Wearing a uniform of the armed forces was very different in 2002 than it had been in 2001. Each morning when I put it on I was overwhelmed with fear that I would fall short, that I would prove unworthy of the uniform. In a strange twist of fate, my new orders were for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (dead people, dead people parts) in Washington, DC.
Humbled… no, torn down… I wondered how I could have ever believed I had anything to offer. Regardless of what I had learned, it became obvious that I was still just a dumb kid holding to theories that still had not been tested, theories about myself and what I stood for.
In my own special circle of hell, I grasped for any aspect of ‘Me’ that I could trust with certainty. My tether came from my acting training. In a strange way it makes perfect sense. When I am given a script, I know very little about the character I am playing. By deconstructing dialogue and action, studying responses to obstacles, the character becomes a person. With this as my guide, I began to analyze my words, my actions and my reactions.
AFIP proved to be a fitting location for my ‘play’. Dramatic setting – the institute is housed in a retired presidential bomb shelter. The functions performed by the staff (Anthrax testing, DNA Identification, Biohazard research, etc.) never allowed for a dull moment. Factor in the radio broadcasts of the bombing in Afghanistan, a maniac shooting random folk on the street, media buzz words creating fear, hate crimes, racial profiling, a Gestapo –like agency and their ‘Patriot Act’… did I mention a war with Iraq and grumblings in Iran and North Korea? … Can you say DRAMATIC TENSION???
In the middle of all this, my character deployed to Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office.
I am not sure how much of this I should tell you… I don’t know … Anyway, I deployed to Dover in March, 2003 and signed my discharge papers in November ’03. I wanted nothing to do with politics