Survive

Is it enough? Is it the goal of life?

The struggle, every day. To look back and say I did. To give up and finally admit that the day is gone and sleep is all that is left. 

Maybe if I could start every day at 4:30, maybe if I got a job and promotions, maybe if I stop making things, I could do more. 

Is it admirable? Will I earn a medal? Will the president shake my hand? What will my son think of me when he must do it on his own? 

Once in a rare while, a chance encounter with a friend from back-when, they ask me how I’ve been. I laugh because it’s all I have. I laugh because I did. I laugh because the truth is an ugly, unnecessary splash of dirty ditch water from a rude motorist. 

Bullets, bombs, and vehicle collisions. Drunk driving, drunk brawls, and drunk falls. An overdose reveals the light with a tour into darkness never before known. Thank god to have awakened to another day and curse him for it in the same breath. 

If I’m alive now, is that evidence that I have done it well enough so far? Is it acceptable?

What bliss it must be. To think it is guaranteed. As if surrounded every day by an invincible shield. To think it could not be threatened. 

The threat I must face. The soft pluck of violin to bring my mind gently to the day is often still not enough to comfort. A decade ago, it would have been Slayer or Hed(pe) at 90 dB. Distract my body with the more immediate concern of insecticide inhaled ceremoniously. 

Life isn’t the only thing. Tragedy, challenges, travels, and tribulations. I wondered then as I wonder now. Is it enough? To simply survive? 

Visible Wounds from Invisible Battles

“Where do you go when you’re inside your mind? Is it some place deep and hard to find? 

Where do you look for sweet relief? Is it somewhere quiet, where you can breathe? 

When you can’t turn it off to sleep, do you count secrets you can’t keep? 

When we met, our hearts rejoiced in resounding palpitations. Embracing that freedom, our fears nearly escaped us. 

Misguided minds and greed are upon us. But we’ll still have each other and marijuanas. 😁

So, when you’re feeling broken I hope you’ll see, the perfect man inside & out you are to me. ”

–My Fantastic Girlfriend

“Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”

–Ezra Taft Benson

Run For Your Life

Despite any not so great Jarhead habits I may still carry, falling back on military foundations mostly serve me well. 

We’ve been struggling for a while. Finances, intimacy, and every little and large life crisis that came our way. Health issues have plagued us for nearly as long as we’ve been together. 

Although her thyroid levels are known to be off, there are a myriad of symptoms that show up from time to time that we haven’t really pinned down. We’ve adjusted our lives so many times trying to relieve this issue or that. I’m not accustomed to having health issues, so my pinched nerve was the final red flag. As we were moving out, I found my Brooks and it occurred to me that I had completely abandoned running for the entire time we lived in that house. 

It sounds contradictory, but expending energy can actually give you more energy. There’s this sluggish feeling that consumes your muscles and mind. It’s not like an ache or pain that you can pinpoint. It’s just a blah kind of feeling. I always found that even a couple light miles would shake off whatever funk or mental block I might be in. 

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of sweating out the stress. Running gets all the fluids pumping, digestion unstuck, and a good amount of whatever toxins you might enjoy putting into your body out.

Other times, the runner’s high is what does the trick. It’s really just meditation with a high energy spend. And scenery. The downside is that it might take up to 3 miles of running to get there and many new runners don’t get there at all. 

One major benefit to running, and you can hardly believe it until you experience it, is mental stamina. There’s a certain feeling of achievement that comes with running. When your day is crappy and you can’t get anything right, at least you can say you completed a run and did that much for yourself. Running is all mental. Even I don’t always feel like taking that first step, especially in the cold rain, but once I do my body quickly finds its pace, my mind clears, and it’s just one foot in front of the other. 

Whatever effect is most desired of running, the fact is that your body will benefit from all of these. You will feel less stressed, more focused, and have more energy. Kim found that regular running increased her thyroid activity and she is now on a lower dose. The earth shattering anxiety attacks are more manageable when they do occur. Even the soreness of sitting all day is reduced by regular exercise. 

We enjoyed our first week since December of actually exceeding our financial goals. Even though we had to push out a 7 day work week to do it, it gave us the padding we need for the first of the month. I quit while I was ahead of my nicotine fiend, cut it off at two packs. Little victories add up, and even when you feel like you are losing every battle you can still conquer a 30 min sweat. 

Celebrate the Throws

Overcoming the plateau

You try so hard just to get something going up, “…and the whole world conspires to pull it back to the ground.”

It has been two weeks since the kids’ week off. The weather has been relatively crappy, but already I feel the aching desire to throw clubs. With noses to the grindstone, it’s been all work, no play for our household. We also failed to meet our daily quotas 5 out of 6 days this week. 

If anything, I just needed some inspiration. I perused some videos and gave a TEDx clip a watch. I absolutely love what Paul Miller says about personal development. Nobody is born with the innate talent to juggle, just as nobody is born knowing how to live a balanced life. We break things down into smaller, more achievable pieces. That one very simple piece, like learning to juggle a single ball, is not insignificant. 

Celebrate the Throws. Because it took some measurable, achievable amount of skill to do that one thing. Anyone with children understands that every small thing had to be learned at some point. 

Embrace the drops. Because the only way to prevent dropping things is non-participation. Try to investigate the result, learn from it, and modify your approach. It’s easy to focus on one thing. Bringing a second focus into the mix requires a certain way of thinking. You can’t take shortcuts here, because you will limit your ability to work up to more. Discipline yourself to learn the right way, and you retain your ability to grow. Do not reinforce obstacles that do not put you on the path to where you want to go. 

The third step is a freebie. After you’ve learned to do the first two things, the rest is just a continuation. Just keep doing it over and over. Keep things going; it’s good enough for some people and they tell others they can do it. But, jugglers desire to repeat the process. Throw. Drop. Celebrate. Embrace. 

Work through plateaus. (Coming from my experience) There will be dry spells for achievements. Whether you’ve overlooked a preliminary skill or simply haven’t given yourself the time to perfect what you know, you can’t let plateaus stop you from trying to learn. Know that learning happens along the way, even when you are not hitting milestones. 

Uber EV Ambassador

Where are all the J plugs??

🎵 “I’m going to Electric Avenue.” ☝🔌

ChadeMo-Tesla, ChadeMo-Tesla, ChadeMo-Tesla…and ONE count it, ONE J plug station. After circling the block a few times, I gave up. Fortunately, I was the only Volt driver so instead of squeezing alongside the curb, I got to drive on the sidewalk!

Ah! And what else to put the cherry on the top other than parking next to the 8th generation Arcimoto! I first saw this awesome machine years ago when it was little more than a roll cage and a dream. I can hardly tell you how inspiring it is to see the dream alive and so close to actually being on the road! 

I was in school and so motivated about electric vehicles, but alas there were no really relevant courses to take. I started off on an electric motorcycle project that is disappointingly parked in storage still far from drivable. My renewable energy program, for whatever reason, wasn’t all that hip to the revolution that had, at the time, just started to ramp up. I did a project with a guy, Ryan, who ended up getting an internship for Arcimoto. I was jealous. So, so jealous. I had applied to a few other vehicle tech startups as well as Daimler, and got no offers. Good on Ryan, though, he deserved it.

Another driver, Chris, was so damn proud that his Leaf got center stage. I was just relieved to see someone so proud of showing off their car with a little evidence of the same kind of mistake I just made on Monday. I guess half our business comes from places that people don’t want to drive for a reason. So, it’s to be expected. Ugh, freaking Hawthorne Boulevard gets even the best of us. 

Here’s the real kick in the pants. I’m admiring the other Arcimoto here, and I see a blast from the past. One of my professors, Dr. Petrovic, brought a Senior to talk about continuing the work on the battery pack that Ryan started. 

It’s good to know that people care. My school was nice and small, and his classes were the smallest. I liked him from the start and ended up taking every class he taught. Most of my colleagues hated taking his class, because every term he had cooked up some kooky new teaching method. I rocked it and took on every bit of electrochemical knowledge he could dish out. 

Honestly, as much as I enjoyed university, I’m pretty embarrassed about dropping out. I was so close, a lot of people assumed I graduated and simply couldn’t make it to the ceremony. I feel like a total loser revealing the truth, and I’m still learning to stomach it. Had it been anyone else from school, I might have turned the other way and hid in my car. 

Dr. Petrovic has been wondering what happened to me. It’s not like the professors are allowed to dig into your file to find a number or address. I hated Linked In from the moment I tried to use it, and also closed the only door my professors could knock on. I mean, I’m just part of the other 25% that doesn’t shake the Dean’s hand over a piece of paper when they leave. Life was a dream for a few years, then I came back to the working world. Well, he tells me he’s not going to let me call it a day on my education. Maybe he can hook me up with a cool internship and concoct some solution to my financial stalling. I try to remember that the best things in the world take time. We can’t all be Elon Musk and break out with a production vehicle in a few short years. However, I will go ahead and finish this blog by ogling the Tesla Model X and try to remember why these things used to inspire me. Enjoy! 

Lamborghini style back doors! So cool, unless you have to pick up drunk people that aren’t expecting the door to come at them and up! Mary did demonstrate that the double articulated door only needs about a foot of clearance…and that the sensors do not always keep the door from slowly, gingerly opening into you if you stand too close! 

I have to wonder, of the $100k or so that this ride costs, how much is tied up in this giant touch screen!? That thing makes a clipboard look small! What the hell do you need this thing to be so big for? 

Yes, 7 seats! Quite the urban assault vehicle! Except whoever gets the very back two seats better be small. 

Huge touch screen, and all the utility of the vehicle is wasted on jump seats. They do fold down, I guess, but I’d be worried about scratching up that nice, reflective mylar trim. Still, it’s a beauty of a ride!

That’s about all for today. Hope you enjoyed the pics! 

Drawings

Digging up parts of myself

So, I’ve been trying to apply to some veteran programs in the effort to better my life situation. I cannot, for the life of me, find this apparent page 2 of my DD214. It’s the critical one that should state my separation status as Honorable, hence proving my eligibility for said programs. I went through all my filling cabinets, my safe, and pretty much the entire house. Only three possible locations remain: a box of art and photos, a travel trunk in storage, or some records department at Camp Pendleton, CA.

I thought I might have stashed it in a photo frame of other military stuff. At one point in time, I used to have an “I Love Me Wall” where things like degrees, letters of commendation, and my official letter of separation were displayed. 

Well, I checked off this box and found no photos at all. Just some drawings from years ago. I don’t recall much of what’s inside, and most of that time frame has been forced out of the foreground of my mind. I almost don’t want to open it. 

Okay, I’m going to take 5 and then we’ll depart. . .

Oh man, I get it now. I don’t know why it took me so long to see why my instructor gave me this object to draw or why I was so attached to it. If I were my instructor looking for an object that represented me, I probably would have chosen it, too. 

This is where I discovered my love of negative charcoal drawing. I found this method really grounded me to the true way to let the art come through me rather than think about it. It’s like digging for fossils, slowly and carefully brushing away a little bit at a time to discover what’s beneath. 

Ah! Textures! I love textures! And they are so neatly displayed. I have a complex over textures, but I don’t know I’m ready to open those wounds. Moving on. 

Hmm. That’s odd. Was I so emotional over the rest of my drawings to have thrown them away? Well, maybe because I needed that door to stay closed. No good digging up a grave, I guess. I’m happy with these few, I hope you’ve enjoyed them as well! 

Smoke ’em if ya got ’em

Always something

It’s been a long time. I’ve discovered such unique, eclectic sounds to attach myself to. Like taste buds changing, I thought my ears would never want to be battered again by the wall of sound. The screaming. Vile, poisonous words shredding my vocal cords. Through the eyes of who I am now, I don’t know why I was so attached. I had almost every single album. Baby’s momma took them and the iPod they were backed up on. I scraped the bumper sticker off my truck before I sold it and thought that was the last of it. I thought I finally grew out of it. 

It was late on a Saturday night and still dismally quiet for driving. Closer played on the radio, and though I still believe it was his worst and most overplayed song, I found my lips forming the words. That was it. I had to listen to more. I just had to. 

I didn’t have anywhere to go to listen. I don’t know anyone at all that could put up with more than a minute. So, I found an empty parking lot and proceeded to thrash my eardrums via thrashing the speakers. I listened to half of The Fragile and a few select tracks from Further Down the Spiral. Finally, the cops came to inform me that I was not allowed to occupy public space at that hour of the morning. 

Joe Camel, his smug snout sticking out proudly as he happily takes both your money and health in exchange for… I still don’t know. I have been craving it. Why? I worked so hard to quit so many times. When I finally did, I did so knowing it was over. I still distinctly remember putting the last one out, so happy and fulfilled that my mind had finally reached the conclusion that cigarettes are gross. 

I scolded myself even as I wrapped my fingers around the pack to smack it into the palm of my hand. By time I was pulling the gold foil out, I just didn’t care. I just took a turn a wee bit too tight onto possibly the narrowest and busiest street in Portland, scraping the side and ending in a crinkle where there ought to be a smart, crisp contour. I’m supposed to be showing my car off on Wednesday as part of the launching of Uber EV. Now, I look like a schmuck that doesn’t take care of his things. Despite a service I could barely afford and a new set of shoes after the potholes claimed the right front tire, I am apparently not done paying out for repairs. I just didn’t care about my well being. 

I know I’m not doing myself any favors. I know I can’t bring myself to care. I know that of any vice, this is the one that Kim will be least accepting of. What I don’t know is what to do from here. What can I do? I guess I’ll go have a cigarette and maybe when I’m done I will at least not feel so miserable.