Firsts and Hopefully Lasts?

Firsts and Hopefully Lasts?

2015 has seen a lot of firsts – some of which I hope not to repeat.

Moving on: After a long and painful process, I decided to move half way across the country on my own. No net included.

Longest Rode Trip: I made the trip twice. The first time was with my cat along for the ride – where I experienced for the first ever: food poisoning. Jackson, MS is not a destination I wish to repeat — ever. It was a doomed overnight stay from the moment I left the interstate until I dragged my sick body, cat in tow, into the car the following afternoon. When people say they feel like dying, they are not kidding. I would have been happy if someone had offered to put me down.

2 Apartments: I moved into my new apartment in March (my first apartment in over 20 years – I think that counts as a first), but in early April there was a fire in my building. It was a couple hours later that I learned the fire was in the apartment above mine. While I had no fire or smoke damage, my apartment was flooded. I ended up moving to another unit a couple of weeks later.
I fly – a lot so I was surprised when I look back over the last few months that a lot of these first are flight related. And that’s saying something considering how many years I’ve been flying.
My first trip to Santa Anna – business related, but fun none-the-less. This led me to grab my first cache in California (check another item off the bucket list).

Best Use of Duct Tape: In August on one of the trips to Santa Anna, I noticed that the wing had been duct tapped. I know duct tap fixes every things, but really? The wing of a plane? –> duct-tape-wing
Best Ride: On one of my solo trips to the west coast Avis didn’t have a lot in stock. They gave me a Jeep. Talk about fun! I even managed to find time to take off the front top of the Jeep and go cruising on the shore, at sunset, and watch planes land at the airport nearby. jeep-santaanna
Most Puzzling: When I fly, I prefer window seats. I like to watch the earth below – or clouds, depending on the weather. So it is with great surprise when I get on a plane and am presented with a window seat that has no window., I’m not joking. It was the only window seat (near as I could tell) that had no window.
windowless-aircraft <– Well you know that makes my list of firsts

 

 

 

 

Awards for the Worst, Best, Better, and Unusual go to:

WORST: 20 minutes after take off from Santa Anna to Dallas (a 3.5 flight), the passenger in the middle seat (I was in the window seat), was extremely ill. He obviously didn’t know what a sick bag was and so he used the pocket seat in front of him. The flight attendant was wonderful in trying to fix the mess and even went so far as to let the aisle passenger and me take turns standing in the back gallery for some relief. American Airlines has some great personnel.

BEST: I flew a lot this year and as a result, for the first time ever I made Platinum. I like it and hope I can keep this status for a while.
Austin Airport (which I can never seem to leave easily) went down for 3 weeks in the flood of October this year. Water not only took out the tower, but all the associated equipment. This led to Houston and San Antonio using a backup radar to work the Austin flights.

BETTER: A week after the floods, my MD–80 plane was swapped out for a 767 to move more people to and from the Dallas airport. Can you say WOW? It was not only on my bucket list of planes to fly, but I also got upgraded to first class. Let’s just say it is (minus military planes), the best flight I’ve ever experienced. The 757 and the 787 are still on my bucket list. (Cross your fingers for 2016 bucket list.)
americanairline-767
Most UNUSUAL: Stranded in the Dallas Airport. This is a fail on American’s part (my personal opinion). They canceled several flights into Austin earlier that day because the backup radar went down and only long distance flights that were in route could land. They landed via line of sight – kinda glad I wasn’t on those flights. The fail was, I believe American knew they were going to cancel the flight 4 hours prior to 1am when they actually canceled the flight. The end result of this trip would have been a 2 day delay for another flight with no luggage (because they checked the bags on flight attempt #1); however, I started talking to a few people. Within an hour, I had secured a car for a one way trip with 4 strangers to Austin. It took me 13 hours to get home. For those of you who don’t think this is a a big deal – Dallas is usually a 35 minute flight or a 3.5 hour car ride from Austin.

Most Scenic: After all that flight excitement, one of my favorite firsts occur right here in Austin. A place called graffiti park.

graffitipark
I would like to say this ended my lists of firsts, but it hasn’t. I’m sure I forgot a few, but some of my favorite firsts:
I am enjoying my first freedom in years. My first year in a new city. New friends and new places to visit – locally and afar.

Last minute category, courtesy of United:
Most Concerning: As I was editing this post another flight first occurred on my take off from Houston to Hartford. We started down the run way and just as the pilot gained speed to thrust he slammed on the brakes. He then announced as we slowed down that he had just aborted the flight. Needless to say, a few of us were concerned. His concern when he went to take off was that we did not have enough fuel for the flight. I’m just going to end with that cause, well I got nuthin.

The Beginning of the End

2015 is nearing the end. Little bells of doom are popping up with each step toward Christmas. The death knell is being heralded by every store front Santa.

This year seems different from the rest. It is unseasonably warm across the country, no sign of snow, no jack frost nipping at your nose. No, this year we are in shorts and laying about at the beach — in December.

This holiday season is filled with a lot of mixed emotions. It was a year of firsts for me from beginning to end — stops and starts.

I’ve worked hard at not becoming melancholy in the last couple of months and have mostly succeeded. The warm weather has helped greatly in not feeling like Christmas. So Christmas pasts are doing just that — staying in the past.

I have kept busy and enjoyed the parties and social scene that I have created for myself. A last minute invite has me going to Connecticut for Christmas proper. I think a white Christmas would be fun, but not sure mother nature has that in store for us. 60? in New England in December?

Well, I was looking for warmer climes so I guess the universe is cooperating on a big scale no matter where I go to ring in the last of 2015.

I haven’t spent Christmas in New England since before my grandmother passed away. The last time we were there I was not even a teen. The walls of snow were taller than me. We mucked around is snow boots and parkas. My grandmother’s house was too warm.

We put together puzzles, ate too much food, and had the required family meltdown in the middle of the trip.

I cried all the way home from the moment we left my grandmother’s driveway until we entered our home in south Jersey hours later.

I know this trip will be vastly different in every aspect, but I am looking forward to every minute of it. From the plane ride out there, to visiting family, to remincing over past Christmases.

Who knows, maybe Santa will grant me my one gift of a White Christmas — or a heat wave from Mister Heat Miser.

Anyway way you shake it, it shall be a grand way to spend Christmas before my seeds sprout in the new year!

I’ve felt on the verge of everything and nothing for all of 2015 that finally, 2016 holds promises of seeds ready to bloom. I can’t wait to see what kinds of flowers and colors await me.

I hope that you and yours get everything your heart desires and Santa is good to you. Merry Christmas!

 

My Day in Infamy

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” ~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt   

These words ring true for all veterans of all services from 1941 to this day. For me, this date will always be a sacred date — not only because it plunged our country into World War II (which my grandfather and father served in) where so many military and civilians sacrificed their lives, but because 46 years later (to the day) I entered  the United States Air Force.

I didn’t chose that date to enlist, it just was the way the courses of events occurred.

I am grateful that my enlistment date is December 7th. I somehow feel more connected to the men and women who served and sacrificed so much for our country.

There are few days of the year that I hold dear to my heart and December 7th is one of them. My grandmother lost a brother in the US Army Air Corp. I don’t know the whole story other that he was on a bomber and none of the crew were ever found.

My grandfather (my mom’s father) served in the Army and my father (served in the Merchant Marines (part of the coast guard). They were both blessed to come home — for that I am grateful.

I’m always touched when I see the sacrifice of the service members on that day. The grainy black and white photos, static recordings of announcers breaking into a football game to announce the tragedy, the slow still movies of the destruction of one of our bases by what was (at the time) a formidable air force.

I watch the dedications and the photos of the memorial we placed at the site of this tragedy. I feel drawn to it, like a moth to a light. It is something I wish to see in person one day. To touch the water, to breath in the air, to be for one brief moment part of the military past.

During one of the spots on tv, I watched older former service men stand on a deck saluting those that did not make it that day. One particular sailor caught my attention. His hand shook slightly while he saluted. I wondered where he was that day. Was he sleeping as were so many? Was he on duty? The old sailors faded into a new modern more colorful guard that stood behind them. I was hard pressed not to cry along with the sailors of 1941.

I love our military traditions — the respect we feel to honor the past and to those who sacrificed their lives.

The speech that Roosevelt gave before congress has become part of the American fabric, as was the attack itself. It lasted 7 minutes and like his opening line, his last was just as memorable:

“…But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. . .”

I shall never forget.

 

Capturing Images on Paper

Capturing Images on Paper

I do it a lot, not always for work. The kind I enjoy the most are my short shorts or these posts or (when I can stay focused long enough) my novel.

I have put my novel to the side because my attention span is that of a gnat. Ok, maybe a little longer, like the length of a short short (my friends call them poems (debatable in my opinion)). On a good day I can make it through a post without stopping, but a novel? Not hardly.

The day dreams of my alter ego taking on a life of her own have been drowned out by health problems (i.e., short attention span) to medication to fix said health issues (i.e., no creative thoughts) to well, life in general.

It’s not like I don’t want to finish my novel. I’m proud and happy that I am writing. Posts and short shorts are a really good thing; I just need to figure out how to transition that process back to my novel.

I love the written word. It can be beautiful and lyrical. Putting Pen to Paper is becoming a lost art.

English: Draft letter of 1669 from Sir Robert ...

English: Draft letter of 1669 from Sir Robert Long to Sir George Downing, instructing that Downing pay Sir Denny Ashburnham 6 pounds interest on 200 pounds lent. Signed by Long. Hand written. 86 mm x 240 mm. Courtesy of the British Museum, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is through pen and paper that I can craft my feelings for my characters. Unlike the spoke word, I can take my time to find the right words, the right set of words to convey exactly what I feel, what my thoughts are — the meaning of all of it.

Writers will always be, but pen to paper writers are almost obsolete. I love technology and the way I can easily move thoughts around and quickly reconstruct my imagination, but somehow, the art of the imagination is less shiny.

Pen and paper make it crisp and eloquent — like a good paperback book on a chilly day in front of a roaring fireplace. The weight of a good fountain pen between finger tips. The way the pen glides softly against the crisp lined paper. The whiteness disappearing beneath solid black lines forming letters. The letters wrap around the sentences and images rise to the surface.

The crafting seems much more intimate when the brain moves the hand to stroke the words on paper, sliding from left to right rhythmically. A dance of the internal illusion to form a picture for the world.

It is easier to carry a pen and notebook to cafes or restaurants or docks by the lake. It is not dependent on power or lack thereof. The only requirement is ink in the pen and a blank page. Details seem more crisp and come layered with complexity when you have one chance to get it right.

The satisfaction of your fingers — hand — hurting after a while makes it seem more accomplished — something achieved at the end of the day. Like a good hard bike ride that leaves you out of breath and slightly sore (but in that good sore way).