Hard to believe it’s been seven (!) years since this was published. And I mean what I said as much now, as I did then.
Originally published January 26th, 2006.
Hard to believe it’s been seven (!) years since this was published. And I mean what I said as much now, as I did then.
Originally published January 26th, 2006.
Over on Facebook I learned something new last night.
You see, lately I’ve had this nearly indescribable feeling that “something is missing”. At first I thought it was just a touch of post-holiday depression. But it’s more than that, much more.
Then on Facebook, I saw a post from our friend Mongo, regarding an “Instagram” from the daughter of another friend of ours. That other friend was our own beloved Lex. His daughter, the Kat, had posted a picture of her with her Dad when she was very young. She also explained the Portuguese concept (for it is more than just a word) of saudade. As the first anniversary of Lex’s passing approaches, I can only imagine what his family must be feeling. Especially how his youngest child is dealing with it.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.
Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. In Portuguese, ‘tenho saudades tuas‘, translates as ‘I have saudade of you’ meaning ‘I miss you’, but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have ‘saudade‘ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.
In Brazil, the day of saudade is officially celebrated on January 30.
Saudade is exactly what I’ve been feeling lately.
For me it’s getting close to the anniversary of my Father’s passing, three years ago. It does not nearly feel like it’s been three years. Every time we go to visit my Mom, it feels like Dad has just stepped out for a moment. Saudade.
We didn’t go to my Mom’s for Christmas this year. Instead we went up for New Year’s. Of course, the Christmas decorations were still up. And naturally she told us all about the Christmas she had, with my brother the Old Vermonter and his family and my other younger brother the Musician, up from Boston. It was something I wish I’d been there for. Saudade.
Then at New Years’ I had a lot of fun with my Mom. She’s in her 80’s yet still acts like she did in her 30’s. But still, she’s in her 80’s. I am terrified at the prospect of my Mother not being around someday. Saudade.
At least it’s how I understand the concept of saudade.
Where I live there are many Portuguese, primarily from the Azores (Açores, in Portuguese), I can’t wait to talk to my Portuguese friends about saudade.
It’s something I’ve felt and understood for a long time. Now I’m glad to know there’s actually a word for it. A word with many subtle shadings and nuance. Saudade.
I also have a new day to “celebrate”. On the 30th of January, I’ll remember those absent from my life.
My Dad. And Lex.
The Mothership is still unavailable.
Originally published January 24th, 2006.
A happier note
By lex, on January 24th, 2006
Sent forward by occasional reader Sandi, and too wonderful not to carry:
I am a Navy Aviator. I was born and raised in a small town in New England. I come from a family of five. I was raised in a middle class home and taught my values by my mother and father.
My dad worked a series of jobs in finance and my mom took care of us kids. We were not an overly religious family but attended church most Sundays. It was a nice small Episcopal Church. I have a brother and sister and I am the youngest in my family. I was the first in many generations to attend college.
I have flown naval aircraft for 16 years. For me the flying was never a lifelong dream or a “calling,” it just happened. I needed a job and I liked the challenge. I continue to do it today because I feel it is important to give back to a nation which has given so much to me. I do it because, although I will never be rich, my family will be comfortable. I do it because many of my friends have left for the airlines and someone has to do it.
My government has spent millions to train me to fly these multi-million dollar aircraft. I make about 70,000 dollars a year and after 20 years will be offered a pension.
I like baseball but think the players make too much money. I am in awe of firemen and policemen and what they do each day for my community, and like teachers, they just don’t get paid enough.
I respect my elders and always use sir or ma’am when addressing a stranger. I’m not sure about kids these days but I think that’s normal for every generation.
I tell you all this because when I come for you, I want you to know me. I won’t be hiding behind a woman or a child. I won’t be disguised or pretending to be something I am not. I will be in a U.S. issue flight suit. I will be wearing standard US issue flight gear, and I will be flying a navy aircraft clearly marked as a US warplane. I wish we could meet up close in a small room where I could wrap my hands around your throat and slowly squeeze the life out of you, but unfortunately, you’re hiding in a hole in the ground, so we will have to do this a different way.
I want you to know also that I am very good at what I do. I can put a 2,000 lb weapon through a window from 10,000 feet up. I generally only fly at night, so you may want to start sleeping during the day. I am not eager to die for my country but I am willing to sacrifice my life to protect it from animals like you.
I will do everything in my power to ensure no civilians are hurt as I take aim at you. My countrymen are a forgiving bunch. Many are already forgetting what you did on Sept 11th. But I will not forget.
I am coming. I hope you know me a little bit better, see you soon…sleep tight.
A U.S. Navy Pilot
Yeah. I’d fly with that man.
British PM David Cameron spoke today on the subject of Britain and the European Union:
Without radical reforms, he warned, Europe cannot continue. He also named five principles upon which a future EU should be anchored: competitiveness, flexibility, power must flow back to member states, democratic accountability and fairness. If these challenges aren’t addressed, he warned, “the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.”
That sounded awfully familiar to me. Any of my American buddies recognise the gist?
The Mothership appears to be offline this morning. I give you today’s Daily Lex in ‘long form’.
Originally published January 23, 2006.
Adversary Course – Miramar
By lex, on January 23rd, 2006
Miramar it was, and back in the 90′s too, what with your humble scribe being an adversary pilot but recently arrived from the purgatorial southern swamps of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, from whence liberated, like Prometheus unchained from a demanding flight schedule, bound as he had been like any galley slave and forced to fly two – sometimes three! – air combat flights in a day, alack, and alas and if your heart wasn’t made of brass, wicked thing that you are, then perhaps you would have felt more sorry for him.
“Go west, young man!” the operations officer had said, meaning TOPGUN when he said it, and the adversary course to be more particular, challenging though it was to fragile egos and given in judiciously and repeatedly applied thumps by the world’s finest fighter pilots, themselves accustomed to treading the hallowed halls of the Prestigious Navy Fighter Weapons School with the heavy step of Praetorian guards. The School itself was not unlike Valhalla to a man of a certain age, never mind the repeated getting of your ass kicked by your betters.
So your scribe and a brother of another mother paired themselves up in a two-seat F-16N and did as they were asked, desired and required, pre-flighting, manning up and tearing the sky apart in a vertical departure before rolling her over on a westerly heading out over the Gulf of Florida and towards Barksdale, Louisiana, that being a short stop on account of all the damn gas we’d burned just getting out of home, profligate wastrels that we were with our vertical departure, and no stewards of the national bounty. At all.
There were few places in the world to rival Key West for a young pilot, burdened as he might be with the flying of not one, nor even two, but three kinds of fighter aircraft on any given day, and doing nothing but the fighting of them, so as to make him extraordinarily wise, not to say preternaturally wicked in the art and science of gunning his opponent, given anything like an equal chance, if that was the best chance that offered. Except of course at The School, in sunny Sandy Eggo, where the cream of the crop busied themselves like knights of the round table in the pursuit of such intramural excellence as could maybe only be otherwise had in one of Plato’s forms, while taking it upon themselves in the intervening periods to absentmindedly punish the occasional external pretender to the throne such as your scribe and any of his cohort as a matter of dreary course. Shaolin monks they were, and their aerial kung foo was very strong, and we mere apprentices, a-trying of our mettle against the flower of American youth, equipped with g-suits, harnesses and superabundant attitude.
Oh, they were good gentle reader, the TOPGUN instructors, and professional too, so that when they would afterwards describe to you what a chunder-head you had been to reverse when defensive (which you should never, ever do, what in God’s name were you thinking?) only to watch them fall savagely upon your soon-to-be-odiferous corpse with glad abandon and something very nearly approaching carnal glee, it somehow came out sounding in the debrief not like you had simply been an idiot (although you self-evidently had been), but only that you had learned so very much that day, and wasn’t that a good thing, selah. Because you were so damn grateful for it. Weren’t you?
And in such a manner is abuse enabled and perpetuated.
But all was not pushing rocks up hills, nor even being chained to them at Naval Air Station Miramar in the 1990′s. There was also, as it turned out, an officer’s club, which had, in the days, weeks and months immediately subsequent to the movie “Top Gun” (which they didn’t even spell it right, it being written as one word, all caps, which anyone could have known just for asking) had become quite the venue for all kinds of predatory beasts attempting to determine exactly what the Other was constructed of, and how long it might last when put to the test.
At least that’s what I was told by others, seizing the moral high ground and satisfying myself for the most part by the staying in my room at the end of the fly day, and the reading of Gideon’s while conscientiously eschewing any pleasures of the flesh that might have offered themselves up, whenever I wasn’t doing charity work at one of the local orphanages. Chiefly on account of my oak-like constitution and iron will. I’d point out that my next-door neighbor was not nearly so abstemious, entertaining guests, sometimes quite tumultuous and cacophonous guests, until all hours of the early morning, which I couldn’t help but hearing, the walls between the rooms being so very thin and what with my ear pressed up against them.
Be that as it may, it came to pass one night that your correspondent and his brother found themselves at the club one night partaking of such pleasures as could be had without entirely jeopardizing their actual lives, should they ever go back home, until the wee hours of the morning, notwithstanding the fact that they had an early go the next day. Which couldn’t have been, based on the rules, any earlier than 12 hours after their last taste of an alcoholic beverage. Because that was the rule.
But just as it is always after noon somewhere in the world, so is it also 12 hour or more from take-off time, depending on how you look at it. There were many heroic acts that evening that I will not bore you with, not being central to the tale, which would nevertheless be preserved in song if that sort of thing was still considered fashionable, but anyway.
Sufficient to the day the evil thereof, and then some, and it came to pass that the next day as we took off out of NAS Miramar and pooted our way out to the Yuma Tactical Air Combat Systems range to the east that your humble scribe thought it better to ride in the trunk, rather than to lead from the front, at least until the first flight had ended, and maybe its debrief too, and only then might he feel a little more human than he currently did. Up, up into the burning blue, and leveled off at 25,000 in a high tech fighter, your narrator felt quite frankly a little weary, not to say jaded.
A big clamshell canopy had the TF-16N, and the day was hot and bright, so it served your correspondent’s leisure to loosen his O2 mask, let it fall from his sweating face and rest his weary eyes, a little, that being thought the best thing for it, really. Taken as a whole, his friend up front didn’t seem to mind his absence on the intercom, asking of him “What are you doing?” and “What’s the plan now?”, etc. But the TOPGUN IP who joined up on the right wing at angels 25 prior to the first push was alarmed and dismayed to see your scribe apparently passed out hypoxic and unconscious in the back seat of a multi-million dollar fighter, just prior to joining the fray. This worthy was y-clept “Stump,” on account of his exceptional vertical stature and physical dimensions, and he wasted no time communicating to the nose gunner that there was apparently a dead man in the back seat, and perhaps something ought to be done about it.
The nose gunner wasn’t convinced that I was dead, and cleared Stump out for to give the jet a violent shake, and see if that could revive my spirits. Which of course it did, and damn near brought up breakfast too. Having stirred to greet the dawn with a gimlet eye, I was dismayed to see the Stumpster come back close aboard and give me a questioning “thumbs up”? Was I OK? Would I live?
In an inconsidered moment (himself being a Marine major, and a TOPGUN IP, and your scribe a mere snot-nosed Navy lieutenant, not to mention a student, and the distinction between the two being thought critically important) I raised and returned a finger of my own, not corresponding to that opposable digit which is the pride of our species.
And for this crime I paid, gentle reader.
And I learned about Gideon’s from that, so I did.
Now I know that there are a few Lexicans who “Don’t do Facebook”. I get that. I really do.
However, there is much tomfoolery, youthful hijinks and “golly gee good times” to be had over on the Lexicans Facebook Page. Much of which would be “lost in translation” if we attempted to repost some of that here.
Amongst some of the topics covered lately are:
– Attractive Canadian Ladies
– Puppies in kilts
– Links to interesting and informative articles (lots and lots of those)
Much of what gets posted is silly, but we get a lot of good old-fashioned interplay in the follow-on comments. Reminds me of some of the comments you’d have seen on the Mothership, especially when the Commentariat was in a particularly frisky mood and in full throat.
So this appeal is addressed to my fellow OFs. The ones who “don’t do Facebook”. Give it a try, at least the Lexican’s page. No need to do the other stuff. And it can be fun. Give it a shot, you’re missing some really funny stuff over there. What’s it gonna be?
*OF = Old F@rt (rhymes with “cart”)