The Fix Is In

I wish I could make clear all the trials and tribulations that we’ve faced over the last 20+ weeks. I think that only those who have experienced the – er – trooper training experience can comprehend just how stressful it can be.

For us, it was doubly – trebly difficult since we were a good 14 hours and, what with airfares being what they are, about $600 apart. So. In the course of the spring and summer, we’ve been together twice.

All through Christmas last we talked of how we’d try for monthly visits and the holidays – there would be three of those after all – and I secretly dreamed of saying goodbye in the parking lot there and heading home. But none of that happened. Rather, I was told that surgery was necessary and immediately so and was scheduled 48 hours before he had to leave. In two days I had to be mobile enough to send him on his way.

So he spent those last few days of freedom at home alone, caring for the cats and packing his things and no doubt worrying like crazy about the trip to Texas and the coming academy. Of course, when I woke he was there just as he was all the day long and into the evening so that while the morphine was kicking and I was sleeping he kept watch. I am thankful, now, for the drugs that kept me from seeing too much – his fear, his worry, his sleeplessness. But the task in front of me was to get home – home by Saturday afternoon.

I’d made this clear on Thursday to the doctor. You do what you have to but I am to be released Saturday. Period. And so I stopped the meds, started moving and shifting even though I was sliced hip to hip and innards were readjusting. And there was the emotional healing, too…one can say that children are not desired but you hang onto that little snippet of an option. I could if I wanted. Well, not now. And there is a mourning associated with the loss. A farewell, unexpected.

And on Saturday, when he had to arrive late in the morning because he had to pack everything, he came in to find me dressed to go home. I’d intended it to shock him and so it had. The underling doctor came by and declared me fit to leave and I was out like a shot. He pulled the truck around, they wheeled me out and I swung myself up and in there to his smiling laughter. Get me home – that was my thought. Home before the strain shows.

I was installed in the upstairs bedroom but only after I showed that I could mount the stairs easily – slowly, but easily. A small fridge was stocked there for me and we had a scant hour of arranging things, ensuring he had all he needed…the time was slipping by and we tried to eke out the very last of it.

His motorcycle looked like a personal caravan, loaded with all its cases and tank bag. And he mounted up, in his proper gear. I took photos because I was trying to document the process – the acceptance, the leaving, the graduation…and then tears and kisses and reassurances. I would not burden him. I would not worry him. He made me say goodbye from the upstairs so he could be sure he’d left me there and not lying on the stairs. And all my wishes left with him.

And so….it was Easter before we saw each other again. I had my own routine, now, and he had his. And the calls in the evening were brief but reassuring. He could not come to me, he said. Sorry. And looked at a holiday alone there, everyone else taking that long weekend to be with their beloved – most of who were not so far away. Instead, I was driving at 4am, northward, to Nashville where a cheap Southwest flight would take me to him.

I am very paranoid of driving long distances, worrying about vehicle failure, hating not knowing my surroundings, afraid of missing roads and getting lost. But I got my nerves in order and just sailed off. It went off like clockwork, really. My sister took me to the academy, his truck still there. And then, she bade him meet her for his Easter gift. He came into the restaurant still in his uniform and I stepped out. He smiled and laughed but there was something in his eyes that I did not quite understand.

It was shock.

I had managed to give the man the biggest surprise ever and he actually had to sit down and gather his emotions. I could only laugh, having been certain he’d have seen through my lies and not be surprised. But all that day he would look over at me in his truck and just laugh. He knew the price I’d paid in nerves and travel. And the weekend flew by.

So that was really all the time we’d had, until the week off in the middle of summer. And even that sped by, what with family visits and trying to make everyone happy. And of course, the funeral leave…losing his grandpa was the worst. I will not even discuss it. Still too fresh a wound.

And now…now he and I rejoice in how lucky we are, how our goodness has been repaid. All along we’ve talked of what would be possible in terms of duty assignments. What we could manage and what would require that I lose my job and start anew. You see, it’s a crap shoot. They ask you for a choice of region and there are 7 in Texas. It’s a big state. A region could cover 8 or 9 counties. So we pinned down those 3 regions that we could perhaps make work.

And then comes the assignment of regions – you could get first choice or your worst choice. And a lot of things come to play in that. Your performance at academy, your networking skills, your prior abilities and experience and your familial obligations. They try to take all those into consideration when making the decisions. But you never know.

And do we were given our preferred region. As were a half dozen others. Now comes the city assignments – where would you actually work within that 8 county area? That information is given very much at the last, forcing fast decisions and mapping and consideration of everyone’s needs. You don’t want to shaft your buddy if you can help it but you also need to take care of your own.

He told me “Caldwell” and I knew the commute – 80 miles – would be a hard one. But it’s just a year, I tried to tell myself. Still, I worried about it. (The paranoia, remember?) But I set to. Okay…so it is. We work with it. But a part of me was asking just how much more would be asked of me to make this dream come true. It isn’t my dream though I have given a great deal. It is his dream and I am merely doing my best to support it and him. But there comes a point where you start wondering if there is a line being crossed between what you are willing to give and what it will cost. In love, though, one finds such boundaries to be sketchy at best and highly mobile. One day you cannot fathom agreeing to such and the next you think it do-able.

And the next day…they declare that the cities provided were wrong. All wrong. So all the negotiating and arguing among the recruits was for naught. And now they had scant minutes to consider the new options and come to an agreement. Except that they couldn’t. There would be 90% happy and 10% not, no matter which way it was sliced. So the duties were assigned.

This is where everything you’ve done, all you’ve said and how you have performed comes into play. Did you do your best? Have you whined the whole time? Is your experience suited for that environment or are you a bit too slow witted and likely to be dead if placed there? One person is going to take all the parameters into consideration and make your decision for you. At least for a year.

The message on my phone just said, “We got Elgin”. In those three words my world was set from spiky red frantic lines into a smooth blue ocean of calm. My God, I thought. It was our dream slot. The one best suited to my work, housing and his preference for terrain and work. It helped that he’d gone there and spoken with the other troopers, letting his experience level be known, ensuring they remembered him when the calls were made. Elgin. One word held all our future.

The price for a dream is sometimes high, though, and in this slot was the sour taste of someone else not getting their dream. And so it was that his buddy – to whom he’d tried to give the slot – was instead given a middle-of-utter-nowhere location. It hurt him deeply to know that. His joy at the slot was stifled by the thought of all his attempts to get him a decent slot had failed. But you could not know the reasons behind it – what the Lieutenants knew and used to make their choices. But I know the days to come will find us wondering what we could have done to help. What we can do now for them.

My friend, at the news, asked me to thank him for sleeping with the lieutenant. I laughed out loud. Indeed, could it have been any more advantageous? And so now we start the final process – a mad rush to find a home and get the last of the packing completed. And then the move. The struggle to get two people, a 24 foot truck, a towed SUV, a loaded down truck and 3 cats across 14 hours of road in one day. It will be a miracle if we manage it. And I think we can. After all, we got this far.

God, we got this far. And it is only just beginning.

Him

So. I thought maybe it was time to limn that fine man of mine a bit. I don’t know what to say to begin. Think of that smile, perhaps. It is never far away. He is one of those people that can retain a sense of humor in any situation. He soothes my always over-anxious mind with his calm demeanor. And I wonder at where it comes from.

He has seen…a lot of places and things that most men do not – or at least had not for a generation. I think it gives him a perspective that others haven’t acquired. Nothing could be as bad as those long nights in another country. I often wish I could have that sort of discernment – the ability to know what in life is pure bullshit to be ignored and tossed aside.

I know he is very skilled at what he does. I trust that his sensibility will keep him alive in a job and a place where there will be many who prefer otherwise. But a part of me can never leave off the worrying – the wondering if he’ll lose his edge for a moment and I’ll lose all.

He cares deeply for his family but not as much for his father. The man ensured that through his own actions, selfishly holding to what he wanted rather than being the selfless parent he ought to have been. To this day the man cannot congratulate him, cannot offer his best wishes. Instead, he looks to his own parents, debilitated, and frets for having to care for them himself. Poor creature.

No…there is no easy way to describe him at all. He is a highwayman and a knight, a soldier and an angel, and he can be a boy sometimes, needing someone to say Good Job. As we all do…as we all do. Good Job, my own. You saved me from myself.

Messy

Things are messy around here, lately. My life, my desk, the house, the yard, my truck and even the cats. I have tried so hard to keep all the ends together that the middle has gone to hell. So today I promised myself that I’d get it together – at least a little bit. But where to start?

There’s the packing, to be certain, plenty of that. Or the laundry. Or the lawn mowing. There’s the wedding plans, the catbox and my mind to clear of clutter but now I don’t know what to do first. The cats might have a preference but I refuse to listen to them today due to the 6a wakeup call on my off day. Bastages.

So I think the desk. While the sun maxes out in the sky and I cool off from my workout I can get the filing done and then pack the desk up which needs it very much. But then I see all the little things I’ve kept over the years and get distracted. There’s the photo frame with all the pictures I love – one of me, a self-portrait, on a Boulder height alone after I’d lost all the marriage weight. Peaceful – not smiling, really, but happy. And mom…you never know how much you love your parents until they are gone. That’s a sad truth. My mom was such a fighter. I always thought she was a wimp when I was young but I had no perspective. Up until the end she did her very best. I only wish my last goodbye was more…final. That I’d let her know without fail of my love for her. But I know one thing – she loved my man very much. He promised her, I think, to take care of me for her (I was her favorite in many ways). She loved him. Dearly. And I am ever thankful that they knew each other.

And then the slides – old memories captured in clear sheets of protection. I meant to do so much with them but there was never time. And now they get packed yet again for another dreamtime until they reawaken in a new place, giving a different meaning to the time.

And there the photo of my stepdaughter whom I adore. I shall never have children – hadn’t really mattered until I suddenly and utterly irrevocably could NOT. Then it was…a mourning. The other day I found myself in tears at the loss without really understanding why they’d waited so long. But she is…the embodiment of what I’d hope for. Pretty, sweet, smart and outgoing. She has seen a lot of travail in her life, her parents not being all they ought but she has struggled through to come out a wise girl. And in a way, my own.

But it all must go back into the boxes as it all has thrice before. Hidden away until the time comes to start over, with new intentions and new hopes for a clean desk. An uncluttered existence. A swept clear mind.

Hard Work

What I do for a living isn’t really that complicated. Matter of fact, it permits rather a lot of personal time to do what life demands so I can’t really complain but…I shall, anyway.

You see it’s the people I work with that make it such a pain in the ass. I am surrounded by…characters. At least I give them character names so as to ease the pain of dealing with them. A code of sorts.

There’s Hound Dog, so named because of the jowls that ruin her otherwise very attractive self. She’s nice enough and older but very active so that she has a sense of fashion and such but she’s a short-timer. A few more years and she’ll be retiring so she has a rather casual manner about her workstyle. She is the least offensive of the group.

There is Sucker – she received the moniker because she constantly sucks on her bridge or whatever dental implement or deformity demands that she perform the sucking task every few minutes. She is one of the selectively religious. Each morning finds her sitting her bulk down with a “Thank you Jesus!” and further applications of thankfulness throughout the day when some mundane task (such as rising from the chair and walking to the kitchen) has been successfully completed. I suspect Jesus is quite sick of it by now and addresses this by consistently giving her bad hair days. We have a rather terse relationship ever since her avid liberal stance took on the nature of a personal attack. A discussion with HR has since calmed that down and she mostly keeps to herself. Of course, she is consistently 15-30 mins late each day and takes time off and sets outside appointments without care for the rest of the “team”. I really do hate that…

And then…The Talker. She’s quite the character. She finds in me a compatriot while I try very hard to not engage her. This is because the slightest sentence or agreement will launch a 20 minute discussion. Those 20 minutes will likely be filled with stories that she has related at least 12 previous times. Her worst habit is stating aloud every IM she types when she is piqued by a request from the person on the other side of the IM conversation. Her really worst habit is playing a computer game that demands she click her mouse 3xsecond. Mind you, this is a game likely intended for children in the 5-10 year category. She plays this while the florescent lights glare off her framed certificate from the NSA. Yes, that NSA. What a waste of an intellect. One can only imagine what she might learn if she concentrated as hard on other subjects as she does on that game. And those clicks? They can continue for upward of 3 hours. I imagine in my mind gently unhooking my keyboard and taking a bat-like swing at her head with it. For some reason, her clicking brings me to the edge of violence. Perhaps this could be used abroad in our interrogation process. She, too, has a casual concept of what On Time means. And, having kids, manages to find an excuse every morning whilst blaming them. What a waste of breath.

Surrounding me in the environment are others who are mildly insipid that they merely grate on the nerves. I do not hold myself out as some sort of example of The Perfect Worker Bee. However, I do at least know how to do my job. That would be a nice place to start. And that whole On Time thing. Just this morning I woke nearly 45 mins late and yet managed to get here on time – ugly, perhaps, and in less than minty fresh condition but Present and Accounted For.

Of course, I try very hard to remain in good graces…I want a lot from this place. I am asking for the impossible and just may get it. And only because I am a good worker bee. I take these characters and their shenanigans and swallow my retorts, belay my impulse to pummeling. I take little complaint to the Masters and try to be useful to them. And I am perhaps the most eloquent of the peons. My own smallish intellect evident in the few compositions necessary to the work, clear in my conversations and dry wit.

But I still feel like everyone can see me as I once was – walking away from the 10th grade, flipping off the school, and into a life where being shot at was a job hazard and the ingestion of massive doses of 714’s was the only way to make life tolerable. As though there is a giant sandwich board sign with Loser/Faker noted on it.

If they only knew me then…baby, I’d have slit your throat and walked away laughing. I’d have regretted it later, when the meds wore off and the blood was sticky. But I’d have done it. God…so far have I come…

Begin Again

Well, since everyone else in the world was thrusting their opinions and (only rarely) erudition upon the masses, I felt I’d might as well join them.

You’ll be wondering who I am and just what in the hell this will all be about. Hell if I know, frankly. But this is the thrust of the moment:
About to marry a TX Trooper
About to move across the country with said trooper
About to change jobs during the move to TX
Packing the whole shebang alone
Arranging the whole shebang alone
Alone

That about sums up the goings on here. Here? Well, Atlanta is close enough a descriptor. Where to? That’s the problem – see, TX DPS won’t tell you where until about a month before you have to be there. You put in your preferred cities and hope like hell it doesn’t turn out to be the Permian. What’s on our side? His almost 2 decades of experience, his top 10 level in the class, and his ability to meet people useful to his future.

And, of course, the wedding…the wedding when one hasn’t the proper funds, location or attire. Do you know the pressure on a woman for this solemn event? She must not only manage to arrange the thing in a seamless and lovely fashion but her own fashion must be lovely. And in today’s dollars, that can be upward of $1k. So…this shall be the least fashionable event ever known. Indeed, it shall be the most frugal of events. Is it wrong, Miss Manners, to offer bread and water at a reception? Oh, you think I jest. Sigh…well, only time will tell. At this point finding a location would be nice…

And my job? Oh, yes…asking your company to custom-make a role for you so that you don’t have to commute from the Permian is quite the task. I may have done it but I am still not certain. And if they prefer to wave goodbye to creating the role? Oh, now that shall be an interesting problem…but I declare I shall not worry about it until I need to. In, say, 4 weeks.

And of the man? Ah, what to say of him? Of men, in general?

I will say this – I have known many in my life, biblically and otherwise. The wise older men, the flighty younger men, the duty-bound and the maniacal. There was a time…god, there was a time when I was enchanting. I think back now and wonder why I didn’t put it to better use but it was that damned integrity getting in the way. And now…now, the years fall harder – that consistent age-defying youthfulness fading into that withering – gentle perhaps but present naytheless.

A woman often hasn’t accomplishments to support her older years. She is generally given to caring for others, even in her work, and only when that dewy beauty begins to fade does she remember Herself. And then it is a game of catch-up with this unguent and that maquillage. And sometimes, in the bedroom, the games played to pretend the years haven’t passed. But there comes a time when the cheerleader outfit is…a mockery. Then…what then? I don’t like to think on it.

I do remember the days when I used to write constantly, every night in some slim volume, every day in a more ethereal format. And now, again, to begin, again, and see what can be made of it. There are stories inside…true and otherwise…that would surprise but…one must also be circumspect in this, the greatest of all audiences.

Besides, enough about me. Let’s see if we can link to the prose and ramblings of others whom I enjoy. I warn you that it will be diverse (though I hate the word, now) and sometimes offensive. You always have – and should retain – the right to fuck off. (I love that word.)