Warriors and Weekends

What’s on the iPod: It’s Only Life by The Shins

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Great-great-great grandfather’s grave – Civil War era

A blessed Veteran’s Day to all who have served. We remember.

Sometimes your best plans can turn from good to, well, memory-making. I took off half a day on Friday to drive to DC to see my cousin. He was part of a days-long tribute to Vietnam veterans, reading names from the Wall. That he came from Indiana and spent a number of days in order to do that shows the fierce loyalty these guys have to each other. That I got to participate was amazing.

I arrived and, per usual, had to spend an hour getting from the north side of the city to the south side. loathe driving it, but the other choice was taking the train, paying too much and walking too far. I was up for a drive after a long week inside.

I arrived near the wall, sent him a text, and walked toward the monument. He sent back his location – by the statue of the three soldiers. I looked up. There was the statue. “Where are you?” he’d asked. I typed back “Right behind you.” Then I saw him. Hugs and smiles and then right down to the familiar. Mind you, this is someone I’ve not seen in 16 years, and a cousin who is older, so one I knew, but not well. But you get to a point in your life when family is family, and that’s a bond that transcends so much that seemed to matter when you were a different age in a different time.

We walked to the tent where he was to get his next list of names. Then he turned to me — “They have an empty space between me and then person reading after me. Want to read some names?”

I said it nonchalantly, but I was a wad of emotions. “Sure.”

Thirty names. Thirty people I’ve never met, would never meet. At first, I scanned the list to make sure I could pronounce them. Then it hit me — any one of these names could be attached to a person sitting in the audience. They weren’t just names.

That’s how I read them — as though family had traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to hear them. For those two minutes, they were the most important names I’d ever speak. 

What an honor.

The rest of the weekend was a good counterpoint to those few hours. I spent Saturday cleaning. I started with one drawer — we’d set a goal to clean out one closet or one drawer a week. By 3:30, I’d cleaned eight drawers and had vacuumed and dusted much of the house. The guest room is ready for his brother, who shows up this week. I still have much to do, but things are starting to take shape.

We spent Saturday night at the local coffee house listening to a local band. Wow. I had no idea talent like that existed in our little town. J. D. Malone and the Experts sang most of their own songs, but I managed to catch a minute of video on their cover of a Tracy Chapman song. This is a tiny coffee house that seats maybe 75 if you shove them in, and the managers may have been looking for large shoe horns — they were lined out the door.

Yesterday I went to church, where they’re looking for volunteers to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to those without a place to go. I’m going to sign us up for a few hours in the afternoon to help prepare. Our dinner can wait. This is a Catholic church like none I’ve seen. They have a slew of community service projects going simultaneously, and they provide newcomers with a booklet of the projects and how to sign up to be part of them. Glad to see the Catholics becoming more accessible. 

After that, we headed to Philly and did some “ohming” with my homies — meditation group. It was a great turnout, and it was good to see some faces that hadn’t been there in a few months or more.

Today, I’m having a lunch meeting with a colleague to discuss an upcoming project, then back here to crank out five articles and two case studies. Busy week ahead, which I love.

How was your weekend? What’s happening in your work world this week?

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  • Devon Ellington November 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    What an honor. I'm sure you gave those names the love they deserved.

    That wall is one of the most moving locations I've ever visited.

    Busy week — I've got final galleys to turn around for the book, I'm doing a follow at the Marine Life Center tomorrow for a couple of articles and a book, and then my CCWC Board Orientation. Wednesday is Writers Night Out, and who knows what else I've got to do this week?

    I'm trying to survive one day at a time! 😉

    Hoping to land a couple quick turnaround, quick pay jobs to make up for the client who stiffed me the $$$ that were supposed to take care of expenses through the end of the year. I've got some of it back, but it's a process, and now I have to scramble.

  • Paula November 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    What an amazing opportunity that was, Lori!

    Saturday I cleaned and put up more window film. About 10 minutes after I had my dog out around between midnight and 1 AM, I was just falling asleep and heard a loud bang. It was really windy, so I thought a tree or large branch fell onto a car or something. Next day I learned there was an armed robbery in the parking lot of the vacant school one block away. (What the four victims were doing hanging out there to begin with is suspect.) Reports said three shots were fired as the culprits fled on foot….right past my house! Thankfully no one was hit. I only heard one shot. And thank goodness that didn't happen ten minutes earlier.

    Was up at 6:30 Sunday because my sister & brother-in-law were dropping their dogs off here around 7:30. It was a dreary rainy day with falling temps, so I decided to do something I almost never do: watch TV nearly all afternoon.

    Today I plan to write a column and transcribe two short interviews. Tomorrow the guest dogs go home. Later this week I I'll write an article and start interviews for several more.

  • Lori November 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I can't believe clients still do that, Devon. Ridiculous behavior. If I get any overflow, I'll shoot it your way. And congrats on getting through today. 🙂

    Good lord, Paula! That's scary! It reminds me of a Thanksgiving three years ago at my daughter's college place. We woke up to the back door hanging wide open and the window in the den open. The door — not so unusual as you have to slam it to get it to close. The window? Scratched our heads on that one, but chalked it up to her boyfriend forgetting to close it.

    Turns out the people in the house next door were robbed. They weren't home. We weren't supposed to be there, either (college kids usually go home for the holidays). But the guy must have heard the tv the minute the window was opened –daughter was sleeping downstairs a room away. They caught him, but not before chasing him through the yard. He knocked her mirror on her car crooked. WAY too close for comfort.

  • Anne Wayman November 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Ah Devon… so sorry.
    Lori, as Devon said, what an honor… and you'll enjoy the service at Thanksgiving… hard work, but oh so worth it…