Cool Stuff

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taking Chances & Skating' On THIN ICE, Ladies!

The US Woman's Soccer Team is playing N Korea in the Olympics this afternoon and in the 58th minute has a 1-0 lead. Frankly they look awful...they are not playing with any urgency and letting N Korea hang around is quite is true they have already lock up a spot in the Semi-Finals but this team needs to go through this tournament like a raging bull and destroy  everyone they play. This is not good at all...they are setting themselves up with lackadaisical play just like in the World Cup, which they Lost, by the way by getting lazy and acting indifferent just like they are playing today!

I can't help but wonder how much of this is because of Hope Solo shooting her big MOUTH off on of the dumber (of several dumb) things she has done. Don't get me wrong, I love her as a player and competitor. I was a goal tender for a decade on my youth teams and worked my tail off to make all the available All Star (they equivalent of AAU Basketball Leagues for youth soccer back in the 1970's in Ohio). So I know she is a great player but she can also be a lousy, selfish teammate because she can't control her mouth. That draws attention to her and distracts her teammates/coaches from the task at hand: Winning the Gold Medal...

People on and around the team will say she is a great teammate, she is popular, well liked and she was defending a teammate while Tweeting. Yep...but by distracting everyone she is HURTING her team &therefore her teammates. I also believe everyone is too afraid  or intimidated of Miss Hot-Head to get in her grill and tell her to shove her phone in 'er YAP and SHUT-UP. ESPN reported this morning that the coach did not and was not going to ask her to stop tweeting...DUH, how gutless...and stupid.

The players/coaches will say after the game that this controversy had nothing to do with their ragged play and I'm calling BS on 'em because it obviously is the cause of some distraction. Last game they were Ultra-Focused and  today they collectively look like they would all rather still be at the Mall.

Hopefully they can pull out this win and move on from it but they still have to work this out.

The game ended 1 to Nil so they played like CRAP and won, which is what great teams do.          


3AM This morning I was greeted by very high winds, thunder and lightening and a different sound that instantly had me really concerned: a loud cracking sound which sounded to me suspiciously like a torn boat cover snapping crazily in the high wind. Well that is exactly what it was...and it sounded like a cosmic whip cracking in the sky as if God wanted to take a moment to demonstrate his displeasure for this sick world we've created....Jerry Sandusky's and Aurora Movie Shooter, Thanks you Jack-Asses!

In a  brief 10 minutes the yard is covered in downed one moment those leafy beauties were falling like the rain itself!

Well that was my unique wake up call (I was already awake of course but it sounds more interesting then the actual TRUTH, eh) this morning, off to town for a little literature study with my buddy Dave...always one of my favorite 90 minute periods of each week.

Photo KT

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Bad Moon Rising

It has been a day where things have not gone smoothly at all, let's just put it that way. Even the most routine efforts have become tedious, bordering on the over-whelming. Common, everyday discussions at home became disagreements or arguments...I don't know, it just feels like a Bad Moon's A-Rising. Ever feel that way? Things just seem to be taking a more serious tack, a turn to the they just seem to have a much harder edge to them today. Not sure why but it certainly does feel that way.                                     

Perhaps some of it is the heat. After a couple of days respite with cooler, breezier temps, it is heating back up and I for one am a bit cranky about it because I don't feel the greatest when it is hot and humid like this and I am struggling physically to keep up my typical fast & high energy pace. I just feel like something is about to "hit the fan" if you know what I mean. There is a bad spirit in the air or so it seems. Again we will have to see if it is real or just ME....

Maybe the Bad Moon stuff is just a figment of an over-active imagination...and maybe then it's totally REAL...I guess we'll just have to hang in and find out, huh?!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nodding' Nonsense

I am once again in that terrible pattern of "nodding off' from exhaustion...usually when I am by myself and often when I am reading or writing a post for this blog. I wake up with the imprint of my keyboard on my forehead....

I am not getting enough sleep and I have tried everything...nothing is effective on a consistant basis. I used to take melotonin and that was working well but now it doesn't and I end up feeling dried out when I take it then end up not able to fall asleep. It is frustrating to say the least.

I have to end this post because it's taken me over half an hour to writ this...Good Night People


A "Holy Cow!" Sunday

Holy Cow! Do I ever happen to have a major case of the Sunday afternoon "Sinking Spells" going on (that's what my grandma called those sudden periods of low energy)...I feel so freaking  lethargic right now....All I feel like doing is laying around or sleeping...perhaps sipping a large iced tea, haha. But in a way...that's what Sunday afternoon's are for, right?!

I will inject a thought and a memory in here right now. Last year about this time and on a similar kind of Sunday afternoon, K-Sue got herself baptized and it was really cool...I had gone and done the same thing 6 months before in the Spring. The reason I thought of it is that they are doing baptism's today at a church members house in their pool. Then everyone goes swimming which I find really cool.

I never thought I would be a "believer" in God but in all reality, I didn't really have anything to do with just happened, no kidding it was just like that. It really just happened on it's own and honestly I couldn't be more grateful....


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shred The Dread

Yea let's do it...let us chop into tiny little (figurative) pieces any semblance of a notion that one can coast through this life without giving it any thought or effort. No way that happens though people act as if they don't try and are just going through the motions. Even if they were able to succeed they would lose 'cause that is NO freaking way to live, period.

No this life can ONLY be deemed worthwhile if someone embraces it, lives it and even smothers themselves (I know a rather unfortunate use of the language where a former suicide attempt is involved) in it. You must jump in it with both feet and go all the way...half-assing it, well that won't cut it in this big bad world. Playing it "safe" will just get you hurt MORE in this scenario....I just believe that...I truly do.  Experience was a very good teacher in THIS regard!

The issue that was and potentially IS difficult for me is living the very FULLEST kind of life, pushing the envelope as it were for me, always...and I mean ALWAYS involved drink and  drugs. It couldn't be done sober as far as I knew...I didn't know how. Odd though...I have no physical craving today for booze, etc. But I can and sometime do have an intellectual craving for a drink...actually the craving isn't for a drink...nope, it's for OBLIVION. That ia the draw... OBLIVION, total chaos...pushing it until it cannot be pushed any more.

This illustrates my point...the neighbors a few houses down from us are having a huge, casual get together right now...dozens of adults with their children in tow have gathered, they are boating, throwing the all around listening to music, swimming, etc and drinking of course. I look at that and it looks fun. I do not automatically switch my mind over to what drinking realistically looks like for me. It has a darker, harder more sinister edge to it. It usually is invisible to others as well....meaning it would look like I am having a good time just like everyone else is but inside something completely else would be going on.

I drink like a forest fire burns... uncontrollably UNTIL it runs out of FUEL (booze). Except I would then pick my drunken ass up and move to another, untouched patch forest and start burning uncontrollably again. I suspect that when a true alcoholic gets a DUI...he is trying to do just that...move to another forest to keep the party "burning" awhile longer. Somehow in our minds we can't EVER let a good party way.

Not sure how to live life to the fullest SOBER but that has been what the last 6 years have been about...learning how to accomplish that and other tasks. And to a certain extent I have. It 'tis a work in progress, I shall admit and there are times that the "learning" is part of the adventure but there is some truth to the old adage that: "Adventures SUCK while you are having them" and that can be so true because learning to live w/out booze often feels like work (or punishment).

To find out how one's life changes in recovery and developing new routines and finding activities that don't include drink are an absolute necessity to having a successful life in recovery. I have seen far too many people stumble on this aspect of their sobriety. They either try and live their old lifestyle and just not drink (no chance this EVER works because they are way too miserable all the time, their love one's eventually are begging them to drink again!) or they just aren't willing to try new things and they start feeling sorry for themselves.

I think I was fortunate that things were SO BAD when I quit because I never honestly believed I would be able to drink again...I knew what I was so I never thought about it any other was purely a matter of survival for me and it still is. And so single day at a time that has been a successful formula for this alcoholic/addict.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Best

It has always been my goal to try and be honest with myself about my writing here on Shell Shock good is the subject matter, how well written is it, how colorful, is it entertaining, informative, etc, etc. I like to think I do a pretty good job but I'll be honest...I read some pretty good blogs and these folks can really write. It can be a bit intimidating at times but I like to think I can hold my own out here in the blog universe.

I still have been sticking to me original plan of writing whatever comes to mind and posting it as quickly as possibly. I don't plan on modifying that but it means that the original posts often have typos and have to have some re-work done to them after the fact.

Unfortunately some folks read less then finished posts but this works best for me and what I am trying accomplish here...which is to capture those thoughts/feelings etc in real time, fresh as they occur. I just think it is neat to see that happen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Another "news morning" dominated by the Penn Sate Story and how severe the NCAA Sanctions are. Frankly this story is getting as much if not more play then the Aurora, CO Movie House Shooting...which I find shocking. Only because it is an older story and having 12 people gunned down in a movie theater is so unprecedented, I thought it would dominate the news.

Originally I thought of the PSU/Jerry Sandusky Story as mainly a sports story. I now see how far reaching the implications are and the potential for impacting a huge segment of our society is quite great. This is going to be difficult to state with out it sounding contrite or as if I am minimizing the damage done but as tragic as this story is, the long range impact of all this exposure generated by these 10 victims coming forward might actually achieve something really positive out of this great tragedy.

What I mean is this has changed the way average Americans react to rape and in particular male on male rape and has been that powerful of a LESSON. Men molesting boys is now out in the open and no longer just a dirty little secret. It is no longer the exclusive domain of a few sex-starved priests and their Church covering up for them.

This may very well have changed forever how these type of events are handled by institutions, the workplace and in schools in the future. Perhaps no one will EVER be able to "look the other way" about abuse or rationalize away rape again...what an amazing legacy that would be. But, no amount of positive change that may result from this event will ever change what happened to those 10 will NEVER make it  worthwhile....But they can rest assured that by speaking up they have changed how America and it's people will deal with these kind of situations in the future...they forced the hand of the BEAST...and won. THEY most definitely have made a DIFFERENCE by speaking out.

Believe me, I have questioned myself many times over whether I should be so open about my own experience's but in the end I could not get over the fact that by speaking up...I may actually help someone heal or get help or file chargers or better understand what has happened to them or have a wee bit of HOPE that they too can live through THIS...that they can survive.

Because that is not a sure thing to a person who has experienced feels as if the whole terrible, nasty experience will devour one from the inside out. Because a person's head can play some mighty sick tricks on them and a rape victim can actually start to feel responsible for what happened to them....that they somehow CAUSED this to happen. Most of us go through a stage where we at the very least question our actions. 

This can be especially true when boys are raped or molested by men because it seems so implausible in this 'macho" American society...Males aren't supposed to let this happen to ourselves. We should be able to fight our way out of it, stop it and fight the good fight, so to speak....even as boys.  But instead we are over-powered and raped. It feels so dirty, so incredibly wrong and there is no one to turn too because people do NOT want to believe this is true. They assume that there HAS to be some misunderstanding.

It often happens that people suspect that you are gay and actually wanted it to happen and then got upset after the fact....they look for reasons to excuse the behavior. That was particularly true for me because of circumstances of my sexual assault but in actuality was the farthest thing from the truth.

What happened in Happy Valley is the Norm folks, not an exception to the rule. Company's, schools and yes CHURCHES wiggle out of this kind of thing all the time...ask the Catholic Church...they've become expert at protection and deflection...using scape-goating as a last resort. 


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It is a little on the late side tonight to be writing and truth be told I have been struggling to write posts this late at night because I keep nodding off due to exhaustion from lack of sleep.I'm doing it as I write this.

This sleep "issue" is the main reason the reader here at THE SHOCK has begun to see more very short and to the point postings. There is nothing wrong with "getting to the point" when writing but I think my work has suffered because of this phenomena.

I have written many times before about this issue so I am not going to delve into it again...I am not sleeping but 20-30 minutes tops a night and I am slowly losing my sharpness and abilities to function at a reasonable level.

Because I really don't want to spend another 90 minutes writing, at most another paragraph...perhaps two between nodding off I am going to shut this down right now...


In early September my son is getting married...he is the youngest of my two children. Both of my kids will be married then...though he pretty much is already in practice since he currently lives with his future wife and they already have their own home, several dogs and have really established their life together as a partnership.

To tell you the truth I do not feel old or weird at all about having grown children and two fact I actually really like it. I am comfortable growing old and consider it a gift since there was a time I was doing everything in my power to end my life. 

So living to see my kids grow up, meet my grandchildren is a privilege and one I will never take for granted...

March 1981

I Just watched a very interesting documentary on the Military Channel about the assassination attempt and medical treatment of President Ronald Reagan after his shooting on March 30, 1981 in Washington DC. It was fascinating stuff, some of it was done through re-creation with actors which I usually do not like but it was very well done here. Then there were extensive interviews with many of the key players in Government, Secret Service, Law Enforcement, Media and finally the Medical Staff from the lead Surgeon on down.

The doctors and nurses were fantastic and it was incredible how close Reagan came to dying. At the time if I recall clearly, they must have downplayed it a bit because it seemed serious then but not life threatening. The real story is quite different...he very easily could have died.

Then again perhaps I wasn't paying attention...I was just about to graduate High School and had other stuff on my mind...just a month before 3 close friends were killed in an auto accident, driving drunk when they hit an innocent old man head on while driving on a country road. I was newly sober, fresh out of drug treatment and supposed to be with them. But I got nervous because I knew they would be partying and I didn't want to drink so I lied to them to get out of going. I felt responsible for their deaths (especially the old man) for decades...

But I recommend this documentary to anyone who is interested in history. There was a great deal about this event that I didn't know before and I found it absolutely fascinating. I am sure it is on DVD. This documentary should appeal to ANY American, regardless of your political affiliation. As one of the surgeons answered in the OR before putting the President under anesthesia when Reagan joked that he hoped they all were Republican: "We all are TODAY, Mr President". Well we are all AMERICANS when watching this movie and he was our President who was seriously wounded while serving as our Country's Leader.

To this day President Reagan is still the only President to be shot and survive while in office...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I am all but numb to the news anymore. I have just noticed it really but there have been two GIGANTIC news stories in the last few days...the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, CO and the continuing Penn State story. I just sort of feel nothing...

It's interesting that in this new "Electronic" world we have been brought closer by technology. News for example travels almost instantly. And for a long time that was really an intense experience...watching the Challenger explode live, President Reagan being shot, the Oklahoma Bombings, 9/11 and so on and on. TV literally has brought the news, nearly raw and uncensored right into our homes and now into our pockets/purses (via smartphone).

For a person who has witnessed violent death personally, heard gunfire aimed in my general direction this phenomena was shockingly intense but I have noticed a change now. The electronic devices that bring me the news straight from Happy Valley or a courtroom in Aurora, CO now create a sense of detachment as if this stuff I am seeing is in reality just a show and not actually happening.

I remember when the shootings happened at Virginia Tech and a fellow used his phone to shoot video outside the building and you could clearly hear the pop, pop, pop of gunfire and see people throwing themselves out of a 2nd story window. I recall how chilling that I am detached from it.

Movies, TV, the Internet and video games, etc. are now so graphic, so real and so instantaneous that it is very difficult to distinguish FACT from Fiction...reality from fantasy. People no longer shrink away from true blood and guts...they are numb to screaming in the night. Violence no longer shocks the civilized among us. We have all been reduced to our basic animal instincts.

I can totally see how they looked the other way at young BOYS being RAPED...can you even believe I just wrote that sentence? And actually mean it? But it is true. Some people will deny that this "numbness" is even possible saying that no compassionate human being could get this way. Well I would like to think that I am compassionate and I am here to tell you that I have been able to detach in my mind from my own rape...there are times where it doesn't seem real anymore though I can snap right back into reality in a second on demand. I can still smell the place where it happened...I can feel the cool, damp tile floor and hear the way sound echoes.

Bu the key is I can detach at will and I think society is doing the same thing with all the sex, violence and tragedy we digest from the media. It strips of of our humanity and turns us into nothing more then inhuman witnesses to this crap and we have begun to stop caring. For each person OUTRAGED at the Penn Sate debacle there are just as many people who don't care or are not surprised or think the NCAA is picking on there favorite team...they have become NUMB.

Melancholy Middle-Man

The word melancholy has always been sort of a favorite of mine. Not because of what it is or what it it is because I find it to be a word that sounds like it feels and for some odd reason that has always amused me when a word represents themselves in that manner.

I also find it somewhat impressive that it accurately describes what it feels like: "A deep, pensive, long-lasting sadness". Well that also describes the way I feel at the very core of my being most of the time. But please don't assume that I am now a permanent sour-puss...I'm not but I just feel a deep sadness at the very heart of who and what I am as a human being. Call me "Soul-Saddened" for lack of a better description...

I believe that sadness is a direct result of being raped and frankly I now believe that it is not an unhealthy thing to feel a long and deep seated sadness about something so is impossible not to, actually if I am being honest about who and what I am. Since the horror of that day has settled has always just been there. And again, I do not see it as a total negative because I don't always show it and it isn't like that sadness manifests itself openly every waking moment of my life. But it is a part of who I am and I am not afraid to let it show or shy             about IS what it IS. Funny when that phrase first started to be popular that is the first thing I applied it to...being sexually assaulted:  "I cannot change that this happened...It IS what IT is.".

I guess at this stage in my life that deep seated sadness has become like a well-worn, favorite, most comfortable's familiar, very comfortable and it IS home. 

Sadness does not dominate my mood or my life and I feel a full range of other emotions. I somehow believe that it's acknowledging and accepting it's constant presence is how I eventually healed from that horror and it is a familiar and steady protector that in it's own way provides a sense of security to me...for whatever that's worth.

I realize this may all sound a bit crazy but let's face facts...there is nothing freaking normal about RAPE, right?! Nothing about it ever makes real if there is anyway one can find some solace, a sense of peace  or just be able to live with it for awhile without blowing one's brains out, then it is most definitely a very good thing.

So those are my thoughts and feelings about the word melancholy...

Monday, July 23, 2012


I am a connoisseur of stinky cheese...sorry, it is what it is or in the case of this last salad...what it WAS. Yummy crumbles of mold spread over fresh lettuce and very little oil/vinegar to boot, perhaps a bit of fresh onion, shredded carrot and a dash of basil...deeee-lightfully Even the salad pictured above with blackberries looks really good and I have never been too fond of fruit on my salad.

I am actually trying to convince myself that I enjoy salad because I kind of don't really but I want to...the enthusiasm just isn't there but the effort is, you dig?

I am fairly satisfied with my physical condition at least to start but I am way too much of a porker around the middle (big 'ole ice-cream gut, I'm afraid) and something needs to be done about that. I lead a  very active life and I am always trying to increase my exercise but there are serious limitations because of my injuries/disabilities but I exercise in an intelligent manner (most of the time) and within the parameters of what is wise, safe and effective.

I think I am probably at a point where I have my medications that I require as well suited to my needs as I ever had. They allow me to have some physical freedom without to much limitation and pain...I haven't often been satisfied with that situation in the  last 30 years but this is as good as it has ever been so I take advantage by being outside and as active as I possibly's working pretty darn well so far.

Now it is the diet I need to continue to monitor and modify...I'm not talking about going on a diet, no i am referring to making a complete change in my daily diet...eating habits, the whole deal. That is  a challenge for me without a doubt but so far I am making slow but steady progress.

So we start with the salad...added to my already satisfactory daily intake of fruit and then build from there with nutritious entrees. So that is the plan...we shall see how well I can execute it before getting too excited.

Space Cadet Parade Boy (Or This Title is Nonsense!)

Alas...I promised yesterday to write later and what actually happened? Nothing...that's what. Black Dog Days are here unfortunately...and it can be rather difficult to stick with and follow through on even the simplest tasks or stick to even the most basic plans. All those things are quite out of character for me because I typically finish whatever I start most of the time....

Lot's of plans, thoughts and responsibilities crowding up my thoughts these days and they can build into an almost insurmountable mountain of expectations if I let it...and frankly folks...I have. But I know from my own experience that recognizing it is half the battle, if I know it is starting to happen then I actually have an opportunity to work with it and prevent some of the chaos....In the past I would start to feel things spinning out of control and have no clue what was going on so I would just continue to push it creating a much bigger problem down the road.

Again identifying what's going on gives me half a chance to focus on improving the situation as I go...imagine that, an actual plan that works! I have to laugh because I literally never thought about such things back then.

Busy morning with a book study at 8am but it is one of the things I really look forward to each week. So let's just say so long for now and my intention will be to follow up later.

I really do have a few things I want to cover here but haven't found a way to start...starting a new train of thought here on Shell Shock is often the most difficult thing for me but I'll give it a shot this afternoon. Until then...    

Photo: Kathy Tomson          

Sunday, July 22, 2012

'Til Later, Then!

It is a hot and muggy Sunday Late, late it is actually afternoon now. The British Open Golf tournament is on and Adam Scott is leading several others including Mr Tiger Woods who is 4 strokes back with 7 or so holes left to play. It's probably too great a lead to over-come but still, golf and particularly Majors are more fun to watch when Woods is in contention.

I am thinking a lot about the Penn State Joe Paterno stuff again because it has been announced that the NCAA will punish Penn State tomorrow morning and the word is that the punishment is very severe....So stay tuned, I may post on that later.

I have a lot of things swirling around in my head and it is hard to pluck any single nugget out of the whole...I just feel somewhat distracted. Perhaps it is the heat or the disturbing events lately including the shooting at a screening of the New Batman Movie on Friday Morning in Denver.
I am gonna shut this down and post something later....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

He's My Brother...

This is a post about the kind of people I am so privileged to have in my life on a regular basis. Some of you may find this interesting some probably won't...

Tony is a friend of mine from the Pittsburgh, PA area and I have know him for a couple of years. Interestingly Kim and I met him waiting to get into the venue at the RUSH Concert in the Consol Energy Center the Pittsburgh Penguins brand new arena downtown. Meeting him was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

K and I had front row seats and we had Tony sit with us and so he got to see the show (he is a HUGE RUSH Fan) from the front row for the first time ever with a couple of strangers he just met. It has been the beginning of a really neat relationship. I honestly look at Tony like a younger brother I never had and he has mentioned similar brotherly sentiments about me. What  a wonderful set of circumstances that brought us together as friends.

We keep up mostly through FaceBook and Email though we have chatted periodically on the phone. This morning I opened an email from Tony and my heart just sank. It was a letter written to his close friends and family letting everyone know that his father who he is very close to is being sent home from the hospital and has but a short time to live. Needless to say, my friend is struggling with this deep sadness and sorrow right now and I  really feel for him & his family.

It is heart wrenching, heartfelt, touching message about his feeling toward his Dad and would bring anyone who loves their own father to tears in mere seconds. I feel so badly for him but I also admire a young man who is not afraid to put his feelings down for all to see and make himself vulnerable. What a wonderful example he is setting for his own two young sons....

So I am thinking and praying for my dear friend Tony Aniceti tonight as he has to watch his beloved father slip from this life to another. Tony is a man very strong in his faith and I know he get through this knowing God will look out for him and his father.

Tony: Please be assured that your Michigan friends are holding you and your family EXTRA CLOSE to our hearts tonight. Peace Always and God Bless You My Friend...Love you Brother.


Friday, July 20, 2012


I just do not understand why these people loose their minds and feel that they have to kill other people. This idiot in Colorado thought he was the Joker....Listen, like many people, I have had great adversity in my life...some of it self-inflicted...other's beyond my control. I was raped and beaten severely as a 12 year old boy for heaven's sake and though the thought of killing the 3 individuals who did it has crossed my mind over the years, I never would have acted on the impulse had I ever been able to find out who they were.

Now we will have to hear all the pathetic details on how abused, neglected or sick he was...Blech! I just feel terrible for all the victims involved. Sheesh. Frankly it is too bad he didn't die in the capture...but people will say that then we will never know what happened or know why he did it. Folks he doesn't have a clue...he thinks he is a freaking comic book character, OK?

Praying and thinking about those who were injured and the same for the families of those killed in this senseless, meaningless MESS. Honestly it makes one afraid to turn the news on anymore. What have we become?

The Inevitable CHURNING

Feeling under the weather again today. I've often wondered about the origin of that phrase: "under the weather"...what is it supposed to mean, under? How does one get "under" the weather anyway...I usually find myself "IN" the weather, being cold or hot, getting wet or sunburnt so I guess the whole notion of the idea makes no sense to me.

Yet here I am feeling under the weather...haha. What I actually am is ill, sick...not feeling like myself. I am running a fever. I feel quite weak and have been feeling this way for a couple of days. I went outside this morning into much cooler though very moist air. After trying to play a couple holes of golf I had to stop...I was much to weak to swing the clubs properly so I cam home.

Though cooler the humidity is ridiculously high and the  temps will once again stretch toward 90 degrees.

I am thankful this morning consider all the Black Dog stuff churning away inside of me just to be alive. I am going to leave it at that this morning.              

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Overwhelming, Weight Presses Down Again & Again

There are times in my life when I feel like some great, unseen beings have each grabbed one of my arms or my legs and are all pulling on them simultaneously. I obviously cannot go in all directions at the same time, so they end up just pulling me apart. Tonight I feel that I have just been pulled apart...AGAIN. 

Unfortunately this is a feeling that I am way more familiar with then I would like to be but I do not know what I can do about it. I try to let go of the things that are stressing me out and honestly, this does not feel like stress. It almost has a physical quality to it as well as a psychological one. In the end I feel exhausted as well as Depressed.

Speaking of the "D-Word"...I have had a reasonably long stretch (for me it was long) where I hadn't had a major visit by by my friend the Black Dog.  That changed today, in a big way. I just suddenly felt so taken for granted, so used and unimportant, so weak, so vulnerable and fearful. My health issues have flared up again recently and often when that happens they are accompanied by that pesky black rascal.

I  just cannot seem to shake it...prayer and meditation almost seem to intensify the effect today and all I wanted to do was die. It came on me this morning as an awful and overwhelming wave of very negative emotion, totally unexpected. It left me reeling, questioning my very right to exist and regretting that I had survived the attempt to take my own life.

One result of this feeling I have noticed in the past is that it seems to make every physical exertion seem so great and overwhelming. As if a mere pencil weighs 25lbs. So the result is that I am absolutely exhausted from writing this short post just now but I felt that if I didn't get the details recorded I would forget the my thoughts and feelings about it all together.

I need to go lay down, I feel exhausted but I will elaborate on how I feel about this tomorrow......

(PHOTO: Kathy Tomson)

A Real Good Soaking

It is no surprise that the main topic of discussion this morning among local friends on FaceBook, the local news media (TV and Radio) and everyone else you meet is the nice soaking rain and storms we have been getting all night and the scattered Thunder-Boomers that began yesterday morning.

Looking at next week the weather reports suggest that we are not finished with this hot and dry drought situation. But this brief wet and wonderful interlude certainly will go a long way in helping to preserve some of the grass, flowers and plant life that have survived this hot and dry summer.

I had to switch my standing Tuesday meeting with my dear friend D to today this week so I am off to town. It is a strange feeling this morning because it is the first time in at least a month that I haven't gotten outside by 5:45p to golf or at least walk. It was nice to change the pace a bit and I even laid back down in bed for an hour which is unheard of for me.

So off I go on this wet and wonderful Thursday morning, looking for some good coffee and some interesting discussion... 


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back Story

Since there are always new readers coming and going here at Shell Shock Serenade, it would probably benefit some folks if I gave a bit of an explanation about the reincarnation stuff I've been writing about lately....
I have somewhat believed in reincarnation most of my life based on some pretty incredible and hard to explain happenings as a young boy. Vivid dreams about things I was much to young to know about or understand, yet I did. An uncanny familiarity to places that I had never been to before...particularly on Great War Battlefields in France/Belgium and in Manchester, England. I still posses an uncanny ability to lead expert battlefield guides at places like Ypres and The Somme to secret tunnels and other unique places...this has astounded several experts.

My parents had me evaluated for severe nightmares when I was 5 years old...I was dreaming about drowning in deep mud and holes filled w/water  (later realizing they were shell holes), rats feeding on corpses and running all over me while I slept, being buried alive, huge explosions (shell-fire) and gunfire. The shrink one day began showing me pictures of Great War Battlefields in a library book and I began to cry because I was recognizing that my dreams were taking place on similar battlefields. Again I recognized names, dates and places that a veryyoung, particularly American boy would have NO knowledge of since these were British Battlefields and adult subject matter. Again, remember that I was just 5-6 years old at this time.                     

Long story short, there were several potential explanations for this kind of thing...a vivid imagination, coincidence and an over-active sub-conscience and of course reinve carnation. I started to lean in that direction as I became a teenager, I went through more extensive therapy as a teenager of High School age as the dreams intensified. I never totally embraced reincarnation just like I never embraced Christianity before and probably for the same reason...I was very skeptical.

Well I sobered up in 2006 and these dreams that had faded a bit over the years came back stronger then ever before creating much confusion for me. This thing was not cool or it was a curse! When I became a Christian I started extensive discussions with my Pastor Shayne and he basically told me to relax and don't worry about it so turn it over to God. He did say there isn't a Biblical basis for believing in reincarnation which   I of course already knew. He suggested that I spend some time in prayer and meditation, as I always do when something is weighing heavily on me. I found this helps put things in perspective and softens up any stressful feelings I may have been working up.

That has helped me feel better about the situation and not feel so much like a crack-pot. But I am impatient and want resolution NOW so I can push it at times. That is the reason  I am writing about it now...I want it to go away.

So that is a bit of the back story on the reincarnation thing. I am not a full blown believer...I really wish it had never happened because I just want to be a normal guy and this stuff is FAR from me. So that's my story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Trying To.....

I realize there are readers of Shell Shock who don't really get the dream/reincarnation pieces that are posted here. Find it silly Hocus-Pokus stuff and ridiculous. Frankly it is quite relevant to me because it was a significant issue when I was a boy and those beliefs still haven't been completely altered.

Naturally I was disturbed about this when I became a FOLLOWER of Jesus so I have spent a good deal of time in discussion with my pastor about it. It has helped settle some of my concerns but it is still enough of an issue that it needs to be acknowledged as a troublesome issue for me even today. Hence I will continue to write about it...

I am surprised that no one has taken issue with my mentioning it...perhaps people respect my honesty here and realize it has been a long and difficult struggle for me. I certainly appreciate that because I would rather NOT have to deal with this and certainly would rather not have the nightmares and such still some 45 years after it started!

My Boyhood Memories (From Dreams)

Here are several posts that I mentioned recently from a couple years ago. These are the Great War Short Stories that I've mentioned that I've written that are actually straight up recollections from my boyhood dreams. I went back and located them and am going to share them here in one long post. The originals had images but they did not transfer well so I am going to them this without the original photos. You can search for the title of each post and it will take you back to the original.

It's cold, very cold and my body hurts all over. I cannot see much....visibility is limited by the fact it's pre-dawn and I'm cuddled round a corpse in a half frozen shell hole, reeking of rot and Mustard Gas. It is so quiet.....that at this moment that very silence seems deafening. Then I hear the thumping of my own heart.....well I'm pretty sure it's my heart beating hard and not the heart of a German corpse I've been sharing this hole with since the shelling started. I have no idea where the rest of my patrol is.....out here somewhere I suppose though I haven't a clue if any of them is still living or not. I mustn't shout out....I need to be...silent, still, alive.

The shelling had gone on for 3 or 4 minutes or so but God it seemed like a fucking eternity. Now in it's aftermath I can't focus. My soul has been knocked out of kilter and my brain is scrambled. I see only brief images, in my mind, smoke going by, flickers of movement...light in the darkness. But I begin to think my friend the corpse (I allow that now he is dead that he isn't really a German, or an English or Frenchmen for that matter....he is just another rotting corpse now, in the end.) I feel wet all over but the warm wetness in my crotch suggests that I pissed myself during the shelling....It doesn't matter really, it isn't the first time. I'm just grateful to be alive to notice.

As the minutes pass, sound comes back to me. Some where south of High Wood is the crump, crump of distant shelling impacting the sodden ground. I keep hearing a whistle, chirping in the night until i realize it's just my ears continuing to ring. I'm hungry, confused and I have to shit but I don't dare give my position away...I can hold it though it's mostly liquid and will leak out if I don't find away to....voices, several voices from out there. What language? German...a patrol? I pull a Mills Bomb out and wait....they are no longer speaking but I here the squish/crunch of boots breaking the semi-frozen mud....and then nothing.

I begin to move...west, south west back to the line. Never standing, crawling, hunched walking just a step or two at a time...connecting shell hole to shell hole. Since the lines haven't really moved much in the last several months rare is the shell hole out here that isn't occupied by the dead or pieces of the dead. Hollow empty eyes, pleading for...what? Their mums maybe? The silence, deafening silence has returned and every step I make seems like an explosion of sound then...a whisper. Sgt Millar...the patrol or what's left of them have gathered in this collapsed outpost with the dead and the rats as well. Seems three of our patrol took a direct hit. The Sgt. believes we were unlucky in moving into an area scheduled for a pre-planned sporadic box-barrage...non of us detected any movement from the German trenches though we never really got close, not even to the wire before the shelling dispersed us. The Germans routinely follow pre-planned barrages with a follow up patrol which all of us managed to avoid. 

 Corporal Lakey took some shell fragments to the face and left shoulder but can walk with help. Adams legs are mangled and we carry him back to the trench....Smithy crawls forward to alert the sentries that we are coming in. The trench line further south took a beating from the shells and they have casualties as well. The Captain meets us as we come in and seems less then pleased that we didn't at least get a look at Fritz's wire and hardly reacts when informed of our dead and wounded. As we move quickly down the line to a reserve trench our mates pat us lightly as we pass....we have all been out there...outside the wire.

By Thomas O Davis

It's hot...the dust from the road rises in a light brown cloud covering everyone and everything. This includes my my mouth, my nose, brain. Yes, it invades my every thought, it holds me, suffocates me. Water is a most valuable item right now. Every break in the march brings an urgent search for water.

The scene is one of controlled chaos...horses, wagons, men, mules. Every kind of imaginable transport moving all at once...mostly, to the East. Long lines of men on the far as the eye can see. The very air contains an urgency hard to explain.

Perhaps all these visual distractions are a good thing. They keep us occupied, to busy to ponder what this may all mean to us. Because deep down we advance. An attack, a full scale attack on the German main line the East. And soon, very soon.The Germans know it to...their aircraft are very active above us. Our aircraft are active as well trying to prevent them from observing what is happening in our rear.

The sound of the men marching, the horses, motorized transport, teamsters cursing, officers shouting, men singing....creates a symphony all it's own. A soundtrack, "The Prelude to Hell..." perhaps. The entire scene...sound, the sight, the smell it...energizes, lifts us up to another place. Prepares us for what is next. Or maybe it doesn't.....


Suffice it to say that it is no longer hot and is now just wet, very wet. The dry weather gave way to torrential rains two days after the Big Push began. Some one in the Heavens must have a sickened sense of humor because just as we were gaining some headway in breaking the German lines...the rains came and everything slogged to a standstill. Now both sides are digging deep again.

Not that things were going really well before the rain......every single yard we gained was paid for in blood...our blood. Fritz did not want to give up that series of trench-lines and out posts. There would be a short, vicious bombardment of their line and then we'd rush the trench...hurling Mills Bombs as we jumped into the front line. Any survivors we shot or ran them through with our bayonets. No mercy...a nightmarish fury of shooting, stabbing, punching, kicking, screaming horror...then, it was quiet. After a short while, the Germans would shell us, counter-attack and the furious hand to hand combat would begin all over again. We would go back and forth like this, hour after into night. I thought it would never end. 

And then we began to hold...and the counter-attacks weakened, then stopped. We started to advance a few hundred yards at a time. Word was that the Front Line had been broken a couple miles to the south and the Hun were in retreat. We almost began to have hope again...hope that maybe, just maybe, this time, this nightmare, this war might end. We could push the enemy, pursue them, destroy them and maybe, just maybe end the war. For the first time in years we were in open country and on the move. Then the Germans turned back to fight, to hold their ground. And the advances started to a crawl.
We continued to attack, hour after hour with minor, insignificant little gains, an advance of a hundred yards here....200 yards there. But the casualties were incredibly high...then the rains came. And every movement and everything just stopped, bogged down in deep mud, mired in a land torn and shredded by incessant shellfire. Moving forward was out of the question though for awhile, orders to continue the attack were given until the slaughter...our slaughter became so great that there were not enough men left in the Division to continue. We had become a Ghost Division. So we waited for our relief and dug in as best we could in the heavy rain and prayed for someone, anyone to have mercy on us..... 

I'm here still, I think. The sound, the noise is incredible...I can't hear myself think. I realize the funny taste in my mouth is...dirt. The last series of bombs from Fritz blew in part of the trench block and buried several fellows alive...including me. From the noise, the incredible fury of sound I realize that the fight is still on. The incessant hammering of rifle fire, bombs going off one after the other...a mixture of other sound, human made sounds..shouts, screams, the yelling, crying....

I shrug off the last of the dirt and push through the destroyed block to find myself alone...where are my Pals? Through the haze of smoke in the last light of day I begin to see snippets of images....a body here,German, unmoving...a man, one of ours on his knees, struggling to crawl away..with an arm missing, marking his path with blood. Now many corpses litter the remains of the trench floor, I move cautiously round a bend in the trench and I'm face to face with my enemy. I see him first, run him through the throat and he remains standing, frozen in time with a silent scream staring intently back at the man who just killed him. After a while of gazing back into the dead mans eyes, I remove the bayonet, he crumples to the ground. I stick him again, then again....dead. I pause, take a deep breath then begin to move again down the trench only to deflect a swinging trench shovel w/the butt of my rifle at the last second. Shouts from behind as lads from 3rd Welsh Fusiliers come up, over and through the broken and battered trench block. The Welsh lay down a sheet of rifle fire and a barrage of bombs on the next series of strong-points in the trench system. The German with the shovel dies in the onslaught. Systematically they bomb there way down the trench, eliminating dug outs and surviving Germans as they go. As quickly as the appeared, they were gone, lost in the smoke, lost in time like ghosts from Hell or Avenging Angels....

A cold shiver passes through me as I struggle to remain standing. I am confused by my weakness until stretcher bearers come through....In the chaotic confusion of the fight I failed to realize I'd been shot through the left thigh and am now missing parts of two fingers on my right hand. Seems it was my hand on the rifle butt that deflected the Hun shovel..

Suddenly I see a man from the Medical Corps, his face right in front of me and he is talking, his lips move but I don't understand what he is saying. It doesn't make any sense to me then I realize that I feel faint. With much help I am moved back through the trench we have just taken from Fritz. I can't begin to describe the horror of what I see: a private window into a small piece of the underworld. Bodies, parts of bodies, once human gobs of goo, chunks of stuff along with equipment strewn everywhere. In a large junction of several trench avenues I wait with other wounded to be moved back, behind the line to receive medical attention. I lay on the cold, hard packed dirt of the trench and slowly the intense noise of the previous hours begins to fade. I relax, I urinate where I lie but I feel OK yet I swear I hear a familiar voice...soft, comforting...Is it, no!? How can that be? is my Mother.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Really Good News Today

Summertime has been a time of transition for me, particularly how it has affected my daily/weekly schedule. From the Fall, through Winter and into Spring I had a rather full volunteer schedule...reading the Bible out loud at church on Tuesdays, and assisted living home on Saturday and for individual shut-ins in their home on an "as-needed" basis.

The Assisted living place went through a leadership change and when I tried to adjust my schedule (I have Sat/Sun morning commitments in the Summer so I wanted to shift to Thursday mornings like I did last year) I couldn't get anyone to approve it and had to stop going all really sucked because I love going there.

Today I got a call and it looks like we will be ramping that program back up again and I am totally stoked. I typically read to a group of 6-10 people, usually all woman and there are three of them that are in their 100's! It is one of the coolest freaking things I have ever had the privilege to be a part of and I feel so fortunate...yes blessed even to be able to go. 

Because of scheduling we may have to start meeting AFTER Labor Day but I'll gladly wait now that I at least know it's back in business.

The church group attendance needless to say has suffered greatly because it is summer and let's face it...people travel and do things with their family like go to Music in the Park Nights. I completely understand but I have been reluctant to shut it down for the Summer mainly because I am afraid I won't be able to generate enough interest to get it going again. 

Then I realized that was a selfish way to look at it...this reading IS NOT about ME. If people want to attend then they most certainly will..I cannot manipulate or control it. Perhaps a hiatus until the second week of September is in order....Have to do a little meditating on this one!

Anyway though, it is wonderful news to be back at M-House regardless when that it's exciting and a very good piece of news on this dangerously HOT day in July.