Content Warning!

This blog on occasion addresses depression, death, suicide and other sensitive themes. Continue at your own discretion in reading the content.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Walking and Writing

It's been a while since I wrote. First off, I did meet my walking challenge back in September for Mission 22. I walked 48+ miles. I finished before the end of the month and was happy that I was able to meet the goal. I did donate and write them a letter for which I received a very unexpected surprise. I did not expect this at all, but it brought me to tears. When your heart is in the right place, good things do happen.

With it being November, NaNoWriMo is here! I am happy to say that I hit the 50,000-word count. I actually went over the limit - 75,000+ and hit a bigger target of 1 million words.  Now that I have hit the 1 million plus word count, I will retire from doing this challenge. I started participating in 2005 and so it is fitting to end on a high note.

I don't have much else to report. I have been buying more vinyl albums, adding to my collection and expanding into genres I normally wouldn't listen to. I have also found things that have struck up memories from my childhood.  I recently bought albums from Electric Light Orchestra, Cozy Cole, and George Benson. 

As a matter of fact, your musical treat is George Benson's guitar masterpiece "On Broadway".

Rock On!


Monday, September 11, 2023

September Walking for Mission 22

My bad knees and my feet are screaming a little but I'm happy to report I'm 18 miles in on the 48-mile challenge for Mission 22. We've had a lot of hot weather here which is uncommon for this time of year in Vermont. I am so glad that September weather will be here in a couple of days. I'd really like to open my screen doors again to enjoy the fresh air and turn off my A/C.

In regard to the challenge, I had to take a day of rest yesterday. My feet were hurting way too much, and I need to rest them and my left knee. It was very much needed and was able to go out this morning for a mile and then logged more steps late this afternoon. 

They say that walking is good for you physically and for uplifting your mood. I have to say that mentally, it hasn't made me feel happier.  It has had no impact on my overall mood. I suppose there are moments where a song is on that I pick up a little, but it has to do with the song more so than my mood. 

I decided to do the 48-mile challenge and walk for my dad mostly and the servicemen whose letters were shredded by my aunt.  Yes, I haven't let that go yet and suspect I won't for a little while longer.  I have to work through it still.  I know why I feel the way I do, that shredding of the letters was like erasing their service to their country and I have to reconcile that. Doing the challenge is my way of not forgetting their service. That serving their country does mean something. 

I did not officially sign up with Mission 22 simply because in order to do so you have to go through Facebook and I'm not doing that.  I don't have a FB account and not about to start one now. 

Other than my aching feet and bad knees, I'm a little ahead of where I need to be with the walk. It will be tight until the end. This isn't a writing challenge, and anything can happen.  I am thinking of having my friends take a picture of me when I complete the challenge, wearing either one of my Til Valhalla shirts or maybe my KITGOD shirt.  I could do both and do a halfway point picture and one at the end. 

I'm not one for having my picture taken but I guess I can do these. If I feel inclined to do a newsletter for Christmas, I'll have something to write about. Speaking of writing, I have no idea what I will do for this year's NaNoWriMo. I'm about 75,000 words short. I told myself I would stop when I hit 1 million words.  I don't know if I have a story, I could write that could be 75,000 words. Honestly, I have no ideas for this year yet and it's bumming me out. I'm all out of ideas, I guess.  I'm so close to 1 million words and yet it seems like a very daunting task. I'll figure it out.

Today's musical treat is Dinah Washington's version of "September in the Rain" which she released in 1961. 

Rock on!


Monday, August 28, 2023

The Missing Letters - Part Two

 The shredding of my letters from Desert Storm still hang with me. I think this is due in part to the fact my dad had served in the military way back in the day. I'm talking late 60's, early 70's. 

When I moved, I was leaving a place I had called home for 43 years. I left so many physical items and memories behind, the most painful one was finding my dad collapsed on the floor.  I took what I could with me to my new home but there was no way I could take everything my parents owned or the things I owned with me.

I should have been paying more attention to my aunt when she was shredding papers and going through the family safe. It's understandable to shred a quiz from when I was in the first grade, but it belonged to me and she should have asked before shredding, especially the letters.

I guess in some strange, odd way, those letters represented more than just servicemen writing back to a stranger who sent a letter of support to them during a time of war. So many members of my family from great-grandfathers to cousins and then some served - Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. These members of my family, some of whom I've never met, served their country.

When my aunt shredded the letters that I got from servicemen involved in the Gulf War it was like their service was - erased. I can't explain that thought or the feelings that go with it.  It was like these men were thrown away - discarded.  I'm sure my aunt had no idea that her shredding of the letters would cause me to feel this way.  I don't why she shredded them. I never asked because when I thought about the letters, it was too late. They were long gone.

I guess this is the sticking point of it all.  These were letters written to me.  She should have asked if I still wanted them. Had she asked, I would have told her that I absolutely wanted to keep them.  I would have never thrown those letters away because doing so would have seemed disrespectful to these men who served our country.

I have never been overly patriotic, but my dad raised me well enough to respect members of our military. He ran a small business for years and always hired former military. When he was in the hospital recuperating from cutting his finger off (they tried to reattach it, but it didn't work), he said the only nurse on duty who knew what they were doing, was an older woman who had served in the Army. My dad said she knew how to make a bed the right way and was a hoot.

Writing those letters long ago was my way of showing support. I love writing, so writing a letter makes sense. There are other ways to show support such as supporting a veteran run business. There are memorial walks and donating to organizations that help veterans.

I'm thinking of participating in Mission 22's September 48-mile walk challenge. I don't think I'll officially sign up but silently show my support. Thankfully, you walk 48 miles for the month. I'm debating on whether or not to do this. If I do it, hopefully my bad knees and bad feet won't scream at me too much. Genetics suck!  Both of my parents had bad knees and my feet are messed up especially my left one.  Trust me when I tell you that dropping a 14 lbs. electric bike battery on your foot followed by two cans of soup two days later will mess up your foot.  It's simply never been the same.

Maybe doing this walk will mend the feeling of the lost letters.  I have a few more days to decide whether I will commit or channel my energy down another path. I'll let you know.

Okay, time to end this ramble. Your musical treat today will be "Burning Bridges" the theme song to the movie Kelly's Heroes that I remember watching with my dad as a kid.  My mom loved Clint Eastwood and my dad liked war movies so this one was watched often.

Rock on!



Sunday, August 6, 2023

The Missing Letters - Desert Storm

It's hard to believe it's been five years since I moved into my condo.  The passage of time is funny especially considering the last three years consisted of a pandemic that really messed with when things happened.

There are days where I remember the things, the things I left behind in the house and wonder why I didn't bring them with me. Then there are things I'm sure I brought but cannot find.  I found myself lost in such remembering but not of my own mistake did a bunch of letters get left behind.

When I was cleaning out most of the house, my aunt (by marriage) was shredding papers from a safe that belonged to my parents and me. There were lots of things and unfortunately, as it turned out, she had shred a stack of letters I had received from servicemen who served during the Gulf War.  I remember that one of them was in the Air Force.  Back then writing letters to servicemen was a big deal. 

I was in college when the Gulf War started. There was Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Operation Desert Storm sticks more in my memory as it kicked off before I returned to college for the Spring semester. Dad was watching the war nearly 24-7. I remember the green tracers shooting through the sky as the battle waged on.  I say green tracers but that's what it looked like as the TV was in night vision.

Operation Desert Shield was phase one and one of my college suitemates was dating a soldier in the Army.  She found out that he was going to be sent over.  She freaked out and talked about dumping him over the phone once he landed in Kuwait.  I remember a whole bunch of us told her not to do that.  He would call late at night to talk to her.  With each phone call, she'd freak out even more after hanging up with him.  She did eventually break up with the guy while he was overseas.  We all felt so bad for him that a number of us went behind her back, coordinating with her mom no less and ended up sending him mail and a care package.  Not that it would lessen the blow of being dumped while deployed but we just felt bad for the guy. He deserved better. I do not know what happened to him, let alone remember his name. I think it was James but it's a bit fuzzy. 

This is when the letter writing campaign began on campus to write letters to soldiers. I was one of those people who wrote letters. Trust me when I say it's hard to write a letter to a stranger. Let alone a soldier. Honestly, what do you say? Turns out you write about boring stuff - stuff so mundane to most people but a welcome reprieve for someone trying not to get shot.

I never expected to get any replies but was surprised when I did. I wish I could remember their names and feel bad that I don't. I feel even worse, that my aunt shredded their letters. I have to admit that I am curious to know where those servicemen are now. Did they even make it home from the Gulf War?

I suspect my aunt just thought they were dumb letters not realizing their importance to me.  They were stored in the safe for reason, so that they would be there, protected for time - a snapshot of history. Stored in a place I could return to and look at them when I felt driven too.

You can't write servicemen or women these days. Those programs pretty much don't exist anymore and have morphed into something else. It's kind of sad really as I would be willing to fire off a batch of letters letting them find their way to a soldier who may not have any family or one who simply needs a little pick-me-up if they're having a bad day.

It makes me grateful that I did not get rid of my dad's zippo lighter or accidently left it behind when I moved. It is clear dad didn't use the lighter as he kept it in the original box, instructions too but time has gotten to it a little. It says "Aleutian Dew Line 714th AC & W SQ." I'm not up on my military lingo but I think AC&W means Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. I just remember my dad talking about the White Alice antennas in old photographs he showed me when I was a kid.

While I no longer possess the letters of the servicemen who wrote me when I was a young 20-something, at least I remember getting them. At least I remember it was the Gulf War. At least, I remember. I remember something. 

Typically, I have a song picked out for your musical treat but today my brain is struggling.  Have no fear, I've got you covered it just took longer than usual to find something. Enjoy Delain's "April Rain." 

Rock on!


Thursday, July 20, 2023

When Things Connect

I continue to work on editing a story I wrote last November. I went through it a couple of times already but in the most recent run though I have added more detail and removed some sections. The story I have been working on is about my journey through depression and suicide. Something I have been writing about and exploring for years.

When the 4th of July rolled around and military themed movies filled my TV screen, admittedly, not as much as they have in the past, I couldn't find a single channel showing the movies I used to watch with mom and dad, mostly dad, as a kid.  No one was showing The Dirty Dozen (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), PT 109 (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), or any others that were watched on a regular basis as a kid. I ended up watching American Sniper (2015). 

I then hit YouTube and binge watched episodes of Shift Fire with Israel Wright and Cameron Fath.  Those guys are awesome! The channel in their words, is an "exploration and appreciation of military culture"! I have been following them for over a year or so but somehow missed some videos. I was catching up. Somehow, I had forgotten they had a podcast too.  During one of the videos, I had noticed that Israel was wearing a t-shirt that got my attention.  Mind you, during this time period I'm editing my story which is about suicide. The t-shirt said, "Do Not Give in to the War Within: End Veteran Suicide".

I could see there was some kind of logo on the sleeve of the shirt, but I couldn't see what it said.  Given my curiosity, I hit the internet!  I found a knock-off of the shirt Israel was wearing but continued until I found the exact one. It led me to a site called Til Valhalla Project. They make plaques for fallen servicemen and deliver them anonymously to recipients through a network of volunteers.  They had a whole bunch of t-shirts with messages that spoke to me, so I ordered a few shirts.

In another Shift Fire video, Israel wore another shirt that said "Mission 22" on it. I had no idea what that meant but when I was on the website of the Til Valhalla Project, they mentioned Mission 22.  So off I went to learn about them too. I had no idea that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Mission 22 provides other resources as well to veterans and their families.

To think, I learned all of this from a t-shirt!  I couldn't leave Cameron in the cold and made sure to order a shirt from his apparel company, KITGOD as he is a veteran too. 

When I was a senior in high school all the military recruiters made themselves known.  Especially, considering I was a girl who had taken two years of electronics.  That was considered untraditional back then and I must have been a flipping unicorn to them. I did spend a lot of time hanging out with my friend Trish who was in ROTC, so that may have played a part since I helped her hanging the flag every morning.

My dad served in the military (Air Force) and actually told me to not consider that as a path. He told me not to do it.  I'm not sure why. It may have been because I would be the first person on either side of the family to go to college.  Plenty of family members had served - Air Force, Navy, and Army.

After learning about the organizations from a shirt Israel wore, I have to admit it hit me. I know the dark place. I know what the battle within is like.  I must admit a part of me wanted to share my story, but I have been writing my story for years, sharing it in pieces. I do have to admit that a part of me wanted to say 'thank-you' but can't really put into words why.

I think buying the shirts and when I start wearing them will take care of the feeling of saying 'thank-you' but I'll be doing it in a different form. I am really glad that my binge watching of Israel and Cam led me down this path. Things came full circle. 

Today's music treat is Within Temptation's "Stand My Ground".  Crank the volume on this one and enjoy.

Rock on!