The Balance

I’ve just finished the dishes and a cursory cleaning of the kitchen countertops. Jenn asks who the guest is on the episode of You Made It Weird I’m listening to. Roy Wood, Jr., I tell her. She looks puzzled and I explain he’s a correspondent on The Daily Show. I’ve really been enjoying the conversation between him and Pete Holmes. It makes me a little lonely, not having any real close guy friends I can hang out with and talk to the way Pete and Roy talk about life, comedy, family, philosophy and times you’ve laughed the hardest.

With about 10 minutes left in the podcast, I decide to go sit on the couch and listen to the rest while feeling the cool air of the living room fan blow on me. Jenn’s on her computer preparing for her first week of the school year when she says, “Uh-oh.”

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Do you hear that?”
I look toward the bedroom and sure enough, I hear a faint cry. I pause the podcast, put my phone in my pocket and go into the bedroom.

Stormy’s woken up and I see he’s upset and on his knees among the pillows, wondering where Jenn and I are. He sees me and stands up, arms outstretched, crying. My heart melts a little as I rush in to pick him up, quietly telling him everything’s okay.

Not a second passes and his head is already resting on my shoulder. Not sure if he’s quite asleep I still hang onto him, patting his back and doing my best to remain in the moment.

After a few minutes I’m pretty sure he’s asleep and I lay him down on the mattress and lie down next to him. His eyes are closed tightly, but he still moves. He wiggles into kind of a downward dog pose then rolls over, snuggling up into a spoon position against my chest.

My heart melts a little more and I help keep his arms still as he’s a restless sleeper and he gets into a more sound sleep when his limbs are secured.

I look at his little round face, finally at rest. His breathing is slow and deep. I begin to reflect…

SO much has happened in the last year since li’l Stormy came into the world. It’s been one of the longest and fastest years of my life.

Earlier Jenn asked me if I remembered the sleeping ritual for Stormy when he was a few months old. I honestly could (and still) not remember. That period is a hazy blur. Few memories stick out from the first handful of months – especially during the first weeks.

I remember we started alternating nights of who would stay up and sleep on the couch, keeping an eye on Stormy as he swung back and forth in the infant swing. It was the only way he’d sleep in those days. One of those nights there was a Stephen King movie marathon on TV. It was the first time I ever saw Maximum Overdrive, albeit half-awake, and the first time in many years I had seen Pet Sematary.

I remember how a lullaby version of The Imperial March was the first song to soothe him in his bassinet and how Zelda’s Lullaby would instantly calm him down when he’d start sobbing in the car during rush hour traffic.

Anyway, I digress…

I’m about to turn 37. Jenny and I are zeroing in on 40, and here we are with this brand new thing, this whole new venture in our lives – offspring. And as precious and precocious as Stormy is in this time, he’s not going to be a toddler forever. Part of me celebrates and part of me laments that fact.

It’s taken me 36 years just to get to this point: the beginning of my career in film and writing; a married man for a couple years; a father.

Now, if I want to see Stormy grow up and be there for him every step of the way…that’s going to take at least another 36 years. Well, 35 from this point.

I confess that while I look forward to many things to come, part of me shudders, wondering: do I have another 35 years in me?

By the time he’d be graduating from high school, I’ll be 52.

I don’t feel like a father. I don’t feel like a husband. And yet, there is a woman who fell in love with me and assures me I am both.

I don’t feel like I’m about to turn 37.

Oftentimes I feel like I did when I was 15-22, when I was starting to figure things out; when I was starting to figure myself out. Past 22, things become a bit of a blur unless I stop and think deliberately about certain times in my life.

Over the last five years or so, I’ve learned that life isn’t as simple as I wished or was led to believe it is.

My views and understanding of faith and objects of faith have undergone a radical metamorphosis. Things that were so fundamental to my worldview, which I thought were unmovable and immutable, I’ve experienced them to be quite movable and flexible.

I think of the second album by Jars of Clay entitled, Much Afraid, an album I listened to heavily during my freshman year of college. I think specifically of the second track: Fade to Grey.

I need something familiar, but with new meaning to walk me into this new world. I love how non-specific and open to interpretation the lyrics of the song are. The band caught a lot of flack from the church for that on their first album. But that’s how life is: open to interpretation, rarely so easy to understand.

 

Hello Again, Bible

Shoot, I don’t even know where to begin.

I’m reading Rob Bell’s latest – What Is the Bible? – and I’m digging it. In it he explores the human side of the Bible, looking at it for what it really is (from the cover): an ancient library of poems, letters, and stories.

witb-cover.png

It’s so easy to treat it one of two ways: 1) as a holy, sacred text offered from on-high that is infallible, untouchable, inerrant and practically perfect in every way. Or, 2) to just completely reject it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been treating it as #1. Over the years though, particularly in recent years, I’ve been sliding more toward #2. There’s an internal check, though, which keeps me from going all the way into #2, but as time goes on I see it’s not that I’m sliding more and more toward junking the whole thing, but more toward junking my understanding and reading of it.

The Bible is something I’ve had with me ever since I was a kid. I remember trying to read it on my own as a kid and not getting a thing from it. Then, in the mid-90s, when I had my first real Jesus moment, it came alive to me in a new way. I still have the Bible I got around that time; maybe ’96 or so. It’s an old, beaten up NIV Study Bible. It still has this SUPER long list I wrote in the back of it, naming as many people as I could who I knew or had known. There were times I’d pray for chunks of the names each night over the course of a couple weeks.

Anyway, the systems of Western theology have failed me time and again – on varying levels and to varying degrees – over the years. Or, again, perhaps just my interpretations and implementations of them. In the most recent years – last five or so – I’ve learned that giving up worrying about getting it right has been the best thing for me to improve quality of life.

You see, during that aforementioned Jesus moment, the huge thing was this immense burden of guilt I felt lifted from my soul. For the first time in my life, I felt truly loved, truly safe, truly free. I had never gotten that feeling from anyone else before with perhaps one or two exceptions… It’s that feeling which accompanies the receiving of unconditional love. It’s that feeling that comes along with realizing you’re just enough, you’re just fine the way you are and there’s nothing you need to do to improve yourself except keeping on being you.

I wanted to share that feeling with as many people as I could; I wanted them to be able to feel what I felt. Part of what was taught from my sources of teaching (and what I still hear from time-to-time to this day) is that all who receive Christ’s love have a special gift; they have a cure to the cancer of sin dwelling in the hearts of all who live on the planet. If they don’t get that cure, if no one goes and tells them, then they’re doomed for an eternity in hell.

Over time I came to see a few fundamental flaws in that thinking, not the least of which is the immense guilt complex put upon eager believers wanting to do the right thing. It’s super easy to reach the conclusion that YOU are these peoples’ ONE AND ONLY HOPE for a shot at salvation. Some folks jump on that line of thinking and run with it. Good on them – we all have our journeys. But that’s not mine. Mine is not one to be motivated by guilt; for my understanding is that Jesus takes our guilt away.

For some reason or another, be it genes, inherited disposition, or something else altogether, I find it incredibly easy to be sucked into guilt and flesh that out with some masterful self-loathing. Every time I’d go back to the trough of the Church, somewhere at some point that kool-aid would come up again. So, after my divorce I junked it all again, throwing it into a fire and seeing what remained.

God always remains. You can’t burn the Infinite.

I know there’s more to it all – God; the Bible; faith, love, and hope… Getting out and seeing a fair amount of the world has helped me see this. Getting out from under the burdens of rules and guilt have helped. A very wise man told me that you can choose how you feel in a situation. All depends on how you look at it. Though I rarely believed him or understood him early on, I get it now.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the LORD and lean not on your own understanding.

Don’t trust in rules; don’t trust in things just because a lot of people do; QUESTION AUTHORITY. Question religious authority.

Around that time (going back to the time shortly after my divorce), I heard the story of Mike McHargue on the You Made It Weird podcast. On the episode, he talks a lot about the brain, neuro science, and his story of how he grew up Southern Evangelical, became an atheist, and then a believer again. It spoke to me on so many levels.

Since then, I’ve been actively skeptical, trying to stay out of cynicism for extended periods, and trying to find what’s real and what’s BS; or what’s deeper than the mainstream, common understanding of things.

I’ve come to really appreciate Rob Bell. As I mentioned at the top, I’m reading his most recent book, this one about the Bible.

I just read chapter 13 in which he talks about the story of Jonah. Did a fish actually swallow Jonah, then spit him out three whole days later? Does that matter? Bell says it doesn’t matter because the bigger part is the heart of the story: Jonah going to Nineveh to preach a message of salvation and upon a magnificent success, he wants to kill himself, he wants to die.

In the cultural context, Jonah going to speak to the people of Nineveh, the King of Assyria, is like Elie Wiesel going to speak a message of salvation to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

Bell’s point is that it’s easy to get caught up in whether or not a literal fish literally kept Jonah in its stomach for three days, literally spitting him up on some beach approximately 72 hours after swallowing him and miss that deeper part of the story – forgiving and loving your enemies.

Could any of us forgive and offer a similar message of hope to our greatest adversaries? Could we do it for democrats? For Trump supporters?

For Trump himself?

Or for Hillary Clinton, for that matter?

Could we offer a message of hope to members of the KKK, to bullies, to the members of ISIS?

Could we offer such a message to ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-spouses, to family members who do nothing but criticize you day after day? Just telling them that God loves them and wants the best for them?

I’m not saying anyone should; just asking if anyone could.

In that regard, I believe the deeper meaning of what I now believe to be a parable, at the time, wasn’t to encourage Israelites to plan mission trips to Nineveh. Rather, it’s important that we remember all of us on this planet – from the saintliest saint to the most despicable, vile asshole – are human beings. There should be no Us vs. Them – we’re all in this world together. And we’re all loved by God.

That’s something I never got from the Bible before. Twelve years on since my first meeting with Jesus I reckon it’s about time and better later than never.

Time On Its Side

Post-production ain’t no joke.

Hello. It’s been awhile. Not as long an interval between the last ones, a month ago, and the one before, three months ago.

Man; why do I always come to this blog so somberly? Maybe because in my other outlets I’m cultivating a more upbeat, outgoing persona. Perhaps the blog here is my introvert retreat.

It has been an incredibly busy month. I finished up my second semester at the ACM, Stormy turned one, Jenny’s found a new career opportunity, I started recording interviews for my new podcast, we’re still getting settled in to our new place, and we’re throwing a little housewarming bash tomorrow.

Also, I’ve continued developing stories, gotten ideas for some new ones, trying to figure out the direction for Phazon Media and get that off the ground, and getting creative in finding sources of income.

Interviewing the folks for the podcast has been fun. And one thing I thought would happen is happening. As we’re sharing our stories with each other, they enjoy having the opportunity to share and I’m getting some good inspiration and examples to model my work ethic and direction after. They’re all self-starters. They figure out what they want to do – always with some kind of struggle and challenge at first – and go after it.

Sometimes – oftentimes – I wish success would come a lot faster, though. Patience is definitely required. And for every new idea I have, I have older, started-but-not-finished ideas that whisper in my heart: “Complete me.” And I have slowly begun to do just that.

Last month I entered the Imagine Dragons/Adobe Premiere editing contest. I started on it, almost gave up, but at the last minute got a second wind and finished the dang thing. I didn’t win, didn’t make the top 25 even, but in the time that I had (less than a week), I’m pretty proud of what I came up with.

In one of my classes, we were all involved in our final group projects. We were divvied into groups of three; I was really happy about one of the guys in my group; of the other I was dubious. Turns out my gut was right. And the one dubious dude was supposed to be the facilitator of the group. Thankfully, the other guy and I were so on the same page we were able to carry the load and, for our parts at least, ace the project. …and that felt super good.

And then this podcast stuff. To make it sound as good as possible, it takes work. Each interview averaged to about an hour and a half. Set up takes, well, about 15 minutes and about that long to tear down if I’m in a hurry. But then all the post work. I’m not editing the interviews, but making sure the levels are good, recording the intros and outros, finding the right music, etc; that took me about six hours yesterday. Granted, the first episode took the longest because that’s when I was figuring everything out, but excepting that, I figure each episode takes about an hour in post.

So, while it’s fun, it’s not easy. And we’re talking 3-4 hours to produce about an hour and a half’s worth of content.

And then the idea of producing a short film…

Kelsie, my second podcast guest, used every day of spring break for her principal photography. Then it took from March to April to finish a rough cut. Now she’s shooting pick-ups. And she has a crew.

Marcelo, my third guest, is shooting a feature over the course of many months, only shooting two nights a week.

Jana, my first guest, is shooting a feature as well, doing mostly overnight shoots.

This shit takes time!!

To create something takes a lot of time. I know this; I’ve known this; but it’s something I need to remind myself of frequently.

Shoot; raising Stormy takes time. The little bugger is growing so fast, but it takes time spent with him to make a difference in his life. He’s so freakin’ cute right now, and snuggly and cuddly, but he won’t be that way forever. He’s already getting more independent, wanting to do stuff on his own, using adults as vehicles to get to where he wants to go only because he’s been walking for almost two weeks now.

Soon he won’t even need a bottle at all, and he won’t be falling asleep when I carry him because he’ll just go to bed and fall asleep there. Next thing you know, it’s high school graduation and off to college.

Well, there you go. I hear Jenn’s alarm going off now; that’s all the time I have for this entry, time to help Stormy wake up.

Thanks for reading! You’ll hear from me again soon.

Podcasts coming soon…

Cutting it Close with Cliff Bailey

Inspired by podcasts such as WTF with Marc Maron, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes, and The Nerdist Podcast, Cutting It Close with Cliff Bailey is a conversational interview podcast in which he talks with folks from all walks of life. Filmmakers, military veterans, family, whomever, as Cliff believes everyone has a story to tell and everyone can benefit from hearing those stories.

THE SUPERSONIC MUSIC HOUR

Music is life. The Supersonic Music Hour is an hour (give or take) that is fun, awesome, compelling, and tells a story through the musical form.

Both podcasts will be launched in May.

I Was Certain…

Woo, dog – going on four months since the last post; my apologies, but, it turns out I needed that unplanned sabbatical.

Last night I finally started reading the book, The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns. I’ve heard it recommended – at least the author – many times on a couple of my favorite podcasts: Ask Science Mike and The Liturgists. Maybe one or two others, I’m not sure…

Highly Recommended

Anyway, I only got through 3-4 of the first chapters (they’re very short, so far) and already I feel more capable of articulating my faith journey because what Enns describes is similar to my own experience.

Namely, growing up and cultivating a faith of absolute certainty, having a crisis or two of faith over the years, and watching that certainty erode, allowing for a more fluid, robust faith. Not a faith that hinges on arguments or apologetics – just a faith that is.

In so doing, I’ve found I’ve also increased my capacity to practice the greatest of these: love.

Instead of condemning others for perceived sins because I was so certain they were committing them, I can be more patient, compassionate, and understanding.

Instead of having to be right about my beliefs of certainty – and thus, building walls between myself and others – I can be more open and hear more of what people have to say, thus enriching my own life with these new perspectives and experiences.

It’s also easier to spot and stop self-righteousness when I saddle up my high horse and turn a potentially contentious situation into one of vibrant personal growth.

I’ve heard it said that the antithesis of faith isn’t disbelief, but rather certainty. And as I write this, I know that certainty has its place in the human experience, but I think I’m talking more about certainty without humility; certainty that is right and correct beyond a shadow of a doubt with no room for change. A static state. One that can’t grow because it can’t change.

And I guess it’s really more of an attitude than anything. On one hand we need to be able to change, grow, and adapt; but on the other we also need structure, boundaries, and limits. I believe that we need to be able to grow within any given structure, but always with the understanding that the structure itself can change – or that we can grow differently than what the structure prescribes, perhaps needing to restructure it at a certain point, or move on to another altogether.

Of course, this begs the ultimate question about God. Certainty? Faith? Where the hell does that come into play? Well, in the Bible, certainty is never commanded – only faith. There is Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Maybe it’s more about the target, or object of faith. Because you can put your faith in a certain thing, like levitation by snapping your fingers, but if you were to try it, you would fail; thus, the faith failed because it was placed in the wrong thing.

That’s the thing – realizing we’re living lives of faith. We can’t know any given thing is true. We can act on a certain thing, and if it works out, in that experience, it proves the hypothesis. Then we can try it again, if it works, huzzah. But then at some point maybe it won’t. Then maybe it will again, or maybe it will never again. And that’s when we can either just dismiss it and move on to the next big thing, or we can stay with it; question it, look deeper into it and try to see what’s up.

I think scientists do this kind of thing, too; some kind of method or something of testing principles, looking for certain results, etc. But then again what do I know?

Bottom line is, humility. Faith without it is presumption. We have to be willing to be wrong – about everything – which is why we can’t hold too tightly to anything. But we do this trusting that it’s going to be okay.

After all, what’s the absolute worst that can happen?

ANCHORS AWEIGH PART 12

Hey! So it’s been awhile. Holidays happened, life happened, and I’m finding myself overcome with projects, some going on a year old now. However, I didn’t want to abandon this. Thank you to the few who take some time to read my ramblings and I’m so glad to hear from some of you that this stuff actually helps encourage you! That’s the whole point, why I write, create, blahblahblah – to try and make the world a better place if only a little bit at a time. So, I’m going to try and get this back into weekly mode and maybe get into more stuff as time goes on and I get this time management magic worked out.

=====================================

So here’s where it starts getting weird.

I got that initial paperwork regarding the treatment of my kidney stone in as quick as I could. A day or two later I learned that it was not sufficient. There needed to be something stating that I was treated, released from care and that there were no subsequent occurrences. So, I figured I needed to do a little more footwork. I thought and thought and thought…and HUZZAH!

I remembered when after I passed the stone I visited a urologist for follow-up. So I tracked down the doctor who did all that, called up the office and was able to get the records sent relatively quickly.

However, in conjunction with that, Navy Personnel Command required I get tested locally to show a recent record of my clean bill of urological health. It would be a doctor’s visit requiring a pee test and a CAT scan.

Uh-oh.

At the time I was working in a call center department for a natural gas company through a temp agency. Because money was kind of tight I used their 0$ group health insurance. I had no idea how much a CAT scan would cost, but I was convinced my meager health insurance wouldn’t cover it, so I googled out-of-pocket costs for CAT scans. Holy Cheerios, the lowest was about $1,500 and highest around $4K. There was no way I could cover that at the time.

All that time I had been praying, seeking God’s will. I was sure he wanted me to pursue enlistment, but with the setbacks I wasn’t so sure he wanted me to succeed. I was seeing it more as a “are you willing to go this far?” kind of faith test, perhaps preparing me for something greater.

Well, I called up people back home in North Carolina and was encouraged to not give up quite yet. Just go into a doctor’s office and see what would happen. Bear in mind, I didn’t have a primary care physician at that time, so I had to go to a Minute Clinic. Before leaving the house that morning I said to God, “Hey man, you want this to happen, I’m gonna need to get this procedure for a song.”

On my lunchbreak, I went to the nearest Minute Clinic location. Handing over my paperwork to the lady at the desk, my heart skipped a beat as her brow furrowed.

“I’m sorry, we can’t help you with this.”

I asked her why not.

“Well, we’re in a Kroger grocery store, so we couldn’t really fit a CAT scan machine in here. But our location on the other side of the parking lot has one! You can try there,” she said with a smile.

So I booked it on over to the location on the other side of the parking lot.

I handed the lady there my materials, she had me sign in, and I asked how much it would cost.

“Oh, well, technically this is just a visit, so that’s $29.95.”

“What about the CAT scan?” I asked.

“We can just put that here under the ‘visit’,” she smiled.

“Wait,” I said, “so the whole thing is just $29.95?”

“With your insurance, yup.”

I swear I could hear the Divine humming Rooster In the Straw.

Sunrise in the early morning hours of Chanthaburi Thailand. (from Adobe Stock)

TO BE CONTINUED

 

2016 Reflections

It’s been quite a year.

A lot of folks think it’s been a terrible year. The world has lost many worldwide famous entertainers as well as close, personal loved ones. Even now, as the clock ticks down to midnight on the east coast, I’m seeing new Facebook posts pop up from folks whose relatives or family members have passed on to the next life.

I’m not going to say how people should grieve or handle loss, but for me 2016 wasn’t a terrible year, though it certainly hasn’t been without its fair share of new challenges and hard lessons.

I’d say the most significant event for me was Stormy’s birth back in April. He came a couple weeks ahead of schedule and has changed everything, and I’d change nothing back.

The second most significant event for me was transitioning out of the military and back into being a full-time student, this time in my dream major: filmmaking.

Losing that job security has had its share of stressors, but Jenn, Stormy and I are doing okay so far, and the future’s looking good so long as we’ve got each other.

I’ve learned that there’s a difference between knowing the world isn’t black and white and viewing it as such and acting accordingly.

I’ve learned that if I truly believe I am as worthy of respect as the next guy, I need to stand up for myself and understand that sometimes people will be upset when I do that.

I’ve also learned that standing up for myself doesn’t mean I get to or have to be a dick about it ( – baby steps – ).

I’ve learned and experienced a newer, deeper level of selfless love since Jenn and I became parents.

I’ve learned that though I may have missed out on friendships available over 18 years ago, under the right circumstances it’s never too late to reconnect and enjoy the good old time now rather than lamenting the previously missed opportunities.

I guess I’ve learned that redemption is divine and the mundane is sacredly profound.

I’ve learned that I have a whole lot more to learn before it’s my time to go.

Here’s to another 365ish days hurtling through the frigid vacuum of space in solar orbit on our homey pale blue dot.

Two Years

December 7, a day that shall forever live in infamy.

For me, it also lives in famy; or whatever the antonym of infamy is. Not to take away from the historical significance of what happened 75 years ago, but this also happens to be Jenn’s and my wedding anniversary.

Two years ago, on a Sunday no less, Jenn and I stood before a Hawaiian priestess in Queen Lili’uokalani park, the only witnesses being her parents and brother who was Facetimed in from New York, and were married.

When we officially broke off the engagement.
When we officially broke off the engagement.

In some ways it was just a formality as we had been happily dating since April and then together since June. But in some very fundamental, foundational ways it was a very special and significant time for us.

A lot of folks live together, never get married, and 30 years later remain just as committed as ever. Maybe we’re just old-fashioned, but from early on, we said if we were going to do this, marriage was the goal.

Two years and wow.

Two years and we have a 7-month old baby.

Life isn’t always rosy – we’re currently experiencing some of the buffeting life often brings – but gosh freakin’ darn if life ain’t just wonderful.

It’s the little hells we have to go through each day that make the hugs, kisses, and baby laughs all the more rich and illustrative of heaven.

If there’s one main thing I’ve learned in these two years is the same thing I’ve been hearing since I was a boy. My dad would tell me that “love” is spelled “t-i-m-e.” DC Talk told me that Luv is a Verb. Boston declares that love is More Than a Feeling. Holy mackerel, hand to cod if all that ain’t the ever-lovin’ truth.

I thought I could be myself when Jenn and I first started dating? Bro, you have no clue how comfortable you can be with each other after a time of living with each other and seeing one another at the worst. I’m talking…well…I don’t want to embarrass her or speak out of turn, but just as an example, earlier this year when we caught some kind of awful flu bug and were throwing up all night – I had freakin salad leaves coming out of my nose. Yeah, that’s a bonding experience.

And yeah, sometimes we get mad at each other but always end up making out up in the end.

So that’s two years down. Infinity to go*.

It started with a kiss...
It started with a kiss…

 

 

 

*once either bionic implants become readily available and/or we can upload our consciousnesses to the cloud.

Hey – THANKS

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do anything for today or not in terms of posting anything…but it has been two weeks since I posted an entry for the Anchors Aweigh so, here we go.


Found along the Kuliouou trail. It speaks to me on so many levels.
Found along the Kuliouou trail. It speaks to me on so many levels.

My earliest happier memories of Thanksgiving are from when my family and another close to ours would rent a beach house on Emerald Isle, NC every(ish) year and spend a week or so down there. Sometimes extended family would join us and amplify the fun.

And then in 2010 I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home, as I moved to Ohio that summer. It was kind of depressing as through some unfortunate miscommunication I wound up spending it all alone.

Thanksgiving 2011 was radically different. Dinner was spent mostly in silence as I was surrounded by my Navy recruit family at boot camp. It was a vast improvement over the previous year.

2012 saw my first Thanksgiving overseas. I was on my first mission with JPAC in Laos. Staff from the Lao detachment brought over some traditional dishes and volunteers spent most of the day cooking. That was pretty cool; definitely an improvement over 2011’s dinner, but I still felt like I hardly knew anyone. I think as soon as I was done eating I retreated to my tent for some Doctor Who and Sword & Sworcery.

One of the best video games ever.
One of the best video games ever.

2013 was a step up, once again, as I was on mission again, but this time to the Solomon Islands. I’m pretty sure we worked that day, though I’m not 100% on that; regardless, for dinner I had room service deliver a cheese pizza and beer. I spent the rest of the evening watching movies and contemplating my future.

2014 was an evolutionary leap compared to the four previous years. It was over a month since I had proposed to Jenn and so I went with her to her family’s gathering. First time since 2010 I was with family, though still surrounded by mostly strangers I was at least with my dear lover.

Last year Jenn was pregnant with Stormy.

This year littlebig Stormy is with us and I don’t think I could be much happier. He’s teething, so that makes for a lot of ungodly-hour early mornings including today, but after Jenn took over at 2:00, I took over at 6:00 and after feeding we just played, and it was wonderful. Jenn rejoined about 10 or so and we watched the Macy’s Parade while I made egg nog French toast and coffee.

Now Stormy is napping, it’s going on 11, and we’re just taking it easy. I mean, we’re doing stuff around the house, but it’s such a relaxing day by comparison (at least for me; I think for Jenn, too).

Being thankful, being grateful, is, I’m learning more and more, one of the foundational principles of happiness. It’s really to think of all that I don’t have and be woeful of that.

But thinking about what I do have: a loving wife and child, income, a roof over our heads, a family support system, working vehicles, plans and dreams for our family’s future….

Looking back six years and then where I am now, I am one lucky/blessed son of a gun.

However your Thanksgiving is going – or life in general – I hope you are able to find your happiness, too.

Anchors Aweigh Part 11 – A Stone’s Throw

boy throwing a stone into the water at the beach
boy throwing a stone into the water at the beach

PART 10 (click here)

So, I did check those boxes because I’m 95% honest and to ensure Big Navy that I was okay, I had to provide documentation from the respective service providers indicating I was indeed okay and fit for duty.

The counseling part was easy. I was recently in contact with my therapist and she gladly provided a clear and concise letter explaining my situation and that I was A.J. Squared Away. The kidney stone part…that caused a bit of a hold up.

First, I had to look up the hospital that I was admitted to; well, the hospital of the emergency room I was admitted to. Ugh. I still remember that time; physical pain on a scale I’ve yet to match. Finding the hospital was easy enough, but then I had to get the documentation from my visit.

I called up their records department, talked with a nice lady who was able to help me out, and actually got the records to me pretty quick. I gave them to AM1 who skimmed them and said he’d submit them and see what would happen.

Now, during this time we were also discussing job possibilities, or what rates I might try to go for. The first time we talked about it I told him about the survey I had taken on Navy.com and how it said I’d be a good photojournalist. He explained that was part of the MC rate, or Mass Communication Specialist. He asked if I was interested in it, I said kinda, but I was more interested in exploring other possibilities. He wanted me to be a Nuke, a nuclear engineer. I asked what that entailed and he explained it takes about two years of training after boot camp but that it comes with some sweet financial bonuses.

He wasn’t lying.

Looking over the literature he gave me on the subject, I was indeed tempted by the thousands of extra dollars a nuke gets, but it was very math-heavy. I hated math. I hadn’t taken math since my senior year of high school, more than 12 years. Thankfully, the cut off age was something like 25 or 26; I was about to turn 31.

TO BE CONTINUED…