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.

The Struggle is Real

Haven’t had a day off in quite some time and I’m beginning to feel the anxiety associated with transitioning out of the army.  Non-military folks don’t get it.  All of my civilian friends talk about “job placement” and how easy it’s going to be to find a new job when I retire, but the truth is, it isn’t.  Nothing about retirement from the army is easy.  Sure I’ll receive a check every month for the rest of my life and sure that’ll cover a home and some expenses associated with a home but it won’t keep me where I’m at, financially speaking.  That’s the scary part.  I have no idea how to proceed and because I’m retiring from the Indiana National Guard all of my retirement/transition help is located about an hour and half away at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Fort Knox is responsible for assisting separating soldiers in every aspect, from medical to transportation and they do a good, efficient job but if you live far away they’re not much help.  In their defense, it’s not their job to find me a new life.  I learned long ago. No one cares about you in this world.  I mean, your family, hopefully cares, but in the grand scheme of life you’re on your own and I think, that’s the scary part.  My entire adult life has been taken care of by Uncle Sam.  All I had to do was, wake up in the morning and my day was laid out for me.  I’d accomplish my daily task and leave.  Everyday has been the same.  The tasks are almost always different and sometimes the “leave” part may be several days or months a part, but the format is the same.  Without this structure, I’m not sure which way I’m supposed to proceed.  I feel a bit like Brooks, the librarian in “Shawshank Redemption”, although my mental state is a lot better than his turned out to be.  That being said, I do feel the anxiety that he seemed to have upon his release from the big house.

A little dramatic?  Yes. But, I made a promise to myself that when I retired, my family wouldn’t have to go through any sort of financial lull while I tried to get my civilian footing.  This is proving harder than I thought.

Working on my resume is ridiculously brutal, in that, everything I write looks bad and/or poorly written even though I’ve done some pretty substantial work in my time with the army.  Every time I think it looks good, I re-read it and it’s pure shit.  I’ve sent it out to friends that have provided great input and I’ve adjusted accordingly but it still doesn’t read the way I want it to and the clock is ticking.

This entire process would be a lot easier if I had any idea of what I wanted to be when I grow up.  My friends that have retired from the army recently all have a plan.  Either they just want something slow and easy that gets them back to their “break even” number financially or they have a passion that they will enjoy upon retirement.  I don’t have any obvious passions and I’d still like to make some money in my life.  Funny thing about that last comment is that, yes, I want to make some money in my life but at the end of the day, I’d like to have the money in order to give it away.

Seeing people genuinely happy is something I love to see.  Unfortunately, because of the way I deal with things, I outwardly project that I am always disgruntled and mean.  That’s a shame because I’m usually in pretty good mood although I struggle with “dumb.”  When I see people doing dumb things just because they aren’t paying attention or are so self-involved that they fail to realize that there are other people affected by their actions, I become frustrated.  I often have to explain to my wife, who I love dearly, that I’m not mad or frustrated with her but I am mad and frustrated with a situation, usually caused by some outlying variable.

That came out wrong.  My wife is brilliant.  She is an aggressive go-getter and the only reason she is struggling now is because she blindly followed me down to Southern Indiana because she’s an amazing person , that only wants the people around her to be happy.  Something I desperately need to be more in tune with.  She’s my rock and I owe it to her to have something lined up in order to support her and to ensure she doesn’t notice a financial dip in our lifestyle.  And so, the struggle is real.

MC

About Last Night

Living in a small town should be delightful.  Less crime, a tighter sense of community and a comfortable respite from the over-crowding of big cities.  Unfortunately, French Lick, Indiana is not that and not what I thought it would be.

My wife an I moved to French Lick due to Military obligations, in the winter of 2016 after ten years in Indianapolis’ inner-city.  We were expecting to get away from the issues that come with living in an urban environment, like drug trafficking, gang-related violence and all of the petty crimes.  Downtown Indianapolis wasn’t a hot-bed of gang violence, it had some but it did have it’s share of petty crime, to include, theft, burglary and domestic disputes almost every night.  In all of our time in Indianapolis, we only called the police twice and that was for suspicious cars parked on the block.  When the Indiana National Guard promoted me and stationed me in Jasper, Indiana, we thought we’d find a small community, grow some roots and start a family.  Boy, were we wrong.

Eighteen months after moving into our new city and establishing ourselves as productive people in the community, our world changed.  Directly across the street in, what had previously been a rental property, a family of degenerate dirt bags moved in and no one’s sure how.  One day there are “renters” quietly living in the home and the next a multi-racial, multi-generational family moved in with no discernable leader amongst them and providing no value to our adopted city.  I immediately contacted my friends that are local realtors to find out how this could happen.  The house was never officially put on the market so how did this “family” get the inside track?  No one can explain to me how this happened.  I spoke to the local police department. Nothing.  I spoke to the local town hall and they acted surprised that this had happened, however, they did know the family and this is how we found out that we are, now, screwed.

Some time before we moved to the little community of French Lick, the local police gunned down one of this families “uncles”.  Shot him dead in the street which, of course, upset the family.  I can’t imagine why, because from  all the reports the uncle was resisting and threatening, either way the family vowed to get revenge.  They have, of course, not gotten revenge but because of this situation the local police are “apprehensive” to confront this family.  ANNND that’s just magical.  I suppose, by being a scourge of humanity, they have gotten revenge on the police and the entire city.

I say all of that to get to last night.  The police were called several times and I didn’t even pick up the phone.  Someone else was calling the police because the family was sitting on the front porch blasting music and carrying on like it was Mardi Gras, which isn’t a huge problem except the fact that it was midnight, on a Wednesday in a small town in Southern Indiana.  The police finally stopped and spoke to the family and after a fifteen minute discussion, which I couldn’t hear because I was watching from inside my home, a few feet away, the police drove away.  During that fifteen minutes a young lady wearing a very skimpy outfit approached the cruiser and talked to the officer as she leaned quite invitingly into the vehicle.  From my angle it appeared as if she was offering the officer a “hand” but I can’t confirm that so I may have to delete that part later.  Nevertheless, after speaking to the neighbors, this morning, it took five phone calls over a four hour period before the police would do anything about this family, which is unacceptable.

The sad part is that last nights debacle was minor compared to some of the other calls to the police because of this family and to some of the things my wife and I have seen.  A short list would include; an unconscious body being carried into the home the morning of Christmas Eve, fist fights in the street directly in front of our home on several occasion, scantly clad teenage girls dancing to loud music at midnight, suspected drug deals at all hours and drugs and alcohol being consumed in broad daylight by young people that may or may not be legal drinking age.  On each occasion the police were called or showed up on their own accord and on each occasion zero arrests were made and in one instance, high-fives were given to the family by the police.  What the fuck?  I call the police for a disturbance, the police arrived and start high-fiving the very same people that played NWA’s infamous song, “Fuck The Police” as the police pulled up.  This city is pathetic!

I’m supposed to be slipping into retirement from the Army and starting a new career, while my wife continues her climb through the ranks of the nearby resort.  We’re supposed to be starting a family but instead we’re dealing with a bunch of trash that no one will do anything about.  I feel like my only option at this point is to call them out on my own, get physically injured by them and then, maybe, just maybe, enough attention will be churned up that the city will have to make a move.  Unfortunately, I’m to old for that sort of behavior so if it comes to that, it’s really going to hurt.

It’s a ticking time-bomb and everyone is turning a blind eye.  I’ve written this post to capture this time in our lives so that when the bomb goes off, there will be proof that people were warned and chose to do nothing.

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.