When Being Right Isn’t Popular, and The Truth is Hard

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I would have loved to have met President Reagan.  I would also have loved to have met General George S. Patton.

I have a love of historical non-fiction that I’ve not been able to indulge nearly as much as I would like to.  However, I just finished reading Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General, and have been intrigued by not only Patton the man, but also by the bureaucracy and dare I say it, ineptitude, that surrounded him.

Granted, Patton wasn’t a man known for diplomacy.  His famous address to the Third Army on the eve of D-Day  (according to today’s effete cultural standards) would have to be considered quite politically incorrect and would get at least an MA rating for the language he used.  All the more reason for me to really admire the man.

The truth can be hard.  The truth can be ugly.  The truth can be as graphic and cold as the image of greasing the treads of tanks with our enemies’ guts.  The truth is the truth even when people don’t like you when you point it out.  The truth is the truth even when it runs afoul to the personal wheelings and dealings and schemes of those in high places.

We need a man like General Patton today.  Someone (unlike me) who doesn’t have a 24-7 view of the lead dog’s hind end.  I can’t (for a moment) imply that I am the fearless voice of anything.  I’m doing good to not freak out just getting up and getting through my day.

I can only hope and pray that someone with conviction and guts and the audacity to stay on the truth track even if he’s the only one on the truth track will (somehow) land in a position of leadership.  The only problem with finding people of conviction is, that even in his day, Patton was seen as brash and over the top.  There are some who believe that his death in 1945 as a result of a car accident was actually an assassination, and that Patton was conveniently eliminated by the powers above him because he didn’t fit into the Allies’ post war plans.  It is well known that Patton didn’t trust the Soviets (a distrust that was well-founded) and he had a greater disdain for Communism than he did for the Nazis.   But history has proven him correct in many ways.  Perhaps if the right people had listened to what Patton had to say, much of the strife of the Cold War could have been avoided, and Stalin wouldn’t have gained so much power following World War II.

Another hard truth is that history is often told by the winners.

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 I have much admiration for Winston Churchill, but I always thought the Brits sort of got the short end of the stick.

What would have transpired in the post-war world had General Patton not met with such an unfortunate end?  Would he have been able to change the course of the latter half of the 20th century, even in some small way, and if so, would it have been better or worse?

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Would confronting Stalin  have led to a hot war with the Soviet Union that would have promised to have been as bloody and drawn out as the conquests of Germany and Japan?  Or would it have led to a very different post-war landscape in which Eastern Europe would not have suffered under Communist oppression for forty years?  Would the Brits have gotten a better deal when all was said and done?

What if (as some historians pose) FDR had passed before the fated Yalta Conference in which he conceded so much of post-war Europe to Stalin?  Would Truman have been a better negotiator in that place, given that he was in better health and was a sort of plain, no-nonsense kind of person?

I know that I can’t change the past, but I think it’s important to learn from it.   There’s way too much repeating the past and appeasing going on in this world (I need not mention the abomination that is the Obama administration, but I just did…) even though history has proven that feeding alligators only makes them bigger and hungrier.

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Sometimes, as Patton said, (referring to the Germans and Japanese,)”The quickest way to get it (war) over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo.” 

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There is no negotiating with despots.  The only way out of a bad situation is through it.

Too bad no one seemed to listen to Patton when he said, “I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood.” 

We know Obama won’t listen to the hard facts and the truth of history, and his pandering to the despots and terrorists and thugs of this world will cost how many gallons of blood?

Who I Don’t Want to Be, Memory and the Crotch Rocket

 

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Why does the whole business of living have to be so difficult?  I don’t want to end up one of those bitter, wrinkly dried up old bitties who have nothing better to do than give me the stink-eye in the locker room because I’m not an old bitty wanting to shoot the shit, but I am in the pool at 5:30, and therefore invading “her” space.  I find myself getting close to that stink-eye to the world mindset sometimes though, and it scares me.  I get pissed at myself because I’m not much of a risk taker, and because I usually don’t have the courage to be anything more than a tired old door mat.  Always cordial, always concessionary, always blending into the scenery.  Stealth and avoiding confrontations are survival skills I’ve cultivated since childhood.  Most of the time avoiding conflict and/or scrutiny are exactly what I’m aiming to do in the first place.

The past should remain in the past- and I’m usually pretty good at not letting those vexing whirlwinds of emotions get to me- but there’s one person who can conjure a tempest in my heart every time.  Being insanely in love with anyone, regardless of how compelling he is (or was it lust, or simply the novelty and the sweetness of forbidden fruit, who knows,) is completely out of my character.  After 20 years (and then some) it’s time to let sleeping dogs lie and get back to reality, but memory is a hard taskmaster.  Every time I hear from him- and I do still consider him a friend- I end up going down the path of what once was and what could have been and all that noise- even though I can wish in one hand and shit in the other and know which hand is going to fill up first.  There is a plethora of technicalities that I would rather not rehash yet again- all the reasons why and everything that has remained unsaid-they are still the obstacles they have always been, but when all is said and done memory is just that.   Nothing more.

nothing left to say

Even knowing what an exercise in futility such revelries are, it seems as if the further back I go, the more vivid the imagery of memory becomes.  Oh, to have one of those days where I could just sit and watch the wheels go round, (to quote John Lennon) but I have to keep at least one foot grounded here on earth.

As usual, I’ve been too busy, too preoccupied with the business of making it through one day to the next, so when I do get a reminder that there is more to life than getting up, going to work and going to bed, it’s startling.  I’m reminded that I’m still alive, still taking up valuable oxygen, and still haven’t really accomplished jack shit.

Busy is probably better for me than I realize.  At least it’s keeping me out of trouble.

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The illustrious POMC is busy with his latest acquisition- a crotch rocket.  Although I enjoy motorsports, for me it’s pretty much a given that a vehicle involved in motorsports should have four wheels.   I don’t share his enthusiasm for this purchase, and I don’t see myself attempting to ride this beast either.

I know it’s better that old ghosts stay in the past where they belong, though nothing would do me better than an evening and a drink with a friend.  I miss the conversation, strangely enough.  There are precious few people who I really want to converse with alone, one on one.

Maybe I should find some courage and make that a point.  NOT riding the crotch rocket- that’s not happening, but the conversation with an old friend that is long overdue.

 

 

 

 

Mortality, cont., Simple Thanks, “Sin Boldly,” and Whatever I Fear

 

I know it might be considered a bit morbid to troll about in old cemeteries.  As a kid cemeteries used to scare the living hell out of me (along with just about everything else, so go figure) but today I find certain cemeteries to be particularly serene.  In spite of the “buy one get one free” sign in front of the cemetery (Chapel Heights Memorial Gardens) where my grandparents are buried, it’s actually a very peaceful place to hang out.  People fish in the creek that runs in front of the cemetery which could be seen as irreverent by some, but I don’t think my grandparents would mind.  They always enjoyed fishing.

I’ve always loved willow trees.  This is the view of the creek that runs in the front of the Chapel Heights Memorial Gardens.  The peculiar thing about Chapel Heights, as far as cemeteries go, is that the only grave markers they allow are simple flat ones- like Grandpa’s Army marker. There are no obelisks, or statues, or ostentatious carvings. From a distance it simply looks like a park.  The beauty there is more natural than historical.   When the weather improves some (but before the mosquitoes take over) I will need to take another roadtrip up there to just sit and hang out for an afternoon.

My favorite cemetery (now that does sound morbid, but what the hey) from a historical perspective, is the Marion Cemetery – right across from the Harding Memorial on SR 423. The Merchant Ball is there, and you can see where it rotates on its base even though no one can explain how or why it does.   Some of the best examples I have seen of maudlin Victorian era gravestones anywhere are in the Marion Cemetery.  I have taken pics of a few of them (the one at the top of this page is one of my favorites) but I don’t have enough space in my memory card for all the really good ones.  I could literally spend a week in there wandering about and taking pics of cool old Victorian headstones.   There must have been a lot of people in Marion back in the day with a LOT of scratch to spend on their dead relatives from the looks of the monuments in the Marion Cemetery.  Today the place is so poor I’m surprised that anyone who dies now gets a burial or a grave marker at all.  If I would have to make an educated guess, cremation has probably become the dispatch method of choice for the dead, simply for the cost effectiveness.  From another practical viewpoint, I have to wonder about the wisdom of burying dead people in a reclaimed swamp.  Burying people in the ground- even in concrete vaults and steel coffins- doesn’t strike me as being terribly sanitary considering the high amount of rainfall and the poor drainage that is inherent to Marion County- and the rest of Central Ohio.

I am thankful the dryer works.  It can dry a large load in about 90 minutes which is encouraging.  90 minutes is a lot faster than 3 hours plus.   It feels good to have the laundry caught up. It is a relief to know that if I want to wash the dogs, or wash all the living room quilts that cover the furniture, I can.   I washed my bed sheets and blankets yesterday.  Since the dogs like to sleep in the beds I have to wash everything often, otherwise it ends up covered in hair and smelling like dog funk.  I’m glad that Lilo is really the only one of the three that ever gets much of a funk to her.  Clara has almost no odor, likely because of her short coat and sparse undercoat.  Sheena I can’t really explain.  She should reek to high heaven with her thick undercoat,  (Heidi and Kayla were purebred GSDs- and they both reeked no matter how often they were bathed) but for a dog with such a thick coat Sheena is remarkably clean-smelling. 

As far as my ongoing quest to live authentically (which is how I understand Martin Luther’s instruction to “sin boldly”- here is a link to a better theological understanding of that instruction) I can only appeal to the grace of God to overcome my fear.  I can only trust that He will give me the courage and the discernment to do the right thing- and the forgiveness I inevitably need when I screw up.

I’d like to have a spontaneous and unfettered approach to life.  Not being dead broke all or most of the time would help, which would require me to (somehow) get Jerry to pay for his fair share of things instead of just footing the bill myself because I know he throws major fits every time I request money.  He can go to the hell hole and blow hundreds of dollars and to him that’s quite fine, but if Steve-o needs $50 to pay his electric bill and I don’t have it, it’s a Federal case.  Jerry can be generous when he wants to be, (especially to his family, except Steve-o of course) but he simply doesn’t get it. No matter what method I use to explain it to him- spreadsheets, calendars, letting him see my bank statement, etc. he just doesn’t get it that I’m not randomly blowing money on frivolous and unnecessary things (such as beer, cigarettes or gambling, but I digress.) 

One time when I asked him for money because I was dead broke after paying the car insurance, he actually accused me of having an illicit drug habit!  I don’t.  I can’t even drink with the medical issues I have. Most of the illicit drugs out there would probably kill me outright.  He should thank God I’ve never been into crystal or the white powder, or I’d probably ripped his head off and shit down his neck hole years ago.    

Technically one could say that I do have a “drug habit” – but all the drugs I take are prescribed by my Dr.- and are pretty much essential to keep me vertical and above ground.  Otherwise I wouldn’t bother with expensive (though non-frivolous) things like blood pressure meds and insulin.  It’s not like I have the Dr. write me scripts for high dollar face Nair and that stuff that’s supposed to make your eyelashes grow.  (WTF?)  I simply don’t make enough money to pay for everything – stuff like car payments, the exorbitant amounts for various insurances, scripts, groceries, gasoline, etc. and so on- for both of us.  If I did have enough money to pay for it all, believe me, I wouldn’t ask.  I would just pay and keep my mouth shut.

I do draw the line at a few of Jerry’s vices.  I refuse to buy his beer, smokes, or to support his gambling habit. 

In his favor he does pay his own truck payment, and he has to buy his own beer, smokes and lottery tickets. 

Very few things terrify me and stress me out more than arguments about money.  I’ve never been a person of means, and I’ve had to scrape and pinch and rob Peter to pay Paul my entire life.  My parents were never people of means either.  Their most heated and (verbally) violent arguments were always centered around money and (almost always) the lack thereof.  Nothing would send Dad into a rage quicker than anything involving money.   I can’t blame him.  There were times when we were growing up when he had to make the choice between paying the mortgage and utilities or buying food or medical care. 

As a kid I remember weeks of eating pretty much nothing but Cream of Wheat or no-name Mac & Cheese to get by because there was no money for food.  I remember going without things like glasses or dental visits for years at a time, because there was no money in our household for preventive care. Before I could drive it really didn’t matter if I had glasses or contacts or not, so I just dealt with it.  Ignoring my health is likely how I ended up with rheumatic fever too, (you get it from untreated strep infections) because it came to a point when I would refuse to tell anyone I was sick, and I’d even try to deny it even if I was clearly deathly ill.  I knew they couldn’t afford the Dr. visit or whatever scripts he might prescribe- and I didn’t want to hear their fight about how much it cost and how they don’t have the money after the fact.  Now I have permanent heart valve and joint damage.

I should know better at this point in my life.  It’s not about lack of money, but how “household” money is being used.  Right now Jerry pretty much pays his truck payment and sustains his own vices and thinks that’s all he needs to do- while I’m footing the bill for Steve-o,  as well as Jerry’s scripts, Jerry’s food, all the insurances, etc. he insists on having even though it’s overkill, and so on. 

I am dead afraid of letting him get a taste of reality because I know he will do anything he can to punish me for it.

Why I am browbeating myself for expecting Jerry to act like an adult and take responsibility for his fair share is beyond me.  I’m glad he bought the dryer, because I really despise crunchy clothing and I’m not going to the laundromat, but in perspective, that dryer cost less than one month of all the various life insurance that gets deducted out of my checking account- on his insistence- every month.  The dryer is also a replacement for the one I bought for $350 back in 2000 that he has had the use of for the past 11 years, if you really wanted to play tit-for-tat.

I don’t think I owe him obeisance for anything.  For all intents and purposes I kiss his ass to keep the peace- but I of all people should know that feeding alligators only makes them hungrier.  Appeasement is Obama’s foreign policy and it’s not working for him either.

I know what I’m doing.  I don’t like it, but I need to find the courage to change it.