Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Family Communicating or the Lack Thereof

Before my accident I was motivated to get my siblings to use Skype. This was back before smart phones & tablets were Skype capable. However after Microsoft took over Skype it has mostly become a marketing banner for us non-premium subscribers so I have left Skype.

I've switched to another Instant Messaging & Video application called Discord. Such applications I believe help those of us separated by distance from family members, immediate and extended, to stay connected with each other. Not just connected mind you but more informed, advised, and participating in each others lives. The recent family gathering for my father's funeral helped bring this bad situation once again to my eyes.

These days there isn't a device that is not Skype capable if that is how this connection must happen. Discord is PC and device compliant as well. I love the PC version for reasons I'll happily talk/type about in Discord.

However I put this to all of you, my family and friends, do you want to be connected with me? Do you want the benefit of my experience and/or knowledge at your beck and call? Would you like to help me become, again, a worthwhile individual?

Then Discord up and let us see if we can remove any discord that distance has allowed to creep into our relationships. Message me your Discord ID#, or ask for mine, and lets cure the ailment distance causes.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Herein lies what I currently find offensive

Fellow members of "my" organization has consistently complained about a few of us who attend not in uniform. Being tall and bulky I stand out. So the organization bought us all what we needed as gifts. Mine was for a couple of years of service not just because I was out of uniform.

So my uniform showed up and I was happy until I looked it over, then I got angry. I hate any thing, person, or group that limits my options. I define who I am by my actions, I'll rage against the machine that pre-defines me in any way, shape, or form.

To safely explain, I now have a t-shirt that I "should" wear for all meetings. This t-shirt is in the organizations colors, has the organizations name boldly printed on it, (so far so good right?) and has my current job title on it. CURRENT!!!

See, volunteer would be fair - janitorial volunteer is not. By placing "janitorial volunteer" upon it does this mean I can only be a janitor? Or if someone else rises to that position should I give them my "gift", oops, t-shirt.

And putting job title on the t-shirt is almost always a personal choice, one people make for themselves. Someone else made this decision for me, and just me!. They chose to pay a little extra for this to happen but only for me of the group so lucky to receive such a gift.

Now I'd like to speak up but am I being whiney?

Of course I don't think so, I'm offended that this happened. I feel it's a gesture of disrespect as I held a much more significant job than janitor let me tell you. Just because I stepped down to janitor, it does need to happen!, doesn't mean that is all I am now, all I've contributed, or all I may contribute from now on.

And therein lies what I find offensive.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I have a story to share with two topics.

The first topic dominates the story but is not the primary story that is being told. It just creates the situation for a bunch of young men to live through. And they did live through it, continued on to ripe ages, and inspired some of those around them.

The Vietnam War happened, there are many opinions that can be expressed (some of them my own as well), but the simplest statement is: It happened. It required more personnel than was currently available, or motivated to be available, so the Selective Service was activated and many people were drafted to serve.

This greatly effected 3 young men. Now specific details are not available to me nor do they really matter. What day someone got their draft notice is not exactly relevant to this story. What is relevant was that 3 brothers served during that time period and the choices made from that complicated scenario is the point of this story.

The oldest brother went first and to the honorable U.S.M.C.. Which was a damn fine choice because I can only describe him, yes I know him intimately, as a warrior, a never ending warrior ready for anything life threw at him. Made him difficult to live with, yes, but made him something of an Idol to me. So much so I followed his example later on in my own life.

He went to Vietnam and survived. That was not easy for new troops! What people don't get is no amount of training, NONE, can prepare you for that moment. That moment when combat starts and people start dying around you. Usually in gruesome ways with unpleasant noises. Some of them you know and like, others you have no idea and maybe even hate as those are the enemy. So novice troops have a high casualty rate due to lack of experience. He successfully transformed from a novice to a living warrior.

When his service time was coming to an end, he was eager to go home and stop being attacked, when he found out that his younger brothers was drafted. He choose to be an impediment to his brothers being assigned in Vietnam, as novice troops!, by staying in Vietnam until their enlistments were completed. So his service lasted many years much to the dismay of his family and, more importantly, to his brothers. The one brother completed his time in the Army but the younger brother was still enlisted in the Marines.

To remove the motivation for his older brother to keep in Vietnam the younger brother made himself a problem child. Problem children are quickly dealt with in many ways but the leaders of that time took the easiest route to address that behavior: Misconduct Discharge.

When that happened, the oldest brother came home and the family renewed their intense bond. So much so at several points of their later lives these brothers lived with each other even though wives and children were involved.

The example set by the older brother inspired me to do something similar when I was called upon for Desert Shield/Storm. I had been out of the military for almost a year when that started and I got a phone call from the Army. "Would you be willing to come back?" I was asked and immediately I thought of my brother who was serving as an Infantryman at that exact time. "Yes!" was the answer that I said and I spared my brother, not so in his words I should add, combat service. But I honored family history with that choice.

And that is the key element of this story. That warrior Marine was my uncle, the youngest brother is my Dad. I choose against the Marines due to the way the Marines mishandled, in my opinion, my father's honor and integrity so I joined the Army. But serving is built into my family, men and women alike(!), so when those moments came upon me I always think of what would Dad do?

That Bad Conduct Discharged Marine has been the guiding angel of my life. Uncle Marine inspired the warrior heart of me but Dad, who later became a minister, guided this mind to understand the power of peace and love. So much so that my initial thoughts on any situation are peaceful and helpful. Never violent until that option is chosen by someone else. Considering the skills and heart that the warrior cultivated in me I regularly suggest people to NOT choose that option.

But at the end of this tale we come to the place where I share my primary thought for sharing this gem of family history. Dad has entered the final stage of his wondrous life. While I am sure that I will not accomplish my goal within the time frame involved but I have for many years thought about this goal. With this point approaching I am going to make this goal a goal in my life.

Addressing my Father's discharge upgrade should have been done many decades ago. And the upgrade will have zero financial effect to anyone involved. However the emotional effect will be tremendous. It will be something of an after effect recognition of his honorable choices, one of which I am. I can't imagine how uplifting this would be to my family, immediate and extended.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

There are several important women in my life.

Off the top of my head there are six. The hold various roles but I can not imagine my life without a single one of them.

My Mom, the Great Investigator. There was never a part of my life she did not dive into and immerse herself within to better understand what makes me tick.

My Wife, my Commander. Like a good Commander she guides me, she protects me, she inspires me. Not only would I die for her but a bad end will come to anyone who does her any harm, a very bad end.

My sisters, my Cheerleaders. Very positive, sometimes not so positive, but without fail they are beside their brother. Through thick or thin, through his insight or his idiocy, they are there.

My Daughters. The two of them have had a huge impact on who I am. I've always been upfront about the tragedy that is my life regarding my off spring.

The oldest, bless her soul, was hidden from me (by design) until the investigator finally succeeded in locating her and initiating contact. This has lead to a decade of bittersweet joy. Whenever I see Yaz, whenever I talk to Yaz, I love and hate her mother who gifted me with a such a beautiful mind and robbed me of seeing that mind become.

The youngest was born with trouble. Trouble caused by the damage done to my chromosomes during Desert Storm. I feel most burdened by this damage as it was, in essence, my fault. I did NOT have to go. (Well they probably would have insisted if I said no but) So in my mind and soul I felt her birth defect was my fault.

During the first week of her life she had to have significant operations to allow her more life. I stayed with her each day and each night while this was happening. Whenever she went into the hospital for revision surgery, I was there even at the cost of my job which I eventually lost due to my adherence to her side.

A few months after I lost that job a great employment opportunity opened up for me literally across the country. I took a bus, yes a bus, from Philadelphia PA to San Jose CA for this job. And this job was good for me, I tried to maintain contact with Baby Mom, though to be honest she did not want me to be around, but life was better for me.

Then one day life transformed for me. A Philly friend of mine expressed his remorse over my loss of my daughter. Loss of my daughter?!? Since that time I have had to tell people about how my one daughter died from birth defects my willing service caused her at a tender age of 5. That horror had dreadful impact upon my psyche. I started to experience PTSD in debilating fashion. The most painful was the flashbacks which I had not experienced before this point and has taken several decades to control. It did cause me to leave my profession though as it became the trigger which caused them.

That is the effect that I don't tell people about. The news about my loss triggered something of a mental meltdown. Nothing untoward to the community around me... all the pain and discomfort went to the target, Me.

Well, the great investigator was uncovered another great mystery of my life. the youngest did not die. The friend was mistaken in his report and my avoidance of spending significant time in her hometown has kept this mistake alive. She lives and once again life, and service, has robbed me of the life and love of a daughter. However, I am going to strive to thrive (as always) in the face of this revelation. I think I'll get Yaz to open contact with her sister, Amanda, and let them work out how I should be punished. Positive or negative I will accept their judgement and punishment whatever that may be.

They are and have been, truly, significant portions of my psyche. There is no part of me that I will not own though a writhe in shame at some parts. However at no point was I ever deceitful or unscrupulous so I leave the dice where they lay and regret only the numbers that appeared.

I do not regret tossing the dice.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Too soon!

All of my friends and acquaintances were right there after my accident. They tried to help me recover, and they did, but their efforts, or the focus of their efforts, was misdirected. They tried to help me re-become and sadly that isn't possible.

The old me, that 45 year old war Veteran, disappeared in that accident. What was left was me and I needed to regrow up. Mentally and psychologically. Early in my recovery I was not "old" enough to understand much of what was going on around me. My church put their arms around me, my Masonic lodge tried to help me shoulder on through, and many local, and not so local, friends put a comforting hand on my back so that I didn't feel so lost.

What many did not understand was how much I did not understand.

For instance, all my food likes and dislikes have changed, significantly. So being out with friends who encouraged me to eat this or that as "the old me" used to love it, and the new me did not, might have been an oppsie.

Or another example, the old me used to have an understanding of decorum. A simple thing but a profound thing, at least between kids and adults. I used to be a 45 year old Adult, I was no longer. I'm not even close to that adulthood even now many years later. I am not the kid that I was, and I most definitely was a child. Here I was being reintroduced to affairs fit for the adult I was when I was no longer an adult.

Did I embarrass myself and those around me, Yes!
Did I generate hostility towards myself for lack of decorum and understanding, Yes!
Was this a mistake by others trying too soon to introduce me to who I used to be? Yes!

And therein lies the additional trauma, personal of course, from my accident. Each and every day I endure my condition, outwardly with a smile upon my face, and I hate it. There are times I want to fall down on my knees and scream at the Universe for placing me here. And I feel regret for the accidents and mishaps for my friends, brothers, and family trying too much, too soon.

I can't help but feel grateful for their trying however I can't help but feel regret for things that happened. I can only point to the wheel and say, "I wasn't driving, at all." And hope that many of those involved accept my regret as an apology while recognizing their involvement in those times.

One can only hope...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What, or who, is a GECK?

G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is an interesting story device used by Interplay and Black Isle Studios in Fallout 2 (1998). What they didn't know was that I had already been granted that title in 1983. In my case it was a portmanteau of Geek and Jock.

I am very much a geek.

Yes, I was on chess teams. I played many forms of pen & paper role-playing games. I was even a D.M. for a 14 man gaming group that gathered and played during Desert Storm. I started my programming life with Basic, progressed to FORTRAN and U.S.C.D. Pascal in High School. During High School I also got to use much of Temple University's facilities. At my height of success I worked in Silicon Valley pushing myself to limits undreamt of by my parents though they did like it.

But in equal measure I am a jock as well. I'm built like a 6+ foot, 275 lbs linebacker and I've played many forms of sports, in school and in the military. The most aggressive military sport I engaged is was war.

There is much about me that is still geek though my traumatic brain injury has changed a lot about my skills, passions, and tolerances. I don't remember any Pascal, PHP, or Klingon though I'll admit I wasn't quite fluent in those. Something I do remember is integrity and self dignity.

See, I've recently changed course with a alternate reality game I play. Reaching the maximum level attainable I decided to switch teams. Granted with a two team league I suspected there would be some hard feelings with some players on my old team but I never suspected the level of hostility I've started to encounter. Being called bad names and having my character questioned & slandered is annoying.

I wonder if my accusers have any idea of who they attack with their thoughts? Their pitiful minds are consumed by the shallow and petty world they have inside the game. They are angry that I beat them out and decided to totally restart on the other team once I maxed out. But it is not unusual for me to choose this course.

I love beginning game, in chess, in computer gaming, in all things. Mid-game is nice too. The complexities and course start to emerge from the limitless options beginning game presents. End-game is, to me, boring as hell. There is little that can surprise me once that point is on the close horizon. Might explain why I love Shyamalan's movies, very little about many of his movies are obvious endings until the ending.

In closing, I'm just getting out my feelings in response to such harassment. I only made one negative comment their direction and this diatribe was my thoughts on it. Guess this is a moment where I become close to their real problem which I accused them:

"Get your head out of your a$$."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Talk, talk, talk. Something I can not reliably do.

Something that people don't get no matter how plain I am about it: I'm afraid to talk.

Aphasia makes me terrified of conversation, truly. It can not be avoided but what I can avoid is any discussion with depth or substance. Regardless of necessity, I just can not face the stress of starting one as it is highly likely that I'll lose the ability to talk... period.

I know my condition can, at times, make me something of an embarrassment. I know just how undignified and stupid I appear when Aphasia strikes. I know how much I hate my life when this happens. So why is it so hard to understand my reluctance to talk?

This does create problems though: Almost every part of our society requires verbal interaction. Shouldn't be removed but the flaw for me is that much of those interactions require "initiation" from me in the form of verbal dialogue. That leaves me isolated and abandoned in many ways.

Trouble with the Police? Call the department and talk to someone.
Trouble at work? Call H.R. and talk to someone.
Trouble at VFW? Call Dept, State or National and talk to someone.

Just the start of a list of ways I am isolated and abandoned.