The year started off with a bang and cough.
The bang was me flying to Washington DC to attend the retirement ceremony of ASTMC James Brandt. Jimi and I attend Rescue Swimmer School years ago, when it was run by the Navy at Pensacola and was known as the “second toughest school in the Navy.” He and I were, respectively, USCG Rescue Swimmer 60 and 62. I never saw Jimi after RS School, and after my next tour of duty, left the Coast Guard to follow a different path. Jimi stayed in for 30 years and became the Master Chief Rescue Swimmer of the Coast Guard. I was quite touched when he asked me to come to his retirement.
My other Coast Guard buddy, Jay Duchnick (we were roommates in Aviation Survival Man School, which was the first part of becoming a Rescue Swimmer), met me in DC. When we saw Master Chief Brandt, it was like we hadn’t been apart for more than a week. I don’t know about Jay, but as guy who’s moved around, left a lot of places behind (and returned to very, very few), it was a strange, humbling, and thrilling experience. We’d been in the crucible; younger, stronger, more hair…and we remembered each other. You see how somebody is at their core when you’re in the fire and the heat and grinding pestle of a life and death reality. We saw and we knew each other still. It was grand.
The cough part of the New Year was from my wife and oldest son, who have been fighting a hell of a bug. They were sick when I left, sick when I got back three days later, and my wife is still really ill, but making a valiant effort to go into work. Her sense of service is no less strong than mine was when I was jumping out of helicopters. I saved a person or two at time, but she makes a difference in scores of lives every day as the Director of a Charter School in the hood of one of the poorest cities in California. (Editorial Correction: I’ve been informed San Bernardino is the second poorest city in the Nation. Only Detroit is in worse shape.)
Anyway, with all of that (plus a short touch of a cold myself), my writing hadn’t moved into high gear yet this year. Today, though, was the day. I’m working on the first chapter of Lonesome George 2 (LG2, for short) and it really sang. I got through 10 pages, almost to the end of the chapter with the help of my lovely assistant (above), BabyKat. She’s no pushover, note the steely eyes. It was a good day’s work.
Liberty Island Media will soon be on line, featuring two of my short stories. I’m excited to share that with you, too, and I’ll have more information about that soon.