Tuesday 25 August 2015
I have a friend who is a veteran. He fought in the Bosnian War. Usually, the war itself doesn't phase me. I mean, which war that is. There are so many, and in my opinion, none of them warranted. But this one is different.
I was in high school during this one, and my friend Jane had a boyfriend who was right in the midst of it. I remember she called him once and in the background she could hear bombs dropping. Now, you must remember that my life and Jane's life revolved around teenage stuff; her friend's life revolved around survival.
For those inside of wars that's all it's about. Day by day by day just trying to survive. And we believe in our western comforts that when that war is over, so is the sentiment of mere survival. But that's not the case at all is it? We now know that the war lives on.
The war lives in moments of daydreaming, it lives in the sounds of fireworks. War comes alive at night in some dreams. And it stays alive in the scar tissues of the perpetually aching wounds that do heal over .. on the surface. Prostheses are fitted and when that pant leg goes back down, we believe that life goes on. We believe that a pension and some flair removes that survival sentiment. We believe that pride and the societal gratitude for their service fills their heart with comfort. Out to pasture go our veterans, free to live the rest of their days in peace. If only that were the case.
School children playing can sound like shrieks of fear. People rushing, tires screeching can sound like the memory of an attack. And squares on the calendar that mean so little to you and I, can represent annual reminders of moments of terror.
From time to time my friend the veteran shares with me. I know not when it comes, the words shared when I least expect them. But I always lean in, always stop what I'm doing and concentrate on this fragmented testament from a hero who remains to this day, blameless in all of this. He tells me this time of year is bad because it was September when they came home. Odd isn't that? That the date they came home is one that sticks in their grey matter the way a poisonous tick clings to its host. Why do you think that is? That question comes from another fragmented piece of this puzzle. My friend speaks of the many ways in which he and his regiment were and still are disrespected by the military. But how they were treated when they came home is for me a mystery, I dare not burden him with my need for clarification. My role isn't to get the details right. My role here is only to listen, to apologize, and to offer invisible support or perhaps a doobie when I have one.
I guess now I feel like taking on a role of advocate for him. I'd like to hug him but I fear that would be too much. Instead, I just try to support him. I don't really know how. I only know to keep the conversation light until he is ready. I don't dare ask questions. I don't even clarify details because he doesn't deserve to have to set the scene for any of us.
The platoon, the regiment, the squad or the group ... it has its mindset, it has its orders, it has its own mantra even. By its own design it is a supportive network of men and women that form a bond over time they say. That bond no doubt aids in that survival instinct. But in the moments now, as each of them tries to audit the memories that keep bubbling up, they realize that they are alone. The support of the squad isn't there anymore. That web, though invisible was made of the strongest silk. But is it now gone? Has it dissipated into thin air? It feels that way when each year they have to beg and grovel--or so it feels--for their pensions. Veterans who lost limbs have to prove their limbs haven't grown back in order to get what we all say they deserve. We all wear our yellow pins don't we? If pins were dollars maybe we'd have enough funds to give our men and women of the military what they need.
My heart is heavy at the moment for a man I never knew. Another veteran. Another soldier from my friend's regiment. He says now there's only two of them left. I think he feels the pressure of that to be honest. And in turn, I feel the pressure of worry for this friend of mine. Last week he received a phone call from a distraught widow. Her life, shattered. Her husband, gone fishing but never to return. How this conversation and many after it went, haunts my friend though he knows he did the right thing.
You see, this widow believes the web still exists. She like so many of us believe the bullshit Hollywood nonsense that show soldiers selflessly comforting the wives of their deceased brothers, as though they themselves aren't also on the verge. Hollywood shows strength and valor and unwavering pride. Is this what veterans feel? I'm not so sure. My friend was asked to go down East and bury this fellow soldier from his regiment. And when he hesitated she demanded it of him. At the moment he told me this, I was so torn between angst for him and angst for that widow. I wanted to protect him, but I wanted to comfort her. Her words cut into him, I saw this. But what did those words do to her as they left her lips? Did they tear through leaving a mark? Did she know as they were piercing the skin that she was wrong to say them? Grief can be the sharpest weapon we have.
My friend told her that he couldn't do it. Money and transportation aside, he literally could not do it. I fear that at the moment, his own scars of ptsd are held together with white knuckles. I see it in him some days, the war sits right beneath the surface. Those are the days that he doesn't share with me. Those are the days that he busies himself with anything that will take his attention away from the ongoing battle in his head. His decision to put himself first undoubtedly weighs on him too.
As a child, there was this one guy in our small town that went off to the military. His name was Pat. Pat is older than I am, but we shared a bottle of zambuca once at an outdoor family reunion many years ago. Alcohol can be like grease on a tire when it comes to words and sharing memories or traumas. While we sat staring at the fire, our faces burning but loving it still, Pat shared with me some of what he saw. He shared some of what he did. He shared with me the feelings, the smells, the noises. I think the noises were the worst and as we sat there, I could tell that he was still in that war. Whichever one it was. Can Pat ever be free of that survival sentiment? Can my friend ever be free of his memories? Can any of our veterans for whom we fly flags and wear pins and feel respect, really forget what they went through? And do we have any right to ask them to do it?
I'm learning that the answer to that question is no. And that leads me to another question about war and why we keep doing it. I wonder how parents can push their kids to be in that world, when they know they won't be supported after the duty is done. You know that right?
This issue is worldwide I think. If your country has a military, you're in this too. Your opinion of this is important. And how you use that opinion could be life shattering or life saving for millions of soldiers of varying ranks, ages, experiences, and disorders. The citizens of Canada make the rules. Election #42 is going to illustrate this. So while we're there, choosing a leader, I say we demand what we all know is right. Instead of building up the military with tanks and artillery and F35's, we need to make sure ALL of the veterans and people who took part in defending our freedoms are supported fully. Put the military spending where it should have always been! Otherwise, what's the point of wearing those little yellow pins?
Ask any veteran if those pins help him or her sleep at night.
Thank you to all who have served.
Monday 24 August 2015
My buddy from IllegallyHealed.com made the suggestion that I write about Tommy Chong and Donald Trump in competition for the position of President of the United States.
Check out the article here :)
Saturday 22 August 2015
Lemme tell ya ... I'ma changin' peeps.
I never used to cry ... cold was a word my mum used more than a few times when I pushed a hug or a kiss away as a child.
But as each year passes, I get warmer.
Now, depending on the day, time of month, or phase of the moon, I bleed emotions out of my eyes.
I hold them back instinctively ... that's what ya do.
We're taught that tears do no good but make you look weak, puffy, and blotchy.
But as each year passes, I lose that instinct.
Holding them back does nothing but ensure they come tomorrow, or next hour, or when another effin' Apple commercial hits a chord ! #fuapple
So I adapt. Buy bigger tissues. I use tissues twice the size of my noggin these days.
I might bring back the hanky!!
I've even started lettin' them flow in front of my hunni.
All he says is, "aw ... my sweetie's so sensitive".
Even when I get hopeful of future successes, the emotion comes out all salty n' soggy n' wet.
Screw tradition, screw social norms, and screw hiding your tears.
If I can bring back the hanky, I can make puffy & blotchy beautiful too.
Tuesday 18 August 2015
This is a personal anecdote from a friend regarding the intestinal health of her child. The process of elimination is a crucial one. And yet too many of us suffer daily with it, myself included! To think that integrating something as seemingly benign as rock salt from the Himalayan Mountains, could cure it would shock more than a few.
For one thing, this salt has been purifying it's chemical make up for 200 million years. Some people claim this is the purest form of salt. For another, it contains the very same 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in our bodies.
For generations, farmers who's constant oversight ensured a healthy flock, knew when mineral supplementation was needed because they would see the animals sucking or licking any metal they could find. According to my friend, the author of this anecdote, her wee one seemed to crave this salt once introduced to it, even loving it on pb & j sandwiches! This was written one year ago, and still applies today.
Here is the memory in mom's words ....
I have been anxiously awaiting to share this information with all of my friends... but I had to wait an entire two weeks just to be sure my testimonial would be completely accurate and it wasn't just some fluke.
Little Ryleigh (3 years old) has had digestion issues since birth ... and for over a year they have been awful. The doctors have run all sorts of procedures invasive and non-invasive with no luck on a diagnosis or even a clue as to what is wrong with her digestion tract. We have tried everything we could think of with no success... and Ryleigh continued to get sicker and sicker including puking everyday for 5 weeks in July/August. The doctors had her on a dose of ex-lax and miralax that was larger than an adult dose for a colonoscopy cleanse.... every laxative failed including this huge dose of the two combined. They decided it was time to send her to Seattle Children's Hospital for intestinal motility testing this past June and we have been waiting for that referral to go through and still trying everything imaginable to try and help her feel better and not be in pain everyday.
A friend of ours, sent us a message and suggested that we try to use pink Himalayan salt supplementation for her because it is packed full of minerals and things our bodies need. We decided to give it a shot starting on August 3rd.
We salt at least one part of each and every meal with pink salt (including her cereal in the morning). Within the first 2 days Ryleigh quit puking everyday (and hasn't puked at all in 2 weeks).... and on the second day she finally (for the first time in over a year) went potty on her own without laxatives or any of the other crazy things they wanted us to try! It has been a little over two weeks now and the benefits haven't disappeared at all! She is still completely regular... everyday with NO extra yukky horrible-for-you pharmaceuticals!
I called her nurse case manager last week and told her the good news... she had never heard of such a thing and wanted to ask her pediatrician... the pediatrician had never heard of anything like it before so she wanted me to call her GI doctor... called him and he had never heard of such a thing either.
And this my friends is why our medical system is so flawed. Through greed and control we have lost all sights of a balance between natural medicine and conventional medicine. I personally believe they work best in combination. Use pharma when natural fails.
My little girl had to experience so much pain... pain every single day in her tummy and bottom. We have spent the last year coddling to her and cuddling her constantly as she just doesn't feel good. All that suffering and the money spent trying to fix the problem.... I could have bought 20 years worth of pink Himalayan salt bottles with all that wasted money!
DON'T forget this valuable information friends... pink Himalayan salt is powerful and amazing.
Sunday 9 August 2015
My buddy has been working weekends in the hoity-toitiest restaurant/hotel in our city. I mean, it's the hilt of elitism feeding Himself Mr. Harper when he's here begging my fellow locals for donations. It's where Seinfeld apparently ate and stayed when he was here recently to perform. Each break would see my buddy outside checkin' out the crazy electric cars, as his employer allows free charging with a stay. The coolest was a Tesla no less... worth a lot of zero's.
Employment here, gives you mad discounts to use at this chain in other cities giving you a plush overnight stay for under $50. And of course there was the food. At this fancy restaurant that boasts $20,000 dinner services, everyone working eats for free. And I'm not talking eating the mistakes. I'm talking, ordering right off the menu or yes off the special board. We're talking steaks with red wine reductions and St. Andre's triple cream brie cheese atop prime cuts of beef seared to perfection. He habitually sampled the mashed potatoes every single shift, encouraged by the cooks because they valued his opinion. Buddy ate some pretty amazing meals .. in between loads .. sweating his arse off. As enjoyable as it is to rub shoulders with musicians and socialites, the dish room sucks. It's hard work with a lot of sweating, so it's a draining shift at the best of times.
In addition to this gig, my friend just started at L*blaws stocking shelves on the overnight shift. It's this new gig that has me writing. Two overnights stocking shelves and my friend is ready to hand in his dish towel, and I can't say I blame him. Stocking shelves is a unionized position along with all other positions aside from management, and it pays $1.75 more an hour with a guaranteed raise in three months, and a store discount. I work with someone who has worked at the same job for six years and is still at minimum wage. If there were no minimum wage laws, he'd likely still be making around $7 an hour. Being unionized adds a certain layer of security that the dish room in that hoity toity restaurant cannot ever provide. Hourly waged employment usually means you eventually will find yourself fighting for hours. A union assures that my friend will get as many hours as he wants along with a whole other level of protection assuring his employment rights are respected.
To his surprise, the shift was broken up into two hour work increments. Two 15 minute paid breaks during which everyone follows the horn and goes at the same time. One half hour unpaid break where some people leave for a burger at the nearby golden arches. The work is physically demanding, but clean, engaging, and somewhat rewarding. I've done similar jobs, and when you've stocked and faced an entire section of shelving, the results are instant. It feels good. Clean dishes felt good to him too, but they get dirty soooo quickly :)
The point of this post is this:
In 2015, a good job is not necessarily what we thought it was and too often, rights like breaks are forgotten. I see everywhere, small business owners wanting our compassion and patronage, while they massage labor code to suit their needs. "Sorry, you don't get your break today because whatshername didn't show up so we're short staffed." That shit doesn't happy everywhere, but it seems that the tables have been turned by capitalism to forget that this is a team. The employee-employer relationship is a precarious one. It used to be more important than it is today. It has suffered, but nonetheless it is a team. Or at least it should be dammit! :)
It's shocking, but in 2015 an example of a reliable job where employment standards are followed, and appreciation is shown, is under the golden arches. The pitfall is that you're feeding the world crap and you will forevermore smell like a french fry. But who am I to talk? I'm a bartender, meaning I sell people poison that tastes good.
I guess, in closing I'll just say that we (myself included) too often dismiss certain jobs seeing the grass greener over there. But by the time you get over there, that green grass could look totally different. I guess, don't diss it til ya try it eh?