Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday's Gone

Zero hour approaches hard on my heels.

Yesterday was my last day at CRF for the season. It was an awesome day. If felt like someone turned on the "What are they gonna do, fire us?" sign, so thick were the jokes of...questionable content. Thanks, Lord Mayor. The weather was great (to my tastes, at least), the crowd wasn't overwhelming, the jousts were hilarious. Mandi and Sarah stuck out, with each of them playing their characters (Lady Luck and Lady Jillian, respectively) playing each other's character. So Lady Luck was dressed and acting as Lady Jillian and vice versa. This came to a head at the jousts, as each lady has a favorite knight, so each required themselves to cheer for the other's favorite. With pained expressions and forced enthusiasm. To people only there for that day, it was just two ladies being goofy (and awesomely so), but to the regulars and the cast, there were times it was hard to breath we were all laughing so hard. And that kind of levity carried over to the rest of the day.

The Royal Court this year is amazing. It reminds me of the court we had many years ago, but somehow better. We're a more cohesive group, we work well with and off of each other. The "core" I think is the trio of Mandi, Sarah, and Julie. Cin and Rick are certainly coming into their own, as well as our other new members. It's great to have Jeremy back as Bishop John Ringo, too. And Chris is really settling in as the King to Bettina's Queen. I cannot express how much I'm going to miss all of you guys. I hate I'm not going to be able to be with you guys for the rest of the season. But I'm looking forward to next season.

There's just not enough time to speak or write to all the people I want to before I ship out on Tuesday. For some there's just no words I can bring together ; letters started and deleted or thrown away or sitting, unsent. It's going to be a very trying time at Basic and AIT. I'll be able to write and (eventually) email/IM, but it's not the same and being able to attend a weekly game night or go to church with my friends and family. I will, at least, be able to go home for Christmas, but even then, there's a lot of people I don't imagine I'll get to see or speak with. There are a couple of cases where that leaves my heart heavy, but I imagine (hope, really) that I will be too busy (or tired more likely) to spend too much time in rumination.

I have no illusions that the next several weeks will be anything but extremely...challenging. You can spin it to more positive wording all you like, but Basic is going to open with me getting my ass handed to me, and hard. This is going to be grueling. I will persevere (it's kinda what I do), but I have accepted and come to terms with the fact that, at least for the first couple of weeks or so, my flabby weakness is going to be painfully obvious.

So write to me. Give me pages and pages to read. Keep me up to date with the day-to-day goings on back home. Send stamps. Lots of stamps. Pray for me(to what- or whomsoever you feel is best to send such an appeal to), sends positive thoughts, and/or think of me, so that I will get strong enough and tough enough not just to pass, but to excel. Because I will accept nothing less of myself in this endeavor but excellence. I want to come out of this in January as an Honors Graduate. I will have nothing less than a distinguished career in the Army, and I have to start from the very beginning.

Why do I set such high goals for myself? It is because of the inspiration provided by ALL those in my life who serve or have served. Chris, Justin, Harold, Kyle, Rayne, Phil, Shaun, Fox, Shane, Nathan, Ben, James. Two grandfathers, two step-grandfathers. Even (especially) one SPC Eckerd. I didn't set the bar, all of you did. Thank you.

I love you all. I'm going to miss all of you. Yes, even you. Especially you. I look forward to seeing some of you at Christmas. And I hope a whole mess of you will be able to see me graduate from Basic.

i am immortal, i have inside me blood of kings

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Gypsy Marie (rough draft)

I knew my heart would ne'er be free
the day I met her, the Gypsy Marie.

Oh, her name haunts me, my days, my nights, my dreams
the enchanting Gypsy Marie.

Her laugh is full and genuine, true and hearty
the raucous Gypsy Marie.

Dancing and prancing and chancing with me
the whirlwind Gypsy Marie.

She touched my heart with unintentional glee
the accidental Gypsy Marie.

She flees from pursit, that love, claimed, cannot be
the elusive, effusive Gypsy Marie.

Still, I cannot forget those moments so sweet
with the beautiful Gypsy Marie.

Oh the nights spent under the stars and the trees
kissing the lovely Gypsy Marie.

Her kisses so hungry, shy, but bold secretly
the contradictory Gypsy Marie.

Her skin dark in the night, to mine so white, caressed so softly
the mysterious Gypsy Marie.

Her words and glances and touches for me,
the touching Gypsy Marie.

Such wonders with her have I seen
with the Gypsy Marie.

Such splendors and pleasures and ecstacies
hinted at by the Gypsy Marie.

Yet Romani she is, ever swept by the breeze
my wandress the Gypsy Marie.

So my heart aches in her absence, waiting to see
the return of my love, the Gypsy Marie.

I knew that my heart would ne'er again be free
the day I met her, the Gypsy Marie.

all your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Bad is Swift; the Good So Very Slow

The weekend was average. And by average, I mean that, from my perspective, the good things and the underwhelming or disappointing things all evened out to naught. Today was equal parts, too, but that seems to be the order of the day. But the squabbles and frustrations are small. Sharing a bathroom, a friend's actions are entirely in character but just strike a nerve, these aren't really all that important. It's hard to remember that, despite my best efforts. It was good to go to church again, especially on a communion weekend. I got my transcripts, I picked them up today and got them scanned, moving forward.

Trying to clear up my credit report is...interesting. Creditors are very, very quick to report negatively. But good reporting takes, and I quote, "thirty to sixty days" which I think is really fair. Argh.

I tried to run today, but the combination of my general out-of-shapeness, near 100 degree heat, and oppressive humidity made even one mile of walking/running an absolutely awful experience. I had hoped to get at least two miles in, but that was a no-go. I managed some pool time. At least I ate healthy today, drinking a lot of water and keeping my carbs and calories down. Same weather tomorrow, but I'm going to try and get out at some point.

There are private struggles and frustrations that weigh on my mind and heart. Even writing here about it (what with no one really reading this blog and all) is difficult. Trying to explain the issue and remain generic enough to keep privacy is difficult. Relationships are often more difficult than they have to be or need to be. Fears, both general and specific, hobble us. These fears are understandable. The words run through my mind, the words I want to say, the poetics or the direct speech. Arguments swim and tumble back and forth. Sentences get typed, then deleted. Conversations almost get started, then vanish into the ether.

Am I confused? Frustrated? Yes.

But I am also...hopeful, in specific and at large. I'm not chased off so easily.

"And these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. And the greatest of these is Love."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The More Things Change

Over the last few years I have learned to make about four or five plans for any large effort I am going to attempt. Why? The first one is going to fail before it gets off the runway. Every time. Without fail. Then the next few get shot down shortly after take off. I have learned to live on Plan Not-A.

So my original idea of directly enlisting to go to OCS, well, it flopped about like a fish on the deck of a ship and died before really even starting. So the plan became something else, involving a short AIT in an MOS that didn't require a security clearance. That, realistically, meant a much long delay on OCS, despite the reassuring words of recruiters involved. So I planned in a manner to minimize the hurt for a year long delay in getting into OCS.

And then, out of nowhere, I could get my transcripts after all. So I didn't go to MEPS today, like the previous plan. Why? Because I have to wait 48 hours (for some reason) to get my official transcripts. But. I was able to view my transcript online and it turns out that I have more credit hours than I thought. Not, y'know, a lot. Just the one more class. But that's enough to get me, for sure, into OCS.

Paperwork in. Maverick bound.

i am the very model of a modern major-general

Monday, July 25, 2011

Justin Joins the Service

This is happening.

I've done all the looking and thinking I can. I've examined all my options. The job market isn't co-operating fast enough to make anything real happen. And I am f@#king tired of not having income, among other things. I am joining the Army National Guard. And, perhaps uncharacteristically, I'm going in to Infantry school. Why? The enlisted training is 14 weeks. Most of the other jobs I wanted to do have 6 months of training. But OCS is in the game plan, starting in January if things fall in place. So, right now, the plan is to be a 2nd Lieutenant after roughly 6 months of actual service. Not bad, right? After OCS, I'll have a lot more flexibility on where I end up. But a combat MOS? More badass than you were expecting, right?


The biggest downer for me in this ISN'T near six months straight of marching and saluting (though don't get me wrong, that's going to SUCK A LOT OF ASS.) but that I'm going to miss my first season at CRF since I started. Frown. But I'm fishing for addresses. And I imagine that I'll be writing a lot of letters. Hopefully a few letters to a lot of people. But I'll take a lot of letters to a few people. Hell, I want to get smoked for the amount of mail I get; that's how much I want to be getting.

This will be the single most challenging thing I have ever faced. This is something I should have done ten years ago. But I am doing this. For too long in my life, I have not really amounted to much, not lived up to what I could be, what I should be. I've been allowing myself to be held back, or held myself back (consciously or unconsciously). But at the end, I'll be far closer to the man I'm supposed to be than I have ever been.

I hope I will hear from a lot of you guys. It's going to a big change from what I'm used to. I'm going to miss all of you guys.

And some of you will see. You'll see what I can do. You have not seen me arrayed in splendor.

don't underestimate the things that i will do

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Emotional Content Advisory

It's not that bad, really.

But I did watch my cousin, Ashley get married today. It was a very sweet, poignant day, all told. I imagine it was even more so for Ashley and Zack. All the girls were gorgeous and all the boys were well-dressed and groomed.

I have to take an aside here. My grandfather, my dad's dad, was able to make it to the wedding. My papaw has Parkinson's disease. I've known he's had it for several years, and people have said how remarkable it is that he's doing so well. But it is still so very hard to see him, to witness the measure of the disease's work. As I have grown older, it has never been my own mortality that I have had to come to terms with, but the mortality of those around me. I was very young when my granddaddy Bob passed away. But it was only a few years ago when my granddaddy Jim died. I was an adult and I had known no world were he wasn't around. So I have one grandfather left to me, and I am to bear witness to a much slower, much crueler process than the more sudden losses I had seen before. He is doing remarkably well. But I could feel my dad and step-mom aching for someone to help them, my dad especially. When my grandparents divorced, dad moved with my papaw. I can't imagine how hard it is for my dad. Papaw was pretty lucid. He didn't recognize some of the cousins at first, but when reminded, he seemed to. But he's so frail. Helping him in and out of the pews and down the aisles, I could feel how very little of him there is anymore. It hurts.

But Papaw was there. The family was seated and the service went without a hitch. It was...well, it was a Lutheran wedding service, full pomp. Communion, acolytes, bible-bearer, candle-bearers. For someone like me it was nice to see, really. It was neat. I enjoy some of the ritual trappings of my faith. I don't think High Mass is needed at every service, but sometimes an event is better served with a little bit of the pomp and ritual.

The real moment I got a little verklempt was when Ashley's brother, Ben, was the one to present her. Ashley is a little miracle in our family and she's been through and come through so much. When she was very young, three or four, she was diagnosed with leukemia. But she came through it all, this little tiny thing (she's still short. 5'0.5" tall) going through chemotherapy and spinal taps. And in that same time of her life (I think after she was declared to be in remission) her dad died suddenly of a heart attack. Congenital defect. So it was her brother that walked her down the aisle. It still gets me a little teared up. I'm not prone to emotional outbursts or displays, but I still feel. It was a beautiful little moment.

The reception was, perhaps, unremarkable, but not in any kind of bad way. The food was simple, but good. Tea and pink lemonade, a good cake. Some fun music, no macarena. It's always an enjoyable time when you get all of the cousins together, and nearly all of us were there.

There's a lot up in the air in my world right now. Trying to figure out my enlistment is a bit of a whirlwind process. What job do I want to enlist in, will I be able to go into OCS immediately, or will I have to wait? Can I find a Real Job before I'd enlist, or will I end up missing a call for an interview because I'm in Basic? Will I have to miss Faire? In the midst of all that, today was a good day. It was simple, it was enjoyable. It was family and food and uncomplicated.

I haven't written in a while. Not because I didn't have anything to write about, but because it seems like whenever I write about something I'm hoping for, I jinx it. So I'll just post this. You can't jinx something that's already happened.

And I have Windor's Toccata from Symphony V stuck in my head.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011



My thoughts are haunted
I close my eyes
All I see is your face
The darkness of that night
My face
Buried in your neck
Never have I seen such
A wicked
Smile on your lips
You moan, you purr
Underneath the stars
You bit your lip
My God, my heart
Your kiss is so hungry
I love it, I want it
Your smile is so playful
I love, I need it
Your mouth opens
Your lips, your teeth, your tongue
They consume my finger
The words you whisper
I gasp and my blood rushes
Such a delicious secret
Such delightful knowledge

Never doubt for a moment
That I love you

And not just because
You're half-naked

Poem, 4-12-2010

Time is Fleeting

All the wonders
and the splendors
of Eden before him;
All the beasts
and plants.
Lonely was Adam.
"All these things
great and small,
I give my thanks,
but I am alone.
Please, make for me
A companion."
God smiled.
Adam slept.
Thus Eve.

I'm not really sure what was going through my mind when I wrote that, but I was re-reading my little pocket journal and found the poem and thought I'd post it here on the intarweebs for all of my readers to see. Both of you. Heh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

They Say You Want a Resolution...

There is a reason I have taken this long to post any resolutions. I've been looking over what I want to accomplish and what I have accomplished. I was looking at the resolutions I made last year and while I didn't accomplish as many as I'd have liked, I did complete(accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. accomplish) the majority of the list.

2011 - A List of Resolutions (with commentary)

Continue to improve my diet - it's a process. I slip sometimes, but it's better overall. More veggies and fruit, less fatty foods, processed grains, and empty calories. (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants)

Exercise more, get in shape - I'm enlisting this year and I'm not as young as I used to be. So I have to compensate with better fitness. I keep saying this every year. This year I'm actually going to do it. (No, really. No. Really.)

Continue to improve wardrobe - I finally got some really good hats, this makes me happy. I hope to pick up a few nice vests and a good suit. The vests will all but force me to dress better to get enough use to warrant buying more clothing. (Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man)

Keep pushing forward with my education - I am facing frustrating delays with enlistment and transfers, but I must not and will not just give up on finishing the degree. The likely enlistment schedule is going to mean two semesters off instead of one, and that will delay my degree-getting, but I will still finish it. And I will continue to press for a PhD, but all of that is the future years. This year, this Spring semester, I am trying to improve my GPA as much as I can. (i can haz gud graedz?)

More art, creativity - I wrote many letters last year, and I will continue to do so this year. I need to draw more, if only just because I have some small talent and I need to keep using it. I have armies to assemble and paint. I will keep singing. (jackal. it's a jackal. is it a jackal? it's a jackal!)

Grow my Faith - I have been selected as the chairman of the Music & Worship committee at church. (responsibility?! hsssssssss!!!1) I need to take that role seriously and help the congregation of St. James within the context of that role. I will continue to sing in the choir (and louder, since my aunt[s], grandmother, cousin, and other fellow choir and church members note that I should)

A much less general list than last year, but also a lot tougher, given the parameters. But I'm awesome. It is ALL within the realm of things I can do. I just need to, well, resolve to do so.

by the power of greyskull...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a Mess

Wow. Radio silence since Thanksgiving. Ok, let's catch up.

First off, in retrospect, 2010 went a LOT better than 2009. For any of a number of reasons.

The faire season was a lot better, barring one or two sour notes. I adore the new doublet and cape that Angel made for me and I got a lot of compliments on it. I've got a lot of ideas to make the coming season better, and plans for costumes and characters to visit upon other faires.

A down note, with 2011 consequences, is that my recruiter says that I cannot enlist until 6 months AFTER my probation ends on the 17th of this month. Which means that I cannot enlist this month or next as I had wanted. And that also means I need to find/keep employment and scrape up another semester of classes from RCCC's shrinking list of useful courses. And it kinda throws off the whole schedule I had worked up for college and graduation. Argh. But I can work around it, even if it delays some things. We are a long-lived people, my people.

The holidays were a bit of a cluster, I'm not gonna lie. We've had a lot of snow that didn't help. My brother and his wife deciding to spend a week or so in the Bahamas right after Christmas didn't help, heh. But it was a good Christmas, I think. Despite all the hectic and sudden schedule changes, there was familial harmony, as is usual for my family(s). The snow prevented the family from going to Bristol Christmas weekend, based on the idea of not wanting to get snowed in at my Grandmother's. (Praise Report: She was diagnosed with, treated for, and recently verified free of lung cancer. All in THIS year.) So I went to Greensboro to attend Tig's "Orphan's Christmas" which was a good time. Even when the power went out. (Did I mention the snow?) The food was excellent and the company was....eclectic? Heh.

New Year's did not go 100% as planned but I went over the the Fishers' place for fireworks, which is the standard NYE event. Alas, I did not have an adventure in NYC like some people I know, but I had a good time nonetheless.

This past weekend finally wrapped up Christmas with all of my family. But it didn't start that way. In the middle of last week, a loud vibration started making a lot of noise out of the rear of my car. I attempted to diagnose the issue using my (admittedly limited) knowledge of vehicle mechanics. The noise rose in pitch with the speed limit, and was unaffected by changes in gear, so that ruled out the transmission. I turned off all the interior electronics and fans, to eliminate the stereo, speakers, and fans. I checked all my fluids, just in case. No dice on improving the situation. But I had eliminated most possibilities and was left with the wheels or tires, most probably the right, rear section of the car. The next day I asked around to all my mechanically minded friends and family. There was a theory that the tire might be wearing unevenly, so Mike was kind enough to help me look things over with his floor jack, air-powered wrench, and delightful assortment of mechanic's tools. While we were looking at the tires, we changed the oil, woohoo. The tires checked out ok (if old), as did the rear brakes (again, if old) so we were left baffled. Randy had taken the car for a spin earlier the day before, and thought a bearing had started to wear. Bearings are not things you delay in fixing. So Friday he took the car with him to work to have it looked at.

Now. Let me explain something about this past weekend. I have never had so many invitations to social gatherings in any one weekend in my entire life. Two events (birthdays no less) on Friday. At least 4 gatherings on Saturday and 2-3 on Sunday. If we hadn't done sushi with John on Thursday, there'd have been one more in the mix. Now I had planned to visit as many of those gatherings as I could, with the plan of driving. Yeah. That plan got asploded. And I was, perhaps understandably, frustrated. But I didn't handle it as well as I might have and was a little short with the parental units.

So anyway. Transportation issues. All the frustrations with poor communication (in which I was an active participant) and Friday morning I had had enough. I said, essentially, "Fuck it. I'm hopping the next train to Raleigh." Which I did. And it was a good idea. I had my phone, but Raleigh and me don't get along when it comes to phone signal. I had my laptop, but I had no idea what the wi-fi availability would look like. So I was sorta reachable, but it seemed a lot more like dropping off the face for a little while. I got to Raleigh about 4pm, and Amaris and Andrea picked me up not too long after that. Cook-Out, cleaning, dressing and we were heading out to...well, I had no idea. I know food was in the plan, but I didn't know any of the other details, other than Amaris said it would be "RIDONK" and since this is a relative term for Ms. Hames, I was a touch apprehensive. And no reasonable human being could fault me. But it was her party, so whatevs. For her birthday/Christmas I had taken it upon myself to fill a horrible lack in her life. She had no hip flask for the subtle containment of alcohol. This was a travesty, now solved. And, being me, I gave no empty flask! But we were off into Raleigh. We stopped into a couple of art galleries, which were intriguing, but way too full of hipsters. But then again, Raleigh herself is FULL of hipsters. Eventually we gathered the gaggle we had collected and headed over to the Market Restaurant. The food was good (really) but the entrée had too much negative space in its artfully set plate. It was tasty, though. And they had a pumpkin cheesecake. Om nom. Dinner was a bit nuts, too, as there was a lot of us and we ended up taking up about a half the restaurant. It was small; we were many. Around 10:30 we finally finish the meal and then on to dancing (what the heck). At that point we dwindled from 20+ to five. And went...dancing.

Now, to say that dance clubs are not my usual scene is a bit of an understatement. I believe that the last time I stepped into a club that centered around a dance floor was in 2001. I couldn't even drink then. I was also less old and less broken.

But a few sips of scotch and a chugged down Jack and Coke later and my joints felt a little less stiff and I started to get into the music. Perhaps the most ironic part of the whole thing was that around 1:30am we were starting to wind down, but I was ready to keep going. Music puts me in a groove sometimes, gives me strength, life. I'm not an extrovert. I don't energize when surrounded by people. I'm usually drained when around a lot of people (especially people I don't know). Given that Amaris was the only person in this venture I knew well, and I was only acquainted with one or two others there that night (Dana, Beth), I ought to have been outright exhausted. But music, man. Get me lost in some music and I'll got for days.

Anyway, 2:00-2:30am and we're making our way back to cars. Part of my plan for the weekend was to make it to Hickory for a family gathering with my dad, that side of the family, and our "Mountain Cousins." The snow we have now as supposed to come this past weekend, so I find out on the train ride home that morning that the gathering was postponed/cancelled. Oh yeah, I finally fell asleep around 4am. Amaris picked me up around 6:20am. I was on the train at 6:50am. Did I mention that I was up at 7am on Friday? And I was up and (gasp) cheerful. Or at least not a monster. Why? I needed that trip. I got the heck out of dodge, broke out of the usual habits. Some of it may have been the company, too. But less than 24 hours, barely more than 12, and I felt a lot more relaxed about everything. Randy had called in the evening the night before to let me know that the Honda had been fixed. So I get back into Salisbury and hop in my car and drive up to Hickory. The big gathering might have been called off, but my brother and sister were still up there. We had an impromptu meal and Christmas there, caught a bit of some football and then just after dark started to set in, I say my goodbyes and thank yous.

I made my way down the hill back home with every intention to head down to Charlotte to a 12th Night party (12th Night of Christmas is January 6th, Three Kings' Day) where many of my rennie friends would be, but I got home, sat down, and was done. Not near enough sleep! So tired was I that I left my phone in the car! Which means no alarm. But I slept in and it was glorious.

And then came the snow. It was really pretty on Monday, but the roads are crap right now. A lot more ice in this storm than the snow we got for Christmas, and the back(ish)-roads that I live on aren't cleared. I'm hoping that they clear up soon. I'm eager to get back into classes and work. Honestly, I'm getting a touch of the cabin fever. But I've been doing a lot reading on my new nook(not capitalized on purpose). And getting a lot of use out of my new TV. Both Christmas presents. I just need to find some excuses to break out my awesome new fedora!

I'm looking forward to 2011. There's a lot of good things coming around the horizon. I'm hoping to make more personal health improvements. I'd like to make some stronger improvements than in years past, but I am improved. And improving. I'm approaching 30. I turn 29 in a few months. And I am going to be AWESOME by the time I hit 30.

bring. it. on.