The grind has appeared to have started.
I’ve been cranking out a lot of copy and graphic material at a much faster speed than I’m used to, but not nearly as quickly as will be necessary. I’m not really sweating it.
There are times in life where you realize that the only way through something is to honestly go right through it.
In 1990, I decided that joining the US Army on active duty would be a good idea. I’d initially enlisted in the Reserves because of a girl. I thought that if I went the military route, I would immediately have housing, pay, and we could get a head start on our life of love. It sounded good in my head.
My thrash metal garage band wasn’t going anywhere.
Fast forward a few years, and after too many nights cleaning a chicken fryer, I realized I needed to try something new. I talked to the professional bullshitter at the recruitment office.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“I want to travel, drink, get laid repeatedly, and walk out with a college degree.”
“You want Germany,” he answered. And so I did. I read all sorts of things about it. I got hyped.
I got a call.
“You need to come back down to MEPS (the processing station) for new orders. We’ve canceled your overseas station.”
I was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, not to spoil at least four other good stories. I knew about them because I was obsessed at the time with Leonard B. Scott and the Charlie Mike novels. Sure, only one had the title, but I was reading them all.
“You’re not good enough to be in the 82d Airborne,” my father told me. And I had no desire to jump from a perfectly good airplane.
Guess precisely how many fucks the Army gave?
Hint: Less than one.
That was how I ended up at US Army Parachute Training School. I was assigned to Delta Rock (D Company) unit, and they leaned in hard on you. This is where we get to the pertinent part of the story.
In Airborne School, you are not allowed to fall out of the formation. Three times and you’re expelled from the course. I only run if I’m chased. You can guess how this was going for me. I slipped back once, and the Black Hat leaned, got close, and said, “If you fall out of position again, I have to pull you out. Keep up, dammit. We need you! Blank your mind, and don’t let your body tell you what to do. You tell it what to do!”
I didn’t fall out again. I learned autopilot that day. Of course, they didn’t need me; two-thirds of our group either quit or got put out by the time I graduated.
I was deployed. Got a neat little combat patch and everything. Awesome maroon beret and the lifelong gift to despise legs. If you know, you know. More stories after 9/11. Fun to be had by everyone.
I learned to push through things that sometimes I shouldn’t. When I said I’d had five heart attacks and a stroke, I wasn’t joking or bullshitting. I had three cardiacs and then hiked the Appalachian Trail. Two more since. The stroke was the last thing, and I went in to work the next day. I am not saying that was a brilliant move on my part, just that it was what happened. Half of my face drooped, and I was drooling out of it. I had a hard time talking to anyone on the phone that day. No one caught on. I did get work done, but nothing on the level I was used to, which frustrated me.
It wasn’t until my boss got a call to make sure I’d gotten on the bus to come home that they noticed anything.
“Did he get on the bus okay? Is he alright?”
“Uh, yes. He’s fine.”
“Are you sure? He had a stroke last night. I tried to make him stay home, but he insisted on coming to work.”
That did not go over well. I got a rightfully deserved chewing and three days off.
My point in this being that sometimes you don’t know when it’s okay to stop. Other times, you stop when you need to be grinding with the best of them instead of playing the wuss card. Are you dead yet? But did it kill you?
Embrace the suck.
With the writing, I have so much to get done. So many novels, stories, all the stuff that I should have been working on many moons ago. I write nothing that lacks a piece of history I have lived or witnessed firsthand. The stack of things yet to write is so damned high.
Right now, I have switched to a glass of Mountain Dew Melon with Ocean Vodka.
Time to write on the novel before I sleep.