Morality.

FootprintsI get it; your morals, your standards,
how you would lay on the tracks
for the things that you stand for.
But I want that respect,
I refuse to be slandered.

I want the uppity,
holier than thou
way of thinking abandoned.

Agree to disagree? I wish,
but you look down upon my disbelief.
Accept who I am,
for my beliefs I will keep.

We may walk different paths,
but the destination’s concrete,
At the end of the road,
tattered shoes on our feet.
These paths that we’re walking?
I told you they’d meet.

For nobody knows,
when it comes to the “soul.”
I feel like for most,
this “soul” is a show.

Hop off that high horse,
walk a little while.
Put on my shoes and start walking,
you have exactly one mile.


Brandon-Brandon Fromm is my eldest son. He is a talented wordsmith, lyricist and story teller. After years of begging him to write something for me, he finally relented. He hosts the Facebook group “Pencil to Paper” where he and his like-minded friends share some of their writing. Brandon and I disagree daily, but we both respect each others’ intelligence and we have our best conversations after 2 a.m. 

Safety first.

MovingTruck

I spend the majority of my time driving down the highway and byways of our beautiful county. I have seen almost everything imaginable and unimaginable. I have also seen a lot I wish I hadn’t. I have logged more than 2 million miles in my professional career. I have been very lucky. Lucky in that I have never had the misfortune of being involved in a major accident. I have been rear ended a few times and had a few minor fender benders that could have turned out much worse. Thank God none were pinned to me or my driving record.

Because of my clean driving record I have received bonuses over the years for 1.5 million safe miles behind the wheel. I would have received my 2 million mile bonus had I not quit and taken some time off last year. More than the bonuses for safe driving, I take pride in the fact I have never been in a major accident or caused one while driving professionally.

The men who trained me gave so much good advice and instructions that have stuck with me through the years. These guys were veteran drivers with many, many years of experience. I put their wisdom to work every time I climb into the driver’s seat.

I was lucky to learn how to drive in the dead of winter. My first trip out with my first train was the first week of January with snow and ice in the forecast. It gave me confidence knowing the guy was right there beside me to guide me and share his knowledge. (A huge shout out to “Popeye” and “Billy.”)

I have been through every major city east of the Mississippi and several west of it. I’ve been in every state east of the Mississippi and at least ten on the other side. I have drove through metropolitan areas with 16 lanes of traffic. I have been down roads barely wide enough for my truck, let alone anyone coming the other direction. I have been down a few gravel roads that made me wonder if I was going to make it to my destination or not.

No matter what type of road or where it was I have had the displeasure of seeing traffic accidents and other horrible traffic related events. I witnessed the aftermath of a suicide jumper from an overpass in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The distraught woman jumped into one of the busiest stretches of interstate in North American. Also in Toronto, I dodged actual body parts from a wreck before emergency vehicles arrived on the scene. In Nashville, Tennessee I witnessed a van hydroplane directly in front of me and slam the center wall. After the accident I couldn’t determine if the victim was a man or women. In Indianapolis, Indiana I watched a car traveling the opposite directed slam the center wall at a high rate of speed. The male driver was ejected from the vehicle into the traffic lanes on the other side. I have had to come to terms with a fellow company driver who was killed in a horrific crash. Fire consumed his entire body, leaving nothing but a boot. I could go on and on about the tragedies I have witnessed.

The highways are not a safe place to be on a daily basis. Between the speed junkies, hell bent on getting to their destinations without any regard for their fellow commuters or themselves, worn out truck drivers being pushed beyond their limits by their dispatchers to the drivers that drive too slow for the flow of traffic (yes, not moving with the flow of traffic is very dangerous) the road is a not a safe place to be.

I read an article that claimed there are about 2 million trucks on America’s highways. That means at least 2 millions drivers as well. I know that we, as a group of hard working individuals shrank by at least one this week. I know because I sat for over an hour in a traffic back up in Ohio due to a horrific accident that took the life of a fellow professional driver. Sigh.

No matter how many of us there are, no matter if we knew this driver personally or not, it hurts. We have a casual brotherhood between us. Of course there are the exceptions to the rule that don’t care about anything except getting down the road uninterrupted or care about the loss. Even I was guilty about being upset about the delay until I found out the reason.

As I pulled up to the scene it really hit home. This was the loss of a human life. It was the loss of a “brother”, father, son, uncle or nephew. It was the loss of a friend. It made me wonder what he was thinking about just minutes before it happened. Was he able to tell his family he loved them? It made me think about the last time I told my own family I loved them.

Driving past the accident scene brought so many questions to mind about my own life. It is never easy to witness a scene like that. It sure makes it hard to climb up the steps of my truck every day. Some say truck driving is the most dangerous profession. A friend said by the amount of miles I drive up and down the highways the odds are definitely against me and all other drivers.

Even if you don’t drive professionally, please be careful on the road. Put down your phone and pay attention. Wait to put on makeup. Always keep your eyes on the road, not on your iPod or laptop. Buy the audiobook. If you don’t want to be responsible behind the wheel, I hope you have told all your family you love them because you never think it is your time until it is too late.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

A hundred dollars.

100

As Julie stated in what I consider my awesome bio, I’ve driven professionally for quite some time—actually going on 16 years. At one point I was dedicated on a route that took me from Mount Vernon, Indiana to a small town in Ontario, Canada. Cobourg is a small town located about 60 miles east of Toronto, Ontario. This “run” as we in the business call our trips, was a great run. The pay was very good and the fact I was dedicated made it comparable to what most people do who do not drive across the country for a profession. In other words it was like normal shift work; a 9 to 5 if you will.

I spent almost 10 years doing this run. Being the type of person I am, I loved the same ole, same ole. I knew exactly where I would be and what time I would be there. I could keep my life at home in motion without too much deviation from a schedule. I even managed to help with my son’s little league experience when he was young. Although if you ask him or most kids who have their parents actually involved, I’m not sure that was a plus—but that’s another story for another day.

As the years went on though, things started to wear on my mind. Anyone who has spent that much time doing the exact same thing over and over can understand what I’m saying. It got to where I would swear to anyone who would listen that I began seeing myself going the opposite direction. No, I wasn’t losing my mind. Well, that’s debatable.

I was getting bored. The beloved same ole, same ole became the same old blankety blank bulls**t. What didn’t help, was at this same time personally I was going through one of the relationships that I wrote about in my first post sent to Julie. (By the way, I must say, Julie is a wonderful person, and I’m not sure, but she may have started something with all this writing.) Going through the bad, ending a relationship and feeling the pressure of becoming a grandfather, again, and getting very, very, very, bored with my run, I went to my company and begged to be taken off and allowed to explore other avenues and lanes that they were working.

Of course with their bottom-line being the foremost important thing in mind, they said absolutely no. And I can’t blame them. My two loads a week meant a substantial amount of money and trouble for them to replace if I was removed from the contract. So with all this pressure and stress I actually quit. I cleaned out my truck, put all my belongings in my pick-up and left. I had saved enough cash so I could just take a break— take a much needed, 4 month break from the normal go to work, do the responsible thing, daily grind.

To this day and for the rest of my life I will swear it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. During those four months I began to improve myself in many ways. I started eating normal, healthy meals every day. I walked up to 4 miles a day—every day. I found a social life I had left behind many years before. I just became the person I had always wanted to be except (there’s always an exception, right?) for my mentality towards humanity.

Dealing with jerks and assholes on the road over the years had eroded my faith in man to near extinction. I have always thought of myself as a compassionate person, sometimes too sensitive. But because of my years of experience dealing with jerks and assholes on the road, I had become calloused to mankind.

I have always considered myself a compassionate person. I am sometimes sensitive to a fault, but nothing like I was about to become.

As I neared four months off the road, I figured it was time to try to find some gainful employment. But thanks to some close friends who have wonderful relatives, I secured a job with a bus company. I could have changed career paths, but I chose to drive. I love to drive. My “office” view changes minute-to-minute, day-to-day.

An event while with this company opened my eyes again to the humanity that is mankind—what is good with mankind.

The company I worked for was basically public transportation. I would take anybody, anywhere. The company was mainly government subsidized, but it was also a for profit company. The company contracted with several group homes for the handicapped and the places where these wonderful residents go to work every day.

I urge anyone to spend time with these very special people—make time to do so—volunteer, take a job with them or just go visit them at their homes or jobs. It will enlighten your life.

Although I was technically just their driver, I was also their friend, caregiver, security and a symbol of normalcy and regularity for them. And they were my friends too. I have hundreds of funny and sad stories I could tell, but this one will stay with me forever. This story changed me for the better.

One Friday afternoon I was on my route picking up clients (I always hated that term for them) from work, taking them home for the day. Normally quiet “Suzy” was bouncing around the bus with excitement. She was always cordial, saying “Hi” and “How was your day”, but today she was happier than a 6 year old walking thru the gates at Disney World.

I would guess Suzy to be in her mid-twenties, no physical disabilities, but was probably mentally equivalent to a 10-12 year old. I casually asked Suzy what all the excitement was about.

She told me today, Friday, was her payday and I jokingly asked her if she would be buying my dinner tonight. She very jovially stated that this week her paycheck was all hers. She continued to tell me how she had been saving for months to get $100 so she could start her very first checking account.

Suzy and her friends in these group homes go to work every day just like you and me, yet they make pennies on the dollar compared to our paychecks. Her joy at just $100 unnerved me. It made me think about my own checking account I have had since I was 16. It made me think about all the money I have spent over the years on useless, unnecessary things. Her simple joy about $100 helped me realize what is really important in my own life.

Through my own life I have had epic highs and heartbreaking lows. I have worried about things I could never change and other things that don’t ever pertain to me. Yet, I have always made an above average salary and been able to buy whatever I wanted (within reason.) I have put too much emphasis on the material things in life—we all have. The problems and joys of life should not be based on the almighty dollar, or lack of.

How many times have we all cried, worried and been distraught over just the material things (or lack of) in our lives? How many times have we been excited, elated, because we finally saved a simple $100 over many months? Perspective. Sigh.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

 

Open road.

NewYork

There is a certain intimacy between two people when they ride in a truck together for four days straight. Long conversations were had, confessions were made, secrets were shared and there were also some great political debates. We are both smart enough to appreciate our differences. And talking about the past—our failures, successes, heartbreak, love and everything else in between felt good.

I have always claimed to be an open book. And that is not inaccurate. But I don’t volunteer a lot of what I consider personal info about myself. If asked about something directly, I will always tell the truth, just maybe not the entire story. There has always been a part of me that has stayed hidden.

Now, I feel the wall coming down. I haven’t revealed everything in my soul, but I now feel safe if I want to. Life slowed down for four days, although the days seem to have flown by. I actually had time to think. My phone didn’t ring much, I wasn’t at my overflowing desk, and I had no interruptions. It made me realize there are a lot of things I want to say, when the time is right.

I have decisions to make. Some of them are pretty big. I have always trusted my gut. Sometimes this has been an asset and sometimes not. My instinct has sometimes let me down. In recent years I have tried to make decisions with no emotion. But right now, I think I should let my heart back into the equation.

I have stopped worrying about the future. I know it’s cliché, but whatever is meant to be will find a way. I have to force myself to remember I am only responsible for my own happiness—everybody else is on their own. Of course seeing the people I care about happy, makes me happy, but they need to make their own happiness. I also have to be reminded that when the people I love are hurting, I have to let them find their own way. I have to let them make their own decisions, even if I think they are wrong.

Sometimes screwed up circumstances bring people closer together. Dealing with problems with a partner sometimes makes them easier to handle. No one should have to face hard times alone, unless they want to. A cure for a seemingly impossible situation can be solved, or at least made easier, with the support of someone who cares. Having a sounding board is always a good thing too.

I’m ready to get back in the truck again, but my day job will probably prevent it for at least a few weeks. But my laundry is done and my bag is repacked, and who knows, maybe I might get back on the road again sooner than expected, it all depends on the decisions I make.

A wall comes down. True and pure love between friends is the best kind.
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Days.

Some days I am not quite myself. Some days I crawl into self-doubt and don’t come out. Some days I think about every mistake I made in the past. Some days I drink too much wine. Some days I miss people I shouldn’t. Some days I don’t do one single good thing. Some days I smoke too much. Some days I say hurtful things to the people I care about the most. Some days I forget to be thankful for all the things I have.

Other days I kick ass. Other days everything goes right. Other days I still believe in fairy tales. Other days I still believe something amazing is about to happen. Other days I still think he thinks about me too. Other days I think about all the goals I have achieved. Other days I remember how to use my brain. Other days I remember the past and smile. Other days I think about the future and smile too. Other days my hair is perfect and my high heels don’t hurt my feet.

Today I think about home. Today I think about my dull headache from too much wine last night. Today I am hypnotized by the noise in the office. Today my hair isn’t perfect, but my feet don’t hurt so bad. Today I kicked a little ass and I may kick some more. Today I don’t care if anybody is thinking about me except one person. Today I think that money doesn’t matter, except the lack of it. Today I think that I can just be me, and that is okay.
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And today, I write.

Yesterday I made the commitment to write every single day. Then I woke up this morning, looked at my website stats and realized someone had been reading a lot of stuff this morning at about 12:36 a.m. (And of course, that is OK.) So then I started reading my stuff again to kickstart my memory and basically to just see how embarrassed I should be over all the stupid shit I have posted from time to time. But then I thought about that for a minute or two. Sure, there is some not so great stuff on here, and there is also a lot of stuff that is super personal, and there is also some really great stuff too. But what’s the common denominator? They are all me—the good, the bad and the ugly. My life has been a journey and I am still a work in progress. But I won’t ever be a fake. I own my mistakes, I still cry for some lost loves and I still stand by my mantra of “not unhappy.” I know it’s a cliché, but “everything happens for a reason.” And then I write about it.

Of course I am still in the habit of overthinking everything, but maybe this time I will just go with the flow. Yeah, right. I have started thinking about the novel I burnt and all those words that are just gone now. I have got to dig out my old journals to get a grip on just how much I have grown in the last ten years. Although I am and always will be a realist, I still believe something amazing is about to happen—every single day. I’m still working on my lack of patience.

I need to spend some quality time in the welding shop with my favorite toy, the plasma cutter. There is something about having my work clothes on, getting dirty and creating some killer art out of steel that is good for my soul. A friend has said that the welding shop is just my illusion of actually doing some hard work, but I disagree. Just because I sit behind a desk for sometimes 12+ hours, doesn’t mean I don’t work hard—I just work smart.

Along with my writing every day commitment, I am also going to try to write about the stuff I don’t want to write about. As much as everything I write has been true, it sometimes hasn’t been complete. There is still a piece of me that I don’t share. It’s hard to write about the stuff that isn’t so great. I need to not hold back, write everything. And I shall try to do that.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ―Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

This quote jumped out at me this morning, and I’m going with it.
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Alone?

Silhouette

Feeling alone even in a crowded room. What exactly does that mean? I often wonder just how many people feel the same way?

Most of the time it doesn’t matter who I’m with, but to feel that way amongst the supposed most important person in my life, it really does make me think. At one time there was such a connection with this person that no one could sever that link.

Now after all these years, it’s difficult for me to even want to feel it. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be allowed to make any impression on me at all. It’s hard for me to admit. And I know this phrase is hated by many‑“it is what it is,” but “it is what it is.”

Thru my life I’ve been in and out of relationships. Most were started with the mindset that there was no way it was ever going to last—a mutual feeling shared by myself and the other person involved. But some were started with forever in mind. Some of the most thoughts and memories I revisit are of the relationships I thought would really last—the ones I really wanted to last. Isn’t that what most single/its complicated people do? For whatever reason each one ran their respected courses and ended in a heap of sadness and pain. I could go into each one, but then again I really do not want to relive the mistakes and stupidity of why they ended.

If I was being honest with myself I probably would admit half were started under stressful situations and obviously those types of beginnings never last. Rushing and starting in the middle is a stupid way to begin a healthy relationship.

The other half being started the so-called correct way were, just not meant to be. This is more than likely a cop-out excuse. Hell, I don’t know, maybe I’m just too set in my ways and I’m supposed to be single and alone. This brings me back to my original point—feeling alone even in a crowded room. It’s a cliche’, but it’s also a true definitive statement.

Most of the time I get lost in my own head. It seems over the years I believe I’m the smartest person in the room—obviously I’m not. But as hard as I try to realize that, I always come to the same conclusion.

Maybe it’s because other people bore me. Maybe it’s because other people are too set in their ways and set with their ideas and just tend to not make sense to me. Either way it’s a problem for me; I understand that. Even with that understanding, I don’t really care. Being in the “it’s complicated” relationship I’m in with that one person I once thought I couldn’t be separated from, I’m still bored. Things still don’t make sense to me. And the worst thing is I still don’t care. This causes me to get lost in my own head and stay there. I’m not sure my own head is a healthy place to be, but I go there most times and force myself to stay.

I often wonder if it’s a safe place to be. But saying that, I could be asking myself if my mind is dangerous. It’s a constant struggle to separate the good thoughts from the bad ones. And let’s face it, the bad thoughts are the ones that tend to torture us, right? The battle of good over evil; evil over good; but even the bad or evil thoughts are easier for me to deal with than the actual person sitting across the room from me. That’s not how it’s supposed to be, is it? No need to answer, I know the answer and I know exactly what happens.

I hope no one else is like this. But I would be pretty naive to think I’m the only one who thinks this way or puts themselves into this internal seclusion.

Feeling alone even in a crowded room. This is my definition and my struggle.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

Thinking out loud.

Writer3a_writing_BnWThis space has been neglected lately, and I have no good excuse. Last night I was talking to a dear friend after reading a great short story he had written and sent me. I was going on and on about how he should start blogging (and he should). But then I realized I hadn’t written anything of substance in a long, long time.

I’ve been uninspired, whiney, lazy and kind of in a transition period. I’m not unhappy, just ungrounded right now. I’m hoping a road trip will fix some of this, but I’m responsible for the rest.

I have forgotten lately what is really important—me. I pointed aforementioned friend to this post I wrote back in January and I guess I needed to reread it. It is spot on. I don’t think I have ever written anything more true about myself, and I have written a lot of sappy, sentimental, sad and happy stuff about me—both good and bad.

I had forgotten that I want to be writer when I grow up. Now is the time to grow up. I have the time, I have the inspiration and I have no excuses.

I also talked to him about great writing prompts. I have been ignoring mine. I have said a hundred times, “I should write about this,” and then never do. That changes today. I am making the commitment to write something every single day. They won’t all be masterpieces, but they will be words on a page, and that is progress. I even bought an actual journal and new pen for those times when “old school” is the inspiration.

We also talked about edits. I know he has a lot of great stuff he has written over the years and I am anxious/excited to read and edit for him. Sometimes I think I am a better editor than writer. I had a great teacher. My mom was my editor for 15+ years, and she was (and still is) brutal. I may have to dig out my AP style book. I wonder what box that is packed away in?

My friend may not realize what he has started. He may have a best seller buried in his piles of words. And I’m hoping he lets me post some of his stories here.  He also produces some killer poetry I would love to publish here too. Like I mentioned before, I haven’t written anything of substance here in a very long time and I am totally going to use him and our conversations as writing prompts from time to time. (Hope he doesn’t mind.) I’m glad he has trusted me with his work and I hope I don’t let him down.

Today I’m going to pay attention to my surroundings, laugh, maybe cry, learn something new and get the rest of my bag packed for an epic road trip. What are you going to write about today?
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Holding a ghost.

Sometimes a song hits me hard, and this one just did.

So I’m not supposed to love you no more
I guess I’m not supposed to care
I held you so close, now I’m holding a ghost
How can love just disappear?
And where does it go when it’s over?
I know that it’s somewhere out here

Has anybody seen all my wasted love?
I’ve been down every street, no, I won’t give up
If I have to die trying to justify, that’s how it’s gonna be
Has anybody seen all my wasted love?

It’s late, I’m drunk and I’m running on empty tonight
Baby, I’m chasing my shadow around
Like smoke cigarettes I inhale these regrets
I can’t change what I’ve become
There’s pain and there’s glory, but this is my story
I’m asking everyone

Has anybody seen all my wasted love?
I’ve been down every street, no, I won’t give up
If I have to die let to justify, that’s how it’s gonna be
Has anybody seen all my wasted love?

Knocking down doors and I’m pounding the pavement
Lie at your mercy, will somebody save me? Save me?

Has anybody seen all my wasted love?
I’ve been down every street, no, I won’t give up
If I have to die let me testify, that’s how it’s gonna be
Has anybody seen all my wasted love?

Bring it back to me, all my wasted love.