I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes…

Posted in bed, health, home, life, veteran with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2018 by me

I don’t typically remember my dreams.  The interesting thing though, is that while I was on hiatus this spring/summer, I started to remember more than usual.

, For years, I’ve had nights where I’ll wake up and be sweaty.  I like having the room kind of cold and burrowing under the blankets, so I assumed I was just overheating.  I woke up this week a couple times like that, one night really bad.  Just completely drenched, pillow was soaked, I had to change my tee-shirt and boxers and it dawned on me, when I realized my heart was racing and I was twitchy, it wasn’t over-heating, it was a damned nightmare.  Duh, that’s why the sheets and blankets were a mess, I was thrashing around.

Of course, because I can’t remember my dreams, I have no idea what the nightmare was about.  Was it PTSD?  Or just a normal, run-of-the-mill nightmare?  Vampires and monsters or standing up in front of the class and realizing I was naked?

 

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Dad

Posted in family, health, home, life, love with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2018 by me

I had a phone call with my Dad the other day.  I’d gone a roadtrip the day before and realized that my brakes needed work.  I was griping to him about it and mentioned that he really needed to get this brake tool from Harbor Freight.  Earlier in the year, a co-worker needed her brakes worked on and instead of just being a typical piston and caliper setup, her pistons were threaded and the pistons rotated as they move in and out.  To retract them back in to change the pads, you’ve got to screw them back in.  You can do it with various tools around your garage but it’s a little bit of a pain.  If you get this tool from Harbor Freight it’s easier.  But you can use it on traditional pistons/calipers as well.  And it speeds up a regular brake job.  It’s easier than using a jumbo screw driver, or c-clamps or whatever cobbling methods shade-tree mechanics like me use.

So I was telling my Dad that he should get this tool and he said that he didn’t think he was going to be doing that many more brake jobs.  He said it really matter-of-factly, and he meant it matter-of-factly.  And it just hit me really hard.  There was a cold logic to it that probably made it a little worse.  He’s got all relatively new cars now, mom doesn’t drive anywhere near as much as he does.  So how many brake jobs are left to do?  But he also meant that it’s probably silly for him to be doing them.  A lot of time he’s home alone because mom’s working, and although nothing has ever happened when he’s done brakes, it doesn’t mean something won’t.  And he’s got money.  So if a car needs a brake job, he’s going to run it into a shop and let them do it.

Even if it doesn’t mean death is right around the corner (and God, I hope it’s not.  Fuck.), it’s a major change to the status quo.  My Dad never paid for someone to do things that he could do himself, not even when he had plenty of money to comfortably afford it.  This isn’t just my acknowledgement of his mortality, it’s his as well.  He’s slowing down and acknowledging that the end is relatively near.

There’s a fair bit of suck to this.  Even if it is inevitable for all of us.

Tom Clancy

Posted in life, veteran with tags , , , , on September 4, 2018 by me

I marathoned Jack Ryan on Amazon over the last couple of days.  It was a decent series.  Not great, not horrible.  But decent.  One thing that I really loved about it, was that they honored the back-story of Jack Ryan, even though they set it in present-day.  Jack was still a Marine who’s career was cut short by a helicopter incident, his dad was a cop who died when he was about to go to college, he’d worked for Cathy’s father, etc.

I don’t mean to turn you off from the series if you haven’t seen it yet.  Watch it.  It’s a good show.  But as I was watching it, I did what I normally do if something doesn’t totally suck me in.  I started screwing around online and multi-tasking.  It didn’t have my undivided attention, I could listen without my eyes glued to the screen and still follow along.

Tonight I was down to the last couple of episodes.  Jack was finally talking to Cathy about the helicopter accident.  It differed from the book a little.  In the series, because of the timing, they had Jack actually serving as a platoon leader, deploying to Afghanistan and leading men.  In some ways, this makes things even easier than in the books.  Sure, Ryan is an analyst, but when he needs to hold a gun or go hand-to-hand with someone, it can be explained away because of his military service.

So I was just kind of watching and doing some other stuff, and happened to look up just as he was explaining the incident to Cathy.  Incident, rather than accident.  I mis-spoke earlier.  And it was weird.  I’ve talked about PTSD and a specific incident in the past.  I’ve felt things before, gone through some of the flash-back moments vets talk about.  But this took it to a whole new level.

When I was in Afghanistan the first time, a father sent his son to be a suicide bomber.  His little kid came onto base, walked up to a group of soldiers, reached under his perahan, pulled out an RPG round and dropped it onto the ground.  If he would’ve been taller, if the ground would’ve been harder, if he would’ve altered the arming mechanism, it would’ve detonated.  But because of fail-safes built into the round, because of how short he was, and because of the “moon-dust”, the soldiers just got the shit scared out of them.

I was there when it happened.  Not close enough to have been killed by the blast, or even injured.  And close enough for tonight’s episode to have struck home.  When Ryan allowed the young Afghan child to come on the helicopter, looked the kid in the eye, and then the kid pulled out a hand grenade, pulled the pin, and sabotaged the helicopter the flashback was eerily similar.

My Jam

Posted in home, life, love, music, veteran with tags on August 18, 2018 by me

I’ve been doing leatherwork a lot lately, and in my office/workshop I’ve got one of the smart speakers.  So it’s easy to walk in there and say “Cortana play (insert artist’s name) on tune-in radio” and she creates a station and whips it out.  The other day I’d heard “Night Moves” by Bob Seger playing in some bar as I walked by and had it in my head, so when I went to do some work, I told Cortana to play some Bob Seger.

I’ve had several of his CDs before.  When we were in basic training, there were a handful of us who didn’t have any friends or family come for our graduation.  I think 3 or 4 of us.  Everyone who had family got to have their family sign them out, go into town for dinner and stay in the hotels.  I guess our Drill Sergeants felt bad for us, so they took us to the PX.  After 12 weeks without much real music (once, when I was on sick-call I got to hear music at the hospital), the first thing I did was go to the electronics department and buy a cd player and CDs.  I didn’t have a ton of money, so I just bought a handful that I knew I’d like and one of those was Bob Seger’s greatest hits.  I stuck mainly to oldies, because I didn’t think I’d get sick of them.  I didn’t really think of myself of a Bob Seger fan before then, I didn’t hate him, I just didn’t go out of my way to listen to him.  But I saw the greatest hit’s CD and just went with it.  In the next six months, I rode more buses than I ever had before or since.  Bused from Ft. Leonard Wood to KC, then from Atlanta to Augusta.  Months later from Augusta to Columbus, Ga, then from Columbus Ga, to Fort Bragg, Nc.  And lots of trips in between.  Seger got a ton of air-play on those bus rides.  And in between.

So I was surprised when I started listening to this new station and heard this song.  I’d never heard it before, and it just struck a chord:

Road Trip

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2018 by me

I did my motorcycle trip this spring and it was fun.  It made some sense, save some money over flying when I had to go to New Orleans for my buddy’s promotion and for my class, and it never takes much to convince me to go on a motorcycle trip.

But I was thinking about it a little tonight.  I was also celebrating getting my kid to the 18  year old/high school graduate milestone.  Sure, I’ll always be his dad, and there’s some responsibilities still ahead of me.  But if I kick it in my sleep tonight, he’s at least headed to college now.  And it’s paid for.  But I can remember 8 years ago, going through my divorce, getting pushed out of the military, knowing about my lung disease and being terrified that I was going to die any day and leave my son without a father.  Everyone I dated, that was a huge consideration.  Even though they weren’t his mom, if I died, would they still be a part of his life?  Would my family and them help make sure that Matt knew what I felt and believed and looked at life?  Would they ground him and offset his mom’s flightiness?

There’s lots of other stuff I was worried about.  Would he know why I was gone so much when he was younger?  Would he know how much I loved motorcycles?  That I drew when I was a kid?  That I loved tennis?  What my first car was, etc?  How was college going to be paid for?  Who would he ask for advice?  And money?  Who would teach him to drive?  To shave?  To shoot?  To ask a girl out?

But it hasn’t come to that.  He made it to 18, and I really wasn’t sure I was going to be here to see this.  Sure, I’ve still got the disease, and I’m reminded about it everyday.  A weird cough here, a tightness in the chest there.  Problems climbing steps here and the light-headed feeling when running there.  But I’m still here.  And that’s part of what I was celebrating.

 

rambles

Posted in friends, life, love, relationships with tags , , , , on August 8, 2018 by me
  • It’s funny.  I went to a concert in town this weekend with a group of friends.  On the way out, one of the guys met two girls and wandered off with them.  I was telling a woman about this the next day and she was just flabbergasted.  Why would a guy want to take off with two drunk girls?  Why would a 40 year old guy want to hang out with a drunk 22 year old girl?  Really?  Are we that naïve?
  • Same woman, talking about the same guy and girls.  “Well, I thought he was looking for a long term relationship.  Why would he take off with 2 drunk girls?  Is he lying about what he wants?”  Uh, no.  Wanting to get your carrot wet and wanting a long term relationship are not mutually exclusive.  While you’re looking for the right long term partner, you can have fun on the way.  Again.  How’d you get to be that naïve?  Have you never met a man before?
  • I get it.  A lot of women have to have an emotional connection before they have sex.  A lot of men want an emotional connection to have sex.  But we do realize not everyone feels that way, right?  After we’re about 18 years old, can we quit being shocked by people who have one night stands?  And who knows, one of those girls might’ve ended up being Ms. Right.  If you don’t put yourself out there, you’re not going to find her.
  • Now, what we can be shocked about, is people who get to their late 30s/early 40s and still don’t know the mechanics of kissing and sex.  Ugh.  I think this is the worst part of being this age and dating.  There’s a couple basic positions and moves that everyone should be relatively competent at.  And kissing!  How do we not know how to tilt our heads so our noses don’t bump every time we kiss?
  • I want to build sleep chambers.  Some kind of enclosure for beds with fans for white noise and ventilation, variable lighting/blackout settings, subtle vibration motions for the bed, etc.
  • I had to end it with someone last night.  It’s only been a couple months of seeing one another, but it still sucks.  Making someone mad sucks.  Making someone cry sucks.  Doing both sucks.  But it was the right thing to do.  Wish I would’ve done a better job ripping the band-aid off though.
  • I was supposed to go to Wyoming this weekend, but my plans fell through.  I was looking forward to 12 hours on the bike.  I got a new bike which is still in its break-in period, which is annoying as hell, so I might take it out for a couple hours instead to build up some hours on it.  The problem is it’ll be slooooow hours because max speed while breaking in is ~65mph.

Me

Posted in Childhood, family, friends, health, home, life, love, meditation, relationships, veteran on July 29, 2018 by me

Over the last couple of years, it seems that being an introvert has become “the thing”.  There’ve been lots of memes, cartoons “explaining” what it means (like that one cartoonist, or blogger, or magazine article author is the chosen spokesperson for all introverts everywhere) to be an introvert, or how to “handle” an introvert.  Because of this, I’ve kind of shyed away from saying “I’m an introvert” to people.  It comes up when we do a personality test like Meyers-Briggs at work, and when I’m dating, but I don’t go around proclaiming it like some people do.

The annoying part of this is how many people try to tell me that I’m not shy or introverted.  It’s not binary.  It’s not on or off.  It’s a scale.  And it’s not all one or the other.  I’m sure there are some people whoare on the far end of the introversion scale who are pretty much incapable of existing in society, and then there are tons of people who are in the middle somewhere.  It’s annoying because first of all, don’t try to tell me who I am or who I’m not.  And don’t disregard all of the work that I’ve done over the years to be where I am now.  I did have a lot of time where I was incapable of talking to people at parties, where I’d go to the party, sit in the driveway or parking lot of 15 minutes, and then chicken out and go home.  Or the thousands of times that I’d chicken out of talking to a girl I had a crush on.  Networking events used to cause a little panic attack, and years ago I was super proud of myself for giving a woman a complement in a parking lot that I sat in my car trembling for 15 minutes afterwards.

The reason why I’m able to talk to people is because I’ve worked at it, making a concious effort to get more comfortable talking to people, and because people fascinate me.  They just also tire me out.  Sure, crowds can fascinate me, and I love seeing the dynamics of a crowd, but I need to curl up in bed and spend time alone too.  That’s how I recharge.

My parents are great.  They have their issues, and things weren’t perfect, but they try their best.  They tried their best.  My mom used to have it all when she was a kid.  Her dad was high up, working on a King’s staff.  And lost it all because of alcoholism.  My mom went from growing up going to private schools and vacationing in royal palaces to having to work to help provide for her little brother and sister.  I vaguely remember one story she told me where was supposed to be able to go on a trip to the US, and then it was taken away from her because of family.

Losing it all like that, traumatized her.  It shows itself in multiple ways.  Growing up there wasn’t a lot of privacy with her.  She never wanted to be surprised again.  And of course that has had it’s impact on us kids.  I’m not hiding things from people (well, not always!), I just want to have boundaries and things that are just mine.  Actual things, and thoughts and conversations with people and whatever else.  That probably makes for a terrible pairing with introversion and shyness.  That’s probably terrible for everyone I date.

I think I blogged about it before.  When I was married, I’d get super upset with my ex.  I’d come home from work and talk to my son, asking him what happened that day, and sometimes he wouldn’t want to talk.  And my ex would jump in and tell me to give him space and time.  But sometimes I’d come home from work and she’d insist on talking to me, and wouldn’t show that same patience for me.  She’d want me to open up and start talking immediately.

I’ve tried to get better over the years, realizing that I need to be there emotionally for other people, that I need to be available, let some barriers down, let some people in.  But it’s still tough.  I can’t just talk on demand.  I have to have time to process things, to look at it from all sides and figure out how I feel about something and what I want to say.  In order to go to a party or networking event, I kind of have to pump myself up in advance.  And I have coping mechanisms, I frequently take a wing-man with me to events, someone who can help smooth over conversations and make things easier.  Sometimes when you’re talking to someone in a friendship or relationship way you don’t get that time.

There’s some struggles right now.  One person who I feel that I disappoint on a regular basis because they aren’t like me, they don’t get it.  They’re one of the ones who say “Oh, you’re not an introvert, you can’t be.”  They’re usually a talker, from what I’ve seen when they’re out with other people, they tend to dominate the conversation a little bit, talking over other people and interrupting.  Not maliciously, they’re just so excited and so full of energy, things just come out.  And they frequently say “talk to me” or “say something”, and there just isn’t anything.  Or worse.  There’s someone else who wants to pry for details.  “How was your day?”  “It was good.”  And then they want to start asking more, specific details.  And I get it.  A lot of people can have full conversations.  But I can’t always.  Sometimes after a day at work, being “on”, I just want to be “off” for a little, and recover.  And that’s some of it.  There’s the pressure of it, and then there’s the pressure because I feel like a disappointment.  And then there’s a little resentment, me getting my hackles up because I feel like it’s expected, instead of a little understanding and patience.

It’s just me.