t feel as if I was in a cage this time. Maybe I’m just older. Or maybe I’ve seen so much black top, white lines, and cities that I’m numb to it. The change in the town is what got me the most. My friends didn’t recognize me, but then I didn’t recognize them. Thats part of the beauty of a reunion I suppose. The mystique. A grounding affect to remind you that we are all human, and not from a Xerox unit in a back office somewhere.
However sometimes in life, a action we take just seems right, everything clicks, like a sound track to a movie, everything just falls in to place.
In this case, it was me leaving.
I may not return here for another 15 years. I may not return at all. My industry is the most dangerous job in America so anything is possible. I will try. I have been reconnected, as it were, with a handful of what were names and 18 year old faces, are now names with 30 plus year old faces. The smiles are the same, the laughs just as sincere.
But I think I know now, as I knew then, and as I knew each time we moved when I was a kid.
I’m not really from here, But I did enjoy my time while I was here.
Might look good on a Hallmark card, if the dead could send them, don’t you think?
I climb in to my truck, and pull out on to Highway 41. I turn on my radio.
Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath the deep blue skies
didn’t have a care in the world…
My cowboy hat firmly on my head, as I point my truck towards the black top. I’m heading East momentarily, but I’ll be headed west again.
Who knows how long this will last
And now we’ve come so far so fast
But somewhere back there in the dust
that same small towns in each of us…
But It’s still a sunset I’m riding in to, as all good cowboys do.
Had a great time in Georgia. I honestly will give a break down of the events, but tonight I can barely keep my eyes open.
Sorry all. You’ll have to live with teasers like:
Me singing with people whom I have never met
Me buying more tequila than what was formerly thought possible in the State of Georgia
Me being accused of trying to, yes, get people intoxicated.
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992)
Made it to Cartersville last night.
Calimus and Imet up after he got off work. It’s always a treat to see the man who is practically my brother. We’ve known each other for over 20 years now, and when I do blow through, with him its like I never left.
We drove around town, him showing me old restraunts that we used to eat at that are gone, burned or out of business. A Bar I used to work at, called Sunset Grill is now a Italian joint. I helped build the bar that used to be in the building, and I made the top out of over 1,000 pennies before clear coating it. I turned just 2 pennies tails up, the rest heads up. If someone found the two that were heads down they got a free beer. I was always proud of that bar. It’s gone as well.
The road to my Dad’s old house has changed. Highway 113 used to be a two lane road, passing through farmers fields and grass plains. It’s a four lane now, with subdivisions littering the landscape and progress, as they call it, everywhere.
The old farmhouse my mom and I rented after my parents divorced has been moved. The house was pushed about 200 feet back from it’s original place and turned. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like anyone has ever finished the reconstruction. It makes me sad as I always loved that old house. Even the barn is beyond dilapidation now.
One of most beautiful homes in Cartersville is gone now as well. Right off Highway 20, behind Wal Mart, on the corner was a white house that sat on fieldstone. Old plantation style pillars, and wonderful rock work in the yard. All bulldozed under for a new shopping center.
I understand the reasons these things happen. I don’t rail my fist in anger. I really don’t like change nor development. Considering the line of work I am in, I guess thats a odd pronouncement. I like continuity. I like the standard.
It’s not so much the change as what comes with it. The traffic, the out of towners, the crime, and the lack of respect for what was. But I digress.
Calimus and I hit several of the local establishments that are new to the area (new being defined by someone who hasn’t been back to this part of Georgia in just shy of 15 years) . In my Junior and Senior years of high school I worked most of the bars in the area as a Bar back, cook, dishwasher, and musician. At one joint I would place beer behind the bar, sing 2 songs, then go back and wash dished for 20 minutes. Pretty much all of the places I worked at now are gone. Winstons is now more, and neither is Rosie’s. We didn’t have many bars then. Now we even have a Hooters. There is something definitely wrong with being served hotwings and beer by a young lady skimply dressed…..who graduated high school with your sister.
Three bars and about 8 beers later we finally settled on the ol reliable, Las Reyes. It was one of the early beer selling restraunts in town, and even spurred a sister location, Mexicana Grill across town, where the event of which I was invited takes place.
Just before 23:00 we realized that the mango margarita’s and the Negro Modelo’s were taking affect, and more importantly they needed to close down shop. We hit a package store and returned to Calimus’s house for cigars and more frosty adult beverages while reliving the old days, bad and good.
I got back to my hotel room at about 3:30 this morning. Was up at 7 checking my work E-mail.
I am skeptical and excited about tonight. I haven’t seen these people in years. They know who I was, but not who I am. I’ve put on weight, not for the better. The beard of course, and I would like to think I’m not as idealistic as I used to be, but lets face it, I’d be lying.
I’ve jumped out of planes, traveled the world, been in combat, but this is nerve wracking.
Either way my boots are oiled, I just finished cleaning my hat, and I even brought out my Army belt buckle I was given sometime ago.
Now all I have to do is make a cup of coffee, work on my class work.Trying not to be nervous.
And stare at the clock. Trying not to change my mind.
And wait. And Trying.
- Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
John le Carre (1931 – ), “The Chancellor Who Agreed To Play Spy”, The New York Times, May 8, 1974
Sorry so slow around here. Got back to Nashville on Tuesday.
Left my house at 2 am, so by the time I got to Nashville it was all I could do to keep my eyes open (I had been awake all night).
Critter was, to say the least, not happy.
Fort Defiance is unique for another reason. It is also the point where the Ohio and the Mississippi waters meet and converge.
Route 60 takes me from Kentucky, right over Fort Defiance, and all the way to Springfield, MO then I turn south from there to go home.
The biggest difference in the two routes is the scenery. If you have driven I-40 once, you’ve driven it a hundred times. I fall in to the latter category.
I took the Northern route going home. I took I-40 coming back. Time wise I didn’t see a difference. So I guess it doesn’t matter which way I go, I will say the taking 60 it seemed as if I had less traffic to contend with, and I didn’t have to run through any major cities like I do on the I-40 route.
But I got yet another sky line to add to my collection
Last time I took 40 I couldn’t get a quick shot of Memphis. I was able to this time.
Sometimes I debate stopping and getting better skyline pictures, but this is the way I see the cities. And I take a lot of pictures because I want friends, family and my kids to see things the way I saw them. Such as through a windshield, or passing by.
Staged shots are nice and all, but my travels aren’t nice, and the quick shots can be fun. That and I rarely have the time to stop, find a good spot to take the picture, then get back on the road again. However the biggest reason remains I want folks to see what I see. It’s as close as I can get to having folks with me when I travel, as I know my daughter for instance, wants to.
I’m not old
but I’m getting a whole lot older every day
It’s too late to keep from goin’ crazy
I got to get away
Angry All the Time, Tim McGraw
I was on my porch, with Huck, and a cup of coffee watching it come up. It’s a tradition with me you see.
A handful of days a year I make it a point to watch the sun come up and go down.
Slow down days.
My Birthday is one of those days.
Huck and I sat on the steps. The temperature creeped it’s way to 70. Not too cold, not to hot, just right. A light breeze through the tree’s, that are just starting to change colors.
The last day of summer.
And where am I? Still at a cross roads. Still no answers. I feel like a fool to a point. Ready to move on, on the one hand. Throw in the towel, and see whats o
ut there. On the other I really don’t want to go back to “The Scene”. I’m not that person any more. I prefer a quite pub to a dance bar. Soft music to techno. I still wear my cowboy hat, and i can still western swing, but I look like a beer barrel with arms.
Lots of thoughts. The gray and pink sky gives way to day light. Huck nuzzled up closer and whines. I’ve been gone too long this time, I think
The day has just started. I don’t have any plans really. This weekend I’ll be in Georgia. My project is almost over in Nashville, but I’ll still be driving back to Tennessee tomorrow.
But I’ll still have today.
Ol Huck, Critter and me.
Oh, every mile, a memory; every song, another scene,
From some old movie going back in time you and me.
Every day, a page turned down; every night, a lonesome sound,
Like a freight train rollin’ through my dreams:
Every mile, a memory.
Dierks Bentley, Every Mile a Memory
Haven’t blogged much because I’m at home, not Nashville. Had to come home to renew my vehicle registration and a few friends are taking me out for Sushi on Sunday as my Natal Day is Monday.
I’ll have some updates next week I assure you.
Meanwhile keep a Keen Eye on Joel’s place today as he’ll have the Game Day Thread up soon
Will we beat Florida? My Instincts say no. But I’ll root for my team win or lose.
For those Interested the game will be on CBS and is broadcasting at 14:30 Eastern Time
I’ll be at my Mom’s watching the game so I won’t have any Internet access
When I was a boy, I recall people talking about my grandfather.
“His garden is always so pristine, and well taken care of. He works slow, but his time is in his work.”
It was a good compliment, that a persons time was in there work.
Today it seems not so much. People do not seem to be interested in the value of a job well done, unless it is done at the speed of light.
This rush rush rush fire aim ready type of business that I see from most companies, and practically every company I have been involved in, leads them to make the same mistakes over and over again.
One company I was involved with didn’t believe me when I told them at some point they needed to plan their projects based on drive hours, times and the federal driving laws. Several thousand dollars and one stopped truck later driving logs are mandantory, but the enforcement is nill and many of the drivers are pressured to keep “false” books.
Whats the point? Endanger a persons life for the sake of a hours?
What will they say if the person swerves in to a lane and kills a family of four? “Gee that sucks. Ol Bob was a good tech, he violated every law and regulation we told him too”?
In my current industry we are besieged with deadlines that are next to impossible to downright ludicrous. There is no semblance of actual management, but rather of being driven by a stick. There is no evaluation of our abilities, logistics and methodology before creating milestones. We’d rather have a job done in nothing flat, then have it done right.
Today all are disposable.
We hire contractors temporarily so we don’t have to pay benefits. We out source to other countries to pay lower salaries and longer hours to meet deadlines and to reduce over head.
I’m studying Business Management, and I’ve worked for over 19 of the Top 100 Global Companies all of them making the same mistakes over and over. All of them saying they want to fix the problem but never doing so. And all of them knowing how much money they spend on the relentless deadlines, only to have poor quality workmanship.
The value in a job, isn’t the same, and thusly the value of the worker isn’t the same.
I can’t count the amount of times I have worked 100 hour weeks for companies, only to be let go at the end. Sacrifice? Bah. The almighty dollar rules all.
Work 30 years for company and retire?
I joined the military fearing this as I had already worked for IBM, Packard Bell, and the IT Division for Holiday Inn by the time I went active duty Army.
Losing my military service was a huge blow and I have done my best ever since.
But the value in a job well done is no longer received well. And sacrifices are no longer considered a privilige of the company but rather a requirement with no honor or even a thank you.
Perhaps I am just too driven by my owns ideaology of how things should be. Or perhaps I hold too many things true, like honor and respect, that no longer true in this so called “modern” business world.
I see no honor in having a person work 100 hours a week, miss important events with family, be available all hours of the day and night, working weekends, and then releasing them to save $2 per hour.
I wonder, if perhaps my Grandfather to was reticent.
For when I went out to seek fame and fortune after the Army he told me with a wry smile, “If you want to know what God thinks of money lad, then just look at them he gives it to.”
Aye. I do, Grandad. I do.
We should have won.
We should have had a quarterback.
I can’t believe Kiffin chose to use this guy again after last year.
What the hell are you thinking Lane?
It’s all knowing what to start with. If you start in the right place and follow all the steps, you will get to the right end.
Elizabeth Moon “The Speed of Dark”
Short of me completely bombing my finals in a week, and getting kicked out of my last class I will have finished my Associates Degree in November.
This is something near and dear to my heart. None of my immediate family have a degree, nor my grand parents. I have 1 Aunt who does, and she has several.
It’s been a work in progress from my time in High School. In High School I used a program called Post Secondary Option, which allowed me to go to Tech School and High School at the same time. Problem was the Tech School wasn’t accredited I found out later (it has since, become accredited). Later I managed by the skin of my teeth to me accepted to the University of Tennessee, and had not my military commitment changed my duty station I would have finished my education with them and the story would be closed.
But no I waited over 10 years before trying a third time, and this time has indeed been the charm so far. I have a 3.0, something that was unheard of for me in High School (I was a solid D student), and have been trying to juggle school with work, something that has been extremely challenging to say the least.
But now I prepare for the next step, the next game.
I am trying to decide if I want to pursue my Bachelors Degree. On one hand I feel I should and that I need too. On the other. On the other, classes terrify me. As I said my academics prior to this were nothing to smile about. I struggle with math that doesn’t pertain to windage for some strange reason.
The other question is Financial. The Bachelors program is a good bit more expensive. And since changing jobs my income has increased noticeably.
I’m not sure I can afford to get my Bachelors.
But I will try, I think, in the end. My overall goal was to get my Bachelors, then use University of Tennessee’s online Masters program to obtain my Masters. Thus completing a circle I began a long time ago.
I have jumped out of planes, climbed cell towers, stood on top of the world, been in combat, but this terrifies me. Go figure.
Either way I am anxious. I am so close to completing this mile stone I can practically smell it.
I first wrote this in September of 2004 at Techography. I’ve reposted it here, for fairly obvious reasons. I took down the pictures, as I found them being used elsewhere. I doubt I will ever reload them. Given the antics we as a society have chosen to surround these events with, I am not sure why I continue to post this back up each year. But I feel it somehow honors those souls. So even if I disagree with the celebrations, T shirts, posters, and foolishness that people perpetuate in the memory of the greatest, most deadly single attack on our shores: I will continue to defy my own good sense and place this every year.
I made it a point to not blog over the weekend.
For one I felt it would be done by many, and I didn’t feel my voice in the crowd would be a tribute.
The larger reason Is I wanted to reflect it in silence.
I break that now.
What you read beyond this point is a few events I saw, experienced and know of from the 4 weeks I spent at Ground Zero immediately following the attack. There are pictures I have been given as well as a few I have included that I have scanned since then as well, of my own.
Read. Think. Chew slowly. And remember on your own as well.
I’ve written before that the one thing I remember clearer than anything else is the dust.
It covered everything.
We breathed it everyday. It was on and in our clothes. It penetrated any defenses we had.
We crawled thru spaces that sometimes were not totally safe but we had to try, we had to look.
Often we slept anywhere we could. It didn’t matter.
Often you would be under a 3 ton slab of concrete, and you could hear it creak above you. Or god forbid you might find something, or one buried in rubble that you were scraping yourself across.
The smells. What little you could smell thru the dust was of shattered water lines, sewer pipes, and iridescent scent of sulfur from flames, fuel and diesel mixing together in a symphony that would assault your sinus’s. Like a home that had been ripped open with a giant claw hammer with all of its pipes and fixtures and fresh raw earth exposed to assault your every sense of faculty.
Often we had trouble remembering we were in NYC. My god I lived barely 5 hours from here
The dogs worked even harder than we did, but they slept more than we did as well. We’d bind their feet with anything we could find to help keep the pads from becoming cut and lacerated.
The Salvation Army and Red Cross set up canteens, or “roach coaches” for food. The National Guard unit I came in with helped set up barricades
Rarely did we speak that wasn’t related to what we were doing. There just wasn’t anything to say. One night one of the PFC in the Guard unit broke down crying. He was from NYC originally. His father had brought him here when he was 15. He never dreamed he would be here, doing this now. The 1SG and I held him. What do you say?
My sister-in-law works near here. She wasn’t my sister in law at the time. But I think now, that if she had been 45 minutes earlier to work I might have found her in a much different fashion. It chills the bone.
You hear stories. Stories of 2 Army Specialists who reacted with training to do everything they could to save lives.
You hear of famous people. Like Rick Rescorla who went down trying to get people out of the buildings as they came tumbling down so slowly.
I had came to work that morning. I was performing a drug test for the NY DOT. We watched on the TV in the Highway Authority Break-room what was happening. I stayed there for 5 hours before they sent everyone home. That night my home phone rang requesting if I would join a Nat’l Gaurd unit to assist with CSAR operations and security. I said Yes.
My job in the Army usually meant small units. I was not totally familiar with large units moving out in tandem. But it was a moving sight. As the HEMTS, and HMMV’s prepped to roll out on I-90 I took my TC position with a fellow from Cataragus.
He took in my unit patch and my beret (later I borrowed a spare cover from a fellow SSG.) with a questioning glance.
“Why’s regular Army here, Sarge?” he asked
I shrugged. “I’m in the area, I’m available and I’m familiar with CSAR.”
I looked out of the HMMV front window and thought for a second, thought about where i had already been, and still being apprehensive at what I would see when I got there; or what many of these college kids would see whose last FTX was in a court yard, then replied.
“We all did.”
Another Irish rover has went to Fiddlers Green and passes on to meet old friends and new.
I never met him, but it is said like father like son, which tells me the Auld Soldier was one helluva man.
Wish his son well, in his passing won’t you?
Good night, sir, Sleep well
Still sick as crap.
Going to head to Nashville VA Hospital see if I can get in. Meanwhile still trying to manage my project. Hard to do with fever and migraine I assure you.
Just want to curl up in a ball and sleep forever. Problem is I can’t go to sleep and when I do I wake up again quickly. Been up since 3.
So gonna load myself down with Motrin and see if I can make way to someone who can fix me up.
Am sick as hell.
No other way to say it.
Head is pounding like a runaway train, sinus’s clogged up, I can’t talk, I’m running a fever of 103 and my body feels like I was the practice dummy for the Baltimore Ravens.
It’s one of those days were you wake up in the morning and ask Gawd to just let you die.
Critter got home safe, got the phone call at about 2 this morning. She didn’t want to leave yesterday and demanded she stay here with me. I placated her somewhat but not much.
It’s hard trying to explain to a 4 year old why she has to go home but Daddy has to stay here. It’s a disadvantage from my military time. In the Army I’d leave and be gone. Then come home and that was it. My family didn’t and couldn’t visit me out in the field. With this lin of work I go to the field, and I stay there. My family can see me at odd times for a few days.
Having done both…I’m not sure which is better. As the latter is almost like teasing. And the partings are extremely difficult.
But like all children she bounces back well, and an hour down the road she was colouring to her hearts content.
As for me? I’m going to crawl back in the rack. The world is spinning and it’ll be easier to not fall off if I’m in my the bed.
It’s been a wonderful weekend thus far.
Critter has slept snuggeled up against me every night, and won’t let me out of her sight.
We went to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere yesterday, and spent the entire day there looking at animals and letting her play. Then I took everyone to dinner at Sportsman’s Grille. Went to the mall and bought numerous Vols clothing.
Speaking of which, my precious Vols absolutely sent the Kentucky Hilltoppers packing with a final score of 63 -7. 657 yards of offense while allowing only 83 on defense. 11 players with 5 catches or more. 4 different running backs pushing 8 yard averages, and it wasn’t just a game it was a blissful adventure, dammit!
Kit Bond, one of my states Representatives didn’t roll over and play dead to the latest tree-hugging foaming mouth mad dog to be selected for a office, and Gateway Pundit kicked him in the head until he resigned.
All in all its been a very good weekend.
Unfortunately, tonight is the last night with my daughter. They are going home tomorrow.
The only good news is I have to go home and renew my truck registration this month.
So the good things have definitely out weighed the bad so far