Category Archives: firemen

The One About Fireworks

The last time I went to a fireworks show was in the days before Facebook. It was just a small gathering on the lawn …in front of the Washington Memorial. I don’t want to get too into it because it was not a happy experience. It was hot and crowded and I was arm-twisted into attending. Add full dark with strangers everywhere then throw in explosions and a very, very abusive spouse sharing my blanket and it was a recipe for the perfect panic attack.

So, you know what? I don’t go to fireworks show any more. If I hear them out in the country, we’ll sit on the porch and watch from a distance. If I hear them in the neighborhood, I’ll call the cops because I’m that asshole. Your happy-fun explosive times are not worth the fire damage you could cause to my house or the damage to my calm.

Man, the older I get, the more awesome I become.

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TL;DR: Keep fireworks where they belong and you won’t bother people. Also, you kids get off my lawn. Anything less would be a Rook mistake.

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The One About Anticipation and Anxiety

It’s a weird and jagged line I walk between anticipating something exciting and anxiety about  it. I don’t worry so much that I’ll say something that brands me an idiot among geniuses, that’s a given. And I’m OK with that because I’ll turn it around. I don’t worry that someone’s not going to like me any more. I’ve lived enough to know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t have a lukewarm personality and  probably don’t care for those that do. Casper Milktoast would not be my bestie.

The fade from anticipation to anxiety starts when I pack my suitcase.

We were blue-collar poor growing up. My father was a fireman and my mother stayed home. That meant my clothes consisted of hand me downs from my cousins (one was a female and rail thin and the other was male that outweighed me bout about 50 pounds), garage sales or shift stores, and for special occasions Sears. As a kid that suited me just fine.

In high school I discovered that I didn’t have the gene or eye necessary to put an outfit together. I lied to myself that I didn’t care.

Then there was the Army. I didn’t have to worry about what I wore. But it fed into the idea that I didn’t know how to dress myself like an adult type person.

Back to the anticipation feeding into anxiety. As I’m packing for my trip on Thursday (it’s Sunday now) I realize that I’ve been buying pieces here and there all year for this conference. There will be people from everywhere – all walks of life and incomes. And I don’t want to fit in or stick out. What’s that about?

It’s ridiculous that I am so excited to be heading to Denver for Sirens, but freaking out about something so banal as clothes.Especially since I know that it doesn’t matter how much I’ve spent on everything, I’m probably just going to wear jeans and a t-shirt. It’s what makes me comfortable.

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The One About My Dad

 

A day late and a dollar short for Father’s Day, but it’s always hard.

I was a bona fide daddy’s girl growing up. There was a  good five years difference between me and my sister, and then another two between me and my littlest brother. That gave me seven years of being the son my dad wanted. And another 5 before the brother got interesting.

By 12, my father had taught me how to hunt and field dress a deer, reload a shotgun because relocating the raccoons didn’t work out, use a couple of hand tools to put a swing set together, how to lose with grace and courage, and how to cuss the son of bitch out who cheated. He taught me to love and to help people. He’d taught me to drive a stick shift, a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, from one end of the pasture to the other while he shot quail from the passenger side window.

He taught me that life goes on when he pulled my brother out of the cattle tank and couldn’t save him.

He taught me that it was OK to cry.

He taught me that, if you’re able, you work. No excuses. No bullshit. And if you’re not, you contribute in other ways and that there will always be people (like him) to help you.

He was a fireman that, on his off days, remodeled houses. He taught me how to put up a ceiling fan and put in light fixtures. He taught me twice why it’s important to turn off the circuit breaker. (Sorry, Daddy, I am still terrified of electrocuting myself.)

He taught me the importance of a tension breaking joke. (LOUD HORN: “Don’t shoot! I’ll marry the whole damn family!) He taught me patience and the desire to do it right the first time – not to be perfect – but just so you can rest later. His favorite thing to say was, “Give your laziest man your hardest job and he’ll find the easiest way to do it.” He thought he was lazy.

He taught me to stand up for others. And to always give someone the chance to do the right thing. And then he taught me to pick my battles. He taught me the courage of not saying anything and letting people make their own mistakes.

Even if he did let me marry one of them.

Before he walked me down the aisle, he turned and said, “It’s not too late. Tell me right now that you don’t want to do this and I’ll drive you anywhere you want to go.”Because that’s the kind of guy he was.

He was.

My dad didn’t live to see my son. Though on his 60th birthday, I gave him a framed picture of my first sonogram. That was July. By December, he was gone.

So, help someone out if you can today. Or maybe cuss them. Do it for my dad.

TL;DR: I miss my dad. 644142_4181073278109_853771843_n