Veterans Day 2018

[Just a bit of a preamble here. I typically do a post like this every Veterans Day on my Facebook page. Though we are both Army Veterans (where we met), I always try to highlight her status as a Veteran above my own. I do this because society tends not to see her, or any female Veterans for what they truly are. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, people assuming my service to be more important than her service. This is obviously not the case. She is amazing and I mean every word you are about to read.]

I saw her for the first time in the winter of 2010. I didn’t know anything about her, but my instinct told me that she was special. I wasn’t wrong. That was nearly nine years ago to the day. In the time since that day I first laid my eyes on her, she has done more with her life than most people do in a whole lifetime.

She agreed to step into my life, adopting my daughter Laila as her own child. She became a biological mother not long after to our daughter Sophia, a child born with autism that was about to challenge us both in ways we never imagined possible.

Despite her need to be at home with her newborn, duty insisted she do her job and on her daughters first birthday, Ashley boarded a plane headed for Afghanistan. Nerves of steel. This was the longest year of our life, but we planned our moves carefully.

Before her return to the States, she had a job as a Correctional Officer and was ready for her exit from the military. She drove two hours to work and two hours home every day for a year until a better opportunity presented itself. That opportunity saw her become a Sheriff. Always on the hunt for the next goal, she would eventually find herself working as a Police Officer.

She chose this line of work not because it is easy, but because it is hard. She wants to be the standard bearer in life, someone that her own children, as well as other little girls, can look up to. She does all of this and she makes it look easy. She is a Veteran and so much more, and this is why each Veterans day I choose to highlight Ashley Armstead.

Hope everyone has a Great Veterans Day.

(This was something I originally posted elsewhere on Veterans day but felt it deserved a spot here on the blog

Embers

 

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’ve missed you. I’d like to say that I am here to stay, back again with more wit and MS Paint comics, but I’m not. If I’m telling the truth, I feel like i’m barely here at all. I have a double-edged sword inside of me, cutting me to my creative core, allowing me to bleed art once again. So here I sit, the creativity pouring out of me. I write, paint, and draw manically and people look at my art and they applaud me for my work and want to buy my work. I look at my work with an emotionless stare. I create to forget that there is a sword inside of me slowing bleeding me away. I burn the art. I watch it burn to ash and embers. No one knows what it means. I get that look again. They say to stop being that way.

I fake smile to their face while they keep their hand on the sword in my back. Everything is fine. I gather up the ashes of my creation and mix it with water, new pigment for my next piece. The cycle continues.

SECRET MESSAGE #1

sdoprtrtyu fgoprt nmopty p[opsdtyionmgh asnmyu nmerwe m,astyerioasl; hjerrter iosd as p[opsdty to weassdtyer yuopuirt tyiom,er.                          🙂

 

If any of you secret squirrels figure it out then let me know in the comments. I’ll create something harder.

Lot #25

childhood-home0001

This is a faded picture of a fading memory. This was my childhood home, lot #25. This small sketch tells so many more stories than what meets the eye. In this image I see the tree where I broke my arm, the truck that nearly killed me and my step-father. I see the antenna that I would adjust manually, no matter how cold it was outside, so we could get a clear picture on the television. I see the storage shed that I helped my step-father build, the shed that was often a target for thieves.

I see the cactus that received better treatment from my mother than I did. I see the cactus that I destroyed in protest. I see the window to a room that was not big enough to house a little boy. The room where a little boy first learned that if a goldfish is left in a small bowl, that goldfish stops growing. The room where a little boy decided he was not going to be a small fish. I discovered a love for art, for reading, and for writing in this place. I learned to escape the physical confines of my environment through art and stories.

Now all I see is a faded image of a fading memory that tells a story this man would rather forget.

The Nightmare (A Short Story)

  Its early, two hours before the sun comes up but he’s already up following his morning routine. Turn the television on low so he doesn’t disturb his newborn baby girl and his wife… just loud enough to hear the early morning news to get the traffic and weather report. No reason for it. Traffic is always the same… bad, and the weather man never gets the damn report right. The weatherman lies to him as he puts on the dirty dark blue jumpsuit that represents the last three years of his work life. Every hole, every stain of dirt, sweat, and blood telling a story about the city and the work he’s done in it. He finishes tying his worn leather steel-toes, the set with the hole in the toe where the steel is exposed,  and heads for the door. Without making a sound his wife has made her way downstairs too meet him. Shes dark in the low light, but he still knows the look that’s on her face. One of sadness that he has to leave for the day. always a beautiful look in his eyes, knowing that someone misses you when you’re away. Shes wearing only her favorite robe, the light blue one that was caught in the dryer and damaged on the bottom left seem, it’s loosely tied around her small petite frame. Her arms are crossed and her hair is in a mess but he loves it, he thinks she looks the best at her worst… But he never told her that. They meet in a warm embrace. She cares not about the dirty jumpsuit but only that he stays a moment longer. No words are spoken until the end when its time to go… they each trade three little words with a kiss. He is gone out of the door, it locks behind him and the noise seems to echo in his head forever. He walks to his car, an 04 Mercury Sable with his black backpack in hand but something is wrong with this picture… The snow hits him in the face hard. What snow? Its August. Its normal…? No. He continues to walk to the car but its missing, instead of his Mercury Sable, a rusted 96 Jeep Cherokee is sitting there. This isn’t him… I’m him, its me. I turn and the apartment is engulfed in flames, the snow was ash. I scream and drop my black bag but it doesn’t fall. I look down still screaming and the black bag has become a black rifle… my M4. It’s connected to my body armor!? My Blue jump suit has become my army combat uniform. The fire grows… I kick in the door. The apartment is fine. No fire, no smoke, just a noise… a noise burned in my memory but is it real? I clear the room already knowing what I will find. I make my way upstairs and find the door locked… the echo of the locked door returns but it is fighting with another noise, the sound of running water and a woman’s moaning. All in my head? The door kicks open easily. One of my decorative swords fall from the wall and slide to my feet pointing in the direction of the bathroom, the Latrine. I clear my bedroom and I see her light blue robe on the floor next to clothes that don’t belong to me. My child is missing from her crib! I clear the bedroom and kick in the bathroom door all in one fluid motion… The flames engulf me and feel hot as the fires of hell, the pain feels real. I stand while the flames lick at me and looking back at me are my wife and someone I’ve never met. They stand in my shower naked with evil grins on their face knowing and accepting their sin but this isn’t like last time… I raise my M4 and open fire… pointblank. Every shot reaches its target. I empty an entire mag that seemed to hold more than 200 rounds. The rifle felt hotter than the flames around me. They still stand unharmed staring back at me. My wife exits the shower and behind her the shower head spews what looks to be lava onto her lover. He melts away to mush… down the drain. She approaches me slowly but I can’t move. My right knee suddenly gives out from the weight of the armor. The pain is worse than the flames melting my gear to my skin. I can only scream in agony. She walks up to me slowly and removes one of my knives… My best knife. I can’t stop her… I don’t see it happen but I feel it, the knife sinks right through my armor and chest coming to rest in my heart… no more pain. I awake to my child smiling at me, telling me its going to be ok. -Steven Beal-

Reason To Live. (17-APRIL-2003)

  1. Last night I had a dream.
  2. I was yelling at the heavens
  3. In the middle of a thunderstorm.
  4. I was yelling at God
  5. “Prove to me you are their!”
  6. I yelled through the rain.
  7. “Prove Heaven, Hell, And Yourself to me!”
  8. …(silence)
  9. “Send an Angel from the heavens
  10. with all the reasons to live!”
  11. …(silence)
  12. Soon after the storm began to clear
  13. The air became quiet…
  14. And then you appeared.

-This was originally written for a girl I had a crush on in high school. For my efforts she never dated me and my writing teacher at the time decided that this was enough proof needed to throw me in advanced literature. I made sure not to write anything publicly in school again after that.  ORIGINAL (17-APRIL-2003)