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Between Deadlines
August 2014
 
 
 
 
 
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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Sun, Oct. 16th, 2011 10:28 am

"No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny
without leaving some mark on it forever."
- Francois Mauriac

Last night, I was laying across my bunk at work and trying to let my brain vegetate a bit. I'd just completed an online lab assignment for the college biology class I'm taking this semester. I'm not sure how I found myself in the archives of Deadline Pressure, but that's where I ended up. I jumped around a bit and thought about all of the reasons I don't write as frequently and why I don't write the same way I once did.

Reading the old stuff was entertaining. It always is. Every once in a while, I'll read some old writing and be reminded of something I'd completely forgotten. Last night, I was reminded of details I'd forgotten about a little five or six-date relationship I'd attempted back in early 2003. The girl's name was Christy. Of any girl I've ever spent time with, she was the most unlikely to ever date me. We came from different worlds, had different friends and had much different interests. But for a few weeks in January and February 2003, we came together in a way that has stuck with us for the last eight years.

This spring, she'd found me on Facebook and wrote to say that she was getting married in the fall. She also said, "[I thought] what a very special person you are to me. Even though we didn't spend too much time together, I still think of you often and hope you're well. You are honestly the most thoughtful person I think I have ever met! I know this is probably really weird, and I don't mean it in a weird way at all. I just wanted to tell you and thank you for letting me be a little part of your life."

What's strange and peculiar and cool about all of this is that I saw wedding photos of her when I logged into Facebook this morning. I'd been completely oblivious to the fact that her getting married in "the fall" meant she was getting married yesterday. So, that means that as I was walking down memory lane last night, she was walking down the aisle. Coincidence? Probably. But I can't help but wonder if it's a sign of the way we each occupy a minuscule part of the other person. And that's what is great about having friendships and relationships... Some aren't designed to last forever (or longer than a few weeks, even), but the impact they have on us might.

JANUARY 28, 2003:

"Christy is about five feet, six inches. She got's short hair... The kind that doesn't reach the shoulders and sort of flips out at the bottom. When I met her, her hair was dark. Now, it's dark with highlights. She's cute either way. She's got a braces smile without ever suffering through orthodontics. She says she likes me because I remember obscure things she says... Most people say that I annoy them because I don't remember things they say. I have no idea what any of this means. Like so much stuff in my life lately, a lot of different things had to fall into place for us to meet. She's led an interesting life. If we'd met any time before now, I'm not sure we would get along as well. She's ticklish. She's creative. She's 21... yeah... I know. She's closer to my brother's age than she is to mine. I don't care. She's a college senior. As crazy as it seems, it feels good to be around college students again. It feels better to know I'm not one any more. Christy & I don't have a whole lot in common. We both like green grapes and Dave Matthews and, well, we both wear shoes. So far, that seems like enough.

I don't know, but I think I may like this girl...

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Current Mood: relaxed relaxed

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Mon, Sep. 12th, 2011 12:00 am

Where were you?

Written September 11, 2001:
http://fletch.johndoe.org/0109/091101.htm

I woke up suddenly and with some worry... I had the feeling that I'd overslept and missed class. I threw the warm covers off, climbed out of bed, squinted my eyes and walked toward the clock until I could make out the digital reading. Whew. 8:43 a.m. I had another hour or so to sleep. I crawled back into bed and found the warm spot in the middle of the mattress. I laid on my left side and then rolled onto my right. Sunlight from the blinds hit me in the face. I pulled the comforter up to block the rays. In seconds, I was asleep.

Ring. Ring.

I climbed from my bed again and was a little miffed that someone had ruined my bonus hour of sleep. It was Jessie. She apologized for waking me before saying, "but Washington is being attacked." In a single moment, I went from nearly asleep to fully awake. She chimed in again, "and they've bombed the World Trade Center."

I looked at the clock. It was a few minutes before 9 o'clock. I hadn't been asleep long. I fumbled with the buttons of the television and searched for a channel with coverage. I found Headline News, thanked Jessie and hung up the phone to watch. In less than 10 minutes, I was calling her back.

"Oh, dear God, Jess. One of the towers has collapsed."

And so it was that one of the nation's darkest days was upon us.



The first moments spent watching the television coverage were filled with anger. How the fuck could someone do this to my country? I asked myself this question aloud. I asked Jessie in our on and off phone conversations through the early morning. This is the United States of America, dammit. Perhaps our arrogance is also our ignorance, but you just don't mess with America. Everyone knows that... Don't they?



As the anger subsided, the disbelief set in. How can buildings 110 stories high -- buildings strong enough to withstand hurricanes and bomb blasts -- collapse? And how is it that thousands -- not hundreds, but thousands -- of people could now be dead? If we thought the Oklahoma City bombing was devastating... The scenes we watched Tuesday morning were beyond the realm of comprehension. At least, they were for me.



Finally, the mood of sadness -- the mood that remains with me as I write these words -- set in. The media is reporting that between 200 and 300 firefighters were trapped in the collapse and are presumed dead. Entire fire companies have been killed. For the first time since I became a firefighter more than a year ago, I feel the brotherhood of the fire service. I feel a connection to those killed, to those injured and to those trapped in the rubble...

I think about the radio calls for help from trapped firefighters and wonder if they knew help wasn't on its way immediately...

I think about the firefighters and dispatchers who listened to those calls and supported their brothers and sisters but could do nothing to help...

I think about the apparatus bays that sit empty -- missing apparatus and firefighters that left for a call and will never return...

I think about the goodbye hugs and kisses from wives and girlfriends and moms that will have to last an eternity instead of just one shift...

I think about the lockers where civilian clothes still hang waiting for the end of a tour of duty that won't come...

I think of the children that used to beam with pride when uttering the words, "my daddy is a fireman"... And how some of those children don't have daddies anymore... And how those that do should feel especially proud to make that claim.

The enormity of the tragedy is too much to consume. I think about those guys and gals and their families and that's my connection to the madness. To attempt to soak it all in and take it personally would be foolish and probably impossible. But so would trying to ignore it. The events of today should carry with them some sort of meaning for each and every American. Every now and then, we sort of forget that with all our differences, we're really all the same in some way. We share a common thread. And today... we were all attacked.

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Sun, Aug. 7th, 2011 12:27 am

If you had the option to learn the exact moment and details of your death, would you choose to know?


Most definitely. What if it was next month? I'd need the advance warning to have time to plan my funeral, go skydiving, spend a bunch of money and take Jessie to Disney World (she's never been). That would also give me plenty of time to burn my unused vacation at work. No sense in letting that go to waste, eh?

In all seriousness, I think I would like to know. And in all seriousness, I think I would end up doing all of those things I mentioned (and maybe more).

I'd certainly be planning my funeral. Funeral services planned by the funeral home are cheesy. I don't understand those little pamphlets they out, either. The only thing they ever have in them is a copy of the obituary and maybe a listing of the pall bearers. I know that stuff. That's nothing new. And if I didn't, I would read the obituary online before the funeral. No, those pamphlets should be entertaining and tell me stuff I didn't already know. They should contain all of the jokes that wouldn't fit in the eulogy (because eulogies should be humorous. Even if the dead person was an asshole. In that case, they should especially be humorous).

We're gonna need plenty of funny stuff at my funeral because I also want one of those slide shows that plays sad songs with a photo montage that makes the whole crowd -- even the people that didn't know the dead person -- weep openly. But the slide show will only be one or two songs. I went to a funeral once where it lasted for four or five loooooong songs. That was just too much. It's possible to start resenting the person in the pine box when you're held hostage by something like that.

I'd like to have a fire department element to my funeral, too. If there's a group of people who know how to throw a funeral, it's firefighters. We raise ladders and play bagpipes and look spiffy in our full dress uniforms. There are always plenty of apparatus, too. The fire service will turn a procession into a parade.

When everything is done and I'm in the ground*, it would be pretty cool for everyone to kick it at a party. Ideally, the party would have an open bar, a concert by Cowboy Mouth and fireworks (literally) when it was over. I've got a little $15,000 life insurance policy through the union. I've also got half a mind to tell the wife to spend it all on the party. (*I really think cremation has a lot of benefits. Why fill up the ground with boxes full of dead people? However, I think cemeteries are neat and as I firefighter, I have a professional objection to being burned up. I dunno. Hopefully I have a few more decades to decide.)

Speaking of cemeteries... If that's where I end up, I'd like a really cool headstone. I want it to look like something that's been there 100 years. (Well, I'd like it to be designed like it would have been 100 years ago... you can leave the weathered marbled, the mold and the moss off of it.) If I die young, I should probably just have a stone for myself. If Jessie finds someone else, I don't want her feeling obligated to be buried next to husband #1. And, even worse, I don't want her deciding to be buried with husband #2 and my corpse having to spend eternity next to what is essentially a "vacancy" sign.

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Silence

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Sun, Jul. 24th, 2011 02:17 am

I was quite sleepy by the time 9pm rolled around. In fact, I'd already involuntarily dozed a few times on the day room sofa. So, I got up with the intention of catching up on lost sleep. Since then, I've picked a lady up off the floor, investigated a fire alarm in an old folks home and handled a medical emergency -- all strategically timed in such a way that I've yet to get any sleep at all.

I've said many times over the last month that I'd never been as ready for a vacation as I was for my cruise at the first of June. i was stressed to the max and had a lot of things on my plate. After I got back, I found myself talking to Alex on the phone one night in mid-June. These conversations happen from time to time and are completely random. In fact, I'm not sure we've had one since.

Anyway, I shared with her some of the reasons I was stressed out. I tossed some emotional baggage out there that I wouldn't normally have shared -- with anyone. The phone call ended with her telling me that she loved me. I don't think it was in a  "I want to sleep with you" way, but in very much a "I want what's best for you" way. I think that feeling is mutual, but I also think we worry how our friendship might interfere with that goal. Regardless, I find it interesting how much easier it is to share our true thoughts with each other now that we've been apart for nearly six years than it was when we were essentially dating.

Speaking of dating, Alex had a first date tonight. She said it was everything she wanted it to be and more. I hope she's not blowing smoke up my ass. She's lost out on more than a few relationships and in ways much more spectacular than how ours imploded. So I sincerely hope she finds happiness soon. Sure, it might absolve me of a little guilt... but mostly its because I do love her in a "I want what's best for you" kind of way. To have such feelings and to be able to categorize them properly feels very mature to me. if there is truth to this feeling, I've come a long way in the last few years.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


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Current Mood: sleepy pooped

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Thu, Jun. 16th, 2011 01:39 am

"Don't think that love,
in order to be genuine,
has to be extraordinary.
What we need is to love
without getting tired.
Be faithful in small things
because it is in them
that your strength lies."

   
I'm still processing this quote I found tonight. I think it's actually an amalgamation of two quotes from Mother Teresa. I totally get the "love without getting tired." It's probably exhausting to love me at times. I've certainly been in relationships where loving the person (or trying to) took everything I had. Of course, "love without getting tired" could be a little misleading. It could suggest that love is easy. Although falling into love doesn't necessarily require any effort at all, staying in love sometimes does.

The part I'm getting hung up on is that love doesn't have to be extraordinary to be genuine. Typing it out, it does sound pretty profound and pretty accurate. Maybe my problem is that I don't want it to be true. I want true, genuine love to be extraordinary. I want it to stand out from everything else we encounter in life. I want skyrockets.

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Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: Train horns from the rail yard

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Sat, May. 14th, 2011 01:57 am

"I wanna get lost in some corner booth in a Cantina in Mexico.

I want to dance to the static of an AM radio.

I want to wrap the moon around us -- lay beside you skin on skin.

Make love 'til the sun comes up and 'til the sun goes down again."

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Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: Oh, Tonight / Josh Abbott Band

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Sun, Apr. 3rd, 2011 11:17 pm

Well it's a winding road when you're in the lost and found.
You're a lover, I'm a runner and we go 'round and 'round.
I love you but I'll leave you. I don't want you but I need you.
You know it's you who calls me back here, baby...



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Current Mood: bored aloof
Current Music: NetFlix: City of Angels

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Fri, Jan. 28th, 2011 07:21 pm

Yesterday, I found myself babysitting a fire alarm system in a building under construction. The system was hell bent on activating once every eight minutes -- almost on the dot. There was no fire. There was no smoke. But if we'd left it in the shape it was in, we would have been dispatched for a fire alarm every eight minutes. It just didn't seem like the best use of the fire department.

So, while we were waiting on telephone calls from the owner and the alarm company, I wandered about the property. I usually keep a small camera in my pocket when I'm at work. No one seems to mind the fireman taking pictures of things as long as I'm discreet about it. During my wandering, I found the pool and heeded the warning. I didn't jump.


No diving.
No diving.
You could hurt your head... Or, it would seem, step on a nail.


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Current Mood: disappointed distracted

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Tue, Jan. 25th, 2011 11:35 am

I don't know about where you're at... But around here, we've had a little absenteeism problem with the Sun. He's got a pretty good gig in January. The days are short. It's not like we're asking a lot to begin with. Pop up before 8am. Sneak out before 6pm. But no, this cat doesn't even have the decency to do that much for us. We get long nights and short, cloudy days instead. It takes a lot of Jimmy Dean to overcome that.

Sunday, however, was an exception to the rule. The sun came out -- for most of the day, even -- and I dropped my indoor projects and headed out. Most of my errands were inconsequential, but were more enjoyable with a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sky. The highlight of my afternoon was some quality time in the local national cemetery.

I imagine most national cemeteries are special places to visit. I like ours because it's squeezed in between the interstate, the ghetto and some medium industrial areas -- an oasis, if you will. The first graves were dug in the middle of the civil war for union soldiers. Twenty years, later, they dug up the confederates from another cemetery and moved them in, too. They've been joined by veterans from every war & skirmish since.

There is one area where you can stand among graves from the 1860s and see the tall buildings from downtown on the horizon. I can't help but wonder what those ol' boys would think if they could climb out and take a look around. The cemetery wasn't even in the city back then... And now, it's so deep in town that you can't see the city limits from there. A lot has changed in 150 years. Meanwhile, I live on a street where very little has changed in the last 70 -- except for the size of the trees. It's the not knowing how it's all going to end that makes it worth living, ain't it?

Cemetery
Contrails over the cemetery
Walking among the rows of stones is beneficial in all sorts of ways. Obviously, you gain a lot of respect for people and the sacrifices they made. You learn history. (Did you know there was a Battle of Dutch Harbor, Alaska in 1942? Shame on me. I didn't.) And you learn of the burden that so many have endured just from their given names. (Durward? Panayiotis? And Adolph? Of course, the latter was probably fashionable until WWII. Poor fellows all of them. RIP.)


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Current Mood: relaxed relaxed
Current Music: Silence.

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fletch31526
fletch31526
Thomas Fletcher
Thu, Dec. 23rd, 2010 02:52 am

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

That little rhyme was one of many my mother recited to me when I was a small lad. The first five and a half lines were always spoken in sing-song sort of way. When she got to the word "horrid," my mom always scrunched up her nose and changed her voice dramatically -- almost witch-like. These two syllables delivered in such a way would make the two of us laugh as hard as possible for much longer than it took to say the rhyme. Even though I knew it was coming, hearing her say it suddenly became the funniest thing in the world to me.

That's a nice little memory for me to hold on to... but it's one that I hadn't thought about in many years. It all came back to me tonight because I was thinking that I could sum up the past year (and the year before that, too) in much the same way. When 2010 was good, it was very good indeed. When it was bad, it was horrid. Unless something changes in the next eight days, however, the good has far outweighed the horridness. I'll take that.

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Current Mood: sick nasally congested
Current Music: Silence (it's golden, you know)

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