They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Apr 30, 2010

AOM, 30 Days, Day Three...

Find a mentor...

What the hell does a 31 year old man need with a mentor?  Well given the fact that I am a 31 year old child I guess I could handle one.

This one also required some thought.  Ugh, me and my thoughts again.  That's never good.

So I sat down and started thinking of what I would want in a mentor.

I came up with a few things, in no particular order.  He's got to be older than me.  Duh, how can you get mentored by someone whom you have underwear older than? 

He's gotta be a working man.  You know the type I'm talking about (they're an endangered species).  The guys that have been working at the same job for 20 some years, getting up before the sun and hitting the road to work. 

He's got to be a serviceman.  For no other reason that if I need or want to talk about the military he's got to know what I'm talking about.  I can't stop to explain every acronym or slang term. 

He's got to be the kind of guy that doesn't shy away from a daunting challenge.  The kind of guy that when there's something that needs to be done, he shows up early and leaves late. 

And I don't want one of those guy's that every thing always seems to work out for.  I want a guy that has weathered a few shit storms in his life.  This is why you can't trust rich people.  You can't trust a man that doesn't have the scars that a real life will put on you.  And the only way you get those scars is if you run headlong into life and the storms that come with it.

He's got to be a family man.  A guy that loves and cares for his children.  I hate to say that I actually have to specify this because it should be automatic.  But nowadays you run into more than a few guys that could care less that they have children and/or wives.  This one's simple.  I want to have a family someday and you can't really take family advice from a lifelong bachelor.

Lastly, he's got to be a believer.  I'm not talking about God.  Though that helps.  I'm talking about in himself and in the inherent goodness of people.  He can't be a cynic.  This is important because I find myself getting more and more cynical as time goes by and this is something that I definitely want to put a stop to.  So asking a cynic how not to be cynical would be counterproductive to say the least.

Then they told me to write down three men that I want to be my mentor.  We'll get back to this one.

Wait, let's stop there.  Because as I read the rest of the task I realized that it was unnecessary.  The rest was about how a mentor could help you grow as a man and figuring out who it would be and asking them and blah, blah, blah.

None of this matters for me because I realized that I didn't really need to ask anyone.  I already had about 25 of them.  You see I'm a member of the American Legion.  And I am a member of Post 1205 in Wood Dale, IL.

There's no shortage of advice coming from all those old farts.  Never could a guy ask for a better bunch of men to mentor him.  They met every criteria I set forth previously.  These are working men, these are men that have been through the ringer.  Some going as far back as Korea, most from Vietnam, some more from the Gulf, and then a few from Iraq and Afghanistan.  And they're all believers, if they weren't they sure as shit wouldn't be members of the Legion.

They have done so much for me without even realizing it.  They've always helped me through whatever the hell lunacy was the order of the day in my life.  They've put up with my shit for going on 6 years now.  They made sure I knew that I was missed and supported while I was gone overseas this last time, and they'll be right there if I have to do it again.

More importantly, in fact most importantly, they've given me a safe place to go and decompress and get through this whole readjustment process.  You see, I haven't exactly had a cake walk since I got home.  Going back to a civilian after a year of that shit is a "daunting challenge".  One that saw my sick time balance go from 110 hrs down to 24.  You know, staying home from work A LOT.  Relationships becoming relationshits and so on.  No need for all the boo who poor me shit.

But there was always that place where I knew I could go and be completely at ease.  Which is a big deal.  Hadn't been completely at ease for an entire year, even while I was sleeping I was tense.  But there's always that place.  Walk in the door and you're guaranteed to know someone there.  They'll sit with and talk to you, and welcome you in.  That's what I needed more than anything.  Hell, they'll even give you your job back just to get you out of the house and back with people that care about you.

For these things I can't thank them enough.

And when I figured all that out, I thought who the hell needs only one mentor when you can have a shit ton of them?  And who needs to ask them when they're already just waiting for you to ask for their help?

So that's that. 

Anyways, tomorrow's task is Increasing my testosterone!  Oh fuck yeah, this should be a fun one.  Especially since I am going to a wedding tomorrow.  Throw a nice increase in testosterone with a hard night of drinking and let's see what she gets! (Woops)


I love you Mom...

Apr 29, 2010

AOM, 30 Days, Day Two...

Shine my shoes. 

What kind of sick degenerate thinks of this stuff?  I have shined so many shoes in my life its literally mind boggling.  I was in the Army for a grand total of 6 years, and I've been in the national guard for another 5 almost 6.  All of my active duty time was in the Military Police corps and it was during a long forgotten era when we wore black leather boots!  And black leather boots are nothing more than a sick joke perpetuated upon my generation by the powers that be who basically said, "Hey we had to shine them damn things, so they've got to do it too!"

We had to shine those things until you could see yourself in them.  And if we did not...then we were mercilessly ridiculed and punished by our sadistic superiors.  Anyone remember this one, "Looks like you shined your boots with a candy bar!"

I never could quite understand why we had to shine something that was destined to be tramped through a million fields of mud and general shit, but mine is not to reason why.

Needless to say, I harbor some animosity toward the whole idea of polishing anything other than my carrot!  But the program says Day two is shine your shoes.  So I did.  Luckily, I actually had a need for shining shoes.  In this case it is the fact that I am going to a wedding on Saturday and I bought a new sack of rags (clothes) and a new pair of shoes.  So I said what the hell, let's shine 'em.

Here's the before and after pictures.  I only gave them a good once over.  Didn't go balls to the wall yet.  Only used polish, boot brush, water and an old t-shirt.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll throw some more kiwi on there and bust out the lighter to really bring out that shine.  I mean at one point in time I used a small blow torch to get the shine into my boots really deep!  However, I imagine that only soldiers will understand that kind of goofiness.

Like I said, I didn't put a huge shine on them.  I just gave the a good once over and got one with my day.  But I think there may be some method to the madness of this thing.  Either that, or I am just creating the meaning where there is none.  In any case, it works.

So as I was sitting there shining away.  Even a good once over takes about an hour.  And it sort of amazed me how calming the repetitiveness of it all was.  My mind quieted, my thoughts slowed to a crawl and I just kept rubbing those tiny little circles on the toe and heel of my shoes.

Was this what was supposed to happen?  Hell if I know, its just what happened to me.  And I'm cool with that.  If there's one thing that I crave nowadays its a quiet mind.  I'll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that its been quite an adjustment since I came home.  I saw a pile of rocks on the side of the road the other day, and I damn near killed myself swerving away from it.  Gotta watch that sort of shit.  After it was all over it made me laugh.  I mean I drive a nice Chrysler 300.  Leather heated seats, plush interior, sun roof, and all the bells and whistles you could want.  And for a minute there, I was sitting right behind the wheel of a humvee and I wasn't driving down a major interstate highway I was bouncing along the dirt shit roads of southeastern Afghanistan.  It was funny and creepy all at once.  I suppose that's what a flashback is.

That little adventure aside, things just race through my mind constantly now.  Its not like they are dominating my thoughts or anything, they're just a constant noise in the background.  And every so often, like on the highway, they come roaring to the forefront.

But shining my shoes cut out the background noise.  Who knows why or how?  Because I don't and I sure would like to.  But at least for the hour that I was polishing my shoes the only thing I heard in the background was the Marshall Tucker band coming from my stereo.

And it sounded good.  It sounded real good.


I love you Mom...

Day 3 is find a mentor.

Apr 27, 2010

AOM, 30 Days, Day One...

My virtuamom informed me recently that she missed my writing so....

So I found a new website that I like.

Here it is.

Its basically a collection of articles and other shit that they've put together that explain and advocate the lost "Art of Manliness"

And since I am currently in possession of a Y chromosome, this is something that is important to me.

So I started poking around to see what I could find.

Here's the first one that I found that really sparked my interest...30 Days to a Better Man

Who the hell wouldn't want to be a better man in 30 days?  I'd like to be a better man in 30 days.  So let's see what they have to say.

So I read it and found out that I have a series of 30 tasks to do.  Ugh, what is this the Army!  Even websites are putting me to work!  Haha, well it could be always be worse.

First of all, I have to do them one day at a time...oh how much fun will this be? (Where's the sarcasm button when you need it.)

The very first task is (what I thought to be) pretty simple.  Define your core values.

5 of them.

This turned out to be a bitch!  So I sat down in on my balcony, freezing my nuts off, and I wrote.  Came up with an initial list of about 30 things that were important to me.  then realized that I only get five.  So 30 isn't going to cut it. 

Next thing I realized was that a lot of things were easily combined into the same thing.  For example, industriousness and independence in my head were roughly the same thing, or at least one was the result of the other so I was able to cut the list down.

After that I still had about 15 of them and I took another look and realized that a couple of my values conflicted with one another and I had to pick which one meant the most. 

I am talking about loyalty and honesty.  First of all, I have the word "loyal" in Korean tattooed on my calf.  Yes I know, its cliche and a ridiculous tattoo.  I mean between the ages of 18 and 22 I was little more than a human doodle pad.  But loyalty means a lot to me.  Being loyal to my God, my country, my family and my friends means a lot to me.  I think that I've always been pretty good about it. 

Honesty on the other hand is a conflicting value.  Here's what I mean.  Can anyone think of any situation where dishonesty may be required in order to maintain your loyalty?  I sure can!  And these situations truly suck.  But they happen.  And when they do you have a choice to make.  Are you going to be honest or are you going to be loyal?  Me, I'm going to be loyal.  End of story.  You can agree with me or disagree because I know this is a sticky one. 

Then there's the argument that a friend would never ask you to lie.  True, no real friend would ever ask you to lie for them.  But the situations may crop up from time to time where they need you to, whether they ask or not.

So I ran my list down.  Got it down to 5.  So here they are.

1.  Loyalty (has already been explained.)  Being loyal to your God, country, friends and family is easily the most important thing that a man can be.  So far as I'm concerned.

2.  Industriousness-I never really knew that this one was important to me until I got home from AssCrackIstan.  I got like 3 months off of work and 3 months of No Army bullshit.  3 months to just do whatever the hell I wanted.  Which translated into quite a bit of drinking, sleeping, eating and that's about it.  I didn't have to do any kind of work for 3 months.  Just lazed around and didn't do much of anything.  This drove me NUCKING FUTS.  I've been working pretty well straight (with an 8 month hiatus after high school) since I was 12. 

Industriousness is what led to one of my other values being struck from the list.  Independence.  Means a lot to most people.  Standing on your own two feet and meeting this world head on.  Yep, but there is none of that unless you get your ass to work first!

3.  Adventure-Oh boy this is a biggie with me.  Without sounding like I'm tooting my own horn.  I volunteered for Afghanistan.  I volunteered for the Army.  I begged, literally begged to go to Haiti (which didn't happen) and on and on.  Get me up, get me out!  Here's the comfort zone and I want to be at least 10 miles from that!  Not always possible but I love it there.  Comfort is the enemy of life if you ask me.  The only time that people ever do much good for their lives is when they're uncomfortable.  Suffice it to say that adventure is really important to me.

4.  Education-this one is courtesy of my dear mother.  She has drilled it into my skull since I was knee high to a grasshopper.  Get your education, keep your nose in them books, learn all you can from everyone you can.  And on and on and on.  When I was a kid, I bucked against this.  Hated school, didn't do real well, never read anything that wasn't forced on me.  Then I grew up and by virtue of getting taller my head was removed from my ass and I realized that she was absolutely right all the way.  Since then (and now I am tooting my own horn) I've read literally thousands of books, gotten a college degree with honors, and am doing all I can to get back into school now.  It may seem a little juvenile but there's nothing quite like that "eureka" moment when something that previously you didn't understand becomes clear to you.

5.  Humor-if you've been with me for a while you know that sarcasm is a gift that I have that just won't stop giving.  No matter how badly you want it to stop.  This one in my mind is pretty simple.  The world is a helluva messed up place and people are flipping out of their damn minds!  Bearing that in mind if you can't laugh at, and/or make fun of all this crazy shit then you are going to have a simultaneously very boring and very difficult life.

Well there's the five that I came up with.  I figure that these, like the constitution are living things and who knows what they are going to change to in the future.  Like I said didn't much like education when I was a kid and now I can't get enough of it.  So there's the first day.  Tomorrow I have to shine my shoes!  Can you believe that? 

Well that actually works out.  I've gotta go to a wedding on Saturday and I just bought a new pair of shoes and they need a shine.  I'll take a couple before/after pictures and you guys can judge my work.

Other than that, things are progressing nicely.  PTSD is under control.  And hopefully, I'll be writing more soon as I go through this 30 day thing. 

To all the men reading this.  Check out that Art of Manliness site.  Its got some really good stuff.



I love you Mom...

Apr 8, 2010

Another Question...


And then someone tell me why all these businesses feel that they deserve to be bailed out and/or assisted by the government? 

Whatever happened to survival of the fittest?  I knew we killed that long ago socially, but economically I thought it might still have a chance.