July Four

 

I spent July 4th this year in Romania and the year before that I spent it at work. I felt a little relief by being out of the country this year for it even though I really couldn’t escape the holiday. In Bucharest, they flew extra Romanian flags in honor of the Fourth of July.

I was asked what I thought of the particular holiday and I gave my honest response as always: “It’s a well developed commercialized long weekend for a lot of people. It’s all about camping, BBQing, fireworks and extra discount sales at retail stores. For a lot of people who have to work, it means getting up earlier for work or having to stay late resulting in lack of sleep or not being able to partake in the festivities.” And if you complain about it, the typical American response is “find a different job”.

Fireworks can be heard from about the middle of June to about a week after the actual holiday. It’s annoying. It’s obnoxious. The way I see things is: the Fourth of July has lost it’s meaning. No one really celebrates what they’re really supposed to be celebrating. And when you get down to the actual nuts and bolts of America, would you really want to celebrate that? People want to be patriotic and claim they love America and say that America is the greatest country in the entire world. I beg to differ.

I travel a lot. I’ve been to just about every major city in America and I’ve traveled to many countries abroad. I’ve been to combat, I’ve seen countries and cities that any normal person probably wouldn’t add to their bucket list of places to see. With all the places I’ve seen, I can already tell you that America isn’t the greatest. There are great things about America just like there are great things about other countries that make them great too. I’ll give you an example. I traveled to Romania recently and I experienced a country with little to no crime. Of course, when you get closer to the big cities like Bucharest, the crime rate increases, naturally. Just like here in America. But America has a huge crime problem. Every time I turn on the news or look at social media, there’s a murder, a rape, there’s drug use to epidemic proportions. When I worked in downtown Seattle, I saw hypodermic needles on just about every street corner. Either there’s a lot of diabetics running around dropping needles or there’s a serious problem with drugs.

In Japan I saw one homeless person. One. Granted, I was only there 12 days and secluded myself to the metropolitan area of Tokyo so maybe if I ventured out further I would have seen more. I can walk to the nearest city closest to my house and count ten homeless people right now. What’s so great about that? We have major schools closing down due to lack of budgeting and crooked politicians who lie and cheat their way into office and take our nation to a $7 trillion dollar war for 14 years based on lies and deceit. They spoon feed Americans this crap and we, as a nation, buy into it. I’m ranting, I know. But do you see my point? If America is so great why do we have people like Donald Trump running for president? Why isn’t Hillary Clinton facing some sort of criminal charges? Why are our schools closing and education suffering? Why do we put sports and Keeping up with the Kardashians as our top priorities over knowing the ingredients in our food and making sure corporations, money and greed don’t run this country? We are the people and the government should fear us! But they don’t because we are a nation of sheep.

The fourth of July is good for foreign countries because we buy all our commerce goods like those little plastic American flags from China. What’s patriotic about waving a little plastic American flag that’s manufactured in China? Why aren’t WE, as a nation, providing for ourselves and having solid trade relations with OUR goods to other countries? We have a lot of Toyotas driving around America. But does Japan have a lot of Fords and Chevrolets driving around their country? We allow our goods to be manufactured in other countries for cheaper labor so we have cheaper prices. Is that the end all to it? We stomp on other Americans, ship their jobs overseas and applaud when we get a good deal on a car? It’s disgusting to me. But we let them do it to us.

I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anymore. I haven’t for years. As long as Americans continue to post pictures of their barbequed hamburgers and cheap (who knows what’s in it) hotdogs on Instagram and Twitter, and laughing and happy they’re getting “extra time off from work” instead of taking some time and thinking back on what this country was actually founded on…

The public school system does a great job of glorifying America. I spent some time in college and experienced some history lessons that some times I’d like to forget. But that’s what really happened. I encourage all to take some college history classes and find out the truth. But I digress.

In the end, what does it matter. People will always be people and we all will continue to live in our selfish, self-indulged bubble.

 

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Memorial Day Weekend

I feel like every Memorial Day weekend is based on sales, BBQ-ing and long weekends for people to travel and do whatever.

Recently I attended a Veterans Memorial and the elected officials that attended made a very remarkable statement. The statement, which by the way I can not recall word for word, really hit home. It surrounded around the idea that Veterans in this nation have sort of been pushed to the way side. We name our streets and plants trees for Veterans and have Veterans Day and Memorial Day and all these special dates, times and events, but all I see on social media are “Memorial Day Sale” and “Veterans Day Sale” and barbeques on sale and travel times, etc.

I hope Veterans aren’t forgotten. I hope people actually have a memorable weekend and keep those who served in their thoughts and prayers and don’t succumb to the pressures of a capitalistic weekend brought to you by Macy’s, Sears and whoever else. It’s sad that days like these are surrounded by greed.

But I digress.

I’m going to end this short blog entry with a message to a person who continues to leave comments. Or tries to. JHope@Yahoo.com, I’m sure you’ll read this and it’ll give you some sort of satisfaction that I acknowledged you. I even tried to email you but it says your email is invalid. You left a comment stating “I’m running away like a little bitch.” Yet, this is coming from a person who not only has an email specifically for trolling purposes, but won’t allow any incoming email. That to me says “coward”. I understand the internet is a fun place to go to harass people under an anonymous persona. You don’t have to take any responsibilities for the things you say and you can just disappear whenever you want.

This whole recruiting thing is in the past and forgotten about. It happened nearly ten years ago and I’ve let it all go and moved on. You seem to be thoroughly stuck on it like you want to squash some vendetta you have about the whole thing. Or maybe I’m just giving you too much credit. Who knows. I can’t even recall the First Sergeants name whom you’re speaking about; nor do I care what he’s doing or how he retired. If he retired with full benefits, good for him. Anyone who puts their time in no matter how great or poor of a leader they were, deserves such. Comparatively to the leaders in past units I served it, the ones I had in recruiting were extremely poor. When you have a Company Commander state that he hates recruiting and doesn’t want to be there, take a guess what that does to the morale. Recruiting is a tough gig all the way around. That’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve taken responsibility for the things that happened. And again, I was not kicked out of the service. I had a JAG lawyer and I signed a voluntary resignation and left the service under honorable conditions. Now I own a home, I have a good job and that’s that. If you’d like to open the lines of communication instead of hiding behind an email, I’m fine with that. You can also send me your address and we can talk face to face. I’m not hiding or running from anything.

You say you’re a Veteran, well, lets see.

Edit: JHope left another comment claiming he was in the same recruiting company I was in and insists I was “kicked out” of the Army. Yet, JHope continues to keep his emails blocked and won’t identify who he really is. He’s just “calling me out” on all my “lies” during my time in service. My time in service isn’t defined by 2 years and 8 months in recruiting but yet defined by my DD214 that says “General Discharge under Honorable Conditions”. That’s not being kicked out.

One day JHope will stop being so afraid and post his address along with allowing for emails because I have a pretty good idea who this JHope person really is.

 

Gun-Crazed America

I’ve been thinking about this topic for weeks. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since the Ferguson situation went down. I’m not taking a particular side on that; mainly because I don’t have a side to take. I do, however have an opinion about Ferguson.

I can sympathize with the emotional trauma that a community might be feeling after one of their own is gunned down. I feel similar grief having been to combat and losing friends in the war. Although, the two don’t really go hand-in-hand. I do feel like there are some similarities between the two. Violence is apart of our American culture. Violence is apart of our very existence. From the beginning of time.

America, specifically, has this obsessed attitude that everyone should have a gun. And not just one gun. Many guns. Our favorite video games are first-person shooters. Our favorite actors are gun-totting mad men blowing up buildings and mowing down countless third rate rent-a-thugs. Children grow up playing with toy guns and then their parents buy them a BB gun when they turn 13 and a hunting rifle when they turn 18 and then they go get their concealed weapons permit as soon as they turn 21 because they can. For no other reason other than because they can. Or want to. It’s an obsession.

I want you to understand something, though. This isn’t some liberal rant against guns. I’m sure by now most of you are rolling your eyes thinking that very thought. This is going to be an educational, informative piece and probably the longest blog entry I’ll ever write. Please. Indulge yourself and read on.

The Bill of Rights state, and I quote, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over time there have been laws that dictate and regulate who actually gets to carry a firearm. This done so in a manner as to not to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. For example: if you commit a strong-armed robbery with a firearm and the police catch up with you, you will no longer be able to carry a firearm. These laws are implemented for the greater good of society because we don’t want unhealthy people carrying weapons that can harm others. I think we can all agree on that.

One thing I’m truly against are law-makers making up laws that make absolutely no sense. I’m also against police agencies trying to govern my life and I’m really against big government trying to tell me what I can and can not do. There is no such thing as gun sense in this country because everyone wants a gun and no one wants to take responsibility when something bad happens with it. So the governments answer to that is to make up laws that really don’t extinguish the problem. What we need is firearm education and firearm training.

Example Number One: You want a firearm for home defense. That means you’ll be engaging potential targets at close range, close quarters with little to no visibility. What is your training regime for that? Do you know the laws concerning firearms and defending yourself, family and personal property? Are you a Castle Doctrine state? Are you a Stand Your Ground state? Do you even know what those things are? When’s the last time you cleaned your firearm and when’s the last time you went to a shooting range? Lastly, someone breaks into your house at 2am, you’re woken up from a dead sleep. How fast can you gain your bearings and get to your firearm before something goes down? Do you keep your firearms in a safe with a combo lock or key to keep the kids out? Would you be able to open the safe up in time? Do you train to these scenarios? If not, you have no business owning a firearm to protect your house hold. Stick to a baseball bat.

Example Number Two: You are going grocery shopping and someone comes in to the grocery store with a gun to rob the cashier. You have a concealed weapons permit and you have your 9mm strapped to your side. Consider your options: do nothing or attempt to defuse the situation. Without proper training, your best bet is to call 911 and stay out of the way.

I’m not in any way trying to tell people not to own firearms or that firearms only belong in the hands of cops and members of the Armed Forces. All I’m trying to point out is that America looks at firearms as a type of novelty and people buy guns without any real form of education or training. Guns get into the wrong hands. Kids get them and shoot other kids. Teenagers bring them to school and kill other students. There are plenty of reasons (and valid ones) to strengthen our gun laws. The most important thing, though, is education and training. If you own a firearm and you think you might become a victim of a violent crime one day, get some formal training. Talk with a lawyer about your states gun laws. Know your capabilities and know your limitations.

This isn’t Hollywood and you aren’t Bruce Willis. A guy breaks into your house, you won’t be able to just shoot his leg out and that be the end of your nightmare. Make sure you understand the judicial system, understand that you aren’t safe from civil lawsuits and have a clear understanding that once you decide to pull that trigger, there is no turning back.

Stop Thanking Service Members for their Service

“Rather than writing off the decision to serve with a sterile “thank you for your service” this year, own the sentiment and make it personal.

Thank a veteran that you knew you would be present for the birth of all your children.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued your educational goals safely and uninterrupted.

Thank a veteran that your biggest stress is not getting your training ride, workout, spin class, yoga, pilates, or run in for the day.

Thank a veteran that you can sit home nights and write.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued a successful professional career and living the high life.

Thank a veteran that you have the security to be a stay at home parent.

Thank a veteran that you have chosen to make your home close to your, or far form your family, close to the ocean or deep in the mountain… but you choose it.

Thank a veteran that you were able to attend every one of your child’s sporting events, music recitals, spelling bees and parent-teacher conferences.

Thank a veteran that your spouse or partner comes home predictably every day.

Thank a veteran that you have your weekends free.

Thank a veteran that you pursued your passion as an actor, professional athlete, model, musician, or under water basket weaver.

 

Thank a veteran that you don’t have to be one.”

Where the fuck were you

Maybe I over think things too much. Maybe I over analysis things until my brain fucking swells and drives me into a panic attack and sends me into a tailspin of grief and discomfort. Maybe I do. So what. It’s what I have to live with nowadays because that’s who I’ve become. I can’t walk the line anymore.

You know what really pisses me off? You know what really pisses me off? When I was out there, alone, and dying, no one wanted anything to do with me. Not even my own fucking parents. I put on that happy, smiley, bullshit ass grin every day so I didn’t look how I really felt. Like a homeless fucking nobody.

Where the fuck were you then?

 

Oh, I see all of them coming now. Well, it’s too late.

It’s too late.

 

Ode to a Broken Heart

 

As I sit here thinking of the past.

I know not of what the future will bring.

All I know is that I love you so.

I always wonder what you’re doing, near or far.

My thoughts are jumbled, confused, and thoughtful.

But I can not seem to put it all together.

The thing is…I missed the opportunity. Will everything in the future turn out for the best? I’m in a doubtful stage in my life. I’ve seen this all before. And how cliché, “it’s not you, it’s me.” plays out in my head over, and over, and over again. My world is over one more time.

This time I wanted things to be different. But for a difference, change had to happen on my part. I tried. I really did. But with this I learned one sad fucking reality. I’ll always be alone as long as I’m who I am. A sad, sad existence to nothing. I need you now than ever. Tonight would be a good time to make things different.

My tears stream down my face, not for you, but for me. For my ultimate unhappiness. For my thirst for love unquenched. For my sadness and loneliness. My heart beats for every opportunity to see your smiling face. And all I can imagine is the happy times with you while you repeat all the miserable times I’ve caused with my changed persona. I’m not the man I once was, and for that, I cry in darkness.

My sadness and my pathetic character gleam through with a hint of forever.

There is no one to blame but me. In the end, it’ll work out, I’m sure. For you.

I walk with a sturdy, broken step. Broken in a way that most will never know.

 

Happiness is a warm gun.

 

 

Please, Father Time. Take me with you.

 

It’s amazing how fast someone’s life can be flipped upside down so quickly. The more people I meet, the more I see others in the same situation as I once was.

When my ex-fiance told me she wasn’t happy in our relationship and hadn’t been happy for the past two months, It really took a lot to comprehend that. She was never mean or vindictive towards me and she always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. Especially with buying the house for us. We had been dating for roughly 14 months when I asked her to marry me and then a month later, we bought a house together. Things seemed to be working out.

Apart of me feels betrayed because I really wasn’t given a chance to make things better for her. The past two months, she was miserable. I had no idea. She gave no signs that she wasn’t happy. She just wasn’t happy.

She left in late May of 2010. I got out of the military September of that same year. I lived in that house, alone, beaten, and brought to my knees until I made the trek from southern Illinois to the great Pacific Northwest. I packed my car with as much of my shit as I could and I spent 7 days on the road. I also stopped in to see my sister in Utah and stayed with them for about five days.

I reminisce on the times I spent with my ex-fiance. All the good times we had. Going to Cardinal baseball games, watching the most boring NFL game in the Edward Jones dome when the Seahawks came to town and we spent the entire time making fun of the low attendance. We went out to dinner a lot. And we had a great time with her parents. Her parents loved me and I adored them. They were hard-working, blue-collar shmucks like the rest of us. But they had their shit together.

When she walked out the door, it all stopped. The promises, the love, the get-togethers, the calls, the text messages…it all ended. Just like that. And I wasn’t mentally ready for something like that. In the 14 months we were together, I had formed a bond with these people. And as a member of the Armed Forces, my family away from my family is just as important. I don’t get to be around my parents as much as I wanted to or needed to be. So I latched onto her parents. Her Dad reminded me so much like my own father. He was smart, articulate, crafty and indeed a man of his word.

Her mother on the other hand, was a tad senile, in denial about her aging body but she had a good heart. She always told me she loved me. And would help me any way she could. But she has an obligation to her own flesh and blood. She must support her daughter any way possible. It’s what mothers do, right?

I knew life would go on. I knew the sun would shine again in my pathetic existence. But at that time, I wanted to die. I loved her so much. I think the only other time I really felt that in love was with my very first girlfriend. We spent so much time together before I joined the Army in 2000. I thought I had a life long partner.

I felt the same way with my ex. Buying that house together was a pretty serious purchase and it meant a lot of things for us. We had a life together. Well, at least a start. The both of us were essentially living the American Dream.

I remembered when she walked out, though. I felt like a broken man. I stood in the kitchen and I just dropped to my knees on the cold kitchen tile floor. I didn’t even brace for impact. I took the hard floors punishment full-bore onto my knees. It nearly crippled me. But that’s not where the pain was the greatest. My heart felt like it was going to explode. And I wanted it to. I just knelt there, hunched over with my face in my hands, sobbing uncontrollably.

At first, I wasn’t sure why I was so upset. Was it because I just spent thousands of dollars of my savings on an engagement ring? Or the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make house payments to the bank without her income? Or the fact that I’d probably have to voluntarily give up my new motorcycle? Or the fact that I’d have to say good-bye to Oscar, our German Shepherd puppy? Or maybe it was because I was now alone, again. Without anyone. In a cold, lonely, unlivable home.

The next four months were pure hell. And my next stop was Lincoln Trails Behavior Health in Kentucky.