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SCI: What's Missing?

"Why the long face, cutie?" Matthew walked...no...snuck up behind me on that fateful day. I remember staring out as the waves broke gently over shell-less, rock-less, life-less sand, trying not to cry.

I screwed up my face into the most petulant, childish, grumpy-face that I could muster in order to mask the real sadness in my eyes. "There's no salt!" I wailed.

I was sitting on the shore, my toes dug in to the sand, arms wrapped around my knees and shivering. Only minutes before, I had run, laughing, into the icy waters of Lake Michigan and dove under because, let's face it, dipping a toe in, tiptoeing a few inches at a time, "to get used to it" is, frankly, for pussies. I had emerged spluttering and licked my lips, eager to taste the salt of the sea which, of course, wasn't there. (It was habit. I'm not actually daft.)

I stood waist deep in the clear, fresh waters of the lake and looked out to the horizon. No land. I looked back to the shore. No life. I sniffed and tasted the wind. No salt, only the scent of slightly decayed lake Trout. I let homesick tears mingle with the lakewater on my cheeks and plodded back to the blanket.

Which brings me back to the beginning.

"What do you mean, no salt?" Matthew looked annoyed.

"It's not the same," I whispered, dropping the childish petulance and admitting my sadness openly. "It's not my Atlantic."

His face clouded for a moment, apparently torn. His features flickered as he weighed the situation and how he should react, and I could read them like scenes in a movie. 'Please,' I thought...'Please make the right decision by me. Just once. Let me be weak and let it be OK. Just. Once.'

The decision that he made that day on the shores of Lake Michigan, was to be the final death knell in our marriage.

"Oh for FUCK'S SAKE!" he screamed.

'Oops. Wrong decision, Matthew you cocksucking asshole.'

"What?" I snarled.

"It's a fucking huge body of fucking water and it's fine. It's better than the ocean. You better goddamn well get used to it and stop being such a dumbfuck. You live here now. Get. Over it."

I licked my lips again as I sprang to my feet, poised to battle to the death if necessary. I tasted salt then, salt from the tears now pouring down my face, drying in the chilly afternoon sun and leaving their crystalline tracks. "You know what, Matt? Fuck you."

That was the best that I could do. This...place had sapped my will to fight and it took a lot of doing just to live sometimes. I walked away, found a likely spot elsewhere, and resumed my withdrawn pose, staring out at the largest freshwater sea in the world. He couldn't understand, I knew that. This was his home, not mine. These were his people, not mine. He had never been sentimental enough to sit out on a New England beach, all night long, and dream of the lands across the waves. He had never spotted a sand-dollar still in the planktonic phase of development, mixed in with the detritus that the ocean washed ashore. He had never, at least, not that I knew of (or could imagine), showered after a day on the beach and reveled in the tautness of his skin that can only be achieved with sea salt and oceanic winds. He hadn't shed a trillion tears into her waters and let her carry his sadness to the end of the world, away from him. He hadn't stood on a November shore and sought out the nearly impossible to find horizon, slate grey sky meeting slate grey water in perfect, monochromatic beauty. He...

He simply had no soul that could possibly contain the ocean.

Had he reacted with kindness and an attempt to understand my misery at being so far from what I still consider my lifeline to this day, maybe things wouldn't have ended so bitterly less than a year later. Had he put his arm around me and acknowledged my hurt, my loneliness, my square peggishness in the round hole that he called home, maybe things wouldn't have ended at all.

Instead, he sneered. He rolled his eyes when I tried to explain the lifeline, the ability to sit on the shore and know that just over there, that way, is another country, another way of life and living and thinking and being. Living at the edge of America means that there is the option to turn either way - to face in or out. I am never hemmed in. I am free as the gull, the tern, the dolphin. I can scream my rage into a gale or whisper my secrets in the moonlit path to infinity.

But on that day, there was no cleansing salt in the water. Only two smallish, roundish cheeks streaked with a little bit of sodium chloride. The only gale was the roaring of the bull I had married. What could I do in the face of that? I had no choice but to follow the lifeline home.

LJ Idol Second Chance - Statement of Intent

It has recently come to my attention that someone believes I can actually write. Not content to have my deluded masses equal one, I've decided to check out LJ Idol and throw my figurative pen into the ring. So, consider this my Statement of Intent. What a loaded gun...

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I wasn't there for it on Friday, 11-11-11, Veteran's Day here in the US, but at some point during the ceremonies at the George Dilboy VFW, my post, officials apparently entered and informed the post commander that code violations (which we've been trying to fix via a new post that about 100 people in the district have so far successfully fought against) must be taken care of immediately or we face closure.

On Saturday, my bar shift, I spent the day watching masons erect a cinderblock wall in the doorway of our game room so that we can currently say that our occupancy is only 95 (the square footage of the game room was one of the issues - in theory, our occupancy could have been much larger although in practice, it never happens). No more pool tables. No more quiet space. No more cribbage area for the old timers during the weekday. So many memories in that room that I alone have are now sealed in behind a cinderblock wall.

Today, we find out if we're going to be allowed to even stay open. The state Fire Marshall (not Somerville because the vocal minority got so upset with Somerville for working with us that they went over Somerville's heads) apparently must approve interim plans (that we don't even have completed) by 15:00 hours today. If they are not submitted and approved, or if we aren't granted an extension, the post is closed as of midnight tonight.

I was counting on my shift next Saturday to get us through until next payday, especially for Thanksgiving dinner next week. I was counting on that post for a lot, to be honest. It's been the one stable feature in my life for almost a decade now. If I've been in need, I go there for help. When I've needed help navigating the veteran's bureacracies, they've been there. If I needed an apartment, that's where I went to find one. Work done for a reasonable price? I hire the guys, all of whom have a complete range of home improvement skills from roofing and flooring to electricians, plumbers, and finish work. Those men have been my brothers, uncles, families. I've celebrated holidays with them when I had no one and nowhere to go. We take care of one another, no matter how long it's been since last we may have seen each other.

And now, this: Report by Universal Hub. This article, I might add, would not have been possible where it not for ifotismeni. Enough thanks can never be said.

Ultimately, this is the result of those Not-in-My-Backyard-igans of Davis Square who have happily pushed out anyone that doesn't fit their mold of what the new Davis Square should look like...and it's been championed by Alderman Rebekah Gerwitz who has happily flouted zoning laws, the same she originally invoked to block our new post, when the cause was in support of arts.

To say that Ms. Gerwitz hates veterans isn't an understatement. At one public meeting over the proposed new post, she actually stated that "the veterans can stay in the basement" (which is where our member's area is/was? right now).

So, a belated Happy Veteran's Day to those who have and do serve. But if you live in Davis Square, know that the sentiment is not shared by your elected officials or neighbors.
Last night as I was scrolling through the FML app for Android, I came across one posted by a woman who had just been informed that the Chinese character for "strength" she had tattooed on her lower back actually translated to "slut". I couldn't help but LOL. As if to justify my long-held suspicions about Chinese character tattoos, their ridiculous popularity, and their true meaning, an article on the rising trend in tattoo removal was featured on Boston.com today as well - and one of those interviewed had a Chinese character removed from ankle also discovered it's true meaning not long ago. What she thought meant "warrior and scholar" actually translated to "mud-pie".

I have two tattoos, one of which vaguely annoys me; the other I forget about as I never see it. But I remember that when I got these (age 16 and 18 respectively), it was unheard of outside of the Harley Hag community for females to get tattoos, especially large ones.

Then...something happened to my generation. Grunge. I hated the movement then, I hate the reflections on the movement now. I wasn't sad in the least when Kurt Cobain died - I only wished he'd taken Courtney Love with him. Nirvana was like nails on a chalkboard to me. Flannel was a bastardization of my beloved Mighty Mighty Bosstones habit of living plaid. Of course, this is when they were still actually in Boston it was that long ago now...

And tattoos. ZOMG tattoos. Everyone got tattoos. Females viewed it as some sort of liberation at the time - a time when femini-nazism was en vogue for "womyn" and men were out in forests, banging on bongos, trying to find their inner vaginas.

The 90's came and (thankfully) wentm but tattoos remained. The late 90's and early 2000's saw women start shaving and wearing makeup again - Gloria Steinem was out and Paris Hilton came in. The men returned from the forests looking rather sheepish, cut their hair, and drank kegs of Budweiser as if nothing had ever happened. All of them claimed to be at an aunt's house in Wyoming at the time.

Yet...tattoos remained. Jesse James happened. Pin ups happened. Suicide Girls (God I still wish they'd all just do as their name implies already) happened. A bizarrely bastardized modern ressurection of punk rock occurred - without the punk, or, for that matter, the rock. But I digress.

And one day I realized that I've been seein' a whole lotta cracker-assed suburban-bred cheerleader cum eco-intelligentsia-warrior types (with an eye always toward makeup and fashion) sporting Asian symbol tattoos.

And I thought, "I wonder what that actually means." I asked a few acquaintances who succumbed to the trend and got your basic litany of virtues: truth, strength, honor, integrity.

Permanent talismans in uncertain times.

And yet I still thought, "I wonder what that really says?"

Friends and I even joked about it from time to time: "I bet it means, 'I fuck sheep!'" LOLOLOL etcetera etc.

Now, as my generation and that generation hot on my heels enter the workforce, they're not feeling so warrior-like these days. Tattoo removal is a booming industry for lots of reasons if Boston.com is to be believed - and those of us who still have our ink tend to shake our heads quietly because let's face it: you could see it coming a mile and a half away when the trend really took off. Idiot sorority girls especially getting bellybuttons pierced, tramp stamps tattooed...it wasn't thought out or thought through.

The best and most brilliant part: No one ever bothered to get their Chinese characters translated FIRST before having them inked on.

As for me and my tattoos, I've occasionally thought of getting the one on my arm covered up with something else, but...it's a part of me. The article cited did note that a lot of people are removing art because it's who they were not who they are now. Well, the one on my arm was my first at age 16. Even then I knew that what it meant then might not be pertinent or important or anything at all in 10 or 20 years.

I was right. It's not. It annoys me because most people can't sort out what it actually is either - but when I look at it now, I remember saying to Slammy as he was doing it, "Even if it's meaningless when I'm 30 [remember, I was only 16], at least I'll be able to look at it and remember myself."

So, it will never be covered up. It's a tribute now to what I went through to get to where I am; a memory of my own old Boston; a symbol of strength and courage.

My symbol of strength and courage? I can guarantee you it does NOT translate to, "Your mother smells like a monkey's crotch."

To all of those Suicide Girls and intellectual warriors out there? I will be cold, hard, cash money that yours probably does. The LULZ? Keep 'em coming. Please. :P

Scattered

So, what with everything lately, I've been really too scattered to write. I must have spent it all on the 30-Day Meme. : )

That being said, I won't be updating much for a little while. Except probably to bitch. But I'm all over Facebook right now because I can focus on shiny things for a second much easier than meaningful things for several minutes.

But I'm still reading you. Promise.

Post 9-11 Post

I did not post on 9-11. Nothing of substance, anyway. I've said all I can say in the past on that matter, and on each anniversary, I only remember the dread. The packing of my bags. The sitting on the back porch under an eerily quiet night sky, drinking coffee, chain smoking, and waiting for the call to report.

And fighting back tears for the civilians who went to work that morning and died in one of the most terrifyingly gruesome manners I can think of to this day. And who chose to leap to their deaths rather than face the flames, knowing the death was waiting either way.

I did not post because I post that same sentiment every year. But paladyn did. Like me, he serves. Unlike me, he's decided that his life is in the AOR now. He's never home because he's almost always there. I was waiting for permission to reproduce what he posted - he spoke for me in his words. I couldn't have put them better myself. So, with his permission, here is my sentiment, my thoughts, my feelings...in his words:

And in the fury of this darkest hour
We will be your light
You've asked me for my sacrifice
And I am Winter born
Without denying, a faith is come
That I have never known
I hear the angels call my name
And I am Winter born

-Cruxshadows, Winterborn

9-11 is something that I just can't put behind me. For in order for there to be healing there needs to be closure. And until the fighting ends, there is no closure. And I don't see an end to the fighting, because its not the moderates who need to come to the table and talk, its extremists and their ideology. Catching or killing Osama Bin Laden is irrelevant, because he's a tangible boogeyman that if we can catch, becomes a physical manifestation of closure. It's bigger than him and its something that people can't wrap their head around until they see the big picture. This is the Forever War and I have become an instrument of that war. This ends either with your shield or on top of it.

ETA: I am blocking comments. If you have not fought in this war, I don't expect you to understand or agree with the sentiment. But it's from my heart (if not my mouth) and I will not have it reduced to argument, as unfortunately happened in paladyn's journal. If you have something non-argumentative to say on this, feel free to message me instead.

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This Isn't About You

Although if you feel like it is, then maybe it should be.

That's my disclaimer. Now, here's the post.

I'm starting to dislike social media more and more, especially Facebook. It's not because Facebook is, in itself, horrible...but because the level of pure, unadulterated hypocrisy I see on it daily is turning my stomach to the nth degree.

Mostly, it's just that I'm tired of 80% of my FL exhorting their readers to "Stop the Hate", particularly in reference to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, when they themselves have nothing but hateful, horrible, vitriolic things to say about every individual or group of people who doesn't agree with them.

Here's a newsflash: I don't agree with you. 9 times out of 10 we don't see eye-to-eye...at least, not when it comes to group philosophy. But then, I think that all collective minds are guilty at some level, of something. There is not one single innocent religious organization in the entire world. Not one. The top 3 (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) are the most guilty of the most heinous crimes, but that's only by dint and virtue of size and numbers. And frankly, I count aetheists in this mix of arrogance and egregious behavior too. They may not believe in any deity, but as a group, their dogma and often times rabid self-affirmation in not believing is reminiscent of any fundamental orthodoxy out there in the clerical sense.

There isn't a single, intelligent political party in this country. Not as a group. Each party has some great, even stunning minds - Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, Green Party, even the Rainbow Party (if they still exist) and all of the others that fall in between. But collectively? They're all dumb as a bag of hammers. Neither head nor heart is in the right place most of the time.

But here's the thing...I align my affiliations with the church/belief system and the party that generally speaks to me most. Politically, I am Independent. There are no issues that can be pigeonholed in to a party line. Spiritually, I'm a newly confirmed and already lapsed Catholic (in keeping with a fine, Irish-American traidition), but there's beauty and virtue in nearly every religion I've taken the time to learn about - and none of them, in my mind, are "wrong".

What I won't do is single a person or group of persons out simply because I disagree with them and call them names to further my own cause and rally others to my side. It's a bully tactic that usually just drives people on the fence away from falling off on to your camp and it's also a tactic recognized long ago by the military forces across the world - dehumanization. Dehumanize your enemy/opponent and it makes it easier to kill. Dehumanize your perceived enemy and it's easy to claim that you're not a purveyor of hate but a bearer of the sword of truth and light instead.

That, frankly, is rubbish.

I don't like ANY group. I don't believe for one moment that there aren't outstanding people within each and every one of those groups though. And I do believe that the less time spent calling each other "liberal moonbats" and "tea baggers" and far, far worse that I've seen lately, the more time we can talk to each other (not AT each other), the more common ground we'll find and the more we'll actually accomplish, even though it'll mean compromise for everyone.

Shit. It happens everytime I'm out one on one with a friend. We actually have more in common than not. That's why it's so distressing when I see such arrogant awfulness from so many of them these days. It's like...that's not you. That's silly. And if it IS you, you lied to holy hell to me.

I don't care what my friends believe or don't. I do care when they start tearing other people, including myself (unknowingly, which makes it worse) down for something they do believe - without so much as even formulating a decent argument to do so. Or worse, what I'm seeing more, is not coming close to trying to understand why someone else thinks the way that they do.

That's what's really making me ill, I guess. The unthinking stupidity that comes from hiding behind a keyboard and falling prey to group-think.

ETA: Champion Snarker though I may be, I will single out personal behavior and direct it to the individual - and I never say anything online I wouldn't to their face. Just wanted to make that point clear here, in light of the tenor of this post.