Mistakes of the past.

BrokeHeartThis week has been full of epic highs and epic lows. I don’t want to write about the highs, they just make me really sad now. But the mistakes of my past need to be addressed.

This week my character was questioned because of my past. I was judged and dismissed without any input or explanation from me. Sure, my past is full of being arrested, bad marriages, bad decisions, and me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of which I own. I’m not proud of it, but they are mine and mine alone. But my past also has many arrests that led to dismissed charges and vindication, some epic love stories, and lots of other great things. And even as bad as some of the things in my past are, what I was confronted with was not entirely accurate. I don’t like being dismissed without being able to defend myself. If you are gonna judge me, at least get the entire truth before you make a decision.

I said recently, “it’s amazing how some people will question every good thing you do, but believe any bad thing they hear about you.” This week proved it.

I have fought my own inner demons for years. Sometimes I won, and sometimes they won. There were times when I drank too much and forgot what was important in life. And sometimes my only excuse is my own stupidity. There are times when my truth is harder to believe than any fiction a great author could come up with. Number 78 of “My 100” is “I am definitely a better person than I was ten years ago.” And that is true. It’s also true, that some of the leftover baggage has spilled over until just a few years ago. But you know what, I have avidly tried to pay my penance for past mistakes. I pay every single day. I will continue to pay. I’m fine with that. I make mistakes on a daily basis and there will never be enough days to make right some of my wrongs. But I will never quit trying.

I always seem to forget that everyone is not like me. I am nonjudgemental, I love unconditionally, and I never give two shakes about past mistakes someone else has made. I have proved this over and over. I don’t care what has happened in your life before I met you. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care about prison time, shady business practices, divorces that lasted decades, etc. I care about what I see when I look into your eyes. I thought I could see the heart that way. Evidently I was wrong.

I take offense to the uninformed people who try to define me by my mistakes. Who’s to say a mistake of 15 years ago still doesn’t follow them around too? The same people who judge me are judging you too. People who don’t matter will always look for the worst in me (and you too). And people don’t forget, and neither do I.

I am not perfect and don’t claim to be, but no one else is either. Every day starts with a prayer of renewal, thanks, and strength to keep going. I will never apologize for who I am, but I will continue to try to make past wrongs right. My mistakes are not the only part of me. And two weeks is not enough time to know everything about me, both good and bad. You never let me explain my faith or my reasons for it.

I will gladly answer any questions about my past honestly. Am I mortified to have to talk about it? Yes. Am I embarrassed? Of course. Am I scared of your reaction? Most definitely. But I can’t change it. Those who know me well, know everything about my past and still love me. This is why my circle of friends is small, but very tight. My past is also the reason I guard my heart fiercely. I don’t let just anybody in, probably never will. This past week has proven how right I have been to guard it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to my life. Looks like I am headed back to the big city. Gonna swallow my pride and ask The Post to take me back. They have been great to me in the past and when I left April 24th they told me I always had a place there. So Monday morning I will finally buy another car, pack it up and head to St. Louis. Tuesday morning I will go to my meeting and find out if I’m staying or leaving the city.

I’m trying to trust the journey right now and not make too many plans. When I came “home” in April I was saying the same thing. I trusted that God would show me what path to take when I was presented with an option. So far, St. Louis seems to be the option. Although, Chicago is running a close second. Maybe the farther away the better. But back in April, I was confident He was calling me home to Carmi, now I don’t think I was listening well. Or maybe His plans for me have changed.

Seems like the only positive constant in my life has been my job. I may suck at life, but I am awesome at what I do. Ask anybody. I need to go back to 70+ hour work weeks so I don’t have to think, feel or have regrets. I can’t play the coulda, woulda, shoulda game anymore. But it doesn’t make me any less sad it just reminds me how absolutely broke my heart is. Time won’t heal this, but a guitar would help.
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After midnight.

I have realized I do my best writing after midnight. Well, maybe not my best writing, but my most honest writing. And since right now my sleep patterns are kind of crazy and it’s a little after 1 a.m. I will write.

I have caught myself thinking too much lately. I’ve been thinking about someone. I’m really pissed off at myself for even letting this happen. I’m not anti-dating, anti-boy or anti-anything. It’s just that I made the conscious decision almost 5 years ago to date like a man. This means, no strings, no expectations, no long term, no getting used to anybody, no toothbrush at his house, no commitment, no nothing.

Call me callous, but this has worked relatively well for me for the past five years. Then last year I let my guard down temporarily and got burnt horribly. I knew better, and my heart payed the price.

Don’t get my wrong, I am far from perfect girlfriend material. Click here to read a post from back in January where I explain some of this. I think part of my problem is I have been in self-imposed isolation for too long. I have gotten too used to being on my own. I love the perfect solitude, but right now all I can think about is not being alone and it is freaking me out. And, I have turned down 4 guys in the last month.

I am so sick of all my friends telling me just to do what makes me happy. Wanna know what makes me happy? Brandon and Luc, beautiful flowers, unlimited Mountain Dew and Twinkies, loud music, water (ocean or lake), medium rare steak, my phone ringing, Adelitas Way and Cracker Barrel salad—just to name a few.

It’s hard for me to admit, but thinking about him still gives me butterflies. I can’t shake it. I can’t figure out if this a good thing or a bad thing. Worse yet, is I just wrote it here and he’ll probably read it at some point. I haven’t figured out how far I can put my guard down, still be completely honest, but not scare him off and not lose myself in the process. Does that even make sense?

For now, I will remain calm, listen more than talk (which is easy, because I love the sound of his voice), pray a situation works itself out sooner rather than later and try to carry on with business as usual. Right now business as usual is getting back to making money, figuring out exactly where I want to live and then doing something about it. The kicker is doing all this without thinking about him. Fat chance.

I have said, “it is what it is” way too many times lately. And although it is correct, I want to never have a reason to say it again. I respect the situation, but I don’t like it. I even understand it, but I don’t like it. I want him to be happy and I want to help with that. I want to take care of him—and him take care of me. I want dull Saturday nights with him curled up on the couch, eating pizza and watching the big screen. I want Sunday afternoon ballgames at Busch Stadium with him. I wanna get started spoiling my grand daughter (she’ll be here August 22). I want him to realize his happiness is important.

I want him to choose me and let the rest work itself out. Isn’t it about time for something amazing to happen?
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Déjà vu.

Manipulation is a valuable tool,
Whether opposed to the guards, the kings or the fool.
Kicking the legs under the stool? That would be cruel.
Now if you’re the stool, that’s really not cool.
Now understand, no one likes to be kicked.
Also remember, no one likes to be tricked.
The kicker, the trickster?
Who is really the prick?
Don’t think of an answer, it has to be quick.
Well to be honest, its the one made of sticks.
Always doing nothing,
Or on the wrong end of a swift kick,
On rare occasions losing a limb to a pair of steel toes (size 6?)
Regardless, you’re doing nothing.
You have one job, to be under someone,
Fuck being the stool, it’s back to a stick.
At least as the stick, I’m nor the prick or the fool.
Good luck bending me, now who is manipulating who?
I’m not giving up, just providing Déjà vu.


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. 

Almost over, over.

Seven minutes shy of a life.
Time that matters most.
Will they weap his passing?
Will He welcome his soul?
Nothing left to say,
nothing left to do.,
hear the reaper knockin.
The saying is dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’.
Guilty of his deeds,
no way to change his story,
beggin’ for forgiveness.
What good is it doing?
Nothing saves a dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’
The chains burden every step,
small price to pay for a lost soul.
Beating blackened heart soon to cease,
dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’.
Two minutes shy of a life,
strapped in for a short ride.
The needle rips a hole,
grains of time faded to black.
Nothing left but the darkness,
nothing left but the tingles,
finding the light.
No sorrow due for this dead man walkin’,
dead man walkin’,
dead man wakin’.
Justice is served,
dead man,
dead man.


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.

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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