write right

Every once in a while I think about Covey.  You know, Stephen Covey, author of the near cult classics “First Things First” and “7 Habits of Highly Efficient People” and I think about roles.  What are my roles.  So often, so very damned often, I get caught up in the day to day grind.  Just now, while walking down 21st street in NW Portland (Nob Hill area) to my favorite coffee shop for my one night of studying in the next 7 days, I was continuously struck by the sense of being here, of being here now, of each and every little leaf on that remarkably ordinary, and yet stunning, tree beside the grey brick bicycle shop.  It is a little before the sun begins to dip below the horizon, but the direct rays are already lost to us and we are bathed in twilight… that wonderful Northwest twilight that lasts forever sometimes.  It is enough to get me to move further north to Alaska…. maybe. 

Back to roles… I think of them every now and then and wonder what else is there that I am other than bartender, national guard infantry soldier, and student.  I am not very active in doing things with my friends, though I do love them all very much (yes… you too!).  I am just not the hang out sort of guy.  Most of the time.

One role that pops up now and then is that of writer.  I can almost feel the role in me, feel that I do certain things.  And yet I do not.  I make a note to myself that I’ll do better, make small adjustments in my day, do things differently, and incorporate that role into the other roles that I do.  But I don’t.

I was sick Tuesday night and got no studying done.  I was sick the next morning and missed the damn bus (his fault.  Bastard) and sent an email to a prof about a poem told her that I would miss class.  Here it is…


Reading “Base Details” by Siegfrid Sassoon, I am instantly reminded of Dick Cheney. It is, to me, the perfect comparison. I do not see resolve from Cheney. I do not see a Churchill-like firmness of mission, of “we shall go on till the end”. No… I see a fat, sarcastic, idiot that thinks environmentalism is a personal choice, that others are to be ignored, that continuous freakin smirk on his rosy, fat face.


I’d like to put him in boots and in the mud. I’d like for him to have an RPG whiz by, or a carbomb to shake the very ground he is standing on (was that the hand of God drumming down?) and to see the politically-directed maneuvers we do. We do not fight a war to win a war (and accepting the successes and defeats along the way), as we fight a war that is mere analogy to the political jockeying of those fat, red faces back home that smirk and drink their wine and eat their steak.


Meanwhile, my brothers are packing grenades and water into a humvee and gearing up for another patrol (that is not a war patrol but visual trailers for soundbites and bullet comments in the “real” battle back home… between the liberals and conservatives) in Baghdad, land of a million cars, and any one is a bomb waiting to hit him. Spin the wheel… will it be black or red. How many missions have we been told “men, you are to go find a silver Mercedes, believed to be a car bomb…. Go out and find it” and we ask in return “what do we do when we think we found it, or another car that looks like it… it’s not like there are a million silver Mercedes driving around in the Middle East (there are)” and the answer is “stop it and search it”. Yeah… good times.


Meanwhile people use “the troops” as their divine connection, their pedigree of being holy, while they argue for prayer in school, abortion, higher gas taxes, carbon credits for power companies, or whatever it is that the left and the right fight about.


And we are still searching random cars, waiting with tense muscles for the explosion that will send us into the embrace of Death… her grinning in humor and saying “that was a good one… I had you guys going all the way. You thought you’d make it out alive.”



I sent it off to the prof just to show her that I was not making it to class and that I was thinking of the material.  She wrote back, twice, that she liked my writing.  She told me that I should consider doing it.  I wrote back and she wrote back, and she was very supportive and gave me some names of some profs that teach classes and recommended that I get into contact with them. 

Really?  I don’t know good or bad writing.  But I do know of good and bad reactions within me.  I couldn’t finish the book “Jarhead” at all… thought it sucked.  I love “The Iliad” very much!  I cannot wait to get into Homer’s other epic poem.  The prof said that she taught creative writing and that she recognized talent.  Wow… really?  I sit here and drink my coffee and listen to the HORRIBLE logic that a guy is giving two girls on accepting the idea of Creationism and Jesus as reincarnated (truly… enough to make a philosophy student cringe) and I resist the urge, mightily, to argue him.  The two girls, exchange students with little understanding of English and using a dictionary to understand him, are pretty much going along with everything he says.  Sorry for the tangent here… but what ever happened to talking about just being good people without the need to accept everything or nothing at all and worrying about hell?  Isn’t it a pretty good start to say “here are some good rules for life that will bring you peace and understanding”.  Christians have much to offer… it is the evangelists and those that would put me on a stake that I do not like. 

Sorry.  Anyway… I sit here and listen to this guy between songs on my iPod and wonder.  What do I have to write and how would I get it out?  I expressed an interest over a decade ago, but I knew that I still had much to live and learn and experience.  Since then I’ve been to another war, held a pistol in my mouth, been cheated on, fought guys in a bar (again), marched for causes I believe in, signed up for causes that I thought I believed in but found out were lies, and a whole host of other things.  I recognize now that I have not learned jack squat… but have enough to go on to start writing.  What lessons and insights will I have when I am sixty?  I hope for many.

What story, or stories, have I inside of me?  I was asked about my writings during Iraq.  I do not have that many, and I certainly do not think they of any good… save for one or two.  “Patrolling with Ravens” I do think is good.  But that is about it really.  A lot of what we did was wait for things to happen… things that didn’t.  A lot of what I write now is commentary on what I see going on.  I watched the Democratic Debate today and I think that Biden and Obama together would be a great ticket.  Either one as president and the other as veep would get my vote, as it stands now.  I’ve got to watch the Republican debate next week.  We’ll see.


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