The photographer’s model

Coming of age in a boring old town–

Beautiful girl in high school. His truck. Rides home after class. Twice her age. The kind of story you never tell your mother.

She looked up to him. Probably even had a crush on him. 

Impressionable, lost girl. 

Something felt wrong. Grown man, teacher.

She, too young to understand. He, must have known better. 

Head full of flattery, gifts, coffee dates. 

Where could this lead but to the lingering of his hands in her shirt during a long goodbye one night. Coy inexperience meets longing. 

Inexcusable perversion of innocence. 

Looking back in shame, even though it wasn’t her fault.

No memory of what came after.

Left disgusted and taken advantage of. 

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Alone again, naturally

As the rolling picture of my life plays, the words F-A-L-L flash upon the screen.

Leaves tumble and glisten through the rain. I drive this way to work each day, this nice area of pine tree lined road. I do a lot of thinking here.

The deep male ‘movie-voice’ guy says, “Coming soon to a theater near you! There she goes again…that Emily, how will she do it this time?”

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In October, my husband was finally offered a job he was optimistic about since leaving the army. He departed for three months of training in Alabama as a Civilian Contracted C-RAM operator (Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar), or ‘big gun most army guys get really excited about.’ We have certainly spent more time apart than this, and it felt really worth it to see him enthusiastic and hopeful again. The company even flew him home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In many ways the road is not new, or different, or unfamiliar. What it leads to in the very near future is lenghthy periods of time apart for our family, to many of our ‘not-so-favorite’ foreign destinations, which is unquestionably familiar.

It’s not as though I can’t do it alone. I have, and can, and will.

Insert ‘movie-voice guy’: “She’s amazing! Watch her go as she single-handedly conquers the world of working full-time, parenting, and running a household! What will she do next!…”

The question is- am I supposed to have to do it alone, and for how long do I have to do it alone. How long is my spouse going to have an occupation that keeps him away from his family. Sure, the pay is good, but is the money worth the cost.

For now, we do not know how long this will be a career for him.

Most of time I have to admit, I am used to it. That is what being an army wife does to you.

But sometimes, that feeling of running on empty takes over. Doing one million things and not feeling particularly good at any of them.

You’re not here and my shoulders hurt. Crying babies on the car ride home from the airport because daddy is gone- again. And some days I feel alone when you’re not here.

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The short list just got shorter- An homage to Chris Cornell

I never wanted to write these words down for you…

If you knew me, you could not help but see how many aspects of my life seem to have moved in this circular motion, somehow always making these ironic connections.

If you knew me, you would know that I have a few favorites. They are: Johnney Depp, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, The Doors, and anything Chris Cornell.

I take my music very seriously, and for a while I have been planning to write this post, except one of my favorites died today. It feels like the end of my youth.

(See My dad the rocker. https://wordpress.com/post/superstew39.wordpress.com/476).

If you knew me, you would know that I was very much a part of the Seattle grunge scene, except that I lived thousands of miles away at the time. Countless concerts and dreams of being a groupie and following a band around. Just like Penny Lane in Almost Famous, minus the slutty part. I know song lyrics for days. People that do not know me that well might find it all surprising, like my tattoos.

I saw Chris Cornell with Audioslave in Cleveland, OH. I stood just feet away from Tom Morello’s guitar. I probably would have gone to a concert every day, if I could afford it. Across all the bands and solo work, I think Soundgarden was my least favorite. Audioslave and Temple of the Dog top my list. Temple of the Dog played here recently, but I found out about it too late.

The right place, the wrong time.

And now, fast forward twenty, or so years, and here I am. Living not far from that city where it began. I feel like… with my people, actually. I could not be anywhere else right now.

Melodramatic? It’s not like I knew him. Is anything different in my life today. No, except that his music got me through many of the difficult times in my own life. Beautiful melodies, with an often blues filled softness. Two of my all time favorite songs: Call Me A Dog: Temple of the Dog, 1991, and The Getaway: Audioslave, 2002. Song lyrics that really transecended whatever their true meaning may have been. And now I will never hear a new song by that amazing voice again, and it hurts.

I watched a series recently about my generation, Generation X. In it they claimed that Kurt Cobain stood for the generation. And while I do have a fondness, even visited the park in Aberdeen memorializing him and drove by his childhood home, he did not represent me. Not in the way that Cornell’s music did, and what a musicain and song writer. His level of talent far outweighs that of Mr. Cobain in any way. There is no comparison between the two. The Jim Morrison of our time, or Robert Plant. Music like this does not exist anymore today.

They say he killed himself. By hanging. I cannot help but wonder about the moments that led up to this. The private demons he must have been struggling with. I cannot get the disturbing image out of my head. I think of his children, and the wife and family he left behind, and I am saddened.

I feel like I can never finish this. If Chris Cornell killed himself, what does that mean for the rest of us. It’s not like he had public scandals for us to piece together an explanation, at least not for many years. He was real. He had flaws, and depression, and addiction, and he overcame them. Try watching a film as you hear that voice slowly creep in on many a movie score. He had outlasted that ‘Live fast, die young, I’m a rock n roll star living on the edge phase’, and he was one of the few who made it. It made us proud.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way. In the next few weeks the mystery will unfold for the rest of the world to see. While I, Mr. Cornell, one of your biggest fans, sits by wishing it was all a hoax, as I have done since the day I heard the news.

 

 

 

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Not Quite A Year

The words spoken by my husband resonated in my head, “maybe we’re not meant to be here.” Can it be true? Maybe. It is certainly not for a lack of trying…but for a long time, it seems that things have just not gone our way. And for the first time in a long while, we do not have to move because the military tells us we have to. Yet, we have considered it on our own.

He was a soldier–and a damn good one. One of the best. One of the few that was not just looking out for himself. They underestimated him. Took him for granted. A different kind of military. He felt it was time to move on.

It has not been quite a year since he left active duty military, and joined a National Guard unit. I can honestly admit, it has been one of the longest, most trying years that we have spent together; full of many ups and downs, and we have had a few.

Before he even left active duty, he found a job. I say found, however, it was more like he pushed himself and worked really hard. He passed rigorous physical and mental tests to be accepted into the State Highway Patrol. It is a looong process, which very few make it through. But he did.

In fact, he was still on military leave when he was put on the payroll. He worked there most of the summer, before attending the academy in August. Unfortuenately, his career was cut short due to an injury he sustained while on active duty in the military. That day, I received one of the most shocking and unexpected phone calls I have ever gotten from him, “I’ve been eliminated from the academy.”

With only one income, and now, no income, needless to say, it was a little bumpy.

Of course, never quitters, I was fortunate to be offered a long-term substitute position I might otherwise have declined. Between unemployment checks, and a zillion job applications, he was eventually offered a job. Not his forever job, but a job nonetheless.

Where I feel like I had a fair year learning a great deal in the field of education and teaching, full of many new experiences, and new connections, I, too, have had my share of disapointments. Job opportunities that should have been mine falling through for this reason or that. Conversely, I have watched a man slope downward into misery. Not happy with what he is doing, and not satisfied with the way things have turned out.

Timing. Sometimes it feels like you belong in a certain place, but things can change. When do you decide to give up, let go, or move on. Design a new plan–a different one, possibly far, far away from this place. How long should you wait. It has been less than a year, but what if this is not where we are supposed to be.

I don’t have any of the answers right now. But I do not think I am ready to give up just yet.

Still holding on.

 

 

 

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Two-Way Street

Sometimes it gets old always being the one to initiate a friendship, or keep one going; a conversation, a phone call, a visit, a card, a letter, a gift, or a message. It’s tiring. And for years in many of my relationships, I have been the one to do this.

Some have come to expect it without ever realizing it’s a two-way street. Oh, I’m not saying it’s like this with everyone, but when have you done any of those things lately? There are definitely those of us that can pick up– right where we left off, after any duration of time, and I truly appreciate that.

But incase you haven’t noticed, I may not have been in touch lately, and I’m only a little bit sorry about it. I mean, truthfully, sometimes I forget, or I don’t have time. It has no personal meaning about or against an individual/persons. I still feel the same about you. It’s just me taking care of my own life. After all, I am the star of it, along with three other main characters.

Truth is, I don’t always offer to share personal troubles of my own with everyone, in fact, rarely. And believe me, my life is far from perfect. Maybe if you’d asked.

And maybe it sounds harsh, but most of the time I have too much going on to remember or worry about everything that is happening in everyone else’s life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you. But it’s hard enough these days just to keep my own life together. Does that make me a bad person or friend? Well, if it does, than so be it.

I know, for years I have been the one doing it. And because of this, it seems that I am not allowed to stop. EVER. Without pissing a few people off and even losing friends because of it.

But seriously, it works both ways, and I shouldn’t have to do all the work. Thanks.

 

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Pipe Dream

Pipe dream: a hope, wish, or dream that is impossible to achieve or not practical–Merriam-Webster.

In a perfect world, flights would take off and arrive on time. Airplanes would not break down, and people would not be rude.

Flight attendants would get based at their first choice upon completion of 6-8 weeks of “charm farm” treachery. They would not have to commute, or fly stand-by, or spend extra money for a “crash pad”. Family would live closer where they could be more helpful, or the job would actually pay enough to have a nanny, or a husband that could quit his job to be a stay-at-home dad.

But that’s not reality. I know this, because I have lived it. The above mentioned became many of the same reasons why I quit almost nine years ago after the birth of our first child.

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Do I miss it? Sure, there are things I miss about it. Like…

Layovers in some amazing locales, for sure, and a hotel room all to myself. Being able to travel for free or next to nothing, which certainly fed my need for adventure, and gave me the ability to visit family and friends more often. The comraderie of my fellow super stews, of course, there’s nothing like it. And yes, in some ways that feeling of I-have-this-really-cool-job-and-you-don’t-trotting through an airport in my uniform, pulling my roller board behind me…as I crowd to the head of the security line.

It’s those things that seem to make me do this to myself once every few years. I begin to long for a trip, an adventure (which I cannot afford). I start to recollect the glory days of my flying career and youth, and consider applying to an airline as a flight attendant all over.

Yes, I desperately need a vacation somewhere, but seriously, not enough to put myself through training all over again at a new airline, back at the bottom of the seniority list, with a bunch of twenty-something newbies without a clue about what being “out on the line” is really like. “Flight attendant school” does not really teach you that.

Red lipstick and hair buns, panty hose, and spending days learning how to fill out various forms that only take minutes in real flying life. Fakeness and how to be polite in the face of complete reproach. Sure, there are some very important lessons like putting out fires, evacuating airplanes, and saving lives, but I can’t.  I just can’t. 

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So thank you “blank” airlines, but I reject your video interview opportunity at this time and probably forever, actually.

The main reasons that I quit in the first place are the same as those whom I’d miss while on a trip and on the road, in an environment which I had very little control over…longing for them to be there beside me. This I know. Plus, the older I get the less I really care about what anyone else thinks anyway, truly.

So, there you have it. However, if an opportunity to work at an airline in another capacity, such as training or safety were to arise, well, hmmmm…that might be different. Also, it’s not really a pipe dream if you have already achieved it.

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She Buried Her Little Boy Today

She buried her little boy today,

As I try and figure out what to say…that could possibly take the empty feeling away,

I realize that nothing can do that. Ever.

I try and plug my ears,

while the world complains about insignificant silly little troubles, but I really want to scream “shut up!”

And she buried her little boy today.

 

Why do people say “there are no words” when someone dies?

There are words, so many words.

I’ve never lost a child,

But what I think it must feel like is drowning, just barely keeping your head above the water,

Not being able to breathe,

A pain in your heart that never subsides.

 

I have thought of her and wondered how I would deal with such loss

While I tuck in my own precious son each night.

She’s living my worst nightmare,

Losing a part of yourself,

so young, so loved,

An angel that is now soaring above.

 

I can walk away from this when it becomes too painful to finish, turn my mind off to these heartbreaking thoughts,

but she can’t.

Each day she must wake up knowing her little boy is not here anymore.

He is here… though not physically to touch and hold.

He is here, all around us.

 

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