Summer Of ’69

I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a couple of hours when screams of laughter made me sit up in bed. I pulled the window shade aside and saw twenty kids standing in my carport and I was so very pleased to see them.

Our family, eight kids and two adults, had just arrived on Howard Air Force Base, Canal Zone, Panama after driving from Sacramento, California in a Dodge Monaco station wagon through Central America, for what would be my father’s Twilight Tour of duty.

Everyone moaned when he told us he had orders to Panama. We didn’t even know where this place was and was shocked to find out we were leaving the United States. Passports and inoculations for all would be in order. Dad was very humble and diplomatic when he showed up with family in tow for services like dental, passports, which required ten of everything. A brisk bit of work but Dad was accustomed to managing crowds, being an Air Policeman.

I just finished 10th grade and was day dreaming about my first car only to find my dad made arrangements to leave America a year earlier than the rest of us to wait for a house on the base to become available. He picked a good one too. It was beside the base chapel and lo’ and behold, our house was the bus stop.

I lived at the bottom of this hill, in the last housing unit on the right.

My bedroom was the “Maids” room—for families who could afford such things—and was adjacent to the carport and laundry room but separate from the rest of the house. It had a window air conditioner, bathroom, and furnished by the Air Force with steel beds and striped mattresses. The night stand was metal covered in wood-like plastic veneer. The room was musty and humid and no way to open a window.

I slipped my shirt on and walked into the carport holding up a smoke and asked if anyone had a match. Dawn pushed her way through the crowd with books held tightly in crossed arms and said, “My name is Dawn. You must be the new people who moved in, what’s your name.” After telling them we just drove up hours ago they looked at me funny and asked where we’re from. Before I Could finish explaining somebody yelled Bus!

I watched as each boarded the bus; a mixture of high school and middle school kids. I quickly asked, hey what about all this Panama Red I’ve heard about? Rusty said, after school man, after school. Then he shouted from the bus, you drove here? Imagine if I had told him there were ten of us who made the trip.

The house was still asleep when I went upstairs, except mom. Dad had left early to report in with his commanding officer before making arrangements for all of our household effects to be delivered. Finally, I would be rejoined with my records and clothes; nothing like unpacking your music and clothes and shoes that had been in transit for months. Mom was unpacking what little we brought with us on the journey. Much of what we brought was lashed to the top of the wagon and it wasn’t much. We lived on canned ham and fresh bread and market vegetables. Depending on road conditions, dad would sometimes endure marathon sessions of twenty-hours or more of driving each day. We stopped at every major metropolitan area and American embassy along the PanAmerican Highway. He made the journey in less than two weeks.

The housing on Howard looked like stacked cubes on stilts. The stilts were 18-inch concrete columns and everyone parks their car in the carport under their dining room. Up a flight of stairs to the front door that opens onto the living area with the dining room looking out over the street. Tiled floors and spartan furnishings it lacked warmth but we would call it home for the next three years.

My new friends were in test week and wouldn’t finish school for another week, so I fixed up my room. It was nice to have a bathroom. It was nice to have a room to myself. Full stop. Something I was not expecting, was my birthday present had waiting for me; a beautiful Brazilian acoustic guitar. I was more blown away by the gesture, than the gift itself.

Panama was an amazing 10,000 mile journey for our family because we experienced it together, “with trunks of memories to spare”, down and back. You can imagine what we did to pass the time as our father drove. And that’s all he did, was drive. He didn’t share the driving, he didn’t participate in the singing, he would just interject at times saying,, “Don’t make me come back there.”

To be continued…

We The People Love Our Calendars

We The People celebrate patriotism.

We take a day to reflect on America’s struggle to be civil to one another. 

The scope and magnitude of these conflicts and their impact on We The People was so great, they appear in our calendars. 

Americans aren’t content with one calendar, which is why men like Lincoln, Kennedy, and King have to compete with, and are diminished by quarterbacks, movie stars, and the NRA. 

The real difference is reflected in the words on their tombstones, not their headlines.

Enlightenment Has a Righteous Dark Side

Because life is hard to unpack and myriad paths exist to find meaning in our lives, the species has allowed the Scientific and Religious communities to dominate every conversation about what Everyman’s purpose is in this life, and the next, and it has to stop.

Science says masturbation is good, Religion says it’s bad but there are tens-of-millions of people who masturbate religiously, some suffering from carpal tunnel, who are being completely ignored because they don’t fall into either camp. 😉

If you’re blazing your own trail through the thicket of life, look behind you, is anyone following you? Are you sure?

If you’re dependent, you’re on someone else’s path. If the path is not your own, then you can expect to be passed up by people who have embraced their dependency and are marching, some sprinting, to the trailhead of your path. What awaits you when you arrive at your destination? Whatever it is, fortune or failure, it comes from those who passed you on the trail.

Independent people refuse to be dependent on anyone, or anything, because it can be an Achilles heel; dependency is a double-edge sword and when you’re hacking and chopping away at the underbrush, you could sweep your own legs out from under you.

If you’re like me, Sixty-five, unfollowed and have managed to live this long then you must be doing something right. I know I wasn’t followed, because until now, no one had ever heard of me.

I’m Jeremiah Johnson, the war veteran who walked off into the wilderness and dropped off the grid, tired of war, tired of intolerant people in general, who refuse to go along to get along.

I can live without electricity, can you? There is no electricity in the wilderness and Winter is Coming.

 

 

There is no cure for PTSD

I’ve lived with PTSD for 50-years but I wasn’t alone in my grief.

Everyone who has come in contact with me has sensed an underlying tension. It’s true. That tension, for me, was the only constant in my life; it’s a non-stop buzzing feeling, like there is an electrical current running through my spine and I know this because when I’m perfectly still, I can feel the pressure, especially those moments when the current cuts out and the buzzing-feeling and tingly sensation in my spine stops and my inner ear is calm.

This occurs at the atomic level and my subconscious and aside from the buzzing it is imperceptible until a thing triggers a spasm or episode and then the roiling begins, that I choose to either feed or suppress, it’s my choice. These triggers produce a range of behaviors from mild annoyance to rage.

I have suppressed the PTSD my whole life, internalizing my anger by allowing it to be a vanguard to difficult situations; fight or flight were the only options anymore. So I grew up using a defensive posture approach to everything and my passive-agression would enable me to execute a sudden disappearance without so much as a goodbye if I felt unsafe.

I’ll spare you the details, so let me just say I was traumatized as a child from years of physical abuse before becoming a ward of the State of California as a minor and then undergoing years of sexual/physical abuse by my keepers. Juvenile halls are the worse but they are also a bootcamp for a young life.

Alas, all I’m left with is my anger. I don’t know its origins. I suppose its a result of suppression of my courage to shout down those who would do me harm. I’ve lived with it my entire life and to say it had a profound impact on my life’s choices is a gross understatement.

I see my life and the way it began, as a bicycle race. When the gun sounded I fell down. By the time I recovered and got back in the race, I never saw the Peloton again. I just kept peddling. It turns out my race was a little different; it came with a view. Instead of keeping my head down and pushing ahead, I took my sweet time and enjoyed the ride.

I turned inward for direction, and to mollify my spirit and my ego, I invested heavily in my own two hands.

Between my hands and eyes is the space where my mind lives. It’s also the most comfortable space I possess, where I am the most productive and creative, but more importantly, it’s my defense against dementia. To keep my mind sharp, I force it to solve the mysteries of life, to overcome challenges at every turn, and I have a voracious appetite for knowledge; when my hands aren’t making something, I’m reading about what my hands could be doing if they weren’t holding a book or typing at the keyboard.

PTSD is a toxic waste of time unless you can harness its energy.

 

Medical Marijuana for Anxiety; mind the gap

There exists a gulf of misinformation regarding the efficacy of medical marijuana as we’ve seen on the internet and since no two people will react the same in every medical situation yours will be unique and I can only speak for myself.

I knew what I was getting into after reading Carlos Castaneda as a freshman in high school. I was first introduced to the spiritual component of mind altering substances in written word first, before seeking the path first hand.

The difference between seeking and seeing is a K; as in Knew.

I knew going in I would not come out the other end the same man, that forces would work for and against me, at every fork in my path. The forks represent the billions of choices I’ve made over a life of sixty-plus-years of carving out my own pathway and none were regrettable because everyone of them lead me right here.

I celebrate myself anymore because of my longevity. I never could have imagined when I was thirteen that I would be singing When I’m Sixty-Four at sixty-four and yet, here I am singing a song recorded fifty years ago today, written by a man as a tribute to his own father who had just turned sixty-four.

My father could have never prepared me for life as I know it. He couldn’t begin to imagine the kind of world I would grow up in when he was thirteen and living on a working farm in Winters, California. I know very little about my father, but I do know he spent a year living in a sanitarium for tuberculosis and probably thought to himself on more than one occasion he would never live to be sixty-four.

My father suffered his first heart attack at sixty-three but would live to play golf until he was eighty-five. He never lived until he turned sixty-four, whereas I started living when I was thirteen and therein lies the gap.

I prayed spiritually for guidance when I was lost but my father’s ego wouldn’t allow him to admit it when he didn’t know which way to turn, so my father grew up isolated and alone, even after he’d married and had eight children, he never stopped searching for meaning in life. He found it though, in grandchildren, and that lasted just a few years before he died of a broken heart; realizing late in life that giving love is so much more satisfying than receiving.

Should the US Gov Fund NFL Marijuana Research?

The National Football League (NFL) will begin funding studies of medical marijuana (medijuana) if they’re to push back on any notion that administering psychoactive drugs to the talent won’t be the undoing of the NFL.

The NFL will have to be prepared to meet the Players’ challenge in a court of law going forward and using trite, fear-induced soundbites is no defense.

This will be a good thing for the medijuana industry and its patient community because there is a lot of willful ignorance regarding this subject that is destroying people’s lives.

The NFL is a business of magnitude and to protect its investment they will fund the science that will either prove or disprove medijuana’s efficacy. It would be in everyone’s best interest if the US government financed the NFL medical marijuana study.

This will be the first serious look at marijuana for pain relief and the American government should be involved. What better platform than the NFL, a sports franchise, that includes a standard for a full-spectrum of pain management using both simple and complex marijuana compounds for relief from the deadly opioids doctors are so quick to dispense.

At some point, the US Government must take the reins on the research and development of marijuana and its impending impact on the American economy because as each state legalizes pot and it swiftly finds its way into American business, Federal employees have to get on the same page as their state counterparts.

The American government’s reluctance to get behind this medijuana movement is a crippling force for some military veterans like me looking for relief, who are forced to compromise and hide our ‘criminal behavior’, purposefully keeping it from our doctors who cannot, by law, discuss this aspect of our treatment. That’s criminal.

 

So I pay out of pocket for my own treatment. I self-medicate and my VA doctor is clueless about what my needs are. I question a VA doctor’s judgement if they’re making decisions for treatment if the patient is purposefully withholding information.

Imagine if a VA doctor could ask, why?

Stop Smoking, Live Longer

It’s easy to quit, I’ve done it a thousand times. I quit 31-years ago and never looked back.

It takes three days for the body to forget nicotine and in that small window of opportunity is your chance to quit for good.

The question is, do you possess mind over matter?

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Quitting cigarettes begins in the mind weeks before your declaration to stop. It becomes necessary to deconstruct every occasion you spend smoking if you are to destroy your defense of smoking.

Mind over matter can be a healing process for some and a crutch for others. You can use the mind for good or bad, you need only make up your mind.

Once you commit, you have to destroy any notion that smoking cigarettes is a positive thing. It isn’t. It never was, but the tobacco companies did everything in their power to suck you in to their poisonous vortex by glamorizing tobacco with its use in film, television, and literature.

Brainwashed into thinking smoking is cool, like James Dean.

Smoking isn’t cool. It’s deadly in the hands of the user and assaults the senses of everyone around, especially your kids.

Medical Marijuana. Got Help?

If you’re like me and you have a prescription for medical marijuana (Mm), you prolly have a million questions and struggle to find answers. Couple that with the fact that you’re are under the influence of a psychoactive drug.

It’s been my experience, the real roadblock with Mm is the stigmatism associated with recreational marijuana (Rm) and the role its played in American culture.

These are two distinct cultures and unfortunately, they blend.

In the Mm realm my approach has been a “sober” one because the costs can be prohibitive with no insurance, forcing me to tightly govern the expense of my treatment. It can get out of control very easily and that’s a Buzzkill.

I am a veteran and a pariah to the VA where I am forced to conceal my prescription and treatment by my civilian doctors. Never the ‘Twain shall meet!

And don’t get me started on Arizona’s outrageous annual fees that have to be absorbed into my household budget. I see no relief anytime soon. When Governor Brewer initially implemented the Mm program they never anticipated the demand that would follow and these fees quickly ballooned into a surplus million-dollar revenue stream, none of which is getting back to the community. It’s disgraceful.

Mm is regulated in Arizona and an ounce can cost as much as $400 from one dispensary and $150 in another. The names of strains and the pricing is inconsistent from one store to the next, so you really don’t know what you’re getting.

What concerns me more than anything is the proliferation of the chemical processes to produce concentrated Mm and without regulation or oversight at the Federal level, I could easily be poisoning myself and might not know it for years; like cigarettes.

With the advent of legalized marijuana becoming normalized, I fear Arizona will follow suit and the quality and integrity of these products will suffer, exposing me to risk and possible injury.

These are the things that keep me up at night. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I know where to look and if you’re interested, we can look together.

I have been self-medicating with Mm since the Sixties. When others were getting high for the pure spectacle, I was treating my anxiety and depression, and staving off my hunger pangs, just to get through another day.

I have come a long way since 1967 and the only thing I can say for certain, there is no cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve lived with it my who life. It was my divorce that sent me over the edge, forcing me to confront my situation. I sought help. I gave myself up to the doctors of the Veteran’s Administration for seventeen-years of therapy and treatment and I can say without equivocation from a treatment standpoint, it was a complete waste of time.

I still suffer from depression and anxiety and nothing they prescribed was lasting. That’s my point. The pills never last and they’ll kill you if you suddenly stop taking them, it’s insanity.

The only aspect of my treatment that inspired me was the one-on-one with the psychologists of the VA for which I spent hundreds of hours examining the very things that troubled me. They have a lot to offer in the way of helping you cope. But the help is limited unless you are willing to ask and answer key questions about the underlying tension that governs your life.