“My name is Might’ve Been” ~Hole

It’s the “here we go again” 70 page background check and polygraph prep: Recall my mailing address two decades ago in South Korea? Nope. My ex-husband’s social security number? Nope. His current mailing address? Definitely not. Have I ever allowed recreational marijuana use in my home? Define “allowed”. Have I ever worked at a job where alcohol consumption on duty was allowed? Yes, in fact, it was encouraged. It’s called “radio”. Ever blog about porn? Guilty! Oh wait, that’s not one of the questions. Wheew!

I’d rather be bedazzling on this Friday night. My grandmother was a costume designer in the golden age of Vaudeville in Miami and she made it look so easy, affixing rhinestones armed with nothing but a metal nail file and her own acrylic tipped fingernails.

I just returned from a few (too few) days in the woods with my dog. We were along the GA/SC border and it was cold! I’m part lizard so I’m always cold but even my wanna-be mountain dog didn’t want to get out of the car on Day 2 after traipsing (more like tripping) 8 miles through the hills the day prior in 30 degrees. Probably spent more time on the road than in the woods, I simply didn’t have much PTO to spare.

But road trips are a game of Name That Roadkill, of signs warning me that Judgement Day is coming, and old trucks on the side of the road that I salivate over the idea of buying and busting my knuckles on, , singing to my dog for 10 hours, choreographing dance and comedy routines in my head, wishing I’d thought to be a Park Ranger when I grew up, and overthinking in general.

Thinking about random shite. Like…

And so it begins again, New Year, New You. The usual suspects on my social media checking in to their gyms and taking pictures of their salads as if NOT doing this would negate any benefits of their temporary new routines and diets.

If I had a New Year’s resolution it might be to run (okay, slow jog, ie: “Slog”) every day (yes EVERY day) and replace wine with tea.

Then I think about these studies that say running is NOT the best form of exercise and I think “Those are conducted by people that sincerely hate running”. And I eat them up like gospel because I sincerely hate running. But the fact in my experience remains that I do not know a single sincere runner in bad shape. Even those like me with bad backs, knees, etc…their conditions improved with running (ie: losing weight). When I ruck 15 miles carrying an extra 50lbs, I hurt the next day. But I’m carrying an extra 50lbs all over my body EVERY day. So I hurt. Dur.

I still don’t want to run.

And I think I’ll stick to the state highways and off the interstate as much as possible in the future. On these now “back-roads”, there’s less traffic and I don’t have the peer pressure of keeping up with the speeding flow or avoiding leapfrogging semi-trucks or impatient assholes psychically nudging my bumper to force me to drive even faster than the 20 over I’m already traveling (by the way, Bitch, I can pit you. Back. Off.)

And I think about CK and his love of museums. I told him the only museums I enjoyed were the Smithsonian in DC and…I think I’ve been to the Louvre but that year was a blur for me. “Where is the Mona Lisa?” I asked. The Louvre, he answered. Then yes, I’ve been to the Louvre because I remember her. I don’t enjoy the Ringling museum but there are two pieces I like, the portrait of Salome and the three muses: spinning, measuring and cutting. I’m particularly drawn to the one that cuts.

But back to CK, the man who loves museums and spends Friday nights organizing his desk drawer and kitchen cupboards for the 5th time this year. I told him he is a prime candidate for the Dull Men’s Club and should apply. They’d send him a certificate that he can frame for his office and everything.

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Miss Congeniality

Bored of the sex blogs; the crudest, most poetic descriptions of fucking. I’m critical of the Selfish Suicidal even as I daydream, “hypothetically” blowing my brains out while doing dishes. I wonder if my military career is really over, like falling just short of reaching the summit of Mt. NORQUAY so I don’t buy the t-shirt. No retirement, no celebratory t-shirt. But if you’re “out-out” you can apply for medical marijuana and live pain free, I tell myself. And sleep without pills and booze. I hate every picture of me. I’ve hated every picture of me for years but now I REALLY hate them. And video is worse. I entered an impromptu swing dance competition at a rockabilly party last weekend and lost. I didnt expect to win (maybe I expected to place) but the assurances of “Oh it was close! We loved your attitude”. Yeah, I got the ‘tude going for me. Miss Congeniality. I dcowled watching the videos afterwards – my terrible posture, hunched shoulders, jutting chin…FAT. off balance too. Couldn’t even get a basic tandem Charleston right, so out of practice. If I ever said I could dance, watching the videos, I take that back. And I untagged myself.
But I got the tattoo for my deceased dance partner, “DOMB” last Friday night. He wasnt selfish. He was in pain, losing a battle and decided to end it on his terms. I blamed my temporary departure from dance on grad school, then the after-work-job-hunting then the yo-yo’ing health but fact is, I lost my enthusiasm for it when DOMB died. Corny as it is, that Wham song plays in my head when I think of him. CK has zero interest in dancing and I won’t force him. “You’re not Alice anymore. You’ve lost your muchness”. I know that movie got terrible reviews but I rather liked it. First one anyway. Well, this is a fizzle drizzle end but I’ve got nuthin…

“I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see” ~Sweet Charity

That title is a lie. These days, I do. Everyone except the one I’m with.

Surrounded by people in the office and feel like typing helps…sane as long as I’m typing, like a shark that can’t stop swimming lest they die.

Havent slept in two nights, I was late to work both days, took sick leave to cover my butt but I still burn all my leave as fast as I earn it for bullshit like that. I’ll never get more than an extended weekend at this rate. In 10 months of employment here, I still can’t bring myself to the commitment that a signature block signifies but perhaps something along the lines of “Over-educated, executive-level-manager-turned-desk-monkey”. Today, one of the letters from another department gets kicked back for bad grammar and punctuation. I fixed it -simple-and sent it back but the response was “The Director’s office will wait for review by the Coaches”. Right. Because correcting grammatical errors in reports is above my pay grade these days.

I was happily hacking down trees on my mom’s property in the woods two weekends ago. Too bad park rangers make $26-28k annually. Loves the woods! Handy with a chainsaw! PR experience a plus! Cant live off that check though.

Had a meeting with my Army career manager yesterday. First face to face in a year and admit that I was sucking in HARD (#gradschoolgut). I agreed to consider deploying again with SOCOM and fought back a cold sweat. I swear, if the Air Force would take me back, I’d celebrate. Did I ever tell you about that rainbow I saw on the flight line at Patrick AFB when I went out there three years ago to interview with the C-130 CSAR unit? Oh man, I was CONVINCED that was a sign! I KNEW in my heart that I would retire there, back in a blue uniform (or green flight suit). What the fck happened to that? Nothing good has come from my Army experience.

Cant talk to CK right now either. Eleven months now without orgasm. Frustration elevated back to DEFCON 10. He was crying about how while doing his Jane Fonda stretches this morning, he lost his balance and bumped his shoulder. I found his weakness unattractive. And hate myself for feeling that way. And for fantasizing about the guy at work that “offered” me his fully functioning c*ck (and no, I didnt take him up on it).

How ‘bout this for a signature block?

“Bitch, BA, MBA, Executive-level-manager-turned-minimum-wage-desk-monkey”

“…Our flag was still there”

Given the choice, I sing the national anthem acapella. No hiding behind background music. When my voice cracks with emotion, you hear it. I want you to feel it the way I feel it. The way I wish I could still feel the presence of G-d.

I’m not nervous behind a microphone, on stage, singing or dancing… unless I’m singing the Star Spangled Banner. There’s a chance I’ll cry. Pass out gasping for air between belted and whispered notes. Because if there’s any song I give a damn about, it’s that one. Because it’s an honor and privilege to sing it. Because friends and family, known and unknown, enlightened or misguided, died for it.

I’m not out to flex my vocal chops and earn your praise. It’s not about the singer: I don’t give a damn who you are. Sing it straight with respect. Sing it from the corners of your soul, joy and mourning, proud and ashamed of what it represents and has cost us.

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?

On the flag…

In my years of service, i have probably carried and folded no fewer than a thousand flags carried and lifted from a thousand caskets. In SERE school, I was beaten for refusing to stand on the flag. And the National Anthem is the only song that both strikes fear in my heart and brings tears to my eyes when Im asked to sing it.
So ask me how I feel about all this kneeling business and words cannot accurately express how deeply this bothers me. I expect it from terrorist organizations and those who hate our country, not from fellow Americans. Yes, it’s their right, as Americans amd i defend it, as i must. But I hate them for it and G-d forgive me for that.

This sparked a heated debate between many of my conservative, liberal, military, civilian, friends and family. I warned them all to keep it respectful or I would not only delete their comments but them as well. I took the time to read the external articles that they posted and consider their arguments that “it’s not meant as disrespect to the military” and countered with “I would not walk into a shura in Afghanistan wearing a bikini in attempt to Advocate women’s rights. You cannot expect to win support to your cause by doing something so culturally offensive”. Once you have shocked and alienated people like that, they won’t give a damn what your “intent” was. They aren’t listening.

” I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man” Little Big Town

I’m so lonely, I’m combustible. My emotions aren’t raw, I am a live wire. Always have been. Passionate, honest. Eight days flew by.

Miles of abandoned beach means “clothing optional”. Tons of sand dollars and washed up jellyfish that look like breast implants but still no sea glass. Pushed myself pretty hard the first few days in Yosemite. Climbed a no-shit mountain and developed a stress fracture in my foot. Followed by a sinus infection because It snowed the 3rd day and all I had was open toed Tevas and a light windbreaker. When I was packing, the forecast called for 85 degrees in the day, not 34.
Sadly, there is no way to escape the crowds in Yosemite. There is always someone in front of you or riding your ass, chattering away loudly in a foreign language. But it was beautiful and wonderous at moments in a way that the Scottish Highlands were not. Except for the Sequoias. The grove was a graveyard of burned up and dead. The living were centuries away from being awe-inspiring.

Although with every trip off the grid, I think I should have done something else with my life, career-wise. Been a botanist or environmental scientist. I wouldn’t have gotten rich but probably would have had a stable job for the rest of my life that may have been more rewarding than my attempts to save humanity

Napa/Sonoma was a like Disney: overpriced bougie boredom. The Flake’s new home is a paradise. Although I still think SoCal suits me better, being part lizard n’ all.

After Yosemite, I decided to “take it easy” hiking around Point Reyes National Seashore. The oasis amidst soul-sucking San Francisco, one trVwler called it. Limping along mile after mile of California coastline, leaning heavily on a piece of sequoia from Yosemite. The foot slows me down but doesnt stop me. What stopped me was a herd of Tule elk in the path, less than a mile away from the tip of Tomales Point. I considered walking around them but the stags began yelling at me “Dont even think about it, lady”.

Im a big fan of the hostel though and their slogans “for travelers, not tourists”. I met a dutch woman who confided that she worked the same job for 17 years, then after a misssion to South Africa, decided “I cant do this anymore”, put everything she didn’t want to part with in storage and began traveling the world. But

But i still didnt engage with anyone, not for long. The only romantic encounter i had was with myself, nude on a deserted beach, fantasizing about an attractive single man coming along and asking if he could help.

I walked for miles on a deserted beach until after dark and didnt bother to mark the narrow entrance to the foot path. I know better! Mild panic set in when after a few false starts, i realized i couldn’t simply plow my way through the growing wall of seagrass and 9 foot high brush. Iraise my eyes to the mountains shuffled my feet and sang to warn off the nightlife that chittered and howled around me. Then turning back toward twin lights on the beach, it was a couple of Japanese guys night fishing, wearing headlamps. Thank g-d, they led me back to the path.

I sent him a picture on a nude beach. Tit for his repeated tat. He said it was sexy and turned him on. He asked where i was. He knew exactly how close i was and for how long but never said “I want to see you”. I admitted to him that i teared up driving past his house on the way to the airport. He said “That makes me sad too”. I doubt that. After all, he could have had me with a word.

“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

It’s okay if Harry and Sally never hook up

That’s what I’m thinking about, last nights conversation with my Asshole Best Friend (ABF). As I’m pre-flight cracking: folding myself in half to release my back, then shoulders, then lift my legs like dog-meets-tree and the sounds of my hips popping is loud enough that the man beside me in the line to board the plane remarks on it. It will be long day of flights to reach Montana. I’m visiting a friend there for my bday. Because you know I always grow desperate around my bday and need to get the hell out of town. Scotland last year, Alaska year before (and looking back, you recall how those went). Montana is a foreign land to me and I wanna make those mountains my bitch but these days, my appetite for adventure is bigger than my physical capability. Also my friend has 18mos old twins and is in full-time mommy mode. I told her we could split them up, pack them in papooses and ruck them up the mountain with us. Not sure if she’s down but she used to be fearless. Freshly retired from the Army, I’m dying her hair pink. We’ve been obsessing over Guy Tang colors and I’m going to follow one of his recipes for a 5 part harmony of rose gold and pink. My mother will be next with varying shades of silver and dusty violet metallic.

But I digress. The Flake called again and it went straight to  VM because he is still blocked. He just wanted to apologize.  And I’m thankful for the apology. It eases my resentment.

But my asshole best friend. We may only talk on the phone once or twice  a year but that’s partly becsuse I hate talking on the phone and he traps me for hours. Last night, it was 4.5 until my phone died. By then he was drunk, rambling and repeating himself. Telling me he attempted suicide again on his birthday and, unsurprised and a bit less sympathetic than I had intended, I advised him to take a tip from me: take birthday weeks off, run far far away and go check something off the bucket list. He also lost his recent radio gig in a blaze of dramatic glory. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. On the upside, He started writing short screenplays again. One is nearly finished and he bounced a few other ideas off me. One is based on us. A key scene being a memory that he holds dear (and I was too drunk to recall): at a concert, he says something to upset me, of course, I lash back and he apologizes. I sit next to him and lay my head in his lap (I do not remember any of this, by the way. I can’t even recall what concert we were at). He’s stroking my hair, thinking about how much he loves me and wonders if he should kiss me. But he doesn’t and instead, puts me in a cab and sends me home, like I requested.  And that’s the scene that haunts him, he should have kissed me, he insists. I’m on the other end of the conversation, shaking my head amd flapping my arms like my brother in an autistic fit thinking “Nononono!!!” But my voice is calm as I say “Well, thank you for not taking advantage of me when I was drunk. If you had, we may not still be friends”, he replies “Of course we would. And we’d be married with kids” I cringe and flap again, “You know,” I try to joke, “its okay if Harry and Sally never hook up” but he isn’t listening. He’s again describing this kiss that could have altered the course of our futures, that will be the alternate reality played out on video. And  I hear my mother’s voice “See? I told you men and women can’t be friends”

“You know the sun is gonna shine in my back door some day” Aretha Franklin

Went to a West Coast meets country dance. Country in one room, West Coast swing in the other. Truly, I went for the country room to brush up on my 2 Step which is horrendous. Don’t use it for 20 years, you definitely lose it. Well, at least I did. The leads had to “insist” rather than “suggest”. By 11:30pm all that was left were the Regional West Coast Pros. I guess everyone else didn’t feel like dancing around them so they left. I hung around a little longer watching but frankly, I was not feeling the music or the dancing. It was like spoonful after spoonful of icing with little cake. All styling and tricks and no Foundation.

My friend “S”, the one I have Frank conversations with on a near-daily basis. I met him in the Army. He’s one of the reasons why I say joining the Army was not a mistake no matter how much I joke about it. When he was telling me about his latest would-be romantic encounter and the reason he’s going to die alone, I reminded him that we should at the very least, make sure we end up in the same nursing home together. Provided we both live to a ripe old age which as a matter aside I never intended on. But just in case I do we should be roommates. “I’m a quiet masturbator. Hell, I’ll even let you have the top bunk” (John Lyshitski). Let’s Go to Prison, one of the best, underrated comedies since John Candy took funny to the grave with him. Although between Deadpool and Just Friends, I have found renewed comedic hope in Ryan Reynolds.
I finished a law assignment in the 11th hour and felt pretty good about it. This instructor (retired military JAG and current federal judge) is engaged and I respect him, which motivates me to make an effort to give him something worth reading (looking at, listening to). I want to give as good as I get. I’m celebrating with homemade pizza with a cauliflower crust (in hind-taste, I do NOT recommend it), some wine (okay, a vat of wine), Rain, Candlelight, and Aretha Franklin. I was feeling so good (and a little tipsy) that I flipped my phone the bird rather than answer it when my The Flake called.

I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on a church billboard that struck me. No, not that “worry is a mild form of atheism” although that has lingered in my brain for years. This one is less profound but still struck me: Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm. The point is, there is always a storm…