42 Years.

18 Aug

Yesterday I got on a Black Hawk helicopter piloted by what very well might have been the oldest pilot in uniform on that given day. It was for his final flight. After 42 years of service (!!), at age 62, he retired. He’d been in since Vietnam, had spent thousands and thousands of hours in the air. He met his wife after Vietnam and his daughter said all she’s ever known is her father as a helicopter pilot. The only reason he retired is because the Army said he had too.

I wonder if I’ve ever loved doing something so much that I would want to do it for 42 years. I can’t even begin to imagine what four decades must feel like, having not even lived through three yet. Sure, things changed to keep things interesting, and yes, flying helicopters is super bad ass and it’s probably really hard to get tired of doing something so fucking awesome, but still.

This pilot had another job, his civilian job doing something totally different from the flying he does for the National Guard, but still. To keep the uniform on for that long, to keep serving, to keep learning and training – it’s amazing to me. I’m awed and inspired.

I try to relate it to my own life, and I can’t. There’s nothing I can think of, short of rolling in a field with puppies, that I would want to do for 42 years.

I love and enjoy my job. It’s challenging. It’s fun. I get to see and do some really wonderful and amazing things. But could I do it forever?

It makes me wonder if attention spans are shorter than they used to be. I mean, why not? We’ve got the internet now. I don’t need to focus. I need to multi-task and flit back and forth and do 16 things at once because I’m got the internet, man. I wonder, when I’m 62, if I’ll know someone who’s done something, one great amazing thing, for 42 years. Better yet, I wonder if it’ll be me. I wonder if, after serving my first decade in the Army, I’ll just keep going. I like it. It’s not for everyone. It’s a special sort of crazy, but  I like it.

Is there anything you could do for 42 years?

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Yep. Still trying to figure out the difference between who I am & who I want to be.

16 Aug

It’s humid again. Big surprise there.

Andrew told me this morning that I hate summer. And he’s right. I like the idea of summer. Spring hits and I start to looking forward to sitting outside, reading a classic novel, sipping some fruity concoction, but then reality hits harder and all I can stand to do is open the door for the dogs to go outside and occasionally peek into my mostly wilted garden. I don’t want to sit outside and enjoy the weather. I don’t like sweating. I don’t like melting. I don’t like it when my legs stick to one another and, around here, that’s what summer is all about. It’s about sweating and sun-burnt grass that crunches under your feet, air so thick with humidity you can almost swim through it.

As it turns out, I fucking hate summer.

Realizations like these fascinate me. I’m astounded. How did I not know, after 26 years of life and countless days sweating it out in the sun, that I hate summer? What the hell took me so long? Why do I keep looking forward to summer? Why have I convinced myself that I like it?

It makes me wonder: Have I been so wrapped up in discovering REALLY BIG AND IMPORTANT things about myself that I’ve totally skipped over the little things that make me, me? Like my favorite color. It’s green, but I didn’t decide that until about 2 years ago. As a kid, I couldn’t tell you what my favorite color was. I didn’t have one. I liked blue and green and purple and red and so on and so forth. I don’t have a favorite food, or a favorite alcoholic beverage, or a favorite movie or song. So far, I’ve gotten to favorite color. That’s it for the favorite department! Color me undecided on everything else!

In life, I like order. I like plans and lists and schedules. Everything needs to be decided and defined. But when it comes to me, when it comes down to who I am, definitions are out. I can’t define myself. Or rather, I don’t want to. I don’t want to be this or that. I ride the line. I don’t have a favorite. I don’t want to choose. I don’t want to decide. I want to be everything and nothing, different, sometimes opposing, parts of a whole.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. There’s no rule book for life that says you must have favorites or that you have to define yourself using a 74 topic, 12-point scale. I just think it’s neat, how each time I learn something new about myself I get firmer in my belief that I’m undefinable. I’m not one thing. I’m a million things and undeniably in between on everything. I love steak, but crave vegetarianism. I proudly serve in the military, but, at the end of the day, I’m still a tree-hugging hippy. I love defining plans, but hate defining myself.

Ultimately, I guess I love little discoveries. I love learning that I don’t like eggplant or that I hate summer or that capers are one of my most favorite things to toss in a pasta dish. These little things give me a clearer picture. They don’t bring me closer to a definition (which I don’t really want, anyway), but they do help me to paint a bigger and brighter picture of who I am today.

Because it’s Friday & I’m lazy: Shit I’m thinking about

13 Aug

– I’ve been in Fayetteville, North Carolina all week. I was there for work, with Andrew. I’m glad to be back home. 

– There’s nothing but bread and two shriveled baby eggplants in the fridge.

– All my orchids are dying and I’m determined it’s because of an asshole orchid I bought at Trader Joe’s that probably had some horrible orchid disease that attacked and brutally murdered all the other orchids in the house.

– There are only 2 other orchids in the house.

– But still  DAMMIT! One of the other orchids has been around for a year now and I haven’t killed it and I’m PISSED AS HELL that some Trader Joe’s orchid that I invited into my house has killed everything.

– I have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner tonight.

– School starts in just a few weeks and I’m SUPER nervous about it for some reason. I’m ready to hit the books again, but the thought of taking three upper level classes while working full-time makes me shake a little in my flip-flops.

– Andrew and I just booked the third trip we’ll take between now and January. And that’s excluding the Ocean City trip coming up at the end of this month and the Outer Banks trip that will hopefully happen in October. I’m beyond excited.

– My tomato plants are not producing even a smidge as well as they did last year. I think the heat has stunted their production.

– In January, Andrew and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary. I’m not at all sure where the time has gone.

What’s on your mind?

Five reasons this just might have been the best weekend of summer

9 Aug

1. Laughing so hard with new friends that my abs start hurting. The internet rocks the hardest when it brings hilarious, down to Earth people into your life that you can enjoy beers with. True story. On Friday, Andrew and I dined with StaceyParadise & Co. at Legend Brewing Company, a local Richmond brewery with the best view in the city. I shit you not, after the rain drove us inside the restaurant, I seriously laughed so hard that my abs started hurting. Laughing that hard is absolutely the best way to start a great weekend.

2. Torturing the dogs with baths after they’d woken us up early by licking our toes and clicking their little dog claws on the hardwood floors. We usually wash the dogs in the bathtub. I’m not sure why. It’s a stupid plan and it always results in yelling and requires us to towel off the walls. So Saturday we took the dogs outside, sprayed them with the water hose, laughed our asses off at their sad little dog faces, lathered them up, rinsed them off and let them shake off outside. It was a success. There was much less yelling.

3. Showing off my city to an awesome old friend and her husband. Alverna came to visit last year on her way down to the beaches of North Carolina. It was a quick trip and she didn’t get a chance to see much of the city. This time around, she had a bit more time so Andrew and I played tour guide and showed off this city of ours. We drove around, hitting all sorts of historic spots and showed off our most famous cemetery, Hollywood, where 18,000 Confederate dead are buried.

4. Margaritas so delicious that I just had to have two. Tequila is a good, good, good thing.

5. Free popcorn that tasted even better because it was free. There’s this gas station Andrew and I always stop at to get gas on the way home from Army adventures that sells little boxes of fresh popcorn for 50¢. I walked up to pay for it on Sunday and the cashier told me to just take it, free of charge.

Holy Burrito of Goodness

5 Aug

Fact: I’m damn good at throwing together a pasta dish. Give me some noodles, some stewed tomatoes, some vegetables, a dash of this and that and I’ll give you a god damn masterpiece of deliciousness.

My cooking prowess occasionally extends beyond pasta into the realm of chocolate chip cookies and mashed potatoes and that’s about it. That’s where my talent ends. Yes, I can make edible dinners. I can make a hoard of dishes that are good, but few that are brilliant and that tickle the taste buds of both myself and my not very picky at all husband.

Last night, I got courageous. We had peppers and onions and half a monster zucchini sitting the fridge. I’d been wanting to make a good vegetable burrito or taco thing for weeks. In fact, I tried it a few weeks ago and ended up with a big fat fucking dud the husband said he liked, but that I could barely stomach.

Last night, I tried again. In lieu of a recipe, I relied on hope and gut instinct. I threw things into a pan, and hoped for the best. I was nervous. Scared. Anxious.

The first bite was cryptic. Too much tortilla, not enough of the burrito filling. The second bite? Divine. Perfect. Damn delicious.  

Super Wicked Awesome Vegetable Burritos – Makes 4 damn good burritos

You’ll Need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salsa
1 small tomato, diced
A few leaves of lettuce, sliced thin
Cheese
A cup or so of frozen corn
1 can black beans
4 Tortillas
Salt & Pepper
A sprinkle of parsley, fresh or dried
A sprinkle of chili powder
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, sliced thin and quartered
1 small yellow squash, sliced thin and quartered
1 small bell pepper, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the salt, pepper, chili powder, and parsley. Add the onion, zucchini, squash and bell pepper, stirring so everything gets coated in delicious flavor and cook about 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are just barely tender. Throw the corn and black beans into the pan, mix well and cook until everything is heated through with delicious goodness.

Put a tortilla on a plate. Spoon 1/4 of the vegetable mix into the center. Top with cheese first, then add lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. It should look like this:

Fold it up, and enjoy with a cold beer. Or two.

Lesson the day: Zucchini in a burrito is the best idea ever.