A Memorial Day Remembrance

Most of you know that I’m a writer. What many of you may not know, unless you read my bio, is that I’m a Veteran. I served in the US Army Reserves (34th ID) and National Guard (47th ID) of Minnesota from 1991. Total, I served 17 years. I gave it up when I took a full-time job doing the exact same thing I was doing as a reservist. It was too much to cram in.

One of my favorite assignments was working at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. I was an instructor. I loved that job. There was never a day that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing and who I was doing it with. I was truly blessed.

I’m not much for sentimentality. I like to observe tradition and remember events and happenings in my own way. Every memorial day I tend to focus on the embodiment of what that day means.

While I was teaching, we had one particularly difficult student. He literally took about seventy percent of our collective energies to get him through. Ultimately it wasn’t the instructors that got him through (we were ready to let him fail). It was a fellow classmate of his, a U.S. Army Ranger who had recently left active duty. This soldier was getting retrained and would be joining his new reserve unit in Afghanistan. Let’s call him SSG Davis.

SSG Davis worked with this other solider day and night to make sure he understood the material. It was very difficult for him because he essentially studied for two. He would shrug it off and say that he was essentially helping himself, but we worried that he would wear himself out. SSG Davis not only got this other soldier to the end of his studies, he maintained one of the highest averages in the class.

To me, SSG Davis embodies what it means to serve selflessly. He gave and gave of himself. We, as a school, had nothing we can really give to out students as an award for superior performance. But we did manage to present him with a certificate to show our appreciation. We found a Colonel to sign it so it could go in his official record and be used for promotion points. It wasn’t much, but it was something to show we appreciated his efforts.

A year later, SSG Davis was on patrol somewhere in Afghanistan. The ambush of his patrol was well planned and organized. With explosions ripping apart their vehicle like a paper doll, he got out to meet the oncoming enemy force. In the distance, one of his fellow soldiers lay wounded. Symptomatic of his personality, he used his remaining strength to try an save his fellow soldier. SSG Davis died from small arms fire in the rescue attempt.

 

I was lucky to have never been sent to a battlefield in my career. Twice I was supposed to go, but they canceled my orders and sent me to other assignments because of my specialty. But I feel the sting when I hear of soldiers dying on the battlefield. My brothers and sisters in uniform who make the supreme sacrifice deserve to be remembered. Not with a barbecue, but with a moment of silence.

There is nothing you can do to bring these American sons and daughters back from the dead, but you can make sure they live on in our collective memory. Visit a military cemetery or memorial. Tell your children about the need for service and sacrifice. Show them the headstones at the cemetery and teach them that taking the time to remember the names on the stones is one way to keep their memories alive. Remember that each one of them made a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

God Bless all the SSG Davis’ out there. May you rest in peace. As long as I have blood flowing through my veins, you’ll never be forgotten.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Veteran

 

 

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The Busy Life

Today was a busy day. We started the process of getting our stuff ready to move. This is no small move, it’s pretty monumental. Bryan the Writer, and family have spent the last three years in Germany. While it has been a tremendous experience in many ways, it’s safe to say the stress of it all is beginning to get to me.

This morning I took the first steps towards packing up the electronics we don’t regularly use. I went through my drawers and pulled out my sweatshirts I’m not likely to use anymore. I kept one on hand just in case, but the rest are going to go away with the movers.

The Dramatic Dead 2

Even if you have a moving company, there are tons of things to consider. We completely filled our two garbage cans and both of our paper recycling bins. This is unusual for a family who barely fills one of each in a typical week. Lots of things have been thrown away or recycled if possible. Again, a herculean effort.

On top of all of that, I am also feverishly editing my latest project. I want to get it ready for you good people as quickly as possible. It is called, Crimson Tassels, and I’m super excited about it. But, the move does mean you’ll be hearing less of me in the next thirty days until we get back to a new sense of normal. I already see my world beginning to fold up around me.

But there is something cathartic about it as well. Writing can be very much like moving sometimes. When you start out, it looks like a monumental task. I have two novels and a third under edit and I’m still overwhelmed when I look at the process. Some moments I feel like I’m on top of the world and the next I feel like I am overwhelmed. Just as you think your work will never see the light of day, something happens. The clouds clear, the sun comes out, the world suddenly brightens up.

So, this brings me to my main point, you guys are the best. In between my loyal fans and my friends in the various groups I belong to, I have good reasons to celebrate. Because of you and your support, I had a fantastic month. One reviewer said the following.

I just finished this book and still feel kind of icky, but satisfied at the same time. It’s one of thoooose books where you never doubt that good will win out in the end. Thank God, because if it wasn’t, it could be a bit traumatizing.

That was seriously one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. So, to you all, I say thanks. You really are the reason I write.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

My Name on a Poster!

I’d like to let everyone know about an upcoming event. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 13th and come on out to meet me. Mark your calendars for the 2016 Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. It will take place at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. An author, you may have heard of, will be offering up his book No Name, and his newest work, The Dramatic Dead, for a special festival price. I’ll be available to sign copies, for anyone who want’s one.

I’ll be located in the Taylor Ballroom.

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An Important Announcement From All Candidates

Now, I try to stay out of politics. I really do. It is not my place to try and stump for one candidate or another. But, this time I have to chime in. Statements were made which were so monumental that they simply cannot be ignored. Recently all of the candidates came out and made the following joint statement.

“Dear Americans,

It is important to remember, in these trying times, that certain things remain critical to our fabric as a nation. Chief among these is the need for honor and civility. Because of this we urge you all to take some time and sit back and read. Studies have shown that reading is good for your brain. It maks you happy, lowers your blood pressure, promotes a healthy heart. Reading makes you more intelligent, and we definately need more than that. We promise, for every book you read, the life of a unicorn will be saved.”

While I’m not really sure about the unicorn part, I do know this. Reading is fundemental to who we are as American’s. In fact I think I heard one candidate, who shall remain nameless, say, “No one reads a book like I do. They all say that. You ask people and they will tell you that I read a book better than anyone. As a matter of fact, I’m looking into building a wall of books to combat illiteracy.”

 

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Another candiate promised free books for all and yet another candidate stated that she had moved all of her books to a personal server.

I want to do my part! That’s just who I am. I’m good like that. Please check out my website for the latest and greatest from Bryan Nowak. You can also go to my Amazon Author Page.

 

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am

It’s easy to beat yourself to a pulp. You can worry about all aspects of your work until you are blue in the face. I don’t care if you work at Starbucks or a Fortune 500 company, all of us face doubt. Recently I went through a stretch where I was doubting myself.

 

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I got so wrapped around the axel about something that I failed to see the greater picture. Life is like that sometimes. You fixate on a single thing so hard that you miss what is going on around you.

 

Anything you do in life should not really be about the prize you get at the end. The business world rewards those who sell the most, cut the best deals, bring the company the biggest profit. Those companies seldom give people a pause to look down the road a bit at where they are headed. Will the trophy they were given when they were Salesperson of the Quarter matter worth a hill of beans when they’ve been retired for two years? Probably not.

 

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Bryan the Writer

Stepping back from my situation I realized that what I was beating myself about wasn’t critical. As a matter of fact, it didn’t matter at all. Everything worked itself out in the end and when I regained my sense of perspective, I realized that my focus should not be on the minutia of what I was doing, but the end goal. Where was it that I wanted to take the process I had started?

 

I’m fortunate to have people around me who can slap some sense into me once in a while. While I’m busy obsessing about meaningless things, there are countless others who do not have that kind of luxury. I should feel blessed that occasionally I have someone pat me on the back and remind me that I am, more or less, doing okay. And that is something worth celebrating.

So, today, I want to urge you to be careful where you tread these days. Ultimately life is about the journey. Be cafeul that you don’t get so wrapped up in your next step that you forget where you are going!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

 

What is Art?

Recently I had the chance to visit the Louvre in Paris. It was one of the only things I wanted to see in Paris. Granted, I did see a bunch of other things, but the Louvre was the thing I wanted to see the most. If you ever get the chance, I highly suggest it.

As we wandered the halls, I thought about the artists who created the masterpieces hanging on the wall. Some of them were never really appreciated during their lifetimes. A few of them made a good living. A few even managed to amass quite a fortune. Some died young. Some lived well into their old age. Many had multiple spouses. Some died alone. Every one of them was unique in some way but shared one common thread. They are all artists.

Panini 1

It is a dirty little secret that authors are largely overlooked as ‘artists’. I can’t blame people, I understand why. What we make, in the artistic sense, is written material. People see writing as mechanical. Ensuring proper grammar is used, proper punctuation, proper paragraphs … etc. People feel we have more in common with an auto mechanic than we do with an impressionist painter. It’s not necessarily their fault. For years, our schools have been teaching children that writing is more an exercise in following the rules dictated by the left brain, than anything borne from the more creative right brain.

As I wandered the collection of the Louvre, I came across two paintings by Giovanni Paolo Panini. They were painted in Rome. The paintings were of an art gallery in which the walls are filled with scenes of Rome. Last December we were in Rome so we were fascinated by the scenes. We knew a lot of the places in the paintings of paintings. I became instantly fascinated by these two works of art. Out of all the paintings there, I spent more time looking at these than any others.

Stephen King wrote in, On Writing, that essentially writing is telepathy. It is the ability to take an object and convey its meaning across time and space. I think that is essentially true of all great works of art. When we read something like Stephen Kings’, Carrie, or Richard Adams’, Watership Down, are taking in what the artists were thinking about at the very moment they were typing out their words on a keyboard. You, by reading this blog, are actually reading my thoughts at this moment in time. It may interest you to know that the date is May 9, 0730 am. I am sitting in a tiny living room of a small apartment in Paris, France; near the Orsay Museum. I am drinking a cappuccino.

For this moment, you and I are connected. Across time and space. You could be reading this at work while you are supposed to be doing something else. You could be reading this on a train, on your way to or from work. Maybe you are reading this while feeding a baby or petting a cat. You could be reading this at any moment after May 9, 2016, at 730am. Maybe you are reading this in the year 2167 and I am long since dead. Pretty cool really. At this moment, I am affixed in time. And you could be virtually anywhere.

Panini 2

Panini and I have little in common. He was a painter and I’m a writer. He lived a long time in the past, relative to me. But, the other day, sitting in the Louvre, we talked for a bit. He conveyed the beauty of Rome to me and I recognized the places he was telling me about. Pretty cool when you think about it.

Some Advice for Outraged Voters

Recently I’ve started keeping an unofficial count of the numbers of people who are going to move out of the U.S. if Trump, Sanders, or Clinton are elected. Based on my unofficial tally, I have figured out that me and one guy living in Boise will be the only people left in the country.

Armed with this knowledge, I wanted to give some advice to the Clinton/Trump/Sanders supporters. Before you go, consider the following.

The road is long and hard. Transcontinental flights take a while. So does a drive to Canada or Mexico, depending on where you start from. So, if you’re on your way out of of the country, consider downloading a good book or two before you go. For those of you who want to live completely off the grid, feel free to chose paperback! I fully support the wireless lifestyle. Please visit my website for more details!

www.brynanowak.com

 

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