Friday, September 30, 2005

Questions of Purpose

I am posting this to pose a question to you. I know people will have a wide variety of reactions to this and I'd like to hear your take on it. This link leads to a letter written by the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. For some it will raise feelings of pride for the sacrifices U.S. soldiers and their families are making. For others, it will cause feelings of disgust over another life wasted in a pointless war. For me it stirs feelings from both sides. Most of all, I feel that the mother just wanted to make things right with the people charged with a task none of us would want. She never states her opinion on the reasons her son was where he was when he died, just her sadness over his death and her guilt for her reaction to the news of his passing. I couldn't imagine having to write this letter.

A mothers letter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sorry folks

The post titled A Simple Trip to the Post Office has been removed tomporarily. It will return at a later date that is yet to be determined. I'm working on another to replace it now so hang tight.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The misbehavers

Sometimes in life, an unusual situation combined with circumstances beyond our control, and seen from someone else's unprepared perspective can take on a whole new meaning and bear more gravity than the casual observer's brain is capable of processing with any measurable degree of efficiency. At such times the human brain stops cold, as if it were waiting for a train to pass before continuing on it's journey down life's highway. In effect the mind enters 'bullet time', where there is so much information for it to process in such a short instant that time is seen to actually slow down. After those few seconds pass in what seems to be a matter of minutes, time will enter a hyper speed in an effort to catch itself back up with the timeline experienced by the rest of the universe. For some people, such a drastic stretch of the cosmos is not easily recovered from, and they find themselves in a state of shock that far exceeds the actual length of the initial disturbance. The 'Fight or Flight' instinct never engages and the individual is at the mercy of the moment. This is often what determines who lives and who dies.

Fifteen years ago, I was a rather gangly, maladjusted little guy with very little sense of what I should be doing with my free time. As is the norm, I surrounded myself with like minded youths, and due to our limited experience making decisions based on sound judgment, we all too often found ourselves in situations that the common man would strive to avoid. We somehow managed to avoid death, dismemberment, and prosecution by pure luck and, some might argue, divine intervention. Often, for some of us, escape was not possible and we were required by the hoodlum code to bear the brunt of the consequences so that our comrades could flee to greener pastures. Sometimes our escapes were so narrow, so heroic, so beyond belief, that they became the stuff of legend. It would not be inconceivable to make the assumption that, had we lived in a different era, they would be fodder for folk songs. We were not above seeing ourselves in league with Robin Hood or Davie Crockett. Authority had no hold on us. We would not be tamed or fenced by any man.

My usual company in those days was limited to those few who knew no fear. Many tried to run with us, but few ventured out with us more than once. Many were driven away by fear of the consequences. Those who could tolerate us more than once were sworn to never tell too many details of our doings and were our brothers in mayhem. No amount of torture or parental discipline would make one turn on the other. At the same time it was understood by all that we were not war heroes. If you fell behind in times of crisis, you were left behind. It was not uncommon for the slowest guy to be left to the wolves in to save the rest.

Where we grew up, there was little to do for entertainment. Our most common activities and adventures occurred in Carbondale, Illinois. It is a college town about 40 minutes from our home town. Many times, the fact that we commuted is what saved us from being tracked down afterwards. At the time, SIU was near the top of the best party college list. It was fertile ground for our kind of fun, and we never had trouble finding ways to cause trouble there. Even a simple trip to a fast food restaurant was sufficient grounds to warrant rowdiness.

On one such trip, we found out just how odd some people thought our idea of fun really was. On this day we were four, Adam, Chris, Dustin, and myself. We had been on an energetic roll for most of the day. We had come 40 miles with no real agenda and had found excitement in the smallest things as was our usual manner.

This day had all the hallmarks for disaster. We had been taking turns choking down a bottle of foul tasting schnapps Dustin had swiped from his mother. I had my camera. I always carried a video camera for little reason but to annoy strangers and in hopes of catching someone breaking a bone falling off their skateboard. And best of all, Adam was wearing his new kilt. It wasn't much of a kilt though. It was made by his mother who possessed few crafting skills. She had used pastel colored flannel, in a plaid design. It had no pleats like a traditional kilt, and it came down to about the mid calf area. It was essentially a simple, feminine looking skirt that wrapped around his waist and was fastened with velcro. He thought it was cool, so we encouraged him wear it for our own amusement. We even talked him into leaving his underwear at home like a true Scotsman.

We had been causing trouble on campus for most of the day and decided it was time to get food. As we trekked toward the commercial area, we came to a parking lot near the dorms. At the edge of the parking lot was a wooded ridge that separated the lot from the railroad tracks. This patch of woods was our first destination. We planned to finish our bottle of alcohol before we ate. The wooded area was filled with trails and small clearings used by local students for midday pot smoking and late night fornication. Unknown to us, this was why the local police made regular patrols of the area.

We emptied our bottle in short order and were killing a little time climbing the trees and throwing sticks at Dustin in a decided effort to make one stick into his flesh. Dustin was often subjected to such mistreatment because he was immune to pain or insult. He would simply laugh and dodge our wooden missiles with the skill and dexterity of a drunken blind man. We were not shy about screaming at the top of our lungs and creating as much noise as possible during such games. It would not be long before the police would be dispatched to our location.

The game eventually evolved into Dustin being wrestled to the ground by Chris and myself. Once he was subdued, Chris held him down while I fetched the video camera. I began filming and Adam began a slow, gyrating dance above Dustin's captive face. I can only imagine the horror of gazing upon Adam's naked genitals as they swung and flopped under his "kilt". Dustin was wailing and crying like he was being raped as Adam began to slowly lower his ass closer and closer to his face. Adam was holding his "kilt" up around his thighs as he ever so lowly moved closer to his prey, and I moved into position to record the moment of contact. I was on my knees in front of the scene with the lens of the camera pressed in close, the hem of the "kilt" almost resting on top of my head.

From behind me I heard a somewhat distressed voice mumble "What the hell...."

As I spun to see the confused police officer, Chris stood swiftly. Dustin, suddenly freed, rolled to his side and gazed puppy-like at the cop, just his head poking from beneath the curtain of Adam's skirt. Other than that, there was no movement. This was the moment I had spoken of earlier. Time stopped. One could almost hear the sparks popping across everyone's nerve synapses, brains trying desperately to comprehend the spectacle. As the seconds spread out over minutes, not even the wind moved.

Chris was the first act. He turned his back on us and ran. There being no trail in that direction, he made his own through the bushes. Dustin raised to his hands and knees like a wild animal. As he did, his skull pushed Adam's testicles into his pelvis with enough force to knock him down. I chose this moment to break free of the situation. Adam fell head first toward the cop, groaning as he went. I jumped and took the same course of escape as Chris. As I leaped, I grabbed the "kilt" and pulled with all my might, and hit Dustin with a firm shoulder as I passed him. Dustin, still trying to get to his feet, was thrown forward. Tripping over Adam as he groped in panic for something to cover his nakedness, Dustin fell into the still frozen cop's arms. I didn't look back.

Later I met back up with Chris who had taken refuge in an alley behind the strip of bars and pubs downtown. Myself, I just continued with the preset plan of finding food. Chris and I went on to have a glorious night of partying.

The next day, Dustin told of how he had somehow escaped the cops grasp. He was forced to call his mother for a ride home. Aside from her expert scolding, he was OK. Adam unfortunately, was charged with indecent exposure and had to ride to the police station wrapped in a towel. The cop had told him that upon arriving at the scene, he thought he had wandered into a sex act. Adam, having long hair, was thought to be a girl having sex with multiple partners as the camera rolled. It was the realization that Adam was indeed not a girl that had caused the cop to freeze in shock.

Adam's charges were reduced to disorderly conduct and the episode was eventually forgotten by his mother. It was some time before he would go out with us, but he knew the risks before he went. He had no hard feelings toward us.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What the Hell is Going On

It seems as if New Orleans is Caught in some kind of apocalyptic nightmare. People seem to be more concerned with how it will affect gas prices than how to save these people. I'm usually not one to give a shit about politics; but imagine the rescue effort that could be under way if our military was on hand to help the population of our own country instead of playing police man to the planet. How many transport helicopters and 5-ton trucks do we have in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Why is it that the U.S. can give billions of dollars to other countries in their times of crisis, but in our own hour of need, it's the Red Cross and Salvation Army who do the work? Unfortunately since they are, in essence, religious relief organizations, they get no monetary help from our tax dollars. They exist solely on our donations. I saw that Germany has offered help. If Germany is in a position to help us, why do we have thousands of soldiers stationed there?

I am so disgusted with the news. I keep seeing these poor people foraging for food and water in sweltering heat. They keep calling them looters. I'm not so naive to believe that there are not those who are carrying away big screen TV's; but I do believe they are a minority. Have you noticed how many of them are black? It seems that those that could afford the gas left before the storm. Why are the poor always left to fend for themselves? No one went into the ghettos to save them. They had to come swimming out on their own, those that could. How many of the old and sick are still in there waiting to die? I think that when the final numbers roll in we will see a disproportionate number of the dead are from well below the poverty line. We should all be ashamed.