Sunday, July 25, 2010

My One True Calling

To my friend, Terry Stonecrop, the ingenius creator of Gardner West, Private Eye, and whose post today asked the question: Born To Write...Or To Be Wild? I think both. Wild AND a writer. But then maybe those are synonymous.

Of the callings she listed, the two I never considered were bull fighter and hockey player. Which one was my favorite? Ooo, ooo, fighter pilot!!

In 1975, I had a pen in my hand poised over the dotted line. I was seventeen, a senior in high school and had just scored 98 percentile on the ASVAB. They wanted me. Badly. Here was my chance to be a pilot.

Like Terry, the 'Fighter' part of pilot eluded me.

I 'inherited' my daddy's love for airplanes. He worked for Lockheed, in Marietta, Georgia, at the main base. Next door to Dobbins Air Force Base. The bases enthralled me and the airplanes wove a spell deep down in my bones. The Blue Angels. The Thunderbirds. Still, today, I thrill at the sound of fighters flying maneuvers. My body hears. And knows. As it recognizes the drone of the C130 and the whine of the C5A.

"Top Gun" is one of my favorite movies, and what wins me over every time is Fightertown USA. I long to be there. It's the F16's and the migs and the dogfights.

Oh, and the soundtrack.

And the kiss.

Every time Maverick climbs in the cockpit, I am in that plane with him.

Here's another video to go with the one Terry posted.

My daddy (Melvin Hugo Herrell, RIP) was a sailor, a Navigator in Korea. He wanted to fly, they said he was too short. I had felt his pain and maybe, suddenly, his dream became mine. Who knows. But right then and there I decided to be a pilot and join the U.S. Navy.

I remember the headiness of that moment, standing in the middle of the lunchroom cum testing center with a recruiter from each branch of the U.S. Armed Services fighting over me. No one had ever fought over me. Because of my daddy and the Blue Angels, the other branches didn't have a shot.

Blue Angels Air Show 7/24/2010 by Stephen Lasley
So there I stood, pen in hand. It had happened so fast, yet in slow motion. Surreal and slick all at once. I'm not sure what stopped me. A moment of sanity, maybe. Or some of my daddy's good old-fashioned horse sense kicked in. But, out of the wild blue yonder, a question popped in to my head and I opened my mouth and asked it.

"OH! Do I have to have 20/20 eyesight to be a pilot?"

When that handsome young man in the dashing uniform said yes, I almost cried. The dream, that had been so real for all of five minutes, flew bye-bye.

Since that day I've drifted from one 'career' to another. I've worn many hats, perfected the art of the cameleon. Once I mastered it, I got bored. I moved on. Flew the coop. On to the next calling.

Now here I am, at the end of time, with my one true love: Words. An avid reader from the age of four, books became more central to my life than the real world. Oh, don't get me wrong. The real world was real. But sometimes, looking back, it's easier to recall the plot or character of a book than it is to recall bits of my life.

So here I am. Writing. And loving it. And knowing what I was born to be. In the arts.

P.S. For Wally: the comments should be available now on That Rebel. Go check it out. And thank you so much for not giving up.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Elliot Grace's Powerful Piece on Gulf Crisis

This morning I read a post by Elliot Grace, a fellow writer whose blog I just discovered. His post made me look at a situation I have avoided because it hurts too much.

This picture (which I borrowed from Elliot) cracked me open. My eyes. My heart. My mind.

You see, I ache for the littles. And right now, there is so much pain and terror, I didn't want to be overwhelmed. So I looked away.

I no longer can.

I have a special affinity for pelicans and wrote a yet-published children's book with a pelican as a main character. This prehistoric-looking bird captured my heart years ago on the beaches of Panama City, FL. Then the widespread use of a pesticide known as DDT almost wiped them out in the early '70's. DDT was banned and the pelicans made a come-back.

Until now.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in April of this year has changed everything. Our Brown Pelican is once again threatened, along with the rest of the life in the Gulf.

My heart breaks. Please click over and read Elliot's piece. It is gut wrenching and true, and it is written from the heart. The WhackaDoodle elements? He points them out. I promise.