Dinner With Friends

Tonight, the wife and I had dinner with some dear friends.  I have just retired from the military after a quarter of a century.  Wow, saying it like that makes it seem like a eternity and in truth, it has been.  I joined the Army in 1993 and finished yesterday.  My final duty station has been in Jasper, Indiana and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect.  Tonight’s dinner was a celebration of my military career and a celebration of new friendships.

Southern Indiana was a mystery to me and certainly to my Canadian wife.  We didn’t know what to expect.  One of the most pleasant things that has happened to us has been developing a relationship with new friends.  Without question Peter and George have become our dearest friends and without them we wouldn’t have been able to assimilate into the small community of French Lick.

Let me explain, I worked in Jasper, Indiana but my wife found us a beautiful home in the small resort town of French Lick.  Look it up on the inter-webs and you’ll soon see why French Lick is a resort town.  It’s a gem nestled in the Hoosier National Forest and well worth the trip.  So, that’s why we’re here.  Now, how did we meet Peter and George?  In an attempt to immerse into the community my wife volunteered at the local museum in addition to managing events at the resort, and it just so happened our friends Peter and George are pretty big deal at the museum and the rest is developing into a great friendship.  Who are these two wonderful gentlemen?  Well, let me explain.

Peter and George are partners and have been sharing life experiences for a long time.  They have stories that could easily become Hollywood blockbusters (I mean, Shirley McClaine would be jealous of their stories).  They have seen and done it all.  Peter actually went to college with my father and they knew each other, which I think is amazing.  I love that part of our story with these two.  My favorite part of our friendship with these fantastic guys is that, we’re just friends.  That’s it.  They are successful retired guys who don’t want for anything and simply want to be friends.  We are equally interested in finding friends who only want to be friends.  No pretense.  No agenda.  Just people who enjoy each others company.  We have other friends like this but many of them live far away.  Of course, they treat us like their children which makes it hard to pay bill.  Every meal is a fight to determine who pays but they are incredibly creative in getting their credit cards to the waitress before we can.  It’s like dealing with Gandalf which isn’t easy.  We love these two and are lucky to consider ourselves their friends.

Now, back to dinner.  Ballard’s at the West Baden Resort is a great place to dine mid-week. It’s casual with a hint of sophistication and it provides a great opportunity to enjoy the atrium of this world-class resort.  Peter and I had the steak and frites while my wife enjoyed the salmon salad and George chose the airline chicken, worst name for a meal ever.  I mean, who associates good food with air travel and George was sure to let the server know, as well as the risotto.  Risotto in the Midwest can’t compare to the dish served in Italy and since George lived there for years as a model (I’m telling you, these guys have some amazing stories which I may get into in future blog posts, with their permission, of course). The evening was fantastic.  The food was very good and the desserts, decadent.  There were stories told, laughs had and plans for future travel, discussed.  Personally, I haven’t laughed and enjoyed my time that much in quite some time and I think my wife would agree.  Honestly and a bit selfishly, we needed this night.

Thank you to our friends and we look forward to many more nights like this and we hope to add some adventure to our story with these two great men.

I’m a lucky guy.  I have a fantastic wife and some really good friends.  Raise a glass and toast the future.  It’s going to be fun.

Memorial Day and Hemingway

It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2018 and I find myself alone. Not alone in the Papa Hemingway and a twelve gauge, kind of alone but alone nevertheless. You see my wife is working. She’s a pretty big deal at a local organization that is responsible for entertaining the masses and holiday weekends take president.

She’s judging at a local beauty pageant and then back to her regularly scheduled duties of entertaining the masses. Me on the other hand, well, I’m doing homework. Yup, homework. Let this be a lesson to all you youngsters out there that are thinking about taking a break from school to get out into the “real world.” The real world doesn’t want you unless you have a college degree. True story. I though I could work around the whole college thing but after a quarter of a century in the Military, I am learning that there is no “work around” when it comes to college.

And so, now I sit in my dining room researching Ernest Hemingway, arguably the most prominent face in the battle of depression and despair. Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger when he was 63 after a lifetime of success’ to include a Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize. His experiences throughout life finally caught up with him and unable to figure out how to escape them anymore, he used the last resort. The result was for all-time. There would be no more Ernest Hemmingway and all of those characters, so carefully created, would be silenced forever.

How does someone, so big and so powerful, get to the point in their life where “meaning” seems to disappear? Hell, most of us never get to that level in anything we do and yet most people struggle through a lifetime of living without thoughts of ending it early. So, again, I ask. How does someone, so big and so powerful, get to the point in life where “meaning” seems to disappear?

Another Shooting

Today, as I sit in my “cube” counting the days until my retirement from the US Military I can’t help but think, “what the hell is next?”  A friend of mine is blowing up my phone with text messages about a new job that he’s been offered by the post office.  $17.78 an hour with very little supervision and an easy schedule and route.  That’s like, $35,000 a year, which is fine for him.  With his retirement check from Uncle Sam and his disability from time served, he’ll have a nice little life.  There’s only one problem with that.  That’s not the life I want.

I’m in a similar position.  I will be retiring with a disability rating but the money I will receive each month won’t maintain the life I’m used to and, more importantly, $35,000 wouldn’t supplement me enough to live the way I want, my wife and I, to live.  So, how do I land that next career?  What are my passions?  What would I like to do, that wouldn’t seem like a job?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

In other news, some disturbed teen opened fire into a school out in Texas.  So far the death count is under ten but it’s still ten and that’s to many.  What’s wrong with people?  Life isn’t that hard.  It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, but what are the alternatives?  Most of us aren’t born into a wildly wealthy lifestyle like Prince Harry, but even he has put in work and earned the respect of the people by serving.  Most of us are on the grind, everyday, every moment of our lives, once we step out of the shadow’s of our parents, although less than 1% serve in the Military but that’s a topic for another story.  For me, I left the shelter and security of my parents about 25 years ago and sadly, I haven’t grown that much since then.  I mean, I’m married to an amazing woman who is way to good for me (SHHH, don’t tell her), I have had a good career in the military that has spanned a quarter of a century.  Financially, I’m fine, I mean, not having children helps with the financial strain and I’ll speak to that, a little bit, later in this post.  Problem is, that financial security will disappear on day one of my retirement (t-70).

I’ve promised my wife that once I retire I will do whatever she would like, and I would.  After all, she has put up with every cockamamie plan or change of plan the military has put on us since we first met.  So far, she has said that she wants to stay where we are, gain a little more experience at her current position and start a family.  Her first request is easy, stay put, it’s her second request that I am failing at and that is starting to bother me and affect my confidence.  Question is, how do I fix that?  I know the simple answer is, “have some sex,” but I’m afraid it isn’t that easy.

With all these things going on, I still work for the Military and my first line leader is a toxic, idiot.  He’s about the same age and he out-ranks me but his experience is virtually the same and I would argue I’ve challenged myself as much, if not more, than he has in our careers.  That being said, I don’t want to get into a whole thing about who’s better but I do want to express my displeasure with the way he treats us here in the office.  It’s a, “do what I say, not what I do” culture and it sucks.  I’m at the point in a soldiers career where we set it to cruise (I have less than 2 months) and help where we can but primarily work on the next step.  The military has an entire organization designed for transitioning soldiers and they encourage retirees to start to fade away in order to give the organization we are leaving the opportunity to move forward without us and it gives us the chance to try to get ahead of the game as we move to our next life.

I often say that I feel like Brooks from the film, “Shawshank Redemption.”  The elderly, librarian who has spent nearly his entire life in prison when suddenly he is granted parole and set out onto the streets of the free world for the fist time in a long time.  He feels scared and alone and more importantly, he has no idea which way to go.  He’s lost and after a short time of struggle, Brooks gives up and takes his life.  Now, that’s a bit drastic but I certainly see how someone can become institutionalized after spending their life living a certain way, having their life managed for them.  It’s scary and I’m feeling it but I’ll sort it out.

I better get back to work before any of my bosses start to circle like a shark that smells fresh blood.  I’ve been doing this to long to have these feelings.  I’ve done it right for a long time, fuck these incompetent turds.  Let me retire and get on with my life.  I’m supposed to be doing something big.  I know it.

MC

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Roselinde on the Road

Travel tales from a freckled adventurer

Wonderful Cinema

Short reviews on high quality films. No spoilers.