Thursday, September 8, 2011

I say a little prayer for you

I can hear thunder.

This is odd/notable because even though it rains up here like nobody's business, we've been in the "sunny season" lately. Also, even the frequent precipitation of earlier months was largely devoid of thunder/lightning. A slow, steady drizzle that moistened rather than drenched.

I've been in my convalescent leave now for two and a half weeks, and though originally I planned to write a lot during this time, I haven't. Writing seems to be more prevalent when I'm sad, or angsty, or working through something... I guess only the latter applies, and I'm not talking about medical here. Basically, the interior monologue, the war (if you will) that I've been processing, chewing on, regurgitating and re(?)regurgitating is: at what point do I say, I'm an adult? When do I get comfortable enough... no, not really the right word. When do I get confident enough? Secure enough that I live my life, acknowledging that I will never make some people happy, but to try any other way will be to make myself unhappy. Oh, conundrums. As Rick Nelson sang, "You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself." I feel like I'm walking into my own Garden Party.

I've also been busy falling in love. Falling in life. Doing laundry. Doing dishes. Taking walks. Listening. Telling long stories. Watching (or not watching) movies. It's been restorative in the way that restoration is, and the way that my life wasn't before.

Liza is beyond alright. And I assure you, more is to come.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

halves and wholes

If I didn't nap every day, I wouldn't have trouble getting to sleep at night. If I didn't have trouble getting to sleep every night, I wouldn't nap every day.

I lay in bed on my back, gazing out the window, one hand idly rubbing my stomach-- feeling the stretched skin, the hardness underneath. I wonder if it grew today. I wonder how much it grows in a day- this mass inside, swelling at the root of me. It lives in the center of my guts, like a pit. The flesh around it swells, is displaced. The only way to part the fruit for the seed is with a knife.

The same hollowbody riff plays out in my brain, a simple bit of melody with a glass slide, over and over. I get fixated on the repetition. It comes around again and I hang on, oscillate, reach for the sound I know is coming. My favorite part of a song is the opening bars.
So pregnant with possibility, even if I already know the ending.

Friday, July 29, 2011

and by night I traced her spine.

went to a Brandi Carlile show last night up in Bellingham with two friends: one of a lengthy acquaintance, the other quite recent.

I could say a lot about that, but just imagine what I might say and you get the idea. I didn't really sit still all night. We went for beers and snackies post show, and I soaked up the delight of fellow humans against the backdrop of bad appetizers, neon beer lights and cheap furnishings. We all looked each other in the eyes. I laughed low and deep, and meant it. I told Angie I worried about, in my fumbling efforts to not miss anything in life, that maybe I was missing everything all the while. I always have to leave it behind. All of it. In order to have hands reaching out, they have to be empty.

And I remain restless.

On the drive home I thought and thought, about how the last time I drove you home I almost reached over and held your hand, and the subconscious part of me was the one orchestrating, and at the last minute the sane part of me sat up and prevented the unknown. Last night, we laughed and I touched your leg with my palm while we were laughing and you grabbed my hand, my whole forearm even, and clutched it to your chest. Just for the record, because I enjoyed it, I'm going to say so. I enjoyed it. Connection, you are elusive, but by God when I find you I'm going to take you by the throat with the utmost gentleness and respect and not let go.

I couldn't see the stars. And I traced the coastline, the knobbled pitted spine of the earth, back to my island home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

early morning hiss

So, yeah- it's just after 4 a.m. I just got awoken in the oddest way, which was by a combination of a thunking noise, hissing, the motion sensor light on the garage turning on, and something moving outside my window. Apparently a stray cat thought it would be a great idea to jump up onto the screen/sill of my bedroom window; or maybe a stray cat has three-foot-tall legs and happened to be going for an early stroll. At any rate, my two suddenly defensive felines stood braced against the glass, hissing for all they were worth. As I sat up, the outside cat ran away.

I've never heard Boomer hiss before. I felt so... championed. Olive is still sitting against the glass, rumbling in near-silent sentry.

It reminded me of the time when Lindsay was gone, and I let Bella sleep with me in Jacksonville (something she never would have approved of, but I loved). The powerfully-built pitbull mix leapt off my bed in the middle of the night, snarling and barking as she ran out to the front door. My heart leapt like an out-of-control freight train. After a moment, I called her back, and her large square head laid down on my heart when she clambered back up with me on still-shaking, wound-up legs.

Nothing has ever warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart more.

Now, the cats just probably want to fight and hiss because they like fighting and hissing. But I'm choosing to believe they were defending their mama because they would lay down their lives for me. Allow me to continue in my delusion.

I talked to Joe and Faith over the weekend separately, but the same subject arose with both. As I look forward to all this medical crap- consultations, MRIs (which I'm curious about but not really looking forward to, per-se), surgery, recovery and whatnot, it's the first time this year I wish I wasn't single. I've been enjoying my singularity this year, truly-- stretching into my self, this life, this adult skin and moreover trusting myself to do the right thing with me. Not to cut God out of it, but I think you have to let yourself go a little, and know you're going to be ok. At least, that's what I've been working on.

Their responses, and the same responses I've gotten from Brian, Ellen, Katie, Steven, Tracey, even Princess and the Skipper, is whatever I need, they'll help out. Tracey sat next to me during the ultrasound. Katie wants to be there for the surgery. Ellen and Faith want to nursemaid. Tim wants to keep me company while I recover. Mom's planning on flying out. Brian has promised to drop everything, even if I so much as just want to talk. Honestly, I feel like I have a whole group of cats hissing at the window, and the generosity and quickness of it all is near-overwhelming.

In the midst of even crappy times, I have to just shake my head at how damn blessed I am. New friends and old friends line up, rank and file, and blow my mind. I can feel your square head against my heart, guys. It feels wonderful.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

seven wonders

If I live to see the seven wonders
I'll make a path to the rainbow's end
I'll never live to match the beauty again--

I know I hinted last post, but the ultrasound on Friday confirmed it; I've got something growing in me. MRI scheduled for sometime this week. I get my bloodwork and ultrasound results back Tuesday, when I follow up with the flight surgeon. It's not going to kill me, but it is rather annoying. I'll, uh, try to keep y'all posted, I guess.

Slipped out of town twice this weekend, listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and got downright intoxicated on getting to know someone new. I work with a lot of brilliant people, but sometimes somebody comes along that more than clicks, and it is a most welcome intrusion. I forgot what it was like to feel all restless in your legs and twitchy in your lips. To look at someone, and know, and be bothered and not bothered all at once. Distracting as all hell, is what. And the sauce of life.

Drove up into the mountains today, towering sheets of thick rock, clouds that look like more snow in the sky framing snow below. It wasn't planned. Every time Ellen took a switchback, I couldn't help but exclaim. We drove past cascades, close enough that my arm was misted in cold spray. There were rivers, and lakes, and trees, greener than green and taller than tall. The air was sweet and whole. Kids were playing on mounds of dirty snow, and a girl trudged past me in shorts, lugging a snowboard. I felt clean up there, and ready.

at a certain time, a certain place
you touched my hand
and you smiled--

this next week will probably be just as weird as last week, and you all should know sometimes I think I'm crazy for this, but I still just wake up grateful. Grateful for sky and water and sound and a pumping heart that keeps me feeling all of it, keeps me awake, keeps me alive. As long as the road is there, I'm up for the journey.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

days like this.

Last night, somewhere close to midnight, I woke to a sound that was reminiscent of a small plunger.

"NO." I commanded, kicking Olive off the bed about 0.6 seconds before she started vomiting. She does this maybe once a year... certainly not enough to make me angry. And at least, if it's on the floor-- well, the floor is my preference to the bed. I drifted back to sleep. I have the watch, and sleep is a precious thing. You never know when you won't get any.

0348, Super Mario Bros. jangles next to my head, the phone vibrating on top of a stack of books: leadership principles by a female Marine Captain, a collegiate tome on feminist theology, capped off with a jewelcase of Sim City 3000. I can't get it to run properly on my laptop. I just want to put down some orderly streets.


It's my boss while I'm on watch, and we've had an incident. "My God," the words tumble out of my mouth, lack of mental clarity leading directly to lack of filter.

He decides I should only come in a half an hour early, 0530 instead of 0600, and after I hang up I just lay there in the dark. I could probably get another 45 minutes of sleep, but there's something about hearing the dark twist of a person's loneliness that keeps me awake. This is a very different thing than regurgitated cat food. I can see the sky out my window, and it's a dense charcoal. Enough to smother a body, given the chance.

On the way to work, I'm autistic and just listen to the same song over and over. Deception Pass is indefinite, the choking fog obscuring the road ahead, the dropoff over the sides into the churning slate tide below. I'm driving into nothingness. More than fear, I feel liberation.

The next four and a half hours are a steady, brisk pace of tracking down information, talking to the right people, talking to the wrong people, dead-ending, re-formatting, and digging up direction that really could be read any number of ways. I get Jen to cover for me while I go to the doctor, and find out nothing I didn't already know. I'm scheduled for an ultrasound on Friday, so we'll see how that goes. I do pretty well in the car, really only teetering on the edge of losing it when I get a text from Tracey: "I always have time for you."

Days like this, you look up at the sky above you.
Days like this, you think about the ones that love you.
And all I wanna do is live my life honestly.
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me.
Every regret I have will go set it free.
It will be good for me.

I go in and tell almost nobody. This is my news right now, and that's it (so y'all keep your mouths shut, too). Think of me with kindness, if you think of me. The next week is probably going to be a little bumpy.
The boss offers to give me the rest of the day off, and I decline. I have a job to do, don't I?

We get the damned report off, finally, and I relax for a minute as the day, the lack of sleep, the lethargy catches up to me and bears down on my shoulders. Up ahead of me, through the half-door, I get beckoned. Seems I didn't read the right mind at the right time, and something that should be great isn't so great and I'm standing tall, defending something I'm proud of. I can't even muster enough energy to put a little passion in my voice. I say what needs to be said, and all that echoes in my mind is a single word: bullshit.

Days like this.
Yeah you think about the ones that went before you.
Days like this.

I lean on the open window, ignore the turning engines and whine of the APU and let the breeze blow in.

And all I wanna do is live my life honestly.
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me.
Every regret I have will go set it free.
It will be good for me.
It will be good for me.

The last plane takes off around 1930. The clouds are grey, but they can't hide the cornflower above them.

Days like this.
That you think about the ones that love you.
Days like this.
Have you ever seen the sky such a clear blue.

(soundtrack for this post courtesy of Over The Rhine.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Joe and I, listening to a particularly fine piece of music.

Cluphead: i want to spacewalk to that one day
Cluphead: even if it is when all my particles just belong to space
Eidolon JS: that's the best time to spacewalk
Cluphead: i hope i remember it , that music
Cluphead: and float along with the space
Eidolon JS: at least, seems like it would be
Cluphead: it certainly cuts out the middle man
Cluphead: and it is pretty much what i would consider heaven
Eidolon JS: yeah
Cluphead: not because it is the lofty skies
Eidolon JS: me too
Cluphead: but because it would be absolute pinnacle complete contentment
Eidolon JS: to me it would be because of the absolute 100% integration into the components of the universe
Cluphead: i hope my particles bump into yours.

Monday, July 4, 2011

fire on the mountain

tonight I had a moment; I know my penchant for these, bear with me. I was going down on a knee, reaching for a volleyball in the backyard of a palatial home on Denver's south side, a house belonging to the parents of a dear friend of mine. I got sweaty enough to pull my hair back, and laughed as we kept the ball going in circles and only occasionally over the fence into the untamed prairie beyond. I was playing with a Moroccan, a Frenchman, and a Jew, and it was the most natural and easy thing in the world.

After brats and burgers and flaming shots of about 5 different liquors, we wandered out in the road and lit off about 60 dollars worth of fireworks. From the vantage point on the hill, we could see about twenty individual shows, the country club being the closest. If you kept your head on a swivel and remembered to look behind you, the best show of all may have been up in the foothills, illuminating black against vibrant golds and greens at rapid interval. The whole mountain looked like it was erupting. Like it was on fire.

I saw something earlier today to the effect of, after 235 years, it's definitely not perfect, but it's still the best idea. Talking with Elise, who lives in the north of France, made me realize our excess-- but also our push to celebrate ourselves. They never do anything like this, on this scale. I thought how we were just looking at the south of one medium sized city, and how the whole country was lighting up like this. We all do it together, because for one night it just feels good to celebrate. To throw a smoke bomb, or wave a sparkler, or get silly with some kind of mystery cocktail. To laugh when the automatic sprinklers turn on while everyone is laying on the lawn. To play volleyball in the land of the free, home of the brave, with whoever is there, because we are friends. Because that is what America is all about.

After the show, the owner of the house took me down in his basement and showed me pictures of his mom, who was a WASP in WWII. There she was, standing on the wing with one leg on the edge of the cockpit, sass just dripping off of her with that flight jacket and silk scarf. She's in the ground now, has been for years, but we build on that. I've reaped the rewards of every time she climbed in that bird and did her job because it was worth doing. Tonight somebody had the watch at OCS, and somebody's land nav'ing around the desert in California or maybe the wild woods of Maine, running into cacti or tripping over roots. It's not perfect, but it's better than good.

I'm glad I'm here; I'm glad it's now. We've got good days ahead, and I'll be happy to be there too. Happy 235th Birthday, you grand ol' gal.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

'Merca Weekend

Greetings from the Mountain State. I'm in Denver this long weekend for some R&R and celebratory happenings re: our country's birthday. The only things on the agenda: long drives, BBQ's, adult beverages, petting dogs, lazing away in the summer heat. Almost forgot what that last one felt like in the wild north.

So, for those of you stumbling by this location that don't pay attention to my facebook (and why would you, really?), I've been given the gift of peace of mind this weekend as well. My Skipper pulled me aside at the command picnic on Thursday, telling me with a somber face that he had bad news. He then dropped a bomb of good news like nobody's business all over my head, confiding with a grin that I've gotten the last elusive PAO slot of the fiscal year. I shook with laughter/shock, the edges of the periphery--filled with a whole roast pig, dunk tank, creepy clown and climbing wall--dulling to a soft background. I hugged him, twice. He laughed with me, and told me he thought I'd be an admiral one day. LB said f*ck encouragingly, and I stumbled off behind the pavilion to call my mom. I sank to my knees in my dress corduroys, facing Victoria Island and the vast flinty swath of Puget Sound, and heard every last note of sincerity and relief in her voice--and mine.

I've been tense for a long time, in my deep gut, probably the seat of the soul that the ancient Israelites describe or perhaps the tsubo of Japanese martial arts. And it is released. I'm not worried now. Waking up this morning, and yesterday morning, and tomorrow morning and all the mornings after, I just feel good, peaceful even. It is really nice to feel this good.

SO here I am, sitting in Denver, and when I get here there's a welcome message with hand-cut-out stars on the bathroom mirror, and a handmade Regretsy coffee coozie waiting for me. And enough beer and chinese food to lay me up for a long while. I have so many people in my life that want and love me, it blows my little mind from time to time. I just want you all to know: I appreciate you. Every little bit of what you do makes me feel loved and gives me strength to keep going, keep pushing, wake up each day and decide that I'm not going to quit. So thanks.

I'm gonna go get lost in the mountains now. Have a great Fourth!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

eventual eventuality

and I had watch yesterday till almost balls, and today I felt like a drunk slug at work. Admittedly, it was a short day- but I get the watch right back tonight and have it again until late tomorrow.

I was talking with Senior this morning, about kidney stones and too many hours at a desk, and I told her, well, somebody around here needs to work for a living. Might as well be me. She seemed a little surprised, broke into a tired grin, and said that she liked my attitude. I don't get why it should be anything out of the ordinary.

On the phone with Mom, I told her that hope I end up in Japan for this first stint. She wasn't careful enough and didn't quite mask the disappointment in her voice. I just want to go; go do something else, something useful. Years from now I don't want to be the only one that looks back at what I did. I balance this in my mind- am I merely being self-serving? Question any motive long enough and you'll winnow out some selfishness, I'd wager.

Been listening to some Over the Rhine this afternoon, introducing new friends to the tipping point in their musical consciousness. What is it about a certain artist that will resonate so deeply with certain people? I can't imagine not connecting with Linford's words, Karin's voice. But really, as long as we're being honest here, if the music's not shit I'll probably like it.

I think I'm going to get up and take a walk. I really want to know what this board has decided, and the more I say I'm not thinking about it, the more I'm lying to myself and everyone else. I want this thing so bad. More than that, I just want to know what's next. I like to be prepared for every eventuality. I bet it looks nothing like I think it will, no matter what it is-- but that's ok. It'll get here, eventually.

Monday, June 27, 2011

time lapse.

This last weekend I found myself in the middle of a massive, shaking crowd; people sweating, lights flashing, music thudding and blaring and pumping. I enjoyed it at first, and then as a longer moment passed I found myself doing more staring than dancing. Many times I feel like an observer, internal to my own body, external to everything else. Fully into adulthood, tall and broad, and I stare like a little child in wonderment. A kindly near stranger pulls me out of the street- the anarchists come rushing by, hooded, blackened, pushing at the gates, the linked fence.

"Be careful," she warns, patiently and without condescension. I needed (and heeded) the warning.

I am welcome among strangers, at home among friends.

Sometimes I worry about being alone, but I have to laugh at myself as I walk to the car, hoofing it for 45 minutes past apartment buildings and over interstates buzzing in the heart of a new city. This is not an easy thing, to be as transient as I am. I wonder if I will ever meet anyone who's interesting in keeping up.

I can smell the sweetness of the blossoms on the branches just as well alone.

There's so much I don't know. The more I learn, the more I see, the more there is before me. Life is an inexplicable container.

A car sits off to the side of the freeway, and a man gets strapped to a backboard. The traffic thins out on the otherside, the slipstream picking me up and shuffling me on. The ride home is peaceful, and the islands rise up out of the water like massive, old stones glossed with moss and trees. The mountains wait patiently on the shore.

I think about leaving a lot. There is a wildness here that I love, a newness and oldness that marries up into perfect reflection, tall evergreens doubled from glassy lakes into heavy gray skies. I'm always restless inside, like a little stone in the bottom of a boot. I can never get quite comfortable. But I'm not looking forward to it. Sometimes I think I love things too hard, because I can never let go cleanly enough.

Time lapse. Another year runs by, and I stare into the beyond.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

solstice and everything after

first of all, I should be working out right now. or folding clothes. but I'm not- I'm eating about half a loaf of rye bread, torn off in little chunks, and staring at my laptop. I guess I enjoy it more than working out.

This morning was cold. 53 degrees, poppets, and misty- cold enough I was wearing my leather jacket and still suppressing an occasional brr. The summer solstice was two days ago, and that's what you get, I guess, when you can see Canada from your house.

I feel pretty placeless- sitting on a fence right now of instability, insecurity, and that niggling bitterness that probably won't ever leave my soft palate alone. I guess I always moved forward with this philosophy that if you gave something your best, I mean really went all balls-to-the-wall, you'd get by without any regrets. I'm finding out that isn't completely true. Maybe this feeling will dissipate, time heals everything, right Jerry Herman? The landscape of where my life could go, must go next seems frenetic: a tableau of ships, grey hulking superstructures--all flat tops and squared edges. Rolling fields of flinty, white-capped waves. I wanted this. Did I? I think I did... I can't remember.

I'm trying not to think about it. After all, the decision has been made, the board has deliberated, and I just don't know it yet, the future that is my future that is bogged down in the cogs and machinery of bureaucracy. I stand watch. I write, remembering the forgotten feel of banging out a hardline news story. Reaching for that twist-of-a-phrase in the human interest piece, grabbing the glint of a command bell against a flag. Simple tasks. Things I can do.

There will be plenty of time this year, for this cold solstice. And everything after.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

coming down is the hardest thing

"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"

The diminuitive flight surgeon looked across the small office at me, her face a measured mask of compassion and regret. I breathed in a moment, pursing my lips as I looked down at brown flight boots, nicked in dozens of little places. Dusty, still, and more beat up than they should be at their age, no thanks to a week out in the field at SERE.

It had come to this. I thought back to my first time, in the back of the Cessna, puking up husks of pumpkin seeds while Dave had a go at his third landing of the day. Later on, in the T-6, popping my mask to huck up stomachfuls of bile and belch out hot, gingery burps.

"You back up with me?" the IP would ask, and I'd lock my mask back up to my face, gulp down the 100% and say, "Yes, ma'am. I'm here." You've really got to make sure you get the ziplock seal good for the split S, cause it's coming up next. Interestingly, I didn't puke during the spin. I think I was so concentrated on oil pressure and not dying, my gut forgot.

Pills work wonders. They also slowly kill you. Moderation in everything, I suppose.

Jacksonville, after quaking in delight at my selection letter. LT Sagehorn half-laughing at me, one eyebrow drawn up. And in-between bailout drills that would never actually be carried out anyway, I'd reach for my bag, beneath the airsave vest and tucked into the chest of my flightsuit. Eating bright orange goldfish at least provides for some variety on the way back up. Tip: bananas taste the same the second time.

Two flights out from winging, and the dreaded "I word" shows up on my gradesheet. Incapacitated. Acclimation flight after acclimation flight, and I find myself packing back up for Pensacola, ready to jockey a chair for eight weeks, forty-five minutes a chop. And laying on the floor afterwards, grateful to press my face against the dirty carpet because it wasn't moving. I pass because, unlike my stomach I can control my mind, and I can trick myself about that damned chair. The old muppet-shaped man signs my paperwork, and I'm splitsville.

Two days later back in Jax and I barf four times on a Tac flight. I make my peace with flight, grateful to God that my last moments out here in the delirious burning blue would be over these glinting waters, blue-and-fire in the late Floridian afternoon sun. A leaf tells me not to get discouraged, back in STUCON. I wonder when the right time for that might be. They wrangle me Q orders, promising that I'll be able to hack it if I can adjust to a Nav flight profile. I get limped through, nursing drills and taking breaks standing in the flight station whenever my skin starts to crawl. Months belated, my folks come down, I have a dozen guests and I get my wings after all, feet shoved into spraypainted shoes and tearing up after it's over.

And then SERE, and Advanced SERE-- training that left me with loose teeth and a permanent frayed nerve when it comes to Rudyard Kipling. My clearance. Flight physicals. Now here I am in Washington, and after thousands of miles and multiple airframes, there is one constant. I threw up on my first flight, and now I either get queasy or pass out. How far am I willing to go? There's surfing the knife edge, but if you slip, the severance is brutal and permanent. I think about the kids in the back. The clouds where mountains hide. My own exhaustion, keeping even pace with me this whole time. I look at my hands for a moment, and know one thing above all others: Not on my watch.

I look back up at Doc Pham.

"Yeah, I am." I sigh. "Cause I'm not going to."

She smiles, gently shakes her head. She's already told me she hates this part. Who wouldn't?

"Ok, go talk to your department head."

There's a moment, I blink my eyes and let her words sink into my skin. I walk out in a daze and cry in a corner of the hangar, my favorite Chief Warrant holding my shoulder and being altogether softer with me than she usually is. I keep my back to everything else, letting her see this raw part of me, but nobody else. Leslie told me back at OCS, you cry in your room if you need to, but when you open that door and walk out, it is game on. Nobody needs to know. I wipe my face and take a few shaky breaths. Soon this, too, will be a memory.


As of last Thursday, I have been permanently grounded from flight, aeromedically disqualified due to chronic airsickness. I'm going to stay Navy, but I don't know what I'll be doing yet. Something good, because I don't jack around.

I don't know what the timeline is for anything. I don't know what comes next. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks for caring. And for the record, I'm ok.

As Chappy said in "Happy Texas," one of my favorite movies of all time: "That's what life's for, isn't it? Findin' out."