Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This month in 1987

This month in 1987:

- My daughter had been born almost on Thanksgiving

- Completed Airborne School

- Recovering from walking Pneumonia

- Devastated that I was disqualified from West Point (and all the promotions that came with that!)

- Reassigned from the 82nd Airborne to the 101st Airborne (now Air Assault)

This was my life 27 years ago. I thought North Philly was hard, and it was, but what I was to endure the next 18 months was beyond what North Philly ever did, or tried, to do to me. Pssst, Desert Shield/Storm was 27 months away and that was easy in comparison to my first tour of duty (tho it still sucked serving under peace time Jeniuses).

The reason this is relevant now (???) is because I'm struggling with my current recovery. Depression pointed out to me something odd about my accident. In one moment, one flash snap of time, I was aged (mentally and physically) about 25 - 30 years. So I ponder all the things I experienced, accomplished, endured, and enjoyed the past 25 - 30 years of my life and realize that while I may have been aged that much, >snap<, I have not "lived" that much. Just been reduced to a senior citizen in almost every aspect and not given the benefit of any reason to be bitter.


To this day, still don't really know what happened to me. I don't remember much of the 15 miles I traveled on my bike to be one time for my accident. I remember some of the event, the build up, the start, and some of the vistas the Lord let me enjoy. The last thing I remember was having climbed up a hill to a gorgeous vision of this wonderful Earth. As I started to descend, I raised my voice in joy (along with my arms) to the Lord for this wonderful gift.

That is my last memory and my warmest, most emotional, memory.

To Yaz, I'm sorry that your Mom denied me parental privilege the way she did. I can only hope that I have shown you love and appreciation for the impact your life has had upon me.

27 years ago I was a recovering North Philly hood. My Dad did what he could whenever he could but between me and the streets he was vastly outnumbered. Following his footsteps I choose to serve but I was still 5 kinds of deviousness. Then you were born and I was transformed. From the pupae I was to the person I was then. The person I still am today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I'm dismayed...

... yesterday, today, and (quite probably) tomorrow.


My primary agrees, I am disabled. Not as much as initial reports had cautiously warned my wife I would be. I don't dribble saliva unwanted, my eyes track like normal, other than the scars on my forearms no marks. If you don't talk to me, or shuck up my sleeves, I look normal.

But I am

Where the significant disability comes into play is.... my psychology. In thought, many times, I forget that I even had the accident. I've got little, or no, memory of the event I was attending. Zero memory of the accident, completely. Sometimes my brain will be zipping along unhindered and than >BAM< I remember.

I try to interact with you people, everybody else, and it becomes apparent to me as I try. In my own head I am reflecting on my behavior and thinking "OMG, what an idiot!?!" It is in behavior that I have been significantly reduced as a person. In many ways I have been reduced to a teenager. Impulse control, social awareness, even language is not under my control as is expected of a grown man.

However, if you ask Social Security if I am disabled they will tell you no. Apparently going to war for this government is all fine and dandy when the bullets are flying but when you need your government to have your back - "Tough luck sucker"!

This is where my disability becomes apparent. I still suffer some Aphasic moments and this is complicated in the workplace. Heck, just one aspect of my personality (before accident) is a workplace complication at times. I am a Gentleman. I want to be a "gentle" man but if you are not careful you may realize how ungentle I really am.

Sadly, in some aspects of our society (Lifetime channel is a good place to point) being a "gentleman" is flirtatious. It is also deceitful among the many other "flaws" of masculine aspects. Combine respectful by nature with Aphasia and life gets complicated. A fine example is my recent attempt to rejoin the workplace via Home Depot. In retrospect, I had no reason to be grateful to a co-worker (female) however expressing inadvertent gratitude gave her a sexual harassment compliant.

Did I offer or ask? No, but that has nothing to do with "complaint" from a woman. Apparently, our legal environment is only concerned with the possibility of complaint, not the validity, to create drama and financial woes. And that is just one aspect of my disability in the workplace.

However Social Security, AMERICA the land of the free and the brave, sent me a rejection letter for my claim. I think it is a rejection letter. On the phone, via voice, I was totally rejected. I got a letter to that effect however I have not opened that letter. I got it 1 year ago, in fact. I realize that it is not for me to open that letter. That is for my attorney to do.

That is the next aspect of my disability. Today I am going to look at getting one here locally. As I am not from New England, I have little resources or history to work with in this regard. I've asked my brother, who is in the legal profession, for guidance but alas I have not gotten any. However a good friend of mine (about my age and another Desert Storm Veteran) has some recent legislative experience and I am going to go with his suggestion. "Word of mouth" after all... ...

However I am dismayed by how many ways society has abandoned me. I'm a veteran, who has not been seen by his VA doctor in a year. I'm a freemason, who is considered of ill worth because my psychology is not as staid and stuffy as the other guys (anymore) and that my financial wallet is not as open as it used to be. I'm male, and the list of problems associated with that grows daily - ask any female misanthrope. (Who are more common then they themselves realize.)
I am dismayed and disabled.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


... I need.

One of my problems is I can't slow down my thoughts however I have lost the ability to do proper follow through. Or, put like this, I have become the equivalent of a 7 yr old. Impulsive as crazy but dedicated to little.

This means, there are a lot of plans and activities that I have thought through, in detail. Sometimes I ask questions and do things to test the waters of my plans. However, something shiny or flashy will enter my attention and there I go... off like a Magpie chasing it down.

This behavior is disruptive to my finances and my marriage. Finances, easy to understand. Marriage, with a strong, organized, powerful woman as my partner how can being married to a Magpie NOT frustrate and annoy the hell out of her. She stands by my side, without question, however how can I not feel pain watching her love & commitment be tested.

I've tried turning around me for shoulders to lean upon but so far only one shoulder has proven to be sufficient. My church, God bless them, has striven to be that shoulder yet there are memories coming out of me that I should not share with them. They don't think about such things and many of them has never even been close these things. American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans, always there however like my church - things they should not have to worry about. Even the state of New Hampshire has fallen short of the mark: Krempels Center, an organization of con artists, and a couple other brain injury support groups has tried but one qualification necessary to understand is a qualification that "normals" discriminate against.

Veterans of Foreign Wars has proven to be sufficient. It is a place where people gather together to help each other where they can. Help each other to bear memories that are very heavy. Irony being, like prize fighters, old soldiers deal with brain injury on the regular. After "x" number of explosions, "x" number of parachute crashes... errr... landings, "x" number of mild, or severe, concussions, where does the "brain injury survivor" badge gets put on that chest as a medal?

As an example, this is an example of how much thinking I do. I've thought these things many times but each time I start I forget that I've thought about it. Until about now...

And just about now comes the realization that, for the most part, none of you gives a damn.

I think that is what bothers me about being gracious to the gratitude expressed by civilians. I feel damned awkward when someone thanks me for my service. Why awkward? Because I refrain from asking them how do they show that thanks? Voting on worthwhile Veteran issues? Nah, that would dip into my pocket! Nah, that would require effort and thought! It is much better to just say the words "Thank you for your service" and dismiss you out of hand as if you were part of the wait staff. A waiter who does not even get a tip!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some Research...

... into Brain Injury as a plot device/mechanism is what I am doing. I've been intrigued by the common nature of the mechanism (Galahad is the term I think). Where the memory is wiped so that re-introduction to the main character is also an introduction to us at the same time.

Now, this mechanism is rife in literature and movies but I'm interested in making a list of Video Games that use this mechanism. I.e. Fallout New Vegas, Lost Planet (#1), on and on.

So, if you know of an entry to this list please email john paul lavelle at gmail dot com (remove the spaces). I'll make a google doc listing what comes up at some point when I can remember how to do so. Pardon me while I go play a session of life with brain injury. :-)

Friday, June 27, 2014

My trip to Philly brought more awareness...

... of how bad the Krempels Center was for me.

Becoming my friend, via social media, Brie was able to reach out and offend everyone I knew. This was "news" to me. I had dinner with an old high school buddy whose wife is a professional in the disabled support industry. She was astonished at my recovery levels, made me smile, but expressed concern regarding Brie. Apparently Robin had to De-friend the crazy ho-bag who engaged in copious amounts of "not safe for work" activity. It got me trying to think back on how Brie became my friend.

Brie is a brain injury survivor that I met at Krempels 7 months after my injury. Now, granted, I took myself there (remarkable ability of mine) however they should have told me to come back in eight (8) months. 7 + 8 = 15 months AFTER my traumatic brain injury.

That is important as the first three (3) months after such an injury there is little, to none, cognitive recovery. Then it takes twelve (12) months after for sapience to properly return. At that point, the injured should be tested for social re-integration. Any brain injury professional will tell you, this process is important and should NOT be violated as it may cause issues, or the appearance of issues, in the recovery.

Seven (7) months after my injury, six (6) months after enduring comatose states, Krempels introduced me to a Piranha without any warning of any kind. In fact, complaining about the Piranha got the local police involved.... at Krempels' request. Going to my local police to stop a stalker got police after me... by the stalker's good friends at the Krempels' Center.

Still, what enabled me to be so gullible as to allow Brie access to my life, my computer, and my money?

Marijuana is what.

Brie regularly smokes. 2nd Hand smoke re-ignited my nicotine habit. But she doesn't just smoke tobacco. I had to regularly ask her to stop smoking weed in my car. I grew up around it and I know the dangers of it but my wife grew up near it and hates the smell of it. Without realizing the specific smell... she still hates it and when the whiff of it enters the air she gets hostile. So, Brie wanted my wife hostile to me (by smoking it around me) but also to impair my thought process via 2nd hand smoke.

And this is what the Krempels Center did for me. Introduced a weed smoking pot head to a brain injured person, complain to the Police when I asked her to stop stalking me, and made me Person-Non-Grata at the Portsmouth Community Center. So much so that when I showed up, quiet and reserved, at the Governor's (of New Hampshire) Public Hearing on treatment and discrimination against the Disabled... police officers escorted me from the hearing.

I guess the Krempel's Center Staff (who called the Police) was concerned that I'd complain about their violating my HIPAA to the Police. I have never had any interaction with Portsmouth Police, in fact any nearby Police Department until I reported a stalker, however the Portsmouth Police readily had information that was only available from my Medical Records, which the Krempels Center snatched a few pages from... without consent of me or my wife.

And I should be a big man and forget the harm that they did to me? I would do so if not for my concern that they would do this to any brain injured veteran (like me) that may cross their door. After all, my being a combat veteran was much ado when I showed up. Silly me, I should've shut up and acted as disabled as they wanted me to appear instead of trying to ask intelligent questions.

PS: Irony being, she regularly carries weed into the Portsmouth Community Center, one time I saw a whole ounce, which is supposed to be a safe place environment. Using the "safe place" aspect to slander my reputation.... ironic wot?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What is wrong with me... ...

... ... that other people are not telling me?

This is something that has started plaguing my thoughts:

  • I don't go to church regularly like I used to because maybe they are not telling me. 
  • I don't go to the VFW like I used to because maybe they are not telling me. 
  • I don't want to go outside of my house like I used to because maybe people are not telling me. 

I don't want to be an embarrassment to my wife or family or society that I am part of... so instead of making myself available like I should, like I had wanted to, I hide myself away at my computer. Hours and hours spent playing games to keep this Mensan's mind active, praying for the day that I recover more mental ability so that I finally understand what is so wrong with me that people are not telling me.
Now, in fairness, I am probably worrying about nothing. Worrying about something that does NOT exist at all. But from the way some people have treated me I can't help but wonder and worry.

I.e. The Portsmouth Community Campus, where Krempel's is a "tenant", does not wish my presence in their community. So much so, they contacted the Portsmouth Police Department and had a trespassing ban issued upon me. Today, on this Memorial day commemorating my valiant Combat/War service to this country is not welcome at Portsmouth's Civil gathering location. (???)

The real problem, for me, is that there was no reason, at all, given for this action. None so I am left to speculate on possibilities. How petty can the local gov't be to the Federal Gov't that it would like to punish a wounded veteran? Or, or, or, there are so many possibilities that even going done this road is painful.

I just have one question:

What is wrong with me that other people are not telling me?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

No amount of reading will ever beat experience...

... and I think this is part of why the Lord let me live.

Before I joined the Army I quietly, but shortly, dated a troubled soul. There was some level of physical interaction and from that brief moment of our lives a daughter was conceieved. Much more on this story, of course, but that would be digressing from the point of this chapter.

So, as I was 18 years old, healthy and untarnished from the events that will take place, I concieved a beautiful and healthy young girl who is getting older as I type. She is a lovely specimen of her father's love and the only child of mine that is still alive. All other offspring have passed on but there is no complaint in my soul regarding this. Those breif moments I had with them, extremely brief, were gifts from the Lord.

One of them, Amanda, almost lived out of toddlers years but succumbed to the condition that has, and will, afflict any child born of me. Nueral Tube Defects are not pretty, particularly encephalocele, of which 4 daughters have been born with from me. From me and several different women. It is, specifically, me that has major chromosomal damage and no one else. They may bring complicating side effects but it is me.

Now, I have always regretted serving in Desert Storm because of the children such service has cost me. Not to mention the emotional pain to women who were worthwhile (after a fashion) before such a loss. One poor woman, my 1st wife, suffered through multiple births and deaths before washing her hands of me and my damage. It is now easy to see why so many co-workers of mine never knew of my service. Talking about it brings the pain into focus and primary status, even just for a brief time, and I just did not want to trawl through that pain over and over again.

One thing that did plague my thoughts was: What would their life be like with such damage to their brains?

After all, even they survive birth with such a condition life long treatment involves "shunts". Revisions of "shunts" are common and the damage from inserting them, heck even removing them, is "unknown" at this level of medical expertise. So, Amanda could have grown up to be a beautiful young lady impaired from repeated, but neccessary, brain injury.

How would she be? What could she remember? When would she think?

These things I did research upon and was worried about the diminished life she would lead.

Talk about hubris hunh? As if life, for me, has been so great that coming up short of mine is a diminishment. The truth it my life, while having interesting moments, has been good. It has been rewarding and worthwhile. Even now, in my diminished state - life is good.

I am surrounded by the love of good woman. Supported by the good graces of my church and sometimes treated well by family members. I have had almost 50 years of interesting times to try to remember, if I can, of worthwhile moments. Primarily because of the Lord's grace but assisted by my refusal of being slimey.

So, in closing, I studied and researched what I feared for my little girl's lives but no amount of that brought me even close to understanding the road in front of them. Heck, the road that Amanda walked for a few years. Now, practical experience is showing me what I thought I knew, but feared, and is showing me that life is still good.

Even now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Walking Miracle Who Ain't...

Those who are familiar with the details of my accident point out to me that I am a walking miracle.

I stand tall.

I walk tall.

I talk without drool.

My eyes see you for the potential target you may be.
It is not lazy nor am I.

There are 5 groups of support nature that I am going to type about. Community Action Partners, St John's United Methodist Church, Eve Online Buddies on Skype, Krempel's Center (Stepping Stones previously), and the Ingress community.

Community Action Partnership of Strafford County is a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit organization celebrating 50 years of service. Our mission is to educate, advocate and assist people in Strafford County to help meet their basic needs and promote self sufficiency. We do this through a variety of coordinated programs and services that rely on local, state and federal partnerships and collaborations. (Irony being that at the time of my accident I was the Asst Spvr for Strafford County's Meals on Wheels program.)

St. John’s is a diverse and reconciling congregation of almost 450 members actively seeking to discover what it means to live and work together as people of God. We are located in Dover, New Hampshire USA.

Eve Online (stylised EVE Online) is a video game by CCP Games. It is a player-driven, persistent-world MMORPG set in a science fiction space setting. Characters pilot customizable ships through a galaxy of over 7,500 star systems.[1][2] Most star systems are connected to one or more other star systems by means of stargates. The star systems can contain moons, planets, stations, wormholes, asteroid belts and complexes.

Players of Eve Online can participate in a number of in-game professions and activities, including mining, piracy, manufacturing, trading, exploration, and combat (both player versus environment and player versus player). The character advancement system is based upon training skills in real time, even while not logged into the game.

Krempels Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor or stroke. In partnership with universities and community volunteers, we offer programs that engage our members in meaningful and productive experiences and provide ongoing support and resources to those impacted by brain injury. Because Krempels is not a medical-based program bound by insurance requirements we do not use the word client or patient, but rather member. In addition, the organization’s community outreach initiative provides education to the public about brain injury and brain injury prevention.

Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality[3] massively multiplayer online pervasive game created by Niantic Labs, a startup within Google, currently for Android devices,[4] but expected to be available for Apple's iOS in 2014.[1] The game has a complex science fiction back story with a continuous open narrative.

Now, these groups have supported me after a fashion. Today I found out that my application to Community Action Partners was rejected. Shocking turn of events as the interviewer found my details to be quite in line with what Community Action Partners do. What disqualified me? I'm a walking talking miracle who is a combat veteran of the United States of America. (???)

I am not DISABLED enough to worry about. And if my disability does become an issue, let the U.S. Government handle it - if they will.

St John's has been there for me during my recovery. They even did a complete criminal background check on me so that I could, potentially, be alone with children (as needed). That compliment is ... a compliment. However shortly before my accident I upset a fellow church member. Around that time there was a horrible incident that ended with the death of a Police Cheif (acting heroically!) and the death of the Perpetrator. I joined in the expression of greif and loss from such a hero (and he was) however I would not find comfort in the loss and death of the perpetrator. I shared my dismay that too many christians were rejoicing in such an outcome. To me, the death of a sinner is a soul lost, I care not what his sin.

Eve Online buddies, got my back. Most of them are military veterans and within driving distance. They know the efforts I've made on their behalf - in Eve and in real life. They've been supportive like family.

Krempels Center.

This one is complicated. Like Community Action Partners, I am not disabled enough to fit the bill they hawk around during fundraising time. Added complication, one of their pronounced disabled "stars" took a strong liking to me. So much so she became my Stalker. When I went to the Police to stop this activity (before it became even worse) the Steppings Stones program expressed "fear of me" to their local Police Dept. So, in turn, their local Police Dept issued a public ban on my presence. In essence, a restraining order without any judicial oversight of any kind.

So reporting my stalker, who was trying to ruin my marriage and leech funds from me, got me punished without any kind of representation.

Didn't we, the Americans of the United States, complain about this at one point?

Now, I'll skip talking about the Ingress Community as I have talked a lot about them in very complimentary fashion. They don't care who I was, they don't care what happened to me (though when they find out they all say "damn"). The only they care about, which is the only thing that matters, is what I bring to the table of that community.

Now, all of this is to explain why I am depressed.

This kind of crap never lets up.

I event went to the Local Police Dept in question. They don't care to listen to a freemason veteran who is disabled. They only care about the "lie" that they were given. Afterall, I'm a brain injured person of over 6 feet in height, a combat veteran with a purple hear, who should not be afraid of that person?

I mean, he is brain injured.

Why listen to his jibber jabbering?

Therein lies my real trauma from Traumatic Brain Injury. How the society I bled for, fought for, is so readily willing to discard me.

That is why I am a Pease Greeter. I never want a soldier to feel discarded or dismissed.

Not like I have felt or like I now feel.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Most people don't know what that means but if you work at Home Depot you will. It is an anagram of the prevailing philosophy that dominates that environment. To become a part of that family you learn, first, what that means and you will recall it, first, before you do anything.






For the past weeks that has been the philosphy guiding my working hours. Interestingly enough that is a very military philosophy of which I was already well familiar with. It was, and still is, a guiding philosophy that I hold close to me heart. However, following it, recently, failed me.

I am unsure of how. Now, with my cognative disabilities, I could, all unaware to myself, be slipping into dimensia. After all, when you die it is not a problem for you. Just a problem for everyone else in your life. Same thing when you are Stupid... or cognatively disabled.

But, onward.

    At work I would always greet everyone I came across. (Find)

    I would ask everyone I came across if they needed help. (Inquire)
        Customer - Looking to help them.
        Employee - Just a customer by a different name.

    When responded, yes or no, I respected their decision and proceed to the next step. (Respect)
        No, moved on to my duties.
        Yes, how may I assist?

    If they needed my help, help. If not, moved on to my job. (Solve)

    Whenever I left, I said Thank you.

Now, I will be honest: My aphasia, which still crops up, made me seem like the most gregarious person in the world. I jokingly call myself the biggest Jester you will ever meet. And it is true: Like many good comedians, my life has sucked. Instead of crying about it, on the outside, I laugh at the world. Better to make a joyful noise at the universe (or to the Lord as I feel it) then to sit back crying over my little spot of it.

In the beginning of my work "career" I offended a co-worker (Find). Apparently my willingness to help made her feel bad/awkward. Over the next couple of weeks I found out more about her (Inquire). She is a care giver for a victim of traumatic brain injury. (Inquire) The victim is her grandfather who, proudly, dance the edge of life's blade without any remorse. When the edge reached out and finally bit him, it damaged his brain stem. (Inquire)

Now, my opinion regarding such sinful egoism is apparent by the way I described it. However I strove to be as considerate and helpful as I could be. (Respect) Without telling her, her position is very much the one that my lovely wife is in. My wife gets exceedingly frustrated but, in fairness, her frustrations are not with my brain injury. Even before my brain injury, I did not fit in well with society. (Read about me)

I needed training while doing my job. Many mistakes can be easily made especially by a new guy. She was very helpful in bringing me upto speed  and I was able to meld into my job nicely. (Solve) However I felt a personal debt of a two fold nature: As a care giver, she should be more thanked then she probably is. (Respect) And she started to feel like my guardian angel which obligates me to say thank you. (Thanks)

So at the end of my lunch on Monday, April 21st, I walked over to Target and bought a thank you card. I looked at the cute ones, they either didn't apply or could be misconstrued. So I swung over to the humorous ones. I picked one with a tall broad guy, of which I am, but he was wearing bad torn jeans. Inside the card said, "Wanted to Thank you in a Big Ass way!" I then showed it to a co-worker who chuckled and said she would like it. I then went inside, wrote thank you for your help and support. I then wrote her name on the card and, trying to keep inocuous level of interaction, I tossed the envelope to her saying I found this on the ground. (Solve) I then continued on with my duties without any hesitation of any kind. Some times thanks without elaboration is the best.

Little did I realize the damage to my career that I had just done.

No need to elaborate on this point as much of it involves the thought processes of others, however my action(s) raised, in her, the spectre of sexual harrassment. That spectre, by corporate policy, is to be laid to rest firmly and immediately. The appearance, just the appearance, of such issues far outweigh any substance regarding the situation. I, a Freemason, wound up blacklisted for the next 6 months. Any errors, even the tiniest ones, would see the termination of my employment and not in a favorable light.

So maintianing a straight face, while crying inside, I completed my tour of duty. I went home, stressed out beyond my mental capacity to handle, and fussed at my wife until I passed out. From a standing position in my living room I came to needing my wife's assistance to stand. (she respected my need to shut down and left me alone while keeping an eye on me.) I figured out one thing, that work environment is not for me. I still don't have feelings in parts of my hands and in most of my face. The one place I still have strong feelings is apparently very vulnerable - my heart.

So I resigned from Home Depot. I got what I wanted from them after all. Proof that I am physically sufficient to almost any task that the world can call upon me. Proof that I can function, well enough, in a large dynamic social situation. However this proved to me that I am not capable of dealing with disharmonious individuals, of which there are many in many work places. So, I am retreating a bit into a safer place but I am not retreating from work. Just I know the difference between resisting to your detriment or being enlightened and maintaining your dignity and faith... by leaving willingly.


People laugh at me because the think I am different,
I laugh at them because they are all the same.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I am an Explorer...

... and nothing short of death will stop me.

This is something that is a problem for some of the people in my life:
  •     My wife, who worries about me,
  •     My friends, the ones still dealing with the impact my accident made in their own psyches,
  •     Fellow Masons, especially those who's careers are impacted by letiguous hyenas,
  •     Even co-workers.
Co-Workers - Working at Home Depot is satisfying a number of needs, pay being the least one. There is alot of physical activity and exercise which is helping me develop into who I used to be. Sadly, some have some experience in dealing with the disabled. One with way too much experience with brain injury. Her trouble is she became the care giver for someone who took very foolhardy risks, with ego & pride. The risk finally caught up with this loved one, of her's, and she is torn between her love for the man and her frustration with his condition & opinion of how he did this to himself.

Another need is the fluid population. The co-workers, there are many whose schedules are very fluid, the customers, whose needs and personalities are extremely fluid, and vendors, again fluid needs. The exercise strains my cognition on a daily basis however it is restoring my confidence inside myself.

Fellow Masons - Have been at my side, like good Brothers. Which they are. However, like brothers, some of them are risk averse. My gregarious nature frightens some of them. Before my accident, it was contained and controlled. It made me something to watch and enjoy. I am relearning that balance however there are those who fear the potential lawsuits that could be slapped against me. Frivolous lawsuits, yes, ones based on the fact that I don't act like others of our society. The truth is I have never acted like others of our society. Just now it is much more obvious. (My wife found an excellent quote that she feels describes me but I'll share it at the end.)

My Friends - Local ones were greatly impacted by my accident. The are good friends, almost siblings. They supported my wife during my initial recovery, they supported me as my sapience grew and returned. One even served as a care giver during my first weeks out of the hospital. However they have developed a negative triat. If a goal come out of my mouth, after all you share these things with friends, the immediate responses are ones that are about how many troubles there are reaching for the stars. What they don't realize is that they are inhibiting me from being me.

My wife - Of course she is worried about me. Her love for me is of an epic nature. One the I brought down upon myself by choice. When I met her, I knew. Just knew, nothing more, nothing less. In fact I am tearing up right now trying to find words about her and my love for each other. She is the life of me. So much so that talking about her makes me regret my nature. I am the outer bounds of what she accepts from external behaviors, male or female. Irony being ironic, I found out that it is my "out of bounds" nature matched with my integrity and self discipline that is what generated love of me in her.

Another aspect of my condition is my inhibitions have been removed. It has made me something she doesn't like. Loves but doesn't like. In retrospect, that was the basis of our relationship. Someone who acts in ways that strengthens her love for him but, by her nature, acts in ways she doesn't like. That was a nice edge to live on for over a decade however my accident has added worry to the trifecta of emotions that runs through her heart. Will it work, that is the question regarding my marriage. Love her I do, love me she does, I think it is strong enough to survive this. No, I have faith that she is my partner the Lord has determined for me to have.

She found a quote that she feels explains me very well -

    People laugh at me becuase they think I am different.
    I laugh them because they are all the same.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Do you know what it is like to be unmade"

I owe Joss Whedon much more than a couple of movie tickets. I don't know how, I can't even guess, but somehow he gets it. Many it's I'll admit. One fine example among the many is in the Avenger's movie where Clint (Hawkeye) is strapped down in a flight couch trying to regain himself and having Black Widow hover over him. This scene is very much my life... over and over again.

I am strapped down by many things however with gentle firmness I have a dark angel who hovers over me. She loves me, she guides me, and tries to keep me within boundaries. Much to her frustration and annoyance however her continued presence and concern for me just shows me how much I am loved.

Whenever the pain of this becomes so much that I scream from it, and I do, thoughts of her bring me back to life. As the Lord intended, my Eve helps this Adam from going insane.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reconstructing A Life Dismantled... ...

... is time consuming.

How many of you have sat down and on paper identified aspects of your life? Just sit down for a day or two and figure out the important parts. Go on, do it.

It seems easy: Wife, kids, family, friends, home.

Wife: Where'd you meet her(/him)? How did the spark of love ignite? How many times?

Kids: Remembering the first time you held your child? Each time? When the spoke, when they "whatevered"?

Family: How many times did you do "x" to that sibling over there? How many regrets from growing up do you have or have created? Dad? Mom? Aunts and Uncles? On and on...

Friends: On and on... on and on....

Home: On and on... on and on....

Just in this small list of what makes a life which do you WANT deleted? How much of this can you stand to have deleted... by someone else's choices?

That's the depression I face now. Every day almost every minute. Remembering what I was going to do... trying to do.... consumes my waking moments. Along the way I endure many social jibes and pokes. Some good and helpful, some most definitely not.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Achievement List

I had planned to act something of a fool today. After all, it is my day off from work and April Fool's day. I have a murse (man purse according to my wife) that is rugged and masculine. Like a seattle sling but more suitable to my specific needs. I have also have a holster for my airsoft pellet gun(s). So I put those two together and was going to have some fun.

Now the trick to carrying on is never get carried away.

No police involvement if it can be avoided. If it can't, hands and arms raised damned high and no sudden movements of any kind. With the holster in view, a police officer must treat you (First!) as an armed weapon ready to fire. Getting carried away from that situation is not the goal.

Secondly, no scaring the normals. Will it may seem funny at times it is not socially acceptable behavior. Doing that brings in the Police (refer to above on that!).

So, I took out my old rucksack (from 1941) put a replacement (new) flag into it, put my U.S. Army flag into it (on the offbeat chance it could be used), grabbed my airsoft pellet gun M-16 mockup. (Clearly and brightly tagged) and went to the old Hill Top School to replace the weather beaten flag on that pole.


No police or citizen involvement. It even had clips for a second flag so I got to put up the Army flag. I even uploaded a video of my activity to youtube. You can even hear me exclaim when I spot the extra flag clips. So I figured my day was done. Took a quick nap and then drove my wife to work. On my way home.... some thing happened that I thank the Lord for with all of my heart.

After exit 9 on Route 16, you head towards 108 on 9 towards a very active intersection. Turn lanes, turn offs, and lights galore for 4 lanes of traffic, each way, meeting each other. In the slow lane, almost at the intersection a car was broken down with flashers going.

As I passed it, working my with the Eighteen wheelers, I noticed the driver. Young lady stressed out and worried. Almost panicked and she was about my daughter's age. I went through the intersection, did a turn around a few blocks down then worked my way over to the 5 Guys parking lot. Parked and walked over.

Tapping her back window, I got her attention. Introduced myself with my Pease Greeters name tag, attached to my Desert Storm Veteran hat, and asked her if I could be of assistance. She took in a deep breath and almost through her arms around me in despair and relief. She told me she called AAA but after that had no idea what to do.

I said, "You drive, I push."

As I was pushing her into the 5 Guys lot, a huffing and puffing, a pair of guys ran over and helped. Irony being what it was, they originally thought they were helping me. And, to be honest, they were: Helping me help another man's daughter the same age as my own daughter (I later found out).

Of course, once we got her to the lot I stayed on overwatch until AAA got there. And she picked my brain, as grateful young women do. According to her, it made sense that a Combat Veteran Freemason from Philadelphia would be the one of hundreds passing that would stop to help. I told her, those labels do apply but at it's simplest, for me, a fellow human being was on the side of the road needing assistance.

What else could I do to satisfy the Lord's gift in front of me?

In closing, this has really been a damn good April Fool's day.

I don't mind being a fool if I get these kind of achievements.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why me Lord?

I posted something without realizing that it was an epiphany. A flash of insight of my marriage and who I am... now. It is hard to help people understand the struggles I face, day in - day out, when they have no basis for relativity. Even my relatives!!

"sat there listening to my wife answer the questions where I don't have memories of my accident."

My wife, my partner, has had her life drastically changed. And not for the better. What she must endure for, and from, her husband is of almost epic proportions. She shared with me some memories from my trauma room stay. Her initial perspective was covered in blood.

My clothing, which had been cut away from me, was saturated in blood. I was naked and had IV's running in and out of my body. Life support was being pushed into places it need to be pushed into. I could not be laid horizontally so they splinted, as much as they could, my forearms and used what IV points still existed. Eventually they had to use my legs for all of that but that came later in the day. This is what my wife drove 2 hours to come and see.

The struggle to keep me alive.

I have memories of my own struggles to stay alive. Jumping from Airplanes, working around helicopters, Desert Storm, purple heart, North Philly, memories galore. However, I have no memories of my accident nor of my initial recovery. And that being the first 3 months after I slammed my head into the asphalt at 30 mph.

Each day I go through my day struggling with the dichotomy of self-actualization and remembering I am not who I was. The pain of that realization hits me several times a day. And pain it is, truly painful down to the bottom of my soul.

I will be going along thinking myself sufficient to the task(s) in front of me and >BAM< I realize that perhaps I am not. And OMG what she went through and endures with. The feelings wash over me like waves from the ocean seeking to reduce the island of calm that I so desperately need. Calm so I don't sound annoyed, so I am not annoyed, and depression is held back as far as it can be.

The guilt, and I do feel guilty on several levels all at once, is almost more than I can bear. No, I am not suicidal - not even close. But I must confess that in my prayers, sometimes, I ask the Lord why? So many fine opportunities to call me home has passed but this one is the hardest patch I have ever had to hoe.

Why Lord? Why?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Who Am I, What Am I... ... Now?

This is a question that "damages my calm".

An interesting point, one that demonstrates my geekdom. That is a phrase from the movie Serenity written and directed by Joss Whedon. A phrase that came out of the mouth of Jayne.

Now, I see myself in Malcolm. Handling life with all of its (sometimes) unwanted gifts & (!=) delights. Captaining this chaos called my life has never been exactly easy. Sometimes painful, physically - emotionally - spiritually. That last sentence describes the Malcolm of me however when the cause of that distress is by the hands, or actions, of another human being - then I am Jayne.

I am a kind soul, however, so I don't keep any weapons other than myself handy. Which can be a source of humor, which I have readily used, yet it is absolutely true. I still have the one weapon that the military put to use, trained me with, encouraged where it could but for a time I had it was taken away.

"My brain"

Who Am I?

My vision has been tested. My eyes changed however one thing that did not is my peripheral vision. I absorb every visual movement around me. Being a Mensan, my brain quickly processes everything I take in. Visual, audibly, even smell and touch.

Which is very trying as my brain has lost its filters. I am slowly regaining the ability to assess the value of incoming data. I used to be overloaded from emotions and data at times. So much so that my brain would just up and quit. It would reach a limit and then just shutdown.

Now that would mean a lot of trouble however the first filter I developed was emotional. Now, I can seem a bit weepy and happy in display. The truth is that is not quite right or accurate. If there is emotional weight to any situation it becomes apparent on my face - without any choice on my part. Yet, that is not what I am "feeling".

What Am I?

For instance, I am so humbled and overwhelmed whenever I go to church. The people there have been so supportive and so giving that I am now, even now, starting to cry just thinking about the level of gratitude I feel towards them. Which makes my visits to church hard to bear.

Whenever I go there I can't NOT feel what I feel towards them. However, they in turn get worried when emotions wash across my face. When the strength of my feelings wash across me, so plain to see, they react. And in reacting, strengthen my gratitude making the emotion even more powerful.

Going to church is wonderful for me, so much so that I sometimes go there when there is no one else there. I walk the backyard path to the outdoor altar and I commune with the Lord. I'd say by myself but that is where all divine communications begin - inside our own hearts.

So, in talking about this I think I am becoming Sheppard. In fact, I did ask about the process of becoming a Minister. However Jayne in me created safe limits. I don't want to be a Pastor. That is a job whose burden I am not yet sufficient to meet. A job I once had many years ago however one that I put at rest but was tempted with. A feeling that was growing, leading up to my accident.

Who Am I? What Am I?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why I joined the U.S. Army... ...

First, because the foreign legion did not take Americans anymore. Being that the U.S.A. was the only country in question, that country's army I joined. Second, for the G.I. Bill. This is, truly, the primary reason I joined the U.S. Army.

I went to Philadelphia public schools. At various times, I was assigned higher education classes. Which meant that at times when everyone else was napping, or writing some awful task, I was escorted from the class room and sat with a tutor in a separate room.

Now, this may sound nice but all it did was target me for childhood angst felt by others. They wouldn't believe me that I had school work to do also. They wouldn't accept that I didn't have it easier than them. Added to one of my initial complications, this just got me attacked more regularly.

Initial complication: A white boy growing up in the Ghetto. Black kids didn't like me because I was white, White kids didn't like me because my dad was black.

The worst fights I dealt with were, in fact, from the white kids. I am not small, in fact I am just a tad shy of HUGE. My chest measurement is 52" around and I am no longer fat. I hit 6 feet at 16 yrs old. My size almost disqualified me from Airborne service since the door you jump out of is only so damn tall.

My father, the man who raised me, was a Minister. He wanted me to always turn the other cheek and I tried. Oh god did I try however when I was 14 I had had enough. I started fighting back... it was during an attack by two guys who had gotten used to slapping me around since they thought they could. Irony being  what it is, my father (and his side of the family) were childhood boxers and tried to pass on discipline. (They were also all Marines!) So when I had enough I open not with a Jab (my jab is weak) but with one of my strong suits. An Uppercut the likes of which only Tyson was better with.

So after one brutal encounter my parents took me out of public school and sent me to the Jesu Catholic school. The school accepted me because I was so baptized as such however I had been raised a protestant. The one year of catholic school I had was just before High School. Even though I had to catch up in G.P.A. for a passing grade... I so excelled that I not only graduated 2nd highest from the top of my class but I was offered a 4 year scholarship to Roman Catholic High School. I'm sure the gym teachers  were salivating at the idea of me as a freshman linebacker.

However, I was given a rare opportunity. Apparently my test scores, my school records, and my i.q. tests identified me, to the Philadelphia School System, as someone to invest into... ... so they did. I was offered a place in the High School of Engineering & Science without any kind of entrance exam or orientation.

My first year there was a personal disaster. I was not prepared for how High School is run, at all. The classes I had previously were handled just like elementary was even through the Junior High School years. Added to which, my freshman year I was one John of twenty two (22) Johns. The teachers did solve that problem. We sat down in a classroom, all of us John's, and the teachers went through by desk order. "You are John A, You are John B, You are John C," on and on until I got my letter. My letter has been such a part of my life that it is my real primary name. If you go to any old Job of mine and ask for my name, they'll be like "who?" but if you ask for my letter... "Oh he used to work here but he's moved elsewhere to move upward".

So it was when High School was done, me without WOWzers GPA, that I started looking at college and vocational schools. Many offered scholarships but you had to have not just the right GPA but come from "other than" public schools. Sadly, any scholarships for inner-city youths required me to be black. (???) So I found the only vo-tech program I could afford (free!) and that was the Keystone Job Corps Center. I got there and completed their "prove your scholastic potential" 1 year program in 3 months. I even got a G.E.D. in that time, yes I dropped out of High School because that diploma was getting me nowhere fast. While doing there scholastic program I also excelled at learning to be a filing & accounting clerk.

After the G.E.D. test I started looking at where to go next. Filing and accounting clerks don't get many opportunities to excel, at anything, so I looked at the military. So I took the asvab entrance exam and waited to see my opportunities. BTW I should add, that my GED score was so high that the State issued me a High School Diploma, not a GED. It also identified me and qualified my entrance to Mensa. My asvab scores so shocked my recruiter that there was almost nothing not offered to me.

However I would only agree to 2 years. Two years, if they don't like me - I'm not there to long. If I don't like them, again I'm not there too long. Long story short, I didn't like them because they did not like me. In fact, my first discharge papers have the code "Served Honorably, don't want him back". My second papers say the exact same thing, "Served Honorably, don't want him back."

My enlistment was complicated by scoring to high on the entrance exam. See I scored so high that I got tagged as "worth investing" in. >sigh< So during Basic Training I was required to take the SATs. No practice of any kind, in fact the day of the testing was a field day. Field day meaning we slept in tents and were messed with by the Drills to simulate possible field conditions. So during the breaks between SAT sections I napped. In fact, I was so sleepy I drove myself to complete sections at least a half an hour before they ended so I could nap. I scored around 1200.

So, here is the Army with a Ghetto Kid of zero scholastic background banging out High Fives in scholastic areas... what to do? Ah, Fort Monmouth New Jersey is a good answer. So I was being prepped to go to the United States Military Academy Preparatory School... with West Point being the end goal of that track. I was excited about the possibility, going to college at a price I could afford (free!!!).

I called back to talk with a friend at the Job Corp, sharing my successes, and I found out something wondrous. A sexual te'te' that I had with a troubled young lady resulted in conception. So being, I reported such to my Senior Drill Sgt. Later the next day the boom dropped - West Point Cadets are not allowed to have any dependents. >BOOM!<

So, back to being a grunt. Made it through trainings, made it through airborne school, and got to permanent party. All the while I noticed that I was being treated "oddly". It wasn't until I befriended an NCO, in G-2, that I found out the horrible truth. In my records it listed me as being a disqualified West Point candidate. No reason given, of any kind. My friend asked me, "What pooch did you screw?" I can only imagine the ongoing speculations from the way I was hostily treated during my 1st enlistment. And, truthfully, I was disqualified for having integrity enough to put forward my issues.

So, eventually I got out. Was glad to get out. I went home to Philadelphia, got a job as a night time Security Guard at the ARA towers, and was enrolling in Community College. CCP was happy to get me after my entrance exam, there were a couple of avant garde course they want accredited so having me enroll, and succeed, would go far for them. While that was going on I realized that I still had service in my heart. So I joined the 324th Medical Reserve Unit in West Chester, PA. I did a couple of the monthly duties and then one day I was called by the clerk.

"Would you volunteer for active combat duty?" She asked. At that moment my brain flashed through issues and I immediately answered, "Yes." I was activated to serve with a Medical Inspection unit, that was brass heavy!! I was one of 4 enlisted men in the unit! And I would be acting jack sargeant for the occasion, which I knew would be confirmed during service. Hoorah! Another good day thanks to the Army.... >errrrr< wait. I got activated for that unit and then the very next day I was cut from that unit and assigned to the 300th Field Hospital out of Wilkes Barre, PA. Apparently their motor-pool guy was still in A.I.T. and they needed one. Add to that I was combat trained for desert warfare, someone liberally threw me at the 300th. I was to arrive there the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (???).

Let me say now, that did not happen. Yes, I went a.w.o.l. after a fashion. My telephone suffered a remarkable flaw in transmission and the Army did NOT have my parent's address. So I got to spend that Thanksgiving with my Mother and Father before being shipped off to war.

Of course that ingratiated me to command like you would not believe. They sent a sergeant down in a vehicle to my apartment and I answered when he knocked. He then drove me up to Wilkes Barre and deposited me into a motel. A motel, irony, that I had stayed in almost 3 years prior. The Keystone Job Corps is in Drums, P.A. Next door to Wilkes Barre, the military entrance point I used for my first enlistment was in... yup.... Wilkes Barres, PA.

So here I am already well liked my my command structure when a couple of irritations arose. First one, the guy who was in A.I.T. - wasn't. He was home on leave. I asked if I could return to my unit. I was asked, "What don't like us?" They told the young man, whose parents they knew, to go home and finish his leave. I got shang-haid to Ft Indiantown Gap. While there, we were all instructed pount limits of our duffels. I instructed my men, and widely advised the 300th, that sweaters and field jackets were of the order. First Sergeant pulled me into his office and asked me if I was f-ing nuts. I explained to him that with the 101st Airborne I had spent many months in NTC (Ft Irwin, CA. "The Mojave Desert") and that this equipment would be vital. I was ordered to stfu with my nuttiness and proceed to getting gear ready for deployment.

Let's be clear here, my 2nd enlistment turned out as much fun as my first one. That was the problem for me. It was essentially a peace time army filled with people who got ahead by who they knew and what they could explain instead of ... doing it.

Am I a Gulf War Veteran, yes. Am I proud of it, hell yeah. However I almost always say, "I did not serve with honorable distinction however I had the distinct honor of serving." That is all this purple heart soldier will say about this.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

16 Months and counting... ...

This is a period of milestones, or at least understanding of recovery milestones. Fifteen (15) months is a significant milestone in brain injury recovery.

The first three (3) months after brain injury there is, apparently, no recovery taking place. The brain is stabilizing after receiving such a shock. The different parts of the brain have to figure out how to work together... Again. Re-learning basic life functions is of the order. Recovery happens after that time and last for one (1) year.

This, to me, makes great sense. I think about the issues and troubles I went through this past year and I can only see how insufficient I was during them. And, I have to admit this, I am such a well practiced liar. That is being honest about how skilled I was, and still am, at being dishonest.

Now, I am not nefarious in any way shape or form. I never withhold vital or critical information. In fact, my lying has nothing to do with information that belongs to anyone else. However, it is directed inward at myself personally.

I have not had a good life. Some of the disasters of my life were partially self inflicted but, truth be told, I have never sought out my disaster. I've just weathered them as good as I can.

These disasters started very young, in fact.

When I was a toddler I, through opportunity and exploration, totaled a car that was parked on a hill. Now, that should be a lesson to the adult don't leave a toddler in a parked car on a hill. A parked car without a working parking brake at the least!

So accident away! Of course being of toddler age and growth I think I may have brain recovered sooner than three (3) months but, tbh, my memory of that time is very vague. What I do remember, to my mother's horror, is the punishment I received. I was abused, physically & sexually, in retaliatory manner for my "oops". This is troubling for me as I lived up to what happens to abused toddlers: they grow up and cause abuse around them if not prevented and dealt with!

As a teener I caused abuse in some around me however my mentality and philosophy shifted away from evil towards good from the efforts of two wonderful men. Wayne B. Fields, my stepfather, look of disappointment shattered my world. I love him so much, then & now, that having him look at me that way destroyed my psyche. Sherwood Nichols, a psychologist at University of Pennsylvania, spent many an afternoon after school exploring my thoughts and helping me to explore them as well.

And while this was going on, ghetto public school life for a white mensan was going on at the same time. As an added complication: My mother was dealing with her undiagnosed bi-polarism. Imagine, if you will, a little mensan toddler being raised at the knee of a raging bi-polar individual. The lasting impact of my step-father is here. His stabilizing personality, his enduring nature, gave me comfort so that I could weather the changes.

In fact, I have learned to be my father (step-father). Nothing shocks me, nothing upsets me, nothing affects me unless I choose to react to it. I react to nothing without a moment's thought BEFORE reaction. This aspect of me has saved my life many times over. Many more times than my parents will ever be aware of and I have striven to make it that way.

So what or where do I lie?

Body Language.

I lie with my body language. Quite well I might add. Mostly I exude confidence (self) and an air of respect. Like a cloak or jacket, I put respect on every times I get out of bed. (Like my father.)

Why? Initially it formed as a defensive measure to avoid my mother's insights and responses. Later, it was developed by Wayne B. Fields (through imitation) and Sherwood Nichols (through psychology). Life just reinforced the value of such practices until eventually it is simply, who I am.

What does this mean? I, at times, really don't know what the hell I am talking about. Yes, I am quite full of BS though you won't feel that as I talk through a situation.

Am I phony? Heck no, however I never want you to see any side of me for you to start wondering about what might be there. I am "apparently" open to the eyes, gregarious to a fare the well, a man without a hidden though of any kind. A well meaning and likable buffoon most of the time.

That is the impression I develop to avoid having to deal with  insightful others. Mensans make this extremely hard however there are many just plain "Joes" out there that are painfully swift of mind. It is not easy avoiding inspection especially in today's hyper-sensitive world. Do something out of the ordinary... "What's wrong with him"?

"You cannot strengthen one by weakening another; and you cannot add to the stature of a dwarf by cutting off the leg of a giant"

My life has been surrounded by zero-sum game players. My mother, her side of the family, my schools, my military units, my jobs. Every time I have risen up from the crowd... I have been hurt be those around me. That is why I have developed such a good technique of lying. That is what makes my marriage so special: I turn it off when I am with her. Actually, my time with her made me realize how much I was doing it and lead me on the introspection to identify and assess it.

However, the recovery process of this Tall Poppy's brain has been roughened up by parts of our society. The list goes on of the abuse I have received from organizations. Heck, just even mentioning brain injury excludes me from rational conversation apparently. The talk goes on around me but never at me unless someone demands an answer for something their poor minds can not wrap around. I.e. Explaining why I did what&what at such&such time 6 months before my accident(!?!). Apparently my brain injury has, in many minds, created a doorway that any fool can just barge on through with enough verbal force. Sadly people tend to forget several things about me that a smart person would never, ever, forget:

I grew up in the Ghetto of North Philadelphia,
I was trained in their public school how to survive ... And fight.
I was further trained how to survive, and fight, by the 101st Airborne in Ft. Campbell, K.Y. (red neck heaven for the black man's kid).
I was tested by fire in Iraq during Desert Shield/Storm/Scram.
I have outlived three daughters and I don't walk around with a wet face from tears.
I worked in Silicon Valley as a highly sought after consultant.

What in the Good Lord's name can any of you bring into my life other than more of God's wondrous variety? Not fear, not trouble, not discord. Not of any kind that I have not seen before and survived. That is, in the end of it all, what I am:

The truest Survivor of any kind.

My nick name is "Q" however one that was thrown at me that should have stuck: Bounce Back Kid.

PS: My wife was listening to the radio the other day and she heard a song and said that song clicked for her. In her words, that song is me. I am right now practicing the song through a wave a tears. Some day I will sing it myself however I can only share it with you via youtube with performers far beyond my skill.