Monday, September 28, 2009
How is it that today I did not awaken to ruin?
How is it that I was spared?
Why are my teeth not broken?
Why did no men pull my baby from my arms and hack her apart with machetes?
It wasn't my turn.
Today I got Kyle Lamb's book, "Green Eyes & Black Rifles, Warriors Guide to the Combat Carbine."
If you carry long arms into harm's way, this book is for you. Some of his rifle drills can be found on Youtube, the Highsmith drill being one of my favorites. I stole it and incorporated it into my training, and it blew me away.
Kyle did a great job with his book. It's a great all-around reference.
Sometimes I am good. I do what's right. I work out hard, eat right, get plenty of sleep.
Right now I won't work out or slow down my drinking and half the time I won't sleep.
I go back and forth from one end of the see-saw to the other.
I cain't find the balance.
To the consternation of the woman who loves me.
Sometimes I get tired of wading through shit for a living.
I just ain't suited for nothing else.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I got nothing to say.
We watched "Mountain Patrol" last night. It is about these men in Tibet who run an anti-poaching patrol in the highlands.
It seems that in the early 1990's poachers decimated the Tibetan antelope population, knocking it from around a million down to a few thousand animals. So this group of men saddle up and go out looking for the poachers.
Anyway, the place is desolate and beautiful and it is kind of like trying to live on the moon.
It ain't hospitable.
Add men with rifles who are hard cases.
Add pulmonary edema from high altitude sickness.
Add bad weather.
Take away food.
Take away fuel.
Take away roads.
Add quicksand, just for good measure.
It was breathtaking the way these men died, and near every one of them did before the movie ended.
Their deaths stay with me.
Yesterday my buddy called to tell me about a shooting. This guy we used to work with moved to another city a few years ago and last week he got in a real hairy one.
He come out alright.
Two nights ago I could not sleep. The dog got me up at two AM and that were it. So I laid there and remodeled the house. Put in new windows, redid the entire bathroom- moved the commode, put in a new tub, laid down octagonal tile on the floor and subway tiled the walls. Redid the kitchen and laundry room. New washer and dryer, water heater, fridge. New floors throughout.
After that I ran through all the murders I've had a piece of. I think I remembered most of them.
It was more than I thought.
I am at war with myself of late and will ask nor give no quarter.
It is to the death.
Monday, September 21, 2009
And the winner is....
1. Cormac McCarthy for The Border Trilogy
2. Terrence Malick for Days of Heaven and Badlands
3. Jack Gilbert for The Great Fires
5. Tom Waits for everything
6. Jared Diamond for Guns, Germs, and Steel
7. John McPhee for Basin and Range
8. Ernest Hemmingway for all of it he put down.
9. Flannery O'Connor for The Violent Bear it Away
10. John Kennedy Toole for A Confederacy of Dunces
11. Sogyal Rinpoche for The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and Overcoming Spiritual Materialism.
12. Johannes Vermeer for thirty-six paintings.
13. Joel and Ethan Coen for The Big Lebowski and Fargo
14. Werner Herzog complete filmography
15. Thomas Moore
16. Bill Moyers
17. Joseph Campbell for The Hero With A Thousand Faces
18. Jack Kornfield for After The Ecstasy , The Laundry
19. David Gordon Green for George Washington and All The Real Girls
20. Linda Manz for Days of Heaven
Girl on bridge with Bunnyman
This world is strange enough as it is.
You do not need to try to make it any more outlandish.
My neighbor likes to run his grinder in the driveway at all hours. It sounds like Pakistani street dentistry going on day and night.
"Rinse and spit."
Today this man came in, he was in a state. He wanted to report a crime. His child had been taken out of the home by Child Protective Services.
Six years ago.
They had no reason.
Well, okay, they thought he was sexually abusing her.
But it wasn't like they had any proof.
This guy, I wasn't going to make him happy.
Sometimes I am just the person some people need to meet.
I can disabuse them of their misconceptions.
I am in a foul mood of late and cantankerous and mean and abusive and that is toward myself, so forgive me if I got nothing to make you feel better right now.
I got a low pressure system moving in fast from the southeast.
You'd better seek high ground and batten down the hatches.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Whiskey for My Horses
I don't know that I got what I needed out in the desert, but I may have done. I am all trained up on my off-hand side now and can shoot near as good with it as I can with my strong side.
If I get shot in my good hand I can yet slay thee.
I can now reliably draw from concealment and put a head shot in a three by five inch box at seven yards in just under a second and a half. With my off hand.
You never know when that might come in handy.
What that desert time does also is gives me all the macho bullshit male bonding I can stand. I am a sucker for it, like I am for most things. A bunch of men with hard hearts and cold eyes who eat up life with both hands. Men who work hard and play hard. Men who have taken up the tools of killing to defend the weak and bring bad men to justice.
Men who know what it takes to get the job done in a hard world. Who saddle up and take on all comers.
Who will take your measure and push in all their chips to call.
It is too simple a thing to call them good.
Being home is a sweet balm to my knottedup soul. My reward on this earth is the good woman who opens the door and welcomes me inside with a kiss and an embrace. For which I would give my all.
She knows enough to let me go play guns, go fight and scrap. She lets me brood and pace. I know she loves the strength in me and the weakness as well. She knows I am her man.
Despite my many faults, she loves me without reservation.
I wish I knew how to proceed with my kid. I guess all the important mistakes have already been made, but it's hard to grasp that it isn't anything left I can do for her.
She's on her own path. Like she always has been, I suppose.
Fly off or smash on the rocks below, one.
I have got a hard knot of grief and damnation trapped in my chest. I cleaned the house from stem to stern, which soothes me, and I got a pork loin brining in garlic and apricot nectar which I aim to cook up for dinner, which will both soothe and feed me, and impress the wife as well.
The rewards of which are worth seeking.
This life will break us all.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Into The Desert
I am gone for my annual pilgrimage to Front Sight.
Four days in the desert, making lots of holes in pieces of paper.
I am going with a bunch of cops, including my brother, The Brave One.
He's tougher and meaner than me, but I can outshoot him.
(on most days...)
You wouldn't want to come, I'm pretty sure, but it gets it done for me.
See you when I get back. Take care of yourselves.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Happy Birthday, The Brave One
Happy Birthday, Bro.
This is my younger brother. It's his birthday tomorrow, so I baked him a cake and put his favorite symbol on it.
It's the helmet of a Spartan, with crossed swords.
It should say "Molon Labe", which means "come and take them." Plutarch's response to the Persian Army's demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons.
See "Come and get it!" and "Over my dead body."
My brother is among the toughest human beings that I have ever come across.
He makes me feel like a girl.
My brother is a former United States Marine, and is currently a Sergeant working patrol and running one of the substations in what passes for the rough part of our county. He has been on SWAT for over ten years, and held every position in it.
He has dedicated his life to the art of combat. He runs the firearms instruction for almost everyone in the county. He developed the academy firearms program and teaches there. He teaches patrol rifle, handgun, defensive tactics, advanced officer safety, building clearing, force-on-force options, baton, arrest and control techniques, etc. He oversees the Field Training program at the department. He trains outside agencies like Parks and Beaches, local police departments, etc.
He is on the fight team at a local mixed martial arts gym and fights in the police olympics and other cop related contests, battle of the badge, etc.
In his spare time, he does triathlons and paddleboards and mountain bikes and goes camping or sailing or whitewater rafting with his sweet family.
He is happily married and a wonderful father and a steadfast friend.
He is fearless.
He is incredibly, incredibly strong.
He is the most honest and fairminded and easy-going man I know.
No better friend, no worse enemy.
I love my brother to the very core of my being. We came up together and to this day we are good friends.
He is my hero.
Happy Birthday, Bro.
I love you.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Zen and The Art of O'Keefe & Merritt Stoves
So the Grillevator has been acting funky lately. That's what O&M calls their broiler. It has a lever you can move left and right that raises or lowers the shelf under the burner so you can get more or less charred flesh.
The oven and the broiler have a safety valve installed that shuts off the gas if something bad happens. The little solenoid pops and you get down on your hands and knees, open the bottom drawer, and push a little red button, which lets the gas flow again and you are cooking with gas, so to speak.
The safety valve kept popping and would not disengage. For the duck breasts the other night I sat on a stool with my thumb pressed on the button for eight minutes to get the skin crispy under the big blue flames.
So today I pulled the stove out, shut off the gas, and started taking shit apart. While I was as it I took off everything I could, the griddle and the stove top and the grease traps and wiped down and scrubbed and elbow greased the big white thang until she was glistening and gleaming. I stripped out the safety valve and took her apart and jiggled everything and knocked off corrosion and carefully put it all back together.
This beautiful stove is made like a Model T Ford. Every time it has acted up on me I've been able to open her up, stare at her a while, take something off, adjust something else, clean it up, put it back together, and damn if it hasn't worked.
The stove may be the single best feature of the house, which is really saying something.
While I write this, the woman is singing to herself as smoke pours from her sewing machine. She is working it. The floor of the studio is covered with scraps of fabric.
Something is afoot.
How I got so absurdly lucky is a constant source of bafflement for me.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Corner of Bitterwater and Strife
The wild woman of Borneo showed up after a week long absence. She grabbed a bag of clothes, some makeup, and skeedaddled. Afraid we'd call her probation officer, maybe.
She looked good.
She hugged us both. Even me.
We are having left over duck in orange chipotle sauce and some goat cheese bruchettas and a green salad with lemon anchovy garlic dressing. Some olives, a head of roasted garlic, a bottle of wine.
The little woman made us a peach crisp for after.
It's cooling on the windowsill.
I am all twisted up. Happy, mournful, put-out, mellow. Running hot and cold like weather that don't know how to make up its mind.
I aim to stupefy myself with good food and wine, see if I cain't pin that woman up against something.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Regard All Dharmas as Dreams
What I keep seeing is Wicke's beautiful Aikido. He had such grace and beauty.
I didn't really know him. I think the intimacy of the dojo makes me feel like I knew him better than I did. I admired him a great deal, that much is true. He was quiet and kind of self-contained, but there was a light in him. Anyone could see it. Feel it.
He made me feel welcome. He was open and gracious and kind. A good man.
I will miss him. If you knew him, you'd miss him too.
He made this world a richer place.
You think that you have abandoned hope, but then something happens, you realize you could only feel as bad as you do if you had secretly been hoping for something better.
Hope keeps asserting itself.
Despite instructions to the contrary.
I am in a bitter mood.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Use Electric Light
Today I was driving back from the prison, through the barren wasteland of Highway 46 and off to my left it was this double handful of crows rising in a great circle over the desert scrub. Maybe fifty black rags climbing into the white sky. To the right there was two great black crows perched upon the top rung of a telephone pole, shoulder to shoulder, one leaning against the other, as if tenderly.
And for a disconcertingly long moment I could look down upon the desert from where those crows flew and upon my blackened back felt the searing heat of the sun and I felt I knew who was with me, above and below and could hear their thoughts in the hard small vault of my skull. I was bone hungry and the baked dirt below me held the hard beating heart of something that drove me near mad.
It was a too fleeting to register that completely. It was a taste of steel in my throat that was gone before I could name it.
but it thrilled me.
Do not ask to be spared.
take what you've got coming and ask for more.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Today this lady was explaining to me that when she threatened to chop up the kid's cat and mail it to the Child Protection Services caseworker in pieces she wasn't saying that because she was off her meds and crazy, she said it because she was fucking pissed off.
But she admitted that it did sound a little crazy.
She was trying to get my help in recovering her child who had been taken from her eight years ago by the dad.
I asked her what dad was gonna say about it when I called him, she goes "Well, he's gonna say I'm crazy and I'm addicted to meth and I'm dangerous and a liar and a thief."
Me: "And is any of that true?"
Her: "Hell no it ain't! I mean, I had some problems the last few years, but I take my meds like I'm supposed to now, and I been clean from meth for a while and I never meant to stab him for real, I was just trying to, you know, make him jump a little bit. And it was Nelson, my other boyfriend that stole his car not me I was just gettin' a ride in it when the cops pulled me over for no reason and they pinned it on me like they always do those assholes."
Me: "And the cat thing?"
Her: "Fuck them bitches anyway. They take my kid from me and they want me to send her her fucking kitty cat because she won't stop whining? I shoulda chopped it up like I said I was gonna."
Yeah, it's funny. It sucks ass, too.
I listened to her for almost an hour. The litany of wrongs, the insults and injustices, the pain and fear and stupidity. Her life is just one fucked up thing after the next and it is never going to be any different and in a few years she will be dead from an overdose or her new husband will beat her to death or she'll smash her car into a tree or she'll just live forever getting madder and shittier and meaner and sadder and more pathetic and terrrible.
But you know what. I let her go until she ran out of steam and she thanked me and said that she knew I couldn't do nothing for her but it was the first time she ever felt like she got the chance to say her piece.
So that happened.
I gotta go out to the prison tomorrow, see if this guy wants to give up the arms dealer he was moving guns for. Probably a waste of time, but you never know. Lots of guys you'd think would tell you to go pound sand will talk to you in prison, just for something interesting to do for a couple of hours.
It can be a nice change of pace. They could get a soda or something out of it.
I was at this class last week, talking to these other detectives from all over the country, specialists in child murders, sex trafficking, stranger abductions.
I thought I had bad shit in my head.
I don't do a lot of murders. I always am working one or two, but just one or two at a time, and all year long I might get four or five. I don't kick down doors anymore hardly at all. I don't do hero stuff. I plod along and answer phones and threaten and beg and lie and coerce and ask questions and ask questions and ask questions and write down what everyone says and write reports and search warrants and go find people. Bring them to court or take them to jail or whatever. I try to make people do the right thing the right way. I listen to lies and work my way to a little bit better lie that is often as close to the truth as I can get to.
My job can be mind-numbingly boring and petty and stupid. Just like yours.
What I tend to talk about is a very highly edited part of the job. The part that interests me. The part that resonates inside like a dark bell ringing.
The stuff I pay a price for.
But that ain't what it's like all the time. It's mostly just a job.
So don't get the wrong idea.
My wife has run off to the city. She has gotten a Thai massage and eaten a big bowl of noodles and bought a truck full of scrap fabric and thrownaway stuff to make art with.
I hope she comes back.
I am a riddle to myself. Why can I figure everybody else out in two fucking seconds but be utterly unable to unfuck my own operating system?
You tell me.