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Retrospection

            My decision to blog again has much to do with the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  I didn’t go into detail about how that day influenced my life in my early posts, truthfully, I skipped the experience entirely.  Everybody has their own version of that day, and each one carries a unique burden in that experience.  Those experiences should not be trivialized or diminished as so often happens when comparisons are made.  I have held my memory of that day close to my heart, protecting it from cynicism and recrimination.

            I avoided all media exposure on the anniversary.  Instead, I sat outside in the sunshine and read a romance novel, avoidance in a truly self-indulgent fashion.  When I had read the last page and the sun had dropped below the horizon I felt ashamed.  Without my distractions I began to feel that I had desecrated the sanctity of that day, that I had disrespected the memory of the lives that were lost.  Some days later I read a memorial blog that changed my perspective.

           From ‘Ephemera and Pseudo-Events’ by J.N. Nielsen:

                        “An anniversary is an arbitrary thing – the length of a year is utterly arbitrary – but it is natural to want to commemorate a loss, as it is natural to want to celebrate some joyous occasion. … To memorialize an event is to prevent its repetition, the render it singular, although we must relive the trauma in each memorialization.  Failure to memorialize an event means that it will be visited upon us time and again, though we will be spared the retraumatization of the continual consciousness of the event.”

             My experiences of that day have shaped every aspect of my life, but not in a negative way.  I honor the memory of that day by living each subsequent day with deep appreciation in my heart.  When I remember that day I don’t linger on images of destruction or fear, I am overcome by the humility and compassion I felt all around me.  I tremble not with grief, but with awe.  Remembering now feels like a renewal of hope, and hope and shame cannot coexist.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Coffee Shop Whore?, Confessions, philosophy, psychology

 

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The Truth About Social Self-Concept

This is not an easy post for me.  My last little post was optimistic, but it was not really how I was feeling.  Yes, I have been having an interesting week, and yes I have  had many great ideas, however, I have not been able to act on many of those ideas.

The truth is, I have not been liking myself this past week.

I am in a new place where I don’t know anybody.  I have never really had that  many ‘friends’ per se, but I usually have people who know me and who accept my eccentricity, despite the nature of eccentricity, mine is rather consistent.  That is no longer the case.  I find myself having to explain myself once again.  There is nothing quite as disheartening as justifying why I am the way that I am.  And, no, I can’t just ‘be normal’, it is far too late for that.

For all that I have learned so far in my life, I am still frozen in fear when faced with a job application.  Somehow I find it difficult to fill those darn things out.  How do you explain gaps in employment in three lines of ‘additional information’?  How do you explain that you haven’t known someone for two years but that  you know more about them after two hours of real conversation.  How do you ask that person to be a reference?

How do you explain that you have a phone number from one state, a mailing address in another and a driver’s licence from yet another.  These have been the circumstances of my life for as long as I can remember.  In fact, I  have never lived at the address on my driver’s licence, but I needed a stable street address, I had to give the DMV my mother’s address.  Why can’t I stop moving?

I have no reason to stay other than to stay.

The jobs that I have had in the past – well, since the Navy – have been dissatisfying.  When I am hired, I am told the guiding mission statement for a company – and I believe it.  It all seems to make sense, yet as the month’s go by, a corner is cut, a shortcut is taken, the bottom line comes to light.  I find that I no longer respect the company I am working for… I move on.

Does that make me a runner?  I guess so.  Perhaps I have held on to the dream of purpose and of pride in accomplishment.  I like to think that it is more important to lose a sale and keep the customer than the other way around.  I like to think that people are more important than  profit margins…. this does not make me a team  player.

I have hidden in academics, a way to avoid disappointment in the working world, but more and  more, the lines are blurring.  Textbook costs are through the roof, teachers are disenfranchised by limitations on what they can teach, they are stressed about how to stretch their  paycheck a little further because number crunchers say that it is more important to buy the new computer thn it is to invest in creative minds.  Frustration rolls down hill and students seek a piece of paper rather than information and education.  Conversation and curiosity dies.

I fill out applications for jobs that minimize my exposure to hu,man beings, not because I don’t like people, but because I don’t want to have to explain why I am the way that I am.  I don’t want to be asked why, if I am so smart, why am I doing this job or that job when the answer is very simple.  I need to eat.

I think about applications, and then job interviews and I wonder where I missed the lesson on the ‘right answer’.  Is there such a thing.  What do  they want to hear?  What do you want to hear?  What do I want to hear?  It all gets so complicated… I want to hear silence.

I have tried to stop apologizing for myself, but in this case I am sorry to be so morose.  Normally I am pretty good with me, but on paper it is difficult to see much that is redeeming.  I guess that is what happens when you only look at the bottom line.

 

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Reparative Repartee (Part 3)

 
 
 

  

September 2009

 

     As I have chosen to postpone the dissection of Plan’s B, C, and D, I find myself hesitant and ‘cautious’ in my conclusion on this matter.  So I think it best to give credit where credit is due.  This three-part disclaimer was inspired by Collin Raye.  I usually keep my writing nondenominational … nothing causes offense as quickly as religion.   I hope that the contextual reference and resulting imagery will find a common thread for all belief systems.  

The Song:

What if Jesus  

Comes Back Like That  

The Lyrics:

Nobody says life is fair
we’ve all got a cross to bear
but when it get’s a little hard to care
just think about Him hanging there

   

  

The cross I bear is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I have decided that this diagnosis is not sufficient reason for me to stop caring.  I made a conscious decision to not become desensitized to what I witnessed – no matter how  painful or horrifying – and I have made a conscious decision to not be defined by trauma, but rather by the insights I have gained from observation and reflection.     

Three  years ago I had a daily intake of seven different prescription medications – none of which were much help.   

Two years ago I began to eliminate them, one at a time.  

Today, I am medication free and walk the fine line between mind over matter. 

 At times my emotional reactions and opinions are stronger or more passionate than expected and are misread as aggression, anger or hostility.   

This is rarely the case.   

Thus endeth the disclaimer.    

         

 
 
 

  

Pleasant Harbour, Arizona

 

   

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Confessions

 

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Reparative Repartee (part 2)

     The small-minded element of human population will always seek an excuse for their smallness.  It is unfortunate fact that innocent bystanders are damaged by this quest.  This is the price of societal evolution, if there was no need for change, there would be no fight for that change to occur.  History is filled with the tragedy of innocents suffering at the hands of the narrow-minded.  Boiled down to basics the story goes as follows:

  • Person A has the power and wishes to keep it
  • Person B is oppressed
  • Person A goes too far
  • Person B gains a sense of self-worth
  • Person A denies the worth of Person B
  • Person B tells Person A to take a hike

While the details may differ, the formula remains consistent.  At various times in life we are both Person A and Person B, I challenge anyone to disagree.

    I can vouch for myself that I have occupied both roles and found neither to be satisfying.  Therefore, the foundation for Plan E is to play a new role.   Person C.

  • Person C does not oppress nor are they oppressed
  • Person C owns their self-worth
  • Person C promotes the intrinsic value of others

I can anticipate at least three responses to Person C:

  1. Cool… have at.
  2. Idealistic little twit
  3. Egotistical snot

Responses 2 and 3 are equal in their popularity, they can both be dismissed after answering the following questions (which I ask myself daily):

  • Are you being honest with yourself and those affected?
  • Have you provided context and evidence?
  • Are your motivations honorable?
  • Are you seeking approval?
  • Have you asked questions?
  • Have you invited discussion?
  • Have you invited honesty?
  • Are you trying to make yourself happy or someone else?
  • Who are you?  Have you represented yourself as someone/something different?
  • What makes you think you are special?  Who do you think you are?
  • Are you qualified?
  • Are you satisfied with ‘struggling’ or ‘aspiring’?
  • Are you playing it safe?
  • Are you holding back?
  • Do you feel apologetic?
  • Do you feel ashamed?
  • Do you feel like a fraud?

The most elusive of the responses, response number 1, I have heard only a handful of times.  In those moments I am comfortable to be me.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Confessions

 

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Reparative Repartee (part 1)

     This post is a bit scary for me. I had planned to procrastinate its  publication until I had posted my extended biography.  This is the disclaimer of  me.  My biography was to be the disclaimer for my disclaimer.  How’s that for cautionary measures?

    However, in relating Plan A, I am reminded that ‘caution’ is neither a natural nor long-held characteristic of mine.  In truth, it is not a characteristic that I am entirely comfortable with or sure what to do with.  If I hadn’t paid such a  high price for the acquisition, I would throw it out the window.

     I do appreciate and even respect necessary caution under certain circumstances.  Sky diving, alligator wrestling, splitting an atom…a few others come to mind, but I can say with absolute certainty that caution is unnecessary in self-expression.  Discretion yes, caution NO.

     Let me clarify.

     Opinions and emotions should not be suppressed simply because they may be objectionable.  There is a time and a place for vocalizing opinions, yet as a result of caution opinions go unvoiced.  Emotions are an entity all on their own.  Whether expressed or not, appropriate time or not, emotional reactions occur.  Caution causes many of those reactions to be swallowed, repressed, sucked up, covered up or denied.  This is unhealthy.

     The simple truth about emotions is that they are unpredictable and involuntary.  Despite the judgements we place upon ourselves or society places upon us for our reactions, physics wins.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Insult me and I shall become offended. 

     The difficult truth about opinions is that, regardless of how objectionable they may be, they must not be suppressed.  It does not matter if someone is offensive — that is reflective of who they are, not really a reflection on the offended party.  In taking offense, (an emotional reaction) an individual recognizes a divergence in thought – a good thing to recognize.  How a person reconciles offenses against them defines their character.  In a way, this blog is a tool in my personal reconciliation.

     That said, what follows is my opinion.  If I offend, I want to know how and why – not so I can argue, contradict or justify.  No, I want to know how or why I have offended in order to learn.  This does not imply that my opinion will change, but if I am  wrong I have no problem admitting to it, I am wrong at least once an hour, I am used to being wrong. 

     ‘Wrong’ is not bad, shameful or embarrassing.  Small or narrow-minded is unforgivable.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Confessions

 

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The End of Plan A

Part Four

                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

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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More of Plan A

Part Three of Four
     In November of 2000, at the age of 21, I was selected to participate in a trial of first term, E-4 recruiters. Previously, the minimum rank requirement was E-5 and candidates had served in at least two different commands. I became the youngest recruiter in Naval Recruiting District (NRD) New York. I had always wanted to see the Big Apple, but I always assumed it would be acting that got me there. So much for assumptions.
     I wish I could say that my enjoyment of life continued in this transfer, but that would be a lie. Classified as Independent Duty, recruiting was more like Isolation Duty. I adored my recruiter, he was honest with me, told me the good and the bad. He did not try to push me into anything I did not want and he did not rush me into signing anything. He was a decent human being, and it was his example that I followed. Who could have guessed that it would get me in trouble? In recruiting, quota is king. People must be viewed as numbers – some people have higher number values (minority males); some have lower number values (females, regardless of race); some are bread and butter (white males) .  Understanding the number’s and how to use them in your favor, that is the key to succeed in recruiting.
     Now, I can’t say if it was due to idealism or whether I was just too fresh from the fleet, I did not feel comfortable putting a psychopath in my navy, and when ordered to do so, I refused. Disobeying a direct order from a superior officer is still one of the cardinal sins for military folk. But as a Chaplain I once knew said, “Sir, you may hold a higher rank than I do, but unless you are Christ or the God Almighty Himself, you are not superior.” I had enough wisdom not to repeat this when I was standing in front of my commanding officer. I was quietly hidden away at NRD Headquarters in Long Island while I awaited new orders.
     One Tuesday morning, I watched a plane fly into a building.  That’s enough about that.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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