Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

This is the third in a series of 21 essays on the 21 precepts of the DOKKODO, the final writing of Miyamoto Musashi, completed about a week before his death in 1645. He wrote these precepts as a dying gift to the most talented of his pupils. More than a treatise on swordsmanship, it was intended as a final statement on his life and his philosophy of living as a man, a warrior, and a ronin. In these essays, I approach the DOKKODO as a man, a warrior, and, yes, a ronin, in these early years of the 21st century.

In THE COMPLEAT GENTLEMAN, Brad Miner tells us that a gentleman should hold his own beliefs, his own code so dear that when the time comes to give his life for what he believes, it should appear he cast it away as though it meant nothing to him. That is how action appears when one depends on a belief that is complete, whole. One can put everything one is into action and proceed without hesitation.

This isn’t always possible. Not every believe we hold is so complete, so whole that we can act on it so decisively.

Is Musashi advising us to only act when you’re absolutely certain of your reasons, the environment, the adversary, the desired outcome? This would be impossible and would leave us trapped in inaction while we constantly gathered new information and re-examined our beliefs.

What Musashi is advising us here is that one can rely on and act so decisively only on whole feelings, complete information. But when we are required to act on partial feelings, information and commitments we recognize are imperfect and incomplete, we must not depend on the course such feeling would insist on without being prepared to alter that course when we learn the feeling or incomplete belief we are acting on is wrong.

When considering this precept, its important to keep in mind the idea that any “partial feeling” must also include its opposite. A partial feeling that a man is trustworthy admits to a partial feeling that the same man is not trustworthy. Neither of those feelings can then possibly be relied upon.

I, personally, have many times watched the failure of my plans and thought, “I saw that coming” or “I knew…” or better, “I should have known…” This is the after effect of relying on a partial feeling. When we are genuinely mistaken, failure comes as a surprise.

Following this precept then requires that we take upon ourselves two habits. We must examine our beliefs closely. We must know what we believe utterly (and hope it reflects the first precept’s admonishment to accept things exactly as they are) and what beliefs we cannot commit to wholly. An incomplete belief, whether moral or concerning the nature of things, need not be abandoned, but it must be recognized as only partial.

I have a pretty solid conviction that the US Constitution is the most perfect political document. It is only “pretty solid” and not “absolute” because I do not know the details of most other governments (I am not terribly interested in political theory) and because the romantic in me wants a monarchy while the rebel in me wants anarchy. I also recognize that the constitution hasn’t been a meaningful part of how our government works for over a hundred years.

My decision to enlist in 1985 was not fueled by patriotism. Enlistment is one of those “all or nothing” decisions a man makes in his life. You place yourself entirely in the hands of a system that openly admits it will risk or spend your life as it sees fit and expect you to obey. Doing so on the basis of a partial feeling of patriotism would be foolish.

I enlisted because I wanted to know the things soldiers know. I wanted the skill set that comes with being an infantryman in an army. I had no doubts about this. Had I been born in any other country, I would have still found myself in the army.

My feelings on the country are partial. My feeling on military service is not.

The second habit required when one holds incomplete beliefs is the adoption of contingency plans. Every plan the military makes considers the possibility that our understanding is incomplete. As a result, those plans contain clauses that “If we find this, we will do that.” When we hold partial feelings, we must have plans and provisions that come in to play when we discover which of the possibilities we half believed in is “things as they are.”

Again we are brought to the first precept. We discussed there acceptance that we will always have blind spots and errors in our understanding. But we are resolved to accept things as they are no matter how inconvenient that is to our self image or our view of the world.

Likewise, when our feelings are partial or incomplete, we must consider how we will act when reality comes down on one side or the other and reality makes one belief complete. We must have contingency plans. “Trust, but verify.” Be prepared when one verifies our trust was given in error, act on the way things are, not on that fiction our trust hoped for.

General James Mattis gave us a good rule to follow: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

We are obliged by the human condition to act on impartial feelings. I suspect most men are good and mean well for their fellows. But I always carry myself as if among secretive enemies. I cannot rely on my suspicion that men are good and let my guard down, exposing those I love to the wrath or opportunity of those few corrupt souls.

Start where you stand. With the first precept we analyzed our beliefs and our understandings. Now we must acknowledge that we must be prepared for the unpleasantness of learning that our worst suspicions might be the reality we live in. Especially examine and test your own capabilities and refuse to depend on anything but the most solid proof that you are physically, mentally prepared to walk the way alone.

Advertisements

This is the second in a series of 21 essays on the 21 precepts of the DOKKODO, the final writing of Miyamoto Musashi, completed about a week before his death in 1645. He wrote these precepts as a dying gift to the most talented of his pupils. More than a treatise on swordsmanship, it was intended as a final statement on his life and his philosophy of living as a man, a warrior, and a ronin. In these essays, I approach the DOKKODO as a man, a warrior, and, yes, a ronin, in these early years of the 21st century.

When Musashi wrote these precepts, he wasn’t writing for all of us. He wasn’t writing for you and me. He was writing for one student; Terao Magonojo. He wasn’t writing for shopkeepers who attend a martial arts class twice a week. He was writing for a student who would face death every time he drew his weapon and was depending on that “Way” as his path to enlightenment and salvation.

For Musashi and for the warrior-monk, prowess is part of the path to salvation. If you study a martial art that ends in -do (Aikido, Judo, Karatedo, Hwarang-Do) then you should understand that “-do” means way in the exact same manner that “Dharma” means way. Among the Hindus of the classic age it was recognized that each caste had its own dharma. What was right for the Brahmin might not be right for the Ksatriya.

When Musashi says “the Way” he is referring to this concept. The Way of the Sword. The Way of Walking Alone.

That said, perhaps it is important to ask whether every man has a duty as a warrior to train and study and think upon these things as though he, too, were facing extinction at every moment. Perhaps our shopkeeper needs to keep death in his mind at all times, prepared for the robber who lies in wait when he locks his shop at night. In picking up this slender volume of essays, in reading even once THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, we have committed to being students of the Way and students of that psychotic swordsman.

So, we do not seek pleasure for its own sake as our teacher taught us.

Note that Musashi does not say, “Do not seek pleasure.” He says do not seek pleasure “for its own sake.”

As a warrior, even a warrior who spends his time as a shopkeeper or a doctor or a carpenter, it is necessary to put training and fighting ahead of everything else. Those two arenas must occupy all of our time. By fighting, I don’t necessarily mean a physical struggle. Sitting here at this laptop writing these words is fighting. Reading about how better to push my ideas into the world is training.

But if we lift for two hours a day, and train jujitsu for two hours a day and have 40 hour a week jobs, that leaves about 72 hours a week for study and recreation. We have families, children, who are owed far more time than we seem to have to give them.

My point isn’t that our lives are too busy to train. You’re a warrior, training should be a given, sleep and work might be questionable. My point is that we have SO much time for recreation that we need to ask whether we are using that time as we should or whether we are merely killing time by seeking pleasure for its own sake.

Training and constant vigilance require energy. There’s nothing wrong with recharging your batteries by playing guitar and drinking a few beers with your brothers. There’s nothing wrong with eating delicious food. There’s nothing wrong with sitting in a room lit only by the TV watching a show with your fingers in your wife’s hair allowing the day to decompress.

When I get a pizza and sit alone in the back of my truck, eating too many carbs and undoing the work accomplished that morning at the gym, I am indulging in pleasure for the sake of pleasure. When I take my youngest son to Chuck E Cheese and eat an even less healthy pizza (and drink soda) the purpose of our pleasure is bonding over video games and the accumulation of tickets to be exchanged for plunder. It is, in effect, training time for two warriors as we throw skee-balls and gun down aliens.

No form of recreation…provided it doesn’t undo your training…is unhealthy or unnecessary provided it is done always with an eye toward your role as a warrior.

I play Dungeons and Dragons with my sons. We play Minecraft on XBox. There are few activities that I would condemn out of hand as never having any benefit. Smoking, perhaps. The use of dangerous recreational drugs. This precept only condemns those pleasures that claim our time and our strength and benefit no one. And we are surrounded by such pleasing vices.

This, then, becomes the vital point for the ronin in the 21st Century, pleasure and recreation must be seen in the context of furthering your aims as a warrior whether those aims are that you support and defend your family or the perfection of prowess for its own sake. If it does not increase the harmony you feel within and without, it must be cast away no matter how good it feels.

For my own part, I struggle with this precept constantly. I want Pepsi and tacos…that aforementioned pizza. I recently examined my life, the amount of time I wasted when I should be training or fighting and made the decision to live outdoors. I have been able to put more money into my business ideas, have been more diligent about training and nutrition, but best of all, I have rediscovered the pleasure of waking up to the sky after a night spent falling asleep under the stars.

I have an infinite access to pleasures…but none of them exist for their own sake now. It becomes obvious to me now that the pleasure I chase for its own sake is always a vice.

Start where you sit. Consider the comforts you are surrounded by now. How many are essential? How many actually further your development and how many somehow hold you back? How many of the pleasures you indulge in serve no purpose beyond that pleasure? If you stripped away those pleasures that are actually innocent seeming hedonisms, would you have more time and greater resources for the things that truly matter to you more?

If you recognize that you have pleasures that you cannot discard even though they hold you back, you have to examine whether these addictions are such that you willingly step away from the Way of Walking Alone. There will be legions who cannot follow this Dharma, this Do, this Way. Only you know if you are among them.

This begins a series of 21 essays on the 21 precepts of the DOKKODO, the final writing of Miyamoto Musashi, completed about a week before his death in 1645. He wrote these precepts as a dying gift to the most talented of his pupils. More than a treatise on swordsmanship, it was intended as a final statement on his life and his philosophy of living as a man, a warrior, and a ronin. In these essays, I approach the DOKKODO as a man, a warrior, and, yes, a ronin, in these early years of the 21st century.

The world is a dangerous place.

Confusion makes it a more dangerous place.

As I listen to a generation of women fed on the promises and assertions of “whatever wave” feminism and then find themselves victimized or witnesses to another’s victimization, I hear again and again that the world “should be” a certain way. Men should be different. A woman should be able to dance naked at the club, blackout drunk, and never be molested. But reality is that when a woman does that, bad things are likely to happen. Rejecting the reality that bad things happen does not protect our young feminist.

When a woman goes to a club or frat party where she knows no one and gets black-out drunk, she is relying on reality as it should be and refusing to accept things as they are. Is her subsequent rape her fault? Am I the only one who thinks she made poor choices and that poor choices almost always lead to disaster? To assert the truth that her rapist is solely responsible for his own decisions to commit atrocity doesn’t save her NOR does it provide a lesson that might save her sisters.

Accepting reality exactly as it is might.

Taking personal responsibility and accepting that one has a duty to maintain their own situational awareness requires that you accept the reality that the world can be dangerous and that your assertions about how the world “should be” are meaningless.

But even this assertion comes under attack in this age.

In May 2017, Nolan Bruner was sentenced to four months for a sexual assault. Its easy to agree that this absurd sentence should have been much greater for the crime of rape. The only lesson that might actually benefit women though is taboo to even discuss. His victim went to a party where she knew no one and there indulged in drugs with a man she did not know even AFTER he asked her for sex. To suggest that she should have not done these things, to suggest that she bears even the slightest responsibility for how her conduct and her decisions impacted what happened to her is itself criminal in the eyes of those who benefit from an agenda furthered by her victimization.

She was not only a victim to Nolan Bruner’s lust, but she was a sacrifice to that agenda and so is every girl and woman taught that she has no responsibility to accept the reality that her own safety is her own responsibility more than any others. Even today when this topic is discussed with many people, the reality that what she did was stupid and led to her assault is rejected.

As I write this, members of the US Olympic Gymnastic Team are at odds on social media over this issue. One athlete went public with her claim she was victimized, and one of her peers posted that “it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”

This was in response to a different assertion: “Just because a woman does a sexy photo shoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame her or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse. What is wrong with some of you? AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER. Women are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin, in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in. I will not put up with any woman or girl being shamed for wanting to wear a skirt, dress, etc. I do not tolerate it. Are we clear? Oh and one more thing. STOP VICTIM SHAMING. It is because of you that so many survivors live in fear.”

Now…in this instance let’s be clear: the victims were children; the assailant admits his guilt; victim shaming is always ALWAYS unnecessary and inappropriate. But this habit of labeling any comment as “victim shaming” has led to a situation where any consideration of how a bad situation might be avoided cannot possibly consider the duty of the individual to protect themselves.

You gain nothing when you scream, “Teach Boys Not To Rape!” You have no control over the actions of others. You have complete control over your own decisions. The first step, by no means the final answer, is to accept these things exactly as they are. THEN prepare to confront and resist.

Musashi exhorted his pupil to accept reality. The Modern Age exhorts us to refuse to accept reality and insist again and again on the “way things should be”, hoping that such stubborn insistence alone will create a new reality.

Such an attitude can only led to more victims.

It is the warrior’s responsibility to study and understand the world through which he moves. Before deploying two Iraq and Afghanistan, we were given classes on the worldview of the culture we were about to be immersed in. It wasn’t necessary that we agree. It wasn’t necessary that we adopt. It was necessary that we accept.

The most well-known example of such a cultural example is that residents of Iraq and A-Stan and much of the rest of the Middle East do nothing with their left hand. You and I might think it silly. We might think the reason for this habit is absurd. That doesn’t matter. If you want to get along with these people and secure their co-operation, you have to accept that they think WE are the ones lacking culture because we differ from them.

Those who marched in and insisted that we are the Americans and will do as we please without regard for our ally’s perception of the world were rejecting this reality; imagining they could force their understanding on their environment and refusing to instead work with the situation as it really was.

Sun Tzu advised us that we must understand terrain, our enemy and our self. Only a fool would insist that his army can advance into Russia and not accept the reality of weather. Only a fool would look at the lessons of the colonial wars and every war since and suggest that technology is ever a good substitute for a simple willingness to fight.

And only a fool fails to understand that getting old and fat make you less dangerous than you were at twenty.

Yet we find ourselves surrounded by men who refuse to accept that exactly as it is.

To not accept this reality exactly as it is and begin to counter and slow the degenerative effects of age by remaining focused on fitness and training is the exact sort of mistake we discussed above.

The warrior doesn’t have time to waste confronting fantasy or making excuses. He doesn’t wish his enemy were a better man who had no vices and sought only peace. He understands that all efforts to diplomacy must be rooted in the reality of their present enmity and accompanied by a willingness to destroy rather than become extinct himself. He doesn’t wish his terrain were easier and his allies identical to him. He packs light, he packs warm, and he smiles when his allies need to see him smile. He doesn’t think a new M4 and body armor, stockpiles of food and ammo, and a weekend camping weigh his disorganized militia constitutes actual preparedness. He lifts, he runs, he cares for the only two weapons that matter: his mind and his body.

Accept things exactly as they are. The only thing you can change and determine the course of is your own decision making.

Lastly, we must also accept the reality that we will not always understand completely. That sometimes facts and information are sketchy and we must proceed anyway. One reality we must always accept is that no plan survives contact with the adversary and you will often learn only by being confronted by your misunderstandings.

Start where you sit. Analyze your own fitness for war and, regardless of how fit you think you are, plan for how you can be more fit. Begin executing that plan.

The Blood-stained Banner

Posted: June 24, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

So…let’s talk about that rebel flag I got hanging on my wall. Let’s discuss why its flying on state property in some states and whether I am a HUGE racist for honoring men who died for an imperfect cause.

One of the first things we need to address is the whole bit about whether the war was about slavery or state’s rights. I’m tired of this one. Absolutely it was about state’s rights…but, in particular…the right of a state to allow slavery. In every state that seceeded, slave owners were a minority. But in every state that seceeded, the legislation passed for secession addressed the fact that slavery WAS the cause they were leaving over.

But do any of you think all them northern white boys were abolitionists? They risked their lives glad for a chance to rid the world of evil? If so, why was slavery allowed to continue throughout the war in Kentucky (Dec 18, 1865), Maryland (Nov 1, 1864)and Delaware (Dec 18, 1865) even AFTER the Great Emancipator did his proclamation bit (Jan 1st, 1863)? In fact, slavery was still legal in Kentucky and Delaware eight months AFTER the war ended with a Northern victory.

If slavery was why the South seceeded, these facts show it was certainly not the cause over which a Republican North invaded.

Could this war…like most wars…have been about much simpler economics from the aggressor’s point of view?

Republicans like to trot out the fact that their party was the one that freed the slaves. But that party was as corrupt then as it is now and one aspect of history that has not changed is Republican willingness to exchange blood for gold.

One of the dirty little secrets to the war’s origins is just how little the average northerner cared about secession and how willing many were to let the Confederacy go its own way. The nation’s first draft would be held during this war because not enough poor people showed up to fight for the Union without the gentle prodding of bayonets.

It wasn’t until March 30, 1861 (two weeks before Sumter), that the NEW YORK TIMES called for measures to be taken to bring the south back under control, specifically calling for the enforcement of “revenue laws.”

The reasoning was simple, every industrial power supports tariffs to protect the profits of those selling goods manufactured within their borders. Agricultural powers, on the other hand, do not want tariffs since it is necessary to import most manufactured goods and tariffs serve only to drive up those prices.

The NYT recognized, and made the public aware, that New York’s position as a port city and its economic influence on the world was jeopardized. If the US had tariffs and the CS did not, why would any exporter go to New York and lose money when he could dock at New Orleans and keep his profits intact?

This was the motivation of Republicans in 1861 as they invaded the South.

Then…the war to preserve the Union ended. Those states that had left the Union and were now occupied by the US military sent their congressmen and senators back to Washington.

After all, had not the purpose of the war been to preserve the Union? After being brought back into the fold at the point of a bayonet, the seceeding states were now all kicked out of the union and told they had to petition again for admittance.

Here is where the flags come in:

When those state legislatures met, they crafted new mottoes, nominated new state insects, and designed new state flags. Only one state, my home, MISSISSIPPI, included the Confederate Flag as part of its heraldry. That state refused to repent of the virtues of the warriors who fought for their state, even as they admitted the cause of slavery was unjust.

Alabama adopted the battle flag of a specific state cavalry regiment as its state flag. Also honoring its warriors, though it could no longer support their cause.

BUT Georgia added the Confederate flag to its state flag in 1956 as a protest against integration. There can be no argument that THIS usage of the flag was profane and intended as racist. That sacred banner was defiled as it was brought out to honor the causes of racism and not the deeds of the honorable men who had fought under it.

Like the Mississippi State legislature in 1894, I hang a Confederate flag in the corner of my room to honor the men whose patriotism and love of a sacred homeland led them to sacrifice and heroism. That their cause was imperfect, that their love of home could be cast as a sanction to racial slavery, does not lessen those men in my eyes anymore than recognition of the Union support of slavery in non-seceeding slave states taints the heroism of men who fought with honor against the Confederacy.

No matter what flag you fly over a state capital, that flag is stained with racial slavery.That terrible error is no reason to decry the United States and no reason to condemn the Confederacy. Let us not be the hypocrites who would curse one set of heroes in order to falsely increase the nobility of another.

I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying remembrance.

The Wars of Our Fathers

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I grew up surrounded by Veterans. Our grandfathers and neighbors had fought in WW2 and our fathers and uncles had served in Vietnam and Korea. Some where in the fishing and deer hunting, these men taught us that life is sacred and to be cherished. That Duty is part of that. That sometimes Duty requires you to violate the sacred and kill other men. But that is the nature of Duty and Life is always sacred.

These men came home from their wars and built the world around us. I had never heard of PTSD but my Grandmother’s brother never talked about his war. I was cautioned not to ask. I was told he “saw some things.” He worked and raised his family and hunted and fished and did his Duty and knew life was sacred.

I am still surrounded by Veterans.

They speak constantly of their PTSD and our numbers among the homeless and outcast are greater than for any other segment of society. They kill themselves. My unit has lost more soldiers to suicide than we did to enemy action.

And when not complaining about PTSD, I hear people counseling further violence and calling for the death of people who really just need a good talking to or maybe an ass beating.

My Grandmother’s brother saw the truth of rounding people up and exterminating them because of the danger they represented. And I don’t think he ever found a way to explain any of what he saw.  Two generations later, it is easy to refuse the call of Duty and easy to suggest that hate is an answer.

There is one sword, one shield, and seven basic blows.

Then, there is the pell.

Every day I carry out the sixty pound base and set it up outside my apartment. Sometimes, the kids come by to watch. They ask if they can hit it. I usually drag out my six-year-old’s boffer gear and let them attack it while I’m resting. Sometimes the six-year-old, Kalev Bonecruncher the Berserk, will announce to the kids he has to train, too.

Earl Syr Knarlic Wulfersson, whose squire I am, has me throwing the blows again and again and again. I have power, some small speed, but he wants the recovery to become muscle memory. Throw the blow, let gravity bring the blade down, pull it back up into the ready position. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

Duke Conrad has instructed me some on my shield use. It’s a strapped round shield, and very unpopular. I am told again and again that I should get rid of it, but, for now, Earl Knarlic allows me to use it. Its used much differently from other shields and its only advantages are found in a certain offensive manner. My round shield is useless at mid range. I have to close distance quickly and then use the edge of the shield to push my opponent’s shield or sword away for an instant just long enough to strike.

Start out of range but close the distance quickly and scrape the edge of the pell with the rim of the shield, throw the blow, recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. .

Sir Osric is a reactionary fighter. He likes to stay back and launch his attack when an opponent makes a mistake. The round shield’s disadvantages all work in his favor. I step in to close the distance and my helmet rings. I can’t find an angle of approach that defeats this tactic.

He explains that I have to keep his sword busy as I close distance. It takes me a few tries to understand. he explains it again. I don’t have to hit him, I don’t have to move his weapon, I simply have to make it unwise to use the weapon as I move in. I start using an offside blow to the head (number four of the seven basic blows) hopefully requiring my opponent to block with his sword as I close that distance.

And then I stand before the pell again.

Start out of range and throw a distracting blow as I step in to close range, scrape the pell with my shield as I recover my sword and launch another blow without pause and recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

It isn’t the sword I need to master. It isn’t this impossible round shield. I’m not exactly sure what I am trying to Master.

Hopefully, I recognize it when I get there, though.

This was written in response to the Daily Word prompt found here.

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Writing

As children, we bore wooden swords and plastic rifles

and our armies moved across the meadows

until the sun went down and the street lights came on.

Then we went home and put our toys away

and a pistol to our temple

to bid the day farewell.

HOMECOMING

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Writing
Tags: ,

When I volunteered to extend my tour in Afghanistan, my sister asked me why I didn’t want to go home. I tried to explain and failed. Then I sat down at my laptop and wrote this.

 

She asks why I don’t want to go home.

The boundaries of enlightenment are confusion and panic.

You are walking down a goat trail, using your black rifle to keep your balance while gravel slides, when everything that is not intrinsic to who you are gets stripped away by the sound of an RPK opening up behind you.

Even wearing full kit and armor, you drop to your belly. A rock no larger than your head becomes a fortress hiding you from the sharp killing whine above your head. Every sense you possess focuses on the origin of that noise. Eyes seek movement…ears seek the barking…part of you just FEELS for the thing trying to kill you.

And who you really are emerges to seek and kill. You no longer have a degree from a third rate engineering school. You are no longer a father, a son, a brother, a friend. You have never heard music, smelled grass, tasted caramel, kissed a girl, danced at a wedding, played with a child.

You become a primal beast on which society has overlaid it’s designs. You act without thought because beasts do not think. You violate the ultimate taboo…focusing everything you are on killing another beast that might once have been a man. Every muscle strains to close distance…you move so you can shoot…shoot so you can move…

Then it is over. That moment of satori, that moment of crystal clarity fathomable only to mystics and animals, ends. An RPG from an ANA soldier finds the machine gun. A round from a black rifle finds the heart or brain or maybe only the guts of the image of God that found his destiny in your reticle.

And slowly those layers of lies and half-truths and trivia envelope you again.

You become something you were not meant to be. Your son’s father, your mother’s son, citizen, Deist. That student who graduated cum laude with a meaningless degree in philosophy. The target of advertising campaigns designed to sell sex and beer. The inheritor of promises made by prophets long dead.

The first time you vomit. The second time you shake. The third time you laugh.

But you never get to go home again.

 

This is my offering for a writing challenge suggested by The Daily Post