So, who am I?
Well, here it is. Not a lot, but enough.
Steven Warren Stribling is my full name. There should maybe be a 'II' (second) behind that, but I've never done it and am not really sure how it works. My father at least gave me my own middle name. Warren was my mother's maiden name. Traditional family. I won't give you my social. I will give you my matricule from the French Foreign Legion since everybody always seems to ask: 202830. I was born a Virgo and a Tiger for the astrologically curious. For the geographers, I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. That's somewhere in America you've probably never been to and may have never heard of unless it was accompanied by a joke about a toothbrush, our too sexy cousins, or just the average moonshine, gun-totten redneck. I still have all my teeth which isn't bad, and the rest is true. My cousins are good-looking, but not from Arkansas. And I grew up hunting, fishing, and doing most things that are illegal for kids to do today. I have no formal education. I finished high school, but I wasn't smart, athletic, or unique enough to go to college for free. So, I dropped out after one year to join the uniformed services with a bank loan and no paper to say I was certified to do anything.
After basic training, my technical school got hit by Hurricane Katrina. Good times. Finished with a 6-month delay and got sent straight to Iraq to work for the Army. I was a Chair Force guy. I did their job well, got coined a few times, personal favorite by a sergeant major of the 1-505. I also got airman of the month, but still went home with an Article 15 at the end of all of it. After that grand experience, I went on to chase my ultimate dream of self-actualization to become a PJ — Pararescueman. I passed the PAST and got my Article 15 expunged but still a no-go. ‘Zero tolerance,’ the general said, ‘for naughty paperwork.’ Still served a bit doing the FEMA search and rescue, security forces at Langley, but eventually got out seeing how confident I was I could do better.
So, I joined the French Foreign Legion. I became a parachutist. Then there was an explosion of my femur. A metal rod and a couple of screws and my military and Captain Badass days were over. Got medically discharged, stuck around for the hell of it, and to start a business and to get the free medical care for my leg since they broke the damn thing. Business went nowhere fast, and so I went into teaching English to pay the rent and the bar tab. Business finally got up and going and now not so much. You wanna know what I wanna do though?
If you're reading this, that means I've won.
I'm gonna write now. I'm still not athletic enough or smart enough or unique enough to do anything else, but dammit if I haven't tried everything else. So let's hope that experience pays off. Most of this writing will be about the same things we all know about: love, loss, the universe and our place in it. Everything and nothing, right?
I won't pretend to be an expert on anything, including the military. I was on the inside, I know a few things, but things have also changed since my time in and I sure as hell didn’t see all of it when I was there. What I will promise to do when I write is my due research. I don't believe or have the patience for willful ignorance. If I'm writing about it, I've checked it out. Though most of my stories, and especially my poetry will be just me. Cause what is a writer an expert on, at least a fiction writer? Nothing, nothing other than himself. And even that is a challenge befitting of any man. So whatever I say, do not take my word for scripture or hail me as guru despite how clever it seems. I am a writer. It may be authentic, but it is fake and must be remembered as such. After you have finished reading it, of course, enjoy the story first.
More about me, you ask? I'm not a big fan of the telephone, but I hate texting even more. I don't know many people who can type, it seems, but if I had to peck at the computer the way everybody else does, I don't think I would've made it this far in my introduction. Take away all my talented digits and leave me with two opposable thumbs whose only job normally is to frap the largest key on the keyboard and expect them to navigate a touchscreen keyboard the size of a silver dollar and I can't finish a text without wanting to murder somebody. If you want to holler at me, do it by email, then call.
I grew up outside a small town, enjoyed the city for a bit in my young adulthood, but honestly can't stand to be in them for more than half a day. Unless it's on vacation, I plan to get further and further away from cities. It could be the people, I can't imagine it's the buildings that annoy me. I do enjoy a good dive bar though: meet a stranger, have a drink, and tell him everything. Most people don't believe my story anyway, and the ones that do we become best friends. I have a lot of best friends, but not a lot of committed friends.
Apart from fighting wars, jumping out of planes, and failing businesses, I have in my time altered my state of mind with many different types of pharmaceuticals, gotten divorced, silently meditated for 10 days, been arrested, been on national television in France, broken my collarbone in a dirt bike accident, taught children, stolen video games, made sandwiches for a part-time living - an artist I was - in my teen-days, hiked the Himalayas, and built a health and wellness center for the mentally challenged in Hawaii.
I have no children that I know of. Though I had the most faithful partner in crime, Maverick, who left this world too early. We traveled continents together and conquered the world. He will always be at the core of my heart. And though he had to leave before I felt it was fair, he didn’t leave me abandoned. He didn’t leave until he knew I would be okay. Now, I have five adoring and understanding furry little companions, plus a loving, and lovely, woman. All of whom keep me around and carry me through the many burning fires as Maverick had so often done alone. And just for them, all of them, I am flattered by the patience and support they have given me. I suppose the puppies and kitty have to though, I feed them.
For those others that support me: Thank you. I have committed to always writing. I have finished my first two novels, ‘Sin and Zen’ and ‘Anger and Hope’, but I will also try to post regularly an article or poem or short story to hold you off until the next novel is ready.
S. W. Stribling