The floor was littered with small, multi-colored, interlocking plastic molds. Some were stacked while others were scattered like di at a casino table. Among them were colorful creatures of all breeds; birds of the sky, bears and even fish of the sea. Four shelves high and four tubs wide, this vast collection of modern and classic things alike had grown steadily over the past year.

"OWE!" I yelled painfully.

"What's wrong, babe?" My wife called from another room.

"Nothing," I said annoyingly as I dislodged a Lego from the ball of my foot.

It was like a tornado had hit our living room, casting our toys about the confines and hiding every adult thing imaginable. I hadn't seen the television remote since last Tuesday and, coincidently, I'd been singing the Sesame Street theme song to myself every day since then.

The aroma of my long-awaited coffee drew me through the cascades of play-things and into the kitchen. I inhaled vigorously as I curled the pot up to my nose and then tilted its lip into my mug. Steam like smoke at a rock-concert erupted in a tiny volcano of caffeine-induced goodness that only someone who appreciates coffee and a good book would understand.

I sat down at the table and sipped the world's greatest beverage.


My drive to work was less than pleasurable. Normally I enjoy driving, but having recently moved to metro-Atlanta, and spending forty-five minutes behind the wheel to travel only a measly thirteen miles, my patience and attitude towards others on the road have taken a turn for the worst. My Saturn Vue, which under normal conditions would get twenty-ish miles to the gallon, was averaging less than fifteen because I've decided over the last two months that instead of driving like a civilized benefactor to society, I would trek the roads like an angry seventeen year-old boy with an overly clingy girlfriend.

This was my life. Just your typical guy, typical husband, typical dad. Working your typical job and typically not enjoying much of it.

I took the typical route too, avoiding the jam-packed interstates that were always slower than the small-town roads. Every morning the radio gave the same traffic report: Four serious accidents at the same intersections and mergers, always causing more accidents from gawking onlookers as they update their Snapchat stories with the "look at this accident" posts.

I hate driving in Georgia.

I passed by the commonplace restaurants. Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, McDonald's… I considered stopping somewhere for a quick breakfast, but that idea escaped as soon as it appeared, replaced by images of my checking account balance after the recent holidays. For some reason that I couldn't ponder, my wife found it necessary not just to send Christmas cards to all our relatives, but to likewise send them gifts. To her it was all normal, as if we were obligated. Maybe I'm just different, but I can't remember getting gifts from many of my extended relatives on Christmas. Especially those who were recently married and fallen into the black hole of parenting.

The coffee was starting to hit me. I don't know what it is about that wonderful drink, but nothing else keeps me so regular. I can always count on my morning Joe to make room for the day's feastings as I laid on the final stretch to work.

The guard at the gate was kind. "How's it going, Sergeant?" He asked nonchalantly.

"Just living the dream," I replied just as casually. He took my ID card and scanned it with his handheld IR/LASER scanner device. After seeing me most every morning for the last several months, you'd think he'd just wave me on bye, knowing I wasn't a threat. But I suppose that's the nature of the beast, to never get complacent.

I'd been in the Marines for four and a half years now. I rose rather quickly from private to sergeant, especially for someone in my technical career field. I could only credit God's plan and good graces for this fortune of mine.

"Have a good day, Sarge," the guard said, handing back my ID. I rolled my eyes and gave him the same well wishes as I drove off. He was an Air Force guy, so I couldn't blame him for calling me 'sarge.' We don't do that in the Marines, and it's actually considered one of the most insulting titles available. I remember privates fresh out of boot camp calling their sergeants 'sarge' and getting hazed for it. 'Sarge' is a National Guard term for any E5 or higher whose gut hung over his utility belt. Mine didn't do that. Or at least I'd like to think it didn't.

Less than two more miles from the gate, I finally pulled up to my actual place of work. Normally I was the first Marine on deck, and today was no exception. I unlocked the gate to the motor pool and drove in slowly. There'd been a lot of construction going on, and I didn't want to drive into any caution tape or holes in the ground.

I parked next to a row of HMMWVs (Humvees), and left my car unlocked. I realized as soon as I'd cut the engine that I'd forgotten to pack a lunch. Oh well, I thought. Just more of a reason to go to the chow hall and get a full sized meal… With dessert.