Business advice for small businesses

List of advice for your small business:

 

1.) If you have extremely high turnover with employees than it might be you and not the employees.

2.) If all of your employees complain about you than it might be you.

3.) If distributors force product on you blindly without your consent than you deserve to lose money.

4.) If you don’t pay your taxes, you deserve to have a lien placed on your business.

5.) If there is no standard operating procedure for the job requirement than you cannot enforce rules that are made up on the spot.

6.) You cannot accuse people of stealing via rumors and not fact.

7.) You cannot use facebook friendships as a way to charge employees with not have integrity.

8.) You cannot respond to yelp reviewers by threatening them.

9.) You cannot bad mouth employees in front of other employees.

10.) You cannot deduct hours from workers on their timecards because you don’t believe that they were working that hard during that time.

 

Review of Series Finale of Dexter

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first discovered Dexter I thought I had found the holy grail of television shows that I could sink my teeth into. I loved the dual relationship that Dexter felt within himself. I bought all of the dark passenger stuff. I felt sorry for Dexter as he traveled throughout his day attempting to connect with other human beings. Ten days a year (before my morning coffee) I feel the same way. I bought all of the nonsense about Lumen (Julia Stiles) a few years ago. I even bought the story line where one of the characters was dead for 90 percent of the season which in and of itself should have kept me away. I celebrated a small victory for mankind when John Lithgow entered the Dexter world (season 4). I believe that season 4, with the death of Rita (spoiler alert of four years ago) the show peaked. After season 4 the series took a nose-dive into a large pool full of herpes infested sharks. The characters were poorly drawn out and the storylines were awful. I am not sure how their writing staff got paid for these years. Showtime should pull those checks because on more than a few occasions the show was un-watchable.

While I have/ had my reservations about the show I continued to watch it every week. I watched it hoping that somehow the ship would auto-correct, that somehow the Dexter world would make sense and they would go back to the source material of Jeff Lindsey but for some reason they kept plugging away at nonsense storylines and completely absurd dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

Another reason that I felt distance from the show is the character Deb. I never enjoyed or found any connection to the character Deb. I also think that the actress that plays Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is dog faced and makes me want to vomit. Her voice sounds like nails on a chalk board and her down syndrome type facial expressions exude an inner disappointment in me that honestly makes me want to throw her off a bridge in a bag full of tar.

Her conversations with Dexter, at times, have been written with a sincere tone but J-Carpenter delivers them with all the humanity of Darth Vader at a cast party for Mad Men. Needless to say I think that J-Carp should have her ticket to Hollywood revoked and should be waiting tables at a Ruby Tuesday’s in Omaha.

Pull the air tube out of her mouth please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all of that being said, I still watched the show. I still waited for a new episode with all of the fervor of one of Pavlov’s dogs, seemingly drooling on myself.

One week I would be engaged with the show and the next week I would feel completely disconnected from it.

When Deb finally found out that Dexter was a serial killer her reaction was completely unconvincing as she worked with some weird private investigator. Somehow she pushed her nonsense crap acting onto the screen (yes, I am still angry at her crap acting) and eye raped me for the entire run of the show.

Needless to say, in the series finale the story was so forced and unnecessarily trite that once the last screen flashed I yelled out “well that was bullshit.”

Every Dexter fan should want to grab a protest sign and cancel their Showtime. The show limped its way into its finale with talks of moving to Argentina (cliche). It is one of the biggest cop outs for a show going into the series finale to move away. Why can’t there be another option? Why couldn’t the writers think of anything else rather than “I have an idea, he moves away into hiding” and all of the other writers are like “Johnny, that is brilliant. He moves away and he has a long beard at the end.”

Dexter could have been a classic show made for an intelligent audience but instead it turned into a bag of showtime crap covered in egg shells and shame.

Shame on you Showtime. Shame on you producers of Dexter.

Sneak peak

Here is a sneak peak at a book I have been working on:

I imagine that at some point in the future I will forget all about her. I doubt it though.  Until that point I will be stuck day-dreaming about touching her hands. Her hands were small but plump.  Her hands and feet were the only items that were plump on her.  When she smiled I would drown in her happiness.  I would lose myself in a sensationalized version of our lives together. In my mind we were Bonnie and Clyde. I wanted her to love me. I wanted to feel like her smile was designed specifically for me.  I doubt it though.

My day normally begins at 0645; I am stating military time because I find it more convenient than writing out PM or AM. In my opinion both AM and PM usage should be disregarded.  My alarm carries a soothing but firm tone, one in which I feel welcomes me to a new day without any kind of judgment.  What I mean by that is that my alarm clock signifies the life that I want to live not the life I currently live.

My first name is Bert. It is not short for Robert or Roberto. I was literally named Bert. I hate it.  Bert is not a name for a distinguished gentleman. No one ever introduces the Duke of Earl and then says “oh, yes that is Duke Bert.”

While my first name represents a Greek tragedy my last name leaves just as much to be desired.  My last name is Henson. Yes, my name is Bert Henson. You might be saying to yourself “how is the name Bert Henson such a bad name?” While initially the name seems reasonable the character of Bert on Sesame Street was created by Frank Oz and Jim Henson. When people marry those two ideals they come up with an amazing assortment of jokes. It is not that I mind jokes. What really bothers me is repetition.

I have been introduced to people at parties in the following way “this is Bert, like the guy on Sesame Street.” Do you know how upsetting it can be to be associated with children’s programming your entire life? It unpleasant to say the least.

Despite my name I still moved forward in my life and attended a middling University right after High School. My college of choice was Washington State University; a University that is known for its partying. I was never invited to those parties.  I spent four years in a dorm room. One year with Calvin, who pealed skin off of his feet and then would eat the skin. That was interesting.  Two years with Joshua, who chained smoked and had an extremely respectable arsenal of male sexual partners that visited seemingly every day. In my senior year I had a split living situation for half of the year I lived with my girlfriend named April who was extremely attractive and subsequently left me for Joshua who miraculously turned bi-sexual for her. The second half of my senior year I lived with a friend named Shawn. Shawn was a sixth year senior who on the day of graduation had received three completely different Bachelor’s degrees.  Shawn went to medical school after undergraduate. He now performs rhinoplasty on celebrities and enjoys karate. You might have seen him on tv.

After I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English I was not sure what to do with myself.  I attempted to speak to my Father about it but he was a third shift Boeing worker who had not slept regularly in six years. Needless to say he was a walking zombie. His eyes were always blood shot and he seemed to always have a complete disconnection from people he spoke with. During one summer I asked him how he was and he answered “green.”

I finally realized that people who graduate college with a degree in English are either going to be extremely well-written while filling out their unemployment application or need to achieve a Master’s degree. I took the GRE and applied to University of Washington in Seattle.  My parents wanted me to be closer to them and since my family home is located in Auburn it seemed like a logical choice. For the next two years of my life I lived in a studio apartment in Seattle. My studio apartment nearly cost as much as the full amount of financial aid I was receiving. Subsequently I had to work a part-time job for the campus as an academic advisor. It was a struggle but after two years I owed the government nearly one-hundred thousand dollars but had a piece of paper that stated Master’s degree.

While I was in graduate school I met a young lady named Sandy who broke my heart in two. I wore a lot of black after we broke up. I also wrote a ton of poetry that seemed as though a young thirteen year old girl wrote it.

After graduate school I applied to the school board and ended out teaching 8th grade English in a Junior High School in Federal Way. On my teacher’s salary, if I lived at the poverty level, I should be able to pay off my college loans in twenty-six and a half years.  That is if I stay single and decide to never have children. I have never been truly happy.

***

Teaching 8th grade English is a lot like being a zoo keeper. I corral the herd to sit at their seats while I take attendance. I put some vocabulary words on the board and I give them a test every Friday.  More specifically, on Monday we discuss twenty words. On Tuesday we take a quiz on the words. On Wednesday we have a word find/ puzzle with the words. On Thursday we write short stories with the words and on Friday we test. I have now been performing these same tasks for five years. Meanwhile, I find myself chipping away literally dollars at a time at my student loans. I still feel as though I am suffocating under a mountain of debt. I once had a dream about the debt chasing me as I was running after an attractive woman. I am sure that the dream was a direct reflection of my life. I am chasing some kind of happiness but I can’t find it without being out from under the debt of my past.

I take special interest in some students; that is if the student shows talent in writing or is some kind of sports hero for the school.  It is not exactly special interest it is more of an actual conversation. I am sure, in a way, I am turning into my father which is extremely disappointing. On the surface I should be pleased with what life has dealt me. On the surface I should be happy with the new girl that I met online but I carry a dark cloud with me.

The dark cloud usually rears its head when I think that happiness might be around the corner. How does the dark cloud manifest itself? I will give you an example, I found twenty dollars in my dress pants one day, I was extremely happy about having what I considered a free twenty in my life. Three hours later my cat died. I had that cat for ten years. I loved that cat.

“Mr. Henson?” April Smelling asked while attempting to hand me a piece of paper.

“Yes, April?”

Reflections

For the few that are unaware, I have been to Iraq four times. I don’t say that as a badge of honor or some kind of accomplishment because it really isn’t an accomplishment, it is essentially the results of either good decisions or bad decisions that I have made in my life.

Initially I joined the military because I was in a marriage that I was not happy with and I projected out the future and it looked bleak. I joined in July of 2001. I subsequently was in basic training on September 11th, 2001.

In 2003 I was sent to Iraq; twice. Once at the beginning of the year and than again towards the end of the year. I finally got out of the Army (or so I thought), in 2005. In 2007 I was called back in via a strange loophole that somehow forced me into the US Army reserves and I was sent to Iraq again.

I returned from Iraq (number 3) in 2008 and than in 2011 I joined a contracting company and went to Iraq for the fourth time.

Now onto the bigger point.

 

During my last deployment I worked night shift. I would spend hours in the middle of a large office listening to the nonsense bickering of a few people. I would normally let them ramble on because it kept me awake. On my time off I would watch clips on youtube or buy bootleg movies. On occasion the internet would carry enough signal to stream television shows off of hulu or netflix. Although, for the most part those sites were blocked.

The sleeping arrangements were a bit odd as we were issued rooms in large trailers with a shared bathroom. While we had our own rooms it was comparable to a small bedroom size. I had a desk, a chair, a wall locker and a bed. My only entertainment was my computer and kindle.

The smell that brings me back to my deployment (number 4) was the putrid odor of human feces being pumped out of the large bins. The smell was completely unique and stomach turning.

On occasion I think about the nine months that I spent on my last deployment. I think about how for about an hour a day I would find happiness in a book or while watching a television show.

On a particularly sad day I sauntered over to my room (trailer) with a gloomy almost suicidal weight on my shoulders. I searched for something/ anything to make me happy. I searched through all of my books and all of my bootleg dvds. I needed something to pull me out of the state I was in. I needed the burden of my life to be released. I just wanted to be away from everything. When I finally found something to watch I hoped that it would pull me out of the dark cloud and it did. This video made me forget about the feces smell and my bum knee. It made me feel like I could keep going. I know it is silly but for one brief three minute window there was no Iraq and I was whole again.

 

Sometimes you get to meet cool people

Here is quite possibly the worst picture of me but an awesome picture of me with MARC MARON…… Who is Marc Maron? Only one of the best podcast hosts of all time. He is also a great comedian and knew some other great comedians that I loved like Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks.

 

Stephen McGill (me) and Marc Maron

Lovelace

Today we will be discussing the film Lovelace, which if I am not mistaken was initially offered to Lindsey Lohan. If the rumors are true that Lindsey Lohan was going to play Linda Lovelace it would have resulted in a very different film. Let me begin this review with a disclaimer; Peter Sarsgaard might be the best actor working in Hollywood today. Now that I got that out of the way let’s discuss this brilliant piece of film-making.

The title role is played by Amanda Seyfried who somehow transforms herself into a vulnerable porn star with a penchant for choosing the wrong man to be with. Her arc as a character is absolutely astounding. Whether it is the relationship she has with her Mother (played by Sharon Stone) or the conversation she has with her husband Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard) the subtle strokes of awkward naivety allows the audience to believe that her plight is not that of an ignorant person but that of a hopeful fairy attempting to find something missing in her heart.

Naturally her intrigue into the opposite sex roots from the desire to keep her husband happy; a common theme in the the 1970′s. However, it is this absolute belief that corners her into a world full of drugs, alcohol and sexual exploits.

Most of the male characters are full of absolute wickedness until a uneven and virtually awful rendition of Hugh Hefner is revealed. Hefner is played with all of the personality of a slug by the incredibly untalented James Franco who somehow keeps getting work despite his complete lack of an emotional or personal redeeming qualities.

While the real Linda Lovelace is even more layered than the film which derives its split personality from her book “Ordeal” I would recommend the film based on the exceptional work by the director/ writer who reveals a behind the scenes vignette which in turn makes the audience complacent in the overall transformation of Linda Lovelace from a porn star to a empowered women’s rights activist.

 

 

 

Oh how the years have changed me

2003 In Iraq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008 in Iraq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 in Iraq

 

Review of a play at the Shakespeare festival

Stephen McGill

July 21, 2011

Essay #1

Shakespeare Festival

 

Julius Caesar

     I once heard a curious theatergoer declare that she had seen many versions of Julius Caesar. I being that of curious mind and body encouraged her to elaborate on the yarn that she was in the middle of weaving. When she continued she explained her favorite version of Julius Caesar, it began with two sides of the stage marked by a rebel side and a conspirator side. She apparently had worked on the props and found them all to be cumbersome and wildly difficult to procure. Shortly thereafter I read the play and envisioned such action unfolding before my eyes, one scene in particular at the Senate where Caesars’ life was taken intrigued me. I viewed that scene as where the plot shifted from one type of story to another. If I was to re-write the play I would elongate the conspirator’s attempts at execution and end the play with the execution itself, but that as they say is neither here nor there.

The 2011 Shakespeare Festival featured the play Julius Caesar and I was thrilled to be able to finally have it presented in front of me by professionals, but as many plays decide on choices I was bamboozled by certain choices and pleasantly surprised by other.

My first concern was audience involvement. While audience involvement in certain plays may create an environment whereas the audience is brought closer into the story a sign, hand signal, for audience involvement in a Shakespeare play can be confusing and a bit off putting. Ideally the choice for a minimalistic stage should allow the actors to breathe life into the characters, however with boisterous clapping a wall was placed between the audience and the characters.

Ideally an emotional connection would be made with the characters at hand, however with a minimalist approach to the play and jubilation in the form of audience involved clapping detached the audience from the inner turmoil that should have come with the death of Caesar herself.

The most pleasing choice that I found in the play was that of Caesar being dead yet walking around whispering to Brutus which showed the complete loyalty to Caesar (played by a woman) yet a haunted nature in regards to the inner turmoil that Brutus felt. In the text itself it read as if Brutus was hearing voices, the choice to have Caesar to walk towards and around Brutus with white chalk on her hands created an atmosphere of great shame felt internally for Brutus.

Another example that fell short for me was the choice of position of chairs. The chairs presented an ease for the actors who would have had to stand off the stage in order to interject their voices into the scenes created a distraction that focused the attention from the stage to the audience, thus creating another disconnection from the characters themselves. Ideally, the characters would have been honored on the stage by their presence being shown as special.

When characters are held on stage but have little to no reason for being on the stage it devalues that action or weight of the character creating a lowered value for the character themselves. For example the presence of Caesar after death did empower the character due to the weight of the character labeling death onto the characters that fell. The interpretation overall was lacking in real character development and did a poor job of using the characters as real people, they seemed to be caricatures of themselves, for example Brutus who is supposed to be a massive warrior was played by an overweight out of shape actor which distracted from the character written by Shakespeare.

The one character that showed a complete connection with the audience was that of Mark Antony who was respected on the stage via his personal connection with the love of Caesar and not being pulled to a chair in order to add partial presence on the stage. The particular line of “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen, lend me your ears.” (Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 2) is arguably one of the more famous lines from the play Julius Caesar, it is spoken by Antony who opens the funeral of famous lead of the play with words that request the audience to pay attention and listen to the heartfelt words that he is to deliver. Mark Antony then famously enacts a crowd of fevered countrymen to avenge the death of their fallen hero.

One of my other major concerns for the play was that of jeans. While jeans may have played a part in later years it was not particularly popular in the time of Caesar, for me it was a major distraction.

All together the play fell short for me due to the forced jubilation and some of the attire, but overall the words were not to blame it was that of the choices made by the director.

Snippet of a story I was working on

 

 

It was June 2009, and I was standing in front of a full-length mirror studying my body.

What I saw didn’t please me. My eyes were deep with wrinkles and lines, while my knuckles were raw from scratching at the walls; vacant and deathly white chunks of skin, I realized with a certain amount of terror, were forever scarred by my escapades. It was very depressing.

 

“You’re an athlete,” I told myself. “You’re a celebrity. They know you all over, nationally and internationally. Too many people know you. You rarely have any peace and quiet.” I forgot my point. I imagine I was trying to motivate myself but it was all falling miserably short of any pep talk I had ever heard. Mostly because I looked like a hobo.

My shoulders slouched as if I were an elderly person. I felt a tinge of the world ending in front of me. What had turned out to be a small point of concern had become a tear in my arm, the arm that was supposed to save me, had failed me. My life had become an existence that I was becoming less and less familiar with.

 

I saw the beginning of liver spots forming on my face; I imagined a life that I had appreciated so little falling away from me like the cab that took my husband and kids away.  I searched for something presentable on my body but only found more disappointment when I curiously stared at my pot belly, as if it were an alien. I stared at it and then twisted my back and suffered the customary stab of pain in my coccyx, aggravated by passing out repeatedly on a soft mattress I was addicted to. The tendinitis in my shoulder throbbed.

 

My toe and finger nails were also a disgrace, permanently blackened by the toxins I had ingested thousands of times. They called it medicine, I called it poison. My asshole itched. My knees hurt. My toe-nails or what little was left of them were brittle and chipped, making them razor sharp and destructive. My ears were clogged by cotton I had stuffed in them to avoid the real world. So were my sinuses and for the same reason. Needless to say I was not thrilled with my state of being.

 

I walked away from the mirror and stumbled onto a table. The table collapsed under my mass with its contents spilled across the flooring of my room. I kicked a small potted plant out of the window that overlooked the courtyard. The broken glass fell conveniently outside. I raised my arms in celebration but my collarbone protested and I slowly lowered my arms.

 

The phone rang. I ignored it. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be sullen. I wanted to lick my wounds and allow the earth to engulf me. I punched the mirror for turning on me and bled on myself for thirty minutes. I bled the life blood of my existence out forever. I looked out the window and stared at the broken potted plant. I was broken also and for the same reason.

 

***

            My first day out of the rehabilitation center should have been happy times. It was supposed to represent a new freedom for me. It was supposed to represent a real change in lifestyle for me but I was nervous. I felt as though I had been birthed out into the world as an infant and could not wrap my mind around my own survival.  In a previous life I had an agent named Tom Phelps. Tom was the kind of guy that would sell a liver in order to get a television show green lit. He was the kind of guy that made deals for celebrities before he had the celebrity under contract. He was the ambulance chaser of agents. He also wore finely tailored suits and paid a limousine company to drive him around, even if he only needed to drive to the supermarket. I was his lone athlete.

 

“I got a call from the New Mexico Rangers, they want to know if you are available,” Tom said while greeting me at the golden arches entrance in front of the rehab center. I stared at him and then uttered “why?”

 

The limousine smelled of cocaine and prostitutes, a smell that followed Tom from location to location.

“I got your pages from the center, although I am not sure what to do with them.” Tom said.

“Didn’t you say that publishing my story would be good for my career?”

“I believe I said that it could potentially be good for your career.”

“I don’t understand the difference.”

“The difference is that if you staged a comeback while simultaneously published a tell- all book, that potentially you could make a good thing great. Thus the information of, I got a call from the Rangers.”

 

“I don’t know if I can lace it up again.”

 

“Then why am I here?”

 

“I thought you were here because you cared?”

 

“Is that really what you thought?”

 

“I suppose I did.”

 

“How long have we been together, seven or eight years now?”

 

“Are we talking good years or the years that I couldn’t get ahold of you?”

 

“Even if we threw those years out, it is still a significant amount of time.”

“Three good years but a total of seven.”

 

“The number is irrelevant at this point. The point is that I need you to lace it up if we are going to have any kind of relationship. I am here today to salvage your career. If you don’t want to salvage it I can leave.”
“What about the book?”

 

“I can get any sophomore in college to write a book. I don’t deal with books; I deal with real world economics. Books are……Do you want to be a Shakespeare or Nolan Ryan because those are two distinctly different paths.”

 

“I want to get better.”

 

“Are you looking for sympathy, because sympathy doesn’t drive a limo, sympathy takes the bus. If you want to take the bus you tell me, we can pull over.”

 

“How about a break?”

 

“You know who takes breaks? Old people. Are you old? Do you need a nap and a hot towel?”

 

I wanted to explain to him that I had peaked in life that my last game had been played but he stared at me with the eyes of a shark and I folded. I should have known better but the idea of being alone frightened me. I hadn’t been alone since I was in High School and High School had been many years prior. I said “I will sign with the Rangers.” Tom clapped his hands to himself, breathed a sigh of relief then said “Good, now I don’t have to kick you out of the car.”

 

***

            My first day in a Rangers uniform seemed odd. I felt ill prepared for a new team in a new city.  It was like the first day of school all over again and I was the new kid. The kid that rumor had it had been expelled from their previous school. I picked at my cleat for ten minutes while in uniform. My stomach turned. I didn’t want to cry. I missed my husband. I missed my daughters. I wanted to be held for hours on end by a parental figure.  I grabbed my cell phone out of my locker and dialed the last number I had on Phil. I waited for it to ring for the twentieth time since I left my rehab center. “We’re sorry; this number has been disconnected or is no longer in use.”

 

I stared blankly at the ground in front of me. I wanted to scream out but instead stared at my uniform. I looked at its buttons lined up the middle of my torso and read the name “Rangers” spelled out in large letters. A single tear dropped from my eye in between the “n” and the “g.”

 

I had worn a New York Bombers jersey for seven years and never thought that I would be on another team. I thought I would retire as the first female baseball player in a Bombers jersey. I thought I had rocked the system by pitching the team out of many “jams.” Their words not mine. I thought I had finally fought off all of the stereotypes for women within a male locker room. I suppose with my own personal bathroom and changing area I had upset many players in the Bombers locker room, but now with the Rangers I would have to start all over again. I would have to listen to the cat calls and back handed compliments all over.

 

The Rangers schedule seemed odd to me for some reason, mostly due to its complete opposition to the Bombers schedule. When the Rangers stretched, the Bombers would have been throwing. When the Rangers threw, the Bombers would have been warming up. I felt the slight tear at my arm with every throw. I felt a separation at the scar in my shoulder stretch and then compress.

 

My new pitching coach, Earl Thomas, was old. He reminded me of my maternal Grandmother who always called me a “tomboy.” Earl wouldn’t look me in the eyes when he talked me. “So what do you got there Reilly?” “What do you mean?” I responded softly.

 

“Well, you see I have a curve ball pitcher, a fast ball pitcher and a split ball pitcher. What do you do?”

 

“I pitch a sinker, a fastball and a curve.”

 

“Let me see your fastball.”

 

I pulled my arm back and flung the ball towards the awaiting catcher. I looked at Earl for support but received his catch phrase in substitute, “not good enough.”

 

Earl walked away while I caught the ball from the catcher.  From what I had heard of Earl, he never smiled. I knew I was out of shape and I didn’t deserve a smile though. My fast ball which had once been clocked at ninety-two now barely clocked in at eighty-six.  While six miles per hour seemed to some to be insignificant to the game it was the difference between making the team and staying home.

 

Some people say home is where the heart is and other people say that home is that warm place in your heart that all of your hopes and dreams live. I thought about my home or lack thereof and stood in silence. The world’s noises filled my ears with chatter from other players and the silence footsteps of squirrels prancing around the outfield beyond the fence. I took it all in and processed it. What did it all mean? What was I doing here? How had I become thirty-three years old and burnt out?

***

The year was 2000 and I was the number one starting pitcher for the University of Arizona Wildcats softball team.  I pitched underhand with an enlarged windup and a two-step shift from left to right delivery. The manager of the team had once called me “The best pitcher on the team with the worst mechanics.” I took it as a compliment but I am sure that it was some kind of insult.  I liked my delivery I thought it was clean and well prepared.

What I lacked in technique I made up with sheer determination as I struck out an average twelve batters a game. Most of the girls in college were free swinging on and off the playing field. The running joke at the beginning of every year was that our clean-up hitter would be pregnant before the first game of the season, but each year she made it through it while sleeping around, or at least the rumor was that she slept around. I couldn’t keep up with her antics. It all seemed reasonable to me as she had lost her father in the first Persian Gulf War.

 

My father, John Reilly, was extremely proud of me as he had saved a large sum of money for my sister Debra and I to go to college when he found out that I had earned a scholarship, he immediately bought himself a Porsche. It was repossessed six months later.

 

Debra Reilly was not as lucky as I was. She didn’t have the grades to go to college and my parents didn’t have the money to send her. So she ended out joining the military. It all seemed a bit odd to me but after two years in the service she had her first child and then a year after she had her second, but she was happy with her military husband, Hank.

February 3, 2008 (Email from Baghdad, Iraq)

Due to boredom or sincere hatred of being stuck in such a ridiculous location, my friends and I have turned on each other.  It is not a nasty rivalry; it is more of a playful fun way of jabbing at each other.  Believe me we all have respect for each other, but it gets a little dull being polite to these jokers, hence tomfoolery ensues. One recent action left one of buddies in a close to tearful state. In began with him leaving his notebook unsecured and his girlfriends phone number on the front page, well the rest of the section and I took it upon ourselves to lift said number from said notebook and may or may have not called said friends girlfriend while said friend was in another office attempting to fix a machine.  In order to mend this bridge we may have called him while his girlfriend was on speakerphone so they could talk to each other. However, every time we called him and attempted to connect him to his lady friend he hung up.  We eventually decided to tell his girlfriend that he did not want to talk to her.  I am sure that they will break up soon which is really convenient because we already have her phone number.

Every Saturday we play a wonderful impromptu game of volleyball, one in which the whole battalion is involved in. usually we all just pick a side and start playing, but if a larger group of people show up we end out picking team via two captains. It reminds me a lot of elementary school, how we would all line up and be picked by our skill set in the event we would be participating in. Somehow I would always be picked either last while getting the bitter beer face made towards me or I would be picked in the top tier of the grouping while being teased the whole game for my inadequate play.  A recent event in volleyball left us all with a wonderful story that we all will remember. One of the players on my team was going for the ball but the ball kept drifting over her head so she attempted to move out of the way to allow the CSM who was behind her to get it, however the CSM stood his ground without attempting to react towards the play, possibly in anticipation for his teammate calling the ball.  Our crowning achievement was the next moment though.  In the next instant the ball decided it was on a one way course to the crotch of our highest enlisted soldier.  It hit with such force that it bounced off of his crotch as if there was a metal plate sewn into his pants.  He stood his grown though while everyone laughed their asses off.  I am still laughing and it has been two days.

I have learned many things during this deployment, one of the more recent lessons learned I received from a commercial that played during the SUPERBOWL.  We are not graced with the wonderful commercials that the SUPERBOWL normally plays because we view television through the Armed Forces Network, meaning we are force fed Army re-enlistment, Army Equal Opportunity and or thanks from any random number of pseudo celebrities who put on a fake smile and thank us for accomplishments that they know nothing about.  The point being that one of the commercials during the SUPERBOWL that played was about taking care of your baby, more specifically not shaking your baby. Now I have been shaking babies for a long while now, but when this played I learned my lesson, no more baby shaking for me.  I will just go back to playing with matches in the house and smoking while filling up my car with gasoline.

It has been a few days but my knee is still tender from an unfortunate rendezvous with a concrete slab. That slab hasn’t called me back either and that really bothers me.  I have been rubbing it with icy hot in an attempt to be able to bend it; however this medicated rub has only worked as a temporary fix so far.  The timing could not have been worse, I was all excited to run a 10K but alas my 10K was not meant to be.  When I woke up the morning of the run I could not bend my knee at all and felt the bruising raise up into the middle of thigh.  I have decided that I need to go to sick call and have it looked at by a Doctor who I cannot sue for malpractice. What a wonderful world of incompetence we live in sometimes. The Doctors of the Army are well known for their flow chart use, when I was active duty I actually had a Doctor tell me, he was serious at the time, “You either have a common cold or psoriasis”.  I am not the smartest person but I am pretty sure that psoriasis is a skin condition. It reminds me off an old riddle, what do you call a doctor who graduates last in Medical school?  Doctor.