March 3, 2012


I remember waking up and not really knowing where I was.

Seeing the square grid of the overhead bunk’s undercarriage wasn’t helping much. The snoring in a corner of the metallic cave gave a clue…


…any minute now a mostly hairless Smokey the Bear (hat, and all) was going to burst into these old barracks at the top of Tank Hill and bellow his ass off about everything and nothing. My body had honed the ability during Basic to always wake up a few minutes before “the alarm” went off (I do not use alarm clocks to this day) in order to avoid the stark indignation of such bawdy rudeness. Sure and soon enough, the cold and dark became the cold and bright, complete with canned brew-ha-ha to reassert the pecking order.

I slipped out of bed and into BDUs. I quickly made my bed such that you could bounce a baby’s ass off of it, or however the saying goes. This was made much easier by another new ability to sleep in a certain cocoon-like way, enabling me to slip in and out of one side and hardly disturb the envelope’s corners. A few tightenings and tucks, and it is expeditiously to specification.

I remember how we spilled out of the barracks into the dark morning like ants, milling around in little circles before eventually lining up to march out into the big open field with the rest of the company for PT. Push-ups, sit-ups, mountain-climbers, windmills. Windmills…

I remember this day because we were doing little windmills, which consisted of holding your arms straight out and drawing little circles.


Just like in the old days of football practice. And they would push you past your point of exhaustion, when you just couldn’t hold your arms up anymore.

This time I snapped. This was Satori Day. I refused to drop my arms. My shoulders went from aching, burning…to numb. My acoustic output went from grunting, growling…to laughter. Maniacal, “Eureka!” laughter, as if I had just discovered the absurdity of all this AND the ability to detach from it. The drill sergeant gave me a wary look, trying to determine if they had just lost or gained another one. I just looked him in the eye. (“Yeah man, I’m cool…”)

Which reminded me of a time with my Dad on our (his) sailboat, years before. I think it was the Catalina 22, but I’m not sure. He needed to move it from John’s Island to the marina downtown, and had apparently waited until the last moment. It was a cold, stormy day and Dad recruited my help, with Mom handling end-to-end, land transportation.

We started out dankly plodding along well enough, but we lost the wind cover from the trees where the Stono River turns south, approaching the Wappoo Cut. The cold rain slipped at an insidious angle. The wind whipped the waves up to wuthering heights. The boat began dipping her nose underwater like a duck, washing even colder water down her flanks. Keen, cold, and clammy, we approached the narrow side channel.

A fair amount of the funnel entrance to the Wappoo Cut was solidly fortified by steep cement walls at its banks. This served to convert the inertia of an already turbulent mass of flowing fluid into heightened states of chaos, amplitude, momentum, physiological chemistry, and psychic energy. As we approached, I went from uncomfortable, scared…to suddenly more detached and amused. I managed a bit a maniacal, sarcastic chuckle through chattering teeth. I glanced over to Dad, he glanced back with a sly smile. (“Yeah Dad, I’m cool…”)

Which reminded me of the time we were fishing on Lake Moultrie, years before. It was one of those days when we’re all out in our ski and/or fishing boat. I’m a kid. The sky is endless, and the lake is fathomless.

In all the days we spent in and around the lake, we never actually caught a lot of fish. So when Dad hooked one that day, it was an exciting moment. He worked and reeled it inward. It finally thrashed at the surface beside the boat, quickly going limp in apparent shock at the sight of this thinner world. When I reached down to grab the bass by its large mouth like I’d seen Bill Dance do, my touch awoke the fish from his trance. He instinctively jerked back and forth. I instinctively jerked my hand back toward my body. And then…he was gone. I remember looking over and seeing the disappointment on my Dad’s face…

But that was a long time ago. Back when I used to wake up in my own bed and not really know where I was, at first…

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12 Comments on “Three…”

  1. Steve Mitchell Says:

    Heh, one of our TI’s (the Air Force version of DI’s) told us he sees us carefully squirming out of our half-made bunks in the mornings. “You all look like a bunch a’ lizards hatching . . .”


    • Brett Myers Says:

      Ha! That sounds pitch perfect, Steve. Hey, did you guys end up having to throw some guy in the shower eventually, after he wouldn’t take one for days and days?


      • Steve Mitchell Says:

        Luckily not. But, when I was permanent party, I knew a guy in the barracks whose roommate stopped showering for some inexplicable reason. He refused to shower no matter the complaints. I once caught a whiff and ohh my God! It wasn’t a human scent. It was horrific. It was industrial and chemical. It was putrid and caustic.

        Eventually, the First Shirt had to get involved.


  2. kateshrewsday Says:

    Great post. I hate the realisation of where I am, if it’s the wrong kind of day.
    I guess we can’t stay at peaks of negative emotion like fear for long. Something else in us always takes over.


    • Brett Myers Says:

      I really should get better at responding to comments in a timely fashion. I think I became a bit jaded to it early on when it seemed that no one noticed anyway. Anyhoo…

      Now I come full circle and do what I did as a kid. Drum up some good superhero music in my head and pretend I’m a spy or ninja or… 🙂


  3. Eden Says:

    I like the way each memory flows from one place to the next, to the next… It’s like that. If something is too insane, we look for something to force ourselves to find focus in it.


  4. The Hook Says:

    Very cool flow to this post; awesome!



  1. Tuesday Snippet and Talk on a Walk « Many Worlds From Many Minds - March 27, 2012

    […] I do this.  Thoughts wander.  (Brett Myers over at Surface Nuisance actually wrote an amazing piece about how thoughts wander a few weeks back.  Well worth the detour [or opening in a second browser Window/Tab for later […]

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