Archive for August, 2014

Where We Are

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Everyday Life

I travel and work alone most of the time. Because of this I can usually set my own schedule, particularly, what I do on my own time. I eat when I want, start and stop work when I want. And I travel by what ever means I want and take what ever route I feel is best between assignments. It is a pretty nice job but there are , like most jobs, many pressures when I arrive on site. But I can make my free time as good as I want.

Who ever said, “my job is hours of boredom only interrupted by moments of sheer terror” knew what he was talking about. I have one of those jobs. But since we all have different types of jobs, my idea of sheer terror and how long it lasts is probably different from a doctor’s or the Maytag repairman’s. And it seems the hours of boredom keep getting shorter. I’m not at war or a fireman rescuing people from burning buildings but there are days I wish my job involved only that. After all, mental terror can be the worse terror of them all. It all comes down to that, whether fighting fires or doing whatever the hell it is they call what the rest of us do. We all want our job to be important and it can come down to a point where much money and many people are depending on our skills, knowledge and mental prowess. It is when “we are put on the spot” and all of the attention is on us that we need that hard mental shield that protects us from the sheerness of our terrors. But when the job is done and the terror has subsided, we need to know how to take down that mental shield or at least make it a little thinner. That’s why I like working alone.

When you travel and work alone and the job for the day is done, you don’t have to keep reliving it by talking about it over again with a coworker that you probably will be having dinner with that night. If you are staying in the same hotel, you may even have to talk about work the next morning at breakfast. This year, I have at least tried to stay at a different hotel than my coworkers if possible. I need the distance to help remove that work mental shell during the off hours. I do not like talking about work during meals, especially at all three meals of the day. At lunch I may talk about it but only after we evaluate the waitress, choose the sandwich and get a couple of glasses of unsweetened iced tea down our throat. And usually by that time it’s time to get back to work anyway. I’m not really an asshole, I just want to enjoy my time away from work. My last dying words and I’ll bet yours too are not going to be “Boy, I wish I’d spent more time talking about work”. I will probably have many more important regrets than that.

The first regret will probably be “wish I’d spent more time at home” or with the kids on their birthdays or at their school functions. After that if I have enough breath left, maybe I will be saying, “I spent all that time on the road and in the air and I didn’t talk more to the strangers I met” or took more pictures or shook more hands. Or maybe I will wish I’d found out more about that hotel clerk I walked past each day instead of only saying  “good morning” as I rushed by. Maybe they will have that same regret. But this is not about regrets, it’s about learning how to spend our free time.

We will all have plenty of regrets later. This has been about learning how to change the subject when work comes up in our free time conversations. It has been about not being in such a rush to get to work that you don’t talk more to those strangers you run into each morning. Maybe this has been about taking the road less traveled in between those work assignments. If we can’t be at home, we really should make the most of where we are.

Such is the life of John

Adult 1% Decision

Posted: August 14, 2014 in free verse, poetry, politics, war

You just have to start.
Move, stroke, run
move fast and first and let the mind catch up,
make it feel that the words belong,
The syntax will follow,
but its order from chaos really,
we should really think as a child
We really aren’t grown-ups


Most of our lives are following lessons we learned in elementary school.
Quoting Woody Allen, “95% of life is just showing up”. Whether you are 5 or 85 that’s a constant of life. So only a small amount of our remaining 5% of the time something “adult” is being asked of us. I believe that only 1 percent of our lives actually requires an adult decision in order to reach a decent degree of success. The unsuccessful of us make no adult decisions at all. The other 4% of the time we are still just doing what we learned as children.

Deciding to pay bills is not an adult thing, we learned to bring our milk and lunch money to school and knew the consequences if we didn’t when we were 5 or 6. Bathing, potty training, washing our hands, using our fork and spoon, all things that as kiddies we learned to do. By the time we are “adults” most of the time we are only doing the same things that we did as children. The only thing that stopped us from doing more when we were 10, was our limited resources. If I’d had a few bucks at that young age, I would have had a whole hell of a lot more experiences. I may have been dangerous. I was aware then and so were you.

Admit it, you are not thinking much differently now than you did as a runny nosed 8 year old. Hell, even I remember being that age.

Sex you say is adult. Not so fast now, we were playing doctor nurse patient, “I will show you mine if you’ll show me yours” beginning somewhere between kindergarten and third grade. Everyone has a childhood curiosity story. By the time we are teenagers we are just following the same instinct but with hormones. Things are just wetter after age 11,12 or 13. I believe Kinsey found that most of us began masturbating before we grew pubic hair. Just because we are now having sex as adults doesn’t mean we are thinking as or being adult. I believe that if we looked at sex as we did as children it would be even more fun than it already is. As adults we are just more uptight about it. We are wasting a little share of our 1% adult thought life being uptight about it.

I don’t want this to only be about sex. I just brought it up so you’d keep reading. I am really questioning the difference between our child thought patterns and our adult. I really don’t think there is any difference. Just look at Congress. Pretty damn childish isn’t it. Look at the wars that are sprouting up everywhere, damn childish, an example of children with resources. Children think that the kids with the most resources and toys wins. How many times have we found that to be untrue?

There is just not enough of the 1% of adult thinking going around. 1% is really not asking much of us. Hell with giving 110%. We just need to be grown up 1% of the time, 1 fucking %. And those of us that are supposed to and we depend on being adult are running around in jungle camouflage jack boot outfits and armored trucks in the middle of a concrete city. And pointing guns at American citizens that just want to know why a 18-year-old kid was killed by someone who was supposed to be there to serve and protect and be nothing but a 1% adult. 1%,…. it’s too much to ask.


I Will Not Sleep

Posted: August 13, 2014 in poetry
Tags: ,

I will not sleep.
Until the night remains calm for you
Until the hours become short
I will watch with you
For the storm that steals in the night,
That internal storm that torments you
I will watch out for you
Until the night is good for you
I will not sleep


Surprise Me

Posted: August 10, 2014 in creative writing
Tags: , ,

While away from home “on the road” meal time takes on a new meaning. If you’re working with others “Where do you want to eat tonight?” becomes the expected question starting at around 2:30 every afternoon. Evening meals are enjoyable when eaten with others. But after a certain amount of time the highlight of the day dulls and members of the dinner party start dropping out saying they are just going to grab a sandwich and watch some TV in their room. I among them.

I knew a fellow so tired of being away from home that he ate the same breakfast, the same lunch and same dinner at the same place, at the same time by the same waitresses for a solid week. He said he was just tired of having to make the decision of the mealtime ritual each day. It was more like home seeing the same faces, at the same place and eating at the same time. His manager wouldn’t approve his expense report for that week, not because of the amount but because he reported the exact same amounts for each day of the week. I had to vouch for the poor homesick dope that what he reported was correct. I still remember the amount, $27.32 including tips for meals per day. That was a few years ago.

I’ve been ”on the road” alone a lot the past few years. And nothing is worse than eating at a restaurant alone, seated in the middle of the room, your table facing away from the window or door and staring at a few other diners that wouldn’t crack a smile if you could paint one on your face with mustard. So years ago I solved this uncomfortable situation by making sure that I have with me at least one of these to read in this order of preference: a newspaper, a book or the local penny saver. If I forget to have any of these I now always have my Blackberry to fiddle with or a couple of business cards from my wallet to read and reread until my dinner arrives. Writing on a napkin works great too if you remember a pen or pencil. But don’t count on a napkin these days at a sit down restaurant, you may be reduced to writing on the back of your hand. But that attracts attention. And it’s hard to wash off.

The drive-thru window has really solved the problem though. Go through the drive-thru, take the meal home to the motel and eat your dinner in peace. A few better chains have drive-thru’s now. But that gets old too. One day a few weeks ago I went through Kentucky Fried Chicken, love their chicken. A 4 piece meal is almost close to home. The young girl voice asked “which — the grilled, crispy or original recipe?”. Tired of making such decisions I said “I don’t care, surprise me.”. During the short wait I guessed what she would give me. I guessed the new grilled, they were promoting it, and the two choices, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. When I got back to my room it was, yep – the grilled, yep – mashed potatoes and I guessed it – coleslaw. No surprise here. Now where’s the napkin and spork. SURPRISE! She didn’t give me any. I’ll bet she is still smiling about that. Two dishes impossible to eat with your fingers. I carry my own utensils now.

Such is the life of John

Dog Days

Posted: August 8, 2014 in creative writing, Everyday Life

Dog Days
1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

The Dog Days of Summer. That’s where we are in time and space, the Dog Days. In my space and at my latitude the corn is just starting to naturally dry. Kids will be walking to school soon, some enthusiastically, some more reluctantly. The drone of the air conditioner is still common, continuous and mostly unnoticed. The morning rains are light and the winds are southern. Weather only reaches boiling point in late afternoon when the sun, the breeze and what little moisture in the air mix into a concoction of violent storms. Then afterwards turns into sultry heat before the sun starts to go down.

Summer projects should now be well underway and reaching completion, certainly if not started by now they will soon be kicked out of the schedule, whether it’s for new pavement, back porch or swimming pool. I get the sense of winding down, although I’m as busy now as anytime of the year. But the sense of having finally settled into the year is dominant and the realization that we, with just a little more luck, have probably made it through another 12 months. People have just learned to slow down and tolerate the heat but must soon ramp up and prepare for the hustle and bustle of school activities. Those with and without children are thinking about what fall will bring and are instinctively musing of exchanging mower for rake and later snow shovel. The smart ones are preparing for winter. If we were squirrels, we would be starting to work at a feverish pace.

Such is the life of John

Ignite It

Posted: August 7, 2014 in free verse, poetry
Tags: ,

It’s time to rid the page of the negative
and gently scribe the positive.
Somewhere deep within the jelly of the mind and skull,
shaking there, quivering there within it.
A small spark is firing,
a spark waiting to be fueled,
igniting a more good thought.
The combustible will come from outside it.
It will be a kind word,
the purr of a cat,
or noticing the beauty of young unblemished skin.
The fuel is everywhere.
Let that small moist spark ignite it.


Amber Veins

Posted: August 5, 2014 in poetry
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Gaze long upon the stubbled wheat
and the fruit’s dry amber veins
What once were fields of wind-blown sprouts
are now the dry straw’s remains.

No rains will fill the lengthened cracks
Hot south winds now dry the dust
Only hope of August’s evening storms
will soften land’s arid crust.

But just below this hardened shell
Nurtured work is now concealed
Tasks consumed by primordial life
Secrets will be soon revealed

So put away the tandemmed plow
Let no steel scar this sacred earth
For below, the field must breathe and brew
preparing next season’s birth.

Looking out over the harvested field across the road from my home, after this hot and dry July, I wonder if anything can possibly survive. Hopefully under the crust, just below the widening cracks, nature’s work continues. Just digging my hand a few inches below the surface I can feel the coolness of the ground and feel that all is not baked. Just below the hot, wind dried hopelessness, life is still at work, continuing to prepare for another season. Only the surface waits for rain.


Taken Away

Posted: August 2, 2014 in poetry
Tags: , ,

The painting hangs before me
The colors, the textures, the scene
all blend together and I am taken away.

Seeing no brush strokes or colors
I am  taken away to a place.

The song is sung before me
The notes, the voice, the words
all meld into a wave  and I am taken away.

Hearing no words or melody
I am taken away to a place.

No remembering of each color or note
brush stroke or voice
The beauty is in the feeling and it takes me.

You stand before me . . . .




An Award!

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Everyday Life

I want to take just a paragraph or so to give a Shout Out to justsomethingiwasthinkingabout

I am very honored to be nominated by Sadie for the “One Lovely Blog Award”

I have been following Sadie for a few months and have enjoyed all of her timely and thought-provoking posts. Please stop by her site, check it out and give her a comment and like. Tell her ol’ DistantShipSmoke sent ya.

Someday I may fill out the seven things you may not know about me.

As a few of you know, and I don’t say it enough, I enjoy all of my follows and followers and find it amazing all of the hard work everyone puts into their blogs and the wonderful imagination and knowledge that they exhibit. My days would be much more bland if I didn’t spend a few minutes each day reading your latest creations. And a big thank you to every one of you that decide to take time from your day and spend it in my sandbox.

DSS, E and John