Breaking Cadence Photo Gallery
These photos were contenders for inclusion in the memoir, but ultimately there wasn't time or space. The images are chronologial in time, not necessarily to the book.
Me and my mom. Tuba City, AZ
"I thought about how every moment since the beginning of the universe had led up to this moment, right now, with me personifying the expression 'drowned rat' in the Washington woods. How my ancestors had been in the right times and places to survive and have babies and survive and have babies, all the way back to primates. What would they think if they could spy on me? Could I spy on my children's children's children? I closed my eyes and tried to break into a vortex that shot ahead, not back." pg. 243
Soon after the move from Arizona to Pennsylvania. This is my grandparents' house. I'm on the right.
"There's nothing to do but silently wait and think in the field, so it's no surprise your mind wanders. I'd managed to keep my wormholes mostly positive and strictly civilian throughout camp. I'd visit my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania, eat toast with my grandfather in the breakfast nook, sit with my grandmother on the front porch swing, and compose epic duets on the mini-grand piano with Leila..." pg. 237
Leila, me, Alura at Franklin Park, Missoula MT
"When Leila and I were in grade school, we loved pretending we were secret agents, treasure hunters, runaway orphans, or survivors of some natural catastrophe. We'd race from playground to playground on our bikes, composing our own theme music..." pg. 204
Leila and I outside our trailer on Grant Street, Missoula MT
Our trailer in Eastern Montana.
"It was five pitch-black miles to Fromberg, a hilly route of rangeland too barren to even support cattle, bordered by sandstone ridges rising out of the landscape like the barred teeth of sleeping giants." pg. 19
Leila and Java about a mile from our trailer.
The whole family in our new trailer in Fromberg, MT
"Our new trailer in Fromberg was paradise. Out from under the thumb of Wayne the Pain, we could all eat whatever we wanted, take normal showers instead of worrying about the dwindling water in the tank, and make noise past eight. We stopped looking at the floor so much, stopped watching our backs, stopped holding our breath." pg. 21
Back from my first drill.
"My mother brought out the camera and snapped the first picture of me in an Army uniform. Spilling out of my small smile is youthful pride, adventurous optimism, and a deep anticipation for full independence." pg. 31
Devil Cat, adopted after moving back to Missoula for college.
"On September 11, 2001, I warned Devil Cat to 'be good' on my way out..." pg. 54
The U of M and the Missoula Valley.
"...I was driving past the new campus fitness center, about to troll for parking on the maple-lined streets, when Bob Edwards reported that a plane had crashed into a building in New York." pg. 54
Boot Camp, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina
"My fury died, of course. Because boot camp has a way of forcing you to live a narrative that goes a little like this: be stripped of everything, suffer, fume, strive, surrender, bond, fail, commiserate, fight, fight, fight, redeem yourself, succeed, get pats on the back, feel like a champ, go home." pg. 68
In my Class A uniform for graduation
"It was overcast and misty the morning of graduation, but that didn't dampen our spirits. The entire battalion marched onto the field, chins held high through the color ceremony and patriotic songs and speeches, and then we were marching past the bleachers, saluting the officers, snapping our heads at the command 'eyes, right.'" pg. 74
Surfing with Aaron, Morro Bay, CA
"Aaron stayed true to his word and bought a surfboard immediately--a little six-foot-five "fun shape" that would supposedly be easy to master, but took us three afternoons of wobbling to stand up on. Of course we both became hooked." pg. 95
"...and so I let complacency envelop me like Morro Bay's nightly fog, and dove into the rhythm of school and work and surfing. The war slipped back into its abstract realm, far from my sleepy beach town and my clean, sunny school, and far from remote Camp Roberts with its tarantulas creeping across the firing range." pg. 97
Camp Roberts, CA
"The place was a sprawling ghost town--cracked asphalt, empty buildings flaking white paint, hardly any traffic on the rough roads. I wondered if the post-apocalyptic feel of the base was because most of its troops were in "the Sandbox." I worried they woud toss me in a unit due to ship out right after I finished Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
"Instead, I ended up in a brand-new Engineering Company, whose mission was to build a rock quarry and then help revitalize the base." pg. 96
The Camp Roberts quarry
With "Santos," about to use our off-base pass during Advanced Individual Training, Ft. Lee, VA
"Santos started sitting next to me in class. He took NoDoz so he could nudge me awake when I began to drift off. In a surprising show of emotional maturity for a twenty-year-old Army guy, he slipped me poems and notes." pg. 115
"We gossiped about platoon politics, our boot-shine kits spread out in front of us in case a drill sergeant walked by. The sun went down. Inch by inch, we started to look more like couples than a scattered group. A few fireflies came out. The warm evening air and the silhouette of the gazebo against the sunset and our puppy-love giddiness tricked us into thinking we weren't entirely bound by the rules of this strange prison." pg. 116
Hiking the Central Coast with DJ Sasquatch
“I knew I could count on Aaron or DJ Sasquatch to ask me what was going on—a trump card that I used sparingly, but to gratifying effect. I needed to hear that yes, I was in a mess, I wasn’t a manipulative drama queen inventing problems to get attention. Not that I would have been able to express any of this at the time.” Pg. 126
Zack considers the live camera inside KCPR, San Luis Obispo, CA
“He was the very antithesis of a soldier: often late or AWOL, openly contemptuous of rules he didn’t agree with, and amused by people who tried to assert their authority. Zack was a free spirit, beholden to no one, outspoken and irreverent.” Pg. 165
Outside the barracks at "summer camp," Ft. Lewis, WA
“Rows of whitewashed barracks looked like transplants from another era, and like a storm might reduce them to piles of plywood. The parade grounds outside the barracks used to be asphalt but were now mostly gravel. Instead of sidewalks there were gray, dusty trails.” Pg. 184
Inside a Ft. Lewis "cattle car"
"The jokers kept joking, kept drawing me closer to them with their charming little flaws and quirks. On a particularly crammed cattle car ride, Kilgore and Nissenger burst out in, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'," and the whole platoon joined in, like it'd been planned." pg. 219
"It screamed of escapism to ignore all the sins that came along with war--special interests, dirty money, exploitation, collateral damage. I guess while I respected Kassano and Hunt and Kilgore and all the rest, I didn't respect the way they thought. Not about this." pg. 252
The view from my Morro Bay apartment
"I listened to the foghorns blowing down at the marina and watched the red lights on the power plant towers wink. I usually liked the red blinking--found it calming in a hypnotic way--but tonight the tips of the towers looked like blazing eyes putting out a warning: mess with the powerful and get burned." pg. 265
On the playa, in front of Hortense
"An awakening of sorts began. The gir who'd spent her time hiding in her apartment, going back and forth to work with no deviations and waiting for her oddball boyfriend to come home to the sorry dinner she'd cooked, started to disassemble in Black Rock City." pg. 329
Burning Man, 2005
"Hortense performed gloriously, turning a carousel of giant insects, to the delight of anyone who wandered by her corner of the desert." pg. 329
Zack driving Hortense on the esplanade
Holding my newborn niece, Medford, OR
"For some reason I am wearing a brown Army T-shirt in the only picture of me holding my newborn niece, Cira." pg. 328
My first songwriting guitar, Berkeley CA
"The freedom of release from the Guard coupled with release from a dysfunctional relationship spurred me to seek out communities of my own in the Bay Area. I started writing songs on the guitar and singing at an Alameda dive bar's open mic. In my spare time, I began writing bits and pieces of my Army story, struggling to explain it fairly, to understand it, to justify it in a way I could move beyond." pg. 347
Nick, Salt Point State Park, CA
"With his shaggy blond hair and tan skin, he blended in with the California crowd, even though I knew he'd moved west from Minnesota. I think I'm going to marry that guy, I thought, before chastising myself, reminding my eager little heart it had a predictable penchant for infatuations that did not last long." pg. 348
Our backyard wedding, San Leandro, CA
"When I look at my mischievous, green-eyed, bookworm toddler, and my baby boy, growing and transforming at rocket speed, the sense of both hope and responsibility is overwhelming. ..."I like to picture my voice as a single flame in a growing platoon of single flames trying like hell to make those in power hot enough under the collar to consider the sanctity of youth and a freedom that is truly free." pg. 363