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June 4, 2019

Matthew,

My lotus flowers and fish are coming along nicely.  This is probably the most rudimentary of gardening tasks, but we have a lot of crap in the yard that somebody else started and is now out of control.  I have long wanted to do something with the yard, but there was so much construction waste and overgrown plants that I have incrementally had to hire people to help me clear everything away and haul it off.  Now that I have caught the yard work bug, as it were, I want to see what I can accomplish.  After all, I’m nearing 40.  I think it’s what you do.  I need to impregnate my wife and work the earth.  I’m turning that corner, and I need to start making my legacy.

In the meantime, I’m also trying to master the art of making edibles.  I’ve had a bit of success so far, but its hard to control the potency.

There’s more going on than before.  There is a university that sends me papers for proofing, and this is the third in six weeks.  I’ve needed to make some money and have something extra to do.  This all adds up to a more functional situation, hopefully.  I don’t need to lose my shit a second time.  That cost way too much money.

The final piece of the puzzle is my health.  I ate way too much fucking pizza in America, and I am hurting for it.  So, I will once again re-find myself or whatever, and hopefully kickstart a year that is half over but I have somehow not yet started.

How’s that for some fucking truth?

Love, etep

April 20, 2019

Matthew,

Today I walked to the end of the dock where I am staying and I smoked a joint.  I turned on my music, and I took in the scenery, laughing about how unusually easy my life ended up being.  I mean that, too.  I used to think life was so fucking hard.  Maybe things were hard for a while, but I’m sure my anger and my undeveloped frontal cortex probably didn’t do me any favors.

So many decisions fall on you in your 20s, and you’re just left to clean up the fucking mess after that.  If you’re rich, maybe somebody cleans up for you.  If you’re hot, maybe you get out by being a trophy spouse.  Then again, some people make better decisions.  Some people get places through working hard and having goals.  Not everyone is self-sabotaging.

Tiptoeing around my hometown the way I have been doing has been nice, but it has also solidified that I need to gather myself for the next big play.  There’s no place for me here long-term.  This is a nice, padded cell, so whenever I’ve worked out all of my shit I’m going to re-enter the world and try and start my future with my patient mermaid wife.

Okay, stupid.  I love you.

Pete

“Patterns of Misconduct” Preview Chapter (1st draft)

Dub’s Dump

Right at the end of Sgt. Windsor’s time with our unit, we had a top-down drug screening with the entire HHC portion of the 101st.  This drug screening was a part of an installation-wide effort to crack down on post-deployment drug use, specifically marijuana.

Because the PAD and HHC were on their own, we were responsible for submitting our own samples to the headquarters.  As such, we were free to do our drug screenings away from the rest of the other units, which were normally comprised of fifty soldiers.  Try picturing that, by the way:  an aviation hangar full of people who are all irritated about having to get up too early to pee in a cup in front of somebody.

Oh, yeah… I might have left that part out.

That’s right.  As a part of the drug screening, you’d have to be supervised in order to assure that you don’t spoil the sample.  For those of you who are unaware of how to do such a thing, never you mind.  There are quite a few gross or dumb ways to supposedly cheat the system, but as ineffective as they probably are, the military cuts out the chance of them working even more by assigning a designated supervisor.

But honestly, you get used to people looking at your wiener.  It starts happening right away at MEPS.  There aren’t any shower curtains in basic training, either.  Some people hated it.  I hated it in the beginning, but I also hated fungus and illness.  I got over people seeing Little Devon quickly because of it.

We wouldn’t have too many other drug screenings after this one.  I think we might have had only one more.  I had more drug screenings in the first six months than I did for the rest of my career.  Funny, I had never thought about that until right now.

*****

The day of the screening came.  On the grounds that Sgt. Windsor was the junior of the group (the group consisting of only he and SSG Cooper), he was assigned the duty of “observing” the sample collection.  SSG Cooper further suggested that the experience would be good for his junior companion, as it would no doubt bolster his promotion file.

I felt bad for Sgt. Windsor.  He had a tough morning ahead.  Though there were maybe a dozen of us, this was not dignified for anyone involved.  You see, normally when it is a company-wide collection, it’s a lab tech or a medic who takes the sample.  In other words, it’s normally not somebody you have to see all the time.  I was going to have to urinate in front of my (on-again, off-again) buddy, and then go back to work with him.  I felt bad for all parties involved.

But I handled my business.  I smacked down a Diet Coke when I woke up, and I was able to produce with little issue.  Windsor faked like he was going to knock the jar out of my hand when I turned around, and I almost dropped the thing.  I laughed loudly in a situation that really didn’t have much room for laughter.

When the echo of my outburst stopped, Windsor called for the next soldier.  It was supposed to be Randell, but Dub was behind Randell, raising his hand.  He asked Sgt. Windsor if he could go next, and Windsor agreed.

Hastily, Dub scurried over to the stall where we were supposed to pee, then promptly turned around and took a seat.  I suppose he didn’t know Windsor was in the stall, because they both let out a few startled noises and curse words.

“Dub!”  Windsor shouted.

“Yes, sarge?”

“Where’s the cup?”  Windsor asked

“Oh, I didn’t need it.”  Dub said, matter-of-factly.

“The hell you mean you didn’t need it?”  Sgt. Windsor was somewhere between laughing and screaming.

“I had to go ‘number two,’ sarge!”  Dub replied in earnest.

Sgt. Windsor laughed.  “Well, can’t ya do both?  Can’t ya take the damn cup and stick it down there?”

“I don’t have to do that right now, sarge.”  Dub replied indignantly.

Sgt. Windsor sighed.  “Of course you don’t, soldier.”

So, whoever the poor sap or saps were who had to give a sample after Dub were not so terribly pleased with him.  Sometimes, I swear I understood why people didn’t like him.  He did some off-the-wall goofy stuff sometimes.  Things like this happen and you just can’t believe the awkwardness of it all.  I felt sorry for everyone, and even a little ashamed for being such a stupid little kid and eavesdropping on such a weird scenario.

And on top of that, we had to wait forever for the dude to pee!  Guys were really starting to get mad at Dub.  Me, I was just saying a prayer for the dude.  I’d seen it happen in basic training and I knew it was a long road if a soldier got stage fright.  We might be there all afternoon if Dub didn’t manage to collect himself.

Fortunately, after about another ten minutes Dub produced a sample, and we were all on our way.

*****

There was a lot I took from this incident.  Sgt. Windsor actually played this pretty cool.  I tried to imagine what would have happened if SFC Smalls ended up being the guy taking our samples.  All things considered, Sgt. Windsor allowed my buddy Dub a lot more dignity than a lot of others did.

Another thing I noticed was that Dub was tragically accustomed to being shamed.  He prostrated himself greatly when the ordeal was over, but the worst anybody did was SFC Cooper, who made a few fart noises throughout the day when Dub was in his midst.  Other than that, nobody said much of anything (save one or two who had to enter the smelly latrine).

It was hard watching Dub carry on.  It was clear that the army broke him.  I’d watch him bumble through these situations and wonder to myself how on earth he made it as far as he did.  There were times just like these when I thought to myself that Dub was incredibly high maintenance.  I felt like the system should have eliminated him somewhere in training.

Much like it should have eliminated me.

And was he really the one responsible for my treatment?  Struck called out Dub’s name when my knee gave out and I was accused of shamming.  Was I doomed because of Dub?  I never really got to the bottom of the animosity towards him or towards me, for that matter.

All I know is that the army just isn’t for everyone.

March 17, 2019

Matthew,

I’m losing track of time. Waiting has become too easy.

The weather is cold. This is my first cold weather in a long time. I wasn’t very prepared for it.

I wasn’t prepared for much, as it turns out. You have to be extremely confident to make a move like the one I just made. I think I was. I think I still am.

I’m still eating my vegetables, but I’ve gained weight. American life has too many shortcuts and conveniences.

I’m on my third dump today. It seems like everything in that department is working fine.

Now I need to quit smoking again.

And maybe take a little less cbd oil next time.

Cleanup on aisle four,

Pete

Oh, internet… you’re so silly!

In spite of my own better judgment, I’ve gotten back on Facebook to kinda poke around and keep up with the people I like.  I’ve done my best not to get too involved with it all, because it so easily turns into me looking at memes all day or, worse yet, my mood becoming affected by some really dumb shit.

My mood isn’t really altered from this most recent thing, but I feel myself wanting to bail once again because I encountered some more really dumb shit just a few minutes ago and I can’t believe how hopelessly idiotic people can be.

I’m a member of a page that has weird, silly, and cringe-worthy album covers.  I’m sure you’ve seen some variety of the site.  There are plenty of them out there.  Between oddly worded gospel records (“Let me Touch Him”) to the infamous Biz Markie album with said artist on the toilet picking his nose, this site is supposed to be where you post a weird album cover and then you and all the other members drop little one-liners talking trash and having a laugh.

But it never turns out that way.

Apparently there are a few people who have apparently taken to rabidly defending certain albums with bad covers.  The admin has gotten a little annoyed with it and called for the guilty parties to cease and desist.  After all, it’s not the purpose of the page.  It annoys me that stuff like this even needs to be said, but I’m glad somebody has taken immediate action to keep negative bullshit off of a genuinely light-hearted page.

But about twenty minutes ago I was browsing the page for updates, and I came across yet another weird-looking gospel album.  It was the typical bad art that you see on a page like this, but there was a comment below it that was horribly out of place.  Some guy apparently decided that this was a good time to bitch about his issues with the Almighty, calling Yahweh a few choice words and really just showing his ass for all the world to see.  In light of recent events, I’ve chosen to stay out of arguments on the internet, but in this particular case I took the guy up on his bullshit.  I can’t find the comment now and I don’t care to look for it, but I said something to the effect of:

“Oh, look.  Somebody is airing out their issues on a joke page.  How unlike the internet.”

Guys, I’m sick of this shit.

I’ve blocked and unfriended a lot of people for all the uninformed bitching they do about current events (that or their abject ignorance of the world around them), and I’ve also unfriended people for interjecting far too much on my page (talkin’ ’bout YOU, Traver).  Some of these people I actually really do like, but their behavior online has really made me wonder if I need to take inventory and re-evaluate who is important to me.

Yes, I used to argue.  Actually, what I used to do was interject when a person made a dumb, baseless statement.  The goal was to maybe make people stop and think before they made stupid generalizations (i.e. “all Republicans are fascist,” etc.), and possibly remind them that they are representing themselves poorly.  However, as you might imagine, my efforts rarely made a person stop and think.  Rather, it made them throw me on another “bad guy” list, and ended abruptly with sucker-punch insults followed by being blocked.

Anyways, it’s this kinda shit that really turns me off to social media.  I know I’ve said most of this before, but it’s just so weird how people are so willing to represent themselves in such an idiotic way.  To take something as simple as a weird album cover and turn it into your own personal vendetta against God is not just awkward, it really makes you look like a piece of shit.

It reminds me of that one girl at Armstrong… Kristen something?  That one idiot with the mohawk.  Bleh.  I’ll think of it later.  Regardless, this girl joined Dr. Baker’s Bible As Literature seminar and spent the entire semester arguing with the professor about the existence of God.  Now, nevermind how self-masturbatory her smugly satisfied dumb-shit interjections were.  She interrupted the class every time she did it.  Dr. Baker patiently allowed her to speak each and every time, basically letting her wear herself out before smugly returning to silence as though she had “won,” but she never seemed to understand that aside from this class having nothing to do with converting you to Christianity, she was making the other 28 of us sit there while she hijacked the lesson.

And it’s people like her, unfortunately, that are the most vocal on Facebook.

Which is why I just clicked over and deactivated my account.  Maybe I’ll peek back in at the end of the year to see how some people are doing, but I’m hoping that this time was the final straw.  I can’t stand what a shit pile of angry graffiti social media has become, especially when it started out as something to link up friends who had become geographically separated over time.

Unplug, people.  Do it less.  Try something else for a while and see how you feel.  If you realize that you can, indeed, do without it, then by all means… UNPLUG.  Who cares if people don’t keep up with you?  Our parents never knew what any of their friends were doing by the time they reached their thirties.  Do we really benefit from these things, or are we all so shitty, biased, and lonely that this is what we have to do to pass the time and justify our own existence?

But enough of that.  I’m stalling again.  Back to the book.

#387

March 8, 2017

Matthew,

I’ve just completed a rather lengthy task. Since I am finally on a break, I wanted to get back to work on my writing projects, starting with putting all of my letters into one master document.

Now I feel emotionally drained.

First, watching a decade pass before your eyes on paper is strange in and of itself. It reminded me how rapidly and unrelentingly time marches forward. Second, reading the letters from the second half of 2016 was particularly tough, because it was abundantly clear that I was trying desperately to brace myself for the bad news that I knew was coming. Third, it was hard watching myself struggle. It was like looking down on myself while feeling a bit of the emotional pain at every stage: the desperation of when I moved back to Savannah, the repeated attempts at learning how to socialize, the hopelessness I felt up until very recently… damn, dude. This has been one rough journey.

In a way, it reminded me of Uncanny X-Men #138. It was like a huge flashback of all my greatest battles and all the great losses and defeats I suffered. It was just wave after wave of problems. It was conflict after conflict. It was like a highlight reel of terrible shit that inevitably prompted the evolution of my character. Like the comic, it was a story, en media res, being told in flashbacks on how I had gotten to this point.

I’m glad I documented it. I’m glad I take the time every now and again to organize everything and update it like this. Things have been touch-and-go for the better part of four years now, so there has been little time to sit and collect my thoughts this way. All previous vacations have been spent pushing my mind as far away from reality as I could, mostly because until now I had no idea how I was going to get out of the mess I had created for myself.

Now it is time for the next chapter. The horse has been sufficiently kicked, and not much else remains to be said about these last ten years. I have a lot of thinking I need to do and a lot of planning as well in the coming weeks. In addition to all these new factors in my life, I need to take some time to be selfish and irresponsible. I’ve done about all a guy can do for the moment.

Nuff said, Pete

#338

November 2, 2015

Matthew,

Yesterday I witnessed an automobile accident. I did not see the exact moment of impact, but right as I was leaving the gym, an SUV managed to hop over about six inches of concrete and onto the median where it smashed into a palm tree. As I turned to see what had happened, a wave of disgust swept over me. I looked at the scene, and it didn’t make sense. I was still processing everything when a man burst frantically out of a store like an action hero, whipping open the vehicle door and grabbing the woman who was inside. He ran across the street and lay her on the sidewalk like a soldier who had just removed his battle buddy from a firefight, and, unfortunately, due to the low impact and exceedingly low chance of any kind of serious injury, he looked rather stupid in what I’m sure he felt was a heroic deed.

Taken by the absurdity of it all, I tried my best to see if the woman was conscious or was bleeding while trying my best not to make it obvious that I wasn’t looking out of concern, but morbid curiosity. Personally, I always thought that running in and tearing the person out of their seat was not exactly the prescribed course of action, so I had that running through my mind as well. But once I was certain there was no blood, I turned back to the scene of the collision. It didn’t make sense. Traffic on that road is far too slow, especially mid-afternoon on a Sunday. How on earth did it happen? How did she manage to hop over the concrete and then not have the wherewithal to hit the brakes? It just didn’t make sense.

There are things I will never understand here. I have grown rather accustomed to being unaccustomed, but quite often in my day-to-day life I am thrown for a loop and left wondering what I should feel. My initial reaction to this event was shock and sympathy, but the longer I surveyed the scene, those feelings quickly turned to disgust. The accident just didn’t make sense. It seemed to defy the laws of physics. It just seemed like somebody wasn’t paying attention. That’s all.

I like living in Thailand. I don’t love it, but any creative slump for a lack of material is long gone. However, this long look at humanity from an entirely different perspective leaves me wondering sometimes what is left of my own humanity. As that woman slumped on the sidewalk clutching her head, I found myself disappointed in the whole thing. I found myself disappointed with the people around me. Not that the Thai are here to please me, but every now and again you get a glimpse of the “Too Much, Too Soon” effect of a rapidly developing nation, and it shows you not only the folly of such a drastic economic leap from one generation to the next, but it shows you the folly of your own people as well.

I could delve further into these observations, but this journey isn’t about trying to figure out the Thai. That has stopped being my objective. Identity is something they are still trying to sort out, so I am just out of luck if I am looking for patterns or well-defined mores. No, this has become a look at myself and my own people. There is no becoming embedded in this culture. The couches are treated with Scotchgard and covered with plastic on top of that. The best I can hope for is neutrality as I try to sort myself out and begin to understand what it means to be American. Events like the one I have described in this letter often prompt a great deal of self-reflection, especially regarding my rather uncharacteristic bloodlust and absence of sympathy for a victim of something bad.

-pETE

#200

3/31/12

hey stupid,

despite my best efforts, ‘chore day’ always takes an entire day.  between cooking, cleaning, and shopping, i cannot seem to formulate any shortcuts.  not that my routine requires shortcuts.  it’s just that i never have time during the week to pull everything together.

but on a lighter note, i am having a second honeymoon with 90s music.  the grunge-punker in me still loves pearl jam and soundgarden, but the mild-mannered individual who is trying desperately to emerge is enjoying the breeders and liz phair.  splash in a little blind melon and… bam!  i’m sixteen again.

at least for the duration of my cardio set.

that’s all you’re getting today, you balding clown.  i still have a few articles of clothing to fold, then it’s back to… (groan)… piers plowman.

i’m pretty sure i’m smarter than you by now.  how do you like them apples, crap-boy?

diligentiam adhibe,


paulus ferrum, vir de magna facta

#234

july 7, 2012

matthew,

here is what one day is like with my roommate.  these are all of the weird, gross, or stupid things that he did today (that i observed).

1.)  mopped the kitchen floor without sweeping, effectively playing hockey with culinary waste and overflow.

2.)  woke me up twice as i was resting during the day:  once to tell me that his girlfriend was bringing over cookies, and the next to tell me that she wasn’t bringing over cookies.

3.)  made baked chicken and dumped the grease into the trash can.

4.)  i was sitting in the common area with he and his girlfriend and he committed two socially repulsive acts in a very brief period of time.  he has a terrible habit of picking his ears, examining his finger, and wiping it on his pants, but this time he also began vigorously scratching his crotch.  this was the kind of scratching that is to be done in private.  i called him out on both acts as well.  he really needs to stop being so fucking gross.

5.)  he and his girlfriend made brownies and he took the pan out of the oven and put it into the refrigerator.

6.)  microwaved some mysterious oil and stunk up the whole house.

now, matthew, i will be straightforward and say that this was an atypical day for two reasons.  first, i am never normally around him for as long as i was today.  second, when i do have to be around him, i like to not directly observe what he does.  i don’t care who you are; if you are a moderately responsible adult, moderately hygienic, and of moderate intelligence, there is no way you should be doing two-thirds of the things my roommate does on a regular basis.  it is far too easy to spot the backwards, poorly planned, and oft-reactionary habits that he has.

face it.  all but the greatest of simpletons should have learned by now that cooking grease requires a little more care in its disposal that tipping a still-warm pan into the trash receptacle.

HOWEVER…

i was feeling particularly tolerant this day, or perhaps just curious, so i decided to observe what a day was like for him and how he got from “point a” to “point b” with simple household and personal decisions.  i often find strange messes and miniature disaster scenes around the house, so now i have a pretty good idea why the house is never really clean (also why women will never talk to me when he is around).

i have realized something.  he was probably a little more coordinated, a little more fit, and a little more decisive before his military career, but the grossness was already there.  i think that somehow he never figured out what not to do… as a human, as a male, as a man of reason and understanding.

i don’t hate him.  i will never again say that i do.  he is a very sincere person.  he is a very generous person.  but the man only gets so much of my time because  he is a wall of social stink that repels even the bravest individuals, including me.

i try to teach him how to live normally… maybe not normally, but in a manner that is organized, a manner that doesn’t cause him to stumble so easily over himself.  it becomes difficult to observe, i assure you.

yet all of these actions are bereft of malice.   he is just a simple, dumb bastard.  he is not mean.  he is not evil.  he has a generous spirit and a respectable moral compass (given his intellect).  but he has very gross habits, from picking his ears to watching ten hours of anime in a day.  i think he is completely lost in a closet of reality that he has created.

so how does one find reason to bear anger?

i cannot.  i reserve the right to be repulsed, even to remark when he commits a more vulgar act, but i cannot fault him and i cannot hold a grudge.  at the end of the day, at least the weird son of a bitch has the courage to be himself.

happytimes,

iron paul

#60

 

January 21, 2007

Matthew,

Pete is a little tied up right now because he is hanging out with me, Hulk Hogan, Tiger Woods and Al Gore.

This friend of yours sure is cool.  Hanging out with him has been the best experience in my life since I found Jesus.

Before he walked into a room with at least fifty hot girls in it, he told me to let you know he wishes you could be here.

I have to go as well, because Tupac just pulled up in the driveway.  I knew that guy wasn’t dead.

Sincerely,

Tony Hawk