#84

A small monument stands roadside along my patrol route. Curious, I stopped to check it out one day a while back and read the inscription on it.

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It immediately piqued my interest on a number of levels. One of my hobbies is poking around old cemeteries. As an avid student of history, they’re some of the most interesting and amazing places to visit. Not only that, but there’s something very interesting about this particular type of cemetery. Commonly called “Potter’s Fields” they are burial places for people who died without family or were very poor. For the most part, the graves are marked with only simple numbered stones, the names of the interred are matched only with paper records somewhere in a file that often gets lost to history. Often, the grave sites are unmarked completely. I’d visited one such place in Long Island a number of years ago, but didn’t know there was one so close. I made up my mind I had to check it out.

I made a few inquiries, and one of the other officers told me “Yeah, there’s a path behind that monument, the cemetery is back up in the woods a ways. There isn’t much left of it.”

Tonight, while working alone and having completed my assigned duties for the night, I made up my mind to see if I could find it. Around 2:30am I pulled up and parked near the monument, clicked on my flashlight and headed towards the treeline, looking for an opening that might be a path.

I found it not far from where I’d parked, and my flashlight beam played up the path, immediately stopping on the glowing eyes of a barn cat. I followed the path to an opening, a mowed field about a hundred yards from where I’d parked. My flashlight searched for the cemetery, finding nothing at all. The field I stood in had been freshly cut. It appeared I’d wandered into someone’s hay field. I was in the wrong place. There was nothing that even looked like a cemetery. As I walked a little way into the field, my light rested on a wire fence a few yards away- the type commonly used to keep livestock from wandering off. Next to one of the thin metal fence posts, a squared-off object sat. A box? No. It was a rock. As I got closer, I realized I’d found it. Sort of. The simple tombstone sticking up out of the grass was the only one of its kind. Etched into its face was the number that had been assigned to a soul for the rest of eternity. 84.

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I looked closer at the ground around me and found the remnants of maybe half a dozen other stones either broken off near ground level or laying flat in the grass. #84 was the only obvious indication that there was or had been a cemetery there. I also noticed that the ground around #84 was humped and divoted in places, much the same way I’d seen on Civil War battlefields where trenches and rifle pits had been dug, but the earth had done a fairly decent job of repairing itself. Truth be told, if I hadn’t known what I was looking for at the start, I’d have probably never realized that this was a burial ground. Even though the last burial in this commoner’s cemetery was around sixty years ago, it had all but been reclaimed by the earth.

There wasn’t much else to see, so I started back through the woods, pondering the history of the place. A peaceful hillside in Rural New York isn’t such a bad place to spend eternity, unknown, unmarked, or otherwise, but I couldn’t help but wonder who #84 was. Perhaps one of the 5 WW1 veterans buried there? Even if I take the time to dig into the archives of the county and they HAPPEN to have the records corresponding to the numbers somewhere, odds are it’ll yield nothing more than a name. An entire life reduced to a number which is quickly fading away like several hundred other numbers already had.

My first reaction to such places is always a little sad. But the more I dwell on it, there’s a sort of comforting finality to it. The whole “dust to dust” thing really makes a little bit of sense. Not only that, but nature will ALWAYS take back what was hers to begin with. Even the large national memorial cemeteries will someday long into the future wither away under the elements and the treelines will creep back to where a field had been plotted, and I really like the idea of ‘returning from whence we came.’

Not only that, but I always feel a bit fortunate when I happen across a place like this. I somehow get the idea that I’m going to be one of the last people to see it as it was, before it is swallowed back by the elements. Such places are simultaneously a glimpse into the past, and a look at the future.

I got back to the car after having the daylights scared out of me by a deer that I startled along the pathway, and drove off.

I’ll probably never go back and see #84 and the collection of scattered, broken stones that are sinking back into the dirt and grass again. But I did get there, and I did get a chance to see it before the whole site is nothing more than a memory, referenced by a memorial on the side of the road that scarcely draws a glance from most who pass by. For that, I think I am fortunate…strange though that may seem.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a LITTLE chuckle out of the irony of working the graveyard shift tonight.

 

Snippets From the Gym Experience

Well. I went and did. I bought a gym membership. I got a nice little discount for working in Law Enforcement, resulting in a deal I couldn’t pass up. So…I now belong to a local gym.

The time came the other day for my first trip. The Doctor summed it up best.

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But I had to. So, I donned workout clothes, and headed off. I got there, and the place was empty. I had the entire gym to myself. Like I said, it’s a local place and rather small. The weight room is modestly sized, and has all kinds of pieces of equipment in it. Some of which I stared at with a blank look, not knowing what the hell they did or how to use them.

Just a few minutes into my routine of moving heavy things around, my trepidation started to fade. Maybe, just MAYBE this wouldn’t be so bad.

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On I went, discovering fun new ways to stretch out muscles I’d forgotten I even had. They have an ab-lounger, which makes crunches far less uncomfortable, and in a pinch will be a great place to nap if the need ever arises.

Halfway through my workout, I was gaining momentum. Picking up speed. Breaking a sweat. This was awesome, and I was going to be awesome at it. Did that full length mirror depict me as looking a bit thinner already? It did, I know it did.

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Not me- but close. I swear.

I wrapped up my workout, not wanting to overdo things on my first day. I got home and took a shower, feeling genuinely good about myself. I was on to a good thing. I took a small nap, aware that I’d be sore soon from the things I’d done at the gym, but I was ready for it.

Actually. I wasn’t ready for it. At all. By the time I woke up the next morning…

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There was literally no part of me that didn’t hurt a little bit. My stomach was killing me (Someone said there were muscles in there?) from the time I spent not napping on the ab-lounger. My arms were in a weakened state from the rower-thingy, my legs….my GOD my legs were on fire from the leg press, nothing didn’t hurt.

I didn’t go back the next day, I had no time. Good thing, because recovery was necessary. I’ll be going back tomorrow, now that I’ve had sufficient time to have my various sinews and bones knit and heal from the abuse I put them through. I’m aware that the soreness is a good thing, and that if I ever expect to gain anything from this, I need to go…and KEEP going. The problem is I know what I’m in for, so now more than ever…

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Distraction

It’s been a tough week hasn’t it? The news has been a blur of negativity in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. Whereas I used to engage in the post-tragedy debates, I’ve sort of backed away from it now. The bickering between the gun advocates and the gun control advocates seems to detract from the severity of the situation. Turning tragedy into a set of political sound bytes or talking points for your particular agenda seems cheap, disrespectful, and completely worthless in the long run.
Obviously I have my opinions on the matter, but they would amount to nothing more than another handful of manure on the growing pile of stink that arises every time something negative happens. So- screw it. I’m not going to bother. The posts, memes, and debates that have my social media feeds swollen with vitriol go ignored.

Sometimes, when it seems like the world is devolving into absolute shit around me, I look for distractions. I don’t think of it as sticking my head in the sand and ignoring the woes of the world, or even apathy. Rather, sometimes I (we all) need a break from the tears and the fears.

I happened upon such a distraction while conversing with my wife the other day. We were talking about comfort, and out of nowhere, we got to discussing what our “ultimate” comfort situation would be. I’ve worked on mine the last few days, tweaking and changing some of the details, and this little mental project has been a very welcome diversion.

So, without further ado, here is AD’s idea of the ultimate in comfort.

I’m in a hammock stretched between two shady hardwood trees. It is summer. The temperature is somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees, (Fahrenheit) but there’s a regular breeze that blows, keeping it from getting too hot. I am atop a hill overlooking a valley. Nowhere in my sight line is anything at all man-made. No houses. No power lines. No roads, cars, bridges. There aren’t even any contrails from airplanes passing overhead.
I have no idea where my cell phone is, and I have no commitments or appointments or obligations for three days. Next to me is a table with a glass and a pitcher of blackberry lemonade, ice cold. There’s also a massive bowl of dark purple cherries.
I alternate between napping and reading, with the only audible sounds being the breeze and the occasional chirping of the birds in the trees. At some point, my wife joins me in the hammock and we lie and swing. Uninterrupted by emails, text messages, and small children for the better part of an entire day.

This tiny little description has been my ‘happy place’ for the last two or three days as everything transpires. I obviously can’t ignore everything going on around me, but packing myself off to that hammock in the mountains every now and then has helped me keep from completely losing my mind.

So how about it? If you could describe your perfectly comfortable scenario, where are you? What are you doing? Are you inside? Outside? The more detail you put into it, the more fun it is. Try it. Let me know where you’re going to be the most comfortable you’ve ever been.

And don’t be like my incredibly beautiful, incredibly private wife. All I’ve gotten out of her so far on this little exercise is “I have clothes on” and “I’m not on fire.”

Maybe….just maybe, her idea of being incredibly comfortable involves me not being able to find her.

With all that said, be well readers. Keep your chins up. Mourn tragedy appropriately, and please- don’t give into the hatred, either for external forces, or the internal ones that don’t happen to agree with us. Look for the good, look for the helpers, and soldier on.

30 Hour Day- Courtesy of Etsy

I went for an eye exam the other day. As I wrapped up, I got a text from my wife. “I need more white felt.”
This is not a rare request. For my new readers, my wife runs an etsy shop where she makes stuffed toys, name banners, and the like. Most of her orders are custom jobs, so its impossible to know what someone will order. Which means, every now and then she’ll get an order for something that requires more of a certain color than she has in stock.

So, I go into the store where I get another message. “Never mind. I have enough. I need you home. Now.”

This is where I panic a little.

“Everything okay?”
“Yes, someone just ordered 10 cloud pillows, but they want them over-nighted to NYC…TONIGHT!”

The short story here is that a woman from an upscale event planner in the city reached out to her and asked for the order. Usually, something like this would take weeks to put together. If they were going to get the order, it would have to ship in….two hours. My wife had 4 of the 10 already made an in stock, and was racing to get the rest done and shipped by 5pm. I raced home to help.

We formed a first-ever assembly line with me and the boys, stuffing, sewing, and prepping the order, but to no avail. We weren’t going to make it. There was no way.

My wife was bummed. Not only was the order for several hundred dollars, it was also going- as I mentioned, to a rather prestigious client. She was about to cancel the order when I told her no.

“Finish the order.”
“What?”
“Finish the order. First, email the lady and ask her if its okay if we hand-deliver the product tomorrow around noon.”
“WHAT?!”
“You heard me. If she agrees, I’ll leave immediately after work. I’ll be there before noon.”

My wife fought me for a while before she realized I wasn’t letting go. For once…I’d win. She emailed the woman, who agreed to the in-person service, and I started to set things up.

The main reason my wife was so adamant that this NOT happen, is that I was working a 12 hour shift that night. I’d work for 12 hours, get home, pick up the box, and make a 5 hour round trip drive to NYC and back.

Well….that’s exactly what happened. I got by with a little help from my friends too. My Lieutenant at work that night supplied me with my first ever AMP energy drink around 5am. I had my first cup of coffee shortly thereafter. I got home just before 8, stuck shoes on the three year old, (my co-pilot for the day) grabbed the box and a few bottles of water….and left within 15 minutes. Two and a half hours later, with only one pit stop for me and the boy, we rolled into West 27th st. I called the number the customer had supplied, and she said she’d meet me at street level so I didn’t have to hunt for parking.

“Okay.” I said. “Red Ford Fusion. Very confused looking guy behind the wheel.”

I rolled up to the address she’d given us, and she flagged me down. I got out, opened the passenger side door, handed her the box, said a few pleasantries, got back in the car….and left again.

Right around 2pm…we got home. I still didn’t go to bed. I napped a little on and off, but didn’t want to screw my schedule up any worse. I limped along for a while, mustered up the energy to put the 3 year old to bed, and we retired at 9pm…and I slept a solid 12 hours, the most I’ve slept in years.

Mission accomplished, with a fun little story to tell as an aside, and even if it doesn’t translate into any further sales for my wife’s shop…I had a great little outing with my son.

 

Oh, Sweet Misery

It’s 3am. I have off from the police job tonight, yet I am awake.

I am 12 hours into a 15 hour security shift at a local music event.

It is raining, so I am camped in my car, watching an intersection at my post out my windshield, and looking for oncoming headlights in my rear view mirror.

Beside me in the passenger seat is a soggy paper plates with three slices of cold pizza, one thoroughly gnawed on, my dinner…or breakfast. Who can tell anymore.

Every time a car comes up from behind me, I jump out into the rain, stop it, and find out the driver’s destination, and check their credentials. As the hour grows later, the frequency of this task lessens, even as the rain gets ever harder.

I had originally signed on for a 3pm-11pm shift. Somewhere around 10:30, my supervisor drove up in his golf cart.

“Can you stay until 6am?” He asked. The person who had been set to relieve me for the overnight shift had apparently found something better to do.
“Can you find me coffee?”

He said he could, and I agreed to take on the extra hours. I literally traded 8 hours of sleep for a cup of coffee.

The coffee came, two hours later. Cold. With Splenda in it. I got the raw end of that deal.

So. Here I sit. Three hours to go in a rain-soaked shift watching a mostly empty parking lot, with cold food, no coffee, no company, and no phone charger, so wrapping up this little mobile update very soon is a good idea.

The kicker is, I keep volunteering for this stuff. The money isn’t great, so the added hours aren’t going to account for a whole heck of a lot. But someone needed to cover the shift. I was available. I don’t really mind doing it either. One might say I LIKE these long, boring, miserable jobs. Why though? Who can say. But I do. So here I am. And here I’ll stay. Cold, wet, tired, and without so much as a hot cup o’ joe for comfort.