Archive for November, 2009

Finals were yesterday.

It’s over.

Well…for at least the next 14 days its over. I start my new program on December 16th.

Work is very stressful. My family life isn’t much better. But today I feel oddly….peaceful.

The last few days I realized just how much this education meant to me, as I think I am approaching burn-out.

I jump every time I hear a cellphone, if I hear something that vaguely sounds like a vibration (my ringer is on vibrate and ring) I immediately begin grasping wildly for my phone.

Yesterday I accidentally forgot my cellphones at home while we went to Fantastic Caverns with my In-Laws and my daughter. Once I realized that I had forgotten my phone I all but had a anxiety attack. It was not only embarrassing, but disturbing. I have buried myself in my job to the point that it’s all I think about. At night, in the day, in my sleep.

This degree is my path to a better job. I just hope I can find one before this kills me.

Today none of that matters though. Today the phone calls cause me to jump, but I can deal with it.

I accomplished a goal, and something I busted ass for and have spent countless hours between my job and family to accomplish.

Today I am on top of the world.

You may resume the oft-scheduled repeated kicks to the head tomorrow

Then this is a entire freaking Novel.

Talk about your Truth in Advertising!

Talk about your Truth in Advertising!

H/t VolBrian

My Final exams for my degree are in 6 days.

So effectively, unless I complete screw the pooch, in six days and a wake up I will have finished my requirements for college and in affect, “graduate” with my degree in Business Management

I am, to say the very least, excited.

This degree means that just maybe I can get a job that does not require me to travel as much. Just maybe I can finish what I started so many years ago. That perhaps I can finally be a proper father.

The other good news is I’ll get a few days off. My classes for my next program do not start until December 16th.

However I have my fair share of distractions currently. I’m running a project of two new build cellular installs, including shelter construction, just south of Memphis. I’m also trying to deal with paperwork issues that have reared their ugly head from several months ago. Apparently my customer lost all of the close out packages we submitted them. Now I will have to submit them, again. Which means I have to make them, again. Also we still have not been paid for the work from several months ago either. Our customer owe’s us around 600k for work back in June and July. Guess whose been playing collector? And you can probably guess the pressure is on to get paid. Especially with the holidays.

All this while trying to finish my projects for my Finals.

Still, it will be a nice present to myself once this is done. It will also be nice getting to have few days with no classes at all.

But I’m not done yet. Not by a long shot.

I meant to post this sooner, but work got in the way.

On November 5th, 1965 the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed on a Search & Destroy mission in to War Zone “D” north of Bien Hoa. Also involved was the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment ; 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry; and the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Divisions . The name of the operation, ironically, signified the units halfway point in their tour of the Vietnam war.

They encountered little action and minimal resistance until the morning of November 8th when they were ambushed by over 1,200 of the Peoples Liberation Army Forces, North Vietnamese Forces

Encountering heavy weapons fire, the unit deployed troops in several areas around a hill top called Hill 65.

What ensued has been written about in song and poems.

Lawrence Joel, a medic, was the first living black man since the Spanish-American War to receive the United States Medal of Honor for saving so many lives in the midst of battle that day.

48 US Paratroopers died in the conflict, and over 400 North Vietnamese were killed.



D ZONE

Written by SP4 Joseph M. Kenny, the B Company, lst Battalion 503D Infantry artillery team radio operator (RTO) from Battery C, 3D Battalion, 319th Artillery, 173D Airborne Brigade

Beneath the canopy of green,

Flitting shadows make their way,

In silent files they furtively steal,

Looking, searching for their prey,

Muffled footfalls barely heard above

other muted sounds,

Of an armed band moving, through the

heart of “Cong’s” home grounds.

Back again in the D Zone and it’s been

said and heard,

“Charlie” shares exclusive rights with

the One-Seventy-Third.

Of course it’s hotly contested,

And real estate’s on a rising cost,

With payment made on either side,

In blood and sweat long lost.

But now it’s push on and on,

Through swamp and tough terrain,

With salty sweat searing your eyes,

And a roaring in your brain,

A burning feeling in your chest,

And each breath a gasp of air.

But it’s move and push and drive,

Until you’ve found “Charlies” lair.

Maybe soon they’ll call a halt,,

And you’ll slip to the mucky ground,

Grateful to pick the leeches off,

And pass the smokes around.

But now it’s bamboo thicket,

And lurking, snagging vine,

While up ahead the point man,

Searching for some sign

Of elusive, wily “Charlie,”

The guy we’re looking for.

And back in line some joker quips,

“Hell of a way to fight a war.”

A rifle shot cracks out.

Like the rap of a conductor’s baton

That start’s an overture,

And willing or not it’s on.

2

Fire is answered with fire,

A crescendo quickly reached,

And “Charlie” breaks and runs,

As his line of defense is breached.

The ensuing silence is unearthly,

Still there’s ringing in your ears,

And guys are tending the wounded,

Soothing their unspoken fears.

Here and there’s a still, still shape,

Who’ll never walk D Zone again.

Their names to be struck from the rolls,

With one stroke of a shaking pen.

The call comes down to saddle up,

We’ll soon be on our way,

For we’ve a goodly stretch to cover,

Before the end of day.

The guys no longer look tired,

They’ve a determined look of eye

As they scan the shrouded flanks

And treetops that hide the sky.

Now as I write I feel pride,

Proud that I have served

With the “Sky Soldiers” of Company B,

First of the Five-0-Third.

As a child, I have a memory of my Great Grandfather.

He was a large man, when he passed away at 96 years old, he stood 6ft 9 inches tall and took eight pallbearers to carry him.

So he towered over my 4 or 5 year old frame of the time my memory.

His wife, my Great Grandmother had passed away. I recall him pausing at our clock that sat on the mantle over the fireplace. He opened the glass and stopped the clock.

I’m not sure precisely what I said anymore, but I asked him why he did so. He knelt down to me, as he always did, so he could look me eye to eye. Making me feel more adult than I was. His answer, was also geared towards an adult.

“The clock is the heartbeat of the house, son. We hear it everywhere in the home, and it reminds us each moment is precious. Our family has always done this when someone passes in our family. We stop the clock, for one hour, a silence in the house place to their memory.”

I didn’t understand fully the symbolics of the action, I was too young. But as I watched my Grandfather repeat the action when my Great Grandfather answered that call, and as my Mother did the same when her mother passed, it began to take ahold of me more clearly.

When my grandfather passed, my father halted the clock in the home. He and I stood by the fireplace while the clock rang silent through the hour. At the end of the hour, I reset the clock to the correct time.

My father has not been a well man in many years. He has had over 40 invasive head surgeries. Several years ago he leaned over to pick a penny in the yard and broke his back. Literally that fast. He just fell over. Had my cousin Ronny not came to the house no one knows how long he would have lain there. As it was he laid about 6 hours in the middle of the day. He fell off the roof of his house back in January resulting in more surgeries to his back, shoulder, collarbone and ribs.

As I wound the clock, and moved the hands gently, he placed his hand on my shoulder. He said quietly, “You’ll probably do this for me next.”

I hesitated before responding, My family is not renowned for its sensitive side, so I responded this was true only as long as he insisted on continuing to play superman and climbing the roof of homes in thunderstorms. (In the aforementioned roof incident, his chimney had caught fire. Being a former Volunteer Fireman, my father, in the middle of a thunderstorm, climbed the roof of his house, successfully put out the fire, only to fall from the roof, through his screen door, and on to the porch below.)

He laughed, as is normal, and shook his head. “I may be the youngest, but I’m not sure I will outlive my mother.”

This statement bothered me. My family, it would seem, has also been blessed with long life.  As I mentioned previously my grandfather lived to 96 years of age. His wife was 97. My Grandfather lived to 98, my Grandmother is that age currently. She is my last grandparent left. I have only one relative who did not break the 95 mark and that was my mothers father, whom lung cancer took from us in 1997.

My father put his arm around me, “I know you travel a great deal son, and I know you have no idea where you may be when it happens. But I want you to promise me that you will stop the clock for me, when it does.”

I am the eldest son, the eldest of my family name. It is my duty, my responsibility, and of course my fathers wish. I agreed.

Recently however, situations have me wondering. I have two daughters. One, who for all attempts and purposes may not know I exist. If my marriage fails, the future will be uncertain for Critter as well.

I work in a extremely dangerous industry. With over 20 deaths a year, the tower business is serious business. It’s still considered the most dangerous job in america.

So the question must be asked, when that time comes who will stop the clock for me?

I can only hope that one of my daughters by that time will understand, and be willing to keep the tradition. And hope they find some sort of peace in the action, themselves.

As a young man I loved William Faulkner.

Salinger, Emerson, Steinbeck and Faulkner; they guided me through many a dark night and glum eve.

I find myself, somehow, living a novel that could have been one of Faulkners.

Not quite As I Lay Dying for I don’t believe I am a greedy man.

Not Soldiers Pay although sometimes I wonder…

I have been home a week. I have patiently awaited my wife’s decesion on our relationship since I left in May.

I have been sorely tempted but have not strayed. I have paid bills for a home I do not live within. Upon arriving home, all was, to a point normal.

But she makes no promises.

I have been asked to help repair her car, fill the propane tank for the home, and continue to assist with the bills, all with the basis of no guarantee’s and no promises.

This, to say the least, fills me with trepidation.

I feel more like Horace Benbow. I can not win. I seek sanctuary, and I grant it to those whom I can and have often in the past.

I’m not sure what to do at this point. I have seriously debated driving back to Nashville, save for my daughter, and my mothers illness of late.

I have tried to be much to many people, but not myself for myself.

I can’t wallow in self pity though. Not at this time. As we used to say in the Army this is most definitely a suck it up and drive on moment. Carpe Diem and the like.

Ah, but to have the courage my 18 year old self had. Bounds of energy, grit in the gut, spit in the eye and a desire to conquer the world rather than be the conquered! In a word, fearless of so much, and so very little all at once.  Those days, however, have passed.

No, the decision is mine to make. And no skinning of a cat at midnight at the crossroads will make it better nor guide my way. No horoscope, no sage advice will light my path. It is my albatross and I must bear until it I cast it off or it flies on its own.

As I have walked this road before, I am still uncertain of the direction, for while the road is familiar the scenery is not, so to speak.

I am looking for a job locally. However if this, our unity should fail, this last thing I will be able to do is stay here each day. I am man enough to admit, and coward enough to say that it is true. I am not one who could look upon his former wife with another man at any point in my life. The ties that bind, for me at least, are always held dear. Perhaps thats one reason I return to Georgia so little…..

Were it that youth, so often abused, was something more often regained. I would find what ever wrong I caused her, and make it right again.

My mother is sick.

My wife and I are still at odds.

My daughter wants me home.

My job wants me in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi.

My mom needs help with her bills thanks to being sick.

My wife needs help with her bills thanks to my mom being sick and her taking time out of work to take care of our daughter, and my mother, while I was in Tennessee.

My boss feels I can only manage my project on locations.

My daughter feels Daddy has been gone way too long.

My mother feels my wife can not do it all.

My wife does not know what she feels regarding our relationship, still. After almost 7 months.

I love my job.

I hate the amount of time I’m gone from my daughter.

And my Irish Guilty Conscious is saying I’m making the same mistakes that I made with Wife Ver 1.0 and Daughter ver 1.0 , with Wife 2.0 and Daughter 2.0.

My job pays me quite well. If I get a job locally, it will not pay me anywhere near as well.

There are no easy answers to this circle. But it’s keeping me up at night now.

I’d become an alcoholic but then its hard to play soccer with Critter in the yard.

I have had the privilege of serving with good soldiers.

Anyone who has been in the service any length of time knows that there are good soldiers, and bad soldiers. Just like at any other job in the world. There are good carpenters, and bad carpenters. Good mechanics, and bad mechanics. Soldiering is similar, you just can not fire the ones you do not like.

Soldiers are not omnipotent.  They make bad choices. They make poor decesions. Some have bad credit. Some have great credit. Some work past their failings, some sink in to them.

But I tell you this, on this day for we Veterans.

They are still soldiers.

For better or for worse, no matter your viewpoint on them personally, or their personal achievements, they still volunteered to boldly go where many others go.

No one has the right to take that dignity, that self sacrifice, away.

Many soldiers join the service for a variety of reasons. College money. Make a difference. Family Tradition. They saw no way out from their current life or scenario. Maybe it was deeper. Some join out of patriotism, or a belief that as a soldier they could somehow achieve greatness or assist in great things.

It doesn’t matter. Why they joined is between them and who ever they call God. They still became soldiers. They still signed the paper and toed the line where others have gone before and never returned.

Once upon a time it was an extreme privilege to be a old soldier. Most never lived that long, either due to battle or injuries sustained in battle.

With the changes in modern warfare, and medicine, many become old soldiers.

But it makes them no less important. They are still, and were soldiers. There is no other job in the world who has lost as many people in the years of its service.

The willingness to give of ones self must be recognized, and should be recognized, on this day if no other.

I salute my fallen brethren. I clasp hands with my standing.

For todays is Veterans Day, and we still walk among our peers where so many have not returned from the fronts. We still hold our families, while other families mourn their loss. We grieve this entitlement that was given us, but it soothes no souls.

Today is Veterans Day.

Please remember more than the grill.

Damn you Barrack.

I served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.

I worked my way from E-frickin One to E frickin 6 in less than 10 years.

I busted my ass.

I was a professional first, and a family man second. I gave. I gave. And I gave some more.

I did everything in my power to not embarass my soldiers and to earn the fucking right to wear my stripes and give instruction and direction to my soldiers. It was a fucking honor to be a solider in my Army, and it was an honor to be those soldiers Noncommissioned Officer. I worked for them.

Let me break it down for you, sir.

11 dead.

31 wounded.

These are my troops sir. It doesn’t matter if they served directly for me or not, they are still my men. My troopers. My boys. And you have the audacity to trivialize what happened to them with school room antics????

Just who the fuck do you think you are Mr I am the Commander in Chief?!

Earn that right.

Honor the fallen.

And close your damn mouth.

Sir.

Shrek is flying in today.

Tonight we’ll hit a place for dinner, hang out, catch up, and probably drink numerous cold frosty adult beverages.

Tommorow he and I head for Knoxville.

We’ll eat dinner at my great-aunt Brenda’s in Sevierville. More than likely we’ll hit Cumberland St for more frosty adult beverages

Saturday will be hanging out in Knoxville, doing some gift shopping followed by, of course, the football game.

I am extremely excited, only tempered by my very busy schedule today to get everything wrapped up.

I’m also attempting to finish the last of my groceries that I have so I do not have to transport any food goods back to Missouri on Monday.

Am very much looking forward to being home even if it is for such reasons as my moms medical care. It will still be home. And with a very excited and anxious Critter who is constantly asking for her Daddy to come home.

And there is always something to be said, for that.

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

That was me this past weekend.

I spend a lot of time in cities, places and locations where I do not know a damn soul. On one hand I meet a lot of neat people, and even manage to keep in touch with quite a few of them.

But the folks I knew for years, in my youth? Not so much.

Most folks didn’t know who I was, but then neither did I know them. Time changes people. I’ve put on quite a bit of weight since those years despite my efforts to lose it. I’m nowhere near as energetic. Long hours, long days, high stress coupled with lots of windshield time tend to take their toll on a hyperactive soul.

Friday night. Cass High.

Earl Cunningham Stadium and I have always had a troubled relationship. Our Marching Band typically took home more awards than the football team. Not to say they didn’t play hard, or with heart. Our boys always did their best.

I had came down on Monday for practice. Friday I left Nashville early and found my old Olds Ambassador horn. It’s an extremely durable horn, and built like a tank. But the sound is awesome. My particular horn was made in 1954, and is one of pseduo jazz models. As such it has a very distinctive sound, especially on a marching field. Can’t miss it.

We marched out on the field like old times. The alumni in T shirts. The current Band in uniform. The oldest among the alumni graduated in 1979.

This was to be the last time, in all likely hood my feet would touch the grass of Cunningham Stadium, and that my old horn would sound out in to the concrete stands built in roughly 1970.

The school serviced the entire county area. Such was the nature of the county school system. You either went to Cass or Adairsville to the north. Some folks, lucky enough to reside within the Cartersville city limits, attended the city school system and our old arch rival, whom we have never beaten in a football game, Cartersville High School.

Our marching Band in my day was much larger. I was astounded by how few Cass fielded.  Depressing actually. But those who were there showed no lack of incentive or enthusiasm. They danced, they sang, they did all in their power to get involve the crowd.

For our part, we alumni did our best to hang right in there with. I’d like to say perhaps we showed them a few new things. Either way it was a good night. So for posterity purposes, here are the video’s of the night. As usual I’m easy to spot. But the music was the star of the night. Old school met new school. The rain fell. The temprature dropped.

Our team beat the visitors. It didn’t matter.

Because for, the band played on. As it always will in someones heart.

Old High Brass. Polished and refined

Old High Brass. Polished and refined