Adjusting to life's changes with hope… through poetry, haiku, and commentary

About Me

Poet, Writer, US Army (Retired)

I dreamed of writing when I was a youngster. I was sexually abused as a child from age 8 to 12 or so. I learned about this for the first time when I was 50 years old. So, as a boy, reading was the only place I had to go. I felt safe reading.  I loved reading and writing. Reading and writing poetry are a joy to me still and remain important in my life. I read slowly then; I read slowly now. I’ve never been a speed reader. So, as a boy, I read science fiction like Tom Swift Jr. and mysteries like the Hardy Boys. As a teen, I fell in love with Edna St. Vincent Millay and her poetry, mysteries by John Dickson Carr, science fiction by Robert Heinlein, and histories by Barbara Tuchman. I read everything from Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and everything in between. And that is only the tip of my book reading iceberg.

It seems that my plans are not my own. Either college wasn’t ready for me or I wasn’t ready for college. Vietnam put my life on hold in 1965 when I beat the draft and enlisted in the Army. After a tour in Vietnam in 1967-68, I returned to Ft. Meade, MD and in 1969, I decided to go to school in New York City. During my second year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC, my circumstances became very complicated. So much so, that I chose to return to what I knew. I was back in the Army.

While serving in the Army, my love affair with writing and reading continued. I loved being overseas most of all; country after country, assignment after fascinating assignment. For example, language section NCOIC (7th RRFS, Thailand), basic training drill sergeant (Ft. Dix, NJ), small unit tactics (Cavalry) instructor (Ft. Knox, KY), Pershing missile battery operations sergeant (41st FA, FRG), US Army recruiter (Superior-Duluth, MN), emergency action center NCOIC (G3, 8th ID, FRG). I also served as a Vietnamese, Cambodian, and German linguist when I was in Vietnam, Thailand, and Germany.

While on assignment in Duluth, MN, God for me was no longer an abstraction, an intellectual exercise, or merely the cause of my Jewishness that I could not fully understand. Answers replaced questions. Grace and truth replaced the Law. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is who He has said He is. Jesus, the Messiah, is Lord, as stated and revealed.

In 1987, I retired from the military and continued to write full-time for industry as a technical writer honing my skills. In this season of my life, it is apparent that my days in industry are behind me. What could still be ahead of me? Only God knows. I’m moving forward to embrace what life brings.

Still reading, still writing, still somewhat melancholy, but hopeful as God’s plans for me continue to unfold. God’s best plans and purposes for me are still ahead—and have always proved to be better than my own.

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8 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Bruce Brisach

    Hello Alan,
    I just wanted to thank you for making a difference in my life some 40 years ago.
    I was an Army trainee at Fort Dix, NJ in May 1975, and you were my Drill Sergeant. I wasn’t the ideal soldier, and suffered from blistered feet from one of our marches. I didn’t graduate with my regular company, because of my horrible feet and went to the hospital for treatment.
    You and I had some fireside chats, and you told me never to give up and keep on truckin.

    Long story short, I went on to complete my 3 years of military service, and another 32 years of federal service working as a Department of the Navy civilian in Philadelphia, Pa. I have a wonderful family, my wife Annmarie, and two children, Carly and Noah. I often wonder what would have become of me, if you didn’t take an interest in me, and help guide me in the right direction. It’s funny how we are all connected and our lives affect so many. BTW, you were the only person to pronounce my last name correctly (Brisach). Thanks again for having the patience and vision to believe in me, and making a positive difference in my life.

    Sincerely,
    Bruce Brisach
    “A life not lived for others, is not a life”.
    Mother Theresa

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    • alslaff

      Bruce,
      Thank you very much for your kind words. Glad to hear that withal you had gone through at Ft. Dix, your feet were pointed in the right direction; blessed in life experiences and with a loving family. Still proud of you Bruce and proud to have participated in the process.

      Thanks and fondest regards to your family – Alan

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    • alslaff

      Thank you. My melancholy side can see “colorful” ohne unverhohlene Schadenfreude as a possibility. After further thought, I believe you are correct. Life is good. My palette has grown from its single color of gray when I was a lad. Thanks, Kurt.

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  2. Faye Q

    Hi Alan, thank you for stopping by my blog! Thank you for sharing your stories, looking forward to more posts! 🙂 – Faye

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    Reply

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